New Age Islam
Thu Aug 13 2020, 04:45 AM

Islamic World News ( 10 Feb 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

I Was Forced To Quit, Will Continue Working for Hindu-Muslim Unity: Salman Nadwi













Photo: Nadwi said an amicable settlement of the Ayodhya dispute was imperative for Hindu-Muslim peace and unity

 

Babri Masjid Will Remain Mosque till Eternity: AIMPLB

UK Minister Backs Right to Ban Hijab In Schools

One in Four Iraqi Children in Poverty after War on Islamic State

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India

I Was Forced To Quit, Will Continue Working for Hindu-Muslim Unity: Salman Nadwi

Babri Masjid Will Remain Mosque till Eternity: AIMPLB

Shia Waqf Board Calls AIMPLB A Terrorist Organistaion In Cahoots With Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, Backs Cleric Salman Nadvi

Sunjuwan Terror Attack: 5 Soldiers Martyred; 3 JeM Terrorists Killed

PM Modi meets Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi; India, UAE sign 5 pacts

Weeks after Netanyahu visit, PM Narendra Modi says India for free Palestine

Maldives crisis: India should not remain mute spectator, says Yashwant Sinha

How 'India First' turned into 'China First' for Maldives

Jammu: Pak Army shells LoC areas in Rajouri

Pak creating disturbances in Kashmir to prevent panchayat polls: Sources

J&K Army camp attack: Cong asks PM to 'personally supervise' operation

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Europe

UK Minister Backs Right to Ban Hijab In Schools

UK Official Says 2 British IS Suspects Shouldn't Return Home

Polish official accuses Jews of 'passivity' in Holocaust

Scout Master Fired After Comparing Muslim Leader Wearing Niqab to Darth Vader

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Arab World

One in Four Iraqi Children in Poverty after War on Islamic State

Why Is The Syrian War Still Raging?

Almost 1,270 Kurdish Fighters Killed in Turkish Army Operation in Northern Syria

More Terrorists Killed in Clashes between Two Rival Groups in Northwestern Syria

Tens of Terrorists Killed in Syrian Armed Forces' Attacks in Hama, Idlib Provinces

Northeastern Syria: Kurdish Militants Start Setting up Military Positions at Border with Turkey

Syrian Army Forwards More Soldiers, Equipment to Eastern DeirEzzur

Senior Terrorist Commander Killed in Remote-Controlled Bomb Blast in Northwestern Syria

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South Asia

Taliban Infiltrator Kills 16 Pro-Government Militia Men In Helmand

5 Taliban Militants Killed, 4 Wounded In US Airstrikes In Uruzgan

Rising tensions among Pak-Afghan forces along the Durand Line

Second round of Pak-Afghan talks end without major breakthrough

Afghanistan impose travel ban on 4 individuals after Kabul hotel attack

Afghan forces arrest 8 ISIS group members in Kabul

Bid to smuggle 2.27 kgs of heroin to India from Kabul airport has been foiled

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Mideast

Turkish Soldiers Advancing Slowly In Afrin to Fight In Line With Islamic Ethics: Top Religious Body Head

Israel, Iran Lurch toward Showdown As Border Region Boils

Major Israeli air raids hit 'Iranian targets' in Syria

Israeli jet shot down after bombing Iranian site in Syria

President Rouhani Stresses Victory over Terrorism

Resistance Shoots Down Israeli Plane Over Gaza

Qatari emir congratulates anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution

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Africa

Egyptian Army Kills 16 Terrorists in Sinai Operation

Islamic banking in Egypt increases 16 % in 2017: official

Sudan: Proposal to Dissolve ‘Islamic Movement,’ integrating it in Ruling Party

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North America

Bombing of Chinese Separatists Shows How Trump’s Afghan War Changed

India May Raise With Washington Use Of US-Made ATMGs By Pakistan To Target Indian Troops

No mothers, no Muslims: The new US immigration system

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Pakistan

Police Seek Govt’s Help for Security to Witnesses in Naqeeb Case

Sanaullah airs concern over NAB chief’s remarks against Punjab govt

Pakistan man arrested for killing sister over affair with relative

Rabita Committee removes Farooq Sattar from convenership of MQM

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Southeast Asia

India must step in to check Chinese land grab, rising radicalisation: Nasheed

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Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/i-was-forced-to-quit,-will-continue-working-for-hindu-muslim-unity--salman-nadwi/d/114238

 

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I was forced to quit, will continue working for Hindu-Muslim unity: Salman Nadwi

TIMESOFINDIA.COM | Feb 11, 2018

Nadwi said an amicable settlement of the Ayodhya dispute was imperative for Hindu-Muslim peace and unity

He alleged that "hardliners" had hijacked the board, which forced him to distance himself from their "official" stance on Babri

He asserted thathe will continue to hold meetings with people from both sides of the spectrum

Former AIMPLB member Salman NadwiFormer AIMPLB member Salman Nadwi

NEW DELHI: Hours after being expelled from the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), former executive member Maulana Salman Nadwi said an amicable settlement of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute was imperative for Hindu-Muslim peace and unity.

After returning to Lucknow from the AIMPLB's 26th plenary session in Hyderabad, Nadwi alleged that "hardliners" had hijacked the board, which forced him to distance himself from their "official" stance on the Ayodhya dispute.

"Hardliners in AIMPLB are overpowering the board and it's stand on the Ayodhya dispute, so I stepped away and was made to step away. In 25 years, court could not do anything so it is better to have an out of court settlement for peace and unity," Nadwi told TOI.

He opined that any ruling by the Supreme Court, which is currently hearing final arguments in the politically sensitive case, would be partisan and further divide the two communities.

"Board is saying it will wait for whatever the court decides, I'm saying why wait when you can sit together and decide for peace and stop any riot like situation in the future. Why have such disputes of land that separates people. What the court decides will hurt either one of the community," he said.

Nadwi caused a stir on Saturday by suggesting the Babri Masjid be shifted away from the disputed site in Ayodhya. The remark courted immediate backlash from the AIMPLB, which asserted that land dedicated for a mosque cannot be sold, gifted or in any way alienated.

Standing by his view, Nadwi cited scriptures and said since the last time Muslims offered prayers at Babri Masjid was back in 1949, he was all for shifting the place of worship and save the country from further clashes instead of waiting for a seemingly interminable court judgement.

"I have been a teacher of theology for the last 40 years and I am talking of clauses present in the Sharia for such a disputable situation. There is no mosque there now, it was destroyed in 1992 and now we want to make a new mosque. Nobody removed the idols in 1949 or did anything when the locks were reopened and when riots took place after demolition," he said.

Nadwi pointed out that AIMPLB is not a party to the dispute, but UP Sunni Central Waqf Board is and the latter stands with him on the issue. He also warned the UP Shia Waqf board to stay out of the matter as "they have no say in it".

"The chairperson of the UP Waqf Board, ZufarFarooquiji, is with me. Sri SriRavishankar, who I met with earlier in the week, is also supporting me. The entire Muslim community is with me on this," he declared.

The Islamic scholar said he will continue to hold meetings with people from both sides of the spectrum, adding that the next meeting will be held in Ayodhya.

Earlier in the day, Nadwi was sacked from AIMPLB for "going against the the board's unanimous stand" on the Babri Masjid issue. In a statement, the board said Babri Masjid is an essential part of faith in Islam and Muslims can never "abdicate" the mosque.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/i-was-forced-to-quit-will-continue-working-for-hindu-muslim-unity-salman-nadwi/articleshow/62874444.cms

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Babri Masjid will remain mosque till eternity: AIMPLB

PTI|Feb 11, 2018

Babri Masjid will remain a mosque till eternity and Muslims can never exchange land for the masjid, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) said here today.

In a statement issued on the concluding day of its 26th plenary, the board said Babri masjid is an essential part of faith in Islam and Muslims can never "abdicate" the Masjid.

"Babri Masjid is an essential part of faith in Islam and Muslims can never abdicate the Masjid nor can they exchange land for Masjid or gift the Masjid land. Babri Masjid is a Masjid and it shall remain a Masjid till eternity. By demolishing Babri Masjid, it never loses its identity as a masjid. And according to Shariah, it always remains a Masjid," the statement said.

AIMPLB chief MaulanaRabeyHasaniNadvi presided over the three-day meet which was attended by 400 members and special invitees from different spheres of life including ulemas (clergy), intellectuals, social and political personalities.

The meet discussed and decided to protect the Islamic Shariah.

The board stressed the struggle for the reconstruction of the Babri Masjid would continue.

"Without any doubt, we make it clear that the struggle for the reconstruction of Babri Masjid continues and the appeal in the Supreme Court is being fought rigorously with all the resources available at the disposal of the board," the statement said.

The AIMPLB further said the country's topmost lawyers are appearing in the apex court in the case on behalf of Muslims.

On the triple talaq issue, the board said a bill moved by the Centre to criminalise the practice is "anti-women" and is against the Shariah and the Constitution.

"The Talaq-e-Biddat bill moved by the central government is anti-women. It will create more difficulties for women. It is against Shariah and it is against the Constitution. The efforts made by the Board will continue to stop this bill in the Rajya Sabha," the statement said.

The AIMPLB will start a country-wide awareness campaign against the bill and will also coordinate with Opposition parties that are against the bill, it said.

The AIMPLB also decided that state-wide committees and district-level committees will be formed under the aegis of the central body for the purpose.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, which criminalises instant talaq and provides for up to three years of imprisonment for Muslim men if they indulge in it, has already been passed in the Lok Sabha, but it is yet to get a nod in the Rajya Sabha, where the BJP-led NDA lacks majority.

In the politically sensitive Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid case, the Supreme Court is currently hearing final arguments.

In its ruling on September 30, 2010, the Allahabad High Court ordered a three-way division of the disputed 2.77 acres of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi site, giving a third each to the NirmohiAkhara, the Sunni Central Wakf Board of Uttar Pradesh, and RamlallaVirajman, the idol of the child Ram placed there.

economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/babri-masjid-will-remain-mosque-till-eternity-aimplb/articleshow/62874470.cms

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UK minister backs right to ban hijab in schools

PTI | Feb 10, 2018

LONDON: An Indian-origin school principal, who was forced to withdraw a ban on wearing of hijab by young girls after vitriolic abuse on social media, on Saturday received crucial support of a UK minister who said bullying or intimidation of school staff was completely unacceptable.

Lord Theodore Agnew, minister for schools systems, faith and counter-extremism in education, also said that schools in the country were completely within their right to make decisions on how to run their institutions in the best interests of their pupils.

NeenaLall, an Indian-origin principal of the St Stephen's Primary School in east London, met with strong opposition, faced abuse on social media and even likened to German dictator Adolf Hitler for her decision to impose a ban on wearing of hijab by girls under eight last month.

Later, she withdrew the decision.

A governor at the school, ArifQawi, resigned amid the stiff opposition and had urged the UK government to spell out school uniform policies more clearly.

The minister also threw his support behind schools in the country that want to impose a ban on wearing of hijab or religious fasting by very young pupils.

"They are completely within their right to make decisions on how to run their schools in the best interests of their pupils - in line with the law and in discussion with parents, of course - and we back their right to do so," Agnew wrote in 'The Times' in reference to Lall.

"St Stephen's Primary School in east London has been at the centre of media attention after its ban on young pupils wearing the hijab and fasting during Ramadan. I have seen the vitriolic abuse on social media after this decision and read of the intimidation of staff, resulting in the resignation of the chairman of governors... I wanted to send out a clear message: bullying or intimidation of school staff is completely unacceptable," he wrote.

The minister responsible for counter-extremism in the Department for Education said the government would not allow a "culture of fear and intimidation to pass through the school gates" and that any opposition to decisions by a school's governing body should manifest itself in the form of sensible, informed discussion and not hateful online reaction.

Earlier this month, the UK's independent schools watchdog - the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) - had also came out in support of the school's right to set its own uniform policy.

"School leaders must have the right to set school uniform policies in a way that they see fit, in order to promote cohesion," Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted, had said.

Under the UK's Department for Education guidelines, uniform policy is a matter for individual head-teachers and their governing bodies. But Agnew offered the government's support to individual schools that may find themselves in a bind.

"We want to do all we can to help schools on sensitive issues, such as those thrown up by this case, and we will be working closely with school leaders and sector organisations on how we can support them," the minister said.

He also warned schools in the country against "promoting religious ideologies that undermine British values" and said the government was prepared to take action against any form of discrimination in the classroom.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/uk-minister-backs-right-to-ban-hijab-in-schools/articleshow/62864451.cms

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One in four Iraqi children in poverty after war on Islamic State

Reuters | Feb 11, 2018

BAGHDAD: One in four Iraqi children are in poverty and four million are in need of assistance as a result of the country's war with Islamic State militants, the United Nation's children agency said on Sunday.

The UN has verified 150 attacks on education facilities and 50 attacks on health centres and personnel since 2014, UNICEF said in a statement. Half of Iraq's schools need repairs and over 3 million children have had their education interrupted, it said.

Iraq declared victory over Islamic State in December, having taken back all the territory captured by the militants in 2014 and 2015, and is seeking $100 billion in foreign investment in transport, energy and agriculture as part of a plan to rebuild parts of the country and revive the economy.

Kuwait will host an international conference on Iraq's reconstruction on February 12-14.

"Children are Iraq's future," said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"The Kuwait Conference for Iraq this week is an opportunity for world leaders to show that we are willing to invest in children - and through investing in children, that we are willing to invest in rebuilding a stable Iraq."

The United States, which leads an international coalition that provided Iraq with key air support in the fight against Islamic State, does not plan to contribute any money at the Kuwait conference, US and Western officials said.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/one-in-four-iraqi-children-in-poverty-after-war-on-islamic-state/articleshow/62871476.cms

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India

I was forced to quit, will continue working for Hindu-Muslim unity: Salman Nadwi

TIMESOFINDIA.COM | Feb 11, 2018

Nadwi said an amicable settlement of the Ayodhya dispute was imperative for Hindu-Muslim peace and unity

He alleged that "hardliners" had hijacked the board, which forced him to distance himself from their "official" stance on Babri

He asserted thathe will continue to hold meetings with people from both sides of the spectrum

Former AIMPLB member Salman NadwiFormer AIMPLB member Salman Nadwi

NEW DELHI: Hours after being expelled from the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), former executive member Maulana Salman Nadwi said an amicable settlement of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute was imperative for Hindu-Muslim peace and unity.

After returning to Lucknow from the AIMPLB's 26th plenary session in Hyderabad, Nadwi alleged that "hardliners" had hijacked the board, which forced him to distance himself from their "official" stance on the Ayodhya dispute.

