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

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Ayodhya Mosque to Be Square-Shaped Like Kaaba Sharif in Mecca, As Hinted by Architect SM Akhtar


New Age Islam News Bureau

21 September 2020

 

 The mosque to come up in Ayodhya pursuant to the Supreme Court verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi case may be square-shaped like the Kaaba Sharif in Mecca

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• Kuwait Likely to Be Next Arab State to Normalize Ties with Israel: Trump

• London Councillor, Kamaljit Chana, Told Zeinab Alipourbabaie ‘I Do Not Like Muslims’ At Major UK Engineering Firm

• Zalmay Khalilzad Said Escalating War Throughout Afghanistan Is “Regrettable”

• ‘Political Paralysis,’ Lebanon’s Patriarch Points at Shia Leaders For Cabinet Delay

• Jewish Settlers Enter, Pray At Al Aqsa In Jerusalem Despite Coronavirus Lockdown

• Sudan, US Delegates to Meet Over Terrorism List with UAE Officials

• Opposition Parties in Pakistan Launch Alliance to Oust PM Imran Khan

• Muhyiddin Says PN Will Be More Responsive to Islamic Groups

 

India

• Ayodhya Mosque to Be Square-Shaped Like Kaaba Sharif in Mecca, As Hinted by Architect SM Akhtar

• Won’t change programme on Muslims: Channel to SC

• Pained by NDTV’s 2008 Show on Hindu Terror: Suresh Chavhanke Tells SC

• 'Love Jihad' Curse to Society, Says Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Tendulkar

• NIA interrogates alleged al Qaeda terrorists for ten hours in Kolkata

• Hazratbal Shrine, 19th Century Temple & Church Among 7 Sites To Get Facelift In Srinagar

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North America

• Kuwait Likely to Be Next Arab State to Normalize Ties with Israel: Trump

• US Says All UN Sanctions on Iran Restored, Security Council Opposes Move

• Trump is a target of Iran for ‘life’ for Soleimani killing: Supreme leader Rep.

• Trump awards Kuwait emir with Legion of Merit

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Europe

• London Councillor, Kamaljit Chana, Told Zeinab Alipourbabaie ‘I Do Not Like Muslims’ At Major UK Engineering Firm

• France urges Turkey to reopen 'responsible dialogue'

• French Christian group allegedly backs Syrian regime

• Let’s give diplomacy a chance: Erdogan tells Greece

• Turkey, France close friends no matter conditions: envoy

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South Asia

• Zalmay Khalilzad Said Escalating War Throughout Afghanistan Is “Regrettable”

• Kunduz Airstrikes against Taliban Harm Civilians

• OIC, a new emerging Muslim alliance and Bangladesh

• More than 30 Taliban fighters killed in Afghan airstrikes, says defense ministry

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Arab world

• ‘Political Paralysis,’ Lebanon’s Patriarch Points at Shia Leaders For Cabinet Delay

• Lebanon’s largest Christian party offers proposal to resolve dispute over new cabinet

• Yemen’s Houthis launch projectile towards Saudi Arabia’s Jazan, 5 civilians injured

• US military deploys more troops, armoured vehicles to oil-rich eastern Syria

• UN warns of 'war crimes' in Turkish-occupied areas in northern Syria

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Mideast

• Jewish Settlers Enter, Pray At Al Aqsa In Jerusalem Despite Coronavirus Lockdown

• Houthis Are ‘Threat’ To Yemen, Saudi Arabia, And the Entire Region

• Iran Issues Stern Warning to US to Avoid Illegal Practice of UNSC's Lifted Sanctions

• IRGC Commander: Iran Able to Set Fire to All US Bases in Region

• Iranian Spokesman Labels US as Rogue State

• Iran: Trump or Biden, No Change in US Enmity towards Iran

• US set to sanction more than 24 people; groups linked to Iran’s weapons program

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Africa

• Sudan, US Delegates to Meet Over Terrorism List with UAE Officials

• Libya’s Sarraj plan to step down upsets Turkey, says Erdogan

• Libya’s Haftar says he will lift oil blockade, while GNA agrees on fair revenue share

• Russia sends 400 war criminal mercenaries to Libya

• Nigerian forces kill 16 Boko Haram terrorists

• Somalia’s president appoints new prime minister

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Pakistan

• Opposition Parties in Pakistan Launch Alliance to Oust PM Imran Khan

• Muslim World League launches urgent relief campaign for Pakistan flood victims

• Pakistan tells India to respect diplomatic norms

• MQM-P plans march on Thursday for ‘rights of urban Sindh’

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Southeast Asia

• Muhyiddin Says PN Will Be More Responsive to Islamic Groups

• After DAP suggests he gives way to Shafie for PM post, Anwar says he can get the numbers

• Syed Saddiq announces scholarship entry into Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/ayodhya-mosque-to-be-square-shaped-like-kaaba-sharif-in-mecca-as-hinted-by-architect-sm-akhtar/d/122907

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 Ayodhya Mosque to Be Square-Shaped Like Kaaba Sharif in Mecca, As Hinted by Architect SM Akhtar

20 September 2020

 

The mosque to come up in Ayodhya pursuant to the Supreme Court verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi case may be square-shaped like the Kaaba Sharif in Mecca

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The mosque to come up in Ayodhya pursuant to the Supreme Court verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi case may be square-shaped like the Kaaba Sharif in Mecca and will not be named after any emperor or king.

Secretary and spokesperson of the Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation (IICF) Athar Hussain told PTI on Sunday, "A mosque measuring 15,000 square feet will be built in Dhannipur village. It will be of the same size as that of the Babri mosque. The shape of the mosque may be completely different from that of other mosques. It may be square-shaped like the Kaaba Sharif in Mecca, as hinted by architect SM Akhtar."

To a question on whether the mosque will have no domes or minarets like the Kaaba Sharif, Hussain said it could be a possibility.

He said the architect has been given a free hand in this regard.

"The mosque will not be named Babri Masjid. It will not be named after any king or emperor. My personal opinion is that it should be called the Dhannipur Masjid," Hussain said.

He also informed that the trust is making its portal so that people can donate for the mosque and the museum, hospital and research centre which will be built inside the complex. Write-ups by national and international Islamic scholars will also appear on the portal.

He said some work on the portal is yet to be completed and hence, donation is yet to begin.

The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board has formed the IICF, a trust, for the construction of the mosque on a five-acre plot.

The state government has allotted the five-acre plot in Ayodhya's Dhannipur for the construction of the mosque on the directive of the apex court.

After a protracted legal tussle, the Supreme Court, on November 9 last year, ruled in favour of the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya and directed the Centre to allot an alternative five-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board for building a new mosque at a "prominent" place in the holy town in Uttar Pradesh.

The Babri mosque in Ayodhya was demolished on December 6, 1992 by "kar sevaks", who claimed that an ancient Ram temple stood at the same site.

https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/india-news-ayodhya-mosque-to-be-square-shaped-like-meccas-kaaba-officials/360619

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Kuwait Likely to Be Next Arab State to Normalize Ties with Israel: Trump

19 September 2020

 

US President Donald Trump says Kuwait will likely be the third Persian Gulf Arab state to normalize its diplomatic ties with Israel

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US President Donald Trump says Kuwait will likely be the third Persian Gulf Arab state to normalize its diplomatic ties with the occupying Israeli regime under his auspices.

During a signing ceremony at the White House on Tuesday, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain officially normalized their relations with Israel. They became only the third and fourth Arab states to ever establish formal ties with the occupying regime after Egypt and Jordan.

At the White House, Trump claimed “five or six” more Arab countries were poised to agree to normalize relations with Israel.

The deals were widely censured by Palestinians as a betrayal of their cause, a sentiment echoed by regional players Iran and Turkey and Muslim authorities throughout the region.

Trump announced the likely normalization of bilateral ties between Kuwait and Israel at a White House press briefing Friday hours after meeting with the son of Kuwait’s ruling emir.

The White House said the president had awarded the US Legion of Merit, Degree Chief Commander, to Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, adding that it was the first time the honor has been given since 1991.

The White House praised the ailing 91-year-old emir as a "friend and partner to the United States" who offered his country's "indispensable" support to the US government in pursuit of its foreign policy and military agenda in the Persian Gulf.

The Kuwaiti emir visited the United States in July to complete medical treatment after having undergone surgery that month.

The emir's eldest son, Sheikh Nasser Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, accepted the award on behalf of his father at a private ceremony with Trump on Friday.

Trump’s remarks were a stark contrast from what the Kuwaiti government had said last month. A local newspaper cited a Kuwaiti official as saying that the Persian Gulf state would “be the last” to sign a normalization agreement with Israel.

“Our stance on ‘Israel’ has not changed following the UAE normalization agreement, and we will be the last to normalize relations,” the al-Qabas newspaper cited the unnamed senior official as stating.

“The Kuwaiti position is consistent with its decades-old foreign policy approach in support of the Palestinian cause, as it is the premier Arab issue,” it added, quoting the official.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/09/19/634541/US-Trump-Kuwait-Israel-

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London Councillor, Kamaljit Chana, Told Zeinab Alipourbabaie ‘I Do Not Like Muslims’ At Major UK Engineering Firm

September 20, 2020

 

Kamaljit Chana was disciplined for his treatment of Zeinab Alipourbabaie

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LONDON: An engineer at major UK engineering firm Dyson has won claims for religious discrimination and her unfair dismissal after her manager told her: “I do not like Muslims.”

Zeinab Alipourbabaie was a senior electrical engineer at Dyson, founded by British billionaire James Dyson.

The 39-year-old Iranian resigned from her position in 2018 after a campaign of harassment, bullying and discrimination by a senior project manager, Kamaljit Chana, who also serves as a councillor for the Conservative Party in Harrow, London, The Sunday Times reported.

A Bristol employment tribunal found that in a 2017 meeting, Chana, who is Sikh, told Alipourbabaie that “Muslims and violent,” and “Pakistani men are grooming our girls.”

He also repeatedly excluded her from meetings and emails, criticized her unfairly to senior leadership and advised against her promotion, the tribunal was told.

She was recommended for promotion three times by her line manager without result.

The court ruled that her 2018 resignation amounted to constructive unfair dismissal due to Chana’s behavior.

The judgment gave an account of Chana’s first tirade against Alipourbabaie, in which he “asked if she was a Muslim.” When she replied that she came from a Muslim family, he said that “he did not like Muslims...

“Mr Chana talked about 9/11 and said his family did not take flights anymore because they were scared…He went on to say Pakistani men are grooming our girls.”

Alipourbabaie, originally from Tehran, said Chana’s behavior “had a huge impact” on her life.

“I couldn’t sleep. It was like getting hit by a car or having an accident. Something I had no control over but [that] hit me hard,” she said.

Leaving her job put her British residency in doubt, though she later found new work at a major car manufacturer.

She hailed the British judicial system in a statement, saying: “Yes, it’s terrible what Kam did to me, it’s terrible what HR did to me, but it’s good that I’m in a good country with a justice system that I trust.”

Dyson said Alipourbabaie’s allegations were investigated fully and disciplinary action was taken against Chana, who was found to have acted inappropriately.

The UK’s Conservative Party has previously faced allegations of Islamophobia from members of the party, including other councilors.

In March, the Muslim Council of Britain submitted a dossier of over 300 allegations of Islamophobia to the UK government’s Equalities and Human Rights Commission.

The Conservative Party said it would investigate Chana’s case if it received a complaint.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1737301/world

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Zalmay Khalilzad Said Escalating War Throughout Afghanistan Is “Regrettable”

By Mohammad Arif Sheva

21 Sep 2020

KABUL, Afghanistan – The United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said escalating war throughout the country is “regrettable”, calling for all sides to reduce violence in Afghanistan amid ongoing peace negotiations.

While security threats and violence throughout the country have escalated more recently, Khalilzad called for “all sides” of the negotiations to reduce violence.

War Escalation ‘Regrettable’, Says Peace Envoy

“Over the last few days, there has been a clear rise in violence in Afghanistan,” he said in a tweet late Sunday. “This escalation is regrettable as Afghans, including many civilians, are losing their lives.”

“Given the recent start of Afghanistan Peace Negotiations, it is imperative all sides reduce violence significantly,” he added.

The United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said “spoilers” are desperately trying to “disrupt” the ongoing peace process that determines the future of Afghanistan, as terrorists targeted First Vice President Amrullah Saleh in Kabul Wednesday.

“As peace talks near, spoilers are becoming more desperate in their attempt to disrupt this historic opportunity (peace process),” Khalilzad said in a tweet thread.  “Today’s attack on @AmrullahSaleh‘s convoy is the latest example.”

He believes anti-government groups are crossing lines just to cause hindrance to any progress the country is reaching to, saying past experiences have thought Afghans not to fall for such a “trap”.

“History has shown that when the opportunity for peace is close, spoilers will go to no end to try and stop it,” he said.  “Afghans are not falling for their trap.”

“Afghans know a successful peace process is the only antidote to the country’s protracted conflict,” he added.” Their widespread yearning for peace will be for the two negotiating teams and their leaders’ to satisfy.”

Khalilzad’s remark came hours after a roadside bomb targeted First Vice President Amrullah Saleh on Wednesday, disrupting relative peaceful morning for residents and the convoy.

While Saleh escaped the attack with miner injures, at least 10 civilians were confirmed dead and further 15 wounded.

The Taliban denied responsibility for the attack, holding to its pledge of not launching attacks in urban areas.

In a video footage Khaama Press reached to, Saleh – with bandages on his left hand, said his convoy was attacked when he was traveling to office.

