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Islamic World News ( 6 Aug 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Beirut Explosion Had 10 Pct. Of Hiroshima Atomic Bomb’s Explosive Power: UK Experts


This picture taken on August 4, 2020 shows a general view of the scene of an explosion at the port of Lebanon's capital Beirut. (AFP)

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• Turkey Still A Major Hub for ISIS Militants, Inspector General’s Report Says

• Al-Qaeda Influence Growing in North-West Nigeria, United States Warns

• US Action Against IS Financier Shows Jihadists’ Cash Flow Continues from Turkey

• Labour MP Calls on UK To Intervene in Kashmir, Says Obliged to By Partition

• I Don’t Discriminate As CM, but as Hindu Won’t Attend Mosque Event: Yogi

• Stop Using Anti-Corruption Agency to Harass Opponents: Rights Body to Pak

 

Arab world

• Beirut Explosion Had 10 Pct. Of Hiroshima Atomic Bomb’s Explosive Power: UK Experts

• Beirut blast aftermath recalls Lebanon’s civil war: MSF head

• Rescue Operations Continue in Lebanon's Capital as Death Toll Continues to Climb

• Beirut explosion: Destroyed port used as quarantine centre long before coronavirus

• UNICEF estimates 80,000 children displaced after Beirut explosion

• Sixteen arrested in connection with Beirut blasts: State-run news agency

• Lebanon's Gebran Bassil warns Macron of refugees 'your way' if Lebanon collapses

• After Beirut explosion, Lebanese American politicians stand with Lebanon

• Beirut explosion: Crowd on street urges Macron to help oust Lebanon’s leadership

• Pro-Iran militias continue hitting military bases in Iraq

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Mideast

• Turkey Still A Major Hub for ISIS Militants, Inspector General’s Report Says

• Iran's Top Commander Offers Condolence to Nasrallah, Lebanese Army Commander

• Iran, Lebanon Review Ways to Aid Injured People in Beirut

• Iran's EC Chairman Urges Islamic States to Help Lebanon

• Iran: US Should Show Honesty in Sympathy to Lebanon by Lifting Sanctions

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Africa

• Al-Qaeda Influence Growing in North-West Nigeria, United States Warns

• Mediator S. Africa urges talks to continue on Ethiopia’s Nile dam

• Victims of Suspected Boko Haram Attack on Cameroon IDP Camp Need Urgent Help

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North America

• US Action Against IS Financier Shows Jihadists’ Cash Flow Continues from Turkey

• US Iran envoy Brian Hook standing down, Elliott Abrams to take on the role

• Democrats refuse to condemn Antifa in domestic terrorism hearing, Andy Ngo says

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Europe                                

• Labour MP Calls on UK To Intervene in Kashmir, Says Obliged to By Partition

• Scotland Yard's Counter-Terrorism Chief Warns New Attack On London Is 'Likely' After Lockdown

• European politicians urge swift crackdown on Qatar’s funding of Hezbollah: Fox News

• Cyprus to boost defense ties with France in new deal amid Turkey tensions

• French President Macron’s visit touches a chord in shellshocked Beirut

• European body criticizes prison conditions in Turkey

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India

• I Don’t Discriminate As CM, but as Hindu Won’t Attend Mosque Event: Yogi

• Secretary Jilani withdraws AIMPLB's 'irresponsibly worded' statement on Ayodhya

• Wooing Muslim Vote-bank? Bihar CM Nitish Kumar Stays Silent On Ram Temple Bhoomi Pujan

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Pakistan

• Stop Using Anti-Corruption Agency to Harass Opponents: Rights Body to Pak

• HRW urges govt to stop using NAB to detain critics

• Discussion on Kashmir at UNSC meeting, another diplomatic success for Pakistan: FM

• FO defends Qureshi’s remarks on Saudi-led OIC over Kashmir

• Parliament rejects changing of Kashmir’s special status

• Parliament okays another FATF-related law

• TikTok upgrades guidelines, releases Urdu version

• Pakistan once again asks India to appoint lawyer for Kulbhushan Jadhav

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South Asia

• Nikpa, The First Winner of Olympics Medal for Afghanistan To Be Featured in Hollywood Movie

• Pompeo reacts to holding of Loya Jirga to discuss peace process in Afghanistan

• Afghan forces arrest top ISIS leader in Kunar province of Afghanistan

• Ten Taliban insurgents clash with Afghan troops after ceasefire ends

• At Least 11 Killed In Roadside Bombing In Northern Afghanistan

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Southeast Asia

• China: We Don’t Agree with US in Pushing for Extension of Iran Arms Embargo

• Perlis Tells Muslims To Perform Friday Prayers at Home As Covid-19 Menaces Region Anew

• High Court calls for further submissions over Sabah election challenge

• Muhyiddin, 3 others win bid to quash suit by Dr M and co

• Minister: Govt to consider proposal to require fire drills for tahfiz schools

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/beirut-explosion-had-10-pct-of-hiroshima-atomic-bombs-explosive-power-uk-experts/d/122573

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Beirut Explosion Had 10 Pct. Of Hiroshima Atomic Bomb’s Explosive Power: UK Experts

06 August 2020

 

This picture taken on August 4, 2020 shows a general view of the scene of an explosion at the port of Lebanon's capital Beirut. (AFP)

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 The deadly explosion at the Port of Beirut had approximately 10 percent of the explosive power of the atomic bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima during World War II, UK specialists estimate.

Tuesday’s explosion in Lebanon which has killed at least 137 people and injured more than 5,000 was "unquestionably one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions in history,” specialists at UK’s University of Sheffield Blast and Impact Engineering Research Group said, according to the BBC.

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

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said the explosion was due to a stockpile of 2,750 tons of the industrial chemical ammonium nitrate, used in fertilizers and explosives, catching fire after having been stored for six years at the port without safety measures.

“This is unquestionably one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history, far bigger than any conventional weapon,” Sheffield’s professor Andrew Tyas, an expert on blast protection engineering, told the Evening Standard.

The Beirut blast’s shockwaves smashed masonry, shattered windows, sucked furniture out of apartments onto the streets and left up to a quarter of a million people without homes fit to live in, Lebanese officials said.

“The intensity of the shockwave is equivalent to 20 to 30 percent of the shockwave caused by Hiroshima. It’s astonishing,” Tyas told Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star.

The Beirut blast was felt in Cyprus, a Mediterranean island more than 160 kilometers across the sea from the Lebanese capital.

The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1964 was a 4,536-kilogram uranium 235 bomb. It exploded approximately 600 meters above the center of the city and instantly killed 78,000 people.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/08/06/Beirut-explosion-had-10-pct-of-Hiroshima-atomic-bomb-s-explosive-power-UK-experts.html

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Turkey Still A Major Hub for ISIS Militants, Inspector General’s Report Says

August 5, 2020

 

U.S. and Turkish military forces conduct a joint ground patrol in northeast Syria in September 2019. U.S. European Command said in an Inspector General report released Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, that Turkey is still a transit hub for Islamic State group fighters and weapons, even though the NATO ally is doing more to stop the group than it once did.

ALEC DIONNE/U.S. ARMY

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Turkey continues to be a regional transit hub for the Islamic State group, even though the NATO ally has recently stepped up efforts to counter attempts to smuggle ISIS fighters and weaponry into war-torn Syria, a new Inspector General’s report says.

In a report released Tuesday by the Lead Inspector General for the military’s mission in Syria and Iraq, U.S. European Command called Turkey a “major facilitation hub” for ISIS and said security at the country’s southern borders with Syria and Iraq continues to be a problem.

Turkey has been criticized for years by Western allies for failing to stop the flow of foreign fighters into Syria, something critics have said contributed to the initial rise of ISIS in the region. But in recent months, Ankara has dealt more aggressively with ISIS within its borders and inside Syria, EUCOM said in the report.

Operations launched by Turkey against ISIS have impacted the group’s ability to smuggle fighters, funds and supplies, EUCOM told the IG. However, the difficulty of securing Turkey’s border with Syria and Iraq will likely ensure that the extremist group will be able to continue moving supplies and fighters from one country to another, the report said.

Although the U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq and Syria has pushed ISIS out of what used to be its major strongholds in the large swath of territory it once held in the two countries, the terrorist group remained active in the region, it said.

Attacks by ISIS surged from late April to late May during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and the terrorist group has exploited restrictions placed on security forces because of the coronavirus pandemic to conduct even more attacks, the Combined Joint Task Force–Operation Inherent Resolve said in the report.

But a year-to-year comparison of attack numbers, and the complexity and consequences of those attacks,”indicate that ISIS is not resurging,” CJTF-OIR said.

ISIS relies mainly on small-scale local attacks and is “most likely” unable to lead operations outside of Iraq and Syria, the Defense Intelligence Agency said in the report.

While there is no evidence that ISIS has the ability to retake or hold territory in areas where the U.S.-led coalition operates, the report said defeating ISIS in areas like Syria, where coalition and partner forces have limited reach, remains a challenge.

https://www.stripes.com/news/europe/turkey-still-a-major-hub-for-isis-militants-ig-report-says-1.640095?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1418800_

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Al-Qaeda Influence Growing In North-West Nigeria, United States Warns

AUG 05, 2020

 

 

Al-Qaeda insurgent group is gaining sway in the restive North-Western part of Nigeria, the United States of America has warned.

Dagvin Anderson, Commander of the US Special Operations Command, Africa, disclosed this during a briefing, saying the group was also expanding to other parts of West Africa.

He said, "We have engaged with Nigeria and continue to engage with them in intel sharing and in understanding what these violent extremists are doing. And that has been absolutely critical to their engagements in Borno State and into an emerging area of North-West Nigeria that we’re seeing al-Qaida starting to make some inroads in.

“So, this intelligence sharing is absolutely vital and we stay fully engaged with the Government of Nigeria to provide them an understanding of what these terrorists are doing, what Boko Haram is doing, what ISIS West Africa is doing, and how ISIS and al-Qaida are looking to expand further south into the littoral areas.

“I think there’s two factors in that. One, it goes to that each government has to focus on this and provide that focus for international partners to engage with. The other part of this is we can’t underestimate the threat these violent extremist organisations pose. We, as a community of international nations, keep thinking we have defeated them or we have put them on their back foot and that they’re just moments from disintegration.

“I think after 20 years we have seen they are very resilient organisations that, although small, they’re able to leverage social media and other forms of media to have an outsized voice and that they continue to recruit and they continue to find opportunities. When it comes to Nigeria in general, Nigeria, obviously, is a critical nation to West Africa. It is a critical nation and we realise that Nigeria is a lynchpin.

”For that to have an effect against the VEOs and to have an effect against these stressors, it really takes the Government of Nigeria to lead that effort and to build that energy to coalesce around. So no nation can come in and fix that problem for Nigeria. We can assist with that – and it’s the United States can assist, the United Kingdom, other countries can come in, many countries can come and assist with that partnership – but ultimately it takes leadership from Nigeria in order for us to focus our efforts.”

http://saharareporters.com/2020/08/05/al-qaeda-influence-growing-north-west-nigeria-united-states-warns?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1418800_

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US Action Against IS Financier Shows Jihadists’ Cash Flow Continues from Turkey

By Namo Abdulla

August 05, 2020

WASHINGTON - The U.S. designation last week of a new Turkey-based member of the notorious Rawi Network for allegedly facilitating money transfers to the Islamic State (IS) in Syria has raised fresh concerns among observers that jihadists continue to use Turkey to fund their activities in Syria.

The Rawi Network, founded by an Iraqi family, has been known to the U.S. government for decades. In the 1990s, it was accused of using informal payment systems to help Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq evade international sanctions by buying and selling oil without reliance on formal banking systems.

The Rawis returned to the spotlight in November 2019 when the U.S. Department of the Treasury blacklisted six of their members who had operated companies in Iraq, Turkey and Belgium. The companies, registered as everyday money exchange and transfer businesses, were used to provide a mechanism for IS’s global sympathizers to fund the extremist group’s operations in Iraq and Syria.

Last Tuesday, the Treasury sanctioned another man in the family named Adnan Muhammad Amin al-Rawi and described him as an IS facilitator in Turkey.

“Al-Rawi has materially assisted, sponsored or provided financial, material or technological support” for IS, according to the Treasury statement, adding that the radical group’s former finance emir, Fawaz al-Rawi, who was reportedly killed in a 2017 coalition airstrike, belonged to the same family.

While the Rawis have long been a familiar name to governments, analysts say the most recent designation raises questions on why they have continued to be able to operate in Turkey as a member of the U.S.-led Counter ISIS Finance Group (CIFG). The Turkish government did not reply to VOA’s requests for comment on the matter.

“These designations targeting the Rawi Network and others reflect the extent to which various jihadist groups have exploited Turkey’s permissive environment,” said Aykan Erdemir, a former Turkish lawmaker who is currently a Turkey expert with Washington, D.C.-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD).

“Turkey is the only NATO member state that has repeatedly become a target of Treasury sanctions, a sign that Ankara is either negligent or lenient in its treatment of jihadist entities and individuals,” Erdemir added.

In April 2019, the Treasury sanctioned four Turkish companies  for providing financial support to IS.

Last Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called for vigilance among U.S. allies.

“Together with our CIFG partners, we must remain vigilant to ensure that the global remnants of this terrorist group do not regain a foothold,” Mnuchin said.

Hawala money transfer

The recent U.S. designation also targets 30-year-old Faruq Hamud, who allegedly used a hawala money transfer business in Syria’s al-Hol refugee camp to fund jihadists. Al-Hol is under the control of U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the country’s northeast.

Similar to the U.S.-based Western Union financial services company, hawala is a popular informal remittance method used within and among cash-based countries throughout the Middle East. It depends on a network of connected agents who can ensure thousands of dollars travel beyond borders in minutes.

SDF did not respond to VOA’s questions on whether it was aware of Hamud’s alleged illicit activities in the camp in Syria’s Hasakah province near the Iraqi border.

An effective U.S. ground partner against IS in Syria, SDF has repeatedly complained that it does not have adequate resources to maintain proper security of the camp, calling on governments to take back their citizens among the camp’s 11,000 family members of foreign jihadist fighters.

Camp smuggling

The al-Hol camp also accommodates nearly 60,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from other parts of Syria and some refugees from Iraq. Camp authorities say they have physically separated IS family members from the rest of the camp’s residents.

There are at least two hawala offices that openly conduct business in the non-IS section of the camp, but money often gets smuggled from those offices to IS family members as well, according Thomas McClure, a Syria-based researcher with Rojava Information Center.

“The foreign women aren't allowed to receive money,” McClure said, “but when they want to receive money, the Syrian and Iraqi people get it from the hawala offices in the Souq [a market in the camp] and give it to them for a cut for smuggling them.”

Some of the IS families reportedly receive outside donations that amount to more than $3,000 a month, while an average family in the camp spends one-tenth of that amount, according to a report published by North Press Agency, a local news site.

Hawala also provides a useful means of sending humanitarian support to IDPs and refugees, say some analysts. While banning them outright is not advised, experts say the business can be regulated in a way that prevents IS access to outside donations.

“The hawala money transfer system is crucial to remain open for the women to be able to purchase what they need for their families,” Anne Speckhard, director of the Washington, D.C.-based International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE), who has visited the al-Hol camp for research, told VOA.