"Hardliners in AIMPLB are overpowering the board and it's stand on the Ayodhya dispute, so I stepped away and was made to step away. In 25 years, court could not do anything so it is better to have an out of court settlement for peace and unity," Nadwi told TOI.

He opined that any ruling by the Supreme Court, which is currently hearing final arguments in the politically sensitive case, would be partisan and further divide the two communities.

"Board is saying it will wait for whatever the court decides, I'm saying why wait when you can sit together and decide for peace and stop any riot like situation in the future. Why have such disputes of land that separates people. What the court decides will hurt either one of the community," he said.

Nadwi caused a stir on Saturday by suggesting the Babri Masjid be shifted away from the disputed site in Ayodhya. The remark courted immediate backlash from the AIMPLB, which asserted that land dedicated for a mosque cannot be sold, gifted or in any way alienated.

Standing by his view, Nadwi cited scriptures and said since the last time Muslims offered prayers at Babri Masjid was back in 1949, he was all for shifting the place of worship and save the country from further clashes instead of waiting for a seemingly interminable court judgement.

"I have been a teacher of theology for the last 40 years and I am talking of clauses present in the Sharia for such a disputable situation. There is no mosque there now, it was destroyed in 1992 and now we want to make a new mosque. Nobody removed the idols in 1949 or did anything when the locks were reopened and when riots took place after demolition," he said.

Nadwi pointed out that AIMPLB is not a party to the dispute, but UP Sunni Central Waqf Board is and the latter stands with him on the issue. He also warned the UP Shia Waqf board to stay out of the matter as "they have no say in it".

"The chairperson of the UP Waqf Board, ZufarFarooquiji, is with me. Sri SriRavishankar, who I met with earlier in the week, is also supporting me. The entire Muslim community is with me on this," he declared.

The Islamic scholar said he will continue to hold meetings with people from both sides of the spectrum, adding that the next meeting will be held in Ayodhya.

Earlier in the day, Nadwi was sacked from AIMPLB for "going against the the board's unanimous stand" on the Babri Masjid issue. In a statement, the board said Babri Masjid is an essential part of faith in Islam and Muslims can never "abdicate" the mosque.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/i-was-forced-to-quit-will-continue-working-for-hindu-muslim-unity-salman-nadwi/articleshow/62874444.cms

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Babri Masjid will remain mosque till eternity: AIMPLB

PTI|Feb 11, 2018

Babri Masjid will remain a mosque till eternity and Muslims can never exchange land for the masjid, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) said here today.

In a statement issued on the concluding day of its 26th plenary, the board said Babri masjid is an essential part of faith in Islam and Muslims can never "abdicate" the Masjid.

"Babri Masjid is an essential part of faith in Islam and Muslims can never abdicate the Masjid nor can they exchange land for Masjid or gift the Masjid land. Babri Masjid is a Masjid and it shall remain a Masjid till eternity. By demolishing Babri Masjid, it never loses its identity as a masjid. And according to Shariah, it always remains a Masjid," the statement said.

AIMPLB chief MaulanaRabeyHasaniNadvi presided over the three-day meet which was attended by 400 members and special invitees from different spheres of life including ulemas (clergy), intellectuals, social and political personalities.

The meet discussed and decided to protect the Islamic Shariah.

The board stressed the struggle for the reconstruction of the Babri Masjid would continue.

"Without any doubt, we make it clear that the struggle for the reconstruction of Babri Masjid continues and the appeal in the Supreme Court is being fought rigorously with all the resources available at the disposal of the board," the statement said.

The AIMPLB further said the country's topmost lawyers are appearing in the apex court in the case on behalf of Muslims.

On the triple talaq issue, the board said a bill moved by the Centre to criminalise the practice is "anti-women" and is against the Shariah and the Constitution.

"The Talaq-e-Biddat bill moved by the central government is anti-women. It will create more difficulties for women. It is against Shariah and it is against the Constitution. The efforts made by the Board will continue to stop this bill in the Rajya Sabha," the statement said.

The AIMPLB will start a country-wide awareness campaign against the bill and will also coordinate with Opposition parties that are against the bill, it said.

The AIMPLB also decided that state-wide committees and district-level committees will be formed under the aegis of the central body for the purpose.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, which criminalises instant talaq and provides for up to three years of imprisonment for Muslim men if they indulge in it, has already been passed in the Lok Sabha, but it is yet to get a nod in the Rajya Sabha, where the BJP-led NDA lacks majority.

In the politically sensitive Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid case, the Supreme Court is currently hearing final arguments.

In its ruling on September 30, 2010, the Allahabad High Court ordered a three-way division of the disputed 2.77 acres of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi site, giving a third each to the NirmohiAkhara, the Sunni Central Wakf Board of Uttar Pradesh, and RamlallaVirajman, the idol of the child Ram placed there.

economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/babri-masjid-will-remain-mosque-till-eternity-aimplb/articleshow/62874470.cms

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Shia Waqf Board Calls AIMPLB A Terrorist Organistaion In Cahoots With Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, Backs Cleric Salman Nadvi

JV ShivendraShrivastava

February 11, 2018

The Shia Waqf Board on Sunday called the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) a terrorist organisation in cahoots with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

It also backed senior cleric Salman Hussain Nadvi, who quit the AIMPLB a day after meeting with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to discuss the Babri Masjid-Ram Mandir issue.

The Muslim personal law board, whose plenary session in Hyderabad concluded today, accepted Nadvi's decision to leave.

The Shia Waqf Board asked why Nadvi was sacked, when ZakirNaik, a controversial Islamic preacher, could be a member of the AIMPLB.

Nadvi has said he will continue trying to resolve the Ayodhya conflict with Sri Sri, and visit Ayodhya in March.

The AIMPLB said in a statement today that the Babri Masjid "is a Masjid and it shall remain a Masjid till eternity."

The mosque is an essential part of faith in Islam, and Muslims can never abdicate it, the board said.

indiatoday.in/india/story/shia-waqf-board-calls-aimplb-a-terrorist-organistaion-in-cahoots-with-pakistan-and-saudi-arabia-backs-cleric-salman-nadvi-1167342-2018-02-11

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Sunjuwan terror attack: 5 soldiers martyred; 3 JeM terrorists killed

PTI | Updated: Feb 11, 2018

A group of heavily armed men struck the sprawling camp of the 36 brigade of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry before dawn on Saturday

A defence spokesperson in a statement said three terrorists had so far been killed in the ongoing operation

Six people, including five Army personnel, have been killed in the attack by suspected JeM terrorists

Security forces outside the Sunjuwan Army camp. (PTI photo)Sunjuwan terror attack: 5 soldiers martyred; 3 JeM terrorists killed

SUNJUWAN (Jammu): Security forces have neutralised three terrorists holed up in the Sunjuwan Army camp here, while six people, including five Army personnel, have been killed in the attack by suspected JeM terrorists, Army officials said on Sunday.

A defence spokesperson in a statement said three terrorists had so far been killed in the ongoing operation.

A group of heavily armed men struck the sprawling camp of the 36 brigade of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry before dawn on Saturday. Five Army men, including two Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs), were killed in the attack.

The spokesperson said the third terrorist was also found wearing Army combats and was heavily armed like the other two.

AK-56 rifles, Under Barrel Grenade Launcher, ammunitions and grenades were seized from them, he said.

A senior police official had earlier said that four terrorists were killed by security forces.

A JCO and a jawan were killed on Saturday.

The spokesperson said during sanitation of residential quarters by the Army commandos, bodies of another JCO, two jawans and an elderly man, the father of a soldier, were recovered.

All six of them had been killed by the terrorists in the initial stage of the attack on Saturday.

Ten people, including six women and children, were injured in the attack, the spokesperson said.

One of the injured woman was pregnant. She later delivered a baby girl through a caesarean operation and both the mother and child were stable, the spokesperson said.

A 14-year-old boy had suffered a gunshot wound to the head and was in a critical condition.

The sanitation and search operations were underway.

"The operation is on and the evacuation (of people from the family quarters) is in progress," Jammu-based Army PRO Lt Col DevenderAnand told PTI.

He said a number of families were still in the camp and the Army's aim was to ensure their safety.

"There has been no firing since last night," the officer said.

The latest attack on the camp took place nearly 15 months after the Jammu region was hit by a similar attack.

On November 29, 2016, terrorists had stormed the Army's Nagrota camp on the outskirts of the city, killing seven Army personnel, including two officers. Three terrorists were gunned down in the operation.

The terrorists had struck before dawn yesterday and managed to sneak into the camp from the rear end of the base after a brief exchange of fire with the sentry guarding the periphery.

"The terrorists entered the family accommodation complex after which quick response teams cordoned off the area and isolated the terrorists, who were holed up in a few houses (inside the camp)," an official said.

While there was no action around the main entrance and vehicles were moving along the Jammu-Lakhanpur bypass in front of the camp, Army personnel in bullet-proof vehicles were engaged in the operation to rescue people from the family quarters in the rear side of the base.

Contingents of CRPF and police were posted outside the boundary wall and were keeping curious onlookers at bay to prevent civilian casualties.

A high alert has been sounded in Jammu and security beefed up in and around the city.

Intelligence inputs had warned of an attack on an Army or security establishment by Jaish-e-Mohammed in view of the death anniversary of Afzal Guru, who was hanged on February 9, 2013, for the 2001 attack on Parliament House.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/sunjuwan-terror-attack-5-soldiers-martyred-3-jem-terrorists-killed/articleshow/62872984.cms

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PM Modi meets Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi; India, UAE sign 5 pacts

PTI | Updated: Feb 11, 2018

PM Modi held wide-ranging talks with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan

After their talks, the two sides signed five agreements related to energy sector, railways, manpower and financial services

Narendra Modi with the Crown Prince of Abu DhabiPM Modi meets Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi; India, UAE sign 5 pacts

ABU DHABI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Saturday as the two sides signed five agreements including a historic pact awarding a consortium of Indian oil companies a 10 per cent stake in offshore oil concession.

Modi, who arrived here from Jordan on the second leg of his three-nation tour, was received by Mohammed Bin Zayed and other members of the Royal family at the airport. The two leaders hugged each other and exchanged pleasantries.

"We warmly welcome our state guest and valued friend, the Indian Prime Minister H.E.@narendramodi to the UAE. His visit reflects our longstanding historical ties and is testament to our friendly bilateral relationship," Mohammed Bin Zayed, also the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, tweeted.

Prime Minister Modi, who is here on his second visit to the UAE, held wide-ranging talks with and Mohammed Bin Zayed. Modi had first visited the UAE as Prime Minister in August, 2015.

After their talks, the two sides signed five agreements related to energy sector, railways, manpower and financial services.

An MoU between Indian Consortium (OVL, BPRL & IOCL) and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) was signed for the acquisition of a 10 per cent participating interest in the Abu Dhabi's offshore Lower Zakum Concession, a statement issued by the Indian embassy here said.

The concession will be for 40 years from 2018 to 2057. Sixty per cent of the participating interest will be retained by ADNOC and remaining 30 per cent will be awarded to other International oil companies, the statement said.

"This is the first Indian investment in upstream oil sector of UAE, transforming the traditional buyer-seller relationship to a long-term investor relationship," it added.

To cooperate in the field of manpower, India and the UAE signed an MoU that aims to institutionalise the collaborative administration of contractual employment of Indian workers in the Gulf country.

Under the MoU, both the sides will work to integrate their labour related e-platforms for ending the existing malpractices, combat trafficking and organise collaborative programs for education and awareness of contractual workers.

An MoU for technical cooperation in railways was also signed between the two sides. The MoU aims at cooperation in infrastructure sector especially railways.

"The MoU will facilitate development of joint projects, knowledge sharing, joint research and technology transfer. The MoU envisages formation of a Joint Working Group for institutionalising the cooperation mechanism," the statement said.

To deepen bilateral cooperation in the field of finance, an MoU between Bombay Stock Exchange and Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange was also signed. It aims at enhancing cooperation between both the countries in financial services industry.

The MoU would facilitate investment in financial markets by investors from both the countries.

An MoU between government of Jammu and Kashmir and DP World was also signed to establish multi-modal logistics park and hub in Jammu comprising warehouses and specialised storage solutions.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pm-modi-meets-crown-prince-of-abu-dhabi-india-uae-sign-5-pacts/articleshow/62867022.cms

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Weeks after Netanyahu visit, PM Narendra Modi says India for free Palestine

TNN | Updated: Feb 11, 2018

We hope for peace and stability in Palestine, we believe a permanent solution is possible with dialogue, said PM Modi

President Abbas said Palestine is ready to engage in negotiations to achieve freedom and independence

India-Palestine signed six agreements worth around $50 million

Prime Minister Modi with the Palestinian PresidentWeeks after Netanyahu visit, PM Narendra Modi says India for free Palestine

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday became the first Indian Prime Minister to set foot in Ramallah where he expressed support for a sovereign Palestine at peace with its neighbourhood while his host President Mahmoud Abbas said India has a role in ensuring a two-state solution.

"We rely on India's role as an international force of great standing through its historical role in the Non-aligned Movement and its increasing, growing power in strategic and economic levels, in a way that is conducive to a just and desired peace," said Abbas in a joint press statement.

"We hope for peace and stability in Palestine, we believe a permanent solution is possible with dialogue. Only diplomacy and far-sightedness can set free from violence and baggage of the past. We know it is not easy but we need to keep trying as a lot is at stake," Modi said.

Modi's path-breaking visit was marked by a helicopter provided by the Jordanian government flying him to Ramallah with two Israeli choppers as escorts, perhaps also a first, with the ministry of external affairs posting a brief video of the flight on social media.

The PM arrived to a red carpet welcome embellished by the Palestine National Authority conferring on him the "Grand Collar Honour", the highest recognition offered by the PA. "This is a good opportunity to express respect for your standing and a recognition of your wise leadership," said Abbas. Modi said it was an honour for India. Modi visited the mausoleum of Yasser Arafat and laid a wreath at the grave of the Palestinian leader.

The visit was a delicate balance act for Modi after his strong embracement of Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu and his visit, again a first by an Indian PM, to the country last year. This was followed by Netanyahu being feted in Delhi and a major effort to increase defence and trade ties between the two nations.

As part of the Modi government's declared objective of "de-hyphenation" of ties with PA and Israel, the PM made it a point to travel to Ramallah from Jordan and the focus of the diplomatic exchange was Indian assistance in medical care, IT training and governance.

Modi was received at an official ceremony at the presidential compound, also known as Muqata'a, in Ramallah -- the Palestinian seat of government. They discussed the full range of India-Palestine ties following which the two sides signed six agreements worth around $50 million that includes setting up of a $30 million super speciality hospital in Beit Sahur. Three agreements in the education sector worth U5 million, one MoU for procurement of equipment and machinery for the National Printing Press and one for construction of a centre for empowering women were signed.