“I am fine but some of my guards have been wounded. My son, who was in the car with me, and I are both fine,” he said. “I have some burns on my face and hand.”

https://www.khaama.com/war-escalation-regrettable-says-peace-envoy-34534/

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‘Political paralysis,’ Lebanon’s Patriarch points at Shia leaders for cabinet delay

20 September 2020

Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch took a swipe at leaders of the Shia Muslim community on Sunday for making demands he said were blocking the formation of a new government and causing political paralysis in a nation in deep crisis.

Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai did not mention Shia directly but asked how one sect can demand “a certain ministry.” Shia politicians have said they must name the finance minister.

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

Sunday’s sermon adds to tensions in a nation facing its worst crisis since a civil war ended in 1990 and where power is traditionally shared out between Muslims and Christians.

France has been pushing Lebanon to form a new cabinet fast. But a deadline of September 15 that politicians told Paris they would meet has been missed amid a row over appointments, notably the finance minister, a post Shia controlled for years.

Shia politicians say they must choose some posts because rivals are trying to use “foreign leverage” to push them aside.

“In what capacity does a sect demand a certain ministry as if it is its own, and obstruct the formation of the government, until it achieves its goals, and so causes political paralysis?” the patriarch of Lebanon’s biggest Christian community said.

He said the Taif agreement, a pact that ended the 1975-1990 civil war, did not hand specific ministries to specific sects.

Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib, a Sunni Muslim, wants to appoint specialists and shake up the leadership of ministries.

The main Shia groups - the Amal Movement and the heavily armed, Iranian-backed Hezbollah - want to select the figures to fill several posts, including the finance minister, a vital position as Lebanon navigates through its economic crisis.

A French roadmap for Lebanon includes the swift resumption of talks with the International Monetary Fund, a first step to helping deal with a mountain of debt and fix Lebanon’s broken banking sector. But it first needs a government.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/09/20/-Political-paralysis-Lebanon-s-Patriarch-points-at-Shia-leaders-for-cabinet-delay

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Jewish settlers enter, pray at Al Aqsa in Jerusalem despite coronavirus lockdown

Emily Judd

20 September 2020

Jewish settlers entered the Al Aqsa compound on Sunday, according to witnesses, despite the site closing on Friday after Israel implemented a strict coronavirus lockdown.

The group prayed around Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa compound, which houses six mosques including the ancient Dome of the Rock, in commemoration of the Jewish New Year, known as Rosh Hashanah.

Described as “religious settlers,” the individuals were “heavily guarded by Israeli police” and “performed rituals and provocative tours,” according to the Palestine News and Info Agency, which is linked to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

The controversial visit comes after the Israeli government ordered a second coronavirus lockdown on Friday, ordering all residents to stay within 1,000 meters of their homes for three weeks.

Al Aqsa’s religious authorities announced Friday it would close for three weeks. However witnesses reported Jewish worshippers on the site on Sunday morning.

Known in Islam as Haram al-Sharif (translated as The Noble Sanctuary), the site is called the Temple Mount in the religion of Judaism.

In ancient times, a Jewish temple - built and destroyed twice - stood in the area.

While most Jewish worshippers pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, many right-wing religious Jewish people have insisted on praying inside the Al Aqsa compound in recent years, causing uproar within the local and international Muslim community who say the action violates the status quo.

Jordan, which maintains custodianship of Al Aqsa, condemned “continuous Israeli violations” at the space earlier this month after Israeli authorities installed loudspeakers on the premises.

Al Arabiya English reached out to the Israeli Prime Minister's office for comment on the matter and was directed to the Israeli police department, which had not responded at the time of publication.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/09/20/Jewish-worshippers-enter-pray-at-Al-Aqsa-in-Jerusalem-despite-coronavirus-lockdown

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Sudan, US delegates to meet over terrorism list with UAE officials

20 September 2020

A delegation from Sudan’s sovereign council will meet with delegates from the United States and the United Arab Emirates to discuss removing Sudan from a list of state sponsors of terrorism, the council said in a statement on Sunday.

The council’s chairman Abdel Fattah al-Burhan will be heading to the UAE on Sunday for a two-day visit, where he will meet with officials from the UAE to discuss the latest developments in Sudan and the region.

Al-Burhan will also meet with a team of officials from the US administration for talks on removing Sudan from the terrorism list.

The US sanctioned Sudan over its alleged support for militant groups and the civil war in Darfur, during Omar al-Bashir’s rule.

Trade sanctions were lifted in 2017 but Sudan remains on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, which prevents it from accessing badly needed funding from international lenders.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/09/20/Sudan-US-delegates-to-meet-over-terrorism-list-with-UAE-officials-

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Opposition parties in Pakistan launch alliance to oust PM Imran Khan

Sep 21, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Demanding Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's immediate resignation, the country's major Opposition parties have launched an alliance to hold a countrywide protest movement to oust his government.

A 26-point joint resolution was adopted on Sunday by the All Parties Conference (APC), which was hosted by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and attended by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) and several other parties.

At a joint press conference after the end of the multi-party meeting, JUI-F chief Mualana Fazl ur Rehman read out the resolution and said that the Opposition parties have agreed to launch an alliance named Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) to organise countrywide protests against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government from October.

The resolution alleged that the Khan government has been granted "fake stability by the same establishment" that interfered with the elections to bring the incumbent rulers to power.

In an obvious reference to the powerful Pakistan Army, the resolution expressed "extreme concern" over the increasing interference of the establishment in the internal affairs of the country and regarded it as a "danger to the nation's stability and institutions".

According to the resolution, the protests would start in phases. In the first phase, the Opposition parties will hold joint rallies in all four provinces in October. The second phase will begin in December during which the Opposition will hold huge rallies across the country.

Finally, a "decisive" long march towards Islamabad would start in January next year to oust the government.

The forum also demanded that elections be held again in a transparent manner and that electoral reforms should be passed in order to ensure free and fair polls.

Terming the Parliament a "rubber stamp", the PDM declared that the opposition will not cooperate with the government in the legislative process.

The Opposition will also enlist lawyers, traders, farmers, students, media as well as members of the civil society in its movement. In order to oust the government, opposition parties will use "every legal and constitutional option in and out of parliament, which include moving no-confidence motions and collective resignations from assemblies at an appropriate time," the resolution stated.

The joint resolution, JUI-F chief Rehman said, has also rejected any attempt to introduce a presidential form of government in the country and pledged to strengthen the parliamentary system of the country.

Earlier, addressing the multi-party conference through a video link from London, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif said the struggle of the Opposition parties was not against Khan but against those who brought an "inefficient" man to power.

The 70-year-old PML-N supremo has been living in London since November last year after the Lahore High Court granted him permission to go abroad for four weeks for treatment.

On Friday, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari talked to him over phone and invited him to virtually attend the conference.

Sharif staged a political comeback by criticising the country's powerful military establishment for allegedly supporting Khan.

"Our struggle is not against Imran Khan. Today, our struggle is against those who installed Imran Khan and who manipulated elections (of 2018) to bring an inefficient man like him into power and thus destroyed the country,” he said.

He asked the Pakistan Army to stay away from politics and follow the Constitution and vision of the country's father ‘Quaid-e-Azam' Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

"If change is not brought, it will bring irreversible loss to this country...We have made this country a joke in our own eyes and internationally as well," Sharif said.

The Pakistan Army has ruled the country for more than half of its 70 plus years of existence and has wielded considerable power in the matters of security and foreign policy.

Before Sharif, former president Asif Ali Zardari also addressed the conference through a video-link and criticised the government, which he said was using the tactics to suppress the Opposition.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/opposition-parties-in-pakistan-launch-alliance-to-oust-pm-imran-khan/articleshow/78228009.cms

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Muhyiddin says PN will be more responsive to Islamic groups

September 19, 2020

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, in a meeting with leaders of Islamic organisations today assured them that the Perikatan Nasional government will be more sensitive and responsive to their concerns.

Muhyiddin said some Islamic NGO leaders have expressed their worries over major challenges faced by Muslims in Malaysia and around the world, especially on new developments in the way of life and thinking, which are seen as a threat to Muslim beliefs and moral values.

These challenges include the influence of western liberalism and secular ideologies which do not see religion as something important in human life, but instead uphold personal freedom to the extent of going against Islamic laws and teachings, he said.

“I too, have the same stance on the importance of giving priority to efforts in upholding the sanctity of Islam, empowering institutions that contribute to the progress of Muslims and strengthening the unity of the ummah,” he said in a special meeting with Islamic NGO leaders organised by Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia here.

Muhyiddin said the influence of the ideologies had created various forms of movements at the international level as well as in Malaysia, which demanded the implementation and enforcement of Islamic laws to be reviewed.

This includes movements demanding that parts of the Islamic law be repealed and practices that clearly deviate from Islamic laws such as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) and deviant teachings be allowed, he said.

According to him, the developments have created anxiety among Muslims in Malaysia causing several Islamic NGO leaders to rise in defence of the religious faith and the position of Islam as the religion of the Federation.

However, in an effort to protect and defend the sanctity of Islam and the purity of the faith, Muhyiddin reminded not to take extreme approaches that could cause unrest in this plural society nation.

“The government will not compromise with any form of extremist practices that could threaten racial harmony, public order and national security, and firm actions based on the law will be taken against those who spread extremist practices and beliefs regardless of religion,” he said.

Muhyiddin hoped that the Malaysian Islamic Charity Council established in 2009 could be mobilised again by the new Yadim leadership in helping the government to strengthen dakwah and tarbiyyah efforts in the country.

MAIM was established with the consent of the then Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, to be the platform to coordinate Islamic NGOs in Malaysia.

Yadim president Nasrudin Hassan presented a resolution from Islamic NGOs to Muhyiddin.

Muhyiddin said he was confident that the resolution handed over to him symbolised the concerns and commitments of Islamic NGO leaders in strengthening Islamic teachings and developing the ummah.

“InsyaAllah, I will review and give due attention to the recommendations that have been submitted,” he said.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2020/09/19/muhyiddin-says-pn-will-be-more-responsive-to-islamic-groups/

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India

 

Won’t change programme on Muslims: Channel to SC

Sep 21, 2020

NEW DELHI: Sudarshan TV hardened its stand on Sunday by refusing to carry out any change in its controversial programme ‘Bindas Bol’ which alleged that Muslims were “infiltrating UPSC” and gave a bald assurance to the Supreme Court that it would strictly adhere to the programme code mandated by law.

In response, the channel gave no details about changes it would carry out, except for reiterating its earlier stand that it would scrupulously stick to the programme code as enshrined in law. It also said it had no ill-will against any community and that it was not against any Muslim candidate entering the civil services. It said the theme of the programme was the terror-linked funds received by Zakat Foundation, which met the civil services coaching expenses of Muslim students. It also clarified that it did not mean to project that all funds received by Zakat Foundation were terror linked.

Referring to the judges’ objection to stereotyping of a community with beards, green T-shirt and skull caps, the channel extracted two programmes shown by NDTV in 2008 and 2010 titled ‘Hindu Terror: Myth or Fact’ and ‘Is Saffron Terror Real’. The channel said in the first programme, “a Hindu saint is shown with ‘tilak’ and ‘chillum’ and also a trishul”. In the second programme, “a Hindu gathering was shown in saffron clothes”.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/wont-change-programme-on-muslims-channel-to-sc/articleshow/78225307.cms

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Pained by NDTV’s 2008 Show on Hindu Terror: Suresh Chavhanke Tells SC

Murali Krishnan

Sep 20, 2020

Television news channel Sudarshan News filed a fresh affidavit in the Supreme Court on Sunday stating that it will comply with all laws while airing the remaining episodes of the controversial programme Bindas Bol relating to the entry of Muslims in civil services and prayed that the September 15 injunction on the telecast of remaining episodes be lifted.

The affidavit filed by Editor-in-Chief of the channel, Suresh Chavhanke reiterated it earlier stance that the channel does not harbour any ill-will against any particular community and reaffirmed its commitment to abide by the Programme Code under the Cable Television Network Rules which prescribes the permissible limit of TV content.

“I will strictly comply with all laws while airing the remaining episodes of ‘Bindas Bol’ program series on the subject of UPSC Jihad. The respondent (Chavhanke) further states that he we will abide and comply by the programme code and directions of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting strictly,” the affidavit filed through advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain said.

Interestingly, Chavhanke, in his affidavit highlighted two shows aired by another NDTV, one in September 2008 titled “Hindu Terror: Myth or Fact” and another in 2010 titled “Is Saffron Threat Real?” which he submitted “pained” and “shocked” him.

“The deponent (Chavhanke ) was shocked and pained when on September 17, 2008 NDTV (English News Channel) had broadcast a programme anchored by Ms. Barkha Dutt titled as “‘Hindu’ Terror: Myth or fact.” In this programme just adjacent to the programme caption i.e. “‘Hindu’ Terror: Myth or fact?”, a Hindu Saint was shown with ‘Tilak’ and ‘Chillam’ and also a ‘Trishul’ (one of most scared symbols for Hindus and associated with most revered deity of the Hindus, ‘Lord Shiva’)”, the affidavit said.

The Supreme Court had on September 18 ordered Sudarshan News to file an affidavit giving details of what changes it proposed to make regarding Bindas Bol so as to convince the court to lift the injunction imposed on September 15.

The injunction was imposed after a lawyer, Firoz Iqbal Khan approached the top court alleging that the programme contained statements which were derogatory about the entry of Muslims in the civil services and was in violation of the programme code.

The Noida-based news channel had earlier filed an affidavit on September 16 claiming Bindas Bol is only intended to highlight the alleged dubious sources of foreign funding received by an organization, Zakat Foundation which supports and provides coaching for civil service aspirants. The channel had said that it does not oppose selection of any meritorious candidate to UPSC and its intention was only to highlight anti-national activities.