“But it should be regulated so large sums are not transferred,” she added. “Likewise, large sums make it very possible to bribe those receiving the money and those who would smuggle the women out.”

https://www.voanews.com/extremism-watch/us-action-against-financier-shows-jihadists-cash-flow-continues-turkey?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1418800_

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Labour MP calls on UK to intervene in Kashmir, says obliged to by Partition

Aug 6, 2020

LONDON: A British Labour MP has written to UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab urging him to “honour Britain’s obligations to the Kashmiri people” and to call on the Indian government “to recognise that Kashmir is a disputed territory” in a letter in which she brazenly brands the region as “Indian-occupied Kashmir”.

In the extraordinary intervention, Zarah Sultana, an MP of PoK origin who represents Coventry South, said that Britain had laid the groundwork “for the oppression that the Kashmiris face to this day” by overseeing Partition and has a special obligation to “right these wrongs”.

“The Indian government unilaterally revoked Articles 370 and 35a, which had granted Indian-occupied Kashmir autonomy reflective of its status as an occupied territory,” she wrote on Wednesday, the first anniversary of the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, using Pakistani terminology to describe the Union Territory.

She urged the foreign secretary to call on the Indian government to end what she alleged were “human rights abuses in the region and the communications blackout” and for the Kashmiri people’s “right to self-determination, as mandated by UN Resolution 47, to be respected”.

“There are fears the Indian government is seeking to further dispossess the Kashmiri people, with residency and land ownership claims... in spite of the region being still a disputed territory,” she wrote.

Her missive comes just as Indian authorities in London were breathing a sign of relief that no Labour MPs attended the “Kashmir lockdown” protest outside the UK diplomatic mission on Wednesday, an event which attracted barely a few hundred Pakistani- and PoK-origin protesters, despite a call going out via mosques.

Indian diplomats thought the lack of Labour presence — unlike last year — demonstrated how Labour better understood India's position under its centre-left leader, Keir Starmer. No Pakistani leaders flew in to attend either.

“It is telling that the crowd last year was led on the ground by a minister of the government of Pakistan,” a spokesperson for the Indian high commission said.

Although Starmer is trying to repair relations with India, which have been damaged by Labour’s perceived anti-India stance on Kashmir, Starmer has a fight on his hands within his party.

On Wednesday Indian-origin Labour MP Tan Dhesi tweeted endorsement of a Guardian article by Arundhati Roy which states that Kashmir is facing “cultural erasure” now that Indians have a right of residence.

Last month a far-left faction of Labour, Momentum Camden, passed a motion calling for a vote of no confidence in Starmer citing a list of six grievances, the second of which was that he had “reversed the overwhelming vote at the annual party conference against the occupation of Kashmir, giving free rein to... imposition of martial law and spreading persecution of Muslims in India”.

“This is just Momentum trying to stir things up,” a Labour source said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/labour-mp-calls-on-uk-to-intervene-in-kashmir-says-obliged-to-by-partition/articleshow/77400227.cms

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I Don’t Discriminate As CM, But as Hindu Won’t Attend Mosque Event: Yogi

Aug 7, 2020

LUCKNOW: Hours after the ‘bhoomi pujan’ for the Ram temple on Wednesday, UP CM Yogi Adityanath, when asked if he would attend a similar function for the construction of the mosque in Ayodhya, turned the question on its head, wondering whether he would even be invited for it in the first place.

“Do you think I will be invited for a ground-breaking ceremony for the mosque? I don’t think it is a problem for me as much as it is for them. Therefore, I don’t have any dilemma about it,” he said in interviews to three TV channels.

He later clarified that as a CM, he did not distinguish between religions, castes and communities but as a yogi, as a Hindu, he would not go for such an event since he had the right to express himself in following his religion.

The CM praised Iqbal Ansari, one of the main litigants from the Muslim side, for having accepted the SC’s decision on the Ayodhya dispute. “People should take inspiration from him.It is a reflection on our democratic system that as a Muslim, he felt safe in Ayodhya while fighting his case. Would a Hindu feel safe in Pakistan or Afghanistan if he was fighting for a temple?”

He said that “pseudo secularism” had become the basis for terrorism, riots and naxalism in the country and for opposing Hindus and added that the temple movement had unmasked “pseudo secularism”. Holding Congress responsible for the prolonged dispute over the Ram temple, Yogi said the “divisiveness” it had created suited the party.

Yogi said one may change one’s way of worshipping but can’t change the ancestor. He said critics in India needed to learn from foreign nations like Muslim-dominated Indonesia, whose people participate in the Deepotsav programme in Ayodhya every year. “Majority of the performers are Muslim and when I asked them about it, they said they have the right to practise their religion but whatever religion they might follow, they cannot change their ancestors,” he said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/i-dont-discriminate-as-cm-but-as-hindu-wont-attend-mosque-event-yogi/articleshow/77404198.cms

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Stop using anti-corruption agency to harass opponents: Rights body to Pak

Aug 6, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday urged Pakistani authorities to stop using the country’s anti-corruption watchdog, National Accountability Bureau (NAB), for harassment and intimidation of opponents.

In a statement, the international non-governmental organization that investigates and reports on abuses happening in all corners of the world, said Pakistani authorities should follow a recent Supreme Court decision and cease using the NAB to detain critics of the government.

The authorities, the HRW said, should investigate and prosecute NAB officials responsible for unlawful arrests and other abuses.

In an 87-page decision, the Pakistan Supreme Court had on July 20 ruled that the NAB had violated the rights to fair trial and due process in the arrest of two Opposition politicians — Khawaja Saad Rafique and Khawaja Salman Rafique — who were detained for 15 months without reasonable grounds. The court granted them bail and criticized the NAB for showing “utter disregard to the law, fair play, equity and propriety”. The court ruled that the “case was a classic example of trampling of fundamental rights (and) unlawful deprivation of freedom.”

“The Supreme Court judgment is just the latest indictment of the NAB’s unlawful behavior,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW. “Pakistani authorities should stop using a dictatorship-era body, possessing draconian and arbitrary powers, to intimidate and harass opponents.”

Citing a February report by the European Commission, the SC had in its ruling criticized the NAB for being biased, noting that “very few cases of the ruling party ministers and politicians have been pursued since the 2018 elections, which is considered to be a reflection of NAB’s partiality”.

“Pakistani authorities should uphold the government’s human rights obligations,” Adams said, adding that Pakistan’s parliament should carry out urgent reforms to make the anti-corruption body independent.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/stop-using-anti-corruption-agency-to-harass-opponents-rights-body-to-pak/articleshow/77399109.cms

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Arab world

 

Beirut blast aftermath recalls Lebanon’s civil war: MSF head

August 07, 2020

PARIS: With some 300,000 people left homeless by the massive explosion in Beirut, and fears of food and medicine shortages, MSF on Thursday likened the humanitarian fallout to that of Lebanon’s civil war.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) President Mego Terzian said that after the initial rush to treat the injured, the next priority would be to provide food and shelter for the destitute.

“Another priority will be taking care of people with chronic illnesses, those with cancer, HIV or respiratory diseases such as asthma, given the risk of an interruption of drug supplies,” he said.

Terzian said warehouses storing medicines and vaccines in the port of Beirut were damaged in Tuesday’s monster blast.

The provisional death toll stood at 137, but with dozens missing and 5,000 wounded the number of victims was expected to rise as rescue workers continued to comb through the rubble.

Three hospitals in the Achrafieh neighborhood of central Beirut, including one with 1,100 beds, were damaged in the blast.

“The dialysis center, which was the biggest in the country, was completely destroyed,” Terzian said.

But hospitals that were quickly overrun on Tuesday, with overflowing emergency rooms, had a handle on the situation by Wednesday with many injured transferred outside Beirut, he added.

“Lebanese health care workers, especially those with experience of the civil war, were able to triage the emergency rooms very quickly and prioritize those patients who had to go to the operating rooms,” he said.

Terzian said Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan were sending field hospitals, and attempts were being made to guarantee supplies of basic medicines such as antibiotics, painkillers and blood bags.

The blast sowed destruction like that caused by the country’s 1975-90 civil war, leveling buildings several hundred meters away.

“We lived difficult and similar experiences during the Lebanese war,” Terzian said.

Bombings of petrol warehouses near the port had yielded “similar scenes — the city was completely devastated, people were wandering the streets, wounded, desperate, without knowing where to go.”

Lebanon’s diaspora, estimated at nearly three times the size of the country’s population of 5 million, has stepped up to provide assistance.

Lebanese expats rushed to wire money to loved ones who lost their homes or were injured in the blast, while others worked to create special funds to address the tragedy.

“I’ve been on the phone all morning with ... our partners in order to put together an alliance for an emergency fund in light of the explosion,” said George Akiki, co-founder and CEO of LebNet, a nonprofit based in California’s Silicon Valley that helps Lebanese professionals in the United States and Canada.

“Everyone, both Lebanese and non-Lebanese, wants to help.”

Akiki said his group, along with other organizations such as SEAL and Life Lebanon, have set up Beirut Emergency Fund 2020, which will raise much-needed money and channel it to safe and reputable organizations in Lebanon.

Many Lebanese expats, who almost all have loved ones or friends impacted by the disaster, are also helping individually or have started online fundraisers.

“As a first step, my wife Hala and I will match at least $10,000 in donations and later on we will provide more help toward rebuilding and other projects,” said Habib Haddad, a tech entrepreneur and member of LebNet based in Boston, Massachusetts.

He said many fellow compatriots are doing the same, channeling their grief and anger toward helping their stricken homeland, which before the blast was already reeling from a deep economic and political crisis that has left more than half the population living in poverty.

“They’re asking Lebanese emigrants around the world to try and help,” said Maroun Daccache, owner of a Lebanese restaurant in Sao Paulo, Brazil, a country that has an estimated 7 million people of Lebanese descent.

“I’m trying to help with something but here the business is not very good because of the pandemic. Still, we are much better off than those over there,” Daccache said.

Even before the tragedy, Lebanon heavily relied on its diaspora for cash remittances but these inflows had slowed in the last year given the country’s political crisis.

Expats also usually visit home every summer, injecting much-needed cash into the economy. But the diaspora this year has largely been absent because of the COVID-19 pandemic and many had become increasingly skeptical and reluctant to send aid to a country where corruption is widespread and permeates all levels of society.

“People are outraged by the mismanagement of the country and they want to help, but no one trusts the people in charge,” said Najib Khoury-Haddad, a tech entrepreneur in the San Francisco area, echoing the feeling of many Lebanese leery of giving money to a dysfunctional government.

“I heard that the government has set up a relief fund but who would trust them?” he added.

Ghislaine Khairalla, 55, of Washington DC, said one idea being floated was to pair a needy family in Beirut with one outside the country that could provide a safe and direct source of assistance.

“We (the diaspora) are the financial bloodline especially since the economy is not going to recover anytime soon,” Khairalla, whose brother’s home was reduced to rubble by the blast, said. “And we are lucky to have a kind of stable life here. We are physically outside Lebanon but our hearts and emotions are there.”

Nayla Habib, a Lebanese-Canadian who lives in Montreal, said she planned to help in whatever way she can and expressed outrage at reports that the blast was caused by more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate stored at the Beirut port, which is located in the heart of the densely populated city.

“The state of our country is terrible and heartbreaking,” said Habib.

“I donated before the blast to a lady that helps feed the poor and I will donate again.

“Whatever I give is like a drop in the ocean but it’s necessary,” she added.

“I live in Canada but part of my heart is still there.”

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1715826/middle-east

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Rescue Operations Continue in Lebanon's Capital as Death Toll Continues to Climb

Aug 06, 2020

Members of the Lebanese Red Cross, army soldiers and volunteers were still searching for people listed missing under the rubble in areas near the port.

Civil defence workers were also busy examining building structures amid concerns that some might collapse after they were affected by the huge blast.

Lebanon's Ministry of Health announced that 157 people have been killed in the blast at Beirut's port on Tuesday, while at least 5,000 others have been injured. The explosion left 300,000 homeless.

Red Cross volunteers at the scene of the explosion declared they expect the death toll to rise as searches continue at the port where dozens are still missing, especially among employees who were present at the time of the incident.

After the explosion rocked the capital city of Beirut, the Lebanese government has decided to put all officials who oversaw storage and security there since 2014 under house arrest, until investigations are complete. The investigation is being conducted by a special committee headed by the Justice Minister and includes Prime Minister Hassan Diab and the heads of major security agencies.

The government of Lebanon has given an "investigative committee" four days to determine responsibility for the devastating explosion in Beirut port on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe told French radio.

"This morning, a decision was taken to create an investigative committee which in four days maximum must provide a detailed report on responsibility - how, who, what, where? There will be judicial decisions," he told Europe 1 radio.   

"It is serious, and we take it seriously," Wehbe said, adding, "Those responsible for this horrible crime of negligence will be punished by a committee of judges."

As vast part of the city has been fallen into ruin, Economy Minister Raoul Nehme warned that Lebanon does not have sufficient financial means to cope with the consequences of the explosion in Beirut, noting, "We are asking the international community for aid. The damage caused by the explosion is assessed as billions of dollars. We will need time to estimate the total damage."

Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud has also declared the massive explosion in Beirut might cost up to $15 billion worth in damage, pointing out that the capital "has some grain stocks, so the authorities are planning to cope with the food crisis without external interference".

The deadly blast in the port of Beirut, which the mayor of the city compared to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, had an explosive yield of several hundred tons of TNT equivalent, Business Insider reported, citing weapons experts.

Roland Alford, Managing Director of Alford Technologies, a British company that specialises in disposal of explosive ordnance, said “on a scale, this explosion is scaled down from a nuclear bomb rather than up from a conventional bomb”.

He added that “this is probably up there among the biggest non-nuclear explosions of all time".

Terrifying footage showed a huge mushroom cloud of fire and smoke covering much of Beirut’s port area, blowing out windows and destroying buildings in the neighborhood, as a warehouse at the Beirut docks caught fire on Tuesday afternoon. Photos on social media showed many buildings in the area damaged or destroyed, leaving residents covered in glass and blood.

Several smaller explosions were heard before the bigger one occurred and turned the city’s streets into a debris-strewn wasteland.

Health Minister Hamad Hassan blamed the explosion on a fireworks accident, ordering all hospitals in Beirut to prepare for the victims of the incident.

Badri Zaher, Director General of the Lebanese Customs House, declared that dozens of tons of nitrate had exploded in the port of Beirut.

Lebanese General Security Director Abbas Ibrahim also dismissed rumors of Israeli involvement, noting that a large cache of highly explosive sodium nitrate was stored at the site, after being confiscated off a ship several months ago. But he did not explain how the fire has started.

Head of the Lebanese Red Cross George Kettaneh also stated that hundreds of injured people were taken to hospital for treatment, while some still remain trapped in their homes.

The Health Ministry said all Beirut hospitals are overcrowded with those injured in the incident and can no more accomodate anyone.

Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud called it a "national catastrophe", adding, “It resembles to what happened in Japan, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That’s what [it] reminds me of. In my life, I haven’t seen destruction on this scale."

Early reports claimed a short-circuit has likely sparked fire at the warehouse where the huge sodium nitrate cargo was kept and fire later spread to an adjacent warehouse where a huge cargo of fireworks was stored.

Yet, there is still no official report on the exact cause of the blast, a UN spokesperson told reporters that his organization is still unsure whether the explosion was "an accidental or man-made act".

