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Islamic World News ( 28 Dec 2021, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Authorities In Egypt Facing Backlash For Their Plan To 'Modernise' Muslims Holy Book, Quran

New Age Islam News Bureau

29 December 2021

  

Writing a modern interpretation of the Holy Quran/ Photo: Abna News Agency

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• Those Calling For A Genocide Of Muslims Are In Effect Calling For A Full-Scale Civil War, Says Naseeruddin Shah

• Selangor Islamic Council Bans Politicians And Political Operatives Teaching Islam

• Islamophobia In France: Another Mosque Ordered Closed In Paris For Allegedly Radical Preaching Of Its Imam

• New Diktat Of The Taliban: No Display Of The Heads Of Female Mannequins, Music In Cars, Taxis

 Arab World

• PKK terrorist presence in northwest Iraq prevents Turkmen villagers from going home

• Iraq nabs 6 Daesh/ISIS militants coming from Syria

• Lebanon prime minister calls for dialogue to improve ties with Gulf states

• Saudi-led military aggression on Yemen now in final stage, senior Ansarullah official says

• Iraq: Shia militia boycotts efforts to form government

• Lebanon’s premier expects draft deal with IMF within weeks

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India

• Hyderabad Mosque, In Collaboration With Helping Hand Foundation, Sets Up 40-Bed Centre For The Homeless 

• After Muslims, Christians Target Of Hindutva Brigade: Senior Congress Leader

• MP: Pastor, Muslim Held In Separate Cases Of Forced Conversion

• Two years ago, still relevant: Shashi Tharoor on old post comparing Hinduism, Hindutva

• Pak terrorist killed accomplice Mudasir, tried to escape using Altaf Bhat as human shield: SIT probe

• Day after realty summit, Kashmir parties slam attempt to ‘change demography’

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Southeast Asia

• Court Rules Vernacular Schools Constitutionally Protected, Throws Out Malay-Muslim Group’s Suit

• Putrajaya mulls postponing Malaysians’ Umrah trips if Omicron escalates in future

• Will turn away stricken boat of Rohingya refugees, says Indonesia

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South Asia

• Threat of narco-terrorism rise after Taliban takeover of Afghanistan

• No Threat From Afghanistan’s Borders To Region: Taliban Reacted To Putin’s Concerns

• Turkey, Qatar await Taliban green light to run airports

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Pakistan

• University Of Agriculture Faisalabad Sub-Campus Bans Jeans, Issues Dress Code For Its Male And Female Students

• LHC chief justice orders submission of challan in Sialkot lynching case

• Sheikh Shahriari: Muslim world victories owed to wise leadership of Supreme Leader

• Spoilers cannot harm Pakistan's strong ties with Iran: Religious Minister

• Taliban flexes muscles to backer Pakistan: What’s their difference point?

• PPP opposes any deal with extremists, militants

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Europe

• Human Rights Abuses In Yemen Won’t Continue With Impunity: UN

• UN bodies call on Yemen’s Houthis to immediately release detained staff

• Turkish Embassy in Poland attacked with Molotov cocktails

• Turkish defence minister receives honorary Bosnian citizenship

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Mideast

• Senior Iranian Cleric Underlines Importance of Positive, Constructive Interaction among Religions, Denominations

• Hamas: Israeli settlement plan in occupied Golan ‘new form of aggression against Arabs’

• ICRO head stresses more cultural coop. between Iran, China

• Erdoğan urges Muslims to unite in face of rising Islamophobia

• Iran to Produce Helium at South Pars

• Senior Analyst: France Playing Bad Cop Role in Vienna Talks, Iran Should Use Leverages

• Israel’s defence minister meets with Palestinian president

• Iran, Russia upbeat about progress of nuclear talks in Vienna

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Africa

• Libya parliament proposes delaying presidential polls by 6 months

• Ethiopia's Tigray taps Muslim past in propaganda push

• Coups, civil wars, pandemic, terrorism dominated Africa in 2021

• Parliamentary panel wants Libya’s executive authority restructured

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North America

• US Creates Commission To Assess Two-Decade War In Afghanistan

• Iran is dragging its feet, accelerating nuclear program: US State Department

• US condemns Iran-backed Houthis militia’s continued attacks on Saudi Arabia

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:    https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/egypt-modernise-muslims-holy-book-quran-/d/126057

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Authorities In Egypt Facing Backlash For Their Plan To 'Modernise' Muslims Holy Book, Quran

 

Writing a modern interpretation of the Holy Quran/ Photo: Abna News Agency

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December 29, 2021

Authorities in Egypt are facing backlash for their plan to 'modernise' Muslims Holy Book, Quran. An Egyptian author and journalist criticized a proposal being discussed by the country’s Senate on writing a modern interpretation of the Holy Quran.

Yusuf Sayyid Amer, head of the Senate’s religious committee, has submitted the proposal, saying the new interpretation will highlight Islam’s moderation and counters extremism.

It would provide an answer to certain Hadiths that extremist groups refer to in order to justify their ideologies, Amer added.

Qutb al-Arabi, the author and journalist, wrote in a piece carried by Arabi21 website that silence on such a proposal is not possible because it has been put forward by politicians and government officials, not by scholars and experts.

He said manipulation of the most sacred Muslim text, namely the Quran, with the aim of serving governments and rulers is not acceptable.

“Who could accept tying of the verses of the Quran to serving unjust policies or presenting distorted understandings to cover and justify abnormal phenomena in society in order to satisfy international pressure groups?” he wondered.

He described the proposal put forward by Amer and endorsed by the country’s Awqaf minister and grand Mufti as being in line with the lies on a “new state” that President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi and the media have been talking about.

Al-Arabi said I is based on these lies, Sisi built a new capital and seeks to market a new identity for it.

This pharaonic identity is being presented as an alternative to the current Arab-Islamic identity, he stated, adding that one cannot rule out that a new flag and national anthem will soon be announced for it as well.

Source: ABNA24

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

https://en.abna24.com/news//egypt-authorities-faces-backlash-for-their-plan-to-modernise-quran_1213443.html

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Those Calling For A Genocide Of Muslims Are In Effect Calling For A Full-Scale Civil War, Says Naseeruddin Shah

 

Naseeruddin Shah/File photo

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29.12.21

Actor Naseeruddin Shah has said those calling for a genocide of Muslims are in effect calling for a full-scale civil war.

In an interview to The Wire seeking his opinion on the genocide calls, Shah told Karan Thapar: “I wonder if these people know what they are talking about. What they are calling for is a full-scale civil war. Two-hundred million of us are not going to get wiped out that easily. Two-hundred million of us are going to fight back. Two-hundred million of us claim this to be our motherland. Two-hundred million of us belong here; we were born here, generations of our families have lived here and died here. I’m certain that if any such movement begins, it will be met with a massive resistance and a massive amount of anger.”

Angry and resentful at the manner in which Muslims are in the process of being reduced to second-class citizens, Shah added: “This is an attempt to spread a phobia among the Muslims, and the Muslims must not give into it…. We must not admit that this is frightening us because if it comes to the crunch, we will fight back…. Because we are defending our homes, we are defending our homeland, we are defending our families, we are defending our children.… I am not talking of our beliefs, beliefs very easily get threatened.”

Echoing a view that the attempt to marginalise Muslims has sanction from the very top of the government, the actor said: “What is happening here is a concerted attempt to make Muslims feel insecure. It is starting from the very top where Aurangzeb is being invoked…. Separatism has become a policy for the ruling party. I was curious to see what would happen to these guys (those who delivered the hate speeches). The fact that nothing happened to them is not surprising because nothing happened to the guy whose son trampled farmers.…’’

Shah said he was not surprised at the state of affairs. “It’s not entirely surprising. It is worrisome but that is more or less what we expected. I did fear that it would come to this though I must say that how things have turned out are worse than anyone’s worst expectations. We have a leader who keeps silent in the face of such provocation.”

Earlier this week, several Supreme Court lawyers wrote to the Chief Justice of India urging him to take suo motu cognisance of hate speeches calling for a genocide of Muslims to achieve ethnic cleansing. The letter cited the Dharam Sansad in Haridwar and a meeting in Delhi between December 17 and 19 and named nine persons against whom action should be taken on the basis of videos of their hate speeches.

In the letter, the 76 signatories said the comments were not just hate speeches but they “amount to an open call for murder of an entire community”, adding that they “pose a grave threat not just to the unity and integrity of our country but also endanger the lives of millions of Muslim citizens”.

The letter pointed out that no effective steps had been taken in the case of earlier hate speeches also. “Thus, urgent judicial intervention is required to prevent such events that seem to have become the order of the day.’’

The signatories to the letter included Dushyant Dave, Prashant Bhushan, Salman Khurshid, Raju Ramachandran, P.V. Surendranath, Shalini Gera and Nayantara Roy.

Source: Telegraph India

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

https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/calls-for-genocide-could-lead-to-civil-war-says-naseeruddin-shah/cid/1845273

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Selangor Islamic Council Bans Politicians And Political Operatives Teaching Islam

 

Mais chairperson Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof

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December 29, 2021

PETALING JAYA: Politicians and political operatives are no longer allowed to teach Islam in Selangor, effective January 1, 2022.

Selangor Islamic Council (Mais) in a statement said their accreditation (tauliah) will be revoked effective Dec 31, and that no further accreditation will be given to those who are politically active.

Mais chairperson Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof(pix) said this is in line with the degree of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah barring Islam from being politicised and used as a political tool, especially in mosques and surau.

However, an exemption has been given to whoever holds the Islamic affairs portfolio in Selangor, on the condition that any teachings on Islam do not include or touch on any political matters.

The decision to bar politicians from teaching Islam in Selangor was first made in the Selangor Royal Court council in March 2019 and reaffirmed in August.

Teaching Islam without accreditation in Selangor is in violation of Selangor’s Syariah laws and is punishable with a fine of up to RM3,000 or two years’ jail or both.

Abdul Aziz said this punishment also applies to those who would insult, disobey, or question the Selangor sultan’s decrees in relation to Islam, as he is the head of religion in the state.

Source: The Sun Daily

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

https://www.thesundaily.my/home/selangor-bans-politicians-teaching-islam-CD8702646

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Islamophobia In France: Another Mosque Ordered Closed In Paris For Allegedly Radical Preaching Of Its Imam

 

A large mosque in Beauvais Town, in northern Paris, was ordered shut (Photo: Pars Today)

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28 December 2021

France has ordered the suspension of a mosque for six months over what the government has called inciting “violence” and “hatred.”

The prefecture of the Oise region announced on Tuesday that the large mosque in Beauvais Town, in northern Paris, was ordered shut because of the allegedly radical preaching of its imam.

Local authorities were legally obliged to gather detailed information about the accusations in a 10-day period before taking action but told AFP news agency on Tuesday that the mosque would be shut within two days.

The move comes after Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announced two weeks ago that he had “set in motion” the procedure for the administrative closure of the mosque because of its imam’s “unacceptable preachings.”

According to Samim Bolaky, a lawyer for Hope and Fraternity organization, which runs the mosque, the imam was suspended from his duties following the prefecture’s letter. The lawyer said that he had appealed against the decision to the administrative court.

Bolaky stressed that certain remarks by the imam had been “taken out of context.” He added that Hope and Fraternity had “always fought terrorism... [and] always promoted living together.”

However, Darmanin rejected the lawyer’s claims, saying that the imam’s remarks “present Western societies as Islamophobic.”

The French government announced earlier this year that it would set in regular checks and controls for Islamic associations that are suspected of radical preaching. The French Interior Ministry claimed that about 100 mosques and Muslim prayer halls had been investigated in recent months, and 25 mosques had been closed over the alleged spreading of “separatist” ideology.

The crackdown came in the wake of the murder of French teacher Samuel Paty, who provoked anger in the Muslim community by showing his students defamatory cartoons of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, earlier published by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2021/12/28/673573/Another-mosque-ordered-closed-in-Paris

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New Diktat Of The Taliban: No Display Of The Heads Of Female Mannequins, Music In Cars, Taxis

 

An Afghan woman exits a convenience shop in Kabul, Afghanistan, Image Source : AP

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December 29, 2021

In a new diktat, the Taliban have now directed all shop owners to not display the heads of female mannequins. An official in the Directorate of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in western Herat province in Afghanistan said posing and looking at the face of such mannequins is against the Islamic Sharia law and hence the heads of all such mannequins should be cut off.

The instruction comes a day after the group in Kabul issued guidance advising taxi drivers not to offer drive to unveiled women without close male relatives.

A number of shopkeepers in Herat raised concerns against the instructions and said that the Taliban are making their life more difficult with each passing day.

The shopkeepers said that they had bought each mannequin for $100-$200 and now they have to cut their heads off.

Ali Ahmad, one Herati shopkeeper, said, "Actually, these mannequins are my only belongings now, and now with this new order I have to cut their heads off. It is a great loss for me," as per the report.

In a further move restricting women's freedom in Afghanistan, the Taliban have said that women seeking to travel more than 72 km should not be offered transport unless they are accompanied by a close male relative.

An advisory distributed by the Taliban's Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice also directed all vehicle drivers to refrain from playing music in their cars, and not to pick up female passengers who do not wear an Islamic hijab covering their hair.