The Supreme Court, during the hearing of the case on September 18, said that it will not stand in the way of media discussing dubious funding of NGOs or issues concerning national security. But targeting an entire community on the basis of dubious funding of one organization is not acceptable, the court added taking exception to certain visuals aired in the first 4 episodes of Bindas Bol which the bench said were “very hurtful” and stereotyped Muslim community.

Meanwhile, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) also filed an affidavit before the apex court asking the court to pass directions to ensure that the Code of Ethics laid down by NBA for self-regulation of TV news channels should be given the force of law by including it under the Programme Code.

This would make the Code of Ethics binding on all TV broadcasters irrespective of whether or not the broadcaster is a member of NBA, the affidavit filed on September 19 added.

The Programme Code under Rule 6 of the Cable TV Rules regulates TV content by laying down what is not permissible to be carried in a cable service. The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act of 1995 along with Cable TV Rules and the Programme Code regulate television content.

Besides, the NBA which is a private association of 26 news channels has also framed a code of conduct for self-regulation of media. It can hold inquiry against broadcasters for violation of the code and can impose fine of up to Rs 1 lakh. But the same is applicable only to its members and many broadcasters including Sudarshan News are not members of NBA.

The Supreme Court had taken a grim view of NBA’s functioning on September 18 calling it “toothless”.

“NBA says they have a committee headed by a retired Supreme Court judge. They can impose a maximum fine of 1 lakh. This shows how toothless you are,” justice DY Chandrachud who was heading the bench said, underscoring that a fine of Rs 1 lakh will not have any impact on a news channel.

Justice Chandrachud also pointed out that the NBA’s jurisdiction extends only to those broadcasters which are its members.

The court had, therefore, asked NBA to come up with concrete suggestions on strengthening its self-regulation mechanism.

“The court should grant recognition to the independent self-regulatory mechanism, so that complaints against all news broadcasters, whether members or not, may be entertained by NBA and the orders passed by it would be binding on all news broadcasters,” NBA said in its affidavit.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/pained-by-ndtv-s-2008-show-on-hindu-terror-suresh-chavhanke-tells-sc/story-ctjqz9p033A6rk65qxK0AM.html

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'Love Jihad' curse to society, says Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Tendulkar

21st September 2020

PANAJI: Goa BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member Vinay Tendulkar on Sunday termed "Love Jihaad" a curse to the society.

"This is very critical issue which has cursed our society from quite a long time but is coming out in open now. We have lost plenty of our sisters and daughters to #loveJihaad. Everyone is free to choose their partners, but we must scrutinize their background. #LoveTrap," the former Goa BJP chief said on Twitter.

https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2020/sep/21/love-jihad-curse-to-society-saysrajya-sabha-mp-vinay-tendulkar-2199668.html

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NIA interrogates alleged al Qaeda terrorists for ten hours in Kolkata

Edited by Sohini Sarkar

Sep 20, 2020

Officers of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Sunday interrogated the six alleged al-Qaeda terrorists, arrested the day before from Bengal’s Murshidabad district, for more than ten hours at the agency’s office at Salt Lake in the eastern outskirts of Kolkata.

The agency has plans to fly the suspects to Delhi on Monday evening. Before that they will be questioned by a team of the Special Task Force (STF) of the Kolkata Police, officers aware of the developments said.

An officer from the state CID questioned the suspects on Sunday evening.

Officials aware of the developments also said that bank accounts of two of the suspects showed deposits that did not match their income. Efforts were being made to find out if the arrested men were members of a common social media group. It is also being probed whether they had recruited people from other districts, especially Birbhum, where gelatin sticks stolen from stone quarries have been smuggled in large quantities in recent years.

The arrested men were examined by doctors from a local hospital on Sunday since they are in transit police remand.

Significantly, the arrests were made five days after a NIA court in Kolkata ordered a seven-year jail sentence and fine for two men connected with the 2014 IED blast at Khagragarh in Burdwan district where the banned terrorist organization Jamat-ul-Mujaheedin of Bangladesh (JMB) was operating a cell.

On Saturday, NIA teams conducted simultaneous raids at several locations at Ernakulum in Kerala and Murshidabad and arrested nine men suspected to be associated with a Pakistan sponsored module of al-Qaeda.

The three men arrested in Kerala were identified as Murshid Hasan, Iyakub Biswas and Mosaraf Hossen. Those arrested in Murshidabad are Najmus Sakib, Abu Sufiyan, Mainul Mondal, Leu Yean Ahmed, Al Mamun Kamal and Atitur Rehman.

The NIA said that it got to know about an inter-state module of al-Qaeda operatives at various locations in India including West Bengal and Kerala. The group was planning to undertake terrorist attacks in Delhi and at vital installations in India with an aim to kill innocent people, the agency said in a statement.

According to the NIA, incriminating material including digital devices, documents, jihadi literature, sharp weapons, country-made firearms, a locally fabricated body armour, articles and literature used for making home-made explosive devices were seized from the possession of the arrested men.

“As per preliminary investigation, these individuals were radicalised by Pakistan-based al-Qaeda terrorists on social media and were motivated to undertake attacks at multiple places including the National Capital Region. For this purpose, the module was actively indulging in fund raising and a few members of gang were planning to travel to New Delhi to procure arms and ammunition. These arrests have pre-empted possible terrorist attacks in various parts of the country,” said a NIA statement.

On September 15, a NIA court in Kolkata ordered a seven-year jail sentence for two men in the 2014 Khagragarh blast case. Mustafizzur Rehman alias Saqib alias Tuhin was arrested in December, 2018 and convicted under Section 120B and 125 of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 18, 18A, 18B, 19 and 20 of the UA (P) Act.

The second convict, Kadar Kazi alias Kador was arrested in January 2019. He was convicted under Section 120B and 125 of the IPC and Section 18 and 20 of the UA (P) Act.

On October 2, 2014, the IED went off accidentally when it was being assembled by JMB members who had taken the house on rent to carry out operations. Two people died in the blast while a third suffered injuries. The case was initially probed by the state police before NIA took over the case.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/nia-interrogates-alleged-al-qaeda-terrorists-for-ten-hours-in-kolkata/story-ct5RlNSFoHEfBu7kVvMNxN.html

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Hazratbal shrine, 19th century temple & church among 7 sites to get facelift in Srinagar

Sep 20, 2020

NEW DELHI: The Jammu and Kashmir administration is spending Rs 6 crore to revamp seven historical sites, including the Hazratbal shrine, 19th Century Raghunath temple and St Luke’s Church, as part of its heritage revitalisation project under the smart city mission.

“Srinagar is among the heritage cities in India. Restoration and conservation of historical shrines is an important component of the smart city project. Restoration work will cover sites of all faiths,” Srinagar DM Shahid Choudhary told TOI.

The administration had tied up with the Indian National Trust for Art and Culture Heritage to plan the renovation and prepare a detailed project report. It is eyeing December as the deadline to finish work on all the sites.

While the Hazratbal shrine is getting a facelift with a new pathway constructed at its approach, Gurdwara Damdama Sahib is being entirely reconstructed. According to the DM, “The smart city board has approved reconstruction of the gurdwara which was demolished to pave way for the Srinagar-Baramulla highway last December.”

There are also ambitious plans to revive the beauty of the Raghunath temple, built by first Dogra ruler Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1835, which has been lying abandoned for three decades. The temple will get a new corrugated galvanised iron (CGI) roof, distinctive maharaja bricks (handmade bricks used in traditional construction system) and devri stone (a type of limestone) cladding.

St Luke’s Church which was established in 1896 will also get wooden flooring, deodar wood cladding, linseed oil work and brick footpath. “The church will have a khatamband ceiling,” said a district official. In khatamband, wood is joined together in geometrical shapes to form a ceiling.

Imambara Hassanabad — built several times over the centuries as it kept witnessing fire incidents — is also part of the project. "The site, which is named after Baba Hassan, a prominent 16th century saint, has been damaged several times. It is a rare example of Indo-Iranian architecture,” said the official.

Khanqah-e-Moula (a mosque in old city), Khanqah Naqshband Saheb (a shrine) and Jama Masjid will also go through restoration works, he said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/hazratbal-shrine-19th-century-temple-church-among-7-sites-to-get-facelift-under-jk-smart-city-mission/articleshow/78222766.cms

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North America

 

US says all UN sanctions on Iran restored, Security Council opposes move

20 September 2020

The Trump administration declared Saturday that all UN sanctions against Iran have been restored, a move most of the rest of the world rejects as illegal and sets the stage for an ugly showdown at the world body ahead of its annual General Assembly.

The administration said that its triggering of the “snapback” mechanism in the UN Security Council resolution that enshrined the 2015 Iran nuclear deal had taken effect at 8 p.m. Eastern Time. That is 30 days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notified the council that Iran was in “significant non-performance” with its obligations under the accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

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

“The United States took this decisive action because, in addition to Iran’s failure to perform its JCPOA commitments, the Security Council failed to extend the UN arms embargo on Iran, which had been in place for 13 years,” Pompeo said in a statement released at precisely 8 p.m.

“In accordance with our rights ... we initiated the snapback process to restore virtually all previously terminated UN sanctions, including the arms embargo,” he said. “The world will be safer as a result.”

The White House plans to issue an executive order on Monday spelling out how the US will enforce the restored sanctions, and the State and Treasury departments are expected to outline how foreign individuals and businesses will be penalized for violations.

“The United States expects all UN, member states to fully comply with their obligations to implement these measures,” Pompeo said. “If UN, member states fail to fulfill their obligations to implement these sanctions, the United States is prepared to use our domestic authorities to impose consequences for those failures and ensure that Iran does not reap the benefits of UN-prohibited activity.”

But the US move faces stiff opposition from the other members of the Security Council who have vowed to ignore it. They say the US lost legal standing to invoke snapback when President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposed American sanctions on Iran. The US argues it retains the right to do it as an original participant in the deal and a member of the council.

Even before the US declaration, fellow Security Council members said the declaration had no legal force, calling into question the ability to enforce snapback.

Snapback means that international sanctions eased or lifted by the nuclear deal are reimposed and must be enforced by UN member states, including hitting Iran with penalties for uranium enrichment to any level, ballistic missile activity and buying or selling conventional weapons.

Those bans were either removed or set to expire under the terms of the deal in which Iran was granted billions of dollars in sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

China and Russia have been particularly adamant in rejecting the US position, but US allies have not been shy either. In a letter sent Friday to the president of the Security Council, Britain, France and Germany — the three European participants who remain committed to the deal — said the US announcement “is incapable of having legal effect and so cannot bring in to effect the procedure.”

“It flows from this that any decisions and actions which would be taken based on this procedure or on its possible outcome would also be incapable of having any legal effect,” they wrote. Thus, the three countries said, the sanctions relief provided by the nuclear deal will remain in place.

US officials have talked tough about their intentions to ensure the sanctions are enforced, but it remains unclear how the administration will respond to being ignored, particularly by its European allies, which have pledged to keep the nuclear deal alive. A wholesale rejection of the US position could push the administration, which has already withdrawn from multiple UN agencies, organizations and treaties, further away from the international community.

In the midst of a heated campaign for reelection, Trump plans to address Iran in a speech to the General Assembly’s annual high-level meeting on Tuesday. Officials say he will also touch on his brokering of agreements for Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to normalize relations in part to solidify a regional bulwark against Iran.

And, as he seeks to demonstrate statesmanlike credentials ahead of the election, Trump has injected another element of uncertainty into the mix by threatening to retaliate “1,000 times” harder against Iran if it attacks US personnel overseas.

Iran earlier Saturday warned that it may still strike US interests to avenge the death of a top Iranian general in an American airstrike earlier this year. But the head of the country’s Revolutionary Guard Corps mocked a report that it was plotting to assassinate the US ambassador to South Africa, saying Iran’s response would target people directly or indirectly involved in the general’s death.

Amid uncertainty over that, the other 14 members of the Security Council and all but about five of the UN’s 195 member states say the US lost its legal standing to act on sanctions when Trump withdrew from the nuclear accord more than two years ago.

Pompeo traveled to the United Nations on Aug. 20 to formally notify the Security Council that the US was triggering snapback because Iran is not complying with the nuclear deal. He dismissed suggestions that the administration was engaged in anything legally questionable or even controversial.

He has said the snapback mechanism was the “one thing that the previous administration got right” in the nuclear deal that Trump has denounced as the worst deal ever negotiated. Yet, aside from Israel and the Gulf Arab states, almost no country in the world agrees with the US.

Trump administration officials have been attacking the 2015 nuclear deal for years. They say it is fatally flawed because certain restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activity gradually expire and will allow the country to eventually develop atomic weapons.

The immediate concern of the US has been the indefinite extension of the arms embargo that would otherwise expire on Oct. 18. The Security Council rejected a US effort to extend the embargo in a lopsided vote which saw the United States get support from only one country, the Dominican Republic.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/09/20/US-says-all-UN-sanctions-on-Iran-restored-but-world-yawns

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Trump is a target of Iran for ‘life’ for Soleimani killing: Supreme leader Rep.

Yaghoub Fazeli

20 September 2020

US President Donald Trump will be a target of the Iranian military “for the rest of his life” for his involvement in the killing of General Qassem Soleimani, a representative of Iran’s supreme leader warned on Sunday.

As “the killer of Soleimani,” Trump will for the rest of his “dirty and disgraceful” life be a target of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor-in-chief of state-run newspaper Kayhan, wrote in the paper.