The Israeli Defense Force has denied responsibility for the massive explosions in Beirut. Hezbollah has also denied the blasts were the result of a rocket attack.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990516000427

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Beirut explosion: Destroyed port used as quarantine center long before coronavirus

07 August 2020

The Port of Beirut – the site of the disastrous explosions that shattered Beirut on Tuesday – came to prominence as a Mediterranean trading hub facilitating commercial activity for Lebanon.

But 200 years ago, during a time of political uncertainty in which Lebanon was occupied by an Egyptian dynasty, the port was developed as a way to quell epidemics. At the time, cholera was the primary concern, but today, Lebanon – and the rest of the world – must again grapple with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic while it clears out the rubble left from the blasts.

Two days after the blasts, Lebanon recorded its highest single-day coronavirus infection tally, with 255 new cases.

While parts of Beirut lies in ruin, citizens have picked up brooms and taken to the streets. Meanwhile, the government seems absent from the scene, although security forces made an appearance Thursday night to blast protesters with tear gas after they gathered to protest government negligence that led to the explosions.

While the port’s history stretches back to the 15th century, the government paid particular attention to the development of the port in the 19th century as the city developed, wrote the late Samir Kassir in his book Beirut.

It was luck and a concern for public hygiene that subsequently saw the port’s commercial activity expand, according to the well-known Lebanese journalist and professor Kassir. Ibrahim Pasha, the Egyptian leader in charge of Lebanon at the time, sought to establish a network of quarantine centers throughout the Levant to slow the spread of epidemics.

While religious figures in Damascus and Tripoli protested, a lazaretto – a quarantine station for maritime travelers – was installed near Beriut at Cape Khodr along Saint George Bay – an area that would later be incorporated into municipal Beirut.

It would keep the name Qarantina.

Situated in a northern suburb of Beirut, before the blasts that shook Beirut to its core, the Qarantina of 21st century Beirut was a quiet neighborhood separated from the busier Mar Mikhael by a highway that hosted of the city’s famed nightclubs in old industrial buildings that once attracted Lebanese and tourists alike before they shut what was supposed to be temporarily to quell the modern pandemic.

Back in 1834, arrivals in Qarantina were required to quarantine for 12 days – two days less than the recommended self-isolation period for the novel coronavirus today. At the time, cholera was the major concern as two epidemics hit from the 1830s to 1860s.

“In principle it was obligatory for all visitors, but difficulties were not slow in emerging,” wrote Kassir.

French consul Henri guys was charged with devising a system of sanitary regulations, and consuls from Austria, Denmark, Spain and Greece were part of a supervisory committee.

“However limited the effectiveness of the quarantine may have been from a medical point of view, it undeniably benefited the economic development of Beirut, which from now on was an obligatory port of call for ships in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Kassir wrote.

While the Egyptians quit Beirut, and the city fell back under Ottoman control, warehouses were built and wharves were enlarged to handle the increased traffic to the port and port and customs procedures were regularized, which helped Beirut attract a larger share of trade with Europe.

By the 20th century, Beirut had become a major regional seaport, serving the oil trade and passenger and cargo traffic in the Levant and the Gulf, Australian-based outlet The Conversation reported.

“The port has played a key role in Beirut’s history and stands at the centre of the city, surrounded by some of its most important neighbourhoods,” Sara Fregonese wrote in The Conversation.

Up until Tuesday, the Beirut port had been responsible for 60 percent of Lebanon’s imports, as well as the storage of its food and medical reserves. Lebanon imports between 80 and 85 percent of its food.

As nationwide protests kicked off against government corruption and neglect in October during an ongoing currency and economic crisis, reports of medical shortages began to surface as importers could no longer secure dollars needed to pay for goods. The dollar shortage has also spurred inflation, and food costs have skyrocketed. Even bread, a subsidized good, has been subject to minor price increases.

The blasts at the port – which were also the subject of gross government negligence – took out a wheat silo that was capable of holding 120,000 tonnes of grain. At the time of the blast, it held only around 15,000 tonnes, but the country’s Minister of Economy Raoul Nehme said the country only had enough supplies for less than a month.

An official investigation is yet to determine the cause of the blast, but initial reports suggest that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored at the port caught fire and caused the explosion that destroyed Beirut neighborhoods, left 137 dead, 5,000 injured, and some 300,000 homeless.

Sidon, Beirut, Tripoli ports

After Tuesday’s devastating blast, it seems like the country’s main commercial hub will become Tripoli in the north, though the port in Lebanon’s second largest city does not have the capacity of Beirut.

Public Works Minister Michel Najjar told local TV that Tripoli’s port may be backed up by Sidon and Tyre in the south.

In the 1820s, Sidon was bypassed for Beirut as a hub for trade, as the south was in decline, and the Egyptians viewed Beirut as a rising international city with the first foreign consuls and diplomats arriving in the city. French merchants began to favor Beirut over Sidon at this time as well, and Beirut became seen as the gateway to Europe – a title it still holds today, despite coming under immense strain.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/08/07/Beirut-explosion-Destroyed-port-used-as-quarantine-center.html

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UNICEF estimates 80,000 children displaced after Beirut explosion

06 August 2020

An estimated 80,000 children have become displaced due to the Beirut explosions that destroyed homes and buildings across the Lebanese capital, according to UNICEF.

“Over 300,000 people lost their homes and are now displaced. UNICEF estimates that nearly 80,000 are children. Children are likely to be among the casualties. Those who survived are traumatized and in shock,” a statement from UNICEF said.

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

On Tuesday, multiple explosions at the Port of Beirut tore across the city, with residents in Cyprus reporting they felt a tremor.

“Over the past 24 hours, UNICEF continued to coordinate closely with authorities and partners on the ground to respond to the urgent needs focusing on health, water and the wellbeing of children,” UNICEF Deputy Representative in Lebanon Violet Speek-Warnery said.

UNICEF said that at least 12 primary healthcare facilities, maternal, immunization and newborn centers in Beirut were impacted. At least one newborn died, according to the UN agency.

Read more: Damaged Lebanon hospitals treating patients in parking lots after Beirut blasts

The children’s hospital in Karantina near the port had a specialized unit that cared for critical newborns. It has been destroyed, UNICEF said.

“The remaining operational hospitals are overstretched and have been depleted of critical medical supplies, both for emergency and COVID-19 response,” UNICEF said.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/08/07/UNICEF-estimates-that-80-000-children-have-been-displaced-due-to-Beirut-explosion-.html

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Sixteen arrested in connection with Beirut blasts: State-run news agency

06 August 2020

Sixteen people have been arrested in Lebanon in connection with the massive explosions that rocked Beirut, a judge told the state-run news agency Thursday night.

“The current number of those detained is 16, in addition to others that are still under investigation,” Lebanese Judge Fadi Akiki told the National News Agency.

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

But more than 18 people have been questioned so far, including officials from the Port of Beirut, Customs Department and employees at the Warehouse 12, where more than 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate were stored, Akiki said.

The arrests come as the country's central bank decided to freeze the accounts of the heads of the port and customs along with five others, according to a central bank directive seen by Reuters and confirmed by the central bank.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/08/07/Sixteen-arrested-in-connection-with-Beirut-blasts-State-run-news-agency.html

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Lebanon's Gebran Bassil warns Macron of refugees 'your way' if Lebanon collapses

06 August 2020

The head of Lebanon’s largest Christian party and son-in-law of the president, Gebran Bassil, warned French President Emmanuel Macron that millions of refugees would flee to Europe if Lebanon collapsed.

Bassil told Macron, who was visiting Beirut following the explosions that killed more than 130 people and wounded over 5,000, that “we do not [forget] the reality of two million refugees and displaced on our land because of unjust wars.”

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

“Those that we are generously welcoming could flee towards you if Lebanon [collapses],” Bassil said, according to OTV, a TV channel funded by his political party.

The Lebanese government estimates that there are around 1.5 million Syrian refugees in the country and close to 400,000 Palestinian refugees.

Social media users quickly criticized Bassil, who has been accused of racism in the past.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/08/06/-s-Gebran-Bassil-warns-Macron-of-refugees-your-way-if-Lebanon-collapses.html

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After Beirut explosion, Lebanese American politicians stand with Lebanon

06 August 2020

American politicians with Lebanese heritage have taken to social media to express their solidarity and support for the land of their ancestors following the deadly explosion in Beirut on Tuesday.

Nearly 1.5 million Americans are of Lebanese descent, including a range of prominent US politicians serving in Congress, according to the Arab-American Institute.

Many of these politicians have spoken out in response to the blast that occurred in the land of their ancestors on Tuesday.

Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist, formerly governor of Florida, said he was “devasted” to hear of the tragedy.

“My mother’s side of our family have deep roots in Lebanon…Those that are hurt and families that are torn apart...are in my prayers,” Crist said in a post on Twitter.

Another Florida representative, Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, whose grandparents came to the US from Lebanon, said in a post on Twitter that her “heart aches for Beirut.”

“Lebanon is part of my heritage,” she said, sharing photos of the damage sent to her from family members in Beirut.

“America stands with our friends in Lebanon,” posted Congressman Darin LaHood of Illinois, whose great-grandparents came to the US from Lebanon.

“In central Illinois, we have an incredible Lebanese American community, and I will continue to urge Congress and the Administration to support Lebanon in response to this tragedy,” he said.

Democratic Congresswoman Donna Shalala of Florida said she was “saddened by the horrible tragedy” and offered her “deepest condolences” to everyone affected.

“I care deeply about the land of my grandparents. My hope and my prayer are that the people of Lebanon will come together to help their brothers and sisters recover from this terrible tragedy,” she said in a post on Twitter.

“I plan on working with my colleagues in Congress and at the State Department to make sure the United States helps provide the necessary humanitarian assistance,” she added.

The current US leadership has expressed their willingness to help Lebanon in the aftermath of the tragedy.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered US assistance to Lebanon and called former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri on Wednesday.

The US “remains committed to assist with the aftermath of this terrifying event,” Pompeo said in a post on Twitter.

“The United States stands ready to assist Lebanon,” US President Donald Trump said during a White House briefing.

“Our prayers go out to all the victims and their families,” Trump said.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2020/08/06/After-Beirut-blast-Lebanese-American-politicians-stand-with-Lebanon.html

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Pro-Iran militias continue hitting military bases in Iraq

Aug 5, 2020

The two rockets that hit Baghdad airport July 30 were one of several attacks in Iraq last month presumed to be or declared by Shiite armed groups against any Western military presence in the country.

The airport, which had reopened July 23 for commercial flights after it was closed in March in an attempt to stem the coronavirus pandemic, lies just west of the capital. No significant damage resulted; the rockets had reportedly been shot from two different areas along an international highway in al-Radwaniyah, southwest of the capital.

On July 28, some media sources had been told by unnamed “Iraqi security” that two rockets had landed inside the airport but had not resulted in any damage. The claim was shortly thereafter denied by the Iraqi Security Media Cell, which instead confirmed exactly such an attack two days later.

The latest of many attacks on Camp Taji, on July 27, less than 30 kilometers (19 miles) north of Baghdad, meanwhile damaged an Iraqi helicopter but did not affect coalition troops or facilities.

Several attacks in recent months have been claimed by “new pro-Iran groups” that some say may instead be unofficial branches of Kataib Hezbollah, which has brigades within Iraq’s official government Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), but which was declared a terrorist organization by the United States in 2009 and has long received support from Iran.

Al-Monitor tried to get in touch with a number of PMU commanders and a PMU spokesman, and even though in the past they had commented, they said they could not respond to questions relating to recent attacks and prominent Shiite armed groups’ call for "revenge" for the deaths of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani and Kataib Hezbollah leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who were killed by a US drone strike next to the Baghdad airport Jan. 3.

Many factions within the PMU are linked to parties in the parliament and political jockeying is expected the coming months ahead of early elections scheduled for June 2021.

A message requesting comments from Kataib Hezbollah spokesman Jaafar al-Husseini was left unanswered. However, Husseini had told Al-Monitor via WhatsApp June 29 that there would be severe consequences for the raid of Kataib Hezbollah headquarters by the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Services, which have received training and extensive support from the US-led international coalition.

Husseini noted that the various factions close to Iran as part of "the axis of resistance" would continue “to put pressure on the Americans to leave after the decision from the parliament,” and after “millions took to the streets to say they want the Americans out [after] the crimes they committed — like the airport crime and the attacks on the PMU.”

He claimed that “this will lead us to take action in order to stop the government’s unlawful measures," vowing that “the Americans and [Prime Minister] Mustafa al-Kadhimi should know that Iraq will not be for the Americans or the Israelis or the oil countries,” in reference to Gulf nations.

A June 29 tweet by the Iraqi security and counterterrorism expert Hisham al-Hashimi, about a week before his assassination, had asked the question of what the factions of "the axis of resistance" meant when they said that “they are under the command of the commander-in-chief of the armed forces” and “his security and military vision,” when they circulated photos of Kataib Hezbollah fighters who had been arrested stomping on the face of the commander-in-chief, the prime minister, as soon as they were released after their arrest.

Hashimi, whose killers have not yet been found but who had received threats from Kataib Hezbollah prior to his death, said that these factions were thus “deceiving themselves and their audiences.”

PMU officially created in 2014 — when Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a fatwa calling on Iraqis to fight in unison against the Islamic State (IS) after they took control of Mosul — not close to Iran will comment much on the killing of Soleimani other than that any assassination by a foreign country on Iraqi soil should be answered for. The death of PMU leader Muhandis was seen by some as a major loss, in part due to his ability to exercise control over a wide variety of disparate armed groups.

The commander of one Sunni PMU faction, which had received support from Iran via Muhandis to fight against IS post-2014, told Al-Monitor earlier this year that Muhandis was "the soul of the PMU.” The commander, Sheikh Wennas al-Jbara from Salahhuddin province, widely praised Muhandis in an interview at one of his outposts near the Hamreen Mountains in March. However, he carefully sidestepped questions specifically about Iran and the United States, simply saying he was “against any foreign interference on Iraqi soil.”

The situation seems extremely dangerous for anyone who might voice a different opinion, as Hashimi’s assassination shows.

One concern is that these attacks by Shiite militias on Iraqi government facilities seen as close to the international coalition will negatively impact the fight against IS sleeper cells, including near the capital.

On the damage to Iraqi bases hosting or previously hosting international coalition troops, international coalition spokesman Col. Myles B. Caggins III told Al-Monitor in a WhatsApp voice message July 29 that "their effect on the fight against IS is somewhat limited. What is more important, more egregious and more dastardly about these attacks is that the groups — who are doing these attacks [and] are under different names — are once again harming Iraqi people. This is Iraqi equipment flown by Iraqi pilots for the fight to ensure that ISIS does not harm Iraqi people. So the question is why are these attacks happening on Iraqi security force bases. And it is clear that the government of Iraq is making strong statements about these outlawed groups and working quite intensely to find the groups and bring people to justice.”

He stressed that "the relationship between the government of Iraq and the coalition is strong and any groups that are envious of that relationship … perhaps their motivation is not fully aligned with defeating ISIS. I don’t know, I can’t speak for those groups.”

The continuing attacks may force the coalition troops to shift more to defending themselves and to supporting areas where they feel more welcome as they continue their drawdown.

