New Age Islam
Wed Nov 25 2020, 12:18 AM

Islamic World News ( 5 Jun 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Imams Refuse Funeral Prayers to 'Indefensible' London Bridge Attackers


















People lay flowers after a vigil for victims of Saturday’s attack, at Potter’s Field park in London. Photograph: Tim Ireland/AP

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Imams Refuse Funeral Prayers to 'Indefensible' London Bridge Attackers

Zakir Musa Slams Indian Muslims for Not Joining Jihad, Calls Them ‘World’s Most Shameless'

Most Indonesians Are Opposed to Islamic State, Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia: Survey

Islam Brought To Sub-Saharan Africa by Traders, Holy Men, Teachers, Not Military Conquest

US State Department Confirms $750 Million Military Sale to Saudi

 

Europe

Imams Refuse Funeral Prayers To 'Indefensible' London Bridge Attackers

Man Places £50k Bounty On Own Head for Any ISIS Terrorist That Kills Him

London attack: Pakistan-origin man among three attackers

London Bridge attack: terror threat in UK now at 'completely different' level

Germany says has no choice but to pull forces from Turkish airbase

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India

Zakir Musa Slams Indian Muslims for Not Joining Jihad, Calls Them ‘World’s Most Shameless'

Kerala Muslim organisations will work to ensure plastic-free Iftars in the state

RSS Leader Indresh Kumar Asks Muslims to ‘Give Up Gosht’

4 Indians, 1 Pakistani plead guilty in 'massive' US call centre scam

Arab nations cut ties with Qatar over ‘terror links’, MEA worried about 6.5 lakh Indians living there

Goa based advocate demands ban on Facebook pages of Zakir Naik, Islamic Research Foundation

Yasin Bhatkal claims he’s not getting enough food, court seeks Tihar reply

‘Terror funding charge tough to prove without paper trail’

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Southeast Asia

Most Indonesians Are Opposed to Islamic State, Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia: Survey

US Gives Philippines Weapons to Combat ISIS in Marawi

Defense Minister Urges Closer Regional Cooperation to Combat Terrorism

U.S.-Indonesia and U.S.-Malaysia Relations in the Trump Era

UMNO’s hand in Malaysian Islamic law

Lawyers support police's fight against radicalism, intolerance

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Africa

Islam Brought To Sub-Saharan Africa by Traders, Holy Men, Teachers, Not Military Conquest

Libya’s Eastern-Based Government to Investigate ‘Qatar’s Crimes

Bodies of Seven Migrants Found From Truck in Libya

Cameroon arrests soldiers demanding bonuses

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Arab World

US State Department Confirms $750 Million Military Sale to Saudi

Syrian, Russian Warplanes Turn Eastern Homs into Hell for ISIL Terrorists

Syrian Army Purges Eastern Aleppo of ISIL Terrorists

Several Terrorists Killed, Injured in Roadside Bomb Attack in Syria's Idlib

US-Led Coalition Sets up 2nd Military Base at Syria's Border with Iraq

Syrian Army Wins back More Strategic Heights in Eastern Homs

Terrorists' Heavy Offensive Repulsed by Syrian Army in Deir Ezzur

Egypt joins several GCC countries in severing ties with Qatar

UAE minister Gargash tweets on what lies behind decision to cut Qatar ties

Saudi cabinet says Qatar ‘violated charters and neighborly ties’

Militants shoot down Syrian fighter jet: Monitoring group

100,000 children in dangerous conditions in Iraq’s Mosul: UNICEF

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North America

US Lawmaker on Suspected Islamic Radicals: ‘Kill Them All’

Trump Seizes On London Attack to Push Domestic Crackdown

Donald Trump’s response to the London Bridge attack embarrassed America

Time to reassess the Muslim Brotherhood

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Mideast

Israeli Protesters Call for End to 50-Year Occupation of Palestine

Turkey Warns US-Based Fethullah Gulen Could Lose Citizenship

Tens of Sudanese Mercenaries Killed, Wounded in Yemen

Turkey’s Influence Network in Europe Is Leading to Tension

Turkey’s Erdoğan in phone diplomacy for resolution of Qatar crisis

Houthi militia leaders, Iran come to Qatar’s defense after severance of ties

Yemeni government cuts diplomatic ties with Qatar

Houthi militias shell residential neighborhoods in Taiz

China says will support Iran’s full membership in SCO

Iran urges explicit dialogue between Qatar, Persian Gulf states

Turkey to strip 130 people of citizenship on terror charges

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Pakistan

Pakistan Parliament to Take Final Decision on Military Alliance with Saudi Arabia

Pakistan in a Fix over Qatar Crisis

PUC condemns terrorism, issues decree against KSA, UK and Kabul attacks

‘Religious parties may form electoral alliance,’ says Islamic Tehrik’s general secretary

IHC directs Pemra to ensure observance of Ramazan guidelines

Sharifs lost only 'money trail' as Qatari Prince not appearing before JIT: Imran

Pakistan awaits Trump admin to clarify strategy on Afghanistan: Aizaz

Six workers freed from Taliban after a year

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South Asia

Myanmar’s Rakhine Lawmakers Want More ‘Ethnic Villages’ in Muslim-Majority Areas

Taliban Suffer Heavy Casualties in Maidan Wardak Airstrike: MoD

Kabul to host peace summit after week of deadly violence

Weary Afghan army fights on as US weighs troop increase

Sectarian violence flares up in south-east Bangladesh

Taliban insurgents suffer casualties in Uruzgan infighting

Kabul Process summit kicks off amid political and security instability

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Australia

Passengers jump from plane at Australian airport in bomb hoax: media

Melbourne siege 'a terrorist attack': Australian PM

Police investigate if Australia hostage crisis was terror related

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/imams-refuse-funeral-prayers-to--indefensible--london-bridge-attackers/d/111434

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Imams Refuse Funeral Prayers to 'Indefensible' London Bridge Attackers

5 June 2017

More than 130 imams and Muslim religious leaders have said they will refuse to say funeral prayers for the perpetrators of Saturday’s attack in London.

In a highly unusual move, Muslim religious figures from across the country and from different schools of Islam said their pain at the suffering of the victims and their families led them to refuse to perform the traditional Islamic prayer – a ritual normally performed for every Muslim regardless of their actions. They called on others to do the same.

They expressed “shock and utter disgust at these cold-blooded murders”, adding: “We will not perform the traditional Islamic funeral prayer over the perpetrators and we also urge fellow imams and religious authorities to withdraw such a privilege. This is because such indefensible actions are completely at odds with the lofty teachings of Islam.”

Their move came as senior Muslims and community leaders said they would redouble efforts to root out extremism in their communities after the attack in London on Saturday.

The Metropolitan police commander for engagement, Mak Chishty, the highest-ranking officer of Muslim faith, called for “a step-change – a different direction and a different movement to counter the scourge of terrorism, extremism and hatred that we have in our communities at present”.

In a statement he read out on behalf of Muslim communities, Chishty said: “It is the Islamic duty of every Muslim to be loyal to the country in which they live. We are now asking questions to understand how extremism and hatred has taken hold within some elements of our own communities.”

Harun Khan, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain umbrella organisation, expressed his anger over the London Bridge attack, saying: “We want to do something about it.”

Speaking on behalf of the MCB’s affiliates, he said: “That is why we agree with the prime minister that things must change. Enough is enough. We are ready to have those difficult conversations, as equal citizens with an equal stake in this fight.”

Khan said it was in everyone’s interest to stop the perpetrators of such attacks. “We know that many of these people have previously led a life of delinquency. It is often the case that the path towards extremism is outside of the mosque and at the margins of society,” he said. “We are all grappling with this hateful ideology. This is an ideology that makes killing and hating cool, and uses the words of Islam as a cloak to justify it.”

Mosques would be encouraged to report suspicious activity. “We will also extend our hand of partnership and cooperation to the government and prime minister, to work together to keep our country safe,” said Khan.

Under the banner of “one London, one community” at the East London mosque, Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders condemned the attack and called for unity.

Muhammad Habibur-Rahman, the mosque’s chairman, described the perpetrators as “evil terrorists” who espoused a “twisted narrative and perversion of the religion of Islam”. The mosque had stopped extremists at the door, he said, but they “continue to harass our worshippers” and “their hatred of mainstream Muslims rivals that of the extreme right”.

Mehri Niknam, of the Joseph Interfaith Foundation which comprises Jews and Muslims, welcomed the statements but added: “To condemn is only half way. We must also actively confront loudly and clearly.”

Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, said religious leaders must take responsibility for tackling actions taken in the name of faith. “Throughout history, religious tradition and scriptures have been twisted and misused by people” to justify violence, Welby told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He said the behaviour of religious leaders sometimes permitted and encouraged that: “If something is happening in our faith tradition, we have to take responsibility for being very clear in countering it.”

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/05/imams-refuse-funeral-prayers-to-indefensible-london-bridge-attackers

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Zakir Musa slams Indian Muslims for not joining jihad, calls them ‘world’s most shameless'

Aarti Tikoo Singh

Jun 6, 2017

NEW DELHI: Former Hizbul Mujahideen commander Zakir Musa, in his first message as an al-Qaeda operative, released an audio recording on Monday slamming Indian Muslims for not joining Islamic jihad for 'Ghazwa-e-Hind' (the final and last battle for the conquest of India).

Two senior Jammu & Kashmir police officers confirmed it was Musa's voice. Invoking the recent "atrocities" against Muslims in India, Musa reiterated that the war was not just limited to Kashmir. "It's a war between Islam and the infidel," he declared in his first direct address to Indian Muslims in an audio clip shared via Telegram and WhatsApp groups. Against a black al-Qaeda banner, with a world map added along with and two Kalashnikovs rifles emblazoned on two sides, Musa spoke in Kashmiri-accented Urdu.

Recalling multiple instances of lynching of Muslims by cow-vigilantes, Musa shamed Indian Muslims for not standing up for the victims.

In his rant against Indian Muslims, Musa said, "They are the most shameless Muslims in the world. They should be ashamed of calling themselves Muslims. Our sisters are getting abused and dishonoured and Indian Muslims keep screaming that 'Islam is peace'."

"They (Indian Muslims) are the most 'beghairat qaum' (shameless community) who cannot speak up against oppression and injustice. Is this what our Prophet and his 'salafs' (followers) have taught us? They gave their blood during the wars and martyrdom for the honour of our sisters," Musa said.

Referring to the historic Islamic 'Jung-e-Badr', he said, "They were 313 and ruled the world. We are crores now but only as slaves."

Warning Indian Muslims, Musa said, "You still have a chance to stand up and join us. Come forward or it will be too late for you." Show cow vigilantes "the muscle of Islam and Muslim community", he said.

Read this story in Gujarati

The audio clip was interspersed with various Islamic quotes both in English and Urdu and pictures of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden killed by US Navy Seals in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in 2011.

"The fact that the whole world is against one religion shows just how powerful that religion is #Islam (sic)," a background quote read.

The clip carried a background display of al Qaeda's noted motivator and recruiter Imam Anwar al Awlaki (killed in Yemen in 2011) picture and quote, "The end result is that Islam will win."

In an indirect reference to the Hurriyat that has been insisting on resolution of the Kashmir issue under the UN resolutions, Musa said, quoting bin Laden, "If they want to solve our tragedies of today in the United Nations, then they are merely hypocrites who are seeking to deceive Allah and his messenger and the believers. Are not all our tragedies only because of the UN?"

The producer of the audio clip seemed to be some N N Ach whose initials were inscribed at the bottom, implying that Musa and his group are tech-savvy and have resources to create such high-end content.

"We will take revenge of each murder and every atrocity committed against a Muslim and establish Sharia not just in India but across the world," he warned.

He also refuted the claims of some unidentified masked terrorists that they belong to Zakir Musa's group and they helped police to kill Hizbul commander Sabzar Bhat.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/zakir-musa-slams-indian-muslims-for-not-joining-jihad-calls-them-worlds-most-shameless/articleshow/59010014.cms

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Most Indonesians Are Opposed to Islamic State, Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia: Survey

June 6, 2017

Jakarta. The majority of Indonesians oppose the Islamic State movement and Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, or HTI — the local chapter of an international Muslim organization seeking to establish a theocratic state comprising all Muslim countries — a national survey conducted by the Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting, or SMRC, revealed.

"Our survey has shown that nine out of 10 [or 89.3 percent of] Indonesians believe that IS a threat to Indonesia, and 92.9 percent said that IS should be expelled from the country," SMRC chairman Saiful Mujani said on Sunday (04/06), as quoted by BeritaSatu.com.

According to Saiful, the survey also revealed that many Indonesians are opposed to HTI's presence in the country.

From the 28.2 percent of respondents who had heard of HTI, 68.6 percent of them opposed the organization's missions. From the 75.4 percent of respondents aware of the government's move to ban the organization, 78.4 percent supported the decision.

The survey also attempted to understand what influenced the public's attitude towards IS and HTI. According to the survey, the respondent's said that their resistance to IS was mostly due to their sense of nationalism.

Respondent's said that political, legal and economic instability and tension were reasons that likely led people to having a more favorable attitude towards HTI.

"So if the public's [attitude is reflective of] the attitude of the majority, then IS, HTI and the likes are Indonesia's public enemy," Saiful said.

Asked about how proud they were to be an Indonesian citizen, 62.5 percent respondents said that they were very proud to be an Indonesian citizen and 36.5 percent said that they were somewhat proud. Those who said they were less than proud, or not proud to be an Indonesian, was 0.5 percent.

The survey also revealed that 9.2 percent of Indonesians think that the current system should be replaced by an Islamic caliphate. But 79.3 percent of respondents said that the current democratic system of government is what is best for Indonesia and the remaining 11.5 percent of respondents claimed not to know or chose not to answer.

The poll surveyed 1,500 respondents, who were randomly selected from across the country. SMRC said the results have a 2.7 percent margin of error and a trust level of 95 percent.

http://jakartaglobe.id/news/most-indonesians-are-opposed-to-islamic-state-and-hizbut-tahrir-indonesia-survey/

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Islam Brought To Sub-Saharan Africa by Traders, Holy Men, Teachers, Not Military Conquest

JUNE 5, 2017

by Jehron Muhammad

In contrast to its arrival in North Africa, where Islam had been brought by invading Arabs, the spread of Islam in sub-Saharan Africa followed a mostly peaceful and unobtrusive path.

Religious wars of jihad came late – in the 18th and in the 19th centuries – and Islam was diffused not by outsiders (except in the early years) but by indigenous traders, clerics and rulers. These carriers of faith were natives and therefore identified culturally and socially, as well as ethnically with the potential converts,” writes Sylviane A. Diouf in her historic 1998 book, Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in The Americas.

So when the Western press reported that Timbuktu, the historic African city of learning and scholarship, fell under the domination in 2012 of the Islamist group Al-Qaeda, it failed to mention that its inhabitants were Muslim and the city had historically been home to early Islamic literature and learning.

“The early Arab writers that looked at Islam in sub-Saharan Africa, as some kind of syncretic (blending) or mixture between African tradition and Islam…That is the wrong word to use,” said Chekh Anta Babou, a Ph.D. who specializes in Islam in Africa.

“As it relates to (the advent of) Islam, there has been a long process of what I call incubation, or what you might say a long conversation that (has) lasted for centuries between Islam and African traditional religions,” said Babou, an associate professor in history at the University of Pennsylvania. “So what resulted is the consequences of a very long conversation rather than the imposition of a dominant political and military power.”

Islam, according to Babou, was brought to sub-Saharan Africa “by traders, by holy men and by teachers, across the Sahara.

Babou also cautioned that Muslims shouldn’t reduce the religion to mandates of “a long beard or short pants … or dressing a certain way. “That’s what (makes) transforming religion into a bunch of gestures dangerous.” He said Muslims must take the “spirit of the law instead of a directional approach because then wherever you are,” your outward expression still helps define your faith.

In Senegal, his native land the weather is quite warm, and he said women can wear what they want, as long as it is modest.

“When the book says to Prophet Muhammad’s wife to dress modestly, don’t show your adornment. That is what the message (to the wider community) is. A women can dress in a way that respects modesty in the local culture,” Babou said.

Unlike in some Middle Eastern countries, in West Africa, the women are in the market, and performing other duties.  They are not confined to home, he said.

http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/commentary/islam-sub-saharan-africa-traders-teachers-Penn-professor-Chekh-Anta-Babou.html

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US State Department confirms $750 million military sale to Saudi

Jun 5, 2017

The US State Department confirms a $750 million military sale to Saudi Arabia as part of a huge deal sealed by President Donald Trump, says the Pentagon.

The Pentagon said on its website on Monday that the sale would include a "blanket order training program" for the Royal Saudi Air Force and other Saudi forces inside and outside the kingdom, Reuters reported.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which implements foreign arms sales, notified US Congress of the sale on Friday, giving lawmakers 30 days to reconsider the sale, an unconventional measure.

Saudi Arabia has agreed to buy $110 billion of US weapons, with options to buy up to $350 billion over 10 years.

The first stop on Trump's first overseas trip was Riyadh, where he announced the arms deal on May 20.

Reportedly brokered by the Republican president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, the package includes American missiles, bombs, armored personnel carriers, warships and munitions.

