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Islamic World News ( 21 Dec 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Eye-For-An-Eye Sharia Justice Returns to Afghan Courts; 75-Year-Old to Be Executed By a Relative of His Victim

New Age Islam News Bureau

21 December 2022


Head of the penal court Mohammad Mobin (2nd L) listens to a man (2nd R), who has been sentenced to death for murder, during a hearing in Ghazni.


• Islam Gymkhana to Launch English Course for Imams in Mumbai to Empower Them

• Islamic Police Raid 'Gay Wedding' In Nigeria's Kano City, Arrests 19 Muslims For Attending The Same-Sex Wedding

• Two-Day Hostage Crisis in Bannu Ends, Pakistan Army Kills All 33 Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan Terrorists

• Children among 547 Detained Syrians Declared Dead: Rights Group


South Asia

• Women’s Rights Defined by the World, Not Acceptable: Minister of vice and Virtue Says

• Rescue calls for stranded boat holding 200 Rohingya refugees

• High-profile OIC delegation visits Rohingya camps in Bangladesh



• Maharashtra Ready to Enact Law against 'Love Jihad': Devendra Fadnavis

• Bajrang Dal Members Beat Up Youth Alleging "Love Jihad" In Madhya Pradesh

• IIT Delhi Offers 500 Ph.D. Fellowships as Plans for Abu Dhabi Campus Get Underway

• India Discusses Opium Poppy Cultivation, Taliban-Al-Qaida Relations at UNSC

• Syed Ali Shah Geelani's house in Srinagar among 3 assets to be sealed



• Tunisia imprisons former Prime Minister Ali Laarayedh

• Sudan's Bashir admits role in 1989 coup during trial

• Iranian, EU nuclear negotiators meet in Jordan



• Militants Storm Wana Police Station in South Waziristan, Flee With Weapons

• Imran Khan's 'phone sex' audio clip leaked, PTI calls it fake

• Terrorism will be dealt with ‘iron hands’, vows PM Shehbaz

• Pakistan ‘disappointed’ by Taliban ban on university education for girls but still wants engagement

• Schools close as Pakistan Taliban siege on police station drags on

• 12 killed, dozens injured in fire in Pakistan's Balochistan

• Karachiites left at mercy of robbers — MQM-P, PTI and JI agree


Arab World

• Baghdad conference aims to ensure Iraq’s security, stability: Jordan

• US forces capture six Islamic State operatives in Syria raids

• Eight Iraqis killed as Islamic State group militants launch fresh attack in Diyala

• OIC meeting discusses Saudi efforts to fight corruption, promote integrity

• Kingdom stands with Iraq over stability, sovereignty: Saudi FM



• Quds Force Chief: Palestinians Will Soon Force Israelis Out Of Occupied Lands

• Israel’s crime against cancer-stricken Palestinian prisoner will not go unpunished: Hamas chief

• Hamas calls for mass uprising as Palestinian prisoner dies due to Israel medical negligence

• Iran urges Western powers to adopt ‘constructive’ approach to revive nuclear deal

• Iran releases dissident after three months in prison: Brother

• Turkey court acquits 103 retired admirals accused of ‘coup’

• Senior Palestinian al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades fighter dies of cancer in Israeli jail

• UN reports highest number of fatalities in years in Israeli-Palestinian conflict

• Iranian interference in Yemen started 1979: Yemeni leader


North America

• US Department of State Says Human Rights at Top of Agenda with Islamic Emirate

• New Jersey lawmakers considering resolution to establish January as Muslim Heritage Month

• Blinken calls Bilawal, offers continued help for flood victims

• Taliban release two detained Americans in ‘goodwill gesture’

• US says 'no progress happening' with Iran on resuming nuclear accord



• Macron Says Let Iraq Choose Path Not ‘Dictated’ By Foreign Powers

• UN Security Council Holds a Session on Afghanistan

• Türkiye voices support for peace, stability in Balkans

• US welcomes Greek-Turkish dialogue, encourages more talks

• Russia to give Iran advanced military components in exchange for drones, says UK


Southeast Asia

• Politics and Islam Bring Indonesian Compromise on Criminal Code

• Can Japan, moving closer to Israel, preserve its neutral reputation in the Middle East peace process?

• China’s UN envoy slams Israeli regime’s settler-colonialism, unabated crimes in Palestine

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Eye-For-An-Eye Sharia Justice Returns to Afghan Courts; 75-Year-Old to Be Executed By A Relative of His Victim


Head of the penal court Mohammad Mobin (2nd L) listens to a man (2nd R), who has been sentenced to death for murder, during a hearing in Ghazni.


Dec 21, 2022

GHAZNI: Kneeling in front of a turbanned judge in a tiny room at the Ghazni Court of Appeal in eastern Afghanistan, an old man sentenced to death for murder pleads for his life.

The 75-year-old admits to having shot dead a relative -- out of revenge, he says, because of rumours he had sexual relations with his daughter-in-law.

Under eye-for-eye sharia punishments, officially ordered by the Taliban's supreme leader for the first time last month, he faces public execution -- with the sentence to be carried out by a relative of his victim.

"We have made peace between the families," the old man pleads.

"I have witnesses who can prove that we have agreed on compensation."

AFP had rare access to a court in Ghazni to see how sharia justice is being administered since the Taliban returned to power in August last year.

Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent building a new judicial system after the Taliban were overthrown in 2001 -- a combination of Islamic and secular law, with qualified prosecutors, defence lawyers and judges.

Many women were recruited into the system, overseeing cases involving hardcore Taliban militants as well as bringing more gender balance to family courts.

All that has been scrapped by the Taliban, with trials, sentences and punishments now overseen by all-male clerics.

Islamic law, or sharia, acts as a code of living for Muslims worldwide, offering guidance on issues such as modesty, finance and crime. However, interpretations vary according to local custom, culture and religious school of thought.

Taliban scholars in Afghanistan have employed one of the most extreme interpretations of the code, including capital and corporal punishments little used by most modern Muslim states.

The difference between the system of the former government and today "is as big as the earth and the sky", says Mohiuddin Umari, head of the Ghazni court, between sips of tea.

Officials in Ghazni have shunned the use of its formal Western-style courtroom, and proceedings instead take place in a small side room, with participants sitting on a carpeted floor.

The cramped room, heated by an old wood stove, has a bunk bed in a corner, on which religious books and a Kalashnikov rifle are placed.

The young judge, Mohammad Mobin, listens impassively before asking a few questions.

He then orders another hearing in a few days -- giving the old man time to gather witnesses who can testify that the families have agreed to what he says.

"If he proves his claim, then the judgement can be revised," Mobin says.

If not, "it is certain that the qisas (an eye-for-an-eye) enshrined in the sharia will apply".

Mobin, surrounded by thin, hand-written files held together by string, has been at the appeals court since the Taliban's return in August 2021.

He says around a dozen death sentences have been handed down in Ghazni province since then, but none has been carried out -- partly because of the appeals process.

"It is very difficult to make such a decision and we are very careful," the 34-year-old tells AFP.

"But if we have certain evidence, then God guides us and tells us not to have sympathy for these people."

If the old man's appeal fails, the case goes to the Supreme Court in Kabul, and finally to supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, who validates all capital sentences.

That was the case earlier this month in the western city of Farah when the Taliban carried out their first public execution since returning to power -- an act widely condemned by rights groups and foreign governments and organisations.

Ghazni court head Umari insists the sharia system is much better than the one it replaced, even while conceding that officials need more experience.

Afghanistan was ranked 177th out of 180 of the most corrupt states in 2021 by the NGO Transparency International and its courts were notorious for graft, with cases held up for years.

"The Islamic Emirate is showing transparency," says Umari, using the Taliban's designation for Afghanistan.

Many Afghans say they prefer their chances in sharia courts with civil cases, arguing they are less prone to the corruption that bedevilled the system under the previous Western-backed government.

However, jurists argue that criminal cases are more prone to a miscarriage under the new system.

"Some cases, if decided quickly, are better," says a now-unemployed prosecutor, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution.

"But in most cases, speed leads to hasty decisions."

Umari insists all verdicts are thoroughly reviewed, adding "if a judge has made a mistake we investigate".

But the old man in Ghazni who was sentenced to death says he had no lawyer, and his appeal lasted less than 15 minutes.

"The court should not have sentenced me to death," he says.

"I have been in prison for more than eight months. They (the family) have agreed to spare me," he adds, clasping a string of prayer beads in his handcuffed hands.

Source: Times Of India

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Islam Gymkhana to Launch English Course for Imams in Mumbai to Empower Them


English can help clerics communicate with youngsters better, it's felt


Dec 21, 2022

MUMBAI: Islam Gymkhana at Marine Lines is all set to launch an English learning course for imams in the city. Imams lead prayers and deliver Friday sermons at mosques and command immense respect in the community. Mostly madrassa-educated, these clerics usually lack proficiency in English, which the Gymkhana wants to remove with a specially-designed course.

"As part of social work, we already have schemes to help cancer patients and provide scholarships to deserving students. We have decided to start an English course which will empower imams to converse and address youngsters in the language they are comfortable with," Gymkhana president Yusuf Abrahni said.

He said a meeting with senior clerics, preachers and imams would be called soon to discuss the project.

Senior clerics and preachers have appreciated the initiative. "It is the need of the hour. Today, English is an internationally understood language and the medium of communication in many places. If our imams know how to write and speak English, it will be a big service to the community and society. I endorse such a programme and will do whatever I can for it," senior spiritual leader Maulana Moin Ashraf (Moin Mian) said. A number of imams are associated with Moin Mian as he also heads a couple of religious organisations. He expressed the hope that he would be able to convince many of them to enrol for the course.

The initiative is being viewed as significant. Mufti Ashfaque Kazi, chief mufti (one who issues fatwas) at the historic Juma Masjid near Crawford Market, also hailed the proposal. "It is important that our imams know English. It will benefit them and the community. Besides being able to communicate with the younger generation in a better way, they can also enhance their own employability," he said.

Source: Times Of India

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Islamic Police Raid 'Gay Wedding' In Nigeria's Kano City, Arrests 19 Muslims For Attending The Same-Sex Wedding


Kano Hisbah Board


By Mansur Abubakar

20 December 2022

The Islamic police force in northern Nigeria's main city has arrested 19 Muslims, accusing them of attending the wedding of a same-sex couple.

The force raided the marriage ceremony in Kano after a tip-off, its spokesman Lawal Ibrahim Fagge said.

The couple, who had not yet taken their vows, managed to flee and police were searching for them, he added.

Kano has a majority Muslim population, where an Islamic legal system operates alongside secular law.

Homosexual acts are illegal under both legal systems in the whole of Nigeria, where those living in the north are mainly Muslim and people in the south are largely Christian.

Kano's Islamic police force is popularly known as the Hisbah and enforces a strict moral code.

Mr Fagge told the BBC that the police force did not intend to punish the 15 male and four female wedding guests arrested during the raid on Sunday.

Instead, the group - which he said included gay people and cross-dressers - was undergoing "counselling", and their parents or guardians had been urged to come forward.

"We'll explore the avenue of change before we charge them in court. First we counsel them, and involve the parents and we hope they change their lifestyle," the Hisbah spokesman said.

Kano's Islamic courts have never convicted anyone for being gay.

Mr Fagge said that 18 people who attended a similar wedding ceremony last year had been released after signing a document that gave an "undertaking that they would change their lifestyle".

Rights groups in Nigeria have long campaigned for gay rights to be respected, but there is strong opposition to it in a country where many Muslims and Christians uphold conservative religious values.

Source: BBC

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Two-Day Hostage Crisis in Bannu Ends, Pakistan Army Kills All 33 Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan Terrorists


Security officials stand guard on a blocked road leading to a counter-terrorism center where several Pakistani Taliban detainees took hostages in Bannu (Photo: AP)


Dec 21, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The two-day hostage crisis in Bannu in northwestern Pakistan ended on Tuesday with the army killing all 33 Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorists who had taken over a counter-terrorism detention centre in the garrison city. Two commandos of the Special Services Group (SSG) lost their lives in the operation, which was conducted by the Pakistani army after talks between the government and the proscribed TTP failed.

The terrorists, who were lodged at the centre, took police and army officials hostage on Sunday night after one of the inmates hit a cop's head with a brick during interrogation, snatched his gun and freed other terrorists.

