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Ganesh Chaturthi for the First Time on the Idgah Maidan at Hubli in BJP-Ruled Karnataka: Idol Installed After Long Struggle, Says Union Minister

New Age Islam News Bureau

01 September 2022


Union minister Pralhad Joshi offers prayers to Lord Ganesha on the Idgah Maidan in Hubli, Karnataka, on Wednesday.

PTI picture


• Islamic State of Khorasan Province to Release Video of Top Taliban Cleric Rahimullah Haqqani’s Assassination, Aims to Win Salafis

• Islamic Republic Of Iran’s Founder Ruhollah Khomeini Invited Gorbachev to Embrace Islam In 1989 Letter

• Jewish Google Employee, Ariel Koren, Quits Over 'Silencing' Of Palestinian Coworkers

• International Criminal Court Calls For Resumption of Afghan War Crimes Probe



• Muslim Wrestler, Jumma Dada, Initiated Vadodara's Public Ganesh Festival 120 Years Ago

• After 28 years in Pakistan jail, Kuldeep Yadav returns home in Ahmedabad

• Muslims, Christians join Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations at N. R. Pura in Chikkamagaluru

• Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif thanks PM Modi for concern over losses caused by massive floods

• 'Legal fight will continue': Karnataka minister, citizens' forum on Bengaluru Idgah ground matter

• After Amroha cattle killing horror, Muslim man electrocutes cows at gaushala in Maharashtra


South Asia

• Prime Minister: Bombing, Bloodshed Ended Since Islamic Emirate Takeover

• Islamic Emirate Forces Celebrate Anniversary of US Withdrawal

• A year since US pullout: How Taliban 2.0 has changed Afghanistan

• Taliban Says Pressure and Sanctions against Afghans Have Failed

• U.S. Prevents Int’l Community to Recognize Taliban: Mujahid

• China Blasts 'Wealthy' US For Illegally Occupying 'Poor' Syria, Plundering Its Resources



• Iran Urges Western Gov'ts to Stop Terrorists' Exemption from Punishment

• Iranian Military Source Describes US as Root Cause of Instability in Persian Gulf

• Two Palestinians killed in West Bank clashes: Health ministry

• Palestinian Prisoner Suspends Hunger Strike Following Israel Release Deal


North America

• US Assures Israel That Iran Won't Become a Nuclear Power

• Biden Urges Iraq ‘National Dialogue’ In Call with PM

• France, EU can cooperate with Türkiye on Ukraine, says UN envoy

• Iran briefly seized US naval drone stranded in Persian Gulf to ensure maritime security: Nour News



• UN Report Lists Litany of Rights Abuses In China's Xinjiang

• Meeting between leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia, European Council kicks off in Brussels

• Türkiye to submit radar logs to NATO showing harassment by Greece

• How a UN fund gives hope to crisis-impacted children from Ecuador to Afghanistan



• IHC Serves Notices in Plea for Removal of FIR under Terrorism Charges against Imran Khan

• Pak soldier killed in Bajaur blast in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s province

• ‘Pakistan doesn’t have to choose between US and China’

• Germany – Pakistan have huge potential in economic, trade ties: Syed Naveed Qamar

• From furnace to flood: World's hottest city in Pakistan now under water

• JUI-F accuses Sindh govt of hampering relief activities in city

• WHO says 6.4m in dire need of humanitarian aid as flood-triggered crises swirl



• Seif al-Islam Gaddafi Denies Striking Deal to Release His Brother from Lebanon

• TPLF says Eritrean and Ethiopian forces launch attack in northwest Tigray

• Libya exhumes 15 bodies from 2 mass graves in Sirte

• Top Turkish, Libyan officials hold talks in Ankara

• Dozens of civilians killed in April by Mali’s army, foreign fighters: UN report


Southeast Asia

• Is Abu Bakar Bashir Really Walking Away From Violent Extremism?

• Rosmah Mansor, wife of Malaysia’s former leader Najib Razak, convicted of corruption

• Guan Eng slams Saravanan over chaotic worker quota applications

• Suspected Muslim rebels kill town police chief in Philippines


Arab World

• Clashes in Iraq’s Basra among Shiite Rivals Cause Casualties

• Saudi Arabia designates five individuals over links to Iran-backed Houthis

• Saudi graduates working at NEOM complete ‘high-performance’ Formula E placement

• Light plane crashes near UAE’s Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque, pilot injured

• Hezbollah At 40 Stronger Than Ever But Has More Enemies

• Israel attacks Aleppo’s airport with rockets: Syria’s state news agency

• UN Security Council renews mandate of peacekeeping force in Lebanon for one year

• Saudi Arabia’s culinary heritage to be showcased at France’s Agora Expo

• Saudi ambassador to Yemen meets coordinator of UN panel of experts on Yemen

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Ganesh Chaturthi for the First Time on the Idgah Maidan at Hubli in BJP-Ruled Karnataka: Idol Installed After Long Struggle, Says Union Minister


Union minister Pralhad Joshi offers prayers to Lord Ganesha on the Idgah Maidan in Hubli, Karnataka, on Wednesday.

PTI picture


K.M. Rakesh   |   Bangalore  


Union minister Pralhad Joshi was among those who offered prayers to Lord Ganesha when Ganesh Chaturthi was celebrated for the first time on the Idgah Maidan at Hubli in BJP-ruled Karnataka on Wednesday.

Karnataka High Court had late on Tuesday night paved the way for the performance of the Ganesh Chaturthi rituals on the ground, which has an Idgah and where Id has traditionally been celebrated for decades.

Some described the day as “historic” and said it marked “new-found freedom”.

Joshi, the Union parliamentary affairs and coal and mines minister who represents Hubli’s twin city Dharwad in the Lok Sabha, advocated peace but referenced a tragic incident that took place 28 years ago.

“Today, an idol of Ganesh has been installed here after a long struggle. But exactly three decades ago, a movement to hoist the national flag was started here. On that day (the Independence Day of 1994), there was a lathi-charge here. Six persons had sacrificed their lives on that day. I want to make only one request, let us celebrate this peacefully,” Joshi said.

The six had died in police firing. Strife was brewing in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition when BJP politics had made a breakthrough and the Maidan had become one of the many staging fields of its activities.

B.S. Yediyurappa, who later went on to become Karnataka chief minister, and Uma Bharti had led the agitation for “their right to hoist the Tricolour” at the Idgah Maidan. They were among the 21 party leaders booked for arson, rioting and attack on public servants in 10 different cases. A local magistrate’s court had then declared Uma a “proclaimed offender” for not honouring summons.

She resigned as Madhya Pradesh chief minister in August 2004 to appear before the court in Hubli, which had issued a non-bailable arrest warrant for ignoring repeated summons.

The Congress government helmed by S.M. Krishna had in 2002 applied to withdraw all the cases considering the emotive nature of the issue.

On Tuesday night, Karnataka High Court, hearing a plea by the educational and social organisation Anjuman-e-Islam, refused to stay the permission granted by the Hubli-Dharwad municipal commissioner to some Hindu organisations to perform Ganesh Chaturthi rituals at the Idgah Maidan.

The order by Justice Ashok S. Kinagi came around 11.30pm, hours after the Supreme Court had held a special hearing beyond usual working hours to reverse the Karnataka government’s decision to allow Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations on another Idgah Maidan, in Bangalore’s Chamarajpet, where only Id and Ramzan-related rituals have been held for 200 years.

The Idgah Maidan in Hubli has witnessed a protracted legal battle between the Anjuman-e-Islam and Hindu groups for over two decades.

The municipal commissioner’s decision was based on a 2012 Supreme Court verdict that upheld the municipality’s claim on the land. The apex court had, however, allowed Muslims to continue to use it to offer prayers on Id-Ul-Fitr and Id-Ul-Zuha every year.

Other than these religious rituals, which the Anjuman-e-Islam says have been taking place there since the pre-Independence period, the Idgah Maidan has been used only to hoist the national flag on Independence Day and Republic Day in civic body-sponsored events. During other times, the land is used as a parking lot and a marketplace.

The high court noted that the property belonged to the local municipality and the Anjuman-e-Islam was only a licencee allowed to perform prayers on the two Id days every year. The court rejected the petitioner’s submission that the Idgah Maidan fell under the purview of The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, and cannot be used for rituals of another religion.

Equipped with the high court order and under heavy police protection, a group named the Rani Chennamma Maidan Gajanana Utsava Samithi installed a Ganesh idol at the Maidan at 7.30am on Wednesday, marking the first-ever Hindu festival on the property.

Samithi president Sanju Badskar told The Telegraph that thousands of people visited the Maidan for the Ganesh puja.

“Some 3,000 people, mostly youths, arrived by noon today to participate in the Ganapati festival. It was like new-found freedom for them,” said Badskar, who is also the Hubli-Dharwad president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

Amid chants of vedic hymns, Sriram Sena chief Pramod Muthalik and his supporters also offered prayers at the Maidan.

“We performed the prayers within the legal framework. Some miscreants had attempted to stop us but we performed our puja, which is not only a matter of joy for the people of Hubli but also across north Karnataka,” Muthalik told reporters at the pandal.

Muthalik termed the day “historic”, claiming that a long-cherished dream of Hindus had been fulfilled. According to him, the district administration has granted permission to conduct puja for three days at the site.

Badskar said the Samithi had no plans to hold the Dussehra festival in early October at the Maidan, but did not rule out other outfits doing so.

“Our objective was to celebrate Ganapati festival and we have no plans to hold Dussehra festivities here. But other organisations could seek permission since it is the property of the municipality, which can permit anyone to organise any event on their land” he said.

Anjuman-e-Islam president Mohammed Yusuf Savanur said he would file an appeal before a two-judge bench of Karnataka High Court to stop the municipality from granting permission for non-Muslim festivals at the Maidan.

“We will be filing an appeal in three or four days and file a case against the municipal commissioner for violating The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act,” he said.

Source: Telegraph India

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Islamic State of Khorasan Province to Release Video of Top Taliban Cleric Rahimullah Haqqani’s Assassination, Aims to Win Salafis


ISKP has been rising in Afghanistan after the indiscriminate release of terrorists from the prison last year when US forces exited Afghanistan.


Sep 01, 2022

Islamic State - Khorasan Province (ISKP) will soon release a propaganda video of assassination of senior Afghani cleric Rahimullah Haqqani who died in a suicide blast last month, the group’s media wing Al Azaim Foundation said. The Islamic State affiliate may use the video to win the Salafist support and undermine the Taliban's government in Afghanistan. Rahimullah Haqqani, known for his fiery speeches against Da’esh, had survived at least two previous assassination attempts.

While the influential cleric held no official position in Taliban leadership, he had taught many of the group's members over the years, according to an AFP report. Haqqani had even recently spoken publicly in favour of girls being allowed to attend school.

The eighth issue of Da’esh’s magazine has the cover photo of its slain spokesperson Maqbool Orakzai aka Abu Kumar Maqbool who earlier served as senior spokesperson for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.

The magazine also praises last year’s attack at Kabul International Airport in which 13 members of the US military and dozens of civilians were killed. The civilians were trying to flee Afghanistan in the aftermath of Taliban take over. Da’esh said that the attack was meant to disrupt the transfer of power in Afghanistan from the US to the Taliban.

Several other articles criticize the Taliban which has completed one year of rule in Afghanistan after ousting the West-backed government on August 15, 2021.

Violence in Afghanistan remains at a disturbing level with almost no signs of any respite in the days to come. There has been a significant increase in terrorist activities across Afghanistan since the Taliban came to power in August last year. Data shows fighters of the National Resistance Front and Islamic State-Khorasan Province (Da’esh) are growing in strength, leading to further escalation in violence.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Islamic Republic Of Iran’s Founder Ruhollah Khomeini Invited Gorbachev to Embrace Islam In 1989 Letter


Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev waves from the Red Square tribune during a Revolution Day celebration, in Moscow, Soviet Union, Nov. 7, 1989. (AP Photo/Boris Yurchenko)


31 August, 2022

Two years before the fall of the Soviet Union, its leader Mikhail Gorbachev would receive an unusual letter from the Islamic republic of Iran’s founder, inviting him to embrace Islam.

The last leader of the USSR passed away in Moscow on Tuesday at the age of 91, leaving behind a legacy that polarized observers on either side of the Iron Curtain.

But in January 1989, as Europe’s communist regimes were taking their last breath, Ruhollah Khomeini sent a delegation to Moscow to deliver a letter to Gorbachev.

“Mr Gorbachev, it is clear to everyone that communism belongs in the world’s political history museums, because Marxism does not meet any of humanity’s true needs,” Khomeini wrote.

Iran’s supreme leader chose to send the letter because, according to him, Gorbachev had “entered, since assuming office, a revisionist phase of the Soviet system.”

“Mr Gorbachev, you must face the truth: the principal problem of your country is not the question of property, economy, and liberty, but the lack of true belief in God. The same problem has led or will lead the West to decadence and deadlock,” Khomeini wrote in his letter.

Khomeini said communism had no future “because it’s a materialist school, incapable of saving man from the crisis of disbelief in spirituality, the most fundamental suffering of human society in the West and the East.”

The solution, according to the supreme leader, who himself died five months after the missive, was Islam.

“I call on you to seriously study Islam. The high and universal values of Islam can be the source of comfort and salvation for all nations and resolve the fundamental problems of humanity,” the letter said.

By December 1991, Gorbachev would announce his resignation in a televised address, after communist states in Eastern Europe collapsed one after the other.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Jewish Google Employee, Ariel Koren, Quits Over 'Silencing' Of Palestinian Coworkers


Google have not responded to Ariel Koren's claims that she was forced out over her pro-Palestinian activism [File: Elijah Nouvelage/AFP]


31 August 2022

A Google employee who had been a vocal critic of the company's billion-dollar contract with the Israeli military says she plans to quit her job, accusing the tech giant of retaliating against employees who speak out in support of Palestine.

Ariel Koren, a marketing manager for Google's educational products, published a memo on Medium to colleagues announcing her plan to quit. She also said that the tech giant tried to retaliate against her for her activism.

"Due to retaliation, a hostile environment, and illegal actions by the company, I cannot continue to work at Google and have no choice but to leave the company at the end of this week," she said in her letter.

"Instead of listening to employees who want Google to live up to its ethical principles, Google is aggressively pursuing military contracts and stripping away the voices of its employees through a pattern of silencing and retaliation towards me and many others."

Koren, who is Jewish, spent more than a year organizing against Project Nimbus, a $1.2-billion agreement for Google and Amazon to supply Israeli military with cloud and computing services.

In an online letter posted Tuesday, Koren also complained about what she described as Google’s treatment of pro-Palestinian employees inside the company. She said Google does so to protect its business interests with the Israeli regime and military.

“Google systematically silences Palestinian, Jewish, Arab, and Muslim voices concerned about Google’s complicity in violations of Palestinian human rights — to the point of formally retaliating against workers and creating an environment of fear,” Koren wrote.

In her letter, Koren pointed to an internal group called Jewglers that is supposed to represent all Jewish workers at Google. Instead, she said it is used to attack workers like her who support the Palestinians.

“In practice, this group is systemically functioning as an outlet to drive forward right-wing ideologies under the guise of promoting diversity.”

She said members of Muslim and Arab groups at Google were also being surveilled by members of the Jewglers group and were sent aggressive messages.

In one instance, after Israel launched an airstrike into Gaza, killing hundreds of Palestinians, Koren said Jewglers demanded Google express support for Israelis. Company executives including CEO Sundar Pichai ultimately did, she said.

Koren pointed to an incident when Google employees were invited to virtually tour Hebron, an Israeli settlement in occupied Palestine. A Jewish worker responded, asking if the tour would include a conversation of the “ongoing war crimes committed by the Israeli government against the Palestinian population.” Her reply was flagged for discrimination, harassment, and bullying, which Koren said was, in fact, a “simple” message of support for Palestinian human rights.

In March, the Los Angeles Times reported that said Project Nimbus would facilitate the surveillance of Palestinians, as well as assist the expansion of Israeli settlements.

Soon after voicing her concerns, Koren was told her role was moving to a different location and that she had 17 days to relocate or lose her job.

Koren’s departure is just the latest by Google employees who say they’ve either been sidelined or fired for speaking out about a variety of topics in recent years.

Source: Press TV

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International Criminal Court Calls For Resumption Of Afghan War Crimes Probe


 September 1, 2022

THE HAGUE: A year into the Taliban’s rule, war crimes prosecutors in The Hague have urged judges to rule promptly on their request to resume investigations into atrocities in Afghanistan and warn that crimes are continuing, court documents showed.

The International Criminal Court’s Afghanistan investigation has been on hold for more than two years. In March 2020 the previous Afghan government had asked it to be suspended while they investigated suspected war crimes themselves.

In documents released on ICC’s website this week and dated Aug 26, prosecutor Karim Khan argued Afgha­nistan’s request to suspend the probe should be rejected, citing a lack of effort by authorities there to pursue justice in domestic courts.

He said the Taliban “have not continued, cannot continue and do not intend to continue the relevant investigations and prosecutions” that formed the basis of the request for suspension by the ousted government.

