New Age Islam
Sat Feb 24 2024, 08:47 AM

Islamic World News ( 15 Oct 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

Conference on challenges facing Muslim Ummah kicks off in Istanbul

New Age Islam News Bureau

15 Oct 2018

Photo: Conference on challenges facing Muslim Ummah kicks off in Istanbul


 ICRC decries Boko Haram’s 24-hour deadline on abducted healthcare workers

 Pak media regulatory body issues notice to TV channel for airing 'fake news'

 Haryana: Mosque in Palwal built with Lashkar-e-Taiba funds, says NIA


 Conference on challenges facing Muslim Ummah kicks off in Istanbul

 Netanyahu: Israel Prevents Radical Islam From Overrunning The Region

 Turkish police uncover blatant media inaccuracy in Khashoggi, says expert

 Saudi King Salman, Turkey President Erdogan reaffirm strong ties

 Yemeni President Hadi condemns attempts to hurt Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty

 Palestinian President Abbas expresses firm support for Saudi Arabia

 Yemeni army launches effective operations in Saada

 Rouhani: US in war against Iran, seeks 'regime change'

 Three Saudi soldiers killed in clashes with Yemeni army in border areas

 Tel Aviv regime approves 31 new settler units in southern West Bank

 Israeli settler runs over, injures two Palestinian workers in occupied West Bank

 Istanbul conference spotlights problems of Muslim Ummah



 ICRC decries Boko Haram’s 24-hour deadline on abducted healthcare workers

 Beroms caution Islamic bodies to stop referring to them as terrorists, cannibals

 Border crossing between Jordan and Syria to reopen today

 Jordans king vows to fight corruption after protests

 Somalia marks 1 year since devastating Mogadishu bombing

 Nigeria: Don't Kill Leah Sharibu, Northern Christians, Muslims Beg B'haram

 South Africa: Accused in KZN Mosque Attack, Bombs Scares to Appear in Court

 Police alert: Al Shabaab planning major attack along Kenya-Somalia border



 Pak media regulatory body issues notice to TV channel for airing 'fake news'

 Pakistani defenders of Prophet Muhammad call for jihad against Dutch over cartoon contest

 Pakistani, Afghan forces exchange fire near Chaman

 Political parties urged to resist attempt to undo 18th Amendment

 PTI signs MoU to boost ties with Communist Party of China

 Non-Muslims seek facilities for children in schools

 Extremist’ Shafiq Mengal allowed to contest by-poll, says BNP-M

 Nafees Zakaria likely to be made new high commissioner to UK



 Haryana: Mosque in Palwal built with Lashkar-e-Taiba funds, says NIA

 This Muslim Family is Taking Part in Ramleela for 3 Generations

 Making Dussehra effigies is Muslim artisan’s livelihood

 Gita, Upanishads kept 'devout Muslim' Suhaib Ilyasi 'strong and positive' in jail

 Rohingya Refugees in India Rattled After First-Ever Deportations

 Kashmiri students at Aligarh Muslim University being harassed: J&K MLA

 Navjot Singh Sidhu should join Imran Khan’s Cabinet, says BJP

 1,200 Kashmiri students in Aligarh Muslim University threaten to return home on October 17

 Hyderabad: Mecca Masjid blast case judge joins Telangana Jana Samithi


South Asia

 Rohingya crisis: Myanmar monk hits back at international community

 Taliban attack Afghan army base, killing 17 soldiers

 Clash erupts among Afghan, Pak borders forces along the Durand Line

 Taliban agrees to continue talks with US


Southeast Asia

 Allowing beer fest ‘as sinful’ as drinking beer, Perak mufti claims

 Malaysia releases 11 ethnic Uighur Muslims, says they did nothing wrong

 Malaysian leader in waiting Anwar in triumphant return to parliament

 Indonesian Professor Predicts Growth of Indonesia’s Influence on Islam


Arab World

 Arab, Muslim leaders voice solidarity with Saudi Arabia

 For Khashoggi, a Tangled Mix of Royal Service and Islamist Sympathies

 Provocation of Kingdom means the provocation of millions of Muslims,’ says Muslim World League chief

 Tahrir Al-Sham Drives Rival Terrorists from More Positions in Northwestern Syria

 Turkey Issues Ultimatum to Terrorists Violating Sochi Agreement in Northern Syria

 Non-Syrian Terrorist Commanders Killed by Unknown Raiders in Idlib

 Terrorists Continue Violating Sochi Agreement by Shelling Syrian Army Positions in Hama

 Western, American Arms Discovered in Terrorists' Former Bases in Damascus Province

 Militants fire shells from Syria buffer despite heavy arms pullout

 No extremists seen exiting Syria buffer on eve of deadline

 Egypt court upholds death sentences for 3 suspected militants

 Syria: Takfiris refuse to leave Idlib buffer zone

 Syrian forces dig up US-made guns in terrorist arms cache near Damascus

 Year after Daesh lost Syria’s Raqqa, holdout hospital awaits recovery

 Organization of Islamic Cooperation to organize seminar on Islamophobia

 New Syrian law bans Muslim clerics from stoking sectarian rift


North America

 JP Morgan, Ford Motor pull out of Saudi investor conference

 Trump's political flip-flop on Khashoggi’s disappearance emboldening Riyadh: Analysts

 Canada allocates $50mn in aid to UN agency for Palestinian

 Turkey, US training for joint patrols in Manbij, Syria



 UK, France, Germany demand ‘detailed’ Saudi response, ‘credible’ probe on Khashoggi

 'Massacre in Syrias Idlib is Irans red line'

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Conference on challenges facing Muslim Ummah kicks off in Istanbul

Oct 15, 2018

Global scholars gathered on Sunday to discuss problems facing the Muslim world at the "International Conference on the Muslim Ummah."

The three-day conference bringing together 20 international scholars was organized by the Center for Islam and Global Affairs at Istanbul's Sabahattin Zaim University.

Speaking at the opening session, Sami Al-Arian, the center's director, said that the conference was "the embodiment of some of the problems that we see across the Muslim world."

The conference will discuss "four problems that the Muslim world is facing today," namely sectarianism, secularism, nationalism, and colonialism, he said.

For his part, Mehmet Bulut, the university's rector, said those issues "continue to exert incredible pressure and influence on the lives and destinies of Muslims across the world."

"It is not only essential that we know how to understand, express, and outline these multilateral problems but it is also incumbent upon us thinkers, researchers, scholars, and academics to articulate some of these potential ways by which we -- and by that I mean we as citizens of the world -- can begin to advance solutions," he added.

"The problems we face as Muslims are not easy ones to discuss. They are even harder to solve," he said.

Louay Safi of the College of Islamic Studies at Qatar's Hamad Bin Khalifah University said the challenges that Muslim societies face today are many and growing more complicated by the decade.

"It is our duty to shed light and clarify the picture, to bring clarity because defining the issues … forces understanding of what is going on, (which) is the most important step in addressing and moving toward a better future," he said.

"I am always optimistic, I think the entire Muslim world has been going through tough times, to say the least, but I see under the surface many currents that give a lot of hope and optimism," he added.

"There are changes," he said, stressing "the level of consciousness, which is to me the most of important level of change because that is where all the changes start."

At the conference, Halil Berktay of Istanbul's Ibn Haldun University made a presentation titled "Muslim Societies & the Legacy of Colonialism: What History Tells Us About Today."

Joseph Massad of New York's Columbia University also spoke on "Liberalism versus Liberation: The Arab World at Present," and Farid Esack from South Africa's University of Johannesburg gave a presentation on "Muslim Societies and Modernity: The Struggle for Liberation and Pluralism."



ICRC decries Boko Haram’s 24-hour deadline on abducted healthcare workers

October 14, 2018

The International Committee of the Red Cross has expressed concerns over the 24-hour deadline given by Boko Haram to eliminate another female staff held captive by the insurgents.

Head of ICRC’s Operations in the Lake Chad Basin, Mr. Mamadou Sow, in a statement on Sunday, made an appeal to the Federal Government, communities and individuals towards the release of two medical workers.

Sow named the affected medical workers as: Hauwa Mohammed and Alice Loksha.

According to Sow, speed and urgency are critical. A deadline that could result in the killing of another health care worker is less than 24 hours away.

To the holders of these kidnapped women, we urge you for mercy. We urge you not to kill another innocent health care worker who was doing nothing but helping the community in north-east Nigeria.’’

Sow noted that Hauwa worked in a hospital supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross  when she was abducted March 1, 2018 with Alice, a nurse who worked at a centre supported by UNICEF.

Hauwa and Alice are medical workers who chose to work and help vulnerable communities in Rann, an area heavily affected by violence.

The town’s population has more than doubled because of the conflict, while most local health care staff have fled. These women were providing essential and life-saving services to thousands of people, displaced and residents alike. All they sought to do was help,” he said.

According to him, the third health care worker abducted alongside Hauwa and Alice was ICRC colleague, Saifura Hussaini, who was killed by her abductors in September.

Sow urged those involved with this case to do everything they could to avoid a repeat of that devastating outcome.

He noted that Leah Sharibu, a 15-year-old school student, was taken from her school in Dapchi, in a separate abduction incident in February.

He, however, added that she was also being held by the same armed group and everything must be done to ensure her prompt and unharmed release.

The Director of ICRC Operations in Africa, Patricia Danzi, also urged the Federal Government to work towards the release of the innocent spirited individuals.

We urge you to spare and release these women. They are a midwife, a nurse and a student. Like all those abducted, they are not part of any fight.

They are daughters and sisters; one is a mother, women with their future ahead of them, children to raise, and families to return to,” She said.



Pak media regulatory body issues notice to TV channel for airing 'fake news'

Oct 14, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's electronic media regulatory authority has issued a notice to a private TV channel for airing news reports deemed to be against two federal ministers, a media report said Sunday.

"From the tickers it was transpired that the prime minister had expressed displeasure over the performance of federal finance minister for his policies," Dawn reported, citing the notice issued by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on Saturday.

In the notice titled 'Notice on False News, it said that by airing such reports, the channel had violated provisions of the 2015 Electronic Media Code of Conduct.

The regulatory authority asked the TV channel to prove authenticity of its reports and submit a reply by Monday, the paper reported.

It also said if the channel failed to provide evidence in support of its reports, it should tender an apology.



Haryana: Mosque in Palwal built with Lashkar-e-Taiba funds, says NIA

by Deeptiman Tiwary

October 15, 2018

A mosque in Palwal district of Haryana has come under the scrutiny of security agencies after a National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe found that it was allegedly built with funds from the Hafiz Saeed-led Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in Pakistan.

The Khulafa-e-Rashideen masjid at Uttawar village in Palwal was searched by NIA officers on October 3, days after the agency arrested three men, including the Imam of the masjid, Mohammed Salman, in New Delhi in an alleged terror-funding case.

While residents of Uttawar said the mosque is embroiled in a land dispute and were unaware of Salman’s links to the LeT, the NIA is questioning office bearers of the mosque and scrutinising the account books, details of donations and documents seized.

Salman (52), Mohammed Salim and Sajjad Abdul Wani were arrested on September 26 for allegedly receiving terror funding from Lahore-based Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF), an NGO set up by Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), Lashkar’s parent organisation.

NIA investigations, sources said, have found that Salman allegedly funnelled FIF money to build the mosque in Palwal. “Salman, who came in touch with LeT associated men when he was in Dubai, had been receiving funds from FIF. The organisation, we have learnt, gave him Rs 70 lakh to build a mosque in Uttawar. It even gave him money for the marriage of his daughters. We are now probing from where the mosque has been receiving its donations and how this money is being used,” an NIA officer said.

The officer said that Salman, who hails from Uttawar but has been living in Delhi since childhood, was among the largest contributors to a fund that was raised to build the mosque. Sources said that residents of the village arranged for over 10 acres of land on its own while money for construction was given by Salman.

The NIA alleged that this money actually came from the FIF. “The village does not appear to be aware of the source of funds. They believe it has come from Salman,” said another officer. After Salman’s arrest in September, the NIA, in an official statement said: “During investigation, it emerged that one Mohammad Salman…is in regular touch with one Dubai-based Pakistani national, who in turn is connected with the Deputy Chief of Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation. The accused person has been receiving funds, being sent by FIF operators and his associates through hawala operators.

According to the NIA, the FIF is a front-end organisation of “the LeT, a terror organisation proscribed under UAPA… FIF is placed on the list of terrorist organisations as per entry 33 in the First Schedule to the UAPA read with Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism (Implementation of Security Council Resolutions) Order 2016”.

In the village of Uttawar, however, few buy the NIA story. Most believe it is a result of a court battle between the villagers and some families squatting on the mosque land. “Because we are trying to evict them, it appears someone has given this wrong information to the police. No one in the village can believe such a thing. Salman comes from a very reputed family in the village. No one from his family has ever had a criminal case against them,” said Khalid Hussain. Hussain was present at the mosque when it was searched and is the son of former Uttawar Sarpanch, Akhtar Hussain.

Salman’s cousin Yaqub (77) also vouches for his innocence. “In Islam, betraying the nation is a sin. Hafiz Saeed is a foreigner. A God-fearing man like Salman would never align with him,” he said.

The current Imam of the mosque, Mohammed Jamshed, shows a ledger book which has entries of daily expenses. “All you will find here is an account of onions, garlic and tomatoes. Our records are absolutely clean. We do not investigate the source of contributions. This mosque has been built with contributions from a lot of people. We do not know where Salman got his money from. But I am not ready to believe he would put dirty money here. If at all it is dirty money, I doubt if he knew that himself,” said Jamshed.

According to Uttawar residents, Salman’s late father, Maulvi Dawood, is well-regarded among Muslims in the Mewat region. He migrated to Delhi more than 50 years ago and was an Imam of a significant mosque in Nizamuddin till his death. For Uttawar, he was an authority on Islam and had the final say in all disputes in the village.

He had imparted the same knowledge to his oldest son Salman. “That is why when in 2009 the village earmarked 10 acres for the mosque and the work began the next year, Salman was not only made the in-charge of mosque construction and fund collection, but also its Imam. There was no one else in the village better suited for this because of his pedigree,” said Mohammed Saad, who runs the mosque Madarsa.

For the past eight years, according to villagers, Salman visited Uttawar regularly where he stayed in a small, spartan room near the mosque to oversee its construction. The mosque is still under construction and villagers are waiting for more money to complete it.

According to NIA, Salman was involved in taxi and dairy product businesses but had incurred losses. Later, he went to Saudi Arabia for Umrah. “He also visited Dubai a few years back where he met few Pakistani nationals and thereafter started getting funds through hawala,” said an NIA officer.

The NIA Friday also raided a Kashmiri shawl shop in Lajpat Nagar and a house in connection with its probe into the case. It has recovered several “ incriminating documents” and Rs 18 lakh in cash apart from six mobile phones during the raids.

The premises belong to Hilal Ahmed Rather, who hails from Kashmir. It is suspected that Hilal was running the shop as a front to launder FIF money, said NIA sources. Hilal’s name cropped up when Salman and Sajjad Wani, were questioned.





Netanyahu: Israel Prevents Radical Islam From Overrunning The Region

OCTOBER 14, 2018

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the Palestinian Authority for persecuting Christians, he said, noting that they composed 80% of the population of Bethlehem when Israel handed the city to the PA, and are now only 20%. 

Speaking at the Christian Media Conference held in Jerusalem on Sunday evening, Netanyahu welcomed the reporters to Jerusalem, "the eternal capital of Israel," and joked that anyone who questions the connection between the city and the Jewish people should only "take a shovel, put it in the ground, see what you get."

The prime minister addressed a variety of issues, from the historical decision by US President Donald Trump to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem to the complex history of the Holy Land, and even Iran.

Calling the decision made by Trump historic and bold, Netanyahu said Trump "corrected a historical wrong," and that he "deserves a round of applause."

"Where did Jesus overturn the money changer's tables?" Netanyahu asked rhetorically, when discussing the historical connection between Jerusalem and the Jewish nation. "In Tibet?"

Netanyahu quoted former US State Secretary Henry Kissinger, who said that Iran must choose between being a country or a cause. The prime minister stated that so far, Iran opts to be a cause, with the Arabs being their first casualty.

He added that Israel is fighting the Iranian take-over of Syria and that for Iran, "Israel is the small Satan," with Europe being "a medium Satan" and the US "the great Satan."



Turkish police uncover blatant media inaccuracy in Khashoggi, says expert

15 October 2018

In a tweet, exposing the blatant inaccuracy in the Qatari media outlets’ coverage, challenging the misreported news and dubious sources, Turkish academic and columnist, Emre Uslu said in a tweet on Sunday that the Turkish police  confirmed his earlier analysis regarding the inaccuracy in the alleged picture of Saudi citizen Salah Mohammad A. Tubaigy.

He said in the tweet that the alleged picture, leaked by Turkish intelligence to Turkish newspaper Sabah which reported that this picture was taken on October, 2, 2018, on the same day of the disappearance of Saudi citizen and Journalist Jamal Khashogy in Istanbul, Turkey.

But the Turkish academic and columnist Uslu confirms in the tweet that the Turkish police revealed that this picture was taken back in 2013.

Tubaigy name surfaced as one of an alleged 15 Saudi team members who arrived in Turkey on two private jets and entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, when Jamal Khashoggi was there, in order to murder him, as reported by the Qatari media outlets.

These same media outlets reported that Tubaigy is an autopsy expert at Saudi Arabia’s internal security agency.

Full report at:



Saudi King Salman, Turkey President Erdogan reaffirm strong ties

15 October 2018

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday in a phone call, where he thanked Erdogan for welcoming the kingdom’s proposal to form a joint team to investigate the disappearance of Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi.

The Saudi king stressed the kingdom's keenness on its relations with Turkey.

For his part, Erdogan expressed his appreciation of the distinguished, historical and close relations between the two countries and the two peoples, expressing his keenness to strengthen and develop them.



Yemeni President Hadi condemns attempts to hurt Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty

14 October 2018

Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi said on Sunday that its stands with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the wake of attempts to undermine and harm the country.

