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Islamic World News ( 30 Sept 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Critical For India to Empower Muslims through Education: Frank Islam

New Age Islam News Bureau

30 Sept 2017

Raja Mahmudabad tells students from a university in Gurugram about nuances of Muharram.



 Critical For India to Empower Muslims through Education: Frank Islam

 Pakistan Seeks Ban on Hafiz Saeed’s Milli Muslim League

 Eating Leaves to Survive in Myanmar's 'Ethnic Cleansing' Zone

 Israel Considers Entering the War in Syria

 Tillerson: US Does Not Recognize Kurdish Independence Vote in Iraq



 Critical For India to Empower Muslims through Education: Frank Islam

 Hindu Muslims United At Mahmudabad Muharram, Open Students' Eyes

 Top Syrian Cleric, Mehbooba Mufti Stress on Weeding Out ‘Cult of Violence’ From Muslim Society

 To Demolish Real Identity of Islam, New Delhi Is Propagating ‘Sufi Islam’, Says Geelani

 No, the Uniform Civil Code Was Not Deferred Just For Muslims

 India on Rohingya crisis: Committed to assisting Bangladesh

 Jadhav-terrorist swap offer Pakistan’s ‘imaginary lie’: MEA



 Pakistan Seeks Ban on Hafiz Saeed’s Milli Muslim League

 Afghanistan Confirms Swap of Five Taliban Leaders Held By Pakistan

 Debunking The Myth of IS’s Presence in Af-Pak

 Pakistan among Muslim countries feeling impact of US visa policy

 Pakistan, Tajikistan for early Afghan peace revival


Southeast Asia

 Eating Leaves to Survive in Myanmar's 'Ethnic Cleansing' Zone

 Islamic State Suffers a Setback in Marawi

 Imams condemn ISIS video in sermon

 Malaysia slipping down radicalism slope, pro-moderation group warns

 Islamists Rally in Jakarta, Fearing Return of Communism

 No Tangerang residents at Friday's rally: Police



 Israel Considers Entering the War in Syria

 UN Agrees To Send War Crimes Investigators to Yemen

 Former Sunni MP: Rouhani Government Failing to Uphold Minority Rights despite Supreme Leader’s Call

 IRGC Lieutenant Commander Plays Down Trump's N.Deal Recertification Game

 Saudi lobbies against UN commission of inquiry into rights violations in Yemen

 Fresh Saudi airstrikes leave over dozen civilians dead in Yemen

 UK accused of blocking UN probe of Saudi war crimes in Yemen


North America

 Tillerson: US Does Not Recognize Kurdish Independence Vote in Iraq

 US Says Myanmar’s 'Ethnic Cleansing' Of Rohingya Muslims Shames Suu Kyi Govt.

 Turkey suggests swapping jailed US pastor for Muslim cleric

 ACLU, others to challenge Trump's new travel ban in court

 CIA delegation attends high-profile Sudan security meet

 2 Men Indicted In Bacon Vandalism At Islamic Center


Arab World

 73 Syrian Troops Killed In IS Attacks

 Syria: Linguistic, Cultural Conflict in Areas of Influence

 Syria, Jordan Give Ultimatum to Militants to Hand Over Nassib Border-Crossing

 Syrian Fighter Jets, Choppers Turn Western Deir Ezzur into Hell for Terrorists

 Syrian Army Makes Fresh Gains in War on Terrorism in Deir Ezzur

 ISIL's Front on Verge of Full Collapse in Eastern Syria

 Iraqi military preparing to take control of Kurdish borders

 Abadi calls travel ban constitutional, Kurdistan refuses to relinquish borders

 US willing to ‘facilitate’ talks between Baghdad, Kurd

 Coalition spokesman: Kurdish referendum caused loss of focus fighting ISIS



 20 Soldiers Killed In Somalia Militant Attack

 ISIS Militants Killed In Libya by US Airstrike

 Sudan hosts largest African intelligence conference

 Libya’s Haftar requests helicopters from Europe to curb migration

 UN Human Rights Council extends Burundi abuses probe

 Somalia: Al Shabaab Overruns Military Base in Bariire Town


South Asia

 Want to See End of Terror Sanctuaries in Pak That Target Afghanistan, Says CEO Afghanistan

 Afghanistan Strongly Reacts At Misrepresentation of Info by Pakistan on Prisoners Swap

 IS Bomber Kills Six near Kabul Mosque

 Suicide bomber killed, his comrade wounded in failed Wardak suicide car bombing

 US airstrike leaves 5 ISIS militants dead in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan

 Rohingya Muslims Say Goodbye to Their Own After Boat Capsizes

 Conflicting emotions in Bangladesh over influx of Rohingya refugees



 Tony Blair institute finds that non-violent Islamist groups serve as recruitment pool for jihadists

 Muslim ‘hate preacher’ has right to Swiss asylum revoked

 Macron: France ready to help Baghdad ease tensions with Kurdish region

 London Mayor Sadiq Khan caught in cab row with racist undertones

 Macron 'ignores' Turkish contribution for strong Europe

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Critical For India to Empower Muslims through Education: Frank Islam

September 12, 2017

Many Muslims in India remain economically disadvantaged and for the country to achieve full potential it is critical to empower them through education, an eminent Indian-American philanthropist has said. Frank Islam, while speaking at a gathering of Indian- Americans here to celebrate the 200th birth anniversary of Aligarh Muslim University founder Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, said, “In spite of the begrudging progress, too many Muslims in India remain socially, educationally and economically disadvantaged.” Noting that much has been accomplished in India, the entrepreneur said still much needs to be done and this was especially true for Muslims and other minorities.

Islam, an alumnus of the Aligarh Muslim University, said, “They confront hostility and open prejudice which in turn fuels frustration and desperations. The statistics on Muslims in poverty and without education there are stunning.” Too many Muslim families are trapped in poverty because of lack of education, Islam said. “There is a critical need to empower Muslims through education in order for India to achieve its full potential,” he said.

The stage is being set in India for change to work toward Sir Syed’s vision of peaceful coexistence, collaboration and communal harmony, he said at the event attended by eminent Indian-Americans.



Pakistan Seeks Ban on Hafiz Saeed’s Milli Muslim League

September 29, 2017

Islamabad, Sept 29: Amid mounting international pressure to act against terror outfits, Pakistan government asked country’s election commission to bar 26/11 attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s Milli Muslim League (MML), the political wing of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD). Opposed the registration of MML as a political party, Pakistan’s Interior Ministry said it is “affiliated” with terror organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Hafiz Saeed is the co-founder of LeT.

“The registration of MML is not supported,” the Interior Ministry of Pakistan said in the two-page document, reported Reuters. “The MML is linked with LeT, the JuD and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation and ideologically is of the same hue,” the ministry added. The ministry said that “given the clamour, philosophy, outreach and modus operandi to operate, it is difficult to believe that MML will tread its own path completely at variance with its mother organization.” “Therefore, they have recommended that since the registration of such groups would breed violence and extremism in politics, as such registration of such groups be avoided.”

The ministry also said JuD’s “charity wing” Falah-i-Insaaniyat is under sanctions both at home and internationally, and that “some countries” had raised the issue “diplomatically”. In a statement, the MML, however, said that the ministry’s objection was unlawful. “MML isn’t a bus or truck which needs registration,” Tabish Qayyum, a spokesperson for the MML, was quoted saying. He also denied that MML had links with any banned terrorist group.

LeT chief and UN-designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed launched the Milli Muslim League on August 8. The motive behind the launch of a political party was to prevent the cadre of the organisation from joining other terror groups such as the Islamic State or ISIS, said a report, authored by James M Dorsey of the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies and Azaz Syed, a prominent Pakistani journalist.

The ministry wrote the letter to the election commission a week after the MML polled 5 percent of the votes in the bypoll for NA-120 Lahore, the seat vacated by deposed Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif. The party has announced to contest the Pakistan general elections in 2018.



Eating Leaves to Survive in Myanmar's 'Ethnic Cleansing' Zone

Sep 30, 2017

Maungdaw, Myanmar. Along the main road that stretches nearly 40 kilometers north from Maungdaw town in Myanmar's violence-riven Rakhine State, all but one of the villages that were once home to tens of thousands of people have been turned into smoldering ash.

Hundreds of cows roam through deserted settlements and charred paddy fields. Hungry dogs eat small goats. The remains of local mosques, markets and schools - once bustling with Rohingya Muslims - are silent.

Despite strict controls on access to northern Rakhine, Reuters independently travelled to parts of the most-affected area in early September, the first detailed look by reporters inside the region where the United Nations says Myanmar's security forces have carried out ethnic cleansing.

Nearly 500 people have been killed and 480,000 Rohingya have fled since Aug. 25, when attacks on 30 police posts and a military base by Muslim militants provoked a fierce army crackdown. The government has rejected allegations of arson, rape and arbitrary killings leveled against its security forces.

"We were scared that the army and the police would shoot us if they found us [...] so we ran away from the village," said Suyaid Islam, 32, from Yae Khat Chaung Gwa Son, near the area visited by Reuters north of Maungdaw. He was speaking by phone from a refugee camp in Bangladesh after leaving his village soon after the attacks.

Residents of his village told Reuters it had been burned down by security forces in an earlier operation against Rohingya insurgents late last year. Those that did not flee have been surviving since in makeshift shacks, eating food distributed by aid agencies.

Satellite photos showed that tens of thousands of homes in northern Rakhine have been destroyed in 214 villages, New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said. The UN detected 20 sq km of destroyed structures.

The government said more than 6,800 houses have been set on fire. It blames the Rohingya villagers and the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which staged the Aug. 25 attacks.

"The information we obtained on this side is that terrorists did the burnings," said Zaw Htay, spokesman for national leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Reuters reporters have made two trips to northern Rakhine, visiting the townships of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung, and driving from Maungdaw through the most affected area along the main road north to the town of Kyein Chaung.

The reporters talked briefly to residents but, because many were scared of being seen speaking to outsiders, most interviews were carried out by phone from outside the army operation area.

Food Running Low

Little aid has made it to northern Rakhine since the UN had to suspend operations because of the fighting and after the government suggested its food was sustaining insurgents. Convoys organised by the Red Cross have twice been stopped and searched by hostile ethnic Rakhines in the state capital Sittwe.

In U Shey Kya, where last October Rohingya residents accused the Myanmar army of raping several women, a teacher who spoke to Reuters from the village by phone said only about 100 families out of 800 households have stayed behind.

Those who remain are playing a cat-and-mouse game with the soldiers, who come to the village in the morning prompting the residents to hide in the forest and return at night.

"We don't even have food to eat for this evening. What can we do?" said the teacher. "We are close to the forest where we have leaves we can eat and find some water to survive." He refused to give his name because he had been warned by the authorities not to talk to reporters.

The man said escaping through bush in monsoon rain with his elderly parents, six children and pregnant wife was not an option.

Zaw Htay said the government has prioritized humanitarian assistance to the area.

"If there are any locations where aid has not reached yet, people should let us know, we will try to reach them as soon as we can," he said.

About 30,000 non-Muslim residents of northern Rakhine have also been displaced.

Before the latest exodus there were around 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, mostly living in Rakhine, where they are denied citizenship and are regarded as interlopers from Bangladesh by the Buddhist majority.

'Happy They're Gone Now'

Rohingya who have fled to Bangladesh and human rights organisations say ethnic Rakhine vigilantes have aided the military in driving out the Muslim population.

Kamal Hussein, 22, from Alel Than Kyaw, south of Maungdaw town said his village was destroyed in early September, after which he fled to Bangladesh, where he spoke to Reuters.

Hussein said Rakhine mobs "poured petrol on the houses. Then, they came out and the military fired a grenade launcher at a house to set it alight".

Government spokesman Zaw Htay said some empty buildings in the area had been burned by ethnic Rakhines. "We told the regional government to take action on that," he said.

The damage caused by the fires, Reuters interviews and satellite pictures show, is by far the largest in Maungdaw, where the bulk of insurgent attacks took place. Across the mostly coastal area, stretching more than 100 km through thick bush and monsoon-swollen streams, most villages have been burned.

Maungdaw town itself, until recently ethnically mixed with Rakhine Buddhists, Muslims and some Hindus, is now segregated, with the remaining Rohingya shuttered in their homes. Some 450 houses in Rohingya parts of the town were burned down in the first week after the attacks, HRW said citing satellite photographs.

"Those who stored food, sold it and raised money to flee to Bangladesh," Mohammad Salem, 35, who used to sell cosmetics at the market, told Reuters by phone from the town.

In ethnically-mixed Rathedaung township, 16 out of 21 Rohingya villages have been burned, according to residents and humanitarian workers.

Of the remaining five, two villages in the south are now cut off from food and threatened by hostile Rakhine neighbors.

In many places people have no access to medicines, residents said.

Reuters talked to two Rakhine Buddhist officials who corroborated the scale of the damage.

Tin Tun Soe, a Rakhine administrator in Chein Khar Li, where a security post had come under attack, said the army response was rapid and all the Rohingya had been driven out. Nearly 1,600 houses were burned down a day after the attacks, he said, though he blamed the fires on the insurgents.

"They have so many people. If they are here, we're afraid to live," said Tin Tun Soe. "I am very happy that now all of them are gone."



Israel Considers Entering The War In Syria

September 29, 2017

OAN Newsroom

Israel is considering entering the Syrian conflict in order to battle Iranian forces on the ground.

This after the Israeli air force repeatedly struck Iranian-backed Hezbollah fighters involved in the ongoing Syrian civil war.

Tel Aviv believes the rising Iranian influence in the region is a threat to Israel’s national security as Iranian military forces are now positioned close to Israel’s border at Golan Heights.

Israeli officials say they have to prevent Iran from gaining ground in Syria, particularly amid concerns the country may be close to obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“And I warned that when that sunset comes, a dark shadow will be cast over the entire Middle East and the world, because Iran will then be free to enrich uranium on an industrial scale, placing it on the threshold of a massive arsenal of nuclear weapons,” announced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The ongoing proxy war between Israel and Iran began in 2006 when Tehran began supporting the Shi’a militants of Hezbollah.



Tillerson: US does not recognize Kurdish independence vote in Iraq

29 September 2017

The United States does not recognize the independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan and urges an end to "threats of reciprocal actions," US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement on Friday.

"The United States does not recognize the Kurdistan Regional Government’s unilateral referendum held on Monday.

The vote and the results lack legitimacy and we continue to support a united, federal, democratic and prosperous Iraq," Tillerson said.

"We urge calm and an end to vocal recriminations and threats of reciprocal actions," he added.





Hindu Muslims united at Mahmudabad Muharram, open students' eyes

Yusra Husain

Sep 30, 2017

MAHMUDABAD: A bus with around 25 students has just wheeled into the magnanimous fort of Quila Mahmudabad early Friday morning and after a 15-hour journey from Haryana based Ashoka University, wide eyed students have set afoot the sleepy land of Mahmudabad in Sitapur district. Decked in black and white slogans recounting the tragic tale of Karbala, it is not just the architectural exuberance of the fort that meets the eyes of the undergraduate students from varying disciplines of study alone on the 8th day of the Muharram.

For most of them studying political science, international relations, history, literature, philosophy even Maths and economics what beckons their deepest interest is the sight of Dalits and Muslims including both Shias and Sunnis standing together as they shouldered the Alam of Hazrat Abbas (standard symbolic of Imam Husain's brother) as the over centuries old traditional juloos (procession) passed through narrow lanes of the town.

The taboots (symbolic coffins of the martyrs) and the Zuljinah (symbolic horse of Imam Husain) are also part of the procession flanked by camels taken out in the backdrop of the Shehnai tunes based on ragas signifying mourning and drum beats.