Pakistan's defence minister Khawaja Asif announced in the National Assembly that 15 SSG commandos were injured in the operation. "This operation was initiated on December 20 at 12.30pm by the SSG and all terrorists were killed," Asif said, adding that the entire counter-terrorism detention centre was cleared by 2.30 pm. The minister said the terrorists had killed two hostages on Monday. "These terrorists had links with multiple groups. The provincial government has completely failed in its responsibility to provide security to the facility," the minister said, describing the hostage crisis as a 'total collapse' of the Imran Khan-led PTI's government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The minister said all the hostages were rescued, but did not provide a number. Security officials said the three detained terrorists who had escaped were recaptured. Visuals aired on TV stations showed plumes of smoke billowing from the building. The terrorists, who said they had held eight security officials hostage, were demanding safe passage to Afghanistan. They said they wanted to take the hostages with them and promised that they would release them once they were secure and in a safe area.

TTP has stepped up attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan in the southwest since it announced the end of truce with Pakistan last month.

Amid the spike in terror strikes, the US has offered to help Pakistan in dealing with the threats posed by the terror groups. State department spokesperson Ned Price said at a presser that Islamabad is a partner "when it comes to these shared challenges, including the challenge of terrorist groups - terrorist groups inside of Afghanistan, and terrorist groups along the Afghan-Pakistan border".

Source: Times Of India

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Children among 547 Detained Syrians Declared Dead: Rights Group


People hold portraits and a placard during a protest as around 300 landline telephones placed by Syrian families stand at the Bebelplatz as a call to governments to do more to seek information about detained people in Syria, in Berlin, Germany August 28, 2021. (Reuters photo)


20 December, 2022

Ever since Yehya Hijazi and his two sons were detained in 2012 by the Syrian government, their relatives had clung onto the hope they were still alive and might be released one day.

But after a decade of silence from the authorities, their hopes were shattered when the independent Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) monitoring group contacted the Hijazi family to tell them it had obtained death certificates for all three.

“You’re hoping every second that you’ll catch another glimpse of this person whom you love very much, that you’ll hear any news of him,” Yehya’s brother Mohammad told Reuters by phone from northwestern Syria. “Then you hear he’s dead.”

The SNHR said the documents confirming the death of Yehya and his sons were among 547 detainee death certificates issued by the authorities since 2017 that it had obtained from whistleblowers within government departments.

The rights group said the documents provided answers to the fates of hundreds of missing people. Activists hope they will eventually be used in international proceedings against the government, which has been accused by a UN commission of inquiry of crimes against humanity for its detention policies.

The government did not respond to emailed questions about the death certificates obtained by SNHR. Syrian officials have in the past denied accusations of systemic torture and mass executions in jail.

Reuters reviewed 80 of the death certificates, including the three for the Hijazi family, as well as those for a three-year-old girl and her six-year-old sister.

A Syrian human rights lawyer, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter, reviewed a sample of the documents. He said the layout, language used and the elements of information included matched other Syrian death certificates.

Reuters was unable to independently confirm that the documents were authentic.

Mohammad Hijazi said the family had not requested death certificates from the authorities as they lived in areas controlled by the opposition. He added that acquaintances in government-held zones also refused to ask civil registries about deaths, fearing they might be seen as opposed to Damascus.

No cause of death

The war in Syria spiraled out of a 2011 uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's rule and has killed over 350,000 people, uprooted more than half the population and forced millions abroad as refugees.

Tens of thousands are estimated to have been held in Syrian government detention centers, according to the UN commission. Detainees are often held incommunicado, leaving their families wondering about their whereabouts, or if they are even alive, the commission and families of detainees have said.

International rights groups do not operate openly in Syria and do not have access to detention centers. In August, the U.N. secretary general’s office recommended establishing a mechanism to determine the fate of missing Syrians, but it has yet to be set up.

The 547 certificates included those for 15 children and 19 women, the SNHR said.

Some of the 80 certificates reviewed by Reuters listed the place of death as military hospitals or military tribunals. Others were vague about the place of death, with “Damascus” or a village on its outskirts. Some were left blank.

The certificates reviewed by Reuters also had significant gaps between the date of the death and when it was recorded in the registry, with most showing a lag of several years and one showing a delay of 10 years.

None of the certificates reviewed by Reuters listed a cause of death. The SNHR said that was the case for all 547.

The rights group said it had matched the names that appeared on the death certificates against wider lists of people detained by the Syrian authorities.

The group was able to reach the families of 23 of the deceased. It said many had suspected their loved ones were dead, but only had confirmation when they saw the death certificates.

Torture and ill treatment in Syrian government prisons remains “systemic,” according to a 2022 report by the UN commission of inquiry on Syria, which noted abuses in detention centers run by non-government factions too.

It said the government was deliberately withholding information from the families of loved ones and has described its detention policies as amounting to crimes against humanity.

Wait continues

In 2018, Syrian authorities began updating civil registries in bulk with the death certificates of people who had died in detention but did not directly inform their relatives, the UN commission said.

The government did not respond to questions about why it had not informed relatives of the deceased.

Relatives in government-held areas could find out if their loved-ones had died by requesting their family records from the civil registries. They were not granted access to bodies to bury them, or told where the remains were, according to the commission and the SNHR.

Others have learned of deaths by recognizing their relatives in leaked pictures taken by military photographers working in prisons, the most prominent of whom was code-named Caesar.

In a 2015 interview, Assad dismissed the Caesar photographs as allegations without evidence. Former war crimes prosecutors described the images as clear proof of systematic torture and mass killings.

SNHR director Fadel Abdul Ghany said he hoped the large batch of death certificates would provide some relief to those still waiting to know the fate of their relatives.

But for Mohammad Hijazi, the wait continues.

While he now knows the fate of his brother Yehya, he said 40 more relatives had been arrested by the government in central Syria and the family had no news of them yet.

“I haven’t been able to tell our mother Yehya is dead. I just keep telling her he’s still in jail,” he said.

Source: Al Arabiya

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South Asia


Women’s Rights Defined by the World, Not Acceptable: Minister of vice and Virtue Says

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

December 20, 2022

Mohammad Khalid Hanafi, the acting minister of vice and virtue said on Tuesday that the interim regime of Afghanistan is fully committed to respecting women’s rights “defined by Islam”, not that of the world.

In a gathering in Parwan province on Monday, Mr. Hanafi reiterated that abiding by Islamic law has been one of the key objectives of their movement. They have struggled for decades to succeed in implementing the Sharia laws, not their personal theories in the country. 

“Not all religious scholars have tried to occupy government positions – they work to implement the Sharia laws and guide the society to the right path,” he said.

This comes as girls’ schools above grade six have been closed since the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021, and women have been banned from participating in public places such as parks, recreational places and more.

“In no other country have women and girls so rapidly disappeared from all spheres of public life,” UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan Richard Bennett said. “Despite this, women and girls remain at the forefront of efforts to maintain human rights and continue to call for accountability.”

Source: Khaama Press

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Rescue calls for stranded boat holding 200 Rohingya refugees

Dec 20, 2022

JAKARTA: Southeast Asian politicians called Tuesday for the rescue of a boat carrying as many as 200 Rohingya refugees including women and children stranded at sea for several weeks.

Thousands of the mostly Muslim Rohingya, heavily persecuted in Myanmar, risk their lives each year in long, expensive sea journeys -- often in vessels in poor condition -- trying to reach Malaysia or Indonesia.

The boat carrying the refugees has been reported in waters close to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and India in the Andaman Sea and the Malacca Strait, one of the world's busiest shipping routes.

"We urgently call on ASEAN member states and other countries in the region to... launch search and rescue operations," said ex-Indonesian MP Eva Sundari, who is a member of advocacy group ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), in a statement.

"It is disgraceful that a boat filled with men, women, and children in grave danger has been allowed to remain adrift."

Charles Santiago, a former Malaysian MP and chairman of APHR, said in the same statement that the delay in rescuing the stranded refugees likely "has already caused untold suffering and loss of life".

The vessel's current location is unknown and it is unclear when or exactly from where it departed.

But at least one relative of a passenger hoping to reach Malaysia told AFP he was taken to the boat in deep waters by a small fishing trawler from Bangladesh.

Sprawling refugee camps in Bangladesh are home to some one million Rohingya, many of whom fled neighbouring Myanmar after a 2017 military crackdown bringing accounts of rape, arson and killings.

But the dire conditions of Bangladesh's overcrowded camps have forced many to flee again.

Rohingya activists and relatives of some of those aboard the vessel told AFP it had been adrift at sea for at least two weeks.

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said last week that the boat has been in waters since late November, and it had received reports of at least a dozen people dying on board.

Those remaining had no access to food or water, it said.

Noor Habi, a resident of a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar, said her 23-year-old daughter Munuwara Begum was on the stranded boat and had spoken to her sister by walkie talkie.

"We are in danger. Please save us," her daughter Begum said, according to an audio clip of the call.

"There is no food and water with us and there is no one to save us from this drowning boat."

The Indonesian navy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Source: Times Of India

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High-profile OIC delegation visits Rohingya camps in Bangladesh

Md. Kamruzzaman 


DHAKA, Bangladesh

A high-profile delegation from the Parliamentary Union of the OIC Member States (PUIC) visited Rohingya camps in the southeastern coastal district of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh on Tuesday to learn more about the situation of the Muslim minority that was forced to flee their native Myanmar due to military persecution.

An 11-member team from the Committee on Muslim Communities and Minorities, a subsidiary of the PUIC Standing Specialized Committee on Political Affairs and Foreign Relations, led by Turkish lawmaker Orhan Atalay, who is also the chair of the PUIC Delegation of Turkiye and the committee's rapporteur, visited the camp and spoke with refugees as well as representatives from international relief organizations to obtain a better understanding of the situation.

For the first time, a representative team from the Committee on Muslim Communities and Minorities arrived in Dhaka on Sunday on a four-day visit to assess the Rohingya situation in Cox's Bazar, the world's largest refugee camp.

Besides Atalay, the team also includes Mouhamed Khouraichi, Ali Asghar, Zahid Hassan Qureshi, Rezak Tavli, Mustafa Fatih Baydar, Nazmul Islam, and Ugandan lawmakers Bashir Lubega Ssempa and Sitnah Chemisto Cherotich, Iranian parliamentarians Abolfazi Amouei and Amir Abbas Ghassempour.

Bangladesh is currently hosting more than 1.2 million Rohingya, mostly fleeing a brutal military crackdown in their home country of Myanmar's Rakhine State on Aug. 25, 2017.

The delegation met with several Rohingya community members, including women, to hear about their concerns, and they asked for better livelihood opportunities and education for their children, particularly in a third country.

After touring small dwellings in narrow alleys and streets, Atalay told Anadolu Agency that these large numbers of Rohingya want to return to their native country with guarantees of rights, dignity, and safety.

He added that the Muslim community, as well as international leaders, should now engage in more effective talks with Myanmar authorities to ensure their dignified and safe return.

These refugees have been experiencing a number of issues, he said, urging the international community to do more to support the Rohingya in these crammed camps.

He noted that Türkiye is working everywhere it can to help impoverished and needy people, referring to the tremendous health care provided by the Turkish Field Hospital in the Rohingya camp.

According to an official at the facility, the hospital, which is the largest in the refugee camps, serves approximately 1,000 people every day, with 400 of them being Rohingya and 600 being locals.

The delegation saw a food distribution center and various UNHCR facilities, where its operations head, Yoko Akasaka, detailed their humanitarian efforts in the camps.

Speaking to a leading Turkish news service provider, Akasaka raised alarm over the yearly increase in the number of Rohingya in these already overcrowded camps. "Around 50,000 babies are born each year," she noted, expressing concern about the growing refugee population, which necessitates greater assistance in addition to their dignified repatriation to Myanmar.

First day of visit

Earlier on Sunday, the delegation met with Johannes van der Klaauw, UNHCR Representative in Dhaka, at the Turkish embassy to discuss international humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya.

Klaauw expressed gratitude to Turkish authorities for their outstanding support to the Rohingya people, particularly in the health sector through the Turkish Field Hospital.

The UNHCR official also stated that they are primarily focused on humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya, while the political solution is in the hands of the relevant authorities.

She also said the majority of the Rohingya, with the exception of those who fled to Bangladesh following cycles of persecution in the 1980s, want to return to Myanmar with rights and dignity.

Later, the team met with the country's National Parliament Speaker Shirin Sharmin Choudhury, and discussed the Rohingya crisis.

Choudhury cited dignified return as the long-term solution to the Rohingya issue, saying: "Bangladesh is a small, overcrowded country. Because a large number of Rohingya is a major burden, international communities should engage more actively to ensure the peaceful repatriation of Rohingya."