The Yemeni government also condemned any attempt to harm the sovereignty of Saudi Arabia and its status in the region.



Palestinian President Abbas expresses firm support for Saudi Arabia

14 October 2018

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday expressed his appreciation of “the firm stand taken by Saudi Arabia, which has always stood by our just causes and the rights of our people.”

Abbas expressed his absolute confidence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, headed by Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia, and Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, stressing that Palestine was and will remain alongside the Kingdom.



Yemeni army launches effective operations in Saada

14 October 2018

The Yemeni national army, with the support of the Arab coalition backing Legitimacy in Yemen, carried out effective and qualitative operations on Houthis’ posts in the Baqim district of Saada governorate.

The military operations were backed by airstrikes by the Arab coalition’s fighter jets and armored tanks destroying arms depots and military vehicles for the Houthi militias.

The district is closer to coming under the control of the Yemeni army, which carried out military offensive across three axes, the most important offensive in targeting the mountains of Abwab el-Hadid.

Full report at:



Rouhani: US in war against Iran, seeks 'regime change'

Oct 14, 2018

President Hassan Rouhani says the current US administration is in a war against Iran to stamp out the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic and bring about a "regime change," but that Tehran will foil the plot.

"Over the past 40 years, there has not been a more spiteful team than the current US government toward Iran and the Islamic Republic," Rouhani said at Tehran University Sunday, in a speech marking the beginning of the new academic year.

"They started with a psychological war; their next goal is an economic war and an attempt to portray [the Islamic Republic] ineffective, and their ultimate goal is to delegitimize the system and change it," he added.

Rouhani said there was a time when there was one person who had enmity with Iran and the rest were moderate, but now the worst of them have gathered at the White House.

The president said Iran has defeated the US in many arenas before and will thwart all its conspiracies with unity and integrity again.

He touched on Washington's isolation after its withdrawal from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Rouhani said except for a few regimes, all countries view the move as "illegal" and a "mistake."

"From a political standpoint and a foreign policy perspective, Iran is certainly the winner and America the loser," in what has so far transpired.

Rouhani said Iran responded to the US withdrawal with "prudence" and refrained from hurriedly walking out of the JCPOA.

Iran, he said, can leave the JCPOA "whenever" it chooses but that national interests and security are what come first.

Under the Trump administration, the US has taken an increasingly hostile approach toward Iran.

In May, Trump pulled his country out of the JCPOA, despite objections from the other signatories to the multilateral nuclear accord.

In August, he re-imposed the first round of sanctions on Iran, with the second phase due to come into effect early next month, targeting the country's oil exports.

Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri on Sunday played down the impact of the planned restrictions, saying Iran has been able to find new partners to buy its oil even though some countries have stopped their purchases.

"America will certainly not be able to reduce Iran's oil exports to zero," he said, dismissing a pledge by President Trump to obliterate the Islamic Republic's oil trade.

Full report at:



Three Saudi soldiers killed in clashes with Yemeni army in border areas

Oct 14, 2018

At least three Saudi soldiers have been killed in clashes with Yemeni forces in border areas of the war-ravaged country, a report says.

Saudi Arabia’s pro-government Shohada al-Vajeb (Martyrs of the Military Service) group, which keeps track of Saudi military personnel killed since 2009, announced the news on its twitter account on Sunday.

The group identified the troopers as Abdullah bin Mubarak, Ali Salem al-Ghamedi and Mohammad bin Faye al-Za’bi, who were all killed on the “southern borders.”

Saudi authorities rarely admit the kingdom’s military casualties. The kingdom has a policy of withholding information on the casualties it has suffered during the war on Yemen.

A report by Reuters published in April last year said that at least 400 Saudi soldiers had been killed in the cross-border fire since the start of the Saudi aggression against Yemen more than two years ago.

In early April, Arabic-language Yemen Watch news agency reported that nearly 120 Saudi troopers had been killed in dozens of sniper operations carried out by Yemeni army soldiers, backed by fighters from allied Popular Committees.

Meanwhile, Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah television network, citing an unnamed military official, said that Yemeni forces, backed by fighters from the Houthi Ansarullah movement, launched an attack against Saudi-led mercenaries in Hays area in Yemen’s western province of Hudaydah.

It added that the attack inflicted heavy human and material losses on the invading troops.

Other reports said that the Yemeni soldiers managed to destroy at least three Saudi-led military vehicles.

Saudi Arabia and some of its allies, including the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, and Sudan, launched a brutal war against Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and crush the country’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement, which has played a significant role, alongside the Yemeni army, in defending the impoverished nation.

The aggression initially consisted of a bombing campaign but was later coupled with a naval blockade and the deployment of ground forces to Yemen. Some 15,000 Yemenis have so far been killed and thousands more injured.

More than 2,200 others have also died of cholera, and the crisis has triggered what the United Nations has described as the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.

The imposed war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN has said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger.

Full report at:



Tel Aviv regime approves 31 new settler units in southern West Bank

Oct 14, 2018

The Israeli regime has approved plans for the construction of 31 new settler units in the occupied West Bank in grave contravention of international law and a United Nations Security Council resolution against the Tel Aviv regime’s land grab policies in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlement group that monitors settlement activity in the West Bank, said on Sunday that the units will be built in the southern West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron), located 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of Jerusalem al-Quds.

For the first time in more than 20 years, Hebron will have a new Jewish neighborhood where a military camp once stood,” Israel's minister for military affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, said after a weekly cabinet meeting.

He said in a statement that the project will comprise 31 settler homes and two kindergartens.

It is an important step in the global activity which we are carrying out to reinforce settlements in Judea and Samaria,” Lieberman added.

Peace Now said in a statement that the land on which the settler homes will be built legally belongs to the Palestinian municipality of al-Khalil.

Less than a month before US President Donald Trump took office, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2334, calling on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem” al-Quds.

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement expansion on Palestinian territories.

Trump backtracked on Washington’s support for a “two-state solution” earlier this year, saying he would support any solution favored by both sides.

Full report at:



Israeli settler runs over, injures two Palestinian workers in occupied West Bank

Oct 14, 2018

Two Palestinian workers have reportedly sustained injuries after an Israeli settler ran them over in the western part of the occupied West Bank.

Local sources, requesting anonymity, told Arabic-language Ma’an news agency that the victims, identified as Oqab Raji Mahmoud Abed al-Hafith and Ameer Hayel Raji, were struck near the village of Kafr Laqif, located 22 kilometers southwest of Nablus, on Sunday afternoon.

The pair was transferred to a nearby hospital to receive medical treatment.

Sources said Hafith had suffered serious injuries in the head, while Raji has sustained moderate injuries to his head and shoulder.

There have been scores of “hit and run” incidents targeting Palestinians in different parts of the occupied West Bank, with most of them largely going uninvestigated by Israeli authorities. Some of such events have resulted in fatalities.

On March 11, 16-year-old Rushdi Yasser al-Khatib was struck on the road linking the towns of Hizma and 'Anata northeast of the occupied Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds.

Palestinian medics said the teenager had suffered a fractured skull and bruises all over his body.

Settlers attack Palestinian vehicles with stones near Nablus

Meanwhile, a group of Israeli settlers have attacked Palestinian vehicles south of Nablus.

Ghassan Daghlas, the Palestinian Authority (PA) official in charge of monitoring Israeli settlement policy in the northern part of the West Bank, said the settlers pelted the cars with stones on the road linking Nablus to Ramallah. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Last Friday, Aisha Muhammad Talal al-Rabi, 47, a mother of eight children, was killed and her husband suffered injuries after Israeli settlers hurled rocks at their vehicle near the Zaatara checkpoint in Nablus.

Price tag attacks are acts of vandalism and violence against Palestinians and their property as well as Islamic holy sites by Israeli settlers.

Full report at:



Istanbul conference spotlights problems of Muslim Ummah


By Handan Kazanci


Global scholars gathered on Sunday to discuss problems facing the Muslim world at a conference titled “The Muslim Ummah,” using the Arabic word for community.

The three-day conference bringing together 20 international scholars was organized by the Center for Islam and Global Affairs at Istanbul's Sabahattin Zaim University.

Speaking at the opening session, Sami A. Al-Arian, the center’s director, said that the conference was “the embodiment of some of the problems that we see across the Muslim world.”

The conference will discuss “four problems that the Muslim world is facing today,” namely sectarianism, secularism, nationalism, and colonialism, he said.

For his part, Mehmet Bulut, the university’s rector, said those issues “continue to exert incredible pressure and influence on the lives and destinies of Muslims across the world.

It is not only essential that we know how to understand, express, and outline these multilateral problems but it is also incumbent upon us thinkers, researchers, scholars, and academics to articulate some of these potential ways by which we -- and by that I mean we as citizens of the world -- can begin to advance solutions,” he added.

The problems we face as Muslims are not easy ones to discuss. They are even harder to solve,he said.

Hope and optimism

Louay Safi of the College of Islamic Studies at Qatar’s Hamad Bin Khalifah University said that challenges that Muslim societies face today are many and growing more complicated by the decade.

It is our duty to shed light and clarify the picture, to bring clarity because defining the issues … forces understanding of what is going on, [which] is the most important step in addressing and moving toward a better future,” he said.

I am always optimistic, I think the entire Muslim world has been going through tough times, to say the least, but I see under the surface many currents that give a lot of hope and optimism,” he added.

There are changes,” he said, stressing “the level of consciousness, which is to me the most of important level of change because that is where all the changes start.

At the conference, Halil Berktay of Istanbul’s Ibn Haldun University made a presentation titled “Muslim Societies & the Legacy of Colonialism: What History Tells Us About Today.

Full report at:





Beroms caution Islamic bodies to stop referring to them as terrorists, cannibals

October 14, 2018

By Agabus Pwanagba

The Berom Educational and Cultural Organisation (BECO) has urged the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar to caution Islamic bodies under his leadership in the country to stop promoting ethnic hatred and branding the Berom as Christian terrorists and cannibals.

The group lamented that notable Islamic bodies such as Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria (SCSN), the Jama’atul Nasril Islam (JNI), under the watch of the Sultan, had insulted the Beroms and described them as ‘Christian terrorists’ and a ‘bunch of evil and deadly ethnic supremacists with brazen show of cannibalism’.

BECO was reacting to the press conference addressed by one Prof. Salisu Shehu and Ishaq Akintola for the Islamic bodies with captions such as, ‘Matters arising from the Plateau’, ‘Stop Berom Terrorists now’ and ‘Berom Christians, the real terrorists’, through its Vice President, Da Iliya Choji Kim, saying it takes serious exception to the allegations.

Choji said, “It is unbelievable and indeed ungodly that highly regarded Islamic bodies under the leadership of His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, can fall to the low ebb of becoming abusive on fellow citizens.

These bodies have chosen to malign and unscrupulously label an entire ethnic nationality as ‘a bunch of evil and deadly ethnic supremacists’ whose brazen show of cannibalism astounded the world”.

How we wish that these Islamic bodies stood up for true religion that considers human life sacred and upholds the tenets of justice to all for the promotion of peace and peaceful coexistence without prejudices to ethnicity, religious differences or social status.

Of recent, the Berom nation has been inundated with an avalanche of hate speeches, write-ups, press releases, conferences and even protests by some groups and individuals within and outside Nigeria.

Notable among them are the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria (SCSN), the Jama’atul Nasril Islam (JNI), with various captions such as, ‘Matters arising from the Plateau’, ‘Stop Berom Terrorists now’ and ‘Berom Christians, the real terrorists’.

The Berom nation takes serious exception to this smear campaign which is aimed at demonizing the Berom, heightening religious hatred and intolerance.

To us, these narratives are largely blatant lies, others contradictory in terms, misleading or merely the figments of the authors’ imagination.

It is obvious that the purpose of all the write-ups is to change the well-known narrative of sustained Fulani aggression and territorial expeditions against the Berom.

It would appear logical from their narration, therefore, to continually brutalise, dispossess, displace and massacre innocent and defenceless peasants, women and children.

He said none of these accounts made reference to the past and present losses of the Berom in terms of lives, crops, farmlands, sacked communities and the displaced currently languishing in make-shift camps as IDPs.

We dare to ask, who killed Rev. Bitrus Manjang, the then retired Vice President, Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) in Rim village?

Have the killers of Distinguished Senator Gyang Dalyop Dantong or that of Hon. Gyang Fulani, the then-Majority Leader of the Plateau State House of Assembly been brought to justice, not to talk of the killers of a First Class Chief in Bokkos LGA, Da Lazarus Agai, the Saf Ron Kulere?

Have we forgotten so soon, several massacres (genocide?) of Dyenburuk (Dogo Nahawa), Gashish and Riyom in June 2018 and most recently, Loh-Pamdyet, where thousands of innocent lives have been wasted?

We find it very dubious to isolate the unfortunate disappearance of Major Gen. Idris Alkali and treat it outside the context of security challenges bedevilling Plateau State now for nearly two decades.

He said the Beroms have lost about 400 persons in four months in Riyom, Barkin-Ladi and Jos South Local Government areas of Plateau state during herdsmen attacks.

Kim insisted that no matter the terror and killings of the Berom people, not a single inch of Berom land shall be ceded to Fulani occupiers and their cohorts, neither will the people succumb to the wishes of paid political surrogates and thugs called Rotdunna Sekat, who called for the deposition of a highly revered First Class Royal Father, His Majesty Da (Dr.) Jacob Gyang Buba and the arrest of former Plateau State Governor, Distinguished Senator Jonah David Jang as accomplices to the attacks and killings in their own land against their own people.

More intriguing is the ignorance being feigned that there are no Muslims amongst the Berom when in fact, thousands of them are indeed devout Muslims, with some highly placed as Sheiks and Khadis.

How on earth do we excuse Professor Salisu Shehu and Ishaq Akintola if they both claim not to know that the urban setting and cosmopolitan nature of Jos, the Plateau State capital demands a higher level of responsibility on any statements involving criminality?



Border crossing between Jordan and Syria to reopen today

14 October 2018

The border crossing between Jordan and Syria will reopen on Monday after being closed for three years, the two countries said on Sunday after weeks of talks.

The Syrian government retook the area around the border crossing at Naseeb in July during a weeks-long Russian-backed offensive to drive rebels from their stronghold in southwest Syria.

Technical teams from the two countries met on the Jordanian side on Sunday and agreed on the final arrangements to open the crossing from Oct. 15, said Jordanian government spokeswoman Jumana Ghunaimat.

However, although the crossing will be officially opened on Monday, it will not open to normal traffic just yet, said Nael Husami, head of the Amman chamber of industry. Syrian state television also cited Interior Minister Mohammed al-Shaar as saying the border crossing and roads leading to it were being renovated.

Full report at:



Jordan’s king vows to fight corruption after protests

14 October 2018

Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Sunday vowed authorities would crack down on corruption in the country, following mass protests against graft and price rises earlier this year.

All Jordanians have an equal right to justice, and corruption will not be left unaddressed to become a chronic social illness,” the king said in a speech to mark the opening of parliament in Amman.

I hereby affirm that the state’s institutions are well capable of uprooting corruption and holding to account those who dare to encroach on public funds,” he added.

Thousands of Jordanians hit the streets at the start of June to protest against corruption, price rises and austerity measures.

The week of mass demonstrations forced the prime minister’s resignation and the withdrawal of a controversial income tax bill.

With a lack of natural resources to boost state coffers, Jordan relies heavily on foreign aid and faces an unemployment rate of 18.5 percent.

In 2016 Amman secured a $723-million loan from the International Monetary Fund, but the resultant economic reforms led to price hikes.

The king on Sunday acknowledged “dissatisfaction with the way current challenges are being addressed”.

The process of development in Jordan, as in other countries, has been marred by some mistakes and challenges, which we must learn from, resolve, and prevent from reoccurring, so that we may move forward,” he said.

Abdullah put the current situation down to “a weakening (of) public trust in government institutions, as well as an atmosphere of skepticism”.

Stability in Jordan is seen as fundamental to the region and in the wake of protests Amman was offered a $2.5 billion aid package from three Gulf backers.

Full report at:



Somalia marks 1 year since devastating Mogadishu bombing

October 14, 2018

NAIROBI, Kenya: Somalia on Sunday marked the first anniversary of one of the world’s deadliest attacks since 9/11, a truck bombing in the heart of Mogadishu that killed well over 500 people, while the man accused of orchestrating the blast was executed by a firing squad.

As people gathered at a new memorial with prayers and a minute of silence, the deputy prosecutor general of the Somali military court, Capt. Mumin Hussein, confirmed the execution of Hassan Aden Isaq. It was the first under the country’s Somali-American president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.

Memories of the bombing are still raw in a country that has faced decades of deadly warlord-led chaos and attacks by the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab extremist group. The Oct. 14, 2017 bombing was so devastating that Al-Shabab never claimed responsibility amid local outrage.

The new UN envoy to Somalia, Nicholas Haysom, on Sunday called it “the deadliest ever terrorist attack in Africa, and such terrorist attacks amount to a war crime.”

In my mind, it feels like it has happened just yesterday,” said Sadiya Mohamed, a 49-year-old who lost her eldest son. He is among hundreds of people still missing. “I can barely get sleep since that dark day. He was everything for us,” she said.

Somalia’s government declared Oct. 14 as a national day to remember victims of all “terrorist” bombings across the Horn of Africa nation.

On Sunday, the fatigues-wearing president traveled to the coastal town of Marka to mark the anniversary with a military brigade formed by young men who volunteered for service after last year’s attack, presidential spokesman Abdinur Mohamed told The Associated Press. The brigade is named after the bombing.

Somalis now look to the future with a mixture of sorrow and hope.

Many believe the global attention to the attack and outpouring of grief should bring much-needed assistance for the fragile central government and security forces, who in the next few years are expected to take over the country’s security from African Union peacekeepers.

That was a big test for the international community’s seriousness in helping Somalia to move forward,” said Ahmed Mohamed, a former lawmaker.