It is early morning at the Mahal Sara (female wing of the fort) and women of the family of the erstwhile Raja of Mahmudabad are reciting Nauhas (laments in the moemory of Imam Husain and the martyrs of Karbala). Hair left open as sign of mourning, five Imambaras inside the women's section cordoned off from male entry except the Raja and his two sons are greeted with the taboots before the procession is taken out.

Walking barefoot on the rugged path under the bright sun, Raja Mohammad Amir Mohammad Khan of Mahmudabad with his zareeb (wooden staff) is reciting elegies as the procession moves. Wearing a solemn look on his face, 20-year-old Sparsh Agarwal walking right behind him has question driving his curiosity deeper.

"What's baffling is the fact that Shias script the history of a battle they lost year after year, when it is usually the victor we know who writes history. We have been told by Prof Ali Khan Mahmudabad and his father, the Raja, that even when it would seem Imam Husain, Prophet Mohammad's grandson, lost the battle of Karbala in 680 AD, it was indeed a victory of right over wrong and that has lived by through times," he said.

As the Zuljinah passes through the estate, number of mourners has increased including people of all religions and faith who have congregated to feed the Zuljinah as a mark of respect. In the procession, Rakesh and his relatives have been beating the drums all big and small all through the day and until night till the procession crosses the entire estate, makes a trip to five Imambaras around town and over 500 homes, to reach back the Quila late at night.

Zainab Firdausi another 20-year-old student at the university studying policitcal science and belonging to Kolkata is also experiencing the first of her Muharram encounters. "The feeling is surreal even when I have been taking a course on the critical concepts of Islam back at the university, the amalgamation of cultures and religions, all really respectful of the Imam and Karbala martyrs is extraordinary," she later said.

As the procession continued to move through narrow lanes, Ali Khan Mahmudabad, their teacher and his father Raja of Mahmudabad keep briefing the students about the rituals they were performing, about the tragedy of Karbala and its concept.

Proud of the fact that Hindus and Muslims have in unison been commemorating Muharram since ages now, Raja Sahab recalled an incident of communal harmony from his mother's time. "Once during her time, the eighth of Muharram and Ram Navmi fell on the same day. A delegation of Hindus approached her to seek advise on how both processions will be meted out peacefully. She then sent her message to the delegation saying that she had two sons, one Hindu and one Muslim, of which the Hindu son is elder and will be respected by the Muslim son. So the Ramdol procession will be taken out first before the Muharram juloos.'

The day following the procession of 8th Muharram, marks another ritualistic procession where apart from Muslims, Hindu women of the town fast for three days and stand in front of the Taziya for 24 hours straight singing traditional dohe on the matryrs.



Top Syrian cleric, Mehbooba Mufti stress on weeding out ‘cult of violence’ from Muslim society

September 29, 2017

Syria’s senior-most Muslim cleric Ahmad Bader Eddin Mohammad Adib Hassoun on Friday met Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, with the two leaders stressing on the need to “weed out the cult of violence” from the Muslim society.

The grand mufti of Syria had earlier met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who had assured him of India’s support in the fight against terrorism of the war-ravaged country, which is a major theatre of the dreaded ISIS.

During the meeting on Friday, the chief minister and the grand mufti discussed several issues confronting the Muslim world and “the need to weed out the cult of violence from the Muslim society”, an official spokesman said.

“They also underscored the need for inculcating values of peace, tolerance and coexistence among the younger generation,” the spokesman said.

“You are a role model for the Muslim world and Syrian women would take an inspiration from your personality,” the grand mufti was quoted as saying to the chief minister.

He also extended an invitation to her to visit Syria.

The two leaders exchanged ideas on education, social system, history and welfare of the Muslim world and the need for effective inter-faith communication to spread the message of Islam, the spokesman added.

Mehbooba informed Hassoun of various developmental initiatives undertaken by her government in the state including the education and empowerment of women.

The chief minister invited the grand mufti and his delegation to visit the state again for exhaustive sessions with local religious scholars and academicians.

The grand mufti informed the chief minister that he was happy to know about her views on various issues.

The visit of the senior-most cleric has been coordinated by Indian Council of Cultural Relations, New Delhi.

Full report at:



To demolish real identity of Islam, New Delhi is propagating ‘Sufi Islam’, says Geelani

SEPTEMBER 29, 2017


Addressing a meagre audience of activists and scholars at his Hyderpora residence on Thursday on the occasion of Hazrat Imam Hussain’s (R.A) death anniversary, the octogenarian Hurriyat patriarch and senior resistance leader turned nostalgic and said: “Elders in the Jama’at would say that Geelani Sb’s memory is very strong.” “But now,” he swiftly added, “I forget things.”

Geelani was referring to the time when he was a basic member of Jama’at-e-Islami, Kashmir’s largest socio-religious political organisation.

During his over 40 minute’s speech on the incident of “Karbala”, Geelani, evidently, needed help. Intermittently, the scholars present had to aid Geelani to recall incidents or couplets.

“I have lost that semblance and vigour (as an orator) in which I would deliver presidential addresses (during public meetings),” Geelani said of his days as the political bureau head of Jama’at up to 2004. The same year Geelani parted ways with Jama’at and formed Tehreek-e-Hurriyat.

Pertinently, Geelani was allowed to hold a gathering at his residence, after more than a year.

The event, which lasted more than five hours at the Hyderpora residence of Geelani, however, witnessed a meagre participation. Not more than 70 people were present in the audience.

The octogenarian resistance leader impressed upon the youth to stick to the teachings of Qura’an.

“We in Kashmir are facing difficult times. The identity of Islam is under threat,” Geelani said, cautioning people against sectarianism. “This is my earnest appeal to youth: to make it their daily schedule to read Qur’an and Hadees,” he said. “For easy understanding of Qur’an, they should consult the 6-volume Tafheem-ul-Quran and for that, (knowing) Urdu is must.”

Geelani, who had apparently turned weak and frail, said, that the government of India has hatched a conspiracy to demolish the real identity of Islam “Government of India is propagating new term ‘Sufi Islam’ and publicizing it en-masse,” he said, “Islam is Islam, no Sufi Islam,” Geelani cautioned and while addressing the youth said they have to counter such “evil designs”. “This is New Delhi’s conspiracy.”

The octogenarian resistance leader said that Muslims in the subcontinent have their Islamic treasure in Urdu literature. Besides, he was all praise for the “Sha’ir-e-Mashriq” Allama Iqbal.

“Urdu is a must for Muslims in Kashmir, India and Pakistan, to understand Islam in the true sense,” he said. “More so,” he asserted, “I am of the firm belief that the clean-shaven Sir Muhammad Iqbal had understood Islam more clearly than those with long beard.”

The Kashmiri youth, Geelani insisted, “must read and follow the teachings of the ‘Poet of East’.”

Geelani also made a fervent appeal to the people to stay away from pro-India parties. “Allama has made it clear in his poetry that slavery is worse than death. Slaves have to die every day under (an) occupation.”

“Slaves cannot understand the occupier’s tricks,” he said. “Roads, employment, hospitals, daily-wage jobs – they cannot make us forget the raids, the harassment of women, the rapes and killings of innocents,” Geelani said.

“To achieve success in the current crisis,” Geelani told his audience – which could be counted on fingertips – “Azadi from India should be our mission.”

Full report at:



No, the Uniform Civil Code was not deferred just for Muslims

Sep 30, 2017

By Rohit De

The dominant narrative about the Uniform Civil Code in the Constituent Assembly describes it as a compromise between equality and pluralism. While women members like Hansa Mehta and liberal egalitarians like Ambedkar advocated for state reform of family law, Muslim conservatives argued that this would impede their religious freedom. Muslim League members within the Constituent Assembly proposed amendments to exclude "personal law of the community" from the operation of the Uniform Civil Code. The Jamaat-e-Ulema-e-Hind demanded specific provisions for protecting Muslim personal law from interference in the future Constitution.

Given the need to ensure that Indian Muslims felt secure in a majoritarian secular leadership, the goals of equality and uniformity were deferred by placing the UCC within the non-implementable Directive Principles of State Policy. All the above facts are accurate.

However, this narrative both ignores the significant Hindu opposition to the Uniform Civil Code, as well as the fact that the impending reforms in the 1940s were in Hindu law. Muslim law had undergone significant legislative reform in the late '30s. In contrast to their Hindu and Christian sisters, under formal law Muslim women could inherit and hold property, maintain a separate legal identity from their husband, were required to give consent to marriages and could independently sue for divorce in the courts. The Muslim legislative reforms of the 1930s were remarkable because despite years of opposition to

state interference, the community had used the instruments of the colonial state and secular lawmaking to change Muslim personal law.

Hindu reformers sought to find common ground in the language of equality and progress.

Dr. G.V. Deshmukh who had authored several bills to give Hindu women the right to property was an enthusiastic supporter of the Shariat Act, noting that it abolished customary laws that prevented women from inheriting. He said that if "Mohammedan society progresses, in future every society in India will follow their example". Radhabai Subbaroyan, the sole woman legislator, praised the Muslim members for granting women the same right to claim divorce and hoped they would be "guided by the sense of justice in all matters regarding women", much to the alarm of Hindu conservative members.

The Shariat Act was analogised to the UCC by K.M Munshi, who noted that it abolished the customs of several Muslim groups without their consent. Since Muslim law had recently been reformed, the main legislative reforms on the anvil in 1945 were the draft Hindu Code Bill and a slate of anti-untouchability and temple entry legislations.

In 1931, the Indian National Congress had spelt out a constitutional vision that would use instruments of state to transform society and the economy. In 1945, the All India Women's Conference had issued a Charter of Rights and Duties that placed family law reform as a major agenda. Sir B.N Rau and Dr Ambedkar, the two men most closely associated with drafting the Constitution, were also involved in heading the committee to reform the Hindu Code. The Hindu Code reforms and the Constitution were seen as joint projects. Orthodox Hindus and caste groups looked upon the debates on freedom of religion with foreboding and petitioned the Constituent Assembly demanding that the state not interfere with Hindu religious practice.

A petitioner from Madras expressed concern at the proposed abolition of untouchability, noting while "communal" untouchability was bad, there are religious occasions (like births, deaths and marriages) as well as the monthly periods of women when caste untouchability is required.

Other letters protested that the draft Constitution took away from the privilege of freedom of religion, by allowing the state to intervene in any 'secular activity' of a religious body. How could a secular government, not guided by religious principles, make laws on religious practice in the name of social welfare or to throw upon religious institutions to all communities?

The Hindu Women's Association of Kumbakonam reminded the assembly that the "ceremonies, marriage, and social functions of Hindu are based on religion and guided by Sastric principles" and only religious authorities could reform them. The Vaishnava Siddhantha Sabha noted that while the Congress had been crying for toleration and religious freedom, in practical work, it was intolerant in stating that religion would be subordinated to the general welfare of the country. On the question of untouchability, the Sabha pleaded for tolerance of their orthodox views and complained that orthodox Hindus were underrepresented in the Assembly. Coordinated resolutions and petitions from across India protested the government's interference in Hindu dharma and sastras without involving religious readers.

The All India Varnashrama Samaj Sangh argued that the Constitution should give the fundamental right to every person to live according to the tenets of their own scriptures.

If a provision in the scripture was considered unfair to some members of the religion, it may not be overridden by the state and the remedy to such members was that they could leave the religion. They argued that any law that intervenes in religious practice had to be reviewed by a statutory body of religious experts who would decide whether the law was in conflict with the scriptures.

In the early years of Independence, the resistance to Hindu law reform became a chief plank of opposition to the government both from Congress members and the public. The first constitutional challenge to personal laws came not from a commitment to equality, but from a Hindu man who wanted to continue to practice polygamy.

Full report at:



India on Rohingya crisis: Committed to assisting Bangladesh

September 30, 2017

Amid the Rohingyas crisis, India on Friday said its focus is on providing humanitarian assistance to Bangladesh and extending support in handling the situation. New Delhi has sent 53 tonnes of relief materials to Bangladesh for Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar.

MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India had so far sent three sorties of relief material to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, and the two countries were in touch to resolve the situation arising out of arrival of displaced persons there. “We are committed to assisting Bangladesh and extending our full support in handling the issue,” he said.

On reports of mass graves of Rohingya Hindus being discovered, Kumar said, “We have seen press reports about these graves and have also seen the statement issued by state Councillor’s office.”

Full report at:



Jadhav-terrorist swap offer Pakistan’s ‘imaginary lie’: MEA

Gaurav Talwar

Sep 30, 2017

NEW DELHI: India described as "an imaginary lie'' Pakistan's assertion that it received an offer to swap alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav for a terrorist accused of perpetrating the Peshawar Army Public School attack in 2014.

"You have already seen a press release issued by the Afghan National Security Adviser's office. If you have gone through the press release, it seems this is one more addition to the long list of imaginary lies and stories created by the Pakistani establishment," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a weekly media briefing here.

"You have seen what happened at the UN General Assembly— how a fake picture was shown to be from India but it turned out to be from another country. So, another lie has been added to the series of lies," added Kumar.

Pakistan foreign minister Khawaja Asif had claimed Islamabad received an offer to swap Jadhav for a terrorist behind the Peshawar Army Public School attack in 2014. The terrorist, he said, was now in Afghanistan's custody.

Speaking at Asia Society in New York, Khawaja said on Wednesday, "The (Afghan) National Security Adviser told me we can exchange him (Peshawar attacker) for the terrorist you have, which is Kulbhushan Jadhav," Asif said, without revealing the name of the terrorist. It was also immediately unclear when had the Afghan NSA made him the offer.

According to some media reports, as TOI reported on Friday, Afghan forces had captured Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Mullah Fazlullah.

A source had told TOI the Afghan NSA could have been hinting at swapping Fazlullah, wanted in Pakistan, in exchange for Jadhav to Pakistan's foreign minister.

Contradicting Asif's claim, office of Afghan National Security Adviser Mohammad Haneef Atmar issued a statement saying there was no mention or reference of India or an Indian citizen during his meeting with the Pakistani foreign minister on September 21 in New York. The statement by Atmar's office said the two sides, during the meeting, had detailed discussions on a variety of issues including bilateral cooperation.

"The two sides also discussed sanctuaries in Pakistan and exchange of the top five Taliban leaders detained in Pakistan.

Full report at:





Afghanistan confirms swap of five Taliban leaders held by Pakistan

30-Sep-17 by Tahir Khan

ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan's top security official on Friday confirmed his country offered exchange of prisoners and wanted repatriation of five Afghan Taliban leaders detained by Pakistan.

Hanif Atmar, Afghan national security adviser, did not mention names of the Afghan Taliban leaders in a statement posted on his official Twitter account on Friday. He, however; denied comments by Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif that Pakistan was offered to exchange Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav with a Pakistani Taliban leader involved in the 2014 attack on Army Public School in Peshawar. "[Afghan] national security adviser told me we can exchange him for the terrorist you have - Kulbhushan Jadhav," the foreign minister had said in his comments at the Asia Society forum in New York this week. "The terrorist, who killed children in APS in Peshawar, is in Afghan custody," he had said, without mentioning name of the terrorist.

Daily Times reported this week that Afghanistan has offered to hand over a senior leader of the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Mufti Khalid, in exchange of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the former deputy to Mullah Omar.

Afghan security forces had arrested Mufti Khalid in Nangarhar, who had served as spokesman for the TTP as Mohammad Khurasani, days after the brutal APS attack that had martyred nearly 150 people, almost all students.

"The two sides also discussed sanctuaries in Pakistan and exchange of top five Taliban leaders detained in Pakistan. There was no mention or reference of India or an Indian citizen," Atmar said in his statement.

Like Kh Asif, Afghan NSA also did not disclose the names of the Afghan Taliban detainees. However, sources have confirmed to Daily Times that Mullah Baradar is on the top of the men on the Afghan list.