“To the contrary, the available information suggests that serious crimes within the jurisdiction of the court (...) continue to be committed,” he added, urging judges to allow the probe the be “promptly resumed”.

In September last year, Khan already announced he would ask judges to resume the probe into crimes by the Taliban and ISIS-K. He added prosecutors would “deprioritise” looking into suspected crimes by US forces and Afghan government troops.

In July, the UN mission in Afghanistan said that the ruling Taliban were responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests and inhumane punishments in the months since they toppled the previous government and seized power after Washington’s withdrawal from the country.

Source: Dawn

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 Muslim Wrestler, Jumma Dada, Initiated Vadodara's Public Ganesh Festival 120 Years Ago

Sep 1, 2022

VADODARA: Few know that one of the earliest public celebrations of Ganeshotsav was initiated by a 107-year-old Muslim wrestler some 120 years ago. Jumma Dada, a famed wrestler in the erstwhile state of Baroda, started Sarvajanik Ganesh Mahotsav at his akhaada in 1901 to instill a sense of patriotism and brotherhood amongst youth.

"Jumma Dada organized the public Ganesha festival to bring youngsters together and instill in them a sense of patriotism besides celebrations," Rajendra Harpale, managing trustee of Prof Manekrao's Jumma Dada Vyayam Mandir told TOI.

City-based historian Chandrashekhar Patil said, "Jumma Dada was the first to organize a public Ganesha festival on a large scale to usher in communal harmony and unity among the people. Before his initiative, some temples used to organize community Ganesha festivals. His disciple, Prof Manekrao continued the tradition that lives on even today."

"Freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak had started the Sarvajanik Ganesh festival in Maharashtra. Tilak regularly visited Baroda to meet Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III. During his visits, he learnt about Jumma Dada and his activities. Jumma Dada was inspired by Tilak to start a similar public activity during the Ganpati festival in the erstwhile Baroda state," Harpale explained.

After their august meeting, Jumma Dada started a public Ganesh festival at his Vyayam Mandir that he had established in 1880 in the Baroda state and was immensely popular among young boys and girls. In fact, Jumma Dada's Vyayam Mandir even gave shelter to freedom fighters during British rule.

Jumma Dada also set a tradition of installing a clay idol of Lord Ganesha in the Vyayam Mandir in 1901, which, interestingly, continues to date.

Source: Times Of India

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After 28 years in Pakistan jail, Kuldeep Yadav returns home in Ahmedabad

Sep 1, 2022

AHMEDABAD: It was a belated Rakshabandhan gift for Chandkheda-resident Rekha whose brother Kuldeep Yadav returned to home and hearth after serving 28 years in Pakistan jail.

Yadav, now 59, was arrested by Pakistani security agencies in 1994 on charges of espionage and sentenced to life term.

Yadav was released last week by the Pakistan Supreme Court and sent to India through Wagah border on August 28. Rekha used to send his rakhi every year addressed to Kot Lakhpat jail even when he had gone incommunicado since 2013, hoping and praying for his safety and well-being.

At peace to be free finally, Yadav's ordeal, however, is far from over. He is anxious and worried about his livelihood and has made an emotional appeal to the government and citizens to help him.

Talking to reporters, Yadav said, "In 1992, I was sent to Pakistan. After serving two years on foreign soil, I planned to return to India in June 1994, but before making it to my motherland, I was picked up by Pakistani agencies in 1994 and produced before a court. For two long years, I was interrogated by various agencies."

A Pakistan court sentenced him to life imprisonment in 1996 and since then he was lodged in Kot-Lakhpat jail in Lahore.

Kuldeep Yadav also remembers his camaraderie with Sarabjeet Singh of Punjab, who was also convicted of charges of terrorism and spying. He died following an attack on him by inmates in the Pakistan jail. “I got a chance to meet the late Sarbjeet in Kot-Lakhpat jail. The prison authorities used to arrange meetings between us every fortnight.

Till Sarabjeet’s death, Pakistani and Indian jail inmates shared the same barracks. Later, the jail inmates from Pakistan and India were separated,” he said. Last week, Yadav was received by Indian officials on the Wagah border and escorted home by a police officer, said his brother Dilip. “It was difficult for us to recognize him after so long.

The same was the case with him,” Dilip added. Worried about his future, Yadav said that he was nearly 60 now and no one would offer him a job. “I have served the country for 30 years and have nothing left with me. I am dependent on my younger brother Dilip and sister Rekha. I hope the government treats us like retired soldiers and gives some compensation.

Source: Times Of India

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Muslims, Christians join Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations at N. R. Pura in Chikkamagaluru

SEPTEMBER 01, 2022

Jubeda has been president of Vinayaka Seva Sangha for last 13 years

Residents of Rajiv Nagar in N. R. Pura town in Chikkamagaluru have been celebrating the Ganesha festival involving people from all religions in the organising committee for the last 13 years.

Jubeda, a follower of Islam, has been the president of Vinayaka Seva Sangha during these years. Besides her, the 20-member committee includes three more Muslim members and two Christians.

The sangha raises funds for the three-day celebrations from the residents of the locality. “We don’t raise funds from others. As many as 110 families in the locality contribute funds and join the celebrations, keeping aside their religious affiliation”, said Jubeda, who is also president of N. R. Pura Town Panchayat.

Source: The Hindu

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Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif thanks PM Modi for concern over losses caused by massive floods

Aug 31, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday thanked his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi for his concern over the human and material losses caused by the devastating floods, saying his country will overcome the adverse effects of the natural calamity.

Floods triggered by unprecedented monsoon rains have caused widespread havoc across Pakistan, killing over 1,100 people and displacing 33 million or one-seventh of the country's population.

“I thank Indian PM Narendra Modi @narendramodi for condolences over the human & material losses caused by floods. With their characteristic resilience the people of Pakistan shall, InshaAllah, overcome the adverse effects of this natural calamity & rebuild their lives and communities,” Sharif said in a tweet.

I thank 🇮🇳 PM Narendra Modi @narendramodi for condolences over the human & material losses caused by floods. With…

— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) 1661959685000

Prime Minister Modi on Monday said he was saddened to see the devastation caused by the floods in Pakistan and hoped for an early restoration of normalcy.

"Saddened to see the devastation caused by the floods in Pakistan. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims, the injured and all those affected by this natural calamity and hope for an early restoration of normalcy," Modi had tweeted.

Saddened to see the devastation caused by the floods in Pakistan. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the famili…

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) 1661782409000

The two leaders exchanged messages as Pakistan was weighing the option of allowing imports of essential items from India after floods ravaged vast swathes of agricultural land, destroying crops.

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail on Wednesday said that the issue would be discussed with coalition partners and key stakeholders. The idea to import edible goods from India was first floated by Ismail on Monday.

Grappling with unprecedented floods, the cash-strapped Pakistan government on Tuesday teamed up with the United Nations to issue a flash appeal for $160 million to deal with the disaster.

Relations between India and Pakistan have often been strained over the Kashmir issue and cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan.

However, the ties between the two countries nosedived after India abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution, revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcating the State into two Union Territories on August 5, 2019.

India's decision evoked strong reactions from Pakistan, which downgraded diplomatic ties and expelled the Indian envoy. India has repeatedly told Pakistan that Jammu and Kashmir “was, is and shall forever” remain an integral part of the country.

Source: Times Of India

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'Legal fight will continue': Karnataka minister, citizens' forum on Bengaluru Idgah ground matter

31st August 2022

BENGALURU: Chamarajpet Idgah ground here is actually a "public property" and the legal fight over its ownership will continue in the courts, Karnataka Revenue Minister R Ashoka said on Tuesday, following the Supreme Court refusing to grant permission for Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations there, and ordering status quo.

He said the government will abide by the court order.

"People of Chamarajpet and Bengaluru were eager to celebrate Ganesha festival at the ground, but the Supreme Court has ordered status quo. We will fight legally in the courts, in the days to come," Ashoka said.

The ground is currently under the control of the state Revenue Department.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to grant permission for Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations at Idgah ground and ordered status quo on land by both parties.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Indira Banerjee asked the parties to approach the Karnataka High Court for the resolution of the dispute.

The top court was hearing an appeal filed by the Karnataka Waqf Board challenging the order of the High Court.

A division bench of the Karnataka High Court on August 26 permitted the state government to consider and pass appropriate orders on the applications received by the Deputy Commissioner of Bengaluru (Urban) seeking the use of Idgah ground at Chamarajpet.

Chamarajpet Nagarikara Okkoota Vedike, a citizens' forum, that wanted to organise the festival at the ground said they will abide by the order, but will fight the ownership issue legally.

"After the Supreme Court order there is no question of installing Ganesh idol there (Idgah ground), the government will also not allow it. Everyone has to obey the Supreme Court order," Ramegowda of Chamarajpet Nagarikara Okkoota Vedike said.

However, Karnataka State Board of Auqaf Chairman Moulana Shafi Saadi in New Delhi said, the Supreme Court order is a welcome one, as it doesn't allow attempts to disturb Hindu-Muslim unity, because of Chamrajpet Idgah ground issue.

"The Supreme Court has upheld the Places of Worship Act of 1991 and has ordered status quo. I want to tell Hindu brothers that Karnataka's Muslims are not against Ganesha festival celebrations, Islam does not preach opposing other's religious practices," he said, maintaining that Idgah is a Waqf property where Muslims have performed Namaz for 200 years.

Police have made tight security arrangements in and around Idgah ground at Chamarajpet, ahead of the Supreme Court hearing the matter today and had even held a "route march".

A Division Bench of the High Court of Karnataka on August 26 had modified an interim order of a single judge bench on the Chamrajpet Idgah playground dispute, saying religious and cultural activities can be allowed by the government there, but for a limited period from August 31.

Earlier, the court on August 25 had ordered that the two-acre land should be used only as a playground and Muslims should be allowed to pray there on only two festivals -- Bakrid and Ramzan -- till the case was disposed of.

The Joint Commissioner (west) of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had recently ruled that the property belonged to the Revenue Department following the civic body's Chief Commissioner's directions to verify the ownership of the land.

However, the Karnataka State Board of AUQAF and District Waqf Officer, Bengaluru challenged the order of the Joint Commissioner before the Single Judge of the HC.

The original property dispute dates back to 1955 and the Supreme Court had ruled in favour of the Waqf in 1965.

The decades-old dispute over Idgah Maidan had once again come to the fore earlier this year, when some Hindu outfits sought BBMP's permission to hold events there.

This resulted in two contrary sets of documents emerging -- the Karnataka State Board of Auqaf presented a 1965 gazette notifying the land as Wakf property and the 1974 City Survey records and all other civic records thereafter showed the land to be a playground.

In the meantime, following the BBMP order, several Hindu organisations announced they would celebrate Independence Day on the ground.

Also, local Congress MLA B Z Zameer Ahmed Khan had announced they would go ahead and hoist the tricolour there.

However, the State Revenue Department organised the Independence Day event and an assistant commissioner-rank official hoisted the flag on August 15 for the first time at the Idgah ground.

the Chamarajpet citizens' forum, a group that wanted to organise the festival there on Tuesday said they will abide by the order, but will fight the ownership issue legally.

They said they will not install Ganesha idol anywhere else this time, as their goal was to do it at the ground, and shall wait for that day to come.

"After the Supreme Court order there is no question of installing Ganesh idol there (Idgah ground), the government will also not allow it. Everyone has to obey the Supreme Court order," Ramegowda of Chamarajpet Nagarikara Okkoota Vedike said.

Speaking to reporters, he said, people had expected to celebrate the festival at the ground this time, but are now naturally "disappointed".

"But, we will not stop, we will fight legally. The Supreme Court has not decided on the ownership of the land, it has asked to maintain the status quo. Even if the government don't come forward to fight this case, we will appoint an advocate and fight the case to prove that Waqf board doesn't have ownership of the land and will install Ganesha idol there some day," he added.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to grant permission for Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations at Idgah Maidan and ordered status quo on land by both parties.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Indira Banerjee asked the parties to approach the Karnataka High Court for the resolution of the dispute.

The top court was hearing an appeal filed by the Karnataka Waqf Board challenging the order of the High Court.

A division bench of the Karnataka High Court on August 26 permitted the state government to consider and pass appropriate orders on the applications received by the Deputy Commissioner of Bengaluru (Urban) seeking the use of Idgah Maidan at Chamarajpet.

Karnataka State Board Of Auqaf Chairman Moulana Shafi Saadi in New Delhi said, the supreme court order is a welcome one, as it don't allow attempts to disturb Hindu-Muslim unity, because of Chamrajpet Idgah ground issue.

"The Supreme Court has upheld the Places of Worship Act of 1991 and has ordered status quo. I want to tell Hindu brothers that Karnataka's Muslims are not against Ganesha festival celebrations, Islam does not preach opposing other's religious practices," he said, maintaining that Idgah is a Waqf property where Muslims have performed Namaz for 200 years.

Police have made tight security arrangements in and around Idgah ground at Chamarajpet, ahead of the Supreme Court hearing the matter today and had even held a "route march".

A Division Bench of the High Court of Karnataka on August 26 had modified an interim order of a single judge bench on the Chamrajpet Idgah playground dispute, saying religious and cultural activities can be allowed by the government there, but for a limited period from August 31.

Earlier, the court on August 25 had ordered that the two-acre land should be used only as a playground and Muslims should be allowed to pray there on only two festivals -- Bakrid and Ramzan -- till the case was disposed of.

Noting that no such function as Ganesh Chaturthi was organised at Idgah Maidan for the past 200 years, the top court asked the parties to approach the Karnataka High Court for the resolution of the dispute.

In a special hearing held at 4:45 pm, a three-judge bench headed by Justice Indira Banerjee observed that the pooja be held somewhere else.

"The writ petition is pending before the Single Bench of the High Court and has been fixed for hearing on September 23, 2022. All questions/issues may be agitated in the High Court."

"In the meanwhile, status quo, as of date, with regard to the land in question shall be maintained by both the parties. The special leave petitions are, accordingly, disposed of," the bench also comprising Justices Abhay S Oka and M M Sundresh said.

The top court was hearing an appeal filed by the Central Muslim Association of Karnataka and Karnataka Waqf Board challenging the order of the High Court.

A division bench of the Karnataka High Court on August 26 permitted the state government to consider and pass appropriate orders on the applications received by the Deputy Commissioner of Bengaluru (Urban) seeking the use of Idgah Maidan at Chamarajpet.

Earlier in the day, Chief Justice of India U U Lalit constituted a three-judge bench to hear a plea by the Karnataka Waqf Board and Central Muslim Association of Karnataka challenging the High Court's order which allowed the use of Idgah Maidan in Bengaluru for Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations.

The order came after a two-judge bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia referred the issue to CJI citing a difference of opinion.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioner, submitted before the three-judge bench that it is an admitted position that no religious function has been performed of any other community at the Idgah Maidan for the last 200 years.

Sibal said Idgah is Waqf's property and there is an attempt to change the character of Maidan.

"The Supreme Court judgement established that Muslims were in possession and that it was an Idgah and that the municipal corporation had no right over the same. We don't speak of politics in court but this reeks of something. What is the atmosphere being created? Suddenly they say it is the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike ground?" he said.

At this, the bench asked, "If the grievance is only against Ganesh Chaturthi or any other function as well."

Sibal replied that they have an objection against the use of the land for any other purpose.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, also appearing for the petitioners, argued that Muslims have the right to administer their waqf property and the state government cannot interfere.

"My lords, don't give the impression to religious minorities that their rights can be trampled," he said.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the state government, said that for the past 200 years, the Idgah land was used as a playground for children and all revenue entries are in the name of the State.

He said the Waqf Board is not in "exclusive possession" of the Idgah land.

"What is that the High Court has done? Every part of this country you have festivals. In Bengal, you have Durga Puja, in Maharashtra, roads are closed for Ganesh Chaturthi. One should be broad-minded. What is going to happen if Ganesh Chaturthi is allowed for two days," he submitted adding that "Can somebody say no because it is a Hindu festival?" Dave suddenly got up and asked.

"I wonder if, in any temple in this country, a minority community will be allowed for prayers."

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, also appearing for the State, made a proposal to allow Ganesh Puja for two days and said the rest of the issues can be decided later.

Mehta said the state government would undertake to take care of the law and order situation in the area.

Dave again interjected and said, "Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister had also given an assurance to this court but Babri mosque was still demolished."

The apex court sought to know if any preparations have been done at the land for the celebrations tomorrow.

Rohatgi replied negatively.

The division bench of the high court had said that religious and cultural activities can be allowed by the government there, but for a limited period from August 31.

The Single Judge had ordered that the 2-acre of land should be used only as a playground and Muslims should be allowed to pray there on only two festivals- Bakrid and Ramzan- till the case was disposed of.

The Hindu organisations sought permission for holding the Ganesh Chaturthi festival at the maidan.

The Joint Commissioner (west) of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had ruled that the property belonged to the Revenue Department following the civic body's Chief Commissioner's directions to verify the ownership of the land.

