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Islamic World News ( 13 Dec 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Governor of Tamil Nadu Banwarilal Purohit: Importance of Education Has Been Emphasized Repeatedly In the Quran, Which Recognises Knowledge to Get Closer To God

New Age Islam News Bureau

13 Dec 2018

The South African city of Cape Town is not planning to ban adhan (the Muslim call to prayer), a spokesman for the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) said on Wednesday.



 Governor of Tamil Nadu: The Importance of Education Has Been Emphasized Repeatedly In The Quran, Which Recognises Knowledge to Get Closer To God

 Muslim Preacher Defies Conservatism to Preach In Indonesia Nightclubs

 BNP-ISI Conspiracies Exposed In Bangladesh

 South Africa Not Planning To Ban Adhan: Muslim Body

 Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Says Kingdom Is Committed to Serving Muslims



 Governor of Tamil Nadu: The Importance of Education Has Been Emphasized Repeatedly In The Quran, Which Recognises Knowledge to Get Closer To God

 Meghalaya HC Urges Citizenship to Those from Pak, B'desh, Afghanistan without Asking Any Questions

 Rohingya obtaining Aadhaar, passports illegally, says government

 J&K: Two militants killed in encounter with security forces in Sopore


Southeast Asia

 Muslim Preacher Defies Conservatism to Preach In Indonesia Nightclubs

 A Christmas Dinner to Whet the Appetite for Peace

 Indonesia´s Aceh lashes men 100 times each for sex crimes

 Let Knowledge Of Islam Be The Foundation Of Living

 PAS won’t reach Putrajaya via Malay heartland, analysts say


South Asia

 BNP-ISI Conspiracies Exposed In Bangladesh

 No Home for Muslim Orphans in Myanmar’s Town

 Suspected Ansar al-Islam member arrested in Keraniganj

 Bangladesh hails Turkey's efforts over Rohingya crisis

 MoD releases footage of first night airstrikes conducted by Afghan Air Force

 Thunder Corps confirm the killing of Taliban shadow governor for Paktika

 Afghanistan’s younger generation inches forward in precarious elections



 South Africa Not Planning To Ban Adhan: Muslim Body

 Nigeria Warned Over Shiite Muslim Crackdown

 Egypt: 27 militants killed in Sinai, border with Libya

 Al Shabaab 'executes army collaborators'

 US designates Boko Haram ‘entity of particular concern’


Arab World

 Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Says Kingdom Is Committed to Serving Muslims

 Hundreds of Bodies Found In Mass Graves near Syria Ex-IS Strong Hold

 Iraqi aircraft target Daesh positions in eastern Syria, kill 44 terrorists

 ISIL Blackmailing Civilians in Eastern Syria

 Hundreds of Terrorists Leave Yemen for Northern Syria Battlefields

 Pentagon: Offensive against Kurds in Syria ‘unacceptable’

 Lebanese leaders show new optimism on ending government deadlock

 Car bomb attack kills one, injures 20 in northwestern Syrian town

 Daesh destruction of rural Iraq hinders residents’ return: Amnesty



 Saudi to Make Biggest Foreign Investment in Pakistan's History Soon: Finance Minister

 Efforts for Sustained Dialogue between Pakistan, India Stressed

 India’s role crucial for Afghan peace process: Pak

 'Hope is very much in the air': Asad Umar on Pakistan's economy

 PPP calls NAB campaign against opposition witch-hunt

 Urdu, Pashto VOA websites inaccessible in Pakistan

 US blacklisting Pakistan to mitigate its own failure in Afghanistan: Mazari

 Inclusion in religious freedom blacklist ‘politically motivated’, Pakistan says

 GB police arrest ‘militant’ involved in Diamer school attacks

 Army vows to ensure secure environment for investment



 Erdogan: Turkey Will Start Operation East Of Euphrates In Syria In A ‘Few Days’

 US Senate Votes To End US Support For Saudi War On Yemen

 Yemen govt delegation rejects joint supervision of Hodeidah with UN

 UN: Missile launchers found in Yemen appear to be from Iran

 US world's biggest violator of international accords, not in position to accuse others: Iran

 Israeli forces kill Palestinian suspected over West Bank shooting

 Palestinian child dies of wounds after border clash: Gaza ministry


North America

 Outgoing US Envoy to UN Nikki Haley Blames Saudi Crown Prince For Khashoggi Murder

 Trump Reiterates Standing By Saudi Crown Prince

 Pompeo, at UN, urges tougher action on Iran missiles

 CIA still investigating killing of Khashoggi, Pompeo says

 US training of terrorists ‘not acceptable’ to Turkey

 Turkey threatens new offensive on US-backed Kurdish groups in Syria



 Germany Reaffirms Freeze on Arms Sales To Saudi Arabia

 Turkish Minority in Greece Want Their Legal Rights Back

 British foreign secretary to meet both sides at Yemen talks in Stockholm

 Strasbourg suspect Cherif Chekatt was a violent criminal on terror watchlist

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Governor of Tamil Nadu: The Importance of Education Has Been Emphasized Repeatedly In The Quran, Which Recognises Knowledge to Get Closer To God

Dec 13, 2018

Trichy: Governor Banwarilal Purohit has urged students to respect all religions as their own saying that knowledge is the common thread of thought that pervades all religions. Speaking at the annual graduation day at Jamal Mohamed College, he said the underlying message of all religions was the same. “The importance of education has been emphasized repeatedly in the Quran, which recognises knowledge to get closer to God. The same emphasis on knowledge and education was laid by Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, the guru of Swami Vivekananda who exhorted people to devote themselves to educational pursuits,” he said.

Quoting verses from Quran, he emphasized on the importance of being kind and developing the quality of forgiveness. “Islam means submission to the will of God and obedience to his law. It underlines peace, purity, submission and obedience. It stresses on values such as compassion, benevolence, wisdom and justice,” said the governor. He said there was lot of expectation from colleges as creators of human resource. This was especially so when the country was facing challenging times in providing comprehensive benefits of education and health care apart from matching the achievements of developed countries. “Therefore, colleges should lay stress on the inculcation of skills that will enable the students to find a useful role in the employment arena,” he said.



Muslim preacher defies conservatism to preach in Indonesia nightclubs

13 Dec 2018

DENPASAR, Indonesia: Mifta'im An'am Maulana Habiburrohman is not your typical Muslim preacher.

Instead of a skull cap, he wears a Javanese head dress over his 1980s-style mullet. His sermons are delivered in nightclubs instead of mosques.

With an eye on rising intolerance of "vice" in the world's largest Muslim-majority country, Habiburrohman said he upholds the right of worship for people who feel unwelcome in their community mosque because they work in clubs and bars.

"I rarely talk about heaven or hell because I believe they already know about that," said the 37-year-old preacher who also goes by the name Gus Miftah.

"There are job demands and life demands that push them to do these jobs to survive," he told Reuters before delivering a sermon to a group of mostly female employees at the Boshe VVIP karaoke bar and dance club on the island of Bali.

"I have no right to judge them ... so I'm here to help them never forget their God," he said.

Gus Miftah also operates an Islamic boarding school in Yogyakarta, his hometown on the island of Java. Conservative groups there say his preaching in clubs and red light districts is an insult to the Muslim religion.

Hardline Islamic groups have stepped up raids on bars and clubs in recent years, and have targeted sex workers and members of the LGBT community who work in entertainment zones.

Indonesia has the world's largest population of Muslims, and sizable Buddhist, Christian and other religious minorities, but conservative and hardline interpretations of Islam have fanned fears that the officially secular nation is becoming less tolerant. Last year, Jakarta's ex-governor, an ethnic Chinese Christian, was tried and jailed for blasphemy after Muslim groups accused him of insulting Islam when he mentioned the Koran in a speech.

In August, an ethnic Chinese Buddhist woman who complained that a mosque's calls to prayer were too loud was jailed for 18 months after hardline groups accused her of blasphemy.

Indonesia's Muslim clerics council was not available for comment. Indonesian media have quoted council members as saying Gus Miftah should follow established "rules and methods to conduct sermons".

Yudith Stevanni, a manager at the Boshe VVIP club, said she disagreed with those who say the club is not an appropriate site for religious teaching.

"In my opinion, it is just a venue. The lessons can be conducted anywhere," she said.

Club workers who listened to Gus Miftah's 90-minute sermon said they appreciated his humour and informal style.

"Even though we work like this, we still have religion and we still want to do good," said a 27-year-old female employee.

In another part of the room, a 25-year-old waitress wore a headscarf as she prayed. She said the session made her feel better about her work.

"My friends say my job is bad ... but the sermon has helped me through the criticism," she said, declining to give her name.



BNP-ISI conspiracies exposed in Bangladesh

December 12, 2018

Secret agencies in Bangladesh have exposed the alleged nexus between pro-jihadist Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) who were planning to target the members of a court dealing with war crimes.

Bangladesh newspaper Blitz reported that a secret communication between BNP and a clandestine business outlet of Pakistani security agency named ARY has been recently tracked by an intelligence agency.

According to the report, a person named Towhidul Islam alias Ashiq Islam on December 4 communicated with an official of ARY Digital, asking for "immediate transfer" of the "committed fund" and said the fund is required "for that plan."

Towhidul, hailing from Bogura district, currently lives in the US. He was active with the infamous Hawa Bhaban during the 2001-2006 rule of the BNP. He also belongs to the "inner circle" of BNP leader Tarique Rahman, said Blitz.

It may be mentioned here that Towhidul had served in the office of the Prime Minister when Khaleda Zia was the Prime Minister from 2001 to 2006.

According to a credible source, the ISI is plotting the assassination of several members of a court that have been dealing with war crimes. It is anticipated that the Pakistani security agency might consider implementing its nefarious plan around the forthcoming Jatiya Sangsad (Parliament) elections in Bangladesh in.

Eyeing the upcoming general elections in Bangladesh, ISI operatives in UAE have increased their activities and are regularly contacting their agents in Bangladesh.

Seeking anonymity, a source told Blitz that the ISI has become desperate in re-establishing its influence in Bangladeshi politics and administration.

As a part of its plan, the agency is looking into various options in ousting the Awami League-led government and reinstate the BNP-Jamaat nexus into power.

While the ruling party in Bangladesh is confident of a third consecutive term, it is in the dark about some unforeseen situations, with the administration also gradually becoming inactive in aggressively helping the ruling party to remain in power, the source added.

Due to ISI's influence, a major segment of the Bangladeshi media has already started avoiding anti-ISI and anti-BNP-Jamaat news content, said Blitz. It added that the ruling party is not aware of the exact situation, the serious conspiracies and its possible consequences.

The business front of the ISI is Abdul Razzak Yaqoob (ARY). In December 2000, Yaqoob established a television channel to "to the growing demands of South Asian entertainment in the region." Now ARY has expanded to six television channels, such as ARY News, ARY Musik, ARY QTV (Quran TV), ARY Zindagi, ARY Family and ATN Urdu.

The ARY bouquet of channels uses Samacom, a "monopolising uplink provider" based in the UAE, as their uplink teleport station. The channel started off with a format closely resembling that of PTV (Pakistan Television) Prime.

Because of its special status of being a project of ISI, the network obtained a license for DTH (Direct to Home) operations in Pakistan. ARY network has built ARY Digital Tower, which is one of the tallest buildings in the United Arab Emirates.

In 2003, ARY Digital received criticism upon its airing of a prisoner's derogatory comments against the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC-3) and a video showing tonsured young girls behind bars begging for mercy. ARY News and particularly its Q-TV promotes radical Islam and Sharia rule.



South Africa not planning to ban adhan: Muslim body


The South African city of Cape Town is not planning to ban adhan (the Muslim call to prayer), a spokesman for the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) said on Wednesday.

He said some people had made claims on social media platforms that authorities were planning to ban the Adhan (call to prayer), triggering panic among the Muslim community.

“We had a good meeting with city officials on Tuesday and they agreed to send their experts to ascertain the level of sound volume at one of our mosques where a resident raised a complaint,” Shaykh Isgaak Taliep, MJC’s spokesman, told Anadolu Agency.

Taliep said the city requested the mosque management to appoint an acoustic engineer to ensure that the sound volume remains at the required level stipulated by the city administration.

“South African citizens enjoy religious freedom under this democracy. However, we apply this religious freedom responsibly because we live in multi-religious and multi-cultural societies, especially when reciting the call to prayer,” he said.