The US has been the main supplier of arms to the monarchy.

The announcement came at a time that the kingdom announced it was severing ties with its key regional ally Qatar, a move being copied by some other Arab states, such as the UAE and Egypt.

Apart from that, Saudi Arabia has been incessantly pounding Yemen since March 2015.

http://217.218.67.231/Detail/2017/06/05/524320/US-State-Department-confirms-750-million-military-sale-to-Saudi

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Europe

 

Man Places £50k Bounty On Own Head for Any ISIS Terrorist That Kills Him

June 6, 2017

A journalist has invited any Isis terrorist to a sword duel for a £50,000 reward on his own head after seven people were killed in the attack on London Bridge, reported The Independent.

Andre Walker, a New York Observer columnist, posted a photo of himself on the Westminster terrace by the Thames, holding what appeared to be a sword with both hands.

“A bounty on my head. Any #ISIS terrorist that kills me gets £50k. I'll give my address. No police. But I've got a sword. Good luck,” he tweeted.

He added: "I'm not worried about looking silly, nor am I worried about #ISIS... Come on lads, have a crack."

The reaction to the tweets was mixed, with some people on social media engaging in humour while others criticised the post for its timing.

“Not sure what point you're making with this,” one person commented.

“So let's get this straight. You're offering to fund terrorism?” another person asked.

A third said: “Probably illegal to carry a sword around in the street like that. This is the dumbest thing I've seen on twitter so far this morning.”

Mr Walker said the reason for his offer was “very simple”.

“[…] fight someone who is a fair opponent. No honour in running over children,” he responded online.

The social media post comes hours after seven people were killed and 48 injured in the third terrorist attack in the UK since March.

"As a Mancunian I was devastated about the terror attack at Manchester Arena," Mr Walker told The Independent. "These cowards want to blow up little girls, and run over tourists.

"As a freeman of the City of London I have a sword. And my offer to any terrorist is this: why don't you pick on someone your own size."

Three male suspects were shot and killed within eight minutes of the first call to emergency services just after 10pm on Saturday evening.

The men had rented a white van and ploughed into bystanders on London Bridge, before exiting the vehicle and randomly stabbing people in pubs and bars near Borough Market.

Many people were rushed to hospital and remain in critical condition.

On social media, members of the public and politicians vowed not to be divided by terrorism.

Main political parties said they would suspend their campaigns.

The Manchester Arena concert, in honour of the 22 victims who were killed in an explosion last month, will go ahead on Sunday.

People responded negatively to a CNN report that the streets around London Bridge remained “eerily quiet”, and a New York Times headline which claimed the city was still “reeling” after the attack in Manchester.

"Woman on CNN talking about London's streets being eerily quiet. Mate, it's Sunday. They're not cowering in fear, they're having a lie in," responded one social media user.

http://nation.com.pk/international/05-Jun-2017/man-places-50k-bounty-on-own-head-for-any-isis-terrorist-that-kills-him

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London attack: Pakistan-origin man among three attackers

Jun 6, 2017

LONDON: British police and security services had previously investigated one of the Islamist militants who carried out Saturday's attack in London, but with resources scarce, he was not deemed enough of a threat to warrant close monitoring, police said on Monday.

The news raise questions both about the police's judgement, and increases pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May, who three days before a national election is facing criticism for overseeing cuts to police during her years as interior minister.

In Britain's third Islamist attack in as many months, three men rammed a van into pedestrians on London Bridge before running into the Borough Market nightlife area, where they slit throats and stabbed people indiscriminately. Seven people were killed and dozens wounded.

All three attackers were shot dead by police, who made at least a dozen arrests in east London on Sunday and carried out further raids on Monday morning.

Police named two of the three attackers on Monday and said they were trying to identify the third.

One, 27-year-old Khuram Shazad Butt, was a British citizen born in Pakistan who had already been investigated by police and Britain's domestic spy agency MI5.

"However, there was no intelligence to suggest that this attack was being planned, and the investigation had been prioritised accordingly," police said.

Another attacker, 30-year-old Rachid Redouane, went by the alias Rachid Elkhdar and claimed to be Moroccan or Libyan, police said. He and Butt lived in the same area of east London.

One of Butt's neighbours, Ikenna Chigbo, told Reuters he had chatted with Butt - known locally as "Abz" - just hours before the attack on Saturday and said he appeared "almost euphoric".

"He was very sociable, seemed like an ordinary family man. He would always bring his kid out into the lobby."

Another neighbour, Michael Mimbo, told Reuters that Butt supported the north London football team Arsenal. One of the dead attackers has been pictured wearing an Arsenal shirt.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/london-attack-pakistani-origin-man-among-three-attackers/articleshow/59009159.cms

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London Bridge attack: terror threat in UK now at 'completely different' level

6 June 2017

Britain will need to radically change its strategy to stop jihadi attacks because the threat is now at a “completely different” level of danger, according to the country’s top counter-terrorism officer.

Mark Rowley, the Metropolitan police assistant commissioner, said the changes could cover police, MI5, communities, technology companies, the law and other policies.

Rowley outlined his blueprint as police admitted that Khuram Shazad Butt, the London Bridge attacker pictured in a football shirt with a hoax suicide bomb belt, had been investigated in 2015 but ruled out as a potential terrorist attacker.

The assistant commissioner admitted Butt had been categorised as not posing a risk of attack two years ago.

Butt, Rachid Redouane and a third man not yet named by police hit people with a van on London Bridge and then went on to stab others on Saturday night. Seven people were killed and at least 48 were injured. The attackers were killed in a hail of 46 bullets fired by eight police officers.

The attack came after atrocities in Westminster on 22 March and Manchester on 22 May, with suspected attack plots foiled in between, one of which was by chance.

Rowley said: “In nine weeks, we’ve had five plots foiled and three successful attacks. That is completely different to anything we have seen for a long time. As the prime minister has indicated, we’re going to need to do some things differently.

“We’re going to have to think again about the next iteration of our police and security service model, which has constantly had to innovate over many decades.”

He said of Butt: “We will probably discover information on covert communications that were [not in] our knowledge that if we had access to those communications it may have changed our judgment.”

At a press briefing with questions mounting about what the authorities knew, Rowley said: “Khuram Shazad Butt was known to the police and MI5. But there was no intelligence to suggest that this attack was being planned and the investigation had been prioritised accordingly.”

Counter-terrorism sources have been warning of an increasing workload since 2014 following the rise of Islamic State and its declaration of a caliphate which 900 Britons are believed to have traveled to.

There are 3,000 people suspected of jihadi activity – Butt was in this pool – and 20,000 former suspects, who included Manchester Arena suicide bomber Salman Abedi.

Rowley said more would be asked of communities to challenge extremism, and of the private sector, believed to be a reference to internet companies. He said the new government would “want to wrestle again with legal and policy issues”.

The Met’s commissioner, Cressida Dick, warned of a “new reality” of terrorist threat after the attacks on London Bridge and Borough Market. Into this mix come fears about battle-hardened Britons returning from Isis-held territory in Syria as the terrorist group loses territory, adding to the threat.

Two of the attacks have come since the general election was called, catapulting security into the political debate.

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, backed calls for Theresa May to resign, saying: “We should never have cut the police numbers”. They fell by 20,000 while she was home secretary.

May responded that she gave police extra powers to deal with terrorism, which Corbyn had opposed when he was a backbench MP.

“Jeremy Corbyn has boasted that he has opposed those powers and opposed the powers for anti-terror actions throughout his time in parliament,” she said. “And I also support, absolutely, shoot-to-kill and I think what we saw on our streets on Saturday was how important that was.”

On Monday, 36 people remained in hospital, 18 in a critical condition.

The family of James McMullan, a 32-year-old from London, said they believed he was among the dead. His sister, Melanie McMullan, said police had found his bank card on a body at the scene.

It emerged that Christine Archibald from British Columbia in Canada died in the arms of her fiance, Tyler Ferguson. The French government confirmed that a French man was killed and French media reported that seven people from France were injured, four of them critically.

Crowds gathered outside City Hall for a vigil for the victims on Monday night where the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, the home secretary, Amber Rudd, and shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, laid white roses.

The investigation into the attacks involved two more raids on Monday in Newham and Barking, east London, as police tried to establish if the three attackers had any help. The Renault van used to stage the attack was hired just before the attack, police said. . Police said all 12 people arrested following the attacks were released without charge.

Police named the second attacker as Rachid Redouane, 30, who claimed to be Moroccan and Libyan. He was not known to police and MI5 before the attack on Saturday. The third attacker has not been named.

Full report at:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/05/britain-faces-different-level-of-terror-threat-after-london-bridge-attacks

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Germany says has no choice but to pull forces from Turkish airbase

June 6, 2017

ANKARA - Germany will have to pull its forces out of the Incirlik air force base in southern Turkey because of Turkish government restrictions on German lawmakers seeking to visit troops there, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Monday.

Gabriel was speaking after a meeting in Ankara with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, which had aimed to address the standoff over Incirlik and other diplomatic tensions between the two NATO allies.

“My Turkish colleague explained to me that in the current situation, Turkey is not able to allow every visit by German parliamentarians to Incirlik - for domestic reasons,” Gabriel told a news conference.

“I regret that. Conversely, I ask for understanding that we - for domestic political reasons - must transfer soldiers out of Incirlik, because the German parliament has a parliamentary army and places value on German lawmakers being able to visit Bundeswehr soldiers at any time.”

Shortly after he spoke, sources in Prime Minister Binali Yildirim’s office said the Turkish premier had cancelled a planned meeting with Gabriel, citing a busy work schedule.

Turkey’s ties with Germany and other European Union states deteriorated sharply in the run-up to Turkey’s April 16 referendum that handed President Tayyip Erdogan stronger presidential powers.

Germany, citing security concerns, banned some Turkish politicians from addressing rallies of expatriate Turks before the referendum. Ankara responded by accusing Berlin of “Nazi-like” tactics, drawing rebukes from Berlin.

Turkey has prevented German lawmakers from visiting the roughly 250 troops stationed at Incirlik as part of the US-led coalition against Islamic State, saying that Germany needs to improve its attitude first.

The troops are part of a German mission providing reconnaissance aircraft to support coalition operations in Iraq and Syria.

The two countries did not want the decision to transfer soldiers out of Incirlik to “further worsen our relationship”, Gabriel said, and they both seek to restore the “good times” between Germany and Turkey.

“We believe that when we have settled this problem ... then we will have the chance to work on all the other points where we are firmly convinced that we have common interests”.

Aside from the Incirlik dispute, Germany has expressed concern about the security crackdown in Turkey after last year’s failed coup. Some 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended from their jobs and 50,000 people jailed pending trial.

Turkish officials say the steps are necessary because of the gravity of the coup attempt, which killed 240 people. But critics in Turkey and abroad say Erdogan is using the failed coup as a pretext to muzzle dissent and purge opponents.

German officials said last month that 414 Turkish citizens with diplomatic passports and other government work permits had requested asylum since the attempted putsch. Berlin’s interior ministry has confirmed that asylum requests had been approved for a number of them, a move that angered Ankara.

“Those who seek asylum to escape Turkey and have been mixed up in the coup should be extradited,” Cavusoglu told the news conference.

He said relations between the two countries, as well as regional cooperation, had suffered recently. “If Germany takes one step towards us, we can take two towards them, but we cannot overlook the current situation,” he said.

Commenting on the case of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel, whom Turkey arrested in February on a charge of spreading terrorist propaganda, Cavusoglu said there was a trend in Europe for intelligence agencies to use journalists as agents.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/06-Jun-2017/germany-says-has-no-choice-but-to-pull-forces-from-turkish-airbase

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India

 

Kerala Muslim organisations will work to ensure plastic-free Iftars in the state

June 5, 2017

By Shafeeq Hudawi, TwoCircles.net

Kozhikode: For Muslims, Ramadan is not only a time observe fast but also a month of celebrating togetherness through Iftars, the collective breaking of fast. Mosques, institutions, markets and public places host Iftar during the holy month, and in Kerala, which has over 30,000 mosques, the situation is no different. However, what makes this year’s Iftars slightly different is the decision by Muslim organisations in the state to discourage the use of plastic as far as possible during the Iftar.

IUML leader Panakkad Syed Hyderali Shihab Thangal has appealed to the public to abstain from using plastic for Iftar. Hyderali Shihab Thangal is the state president of Sunni Mahallu Federation (SMF), the upper body of mosques, run by Samastha Kerala Jamiyyathul Ulama.

In lines with Thangal’s statement, SMF is all set to issue a circular to mosques asking them to abstain from the use of plastic. “SMF and Muslim leadership are aware of the cause. We are looking to issue a circular which includes a guideline on how the green protocol should be followed,” SMF functionary P K Latheef Faizy told Twocircles.net.

As per the plan, each mosque will be told to abstain from using plastic and replace it with other, more eco-friendly alternatives. 

Ahead of Ramadan, Muslim strongholds like Malappuram, Ponnani and Kozhikode hosted meetings of mosque functionaries and local administration authorities in a bid to ensure zero-plastic Iftars. In Thiruvananthapuram, a joint meeting of various organizations decided to make Iftars plastic free.

In Malappuram, district collector Amit Meena addressed Muslims at Masjidul Fathu after Friday prayers and requested the public and mosque committees to follow green protocol and maximum minimise use of plastic during Iftar. Starting with the Islamic salutation Assalamu Alaikum, the collector said, “Ramadan fasting should ensure cleaning of one’s mind and premises.”

SMF has decided to launch state, district and village-level campaigns in order to increase public awareness on this issue.

“It’s high time we think about such reformative steps. It may bring very little effect this year. But, today’s steps will have strong and far reaching effect,” said Latheef Faizy.

Meanwhile, Youth League leader Panakkad Syed Munavvar Ali Shihab Thangal said the plan could be easily executed by using organisational network. “Each group has a  strong network in the district. The leadership can easily convey this message up to the local level and ensure all mosques and institutions are following the green protocol,” he said.

http://twocircles.net/2017jun05/410738.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Twocirclesnet-IndianMuslim+%28TwoCircles.net+-+Indian+Muslim+News%29

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RSS leader Indresh Kumar asks Muslims to ‘give up gosht’

by Aranya Shankar

June 6, 2017

Students of Jamia Millia Islamia, protesting against the presence of RSS leader Indresh Kumar at an iftaar party organised by the RSS’s Muslim wing at the university, clashed with police on Monday evening.

Even as students, who were protesting outside Gate No. 7 of the varsity, alleged they were beaten up and detained, Kumar, speaking at the event, appealed to all Indian Muslims not to have “gosht” as it was a “beemari”, and urged them to include cow milk in their sherbet.

The iftaar party, organised by the Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM), was set to see varsity vice-chancellor Talat Ahmad share the stage with Kumar. However, Ahmad gave the event a miss. Speaking to reporters inside the university sports complex, where the party was organised, Kumar said the MRM had made three primary appeals to the Muslims of India.

“First, during Ramzan, they should plant trees in their localities, lanes, mosques and dargahs so that pollution can be tackled and the environment can be protected. Second, they should keep Tulsi plant in their homes, because it’s called Rehan (Jannat ki Jhaad) in Arabian and isse jannat naseeb hogi,” he said.

Third, Kumar said that the Prophet and his heirs did not consume meat. “Meat is a disease… Milk is the cure.”

According to their advice, he said, whoever sacrifices animals and consumes them is eating poison.”

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/rss-leader-indresh-kumar-asks-muslims-to-give-up-gosht-4690878/

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4 Indians, 1 Pakistani plead guilty in 'massive' US call centre scam

Jun 6, 2017

WASHINGTON: Four Indians and one Pakistani have pleaded guilty to the charges for their role in a massive telephone impersonation fraud and money laundering scheme in the US perpetrated by India-based call centres, the US Department of Justice has said.

Three Indians - Rajubhai Patel (32), Viraj Patel (33), Dilip Kumar Ambal Patel (53), and a Pakistani national Fahad Ali (25) - pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy before US District Court Judge David Hittner of the Southern District of Texas.

Hardik Patel (31) an Indian national pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy before the same court on June 2.

Sentencing dates are pending for all five defendants, the Department of Justice said.

Based on the statements in his June 2 guilty plea, beginning August 2012, Hardik owned and managed the day-to-day operations of an India-based scam call centre before later leaving for the US.

While in India, in his capacity as a manager, Hardik communicated extensively via email, text, and other means with various India-based co-defendants to operate the scheme and exchange scripts used in the scheme, coordinate the processing of payments from scammed victims, obtain and exchange lead lists used by callers to target US victims, and exchange spreadsheets containing the personal identifying information (PII) of US persons misappropriated by the scammers to register reloadable cards used in the scheme.

He also managed worker payroll and kept detailed records of profits and expenses of various associated scam call centres.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/4-indians-1-pakistani-plead-guilty-in-call-centre-scam-in-us/articleshow/59011168.cms

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Arab nations cut ties with Qatar over ‘terror links’, MEA worried about 6.5 lakh Indians living there

Jun 6, 2017

Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE severed ties with Qatar on Monday and moved to cut off land, sea and air routes to the energy-rich nation, accusing it of supporting regional terror groups and Iran. Yemen, Libya's eastern-based government and the Maldives joined the ban later, plunging the international travel hub into chaos and igniting the biggest diplomatic crisis in the Gulf since the 1991 war against Iraq.

