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Islamic World News ( 21 Oct 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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French Paper Threatened Over Prophet Muhammad Cartoons, Muslims Believe Any Depiction of the Prophet to Be Blasphemous


New Age Islam News Bureau

22 October 2020

  

Demonstrators pay tribute to history teacher Samuel Paty in Paris on Sunday. (AP pic)

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• Bangladesh Sanskrit Professor Gets Death Threat from a Wahhabi Islamist Group

• Israeli Delegation Travels to Sudan to Discuss Normalization in Rare Visit

• No, Muslims Will Not Surpass Hindu Population In India Anytime Soon

• Two Parallel Governments Control Pakistan: Former PM Nawaz Sharif

• Supreme Leader: Muslims Never to Accept Disgrace of Compromise with Zionist Regime

 

Europe

• French Paper Threatened Over Prophet Muhammad Cartoons, Muslims Believe Any Depiction of the Prophet to Be Blasphemous

• France bans Islamist group after killing of teacher

• NATO Secretary-General: Taliban Should Reduce ‘Violence’

• In defiance, Turkey extends exploration in disputed Mediterranean waters to Oct 27

• Turkey says it will send troops to help Azerbaijan if requested

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South Asia

• Bangladesh Sanskrit Professor Gets Death Threat from a Wahhabi Islamist Group

• Call To Recognise Genocide Ahead Of UN Rohingya Donor Meeting

• At least 25 Afghan security personnel killed by Taliban

• Rohingya Crisis among Worst Tragedies in Modern Times, Senior Turkish Diplomat Says

• 21 Security Forces Killed in Embattled Takhar Province

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Africa

• Israeli Delegation Travels to Sudan to Discuss Normalization in Rare Visit

• It’s in Sudan’s best interest to make peace with Israel, says Pompeo

• Libyan warring sides agree to open air, land routes: UN Envoy

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India

• No, Muslims Will Not Surpass Hindu Population In India Anytime Soon

• Congress Leader Mohiuddin Bava Leader Threatened For Entering a Temple in Mangaluru

• Pakistan's Ex-Major General Admits To The Country's Role In Kashmir Conflict In New Book

• Pakistan using Chinese drones to recce Indian border areas

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Pakistan

• Two Parallel Governments Control Pakistan: Former PM Nawaz Sharif

• Political Crisis in Pakistan Deepens After Police, Army Dispute

• Pakistan will not be able to escape FATF grey-list: Afghan lawmaker

• All institutions should respect law of land: Muqam

• Govt again requests UK govt to deport Nawaz

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Mideast

• Supreme Leader: Muslims Never to Accept Disgrace of Compromise with Zionist Regime

• Israeli Minister Predicts A Normalization Deal With Sudan Before US Election

• Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: Armenia’s President slams Turkey in visit to NATO

• Turkey says it will send troops to help Azerbaijan if requested

• Turkey trial begins into 2015 killing of Kurdish human rights lawyer

• Iran tests air defense systems days after UN arms embargo expires

• Jailed Iranian human rights lawyer moved to new prison despite health concerns

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Southeast Asia

• Zahid Calls For ‘Political Ceasefire’, Orders Umno to Back Perikatan Govt Amid Covid-19 Economic Woes

• Kit Siang: Why did Zahid capitulate after 30 days of ‘Malaysian Game of Thrones’?

• Umno to decide on Perikatan tomorrow, says Tajuddin Abdul Rahman

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Arab world

• Saudi Arabia: Kingdom Supports Lebanon, Beirut Needs Reform, Impartial Govt

• US Embassy Found Guilty of Deadly Attack against Residential Areas in Baghdad

• Lebanon’s Hezbollah says it does not nominate anyone for PM post

• There will be no change in US policy toward Syria for release of Americans: Pompeo

• Government-held areas of Syria raise fuel prices, blaming US sanctions

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North America

• US intelligence agencies say Iran, Russia have tried to interfere in 2020 election

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/french-paper-threatened-over-prophet-muhammad-cartoons-muslims-believe-any-depiction-of-the-prophet-to-be-blasphemous/d/123232

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 French Paper Threatened Over Prophet Muhammad Cartoons, Muslims Believe Any Depiction of the Prophet to Be Blasphemous

October 21, 2020

 

Demonstrators pay tribute to history teacher Samuel Paty in Paris on Sunday. (AP pic)

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PARIS: French regional newspaper La Nouvelle Republique has received threats on social media after it published a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad on its front page, one of its journalists said on Wednesday.

On Oct 18, the Nouvelle Republique paper republished an earlier satirical drawing of the Prophet Muhammad from magazine Charlie Hebdo, to highlight the threat from Islamic extremists, following last week’s murder of French teacher Samuel Paty.

The journalist, Christophe Herigault, told BFM TV on Wednesday that while the vast majority had given the paper’s front page a positive reaction, as a defence of freedom of speech and democracy, a small number had issued threats against the paper.

“There were four or five threats, notably on Facebook, which has led us to lodge a judicial complaint, as a matter of principle,” Herigault told BFM TV.

Officials at the local police department could not immediately be reached.

Paty was beheaded in broad daylight outside his school in a Paris suburb by an 18-year old suspected Islamist, after he had shown his pupils cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a class on freedom of expression, angering a number of Muslim parents.

Muslims believe any depiction of the Prophet to be blasphemous.

Police subsequently shot dead the attacker.

Paty’s murder has shocked France, and carried echoes of the attack five years ago on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, after the magazine had also published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2015.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2020/10/21/french-paper-threatened-over-prophet-muhammad-cartoons/

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Bangladesh Sanskrit Professor Gets Death Threat from A Wahhabi Islamist Group

Oct 22, 2020

An assistant professor at Chittagong University has said he has got death threats from a “Wahhabi Islamist” group, a twist in the pattern of such threats earlier being made against bloggers and writers who criticised intolerance and religious fundamentalism in Bangladesh. The “death threat” sparked student protests on Wednesday.

Sanskrit professor Kushal Baran Chakraborty has said he received the messages in his Facebook mailbox from the account of one “Syed Shahzad”.

Chakraborty lodged a complaint with the Hathazari police on October 18 after getting a series of audio messages the night before that stated 10,000 youths were ready for orders to “kill people like you in a bushfire”.

The audio warned Chakraborty against “trying to build Ram Rajya in Bangladesh” and announced a plan to turn Bangladesh into “another Pakistan”. “I floated an organisation for Hindu students in 2010 to take up their problems. It has 1.5 lakh members.... The Wahhabi group couldn’t take it,” he said. Earlier, the targets of Islamist groups were mainly atheist bloggers such as Asif Mohiuddin, science writer Ananta Bijoy Das, and US citizen Avijit Roy.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/bangladesh-professor-gets-death-threat-from-islamist-group/articleshow/78799547.cms

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Israeli Delegation Travels To Sudan To Discuss Normalization In Rare Visit

22 October 2020

 

FILE PHOTO: An Israeli flag and an American flag fly at Abu Dhabi International Airport before the arrival of Israeli and U.S. officials, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates August 31, 2020. REUTERS/Christoper PikeREUTERS

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An Israeli delegation made a rare visit to Sudan on Wednesday to discuss normalizing ties, Israeli public broadcaster Kan radio said, as a minister predicted a possible diplomatic breakthrough between the two countries.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen told Israel's Channel 13 News that he believed Israel was "very close to normalizing ties with Sudan".

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

Kan radio gave no further details about the discussions held in Khartoum. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office and the Israeli Foreign Ministry declined to comment when asked about prospects for a breakthrough with Sudan.

In a foreign-policy flourish ahead of his re-election bid, top aides to US President Donald Trump this week escorted Israeli delegates to Bahrain and UAE delegates to Israel, cementing Israel's new, US-brokered relations with the Gulf states.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that the United States had begun the process of removing Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism and was also working "diligently" to get Khartoum to recognize Israel.

Pompeo stopped short of saying Sudan's removal would be linked to whether it would agree to normalize relations with Israel. Sudanese sources have not indicated so far that normalization talks were far advanced.

Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis said that the United States would announce another deal establishing ties between Israel and an Arab or Muslim country before the US election.

"I have a reasonable basis to believe that the announcement will come before Nov. 3 - that, if you'll permit me, is what I understand from my sources," Akunis told Israel's Army Radio.

Akunis said several countries were candidates to normalize relations with Israel. He did not name these, saying that it was "customary" to let the first official word come from Washington.

But US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman did not indicate any imminent diplomatic breakthrough.

"More nations that are in the Arab League will normalize and make peace with Israel, I have no doubt, it is a certainty. How many, in what order, I think everyone is just going to have to wait and see," he told a conference hosted by Israel Hayom newspaper and the Kohelet Policy Forum think-tank.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/10/22/Israeli-delegation-travels-to-Sudan-to-discuss-normalization-in-rare-visit

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No, Muslims Will Not Surpass Hindu Population In India Anytime Soon

Jyoti Dwivedi

October 22, 2020

A Twitter screenshot of a large number of Muslims offering namaaz on the street is viral on social media. The place is so crowded that some can be seen offering Namaz on the top of a bus. The text in the screenshot says Muslims constitute 30 per cent of India's population.