She also urged the delegation to prepare the Rohingya human rights report in such a way that it encourages the international community to find a sustainable solution to the issue, underlining the importance of justice for the crimes committed against Rohingya.

On behalf of the visiting delegation, Atalay stated that Muslim states must act together to protect the persecuted Rohingya people, who have experienced injustice and inhuman treatment in their own country.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Maharashtra ready to enact law against 'love jihad': Devendra Fadnavis

Dec 21, 2022

MUMBAI: Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday said in the House that Maharashtra is seeking the Centre's permission to implement the Shakti bill that amends laws for offences committed against women and children with more stringent penal actions.

Reiterating that Maharashtra is studying the 'love jihad' laws of other states, he said: "In fact, the term love jihad has been coined by the Communist-ruled Kerala and it is a fact that such cases are happening all across the country. Other states have made stringent laws to curb such cases and hence Maharashtra is also ready to enact the law on similar lines to ensure long-term protection to women."

Later, speaking to the media, NCP leader Jitendra Awhad, pointed out that only two states - Uttar Prad-esh and Madhya Pradesh - had initiated laws against aleged 'love jihad' cases and there was a lot to be done for such regulations to pass the scrutiny in the court of law.

While replying to BJP leader Ashish Shelar's statement that certain matters written by Shraddha Walkar, who was allegedly murdered by her live-in partner Aaftab Poonawala, on her 'settlement' letter were erased and rewritten, Fadnavis admitted that there was some 'gap' in the investigation that needs to be probed. On Opposition leader Ajit Pawar's demand, Fadnavis agreed to submit the SIT report to the state assembly in the coming budget session. He also pointed out that on Union home minister Amit Shah's intervention, the Delhi police were already expediting the case with the help of a fast-track court.

Source: Times Of India

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Bajrang Dal Members Beat Up Youth Alleging "Love Jihad" In Madhya Pradesh

December 21, 2022

Indore: Rightwing activists allegedly beat up a youth, claiming love jihad, in the Indore district of Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday.

The activists allegedly caught the youth with a girl at Treasure Island Mall in the city.

According to sources, they asked the name of the youth to which he told them that his name was Monu Verma.

When they asked him to produce an ID card, he allegedly said that his real name was Moin Khan.

It was alleged that the activists then beat up the yoith, accusing him of love jihad, and later handed him over to the Tukoganj police.

A purported video of the youth being beaten up also surfaced on the social media.

Tukoganj police station in-charge Kamlesh Sharma said, "A girl approached the police station along with some Bajrang Dal activists. She had gone to watch a movie at TI mall in the city with a youth belonging to another community. Initially, the youth told the activists that his name was Monu but later when they interrogated him, he gave his real name as Moin, a resident of Manikbagh in the city."

Source: ND TV

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IIT Delhi offers 500 Ph.D. fellowships as plans for Abu Dhabi campus get underway

20 December ,2022

Supplementing the ongoing efforts to set up a campus of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Abu Dhabi, IIT Delhi has announced that it is offering 500 fully-funded Ph.D. fellowships for international students, including eligible students from the Gulf, according to Emirates News Agency (WAM)

This will mean students who graduate from the planned IIT campus in Abu Dhabi will have opportunities to pursue higher studies in India in the same streams and structures as they academically pursue in the UAE.

“The institute is coming up with a new curriculum in 2023,” IIT Delhi announced. The new curriculum will take into account thedemands of its proposed overseas campuses.

In addition to the UAE, offshore campuses of IIT are being planned in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Tanzania and Malaysia.

IIT Delhi has announced that its former Dean for Academics will be the coordinator for launching the Abu Dhabi campus.

As reported last month, IIT Delhi has identified the Department of Education and Knowledge Abu Dhabi (ADEK) as its partner for setting up its campus in the UAE’s capital city.

This followed the visit of a high-level team from the Indian institute to Abu Dhabi and extensive discussions with ADEK officials and other stakeholders in the project, Subhas Sarkar, the Minister of State for Education, informed the Lok Sabha, the lower House of India’s Parliament.

Source: Al Arabiya

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India discusses opium poppy cultivation, Taliban-Al-Qaida relations at UNSC

December 21, 2022

India on Tuesday (local time) raised concerns over Opium poppy cultivation, Taliban-Al-Qaida relations and erosion of human rights at a United Nations Security Council briefing on Afghanistan.

Indian Ambassador to UN, Ruchira Kamboj, the chair of UNSC's 1988 sanctions committee, also known as the Taliban Sanctions committee, said, " In its latest report to the 1988 Committee of May 2022, the Monitoring Team noted that 41 United Nations-sanctioned individuals occupied cabinet and senior positions in the Taliban administration. This number is now believed to be over 60."

The Monitoring Team report also reiterated the relations between the Taliban and Al- Qaida. She said the relations remained close and are underscored by the presence, both in Afghanistan and the region, of Al-Qaida core leadership and affiliated groups such as the Al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS).

On August 1, the United States had announced that the leader of Al-Qaida was killed in a Kabul compound at the end of July. However, the same has not yet been confirmed by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Kamboj also raised concern over further erosion of human rights, including the rights of women and girls, as well as the lack of progress on inclusive governance in the country.

The administration in Kabul remains overwhelmingly Taliban, she said, adding, "Since taking power, concerns have been expressed that the group has reversed policies and gone back on commitments made prior to assuming power."

On the production of narcotics in Afghanistan, Kamboj said, "Despite a decree issued by Taliban in April, banning the cultivation, use and trafficking of narcotics, including the fanning of opium poppy, UN reported a 32 per cent increase during 2021 in opium cultivation with 2022 opium prices have soared due to cultivation ban announcement."

Poppy cultivation, accompanied by an ongoing boom in methamphetamine production and trafficking, remains Afghanistan's largest illicit economic activity, she highlighted.

The Monitoring Team has also reported that the ISIL-Khorasan (ISIL-K) (Da'esh) remains a primary threat in Afghanistan and in the region, as demonstrated by its regular attacks against Afghanistan's neighbouring States as well as against minority ethnic and religious communities in the country.

"Another worrying fact is the attacks of ISIL-K (Da'esh) against diplomatic embassies and their personnel. Moreover, ISIL-K (Da'esh) maintains the potential to attract disillusioned Taliban and foreign fighters into its ranks, thereby enhancing its capability to carry out attacks and its ability to regain territorial hold in the country, as well as the potential to establish a so-called Islamic caliphate in the region in the future," said the Indian envoy.

Speaking about the challenges posed to the Taliban regime by the presence of the National Resistance Front and other anti-Taliban groups, she said, "As you are aware, the 1988 Committee's desired goal through the use of its sanctions measures is to support a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan by deterring support to terrorist entities, and to support peace and stability discussions."

She said that there is potential for further outbreaks of fighting in the absence of a real or sustained dialogue.

On the travel ban, she said, "A travel ban exemption granted in April 2019 to a group of listed Taliban with a view to enable them to engage in peace and stability discussions in a range of countries expired in August 2022 and was not extended since the Committee was unable to reach a consensus on the same. However, the Committee stood ready to consider exemptions on the travel ban on a case-by-case basis based on relevant resolutions and Committee guidelines with the overall objective of aiding peace and stability in Afghanistan."

The Indian envoy also highlighted that the humanitarian needs in Afghanistan remain dire.

"You will recall that following the uncertainty that came in the wake of the August 2021 Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the Security Council acted to clarify that humanitarian assistance and other activities that support basic human needs in Afghanistan are not a violation of paragraph 1 (a) of resolution 2255 (2015), and that the processing of payments of funds, other financial assets, economic resources, and provision of goods and services needed to support humanitarian aid delivery are permitted. This opened the door for much-needed finance and aid delivery in order to mitigate the impact of the crisis. The sanctions committee heard a briefing from the OCHA on 4 April 2022 on the humanitarian activities in Afghanistan," she said.

Source: Business Standard

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Syed Ali Shah Geelani's house in Srinagar among 3 assets to be sealed

Dec 21, 2022

SRINAGAR: The Srinagar district magistrate on Tuesday ordered the sealing of three properties of the banned Jamaat-e Islami (JeI), including atwo-storied house owned by the late Syed Ali Shah Geelani in the city’s Barzulla, reports Saleem Pandit.

The other properties to be sealed are two plots in Srinagar’s Khushipora Shalateng, measuring 1 kanal and 7 marla and 1 kanal and 3 marla. Geelani’s house is built on a piece of land measuring 17 marla and 199 sqft.

Source: Times Of India

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Tunisia imprisons former Prime Minister Ali Laarayedh

December 19, 2022

TUNIS: Tunisia’s anti-terrorism judge decided to imprison Ali Laarayedh, a former prime minister and senior official in the Islamist opposition Ennahda party, after hours of investigation into suspicions of sending jihadists to Syria, lawyers said on Monday.

“The investigative judge issued a prison decision against former Prime Minister Ali Laarayedh in what is known as the deportation jihadists file,” lawyer Ines Harrath said.

“This is true,” Mokthat Jmayi, another Laarayedh lawyer, told Reuters, without giving further details

Ennahda denied in a statement accusations of terrorism, calling it a political attack on a foe of President Kais Saied to hide “the catastrophic failure of the elections.”

Only 11.2 percent of Tunisian voters cast ballots in Saturday’s parliamentary elections, Farouk Bouasker, the head of the electoral commission said, after most political parties boycotted the vote as a charade to shore up President Kais Saied’s power.

After the turnout figures were announced, major parties, among them the Salvation Front, which includes Ennahda and its arch-rival, the Free Constitutional Party, said Saied had no legitimacy and should step down, calling for massive protests.

Ennahda, the main opposition party, has accused Saied of an anti-democratic coup since he seized most powers last year, shutting down the parliament and moving to rule by decree, powers he has largely formalized with a new constitution ratified in a July referendum.

Source: Arab News

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Sudan's Bashir admits role in 1989 coup during trial

20 December ,2022

Former Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir said on Tuesday that he took full responsibility for the events in 1989 that brought him to power, speaking at a trial in which he stands charged with leading a military coup.

Bashir has been jailed since army officers deposed him during an uprising in April 2019, ending his three-decade rule. His legal team has dismissed the trial over the June 30, 1989 coup as purely political.

“I assume all responsibility for what took place on June 30,” Bashir, dressed in white robes and appearing in good health, told a court in Khartoum. “I've been following the prosecution's attempts to confirm this charge by presenting videos and witnesses, and I listen and enjoy it,” he said before pausing to smile.

Bashir also said that civilians who took official positions after he and other officers toppled the government in 1989 were brought in to help Sudan through a difficult period, but had not planned or carried out the coup. “Our concern was not power but rather we needed capabilities and we opened dialogue with all the political forces,” he said, according to comments reported by state news agency SUNA.

The trial began in 2020 and is expected to continue at least for several more months. Some defendants who were senior officials under Bashir have denied responsibility.

If convicted, Bashir could face a death sentence.

Bashir was convicted in another trial in December 2019 on illicit finance charges, and sentenced to two years in prison. He also faces prosecution over the killing of protesters.

He is wanted separately by the International Criminal Court over alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Sudan's Darfur region.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iranian, EU nuclear negotiators meet in Jordan

20 December ,2022

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met Tuesday with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on the sidelines of a summit in Jordan, an Iranian diplomatic source said.

The meeting, which was confirmed by Iran’s official news agency IRNA, comes at a time when negotiations in Vienna aimed at reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are stalled.

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The 27-nation bloc’s nuclear negotiator Enrique Mora was at the meeting, the Iranian diplomatic source told AFP. IRNA said his Iranian counterpart Ali Bagheri was also present.

Borrell tweeted that the meeting was “necessary... amidst deteriorating Iran-EU relations” and that they agreed to keep communications open and to restore the accord on the basis of the Vienna negotiations.

The landmark 2015 deal was designed to prevent Iran from secretly developing a nuclear bomb, a goal the Islamic Republic has always denied.

It has been hanging by a thread, however, since the unilateral withdrawal of the United States in 2018 under then-president Donald Trump.

Ahead of the Jordan summit on Tuesday, Amir-Abdollahian had said the gathering would be a “good opportunity” to revive negotiations on the issue.

The meeting between him and Borrell also comes after the EU last week imposed a new wave of sanctions on Iran over what it called the “repression” of protests and its military support for Russia’s war in Ukraine.

In his tweet, Borrell said he had stressed the “need to immediately stop military support to Russia and internal repression in Iran.”

Demonstrations have swept Iran since the September 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman who had been arrested in Tehran for an alleged breach of the country’s strict dress code for women.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Militants storm Wana police station in South Waziristan, flee with weapons

Dilawar Wazir

December 21, 2022

SOUTH WAZIRISTAN: Dozens of armed militants stormed a police station in Wana in the early hours of Tuesday and escaped after looting arms and ammunition, police have confirmed.