Global equity markets dipped along with oil prices amid concerns that the diplomatic rift may weaken a multi-national pact on crude output cuts. Qatar, which will host the 2022 Fifa World Cup and is home to a major US military base, is the world's biggest supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and a major supplier of condensate.

Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj said India didn't foresee any problems for its own relations in the Gulf as it "is an internal matter of GCC (Gulf Coordination Council)". "Our only concern is about Indians there. We are trying to find out if any Indians are stuck there," she said, steering clear of the Islamic world's latest implosion.

The government's response is surprising given that at last count there are over 6,50,000 Indian nationals living and working in Qatar, who outnumber native Qataris by almost 2:1.

"They (Gulf nations) have done this before, we hope things will get better soon," she said.

But it highlights the challenges and diplomatic balancing that India will have to conduct especially as it deepens economic and security relationship with the Gulf Arab states. Qatar's stock market tanked today while there are reports of people queuing up outside grocery stores to stock up if the Saudi blockade gets worse. Earlier, the traffic to Qatar was mainly from Kerala, but now the top source state is UP, followed by Bihar.

Qatar came under attack by the Saudi-led grouping+ of Bahrain, Egypt and UAE, Yemen (whatever exists of it) and surprisingly, Maldives, which cut off diplomatic ties as well as civil aviation and shipping ties days after a Qatar news agency report quoted the Qatar emir Sheikh Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani criticizing the growing targeting of Iran by the Sunni alliance.

Qatar, sharing the worlds largest gas field with Iran finds itself particularly vulnerable, although ironically Qatar follows the orthodox intolerant version Wahhabi Islam, just like Saudi Arabia.

In 2014, Saudi Arabia UAE and Egypt had isolated Qatar again, in protest against its support to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The blockade ended 10 months later, but Qatar continued on its path. In recent weeks, Qatar has apparently evicted Hamas activists from its country, and is fighting an unlikely duo, Israel-Saudi Arabia to get the US to move its base from Qatar.

In recent years, it has been clear that Qatar has been one of the biggest funders to the ISIS, though there have been reports of its ties to Hamas and Hezbollah, which puts it on collision course with Israel. Although it's equally true that Saudi Arabia has also supported hardline Islamist groups in and outside the region, so no moral superiority applies to either side.

The Saudi action against Qatar+ is mainly targeted at Iran, and seeks to punish any country that gets close to or acknowledges Iran's growing power. Qatar's sheikh Tamim recently made headlines by speaking to Hassan Rouhani on the phone after he won the Iran presidential elections.

Qatar has played a mediatory role as well, hosting the Afghan Taliban in an office in Doha, which they converted into an "embassy", prompting widespread criticism. But it has remained a place where countries and groups hoping to start talks with the Taliban can meet them, even though they have been isolated by the Taliban core leadership in Pakistan. This has been a problem for India but India has held its nose.

But India takes over 90 per cent of its natural gas import from Qatar. In addition, Qatar is in the process of building a domestic airine in India. That itself puts India in a unique place. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand is among the top suppliers of oil to India. Hitherto neither side have used their foreign partners as leverage against the other. Its not yet clear how deep the present rift is at this point. India would be following the current crisis closely, particularly watching out for energy price spikes.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/qatar-saudi-arabia-spat-internal-our-only-concern-is-for-indians-living-there-says-sushma-swaraj/articleshow/59003830.cms

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Goa based advocate demands ban on Facebook pages of Zakir Naik, Islamic Research Foundation

June 5, 2017

A Goa based advocate on Monday sought for an immediate ban on the controversial Islamic preacher Dr. Zakir Naik and his organisation Islamic Research Foundation (IRF). Advocate Nagesh. C. Takbhate has filed a complaint with the Goa Police to register offense against active members, followers and fans of the IRF.

“The central government has received information that the statements and speeches made by Naik are objectionable and subversive in nature as he is proclaiming that every Muslim should be a terrorist and claiming that if Islam had wanted 80% of Indian population would have remained Hindus as they could have been converted ‘if we wanted’ by sword, justifying the suicide bombings, posting objectionable against Hindu Gods, claiming that Golden Temple may not be as sacred as Mecca and Medina. Furthermore, the Home Ministry had evidence that Naik has been encouraging and aiding its followers to promote disharmony between different religious communities and groups,” Takbhate said in his complaint.

“Thus, the Facebook page of Islamic Research Foundation(IRF) and its founder Dr. Zakir Naik should be blocked immediately and offense must be registered against Dr. Zakir Naik and its active members, followers, fans of the organisation,” he added.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/goa-based-advocate-demands-ban-on-facebook-pages-of-zakir-naik-islamic-research-foundation-4690463/

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Yasin Bhatkal claims he’s not getting enough food, court seeks Tihar reply

June 6, 2017

A Delhi court Monday sought a reply from Tihar Jail authorities after a plea by Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal alleged human rights violations and discriminatory behaviour by jail authorities.

Bhatkal alleged he is being denied “proper medical attention” and cooked food, especially during Ramzan. Bhatkal’s plea also sought a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Anti-Corruption Branch.

Additional Sessions Judge Siddarth Sharma has sought a reply from jail authorities by June 8. Tihar Jail authorities told The Indian Express that they will have to peruse the plea properly before commenting on it.

Bhatkal complained that during the month of Ramzan, the quantity and quality of food has gone down. “The applicant is fasting and has been denied food with his own money several times,” stated the plea.

He complained that eating under-cooked food has given him a stomach ache several times.

ASJ Sharma had, earlier this week, heard Bhatkal’s plea challenging solitary confinement in a high-security cell in Tihar.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/yasin-bhatkal-claims-hes-not-getting-enough-food-court-seeks-tihar-reply-4690871/

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‘Terror funding charge tough to prove without paper trail’

June 6, 2017

The NIA, probing alleged funding of Kashmiri separatists by Pakistan-based terror outfits, faces an up hill task to prove the charges, according to a senior Home Ministry official. The official said the NIA had collected a huge number of documents but the nature of these transactions was hardly on paper.

“The separatists have been receiving money through hawala channels without a paper trail. The raids were conducted with an aim to expose this racket. However, it will be a challenge to prove the charges,” said the ministry official. An NIA spokesperson said the agency will not be conducting raids any more and the next step would be to scrutinise the documents collected so far.

“We called a few persons and questioned them in Srinagar on Monday. The questioning of seven-eight persons will be done in the next two days,” said the NIA official. In its FIR, the agency has not named any separatist leader and has instead referred to them as “Hurriyat leaders”. Those named in the FIR are Lashkar-e-Toiba chief Hafeez Saeed, Hizbul Mujahideen and Dukhtaran-e-Milat.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/terror-funding-charge-tough-to-prove-without-paper-trail-4690797/

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Southeast Asia

 

US gives Philippines weapons to combat ISIS in Marawi

June 6, 2017

The United States (US) on Monday gave the Philippines hundreds of machine guns, pistols and grenade launchers, which a local commander said would be used against Islamic State (IS) militants battling troops in the southern city of Marawi.

The weapons, including machine guns capable of firing thousands of rounds a minute, were handed over at a ceremony in Manila that highlighted a decade-old American counter-terrorism assistance programme to the Philippines worth about $150 million.

“This equipment will enhance the (Philippine Marines') counter-terrorism capabilities, and help protect (troops) actively engaged in counter-terrorism operations in the southern Philippines,” a US embassy statement said.

Philippine Marines chief Major General Emmanuel Salamat said at the ceremony troops would use the weapons in the ongoing battle against IS militants in the southern city of Marawi.

Militants flying black Islamic State (IS) group flags rampaged through Marawi nearly two weeks ago, triggering clashes with troops and police that have left at least 178 people dead.

In response to the violence, President Rodrigo Duterte quickly declared martial law in the southern region of Mindanao to quell what he said was a fast-growing threat from IS there.

The Philippines and the United States have for decades been close allies, and they are bound by a 1951 mutual defence treaty to protect each other if attacked.

The United States is the Philippines' biggest supplier of military hardware and arms.

However Duterte, who took office last year, has sought to loosen the Philippines' ties with the United States while forging closer relations with China and Russia.

Duterte has called for the withdrawal of American troops from his country while scaling down joint military exercises in response to US criticism of his deadly war on drugs.

He has looked to China and Russia as new sources of weapons, and complained about the quality of “second-hand” American military hardware.

“I will not accept any more military equipment that is second hand. The ones the Americans are giving, I do not want that anymore,” Duterte said on Friday.

The equipment turned over on Monday was all new, according to US officers at the ceremony.

It included four M134D Gatling-style machine guns, which are capable of firing thousands of rounds a minute, as well as 300 M4 assault rifles and 100 grenade launchers.

http://nation.com.pk/international/05-Jun-2017/us-gives-philippines-weapons-to-combat-isis-in-marawi

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Defense Minister Urges Closer Regional Cooperation to Combat Terrorism

June 6, 2017

Jakarta. Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu on Sunday (04/06) urged strengthening regional multilateral cooperation to combat increased terrorism and Islamist radicalization in the Asia-Pacific region.

Speaking in Singapore at the 2017 Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual security conference attended by global leaders, Ryamizard called for closer security ties, saying that "no single country can deal with and resolve security threats independently," according to a statement released by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

The defense minister also emphasized the importance of taking a "soft power" approach to fight terrorism, combining deradicalization and social awareness programs with law enforcement prevention methods.

To reach those ends, he proposed the "establishment of a more concrete, pragmatic and concerted platform of regional cooperation and collaboration," citing a need to expand and include more countries in the existing Trilateral Agreement between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines to patrol the Sulu Sea.

Originally established to reduce piracy in the area, the trilateral agreement has since "expanded and extended to fight the development of Islamic State in the region," the minister said, adding that the pact also serves to resolve hostage situations, deter the free movement of terror groups and fight other forms of transnational crime.

The three countries are expected to launch joint air patrols this month in addition to their naval presence and to incorporate spy planes and drones to monitor activity in regional waters.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) encompasses more than 600 million people, though leaders have recently become concerned about the growth of radical movements in the region, especially in the face of recent terror attacks in Jakarta and Marawi City, the Philippines.

Ryamizard urged for closer ties partly based on a study conducted by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which estimated that approximately 1,000 Islamic State-affiliated militants operate in the region.

According to the minister, all Asean leaders need to work with each other to "increase [...] commonalities and similarities" and "eliminate or decrease differences [...] to resolve common challenges and obstructions."

In 2015, a Pew Research poll showed that 79 percent of all Indonesians held an unfavorable view of Islamic State and ideology that the group promulgates.

However, since Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim-majority country, Ryamizard noted that his countrymen are "prime targets for being influenced by radicalism," touching on recent hardline Islamist campaigns that have shaken the Southeast Asian nation of nearly 250 million.

Full report at:

http://jakartaglobe.id/news/defense-minister-urges-closer-regional-cooperation-combat-terrorism/

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U.S.-Indonesia and U.S.-Malaysia Relations in the Trump Era

June 5, 2017

Since President Donald Trump took office, East Asia has rapidly emerged as one of both his and his foreign policy advisers’ key geographic focuses. To date, most of Trump’s attention has been on Northeast Asia—particularly China and North Korea. By contrast, the White House has offered little in the way of a policy vision for Southeast Asia, where engagement so far has largely focused on gaining Southeast Asian support for policy regarding North Korea’s nuclear program.

Yet even with Washington on autopilot with the region, U.S. ties with some Southeast Asian states are already changing. Specifically, the Islamophobic rhetoric and policies of Trump’s campaign and the early days of his administration have already caused significant damage to perceptions of the United States and its government among the region’s more than 230 million Muslims, the vast majority of whom live in its two Muslim-majority nations—Indonesia and Malaysia.1

In April, the authors visited Jakarta, Indonesia, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and met with leading political analysts, public opinion experts, businesspeople, and government officials to get on-the-ground insight into how the general public and elites in Indonesia and Malaysia view the Trump administration and what those views might mean for U.S. bilateral relations. While it is too early for substantial polling data to be available, it is clear that opinions of the United States are declining among the general public in both countries.2 However, based on the authors’ conversations with officials and leading nongovernment analysts, it also appears that U.S.-Indonesian and U.S.-Malaysian government to government relations are unlikely to deteriorate significantly in the immediate future. But the reasons why bilateral relations are likely to remain stable may also damage U.S. interests in the long run.

Background: Public opinion and U.S. bilateral relations with Indonesia and Malaysia

Indonesian and Malaysian perceptions of the United States have undergone sharp swings over the past 15 years, driven mainly by two events: the Iraq War and Barack Obama’s first presidential election. These fluctuations have been particularly pronounced in Indonesia, where former President Obama spent part of his childhood. In 2002, for example, nearly two-thirds of Indonesians held a positive view of the United States.3 In 2003, after the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom, that figure plummeted to 15 percent, only to rebound six years later when Obama succeeded former President George W. Bush as leader of the free world.4

Malaysia has followed a similar trajectory. In 2007, the earliest date for which polling is available, only a quarter of Malaysians—and only 10 percent of Malaysian Muslims—had a favorable view of the United States.5 By 2013, the percentage of Malaysians who viewed the United States in a positive light had increased to more than 50 percent.6 As in Indonesia, the personal popularity of Obama—the first U.S. president to visit Malaysia since Lyndon Johnson—likely accounts for much of this turnaround.7

Compared with public opinion, relations at the governmental level between the United States and Indonesia and the United States and Malaysia have been comparatively stable over the past 15 years. Mutual interest in regional stability, bilateral trade, and countering violent extremism—along with a shared wariness at the prospect of Chinese hegemony in East Asia—have provided a durable basis for economic, military, and diplomatic cooperation across a range of domains. This cooperation has endured despite occasional rhetorical flare-ups between leaders, such as when then-Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad criticized the Iraq War as a racist attack on a Muslim state.8 During the Obama years, these strong relations came out of the shadows, with then-Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and current Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak publicly touting the importance of ties with the United States.9

One reason for this stability is the relative insularity of domestic politics in both countries—particularly in Indonesia, where national elections rarely involve questions of external relations. While Malaysians are comparatively more focused on the outside world, the dominance of the National Front coalition in Parliament since Malaysia’s independence in 1957, has allowed successive governments to pursue a foreign policy more predicated on elite interests than on the views of the general public.10

Consequences of Trump’s presidency

The election of Trump opens a new chapter in U.S. relations with Indonesia and Malaysia. To date, there has not been any national-level polling on attitudes toward the United States since Trump’s election in either country. However, Trump’s open embrace of Islamophobic rhetoric and his attempt to implement his campaign promise of a ban on Muslim immigration to the United States have made him widely unpopular across the Muslim world.11 History offers little reason to believe that Muslims in Southeast Asia will break ranks in this respect. The substantial, protracted decline in attitudes toward the United States in both Indonesia and Malaysia in the wake of the Iraq War demonstrated that the general public in both countries is sensitive to perceived attacks on Muslims and the Islamic faith. In addition, Trump does not possess anything remotely approximating the personal popularity of Obama in either nation. A poll taken on the eve of the 2016 U.S. election, for example, found that 90 percent of Indonesians would have voted for Hillary Clinton instead of Trump and that only 9 percent of Indonesians thought a Trump presidency would be in their national interest.12

Therefore, the odds that ordinary Indonesians and Malaysians will sour on the United States over the next four years are quite high. During our visit to the region, we heard repeatedly that Indonesians and Malaysians intending to study abroad are reluctant to enroll at U.S. institutions on account of concerns that Muslims are not welcome in the country. Nina Hachigian, our colleague and the former ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, has written eloquently about the poignant case of a prominent Indonesian civil society leader choosing to cancel a planned visit to the United States because of the perception that Muslims face barriers to travel.13 Each time an individual makes such a decision, we lose the opportunity to build bridges between the United States and this critical segment of the Muslim world.

But whether such a spike in public disapproval will significantly affect bilateral relations is less clear. Based on conversations with Indonesian and Malaysian elites in government, business, and media, our assessment is that many key decision-makers in both countries are privately pleased with Trump’s ascendance for three key reasons: First, elite Indonesians and Malaysians perceive Trump and his Cabinet as less likely than prior administrations to press them on human rights, corruption, and environmental issues. In fact, many of our interlocutors remarked that political elites in both countries related favorably to Trump’s blatant embrace of conflicts of interest and hoped it was a sign that the U.S. president was amenable to a more transactional, less values-driven bilateral relationship.14 Second, the political establishments in both Indonesia and Malaysia welcomed Trump’s focus on bilateral dealmaking and firm rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which leaders in both countries would prefer to disappear. Finally, in conversations with the authors, government and nongovernment experts said that many elites continue to look to the United States as a counterweight to Chinese influence in Southeast Asia and view Trump as potentially more likely than his predecessor to deter aggressive Chinese behavior in the region.15

Of course, political and business elites in Malaysia and Indonesia are not monolithic in their views, and there are undoubtedly many aspects of Trump’s presidency that are unnerving to many in the upper echelons of power in both countries, such as Trump’s protectionist rhetoric and his inclusion of both Indonesia and Malaysia on a list of top contributors to the global U.S. trade deficit.16 Even so, the fact remains that the next four years will likely see a widening divide between the attitudes of elites and the general public toward the Trump administration.

