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Islamic World News ( 25 Aug 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Ex- Muslim Brotherhood Member Says Europe Became Backbone For Muslim Brotherhood








Ex-MB Member Says Europe Became Backbone For Muslim Brotherhood

If India Imposes War, Pakistan Will End It: Imran Khan’s Special Assistant on Information

Jamaat-i-Islami Advises Govt against Involving US in Kashmir Issue

'Genocide Day': Thousands of Rohingya Rally in Bangladesh Camps

Another 9/11 Imminent After U.S. Troops Withdrawal from Afghanistan: U.S. Senator

Malaysian Govt Ready to Meet Muslim Lawyers over Inheritance Issue

Muslims Cremate Hindu Friend in Assam village, Perform Last Rites Amidst Vedic Chants

Sudan's Sovereign Council Declares State Of Emergency In Port Sudan

Palestinian Villagers Plead With Water Company Not To Build On Muslim Graves

 

North America

US Lawmaker Finds Arrests in Occupied Kashmir, Detention Camps in Assam ‘Troubling’

Turkey sees US deal on Syria safe zone as start of wider purge of Kurdish militia

Memphis Muslims sign up to vote as part of national registration drive

Joe Walsh Apologizes for ‘Creating’ Trump, Calling Obama Muslim during 2020 Announcement

'Progress made' as US and Taliban begin ninth round of talks

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Europe

Ex-MB Member Says Europe Became Backbone For Muslim Brotherhood

Chechen Strongman Claims the West Sanctioned Him for Protecting Muslim Rights

Iran’s Zarif leaves G7 talks, unclear if progress made to ease tensions

Macron says G7 agreed on joint action over Iran to defuse tensions

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Pakistan

If India Imposes War, Pakistan Will End It: Imran Khan’s Special Assistant on Information

Jamaat-i-Islami Advises Govt against Involving US in Kashmir Issue

Thai Muslims rally to express solidarity with Kashmiris

Pakistan wants peace, but will go to war if needed: Fawad

Kartarpur Corridor perfect example of interfaith harmony, says Firdous

FM moves to paper over UAE award for Modi

PM sets up body to help meet FATF targets

JUI-F calls for ‘decisive’ long march against govt in October

3 injured in IED blast outside Pakistan Consulate General in Jalalabad: FO spokesperson

Democratic rulers can serve the Kashmir cause better, says Bilawal

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South Asia

'Genocide Day': Thousands of Rohingya Rally in Bangladesh Camps

Another 9/11 Imminent After U.S. Troops Withdrawal from Afghanistan: U.S. Senator

48 Taliban militants, 8 Afghan soldiers killed or wounded in latest Balkh clashes

Pakistani suicide bombers among 16 killed in Afghan, U.S. forces airstrikes in Ghazni

Rohingya prefer death to life without rights in Myanmar

200,000 Rohingya rally to mark ‘Genocide Day’ in Bangladesh camps

Taliban reacts to reports regarding the agreement with U.S. on interim government set up

Taliban says it will target the sites, employees and SIM Card holders of Salaam Telecom

Afghan Special Forces rescue 15 people from a Taliban prison in Kunduz

Airstrikes kill 18 Taliban militants in Ghazni, Balkh and Kandahar

Afghan Special Forces kill at least 16 Taliban militants in Logar province

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Southeast Asia

Malaysian Govt Ready to Meet Muslim Lawyers over Inheritance Issue

Religious Organizations Join Fight against Plastic Waste

Threatening yet another rally, Malay-Muslim groups demand Pakatan dissolve Parliament

As Amanah turns four, party looks to young leaders to bring it out of PAS' shadow

Jafar Umar Thalib, firebrand cleric known for roles in Maluku conflict, dies at 58

Alleged Instigator Apologizes for Racist Actions Against Papuan Students in Surabaya

Indonesia interested in exchanging information, defense equipment with Iran

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India

Muslims Cremate Hindu Friend in Assam village, Perform Last Rites Amidst Vedic Chants

Gujarat Constable Was Assaulted By Some Men In Vadodara On Saturday Allegedly For Being A Muslim

Kerala man held for suspected terror links let off after 24 hours: Report

With top Shia leader in detention, uncertainty over Muharram in Kashmir

Kashmiri leader calls for peaceful protests, blasts information blockade

J&K state flag removed from Civil Secretariat

Driver killed in stone pelting in Kashmir, two held

J&K: Protest within Press Council over move in SC

Three weeks on, politics vacuum in Kashmir Valley, little sympathy on street

Minority Affairs Ministry team in Kashmir on Aug 27-28 to identify development projects: Naqvi

India-Bahrain joint statement: Global community must reject use of terrorism against other countries

Kashmiri Pandits hold rally in US to support revocation of Article 370

PM Modi launches $4.2 mn redevelopment project of temple in Bahrain

Two arrested for causing truck driver’s death in stone pelting incident in Kashmir’s Anantnag

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Africa

Sudan's Sovereign Council Declares State Of Emergency In Port Sudan

Jordan police clash with protesters over anti-smuggling efforts

Twin bomb blasts kill at least 2 in Somali capital

Finish Off Boko Haram, Army Commander Charges Soldiers

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Mideast

Palestinian Villagers Plead With Water Company Not To Build On Muslim Graves

Israeli air strikes hit Palestinian military position in Lebanon

Three rockets fired from Gaza into Israel

Hezbollah leader calls Israeli drones in Beirut very dangerous move

Israeli army says Iranian Quds operatives planned to attack Israel from Syria

Hezbollah says Israeli drones that fell in Beirut had certain ‘targets’

Three Turkish soldiers killed in northern Iraq

War monitor says 2 Hezbollah, 1 Iranian killed in Damascus strikes overnight

Arab Coalition forms a Saudi-UAE committee to stabilize Yemen ceasefire

Five Turkish generals handed in resignations: Report

Lebanon's Hezbollah will no longer tolerate intruding Israeli drones: Nasrallah

Israel demolishes 24 Palestinian buildings in less than 2 months: UN

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Arab World

Iraq: Hashd Al-Sha'abi Downs Spy Drone over Nineveh Sky

US-Backed SDF Suppresses Protests in Eastern Syria As More Washington Military Aid Arrives

Syrian Army Preparing to Liberate Tahrir Al-Sham’s Stronghold Town in Idlib

Israel Launches Fresh Strikes on Syrian Army Positions Near Damascus

Pompeo voices support for Israel after Israeli airstrikes in Syria

Former IDF spy chief: I would not want to be Soleimani following Syria operation

ISIS mortar attack on football field kills six in Iraq

Hariri: Israeli drones in Beirut threaten Lebanon’s sovereignty

Khalid bin Salman: Strong relations between Saudi, UAE cornerstone of stability

Saudi Islamic minister meets Chechen president

Afghan president praises OIC for promoting peace
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/ex--muslim-brotherhood-member-says-europe-became-backbone-for-muslim-brotherhood/d/119571


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Ex- Muslim Brotherhood Member Says Europe Became Backbone For Muslim Brotherhood

Aug. 25, 2019

CAIRO – 25 August 2019: During an interview with French magazine ‘Le Point’, Emirati Abdulrahman Al Suwaidi, who was a former Muslim Brotherhood member, has said he regrets ever joining the terrorist organization.

Suwaidi was a Muslim Brotherhood member for 35 consecutive years before he fled the UAE to reach Oman, then Yemen, Turkey, Thailand and Malaysia, until he was finally caught in Indonesia for the possession of forged documents.

The 55-year-old former MB member further warned that Europe became the backbone of the Muslim Brotherhood, as many of the organization’s leaders are currently residing in London.

UAE President Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has pardoned Suwaidi after he discovered that the group had planned to destabilize the UAE’s security and so he decided to revoke his allegiance to it and return to his homeland.”

Al-Suwaidi was arrested by authorities in Indonesia in 2015, despite his request for political asylum after leaving the UAE.

According to human rights reports, following his deportation Al-Suwaidi was severely tortured and remained forcibly disappeared for more than 100 days before appearing in the Federal Court in 2016.

The Federal Court later sentenced him to 15 years in prison for signing a document calling for political reform.

In mid-2017, Al-Suwaidi appeared on an official UAE channel to confess and claiming that Qatar had offered passports and funds to the group’s leaders.

https://www.egypttoday.com/Article/2/74179/Ex-MB-member-says-Europe-became-backbone-for-Muslim-Brotherhood

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If India imposes war, Pakistan will end it: Imran Khan’s Special Assistant on Information

August 25, 2019

Days after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said India’s first use policy of nuclear weapons against Pakistan will be reconsidered in future, Special Assistant to Pakistan Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Saturday said if India tries to impose war, “Pakistan will end it”, Dawn reported.

Addressing a press conference in Governor House, Awan said that Pakistan will never initiate a war and at no cost, violate the international laws. However, she said, in case of a war-like situation arises, then every Pakistani will fight alongside its armed forces.

Rajnath Singh, who was recently on a visit to Pokhran where India conducted a nuclear test in 1998, had tweeted, “Pokhran is the area which witnessed Atalji’s firm resolve to make India a nuclear power and yet remain firmly committed to the doctrine of ‘No First Use’. India has strictly adhered to this doctrine. What happens in future depends on the circumstances.” The tweet had raised many eyebrows in Pakistan which has objected to India’s decision of revoking special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

Rajnath Singh

@rajnathsingh

Pokhran is the area which witnessed Atal Ji’s firm resolve to make India a nuclear power and yet remain firmly committed to the doctrine of ‘No First Use’. India has strictly adhered to this doctrine. What happens in future depends on the circumstances.

50.9K

1:46 PM - Aug 16, 2019

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The talks between the two countries remain suspended in the wake of terror attacks in the last few years. Pakistan’s offer for talks has been rejected by India as the government has maintained that dialogue can happen only after the neighbouring country creates terrorism and violence-free atmosphere.

Imran Khan in a recent interview had said that there is no point indulging in talks with India. On being asked about Khan’s remark, Awan said that there will be no talks with India until Kashmiris are present as stakeholders.

“The statement explains that the next-door neighbour should not take Pakistan’s wish for a peaceful resolution of Kashmir as its weakness or compulsion to sit with India. Pakistan will not enter into any dialogue with India until Kashmiris are present in the talks as a stakeholder,” Dawn news quoted Awan as saying.

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-pakistan-jammu-and-kashmir-issue-imran-khan-narendra-modi-firdous-ashiq-awan-5935720/

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Jamaat-i-Islami Advises Govt against Involving US In Kashmir Issue

August 26, 2019

PESHAWAR: Jamaat-i-Islami chief Senator Sirajul Haq has expressed reservations over the government’s stance on the India-held Kashmir, saying that Pakistan should not trust US President Donald Trump’s reconciliation offer.

Addressing a big rally titled “Kashmir Bachao Awami March” here on Sunday, he said that JI would not accept the government policy on Kashmir and it seemed that deal on occupied valley was finalised in advance. He said that India put political leadership of the held valley behind the bars while thousands of civilians had gone missing.

The JI chief said that people of Kashmir were looking towards Pakistan while the government was seeking mediation from Donald Trump. He advised the government against involving the US in the issue and urged it to take bold stance. He said that it was a serious matter that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plane violated Pakistan’s airspace.

The rally was taken out from Grand Trunk Road that culminated at Khyber Bazaar after passing through different localities. The venue was decorated with banners inscribed with anti-India slogans and Kashmir flags.

“If Kashmir is lost, the entire Pakistan will be deserted,” said Siraj. He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan should clarify his statement regarding large scale massacre in the held valley. He criticised the ruler of United Arab Emirates for inviting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and giving him the country’s highest civilian award “Order of Zayed Medal.”

The JI chief said that the UAE ruler had shown disloyalty towards Muslim Ummah by giving his country’s highest award at a time when India had converted the entire valley into prison and Modi had started massacre of Muslims.

He urged Islamic countries not to remain silent over the situation in Kashmir and put pressure on India to stop atrocities in the occupied valley.

Mr Siraj said that JI would appear in the held valley if the government showed lethargy and leniency on Kashmir issue. He said that thousands of Kashmiris had laid down their lives during freedom struggle. He termed Kashmir a matter of life and death for Pakistan.

The JI chief said that educational institutions had been closed in Kashmir and continuous curfew had crippled life there. He said that if the government did not take practical steps for the liberation of Kashmir then JI would decide its future line of action.

Addressing the rally, JI provincial chief Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan said that the government’s so-called diplomatic efforts did not put any impact on the Kashmir issue.

He said that Pakistan had only expelled Indian high commissioner while its high commission was still functioning.

He said that JI strongly condemned the government’s ‘failed’ diplomacy regarding Kashmir.

He said that Modi’s plane was flying over Pakistan but Prime Minister Imran Khan was unaware of it. He said that Kashmir would never be liberated through tweets.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1501697/jamaat-advises-govt-against-involving-us-in-kashmir-issue

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'Genocide Day': Thousands of Rohingya rally in Bangladesh camps

August 26, 2019

Thousands of Rohingya refugees have marked the second anniversary of their exodus into Bangladesh by rallying and praying as they demand Myanmar grant them citizenship and other rights before they agree to return.

Almost 200,000 Rohingya participated in a peaceful gathering, which was attended by UN officials, at the Kutupalong camp in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar on Sunday, police officer Zakir Hassan told AFP news agency.

Children, hijab-wearing women, and men wearing long lungis shouted: "God is great, long live Rohingya" as they marched in the heart of the world's largest refugee camp to commemorate what they described as "Genocide Day".

Some carried placards and banners, reading "Never again! Rohingya genocide remembrance day" and "Restore our citizenship".

On August 25, 2017, nearly 740,000 Muslim-majority Rohingya fled Rakhine State for Bangladesh - joining 200,000 already there - after Myanmar's armed forces launched a brutal crackdown following attacks on security posts.

Sunday's rally came days after a second failed attempt to repatriate the refugees, which saw not a single Rohingya turn up to return across the border.

"We want to tell the world that we want our rights back, we want citizenship, we want our homes and land back," Mohib Ullah, one of the organisers of Sunday's protest, told the Associated Press news agency. "Myanmar is our country. We are Rohingya."

"I have come here to seek justice for the murder of my two sons. I will continue to seek justice till my last breath," 50-year-old Tayaba Khatun told AFP as tears rolled down her cheeks.

'Long-term problem'

On Saturday, Bangladesh police said they shot dead two refugees during a gunfight in a camp after the pair were accused of killing a ruling party official.

Nearly a million Rohingya live in squalid camps in southeast Bangladesh.

Al Jazeera's Stefanie Dekker, reporting from the Kutupalong refugee camp, said: "The scale of this camp is like nothing you have ever seen. It has roughly the same population as Islamabad or Oslo."

"A city of refugees, but without the infrastructure needed to cope," she added.

The Rohingya, a mainly Muslim minority, are not recognised as an ethnic group in Myanmar, despite having lived there for generations. They have been denied citizenship and are rendered stateless.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a repatriation deal in November 2017, with a plan to return the refugees within two years.

Bangladesh, with the help of the UN refugee agency, attempted to start the repatriation of 3,450 Rohingya on Thursday for a second time after the last attempt in November, but none agreed to go back voluntarily.

"They asked if we wanted to go back to Myanmar, I said no. They asked me why. I told them that our homes were burned, our family members were raped and killed. This is why we suffered to come here. How can we go back without knowing that we will be safe?" Noor Hossain told Al Jazeera.

Rohingya leader Mohib Ullah said the stateless minority wanted to return home, but only after they were granted citizenship, their security was ensured and they were allowed to settle back in their villages.

"We have asked the Burmese government for dialogue. But we haven't got any response from them yet," Ullah told the rally.

Al Jazeera's Dekker said many were too "terrified and traumatised" to go back.

"There are reports that most of the homes of these people have been razed to the ground by the authorities, that other structures have been put up in their place, so where will they be going back to?" she said.

"These are the issues that haven't been addressed and I think many people tell you realistically that this is going to be a long-term problem for Bangladesh and potentially the region."

'Genocidal intent'

A UN-established investigation last year recommended the prosecution of Myanmar's top military commanders on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for the crackdown on the Rohingya.

Myanmar dismissed the allegations.

On Thursday, the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar released a new report concluding that rapes of Rohingya women by Myanmar's security forces were systemic and demonstrated an intent to commit genocide.

The report said the discrimination Myanmar practised against the Rohingya in peacetime aggravated the sexual violence towards them during times of conflict.

The UN has called the Rohingya crisis a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing".

"The Rohingya genocide is the last step in the continuity of persecution and a deliberate campaign of terror, violence, killings and rape waged against our people that began decades ago," the UK-based Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO) said in a statement on Sunday.

"Today, we remember and honour all those who were killed as heroes and martyrs. We will remember them forever."

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/08/day-thousands-rohingya-rally-bangladesh-camps-190825055618484.html

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Another 9/11 Imminent After U.S. Troops Withdrawal from Afghanistan: U.S. Senator

25 Aug 2019

A U.S. Senator has said that the U.S. troops withdrawal from Afghanistan would lead to ‘another 9/11’.

Speaking to chief intelligence correspondent of Fox News Catherine Herridge on Saturday, Senator Lindsey Graham said the United States cannot ‘outsource’ the U.S. national security to Taliban.

Senator Graham further added “If we left tomorrow, the Taliban cannot be trusted to take care of ISIS and Al Qaeda.”

He also added “They don’t have the capability. So when you ask our intelligence community…what would happen to America if we withdrew all of our forces. They tell us without any hesitation it would lead to another 9/11 in a matter of time.”

In response to a question regarding the timeframe for such a situation, Senator Graham said it would be “years not decades.”

This comes as the U.S. and Taliban representatives are engaged in comprehensive peace talks in Qatari capital of Doha to find a political solution to end the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan.

Counter-terrorism assurances, ceasefire, intra-Afghan dialogue and U.S. troops withdrawal are among the 4 key topics the two sides have held extensive talks for the past several months.

https://www.khaama.com/another-9-11-imminent-after-u-s-troops-withdrawal-from-afghanistan-graham-03766/

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Malaysian Govt Ready To Meet Muslim Lawyers Over Inheritance Issue

August 25, 2019

PARIT BUNTAR: The Government is ready to meet the Malaysia Muslim Lawyers’ Association (PPMM) to discuss proposals on state enactments on the administration and division of inheritance be placed under the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid Yusof said the proposal was in accordance with the needs of Muslims.

“We know the issue of inheritance division or faraid is only practised by Muslims and it is among the religious requirements, yet when we want to pursue the matter, it is not filed with the Syariah Court but it is filed with the Civil Court, and it has raised concerns,” he told reporters after launching the 30-kilometre Kayuhan Rahmah Merdeka which attracted 200 participants and the Kerian District Cycling Club at Bagan Tiang hall near here today.