Somali officials have said they did not even have the DNA testing tools to help identify the dead, and accused the US and Britain of not responding to appeals ahead of the attack for further technical assistance and intelligence-sharing.

The United States, which has targeted Al-Shabab with dozens of airstrikes and increased its military presence in Somalia since early 2017 to about 500 personnel, on Sunday recalled the “sickening attack” and said the US would continue to collaborate to “overcome terrorism and promote stability and prosperity.”

For many of the victims’ loved ones, the day was simply one to grieve.

Imagine living with the reality of not having your father dead or alive,” said Mohamed Sheikh, a 17-year-old rickshaw driver whose father is among the missing. “That memory keeps haunting me each day and night.”

The bombing shattered one of Mogadishu’s busiest business districts. Reconstruction has begun but many buildings in the area still lay in ruins.

Most of those killed were civilians going about their daily lives when the truck that had been trying to force its way through heavy traffic exploded.

Security officials have said they had advance warning about an incoming vehicle but had no idea about the large amount of explosives it carried.

We had been trailing the car bomb before it was detonated but he sped through a traffic jam and unfortunately reached the site,” said Abdullahi Sanbalolshe, Somalia’s former intelligence chief.

Amid the shock of the blast, hospitals and officials pleaded for Mogadishu residents to donate blood. Many pushed cultural hesitations aside and got in line.

Some survivors say the attack changed their lives forever.

I regained consciousness and found myself on a hospital bed with serious burns on nearly all of my body,” said Yusuf Ahmed, a shopkeeper who lost his wife in the blast.

Full report at:




Nigeria: Don't Kill Leah Sharibu, Northern Christians, Muslims Beg B'haram

15 OCTOBER 2018


Abuja — Christian and Muslims leaders in Northern Nigeria have appealed to the Boko Haram sect not to kill Leah Sharibu, one of the Dapchi school girls it abducted .

The religious leaders urged the group to release Miss Sharibu and other captives being held, adding that they are innocent.

Speaking at a press conference held in Abuja at the weekend, the religious leaders represented by the chairma of 19 Northern States and FCT of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev Yakubu Pam and the Imam, Apo Legislative Quarters Mosque, Sheikh Mohammed Nuru Khalid, said it was improper to release other students without Leah Sharibu.

"The two major religion and traditional rulers are here to talk about peace. But we are also here to talk about the abduction of innocent teenagers most especially, Leah Sharibu. We've heard what the abductors have said and that is why we are here as religious leaders and traditional rulers to appeal to their conscience to release her," Pam said.

According to the Northern States CAN chairman, the families, her mother and other well meaning Nigerians are crying, begging for her release.

"We are pleading please, for the sake of God, let them release this girl that is very innocent. With her release, Nigerians will appreciate it. They fixed a dateline for their execution but we are pleading for them to be lenient and release her and other adoptors.

We are talking as religious leaders and we want her abductors to please release her," Pam said.

On his part, the Imam, Apo Legislative Quarters Mosque Abuja, Sheik Mohammed Nuru Khalid, who said the two main religions are concerned about the safety of Leah Sharibu and other abductees, appealed to them to release them including Leah Sharibu.

"We are worried about her because she was adopted with several other children who have been released.

Full report at:



South Africa: Accused in KZN Mosque Attack, Bombs Scares to Appear in Court

15 OCTOBER 2018

Nineteen people accused of a fatal attack at a KwaZulu-Natal Shia mosque and the placement of several explosive devices at Durban shopping centres are expected to appear before the Verulam Family Court on Monday.

Their case was postponed for seven days when they appeared in court last Tuesday to allow the Hawks to conduct the ID parade.

The 19 accused appeared in camera (in private) in the same court last Monday and Tuesday. The court ordered that their names, nationalities, age and gender cannot be published at this stage.

The media and the public were also barred from attending the case.

The accused face 14 charges including murder, attempted murder, arson, extortion and the violation of Pocdatara (The Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act).

Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said the charges related to 11 cases.

Mulaudzi said they expected the accused's lawyers to apply for bail on Monday.

Various items were confiscated when the accused were arrested, including a ready-made incendiary device.

Mulaudzi said someone who was allegedly found chained and malnourished inside a dungeon in one of the houses where the accused were arrested, was recuperating well at a Durban hospital.

He did not give further information for "security reasons".

In May this year, the Imam Hussain Mosque in Ottawa, Verulam, north of Durban, was attacked by three knife-wielding men.

Full report at:



Police alert: Al Shabaab planning major attack along Kenya-Somalia border

October 15th 2018

Security agencies at the Kenya-Somalia border are on high alert after reports indicated that Al Shabaab militants could be planning a major attack. Agencies operating in the border area have been put on standby due to reports that the terrorists were gathering in El-Ade area.

Police spokesman Charles Owino yesterday said officers had identified a suspect in last week's attack in which three teachers were killed in Arabia area, Mandera County. He named the suspect as Hassan Hodey a Somali national from Damasa, “Security agencies are also on alert for any possible attack by the militants targeting security installations and any other soft targets along the border between Mandera and Elwak,” he said. He added that in the past two weeks, the militants had been converging close to the Kenyan border. The buildup has been evident in Hola, Dura, Jidahaley, Juma and Ilkabere.

The militants' movement towards the Kenyan border is attributed to the ongoing purge on their bases in Somalia by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Mr Owino asked the public, particularly the people living along the border, to remain vigilant and report any suspicious movement by individuals or groups to the nearest security personnel. On October 11, an operation in El-Ade centre left 20 Al Shabaab militants dead and two vehicles mounted with machine guns destroyed.

Full report at:





Pakistani defenders of Prophet Muhammad call for jihad against Dutch over cartoon contest

October 14, 2018

LAHORE, Pakistan — Those convicted of dishonoring the Prophet Muhammad or desecrating the Koran in Pakistan face the death penalty — one of the harshest punishments in the Islamic world.

But the harshness doesn’t stop at the South Asian’s country’s borders. Many Pakistanis, whose nation was birthed as a harbor and homeland for South Asia’s Muslim population, say they expect the same punishments to apply to non-Muslims abroad.

A diplomatic rift opened between Pakistan and The Netherlands after populist right-wing Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders announced in June a Prophet Muhammad cartoon competition with a $10,000 prize. The contest, now canceled, was clearly designed to provoke Muslims, who rioted in the past after Muhammed caricatures appeared in foreign newspapers. About 200 people submitted cartoons before Mr. Wilders‘ November deadline. Others in the Muslim world expressed disapproval of the stunt, but the reaction was far sharper in Pakistan.

After news of Mr. Wilders‘ contest spread, demonstrators in Pakistan called to sever diplomatic ties with the Dutch government.

Leading the demonstrations was cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi, whose far-right political party, Tehreek-e-Labbaik, aims to protect “the honor of the prophet.” Confident after garnering 2 million votes in the July parliamentary elections, Mr. Rizvi took to the streets and asked the government to launch a missile strike against the Netherlands.

The only way to stop the release of blasphemous cartoons is through jihad,” Mr. Rizvi said at a rally at Data Darbar, a Sufi Muslim shrine in Lahore. “Pakistan should end diplomatic ties with Netherlands. We demand the government to launch Ghauri missile on Holland.”

His followers agreed. “Dutch are kafirs” — nonbelievers, said Muhammad Tayab, a public school teacher in Lahore. “They dared to humiliate our prophet. They should all be killed for hurting our religious sentiments.

New Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the contest but tried to calm angry constituents with a video statement saying people living in the West didn’t understand Muslims’ religious sensitivities.

Westerners “have their own way of looking at their religions, while we look at it in a very different way,” said Mr. Khan, adding that he would raise the issue at the U.N. General Assembly.

Along with India and the Kashmir dispute, blasphemy has long been the hot-button political issue domestically. The country is sharply divided over the case of a Christian mother of four who would be the first woman put to death under the country’s draconian blasphemy laws.

The Pakistani Supreme Court last week heard an appeal for mercy in the case of Asia Bibi, accused of making derogatory remarks about Islam after her Muslim neighbors complained about her drinking water from their glass. Global Christian groups have condemned the sentence, and a leading hard-line Islamist group warned of “terrible consequences” if the execution is not carried out.

In late August, Dutch police in The Hague arrested Junaid Iqbal Gujjar, a 26-year-old Pakistani who threatened to attack Mr. Wilders and the Dutch Parliament to stop the cartoon contest. In a Facebook video, he vowed to send the Dutch politician “to hell.”

I am a true lover of prophet,” Mr. Gujjar said in the video, adding that he needs support and help from other Muslims to achieve his goal. “I have come here from France and will not return until I reach to the person who is conducting the competition.

Mr. Wilders canceled the competition the next day.

The Pakistani government claimed victory. “The cancellation of the blasphemous contest is a great moral victory of Muslim [community],” said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

But Mr. Wilders warned on Twitter, “Don’t claim victory too soon Pakistan government, I am not finished with you yet. I will expose your barbarism in many other ways.”

Uniquely aggressive

The episode reflects Pakistan’s unique — and uniquely aggressive — stance against perceived slights and blasphemy targeting the national religion.

In 2005, Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The same set of cartoons was reprinted in 2006 by some publications in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and several other European countries.

The reaction was violent in Egypt, Afghanistan and other Muslim-majority countries, but the fury was particularly intense in Pakistan, which was engulfed in protests.

Vandals looted storefronts of the Norwegian phone company Telenor, KFC fast-food restaurants and Western banks. Several people died in the violence. A Pakistani cleric, Maulana Yousaf Qureshi, announced a $1 million bounty and a car for anyone who killed the Danish cartoonists. Denmark closed its embassy because of security concerns.

Nearly 10 years later, French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo printed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Protests again broke out in Pakistan, with thousands thronging the streets, leading to clashes with police.

Many say the intense reaction is rooted in Pakistans history. The country was formed along with India in the breakup of colonial British rule, a partition that uprooted an estimated 14 million people and killed an estimated 1 million to 2 million people. “Since independence from India in 1947, Pakistan has made religion, rather than a more inclusive, multicultural and more secular state narrative, it’s raison d’etre both at home and abroad,” said Farahnaz Ispahani, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington who specializes in Pakistan’s minorities.

Mr. Khan has used the blasphemy issue to improve his standing among voters, she said. Now he needs to follow through with his rhetoric and condemn anyone who appears to trespass against the rule.

The present and past governments live entrapped by jihadi rhetoric and the Islamist mindset that believes the world would be better off cast in its image,” she said.

Critics accuse Pakistan’s political and religious establishment of stoking popular anger of perceived insults to Islam abroad.

Rabi Pirzada, a pop singer who was not even aware of Mr. Wilders‘ competition, tweeted that “freedom of expression can never justify blasphemy. We strongly protest against disrespect of our beloved prophet in France. The sketchmakers must be hanged immediately.

A legal analyst at the Pakistan International Commission of Jurists, Reema Omer, noted that Christians and other religious minorities are most likely to run afoul of the country’s blasphemy laws.

She said the country’s supreme court and the National Commission for Human Rights raised concerns about the misapplication of the law but added that officials had done little to follow up with those worries.

Change seems unlikely,” she said.

Mr. Khan’s support for the laws would only erode Pakistan’s standing abroad, she said.

The current government’s pretense that its extremist positions will somehow bring the rest of the world round to its point of view will only isolate Pakistan further,” Ms. Ispahani said.



Pakistani, Afghan forces exchange fire near Chaman

Saleem Shahid

October 15, 2018

QUETTA: Pakistani and Afghan forces exchanged fire on Sunday about 60km north of the border town of Chaman, with the clash lasting several hours.

Pakistani officials confirmed the incident and said Afghan troops opened fire on Pakistani personnel who were erecting a fence along the border in the Tandah Dara Sarochahan area. There were no reports of casualties in the clash.

After the incident, Pakis­tani border authorities closed the Friendship Gate near Chaman, leaving thousands of people stranded on both sides of the Pak-Afghan border.

According to sources, Afghan security personnel had been converging onto the border area for the last several days and on Sunday afternoon they began firing towards the Pakistani troops who were busy erecting the fence. Pakistani troops returned the fire. According to some sources, Afghan troops exchan­ged harsh words with Pakis­tani military men before opening fire on the latter.

The exchange of fire continued for around five hours,” a local journalist, Niamatullah Sarhadi, told Dawn from Chaman.

The exchange of fire ended in the evening, said officials. “The firing stopped late in the evening but the situation is still tense,” they said, adding that Pakistani officials had deployed more troops to the area.

Pakistan has been erecting a fence along its western border to stop illegal influx of terrorists and smugglers from Afghanistan who often use infrequent routes to enter Pakistan. Pakistan has already informed the Afghan government of its decision to build a border fence.

However, Afghan officials in the Spin Buldak area raised objections to Islamabad’s decision. Afghan officials visited Chaman a few months ago to hold talks with Pakistani officials on the matter.

Meanwhile, Pakistani and Afghan border officials reopened the Friendship Gate in the evening after mediation by Muhammad Asghar Khan, a member of the Balochistan Assembly.

Full report at:



Political parties urged to resist attempt to undo 18th Amendment

Intikhab Hanif | Xari Jalil

October 15, 2018

LAHORE: Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and other speakers at a session of the Asma Jahangir Conference 2018 on Sunday called upon all political parties to resist attempts to undermine or undo the 18th Amendment so as to protect civil liberties and rights of the provinces hard won through this change in the Constitution.

Many federal subjects were devolved to the provinces through this amendment which had also plugged constitutional spaces for martial laws and their validation by courts. Its withdrawal or undermining would directly impact provincial autonomy and civil liberties. Therefore, all attempts against the amendment should be foiled, the speakers said.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said the PPP had always respected the Constitution and its authority, adding that by bringing the 18th Amendment the party had sought to protect the Constitution and rule of law while strengthening the federation and giving the provinces their due share. He warned against rolling back the 18th Amendment and the National Finance Commission Award.

Praising Asma Jahangir, he said “when injustice took place, her voice was the loudest and now there is deafening, deafening silence”.

As the son and political heir of Benazir Bhutto, I hold Asma’s principles as a shining light, and promise to fight for constitutional empowerment. This is a debt that we owe to both Benazir Bhutto and Asma Jahangir and we will succeed, lest we be left at the mercy of dangerous duffers.

The PPP chairman also spoke about an array of issues that he said were plaguing the country. “Today a ‘selected’ government desperately seeks to lose all the democratic milestones we have covered,” he said. “Our media is under assault and is facing unprecedented censorship; human rights are in danger and rule of law has been discarded thanks to populism. Theatrics have triumphed over substance.

He said democracy faced serious threats not only from unelected sources but also from “so-called democrats”. The supremacy of parliament and the sanctity of the Constitution were under attack, he said.

He mentioned the ‘unlevel playing field’ given to almost all parties during the 2018 elections which he said ended up in giving the country an ‘incompetent government’ that dabbled in ‘Chandanomics’, pushing the country to instability. Politics had been replaced by hysteria and abuse, he added.

There is lack of policy and inconsistency, and through constant U-turns have failed to inspire confidence,” he said. “The objective of the present government seems to be to establish a fascist one-party dictatorship where criticism is treated as a crime and opposition is threatened with intimidation.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari also criticised the judiciary, saying that it was unfortunate how they were more concerned by trivialities rather than giving people justice.

The Constitution does not begin or end with the judges and the courts would do well to remember this,” he said. “We need to re-examine the same judiciary and the vast powers given to judges under Article 183-4 need to be questioned.

Former senator and rights activist Afrasiab Khan Khattak said the subcontinent was divided twice — first in 1947 (partition) and then in 1971 (fall of Dhaka) on the provincial autonomy issue. Pakistan used the colonial model of nation building till 1971 and the democratic model afterwards. Politicians made the 1973 Constitution, but it was never accepted by the establishment as it wanted centralisation.

He said the 18th Amendment that empowered the provinces came in the light of the Charter of Democracy of 2006. It empowered the provinces, Senate and Council of Common Interests, protected human rights and disallowed Constitution’s subversion, suspension or holding it in abeyance and court validation of such actions. The major thing nevertheless was an increase in provincial share in the federal divisible pool and this was hurting the quarters concerned, he added.

If you subvert the 18th Amendment, we will demand the instrument of parity which was used for Bengal. We would demand more seats in parliament on the basis this principle of parity,” he said, praising Asif Ali Zardari for surrendering president’s powers to dissolve the assembly.

PPP’s Farhatullah Babar mentioned the reported statement of the army chief on the 18th Amendment and said there were apprehensions that the powers given to the marginalised provinces under the 18th Amendment could be reversed. He said the steps that raised eyebrows started in 2015 when Rs100 billion was spared for defence, adding that courts were questioning the 18th Amendment whereas the Constitution did not provide for it. He feared that the 18th Amendment and the NFC Award under it, which had increased provincial allocations, might be bulldozed.

Hasil Bizenjo of the National Party praised Mr Zardari and former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani for the 18th Amendment and said that an earlier such instrument could have prevented dismemberment of Bangladesh.

He said the establishment never accepted the 18th Amendment and claimed that politicians were not left independent. They would have to decide whether they should live under the silent takeover or not. Their silence would eliminate them. They should fight against the takeover on political front. The spaces provided by the 18th Amendment were being quietly encroached upon, he said.

PPP’s former senator Taj Haider wondered if institutions in Pakistan were being replaced by different form of fascism, adding that the slogans of change were hollow and false and those raising them knew that it could not honour their claims.

He said the 18th Amendment provided equal rights to the provinces on oil and gas reserves, but the powers that be were saying that this clause was applicable to new finds which had never been made ever since. There was a mention of federal government’s financial constraints. The share of the provinces in the divisible pool could not be reduced under the 18th Amendment, but it was being said that the president could do it under the Constitution, he added.

We sacrificed many people mainly Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto in our long struggle. We must declare that the gains we have made through the 18th Amendment shall never be compromised,” he said.

Advocate Salman Raja said the establishment’s recent dissatisfaction over the 18th Amendment, court judgements on powers of the Centre and the provinces, attempts to realign jurisdiction of the federal government and the procedure for appointment of superior court judges were significant. These issues were settled in the 18th Amendment but were once again touched upon, he added.