Source: New Indian Express

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After Amroha cattle killing horror, Muslim man electrocutes cows at gaushala in Maharashtra

August 31, 2022

Jalna: In a horrifying incident, a Muslim man electrocuted 10 cows at a ‘gaushala’ in Maharashtra’s Jalna.

The accused has been identified as Latif Sheikh, according to Organiser Weekly.

Four of the 10 cows electrocuted were pregnant. The report further stated that the gaushala had 19 cows and six calves which were regularly fed by the villagers.

This comes after a Muslim man was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police for feeding green millet fodder laced with nitrate to hundreds of cows. Mohammad Tahir, food supplier and the main accused for poisoning the animal, was arrested days after 61 bovines died and several others were allegedly taken ill after allegedly consuming poisonous fodder in a gaushala (cow shelter) at Santhalpur village in Amroha district of Uttar Pradesh.

Mohammad Tahir was arrested from Adampur area. A reward of Rs 50,000 was announced by the police on him.

Back then, Uttar Pradesh Cabinet minister Gulabo Devi had said that the National Security Act (NSA) would be invoked against those found guilty.

The Department of Animal Husbandry, Uttar Pradesh, had ordered officials to minimise or avoid use of green fodder to stray cattle in gaushalas.

Source: Firstpost

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South Asia


Prime Minister: Bombing, Bloodshed Ended Since Islamic Emirate Takeover

September 1, 2022

KABUL: Large number of people on Wednesday celebrated August 31 during separate gatherings in several provinces of the country.

The Prime Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund at a huge gathering to celebrate the first anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Emirate on Wednesday said: “I congratulate all mothers who lost their children, the orphans who lost their father and the Mujahidin who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of Afghanistan on this honorable day.”

During a gathering, the prime minister congratulated this day to Mujahidin who have sacrificed their lives or lost members of their bodies in Jihad. PM said the aspirations of Jihad are not wasted.

Mujahidin should not forget the nation, focus on following Islamic rules and work for the development of the country and the nation.

“You are the people of Jihad who fought the occupation for 20 years, thank Allah, and do not be mistaken by the rumors and propaganda of those who have brought nothing but pain and suffering to the nation,” he added.

The Islamic Emirate said that the world should come to negotiations for resolving problems instead of making excuses for creating more problems, the IEA Prime Minister said adding the Islamic Emirate was ready to talk with them.

In the meeting which was attended by wide number of government authorities including former government officials, jihadi leaders and influential figures, the country’s acting Defense Minister Mullah Mohammad Yaqoub inspected the Islamic Emirate’s air and ground military units’ parades and praised their sacrifices for the restoration of the Islamic system.

Also, the spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Zabihullah Mujahid spoke in the grand ceremony, congratulated the day to the Mujahidin of the Islamic Emirate and the entire people of Afghanistan and said: “The last U.S. troops left Afghanistan on August 31, the same day last year.”

Source: The Kabul Times

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Islamic Emirate Forces Celebrate Anniversary of US Withdrawal

September 1, 2022

The Islamic Emirate forces took to the streets of Kabul to celebrate the first anniversary of the withdrawal of the last American forces from Afghanistan.

Some members of the Islamic Emirate said Afghanistan would take several years to reach “freedom."

“A home could be not fixed properly in one year, so this is now a whole country. We hope God help us to recover the trade and economy in the country,” said Hamdullah, a member of the Islamic Emirate.

Meanwhile, residents of Kabul praised the proper security in the country but said that economic challenges have rapidly increased.

They said that there are major problems that need to be solved.

“If the Islamic Emirate controls the economic situation, there will be no other problems in Afghanistan,” said Abdul Ghafar, a resident of Kabul.

“The poor should be considered and provided with assistance,” said Hafizullah, a resident of Kabul.

Source: Tolo News

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A year since US pullout: How Taliban 2.0 has changed Afghanistan

Aug 31, 2022

NEW DELHI: A year ago today, Taliban fighters celebrated joyously as the last American troops were boarding their flights back home.

"The last American soldier left Kabul airport at 9pm Afghan time and our country gained full independence, Alhamdulillah Walmana," Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted in the early hours of August 31, 2021.

The historic visual (see below) of Major General Chris Donahue boarding the final US military flight out of Afghanistan marked an official end to America's two-decade-long bloody war in Afghanistan.

But the war within the country never stopped. In fact, it only got worse.

Living in fear

In the year since America's pullout, the Taliban have tightened their grip on power in Afghanistan and now control every sphere of life, directly or indirectly.

As a result, the lives of Afghans have deteriorated significantly.

The Taliban-ruled Afghanistan government has imposed various restrictions on women, media and other aspects of life.

Compared to their first reign, the Taliban did adopt some positive changes.

Afghans now have access to televisions, can watch cricket matches at stadiums and women journalists are allowed to interview government officials — something that was unthinkable during Taliban's first reign.

However, most of these changes are superficial.

Their trigger-happy foot soldiers roam freely in public, imposing their reign of terror and thrashing — sometimes even killing — people on mere suspicion or no reason at all.

There have been several reports of Taliban gunmen beating women protesters, hounding journalists and killing members of ethnic tribes.

A recent report in Guardian said that Taliban once beat girls "just for smiling and talking too loud."

Moreover, some cracks have also opened within Taliban's ranks over the crucial question of just how much reform their leaders can tolerate.

The group's hardline core, composed of battle-hardened veteran fighters, is against any significant ideological change that could be viewed as a sign of capitulation to their enemies in the West.

"You have one (Taliban) camp, which is pushing ahead with what they're seeing as reforms, and another camp that seems to think even these meagre reforms are too much," said Ibraheem Bahiss, an Afghanistan analyst with International Crisis Group.

Without significant progress, it is the Afghan people who suffer as the country reels under a massive economic crisis that has seen some families choose between selling their organs or their infant daughters.

A year on, no recognition still

After their lightning takeover of Afghanistan last year, Taliban 2.0 went on a PR overdrive to convince the world that they are more moderate and tolerant than before.

The agenda was clear: they wanted diplomatic recognition which would have helped them steer the country out of a growing economic crisis.

The United States and its allies — which had bankrolled Afghanistan for 20 years — have locked the country out of the global banking system and billions in frozen assets abroad.

Without recognition, Taliban won't be able to access these funds or enter into any bilateral partnership with another country.

The US had repeatedly made it clear that no legitimacy is possible unless the Taliban reverse their restrictions on women and induct representatives of other ethnic Afghan groups into the government.

And that is yet to happen.

The Biden administration recently said that it's too early to consider recognition for Taliban even as some countries are beginning a very slow process of normalisation of relations.

Unlike last time, even Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and UAE have not yet formally recognised Taliban rule.

Meanwhile, the Taliban continue to staunchly defend their restrictions on women and other policies, saying they are strictly in line with Afghan culture and Sharia.

Hibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban’s hardline supreme leader, said recently he would run the country in accordance with Sharia and won't compromise.

Terror on Afghan soil

US's killing of dreaded al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri at his Kabul hideout this month busted Taliban's assurances that they won't allow terror groups to operate on Afghan soil.

Though US proved that it's still able to eliminate terrorists in Afghanistan despite pulling out its troops on the ground, Zawahiri's killing did raise critical questions about Taliban's own commitment against terror.

"The location of the Zawahri hit makes for terrible optics for the Taliban and exposes its hubris ... he was killed in a house belonging to a senior aide to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the acting Taliban minister of interior and leader of the powerful Haqqani faction of the Taliban.

"This exposes both the Taliban’s and Sirajuddin’s duplicity, and the strong, persistent affinity between al-Qaida and the Taliban," said Vanda Felbab-Brown, an organized crime expert at Brookings Institution.

Earlier this year, the United Nations sanctions monitor had warned that al-Qaeda "enjoys greater freedom in Afghanistan" under Taliban.

While Taliban are actively fighting against ISIK (Islamic State in Khorasan), their principal enemy, they seem to look the other way when it comes to other terror groups, including the most dreaded: al-Qaida.

Moreover, Taliban have also not been able to stop groups like TTP from attacking Pakistan, exposing their limits in preventing external threats emanating from Afghanistan.

Plunging Pakistan ties

Pakistan has facilitated the Taliban rebellion for the last 20 years which ultimately resulted in the recapturing of the country.

Last year, Pakistanis celebrated Taliban's hostile take over of Afghanistan with then Pakistan PM Imran Khan declaring Afghans had broken the "shackles of slavery."

Pakistan's involvement in Taliban's affairs was more apparent than ever when then ISI chief Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed dashed to Kabul amid reports of infighting in Taliban. "Everything will be okay," he had said confidently during his visit.

But one year later, enthusiasm for Taliban rule waned among most Pakistanis who had supported it.

Since assuming power, the Taliban leaders have drifted away from Pakistan by challenging the status of the Durand Line (Afghan-Pakistan border) and providing a safe haven to the anti-Pakistan insurgent group the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban.

TTP has launched a wave of terror attacks against Pakistan, killing thousands of Pakistanis over the year. They seek to establish a Taliban-style, Shariah-compliant state in Pakistan.

But despite Pakistan's protests, the Taliban have been weary about going against groups like TTP. In fact, they have been accused of covertly supporting them.

Taliban's refusal to act as a compliant neighbour has greatly irked Pakistan, severely impacting ties between the two.

Closer ties with India?

While Pakistan is losing its grip on Taliban leadership amid friction in ties, India is slowly, but surely, gaining a foothold in Afghanistan.

In the last few months, India supplied several consignments of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

Recently, the Indian embassy in Kabul resumed operations after suspending its office since the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021.

The Taliban said India's diplomatic presence in Afghanistan would result in the completion of "unfinished projects" that India had initiated and the commencement of new ones.

Trade between the countries has also flourished of late.

Earlier in August, China’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Yue Xiaoyong, visited India and held discussions with officials on the security situation and humanitarian aid in Afghanistan.

This was the first such trip by a Chinese special envoy on Afghanistan as Beijing recognised India as an important stakeholder in the war-hit country.

India has not dithered from its position that it wants an inclusive government in Afghanistan that ensures that Afghanistan soil is not used as a safe haven for terrorists. Pretty much in line with what US seeks to achieve in the country.

With a cautious return to Kabul, New Delhi can maintain its ear to the ground and retain its role as a key stakeholder in Afghanistan. More importantly, it will help India keep a check on Pakistan-based terror groups using Afghan soil to pose a threat to India.

China's conundrum

In the early days following the Taliban takeover, China was one of the first countries to reach out to Afghanistan's hardline rulers.

As US moved its troops out of Afghanistan, China saw a big opportunity in mineral-rich Afghanistan. The outreach was mutual since Taliban also wanted China's support to get recognition on the global stage.

However, with Taliban failing to find any legitimacy, including from China, the plan went into cold storage.

A year on, China has only managed to offer economic support to Afghanistan without the coveted gift of diplomatic recognition.

Amid large-scale security and logistical challenges, China is finding it difficult to keep its economic interests alive in the war-torn country. Two of its existing projects in Afghanistan are also in limbo due to the unstable situation in the country.

China has also been lobbying for Taliban authority at international forums and betting on Afghanistan getting official recognition from countries. Without it, China won't be able to do business in the country.

Michael Kugelman, the deputy director of the Asia Program, told Voice of America, that the "cordiality" between China and the Taliban should not be viewed as a prelude to recognition.

"China is still a long way off from that, and it's unlikely to take that step unless several other countries do first, or at the same time," he said.

He said that Beijing will be comfortable in engaging with the Taliban if China concludes it is safe on the ground.

Without political stability and recognition, China's interests in Afghanistan will remain largely diplomatic, not economic.

Russia's ties with Taliban 2.0

Russia, more than any other country, has had a long and bloody history with Taliban.

As USSR, the Russians fought Taliban for several years before they were defeated and thrown out of the country — with the help of Pakistan and US — in 1992.

But a lot has changed since the early 1990s. After the Taliban came back to power last year, Russia sought to approach its ties with Afghanistan differently, one in which they would emerge as "winners" unlike last time.

Years after the dust settled on the Soviet-Afghan war, Moscow made a comeback as an influential power broker in international talks on Afghanistan.

It worked continuously to cultivate ties with the Taliban, hosting their representatives for a series of bilateral and multilateral meetings.

In fact, when Taliban were taking over, Russia said it wouldn't evacuate its embassy in Kabul, and its ambassador quickly met with the Taliban for what he described as "constructive" talks after they captured Kabul.

Not surprisingly, Russia was seeking to emerge as a key partner in Afghanistan to ensure that Taliban wouldn't threaten the interests of Moscow and ex-Soviet allies in Central Asia.

However, things have changed quite a bit since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

With Kremlin now invested heavily in its 6-month-long war with Kyiv, Russia's interests in Afghanistan took a backseat.

Afghanistan, too, has remained cold on diplomatic ties with Russia. Earlier this year, its representatives in the UN voted for a resolution denouncing Russia's war against Ukraine. Though Afghanistan was represented by the ambassador of the previously elected democratic government, not Taliban.

Nevertheless, with Russia's occupation of eastern Ukraine, Taliban would be careful not to seek support from an international pariah like Russia.

"The Taliban would have serious reservations about cozying up to Russia, even in a time of need, when the Russian assault on Ukraine is looking more and more like the Soviet Union’s devastating occupation of Afghanistan," said Scott Worden, director of Afghanistan and Central Asia Programs, in an article on US Institute of Peace (USIP).

Keeping ear to the ground

America may have pulled its troops out of Afghanistan but is seeking to keep its ear to the ground and maintain its presence in the conflict-ridden Middle East and Central Asian regions.

The US is seeking key alliances to remain a vital player in the region while not getting its own military entangled.

Recently, the I2U2 group of countries, ‘I2’ standing for India and Israel and ‘U2’ representing US and UAE, held their first summit level virtual meet in July.

The alliance, which is dubbed the "West Asia Quad", is aimed at promoting joint investments in six mutually determined areas such as water, energy, transport, space, health and food security. Though unlike Quad, which comprises US, India, Australia and Japan, I2U2 does not include cooperation in the areas of defence and security.

However, analysts consider the alliance as part of US efforts to counter China in West and South Asia.

Source: Times Of India

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Taliban Says Pressure and Sanctions against Afghans Have Failed

By Saqalain Eqbal

31 Aug 2022

In a statement released on the first anniversary of the “country’s freedom from the American occupation,” the Taliban claimed that the day marked the victory of their 20-year Jihad against the “American occupiers” and stated that pressure policies and sanctions against the Afghan people had not only failed but had made matters worse.

The Taliban government’s spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, said on the first anniversary of the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan that people should “understand the significance and importance of this triumph” and “build a sound and stable Islamic system” with continuous efforts.

According to the Taliban Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, the Taliban has declared Wednesday, August 31, a public holiday in celebration of the day the last US soldier left Afghanistan, concluding the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

After a year of Taliban rule, no country has yet recognized the Taliban. In addition, the group has not been able to achieve legitimacy inside the country either.

The Taliban seek legitimacy and recognition based on their territorial dominance rather than by maintaining the norms and values of the international community, according to Markus Potzel, the Acting Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan.

Potzel briefed the UN Security Council, where the Chargé d’Affaires of Afghanistan Permanent Mission to the United Nations, Naseer Ahmad Faiq also spoke on the current situation of Afghanistan.

Source: Khaama Press

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U.S. Prevents Int’l Community to Recognize Taliban: Mujahid

By Arif Ahmadi

01 Sep 2022

KABUL, Afghanistan – Islamic Emirate’s spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid in an interview with TOLOnews on Wednesday said that Washington has been preventing the international community from recognizing the caretaker government of Afghanistan.

This came at a time the Taliban leadership continue to push for formal recognition since the takeover last August, but the world leaders – including international community – put upfront conditions before approving such an autonomy to the well-known terrorist group.

“They have been defeated here and suffered a lot of human and financial loss and were politically damaged,” Muhahid said, as local media quoted.

Addressing the need for world’s cooperation, the spokesman said recognizing the Islamic Emirate as the independent government is in the interest of both Afghanistan and the region, adding political and economic engagement is key to success.

“In such a situation, they might not be ready to engage but there is a need for both sides,” Mujahid explains. “They would benefit from it and it is in the interest of Afghanistan and the region.”

Meanwhile, the spokesperson said they want to have an official interaction with the international community, which is their legal right as an independent government and that should not harmed by any means.

“This is our right and no one should look down at our independence and should not inflict damage on us,” Mujahid said. “They may recognize us as an independent country and should engage officially within the world’s norms.”

Addressing a widespread demand for an inclusive government in Afghanistan, the Taliban spokesman said it is an interference with the country’s internal affairs, exclaiming the time for negotiation is over the moment foreign troops withdrew.

“Its time (for negotiation) has passed. We were saying to solve the issue via negotiations before military actions and solve it via agreement, thus the situation would have been better now,” he said.

Last month, ambassador of the European Union for Afghanistan Andreas Von Brandt, at a meeting in the European Parliament, drew attention to the increasing hunger crisis in Afghanistan, saying there is consensus on non-recognition of the Taliban government in Western world.