He was commenting on a PPMM statement on Aug 23 which proposed states amend their enactments on administration and division of inheritance for Muslims to be placed solely under the jurisdiction of Syariah Court.

Currently in all states except Sabah, the Syariah Court has only jurisdiction to determine the distribution of inheritance to the beneficiaries while the Civil Court resolves issues related to the administration of inheritance for Muslims,

In another development, Mujahid expects the Rahmatal Lil Alamin programme to see success in 2020 after it was widely promoted throughout the country.

Mujahid said based on the programme campaign including the Rahmah programme, more than 20,000 people had been informed on the policy via Rahmah programme, Syariah Maqasid series, Rahmah ambassadors and campus tours.

“We are not affected by groups out to create confusion among Muslims on the concept of Rahmatan lil Alamin,” he said. - Bernama

https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2019/08/515928/govt-ready-meet-muslim-lawyers-over-inheritance-issue

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Muslims Cremate Hindu Friend in Assam village, Perform Last Rites Amidst Vedic Chants

August 25, 2019

Rangia: A group of Muslim villagers in Assam's Kamrup district has performed the last rites of a Hindu man, who had stayed at a Muslim friend's residence with his family for over 25 years, officials said on Sunday.

Sixty-five-year-old Rajkumar Gaur used to stay at Saddam Hussain's residence in Rangia's Khandikar village after the death of his father rendered him homeless in the 1990s.

After Rajkumar Gaur died on Saturday, Hussain and his friends pooled money to purchase the items required for a Hindu cremation and arranged a priest, said Shukur Ali, a resident of Khandikar village.

They also carried his body to the cremation ground and set fire to the funeral pyre amidst chanting of Vedic chants, Maidul Islam of the same village said.

Upen Das of a neighbouring Hindu village backed this version saying the people of Khandikar had asked him for the list of items needed for Gaur's last rites. Official sources said the administration was not involved in the cremation but was aware of the incident.

Hussain said he had given shelter to Gaur after he was forced to vacate the Railway quarters where he was living following the death of his father who had come to Assam from Uttar Pradesh. "I had built a dwelling for Rajkumar inside my premises so that he could live with his family," he said.

Gaur remained a Hindu but used to take part in Muslim religious and social functions, another villager Majibar Rahman said.

His two daughters were married to Muslims. "The gesture is in line with the traditional Shankardeb-Azan Fakir communal harmony culture of Assam," All BTAD Minority Students' Union central secretary Najrul Islam said.

While Srimanta Sankardeva was a 16th century Hindu polymath and socio-religious reformer, Azan Fakir was a Muslim preacher from Baghdad who had come to Sivasagar in Assam and

unified the people there.

Earlier this month, Hindu youths from Sivasagar and Charaideo districts of eastern Assam provided thousands of Muslims from western Assam, who had gone there for NRC re-verification, with food, water and ORS for free.

https://www.news18.com/news/india/muslims-cremate-hindu-friend-in-assam-village-perform-last-rites-amidst-vedic-chants-2283645.html

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Sudan's sovereign council declares state of emergency in Port Sudan

Aug 25, 2019

Sudan activated a state of emergency Sunday in an eastern state and ordered a probe into deadly tribal violence that has rocked the region for days, authorities said.

Clashes have raged since Wednesday between the tribes of Bani Amer and Nuba in Port Sudan, the capital of the Red Sea state.

Sudanese police said that at least 16 people had been killed and forces had been dispatched to contain the fighting. It was not clear what triggered the clashes.

"The sovereign council decided to relieve the governor of the Red Sea and the head of its security apparatus (from their duties)," the country's transitional ruling body said in a statement.

It also "ordered the activation of a state of emergency (in the Red Sea state) and the formation of an investigating committee".

It said authorities had "detected for the first time the use of firearms in the fighting, which reveals the presence of internal and external interferences to fuel the conflict".

Tribal clashes are often reported in several regions of Sudan, especially in the war-torn western region of Darfur.

Ethnically diverse Sudan was rocked by months of nationwide protests that ousted longtime leader Omar al-Bashir in April and which this month ushered in the beginnings of a transition to civilian rule.

The country is currently led by a civilian-majority body which is to oversee a three-year transitional period and pave the way for elections.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/25/604477/Sudan-triggers-state-of-emergency-in-east-over-tribal-clashes

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Palestinian villagers plead with water company not to build on Muslim graves

AUGUST 24, 2019

BEDOUINS in a Palestinian village have pleaded with Israel’s supreme court to block the construction of a water storage tank on a Muslim cemetery.

Residents of Hashem Zana rejected a proposal to move the graves after national water company Mekorot fenced off the site and “posted signs offering to help residents in moving the graves.”

No work has begun, but residents have filed a petition against the plan at the supreme court, hoping that it will order Merekot to spare the burial ground.

The cemetery was in use from the 1948 Nakba until the 1990s, when residents started to inter their relatives in another graveyard.

Merekot located the site, which belongs to the al-Ethman family, in 2017. Construction was paused after “a concrete structure identified as a grave was discovered at the site, alongside several piles of stones.”

Salam al-Ethman, whose grandfather is buried in the cemetery, said the residents do not object to the construction of a water tank, but they want it built on another hill nearby, “which professionals say is just as suitable as the designated site.

“We will be willing to co-operate in any way. Just leave the graves alone,” he said.

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/w/palestinian-villagers-plead-water-company-not-build-muslim-graves

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North America

 

Turkey sees US deal on Syria safe zone as start of wider purge of Kurdish militia

Aug 25, 2019

Turkey sees its deal with the US to carve out a narrow security zone in northern Syria as just the beginning, two Turkish officials said, with Ankara determined to purge Kurdish fighters from a much larger section of the border region.

After weeks of difficult negotiations, the Nato allies agreed this month to jointly patrol an area stretching 125 kilometres between the Syrian towns of Tal Abyad and Ras Al Ayn, and up to 15 kilometres deep, said officials who have direct knowledge of the talks but asked not to be identified in line with regulations barring them from talking to the media.

While the agreement should allow Turkey’s military to move into northeast Syria without firing a shot, the country could unleash a unilateral incursion if the zone isn’t deepened and extended by as much as several hundred kilometres at a later date, they said.

The Pentagon did not respond to a request for comment on the Turkish plans.

Turkey has deployed 10 brigades along its frontier between the Euphrates River and the Iraqi border to confront an estimated 15,000 members of the Kurdish YPG, the officials added.

A joint Turkish-US headquarters designed to oversee a buffer zone in northern Syria became “fully operational” on Saturday, state-run Anadolu Agency reported, citing Defence Minister Hulusi Akar. A first helicopter flight over the zone, which will be off-limits to US-backed YPG forces, was planned for Saturday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has declared the YPG — which took control of areas of northern Syria as security collapsed during that country’s civil war — a mortal enemy. That’s because of its links to another Kurdish separatist movement, the PKK, which Turkey has been fighting for more than three decades and is considered a terrorist organisation by the US and the European Union.

Mr Erdogan’s desire to force the militia away from Turkey’s frontier is complicated by the presence of US troops originally stationed in the region to aid the YPG in their joint fight against now largely vanquished ISIS.

Ties between Ankara and Washington have stumbled from crisis to crisis in recent years. Given the mistrust, Turkey suspects the US backs the YPG’s aspiration for some form of Kurdish self-rule, and that it’s using the group as a proxy force to defend American interests as Syria’s eight-year war nears its end with President Bashar Al Assad still in power thanks to his Russian and Iranian allies.

The Turkish-US agreement foresees the immediate withdrawal of YPG fighters from the buffer zone, with the US collecting heavy weapons it had supplied to the group, the officials said. Fortified Kurdish positions and tunnels were to be destroyed, they said. Turkey wants members of the YPG’s political wing, called the PYD, to leave the area as well.

The YPG, or People’s Protection Units, are affiliated with the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party. Both deny they are enemies of Turkey and say they seek only to protect Syria’s Kurds.

The deal allows for Turkish armed drones to start surveillance flights over the zone but the US hasn’t agreed to overflights by Turkish warplanes, the officials said. The US also opposes Turkey’s proposal to move Ankara-backed rebels of the Free Syrian Army to the area, but did agree that refugees living in Turkey could return, they said.

Joint military patrols are expected to start within a month and Turkey will set up four bases before the creation a local security force, the officials said.

Turkish demands to be able to deploy as many troops as it considers necessary to enforce security were rebuffed, with the US agreeing only to the deployment of two Turkish soldiers for every American soldier, they added.

https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/turkey-sees-us-deal-on-syria-safe-zone-as-start-of-wider-purge-of-kurdish-militia-1.902215

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Memphis Muslims sign up to vote as part of national registration drive

Aug. 25, 2019

On a Friday afternoon after prayers, 17-year-old Haneen Jaber filled out a form on the patio of the Muslim Society of Memphis.

About to turn 18, Jaber was registering to vote.

“A lot of the things that are going on in the government are made by the decision of the people,” Jaber said. “Don’t just stay in the back. Be up there in the front. That’s what you should do as an American. I believe I should put my part in and decide on good choices for America.”

Jaber was one of many Muslims around the country registering to vote as part of National Muslim Voter Registration Day. In Memphis, the American Muslim Advisory Council is holding registration drives at five area mosques, trying to increase civic engagement before the municipal elections in October.

The National Muslim Voter Registration Day is part of the #MyMuslimVote campaign, also taking place across the country.

Najmun Noor, West Tennessee program manager for the American Muslim Advisory Council, said Muslims around the world feel "beleaguered."

"Others look at us differently," Noor said. "This is a time (when) we want our voices to be heard (and) at the same time our rights to be established."

Mariam Khayata, a political science and international studies major at Rhodes College, has done registration drives in previous years. There's a realization among Muslims that they need to become more active in U.S. elections, she said.

“This is our country, we have our rights to vote and we need to take advantage of them just like every other faith group or every other ethnicity does here," Khayata said. "Partly yes, it’s because of the political climate and because we’re portrayed negatively in the media, but it’s even more than that. It’s us realizing we have this right and we need to take it.”

The group planned to register people to vote in the Oct. 3 Memphis municipal election, but that could also act as a springboard for the 2020 presidential elections, Noor said.

They estimate that there are around 17,000 Muslims in Memphis and around 40,000 statewide.

"I know that every vote counts," said Alhasan Hadidi, who first registered to vote last year. "More of the Muslim community needs to go out voting. If we don't vote, your voice won't be heard."

Khayata said that yes, part of the impetus for the drive is negative portrayal of Muslims in the media and because of the political climate.

But it's more than that, she said.

Full report at:

https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/2019/08/26/memphis-muslims-sign-up-vote-part-national-registration-drive-my-memphis-vote-city-election-2020/2087711001/

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Joe Walsh Apologizes for ‘Creating’ Trump, Calling Obama Muslim During 2020 Announcement

Matt Wilstein

08.25.19

Former Republican congressman Joe Walsh made his 2020 primary challenge against President Donald Trump official on Sunday morning during an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. And in the process he apologized for some of his most “Trumpian” statements over the past few years.

After making his case for why Trump is “completely unfit to be president” and he could be the “alternative” more traditional Republican voters have been craving, Walsh was forced to reckon with his own controversial record on This Week.

You said you want to make the case against the president. The question is, are you the best messenger?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“I helped create Trump,” the right-wing radio host replied. “And George, that's not an easy thing to say.” As part of the “Tea Party class” in Congress, Walsh said he “wanted to shake Washington up” and sometimes “went beyond the policy and the idea differences, and I got personal, and I got hateful.”

“I said some ugly things about President Obama that I regret,” he added. “And it's difficult, but I think that helped create Trump. And I feel responsible for that.”

For much of the Obama administration, Walsh repeatedly pushed the same “birther” conspiracies that Trump did and, as the host pointed out, was calling Obama a Muslim as recently as December 2016. “Did you really believe he's a Muslim?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“God no. And I have apologized for that,” Walsh answered. “And that's not an easy thing to do, not at all.” He did not offer an apology for tweeting that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) “can say dumb things” and get away with it because she’s a black woman, comments Stephanlopoulos called “textbook racism and sexism.”

Stephanopoulos neglected to ask if Walsh was sorry for endorsing arming toddlers on Sacha Baron Cohen’s Showtime series Who Is America?

Full report at:

https://www.thedailybeast.com/joe-walsh-apologizes-for-creating-trump-calling-obama-muslim-during-2020-primary-announcement?ref=scroll

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'Progress made' as US and Taliban begin ninth round of talks

Aug 25, 2019

Talks to end America’s longest and most expensive war began again at the weekend between US and Taliban negotiators.

The meeting is the ninth round about the future of America's role in Afghanistan and the possible end to hostilities between the US and the insurgent Taliban, 18 years after the invasion toppled the hardline group’s administration.

"Talks resumed this afternoon," a US source told AFP on Saturday.

The two sides were set to meet on Friday but "both decided to postpone it until Saturday", Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said.

"We have made progress and are now discussing the implementation mechanism and some technical points. The agreement will be completed after we agree on these points."

Any deal would be announced before the media, representatives from neighbouring countries, China, Russia and the UN, Mr Shaheen said.

The US wants to withdraw thousands of troops but only in return for the insurgent group renouncing Al Qaeda and curbing attacks.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy to Afghanistan, has led the talks and says he is ready to conclude peace talks with the Taliban.

Mr Khalilzad said last week that he hoped this would be the last year of the Afghan war.

Washington is hoping to strike an agreement with the Taliban by September 1, before Afghan polls due the same month, and US presidential polls due in 2020.

US President Donald Trump vowed to bring troops home in his campaign for election in 2016.

The Taliban claimed on Saturday to have killed seven members of the US military in an attack on a convoy near Bagram airfield north of Kabul.

Col Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, said some local businesses had been damaged in the attack but denied coalition or US troops were hurt.

"Rather than taking responsibility for, and apologising for, the harm they bring to innocent Afghans and their businesses, the Taliban spread lies about the attack," Col Leggett said.

On Wednesday, two US soldiers were killed by small arms fire in Faryab province in northern Afghanistan, the Pentagon said.

Mr Shaheen said the deaths should have a "positive" impact on the talks in Doha.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/asia/progress-made-as-us-and-taliban-begin-ninth-round-of-talks-1.902303

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Europe

 

Chechen Strongman Claims the West Sanctioned Him for Protecting Muslim Rights

August 25, 2019

Ramzan Kadyrov

On August 17, Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen Republic in Russia’s North Caucasus, spoke with the prominent Dagestani journalist and Muslim activist Ruslan Kurbanov in his residence near Grozny. Kadyrov complained the only reason he was on international sanctions lists was his advocacy for the rights of Muslims, and “nothing else.”

That claim is false.

The United States imposed financial and travel sanctions against Ramzan Kadyrov on December 20, 2017 “for being responsible for extrajudicial killing, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”

“As the head of the Chechen Republic, Kadyrov oversees an administration involved in disappearances and extra-judicial killings. One of Kadyrov’s political opponents was believed to have been murdered at Kadyrov’s direction after making allegations of torture and ill-treatment taking place in Chechnya, including alleged torture carried out by Kadyrov personally,” the U.S. Treasury said.

The European Union sanctioned Kadyrov in July 2014 for “publicly supporting violations of Ukrainian sovereignty” through his support for Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula.

While Kadyrov has not explained how he is “defending the rights of Muslims,” his aspirations of being perceived as the leader and protector of Muslims in Russia has long been documented, prompting criticism from both experts and many Islamic clerics.

The two most widely reported instances when Ramzan Kadyrov spoke on behalf of the Russian Ummah (Islamic community) were when condemning the French magazine Charlie Hebdo’s publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed and more recently, the treatment of Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya minority. On both occasions Kadyrov organized mass protests in Chechnya “that might foster perceptions of him as the protector of oppressed Muslims,” RFE/RL Caucasus expert Liz Fuller wrote.

“While Kadyrov enjoys posing as the defender of oppressed Sunni Muslims worldwide, his chances of being formally recognized as such, let alone ever being empowered to act in that capacity, are minimal, because many prominent and respected Muslim theologians consider him a heretic, even though they may not necessarily say so publicly,” Fuller concluded.

Kadyrov’s claim of being blacklisted by the West for his protection of the rights of the Muslims is therefore not credible, while his record of human rights atrocities is decades-long and well-documented.

Kadyrov stands accused of committing human rights atrocities “so widespread and systematic, that they constitute crimes against humanity,” said a 2006 report from the New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch.

Apart from the long list of atrocities, including forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture in secret prisons, gay purges, intimidation, and public humiliation, Kadyrov’s name is affiliated with numerous political assassinations – including journalist Anna Politkovskaya, human rights activist Natalia Estemirova, and opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

In September 2017, a Swedish-based Islamic NGO, “Chechen Charitable Association Veyfond” posted a video statement on YouTube accusing Kadyrov of ordering the kidnapping a family of five, including women and children, followed by the kidnapping of two young women – all within two weeks. Vayfond said Kadyrov-orchestrated mass protests for Muslim rights were “hypocrisy”, calling the Chechen strongman “the murderer of Muslims.”

https://www.polygraph.info/a/russia-chechnya-kadyrov-sanctions/30125984.html

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Iran’s Zarif leaves G7 talks, unclear if progress made to ease tensions

26 August 2019

Iran’s foreign minister made a flying visit for talks with host France at the G7 summit on Sunday, as Paris ramped up efforts to ease tensions between Tehran and Washington, a dramatic diplomatic move that the White House said had surprised them.

European leaders have struggled to tamp down the brewing confrontation between Iran and the United States since Trump pulled Washington out of Iran’s internationally-brokered 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on the Iranian economy.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is under US sanctions, flew to the southwest French town of Biarritz where the Group of Seven leaders are meeting. He held more than three hours of talks, including with Macron, before heading back to Tehran.

“Road ahead is difficult. But worth trying,” Zarif tweeted, adding that in addition to meeting French leaders he had given a joint briefing to officials from Germany and Britain.

French officials sought to bill the meeting as important to “refine Iranian propositions” to help defuse the crisis after G7 leaders had discussed Iran over dinner on Saturday.

“The discussions that were held between the president and Zarif were positive and will continue,” a French official said after the meeting, declining to take detailed questions.

The 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers aimed to curb Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of many international sanctions on Tehran.

Since pulling Washington out of the deal last year, Trump has pushed a maximum pressure policy to try to force Iran into a new negotiation that would include its ballistic missile program and regional activities.

While Trump’s European allies also want new talks with Iran, they believe the nuclear deal must be upheld. Macron, who has taken the lead in Europe in trying to salvage the agreement and avert a deeper crisis in the Middle East, had already met Zarif in Paris on Friday.

They discussed proposals to de-escalate tensions between Washington and Tehran, including easing some US sanctions or providing Iran with an economic compensation mechanism to make up for oil revenues lost under US sanctions.