Ministry spokesman Mohammad Sadiq Akif confirmed the authenticity of the advisory on December 26.

A taxi driver in Kabul, who did not want to be named, said that for some time now armed Taliban men have been urging taxi drivers not to play music in their cars or take women without a hijab.

Exiled Afghan legal expert Haroun Rahimi criticised the Taliban's directive, saying it means taxi drivers will effectively be in a position to "police Afghan women's bodies and mobility", the report said.

Protests break out against new Taliban laws

Meanwhile, several dozen Afghan women on Tuesday protested against the new directives of the Taliban putting limitations on their movement. Women protestors said that the Islamic Emirate is keeping women away from society by imposing limitations and called for their rights to education, employment and social freedom to be honoured, reported Tolo News.

They used the slogans "we are the voice of hungry people" and "we are awake, we hate discrimination."

"How can we find a relative to go outside in urgent moments? They said 'we are not responsible for your food,' so pay our salaries and we can eat, we are not the women of two decades ago, we will not be silent," said Wida, a protestor, reported Tolo News.

The Islamic Emirate should not remove women from society, they said.

"We gathered to raise voices against restrictions imposed on women; our schools are closed, they took away working opportunities, now they ordered us not to go out of our homes alone, they are talking about the rights described by Islam. Does Islam order that a nation should be hungry, does Islam say to forbid girls from education?" said Shayesta, a protestor.

The protestors called on the international community to not ignore Afghan women.

"We are half of the society, we are human, we have the right to education and to work, I ask the international community to not recognize this government," said Zahra, a protestor.

The protest of Afghan women did not last a long time as the Islamic Emirate's forces fired into the air to disperse the protesters.

Meanwhile, the Taliban officials said that women can have rights based on Islamic regulations.

"The Islamic Emirate supreme leader, Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada, issued a decree on women which covers all (aspects of) women's lives," said Bilal Karimi, Deputy spokesman of Islamic Emirate.

Source: India TV

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

https://www.indiatvnews.com/news/world/taliban-bans-display-of-mannequin-heads-shops-afghanistan-women-protest-taxi-music-banned-751700

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Arab World

 

PKK terrorist presence in northwest Iraq prevents Turkmen villagers from going home

Ali Makram Ghareeb 

29.12.2021

KIRKUK, Iraq

Four years after Daesh/ISIS terrorists were completely driven out of northwestern Iraq, Iraqi Turkmen who were forced to flee their villages near the city of Tal Afar are still afraid to return out of fear of persecution by PKK militants.

These Turkmens are afraid of returning to their villages in Tal Afar city surroundings because of the presence of the PKK terror group in Sinjar, a town in northern Iraq's Nineveh Governorate, said Nurettin Kaplan, a member of the Iraqi Turkmen Front's (ITC) Executive Board, on Tuesday.

As long as the terrorist organization elements exist on Mount Sinjar, neither the Sinjar district center nor Tal Afar and its villages will be secure, peaceful and stable, Kaplan told Anadolu Agency.

He explained how Turkmens in villages captured by the Daesh/ISIS terrorist group in 2014 were forced to flee their homes, saying that despite the fact that Mosul and its surrounding region had been liberated completely from Daesh/ISIS terrorists four years ago, people could not return to their homes due to the PKK's presence in Sinjar.

"The total population of these villages was about 30,000," Kaplan asserted, referring to Turkmen communities who also lived in areas between Tal Afar and Sinjar. People are concerned about the PKK violence, despite the fact that their villages have been free of the Daesh/ISIS terrorist organization.

PKK must leave Sinjar

Kaplan said, “Thousands of Turkmen are struggling for their survival as migrants in various cities of the country. The PKK must leave Sinjar so that people can come home."

Calling on the Iraqi forces to ensure the region's security, he stressed that thousands of Turkmen who have been migrated for years want to return home.

The PKK is the region's biggest source of instability and disorder, according to Kaplan, who also requested that Sinjar be freed from the PKK, as it had previously been secured from Daesh/ISIS.

The PKK terror group managed to establish a foothold in the region in 2014 under the pretext of protecting the local Yazidi community from the Daesh/ISIS terror group.

Yazidis escaped Sinjar after Daesh/ISIS took control of the region.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is its Syrian branch.

How PKK terrorists deploy to Sinjar?

Thousands of people, including women and children, were killed and kidnapped by Daesh/ISIS terrorists who raided the Sinjar district on August 3, 2014, where the majority of Yazidis live.

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/pkk-terrorist-presence-in-northwest-iraq-prevents-turkmen-villagers-from-going-home/2459913

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Iraq nabs 6 Daesh/ISIS militants coming from Syria

Ibrahim Saleh  

28.12.2021

BAGHDAD

Iraqi security forces arrested six militants from the Daesh/ISIS terrorist group while attempting to cross border from Syria into Iraq, according to the country’s interior ministry on Tuesday.

A ministry statement said the militants were ambushed in Rabi'a district, north of Nineveh province in northern Iraq.

The ministry said one of the captured militants had fled from prison in Nineveh, without giving any further details.

Iraq shares 1,000-kilometer borders with Syria, where the Daesh/ISIS and PKK terror groups having active presence.

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/iraq-nabs-6-daesh-isis-militants-coming-from-syria/2459542

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Lebanon prime minister calls for dialogue to improve ties with Gulf states

Stephanie Radi 

28.12.2021

BEIRUT, Lebanon

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Tuesday called for national dialogue to enhance relations with the Gulf countries.

“It’s important to have an internal understanding through a dialogue table to strengthen Lebanon's relationships with the Arab states, especially the Gulf," Mikati told a press conference in Beirut.

He underlined the necessity “not to insult these countries or meddle in their domestic affairs."

The Lebanese premier also called for abiding by the “policy of dissociation to preserve our country and protects its ties with the international community and Arab world."

A diplomatic crisis erupted between Lebanon and Gulf nations over former Information Minister George Kordahi’s criticism of the Yemen war before assuming his portfolio.

Kordahi resigned on Dec. 3 in an effort to heal the rift with the Gulf nations.

Meanwhile, Mikati described the suspension of the cabinet meetings as a “structural defect in the government’s work that can neither be ignored nor overlooked."

On Oct. 13, a cabinet session was postponed indefinitely, following the insistence of ministers affiliated with the Shia Hezbollah group and Amal movement to hold a discussion on the Beirut port blast case, in an effort to disqualify the judicial investigator, Judge Tarek Bitar, whom they accuse of politicizing the investigation into the explosion.

No ministerial session has been held since that date.

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/lebanon-prime-minister-calls-for-dialogue-to-improve-ties-with-gulf-states/2459447

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Saudi-led military aggression on Yemen now in final stage, senior Ansarullah official says

29 December 2021

A senior member of Yemen’s popular Ansarullah resistance movement says Yemeni army troops and fighters from allied Popular Committees have made notable achievements in their battle against Saudi-led coalition forces and their mercenaries, and that the Yemeni retaliatory military operations will continue until the entire Yemeni territories are liberated.

Speaking in a Clubhouse interview with Lebanon’s Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network on Tuesday, Mohammed al-Bukhaiti said the Saudi-led war on Yemen was now in its final stage, and that it was by no means in the best interests of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to prolong the military aggression.

He added that Saudi-led coalition forces and their mercenaries are on the verge of defeat in Yemen’s western coastal province of Hudaydah, stating that the troops have withdrawn from most of their locations there and taken away their ammunition.

The Yemeni official said members of Saudi-led alliance view their weapons and military equipment more valuable than their mercenaries.

Bukhaiti added that Yemeni retaliatory military operations would continue until complete liberation of the entire Yemeni lands, saying, “We will not stop as long as the aggression and siege continue.”

The member of Yemen's Supreme Political Council said Yemeni armed forces could now manufacture various homegrown anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles.

He noted that indigenous Yemeni drones and winged missiles were much more destructive than fighter jets and warships belonging to the Saudi-led coalition, and that Yemeni armed forces currently produce sophisticated military hardware.

‘Yemeni armed forces now have the upper hand’

The top Ansarullah official said Yemeni army troops and fighters from allied Popular Committees now had the upper hand in battles against Saudi-led coalition forces and their mercenaries, stating that the latter has opted to lower the number of its forces in other Yemeni regions and particularly deploy them in the strategic oil-producing province of Ma’rib.

He added that the Riyadh regime and its allies were behind the rapid depreciation of the Yemeni riyal against foreign currencies and were enforcing a tight siege on Yemen’s gas and oil wells.

‘Yemen’s freedom, sovereignty intertwined with Palestine’s’

Elsewhere in his remarks, Bukhaiti made no distinction between Brigadier General Turki al-Malki, the spokesman of the Saudi-led coalition, and Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi, the  Israeli regime's army chief of staff.

“Our freedom and sovereignty in Yemen is intertwined with those of Palestine,” he pointed out.

The member of Yemen's Supreme Political Council finally advised Saudi Arabia and its allies to think of a peaceful solution to the Yemen crisis, calling on them to cease aggression against Yemen.

Saudi Arabia, backed by the United States and regional allies, launched the war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing Ansarullah movement.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2021/12/29/673603/Saudi-led-military-aggression-on-Yemen-now-in-its-final-stage,-senior-Ansarullah-official-says

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Iraq: Shia militia boycotts efforts to form government

December 28, 2021

Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq, a pro-Iran Shia militia, announced on Tuesday its boycott of efforts to form coalition government in the country after the High Federal Court ratified results of the October elections, Anadolu reported.

In a statement, Hezbollah said: "The sides which confiscated the rights of the Iraqi people were backed by the evil Zio-American-Saudi coalition in order to advance their agenda."

The statement also claimed that "Iraq's election commission was subject to the worst kind of abuse and Iraq's judicial authority was subject to coercion, threats and pressure by these groups."

According to the statement, the US ambassador and the UN representative to Iraq had exerted pressure on the Iraqi authorities and Iraqi court.

"This led to the Federal Court of Iraq to surrender to them and reject the calls for cancelling the elections, despite evidence and objections provided by the protesting coalitions," the statement said.

Hezbollah Brigades is part of a Shia coalition that includes the State of Law party and others. However, it is the only one that has so far declared its boycott of the efforts to form a new government.

"The objections we lodged with the Federal Court were firm, logical and acceptable and they would be enough to annul the results of the election, if they were submitted to courts in any country where democracy is respected," the statement read.

Iraq's Supreme Court on Monday ratified the parliamentary election results after it had rejected earlier appeals by Iran-backed Shia factions against the results.

Source: Middle East Monitor

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

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20211228-iraq-shia-militia-boycotts-efforts-to-form-government/

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Lebanon’s premier expects draft deal with IMF within weeks

28 December ,2021

Lebanon’s prime minister said Tuesday that his government’s talks with the International Monetary Fund are inching closer to a “final formula” for a draft on an agreement before the end of February.

Najib Mikati said the Cabinet — which has not met since Oct. 12 — was doing “its homework” ahead of talks with the IMF in mid-January.

An IMF delegation will visit Lebanon again in late January or early February to lay out “the final formula for the agreement with them and then we will announce to the Lebanese where we stand,” Mikati said.

Lebanon is in the throes of an economic crisis described as one of the worst in the world in the last 150 years. International financial institutions call it a deliberate depression, blaming Lebanon’s political elite, in power for decades, of mismanaging the country’s resources.

Speaking at a press conference in Beirut on Monday, Mikati said that Lebanon’s central bank Gov. Riad Salameh, who is being investigated in at least four countries including Switzerland and France for potential money laundering and embezzlement, would stay in office for the time being.

“During wars you don’t change officers,” said Mikati, who took office in September. He has often described the efforts to resolve Lebanon’s economic crisis — the worst in its modern history — as a war.

Salameh, 71, once praised as the guardian of Lebanon’s financial stability, has drawn scrutiny and much criticism since the small country’s economic meltdown began two years ago. But the country’s ruling class has largely rallied around him.

An agreement with the IMF will have to be approved by the government. Deep disagreements had divided the Lebanese delegation during last year’s negotiations with the IMF, with the government on one side and the central bank and local lenders on the other.

Mikati spoke hours after President Michel Aoun called for an end to the 11-week government deadlock that has undermined state institutions.

The Lebanese government has not been able to meet since mid-October, after the militant Hezbollah group demanded the removal of the lead judge investigating the massive explosion at the Beirut port last year.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/12/28/Lebanon-s-premier-expects-draft-deal-with-IMF-within-weeks

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India

 

Hyderabad Mosque, In Collaboration With Helping Hand Foundation, Sets Up 40-Bed Centre For The Homeless 

29th December 2021

HYDERABAD: As hundreds of homeless and abandoned people are suffering due to severe winter weather that is currently sweeping the state, a mosque in Rajendranagar, in collaboration with Helping Hand Foundation, has set up a 40-bed home for the aged and destitute.

This first-of-its-kind shelter for the abandoned people, which was officially launched on Tuesday, will have round-the-clock doctor’s attention, nursing and bedside care along with physiotherapy, dietician, support staff and ambulance services. The facility will deal will with 70 per cent geriatric cases and 30 per cent other destitute and abandoned people.