Around 1am, militants armed with rocket launchers and heavy weapons forced their way into the police station, according to a cop, Rehman Wazir, who was inside at the time of the attack.

He told Dawn that around 50 militants entered the station after blowing up the front gate.

Heavily outnumbered in front of militants, around 20 policemen, including the station house officer, resisted for some time but were later taken hostage, another police official said.

Videos shared on social media showed a heavy bombardment of rockets and grenades at the station in the dark of night.

The attackers fled with weapons in a police van after the attack. Local police said the militants only took away eight AK-47 rifles from the station.

Around 50 assailants attacked the building with rocket launchers; two beheaded bodies found in Tank

One police constable was injured, while an alleged militant was killed in the attack, sources said.

The police constable, identified as Ilyas, was shifted to Wana hospital for treatment.

According to sources, the alleged militant was gunned down in an exchange of fire with Frontier Corps (FC) personnel. His body was later recovered from the Baghicha area.

The police station was briefly taken over by FC after the attack, but was later handed back to the cops by Tuesday afternoon.

Police said more force was deployed to Wana from nearby areas and currently there were 100 cops inside the station.

The attack created panic in the area and locals expressed their dismay over it. Shakir Khan, a local elder, said ‘good and bad Taliban’ were the government’s creation and locals want nothing to do with them. “The public neither wants neither good nor bad Taliban. It wants the rule of law in their area,” he said.

The police stations in North Waziristan and South Waziristan — two districts bordering Afghanistan — have been consistently targeted by militants over the past few months.

After a spate of attacks, police personnel vacated Raghzai and Khan Kot police stations close to the Pak-Afghan border. The withdrawal provided the militants with an open space to roam around the area and easily access areas such as Wana, according to sources.

Two beheaded bodies found

Two beheaded bodies were found in a watercourse in the Tank district on Tuesday, according to a police official.

The bodies were dumped in the Tangi Dabak village in the remit of Jandola police station, an official told Dawn.

According to officials from Jandola police station, the victims were identified as Shah Noor Bhettanni and his cousin Raheem Gul Bhettanni, residents of Kanazai village.

Police said a paper was also found by the bodies which read: “It is a message from Taliban to everyone that spying would result in such a death.” A case was registered and investigation started.

Along with the number of terrorist attacks, KP has also witnessed a surge in beheading incidents, allegedly by militants.

Source: Dawn

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Imran Khan's 'phone sex' audio clip leaked, PTI calls it fake

Dec 21, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan has landed in a fresh controversy after a 'sex talk' recording of him with a woman was leaked online.

The two-part audio clip was shared by Pakistani journalist Syed Ali Haider on his YouTube channel. In the audio clip, a man, purported to be the former Pakistan PM, can be heard talking to a woman in lewd language.

The leaked audio clip is of an alleged private conversation that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan with the woman.

One of the two audio clips that have gone viral on social media is believed to be old. In the second clip, which is said to be recent, Imran is purportedly asking a woman to come near him. While the woman refuses, Imran purportedly insists that she does as told.

After which the woman purportedly says, "Imran what have you done to me? I can't come."

However, later in the clip, the woman talks about visiting him the next day, to which Imran says that he "will have to change his programme for the next day."

Shockingly, the woman in the purported audio clip is heard saying that she cannot meet him as her "private parts are in pain".

The woman in the clip then tells Imran that she would try and meet him the next day only if her health permits.

To this, the former Pakistan PM purportedly responds, saying, "I will see if it's possible as my family and children are coming. I will try to get their visit delayed. I will let you know tomorrow."

The audio clip, which has now gone viral, is the latest in a series of purported leaked conversations attributed to Imran Khan ever since he was ousted from power earlier this year.

He blamed the incumbent coalition government and the military establishment for conspiring against him.

Previously, there was an audio leak of the Prime Minister's Office in Pakistan.

Social media users are sharing the purported clips while Imran is being severely criticized in the country.

"In the alleged sex call leak, Imran Khan has become Emraan Hashmi," tweeted Naila Inayat, a journalist, and South Asia correspondent.

"Khan sb can do whatever he wants in his personal life but I hope he will stop presenting himself as some kind of role model Muslim leader for the entire Ummah," said journalist Hamza Azhar Salam in a tweet.

There has been an uproar in Pakistan since the purported audio tapes leaked.

While it is yet to be ascertained if the viral audio belongs to Imran Khan, it is being said from the style of conversation that Imran Khan does feature in it.

His party, the PTI, has said the purported audio leaks were an attempt to assassinate his character.

Source: Times Of India

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Terrorism will be dealt with ‘iron hands’, vows PM Shehbaz

December 21, 2022

As Pakistan faces a resurgence in terror incidents, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has vowed to deal with the problem with “iron hands” and asserted that the state would not bow down to any militant groups.

“Attempts to spread chaos in Pakistan through terrorism will be dealt with iron hands,” he said in a statement carried by state-run Radio Pakistan on Wednesday.

The premier noted that the problem of terrorism was a “sensitive issue of national security” and called for “collective thinking” and a “national action plan” to curb the recent rise in terror activities.

Moreover, he added, the federal government would also address the “external facilitation of terrorists who disseminate and support it in Pakistan”.

Terror incidents in KP

PM Shehbaz particularly condemned the recent incidents of terrorism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which has seen a significant rise in terror activities since the militant Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP) called an end to its ceasefire with the government.

Among the most recent incidents in the province, four policemen were martyred when terrorists attacked a police station in Lakki Marwat — a district of Bannu division — on Sunday.

The same day, militants detained at a facility run by KP police’s Counter Terrorism Department in Bannu took control of the compound, held security personnel hostage and demanded a safe passage first to Afghanistan and later to North Waziristan or South Waziristan.

The siege ended after more than two days following an operation by security forces. Twenty-five terrorists were killed and three security personnel were martyred in the operation.

On Monday, an Intelligence Bureau sub-inspector was gunned down in Peshawar while a suicide attack in North Waziristan claimed the lives of a soldier and two civilians. Also on Monday, back-to-back bombings in Khuzdar injured 20.

In the early hours of Tuesday, dozens of armed militants stormed a police station in South Waziristan’s Wana and escaped after looting arms and ammunition.

Meanwhile, two beheaded bodies were found in a watercourse in KP’s Tank district. Police said a paper was found by the bodies that read: “It is a message from Taliban to everyone that spying would result in such a death.”

Earlier today, President Arif Alvi paid tributes to the security personnel who embraced martyrdom in the Bannu operation and condoled their deaths.

“I must salute the valiant officers and soldiers of the Pakistan Army who bravely fought the terrorists in the Bannu operation.

“I condole the shahadat (martyrdom) of Subedar Major Khurshid Akram, Sepahi Saeed and Sepahi Babar. May they live in eternal peace. Because of these sacrifices does Pakistan live,” he said in a tweet.

Separately, PM Shehbaz said in his statement today that while the primary responsibility for law and order lay with provinces, the federal government “cannot turn a blind eye to these serious issues”.

He assured that the Centre would work together with provinces to fight terrorism.

“The National Action Plan will be fully implemented to end terrorism in the country,” he said, acknowledging that increasing the capacity and efficiency of provincial governments was important for the eradication of terrorism.

In this connection, he added that the federal government would assist in improving the professional capacity of CTDs in all provinces.

“The federal government will work with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to restructure its Counter Terrorism Department,” he said, adding that all facilities would be provided to the CTD, including modern weapons.

‘Martyrs’ sacrifices won’t go to waste’

The premier also appreciated the armed forces’ response to terrorism, saying that the “entire nation will end terrorism by supporting its brave forces”.

“The sacrifices of the martyrs will not go to waste,” he continued, adding: “The great sacrifices of the armed forces, police, Rangers and other law enforcement agencies that the rendered for the motherland cannot be forgotten.”

Source: Dawn

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Pakistan ‘disappointed’ by Taliban ban on university education for girls but still wants engagement

December 21, 2022

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Tuesday voiced disappointment over the Taliban’s ban on university education for women but said the best approach remained engagement with Afghanistan’s rulers.

“I’m disappointed by the decision that was taken today,” Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on a visit to Washington.

But he said: “I still think the easiest path to our goal — despite having a lot of setbacks when it comes to women’s education and other things — is through Kabul and through the interim government.”

Bilawal said there were no alternatives to the Taliban, warning of further instability in Afghanistan or the rise of the Islamic State group.

“Is the alternative for us to imagine that we can somehow artificially stitch together an alternate opposition that can command the same sort of legitimacy?”

The Taliban, who had initially promised a softer approach than during their 1996-2001 regime, on Tuesday banned university education for women after already closing down secondary schooling for girls.

The United States, whose troop withdrawal from Afghanistan last year precipitated the collapse of the Western-backed government, warned that the Taliban decision could permanently end any hopes by the militants for a positive relationship.

Source: Dawn

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Schools close as Pakistan Taliban siege on police station drags on

Dec 20, 2022

BANNU, PAKISTAN: Local schools were ordered shut on Tuesday out of fear of more kidnappings as a hostage situation at a police station taken over by jailed Pakistan Taliban fighters dragged into its third day.

More than 30 members of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) group -- separate from the Afghan Taliban but with a similar hardline Islamist ideology -- overpowered their jailers on Sunday and snatched weapons.

The men, held on suspicion of terrorism, have demanded safe passage to Afghanistan in return for releasing at least eight police officers and military intelligence officials, said Muhammad Ali Saif, a spokesman for the provincial Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.

The district's deputy commissioner announced schools would close on Tuesday.

"We fear that the Taliban could enter any school in the suburbs and take the students hostage. We are not taking any risks and that's why we decided to close the schools for today," said a senior government official in the district who asked not to be named.

The police station is within a cantonment area in Bannu, in Pakistan's formerly self-governed tribal areas and near the border with Afghanistan.

Offices and roads have closed and checkpoints have been set up around the area.

Pakistani officials have asked the government in Kabul to help with the release of the hostages, the senior government official told AFP.

The TTP said its members were behind the incident and demanded authorities provide them safe passage to border areas.

Overnight on Monday, at least 50 Pakistan Taliban militants stormed another police station in Wana -- also close to the Afghan border and some 200 kilometres south of Bannu -- according to local government and senior police officials, both of whom asked not to be named.

The group locked up police officers and seized weapons before border force troops moved in to take back control.

The TTP claimed responsibility, saying two police officers were killed.

Authorities have not officially acknowledged the incident.

The TTP emerged in 2007 and carried out a horrific wave of violence in Pakistan that was largely crushed after a military operation beginning in 2014.

However, attacks are on the rise again since the Afghan Taliban seized control of Kabul last year, with most targeting security forces.

Source: Times Of India

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12 killed, dozens injured in fire in Pakistan's Balochistan

Dec 20, 2022

KARACHI: At least 12 people were killed and dozens injured in a huge fire which broke out when a gas cylinder exploded in Pakistan's restive Balochistan province, media reports said on Tuesday.

The cylinder exploded while being refilled at a filling shop in the Lasbela district of the southwestern province on Monday, the Dawn newspaper said.

The flames engulfed other gas cylinders in the shop and spread to other shops, destroying at least four of them and around two dozen motorbikes parked in the vicinity, the paper added.

Two people were killed on the spot while 10 others succumbed to injuries during the treatment at a hospital, Geo News reported, quoting the police.

At least 25 people were severely burned in the fire. They were shifted to Karachi's Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital.

According to a doctor attending them, the condition of some of the injured was critical with 70 to 90 per cent burn injuries.

The death toll is expected to rise, police said.

Source: Times Of India

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Arab World


Baghdad conference aims to ensure Iraq’s security, stability: Jordan

Laith Al-Jnaidi  


Jordan’s King Abdullah II said Tuesday the Baghdad conference aims to ensure Iraq’s security and stability.

"Addressing common challenges requires joint action that our peoples can feel it has positive effects," Abdullah told the opening session of the Baghdad II conference in the Dead Sea in western Jordan.

The monarch said the meeting is held at a time when the region is witnessing political and security crises as well as food, water and health challenges.

“This situation requires us to secure the supply chain and the energy supplies,” he added.

The Baghdad conference is attended by 12 countries -- Jordan, Iraq, France, Türkiye, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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US forces capture six Islamic State operatives in Syria raids

20 December 2022

The US military said on Tuesday that it captured six Islamic State (IS) operatives in eastern Syria during helicopter raids, including a senior operative who the military said was involved in plotting and enabling attacks.