“In the Western Cape, we ensure that we have the sound of the Muslim call to prayer lower than the required level as stated in the city’s by-laws,” Shaykh Riad Fataar, MJC second deputy president, said in a statement.

Muslims have lived in Cape Town for the past 350 years and have several mosques and heritage sites across the city. The largest Muslim population in South Africa is located in the Western Cape region.

Muslims make up about 2 percent of South Africa’s 57 million population.



Saudi Arabia’s King Salman says Kingdom is committed to serving Muslims

December 12, 2018

MAKKAH: Rejecting all forms of hatred and extremism, Muslim scholars from 127 countries have proposed to initiate an intercultural partnership to effectively fight Islamophobia.

More than 1,299 religious scholars and intellectuals took part in a conference titled “International Conference on Islamic unity — the perils of labeling and exclusion” held in Makkah on Wednesday.

Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal inaugurated the event organized by the Muslim World League (MWL).

The participants of the conference called for a comprehensive plan to address sectarianism and extremism.

They also stressed the need for creating effective channels of communication between followers of different Islamic schools of thought to remove misunderstandings and increase cooperation.

They unanimously rejected sectarian views and extremist ideas and urged scholars and preachers to play their role in uniting Muslims.

The Makkah governor delivered a speech on behalf of King Salman underlining the need to remove misconceptions about Islam and Muslims through dialogue. He also urged Muslims to set aside their petty differences and to work together to achieve a great and prosperous future.

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, who is also head of the MWL Supreme Council, highlighted the teachings of Islam that categorically reject all forms of discrimination.

The grand mufti urged the Muslims to forge unity among their ranks and do away with rivalries, petty differences and say no to divisions and factionalism.

Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah, president of the Emirates Fatwa Council, stressed that unity is a great Islamic concept that includes all spheres of human existence and covers all individual, collective and international relations. Islam is a religion of unity, he added

Sheikh Bayyah said the difference of opinion should not be construed as enmity.

He deplored the spirit of exclusion and rejecting and mistrusting others. He said a moderate approach is necessary to counter extremism and hatred.

MWL Secretary-General Sheikh Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa said the problems we are witnessing in today’s world emanate from a lack of open dialogue and futile rivalries between sects and denominations.

The secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, hailed Saudi Arabia’s successful experience against extremism, violence and terrorism. He said the steps Saudi Arabia has taken to counter this negative trend have transformed it into a reliable reference for everything related to Islam.

He praised the efforts, bold steps and resolute policies carried out by the Kingdom to eradicate extremist ideas from society.





Meghalaya HC urges citizenship to those from Pak, B'desh, Afghanistan without asking any questions

Dec 12, 2018

NEW DELHI: The Meghalaya High Court has urged the prime minister, law minister and Parliament to bring a legislation to allow citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, Christians, Khasis, Jaintias and Garos, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, without any question or documents.

The 37-page judgement by Justice S R Sen was given on Monday while disposing of a petition filed by Amon Rana who was denied domicile certificate. The copy of the order was made available on Tuesday.

The judgement observed that Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians, Parsis, Khasis, Jaintias and Garos are tortured even today in the three neighbouring countries and they have no place to go.

Although the Centre's Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 also seeks to make Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan eligible for Indian citizenship after a stay of six years, there was no mention of this bill in the court order.

The judge directed the Centre's Assistant Solicitor General, Meghalaya High Court, A Paul to hand over the copy of the judgment to the prime minister, Union home and law ministers latest by Tuesday for their perusal and necessary steps to bring a law to safeguard the interest of the communities.

"I can simply say that the Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, Christians, Khasis, Jaintias and Garos residing in India, on whichever date they have come to India, are to be declared as Indian citizens and those who will come in future also to be considered as Indian citizens.

"I request our beloved Prime Minister, Home Minister, Law Minister and Members of Parliament to bring a law to allow the Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, Christians, Khasis, Jaintias and Garos who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to live in this country peacefully and with full dignity without making any cut off year and be given citizenship without any question or production of any 21 documents," Justice Sen said.

The court said these communities may be allowed to come at any point of time to settle in India and the government may provide rehabilitation "properly" and declare them citizens of India.

Similar principle to be adopted for those Hindus and Sikhs, who are of Indian origin and presently residing abroad, to come to India at any time as they like and they may be considered automatically as Indian citizens, the judge said.

The court said it expected the Government of India to take a conscious decision to protect the innocent Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, Christians, Khasis, Jaintias and Garos who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, and who are yet to come as well as from abroad as they have the same right to come to India as Indian citizens.

Justice Sen was critical of the Boundary Commission appointed at the time of partition which drew an imaginary line to divide India into two.

A burning example is that if we visit the border, it is difficult to understand which land falls within India (in Meghalaya) and which is in Bangladesh as somebody's kitchen is in India and their bedroom is in Bangladesh," he said.

Stating that it was "highly illogical, illegal and against the principle of natural justice", the court said Hindus who entered India during partition are still considered foreigners.

He also viewed the National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise as "defective" as many foreigners became Indians and original Indians were left out.

Appealing to the Hindus of Assam to come together to find an amicable solution, Justice Sen said, "Our culture, traditions and religions are the same. We should not hate each other just on the basis of language".



Rohingya obtaining Aadhaar, passports illegally, says government

Dec 13, 2018

Some Rohingya Muslims, living in the country illegally, have fraudulently obtained documents like Aadhaar card, PAN card and even passports, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Wednesday. Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju said since illegal immigrants enter the country without valid travel documents in clandestine and surreptitious manners, there is no accurate data regarding the number of such migrants living in the country. “Necessary instructions have been issued to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to ensure that no Aadhaar card is issued to illegal immigrants,” he said in reply to a written question.



J&K: Two militants killed in encounter with security forces in Sopore

December 13, 2018

At least two militants were killed Thursday in an encounter with security forces which started at BrathKalan village of North Kashmir’s Sopore district Wednesday evening. The encounter is still underway.

On Wednesday, security forces launched a cordon and search operation in BrathKalan area following information about the presence of militants there, a police official said according to PTI. He said the militants opened fire at the security forces, leading to an encounter.

On Tuesday, four Jammu and Kashmir policemen were killed in a militant attack on a police picket in South Kashmir’s Shopian district. The attack was a first by militants in the Valley after they suffered several blows in multiple encounters over the last one month in South Kashmir. Police officers said that the policemen who were killed were guarding a picket meant for the security of a few Kashmiri pandit families living in Zainapora area of Shopian. Four weapons belonging to the policemen were also taken by the militants after the attack, officials said. The four policemen were identified as Abdul Majeed, Mehraj-ud-din, Anees and Hameed-ul-lah.



Southeast Asia


A Christmas dinner to whet the appetite for peace

13 Dec 2018

PETALING JAYA: In keeping with the Malaysian “muhibbah” spirit of the festive season, a group has invited various religious and community leaders to its annual Christmas dinner.

The event, aimed at spreading goodwill and holiday cheer while also fostering religious harmony, will be held at the Dorsett Grand Subang at 6pm today.

Christians for Peace and Harmony in Malaysia (CPHM) chairman Lee Min Choon said the dinner is part of a continuing process to foster closer ties and mutual understanding between religious communities.

“We seek to achieve this goal by celebrating key religious festivals with each other.

“Apart from a Christmas event like this, Christian pastors are invited to break fast with their Muslim counterparts during the month of Ramadan,” said Lee.

Over 100 Muslims including representatives of various Muslim and Malay NGOs such as Malay rights group Perkasa, Ikram, Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) and the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) have been invited.

Looking forward to the event is Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali who said that his NGO had never missed the annual dinner.

“In fact, we attend every year since CPHM first organised it in 2015,” said Ibrahim.

Since its conception in December of 2015, the Christmas dinner by CPHM has seen hundreds of attendees annually with a record of 500 guests attending in 2017.

Lee said that most of the attendees are leaders of their religious communities and that they expect over 200 people to attend this year.

“They are men and women of faith and of goodwill. They believe in constructive engagement that leads to godly social benefits for the nation,” he said.

Lee hoped the dinner would be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cultural and religious appreciation and respect.

“All it takes is a good heart, a kind word, a generous invitation and welcoming arms; qualities which all Malaysians have,” he said.

Lee added that due to recent events, it seemed as though Malaysians were living in a very tense atmosphere amidst mounting negativity.

“Whatever the differences, Malaysians have always found a solution,” he said.



Indonesia´s Aceh lashes men 100 times each for sex crimes

December 12, 2018

LHOKSEUMAWE, Indonesia: Two men caught having sex with underage girls were whipped 100 times each in Muslim-majority Indonesia´s conservative Aceh province on Wednesday, as one begged officials to stop the painful punishment.

Flogging is common for a range of offences in the region at the tip of Sumatra island, including gambling, drinking alcohol, and having gay sex or relations outside of marriage.

It is the only province in Indonesia that imposes Islamic law.

The two men whipped on Wednesday were arrested this year -- one for having sex with his underage step-daughter and the other for engaging in relations with a neighbour who was also below the age of consent.

Indonesia´s age of consent is 18, although 16-year-olds can marry with parental permission.

The 100-stroke punishment is reserved for the most severe crimes and the pair were also sentenced to as much as five years in prison.

By contrast, a half dozen men whipped this week for online gambling -- an offence under Islamic law -- received between seven and 11 strokes each from a rattan cane.

On Wednesday, one of the men raised his hand and begged a masked sharia officer to stop after he had received just five lashes, saying he could not take the pain.

The flogging resumed after doctors on the scene declared him fit enough to receive some 95 more strokes.

"We´ll only postpone a caning if the doctors say there´s a serious health threat," local prosecutor Isnawati, who goes by one name, told reporters Wednesday.

The other man quietly endured his punishment as blood seeped through the back of his shirt.

Unlike some public floggings that can attract hundreds of spectators, including children, only a few dozen people watched Wednesday´s whipping, which took place in a sports stadium.

Usually public whippings are held outside a mosque after Friday prayers.

Rights groups slam public caning as cruel, and Indonesia´s President Joko Widodo has called for it to end.

But the practice has wide support among Aceh´s mostly Muslim population -- around 98 percent of its five million residents practise Islam.

Full report at:



Let knowledge of Islam be the foundation of living

By Muhammad Husni Mohd Amin

December 13, 2018

THE repurposing of the astrolabe in the eighth and ninth centuries to determine Muslim prayer times (waqt) and direction (qiblah) is an example of Islamic ingenuity (hiyal) in solving problems encountered when performing religious obligations.

It shows that through their worldview, Muslim engineers and scientists had developed solutions to problems related to elements that concerned the community.

The works of Muslim engineers and scientists who repurposed the astrolabe, such as Banu Musa in the ninth century, were fitting examples of how the worldview of Islam and the appreciation of science as a study of signs of God (ayatu’llah) promoted the advancement of science and technology, which benefited not only Muslims, but also the world.

Although the origin of the astrolabe was Greek, it has gained the emblematic status of technological advancement in the Muslim world that just by invoking its name conjures up the picture of Islam and its adherents.

Prophet Muhammad’s exhortations, such as to maintain cleanliness and to place premiums on water as the primary cleaning agent, have always been at the centre of their design consideration. For example, Banu Musa and the 13th-century successor, Al-Jazari, who focused on facilitating the transportation and dispensation of water, took them seriously when devising their ingenious mechanical devices.

Muslim scientific and technological activities should let us realise that the civilisational aspect of Islam is able to perfect what it inherited, and endow what it made with beauty. Such is the case with the astrolabe—its image popularly adorns the cover of books discussing Muslim advancements of science during what orientalists refer to as the “Golden Age” of Islam.

Indeed, science and technology are useful to mankind. However, it is also important to realise that it is the human being who is giving the value of utility based on his experience, as well as his education, in the knowledge of virtues and morality.

In his book Tinjauan Ringkas Peri Ilmu dan Pandangan Alam (A Brief Examination of Knowledge and Worldview), Muslim thinker Professor Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas alluded science and technology to the metaphor of the knife — their oldest, simplest and closest application as a tool that is indispensable in today’s modern-day living — that can be used for either good or evil.

Therefore, it is of utmost importance for society to produce from within it good men who will ensure that science and technology are used for good.

With its ever-changing values and redefinitions, science and technology cannot, and should not, be made the supplier of our moral compass; rather, right and complete knowledge of our religion must be made the foundation of living because it is the one that evaluates life.