Abbas said Palestine is ready to engage in negotiations to achieve freedom and independence in accordance with the two-state solution along the lines of 1967 and internationally recognised resolutions so that both Palestine and Israel can co-exist in peace and security, provided East Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Palestine. Modi walked the diplomatic tightrope in that region — he did not talk of the two-state solution nor was there a joint statement. India has decided to de-hyphenate its policies to Israel and Palestine.

Abbas said the formation of a multi-lateral mechanism that is produced by an international peace convention is the most ideal way to broker negotiations with Israel, which is India's strategic partner and among its top arms suppliers.

The Palestinians see East Jerusalem as their future capital. India recently voted for a resolution that criticised US's decision to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Modi assured President Abbas that India is committed to the Palestinian people's interests.

"Friendship between India and Palestine has stood the test of time. The people of Palestine have shown remarkable courage in the face of several challenges. India will always support Palestine's development journey," Modi said, adding that India is hopeful of peace and stability in the region.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/weeks-after-netanyahu-visit-pm-narendra-modi-says-india-for-free-palestine/articleshow/62867649.cms

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Maldives crisis: India should not remain mute spectator, says Yashwant Sinha

PTI | Feb 11, 2018

NEW DELHI: Underlining that the political crisis in Maldives poses a threat to India's security, senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on Sunday urged the government to act immediately and said it should not remain a "mute spectator" with China strengthening its presence in the island nation.

Speaking to reporters at his residence in Uttar Pradesh's Noida, Yashwant Sinha said the Indian government has diplomatic options, non-diplomatic options and it must exercise those in order to ensure India's security is not threatened amid the crisis in Maldives.

Sinha, expressing his views on behalf of the RashtraManch -- a new political platform he launched last month, said that the impression till now has been that "things have been allowed to drift".

He urged the government to act as it was the "best judge" of the situation and that every hour now was "precious".

"What's happening in Maldives is a threat to India's national security. Highest numbers of people (on per capita basis) from Maldives have joined the ISIS. These people will return to our nearest neighbour (Maldives) when ISIS is wiped out, posing threat to us," the former external affairs minister argued.

To a question whether India should consider sending troops to the island country, Sinha said that is one of the options. But, he added, that the government should select its option carefully.

The main concern is that time is not lost while India acts, Sinha said.

"We need not ask any nation before we act. Like in Bangladesh's case we have seen, if we act, world respects you. But if you don't, they will take you as weak and you keep taking advice," he said.

Yashwant Sinha said that there were reports that China has already "taken over" 17-18 islands which were part of Maldives and asserted that it was a "matter of most serious concern".

"That Chinese should come and right under our nose, in our backyard, play these games, India should not remain a mute spectator," he said.

Sinha also said that both the present NDA and the previous UPA governments did not act "decisively" when it came to Maldives, which he claimed had become "hostile" to India.

He cited the example of how an Indian company operating at Male airport was "thrown out".

"We didn't intervene then too (during UPA regime). So the Maldives government is since feeling that India is finding itself as weak and not acting tough. Hence, it (Maldives) feels it can do what it wants," Sinha said.

The island nation, which has seen several political crises since the ouster of its first democratically-elected president Mohamed Nasheed in 2012, plunged into chaos recently when the Supreme Court there ordered the release of nine imprisoned opposition politicians, maintaining that their trials were "politically motivated and flawed".

India had earlier described as a matter of "concern" the arrests of the chief justice and political figures there.

However, earlier this week, the Supreme Court had revoked its order on the release of the opposition politicians.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/maldives-crisis-india-should-not-remain-mute-spectator-says-yashwant-sinha/articleshow/62873611.cms

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How 'India First' turned into 'China First' for Maldives

IndraniBagchi | TNN | Updated: Feb 10, 2018

President Yameen did not bring China into the Maldives. It was former president Mohamed Nasheed who allowed the Chinese to open their embassy in Male

From India’s point of view, the biggest “red line” was breached after Yameen signed a free-trade agreement with China in December 2017

Maldives president Abdulla Yameen with China's Xi Jinping in Beijing. (Reuters)Maldives president Abdulla Yameen with China's Xi Jinping in Beijing. (Reuters)

NEW DELHI: It was only a few weeks ago that Maldives foreign minister Mohamed Asim arrived in India as a special envoy for President Abdulla Yameen, swearing by his ostensible "India First" policy. Little known was the fact that India-Maldives relations would soon plunge to an all-time low with the Yameen government refusing to address any of India's concerns.

By then, nobody in the Indian system set much store by these words, because it had become clear for some time that for President Yameen, "India First" has been replaced by "China First". How did that happen?

Miffed by power grab, India snubs Maldives special envoy

It must be remembered that President Yameen did not bring China into the Maldives. That credit goes to former president Mohamed Nasheed, who, in 2011, allowed the Chinese to open their embassy in Male, and opened the doors to Chinese economic presence in the Maldives, despite Indian reservations.

However, Yameen took the China relationship to new levels, even as his profound distrust of India deepened. From India's point of view, the biggest "red line" was breached after Yameen signed a free-trade agreement+ (FTA) with China in December 2017, rushing it through the Majlis late at night, when members were given less than 15 minutes to read and approve the deal.

India must step in to check Chinese land grab, rising radicalisation: Nasheed

India had signed a preferential trade pact with Maldives way back in 1981, according to which, India supplies all essential commodities, aggregates and river-sand to Maldives, while the Maldives could sell anything it manufactured to India, without restrictions. Since the Maldives had tuna to export, that worked out just fine.

But New Delhi feels that the FTA with China is aimed at India, particularly after Yameen announced he would seek a similar pact with the Modi government. The FTA opened the floodgates to cheap Chinese goods into the Maldives. The 1981 pact allowed Maldives unfettered access to India but had no space for third country re-exports. Indian trade officials realised that the FTA was China's way of accessing the Indian market through its neighbours. (In Sri Lanka too, the new SEZ in Hambantota is actually aimed at the Indian market.)

Not only did India squash any thought of a new FTA, the Maldives envoy was called in to reaffirm India's concerns. This happened after a series of missteps in 2017, especially Maldives sudden announcement that it would allow Chinese warships to visit the archipelago. India sent an urgent message to Male saying this would seriously impact Indian security. Yameen replied the warships were on a goodwill visit and he would not refuse them.

India, which had studiously snubbed Yameen's political opponents, in retaliation, allowed Nasheed to make his first visit to the country in August, coinciding with the visit of the Chinese warships. This may have been Yameen's trigger to go hell for leather to China. India's actions came after the first visits by MoS MJ Akbar and former foreign secretary S Jaishankar.

India also began facing other stumbling blocks in Maldives that were connected to China. For instance, Male began a 'go-slow' on the Indian radar installation project. Second, Yameen's government began to push Indian entities and presence away from its southern atolls — this is where China has the bulk of its investments — the friendship bridge between Male and Hulhule, real estate projects in Hulhumale and a potential Chinese military base in Laamu Atoll. This is because China wants unfettered access to the 1.5-degree channel, which is very important for its Indian Ocean coverage.

India had already given a project plan for iHavan, on the condition that China should not be part of it. India has offered to open it to other 'friendly' countries like Japan. But, here too, Yameen played a strange game. On the one hand, he asked India to give him the money, on the other, he was found to be courting China. Again, the iHavan project is on an atoll very close to India and controls the 8-degree channel which China has its eye on.

In 2016, India welcomed Yameen with a defence cooperation pact and a host of other agreements, hoping to wean him away from China. An India-Maldives Action Plan for defence would build an institutional mechanism of defence secretaries and include port development, training and capacity building, equipment and maritime surveillance. Yet, a year later, the Maldives-China FTA opened the door to much of this from China.

On Thursday, the Maldives special envoy to China, Mohamed Saeed, even asked China to provide "security" to protect Chinese investments in the Maldives. China refused, which is just as well, because that, more than anything else would have triggered Indian action. But it signals growing desperation by Yameen.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/how-did-india-first-turn-into-china-first-in-the-maldives/articleshow/62864889.cms

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Jammu: Pak Army shells LoC areas in Rajouri

PTI | Feb 11, 2018

JAMMU: Pakistani troops on Sunday launched heavy mortar shells at civilian areas along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir's Rajouri district, officials said.

Deputy Commissioner (Rajouri) Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said the Pakistan Army was launching heavy mortar shells in Naika, Panjgrain, Khorinar, Rajdhani forward areas besides the villages in Rajouri since this morning.

The shells fell deep inside the Indian territory, triggering panic and fear among the residents.

Last night, Parveen Akhter was killed in firing by Pakistani troops along the Line of Control. They had fired in Khadi Karmara and Chakan Da Bagh forward areas in Poonch district.

On February 8, a 45-year-old woman was killed in shelling by the Pakistani troops along the LoC in the KG sector of Poonch.

Ten security personnel and nine civilians were killed and over 75 injured in Pakistani shelling along the LoC and the International Border in Jammu region this year.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/jammu-pak-army-shells-loc-areas-in-rajouri/articleshow/62871675.cms

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Pak creating disturbances in Kashmir to prevent panchayat polls: Sources

Mohua Chatterjee | TNN | Feb 10, 2018

NEW DELHI: The Centre sees a direct link between the recent spurt in infiltration bids by Pakistan across the border along Kashmir, with the government's efforts to hold panchayat elections in the state, top government sources told TOI.

According to sources, one of the main reasons behind a spurt in infiltration bids and ceasefire violations along the India-Pakistan border along Kashmir is to defeat the democratic process in Kashmir and prevent panchayat elections from taking place, as that gives India a leg up on Pakistan as far as its image in the international community is concerned.

While the Mehbooba Mufti government in Srinagar has maintained that "growing dissatisfaction of people at the local level" is more her concern at present rather than militancy, the Centre's take is also that Pakistan is trying to infiltrate and create disturbances at the local level to destabilize the situation on the ground in the Valley.

Even at the peak of militancy, polling has taken place in the Valley including the last panchayat elections, but holding this round of elections is turning out to be difficult for the PDP-BJP government in the state.

Government sources said with increased infiltration bids by Pakistan, security forces are on a greater offensive than before. As a result, very few cross-border infiltrators manage to enter into Kashmir as many of them are being gunned down by the forces, a fact which Pakistan refuses to acknowledge.

While deployment at the border has not been increased recently, government sources said, forces at the border have been given "more freedom to act on the ground" like never before and hence the increased offensive, which has also resulted in greater casualties among civilians living along the border, BSF personnel and Army personnel.

In a written reply to a question by BJP MLA Rajesh Gupta in the state assembly, Mehbooba Mufti said on February 1 that 94 militants were killed and three arrested during infiltration bids by militants along the Indo-Pak border in the state during the last two years.

There were as many as 860 ceasefire violations (CFVs) along the LoC and another 120 along the IB in 2017, the highest-ever such tally in over 15 years. The number of ceasefire violations has already touched 241 across the LoC in the first 36 days of this year, claiming the lives of nine Indian soldiers, 3 BSF jawans and 8 civilians.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pak-creating-disturbances-in-kashmir-to-prevent-panchayat-polls-sources/articleshow/62866683.cms

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J&K Army camp attack: Cong asks PM to 'personally supervise' operation

PTI | Feb 10, 2018

NEW DELHI: The Congress today appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "personally supervise" the operation against the terrorists who attacked an Army camp in Jammu.

Congress communications in-charge RandeepSurjewala said it was a matter of deep concern that 14 major terror attacks have taken place on the Army in Jammu and Kashmir since 2014, after the NDA government came to power.

He said there have been 206 terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir alone and 382 Army personnel were killed in the last four years.

Fourteen soldiers have been killed in the last 31 days, he said.

"We appeal to the prime minister, whichever part of the world he is, to personally supervise the operation and ensure that these terrorists are gunned down and give the armed forces every possible help in this regard," he told reporters.

Modi is currently on a three-nation visit to Palestine, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

Heavily armed Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists today struck at an Army camp in Sunjwan, Jammu, killing two personnel and injuring nine others, including a Major.

Surjewala also recalled how Modi, as the then chief minister of Gujarat, had hit out at the UPA government even as anti-terror operations were underway during the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

"Like Modi ji, we will not make any political comment. We are with the government and the Army," he said.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/jk-army-camp-attack-cong-asks-pm-to-personally-supervise-operation/articleshow/62866808.cms

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Europe

UK minister backs right to ban hijab in schools

PTI | Feb 10, 2018

LONDON: An Indian-origin school principal, who was forced to withdraw a ban on wearing of hijab by young girls after vitriolic abuse on social media, on Saturday received crucial support of a UK minister who said bullying or intimidation of school staff was completely unacceptable.

Lord Theodore Agnew, minister for schools systems, faith and counter-extremism in education, also said that schools in the country were completely within their right to make decisions on how to run their institutions in the best interests of their pupils.

NeenaLall, an Indian-origin principal of the St Stephen's Primary School in east London, met with strong opposition, faced abuse on social media and even likened to German dictator Adolf Hitler for her decision to impose a ban on wearing of hijab by girls under eight last month.

Later, she withdrew the decision.

A governor at the school, ArifQawi, resigned amid the stiff opposition and had urged the UK government to spell out school uniform policies more clearly.

The minister also threw his support behind schools in the country that want to impose a ban on wearing of hijab or religious fasting by very young pupils.

"They are completely within their right to make decisions on how to run their schools in the best interests of their pupils - in line with the law and in discussion with parents, of course - and we back their right to do so," Agnew wrote in 'The Times' in reference to Lall.

"St Stephen's Primary School in east London has been at the centre of media attention after its ban on young pupils wearing the hijab and fasting during Ramadan. I have seen the vitriolic abuse on social media after this decision and read of the intimidation of staff, resulting in the resignation of the chairman of governors... I wanted to send out a clear message: bullying or intimidation of school staff is completely unacceptable," he wrote.

The minister responsible for counter-extremism in the Department for Education said the government would not allow a "culture of fear and intimidation to pass through the school gates" and that any opposition to decisions by a school's governing body should manifest itself in the form of sensible, informed discussion and not hateful online reaction.

Earlier this month, the UK's independent schools watchdog - the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) - had also came out in support of the school's right to set its own uniform policy.

"School leaders must have the right to set school uniform policies in a way that they see fit, in order to promote cohesion," Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted, had said.

Under the UK's Department for Education guidelines, uniform policy is a matter for individual head-teachers and their governing bodies. But Agnew offered the government's support to individual schools that may find themselves in a bind.

"We want to do all we can to help schools on sensitive issues, such as those thrown up by this case, and we will be working closely with school leaders and sector organisations on how we can support them," the minister said.