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

Trump will remain a target irrespective of whether he is president or not, Shariatmadari, a close associate of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his representative in Kayhan, said.

On Saturday, the head of the IRGC Hossein Salami threatened to go after everyone who had a role in the death of Soleimani.

Soleimani, who headed the Quds Force – the overseas arms of the IRGC – was killed in a US airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport on January 3.

He was considered the second most important figure in the Iranian regime after Khamenei.

Iran retaliated days later by launching a ballistic missile attack on military bases in Iraq hosting US troops.

However, Tehran has stressed its revenge for Soleimani’s death is “not over.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/09/20/Trump-is-a-target-for-life-for-Soleimani-killing-Supreme-leader-representative

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Trump awards Kuwait emir with Legion of Merit

Michael Hernandez

18.09.2020

WASHINGTON

President Donald Trump awarded Friday Kuwaiti Emir Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah, 91, the prestigious Legion of Merit, a top US honor.

Al-Sabah's eldest son received the honor in his father's stead during a private ceremony as the Kuwaiti leader is currently ill and in the US receiving treatment. It is unclear which illness he is suffering from, but multiple reports said he is being treated at Minnesota's Mayo Clinic.

The White House said the emir "has been a truly unwavering friend and partner to the United States," pointing to Kuwait's support in a series of US military campaigns in the region, including the most recent US-led operations to defeat Daesh.

"His tireless mediation of disputes in the Middle East has bridged divides under the most challenging circumstances. The President is very pleased to award this honor to his dear friend, the Amir," the White House said in a statement.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/trump-awards-kuwait-emir-with-legion-of-merit/1978384

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Europe

 

France urges Turkey to reopen 'responsible dialogue'

Jeyhun Aliyev  

19.09.2020

French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday called on Turkey to reopen a "responsible dialogue" on the Eastern Mediterranean.

"In Ajaccio, we sent a clear message to Turkey: let's reopen a responsible dialogue, in good faith, without naivety. This call is now also that of the European Parliament. It seems to have been heard. Let's move on," Macron said in a tweet in Turkish.

Turkey on Friday accused Macron of adding fuel to the fire in the Eastern Mediterranean and making it harder to solve problems.

In an exclusive interview with Britain's Channel 4 News, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the French president is trying to take on the role of Napoleon who died two centuries ago but Macron is not strong enough for this.

Akar said Macron is trying to have some roles in the Eastern Mediterranean to obscure his problems in France.

He stressed that Turkey defends its rights and interests, reminding that it has approximately 2,000 kilometers (around 1,242 miles) of coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean.

With regard to the EU's attitude on the issue, Akar said the EU does not contribute to the solution and has become a part of the deadlock.

He said the EU does not have any authority to set or change rules or draw borders in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Tensions have recently escalated over the issue of energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Greece has disputed Turkey's energy exploration in the region, trying to box in Turkish maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast.

Turkey -- the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean -- has sent out drill ships, with military escort, to explore for energy on its continental shelf, saying that both Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus have rights in the region.

To reduce tensions, Turkey has called for dialogue to ensure the fair sharing of the region’s resources.

Meanwhile, Turkish and Greek military delegations have held technical meetings at NATO headquarters in Brussels to discuss ways to reduce the risk of an incident amid rising tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/france-urges-turkey-to-reopen-responsible-dialogue/1978615

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French Christian group allegedly backs Syrian regime

Alaattin Dogru

18.09.2020

PARIS

A France-based Christian group has allegedly been supporting a militia in Syria loyal to the Bashar al-Assad regime and accused of war crimes in the western Hama province, local media reported.

Though claiming to have come to the aid of the Christians in Syria without intervening in the conflict, SOS Chretiens d'Orient (Christians of the Middle East) has backed militias known by the Assad regime as the Mhardeh National Defense Forces (MNDF) since 2013, according to French news website Mediapart.

The group is considered a "partner organization in national defense" by the French Ministry of Defense.

False advertising

Local businessman Simon al-Wakeel, who heads the MNDF, is accused of various war crimes during the civil war and can be seen in a YouTube video clad in a regime uniform thanking SOS.

The MNDF started as a people's movement but became a militia with al-Wakeel footing the bill. It has taken part in regime attacks on Hama and Idlib in 2019.

According to the Syrian Human Rights Network, they sold items they looted from the villages they entered in the Christian village of Skelbiye, close to Mhardeh.

SOS, which refers to al-Wakeel as "Monsieur Simon," has established a humanitarian aid center in Mhardeh as a "symbol of Syrian resistance against international terrorism."

The organization has also praised Mhardeh's combat prowess, saying the group had been surrounded by opposition groups -- a claim rejected by experts.

Another video recorded in 2016 by the group aiming to project itself as having only humanitarian intent in Syria shows Alexandre Goodarzy, one of its leading figures, handing out blankets and food to regime militias. Goodarzy has also been known for his poses brandishing Kalashnikov rifles in the war-torn country.

Massacre

According to a report by Syrian rights group Pro-Justice, 25 civilians were killed in a 2012 bombing that targeted their homes in Halfaya -- a mere kilometer (0.6 miles) from Mhardeh -- on al-Wakeel's orders.

SOS is also accused of withholding information on how it spent the donations it collected for the war in Syria.

Between 2016 and 2019, it is estimated that the donations collected for Monsieur Simon and Mhardeh amounted to €48,900 ($58,000), while documents belonging to the organization claim that militia fighters were provided coffee, tea and cigarettes to make their lives easier.

Since the eruption of the bloody civil war in Syria in 2011, thousands of people died and millions fled the country or were displaced from their hometowns. Various terrorist groups such as the YPG/PKK and Daesh/ISIS took advantage of the instability and chaos that has ensued since the conflict erupted to realize their terror activities. It has also led to one of the biggest refugee crises in history.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/french-christian-group-allegedly-backs-syrian-regime/1978289

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Let’s give diplomacy a chance: Erdogan tells Greece

Handan Kazancı

18.09.2020

The Turkish president on Friday said Ankara is ready for talks with neighboring Greece over recent tension in Eastern Mediterranean.

"Let's give diplomacy a chance, put forward a positive approach in diplomacy, let Greece meet our approach in a positive direction and we take a step accordingly," Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters after the Friday prayers in Istanbul.

"We also told them this: We're always ready to meet if there is goodwill, we can meet whether we have a meeting in a third country or through video conferencing, but we can do that."

He said that Turkey has no "trouble" meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, but what is essential is "what to discuss and on what grounds to meet."

Turkey's energy exploration vessel Oruc Reis will return to the mission in the Eastern Mediterranean after maintenance work is over, Erdogan said.

However, he added: "If we returned Oruc Reis to the port for maintenance, it also means something. Why did we do it? This is a meaningful approach."

Returning the Oruc Reis to a Turkish port does not mean "our seismic survey is stopped," the Turkish president also said.

Last weekend, Turkey returned the Oruc Reis, a research ship exploring energy in the Eastern Mediterranean, to an Antalya port for restocking and maintenance work.

Tensions have recently escalated over the energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Greece, Southern Cyprus and other EU members have tried to block Turkey's energy exploration, claiming it is searching in Greek waters, using a maximalist view of Athens' maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast.

Turkey – the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean – says this view is illegal and makes no sense and has sent out drill ships, with military escort, to explore for energy on its continental shelf, saying that both Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus have rights in the region.

It has repeatedly urged negotiations with no preconditions to lay out fair sharing of the region's resources.

Meanwhile, Turkish and Greek military delegations have held technical meetings at NATO headquarters to discuss ways to reduce the risk of an incident amid rising tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean. The last talks were held on Thursday.

Answering a question whether a maritime boundaries deal is possible with Egypt, Erdogan said there is no obstacle for Turkey-Egypt intelligence talks, but also said Cairo's agreement with Athens has "upset" Turkey.

Last month, Egypt announced that it signed a bilateral agreement with Greece on the "delimitation of maritime jurisdictions" between the two countries.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry slammed the deal, asserting that Greece and Egypt share no sea borders and that the deal is "null and void."

Coronavirus rules to be tightened

As of Thursday, 298,039 people tested positive for coronavirus across Turkey, with the total death toll standing at 7,315.

Turkey has seen a rise in daily COVID-19 infections recently. "We need to tighten the coronavirus measures again," Erdogan said.

On the vaccine work, the president said Turkey expects "positive signs" for a possible vaccine against COVID-19 in the new year.

Since first appearing in China last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 188 countries and regions.

More than 30 million people have been infected globally, with nearly 947,00 deaths and 20.55 million recoveries, according to figures compiled by the US' Johns Hopkins University.

The US, India and Brazil are currently the worst-hit countries.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/-let-s-give-diplomacy-a-chance-erdogan-tells-greece/1977894

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Turkey, France close friends no matter conditions: envoy

Yusuf Ozcan  

18.09.2020

PARIS

Turkey and France remain close friends, despite disagreements and circumstances, a Turkish diplomat said Thursday.

“We need to accept that we had better days in the past. However, the process we are going through today is cyclical. There are, of course, serious disagreements today between the two nations, but it would be exaggerating to speak of an irrevocable point between Turkey and France,” Ismail Hakki Musa told the France 24 TV channel during a live broadcast.

“No matter the conditions, the Turkish and French nations are close friends,” Musa said.

Noting that dialogue is still possible between the two countries, he added that it is natural to have different ideas.

Musa said France wanted to stand with Greece for its own reasons, but “it would be better not to stand with a side that cannot get along well in the region, and an opposite attitude will only contribute to a rise of tensions.”

Recalling that Turkey submitted the notice of its continental shelf delimitation to the UN Security Council, of which France is a permanent member, in 2004, Musa said Turkey’s Oruc Reis seismic research vessel carries out activities within that area.

He also reminded that the Greek Cypriot administration signed agreements with Egypt, Lebanon and Israel between 2003 and 2018 and Greece signed an agreement with Egypt that violates Turkey’s continental shelf.

Musa said those countries also started drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean in 2011 and added that Turkey’s warnings and calls for dialogue that such activities cannot be carried out in an area where the delimitation is not determined were left unattended.

“In the end, Turkey had no choice but to initiate its own drilling activities in 2018. The deal reached with Libya should also be seen from this angle, as we cannot sit back and watch when activities violating our sovereignty rights in our continental shelf are being conducted,” he said.

Turkish officials have decried France’s interference in the Eastern Mediterranean dispute, pointing out that it has no territory in the region. Commentators have argued that President Emmanuel Macron is trying to distract from his political failures.

- Eastern Mediterranean

Greece has disputed Turkey's current energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, trying to box in Turkish maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast.

Turkey -- the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean -- has sent out drill ships to explore for energy on its continental shelf, saying that both Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) have rights in the region.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/turkey-france-close-friends-no-matter-conditionsenvoy/1977306

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South Asia

 

Kunduz Airstrikes against Taliban Harm Civilians

By Mohammad Arif Sheva

20 Sep 2020

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan – At least 20 killed, including civilians, and further 15 wounded during two separate airstrikes carried by the Afghan Defense Forces against the Taliban in Khan Abad district of Kunduz, local authorities confirmed.

Ismatullah Muradi, spokesman for the Kunduz Governor, told Khaama Press Afghan Defense Forces carried airstrikes against the Taliban hideouts in Sayed Riza Village of Nekpai Valley in Khan Abad district.

The second airstrike was carried, while local residents were dispatched at the area to remove the bodies, he said.

At least 20, including civilians, killed and further 15 wounded during the twin-airstrikes.

While the areas is mainly dominated by the Taliban insurgents, security forces were not able to get more details on the victims.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense denied civilians casualties in a statement, saying the Taliban were their main target.

According to the statement, at least 30 Taliban insurgents killed during the airstrikes.

Zabiullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, claimed all 23 killed are civilians, and no Taliban fighter has been killed.

https://www.khaama.com/kunduz-airstrikes-against-taliban-harm-civilians-234534/

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OIC, a new emerging Muslim alliance and Bangladesh

20 September, 2020

As the geopolitical fault lines in Asia begin to shift, Dhaka has found itself in a unique position. The realignment of ties in the Muslim world as signalled by the recent rift in Saudi-Pakistan ties has opened new doors for the Muslim-majority nations in South and South-East Asia.  The Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC), which has long served as the primary bloc for Muslim-majority countries under the implicit leadership of Saudi Arabia, is now being challenged by rising powers. The proposed bloc, led by Turkey, Qatar, Iran and Malaysia, has offered an alternative to the dominion of the Gulf-countries.

While the new bloc came into formation at the Kuala Lumpur Summit in 2019, the recent fallout in Saudi-Pak relations may bolster its role in the Muslim world, provided Pakistan joins its ranks. At the inaugural summit, Pakistan withdrew at the last moment, buckling to pressure from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. However, the Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s recent rebuke of the Saudis and the OIC on their lack of action on the issue of Kashmir may change the dynamics. Shah Mahmood Qureshi warned that if the OIC failed to meet Pakistan’s expectation to convene a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers, he would be “compelled to ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to call a meeting of the Islamic countries that are ready to stand with us on the issue of Kashmir and support the oppressed Kashmiris.” This statement was seen as a veiled reference to the alternative bloc formed in Kuala Lumpur and it prompted Riyadh to immediately demand repayment of $1 billion of a $6.2 billion package announced in November 2018, when Islamabad was struggling with a rapidly expanding trade deficit and declining foreign reserves. This move has the potential to tilt Pakistan towards the Turkey-Malaysia bloc. Pakistan will certainly raise the prominence of the new bloc and will present a real threat to the dominance of OIC and the Gulf countries in the Muslim world.