So it is clear that it is the human being who needs to be educated with good values supplied by religion as a source of worldview, but there is a need to extend the question on much more complex technology, given that our lives today have grown more in complexity that necessitates the proliferation of more laws to rectify social, economic and political disharmony.

Today, our ability to resolve crises has not surpassed our tendency to cause them, despite scientific and technological advances. For this reason, we need to re-examine our concepts and notions of technology. Our worldview, ethics and epistemology are determinants in the conception, implementation and deployment of science and technology. For Muslim scientists and engineers, these are supplied by their understanding of Islam.

For Muslims, watchfulness and vigilance must be exercised against purposeless materialism resulting from a false sense of the greater abundance of physical means at the expense of time, as well as excessive enjoyment of the present that impedes worship and contemplative life.

Full report at:



PAS won’t reach Putrajaya via Malay heartland, analysts say

13 December 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 13 — PAS’ dalliance with Umno will only leave it confined to the rural states as governing a diverse Malaysia will require the support of all communities, according to analysts.

Datuk Mohammad Agus Yusoff, from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, explained that the partnership will lull both into thinking that the support of the country’s largest community was enough to seize control of the federal government come 2023.

However, he said political parties cannot afford to focus on any single community for this goal, pointing out that Pakatan Harapan (PH) won the 2018 election by appealing to as wide an audience as possible.

“It’s not wrong to want to strengthen Malay unity, or to safeguard Malay supremacy or Malay politics.

“But if you only talk about Malays instead of talking about Malaysia, you cannot go far,” Agus told Malay Mail.

The political analyst noted that Barisan Nasional (BN), which had governed Malaysia for over 60 years until the 14th general election, used to enjoy diverse support. BN’s three founding parties — Umno, MCA, and MIC — represented Malays, Chinese, and Indians respectively.

PAS, which won Kelantan and Terengganu in the 2018 election but lost representatives in the western states of the peninsula, recently organised a mass protest in the capital city together with Umno against the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), a United Nations treaty.

Both Islamist PAS and the Malay nationalist Umno announced after their rally that they would form a joint committee to protect Malay rights and the position of Islam.

Universiti Putra Malaysia analyst Jayum Jawan said such a message will not find traction beyond Kelantan and Terengganu where Malay voters comprised more than 80 per cent of the states’ populations.

“It is basically a political party surviving on playing to Malay and Islam cards.

“So, outside the two states, the party will not have much appeal because other states need non-Malay, non-Muslim support to be able to form a comfortable ruling party that needed the cooperation of non-Malays as well. What’s more of Malaysia that is multi-ethnic,” he told Malay Mail.

James Chin, director of Asia Institute from the University of Tasmania, said PAS has decided to work with Umno and embrace greater conservatism in terms of Islam and Malay nationalism in the belief that Malays will perceive by the 15th general election that they were worse off under PH.

“PAS people tell me that this a great opportunity for them take over Umno supporters since many Umno supporters think the party has no future and are, therefore, looking for a new party,” Chin told Malay Mail.

Pacific Research Centre principal advisor Oh Ei Sun said PAS and Umno each commanded about 30 to 40 per cent of Malay support and had inadvertently split the Malay vote in the May 9 election.

Full report at:



South Asia


No home for Muslim orphans in Myanmar’s town


The Muslim community in a remote town in northeastern Myanmar could not repair or rebuild a damaged orphanage, as local authorities transferred the ownership rights to a nearby primary school.

Muslim religious buildings and shops were burned downed in Lashio of restive Shan state by a mob of Buddhist rioters during two-day communal violence in 2013.

At least one person was killed and several others injured in anti-Muslim attacks that started on May 28.

Muslim community leaders in Lashio had alarmed the authorities of possible incidents in the town since anti-Muslim attacks spread in several Myanmar towns following the communal violence in western Rakhine state in 2013.

Similar riots were previously reported in other parts of the country. A central town of Meiktila in Mandalay region had seen the worst incident in March 2013. At least 40 people, mostly Muslim students, were killed by the rioters.

“Since the riots broke out in other areas, we knew the radical nationalists will definitely target us,” Tin Aung said, adding they requested authorities to protect them.

“The authorities told me not to worry about it, but they did nothing. So we were helpless when the rioters rampaged in Lashio,” he said.

During the violence, Muslim residents didn’t confront the rioters. Instead they ran away or hid in the town, he added. 

Orphanage set on fire 

Khun Zaw Oo, a local journalist, who was attacked by the mob while covering the riots in Lashio, said many non-Muslim residents helped Muslim residents to escape the riots.

“The rioters were mostly migrant workers,” he told Anadolu Agency.

“If the Buddhist residents were involved [in riots], Muslims would have no place to hide and there would be more casualties,” the journalist added.

About 1,400 Muslims, mostly women and children, took refuge in Mansu Shan Monastery in central Lashio soon after the violence started on May 28, 2013.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Ashin Ponnanda, the abbot of the Mansu Shan Monastery, said it is duty of a good man to save people in need regardless of race and religion.

“I would regret only if I neglected them,” he said.

During the violence, the rioters surrounded the town’s oldest Muslim orphanage and set it on fire. But, 270 orphans were lucky to escape from the back doors.

“They blocked a major front door and set the orphanage ablaze. The orphans were lucky that the rioters didn’t know about the exit doors on the backside of the building,” Tin Aung said.

He said they learned that the ownership of the orphanage compound was transferred to Basic Education Primary School in 2000, making it impossible to repair or rebuild it.

“The landownership was transferred without bringing it to our knowledge,” said Tin Aung.


The center was built by an ethnic Muslim man in 1927 to provide education and shelter to orphans from all communities in the region. It was nationalized in 1964 by the then Socialist government, which however gave it back to Muslim community two years later.

The three-story building, which was set on fire by rioters, was built in 1994. However, the ownership for the orphanage compound was in limbo since 1979 as the authorities rejected the application by the trustee to extend the ownership rights.

“They rejected it without giving us a reason,” he said adding: “Then they confiscated the land without any notice or any compensation.”

Tin Aung said he sent letters to senior government officials, including the former President Thein Sein, but didn’t receive any response.

“Former Vice President Dr Sai Mauk Kham and I worked together in the past. So I personally requested him for help. However, nothing happens yet,” he said.

Even current Chief Minister of Shan state Lin Htut had raised the issue with Home Affairs Ministry, Tin Aung said, adding: “He [the chief minister] was then told ‘it is none of your business’.”

He said the authorities offered the Muslim community to take 2 acres of land on the outskirts of the town in exchange for giving up the orphanage compound.

“But they didn’t allow us to build an orphanage on the land. So we didn’t take the offer,” he said.



Suspected Ansar al-Islam member arrested in Keraniganj

December 12th, 2018

Ohab was an active member of the operational team of Ansar al-Islam

Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) has arrested a suspected member of Ansar al-Islam, previously known as Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), from Keraniganj in Dhaka district.

Abdul Wahab, 38, who RAB claimed is an active member of the banned militant outfit’s operational team, was caught during a drive in Keraniganj's Bashundhara River View area around 12:15am on Wednesday, said Additional Superintendent of Police Bina Rani Dash.

Bina, who is the operation officer of RAB 3, said that legal actions were being taken against him.

She said: “Ansar al-Islam has been operating in small groups in recent times. Wahab used to work in the capital city’s Jurain area and his role was to recruit people and train them.”

According to RAB, Wahab is from Bagmara in Rajshahi. He got involved with the local unit of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) through a friend and actively participated in JMB activities in Bagmara in 2005.

“In 2011, he was inspired by the ideology of Ansar al-Islam’s spiritual leader Jasim Uddin Rahmani and joined the outfit. Later, he started working as a close associate of Jasim and is currently an active member,” said Additional SP Bina.

In 2013, Jasim had also spent two days at Bagmara, holding secret meetings with the outfit members and carrying out other organizational activities, at the invitation of Wahab, she said.

Wahab, however, has been on the run since Jasim’s arrest the same year, she said. Later, Wahab started recruiting new members and carrying out organizational activities secretly.

The RAB official added Wahab confessed that Ansar al-Islam is currently operating in small operational teams at different parts of the country, with the goal to carry out subversive activities.

She said that Wahab also formed a secret operational cell with the help of seven or eight Ansar al-Islam members at Jurain in 2015.

On November 25, RAB had also arrested Md Yunus alias Asadullah, 27, the operational trainer of the radical organization, from Jurain during another drive.

RAB said that Yunus was fully trained in hand-to-hand combat and in Ansar al-Islam’s operational activities. He was also currently the main trainer of the group’s operation team.

Full report at:



Bangladesh hails Turkey's efforts over Rohingya crisis


Bangladesh's consul general in Istanbul on Wednesday praised bilateral ties with Turkey and Ankara’s support to the country over the Rohingya crisis.

Speaking at Uskudar University in Istanbul to mark the 47th Victory Day of Bangladesh, Mohammad Monirul Islam said: “Our relations with Turkey is going very well. We, as two countries, call each other as brotherly countries.”

Bangladesh wants the relations with Turkey to be maintained not only at the political level, but also at the academic level, Islam said, expressing his country’s desire to make student and academic exchanges between the two countries.

He also hailed Turkey's support to his country saying, "we thank Turkey so much for their support over Rohingya [crisis]."

Last month, a UN commission overwhelmingly approved a Turkish-backed resolution strongly condemning the continuing human rights violations and abuses against Rohingya. 

Turkey sponsored the resolution on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the European Union. 

The resolution expresses deep concern that violence by Myanmar’s military against the Rohingya has forced over 750,000 people to flee to Bangladesh since August 2017. 

Turkish Red Crescent, locally known as “Kizilay” also offers considerable aid to suffering Rohingya Muslims, including shelter, food, clothing, and personal care items.

Since 2012, and especially since August 2017, the agency has delivered over 40 million Turkish lira (over $7.5 million) worth of humanitarian aid for needy Rohingya, according to the agency. 

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

Full report at:



MoD releases footage of first night airstrikes conducted by Afghan Air Force

Dec 12 2018

The Ministry of Defense of Afghanistan released a footage which shows a series of airstrikes carried out for the first time during the night, using the sophisticated technology enabling the armed forces to target militants during the dead of the night.

According to a brief statement released by the Ministry of Defense, the airstrikes were carried out using A-29 aircraft.

In the meantime, a source in the Afghan Air Force had said the airstrikes were carried out in the vicinity of the restive Uruzgan province during which four enemy targets were attacked in Tarinkot city, the provincial capital of the province

This comes as the Afghan Air Force for the first time used the bomb to target a Taliban compound in Farah province in the month of April this year.

Full report at:



Thunder Corps confirm the killing of Taliban shadow governor for Paktika

Dec 12 2018

The Afghan military has confirmed the killing of Mullah Pir Agha, Taliban’s shadow governor for southeastern Paktika province of Afghanistan.

The 203rd Thunder Corps in a statement said Mullah Pir Agha was killed four days ago during a special military operation.

The Ministry of Interior had earlier said the group’s shadow governor for Paktika Pir Agha was killed during an operation in Gomal district of the province.

According to a statement released by the Ministry of Interior, four other members of the Taliban group were also killed during the same operation.

The statement further added that the security forces also confiscated some weapons and munitions following the operation that led to the killing of Pir Agha.

Full report at:



Afghanistan’s younger generation inches forward in precarious elections

December 12, 2018

KABUL: After weeks of delays and violence, Afghanistan’s younger generation appears to have emerged victorious over traditionalists after winning a majority of seats across more than 20 provinces, ousting several staunch opponents of President Ashraf Ghani from the race in the process.

Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) revealed the preliminary results for October’s parliamentary elections, which were delayed for years due to the violence that has plagued the country for decades.

Delays in the ballots count were blamed on chaotic election mechanisms amid complaints of mismanagement.

The country has suffered dozens of attacks and fatalities at the hands of the Taliban over the weeks.

The October 20 election, crucial for Afghanistan’s stability as the US occupation enters its 18th year, was held ahead of a vital presidential ballot set for April 2019.

The United Nations declared the October election “the most violent and mismanaged compared with any ballot held since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.”

Abdul Aziz Ibrahimi, a spokesman for the IEC, told Arab News that tallies in 25 out of the 34 provinces have been counted, adding that the final count was delayed to ensure transparency and accuracy in rooting out “bogus votes.”

“Many of those who won the seats are youth,” he said. “There are former lawmakers among them as well.”