He also warned schools in the country against "promoting religious ideologies that undermine British values" and said the government was prepared to take action against any form of discrimination in the classroom.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/uk-minister-backs-right-to-ban-hijab-in-schools/articleshow/62864451.cms

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UK official says 2 British IS suspects shouldn't return home

AP | Feb 10, 2018

LONDON: Britain's defense secretary says two captured Islamic State group extremists who grew up in England should never be allowed to return to the country.

Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson told the Sun newspaper on Saturday: "I don't think they should ever set foot in this country again."

Williamson's remark comes amid reports that Britain already has stripped El ShafeeElsheikh and Alexanda Amon Kotey of their citizenship.

Britain's Home Office refused to confirm the reports, saying it doesn't comment on individual cases.

The two men grew up in London and traveled to the Mideast to join the Islamic State group. US officials have confirmed they were captured in early January in Syria.

Their citizenship matters because Britain in the past demanded that citizens detained by other countries as alleged extremists be returned to face justice.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/uk-official-says-2-british-is-suspects-shouldnt-return-home/articleshow/62864051.cms

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Polish official accuses Jews of 'passivity' in Holocaust

Feb 10, 2018, 14:38 IST

WARSAW: An adviser to Poland's president has said that Israel's reaction to a law criminalizing some statements about Poland's actions during World War stems from a ``feeling of shame at the passivity of the Jews during the Holocaust.''

Andrzej Zybertowicz made the remark in an interview published Friday in the Polska-The Times newspaper. Zybertowicztweeted a link to the article on Friday.

Polish President Andrzej Duda signed legislation Tuesday that imposes prison terms of up to three years for falsely and intentionally attributing Nazi crimes to German-occupied Poland.

The law has sparked anger in Israel, where Holocaust survivors and others with roots in Poland fear it will allow the government to whitewash the role some Poles had in killing Jews during World War II.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/polish-official-accuses-jews-of-passivity-in-holocaust/articleshow/62861617.cms

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Scout Master Fired After Comparing Muslim Leader Wearing Niqab to Darth Vader

11.02.2018

A 63-year-old man emailed a Scouting magazine to express his outrage over a Muslim woman wearing a full-face veil in the article.

Brian Walker was forced to quit following his highly controversial remark about a female canoeist, featured in a Scouting magazine, which stated that she wore a niqab “when she took the girls out canoeing.”

"Canoeists don't dress like this; they need all-round unobstructed vision so they protect the group. They will most likely drown wearing that Darth Vader tent," noted the former assistant Explorer Scout leader.

Being expelled for breaching the Scouts’ values of integrity and respect, Walker tried to reassure people that his statement was not intended to insult anyone.

“I did not mean to offend anyone personally, but was making a wider point about the values of Scouting.”

A quick remark: besides comparing the woman to Darth Vader, he also noted that her “outward appearance was enough to frighten children and animals.”

The woman, named Zainab, who was featured in the magazine, said that she did not feel “repressed” after hearing Walker’s comment.

Thousands of People Protest Against Fascism in Italy (PHOTO)

"It’s not about being Muslim, it’s about being human. A couple of times we’ve been out on hikes in our hijabs and neckers, and people have come up to us and given us lots of positive comments. It’s not a barrier; it doesn’t stop me from doing anything. I’m bossy. Nobody can say I’m repressed.”

Walker is reportedly taking legal action for discrimination against him, which the Scout Association will allegedly contest.

“We are aware of the issues raised with us by Mr Walker. However due to legal reasons we are unable to comment specifically on this case. Inclusivity is at the heart of modern scouting and is a value we hold dear. We welcome young people and volunteers from all communities across the UK and we are proud of our inclusive approach to youth work," a spokesman for the Scout Association said.

sputniknews.com/viral/201802111061558884-scout-fired-muslim-niqab-darth-vader/

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Arab World

One in four Iraqi children in poverty after war on Islamic State

Reuters | Feb 11, 2018

BAGHDAD: One in four Iraqi children are in poverty and four million are in need of assistance as a result of the country's war with Islamic State militants, the United Nation's children agency said on Sunday.

The UN has verified 150 attacks on education facilities and 50 attacks on health centres and personnel since 2014, UNICEF said in a statement. Half of Iraq's schools need repairs and over 3 million children have had their education interrupted, it said.

Iraq declared victory over Islamic State in December, having taken back all the territory captured by the militants in 2014 and 2015, and is seeking $100 billion in foreign investment in transport, energy and agriculture as part of a plan to rebuild parts of the country and revive the economy.

Kuwait will host an international conference on Iraq's reconstruction on February 12-14.

"Children are Iraq's future," said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"The Kuwait Conference for Iraq this week is an opportunity for world leaders to show that we are willing to invest in children - and through investing in children, that we are willing to invest in rebuilding a stable Iraq."

The United States, which leads an international coalition that provided Iraq with key air support in the fight against Islamic State, does not plan to contribute any money at the Kuwait conference, US and Western officials said.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/one-in-four-iraqi-children-in-poverty-after-war-on-islamic-state/articleshow/62871476.cms

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Why is the Syrian War still raging?

TIMESOFINDIA.COM | Feb 11, 2018

Seven years on, the war in Syria shows no signs of ending anytime soon.

The complex war, which has drawn in foreign powers like Russia, the US, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel, is playing out on four fronts

The Islamic State group is being routed from its strongholds, and the rebels who seek to topple President Bashar al-Assad are down to a few remaining pockets of land. But seven years on, the war in Syria shows no signs of ending anytime soon. The complex war, which has drawn in foreign powers like Russia, the US, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel, is playing out on four fronts:

ASSAD VS REBELS

The conflict that started the war, an uprising against Assad that evolved into an armed rebellion, is headed toward a conclusion. Even if Assad's forces are depleted, nobody now appears willing & able to topple him.

TURKEY VS THE KURDS

Turkey feels threatened by the predominant fighting group to emerge from Syria's Kurdish minority, which carved out a de facto ministate along the Turkish border amid the chaos of the civil war. Recently, Turkey attacked the Kurdish enclave of Afrin, and they may now target the US-backed Kurds farther east

The jihadists have lost nearly all of the territory they had controlled as a self-proclaimed caliphate, rooted out by relentless, separate attacks by forces backed by the US & Russia. But as their territory shrinks, analysts believe they may resort to more violence

ENTER, ISRAEL

Till now, Israel had managed to keep itself out of the conflict. But the bigger Iran vs Saudi Arabia battle for supremacy in the region has threatened to drag them into the conflict, which appears to be happening now

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/why-is-the-syrian-war-still-raging/articleshow/62869202.cms

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Almost 1,270 Kurdish Fighters Killed in Turkish Army Operation in Northern Syria

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Turkish Army General Staff announced in a statement on Sunday that nearly 1,270 Kurdish militias have thus far been killed in the Turkish Army's Operation Olive Branch in Afrin region in Northwestern Aleppo.

The statement said that the Turkish Air Force has launched attacks on 19 military Kurdish targets in Afrin region, including arms depots and positions.

It further said that 86 Kurdish militants have been killed in Operation Olive Branch in last 24 hours, adding that the total number of the Kurds' casualties stands at 1,266 since the start of the Turkish forces' operation in Northern Syria.   

The General Staff announced on Thursday that its forces along with militants supported by them killed 29 Kurdish fighters during military operations in Afrin.

It added that 1,028 Kurdish forces have been killed since the start of Operation Olive Branch in Afrin on January 20.

Meantime, 2 Turkish soldiers were also killed in the Kurdish forces' mortar and anti-tank missile attacks in Southwest of the town of Bolbol.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961122000830

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More Terrorists Killed in Clashes between Two Rival Groups in Northwestern Syria

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- A number of gunmen have been killed in tough battle between the ISIL and the Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) in SoutheasternIdlib, field sources reported on Sunday.

The sources said that the Al-Nusra and ISIL suffered heavy casualties after the two main terrorist groups engaged in fierce clashes near Um al-Khalalil region in SoutheasternIdlib.

The sources said that 20 gunmen of ISIL and Al-Nusra were killed in the clashes as the former tried to expand its regions in SoutheasternIdlib.  

The Arabic-language al-Manar TV network reported on Friday that a fresh wave of tensions and differences erupted among the main terrorist groups in Idlib province after they handed over the body of the Russian pilot whose jet was downed by the Al-Nusra Front.

It said that the Al-Nusra put a large number of its forces on alert in Idlib countryside, adding that the Al-Nusra was planning to attack Faylaq al-Sham that reportedly had handed over the body of the Russian pilot.

Al-Nusra said that it intended to hold the body of the Russian pilot to enter talks with Russia for the release of its captives. 

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961122001222

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Tens of Terrorists Killed in Syrian Armed Forces' Attacks in Hama, Idlib Provinces

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army troops and Air Force targeted the positions and movements of Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) in Northern Hama and Eastern and Southern Idlib, killing tens of terrorists on Sunday.

The army units engaged in a tough battle with Al-Nusra in a region between Tal (hill) Kolbah and al-Sukriyah in Eastern Idlib, killing a number of them and destroying their military vehicles and tanks.

Also, the army aircraft struck Al-Nusra's strongholds and movements in Kafr Zita in Northern Hama, near the towns of al-Tamanna and al-Sakyat in Southern Idlib, killing or wounding tens of gunmen and destroying their military hardware.

Field sources confirmed earlier today that the Syrian Army troops have discovered a large catch of US-made arms and ammunition at the positions of the ISIL and Al-Nusra Front in the provinces of Hama, Aleppo and Idlib.

The sources said that the army units seized large volumes of weapons and munitions left behind by ISIL and Al-Nusra terrorists, during the army’s combing operations in the villages near Ibn Wardan castle in Hama province and in a number of villages in Idlib and Aleppo provinces.

The sources added that the weapons included scores of munitions boxes, dozens of mortar shells, a rocket launcher, and US-made anti-tank TOW missile launchers.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961122001122

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Northeastern Syria: Kurdish Militants Start Setting up Military Positions at Border with Turkey

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Local sources in Hasaka province reported on Sunday that the Kurdish fighters have embarked on expelling civilians from their region in the Northern parts of the province to set up more military points at border with Turkey.

The sources said that the Kurds stormed several buildings in the village of DaqimAjaj West of the town of Ra'as al-Ein in NorthwesternHasaka, and forced civilians out to take charge.

In the meantime, al-Ahd news website pointed to the Kurdish fighters' control over several buildings in DaqimAjaj, and added that the Kurdish militants are to set up more military points at Hasaka border with Turkey.    

A media outlet reported on Wednesday that a large number Kurdish fighters and fresh recruits deployed in Hasaka in Northeastern Syria arrived in Afrin region in Northwestern Aleppo amid intensifying clashes between the Kurds and the Turkish Army.

The Turkish-language state-run Anadolu news agency reported that the newly arrived convoy of the Kurdish fighters included hundreds of buses and vehicles.

It further said that over 2,000 gunmen recruited by the SDF were accompanying the convoy of 500 Kurdish militias.

Anadolu said that the convoy was sent from the towns of Qamishli, Ra'as al-Ein, Amouda, Hasaka city, al-Darabiyeh and Tal Hamis to Ein al-Arab (Kobani) region and later left Kobani along with the Kurdish fighters for Manbij and to be ultimately deployed in Afrin region.     

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Syrian Army Forwards More Soldiers, Equipment to Eastern DeirEzzur

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army has sent a large number of fresh forces and a large volume of military hardware to Eastern DeirEzzur after its positions in the region were pounded by the US fighter jets a couple of days ago, field sources reported on Sunday.

The sources said that the army has dispatched a large number of forces and a large volume of military equipment to the Eastern bank of the Euphrates River in Eastern DeirEzzur.

The sources further added that several artillery units and military vehicles were sent to al-JazeeraKhasham, al-Tabiyah and Marat.

The US-led coalition carried out several airstrikes on Syrian forces in DeirEzzur province on Thursday.

The US military was claiming that so-called anti-ISIL coalition forces repelled a threatening Syrian Army-led attack consisting of five hundred troops – backed by artillery, tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems and mortars – late on Wednesday and early on Thursday against positions of Arab and Kurdish militias at energy fields near the town of Khasham on the Eastern bank of the Euphrates River in DeirEzzur province.

According to reports, more than 100 pro-government forces were killed in the airstrikes carried out by the US-led coalition in Syria's DeirEzzur.

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Senior Terrorist Commander Killed in Remote-Controlled Bomb Blast in Northwestern Syria

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Abu Asyad al-Babi, a key Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) air defense commander, was killed in a remote-controlled explosion in Idlib province, dissident-affiliated websites reported on Sunday.

The news websites reported that Abu Asyad al-Babi was killed in a remote-controlled blast in his vehicle by a group of unknown assailants.

The websites further said that al-Babi was a commander of the Al-Nusra air defense battalion deployed in Northern Badiyeh (desert) that shot down a Russian fighter jet in Saraqib in Idlib province a couple of days ago.

Field sources confirmed on Saturday that Abu Yamin, a notorious security commander of Al-Nusra Front, was assassinated by unknown attackers in Southwestern Idlib.

The sources said that Abu Yamin, one of the security commanders of Al-Nusra, together with five of his forces were killed by unknown raiders in the village f al-Qaniyah near the town of Jisr al-Shughour.

The sources confirmed that Abu Yamin and his forces were killed by the assailants' gun fire.

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South Asia

Taliban infiltrator kills 16 pro-government militia men in Helmand

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Feb 11 2018

A Taliban infiltrator has killed at least sixteen pro-government militia men in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan.

A local security official speaking on the condition of anonymity said the incident took place late on Saturday night in the vicinity of Greshk district.

The source further added that the Taliban infiltrator shot dead sixteen men and escaped from the area by taking the weapons and ammunition of the deceased individuals.

According to the security source, the incident took place in Baba Wali Hotel area of Greshk district.

The local government and security officials have not formally confirmed the incident so far.

The Taliban militants and other insurgent groups fighting the Afghan government have not commented regarding the incident yet.

Helmand is among the volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan where the Taliban militants are actively operating in its various districts and often carry out insurgency activities.

Insider attacks by the Taliban affiliates are not new as numerous incidents have been reported from the restive parts of the country in the past as well, including some deadly attacks on Afghan army and police forces.

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5 Taliban militants killed, 4 wounded in US airstrikes in Uruzgan

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Feb 11 2018

At least five Taliban insurgents were killed and four others were wounded in the airstrikes conducted by the US forces in southern Uruzgan province of Afghanistan.

According to the local security officials, the airstrikes were conducted in the vicinity of Tarinkot city, the provincial capital of Uruzgan province.

The security chief of Uruzgan Abdul Qawi Omari confirmed that the US forces based in Afghanistan carried out a series of airstrikes amid ongoing operations in outskirts of Uruzgan.