A clinical psychologist will also be available to counsel and help the patients fight stress. This facility, which is one of the few non-governmental centres to offer free services to the homeless and destitute regardless of their caste or faith, aims to maintain high standards of hygiene and sanitation. An in-house kitchen, being run under the supervision of a clinical nutritionist, will provide healthy and hygienic food for the patients.

Source: New Indian Express

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

https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/hyderabad/2021/dec/29/hyderabad-mosque-sets-up-40-bed-centre-for-the-homeless-2400751.html

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After Muslims, Christians Target Of Hindutva Brigade: Senior Congress Leader

DECEMBER 29, 2021

This has been said in the wake of the government’s refusal to renew the FCRA registration for the Missionaries of Charity

Senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram on December 29 claimed that after Muslims, Christians were the new target of the Hindutva brigade, citing the government's refusal to renew the FCRA registration for the Missionaries of Charity.

Mr. Chidambaram, who is senior election observer of the Congress for Goa, also claimed that the mainstream media had banished the story of Home Ministry's action related to Missionaries of Charity (MoC) from its pages and termed it "sad and shameful".

"The rejection of renewal to MoC is a direct attack on NGOs who are doing yeoman service for the 'poor and wretched' of India," he said on Twitter.

"In the case of MoC, it reveals bias and prejudice against Christian charity work. After Muslims, Christians are the new target of the Hindutva brigade," Mr. Chidambaram said.

Source: The Hindu

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

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/after-muslims-christians-target-of-hindutva-brigade-chidambaram/article38060727.ece

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MP: Pastor, Muslim held in separate cases of forced conversion

28th December 2021

JHABUA:  pastor and two other persons were arrested on Monday for allegedly trying to convert a tribal man to Christianity in Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh, police said, though the local diocese denied the allegations and called them a smear campaign.

Pastor Jam Singh (45), and two people, identified as An Singh Ninama (35) and Mangu Bhuria (42), were arrested on the complaint of Tetia Bariya (26), who has claimed they tried to convert him to Christianity on Sunday, Kalyanpura police station in charge Dinesh Rawat said.

"Bariya has claimed he was invited to a prayer house by the three on Sunday, where water was sprinkled on him and the Bible was read. Bariya has also alleged the three told him his family would get free health and education facilities post conversion. He, however, left the place," Rawat said.

Singh, Ninama and Bhuria have been charged under the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act 2021, the official added.

Meanwhile, Jhabua Shalom Diocese (Pentecostal) Auxiliary Bishop Reverend Paul Muniya told PTI a smear campaign was being run in tribal dominated areas to defame Christians on the false pretext of conversion.

"The campaign is aimed at political gains. Some organisations are dividing the tribals. Our pastor and two believers, all three of them Christian tribals, have not indulged in any attempt to convert, allure any person to our faith. We are praying to God to forgive our tormentors," he said.

A 35-year-old Muslim man was arrested in Ashok Nagar district in Madhya Pradesh after his Hindu live-in partner complained that he was forcing her to convert to Islam for the sake of marriage, police said on Monday.

As per the complaint lodged on Sunday evening, the 30-year-old woman has said Javeed Khan was in a relationship with her after claiming to be Rakesh Kushwaha, a Hindu, for the past five years, an official said.

Source: New Indian Express

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https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/dec/28/mp-pastor-muslim-held-in-separate-cases-of-forced-conversion-2400544.html

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Two years ago, still relevant: Shashi Tharoor on old post comparing Hinduism, Hindutva

Dec 29, 2021

NEW DELHI: Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday shared his post from 2020 on Twitter, which pointed out differences between Hinduism and Hindutva, and said that it is "still relevant."

"Two years ago. Still relevant!" the post was captioned tagging an old tweet that read, "An interesting, though incomplete, comparative table doing the rounds. #HinduismVsHindutva."

Hindutva as characterized in the post shared by Tharoor states: "Hindutva is monolithic. In that, it is more like Islam and Christianity than Hinduism," while "Hinduism is pluralistic. It is a union of many ways of life."

The post also stated that "Hindutva is a homogeneous racial-territorial category propagated by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar" while "Hinduism is a great union of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots and no founder."

This post by Tharoor comes at a time when incidents of hate speech against a particular community have been reported during 'Dharam Sansad' in Uttarakhand's Haridwar.

Source: Times of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/two-years-ago-still-relevant-shashi-tharoor-on-old-post-comparing-hinduism-hindutva/articleshow/88557061.cms

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Pak terrorist killed accomplice Mudasir, tried to escape using Altaf Bhat as human shield: SIT probe

M Saleem Pandit

Dec 29, 2021

SRINAGAR: A special investigation team headed by DIG (central Kashmir) Sujit Kumar Singh claimed on Thursday that Mudasir Gul was killed by Pakistani terrorist Bilal Bhai, his accomplice, on the directions of his mentors in Pakistan as they felt that Gul had informed the security forces about his presence in a building in Hyderpora, on Srinagar’s outskirts, on November 15.

Hyderpora building owner Altaf Bhat, who had rented out some space to Gul, a property broker who also ran a call centre in the hired premises, was used as a human shield by the Bilal in his bid to escape, the police claimed. "Both terrorists, Bilal Bhai (from Pakistan) and Amir Magray of Gool Gulabgarh, Ramban, were carrying pistols when they tried to escape using Bhat as a shield. The security forces who had cordoned off the building opened fire and Altaf Bhat was killed in cross-firing," DIG Sujit Kumar said at a press conference at the police control room here. DGP Dilbagh Singh and IGP (Kashmir) Vijay Kumar were also at the press conference.

The SIT report reveals that Amir Magray had been staying with Bilal, who belonged to the outfit TRF/Lashkar-e-Taiba, in the room hired by Gul in Hyderpora.

DIG Kumar said Magray was a terrorist and, when asked, had lied to the security forces when he told them there was no foreign terrorist in the building.

DIG Sujit Kumar Singh, in his detailed presentation about the investigation into the Hyderpora encounter, said that CCTV footage and other evidence showed that Altaf was used as a human shield by Bilal Bhai.

"The footage and other evidence show that Amir Magray had accompanied the foreign terrorist Bilal Jamalata in the first week of November to downtown Srinagar where he had shot at a civilian," the DIG said, adding, "Magray, who was working clandestinely with Mudasir Gul at his call centre in the Hyderpora building, would often travel to Bandipora and Gurez."

"Two pistols and four magazines were recovered from the encounter site," the DIG said, adding that Bilal Bhai, who was involved in selective killings, would make calls from Magray’s cellphone. He would otherwise stay put in the attic, the DIG said.

The police officer said the SIT had sought details in writing about Mudasir Gul, Altaf Bhat and Amir Magray from their kin but they did not furnish details nor cooperate with the investigators. "There were no satisfactory details from Altaf’s family," he said.

Meanwhile, the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) rejected the police’s claims as a "concocted cover-up story" and reiterated its demand for a "credible judicial probe" into the controversial Hyderpora encounter. "Today’s press briefing by the J&K police about last month’s tragic incident at Hyderpora is only a repetition of the old story. It does not even slightly give any objective picture of this shocking incident," PAGD spokesperson M Y Tarigami said in a statement.

The J&K government had ordered a magisterial inquiry by the additional district magistrate that was to be completed within 15 days, while the police constituted an SIT under DIG Sujit Kumar to probe whether three locals had been killed by the forces during the operation against the Pakistani terrorist.

Source: Times of India

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pak-terrorist-killed-accomplice-mudasir-tried-to-escape-using-altaf-bhat-as-human-shield-sit-probe/articleshow/88554597.cms

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Day after realty summit, Kashmir parties slam attempt to ‘change demography’

By Bashaarat Masood

December 28, 2021

While the Jammu and Kashmir administration has termed the signing of real estate MoUs worth Rs 18,900 crore a “historical transformation”, political parties across the mainstream-separatist spectrum in the Kashmir Valley are viewing it as an attempt to alter the region’s demographic identity.

The separatist Hurriyat Conference has called the summit a step towards “demographic change”. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said it was “brazen loot”. The National Conference, meanwhile, said Jammu and Kashmir is being “put up for sale”.

The 39 MoUs were signed Monday at the Jammu and Kashmir Real Estate Summit 2021, the first of its kind in the region. Nineteen of these MoUs were related to the residential sector, eight were for commercial projects and four were for hospitality. There were three MoUs for infrastructure, two for finance and three for the film and entertainment sector.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration termed it a “historical transformation” and encouraged people from different parts of the country to buy land or second homes in the Union Territory.

This had led to the fears of demographic change in Jammu and Kashmir. Before the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, only state subjects could buy land or immovable property there.

PDP spokesperson Suhail Bukahri said: “What happened on August 5, 2019 was not the end in itself. In fact, that was beginning of a process to disempower and disenfranchise the people of Muslim majority state. Their (BJP and RSS) eyes are set on the land of Jammu and Kashmir, on our resources, on our minerals. These orders that come one after the other are an attempt towards completion of their agenda.”

On Monday night, PDP chief and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti termed the real estate summit a “brazen loot” aimed at annihilating the identity of Jammu and Kashmir.

“J&Ks special status was illegally revoked to dehumanise, dispossess & disempower the only Muslim majority state in India. GOIs brazen loot and sale of our resources shows that the sole motive is to annihilate our identity and change the demography,” Mufti tweeted.

The Hurriyat Conference sought the intervention of the international community. “The government of India wants to change the demographic character of Muslim majority J&K and disempower its residents through such diktats and measures in order to scuttle the final resolution of the long-standing international political dispute of Kashmir in accordance with the will and aspirations of its people as promised by the international community…,” said the separatist conglomerate led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. “Since August 2019, in succession one after another authoritarian laws and diktats have been implemented in J&K towards this end. To facilitate the electoral prospects of the ruling party in India, J&K has become its favourite whipping boy.”

Former Chief Minister and National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah tweeted: “Once again the true intentions of the government are brought to the fore. While offering to secure the land, jobs, domicile laws and identity of the people of Ladakh, J&K is being put up for sale. People of Jammu should beware, ‘investors’ will buy up land in Jammu long before Kashmir.”

The Altaf Bukhari-led Apni Party said while the development of Jammu and Kashmir is welcome, it should not be at the cost of domicile laws.

Source: Indian Express

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

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/kashmir-realty-summit-7695174/lite/

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Southeast Asia

 

Court rules vernacular schools constitutionally protected, throws out Malay-Muslim group’s suit

29 Dec 2021

BY DANIAL DZULKIFLY

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 29 — Malaysia’s vernacular schools were consistent with its Federal Constitution, the High Court reiterated today when rejecting a lawsuit seeking for the government to abolish education using Mandarin and Tamil.

In reading his summary judgment this morning, Justice Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali said the Federal Constitution, in fact, expressly protected teaching in mother tongues other than Bahasa Malaysia.

He further said the plaintiffs failed to show how vernacular education had infringed on their personal liberty under the constitution.

“Given that the use of Chinese and Tamil in vernacular schools as a medium of instruction is constitutional as it is protected under the exceptions in Articles 152 (1) (a) and (b) of the Constitution, there is no basis to contend that the establishment and existence of vernacular schools are inconsistent with or infringe Articles 5, 8, 10, 11 and 12 of the Federal Constitution.

“In any event, it has not been shown in what manner the establishment and existence of the vernacular schools have violated the fundamental liberties of any person guaranteed in the said Articles.

“Enrolment in a vernacular school is after all a matter of choice. It is difficult to see in what fashion the establishment and existence of Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools would infringe the fundamental liberties or rights of any person under the constitution,” he said.

Nazlan also pointed out that vernacular schools are educational institutions under the Education Act 1996 and are not public or statutory authorities.

As such, he said it is not considered an offence if another language than Malay is used as a medium of instruction, adding that this is safeguarded under Article 152 (1) (a) of the Federal Constitution.

Gabungan Pelajar Melayu Semenanjung (GPMS), the Islam Education Development Council (Mappim) and the Confederation of Malaysian Writers Association (Gapena) initiated the lawsuit to push the government to prohibit vernacular schools.

They wanted the court to declare that such schools were unconstitutional, and even claimed their existence violated Article 152(1) of the Federal Constitution that declared the Malay language as the national language.

The groups also claimed that Sections 2, 17 and 28 of the Education Act 1966, which allow Mandarin and Tamil schools to conduct lessons in these languages, were similarly unconstitutional.

In addition, they also wanted the courts to declare vernacular schools to be in violation of Articles 5 (right to a dignified life), 8 (equality), 10 (freedom of speech, assembly and association), 11 (freedom in religion), and 12 (rights in respect of education) of the Constitution.

Source: Malay Mail

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

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2021/12/29/court-rules-vernacular-schools-constitutionally-protected-throws-out-malay/2031761

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Putrajaya mulls postponing Malaysians’ umrah trips if Omicron escalates in future

28 Dec 2021

BY YISWAREE PALANSAMY

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 28 — The Muslim minor pilgrimage trips of umrah to Saudi Arabia will be postponed if the Omicron variant spread there worsens or the infection intensifies among Malaysian pilgrims, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said.

He said that returnees will also be quarantined at government-mandated stations — instead of currently being allowed to self-isolate at home and wearing digital trackers throughout their quarantine period.