Another IEC official said the tally could continue changing until the final results are announced in a few weeks and that candidates that have lost can file an appeal against the preliminary results. Polls in the Ghanzi and Kandahar provinces could not be held because of poor security in the area. Votes for the Farah province allegedly perished on board the helicopter that crashed in October. The country’s electoral complaints body last week deemed the Kabul vote tally “invalid” amid allegations of fraud and mismanagement. Ibrahimi said the authority would, however, resume the counting process in the capital after it was paused for a week.

Fazl Manawi, a former IEC chief, accused the government of manipulating the vote count in order to facilitate an easier win for the country’s president.

“The government is trying to root out opponents,” he told Arab News.

A palace spokesman, however, denied the allegations. Several lawmakers said that staunch opponents of Ghani from various ethnic groups, who had stood for re-election, have been deliberately sabotaged.

Full report at:





Nigeria warned over Shiite Muslim crackdown

12 DECEMBER 2018

Lagos — Nigeria on Wednesday faced calls to prosecute soldiers for using excessive force against Shiite Muslim protesters, exactly three years after a military crackdown killed more than 300.

Human Rights Watch said the security forces had shown a “pattern of brutality” towards the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) and warned such action could worsen national security.

More than 40 people were killed in three days of protests in the capital, Abuja, in October when the security forces fired live bullets at crowds. The army maintained six people died and that soldiers acted in self-defence because protesters were trying to seize weapons and ammunition, and that troops came under attack.

Aniete Ewang, Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: “The repression against the IMN Shia Muslim group by government security forces risks creating grievances that could worsen Nigeria's already precarious security situation.

“The increasing spate of protests by the group is a cry for justice that authorities would do well to heed. Any unlawful use of violent force against processions and protesters is highly likely to be counterproductive as well as a crime,” she said.

Human Rights Watch called on the authorities to “end impunity” for the attacks, investigate crackdowns on other protests and “hold anyone found responsible for using unlawful force to account”.

The IMN and its leader Ibrahim Zakzaky have been at loggerheads with the government for years because of his call for an Iranian-style Islamic revolution in Nigeria. Nigeria is almost evenly split between a mainly Sunni Muslim north and a largely Christian south.

On December 12 2015, soldiers killed 347 IMN members in a three-day crackdown in the northern city of Zaria, after accusing them of blocking the road and threatening the chief of army staff. The bodies were buried in a mass grave, the IMN headquarters was razed while Zakzaky, his wife and hundreds of others were arrested and charged.

Scores have since been acquitted because of lack of evidence while several rulings have ordered the release on bail of Zakzaky, who lost the sight in one eye during the clashes. But the government has repeatedly refused to obey the courts and has been warned its targeting of the IMN risked radicalising the group in the same way as Boko Haram.

The Sunni jihadist group’s insurgency in northeast Nigeria has killed more than 27,000 people since 2009, left some 1.8-million others homeless and caused a humanitarian crisis.

Yet President Muhammadu Buhari has accused Zakzaky of committing “atrocities”, despite him not having been tried or convicted, in comments that raised concerns about due process.

The IMN has since 2015 accused the authorities of using excessive force to curb their activities across the country and that at least 110 people have been killed.



Egypt: 27 militants killed in Sinai, border with Libya

December 12, 2018

CAIRO: Egypt says its security forces have killed at least 27 suspected militants in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula and along its porous border with Libya.

The military said Wednesday that forces destroyed 342 hideouts and weapons depots, dismantled 344 explosive devices and detained more than 400 suspects and around 3,000 illegal migrants, without giving a timeframe.

It says airstrikes destroyed 61 vehicles containing weapons and ammunition in the Western Desert.

It says one soldier was killed in a shootout with militants.

It wasn’t possible to independently confirm the details as access to the northern Sinai is heavily restricted .

Full report at:



Al Shabaab 'executes army collaborators'

Dec. 12, 2018

Somalia's militant Islamist group al Shabaab has shot dead execution-style three men.

It accused two of the men of working for the army. The third man killed was an elderly clan leader who helped choose candidates for the 2016 parliamentary elections.

The killings took place in front of a crowd in Mubarak village in southern Somalia, media linked to al Shabaab reported.

The militants, who are affiliated to al-Qaeda, control much territory in rural areas of Somalia, and are fighting to overthrow the UN-backed government.

The militants are known for killing suspected informers, including those accused of spying for US and other foreign intelligence agencies.



US designates Boko Haram ‘entity of particular concern’

December 12, 2018

The United States has announced the designation of the Boko Haram terrorist group as “an entity of particular concern”.

The US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in a statement revealed the designation of Boko Haram alongside the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, al-Qa’ida and al-Shabab.

Pompeo also designated Saudi Arabia, Iran, Burma, North Korea, among “countries of particular concern”, while Comoros, Russia, and Uzbekistan were placed on “special watch list”.

“On November 28, 2018, I designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, as Countries of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for having engaged in or tolerated ‘systematic, ongoing, (and) egregious violations of religious freedom.

“I also placed Comoros, Russia, and Uzbekistan on a Special Watch List for governments that have engaged in or tolerated ‘severe violations of religious freedom.

“Finally, I designated al-Nusra Front, al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qa’ida, al-Shabab, Boko Haram, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Khorasan, and the Taliban as Entities of Particular Concern,” Pompeo said.

The US top diplomat regretted that in far too many places across the globe, individuals continue to face harassment, arrests, or even death for simply living their lives in accordance with their beliefs.

Pompeo said: “The United States will not stand by as spectators in the face of such oppression.

“Protecting and promoting international religious freedom is a top foreign policy priority of the Trump Administration.

“In July, I hosted the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, which brought together some 85 like-minded governments and more than 400 civil society organisations to harness global attention and motivate forceful action to advance respect for the human right of religious freedom”.

According to him, safeguarding religious freedom is vital to ensuring peace, stability, and prosperity.

“These designations are aimed at improving the lives of individuals and the broader success of their societies.

“I recognise that several designated countries are working to improve their respect for religious freedom; I welcome such initiatives and look forward to continuing the dialogue.

“The United States remains committed to working with governments, civil society organisations, and religious leaders to advance religious freedom around the world,” Pompeo said.

The Boko Haram terrorist activities have claimed thousands of people’s lives, and affected millions of families, leaving behind huge humanitarian crises, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“The humanitarian crisis in North East Nigeria that has spilled into neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, is one of the most severe in the world today.

“In North East Nigeria, 10 years of conflict has left more than seven million people in dire need of help in the three worst-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

Full report at:



Arab World


Hundreds of bodies found in mass graves near Syria ex-IS strong hold

12 December, 2018

Seven mass graves containing hundreds of unidentified bodies have been unearthed near the former Islamic State group stronghold of Albu Kamal in eastern Syria, official news agency SANA said.

Most of the more than 100 bodies recovered so far at the site appear to "have been subjected to torture and ill-treatment before execution," it said, accusing IS of killing the victims.

The news agency released a video showing forensic experts in protective clothing recovering remains, and corpses laid out on the ground in a row under white sheets.

A Syrian Red Crescent official said the main focus at present was identifying the remains already recovered which included those of several women.

"Exhumations will resume afterwards," the official said, asking not to be identified.

"The bodies show signs of torture and some were blindfolded and handcuffed."

IS has been held responsible for multiple atrocities during its reign of terror, including mass executions and decapitations.

In recent months, both Syria and Iraq have discovered a number of mass graves in areas previously occupied by the militants.

IS proclaimed a "caliphate" over swathes of the two countries in 2014, but has since lost almost all the territory it once held.

Albu Kamal, which lies in the Euphrates Valley near the border with Iraq, was the last major town that IS controlled fully before losing it in November 2017.



Iraqi aircraft target Daesh positions in eastern Syria, kill 44 terrorists

Dec 12, 2018

Iraqi military aircraft have carried out two separate airstrikes against members of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in Syria’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr as the Baghdad government has pledged to continue airstrikes on the positions and headquarters of the extremists in the neighboring war-battered country.

The media bureau of Iraq's Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a statement that the fighter jets targeted a meeting of Daesh Takfiris in al-Susah town, which lies in Abu Kamal district of the province, leaving 30 terrorists dead.

Another air raid destroyed a militant hideout in the same Syrian town, killing 14 Daesh terrorists.

Iraqi authorities have on occasions stated that they work closely with the Syrian government to monitor and target terrorist targets based on the efforts of intelligence and information departments of the security coordination committee formed between Baghdad, Damascus, Tehran and Moscow years ago, as well as coordination with the so-called US-led anti-Daesh coalition.

“If we perform a strike, we will coordinate with the international coalition, the joint security center and all the relevant parties. As we work together, we follow the principle of partnership to ensure safety and harmony between allies,” former Iraqi Ministry of Defense spokesman Tahseen al-Khafaji said in April.

Iraqi forces uncover Daesh tunnels in Nineveh desert area

Meanwhile, Iraqi security forces have discovered seven long tunnels used by members of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group during a clean-up operation in the country's northern province of Nineveh.

Brigadier General Yahya Rasoul, spokesman for the JOC, said police forces found the tunnels in the small Shaikh Ibrahim desert town, which lies in Tel Afar district of the province, and roughly 45 kilometers (28 miles) west of Mosul.

Former Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi declared the end of military operations against Daesh in the Arab country on December 9, 2017.

On July 10 that year, he had formally declared victory over Daesh in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in Iraq.

In the run-up to Mosul's liberation, Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had made sweeping gains against Daesh.

Full report at:



ISIL Blackmailing Civilians in Eastern Syria

Dec 12, 2018

Al-Hel reported that ISIL has told those locals who intend to leave the region in Southeastern Deir Ezzur to pay a hefty amount of money.

It further said that the ISIL has kidnapped a large number of civilians, adding that the terrorist group has asked $700 to release each captive.

The ISIL has also announced that the civilians who want to leave the region with their vehicles have to pay $1,500.

A Turkish media outlet reported on Tuesday that the SDF freed an ISIL commander in Eastern Deir Ezzur after the militia received thousands of US dollars.

The Arabic-language website of Anadolu quoted local sources in Eastern Deir Ezzur as disclosing that the SDF liberated, Oweid, a senior ISIL commander the militia had captured in the town of al-Tayanah several months ago.

It further said that the SDF received $100,000 to let the commander be free from custody.

Full report at:



Hundreds of Terrorists Leave Yemen for Northern Syria Battlefields

Dec 12, 2018

The Arabic-language website of Sputnik quoted well-informed sources as disclosing that almost 400 non-Syrian terrorists have arrived in Idlib through Turkey's Southern border with Syria in the last two months.

It further said that the terrorists that had arrived in the region from Yemen crossed the Turkish border into Syria's border towns of Sarmada and Atmah in Idlib in 8 and 15-member groups, adding that the terrorists' transfer from Yemen to Idlib was supervised by a regional state.

The report did not mention the name of the regional state that had assisted the move, but said that Horras al-Deen militants have settled the newcomers in one of their bases between Idlib and Northern Hama that had been set up 20 days ago.

The news agency said that Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) has eased transfer of the terrorists to regions under Horras al-Deen's control in Idlib.

Militant-affiliated sources reported last week that the Ankara-backed National Liberation Front (NLF) started preparing its gunmen to counter any possible attack by the Syrian Army troops in the Northern part of the country amid other terrorists' provocative measures in the demilitarized zone in Idlib, Hama, Aleppo and Lattakia provinces.

The sources disclosed that NLF Spokesman Naji Mustafa urged the group's fighters to be on alert to counter the army's possible operation in Northern Syria.

In the meantime, military sources said that that the army forwarded a large number of forces and military equipment from the newly-freed regions in Southern Syria to Jabal al-Turkmen and the Northern part of al-Ghaab Plain.

Full report at:



Pentagon: Offensive against Kurds in Syria ‘unacceptable’

13 December 2018

Any unilateral military action in northern Syria would be “unacceptable,” the Pentagon warned Wednesday after Turkey said it would soon launch an operation against a US-backed Kurdish militia.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would begin the operation “within days” to target the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara considers a “terrorist offshoot” of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“Unilateral military action into northeast Syria by any party, particularly as US personnel may be present or in the vicinity, is of grave concern,” Pentagon spokesman Commander Sean Robertson said in a statement. “We would find any such actions unacceptable.”

American forces have worked closely with the YPG under the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance, which has played a key role in the war against ISIS. American forces are with the SDF east of the Euphrates as well as in the flashpoint city of Manbij, which is west of the river.

Only approach

“Coordination and consultation between the US and Turkey is the only approach to address issues of security concern in this area,” Robertson said.