According to Brandt, the world is trying to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan, not to the de facto government, exclaiming the consensus of the international community is that the Islamic Emirate should not be given formal recognition.

“We have a very cautious approach…and I think …if there are a few good things at the moment it is, that there is the tremendous consensus on the non-recognition in the entire Western world and I actually don’t see that changing in the near future,” he said, as TOLOnews quoted.

Source: Khaama Press

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China blasts 'wealthy' US for illegally occupying 'poor' Syria, plundering its resources

31 August 2022

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman has denounced the illegal presence of US military forces in Syria, saying Washington’s continued looting of the war-torn country’s energy and mineral resources has only exacerbated the suffering of the Syrian people.

“It is appalling to see the sheer scale of US plundering in Syria, which has been going on as the country tries to emerge from a crisis that has dragged on for over a decade and a grave humanitarian crisis facing its people," Zhao Lijian said at a regular press conference in Beijing on Tuesday.

"There is no greater injustice than the world’s wealthiest country robbing one of the poorest,” he hastened to add.

The spokesperson stressed that the US aerial attacks across Syria have resulted in a high number of civilian casualties and immeasurable economic loss, and displaced more than 12 million people.

“Just last week, the US military launched another round of airstrikes in eastern Syria in a string of violations against Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Zhao noted, referring to the August 26 attack in Deir al-Zour province.

The spokesman decried harsh US economic sanctions on Syria, arguing that the bans have cut the Syrian nation off basic necessities of life and seriously obstructed the country’s economic development and reconstruction.

“US troops control Syria’s oil, natural gas and other natural resources. They continue to occupy Syria’s main oil fields and have plundered more than 80% of the country’s oil products. They have smuggled and burned Syria’s grain stock, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis there,” Zhao stressed.

“The US should thoroughly reflect on its war-related crimes, stop its illegal military presence and operations in Syria, lift unilateral sanctions on Syria, and stop stealing oil and grain from Syria. The US needs to return to Syrian people the freedom, wealth and dignity that are rightfully theirs."

The US military has for long stationed its forces and equipment in northeastern Syria, with the Pentagon claiming that the deployment is aimed at preventing the oilfields in the area from falling into the hands of Daesh terrorists.

Damascus, however, maintains the deployment is meant to plunder the country’s natural resources. Former US president Donald Trump admitted on several occasions that American forces were in the Arab country for its oil wealth.

On Monday, Iran’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations said the United States has unlawfully stationed its military in the energy-rich northeastern part of Syria under the pretext of "combating terrorism", urging an end to the US occupation of Syria and its support for terrorism.

Zahra Ershadi made the remarks at a United Nations Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East (Syria) in New York.

“The United States’ presence in the northeast of Syria under the pretext of combating terrorism is a clear violation of the UN Charter, international law, and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria,” Ershadi remarked.

“It is the United States that is working with the terrorist groups in Syria and destabilizing peace and security in the region. The United States must cease its violation of international law and the UN Charter by ending its continuing support for terrorist groups and occupation of the northeastern part of Syria.”

Source: Press TV

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Iran Urges Western Gov'ts to Stop Terrorists' Exemption from Punishment


Kazem Gharibabadi is the Vice-President of the Judiciary for International Affairs and the Secretary-General of the High Council for Human Rights of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The office warned that following more than seven decades of ratification of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the world public are being affected by extremism, hatred, and violence.

If once world wars were the main reason behind deaths of millions of human beings throughout the world, nowadays it has been replaced by terrorism, which causes deaths of thousands of innocent people, the statement added.

The malicious phenomenon of terrorism as the instrumental use of the phenomenon by certain states has caused deaths of innocent people in different places around the world every day, it warned, noting that terrorism has never been in a unified framework, but it has showcased new appearances for instance by the use of drones in terrorism, bioterrorism, and cyber-terrorism.

The classification of terrorism into good and bad sorts is a kind of misuse of the phenomenon to distort rival’s mindsets, whitewash terrorism, and grant exemption to terrorists, while their crimes will never be subject to expiration based on international criminal law, the statement read.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is considered the main victim of terrorism in the world, it mentioned, arguing that the assassination of more than 17k innocent people within four decades, as well as the assassination of Iranian scientists and important figures, in particular Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, are among the blatant instances of terrorism engineering against Iran.

Nowadays, Western countries especially the US have turned into a safe-haven hideout for terrorist groups such as the MEK and these governments provide the terrorists with political, security, information, technical, financial, and media support, the statement added.

The Iranian Judiciary Human Rights Headquarter strongly condemned all sorts of terrorism and fervently opposed policies of certain Western countries like the US, who attempt to classify terrorism into good and bad.

Iran considers the Counter-Terrorism Day as the day of scrutinizing and holding accountable governments backing terrorism.

Referring to the UN Charter, it added that the Islamic Republic of Iran expresses readiness to coordinate with its neighboring states at a geographical level and that it is determined to conduct an inclusive and purposeful fight against the malicious phenomenon in West Asia.

August 30 has been designated as Counter-Terrorism Day because it coincides with the assassination of the then Iranian president, prime minister, and their entourage in Tehran in 1981.

The bombing of the prime minister’s office was carried out by anti-Iran elements, who had connections with certain Western governments in a bid to target democratic pillars of the new-born establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In a relevent development in February, Deputy Chief of the Iranian Judiciary and head of the country's Human Rights Headquarters Kazzem Qaribabadi said that it is shameful for members of the European Parliament to turn a blind eye to the crimes committed by the anti-Iran Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO also known as MEK, NCRI or PMOI) terrorist group.

Qaribabadi lashed out at the European Parliament for supporting the MKO and referring to it as “political opponents”.

It is shameful for members of the European Parliament to pursue their own political interests and turn a blind eye to the crimes committed by the MKO, which has killed over 12,000 innocent Iranians and still continues its terrorist activities while freely traveling through European countries, he said.

“The Europeans should know that as their support for the ISIL has backfired on them in a way that more than 4,000 ISIL members were European citizens and created insecurity for them, their support for the MKO will equally be costly,” Qaribabadi said.

He added that the US and Europe have committed the most heinous crimes against Iran by supporting terrorist groups, sheltering them and excluding them from the list of terrorist groups as well as imposing or implementing unlawful and oppressive sanctions.

“The European Parliament and European countries must stand accountable for their human rights violations against Iranians. They are in no position to preach others in the field of human rights,” Qaribabadi stated.

He also denounced the recent European Parliament resolution on the death penalty in Iran, saying it is based on political goals and fails to represent the existing realities in the country.

"This resolution encompasses distorted and fabricated issues and is not consistent with the existing realities in Iran, but it has been prepared with completely political purposes."

The Iranian official said the execution penalty is being implemented in 55 countries throughout the world and urged the European Parliament and European countries to respect other nations’ laws and cultural diversity when it comes to human rights issues.

According to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the death penalty is permissible when it comes to capital crimes, he said, criticizing the Europeans for imposing their own standards on other countries in contradiction to their sovereignty.

Europeans must learn to respect national sovereignty of other countries and know that they cannot support their criminal citizens and demand their release through threats, the Iranian official said.

Reports said in December that several members of the MKO terrorist group were detained in Europe for money laundering and drug and human trafficking.

Albanian newspaper 'Exit' reported that a document, addressed to a foreign diplomatic recipient, bearing the signature and stamp of the Director of the Criminal Police Department in the State Police, gives details of a serious rap sheet of offences, reportedly involving MKO members.

It added that two MKO members, along with their Albanian and Greek accomplices, were apprehended for direct involvement in human trafficking. On 11 July 2021, police stopped a car carrying Syrian, Iraqi, and Kurdish citizens. Further investigations led to the arrest of the main gang members.

Based on the document, it was discovered that between 2019 and 2021, the same smuggling gang attempted to transfer some 400 members of MKO from Albania to France.

Meantime, on 18 July 2021, a consignment of drugs was seized by the police and two MKO senior officials, Narges Abrishamchi and Hassan Nayeb-Aqa, were arrested. It is reported in the official document they confessed to playing a pivotal role in organizing and transporting a shipment of drugs to Italy.

This pattern of criminality, according to an official source who wished to remain anonymous, told 'Exit', dates back to 2015. The documents and the source claim that information on these crimes has also been handed over to the US embassy in Tirana.

'Exit' contacted the US embassy to comment but no formal response has been given.

The MKO is listed as a terrorist organization by much of the international community. Its members fled Iran in 1986 for Iraq, where they received support from then dictator Saddam Hussein.

The notorious outfit has carried out numerous attacks against Iranian civilians and government officials for several decades.

In 2012, the US State Department removed the MKO from its list of designated terrorist organizations under intense lobbying by groups associated to Saudi regime and other regimes adversarial to Iran.

A few years ago, MKO members were relocated from their Camp Ashraf in Iraq’s Diyala Province to Camp Hurriyet (Camp Liberty), a former US military base in Baghdad, and were later sent to Albania.

Those members, who have managed to escape, have revealed MKO's scandalous means of access to money, almost exclusively coming from Riyadh.

The MKO terrorist group specified the targets as martyred Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, who commanded the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and Iranian President Seyed Ebrahim Rayeesi.

The terrorist organization said it would “welcome” their assassination, adding that it desired for the ranking officials to “join” Asadollah Lajevardi, Tehran’s former chief prosecutor, and Ali Sayyad-Shirazi, a former commander of the Iranian Army’s Ground Forces during Iraq’s 1980-88 war against Iran.

Earlier in June 2019, a leaked audio of a phone conversation between two members of MKO, revealed Saudi regime has colluded with the MKO elements to frame Iran for the tanker attacks in the Persian Gulf.

In the audio, which is being released by the Iran Front Page for the first time, Shahram Fakhteh, an official member and the person in charge of MKO’s cyber operations, is heard talking with a US-based MKO sympathizer named Daei-ul-Eslam in Persian, IFP news reported.

In this conversation, the two elements discuss the MKO’s efforts to introduce Iran as the culprit behind the tanker attacks in the Persian Gulf, and how the Saudis contacted them to pursue the issue.

“In the past week we did our best to blame the [Iranian] regime for the (oil tanker) blasts. Saudis have called Sister Maryam (Rajavi)’s office to follow up on the results, [to get] a conclusion of what has been done, and the possible consequences,” Fakhteh is heard saying.

“I guess this can have different consequences. It can send the case to the UN Security Council or even result in military intervention. It can have any consequence,” Daei-ul-Eslam says.

Attacks on two commercial oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on June 13, 2019 and an earlier attack on four oil tankers off the UAE’s Fujairah port on May 12, 2019, escalated tensions in West Asia and raised the prospect of a military confrontation between Iran and the United States.

The US, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have rushed to blame Iran for the incidents, with the US military releasing a grainy video it claimed shows Iranian forces in a patrol boat removing an unexploded mine from the side of a Japanese-owned tanker which caught fire in 2019.

It later released some images of the purported Iranian operation after the video was seriously challenged by experts and Washington’s own allies.

The MKO which is said to be a cult which turns humans into obedient robots, turned against Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution and has carried out several terrorist attacks killing senior officials in Iran; yet the West which says cultism is wrong and claims to be against terrorism, supports this terrorist group officially.

After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the MKO began its enmity against Iran by killing over 17,000 Iranians and terrorist activities. Several members of the terrorist group and its leaders are living in France now, freely conducting terrorist activities.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iranian Military Source Describes US as Root Cause of Instability in Persian Gulf


"The illegal presence of the US forces in the Persian Gulf has always caused insecurity and instability," an Iranian military official speaking on the condition of anonymity told Nour News, a media outlet close to Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC).

"The US military’s practice of sailing unmanned military vessels in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman under the cover of research is endangering shipping in the bodies of water," the officila added.

In a report on Tuesday evening, Nour News released details of the brief seizure and release of an unmanned surface vessel (USV) belonging to the US military by the naval forces of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) in the Persian Gulf waters.

The outlet said the IRGC Navy moved, in a timely action, to take control of the vessel, whose “navigational communications had been cut off”, by a support vessel and began to tow it.

The measure, the report added, was meant to prevent a maritime accident and keeping the shipping lines secure.

The vessel was later released upon a decision by the commander of the Iranian support ship when a US patrol ship arrived at the scene and was briefed over security risks, it noted.

Referring to the timely action of the IRGC Navy, the Iranian military source stated that recently, "a large number of unmanned military vessels have been sent by the US Navy to the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman", which, in addition to threatening the security of shipping lines, has also led to some maritime accidents.

“As in the past, we will not be indifferent to acts that cause insecurity in the region, and, to prevent any kind of instability, we will continue our legal obligations in the form of missions inherently to protect and secure shipping lines,” he continued.

Tehran stresses the presence of the trans-regional forces has been a cause of tensions in the region, but says the country's forces are closely monitoring the entire region. Iranian military officials added that peace and security in the region can be achieved through cooperation among the regional states and in absence of foreigners.

Back in July, Commander of the IRGC Navy Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri declared Iran's full preparedness to fight off any plot of enemies against Tehran at its birth, stressing that the country's forces will teach a painful lesson to foes in case they launch any act of aggression against Iran.

“If the enemy takes any foolish measure to foment sedition or carry out an act of aggression against the Islamic establishment, we will respond in a way that would teach them and their allies a painful lesson and will nip that plot in the bud,” Rear Admiral Tangsiri said on Monday.

He added that the IRGC naval forces, which are deployed in the islands and along the operational routes of the elite force, maintain their combat readiness at the highest level in order to be able to carry out the most difficult missions at any time.

The senior Iranian commander noted the neighboring countries in the region enjoy the capability to ensure security in the important Persian Gulf region, emphasizing, "There is no need at all for the presence of foreign countries who want to be here with the justification of providing security."

Iran has repeatedly warned that any mistake by the US and Israel will be met with Tehran's crushing response.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Two Palestinians killed in West Bank clashes: Health ministry

01 September, 2022

Two Palestinians were killed early Thursday in separate clashes with the Israeli army in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said.

The ministry said in a statement that Samer Khaled, 25, from al-Ain camp in Nablus, suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the neck, and Yazan Afana, 26, from Qalandia camp outside Jerusalem, died after being shot in the heart.

The official Palestinian news agency Wafa said Khaled was killed when Israel soldiers stormed Balata refugee camp near Nablus, in the northern West Bank.

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

Afana was killed during an operation in al-Bireh, near Ramallah, the health ministry said.

A Palestinian official said the death of Afana was linked to fire from Palestinian militants, rather than the Israeli army.

The army said in a statement that its soldiers arrested six wanted men in operations throughout the West Bank overnight.

“During the operation (in Balata), the forces responded by firing after a shot was fired at them,” the army statement said.

“There are claims of a dead Palestinian,” it added.

The army said that during the operation in al-Bireh, its forces were attacked with stones and Molotov cocktails and responded using “riot dispersal means.”

It added that in this case too it had been informed of the death of a Palestinian.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Palestinian prisoner suspends hunger strike following Israel release deal

31 August, 2022

Palestinian prisoner Khalil Awawdeh ended a hunger strike lasting over 160 days on Wednesday after Israel agreed to his release in October, his lawyer said.

Awawdeh, 40, launched the hunger strike shortly after his arrest in December 2021 in protest of being held by Israel without charge or trial, a practice known as administrative detention.

Until he is discharged on October 2, Awawdeh will remain in hospital for treatment, his lawyer, Ahlam Haddad, told Reuters.

Haddad said Awawdeh has subsisted only on water for months and warned last week that he could “die at any moment” due to his deteriorating health.

Egyptian mediators recently pushed for Awawdeh’s release under a ceasefire agreement to end three days of fighting between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group that left 49 people dead in Gaza.

No comment was immediately available from the Israeli military, defense ministry or prison service.

Dawoud Shehab, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad spokesperson, hailed the agreement as an achievement, which he said came following weeks of effort.

“We are grateful for the big effort Egypt has exerted to secure the freedom of brother Awawdeh,” Shehab told Reuters.

In a video circulating on social media, Awawdeh, who appeared frail and bony and kept losing his breath as he spoke from a hospital bed, said he will remain hospitalized until he regains his health and can walk again.

Source: Al Arabiya

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North America


US assures Israel that Iran won't become a nuclear power

Vakkas Dogantekin 


US President Joe Biden on Wednesday reiterated his country's commitment to not allow Iran to become a nuclear power.

In a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Biden "underscored the U.S. commitment to never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon," according to a readout by the White House.

Hailing the "unbreakable bonds and friendship" between the two countries, Biden also stressed the importance of "concluding the maritime boundary negotiations between Israel and Lebanon in the coming weeks."

The phone call came amid concrete developments in the nuclear deal of major Western powers with Iran, an agreement fiercely opposed by Israel.

The US struck a guarded note of optimism Wednesday that it can reach an agreement with Iran on a mutual return to the landmark 2015 nuclear accord.

"We still remain hopeful that we can get a reimplementation of the JCPOA," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters, using the formal acronym for the agreement. “We do believe we're closer now than we have been in recent weeks and months, due in large part to Iran being willing to drop some of their demands that were not related to the deal at all.”