Baradar, who had been appointed by Mullah Omar in his life as his deputy, was arrested in February 2010 in Karachi in a joint operation by Pakistani and American security officials. Pakistan had freed around 50 senior Afghan Taliban leaders in 2013 on the request by then Afghan president Hamid Karzai to encourage them join the peace process. However, none of them later entered into talks with the Karzai regime.

Sources told Daily Times that Kabul wants custody of other Afghan Taliban detainees including Ahmadullah Muti alias Mullah Nanai, a senior Afghan Taliban leader and member of the leadership council. Mullah Nanai, who had served as intelligence chief under Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, was arrested in Balochsiatn in October last year. Sources said Taliban chief Maulvi Hibatullah had appointed Mullah Nanai as judge of the Taliban court.

Other Afghan Taliban detainees are likely to be Suleman Agha, the Taliban governor for Daykund province, and Mullah Sani, also known as Samad Sani, chief of a religious school and a well-known trader, who had links with the Taliban. They were also arrested in Balochistan in October last year, according to the Taliban sources.

Mullah Rasool could be another Taliban leader, whose extradition is being sought by Kabul, sources said. Rasool, a former member of the Taliban leadership council who now heads a Taliban breakaway faction, was arrested in March last year after he fled internal fighting in parts of southern Afghanistan. Sources said he is still in Pakistan's custody.

Rasool, who had refused to declared allegiance to former Taliban chief Akhtar Mansoor, had formed a splinter group after the death of Mullah Omar was revealed in August, 2015. Pakistani officials had not offered any comments on the arrest of Mullah Nanai and two other leaders. However, one official had claimed that Pakistani action was aimed at exerting pressure on the Taliban to join peace process.



Debunking The Myth of IS’s Presence in Af-Pak

By Nauman Sadiq

Sep 30, 2017

Recently, the Islamic State’s purported “terror franchises” in Afghanistan and Pakistan have claimed a spate of bombings against the Shi’a and Barelvi Muslims who are regarded as heretics by Takfiris. But to contend that the Islamic State is responsible for suicide blasts in Pakistan and Afghanistan is to declare that the Taliban are responsible for the sectarian war in Syria and Iraq.

Both are localized militant outfits and the Islamic State without its Baathist command structure and superior weaponry is just another ragtag, regional militant outfit. The distinction between the Taliban and the Islamic State lies in the fact that the Taliban follow Deobandi sect of Sunni Islam which is a sect native to South Asia and the jihadists of the Islamic State mostly belong to Wahhabi denomination.

Secondly, and more importantly, the insurgency in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan is a Pashtun uprising which is an ethnic group native to Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan, while the bulk of the Islamic State’s jihadists is comprised of Arab militants of Syria and Iraq.

The so-called “Khorasan Province” of the Islamic State in the Af-Pak region is nothing more than an alliance of several breakaway factions of the Taliban and a few other inconsequential local militant outfits that have adopted the name “Islamic State” to enhance their prestige, but that don’t have any organizational and operations association, whatsoever, with the Islamic State proper in Syria and Iraq.

Conflating the Islamic State either with Al-Qaeda, with the Taliban or with myriads of ragtag, local militant groups is a deliberate deception intended to mislead public opinion in order to exaggerate the threat posed by the Islamic State which serves the scaremongering agenda of security establishments.

Regardless, the only difference between the Afghan jihad back in the ‘80s that spawned Islamic jihadists such as the Taliban and Al-Qaeda for the first time in history and the Libyan and Syrian civil wars, 2011-onward, is that the Afghan jihad was an overt jihad: back then, the Western political establishments and their mouthpiece, the mainstream media, used to openly brag that the CIA provides all those AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades and stingers to Pakistan’s intelligence agencies, which then distributes those deadly weapons amongst the Afghan so-called “freedom fighters” to combat the Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

After the 9/11 tragedy, however, the Western political establishments and corporate media have become a lot more circumspect, therefore this time around they have waged covert jihads against the Arab-nationalist Gaddafi regime in Libya and the anti-Zionist Assad regime in Syria, in which Islamic jihadists (aka terrorists) have been sold as “moderate rebels” with secular and nationalist ambitions to the Western audience.

Since the regime change objective in those hapless countries went against the mainstream narrative of ostensibly fighting a war against terrorism, therefore the Western political establishments and the mainstream media are now trying to muddle the reality by offering color-coded schemes to identify myriads of militant and terrorist outfits operating in Syria: such as the red militants of the Islamic State and Al-Nusra Front which the Western powers want to eliminate; the yellow Islamic jihadists, like Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham, with whom the Western powers can collaborate under desperate circumstances; and the green militants of the Free Syria Army (FSA) and a few other inconsequential outfits which together comprise the so-called “moderate” Syrian opposition.

If we were to draw parallels between the Soviet-Afghan jihad during the ‘80s and the Syrian civil war of today, the Western powers used the training camps located in the Af-Pak border regions to train and arm Afghan “Mujahideen” against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

Similarly, the training camps located in the border regions of Turkey and Jordan are being used to provide training and weapons to Sunni Arab militants to battle the Shi’a-dominated Syrian regime with the collaboration of Turkish, Jordanian and Saudi intelligence agencies.

During the Afghan jihad, it is a known historical fact that the bulk of the so-called “freedom fighters” was comprised of Pashtun Islamic jihadists, such as the factions of JalaluddinHaqqani, GulbuddinHekmatyar, Abdul RabRasul Sayyaf and scores of other militant outfits, some of which later coalesced together to form the Taliban movement.

Similarly, in Syria, the majority of the so-called “moderate rebels” is comprised of Sunni Arab jihadists, such as Jaysh al-Islam, Ahrar al-Sham, al-Nusra Front, the Islamic State and myriads of other militant groups, including a small portion of defected Syrian soldiers who go by the name of Free Syria Army (FSA).

Moreover, apart from Pashtun Islamic jihadists, various factions of the Northern Alliance of Tajiks and Uzbeks constituted the relatively “moderate” segment of the Afghan rebellion, though those “moderate” warlords, like Ahmad Shah Massoud and Abul Rashid Dostum, were more ethnic and tribal in character than secular or nationalist, as such.

Similarly, the Kurds of the so-called “Syrian Democratic Forces” can be compared to the Northern Alliance of Afghanistan. The socialist PYD/YPG Kurds of Syria, however, were allied with the Baathist regime against the Sunni Arab jihadists for the first three years of the Syrian civil war, i.e. from August 2011 to August 2014.

At the behest of American stooge in Iraqi Kurdistan, MassoudBarzani, the Syrian Kurds have switched sides in the last three years after the United States policy reversal and declaration of war against one faction of the Syrian opposition, the Islamic State, when the latter overstepped its mandate in Syria and overran Mosul and Anbar in Iraq in June 2014, from where the US troops had withdrawn only a couple of years ago in December 2011.

Regarding the creation and composition of the Islamic State, apart from training and arms which have been provided to Syrian militants in the training camps located in the Turkish and Jordanian border regions adjacent to Syria by the CIA in collaboration with Turkish, Jordanian and Saudi intelligence agencies, another factor that has contributed to the stellar success of the Islamic State is that its top cadres are comprised of former Baathist military and intelligence officers from the Saddam era.

According to reports, hundreds of ex-Baathists constitute the top and mid-tier command structure of the Islamic State who plan all the operations and direct its military strategy. The only feature that differentiates Islamic State from all other insurgent groups is its command structure which is comprised of professional ex-Baathists and its state-of-the-art weaponry that has been provided to all the Sunni Arab militant outfits fighting in Syria by the intelligence agencies of the Western powers, Turkey, Jordan and the Gulf states.

Moreover, it is an indisputable fact that morale and ideology plays an important role in battle, and well-informed readers must also be aware that the Takfiri brand of most jihadists these days has directly been inspired by the puritanical Wahhabi-Salafi ideology of Saudi Arabia, but ideology alone is not sufficient to succeed in battle.

Looking at the Islamic State’s astounding gains in Syria and Iraq in 2014, a question arises that where does its recruits get all the training and state-of-the-art weapons that are imperative not only for hit-and-run guerrilla warfare but also for capturing and holding large swathes of territory?

According to a revelatory December 2013 news report [1] from “The National” newspaper affiliated with the UAE government which supports the Syrian opposition: it is clearly mentioned that along with AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades and other military gear, the Saudi regime also provides machine gun-mounted Toyota pick-up trucks to every batch of five jihadists who have completed their training in the training camps located at the border regions of Jordan.

Once those militants cross over to Daraa and Quneitra in southern Syria from the Jordan-Syria border, then those Toyota pick-up trucks can easily travel all the way to Raqqa and Deir al-Zor and thence to Mosul and Anbar in Iraq.

Moreover, it is clearly spelled out in the report that Syrian militants get arms and training through a secret command center based in the intelligence headquarters’ building in Amman, Jordan, that has been staffed by high-ranking military officials from 14 countries, including the US, European nations, Israel and the Gulf Arab States to wage a covert war against the government in Syria.

Finally, unlike al Qaeda, which is a transnational terrorist organization that generally employs anticolonial and anti-West rhetoric to draw funds and followers, the Islamic State and the majority of Sunni Arab militant groups fighting in Syria are basically anti-Shi’a sectarian outfits. By the designation “terrorism” it is generally implied and understood that an organization which has the intentions and capability of carrying out acts of terrorism on the Western soil.

Full report at:



Pakistan among Muslim countries feeling impact of US visa policy

Sep 30, 2017

WASHINGTON: Pakistan is among the countries which have witnessed a notable drop in the number of visas issued to people from majority Muslim countries, a report by online magazine POLITICO shows, as President Trump’s heated rhetoric also seems to discourage Muslim travelers from applying for visa to the United States.

Pakistan received 26 per cent fewer non-immigrant visas in 2017 compared with its monthly average in fiscal year 2016, according to the data compiled by the magazine.  However, some Muslim countries received increases in non-immigrant visas including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

A New York City-based attorney, Reaz Jafri, who deals with clients from Pakistan, India, Malaysia, and Indonesia among other countries, told POLITICO that many people from majority Muslim countries now choose not to come to the United States as they do not want to go through the “hassle” of applying for a US visa.

Jafri said he has also seen four visa denials in 2017 due to alleged connections to terror groups, including one application from a prominent businessman. I’ve been doing this for 25 years, he said. “I’ve not seen a terrorist-related denial for a client ever. “ I’m not sure what’s happening with regards to database analysis and collection,” he was quoted as saying by POLITICO.

During his election campaign in 2015, candidate Trump called for a total ban on Muslims from travelling to the United States that drew sharp criticism worldwide. After taking over the White House in January this year, President Trump issued an executive order imposing a 90-day ban from seven majority Muslim nations Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. That order was blocked by a federal judge a week later.

After months of legal battle and following several executive orders, the Trump administration was able to obtain permission but it dropped Iraq from the list. In a revised instructions issued this week, the administration also dropped Sudan from the list and added Chad. In addition, two more nations, North Korea and Venezuela had been added to the list of travel ban.

But according to POLITCO, the travel ban has not just discouraged people from targeted majority Muslim countries but other Muslim countries as well. Similarly, the number of denials have also seen rise in other Muslim countries including Pakistan.

“From March to August 2017, the number of visa granted to visitors from majority Muslim countries dropped in comparison to the 2016 monthly average. Of the 48 nationalities analysed, 33 experienced a decline while only 15 were up from last year’s monthly average,” the report said.

“Non-immigrant visas to people from all Arab nations fell 16 per cent and the number issued to people from the world’s nearly 50 majority Muslim countries fell 8 per cent, even as the number issued to people from all nations was virtually unchanged”.

The visitor visa, known as non-immigrant visa, is issued principally to business travelers, tourists and students.

Full report at:



Pakistan, Tajikistan for early Afghan peace revival

September 30, 2017

Islamabad - Pakistan and Tajikistan have emphasized the need for restoration of peace in Afghanistan for the benefit of the region.

The demand was made at a meeting between Prime Minister’s Adviser on National Security Nasser Khan Janjua with Tajik Defence Minister Sherali Mirzo and his Tajik counterpart Abdurahim Qahhorov in Dushanbe.

Janjua is on a two-day official visit to Tajikistan.  

Both sides agreed that regional countries need to play an active role to end the conflict through peaceful means and peace in Afghanistan will benefit the whole region.

During these meetings, both sides exchanged views on growing defence and security cooperation between the two countries and resolved to further expand the same to the mutual benefit.

Both sides expressed satisfaction at the bilateral economic and trade cooperation and expressed the hope that Tajikistan’s connectivity with Pakistani seaports through CPEC will bolster the bilateral trade.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Islamic State Suffers a Setback in Marawi


With timely international military and intelligence assistance, Philippine security forces have successfully contained, isolated and eliminated the threat posed by the Islamic State (IS) in Marawi.

Almost 700 Filipino and foreign fighters who embraced IS ideology and practice have been killed in four months of intense combat. Fewer than 70 IS fighters now hold a battle space of less than 10 hectares. The troop advance has been slow, as the urban area is heavily mined with snipers and explosives. IS also holds three dozen hostages, some of whom have turned fighters or supporters under duress.

IS in Marawi compared its initial success to the IS siege of Mosul, and copied IS practices in Syria and Iraq.

IS Marawi burned the police station and the city jail and freed the inmates. It executed officials, including the chief of intelligence of Marawi. It occupied homes and raided shops to replenish supplies. IS Marawi videoed its members executing Christians in orange uniform, and forced young female hostages to become sex slaves, referring to them as goats.

After burning Saint Mary's Cathedral and Dansalan College, IS took hostage Christian leaders, staff, teachers and students. To the hostages, some of whom became fighters, IS preached its ideology, which has been rejected by the Muslim population at large. Some 350,000 people were displaced from Marawi and surrounding areas, and parts of their city were reduced to rubble.

The largest IS-centric groups – Islamic State Lanao (ISL) led by the Maute brothers, and Islamic State Philippines (ISP) led by Isnilon Hapilon – sieged the Islamic City of Marawi on May 23. The ISP and ISL engaged in a fierce battle with over 12,000 military and police personnel, supported by U.S. and Australian forces. But contrary to IS expectations, Maranaos were shocked by the siege, and rejected the IS presence.

The lack of public support severely weakened the militants’ ability to hold Marawi. Their project to establish an IS province (wilayat) failed.


With the death of many of the directing figures of the fight – including Abdullah, Utto and Mahdi Maute – the battle in Marawi is coming to an end. Nonetheless, a dozen local groups that have pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi have resumed their activities in other parts of Mindanao.

Unless the threat is managed with exceptional care, IS will persist and is likely to spread from Mindanao to Sabah in Malaysia, and to eastern Indonesia.

The most active of the threat groups operating outside Marawi is the IS-directed Jamaah Al Muhajirin wal Anshor (JMA), a group in the southern Philippines with extensive links to foreign fighters.

JMA is attacking the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the largest armed group, which is working with the Duterte government to establish a permanent peace.

Guided by IS, JMA is determined to breakup MILF. IS believes that its attacks will fracture MILF and that pro-IS members within MILF will splinter and join IS-centric groups.

Esmael Abdulmaguid (alias Abu Turaipe), who leads JMA, is adept at attracting foreign fighters. The latest encounter between MILF and JMA was at Barangay Tee, Datu Salibo, Maguindanao on Sept. 27. As the battle in Marawi comes to an end, the clashes elsewhere in Mindanao are likely to increase in frequency, scale and magnitude.

End game

Until the IS siege of Marawi on May 23, 2017, the Philippine government was in denial of an IS presence in Mindanao. However, the response of the Philippine government to the Marawi siege was decisive.

The fighting lasted over four months, for three reasons.

First, the government underestimated IS ideology and fighting capabilities, especially the use of snipers and explosive devices. Second, the terrain could not be effectively cordoned and sealed. Third, the Philippine military units were trained for jungle and rural warfare, not urban warfare.