Enter - Bangladesh. Historically, Dhaka has maintained strong ties with its fellow Muslim nations since joining OIC in 1974 under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The relationship was formed based on Muslim solidarity and development cooperation. The newly independent nation desperately needed the support of the wealthy states in the bloc to get out of poverty. The recognition of Bangladesh by the OIC opened doors to export manpower, which, to date, forms the bulk of Bangladesh’s economy. Member-states of OIC have also assisted Bangladesh by providing diplomatic support in times of crisis. In the backdrop of OIC, Bangladesh has also developed individual friendly ties to these Muslim nations thanks to Bangladeshi diplomats and policymakers’ impressive diplomatic skills. While strong ties with the OIC member states have helped Bangladesh throughout its existence, they have also led to the conundrum that the country may face in the coming months.

The prospect of an alternative bloc means that Bangladeshi diplomats will need to be vigilant when formulating foreign policies. While Bangladesh depends on the remittance that flows from the Gulf States, it cannot ignore the opportunities that the new bloc may present. Dhaka needs to be cognizant of the fact that as the Gulf States move towards indigenization and automation of labour, the demand for cheap foreign labour may soon evaporate. At the same time, the fast-growing economies and the large populations of the Turkey-Malaysia bloc nations can significantly aid the export-oriented economy of Bangladesh. At the summit in 2019, economic cooperation between the Muslim countries was prioritised to decrease reliance on the Western states. While the prospect of an economic community arising from this bloc may be slim and far-fetched, Dhaka can still be an economic beneficiary if it develops close ties with the participating countries through the bloc. Bangladesh can also be a beneficiary of the increasing diplomatic prowess that some of the Turkey-Malaysia bloc countries hold. The fast-economic growth coupled with a large Muslim population and the boost in its reputation that Bangladesh has gained over the last decade may allow Dhaka to have a leadership role in the new bloc. Such an opportunity may be enticing for the political leadership in Bangladesh

The South Asian nation can approach the rift in two possible ways – to align itself with one of the blocs, or to choose multi-alignment, i.e. maintain a relationship with both the blocs and utilize the benefits as per its strategic needs. Both options have their pros and cons, and policymakers in Bangladesh need to decide wisely. In the event of alignment with OIC, Bangladesh can continue reaping the benefits of the manpower export agreements that it has in place with the Gulf States. The country may also be the lucrative beneficiary of military and defence cooperation contracts if Pakistani troops are withdrawn from Saudi Arabia. As the United Nations plans to gradually Africanize its peacekeeping forces in Africa, a defence cooperation contract with the Kingdom can be greatly beneficial for the Bangladeshi armed forces. In terms of foreign relations and diplomatic strength, Bangladesh could move closer to the United States and other Western nations if it chooses to ally with Saudi-led OIC along with other Gulf countries. However, such a move may harm the close economic ties Bangladesh has developed with China. The recent rapprochement with Israel by the Gulf States may also contradict the long-standing policy of support for the Palestinian cause that commands popular support in Bangladesh.

Officially, Bangladesh has maintained a foreign policy of friendliness towards all and malice to none and it has succeeded in abiding by it. It can continue to the same path and act as a mediator between OIC and the proposed-alternative bloc.  However, as the world moves towards complex multi-polarity, Dhaka needs to re-evaluate its foreign policy to achieve the best possible outcome.  Policymakers in Bangladesh may be in for a tough decision in the coming years.

http://www.theindependentbd.com/post/253494

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More than 30 Taliban fighters killed in Afghan airstrikes, says defense ministry

19 September 2020

The Afghan air force conducted multiple strikes on Taliban positions Saturday that killed more than 30 insurgent fighters, officials said, as President Ashraf Ghani once again called for a ceasefire.

The Taliban claimed the strike had killed nearly two dozen civilians including women and children in the latest mass-casualty incident in Afghanistan that came even as peace talks were under way in Qatar.

“This morning, Taliban fighters attacked (Afghan army) positions in ... Khan Abad district in Kunduz province,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement on Twitter.

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

The military “intercepted the attack in accordance with ‘active defense’ procedures,” the statement added, noting that more than 30 Taliban fighters including two commanders were killed.

In a statement, the Taliban denied its fighters were hit and said 23 civilians had been killed.

The defense ministry said it was aware of the claim and would investigate.

Local hospital director Mohammad Naeem Mangal told AFP that three dead and three wounded civilians had been brought to the facility.

The attack came shortly before Ghani once again called for a humanitarian ceasefire “to protect our people, prevent violence and terrorist incidents and to achieve a dignified and lasting peace.”

The insurgents have so far ignored such requests, though they have unilaterally called two short, separate truces this year in the run-up to peace talks, which opened a week ago in Doha.

Talks have progressed slowly so far, with the two sides still undecided about an agenda.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/09/19/More-than-30-Taliban-fighters-killed-in-Afghan-air-strikes-says-defense-ministry

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Arab world

 

Lebanon’s largest Christian party offers proposal to resolve dispute over new cabinet

19 September 2020

A party founded by Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun made a proposal to end a dispute that has blocked the formation of a new cabinet and threatened a French drive to lift the country out of its worst crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.

The proposal, put forward on Saturday, involved handing major ministries to smaller sectarian groups in a country where power is shared between Muslims and Christians.

There was no immediate comment from Shia Muslim groups, which have insisted they choose who fills several posts. But a political source familiar with the thinking of dominant Shi’ite groups said the idea was unlikely to work.

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

Lebanon’s efforts to swiftly form a new government have run into the sand over how to pick ministers in a country where political loyalties mostly follow sectarian religious lines.

A September 15 deadline agreed with France to name a cabinet has passed. Paris, which is leading an international push to haul Lebanon back from economic collapse, has voiced exasperation and told Beirut to act “without delay.”

The leader of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), the party founded by President Michel Aoun and allied to Hezbollah, proposed “undertaking an experiment to distribute the so-called sovereign ministries to smaller sects, specifically to the Druze, Alawites, Armenians and Christian minorities.”

The statement was issued after Gebran Bassil, FPM head and son-in-law of the president, chaired a meeting of the party’s political leadership. Bassil is a Maronite, Lebanon’s largest Christian community.

Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib, a Sunni Muslim under Lebanon’s sectarian system of power sharing, wants to shake up the leadership of ministries, some of which have been controlled by the same factions for years.

Lebanon’s main Shia groups - the Amal Movement and the heavily armed, Iranian-backed Hezbollah - want to select the figures to fill a number of positions, including the finance minister, a top position often called a “sovereign” ministry.

An FPM official said the party had not discussed the idea about distributing ministries with Hezbollah or Amal. “We are proposing an exit strategy for those who are stuck up a tree without a ladder,” the official told Reuters.

With the nation buried under a mountain of debt and with its banks paralyzed, the finance minister will play a crucial role as Lebanon seeks to restart stalled talks with the International Monetary Fund, one of the first steps on France’s roadmap.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/09/19/Lebanon-s-largest-Christian-party-offers-proposal-to-resolve-dispute-over-new-cabinet

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Yemen’s Houthis launch projectile towards Saudi Arabia’s Jazan, 5 civilians injured

Tuqa Khalid

20 September 2020

Iran-backed Houthi militia launched a military projectile from inside Yemen towards a border village in Jazan Region in Saudi Arabia, injuring five civilians, state news agency SPA reported on Friday.

The spokesman for the Civil Defense Directorate in the Jazan region, Colonel Muhammad bin Yahya al-Ghamdi, stated that they received a report of the fall of a military projectile launched by the Houthis towards one of the border villages in al-Harth governorate in the Jazan region, SPA stated.

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

The projectile damaged three civilian vehicles and injured five civilians. Their injuries were minor, mainly due to shrapnel flying. They were all taken to the hospital and are in stable condition, SPA added.

The Houthis have in recent weeks increased aerial attacks towards civilian areas in the Kingdom, mainly through explosive-laden drones. The Arab Coalition has succeeded in intercepting and destroying most of them.

Cross-border attacks by Iran-aligned Houthi forces have escalated since late May, when a truce prompted by the coronavirus pandemic expired. In late June, missiles reached the Saudi capital Riyadh.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2020/09/20/Yemen-s-Houthis-launch-projectile-towards-Saudi-Arabia-s-Jazan-5-civilians-injured

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US military deploys more troops, armoured vehicles to oil-rich eastern Syria

19 September 2020

The US military has sent a new convoy of military vehicles and troops to oil-rich eastern Syria amid rising tensions with Russian forces in the region, and as Washington seeks to loot crude resources in the war-torn country.

Captain Bill Urban, spokesman for the US Central Command (CENTCOM), said in a statement on Friday that the United States “has deployed Sentinel radar, increased the frequency of US fighter patrols over US forces, and deployed Bradley Fighting Vehicles to augment US forces” in the area.

Without mentioning Russia, Urban added that the moves were meant “to help ensure the safety and security” of the US-led military coalition purportedly formed to fight the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

He asserted that the US “does not seek conflict with any other nation in Syria, but will defend coalition forces if necessary.”

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also said six Bradley Fighting Vehicles arrived in Syria early on Friday from Kuwait, and that their deployment along with the forces manning the radar equipment will add an additional 100 personnel to the 500 American forces operating in eastern Syria.

The official went on to say that the actions are “a clear signal to Russia and other parties” to avoid what he termed as “unprofessional, unsafe and provocative actions in northeast Syria.”

Senior US officials have on occasions complained about Washington’s policies in Syria, arguing that the approaches of President Donald Trump’s administration have stuck American troops fighting a 'forgotten war' and guarding oil and gas resources there, while Russian troops are making advances and help the Damascus government recover after nearly a decade of militancy.

“It's a clusterf**k in Syria,” one top US intelligence official, who requested anonymity, told American weekly news magazine Newsweek earlier this month. “We don't have a strategy.”

Malcolm Nance, a former US Navy intelligence and counter-terrorism specialist, also compared the situation to another bloody quagmire for the Pentagon, and said the presence of US troops on the Syrian soil is a political game with little payoff.

“A few special forces supported by artillery and armor units are very much akin to 2002 in Afghanistan. It is now a forgotten war,” Nance said.

Moreover, Russian and Syrian joint coordination committees on the repatriation of Syrian refugees have denounced the presence of US troops on the Syrian soil, stating that such an illegal military deployment stokes new tensions in the Middle East.

The committees, in a statement released on September 3, cited the unlawful presence of US forces and militants affiliated with the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as one of the serious matters of concern in northeastern Syria, Syria’s official news agency SANA reported at the time.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/09/19/634515/US-military-deploys-more-troops,-armored-vehicles-to-oil-rich-eastern-Syria

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UN warns of 'war crimes' in Turkish-occupied areas in northern Syria

19 September 2020

The United Nations has urged Turkey to launch an immediate and independent investigation into war crimes and other violations of international law committed in the northern part of Syria, which are under the control of Turkish occupation forces and allied militant groups.

Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on Friday that the situation in those areas of Syria was grim, with violence and criminality rife.

Bachelet's UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) said in a statement it had noted an “alarming pattern in recent months of grave violations,” having documented increased killings, kidnappings, unlawful transfers of people, seizures of land and properties and forcible evictions.

The victims include people perceived to be allied with opposing parties or as being critical of the actions of the Turkish-affiliated armed groups, her office added.

“People living in these areas, whose rights have been violated, are entitled to protection and a remedy. In this regard, I urge Turkey to immediately launch an impartial, transparent and independent investigation into the incidents we have verified, account for the fate of those detained and abducted by the affiliated armed groups, and hold accountable those responsible for what may, in some instances, amount to crimes under international law, including war crimes,”  Bachelet said.  

“This is all the more vital given that we have received disturbing reports that some detainees and abductees have allegedly been transferred to Turkey following their detention in Syria by affiliated armed groups,” she pointed out.

Earlier this week, a panel of United Nations war crimes investigators called on Turkey to rein in allied militants in northern Syria, who may have committed a range of war crimes against civilians, including hostage-taking, rape and torture.

In a report covering the first half of the current year and published on Tuesday, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said militants of the so-called Syrian National Army, also known as the Free Syrian Army, detain civilians and transfer them to Turkey for prosecution, adding that such acts could amount to the war crime of unlawful deportation.

The panel warned that assassinations and rapes of civilians were on the rise in war-ravaged Syria.

Ankara has been providing support to militants operating to topple the Damascus government since early 2011.

Last year, Turkey seized control of the border town of Ras al-Ain after it launched a cross-border invasion of northeastern Syria with the help of its allied armed groups to push Kurdish militants affiliated with the so-called People’s Protection Units (YPG) away from border areas.

Ankara views the US-backed YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/09/19/634507/UN-warns-of--war-crimes--in-Turkish-controlled-areas-in-northern-Syria

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Mideast

 

Houthis are ‘threat’ to Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and the entire region

September 21, 2020

JEDDAH: Houthi militias in Yemen are continuing to break international humanitarian law by targeting civilians in Saudi Arabia.

In its latest attacks on Saudi terrority, the group launched a projectile at a village in the southern Jazan region on Saturday. Five people were injured and property was damaged.

The Iran-backed militia has attacked Saudi Arabia’s territory, killing and injuring civilians in the process, since the start of the war in 2015, often to international condemnation.

“The Kingdom has tackled many Houthi attacks, which included ballistic missiles and drones that were originally intended to target civilians,” political analyst and international relations expert Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News. “If it wasn’t for the Kingdom’s instant response they would have caused very big damage.”

Al-Shehri said that a group like the Houthis were not expected to act differently, other than be violent and destructive. He pointed the finger at the international community for its silence as well as countries that have lifted an arms ban on Iran.