The screenshot has been posted with a caption saying, "They're the second-largest majority. When they become largest, you won't find Hindus here. The country will become like Pakistan and Bangladesh. They'll implement Sharia in place of Constitution and become an Islamic country in no time."

India Today Anti Fake News War Room (AFWA) has found that as per Census 2011, Muslims were 14.2 per cent of India's population. There is no study to prove that Muslims comprise 30 per cent of India's population. Also, the picture being shared with the claim is not from India but Bangladesh.

The claim is quite viral on Facebook and Twitter. The archived version can be seen here.

Muslim population in India

We did not find any research data or news report that says the percentage of Muslims in India is 30 per cent. According to Census 2011, the percentage of Muslims in India was 14.2 per cent.

By 2050, the percentage of Muslims in India is expected to be around 18.4 per cent, as per a report by US-based Pew Research Center. This means even 30 years later, the Muslim population in India is not expected to come close to 30 per cent. The same report predicts that the Hindu population in India would be around 76.7 per cent by 2050.

The annual growth rate of Muslim and Hindu population in India is 2.2 per cent and 1.55 per cent respectively, according to a report by "LiveMint". This data is based on Census 2011.

Tracing the viral image

We found that the viral picture shows the proceedings of a religious event called 'Ijtema' held in Tongi, Bangladesh. This is the second largest Muslim gathering in the world after Haj.

Reverse-searching the viral image, we found it was used in reports by "HuffPost", "Business Insider" and "New York Post".

In "HuffPost", the picture caption says, "People at Prayer Ijtema is the second largest Muslim gatherings in the world after Haj. The gatherings is so huge that people did not get place at the field to pray Juma prayer and sited themselves at road."

Thus, it is clear that the claim of India having a Muslim population of 30 per cent lacks evidence. Also, the picture of Muslims offering prayers on the street in large numbers is from Tongi in Bangladesh.

https://www.indiatoday.in/fact-check/story/fact-check-viral-post-muslim-population-india-1733926-2020-10-22

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Two parallel governments control Pakistan: Former PM Nawaz Sharif

Oct 21, 2020

LONDON: Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that the overall situation in Pakistan is volatile and two parallel governments control the country.

He did not define these two governments but said; "A situation of 'state above state' exists in the country which creates confusion and is not in the interest of the nation and public."

Talking to journalists outside the office of his eldest son Hussain Nawaz in central London on Tuesday, he said that whatever has happened in Karachi is enough to prove what "I had been saying for a long time."

"There is no need to seek further proofs and evidence to prove the lawlessness in the country. Enough is enough. I never say a word without facts and figures. Whatever I say, it is based on facts and experience," he said.

Referring to the arrest of his son-in-law Captain Safdar Awan at a five-star hotel in Karachi on Monday morning, Nawaz Sharif commented that everyone knows who picked him up from hotel room, who arrested him by force and who registered an illegal FIR against him. "These facts can't be ignored easily".

"Whatever happened and the way Safdar Awan was arrested is not and can't be permissible in a civilised society and they have crushed all civilised norms. Every person who knows the facts would understand that whatever I had been telling in my previous four, five speeches are absolutely correct. No one would be in doubt at all now after this incident", he added.

"They have destroyed democracy and democratic institutions, only God knows what would be the future of the country", Nawaz Sharif commented.

The former prime minister who is now a convicted person and living in London for his medical treatment, went on to say that everyone is clear in his mind after watching the developments that occurred in the last few days and believes that he (Nawaz Sharif) speaks the truth and unveils the facts.

Nawaz Sharif also praised the Sindh police and termed the force as brave for lodging the protest against misbehaving and humiliation to IG Police. "Sindh police is an honourable force and their timely reaction and protest is a beacon and good example for other institutions to follow", he commented.

"The arrest of Safdar Awan is condemnable but more deplorable is that they violated the sanctity of privacy. This unethical and illegal action is not permissible in any religion and civilized society. They broke the lock and door of the room and entered inside where a lady was sleeping. Everyone knows who they were and who did this wrongful and illegal deed," he said.

When he was asked about what may be the goals of this action, Nawaz Sharif said that only they themselves can reveal the real aims of this action. "They are afraid why Nawaz Sharif is unveiling the facts and informing the people. I am not scared and will continue to tell the truth. This is my prime duty and will continue to reveal the facts", Nawaz Sharif vowed.

Commenting on Sindh's situation, the former prime minister said that the situation there has become worse and beyond control. "Police officers are leaving their jobs and no know knows now who will control the law and order situation in that province," he said.

He smilingly addressed the newsmen, saying there is no point in talking to them as they will not publish or broadcast his conversation. PEMRA has barred Pakistani TV channels and newspapers from broadcasting or publishing the conversation of Nawaz Sharif as he is a "convicted offender".

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/two-parallel-governments-control-pakistan-former-pm-nawaz-sharif/articleshow/78793346.cms

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Supreme Leader: Muslims Never to Accept Disgrace of Compromise with Zionist Regime

Oct 21, 2020

Ayatollah Khamenei wrote on his Twitter account on Tuesday that Muslim nations, under no circumstances, will accept the abject move of compromising with the usurper Israeli regime, adding that the US will not benefit from pursuing compromising of Arab regimes with Israel and this will not solve the regional problems.

He added that those governments which normalize their ties with Israel will lose their status among their nations.

In relevant remarks in September, Secretariat of Iranian Parliament’s International Conference on Supporting Palestinian Intifada strongly denounced the Bahraini government’s move to normalize ties with Israel, stressing that the move will have no effect on the resistance of the Muslim nations.

“Accepting the humiliation of compromise [with Israel] by the UAE and Bahraini governments will never undermine the determination and resistance of nations in the Islamic world,” the Secretariat said in a statement on Saturday, September 12.

“Hereby, Permanent Secretariat of International Conference on Supporting Palestinian Intifada of the Parliament strongly condemns the surrender of Bahraini regime to the Zionists and Global Arrogance and its compromise with criminal and child-killing Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu,” the statement noted, adding that the act contradicts with the teachings of Islam and legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.

“No doubt, the Palestinian nation will give a decisive response to this betrayal of the mercenary rulers,” the statement read.

“The occupied Palestinian territories and [Holy city of] al-Quds will be liberated by the Palestinians,” the statement reiterated.

“These rulers should know that allowing the Zionist regime to step in the Persian Gulf region will not be a simple and temporary issue. Not only this irrational act will not spread peace and security, it will rather escalate insecurity and instability in the region which will engulf compromisers,” the statement added.

US President Donald Trump tweeted the news of the Israel-Bahrain normalization deal on Friday September 11 after he spoke by phone to Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Following the announcement at the White House, Palestinian officials condemned the Israel-Bahrain normalization deal announced by US President Donald Trump as another "stab in the back" by an Arab state.

September 11 accord normalizing diplomatic ties between Israel and Bahrain comes one month after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) agreed to normalize ties with Israel under a US-brokered deal.

US President Donald Trump on August 13 announced a deal brokered by his government between Israel and the UAE which he said would lead to full normalization of ties between the two.

Critics see the deal as the latest attempt by Trump to save his presidential campaign against the Democrat Joe Biden.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990730000236

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Europe

 

France bans Islamist group after killing of teacher

October 21, 2020

France will ban an Islamist group named after the late Sheikh Yassin as part of a crackdown on militants following the murder of a French schoolteacher last week, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday.

Samuel Paty was beheaded on October 16 by an 18-year-old of Chechen origin seeking to avenge his victim's use of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in a class on freedom of expression. Police shot the attacker dead.

“This is a battle over security, culture and education,” Attal said.

The banned group is named after Sheikh Yassin, a Palestinian Muslim leader and co-founder of the Hamas movement, who was assassinated in 2004. Hamas has denied any links with the French group.

https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/world/france-bans-islamist-group-after-killing-of-teacher/article32909122.ece

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Nato Secretary-General: Taliban Should Reduce ‘Violence’

By Mohammad Haroon Alim

21 Oct 2020

NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg says the Taliban must live up to their promises, significantly reduce violence and pave the way for a lasting truce.

He made the remarks at a video conference ahead of a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels on Wednesday afternoon.

Stoltenberg stressed, that all NATO member states fully support the agreement between the United States and the Taliban and the current process of Intra-Afghan negotiations.

“In Afghanistan, NATO has around 12,000 troops in the Alliance’s biggest mission. As part of the peace process, we have adjusted our presence, any further adjustments remain conditions-based ” Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary-General Said.

NATO’s General Secretary has called on the Taliban to abide by their commitments under the Doha Accord and to reduce tensions significantly in order to pave the way for a ceasefire.

Stoltenberg added that the Taliban should cut ties with al-Qaeda and other international terrorist groups.

https://www.khaama.com/nato-secretary-general-taliban-should-reduce-violence-877675/

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In defiance, Turkey extends exploration in disputed Mediterranean waters to Oct 27

22 October 2020

Turkey said Wednesday it would extend a gas exploration mission in the eastern Mediterranean that has raised hackles in neighboring Greece, defying warnings from Western countries.