He said at least five Taliban insurgents were killed and four others were wounded in the airstrikes.

According to Qarwi, several weapons and ammunition belonging to the Taliban insurgents were also destroyed during the airstrikes.

The anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban insurgents have not commented regarding the report so far.

According to reports, clearance and counter-terrorism operations are underway in the remote areas in the outskirts of Tarinkot city.

The officials are saying that the operations were launched nearly a week ago and are still being conducted with the support of the US and the Afghan Air Forces.

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Rising tensions among Pak-Afghan forces along the Durand Line

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Feb 11 2018

Reports emerging from the eastern Kunar province indicate growing tensions among the Afghan and Pakistani forces along the Durand Line amid persistent cross-border shelling by the Pakistani military.

The provincial governor WahidullahKalimzai says thousands of artillery shells have been fired on various parts of Kunar province during the past several months.

Kalimzai further added that the issue was repeatedly shared through diplomatic channels with the Pakistani government but there has been no change in the cross-border shelling.

He said the Afghan forces have started to retaliate the shelling and during the recent days have started to shell the areas from where the shelling take place.

This comes as talks are underway between the Afghan and Pakistani officials on diplomatic level to resolve the tensions and improve the bilateral relations which have been marred mainly due to the circumstances surrounding the fight against the terrorism.

The Afghan officials believe that the ongoing violence in the country has links with the leadership councils of the Taliban and Haqqani network based in Pakistan, a claim which has repeatedly been rejected by Islamabad.

In the meantime, the ministry foreign affairs of Afghanistan said Saturday that no progress was made in the second round of talks between Islamabad and Kabul regarding the fight against terrorism, reduction in violence and peace and reconciliation.

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Second round of Pak-Afghan talks end without major breakthrough

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Feb 11 2018

The Afghan government says the second round of talks between Kabul and Islamabad ended without major breakthrough.

“A high-level Afghan delegation comprising of senior civilian and military officials led by Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai visited Islamabad on the 9th and 10th of February 2018 to continue discussions with their Pakistani counterparts led by Foreign Secretary TehminaJanjua on Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS),” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

The statement further added “While some progress was made on the mechanism of cooperation, no progress was achieved on specific, results-oriented, time-bound measures in the APAPPS, particularly in the areas of counter terrorism, reduction of violence, peace and reconciliation to meet the priorities of Afghanistan.”

The ministry did not elaborate further but the Afghan officials had earlier said that undeniable documents and evidences have been haned over to Pakistan regarding the involvement of the Pak-based anti-government circles in recent attacks in Kabul and other parts of the country.

Dozens of people were killed and hundreds more were wounded in a series of deadly attacks claimed by the Taliban starting in mid-January.

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Afghanistan impose travel ban on 4 individuals after Kabul hotel attack

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Feb 10 2018

The Afghan government has imposed travel ban on four individuals in connection to the deadly attack on Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul city.

Sources privy of the development have said that the individuals cannot leave the country based on the travel bans imposed amid ongoing investigations into the incident.

The sources further added that the Attorney General Office of Afghanistan has banned the head and deputy of Kabul-Balkh Security Company along with a foreign national and the head of the Hotel in connection to the incident.

The sources further added that the investigations are still being conducted into the incident and furthe details will be released later.

This comes as a group of armed insurgents launched a coordinated attack on Intercontinental Hotel nearly three weeks ago, sparking a gun battle that lasted for several hours, leaving more than 20 people dead.

The Afghan intelligence chief MasoomStanikzai had earlier said that five people have been arrested in connection to the incident by the intelligence operatives.

Speaking during a press conference two weeks ago, Stanikzai said one of the individuals involved in the attack has managed to flee the country.

The Taliban group claimed responsibility behind the attack but the Afghan officials are saying that the attack was planned and executed by the Haqqani terrorist network having sanctuaries outside the country.

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Afghan forces arrest 8 ISIS group members in Kabul

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Feb 10 2018

The Afghan security forces have arrested at least eight group members of the ISIS terrorist group in capital Kabul, the Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS) said.

According to a statement by NDS, the ISIS group members were arrested during separate operations conducted in various parts of the capital.

The statement further added that the militants were busy recruiting militants for the terror group besides plotting attacks.

According to NDS, the detained individuals have been identified as Javid, Bilal, Sediqullah, Qudrullah, Ikramhullah, Mohibullah, and Ali Ahmad.

The detained individuals have confessed that they were involved in various terrorist-related activities in the capital, including plotting attacks and hiring militants for the ISIS ranks.

In the meantime, NDS said the detained individuals were also collecting funds for the terror group besides carrying out targeted assassinations.

The ISIS loyalists and other militant and terrorist groups have not commented regarding the report so far.

This comes as the Afghan intelligence operatives discovered a major hideout of the terror group from Kabul city nearly two weeks and days after the terror group claimed responsibility for a series of attacks in the city.

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Bid to smuggle 2.27 kgs of heroin to India from Kabul airport has been foiled

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Feb 11 2018

Bid to smuggle around two kilos and twenty grams of heroin to India from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul has been foiled by the Afghan security forces.

The Ministry of Interior of Afghanistan (MoI) in a statement said a man was arrested as he was attempting to smuggle around 2.27 kgs of heroin to India via Hamid Karzai International Airport.

The statement further added that the man was detained as he attempting to use his suitcase for the smuggling of the heroin.

According to the ministry, a large packet of heroin was professionally placed inside the suitcase but the bid was foiled before the alleged smuggler manage to pass through the security checks.

No further details have been given regarding the identity of the detained individual as the ministry of interior says further investigations are underway in this regard.

This comes as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released its latest findings regarding the opium cultivation in Afghanistan earlier in November yeare, informing regarding a 87 per cent rise in opium cultivation and production in the country as compared to last year.

According to the latest UNODC report, there has been a rapid expansion in opium cultivation in 2017 due to a rapid expansion of the areas used to cultivate poppies.

The report further adds that the production of opium in the current year stands at 9,000 metric tons.

“Increased insurgency and funding to terrorist groups is likely within Afghanistan while more high quality, low cost heroin will reach consumer markets across the world, leading to increased consumption,” the report said.

The UN office says the farm gate value off the opium for the year has been estimated at $1.4 billion which shows a 50 per cent increased as compared to last year.

khaama.com/bid-to-smuggle-2-27-kgs-of-heroin-to-india-from-kabul-airport-has-been-foiled-04468

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Mideast

Turkish soldiers advancing slowly in Afrin to fight in line with Islamic ethics: Top religious body head

 

“Our Muslims soldiers are undertaking their fight in line with Islam’s principles. That is why they are moving slowly in Afrin. They are moving with the conscience of not causing even one person’s nose to bleed; after all, this is Islam’s order,” Erbaş said on Feb. 10 during a speech at the OrhanGazi Culture Center in the western province of Sakarya’s Adapazarı district.

“All our conquests in history were undertaken to prevent oppression. Our soldiers fire their bullets against oppressors, to protect those oppressed. Our soldiers are clashing for this, because there are terror organizations there, and they are constantly oppressing,” Erbaş said.

Speaking about the “exploitation of Islam by various groups like Boko Haram, al-Shabab, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] and the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization [FETÖ],” he said they can be tackled by giving people the “right knowledge on religion.”

“If we do not undertake our duties at this point, then we will face groups that are promoted as religious formations but which later turn into terror organizations. How did ISIL, Boko Haram, al-Shabab, and FETÖ show up? They did through incorrect interpretations of religion,” he said.

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Israel, Iran lurch toward showdown as border region boils

Donna Abu-Nasr and Gwen Ackerman | Bloomberg | Updated: Feb 11, 2018

The Israeli military on Saturday said it struck 12 targets in Syria, including four belonging to Iran

Saturday’s confrontation comes amid Israeli warnings that it won’t let Syria become an Iranian base or a conduit for weapons bound for Iran-backed Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.

UN members look through binoculars as they monitor the Israel-Syria border in the Israeli-annexed Golan HeightsUN members look through binoculars as they monitor the Israel-Syria border in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights

Israel and Iran moved closer to confrontation in Syria as rising tensions erupted into the most serious standoff between the sides since the Syrian civil war began seven years ago.

The Israeli military on Saturday said it struck 12 targets in Syria, including four belonging to Iran, in a "large-scale attack" after an Iranian drone penetrated its airspace. An F-16 fighter plane crashed+ in northern Israel after coming under fire from Syrian anti-aircraft missiles, and the pilots were hospitalized with moderate to severe injuries.

US supports Israeli action against Iranian targets in Syria: White House

Saturday's confrontation comes amid Israeli warnings that it won't let Syria become an Iranian base or a conduit for weapons bound for Iran-backed Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. Iran and allied militias have fought alongside government troops against rebels and Islamist factions in the Syrian war.

"The question is whether the Iranians will respond or lower the fire at this stage," said Ephraim Kam, a senior researcher at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies. "My feeling is that they don't have an interest in escalation."

'RIGHT AND DUTY'

On Saturday night, after hours of consultations with the defense minister and military chief of staff, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the Iranian drone flight as a "brazen" attempt to violate Israel's sovereignty, and said it was Israel's "right and duty" to respond.

"Israel's face is turned toward peace, but we will continue to defend ourselves with determination against any attack on us and against any Iranian attempt to base itself in Syria or anywhere else," Netanyahu said. "Iran seeks to use Syrian territory to attack Israel for its professed goal of destroying Israel."

Iran disputed Israeli officials' narrative, saying claims that the military drone is Iranian or that the nation had any involvement in downing the Israeli fighter were "ridiculous."

"Iran's presence in Syria is essentially advisory and based on requests from that country's legal government," Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said on Saturday, according to the state-run Mehr news agency.

Israel has attacked inside Syria frequently since the civil war began in March 2011, targeting Syrian military posts and arms shipments bound for Hezbollah. Until this weekend, occasional responses by Syria and Hezbollah against Israel had caused little damage.

Israeli officials wouldn't confirm if the F-16 had been downed by a Syrian missile, as teams combed the crash site for remains to analyze. Across the border the event was taken as a victory, with dozens of Lebanese celebrating and waving Hezbollah's flag.

syrianwar

NEW RULES

The downing of the plane marks "the beginning of a new strategic stage that puts an end to violations of Syrian airspace and territory," Hezbollah said.

Israeli media reported that the Iranian military drone was shot down near Beit Shean, close to the border with Jordan, after flying for about 90 seconds in Israeli airspace. Hadashot News reported the Israeli counterattack in Syria was believed to have destroyed a significant portion of the country's air-defense system.

Netanyahu has made a number of visits to Russia, the dominant player in Syria, to lay out Israel's red lines and ask President Vladimir Putin to rein in Iran. Netanyahu said he spoke to Putin again Saturday, as well as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and that the Israeli and Russian militaries would continue their coordination to avoid inadvertent confrontation in Syria.

In a statement on its website Saturday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it was concerned about the Israeli attack and said it was unacceptable to create threats to the safety of Russian military personnel in Syria.

RED CARD

Israeli politicians from across the spectrum largely backed the government's response. Regional Cooperation Minister TzachiHanegbi, from Netanyahu's Likud Party, said that after Israel's repeated warnings on Iran in Syria -- what he called a "yellow card" for the Islamic Republic -- Saturday's strike represented a "red card." TzipiLivni of the opposition Zionist Union faction said the government must do more to build international backing for Israeli attacks in Syria.

A statement attributed to a war operations room that includes the Syrian army and allied militias said the Israeli strike targeted a drone base in the Tayfour military airbase, calling claims that the drone entered Israeli airspace "lies." It said the drones collect information on militant groups, including Islamic State, for the Syrian army, and said the drone was on a routine mission Saturday morning targeting Islamic State remnants.

"Any new aggression will be met with a tough and serious response," the statement said.

The current violence is the first direct engagement between Iran and Israel, said Sami Nader, head of the Beirut-based Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs.

"Before, it was done through proxies," for example by the Syrian regime or the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, Nader said. "The risk is a direct confrontation between Israel and Iran that will encompass Syria and Lebanon."

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Major Israeli air raids hit 'Iranian targets' in Syria

AFP | Feb 10, 2018

JERUSALEM: Israel struck a dozen Syrian and Iranian targets inside Syria on Saturday in "large-scale" raids after an Israeli fighter jet crashed under fire from Syrian air defences in a severe increase in tensions, the military said.

The confrontation was the most serious between arch foes Israel and Iran since the start of the civil war in Syria in 2011.

Israel's raids came after it intercepted what it said was an Iranian drone entering its airspace from Syria, which it labelled an "attack."

It marked the first time Israel publicly acknowledged attacking what it identified as Iranian targets in Syria since the war began.

In response, Iran denounced Israeli "lies" and said Syria had the right to self-defence in response to Israeli strikes.

Separately, Iran issued a joint statement alongside the other main allies of the Syrian regime -- Russia and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah -- denying the allegations regarding the drone.

The Russian foreign ministry called for "restraint" from all parties.

Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus warned that Syria and Iran were "playing with fire," but stressed his country was not seeking an escalation.

"This is the most blatant and severe Iranian violation of Israeli sovereignty in the last years," Conricus told journalists in a phone conference.

Israel said its reprisals after the exchange were "large-scale" raids that attacked Syrian air defence systems and Iranian targets.

"Twelve targets, including three aerial defence batteries and four Iranian targets that are part of Iran's military establishment in Syria were attacked," a military statement said.

Israel has repeatedly warned in recent weeks against the presence of Iranian forces in neighbouring Syria.

The Israeli pilots of the crashed F16 were alive, although one was severely wounded, the military said.

According to the Israeli military, the confrontation began with the drone entering its airspace before being intercepted by a combat helicopter.

Conricus said it was intercepted well inside Israeli territory over the city of Beit Shean, near the Jordanian border.

He did not say whether the drone was armed or for reconnaissance, but alleged it "was on a military mission sent by Iranian military forces" from an "Iranian base" in the Palmyra area.

Eight Israeli aircraft then "targeted the Iranian control systems in Syria that sent the UAV" and confirmed hits, according to Conricus.

The aircraft met "massive Syrian anti-air fire," Conricus said, and the F16 crashed afterwards in the Jezreel valley in northern Israel.

It was not clear if the jet crashed as a direct result of the Syrian fire.

According to the military, the pilots ejected, landed in Israeli territory and were taken to hospital.

Syria said its air defences repelled two Israeli raids on its military bases in the centre of the country, hitting more than one warplane during the first.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the seven-year civil war, said the earlier Israeli raids had targeted several military bases in the east of the central province of Homs.

It said the bases are used by both Iranian and Russian military personnel deployed in support of the regime.

Syrian state media said the later raids targeted military positions in the south of the country.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said Tehran "believes Syria has the right to legitimate self-defence. To cover their crimes in the region, Israeli officials are resorting to lies against other countries."