Whether this will result in greater independence for Iraq, as Kataib Hezbollah claims, or the opposite — along with more IS activity and less potential investment and aid in a country desperate for both — will become clear in the coming months.

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/08/iraq-shiite-militias-us-iran.html?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1418800_

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Mideast

 

Iran's Top Commander Offers Condolence to Nasrallah, Lebanese Army Commander

Aug 06, 2020

In his messages on Wednesday, General Baqeri said that the tragic incident requires the Armed Forces of the Islamic countries to provide humanitarian aid to the people of Lebanon.

Iranian Army Commander Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi had also offered his commiseration over the deadly explosion in Beirut, and voiced Iran’s readiness to provide any assistance to the Lebanese people and government.

A massive explosion rocked the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Tuesday, killing at least 135 people, wounding over 5,000 more, and smashing a vast area.

Terrifying footage showed a huge mushroom cloud of fire and smoke covering much of Beirut’s port area, blowing out windows and destroying buildings in the neighborhood, as a warehouse at the Beirut docks caught fire on Tuesday afternoon.

Photos on social media showed many buildings in the area damaged or destroyed, leaving residents covered in glass and blood.

Several smaller explosions were heard before the bigger one occurred and turned the city’s streets into a debris-strewn wasteland.

In addition to local authorities, more than 30 Red Cross teams are responding at the scene of the blast.

Health Minister Hamad Hassan blamed the explosion on a fireworks accident, ordering all hospitals in Beirut to prepare for the victims of the incident.

Head of the Lebanese Red Cross George Kettaneh also stated that hundreds of injured people were taken to hospital for treatment, while some still remain trapped in their homes.

Hotel Dieu Hospital in Beirut reported it was treating more than 500 injuries and was not able to receive more. Tens of injured needed operations, the hospital said appealing for blood donations. Rizq Hospital also said that it has admitted 400 wounded people.

The health ministry said all Beirut hospitals are overcrowded with those injured in the incident and can no more accommodate anyone.

Yet, the health minister told Lebanon's LBC News that hundreds are feared dead and thousands have been wounded in the blast. He added that the death toll now stands at over 135.

The Lebanese Red Cross also declared that over 5,000 people have been wounded in the incident, while the numbers are still expected to rise. It added that over 135 dead bodies have been collected from the scene of the incident so far.

Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud called it a "national catastrophe" and Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared a day of mourning.

“It resembles to what happened in Japan, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That’s what [it] reminds me of. In my life, I haven’t seen destruction on this scale," Abboud added.

Badri Zaher, Director General of the Lebanese Customs House, declared that dozens of tons of nitrate had exploded in the port of Beirut.

Lebanese General Security Director Abbas Ibrahim also dismissed rumors of Israeli involvement, noting that a large cache of highly explosive sodium nitrate was stored at the site, after being confiscated off a ship several months ago. But he did not explain how the fire has started.

Early reports said a short-circuit has likely sparked fire at the warehouse where the huge sodium nitrate cargo was kept and fire later spread to an adjacent warehouse where a huge cargo of fireworks was stored.

Yet, there is still no official report on the exact cause of the blast, while a UN spokesperson told reporters that his organization is still unsure whether the explosion was "an accidental or man-made act".

Later, the Israeli Defense Force denied responsibility for the massive explosions in Beirut. Hezbollah has also denied the blasts were the result of a rocket attack.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990516000359

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Iran, Lebanon Review Ways to Aid Injured People in Beirut

Aug 06, 2020

During the phone talks, the two sides discussed the catastrophic explosion that occurred in Beirut Port and the way of sending humanitarian aid to the injured.

General Hatami expressed his condolences and sympathy with the government, Armed Forces and people of Lebanon, and said that Iranian government and Armed Forces are ready to send emergency aids to those injured in the incident.

“Iran’s medical aid include a field hospital which is ready for sending to Lebanon.”

Akar, for her part, appreciated Iran for expressing sympathy and humanitarian contributions to Lebanon.

A massive explosion rocked the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Tuesday, killing at least 135 people, wounding over 5,000 more, and smashing a vast area.

Terrifying footage showed a huge mushroom cloud of fire and smoke covering much of Beirut’s port area, blowing out windows and destroying buildings in the neighborhood, as a warehouse at the Beirut docks caught fire on Tuesday afternoon.

Photos on social media showed many buildings in the area damaged or destroyed, leaving residents covered in glass and blood.

Several smaller explosions were heard before the bigger one occurred and turned the city’s streets into a debris-strewn wasteland.

In addition to local authorities, more than 30 Red Cross teams are responding at the scene of the blast.

Health Minister Hamad Hassan blamed the explosion on a fireworks accident, ordering all hospitals in Beirut to prepare for the victims of the incident.

Head of the Lebanese Red Cross George Kettaneh also stated that hundreds of injured people were taken to hospital for treatment, while some still remain trapped in their homes.

Hotel Dieu Hospital in Beirut reported it was treating more than 500 injuries and was not able to receive more. Tens of injured needed operations, the hospital said appealing for blood donations. Rizq Hospital also said that it has admitted 400 wounded people.

The health ministry said all Beirut hospitals are overcrowded with those injured in the incident and can no more accommodate anyone.

Yet, the health minister told Lebanon's LBC News that hundreds are feared dead and thousands have been wounded in the blast. He added that the death toll now stands at over 135.

The Lebanese Red Cross also declared that over 5,000 people have been wounded in the incident, while the numbers are still expected to rise. It added that over 135 dead bodies have been collected from the scene of the incident so far.

Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud called it a "national catastrophe" and Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared a day of mourning.

“It resembles to what happened in Japan, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That’s what [it] reminds me of. In my life, I haven’t seen destruction on this scale," Abboud added.

Badri Zaher, Director General of the Lebanese Customs House, declared that dozens of tons of nitrate had exploded in the port of Beirut.

Lebanese General Security Director Abbas Ibrahim also dismissed rumors of Israeli involvement, noting that a large cache of highly explosive sodium nitrate was stored at the site, after being confiscated off a ship several months ago. But he did not explain how the fire has started.

Early reports said a short-circuit has likely sparked fire at the warehouse where the huge sodium nitrate cargo was kept and fire later spread to an adjacent warehouse where a huge cargo of fireworks was stored.

Yet, there is still no official report on the exact cause of the blast, while a UN spokesperson told reporters that his organization is still unsure whether the explosion was "an accidental or man-made act".

Later, the Israeli Defense Force denied responsibility for the massive explosions in Beirut. Hezbollah has also denied the blasts were the result of a rocket attack.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990516000273

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Iran's EC Chairman Urges Islamic States to Help Lebanon

Aug 06, 2020

Addressing a meeting of the Expediency Council on Wednesday, Amoli Larijani urged Muslim countries to help the disaster-stricken people and government of Lebanon, and said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran will stand by the Lebanese people and will spare no efforts in helping them.”

He extended his deep condolences to the government, people and forces of Lebanese Resistance Front and Hezbollah, specially Secretary General of Lebanese Hezbollah Resistance Movement Seyed Hassan Nasrallah, over the death of over 135 people in Beirut port’s explosion, and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.

The occurrence of this tragic, heartrending and sad incident caused great sorrow and grief to all Muslims and all people in various countries, he said, adding, “It is necessary for all countries especially Muslim countries to help Lebanese government and people to solve their problems and dire consequences of this incident.”

A massive explosion rocked the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Tuesday, killing at least 135 people, wounding over 5,000 more, and smashing a vast area.

Terrifying footage showed a huge mushroom cloud of fire and smoke covering much of Beirut’s port area, blowing out windows and destroying buildings in the neighborhood, as a warehouse at the Beirut docks caught fire on Tuesday afternoon.

Photos on social media showed many buildings in the area damaged or destroyed, leaving residents covered in glass and blood.

Several smaller explosions were heard before the bigger one occurred and turned the city’s streets into a debris-strewn wasteland.

In addition to local authorities, more than 30 Red Cross teams are responding at the scene of the blast.

Health Minister Hamad Hassan blamed the explosion on a fireworks accident, ordering all hospitals in Beirut to prepare for the victims of the incident.

Head of the Lebanese Red Cross George Kettaneh also stated that hundreds of injured people were taken to hospital for treatment, while some still remain trapped in their homes.

Hotel Dieu Hospital in Beirut reported it was treating more than 500 injuries and was not able to receive more. Tens of injured needed operations, the hospital said appealing for blood donations. Rizq Hospital also said that it has admitted 400 wounded people.

The health ministry said all Beirut hospitals are overcrowded with those injured in the incident and can no more accommodate anyone.

Yet, the health minister told Lebanon's LBC News that hundreds are feared dead and thousands have been wounded in the blast. He added that the death toll now stands at over 135.

The Lebanese Red Cross also declared that over 5,000 people have been wounded in the incident, while the numbers are still expected to rise. It added that over 135 dead bodies have been collected from the scene of the incident so far.

Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud called it a "national catastrophe" and Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared a day of mourning.

“It resembles to what happened in Japan, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That’s what [it] reminds me of. In my life, I haven’t seen destruction on this scale," Abboud added.

Badri Zaher, Director General of the Lebanese Customs House, declared that dozens of tons of nitrate had exploded in the port of Beirut.

Lebanese General Security Director Abbas Ibrahim also dismissed rumors of Israeli involvement, noting that a large cache of highly explosive sodium nitrate was stored at the site, after being confiscated off a ship several months ago. But he did not explain how the fire has started.

Early reports said a short-circuit has likely sparked fire at the warehouse where the huge sodium nitrate cargo was kept and fire later spread to an adjacent warehouse where a huge cargo of fireworks was stored.

Yet, there is still no official report on the exact cause of the blast, while a UN spokesperson told reporters that his organization is still unsure whether the explosion was "an accidental or man-made act".

Later, the Israeli Defense Force denied responsibility for the massive explosions in Beirut. Hezbollah has also denied the blasts were the result of a rocket attack.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990516000341

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Iran: US Should Show Honesty in Sympathy to Lebanon by Lifting Sanctions

Aug 06, 2020

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi pointed to the US and Zionist regime’s sympathy with the Lebanese people, and said, “This is one of hypocrisies and deceptions of the Zionist regime and the United States that have always tried to fish in troubled water. If they are honest, they should lift sanctions imposed against Lebanese people.”

God willing, stability and peace will return to Lebanon with the help of Islamic governments, Muslim people and other countries in the world, he emphasized.

Regional security requires expulsion of foreign forces from West Asia, Mousavi said, adding that all those who want a secure and stable region must unite to expel foreign forces from the region and stop interfering in internal affairs of countries.

Hundreds of individuals and entities have been sanctioned by the US in Lebanon, with the list focusing mainly on those with ties to the Hezbollah resistance movement. The list, however, includes a wide range of targets, from pharmaceutical companies, religious organizations and community outreach groups to banks and trading importer/exporters.

Observers say that the US sanctions on Lebanon have deteriorated the already struggling economy of the Arab country.

A massive explosion rocked the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Tuesday, killing at least 135 people, wounding over 5,000 more, and smashing a vast area.

Terrifying footage showed a huge mushroom cloud of fire and smoke covering much of Beirut’s port area, blowing out windows and destroying buildings in the neighborhood, as a warehouse at the Beirut docks caught fire on Tuesday afternoon.

Photos on social media showed many buildings in the area damaged or destroyed, leaving residents covered in glass and blood.

Several smaller explosions were heard before the bigger one occurred and turned the city’s streets into a debris-strewn wasteland.

In addition to local authorities, more than 30 Red Cross teams are responding at the scene of the blast.

Health Minister Hamad Hassan blamed the explosion on a fireworks accident, ordering all hospitals in Beirut to prepare for the victims of the incident.

Head of the Lebanese Red Cross George Kettaneh also stated that hundreds of injured people were taken to hospital for treatment, while some still remain trapped in their homes.

Hotel Dieu Hospital in Beirut reported it was treating more than 500 injuries and was not able to receive more. Tens of injured needed operations, the hospital said appealing for blood donations. Rizq Hospital also said that it has admitted 400 wounded people.

The health ministry said all Beirut hospitals are overcrowded with those injured in the incident and can no more accommodate anyone.

Yet, the health minister told Lebanon's LBC News that hundreds are feared dead and thousands have been wounded in the blast. He added that the death toll now stands at over 135.

The Lebanese Red Cross also declared that over 5,000 people have been wounded in the incident, while the numbers are still expected to rise. It added that over 135 dead bodies have been collected from the scene of the incident so far.

Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud called it a "national catastrophe" and Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared a day of mourning.

“It resembles to what happened in Japan, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That’s what [it] reminds me of. In my life, I haven’t seen destruction on this scale," Abboud added.

Badri Zaher, Director General of the Lebanese Customs House, declared that dozens of tons of nitrate had exploded in the port of Beirut.

Lebanese General Security Director Abbas Ibrahim also dismissed rumors of Israeli involvement, noting that a large cache of highly explosive sodium nitrate was stored at the site, after being confiscated off a ship several months ago. But he did not explain how the fire has started.

Early reports said a short-circuit has likely sparked fire at the warehouse where the huge sodium nitrate cargo was kept and fire later spread to an adjacent warehouse where a huge cargo of fireworks was stored.

Yet, there is still no official report on the exact cause of the blast, while a UN spokesperson told reporters that his organization is still unsure whether the explosion was "an accidental or man-made act".

Later, the Israeli Defense Force denied responsibility for the massive explosions in Beirut. Hezbollah has also denied the blasts were the result of a rocket attack.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990516000398

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Africa

 

Mediator S. Africa urges talks to continue on Ethiopia’s Nile dam

06 August 2020

South Africa, current mediator in a long-running feud over Ethiopia’s dam on the Blue Nile, on Thursday urged talks to continue despite threats of suspension and walkout.

Egypt on Tuesday called for a halt in the talks while Sudan threatened to withdraw, rattling efforts to calm the dispute.

In a statement, South Africa, which as current chair of the African Union (AU) has been acting as mediator, said negotiations were at a “critical phase” and it “encourages the parties to remain engaged.”

“We would like to urge them to continue to be guided by the spirit of Pan-African solidarity and fraternity, which has characterized the AU-led negotiations process on the GERD,” International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor said.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has been a source of tension in the Nile River basin ever since Ethiopia broke ground on it in 2011.

Egypt and Sudan view the dam as a threat to vital water supplies, while Ethiopia considers it crucial for its electrification and development.

“It is important that the parties should display magnanimity and understanding of each other’s interests so as to move the process forward,” Pandor said.

Tuesday’s warnings were issued after a meeting of tripartite technical and legal committees which are seeking an agreement on how the dam should be filled and operated.

Read more: In new round of talks on Nile dam, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia fail to reach agreement

Sudan’s water and irrigation minister, Yasser Abbas accused Ethiopia of shifting its position.

Ethiopia, he said, now insisted that the deal on the dam be linked to the wider question of sharing the waters of the Blue Nile.

“This new Ethiopian position threatens the negotiations under the aegis of the African Union, and Sudan will not participate in negotiations which include the subject of sharing Blue Nile waters,” he warned.

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

Egypt and Sudan invoke a “historic right” over the river guaranteed by treaties concluded in 1929 and 1959.

But Ethiopia uses a treaty signed in 2010 by six riverside countries and boycotted by Egypt and Sudan authorizing irrigation projects and dams on the river.

Egypt’s water ministry, for its part, said Ethiopia’s draft proposal lacked substance and contravened guidelines set at an AU summit on July 21.