The Oruc Reis research vessel had been scheduled to end its work Thursday, but will now remain at sea until October 27, the Turkish navy said in a NAVTEX maritime announcement.

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

Oruc Reis has become the symbol of Ankara's appetite for natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean, where discoveries of significant reserves in recent years has triggered a rush for the so-called "blue gold".

Prospective fortunes to be made have reignited long-smoldering disputes over maritime borders between Turkey and Greece.

Athens says Ankara is breaking international law by prospecting in Greek waters, including near the island of Kastellorizo.

Turkey insists that it is within its rights in the energy-rich Mediterranean region, saying that the tiny island of Kastellorizo shouldn't count for imposing Greek sovereignty.

Oruc Reis' initial deployment in August sparked a weeks-long diplomatic crisis until the ship returned to port last month.

But last week it was sent out again, extinguishing hopes the tensions could be eased.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Wednesday accused Turkey of playing out "imperialist fantasies" in the neighborhood, while his government has asked the EU to look into suspending its customs union with Turkey.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/10/22/In-defiance-Turkey-extends-exploration-in-disputed-Mediterranean-waters-to-Oct-27

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Turkey says it will send troops to help Azerbaijan if requested

21 October 2020

Turkey will not hesitate to send soldiers and provide military support for Azerbaijan if such a request is made by Baku, Vice President Fuat Okaty said on Wednesday, adding there was no such request at the moment.

Earlier, Armenia's prime minister said he saw no possibility of a diplomatic solution at this stage in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan. Turkey has vowed full solidarity with Azerbaijan and has accused Yerevan of occupying Azeri lands.

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

Speaking in an interview with broadcaster CNN Turk, Oktay also criticized the OSCE's Minsk group - formed to mediate the conflict and led by France, Russia and the United States - of trying to keep the issue unresolved and supporting Armenia, both politically and militarily.

Neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in an armed conflict since September 27 over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, killing hundreds of people.

The disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh is an ethnic Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, home to about 150,000 people, which broke from Baku's control in a war in the 1990s that killed some 30,000 people.

Its separatist government is strongly backed – but not officially recognized as independent – by Armenia.

Turkey strongly backs Azerbaijan and Russia has a military treaty with Armenia.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/10/21/Turkey-says-it-will-send-troops-to-help-Azerbaijan-if-requested

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South Asia

 

Call to recognise genocide ahead of UN Rohingya donor meeting

22 Oct 2020

Civil society groups have urged the countries convening a UN-backed Rohingya donor conference to acknowledge that genocide was committed against the ethnic minority in Myanmar, as the United Kingdom announced new funding for the tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees now living in camps in Bangladesh.

With the donor conference due to start later on Thursday, a group of 35 organisations appealed to the US and other countries to acknowledge that what happened in Myanmar constituted genocide.

The August 2017 crackdown that prompted the exodus to Bangladesh is the subject of an ongoing genocide investigation at the United Nations’ top court in The Hague.

In a provisional ruling in January, the court told Myanmar to take emergency measures to protect the Rohingya, saying it had caused “irreparable damage” to their rights.

Myanmar does not recognise the mostly Muslim Rohingya as citizens, even though they have lived in the country for generations. Government officials refuse to even use the term Rohingya.

“A genocide determination would send a sense of urgency to spur the kind of multilateral diplomatic engagement and pressure needed to ensure that Burma (Myanmar) refrains from committing further atrocities against ethnic and religious minorities and, ultimately, creates the conditions conducive to the safe, voluntary, informed and sustainable return of Rohingya refugees to their place of origin,” human rights and refugee groups, including Fortify Rights, Refugees International and the Burma Rohingya Organisation UK, wrote in a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the eve of the conference.

The virtual aid conference starts later on Thursday and is co-hosted by the UK, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), the United States and the European Union.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab outlined a further 47.5 million British pounds ($63 million) in aid for the Rohingya and to help Bangladesh deal with the coronavirus pandemic and its frequent natural disasters.

“Today I urge the world not to turn away from the Rohingya’s suffering and to take the action necessary to allow them to safely return to the homes they fled in terror,” Raab said in a statement.

The UNHCR has appealed for more than $1bn this year to meet the humanitarian needs of the Rohingya refugees, 860,000 of whom are living in sprawling camps across the Cox’s Bazar district in southeastern Bangladesh. In a statement announcing the conference, it said it had received less than half that amount so far.

“The people living in Cox’s Bazar face unimaginable hardship and many have been victims of violence,” Raab said.

“We have imposed sanctions on the perpetrators of this brutality and this new funding will save lives in the camp and help Bangladesh become more resilient to disasters such as coronavirus.”

Solutions

While hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, an estimated 600,000 Rohingya remain inside Myanmar, including in camps set up by the government in Rakhine State following communal unrest in 2012.

Human Rights Watch has described the camps as an open prison, while Marzuki Darusman, chair of the UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar, warned in 2018 that an “ongoing genocide” in Myanmar’s treatment of the minority.

The UN refugee agency is urging the international community and countries in the region to look beyond humanitarian funding and step up efforts to work with Myanmar to find a lasting solution to the crisis.

“The responsibility for creating conditions conducive to the safe and sustainable return of Rohingya rests with Myanmar authorities,” the UNHCR said in a statement.

“This process will need to engage the whole of society, open and enhance the dialogue between the Myanmar authorities and Rohingya refugees and take measures that help build confidence and trust. These include lifting restrictions on freedom of movement, enabling displaced Rohingya to return to their own villages and providing a clear pathway to citizenship.”

The Myanmar military has justified its actions in 2017 as a response to a spate of attacks on police posts in Rakhine by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), an armed group.

It is now battling the Arakan Army (AA), an ethnic Rakhine armed group and the escalating conflict has prompted the authorities to cancel the election – taking place in November – in most parts of the western state.

Britain has sanctioned two Myanmar generals after a UN investigation found them responsible “for atrocities which amount to ethnic cleansing”, according to the British foreign ministry’s statement.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/10/22/uk-gives-63m-for-rohingya-refugees-ahead-of-un-donor-meeting

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At least 25 Afghan security personnel killed by Taliban

21 October 2020

At least 25 Afghan security force personnel were killed in an ambush blamed on the Taliban, officials said Wednesday, as spiraling violence imperils ongoing peace talks.

The ambush came despite assurances by the Taliban to Washington last week that they would reduce bloodshed.

Security forces were attacked overnight Tuesday in Takhar province and fighting was still going on, said Jawad Hejri, a spokesman for the governor, who put the death toll so far at 25.

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

“The Taliban had taken positions in the houses around the area. They ambushed our forces who were there for an operation against the enemy,” he said.

Takhar provincial health director Abdul Qayoum said 34 security personnel had been killed - including the deputy police chief of the province.

The Taliban have so far not commented on the attack.

Despite opening peace talks with the Afghan government in Qatar, the hardline group have only increased violence in Afghanistan in a bid to wield leverage in the negotiations.

A major assault by the Taliban in Helmand province forced thousands of families to flee their homes last week, while a car bomb Sunday near the police headquarters in Ghor blamed on the insurgents left 16 people dead and 154 wounded.

Meetings have been held between Afghan forces and the Taliban in Doha over the past few days, but little progress has been made since the talks launched in September.

“This level of violence, of course, makes the task of negotiating very difficult,” said Nader Naderi, a negotiator for the Afghan government.

“Situations like this add to the sense of urgency for a ceasefire.”

The top US envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said earlier this week that fighting is threatening the peace process.

“Violence today remains distressingly high in spite of the recent reaffirmation of the need for substantial reduction,” he added.

US influence over Afghanistan’s battlegrounds is on the wane, however, with the Pentagon looking to withdraw all its remaining troops by next May.

With US elections less than two weeks away, President Donald Trump is trying to make good on his promise to end America’s longest war and pull back troops even sooner.

It has raised questions about Washington’s insistence that its withdrawal from Afghanistan after 19 years of war is really “conditions-based.”

The Taliban have been quick to exploit the apparent lack of resolve, and began to push for fresh military gains as soon as they signed the withdrawal deal with the US.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/10/21/At-least-25-Afghan-security-personnel-killed-by-Taliban

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Rohingya crisis among worst tragedies in modern times, senior Turkish diplomat says

OCT 21, 2020

The Rohingya crisis is among the gravest tragedies in modern times, a senior Turkish diplomat said Tuesday.

In a ministerial committee meeting on the persecuted Muslim group held by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Deputy Foreign Minister Yavuz Selim Kıran underlined that the U.N. Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the matter had recorded incidents in Myanmar involving "genocidal intentions."

Noting that Turkey has been maintaining efforts to keep up awareness of the issue in the international community, Kıran said via video link that Ankara would never abandon the Rohingya.

He asserted that the group should be allowed to return to their homeland, adding that if this is not possible, they should at least be allowed to go somewhere they prefer.

Stressing the importance of the OIC's role, he said the body should continue its international efforts to keep Myanmar under pressure for a peaceful solution to the problem.

Kıran added that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had given special importance to the matter, calling on OIC members to stand for the search for justice and prove to the world that Rohingya Muslims are not alone.