Implications for U.S. interests

Elite and public attitudes regarding the United States in the Trump era raise two key questions for the future of U.S.-Indonesia and U.S.-Malaysia relations.

The first question is whether deteriorating public perceptions of the United States will constrain bilateral relations during the Trump presidency. Although Indonesian and Malaysian foreign policy traditionally has not been overly sensitive to public opinion, recent trends in the domestic politics of both countries may make public animosity toward the policies and actions of the U.S. government harder to ignore. In Indonesia, the ouster of Jakarta’s Christian governor—Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as “Ahok”—following an election campaign fraught with sectarian controversy may presage a new style of politics in the country, in which Muslim identity issues feature more prominently.17 In Malaysia, where leaders have long been fond of exploiting religious sentiment to further their political ambitions, Najib may seek to use Trump as a foil to distract from the continuing fallout of a massive corruption scandal that broke two years ago.18 At present, both Najib and Indonesian President Joko Widodo have refrained from public criticism of Trump, but it is not inconceivable that a combination of domestic political headwinds and additional Islamophobic provocation from Washington could force them to tack in a more adversarial direction, especially as they approach national elections in 2018 and 2019, respectively. At present, the United States’ risk of a diplomatic breakdown is greater with Malaysia than with Indonesia, but neither relationship should be taken for granted.

The second question is whether the policies of Trump’s presidency will engender such strong anti-American sentiment among ordinary Indonesians and Malaysians that fringe beliefs about a clash of Islamic and Western civilizations in both countries acquire more mainstream credibility. The potential consequences of such radicalization run the gamut from the comparatively benign—a reduction in the number of Indonesians and Malaysians visiting the United States as tourists or students—to the more sinister—a spike in terrorist recruitment or the rise of expressly Islamist political movements. Although none of these outcomes is especially likely in the short term, the risks of U.S. policies that give fodder to extremists should not be ignored at a time when the publics in both countries are increasingly frustrated with the corruption and broken promises of mainstream political parties.

Full report at:

https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/security/reports/2017/06/05/433540/u-s-indonesia-u-s-malaysia-relations-trump-era/

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UMNO’s hand in Malaysian Islamic law

6 June 2017

Attempts to amend Malaysia’s 1965 Criminal Jurisdiction Act, or RUU 355, have divided the nation for over two years now. The amendment was proposed as a private member’s bill by Abdul Hadi Awang, President of the opposition Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), to empower sharia courts to issue more severe punishments. The bill has most recently been postponed following Hadi’s explanation of the proposed amendment in parliament on 6 April 2017. This was Hadi’s fifth attempt at tabling the bill since March 2015.

President of Parti Islam se-Malaysia Abdul Hadi Awang delivers speech during meeting in Kota Bharu, northeast of Kuala Lumpur. President of Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS) Abdul Hadi Awang delivers his opening speech during the party's meeting in Kota Bharu, 500km (310 miles) northeast of Kuala Lumpur, 3 June 2005. (Photo: Reuters/Bazuki Muhammad).

What is most notable about this proposed bill is the support it has received from Prime Minister Najib Razak, President of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party, who has now made room for Hadi to table his motion three times — a feat that no opposition-proposed private member bill has achieved in Malaysian history. That Hadi has been allowed to speak three times on the motion in parliament without this proceeding to a debate or vote suggests that the law-making process has been turned into a political game.

Most commentators understand the bill as largely an attempt by Hadi to push his party’s political agenda, while portraying UMNO leaders as playing along opportunistically. But UMNO’s support was a shrewd strategy to engage with PAS to break up the opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Alliance). Najib’s move has been very successful, resulting in Pakatan Rakyat’s slow disintegration. It also appears to have prevented PAS president Hadi from being overly critical of the 1MDB corruption charges against Najib.

Nonetheless, most observers were initially dismissive, balking at the suggestion that Najib would really support the implementation of hudud (Islamic criminal law) in the Malaysian state of Kelantan, and hence support the amendment of RU 355 as intended by Hadi. This is a gross misreading of the crucial role played by the UMNO leadership in the situation and what transpired behind the scenes of this bill. In reality, UMNO has been working hand in glove with PAS to discuss how to navigate around constitutional obstacles to implement hudud in Kelantan.

In the first place, the Malaysia government has pursued RU 355’s amendment since at least November 2013. In May 2014, the federal government convened a Federal–Kelantan Technical Committee to work with the PAS-majority Kelantan state government to look into how hudud could be implemented in Kelantan. The committee reached an agreement by the end of 2014 for the federal government to table the amendment of RUU 355. This would have been no special favour to PAS as the federal government has intended to do so any way, but would enable PAS to implement some of their hudud law provisions.

Unexpectedly, it was Hadi who then submitted the bill at a parliamentary session in March 2015, while an amended version of the hudud state legislation was approved at the Kelantan state assembly at the same time. Hadi and PAS leaders presented the bill as enabling Kelantan to implement hudud laws and suggested that Muslims could not object to the bill as it is god’s law. At Hadi’s third attempt during a May 2016 parliamentary session, Minister Azalina Othman shocked everyone when she asked the speaker to expedite Hadi’s proposed bill for reading, without subjecting it to a vote or debate. She later explained that she did so at the instruction of Najib and his deputy.

Even the act of tabling the bill was prompted by an UMNO Minister, and PAS was reportedly told that Minister Jamil Khir would then oversee its final enactment. Najib explained that the bill merely sought to enlarge the jurisdiction of the sharia court and has nothing to do with hudud implementation. Yet Hadi’s move has inadvertently directed public attention to the deeper implications of the amendment which was initially perceived as a mere technical upgrade of sharia judiciary power. In view of the growing opposition, proponents of the bill began to change their tune to argue that the bill has nothing to do with hudud laws. Najib also announced on 1 December 2016 that the federal government would take over the bill, only to decide otherwise in March 2017 upon strong opposition from his other coalition party leaders. Expressing his gratitude to ‘the government’ for allowing him to table the motion, Hadi said that ‘we will not forget this cooperation’. There is ample evidence to conclude that UMNO has been playing an active role in abetting the more-than-willing PAS to pursue its own agenda.

Full report at:

http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2017/06/06/umnos-hand-in-malaysian-islamic-law/

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Lawyers support police's fight against radicalism, intolerance

June 6, 2017

A group of lawyers attached to the Pancasila Defenders Forum of Advocates (FAPP) have declared their support for the National Police in their fight against radicalism and intolerance.

FAPP chairman Teguh Samudra said the support derived from their concerns over the increasing cases of intolerance and intimidation against minority groups, which could threaten Indonesia’s unity.

“We support the police in their fight against radicalism and intolerance. Police should not be afraid of being accused of criminalizing ulemas. We believe what the police have done [so far] is in line with the law,” Teguh told journalists after extending the forum’s official support to the police on Monday.

National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian expressed his thanks for the support, saying it would make the police stronger in combating radicalism and intolerance.

“The police have always referred to two pillars for carrying out their actions. They are legal and societal legitimacy. Legal legitimacy means we must always follow the rule of law, while societal legitimacy requires support from the people,” Tito said.

Vigilantism has recently occupied media headlines following a pornography case allegedly involving Islam Defenders Front (FPI) chairman Rizieq Shihab.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/06/lawyers-support-polices-fight-against-radicalism-intolerance.html

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Africa

 

Libya’s eastern-based government to investigate ‘Qatar’s crimes

6 June 2017

In a statement issued on Monday, the Libyan parliament called on the Ministry of Justice to prepare an integrated file on the damages caused to Libya and its people by the support of Qatar for extremist groups after a decision to sever official diplomatic relations with Doha.

They also urged to refer the file to International Criminal Court, calling on the United Nations Security Council and the ICC to open an international investigation into the crimes of Qatar in Libya in support of extremism and terrorists.

Seven countries, including Libya's eastern-based government, announced they are severing ties with Qatar because of the Gulf country’s support for terrorist organizations like ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood, in addition to their hostile behavior through their foreign policy decisions.

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen, Maldives and Mauritius announced cutting ties with Qatar and closing their borders and airspace on Monday.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/06/06/Libya-s-eastern-based-government-to-investigate-Qatar-s-crimes-in-Libya-.html

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Bodies of seven migrants found from truck in Libya

June 6, 2017

TRIPOLI - Seven African migrants died, apparently from suffocation, after being locked for two days in a refrigerated truck that was abandoned by people smugglers on the Libyan coast, officials said.

Twenty-eight others, including five women, were rescued on Sunday when the truck was discovered at Garabulli, a town some 50 km east of Tripoli that is a common departure point for migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to Italy.

“We got a call from a civilian who reported that he could hear voices coming from a truck, which he believed contained Africans, based on their language,” said Adel Mostafa, an anti-illegal migration official in Tripoli. The survivors said they had been left there by smugglers, according to Hosni Abu Ayana, a second official at the Tripoli detention centre to which they were brought.

 The migrants said the truck driver left the vehicle at the side of the road after unknown gunmen began firing at the tyres.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/06-Jun-2017/bodies-of-seven-migrants-found-from-truck-in-libya

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Cameroon arrests soldiers demanding bonuses

Jun 6, 2017

Cameroon has arrested nearly 30 soldiers fighting the Nigerian terror group Boko Haram in the wake of their protest against their conditions that also demanded the payment of bonuses.

The soldiers on Sunday “set about stopping traffic with barricades on national route number one,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement broadcast on state radio on Monday.

The men were demanding that they be immediately relieved from duty, as well as “the payment of bonuses for ‘international soldiers’ in line with those granted to their comrades from UN peace keeping missions,” the statement said.

The soldiers were transferred from the Zigue area in the far north to capital Yaounde where they were placed under arrest and a judicial investigation was opened, the ministry said.

Traffic along the northern route was restored.

Cameroonian soldiers engaged in the fight against Boko Haram often complain about their conditions, but this is the first time a group have demonstrated for leave or greater pay.

Full report at:

http://217.218.67.231/Detail/2017/06/06/524330/Cameroon-nabs-soldiers-bonuses

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Arab World

 

Syrian, Russian Warplanes Turn Eastern Homs into Hell for ISIL Terrorists

Jun 05, 2017

The Syrian and Russian bombers carried out tens of airstrikes over the large stretch of desert terrain in Eastern Syria, targeting the ISIL in the Homs and Deir Ezzur provinces.

The fighter jets bombed several times ISIL's positions and movements in and around the strategic town of al-Sukhnah.

The fighter jets also targeted ISIL's defense lines in Western Deir Ezzur while the ground forces are getting ready to carry out a fresh anti-ISIL operation in the province to lift terrorists' siege on their comrades in Deir Ezzur city and airbase.

In the meantime, the army's artillery and missile units and aircraft shelled ISIL's positions in al-Maqaber (cemetery) region, airbase, Panorama base, Tal (hill) Alloush, Tal Millad and around regiment 137 base.  

A military source had disclosed that the main objective of the Syrian army operation in Eastern Homs is winning control over the town and the region of al-Sukhnah that is seen as a main gate to Deir Ezzur province to lift ISIL's siege on Deir Ezzur city and airbase.

Field sources reported on Wednesday that the Syrian Army troops were coordinating the last steps of a large-scale operation to storm ISIL's defense lines through three directions to liberate the terrorist-held parts of Deir Ezzur city and its countryside. The sources said that the army was about to launch a large-scale operation to lift ISIL's siege of Deir Ezzur, adding that the plan of operation was ready and the forces and military equipment were deployed in projected positions.

The sources further said that the Lebanese Hezbollah Resistance Movement dispatched a number of its forces and field commanders to Deir Ezzur, adding that Hezbollah fighters were to shake hands with other pro-government forces that would start their operation towards Deir Ezzur from Palmyra city in Homs province.

The sources said that the army troops were to start their operation from Palmyra towards the strategic town of al-Sukhnah with the aerial back up of the Syrian and Russian fighter jets in order to move towards Deir Ezzur after liberation of al-Sukhnah.

In the meantime, another military operation would be launched from inside Deir Ezzur city Westward to join the army soldiers that would arrive in the region from Palmyra front.

Simultaneous with the joint operation of the army men and their popular allies through three fronts in Deir Ezzur, the Iraqi popular forces of Hashd al-Shaabi would kick off an operation in the deserts of Anbar province in Western Iraq near the border with Deir Ezzur to weaken terrorists' defense abilities and accelerate collapse of ISIL.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960315000319

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Syrian Army Purges Eastern Aleppo of ISIL Terrorists

Jun 05, 2017

The sources said that the army troops in their operations in Eastern Aleppo managed to drive ISIL out of over 250 villages and several strategic towns and regions, including Kuweires, Deir Hafer, Rasm Harmal al-Imam, al-Khafseh, Maskana. Tadif, and the strategic airbases of Kuweires and al-Jarah.

They added that the soldiers have advanced against ISIL in an area covering over 3,000sq\km in Eastern Aleppo while an area as large as 6,700 sq/km has been cleaned so far of terrorists in Eastern Aleppo.

The Syrian army captured the strategic town of Maskana as the last ISIL stronghold in Aleppo province on Sunday.

Following clashes with ISIL terrorists in Eastern Aleppo, the Syrian army captured tens of villages and towns in areas surrounding the key Maskana town and eventually forced a large number of terrorists in Maskana to retreat towards Raqqa.

The army troops also managed to seize control over the water pumping stations and electricity generators of the region and also regained control over the mountains along the Maskana-Raqqa road.

A military sources said following the liberation of Maskana as ISIL's last bastion in Eastern Aleppo, it seems that ISIL's presence in the province came to end and the Syrian troops practically ended the Takfiri terrorists' presence in the province.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960315000205

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Several Terrorists Killed, Injured in Roadside Bomb Attack in Syria's Idlib

Jun 05, 2017

Local media activists said that a roadside bomb hit one of the vehicles of Faylaq al-Sham near the town of Khan al-Sabal, killing six terrorists and injuring four more.

The sources said that the attacks of this kind have been recently increasing in Idlib, but this is the first time that Faylaq al-Sham has been targeted.

In the meantime, one of the commanders of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board) nom de guerre Abu Torab Muhassan was shot down by unknown assailants in the town of Salqin in Northwestern Idlib.

Local sources said last week that several members of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at killed and several more have been wounded in a fresh round of clashes with the Ahrar al-Sham rival terrorist group in Southern Idlib.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960315000549

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US-Led Coalition Sets up 2nd Military Base at Syria's Border with Iraq

Jun 05, 2017

Mohanad al-Talla'a, the commander of FSA-affiliated Jeish al-Maqawir, said that the new base is set up in al-Zakaf region 60km Northeast of al-Tanf base and with 130km distance to the town of Albu Kamal in Eastern Deir Ezzur.

He claimed that the new base has been established to train fighters round the clock to fight ISIL.

Al-Talla'a added that the base which has been established with the back up of the US-led coalition will be used for the launch of small and mid-size operations in Syria's Badiyeh (desert).

Another source in Jeish al-Maqawir reported that a large volume of arms and ammunition and a large number of militants affiliated to terrorist groups and the coalition have been deployed at the base.

Intelligent agents reported early in May that the US, British and Jordanian forces were preparing for a possible invasion of Syria under the pretext of war on ISIL terrorists.

According to reports, Damascus went on the alert after intelligence reports gathered from surveillance drones suggested that the US, Britain and Jordanian militaries might be prepping a massive invasion of Syria.

Nearly 400 American and Jordanian military vehicles were located at a Jordanian military base near the Syrian desert border, the reports said, adding there was no ISIL terrorists in the region in which the US, British and Jordanian forces were operating.

The reports further added that activities of these three countries at border were aimed at gathering Arab and Western forces in al-Zarqa camp in which there were almost 4,500 gunmen.

The report went on to say that the gunmen in al-Zarqa camp went under training to battle the Syrian army to stretch a belt around Syria, a plan that was nothing more than an occupation.

The intelligence reports also said that the military convoys of the US, Jordan and Britain might launch an assault to help the West-backed FSA around the al-Tanf border crossing.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960315000466

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Syrian Army Wins back More Strategic Heights in Eastern Homs

Jun 05, 2017

The sources reported that after hours of bloody battle, the Syrian pro-government forces recaptured several positions near the al-Sha'er Energy Fields, including Heights 1,005 and 943 in the al-Sha'er mountain.

According to reports, the army soldiers will probably start a fresh phase of anti-ISIL operation to capture the al-Sha'er oil and gas fields and their nearby areas and hills in the coming days.

Also, the army repelled ISIL's intensified attacks on government positions in areas near the strategic energy fields West of Palmyra on Sunday, inflicting heavy losses on the terrorists.

The ISIL launched massive attacks on the Syrian army's military positions near al-Sha'er and Hayan oilfields West of Palmyra, but the terrorists were pushed back by the Syrian army after several hours of clashes.