Advocate Akhtar Hussain said the Constitution needed further fine-tuning because it denied equal rights to all citizens. Courts could not make laws, they were to interpret these, he added.

Full report at:



PTI signs MoU to boost ties with Communist Party of China

Ikram Junaidi

October 15, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Pakis­tan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the Communist Party of China have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to strengthen party-to-party relations.

During an event held at the Foreign Office, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Chinese minis­ter Song Tao signed the MoU.

PTI secretary general Arshad Dad, Senator Dr Shahzad Waseem and other party leaders were present on the occasion.

Witnessed MoU signing ceremony between Communist Party of China and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf to further strengthen party to party relations,” Senator Shahzad Waseem tweeted after the event.

Mr Qureshi tweeted: “China is an all weather friend and strategic partner. We start a new chapter in our relations with the signing of an MoU between PTI and the Communist Party of China. A regular exchange of ideas will help both countries and political parties to combat the challenges we face today.

The two parties also agreed to exchange high-level delegations to further understand each other, bring the two nations closer to each other and to address the issues.

Earlier on Saturday, the Chinese delegation visited the PTI secretariat where it was received by Arshad Dad.

Full report at:



Non-Muslims seek facilities for children in schools

October 15, 2018

PESHAWAR: Representatives of various non-Muslim groups have expressed concern over lack of facilities to their children in the educational institutions.

The reservations were expressed at a joint meeting of the minority groups here on Sunday, according to a statement. Prominent among the participants were Bishop Humphrey Sarfraz Peter, All Pakistan Hindus Rights Movement chairman Haroon Sarabdiyal and former Bishop Emanuel Shalmi.

The participants said in the past the children of non-Muslims had the opportunity to avail scholarships, free books and other facilities through the missionary educational institutions but currently the parents had to bear the entire financial burden.

They said in the prevailing situation where price hike was peaking and the people with humble family backgrounds could not afford the increasing educational expenditures it was duty of the missionary educational institutions to continue providing support to the children so they could continue education with peace of mind.

Besides, the participants demanded increase in annual budget for minority groups and spending of funds on the projects in consultation with the minority communities.

Full report at:



Extremist’ Shafiq Mengal allowed to contest by-poll, says BNP-M

Oct 15, 2018

Despite having close links with the notorious terror outfit, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Shafiq Mengal is contesting the October 14 by-elections on Khuzdar’s Balochistan Assembly seat PB-40 — the home constituency of Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal.

Shafiq had contested and lost the July 25 general election on Khuzdar’s National Assembly seat as an independent candidate, but this time, he is competing against BNP-M leader Muhammad Akbar on a provincial assembly seat.

Reacting to the matter, BNP-M chief Akhtar Mengal tweeted, “Sorry to hear that a fanatic extremist thief is allowed to contest elections in this country in my hometown.”

If he wins, he will do way worse than he’s already done,” Mengal warned, adding that Shafiq “stands no chance” if polls are fair.

According to the initial unconfirmed results, BNP-M’s Akbar is leading the PB-40 tally against Shafiq.

Shafiq, who allegedly formed Difa-e-Balochistan outfit, is accused of killing and abducting the workers of Baloch nationalist parties; however, Shafiq denies these accusations.

Shafiq’s name also came to the fore when a mass grave was found in Khuzdar’s Tootak area. According to the BBC, at least 20 eyewitnesses had told a judicial probe that Shafiq was responsible for the coldblooded murder of at least 17 persons, whose bodies were found in the mass grave.

The provincial government had established a judicial tribunal soon after the recovery of the mass grave in Totak area of Khuzdar in January 2014, after Balochistan’s then chief minister Abdul Malik named Shafiq’s death squad for the killings.

The report, however, still needs to be released.

According to a Reuters’ report, a would-be suicide bomber’s confession helped them identify several key militants, including a suicide vest maker and the man who oversees the network – Shafiq Mengal.

Our intelligence shows that he has 500-1,000 militants working under him and is living in the mountains,” a senior police official was quoted as saying.

In 2014, he was booked for alleged involvement in the May 25 attack on Levies check post in Khuzdar district. The assault led to the deaths of eight Balochistan Levies personnel.

Full report at:



Nafees Zakaria likely to be made new high commissioner to UK

Mateen Haider

OCTOBER 15, 2018

Following the removal of Pakistan’s High Commissioner to United Kingdom Sahibzada Ahmed Khan, the Foreign Office (FO) has moved a fresh summary to Prime Minister Imran Khan for the appointment of new envoy to UK, with the name of former spokesperson Nafees Zakaria on the top of the list.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to Germany Johar Saleem, Naghmana Hashmi, ambassador to Belgium, and Foreign Ministry Additional Secretary Zaheer Janjua are also named in the list,” a source privy to the development told Daily Times on Sunday.

Sahibzada Ahmed Khan is currently in London, but he was not allowed to work as the high commissioner that was why he did not accompany Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa during his recent meetings with top British defence officials.

The FO had recommended appointment of Sahibzada Ahmed Khan as Pakistan’s ambassador to Cuba, but the summary was not approved by the government.

Former journalist and analyst Kamran Shafi is currently serving as Pakistan’s ambassador to Cuba. He was appointed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif three years ago 2015 on “political grounds”. His contract had expired in August 2018.

The Pakistan’s Embassy in Havana was opened in 2007. It is a small mission with only two officers – ambassador and another first secretary, who acts as deputy head of the mission. There is no Pakistani community in Havana at all except those students who are studying in various Cuban medical universities.

According to sources, Nafees Zakaria is likely to be appointed new high commissioner to UK given his “good service record”. He had earlier served in the Pakistan High Commission in London as deputy high commissioner. He had also served as the consul general in Toronto and later as spokesperson for the Foreign Office. The final decision will be made by the prime minister on the recommendation of the Foreign Ministry for the new envoy to London.

Full report at:





This Muslim Family is Taking Part in Ramleela for 3 Generations

Oct 15, 2018

Lucknow: Spreading a message of communal harmony, a Muslim family in Lucknow’s Bakshi Ka Talab area has been organising Ramleela during Navaratri since last three generations.

Mohd Sabir Khan, who is the director of the play, has also been taking part in the play since 1972.

This Ramleela was started in 1972 and since then, both Hindus and Muslims have been part of it. I started working on it when I was 13-year-old and since then, I have been a part of it,” Khan said.

Khan, his two sons, and a grandson take part in the play with much zeal every year.

Calling for unity between Hindus and Muslims, Khan said, “God did not divide as Hindu and Muslims. We are all one, as brothers. Above all, we are a human being.”

The nine-day festival of Navaratri began on October 10 and would go on till October 19.

Nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshipped during these days.



Making Dussehra effigies is Muslim artisan’s livelihood

Oct 15, 2018

Ludhiana: Spreading the message of communal harmony, Asgar Ali (48) comes every year to the city all the way from Agra, to prepare the effigies of Ravan, Meghnath, and Kumbhkaran. He is carrying forward the traditional business of his family, which he had started at the age of 26. He has 25 artisans in his group, and he prepares effigies for various management committees not only in Ludhiana, but also for other states.

Talking to TOI, Asgar Ali recalled: “I entered this profession because I liked to prepare effigies, and I loved travelling. This profession gave me a chance to travel across India. I had first of all prepared effigies in 1992 in Shimla, carrying forward the legacy of my father and grandfather.” He said religion was no bar for art and culture, and he had earned his livelihood by making these effigies.

Only politicians spread hatred among people of various religions just to further their selfish aims, but for me, Dussehra is my bread and butter, as I work only for only one month in a year,” he said, adding people should stop believing politicians, and live in love and harmony with each other.

Ali said he had come to Ludhiana for the first time in 2004. Since then, he has been preparing effigies for Daresi ground, Upkar Nagar Dussehra Committee, Hambran Road, Dhandhran Road, and Iskcon Temple. He revealed he was also preparing effigies in Panipat and Chandigarh. Regarding his visits to various places, he said he had travelled across India, as he keeps getting orders from various cities. He said his team had arrived in the city at least one-and-a-half months ago to make the effigies and bring along material from Agra.

Full report at:



Gita, Upanishads kept 'devout Muslim' Suhaib Ilyasi 'strong and positive' in jail

Oct 14, 2018

New Delhi: He made sure he didn't miss out on his daily namaz while in jail but also faithfully read the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads for solace and strength, says former TV anchor Suhaib Ilyasi who was acquitted on charges of murdering his wife this month.

Going from the heights of fame as a pioneer of crime shows in the country with "India's Most Wanted" to finding himself as the accused in one of Delhi's most high-profile murder cases, it has been a rough 18-year ride, said Ilyasi.

A reading of the Hindu scriptures helped see him through the darkest days behind bars in Tihar Jail, added the 52-year-old, who describes himself as a "devout Muslim".

He was sentenced to life imprisonment for stabbing his wife to Anu death in 2000 and was acquitted by the Delhi High Court on October 5, which ruled that it was a case of suicide.

Ilyasi's wife Anju was rushed to a hospital on January 11, 2000 with stab wounds she received at her East Delhi residence. She was declared dead on arrival at the hospital. Her mother and sister filed a case against him.

Though he spent most of the 18 years out on bail with the threat of prison hanging like the proverbial sword of Damocles over his head, a trial court sentenced him on December 20 last year.

Ilyasi moved the high court challenging his conviction and his faith in the judiciary paid off.

"When the trial court pronounced my conviction, for a moment I felt the ground beneath my feet give way. However, I had full faith in the judiciary and was sure that the truth will ultimately prevail.

"But inside the prison, one feels moments of endless wait, of uncertainty and insecurity. It was in those moments that I found solace in the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads," Ilyasi said.

Those were dark days, he recalled, but a reading of the scriptures and his innate faith ensured that his positivity was not overpowered and he "emerged stronger and wiser" from his nine months in captivity.

He recited a verse from the Upanishads and said, "The teachings kept me strong, positive and motivated." He turned into a hardcore vegetarian and shared the teachings of the holy books with his fellow inmates.

"Initially, they were shocked to hear a Musalman reciting Sanskrit 'shlokas' and explaining their meanings. I am happy that I could share the wisdoms of the holy books with them," said Ilyasi, adding that he offers namaz five times a day.

The former investigative journalist, whose father Jameel Ilyasi was the head of the All India Imams Organisation, is writing a book to make the teachings of the Gita and the Upanishads easily understandable.

"I have gained a lot from the teachings of these two scriptures and now I want to make them accessible to common people. I had started working on the project in jail itself," Ilyasi, who also edited the prison's journal 'Shakti Times' during his stay in the jail, said.

"It is a known fact that all religions, including Islam, have drawn inspirations from the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. In today's time, it is all the more important that everybody, irrespective of religion, should know and understand the real meaning of these epic scriptures. This will bring more unity and harmony in society," the founder and editor-in-chief of Bureaucracy Today magazine said.

The entrepreneur has produced various programmes for India TV and Doordarshan, directed and produced films and has a chain of pharmacies and supermarkets.

In 2016, the music launch of his film "Ghar Wapsi", in which Pakistani ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali was making his acting debut, was scrapped following threats from right-wing political parties, including the Shiv Sena.

The various businesses kept him busy through the 18 years but it took a tremendous toll on his personal life, said Ilyasi.

"Not only did I have to fight to prove my innocence, I also had to fight a legal war with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law for my daughter Aaliya's custody? The contention was to take Aaliya's custody on the basis of the murder allegations. However, they were not successful as the honourable court allowed Aaliya to stay with me," he said.

Ilyasi, who has remarried and has a son, nine-year-old Mihran, wants Aaliya, now 21, to host "India's Most Wanted".

He said he is gearing up to re-launch the show, which once dragged fugitive criminals into the police dragnet. The dark days, he said, are behind him. "Nothing can compensate for the time I have lost. There is no point thinking about the past or the unseen future. I have learnt to live in the present.

Full report at:



Rohingya Refugees in India Rattled After First-Ever Deportations

October 14, 2018


The Rohingya camps in India’s Haryana state, adjoining the capital, New Delhi, lie far from the country’s northeast from where Indian authorities deported seven Rohingya men to Myanmar earlier this month. But the first-ever deportations have caused deep worries here of more repatriations of the Muslim minority that fled persecution and violence in Myanmar.

As it takes a tougher stand on illegal immigrants, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government has said it plans to send back the estimated 40,000 Rohingyas living in the country.

They are scattered throughout India, living in dreary camps like the one lying off a dusty road in Haryana’s most underdeveloped district, Mewat.

No complaints in camp

At one such camp, 45 families living in cramped shelters share one water pipe, the children study in a makeshift school and the men sustain their families by working as laborers on construction sites whenever they can find work.

However, nobody complains. The residents say they are willing to cope with the squalor and lack of steady work in these camps that have provided a safe shelter for the last six years from the constant fear they faced in their homeland.

Nobody harasses us in India. If we do some work, we can fend for our food. There is no problem,” said Fatima Hatu, who fled Myanmar with her husband in 2012.

Can they stay?

But the Rohingyas now worry about how long they can call this home. Ali Zohar, who is the informal head of the settlement, fears the deportation of the seven Rohingyas in India’s northeast has cleared the way for more to be sent back.

Zohar, who says he was once a relatively prosperous landowner, is alarmed.

My life has been ruined,” he said. “But what do I do about the future of my children? Will they have to return back? My mind is tired thinking.

Hopes pinned on UN card

Residents in these camps are hoping that refugee cards given by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will protect them from a second displacement; about half the Rohingyas in India are registered with the U.N.

The seven Rohingyas who were deported did not have U.N. cards and had been detained as illegal immigrants.

That is why at an adjoining camp, Sultan Amin, keeps his U.N. card, his most prized possession, locked away. Like many of the Rohingyas living in India, he came from Bangladesh in search of better opportunities and so far the card has given him the freedom to move around and work.

He says his two brothers and mother, who could not leave Myanmar, tell him that they still face harassment, and Amin believes that his life could be at risk if he is repatriated.

I escaped here to save myself,” he said. “How can I go back to be killed?”

Called security threat

India has said, however, that it does not recognize the U.N. refugee cards. Officials say all those who have entered the country without valid permits are illegal immigrants and state authorities have been told to start collecting the biometrics of Rohingyas so that they can be sent back.

New Delhi calls them a security threat and has told the Supreme Court, where the planned repatriations have been challenged, that some Rohingyas could be linked with “Pakistan-based terror organizations and similar organizations operating in other countries.”

So far no member of the Rohingya community has been charged with militant links, according to security experts although they say there are apprehensions that they could be targets for radicalization.

Election plays a role

Political observers say Prime Minister Modi’s Hindu nationalist government’s plan to deport the Rohingya Muslims represents a U-turn on India’s traditionally tolerant policy towards refugees. For example, India is home to tens of thousands of Tibetan refugees.

An independent political analyst in New Delhi, Neerja Chowdhury, links the tougher posture to general elections scheduled in 2019. There have been loud calls from Hindu groups linked to the Bharatiya Janata Party to send back the Rohingyas.

Certainly if the discourse can be polarized on Hindu-Muslim lines, it is advantage BJP,” Chowdhury said.

The refugees say all they want is a patch of land where they can have shelter and where they can eke out a living.

All my relatives and family there (in Myanmar) have been killed. When our country is safe like India and Bangladesh, we will go back,” said 30-year-old Noor Begum at a camp in Mewat.

Full report at:



Kashmiri students at Aligarh Muslim University being harassed: J&K MLA

Oct 14, 2018

Langate MLA Sheikh Abdul Rasheed was detained Sunday for taking out a protest march here in "solidarity" with Kashmiri students of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU)who were booked on sedition charges.

Three Kashmiri students of the university were booked Friday for sedition for allegedly raising "anti-India" slogans and trying to hold a prayer meeting for Hizbul Mujahideen commander Manan Bashir Wani, who was killed in an encounter in north Kashmir Thursday. Rasheed, the MLA from north Kashmir's Langate constituency, along with supporters of his Awami Ittehad Party (AIP) took out a protest march from his official residence at Jawahar Nagar area towards Lal Chowk city centre, a party spokesman said.

He said the protestors were shouting slogans in favour of the students of the AMU "who are being harassed constantly for offering in absentia funeral prayers of Hizb commander Manan Wani".

The spokesman said as the march reached near the Zero Bridge in the Rajbagh area, policemen stopped the protestors and took the AIP chief into custody.

Talking to reporters before the march, Rasheed said offering funeral prayers for anyone, including Wani, was not a crime "but a fundamental religious obligation".

"The AMU administration has filed charges of sedition against Kashmiri students only under pressure from local BJP leaders just to polarise the issue and gain electoral dividends.

"Whatsoever is being attributed to the students is absolutely false and baseless. The AMU is a prestigious institution and the only aim to drag the university into controversies is to interfere in the affairs of the varsity and abolish its Muslim dominated character," he alleged.

The MLA said Kashmiri students "are being targeted only for the reason that they are Kashmiris and being a Kashmiri has become a crime in India".

"Every Kashmiri stands with the students who are being subjected to mental torture and harassment not only at the AMU but everywhere in India.

Full report at:



Navjot Singh Sidhu should join Imran Khan’s Cabinet, says BJP

October 15, 2018

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra Sunday took a dig at Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, saying he should get himself inducted in Pakistan government’s Cabinet as he repeatedly professes love for the neighbouring country. “The kind of love he (Sidhu) exudes for Pakistan, the only advice which we can give is Sidhu please proceed to become a part of Imran Khan’s cabinet,” Patra was quoted by PTI as saying.

At the Khushwant Singh Literature Festival in Kasauli last week, Sidhu drew an analogy between visiting Pakistan versus south India. The minister implied that Pakistan culture is more similar and familiar to Punjab than south India.

He said when he travels to South India, “I can’t understand the language, it’s just one or two words. Not that I don’t like the food, but I cannot have it for a long time, the culture is totally different.”

On the contrary, the Congress minister said, “When I go to Pakistan, the language is the same, like you know, when you abuse in English 10 times, one abuse in Punjabi overpowers all.