“We are committed to working closely and recently held a high level working group on Syria with our Turkish partners precisely to enhance our cooperation, coordination, and consultation.”

The Pentagon has repeatedly warned that any fighting between the Turks and the SDF would be a dangerous distraction from the core US mission in Syria of fighting ISIS.

“We should not and cannot allow (ISIS) to breathe at this critical point or we will jeopardize the significant gains we have made alongside our coalition partners and risk allowing (ISIS) to resurge,” Robertson said.

Full report at:



Lebanese leaders show new optimism on ending government deadlock

12 December 2018

Lebanese leaders expressed fresh confidence on Wednesday about reaching a deal to form a new government, with President Michel Aoun saying results of his efforts to break the months-long deadlock would appear this week.

Heavily indebted and with a stagnant economy, Lebanon desperately needs a new government to implement economic reforms that are required to put its public finances on a more sustainable footing and unlock pledges of foreign aid.

A general election in May gave rise to months of wrangling between the rival parties to form a coalition government under the country’s sectarian system, with Saad al-Hariri designated as prime minister.

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri was cited as saying he was “optimistic for the possibility of a solution soon” and caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said Lebanon would definitely form a new government “despite all obstacles”.

On Tuesday, Aoun said the government formation could not be resolved in the traditional way between the prime minister-designate and other parties, and that he had to get involved to avoid “catastrophe” - an apparent reference to the economy.

He said on Wednesday the results of his new effort would appear “in the next two days”.

Bassil, who is also Aoun’s son-in-law and head of the political party he founded, said partnership between Aoun and Hariri would “certainly lead to the formation of a new government, despite all obstacles”.

He was speaking at a London conference which the Lebanese government hopes will garner investor interest in a capital investment program that aims to tap into billions of dollars of aid pledged at a donors’ conference in April.

High Public Debt

But foreign governments and international institutions first want Lebanon to implement long-stalled economic reforms. The country has the world’s third largest public debt compared to its GDP, at more than 150 percent.

Hariri, also attending the London roadshow, told reporters he was “always optimistic” when asked about the prospects of forming a new government.

Parliament Speaker Berri’s optimism stemmed from Aoun’s intervention in the process, lawmaker Ali Bazzi said.

Agreement on the make-up of the new cabinet has met a series of obstacles as Hariri has sought to forge a deal parceling out 30 cabinet posts among rival groups according to the sectarian system.

The final hurdle has been over Sunni Muslim representation, with the powerful Iran-backed Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah demanding a cabinet seat for one of its Sunni allies who gained ground in the election.

Analysts believe one compromise could be for Aoun to nominate one of the Hezbollah-aligned Sunnis, or a figure acceptable to them, among a group of ministers named by the president.

Full report at:



Car bomb attack kills one, injures 20 in northwestern Syrian town

Dec 12, 2018

At least one civilian has been killed and nearly two dozen others sustained injuries after a car bomb blast struck near a medical center in Syria’s northwestern province of Aleppo.

Local sources, requesting not to be named, said the incident occurred on Wednesday afternoon in the city of Azaz, roughly 32 kilometers (20 miles) northwest of Aleppo, killing a 10-year-old girl and wounding 20 others.

A health official said the death toll may rise as some of the injured were in critical condition.

The sources added that the explosion caused the closure of Ibn Zaidun primary school, and caused extensive damage to a number of houses and shops nearby.

On October 6, at least five people, including two children, were killed in a car bomb attack in the same Syrian town.

According to a report by the so-called Syrian observatory for Human Rights group, the powerful blast occurred after an explosives-laden vehicle went off at the entrance of the industrial district of Azaz.

The UK-based monitor also said that the blast took place near a tanker filled with fuel, sending up large pillars of smoke as a raging fire engulfed the area.

Turkey’s pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper reported that at least 27 people had sustained injuries in the explosion and the subsequent blaze.

The wounded were said to be rushed across the border to Turkey’s Kilis Public Hospital to receive due treatment.

Syrian army soldiers find Israeli-made anti-tank weapons in militant position

Separately, Syrian government troops launched a counter-terrorism operation in Nawa city of the southwestern province of Dara’a, and discovered a considerable amount of munitions as well as medicine in a stronghold belonging to foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants.

Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that there were Israeli-built M72 LAW portable and unguided anti-tank weapons among the uncovered arms.

Seven mass graves found in Syria's Dayr al-Zawr

Furthermore, seven mass graves, containing hundreds of unidentified bodies, have been unearthed near the former Daesh stronghold of Abu Kamal in Syria’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr near the border with Iraq.

SANA reported that most of the bodies recovered so far at the site appear to “have been subjected to torture and ill-treatment before execution at the hands of Daesh terrorists.”

Work was under way to retrieve the rest of the bodies from the graves, the report added.

“After examining the remains, it appears that most of the people were executed by bullets to the head, while their hands were tied,” an unidentified Syrian military commander said in a video.

Full report at:



Daesh destruction of rural Iraq hinders residents’ return: Amnesty

December 13, 2018

BAGHDAD: The Daesh group’s deliberate destruction of agriculture in northern Iraq has hindered the return of hundreds of thousands of residents, Amnesty International said in a report released Thursday.

The New York-based rights group said Daesh fighters burnt or chopped down orchards and sabotaged wells by filling them with rubble, oil or other materials. The militants also stole or destroyed pumps, cables, generators, transformers and vital electricity lines.

Amnesty called on the Iraqi government to repair rural infrastructure and compensate the displaced so they can return to their homes.

Daesh seized control of much of northern Iraq in the summer of 2014. US-backed Iraqi forces gradually drove the militants from all the territory under their control, declaring victory a year ago after a costly campaign that destroyed entire neighborhoods and towns.

“The damage to Iraq’s countryside is as far-reaching as the urban destruction, but the consequences of the conflict on Iraq’s rural residents are being largely forgotten,” said Richard Pearshouse, senior crisis adviser at Amnesty.

He said the report focuses on the “deliberate, wanton destruction” around the area of Sinjar, where the extremists massacred and enslaved thousands of members of the Yazidi religious minority. About half of Sinjar’s residents have returned, with many others saying they have nothing to go back to.

Beyond Sinjar, Amnesty’s report gave sobering figures for all of Iraq.

“The conflict against IS eviscerated Iraq’s agricultural production, now an estimated 40 percent lower than 2014 levels,” it said. “Before IS, around two-thirds of Iraq’s farmers had access to irrigation — only three years later, this had fallen to 20 percent. Around 75 percent of livestock was lost, spiking to 95 percent in some areas.”

Syrian and Iraqi forces have gradually driven Daesh out of nearly all the territory it once held. But the group still maintains a presence in the Syrian desert and remote areas along the border. Many have warned it could stage a comeback if economic grievances are not addressed.

Full report at:





Saudi to make biggest foreign investment in Pakistan's history soon: finance minister

December 13, 2018

Finance Minister Asad Umar on Thursday suggested that an incoming investment package from Saudi Arabia promises to be "the biggest foreign investment in Pakistan history".

Umar, while addressing an event in Islamabad, said that the package would be announced soon.

"The ball is in our court. It is going to the cabinet for approval next week, after which the announcement will be made," he said.

He added that he keeps getting messages from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman "through other people to hurry up".



Efforts for sustained dialogue between Pakistan, India stressed

Dec 13, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Sohail Mahmood has underlined efforts for sustained dialogue and enhanced people-to-people exchanges between Pakistan and India.

According to a message received from New Delhi on Wednesday, the high commissioner, while speaking to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, highlighted the historic initiative – Kartarpur Corridor opening – in deference to the longstanding wishes of the Sikh community.

During the meeting, possibilities for people-to-people interaction and collaboration in different fields with Odisha were discussed as well.

The high commissioner congratulated the chief minister and the people of Odisha on hosting the Hockey World Cup and noted the progress made by Odisha in various fields under the leadership of CM Patnaik.

In his interaction with the local media, the high commissioner reiterated his felicitations to the people of Bhubaneswar and Odisha on hosting the world cup and noted the contribution made by the international event towards the revival and growth of hockey in the subcontinent.

To a question regarding a possible hockey series between Pakistan and India, the high commissioner hoped that such exchanges would take place in the future. Among other things, he said, such series would popularise the game among the youth and help two countries re-gain their lost glory in the field of hockey.

Full report at:



India’s role crucial for Afghan peace process: Pak

Dec 12, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Probably for the first time, Pakistan has acknowledged that India has stakes in Afghanistan and its cooperation is necessary for the peace process in the wartorn country. Speaking in the National Assembly on Monday, foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan alone could not bring peace in Afghanistan as it was a “shared responsibility” of regional countries.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that peace could not be established in Afghanistan through military power. Today the US, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Taliban also wanted a solution through dialogue,” The Express Tribune quoted Qureshi as saying.

“Some meetings have taken place [among key stakeholders] for establishment of peace in Afghanistan. India also has stakes in Afghanistan and its cooperation will also be needed,” Qureshi said.

The US has indicated that it plans to give a role to India in Afghanistan, whereas Pakistan’s stance over the years was quite clear that India had no role to play in Afghanistan.

Pakistan perceives India’s development contributions in Afghanistan as part of New Delhi’s strategic encirclement policy that Islamabad feels would leave it vulnerable in any potential conflict.

Full report at:



'Hope is very much in the air': Asad Umar on Pakistan's economy

December 13, 2018

Finance Minister Asad Umar on Wednesday asserted that surveys held following the completion of PTI government's first 100 days in power showed that "a very clear majority of Pakistanis think the country is moving in the right direction and heading towards a better place than where it was before".

"Hope is very much in the air," the finance minister mentioned while being interviewed by Stephen Sackur on BBC News programme Hard Talk.

When asked how well the government was doing to keep up with the promises made by Imran Khan before coming into power, especially given the fact that the prime minister had previously remarked that he would be "ashamed to go abroad and ask for money", Umar responded by saying:

"When the government came into power, it was a well-known fact that Pakistan needed some kind of a bailout...the real challenge, the real decision is — and that's how we will be judged in the future — did we take the decisions of setting the country's economy on a path where this is going to be what I have repeatedly said, the last IMF programme if we get into one right now."

Umar said after he took charge as the finance minister, the government reached out to friendly countries for bilateral financial assistance as well as started a dialogue with the IMF simultaneously because it had no time to first work out a strategy and then start negotiations.

The finance minister said, the government did not wait for the IMF to impose any conditions on Pakistan to do what it was required to do.

"In the very first 100 days we increased electricity prices, gas prices, we put in place a supplementary finance budget, we increased taxes, the policy rate has been increased by the central bank, the currency rate has been adjusted by the central bank," he explained.

He said both the monetary and fiscal policies were moving in the direction of reforms that are required by the IMF.

"We don't need IMF's dictation for us to do that because we believe this is what's necessary. However, the path for reforms is different in the eyes of IMF, as we stand today, versus what we think is right."

The finance minister said that this was what the ongoing dialogue with IMF was debating over. "There is no difference of opinion with the IMF in terms of what needs to be done. It is the pace, the sequence, and the extent which is being discussed," he added.

To a question regarding Pakistan standing with Saudi Arabia and in return acquiring monetary assistance, while the world was shocked and disgusted over the news of journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder, the finance minister said:

"I would be happy to be ashamed of standing up with a country with whom we have had close bilateral ties...maybe the western leaders should be ashamed of themselves talking about democracy, talking about freedoms, and still reaching out in the same Saudi pockets to take billions of dollars of business deals. The leader of the Western world Donald Trump stands up and openly says 'I am getting too much business from Saudi Arabia for me to worry about what happened to Khashoggi.'"

He clarified Pakistan was just being consistent in the bilateral relationship with Saudi Arabia which has remained the same regardless of who remains in power. Pakistan's relationship with Saudi Arabia goes back half-a-century and it had got nothing to do with Yemen or Khashoggi, he added.

With respect to the investment in Balochistan under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the minister said the Balochistan government was eager to enhance investment in the province under the CPEC project.

He said Pakistan's debts payable to China were less than 10 per cent of its total debts while the US was the largest debtor of China with over $1.3 trillion debt owed to it.

To another question, Umar said people of Balochistan were patriotic Pakistanis but there were some sponsored activities by terrorists who were trained and funded from outside Pakistan.

"There are concerted efforts led by India to damage the CPEC. People of Balochistan have elected a government that fully stands by CPEC and have also shown loyalty with Pakistan," the finance minister said.