No progress on oil sanctions

But despite Macron spending two hours with Trump over lunch on Saturday and all seven leaders discussing Iran at length in the evening, it did not appear that the US leader had budged on easing oil sanctions as Macron had sought from Trump.

A European diplomat familiar with the discussions said the leaders had failed at the dinner to persuade Trump.

Earlier on Sunday, Trump appeared to brush aside French efforts to mediate with Iran, saying that while he was happy for Macron to reach out to Tehran to defuse tensions, the United States would carry on with its own initiatives.

Macron’s invitation to Zarif had caught Trump by surprise, a White House official said, and no US officials met with Zarif during the visit.

Other delegations also said they had been informed at the last minute. The Elysee said delegations had been informed, but everything had happened very quickly.

US authorities earlier this month placed Zarif under US sanctions.

“Zarif will convey the Iranian leadership’s response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal aimed at saving Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal,” a senior Iranian official had told Reuters.

In response to the tougher US sanctions and what it says is the failure of European powers party to the deal - France, Britain and Germany - to compensate it for lost revenues, Tehran has responded with a series of moves, including retreating from some of its commitments to limit its nuclear activity.

Highlighting just how difficult it will be ease tensions, two Iranian officials and one diplomat told Reuters on Sunday that Iran wants to export a minimum of 700,000 barrels per day of its oil and ideally up to 1.5 million bpd if the West wants to negotiate with Tehran to save the nuclear deal.

One of the Iranian officials also said Iran’s ballistic missile program was not open for negotiation.

“We’ll do our own outreach, but, you know, I can’t stop people from talking. If they want to talk, they can talk,” Trump said earlier when asked about Macron’s mediation efforts.

The United States has made no indication it will ease any curbs and it is unclear what kind of compensation mechanism Macron wants to offer Iran, given at this stage a proposed trade channel for humanitarian and food exchanges with Iran is still not operational.

Macron has also said that in return for any concessions he would expect Iran to comply fully with the nuclear deal and for Iran to engage in new negotiations.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/08/26/Iran-s-Zarif-leaves-G7-talks-unclear-if-progress-made-to-ease-tensions.html

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Macron says G7 agreed on joint action over Iran to defuse tensions

25 August 2019

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday that G7 leaders had agreed joint action on Iran with the aim of defusing tensions and opening a new negotiation with Tehran.

“We agreed on what we wanted to say jointly on Iran,” Macron told LCI television. There is a message from the G7 on our objectives and the fact that we share them is important, which avoids divisions that in the end weaken everybody.”

“Everyone wants to avoid a conflict, Donald Trump was extremely clear on that point.”

However, US President Donald Trump denied signing off on a joint G7 message to Iran over its nuclear program as announced by Macron.

“No I haven’t discussed that,” Trump told reporters on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.

This contradicted Macron who shortly beforehand had said the G7 countries “agreed on what to say to Iran.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/08/25/Macron-says-G7-agreed-on-joint-action-over-Iran-to-defuse-tensions.html

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Pakistan

 

Thai Muslims rally to express solidarity with Kashmiris

August 26, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Muslim community in Thailand organised a ceremony to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir in the wake of the revocation of the occupied valley’s special status by the Indian government and to condemn atrocities and brutalities being committed on Kashmiris.

The event held at Islamic Centre Bangkok was jointly organised by the Thai Muslim community, Thai-Pakistan Friendship Association and overseas Pakistanis.

It is for the first time in the history of Thailand that an event has been organised by the Muslim community at the Islamic Centre with an aim to convey a message from the Thai Muslim community to their Kashmiri brethren.

Protesters carrying placards inscribed with slogans in favour of Kashmiris and against Indian occupation of the valley demonstrated outside the centre. Inside the Islamic Centre, renowned speakers from different universities delivered speeches against Indian occupation of Kashmir.

A resolution was also presented on the occasion, which called upon United Nations secretary-general and ambassadors of 36 countries to play their due role for peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue. They demanded that India must stop the use of pellet guns and killing of innocent Kashmiri must stop.

Pamphlets on Kashmir in Thai language were also distributed among the participants. A large number of Thai media personnel covered the event, which was broadcast live on several TV channels in Thailand.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/08/25/thai-muslims-rally-to-express-solidarity-with-kashmiris/

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Pakistan wants peace, but will go to war if needed: Fawad

August 26, 2019

LAHORE: Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry on Sunday said that war is not an option, but Pakistan is ready to retaliate in a befitting manner if India opts for any misadventure or imposes a war on the country.

Addressing a press conference after his visit to Child Protection and Welfare Bureau (CP&WB) here, he said that Pakistan had made all-out efforts to normalise relations with India, but it had not been reciprocated.

The minister said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had once promised that Pakistan would take two steps towards peace if India takes one, adding that if India wanted peace, Pakistan would reciprocate. But if India wants to impose a war, we will fight back till the end.

The minister said that PM Imran’s visit to United States remained very successful and Pakistan’s diplomacy was moving forward in the right direction for the Kashmir cause.

He said that the premier’s upcoming address at the UN session would be of great importance, adding that either you support PM Imran or not, but no one could deny that he had an ability to put forward Pakistan’s stance effectively and efficiently.

To a question regarding the role of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Muslim bloc in the Kashmir dispute, Fawad said, “There is no Muslim bloc now”, adding that all Muslim countries are embroiled in conflicts. “Turkey is standing by Pakistan,” he said and added that the rest of Muslim countries would take decisions as per their own interests.

The minister said that there was disappointment in Pakistan over the award recently conferred upon Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), adding that the UAE was a friend of Pakistan and it should not forget that Pakistan played a crucial role in making Dubai what it is today, he added.

He said that the Kashmir issue was not only Pakistan’s problem but a global human rights issue.

Fawad said that the Indian government got panicked when President Trump, France and Britain spoke about Kashmir, as Modi did not want any international leader to discuss the Kashmir dispute. He said that while the international community discusses Kashmir, the United Nations Human Rights Commission’s (UNHRC) report on Kashmir also drew the world attention to the plight of Kashmiri Muslims.

“India turned Kashmir into a jail so that the international community could not know the situation in the held valley,” he said and added that after a long time, New York Times, BBC and other media organisations were reporting about Kashmir.

The minister said that India’s narrative of the Kashmir dispute being an internal matter was defeated when the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) called a session to discuss the issue.

Earlier, he appreciated the efforts of Child Protection Bureau for putting in place special measures for welfare of helpless children and said that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Shehbaz Sharif had not paid a single visit to the centre during his tenure as Punjab chief minister when he came to know that the initiative was taken by former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/08/25/pakistan-wants-peace-but-will-go-to-war-if-needed-fawad/

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Kartarpur Corridor perfect example of interfaith harmony, says Firdous

August 26, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Sunday said that Pakistan’s commitment to finish Kartarpur project for Sikh pilgrims at the earliest is beyond doubt.

This is to facilitate Sikhs of India and those based in other countries so that they can pay homage to one of their holiest sites conveniently, she added.

She further stated that Kartarpur holds great significance for Sikhs and Pakistan, as a staunch believer of interfaith harmony, respects religious sentiments of our Sikh brothers and sisters.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/08/25/kartarpur-corridor-perfect-example-of-interfaith-harmony-says-firdous/

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FM moves to paper over UAE award for Modi

Shakeel Ahmed

August 26, 2019

MULTAN: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Sunday the United Arab Emirates (UAE) or any other country had the right to maintain bilateral relations with countries of their choice.

“International relations are above religious sentiments. The UAE and India have a history of relations in connection with investment. However, I will soon have a meeting with the UAE foreign minister to inform him about the prevailing situation in India-held Kashmir,” he said while responding to media queries regarding the grant of the UAE’s highest civilian award to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The minister said the US was ready to play the role of a mediator to resolve the Kashmir issue, but India was not ready to accept the US mediation.

He said India’s supreme court should decide seven petitions (against abolition of special status of Kashmir) without bowing to pressure exerted by Mr Modi.

“If the Indian supreme court delays its decisions on the Kashmir issue, it would be the murder of justice and violation of basic human rights,” he said.

“The world cannot remain unconcerned over the Kashmir issue and the UN Commission for Human Rights should visit India-held Kashmir without delay.”

Mr Qureshi said he had written a letter to the United Nations Commission for Human Rights asking it to send its representatives to occupied Kashmir to observe the situation there and play its role over the violation of human rights. “We also invite the commission to Azad Kashmir.”

A meeting of representatives of international human rights organisations and heads of Muslim countries should also be held to exchange views on (the situation in) occupied Kashmir, Mr Qureshi stressed.

He claimed that after a huge army deployment in held Kashmir, India was now planning to send workers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh there, calling upon the international community top wake up to New Delhi’s designs.

The foreign minister said he would attend a meeting on human rights in Geneva on Sept 9 and inform the world about the atrocities in Kashmir.

He said that the Organisation of Islamic Conference and the heads of Muslim countries should take note of mosque shutdown in held Kashmir. “Kashmiri Muslims are not allowed to offer Juma prayer and earlier they were also not allowed to sacrifice animals on Eidul Azha.”

Although India was trying to change ground realties, the entire world had acknowledged that Kashmir was a disputed region and India’s act of revoking the special status was unconstitutional and a violation of UN resolutions,” Shah Mehmood Qureshi observed.

He said the UN Security Council held rejected India’s stance on the Kashmir question.

“Right now Turkey, Malaysia and all Islamic countries are supporting the Pakistan’s stance. The Iranian leadership has also taken a firm stand in favour of Kashmiri people. So far I have contacted foreign ministers of several Islamic countries and am getting in touch with remaining ones as well. I am hopeful the Muslim world will support the Kashmiris and play its role to end Indian atrocities there,” he said.

Stopping a delegation of opposition leaders from entering Kashmir was a chauvinist act of the Modi government and it had exposed the reality behind the facade of democracy in India.

“If nothing wrong is being done in Kashmir, why the government stopped the Indian politicians from going there? Opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azad has asked if there is nothing to hide, why roads have been blocked there,” he said.

The foreign minister said the Modi government’s August 5 action had divided opinion in India and provided an opportunity to the Pakistani nation to unite.

He said despite tensions with India, he would like to assure the Sikh community the Kartarpur corridor would be opened on Sept 11. “We will welcome the Indian Sikhs. There are no restrictions on Sikh and Hindu communities in Pakistan and all religious minorities are free to perform their religious rites,” he said.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1501744/fm-moves-to-paper-over-uae-award-for-modi

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PM sets up body to help meet FATF targets

Khaleeq Kiani

August 26, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has set up a high-powered 12-member National Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Coordination Committee to ensure execution of all FATF-related tasks till Dec 1.

Led by Minister for Economic Affairs Division Hammad Azhar, the committee comprises federal secretaries of finance, foreign affairs and interior besides heads of all the institutions and regulators concerned with money laundering and terror financing. They include the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), chairman of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), member (customs) of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and DG of the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU). The committee also has three senior officials from the military’s General Headquarters (GHQ).

“The committee is mandated to steer the national effort on FATF,” said a notification issued by the Prime Minister Office.

Before the establishment of the committee, the federal finance minister or the PM’s adviser on finance, as the case may be, and the secretary of finance used to lead all activities relating to anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) to meet targets set by the FATF and its regional affiliate Asia-Pacific Group (AGP) under a comprehensive action plan to move out of the grey list of the global watchdog on financial crimes.

Pakistan is currently being monitored at three different but interlinked levels — APG, the United States and the FATF — that would determine the country’s possible exit from the FATF grey list. Given significant progress on its 10-point action plan on 27 different standards, authorities expect to secure a couple of months of grace period to be fully compliant when the country comes under final review of the FATF by mid-October.

Last week, the National Counter Terrorism Authority declared two more outfits — Hizbul Ahrar and Balochistan Raaji Ajoi Sangar (BRAS) — as proscribed organisations under Section 11-B of the Anti-Terrorism Act, putting their members and activities under surveillance. Seventy-one organisations are already on the list.

Last week, the APG on Money Laundering downgraded Pakistan to “enhanced follow-up” category over technical deficiencies to meet normal international financial standards by October 2018. This meant that the country would now be required to submit quarterly progress reports, instead of biannual, to the APG, starting from February 1, 2020, to show improvements in its technical standards on AML/CFT.

The APG has 40 recommendations on AML standards and another eight on CFT. Importantly, the progress Pakistan made since October 2018 has not been considered in this report due to APG rules based on almost 40 special standards and benchmarks for ranking on money laundering and eight special recommendations on terror financing

This is despite the fact that the authorities claim that Pakistan has made significant progress on FATF standards and action plans, but due to APG’s odd methodology it did not consider Islamabad’s achievements after October 2018. They said the strengthening AML/CFT laws were significant development to merit removal from the grey list, but these have to be formally passed by the parliament and signed into law by the president. These bills were recently cleared by the National Assembly’s standing committee on finance and revenue.

Pakistan has engaged technical assistance providers as consultants in key institutions like the FBR, SECP, FMU and SBP with the support of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to complete the action plan and further strengthen the effectiveness of the AML/CFT regime.

The amendments to foreign exchange regulation laws (FERA) to restrict domestic movement of currency beyond a certain limit had also been cleared by the National Assembly’s standing committee to help relevant agencies curb the practice of Hawala/Hundi and other forms of illegal foreign exchange transactions.

Amendments to the FERA law through its section 23 enhance punishments, make it a cognizable offence and grant powers to the FIA to take prompt action against illegal foreign exchange operators. The AML crimes are now punishable with up to 10 years imprisonment and Rs5 million fine. The amendments reduce administrative process to cooperate with financial intelligence units of other countries and prompt generation of suspicious transaction reports.

The law enforcement agencies have taken actions in recent months against proscribed organisations such as the Haqqani Network, Jamaatud Dawa and other banned outfits to demonstrate to the international community that the new leadership is committed to taking whatever steps are needed to meet its international obligations in the matter.

A supervisory framework and mechanism has also been put in place to ensure effective coordination mechanism across the chain of agencies, organisations and regulators at federal and provincial levels through dedicated focal persons.

Pakistan’s existing ground realities would now be reviewed on the basis of its progress reports and APG evaluations in coming meetings in Bangkok starting from September 5 and then finally in Paris on October 18-23 to conclude if Islamabad has delivered on 27-point action plan committed to the FATF to get out of the grey list.

Pakistan has also started bilateral engagements with key FATF and APG members to muster political support as India continues an adversarial campaign.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1501746/pm-sets-up-body-to-help-meet-fatf-targets

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JUI-F calls for ‘decisive’ long march against govt in October

Amir Wasim

August 26, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) Maulana Fazlur Rehman has announced that his party has planned a decisive long march on Islamabad aimed at ousting the present “fake government” in October, saying a final date will be announced after consultation with other opposition parties.

Speaking at a news conference after a two-day meeting of the party’s Majlis-i-Shoora here on Sunday, the JUI-F chief warned the government against making any effort to disrupt their planned march and expressed the hope that people from all walks of life and from all over the country would reach Islamabad to participate in what he called ‘Azadi March” to get rid of the present “incompetent and illegitimate government”.

He said the proposal would be discussed at a meeting of the opposition’s Rehbar Committee to be held in Islamabad on Monday (today). Besides, he added, a proposal to organise a meeting of the heads of all opposition parties was also under consideration.

“We are in contact with the opposition parties for cooperation (over the proposed march). We are planning meetings of the Rehbar Committee and the heads of the parties. And we will continue to make efforts to gather in Islamabad with complete cooperation,” he said.

The JUI-F chief intelligently evaded a direct question about differences within the opposition parties over various sensitive issues like blasphemy laws, saying that all opposition parties were unanimous on one point that the present government had no legitimacy as it had come into existence as a result of “fake elections”. He said they did not recognise the present government and wanted fresh elections in the country.

Maulana Fazl lashed out at the rulers for their “failed economic policies” and said the present government had broken all records of obtaining domestic and international loans and the unprecedented price hike had hit every segment of society. “People belonging to all sections of life are in pain due to failed policies of the present rulers. In these circumstances, it is the right of every Pakistani to sack this incompetent government,” he declared.

He said his party had already organised 15 ‘million marches’ in the country and all of them remained peaceful despite huge participation of the public in it. Referring to a TV interview of Interior Minister retired Brigadier Ijaz Shah, the JUI-F chief said it seemed that the minister had prepared a plan to “spread anarchy in the country by attacking our caravans”.

“There will be a huge sea of people which will sweep such small trouble makers like straws,” he said, adding that their protest would be peaceful like in the past.

When asked about the venue of the protest march, Maulana Fazl said it would be all over Islamabad. “No street will be empty.”

He said religious elements, traders, youth, media persons, judges, lawyers and the public at large all were perturbed by the policies of the present government. He said the JUI-F vowed to work for making successful its movement for the protection of Deeni Madaris (religious seminaries), Aqeeda Khatm-i-Nubuwat, Namoos-i-Risalat and the Islamic and democratic status of the Constitution.

The JUI-F chief said his party fully supported the demands presented by the Ittehad Tanzeemat Madaris-i-Deeniya, a representative body of religious seminaries, to the government. He, however, advised the representatives of religious seminaries to suspend their negotiations with the present “incompetent and ill-intended government”.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1501745/jui-f-calls-for-decisive-long-march-against-govt-in-october

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3 injured in IED blast outside Pakistan Consulate General in Jalalabad: FO spokesperson

August 25, 2019

An improvised explosive device (IED) went off outside the Pakistan Consulate General in Jalalabad, Afghanistan on Sunday, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said.

In a post on Twitter, the FO spokesperson said that all Pakistani staff were safe, however, added that "one policeman and two applicants are reportedly wounded."

"We are in contact with Afghan authorities to ensure strengthened security for Consulate General’s premises and personnel," he added.

The consulate had been shut down in August last year, before resuming operations two months later.

Pakistan had cited ‘undue interference’ by the governor of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province in its working and other security concerns as the reasons for the consulate’s closure.

The Foreign Office had said that the consulate is resuming its visa operations “after assurances by the Afghan government that all necessary and required security will be provided to the Consulate Generals.”

The eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, also the provincial capital of Nangarhar, has seen violence erupt multiple times in the recent past.

Most recently, on August 19, a series of bombings struck restaurants and public squares, wounding at least 34 people as the country marked the 100th anniversary of its independence.

No group claimed responsibility for the 10 bombs but both, the militant Islamic State (IS) group and the Afghan Taliban militants, operate in the area.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1501605/3-injured-in-ied-blast-outside-pakistan-consulate-general-in-jalalabad-fo-spokesperson

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Democratic rulers can serve the Kashmir cause better, says Bilawal

August 26, 2019

SKARDU: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Sunday said that Prime Minister Imran Khan lacks the moral authority to speak out against the injustices being committed against the Kashmiris when he is involved in undermining democracy in Pakistan.