The US Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US troops in the Middle East, said in a statement that it conducted three pre-dawn raids over the past 48 hours, and its main target was a senior IS Syria provincial operative referred to as al-Zubaydi. The military said that no Americans were injured in the raids.

The raids are the second to take place in the span of a week. Last Sunday, US commandos killed another IS operative, known as Anas, and an associate in a nearly three-hour gun battle in eastern Syria, the military said.

"These partnered operations reaffirm Centcom's steadfast commitment to the region and the enduring defeat of ISIS,” General Michael Kurilla, the head of the command, said in a statement, using another acronym to refer to the IS militant group.

"The capture of these ISIS operatives will disrupt the terrorist organization's ability to further plot and carry out destabilizing attacks."

The raids by the US come a month after Centcom confirmed that the leader of the IS group, Abu al-Hassan al-Hashemi al-Quraishi, was killed in battle by anti-Syrian government fighters. He had only been in charge of the militant group for less than nine months.

After his rise to leader in February, Abu al-Hassan al-Hashemi al-Quraishi remained a mysterious figure, and little was known about him. His name is thought not to be real, and some believe the leader to be Juma Awad al-Badri.

In July, the US assassinated Maher al-Agal, a senior IS group leader, in a drone strike in Syria, and in February it killed the group's previous leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi.

Syrian Democratic Forces

Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) accompanied the US troops in their latest operation, the American military said, according to The New York Times.

The presence of the SDF comes after the Kurdish-led group had announced earlier this month that it stopped all joint counter-terrorism operations with the US against the IS group as a result of Turkish attacks on its territory, only for the US to later announce a resumption of joint patrols.

However, The Times reported that US officials rushed to tamp down tensions, and operations soon resumed.

The US has backed the SDF with military assistance and conducts joint operations with the group, which it sees as the most effective fighting force against IS.

Turkey views the SDF (and also YPG) as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which has waged a decades-long war for independence against Turkey. The US considers the group, known as the PKK, a terrorist organisation, but differentiates it from the SDF.

Source: Middle East Eye

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Eight Iraqis killed as Islamic State group militants launch fresh attack in Diyala

20 December, 2022

Eight Iraqi civilians were killed and others wounded after Islamic State group militants launched an attack on a village in Iraq’s eastern Diyala province late on Monday, Iraqi officials said.

"A group of terrorists riding motorcycles at around 8:30 pm attacked  Al-Bubali village... dozens of residents, some of them unarmed, had rushed to confront the attackers," Uday al-Khadran, mayor of Khalis district, told Iraq’s state media the Iraqi News Agency (INA).  

"After half an hour of clashes, eight villagers were martyred and three others were severely wounded."

Iraqi security forces are now conducting operations in the area to chase down the militants.

"There are some suspects who might be interrogated in order to know [the whereabouts of] the perpetrators. There are terrorist outposts near the village that have not been dealt with previously," he added.

Iraqi military spokesman Yahya Rasool said in a statement that the IS militants' "cowardly actions" were in response to military operations in the area which "have broken the terrorists' backbone and killed their leader".

Iraqi troops were re-deployed in Diyala after a senior security delegation visited the area and will implement a thorough investigation into the incident with a"proper response" to follow, he said.

IS on Sunday claimed responsibility for another attack in Kirkuk province when a roadside bomb killed nine Iraqi police officers.

IS announced on 30 November that its leader, Abu Hasan al-Hashimi Al-Qurashi, was killed in battle without elaborating on the date of his death or the circumstances. The group also identified its new leader as Abu al-Hussein Al-Husseini Al-Qurashi.

After a meteoric rise in Iraq and Syria in 2014 that saw it conquer vast swathes of territory, IS saw its self-proclaimed "caliphate" collapse under a wave of offensives.

It was defeated in Iraq in 2017 and in Syria two years later, but sleeper cells of the extremist group still carry out attacks in both countries.

IS's previous leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Qurashi, was killed in February this year in a US raid in Idlib province in northern Syria.

Source: The New Arab

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OIC meeting discusses Saudi efforts to fight corruption, promote integrity


December 20, 2022

RIYADH: Law enforcement agencies from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s member states have attended their first ministerial meeting, in Jeddah.

Heads of international bodies, such as the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Interpol and the Financial Intelligence Unit group, also attended the two-day meeting, which was held under the patronage of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and discussed the adoption of the Makkah Agreement, which aims at fighting corruption.

President of the Kingdom’s Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority Mazin bin Ibrahim Al-Kahmous said that Saudi Arabia supported efforts to combat corruption at local and international levels, as it constituted a pillar of Vision 2030.

He said that the meeting was a confirmation of the organization’s charter — which seeks to combat corruption, money laundering and organized crime — and embodied the strong relations between Islamic countries which helped signify a united front toward desired goals.

He added that the adoption of the Makkah Convention by member states would establish a new phase of cooperation in the field of combating corruption to serve common interests.

OIC Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha said that the Makkah Agreement provided the most significant and effective framework for preventing and combating corruption in member states through effective prevention, law enforcement, international cooperation, and asset recovery mechanisms.

Taha called on the OIC states to engage in the fight against corruption by signing and ratifying the Makkah Agreement in order to enforce anti-corruption laws “in accordance with their legal systems and in line with the aspirations and perspectives of member states in the fight against corruption.”

When asked about the importance of fighting corruption in regard to national security, Abdul Majeed Al-Bunyan, director of Naif Arab University for Security Sciences, said: “The breakdown of law and order leads to corruption.

“However, its proliferation contributes significantly to state instability. Law enforcement agencies must be strong and competent to combat corruption in the light of national and international legislation that enables them to do their jobs effectively, and for societies to grow and advance.”

He cautioned that it would need determined efforts from all sides to accomplish the desired international collaboration through a more efficient sharing of information, the restriction of safe havens, and the tracking and recovery of stolen public funds.

According to Saudi political analyst Monif Alsofouqi, corruption is not restricted to theft and misuse of public funds.

He told Arab News it undermined the state’s ability to fulfill its legislative, executive, and supervisory responsibilities, and contributed to widespread unrest.

He added that many nations hoped to improve their standing in the eyes of potential investors by making strides in the battle against corruption.

He also pointed out that the fight against corruption was no longer a domestic issue, but increasingly an international problem affecting the economic performance of states.

International organizations used several methods in order to attract investment, he said, and arrangements evaluating competitiveness and the corruption index were two of the most important indicators determining the direction of foreign cash.

Abduraheem Al-Moghathawi, a former professor of higher studies at Islamic University, said: “Saudi Arabia is a sovereign country with a new vision and sophisticated methods of achieving economic and social growth rates, as well as growing intellectual and cultural awareness to increase care and attention given to civil rights.

“Combating corruption and maintaining public integrity in both private and public sectors are among the Kingdom’s domestic and exterior legal procedures.

“To fulfill its duty in the service of Saudi society, Saudi Arabia established the Public Prosecutors’ Office and the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

“The Kingdom is committed to eliminating corruption and promoting integrity in society through its Islamic status, national responsibility, and humanitarian commitments, particularly with the launch of Saudi Vision 2030.

Source: Arab News

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Kingdom stands with Iraq over stability, sovereignty: Saudi FM

December 20, 2022

AMMAN: Saudi Arabia stands side by side with Iraq in preserving stability and sovereignty, and is committed to restoring the country’s historical status as a cradle of civilization, science and knowledge, Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said on Tuesday.

His comments came at the Baghdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership in Jordan, which gathered leaders from the Middle East and Europe to focus on bolstering security and stability in Iraq.

Prince Faisal, who led the Kingdom’s delegation at the conference, delivered a speech lauding the political will of Iraq and Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani in facing adversity, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The minister said that the Kingdom “rejects any aggressive measures” on Iraqi territory and is committed to fighting terrorism as well as extremism in the country.

He added that the Kingdom will “spare no effort” in supporting Iraq’s economic and developmental progress, saying that the country’s prosperity is “tied to the prosperity of the entire region.”

Prince Faisal said that the Kingdom is committed to developing a joint action plan under the auspices of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council, as well as collaborating with the Iraqi government to promote investment opportunities in renewable and clean energy, water desalination and agriculture.

The two countries cooperate through OPEC and OPEC+ in an effort to keep global oil markets stable, he added.

Meanwhile, the foreign affairs minister said that the Kingdom’s Saudi and Middle East Green Initiatives, as well as the Green Belt project in Iraq, remain important areas of cooperation in strengthening bilateral ties.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II said that the conference’s second edition is taking place at a time when the region is facing security and political crises, as well as food, water, health and energy security challenges.

The Iraqi prime minister said that strengthening the bonds of partnership among attending countries through infrastructure interdependence, economic integration and mutual investment was a priority.

Source: Arab News

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Quds Force chief: Palestinians will soon force Israelis out of occupied lands

20 December 2022

The commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)'s Quds Force says the Palestinian people will eventually rid their land from Israelis, warning the regime that the era of hit-and-run has come to an end.

Brigadier Gen. Esmail Qa’ani made the warning at a ceremony on Tuesday which was held on the occasion of the first martyrdom anniversary of former Iranian ambassador to Yemen Hassan Irloo, who passed away of COVID-19 complications amid a siege imposed by the Saudi regime and its allies on the Arabian Peninsula state.

Qa’ani noted that about 50 operations are carried out against Israel in the occupied West Bank alone every day, adding that the occupying regime is today desperate and under intense pressure.

He went on to say that it won't be long before the Palestinians expel the Israelis from their land.

The IRGC commander further said the day his predecessor Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani was assassinated by a US drone strike in Iraq, we warned Israelis to sell their houses and leave Palestine.

“Today, we see that in the occupied territories, old Jewish figures have created organizations to [promote] leaving the occupied territories,” he said.

The latest development came a day after a prominent Israeli regime general said that occupied Palestine is witnessing the formation of a communication network among Palestinians, a matter that worries Israeli officials and elites who think the regime faces an existential threat.

Palestinian officials have also reiterated that the Palestinian resistance front will not quit fighting Israel until the occupied territories are fully liberated.

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has also urged support for the Palestinian people’s right to end the Israeli occupation and establish their independent state with al-Quds as its capital, as well as the right of return for refugees.

The Israeli regime came into existence in 1948 after occupying huge swathes of Palestinian territories during a Western-backed war. It occupied more land, namely the West Bank, which includes East al-Quds, and the Gaza Strip where Hamas is headquartered, in another war in 1967.

Source: Press TV

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Israel’s crime against cancer-stricken Palestinian prisoner will not go unpunished: Hamas chief

20 December 2022

The head of the political bureau of Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, has denounced as “a crime against humanity” the death of a cancer-stricken Palestinian prisoner in Israeli jails, saying the regime’s crime would not go unpunished.

Ismail Haniyeh made the remarks in a statement on Tuesday, after Nasser Abu Hamid, who was suffering from a life-threatening condition in his lungs in Israeli detention, was pronounced dead by the Palestinian Commission of Detainees’ and Ex-Detainees’ Affairs earlier in the day, the Palestinian Information Center reported.

The Hamas chief further expressed his sincere condolences over Abu Hamid’s death to his mother and detained brothers, reiterating the movement’s commitment to liberating all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails and every inch of Palestine.

Abu Hamid was declared dead on Tuesday morning at the Israeli Shamir Medical Center, formerly known as Assaf Harofeh Medical Center and located 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) southeast of Tel Aviv.

He was transferred from the Ramla Prison Hospital to the medical center on Monday afternoon after his health condition severely deteriorated and fell into a deep coma.

Abu Hamid was diagnosed with cancer in August 2021.

The 50-year-old Palestinian prisoner was wrestling with death as the Israeli prison service (IPS) continued to deny him necessary medical care.

He had been incarcerated since 2002 and was sentenced to life imprisonment after an Israeli court found him guilty of participating in attacks during the Second Palestinian Intifada (uprising).

Last September, Israeli doctors issued a medical report recommending Abu Hamid’s release, saying his lung cancer had reached an irreversible stage.

The prisoner had not received any dose of chemotherapy for several months because of extreme lethargy leading to an inability to respond to cancer drugs.

His family had appealed to all concerned international bodies to take urgent and effective action to save the life of their son.

Abu Hamid’s case to be presented to ICC

Meanwhile, Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Riyad al-Maliki held the Israeli regime fully responsible for the death of Abu Hamid, saying his case will be represented to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Maliki also accused the international community of failing to address Abu Hamid's issue, saying he was not only a victim of the occupying regime’s oppression, but also a victim of world’s double standards.