He added that "Iran does not have a military presence in Syria, and has only sent military advisers at the request of the Syrian government."

Iran, Russia and Hezbollah -- the Syrian regime's main allies -- issued a joint statement calling Israel's drone allegations "lies."

It said the Israeli strikes had targeted drones used against "terrorist organisations, primarily Daesh", using an alternative name for the Islamic State group.

The statement vowed a "relentless response" to "all further aggression".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has held a series of meetings in recent months with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Iran's influence in Syria and Lebanon.

Netanyahu has been seeking to persuade Russia to limit Iran's presence near Israeli territory and to stop it from entrenching itself militarily in Syria.

In a meeting in Moscow last month, Netanyahu reiterated concerns of what he described as attempts by Iran to establish a military presence in Syria and produce weapons against Israel there.

"We won't accept either of those, and will act according to our needs," Netanyahu said then.

Israel remains technically at war with Syria and occupies a swathe of the strategic Golan Heights that it seized in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu took members of his security cabinet for a tour of the Israeli-occupied side, where they were briefed by the military.

Israel has sought to avoid direct involvement in the Syrian war, but acknowledges carrying out dozens of air strikes there to stop what it calls advanced arms deliveries to Hezbollah.

Several analysts said they did not expect a further escalation for now.

OferZalzberg of the International Crisis Group said Russia should mediate since "it is the only stakeholder which has strong relations with all sides today."

But he said "this incident signals a new phase in a way of the war in Syria."

The Syrian regime is acting more boldly toward Israeli strikes because it feels it has gained the upper hand in the civil war, he said.

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Israeli jet shot down after bombing Iranian site in Syria

ReutersUpdated February 11, 2018

JERUSALEM: Anti-aircraft fire downed an Israeli warplane returning from a bombing raid on Iran-backed positions in Syria on Saturday in the most serious confrontations yet between Israel and Iranian-backed forces based across the border.

The F-16, one of at least eight Israeli planes despatched in response to what Israel said was an Iranian drone’s incursion into its airspace earlier in the day, was hit by a Syrian anti-aircraft missile and crashed in northern Israel, an Israeli official told Reuters.

Both pilots ejected and were injured, one critically.

Israel then launched a second and more intensive air raid, hitting what it said were 12 Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria, including Syrian air defence systems.

Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group said the downing of the plane marked the “start of a new strategic phase” which would limit Israel’s ability to enter Syrian airspace.

Iran’s involvement in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad in a nearly seven-year-old civil war - including the deployment of Iran-backed forces near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights - has alarmed Israel, which has said it would counter any threat.

But both Israel and Syria signalled they were not seeking wider conflict, even as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rushed to military headquarters in Tel Aviv and the pro-Assad alliance pledged a strong response to any Israeli “terrorist action”.

Russia, whose forces began intervening on behalf of Assad in 2015, expressed its concern and urged both sides to exercise restraint and avoid escalation.

A Western diplomat in the region said: “My impression is that it seems to be contained at this point. I don’t think anybody wants to escalate further.”

Chain of events

Saturday’s chain of events began at 4:30am (0230 GMT) when an Israeli Apache helicopter shot down an Iranian drone over the northern town of Beit Shean, the Israeli military said.

The drone had been sighted taking off from a base in Syria, and was intercepted after it crossed into Israeli territory, spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said.

Israeli planes then struck an Iranian installation in Syria from which, the Israeli military said, the unmanned aircraft had been operated.

The Israeli military released grainy black and white footage of what it said was the drones control vehicle in Syria being destroyed.

The F-16 crashed on its return from the mission, coming down in an empty field near Harduf, east of Haifa.

Israel has long maintained air superiority in the region, mounting air strikes in Syria on a regular basis, targeting suspected weapons shipments to Hezbollah.

Hezbollah said in a statement: “Today’s developments mean the old equations have categorically ended.”

Iranian and Iran-backed Shia forces, including Hezbollah, have deployed widely in Syria in support of Assad.

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President Rouhani Stresses Victory over Terrorism

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani underlined that his country gained victory over terrorist groups in the region and prevented disintegration of the regional states, including Iraq.

"We gained victory over terrorism this year and had abundant successes in annihilation of terrorists and the ISIL in the region. Our assistance to the Iraqi and Syrian people yielded results and the nations of the region were saved from the terrorists' hands. We didn’t allow the conspirators in our region to pursue disintegration of our friendly states. They wanted to separate Iraq into two parts, distort Iraq's unity but the Iraqi nation's vigilance and the regional countries' aide guaranteed the national unity of countries which are our friends in this region," Rouhani said in Tehran on Sunday, addressing hundreds of thousands of Iranian people participating in the February 11 rallies to commemorate the anniversary of victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

He also stressed that the Iranian nation foiled the US plot to interfere in the country's internal affairs, and said Washington has also failed in decertifying the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and the world power.

"I declare that our nation remains committed to its undertakings until the other side remains loyal and I stress again that if they want to withdraw from the deal, they will be harmed soon."

President Rouhani also underscored different achievements Iran gained in the past year, including outpacing Qatar in extraction and production of gas from South Pars oil and gas field, decreasing people's expenses in the field of hygiene and treatment, export of wheat and gasoil, increasing the number of knowledge-based companies, production of different weapons and military equipment and progress in building satellites.

He also emphasized that the country will gain self-sufficiency in the production of gasoline next year.

The annual nationwide February 11th rallies marking the 39th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution were staged in the capital city of Tehran and other cities across the country on Sunday morning.

Millions of Iranians from all walks of life were out in the streets and squares all over the country to express their support for the cause, aspirations and ideals of the Islamic Revolution.

In Tehran, hundreds of thousands converged at Azadi Square, Tehran's main square and the site of major national rallies over the past four decades.

In addition to the annual theme of renewing support for the revolution and Islamic establishment, this year rallies are important after the propaganda launched by the western media against Iran after the recent economic unrests in the country.

Yet, what has made this year's rallies even more important is the call by the high-ranking Iranian officials on people to give a crushing response to the recent threats of US President Donald Trump by staging massive rallies even larger than ever.

The demonstrators chanted "Death to America", "Death to Israel", "Death to Britain", and a number of other slogans in support of the Supreme Leader, and the Islamic establishment. They also carried a symbolic "Coffin of the Zionist Regime" to display their belief in an assessment that was stated by the Iranian Supreme Leader last year that the Israeli regime will be wiped off the map in 25 years.

Yet, more striking than anything else were banners and posters of Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari that read "Revolutionary Avenge", in reference to a sentence of the Iranian Supreme Leader that received much attention in the public opinion and went viral on the net.

In a meeting with thousands of people from the city of Qom a week after the January riots in Iran last month, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei addressed the US governing body, and said, “First: On recent events, you met with failure, and if you repeat this in the future, you will fail again. Second, in these few days Iran suffered damage; this will not go unavenged. And third, this individual, who according to the Americans themselves is mentally and psychologically unstable must know that these staged madness will not remain unanswered.”

The posters could be seen in large numbers across the country since last night, and some even carried the Leader's sentence.

The rallies this year are covered by over 6,000 reporters and photojournalists, including hundreds from other countries.

Led by the Founder of the Revolution, Imam Khomeini, Iranians confronted the forces of US-proxy Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi in late 1977 to end his oppressive, cruel and autocratic rule over the country.

By December 1978, millions of Iranians would take to the streets in protest against the policies of the Shah on a regular basis.

Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned from exile to Iran to be received by millions of cheering crowds after the departure of the Shah in mid-January 1979. Two weeks later, the country saw the victory of the Islamic Revolution.

The final collapse of the Shah's regime came on February 10 when the military renounced its loyalty to the Shah and joined the revolutionary forces.

On this day 39 years ago, people took to the streets to celebrate the collapse of the Pahlavi Dynasty and the emergence of the new era.

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Resistance Shoots Down Israeli Plane Over Gaza

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Local sources confirmed on Sunday that the Palestinian resistance movement shot down an Israeli plane flying over Northern Gaza Strip.

Local sources in the strip said that the resistance shot down a small Israeli Phantom aircraft, East of Jabalia refugee camp in the Northern Gaza Strip, Palestine News Network reported.

The Israeli occupation forces announced the freezing of the work of the aircraft “Sky Rider” until further notice after 11 aircraft of this kind were destroyed since 2017.

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Qatari emir congratulates anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution

 

Doha, Feb 11, IRNA – Emir of Qatar in a message to Iranian president congratulated anniversary of the country's Islamic Revolution.

Qatari emir congratulates anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in the message cabled to Hassan Rouhani on Sunday, congratulated the 39th anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution to the Iranian government and nation.

Also, the Qatar Deputy Emir Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Thani and the country's Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani congratulated the occasion in separate messages to Iranian officials.

irna.ir/en/News/82828687

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Africa

Egyptian army kills 16 terrorists in Sinai operation

February 11, 2018

The military also said in a statement carried by state television that 66 targets, arms depots and SUVs and motor-bikes used by militants were destroyed in raids focused mainly in Sinai, but also including parts of the Nile Delta and the western desert.

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Sixteen militants were killed and four arrested in a major security operation launched by Egypt on Friday, the Egyptian military said on Sunday, the first casualties in a campaign aimed at crushing insurgents behind a string of attacks.

The military also said in a statement carried by state television that 66 targets, arms depots and SUVs and motor-bikes used by militants were destroyed in raids focused mainly in Sinai, but also including parts of the Nile Delta and the western desert.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is seeking re-election in March, ordered the armed forces in November to defeat militants within three months after an attack on a mosque killed more than 300 people, the deadliest such incident in the Arab world’s most populous country.

The operation involves troops from the Egyptian air force, navy and ground forces as well as the police and border guards.

“The air force targeted and destroyed 66 targets used by terrorist elements to hide from air and artillery attacks, and to escape from their bases during raids,” the statement said.

A total of 16 militants were killed, it said.

The statement also said forces involved in the operation found a media centre with computers, communication equipment and books and documents related to terror ideology.

Security forces also uncovered and destroyed six farms used to grow banned narcotics, the statement said.

en.abna24.com/news/africa/egyptian-army-kills-16-terrorists-in-sinai-operation_881525.html

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Islamic banking in Egypt increases 16 % in 2017: official

Published Sunday, 11 February 2018

The market share of Islamic finances in Egypt climbed 16 percent by the end of 2017 recording 240 million Egyptian pounds, said head of the Egyptian Islamic Finance Association (EIFA).

The Islamic banking represents 6  percents of the Egyptian banking system, Mohamed Al-Beltagy added.

The volume of deposits has recorded 205 billion pounds by last December, seizing 6.5 percent of the volume of clients deposits of the banking system.

the volume of Shariah-compliant deposits recorded 180 billion Pounds by the end of the last year, the number of branches the presents the Islamic banking services are 232 branches representing 6.2 percent of total branches of the banking sector.

The Egyptian market  is managing the Islamic funding services through 14 banks providing 40 Islamic products including finance formulas  and saving schemes that serve  around 3 million clients.

Egypt has now Shariah-compliant operators including three full-fledged Islamic banks; Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt, Al Baraka Bank-Egypt, and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) – Egypt, in addition to 11 banks with Islamic windows, including the National Bank of Egypt.

en.amwalalghad.com/business/banks/62670-islamic-banking-in-egypt-increases-16--in-2017-official.html

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Sudan: Proposal to Dissolve ‘Islamic Movement,’ Integrating it in Ruling Party

Sunday, 11 February, 2018

A senior committee within the Islamic Movement in Sudan proposed dissolving the movement and integrating it in the ruling party in Sudan or turning it into an organization.

This came in the first public initiative related to the status of the "ideological organization of Sudanese Islamists" since they came to power three decades ago.

Leaders in the "Islamic Movement," north the Nile River State, rejected Saturday the proposals made by the movement's senior leader, Nafea Ali Nafea, to dissolve the movement or integrate it into the ruling National Congress Party while members of the movement in Kassala State agreed on the proposal.

The Islamic Movement, which is the Sudanese version of the International Muslim Brotherhood and is headed by President Omar al-Bashir, has changed its name in succession.

It has been called the Islamic Charter Front, the Islamic Trend and the Islamic National Front before the late leader of the Sudanese Islamists, Hassan al-Turabi, announced dissolving it on the eve of the June 30, 1989 coup, which brought President Omar al-Bashir to power.

It was later reconstituted following the split of Islamists in 1999.

The committee, which is responsible for studying the situation of the Islamic Movement and is headed by the former first vice president Ali Osman Mohamed Taha and a number of Sudanese Islamist leaders, has decided to integrate the movement in the ruling National Congress Party or turn it into an organization without giving details on the reason behind this decision.

Al-Akhbar independent newspaper reported that the two proposals will be submitted to the movement's leaders in a matter of days to decide on them and agree which option to choose.

Notably, the movement is headed by President Omar al-Bashir, and Prime Minister Bakri Hassan Saleh is Bashir’s acting member in spite of the doubts surrounding the "Islamization" of Bashir and Taha.

Secretary General of the Islamic Movement is Sheikh Zubair Ahmed al-Hassan.

aawsat.com/english/home/article/1171726/sudan-proposal-dissolve-‘islamic-movement’-integrating-it-ruling-party

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North America

Bombing of Chinese separatists shows how Trump’s Afghan war changed

Dan LamotheUpdated February 11, 2018

THE expansion of the US bombing campaign in Afghanistan to target a little-known Chinese terrorist group is an example of how the 16-year-old war has changed under President Donald Trump, according to US military officers and outside analysts.

The air strikes began on Feb 2 in northeastern Afghanistan’s remote, mountainous Badakhshan province, destroying training camps and fighting positions in the Wurduj district. The area was once relatively peaceful but fell under Taliban control in 2015 and is now home to members of both the Taliban and a separatist group that is known as both the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP).

The Taliban and ETIM were commingled on the facilities that were bombed and often work together, said Air Force Brig Gen Lance Bunch, the director of future operations at the US-led military headquarters in Kabul. The strikes included three Humvees and two Ford Ranger pickup trucks that the United States once provided to Afghan troops and were in the process of being converted into rolling suicide bombs.

“Anybody that is an enemy of Afghanistan, we’re going to target them,” Bunch said in a phone interview. “We’ve got new authorities now that allow us to be able to...target the Taliban and the ETIM where they previously thought they were safe.”

The new authorities were approved in August by Trump, and the United States has escalated the air campaign ever since. While US officials have declined to say what specifically they entail, there is broad agreement that they have allowed the US military to expand how frequently it strikes.

The Air Force dropped 4,361 bombs in Afghanistan last year, as opposed to 1,337 in 2016 and 947 in 2015, according to service statistics.