Addressing a press conference in Skardu, the PPP chief said that while there is no difference between the two cases, Pakistan would have been in a better position to fight for the Kashmiri cause if there was a “third democratically-elected government” in power instead of a “selected government”. He added that a democratically-elected prime minister can fight for the Kashmir cause in a better way.

Bilawal also said that while Pakistanis are observing the “historic injustice” against the people of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and they know that the Indian premier is a murderer, they cannot forget that “PM Imran does not have the capability of legitimacy for providing due rights to the people of IOK and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB). The PPP chief said that he raises voice against Indian occupation in Kashmir at every forum and carefully observes the reaction of the people, which enabled him to develop this perspective.

“How can the premier talk about injustices and restrictions on press freedom in IOK when ‘historic’ media restrictions are being imposed in Pakistan?” he asked. “How can he question the violation of human rights and democracy in the occupied valley when he himself has restricted human rights in Pakistan and is responsible for the funeral of democracy in the country?” he further asked.

Bilawal further said that the people of GB have observed how the premier is attacking human rights and democracy in Pakistan. He added that a ruler who has “snatched” the rights of people cannot give the people of GB their due rights.  The PPP chairman said only a “real leader” can grant the people of GB their rights and raise voice against the injustices being committed against the Kashmiris.

Talking about Indian government’s move to send back top opposition leaders, including former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, when they landed in Srinagar on Saturday, he said that what is the government hiding from the people when they claim that they are transparently ‘granting rights’ to the people of the held valley. “If what Indian government is doing is right, why did they stop the opposition leader from observing things in Srinagar?” he asked.

Bilawal said that he had observed Eidul Azha in Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) as it was very important to send a message of unity to the world. “When I reached Muzzafarabad, my aunt Faryal Talpur was ‘illegally’ shifted from a hospital to jail, leading us to wonder whether the government was trying to antagonise us,” he said, adding that his party has been a victim of this sort of treatment in the past and knows how to face it.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/08/25/democratic-rulers-can-serve-the-kashmir-cause-better-says-bilawal/

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South Asia

 

48 Taliban militants, 8 Afghan soldiers killed or wounded in latest Balkh clashes

25 Aug 2019

The security forces have killed or wounded at least 48 Taliban militants including one of their commanders in northern Balkh province.

The 209th Shaheen Corps said in a statement that the security forces conducted air and artillery strikes as well as ground operations against Taliban in various districts of Balkh.

The statement further added that the security forces targeted the militants in Siya Aab of Sholgara, Alam Khel of Balkh, Asyab Khan of Chamtal and Shahrk-e Afghania of Nahr-e Shahi district.

Furthermore, the 209th Shaheen Corps said the security forces killed 30 Taliban militants and wounded 18 others during the operations.

The security forces also destroyed 4 motorcycles of the militants during the operations.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/48-taliban-militants-8-afghan-soldiers-killed-or-wounded-in-latest-balkh-clashes-03759/

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Pakistani suicide bombers among 16 killed in Afghan, U.S. forces airstrikes in Ghazni

25 Aug 2019

The Afghan and U.S. forces conducted airstrikes in different parts of Ghazni province killing at least 16 Taliban militants including two Pakistani suicide bombers.

The Governor’s Office of Ghazni said in a statement that the Afghan and U.S. forces conducted the airstrikes in Khogyani, Khwaja Omari and Qarabagh districts.

The statement further added that the first airstrike killed 12 Taliban militants including two Pakistani suicide bombers in Deh Mullah Village of Khogyani district. The security forces conducted the raid on Saturday evening.

Furthermore, the Governor’s Office said the security forces carried out two airstrikes in Khwaja Omari and Qarabagh districts which killed 4 Taliban militants.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/pakistani-suicide-bombers-among-16-killed-in-afghan-u-s-forces-airstrikes-in-ghazni-03761/

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Rohingya prefer death to life without rights in Myanmar

Md. Kamruzzaman  

25.08.2019

DHAKA, Bangladesh

Rohingya refugees living in cramped makeshift camps in Bangladesh’s southern Cox’s Bazar district with minimal basic needs said they are determined not to return to Myanmar without justice and full rights.

A good number of persecuted Rohingya people in the refugee camps warned in video messages that without fulfilling their legal demands, they will not accept any forceful repatriation to Rakhine state in Myanmar; rather they would welcome death in Bangladesh.

“They [Burmese army] have killed our people and raped our mothers, daughters and sisters. If we return, they will again do the same. We will not go there,” Hasina Begum, 29, said.

Begum fled Maungdaw township in Rakhine state following a brutal military crackdown on Aug. 25, 2017, and took shelter in a camp in Bangladesh. Since then more than 750,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh as they faced state-sponsored "mass killing", "genocide" and "ethnic cleansing".

Kolsoma Begum, a 22-year-old Rohingya woman, was more emotional while talking with her little baby on her lap and wiping out tears with a headscarf.

“We want justice of the murders of our mothers and sisters. If we are forced to return now we will prefer to commit suicide by having poison," she said.

Another aged Rohingya, Rashida Khatun, also warned of committing suicide and said: “They [Myanmar soldiers] burnt alive our small kids, damaged our houses and properties by fire. Where will we go now?”

Some other Rohingya women covered up with burqa were also crying while recalling their nightmare in Myanmar and demanding justice. They wanted the Myanmar government and military to be held accountable for crimes against the most persecuted community.

Mohammad Alam, who fled from Shilkhali area of Maungdaw township, however, uttered five specific demands as prerequisites for repatriation.

The demands include full citizenship rights; resettling at the same places they fled after August 2017 crackdown; justice for rape, gang rape, murder, burning and other oppression and damaging of properties; “unconditional” release of those Rohingya Muslims still locked “unjustly” in internally displaced camps (IDPs) and prisons in Myanmar and finally deployment of security forces under the UN to avoid repeat of repressions by the Myanmar army.

“We don’t want to stay in a foreign country for a long time, but we need justice, safety, and rights,” another Rohingya said, mentioning they would spontaneously back Myanmar with pleasure after fulfilling their legal demands.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

According to Amnesty International, after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community on Aug. 25 2017, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women, and children, fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/rohingya-prefer-death-to-life-without-rights-in-myanmar/1564419

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200,000 Rohingya rally to mark ‘Genocide Day’ in Bangladesh camps

August 26, 2019

KUTUPALONG, Bangladesh: Some 200,000 Rohingya rallied in a Bangladesh camp Sunday to mark two years since they fled a violent crackdown by Myanmar forces, just days after a second failed attempt to repatriate the refugees. During the brutal August 2017 offensive, around 740,000 of the Muslim minority escaped Myanmar´s Rakhine state — joining those who had fled earlier persecution.

A total of nearly one million refugees now live in three dozen squalid camps in Bangladesh´s southeastern border district of Cox´s Bazar. On Sunday, children, hijab-wearing women, and men in long-skirt lungis shouted “God is Great, Long Live Rohingya” as they marched at the heart of the world´s largest refugee camp to commemorate what they described as “Genocide Day”. Under the scorching sun, thousands joined in a popular song with the lyrics “the world does not listen to the woes of Rohingya”. “I have come here to seek justice for the murder of my two sons. I will continue to seek justice until my last breath,” 50-year-old Tayaba Khatun said as tears rolled down her cheeks. Myanmar has said it was conducting counter-insurgency operations in August 2017 against Rohingya extremists who attacked police posts. But the UN last year called for Myanmar´s top generals to be prosecuted for genocide over the crisis. Rohingya leader Mohib Ullah said the stateless minority wanted to return home, but only after they were granted citizenship, their security was ensured and they were allowed to settle back in their villages.

“We have asked the Burmese government for dialogue. But we haven´t got any response from them yet,” Ullah told the rally. “We were beaten, killed and raped in Rakhine. But still that is our home. And we want to go back. Rohingya students from schools set up by aid agencies held marches with black flags and chanted “yes Rohingya... no Bengali” — in reference to a term Myanmar has used for the ethnic group, implying they are from Bangladesh.

The refugees burst into tears as they offered special prayers, seeking divine blessings for people who had died in the offensive. They had large banners urging Myanmar to “talk to us about citizenship and Rohingya ethnicity”.

Police officer Zakir Hassan told AFP some 200,000 Rohingya took part in the peaceful gathering. Smaller rallies were also held in several other camps. Security has been tight across Kutupalong camp, the world´s largest refugee settlement and home to more than 600,000 Rohingya.

Full report at:

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/517558-200-000-rohingya-rally-to-mark-genocide-day-in-bangladesh-camps

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Taliban reacts to reports regarding the agreement with U.S. on interim government set up

24 Aug 2019

Taliban reacted to media reports regarding the agreement for the establishment of an interim government.

Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the political office of Taliban in Qatar rejected the reports as ‘untrue’.

Reports emerged earlier suggesting that the U.S. and Taliban have reached to an agreement to establish an interim government.

Certain media outlets reported that the U.S. and Taliban representatives have reached to an agreement to establish an interim government having a 14-month term.

This comes as negotiations are underway between the U.S. and Taliban representatives in Qatari capital of Doha.

Earlier, reports had emerged that the two sides may sign an agreement during the 9th round of peace talks.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/taliban-reacts-to-reports-regarding-the-agreement-with-u-s-on-interim-government-set-up-03752/

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Taliban says it will target the sites, employees and SIM Card holders of Salaam Telecom

26 Aug 2019

The Taliban group has warned that the group will target the sites, employees and subscribers of Salaam Telecommunication Company.

The group issued a statement accusing the telecom company of serving as an intelligence hub for the government and American forces.

The statement further added that the company collects information and share with the intelligence circles.

Furthermore, the group said it will target all sites, employees, vehicles, telecommunication towers of the company and will cut the fibre optics.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/taliban-warns-to-target-the-sites-employees-and-sim-card-holders-of-salaam-telecom-03768/

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Afghan Special Forces rescue 15 people from a Taliban prison in Kunduz

26 Aug 2019

The Afghan Special Forces rescued 15 people from a Taliban prison during an operation in northern Kunduz province.

The Special Operations Corps said the Special Forces conducted the raid in Imam Sahib district late on Sunday night.

Meanwhile, the military officials said the operation demonstrated the Afghan Special Security Force’s (ASSF) commitment to the people of Afghanistan.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-special-forces-rescue-15-people-from-a-taliban-prison-in-kunduz-03767/

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Airstrikes kill 18 Taliban militants in Ghazni, Balkh and Kandahar

25 Aug 2019

A series of airstrikes killed at least 18 Taliban militants in Ghazni, Balkh and Kandahar provinces.

The informed military sources said Sunday an airstrike killed a Taliban fighter in Qarabagh district of Ghazni.

The sources further added that a similar airstrike killed at least 15 Taliban militants in Sholgarah district of Balkh.

Furthermore, the security forces conducted an airstrike in Ghorak district of Kandahar which killed 2 Taliban militants.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/airstrikes-kill-18-taliban-militants-in-ghazni-balkh-and-kandahar-03765/

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Afghan Special Forces kill at least 16 Taliban militants in Logar province

25 Aug 2019

The Afghan Special Forces killed separate operations in central Logar province killing at least 16 Taliban militants.

The military officials said Sunday that the Special Forces conducted a raid in Pul-e Alam district of Logar killing six Taliban militants.

The officials further added that the Special Forces destroyed a small cache of weapons during the same operation.

Furthermore, the Special Forces killed 10 Taliban militants during a separate raid in the same district.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-special-forces-kill-at-least-16-taliban-militants-in-logar-province-03764/

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Southeast Asia

 

Religious organizations join fight against plastic waste

A. Muh. Ibnu Aqil

August 25, 2019  

In the fight against plastic waste, religion is now playing a greater role, with religious institutions encouraging the city’s residents to reduce their dependence on single-use plastic bags. The secretary of the Nahdlatul Ulama central board’s (PBNU) Bahtsul Masail (Discussing Problems) forum, Sarmidi Husna, said it was high time for Muslims to be more concerned about single-use plastic bags, as they contributed to pollution in the city’s main bodies of water, such as the Ciliwung River, which was filled with trash, and Jakarta Bay, where all the waste thrown into the river ended up. “Seeing those conditions, the PBNU during our national meeting in February also began to look at religious arguments,” Sarmidi told The Jakarta Post on Thursday. He said that the NU, Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization, had come to the conclusion that litteri...

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/08/25/religious-organizations-join-fight-against-plastic-waste.html

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Threatening yet another rally, Malay-Muslim groups demand Pakatan dissolve Parliament

25 August 2019

BY EMMANUEL SANTA MARIA CHIN

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 25 — A coalition of Malay-Muslim groups have demanded that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government dissolve Parliament well before its five-year term is over, claiming the coalition has failed to protect the interests of the majority community.

After its National Ummah Unity Convention here, Gerakan Pembela Ummah said it will hold yet another rally to pressure the coalition to meet its demands.

“It will be held on a scale similar to how we organised the anti-Icerd rally where we will urge the government to call for elections before their reign is over,” chairman Aminuddin Yahaya told the press, referring to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

“We will call for the government to dissolve Parliament, no need to wait for 2023. And then we can make sure Pakatan Harapan will fall.”

Ummah had in December last year organised the rally opposing the ratification of the Icerd, in which several thousand rally goers flocked Jalan Raja in the city.

Again in May, it organised a rally to defend the “sanctity and sovereignty of Islam”, which was lambasted by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as a ploy to draw support for certain political parties.

However, when pressed for details for the supposed rally, Aminuddn who is also president of Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) remained tight-lipped without even revealing a potential date.

“We will not disclose too much information as yet to maintain the element of suspense surrounding the rally.

“If we say too much, people might not be as interested or excited to attend the rally, so we will wait for the right time before revealing more,” he said.

Aminuddin had earlier in his opening speech listed several issues it deems “major threats” against Malay-Muslims, which included liberalism, Christian evangelism and human rights movements.

PH created history by defeating Barisan Nasional in last year’s General Elections, knocking BN off their perch for the first time since Independence in 1957.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/08/25/threatening-yet-another-rally-malay-muslim-groups-demand-pakatan-dissolve-p/1784036

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As Amanah turns four, party looks to young leaders to bring it out of PAS' shadow

26 August 2019

BY DANIAL DZULKIFLY

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 26 — Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) is due to hold its inaugural party polls some time this year, and the Islamist party is looking to its younger members to chart a different political discourse centred on a more progressive outlook.

Even as it is now part of the ruling coalition, many still see the party dwarfed by fellow Pakatan Harapan (PH) components and pale in comparison to bitter rival PAS, a perception which Selangor Amanah Deputy Chief Saari Sungip claimed is a “nonsensical” narrative engineered by PAS.

“Such is the narrative our rivals have plastered on us. Always stating that we are at the beck and call of the Chinese in DAP, a bogeyman they invented to simplistically blame every social and religious ill on,” Saari told Malay Mail.

To prevent members and the public from buying into fear-mongering by Opposition parties PAS and Umno, Saari said he plans to focus on issues of self-reflection, mercy and rational thinking at the party’s national convention this year.

“I plan to remind them to think beyond political rhetoric and engage in fact-finding exercises, instead of condemning others or pointing fingers.

“Amanah was formed to show that Islam encompasses justice for all. It is not merely a rhetorical message but our mission to demonstrate that it can and should be done. That is what sets us apart from them,” he said.

Saari also said Malaysians, especially young professionals, have come to appreciate Amanah’s progressive stance based on the concept of “rahmatan lil alamin” or mercy to all, and that the party has remained consistent in its message, compared to PAS’ “punitive view of Islam”.

“I have been saying this for years, and I’ll say it again, no one party can monopolise any religion, especially if meant to suit their own self-interest,” he said.

However, Amanah’s past stance on controversial ethno-religious issues rarely differs from that of PAS or Umno, such as opposing the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) or backing fugitive televangelist Dr Zakir Naik to remain in Malaysia.

Amanah’s insistence on occupying the middle ground has led to observers often comparing the party with PAS, which they say is more outspoken and effective.

However, Amanah Youth Chief Sany Hamzan said he welcomes the public’s constant comparison of the two parties, especially among their Youth members.

Sany said people will eventually conclude that Amanah consistently fights corruption and wrongdoings.

“We are consistent too, consistent in saying no to corruption and those who have plundered our nation’s wealth, while our counterparts in PAS have agreed to work with the same people whom they have demonised for years,” he said, referring to Umno-led Barisan Nasional.

“PAS’ inconsistencies in telling the truth and maintaining their principles will be the simple fact that we will remind them of at every turn,” he said.

With the influx of new members to the party, reportedly with 10,000 sign-ups per month and national membership swelling to over 200,000, Sany said he is excited to see the “mix-and-match” of people with various political leanings, strengthening the party. “Right now, we have so many members joining and they consist of those from PAS, Umno, MIC, MCA, and of course, political newbies. This creates a clash of ideas, perspectives, opinions and various interesting political discussions within our ranks.

“Some might say that looks slightly messy, but it is a sign of a healthy democracy being practised within Amanah. These interactions also create a deeper sense of understanding among members of different races and religions,” he said, stating further that this is the reason why many young professionals have joined the party.

Amanah’s diverse membership will also be a point of pride that is expected to be touted at both its Youth and national conventions.

Sany added that the party gives equal opportunities to all members and that many non-Muslims members hold leadership roles across its ranks, unlike PAS where non-Muslims are relegated to its Supporters’ Congress with no voting rights.

The Youth wing of the party is expected to draw attention from political observers and Malaysians in general as it heads to the polls in October, ahead of the party’s national convention this year, said Sany.

This is due to Amanah’s current position in the government. Despite having a modest representation of 11 MPs in Parliament, it is well represented in the federal government with five ministers and deputy ministers each, among other senior public posts.

To ensure greater transparency and equal opportunities to aspiring members who wish to be office bearers, Sany claimed Amanah practises a more open and democratic approach in its polls.

This is evident in how it allows candidates to campaign openly, where they may publicise their experience, education and past achievements, he said.

“Party members can then assess for themselves who is best suited to lead,” he said.

Earlier last month, Amanah National Youth Secretary Fadzil Ahmad said the Youth polls are expected to use the controversial “cai” or menu system, albeit different from what is utilised by PAS.

Sany has since stated that no such system will be used in the party polls as it is “hidden” and will only push the agenda of certain groups within the party.

‘’We do not want that to happen. This particular system was a key reason why many of our leaders were purged from PAS in 2015 and we reject it fully.

“We want to vote for our leaders based on their merits,” he said.

At this year’s conventions, the Youth wing will also explore ways to strengthen its platform to be on the same level as that of the PKR and DAP Youth wings, said Selangor Amanah Youth chief Abbas Azmi.