Until August 2017, the infiltration and exfiltration of IS from the Main Battle Area (MBA) enabled IS to replenish its human losses and material wastage. The fighters formed three layers of defense protecting Hapilon, Abdullah and Omarkhayam. With huge battlefield losses, the MBA is isolated, but the remaining quality leadership and the human shield of hostages will protract the fight for another few weeks.

The deaths of several leaders and experienced fighters in Marawi represent the most significant loss the IS has suffered in the Philippines to date. Abdullah Maute was IS operational leader in Marawi until August 2017, when he was killed in combat. Having lived and studied in Marawi, Abdullah planned and led the fight there under the symbolic leadership of Hapilon, overall emir of IS in the Philippines.

Today, Omarkhayam Maute, the vice emir, has succeeded his brother Abdullah, despite injuries suffered during the fighting. With the saturation of Philippine security forces in Marawi, the fight against IS is steadily coming to an end. Both Hapilon and Omarkhayam must fight or flee. Yet they are unlikely to flee and link up with other IS-centric groups. The chief adviser to Hapilon, Dr. Mahmud bin Ahmad of Malaysia, has fabricated a suicide vest, which he is likely to wear in the final battle.

The landscape ahead

Hapilon, a longtime leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group, has instructed his IS men to merge with pro-IS fighters within the ASG rank and file of Radulan Sahiron, and to plan armed attacks in different places in Mindanao. They wish to target  the cities of Iligan, Cagayan de Oro and Cotabato. Both ISP and ISL fighters have planned to conduct terrorist activities in the municipalities of Lumbatan, Bayang, Tugaya and Madalum in Lanao del Sur, around Lake Lanao. Some of these plans have been intercepted and disrupted.

However, IS Philippines cannot hold territory unless it has a stronger fighting force. As long as the MILF led by Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim is intact, IS Philippines will not achieve its immediate goals. Demography and geography limit IS expansion and dominance in the southern Philippines. Unless MILF breaks up and a large faction joins IS, the rise of IS is not an existential threat to the Philippines.

Nevertheless, the IS-centric threat landscape outside Marawi is growing. In Mindanao, several groups have joined IS. And the very presence of IS in Mindanao threatens not only the Philippines but its neighbors.

After having attempted and failed to create a province (wilayat) in the eastern edge of Asia, IS central in Syria is thinking long-term.

It intends to build IS forces in the southern Philippines and infiltrate neighboring Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country.

IS created its East Asia Division with the intention of expanding from the Philippines to parts of Northeast and Southeast Asia. If IS spreads to Sabah in Malaysia and to eastern Indonesia, it will pose a significant challenge to Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and the entire region.

Rohan Gunaratna is professor of Security Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at the Nanyang Technology University and head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore.



Imams condemn ISIS video in sermon

Hariz Baharudin

Sep 30, 2017

Imams in mosques around Singapore yesterday denounced the recent Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) recruitment video that features a Singaporean.

During the sermon at Friday prayers, which was delivered in 70 mosques, imams called the video a "propaganda piece" that was a deviation from Islam that would "taint and destruct" the religion.

In the video that surfaced last Sunday, a Singaporean fighter named "Abu 'Uqayl" attempts to recruit fighters and urges followers to commit violence in this region. The Home Affairs Ministry has revealed that the man in the video is Megat Shahdan Abdul Samad, 39.

"It is obvious that what is being committed by ISIS is not just a crime towards Islam, but towards the global community," said the sermon, which was prepared by Singapore's highest Islamic authority, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis).

The sermon added that the "jihad" narrative ISIS uses is a skewed belief, and Islam does not allow for violence to prevail.

Muslims were reminded to be careful of messages that misquote the Quran and prophetic sayings and traditions that justify violence.

Complementing the sermon, Muis also issued a statement yesterday saying the views that Megat Shahdan and ISIS propagate go "strongly against the Quranic principle of reciprocating peace and harmony".

Islam's mission, it added, has always been to "spread peace".

Devotees were also reminded during Friday prayers to uphold "religious resilience to challenge the messages that violateIslamic teachings and endanger the lives of humanity".

In a media release yesterday condemning the ISIS video, Malay-Muslim organisation Perdausunderscored the importance of a proper understanding of Islam.

"It is now ever more important to be on our guard against subversive elements that advocate the use of violence and preach extremism, hatred and discrimination of others," it said in the statement.

"We strongly believe that an open, consultative and evidence-based discussion on sensitive issues should be the way forward.

"We stress the importance for both Muslims and non-Muslims to learn about Islam from credible and accredited teachers under the Asatizah Recognition Scheme."

Mr Muhammed Faiz, president of the Muslim Converts' Association of Singapore (Darul Arqam) told The New Paper he "wholeheartedly" agreed with the sermon, saying Muis's firm stance would galvanise the community to reject misguided extremist messages.

"Muis has taken a strong and loud approach this time, and I welcome it. It is about time we got tough," he said.

Mr Faiz said the sermon and Muis's tough attitude towards the ISIS video send a message to both Muslims and people of other faiths that extremist views will never be tolerated by the Islamic council.

Full report at:



Malaysia slipping down radicalism slope, pro-moderation group warns

September 30, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 — The Centre For A Better Tomorrow (Cenbet) expressed concern today over the government’s commitment to moderation after the authorities’ “high-handed treatment” of Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol during a recent visit.

Cenbet co-president Gan Ping Sieu noted the US-based author of The Islamic Jesus: How the King of the Jews Became a Prophet of the Muslims had been stopped from leaving the country by immigration authorities on the order of the Federal Territories Islamic Affairs Department (Jawi) for questioning over a planned public talk on his book.

“If anything, we seem to be sliding down the path of orthodox radicalism,” he said in a statement.

The former deputy minister added that Akyol’s treatment was the latest in a series of creeping radicalism in Malaysian society and its bureaucracy.

Akyol who had been invited for a talk on commonalities among the three Abrahamic faiths earlier this week later wrote in the New York Times about his detention and questioning by Malaysian authorities.

According to the Turk, Jawi did not like his topic and warned him against speaking “without proper authorisation.”

Gan listed the recent protest by conservative Muslim groups over the “Better Beer Festival 2017” that eventually caused the cancellation of the craft beer event, the “Muslim-only” launderettes in Johor and Perlis, the cup segregation policy at a public school in Hulu Langat and the crackdown on an planned atheist meeting here as signs of “deepening radicalisation in our midst.”

Gan who holds a diploma in Shariah from the International Islamic University said such attitudes was a “stark” departure from the inclusiveness shown by Prophet Muhammad during his time as well as his followers during Islamic civilisation’s peak.

“If we continue down this road of extremism, we will one day reach a point of no return, as exemplified like some countries,” he said, but did not give any examples.

He urged politicians from both sides of the divide to stop using communal and religious sentiments to gain points, saying the political one upmanship will only cause a wider social rift.

Full report at:



Islamists Rally in Jakarta, Fearing Return of Communism

Sep 30, 2017

Jakarta. Thousands of Islamists protested in the Indonesian capital on Friday (29/09), accusing President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's government of discrediting them while overlooking what they believe to be the "revival of communism" in Indonesia.

The Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) has been banned in the world's largest Muslim-majority country since 1966, after a failed coup attempt against then President Soekarno was blamed on the party — at that time the third largest communist party in the world.

The incident led to a government-sponsored and military-backed anti-communist pogrom in 1965-1966, in which up to three million communists were massacred. Millions more were jailed without trial.

Recently, Islamist groups have been complaining that the PKI might be making a comeback in Indonesia. A group of them surrounded a gathering of democracy activists at the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation on Sept. 18 — accusing the event of hosting communists — and threw rocks at the building before being dispersed by police.

On Friday, white-clad protesters, wielding flags, poured in front of the main gate of the House of Representatives (DPR) building in South Jakarta amid heavy security. Traffic was redirected.

Thousands of police and military officers stood on guard at every entrance of the complex. Barbed-wire barriers and water cannons were set up at the main entrance.

After hours of oration on the streets, several representatives of the demonstrators, including members of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), entered parliament and were received by lawmakers.

Referring to the 1966 legislative decree that disbanded and banned the PKI, as well as any attempt to spread communist and Marxist-Leninist teachings, DPR deputy speaker Fadli Zon said: "The law is final, it can never be revoked."

"It already explicitly rejects all forms of communist teachings," Fadli, who belongs to the opposition Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), told the Islamist representatives.

Stalled Reconciliation

Debates on how the government should resolve the 1965-1966 mass killings have been going on since the fall of President Suharto's New Order government in 1998.

In March 2000, President Abdurrahman Wahid apologized to families of the victims of the communist pogrom and said he would try to revoke the 1966 parliamentary decree that bans the PKI.

Since then, rights activists have been calling for the government to restore justice to the families of the jailed and killed PKI members — who are still routinely stigmatized — including by organizing an International People's Tribunal in Den Haag, the Netherlands, in November 2015 that declared Indonesia should take responsibility for the 1965-1966 mass killings.

In April 2016, the government held the "1965 Symposium" to — in then Chief Security Minister Luhut Pandjaitan's words — "resolve a dark part of Indonesia's history." The event invited survivors of the anti-communist pogrom.

But since late last year, riding on the wave of popular resentment against then Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's insult of Islam, Islamist groups have been gaining grounds and they have also been increasingly vocal in accusing Jokowi's government of turning a blind eye to what they claim is a revival of the PKI.

Full report at:



No Tangerang residents at Friday's rally: Police

September 29, 2017

Residents of Tangerang in Banten refrained from participating in an anti-communist rally in front of the House of Representatives (DPR) complex on Friday, the police claim.

The so-called 299 rally, named after the date, Sept. 29, was held against the perceived revival of communism and the long-disbanded Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), an issue that sparked a mob attack on the Jakarta office of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) last week.

"No Tangerang residents are participating in the rally," Tangerang Police spokesperson Comr. Triyani said on Friday as quoted by

Based on their monitoring, the police said there had been was no mass movement of people heading to the capital.

Friday’s rally was also held to protest a regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) on mass organizations, which was used by the government to ban Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), an Islamist organization that sought to establish a caliphate.

Full report at:





UN agrees to send war crimes investigators to Yemen

Sep 30, 2017

GENEVA - The UN Human Rights Council agreed Friday to send war crimes investigators to Yemen, overcoming resistance from Saudi Arabia which sought to fend off an independent international probe. In a resolution adopted by consensus, the council mandated UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein to send a group of “eminent experts” to Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been bombing Huthi rebels since March 2015. The group will then “carry out a comprehensive examination of all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights” committed in the conflict and try “to identify those responsible.”

Launching the probe marks a victory for a group of European states and Canada, which pushed hard for an international inquiry fully independent of the Yemeni national investigation that is supported by the Saudis.

The Saudi-led coalition has been accused of bombing schools, markets, hospitals and other civilian targets in support of Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

The Iran-backed Huthi rebels have also been accused of widespread abuses, which the UN team will also probe. Saudi Arabia had for the past two years succeeded in blocking the rights chief’s call for an international inquiry.

In a letter leaked to several media outlets this week, the kingdom threated economic and diplomatic retaliation against rights council members which voted for the EU/Canadian proposal.

The Saudi envoy to the council, Abdulaziz Alwasil, ended up endorsing Friday’s resolution, which was slightly softer than previously EU proposals.

An earlier Dutch/Canadian draft asked for a Commission of Inquiry (COI) in Yemen, the UN’s highest level investigation, but that call was removed from the adopted version.

Countries with significant and lucrative ties to Saudi Arabia, including the United States, Britain and France, were reported to have sought a compromise between the EU and Arab camps, which were deadlocked through the week on a resolution.

A US envoy to the UN in Geneva, Theodore Allegra, said he was pleased the 47-member rights council was “speaking with one voice on Yemen”. British ambassador Julian Braithwaite called the resolution “a significant achievement”.

Yemeni ambassador Ali Mohamed Saeed Majawar said his government will “engage positively” with the team of experts.

For Human Rights Watch, which had argued forcefully for a Commission of Inquiry, Friday’s result still amounted to a success.

“After more than two years of impunity for horrendous crimes in Yemen, today could mark a turning point,” HRW’s Geneva director John Fisher said in a statement.

The new probe “will bring an unprecedented level of scrutiny to the conduct of all parties to the Yemen war”, he said.

Amnesty International called the resolution “a breakthrough” and a “victory” for suffering Yemeni civilians.

The conflict has killed more than 8,500 people and wounded nearly 49,000 others, according to the World Health Organization.

More than 17 million Yemenis are now facing dire food shortages, and a nationwide cholera epidemic has killed more than 2,100 people since April.

Cholera cases could hit 900,000 by year’s end, the head of the Yemen delegation for the International Committee of the Red Cross, Alexandre Faite, told journalists earlier Friday.

The situation in Yemen is often described as “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”



Former Sunni MP: Rouhani Government Failing to Uphold Minority Rights Despite Supreme Leader’s Call

Sep 30, 2017

The situation of Iran’s Sunni Muslims has not improved since Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei pointed out in a sermon that minorities are constitutionally protected from discrimination, a former Sunni member of Parliament told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

“The supreme leader’s response gave Mr. [Hassan] Rouhani a very good opportunity to take steps towards eliminating discrimination against Sunnis,” said Jalal Jalalizadeh, a former MP from the city of Sanandaj in  Kurdistan Province, on September 25, 2017. Khamenei said officials have a “duty” to respect minority rights during a sermon on August 22, 2017. The rare outreach was seen as a response to a letter he received on August 2 from a top-ranking Iranian Sunni cleric, Molavi Abdolhamid Ismaeelzahi, calling for an end to “38 years of inequality” for minorities since the 1979 Iranian revolution.

“In accordance with religious teachings and the Constitution, all the institutions of the Islamic Republic have a duty to refrain from any discrimination or inequality towards Iranians from any ethnicity, race or faith,” said Khamenei.

Jalalizadeh, who was a prominent member of the Sunni block in Iran’s parliament from 2000-04, continued: “The supreme leader’s response pointed to certain discriminatory and unjust practices that must be addressed. If officials were followers of the supreme leader, they would have taken some steps in this direction.”

“For instance, the judiciary could have hired five Sunni judges,” he added. “Or the government could have appointed a few Sunnis to head provincial departments in Sunni-majority regions. Or a few Sunnis could have joined the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council or the Expediency Council. Or the judiciary and the president could have announced that all departments have a duty to hire Sunnis.”

“We hear all these officials pledging to obey the leader, but not one of them has done anything since he called for an end to discrimination,” said Jalalizadeh.

In his letter to Khamenei on August 2, 2017, Molavi Abdolhamid called for an end to “38 years of inequality” for minorities since the 1979 Iranian revolution.

Iranian security forces have detained more than a hundred Sunnis since June 7, 2017, accusing them of being linked to the men who carried out two deadly terrorist attacks in Tehran that day. The attacks, which killed 18 people and injured 50, were carried out by supporters of the group that calls itself the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, IS and ISIL.

Despite accounting for an estimated 10 percent of Iran’s population, no Iranian Sunni has ever been appointed to a ministerial position in government since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979.

According to Article 12 of the Constitution, officially recognized Sunni branches of Islam, “including the Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki, Hanbali, and Zaydi are to be accorded full respect, and their followers are free to act in accordance with their own jurisprudence in performing their religious rites. These schools enjoy official status in matters pertaining to religious education, affairs of personal status (marriage, divorce, inheritance, and wills) and related litigation in courts of law.”

Jalalizadeh, a central committee member of the reformist Islamic Solidarity Party of Iran, criticized moderate politicians for abandoning minorities after being elected with the support of the Sunni community.

“The Sunnis have taken part in these elections without any expectations, but it is unfortunate that reformists forget them after winning,” he said.

“A quarter of the people who voted for Mr. Rouhani were Sunnis, but no one appreciated the significance,” added Jalalizadeh. “He could have at least appointed a Sunni to head one of the ministries. Or named a few Sunni ambassadors or deputy ministers.”