Meantime, a military source said that after losing its military positions in Palmyra and its nearby regions, the ISIL has mobilized its elements in areas surrounding the two oilfields to seal off the Homs highway to the Syrian troops who are advancing deep into Badiyeh (desert) in an area near T4 Station.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960315000488

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Terrorists' Heavy Offensive Repulsed by Syrian Army in Deir Ezzur

Jun 05, 2017

The army units engaged in fierce clashes with a group of ISIL terrorists in Panorama base and Tal (hill) Um Aboud in the Southern outskirts of Deir Ezzur city, inflicting major casualties on the terrorists.

In the meantime, the army's artillery units and aircraft pounded ISIL's defense lines in Panorama and Tal Um Aboud, killing a large number of terrorists and destroying their military equipment.

The army soldiers also targeted a drone of ISIL in Panorama.

Also, the army men engaged in a tough battle with ISIL in al-Maqaber (cemetery) region and managed to advance around 200 meters towards al-Karafanat region.

The Syrian fighter jets, meanwhile, bombed heavily ISIL's movements and positions in Panorama farms, al-Mayadeen region, al-Thardah mountain and al-Tayem oilfield, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.

Relevant reports said on Sunday that the army and air force intensified their military operations against ISIL in Deir Ezzur and its surrounding areas in a bid to lift the city's siege, killing tens of terrorists and injuring many more.

The Syrian fighter jets heavily pounded the ISIL's military positions and bases in the surrounding areas of Panorama, Tal-e Aloush, Tal-e 17, al-Mokabat, al-Thardah intersection South of Deir Ezzur.

Meantime, other army units launched heavy artillery and missile attacks on ISIL's movements and military positions in al-Maqaber and al-Mokabat regions as well as al-Tharda, Sorieh Juneid, Tal-e Aloush, Tal-e Milad, Panorama farms, al-Shababi housing complex and near Regiment137.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960315000289

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Egypt joins several GCC countries in severing ties with Qatar

5 June 2017

Egypt decided to sever all diplomatic relations with the State of Qatar, joining Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in doing so.

A statement from the official spokesperson of Egypt Foreign Ministry said they took the decision on Monday “in light of the insistence of the Qatari government to take an anti-Egyptian stance and the failure of all attempts to dissuade it from supporting the terrorist organizations.”

Egypt accused the Qatari government of supporting especially the Muslim Brotherhood which it has designated as terrorist.

“Qatar’s has promoted al-Qaeda's ideology, and given support to ISIS and terrorist operations in the Sinai. Qatar's has insisted on interfering in the internal affairs of Egypt and the countries of the region in a manner that threatens Arab national security and promotes the seeds of sedition and division within the Arab societies,” the statement read.

Egypt also declared that it will close its airspace and sea ports with Qatar.

EXPLAINER: Reasons why Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Qatar

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/06/05/Egypt-joins-several-GCC-countries-in-severing-ties-with-Qatar.html

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UAE minister Gargash tweets on what lies behind decision to cut Qatar ties

6 June 2017

The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, posted on Monday a series of tweets in response to the Saudi and UAE’s decision to sever ties with Qatar.

He called it a “difficult and inevitable day,” adding that the “decision came after years of advising Qatar,” calling for reason – not arrogance – from the Gulf state.

He wrote: “In the UAE, we chose honesty, and transparency, we chose stability over chaos, we chose equality and development, we chose trust and clarity, we chose King Salman and Saudi Arabia.”

“After previous brotherly experiences, there is a need for a future framework that will strengthen the security and stability of the region. It is necessary to rebuild trust after pacts have been broken,” he added.

"Can a brother change his behavior, be a guardian of the covenant and charters, be vigilant to brothers and neighbors, a partner in hardship and ease? This is simply the framework of the solution," Gargash said in another tweet.

"The policy of money, media, betting on partisanship and extremism has proved its failure, the solution is to change provocative and harmful behavior," he said.

Gargash added: “The issue is not about the sovereignty and independence of decision [to sever ties with Qatar], but the rejection of a policy aimed at harming brothers and undermining the security and stability of the Arabian Gulf.” He added, “We cannot be all wrong.”

He said: “I think that [Qatar’s] arrogance and loud media voice is a way of avoiding the crisis, instead of realizing that the solution lies is in reasoning and changing behavior that hurts brotherly and neighborly ties.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/06/06/UAE-minister-Gargash-tweets-on-what-lies-behind-Qatar-decision.html

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Saudi cabinet says Qatar ‘violated charters and neighborly ties’

6 June 2017

The Saudi Council of Ministers stressed on Monday that the decision to cut diplomatic and consular ties with Qatar, came from the practice of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign rights guaranteed by international law and the protection of national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism.

The kingdom says it has taken this decisive decision as a result of serious violations by authorities in Doha, covertly and publicly throughout recent years.

The violations aim at inciting Saudi Arabia’s internal ranks, inciting people to be disloyal to the kingdom, undermining its sovereignty and embracing multiple terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at destabilizing the region.

The kingdom reiterated that it will continue to be supportive of the Qatari people, its security and stability regardless of the hostile practices committed by authorities in Doha.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/06/06/Saudi-cabinet-says-Qatar-violated-charters-and-neighborly-ties-.html

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Militants shoot down Syrian fighter jet: Monitoring group

Jun 5, 2017

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says 21 civilians have been killed in a US airstrike near the city of Raqqah and that anti-Damascus militants have shot down a Syrian military plane to the east of the country’s capital.     

The UK-based monitoring group said on Monday that the plane crashed some 50 kilometers to the east of Damascus.It noted that it could not confirm if the pilot was dead or alive.

"We have brought down a Syrian jet in Tel Dakwa area in rural Damascus and we are searching for the pilot," said a spokesman for Western-backed Jaish Osoud al Sharqiya militant group, Saad al Haj.

Meanwhile, pictures which are claimed to be of the plane’s wreckage and its pilot’s remains, have been posted on militant social media sites.

A separate militant group has also claimed to have downed the plane after hitting it with anti-aircraft weaponry recently supplied by the US.

The group added that the plane had crashed some 15 kilometers to the east of Bir Qasab between Tal Dakwa and Dumair airport.

US strike kills 21 in Raqqah

Also on Monday, the observatory said that 21 civilians were killed during a US airstrike while they were trying to flee the Daesh-held city of Raqqah.

"The civilians were boarding small boats on the northern bank of the Euphrates River to flee southern neighborhoods of Raqqah," said observatory Director Rami Abdel Rahman. He added that women and children were among the casualties. 

"The toll may continue to rise as some of the wounded are in critical condition," he noted.

The US has been conducting airstrikes against what it calls Daesh positions inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

According to latest figures released by SOHR, airstrikes by the US and its allies left a total of 225 civilians dead in Syria between April 23 and May 23 alone.

Daesh seized Raqqah in 2014, the same year when it started its campaign of terror in Syria. It then proceeded to capture large swathes of Syrian territory.

Thousands of civilians have fled the northern city in the face of a looming  offensive by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Different foreign-backed terrorist groups have been wreaking havoc in Syria since 2011.

Full report at:

http://217.218.67.231/Detail/2017/06/05/524322/syria-militants-jet-targeted-damascus

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100,000 children in dangerous conditions in Iraq’s Mosul: UNICEF

Jun 5, 2017

The UN has warned that children are bearing the brunt of the intensified fighting between government forces and the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

Peter Hawkins, representative of the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Iraq, estimated on Monday that 100,000 girls and boys were still living under extremely dangerous conditions in the Daesh-held Old City neighborhood and other areas.

The UN agency is receiving "alarming reports" of civilians being killed, including children, in the city's western half, he added.

The UNICEF representative didn't give a specific number of children killed in the crossfire.

The official called on the warring sides to "protect the children and keep them out of harm's way at all times, in line with their obligations under humanitarian law."

"Children's lives are on the line. Children are being killed, injured and used as human shields. Children are experiencing and witnessing terrible violence that no human being should ever witness," Hawkins said in a statement.

"In some cases, they have been forced to participate in the fighting and violence," he added.

Iraqi government forces, backed by volunteer fighters, are in their last push to drive the Daesh terrorists out of the remaining pockets of territory in the Old City, where narrow streets and a dense civilian population are complicating the fight.

On Monday, Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters wrested full control over 9 villages west of Mosul.

Full report at:

http://217.218.67.231/Detail/2017/06/05/524281/Iraq-Daesh-Mosul-UN-Peter-Hawkins-UNICEF

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North America

 

US lawmaker on suspected Islamic radicals: ‘Kill them all’

June 6, 2017

WASHINGTON: A US Congressman doubled down Monday on his call for deadly force against extremists after saying any “radicalised Islamic suspect” should be hunted and killed following the weekend terror attack in London.

Clay Higgins, a first-term Republican and former police officer made the remarks on Facebook, in a post that included a photograph of one of the apparent London attackers lying on the ground.

“Not a single radicalised Islamic suspect should be granted any measure of quarter,” he wrote on Sunday.

“Hunt them, identity them, and kill them. Kill them all. For the sake of all that is good and righteous. Kill them all.”

The comments came after seven people were killed when a van smashed into pedestrians on London Bridge and three assailants went on a stabbing spree late on Saturday.

Higgins, like US President Donald Trump, is a political novice. He won in the southern state of Louisiana, in a district that voted overwhelmingly for Trump over Hillary Clinton.

A human rights group condemned the lawmaker’s statement, which appeared to back dispensing justice without trial.

“Rep. Higgins’s sentiments fundamentally clash with the core principles upon which this country was founded,” the American Civil Liberties Union’s Louisiana chapter said Monday on Twitter.

The congressman also wrote that the free world — “all of Christendom,” in his words — “is at war with Islamic horror.”

The comment appears to align with a theme embraced by conservatives in the US far-right, which has portrayed the battle against jihadists as part of a broader clash between Christian society and Islam.

On Monday, Higgins held firm, saying his goal remained “prioritizing national security and protecting American lives.”

“I’ve never been accused of being politically correct. I call things the way I see them,” he said.

“We are a world at war. The enemy is radicalized Islamic jihadists.”

Higgins gained notoriety as a police officer in Louisiana, where he was nicknamed “the Cajun John Wayne” for several tough-talking “Crime Stoppers” videos for a local news station.

In one clip that went viral, Higgins, holding a military-style rifle, called gang members “heathens” and “animals” and said they would be “hunted” down by him and other officers.

Higgins resigned from the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office in early 2016 under pressure about the videos.

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2017/06/06/us-lawmaker-on-suspected-islamic-radicals-kill-them-all/

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Trump seizes on London attack to push domestic crackdown

June 6, 2017

President Donald Trump seized on the London terror attack to demand the US ban on travelers from some Muslim countries be reinstated Monday, sparking a diplomatic row with Britain and jeopardizing his legal defense of the measure in the process.

In the wake of Saturday's deadly attack, Trump renewed calls for a travel crackdown, while attacking London's Muslim mayor, the media, Democrats, judges and opponents who accuse him of playing the politics of fear.

Trump has made combatting jihadists a central plank of his politics, using deliberately inflammatory rhetoric and attacking the "political correctness" of those advocating a nuanced approach.

The "special relationship" with Britain became the latest casualty of that hardline stance Monday.

With the seven victims of Saturday's attack not yet buried, Trump repeatedly criticized London Mayor Sadiq Khan, whom he accused of playing down the terror threat.

Khan had warned Londoners that an increased police presence in the wake of the attacks was nothing to worry about.

Trump misconstrued that statement, and went on to accuse Khan of making up a "pathetic excuse" for his remarks.

"We must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people. If we don't get smart it will only get worse," Trump said.

Privately, British officials -- many of whom call London home -- were incandescent with rage.

- 'Feud and division' -

Prime Minister Theresa May, who is under growing pressure to denounce Trump ahead of Thursday's election, came to Khan's defense.

"I think Sadiq Khan is doing a good job and it's wrong to say anything else -- he's doing a good job," she said, despite the pair being from opposite political parties.

May had already faced pressure to criticize Trump or even withdraw his invitation for a state visit after he pulled out of a global climate deal and edged away from collective security arrangements under NATO.

Khan, London's first Muslim mayor told British media he had "better and more important things to focus on" than responding to Trump's tweets.

"Some people thrive on feud and division. We are not going to let Donald Trump divide our communities," he later added.

- 'Unacceptable' attack or media 'spin'? -

In the United States, many veteran diplomats and officials decried Trump's remarks.

"To my friends in the UK: I apologize for this," said Ben Rhodes, a former national security aide to Barack Obama.

New York Mayor Bill De Blasio said Khan was "doing an extraordinary job supporting Londoners in a time of pain. President Trump's attack on him is unacceptable."

The White House later tried to play down Trump's tweets.

"I don't see that the president is picking a fight with the mayor of London at all," said spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

She accused the media of putting "spin" on the issue.

"I think the point is, is there is a reason to be alarmed. We have constant attacks going on, not just there, but across the globe, and we have to start putting national security and global security at an all-time high," she said.

- In the Supreme Court's hands -

Trump also found himself in hot water over his tough-talking tweets defending his ban on travelers from several Muslim countries, which is currently stalled in the federal courts.

The White House has struggled to prevent the measures from being permanently struck down, insisting it is not a "ban" and does not target Muslims -- which would almost certainly be unconstitutional.

Trump did not mince words.

"People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!" he tweeted.

"In any event we are EXTREME VETTING people coming into the US in order to help keep our country safe. The courts are slow and political!" he said, attacking the judiciary in a way that is rare in American politics.

The husband of senior Trump aide Kellyanne Conway was among those who warned those remarks may pose legal problems for the administration at the Supreme Court.

"These tweets may make some ppl feel better," George Conway said on Twitter, but "certainly won't help" get five votes on the Supreme Court.

In a rare move on Friday, the Supreme Court expedited consideration of the case, ordering the American Civil Liberties Union -- which represents the plaintiffs -- to respond by June 12 to the Trump administration's petition for court consideration.

Once it receives the response, the high court could quickly rule on whether to take up the case.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/06/trump-seizes-on-london-attack-to-push-domestic-crackdown.html

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Donald Trump’s response to the London Bridge attack embarrassed America

June 5, 2017

The stoic determination and decency of the British people and their leaders was on full display in the hours after the latest horrific terrorist rampage. The Brits fought back, launching drinking glasses and chairs at the savages who attacked them. The police acted with lightning-fast precision, killing the three assailants within eight minutes of the emergency call. And, God bless him, a man returned to the bar where he experienced Saturday's horror — to pay his bill and tip. Civilisation is not going to be driven out of Britain by three, or three hundred, killers.

Meanwhile, and it pains me to write this, our President acted like a clod, a heartless and dull-witted thug in sending out a series of tweets. He — commander in chief and leader of the free world — first retweeted an unverified, unofficial Drudge headline about the unfolding terrorist attack. Then he aimed to bolster his Muslim travel ban (which is not supposed to be a Muslim travel ban).

“We need to be smart, vigilant and tough,” he tweeted. “We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!” (Aside from the inappropriateness of President Donald Trump's tweet, he fails to grasp that the courts in these cases are reaffirming our rights against an overreaching, discriminatory edict.)

After receiving blowback for that obnoxious missive, he tweeted out, “Whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the UK, we will be there - WE ARE WITH YOU. GOD BLESS!” But then he decided to slam the mayor of the city attacked, who had calmly warned his fellow Londoners: “Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. There's no reason to be alarmed.”

Trump took the second part out of context and responded viciously, “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is 'no reason to be alarmed!'” (The mayor, of course, was telling them not to be alarmed by the heightened police presence.) Trump was not done, however, inanely tweeting, “Do you notice we are not having a gun debate right now? That's because they used knives and a truck!”

One is prompted to ask if he is off his rocker. But this is vintage Trump — impulsive and cruel, without an ounce of class or human decency. His behaviour no longer surprises us, but it should offend and disturb us, first, that he remains the face and voice of America in the world and, second, that his fans hoot and holler, seeing this as inconsequential or acceptable conduct. We wound up with this president because millions of Republicans could not prioritise character, decency and overall fitness to serve over their mundane and frankly petty partisan wish list (28 percent top marginal tax rate!). Self-appointed religious leaders fail to see that this soullessness — not the dreaded liberal elite who insist on saying “Happy Holidays” or refuse to countenance discrimination against gay customers — is a threat to the moral fibre of a democracy that requires a modicum of common sense and human decency to function.

Sure, Trump's policies and rhetoric are incoherent and based on a tower of lies. Far worse, however, is his appalling character, which accelerates the erosion of democratic norms and social cohesion a diverse democracy requires. In instances like this, those who would lecture us on President Barack Obama's under-appreciation of America's unique place in human history or proclaim that they simply had to vote for Trump because Hillary Clinton was some sort of monster are exposed as fools or hypocrites or both.

Full report at:

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/donald-trump-london-bridge-attack-tweets-sadiq-khan-america-us-president-gun-control-muslim-a7773161.html

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Time to reassess the Muslim Brotherhood

June 5, 2017

President Trump has talked a lot about defeating “radical Islamic terrorism.” Yet which groups fall into that category?

The Islamic State certainly does. But what about the Muslim Brotherhood? Its brand of Islamism means it is certainly no ally to us. Yet how to respond to the Brotherhood is in some ways even more complex than how to respond to ISIS.

The Muslim Brotherhood was formed in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna. A schoolteacher, al-Banna believed that Muslim societies were declining in the face of Western secularism. He dreamed of a restoration of pure Shariah law and an Islamic caliphate.