“Egypt and Sudan demanded meetings be suspended for internal consultations,” it said.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/08/06/Mediator-S-Africa-urges-talks-to-continue-on-Ethiopia-s-dam-on-the-Blue-Nile.html

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Victims of Suspected Boko Haram Attack on Cameroon IDP Camp Need Urgent Help

By Lisa Schlein

August 05, 2020

GENEVA - The United Nations refugee agency says victims of a suspected Boko Haram terror attack on an IDP camp in Cameroon’s Far North region remain unprotected and in need of urgent help.  At least 18 people were killed and 11 others injured.

The camp housing 800 internally displaced people was attacked early Sunday. Militant jihadists reportedly threw a grenade into the compound while people were sleeping.

The U.N. refugee agency says it is outraged by this brutal, unprovoked attack and condemns it in the strongest terms.  UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch tells VOA that Nigeria-based terror group Boko Haram is suspected of being behind the attack.

“In Cameroon, since early this year, more than 87 attacks have been recorded, which are attributed to Boko Haram.  It has affected millions of people in the region and only in this area of Cameroon, there are more than 320,000 people displaced,” he said.

Map of Nguetchewe, Cameroon

This latest attack near the village of Nguetchewe follows an upsurge of violence in Cameroon’s Far North Region, including looting and kidnapping.  Civilians in this area, which covers Chad and north-east Nigeria, have been at the mercy of Boko Haram and other armed groups for years.

Baloch says the attack on the IDP camp has caused some 1,500 people, including terrified residents of the hosting village, to flee to a nearby town for safety.  He says the UNHCR is sending an emergency mission to assess the situation and evaluate the protection and health needs of those affected.

“Against the backdrop of growing insecurity, UNHCR anticipates enhanced protection, shelter, water and sanitation will be needed as the country responds to the COVID-19 pandemic… Access a uge issue for humanitarians in this region in terms of providing humanitarian support," said Baloch.

The U.N. says Boko Haram violence in the Lake Chad Basin region has cost the lives of 30,000 people, displaced more than three million and forced nearly 300,000 Nigerians to seek refuge in neighboring countries.

https://www.voanews.com/africa/victims-suspected-boko-haram-attack-cameroon-idp-camp-need-urgent-help?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1418800_

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North America

 

US Iran envoy Brian Hook standing down, Elliott Abrams to take on the role

August 06, 2020

WASHINGTON: Iran envoy Brian Hook is leaving his post and US Venezuela envoy Elliott Abrams will add Iran to his role "following a transition period" with Hook, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday.

Hook's departure comes as the United Nations Security Council prepares to vote next week on a U.S. bid to extend an international arms embargo on Iran. Some diplomats have said the measure lacks support.

Pompeo did not give a reason for Hook's decision to leave. It was not immediately clear when Hook would finish, but the announcement comes at a crucial time for U.S. diplomacy on Iran.

If the United States is unsuccessful in extending the arms embargo on Iran, it has threatened to trigger a return of all UN sanctions under a process - known as snapback - agreed in the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

Some diplomats have suggested the United States will likely start the snapback process, which could take up to 30 days, by the end of August.

Abrams, a Republican foreign policy veteran, was named US special representative for Venezuela in January of last year and has led a hardline approach aimed at ousting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

US officials have said privately that President Donald Trump has been frustrated by the failure to remove Maduro, who retains the support of the Venezuelan military, as well from Russia, China, Cuba and Iran.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1715671/middle-east

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Democrats refuse to condemn Antifa in domestic terrorism hearing, Andy Ngo says

Aug 07, 2020

Tensions ran high at a Senate hearing on Antifa on Tuesday as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, blasted Democrats for not condemning the leftist extremist group more directly for the violence that has erupted in certain U.S. cities in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis.

Andy Ngo, a conservative journalist from Portland who has documented the movements of Antifa for years and was allegedly attacked by members of the group in 2019, said they have 'mastered the art of making its violence appear innocuous.'

“I don't think Congress currently is equipped to handle domestic terrorism because it's so politicized and that's very dangerous for this country,” said Ngo, who testified as a witness on Tuesday’s hearing.

During the hearing, there was a refusal by Democrats to condemn Antifa, according to Ngo.

“I think Republicans have by and large done a very good part with speaking very honestly and openly about far-right extremism and making sure that the sort of world views and ideologies of racist extremist movements don't find root in grounding in the mainstream conservative movement,” Ngo told Fox News. “Whereas Democrats really struggle with drawing the line on where they feel okay about far-left extremism. As of right now, I don't see them drawing the line anywhere.”

There are two contrasting narratives being painted about the realities of what is taking place in Portland and around the country, said Ngo.

“If you listen to the local press in Portland, the establishment media, they will talk about how things are peaceful everywhere else around outside of this area. If you follow my work and you see the videos I put up through myself or through tweets from others, that's absolutely not the case,” explained Ngo.

According to the Portland journalist, the notion that the riots and violence have stopped is a falsely painted picture by the ‘mainstream media.'

“Last night, there was a riot that was declared by the Portland police because rioters Antifa black bloc militants broke into the police union building and trashed the lobby. Fortunately, they were repelled before they were able to start a fire," Ngo told Fox News.

“There's a solution and you get on the path of working towards a solution by actually admitting there's a problem. And when one half of this country is not willing to admit that there is a problem, then you can't get on working towards even imagining what steps you can take to come up with solutions,” Ngo said. “Democrats have chosen really to stand in the way of what should be a nonpartisan condemnation of an anti-American, anti-government, violent extremist movement.”

Antifa is viewed by many as a loosely organized, unstructured movement. Despite statements from President Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr, U.S federal prosecutors have produced no evidence linking any of the dozens of people arrested in Portland to Antifa.

“We have not alleged defendant affiliation with any specific groups or ideologies in our cases stemming from recent Portland protests,” Kevin Sonoff, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Portland, told Reuters. “Our cases focus purely on the criminal conduct alleged.”

https://www.foxnews.com/media/democrats-refuse-condemn-antifa-andy-ngo?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1418800_

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Europe

 

Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism chief warns new attack on London is 'likely' after lockdown

Aug 07, 2020

Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism chief today urged Londoners to be on the alert for potential extremists as he warned a new attack on the capital is likely as the country emerges from lockdown.

Commander Richard Smith said counter-terrorism officers and MI5 are pursuing “800 different leads and investigations” into possible deadly plots and that the public’s help in providing further tip-offs was “vital” in preventing more killings.

He added there was a “real threat” that had “not gone away” during the pandemic and that the danger came from both lone jihadis and terrorists radicalised here, as well as others directed or inspired by Islamic State supporters overseas.

He said officers were also concerned about the risk of vulnerable people being radicalised online during the coronavirus lockdown, out of sight of teachers, health workers or others who might normally raise the alarm.

His comments follow the life sentence handed to 28-year-old Mohiussunnath Chowdhury at Woolwich crown court last month for plotting to attack last year’s Pride event in London and the jailing of Safiyya Shaikh, 37, for her plan to bomb St Paul’s Cathedral and a hotel this Easter.

He said officers were also concerned about the risk of vulnerable people being radicalised online during the coronavirus lockdown, out of sight of teachers, health workers or others who might normally raise the alarm.

His comments follow the life sentence handed to 28-year-old Mohiussunnath Chowdhury at Woolwich crown court last month for plotting to attack last year’s Pride event in London and the jailing of Safiyya Shaikh, 37, for her plan to bomb St Paul’s Cathedral and a hotel this Easter.

Chowdhury, who had boasted of “deceiving” a jury to acquit him over an earlier attack on soldiers outside Buckingham Palace, had tried to buy a gun to carry out his murderous intentions, while Shaikh, who was also jailed for life at the Old Bailey, had posted vile images online in a bid to inspire others to kill.

Commander Smith said the convictions of Chowdhury and Shaikh highlighted the continuing threat and that an attack on a crowded place or other London site was a risk as the lockdown restrictions are eased and numbers on the streets increase.

“Despite all the other changes we have seen, there is still a real threat. An attack is likely,” he told the Standard.

“We are following 800 different leads and investigations at present to keep people safe from terrorism and a very substantial proportion of those will have a London element.

"As we’ve seen with the attacks at Fishmongers’ Hall last November and again on Streatham High Road in February, London is and has been a target. Terrorists focus on the capital city for lots of obvious reasons.”

He added: “The public are very much our eyes and ears on this and so if they feel something is not right and are concerned, my message is always be vigilant and if you see something you are concerned about tell us.

"We will investigate because our aim is to keep people safe. We will continue to do that as thoroughly as we possibly can with our colleagues from MI5. The public are absolutely critical to our counter-terrorism effort. The information they give us is vital to preventing attacks in the capital.”

Commander Smith said police “attention is very much on the growth of the Right-wing” but that supporters of Islamic State, including those overseas, and al-Qaeda remained a potent danger.

On IS, he said: “There’s a very clear message — they remain a threat and that threat is not constrained to overseas.”

He went on: “In an increasingly connected world it’s more difficult to differentiate what is entirely domestic and what has an overseas element. There are some individuals who may be directed by terrorist organisations based abroad.

"But equally there will be individuals inspired by what they see online which is being posted either in this country or elsewhere, and people who will act entirely of their own accord as lone actors.”

He said an additional reason for today’s warning was a decline in lockdown of the number of alerts being received via the Government’s Prevent scheme for countering radicalisation.

He said this meant there was a risk some people had become radicalised out of sight. “We know terrorists and other radicalisers will always look for opportunities to exploit people and to spread their ideology. Lockdown may have provided more of those opportunities as other activities were more curtailed,” he said.

“Part of our concern is the number of people who have been locked down away from public services, away from people who might have identified behaviour of concern. All of those people will still have been able to access material online.

"As we saw with Safiyyah Shaikh’s sentencing recently not only was she planning an attack in this country but she was also posting some quite horrendous material online with the intent of radicalising others.”

As well as the foiled plots cited by Commander Smith, London has also suffered two attacks in the past nine months. The first was at Fishmongers’ Hall last November when freed terrorist convict Usman Khan, 28, killed two people with a knife before being shot dead.

The other was carried out in Streatham in February by 20-year-old Sudesh Amman, another released terror offender. He injured three before police shot him dead.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/terrorist-attack-london-likely-lockdown-scotland-yard-a4517156.html?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1418800_

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European politicians urge swift crackdown on Qatar’s funding of Hezbollah: Fox News

05 August 2020

European politicians are urging for an immediate crackdown on Qatar’s alleged support for terror finance and its funding of Hezbollah, according to a Fox News report after it obtained a damning dossier Qatari royalty proving weapons deliveries to Hezbollah.

“A private security contractor, Jason G., penetrated Qatar’s weapons procurement business as part of an apparent sting operation. He told Fox News on Tuesday that a “member of the royal family” allegedly authorized the delivery of military hardware to the US- and EU-designated terrorist entity Hezbollah in Lebanon,” said in its report.

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

The dossier in question provided to and verified by Fox News showed several documents proving a direct link to a member of the Qatar royal al-Thani family with weapons devilries to Hezbollah since as early as 2017.

Fox News’ report directly named Abdulrahman bin Mohammed Sulaiman al-Khulaifi, Qatar’s ambassador to Belgium and the NATO, as being involved in the terror financing accusations.

Al-Khulaifi reportedly propositioned “Jason G.,” the undercover security contractor, with 750,000 euros to distract from the Qatari role in funding and sending weapons to the Lebanese Shia terrorist group Hezbollah.

“[My goal was for] Qatar to stop funding extremists. [The] bad apples need to be taken out of the barrel and for [Qatar] to be part of the international community,” Jason G., using an alias to avoid retribution from Qatari authorities, was quoted by Fox News as saying.

Qatar is accused of financing terror groups by the Arab Quartet of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, who cut off diplomatic relations with Doha in 2017.

The latest report by Fox News corroborates an earlier report last week by Jerusalem Post in which al-Khulaifi allegedly offered a foreign consultant 750,000 euros ($879,805) to keep secret details that exposed Doha as funding Lebanon's Hezbollah.

Al Arabiya English previously reported the allegations, first made in German newspaper Die Zeit, but the Qatari diplomat was unnamed at the time.

The original report by German news outlet Die Zeit said the security consultant known as “Jason G.” has evidence that the Qatari government was aware of Qatari groups funding Hezbollah, which is designated as a terrorist organization by countries including the US and Germany.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2020/08/05/European-politicians-urge-swift-crackdown-on-Qatar-s-funding-of-Hezbollah-Fox-News.html

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Cyprus to boost defense ties with France in new deal amid Turkey tensions

06 August 2020

Cyprus on Thursday said it would work with France to procure and develop arms and jointly train military personnel as part of a defense cooperation agreement.

According to a statement, the 2017 agreement that came into force this month also aims to bolster security at sea and around offshore hydrocarbon drilling areas, improve crisis management and combat extremism and piracy.

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

The agreement “constitutes an important step forward in achieving the common goal of ensuring a environment of stability and security in the eastern Mediterranean,” the statement said.

The Cyprus government has licensed French energy company Total which, along with partner Eni of Italy, will carry out exploratory drilling in seven of 13 areas, or blocks, south of the ethnically divided island nation.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/08/06/Cyprus-to-boost-defense-ties-with-France-in-new-deal-amid-Turkey-tensions.html

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French President Macron’s visit touches a chord in shellshocked Beirut

August 07, 2020

BEIRUT: French President Emmanuel Macron stood among the ruins of Beirut's shattered port yesterday and issued a harsh warning to Lebanese political leaders, saying that aid would not be delivered to “corrupt hands.”

“Lebanon needs political change,” the French leader said during his one-day visit on Thursday, adding that he is “not here to support the regime or the government.”

Macron set the tone for his visit on his arrival at Beirut airport, saying that he would meet with Lebanese officials “only as a matter of courtesy” and adding that “Lebanon’s crisis is a moral and political one.”

Later he was mobbed by large crowds while touring the shattered streets near Beirut port, listening to the tearful complaints of people left homeless by the massive explosion two days ago that killed more than 150 people and injured more than 5,000.

People chanted and applauded as one woman cried in French: “Help us, Mr. President.”

A few young men said: “The people want to topple the regime,” while others said: “Down with Hezbollah.”

Confronted by a young woman who criticized him for meeting with corrupt officials, Macron pulled his face mask down and replied: “I can guarantee that this assistance will not be placed in the hands of the corrupt, and a free Lebanon will rise again.”

He held the hand of the woman who asked him for help.

Macron promised “unconditional” French assistance, but said: “We will organize international aid so that it directly reaches the Lebanese people under UN supervision. I am here to launch a new political initiative. I will propose a new political decade during my meetings and I will return on Sept. 1 to follow up on it.”

He added: “I understand the anger of Lebanon’s people toward the ruling class, and this anger is caused by corruption. This explosion is the result of neglect, and I will help you change things.”

As crowds pressed forward to voice their concerns, the French leader delayed his meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun for over 30 minutes.

A young man said after Macron left: “The French president checked on the Lebanese in the Francophone country — where are our officials? Why did they not come down here like the French president?”

Macron was the first foreign leader to arrive in Lebanon after Tuesday’s disaster.

Ignoring his bodyguards, Macron broke from his timetable to walk along the devastated streets and wave at people who stood in the remnants of their balconies to salute France.