“The recently apprehended Houthi cell in Yemen smuggling Iranian weapons has admitted to receiving training in Iran, evidence of Iran’s continued involvement in Yemen. Therefore, this makes the US unilateral proclamation to reinforce UN sanctions against Iran the right thing to do now.”

Al-Shehri added that the militia was an organization whose activities would still endanger the lives of Yemeni civilians even if they did not harm neighboring countries. “They use cities as a shield and launch their rockets from inside Sanaa, among civilians.”

He said that the international community, as part of its responsibility to maintain global peace and security, was required to spare Yemenis the agony and scourge of war by implementing UN Security Council Resolution 2216 and bring the Houthis back to the negotiation table for an inclusive political solution.

“The Houthis are a threat to Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and the entire region as long as weapons remain in their hands,” Al-Shehri said.

The attack in Jazan was condemned by Egypt, Jordan and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The OIC secretary-general, Yousef Al-Othaimeen, affirmed the organization’s standing and solidarity with the Kingdom in all the measures it took to protect its borders, citizens, and residents on its territory.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1737491/saudi-arabia

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Iran Issues Stern Warning to US to Avoid Illegal Practice of UNSC's Lifted Sanctions

Sep 20, 2020

“The US Secretary of State knows himself that his claim about revival of the UN Security Council sanctions is baseless and void and has no legal effect, and therefore, in his familiar method, he has threatened and intimidated countries to impose national extraterritorial sanctions against them, which is the best evidence of the US acknowledgment of its failure at the Security Council,” the statement said.

“As the Islamic Republic of Iran has repeatedly emphasized, the US regime is the greatest threat to world peace and security; the reality that the US openly intimidates and threatenes the world and does not care about the Security Council resolutions has never been as evident as today,” it added.

The statement noted that when the US left the nuclear deal in 2018, it hoped to make Iran surrender or collapse under maximum pressures, but it failed as Washington is more isolated than ever and has now resorted to bullying and blackmailing the international community.

“The current US regime's approach is a major threat to the international peace and security and an unprecedented threat to the UN and the UN Security Council. This time, the US Secretary of State is not only mocking all the principles of international law and the UN Charter, but he is also openly challenging the international community, changing his government's bullying and rogue attitude from a behind-the-scene action to a blatantly overt move,” it added.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran emphasizes that if the US, directly or with the cooperation of a number of its allies, makes any move in line with these threats, it will face a serious reaction and should account for all its dangerous consequences,” the statement warned in conclusion.

In relevant remarks earlier today, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh blasted US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's bullying remarks to force other states to accompany Washington's sanctions against Tehran, and said the US has proved to be a rogue state defying international rules and laws.

“Pompeo is after another bullying. I believe that these are the most bitter days and hours for the US. The US has opted to stand on the wrong side of the history and has forgotten its responsibilities,” Khatibzadeh told reporters in a press conference in Tehran on Sunday.

“Tehran’s message to Washington is clear; return to the international community and your undertakings and stop insurgence and bullying. Then the international community will receive you back,” he added.

Khatibzadeh said that the era of air, sea and ground piracy has ended.

Elsewhere, he described the nuclear deal as a negotiated, summed up, signed and sealed agreement, and said, “Any measure which seeks to break the seal, means the end of the nuclear deal and we expect all countries to remain committed to the principles of the international relations and legal undertakings.”

Khatibzadeh warned of Iran’s harsh reaction to measures outside the norms and laws.

The US unilaterally proclaimed on Saturday that UN sanctions against Iran are back in force and promised to punish those who violate them, in a move that risks increasing Washington’s isolation but also international tensions.

“Today, the United States welcomes the return of virtually all previously terminated UN sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Pompeo said in a statement.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday that the US is not a participant to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to use the trigger mechanism, and urged Pompeo to read UNSC Resolution 2231.

“Wrong again, @SecPompeo,” Zarif wrote on his Twitter page, adding, "Nothing new happens on 9/20. Just READ Res.2231."

He reminded that "Bolton, who convinced the boss to order you to cease US participation” even acknowledged that the process is not "simple", automatic or snappy. But intentionally "complex & lengthy" and that the US is not a participant.

An Iranian MP had also on Tuesday declared preparation of the parliament to approve the triple-urgency bill to take measures against activation of trigger mechanism.

“The Europeans are playing a hypocritical game about the US attempts to activate the trigger mechanism and their declared policies are different from what they do,” Nasrollah Pejmanfar said, addressing an open session of the parliament.

He noted that the parliament should study the bad cop and good cop game launched by the US and the Europeans against Iran more thoroughly.

“The parliament has prepared a triple-urgency bill in this regard to adopt appropriate actions against the Europeans and Americans’ mischievous collaboration,” Pejmanfar said.

Pompeo claimed that Washington delivered a letter to the UN for snapback invocation against Iran to bring back sanctions in 30 days.

Commenting on restoration of sanctions against Iran, Pompeo added, "We are confident that the trigger mechanism will be implemented against Iran".

This is while, France, Germany and the United Kingdom (E3) announced in a statement that they will not support the US snapback mechanism which is incompatible with the current efforts to support JCPOA.

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

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

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

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

Now the US has stepped up attempts aimed at extending the UN arms ban on Iran that is set to expire as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which has been endorsed by Security Council Resolution 2231.

The US first sought to extend the Iran's arms embargo in a fresh UNSC resolution in contradiction to the contents of the Resolution 2231 in two attempts within a month, but failed.

The United Nations Security Council resoundingly rejected last month the second US bid to extend an arms embargo on Iran, which is due to expire in October.

The resolution needed support from nine of 15 votes to pass. Eleven members abstained, including France, Germany and Britain, while the US and the Dominican Republic were the only “yes” votes.

The United States has become isolated over Iran at the Security Council following President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the multilateral Iran nuclear deal 2018.

Iran had said that the US resolution would fail to gain the required support at the Security Council, pointing out that Washington has no legal right to invoke a snapback mechanism to reinstate sanctions against Tehran under the 2015 nuclear deal that the US unilaterally left in May 2018.

In relevant remarks in August, Zarif said it is by no means justifiable for the US to use Dispute Resolution Mechanism with regard to UNSC Resolution 2231.

"US recourse to Dispute Resolution Mechanism in 2231 has NO LEG TO STAND ON," Zarif wrote on his Twitter page late Sunday.

"AmbJohnBolton has repeated today what he said on May 8, 2018, while National Security Advisor in the Trump administration," he noted, adding, "At least he is consistent—a trait notably absent in this US administration."

Zarif' tweet came in reaction to former US National Security Advisor John Bolton's article in Wall Street Journal where he criticized US' decision to trigger ‘snapback mechanism’ against Iran, saying, "The agreement [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]’s backers argue that Washington, having withdrawn from the deal, has no standing to invoke its provisions. They’re right. It’s too cute by half to say we’re in the nuclear deal for purposes we want but not for those we don’t."

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990630000562

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IRGC Commander: Iran Able to Set Fire to All US Bases in Region

Sep 20, 2020

“If the Americans want to fight against us, they should be in the region. They cannot fight against us from outside the region and when they are deployed in the region, they are within the range of our bullets everywhere and we are able to set fire to all their interests and bases in the region and occupy them. We can swipe the region,” General Salami said in an interview with the state TV on Saturday night.

General Salami also referred to the assassination of former IRGC Quds Force Commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, and said that when the US assassinated Iran's great General Soleimani, the whole world protested at their terror attack.

He noted that the harsh revenge of the Iranian nation is yet to be fulfilled and this will be materialized only in the form of the annihilation of the hegemonic powers.

Referring to the outstanding and brilliant character of martyred general Soleimani, he outlined his unrivaled role in fortifying the wave of resistance and defeating the US, Britain and Israeli regime's policies.

General Salami said that his martyrdom indeed injected a new life into the body of resistance in a way that youngsters all across the Islamic world are now after revenging his assassination.

He also pointed to the US President's recent threats to strike Iran “1000 times greater in force” following a false report by the US media on alleged Iran plan to assassinate a US diplomat.

General Salami said that Iran is serious about taking Martyr Soleimani’s revenge as it will target those behind the assassination, but reiterated that Tehran will act faily in taking this revenge and would not target those that have not been involved in the attack.

"Iran will target those who have had a direct or indirect role in the martyrdom of Lieutenant General Soleimani," he stressed, reminding that the US ambassador to South Africa neither has been involved in the attack nor is a counterweight for the martyred Iranian General.

Referring to the Iranian forces' January attack on the US airbase in Ein Al-Assad in Iraq just few days after the assassination of General Soleimani, the commander said the IRGC proved that it is not afraid of the US.

Through such attack in retaliation for the assassination of top IRGC commander, the Iranian nation imposed its will on the enemy, General Salami said, stressing that the Islamic Republic was not after taking a toll in the missile strike since the soldiers deployed at the base had not been involved in the terror attack. 

"The US political system should pay for General Soleimani's martyrdom because Washington hegemony should be shattered," he noted.

Meanwhile, killing of several soldiers or an ambassador in a part of the world is no justice, he said, stressing that there is no US official as important and worthy as General Soleimani.

However, the US should know that it will taste tough revenge, he warned, stating that the US officials have been caught in a dilemma, and will be defeated whether they leave the region or stay here.

When the IRGC targeted their airbases in Anbar, it had already prepared hundreds of missiles that no power, including the US forces, could resist against to reciprocate any US response to the Ein al-Assad attack, he concluded.

All IRGC members as well as Basij forces are ready to sacrifice themselves for the great nation of Iran and will defend the dignity, prosperity, security and peace of the nation to the last drop of their blood, he said.

Iran is not intimated by any bluffs and threats and will do the necessary things if sees its rights in the nuclear deal are violated, IRGC commander said.

He highlighted that the Iranian nation can curb political, economic and psychological pressures, adding that the enemies want to intimidate and create fear in Iranians whereas if the US opts for pulling the trigger, no bullets will certainly come out because America is absolutely isolated and Iran will strongly defend itself as this is a matter of politics and the Americans will certainly fail in this arena, too.

The commander also pointed to the US futile efforts to extend arms embargo on Iran, and said the US as a superpower has undoubtedly lost its political influence.

Even the Europeans did not follow the US [policies], and this shows that Washington is on its way to collapse, he added.

"The animosity of hegemonic powers against Iran was due to the fact that victory of the Islamic revolution in the country put their interests in danger," General Salami added.

The IRGC commander also referred to the normalization deals underway between some Arab states and the Zionist regime, saying that such moves only add to the hatred of the regional nations for the Israeli regime.

The normalization deals which served as part of the election campaign by Donald Trump put ropes around the necks of some Arab states in the absolute absence of Palestinians, he added.

General Salami had also on Saturday morning warned that Iran is resolved to retaliate for the US assassination of Geberal Soleimani, and said that all collaborators in the terrorist act are potential targets.

“Mr. Trump, Do not doubt about our revenge because it is completely destined and serious,” General Salami said, addressing IRGC commanders and officials in Tehran.

Iran will take revenge in a fair manner, he added, noting, “This is why we did not target your soldiers at Ein al Assad.”

“We will target those who have had a direct or indirect role in the martyrdom of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani,” General Salami said.

“Do you think that we will target a female ambassador in ransom for the blood of our martyr,” asked Salami, referring to US media allegations that Iran had plotted to assassinate US ambassador to South Africa in revenge for the assassination of General Soleimani.

“Americans should know that we will target anyone who has had a role in the cowardly assassination of General Soleimani and this is a serious warning,” he said.

“You are threatening us with an attack 1000-times greater in force, while being stranded in your internal problems, but when we targeted Ain al Asad, we were assuming that you would respond and had then made hundreds of missiles ready to destroy targets in case you would respond,” General Salami said.

He underlined that the US is given a crushing retaliation if it even damages “one hair” of an Iranian national.

“These are serious warnings. We do not engage in a war of words, but we leave everything to the field of action,” General Salami said.

He added that today the US has lost its past military power and has been isolated in the world.

In relevant remarks last Tuesday, Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Rabiyee said the US has made the biggest strategic mistake by assassinating General Soleimani, and underlined once again that Tehran will give a strong response to the terror attack.

“The assassination of our martyred General who was the General of peace in the region and symbol of fight against terrorism is a stain (on the face of the US) that cannot be cleaned,” Rabiyee told reporters in a press conference in Tehran.

He referred to the recent remarks by US President Donald Trump on his twitter page that has threatened to strike Iran “1000 times greater in magnitude” following a false report of the American media on alleged Iran plan to assassinate a US diplomat, and said, “I regret that the president of a country which claims to be able to manage the world and establish global order makes rapid, ordered and distorted opinion based on such a weak basis.”

“The US has made its biggest strategic mistake and it cannot conceal its crime through such moves. Anyway, any strategic mistake by the US will face Iran’s firm response,” Rabiyee said.

Iran on Monday strongly rejected a report released by the US media claiming that the country was weighing plans to kill the American ambassador to South Africa to take revenge for Washington’s assassination of General Soleimeni.

“Such baseless remarks are part of the Trump administration’s counter-intelligence campaign against Iran. The US regime’s resort to allegations and lies against Iran on the threshold of the US presidential election and concurrent with its pressures to use the UN Security Council mechanisms with the aim of increasing pressure on the Iranian nation was predictable,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.

He also blasted the US media for releasing an ordered, biased and targeted report against Iran, advising the American officials to give up resorting to repeated and worn-out methods to spread an anti-Iran atmosphere on the international scene.

Khatibzadeh described Iran as a responsible member of the international society which has proved its commitment to the international diplomatic principles and norms, saying that it is the US and the current regime in the White House that has implemented tens of assassination plots and military interventions in other countries in recent years, an instance of which was the assassination of General Soleimani in Iraq.