He further called on the United Nations to put pressure on Israel to hand over the body of the Palestinian prisoner to his family, so that they can hold a funeral ceremony as soon as possible.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyehalso blamed Israel for Abu Hamid's death, accused Tel Aviv of “deliberate medical negligence."

Palestinians call for strike

Separately on Tuesday, Palestinian factions called for a general strike in the occupied West Bank, urging Palestinians to confront Israeli troops following Abu Hamid’s death.

Hamas called for “a real escalation in the occupation prisons” in response to his death.

Fatah called for strikes in cities across the West Bank "in response to the crimes committed against Palestinian prisoners."

The Palestinian “movement also called for a day of rage at contact points with the Israeli military,” Palestine’s official Wafa news agency reported.

This is while the IPS claims Abu Hamid had received “close and regular treatment by the prison’s medical staff and outside personnel” since his diagnosis.

There are reportedly more than 7,000 Palestinians incarcerated in Israeli jails. Human rights organizations say Israel violates all the rights and freedoms granted to prisoners by the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Source: Press TV

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Hamas calls for mass uprising as Palestinian prisoner dies due to Israel medical negligence

20 December 2022

Two Palestinian prisoners’ advocacy groups have announced that a Palestinian prisoner, who was suffering from cancer and had lately lapsed into a deep coma, has died because of medical complications caused by deliberate medical negligence in Israeli detention.

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) and the Palestinian Commission of Detainees’ and Ex-Detainees’ Affairs said in a joint statement that 50-year-old Nasser Abu Hmaid was pronounced dead on Tuesday morning at the Israeli Shamir Medical Center, formerly known as Assaf Harofeh Medical Center and located 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) southeast of Tel Aviv.

They said Abu Hmaid was transferred from the Ramla Prison Hospital to the medical center on Monday afternoon after his health condition severely deteriorated.

Earlier, the Palestinian Commission of Detainees’ and Ex-Detainees’ Affairs said the cancer-stricken Palestinian prisoner was in a fairly critical condition and that he had slipped into a deep coma. Doctors were giving him large doses of painkillers.

Abu Hmeid had been battling death for several months in Ramla Prison Hospital. His health had been deteriorating amid a wide spread of cancerous cells throughout his body, with complete damage to his left lung.

He hailed from the al-Amari refugee camp in the occupied central West Bank city of Ramallah. He has been incarcerated since 2002 and was sentenced to life imprisonment after an Israeli court found him guilty of participating in attacks during the Second Palestinian Intifada (uprising).

Abu Hmaid was diagnosed with lung cancer in August 2021 after Israeli authorities delayed the provision of medical examinations and treatment, according to prisoner groups.

His family had appealed to all concerned international bodies to take urgent and effective action to save the life of their son.

Hamas: Abu Hmaid fought until his last breath

The Gaza-based Hamas resistance movement mourned the death of the cancer-stricken Palestinian prisoner.

Hazem Qassem, a spokesman for the group, said in a statement on Tuesday that Abu Hmaid fought the Israeli occupation until his last breath, and represented the entire Palestinian nation.

He denounced the Palestinian inmate’s death as a major crime committed by the Tel Aviv regime against Palestinian prisoners and Palestinians in general, stressing that the misdeed must be met with a mass uprising aimed at forcing Israel to abandon its criminal policy of medical negligence.

Qassem pointed out that the policy of medical negligence reveals the extent of the Israel Prison Service’s terrorism against Palestinian detainees, adding that Hamas has placed the issue of prisoners atop its priorities.

There are reportedly more than 7,000 Palestinians incarcerated in Israeli jails. Human rights organizations say Israel violates all the rights and freedoms granted to prisoners by the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Source: Press TV

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Iran urges Western powers to adopt ‘constructive’ approach to revive nuclear deal

20 December ,2022

Iran’s top diplomat Hossein Amirabdollahian called on Western powers on Tuesday to adopt a “constructive” approach for the revival of the 2015 nuclear pact.

Amirabdollahian also added that other parties to the deal should take the “necessary political decision” to salvage the pact during his meeting with European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in Jordan.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran releases dissident after three months in prison: Brother

20 December ,2022

Iranian authorities have released one of the country’s best known dissidents after he spent three months in jail as protests shook the country, his brother said.

Majid Tavakoli was released on bail from Tehran’s Evin prison after 89 days behind bars, his brother Mohsen wrote on Twitter late on Monday.

Tavakoli had been arrested shortly after the start of the anti-regime protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini who had been arrested by the morality police for allegedly violating Iran’s strict dress rules for women.

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Iran has arrested prominent lawyers, actors, cultural figures, journalists and campaigners in a crackdown that according to the UN has seen at least 14,000 people detained.

“We are happy about this news, but our happiness will be complete when all the dear ones who are in prison are released,” said Mohsen Tavakoli, posting a picture of his brother outside jail clutching a bouquet of flowers.

Tavakoli has spent much of the last one and a half decades in and out of jail and became prominent as a student leader during the 2009 mass street protests over disputed presidential elections.

He is hugely respected by activists as one of the most astute and analytical rights campaigners remaining inside Iran.

In 2013 he won the Student Peace Prize, which is awarded every two years in Norway.

His release comes after Iranian authorities in late November released the prominent dissident Hossein Ronaghi who had also been arrested at the onset of the protests and had been on a two-month hunger strike.

Several prominent Iranian campaigners remain in jail including the lawyer Mostafa Nili who has defended high profile cases and was arrested in November.

The two Iranian journalists Niloufar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi who helped expose the case of Amini by respectively reporting from the hospital and her funeral, have been held since September.

The two women have now been moved from Evin prison to Qarchak prison outside the capital where conditions have regularly aroused concern among rights activists, their families announced at the weekend.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Turkey court acquits 103 retired admirals accused of ‘coup’

20 December ,2022

A Turkish court on Tuesday acquitted 103 retired admirals whom President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused last year of eyeing a “coup,” state media reported.

They appeared in court charged with “crimes against the security of the state and the constitutional order” after they signed an open letter in April 2021 in support of a treaty aimed at demilitarizing the Black Sea.

The 1936 Montreux Convention sets strict rules on warships’ passage through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits leading to the Mediterranean.

But Erdogan is planning to build a new canal in Istanbul to the west of the Bosphorus to take the pressure off one of the world’s busiest waterways.

The former admirals feared that the treaty’s possible collapse if the new canal were built could have negative repercussions for Turkey.

Erdogan lashed out at the commanders, accusing them of threatening a “coup” against the country’s elected government.

Prosecutors sought a jail sentence of up to 12 years for each of the retired admirals, who were free pending trial.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Senior Palestinian al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades fighter dies of cancer in Israeli jail

20 December ,2022

A senior Palestinian fighter jailed for life by Israel, and who was cited by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a speech to the United Nations, died of cancer on Tuesday, authorities said.

Nasser Abu Hmaid, co-founder of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades had been convicted of killing seven Israelis and planning other attacks. The Brigades is deemed a terrorist group in Israel and the West.

He was serving multiple life sentences and had been in prison since 2002.

Abbas accused Israel of neglecting Abu Hmaid’s medical needs and held it responsible for his death, the official news agency WAFA said. Israel’s Prisons Service said Abu Hmaid, 50, had received “close and continuous treatment” for his lung cancer.

After Abu Hmaid fell into a coma, the Prisons Service let his family visit him briefly on Monday, in the presence of guards, his mother told Voice of Palestine radio.

“Thank God, I and his brothers were able to see him and pay him farewell,” she said, adding that she hoped his body would be released for burial.

Source: Al Arabiya

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UN reports highest number of fatalities in years in Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Betül Yürük  


The UN’s Middle East envoy said Monday that more than 150 Palestinians and over 20 Israelis have been killed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so far this year, marking the highest number of fatalities in years.

''I am gravely concerned by the sharp increase in violence against civilians on both sides, which exacerbates mistrust and undermines a peaceful resolution to the conflict,'' Tor Wennesland told the UN Security Council.

Wennesland called for an end to the violence and for all perpetrators to be held accountable.

He also expressed concern over Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which the world body says constitutes a flagrant violation of UN resolutions and international law.

Some 4,800 housing units were advanced this year in Area C of the West Bank, and the number of housing units advanced more than tripled from the previous year – from 900 units in 2021 to 3,100 units in 2022, he said.

He urged Israel to cease advancement of all settlement activities as well as the demolition of Palestinian-owned properties.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Iranian interference in Yemen started 1979: Yemeni leader


December 20, 2022

AL-MUKALLA: Iranian interference in Yemen started immediately after exiled Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1979 return to Tehran, the Yemeni leader has revealed.

And Rashad Al-Alimi, president of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council, told Al Arabiya TV on Monday that in 1983 Iran’s government gave its backing to an armed group commanded by Badder Addin Al-Houthi, the father of the Houthi movement’s leader.

In an exclusive interview with the station, Al-Alimi said that year the militia, led by Al-Houthi and Salah Faletah, father of the Houthis chief negotiator, had attacked civilian and military targets in Sanaa.

“It should be evident to everybody that the Iranian project was conceived by an early strategic plan and not in 2000 or 2004. After Khomeini’s return and the launch of Iran’s regional expansion strategy, the problem arose.

“The emergence of Iranian cells in Yemen coincided with the emergence of Hezbollah in Lebanon,” the president added.

He pointed out that many Yemeni governments had over the past four decades tried to alert the international community to the gravity of the situation, particularly during conflicts between 2004 and 2010.

Al-Alimi noted that the internationally recognized government and the council were dedicated to upholding a UN-brokered cease-fire, which ended in October, and other peace initiatives to end the war, despite constant Houthi breaches that since April had left hundreds of government military personnel dead or injured.

“The terrorist Houthi militia has refused to extend the cease-fire and open roads in Taiz until this day,” he said.

In October, the National Defense Council, chaired by Al-Alimi, labeled the Houthis a terrorist group after they attacked oil terminals in the southern provinces of Hadramout and Shabwa, resulting in the closure of key facilities and the cessation of oil exports, the government’s primary source of income.

As a result of the attacks, the Yemeni government may be unable to pay the wages of thousands of government employees, and damage repair costs to the Hadramout facility have been estimated at $50 million, he added.

Al-Alimi said: “We urge the international community to proceed from condemnation to action by classifying this terrorist group as a terrorist organization. It is affiliated with terrorist groups like the (Iran’s Islamic) Revolutionary Guard (Corps) and Hezbollah.”

He accused the Houthis of collaborating with terror groups, including Daesh and Al-Qaeda, by freeing militants, including some Al-Qaeda operatives jailed for their involvement in the 2000 attack on the USS Cole destroyer, arming them, and then sending them to liberated areas to launch attacks against government troops.

The eight-member Presidential Leadership Council, which took office in April when former president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi delegated his power to the council, is made up of important military and political figures as well as the governors of several provinces.

Al-Alimi, who is now in Riyadh, refuted media claims of divisions within the council and said that he and other council members often met online and would return to Aden.

On the council’s accomplishments, he highlighted its work in revitalizing courts and other public bodies and routinely paying public employees in all government-controlled regions.

“Today, all freed territories have fully operational courts, prosecution, and judicial institutions,” he added.

And on Yemen’s relationship with the Arab coalition, primarily Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Al-Alimi said the Kingdom hosted more than 2 million Yemenis who sent at least $4 billion annually to their families in Yemen, while Saudi Arabia also funded numerous projects such as the renovation of a hospital in Aden.

In addition, the UAE was involved in the building of a 120-megawatt solar power plant in Aden.

Source: Arab News

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North America


US Department of State Says Human Rights at Top of Agenda with Islamic Emirate

By Imran Danish

Dec 21, 2022

The US Department of State said that Washington is not prepared to improve its relationship “with the Taliban” until and unless they actually start to uphold the commitments, they have made to the Afghan people.

Addressing a press conference, the US State Department spokesman Ned Price said human rights are at the top of the agenda of his country.

“In every engagement we have with the Taliban, human rights are at the top of the agenda. We of course not only remind them of the commitments they have made to the United States but, more importantly, of the commitment they have to the people of Afghanistan to uphold their basic and fundamental and universal rights, something that the Taliban have failed to do,” Price said.

Islamic Emirate spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said they cannot cross Sharia in a bid to fulfil the wishes of the international community.

He urged the US to engage in talks to address the problems.

“The rules and orders in Islamic Emirate are relevant to the Islam. There is no progress in this regard because it is part of our Sharia and religion. We cannot give up on Sharia because of them. Anyway, engagement and understandings pave the ground for development and the US should do it,” he said.

Analysts said that the improvement of relations between Kabul and Washington would solve political and economic problems in Afghanistan.