“Following the conclusion of the polls, we will then discuss means or mechanisms to broaden our voice to be as strong as our coalition partners.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/08/26/as-amanah-turns-four-party-looks-to-young-leaders-to-step-out-of-pas-shadow/1784153

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Jafar Umar Thalib, firebrand cleric known for roles in Maluku conflict, dies at 58

August 25, 2019 

Jafar Umar Thalib, former leader of the now-defunct Laskar Jihad paramilitary group, died of a heart attack at the age of 58 on Sunday.

“Innalillahi wainnailaihirojiun [We belong to Allah and to Allah we shall return], ustad Jafar Umar Thalib has passed away at the Harapan Kita Heart Hospital. Hopefully he [died] khusnul khotimah [with blessings ahead],” Jafar’s lawyer Achmad Michdan said on Sunday, as quoted by tribunnews.com.

Laskar Jihad was a Yogyakarta-based radical Islamic group that supplied volunteers to fight alongside Muslims against Christians during sectarian conflicts in Maluku in 1999-2000.

In 2002, Jafar was tried for provoking violence, spreading hatred against the government and defaming then-president Megawati Soekarnoputri.

The charges were based on a tape recording of his speech before 2,500 people at the Al Fatah Mosque in the Maluku capital of Ambon on April 26, 2002.

Two days after the sermon, a group of unidentified men assaulted the predominantly Christian village of Soya and killed 13 people.

The East Jakarta District Court acquitted Jafar of all charges in January 2003.

More recently, the Makassar District Court found Jafar guilty of destruction of property in Koya Barat, Jayapura, Papua, last month and sentenced him to five months imprisonment.

Full report at:

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/08/25/jafar-umar-thalib-firebrand-cleric-known-for-roles-in-maluku-conflict-dies-at-58.html

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Alleged Instigator Apologizes for Racist Actions Against Papuan Students in Surabaya

BY TELLY NATHALIA

AUGUST 20, 2019

Jakarta. The woman behind last week's incident in Surabaya, East Java, which saw an angry mob besiege a boarding house occupied by Papuan students, and which later escalated into violent protests in several cities in Indonesia's two easternmost provinces, publicly apologized for her actions on Tuesday.

The trouble started on Saturday, when a crowd surrounded the boarding house in Jalan Kalasan, accusing the students of refusing to hoist the national flag for the Aug. 17 Independence Day celebrations because they supported Papuan separatism.

According to the Indonesian Civil Society Network, there were also members of the military in the crowd, which comprised various groups, including the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), right-wing paramilitary organization Pancasila Youth (PP), and the Communication Forum of Indonesian Veterans' Children (FKPPI), an association for families of retired members of the security forces.

The mob was led by FKPPI member Tri Susanti, who, in a video that went viral on the internet, accused the students of refusing to hoist the flag and dumping it in a ditch in front of their building. The students have denied the accusation.

Members of the crowd also refer to the Papuan students as "monkeys" in the video and tell them to leave Surabaya. This soon went viral on social media and sparked unrest in Papua and West Papua on Monday.

Papua Governor Lukas Enembe called on all Papuans to return home if the police fail to track down those responsible for the racist actions against the students in Surabaya, BeritaSatu TV reported.

He said prejudice against Papuans had been tolerated for too long and that it would continue if the perpetrators were not brought to book.

Mohammad Hafiz, executive director of the Human Rights Working Group, said the government must stop taking a security approach to dealing with every problem in Papua and West Papua.

"We must be honest and admit that the government and society have been treating the people of Papua as second-class citizens, discriminating against them, while they actually have the same rights as any other citizens," he told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday.

Apology

Protest rallies held in Manokwari and Sorong in West Papua on Monday in response to the weekend's events in East Java soon descended into riots. This prompted Tri Susanti to publicly apologize for the incident, on behalf of the people of Surabaya.

"Our main purpose [in surrounding the boarding house] was the flag, but the impact was like that [rioting in Papua]. On behalf of the people of Surabaya and the mass organizations [FPI, PP and FKPPI], I apologize for those of us who shouted that [racist slur]," she said.

Track Record

Tri Susanti, who is also a member of Prabowo Subianto's opposition Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), was in the public spotlight earlier this year when she testified as a witness in support of his failed Constitutional Court challenge of the result of the April 17 presidential election.

Full report at:

https://jakartaglobe.id/context/alleged-instigator-apologizes-for-racist-actions-against-papuan-students-in-surabaya

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Indonesia interested in exchanging information, defense equipment with Iran

By Payman Yazdani

August 26, 2019

Following is the text of the interview:

How do you evaluate the current level of economic, political, and cultural relations between Iran and Indonesia? And what steps do you think you have taken to develop relations between two countries during your mission in Iran?

A: The two countries are really in good level of cooperation.  During the last one year, the vice president of Iran visited Indonesia and also Indonesian Minister of Health and Minister for Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection came to Iran. The two countries have a very steady and developing cooperation in the fields of youth, women’s empowerment and health sectors. In general, both countries support each other, and share almost same views regarding to human rights and also multilateral forums since Indonesia currently sits as the non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. we have sent several message to the international community that we are very close to each other for example we showed our solidarity with Iran in UN security council after terrorist attacks in Sistan and Baluchistan province. Similar to Indonesia, Iranian President H.E. Hassan Rouhani sent many congratulatory or sympathy messages on any notable events happened in Indonesia.

So this year, we are very happy because the Islamic Republic of Iran supported and helped us when we held our election in Iran. Almost 280 or 290 Indonesian people casted their votes in Tehran and Qom successfully because of the support of Iran.

In cultural fields, many Indonesian feel some inheritance of Persian cultures in Indonesia brought by many traders to Indonesia and we have many things in common.

Mayor of our Bengkulu city visited Iran this year and realized that Ashura commemoration is also organized in Bengkulu city. So we plan to invite some Iranian cultural centers to attend the event.

For the first time I landed in Tehran in 2016, we organized some paintings exhibitions. We participated in food festival in Zanjan. We will do cultural events again  again this year hopefully by October. We hope we can organize it in a big place.

On the other hand, Iran is very good in promoting its movie industry in Indonesia. It organized film festival and cultural exhibition in Jakarta. Iranian embassy in Jakarta is very active in promoting Iranian culture in Indonesia.

With same efforts by both embassies, we could expect more Iranians and Indonesians know each other about their countries.

We are happy to have participated in Quran Exhibition and Quran reciters competitions this year. It’s very difficult to compete with Iran but finally we could win.

We learnt more from Iran and hope in turns you also learn from us and how we deal with some issues for example mitigations of some calamities and natural disasters. We also came to Kish Island and participated in many events in dealing with the catastrophe or mitigation. So we hope we can share our knowledge and experience in many aspects of cooperation.

How do you see the impact of the US unilateral withdrawal from JCPOA and imposition of new sanctions on Iran and its efforts to halt Iranian oil sales on the trade relations between Tehran and Jakarta?

A: When the US withdrew from JCPOA, we didn’t get the impact directly. We just get the impact recently. During the first quarter of the 2019, our trade volume could not reach  the same level as last year. Right now because of tightening of the unilateral sanctions against Iran, it started to make our entrepreneurs and business community to use third countries.

So when we talk about our products, basically the markets are still here. But the way we send or deliver commodities made so longer paths. It is so inconvenience. So we expect the two countries have direct connections in terms of shipment. We will try to find some ways to connect.  But at this time, we still use third countries to bring our goods.

Indonesia is the largest economy in Southeast Asia and among the top 20 economies in the world that supplying 38% of its energy consumption from oil and 15% from gas, what is the role of the Persian Gulf energy resources and its importance for the Indonesian economy?

A: Basically Indonesia relies on Persian Gulf energy, for example in terms of LPG or crude oil which fit with our requirements. So we need to make sure the Persian Gulf is safe and good for maritime transport and also secure because our fishermen also are hired by some Iranian vessels. So we need to make sure that the security and safe passage of the Persian Gulf to bring our imported goods or also exported goods. Because we bring our exported good to some countries for example, Oman and Dubai. If we have some conflicts in the region, of course it will affect our distributions.

Following recent tensions between Iran and the US in the Persian Gulf, US Secretary of State Pompeo said that China, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea are heavily dependent on Persian Gulf energy and must defend their own interests in the region. Have the US and Britain invited Indonesia to join the US-led coalition in the Strait of Hormuz? What is Indonesia's position in this regard?

A: When we talk about the security of the region, basically we prefer that the littoral states of the Persian Gulf to be the main important countries/parties to ensure security in the region. So we expect that the Persian Gulf states sit together and discuss the issues, including the possibility of foreign countries or organizations to be present and help the littoral states to ensure security in the region.

That is our position and I don’t think that we got the invitations to join the coalitions because it is still on the early stage needs discussions. But in the Security Council, we also discussed these issues. But again we bring the attentions of all member countries of the Security Council to make sure that region should be safe. That is the most important things.

Recently a high ranking Indonesian parliamentarian visited Iran and he expressed that Indonesia and Iran are ready to boost the cooperation in the fields of combating terrorism and extremism. What can two countries do to this end?

A: We share the same values when we talk about the terrorism. Right now the most important thing is how we defeat the ISIL. It’s good that you could combat most of them. So we need to talk about how to avoid the elements, the operatives who are now maybe becoming passive to return to our countries. So we need to share information. On the other hand, we can also see in Indonesia that terrorists are not only from ISIL, we also have some local disturbances, particularly those who are interpreting the Islamic values and Islam in radical ways. We can also disseminate the information and the moderate way of Islam. we have to cooperate to promote Islamic values and peaceful Islam to this end we can arrange some events and seminars together. we have already done some of these activities through our universities.

And we have also talked about the ways to exchange our technology in defense equipment. We are very much interested in remote sensing aeronautical industries in Iran and we also see  good opportunities to collaborate in Ian's radar and electronic industries.

How do you see the future of the US ' "Deal of Century" for Palestine? Do you think it will be successful or not?

A: We did not participate at Bahrain Summit and we think for the Deal of the Century we have to differentiate firstly the political solutions and secondly the economic solutions. Indonesia thinks similar to Iran in this regards. When we talk about the economic cooperation and assistants we render to our brothers in Palestine, you don’t need the Deal of the Century. We contribute to our brothers without showing to everybody that we sent how many million dollars to Palestine. The most important thing is about the political solution. This is the first and foremost target or objective that we need to show. We hope the political solution would be prior to all. We need to make sure that the issue of occupations, illegal occupation should be resolved.  The recognition of Jerusalem, capital city of Palestine should be admitted.

I think these issues are more important than the Deal of the Century.

Full report at:

https://www.tehrantimes.com/news/439626/Indonesia-interested-in-exchanging-information-defense-equipment

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Gujarat Constable Was Assaulted By Some Men In Vadodara On Saturday Allegedly For Being A Muslim

Gopi Maniar

August 25, 2019

A police constable was assaulted by some men in Vadodara on Saturday allegedly for being a Muslim. An FIR has been registered in the case. In the FIR, the constable has alleged that the men assaulted him as he is a Muslim.

The victim has been identified as 44-year-old Arif Ismail Shaikh. The incident happened on Saturday.

A dispute broke out between the men and the police constable when he was going back home after completing his duty hours. After which, the men abused him and assaulted him.

However, in the FIR, the police constable has alleged that he was assaulted as he is a Muslim.

Speaking to India Today TV, Arif Ismail Shaikh said that he was attacked when he was in his uniform. He also alleged that the men insulted him for his religion and started beating him up.

They also threatened to kill him, Arif has alleged.

Three people have been arrested in connection with the case.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/gujarat-constable-assaulted-alleges-attacked-for-being-muslim-1591486-2019-08-25

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Kerala man held for suspected terror links let off after 24 hours: Report

Aug 26, 2019

A man who was taken into police custody over his suspected terror links was let off after a probe by various security agencies could not establish any such connection, sources said.

The man, along with a female friend, was taken into custody on Saturday.

The two were allowed to go on Sunday evening after an over 24-hour-long interrogation by officials of various security agencies could not find any evidence of their terror links, the sources said.

On Saturday, Malayalam news channels aired footage of the man being whisked away by police from the district court.

The man’s lawyer had told a channel that his client hailed from Kodungallur in Thrissur district and had returned from Bahrain a few days ago.

He had said the man and his friend were picked up by police when they had come to the court to move a plea to “prove his innocence” following reports that he had links with members of terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) who had reportedly infiltrated into Tamil Nadu from neighbouring Sri Lanka.

The lawyer had said his client had told him that his ID proof was misused by someone and he was being framed in the case.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/kerala-man-held-for-suspected-terror-links-let-off-after-24-hours-report/story-aU8TdjUuzrMCy3cUBfUfkJ.html

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With top Shia leader in detention, uncertainty over Muharram in Kashmir

Aug 26, 2019

Smriti Kak Ramachandran and Rezaul Laskar

Political detentions and a communication lockdown have cast a shadow on the upcoming Muharram in the Kashmir Valley. Several members of Kashmir’s one lakh strong Shia community told HT that they fear that the procession taken out on the 10th day of Muharram could be suspended or severely restricted on account of the ongoing communication clampdown.

The Valley has been under a lockdown since August 5, when the decision to reorganise Jammu and Kashmir was announced in Parliament by union home minister Amit Shah.

For the past few days groups of people from across the Valley have been trying unsuccessfully to meet Imran Raza Ansari, the Sadr (leader)of the Shia Association to get instructions on whether to organise the Muharram procession scheduled to be taken out on September 10.

Ansari, who has been detained at the Centaur Hotel along with more than 40 political leaders from different parties and groups, is the one who will make the final decision, said members of two groups that HT spoke to over the weekend.

“For us, it is important to meet him because in his absence, we cannot take a decision of any of these issues. All our religious services have been affected, even marriages cannot by solemnised without him,” said a member of a group who had come from Budgam district to Centaur Hotel.

The groups were getting restive, since they were not being allowed to meet Ansari, despite getting a clearance from the divisional commissioner’s office in Srinagar.

“He is our peer [religious leader], but the authorities have not been allowing us to meet him. We cannot undertake any activity of religious significance without his permission. And it appears that the Muharram procession will not be taken out in the Valley for the first time,” said a member of another group of people who had come to see Ansari.

People familiar with developments said there was a possibility of Ansari being shifted from Centaur Hotel to his home, where he could hold consultations with other Shia leaders regarding preparations for the procession and other rituals.

Srinagar’s deputy commissioner, Shahid Choudhary, ruled out the suspension of the procession and said a meeting was held on Saturday with leaders from several Shia groups to plan for the observance of various religious rituals.

He said Srinagar alone has as many as 14 imambargahs, where the processions culminate and all arrangements are being made to ensure there are no untoward incidents during the procession.

“We has had a meeting with all the concerned service providing agencies to ensure all arrangements are in place. The power department has been asked to ensure that all 56 feeders provide 24X7 power supply,” Choudhary said.

A resident of Hasanabad, who requested anonymity, said the single large Muharram procession that used to cover large parts of the Valley has over the years been limited to certain areas on account of security concerns.

“Restrictions are imposed on the routes for the processions since there is a possibility of miscreants targeting the crowds or even taking advantage of any large gathering to create trouble. Even a small incident can trigger violence and unrest, so we are on the guard and taking precautions, such as restricting the routes of the processions,” said a law enforcement official who did not want to be named.

The official said last year restrictions were imposed on the procession in areas in down town Srinagar.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/valley-curbs-loom-over-muharram/story-d0mhJRua7HkI4Zzwlo5mVO.html

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Kashmiri leader calls for peaceful protests, blasts information blockade

Aug 25, 2019

A prominent pro-independence leader in the Indian-controlled Kashmir has called on people in the disputed region to continue holding “peaceful protests” despite attempts by New Delhi to stifle their voices.

Syed Ali Shah Geelani said in a statement published on Sunday that Kashmiri locals should continue their demonstrations in a peaceful manner and resist India’s decision to end the region’s special constitutional status.

The chairman of Kashmir's moderate faction of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) also blasted New Delhi’s strong-arm tactics in the disputed region and stressed that despite attempts to muzzle the voice of Kashmiris, the “blank pages would speak loudly.”

“Not only have they blocked the entire communication systems used by common people since about the beginning of the month, but they have also gagged local reportage and news media without any formal declaration,” Geelani said.

“No news about the brutalities and repression of the Indian armed forces, killings, and arrests of thousands of youth are being published. Common people are unable to know about their kith and kin,” he added.

Geelani went on to say that, “the oppressors might try to hide reality, but history will not spare anyone. The blank pages will speak loudly.”

In his statement, Geelani underscored that Kashmir’s autonomy had been stripped to “change Kashmir’s demography and make it one of India’s colonies.”

The APHC chairman said it was unfortunate that “instead of mourning this murder of democracy, the people of India have celebrated the decisions of their government.”

“The rulers from Delhi are drunk in power and arrogance of majoritarianism and they have snatched away all precepts of humanity, ethics, and democracy,” he said.

Geelani urged in his statement that all Kashmiris as well as people in Pakistan and Muslims around the world take decisive action against India’s moves and “machinations.”

Geelani has been under house arrest since India stripped Indian-controlled Kashmir of its autonomous status earlier in the month.

Kashmir has been split between India and Pakistan since their partition from Britain in 1947. Both countries claim all of Kashmir and have fought three wars over the territory.

On August 5, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a surprise move, revoked Article 370 in the Indian constitution that had granted Kashmir special autonomy, the most far-reaching political move on the disputed region in nearly 70 years.

The controversial move not only infuriated India’s nuclear-armed Pakistan, which controls parts of Kashmir, but also sparked strong anger among the local population, who want their region merge with Pakistan.

Pakistan has called the decision “illegal” and has expelled the Indian ambassador to Islamabad.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/25/604424/Syed-Ali-Shah-Geelani-peaceful-protests-Kashmir-information-blockade

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J&K state flag removed from Civil Secretariat

Aug 25, 2019

SRINAGAR: The flag of Jammu and Kashmir which used to fly along with the tricolour was removed from the Civil Secretariat here on Sunday, three weeks after the Centre revoked Article 370 provisions which granted special status to the state, officials said.

Under Article 370, Jammu and Kashmir was permitted to have its own flag, which was red in colour with three equidistant white vertical strips and a white plough.

The flag, which was hoisted along with the tricolour every day atop the civil secretariat, the seat of the government, was supposed to be removed on October 31 when the law bifurcating Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories -- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh -- will come into effect.

However, on Sunday morning, only the tricolour was hoisted on the secretariat building, the officials said.

They said the flag will be removed from other government buildings as well.

The flag was adopted by state constituent assembly on June 7, 1952, The three stripes represented the state's three regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/jk-state-flag-removed-from-civil-secretariat/articleshow/70829244.cms

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Driver killed in stone pelting in Kashmir, two held

August 26, 2019

Two youths were arrested in the early hours of Monday for allegedly throwing stones at a truck in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district, killing the driver of the vehicle.