The ETIM comprises ethnic Uyghur militants who want to form a separate state in or near the western Xinjiang region of China.

The group’s emir is believed to be Abdul Haq al Turkistani, who has been on Al Qaeda’s leadership council and was targeted by the Treasury Department in 2009 for his associations with other terrorists, said Thomas Joscelyn, a senior editor with The Long War Journal, which tracks terrorist organisations. The group threatened attacks on the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.

The militants once had a home across the Afghan border in Pakistan but were pushed out of the North Waziristan region in 2015 as the US reduced the number of troops in Afghanistan and the Pakistani military ran a series of counterterrorism operations on its side of the border, said Michael Kugelman, who analyses terrorist groups for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

“It’s a group that has really flown under the radar in many ways in the broader constellation of terrorist organisations,” Kugelman said. “It typically has local aims, but I don’t think we should ever take light any group with ties to Al Qaeda.”

The group has expanded its operations in recent years. Under the TIP acronym, it fought in Syria alongside groups linked to Al Qaeda, according to an assessment released in November by the International Centre for Counterterrorism at The Hague.

Air Force Maj Gen James Hecker, the commander of the coalition’s air command in Afghanistan, told reporters on Wednesday that there has been a “change in weight of effort” recently in US intelligence-gathering that has provided US commanders with more information about potential targets. The United States also has added additional aircraft, including MQ-9 Reaper drones and a squadron of A-10C attack jets in southern Afghanistan.

“With the current uplift in resources, we can decimate Taliban command-and-control nodes,” Hecker said. “That means we can strike at the heart of training camps, where they brainwash young men to strap on a suicide vest, to kill themselves and their fellow Afghans, who are working to rebuild the country.”

It’s not clear how many other facilities might be targeted, or what it will take to turn the tide. The US military highlighted strikes this week near Bahram Chah, a border crossing town in southern Helmand province. Bunch said there also have been strikes recently in Nangarhar, an eastern province where the militant Islamic State group has maintained a presence.

Kugelman said the fact that there are so many apparent targets shows how rapidly security in Afghanistan has deteriorated over the past few years.

“It’s a very striking and sobering reminder of how widely the insurgency in Afghanistan has expanded,” he said. “For many years, the Taliban’s strongholds were in the south and southeast of the country, but in recent years all of a sudden you have the Taliban carving out area in new places. It’s pretty telling, and it’s pretty depressing, actually.”

dawn.com/news/1388750/bombing-of-chinese-separatists-shows-how-trumps-afghan-war-changed

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India May Raise With Washington Use Of US-Made ATMGs  By Pakistan To Target Indian Troops

PTI | Feb 10, 2018

The security establishment here is understood to have been concerned over use of US-made ATGMs by Pakistan

Pakistan army had used the ATMGs during heavy shelling on an Indian Army team along the LoC in Rajouri

"We are going to raise the issue with them (the US)", said a source

Indian soldiers stand guard near the line of control at Rajouri in Nowshera. (PTI)Indian soldiers stand guard near the line of control at Rajouri in Nowshera. (PTI)

NEW DELHI: India is likely to raise with the Trump administration the use of US-made anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) by Pakistan army to target Indian troops along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, defence ministry sources indicated on Saturday.

The Pakistan army had used the ATMGs during heavy shelling on an Indian Army team along the LoC in Rajouri district of J&K last Sunday in which four army men including a captain were killed, the sources said.

Army sources had said that the Pakistan army used 120mm mortars and the ATGMs in the Rajouri attack, adding usually Pakistan uses 80mm mortars to target Indian posts along the LoC.

The security establishment here is understood to have been concerned over use of US-made ATGMs by Pakistan considering the expanding Indo-US strategic ties.

"We are going to raise the issue with them (the US)", said a source.

The defence and security ties between India and the US have been on an upswing. In June 2016, the US had designated India a "Major Defence Partner" intending to elevate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners.

The Army last week had clearly indicated that it would take retaliatory action against the killing of four army men.

The sources said that Pakistan has been escalating the hostilities along the LoC and in hinterland in J&K to vitiate the atmosphere ahead of panchayat polls in the state.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-may-raise-with-washington-use-of-us-made-atgms-by-pakistan-to-target-indian-troops/articleshow/62864829.cms

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No mothers, no Muslims: The new US immigration system

RafiaZakaria

Late last month, the Trump White House released its legislative framework for immigration reform. Its sticking points are familiar ones: the $25bn that President Trump wants to use to build the border wall he has promised his supporters; and a path to citizenship for beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA), whose fates hang in the balance as the US wrangles over who to let through its borders. The White House framework also seeks to eviscerate visa quotas for "family reunification," via which parents and siblings of US citizens can migrate to the US (disparagingly termed "chain migration") and completely eliminate the Diversity Visa Lottery.

The White House framework will not be passed unchanged; other bills also aiming at immigration reform have already been or will soon be introduced in the legislature. Internal administrative memos are further suggesting their own changes to immigration regulations. While none of these have yet made it to a vote, a look at their cumulative contents provides a view of the drastically altered immigration regime that would-be US immigrants could face in just a few months. Pre-empting some of these changes can enable those affected to take action now and avoid disappointment and discrimination later.

The most significant changes will likely occur in the family immigration category. Even while Democrats have expressed opposition to limiting the "family re-unification" visa quotas to only spouses and children, it is quite likely that they will acquiesce to at least some cuts to the category. The reason is simple: to make significant gains in 2018, Democrats must make gains among white working-class voters. These voters have routinely expressed an animosity towards immigration in general and towards "chain migration" in particular. Signing off on cuts in this category, Democrats may decide, will endear them to this key demographic.

The consequence for current US citizens who have family members (parents and siblings) whom they would like to sponsor for an immigrant visa are grave. If the White House proposal is followed, they will no longer be able to do so for anyone except spouses and children under 18. It is imperative, therefore, that those US citizens and legal permanent residents (green card holders) who are intending to file immigrant petitions for parents and siblings do so immediately. Forms filed prior to the passage of any reform bill (even a day before) will be evaluated and processed under the old rules. The required forms are all available on the website for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and can be filed without the assistance of a lawyer. An incompletely filed petition is better than none at all.

The second major area of proposed reforms is in the H-1B visa category. The time-limited H-1B visas for skilled workers, which are sought by technology giants, are meant for scientists, engineers and computer programmers. Both the White House proposal and the Immigration and Innovation Act 2018 (referred to as I-squared) introduced by Senators Jeff Flake and Orrin Hatch make some mention of the category. The White House proposal wants to divert some of the visas freed up by the elimination of the Diversity Visa Lottery to the applicants who are awaiting green cards filed via the H-1B programme. The Flake-Hatch proposal addresses the H-1Bs more comprehensively, its provisions centring on preventing US employers from replacing US workers with foreign workers. Consequently, it includes clauses that increase H-1B wages so that employers don't import workers from abroad to undercut labour costs and prevent employers from requiring a US worker to train an H-1B worker who would replace him or her. Penalties are proposed for large cash-rich employers that file a lot of H-1B petitions, so that they don't freeze out small businesses.

On the positive side, the I-squared bill would increase the current 65,000 H-1B visa quota by 20,000, with an unlimited number of exemptions for those with US master's degrees or above. Two other bits of good news include the elimination of the country-specific quotas so that applicants from, say, India or China will not be barred simply because too many from their country have filed. Finally, the employment restriction on the H-4 visas, issued to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the H-1B visa holders, would be removed under I-squared, permitting spouses them to work while they are in the US.

The I-squared Bill is currently under review in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Like the White House proposal, it is unlikely to pass in its entirety; however, many of its provisions overlap with the stated White House intent to create a "merit-based" immigration system rather than one based on family ties. Given this, and the fact that the Bill reveals the intent to keep talented foreign students, particularly those in science and technology fields in the US, a good portion of it could become law. Heading to the US for a Master's degree or higher is likely to pay greater dividends than before and may be worth the exorbitant expenditure that it usually involves.

Excluding Sunni Muslims

A revised H-1B visa system would likely to be good news for talented immigrants from most of the world, except if they are Sunni Muslims. On February 5, 2018, Foreign Policy magazine released the contents of a leaked Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo that declares that it would be "great value for the United States Government" if it were to "continuously evaluate persons of interest". These "persons of interest" include Sunni Muslims (both US residents and visa applicants) who are believed to be "vulnerable to terrorist narratives" based on a number of risk indicators. These indicators are "being young, male and having national origins in the Middle East, South Asia or Africa." The memo was produced at the request of US Customs and Border Protection to "inform United States foreign visitor screening, immigrant vetting and on-going evaluations of United States-based individuals who might have a higher risk of becoming radicalised and conducting a violent attack".

The most alarming of the DHS memo's contents include the fact that a single religious and regional category is targeted for these "extreme vetting" measures. If the provisions are adopted, which can be done far more easily because it is an interagency directive (and not legislation), then it would mean that even those Sunni Muslims who have already immigrated would be subject to prolonged surveillance and questioning. Those applying for immigrant or other visas from these categories can expect to have every aspect of their life, from posts on social media to every organisational membership, thoroughly scrutinised, with rejections issued based on the barest of pretexts. In reality, such scrutiny would be a far more effective "Muslim Ban" than the executive order issued by President Trump earlier this year.

With this sort of discriminatory "extreme vetting" in place, even the most brilliant doctor, engineer or scientist who applies for a US visa could be rejected because he is Sunni and Muslim, young and male, from South Asia, the Middle East or Africa. Furthermore, family members of Sunni Muslims in the US applying for tourist visas or other non-immigrant visas will likely find it more difficult to obtain them and hence to visit the US under any visa category.

The new immigration regime likely to be brought into effect under the Trump administration, then, is anti-family, anti-Muslim but pro-genius. The suggested immigration reforms will likely affect millions of people around the world who have family or business interests in the US. US citizens who have family abroad and hope to sponsor them must do so immediately, and Sunni Muslim males planning to visit the US but not in possession of a tourist visa should apply without delay. Islamophobia and immigration are inextricably tied together in the Age of Trump, and anyone hoping to evade its xenophobic restrictions must act now.

The views expressed in this article are the authors' own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial stance.

aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/mothers-muslims-immigration-system-180211081434117.html

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Pakistan

Police seek govt’s help for security to witnesses in Naqeeb case

Imran AyubUpdated February 11, 2018

KARACHI: The Sindh police have sought support of the provincial government to provide security to Mohammad Qasim and Hazrat Ali, who were picked up by police with their friend NaqeebullahMehsud last month but released the next day before he was killed in a “fake encounter” allegedly by former SSP Malir Rao Anwar, calling them “threatened witnesses” to the high-profile case, officials said on Saturday.

In a recent letter to the Sindh home secretary, the police had referred to the orders from the Supreme Court which had ordered adequate security for the two key witnesses and their families. But due to lack of resources available with the law-enforcement agency, the required job had yet to be done completely. The law-enforcement agency had provided police guards to the two witnesses but could not relocate them as required by the Witness Protection Act.

“In this context, it is submitted that the said witnesses have been provided with physical protection of three police constables each, by SSP District Malir in his capacity as District Witness Protection Officer vide notification dated 24-11-2016. Since the Witness Protection Programme is not fully operational as yet, the necessary funds to activate and implement the programme has not been allocated so far,” said the Sindh police letter.

According to the contents of the FIR against former SSP Rao and other policemen, Naqeeb was picked up on the afternoon of January 3 with two of his friends — Hazrat Ali and Mohammad Qasim — from a roadside teashop on Abul Hasan Ispahani Road by “SP Rao Anwar’s men” in plain clothes. Later, the two friends were released on Jan 6, but on Jan 17 the family came to know through TV channels about Naqeeb’s killing in an encounter.

Apart from the two witnesses, the police authorities also argued for the security of their families living in Karachi and cited Section 4 of the Witness Protection Act which asks the authorities to take detailed measures.

“As soon as after the commencement of this Act, Government shall establish a Witness Protection Programme for protection and safety of a witness in any proceedings relating to this Act,” says the Witness Protection Act.

The actions in the programme, it says, may include making arrangements necessary, to allow the witness to establish a new identity, to allow the witness to conceal his or her identity by wearing a mask, changing his or her voice, appearance or any other form of segregation during the investigation or trial, or examination under the law and to allow video conferencing in order to secure the protected person; provided that such arrangements are approved by the concerned authority under this Act.

Amid request of other arrangements for security of the witnesses to the Naqeeb murder case that included proper budget and funds to carry out the programme which could be placed at the disposal of the home secretary or chief witness protection officer, the key measure suggested by the Sindh police was the relocation of the families within the city to some safer place.

“In view of above, you are further requested to please notify a suitable building in cantonment area or any other government building as a safe house to be used to provide safe accommodation to threatened witnesses under the Witnesses Protection Act, and in compliance of the orders of the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan,” added the letter.

dawn.com/news/1388585/police-seek-govts-help-for-security-to-witnesses-in-naqeeb-case

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Sanaullah airs concern over NAB chief’s remarks against Punjab govt

ZulqernainTahirUpdated February 11, 2018

LAHORE: A day after opposition lawmakers in the Punjab Assembly raised que­stions regarding the Nat­ional Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman’s remarks that the Punjab government was not providing the “required information” about some development pro­jects, a provincial government minister held a press conference on Satur­day to clarify its position.

“If the NAB chairman had any complaint with the Punjab government he could have written to it. Press conferences or spee­ches should not be a tool of communication between government departments. We regret that his [NAB chairman] words were used by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) opponents for political point-scoring,” said Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, while adding that the NAB chairman had not been “misled” by his subordinates.

Mr Sanaullah said the PML-N’s opponents had used the NAB chairman’s statement for political point-scoring against the Punjab government. “Such a conversation of the NAB chief, which was used by our political opponents against us, is not acceptable,” he said.

On Thursday, the NAB chairman had announced at a ceremony for those affected in fraudulent housing schemes that the Punjab government had not been cooperating with NAB.

He had also asked the heads of various government departments, especially the Lahore Development Authority and the Anti-Corruption Establishment, to be loyal to the people, not to their boss (Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif). The NAB chief had expressed concerns about the provincial government’s apparent lack of cooperation in providing the NAB records of 56 public companies accused of massive corruption.

NAB has been awaiting the complete records of Metro Bus Multan and Ashiana-i-Iqbal Lahore projects in which Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is accused of mismanaging finances.

Presenting a clarification, Mr Sanuallah said: “There are 53 public companies —15 of them are not functional and two others are closed. We have so far provided records of 48 companies to NAB and are cooperating with it. The Punjab government’s focal persons are available to entertain any request of the NAB officials.” He said the chief minister had appeared before NAB in the Punjab Land Development Company instead of submitting a reply in this regard.