He founded the Muslim Brotherhood as an organization dedicated to Islamizing society, with a vision of applying Islam as an all-encompassing political system. What began as small gatherings and lectures at mosques and coffeehouses over time transformed into Islam’s largest religious and political network.

In their desire for a caliphate and application of Shariah, the Brotherhood shares certain characteristics with Salafi jihadi groups such as al Qaeda. Indeed, the Brotherhood once possessed an armed wing, and Brotherhood offshoots are now designated terrorist groups. Legislation introduced in the Senate calls for officially designating the Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization.

Yet today’s Muslim Brotherhood is more equivocal about when and where acts of violence should be carried out, and its ties to terrorism in the West are not clear-cut. It still wants to Islamize society and continues to make excuses for certain terrorist movements, encourages religious segregation and champions a reactionary interpretation of faith over a sense of citizenship. This is all deeply unpleasant — but in a free society, such opinions are within the boundaries of the law.

So what can the U.S. do? The first step is to get its own house in order.

The Hudson Institute’s Zeyno Baran and other scholars note that the Muslim Brotherhood has had a presence in the U.S. since the 1960s. In recent years, several groups associated with the Brotherhood have come under legal scrutiny. The North American Islamic Trust, the Islamic Society in North America and the Council on American Islamic Relations were listed as unindicted co-conspirators in a major terrorist financing trial that led to a spate of convictions concerning the funding of Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist outfit closely tied to the Brotherhood.

Despite this, CAIR has since been hosted at the White House and worked alongside the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

To help resolve these types of issues, the U.S. should establish a commission to conduct a thorough, up-to-date review of the Brotherhood’s activities in the U.S. and investigate the foreign ties of Brotherhood-linked groups operating domestically. While this commission does its work, government agencies should adopt a safety-first approach and stop all engagement with domestic groups historically tied to the Brotherhood.

Admittedly, this is hazardous terrain for lawmakers, who quite understandably desire to engage with Muslim communities in their states and districts. For one thing, Islamist groups muddy the waters by establishing front groups, making it harder to assess their ideological leanings. Furthermore, there will be media resistance; inevitably, many will dub the commission an Islamophobic witch hunt. Objections may also come from those who still subscribe to the notion that the Brotherhood can be used as a firewall, a safe outlet for venting radical Islamist sentiments that could otherwise manifest themselves in terrorist attacks.

This is perhaps the most insulting idea of all. Anyone suggesting that the Ku Klux Klan could be used by the U.S. government as a firewall to prevent far-right terrorism would be laughed out the room. It does a great disservice to American Muslims to treat them differently.

Full report at:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jun/5/muslim-brotherhood-threat-to-us-needs-close-look/

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Mideast

 

Israeli protesters call for end to 50-year occupation of Palestine

Jun 6, 2017

Hundreds of Israelis have held a protest rally in Israel’s Haifa to call for an end to the Tel Aviv regime’s 50-year occupation of Palestinian territories.

The Israelis rallied in Haifa on Monday, the anniversary of the Six-Day War fought on June 5-10, 1967 between the Israeli regime on the one side and Egypt, Jordan, and Syria on the other.

At the end of that war, Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem al-Quds, the Gaza Strip, and parts of the Golan Heights. Israel later withdrew from Gaza but lay a siege to it.

The war and Israel’s ensuing land seizure displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and Syrians. Palestinians describe those developments as “Naksa” (Setback) and mark the Naksa Day every year on June 5.

Israel is required to withdraw from all the territories seized in the war under the United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, adopted months after the Six-Day War, in November 1967; but the Tel Aviv regime has been in non-compliance of that piece of international law ever since.

During the Monday event, the Israeli demonstrators carried Palestinian flags as well as banners and signs reading, “There is another way,” apparently referring to the possibility of the so-called two-state solution.

“I am here to demonstrate against the occupation, and the oppression of the Palestinian people, and to call on all the world to recognize now the independent Palestinian state. It’s the base for real negotiations for peace between Israel and Palestine,” said an activist who had taken part in the protest.

Another activist described the continuation of the Israeli occupation over the past half a century as “a very bad thing.”

Also late last month, thousands of Israelis staged a mass rally in Tel Aviv to denounce the regime’s occupation and express their support for an independent Palestinian state.

UN chief urges establishment of Palestinian state

Separately, in a statement released on Monday, the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and warned against Israel’s continued settlement construction and expansion activities.

The occupation of the Palestinian territories and the Syrian Golan “imposed a heavy humanitarian and development burden on the Palestinian people,” many of whom are living in refugee camps, in abject poverty and with little or no prospect of a better life, Guterres said.

“Ending the occupation and achieving a negotiated two-state outcome is the only way to lay the foundations for enduring peace,” he added.

Additionally, Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said that, to the Palestinians, the Israeli occupation means “50 years of oppression, subjugation and daily control over all aspects of people’s lives.”

“At the same time, it has also meant 50 years of statements and international resolutions that Israel, the occupying power, has insisted on violating with impunity,” he said.

Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state in the territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem al-Quds, and the Gaza Strip, with East al-Quds as its capital. However, Israel has been building more and more settlements on those territories, making it difficult to establish the state of Palestine.

Many world countries are opposed to Israeli settlement constructions. The United States, which is Israel’s biggest ally, under former president Barack Obama allowed a landmark UN resolution to pass against the Israeli regime and in condemnation of the settlements on occupied land late last year.

Clashes

In another development on Monday, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said a private security guard had shot dead an Arab protester during clashes in the city of Kafr Qasim. The victim was identified as 27-year-old Mohammed Taha.

Ayman Odeh, an Israeli-Arab lawmaker at the Knesset, said Israeli forces were treating Arabs as “enemies.”

Issawi Frej, another lawmaker, called for an immediate investigation of the “murder.”

Also on Monday, Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian protesters in several places across the Gaza Strip. Two Palestinian youths sustained gunshot injuries in the scuffles in the east of the city of Jablaia while dozens of others suffered tear gas inhalation, according to Palestine Al Yawm TV.

http://217.218.67.231/Detail/2017/06/06/524338/Palestine-Israeli-rally-Haifa-Naksa-Day

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Turkey warns US-based Fethullah Gulen could lose citizenship

June 6, 2017

Ankara warned US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, blamed for last year's failed coup, and dozens of others would lose Turkish citizenship if they did not return home within three months.

Authorities said a total of 130 people will be affected by the move which began on Monday, according to an interior ministry announcement published in the Official Gazette said.

The list also includes two lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democracy Party (HDP) Faysal Sariyildiz and Tugba Hezer.

The interior ministry said the list comprised people who are being investigated by the prosecutors and whose whereabouts are not known.

The government says the abortive July coup aimed at toppling President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was engineered by an Islamic movement led by Gulen, who has denied the charges.

On Saturday, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim's chief adviser was detained over suspected links to Gulen's movement, state media reported.

Birol Erdem, a former senior justice ministry official, was taken into custody in Ankara along with his wife Gulumser Erdem, Anadolu news agency said.

Over 100,000 people have been sacked or suspended from the public sector under a state of emergency imposed a few days after foiled putsch and renewed three times.

Full report at:

https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2017/6/5/turkey-warns-us-based-fethullah-gulen-could-lose-citizenship

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Tens of Sudanese Mercenaries Killed, Wounded in Yemen

Jun 05, 2017

The sources said that a large number of the Sudanese soldiers and officers tried to cross the Saudi border and enter Yemen's territories in Meidi region in Western Yemen in May but the Yemeni soldiers and Ansarullah fighters engaged in a tough battle with them and thwarted their attack.

"136 Sudanese officers and soldiers were killed and 244 others were injured in Meidi desert, in the meantime, tens of military vehicles and a large volume of equipment were destroyed in the failed attempt," the sources went on to say.

Relevant reports said on Sunday that the Yemeni fighters from the Ansarullah movement reportedly engaged Saudi military forces near the kingdom’s Southwestern border regions, and killed a captain in the clashes.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported that Captain Mohammed bin Eid bin Abdullah al-Subaie from ground forces was killed several days ago, when Ansarullah fighters launched an attack against a border outpost in Southern Saudi Arabia.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960315000572

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Turkey’s Influence Network In Europe Is Leading To Tension

06/05/2017

Reports from Germany that emerged in early April concerning preliminary proceedings against twenty individuals for spying on behalf of Turkey are the latest evidence highlighting the increased use of clandestine networks controlled by Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatı (MIT). MIT, Turkey’s national intelligence agency, is reportedly targeting dissidents abroad as Turkey undergoes the most far-reaching crackdown on civil society since the 1980 military coup.

Turkish operation in Germany

Turkey has traditionally maintained an interest in the religious affairs of the Turkish diaspora in Europe, as religious and political movements among the broader Turkish community have played a major role in the development of Islamist parties and religious practices within the Turkish Republic. Followers of the U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen in Europe, as in other areas of the world with a Turkish presence, have operated newspapers and educational institutions for the past several decades.

With the largest Turkish diaspora in Western Europe, Germany has been central to Turkish clandestine activities. In August 2016, only weeks after the failed coup, German Green Party parliamentarian Hans-Christian Stroeble, a member of the Bundestag’s committee that oversees the national intelligence services, called for an immediate investigation of Turkish clandestine activities after the German press reported that MIT employed 800 officers in Western Europe, and 6,000 informants in Germany, a number greater even than the Stasi’s own network in West Germany at the height of the Cold War. Germany’s public broadcaster then revealed in December that MIT was attempting to use interpreters to spy on German officials.

Also in December 2016, Cumhuriyet, an independent Turkish newspaper, reported that Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs, or Diyanet, was collecting intelligence on the activities of Gülen sympathizers in 38 countries, including in Germany.

Central to the intelligence network in Germany is the organization Ditib (Diyanet İşleri Türk-İslam Birliği – Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs), founded in 1984 by the Turkish state. Ditib is responsible for the religious affairs of the Turkish diaspora in Germany and administers 970 Mosques with Imams trained by Diyanet. Raids by German law enforcement in February revealed that clerics from the organization were involved in espionage against Gülen’s followers. Accusations of espionage via the organization have existed since the 1990s, but these revelations pointed to far larger and more extensive operations than were previously thought.

MIT, Turkey’s national intelligence agency, is reportedly targeting dissidents abroad as Turkey undergoes the most far-reaching crackdown on civil society since the 1980 military coup.

The scandal continued to grow in February as the German press reported that local Turkish consulates in Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany held information sessions in which students of Turkish descent were instructed to secretly film their Turkish teachers and pass on any material indicating that their teachers were critical of President Erdoğan. Most recently it was revealed that MIT had given Bruno Kahl, the head of the BND, a list of 300 names of purported Gülen supporters that included Michelle Müntefering, the chairwoman of a German-Turkish Parliamentary Group and a member of the Bundestag. German security services personnel speculated in the press that the list may have been a ploy to force Germany to persecute the listed individuals and denounce Berlin as “soft on terrorism” if they do not follow through.

In the Netherlands, the chairman of the country’s Diyanet, Yusuf Acar, admitted in the press in December that he had collected information on Gülen sympathizers and passed it on to Ankara, leading to Dutch officials to criticize the “long arm” of the Turkish state.

Politicians in Austria have also begun to seriously investigate Turkish espionage. Green party parliamentarian and Security Policy Spokesman Peter Pilz released a report in early February on the clandestine activities of Turkish agents operating through ATIB (Avusturya Türkiye İslam Birliği – Austria Turkey Islamic Foundation), the Diyanet’s arm responsible for administering religious affairs across 63 mosques in the country, and other Turkish organizations. Pilz’s website faced a DDoS attack by Turkish hacktivists and heavy security was provided when he presented the report publicly. Per the report, Turkey operates a clandestine network of 200 informants targeting opposition as well as Gülen supporters inside Austria. The report and Pilz’s presentation also highlighted cases of Austrian citizens of Turkish descent who were arrested upon their arrival in Turkey, held in confinement, and subsequently expelled for posing a “threat to public security”, indicating that they were spied on in Austria.

Similar activities are taking place in Switzerland under the direction of Diyanet alongside espionage against academics who are critical of Turkey. As a result, Parliamentarian Alex Kuprecht announced that the government was considering opening a criminal case against regarding espionage and other illegal activities performed by Turkish agents against dissidents.

In December 2016, a 31-year-old Turkish citizen who had resided in Germany for a decade was arrested in Hamburg on suspicion of espionage and plotting the assassination of two prominent Kurds on behalf of Turkish security services. The activities of the Kurdish minority in Central Europe has long been a source of concern to the Turkish state, who has traditionally viewed their host governments as too tolerant of Kurdish activism, and the arrest may signal a more proactive approach by Turkey on this front as well.

A factor of tensions with the EU

The Turkish government, for its part, has adamantly denied the accusations and Erdogan’s spokesman İbrahim Kalın claimed on Turkish television that German intelligence is allowing members of Gülen’s organization to operate in Germany proper and plans to use them against Turkey.

While some experts on Political Islam such as Olivier Roy have cited the role of the Diyanet in promoting moderation that has led to lower levels of jihadi radicalization in the Turkish diaspora than among their Arab counterparts in Europe, the use of the organization, whose budget has ballooned under Turkey’s ruling AKP, as a surveillance tool for consolidating power is a new development. Diyanet could not only be used to consolidate Erdogan’s power in the post-coup environment but also to expand Turkey’s influence in Western and Central Europe among the Turkish minority, who were aggressively courted by Ankara for votes in support of the April 16th referendum.

These activities in Europe appear to be closely related with the increasing the power of Turkey’s intelligence services in the wake of the coup as part of both a long-standing effort to curtail the influence of the military and centralize power. When Hakan Fidan, the current director of MIT, took the post, there was only one deputy undersecretary at the agency, this number was then expanded to four, and two more were added in November 2016: a deputy for coordination between state institutions and a deputy for special operations. The targeting of dissidents also comes with the emergence of a new defense doctrine encompassing more proactive measures at home and abroad in defense of the Turkish state.

Full report at:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/turkeys-influence-network-in-europe-is-leading-to_us_593571dae4b062a6ac0ad1c9

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Turkey’s Erdoğan in phone diplomacy for resolution of Qatar crisis

June 6, 2017

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has spoken by phone with the leaders of Qatar, Russia, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia on easing the latest Qatar diplomatic crisis with Gulf countries, presidential sources said late on June 5.

“The importance of regional peace and stability was underlined in the talks, as well as the importance of focusing on the path of diplomacy and dialogue to lower the current tension,” the sources said in a statement.

A group of Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia and Egypt cut ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing the gas-rich Gulf country of supporting extremism, while a number of regional and global actors, including Turkey and the U.S., called for dialogue to resolve the dispute.

Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and the Maldives joined the duo in severing relations with gas-rich Qatar, accusing Doha of harboring “terrorist and sectarian groups that aim to destabilize the region including the Muslim Brotherhood, Daesh [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – ISIL] and al-Qaeda.”

After the talks between Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin said both leaders called for dialogue and compromise.

“The two presidents discussed the developments around Qatar and called on all interested countries to engage in dialogue with a view to reaching a compromise for the sake of preserving peace and stability in the Persian Gulf area,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

“It was emphasized that the grave crisis in the Middle East requires well-orchestrated efforts and close coordination of the international community in fighting the terrorist threat,” it added.

Both leaders also agreed to continue joint efforts to facilitate a settlement in Syria, in part by implementing the agreements on de-escalation zones as soon as possible as well as bilateral cooperation, restoring Russian-Turkish trade and economic ties and implementing the Turkish Stream project, according to the Kremlin.

The president also spoke with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and the emirs of Qatar and Kuwait.

The sources said Erdoğan would continue his contacts on the issue.  

Earlier in the day, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş stressed Ankara’s effort to find a solution by opening up all diplomatic channels with Doha.

“Our president, who is also the term president of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [OIC], has actively been involved in the process for the resolution of the problem by holding bilateral phone calls with a number of heads of states, some Islam and some Western countries,” Kurtulmuş told reporters after a cabinet meeting in the capital Ankara.

“As Turkey, we will discharge every responsibility for our part,” he added.

In a separate written statement by the Turkish presidency, presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said Ankara accepted the sanction decision against Qatar with sorrow, noting that the problem should be resolved through dialogue.

Full report at:

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-erdogan-in-phone-diplomacy-for-resolution-of-qatar-crisis-deputy-pm-kurtulmus.aspx?pageID=238&nID=113971&NewsCatID=510

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Houthi militia leaders, Iran come to Qatar’s defense after severance of ties

6 June 2017

Houthi militia leadership joined Iran in declaring their support for Qatar after several GCC states and Egypt severed ties with Doha on Monday in the latest developments of a widening rift between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors.

Mohammad Ali al-Houthi, head of the so-called Revolutionary Committee, expressed readiness to cooperate with Qatar, describing them as “loyal”.

The Arab Coalition has also announced that it has suspended Qatar’s participation in all efforts to restore the legitimate government in Yemen.

Meanwhile, Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Bahram Qassimi said that Tehran considered the use of sanctions as “an inefficient, blameworthy, rejected, and unacceptable move”.