Police said that six others have been detained for questioning in connection with the incident in which some stones had hit the truck at Zradipora in Uranhall locality of Bijbehara area in Anantnag.

The driver, Noor Mohammed Dar, 42, was rushed to a nearby district hospital, from where he was referred to Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences at Soura in the outskirts of Srinagar where he was declared brought dead.

The arrested youths were being questioned to ascertain their motive behind the crime, police said, adding that the duo had no past criminal history.

It is alleged that the accused mistook his truck for a security force vehicle and hurled stones at it, police said, adding a stone hit the windscreen and injured Dar in the head.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/driver-killed-in-stone-pelting-in-kashmir-arrests-5937053/

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J&K: Protest within Press Council over move in SC

by Krishn Kaushik

August 26, 2019

A group of members of Press Council of India have objected to the council’s move to intervene in a case in the Supreme Court regarding the curbs on communication in Jammu and Kashmir. The members have said they were not consulted or informed about this move.

The Press Council has filed an application in Supreme Court to implead itself in a case filed by the Executive Editor of Kashmir Times, Anuradha Bhasin, against restrictions on communication and movement in Jammu and Kashmir following the scrapping of its special status.

In its application, the Press Council has said that it should be heard as the case “concerns the rights of the journalists/media for free and fair reporting on the one hand and national interest of integrity and sovereignty on the other hand”.

Press Council member Jaishankar Gupta, who is also the president of Press Association, called the decision “arbitrary” and said “the Press Council is not one person, but an institution” and that it cannot become a “tool of the government”.

Another member said, “Delhi-based members are against this petition, they are not with the Chairman”.

The member added that “it was not in the agenda papers, and the Chairman did not even inform informally” and that “rules state that any such decision should have been informed to the Council”. The member also said “it could be the Chairman’s individual view, but it is not the view of the Council”.

The members said the council had a meeting on August 22, but there was “no discussion” regarding the petition. The Chairman could have “taken an endorsement” or asked for a voting, said Gupta.

Gupta said the intervention application “is not the considered view of the Press Council, since there was no decision taken”. He called the application “quite dangerous”.

Gupta, along with C K Nayak, general secretary of Press Association and a member of Press Council, issued a statement on Saturday, saying that the Press Association “has taken a serious view of the unilateral action of the Chairman of the Press Council of India” in filing the petition.

The two members “expressed utter surprise that the Council was not taken into confidence in such a grave matter”.

Retired Supreme Court Justice C K Prasad, who is Chairman of the Press Council, told The Indian Express that the institution intervened because its mandate is to safeguard journalism in the country. Prasad said “our statutory application is to see that the media gets the facilities, that’s the only reason”.

Prasad explained that the members were not consulted because application was filed “15 days ago, because the matter was to come before the Court in a couple of days, and it was not possible to convene a meeting of the Council”.

Regarding the charge that members were not informed, the chairman said “this is the power of the Chairman, in matters of urgency, to intervene in such matters”. He said “it is not necessary” that a Council meeting be called “everytime”. He also said he has constituted a fact-finding committee which will report, and “then on the basis of that I will take the stand in the Court”.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/jk-protest-within-press-council-over-move-in-sc-5936571/

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Three weeks on, politics vacuum in Kashmir Valley, little sympathy on street

by Muzamil Jaleel

August 26, 2019

For more than 50 years, their presence was used to disprove Pakistan’s claim over Jammu and Kashmir, provide democratic legitimacy to New Delhi’s case; for over two decades, they ran a counter-insurgency operation and a campaign against separatists. For more than 50 years, they were the government.

Three weeks into the lockdown, abrogation of the state’s special status, its bifurcation and downgrade into a Union Territory, the political vacuum is deepening on the ground.

Senior leaders of the key Kashmir-based parties, National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, Peoples Conference and even smaller groups like Awami Itihaad Party and J&K Peoples Movement, are under detention. These include three ex-CMs, a former Union minister, almost every former state minister, even the Deputy Mayor of Srinagar, and a number of legislators.

Not just the top brass, many influential second-rung leaders and even district, tehsil and block-level activists have been picked up — in many places, The Indian Express has learnt, as many as four to five layers of leadership in these parties, even polling agents, have been detained. And those who have ducked the dragnet are groping for the way ahead.

“If Assembly elections had taken place on time, Omar Abdullah would have been CM again,’’ said an NC worker, from Khanyar in downtown Srinagar, who has moved out to avoid arrest. “Now he’s in jail and I don’t even know what is going on in my neighbourhood where our party has a substantial presence.”

“We have no argument left with us. We cannot blame people for being unsympathetic towards us. They were always right. We have been shown our place,’’ he said. “We did everything, including justifying shedding the blood of our own people, to keep India’s flag flying high in Kashmir. Today, we are not trusted. We are being put through the loyalty test again and again. Article 370 is the core of what made us Indians in Kashmir and that too has been taken away.”

So sweeping is the crackdown on the mainstream there isn’t anybody of consequence from these parties who can provide any clue to the next steps. “I am perhaps among the very few NC leaders who is still free because I have been dodging arrest. I don’t stay at home and my location can’t be found out through phone — phones aren’t working,’’ a young leader told The Indian Express. “I have no information because there isn’t anybody among our top leaders to ask.” He said that while the party office, Naw-e-Subuh, is in a high-security zone next to the local Doordarshan and radio stations, access has been blocked.

Explaining the new criteria, a police officer said that “anybody who is greeted by more than 10 people in a mohalla is a potential mob mobiliser” and “thus seen as a threat”. A lower-rung PDP worker from South Kashmir said that since 2016, he has been living away from home because of the militants’ threat. “Now the government too is after us. I can’t go home because I may be killed by militants. I can’t stay here because I may be picked up by police. I am hiding from both the sides now,” he said.

He echoes the questions being asked on the ground. “For us, Mufti was India in Kashmir. Our party was in alliance with BJP till last year. How can any government go after us?’’ he asked. “Perhaps over time, we had forgotten that when the day comes, we would be treated like any other Kashmiri — nothing more than suspects and jailed”.

Asked about the detention of mainstream leaders, the government spokesman in Srinagar said: “Local authorities are taking all such steps as may be necessary to maintain public order. I assure you that everything that is being done is being done under appropriate laws”.

Ironically, there is little sympathy for these leaders or parties among large sections of the public. While the Centre claims their “corruption” and “nepotism” is the reason for disaffection, many here point to their “long complicity with New Delhi” and say they have got their comeuppance.

“They were India in Kashmir,” said a university professor who didn’t want to be identified because of fear of reprisal. “Until now, they were detaining people, locking us up inside our homes. Today, their fate has changed, they have been made to realize that they will always remain part of us. How do they resist the new order is the question now”. There is another significant reason why public sympathy is missing.

Many also suspect that these very same leaders, if and when they will be released, may cite political expediency to resume negotiations on new terms with the Centre.

“They may talk on how to restore the statehood of J&K. Ladakh will always remain a separate Union Territory and there will be no dialogue on Article 370 and Article 35 A. They are gone for good,’’ said a senior police officer involved in the current administration. “I don’t know when that will happen. It could take yet another five years. There is no chance that the government now will agree to restore special status to J&K. It is history now”.

Whether that happens may not be clear but one thing is: mainstream political leaders are in a double-bind. If they are seen as falling in line, they risk losing public trust, said the university professor. Can they address people’s fears and hopes in a politics that abjures violence is the question, he said.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/jammu-kashmir-article-370-mehbooba-mufti-omar-abdullah-army-amit-shah-bjp-5936605/

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Minority Affairs Ministry team in Kashmir on Aug 27-28 to identify development projects: Naqvi

August 25, 2019

A Minority Affairs Ministry team will visit the Kashmir Valley for two days from Tuesday to identify the areas to implement centrally-sponsored development projects after provisions of Article 370 were abrogated, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has said.

He also asserted that those opposing the government’s withdrawal of J&K’s special status, acting as per their “political prejudice”, will also come around to support the move after seeing its impact.

“A team of senior officials, including the Secretary, will be visiting the area (Kashmir Valley) on August 27-28. The team will explore development possibilities — where schools, colleges, skill development centres can be opened,” Naqvi told PTI in an interview.

The team will look at all possibilities of social-economic development projects, he said.

The minister also said “precautions” taken in J&K are targeted at a “handful of separatists” who can mislead the people. “It is the job of a responsible government to not allow any misinformation campaign to be run,” he said.

Naqvi said the team will also visit Jammu and Ladakh at a later date.

The Minority Affairs Minister ruled out reconsideration on abrogation of Article 370 provisions, saying there was no going back.

“It is (Narendra) Modi’s government. Everybody knows that in this government, decision is made after a lot of thinking, but there is no question of a rethink after a decision has been made,” he said.

Asked if people of the Kashmir Valley were supportive of the government move, Naqvi claimed that they were “absolutely supportive”.

Earlier this month, the government had revoked J&K’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution and divided the state into two Union territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

The focus of the ministry is now on Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, Naqvi said, and emphasised that the revocation of Article 370 has opened up possibilities of large scale development there.

Naqvi also said the Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram (PMJVK) will also be applicable in all areas of J&K and Ladakh.

The PMJVK is a centrally-sponsored scheme that seeks to improve the development of minority concentration areas through creation of socio-economic infrastructure, provision of basic amenities, and other measures.

“Now the ministry will be active in the entire region — Leh, Ladakh, Kargil, Jammu and Kashmir. We will make efforts to set up schools colleges, polytechnic, engineering colleges and hospitals,” Naqvi said.

“Because of Article 370, there were many things which we wanted to do, but could not do it. Now it can be done,” he said.

Asked about the reaction to the government move, Naqvi said “some opposition friends” had hopes that the country will be “set ablaze” with the Article 370 move, but the opposite happened, and the move was welcomed.

“It was welcomed in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Article 370 has not given anything to the people there, but has taken away from J-K and Ladakh. Over 100 laws on education, employment, human rights, minority or child rights, were not applicable there. So, the people realised that Article 370 was a big impediment in their path to development,” he said.

On the Congress leaders expressing divergent views — with some expressing support for the government’s move while others opposing it — Naqvi said those who know Kashmir, its ground reality and don’t think with a politically prejudiced mind, are favouring the move.

“Those who have political baggage and political prejudice are opposing it. But in future they will also support it on seeing the impact,” he said.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/minority-affairs-ministry-team-in-kashmir-on-aug-27-28-to-identify-development-projects-naqvi-5935703/

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India-Bahrain joint statement: Global community must reject use of terrorism against other countries

August 25, 2019

India and Bahrain Sunday issued a joint statement and called on the international community to avoid the use of terrorism against other countries and help enhance cooperation in the field of security, counter-terrorism and the exchange of intelligence and information.

The joint statement was issued during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Gulf Kingdom. PM Modi’s visit to Bahrain is the first-ever by any Indian prime minister.

During his visit, which concluded Sunday, PM Modi held bilateral talks and meetings with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa.

“Both sides called on all states to reject the use of terrorism against other countries; dismantle terrorism infrastructures where they happen to exist and to cut off any kind of support and financing to the terrorists perpetrating terrorism from all territories against other states, and bring perpetrators of acts of terrorism to justice,” the statement read. However, no particular country was mentioned.

The two sides also discussed ways to promote cooperation in cybersecurity, including prevention of the use of cyberspace for terrorism, radicalisation and for disturbing social harmony.

The statement also said that the leaders pressed for a “need for concerted action by the international community against terrorism” and “underlined the importance of comprehensive sanctioning of terrorists and their organisations by the UN”.

The two countries also emphasised on the urgent need to pursue UN reforms, including the UN Security Council, to make it more representative and effective in tackling global issues.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-bahrain-joint-statement-on-terrorism-pakistan-global-countries-un-security-council-5935603/

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Kashmiri Pandits hold rally in US to support revocation of Article 370

August 25, 2019

The Kashmiri Pandit community in the US held a rally applauding the Indian government’s decision to revoke the Article 370 of the Constitution that accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

The Indian government on August 5 revoked Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and proposed that the state be bifurcated into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Joined by other members of the Indian-American community, Kashmiri Pandits held the rally last week in front of the CNN headquarters in Atlanta in support of the abrogation of Article 370.

“The rally highlighted the fact that these temporary articles related to Jammu and Kashmir needed these modifications as these were highly discriminatory against almost all Kashmiri minorities (such as Shias, Dalits, Gujjars, Kashmiri Pandits, Kashmiri Sikhs)…,” said Subash Razdan, Atlanta resident of Kashmir ancestry and a former president of the National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA).

At the rally, Kashmiri Pandits told personal stories of their hapless exodus and yearning to go back to their homeland which they left in 1990 due to militancy.

“All those present believed that under this new freedom courtesy of the Modi Government, India’s Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and other minorities will now have a better chance to be equals before the law!” Razdan said.

Meanwhile, Overseas Physicians of Kashmiri-Origin in a letter to the editor in chief of Lancet magazine Dr Richard Horton said that they are “deeply disappointed” that his recent opinion published on August 17 omits many relevant facts, and thus represents an intellectually dishonest analysis of a complex geopolitical issue.

“We request that the Lancet immediately retracts the editorial, or publish a viewpoint that includes a more thorough set of facts and analysis on Kashmir…,” the letter said.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/kashmiri-pandits-hold-rally-in-us-to-support-revocation-of-article-370-5935393/

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PM Modi launches $4.2 mn redevelopment project of temple in Bahrain

August 25, 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday launched the USD 4.2 million redevelopment project of the 200-year-old Lord Sri Krishna temple in the Bahraini capital.

Modi, the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the key Gulf nation, offered prayers at the Shreenathji Temple in Manama, the oldest temple in the region, and also the ‘prasad’ that he bought with the RuPay card after launching it in the UAE on Saturday. PM Modi Mann Ki Baat LIVE Updates

Prime Minister then unveiled the plaque, thus officially launching the redevelopment project of the iconic temple.

Narendra Modi

@narendramodi

Spent time at Bahrain’s Shreenathji Temple. This is among the oldest temples in the region and manifests the strong ties between India and Bahrain.

Here are some blessed moments from the temple.

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“Thank you Bahrain for the warmth and affection. PM @narendramodi concludes his historic visit with prayers at the 200 years old Shreenathji Temple in #Manama, the oldest temple in the region. The temple reflects the pluralism of Bahraini society,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a tweet.

The facelift for the Shreenathji (Shree Krishna) temple in Manama will kick off later this year.

The USD 4.2 million redevelopment project will be on a piece of land measuring 16,500 square feet and the new four-floor structure covering 45,000 square feet will have an overall height of 30 meters.

The heritage and the 200-year-old legacy of the temple will be highlighted in the redevelopment and the new iconic complex will house the sanctum sanctorum and prayer halls.

There are also facilities for traditional Hindu marriage ceremonies and other rituals, promoting Bahrain as a wedding destination and boosting tourism.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/pm-modi-launches-4-2-mn-redevelopment-project-of-temple-in-bahrain-5935151/

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Two arrested for causing truck driver’s death in stone pelting incident in Kashmir’s Anantnag

Aug 26, 2019

Two youths were arrested in the early hours of Monday for allegedly throwing stones at a truck in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district, killing the driver of the vehicle.

Police said that six others have been detained for questioning in connection with the incident in which some stones had hit the truck at Zradipora in Uranhall locality of Bijbehara area in Anantnag.

The driver, Noor Mohammed Dar, 42, was rushed to a nearby district hospital, from where he was referred to Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences at Soura in the outskirts of Srinagar where he was declared brought dead.

The arrested youths were being questioned to ascertain their motive behind the crime, police said, adding that the duo had no past criminal history.

It is alleged that the miscreants mistook his truck for a security force vehicle and hurled stones at it, police said, adding a stone hit the windscreen and injured Dar in the head.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/two-arrested-for-causing-truck-driver-s-death-in-stone-pelting-incident-in-kashmir-s-anantnag/story-E38fYywv7T0vPGZXoGM7cK.html

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Africa

 

Jordan police clash with protesters over anti-smuggling efforts

August 25, 2019

AMMAN: Jordanian officials have reached a deal with local representatives to end two days of clashes over government efforts to curb cross-border cigarette smuggling from Syria.

The clashes erupted last week between police and protesters in the northern city of Ramtha. Many residents of the impoverished city have made a living selling cigarettes that were smuggled in Syria for a profit in Jordan, prompting the government to tighten customs regulations.

In recent days, protesters blocked streets with stones and tires and threw fire bombs at police, who fired tear gas to disperse them.

Such anti-government violence is rare in Jordan.

Petra news agency and other local media reported the agreement to end clashes on Sunday.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1545041/middle-east

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Twin bomb blasts kill at least 2 in Somali capital

Mohammed Dhaysane 

25.08.2019

MOGADISHU, Somalia

At least two people including the former secretary of the Banadir regional administration were killed with several others wounded in two separate bomb blasts in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Sunday, officials said.

The first attack involved a roadside bomb targeting security forces in Mogadishu’s Hadan neighborhood, killing one person and wounding several others, according to local media.

Mohamed Bulle, a police officer in Mogadishu told Anadolu Agency over the phone that the second attack took place near a security checkpoint near in the capital, killing a former secretary of the Banadir regional administration.

"Amiin Sheikh Elmi, a former secretary of Banadir regional administration was killed in the second attack carried out with a a bomb attached under his vehicle that went off at a security checkpoint in Mogadishu on Sunday," Bulle said.

He added that at least four people including civilians had been wounded in both the first and second attacks and were rushed to hospitals for treatment.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/twin-bomb-blasts-kill-at-least-2-in-somali-capital/1564784

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Finish Off Boko Haram, Army Commander Charges Soldiers

AUG 25, 2019

Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Major Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi, has charged troops combating Boko Haram in the North-East to finish off the insurgents and return to the barracks.

Adeniyi stated this during a visit to Gubio, a town attacked by the terrorists in Borno State a few days ago.

The army general said that he is counting on troops to take the battle to their enemies in their enclave.

He said, "I urge you to make up your mind to end this war.

"The entire country is behind you to finish off Boko Haram so that you can return to the barracks."

Full report at:

http://saharareporters.com/2019/08/25/finish-boko-haram-army-commander-charges-soldiers

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Mideast

 

Israeli air strikes hit Palestinian military position in Lebanon

26 August 2019

Israeli air strikes hit a military position belonging to a Palestinian group in Lebanon, near the Syrian border, early on Monday, Lebanon’s An-Nahar news said.

The position belonged to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, the newspaper said.

The strikes came a day after two drones, which the Lebanese army and the Iran-backed Hezbollah group said were Israeli, crashed in the Hezbollah-dominated southern suburbs of Beirut, with one exploding.

“Three Israeli air strikes target the Lebanese-Syria border east of Zahle,” An-Nahar said.

An official from the Palestinian position in the Lebanese town of Qusaya said three air strikes hit it, causing only material damage. An-Nahar said anti-aircraft fire was launched from the position.