Directing a jibe at NAB, the minister said there were “some people” working within the bureau who were, themselves, wanted by NAB. He termed the NAB officials’ behaviour with suspects humiliating and said, “The officials make (political) suspects sit throughout the day and then ask them to go back home.”

Citing various cases in which the Punjab Anti-Corruption had taken action, the law minister said the Punjab government had unearthed corruption in several departments and initiated strict action the culprits. “NAB did not have to ask us to take action in these cases as we did it by ourselves,” he said.

Mr Sanaullah added: “Here is a Khadim (Shahbaz Sharif) who is serving the people,” he said, adding that all officers had been appointed here “on merit”.

A NAB source told Dawn that the anti-graft watchdog might summon the Punjab chief minister in the Multan Metro Bus case to record his statement. “In Lahore’s Ashiana-i-Iqbal scam CM Sharif will also have to clarify his position,” he said.

NAB has accused Mr Sharif of cancelling the award of the project’s contract to successful bidders M/S Ch Latif and Sons and instead obliged M/S Lahore Casa Developers (JV) — a proxy group of M/S Paragon City (Pvt) Limited (which was developed by Railways Minister SaadRafique) — thus causing a loss of millions of rupees to the exchequer.

He also allegedly directed the Punjab Land Development Company to assign the project to the LDA, resulting in award of contract to M/s Lahore Casa Developers (JV), thus causing a loss of Rs715 million and ultimately failure of the project.

The NAB source said that Mr Sharif had allegedly directed the PLDC to award consultancy services of this project to M/s Engineering Consultancy Services Punjab for Rs192 million, whereas the actual cost was Rs35 million as quoted by Nespak.

After being grilled in the case last month, Mr Sharif said the notice was based on mala fide intent. He vowed to introduce a new accountability mechanism in the country if his party (the PML-N) came to power in the next elections. Mr Sharif has been nominated a candidate for the prime minister’s slot by his elder brother Nawaz Sharif in the 2018 election, according to federal ministers Ahsan Iqbal and SaadRafique.

dawn.com/news/1388729/sanaullah-airs-concern-over-nab-chiefs-remarks-against-punjab-govt

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Pakistan man arrested for killing sister over affair with relative

PTI | Feb 10, 2018

KARACHI: Police in Pakistan have arrested a man who killed his sister for having an affair with a relative, on the orders of a local 'Jirga' in Sukkur district in southern Sindh province.

"We have also booked and arrested the father and two local landlords who were part of the local Jirga," Sukkur SP, Amjad Shaikh said.

The 19-year-old girl was killed by her brother on February 8 in Pano Aqil after the local jury declared her a "sinful woman" as she was found to be having an affair with a relative.

"The local jury decided that the girl had brought dishonour for her family and declared her as sinful," Shaikh said.

He said the family of the girl had initially tried to give the impression that she had committed suicide.

"But we have now arrested the brother and father and two landlords who have confessed to their involvement," he said.

Such 'honour killings' are common in Pakistan in poor communities in urban areas and cities and more recently there have been several cases reported in Karachi where local 'Jirgas' condemned victims to death.

Last December, the so-called honour killings of 18-year- old Ghani Rehman and 15-year-old Bakhtaja in Karachi shocked the country as both were condemned to death by electrocution by a local Jirga or elders' council for eloping together.

The families including the fathers and uncles of the two teenagers carried out the killings.

In November in the impoverished Mominabad area of Karachi another couple was killed on the orders of a Jirga because they had married out of free will.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says around 650 "honour killings" have been carried out in Pakistan annually in the last decade and the figures could be much higher as many cases go unreported.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-man-arrested-for-killing-sister-over-affair-with-relative/articleshow/62865245.cms

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Rabita Committee removes Farooq Sattar from convenership of MQM

Dawn.com | ShahidGhazaliUpdated February 11, 2018

Hours after the Election Commission of Pakistan allowed MuttahidaQaumi Movement-Pakistan's (MQM-P) deputy-convener, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, the authority to hand out party tickets for the upcoming Senate elections, the party's Rabita Committee (Coordination Committee) moved to remove Dr Farooq Sattar from the convener's position.

"There are many reasons why Farooq Sattar was removed from his position," party leader Kunwar Naveed Jamil explained in a televised press conference on Sunday evening.

"The registration of a party as organized as the MQM was cancelled by the ECP only due to the negligence of Dr Farooq Sattar."

"Despite continuous reminders from the coordination committee, Sattar did not file the party workers' wealth statements with the ECP, due to which the party’s registration was cancelled," he explained.

"Dr Sattar purposefully sabotaged the Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation [the welfare arm of the MQM] by committing gross mismanagement in its affairs," he alleged. "Nazeer Hussain University is dysfunctional now and its employees haven't been paid for seven months now."

“Dr Farooq Sattar also altered the party constitution to his own benefit and siphoned all authorities and powers to himself," Jamil further alleged while announcing the reasons why Sattar was removed.

"We all love Farooq bhai deeply in a personal capacity. He was our party's convener. He no longer is. We deliberated in detail regarding this issue — the reasons I'm detailing are a small fraction of all the ones we deliberated."

"The whole issue started when Dr Farooq Sattar tried to force Kamran Tessori as the party’s candidate for Senate elections," he said.

Expressing the committee's reservations regarding the rapid ascent of Kamran Tessori in the party, Jamil alleged that Tessori was made convener of MQM only at the request of Dr Sattar, by keeping merit aside.

He also alleged that Sattar remained unwilling to accommodate the coordination committee's requests despite multiple overtures to seek a solution to the problem. Jamil claimed that the committee even abdicated its right to nominate senators completely for the sake of maintaining unity in the party, but Sattar remained closed to the demand of removing Tessori from the nominees.

"We have decided to promote the movement and not individuals," he continued.

"Dr Farooq Sattar does not hold any position of responsibility in the party anymore. He is now a common worker of the party," he concluded.

Siddiqui, speaking after Jamil, said Sattar's removal had been necessitated by the latter's call for a party workers' convention today that would have split the party completely.

He, however, did not foreclose the possibility of Sattar being reinstated as the convener of the party, saying the committee would be open to it if Sattar "realises his error".

Farooq Sattar responds

"I was ousted through a structured conspiracy," Dr Farooq Sattar responded after being removed from the post of MQM convener.

"The issue was not about the nomination of one person, but they [Bahadurabad group] wanted to nominate their favourites," Sattar said. "They are cloaking their selfish interests in their objection to one person's nomination for Senate seats"

They haven't sacked me, instead they have deprived every deserving worker of the party of his due right, says Dr Sattar.

"The party members had issues with me holding the authority of nominating party representatives," he maintained.

"I was forever the force obstructing the selling out of Karachi and the empowerment of the qabza mafia," he claimed.

The former MQM convener said, "If these people were sincere about their rapprochement, they wouldn't have signed the declaration for my ouster at the same time they were sending delegations to negotiate with me."

"The verdict will be delivered by the people's court today," he announced, before inviting all party workers to the KMC ground in PIB Colony for a grand convention.

Tussle over Senate tickets

Earlier in the day, former ECP secretary KanwarDilshad had said that MQM-P leader Dr Farooq Sattar has been stripped of his ticket-awarding powers.

Soon after the ECP announced its decision, however, Dr Sattar and other party leaders arrived at the election body's office in Karachi. "I am the party convener, only I have the right to give a ticket," Dr Sattar told ECP officials, contesting the election body's ruling. "In my presence, the deputy-convener cannot even call a meeting."

Speaking outside the ECP, Dr Sattar said that all the meetings held without his knowledge can be questioned. A day earlier, Dr Sattar had announced issuing show-cause notices to some coordination committee members for holding “unconstitutional” party meetings.

Citing parts of the party's constitution, he said: "If Khalid [Maqbool Siddiqui] bhai wants to assist the convener [Sattar], then I will also submit a letter to support him. But if I feel this power is being misused, then I will revoke his right to hand out tickets."

Dr Sattar stressed that it was only with his backing that Siddiqui has been authorised to hand out party tickets, saying, "Otherwise, it would not be possible for him to do so."

The deputy-convener's role is limited, Sattar had said while talking to the media. "He can only assist, not take over the convener's duties."

Widening rift

On Friday, MQM-P's coordination committee had exercised its rights under the party's constitution and delegated the authority to deputy-convener Siddiqui to hand out party tickets for the upcoming elections.

Party leader Faisal Sabzwari, in a chat with newsmen on Friday, had said that under the party constitution, neither the convener nor any other person had the right to hand out party tickets. He had said this right is the sole privilege of the coordination committee, which is transferring it to deputy-convener Siddiqui.

The committee had also written to the ECP, urging it to accept the Senate election nominations of its candidates immediately.

According to DawnNews sources, the letter reminded the ECP that according to MQM-P's constitution, the right to issue tickets to election candidates resides with the coordination committee.

The letter also emphasised that the party's convener does not have that right.

dawn.com/news/1388780/rabita-committee-removes-farooq-sattar-from-convenership-of-mqm

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Southeast Asia

India must step in to check Chinese land grab, rising radicalisation: Nasheed

Sachin Parashar | TNN | Updated: Feb 10, 2018

According to Nasheed, the Chinese have taken control of as many as 17 islands in the Maldives

The Maldivian fighters returning from Syria and Iraq had embedded themselves in the local police and defence forces, he said

File photo of former President of Maldives - Mohamed NasheedFile photo of former President of Maldives - Mohamed Nasheed

With the Maldives poised precariously between authoritarianism and return to at least some semblance of democracy, former President Mohamed Nasheed told TOI in an exclusive interaction that it was imperative for India to act against the Abdulla Yameen government for 2 reasons - Chinese land grab and increasing radicalisation. He said that, if he returned to power, he'd seek an international convention against land grab and force China also to sign it.

According to Nasheed, the Chinese have taken control of as many as 17 islands in the Maldives. The Chinese have apparently promised to invest nearly $40 million in each of these islands and this has raised doubts about the purpose behind the acquisition of these islands. On radicalisation, Nasheed said India should be worried because the Maldivian fighters returning from Syria and Iraq had embedded themselves in the local police and defence forces.

TOP COMMENT

I think everyone should watch the "China Uncensored" youtube channel. I knew China is an aggressor and a bully, but I didn''t realize how they manipulate these poor countries in the name o... Read More

Jignesh Patel

As the main face of the joint opposition, the MDP leader is one of the lead players in what is the worst political crisis to have hit the country since the coup which dislodged Nasheed, the first democratically elected president. While the Maldives Supreme Court has now revoked its earlier ruling ordering release of political prisoners including Nasheed, he said it was important to complete the process of judicial reforms to ensure the judiciary wasn't biased.

Excerpts:

Q: There's emergency in Maldives for 15 days. What happens after that?

A: If the situation remains as it is, within 15 days Yameen is bound to get majority by hook or by crook. He'd arrest some of the MPs or get the Supreme Court, his Supreme Court, to decide on the 12 (those reinstated by the SC ruling) MPs again and then go to Parliament and deliberate on the emergency. The emergency was to suppress people and he will lift it after he has achieved his goals.

Q: The chief justice is still in jail? Is the SC now under Yameen's control?

A: I am a man of a modest means but I am trying to give his family moral support. We are trying to highlight his plight. We are trying to get India to come and release him. I can't understand how our president is able to arrest our chief justice, occupy our Parliament and still pretend it's business as usual.

Q: You want military intervention by India but there are few takers for that call as of now.

A: Military is an extension of diplomacy. When diplomatic means fail, that does not mean you step back. Your problem remains. You only engaged diplomatically because there was a problem. You still have to solve the problem. It's another issue whether India listens or not. I have my views. It's not just our problem. It's your problem as well. In my views, 2 issues make it India's problem. Radical Islam and land grab.

Q: Is it true that Maldives has contributed largest number of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq in terms of per capita?

A: It is true. We have imported a very radical version of Islam and it has created a breeding ground of jehadi terrorism. We are in this very unfortunate situation where there's a network that can recruit people to go and fight in foreign land. And while they have been coming back since ISIS got flushed out in Iraq and Syria, they have embedded themselves in strategic places within our military, police, customs and immigration. Therefore, there is a state within a state. If you look at the past 4 years and the 23 murders which have taken place...in each of these foes were identified and executed. This state within state has created gangs in Male which act as their religious police. They are eating into the military from inside and I'd say they're poised to take over.

Q: By land grab you obviously mean China...

A: I don't think this is a bilateral problem. We should deal with it multilaterally. I think it's an international issue and and international human rights issue. It has to do with separation, colonialism and the act of grabbing land. In land grab concepts, you have internal and external drivers. He has facilitated through legislation avenues to grab land, whether it is the SEZs or the land reforms to the Constitution. Also the manner in which he has suppressed the media. No other country (other than China) is engaged in it. I am only talking about what's happening in the Maldives but China is very much in the Maldives. No other country is driving that kind of process. We know that they have 17 islands now where they talking about investing $ 40 million but we don't really know what is the purpose for that.

Q: Assuming you come back to power, what do you propose to do about it?

A: I'd seek help from other countries to propagate and international convention on land grab...and force China to sign it. You can't propagate dictatorship in the name of development assistance.

Q: But isn't your call for military action dangerous?

A: I am not really looking at the gunboat diplomacy of the 19th century here. We want something more imaginative with soft power involved in it...or the necessary muscle power. So it doesn't have to be messy military adventurism. Doesn't have to be blood on the ground. It has to be carefully calibrated and I think India has the capacity to do that.

Q: That would still risk a military intervention by the Chinese considering the stakes it has in Maldives now...

A: Beyond my concerns for the Maldives, I'm also an islander and am worried about the Indian Ocean region. Indians should be worried too. We don't want to see any military conflict between India and China anywhere. But again, we'd like Chinese FDI to be just FDI. Nothing more than that. For that to happen, we have to have rules. A rules based international system. We don't know if China has even registered the FTA with WTO. Anyway, WTO is probably not the appropriate platform to deal with this because it's not just about trade. There are other elements involved. We are finding that some Investments are not based on market mechanisms like returns or your normal economics.

Q: Yameen in fact has said that he is willing to hold early elections...

A: That's a silly thing to say because we have a fixed presidential system and there can't be early elections. But India must ensure free, fair and inclusive elections. Only India can play that role as it's the only game-changing power in the Maldives. India is also not seen as an occupying power. One reason why Maldives is now a middle income country is SBI which lent to us and helped develop our tourism industry.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/nasheed-calls-for-international-convention-to-deal-with-chinese-land-grab-in-maldives-says-ex-is-fighters-embedded-in-army/articleshow/62856893.cms

 

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/i-was-forced-to-quit,-will-continue-working-for-hindu-muslim-unity--salman-nadwi/d/114238

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