Last month, addressing the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA), Erdoğan said the Kashmir conflict is key to stability and peace in South Asia.

"Steps taken following the abolition of the special status of (Indian-administered) Jammu-Kashmir further complicated the problem," the president said, referring to a controversial step taken in August 2019.

"We are in favor of solving this issue through dialogue, within the framework of the U.N. resolutions and especially in line with the expectations of the people of Kashmir," he added.

Kıran also called member states to increase their financial contributions to the case on the Rohingya genocide, which is currently being heard at the International Court of Justice (ICT) while maintaining relations with Myanmar to sustain relief efforts for the Muslim group.

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

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

https://www.dailysabah.com/politics/diplomacy/rohingya-crisis-among-worst-tragedies-in-modern-times-senior-turkish-diplomat-says

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21 Security Forces Killed in Embattled Takhar Province

By Mohammad Haroon Alim

21 Oct 2020

Takhar provincial council member said, 21 soldiers, including the provincial security chief, have been killed in fierce fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security forces since last night.

Latifa Saeedi, a member of the Takhar provincial council, told Khaama Press that fighting had been going on for the past few days in the Baharak district of the province and that Afghan forces had suffered casualties since Tuesday.

21 soldiers have been reported KIA the battle, and four soldiers are said to have been still missing in action.

“The government has not cooperated in any way”, adding that “Interior Minister Massoud Andarabi, Chief of Staff Mohammad Yasin Zia and Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) General Scott Miller had visited the province a few days ago, amid their arrival the embattled regions were scheduled for clearance but foreign forces did not allow the operation to take place”. The provincial council member said.

Meanwhile, Jawad Hijri, spokesman for the Takhar governor, told Khaama Press that eight soldiers, including a security official, were killed in the clashes, however, clashes are still ongoing in the region.

He added that the Taliban had also suffered heavy casualties, but were not clearly known to him.

https://www.khaama.com/21-security-forces-killed-in-takhar-battle-since-tuesday-night-987866/

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Africa

 

It’s in Sudan’s best interest to make peace with Israel, says Pompeo

21 October 2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday he hoped Sudan will soon recognize Israel as Washington moved to remove the Arab country as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Pompeo said that the United States wanted every nation “to recognize Israel, the rightful Jewish homeland, to acknowledge their fundamental right to exist as a country.”

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

“We are working diligently with them to make the case for why that’s in the Sudanese government’s best interest to make that sovereign decision,” Pompeo told reporters.

“We hope that they’ll do that, and we hope that they’ll do that quickly.”

Trump announced Monday that the United States would remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, a major goal of the year-old civilian-backed government.

Seeing leverage, the Trump administration had asked Sudan to look at normalizing relations with Israel, a close US ally and signature cause for Trump’s evangelical Christian base ahead of Nov. 3 elections.

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain last month announced an agreement at the White House to recognize Israel, a coup for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Sudan was designated a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993 after then dictator Omar al-Bashir welcomed Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.

To exit the blacklist, which has severely impeded investment, the cash-strapped nation agreed to pay $335 million to survivors and victims’ families from Al-Qaeda twin bombings in 1998 of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Pompeo said that the United States had “begun the process” of the delisting. Congress then has 45 days in which it can raise objections.

“We think that there will be enormous bipartisan consensus that that’s the right thing to do,” Pompeo said.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/10/21/It-s-in-Sudan-s-best-interest-to-make-peace-with-Israel-says-Pompeo

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Libyan warring sides agree to open air, land routes: UN Envoy

21 October 2020

Libya's warring parties have agreed to open air and land routes in the country, according to the UN's acting envoy to the country Stephanie Williams.

Williams said on Wednesday she was "quite optimistic" that talks between the warring sides would lead to a lasting ceasefire after they agreed to reopen land and air routes between them.

Speaking at a news conference, she said the two sides meeting in Geneva this week had also agreed to maintain "the current state of calm on the front lines and to avoid any military escalation."

The meetings make up the security aspect of three-track talks, also involving political and economic tracks, that are aimed to lift Libya out of its grueling conflict that has ground on nearly ever since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Control of the country is currently split between the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and the rival Libyan National Army (LNA).

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2020/10/21/Libya-conflict-Libyan-warring-sides-agree-to-open-air-land-routes-UN-Envoy

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India

 

Congress Leader Mohiuddin Bava Leader Threatened For Entering a Temple In Mangaluru

Nolan Pinto

October 21, 2020

Congress leader Mohiuddin Bava was threatened by a caller on Monday for having taken part in Hindu rituals. The caller who identified himself as Anil from Mumbai raised objections to the leader entering a temple.

Bava was invited by the priest of Gurupura Ambika Annapoorneshwari temple in Mangaluru's Bajpe to take part in the start of the Navaratri rituals on Sunday.

In the audio conversation, the caller can be heard threatening Bava saying, “It's not Nehru era, it's a Modi era. A Muslim should not go to the temple, a beef eater and Muslim should not visit a temple.” Bava can also be heard telling the caller that he was invited to attend the function and that there was nothing wrong with him going over there.

“I have never differentiated between communities. I have not been brought up that way. I visited the temple upon being invited by the priest, I was even told I was fortunate to have taken part in the rituals. The next day I got this call from the man who began threatening me, he asked me why I visited a temple being a Muslim and that this is the era of Modiji and not Nehru. I have informed the Panambur Police about the matter,” Bava said.

A case has now been taken up by the Panambur Police who are investigating the matter.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/congress-muslim-leader-threatened-for-entering-a-temple-in-mangaluru-1733826-2020-10-21

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Pakistan's Ex-Major General Admits To The Country's Role In Kashmir Conflict In New Book

Oct 21, 2020

ISLAMABAD: "On October 26 (1947), the Pakistani forces captured Baramula where only 3,000 survived out of 14,000. The troops were now only 35 miles from Srinagar when the Maharaja (Hari Singh) sent his papers of accession to Delhi asking for help": these are the excerpts from a book published in 1975, Raiders in Kashmir, penned by Major General (retired) Akbar Khan of Pakistan.

The book released decades after Pakistan's Operation Gulmarg in Jammu and Kashmir admits to the role of Pakistan in the conflicts in the valley.

Giving out minute details of Pakistan's aggression in Kashmir, he said that the crisis was hatched and formulated in Lahore and Pindi.

The author wrote that at the beginning of September 1947, he was asked by Mian Iftikharuddin, then a leader in the Muslim League (the ruling political party) to prepare a plan to take over Kashmir.

"Ultimately, I wrote a plan under the title of "Armed Revolt inside Kashmir". As open interference or aggression by Pakistan was obviously undesirable, it was proposed that our efforts should be concentrated upon strengthening the Kashmiris themselves internally -- and at the same time taking steps to prevent the arrival of armed civilians or military assistance from India into Kashmir," Khan said.

Giving proof of top leaderships' role in the crisis, he said, "I was called to Lahore for a conference with the prime minister of Pakistan Mr Liaqat Ali Khan. On arrival there, I first had to attend a preliminary conference at the Provincial Government Secretariat in the office of Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan who was then a minister in the Punjab government. I saw copies of my proposed plan in the hands of some..."

"On October 22, the operation began with Pakistani forces crossing the border and attacking Muzaffarabad and Domel on October 24 from where the Dogra troops had to withdraw. The next day these troops moved forward on the Srinagar road and again took on the Dogras at Uri... On October 27, India intervened and sent troops to Kashmir," he wrote.

Meanwhile, on the evening of October 27, Pakistan Prime Minister held a conference at Lahore to consider the situation arising out of Kashmir's accession and India's military intervention.

"The Prime Minister held an unofficial conference at Lahore to consider the situation arising out of Kashmir's accession and India's military intervention. At this conference, among others, were also present Colonel Iskander Mirza (then defence secretary, later to be a governor-general), Chaudhri Mohd All (then secretary-general, later to be a prime minister), Abdul Qayum Khan, then chief minister of the Frontier Province and Nawab Mamdot, then CM of Punjab. Brigadier Slier Khan and I were also invited," the author wrote.

He further said, "At this conference, I proposed that an attempt should be made to liquidate Jammu in order to block the only road, along which India could send reinforcements into the valley and the rest of Kashmir. I did not suggest that troops be used for this purpose or that the government should get involved in this. I suggested only that tribesmen may be allowed to make the attempt. I thought that three lashkars of a thousand each should be used."

In the book, he also testified that the Pakistani Army had worked with the tribal forces in various incursions in Kashmir.

After being appointed as the military adviser to the prime minister, on October 28, 1947, he had "rushed back to Pindi to ensure that the tribesmen received their ammunition in time".

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistans-ex-major-general-admits-to-the-countrys-role-in-kashmir-conflict-in-new-book/articleshow/78795814.cms

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Pakistan using Chinese drones to recce Indian border areas

Oct 21, 2020

GURDASPUR: Border Security Force (BSF) on Wednesday foiled Pakistan’s attempt to conduct recce of areas near the border with India using Chinese drones, and opened fire on a drone spotted flying over Indian territory in the Gurdaspur sector.