“MK planes (drones) targeted one of our sites with three small rockets. There were no casualties, only material damage,” Abu Muhammad told An-Nahar.

An Israeli military spokeswoman told Reuters: “We do not comment on foreign reports.”

The Lebanese army was not immediately available for comment.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/26/Air-strikes-Israeli-hit-Lebanon-Syria-border-area-.html

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Three rockets fired from Gaza into Israel

26 August 2019

Three rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel on Sunday, the Israeli army said.

Three launches were identified from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory,” it said in a statement. “Two of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system.”

One projectile fell in a wasteland, starting a fire, according to the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council.

A concert organized as part of a music festival in the town of Sderot was interrupted by a siren, a spokesperson for the municipality said.

Since the start of August, an uptick in rocket fire and Palestinian attempts to cross from Gaza into Israel have been met with Israeli strikes, threatening a fragile ceasefire between Israel and the coastal enclave’s Islamist rulers Hamas.

With less than a month to go before Israeli elections, analysts say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is keen to avoid a flare-up – despite his rivals calling for tough action against Hamas.

The movement has not claimed the latest rocket fire or infiltration attempts, but speculation has grown that militants in the blockaded enclave are hoping to pressure him into further concessions under a truce deal.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/26/Three-rockets-fired-from-Gaza-into-Israel.html

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Hezbollah leader calls Israeli drones in Beirut very dangerous move

25 August 2019

Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Sunday that the fall of two Israeli drones overnight in suburbs of Beirut dominated by the Iranian-backed group amounted to a very dangerous move.

Nasrallah, whose group fought a month-long war with Israel in 2006, said in a televised speech: “The latest Israeli development (is) very, very, very dangerous.”

There were no signs the bitter enemies were headed for a conflict.

But Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said the drones were designed to stir up regional tensions.

In the first such incident in more than a decade, one drone fell and a second exploded before dawn near the ground and caused some damage to Hezbollah’s media center in the Dahiyeh suburbs, a Hezbollah official told Reuters.

“The new aggression...constitutes a threat to regional stability and an attempt to push the situation towards further tension,” Hariri said in a statement from his office.

The Israeli military declined to comment.

The incident took place hours after the Israeli military said its aircraft had struck Iranian forces and Shiite militias near Syria’s capital Damascus which it said had been planning to launch “killer drones” into Israel.

War monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said two members of Hezbollah and one Iranian were killed in the Israeli strikes around Damascus.

The Israeli military said its aircraft struck “Iranian Quds Force operatives and Shi’ite militias which were preparing to advance attack plans targeting sites in Israel from within Syria over the last number of days.”

The elite Quds Force is the overseas arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

‘Kill him first’

“Iran has no immunity anywhere. Our forces operate in every sector against the Iranian aggression,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Twitter. “If someone rises up to kill you, kill him first.”

Benjamin Netanyahu

@netanyahu

In a major operational effort, we have thwarted an attack against Israel by the Iranian Quds Force & Shi'ite militias. I reiterate: Iran has no immunity anywhere. Our forces operate in every sector against the Iranian aggression. “If someone rises up to kill you, kill him first.”

42.1K

3:06 AM - Aug 25, 2019

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13.7K people are talking about this

In Tehran, a senior Revolutionary Guards commander denied that Iranian targets had been hit in the Israeli air strikes in Syria, the semi-official ILNA news agency reported.

Israel deems Lebanon’s heavily armed Shiite Hezbollah movement, backed by Iran, the biggest threat across its border.

In their 2006 war nearly 1,200 people, mostly civilians, died in Lebanon and 158 people died in Israel, mostly soldiers.

Lebanon has complained to the United Nations about Israeli planes regularly violating its airspace in recent years.

Residents in Dahiyeh, said they heard the sound of a blast.

A witness said the army closed off the streets where a fire had started.

A Hezbollah spokesman told Lebanon’s state news agency NNA the second drone was rigged with explosives causing serious damage to the media center.

Hezbollah is now examining the first drone, he said.

The Lebanese army said that one Israeli drone fell and another exploded at 02:30 am local time (2330 GMT), causing only material damage.

“The army arrived immediately and cordoned off the area where the two drones fell,” it said.

Israel has grown alarmed by the rising influence of its regional foe Iran during the war in neighboring Syria, where Tehran and Hezbollah provide military help to Damascus.

Israel says its air force has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria against what it calls Iranian targets and arms transfers to Hezbollah.

Iran and Hezbollah are helping President Bashar al-Assad in the eight-year-old Syria war.

Russia, which is also aiding Assad, has largely turned a blind eye to the Israeli air strikes

Syrian state media said air defenses confronted the “aggression” and the army said most of the Israeli missiles were destroyed.

The United States and Iran are at odds over Tehran’s nuclear program and the Gulf, with both sides trading accusations over threats to the strategic waterway’s security.

Iran also has wide sway in Iraq.

Iraq’s paramilitary groups on Wednesday blamed a series of recent blasts at their weapons depots and bases on the United States and Israel.

The Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), the grouping of Iraq’s mostly Shiite Muslim paramilitary groups, many of which are backed by Iran, said the United States had allowed four Israeli drones to enter the region accompanying US forces and carry out missions on Iraqi territory.

Netanyahu has hinted of possible Israeli involvement in attacks against Iranian-linked targets in Iraq.

On the Israeli YNet news website, military affairs commentator Ron Ben-Yishai described the alleged Iranian killer drone attack plans as revenge by Tehran for the purported Israeli drone strikes in Iraq.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/25/Hezbollah-leader-calls-Israeli-drones-in-Beirut-very-dangerous-move.html

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Israeli army says Iranian Quds operatives planned to attack Israel from Syria

25 August 2019

The Israeli army says Iranian Quds operatives, commanded by General Qassem Soleimani, planned to attack Israel from an Iranian base in Syria.

“Soleimani commanded an attack of killer drones on Israel. Iranian Quds operatives flew to the Damascus Intl. Airport with drones & explosives, and continued to an Iranian base in Syria to prepare for an attack on Israel. An attack that never happened. We attacked their base,” Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a tweet.

Israel Defense Forces

@IDF

• 18h

TO: Iranian Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani,

RE: Last Night

"We will carry out a large-scale attack of killer drones on the 'Zionist entity' from Syria."

It sounded good in your morning meeting, didn't it?

Israel Defense Forces

@IDF

Soleimani commanded an attack of killer drones on Israel. Iranian Quds operatives flew to the Damascus Intl. Airport with drones & explosives, and continued to an Iranian base in Syria to prepare for an attack on Israel.

An attack that never happened.

We attacked their base:

View image on Twitter

3,237

5:57 PM - Aug 25, 2019

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The Israeli military attacked targets near Damascus late Saturday in what it said was a successful effort to thwart an imminent Iranian drone strike on Israel, stepping up an already heightened campaign against Iranian military activity in the region.

However, a senior Revolutionary Guards commander denied that Iranian targets had been hit in Israeli air strikes in Syria, the semi-official ILNA news agency reported.

General Qassem Soleimani is the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps and the commander of the Quds Force.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/25/Israeli-army-says-Iranian-Quds-operatives-planned-to-attack-Israel-from-Syria.html

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Hezbollah says Israeli drones that fell in Beirut had certain ‘targets’

25 August 2019

Israeli drones that fell in Beirut had certain “targets” which so far investigations have not confirmed, a Hezbollah spokesman says in televised comments.

Earlier, it was reported that the Israeli drone that exploded over the Lebanese capital Beirut caused extensive damage to Hezbollah's media center, the Iranian proxy’s spokesman said on Sunday, adding that the second drone is in Hezbollah's possession.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/25/Hezbollah-says-Israeli-drones-that-fell-in-Beirut-had-certain-targets-.html

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Three Turkish soldiers killed in northern Iraq

25 August 2019

Turkey’s official news agency is reporting that three Turkish soldiers were killed in northern Iraq in clashes with Kurdish militants.

Anadolu Agency, citing the Turkish defense ministry, said on Sunday that another seven soldiers were wounded and hospitalized.

Turkey launched the “Claw” operation in May into mountainous northern Iraq against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.

The offensive entered its third phase on Friday, in which troops aim to destroy PKK caves and shelters in the Sinat-Haftanin region.

The PKK began an insurgency against Turkey in the country’s mainly Kurdish southeast in 1984, and the conflict has killed tens of thousands of people.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/25/Three-Turkish-soldiers-killed-in-northern-Iraq.html

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War monitor says 2 Hezbollah, 1 Iranian killed in Damascus strikes overnight

25 August 2019

War monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said two members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group and one Iranian were killed in Israeli strikes around the Syrian capital Damascus overnight.

An Israeli military spokesman on Saturday said Israeli aircraft struck Iranian forces near Damascus that had been planning to launch “killer drones” at targets in Israel.

An Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander on Sunday denied that Iranian targets had been hit in the strikes.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/25/War-monitor-says-2-Hezbollah-1-Iranian-killed-in-Damascus-strikes-overnight.html

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Arab Coalition forms a Saudi-UAE committee to stabilize Yemen ceasefire

26 August 2019

The Arab Coalition said that a joint committee was formed between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to stabilize the ceasefire in the Yemeni provinces of Shabwa and Abyan, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

The coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki said in a statement that the committee would start working as early as Monday.

Col. al-Maliki explained that the command of the joint forces of the coalition was following up the situation on the ground in the province of Shabwa. He affirmed the necessity for a commitment by all parties in Shabwa to continue the ceasefire and maintain calm.

Joint statement

In a joint statement run early on Monday, the governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE urged all parties to cooperate with the joint committee to achieve disengagement and redeployment of troops as part of the coalition’s military efforts.

The statement, issued by the foreign ministries of both countries, called for quick engagement in the dialogue that Saudi Arabia called to address the causes and repercussions of the events in some southern provinces.

It also stressed that both countries would continue their political, military, humanitarian and development work as part of the coalition efforts to preserve the interests of the Yemeni people and deter the Iran-aligned Houthi militia.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2019/08/26/Arab-coalition-forms-a-Saudi-UAE-committee-to-stabilize-Yemen-ceasefire.html

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Five Turkish generals handed in resignations: Report

Aug 25, 2019

Five generals from the Turkish army have handed in resignations in the wake of a military council meeting earlier this month, opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet said on Sunday.

The Supreme Military Council (YAS), chaired by President Tayyip Erdogan, convened to discuss promotions, dismissals and placements of the high-ranking military personnel on Aug 1.

The resignations by one major general and four brigadier generals were submitted as a reaction to council decisions which were described by retired military officers as an attempt to make the Turkish army smaller, the unsourced Cumhuriyet report said.

There was no immediate comment from Turkey's defense ministry.

Among those who have resigned is the commander of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) division for Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, Major General Ahmet Ercan Corbacı, as well as another army officer responsible for the Syrian province, independent news site T24 said.

Cobancı is one of the 127 generals and admirals assigned to new posts after Erdogan signed off on a decree following decisions made at the Supreme Military Council meeting last week.

Lieutenant Generals Recep Ozdemir, Omer Faruk Ozdemir, Ugur Bulend Acarbay and Ertugrul Saglam are the other four who have submitted their resignations, T24 said.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/25/604475/Erdogan-turkish-generals-resignation-military-council

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Lebanon's Hezbollah will no longer tolerate intruding Israeli drones: Nasrallah

Aug 25, 2019

The secretary general of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement says fighters from the movement will counter any further violation of the Lebanese airspace by Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles, warning the Tel Aviv regime to immediately cease such breaches.

“Hezbollah will endeavor to down all Israeli drones, which may violate Lebanon’s airspace,” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah stated in a televised speech broadcast live from the southern Lebanese capital city of Beirut on Sunday evening.

Nasrallah made the comments a day after two Israeli drones crashed in a southern neighborhood of Beirut.

Hezbollah said the first drone had fallen on a building housing Hezbollah’s media office in Beirut’s Dahieh suburb. The second drone, which appeared to have been sent by Israel to search for the first one, had crashed in an empty plot nearby after being detonated in the air, it added.

Nasrallah said the Israeli drone incursion into Lebanon amounted to an open attack on the Arab country’s sovereignty.

“What happened last night was a suicide drone attack on Beirut’s southern suburb of Dahieh. This was the first Israeli attack on Lebanon since the (summer) 2006 war. The first drone was a surveillance aircraft designed to collect and transfer data to the second one,” Nasrallah said, stressing that the drone strike was meant to inflict heavy causalities on the local population.

“Hezbollah will do everything possible to prevent the repetition of such attacks. If we do not respond to the Zionist attack on Dahieh, Israel will follow suit and target us just as it has hit the positions of Hashd al-Sha’abi (Popular Mobilization Units) forces in Iraq. Hezbollah will by no means allow the Israeli aggression pattern to be repeated in Lebanon,” the Hezbollah chief pointed out.

“The era of the Israeli military’s undeterred attacks on Lebanon has come to an end. Hezbollah will tolerate no more Israeli drones penetrating Lebanese airspace,” Nasrallah said.

‘No Iranian site hit in Syria’

He went on to say that Israeli missiles targeted one of Hezbollah’s civilian structures in the Damascus outskirts in Syria last night, dismissing Israeli officials’ allegations that the projectiles had hit an Iranian site there.

Nasrallah noted that two Lebanese resistance fighters were killed in the missile strike, stressing that “Hezbollah will respond in kind in case the Israeli military continues to target and kill resistance forces.”

Turning to Syrian army advances in the country’s embattled northwestern province of Idlib, the Hezbollah secretary general said government forces are progressing toward final victory over foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants in the strategic region.

He then lauded the enormous sacrifices made by the Damascus government and Syrian nation in battles against Takfiri militants, underlining that Hezbollah resistance fighters are “fighting shoulder to shoulder” by Syrian army soldiers to purge terrorists from any inch of the Syrian soil.

“Enemies sought to crush the resistance axis when they sponsored militancy in Syria back in 2011. The United States called on the Lebanese government at the time to stay away war on Syria, and prevent Hezbollah’s involvement,” Nasrallah said.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Hezbollah chief described corruption as a shameful phenomenon within Lebanon’s political arena, warning that certain people are deliberately trying to paint a bleak picture of Lebanon on social media.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/25/604470/Hezbollah-wont-tolerate-Israeli-drones-intruding-Lebanon-airspace-Nasrallah

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Israel demolishes 24 Palestinian buildings in less than 2 months: UN

Aug 25, 2019

The United Nations (UN) says the Israeli regime has demolished two dozen Palestinian buildings and structures across the occupied West Bank in less than two months.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a new report, excerpts of which were carried by Palestinian Information Center on Sunday, that Israeli authorities demolished 24 Palestinian buildings and structures across the occupied region between July 30 and August 19.

The OCHA said that the recent demolitions displaced nine people and affected at least 80 other Palestinians, adding that the number of people displaced by such demolitions had amounted to at least 480 people so far this year, more than the 472 Palestinians displaced in the entire 2018.

According to the report, within the reported period, 10 buildings were demolished in East Jerusalem al-Quds, and the remaining demolitions were carried out in four communities in the so-called Area C.

It said 13 of the demolished structures in Area C were being used for humanitarian purposes, including seven located in a herding community in the northern Jordan Valley.

Area C, which is under full Israeli control, makes up more than 60 percent of the entire occupied West Bank. Eighty eight percent of the area lies in the strategic Jordan Valley, which comprises a third of the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli authorities frequently demolish Palestinian buildings and residences in Area C, with Bedouin and herding communities being particularly vulnerable to that practice.

Elsewhere in the report, the OCHA said Israeli authorities conducted a total of 178 search and arrest operations in the villages and towns of the West Bank during the period.

At least 190 Palestinians were arrested during those operations, it added.

During the same period, Israeli forces also wounded a total of 173 Palestinians in numerous clashes across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds, the report said, adding that 67 cases of injuries — some 40 percent — occurred in clashes that erupted after a group of Israeli settlers attempted to enter the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem al-Quds on August 11.  

The OCHA also said around 268 Palestinians, including 97 children, sustained wounds during the same period after Israeli troops attacked them during the March of Return rallies in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Sixty two of the wounded were shot with live ammunition, it said.

At least 305 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces ever since the anti-occupation protest rallies began in the Gaza Strip on March 30, 2018. Over 18,000 Palestinians have also sustained injuries.

Back in March, a report by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) revealed that the Israeli regime had until then occupied more than 85 percent — some 27,000 square kilometers — of the historical territories of Palestine in an expropriation process that continues unabated.

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

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/25/604450/Palestine-Israel-UN-OCHA-demolitions-West-Bank-alQuds

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Arab World

 

Iraq: Hashd Al-Sha'abi Downs Spy Drone Over Nineveh Sky

Aug 25, 2019

The Arabic-language Sumeriyeh News website quoted an Iraqi security source as saying that the intelligence forces of Hashd al-Sha'abi Brigade 50 in Nineveh Province identified and shot down a reconnaissance drone over its headquarters in Nineveh province. Hashd al-Sha'abi had earlier downed another spy drone over Baghdad airspace.

Hashd al-Sha’abi traced and targeted a spy drone over one of its centers near Baghdad.

The Hashd al-Sha’abi in a statement on Thursday announced that the air defense systems of the popular forces’ Brigade 12 has intercepted a spying drone over its center in Baghdad.

The statement said that Hashd al-Sha’abi prevented the hostile aircraft from conducting its reconnaissance mission.

In a relevant development on Thursday, second-in-command of Hashd al-Sha’abi Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, held the United States fully responsible for recent attacks on the volunteer forces.

He said in a statement that the US, which has contributed to the emergence of terrorist groups in the Middle East, is now considering various ways to violate Iraq’s sovereignty and targeting the Hashd al-Sha’abi .

“We have accurate and credible information that Americans brought in four Israeli drones this year via Azerbaijan to operate within the US fleet to carry out sorties aimed at Iraqi military headquarters. We also have other information, maps and recordings of all types of American aircraft, when they took off, when they landed and the number of hours they flew,” al-Mohandes pointed out.

“Instead of chasing Daesh terrorists, US military aircraft are collecting information and data concerning the brigades of Popular Mobilization Units, and their warehouses and arms depots,” the statement added.

Sayf al-Badr, the spokesman of the Iraqi Health Ministry, said in a statement that at least one person was killed and 29 others were wounded in a powerful explosion, which rocked a military base in Southern Baghdad on August 12.

An unnamed source from Iraq’s Interior Ministry stated that an ammunition warehouse exploded inside a federal police military base, named Falcon, in Owerij area near the Southern district of Doura.

The source added that the blast was followed by a series of explosions at the warehouse that sent a large amount of shrapnel to nearby houses.