The French president insisted on inspecting the area devastated by the explosion before taking part in any political meetings. On his arrival in the capital, he tweeted: “Lebanon is not alone.”

With the country facing economic meltdown, a currency crisis and now the threat of food shortages, the massive blast has left the Lebanese people stunned and even more fearful for the future.

Macron said that he carried a “frank and strict message” to the authorities amid Lebanon’s economic and financial crisis.

“If reforms are not carried out, Lebanon will continue to sink,” he said.

The French delegation accompanying Macron included seven explosives specialists. They were later joined by 17 experts searching for people missing after the explosion or buried under rubble.

While Macron inspected the damage at the port, an officer from the French rescue team said that “there is still hope for survivors to be found.

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Hassan Diab joined the meeting at the Baabda Palace, while Macron avoided shaking hands with any official.

After the meeting he told a joint press conference with Aoun: “We want to know the causes of the Beirut port explosion.”

A meeting at the Pine Residence, headquarters of the French ambassador to Lebanon, brought together political and party figures including loyalists and the opposition.

At the same time Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt called for “an international investigation committee” to investigate the explosion.

“We don’t believe in the government in any way; we do not trust it,” he said.

“There is a gross failure of the judiciary and the security services, and we have absolutely no confidence in this ruling gang.”

Jumblatt said that “without Arab and international support, we cannot continue as a country, and greater Lebanon will disappear.”

He also questioned the likely cause of the explosion, saying: “This huge amount of ammonium nitrate came to the port of Beirut and remained there for almost six years. It does not explode even if it is toxic or explosive by itself — it needs a detonator.”

He described Prime Minister Diab as “a wolf” and “nothing.”

As the site of the deadly blast was cordoned off by the Lebanese army, rescue teams continued to search for survivors or the dead.

According to Health Minister Hamad Hassan, 80 people are still missing.

On Wednesday night, 36 search and rescue experts, including firefighters accompanied by trained dogs, arrived from Czechia. Six bodies were recovered from inside the port and another three from the nearby ocean.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1715791/middle-east

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European body criticizes prison conditions in Turkey

August 06, 2020

ISTANBUL: Prison conditions and police brutality in Turkey have been criticized by the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT).

Overcrowding in prisons prompted the Turkish government to adopt an amnesty law in April that led to the release of 90,000 inmates — including mafia bosses — but not those convicted on terror charges.

However, the problem has persisted with a steady increase in the prison population, according to two CPT reports, released on Aug. 5.

The criticisms by the European body are based on its periodic visits to several prisons throughout the country and on interviews with hundreds of people who were held in police custody.

The European delegation examined several personal testimonies about excessive use of force and physical ill-treatment by gendarmerie officers and police forces during custody. Former detainees said that they were kicked, punched and slapped by police who wanted them to provide more information or give confessions.

“Numerous detained persons claimed to have been subjected to threats and/or severe verbal abuse. Moreover, a number of allegations were once again received about excessive use of force and/or physical ill-treatment by members of the mobile motorcycle intervention teams in Istanbul,” the report said.

“In a number of cases, the allegations of physical ill-treatment were supported by medical evidence, such as bodily injuries documented in medical records or directly observed by medical members of the delegation,” the report added.

The Council of Europe reiterated its call to the Turkish government to implement its “zero tolerance policy to the ill-treatment” and to alleviate concerns about legal restrictions on access to a lawyer during the initial phase of police custody for certain serious crimes.

Ozturk Turkdogan, president of the Human Rights Association (IHD), said that Turkey was also obliged to open its prisons to civil monitoring by Turkish-based human rights groups.

“So far, only CPT and the ministry are entitled to inspect the prisons’ physical conditions, undermining transparency and preventing immediate precautions during the pandemic conditions,” he told Arab News.

Another area of criticism is the flawed system of mandatory medical examinations for newly arrived prisoners, as well as the lack of beds for a large number of inmates in the prisons — obliging them to sleep on mattresses on the floor due to overcrowding.

Philanthropist, businessperson and human rights activist, Osman Kavala, recently marked his 1,000th day of imprisonment on July 27 although the Council of Europe has often called for his immediate release.

Last December, jailed Kurdish politician, Selahattin Demirtas, who has a history of coronary issues, was taken to hospital for health checks after collapsing in his prison cell. Family members claimed that the authorities refused to carry out full checks and detailed examinations for emergency treatment.

According to Turkdogan, prisons are still overpopulated as their capacity even with the planned construction of new facilities is only suitable to accommodate 165,000 inmates, while the current prison population is about 200,000.

“Those convicted for expressing their opinions, as well as juvenile inmates and thousands of children who stay with their mothers in the prison, should be released at first instance to alleviate this overpopulation problem. About 600 inmates who have serious illnesses should also be released,” he said.

Turkdogan said that allegations of torture should be investigated, and naked screening for inmates as well as handcuffed health monitoring practices should be stopped to protect the dignity of prisoners.

Some inmates, such as Demirtas who is in northwestern Edirne prison 1,600 km from his southeastern hometown Diyarbakir, are kept far from their families. Turkdogan said that this was also a violation of rights.

“They need to keep their contacts with their families. But when you put an inmate in a city situated miles away from the place of residence or from the city where the crime is committed, it complicates the lives of the relatives as well,” he said.

On the basis of photos, videos and legal and medical documents about the incidents examined, Human Rights Watch also released a report last week claiming that “Turkish police and “night watchmen” have committed serious abuses against at least 14 people in six incidents in Diyarbakir and Istanbul in the past two months.

Politicians from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have regularly submitted written parliamentary questions regarding torture or ill-treatment in Turkey, but the questions mostly remain unanswered by the interior and justice ministries.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1715676/middle-east

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India

 

Secretary Jilani withdraws AIMPLB's 'irresponsibly worded' statement on Ayodhya

Nelanshu Shukla

Lucknow

August 6, 2020

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has withdrawn its controversial statement over the Ram temple bhoomi pujan in Ayodhya. In its statement posted on Twitter, the body had cited the example of Hagia Sofia in Turkey while slamming the SC verdict in the Ram Janmanbhoomi land dispute case.

A complaint against the AIMPLB and AIMIM convener Asaduddin Owaisi who made similar statements on Twitter was sent to Delhi Police Commissioner SN Shrivastava by the Hindu Sena.

The AIMPLB has now issued a fresh response to recent developments. In its post in Urdu on Twitter, AIMPLB secretary Zafaryab Jilani claimed on Thursday that the earlier statement was posted without the approval of the body's general secretary and has now been deleted.

"Some words in the statement may have been written irresponsibly but I have nothing to do with it. I would not like to comment much about the tweet," Zafaryab Jilani added.

Secretary of the AIMPLB, Jilani went on to say, "We respect the SC verdict but our review petition challenging the decision was not heard which is unfortunate. However, we will continue to raise this issue. We condemn the statement made by PM Modi and UP CM Yogi Adityanath that the temple existed at the site for centuries."

AIMIM convener and Lok Sabha MP from Hyderabad Asaduddin Owaisi had also criticised the Prime Minister for attending the bhoomi pujan of the proposed Ram temple in Ayodhya. In a tweet on Wednesday, Owaisi had said, "#BabriMasjid thi, hai aur rahegi inshallah #BabriZindaHai"

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/all-india-muslim-personal-law-board-aimplb-ayodhya-ram-janmabhoomi-temple-bhumi-pujan-owaisi-zafaryab-jilani-pm-modi-statement-1708494-2020-08-06

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Wooing Muslim vote-bank? Bihar CM Nitish Kumar stays silent on Ram temple bhoomi pujan

Rohit Kumar Singh

New Delhi

August 6, 2020

The day Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Ayodhya for the groundbreaking ceremony of the upcoming Ram temple, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was touring the flood-affected areas of the state.

Incidentally, at the time when Prime Minister Modi was laying the foundation for the Ram temple, Nitish Kumar, unlike most of the top leaders across the country, chose not to witness the historical moment on television and rather decided to make a visit to flood-affected areas of Darbhanga, where several thousand people have been displaced.

Nitish Kumar's indifference towards this historical moment very close to the heart of the BJP has raised questions as to what is going on in his mind.

Though Nitish Kumar's party, JDU, enthusiastically welcomed the groundbreaking ceremony of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, Bihar chief minister chose to remain silent on every platform. Neither did he speak to the media in Darbhanga nor took to social media to post any comment.

Nitish Kumar's close aide and water resources minister Sanjay Jha took to Twitter to welcome the beginning of the construction of the Ram temple.

"We believe that the Ram temple which is going to be built after a long dispute in Ayodhya will be a powerful medium to enrich the goodwill of peace and harmony and inspire the people towards the ideals of Ramkatha," Sanjay Jha tweeted.

Ahead of the seat-sharing talks between NDA partners, BJP, through Lok Janshakti party (LJP), is trying to demoralise Nitish Kumar over the issue of mishandling of the Covid-19 crisis, floods and the worsening law and order situation in the state.

Chirag Paswan has shot several letters to Nitish Kumar raising Bihar government's mishandling of pandemic and floods. He has also raised the issue of migrant workers who returned to the state during the lockdown.

According to Kaukab Qadri, working president of Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee, relations between Nitish Kumar's JDU and BJP is very fluid at the moment.

Bihar Congress believes, amidst the fluid situation in NDA, whether Nitish Kumar and BJP will contest elections together is also questionable.

In such a scenario, Nitish Kumar is also keeping an eye on his Muslim vote bank, which between 2005 and 2015, backed him solidly to the extent that they even dumped RJD chief Lalu Prasad.

Muslims, EBC and OBC's are considered to be the prime vote bank of Nitish Kumar's party. However, Muslim swayed away to Lalu Prasad once again in 2015 assembly elections despite Nitish Kumar's severing ties with BJP in 2013.

Interestingly, Bihar chief minister has refrained from commenting on recent developments like the abolition of triple talaq and repealing Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir. On the issue of NRC, which is being propagated as being an anti-Muslim step, Nitish Kumar has categorically said that it will not be implemented in the state.

"Nitish Kumar does not want to give a wrong message to a particular vote bank by welcoming the construction of Ram temple. If Nitish Kumar once again distances himself from BJP, he will be left with vote bank of OBC, EBC and Muslims. Nitish Kumar is adopting a soft approach towards Muslim," Kaukab Qadari, working president of Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee said.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/bihar-cm-nitish-kumar-stays-silent-on-ram-temple-bhoomi-pujan-1708543-2020-08-06

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Pakistan

 

HRW urges govt to stop using NAB to detain critics

07 Aug 2020

KARACHI: A well-known international humanitarian organisation on Thursday urged the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government to “stop using the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to detain its critics” and said the country’s parliament should carry out reforms to make the anti-graft body independent.

In a media statement, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the authorities should investigate and prosecute the NAB officials responsible for unlawful arrests and other abuses.

The statement issued by the HRW’s director for Asia, Brad Adams, said: “Pakistani authorities should stop using a dictatorship-era body, possessing draconian and arbitrary powers, to intimidate and harass opponents.”

The HRW pointed out that on July 20 the Supreme Court in its 87-page decision in the case involving bail applications of two Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leaders — Khawaja Saad Rafique and Khawaja Salman Rafique — “ruled that NAB had violated the rights to fair trial and due process in the arrest of (the) two opposition politicians… whom the NAB detained for 15 months without reasonable grounds”.

Calls for reforms to make anti-graft body independent

The court granted the men bail and criticised NAB for showing “utter disregard to the law, fair play, equity and propriety”, ruling that the “case was a classic example of trampling of fundamental rights [and] unlawful deprivation of freedom”, said the HRW.

“The Pakistani Supreme Court judgement is just the latest indictment of the NAB’s unlawful behaviour,” it said.

The apex court cited a February report by the European Commission that criticised NAB for bias, noting that “very few cases of the ruling party ministers and politicians have been pursued since the 2018 elections, which is considered to be a reflection of NAB’s partiality”.

The New York-based organisation said the Supreme Court Bar Association and the Pakistan Bar Council, the top elected bodies of lawyers in the country, welcomed the apex court’s decision and criticised NAB as “a tool for arm-twisting of political opponents”.

In February, both bodies said they “strongly con-demn” the summons issued to an opposition leader, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, calling it an “act of political victimisation”.

In March, the chief justice of the Islamabad High Court ruled that NAB had made arbitrary use of its arrest powers, said the HRW.

Turning to the detention of owner of daily Jang and Geo TV, the HRW statement pointed out that Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman was held on March 12 on “charges relating to a 34-year-old property transaction. He has remained in the agency’s custody ever since.

“In another example of harassment, the NAB court summoned the former president and opposition leader Asif Ali Zardari to appear in person to record a statement, denying his request to record a statement through a video link because of his ill-health and Covid-19.”

The HRW also recalled that a professor at the University of Sargodha, Mian Javed Ahmed, actually died in NAB custody in late 2018. “Dr Mujahid Kamran, the former vice-chancellor of the Punjab University, who was arrested by the NAB on allegations of illegal appointments at the university, described NAB detention centers as ‘torture cells’.”

The HRW statement concluded by urging the PTI government to take corrective measures. “Pakistani authorities should uphold the government’s human rights obligations. Pakistan’s parliament should amend or repeal the NAB ordinance to ensure that the principles of fair trial, due process, and transparency are not compromised on the pretext of accountability.”

https://www.dawn.com/news/1573061/hrw-urges-govt-to-stop-using-nab-to-detain-critics

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FO defends Qureshi’s remarks on Saudi-led OIC over Kashmir

Iftikhar A. Khan

07 Aug 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Thursday defended the ‘controversial’ remarks of the foreign minister about Saudi Arabia-led Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), saying his statement was a reflection of people’s aspirations and expectations from the OIC to raise the Kashmir issue internationally.

Speaking at a weekly press briefing, the outgoing Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said the people of Pakistan had more expectations from the OIC and would like it to play a leading role in raising the Kashmir issue internationally. “In this regard, our efforts will continue and we hope there will be further forward movement,” she added.

Ms Farooqui said Pakistan was a founding member of the OIC and had longstanding fraternal and cooperative relations with OIC member states.

She said Kashmir and Palestine were two key issues on the agenda of the OIC since its inception. “The OIC has consistently supported Pakistan on Jammu and Kashmir dispute. The OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir established in 1994 is a manifestation of this consistent support and has actively contributed to the advancement of the Kashmir cause.

Since August 5, 2019, Pakistan has closely worked with the OIC secretary general and other brotherly countries of the OIC. Three meetings of the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir have been convened during the last one year, two of which were at ministerial level, and they issued strong communiqués deploring grave violations of human rights in India-held Jammu and Kashmir, demanding India rescind its illegal and unilateral actions of August 5, 2019, and calling for resolution of Kashmir dispute in accordance with the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions.

PML-N accuses govt of ‘playing with’ country’s vital interests

About Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia, Ms Farooqui said the two countries had strong historic and fraternal relations. “The people of Pakistan have deep respect for the custodian of the two holy mosques. Pakistan remains deeply committed to sovereignty and territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia. The landmark visit of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman in February 2019 further cemented our close brotherly relations and charted new avenues of cooperation in trade, investment and other fields,” she said.

In reply to a question, she said that Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s remarks that Pakistan expected a meeting of OIC Council of Foreign Ministers and if it was not convened, he would be compelled to ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to call a meeting of the OIC countries that were ready to stand with Pakistan on Kashmir issue were not against diplomatic norms.