"We're cautiously optimistic that things can continue to move in the right direction," he added.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Biden urges Iraq ‘national dialogue’ in call with PM

01 September, 2022

US President Joe Biden urged Iraqis Wednesday to support dialogue to resolve a monthslong political crisis that erupted into violence, in a call with Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

Biden and Kadhimi “welcomed the return of security to the streets, and called on all Iraqi leaders to engage in a national dialogue to forge a common way forward consistent with Iraq’s constitution and laws,” a White House statement said.

Biden praised Kadhimi’s “personal leadership” and his efforts to “de-escalate tensions in the region through dialogue and diplomacy.”

The US leader also voiced support for “a sovereign and independent Iraq” amid the strong influence of Iran in the country invaded by the United States in 2003.

Iraq, which has been dominated by sectarian politics since the United States toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, has been without a government since October elections amid tension between powerful Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr and pro-Iran factions.

Kadhimi had in mid-August called for a national dialogue involving main political leaders, although Sadr did not agree to participate.

Source: Al Arabiya

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France, EU can cooperate with Türkiye on Ukraine, says UN envoy

Betul Yuruk  



France's permanent representative to the UN said the "rocky relationship" between France and Türkiye has now improved and the two countries can resume cooperation on matters, including the Russia-Ukraine war.

Türkiye and France have had tense relations in recent years over Syria, Libya, the Eastern Mediterranean, and other issues with both countries trading barbs at each other.

As France assumed the rotating UN Security Council presidency as of Sept. 1, Nicolas de Riviere sat down for an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency.

He said he was happy to see that relations with Türkiye had "improved a lot" and France and Europe could cooperate with Ankara.

"We are more than happy to cooperate with Turkey on Ukraine. I think it is absolutely critical," he said.

He welcomed all efforts to bring an end to the war in Ukraine, adding that Turkish efforts will remain critical.

French President Emmanuel Macron has attempted to be a mediator between Ukraine and Russia since the war began on Feb. 24.

De Riviere, however, painted a bleak picture of prospects for a cease-fire any time soon amid Ukraine's counter-offensive in the country's south.

"I am afraid that fighting will continue for a certain period of time. I don't think the cease-fire is coming soon," he said. "I am a little skeptical that Ukraine will be able to regain its lost territories. I would be surprised that Ukraine will be able to kick the Russians out of Donbas or to kick them out of Crimea."

Iran nuclear talks

Having served as France's chief negotiator for Iran nuclear talks, de Riviere also said that it is essential to return to the landmark 2015 accord for global security as the US voiced optimism that it can reach an agreement with Tehran after indirect talks mediated by the EU in Vienna earlier this month.

"Those who criticize the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) have probably no knowledge of the substance of the agreement and ignore the realities," he said.

The JCPOA saw an international inspections regime imposed on Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for relief from biting international sanctions that hobbled Iran's economy.

In 2018, then-President Donald Trump unilaterally left the agreement and re-imposed US sanctions in a fruitless effort to bring Iran back to the negotiating table.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Iran briefly seized US naval drone stranded in Persian Gulf to ensure maritime security: Nour News

31 August 2022

A website close to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) sheds light on the circumstances surrounding the brief seizure by Iranian naval forces of a US unmanned surface vessel stranded in the Persian Gulf, saying the measure was taken to prevent possible maritime incidents and safeguard shipping lanes.

Nour News reported on Tuesday that the naval forces of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) took “timely action” earlier in the day to seize the US vessel, whose “navigational system had failed,” and began towing it with the aim of supporting safe and secure shipping in the Persian Gulf.

The measure was also taken to avert the kind of incidents that the report said had occurred several times over the past weeks.

Nour News also reported that the ship was released on the order of the Iranian support vessel’s commander and only after a US fleet arrived at the scene and was reminded that it must observe shipping security and risk-free navigation.

The report dismissed the “Hollywoodesque narrative” offered by the US Navy with the intention of “covering up some of its failures” against Iranian naval forces in the Persian Gulf.

The US Navy tried to portray the development as an unprovoked attempt by the IRGC to capture the military vessel.

It claimed it kept Iran from seizing a Saildrone Explorer — the uncrewed vessel — in the Persian Gulf after the 5th Fleet noticed a ship operated by Iran’s IRGC Navy towing the American vessel.

The USS Thunderbolt and a Sea Hawk helicopter based in Bahrain responded to the incident, US Naval Forces Central Command said, adding that the Iranian ship eventually disconnected its tow line and left the area.

In provocative comments on the issue, US Central Command (CENTCOM) chief Michael Erik Kurilla charged that the incident demonstrated “Iran’s continued destabilizing, illegal, and unprofessional activity in the Middle East.”

‘Iran will not be passive against troublemakers’

Reacting to those comments, an informed military source told Nour News that the illegitimate presence of US military forces in the Persian Gulf had always caused insecurity.

“This trend, recently [reinforced] by the usage of unmanned vessels, has created new problems for safe shipping in the region,” the source said.

“As in the past, we will not be inactive against measures that cause insecurity in the region and we will continue our legal duties in the framework of our inherent missions of protecting and securing shipping routes to prevent any insecurity and instability,” the unnamed source added.

Source: Press TV

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UN report lists litany of rights abuses in China's Xinjiang

Sep 1, 2022

GENEVA: The United Nations released a bombshell report late Wednesday into serious human rights abuses in China's Xinjiang region, saying torture allegations were credible and citing possible crimes against humanity.

The long-awaited report detailed a string of rights violations against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the far-western region, but made no reference to genocide: one of the key allegations made by the United States and other critics.

"The extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim groups... may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity," the report said.

It said the world must now pay "urgent attention" to the human rights situation in Xinjiang.

The assessment brings the UN seal to many of the allegations about China's treatment of people in Xinjiang that have long been made by rights groups, Western nations and the Uyghur community in exile.

Michelle Bachelet, the UN human rights chief, decided that a full assessment was needed of the situation inside the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

The report was in the making for around a year, and China bitterly opposed its release.

Bachelet was determined to release it before her four-year term as the UN high commissioner for human rights expired at the end of August -- and did so with 13 minutes to spare at 11:47pm in Geneva.

"I said that I would publish it before my mandate ended and I have," Bachelet said in an email sent to AFP on Thursday.

"The politicisation of these serious human rights issues by some states did not help," she added.

China has been accused for years of detaining more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslims in the region.

Beijing has vehemently rejected the claims, insisting it is running vocational centres designed to curb extremism.

"Serious human rights violations have been committed in XUAR in the context of the government's application of counter-terrorism and counter-'extremism' strategies," the UN report said.

The assessment raised concerns about the treatment of people held in China's so-called "Vocational Education and Training Centres" (VETCs).

"Allegations of patterns of torture or ill-treatment, including forced medical treatment and adverse conditions of detention, are credible, as are allegations of individual incidents of sexual and gender-based violence," the report said.

The UN Human Rights Office could not confirm how many people were affected by the VETCs but concluded that the system operated on a "wide scale" across the entire region.

The number in the VETCs, at least between 2017 and 2019, "was very significant, comprising a substantial proportion of the Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim minority populations".

Campaigners have accused China of practicing forced sterilisation of women.

The report said there were "credible indications of violations of reproductive rights through the coercive enforcement of family planning policies".

China's mission in Geneva hit out at the report and maintained its firm opposition to its release.

"Based on the disinformation and lies fabricated by anti-China forces and out of presumption of guilt, the so-called 'assessment' distorts China's laws and policies, and wantonly smears and slanders China, and interferes in China's internal affairs," it said.

"People of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang are living a happy life in peace and contentment. It is the greatest human rights protection and the best human rights practice," the mission insisted.

Non-governmental organisations and campaign groups said the report should act as a launchpad for further action.

Human Rights Watch's China director Sophie Richardson said the "damning" findings of sweeping rights abuses showed why Beijing "fought tooth and nail" to prevent its publication.

The UN Human Rights Council should now investigate China's alleged crimes against humanity "and hold those responsible to account", she said.

Amnesty International's secretary general Agnes Callamard said the document "lays bare the scale and severity of the human rights violations taking place in Xinjiang".

She echoed the call for criminal accountability and said China "must immediately release all individuals" arbitrarily detained in camps, "end the persecution" of minorities and allow investigators in unfettered.

"This is a game-changer for the international response to the Uyghur crisis," said Uyghur Human Rights Project executive director Omer Kanat.

"Despite the Chinese government's strenuous denials, the UN has now officially recognised that horrific crimes are occurring."

Source: Times Of India

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Meeting between leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia, European Council kicks off in Brussels

Ceyhun Alizade 


A meeting between Azerbaijan's president, Armenia's premier, and the head of the European Council began in Brussels on Wednesday.

While the leaders are expected to discuss the latest developments in the Karabakh region, a region of the South Caucasus that in fall 2020 saw a 44-day war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, no information was revealed about the details of discussions.

This meeting comes a day after European Council President Charles Michel held a phone call with Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev to discuss the process of normalizing relations between Baku and Yerevan, as well as other issues on the agenda of the meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

Earlier on Tuesday, a meeting of a commission formed to determine the border between the two former Soviet republics was held in Moscow.

On Friday, Aliyev announced that the Azerbaijani army had moved into the strategic city of Lachin in Karabakh, as well as the villages of Zabukh and Sus.

After a Russia-brokered deal ended the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2020, the three countries agreed to develop economic ties and infrastructure for the benefit of the entire region.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Türkiye to submit radar logs to NATO showing harassment by Greece

Seda Sevencan 


Türkiye is planning to submit to NATO and its allies the radar logs showing how a Greek S-300 air defense system harassed Turkish F-16 jets during mission in international airspace, sources said on Wednesday.

Turkish jets engaged in missions over the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean Seas were harassed by the Russian-made S-300 air defense system stationed on the island of Crete on Aug. 23.

However, Greek military officials deny the act, which is described as "hostile" in the NATO Rules of Engagement.

The Turkish National Defense Ministry is preparing to send the radar records of the incident to the NATO Secretariat-General and the defense ministries of alliance members.

Türkiye, a NATO member for over 70 years, has complained of repeated provocative actions and rhetoric by Greece in the region in recent months, saying such moves frustrate its good faith-efforts for peace.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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How a UN fund gives hope to crisis-impacted children from Ecuador to Afghanistan

August 31, 2022

NEW YORK CITY/BOGOTA: Conflict, forced displacement, climate-induced disasters, and the compounding effect of the coronavirus pandemic have left hundreds of millions of children and adolescents — particularly girls — without access to quality education worldwide.

Today, 222 million young people living in regions affected by wars and disasters — in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and South America — are without access to uninterrupted or quality education.

According to analysis from Education Cannot Wait, the UN global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, 78.2 million of these crisis-impacted children are out of school and 119.6 million are not achieving minimum-competency levels in reading and mathematics despite attending school.

Nowhere, perhaps, is the education emergency more obvious than in Afghanistan, where the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021, combined with drought, the regime’s global isolation, and the country’s near-bankruptcy, has deprived millions of children of the right to decent schooling.

Following the US-led coalition’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in August last year, the resurgent Taliban insisted they had changed their ways and would allow women and girls to continue studying, thereby breaking with the strict policy of gender segregation the group had implemented while in power from 1996 to 2001.

However, on the morning of March 23 this year, when more than 1 million girls showed up at schools throughout Afghanistan, expecting to resume classes for the first time since the Taliban seized power, they were turned away from the gates.

Speaking at the launch of the fund’s 2021 annual report in New York City, ECW Director Yasmine Sherif told Arab News: “When we went to Kabul and spoke with the minister of education, there was a clear agreement that children and youth and young girls up to the age of 18 deserve to go to school. So, their starting point was, ‘yes, we need to develop a plan and a system.’

“It looked as if we were moving toward that. And then suddenly there was a decision in March to ban (secondary school girls from returning to the classroom), which took us all by surprise.”

Since its launch in 2017, the ECW has worked with governments, donors, UN agencies, civil society groups, the private sector, and communities to provide almost 7 million young people with quality education in some of the world’s most challenging humanitarian crises, with girls representing around half of its beneficiaries.

In 2021 alone, the agency reached 3.7 million children and adolescents, and an additional 11.8 million with its COVID-19 interventions. Its investments have been made possible through $1.1 billion in contributions to the ECW trust fund.

In August, the ECW published its annual results report for 2021 and its new strategic plan for 2023 to 2026 ahead of its high-level financing conference, due to take place in Geneva in February.

The fund views education as a life-saving and sustainable response to humanitarian crises, from the war in Yemen to the stabilization phase in Colombia. However, it is in countries such as Afghanistan, where years of progress in girls’ education are being actively rolled back, that action is needed most.

The Taliban’s about-face on secondary education for girls, which reportedly happened after a secret meeting of the group’s leadership in Kandahar, suggests that the ultraconservative wing still retains control over the regime’s ideological trajectory.

Primary school-aged girls in Afghanistan are permitted to receive schooling up until the sixth grade. Women are also allowed to attend university, albeit under rigorous gender segregation rules and only if they abide by a strictly enforced dress code.

The Taliban leadership has sought to justify its ban on secondary education for Afghan girls on the grounds of religious principle — a view that many Islamic scholars and civil society groups dispute.

Sherif said: “From what I have seen, speaking to them informally, there are those who want to resume education for secondary girls and there are those who do not.

“You have those who are educated, who are aware, who feel that sense of humanity that sort of binds every religion, doesn’t matter what religion. Humanity comes with any religion, whether it’s Islam or any other world religion. They understand from their heart that, ‘of course my daughter should go to school.’

“And then there are those who may not even understand their own religion.”

On the situation in the context of Afghanistan, Sherif added: “It depends on who interprets. It’s an interpretation issue. Sometimes it has to do with lack of education. It has to do with a lack of tolerance. It may have to do with many different reasons. There’s an internal struggle there. That’s not politics, that’s human behavior. That’s an internal struggle.

“So that’s what we got there, and we know that there are some really principled and strong people there who really want to see girls return to secondary school, who almost cry when you speak with them, and then there are those who are less emotive about it and may not feel that same desire.”

Although many Afghans were dismayed when the Taliban blocked secondary school-age girls returning to the classroom, those familiar with the puritanical rules and erratic policies of the group during its previous rule were not at all surprised.

Creeping ultraconservatism is evident in new rules that ban women without a hijab or male chaperone from traveling long distances, and the dismissal of women from jobs and positions of influence.

Sherif said the Organization of Islamic Cooperation could play an important role in the humanitarian response in Afghanistan that may offer an antidote to the Taliban’s uncompromising views on girls’ education.

“The OIC’s role is to work across the Islamic world and find commonalities and common interests. And it can play an instrumental role, especially when the de-facto authorities define themselves on a religious basis, Islamic emirate, the organization then naturally would be a useful partner,” she said.

The OIC is the second-largest intergovernmental organization after the UN, with 57 member states across four continents offering a collective voice for the Muslim world.

“There is no Muslim country today in the world where secondary girls do not go to school except Afghanistan. Secondary girls go to school in every Muslim country. They are holding leadership positions; they are going to universities. Women in the Muslim world play instrumental intellectual, scientific roles.

“And there are over 1 billion Muslims around the globe. It’s important that their voice is heard and that their perspectives are shared with the de-facto authorities in Afghanistan. It should be fair to listen to the OIC. They have a lot to share,” Sherif added.

In its effort to isolate the Taliban and force them to change their ways, the international community has prevented the regime from accessing billions of dollars in desperately needed aid, loans, and frozen assets held by the US, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.

Sherif said: “It is very important that we do not abandon Afghanistan, which is on an absolutely terrifying brink of humanitarian catastrophe.

“Actually, they are in a catastrophe already. When you are so poor that you have to sell your child to feed your family. When drug addiction has increased. When they don’t even have money to go to the hospital. They have to die or let their children die or sell their children.”

She noted that instead of abandoning the people of Afghanistan, multilateral and bilateral donors ought to target foreign aid in such a way that it bypasses the Taliban regime and delivers assistance at the point of need.

“The humanitarian imperative is not to be politically aligned or have anything to do with national budgets or provide resources to the government. It’s about delivering humanitarian assistance and that is the position of the UN civil society.

“The UN is there and delivering. It goes directly to the vulnerable population,” Sherif said.

Source: Arab News

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IHC serves notices in plea for removal of FIR under terrorism charges against Imran Khan

August 31, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday served notices to respondents in a petition seeking removal of a First Information Report (FIR) registered against PTI Chairman Imran Khan under the Anti Terrorism Act (ATA).

An IHC bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Saman Raffat Imtiaz heard the plea filed by Imran Khan challenging the FIR registered by Margalla Police Station against Imran Khan. The petitioner named Inspector General of Police and Deputy Inspector General of Police Islamabad, Station House Officer Margalla Police Station Margalla and others as respondents in the case.

Imran Khan adopted the stance that he had been the country’s prime minister. A case was registered against him on August 20, under ATA clauses in which he was accused of threatening a woman judge during his speech at F-9 Park, Islamabad.

He requested the court to order for the dismissal of the case against him. Imran Khan also prayed the court to stop police investigation till the final judgment into the case.