EXPLAINER: Reasons why Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Qatar

General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has issued a decision banning all Qatari airlines and aircraft from landing at Saudi Arabia’s airports immediately.

It has also been estimated that Qatar stands to lose 82 percent of its Gulf imports due to closing of the borders and economic sanctions. Qatar relies heavily on the Gulf countries in its trade and imports, especially with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/06/06/Houthis-join-Iran-come-to-Qatar-s-defense-after-severance-of-ties.html

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Yemeni government cuts diplomatic ties with Qatar

5 June 2017

Yemen's government cut ties with Qatar on Monday, accusing it of working with its enemies of the Iran-aligned Houthi militia, state news agency Saba reported.

"Qatar's practices of dealing with the (Houthi) coup militias and supporting extremist groups became clear," the government said in a statement.

It added that Yemen supported a decision by a Saudi-led coalition fighting for more than two years to oust the Houthis from the capital Sanaa to remove Qatar from its ranks announced earlier on Monday.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/06/05/Yemeni-government-cuts-diplomatic-ties-with-Qatar.html

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Houthi militias shell residential neighborhoods in Taiz

5 June 2017

Houthi militias and forces loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh violently and randomly shelled residential neighborhoods in the north and east Taiz at midnight.

The rebels launched their attack from their positions in al-Hawban, Tabat Softel, Tabel al-Salal and al-Jaasha in east of Taiz and from al-Siteen street in north of Taiz.

A source in al-Hawban told Al-Arabiya news channel that the militias have mobilized massive military reinforcements that consist of tanks, artillery and military vehicles which transported dozens of militiamen.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/06/05/Houthi-militias-shell-residential-neighborhoods-in-Taiz.html

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China says will support Iran’s full membership in SCO

Jun 5, 2017

A senior Chinese diplomat has thrown his country’s weight behind Iran’s membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an emerging economic and security alliance jointly led by China and Russia.

“China welcomes and supports Iran's wish to become a formal member of the SCO," Assistant Chinese Foreign Minister Li Huilai told reporters on Monday, ahead of the group's summit in the Kazakh capital of Astana this week.

He added that Iran currently has an observer status in the organization and has for a long time “proactively participated” in its activities and has made positive contributions to the SCO's development.

"China highly appraises this. I think that at this meeting all sides will continue to conscientiously study the issue of Iran becoming a member on the basis of the SCO's relevant rules and consensus through consultations," the Chinese diplomat said.

China has close economic and diplomatic relations with Iran and played an instrumental role in pushing through the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Although Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had supported Iran’s full-fledged SCO membership, the body last year failed to initiate the accession process for Iran which expected to make it into the group after the implementation of the JCPOA and the lifting of sanctions. 

Li further noted that Pakistan and India would also formally join the SCO as members at the Astana summit, saying that the organization is becoming more attractive among others and its influence continues to increase.

"More and more countries have said they hope to become dialogue partners, observers or formal members of the SCO. China welcomes countries who want to and who meet the conditions to apply to become members, observers or dialogue partners," he added.

The SCO was formed in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan to curb extremism in the region and enhance border security.

The intergovernmental organization seeks to strengthen mutual trust and good neighborly ties between the member countries, contribute to regional stability and facilitate cooperation in different sectors, including political, trade, economic and energy issues.

Full report at:

http://217.218.67.231/Detail/2017/06/05/524300/Iran-China-Shanghai-Cooperation-Organization-Li-Huilai-membership

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Iran urges explicit dialogue between Qatar, Persian Gulf states

Jun 5, 2017

Iran's Foreign Ministry has urged Qatar and its neighboring countries in the Persian Gulf to resolve their disputes through diplomacy and explicit dialogue after six Arab states severed diplomatic relations with the gas-rich peninsula and imposed travel and transport blockades on it.

“The solution to differences among regional countries, including the current dispute between Qatar and its three neighboring states, is possible only through political and peaceful methods as well as transparent and explicit dialogue among the involved parties," Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Monday.

He added that no country in the region and the world would benefit from the escalation of tensions among neighboring states, particularly at a time when both regional and world nations were suffering from the widespread consequences of the spread of terrorism and extremism and the continuation of Palestine’s occupation by the Israeli regime.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran calls on all neighbors involved in the ongoing disputes in south of the Persian Gulf to learn from the bitter experiences in the region…and move toward decreasing tension and restoring peace while exercising restraint,” Qassemi said.

The Iranian spokesperson emphasized that using sanctions in the current interlinked world was an inefficient and unacceptable move.

He said the maintenance of national sovereignty and territorial integrity of independent countries and non-interference in their domestic affairs as well as showing respect for recognized international borders were among the fundamental principles of international law, which should be observed by all.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed their diplomatic ties and all land, sea and air contacts with Qatar on Monday, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism and extremism and interfering in their internal affairs, in the biggest diplomatic crisis to hit the region in years.

Later in the day, Libya’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Dayri said that his country also followed suit with regional allies and cut its diplomatic relations with Qatar. The Maldives and Yemen's former government have also taken a similar step.

Meanwhile, the so-called Saudi-led "coalition," which is currently involved in a war on Yemen said it was ending Qatar's membership. The measure, it said, was due to Doha's "practices that strengthen terrorism and its support to organizations in Yemen, including al-Qaeda and Daesh, as well as dealing with the rebel militias."

Coercion never the solution: Iran FM

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday stressed the importance of dialogue among the regional countries, particularly during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

“Neighbors are permanent; geography can't be changed. Coercion is never the solution. Dialog is imperative, especially during blessed Ramadan,” Zarif said in a post on his Twitter account.

Following the unprecedented escalation in regional tensions, the Iranian foreign minister held separate phone calls with his Turkish, Indonesian, Iraqi and Omani counterparts, Mevlut Cavusoglu, Retno Marsudi, Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Yousef bin Alawi, respectively.

Arab countries’ tensions rooted in US interference: Iran MP

Meanwhile, a senior Iranian lawmaker said on Monday that the latest dispute among Arab countries in the region was rooted in US interference, adding that Tehran had always opposed meddling by foreign powers in regional affairs.

“The first outcome of US President Donald Trump's visit to the [Middle East] region was the emergence of divisions among regional countries," Chairman of the Iranian Parliament's Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy Alaeddin Boroujerdi said.

Iran has always emphasized that regional issues must be resolved by the countries in the region, he added.

Full report at:

http://217.218.67.231/Detail/2017/06/05/524282/Iran-Qatar-Saudi-Arabia-Bahrain-Yemen-UAE-Egypt-Yemen-Bahram-Qassemi-Mohammad-Javad-Zarif-Alaeddin-Boroujerdi

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Turkey to strip 130 people of citizenship on terror charges

Jun 5, 2017

Turkey says it will revoke the citizenship of 130 overseas nationals, including the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, over allegations of terror activities and crimes against the constitutional order, unless they return to the Anatolian country within a three-month period beginning from June 5.

According to Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency, citing a notice by the Interior Ministry published in the Official Gazette on Monday, pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) legislators Faysal Sariyildiz and Tugba Hezer, and former HDP lawmaker Ozdal Ucer, were also included in the released list.

Shortly after the attempted coup in mid-July last year, Ankara blamed Gulen of masterminding and orchestrating the botched putsch, in which some 250 people lost their lives and about 2,200 sustained injuries. However, Gulen, 76, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, since 1999 and strongly opposes Ankara, denies any involvement in the coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Furthermore, the Turkish government, has branded the Gulen's movement, as the "Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO)." Ankara has also tried for a number of times to convince Washington to extradite Gulen, but all to no avail. 

A few days after the coup attempt, Turkey imposed a state of emergency, under which 150,000 people, most of whom accused of supporting the so-called FETO, have been sacked or suspended from the public sector, including teachers, academics, doctors and members of the armed forces. The state of emergency has been renewed three times.

More than 50,000 people have also been imprisoned on suspicion of having links to the coup and the FETO.

The notice further said the suspects should return to Turkey within the time limit and apply to the "relevant authorities" upon their arrival.

More than a dozen of HDP's legislators are already behind bars in Turkey, including opposition party's co-leaders, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, facing hundreds of years inside for alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is perceived by Ankara as a terrorist group and is in a middle of a bloody war with the Turkish government.

Meanwhile, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu claimed that a trend had commenced in Europe for spy agencies to employ journalists for espionage activities.

Turkish top diplomat, who made the remarks during a joint presser with his German counterpart in Ankara, also commented on the case of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel, whom Turkey held in police custody in February over a charge of spreading terrorist propaganda.

"Our independent judiciary is carrying out the process. The judiciary will make the decision on Yucel," Cavusoglu added.

Full report at:

http://217.218.67.231/Detail/2017/06/05/524308/Turkey-Gulen-FETO-PKK-citizenship-coup-Erdogan-HDP

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Pakistan

 

Pakistan parliament to take final decision on military alliance with Saudi Arabia

Jun, 05 2017

Islamabad: Pakistan government has decided to take the issue of joining the Saudi-led 41 nation military alliance to parliament, amid concerns among the policymakers that the alliance would create further sectarian divisions in the country.

In principle, Pakistan agreed to be part of the Islamic Military Alliance against Terrorism (IMAT) as it granted permission to its former army chief general (retd) Raheel Sharif to head the grouping. However, the extent of Pakistan's participation in the alliance has yet to be decided.

Saudi leadership used a recent Arab-US summit in Riyadh to target Iran, which has forced Pakistan authorities to tread a careful path.

There has been a realisation within the policymakers that the alliance would create further sectarian divisions, said officials familiar with the development.

Last week, prime minister's adviser on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz conceded before the senate that Riyadh conference had widened the sectarian divide in the Muslim world.

Pakistan was stuck between the "devil and the deep blue sea" meaning that neither it could say completely "No" to Saudi Arabia nor could afford antagonising neighbouring Iran, an official was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune.

"So, we are trying to find a middle ground. We want to ensure a balance in our ties with Saudi Arabia and Iran," the official explained.

In order to achieve that difficult task, the official said, the government would present the terms of reference of the military alliance before parliament for approval.

The thinking behind this move is to use the leverage provided by parliament to set certain limits as far as Pakistan’s participation in the activities of Saudi-led military alliance is concerned.

The government has already made it clear that member countries are free to decide the activities they would want to become part of it in the alliance.

This, according to officials, has provided a room to the government to set clear guidelines.

Given the tricky situation facing Pakistan, the government has drawn certain red lines that seek to ensure that it does not become part of any initiative aimed at any other Muslim country.

"We cannot side with any party to create rift within the Muslim ummah (community). We don't want to align ourselves with any alliance which is against other countries because that’s part of our policy," commented ruling party senator lieutenant general (retd) Abdul Qayum.

In 2015, the government took the Saudi request seeking Pakistani troops for its campaign in Yemen to parliament.

The national assembly and senate passed a unanimous resolution urging the government to stay away from the conflict involving other Muslim countries while at the same time reiterating full support to Saudi Arabia's territorial integrity and sovereignty.

The move, however, caused an unusual strain in Pakistan’s ties with Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.

Opposition parties — Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan People's Party — have insisted that the 10 April, 2015 joint resolution of parliament should serve as a guideline for the government.

The adviser assured that the government would seek rectification of parliament before taking a final decision on the Saudi-led military alliance.

http://www.firstpost.com/world/pakistan-parliament-to-take-final-decision-on-military-alliance-with-saudi-arabia-3518881.html

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Pakistan in a fix over Qatar crisis

June 06, 2017

ISLAMABAD - Saudi Arabia-led decision on Monday to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar has put Pakistan between a rock and a hard place as Islamabad enjoys friendly ties with both the states.

Six Arab states – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Bahrain, Libya and Yemen – closed their ties with their Gulf neighbour accusing it of sponsoring terrorism and escalating the tensions in the region.

Reacting angrily to the closure of borders and airspace, and severing of diplomatic relations by these states, Qatar condemned the decision describing it as an ‘unjustified’ move based on ‘false claims and assumptions’ to ‘undermine’ the oil rich Gulf state.

Pakistan, in its immediate response, said it won’t join the KSA-led move against Qatar – whose ruling elite is close to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Since PM Sharif has personal ties with the Saudi royal family too, it will be hard to leave one and choose the other.

Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said that Pakistan would continue diplomatic ties with Qatar.

“For now [at least], there is no change for Qatar. We will announce if there is any development on this issue,” he said.

Another official at the foreign ministry said that Pakistan would not jump into confrontation between other countries.

“We cannot cut ties with Saudi Arabia or Qatar for their tension. Pakistan is a sovereign country and has to take its own interests into consideration,” he added.

The KSA, who led the move, accused the Sunni majority state of sponsoring terrorism through support to groups like al-Qaeda, Daesh (ISIS) and Muslim Brotherhood.

It also accused Qatar of supporting Iranian-backed militants in its restive and largely Shia-populated eastern region of Qatif and in Bahrain.

Interestingly, Qatar in recent weeks has been accused outright of terror funding in articles which have appeared in the American media.

The US and Iran had divergent opinion about the crisis but they both urged all the parties to address their differences through dialogue.

The Qatari test for Pakistan comes amid tensions with India, Iran and Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has his own reasons for better ties with Qatar as his family is being probed in Panama leaks scandal where Qatari Prince Hamad bin Jasim bin Jaber Al-Thani is playing a role to rescue them.

On the other hand, Riyadh has saved Sharif’s life in the past when military ruler Pervez Musharraf had imprisoned him after a coup in 1999.

Also, they have always economically helped Pakistan – especially when Sharif is in power.

A senior government official said that Pakistan was finding it hard to keep the all sides happy.

“There is tension all around. We have differences with Afghanistan. We are trying to placate Iran and there is tension along the Line of Control (LOC). Amid all this, we have been thrown into a new test [by Saudi Arabia],” he contended.

On Monday, Qatari Prince Hamad bin Jasim bin Jaber Al-Thani regretted that he could not appear before the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the Panama Papers case against the Sharif family as he was ‘busy’.

Earlier, Hussain Nawaz - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s son - had requested the JIT to allow the Qatari prince to record his statement through video link.

The JIT quashed the plea on Monday.

However, a letter by Qatri prince was delivered to the JIT in which he maintained that he could not personally attend the proceedings.

Saudi Arabia may not officially ask Pakistan to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar but Riyadh will definitely expect Islamabad to show solidarity.

Pakistan recently allowed former army chief Raheel Sharif to command a Saudi Arabia-led military alliance of 39 Muslim states.

The alliance was formed by the kingdom in December 2015 with its headquarters in Riyadh.

Iran had objected to the formation of the alliance fearing it was a Sunni-alliance rather than a Muslim alliance.

The government had also delayed approval to Raheel – considering Iran’s objections – for several months before finally giving a nod to the former army chief.

Former Pakistan ambassador to the United States Senator Sherry Rehman said that events were overtaking Pakistan’s responses at international forums where dangerous tensions were escalating at multiple levels.

“Fault-lines in the Muslim world will only hurt Pakistan one way or the other, as we have stakes in all blocs and countries,” she said.

The lawmaker said that it was one thing to not take sides in the Qatar crisis, but “this is not leadership”.

She added: “How did Pakistan manage to get so sidelined at the Saudi Arabia conference? As a frontline state in the war against terrorism and as a nuclear power we were not given due recognition.”

The Pakistan People’s Party leader said that in the divides and wars in the Muslim world, Pakistan should have been leading as a peacemaker, not just a victim of circumstances.

“We need to take control of our messaging, and our diplomacy, but for that you need a government and foreign minister who is not under siege,” she said.

Senator Sherry said that the nation must be told about the reality of its relations with states in the Middle East and the neighbourhood.

“Right now there is no transparency on foreign policy, nor is there a clear directional path articulated by government,” she maintained.

Former ambassador Shahid Amin said that Pakistan had special relations with all the Muslim-majority countries in the Gulf and the Middle East.

“We should play a role to work together. We cannot stand with one and ignore the other,” he said.

Charge-sheet against Qatar

Agencies add: Saudi news agency SPA said on Monday Riyadh cut the ties and closed borders with its neighbour to “protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism”.

A Saudi official cited by SPA said the country decided to “sever diplomatic and consular ties with Qatar, and to close all land, sea and aviation ports”.

The “decisive” measure was due to “gross violations committed by authorities in Qatar over the past years”, the Saudi statement said.

“(Qatar) embraces multiple terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at disturbing stability in the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS (Islamic State) and al-Qaeda, and promotes the message and schemes of these groups through their media constantly,” state news agency SPA said.

The UAE followed suit in cutting ties, and Egypt’s foreign ministry also accused Doha of supporting terrorism as it announced the severing of diplomatic relations. The statement said all Egyptian ports and airports would be closed to Qatari vessels and planes.

The UAE has given Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave the country. Abu Dhabi accuses Doha of “supporting, funding and embracing terrorism, extremism and sectarian organisations,” state news agency WAM said.

Bahrain’s news agency said the tiny kingdom was cutting ties with Doha over its insistence on “shaking the security and stability of Bahrain and meddling in its affairs”.

The Saudi-led Arab coalition fighting rebels in Yemen’s two-year war meanwhile said it was expelling Qatar over what it said was the country’s support for organisations including Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group. Doha has long faced accusations that it is a state sponsor of terror.