Patra said this is the “conspiracy” of the Congress government to divide the nation of the lines of north and south regions of the country.

It depicts his mentality to divide north and south India and that is a strategy being followed by the whole of Congress,” he added.

Full report at:



1,200 Kashmiri students in Aligarh Muslim University threaten to return home on October 17

Oct 15, 2018

Kashmiri students studying in Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) have threatened to leave for their homes on October 17, if the sedition charges against three of them are not dropped.

In a letter to AMU vice-chancellor, AMU students union former vice-president Sajjad Rathar said, “If this vilification does not stop, more than 1,200 Kashmiri students will leave for their homes in the Kashmir Valley on October 17 as a last option.

Terming the slapping of sedition charges as “vendetta”, Rathar said, “The option of holding Namaaz-e-Janaza (prayer meeting) in absentia was dropped after the AMU authorities did not give the permission.

If no prayer meeting was held as confirmed by all official agencies, the slapping a case of sedition against three Kashmiri students is simply a vendetta, harassment and denial of justice,” he said.

The letter was handed over to AMU Proctor Mohsin Khan in presence of large number of Kashmiri students at his office on Saturday night.

AMU spokesman Shafay Kidwai, however, denied the Kashmiri students’ charges of harassment and stressed that “no innocent would be framed”. Prof Kidwai also made it clear that “there is zero tolerance for any anti-national activity on AMU campus”.

Three Kashmiri students of AMU were booked on sedition charges for allegedly for raising “anti-India” slogans and trying to hold a prayer meeting for Hizbul Mujahideen commander Manan Bashir Wani on October 12 (Friday).

Twenty seven-year-old Wani, pursing a PhD course in Allied Geology at the AMU, had quit the university and joined militant ranks in January this year. He was killed in an encounter at Shatgund village in Handwara area of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district on Thursday.

Aligarh’s senior superintendent of police Ajai Sahni said police took the action (on October 12) after a video surfaced, showing the three Kashmiri students raising “anti-India” slogans.

Prof Kidwai said show cause notices have been issued to nine students for trying to hold an unauthorised gathering Thursday. “A three-member inquiry committee has been set up to probe the incident. It will submit a report in the next 72 hours,” he said.

The three students were suspended from the AMU earlier.

Some AMU students from Kashmir had on Thursday (October 11) gathered near Kennedy Hall on the campus to hold funeral prayers for Wani, following which the varsity staff and the students union leaders had rushed to the spot and tried to stop them.

A heated exchange erupted between the students union leaders and the Kashmiri students and they finally moved out of the area, Kidwai said, adding three Kashmiri students were suspended for trying to hold the “unlawful” gathering.

He said the university has made it clear that it has a zero tolerance policy for any act which could even remotely be described as anti-national.

AMUSU president Faizul Hasan had told PTI that he had always championed the cause of freedom of speech but any act of treason or terror was unacceptable to the students’ union.

He said they will not allow the university to be defamed by any person who indulges in such unlawful activity.

BJP lawmaker from Aligarh, Satish Gautam said those who tried to hold a prayer meeting for Wani on the AMU campus should be expelled.

Kashmir MLAdetained for holding protest in solidarity with AMU students

Langate MLA Sheikh Abdul Rasheed was detained on Sunday for taking out a protest march here in “solidarity” with Kashmiri students of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), who were booked on sedition charges.

Talking to reporters before the march, Rasheed said offering funeral prayers for anyone, including Wani, was not a crime “but a fundamental religious obligation”.

The AMU administration has filed charges of sedition against Kashmiri students only under pressure from local BJP leaders just to polarise the issue and gain electoral dividends. Whatsoever is being attributed to the students is absolutely false and baseless,” he alleged.

The MLA said Kashmiri students “are being targeted only for the reason that they are Kashmiris and being a Kashmiri has become a crime in India”.

Full report at:



Hyderabad: Mecca Masjid blast case judge joins Telangana Jana Samithi

October 15, 2018

Former judge K Ravinder Reddy, who delivered the Mecca Masjid blast case verdict and resigned immediately, has joined the Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) led by Prof B Kodandaram. Reddy was judge of NIA court and had resigned after acquitting all five accused in the Mecca Masjid blast case on April 16 this year.

Another former judge S Srinivas Reddy also joined the TJS, which has joined the Congress-TDP-CPI alliance in Telangana for the next Assembly polls.

According to sources, Ravinder Reddy had earlier met BJP leaders and expressed his interest in joining the party, but when there was no communication from the BJP after two rounds of meetings, he met Kodandaram who welcomed him into the TJS.

Ravinder Reddy may contest in the forthcoming elections, TJS sources said. Ravinder Reddy, who was president of Telangana Judicial Officers Association, had led a protest against judges from Andhra Pradesh origin continuing in the High Court at Hyderabad even after bifurcation of the state.

The Supreme Court had to intervene as the revolt halted all work and he was suspended along with 10 other judges but were reinstated a month later.

Full report at:



South Asia


Rohingya crisis: Myanmar monk hits back at international community

October 15, 2018

An ultra-nationalist monk -- dubbed the "Buddhist Bin Laden" -- on Sunday condemned the international community for their calls to bring Myanmar's generals to justice over the Rohingya crisis.

Firebrand monk Wirathu, known as the face of Myanmar's Buddhist nationalist movement, was speaking at a pro-military rally that attracted hundreds of supporters, his first since being barred from giving public sermons last year.

The ban, which ended in March, was issued by a council of senior monks who said Wirathu had "repeatedly delivered hate speech against religions to cause communal strife".

The hate speech he espouses -- which includes calling the Rohingya Muslim minority "Bengali" in an attempt to delegitimize their identity as being from Myanmar -- has also caused Facebook to ban him from their platform.

The hardline abbot on Sunday reverted to his signature rhetoric at the rally to protest calls for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Myanmar's generals for genocide and crimes against humanity against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

"The day when the ICC comes the day that Wirathu holds a gun," he said in a speech that often referred to himself in the third person.

He lauded China and Russia in the UN Security Council as "nationalist giants who stand with the truth" in their role of preventing any firm action against Myanmar.

"Don't lie to the world saying that Bengalis are Rohingya because you want to promote Islamisation in Myanmar," Wirathu said. "Don't destroy our country by creating a fake ethnic group."

genocide charges: US

The military has said their brutal crackdown -- which led to more than 720,000 Rohingya fleeing across the border carrying accounts of rape, arson and murder -- was warranted for combatting terrorism.

While much of the world has regarded the unfolding Rohingya crisis with horror, the majority of people within Myanmar side with the military as the Muslim minority group is widely detested.

The supporters showed up in force at Sunday's march, with hundreds gathering in front of downtown Yangon's iconic Sule Pagoda carrying giant portraits of army chief General Min Aung Hlaing, who UN investigators say is the most responsible.

"We can't stand the bullying of the army chief and the Tatmadaw by the international community," said protester Khine Thet Mar, 46, using the Myanmar name for the military.

The UN Human Rights Council voted last month to prepare for criminal indictments over the atrocities in Myanmar.

Min Aung Hlaing has remained defiant in the face of international pressure, saying that no country, organisation or group has the "right to interfere in" Myanmar's sovereignty.



Taliban attack Afghan army base, killing 17 soldiers

October 14, 2018

KABUL, Afghanistan: Afghan officials say the Taliban have attacked an army base, killing 17 Afghan soldiers and abducting 11 others.

Ghausuddin Noorzai, the district chief in Pusht Rod, in the western Farah province, says another four soldiers were wounded in the attack, which began late Saturday and continued into Sunday morning.

He says the Taliban also overran two checkpoints near the base, seizing weapons and ammunition.

Abdul Samad Salehi, a member of the provincial council in Farah, confirmed the death toll and said the troops defending the base received no air support or reinforcements.

Full report at:



Clash erupts among Afghan, Pak borders forces along the Durand Line

Oct 14 2018

A clash erupted among the Afghan and Pakistani borders along the Durand Line close to Spin Boldak district of southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan on Sunday.

According to the local officials, the latest clash has erupted in Saro Sahan area located between Spin Boldak and Shorabak districts.

The officials further added that clash has erupted due to the circumstances surrounding the fencing works by the Pakistani forces along the Durand Line.

Reports received from the area of the incident suggest that sporadic clashes still continue between the two sides.

The Commander of the 4th Brigade of the Border Forces in Kandahar Colonel Aminullah confirms that a clash has erupted between the two sides close to Spin Bodak district along the Durand Line.

Full report at:



Taliban agrees to continue talks with US

Oct 13, 2018

Afghan militant group Taliban have announced they will continue the so-called peace talks with the United States, insisting however that no tangible agreement has been reached in a first round of meeting in the Qatari capital of Doha.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement on Saturday that continuing with the talks was mutually agreed in the Doha meeting a day earlier between representatives of the group and delegation led by veteran US diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad.

Both sides spoke (about) an end to the occupation and a peaceful solution to the Afghan issue ... Both sides agreed to continue meeting in the future,” said Mujahid, without elaborating.

Other Taliban sources described the Friday discussions as “detailed”, saying head of Taliban’s Qatar office Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, led the group’s delegation to the talks.

It was an introductory meeting in which an eight-member US delegation held a detailed meeting with members of our political office,” a senior Taliban member said.

Another Taliban official, requesting anonymity, said the talks were focused on US military presence in Afghanistan, which the militants say is a main impediment to peace.

It said Khalilzad, an Afghan-born US diplomat and a former Washington envoy to Kabul, had requested a six-month ceasefire to be announced by the Taliban before parliamentary polls on October 20.

A Taliban source said the group asked in return for a mechanism that would lead to the release of militants from Afghan jails.

Neither side agreed to accept the other’s demands immediately, but they agreed to meet again and find a solution to the conflict,” said the source, adding that Khalilzad had called for the formation of special committees that could facilitate the release of prisoners.

Reports said Khalilzad was in Kabul on Saturday to brief Afghan President Ashraf Ghani about his 10-day tour of four countries, namely Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, that could play a role in peace efforts on Afghanistan.

However, Washington, which appointed Khalilzad special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, did not confirm his meeting with the Taliban in Doha. It only said in a statement that “All citizens of Afghanistan must be a part of this reconciliation process”, clearly a sign that Washington was approving of the talks with a group that has been its main enemy in Afghanistan for the past 17 years.

The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to topple a government led by the Taliban. The administration of US President Donald Trump is struggling to find a way out of the costly conflict as the Taliban has managed to reassert itself in several provinces by taking control of key areas.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Allowing beer fest ‘as sinful’ as drinking beer, Perak mufti claims

15 October 2018

By Zurairi AR

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 15 ― Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria has warned authorities against allowing beer festivals, amid the regular annual backlash by Muslims against Oktoberfest events this month.

The mufti told Malay daily Sinar Harian that assisting the consumption of alcohol, such as allowing beer festivals, is just “as sinful” as drinking it.

The government cannot give permission, that is against the Constitution. They have to understand that. Beer festivals cannot be allowed because the Constitution says that Islam is the religion of the federation,” he was quoted saying.

He had also told non-Muslims to “respect all Islamic codes”, again citing Islam’s position in the Constitution.

Despite Harussani’s assertion, Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution also says that “other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the federation”, and does not mean that non-Muslims are subject to Islamic laws.

Article 3(4) also states that the provision of Islam as the religion of the federation does not derogate from any other provision, such as the freedom of assembly and other civil liberties of citizens.

[If this permission is given] it’s the same as drinking beer then saying ‘I’m not drinking beer’, because allowing [beer festivals] is subject to same code as drinking.

When it comes to drinking beer, those who buy, helping to buy or showing where to buy, the sin is the same as drinking. Beer is the biggest of vice,” the mufti was quoted saying.

The report did not indicate if he elaborated on Islamic scriptures or arguments to back his assertion.

Islamists regularly bring up Oktoberfest every year, and previous iterations of the event were banned following complaints.

The new Pakatan Harapan government has removed such restrictions, with authorities now saying such events may proceed so long as they are not ostentatious and remained clearly prohibited to Muslims.



Malaysia releases 11 ethnic Uighur Muslims, says they did nothing wrong

15 Oct 2018

Malaysia freed 11 ethnic Uighur Muslims who fled to the Southeast Asian nation after a Thai jailbreak last year because they did nothing wrong there, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Monday.

Reuters, citing the men's lawyer, reported last week that Malaysia had released the 11 from detention and sent them to Turkey, disregarding China's request to hand them to Beijing.

"They have done nothing wrong in this country, so they are released," Mahathir said in brief comments to reporters in parliament, the first from the Malaysian government since their release.

Malaysia's move was likely to strain ties with China, which have already been tested since Mahathir won a stunning election victory in May and cancelled more than $20 billion worth of projects awarded to Chinese companies.

China, which had asked for their extradition, said on Friday that it "resolutely" opposed Malaysia's decision to release the 11 Uighurs and send them to Turkey.

Prosecutors in Muslim-majority Malaysia dropped charges against the Uighurs on humanitarian grounds, their lawyer said.

The men were detained and charged with illegally entering Malaysia after November's daring prison break, during which they punched holes in a prison wall and used blankets as ladders.

Reuters reported in February that Malaysia was under great pressure from China to send the men there. Some Western missions sought to dissuade Kuala Lumpur from sending them to China, which has been accused of persecuting Uighurs.

Beijing accuses separatist extremists among the Uighur minority of plotting attacks on China's Han majority in the restive far western region of Xinjiang and elsewhere.

China has been accused of rights abuses in Xinjiang, torture of Uighur detainees and tight controls on their religion and culture. It denies wrongdoing.

Full report at:



Malaysian leader in waiting Anwar in triumphant return to parliament

October 15, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Malaysia's leader in waiting Anwar Ibrahim returned to parliament as a lawmaker on Monday, October 15, and vowed to give former nemesis Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad space to get on with running the country.

MPs applauded as Anwar took the oath of office following his weekend local election victory, a sight that would have been unthinkable just months ago when he was an opposition leader languishing behind bars.

The former deputy premier's remarkable political resurrection was triggered by his alliance's shock election victory in May, which toppled a corruption-riddled coalition that had ruled Malaysia for six decades.

Following the triumph, Anwar was pardoned and released from jail, where had been imprisoned since 2015 on widely criticised sodomy charges, and is now the presumptive successor to the country's leadership.

Mahathir, 93, has pledged to hand power to Anwar within two years. The deal was struck when the pair, whose up-and-down relationship has long loomed over Malaysian politics, formed an unlikely alliance to take on the government of Najib Razak.

Anwar needed to be elected as an MP again to succeed Mahathir, and he cruised to a thumping victory in Saturday's poll in Port Dickson, where his opponents included a former aide whose sodomy accusations landed him in jail.

It is the first time that Mahathir – who, during a first stint as premier, sacked Anwar and had him thrown in jail – and his former foe have been in the same government since the 1990s.

Anwar, wearing a traditional black Muslim cap, brushed aside questions about when he will become premier, and insisted he would let Mahathir have "the space, the latitude" to get on with governing.

"That's very important because some of the decisions that have to be made by the prime minister and the cabinet are key, fundamental decisions of policy," the 71-year-old told reporters.

He also insisted he would not take up a cabinet position.

Full report at:



Indonesian Professor Predicts Growth of Indonesia’s Influence on Islam

October 15, 2018

Indonesia has the potential to become a leader in the global Islamic community, University professor of Indonesian society and culture Bernard Adeney-Risakotta said at an event Oct. 2 in the Intercultural Center.

The discussion, hosted by the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, centered on religion and democracy in Indonesia. Adeney-Risakotta spoke about his new book, “Living in a Sacred Cosmos: Indonesia and the Future of Islam,” which was published in August and addresses the future of Islam in Indonesia. John Esposito, School of Foreign Service professor and founding director of the center, moderated the event.

Indonesia will likely influence Islamic discourse in the future because of the country’s emphasis on preserving Islamic tradition, Adeney-Risakotta said.

As time goes by, Indonesia is going to have a greater and greater influence on Islam and on the rest of the world, because Indonesians — many Indonesians — are not ashamed of Indonesian Islam. If anything, they think it’s superior to Middle Eastern Islam,” Adeney-Risakotta said. “They do not think that Islam needs to be cleansed from all traditions and cultural expressions. They think that it needs to be preserved and strengthened.

A rising tide of radicalism is reshaping Indonesian Islam, according to Adeney-Risakotta.

There’s a lot of people who are very concerned about what is happening,” Adeney-Risakotta said. “There has been a rise, an increase in radicalism, increase in polarization, increase in certain kinds of oppression.”

Western intellectuals’ focus on the radical elements of Indonesian Islam obscure the more secular parts of Indonesian society, according to Adeney-Risakotta.

I think most Western scholars and most Indonesianists, even Indonesian Indonesianists, very often focus on the rise of radicalism, the rise of intolerance, the rise of conservative Islam in Indonesia and the eclipse of what used to be called the Abangan, or the […] less observant Muslims in Indonesia,” Adeney-Risakotta said. “And I think the focus on that may be really hiding some things that are extremely important for us to pay attention to.

Indonesia has historically welcomed and tolerated religious diversity because of its multireligious and multiethnic population, Adeney-Riskotta said.

It was a crossroads for people from all over, and while Europeans powers fought with each other constantly, Indonesia depended on trade — being 17,000 islands, it depended on trade — and so it developed a long tradition of tolerance,” Adeney-Riskotta said.

Still, Indonesia remains culturally separate from what Adeney-Risakotta labels the world’s four “Axial civilizations” — China, India, the Middle East and the West — despite these civilizations’ influences on Indonesia’s history, according to Adeney-Risakotta.

The four Axial civilizations that laid the foundation for the modern world are all deeply a part of Indonesia, but Indonesia has not become one with any of them,” Adeney-Risakotta said. “It’s not part of China, it’s not part of the Sinosphere, it’s not part of India, even though it was called the Dutch East Indies, it’s not part of Europe and it’s not part of the Middle East. It’s its own creation, which has, I think, something to offer to the rest of the world.”