“If, if the situation in Saudi Arabia worsens and if the spread of Omicron from those who return from umrah later is at a level that is rather worrying, then we have a further step-up measure, that is to be quarantined at quarantine stations and thirdly, we postpone the umrah first,” he told the press here.

However, Khairy stressed that this is only a last resort, and the current situation has yet to achieve that level.

“We will go step by step. We are being pre-emptive but not until the extent where we have to make hurried decisions.

“We are still monitoring the situation, we are stepping up the gatekeeping and also the measures,” he added.

Khairy said that the Ministry of Health will also remind relevant travel agencies to ensure that Malaysian travellers or pilgrims heading to Saudi Arabia to receive their Covid-19 vaccine booster shots before leaving.

Upon returning, he said travellers are also encouraged to carry out self-tests daily throughout their quarantine period as many of those who initially tested negative pre-departure and upon arrival, only tested positive on the fifth day.

“So this means they were infected, but cannot be detected during the pre-departure test and the test upon arrival at the international departure gate. That is something new that we are learning about Omicron now,” Khairy said.

Khairy said that the MoH also strongly advises Malaysians against non-essential travel to any of the 18 countries listed as high risk, as the situation there is “very, very risky and very, very dangerous”.

He also advised those who are planning to visit friends and family for New Year celebrations to carry out self-tests beforehand.

“Omicron is here. What we want to do is to slow down the spread of Omicron.

“We saw from our experience with the Melaka state election, Sarawak state election and perhaps also the Christmas celebration, which did not cause an increase in cases. This is for sure, because most people abided by the SOPs,” he added.

Khairy also weighed in on a statement by Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, who took to his Facebook yesterday, alleging that a male British student, who was under quarantine in Bintulu after testing positive for the Omicron variant, had violated the order and cut short his quarantine even before his test result was out.

Tiong had said that although all the identified people who came into contact with the student from the UK had been placed in isolation, the authorities are still unable to accurately determine how many more people had come into contact with the individual.

Khairy, when asked to comment during the press conference, said that the student had breached his quarantine by going out on December 17 to the Covid-19 assessment centre (CAC), two days before his home surveillance order (HSO) was due to end.

He said that the MoH is also investigating the matter.

Source: Malay Mail

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

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2021/12/28/putrajaya-mulls-postponing-malaysians-umrah-trips-if-omicron-escalates-in-f/2031643

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Will turn away stricken boat of Rohingya refugees, says Indonesia

DECEMBER 29, 2021

‘They not Indonesian citizens, we can't just bring them in even as refugees. This is in line with government policy, says official.

Indonesian authorities will help repair a stranded boat packed with ovee 100 Rohingya off its coast but will not allow its passengers to seek refuge in the Southeast Asian country and will turn thevessel away, officials said on Tuesday, December 29, 2021.

Fishermen spotted the skiff on Sunday, adrift off the coast of Bireuen, a district on the western island of Sumatra, with around 120 men, women and children onboard.

"The Rohingya are not Indonesian citizens, we can't just bring them in even as refugees. This is in line with government policy," said Dian Suryansyah, a local navy official.

Authorities would provide humanitarian aid to the stricken vessel, including food, medicine and water, before turning it away, he added.

Indonesia is not a signatory to the 1951 U.N. Convention on Refugees and is predominately seen as a transit country for those seeking asylum to a third country.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement on Tuesday that the boat had suffered engine damage and should be allowed to land.

"UNHCR is concerned about the safety and lives of the refugees on board," the statement said.

Badruddin Yunus, a local fishing community leader, said that the refugees had been at sea for 28 days and some of them had fallen ill and one had died.

Source: The Hindu

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

https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/will-turn-away-stricken-boat-of-rohingya-refugees-says-indonesia/article38060895.ece

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South Asia

 

Threat of narco-terrorism rise after Taliban takeover of Afghanistan

December 29, 2021

India has been facing the menace of narco-terrorism since several years now. This nexus between narcotics and terrorism has serious repercussions for Indias security. The 'Golden Crescent comprising Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan is the largest producer of illicit opium and Indias close proximity to the areas increases the threat it faces. And now it has become a matter of even greater concern after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

Entire illegal drug trade is controlled by the Taliban, who work in connivance with Pakistan intelligence agents, military officers and politicians. After the fall of Afghanistan's government this year and Taliban taking over Kabul, Indian security agencies have seized drugs being brought illegally from Afghanistan and Pakistan at the Indian ports and at borders. Illicit drug trade has increased with huge caches being smuggled inside the country.

On December 19, a Pakistani fishing boat 'Al Huseini' with six crew members and carrying 77 kg of heroin worth around Rs 400 crore was apprehended in the Indian waters off the Gujarat coast. The boat registered in Karachi was carrying this consignment to be delivered to their clients in India. The joint operation was carried out by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) with Gujarat's Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS).

This was the second joint operation of ICG and Gujarat ATS in the past three months wherein a total of Rs 550 crore worth of heroin has been seized.

As per official data, narcotics worth more than Rs 30,000 crore smuggled along the Gujarat coast have been confiscated in the last three to four years.

On December 26, BSF personnel recovered 40 kg of heroin worth Rs 200 crore in two separate incidents in Punjab's Ferozepur sector. In the first incident, troops heard a thumping sound of something hitting the ground near the border area. When the BSF personnel searched the area, they recovered 34 kg heroin concealed in 22 packets near the border outpost Mian Wali Uttar.

In the second, BSF personnel seized six packets of heroin, weighing 6 kg worth Rs 30 crore near border outpost Mohammadi Wala.

These two seizures were made just a day after over 10 kg of the substance was seized in the same region. On December 25, the BSF recovered 11 packets of heroin weighing 10.852 kg near Barreke along the India-Pakistan border.

Last November, the ATS had seized a heroin consignment worth about Rs 600 crore from an under-construction house in Morbi district of Gujarat. According to the ATS, the consignment was sent by Pakistani drug dealers to their Indian counterparts.

Kabul fell to the Taliban on August 15 and soon after Indian security agencies seized another large consignment smuggled into India. On September 13, around 3,000 kg of heroin was seized from two containers at Gujarat's Mundra port and the consignment had come from Afghanistan, concealed in jumbo bags said to contain unprocessed talc powder.

The seizure made during a joint operation by the Customs department and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence was valued at around Rs 20,000 crore.

Such a big seizure led to a thorough investigation, which is still continuing and in a series of raids across the country, eight persons, including Afghan and Uzbekistan nationals, were arrested.

Prior to this, in last April, Indian agencies apprehended a boat with Pakistan nationals from Indian waters near the Jakhaucoast. The boat was carrying 30 kg of heroin worth about Rs 150 crore.

The security agencies are investigating the route and source of all these consignments seized during 2021. After the Taliban regime's returned in Afghanistan, the cases have been rising in India. Taliban regime is consolidating their grip over the illegal drug trade and Indian agencies are keeping a strict vigil at the borders to thwart such activities.

Afghanistan and Pakistan alone have shared nearly 6000 metric tonnes of the total illicit production in 1999. This year, Afghanistan's harvest will account for more than 90 per cent of worldwide illegal heroin production. This illicit production which is mostly rooted to fund terror activities in India is a matter of grave concern. These drugs are the major source of funding for Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in this country.

India has been the victim of state-sponsored terrorism for the last two decades. The Pakistan government in collaboration with the ISI uses proceeds of illicit narcotic drugs to fund terrorism in India. Pakistan also conspires to create ethnic division in the country by exploiting the religious sentiments and economic backwardness of people in the bordering states of Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Assam, Manipur and other states. The ISI often allures poor people in these states into illicit narcotic drugs trade to fund terrorist activities in India.

Source: Business Standard

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

https://www.business-standard.com/article/international/threat-of-narco-terrorism-rise-after-taliban-takeover-of-afghanistan-121122900350_1.html

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No threat from Afghanistan’s borders to region: Taliban reacted to Putin’s concerns

28 Dec 2021

A spokesperson of the Taliban Inamullah Samangani reacted to the recent concerns of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and added that there is no threat from Afghanistan’s borders to regional countries.

Inamullah Samangani in a voice clip on Monday, December 28 said that there is latterly neither potential nor a de facto threat from Afghanistan’s border to any other country.

During his meeting with Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahman, Vladimir Putin said that the security situation on the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border is concerning.

Putin mentioned his country’s military equipment given to Tajikistan’s military forces to get stronger and address potential threats from other countries.

“As we have assured security inside Afghanistan, the borders of Afghanistan are likewise well protected and are under surveillance. Rumors over Potential threats from our borders are baseless.” Said Samangani.

Source: Khaama Press

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

https://www.khaama.com/no-threat-from-afghanistans-borders-to-region-taliban-reacted-to-putins-concerns-745645/

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Turkey, Qatar await Taliban green light to run airports

December 28, 2021

ISTANBUL: Private Turkish and Qatari companies have agreed to jointly operate five airports in Afghanistan, although they are still waiting to reach a final deal with the Taliban, officials said Tuesday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday that a "memorandum of understanding" had been inked in Doha earlier this month, covering Kabul and four other airports in the war-ravaged country.

Cavusoglu said the United Arab Emirates, which operated the civilian part of Kabul airport before the Taliban stormed back to power after two decades of civil war, also expressed an interest in joining the Turkish and Qatari companies.

He said the issue was discussed during Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed's visit to Ankara in late November.

"They said 'maybe we can run work trilaterally' but there was never any concrete proposal," said Cavusoglu.

"We haven't presented any proposal to them either. But operating the airport briefly appeared on the agenda."

Turkish and Qatari officials have said little about the details of the memorandum of understanding, refusing to say which companies were to be involved.

Responding to mounting speculation that a deal may be imminent, Afghan civil aviation ministry spokesman Imamuddin Ahmadi told AFP on Tuesday that "no deal has been signed yet".

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1994296/world

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Pakistan

 

University Of Agriculture Faisalabad Sub-Campus Bans Jeans, Issues Dress Code For Its Male And Female Students

December 29, 2021

TOBA TEK SINGH: The Toba sub-campus of the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) has issued a dress code for its male and female students.

In a notification on Tuesday, Principal Dr Nisar Ahmad said the male students were not allowed to wear shorts, cut-off jeans, multi-pocket, faded, torn and skin-fitted jeans and trousers, T-shirts with messages of any kind, Chappals and slippers, bandanas, caps, vest of any kind, long hair and ponytails, earrings, wrist straps and bracelets.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1666323/university-of-agriculture-faisalabad-sub-campus-bans-jeans-issues-dress-code

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LHC chief justice orders submission of challan in Sialkot lynching case

December 29, 2021

NAROWAL: Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti directed Sialkot District Police Officer Omar Saeed Malik to complete challan of the accused involved in the lynching of Sri Lankan citizen Priyantha Kumara and submit it to the court as soon as possible.

He gave the direction during a visit to the District Judicial Complex on Tuesday.

The CJ was accompanied by Justice Shujaat Ali Khan, Justice Sajid Mahmood Sethi, Justice Masood Abid Naqvi, Justice Anwarul Haq Pinnu and LHC Registrar Irfan Ahmed Saeed.

DPO Malik gave a detailed briefing to the chief justice on the progress made so far in the lynching case of the Sri Lankan citizen.

The CJ also addressed the judicial officers in the committee room of the District and Sessions Court. He laid the foundation stone of the expansion plan of the Judicial Complex in Sialkot. An amount of Rs100m would be spent on construction of eight additional civil and family courts on 18 kanals land. DC Farooq and Exen Building Zahiruddin Babar briefed the CJ on the project.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1666342/lhc-chief-justice-orders-submission-of-challan-in-sialkot-lynching-case

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Sheikh Shahriari: Muslim world victories owed to wise leadership of Supreme Leader

December 29, 2021

Secretary General of World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought met with top Sufi Sheikhs in Cultural Center of Islamic Republic of Iran in Rawalpindi in part of the trip by Iranian delegation to Pakistan.

Senior Shia cleric Sheikh Hamid Shahriari in this meeting hailed the Supreme Leader of Islamic Republic over his wise leadership which has led to several victories achieved in the world of Islam.

He referred to the solidarity of Shia Hezbollah forces and Sunni Hamas fighters making great achievements against Israeli regime as an instance of unity in the world of Islam and said," This victory in the world of Islam is a result of wise leadership of the Supreme Leader."

The cleric vowed that once world Muslims join forces, they can make greater achievements.

Sheikh Hamid Shahriari also referred to the Islamic Republic Iran as another instance for Islamic unity and noted," The different ethnicities in Iran are all united because unity is a recommendation by Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)" calling on followers of all Islamic denominations to maintain solidarity.

He called on Muslim clerics to warn those who fan the fire of disagreements and said," The solidarity of people in Pakistan is owed to endeavors of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Muhammad Iqbal Lahori.

Source: ABNA24

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

https://en.abna24.com/news//sheikh-shahriari-muslim-world-victories-owed-to-wise-leadership-of-supreme-leader_1213446.html

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Spoilers cannot harm Pakistan's strong ties with Iran: Religious Minister

December 29, 2021

Pakistan’s Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony praising the constructive role of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the region and uniting Muslims said Pakistan enjoys strong relations with Iran and no external or internal elements can harm these ties.