The Sunni politician warned that if the status quo persists, Iranian Sunnis could begin to support conservatives.

Jalalizadeh was echoing comments by Molavi Abdolhamid in an interview with Shahrvand newspaper on September 13, 2017, in which the cleric said could decide to back conservatives if reformists fail to deliver on their promises to Iran’s Sunnis.

Re-elected on May 19, 2017, Rouhani introduced his ministerial nominees to parliament for approval on August 8. He did not include any Sunnis or women, despite calls from clerics, activists and scholars for him to form a more inclusive cabinet.

Full report at:



IRGC Lieutenant Commander Plays Down Trump's N.Deal Recertification Game

Sep 29, 2017

"We have not built our life on the basis of interaction with the US, as the life of the Iranian nation is independent from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)", Gen. Salami said during a public address in the Central city of Najafabad in Isfahan province.

"If you intend to abort the deal, you'd better know that we pray God for this, because we would make better progress without the JCPOA," he continued.

The IRGC deputy chief commander said the US has no place among the geopolitical realities of the world today; "this is what we believe and we live with it".

"The nuclear deal might be your only option, but it is no option for us at all," he added.

He advised the US president to open his eyes to realities, saying, "They intend to disarm us, but we tell them that whoever is afraid of our missiles should shelter."

The IRGC commander further called on Donald Trump to focus on the huge crises that his nation are grappling with instead of starting new crises all over the world.

US President Donald Trump has cast significant doubt over whether he will certify the 2015 deal — which took years to negotiate and limits Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief — to Congress, as required by law every 90 days. Should he not do so, Congress would have 60 days to decide whether to impose new sanctions, which would put the US in violation of the agreement.

Although all parties concur Iran is compliant with the deal, senior US state department officials have started describing this as merely “tactical” compliance that facilitates malign activities.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has refused to supplement or renegotiate the deal. European allies staunchly defend the deal, which was also signed by China and Russia and endorsed by the UN Security Council. They are keen to preserve the pact to avoid undermining any prospect of talks with North Korea over halting its own nuclear program.

Full report at:



Saudi lobbies against UN commission of inquiry into rights violations in Yemen

Sep 30, 2017

Saudi Arabia has successfully lobbied against the establishment of a commission of inquiry into allegations of human rights violations in Yemen, where Riyadh’s war machine has been breathing fire during the past two-and-a-half years. 

The UN Human Rights Council adopted on Friday a last-minute compromise resolution by consensus after heavy lobbying by a Saudi-led group of Arab states with Western powers.

The resolution, which calls for sending a group of “eminent experts” to war-torn Yemen, had initially sought the formation of an independent commission of inquiry after a proposal by the Netherlands and Canada. The adopted version includes amendments presented by Saudi Arabia and other Arab states.

Reports said that Riyadh had threatened to restrict trade and diplomatic ties with the council members that had backed the much more robust version. The Arab kingdom also publicly appreciated the UK, US and France for their cooperation in securing a compromise resolution. The three countries also support Saudi Arabia’s deadly military aggression against impoverished Yemen.

On Friday, the council mandated UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein to name members of the international team to the panel, whose job is to carry out “a comprehensive examination of all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights and other appropriate and applicable fields of international law” in war-torn Yemen.

Back in June last year, the UN blacklisted Saudi Arabia after concluding in a report that it was responsible for 60 percent of the 785 deaths of children in Yemen in 2015. A few days later, however, the world body announced that the Riyadh regime would be scratched off the list, pending a joint review with the Arab kingdom.

At the time, then UN chief Ban Ki-moon acknowledged that he was forced to remove Riyadh from the blacklist after the regime and its allies threatened to cut off funding to many UN programs. The move triggered an outcry from human rights groups.

Saudi Arabia has been incessantly pounding Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstate Yemen's former President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is a staunch ally of the Riyadh regime.

More than 12,000 people have been killed since the onset of the campaign more than two and a half years ago. Much of the Arabian Peninsula country's infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and factories, has been reduced to rubble due to the war.

Full report at:



Fresh Saudi airstrikes leave over dozen civilians dead in Yemen

Sep 29, 2017

More than a dozen civilians have been killed and several others injured when Saudi military aircraft carried out separate airstrikes against residential areas across Yemen as the Riyadh regime does not shy away from its atrocious bombardment campaign against its southern neighbor.

An unnamed security official told Arabic-language Khabar news agency that Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters targeted al-Hamli area in the Mawza district of Yemen's southwestern province of Ta'izz on Friday, leaving 13 people dead and six others injured.

The official added that paramedics transported the wounded to hospitals in the port city of Hudaydah, located 150 kilometers southwest of the capital Sana'a, to receive medical treatment.

Separately, five people lost their lives and 11 others sustained injuries when Saudi warplanes launched aerial attacks against Sahar district in Yemen's mountainous northwestern province of Sa'ada.

Later in the day, Saudi fighter jets struck an outdoor market in the Bakil al-Mir district of the northwestern province of Hajjah, killing and injuring a number of civilians.

Saudi Arabia has been incessantly pounding Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstate Hadi, who is a staunch ally of the Riyadh regime.

More than 12,000 people have been killed since the onset of the campaign more than two and a half years ago. Much of the Arabian Peninsula country's infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and factories, has been reduced to rubble due to the war.

The Saudi war has also triggered a deadly cholera epidemic across Yemen.

According to data provided by the World Health Organization and Yemen’s Health Ministry, the country’s cholera outbreak, the worst on record in terms of its rapid spread, has infected 612,703 people and killed 2,048 since it began in April, with some districts still reporting sharp rises in new cases.

Full report at:



UK accused of blocking UN probe of Saudi war crimes in Yemen

Sep 29, 2017

Amid Saudi threats, Britain is trying to throw a wrench into a new attempt at the UN Human Rights Council to establish an independent international inquiry into the war crimes being committed by Riyadh and its allies in their war against Yemen.

David Mepham, Human Rights Watch’s UK director, said the UK government, a close Riyadh ally, is making “extraordinary excuses for the Saudi-led coalition” and its “half-hearted” investigations into Saudi’s deadly air attacks, the Middle East Eye news portal reported Thursday.

“Yemen is [UK Foreign Secretary] Boris Johnson’s chance to step up – to match the gravity of events on the ground with a strong British policy, rooted in justice and compassion, which can help build a better future for ordinary Yemenis,” he added.

Canada and the Netherlands are calling for an international investigation into war crimes in Yemen while Saudi Arabia is backing a competing resolution in support of a domestic probe, in which Riyadh would investigate itself. The UN, however, argues a domestic investigation lacks credibility.

The Canadian-Dutch draft resolution will be put to vote at the Friday session of the Human Rights Council.

The Saudi regime has so far succeeded in thwarting an international investigation into its war crimes through intense lobbying campaigns and using pressure tactics against the countries backing such a probe. Last year, the kingdom had its name removed from an annual UN list of countries that kill and maim children in war.

In a letter earlier this week, Riyadh threatened economic retaliation against countries that vote for the draft resolution proposed by Ottawa and Amsterdam. The letter warned that adopting the draft “may negatively affect the bilateral political economic relations with Saudi Arabia.”

Alistair Burt, the British minister of state for the Middle East and North Africa, recently told reporters at the UN that the UK government believes Saudi Arabia was best placed to investigate allegations.

“Our view is that it is for the coalition itself, in the first instance, to conduct such investigations. They have the best insight into their own military procedures and will be able to conduct the most thorough and conclusive investigations,” he said on 21 September.

A source in Geneva told the Middle East Eye that chances of an independent investigation was slim. If no agreement is reached, this will be the third year in a row that the Human Rights Council has failed to address the occurrence of war crimes in Yemen.

A press release from Human Rights Watch published on Thursday accused the United States, the United Kingdom and France — major suppliers of weapons for Saudi attacks against Yemen — of remaining “hypocritically silent” on whether they would back the international investigation of rights abuses in Yemen.

The release emphasized that the same three nations had backed a similar investigation in Syria, where they have long been pursuing a regime change agenda.

The UK granted export licenses for more than £3.8bn of arms since the start of the Saudi war on Yemen in 2015.

In this regard, Andrew Smith, a spokesperson for anti-arms trade pressure group Campaign Against Arms Trade, told Middle East Eye that “the UK government has been complicit in the atrocities carried out against Yemeni people, and now it is acting to stop them from getting justice.”

He said “the Saudi regime cannot be trusted to uphold and observe the most basic human rights of Saudi people, so how can it possibly be trusted to investigate itself for war crimes?”

Last week, Britain’s Ministry of Defense announced a new military deal with Saudi Arabia despite increasing political pressure from the Labour Party.

Corbyn also singled out the double standards of British foreign policy in the Middle East region, criticizing arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

“Democracy and human rights are not an optional extra to be deployed selectively. So we cannot be silent at the cruel Saudi war in Yemen while continuing to supply arms to Saudi Arabia, or the crushing of democracy in Egypt or Bahrain, or the tragic loss of life in Congo.”

The government of British Prime Minister Theresa May has been under fire both at home and abroad for seeking to forge closer relations with oil-rich, repressive Persian Gulf monarchies before the UK’s planned exist from the European Union.

Full report at:



North America


US says Myanmar’s 'ethnic cleansing' of Rohingya Muslims shames Suu Kyi govt.

Sep 29, 2017

The US has accused Myanmar of the "ethnic cleansing" of minority Rohingya Muslims, saying the violent bloodshed in Rakhine state had shamed the government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Speaking on Thursday at a UN Security Council meeting in New York, US Ambassador Nikki Haley expressed sharp criticism of Myanmar's civilian government and pressed the UN to consider action against members of the country’s military in response to the violence.

"We cannot be afraid to call the actions of the Burmese authorities what they appear to be: a brutal, sustained campaign to cleanse the country of an ethnic minority," said Haley, using an alternative name for Myanmar.

"And it should shame senior Burmese leaders who have sacrificed so much for an open, democratic Burma," she added.

"The time for well-meaning, diplomatic words in this council has passed. We must now consider action against Burmese security forces who are implicated in abuses and stoking hatred among their fellow citizens."

Haley's comments at the UN mark the strongest criticism yet from Washington.

During Thursday's UN Security Council meeting, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres denounced Myanmar for creating a humanitarian “nightmare” for the country's Rohingya Muslims.

Myanmar’s troops have intensified attacks against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state, home to over a million members of the desperate minority, since October 2016. The attacks have seen a sharp rise since August.

Suu Kyi is under fire by the international community and rights groups for allowing the government troops and the Buddhist mobs to impose the violent clampdown.

The volatile Rakhine state has been the scene of communal violence since 2012. Many of the Muslims have lost their lives while tens of thousands have been displaced as a result of attacks by Buddhists. The refugees largely live in camps in dire conditions.

More than 500,000 Rohingya refugees have crossed into the neighboring Bangladesh in recent weeks, creating an unprecedented humanitarian crisis as aid agencies struggle to provide food, clean water and shelter.

Many of those who have managed to take refuge in Bangladesh say Myanmar's soldiers and Buddhist mobs have been attacking civilians and burning down their homes.



Turkey suggests swapping jailed US pastor for Muslim cleric

Sep 30, 2017

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan suggested Turkey could free an imprisoned American pastor if the Trump administration extradites a Muslim cleric living in Pennsylvania -- but the State Department says that won’t happen.

American Pastor Andrew Brunson says he was jailed on bogus terrorism charges since his arrest last October. Erdoğan wants to put the cleric, Fetullah Gulen, on trial for allegedly masterminding last year’s failed coup, and has now made clear Brunson has become a bargaining chip in that effort.

Erdoğan said Thursday that Washington was pressing Turkey to return one "cleric" while refusing to hand over another "cleric."

NPR quoted the Turkish leader as saying, “You have a pastor, too. You give us that one and we'll work with our judiciary and give back yours.”

President Trump pressed Erdoğan to release Brunson when they have met.

"I can't imagine that we would go down that road," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday when asked about Erdoğan’s swap proposal.

"We have received extradition requests for him [Gulen]," she told reporters. "I have nothing new for you on that. We continue to call for Pastor Brunson's release."

She said securing the pastor’s release was very important to the Trump administration.

“It is something that the President had raised with Mr. Erdogan not too terribly long ago,” she said. “The State Department has been in as close of contact as we can be with Pastor Brunson. We were last able to visit him on September the 18th.”

She added: “We continue to advocate for his release. He was wrongfully imprisoned in Turkey, and we’d like to see him brought home.”

The pastor, who has lived and worked in Turkey as a missionary for 23 years, was pastor to a small Presbyterian congregation in Izmir, a coastal community city in western Turkey, when he was detained Oct. 6.

Initially, he and his wife were charged with immigration violations. A short time later, Norine Brunson was released.

The 48-year-old pastor from North Carolina has been accused of being a Gulen spy.

Gulen has denied involvement in the 2016 attempted coup that Turkey alleges was carried out by his followers.

Full report at:



ACLU, others to challenge Trump's new travel ban in court

Sep 30, 2017

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a number of other advocacy groups say they will challenge the latest version of President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

The organizations sent a letter to US District Judge Theodore D. Chuang on Friday, saying they will seek to amend an existing lawsuit filed in Maryland federal court in March against Trump's previous ban.

According to the new rules announced on Sunday, citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen will face new restrictions in travelling to the US.

In their letter, the organizations asserted that Trump’s latest ban, like the old ones, violates the US Constitution as well as federal immigration law, asking Chuang to schedule a conference for them to discuss a bid to stop implementation of the directive.

“President Trump’s newest travel ban is still a Muslim ban at its core, and it certainly engages in discrimination based on national origin, which is unlawful,” ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said in a statement, adding that the organization would “see President Trump in court — again.”

Meanwhile, Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior said, in a statement, that the department would “continue to vigorously defend the President’s inherent authority to keep this country safe.”

The range of new restrictions imposed on each state is different, for example in Venezuela, only certain government officials and their families are affected.

They range from an indefinite ban on visas for citizens from countries such as Syria to more targeted restrictions.

The new proclamation removes Sudan but adds Venezuela and North Korea, however, Johnathan Smith, the legal director of the advocacy group Muslim Advocates, dismissed it as the "same Muslim ban" and an effort "to undermine our Constitution."

People from the six Muslim majority countries were banned from entering into the US for 90 days in the expiring ban.

Full report at:



CIA delegation attends high-profile Sudan security meet

30 September 2017

The 14th session of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA) convened this week in Sudan with the unlikely participation of a high-level delegation from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

Fifty-One African intelligence chiefs attended the event, which is slated to wrap up on Saturday.

The participation of a CIA delegation at a high-profile security event in Khartoum has been seen by some observers as a possible sign of thawing U.S.-Sudanese relations.

Earlier this year, the U.S. lifted several longstanding economic sanctions imposed on Khartoum, citing Sudanese cooperation in the regional fight against terrorism.

However, a number of U.S. sanctions -- some of which were imposed over two decades ago based on allegations that Khartoum supported terrorism -- remain in effect.

In his keynote speech at the CISSA summit, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir described continued U.S. sanctions on his country as “unjust”.

“These sanctions have weakened my country and caused immense hardship for its people,” he said.

“But despite the sanctions,” he added, “concentrated efforts are being made to achieve national security and stability and to counter extremism.”

Al-Bashir made the remarks only two weeks before U.S. President Donald Trump is due to decide whether or not to permanently lift all remaining sanctions.

Full report at:



2 Men Indicted In Bacon Vandalism At Islamic Center


A federal grand jury in Tennessee has indicted two men on charges they vandalized an Islamic Center in Murfreesboro over the summer with bacon.

Charles Stout, 19, and Thomas Gibbs, 18, placed strips of bacon around the entrance of the center on the night of July 10, and spray painted profanity about Allah on the building’s exterior, the Department of Justice said Thursday.