While talking to TOI, BSF deputy inspector general (DIG), Gurdaspur sector Rajesh Sharma informed that a patrolling party of BSF had spotted a drone that had arrived from Pakistan and was flying over the Indian territory. “Immediately, the jawans opened fire on the drone following which it flew back to Pakistan territory,” he said.

In the past, Pakistan-based militants belonging to Khalistan Zindabad Force, with the help of ISI, had successfully dropped arms and ammunition in border villages of Amritsar and Tarn Taran. The investigations had revealed that as many as 8 sorties of drones were made from across the border in five days in August and September 2019. The National Investigation Agency had filed charges against nine militants in connection with arms dropping case. In January, Punjab police had also arrested an Army Naik who was allegedly involved in procuring and supplying drones to cross-border smugglers, besides training to fly them.

Intelligence sources here informed that the Pakistan government had in recent past procured a large quantity of drones from China and they were now using them to carry out a recce on Indian border areas to airdrop arms, ammunition, and narcotics.

“These drones fly at the height of around 300 to 400 meters and are not visible with naked eyes at that height. The drop locations are pre-fed into them and their coordinates are given to the recipients who can collect the contrabands from the exact position” said sources, adding that they were not sure whether Pak-based terrorist organizations had successfully made any arms or narcotics drop attempt in the recent past on Indian territory.

“But with their continuous attempts, it seems they have intensified anti-India operations” said sources.

DIG reluctantly informed that during last week Pak drones had crossed the Indian territory three to four times and every time they had fired upon the drones. He said they had lodged a protest with Pakistan Rangers but they denied that the drone had originated from Pakistan territory.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistan-using-chinese-drones-to-recce-indian-border-areas/articleshow/78791661.cms

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Pakistan

 

Political crisis in Pakistan deepens after police, army dispute

Oct 21, 2020

NEW DELHI: A high-profile kidnapping of a police chief in Pakistan — allegedly by official paramilitary troops — has signaled deepening of the political turmoil in a country bracing for further opposition protests aimed at ousting Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The paramilitary troops, known as the rangers, are accused of raiding the house of Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar, the inspector general of police in southern Sindh province. They kidnapped him and forced him to sign an order to arrest an opposition leader, Safdar Awan, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, a spokesman for Bilawal Bhutto Zardari — whose opposition party rules the state — said on Dunya TV Tuesday.

While Khan’s pro-military government has not yet addressed the issue, army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa ordered an inquiry. A spokesman for the prime minister was not immediately available for comment.

The unprecedented incident, where almost all top ranking police officers of the province sought leave for being “ridiculed,” provides a window into the turmoil in Pakistan which is the worst since Khan came into power about two years ago.

Pakistan protests gain momentum, putting Khan under pressure

An alliance of 11 top opposition parties is already holding a series of nationwide rallies seeking Khan’s ouster over food shortages and inflation as well as demanding that the military stop meddling in politics.

The army, which has directly ruled Pakistan for about half of its existence since 1947, has historically played a key role in foreign and national security policy. Lately, it has expanded its role during the current government’s tenure. The army and the judiciary cannot be criticized publicly under Pakistan’s constitution.

Since the incident, police chief Mahar ordered his officers to delay their leaves until the completion of the separate probe ordered by the army and the state government, the Sindh police posted on Twitter late Tuesday night.

The alleged kidnapping happened on Monday before the police arrested Safdar Awan — the husband of Maryam Nawaz Sharif, the daughter and political heir of three time prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Awan, who was charged for raising political slogans during a visit to the tomb of the nation’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Karachi, secured a bail from Sindh High Court.

It follows the arrest of journalists and opposition leaders, some who’ve been charged with treason by Khan’s government for criticizing the army.

Khan ‘worried’

Analysts have long seen army support as critical for Khan’s party, which holds just 46% of the seats in parliament and relies on smaller coalition partners to stay afloat.

A survey by Gallup Pakistan last month found 47% hold Khan’s government responsible for destroying the economy, while 41% disagreed. A majority of 51% agreed the army should stay out of politics, while 40% said it has a role in politics and overall management of the country, the survey found.

Khan’s “body language” shows he is worried, according to Shaista Tabassum, a political analyst from Karachi.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/political-crisis-in-pakistan-deepens-after-police-army-dispute/articleshow/78789874.cms

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Pakistan will not be able to escape FATF grey-list : Afghan lawmaker

Oct 21, 2020

WASHINGTON: Despite high-level diplomacy, hiring a top lobbying firm and offering its leverage with the Taliban to the United States for reduction of violence in Afghanistan, Pakistan will not be able to escape the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list, said Mariam Solaimankhail, a member of Afghanistan parliament.

The FATF, the global money-laundering and terror-financing watchdog, is holding its plenary session from October 21 where it will decide the fate of Pakistan. The country is in grey-list since 2018.

In an opinion piece in US-based magazine 'The Diplomat', Solaimankhail writes: "Despite high-level diplomacy and hiring a top lobbying firm and offering its leverage with the Taliban to the U.S. for reduction of violence in Afghanistan, Pakistan will not be able to escape the grey list this time. But that is simply not enough.

Early this month, the FATF's Asia Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering has kept Pakistan on "Enhanced Follow-up List" for its slow progress on the technical recommendations of the FATF to fight terror financing. Pakistan's progress has remained unchanged -- non-compliant on four counts.

According to the FATF rules, Islamabad must meet at least 13 of the 27 parameters laid down by the watchdog to come out of the "grey list."

While it may have gotten the three votes -- China, Turkey, and Malaysia - needed to escape the blacklist, it would also need approval from 12 out of the FATF's 39 members to exit the "grey list," which it has not been able to get so far, Solaimankhail said.

There is little doubt that the FATF is "unhappy with Pakistan's performance", diplomatic sources monitoring the subject say.

The assessment is that Pakistan is keen to somehow retain its position on the grey list and not be dragged to the blacklist that brings serious economic repercussions.

Beyond stepping up its lobbying efforts, the Afghan lawmaker said that Pakistan has also taken care that it does not annoy the United States amidst a toxic election campaign. The Pakistan Supreme Court has extended by three months the custody of a suspect in the killing of American journalist Daniel Pearl, accepting an appeal by Pearl's parents for justice, despite the suspect's acquittal by a lower court.

Besides weighing India's complaints along with placating American concerns, the FATF will have to factor in Pakistan's performance in enacting legislation aimed at curbing money flow into terrorism. The unstated part here is that the actual enforcing of these laws would also need to be monitored, she said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-will-not-be-able-to-escape-fatf-grey-list-afghan-lawmaker/articleshow/78787258.cms

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All institutions should respect law of land: Muqam

22 Oct 2020

PESHAWAR/SWABI: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz provincial president Amir Muqam has appreciated the role of the legal fraternity in upholding the rule of law, and stressed that all institutions should respect the law of the land.

Addressing the oath-taking ceremony of the PML-N Lawyers Forum at the Peshawar High Court Bar on Wednesday, he said Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was also a professional lawyer who bravely struggled for creation of Pakistan.

He said the credit for establishment of Pakistan went to the Muslim League as it struggled and achieved a separate homeland for Muslims despite hardships.

He criticised the policies of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government and said despite tall claims Prime Minister Imran Khan had failed to create 10 million jobs and construct five million houses for the poor. He expressed concern over the reports about sacking of 749 employees of Radio Pakistan.

Mr Muqam also condemned the increasing prices of daily use commodities, saying the government was yet to arrest the people involved in the sugar and wheat scams.

Meanwhile, talking to mediapersons at the residence of the party’s Swabi district general secretary Dildar Khan, Mr Muqam asked the government to stop ‘intimidating’ the opposition parties because it was against the democratic principles.

He condemned the arrest of PML-N leader Captain retired Mohammad Safdar in Karachi under a conspiracy.

He said the arrest showed the government’s confusion caused by the growing popularity of the opposition parties among the masses.

The tactics being used against the opposition parties have weakened the democratic institutions, but the PML-N along with other parties will continue to work for strengthening democratic norms, and no one will be allowed to use institutions for their own political purposes, Mr Muqam vowed.

Answering a question, he said registration of ‘fake cases’ against the Sharif family members had enhanced their popularity among the people.

He said the Pakistan Democratic Movement had organised successful gatherings in Gujranwala and Karachi, causing worries for the government how to handle the increasing anti-government sentiment.

He said the PML-N’s planned convention in Swabi on Friday would be a successful event.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1586317/all-institutions-should-respect-law-of-land-muqam

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Govt again requests UK govt to deport Nawaz

22 Oct 2020

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has requested the UK government for a third time to send back former premier and supreme leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) Nawaz Sharif to serve out his sentence in a Pakistani prison, with the letter this time handed over personally to the British High Commissioner in Islamabad, according to sources.

The letter was handed over to the British diplomat some three weeks after Mr Sharif made a fiery speech at the opposition’s multiparty conference (MPC) through video link from London in which he criticised the military establishment over its alleged role in politics.

Through the letter, the Pakistan government has asked the British authorities to consider cancelling Mr Sharif’s visit visa, which has allowed him to live in London on medical grounds since November.