She was also asked to explain possible impact of the remarks on Pakistan’s relationship with Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.

Another questioner referred to the FM’s remarks that Pakistan would move forward with or without Saudi Arabia on Kashmir issue and asked if it was a political statement or the official position. The spok­es­person replied that Pakistan and its people had more expectations from the OIC than from any other international organisation because of deep-rooted and fraternal ties with OIC member states and the OIC itself.

Answering a question about the Islamabad High Court’s directive to the federal government to give another chance to India and its spy Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav to appoint a counsel for his case, she said the Indian side had been contacted through diplomatic channels and conveyed the same. However, a response is still awaited.

Answering a question about the release of new political map of Pakistan, she made it clear that it was not in contradiction with Pakistan’s stated policy.

“This is a political map as opposed to the administrative map that we are more familiar with. There was a need for the political map which has been fulfilled on August 4. Pakistan’s stance on Jammu and Kashmir is anchored in the UN Security Council resolutions under which we await final settlement of this dispute in accordance with UNSC resolutions and the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. There is no change in our principled position”.

On August 4, she said, Pakistan issued a political map depicting its long standing and consistent position on Jammu and Kashmir, anchored in the UNSC resolutions and stipulating that the accession of the state would be through a UN-supervised plebiscite. “Pakistan’s political map firmly rejects the political map issued by India after August 5, 2019, making false territorial claims, including on Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan.”

The FO spokesperson categorically rejected the statement made by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs on Pakistan’s political map. “India cannot create a smokescreen for its illegal and unacceptable actions in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, including those taken since August 5, 2019. It is preposterous for a country that is compulsively expansionist, and a brazen practitioner of state-terrorism, to level charges against others,” she said.

She said the fact that on three occasions in one year the Kashmir issue had been discussed in the Security Council negated the failed Indian assertions that it was only a bilateral issue.

“Voices in support of the Kashmiri people were raised across the globe marking one year of the illegal action by India and continued brutalisation and disenfranchisement of the Kashmiri people,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has denounced what it called ‘irresponsible’ remarks by the foreign minister about brotherly country Saudi Arabia.

In a statement issued after a joint parliamentary party meeting of the PML-N with its president Shahbaz Sharif in the chair, the party’s secretary general Ahsan Iqbal said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had historic and strategic relations and Saudi Arabia had always stood by Pakistan in testing times. He said the irresponsible statement about a friendly country was worst kind of diplomacy. He accused the government of “playing with” vital interests of the country.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1573054/fo-defends-qureshis-remarks-on-saudi-led-oic-over-kashmir

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Parliament rejects changing of Kashmir’s special status

07 Aug 2020

ISLAMABAD: As a joint sitting of parliament in a unanimous resolution on Thursday reiterated its complete rejection of India’s illegal and unilateral action of changing the special status of occupied Kashmir on Aug 5 last year, Prime Minister Imran Khan lauded the UN Security Council for its latest meeting on the disputed matter.

In a series of tweets, Mr Khan said: “I welcome the UNSC for again taking up the Jammu & Kashmir dispute, which has been on its agenda for over 70 yrs. The UNSC, under the UN Charter, not only has the responsibility for maintaining international peace & security but also of ensuring implementation of its resolutions.

“We thank the Council members who expressed concern over the deteriorating human rights & humanitarian situation in IIOJK, advised against escalation of tensions, underscored the need for respecting international law & called for a peaceful resolution of the dispute.

“Pakistan’s position remains clear & unambiguous. The J&K dispute must be resolved in accordance with the relevant UNSC resolutions granting Kashmiri people the right of self-determination under a free & fair plebiscite.

“Pakistan will continue to extend all possible support to the Kashmiri people until they secure this inalienable right.”

Imran welcomes UNSC meeting on dispute

The parliament condemned continued human rights violations by India aimed at perpetuating its inhumane occupation of Jammu and Kashmir.

It emphasised that the illegal Indian action was a blatant violation of the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, bilateral agreements and the precepts of international law.

The parliament denounced the Bharatiya Janata Party’s government for taking advantage of the world’s preoccupation with the Covid-19 pandemic to introduce new domicile rules in occupied Kashmir in an attempt to illegally change the demographic structure of the region to advance its Hindutva agenda.

It declared that the illegal steps to turn the Muslims into a minority in India’s only Muslim-majority area were in clear violation of the UN resolutions, bilateral agreements and international law, including the 4th Geneva Convention.

The parliament condemned extra-judicial killings of the Kashmiri youths in fake encounters and cordon-and-search operations as well as arbitrary arrests and detentions of senior Kashmiri leaders and activists.

It also condemned the refusal by India to hand over mortal remains of the martyrs to their families for burial, and burning and looting of houses of Kashmiris to inflict collective punishment on the communities and neighbourhoods.

The parliament deplored that the Indian occupation forces had partially or completely blinded more than 11,000 Kashmiri civilians, including women and children, through the deliberate use of pellet guns.

It denounced that to divert attention from grave human rights violations in occupied Kashmir, the Indian occupation forces had been continuously targeting civilian populated areas along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary with artillery fire, high-calibre mortars and automatic weapons, committing more than 1,800 ceasefire violations this year alone that resulted in 14 martyrdoms and serious injuries to 138 innocent civilians.

The parliament appreciated strong statements from world leaders of support on the Kashmir dispute and for seeking its resolution in accordance with the UN resolutions.

It underscored that Jammu and Kashmir was an internationally recognised dispute and the longest outstanding item on the agenda of the UN Security Council and categorically stated that the “illegal Indian steps do not and cannot alter its disputed status”.

It commended the three discussions on the Kashmir dispute in the Security Council after a gap of more than 55 years; the two reports on the issue by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; and the consistent support of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

It reaffirmed the firm resolve of the people and the armed forces of Pakistan to thwart any act of aggression resolutely and effectively.

The parliament called upon the international community to use all tools at its disposal to hold India accountable for its illegal and unilateral actions and human rights violations against the Kashmiri people and force it to allow international media, humanitarian organisations and independent observers to visit occupied Kashmir to independently verify reports of abuse, violations and use of excessive force.

It urged the UN Human Rights Council to constitute a commission of inquiry to investigate gross and consistent human rights violations in occupied Kashmir.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1573008/parliament-rejects-changing-of-kashmirs-special-status

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Parliament okays another FATF-related law

Amir Wasim

07 Aug 2020

ISLAMABAD: After hectic two-day consultations with the country’s two major opposition parties, the coalition government led by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Thursday finally managed to get the third FATF-related bill — for exchange of information and criminals with countries — passed in the joint sitting of parliament after agreeing to include more than two dozen opposition-proposed amendments with a majority vote amidst noisy protest by the religious and nationalist parties.

The talks between the government and the leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on the 28-clause Mutual Legal Assistance (Criminal Matter) Bill, 2020, the third one to meet some of the conditions of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) against terrorism, which started on Wednesday evening, continued almost throughout the night and lasted till a delayed start of the joint sitting on Thursday evening, finally became successful when the government presented a set of amendments to the opposition containing their proposed changes, including a number of steps to prevent possible misuse of the law and to ensure parliamentary oversight over its implementation.

The bill was passed in the presence of Opposition Leader and PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari after unanimous passage of the resolution on Kashmir which was read out by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

Mr Sharif attended the session after a gap of 10 months as he last attended the sitting on September 30 before leaving for London with his ailing brother and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in November and then confining himself to Lahore due to illness after returning home in March.

Mutual Legal Assistance Bill passed after govt incorporated over two dozen amendments proposed by opposition

After passage of the bill, the house witnessed rumpus when first Foreign Minister Qureshi responded to the speech of Mr Sharif and then Communications Minister Murad Saeed was given the floor by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, who presided over the sitting after Maghreb prayers, to give a reply to Mr Bhutto-Zardari’s speech.

The opposition members interrupted Mr Saeed many times through noisy protests, prompting a similar response from the treasury benches who also raised slogans against the opposition. The communications minister refused to budge to the opposition’s protest and said he would not allow any other person to speak, if he was not given an opportunity to complete his speech.

The minister took both the opposition parties to task, claiming that the opposition was mostly concerned over inclusion of “corruption” and “money laundering” in the list of the crimes mentioned in the passed bill.

The Senate chairman who had earlier stated that he would also give floor to leaders of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) after Mr Saeed’s speech, however, abruptly prorogued the session when both the treasury and the opposition members refused to follow his directives regarding maintaining a decorum in the house.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari in his speech said the original draft of the government bill was against the fundamental rights of the citizens, claiming that the opposition had successfully prevented the government from imposing a “black law” in the garb of FATF conditions. He said the opposition would support the legislations required to meet the conditions of FATF, but it would not allow the regime to do more than that.

Lashing out at the government, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said despite passage of FATF-related legislations, Pakistan would not come out of the grey list till the time the prime minister (Imran Khan) would continue to call Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden a “martyr” and would not respond to the question about the escape of former spokesman for Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Ehsanullah Ehsan. He also accused the government of selling off Kashmir. He also criticised the prime minister for not attending the joint sitting.

Mr Sharif in his speech only talked about the Kashmir issue and regretted that Islamic countries were not supporting the Kashmir cause which was “disappointing”. He also criticised the government for not taking “practical steps” to help the Kashmiris.

As soon as Interior Minister retired Brig Ijaz Shah moved the motion to take up the bill for consideration, members belonging to MMA, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), National Party and independent members from the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas stood up and started raising slogans against the bill.

PPP’s Agha Rafiullah and PML-N’s Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha on behalf of their respective parties withdrew their amendments, saying that they were withdrawing them as the government had accepted “more than 80 per cent” of their proposals.

The amendments, which were later read out by Law Minister Farogh Naseem, could not be heard in the press gallery due to the noisy protest and on many occasions, Speaker Asad Qaiser did not allow the minister to read out the whole text, declaring that the amendments “should be taken as read”.

The government had managed to get the bill passed from the National Assembly on Jan 6 after overcoming the customary resistance by the opposition parties, but did not bring it to the Senate fearing a defeat as the opposition is in a majority in the upper house of parliament.

The opposition had termed the bill against the fundamental rights of people, claiming that after its passage the government would be able to seek information from foreign countries and extradite its own citizens on the demand of other countries even without signing a treaty.

It had objected to “unfettered powers” given to the interior secretary as “the central authority” to seek information about foreign bank accounts and transactions made by any citizen. It had also objected to a clause in the bill which allowed the government to hand over individuals to countries even without demand.

An amended clause of the bill says, “The central authority means the office of the secretary to the Ministry of Interior ....... the powers of such office shall be exercised by an executive committee”, comprising the interior secretary, the secretary to the law and justice ministry, the foreign affairs secretary and the home secretaries of all the four provinces, with interior secretary as its convener.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1573051/parliament-okays-another-fatf-related-law

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                TikTok upgrades guidelines, releases Urdu version

Kalbe Ali

07 Aug 2020

ISLAMABAD: After warnings and negotiations with the telecom regulator, global short funny video platform TikTok has not only upgraded its ‘Community Guidelines’, but also released its Urdu language version for the first time.

The upgraded Community Guidelines provide general guidance on “what is and what is not” allowed on the platform to keep TikTok a safe place for creativity and joy. The platform is now localised and will work in accordance with local laws and norms.

TikTok has taken measures for making its teams able to remove content that violates the Community Guidelines and suspend or ban accounts involved in severe or repeated violations.

Besides, TikTok has an in-app reporting feature for users to flag potentially inappropriate content or accounts to the management of the platform.

Global video platform assures PTA local laws and norms will be implemented

TikTok has recently released its Transparency Report highlighting the volume of videos which have been removed from the platform for violating its Community Guidelines or Terms of Service. Pakistan had the third highest number of removed videos.

This demonstrates TikTok’s commitm­e­­nt to removing any potentially harmful or in­­appropriate content reported in Pakistan. The content moderation is performed by deploying a combination of policies, technologies and moderation strategies to detect and review problematic content and accounts and implement appropriate penalties.

After receiving complaints that the funny videos being uploaded at TikTok are immoral, obscene and vulgar and even hurt sentiments of respectable citizens, the Pakistan Telecommunication Aut­ho­r­ity issued a warning to it on July 20.

The PTA warning to TikTok said that the free for policy of the social media platform was having an “extremely negative effects on society in general and youth in particular”.

The PTA had told TikTok to moderate socialisation and content within legal and moral limits and in accordance with the country’s laws. A warning was issued to TikTok that it could be banned in Pakistan.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1573060/tiktok-upgrades-guidelines-releases-urdu-version

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Pakistan once again asks India to appoint lawyer for Kulbhushan Jadhav

07 Aug 2020

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office (FO) Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui on Thursday said that Pakistan has once again contacted the Indian government over the matter of appointing a legal representative for spy and agent of intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Kulbhushan Jadhav.

During the new briefing, the FO spokesperson said that the move came under the light of Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) directives. We are waiting for the response of Indian authorities on this matter, she said.

Earlier, IHC had directed the government to recontact India for the appointment of legal representative for Jadhav. IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah had asked the attorney general to brief the court about the history of the case.

“We want to make the Indian government and Jadhav part of the case, and hence, the federation assured to approach the neighbouring country through the foreign office for the hiring of a lawyer for the spy,” the IHC CJ had said.

Earlier on July 22, 2020, the government had moved the court stating that Jadhav, who was involved in several terrorist activities in Pakistan, had refused to file a plea against his sentence. The agent cannot appoint a lawyer in Pakistan without assistance from India, it had read.

On July 2, Pakistan had decided to grant third consular access to Jadhav following his refusal to file a review petition against his sentence.

On July 16, Indian charge d’affaires had reached the FO as New Delhi had accepted Pakistan’s offer to give second consular access to Jadhav. The place where the agent was kept had been declared as sub-jail.

Aisha said that on September 2, 2019, Pakistan had provided the first consular access to Jadhav under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963. She said that the mother and wife of Commander Jadhav were also allowed to meet him on December 25, 2017.

She also said that Pakistan provided two consular officers of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad unimpeded and uninterrupted consular access to Indian Commander Jadhav.

On July 17, 2019, ICJ had rejected remedies sought by India, including annulment of military court decision convicting Jadhav, his release and safe passage to India.

Announcing the verdict, Judge Abdulqavi Ahmed Yousaf had asked Pakistan to review the death sentence for an alleged Indian spy, saying Islamabad had violated his rights to consular visits.

The ICJ had found that Pakistan deprived India of the right to communicate with and have access to Jadhav, to visit him in detention and to arrange for his legal representation, and thereby breached obligations incumbent upon it under Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

The tribunal in The Hague had ordered an “effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav.”

The judge had remarked that Pakistan and India are signatories of the Vienna Convention. “A continued stay of execution constitutes an indispensable condition for the effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Mr Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav,” it had ruled.

While finding Jadhav guilty of committing terrorist activities inside Pakistan, the court had ordered that the Indian spy cannot be handed over to India. Jadhav will remain in Pakistan’s custody, it had ruled.

Pakistani team headed by the attorney general was present in the courtroom. The team also included then FO spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal.

The government arrested Jadhav alias Hussein Mubarak Patel in the province of Balochistan on charges of terrorism and spying for India’s RAW.

The government had stated that he was a serving commander in the Indian Navy who was involved in subversive activities inside Pakistan and was arrested on March 3, 2016, during a counter-intelligence operation in Mashkel, Balochistan. The Indian government had recognised Jadhav as a former naval officer but denied any current links with him and maintained that he took premature retirement and was abducted from Iran.