Islam, like Judaism, generally prohibits followers from eating pork, thus explaining the meat’s use in the hate crime.

Though both men attempted to conceal their identities ― Stout by wearing a World-War II-era Nazi gas mask ― they were nevertheless identified from security camera footage that captured them in the act, authorities said.

Stout faces additional charges of obstructing justice after he destroyed his clothing following the crime and deleted photos of the vandalism he’d taken with his cellphone, the Justice Department said.

“When we are confronted with acts of hate it is incumbent upon every American to speak loudly and clearly that we will not tolerate such actions in America,” Jack Smith, the acting U.S. attorney, said in a statement earlier this month. “Our reaction to such acts of hate speaks to who we are as individuals and as a society.”

If convicted, the two men face up to a year in prison for the charges of conspiring and committing a civil rights violation through damage. Stout faces a maximum 20 additional years in prison if convicted of obstructing justice.

In the immediate aftermath of the vandalism, a rally in support of the Islamic Center drew a strong crowd numbering in the hundreds.

Paul Galloway, executive director of the Nashville-based American Muslim Advisory Council, said such crimes often unify the community by highlighting its goodwill instead of driving it apart.

“They’re not going to separate us from our friends, our neighbors, people of other faiths,” Galloway said. “They’re actually bringing us closer together and they’re also increasing the resoluteness of our community to be who we are.”

Full report at:



Arab World


73 Syrian troops killed in IS attacks

Sep 30, 2017

BEIRUT/BAGHDAD - The Islamic State group has killed at least 73 Syrian government troops and allied fighters in surprise attacks on their positions in a desert region, a monitor said on Friday.

The deaths came in Thursday attacks launched as the militant group faces a Russian-backed regime offensive against some of its last bastions.

The extremist group claimed the attacks against several positions south of the town of Sukhna in central Homs province, saying its fighters had killed dozens of regime troops.

The attacks come a day after IS released what it said was an audio recording of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the first in a year, in which he urged resistance.

Syrian troops pushed through the vast desert that separates the main cities of the west from the Euphrates Valley this summer and broke an IS siege of nearly three years on government enclaves in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor earlier this month.

Thursday’s attacks targeted government forces around Deir Ezzor and on their supply lines through the Sukhna area from the west, the Observatory said.

“The first attacks were carried out against checkpoints manned by loyalist troops in Al-Shula,” a village near Deir Ezzor, the Britain-based monitoring group said.

“IS then carried out a series of attacks against checkpoints along the length of the motorway from Al-Shula to south of Sukhna.”

Syrian state media made no mention of the army’s losses, but said its troops “confronted an attack by the terrorist Daesh group on the highway between Deir Ezzor and Palmyra, deep in the Badia desert.”

State news agency SANA said the army had “inflicted heavy losses on the ranks of the terrorists”, adding that units were “currently working to clear remaining Daesh terrorists from the area and secure the highway for traffic”.

The Observatory said at least 45 IS fighters had been killed in the fighting.

The attacks by the militants came as they face multiple offensives against the last bastions of their self-proclaimed caliphate.

In addition to the Russian-backed government offensive, a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters is battling the group, which is also under attack in neighbouring Iraq.

Iraq forces launch attack on

IS-held town of Hawija

Iraqi forces on Friday launched an assault on the northern town of Hawija, one of the last bastions in the country still held by the Islamic State group, which is also under attack in neighbouring Syria.

The operation came after IS released what it said was an audio recording of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi urging resistance, the first such intervention in nearly a year.

“The leaders of the Islamic State and its soldiers have realised that the path to... victory is to be patient and resist the infidels whatever their alliances,” said the voice in the recording, whose authenticity Washington said it had “no reason to doubt”.

Since Baghdadi’s previous message to his followers last November, the territory the militants still hold in the cross-border caliphate they proclaimed in 2014 has shrunk to a fraction of its former extent.

“A huge military operation has begun to liberate Hawija and its surrounding areas,” the operation’s commander, Lieutenant General Abdel Amir Yarallah, said in a statement.

Iraqi forces launched an offensive to retake the militant enclave around Hawija on September 21, swiftly taking the town of Sharqat on its second day before pushing on towards Hawija itself.

Yarallah said that Friday’s assault marked the second phase of the operation and aimed to recapture Hawija and the towns of Al-Abbasi, Riyadh and Rashad to its west, east and south.

All are mainly Sunni Arab towns that have long been bastions of insurgency and were bypassed by government forces in their push north on second city Mosul last year which culminated in the militants’ defeat in their most emblematic stronghold this July.

Yarallah said that troops were now advancing on the town of Al-Abbasi.

He said the operation involved the army, the federal police, counterterrorism units and the Rapid Intervention Force, as well as tribal volunteers and the paramilitary Popular Mobilisation force, mainly made up of Iran-trained Shiite militia.

The enclave lies east of the Tigris River and south of one of its major tributaries, the Little Zab, and troops erected pontoon bridges during the night to enable the assault to begin, Yarallah said.

The Popular Mobilisation force said that IS had set fire to two oil wells in the Alas field, southeast of Hawija, in a bid to provide cover and slow the advance of loyalists forces.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi hailed the second phase of the operation to recapture the area.

“As we promised the sons of our country, we are going to liberate every inch of Iraqi land and crush the Daesh (IS) terrorist gangs,” Abadi said.

“We are on the verge of a new victory to liberate the residents of these areas from those criminals.”

The Hawija enclave is one of just two areas of Iraq still held by IS, along with a stretch of the Euphrates Valley near the Syrian border which is under attack too.

Further up the Euphrates Valley on the Syrian side of the border, IS is facing rival offensives by US-backed fighters and Russian-backed government forces.

The militants launched a major counteroffensive against government forces on Thursday, killing 58 troops and militia in a series of attacks along their supply lines, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Most of the dead came near the desert town of Sukna, on the main highway between the big cities of the west and Euphrates Valley city of Deir Ezzor, the Britain-based monitoring group said.

Syrian troops pushed through the desert and broke a three-year IS siege of government enclaves in Deir Ezzor earlier this month. They are now battling to retake the rest of it.

Further upstream, a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters is poised to capture the onetime IS bastion of Raqa, once a byword for militant atrocities.

A top US-led coalition commander told AFP on Thursday that the militants were now breathing their “last gasps” in the city.

He said the coalition was already setting its sights on another IS-held town in the Euphrates Valley - Al-Mayadeen, between Deir Ezzor and the Iraqi border.



Syria: Linguistic, Cultural Conflict in Areas of Influence

Sep 30, 2017

Beirut, Ankara, Damascus, London- A Cultural and linguistic conflict has emerged recently among competing forces in addition to the rapid military and economic conflict in various regions of Syria, which have become areas of regional and international influence.

In the areas that are controlled by the Syrian regime, the Russians have begun boosting their cultural presence alongside their direct military presence since the end of 2015.

They have obtained a license to teach Russian in public schools and to promote the cultural activities of the Russian Cultural Center, which inherited the Soviet Cultural Center in central Damascus.

This has constituted a competition for Iranians, who have been trying to spread the Persian culture and the Shiite ideology, focusing on the poor and the countryside, amid a decline in their civilian deployment after the Russian intervention.

However, Tehran’s attempts still exist amid the spread of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard-backed militias, whose members have exceeded 60,000, and official interest in the US and French schools has declined.

The opposition areas are culturally divided into different “schools”.

In northern Syria, the Kurds are in conflict with time. After being deprived of speaking their Kurdish language, they are now studying it in areas controlled by the “Syrian Democratic Forces” which are dominated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units.

In the areas of the Euphrates Shield, which constitute about 2,000 square kilometers north of Aleppo and are controlled by the Free Syrian Army factions that are supported by Ankara, the Turkish language has spread in existing schools.

Ankara has also obliged refugees, around three million, to learn the Turkish language in Turkish camps, towns, and villages.

Full report at:



Syria, Jordan Give Ultimatum to Militants to Hand Over Nassib Border-Crossing

Sep 29, 2017

The Arabic-language al-Watan daily quoted Khalid al-Khatb, one of the well-informed sources in talks with the terrorists in Dara'a as saying that Amman has announced to the terrorist commanders, deployed in Jordan, that the Nassib border-crossing will be reopened soon whether they agree or not.

The daily added that the Syrian Army has also underlined its own conditions for the reopening of the border-crossing.

Al-Khatib told al-Watan that the Syrian Army has dispatched a large number of forces and a large volume of military equipment to the Southern city of Dara'a, adding that if the terrorists do not comply with the army's conditions, the border-crossing will be reopened by military force.

In the meantime, militant-affiliated news websites quoted the sources as saying that the Syrian government has given an ultimatum to the terrorists in the region, warning that the pro-government forces will start military operations to reopen the border-crossing if the terrorists refuse to accept their terms.

Al-Watan revealed on Thursday that Washington ordered the terrorist groups in Dara'a not to deliver the control of Nassib passageway to the Syrian army.

It reported that the terrorists' meeting, within the framework of Dara'a local council, with the Jordanian officials on reopening Nassib passageway and delivering its control to the Syrian army ended without any agreement with the militants.

Full report at:



Syrian Fighter Jets, Choppers Turn Western Deir Ezzur into Hell for Terrorists

Sep 29, 2017

The source said that the army aircraft and choppers targeted heavily ISIL's positions and movements in the battlefield along Deir Ezzur-Palmyra highway and nearby regions in Western Deir Ezzur and Eastern Homs, killing and wounding a large number of terrorists and destroying their military equipment in large scale.

The source further said that the Syrian Army troops are now carrying out mop-up operations to hunt the remaining pockets of ISIL terrorists in the region and restore security to the highway.

The source added that the army men also fended off ISIL's heavy attacks on the government forces' positions in Humeimeh and T3 regions South of the town of al-Sukhnah in Eastern Homs, killing and wounding scores of terrorists.

Relevant reports said on Thursday that the army was preparing to stage massive operations in Southern Deir Ezzur to reach the strategic city of al-Mayadeen.

A military source said that the army was reading for the operations and would move towards this vital region from two fronts.

He added that the army would advance from the East (al-Dowikhileh region) towards T2 station as the first front and towards Feizat Ibn Mawina region to pave the ground for advancing towards the two towns of al-Mayadeen and Kabajeb.

The source said that the army's control over Feizat Ibn Mawina would cut the ISIL supply routes towards T2 station, al-Mayadeen would be separated from the adjacent areas and the ISIL would be surrounded in a region from Eastern al-Sukhnah and Northern Humeimeh to Southern al-Shouleh.

Full report at:



Syrian Army Makes Fresh Gains in War on Terrorism in Deir Ezzur

Sep 29, 2017

The army soldiers engaged in fierce clashes with the ISIL in the Northeastern outskirts of Deir Ezzur city and managed to move towards the village of Hatlah Fouqani after taking control over the village of Hatlah Tahtani.

Also, the army's artillery and missile units and aircraft pounded ISIL's positions in Hatleh region, Badiyeh (desert) Khusham, and in the neighborhoods of al-Huweiqa, al-Roshdiyeh and al-Kanamat, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.  

Relevant reports said on Thursday that the army was preparing to stage massive operations in Southern Deir Ezzur to reach the strategic city of al-Mayadeen.

A military source said that the army was reading for the operations and would move towards this vital region from two fronts.

He added that the army would advance from the East (al-Dowikhileh region) towards T2 station as the first front and towards Feizat Ibn Mawina region to pave the ground for advancing towards the two al-Mayadeen and Kabajeb cities.

The source said that the army's control over Feizat Ibn Mawina would cut the ISIL supply routes towards T2 station, al-Mayadeen would be separated from the adjacent areas and the ISIL would be surrounded in a region from Eastern al-Sukhneh and Northern Humeimeh to Southern Shouleh.

Full report at:



ISIL's Front on Verge of Full Collapse in Eastern Syria

Sep 29, 2017

The sources said that two groups of ISIL engaged in heavy fighting in the town of Albu Kamal in Southeastern Deir Ezzur, leaving a number of casualties on both sides.

In the meantime, the ISIL has intensified its suicide attacks on army positions in several flanks following the rapid advances of the army and the Syrian Democratic Forces in Deir Ezzur province, the sources said.

They added that continued escape of ISIL commanders from the battlefield has pushed the terrorist group towards complete collapse. 

Just as the ISIL’s reign in Eastern Syria began to effectively diminish, the terrorist group has also launched an all-out counteroffensive on different fronts of the oil-rich province.

The Syrian army troops and Air Force launched assault on ISIL in and around the city of Deir Ezzur on Wednesday.

The army units engaged in fierce clashes with ISIL near Huweija Sakar in the Southeastern outskirts of Deir Ezzur city, destroying several positions and two military vehicles.

Full report at:



Iraqi military preparing to take control of Kurdish borders

30 September 2017

Iraq's military is preparing to take control of the international borders of the northern Kurdish region.

The preparations are part of the central government's stepped-up efforts to isolate the Kurds following their vote on independence earlier this week.

They come a day after Iraq instituted a flight ban that halted all international flights from servicing the territory's airports.

Iraqi troops now in Turkey and Iran were expected to start enforcing control over the border crossings out of the Kurdish region Saturday morning.

As the Iraqi Prime Minister on Friday said the direct air travel ban is not “a punition against the citizens of the region” the Kurdistan Regional Government refused to relinquish control of its border crossings.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a statement that the action was a constitutional measure decided by the government in the interest of the residents of Kurdistan.

Erbil-based TV Rudaw said on Friday, citing a KRG official that the regional government refused handing over the border crossings with Turkey, Iran and Syria to central government officials.

Backed by Ankara and Tehran, the Iraqi government has demanded that the Kurdish leadership cancel the result of the referendum or face sanctions, international isolation and possibly a military intervention.

Full report at:



Abadi calls travel ban constitutional, Kurdistan refuses to relinquish borders

29 September 2017

As the Iraqi Prime Minister on Friday said the direct air travel ban is not “a punition against the citizens of the region” the Kurdistan Regional Government refused to relinquish control of its border crossings.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a statement that the action was a constitutional measure decided by the government in the interest of the residents of Kurdistan.

Erbil-based TV Rudaw said on Friday, citing a KRG official that the regional government refused handing over the border crossings with Turkey, Iran and Syria to central government officials.

Backed by Ankara and Tehran, the Iraqi government has demanded that the Kurdish leadership cancel the result of the referendum or face sanctions, international isolation and possibly a military intervention.

An embargo on direct international travel to Kurdistan is set to begin at 6:00 pm local time 1500 GMT imposed by the Iraqi government to force the KRG to hand over the control of its airports to Baghdad.

Sistani says no to independence

During a Friday sermon in the holy city of Kerbala, Iraq’s top Shi’ite cleric, announced his opposition to the secession of the Kurdistan region.

Ahmed al-Safi, a representative of the reclusive octogenarian, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said in the sermon that “any attempt to make secession an accomplished fact will lead to undesired consequences affecting Kurdish citizens”.

He urged the Kurdistan Regional Government “to return to the constitutional path in solving disputes” such as self-determination for the Kurdish people, Safi said.

It is the first direct political sermon by Sistani since early 2016, in a clear sign that he attaches importance to the crisis pitting the KRG against Baghdad and Iraq’s neighbors.

Sistani stopped making direct political comments in Feb. 2016, in protest at the widespread and deep-rooted corruption within Iraqi government institutions.

Most Iraqi Kurds are Sunni Muslims but Kurdish northern Iraq is also home to some Shi’ite Turkmens and Arabs.

Masoud Barzani’s KRG says Monday’s referendum, which delivered an overwhelming yes for independence, was meant to pave the way for a peaceful secession from Iraq, through talks with Baghdad and neighboring states Turkey and Iran.