Noor-ul-Haq Qadri expressed these views during a meeting with the Secretary-General of the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought Hamid Shahriari on Tuesday in Islamabad.

The Minister of Religious Affairs of Pakistan expressed his satisfaction with the presence of the delegation of the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought in Islamabad and praised the efforts of this Islamic organization to increase the unity of the scholars of the Islamic world and strengthen solidarity between Muslim nations, including Iran and Pakistan.

Noor-ul-Haq Qadri added the people and government of Pakistan are grateful for the support of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Muslim nations and the people of Kashmir.

Emphasizing the decisive role of the clergy and religious elites of Iran and Pakistan in resolving misunderstandings and joint steps towards unity and solidarity against common enemies, he said Pakistan will foil any attempt by internal and external destructive elements to harm these relations.

Pakistani Minister recalled his meeting with the late Ayatollah Taskhiri ten years ago during his visit to Lahore, as well as three trips to Tehran and other holy sites.

He added Pakistan firmly believes in respect for divine religions and "we are ready to work closely with the Islamic world", including the Islamic Republic of Iran, to advance the mission of rapprochement and joint cooperation to exploit religious commonalities and avoid differences.

Noor-ul-Haq Qadri said Pakistan is committed to deepening close relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, exchange of religious delegations and religious elites, the interaction between Islamic and research institutions, including the promotion of pilgrimage tourism from Pakistan to Iranian religious sites.

Referring to Iranian civilization and the history of the Persian language in the subcontinent, he stressed the need for cooperation between the two countries to promote the Persian language in Pakistan, adding that the government, especially the Ministry of Religious Affairs is ready for any cooperation with the Iranian embassy and cultural missions in Pakistan.

Pakistan's Minister of Religious Affairs also called for facilitating trade and commerce between the two countries' borders, citing it as an effective factor in expanding mutual cooperation.

He also informed about his ministry’s consultations with the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority to establish direct flights to the holy city of Mashad from the cities of Karachi and Lahore.

Secretary-General of the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought welcomed the unifying efforts of the Minister of Religious Affairs of Pakistan and invited Noor-ul-Haq Qadri to attend the upcoming International Conference on Islamic Unity in Tehran.

Hamid Shahriari emphasized the need to encourage Muslim nations to exploit the commonalities among themselves which is the main solution to prevent division and chaos among the Islamic Ummah.

Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Pakistan Mohammad Ali Hosseini and Member of Iranian Assembly of Experts Molavi Nazir Ahmad Salami discussed Iran's efforts to expand religious and health tourism.

Source: ABNA24

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https://en.abna24.com/news//spoilers-cannot-harm-pakistans-strong-ties-with-iran-religious-minister_1213431.html

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Taliban flexes muscles to backer Pakistan: What’s their difference point?

December 28, 2021

Until just a few months ago, when the Taliban took full control of Kabul, a few people imagined that there would be a crisis between the Taliban and Pakistan. The Taliban have always been portrayed as a Pakistan-affiliated group pursuing Islamabad goals, but recently border tensions between the group and Islamabad have escalated and even the two sides exchanged fire over the border.

Pakistani government not Islamic!

One of the most outspoken statements against Pakistan came two weeks ago by Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman and deputy minister of information and culture for the Taliban government.

In a statement, he said that the ruling government in Pakistan was "not Islamic". Mujahid's remarks were one of the Taliban's sharpest verbal attacks on its backer Islamabad, and was, indeed, influenced by differences between the Pakistani government and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Taliban's Pakistani affiliate.

Mujahideen's remarks came a day after the  TTP announced that it would not accept a ceasefire plan proposed by the government. The militant movement has been at war with the Islamabad for decades, and after the Taliban seized the power in Kabul in early August, Islamabad announced that it struck ceasefire deal with the TTP through the Taliban, although differences remain in place.

Sparks to border clashes

Pakistan and Afghanistan have historical differences over the Durand Line. The 2400-kilometer Durand Line is located on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and makes a long border. In addition to Afghanistan, Pakistan also agreed with Iran a few years ago to fence the common border.

Pakistan claims the fence was installed at a high cost to prevent illegal transportation. The former Afghan government opposed the installation of the fence, arguing that the measure should not be considered until the border disputes are resolved. The Taliban also opposes the border demarcation and has stated that it does not recognize Durand Line.

While Pakistan had high hopes that the issue of its border disputes with Afghanistan would remain silent as the Taliban assumed the power, the Taliban proved reluctant to turn a blind eye. Less than a week ago, a fence set up by the Pakistani army on the Durand Line on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border was cut by Taliban forces.

Also, a few days ago, a video was circulated online showing Taliban special forces cutting the fence installed by Pakistan. In the footage, it was claimed that the fence was installed inside Afghanistan and the forces of the interim government of Afghanistan reacted severely to it. The incident sparked Taliban's border skirmishes with Pakistan. An Afghan journalist, Bilal Sarwari, had tweeted the video. According to the journalist, the commander of the Taliban security forces, known as Dr. Bashir, was the commander of the intelligence forces that led the fence removal operation. The incident took place in Goshta village of Nangarhar province, which borders Mohmand District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province northwest of Pakistan.

Exchange of fire along with agreement announcement

Field sources in Afghanistan told Alwaght that the Taliban have been sending some of their military equipment and artillery to the Pakistani border since late Saturday. Pakistan has also raised the issue of demolition of its fences in Nangarhar province with Taliban officials and called for an investigation. In the last round of the rare tensions, the Pakistani army fired dozens of rockets at villages in the Sirkanay District of Kunar province on Friday evening, and field sources said the Taliban responded by targeting Pakistan forces' positions.

A Taliban commander who was also present at the border with Pakistan amid clashes reportedly claimed that the Afghan border extends up to kilometers from the Pakistani capital Islamabad. This statement means that the Taliban does not accept the current Pakistani borderline.

Official sources in the Pakistani government or Taliban leaders have not yet commented on the clash, but a senior Pakistani official said that Pakistan and the Taliban have reached an agreement on resolving the border fence issue through dialogue. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the Taliban's local intelligence chief had tried to remove the fence and that the move was not approved by the Taliban leadership. According to the Express Tribune newspaper, Pakistan and the Taliban "established high-level contacts" after the incident and agreed to resolve the issue through dialogue.

Source: ABNA24

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https://en.abna24.com/news//taliban-flexes-muscles-to-backer-pakistan-what%e2%80%99s-their-difference-point_1213127.html

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PPP opposes any deal with extremists, militants

December 29, 2021

LARKANA: The central executive committee of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) which met in Naudero House on late Monday evening paid homage to its slain leader, Benazir Bhutto, on her 14th death anniversary, and lauded her exceptional leadership qualities.

The meeting was chaired by PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.

It strongly opposed moves to bring those extremists, who had been involved in the assassination of the former prime minister, security personnel and hundreds of other citizens, to the mainstream politics. The meeting also rejected “state’s move to strike any secret deal with extremists and militants”.

It decided to adopt an effective political strategy to send the ‘selected’ [PTI] government packing.

Source: Dawn

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1666381/ppp-opposes-any-deal-with-extremists-militants

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Europe

 

Human rights abuses in Yemen won’t continue with impunity: UN

Ibrahim Mukhtar  

28.12.2021

SANAA, Yemen

The United Nations warned on Tuesday that human rights violations will not go on with “impunity” in war-torn Yemen.

We stress “that violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in Yemen cannot continue with impunity,” UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, said in a statement.

The UN envoy “denounced the recent major military escalation in Yemen”, and urged the warring sides “to immediately de-escalate”.

The ongoing “escalation undermines the prospects of reaching a sustainable political settlement to end the conflict in Yemen,” Grundberg warned.

Yemen has been engulfed by violence and instability since 2014, when Iran-aligned Houthi rebels captured much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.

A Saudi-led coalition aimed at reinstating the Yemeni government has worsened the situation, causing one of the world’s worst man-made humanitarian crises, with nearly 80% or about 30 million needing humanitarian assistance and protection, and more than 13 million in danger of starvation, according to UN estimates.

Since February, Houthi rebels have stepped up attacks to take control of the oil-rich Marib province, one of the most important strongholds of the legitimate government and home to the headquarters of Yemen’s Defense Ministry.

“The continued offensive on Marib and the continued missile attacks on the governorate are also resulting in civilian casualties, damage to civilian objects and mass displacement,” Grundberg said.

He also blamed the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes on Sanaa for causing loss of civilian lives and damage of “civilian infrastructure and residential areas.”

The UN diplomat decried the impact of the escalation on the humanitarian situation and reminded all sides that any indiscriminate attacks on civilians constitute “a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and must stop immediately.”

Grundberg expressed his dismay that the year 2021 “is ending on a tragic note for Yemenis, millions of whom are struggling with poverty, hunger and severe restrictions on their freedom of movement.”

Source: Anadolu Agency

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https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/human-rights-abuses-in-yemen-won-t-continue-with-impunity-un/2459454

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UN bodies call on Yemen’s Houthis to immediately release detained staff

28 December ,2021

The UN on Tuesday called on Yemen’s Houthis to immediately release staff members they detained last month.

The Iran-backed group continues to detain two UN staff members, in addition to US employees they detained in recent months without any legal basis for their detention.

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

“The Director General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, and Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, continue to be deeply concerned for the well-being of two of their staff members who were detained in early November in Sanaa, Yemen. No communication from the UN has been possible with the staff members since that time,” a joint statement from UNESCO and the UN Human Rights said.

This comes after the Houthis had promised to release the UN staff.

“OHCHR and UNESCO recall the privileges and immunities accorded to staff of the UN system under international law, which are essential to the proper discharge of their official functions, and call for the staff members’ immediate release without any further delays,” Tuesday’s statement said.

In October, the Houthis detained 30 local Yemeni staff and were subsequently released with the help of Washington’s regional partners, a State Department official previously told Al Arabiya English.

Source: Al Arabiya

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https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2021/12/28/UN-bodies-call-on-Yemen-s-Houthis-to-immediately-release-detained-staff

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Turkish Embassy in Poland attacked with Molotov cocktails

Huseyingulu Huseyinzade 

28.12.2021

WARSAW

The Turkish Embassy in Poland was attacked with Molotov cocktails on Tuesday.

The incident occurred at around 2:00 p.m. local time (1300GMT) when a 34-year-old man of Turkish origin threw three Molotov cocktails at the embassy building, located on Rakowiecka Street in the capital Warsaw, the Polish news agency PAP reported.

Police teams were sent to the site where the embassy building is located following the incident.

The suspect was caught by the security forces guarding the embassy, and no one was injured in the incident, the agency reported citing police sources.

The Warsaw Police Department examined the camera records in the building and launched a large-scale investigation into the incident.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/turkish-embassy-in-poland-attacked-with-molotov-cocktails/2459859

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Turkish defence minister receives honorary Bosnian citizenship

Sarp Ozer  

28.12.2021

BELGRADE, Serbia

Turkey's defense minister was awarded honorary Bosnia and Herzegovina citizenship during an official visit to the city of Zenica on Tuesday.

Hulusi Akar Akar paid a visit to the EUFOR Task Force TAF Liaison and Monitoring Team House in Zenica to receive a briefing on the mission's activities.

After the visit, Akar met with families he knew in the city, where he served 25 years ago as a member of the Turkish Armed Forces.

At the end of the meeting, Akar was presented with an honorary citizenship certificate by the speaker of the Zenica Doboj Canton Parliament.

At the occasion, Akar expressed gratitude to the city and stated that Zenica is very important to them since "we spent very important and meaningful days here."

Turkey is very sensitive about Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said.

"We worked together willingly and intensively to improve social life and make daily life easier as soon as the cease-fire was signed in 1995," he said, referring to the Dayton Accords which ended the Bosnian War.

"We put a lot of time and work into it," he remarked, adding that Bosnians' well-being is equally important to the happiness of the Turkish people.

"Your happiness and security really concern us. We hope Bosnia and Herzegovina continues its development for stability and integrity. The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole deserve to live happily. You have the right to live in comfort and peace after the serious hardships experienced in the past. We will continue to work together,” he vowed.

Later, Akar visited Zenica Turkish Park. He also had a souvenir photo taken in front of the Turkish Fountain, built by the Bosnia and Herzegovina Turkish Brigade Command in 1999, and a tree he planted during his visit to the city in 2014.

Kosovo visit

Akar later proceeded to neighbor Kosovo, where he was welcomed with a military ceremony by his counterpart Armend Mehaj in the capital Pristina.

After a face-to-face meeting, Akar and Mehaj held a joint press conference.

"We had an extremely comprehensive, constructive. and positive meeting," Akar told reporters.

Akar said Turkey and Kosovo continue to cooperate in many areas, including economic and military-related issues.

"Our cooperation in the fields of defense, security, and the defense industry is growing every day," he added.

Stressing the importance of the fight against the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey, Akar said: "This (group) may turn into a threat not only to our country but also to Kosovo."

Turkey has often stressed the international nature of the FETO terrorist threat.

FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016 which left 251 people dead and 2,734 injured.