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980603001088

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US-Backed SDF Suppresses Protests in Eastern Syria As More Washington Military Aid Arrives

Aug 25, 2019

Local sources in Eastern Deir Ezzur reported that tens of residents of the towns of al-Azabeh and Moizlieh towns in Eastern Deir Ezzur staged protest rallies against the SDF, and called for their exit from al-Jazeereh region.

The Kurdish militia dispersed the crowd by firing at them. The protesters shouted against SDF’s corruption, plundering oil and public assets as well as closing al-Salehieh crossing which is linked to the areas under the Syrian Army’s control.

Meantime, the Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper reported that a new military convoy comprising over 200 trucks carrying US weapons as well as military and logistic equipment arrived in Ra’as al-Ain region in Northwestern Hasaka near the border with Turkey through Simalka passage between Iraq and Syria.

In a relevant development on Saturday, the US Army dispatched a large military convoy comprised of tens of heavy trucks carrying military tools and weapons to Eastern Syria to support the Kurdish militias’ secessionist goals as popular protests against the Washington-backed militants have risen in Eastern Euphrates.

The Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper reported that around 110 US military trucks carrying massive military equipment arrived in Tal Bidar military base in Northern Hasaka via Simalka border crossing.

It noted that the move has taken place in line with US-led coalition’s support for the secessionist goals of the SDF in Eastern Euphrates.

Al-Watan newspaper, meantime, pointed to the dispatch of 555 military trucks carrying military equipment and logistical supplies to the US-controlled military base in Ain Issa in Northern Raqqa.

The daily also pointed to the dispatch of weapons and military equipment to the Eastern parts of Euphrates despite the US declaration of end of the ISIL in Eastern Euphrates.

The media activists in Eastern Syria also pointed to large-scale popular protests against the presence of the US-backed troops in Eastern Syria, and said that the Kurdish militias, backed by the US Air Force, have arrested over 100 residents of the town of al-Tayaneh in Southern part of al-Mayadeen City in Eastern Deir Ezzur.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980603000594

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Syrian Army Preparing to Liberate Tahrir Al-Sham’s Stronghold Town in Idlib

Aug 25, 2019

The Syrian Army has dispatched a large number of troops and massive military equipment comprising tens of military vehicles, and armored personnel carriers to Northern and Northeastern Khan Sheikhoun in Southern Idlib and the town of Atshan in Northern Hama.

Meantime, the Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper quoted a military source as saying that the Syrian Army intends to seize the town of al-Tamaneh some eight kilometers to the East of Khan Sheikhoun which is home to the most important strongholds of Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay’at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) in Southern Idlib.

Meantime, the Syrian Army intends to cleanse the remaining part of the vital Aleppo-Damascus highway which connects Northwestern Syria to Jordan in the South.

On Monday, the Syrian army managed to enter Khan Sheikhoun after five years.

Also reports said on Wednesday that the local population in Ma’aret al-Numan in Southern Idlib were preparing themselves for the imminent entry of the Syrian Army troops into the city, adding that the people were eagerly waiting for the army’s military takeover.

“The next target of the Syrian Arm’s military operations is Ma’aret al-Numan after imposing full control over Khan Sheikhoun,” Syrian lawmaker for Idlib Province Safvan Qorbi said.

He noted that the residents of Idlib and its countryside are expecting the Syrian Army to arrive in areas occupied by the terrorists, and said that large groups of residents of Ma’aret al-Numan and the city of Saraqib in Southern Idlib have visited the joint Syrian-Russian Command Headquarters for the implementation of peace plan.

Qorbi noted the massive presence of the terrorist groups in Ma’aret al-Numan and the Turkish Army’s occupying role in the region, and said that the Syrian Army is prepared to enter Ma’aret al-Numan.

He also pointed to the heavy defeat of the terrorist groups in Khan Sheikhoun city despite massive military backup by the Turkish Army and their retreat from the region, and said that negotiations are currently underway for exit of the Turkish Army troops from areas under its control in Hama.

In a relevant development on Sunday, the Arabic-language media outlets reported that the Syrian Army is attempting to take full control of the key town of Ma’aret al-Numan in Idlib after it liberated the strategic city of Khan Sheikhoun earlier this week. “According to intel, the Syrian Army will move towards the strategic town of Ma’aret al-Numan along the Damascus-Aleppo highway, 25 kilometers North of Khan Sheikhoun,” the Arabic-language Russian Sputnik News Agency quoted battlefield sources as saying.

It pointed to the terrorist groups' fast retreat from Khan Sheikhoun towards Ma’aret al-Numan, and said that the Syrian Army has targeted the terrorists’ positions in the region.

Meantime, Syrian military expert Mohammad Abbas also pointed to the Syrian Army’s control over Khan Sheikhoun, and said army units plan to enter Saraqib and even Jabal al-Zawiyeh in Western Idlib in a bid to pave the way for their advances towards areas North or Ma’aret al-Numan.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980603000542

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Israel Launches Fresh Strikes on Syrian Army Positions Near Damascus

Aug 25, 2019

The Arabic-language SANA news agency quoted a military source as saying that Israeli army launched missile attacks on the military positions of the Syrian army near Damascus from its positions in the Golan Heights.

It noted that the Syrian Army’s air defense systems intercepted the Israeli missiles before they could reach their targets.

The Arabic-language website of the Russian Sputnik news agency also reported that the Syrian Army’s Air Defense systems confronted Israel’s missile attacks on Southwestern Syria in Syria-Lebanon-Occupied Golan triangle.

Yet, Al-Masdar News Website said that the missile attacks, carried out by the Israeli Air Force, killed four people and injured 21 others.

No independent source has confirmed Al-Masdar's report.

In a relevant development in late July, the Arabic-language media reports said that the Israeli Air Force attacked the Syrian Army’s military positions in Dara’a and Quneitra provinces in Southern Syria in a move to help the terrorist groups stationed in the Northern parts of the country.

The SANA news agency reported that the Syrian Army’s Air Defense System intercepted the missiles fired by the Israeli fighter jets.

The Israeli air force launched an aggression on Tal al-Harra region in Daraa Countryside.

Meantime, a military source said that the Syrian Army’s air defense systems also destroyed two Israeli missiles during Israeli air raids on the Northern part of the city of Khan al-Arnabeh in Northern Quneitra and in Southwestern Damascus near Syria-Lebanon-Occupied Golan.

Meantime, four Syrian soldiers were wounded when an Israeli missile hit Naba al-Sukhr region in Eastern Quneitra.

A military source also pointed to blasts in the Occupied Golan concurrent with activities of the Syrian Army’s air defense system in Northern Quneitra.

Military experts believe that the expansion of Israeli aggressions on Southern Syria and concurrent with the Syrian Army’s military operations in Northern parts of the country have likely taken place with the aim of distracting the attention of the Syrian Army from the battle with the terrorist groups.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980603000411

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Pompeo voices support for Israel after Israeli airstrikes in Syria

25 August 2019

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about Israeli airstrikes in Syria, expressed Washington’s support for Israel’s right to defend itself from the threat posed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, the State Department said on Sunday.

“The secretary and the prime minister discussed how Iran is leveraging its foothold in Syria to threaten Israel and its neighbors,” the State Department said in a statement.

The Israeli military attacked targets near Damascus late Saturday in what it said was a successful effort to thwart an imminent Iranian drone strike on Israel, stepping up an already heightened campaign against Iranian military activity in the region.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/25/Pompeo-voices-support-for-Israel-after-Israeli-air-strikes-in-Syria.html

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Former IDF spy chief: I would not want to be Soleimani following Syria operation

25 August 2019

Amos Yadlin, the former head of the Israeli Military Intelligence, said he would not want to be in the shoes of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani after “yet another operation failure versus Israel in Syria.”

Israel has been escalating its security campaign against Iranian presence in neighboring countries. Israeli airstrikes struck targets in Syria on Saturday and Iraq last month. Former Israeli military officials are sounding off on the developments.

Yadlin tweeted the Israeli strikes in Syria “signal as warning to the enemy to avoid further escalation.” He said he “would not want to be in [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps General] Qassem Soleimani’s shoes this morning after yet another operational failure versus Israel in Syria.”

Amos Yadlin

@YadlinAmos

• 21h

Replying to @YadlinAmos

Impressive IDF Intel and AF capabilities last night. High quality RT intel along with a precise surgical operation prevented a significant attack on Israel.  I would not want to be in Qassem Suleimani’s shoes this morning, after yet another operational failures Vs 🇮🇱 in Syria.

3/

Amos Yadlin

@YadlinAmos

Israel’s decision to take responsibility 1) signal as warning to the enemy to avoid further escalation, 2) increases readiness of our forces for an Iranian response, and 3) serves political purposes by distracting from the deteriorating security situation in Gaza and the WB.

4/

32

2:57 PM - Aug 25, 2019

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Israeli airstrikes in Syria killed two fighters of the Lebanese Hezbollah and one Iranian combatant, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted the airstrike was taken to thwart an attack by the Iranian Quds Force and Shiite militias against Israel.

“Iran has no immunity anywhere,” tweeted Netanyahu. He added that Israel will continue to take action against Iran and its proxies for the sake of security.

The recent military actions are notable in that the Israeli government is confirming the strikes publicly, as well as expanding geographically in its campaign against Iran. The attack on a weapons depot near Baghdad last month was the first known Israeli airstrike in Iraq since 1981.

“We are operating in many areas against a state that wants to annihilate us,” Netanyahu said in an interview with Russian-language Israeli television Channel 9 on Thursday. “Of course I gave the security forces a free hand and instructed them to do anything necessary to thwart Iran’s plans.”

Netanyahu did not directly name Iraq as one of those areas.

Syrian state media reported the story, saying that anti-aircraft defenses fired at “enemy targets” over Damascus. However, Iran is denying its positions in Syria were hit by the Israeli strikes.

The relationship between Israel and Syria have been deadlocked since Israel conquered the Golan Heights in 1967. Israel still occupies the land, despite international calls to return it to Syria.

The IDF tweeted that it holds Iran and the Syrian regime directly responsible for the thwarted attack and will continue to prevent any attempts to harm Israel.

Israeli Air Force

@IAFsite

• Aug 25, 2019

Replying to @IAFsite

The thwarted attack included plans to launch a number of armed drones intended to be used to strike Israeli sites

Israeli Air Force

@IAFsite

The IDF is prepared to continue defending the State of Israel against any attempts to harm it and holds Iran and the Syrian regime directly responsible for the thwarted attack

395

2:47 AM - Aug 25, 2019

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Additionally, Hezbollah reported two Israeli drones crashed over its Beirut stronghold on Sunday- one rigged with explosives, causing damage to the terrorist group’s media center. Hezbollah receives some $700 million USD a year from Iran, according to a US estimate cited by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The group supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, also backed by Tehran.

Netanyahu has consistently threatened military action against Iran and its proxies, exemplified in his speech to US Congress in 2015 warning against the Iran nuclear deal. He advocated for increasing sanctions on Iran and dismantling Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

Under Netanyahu’s leadership, Israeli intelligence infiltrated Iran’s nuclear archive in Tehran in early 2018. Agents from Israeli Mossad secret service secured the contents of 32 safes that held the details of “Project Amad,” Iran’s nuclear project.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/25/Former-IDF-spy-chief-I-would-not-want-to-be-Soleimani-following-Syria-operation.html

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ISIS mortar attack on football field kills six in Iraq

25 August 2019

Police in Iraq say ISIS militants have fired mortar rounds at a football field near a Shiite shrine, killing six civilians and wounding nine others.

The attack occurred late Saturday in the village of Daquq, in Iraq’s northern Kirkuk province, as people were exercising.

Police officials confirmed the attack, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

The area of the attack, southeast of the city of Kirkuk, is controlled by Iran-supported militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/25/ISIS-mortar-attack-on-football-field-kills-six-in-Iraq.html

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Hariri: Israeli drones in Beirut threaten Lebanon’s sovereignty

25 August 2019

Lebanon’s prime minister said two Israeli drones which fell in the Hezbollah-dominated southern suburbs of Beirut amounted to an open attack on the country’s sovereignty and an attempt to foment regional tensions.

In the first such incident in more than a decade, one drone fell and second exploded near the ground and caused some damage when it crashed before dawn close to Hezbollah’s media centre in the capital’s Dahiyeh suburbs, a Hezbollah official told Reuters.

“The new aggression...constitutes a threat to regional stability and an attempt to push the situation towards further tension,” Hariri said in a statement from his office.

The Israeli military declined to comment.

The incident took place hours after the Israeli military said its aircraft had struck Iranian forces and Shiite militias near Syria’s capital Damascus which it said had been planning to launch “killer drones” into Israel.

War monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said two members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group and one Iranian were killed in the Israeli strikes around Damascus.

In Tehran, a senior Revolutionary Guards commander denied on Sunday that Iranian targets had been hit in the Israeli air strikes in Syria, the semi-official ILNA news agency reported.

Israel deems Lebanon’s heavily armed Shiite Hezbollah movement, backed by Iran, as the biggest threat across its border. They fought a month-long war in 2006 in which nearly 1,200 people, mostly civilians, died in Lebanon and 158 people died in Israel, mostly soldiers.

Lebanon has complained to the United Nations about Israeli planes regularly violating its airspace in recent years.

Residents in Dahiyeh said they heard the sound of a blast. A witness said the army closed off the streets where a fire had started. A Hezbollah spokesman told Lebanon’s state news agency

NNA the second drone was rigged with explosives causing serious damage to the media centre.

Hezbollah is now examining the first drone, he said. The Lebanese army said that one Israeli drone fell and another exploded at 02:30 am local time (2330 GMT), causing only material damage.

“The army arrived immediately and cordoned off the area where the two drones fell,” it said.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is scheduled to give a televised speech later on Sunday.

Israel has grown alarmed by the rising influence of its regional foe Iran during the war in neighboring Syria, where Tehran and Hezbollah provide military help to Damascus.

Israel says its air force has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria against what it calls Iranian targets and arms transfers to Hezbollah.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the strikes in Syria on Saturday thwarted a planned Iranian attack in Israel.

Syrian state media said air defenses confronted the “aggression” and the army said most of the Israeli missiles were destroyed.

The United States and Iran are at odds over Tehran’s nuclear program and the Gulf, with both sides trading accusations over threats to the strategic waterway’s security.

A wide swar in Iraq

Iran also has wide sway in Iraq.

Iraq’s paramilitary groups on Wednesday blamed a series of recent blasts at their weapons depots and bases on the United States and Israel.

The statement from the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), the grouping of Iraq’s mostly Shiite Muslim paramilitary groups, many of which are backed by Iran, said the United States had allowed four Israeli drones to enter the region accompanying US forces and carry out missions on Iraqi territory.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/25/Lebanon-says-Israel-aggression-a-threat-to-regional-stability-.html

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Khalid bin Salman: Strong relations between Saudi, UAE cornerstone of stability

26 August 2019

Strong and brotherly relations between Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the cornerstone of regional stability, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister of Defense Prince Khalid bin Salman said on Monday.

“The strong brotherly relations between the Kingdom and the UAE, and their leaderships, may God protect them, and the close cooperation between the two countries in various fields, is the cornerstone for the security, stability and prosperity of the region, in the face of projects of extremism, chaos, sedition and division,” Prince Khalid bin Salman tweeted.

The deputy minister of defense's comments come in light of an announcement by the Arab Coalition that a joint committee has been formed between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to stabilize the ceasefire in the Yemeni provinces of Shabwa and Abyan.

The coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki said that the committee would start working as early as Monday.

“Today, we work together with our brothers in the UAE to achieve security and stability in Aden, Shabwa and Abyan, and we will continue to unify our fronts and join our words to face the terrorist threat, whether it be the Iranian-backed Houthis or al-Qaeda and ISIS,” Prince Khalid bin Salman said.

He added that they will continue to provide support to the Yemeni people so that security and stability prevail throughout Yemen.

Fighting between Yemeni government forces and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) had escalated over the past weeks after the STC took over the southern port city of Aden, the interim seat of Yemen's government, and last week extended their control to neighboring Abyan.

However, both sides declared a ceasefire after government forces took back control of three military camps from the Southern Transitional Council (STC) in the oil-producing province of Shabwa, and cut off all supply routes to the al-Alam camp where STC forces withdrew with their weapons on Saturday.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2019/08/26/Khalid-bin-Salman-Strong-relations-between-Saudi-UAE-cornerstone-of-stability.html

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Saudi Islamic minister meets Chechen president

August 25, 2019

GROZNY: Chechen President Ramzan Akhmadovich Kadyrov received the Saudi minister of Islamic affairs, call and guidance, Sheikh Dr. Abdullatif Al-Asheikh, at the presidential palace in Grozny.

The minister is heading the Kingdom’s delegation at the opening of the Fakhr Al-Muslimeen Mosque, the largest in Europe.

At the beginning of the reception, Kadyrov welcomed Al-Asheikh and his accompanying delegation and wished them a pleasant stay in Chechnya.

Al-Asheikh conveyed the greetings of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the Chechen people.

He praised the design and construction of the mosque, hoping that it will be a beacon of guidance to spread the moderate teachings of Islam.

Full report at:

The marble-decorated mosque has a capacity of more than 30,000 people.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1545236/saudi-arabia

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Afghan president praises OIC for promoting peace

August 25, 2019

JEDDAH: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani met the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, in Jeddah on Sunday. Ghani praised the role of Saudi Arabia and of King Salman in hosting the International Ulema Conference on Peace and Security in Afghanistan 2018, in Makkah in 2018.

He also noted the continuous support provided by the OIC for his country and its active role in promoting peace and security.

Ghani said his country sought to develop ties with the OIC to carry out cultural and social projects to combat extremism, hatred and terrorism.

Al-Othaimeen reiterated the organization’s commitment to promoting peace, security, stability and development in Afghanistan.

He also praised the role of the Afghan government in combatting extremism and fighting terrorism, and condemned the recent bombings in the capital Kabul. 

Meanwhile, the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the Afghan Ministry of Finance signed an agreement to establish and equip a 100-bed cardiac center in Kabul to provide high-quality cardiac health services in Afghanistan, in addition to establishing four integrated rural health care centers to improve access to primary health care services in four Afghan provinces.

The agreement was co-signed by the president of the IDB, Dr. Bandar Hajjar, and the Afghan minister of finance, Dr. Mohammad Qayoumi.

Each of the four rural health care centers will provide a wide range of services in an area of up to 60,000 people. The total cost of the project is $24.84 million based on the preliminary estimates provided by the late King Abdullah’s Fael Khair Program, run by the IDB.

After signing the agreement, Hajjar met with Ghani and discussed ways to develop relations between the two sides.

Ghani spoke of his country’s economic assets, which chiefly depend on agriculture, emphasizing that the IDB’s support for agricultural value chains in Afghanistan is important for developing agricultural production and moving it from the stage of exporting raw materials to exporting products.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1545226/saudi-arabia

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