The letter has cited Britain’s own immigration laws of 1974 under which any person sentenced to imprisonment of more than four years had to be deported to the country of his/her origin.

When contacted, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior Shahzad Akbar confirmed that the government had made three requests to the UK authorities to deport Mr Sharif, with the last request made on Oct 5.

The previous letter, he said, had been dispatched after the cancellation of Mr Sharif’s bail by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) last month.

Mr Akbar said in the latest letter his government had pointed to a possible way out of the issue of “specific deportation” of the former premier. “The ball is now in the court of British government,” he said.

The IHC had on Sept 15 issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Mr Sharif in the Al Azizia reference while hearing three applications filed by him, including the ones about forgoing the requirement of his surrender before the court and exemption from personal appearance.

The former prime minister had left for the UK after the Lahore High Court granted him permission to go abroad for medical treatment. He had submitted an undertaking to the court that he would return within four weeks or as soon as he was declared healthy and fit to travel by doctors.

Mr Sharif criticised the military establishment not just at the MPC but also recently at the Gujranwala rally of the opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement.

A day after that PML-N rally in Gujranwala, Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed a convention of his Tiger Force and declared he would get “even more tough” with the opposition and vowed to make all-out efforts to bring Mr Sharif back and send him behind bars.

“Now I will try my best to bring you back and put you in a common prison, not a VIP one,” he said.

Earlier, the APP news agency reported that British newspaper the Financial Times had partially revealed the content of the letter sent by Mr Akbar to Priti Patel, the UK home secretary.

The letter said Ms Patel “is duty-bound” to deport Mr Sharif, to serve his jail sentence for corruption.

In the letter Mr Akbar wrote that the former prime minister was responsible for pillaging the state. “I trust that you will be supportive of our efforts to bring those responsible for corruption to account.”

The letter to Ms Patel urged the British secretary to use her “extensive powers” to deport Mr Sharif, added the newspaper.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1586397/govt-again-requests-uk-govt-to-deport-nawaz

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Mideast

 

Israeli minister predicts a normalization deal with Sudan before US election

21 October 2020

An Israeli official predicted on Wednesday that the United States would announce another deal establishing ties between Israel and an Arab or Muslim country before the US election.

"I have a reasonable basis to believe that the announcement will come before Nov. 3 - that, if you'll permit me, is what I understand from my sources," Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis told Israel's Army Radio.

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In a foreign-policy flourish ahead of his re-election bid, top aides to President Donald Trump this week escorted Israeli delegates to Bahrain and UAE delegates to Israel, cementing Israel's new, US-brokered relations with the Gulf states.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that the United States had begun the process of removing Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism and was also working "diligently" to get Khartoum to recognize Israel.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen told Israel's Channel 13 News that he believed Israel was "very close to normalizing ties with Sudan".

Pompeo stopped short of saying Sudan's removal would be linked to whether it would agree to normalize relations with Israel.

Akunis said several countries were candidates to normalize relations with Israel. He did not name these, saying that it was "customary" to let the first official word come from Washington.

But US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman did not indicate any imminent diplomatic breakthrough.

"More nations that are in the Arab League will normalize and make peace with Israel, I have no doubt, it is a certainty. How many, in what order, I think everyone is just going to have to wait and see," he told a conference hosted by Israel Hayom newspaper and the Kohelet Policy Forum think-tank.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/10/21/Israeli-minister-predicts-a-normalization-deal-with-Sudan-before-US-election

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Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: Armenia’s President slams Turkey in visit to NATO

22 October 2020

Armenia's President Armen Sarkisian used a visit to NATO headquarters on Wednesday to accuse alliance member Turkey of intervening in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg told his guest that NATO, a partner of both Armenia and Azerbaijan, was neutral in the conflict and urged a ceasefire.

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

But Sarkisian complained that Turkey's backing for Azerbaijan had undermined international efforts to mediate peace.

"It looks like sometimes it's no longer the conflict between Republic of Artsakh, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, and Azerbaijan, but there is a third party there as well," he said.

Sarkisian accused Ankara of supporting Azerbaijan "politically, diplomatically, heavily militarily" and repeated a long-standing charge that it had facilitated the deployment of Syrian fighters.

"And unfortunately, that third party is a member of NATO and I being here, I could not speak about that third party -- that third party's Turkey," he said, standing by Stoltenberg.

"So I do believe that if a NATO member country like Turkey will stop being a part of the conflict and will contribute to the ceasefire, and to the understanding that there should be a peaceful solution that we will reach a ceasefire."

Stoltenberg did not address the allegations against Turkey at his appearance with the Armenian leader, and instead urged the two main combatant parties to show restraint.

"Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have been valued NATO partners for more than 25 years. NATO is deeply concerned by ongoing violations of the ceasefire which have caused tragic loss of life," he said.

"It is vital that all sides now show restraint, observe the ceasefire and de-escalate. Any targeting of civilians is unacceptable and must stop all must now work towards a sustainable political solution."

Earlier, Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan had ruled out a diplomatic solution to the conflict with Azerbaijan and urged Armenians to volunteer for military service.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been engaged in fierce fighting for almost a month over Karabakh, a region of Azerbaijan controlled by Armenian separatists.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/10/22/Nagorno-Karabakh-conflict-Armenia-s-President-slams-Turkey-in-visit-to-NATO

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Turkey says it will send troops to help Azerbaijan if requested

21 October 2020

Turkey will not hesitate to send soldiers and provide military support for Azerbaijan if such a request is made by Baku, Vice President Fuat Okaty said on Wednesday, adding there was no such request at the moment.

Earlier, Armenia's prime minister said he saw no possibility of a diplomatic solution at this stage in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan. Turkey has vowed full solidarity with Azerbaijan and has accused Yerevan of occupying Azeri lands.

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

Speaking in an interview with broadcaster CNN Turk, Oktay also criticized the OSCE's Minsk group - formed to mediate the conflict and led by France, Russia and the United States - of trying to keep the issue unresolved and supporting Armenia, both politically and militarily.

Neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in an armed conflict since September 27 over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, killing hundreds of people.

The disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh is an ethnic Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, home to about 150,000 people, which broke from Baku's control in a war in the 1990s that killed some 30,000 people.

Its separatist government is strongly backed – but not officially recognized as independent – by Armenia.

Turkey strongly backs Azerbaijan and Russia has a military treaty with Armenia.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/10/21/Turkey-says-it-will-send-troops-to-help-Azerbaijan-if-requested

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Turkey trial begins into 2015 killing of Kurdish human rights lawyer

21 October 2020

A long-awaited trial opened Wednesday of three police officers for the 2015 killing of a prominent rights lawyer in Diyarbakir, Turkey’s biggest Kurdish-majority city.

Tahir Elci, who campaigned for Kurdish rights, was shot in the head in broad daylight on November 28, 2015, during armed clashes between Kurdish militants and police.

He was head of Diyarbakir’s bar association at the time.

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The three police officers are accused of “causing death by foreseeable negligence” and face between two to six years in prison if convicted.

A fourth individual described as a Kurdish militant is being tried in absentia on the same charge, as well as over the killing of two police officers and “destroying the country’s unity and integrity.”

The militant, who had been on the same street as Elci when the lawyer was killed, faces life in jail if found guilty.

The police officers were due to take part in the trial, which began under heavy security in Diyarbakir, via videoconference.

Officials removed journalists including AFP’s correspondent from the courtroom, citing concerns over coronavirus, but one journalist was to be allowed back in to follow the hearing.

Dozens of lawyers and representatives of human rights groups also attended the trial.

Elci’s death came after a 2013 ceasefire collapsed between the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is blacklisted as a terrorist group by Ankara and its Western allies.

Two PKK militants shot two police officers dead in a street near to where Elci died just minutes after he called for peace in the restive southeast.

“Many in the human rights movement in Turkey and internationally will be focused on whether the conduct of the trial is designed to reveal the full circumstances of Elci’s killing or instead to try to exonerate the police at all cost,” said Tom Porteous, Human Rights Watch deputy program director.

HRW criticized the “extreme delays” in the case and the “huge obstacles to securing an effective investigation,” noting that the prosecutor investigating the death was replaced several times and authorities failed to collect evidence at the site of the shooting.

Investigators from the London-based research agency Forensic Architecture last year published an in-depth report into the shooting indicating that security forces could have killed Elci.

“It will be very important for the Diyarbakir court to take full note of the study’s findings and carefully examine whether the prosecutor’s charges against the police are commensurate with the gravity of the crime,” Porteous said in a statement.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/10/21/Turkey-trial-begins-into-2015-killing-of-Kurdish-human-rights-lawyer

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Iran tests air defense systems days after UN arms embargo expires

21 October 2020

Iran on Wednesday tested home-made air defense systems during military exercises, state media said, days after the expiry of an international arms embargo against the Islamic republic.

The maneuvers -- dubbed “Defenders of the Sky” -- took place in “an area covering half of the country’s surface,” state television’s Iribnews website reported.