Barzani said last week one reason for holding the referendum was because he feared Iraq, split between a Shi’ite majority and Sunni minority, was becoming a sectarian-based “theocracy”, not a proper democracy as promised after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that ousted veteran ruler Saddam Hussein.

The Iraqi government has rejected any talks with the KRG and demanded that the Kurdish leadership cancel the result in order to avoid sanctions, international isolation and possibly a military intervention.

Last flight departs

The last international flight left Erbil airport on Friday as the Baghdad government imposed an air ban on Iraqi Kurdistan in retaliation for an independence vote that has drawn widespread opposition from foreign powers.

Iraq’s Kurds overwhelmingly backed independence in Monday’s referendum, defying neighboring countries, which fear the vote could lead to renewed conflict in the region.

Full report at:



US willing to ‘facilitate’ talks between Baghdad, Kurd

29 September 2017

Washington is willing to “facilitate” talks between Baghdad and Iraq’s Kurdish region to calm soaring tensions surrounding a controversial independence referendum, the US State Department said Thursday.

Iraqi Kurds overwhelmingly chose independence in a non-binding vote on Monday, drawing condemnation from Baghdad and neighboring countries.

“If asked, we would be willing to help facilitate a conversation between the two” sides, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told journalists in Washington.

Calm on all sides

“We would like to see some calm on all sides,” Nauert said, noting that the US had opposed the referendum “because we thought it would be destabilizing.”

The fallout from the vote has so far been largely political, though a flight ban Baghdad plans to impose on Kurdistan from Friday will take an economic toll as well.

Also read: Erdogan and Putin agree Iraqi Kurdish referendum has no legitimacy

The US-led coalition against the ISIS group has also said that the referendum has taken focus away from the war against the militants.

Full report at:



Coalition spokesman: Kurdish referendum caused loss of focus fighting ISIS

29 September 2017

The Kurdish referendum for independence has decreased focus on fighting ISIS militants in Iraq, a spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting the militant group said.

“The focus which used to be like a laser beam on ISIS is now not 100 percent there, so there has been an effect on the overall mission to defeat ISIS in Iraq as a result of the referendum,” said coalition spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon.

Dillon added that there had been no impact on current military operations out of Erbil’s airport.

Iraq’s Transport Ministry ordered international airlines to halt service to Irbil, the Kurdish regional capital, and Sulaimaniyah, its second city, beginning Friday evening.

Kurdish forces have also availed themselves of the opportunity the war offered to gain or solidify control over northern territory claimed by both them and Baghdad.

The issue of borders and territorial control would be a major source of contention if Iraqi Kurdistan decided to move forward with independence.

Turkey, Iran and Syria -- neighboring countries that also have substantial Kurdish populations -- have like Baghdad come out against Kurdish independence, adding a regional dimension to the dispute.

Full report at:





20 soldiers killed in Somalia militant attack

Sep 30, 2017

MOGADISHU - Shabaab militants attacked an army base in the southern Somali town of Barire on Friday, killing at least 20 soldiers and looting equipment, local sources said.

The assault on the Somali National Army military camp in Barire, around 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of the capital Mogadishu, began with two suicide attackers detonating their car bombs before gunmen overran the base, they said.

“There was heavy casualty and more than 20 soldiers were killed,” Abdulahi Haji Mohamed, a traditional elder, said by phone, adding that casualties were taken by helicopter to Mogadishu. Several other sources gave the same tally, while the Al-Qaeda-aligned Shabaab group claimed it had killed more than 30 troops.

Shabaab spokesman Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage, also known as Sheik Ali Dhere, said in a released audio message that the attack was in retaliation for the deaths of 11 farmers in a night raid by Somali commandos who were receiving US military assistance. “If the infidels killed 11 Muslims in Barire, today their casualty is more than thirty apostates according to the initial information from the Mujahideens. After getting revenge, the Mujahideen fighters looted 11 vehicles,” he said.

“This attack was a message to the US and the Somali government and anyone who violate, transgresses the Muslim society whose blood will not be forgotten.”

The Somali government did not comment officially on the attack. Mohamed Haji Ali, a military commander, told local media “there was heavy fighting this morning” but did not give further details.

Residents said soldiers’ bodies were left scattered on the ground while Shabaab fighters looted the base, stealing vehicles and weapons.

Another resident described hearing two large blasts followed by heavy gunfire.

“This attack was very sophisticated with the militants raiding the base from three directions, there were two huge blasts, presumably suicide bombs,” said Mohamed Malim.

SNA forces had only recently established the military outpost at Barire after taking control of the town in August with the help of African Union troops.

The Islamist Shabaab have been fighting to overthrow the internationally backed government in Somalia since 2007.

They have repeatedly attacked civilian and military targets with gunmen and suicide bombers.



ISIS militants killed in Libya by US airstrike

29 September 2017

Two US air strikes killed several ISIS militants in Libya earlier this week, the US military said on Thursday, the second series of strikes in the country in recent days.

In a statement, US Africa Command said the strike took place 161 km southeast of Sirte on Tuesday in coordination with Libya’s Government of National Accord.

A senior Libyan prosecutor said that ISIS militants in Libya set up a desert army composed of at least three brigades after they lost their stronghold of Sirte last year.

Hundreds of militants are believed to have escaped from Sirte before or during the seven-month campaign to oust the jihadist group from the coastal city, which it took control of in 2015.

Sheltering in desert camps, fugitive militants have become emboldened in recent weeks, occasionally setting up checkpoints on roads to the south and east of Sirte and claiming two deadly attacks against local forces.

Other than the latest strike US forces conducted three sets of air strikes targeting the camps - one in January, one on Sept. 22, and one on Tuesday.

After the first strikes some wounded militants had been arrested and some “materials” seized, Sadiq Al-Sour, head of investigations for the Attorney General’s office, said at a news conference in Tripoli.

Investigators learned that ISIS had established a “desert army” led by Libyan militant al-Mahdi Salem Dangou, also known as Abu Barakat, Sour said. The force includes three brigades operating under Dangou, each with its own commander.

“This army was established after the liberation of the city of Sirte... Now they are in the Libyan desert,” said Sour.

Separately, Sour said authorities had arrested a senior ISIS commander who supervised the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt in Sirte in February 2015.

“He gave details on the incident and indicated their place of burial,” Sour said. “We are seeking with military authorities in the central region to discover where the bodies are, and hopefully we will find them, despite the time that has passed.”

Egypt launched air strikes in Libya a day after ISIS released a video showing the Copts being beheaded on a beach.

Sour said that in the past, ISIS had used established routes to bring foreign fighters into Libya from neighboring countries including Sudan, Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria.

Full report at:



Sudan hosts largest African intelligence conference

29 September 2017

Sudan once a source of instability in Northern Africa is increasingly a source of regional stability. That was one of the themes of a major intelligence conference which concluded on Friday in Khartoum.

The Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA) is an annual gathering that began life in 2005 as a closed-door event for intelligence operatives which has grown to become the premier gathering of intelligence and security services in Africa.

Representatives from the CIA as well as French and Saudi intelligence packed the Chinese- built Friendship Palace hall in downtown Khartoum for the conference.

On Friday, Brig Gen Joseph Nzabamwita, the secretary-general of the National Intelligence and Security Services, who is also the current Chairperson of CISSA formally end his chairmanship in favor of the Sudan. During public remarks a day earlier, Nzabamwita expressed solidarity with Sudan’s efforts to have the US sanctions lifted.

This is the third time Sudan has hosted the event. Sudan remains one of the most active members in CISSA.

Sudan’s chairmanship comes as the country is increasingly seen an island of stability surrounded by conflicts in Libya and the Central African Republic.

Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir was the last to speak at the conference’s public session and noted that “Sudan will spare no effort to support our brothers the South Sudanese refugees, despite the absence of any support from the international community.”

While the United Nations believes there are roughly half a million refugees from the South, Sudan believes the number is far higher.

The Sudanese government also accuses Juba of funding rebels in Darfur and in the Nuba mountains.

“Sudanese intelligence [NISS] is one of the more innovative intelligence services in Africa, and this conference is important because it allows us to share our experiences in fighting problems like terror, an issue we face even in Southern Africa," said a member of the Angolan intelligence service who asked not to be named.

Indeed, many of the “spooks” at the conference were reluctant to speak to the media so as not to lose their cover.

For the first time, the CISSA conference included an “ideas conference” which served as a venue for senior African statesmen to share their insights on the topic of stability in the Continent.

That event was headlined by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi, the former UN and Arab League envoy to Syria.

“In African countries we all suffer from the same challenges in terms of security, destabilization is a key one fundamental,” said Mahdi Ibrahim, the former Sudanese ambassador to the United States in an interview with Al Arabiya English, “Education is a very important tool and societies cannot allow extremism to hijack the religion or society or culture, and in Sudan, we use Islam itself the real religion to deradicalize. Even Europeans and Americans have come to see our deradicalization programs.”

A recent United Nations report on extremism in Africa found that 57% of former insurgents who were surveyed admitted that they understood “little to nothing of the religious texts or interpretations.” The report also found that unlike in other regions of the world, most terrorist recruitment is face to face.

Full report at:



Libya’s Haftar requests helicopters from Europe to curb migration

Sep 29, 2017

Powerful Libyan military commander General Khalifa Haftar has requested helicopters and drones from Europe to curb rampant migration on Libya’s southern border.

Haftar, who supports the Libyan government based in the eastern city of Tobruk, traveled to Rome and Paris to bolster his stature as a main player in international efforts to stabilize the North African country.

"When it comes to controlling the southern border, my forces can supply the personnel but you Europeans must send help: drones, helicopters, night vision and vehicles," the military commander said in an interview published by Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Friday.

Libya currently has two governments, one based in the capital, Tripoli, and the other based in Tobruk. Haftar does not recognize the authority of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), which is recognized by the UN.

Italy has been the strongest backer among Western allies for the GNA.

Libya has faced a power vacuum since a US-led military intervention resulted in the downfall of its longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Since then, the country has been grappling with chaos and the emergence of numerous militant groups, including Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

Since the ouster of Gaddafi, the country has also become a key departure point for refugees and asylum seekers, who risk their lives on ill-equipped boats in the hope of reaching Europe. The boats are usually intercepted by European vessels once they enter international waters.

"I have presented a plan based on the principle that Libya is not the arrival point but only a corridor for migrants who want to get to Europe," Haftar said in the interview.

Haftar urged “all European countries interested in stopping migration” to revoke the UN arms embargo on Libya, which has been in place since 2011.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Haftar said Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti had "already accepted a training program for our soldiers in Italy."

Pinotti, however, told parliament on Thursday that Italy did not take sides in the row between the rival governments in Libya.

Full report at:



UN Human Rights Council extends Burundi abuses probe

Sep 29, 2017

The UN Human Rights Council voted Friday to extend the mission of an international probe into atrocities in Burundi, overriding strong pushback from the government accused of crimes against humanity.

The adoption of the European Union resolution to prolong the mandate by a year came a day after the council's African bloc approved a separate measure to send a team of experts to Burundi that would report their findings to the government.

The controversial African proposal, strongly supported by Burundi's UN delegation, angered Western delegations and rights groups.

They blasted it as an underhanded attempt to suppress the impact of the UN-backed probe, which has collected evidence of egregious crimes orchestrated by Burundi's government and security forces.

The EU proposal, which was backed by the United States, passed Friday with 22 votes in favor, 11 against with 14 abstentions.

The African group was split on the EU measure: South Africa and Ghana voted against, while Kenya, Nigeria and Ivory Coast abstained.

With both Burundi resolutions having been approved by the council, the crisis-riddled country is now in the rare circumstance of being subject to two investigations.

In accordance with the African-backed plan, three experts will be "urgently" dispatched to Burundi to study the situation and then "forward" their findings to the judicial authorities, who will assess their validity.

The EU resolution extends the work of the independent Commission of Inquiry, which earlier this month accused the government of crimes against humanity, including executions and torture.

"The Commission can now continue its crucial work to end the abuses and hold perpetrators accountable," the Geneva director for Human Rights Watch, John Fisher, said in a statement.

"Burundi's victims deserve no less", he added.

Burundi plunged into crisis in 2015 after the country's President Pierre Nkurunziza sought a fiercely contested third term in office.

Full report at:



Somalia: Al Shabaab Overruns Military Base in Bariire Town


Somalia's al Shabaab fighters attacked a military base outside the capital Mogadishu using car bombs and guns, killing 17 soldiers and taking control of the base and a nearby town, the group said on Friday.

Residents and officials confirmed the attack, but gave no details on casualties.

"After morning prayer today, two Mujahideen rammed into Barire military base with suicide car bombs. We killed 17 soldiers and took seven technical vehicles," Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab's military operation spokesman told Reuters on Friday, referring to pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns.

"The other soldiers ran helter skelter into the woods. We now control the base and the village."

Barire is 50 km (30 miles) southwest of Mogadishu.

Al Shabaab aims to topple the government in Mogadishu and impose its strict owns interpretation of Islam. Somalia has been at war since 1991 when clan-based warlords overthrew dictator Siad Barre and then turned on each other.

The al Qaeda-linked group was driven out of the capital in 2011, but still carries out frequent attacks on security and government targets, but also on civilians. They also target African Union peacekeeping troops.

Ali Nur, the deputy governor of Lower Shabelle region where Barire is located, confirmed the fighting but gave no more details on casualties.

Residents in Barire also confirmed the attack.

"First we heard two huge blasts at the base and then heavy exchange of gunfire followed. Now it looks like the fighting died down," Ali Farah told Reuters from Barire village.

Full report at:



South Asia


Want to See End of Terror Sanctuaries in Pak That Target Afghanistan, Says CEO Afghanistan

Indrani Bagchi

Sep 29, 2017

NEW DELHI: "Afghanistan hopes to see an end to sanctuaries for terror groups that are fighting us. That will be a very important marker towards peace," said Abdullah Abdullah, chief executive of Afghanistan in an exclusive conversation with TOI.

In New Delhi to open a trade show, Abdullah has been holding talks with Indian mining companies including Tata to explore mining opportunities in Afghanistan. "We are ready to facilitate major Indian companies to be involved in the mining of natural resources, rare earths and precious stones," he said.

The reality of the continuing terror problem in Afghanistan, of course, was brought home when Abdullah had to delay his departure to Delhi after the Taliban shot rockets at the Kabul airport hours after US defence secretary James Mattis and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg arrived. Condemning the Kabul rocket attack, MEA spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar said it was part of the discussions between India and Afghanistan.

As the new US South Asia policy takes shape, what does Afghanistan want to see? The end of Taliban's Pakistan sanctuaries is on top of the list. "On the economic front, we are looking at building connectivity and business relationships, business deals with others, particularly Indian businesses, e.g. in the mining field."

Addressing the Indian Council for World Affairs (ICWA) later this morning, Abdullah re-emphasised the problem of Pakistan. "We have some serious challenges in our relations with Pakistan. There are (terror) groups which are threatening the security of Afghanistan and based there and continue to be based there...That is a very serious challenge for us. That is a big challenge for the whole region."

Reflecting on how things have changed, he said, "I've been witness to a previous situation when India was building roads but there were concerns expressed about India's presence. Today its a recognition of the role India has played and will continue to play in this region. We welcome the South Asia policy, including the regional aspect of it, for instance, that it is condition-based and not time-based. That in itself is an important shift." Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said, is a "passionate supporter of Afghanistan."

Afghanistan and India signed a key agreement this week for India to train Afghan police personnel. India already trains ANSF officers. Afghan businessmen also asked for a special economic zone from the Indian government, Abdullah said.

With Iran and Russia taking a different stand on Taliban, Abdullah said, "Iran is an important player in the region and will continue to be so. But their messages are not as coherent as they used to be. This is due to changed realities from outside Afghanistan ... Iran considers Daesh to be a deadly threat. Daesh in Afghanistan can only take root or expand if there is instability and the main reason for the instability is that the Taliban are fighting."