Imran Khan claimed that he had not hurled any threat, rather he hinted at taking legal action against the judge, the IGP and the DIG. None of the three persons was a complainant in the FIR against him, he added.

He said the case filed against him under anti-terrorism provisions was malicious. During the hearing, Barrister Salman Sadar and Advocate Haider Panjotha appeared before court on behalf of Imran Khan.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Pak soldier killed in Bajaur blast in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s province

31 August, 2022

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa [Pakistan], August 31 (ANI): Two Frontier Crops (FC) personnel were targeted by a roadside bomb when they were on routine patrol in the Yousafabad area on Tuesday, resulting in the death of one and injuring the other.

The remote-controlled bomb blast took place in the Bajaur District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s province, reported Dawn.

The officials added that the dead soldier was identified as Lance Naik Mujahid Shah. The deceased and the wounded were later shifted to Khar District Headquarters Hospital.

Talking to reporters, District Police Officer Abdul Samad Khan said a search operation was underway to arrest the attackers, reported Dawn.

The attack occurred three days after the end of the eight-day-long ‘peace sit-in’ held by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) over the deteriorating law and order situation in the area.

Backed by political parties, civil society, youths and traders’ organisations, the sit-in ended after the district administration signed an agreement with the organisers to improve the law and order situation, reported Dawn.

JUI-F has protested in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s North Waziristan against the killing of its local leaders and lawlessness in the district, according to local media.

Workers of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl and other political parties on Sunday continued a sit-in protest against lawlessness in Eidek village. They demanded early arrest of the killers of JUI-F leaders Qari Samiuddin, Hafiz Nauman and others, Dawn newspaper reported.

According to Dawn, locals and officials said that the JUI-F leader Qari Samiuddin and his colleague, Hafiz Numan Dawar were on their way home in Eidek village when their car was ambushed on Bichi Road near Mirali town in North Waziristan on July 14.

The gunmen shot at the two, leaving them dead on the spot. The relatives of the leader said that Qari Sami had no feud with anyone.

This was the second targeted attack on JUI-F leadership in the restive district during the last one week.

A few unidentified gunmen killed a councillor-elect Malik Murtaza, who was also from Eidak village. He was elected councillor during the second phase of the local body elections.

Qari Sami was head of the JUI-F’s Mirali subdivision. He had contested the election on the party ticket from PK-111.

Source: The Print

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‘Pakistan doesn’t have to choose between US and China’

Anwar Iqbal

September 1, 2022

WASHINGTON: The United States doesn’t ask Pakis­tan to choose between it and China, but rather wants cou­ntries “to be able to have a choice”. However, Washington is worried that nations entering into relationships with China “are not going to end up well”, said Derek Chollet, a senior adviser to the US Secretary of State.

In an interview with Dawn, Counselor Chollet said Washing­ton was not “afraid of competing with China, but would like to have a fair competition”.

He stressed that the US had honest differences with both India and Pakistan, but wanted to maintain and diversify its strong relationship with Islamabad.

Mr Chollet also spoke about former prime minister Imran Khan’s allegations of US involvement in toppling his government, pointing out that those claims were completely baseless.

Asked if the US was upset with the former premier and those allegations make him a less liked politician in the States, Mr Chollet said: “All I can say is that there is nothing to the allegations. Those were not true.”

“What we want to stay focused on is where we are going in the US-Pakistan relationship, to reflect on all that we have achieved in 75 years but also all that we must achieve in the coming 75 years.”

The US official also underlined Washington’s concerns about the current floods in Pakistan, pointing out that the Biden administration already announced $30 million in assistance and was willing to do more.

“These horrific floods are something that we have not seen since 2010. And by some accounts, it is worse than the floods of 2010,” he said. “It is a climate cataclysm that we are seeing in Pakistan. It is just devastating.”

The US, he said, was committed to “doing our part with our partners in the international community to help Pakistan respond to this terrible natural disaster.”

The US would also work with the United Nations to raise $160m for the flood victims, he added.

Responding to a question about his statement that the US was not afraid of having a fair competition with China, he said: “Pakistan has a close relationship with China, has for many years. The US again, is not asking countries to choose between the US and China. We just want countries to be able to have a choice.”

Reminded that in the past, this relationship was more linked to US security concerns about the region, Mr Chollet said: “We are interested in diversifying the relationship even further. We already have a fairly strong and robust business relationship. But I think that is something that we are interested in growing further.”

Asked if Pakistan still had strategic value for the US, he said: “Oh, absolutely. I mean, Pakistan is one of the world’s largest Muslim countries. It has the fifth or sixth largest population. It is a critically important country to the US.”

“And that is why we are committed as we project forward over the next 75 years, to find ways that we can deepen this partnership and achieve so many of the shared interests and goals that we have.”

On a question about why sometimes people in Pakistan feel that India gets an unfair advantage — for instance, Washington allows it to purchase cheap oil from Russia while preventing Pakistan from doing so — Mr Chollet said: “Our relationship with each country stands on its own. And we have much that we share with both countries,” he said. “We do have honest differences with both countries. What matters is how we work through those differences.”

“Our perspective in terms of working with Pakistan is we are going to work through those differences in the spirit of partnership, and cooperation and try to keep an eye on all that we share. We both are going to remain true to our interests and our values. But we see much that we share together.”

Do US concerns about China make India a more valuable ally? To this, he said: “These relationships, we do not see them as conjoined. They are separate relationships. And we have separate sets of goals, ambitions, and challenges with both countries.”

However, he agreed that the US had a concern about China globally. “In South Asia and in East Asia, in Southeast Asia, all around the world, China is playing a role that in many cases is not consistent with what we think our interests are,” he said.

The US, he said, committed to finding ways to work with China on shared interests, for example, on climate change, but the Chinese pulled out of these discussions.

Asked if Pakistan could also face a Sri Lanka-like situation because of the Chinese loans, he said: “What we are worried about is that countries — whether in South Asia or all around the world — entering into relationships with China are not going to end up well.”

Source: Dawn

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Germany – Pakistan have huge potential in economic, trade ties: Syed Naveed Qamar

August 31, 2022

Federal Minister for Commerce, Syed Naveed Qamar Wednesday said there was a lot of potential for the development of economic and trade relations between Germany and Pakistan in the various sectors.

Germany and Pakistan can benefit from these trade and economic opportunities, he said.

He said this while addressing the ‘Networking Reception Event’ organized by AHK, along with German Ambassador to Pakistan, Alfred Grannas.

The Minister opined that Pakistan and Germany could jointly work in many sectors and promote mutual economic and trade relations.

He said this kind of interaction will help the business communities of both countries to come closer and increase the commercial opportunities in the future.

Such events act as a bridge for mutual business and trade and provide an opportunity for business communities and policy makers to sit together, he said.

Naveed Qamar said that the economic and trade relations between Pakistan and the European Union have been going on for a long time and there is a possibility of further improvement in the future.

The Minister said that with the arrival of the new ambassador of Germany, a new era of economic and trade relations will begin between the two countries.

He said “we welcome the new German ambassador to Pakistan, Alfred Grannas and hope that mutual relations between the two countries will develop further”.

Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador of Germany to Pakistan, Alfred Grannas said that interaction with business organizations, including chambers, is necessary for the development of economic and trade relations between the two countries.

The ambassador said that the interaction of business communities is very important in mutual trade and economic relations.

He said that the German embassy in Islamabad is playing its role for the promotion of mutual trade relations between the two countries.

In this regard, the German embassy is playing its full role in the interaction with business chambers in Pakistan.

German envoy said that there is a lot of potential for mutual trade between the two countries and we need to explore more sectors.

Source: Pakistan Today

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From furnace to flood: World's hottest city in Pakistan now under water

Sep 1, 2022

JACOBABAD: Not long ago, Sara Khan, principal at a school for disadvantaged girls in Jacobabad in southern Pakistan, looked on in alarm as some students passed out from the heat - the city was the world's hottest at one point in May.

Now, after heavy monsoon rains submerged large parts of the country, her classrooms are flooded and many of the 200 students homeless, struggling to get enough food and caring for injured relatives.

Such extreme weather events in a short space of time have caused havoc across the country, killing hundreds of people, cutting off communities, wrecking homes and infrastructure and raising concerns over health and food security.

Jacobabad has not been spared. In May, temperatures topped 50 Celsius, drying up canal beds and causing some residents to collapse from heatstroke. Today, parts of the city are under water, though flooding has receded from its peak.

In Khan's neighbourhood in the east of the city, houses have been badly damaged. On Thursday, she said she heard cries from a neighbour's house when the roof collapsed from water damage, killing their nine-year-old son.

Many of her students are unlikely to return to school for months, having already lost class time during the brutal summer heatwave.

"Jacobabad is the hottest city in the world, there are so many challenges ... before people had heatstroke, now people have lost their homes, almost everything (in the flood), they have become homeless," she told Reuters.

Nineteen people in the city of around 200,000 are confirmed to have died in the flooding, including children, according to the city's deputy commissioner, while local hospitals reported many more were sick or injured.

More than 40,000 people are living in temporary shelters, mostly in crowded schools with limited access to food.

One of the displaced, 40-year-old Dur Bibi, sat under a tent in the grounds of a school and recalled the moment she fled when water gushed into her home overnight late last week.

"I grabbed my children and rushed out of the house with bare feet," she said, adding that the only thing they had time to take with them was a copy of the Koran.

Four days later, she has not been able to obtain medicine for her daughter who is suffering from a fever.

"I have nothing, besides these kids. All of the belongings in my home have been swept away," she said.

Weather extremes

The level of disruption in Jacobabad, where many people live in poverty, demonstrates some of the challenges extreme weather events linked to climate change can create.

"A manifestation of climate change is the more frequent and more intense occurrence of extreme weather events, and this is exactly what we have witnessed in Jacobabad as well as elsewhere globally during the past few months," said Athar Hussain, head of the Centre for Climate Research and Development at COMSATS University in Islamabad.

A study earlier this year by the World Weather Attribution group, an international team of scientists, found that the heatwave that hit Pakistan in March and April was made 30 times more likely by climate change.

Global warming likely exacerbated recent flooding as well, said Liz Stephens, a climate scientist at the University of Reading in Britain. That's because a warmer atmosphere is able to hold more moisture, which is eventually unleashed in the form of heavy rains.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said the country, which is heavily dependent on agriculture, was reeling.

"If you are a farmer in Jacobabad ... you couldn't plant your crops because of water scarcity and the heat during the heatwave and now your crops have been damaged in the monsoons and floods," he told Reuters in an interview.

In Jacobabad, local health, education and development officials said record temperatures followed by unusually heavy rains were straining vital services.

Hospitals that set up emergency heatstroke response centres in May are now reporting an influx of people injured in the floods and patients suffering from gastroenteritis and skin conditions amid unsanitary conditions.

Jacobabad Institute of Medical Sciences (JIMS) said it had treated around 70 people in recent days for injuries from debris in floods including deep cuts and broken bones.

More than 800 children were admitted to JIMS for gastroenteritis conditions in August during heavy rains, compared to 380 the previous month, hospital data showed.

At the nearby Civil Hospital, where the grounds are partially underwater, doctor Vijay Kumar said cases of patients suffering from gastroenteritis and other illnesses had at least tripled since the floods.

Source: Times Of India

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JUI-F accuses Sindh govt of hampering relief activities in city

August 31, 2022

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Sindh leaders have alleged that the Sindh government is creating hurdles for the party in setting up relief camps for the flood victims.

“The lengthy process of obtaining permission for relief camps has put political and religious parties in trouble and they are forced to suspend relief activities,” they said in a statement on Tuesday.

JUI-F Sindh spokesperson Maulana Samiul Haque Swati said the party had established relief camps at 20 locations in the West district of Karachi, but due to the recent restrictions imposed by the provincial government those camps were closed. He said law enforcement agencies were asking for NOCs from the camp organisers. When party workers and volunteers approached the District West deputy commissioner for NOCs, he forwarded the matter to the SSP, and when the SSP was approached he forwarded the case to the SHOs of respective areas.

Source: The News

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WHO says 6.4m in dire need of humanitarian aid as flood-triggered crises swirl

Fazal Khaliq | Nisar Ahmed | Ikram Junaidi

September 1, 2022

SWAT / MANSEHRA / ISLAMABAD: Prime Min­ister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday visited flood-hit areas in Khyber Pakhtun­khwa and announced Rs10 billion in funds to rehabilitate the calamity-hit areas, even as a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) painted a grim picture of the health and humanitarian crises simmering across the country.

During his visit to Kalam and other parts of Swat, the premier met the flood survivors and addressed a gathering in Kalam and Kanju wherein he promised all-out help by the federal government in overcoming the crisis.

About the Rs10bn package, PM Sharif said the federal government, the Nat­ional Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), and the provincial administration would ensure transparency and immediate disbursement of money in the affected areas.

According to the PM, the federal government had allocated an amount of Rs28 billion which was being disbursed among the affected through the NDMA and the Benazir Income Support Programme. He added every affected family was being given a cash amount of R25,000 whereas each family was entitled to Rs1 million compensation if they had lost a loved one in the floods.

“The cash support announced by the federal government is no substitute for the loss of lives…but it is the responsibility of the government to provide maximum comfort in this hour of grief,” the premier added. At least 5,000km of roads were damaged in the country due to flooding as per the latest reports, according to PM Sharif.

In pictures: Misery mounts for millions amid flood devastation across Pakistan

During his address in the Pattan area of Lower Kohistan, the prime minister said thanked the United Nations and other nations for extending support to Pakistan in this hour of need. “The friendly countries…stood with us in this critical time [and] pledged financial assistance for reconstruction and rehabilitation of infrastructure and population affected by the calamity,” he added.

‘Restore power supply’

In a meeting following his visit to KP, PM Sharif directed authorities concerned to restore the power supply and repair damaged roads in the flood-hit areas within two days with the help of the Frontier Works Organisation.

“Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif directed the authorities concerned to rehabilitate the flood-hit roads and communications infrastructure by Friday and asked the Power Division to submit a report on work for power supply restoration since August 25,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.

He also instructed for the revival of road connectivity between Kalam and Swat by next week and the repairing of Balochistan’s power transmission network within the next 48 hours.

The prime minister instructed Power Minister Khurram Dastgir to visit Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to monitor the restoration of power transmission lines and submit a report by 10am today (Thursday).

116 districts affected by floods

The WHO in its report said that at least 888 health facilities were damaged in rain-induced floods that have affected 116 out of 154 districts across the country. It further said that over 1,000 people were killed while as many as 15,000 were injured in floods. Over 33 million people have been affected out of which 6.4 million people, including 421,000 people displaced by floods, were in dire need of humanitarian aid, the WHO added.

“As of August 28, 888 health facilities have been damaged in Pakistan of which 180 of them are completely damaged,” it stated. The health body stated that Pakistan was already battling multiple outbreaks, including Covid, and added that the “current situation will highly likely increase the spread of disease especially if/when response capacities are hindered”.

“Ongoing disease outbreaks in Pakistan, including acute watery diarrhoea, dengue fever, malaria, polio, and Covid-19 are being further aggravated, particularly in camps and [areas] where water and sanitation facilities have been damaged,” the report stated.

“WHO has also diverted mobile medical camps, including those responding to Covid-19 teams, to affected districts, delivered 1.7 million aqua tabs to ensure access to clean water, and provided sample collection kits to ensure clinical testing of samples to ensure early detection of infectious diseases,” the report stated.

Meanwhile, speaking to BBC News, British High Commissioner to Pakistan Christian Turner linked these floods to climate change. “…The evidence I am seeing on the ground is that this level of impact is unprecedented. This is not just a bad monsoon season. It is a whole lot more and I think it’s the era of climate catastrophe in which were are now in,” he added.

Source: Dawn

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Seif al-Islam Gaddafi Denies Striking Deal to Release His Brother from Lebanon

31 August, 2022

Seif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, son of late Libyan ruler Moammar al-Gaddafi, denied allegations that he had struck a deal for the release of his brother, Hannibal, who has been jailed in Lebanon for six years.

Seif al-Islam's lawyer, Khaled al-Zaidi, denied the claims of the deal that were reported by France’s Jeune Afrique.

The report is baseless, he stressed.

The report had quoted an aide to Seif al-Islam, Suha al-Badri, as saying that Hannibal’s release was imminent after a bail of $150,000 was paid to Lebanese authorities.

Zaidi refuted the claim to Libya Press, saying Badri was not part of Seif al-Islam's team and is not even his aide, as alleged in the French report.

“No understanding or deal has been reached to release the abducted Libyan national, Hannibal al-Gaddafi,” he added.

Informed Lebanese sources denied all claims about Hannibal’s imminent release, saying they were misleading and made on the anniversary of the disappearance of Imam Moussa al-Sadr and his companions.

Sadr, the founder of the Supreme Islamic Shiite Council in Lebanon, went missing during a visit to Libya in August 1987. He has never been found.

Sources concerned with Sadr’s disappearance and the Lebanese judiciary’s probe with Hannibal revealed that negotiations had been launched around two months ago between the lawyers in the two cases, “but they reached a dead end.”