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They came after Tehran ruled on Sunday that a UN arms embargo on its weapons had expired under the terms of the international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program and UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

Iran on Monday said it was more inclined to sell weapons rather than buy them, after announcing the end of the longstanding embargo.

“In these exercises, the new generation systems of the army and Revolutionary Guard have shown their strength by relying on the power” of local production, said Iribnews.

The website said targets at medium and high altitudes were shot down by Iran’s Khordad 3 and Khordad 15 air defense systems and that fighter jets took part in the maneuvers.

“Our forces have achieved all the objectives set,” General Qader Rahimzadeh, who is commanding the exercises, told state television.

The lifting of the arms embargo allows Iran to buy and sell military equipment including tanks, armored vehicles, combat aircraft, helicopters and heavy artillery.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tuesday that his country did not intend to engage in an “arms race in the region.”

In May 2018, President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal, saying it did not offer sufficient guarantees to stop Tehran from acquiring an atomic bomb. Iran has always denied it wants such a weapon.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/10/21/Iran-tests-air-defense-systems-one-day-after-UN-arms-embargo-expires

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Jailed Iranian human rights lawyer moved to new prison despite health concerns

21 October 2020

Jailed Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been moved to a women’s detention center outside the capital Tehran instead of receiving the hospital treatment she needs, her husband said Wednesday.

The UN has called on Iran to free Sotoudeh, a winner of the European Parliament’s Sakharov prize, and other political prisoners excluded from a push to empty jails amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Nasrin called me yesterday (Tuesday) to tell me she’s been transferred straight (from Tehran’s Evin jail) to the one in Qarchak,” more than 30 kilometers (20 miles) away, her husband Reza Khandan told AFP.

“We had been expecting her to be sent to hospital for an angiogram” as decided by “the medical commission at Evin prison,” he said.

Khandan has said that health issues prompted Sotoudeh, 57, to end a hunger strike lasting more than 45 days to push for the release of political prisoners during the pandemic.

The lawyer was sentenced in 2019 to serve 12 years in jail for defending women arrested for protesting compulsory headscarf laws in the Islamic republic.

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet on October 6 expressed deep concern over the deteriorating situation of rights activists, lawyers and political prisoners held in Iran as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

“People detained solely for their political views or other forms of activism in support of human rights should not be imprisoned at all, and such prisoners, should certainly not be treated more harshly or placed at greater risk,” she said.

“I am very concerned that Nasrin Sotoudeh’s life is at risk,” Bachelet said.

A system of temporary releases to reduce the populations in severely overcrowded prisons, introduced by Iran in February to rein in transmission of Covid-19, has benefited some 120,000 inmates, although a number have since been required to return, her office said.

But it said that prisoners sentenced to more than five years for “national security” offenses were excluded.

The pandemic has cost more 31,000 lives in Iran out of 545,000 declared cases, according to official figures released Wednesday.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/10/21/Jailed-Iranian-human-rights-lawyer-moved-to-new-prison-despite-health-concerns

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Southeast Asia

 

Zahid calls for ‘political ceasefire’, orders Umno to back Perikatan govt amid Covid-19 economic woes

21 Oct 2020

BY KEERTAN AYAMANY

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 21 — Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today called for a “political ceasefire” and ordered his party members in Cabinet to focus on helping the public face the economic woes wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Zahid also said Umno will support the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government in its agenda to aid the public.

“I want to emphasise some of Umno’s standings as following: Conducting a political ceasefire to ensure that the agenda of addressing Covid-19 and helping the people who are suffering from hardship and anxiety due to economic obstacles can be addressed and prioritised.

“We will also support the Perikatan Nasional government in focusing on the agenda of helping the people and facing the Covid-19 pandemic and economic downturn,” he said in a statement.

Zahid said that cooperation among all the parties in the PN government must be strengthened to ensure political stability.

Yesterday, Umno and PAS released a statement saying they will officially register as a political coalition with the Registrar of Societies (RoS) under the name Muafakat Nasional (MN).

They did not include Bersatu — the party of Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin — whom they had also been in talks with to join MN. Instead, all three parties currently have a loose partnership under the PN coalition led by Muhyiddin.

Just last week, Umno issued a statement saying it was reconsidering its support for PN with several Umno leaders openly admitting that tensions are high between them and Bersatu, citing reasons such as the undermining of Umno’s position in the coalition.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/10/21/zahid-calls-for-political-ceasefire-orders-umno-to-back-perikatan-govt-amid/1914956

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Kit Siang: Why did Zahid capitulate after 30 days of ‘Malaysian Game of Thrones’?

22 Oct 2020

BY SYED JAYMAL ZAHIID

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 22 — DAP leader Lim Kit Siang questioned today why Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi issued a sudden call for a political ceasefire, having fuelled talks of an unlikely alliance that would see a new government formed.

Lim said Zahid’s statement came after nearly 30 days of deep political intrigue that he described as “Malaysian Game of Thrones”, a reference to the backroom dealing between various players from both sides of the political divide in a bid to wrest federal power.

Games of Thrones is a television series that cable channel operator HBO adapted from a line of fantasy novels known for their labyrinth of plots and power manoeuvrings between key characters that attempt to assert total dominance.

“The past week confirmed what I said last Thursday that Malaysia was  in the midst of an unprecedented political tornado with  plots, sub-plots, counter-plots and counter-sub-plots emerging from the woodworks over the shape and form of the government of Malaysia,” Lim said in a statement.

“But suddenly, with the statement by the Umno President, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s yesterday  reaffirming Umno’s support for Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and the Perikatan Nasional government, Malaysia’s Game of Thrones seemed to have ground to a halt,” he added.

Zahid surprised many after he issued a statement yesterday evening calling for a “political ceasefire”, and a directive for all party leaders to commit to the Muhyiddin administration and focus its energy on efforts to contain Covid-19.

The assertion came just weeks after the Umno chief was alleged to have issued a letter pledging support for Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to form a new government, which the party later denied.

Zahid’s ceasefire call has since raised doubt if the deal forged with Anwar would pull through.

Lim suggested the Umno president may have capitulated after seeing his plan backfire.

There are factions in Umno that oppose the idea of colaborating with Anwar and the DAP, while PAS, which has formed a pact with Umno called Muafakat Nasional, has refused to withdraw support for Muhyiddin as Umno attempted to put pressure on PN to demand more concessions.

“Maybe the Umno leadership has found, to its shock, that it could find no support from PAS in the Game of Thrones,” Lim said.

“And if the Game of Thrones comes to a crunch, it can neither expect PAS to come on board nor a united Umno parliamentary bloc to blindly support the decision of Zahid and Najib Razak.”

Zahid’s immediate predecessor, former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, is alleged to be among those supportive of Anwar’s takeover bid.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/10/22/kit-siang-why-did-zahid-capitulate-after-30-days-of-malaysian-game-of-thron/1915174

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Umno to decide on Perikatan tomorrow, says Tajuddin Abdul Rahman

19 Oct 2020

BY DANIAL DZILKIFLY

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 — Umno will decide whether to keep supporting the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition tomorrow, supreme council member Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman said.

He told Utusan Malaysia the Umno leadership will meet tomorrow in Pahang after they postponed an earlier meeting scheduled to take place in Kuala Lumpur last Saturday.

The meeting was shifted to Pahang to allow leaders to physically attend as there is a conditional movement control order in the Klang Valley.

Tajuddin told the Malay daily that Umno has repeatedly given clear signals to their allies in PN.

“Whether Umno will go left or right, everything will be decided after the MT (supreme council) meeting. It will take two to three days or up to a week after the MT has made its decision.

“What I mean is, the fate of the government will be decided after the MT meeting. We will decide Umno’s direction first and then the decision to stay with the government or to pull out will be made by the MT.

“We have given clear signals, didn’t you get them?” he said.

Tajuddin explained that Umno has two options if they do not support PN: to seek new partners or stand as the Opposition.

“In politics, it is the aspirations of all parties to be the government. If unable to form the government, the party will give service to the people and the country. Not necessarily for you to form the government and only then you could serve the people.

“Even PAS is new in the [federal] government. PAS exists as a political party. Not only exist but active,” he said.

Tajuddin said “new partners” meant Umno would continue to strengthen their cooperation within the Muafakat Nasional pact with PAS and even Parti Amanah Negara, as the latter also put an emphasis on Islam and Malays.

Tajuddin then said the PN administration would not face critical issues if Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin appointed the president of Umno as the deputy prime minister.

He said it was Umno’s right as they are the party with the most seats within the government today.

“Muhyiddin must remember that we (Umno) came in with an immense strength to form the government. Without us, the government would not have been able to form.

“If Muhyiddin knows what he needs to do before, the position of deputy [prime minister] is given to Umno, then all this wouldn’t have happened,’’ he said.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/10/19/umno-to-decide-on-perikatan-tomorrow-says-tajuddin-abdul-rahman/1914094

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Arab world

 

Saudi Arabia: Kingdom supports Lebanon, Beirut needs reform, impartial govt

Joseph Haboush

21 October 2020

Lebanon needs serious political and economic reform with a new government that listens to the people’s demands, a senior Saudi Arabian diplomat said Wednesday.