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

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/turkish-defense-minister-receives-honorary-bosnian-citizenship/2459775

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Mideast

 

Senior Iranian Cleric Underlines Importance of Positive, Constructive Interaction among Religions, Denominations

2021-December-28

“Interaction and dialogue between religions is one of the most important and practical necessities of human and religious societies in the contemporary world. Extensive communications between people and their interactions with each other, along with peaceful coexistence, can advance human and humanitarian goals in today’s world, a world where there are more political, social and cultural complexities than ever before. In this regard, positive and constructive interactions between religions is one of the most important factors and prerequisites for saving the global civilization, and creating intimacy among human societies. It can also be the criteria for all relations in different areas,” Ayatollah Arafi wrote in an essay.

“The interactions of religions can have tremendous effects on their convergence, as well as on the human society. The common values of religions can easily fulfill human needs. The diversity and multiplicity of religions is a key opportunity for human society to deepen the understanding and vision of human society through religious dialogue and the exchange their achievements,” he added.

The full text of his essay is as follows:

In brief, we believe that political and social systems are not merely established based on different cultures, but rather based around common origins that enable cultures to unite. Dialogue based on this logic can include the entire world, as this issue is based on deep and fundamental human logic and includes human philosophy, the common legal and jurisprudential system as well as the moral system. However, mankind has yet to take steps towards reaching such dialogues based on rational, human and philosophical principles.

Positive and constructive interaction as a prerequisite for the salvation of the global civilization

“Say, ‘O People of the Book! Come to a common word between us and you: that we will worship no one but Allah, that we will not ascribe any partner to Him, and that some of us will not take some others as lords besides Allah.’” (3:64)

Interaction and dialogue between religions is one of the most important and practical necessities of human and religious societies in the contemporary world. Extensive communications between people and their interactions with each other, along with peaceful coexistence, can advance human and humanitarian goals in today’s world, a world where there are more political, social and cultural complexities than ever before. In this regard, positive and constructive interactions between religions is one of the most important factors and prerequisites for saving the global civilization, and creating intimacy among human societies. It can also be the criteria for all relations in different areas. The interactions of religions can have tremendous effects on their convergence, as well as on the human society. The common values of religions can easily fulfill human needs. The diversity and multiplicity of religions is a key opportunity for human society to deepen the understanding and vision of human society through religious dialogue and the exchange their achievements.

We live in a world in which culture, identity and tradition have undeniable and irreplaceable roles. The origin and the root of any change in our world is a change in culture and identity, while, an important part of this universal identity has been created by religions. Undoubtedly, all human values we live by are rooted in some of the world’s spiritual and religious traditions. Therefore, it can be clearly said that religion plays an irreplaceable role in human life and lifestyle. Each of the prophets and messengers, who were sent with a mission, tried to create a lifestyle based on monotheism, instill the spirit of love and affection in humanity and command their followers to love each other according to the needs of their society. By doing so, they took a few forward steps in the creating of a united and harmonious society.

Peaceful coexistence of religions from the perspective of the Glorious Qur’an

Islam and the Qur’an consider all the prophets as being a continuous line. They also hold that the divine books and scriptures manifest a complete system, and regard divine religions as the straight divine path that attained completion during the different stages of history.[1] In the Glorious Qur’an, God Almighty has mentioned a single monotheistic front present throughout history, and the divine prophets have been considered as the leaders and pioneers of this front.[2] Among the thousands of prophets, the Qur’an has named about thirty of them with admiration and sanctification. The goal of all divine religions has been human happiness, salvation and liberation in this world and in the hereafter. The spirit and foundation of the heavenly missions is the belief in monotheism, the unseen and the divine prophets (a), and the pursuit of high human and divine morality. In the view of the divine prophets (a), a human’s life in this world and in the hereafter are not separate from each other. His life in this world is a base and prelude to his life in the next world.

Divine religions have also drawn the general outline for human happiness in this world. The Resolute Prophets (a) are the apex of the history of the prophets, the owners of universal religions and divine books, and have many things in common. Abrahamic religions, especially Islam and Christianity, have many similarities and commonalities. The Qur’an emphasizes the close and kind bond between Muslims and Christians and, in addition to recognizing this great religion, advises a peaceful coexistence with its followers.[3]

The Interaction of the Prophet of Islam (s) and Shiite Imams (a) with different religions

Throughout history, the role of the prophets (a) in creating unity and solidarity in society, has been undeniable. Each of the prophets (a), with the help of these teachings and many others, brought unity and solidarity to a large section of human society.

After the divine prophets (a), their successors and the scholars have an important role in ensuring the continuation of the prophets’ mission and path and the guidance of humanity. It is they who must fulfill their educational, moral-promotional, educational and social responsibilities in the best way. In intellectual institutions of the seminary, which are based on deductive thought and rational-philosophical thinking, there has been an emphasis on scientific discussion over ideas and between different schools of thought, deep scientific dialogue between religions and denominations, and avoiding baseless prejudices and extremism; and the present world needs these more than anything else.

The teachings of the Quran and hadiths, as well as the history of Islam, especially during the time of the Infallible Imams (a), are replete with interactions with different religions. Especially during the life of Imam al-Rida (a), because of the expansion of the borders of the Islamic world, the connections between religions and the interactions between cultures and civilizations increased. This resulted in ideas from the world of Christianity and Judaism, as well as from Roman, Iranian, Egyptian, Indian and Chinese civilizations to gradually enter the Islamic world.

During this period, in order to prevent Muslims from absorbing non-Islamic ideas, the true leaders of the Muslim community correctly presented pure divine teachings. Imam al-Rida (a) lived in the era where the culmination of the confrontation between cultures, civilizations and ideas occurred. So, if we were to refer to his extensive dialogues, especially in the years of his presence in Merv, his vast activities in the face of other religions can be seen. With exemplary charm, he (a) presented pure religious teachings and, in the face of other religions and other Islamic schools, as well as confronting the Shiite Waqifiyya deviation, presented an attractive model of dialogue and interfaith interaction and demonstrated the proper logic and method of dialogue with people of different religions.

Critique of the postmodernist and rationalist view of interaction between religions

The teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) contain a set of pre-religious and pre-human principles, now interpreted as independent intellectual properties and common intellectual and philosophical concepts, but, at the same time, it does not accept the concept of absolute relativism, for doing so will block the way to correct understanding. Absolute relativism, especially postmodern relativism, does not have a strong and acceptable rational and philosophical logic. Postmodernism relies on the logic of relativism and makes dialogue expedient and superficial; however,in a logic based on intellectual and philosophical principles, dialogue is based on rational and human commonalities and it would be much deeper.

In religious and rational dialogue, divine religions have a common philosophy of law and ethics that provides a greater possibility and stages for religious dialogue; but of course, the level of commonalities is much higher than it seems today, and we recognize religious and human dialogue at all levels to be rooted and true.

We believe that political and social systems are not merely based on different cultures, but are based on common origins around which different cultures can unite. Dialogue based on this logic can include the whole world. This issue is based on deep and original human logic, and includes both human philosophy and the common legal and jurisprudential system, as well as the moral system. Mankind has yet to take steps to reach such dialogues based on rational, human and philosophical principles.

All religions and denominations of the world are organized on the basis of rationality, the focus of which is the purposefulness of the world and society. The set of religions, even human-made and non-Abrahamic religions, have sought to understand the relationship between human being, himself and existence, and at least within the framework of rationale and common-sense, tried to provide a correct and realistic interpretation of human being and existence.

In fact, all religions have tried to form their relations within the framework of rationality, the effects of which makes a human’s life meaningful and improves it in practice. Accordingly, religion should be considered related to human rationality. For example, one of the hallmarks of human rationality, formed as an independent intellectual, is justice and equality; because, reason judges the goodness of justice and the ugliness of oppression. It is in this context that human rationality manifests itself in the form of goodness of peace and the ugliness of aggression, bloodshed and war. Therefore, it can be said that all religions and schools are formed based on justice and peace, and manage and guide society within this framework. Of course, this rationality dictates that man must be anti-oppression and must defend the oppressed. Thus, seeking justice and peace, and fighting oppression are endorsed and emphasized in all religions. No security, peace and tranquility will be possible without peace between religions. We believe that human-made and non-divine religions also benefit from a kind of rational and behavioral inclusiveness that lies within their rationality; because, all religions belong to noble human beings, who have benefited from human rationality or, beyond that, they have been in direct contact with the Universal Intellect of existence, who is the Almighty God. Hence, in all of them, there is “a common word” that has a rational origin, and it is this rational origin of religions that prepares us for achieving proximity, dialogue and acceptance of basic human principles.

The interaction of religions and denominations based on a deep logic, not formalities or necessity

There is another fact, that the interaction of religions and denominations is not based on formalities or necessity; rather, it is based on a deep logic. Religions and denominations in the world today can have a common front in the world based on common principles in philosophy, law, values and jurisprudence. Along with this fact, humanity has always struggled with issues such as the need to restore the spirit of love, spirituality, justice and peace, based on justice and equality of human beings. Regardless of their political nature, these issues are first and foremost religious in nature, and religions play an important role in explaining and realizing them. How peace can be established based on justice, how human rights can be observed, or how human societies can build their relations based on their mutual duties, responsibilities, obligations and rights, are among the issues religions must resolve through thinking and exchanging their principles, standards and experiences, and guide communities. Hence, the world today needs to learn the etiquettes of dialogue between different religions and denominations. Islam and Muslim scholars have always emphasized on the wise interaction among human beings and on the dialogue between divine religions and respecting their sanctities. If all divine and human-made religions come together and obey the rule of reason, they will invite human beings to “happiness”, the main elements and components of which are “peace and comfort”. Thus, whenever thinkers and religious scholars engage in dialogue, they eventually revolve around the “common word” and thus there will be no division or disagreement between them.

The need for interaction and dialogue between divine religions and denominations

Interfaith dialogue has been one of the most important questions and concerns of religious thinkers and scholars in the last two decades, not because of doubts and hesitations about the necessity of dialogue itself, but rather in order to clarify the requirements, necessities and benefits of religious dialogues. There are numerous epistemological, ontological, theological, and interactive necessities that have made religious dialogue inevitable in today’s world. Obviously, through interfaith dialogue, a clear and close understanding of the teachings of other religions can be obtained, and many notional and attitudinal misunderstandings are removed and the way is paved for belief, value and behavioral convergence.

Seminaries can regain their historical and main role when they know the current and future conditions of the world and the needs of the people of the world, and continue the individual and collective movements of related institutions and in a comprehensive and measured way, acquaint their students with the real and objective world today. The seminary can speak to its audiences when it is familiar with their language, literature, way of thinking, concerns, issues and problems. The seminary must know how its audience thinks and what they expect from it. This great mission will be properly realized when the history and geography of these audiences are studied with the right tools and in the right manner, with a principled method and by competent persons, and all the effective means, processes and content of the message are considered. The presence of seminarians in various international arenas for scientific and cultural activism will not be possible except through the empowerment and promotion of their level of knowledge and insight.

There are several theories about the proximity and interaction of religions and denominations:

In the first theory, some seek to merge religions and denominations to achieve one religion. We oppose this theory, because it is both philosophically impossible and incompatible with external realities. The second theory is religiosity without adhering to a specific religion, which is also proposed in the West today. In this view, we must set aside the distinctions of religions and pay attention only to the commonalities amongst religions, which is also impossible. The third theory is pluralism and the belief that all religions and denominations are right. This view is also philosophically unacceptable, because not all views can be considered right. Muslims and followers of the school of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) believe in a fourth theory. In this theory, we respect and value the commonalities of all religions. According to this view, we should not believe that everyone except us is an infidel and deserves death. So, we must neither wield the sword of slaughter, nor do we say: “All but us will go to hell”, but rather we shall debate over the points of difference.

Today, the Islamic world faces challenges such as the doctrinal-intellectual, moral and collapse challenges of the value system, turning the war between Muslims and arrogant powers into a Shiite-Sunni war, revival of nationalist ideas, disintegration of Islamic countries, Islamophobia, Shiaphobia and Iranophobia, replacement of the discourse of the Islamic Revolution with the dogmatic Talaban Islam or the compromising liberal Islam, and breaking of the resistance front. The seminary, by recognizing the epistemological geography of the world, will take steps towards responding to these challenges through its religious interactions.

There are other necessities for interaction between religions. Such as, introducing the views of seminary scholars in scientific societies for religions and denominations at the international level; the presence and knowledge of the seminarians on international issues related to other religions and the ways of interacting with their scholars; the need for interaction to better understand religions; studying the sociology of religion, history and the current state of religions; observation, design and compilation of international researches in order to introduce pure Islam; explaining the necessity of developing the grounds and culture for the effective entry of seminarians into various international arenas; cooperation, consultation and reflection of religions on problems that threaten the interests of all humanity; the need for religious innovation in today’s world to fill the void of human spirituality; the need for developing networks of elites, institutions and activists in the field of religions and sects in order to work in the international arena of religions and denominations; the need to get out of the passive state and be active in the fields of interfaith interactions and interactions between denominations and to promote the discourse of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) in the face of other religions and denominations which are some of the most important of these needs.

Source: Fars News Agency

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

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14001007000508/Senir-Cleric-Underlines-Imprance-f-Psiive-Cnsrcive-Ineracin-amng

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Hamas: Israeli settlement plan in occupied Golan ‘new form of aggression against Arabs’

29 December 2021

Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has blasted Israel’s latest settlement plans in the occupied Golan Heights as a new form of aggression against Arab people.