“As repeatedly said before, the Islamic Republic of Iran will continue legally pursuing the criminal and cowardly assassination of General Soleimani internationally at all levels and will neither forgive nor forget the terrorist act,” he stressed.

His remarks came in response to a report by Politico citing the US officials as claiming that the “Iranian government is weighing an assassination attempt against the American ambassador to South Africa” in retaliation for the assassination of General Soleimeni.

Meantime, a spokesman for South Africa’s Foreign Ministry said the US official’s allegation took Pretoria by surprise.

“We only became aware of this report this morning,” Lunga Ngqengelele said by phone on Monday.

Department of International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor may issue a statement later, he added.

Lieutenant General Soleimani was assassinated in a US drone strike on Baghdad International Airport in Iraq on January 3.

The airstrike also martyred Deputy Commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. The two were martyred in an American airstrike that targeted their vehicle on the road to the airport.

Five Iranian and five Iraqi military men were martyred by the missiles fired by the US drone at Baghdad International Airport.

On January 8, the IRGC Aerospace Force started heavy ballistic missile attacks on US Ein Al-Assad airbase in Southwestern Iraq near the border with Syria and a US operated airbase in Erbil in retaliation for the US assassination of General Soleimani.

Ein Al-Assad is an airbase with a 4km runway at 188m altitude from sea levels, which is the main and the largest US airbase in Iraq. Early reports said the radar systems and missile defense shields in Ein Al-Assad failed to operate and intercept the Iranian missiles. Unofficial reports said the US army's central radar systems at Ein Al-Assad had been jammed by electronic warfare.

The second IRGC reprisal attack targeted a US military base near Erbil airport in Iraqi Kurdistan Region in the second leg of "Martyr Soleimani" reprisal operation.

Iraq said the attacks had not taken any toll from its army men stationed at these two bases. The US army had blocked entrance into Ein Al-Assad to everyone, including the Iraqi army.

It was the first direct attack on the US army ever since world war two.

The IRGC officials said none of the missiles had been intercepted.

Meantime, Iran announced in late June that it had issued arrest warrants for 36 officials of the US and other countries who have been involved in the assassination of the martyred General Soleimani.

"36 individuals who have been involved or ordered the assassination of Hajj Qassem, including the political and military officials of the US and other governments, have been identified and arrest warrants have been issued for them by the judiciary officials and red alerts have also been issued for them via the Interpol," Prosecutor-General of Tehran Ali Alqasi Mehr said.

He said that the prosecuted individuals are accused of murder and terrorist action, adding that US President Donald Trump stands at the top of the list and will be prosecuted as soon as he stands down presidency after his term ends.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990630000215

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Iranian Spokesman Labels US as Rogue State

Sep 20, 2020

“Pompeo is after another bullying. I believe that these are the most bitter days and hours for the US. The US has opted to stand on the wrong side of the history and has forgotten its responsibilities,” Khatibzadeh told reporters in a press conference in Tehran on Sunday.

“Tehran’s message to Washington is clear; return to the international community and your undertakings and stop insurgence and bullying. Then the international community will receive you back,” he added.

Khatibzadeh said that the era of air, sea and ground piracy has ended.

Elsewhere, he described the nuclear deal as a negotiated, summed up, signed and sealed agreement, and said, “Any measure which seeks to break the seal, means the end of the nuclear deal and we expect all countries to remain committed to the principles of the international relations and legal undertakings.”

Khatibzadeh warned of Iran’s harsh reaction to measures outside the norms and laws.

The US unilaterally proclaimed on Saturday that UN sanctions against Iran are back in force and promised to punish those who violate them, in a move that risks increasing Washington’s isolation but also international tensions.

“Today, the United States welcomes the return of virtually all previously terminated UN sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Pompeo said in a statement.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday that the US is not a participant to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to use the trigger mechanism, and urged Pompeo to read UNSC Resolution 2231.

“Wrong again, @SecPompeo,” Zarif wrote on his Twitter page, adding, "Nothing new happens on 9/20. Just READ Res.2231."

He reminded that "Bolton, who convinced the boss to order you to cease US participation” even acknowledged that the process is not "simple", automatic or snappy. But intentionally "complex & lengthy" and that the US is not a participant.

An Iranian MP had also on Tuesday declared preparation of the parliament to approve the triple-urgency bill to take measures against activation of trigger mechanism.

“The Europeans are playing a hypocritical game about the US attempts to activate the trigger mechanism and their declared policies are different from what they do,” Nasrollah Pejmanfar said, addressing an open session of the parliament.

He noted that the parliament should study the bad cop and good cop game launched by the US and the Europeans against Iran more thoroughly.

“The parliament has prepared a triple-urgency bill in this regard to adopt appropriate actions against the Europeans and Americans’ mischievous collaboration,” Pejmanfar said.

Pompeo claimed that Washington delivered a letter to the UN for snapback invocation against Iran to bring back sanctions in 30 days.

Commenting on restoration of sanctions against Iran, Pompeo added, "We are confident that the trigger mechanism will be implemented against Iran".

This is while, France, Germany and the United Kingdom (E3) announced in a statement that they will not support the US snapback mechanism which is incompatible with the current efforts to support JCPOA.

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

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

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

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

Now the US has stepped up attempts aimed at extending the UN arms ban on Iran that is set to expire as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which has been endorsed by Security Council Resolution 2231.

The US first sought to extend the Iran's arms embargo in a fresh UNSC resolution in contradiction to the contents of the Resolution 2231 in two attempts within a month, but failed.

The United Nations Security Council resoundingly rejected last month the second US bid to extend an arms embargo on Iran, which is due to expire in October.

The resolution needed support from nine of 15 votes to pass. Eleven members abstained, including France, Germany and Britain, while the US and the Dominican Republic were the only “yes” votes.

The United States has become isolated over Iran at the Security Council following President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the multilateral Iran nuclear deal 2018.

Iran had said that the US resolution would fail to gain the required support at the Security Council, pointing out that Washington has no legal right to invoke a snapback mechanism to reinstate sanctions against Tehran under the 2015 nuclear deal that the US unilaterally left in May 2018.

In relevant remarks in August, Zarif said it is by no means justifiable for the US to use Dispute Resolution Mechanism with regard to UNSC Resolution 2231.

"US recourse to Dispute Resolution Mechanism in 2231 has NO LEG TO STAND ON," Zarif wrote on his Twitter page late Sunday.

"AmbJohnBolton has repeated today what he said on May 8, 2018, while National Security Advisor in the Trump administration," he noted, adding, "At least he is consistent—a trait notably absent in this US administration."

Zarif' tweet came in reaction to former US National Security Advisor John Bolton's article in Wall Street Journal where he criticized US' decision to trigger ‘snapback mechanism’ against Iran, saying, "The agreement [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]’s backers argue that Washington, having withdrawn from the deal, has no standing to invoke its provisions. They’re right. It’s too cute by half to say we’re in the nuclear deal for purposes we want but not for those we don’t."

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990630000360

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Iran: Trump or Biden, No Change in US Enmity towards Iran

Sep 20, 2020

“America has a deep-rooted enmity against the Iranian nation and whether Trump is elected or Biden, it will not have any impact on the US’ main policy to strike the Iranian nation,” Qalibaf said on Sunday.

“The enemy did not achieve its goals due to the Iranian nation’s resistance and might,” he said in reference to the recent US policies and measures against Iran at the UN Security Council.

“However, we should not be content with these legal and political defeats of the US and must not forget that our oppressive enemy will advance step by step to form a new sanctions regime if we neglect,” the speaker noted.

“Experience shows that whenever we acted passively against US hostile polices, more pressure has been imposed on the people’s livelihoods, so it is necessary to prevent such pressures by taking more active, smart, and effective measures,” Qalibaf said.

In relevant remarks last week, Head of Iran’s Civil Defense Organization Gholamreza Jalali said his country has chosen "active resistance" to ward off the enemy's “all-out pressure" strategy.

"The enemy’s main strategy is still all-out pressure except for a military war, and the approach of the Supreme Leader is focused on active resistance,” Jalali said.

“Public awareness and education, reassuring and alerting officials against threats are among the key principles of the Civil Defense Week program in 2020,” he noted, adding, “Our general approach is to support the government against the enemy’s all-out pressure.”

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990630000629

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US set to sanction more than 24 people; groups linked to Iran’s weapons program

20 September 2020

The United States on Monday will sanction more than two dozen people and entities involved in Iran’s nuclear, missile and conventional arms programs, a senior US official said, putting teeth behind UN sanctions on Tehran that Washington argues have resumed despite the opposition of allies and adversaries.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the official said Iran could have enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon by the end of the year and that Tehran has resumed long-range missile cooperation with nuclear-armed North Korea. He did not provide detailed evidence regarding either assertion.

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

The new sanctions fit into US President Donald Trump’s effort to limit Iran’s regional influence and come a week after US-brokered deals for the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to normalize ties with Israel, pacts that may coalesce a wider coalition against Iran while appealing to pro-Israel US voters ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

The new sanctions also put European allies, China and Russia on notice that while their inclination may be to ignore the US drive to maintain the UN sanctions on Iran, companies based in their nations would feel the bite for violating them.

A major part of the new US push is an executive order targeting those who buy or sell Iran conventional arms that was previously reported by Reuters and will also be unveiled by the Trump administration on Monday, the official said.

— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) September 20, 2020

The Trump administration suspects Iran of seeking nuclear weapons - something Tehran denies - and Monday’s punitive steps are the latest in a series seeking to stymie Iran’s atomic program, which US ally Israel views as an existential threat.

“Iran is clearly doing everything it can to keep in existence a virtual turnkey capability to get back into the weaponization business at a moment’s notice should it choose to do so,” the US official told Reuters.

The official argued Iran wants a nuclear weapons capability and the means to deliver it despite the 2015 deal that sought to prevent this by restraining Iran’s atomic program in return for access to the world market.

In May 2018, Trump abandoned that agreement to the dismay of the other parties - Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia - and restored US sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.

Iran, in turn, has gradually breached the central limits in that deal, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), including on the size of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium as well as the level of purity to which it was allowed to enrich uranium.

“Because of Iran’s provocative nuclear escalation, it could have sufficient fissile material for a nuclear weapon by the end of this year,” the official said without elaborating except to say this was based on “the totality” of information available to the United States, including from the IAEA.

The Vienna-based agency has said Iran only began significantly breaching the 2015 deal’s limits after the US withdrawal and it is still enriching uranium only up to 4.5%, well below the 20% it had achieved before that agreement, let alone the roughly 90% purity that is considered weapons-grade, suitable for an atomic bomb.

“Iran and North Korea have resumed cooperation on a long-range missile project, including the transfer of critical parts,” he added, declining to say when such joint work first began, stopped, and then started again.

Asked to comment on the impending new US sanctions and the US official’s other statements, a spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations dismissed them as propaganda and said they would further isolate the United States.

“The US’ ‘maximum pressure’ show, which includes new propaganda measures almost every week, has clearly failed miserably, and announcing new measures will not change this fact,” the mission’s spokesman, Alireza Miryousefi, told Reuters in an email.

“The entire world understands that these are a part of (the) next US election campaign, and they are ignoring the US’ preposterous claims at the UN today. It will only make (the) US more isolated in world affairs,” he said.

The White House declined comment in advance of Monday’s announcements.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/09/20/US-set-to-sanction-more-than-24-people-groups-linked-to-Iran-s-weapons-program

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Africa

 

Libya’s Sarraj plan to step down upsets Turkey, says Erdogan

18 September 2020

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday Turkey was upset by news that Libya’s UN recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, an ally, wants toquit next month and Ankara may hold talks with his government on the issue in the coming week.

Sarraj announced on Wednesday his intention to step down by the end of October. The move could feed political tensions in Tripoli amid new efforts to find a political solution to the country’s conflict.

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

“A development like this, hearing such news, has been upsetting for us,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul, adding that Turkish delegations may hold talks with Sarraj’s government in the coming week.

“With these meetings, God willing we will turn this issue towards the direction it needs to go,” he said.

Sarraj is head of the Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli, while eastern Libya and much of the south is controlled by Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA). His departure could lead to infighting among senior GNA figures.

Libya has endured almost a decade of violent chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed veteran dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Sarraj's Tripoli-based GNA has battled against a rival administration in eastern Libya led by General Khalifa Haftar, whose offensive against the capital was repelled earlier this year.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2020/09/18/Libya-s-Sarraj-plan-to-step-down-upsets-Turkey-says-Erdogan

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Libya’s Haftar says he will lift oil blockade, while GNA agrees on fair revenue share

18 September 2020

Eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar announced on Friday he would lift for one month his blockade of oil output and said he had agreed with the rival Tripoli government on “fair distribution” of energy revenue.

A resumption of oil exports after the eight-month blockade would relieve mounting financial pressure for both sides in the Libyan conflict and could remove a major obstacle towards a political settlement, but it is not yet clear if the declared agreement has wider support.

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

“We are ready to open oil fields, to secure the future of Libya, for one month,” Haftar said in a statement distributed by his spokesman after a brief televised broadcast in which he announced that it had “been decided” to resume oil production.

National Oil Corporation (NOC), which operates Libya’s energy sector, also said overnight it would not lift force majeure on exports until the LNA withdrew fighters from its facilities.

Libya and many of its state institutions have been split for years between the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) in the east.

However, both of those camps have internal fractures that have widened since June when Haftar’s 14-month offensive to capture Tripoli collapsed and he was forced to retreat to the central coastal city of Sirte.