To a question regarding tax reforms, he said the government has taken several new initiatives aimed at enhancing the tax base and revenue to facilitate the socio-economic development of the country.

The revenue generation aspect is absolutely central to be able to deal with the horrendous challenges that we have, the finance minister said.

"The health and education situation needs drastic reforms and for that you need revenue, and for that, you need an efficient revenue authority," Umar said, adding: "We have separated tax policy from tax administration."

The finance minister said that almost the entire top leadership of the revenue authority has been changed.

Full report at:



PPP calls NAB campaign against opposition witch-hunt

December 13, 2018

KARACHI: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Wednesday criticised the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and called its ongoing campaign against opposition parties a ‘witch-hunt’, describing the anti-graft body as a tool of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government.

Party leaders, who met Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in the chair to discuss the political situation in the country, did not spare Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government, calling them “puppet rulers”.

Nayyar Hussain Bukhari, Syed Khursheed Shah, Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Qamaruz Zaman Kaira, Makhdoom Ahmed Mahmood, Humayun Khan, Ali Maddad Jattak, Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Waqar Mehdi and other PPP leaders attended the meeting.

“Leaders of the PPP have termed the witch-hunt against the PPP and other opposition leadership as a vicious victimisation where NAB has become a tool placed in the hands of puppet rulers,” said a statement issued after the meeting held at the Bilawal House.

“The PPP chairman endorsed the views of party leaders that the PTI government has unleashed a victimisation campaign brazenly targeting PPP and other opposition parties after a shameless dry-cleaning drive for inducting a puppet regime against the will of collective wisdom of the nation.

“The meeting noted that PTI government is in fact drumming up cosmetic and hollow projects as its poor and directionless policies and together with skyrocketing inflation leading the national economy to a disastrous nosedive.

“The meeting expressed deep concern over the ruthless anti-encroachment drive by the PTI government where poor segment of society has been specifically targeted without chalking out any compensation plan thus snatching the livelihood of hundreds of thousand Pakistanis. Instead of providing employment, the puppet regime is rendering thousands jobless,” said the statement.

Although the PPP has maintained a strong stand against NAB for pursuing cases against its leaders, the fresh meeting of the party assembling all its key leaders from across the country appears quite interesting just a day before the scheduled appearance of Mr Zardari and Mr Bhutto-Zardari before NAB in connection with the transfer of land to a real estate company.

Earlier this week, the Rawalpindi NAB had sent notices to the father and son asking them to appear before the bureau on Dec 13.

Full report at:



Urdu, Pashto VOA websites inaccessible in Pakistan

Ikram Junaidi

December 13, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Urdu and Pashto websites of international news organisation Voice of America (VOA) have reportedly been blocked in Pakistan.

Accessing the website shows an alert that reads: “Secure Connection Failed. The connection to was interrupted while the page was loading. The page you are trying to view cannot be shown because the authenticity of the received data could not be verified.”

An official who works for VOA said that the Pashto website had been blocked a few months ago.

“However, the Urdu website became inaccessible last week after the coverage of a press conference held by the leader of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), Mohsin Dawar. Initially, we received complaints that the website was not accessible at some places, but later it was completely blocked,” the official said.

“Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry was also contacted over the issue and he also confirmed that the websites were blocked.”

Ayesha Tanzeem, the VOA bureau chief for Afghanistan and Pakistan, on her Twitter account @atanzeem said: “Pakistan Tightens Coverage of Pashtun Nationalist Movement #PTM, blocks VOA’s Urdu and Deewa websites… @UrduVOA @VOADeewa @VOANews #PakistanCensorship.”

In a news story published on the VOA website’s English edition, it is stated that Pakistani authorities were scrutinising media coverage of the Pashtun nationalist movement, blocking VOA websites and filing police cases against journalists covering its local rallies.

About a week earlier, it said, Pakistan had ordered internet service providers to block the website of VOA’s Urdu language service. VOA’s Deewa news website, which primarily caters to the Pashto-speaking audience in the region around the Afghan border, had already been blocked for months, the report added.

The VOA report quoted Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry as saying that the sites were blocked for “false and prejudiced reporting”.

“The stories they were doing were only projecting a particular narrative without any impartial view. There are many things happening in our country and most are positive,” he told the publication.

Full report at:



US blacklisting Pakistan to mitigate its own failure in Afghanistan: Mazari

Dec 13, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari on Wednesday expressed surprise over the United States (US) administration’s decision to add Pakistan to the “blacklist for religious freedom violations” and said it was apparent the US was using it as a political tactic to mitigate its failures in Afghanistan.

“The timing of this move reflects this most clearly,” she said in a statement issued by the ministry and added that Trump needs to be reminded of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s pledge to the Pakistani nation that the country will only act in its own interests and not be a “hired gun” for any other power.

“It is time for the US to take responsibility for its failures in Afghanistan so that it can do a course correction.”

She said that there was no doubt that Pakistan’s record on religious freedom was not ideal but it was still better than the European Union’s record; given the restrictions on churches, the banning of certain dress codes of Muslims and refusal of entry of certain preachers to name a few.

“The timing of the US move smacks of pure political blackmailing because it comes in the wake of Pakistan opening the Kartarpur Corridor to ease access for the Sikhs of India to their religious places as well as assisting Hindu groups to enter Pakistan for religious purposes when India has sought to prevent Muslims from Pakistan visiting Ajmer for religious purposes,” Mazari added.

The deliberate ignoring of India’s shrinking space for its religious minorities by the US, while it targets Pakistan is absurd and unacceptable, the human rights minister said.

It seems, she said, that the US is ignorant to the large and diverse presence of Christian churches in Pakistan. “I would like to educate the Trump administration on this count,” Mazari added.

Earlier in the day, the Trump administration had exempted Pakistan from sanctions that affect the countries added to the US’ annual list of nations violating religious freedom.

Full report at:



Inclusion in religious freedom blacklist ‘politically motivated’, Pakistan says

Dec 13, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Wednesday rejected the US State Department’s move to include the country to its blacklist of countries that “violate religious freedom” as “unilateral and politically motivated”.

Following this, the Trump administration has waived potential sanctions for Pakistan which can be expected to hit countries downgraded in the US’s rankings of nations that it says infringe on religious freedom.

Pakistan had previously been on a special watch-list for religious freedom. The downgrade means that the US government is obliged to exert pressure on the blacklisted countries to end freedom violations.

However, US State Secretary Mike Pompeo waived the potential penalties for Pakistan in the US’s “national interest”.

Taking strong exception to the inclusion of Pakistan’s name in the religious freedom blacklist, the FO summoned top officials of the American embassy and handed them a protest letter.

The FO letter stated, “ Besides the clear biases reflected from these designations, there are serious questions on the credentials and impartiality of the self-proclaimed jury involved in this unwarranted exercise.”

“Pakistan is a multi-religious and pluralistic society where people of diverse faiths and denominations live together. Around four per cent of our total population comprises citizens belonging to Christian, Hindu, Buddhists and Sikh faiths. Ensuring equal treatment of minorities and their enjoyment of human rights without any discrimination is the cardinal principle of the Constitution of Pakistan,” it added.

The FO highlighted, “Special seats have been reserved for minorities in the Parliament to ensure their adequate representation and voice in the legislation process. A vibrant and independent National Commission on Human Rights is functioning to address concerns on violation of the rights of minorities.”

“Successive governments have made it a priority that rights of citizens belonging to minority faiths are protected as guaranteed by the law and the Constitution. The higher judiciary of the country has made several landmark decisions to protect the properties and places of worships of minorities,” it further stated.

“As a party to 7 out of the 9 core human rights treaties, Pakistan is submitting its compliance reports on its obligations with regard to fundamental freedoms. The government of Pakistan has devised well established legal and administrative mechanisms to safeguard the rights of its citizens,” the FO statement said.

“Pakistan does not need counsel by any individual country how to protect the rights of its minorities,” the FO asserted.

“Sadly, the proponents of human rights worldwide close their eyes on a systematic persecution of minorities subjected to alien domination and foreign occupation such as in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir. An honest self-introspection would also have been timely to know the causes of the exponential rise in Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in the US,” it concluded.

Earlier, a statement that was released from the US Department of State said, “The countries were added to the list under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for having engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, [and] egregious violations of religious freedom.”

Moreover, Pompeo said that he had designated Pakistan among the “countries of particular concern” in the congressionally-mandated annual report, which means that the US government is obliged to exert pressure in order to end freedom violations.

“In far too many places across the globe, individuals continue to face harassment, arrests, or even death for simply living their lives in accordance with their beliefs. The United States will not stand by as spectators in the face of such oppression,” Pompeo said in the statement.

“These designations are aimed at improving the lives of individuals and the broader success of their societies. I recognize that several designated countries are working to improve their respect for religious freedom; I welcome such initiatives and look forward to continuing the dialogue,” he added.

Full report at:



GB police arrest ‘militant’ involved in Diamer school attacks

Dec 13, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Police in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) on Wednesday claimed that it had arrested a suspected militant commander reportedly involved in attacking schools in Diamer earlier this year.

According to police, the suspect militant named Qari Hidayatullah was arrested during an operation in Darel area on Tuesday night. It added that three other individuals were arrested along with Hidayatullah.

A police spokesperson said that police, GB Scouts and other law enforcement agencies conducted the operation with assistance provided by a local tribal jirga.

During the night between August 3 and 4, some unidentified militants set on fire 12 schools for girls in Gilgit-Baltistan and later on reports were received that two more schools were set ablaze. Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar on August 4 had taken a suo motu notice of the incidents in Diamer and Chilas.

Later on, the police said that the suspected militant involved in burning of 14 girl schools was killed in an exchange of fire with security officials.

Full report at:



Army vows to ensure secure environment for investment

DECEMBER 13, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa Wednesday said the internal security situation of Pakistan has largely improved paving the way for foreign investment in the country.

“We will continue to play our part in ensuring secure environment for business and entrepreneurship in Pakistan by both local and foreign investors,” the army chief said during his visit to the forward troops in Gadra Sector in Sindh.

The COAS commended operational preparedness and high state of morale of the troops. He said Pakistan Army is fully committed to guard the frontiers of the country.

Later, the army chief visited Thar Coal project. He was given detailed briefing on the progress of the pilot projects. Fauji Fertilizer Company Managing Director Lieutenant General (r) Tariq Khan received the COAS upon his arrival. Commander Karachi Corps Lieutenant General Humayun Aziz also accompanied the COAS during the visit.

Separately, the army chief witnessed the ongoing Pak-China International Air Exercise Shaheen-VII at an operational airbase of the Pakistan Air Force. On his arrival, he was received by Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan.

While interacting with the combat crew, the COAS lauded professionalism of the participants of the exercise and appreciated the efforts of the PAF and the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) in conducting international air exercise in a befitting manner. While highlighting the exemplary relations between Pakistan and China, the COAS said the exercise would further strengthen and promote the friendship, exchanges and cooperation between the two nations and their armed forces.

The exercise is seventh in the series of Shaheen exercises and is conducted each year on alternate basis.

Full report at:





Erdogan: Turkey will start operation east of Euphrates in Syria in a ‘few days’

12 December 2018

Turkey will start an operation east of the Euphrates river in northern Syria in a “few days” President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, a move that could further complicate relations with the United States.

“We will start the operation to clear the East of the Euphrates from separatist terrorists in a few days. Our target is never US soldiers,” Erdogan said in a speech.

Ankara and Washington have long been at odds over Syria policy, where the United States has backed the YPG Kurdish militia in the fight against ISIS. Turkey says the YPG is a terrorist organization.



US Senate votes to end US support for Saudi war on Yemen

Dec 12, 2018

The United State Senate has voted to end President Donald Trump’s support for the Saudi war on Yemen.

The senators voted 60-39 Wednesday to advance a resolution for further debate and a later vote in the chamber.

Republican senators joined the Democrats to provide the 60 votes needed for the resolution to advance.

The 39 Republicans senators disagreeing with the move all cast no votes.

The resolution passed despite Majority leader Mitch McConnell’s call on lawmakers to block the measure, arguing it was too broad.

The Senate fired the warning shot at Trump in the wake of his embarrassingly close ties with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman following the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Saudi government is currently grappling with an international crisis over the murder of prominent dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In March 2015, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of its regional allies started the war against the Muslim world’s poorest country, Yemen.