Hazem Qassem, Hamas' spokesman, said on Tuesday that the Israeli regime’s approval of settlement projects to double the number of settlers in the occupied Syrian Golan is a “new aggression against Arab land and rights, and an extension of its aggression" against Palestine and Palestinians.

“These settlement projects expose once again the arrogant behavior of the occupation and its expansionist policy in the region, disregarding all international laws and resolutions,” he noted.

Hamas' spokesman underlined that the "settlement plan … will not succeed in changing the historical facts, nor the identity of the Arab land, and the rights of the Palestinian nation are the fixed constant, whereas [the existence of] the Zionist settlers, who are foreign to the Arab land, will end."

Qassem said the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian and Arab land "requires an escalation by the masses of our Arab and Islamic nation and all its forces to resist this Zionist project and to put an end to its arrogance in the region."

Earlier in the day, the Arab League warned Israel over its settlement plans in the occupied Golan Heights, saying Israel must stop its attempts to change the demographic make-up and the legal status of the territory.

The Tel Aviv regime approved a one-billion-shekel plan on Sunday to double the number of Israeli settlers in the occupied Golan Heights, four decades after the occupying regime annexed the territory captured from Syria.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said two new neighborhoods are to be built in the town of Katzrin plus two new settlements, named Asif and Matar, adding that the plan aimed to build a total of 7,300 settler units in the region over a five-year period.

The plan will bring roughly 23,000 new Israeli settlers to the occupied region.

Syria itself condemned the Israeli plan on Monday, describing it as a “dangerous and unprecedented escalation.”

In 1967, Israel waged a full-scale war against Arab territories, during which it occupied a large swathe of Golan and annexed it four years later, a move never recognized by the international community.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2021/12/29/673599/Palestinian-resistance-movement-Hamas-Hazem-Qassem-Israel-settlement-plans-Golan-Heights

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ICRO head stresses more cultural coop. between Iran, China

December 29, 2021

The chairman of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization (ICRO) has said that Iran and China need to coordinate their activities to present a right picture of themselves to the world.

The chairman of the Iranian Islamic Culture and Relations Organization (ICRO) Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Mahdi Imanipour made the remarks in a meeting with the Chinese envoy to Iran Ambassador Chang Hua and the Chinese cultural attache at the Chinese Embassy in Tehran on Tuesday.

Imanipour pointed to the existence of cultural commonalities between the two countries and said that the history of cultural relations between Iran and China have existed since ancient times and the two countries are trying to maintain a long-standing level of communication.

The ICRO head emphasized the expansion of cultural cooperation between the two countries and declared the organization's readiness to cooperate in various fields of cultural studies, exhibitions, research and meeting of cultural delegations, as well as hosting the Chinese cultural delegation in Tehran.

He continued his remarks by insisting on showing a real image of Iran and China in the world, adding "In the fields of combating Islamophobia, Iranophobia and Chinaophobia, we can hold joint meetings and programs and are interested in using the capacities of Chinese elites in these cases."

Source: ABNA24

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

https://en.abna24.com/news//icro-head-stresses-more-cultural-coop-between-iran-china_1213432.html

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Erdoğan urges Muslims to unite in face of rising Islamophobia

DEC 28, 2021

Muslims will only reach ultimate peace and harmony if they are able to establish unity and solidarity among themselves in the face of rising Islamophobia, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a conference in the U.S. on Tuesday.

Speaking in a televised message broadcast at the Muslim American Society (MAS) and Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) Convention in Chicago, one of the largest Islamic conventions held annually in North America. Erdoğan highlighted the importance of unity and positivity for Muslims.

“We need to strengthen our solidarity in the face of anti-Muslim hatred, xenophobia and cultural racism, which have risen during the pandemic,” Erdoğan said, adding that Muslims need to unite and set aside cultural and ethnic differences.

"All Muslims are brothers and sisters, regardless of their origin, skin color, nation, culture, sect," Erdoğan said, adding that Islam had no room for exclusion, incitement or terror.

He continued by saying that rather than withdrawing into one’s shelf, Muslims should strive to be confident and play their well-deserved role in an embracing manner in the societies that they live in.

Turkey attaches importance to healthy and strong relations with the Muslim community in the United States, the country’s presidential spokesperson also said.

İbrahim Kalin’s remarks came at the gala dinner of the convention.

The Turkish official said faith was more than just a belief system as it was also related to matters of spirituality, justice and goodness.

Pointing out that human beings cannot reveal their own potential without meaning, wisdom and purpose, Kalın told the participants: "As Muslim individuals and Muslim communities in the 21st century, we must re-establish the meaning of wisdom. Because there is so much judgment in our lives, but very little wisdom."

Commenting on the concepts of belief and freedom, Kalın noted that freedom is not just the freedom to choose something, it is important to choose the truth, and this becomes meaningful with wisdom and belief.

Two decades after 9/11, Muslims across the U.S. are still battling intolerance, racism and hate, according to research.

A poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research (AP-NORC) conducted ahead of the 9/11 anniversary found that 53% of Americans have unfavorable views toward Islam, compared with 42% who have favorable ones. This stands in contrast to Americans’ opinions about Christianity and Judaism, for which most respondents expressed favorable views.

Mistrust and suspicion of Muslims didn’t start with 9/11, but the attacks dramatically intensified those animosities. Accustomed to being ignored or targeted by low-level harassment, the country’s wide-ranging and diverse Muslim communities were thrown into the spotlight, said Youssef Chouhoud, a political scientist at Christopher Newport University in Virginia.

Turkish officials have criticized their Western counterparts for remaining indifferent to anti-Muslim sentiment and fueling such ideology as experts believe the country can lead the fight. They have continuously called on world leaders to take action to stop the demonization of Muslims and have been taking action to tackle the growing problem.

Source: Daily Sabah

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https://www.dailysabah.com/politics/diplomacy/erdogan-urges-muslims-to-unite-in-face-of-rising-islamophobia

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Iran to Produce Helium at South Pars

2021-December-28

Helium is used to cool superconducting magnets in medical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners, as a lifting gas in balloons and airships, as a gas to breathe in deep-sea diving and to keep satellite instruments cool. It is derived from natural gas during processing.

Iranian technology companies will soon begin the country's first ever project to produce helium at South Pars, the world's largest gas field, a senior official said.

Demand for the gas, driven particularly by Asia’s booming manufacturing industry, is on the rise. The United States and Qatar, which shares South Pars with Iran, are the largest helium producers worldwide. Other helium-producing countries include Algeria, Russia, Canada and China.

With proven natural gas reserves of 33.78 trillion cubic meters, Iran holds 17 percent of the world’s total. The country is already well placed to unseat Russia as the largest gas holder if the new-found reserves in the Chalous field are added, raising the total to 40.9 trillion cubic meters.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, Iran produced 267 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2019, making the country the world’s third-largest producer after the US and Russia despite the most draconian sanctions imposed on the country.

With estimated in place reserves of 14.2 trillion cubic meters plus 18 billion barrels of gas condensate, South Pars accounts for 40 percent of Iran’s total gas reserves and about 80 percent of its gas production.

Managing Director the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) Mohsen Khojastehmehr on Monday said production from the field had hit 705 million cubic meters for the first time since the start of its operation.

Iran, however, is set to ramp up its production of natural gas in a global market that continues to see record gas prices and a domestic market which is unconventionally devouring much of the produced gas. Officials say total gas production will hit 500 billion cubic meters in 2041.

The residential and commercial sectors use natural gas for space heating, and the industrial sector uses it for feedstock, especially in the petrochemicals industry. The high consumption is driven by massive subsidies provided by the government which is in a race against time to catch up with the rising demand.

Natural gas production at South Pars began in 2003, and so far, 23 of the 24 development phases have started producing. 

Source: Fars News Agency

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https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14001007000703/Iran-Prdce-Helim-a-Sh-Pars

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Senior Analyst: France Playing Bad Cop Role in Vienna Talks, Iran Should Use Leverages

2021-December-28

“Partly due to the bad cop role that France plays in the negotiations, they created certain obstacles in the last days of the previous round of Vienna talks. Since years ago and the previous rounds of negotiations on the nuclear deal, there has been shared role-playing by the US and Europe, specially the three European countries. The Americans mostly deal with the issue of sanctions, and Europeans, specially France, pursue the nuclear issue,” Khoshcheshm told the Persian-language Farhikhtegan newspaper on Tuesday.

He suggested Iran's success in the talks requires the country's enhanced use of leverages, saying, “The hands of our negotiators should be filled with leverages during the talks. These pressure leverages are available and could be adopted in areas of Iran's nuclear, missile, the regional powers and other fields, and these pressure leverages should be used to the maximum based on a well-planned and specific roadmap.”

Asked about the new draft that Iran and the world powers are due to discuss during the new rounds of talks, Khoshcheshm said, “The new draft is different from the drafts of Iran in the sixth round of the Vienna talks, with two types of major differences; first is a series of points in the draft of Vienna 6, which had come in violation of the nuclear deal, and Iran called for their correction or removal, and in its proposed draft, it removed and changed these items. Second type of changes included Iran's demands, mostly on the issue of sanctions, which had remained undecided and left in empty brackets for later discussions. No understanding and agreement was made about them in the draft of Vienna 6. The Iranian side added those items to its draft at the beginning of the seventh round and made its demands clear in this regard so that there would be no ambiguity about its demands for the lifting of sanctions in any future agreement.”

“So what Iran put on the table at the beginning of the seventh round was major corrections of the Vienna 6 draft, which, after lengthy talks and contrast with Vienna 6, a major part of the demands and omissions that Iran had made were accepted and endorsed, and in the next three or four days, the other issues demanded by Iran are due to be addressed so that the agenda of negotiations on the context will fully be prepared for the beginning of January and the next round of negotiations. In fact, what Iran is pushing for is the removal of sanctions that put people under economic pressure. These sanctions should be fully lifted so that the country will be able to benefit economically,” he concluded.

Iran and the five remaining parties to the JCPOA -- Britain, Germany, France, Russia and China -- resumed talks in Vienna on November 29 after a five-month hiatus, marking the first round of negotiations under President Seyed Ebrahim Rayeesi’s administration and the seventh overall.

During the seventh round of the Vienna talks, Iran presented two draft texts which address, separately, the removal of US sanctions and Iran’s return to its nuclear commitments under the JCPOA. Tehran also said it was preparing a third draft text on the verification of the sanctions removal.

Iran and the G4+1 group of countries resumed the talks in the Austrian capital on December 9 after being paused on December 3, when the participants returned to their capitals for additional consultations on the two draft proposals that Tehran had put forward.

As the seventh round of discussions in Vienna concluded, Iran’s chief negotiator Ali Baqeri Kani said the three European parties to the JCPOA, also known as the E3, intimately agreed to accept Tehran’s viewpoint as a basis for “serious, result-oriented” talks.

The eighth round of talks for lifting anti-Iran sanctions kicked off on Monday evening local time, when Iranian top negotiator and the European Union’s representative in Vienna talks Enrique Mora co-chaired the Joint Commission meeting of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Source: Fars News Agency

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https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14001007000287/Senir-Analys-France-Playing-Bad-Cp-Rle-in-Vienna-Talks-Iran-Shld-Use

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Israel’s defence minister meets with Palestinian president

29 December ,2021

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas paid a rare visit to Israel on Tuesday for talks with Israel's defense minister, the latest in a series of meetings by top Israeli officials with the Palestinian leader.

Israel’s new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, opposes Palestinian independence and has ruled out formal peace talks. But he has said he wants to reduce frictions with the Palestinian Authority and improve living conditions in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Despite these pledges, the area has experienced an increase in violence in recent weeks, with a series of Palestinian attacks on Israelis in the West Bank and east Jerusalem as well as a surge in violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians.

A senior Palestinian official said the late-night meeting took place at Defense Minister Benny Gantz's home in central Israel. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing a closed meeting, said it was the first time Abbas has met with an Israeli official in Israel since 2010.

Gantz said he was committed to advancing confidence-building measures, as discussed in an earlier meeting with Abbas, as well as deepening security coordination.

Hussein Al Sheikh, a top aide to Abbas, said the meeting “dealt with the importance of creating a political horizon,” as well as “the tense field conditions due to the practices of the settlers.” He said security, economic and humanitarian issues were also discussed.

Abbas, whose government administers autonomous areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, seeks an independent state that includes all of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

Source: Al Arabiya

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https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/12/29/Israel-s-defense-minister-meets-with-Palestinian-president

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Iran, Russia upbeat about progress of nuclear talks in Vienna

28 December ,2021

Iran and Russia sounded upbeat about talks on salvaging the 2015 Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday, with Tehran saying an accord was possible if other parties showed “good faith” and a Russian negotiator reporting “indisputable progress.”

Iran and the United States resumed the indirect talks in Vienna on Monday, with Tehran focused on one side of the original bargain - lifting sanctions against it - despite what critics see as scant progress on reining in its atomic activities.

“The Vienna talks are headed in a good direction... We believe that if other parties continue the round of talks which just started with good faith, reaching a good agreement for all parties is possible,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told reporters in Tehran.