In Tripoli, the GNA’s deputy prime minister, Ahmed Maiteeg, issued a statement immediately after Haftar’s speech also saying it “had been decided” to resume oil production and adding this would involve a new committee to oversee revenue distribution.

The committee would coordinate between the two sides to prepare a budget and transfer funds to cover payments and deal with the public debt, he said.

Prior to the blockade, Libya was producing around 1.2 million barrels per day, compared with just over 100,000 bpd now.

GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj said on Wednesday he planned to step down by the end of October and analysts have said this would lead to political jockeying among other senior figures in Tripoli to succeed him.

However, neither Haftar nor Maiteeg addressed the presence of LNA and allied foreign forces in oil production and export facilities, which NOC has said must be withdrawn to ensure the safety of its staff before it will resume output.

Oil price rise

News of the possible resumption of Libyan oil exports pushed benchmark Brent oil prices into negative territory on Friday, and they were down 0.7percent, or 32 cents, at $42.98 a barrel by 1242 GMT.

A sustained return of Libyan oil exports to an oil market that’s already grappling with worsening demand outlook, is likely to weigh on oil prices further, and may push the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies to reevaluate their policy on oil production cuts.

However, Libya’s National Oil Corporation said overnight it would not lift force majeure on exports until oil facilities were demilitarized.

In place since the start of the year, force majeure was briefly lifted in July before being reimposed.

NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanallah’s comment, published on NOC’s website, comes after Turkey and Russia -- the main power brokers in Libya’s war -- appeared to moved closer in meetings in Ankara this week to an agreement on a ceasefire and political bargaining process.

“In light of the current chaos and non-organized negotiations, force majeure can’t be lifted,” Sanallah said in a statement.

The NOC chairman expressed regret over what he called the “politicizing of the oil sector” and use of it as a “bargaining chip” to achieve political gains.

Libya’s oil output has already been almost entirely halted this year by a blockade on exports since January by the LNA.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday he was upset that Sarraj was stepping down and would hold talks on the issue with the GNA later this month.

Turkey and Russia have moved forward in their own talks on Libya towards cementing a ceasefire and finding a political solution, Ankara’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday.

Talks on a political settlement have also advanced in Switzerland with support from the United Nations, and in Morocco between the two rival parliamentary assemblies in east and west Libya.

Ankara and Moscow back opposing sides. Russia supports the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) of Khalifa Haftar, while Turkey backs Libya’s UN recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).

Sanallah said separate negotiations carried out by NOC in coordination with the head of the presidential council and the international community include an initiative that include safe operation of oil fields and ports, and pushing all “foreign mercenaries” out of them.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/business/energy/2020/09/18/Libya-s-Haftar-says-army-decides-to-resume-oil-output-but-NOC-wants-demilitarization

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Russia sends 400 war criminal mercenaries to Libya

Mohamad Misto and Ethem Emre Ozcan  

19.09.2020

Russia sent 400 pro-regime militias from Syria’s northeastern Qamisli region to Libya to fight for warlord Khalifa Haftar in exchange for money.

Russia continues to strengthen the ranks of the putschist Khalifa Haftar -- who relies on foreign fighters -- with mercenaries from Syria, according to local sources.

At least 400 "Shabiha" militants from the local militia forces, established by the Assad regime in Qamisli, were sent to eastern Libya by Russia.

The war criminal militants, who joined Haftar's side in Libya, had arrived at the Russian Khmeimim Air Base in Syria's Latakia province from the Qamishli airport the previous day.

Russia monthly pays each mercenary sent from Syria to Libya around $1,500-2,000.

Last month, Russia reached an agreement in Qamishli in the regime-controlled area with 1,000 people aged between 20 and 45, who are also expected to be sent to Libya soon.

It is estimated that the number of mercenaries sent by Russia to fight for Haftar from various provinces of Syria has exceeded 5,000 so far.

Foreign warriors in Haftar's ranks include Russian mercenaries, “Janjaweed" militias brought from Sudan, as well as armed rebels from Chad.

- Shabiha

The local militia group Shabiha, currently also backed by Iran, was founded by the Assad regime to suppress the peaceful demonstrations which began in 2011.

In the third so-called parliamentary elections held in July without the participation of the public, the Assad regime also brought the war criminal Shabiha into the parliament.

The UN has reported war crimes committed by the Shabiha, including the use of chemical weapons, rape, torture, targeting of civilian settlements, and deployment of terrorist organizations.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/russia-sends-400-war-criminal-mercenaries-to-libya/1978990

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Nigerian forces kill 16 Boko Haram terrorists

Adam Abu-bashal  

19.09.2020

ABUJA, Nigeria

Nigerian troops killed 16 members of the Boko Haram terror group in the northeast, a top defense official said Friday. 

Defense Ministry spokesman John Enenche said terrorists were killed while others fled with wounds sustained during an air operation in Kassa Kura in Maiduguri Town.

Enenche said troops arrested 11 terrorists and a cache of ammunition belonging to the terror group was seized.

Boko Haram launched a bloody insurgency in 2009 in northeastern Nigeria but later spread its atrocities to neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a military response.

More than 30,000 people have been killed and nearly 3 million displaced in a decade of Boko Haram's violence in Nigeria, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Violence by Boko Haram has affected 26 million people in the Lake Chad region and displaced 2.6 million others, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/nigerian-forces-kill-16-boko-haram-terrorists-/1978446

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Somalia’s president appoints new prime minister

Mohammed Dhaysane   

18.09.2020

GAROWE, Somalia

Somali President Mohamed Farmaajo appointed Mohamed Hussein Roble as the country's new prime minister early Friday, hours after regional leaders agreed on a revised model for presidential and parliamentary elections.  

The Somali presidency made the announcement on Twitter.

The president wishes him to perform his duties effectively and efficiently, it added in the statement.

Roble is a humanitarian worker and newcomer to Somalia's political landscape.

He will replace former Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre, who was voted out of office by parliament in July.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/somalia-s-president-appoints-new-prime-minister/1977274

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Pakistan

 

Muslim World League launches urgent relief campaign for Pakistan flood victims

September 19, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Muslim World League (MWL) has sent urgent relief assistance to help flood-affected people in a number of areas of Pakistan, the Saudi Press Agency said.

The campaign got underway in a number of regions in Pakistan, under the supervision of the head of the National Disaster Management Authority of Pakistan (NDMA), Lt. Gen. Muhammad Afzal, and with the participation of Saudi ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, and a number of Pakistani officials.

Lt. Gen. Afzal praised the efforts of the MWL, “which is considered one of the best relief organizations operating in Pakistan,” and said the aid will help alleviate the suffering of those affected by the disastrous torrents and floods that struck Pakistan.

MWL regional director Saad Al-Harthi said that the program aims, in its first phase, to distribute food baskets to the most needy segments of those affected in the areas hit by torrential rains and floods.

He added that “this response comes within the humanitarian association’s efforts to support the needy around the world, following direct coordination with the relevant government agencies in each country.”

Al-Harthi also said that the program is part of the numerous programs and projects in the fields of development and relief that MWL is implementing in Pakistan.

He added that the “association’s relief, support and developmental activities are not differentiated by religion, ethnicity or otherwise, but rather to provide services to all those in need, and that this represents Islam’s guidance in its great human dimensions.”

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1736951/world

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Pakistan tells India to respect diplomatic norms

21 Sep 2020

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Sunday said it had rejected nomination of Jayant Khobragade as India’s new charge d’affaires in Pakistan as he was too senior for the position at a time when the bilateral ties had been lowered.

In a statement, Foreign Office (FO) spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said leaking misleading information and twisting facts was not only contrary to diplomatic norms but was also not helpful in the conduct of diplomatic relations. “The news in certain sections of Indian media, quoting sources in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, regarding assignment visa for senior Indian diplomat Jayant Khobra­gade proposed as charge d’affaires at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, is misleading,” said the FO spokesman.

Since August 5, 2019, following India’s illegal and unilateral actions in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), Pakistan took a number of steps, including the downgrading of diplomatic relations with India. The purpose of downgrading the relations was to register Pakistan’s strong protest and condemnation of India’s illegal, inhuman and unacceptable actions in IIOJK.

He said Pakistan believed that by proposing a senior diplomat, who had already served as ambassador in another position, India was trying to circumvent the effect of downgrading of diplomatic relations, which was obviously not in line with Pakistan’s decision.

However, keeping in view the diplomatic norms, he said, Pakistan had counselled India to nominate an officer with seniority commensurate with Pakistan’s decision of downgrading the diplomatic relations.

As for the veiled threats in Indian media that the issue of grant of assignment visa to Mr Khobragade will “further destabilise” India-Pakistan relations, Mr Chaudhri said it must be clear that the relations between India and Pakistan were inextricably linked to the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions.

“A just and lasting solution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is critical for durable peace and stability in South Asia. Accordingly, India is once again reminded of its international obligations with regard to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. India must listen to the voices of the Kashmiri people and the world community,” the spokesman concluded.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1580791/pakistan-tells-india-to-respect-diplomatic-norms

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MQM-P plans march on Thursday for ‘rights of urban Sindh’

21 Sep 2020

KARACHI: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) on Sunday announced that it would launch a province-wide protest campaign from Thursday (Sept 24) for the “rights of urban Sindh”, saying it would also support all other parties planning to take out rallies for the rights of Karachi and other urban areas of the province.

The MQM-P had earlier announced that it would stage a big rally on Sept 22, but on Sunday it said that the date of the event was changed and now the party would take out the rally on Sept 24.

“The [Sept 24] rally of the MQM-Pakistan will be the beginning of a struggle for the rights of Karachi,” MQM-P convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui told a press conference here.

Accompanied by senior leaders Amir Khan, Kanwar Naveed, IT & Telecom Minister Aminul Haque and others, he said that there was a dire need for creating new provinces in Pakistan in view of increasing population and people not getting their due rights.

“The strongest case for creation of a new province is of Sindh. Creation of a ‘South Sindh’ or ‘Urban Sindh’ province is a constitutional demand of the people of urban areas of Sindh,” he said, adding that the MQM-P fully acknowledged the identity and rights of Pakhtuns, Kashmiris, Bengalis and others living in urban parts of Sindh.

Lashing out at the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), he said it had been ruling over Sindh for the last 13 years on the basis of “artificial majority”.

He said that the PPP government had snatched the right of employment from the people of urban Sindh as it gave only four per cent jobs, instead of 40pc as per the rural-urban job quota, to the youths of urban Sindh.

Dr Siddiqui said that 90pc government jobs of urban Sindh had been given to the people of other provinces and rural Sindh on the basis of fake domiciles.

He criticised the policy of nationalisation and urban-rural quota imposed by the government of then prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in Sindh, and said that educational institutions were ruined under a conspiracy.

“The biggest metropolitan city has become a big village. The height of racism can be gauged from the fact that this government had not appointed even a single Urdu-speaking administrator in Karachi, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and Nawabshah,” he claimed.

He said that the banners regarding Sept 24 rally hung in different parts of the city were forcibly removed. He said that authorities must announce if they had imposed a ban on MQM-P.

In the wake of Jamaat-i-Islami’s planned rally on Sept 27, Dr Siddiqui said that his party would support all other parties taking out rallies and marches for the rights of Karachi.

He said that MQM-P’s ‘Karachi March’ will be the beginning of a struggle to get the rights of the urban Sindh. “We will take out a march in Hyderabad on October 4 and in Mirpurkhas on October 11 for the rights of the urban areas of Sindh,” he added.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1580758/mqm-p-plans-march-on-thursday-for-rights-of-urban-sindh

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Southeast Asia

 

After DAP suggests he gives way to Shafie for PM post, Anwar says he can get the numbers

20 Sep 2020

BY JULIA CHAN

KOTA KINABALU, Sept 20 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim insisted that he has enough support within Pakatan Harapan to become prime minister should they win back Putrajaya.

He was responding to earlier reports quoting DAP’s Lim Guan Eng that Anwar should give way to Parti Warisan Sabah president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal should he not get the support.

“He gave his opinions, that’s ok... he suggested I could give way if I don’t get the votes, and my answer is I can, God willing,” he said.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/09/20/after-dap-suggests-he-gives-way-to-shafie-for-pm-post-anwar-says-he-can-get/1905000

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Syed Saddiq announces scholarship entry into Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

20 Sep 2020

BY KENNETH TEE

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 — Muar MP Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman revealed today he has been offered a scholarship placement at the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore for a Senior Fellowship programme.

Taking to Facebook, he also announced his admittance into the School’s Senior Fellowship in Public Service Programme which will commence tomorrow.

“Alhamdulillah!”

“I have obtained a placement and scholarship at the National University of Singapore for the Lee Kuan Yew Senior Fellowship in Public Service.

“I’ve been keeping this news to myself from the month of June, but since classes start tomorrow online, why not share the good news with my friends,” the former youth and sports minister said in a Facebook posting.

Syed Saddiq said as a youth, there was still much for him to learn to further improve on his capabilities to serve the community.

He also pointed out how he had to skip his masters in University of Oxford twice due to his involvement in politics.

“Finally, I get a chance to sharpen my Public Policy skills while serving fellow Malaysians.

Thank you for giving me this chance to study while serving Malaysia,” he added.

According to the School’s webpage, Part 1 of the Senior Fellowship programme will run for three weeks from September 21 until October 9 before resuming Part 2 for another three weeks from March 22 until April 9 next year.

On the same webpage, the executive programme boasts a rigorous curriculum that focuses on developing leadership and governance competencies of participants, equipping them with the tools to take on challenges at a global level.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/09/20/syed-saddiq-announces-scholarship-entry-into-singapores-lee-kuan-yew-school/1905013

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