Full report at:



Arab World


Arab, Muslim leaders voice solidarity with Saudi Arabia

15 October 2018

Arab and Muslim leaders expressed on Sunday, solidarity with Saudi Arabia, affirming its leading role in establishing security, stability, peace and enhancing economic cooperation in the region and the world.

These stances come on the heels of the systematic media campaign, which carries false accusations to undermine the reputation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its international standing on the backdrop of the disappearance of Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, Turkey on October, 2.

The Arab League

An official source at the Arab League has confirmed the league’s rejection of any threat or attempts to impose sanctions, or using political pressures on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) welcomed the statement by the official Saudi source, who affirmed Saudi Arabia's total rejection of “any threats and attempts to undermine them, whether by threatening economic sanctions, using political pressure or repeating false accusations that will not harm the Kingdom and its staunch and Arab stances.


The Jordanian government has affirmed the central role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its leading role in establishing security, stability and peace and enhancing economic cooperation in the region and the world.

Information Minister Jumana Ghunaimat said in a press statement today that Jordan stands with Saudi Arabia in the face of any rumors and campaigns aimed at it without relying on facts.

She stressed Jordan’s support for the Saudi position on the necessity of giving reason and wisdom to the search for the truth, stressing the strong strategic relations between the two kingdoms and Jordan’s rejection of any targeting of the Kingdom and its role and status in the Arab and Islamic worlds and the world as a whole.

United Arab Emirates

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates, affirmed the solidarity of the United Arab Emirates with Saudi Arabia against anyone trying to compromise its position and its regional status.

He expressed the UAE’s total rejection of all attempts that would harm Saudi Arabia’s fundamental role in establishing regional security and peace and the kingdom’s Arab, Islamic and international reputation.

He expressed his deep appreciation for the high standing and leadership of Saudi Arabia; praised its position as a major force to ensure the security and stability of the Arab and Islamic worlds and the region as a whole and praised its positive role in all its initiatives and constructive policies that contribute to regional and international security and development.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan stressed that the UAE’s stance on the side of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in good and bad stems from the bonds of sincere brotherhood and deep-rooted affection, stressing that the politicized and vicious campaign against the Kingdom ignores the rational and constructive orientations of the Kingdom’s policies and that this incitement and coordination among the parties to this campaign will not succeed and will not be able to undermine the central position of the Kingdom in the region and its main role in the axis of rationality and moderation.


The Spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt Ahmed Hafez said “Egypt also warns against trying to exploit this issue (Jamal Khashoggi’s case) politically against Saudi Arabia on arbitrary charges, and affirms its support for the Kingdom in its efforts and positions to deal with this event.”

The Arab Parliament

The Speaker of the Arab Parliament Dr. Mishaal bin Fahm Al-Salami has affirmed his full solidarity with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against the systematic media campaign, which carries false accusations to undermine the reputation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its international standing on the backdrop of the disappearance of Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi.

In a statement issued today, the speaker said that all the media must adhere to professionalism, take responsibility, play a positive role, verify the facts, wait for the results of the investigation, and not follow the malicious plans of the enemies that aims at undermining the reputation and status of a major Arab state.

At the same time, the speaker praised the role of responsible media to contribute to the transfer of facts as they are.

The Speaker of the Arab Parliament also highly praised Saudi Arabia’s keenness to reveal the truth and set up a joint Saudi-Turkish team of specialists to investigate the circumstances of the disappearance of Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.


Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri expressed his solidarity with Saudi Arabia in the face of the campaigns that target it.

The position occupied by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Arab and international societies puts it in the ranks of the central countries entrusted with the stability of the region and in support of Arab issues,” he said in a press statement.

He added that the campaigns against it constitute a breach of this stability and a rejected call to drag the region towards further negative developments.

The Sultanate of Oman

The Sultanate of Oman has confirmed its support for the efforts of Saudi Arabia to clarify the truth regarding the disappearance of the Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi, calling for verification before issuing any judgements.

The Sultanate’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, “Based on the strong brotherly relations between the Sultanate and its sister Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate has followed with interest the statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia. The Sultanate supports the Kingdom in its efforts to clarify the truth, and verification before any hasty, prior judgments are made.


The Republic of Yemen affirmed its stance and full solidarity with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against all those who attempt to undermine it, declaring its total rejection of any attempt to breach the sovereignty and position of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


The Republic of Djibouti expressed its full solidarity with the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against all those who seek to undermine it and to deprive it of its sovereignty and high status which is the cornerstone of the security and stability of the Arab and Islamic worlds.

The Republic of Djibouti condemned the media campaign against Saudi Arabia and at the same time reiterated its firm stand on the kingdom’s policies and its efforts to consolidate peace and promote prosperity at the regional and international levels.


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday expressed his appreciation of “the firm stand taken by Saudi Arabia, which has always stood by our just causes and the rights of our people.”

Kingdom of Bahrain

Bahrain reaffirmed in a statement on Sunday its solidarity with Saudi Arabia against those who try to undermine or harm it. Bahrain strongly rejected any attempts to undermine the kingdom’s policies, standing and sovereignty and expressed its respect for the high status of Saudi Arabia.



For Khashoggi, a Tangled Mix of Royal Service and Islamist Sympathies

Oct. 14, 2018

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Jamal Khashoggi landed in Washington last fall, leaving behind a long list of bad news back home.

After a successful career as an adviser to and unofficial spokesman for the royal family of Saudi Arabia, he had been barred from writing in the kingdom, even on Twitter, by the new crown prince. His column in a Saudi-owned Arab newspaper was canceled. His marriage was collapsing. His relatives had been forbidden to travel to pressure him to stop criticizing the kingdom’s rulers.

Then, after he arrived in the United States, a wave of arrests put a number of his Saudi friends behind bars, and he made his difficult decision: It was too dangerous to return home anytime soon — and maybe forever.

So in the United States, he reinvented himself as a critic, contributing columns to The Washington Post and believing he had found safety in the West.

But as turned out, the West’s protection extended only so far.

Mr. Khashoggi was last seen on Oct. 2 entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, where he needed to pick up a document for his wedding. There, Turkish officials say, a team of Saudi agents killed and dismembered him.

Saudi officials have denied harming Mr. Khashoggi, but nearly two weeks after his disappearance, they have failed to provide evidence that he left the consulate and have offered no credible account of what happened to him.

His disappearance has opened a rift between Washington and Saudi Arabia, the chief Arab ally of the Trump administration. And it has badly damaged the reputation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 33-year-old power behind the Saudi throne, who this time may have gone too far for even for his staunchest supporters in the West.

The possibility that the young prince ordered a hit on a dissident poses challenges for President Trump and may turn once warm relationships toxic. It could convince those governments and corporations that had overlooked the prince’s destructive military campaign in Yemen, his kidnapping of the Lebanese prime minister and his waves of arrests of clerics, businessmen and fellow princes that he is a ruthless autocrat who will stop at nothing to get his enemies.

While the disappearance has cast a harsh new light on the crown prince, it has also brought attention to the tangled sympathies throughout Mr. Khashoggi’s career, where he balanced what appears to have been a private affinity for democracy and political Islam with his long service to the royal family.

His attraction to political Islam helped him forge a personal bond with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who is now demanding that Saudi Arabia explain his friend’s fate.

The idea of self-exile in the West was a blow for Mr. Khashoggi, 60, who had worked as a reporter, commentator and editor to become one of the kingdom’s best known personalities. He first drew international attention for interviewing a young Osama bin Laden and later became well-known as a confidant of kings and princes.

His career left him extraordinarily well-connected, and the tall, gregarious, easygoing man seemed to know everyone who had anything to do with Saudi Arabia over the last three decades.

But settling in Washington had advantages. A friend invited him for Thanksgiving last year and he shared a photo of himself at dinner with his 1.7 million Twitter followers, tucking into turkey and yams.

When his turn came to share what he was thankful for, he said: “Because I have become free, and I can write freely.”

According to interviews with dozens of people who knew Mr. Khashoggi and his relationship with the Saudi leadership, it was his penchant for writing freely, and his organizing to push for political reform from abroad, that put him on a collision course with the crown prince.

While Saudi Arabia has long been ruled according to the consensus of senior princes, Crown Prince Mohammed has dismantled that system, leaving his own power largely unchecked. If a decision was taken to silence a perceived traitor, it likely would have been his.

Osama, Adnan and the Muslim Brotherhood

Mr. Khashoggi’s first claim to fame was his acquaintance with Osama bin Laden. Mr. Khashoggi had spent time in Jidda, Bin Laden’s hometown, and, like Bin Laden, he came from a prominent nonroyal family. Mr. Khashoggi’s grandfather was a doctor who had treated Saudi Arabia’s first king. His uncle was Adnan Khashoggi, a famous arms dealer, although Jamal Khashoggi did not benefit from his uncle’s wealth.

Mr. Khashoggi studied at Indiana State University and returned to Saudi Arabia to report for an English-language newspaper. Several of his friends say that early on Mr. Khashoggi also joined the Muslim Brotherhood.

Although he later stopped attending meetings of the Brotherhood, he remained conversant in its conservative, Islamist and often anti-Western rhetoric, which he could deploy or hide depending on whom he was seeking to befriend.

His newspaper colleagues recalled him as friendly, thoughtful and devout. He often led communal prayers in the newsroom, recalled Shahid Raza Burney, an Indian editor who worked with him.

Like many Saudis in the 1980s, Mr. Khashoggi cheered for the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan, which was supported by the C.I.A. and Saudi Arabia. So when he got an invitation to see it for himself from another young Saudi, Bin Laden, Mr. Khashoggi jumped at the chance.

In Afghanistan, Mr. Khashoggi wore local dress and had his photo taken holding an assault rifle, much to his editors’ chagrin. But it does not appear that he actually fought while on assignment there.

He was there as a journalist first and foremost, admittedly as someone sympathetic to the Afghan jihad, but so were most Arab journalists at the time — and many Western journalists,” said Thomas Hegghammer, a Norwegian researcher who interviewed Mr. Khashoggi about his time in Afghanistan.

His colleagues concurred.

To say that Jamal was some kind of an extremist is all lies,” said Mr. Burney, now a newspaper editor in India.

But the war’s failure to put Afghanistan on sound footing haunted Mr. Khashoggi, as did Bin Laden’s later turn to terrorism.

He was disappointed that after all that struggle, the Afghans never got together,” said a Saudi friend of Mr. Khashoggi’s who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Mr. Khashoggi’s trips to Afghanistan and his relationship with Prince Turki al-Faisal, who headed Saudi intelligence, made some of Mr. Khashoggi’s friends suspect he was also spying for the Saudi government.

Years later, after American commandos killed Bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011, Mr. Khashoggi mourned his old acquaintance and what he had become.

I collapsed crying a while ago, heartbroken for you Abu Abdullah,” Mr. Khashoggi wrote on Twitter, using Bin Laden’s nickname. “You were beautiful and brave in those beautiful days in Afghanistan, before you surrendered to hatred and passion.

From Reporter to Royal Insider

As his journalism career took off, Mr. Khashoggi reported from Algeria and drove into Kuwait during the first Gulf War. He climbed the ladder of the kingdom’s media world, where princes own newspapers, content is censored and scandals involving royals are buried.

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he blasted the conspiracy theories common in the Arab world, writing that the hijacked planes “also attacked Islam as a faith and the values of tolerance and coexistence that it preaches.

He was named editor of the Saudi newspaper Al Watan in 2003, but fired less than two months later over an article blaming an esteemed Islamic scholar for teachings used to justify attacks on non-Muslims. He was reinstated in 2007 and lasted a bit longer in his second tenure.

He traveled with King Abdullah and grew close to Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the billionaire investor, who was later arrested by Crown Prince Mohammed. Prince Turki, the former intelligence chief, hired Mr. Khashoggi as an adviser when he served as ambassador to Britain and the United States.

It was during his time there that Mr. Khashoggi bought the condo in McLean, Va., where he would live after fleeing the kingdom.

Backing Uprisings Abroad, Reforms at Home

Many of Mr. Khashoggi’s friends say that throughout his career of service to the monarchy, he hid his personal leanings in favor of both electoral democracy and Muslim Brotherhood-style political Islam.

When a military coup in Algeria in 1992 dashed the hopes of an Islamist political party to win control of the Parliament there, Mr. Khashoggi quietly teamed up with an Islamist friend in London to start an organization called “The Friends of Democracy in Algeria.”

The group took out advertisements in newspapers in Britain before its parliamentary elections that read, “When you go to cast your vote, remember that this is a bounty many people around the world are denied, including Algerians,” recalled his friend, Azzam Tamimi, who acted as the public face of the effort and hid Mr. Khashoggi’s role.

By the time he reached his 50s, Mr. Khashoggi‘s relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood was ambiguous. Several Muslim Brothers said this week that they always felt he was with them. Many of his secular friends would not have believed it.

Mr. Khashoggi never called for more than gradual reforms to the Saudi monarchy, eventually supporting its military interventions to deter what the Saudis considered Iranian influence in Bahrain and Yemen. But he was enthusiastic about the uprisings that broke out across much of the Arab world in 2011.

Like the Afghan jihad before them, however, the movements of the Arab Spring disappointed him as they collapsed into violence and as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates used their wealth to crush opposition and bolster autocrats.

He never liked that Saudi Arabia used their policies accelerating the crackdown around the region,” said Sigurd Neubauer, a Middle East analyst in Washington who knew Mr. Khashoggi.

The kingdom’s tolerance for even minimal criticism faded after King Salman ascended to the throne in 2015 and gave tremendous power to his son, Mohammed, the crown prince known informally by his initials as M.B.S.

The young prince announced a program to diversify the economy and loosened social structures, including by granting women the right to drive.

Mr. Khashoggi applauded those moves, but chaffed at the authoritarian way the prince wielded power. When Mr. Khashoggi criticized Mr. Trump after his election, for example, Saudi officials forbade him to speak, fearing he would harm their relationship with the new administration.

Crown Prince Mohammed went after his critics with all his power, barring them from travel and throwing some in jail. Mr. Khashoggi left the kingdom last year, before scores of his friends were rounded up and hundreds of prominent Saudis were locked in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton on accusations of corruption. A number of them, including at least two sons of former kings, are still detained.

Mr. Khashoggi began contributing columns to The Washington Post, comparing Crown Prince Mohammed to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. Mr. Khashoggi’s friends assumed such writing landed him on the prince’s blacklist.

Mohammed bin Salman had been paying millions of dollars to create a certain image of himself, and Jamal Khashoggi was destroying all of it with just a few words,” said Mr. Tamimi, the friend. “The crown prince must have been furious.”

But Mr. Khashoggi didn’t stop.

He was planning to start a website to publish translated reports about the economies of Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, where he felt many people did not understand the scale of corruption or the limited future of the oil wealth.

He was also founding an organization called Democracy in the Arab World Now, or DAWN, an advocacy group. Mr. Khashoggi was trying to secure funding and set up a board when he disappeared, friends said.

Receiving an award in April from the Islamist-leaning Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, Mr. Khashoggi said democracy was under attack across the Arab world by radical Islamists, authoritarians and elites who feared that popular participation would bring chaos. Power sharing, he said, was the only way to stop civil wars and ensure better governance.

Crown Prince Mohammed “is investing hundreds of billions of dollars into future projects and he’s doing that depending on his own ability to judge and the ability of a small circle of advisers,” Mr. Khashoggi said. “Is that enough? No, it is not enough.

Since his move to Washington, representatives of Crown Prince Mohammed had contacted him repeatedly, asking him to tone down his criticisms and inviting him to come home, he told friends.

But he was building a new life. He and a Turkish researcher, Hatice Cengiz, had decided to marry and set up a new home in Istanbul.

Full report at:



Provocation of Kingdom means the provocation of millions of Muslims,’ says Muslim World League chief

October 15, 2018

JEDDAH: The Muslim World League (MWL) has condemned all attempts to target Saudi Arabia’s international and Islamic leading position through suggesting economic sanctions, political pressure, and false accusations.

The League stressed that the Kingdom has a long history in international peace and cooperation, confirming its leading position in many fields that serve international peace.

MWL Secretary-General Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa said in a statement that Saudi Arabia’s position did not happen overnight but has been earned through dozens of international initiatives targeting international peace and security.

He emphasized his rejection of all threats and attempts to undermine the Kingdom and said: “Saudi Arabia’s status in the Arab and Muslim worlds played a pivotal and historic role in achieving security, stability, and prosperity in the world.

Saudi Arabia has led efforts to combat terrorism and extremism, strengthen economic cooperation, and consolidate peace and stability in the region and the world.

Al-Issa highlighted that the Kingdom occupies a great position in the Arab and Muslim world, and its power and influence are invulnerable to defamation attempts, no matter what measures are taken.

He said: “What Saudi Arabia is facing not only targets its stability but also threatens international stability in all its political and economic aspects.

He pointed out that the Kingdom’s political and economic status obliges the wise people of the world to trust it and its policies, which have proved to be insightful and wise.

The MML chief added: “The provocation of Saudi Arabia means the provocation of the feelings of hundreds of millions of Muslims who stand by the Kingdom out of their belief in its efficient care for Islamic sanctities and its competency in performing its duties toward its nation.

MWL has the full support of the leaders of Islamic action around the world in the face of deceit and lies. They have pledged their willingness to be on the Kingdom’s side as they believe in the sanctity of their stance and are aware of the malicious objectives of everyone who is seeking nefarious purposes and trying amidst the disappearance of their dreams, to give up their values.

In its statement, the League hailed Saudi Arabia’s efforts to achieve security, stability, and prosperity in the region and the world, leading efforts to combat extremism and terrorism, strengthening economic cooperation, and consolidating peace and stability in the region and the world.

MWL also highlighted the Kingdom’s special status as the heliport of revelation and the Qibla of all Muslims.

Full report at:



Tahrir Al-Sham Drives Rival Terrorists from More Positions in Northwestern Syria

Oct 14, 2018

Tahrir al-Sham launched a heavy offensive against Kata'eb Ansra al-Sham in Jabal al-Turkmen in Northern Lattakia, pushing the latter back from a number of strongholds and bases.