Full report at:



Yemen govt delegation rejects joint supervision of Hodeidah with UN

12 December 2018

The delegation of the Yemeni government participating in the Yemen talks in Sweden questioned the feasibility of a proposal submitted by the UN, which called for the formation of a “joint entity” to the administer the city of Hodeidah after the withdrawal of armed Houthi militias and military forces from the city.

“The proposal will create legal and institutional problems and will not be enforceable, but will create additional difficulties on this authority’s credibility,” said Marwan Dammaj, Yemen’s minister of culture and member of the legitimate government’s delegation.

Dammaj added that the government is committed to the withdrawal of Houthi militias from the city, and proposes to re-position the armed forces in the city’s camps, and for security entities under the ministry of interior to manage the security of the city.

Negotiations are still ongoing in Rimbo, Sweden, on all outstanding issues, including Hodeidah, Taiz, Sanaa Airport, the economic situation and the negotiating framework.

The consultations continue to be surrounded by a belt of international diplomatic pressure as Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to join the delegations in Sweden this evening to push parties to achieve concrete results in the last remaining hours on Thursday.

“It is important that the two sides agree on points that both can implement and make no promises that are difficult for them to meet,” a Western diplomat told Al Arabiya English.

“The two sides must abide by the rules of mutual respect and try to avoid rhetoric of escalation and threats,” the diplomat, an ambassador involved in the negotiations in Sweden, said.

Lists of prisoners exchanged

The delegation of the legitimate Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels exchanged the lists of prisoners in the framework of the negotiations hosted by Sweden.

The government delegation submitted 8,200 names, while the Houthis presented 7,000 names.

Full report at:



UN: Missile launchers found in Yemen appear to be from Iran

12 December 2018

Two launch units for anti-tank guided missiles recovered by Arab coalition in Yemen appear to have been manufactured in Iran during 2016 and 2017, according to a confidential United Nations report seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres does not specifically state whether the discovery of the units in Yemen was a violation of a UN resolution that took effect in January 2016. It prevents Iran from importing and exporting arms or related materiel unless the Security Council has given approval.

“The Secretariat found that they had characteristics of Iranian manufacture and that their markings indicated production dates in 2016 and 2017,” Guterres said in his biannual report to the Security Council on the implementation of sanctions on Iran.

“The Secretariat also examined a partly disassembled surface-to-air missile seized by Arab coalition and observed that its features appeared to be consistent with those of an Iranian missile,” he wrote.

The Arab coalition intervened in 2015, backing the legitimate government of Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi fighting the Iran-allied Houthi militias. The Houthis have been subject to a separate arms embargo since 2015. Iran has repeatedly denied supplying weapons to the Houthis.

The UN Security Council is due to discuss the latest report from Guterres on Wednesday, diplomats said.

The United States has loudly and unsuccessfully pushed the United Nations to hold Iran accountable over accusations it is meddling in the wars in Syria and Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East. Top US diplomat Mike Pompeo is scheduled to attend the Security Council meeting on Wednesday.

In February Russia vetoed a Western attempt to have the Security Council call out Tehran in a resolution on Yemen.

Guterres also said the United Nations had examined the debris of three more ballistic missiles fired at Saudi Arabia on March 25 and April 11, 2018, and found “specific key design features consistent with those of the Iranian Qiam-1 short-range ballistic missile.” It could not determine if it was a violation as it was unknown when they were transferred to Yemen, however.

He said the United Nations “is still working on establishing the production date range of guidance subcomponents with the assistance of the foreign manufacturers.”

In his June report, Guterres said debris from five missiles fired at Saudi Arabia by the Houthis since July 2017 “share key design features with a known type of missile” manufactured by Iran and some components were manufactured in Iran, but also could not determine when they were transferred to Yemen.

Most UN sanctions imposed on Iran were lifted in January 2016 when the UN nuclear watchdog confirmed that Tehran fulfilled commitments under a nuclear deal with Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the United States. But Iran is still subject to a UN arms embargo and other restrictions.

The UN sanctions and restrictions on Iran are contained in a resolution that also enshrines the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which US President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from in May. European powers have been scrambling to salvage the deal.

Full report at:



US world's biggest violator of international accords, not in position to accuse others: Iran

Dec 12, 2018

Iran says the United States is the "biggest violator" of international accords, a fact that President Donald Trump best demonstrated by abandoning the 2015 nuclear deal in breach of a United Nations Security Council resolution.

Bahram Qassemi, Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman, said Wednesday that Trump's decision in May was a violation of the UNSC Resolution 2231, which endorsed the nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries -- the US, the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany.

"The US is the biggest violator of international agreements and defying Resolution 2231 was the telltale sign of a unstable, unruly and unbiddable government," he told a press call.

Resolution 2231 enshrined the Iran nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), from which Washington has withdrawn under the pretext, among others, that it should have included Iran's missile program as well.

Under the deal, Tehran agreed to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions.

Trump pulled out of the deal, vowing to resume all the sanctions and tighten the economic and political pressure until Tehran agrees to halt its development of ballistic missiles while also rolling back its regional influence.

Qassemi's words came in response to  Christopher Ashley Ford, US Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Non-Proliferation, who suggested Tuesday that the US could sit down with Iran to renegotiate the deal.

During his remarks at a conference in the UK, Ford accused Iran of violating the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and said Tehran had a tendency " to violate its obligations under multiple, legally-binding Security Council resolutions."

"Iran’s track record demonstrates, in painful detail, how little the world can trust Iran’s promises if its underlying capabilities are not subject to constraint," the US official added.

Qassemi dismissed Ford's remarks as "wishful thinking" and advised the American official to review his remarks once again to see how "unsubstantiated and flawed" they were.

He said despite the International Atomic Energy Agency's repeated confirmations that Iran was in compliance of the JCPOA , "the delinquent and lawbreaking US, illegally and unilaterally, left the deal without offering any reasons or evidence [of a breach.]"

He noted that Washington's disregard for international norms and double standard policies, which are evident after its withdrawal from the JCPOA, invalidate Ford and other American officials' statements with regard to the nuclear deal and Iran's missile program; hence the idea of renegotiating the agreement is "pointless."

Qassemi said Washington continues its hostile approach towards Iran and actively tries to persuade other signatories of the JCPOA by threatening to "punish" them.

Trump has made it clear that he would go after European companies that attempt to bypass US sanctions.

Full report at:



Israeli forces kill Palestinian suspected over West Bank shooting

December 12, 2018

JERUSALEM: Israeli security forces on Wednesday shot dead a Palestinian suspected in the shooting of seven Israelis including a pregnant woman whose baby later died.

The Shin Bet security service said in a statement that a suspect named as Salah Omar Barghouti, 29, who tried to evade capture during a raid on a West Bank village was shot and killed.

The statement did not say if Barghouti was suspected of being the gunman or an accomplice. It said an unspecified number of other suspects were arrested.

The Shin Bet announcement came hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that those who carried out Sunday’s drive-by shooting near a Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West bank would be found and brought to justice.

He spoke shortly after a Jerusalem hospital announced the death of the baby boy, delivered by emergency caesarean section after his mother was shot. She was 30-weeks pregnant.

“We lost a few hours ago a newborn baby, four days old,” Netanyahu said in an address to foreign media.

“We will find the killers, we haven’t stopped searching. We will find them and bring them to justice,” he said.

The newborn was buried late Wednesday on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives, opposite the walled Old City.

US peace envoy Jason Greenblatt said in a Twitter message that the death was “absolutely heart-breaking.”

“My thoughts & prayers are with the family of the baby who died today as a result of the despicable terror attack on Sunday,” he wrote. “This is an attack Hamas praised as ‘heroic’.”

“The world must strongly condemn this terror and not remain silent,” Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, said in a statement.

The Hamas movement, which runs the Gaza Strip, saluted the shooting and in a statement said it proved “resistance” was still alive in the West Bank.

Following the attack the 21-year-old mother was reported as stable, but the Shaare Zedek hospital said Monday that her baby had taken a turn for the worse.

The child died “despite the medical efforts of the premature baby unit to save him,” the hospital said on Wednesday.

Palestinian attacks against Israelis occur sporadically in the West Bank.

Full report at:



Palestinian child dies of wounds after border clash: Gaza ministry

December 12, 2018

GAZA CITY: A four-year-old Palestinian boy has died after being injured during clashes between the Israeli army and protesters along the Gaza border, the health ministry in Gaza said.

“Ahmed Abu Abed, aged four years and eight months, died as a result of the wounds he received last Friday east of Khan Yunis,” health ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra said in a statement late Tuesday.

The statement did not provide further details on how the child was injured.

In the hospital where the boy died, 38 year-old Bassem told AFP he was the child’s uncle.

He said Abu Abed was injured by shrapnel when his father was shot during regular Friday protests along the border.

It was not clear why the child had been taken to the border protests and there was no independent confirmation of the circumstances.

His funeral will take place on Wednesday.

The Israeli army said it was reviewing the incident, while accusing Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas of using residents as cover for attacks.

“The Hamas terrorist organization cynically uses Gaza residents, especially women and children, as human shields and places them at the forefront of the violent riots, terrorist attacks and the terror of arson, demonstrating their contempt for human life,” the army said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Facing this reality, the IDF (army) does everything possible to avoid harming children.”

Palestinians have been protesting along the Gaza border at least weekly since March 30, triggering repeated clashes with the army.

Full report at:



North America


Outgoing US envoy to UN Nikki Haley blames Saudi crown prince for Khashoggi murder

12 December, 2018

The US ambassador to the United Nations, who has announced she is leaving her post, has blamed Saudi Arabia's powerful crown prince for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, breaking with the position of her boss Donald Trump.

Nikki Haley made the accusation against Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) on Wednesday in a tell-all interview with NBC.

"It was the Saudi government, and MBS is the head of the Saudi government," Haley said when asked about Khashoggi's murder.

"So they are all responsible, and they don't get a pass, not an individual, not the government - they don't get a pass," she added.

Haley announced in October that she would leave the administration at the end of 2018.

The comments come as US President Donald Trump said he would continue to stand by the crown prince despite increasing pressure from US authorities, including the CIA and a number of senators.

Trump downplayed concerns surrounding Prince Mohammed's involvement in the brutal killing of Khashoggi in Riyadh's consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

A member of the US House of Representatives said on Wednesday that hearings would be held after the first of the year on all aspects of Saudi behavior, including the killing of Khashoggi.

Saudi Arabia has denied that the crown prince was involved and has arrested 21 people in connection with the killing.

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in October at his country's Istanbul consulate, was named Time magazine's "Person of the Year" on Tuesday, an honour he shared with other persecuted journalists dubbed as "guardians" of the truth.



Trump reiterates standing by Saudi Crown Prince

12 December 2018

US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday, that he stood by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

“He’s the leader of Saudi Arabia. They’ve been a very good ally,” Trump said in an interview in the Oval Office.

Asked by Reuters if standing by the kingdom meant standing by the Crown Prince, Trump responded: “Well, ..., it certainly does.”

Trump reiterated on Tuesday that the “crown prince vehemently denies” involvement in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

The US Administration had imposed sanctions targeting 17 Saudis for their alleged role in the killing in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

As the Senate considers this week a joint resolution on the killing, something that the president would have to sign or veto if passed by Congress, Trump said he would meet with senators.

“And I really hope that people aren’t going to suggest that we should not take hundreds of billions of dollars that they’re going to siphon off to Russia and to China,” Trump said.

“Well, I’m much more open to Yemen because frankly, I hate to see what’s going on in Yemen,” Trump said. “But it takes two to tango. I’d want to see Iran pull out of Yemen too. Because - and I think they will.”

Trump’ statements come amid calls by a limited number of senators, with no interaction within the Senate, to adopt a resolution seeking to directly interfere in the internal affairs of a close American ally in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia.

This is raising questions about at least some of these senators’ obsession with Saudi Arabia and how that can prove to be counterproductive, according to US experts.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, is leading a campaign to discredit Saudi Arabia and its high ranked officials with regards to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Full report at:



Pompeo, at UN, urges tougher action on Iran missiles

12 December 2018

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday that Washington would seek to work with the 15-member body to re-impose ballistic missile restrictions on Iran.

He also said a UN arms embargo on Tehran should not be lifted in 2020 and called on the Security Council to establish “inspection and interdiction measures, in ports and on the high seas, to thwart Iran’s continuing efforts to circumvent arms restrictions.”

Pompeo urged the United Nations to tighten restrictions on Iran’s missiles, saying the Islamic republic had hundreds of projectiles that could strike US allies.