With Russia, it will be tougher. Putin is sending his special envoy on Afghanistan, Zamir Kabul, to New Delhi in October, as the distance between India, Afghanistan and Russia widens vis a vis the Taliban and Daesh.

Responding to Moscow's recent statements, Abdullah said, "I must emphatically deny the Russian perception that Nato in collusion with the Afghan government is helping Daesh. We are targeting Daesh, and their main commanders have been hit. ... There is another line in the Russian argument that the Taliban are not "international".

If there are groups fighting in Chechnya or Uighurs or in Central Asian countries where they want to take Daesh-like ideologies, they are only able to do so because Taliban are fighting. Taliban are providing that infrastructure for them. That reality should not be ignored." Moscow is yet to be convinced.

Daesh, he said, is not always opposed to the Taliban, "In some areas they have worked out their differences and in some areas they remain opposed to one another. Instability is the main threat. It is because the Taliban are still fighting that other terror groups are finding a toehold in Afghanistan."



Afghanistan strongly reacts at misrepresentation of info by Pakistan on prisoners swap

Sep 29 2017

The Afghan government strongly reacted at the misrepresentation of the information by Pakistan regarding the prisoners including the alleged swap of prisoners as well as that of the alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jhadav.

“This is an information statement and to correct the record on the comments addressed by H.E. Khawaja Muhammad Asif, the Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, at the Asia Society in New York on September 26, 2017 referring to his dialogue with the Afghan delegation and in particular National Security Advisor of Afghanistan, Mohammad Haneef Atmar,” the office of the National Security Council said in a statement .

The statement further added that National Security Advisor Mohammad Haneef Atmar met with H.E. Minister Asif on 21st September in UNHQ in New York.

According to the Office of the National Security Council, the two sides had detailed discussions about the bilateral cooperation mechanisms, trilateral mechanism, and QCG. The two sides also discussed sanctuaries in Pakistan and exchange of the top five Taliban leaders detained in Pakistan. There was no mention or reference of India or an Indian citizen.

“Above stated, National Security Advisor Mohammad Haneef Atmar is hopeful that the records of the meetings are reported accurately and facts are not misconstrued for confidence building in the future,” the statement added.

Full report at:



IS bomber kills six near Kabul mosque

September 30, 2017

KABUL -  Six people were killed when a suicide bomber posing as a shepherd blew himself up near a Shiite mosque in Kabul on Friday, police said.

At least 20 people were wounded in the Islamic State-claimed attack, which happened in the north of the Afghan capital as worshippers were inside Hussainia mosque, one of the biggest Shiite centres in the city, for Friday prayers.

The bomber was grazing a herd of sheep and before reaching his target he detonated himself 140 metres from Hussainia mosque," General Salim Almas, Kabul's criminal investigative director, told AFP. Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish told AFP that five civilians were killed and 20 others were wounded. Three suspects have been detained.  Kabul's Emergency hospital tweeted that it had received 33 casualties including six children. Six dead were among the casualties. A photo posted on Twitter taken at the scene of the attack shows a man lying on the ground, covered in blood. A severed leg belonging to someone else is beside him.

Following the attack the Taliban were quick to distance themselves from the bombing. "Today's Kabul attack has nothing to do with us. After a thorough investigation we found out that we had no operation in Kabul, and this attack is not linked to us," Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, told AFP.

The Islamic State's local Khorasan province affiliate later claimed responsibility for the blast in a communique, the SITE monitoring group said.

In the past Taliban and Islamic State jihadists, who belong to the rival Sunni branch of Islam, have repeatedly targeted the minority Shiite community.

A shopkeeper told AFP that the suicide bomber blew himself to bits after he was identified by suspicious civilian guards who had set up a checkpoint about 200 metres from the mosque. Afghanistan has trained and armed more than 400 civilians to help protect Shiite mosques during the holy month of Muharram in an unprecedented move aimed at boosting security at religious sites, underscoring the deteriorating security in the war-torn country. The attacker had apparently wanted to reach the mosque while worshippers were still inside the prayer hall.

Afghan security forces patrolled the dirt street where the attack happened. Nearby shops, most of which would have been closed on a Friday, were badly damaged by the blast. Salim Shaheen, who was inside the mosque at the time of the explosion, told AFP there were multiple casualties. "We were busy offering our Friday prayers when a big bang happened and we stopped prayers and rushed out," Shaheen said.

Shaheen said "several people were killed and wounded". He and other bystanders took 15 people including six children to hospital.

There had been fears insurgents would strike as Shiites prepare to commemorate Ashura, which falls this weekend and is the most important Shiite observance.

It falls on the 10th day of Muharram, which is the mourning period for the seventh-century killing of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.

The faithful gather to beat their chests and hit their backs with chains until they bleed in commemoration of Hussein's death.

But in recent years the sacred day has been marred by deadly violence.

In 2011 a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in the middle of a crowd of worshippers at the main Shiite shrine in Kabul on Ashura, killing 80 people, including women and children.

Afghan officials blamed the bombing - the first major sectarian attack on a key religious day in Afghanistan - on Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

Last October gunmen entered the Karte Sakhi shrine near Kabul University and killed 18 people gathering to mark Ashura, an attack claimed by the Islamic State.

Full report at:



Suicide bomber killed, his comrade wounded in failed Wardak suicide car bombing

Sep 29 2017

A suicide bomber was killed and his comrade was wounded in a failed suicide car bombing in central Maidan Wardak province of Afghanistan.

The provincial police commandment in a statement said the incident took place late on Thursday close to the provincial compound.

The statement further added that the suicide bomber was looking to detonate a Vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) close to a security and government compound but the explosives went off prematurely.

The suicide bomber was killed in the attack and his comrade wounded in the explosion is in custody of the intelligence operatives, undergoing treatment and will be probed regarding the attack, the statement added.

The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the incident so far.

Maidan Wardak is among the relatively volatile provinces in central parts of the country, located close to capital Kabul.

The anti-government armed militants are actively operating in its various districts and often carry out insurgency activities, mainly in the districts lying along the highway connecting Kabul with the southeastern and southern provinces.

Full report at:



US airstrike leaves 5 ISIS militants dead in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan

Sep 29 2017

At least five militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed in an airstrike carried out in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The provincial government media office in a statement said Thursday the airstrike was carried outin Haska Mina district on Wednesday.

The statement further added that the militants were targeted in the vicinity of Nari Oba area of the district.

In the meantime, the Afghan security forces arrested two ISIS militants and confiscated weapons from them during an operation in Chaparhar district.

The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the report so far.

Both the Taliban and ISIS militants attempt to expand their foothold in the key and remote districts of Nangarhar province.

The movements have forced the Afghan forces ad US forces based in Afghanistan to conduct regular operations and airstrikes to eliminate the terrorists from expanding their insurgency in this province.

Full report at:



Rohingya Muslims say goodbye to their own after boat capsizes

September 29, 2017

Grieving Rohingya Muslim refugees buried 18 of their own, including children, on Friday, hours after they drowned off the Bangladesh coast where their boat capsized in heavy seas.

Relatives wept after they identified the bodies in a makeshift morgue and took them away to be buried in a mass grave.

“Our boat hit a big rock and it turned over,” said Lalu Miya, whose wife, daughter and two sons died in the accident late Thursday. Another two children are missing.

Suna Miya said he lost three daughters, aged 10, 8 and 3, in the accident. His wife and three other children survived.

As men prepared the burial ground in daylight, relatives squatted around babies covered in cloth. Hands reached out to touch the children. Miya bent over his daughter to cradle her head, and kissed her goodbye.

More than 60 refugees from Myanmar are believed to have drowned, the latest victims in what the United Nations says is the world’s fastest-developing refugee emergency.

A surge in the numbers of Rohingya fleeing the Myanmar military campaign has taken the total to more than half a million in Bangladesh.

Abul Kalam, 55, who survived, said his wife, two daughters and a grandson were dead.

Kalam said armed Buddhists had taken away his livestock and food a week ago. He said villagers had been summoned to a military office and told that there were no such people as Rohingya in Myanmar.

The refugee boat capsized as darkness fell, in driving wind and rain, and high seas.

Full report at:



Conflicting emotions in Bangladesh over influx of Rohingya refugees


Sept. 29, 2017

GUNDUM, BANGLADESH—The sudden arrival of half a million Rohingya Muslims has upended life in this humble village, which is now overshadowed by one of the largest concentrations of refugees in the world.

The village’s rundown school and a smattering of rice paddies sit across the road from thousands of acres of bamboo huts covered by black tarp, a safe harbour for the refugees fleeing ethnic violence in Burma. That land was once a forest where villagers picked wild fruit.

Last Saturday, the midday tea-sipping crowd hung out on the benches in front of Munwara Begum’s provisions store here. In their discussion were echoes of a conversation happening around the world about the costs of compassion toward refugees. It was one filled with conflicting emotions.

“The price of rice has doubled since they came. The price of rickshaws has doubled. Vegetables, soap, you name it, and the price has gone up,” Begum said, counting her very real grievances on her fingers. Basic economics is at work here: When demand rises sharply and supply lags in catching up, prices rise.

“And the Rohingya are rich!” she said. “They have nice phones, solar panels. The ones who’ve been here since ‘91 are in better shape than us!”

Joshimuddin, an elementary school teacher who, like many here, goes by one name, chimed in.

“Crime, too,” he said. “If a Rohingya beats someone or even murders them, they can just hide in the refugee camp. Then what are we supposed to do? They outnumber us.”

Full report at:





Tony Blair institute finds that non-violent Islamist groups serve as recruitment pool for jihadists

September 30 2017

More than three quarters of British jihadists have been involved with non-violent Islamist groups before turning to foreign fighting and carrying out terrorist attacks, a report has indicated.

Islamist groups have acted as a recruitment pool for dozens of jihadists who have gone on to join al-Qaeda, Islamic State and other terrorist groups, according to research by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.

Researchers examined the biographies of 113 people from across the UK who had joined the jihadist movement, from the 1980s to the Syrian civil war. The institute’s report says that at least 77 per cent of the sample had links to Islamism, either through association with Islamist organisations or by connections to those who spread the extremist ideology.



Muslim ‘hate preacher’ has right to Swiss asylum revoked

SEP 29, 2017

A controversial Libyan Muslim preacher accused of spreading hate speech at a Biel mosque has officially had his right to asylum revoked by the Swiss authorities.

The decision of Switzerland’s Federal Administrative Court in St Gallen is final and cannot be appealed. However, whether or not the 64-year-old Libyan national, Abu Ramadan, will be allowed to keep is residence permit and stay in Switzerland is up to the Bernese authorities to decide. Ramadan currently resides in Nidau, canton Bern.

Ramadan, who obtained Swiss asylum in 1998 and has drawn regular social security benefits for the past 13 years, holds a Libyan passport and has made some dozen visits to his homeland since 2013. The last trip, in 2017, lasted over a month. The Swiss court argued that Ramadan made these journeys despite knowing that a recognised refugee must not return to his or her country of origin, as this is a violation of refugee status.

The court’s ruling confirms an earlier decision by the State Secretariat for Migration on Ramadan’s asylum status.

Full report at:



Macron: France ready to help Baghdad ease tensions with Kurdish region

30 September 2017

French President Emmanuel Macron offered on Friday to help ease tensions between Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government over an independence vote held in Iraqi Kurdistan, warning that any further escalation should be avoided.

In a statement after a telephone call with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi, Macron’s office said he had invited Abadi to Paris on Oct. 5 to discuss the issue, but warned that the two sides should remain united in their priority to defeat ISIS and stabilize Iraq.

“All escalation should be avoided,” Macron said in the statement.



London Mayor Sadiq Khan caught in cab row with racist undertones

29 September 2017

London Mayor Sadiq Khan – the first Muslim mayor of any major western city – is currently in a stand-off with the mobile app based cab company Uber for the last one week.

Transport for London (TfL), the government regulator for running public transport in Britain’s capital announced that it will not be renewing Uber’s licence to ply taxis because of “public safety and security implications”, shocking both Uber drivers and passengers.

Apart from appealing the decision in the courts, Uber started an online petition urging the London Mayor, who is the chairman of TfL, to lift the ban, and managed to garner nearly a million signatures in the last six days.

Around 3.5 million Londoners are registered with Uber and many youngsters feel that the app-based cab company revolutionized transport in the city.

Till now, people who couldn’t use the underground or buses used the famous black taxis. By coming into the market, Uber is said to have slashed these prices and is hailed by its supporters for “breaking the monopoly” of black cabs which had become synonymous with London.

Background checks on drivers

TfL alleged that Uber did not carry out proper background check on its 40,000 drivers, a few of whom have been accused of sexual harassment and assault of women, their approach to reporting criminal offences was poor and they used a software that could be used to block regulators from gaining full access to the app.

Facing the ire of both Uber drivers and customers, Khan said: “I know that Uber has become a popular service for many Londoners but it would be wrong for TfL to licence Uber if in any way this could pose a threat to Londoners safety or security”.

Also read: Uber, beset by scandal, faces battle over ‘destructive’ lawsuit

Fred Jones, Uber’s UK head of cities, accused the Mayor and TfL of caving into pressure from the black taxi lobby that “wants to protect the status quo and reduce consumer choice and competition from London”.

Interestingly, the fight has both racial and political undertones. The 20,000 black cabs, which ply in London have mostly male, white, working class drivers and are being backed by Nigel Farage, erstwhile leader of the far-right UK Independence Party (UKIP).

Farage campaigned extensively to bring Britain out of the European Union using anti-immigration scare tactics.

Political, racist undertones

At least 90 percent of Uber’s 40,000 drivers are from ethnic minority backgrounds, mostly first generation immigrants from the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

“There is a huge disparity in socioeconomic conditions of BME (black minority ethnic) citizens and their white British counterparts. And for many of them, Uber was a way to earn a living, however modest, and come off benefits. I wonder what regard TfL gave to their legal duty to prevent discrimination as part of its decision making process” said Iqbal Wahhab, former chairman of the Department of Work and Pensions Ethnic Minority Advisory Group.

Also read: Saudi Arabia to localize jobs in Careem and Uber

Sadiq Khan – the son of Pakistani immigrants and whose father worked as a London bus driver – belongs to the left-of-centre Labour Party, appears to be batting for the black cabs. Khan argues that he would not compromise with the safety of Londoners and wanted companies that abided by the rules.

Despite online support for Uber it was the company’s new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi who blinked first and apologized for the taxi app’s mistakes in London.

The apology

“While Uber has revolutionized the way people move in cities around the world, it’s equally true that we’ve got things wrong along the way. I apologize for the mistakes we’ve made,” said the Iranian-American businessman.

“We will appeal the decision on behalf of millions of Londoners, but we do so with the knowledge that we must also change,” said Khosrowshahi.

Khan quickly seized on the apology as a way to get out of the stand-off and said that even though there is a legal process in place he would tell TfL to meet with Uber and begin talks. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Thursday called TfL’s decision “disproportionate”.

Full report at:



Macron 'ignores' Turkish contribution for strong Europe

 29 September 2017

French President Emmanuel Macron ignores the vital contributions of Turkey for a strong Europe, Turkey's Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday.

Huseyin Muftuoglu's remarks came in response to a speech Macron delivered on Tuesday regarding his reflections and recommendations on the future of the EU, in which he said Balkan countries should not "turn their backs on Europe or turn to Russia or Turkey, or to authoritarian powers who do not defend our values".

"President Macron made an unfortunate statement with reference to the Balkans, while ignoring the contributions of Turkey as a vital element for a strong Europe," Muftuoglu said in a written statement.

The spokesman noted that "it is not easy to know and understand the Balkans", and "the approach that considers the region as a field of competition belongs to those who are not aware of the realities of the region".

"Essentially, this wrong approach underlies the problems experienced in the Balkans," he said.

Full report at:




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