The clashes came after Ansar al-Sham cut relations with Tahrir al-Sham.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Saturday that Tahrir al-Sham, Turkistani Islamic Party, Horas al-Deen, Ansar al-Deen and other terrorist groups that are included in the Sochi Agreement, endorsed by Russia and Turkey, did not withdraw fighters and weapons from the zone that stretches from Northeastern Lattakia to Northwestern Aleppo.

In the meantime, the Arabic-language website of Sputnik reported that Tahrir al-Sham and Turkistani Islamic Party launched missile attacks on army positions in Northeastern Lattakia and also the army's strongholds in a region near Idlib province on Thursday.

It further said that the army units detected terrorists' positions for launching Grade missiles in Qala al-Maziq in Jabal al-Zaviyeh and in the town of Bedama in Lattakia province that are controlled by Tahrir al-Sham.

Full report at:



Turkey Issues Ultimatum to Terrorists Violating Sochi Agreement in Northern Syria

Oct 14, 2018

The Arabic-language al-Watan daily quoted militant-affiliated sources as disclosing that the Turkish intelligence service has declared to all Ankara-backed militant groups, especially the National Liberation Front (NLF), Horas al-Deen and Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) to continue implementation of the Sochi Agreement, and warned that Ankara will not provide support for those militant groups that continue violating the Agreement, especially with regard to withdrawal from the demilitarized zone till October 15th.

The daily went on to say that Ankara has reminded these groups that the Turkish army shoulders more important military missions apart from Idlib, specially on the Eastern banks of the Euphrates River against Kurds.

The daily further said that Tahrir al-Sham will likely withdraw from the demilitarized zone and will hand over control of its regions in Northeastern Lattakia to Turkistani Islamic Party and leave its regions in Southeastern Idlib and Northwestern Aleppo to Ajnad al-Sham and Jeish al-Mujahedeen.

Al-Watan went on to say that the Syrian Army is likely to launch a limited military operation against the terrorists that oppose withdrawal from demilitarized zone, adding that Ankara would not express opposition to such an assault.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Saturday that Tahrir al-Sham, Turkistani Islamic Party, Horas al-Deen, Ansar al-Deen and other terrorist groups that were included in the Sochi Agreement, endorsed by Russia and Turkey, did not withdraw fighters and weapons from the zone that stretches from Northeastern Lattakia to Northwestern Aleppo.

In the meantime, the Arabic-language website of Sputnik reported that Tahrir al-Sham and Turkistani Islamic Party launched missile attacks on army positions in Northeastern Lattakia and also the army's strongholds in a region near Idlib province on Thursday.

It further said that the army units detected terrorists' positions for launching Grade missiles in Qala al-Maziq in Jabal al-Zaviyeh and in the town of Bedama in Lattakia province that are controlled by Tahrir al-Sham.

Full report at:



Non-Syrian Terrorist Commanders Killed by Unknown Raiders in Idlib

Oct 14, 2018

Abu Haziqa Turkistani, a senior commander of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front), was killed after unidentified attackers opened fire at him near the town of al-Latamina in Southern Idlib.

In the meantime, Abu Zeid Tunisi, a security commander of al-Aqab prison of Tahrir al-Sham, was killed by unidentified gunmen in Jabal al-Zaiwiyah in Southern Idlib.

Meanwhile, over 50 people have been kidnapped in regions controlled by Tahrir al-Sham in Idlib in recent weeks.

Tahrir al-Sham, Ahrar al-Sham and National Liberation Front (NLF) are behind kidnapping each other's members to force rival groups to pay ransom for the release of their members. 

In a relevant development on Saturday, Abdulhamid al-Azo, a field commander of NLF, was killed in a bomb blast along a road connecting Dayer Sharqi to Ein Qari'a in Southern Idlib.

In the meantime, Abu Osama al-Terablosi, a notorious commander of Tahrir al-Sham, was gunned down by unknown raiders near the town of Ma'arat al-Nu'aman in Southern Idlib.

Meanwhile, a number of NLF fighters were killed or injured after a bomb went off near their base in the town of al-Artab in Western Aleppo.

Full report at:



Terrorists Continue Violating Sochi Agreement by Shelling Syrian Army Positions in Hama

Oct 14, 2018

The Arabic-language website of the Russian state-run news agency, Sputnik, reported that the terrorist groups, deployed in demilitarized zone North of al-Ghaab Plain in Western Hama, launched missile attacks on army positions and residential areas in the small town of Jourin in Western Hama on Saturday afternoon.

It further said that two Syrian soldiers were killed and another one was injured in the attack, adding that the army's artillery units retaliated and opened heavy fire at terrorists' missile platforms in the villages of Tal Waset, al-Ziyarah, al-Mansourah and al-Sarmaniyah.

The region that terrorists used to launch attacks on army is an intersection point for the terrorist groups of Turkistani Islamic Party, Liwa Soghour al-Ghaab affiliated to the Turkey-backed National Liberation Front and ISIL-affiliated Ansar al-Tawhid and is located in the demilitarized zone specified by the Sochi Agreement.

The report went to say that according to the Sochi Agreement, the Turkish-Russian forces are to start patrolling in the region after terrorists' retreat from the demilitarized zone till October 15. 

The Arabic Sputnik reported on Wednesday that snipers of Horas al-Din terrorist group launched attacks on the army points near the town of Ma'an in Northern Hama.

It added that Jeish al-Izzah terrorists stationed near the town of al-Latamina also used 23-mm artillery to attack the army positions in Zalaqiyat.

Horas al-Din and Jeish al-Izzah several times underlined opposition to the Sochi agreement.

Full report at:



Western, American Arms Discovered in Terrorists' Former Bases in Damascus Province

Oct 14, 2018

The sources said that the army soldiers continued mop-up operation in the small town of Yalda in the Southern countryside of Damascus city and discovered an underground hideout used by the terrorists to depot arms, ammunitions and military equipment.

A large volume of the M72 LAW portable one-shot 66-mm unguided anti-tank weapons, other US-made missiles, NATO-class sniper riffles, grenades, DShk machineguns, Dragunov sniper rifles, night vision binoculars and other kinds of ammunitions were found in the terrorists' former depot, they added. 

Field sources reported earlier this month that machine-guns, Western-made missiles, sniper guns of Wall type, RPGs, missile-launchers, different types of artilleries and a large amount of ammunitions were discovered in the terrorists' former strongholds in the three provinces of Hama, Sweida and Deir Ezzur.

Full report at:



Militants fire shells from Syria buffer despite heavy arms pullout

14 October 2018

Militants have fired mortar shells from a planned buffer zone in northwest Syria, a monitor said Sunday, days after they were meant to have withdrawn such weapons from the area.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said Militants in the zone fired several “mortar shells at an army position in nearby Hama province, killing two soldiers” late Saturday.

Also on Saturday, Militants shelled Aleppo province from other parts of the demilitarized area, with no casualties recorded, the Britain-based monitor said.

This is the first clear violation of the deal since the heavy weapons were withdrawn. This area is supposed to be clear of heavy weapons, including mortar shells,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

Under a deal reached by opposition backer Turkey and regime ally Russia last month, militants and extremists alike were meant to have pulled out all heavy arms from the horseshoe-shaped zone by October 10.

The deadline had reportedly been met, with Ankara, militant factions, and the Observatory all reporting that the area was free of heavy-duty weaponry.

Syrian pro-government newspaper Al-Watan also reported on the apparent violation.

On Sunday morning it said that western parts of Aleppo province were being hit with “rocket fire and shelling with heavy weapons, which were supposed to be pulled out from the area”.

Full report at:



No extremists seen exiting Syria buffer on eve of deadline

14 October 2018

Hardline fighters have yet to begin withdrawing from a planned buffer zone in northwestern Syria, a monitor and an AFP correspondent said Sunday on the eve of the pullout’s deadline.

Regime ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey agreed last month to set up a demilitarized zone around the northwestern region of Idlib to prevent a bloody regime assault on the region.

Under the deal the horseshoe-shaped area was to be free of heavy arms by October 10 with “radical fighters” pulling out by Monday.

While the deadline for withdrawing heavy weapons was met on time, there has been no indication that the second condition is being implemented.

We have not monitored any withdrawals by extremist fighters at all from areas falling in the planned buffer zone,” said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.

An AFP correspondent in Idlib also said no hardline factions had moved any of their units in recent days.

The agreement

Idlib and surrounding rebel zones are held by a complex array of factions.

Less than half is controlled by the Ankara-backed National Liberation Front (NLF), the main rebel conglomerate there.

But the lion’s share is held by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an alliance led by former Al-Qaeda members, as well as more hardline extremists like Hurras al-Deen and Ansar al-Islam.

Those fighters also control more than two-thirds of the planned buffer zone and are supposed to leave it by Monday.

Hurras al-Deen has publicly rejected the agreement.

HTS, widely considered the most powerful force in the area, has not publicly commented on the accord but quietly abided by its first deadline and re-stationed its heavy arms elsewhere.

Observers have said that getting it to execute the deal’s second half would be much more challenging.

In a recent report for the Turkey-based Omran Center, expert Nawar Oliver described HTS’s approval as the deal’s ultimate “test”.

If HTS acts as a spoiler to the agreement on the ground, this will probably lead to one of two scenarios: either Turkey and the NLF launch military action against HTS, or Russia will seize the opportunity with the support of the regime and its allies to enter Idlib,” he said.

Full report at:



Egypt court upholds death sentences for 3 suspected militants

Oct 14, 2018

An Egyptian court on Sunday upheld death sentences for three people for establishing and running a militant group known as Ansar al-Sharia, two judicial sources and state news agency MENA said.

The charges included killing at least 10 police officers and attempting to kill more in a series of attacks between August 2013 and May 2014. The court upheld sentences issued in August. The decision can be appealed within 60 days.

Four people were sentenced to life in prison while seven received 15-year prison terms, the sources said. Nine of the 23 defendants were acquitted.

Egypt has cracked down on suspected extremists since President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi led the overthrow of former president Mohamed Morsi of the now banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Authorities say a crackdown on dissent and freedoms is directed at terrorists and saboteurs trying to undermine the state.

Death sentences have been handed down to hundreds of extremists, including Muslim Brotherhood supporters and members.

Full report at:



Syria: Takfiris refuse to leave Idlib buffer zone

Oct 14, 2018

Al-Qaeda-lined Takfiri terrorists say they refuse to either leave a planned buffer zone in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib or hand over their weapons.

"We have not abandoned our choice of…fighting towards implementing our blessed revolution," said Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an alliance led by Takfiri terrorists belonging to al-Nusra Front or Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, al-Qaeda’s Syria chapter, AFP reported. Russia, a Syria ally, and Turkey, which sides with anti-Damascus militants, have planned the de-escalation zone.

The countries had set an October 10 deadline for the Takfiri and militant groups there to surrender their arms and also called Sunday midnight the last time by which those groups were expected to leave the area.

As the second deadline was looming, the HTS also said it would not lay down its arms either. "We will not abandon them or hand them over," they said.

"We appreciate the efforts of all those who strive inside and abroad to protect the liberated area and forbid its destruction or massacres being carried out in it," the HTS, meanwhile, said. AFP interpreted the remarks as being directed at Turkey.

"But at the same time, we warn of the deceitfulness of the Russian occupier and against any trust in its intentions," the group added.

Ankara's agreement with Moscow forestalled an imminent offensive to liberate Idlib, which contains the largest concentrations of remaining Takfiri terrorists in Syria, but is also being roamed by several Turkish-backed militant groups.

On Sunday, mortar shells were fired from the zone onto the nearby Hama Province, killing two Syrian soldiers, the UK-based so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Syria’s Al Watan paper reported similar violations. It said that western parts of the neighboring Aleppo Province were being hit by "rocket fire and shelling with heavy weapons, which were supposed to be pulled out from the area."

Damascus has clearly asserted that the Idlib agreement is only “temporary,” and that the province should ultimately come under government control.

Full report at:



Syrian forces dig up US-made guns in terrorist arms cache near Damascus

Oct 14, 2018

Syrian security forces have discovered considerable amounts of Western and US-made munitions, including submachine guns, Kalashnikov rifles, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and sniper rifles, used by foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants in the country’s southwestern province of Rif Dimashq.

Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that government troops launched a clean-up operation in the town of Yalda, located on the southern outskirts of Damascus, and uncovered a huge cache of ammunition and explosives carefully hidden inside a plastic water tank at a local farm.

The discovery included NATO-standard sniper rifles, a LAW portable anti-tank weapon, thermal and night vision equipment, grenades, improvised explosive devices, multiple RPG launchers, Kalashnikov rifles and Dragunov sniper rifles.

Takfiri militants are thought to have hidden the weapons at the farm earlier this year before leaving the area to the troubled northwestern city of Idlib.

On May 4, Syrian army soldiers discovered Israeli-made weapons, including chemical warfare, digital equipment and drugs, destined for foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants and Daesh terrorists in the country’s central province of Homs as well as Rif Dimashq province.

The Arabic service of Russia’s Sputnik news agency reported that the ammunition and explosives were found in the southern part of Homs, located 162 kilometers (101 miles) north of the capital Damascus. They were meant to be distributed among anti-government extremists groups.

Elsewhere in al-Hajar al-Aswad city, located just four kilometers south of Damascus, Syrian soldiers found Israeli-made weapons stashed inside a network of secret underground tunnels.

Full report at:



Year after Daesh lost Syria’s Raqqa, holdout hospital awaits recovery

October 15, 2018

RAQA, Syria: Shattered ultrasound machines and prosthetic limbs litter the hallways of Raqqa’s main hospital, still gutted a year after Daesh made its infamous last stand in its Syrian heartland.

The bullet-riddled complex looms large among the sea of destroyed buildings in the northern city, once the de facto Syrian capital of Daesh’s ill-fated “caliphate.”

On October 17 last year, US-backed forces overran the citys final two militant holdouts — the National Hospital and nearby stadium — sealing the end of Daesh’s bloody three-year reign over Raqqa.

But a year later, as other parts of the city are being slowly rebuilt, the massive hospital remains in ruins, almost haunted.

The road leading up to the entrance has been cleared of the burned corpses lying there last October, but twisted car wrecks still make for an uncomfortable welcome.

Torn-up gurneys, filthy sky-blue hospital sheets and rusted gas canisters have been dumped in the courtyard.

Bullet-riddled doors are graffitied with the phrase “CLEAR, November 9, 2017,” apparently marking the day those rooms were checked for mines or lingering militants.

Inside, hospital rooms are charred black from fires after air strikes.

Paint is peeling off the ceiling and the walls are lined with sand bags piled by Daesh fighters defending their final bastion.

Making his way slowly through the abandoned medical ward was Mohammad Hussein, 37, in navy trousers and a striped shirt.

Hussein is now a member of the health commission of Raqqa Civil Council (RCC), the body governing the city since Daesh’s ouster, but he was once a nurse in the hospital.

You don’t feel like you’re walking into a hospital. You feel like you’re walking into a mound of rubble,” he muttered.

The Raqqa native began working in the hospital in 2003 at the age of 22, and stayed on when Daesh captured the city 11 years later.

Hussein recalls Daesh members shoring up the hospital’s defenses last year, digging tunnels and setting up blast walls as the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) closed in.

They stockpiled medical supplies in huge amounts — serums, blood, water, power generators,” he said.

After days of besieging the hospital and stadium, the SDF made a successful, lightning-fast push for both.

Since then, tens of thousands of people have returned to Raqqa, but life is still dangerous in the city.

Daesh planted a sea of mines across the city that have maimed and killed returning residents, and guerrilla-style attacks against SDF positions indicate militant sleeper cells remain a threat.

No one lost as much as Raqqa’s people when it comes to the destruction of this hospital, which used to serve hundreds of people on a daily basis,” said Hussein.

Khaled Abbud Al-Hassan was one of them.

One day last year, as artillery and air strikes pounded areas near his home, a piece of shrapnel tore into his building.

It killed my four-year-old daughter and cut my hand, so I went to get treated at the hospital,” said Hassan, 60.

Inside were doctors from Azerbaijan, he recalled. Most of the Syrian staff was from Aleppo, west of Raqqa.

They treated each other and us as well. I was there for about a week before the hospital was bombed and they told us to get out,” Hassan said.

After a recent visit to Raqqa, Amnesty International said the level of destruction was “shocking,” with schools, homes, and medical infrastructure still ravaged.

It has slammed the US-led coalition’s bombing of the city and said it should help rebuild Raqqa.

The coalition has removed rubble from main streets and demined some areas, but a rehabilitation of the hospital has still not been sponsored, said RCC co-chair Laila Mustafa.

It needs huge funds to be restored, more than three billion Syrian pounds (almost $6 million). This excludes medical equipment, which would be high-quality and exorbitantly expensive,” Mustafa said.

She told AFP that the RCC was in talks with a foreign backer over funds to partially rehabilitate one hospital ward.

The stadium, whose underground locker rooms Daesh had transformed into a prison, has fared better.

The field was partly restored after the SDF’s takeover, hosting its first football match in April.

Now, laborers are building a platform and stadium seats have been painted white, with a crimson-red trim.

We’re coordinating with the RCC and the Syrian Democratic Council to rehabilitate the national stadium,” said Imad Al-Himad, a contractor.

It has so far cost around 100,000 Syrian pounds.

Full report at:



Organization of Islamic Cooperation to organize seminar on Islamophobia

October 15, 2018

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will organize the 5th international seminar on Islamophobia in Istanbul.

The event will be held on Oct. 17-18 in collaboration with the Turkish Ministry of Justice, and will discuss the roots and causes of Islamophobia against Muslims.

Separately on Sunday, the OIC condemned the attack on a political rally in Takhar province of Afghanistan.

Fourteen people were killed and more than 30 wounded after a motorcycle bomb detonated, targeting the crowd attending the rally.  Two security officers were also among those killed in the explosion.