“We risk the security of our people if Iran continues stocking up on ballistic missiles,” Pompeo told the Security Council.

“We risk escalation of conflict in the region if we fail to restore deterrence. And we convey to all other malign actors that they too can defy the Security Council with impunity if we do nothing,” he said.

Iran has “hundreds of missiles which pose a threat to our partners in the region,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo said the United States would press to preserve a UN arms embargo on Iran due to expire in 2020.

“We also call on the Council to establish inspection and interdiction measures, in ports and on the high seas, to thwart Iran’s continuing efforts to circumvent existing arms restrictions,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo has put a major focus on ramping up pressure on Iran, with President Donald Trump withdrawing from an international accord on curbing Tehran’s nuclear program negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama.

Pompeo called for the re-imposition of a ban on Iran developing missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons as outlined under Security Council Resolution 1929 of 2010.

That resolution was superseded by Security Council Resolution 2231 backing the Iran nuclear accord, which also called upon Tehran to refrain from the sensitive missile work.

Karel van Oosterom, the Dutch ambassador to the United Nations, in a statement on behalf of eight European nations said that Iran’s missile program was concerning but separate from the nuclear accord.

Full report at:



CIA still investigating killing of Khashoggi, Pompeo says

Dec 12, 2018

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has noted that CIA investigations regarding the death of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi still continued.

Pompeo on Wednesday reiterated his earlier assertion that there was no direct evidence linking Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the Oct. 2 killing of Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

He said given the importance of maintaining the ties between Washington and Riyadh, the investigation would continue until its formal conclusion.

Pompeo’s comments came despite a CIA assessment that the murder of Khashoggi was likely ordered by Mohammed bin Salman, publicly known as MBS .

CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed leaders of the House of Representatives behind closed doors about the killing.

After the briefing, House members declined to comment beyond saying they had not heard anything that had changed their minds about Khashoggi's death.

Democratic Representative Eliot Engel, likely the next chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said he intended to start early next year on reviewing all aspects of Saudi behavior and the US-Saudi relationship.

Engel acknowledged that the Saudis were regional allies for the US. However, he reminded that when an assets became a liability, it could not be just ignored.

“I don't think we can simply look the other way when things happen and talk about business as usual," he said. "I think that all leaders are responsible for things that happen under them. So I think that we've still get to get to the bottom of it.”

Saudi Arabia had initially denied knowledge of Khashoggi’s disappearance, then offered contradictory explanations, including that he was killed in a rogue operation.

Full report at:



US training of terrorists ‘not acceptable’ to Turkey


The U.S. training of YPG/PKK terrorists is not acceptable to Ankara, Turkey’s defense minister said on Wednesday.

Speaking at an event in the capital Ankara marking Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Armed Forces Day, Hulusi Akar said Turkey is determined to protect its rights in land, seas and air.

Turkey has long criticized U.S. cooperation with its “reliable” allies the PKK/YPG against Daesh, pointing out that the YPG is the Syrian branch of the PKK, a group recognized as terrorist by Turkey, the U.S., and the EU.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women and children. The YPG is its Syrian branch. "Turkey will not let any terror corridor in country's south and Syria's north, including east of Euphrates river. So far Turkey has performed major fights against all terror organizations, PKK, YPG, Daesh, especially FETO, for peace in Turkey and the region and we will go on with our fight and operations with the same determination until the last terrorist is neutralized," Akar said.

FETO and its U.S.-based leader, Fetullah Gulen, is accused of orchestrating the defeated coup of July 15, 2016 which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

The defense minister also criticized the West for not extending necessary contributions to cope up with the human tragedies in Syria and Iraq.

"Now we see that the world public opinion, which was deaf to the tragedy in Srebrenica, is now deaf to several similar tragic cases in Syria," he said, and added that Turkey respects all its neighbors' territorial integrities, especially that of Syria and Iraq.

Over 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb forces after they attacked the UN "safe area" of Srebrenica in July 1995, despite the presence of Dutch troops tasked with acting as international peacekeepers.

Srebrenica was besieged by Serb forces who were trying to capture territory from Bosnian Muslims and Croats in an attempt to create their own state.

Hundreds of Bosnian families are still searching for missing loved ones, as a large number of victims were thrown into mass graves throughout the country during the Bosnian War, which spanned from 1992-1995.

Full report at:



Turkey threatens new offensive on US-backed Kurdish groups in Syria

December 12, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is threatening to imminently launch a new offensive on Washington-backed Kurdish groups in Syria after the Pentagon confirmed on Tuesday that US forces had established observation posts in parts of northern Syria overlooking the Turkish border.

An offensive on US-backed forces in Syria is likely to strain ties between Nato allies Washington and Ankara, and may endanger the lives of US personnel who are now stationed in unidentified positions along the border.

The move could also derail efforts by the US-led coalition and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces to push ISIS out of a holdout near the Iraqi border.

"We will begin our operation to rescue the east of the Euphrates (river) from the separatist organization within a few days," Mr Erdogan said, referring to the People's Protection Units (YPG), a Syrian Kurdish group stationed in positions near Turkey's border. "Our target is not the American soldiers it is terror organizations that are active in the region."

Turkey has in the past month shelled Kurdish positions across the border in Syria, east of the Euphrates River, and has, on numerous occasions, threatened to drive out the YPG, which it describes as a "terrorist offshoot" of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Turkish threats have prompted the US to establish observation posts along the border, in a move aimed at preventing a confrontation along the frontier.

Col. Sean Ryan, a spokesman for the US-led coalition said in an emailed statement to The National on Tuesday that US forces are securing locations for manned observation posts "to support security and stability on the border, and improve the Coalition's situational awareness to enable the continued fight against ISIS."

"The goal is keeping all parties focused on ensuring the enduring defeat of ISIS, our common enemy that still poses a significant threat to Syria, Iraq, Turkey and our partners around the world," he added.

It is not immediately clear where and how many observation posts have been established so far. Iraqi Kurdish outlet Rudaw reported on Friday that US forces have established at least five posts along the border.

Mr Erdogan's statement, at an address to a defense industry meeting on Wednesday, comes one day after the Pentagon announced US observation posts on the northeast Syria border, saying the move is intended to prevent altercations between the Turkish army and the YPG.

"We know that the aim of the radar and observation posts set up by the United States (east of the Euphrates) is not to protect our country from terrorists, but to protect the terrorists from Turkey," Erdogan said.

Full report at:





Germany reaffirms freeze on arms sales to Saudi Arabia


By Ayhan Simsek


Germany reaffirmed on Wednesday that it would continue a freeze on arms exports to Saudi Arabia until the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is clarified.

Chancellor Angela Merkel told lawmakers during a parliament session that currently no weapons are exported to Saudi Arabia from Germany.

“We had already adopted a very restrictive policy in our coalition agreement regarding arms sales to Saudi Arabia due to Yemen [conflict],” Merkel said, referring to the coalition deal signed in March between her Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democrat Party (SPD).

“Unfortunately only very few European partners have adopted a similar policy,” Merkel said.

“It would be very desirable if we could also achieve a common European approach here,” she added.

The chancellor also promised to close loopholes in the German legislation, which could be used by companies to continue their weapons exports, despite bans imposed by the government.

Following the Oct. 2 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, German government announced that it halted all arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

But local media reported recently that a leading German defense firm used its subsidiaries in Italy and South Africa to bypass the export control system and continued its weapons exports to Saudi Arabia.



Turkish minority in Greece want their legal rights back


Head of Greece’s Friendship, Equality and Peace (FEP) Party on Wednesday called on Athens to return the guaranteed rights of the Turkish minority in the Western Thrace.

The Turkish minority in Western Thrace faces the threat of assimilation as they cannot practice their guaranteed rights, Mustafa Alicavus told Anadolu Agency in the northeastern Greek city of Komotini.

He criticized the Greek government of not sticking to the Treaty of Lausanne after it was signed. 

“Greece has always applied pressure on the Turkish Muslim minority and seized their existing rights,” Alicavus said. 

Turkish minority “do not have rights to choose muftis, their own religious leaders,” he said. “They cannot open new minority schools, which are greatly needed.”

“The right of minorities to form an association is usurped. Activities of our associations were shut down with a court decision as having the word 'Turkish' in their names was not allowed.

“All of these make the Turkish community, which has existed peacefully for decades on this soil, face the threat of assimilation,” the FEP party head said. 

Expressing his concerns over the future, Alicavus said, “We want our rights, determined by international agreements which Greece also signed -- in particular, the Lausanne Treaty --, to be returned.”

Greece recently had closed several associations in the Western Thrace because they had the word "Turkish" in their names.

Although the ECHR convicted Greece regarding this matter, Greece does not implement the ECHR verdicts on the issue.

Greece refuses to recognize that there is a Turkish minority in Greece and recognizes it only with its religious denomination, as a Muslim minority.

Full report at:



British foreign secretary to meet both sides at Yemen talks in Stockholm

December 13, 2018

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt will attend the UN-led Yemen peace talks in Stockholm on Thursday. The visit is a culmination of his efforts during visits to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iran where he tried to kickstart a political process to bring an end to the Yemen conflict.

Mr Hunt will meet UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and UN special envoy Martin Griffiths. He will also meet with members of the government of Yemen and the Houthi delegation, the first time a UK minister has met with Houthi officials since the conflict began.

Ahead of the visit, Mr Hunt said that "Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe, and these peace talks represent the best opportunity in years to move towards the political solution the people of Yemen urgently need. I applaud the historic strides the UN special envoy has already made in bringing the parties together for the first time since 2016".

Since being appointed to the role in July 2018, Mr Hunt has made the conflict a higher priority than his predecessor, Boris Johnson, had.

Mr Hunt continued: “Some of the important confidence building measures I discussed in my recent visits to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iran – including the evacuation of wounded Houthis from Yemen and a potential prisoner swap – have been agreed and delivered. But the most important measure for a lasting peace is dialogue, and we are already seeing the benefits of talks between the government of Yemen and the Houthi delegation.”

“For our part,” he concluded, “the UK will continue to use all tools at our disposal to bolster the UN Special Envoy. This includes through our work in the Security Council.”

Full report at:



Strasbourg suspect Cherif Chekatt was a violent criminal on terror watchlist

December 13, 2018

Cherif Chekatt, the 29-year-old man sought by police over a shooting in Strasbourg lived in a small apartment in a ramshackle housing block and has convictions in France and several European countries after a life of crime, officials say.

Chekatt lived in the Poteries area of Strasbourg about a 20-minute tram ride west of the centre of the French city and its Christmas market where the attack struck.

“It’s a building for desperate people. No one wants to live there,” one local, Bemba N’diaye, 37, told an AFP reporter near the nine-storey concrete bloc where Chekatt’s name is on a letterbox.

“People there are very isolated,” Mr N’diaye said.

Others said the man was known in the area owing to his criminal record, but he kept a low profile, only venturing downstairs for a coffee and baguette.

“His family has lived around here for a while, but he lived on his own nearby,” Zach, a 22-year-old, said. “He was discreet, not a thug.”

The suspected gunman has been sentenced 27 times, mostly in France where he was born, but also in Germany, Switzerland as well as Luxembourg which are easily reached from Strasbourg.

His crimes range from violence to robbery, but not terrorism.

Chekatt was added to a watchlist of possible extremists while in prison in France in 2015 after he “called for practising a radical form of religion,” French deputy interior minister Laurent Nunez said on Wednesday.

He has since been monitored by France’s domestic intelligence agency, the DGSI, which is occupied monitoring a large number of suspected extremists in France.

Some 25,000 people are currently on the “S” extremism watchlist, 9,700 of them for radicalism “linked mainly to Islamist terror movements,” according to the interior ministry.

Meanwhile police continued to search through eastern France on Wednesday for Chekatt.

Police issued a wanted poster for him and an investigation had been opened into alleged murder with terrorist intent and suspected ties to terrorist networks with intent to commit crimes.

France raised its security threat to the highest alert level, strengthening controls on its border with Germany as elite commandos backed by helicopters hunted for the suspect.

French and German agents checked vehicles and public transport crossing the Rhine river, along which the Franco-German frontier runs, backing up traffic in both directions. Hundreds of French troops and police were taking part in the manhunt.

Prime minister Edouard Philippe said an additional 1,800 soldiers would be put on anti-terror security patrols with a special focus on Christmas markets.

Full report at:




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