On March 25, 2016, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) had released the confessional statement of Jadhav where he claimed to be a serving Indian Navy officer.

“By 2002, I commenced intelligence operations. In 2003, I established a small business in Chabahar in Iran,” he had admitted. “As I was able to achieve undetected existence and visits to Karachi in 2003 and 2004. Having done some basic assignments within India for RAW, I was picked up by RAW in 2013 end.”

He had said that his purpose was to meet Baloch insurgents and carry out “activities with their collaboration.”

On April 8, 2017, ISPR had lodged a first information report (FIR) against him whereas on April 11, 2017, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa had confirmed the death sentence of Jadhav who was tried through Field General Court Martial (FGCM) under Pakistan Army Act (PAA). He was tried under section 59 of the Pakistan Army Act (PAA) 1952 and Section III of the official Secret Act of 1923.

FGCM had found Jadhav guilty of all the charges. He had confessed before a magistrate and the court that he was tasked by RAW to plan, coordinate and organise espionage and sabotage activities aiming to destabilise and wage war against Pakistan by impeding the efforts of law enforcement agencies (LEAs) for restoring peace in Balochistan and Karachi.

On May 8, 2017, India had approached the ICJ against Pakistan for denying consular access to Jadhav.

On May 18, 2017, the ICJ had stayed the execution pending the final judgment on the case, and even on July 13, 2018, ICJ stayed Jadhav’s execution in Pakistan.

On June 22, 2017, Jadhav gave a second confessional statement where he confessed to carrying out subversive activities in Balochistan.

On Feb 22, 2019, ICJ had reserved its judgment in Jadhav case whereas they ruled the verdict on July 17, 2019.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/08/06/pakistan-once-again-asks-india-to-appoint-lawyer-for-kulbhushan-jadhav/

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South Asia

 

Nikpa, the first winner of Olympics medal for Afghanistan to be featured in Hollywood movie

07 Aug 2020

The Hollywood film industry is going to feature the life story of Rohullah Nikpa, the first winner of Olympics medal for Afghanistan in a movie.

Eddie Arya, a Sydney-based renowned filmmaker has expressed his desire to produce a film on Nikpai which would be his fourth movie.

Eddie looks at Rohullah as an inspiring Afghan to many. According to Eddie, he will shoot the movie in Sydney, US, India and Afghanistan.

To make this movie, Eddie is willing to first learn Taekwondo and spend time with Rohullah’s trainers to get a feel of the struggle which Nikpai faced during his early life.

Eddie is confident that the life story of Nikpai will immensely inspire the Afghan youths.

Rohullah Bikpa won a bronze medal in the Summer Olympics held in 2012 which made him a national hero.

https://www.khaama.com/nikpa-the-first-winner-of-olympics-medal-for-afghanistan-to-be-featured-in-hollywood-movie-798796/

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Pompeo reacts to holding of Loya Jirga to discuss peace process in Afghanistan

07 Aug 2020

The Secretary of the United States reacted to the holding of National Grand Assembly (Loya Jirga) to discuss the peace process in Afghanistan.

“I commend the participants of the Loya Jirga as they gather to consolidate national support for peace in Afghanistan. After 40 years of war, bloodshed, and destruction, the parties are ready to embark on a political process to reach a negotiated settlement,” Pompeo said in a Twitter post.

The 4th consultative Loya Jirga (National Grand Assembly) kicked off in Kabul earlier today to discuss the prospects for peace in the country, mainly focusing on the release of 400 Taliban prisoners who are deemed as dangerous inmates.

Sources privy of the development are saying that Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the Chief Executive of the HIgh Peace Council for Peace has been proposed to head the Grand Assembly.

The source further added that Abdullah has accepted the offer to lead the National Grand Assembly.

https://www.khaama.com/pompeo-reacts-to-holding-of-loya-jirga-to-discuss-peace-process-in-afghanistan-09007/

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Afghan forces arrest top ISIS leader in Kunar province of Afghanistan

05 Aug 2020

The Afghan Special Forces arrested a top commander of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Khurasan (ISIS-K), the offshoot of the terror group, in Afghanistan.

Sources in the Afghan military confirmed that the Afghan Special Forces arrested the ISIS-K leader during a raid in eastern Kunar provice.

Without disclosing further information regarding the identity of the detained ISIS leader, the sources said the arrested ISIS leader was involved in transferring foreign ISIS militants in various provinces of the country.

The sources further added that the apprehended ISIS leader was also transferring the families of ISIS fighters to different parts of the country.

The ISIS Khurasan terror group has not commented in this regard so far.

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-forces-arrest-top-isis-leader-in-kunar-province-of-afghanistan-09001/

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Ten Taliban insurgents clash with Afghan troops after ceasefire ends

06 August 2020

Ten insurgents were killed in clashes between Afghan forces and the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan, officials said Thursday, the first time authorities have confirmed direct fighting since a recent ceasefire expired.

According to defense ministry spokesman Fawad Aman, two clashes broke out Wednesday in the eastern province of Ghazni.

For more coronavirus news, visit our dedicated page.

Aman told AFP that 10 Taliban insurgents had been killed.

“Their attacks were repelled and they suffered casualties,” Aman said.

Waheedullah Jumazada, spokesman for the Ghazni provincial governor, confirmed the two clashes.

In one attack near Ghazni city, Afghan forces called in an air strike when Taliban fighters raided an army base housing about 300 government troops.

The Taliban and government forces agreed a three-day truce to mark the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha which started last Friday.

The truce came ahead of expected peace talks between the Taliban and Kabul aimed at ending the 19-year-old conflict that has ravaged the country.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/08/06/Ten-Taliban-insurgents-clash-with-Afghan-troops-after-ceasefire-ends.html

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At Least 11 Killed In Roadside Bombing In Northern Afghanistan

August 05, 2020

An Afghan official says at least 11 people have been killed in a roadside bombing in the country's north.

Ahmad Javid Besharat, the spokesman for the police of Baghlan Province, said the bomb struck a vehicle carrying the bodyguards and family members of a former provincial official.

Mahbubullah Ghafari, a former member of the provincial council, was unhurt in the blast.

Besharat said Ghafari was on his way from the provincial capital, Pul-e Khumri, to the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif when the bomb struck one of his vehicles.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, although similar incidents in the past have been blamed on the Taliban.

The Taliban has intensified attacks across the country, particularly in the north, where Afghan forces are more exposed.

Last month, Taliban fighters stormed the offices of Afghanistan’s main intelligence agency in the northern province of Samangan, killing 11 security personnel and wounding dozens of others, mostly civilians.

The Taliban continues to stage regular attacks across Afghanistan despite signing an initial peace deal with the United States in February.

https://www.rferl.org/a/nearly-dozen-killed-in-roadside-bombing-in-northern-afghanistan/30768257.html?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1418800_

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Southeast Asia

 

China: We don’t agree with US in pushing for extension of Iran arms embargo

06 August 2020

China expresses its unequivocal opposition to the United States’ illegal underway bid to prevent removal of an anti-Iran arms embargo that is slated to expire in October in line with a UN Security Council resolution.

“We don’t agree with the US in pushing for the extension of the arms embargo against Iran in the Security Council,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told Russia’s Ria Novosti news agency on Thursday.

“All the provisions of Resolution 2231, including the relevant arrangements with regard to arms embargo, should be implemented in earnest,” he added.

The US started violating the resolution in 2018 by leaving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers-- including China -- that the resolution has endorsed.

It then aggravated its assault on the Security Council ratification by returning the sanctions that the JCPOA had lifted, and threatening other countries against upholding their duties under the historic accord.

Now, Washington is trying to take yet another step against the resolution by forcing the Council to extend the embargo on sales of conventional weapons to Iran that will expire on October 18 under the JCPOA.

The Chinese official was reminded of recent remarks by Mike Pompeo, in which the US secretary of state had said Washington would present a resolution on potential extension of the arms ban to the Security Council next week.

Wang was also sounded out about a threat issued by Washington that it would try and force a “snapback” of all UN sanctions against Tehran if its attempts at prolonging the arms ban failed to produce result.

The spokesperson said in response that “China firmly upholds the authority of the Security Council resolution and the efficacy of the JCPOA."

“China will continue to work with relevant parties and the international community to maintain the JCPOA and [the] Security Council resolution, uphold multilateralism and promote the political and diplomatic resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue,” he added.

His remarks came amid strong indications that China and Russia, another JCPOA party, which likewise roundly rejects the US’ attempts to undermine the deal, will veto Washington’s resolution targeting the arms embargo.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/08/06/631243/Iran-China-United-States-arms-embargo-nuclear-deal

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Perlis tells Muslims to perform Friday prayers at home as Covid-19 menaces region anew

07 Aug 2020

BY JUSTIN ONG

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 7 — The Perlis government issued a directive today for Muslims in the state to perform Zohor prayers at home in place of the mandatory Friday congregational prayers, citing renewed concerns over Covid-19 in the north of the peninsula.

The Perlis Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council (MAIPs) said the directive was based on the decree from the Raja of Perlis.

The council also restricted activities at 12 mosques and prayers halls in the Senglong, Simpang Ampat, and Guar Sanji areas, reintroducing the four-person limits that were imposed at the height of the movement control order (MCO).

Mosques and prayer halls in the areas have also been instructed to replace the call to prayer in their azan with a message telling Muslims to instead pray at home.

Perlis was the first state to take such steps even before the country entered an unprecedented nationwide lockdown in March to try and contain the spread of Covid-19.

After months of restrictions, the country had appeared to be on the path to recovery.

However, a new Covid-19 cluster has emerged in Kedah that neighbours Perlis, caused by a permanent-resident restaurant operator who ignored his mandatory home quarantine despite exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms.

The cluster was named the Sivagangga cluster and has already been responsible for 30 infections that were at least two generations deep.

Yesterday, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah also disclosed that the particular strain in the cluster could be a “super spreader” that was particularly effective at replicating itself, resulting in much faster infections that previously observed.

Malaysia is currently under the recovery movement order meant to end on August 31.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/08/07/perlis-tells-muslims-to-perform-friday-prayers-at-home-as-covid-19-menaces/1891710

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High Court calls for further submissions over Sabah election challenge

Durie Rainer Fong

August 7, 2020

KOTA KINABALU: The High Court here wants further arguments on whether it has the judicial authority to listen and decide over a challenge on the authority of Sabah governor Juhar Mahiruddin to dissolve the state assembly.

Judicial commissioner Leonard Chin today asked the state attorney-general, representing Juhar, and counsel representing the 33 assemblymen including former chief minister Musa Aman, who filed for leave for a judicial review, to submit further written submissions.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing of the leave application, Tengku Fuad Ahmad, representing the 33, said the issue highlighted by Chin was whether the court has justiciability over the case.

“The question the judge is centring on is justiciability, whether the court can go further and inquire into the legality of Juhar and (caretaker chief minister) Shafie Apdal’s conduct,” he said.

“The state AG will file the written submissions next Monday and we will do ours by next Wednesday.

“We will reconvene on Aug 17 for additional arguments for a ruling (on the leave application). It’s up to the judge,” he said.

State Attorney-General Brenndon Keith Soh confirmed that his office will file the submissions on Monday.

Musa and the 32 other assemblymen are questioning the July 29 written request from Shafie to Juhar to dissolve the assembly.

The dissolution paved the way for a snap state election, the date for which is expected to be announced by the Election Commission (EC) soon.

The 33 assemblymen named Juhar as the first respondent, Shafie, the EC and the state government as the second, third and fourth respondents respectively.

Tengku Fuad said the main crux of their challenge was that Juhar was improperly advised to dissolve the assembly under Article 21(2) of the Sabah constitution.

“We also state that the governor failed to exercise his constitutionally mandated discretion under Article 7(1) of the state constitution.

“This is to consider Musa as being a person who commanded the confidence of the majority of the state legislative assembly and be sworn in as chief minister.”

Musa had claimed on July 29 he had the simple majority to form the state government after garnering support from 33 assemblymen.

The following day, however, Shafie dissolved the state assembly after obtaining consent from Juhar.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2020/08/07/high-court-calls-for-further-submissions-over-sabah-election-challenge/

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Muhyiddin, 3 others win bid to quash suit by Dr M and co

Ho Kit Yen

August 7, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here allowed applications by PPBM president Muhyiddin Yassin and three others including the Registrar of Societies to strike out a lawsuit against them by Dr Mahathir Mohamad and four others to challenge their termination from the party.

Mahathir’s lawyer, Haniff Khatri Abdullah, told reporters this after High Court judge Rohani Ismail delivered her decision in chambers.

“Her Ladyship views that the five plaintiffs’ claims ought to be struck out because they do not have the legal position or locus standi to bring such an action to court.

“In her ruling, she also said Section 18C of the Societies Act bars any dispute in political parties to be taken to court,” he said.

Haniff said the court ordered Mahathir, Mukhriz Mahathir, Maszlee Malik, Amiruddin Hamzah and Marzuki Yahya to pay RM30,000 in costs.

He said he will seek the five men’s instructions on whether to appeal against today’s ruling.

In their statement of claim, the five men said the decision to terminate their PPBM memberships was invalid as working secretary Muhammad Suhaimi Yahya had no power to remove them from the party.

They also contended that Suhaimi’s position was not recognised under PPBM’s constitution.

They also disputed the use of Articles 10.2.2 and 10.2.3 of the party constitution against them, saying these only state that members who join another political party or resign from PPBM will have their memberships revoked.

The five are seeking the reinstatement of their memberships and to nullify the memberships of Muhyiddin, Suhaimi and secretary-general Hamzah Zainudin on grounds that they had joined Perikatan Nasional.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2020/08/07/muhyiddin-3-others-win-bid-to-quash-suit-by-dr-m-and-co/

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Minister: Govt to consider proposal to require fire drills for tahfiz schools

06 Aug 2020

KUALA LANGAT, Aug 6 ― The government may consider the proposal to require registered tahfiz schools to conduct fire drills in the future.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Seri Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri said fire drills were important and timely to prevent any untoward incidents happening to tahfiz students.

He said the school administration were also urged to work with Fire and Rescue Department to be “adoptive schools” to increase awareness of fire preventive measures and avoid fires.

“At the very least, students will get basic training (of what to do) during fires which would prevent them panicking,” he told reporters after visiting the Maahad Integrasi Tahfiz Selangor (MITS) Kuala Langat here today.

Zulkifli also expressed sadness over the fire which broke out on the third floor of the girls’ hostel in MITS Kuala Langat early Tuesday morning and said the federal government would provide any assistance to lighten the burden of the school.

Earlier, during the visit, Zulkifli handed his personal donation of RM20,000 to MITS Kuala Langat.

He also presented a cash donation of RM3,000 from Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia and food items worth RM2,000 from Yayasan Pembangunan Ekonomi Islam Malaysia.

In the incident on Tuesday, 132 female students of MITS Kuala Langat escaped after their hostel on the third floor of the building caught fire. ― Bernama

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/08/06/minister-govt-prepared-to-consider-proposal-to-require-fire-drills-for-tahf/1891637

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URL: https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/beirut-explosion-had-10-pct-of-hiroshima-atomic-bombs-explosive-power-uk-experts/d/122573

 

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