“If they show seriousness, in addition to the good faith, arriving at a deal soon and in the near future is conceivable,” Amirabdollahian said in a video of his remarks on state media.

Russian envoy Mikhail Ulyanov said on Twitter: “We observe indisputable progress... Sanctions lifting is being actively discussed in informal settings” in a working group at the talks.

The seventh round of talks ended 11 days ago after adding some new Iranian demands to a working text.

Western powers said the talks had made little discernible progress since they resumed for the first time after Iran’s hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, was elected in June.

They said negotiators had “weeks not months” left before the 2015 deal becomes meaningless.

Little remains of that deal, which lifted sanctions against Tehran in exchange for restrictions on its atomic activities.

Then-President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of it in 2018, re-imposing US sanctions, and Iran later breached many of the deal’s nuclear restrictions and kept pushing well beyond them.

Iran refuses to meet directly with US officials, meaning that other parties to the deal - Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany and the European Union - must shuttle between the two sides.

Source: Al Arabiya

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https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/12/28/Iran-Russia-upbeat-about-progress-of-nuclear-talks-in-Vienna

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Africa

 

Libya parliament proposes delaying presidential polls by 6 months

Ibrahim Mukhtar  

28.12.2021

TRIPOLI, Libya

Libya’s House of Representatives (parliament) has proposed postponing the country’s presidential elections by six months.

The assembly held a session in the eastern city of Tobruk late Monday to discuss the polls, which were scheduled to take place on Dec. 24.

Acting Parliament Speaker Fawzi Al-Nuwairi presented several proposals by deputies on the polls, one of which called for delaying the vote by six months.

Last week, Libya’s High National Elections Commission proposed postponing the Dec. 24 polls by one month, citing obstacles hindering the holding of timely elections.

Al-Nuwairi demanded that the elections commission issues an explanation on the compelling reasons that prevented the elections from taking place

Meanwhile, the acting speaker said the parliament will ask the Presidency Council and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to restrict the movement and visits of foreign ambassadors in Libya, without further details.

On Friday, European countries and the US urged the Libyan authorities to decide on a final date for elections without delay.

In a joint statement, France, Germany, Italy, UK, and the US appealed to the Libyan authorities “to respect the aspirations of the people for prompt elections by swiftly determining a final date for the polling and issuing the final list of presidential candidates without delay.”

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/libya-parliament-proposes-delaying-presidential-polls-by-6-months/2459269

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Ethiopia's Tigray taps Muslim past in propaganda push

29 December 2021

Rebels from Ethiopia's Tigray region are drawing on early Islamic history in an Arabic-language propaganda push to rally solidarity among Muslims online for their battle against the government.

Thousands of people have been killed since the conflict erupted last year between the government in Addis Ababa and its foes, the rebel Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

The overwhelmingly Christian Tigrayan people account for less than six percent of Ethiopia's 110 million people, and the media-savvy TPLF rebels may hope to win over Muslim allies among anti-government forces in the country's complex multi-ethnic population -- as well as generate sympathy abroad.

Amongst Tigray's five percent Muslim-minority, Tigrinya speakers writing in Arabic have sought to remind people about the role the region played as one of the first Islamic settlements and as a refuge for early Muslims fleeing Mecca.

But while their references may be drawn from the Koran, "the conflict in Ethiopia is not religious but ethnic", one Tigrayan activist using the alias Mustafa Habashi told AFP in Arabic, who insists his efforts are not connected to TPLF activities.

One Twitter account, "Tigray in Arabic", has amassed about 40,000 followers in just a few months.

It translates statements by rebel leaders into Arabic and publishes reactions to statements from Addis Ababa.

"Our mastery of Arabic and our Islamic culture has helped us address the Arab and Muslim world to make our cause known," Habashi said.

- Islamic history -

After Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent federal forces into the Tigray region in November 2020, the number of times "Ethiopia" has appeared in Arabic on social media has risen sharply.

The term received around 70 million likes, clicks, posts and comments on Facebook, according to social media analytics tool CrowdTangle, data that includes all online content about the country.

For reference, the number of Facebook users in the Arab world stands at about 187 million.

By comparison, between November 2019 and November 2020, amid heightened concerns among Egyptian and Sudanese users over Ethiopia's upstream Nile mega dam, this figure was less than 40 million.

While Tigray may figure in many people's consciousness because of the conflict, for much of the Arab world -- where Islamic history is on the curriculum in schools -- the region's history is ingrained in the collective imagination.

About 1,400 years ago, companions of the Prophet Mohammed fleeing persecution sought refuge with the Christian king, or Negus, in the city of Axum, now a key town in Tigray.

Tigrayans are using this history to reach out to the estimated 300 million Arabs active on social media.

"How many times has a small troop, by the grace of Allah, defeated a very large troop!" one user writes, quoting the Koran, about David and Goliath to allude to the battle between Tigrayan and Ethiopian forces.

On December 20, the TPLF announced they had withdrawn from the Amhara and Afar regions to their Tigray stronghold.

The account "Tigray in Arabic" references early Islamic general Khaled ibn al-Walid -- famed for having emerged victorious in 50 battles because of his tactical skill -- to explain the TPLF's so-called "tactical withdrawal".

Habashi boasted that the Tigrayan media push meant that Arabic speakers were "becoming more and more interested in what is happening in Ethiopia".

- Media war -

Alongside fighting on the ground, both the government in Addis Ababa and the TPLF accuse each other of spreading lies in a bitter media war.

For the TPLF, allied to the rebel Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), the propaganda outreach may also be a way to burnish credentials among the wider 40 million-strong Oromo people, Ethiopia's largest ethnic group, of whom roughly half are Muslim.

Source: Daily Mail UK

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

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-10351825/Ethiopias-Tigray-taps-Muslim-past-propaganda-push.html

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Coups, civil wars, pandemic, terrorism dominated Africa in 2021

Hassan Isilow 

29.12.2021

JOHANNESBURG

2021 was tough for many on the African continent, where civil wars, terrorism and the coronavirus pandemic continued to claim thousands of lives.

Africa, which has been striving to move forward in the transition to democracy for several countries, was moved backward with military coups in Guinea and Sudan.

Fierce fighting also continued in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, where a raging war broke out in November 2020 between the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and forces of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

Thousands have been killed in Tigray where 2.2 million people are said to have been displaced, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

Coups

In October, the Sudanese military, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, took control of the government in a military coup, leading to massive pro-democracy protests.

Dozens have been killed by security forces clamping down on protestors and hundreds injured, according to Sudanese medics.

The military takeover sparked international condemnation, including punitive aid cuts, with world powers demanding a swift return to civilian rule.

The latest reports from the capital, Khartoum, claim security forces are using sexual violence and harassment, including alleged rape, to dissuade women who have been a strong pillar of ongoing pro-democracy protests, from attending rallies.

In September, Guinean armed forces also carried out a coup, toppling President Alpha Conde. He was replaced with coup leader Mamady Doumbouya, a member of the Guinean Special Forces Group and a former French Legionnaire.

Terrorism

Incidents of terrorism continued to claim lives on the continent, especially in Somalia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda and the Sahel region.

There have been almost daily reports of targeted suicide bombings in Somalia carried out by al-Qaida affiliate in Somalia, al-Shabaab, which has been fighting for years to topple the government.

Meanwhile, between October and November, Uganda recorded several bomb attacks, including suicide bombers. The attacks were reportedly carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan rebel outfit based in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and affiliated with the Daesh/ISIS terror group.

Regional forces from southern Africa continued their mission to pacify northern Mozambique after Daesh/ISIS affiliates took control of Palma in Cabo Delgado province, killing dozens and wounding scores in 2020.

Former South African president jailed

In July, South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma surrendered to correctional officials at the Estcourt prison to start serving a 15-month sentence.

Zuma, 79, was found guilty of contempt of court for refusing to appear before a judicial commission probing graft during his nearly decade-long presidency.

His incarceration led to violent protests, claiming more than 300 lives and billions of dollars in damages to businesses that were looted or vandalized by his alleged supporters. It was the first time a former South African president was arrested and detained.

But Zuma was granted medical parole Sept. 5, after spending two months in prison. In December, a court in the capital, Pretoria, ordered that he be returned to prison because his medical parole was reportedly granted unlawfully. He has appealed the decision.

COVID-19, omicron travel bans

As Africa continued to bear the brunt of the pandemic on a continent that has acquired just a few million vaccine doses, hardly enough for its population, it faced travel bans.

South African scientists announced in November that they discovered a new COVID-19 variant, omicron, with a large number of mutations compared to previous variants.

Western nations quickly imposed travel bans on southern African countries and other African states, fearing they could be exposed to the new variant. That sparked continent-wide outrage.

Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera, current chairman of Southern African Development Community regional bloc of 16 countries, described the bans as Afrophobia and not based on science.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/coups-civil-wars-pandemic-terrorism-dominated-africa-in-2021/2460080

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Parliamentary panel wants Libya’s executive authority restructured

Mahmoud Al-Bazm 

28.12.2021

TRIPOLI, Libya

A Libyan parliamentary committee has recommended the restructuring of the country’s executive authority.

The proposal by the Electoral Process Follow-up Committee came in a Monday report after its members met with the head of Libya’s High National Elections Commission, Emad al-Sayeh.

The committee argued that the current executive authority has failed to move the oil-rich country towards stability.

The report said al-Sayeh "presented to the (elections) commission the reasons why it was not possible to announce the final list of candidates for the Dec. 24 presidential elections,” as well as a number of “violations that marred the candidacy of some candidates."

The committee cited these reasons for proposing the “restructuring of the executive authority in order to achieve the requirements of stability which the current authority has been unable to do."

Libya’s executive authority was elected on March 16 on a transitional basis to lead the country towards elections. It is made up of a unity government headed by Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, and the Presidency Council chaired by Mohammad Menfi.

The parliamentary committee also recommended that parliament set up a workable roadmap with clear deadlines in order “to make the electoral process a success and ensure acceptance of its results.”

It called on parliament to continue sponsoring the political and legislative process and to avoid setting “political dates” that are “unrealistically set by some parties” for domestic and international agendas.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/parliamentary-panel-wants-libya-s-executive-authority-restructured/2459372

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North America

 

US creates commission to assess two-decade war in Afghanistan

28 Dec 2021

The US has created a new commission- the Afghanistan War Commission act of 2021- that is formed of 16 congress members both Democratic and Republicans.

The bipartisan commission, led by Representatives Andy Kim and Peter Meijer in the House and Senator Tammy Duckworth in the Senate, would establish a non-partisan, independent commission to conduct a comprehensive examination of the War in Afghanistan and deliver actionable recommendations to ensure the United States never repeats the same mistakes.

The decision for creating the commission is after the US did not allocate money for Afghanistan for the first time in the past 21 years as Joe Biden signed the US defense budget for 2022.

Andy Kim and Peter Meijer in a statement in regards to the commission said it is imperative for the US nation to conduct a deep introspection of the presence of the United States in Afghanistan since September 11.

The statement further reads that the introspection must be comprehensive, objective, and non-partisan.

Source: Khaama Press

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

https://www.khaama.com/us-creates-commission-to-assess-two-decade-war-in-afghanistan-87687/

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Iran is dragging its feet, accelerating nuclear program: US State Department

28 December ,2021

Despite optimistic takes from Russia and Iran over the latest round of nuclear talks in Vienna, the US said Tuesday that it was still too early to describe progress and condemned Tehran for continuing to “drag its feet.”

“The last couple rounds also started with new nuclear provocations and then were characterized by, in some cases, vague, unrealistic, unconstructive positions on the part of Iran,” State Department Spokesman Ned Price told reporters during a phone briefing.

Adding that there had been “some progress” in recent weeks, he said the fundamental solution remained unchanged.

“Iran has, at best, been dragging its feet in the talks while accelerating its nuclear escalation. We’ve been very clear that that won’t work. Iran needs exercise restraint in its nuclear program and add real urgency in Vienna,” Price said.

The eighth round of indirect talks between Washington and Tehran started on Monday, with Rob Malley leading the US delegation.

Earlier Tuesday, Russia and Iran said there had been some progress and positivity during the latest round.

But Price said it was still too early to describe the talks.

The US still believes that the best way to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is by returning the 2015 deal, Price said.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/12/28/Iran-is-dragging-its-feet-accelerating-nuclear-program-US-State-Department

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US condemns Iran-backed Houthis militia’s continued attacks on Saudi Arabia

29 December ,2021

The US condemned the Iran-backed Houthi militia’s continued attacks on Saudi Arabia, stressing that the militia is a threat to its allies, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Wednesday.

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said during a virtual press conference that the Kingdom was able to eliminate about 90 percent of Houthi attacks adding that their “goal is to see this number rise to 100 percent,” indicating that the US policy targeted some Houthi leaders through sanctions and accountability.

Price said there have been more than 375 cross-border attacks since the beginning of the year, and that the US will continue to work with Saudi Arabia to stand against Houthi attacks, and “will hold the Houthis responsible for their actions.”

The UN on Tuesday called on Yemen’s Houthis to immediately release staff members they detained last month.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2021/12/29/US-condemns-Iran-backed-Houthis-militia-s-continued-attacks-on-Saudi-Arabia

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