They told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Lebanese party had vowed to release Hannibal in return for “accurate information about the fate of Sadr and his companions.”

Source: Aawsat

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TPLF says Eritrean and Ethiopian forces launch attack in northwest Tigray

01 September, 2022

Ethiopian and Eritrean government forces launched an attack in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray on Thursday targeting Tigrayan forces, a spokesperson for the Tigrayan forces said, although Reuters was not independently able to verify the report.

Getachew Reda, the Tigrayan forces spokesperson, said on Twitter that the two “forces have launched massive four-pronged offensive early this morning in the #Adyabo area of Northwestern Tigray!”

A humanitarian worker in the Tigrayan town of Shire told Reuters that drivers coming from the area reported cross-border shelling on Wednesday, and he had spoken to a witness who said heavy artillery shelling in the town of Shiraro near the Eritrean border had started at around 4:30 a.m. on Thursday.

A militia leader in the Amhara city of Gondar with contacts on the front lines of the fighting confirmed there had been “heavy shelling from our side” aimed at Tigrayan trenches around the town of Sheraro, in the same area.

The Ethiopian military had clashed with the Tigrayan forces on Wednesday, he said, and wounded fighters from the government side were being treated in Humera. The hospital had been given orders to clear out civilian patients, he said.

Reuters was not able to independently confirm the reports. Tigray has not had telephone communications since government troops pulled out more than a year ago.

Ethiopian government spokesperson Legesse Tulu, military spokesperson Colonel Getnet Adane and the prime minister’s spokesperson Billene Seyoum did not immediately respond to requests for comment but the government issued a statement on Wednesday accusing the Tigrayan forces of launching multiple attacks.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Libya exhumes 15 bodies from 2 mass graves in Sirte



Libyan authorities said Wednesday that 15 bodies were exhumed from two mass graves in the coastal city of Sirte.

In a statement, the General Authority for Research and Identification of Missing Persons said the two graves were found in the garden of Ibn Sina Hospital upon a tip-off from the Sirte District Prosecutor's Office.

It said forensic teams will examine the bodies to identify them.

On December 17, 2016, the Libyan Government of National Accord announced the complete liberation of Sirte from the Daesh/ISIS terrorist group.

Discoveries of mass graves are common in war-torn Libya, especially in Tarhuna city, a former stronghold for warlord Khalifa Haftar.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Top Turkish, Libyan officials hold talks in Ankara

Diyar Güldoğan  


Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Libya's Deputy Prime Minister Ramadan Abu Janah met on Wednesday in the Turkish capital Ankara for talks.

"Evaluated recent developments & the election process in Libya," Cavusoglu said on Twitter, without giving further information about the closed-door meeting.

Oil-rich Libya has remained in turmoil since 2011 when longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi was ousted after four decades in power.

For lasting stability in Libya, Türkiye deems crucial the holding of free, fair and nationwide elections as soon as possible, in accordance with the aspirations of the Libyan people.

Last week, the capital Tripoli saw deadly clashes between forces backing Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh and those loyal to his rival Fathi Bashagha, who was appointed by the Tobruk-based parliament as prime minister.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Dozens of civilians killed in April by Mali’s army, foreign fighters: UN report

01 September 2022

At least 50 civilians were killed and more than 500 arrested in central Mali in April during a military operation conducted by the army and “foreign troops,” according to a report by the UN.

The incident took place on April 19 in Hombori municipality, in the central region of Douentza, after a Mali military convoy was attacked by a roadside bomb, the UN said on Wednesday.

“At least 50 civilians (including a woman and a child) were killed and more than 500 others arrested” on April 19, the UN’s peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA) said in a quarterly report on trends of human rights violation and abuses in Mali.

The military operation was conducted by Mali’s army and foreign troops, but the report did not specify the nationality of the foreign military personnel accompanying local troops.

In the report, MINUSMA documented 96 civilian deaths during operations by Malian security forces between April 1 and June 30. Seven civilians disappeared and 19 others were injured, it said.

The UN has repeatedly accused Malian soldiers of summarily executing civilians and suspected militants during their decade-long fight against groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

Mali’s military has in some cases acknowledged that its forces were implicated in executions and other abuses, but few soldiers have faced criminal charges.

A report by experts to the UN, seen by the AFP news agency in early August, said “white-skinned soldiers” accompanied Malian soldiers at the scene of killings in March in the Segou region near the Mauritanian border, in which 33 civilians died.

In April, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said about 300 people, most of them ethnic Fulanis, were killed in Moura in central Mali in March by Malian forces “or associated foreign fighters” – a veiled reference to suspected Russian operatives. Mali’s army says that it killed 203 militants at Moura.

France has been a former colonizer in Mali and its military mission in the country began in 2013 to allegedly counter militants that Paris claimed were linked to the al-Qaeda and Daesh terrorist groups.

Source: Press TV

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Southeast Asia


Is Abu Bakar Bashir Really Walking Away From Violent Extremism?

By Bilveer Singh

August 31, 2022

Over the past 60 years, Abu Bakar Bashir has come to be perceived as the face of Islamist extremism and terrorism in Indonesia. He has been associated with Pondok Pesantren Al Mukmin in Solo, Central Java, which he jointly founded with Abdullah Sungkar in 1972. The Islamic boarding school, also known as Pesantren Ngruki, came to be associated with Islamist radicals who were close to Jemaah Islamiyyah (JI), a radical terrorist group involved in bombings in Indonesia from 2000 to 2008, and which is still seen as a threat today.

The Life of Abu Bakar Bashir

Bashir, 84, was born in Jombang, East Java in 1938 to an Arab-Indonesian family. He attended an Islamic boarding school in Gontor, East Java and graduated from Al-Irsyad university in Solo in 1963. As early as the mid-1950s, he was involved in Islamist movements, including the Indonesian Islamic Youth Movement, becoming its head in 1961, and he later headed the Lembaga Dakwah Mahasiswa Islam in Solo. The body was essentially established to proselytize and propagate Islam among students, first on Muslim campuses and later, to all campuses in the country, with branches organized nationally throughout Indonesia. In 1967, together with Sungkar, he founded Radio Dakwah Islamiyyah Al-Irsyad and in 1969, Radio Dakwah Islamiyyah Surakarta, two Islamist radio stations. In 1976, four years after founding Pesantren Ngruki with Sungkar in 1972, the pair are believed to have become members of Darul Islam/Negara Islamic Indonesia. Following a falling out with DI leaders, Sungkar and Bashir became the key leaders of JI in 1993. After Bashir returned to Indonesia in 1999, he went on to become the head of Majelis Mujhidin Indonesia (2002) and headed Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid (2008), a splinter faction of JI.

Bashir’s key beliefs include the implementation of Sharia Law and an Islamic State in Indonesia. He has supported the use of violence against the state (jihad) and tactical migration (hijrah) when necessary to achieve the movement’s goals and has stressed the continuous need for preparation, including military preparation (i’dad), to achieve the goals of an Islamic State. In Indonesia, as part of his intent to establish an Islamic State, Bashir has refused to salute the Indonesian flag and abide by the pluralistic state ideology of Pancasila. For Bashir, the key guides to state administration are the Koran and Sunnah, and if a government, especially in a Muslim-majority state, uses “man-made” laws, then such a government should be opposed, including through the use of violence.

For both his beliefs and actions, Bashir has been imprisoned a number of times. In 1978, accused of subversion, he was imprisoned until 1982. Following the Borobudur bombing in Yogyakarta in 1985, which Bashir was widely believed to have planned, he fled to Malaysia. In 2000, Bashir was accused of being involved in the Christmas Eve bombings, which targeted churches in eight cities throughout Indonesia that killed 18 people but escaped imprisonment. In 2003, Bashir was arrested for his alleged role in the 2002 Bali bombing and later imprisoned for 30 months. Bashir was released after 26 months, in June 2006, after the Indonesian Supreme Court quashed his conviction. In 2011, for his link to the Jantho military camp in Aceh and for being the spiritual leader of JI, Bashir was once again jailed for 15 years but was released on January 8, 2021, after receiving a remission of 55 months of his sentence, in part due to his poor health and old age.

Bashir Support for Indonesia’s State Symbols and National Ideology

While Bashir has steadfastly held on to his hardline views even after being released from prison last year, he has announced a change in his position with regard to two tenets of his opposition to the Indonesian state and its symbols. In doing, he has come to be seen as a “new Bashir” who is more willing to accommodate Indonesia and its political and religious attributes. In January 2019, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced that he was prepared to conditionally release Bashir from prison if he agreed to swear his allegiance to the unitary state of Indonesia and its national ideology of Pancasila, but Bashir refused to do so. He continued to argue that he would respect only the laws of God and not man.

However, according to his son Rohim, sometime in May of this, Bashir made a video recording in which he expressed his support for the ideology of Pancasila. This was because the first principle of the state’s ideology, the belief in one and only God, was based on tawhid, the Islamic principle that postulates the oneness of God. Prior to this, Bashir has consistently argued that those abiding by Pancasila were syirik, or committing the sin of idolatry or polytheism.

In addition to Bashir’s new position on Pancasila, on August 17, for the first time in Pesantren Ngruki’s history, Bashir attended the celebration of Indonesia’s Independence Day by holding a flag raising ceremony and singing the national anthem, “Indonesia Raya,” at the boarding school. The ceremony was attended by more than 300 people, including alumni of Ngruki, Muhadjir Effendi, the coordinating minister for human development and cultural affairs, and Gen. Boy Rafli Amar, the head of the Indonesian National Counter Terrorism Agency (BNPT). Since then, the Indonesian state flag has flown within the compounds of Pesantren Ngruki, unlike in the past, when Bashir argued that the Indonesian government was thogut –an evil authority.

Explaining Bashir’s Changed Stance

Does Bashir’s recent about-face suggest that he is walking away from extremism and terrorism? Analysts have argued that there are usually a number of factors at play when extremists and terrorists abandon their views. First, this can be due to the disillusionment with the group’s strategies and tactics, especially when these involve attacking innocent civilians. Second, many members have abandoned extremism and terrorism after losing respect for a leader who may be seen to be fighting a battle that cannot be won. Third, many have abandoned their radical causes after the emergence of tactical and operational differences, especially when religious leaders try to direct military operations that often lead to disasters, defeats, or the death of many of the group’s members. Finally, many have also abandoned the radical cause when promises made by leaders are not honored. This includes the non-payment of salaries of fighters, and bad moral and ethical behavior on the part of top leaders and military commanders.

Explaining and understanding Bashir’s position on Pancasila and the state flag is important, given that he remains a leading and influential Islamic figure in Indonesia, especially among radicals. There is the view that Bashir may have softened his views on the Indonesian government, its ideology, and its flag due to old age, his more sober understanding of the state’s ideology, or even due to successful deradicalization programs by the BNPT, which Bashir has only undertaken on an ad hoc basis, all of which may help to reduce the threat of violence in Indonesia by jihadists.

Bashir has also argued that since most of Indonesia’s Islamic scholars (ulamas) support Pancasila, it must be in line with Islam, especially given that 90 percent of Indonesians are Muslims. It may also be due to the fact that Bashir’s traditional approach to achieving the goal of an Islamic state and the implementation of Sharia law has failed and he may want to adopt new strategies to attain them, including by accommodating the Indonesian authorities. In short, Bashir’s shift in position may only be tactical.

Has Bashir Abandoned Extremism and Terrorism?

While it is still early days, what is also clear is that while he may be able to come to terms with Pancasila as being consistent with Islam, this may not necessarily translate into his unstinting support for the Indonesian government. For Bashir, this accommodation may reflect the fact that an Islamic State and Sharia law are unlikely to be implemented in Indonesia in the short to medium term. In short, Bashir is likely to continue opposing the Indonesian Government as thogut, since he only believes in an Islamic State and the system of Khilafah, namely, a governmental system based on Islamic law, and not the democracy that Indonesia has been practicing.

Bashir’s tactical approach to Pancasila and the Indonesian national flag can also be understood within the context of Islamist warfare, especially in Indonesia, which he continues to view as Darul Harbi, a “territory of war.” Given that deception is part of warfare, the use of subterfuge, or hiyal, is justifiable for Muslims living in difficult situations. Hence, even though Bashir witnessed the flag-raising ceremony on August 17 at Ngruki, he did not stand during the ceremony, on the grounds that he was unwell. Similarly, while talking about supporting Pancasila, Bashir also talks of the “original Pancasila.” Often referred to as the Jakarta Charter, this line which was later deleted from the Constitution, included the “seven words” stating Muslims’ obligations to abide by Islamic law.

Source: The Diplomat

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Rosmah Mansor, wife of Malaysia’s former leader Najib Razak, convicted of corruption

September 01, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: Rosmah Mansor, the wife of Malaysia’s ex-premier Najib Razak, was found guilty of graft Thursday, just over a week after her husband began serving a 12-year jail term.

“The accused is found guilty of all three charges,” High Court Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan said as Rosmah sat quietly in the dock.

The judge added that her defense was “bare denial and unsubstantiated.”

The Kuala Lumpur court began mitigation on Thursday afternoon, ahead of sentencing.

Even after that, Rosmah will not go straight to jail, pending what could be a lengthy appeals process.

Prosecutors said Rosmah had sought a 187.5 million-ringgit ($41.8 million) bribe and received 6.5 million ringgit for helping a company secure a solar power project for rural schools in the Malaysian part of Borneo during her husband’s rule.

She still faces 17 other charges involving tax evasion and money laundering.

The 70-year-old has long been reviled by Malaysians for her reportedly vast collection of designer handbags, clothing and jewelry, acquired on jet-set overseas shopping trips.

Born the only child of two teachers in the country’s south, Rosmah rose to become one of Malaysia’s most influential people.

She made headlines a decade ago for setting up a new unit under the prime minister’s office known as “FLOM,” an acronym for First Lady of Malaysia. The full-fledged department, which set critics’ tongues wagging, was tasked with handling Rosmah’s operational needs.

Her love for luxury, and in particular Hermes Birkin bags, came under the spotlight after 2018 raids in which police confiscated more than 500 handbags and 12,000 pieces of jewelry estimated to be worth $270 million.

On Thursday, dressed in a peach-colored traditional Malay dress and scarf with a floral print and matching face mask, Rosmah arrived in court escorted by police.

Her son and daughter also attended the court proceedings.

Her disgraced husband Najib was sent to prison nine days ago for an initial batch of charges linked to the multi-billion-dollar financial scandal at state fund 1MDB that brought down his government in 2018.

He is currently on trial over four additional charges. He faces a maximum of 20 years in jail for abuse of power and up to 15 years for money laundering, if convicted.

Rosmah’s reputation had contributed to accusations that the ousted ruling establishment had lost touch with economically struggling and middle-class Malaysians.

The 1MDB scandal sparked investigations in the United States, Switzerland and Singapore, whose financial systems were believed to have been used to launder the money.

Source: Arab News

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Guan Eng slams Saravanan over chaotic worker quota applications

August 30, 2022

PETALING JAYA: Lim Guan Eng has slammed human resources minister M Saravanan for the “deplorable” process experienced by employers in their foreign worker quota applications at the ministry yesterday.

Referencing the incident where “as many as 1,000 employers” were turned away from the ministry, the DAP chairman said Saravanan’s “disappointing display of ignorance” would ultimately cost Malaysian industries tens of billions of ringgit.

“The ministry can do a better job in this digital age and computer era than having employers who are already busy managing their businesses queue up fruitlessly for long hours waiting unsuccessfully to be served,” Lim said in a statement.

He pointed out that Saravanan had previously said that earlier applications to hire about 400,000 foreign workers would proceed before the end of August.

Lim said the ministry’s failure to resolve the severe worker shortage would cost the plantation sector, glove makers and auto spare parts industry RM33.5 billion in inflicted losses, not including other industries.

He said Malaysia’s electrical and electronics (E&E) sector was in urgent need of at least 30,000 workers, adding that the shortage could jeopardise E&E exports, which “generated 56% of Malaysia’s 2021 trade surplus and accounted for 6.3% of 2021’s total worldwide E&E exports.”

“How can Malaysia generate economic growth if such a simple matter of documentation and processing of foreign labour recruitment cannot be resolved?” Lim asked.

He said the government should expedite foreign worker approvals through transparent, predictable, and effective mechanisms, urging Saravanan to “help”, not “harm”, businesses by cutting red tape in the application process.

Lim also cited the Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) as saying that 1,500 Indian-Muslim restaurants were expected to close nationwide due to the lack of foreign workers and difficulty in sourcing local labour.

“Many industries suffer the same predicament as mamak restaurants. What happened yesterday is a damning indictment of Saravanan’s lack of performance and litany of broken promises”.

Yesterday, FMT reported that many employers were left disgruntled after being turned away from the human resources ministry when they were unable to be interviewed for their foreign worker quota applications.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Suspected Muslim rebels kill town police chief in Philippines

30 Aug 2022

COTABATO, Aug 30 (AP): Suspected Muslim rebels killed a police chief and his driver in a southern Philippine town and wounded at least three other officers as they were traveling Tuesday to arrest a suspect, officials said.