“Building relations with the US and the world will benefit Afghanistan. With this, we can solve many political and economic problems in the country,” said Aziz Maarij, a political affairs analyst.

“The relations of the Afghan government with the US is one of the basics of governance. The Islamic Emirate should solve its problems via negotiations and diplomacy with the US,” said Jannat Fahim Chakari, a political analyst.

Source: Tolo News

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New Jersey lawmakers considering resolution to establish January as Muslim Heritage Month

December 20, 2022

New Jersey state legislators hope to pass a bipartisan resolution recognizing January as Muslim Heritage month statewide.

Advocates for the resolution want the measure to pass both state houses before the end of the current legislative session, Republican State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio – who is a sponsor of the resolution – told CNN.

“This is an important thing that we can do to show our Muslim friends” camaraderie and thankfulness for their contributions, Pinnacchio said.

The legislature has a full year to pass the resolution, but he hopes it doesn’t take that long.

“This is just a resolution acknowledging … all of the things that this community has done,” Pinnacchio said.

The current legislative session ends in January 2024.

New Jersey has the highest percentage of Muslim residents in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center.

Incidents of hate against Muslims have been on the rise in New Jersey, according to Dina Sayedahmed, communications manager for the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

She added that her office has recently received more than 160 calls for help and hopes it will help reduce the number of hate incidents against Muslims.

Sayedahmed added that while CAIR-NJ supports the measure overall, the organization feels the name of the proposed resolution should be changed to Muslim Appreciation Month.

“We want to dispel any myths that Islam is a culture or Islam is a heritage that’s simply like, passed down,” Sayedahmed said. “We feel that Muslim appreciation is more appropriate.”

“We’re hoping that this resolution can help highlight the accomplishments and also the … culture and the diversity of the Muslim community and Muslim American community,” she said.

She also hopes it will help counter anti-Muslim sentiments and “uplift the Muslim community” by presenting them in a “positive light, as opposed to the normal depictions that we see.”

If New Jersey approves the resolution, the state will join Utah, Washington and Illinois as the only states to recognize January as a month celebrating Muslim American heritage. On the federal level, measures have been introduced in both the House and Senate to have the holiday recognized nationwide.

Source: CNN

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Blinken calls Bilawal, offers continued help for flood victims

December 21, 2022

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and assured him of his continued support for the people of Pakistan as they recover from the recent devastating floods, said a statement issued in Washington on Tuesday.

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Secretary Blinken and FM Bhutto-Zardari “shared their mutual hope for a productive International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan in January and discussed the need for close coordination”.

The secretary offered condolences for lives lost in recent terrorist attacks and underscored the US resolute support for Pakistan as it combats terrorism, the statement added.

The foreign minister is currently visiting Washington on the second leg of his weeklong visit to the US. He arrived in New York on Dec 13 and reached Washington on Monday after attending a special UN session of G77 countries and holding bilateral meetings with the UN chief and other dignitaries. The US State Department offered unconditional support to Pakistan in its battle against the TTP and similar groups, saying that defeating terrorism was a shared goal of both countries.

UN chief slams TTP, calls on Kabul to take action against militant group

It also offered to assist India and Pakistan in resolving their differences, reminding them that they were key global partners and that America would like to continue ‘valuable partnerships’ with both.

But when asked if the US could also help resolve the Kashmir dispute, Mr Price said: “Our policy is that this is an issue that needs to be addressed by India and Pakistan. We are prepared to support if the parties want that, but this is a question for India and Pakistan to adjudicate.”

The foreign minister began his official engagements in Washington on Monday with an address to a conservative think-tank, the Heritage Foundation. He attended a community dinner at the Pakistani ambassador’s residence in the evening and addressed another think-tank, the Atlantic Council, on Tuesday.

He also met a number of US lawmakers during the last two days.

In an interview with Bloomberg published on Tuesday, Mr Bhutto-Zardari defended his recent remarks describing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as ‘the butcher of Gujarat’, saying he was referring to ‘a historical fact’, reported.

“I was referring to a historical reality. The remarks I used were not my own. I did not call […] I did not invent the term ‘Butcher of Gujarat’ for Mr Modi. The Muslims in India following the Gujarat riots used that term for Mr Modi.”

“It’s been two days since my remark — a member of Mr Modi’s party has announced a 20 million rupee bounty on my head. So, I don’t think the best way to disprove the fact that Mr Modi is the ‘Butcher of Gujarat’ is to adopt such extreme steps,” he said.

“It is an extreme reaction and underlines and reinforces the points I made at the UN,” he said.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari’s remarks evoked strong reaction from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who staged protests across the country, including outside the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi.

UN chief seeks action against TTP

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the Taliban administration in Kabul to ensure an end to “all forms of terrorism activities” that posed a threat to Pakistan and other neighbouring countries from Afghan soil, reported.

“There is […] a clear ask from the international community, which is for Afghanistan to stop all forms of activity of terrorist organisations that from Afghanistan represent a threat to neighbouring countries, including Pakistan,” he said while speaking at a press briefing at the UN headquarters in New York on Monday.

The UN was actively engaged in discussions with the Taliban de facto authorities on this issue, he added.

Source: Dawn

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Taliban release two detained Americans in ‘goodwill gesture’

20 Dec 2022

The Taliban have released two Americans that had been in detention in Afghanistan, the state department said on Tuesday – the same day that the group faced condemnation for banning women at universities.

“This, we understand, to have been a goodwill gesture on the part of the Taliban. This was not part of any swap of prisoners or detainees. There was no money that exchanged hands,” state department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

The two Americans released had arrived in Qatar on Tuesday, The Washington Post reported, citing diplomats familiar with the matter.

The identities of the two nationals were not disclosed. Price said that confidentiality rules forbade him from offering more details on the two Americans.

Speaking at a daily press briefing, Price said Washington was continuing to raise with the Taliban the need to release any US nationals still held in Afghanistan, but declined to provide who they may be and how many people may be held there.

“We are in a position to welcome the release of two American nationals from detention in Afghanistan. We are providing these to US nationals with all appropriate assistance. They will soon be reunited with their loved ones,” Price said.

He pointed out “the irony of them granting us a goodwill gesture on a day where they undertake a gesture like this [banning girls from universities] to the Afghan people, it’s not lost on us,” he said. “But it is a question for the Taliban themselves regarding the timing of this.”

On Tuesday, Afghanistan’s Taliban-run higher education ministry said that female students would not be allowed access to the country’s universities until further notice.

The announcement came as the United Nations Security Council met in New York on Afghanistan. The United States and British UN envoys condemned the move during the council meeting.

“The Taliban cannot expect to be a legitimate member of the international community until they respect the rights of all Afghans, especially the human rights and fundamental freedom of women and girls,” US Deputy UN Ambassador Robert Wood said.

“We have an interest in seeing Americans released from detention. That is a uniquely US interest. But beyond that, the categories that I spoke about earlier – human rights, safe passage, representative government, counterterrorism … We will continue to advocate for these interests,” Price said.

The Taliban have restricted women from most fields of employment, ordered them to wear head-to-toe clothing in public, and banned them from parks and gyms.

Source: Al Jazeera

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US says 'no progress happening' with Iran on resuming nuclear accord

Michael Hernandez  



Talks to return the US and Iran to a key accord that restricted Tehran's nuclear activities remain at a deadlock and show no signs of resuming anytime soon, the White House said Tuesday.

"There is no progress happening with respect to the Iran deal now. We don't anticipate any progress anytime in the near future. That's just not our focus," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters during a virtual briefing.

Indirect talks to resume compliance with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) have been stalled for months and prospects of a resumption dimmed dramatically following Iran's provision of military drones to Russia to aid its war against Ukraine.

The deliveries have been staunchly opposed by the Biden administration and have served to further impede any efforts to return to negotiations.

Former US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew Washington from the landmark agreement in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to retaliate by taking steps away from its nuclear-related commitments.

Iran has since gone on to surpass limits on the amount of uranium it is allowed to possess, as well as the levels to which it is allowed to enrich the nuclear material.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Macron says let Iraq choose path not ‘dictated’ by foreign powers

20 December ,2022

French President Emmanuel Macron called for Iraq to be allowed to choose a path not dictated by foreign powers, in an address Tuesday to a summit aimed at helping to resolve Middle East crises.

“There is a way that is not that of a form of hegemony, imperialism, a model that would be dictated from outside,” Macron told the summit at Sweimeh on the shores of the Dead Sea.

Caught for years in a delicate balancing act between its two main allies the United States and Iran, Iraq only recently arrived at a fragile compromise government after a year of political stalemate.

It has endured nearly two decades of turmoil since the US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The extremist ISIS group seized roughly one third of the country’s territory before its defeat more than three years later.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani reiterated that Iraq must not be used to threaten neighboring countries.

“We do not allow using our territories to threaten neighboring countries… Iraq dissociates itself from the policies of axes,” al-Sudani said.

The premier also called for strengthening “joint work to fight extremist [ideology].”

Jordan’s King Abdullah II also voiced the importance of Iraq’s security, saying it was “an essential pillar of the region’s security.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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UN Security Council Holds a Session on Afghanistan

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

December 20, 2022

The UN Security Council held a session on Afghanistan today emphasizing the way forward through a more pluralistic polity, where all Afghans, especially women and minorities, could see themselves represented.

In a briefing to the United Nation’s Security Council earlier today, the Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Roza Otunbayeva said the only war forward for Afghanistan is to form an inclusive government where everyone, particularly women and minorities could seem themselves represented.

Also, during a press conference, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday called on the authorities of the de facto regime in Afghanistan to ensure women’s right to work and girls’ right to attend schools.

Following the number of public punishments including public executions, flogging, and stoning of many Afghan men and women convicted for different crimes in different provinces, Afghanistan’s de facto regime came under massive criticism. Respecting natural human rights is the very basic demand of the people of Afghanistan and the international community.

The Norwegian representative at the UN Security Council stated, “the Norwegian government stands with the people of Afghanistan during these difficult times.” “During our dialogues with the Taliban at the beginning of the year, it was clearly asked that they should respect human rights and ensure that Afghanistan is a safe country for all its people.” She further added.

Source: Khaama Press

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Türkiye voices support for peace, stability in Balkans

Talha Ozturk  



Turkish Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop reaffirmed Ankara's support Tuesday for peace and stability in the Balkans.

"The preservation of peace and stability in the Balkans is also extremely important for the security of Europe," Sentop said in a meeting with his North Macedonian counterpart, Talat Xhaferi, in the capital of Skopje.

He said recent problems at the regional and global levels have made it necessary to act together.

Sentop stressed the importance of mutual efforts to further develop relations between Türkiye and North Macedonia.

"We should develop these good relations on multilateral platforms as well as bilaterally,'' he said.

Xhaferi pointed out that cooperation between the two countries is dynamic at all levels, especially at the parliamentary level.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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US welcomes Greek-Turkish dialogue, encourages more talks

Michael Gabriel Hernandez  



The US welcomed on Tuesday recent discussions between Greek and Turkish officials, emphasizing they are a vital step toward achieving greater unity in the transatlantic alliance.

"This is a time when we need unity and cohesion between our allies, certainly between and among our NATO allies. We always regret the escalation of provocative statements," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

"The tensions within an alliance between two alliance members certainly does not help anyone. To that end, we welcome the recent meeting in Brussels between Anna-Maria Boura, Prime Minister Mitsotakis' diplomatic advisor, and Ibrahim Kalin, President Erdogan's spokesperson and chief advisor, and we continue to encourage these discussions at all levels," he added.

The comments come after senior officials from Greece, Türkiye and Germany met Monday in Brussels with German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit saying additional talks are likely.

The meeting brought together Kalin, Boura and German Chancellery Foreign and Security Policy Adviser Jens Ploetner, after weeks-long tensions between Ankara and Athens.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Athens in October and called for closer dialogue between Türkiye and Greece to solve bilateral problems and de-escalate tensions in the Mediterranean.

He said good neighborly relations between Ankara and Athens are vital not only for the two countries but for Europe and NATO.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Russia to give Iran advanced military components in exchange for drones, says UK

December 20, 2022

LONDON: Britain accused Russia of planning to give Iran advanced military components in exchange for hundreds of drones, British defense minister Ben Wallace said on Tuesday, calling on the West to do more to expose the trade.

“Iran has become one of Russia’s top military backers,” Wallace told parliament as part of a statement on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“In return for having supplied more than 300 kamikaze drones, Russia now intends to provide Iran with advanced military components, undermining both Middle East and international security — we must expose that deal. In fact, I have, just now.”