The OIC Secretary-General Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen extended his condolences to the government and people of Afghanistan over the attack and wished a quick recovery of the injured.

Full report at:



New Syrian law bans Muslim clerics from stoking sectarian rift

Oct 14, 2018

Syria has endorsed a legislation that forbids Muslim preachers from "stoking sectarian strife" as the Arab country's fight against foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorist groups is drawing to a close.

President Bashar al-Assad signed into law the new bill expanding the powers of the Ministry of Awqaf (Religious Endowments), which oversees Islamic affairs in Syria.

The legislation prohibits Muslim clerics from "taking advantage of religious platforms for political purposes," but non-Muslim communities are not affected by the law.

Under the new measure, the Syrian Awqaf minister is tasked with appointing the Grand Mufti, whose term is renewable every three years. Previously, he was named by the president for an unlimited term.

Additionally, the law assigns the Awqaf minister to oversee religious schools, head the Council on Islamic Jurisprudence, and regulate religious programming on media outlets.

It further bans Muslim imams from traveling abroad or attending conferences even inside Syria without the Awqaf minister's permission.

Syria's Awqaf Minister Mohammad Abdul-Sattar al-Sayyed hailed the new rule as a "huge achievement."

"This is the first time there's a law that issues controls and standards for religious work and conditions for appointing imams and preachers," he said.

The new legislation is meant to regulate religious discourse in a bid to confront Takfiri extremism, which is a trademark of many terror outfits wreaking havoc in Syria.

The concept is largely influenced by Wahhabism, the radical ideology dominating Saudi Arabia and freely preached by Saudi clerics.

Full report at:



North America


JP Morgan, Ford Motor pull out of Saudi investor conference

Oct 15, 2018

JP Morgan Chase & Co chief executive Jamie Dimon and Ford chairman Bill Ford are the latest US firms that cancelled plans to attend a Saudi Arabian investor conference later this month following the disappearance of a dissident journalist at the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul.

Uber Technologies chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi, Viacom CEO Bob Bakish and billionaire Steve Case, one of the founders of AOL, have also announced that they were no longer going to the three-day event, dubbed “Davos in the Desert.”

British billionaire Richard Branson on Friday suspended business links with Saudi Arabia.

In addition, major news organizations such as CNN, the Financial Times, the New York Times, CNBC and Bloomberg have pulled out of the conference. The Fox Business Network, the lone Western news outlet still heading to the conference, told Reuters on Sunday it was reviewing that decision.

The latest cancellations could add pressure on other US firms like Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Mastercard Inc and Bank of America Corp to reconsider their plans to attend the event.

Neither JP Morgan nor Ford would elaborate on the reasons for the decision not to attend the Future Investment Initiative conference, and did not comment on whether concerns about the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi were a factor.

Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and a US resident, disappeared on October 2 after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkish authorities believe he was tortured and killed inside the building by a team of Saudi operatives who removed his dismembered body.

US President Donald Trump, who has forged close ties with Saudi Arabia, has come under pressure at home and abroad to punish Riyadh if investigations show the regime had Khashoggi killed.

The president has not said what measures his administration would take if Saudi Arabia is found to be responsible, but he made clear any punishment would not involve suspending Washington-Riyadh arms deals.

According to the kingdom’s official SPA news agency, Riyadh said it would retaliate in case any possible economic sanctions were adopted by other states over the case of Khashoggi in what has been seen as an allusion to calls on the US administration to revoke its hefty arms deals with Saudi Arabia.

Other countries have also threatened sharp reactions to possible killing of Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia with the latest instance being remarks by Britain's opposition Labour Party, which announced that it would stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia if it was in government.

The Tadawul exchange in Riyadh dropped by 7 percent at one point during the week’s first day of trading, with 182 of its 186 listed stocks showing losses by the early afternoon. The market clawed back some of the losses, trading down over 4 percent later on.



Trump's political flip-flop on Khashoggi’s disappearance emboldening Riyadh: Analysts

Oct 14, 2018

As international pressure is mounting on Saudi rulers by various governments and rights group over disappearance of a dissident journalist at the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul, Trump's administration still seems to be following an undetermined policy toward Riyadh on this issue, prompting many analysts to believe that Washington prefers Saudi trade over the value of human life.

In a new turn of events on Sunday, Saudi Arabia warned it would retaliate against any sanctions imposed on it over the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, as the Riyadh stock market suffered its worst plunge in years.

According to the kingdom’s official SPA news agency, Riyadh said it would retaliate in case any possible economic sanctions were taken by other states over the case of Jamal Khashoggi in what has been seen as an allusion to calls on the US administration for revoking its hefty arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Other countries have also threatened sharp reactions to possible killing of Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia with the latest instance being remarks by Britain's opposition Labour Party, which announced that it would stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia if it was in government.

The Tadawul exchange in Riyadh dropped by 7 percent at one point during the week’s first day of trading, with 182 of its 186 listed stocks showing losses by the early afternoon. The market clawed back some of the losses, trading down over 4 percent later on.

The new development came after Trump said in a rally speech in Richmond, Kentucky, on Sunday that the United States would be “punishing itself” if it halted weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.

I actually think we’d be punishing ourselves if we did that,” Trump told reporters on Saturday at the White House, adding, “There are other things we can do that are very, very powerful, very strong and we’ll do them.

His Sunday remarks came in sharp contrast to what the American president had said only a day earlier on Saturday, when he vowed "severe punishment" if Saudi Arabia is proven to be behind the purported assassination of Khashoggi.

While senators threaten Saudi Arabia with sanctions and major business players pull out of a conference the Saudis are hosting, the Trump administration is taking an increasingly conspicuous wait-and-see approach to the disappearance of Khashoggi.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike have demanded firm action. Earlier this week, a number of Republican senators on the foreign relations committee signed a bipartisan letter calling for a probe and possible sanctions in response to Khashoggi's disappearance. 

American lawmakers in both parties have been more critical of Saudi Arabia, with several suggesting officials in the kingdom could be sanctioned if they were found to be involved in Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged killing.

There was already mounting concern over civilian deaths caused by a Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen and some lawmakers have said Washington should block military sales to Riyadh if the allegations over Khashoggi are proven.

Trump, however, has been hesitant to criticize the Saudis, despite strong words from some in his own party. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican ally of the president in the Senate, said there will be "hell to pay" if Khashoggi is found dead and the Saudis are responsible.

Khashoggi's disappearance has forced questions about the Trump administration's relationship with Saudi Arabia into the spotlight.

Trump made a point of visiting the kingdom on his first overseas trip as president and has touted arms sales to Saudi Arabia. But both the White House and the kingdom are under mounting pressure as concern grows over the fate of the veteran journalist.

The selection of Saudi Arabia, as CBS News' chief White House correspondent Major Garrett documents in his book "Mr. Trump's Wild Ride," bucked prior presidents' habit of first visiting a more traditional US ally, and signaled that the administration wanted to put a greater emphasis on good relations with Riyadh.

Pressed this week about the Khashoggi situation, Trump stopped short of criticizing or threatening Saudi Arabia. "We don't like it, we don't like it a little bit," Trump said of the Khashoggi situation Thursday.

Trump has also restated his reluctance to jeopardize a $110 billion arms deal he brokered with Saudi Arabia that was inked on his first foreign trip as President, saying he didn't want to hurt jobs. But he added, "There are other ways of punishing, to use a word that's a pretty harsh word, but it's true."

Mark Dankof, a former US Senate candidate, said in an interview with Press TV on Saturday that Trump is “playing games” with regard to the disappearance of a dissident Saudi journalist at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

President Trump is simply playing games at this point, he knows very well, his intelligence people know very well that the Saudis are behind Khashoggi’s abduction and probable assassination,” Mark Dankof, a former US Senate candidate, told Press TV on Saturday.

But the president is fully aware of other Saudi crimes, which the United States is fully complicit in, I’m referring to the Saudi support for the Sunni Wahhabi terrorists in Syria,” as well as “the genocidal war that Saudi Arabia has conducted in Yemen,” added the analyst.

It’s very clear that the president couldn’t care less about Saudi crimes,” noting that he has already said “the US would continue to sell the $100 billion of weaponry.”

According to Daniel Patrick Welch, an American writer and political analyst,  Trump’s cynical and heartless reaction on dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s apparent assassination is in line with everything that the Empire stands for and has done.

I don’t think anyone should be surprised by the cynical and heartless reaction of the Trump regime to Khashoggi’s assassination,” Welch said in an interview with Press TV on Friday.

Khashoggi's case highlights how much is at stake in US-Saudi relations, and in the president's own ties to the Saudis.

The US has had a long and tricky relationship with Saudi Arabia, a key regional ally with an infamous record of human rights abuses. But it was Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner who paved the way for the cozy relationship between the administration and bin Salman. Kushner and the crown prince dined at the White House in March 2017, and they met again in Riyadh in October 2017.

Asked Friday if it was a mistake for Kushner to develop such close relationships with the Saudis, the president said no, and the US  has close relationships with many countries — but this is a serious problem.

The president's own businesses have also benefited from transactions with the Saudis. And while Trump has stepped away from the day-to-day management of those businesses, which are now run by his two older sons, he never fully divested from them.

According to disclosures filed with the Justice Department, the Embassy of Saudi Arabia disbursed $270,000 for payments that went to Trump International Hotel between October 2016 and March 2017.

 And earlier this year, the general manager of the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan shared with investors that after two years of decline, revenue from room rentals went up 13 percent in the first quarter of 2018 — largely due to a visit from bin Salman.

The Saudis were boosting Trump businesses long before he took office. According to Trump's own words, the Saudis have long been heavily invested in Trump's businesses.

Full report at:



Canada allocates $50mn in aid to UN agency for Palestinian

Oct 14, 2018

Canada has announced up to 50 million dollars in aid to the United Nations (UN)’s relief agency for Palestinian refugees two months after the United States cut its aid to that body.

Ottawa will provide up to 50 million dollars over two years to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA, Canada’s Minister of International Development Marie-Claude Bibeau announced on Saturday.

I am announcing that Canada will provide multi-year funding to Palestinian refugees to the UN Agency @UNRWA + Canadian NGO @RightToPlayCAN.

This new funding is urgently needed + it will protect the human dignity of millions of Palestinian refugees.

Marie-Claude Bibeau (@mclaudebibeau) October 12, 2018

The funding will be used to provide basic education, health, and livelihood needs for millions of Palestinian refugees, especially women and children, through the UNRWA.

Canada’s new funding will contribute to improving the lives and protecting the human dignity of millions of Palestinian refugees,” Bibeau said.

She added that the funds would be spent on teacher training courses to educate hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children, and support over a hundred health clinics.

Canada’s announcement comes two months after the US announced it would cut its aid to the UNRWA.

At the time, UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness described the decision by the administration of US President Donald Trump as “deeply regrettable” and “shocking.” Analysts said the decision to cut the funding was indicative of Trump’s apathy toward the plight of the Palestinians.

Full report at:



Turkey, US training for joint patrols in Manbij, Syria


Soldiers from Turkey and the U.S. continue joint training on combined patrols in Manbij, northern Syria, the Turkish military said on Sunday.

The Turkish Armed Forces shared on its Instagram account two pictures where Turkish and U.S. soldiers are seen together during training.

Earlier this week, Turkish National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has announced the beginning of joint training.

"As of today the Turkish and U.S. Armed Forces began joint training on combined patrolling activities, which will be held in the region, as part of the Manbij Roadmap and Security Principles," Akar told Anadolu Agency.

The Manbij deal between Turkey and the U.S. focuses on the withdrawal of terrorist YPG/PKK forces from the city to stabilize the region, which is in the northeast of the Aleppo province in northern Syria.

Full report at:





UK, France, Germany demand ‘detailed’ Saudi response, ‘credible’ probe on Khashoggi

Oct 14, 2018

Britain, France and Germany have called on Saudi Arabia to provide a “detailed” response about the mysterious disappearance of anti-Riyadh journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who is believed to have been murdered at the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul.

In a statement released Sunday, British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt as well as his French and German counterparts, Jean-Yves Le Drian and Heiko Maas, said they were following the issue with "utmost seriousness."

"There needs to be a credible investigation to establish the truth about what happened, and - if relevant - to identify those bearing responsibility for the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, and ensure that they are held to account," the statement read.

"We encourage joint Saudi-Turkish efforts in that regard, and expect the Saudi Government to provide a complete and detailed response. We have conveyed this message directly to the Saudi authorities," the three diplomats said.

On October 2, Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain the necessary paperwork to marry his Turkish fiancée. That was the last time he was seen in public.

There is widespread speculation – specially among Turkish officials – that Khashoggi has been assassinated by as many as 15 Saudi operatives who followed him into the consulate in an operation directly ordered by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

The journalist’s dismembered body is also reported to have been flown back to Saudi Arabia in two flights.

This is while the Riyadh regime has so far rejected all allegations of directing a hit job on the US-based journalist, who was also a Washington Post contributor.

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz said that his country was eager to uncover "the whole truth" and would cooperate with investigations.

However, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says Saudi officials have yet to step up to the job and let Turkish investigators into the consulate.

"We still have not seen cooperation in order to ensure a smooth investigation and bring everything to light. We want to see this," Cavusoglu was quoted as saying by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency on Saturday.

Rubio pledges strong US action

Meanwhile, US Republican Senator Marco Rubio has joined a bevy of American lawmakers who have called on President Donald Trump to pressure Riyadh over Khashoggi’s disappearance.

"I believe the Trump administration will do something — the President has said that. But if he doesn't, Congress will," Rubio told CNN on Sunday.

He said Washington would take “a very strong” response in store for Riyadh if it becomes clear that “the Saudis lured him (Khashoggi) into that consulate, murdered him, cut up his body and disposed of it."

Trump raised eyebrows this week when he said while his administration would work with Ankara and Riyadh to get to the bottom of the issue, Washington would not go as far as risking tens of billions of dollars in military deals with Saudi Arabia.

I would not be in favor of stopping a country from spending $110 billion — which is an all-time record — and letting Russia have that money and letting China have that money,” Trump told reporters, referring to an arms deal he signed with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his maiden trip to Saudi Arabia last year.

Faced with backlash, Trump said later on that while he would “punish” Riyadh if it is found guilty but he wouldn’t throw away the arms deals because that would push Riyadh towards Russia and China.



'Massacre in Syria’s Idlib is Iran’s red line'

Oct 14, 2018

The potential massacre of civilians while trying to retake the last major stronghold of anti-government militants in Syria — namely Idlib Province — is a red line for Iran, says the Iranian chief negotiator in the peace process for Syria.

Hossein Jaberi Ansari, senior assistant to the Iranian foreign minister on special political affairs, told Press TV’s website in an exclusive interview on Wednesday, October 10, that Idlib had a special status and had to be dealt with accordingly.

He said armed and terrorist groups have blended into a large civilian population there, which makes a retake of the region complicated and, in Iran’s viewpoint, eliminates the possibility of a quick fix.

Jaberi Ansari called the situation in Idlib “the epitome of the complexities of the Syrian conflict.”

On the one hand, three million people are currently settled in Idlib. About half of that population is native to the region, and the other half comprises displaced persons from other areas,” he explained.

Of the second half, some are people normally displaced by the war, and others are the families of armed Syrian government opponents who have, along with their men, migrated there as part of previous deals, the senior Iranian official further said.

On the other hand,” he said, “Idlib is the concentration point of numerous armed and terrorist groups” and as such, could not be left to itself.

Conflict erupted in Syria back in 2011, when a small group of opposition forces took up arms against Damascus. Soon, however, a mixture of international terrorists and paid mercenaries mingled with and then largely sidestepped the armed Syrian opposition groups, effectively turning the Arab country into a battlefield for foreign governments opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

But the Syrian military, with advisory military help from Iran and Russia — and a Russian aerial bombardment campaign — has retaken control of much of the country, and the conflict is generally believed to be winding down.

Idlib remains unsettled.

Over the past couple of years, armed groups that have been defeated in battles with the Syrian military have been bused into Idlib under agreements with Damascus. While those groups have mostly had to leave their heavy weaponry behind under those deals, they have been allowed to take their small arms with them.

Jaberi Ansari said that figures about the number of the armed and terrorist groups present in Idlib varied from one source to another but he said they generally numbered in the tens of thousands.

He also said that the groups had widely different orientations, making it even more difficult to deal with the matter straightforwardly.

While the return of Idlib to Syrian government control could hypothetically take place swiftly with a full military assault, such an offensive would only lead to massive collateral damage, the Iranian official said.

That, he said unequivocally, was a red line for Iran.

Any such massacre would also have “grave humanitarian and moral, as well as political costs, which is unacceptable,” he stressed.

Given the complexity of the matters in Idlib, he said, Iran sought, in negotiations with its partners in the Astana process — a peace initiative for Syria launched jointly with Russia and Turkey — to make the case for a solution that is exclusive to Idlib and its special status.

He said the solution was phased and composite to include security, military, and political components that would have to be agreed upon.

Initial Russian and Turkish resistance

Jaberi Ansari said that the Iranian proposal faced “initial resistance” from Russia and Turkey, Iran’s two partners in the Astana process that support the Syrian government and opposition, respectively.

He said Russia was more inclined to resolve the Idlib matter more quickly, while Turkey sought to indefinitely delay any resolution of the issue.

Just as concerns were spiking about an all-out war and a potential humanitarian crisis in Idlib, and to everyone’s relief, Russia and Turkey reached a deal to avert disaster. At the end of a summit in Sochi on September 17, Moscow and Ankara agreed on, among other things, establishing a demilitarized zone in Idlib that would cover an expanse of 15-20 kilometers of land. Militants would have to entirely clear that area by October 15.

Full report at:




New Age IslamIslam OnlineIslamic WebsiteAfrican Muslim NewsArab World NewsSouth Asia NewsIndian Muslim NewsWorld Muslim NewsWomen in IslamIslamic FeminismArab WomenWomen In ArabIslamophobia in AmericaMuslim Women in WestIslam Women and Feminism