About 10 men opened fire on a police vehicle carrying Ampatuan town police chief Lt. Reynaldo Samson, who died instantly along with his driver in the midmorning attack on a rural road in the town in Maguindanao province, regional police commander Brig. Gen. John Gano Guyguyon said.

Three other officers riding in the vehicle were wounded when they exchanged fire with the attackers, who withdrew when police reinforcements arrived, Guyguyon said. He said the police were on their way to arrest a robbery suspect.

Government forces were trying to track down the attackers, who villagers said seized the firearms of the slain policemen before fleeing.

The suspects were believed to be members of a Muslim rebel group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, active in Ampatuan town in predominantly Muslim Maguindanao, where they have been waging a separatist insurrection for years.

In 2008, the insurgents broke off from the largest Muslim group in the south, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, after it dropped a secessionist goal and embraced limited Muslim autonomy in peace talks with the government brokered by Malaysia.

The main rebel group signed a peace agreement with the government in 2014 and its leaders are now helping administer a five-province Muslim autonomous region, but the hard-line defectors have continued fighting the government. Some have aligned themselves with the Islamic State group.

A cease-fire agreement and the 2014 peace pact considerably eased decades of fighting, mostly in the southern Mindanao region, the homeland of minority Muslims in the largely Roman Catholic nation, but smaller insurgent groups have continued to pose a threat.

Ampatuan was the site of a 2009 massacre of 58 people, including 32 media workers, traveling in a convoy in an attack plotted by a powerful political clan. Clan leaders were later convicted of masterminding the killings because a rival family had decided to challenge their long political control in Maguindanao.

Army troops, meanwhile, were deployed to a village in Lamitan city on the southern island province of Basilan because of fighting Tuesday between two groups of armed men said to be aligned with different Muslim rebel organizations.

Source: The Star

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Arab World


Clashes in Iraq’s Basra among Shiite rivals cause casualties

September 01, 2022

BAGHDAD: Clashes among rival Shiite Muslim militants in the southern Iraqi city of Basra took place overnight and into Thursday morning, causing several casualties, local security officials said.

The skirmishes were the latest violence to hit the country in a political crisis that pits followers of the powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr against mostly Iran-aligned parties and paramilitary groups.

The security officials said the clashes took place in the center of Basra, Iraq’s main oil-producing hub. They did not immediately confirm reports of deaths.

Violence re-erupted in Iraq this week as armed supporters of Sadr fought with security forces and Iran-aligned gunmen in Baghdad in the fiercest street battles the capital has seen for years.

Source: Arab News

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Saudi Arabia designates five individuals over links to Iran-backed Houthis

31 August, 2022

Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday that it had designated five people for being linked to the Iran-backed Houthis and issued a ruling to freeze their assets.

The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported that the ruling aligns with the system for combatting terrorism and its financing.

It follows Royal Decree No. (M/21) and the Security Council Resolution No. 1373 of 2001.

No direct or indirect dealings are to be carried out with the five Yemeni nationals, SPA reported.

The designated individuals are:

Mansour Ahmed al-Saadi, reportedly a Yemeni national, is “working and cooperating in smuggling Iranian weapons to Yemen. He is alleged to have received extensive training in Iran and is said to be the “mastermind” behind the attacks on international shipments in the Red Sea.

Ahmed Ali al-Hamzi, a Yemeni national, is allegedly responsible for the drone program. He is believed to have received Iranian-made weapons and has previously received training in Iran.

Muhammad Abdul-Karim al-Ghamari attended military training courses in Iran and is “directly related to the launching of ballistic missiles and drones,” according to the SPA.

Zakaria Abdullah Yahya Hajar also attended military training courses in Iran and is allegedly associated with ballistic missile launches and drones.

Ahmed Muhammad Ali al-Gohary is reportedly associated with launching ballistic missiles and drones.

Earlier this month, security forces on Yemen’s west coast busted a cell affiliated with the Houthi militia for smuggling weapons from Iran.

The cell consisted of four Yemenis who hail from Abu Zahr area, north of the al-Khawkhah district in the governorate of Hodeidah.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi graduates working at NEOM complete ‘high-performance’ Formula E placement

31 August, 2022

Two Saudi graduates working at NEOM recently completed a secondment scheme with Mercedes’ EQ Formula E team in the UK that aimed to develop their professional skills.

Ahmed al-Hussain, a design engineer, and Duaa al-Zaher, who worked with Mercedes’ digital team, described the impact of the year-long placement at Mercedes F1 HQ in Brackley with Al Arabiya English.

“I learned to continuously embrace curiosity and challenge myself, which helped me gain invaluable insight into how far I can push my limits,” said Duaa.

“My time here with the team has piqued my curiosity and motivated me to broaden my knowledge and expertise, learning from everyone and everything around me,” Ahmed added.

Some of the skills picked up by candidates are vital when working on a project with such a grand vision as NEOM, according to Neal Coupland, NEOM’s Partnerships Director.

“NEOM has a purpose, but it’s a long goal in terms of creating The Line et cetera, of Vision 2030,” he said. “And we need to sometimes reflect on the fact that we’ve got to get some short term wins and we have to have a culture that lets us do that so we don’t drift too much on a weekly or monthly basis, and we don’t reassess things too many times.”

Coupland described what a drastic effect the placement had on the two graduates: “They looked more confident, they sounded more confident, they spoke with purpose.”

“I've honestly rarely seen a change so dramatically between two people. I almost wasn’t sure I was speaking to the same two people,” he said.

Dr Katherine Bond, an expert in sports psychology, also spoke to Al Arabiya English about how working with high-performance teams such as Mercedes’ Formula E can impart transferrable skills onto young graduates entering the workforce.

Professional athletes transitioning from sports into other careers are sought-after, she said, due to strengths in teamwork and coachability.

“The notion that secondments or internments in a high performing team or high performance sports environment develop those skills and qualities in early-career individuals is a well-proven practice,” she added.

“And so it was demonstrated really well in this instance with the NEOM grads having that year with the Mercedes Formula E team.”

Key takeaways from the year spent abroad involved learning the importance of “transparent communication and empathy,” said Duaa.

For Ahmed, the secondment taught him the value of trial and error: “The earlier you do your own test and trial, and make a few mistakes along the way, the more you learn and the faster you boost the quality of your output.”

The secondment coming to an end also marks the conclusion of the partnership between NEOM and Mercedes-EQ Formula E, in which the team has secured victories in the ABB FIA Formula E Teams’ and Drivers’ Championships.

But as Duaa and Ahmed return to work at NEOM as part of its Graduate Opportunities in Work (GrOW) program, the futuristic city project is set to partner with McLaren for future secondments.

While only two candidates were selected this year, more than 20 will work with McLaren next year, said Coupland.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Light plane crashes near UAE’s Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque, pilot injured

31 August, 2022

A light aircraft has crashed in the carpark of Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque injuring the pilot, officials said on Monday, blaming a technical malfunction.

The Cessna single-engine plane was approaching an exclusive airport for private jets in the UAE capital’s center when it came down near the white marble landmark, the country’s biggest mosque.

“As a result of the accident, the pilot was injured and rushed to the hospital for necessary treatment and monitoring,” the General Civil Aviation Authority said, according to the official WAM news agency.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Hezbollah at 40 stronger than ever but has more enemies

Sep 1, 2022

BEIRUT: Forty years since Hezbollah was founded at the height of Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, the group has morphed from a ragtag organization to the largest and most heavily armed militant group in the Middle East.

The Iranian-armed and funded Hezbollah, which has marked the anniversary with ceremonies in its strongholds in recent weeks, dominates Lebanon’s politics and plays an instrumental role in spreading Tehran’s influence throughout the Arab world.

But the Shiite powerhouse, once praised around the Arab world for unrelentingly standing against Israel, faces deep criticism on multiple fronts.

At home in Lebanon, a significant part of the population opposes its grip on power and accuses it of using the threat of force to prevent change. Across the region, many resent its military interventions in Iraq and in Syria’s civil war, where it helped tip the balance of power in favor of President Bashar Assad’s forces.

There is no specific date on when Hezbollah was founded, starting as a small, shadowy group of fighters helped by Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard. But the group says it happened during the summer of 1982.

The 40th anniversary comes this year as Hezbollah officials have warned of a possible new war with Israel over the disputed gas-rich maritime border between Lebanon and Israel.

Over the years, Hezbollah has boosted its military power. It boasts of having 100,000 well-trained fighters. And now its leader says they have precision-guided missiles that can hit anywhere in Israel and prevent ships from reaching Israel’s Mediterranean coast, as well as advanced drones that can either strike or gather intelligence.

“Hezbollah has evolved tremendously in the past four decades in its organizational structure, global reach, and regional involvements,” says Middle East analyst Joe Macaron.

Hezbollah’s biggest achievement over the past 40 years was its guerrilla war against Israeli forces occupying parts of southern Lebanon. When Israel’s army was forced to withdraw in May 2000 — without a peace deal like the ones it reached with Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians — the victory brought Hezbollah praise from around the Middle East.

“Who would have imagined that our enemy could be defeated?” Hezbollah’s chief spokesman Mohammed Afif said a press conference held in July to mark the anniversary.

But since the withdrawal, the controversy over Hezbollah has steadily grown as its role has changed.

In 2005, Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the most powerful Sunni politician in the country at the time, was killed in a massive truck bomb in Beirut. A U.N.-backed tribunal accused three Hezbollah members of being behind the assassination. Hezbollah denies the charges.

Hezbollah was blamed for other assassinations that followed, mostly targeting Christians and Sunni Muslim politicians and intellectuals critical of the group. Hezbollah denies the accusations.

“Hezbollah’s danger to Lebanon is huge,” says journalist and former Cabinet minister May Chidiac who lost an arm and a leg in a 2005 assassination attempt with explosives placed in her car. She said Hezbollah has been expanding Iran’s influence in Lebanon, “and this is a long-term plan that they have been working on for 40 years.”

Asked if Hezbollah is to blame for the attempt on her life, Chidiac said: “Of course. There is no doubt about that. All these assassinations are linked.”

Lebanese have been sharply divided by Hezbollah’s determination to keep its weapons since Israel’s withdrawal. Some call for its disarmament, saying only the state should have the right to carry weapons. Others support the group’s stance that it must continue to be able to defend against Israel.

Hezbollah fought Israel to a draw in a 34-day war in the summer of 2006. Israel today considers Hezbollah its most serious immediate threat, estimating that the militant group has some 150,000 rockets and missiles aimed at it.

In early July, the Israeli military shot down three unmanned aircraft launched by Hezbollah heading toward an area where an Israeli gas platform was recently installed in the Mediterranean Sea. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned that Israel will not be allowed to benefit from its gas fields in the disputed maritime border area before a deal is reached with Lebanon.

Maj. Gen. Ori Gordin, the incoming head of Israel’s Northern Command, described Hezbollah as a “serious threat,” due to both its proximity to Israel and its arsenal.

“This is a very strong terror army,” he told The Associated Press in Jerusalem. “Not as strong as the Israeli military, not as strong as the Israeli air force. We are in a completely different place when it comes to our military capabilities. But it can do some significant damage. I have to say that.”

Afif, the Hezbollah spokesman, said that “as long as there is an aggression, there will be resistance.”

In 2008, the government of Western-backed Prime Minister Fouad Saniora decided to dismantle Hezbollah’s telecommunications network. Hezbollah responded by capturing by force Sunni neighborhoods in Beirut. It was the worst internal fighting since the 1975-90 civil war ended and marked a breach in Hezbollah’s pledge never to use its weapons at home.

Perhaps the most controversial decision Hezbollah has made was by sending thousands of fighters to Syria since 2013 to back Assad against opposition fighters, as well as against al-Qaida-linked fighters and the Islamic State group.

The intervention “meant becoming entangled in the internal conflict of a neighboring Arab country rather than fulfilling Hezbollah’s claimed mandate of resistance against Israel,” Macaron said.

Across the Arab world, it cemented an image of Hezbollah as a sectarian Shiite force fighting mainly Sunni insurgents and spreading Iran’s power.

Hezbollah was also accused of helping Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, leading at least six Arab countries to list the group as a terrorist organization.

Within Lebanon, Hezbollah has used its powerful support among the Shiite community and tough tactics to gain political dominance.

In 2016, it secured the election of its Christian ally Michel Aoun as president, then it and its allies won a parliament majority in subsequent elections.

But that also sealed its role as part of a governing system whose decades of corruption and mismanagement have been blamed for Lebanon’s economic collapse, starting in late 2019. With the currency crumbling and much of the population thrown into poverty, the political elite, which has been running Lebanon since the 1975-90 civil war ended, has resisted reforms.

Massive protests demanding the removal of those politicians began in late 2019, and days afterward, hundreds of Hezbollah supporters attacked the protesters in downtown Beirut, forcing them to flee. In October, Hezbollah supporters and a rival militia had an armed clash in Beirut over investigations into the 2020 devastating explosion at Beirut’s port.

Voters punished Hezbollah and its allies in this year’s elections, making them lose their parliamentary majority.

Source: Times Of India

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Israel attacks Aleppo’s airport with rockets: Syria’s state news agency

31 August, 2022

Israel targeted Aleppo’s international airport with rockets, Syria’s state news agency (SANA) said on Wednesday, citing a military source.

It added the strike only resulted in material damage after earlier reporting blasts were heard over the city.

Syrian state TV reported that the country’s air defenses intercepted an Israeli attack over the capital Damascus and its countryside.

Source: Al Arabiya

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UN Security Council renews mandate of peacekeeping force in Lebanon for one year

31 August, 2022

The UN Security Council renewed the mandate of its peacekeeping force in Lebanon for another year during a vote on Wednesday.

France hailed the renewal. “As pane holder, France has worked for this renewal, #UNIFIL being key for the stability in Lebanon and the region,” the French Mission to the UN tweeted.

In a statement announcing the vote, the Security Council requested the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the UN secretary-general to set out “precise benchmarks and timelines” for the deployment of LAF troops in southern Lebanon and in the country’s territorial waters.

Iran-backed Hezbollah and its Shia allies, Amal Movement, have all but full control over the southern part of Lebanon and have blocked UN peacekeepers from carrying out their role on several occasions.

On Wednesday, the Security Council called on the Lebanese government to speed up the deployment of a model LAF regiment in the southern part of the country, which Beirut had previously vowed to do.

The vote to renew UNIFIL’s mandate is annual. Last year, the Security Council asked UNIFIL to take temporary and special measures to assist the LAF with food, fuel, medicine and logistical support.

The UN announced Wednesday that this support had been extended for another six months.

As for tensions between Lebanon and Israel, the Security Council urged both sides to expedite efforts to “visibly mark” the UN-demarcated Blue Line, which is the de-facto land border.

The UN says the Blue Line, marking the line of withdrawal between Lebanon and Israel, remains unmarked for half of its length. “This can lead to tensions when crossings, which may be inadvertent, occur,” the Security Council said on Wednesday.

In an indirect jab at Hezbollah, the Security Council said UN peacekeepers do not require prior authorization or need permission from anyone to carry out their mandated tasks. “It calls on the parties to guarantee UNIFIL’s freedom of movement, including by allowing announced and unannounced patrols,” the Security Council said.

“The Council condemns the harassment and intimidation of UNIFIL personnel, as well as the use of disinformation campaigns against peacekeepers.”

The recent installation of containers is restricting UNIFIL’s access to parts of the Blue Line, the Security Council said. The Council also condemned the presence of unauthorized weapons controlled by armed groups in UNIFIL’s area of operations.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi Arabia’s culinary heritage to be showcased at France’s Agora Expo

01 September, 2022

Saudi Arabia’s diverse culinary heritage will be showcased at the Agora Expo in France as part of globally promoting and introducing the Kingdom’s cuisine to the world, the Saudi Culinary Arts Commission announced on Wednesday.

The Agora Expo’s International Village of Culinary Arts, which champions international culinary traditions, will take place from September 1 until September 4 in the French capital Paris.

During this period the commission will host different pavilions, each dedicated to highlight the unique Saudi cuisine, according to a post published on the commission’s official Twitter account.

The Kingdom will have a pavilion specific for live cooking shows featuring Saudi dishes, another one for traditional coffee-related handicrafts as well as introducing attendees to the Year of Saudi Coffee 2022 initiative.

The Saudi coffee is an important element of the Kingdom’s heritage and values, and is celebrated by the Ministry of Culture through introducing the making-of process to the world.

Saudi dates will also be highlighted at another pavilion.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi ambassador to Yemen meets coordinator of UN panel of experts on Yemen

August 31, 2022

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Yemen Mohammed Al-Jaber, who also supervises the Saudi Program for the Development and Reconstruction of Yemen, on Wednesday met with the coordinator of the UN Panel of Experts on Yemen, Dr. Debbie Dash.

During the meeting, they discussed the Kingdom’s support for UN efforts in Yemen, and the efforts of the team in implementing its mandate.

They stressed the importance of the commitment of the Iran-backed Houthi militia to the provisions of the current UN-sponsored truce and the speedy opening of roads in Taiz to alleviate human suffering in the besieged city.

Source: Arab News

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