“The #Kingdom is a strong supporter of Lebanon, but Lebanon is in need of political and economic reform, it is vital to have a National and impartial government that works for the interest and prosperity of the Lebanese people,” Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the UN Abdallah al-Mouallimi tweeted.

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

Al-Mouallimi’s comments came during a meeting on Lebanon convened by the UNDP/Regional Bureau for Arab States.

Lebanese MPs are set to meet with President Michel Aoun Thursday during consultations, where they will nominate a new prime minister to form a government. The country has been without a functioning government since Aug. 10, when then Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigned following the deadly Port of Beirut explosions six days prior.

Three-time Prime Minister Saad Hariri is widely expected to be nominated again, but he will face the difficult task of forming a new government. Last October, Hariri also resigned after nationwide anti-government protests erupted across Lebanon, demanding an end to corruption, sectarianism, and clientelism.

On Wednesday, the Saudi ambassador reiterated his country’s support for the Lebanese people and the international community’s efforts to step in and help Beirut.

Saudi Arabia will continue to help the Lebanese people as they cope with an unprecedented economic and financial crisis, coupled with the coronavirus pandemic and devastating impact of the Beirut explosions.

“The #Kingdom value[s] the #UN efforts to stand with the people of Lebanon at this time of crisis. Also, appreciate the efforts of the international community to provide essential humanitarian aid to the Lebanese people and assist in enabling them to have hope,” al-Mouallimi said.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/10/22/Saudi-Arabia-Kingdom-supports-Lebanon-Beirut-needs-reform-impartial-govt

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US Embassy Found Guilty of Deadly Attack against Residential Areas in Baghdad

Oct 21, 2020

“Investigations about al-Ridwanieh attack showed that the US embassy was guilty but the case was closed after the reality was revealed,” Mohammad al-Basari was quoted by the Arabic-language Shafaq News as saying on Wednesday.

He explained that the American side has claimed that the incident was an accident and happened during a training operation on a number of missiles deployed in the embassy.

Al-Basari said that the families of those killed in the attack have rejected a ransom offer, asking for the trial of those guilty in the incident.

Two Katyusha rockets were fired at a house in Baghdad in September, killing two women and three children while severely wounding two other children.

The three Iraqi children and two women were from the same family and were killed when a rocket fell on their home.

After the attack, the US put the blame on Hashd al-Shaabi forces but they denied any involvement.

Secretary-General of al-Nujaba Movement, one of the popular forces, Sheikh Akram al-Kaabi emphasized in September adherence of the Iraqi resistance forces to divine and human principles, and assured that the Americans have ordered their mercenaries to attack the civilians' houses around the embassy in a bid to tarnish the image of the resistance.

"None of the hostiles can remember that we attacked any civilian targets. It is our clear position that targeting diplomatic delegations is an obvious violation and believes that the safety of diplomatic delegations is essential to improve the relations of other counties with Iraq and this will ensure our country's prosperity and serving our noble nation," he added.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990730000923

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Lebanon’s Hezbollah says it does not nominate anyone for PM post

22 October 2020

Lebanon’s powerful Shiite group Hezbollah said on Thursday it had not nominated anyone for the position of prime minister during consultations to pick a new premier.

“We did not name anyone to lead the government,” Mohamed Raad, head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc, told reporters after meeting President Michel Aoun.

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

Leading Sunni Muslim politician Saad al-Hariri, a former premier, is on course to be designated again at the formal consultations with parliamentary blocs, sources say.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/10/22/Lebanon-s-Hezbollah-says-it-does-not-nominate-anyone-for-PM-post

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There will be no change in US policy toward Syria for release of Americans: Pompeo

Joseph Haboush

21 October 2020

Washington will not alter its aggressive policy toward Syria in order to secure the release of detained Americans by the Assad regime, the top US diplomat said Wednesday.

A recent trip to the US by Lebanon’s top intelligence official was used to discuss US citizens being held by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime.

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

During the Lebanese official’s visit to Washington, where families of previously detained US citizens thanked him for his efforts to secure their release, it was leaked that the White House dispatched an official to Syria earlier this year to discuss the US hostages.

Two of the detainees are journalist and former Marine Austin Tice, kidnapped in 2012 and Majd Kamalmaz, a Syrian-American therapist who disappeared after being stopped at a Syrian government checkpoint in 2017.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for Syria to release Tice or give information on his fate.

“We’ll continue to work for the return not only of Austin, but for every American that’s held. We’re not going to change American policy to do that,” Pompeo said during a news conference.

The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that Kash Patel, a deputy assistant to US President Donald Trump and the top White House counterterrorism official, had flown to Damascus earlier this year. His efforts were centered around striking a deal for Tice and Kamalmaz to be released.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/10/21/There-will-be-no-change-in-US-policy-toward-Syria-for-release-of-Americans-Pompeo

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Government-held areas of Syria raise fuel prices, blaming US sanctions

21 October 2020

Damascus has sharply increased petrol prices in government-held areas of Syria, saying that US sanctions on the war-torn country had left it with no alternative.

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

The cost per liter of the 100-liter ration of subsidized petrol motorists are allowed each month has risen from 250 to 450 Syrian pounds (36 US cents at the official exchange rate, 20 US cents at the black market one).

The cost of unsubsidized petrol also went up, rising from 296 to 650 pounds a liter, the trade ministry said late Tuesday.

The ministry blamed the price hikes on “the great cost to the government in securing oil derivatives and the increase in transport costs in light of the unjust blockade imposed by the US administration.”

Consumers were quick to criticize the price hikes, which came a day after the price of industrial fuel oil shot up from 296 to 650 pounds a liter.

“Everything will start costing more with the fuel prices going up,” complained one Facebook user.

President Bashar al-Assad announced several measures on Wednesday to mitigate the impact on the most needy, raising the income tax threshold and ordering the payment of a one-off grant of 50,000 Syrian pounds to all public sector employees, military or civilian.

Heating fuel, petrol and cooking gas have been in short supply in government-held areas for years, and motorists have grown used to long queues to fill up.

Syria used to produce almost 400,000 barrels of crude per day before civil war broke out in 2011.

But nine years of conflict have ravaged production and seen US-backed Kurdish-led forces seize control of the country’s largest oil fields.

Syria’s economic crunch has seen food prices double over the past year, and the value of the pound plummet to 1,250 to the dollar at the official rate and 2,200 on the black market.

The US has imposed several rounds of economic sanctions on the Syrian government, the most recent in mid-June.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/10/21/Government-held-areas-of-Syria-raise-fuel-prices-blaming-US-sanctions

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North America

 

US intelligence agencies say Iran, Russia have tried to interfere in 2020 election

22 Oct 2020

US Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said on Wednesday that Russia and Iran have both tried to interfere with the 2020 presidential election.

Ratcliffe made the announcements at a hastily arranged news conference that also included FBI Director Chris Wray.

The announcement two weeks before the election showed the level of alarm among top US officials that foreign actors were seeking to undermine Americans’ confidence in the integrity of the vote and spread misinformation in an attempt to sway its outcome.

“We have confirmed that some voter registration information has been obtained by Iran, and separately, by Russia,” Ratcliffe said during the news conference.

Most of that voter registration is public. But Ratcliffe said that government officials “have already seen Iran sending spoofed emails designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest and damage President Trump”.

Ratcliffe was referring to emails sent on Wednesday and designed to look like they came from the pro-Trump Proud Boys group, according to government sources.

US intelligence agencies previously warned that Iran might interfere to hurt Trump and that Russia was trying to help him in the election.

Outside experts said that if Ratcliffe was correct, Iran would be trying to make Trump look bad by calling attention to support and threats by the sometimes violent group.

A spokesperson for Iran’s mission to the United Nations denied Iran had sought to meddle in the US election.

“Iran has no interest in interfering in the US election and no preference for the outcome,” spokesperson Alireza Miryousefi said in a statement.

US Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who received a classified briefing on Wednesday afternoon on election security, said he disagreed with Ratcliffe that Iran was specifically trying to hurt Trump.

“It was clear to me that the intent of Iran in this case and Russia in many more cases is to basically undermine confidence in our elections. This action I do not believe was aimed [...] at discrediting President Trump,” Schumer told MSNBC in an interview.

White House spokesperson Judd Deere said Trump has directed government agencies “to proactively monitor and thwart any attempts to interfere in US elections, and because of the great work of our law enforcement agencies we have stopped an attempt by America’s adversaries to undermine our elections”.

The emails are under investigation, and one intelligence source said it was still unclear who was behind them.

Another government source said that US officials are investigating whether people in Iran had hacked into a Proud Boys network or website to distribute threatening materials. This source said US officials suspect the Iranian government was involved but that the evidence remains inconclusive.

Some of those emails also contained a video, debunked by experts, that purported to show how fake ballots could be submitted. Ratcliffe said that claim was false.

The second government source said US authorities have evidence that Russia and Iran had tried to hack into voter roll data in unidentified states. But the source added that because much of that voter data is available commercially, the hacking may have been aimed at avoiding payment.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1586434/us-intelligence-agencies-say-iran-russia-have-tried-to-interfere-in-2020-election

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