Wallace did not provide detail on the type of military components he said Russia wanted to give Iran. The Russian defense ministry and Iran’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

Britain, along with Western allies, has provided military assistance to Ukraine following the invasion, which Russia refers to as a “special operation” to demilitarise its neighbor and rid it of nationalists.

Earlier on Tuesday, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told Iran’s foreign minister that Tehran should immediately halt military support for Russia.

Iran has acknowledged sending drones to Russia but said they were sent before Moscow invaded Ukraine in February. Moscow has denied its forces used Iranian drones in Ukraine.

On Monday, Russia attacked Ukraine with dozens of “kamikaze” drones, hitting critical infrastructure in and around Kyiv in what was Moscow’s third air attack on the Ukrainian capital in less than a week.

“Kamikaze” or “suicide” drones are cheaply produced, disposable unmanned aircraft that fly toward their target before plummeting at speed and detonating on impact.

Source: Arab News

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Southeast Asia


Politics and Islam bring Indonesian compromise on criminal code

20 December,2022

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia’s new criminal code has grabbed headlines for making sex outside marriage illegal but Islamic parties wanted even harsher punishment for moral crimes in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, accounts of behind-the-scenes negotiations reveal.

The so-called morality code is just one part of the legislative overhaul that the Indonesian parliament ratified this month, a 226-page set of new laws that critics say threaten civil liberties, but officials defend as reflective of Indonesia’s identity.

Behind the scenes, secular nationalist parties holding a majority in parliament opposed the tighter laws on morality but risked being branded supportive of adultery if they remained unyielding in their opposition.

What resulted was a compromise between political parties and the government, said Taufik Basari, a member of the parliamentary commission overseeing the changes.

"We found a middle ground, not only between nationalists and religious parties but also between progressive liberals and conservatives," he said.

The world’s third-largest democracy has a tradition of pluralism and moderate Islam, although more conservative interpretations of Islam have gained ground since the fall of authoritarian leader Suharto in 1998.

The new criminal code, decades in the making and created to replace a colonial-era set of laws, includes articles that ban insulting the president and state institutions, and spreading views counter to the state ideology, known as Pancasila.

The United Nations has warned the laws threaten media freedom, privacy and human rights.


The morality laws have, not surprisingly, drawn the most attention and criticism but some officials said they would have been even stricter if the religious parties had their way.

Islamic parties had called for a maximum jail term of seven years for sex outside marriage, and for anyone to be able to report a suspected offence, said sources familiar with the discussions.

With negotiations deadlocked until late November, the religious parties called for a parliamentary vote, something the nationalist parties were reluctant to see as it would have meant every party having to reveal its stand in parliament, and potentially to the public, said Muhammad Nasir Djamil of the Islamic Solidarity Party.

"This issue is very sensitive among religious people," he said.

In forming the laws, a team of legal professors had turned to Indonesia’s official dictionary, which defines adultery as any sex outside marriage, not just extramarital sex.

That definition is now law.

Other articles criminalise cohabitation between unmarried couples, promoting contraception to minors, and abortion, apart from cases linked to rape or a medical emergency.

"Indonesia was trying to make its own code, based on its values," said University of Indonesia law professor Harkristuti Harkrisnowo, part of the drafting team.


None of the nationalist parties, which dominate the ruling coalition, favoured the morality clauses but eventually agreed to the watered-down version, said President Joko Widodo’s deputy chief of staff, Jaleswari Pramodhawardani.

The compromise reached in the final version carries a maximum one-year sentence for sex outside marriage and six months for cohabitation. Suspected offences can only be reported by a spouse, parent or child, which officials hope will prevent police raids and finger-pointing by moral crusaders.

"This was the best we could do ... It was a win-win solution, a middle ground," said Taufik. "The article is still there, but we included some tight limitations."

The new laws come into effect in three years and the largely muted public response indicates they are unlikely to threaten political stability.

Jokowi, as the president is known, is constitutionally barred from running again in the 2024 election but ahead of the polls, support for the morality laws carries a political advantage, analysts said.

"Nationalist parties were thinking ahead to the 2024 election," said Greg Fealy of the Australian National University.

"They want to defuse potential Islamist attacks upon them."

If the Islamic parties largely got what they wanted on sex, the government and its allies got some of what they wanted too, parliamentary and government sources said.

A contentious article that outlaws insulting the dignity of the president was reintroduced by the government, said law professor Harkristuti, despite a similar law being annulled by the constitutional court for being undemocratic.

That offence, which sources said was not supported by Jokowi himself, can only be reported by the president.

The government was also able to include a last-minute adjustment in its favour to a law banning the spread of values counter to the state ideology, without public consultation, said two sources involved.

Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch said both sides got what they wanted at a cost to rights.

Source: Dunya News

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Can Japan, moving closer to Israel, preserve its neutral reputation in the Middle East peace process?


December 20, 2022

TOKYO: Japan’s reputation as a neutral actor in the Middle East peace process continues to suffer as it tries to forge a close defense relationship with Israel. Diplomats say Tokyo is taking a visibly softer stance with regard to aggressive Israeli policies and the annexation of Arab lands by force.

The perceived policy shift by the key Asian economic power is understandably causing concern among not only Palestinians, but also people across the entire Arab world. Veteran Likud politician Benjamin Netanyahu has less than two days to tell President Isaac Herzog he is ready to put together Israel’s 37th government.

In the new Israeli coalition government, Itamar Ben-Gvir, a far-right politician, is tipped to head a Police Ministry with expanded powers in the occupied West Bank. Ben-Gvir’s expected role as national security minister has sparked controversy in Israel itself owing to his past support for Meir Kahane, an extremist rabbi, one of whose followers carried out a terror attack in 1994 at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, killing 29 Palestinians and wounding 150 others.

Against this backdrop, Waleed Siam, the Palestinian ambassador to Japan, cautions that there are potential downsides to Tokyo’s is eagerness to boost bilateral cooperation with Israel.

“Of course, Japan is free to do whatever it wants, but such a policy only rewards the Israelis and does not discourage its hostile acts against the Palestinians,” he told Arab News Japan.

Referring to Ben-Gvir, Siam said it is shocking that “one of Israel’s (expected) Cabinet ministers belongs to the infamous Kahane organization, which killed Palestinians who were praying in the Ibrahimi Mosque and in surrounding areas in Hebron.”

This shows that “Israel has no intention of making peace with Palestinians, regardless of its Abraham Accord agreement with other countries, and it has no intention of honoring its two-state solution (pledge),” he said.

Siam describes Netanyahu’s imminent return to power as “devastating news.”

He told Arab News Japan: “We heard Netanyahu say ‘no’ (to establishing a Palestinian state) during his first and second terms as prime minister, and now it is his third term heading an Israeli government, and he is still saying ‘no.’

“The Palestinian leadership has long agreed to the two-state solution with Israel, thus showing great willingness over the years to compromise.

“However, Israel’s expansion of illegal settlements and continued annexation of Palestinian land means that we, the Palestinians, are living under an apartheid military regime that has been systematically oppressing, brutalizing and discriminating against us.”

Siam said that by allowing Jewish settlers to inflict violence on Palestinians, evicting Palestinians and demolishing their houses, as well as annexing Palestinian neighborhoods, Israel has demonstrated that it “does not respect international law or UN resolutions.”

As long as the “world rewards Israel, cooperates with Israel and opens its markets to Israel, Israelis will have no incentive to do anything about the two-state solution,” Siam added. “Based on that, I believe the international community must be considered responsible for enabling Israel’s daily illegal acts against Palestinians.”

In Siam’s opinion, the fault lies with the international community for failing to enforce relevant UN resolutions. “We hope and appeal, in the strongest possible terms, that they reflect on appropriate measures to bring the Israelis into compliance,” he told Arab News.

Mohammad Shtayyeh, the Palestinian prime minister, recently played down the significance of the election loss seven weeks ago of Israel’s big-tent government to Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc.

“The difference between the Israeli parties is the same as the difference between Pepsi and Coke,” Shtayyeh was quoted as saying by Palestinian media. “We were under no illusions that the Israeli election would produce a partner for peace.”

He said that gains by far-right Israeli religious parties in the national election were “a natural result of the growing manifestations of extremism and racism in Israeli society.”

On Tuesday, Yoshimasa Hayashi, Japan’s foreign minister, said: “We’re strongly asking the Israeli government to refrain from acts to change the status quo unilaterally.

“Generally speaking, under international law, territory occupied by force and unilaterally annexed is not permitted. From this perspective, Japan has maintained its position not to recognize the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights. That’s been a consistent position of Japan. So, concerning the Israeli-Palestine conflict, it should be a two-state solution that the parties involved (should aim to achieve) through negotiations.”

Incidentally, Japan established the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” initiative, aimed at facilitating the economic self-reliance of Palestine through regional cooperation with Japan, Israel and Jordan.

Japan has extended assistance to Palestinians based on three principles: First, a political approach to the two sides; second, assistance for Palestinian state-building efforts; and third, confidence-building measures between the two sides.

As of June 2022, Japan’s assistance amounted to $2.21 billion since 1993, including assistance to Palestine refugees and aid in response to the situation in the Gaza Strip.

Japan has separately provided $23 million in humanitarian support and reconstruction assistance to Gaza.

By 2021, 18 Palestinian private companies were operating in the flagship Jericho Agro-Industrial Park project. In addition, Japan is mobilizing the resources and economic development knowledge of East Asian countries to support Palestinian nation-building through the Conference on Cooperation among East Asian countries for Palestinian Development.

While the basic elements of the Japanese approach to the Middle East peace process may not have changed, there are recent signs of an increasing admiration for Israel in Tokyo driven by self-interest.

“Israel excels in developing advanced technology and innovation, and (it) holds importance for the Japanese economy and the stability of the Middle East,” the Japanese Foreign Ministry in Tokyo said in its 2022 foreign policy report.

It added: “Israel attracted worldwide attention in 2021 as a leading country in COVID-19 vaccinations. The country became the first in the world to begin offering a third dose of vaccinations to the general public.”

The foreign ministers of Japan and Israel kicked off the Tohoku-Israel Startup Global Challenge Program in July 2021, while Benny Gantz, the former Israeli defense minister, held a meeting with his Japanese counterpart earlier this year and agreed on new military and security cooperation.

Observers say that by supporting the Abraham Accords, which are bringing some Arab states closer to Israel, the Japanese government is portraying itself as a guarantor of the region’s stability and beyond. But not all experts agree on this point.

“The Japanese government is not considering supporting the current trend (the Abraham accords) because it would jeopardize its impartiality,” a Japanese expert in Middle East issues told Arab News Japan.

“However, one school of opinion does hold that such an approach is in line with Tokyo’s aim of achieving reconciliation between Arabs and Israelis.”

According to another expert on Japan-Israeli relations, Japan is moving closer to Israel’s side as security and self-defense grows in importance for Tokyo.

“Palestinians can’t help Japan with its security requirements but Israel can,” he told Arab News Japan.

Source: Arab News

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China’s UN envoy slams Israeli regime’s settler-colonialism, unabated crimes in Palestine

20 December 2022

China's permanent representative to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, has reaffirmed his country's support to the Palestinian people against the apartheid Israeli regime, blasting the Tel Aviv regime for its settler colonialism in the occupied territories.

Speaking at the UN Security Council session on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, the Chinese envoy said his country "opposes the excessive use of force by (Israeli) forces", calling for holding those responsible for the violations accountable.

He also noted that 2022 has been the deadliest year for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since 2005.

"The occupying power should effectively fulfill its obligations under international law to ensure the security of people in the occupied territories," Zhang said.

The envoy also stressed that Beijing supports the resumption of so-called "peace talks" between the Palestinians and the Israeli regime.

"We call on all parties to show their conscience to uphold justice and fulfill their commitments with actions," Zhang said, calling on the UN to take "substantive steps" to support the Palestinian people "in restoring and exercising their inalienable rights."

Zhang noted that the Israeli regime's settlement expansion "encroaches on Palestinian land and resources, squeezes the living space of the Palestinian people, and violates the Palestinian right to self-determination, making a contiguous, independent, and sovereign Palestinian state even more elusive", urging the regime to stop all its settlement construction activities.

Earlier this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping affirmed his country’s support for Palestine’s efforts to gain full membership in the United Nations.

“We firmly support the establishment of a fully sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital,” Xi said during his visit to Saudi Arabia.

He said it was "not possible to continue the historical injustice suffered by the Palestinians".

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state, with East al-Quds as its capital. The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement expansion.

Source: Press TV

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