It has been criticised in some quarters for its support of rebel groups fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Qatari individuals have also been sanctioned by the US Treasury for terror-funding activities.

It was also criticised for providing a sanctuary to former Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal, who earlier this month used his Doha base — where he has lived in exile for several years — to launch a new policy document.

The Afghan Taliban opened an office in Doha in 2013.

Qatar, which will host the 2022 football World Cup, is a member of the US-led coalition to defeat the Islamic State group. The country is also home to the Al-Udeid airbase, where the US conducts all coalition air operations for the region

The decision comes after Qatar alleged in late May that hackers took over the site of its state-run news agency and published what it called fake comments from its ruling emir about Iran and Israel.

Its Gulf Arab neighbours responded with anger, blocking Qatari-based media, including the Doha-based satellite news network Al-Jazeera.

Qatari reaction

Qatar foreign ministry in an angry reaction condemned the decision and described it as a move to “undermine” the state of Qatar.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar expresses its deep regret and surprise at the decisions [by the neighbours]... to close their borders and airspace, and sever diplomatic relations with the State of Qatar, bearing in mind that these measures are unjustified and based on false claims and assumptions,” it said in a statement.

It said Qatar has been subjected to a campaign of lies that have reached the point of complete fabrication. It reveals a hidden plan to undermine Qatar.

“Qatar is an active member of the Gulf Cooperation Council and is fully committed to its charter. Qatar respects the sovereignty of other nations and does not interfere in their internal affairs, and it has fulfilled its role in fighting terrorism and extremism,” the statement said.

The statement said it is clear that the media campaign of fabrications has failed to sway public opinion in the region, and among Gulf countries in particular, and this explains the continued escalation against Qatar.

“That reasons were fabricated in order to take action against a brotherly GCC nation is clear evidence that there is no legitimate justification for such measures, which have been implemented in coordination with Egypt,” said the statement.

“Their purpose is clearly the imposition of guardianship over Qatar, which is in itself a violation of its sovereignty, and is rejected outright.”

The Qatari statement pointed out that the allegations contained in the statements by the three GCC nations clearly confirm the existence of a planned and clandestine media campaign, which has included fabrications and fake news.

The Foreign Ministry stressed that these measures will not affect the normal course of life of citizens and residents of Qatar. The Qatari government will take all necessary measures to ensure this and thwart attempts to influence and harm Qatari society and economy.

Finally, Qatar’s Foreign Ministry expressed its regret that the three countries have determined, at this critical time for the region, that there are no greater threats to their people that require their attention, and have instead decided to target and cause harm to the State of Qatar.”

US response

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he does not expect Monday’s actions to have an impact on the fight against terrorism in the region or globally.

The US military’s Central Command maintains a large presence at the al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/06-Jun-2017/pakistan-in-a-fix-over-qatar-crisis

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PUC condemns terrorism, issues decree against KSA, UK and Kabul attacks

June 6, 2017

Lahore

Pakistan Ulema Council while denouncing terrorists attacks in Saudi Arabia, Kabul and London said that enemies of ‘world peace’ are maneuvering conspiracies to create religion-based clashes between believers of different religions of the world. To condemn prevailing wave of extremism and terrorism, ‘Dar-ul-Afta’ of Pakistan Ulema Council released a decree here Sunday with consent of Ulemas and religious scholars of different religious sects and renowned Ulemas of the country including, Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, Maulana Abdul Hameed Watto, Maulana Ayub Safdar, Maulana Ghulam Ullah Khan, Maulana Abdul Kareem Nadeem, Maulana Shakeel Qasmi, Maulana Shafi Qasmi, Maulana Abdul Haq Mujahid, Maulana Tahir Aqeel Awan, Maulana Asad Zikriya, Maulana Haji Muhammad Tayyab, Maulana Abdul Hameed Sabri,Maulana Nauman Hashir.

The decree issued on account of ‘Dar-ul-Afta’ of Pakistan Ulema Council stated that Islam prohibited Muslim Ummah to get exceed on any issue from defined limitations. Extremist organizations like Daesh (IS) are defaming Muslim Ummah across the world. History of Islam witness to the fact that ‘Takfeeri groups’ in early years of Islam martyred Hazrat Uthman (RA) and Hazrat Ali (RA) and these very extremist elements within grab of Muslims and Islam caused damages to Islam and Muslim Ummah more none than others. Quran terms killing of an individual as killing of the entire human beings Islam announced disassociation with killers of innocent people.

In recent terrorists attacks in Saudi Arabia, Manchester, Kabul, London and some African countries, women and innocent children were targeted, which is explicit proof that elements responsible for these terrorists’ attacks have no affiliation either with Muslims or Islam. Pakistan Ulema Council appeals to the peaceful intellectuals, scholars and leadership of different religions of the world and specifically to leadership of Muslim countries to play their respective role for annihilation of extremism and terrorism from surface of the world.

Full report at:

http://pakobserver.net/puc-condemns-terrorism-issues-decree-ksa-uk-kabul-attacks/

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‘Religious parties may form electoral alliance,’ says Islamic Tehrik’s general secretary

June 6, 2017

LAHORE: Islami Tehrik Pakistan General Secretary Allama Arif Wahidi has said religious parties may form an electoral alliance to contest the next general elections, said.

He expressed views while talking to the media on Sunday. He said leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) and other religious parties are being contacted to form an alliance. He said the new alliance could be formed on the pattern of Muttahida Majlis-e-Ammal (MMA) to save religious vote bank from getting divided.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2017/06/05/religious-parties-may-form-electoral-alliance-says-islamic-tehriks-general-secretary/

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IHC directs Pemra to ensure observance of Ramazan guidelines

June 6, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to make sure observance of a code of conduct with reference to Ramazan transmission.

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui passed this direction to Pemra during the hearing of a petition filed against broadcast of indecent content on private television channels.

The court directed Pemra to ensure implementation on the Electronic Media Code of Conduct, 2015, Ramazan guidelines and designated 10pc air time for ‘public service messages’ on TV channels.

The Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) had challenged the Ramazan guidelines before the Supreme Court and the apex court stopped Pemra from taking any adverse action on the violations.

Pemra while in compliance with the apex court’s orders has suspended action on violation of Ramazan guidelines by some TV channels.

The SC had directed the IHC to pass an appropriate order in this regard on June 5 observing that “till then no adverse action be taken against the petitioner association”.

When the case was taken up on Monday, the counsel for PBA could not appear before the court to argue the matter. An associate of the counsel informed the court that he could not appear before the court because he was not feeling well.

In the order, Justice Siddiqui noted that despite being on leave he held the court in compliance with the SC orders but the counsel for PBA did not show up. Subsequently, the court while issuing directions to the electronic media regulator adjourned the matter for July 4.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1337744/ihc-directs-pemra-to-ensure-observance-of-ramazan-guidelines

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Sharifs lost only 'money trail' as Qatari Prince not appearing before JIT: Imran

June 06, 2017

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said that it seems as if the Sharif’s have lost their money trail as Qatri Prince is not willing to appear before JIT.

Earlier the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) had received reply of Qatari Prince Hamad Bin Jasim Bin Jaber Al Thani through a letter.

The reply is being sent with reference of ongoing Panama Leaks investigation being conducted by JIT. There are reports circulating that the Prince has said that he would not be appearing before the JIT.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/06-Jun-2017/sharifs-lost-only-money-trail-as-qatari-prince-not-appearing-before-jit-imran

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Pakistan awaits Trump admin to clarify strategy on Afghanistan: Aizaz

June 06, 2017

WASHINGTON -  Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry has stressed that Pakistan is waiting for the Trump administration to clarify its strategy for the Afghanistan conflict.

“Pakistan’s military has swept terrorist groups from the nation’s once-lawless tribal areas, but the gains could be put at risk if the security situation across the border in Afghanistan is not brought under control,” he said in an interview to Washington Post.

“Pakistan’s reputation as a source of instability and a haven for jihadists is badly out of date.”

He argued that Pakistan’s economy was on a sharp upswing and that relations with Washington were stronger today than at any other time since the covert American commando raid that killed al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in his Pakistani hideout six years ago.

“There are some perceptions which are not fully up to speed with the new reality of Pakistan, a reality that has changed only very recently. We have reversed the tide of terrorism, which had come down heavy on us,” he said.

Having just arrived in Washington in March, Chaudhry took care to neither openly praise nor criticise the Trump administration’s foreign policy. As “an honored guest” of the US, he is eager to deal with the man whom American voters chose as their president.

“Pakistan is a strong supporter of the global Paris climate accord. President Trump withdrew the US from the agreement last week. There are issues on which Pakistan has its own positions regardless of what the US position is,” said Chaudhry, noting that, Pakistan is at risk of flooding as Himalayan glaciers melt. “We supported the Paris talks. We are committed to it.”

On another front, the Ambassador went to lengths to credit China just as much as Washington for helping spur remarkable economic progress. “Pakistan’s economy is on pace to grow at an annual 6 percent rate next year, and predictions say it could emerge among the world’s top 20 by 2030, a dramatic rise from its current rank in the 40s. The stock market in the predominantly Muslim nation of roughly 200 million people is booming,” he said.

“The biggest foreign investment — some $60 billion in recent years — is from Beijing, which sees Pakistan as a key conduit for development in China’s mainly Muslim western region. China has poured money into energy projects aimed at easing Pakistan’s electricity shortages. But the boldest investment is the development of a major deep-sea port in Gwadar, designed to open Pakistan’s southern coastline to trade routes in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, a critical link in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “One Belt One Road” growth strategy for wider Asia and beyond,” he added.

He said the Chinese investments have coincided with a rare moment of political stability in Pakistan, after the nation’s first-ever successful transition from one democratically elected government to another in 2013.

“Over the past decade, the instability was spiked by a bloody campaign of suicide bombings and other attacks by al Qaeda and other jihadi groups on civilian and government targets. But an aggressive counterterrorism campaign launched by the Sharif government in the northwest Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) has sharply reduced such violence,” Chaudhry said.

“The number of terrorist incidents, which used to be very high, up to 150 terrorist incidents per month on the average right up to 2014, is today down to single digits. That has sent a very positive wave all across the country,” the Ambassador said.

“Hopes are high that foreign investment will grow amid prospects for another smooth transition after elections next year. Pakistan’s improving economic picture means that the Koreans, the Turks, the European and corporate America are also coming in, with energy plants being built along the nation’s southern coastline. The next phase for us is to build a series of industrial zones. We are expecting and attracting investments, and many of the European countries are particularly keen.”

“So with our labor, the Chinese want to bring in capital, and if the technology can come in from the West, I think it would be an ideal combination for everybody,” the Ambassador said.

“The US has sent roughly $2 billion a year in aid to Pakistan in the past two decades. The majority of the money was aimed at supporting the Pakistani military. But now corporate America is beginning to sense opportunities. I think they are able to see what, perhaps, you and I are not able to see.”

 “General Electric Co. recently won a project bid to generate 3,600 megawatts of electricity in Pakistan, and Exxon Mobil Corp. has put together a consortium to spend roughly $800 million to build a liquefied natural gas terminal and ‘gasifying plant’ near the new southern seaport. It’s why Procter and Gamble is there, why PepsiCo is there, why many companies are going there. They’re not going because they want to put their money at risk; they are going there because they can see that there is some money to be made.”

But the Ambassador stressed that all of Pakistan’s regional and economic ambitions could be derailed if the situation continues to deteriorate in neighbouring Afghanistan, where the number of attacks by extremists, including the Islamic State, is on the rise.

“How does the United States want to deal with their huge investment in Afghanistan, both militarily and economically? We are waiting for it,” the Ambassador said. He was referring to a highly anticipated shift in US strategy that the Trump administration has said will be announced in the coming weeks. “We think that the United States also wants to stabilise Afghanistan. Why? Because you have invested hugely in blood and in treasure for the last 15 to 16 years there,” he said.

One plan reportedly being circulated through the White House and the Pentagon calls for up to 5,000 more US troops, with a matching commitment from NATO, which could bring to roughly 15,000 the total number of foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Chaudhry did not take an explicit position on a proposed troop increase but said: “Any use of military force should be tied to a push for a political solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. Such a push should include the pursuit of a peace process with the Taliban. The jihadi insurgent group, which once harbored al Qaeda and bin Laden in Afghanistan, has extended its grip on territory since US forces ended their combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014,” he said.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/06-Jun-2017/pakistan-awaits-trump-admin-to-clarify-strategy-on-afghanistan-aizaz

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Six workers freed from Taliban after a year

June 06, 2017

PESHAWAR - Six Pakistani employees of a Polish oil and gas surveying company kidnapped on November 26 last year by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Sajna group in Dera Ismail Khan have been released, officials confirmed on Monday.

The abducted employees of Geofizyka Krakow have reached Wana, in South Waziristan after their release.

The company has been in liquidation since August, and a spokesperson for its parent company, PGNiG, had told Reuters at the time of the abduction that the six men were “sub-contractors.”

On May 9, the workers pleaded for their lives in a video released by the militant faction. The six could be seen in the video sitting on a floor, flanked by two masked, armed TTP militants while one of them read a statement.

A Polish engineer from the same company was kidnapped in late 2008 near the same area and beheaded several months later. On May 24, armed men pretending to be policemen kidnapped two Chinese language teachers from Jinnah town, an affluent residential area in Quetta.

Security in the country has improved over the last few years but many of the northwestern areas bordering Afghanistan remain volatile and dangerous, especially for foreigners and those working with foreign companies.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/06-Jun-2017/six-workers-freed-from-taliban-after-a-year

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South Asia

 

Myanmar’s Rakhine Lawmakers Want More ‘Ethnic Villages’ in Muslim-Majority Areas

06 Jun 2017

Lawmakers from western Myanmar’s Rakhine state urged the government on Monday to build more ethnic Rakhine villages in Muslim-majority townships in the northern part of the state where a recent four-month crackdown on Rohingya Muslims forced tens of thousands of people to flee.

Replying to a question by Rakhine state legislator Thet Tun Aung during a meeting in the upper house of the state parliament, General Than Htut, deputy minister of border affairs, said 36 ethnic Rakhine villages had already been built in Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships.

“We have built 14 ethnic villages in Maungdaw,” said Than Htut from the ministry responsible for the development of border areas and national races.

“A total of 36 villages have already been built in Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships,” he said, but did not mention any plans to construct additional non-Muslim ethnic villages.

Buthidaung and Maungdaw along with adjacent Rathedaung township in northern Rakhine were under a four-month crackdown from October 2016 to February 2017 after a deadly raid on border guard posts by a militant group that claimed to represent the country’s Muslim Rohingya community.

About 1,000 people were killed during the crackdown, and roughly 90,000 Rohingya were displaced, with many of them fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh where they are living in refugee camps.

Some ethic Rakhine people also fled the area during the violence.

The villages are for local Rakhine ethnics and those from Yangon region who want to move to northern Rakhine state, Than Htut said.

The government is providing each new non-Muslim household in the village in the two townships with a place to live, two acres of farmland, one acre of garden space, a trishaw, sewing machine, rice and other food supplies, and a cultivator, he said.

About 3,400 ethnic Rakhine Buddhists comprising 74 households who moved into Buthidaung and Maungdaw from neighboring Bangladesh have also been placed in some of the villages and have received rice and other rations from the government, he said.

The ethnic Rakhine living in Bangladesh had fled the state in 2012 following communal violence between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims that left more than 200 people dead and displaced tens of thousands.

The government started building ethnic villages to attract non-Muslims back to the area as a measure to balance out the population of which Rohingya and Kaman Muslims constitute the majority.

Rakhine state is home to about 1.1 million Rohingya, about 120,000 of whom live in internally displaced persons camps as a result of the 2012 communal violence.

The Rohingya are denied basic rights, freedom of movement, and access to social services and education because they are viewed as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, although most have lived in Myanmar for generations.

Rakine Advisory Commission visit

In a related development, members of the Rakhine community in the state capital Sittwe on Monday asked an advisory commission appointed by the country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi to help resolve the religious and ethnic divisions in the unstable region, to reconsider resettling Muslims from the Kanyindaw refugee camp in Kyaukpyu township that was closed down last month.

The Rakhine state government closed down the camp in May as part of three planned camp closures in accordance with the commission’s recommendation.

Sittwe resident Zaw Tun said people who lived in the Kanyindaw camps were placed in homes after the facilities were shut down, but they have experienced flooding and sanitation problems in the new houses.

“The commission should go and check the new places where they were resettled and see if they are OK with these houses and ask them about their job opportunities,” said Zaw Tun.

The state's camps house Kaman Muslims, ethnic Rakhine people, and Rohingya Muslims who have been living in them since 2012 when they were displaced by communal violence.

Led by former United Nations chief Kofi Annan, the nine-member commission met with students and other youths, farmers and representatives from civil society organizations in the Rakhine state capital Sittwe as part of a five-day trip.

Annan, however, is not joining the rest of the committee members on this trip, which also includes stops in the towns of Kyauttaw, Mrauk-U and Thandwe.

When the commission asked young people in Sittwe if they thought it was possible for ethnic Rakhine Buddhists to work with local Muslims in the divided state, they replied that the time was still not right, Zaw Tun said.

Though the commission is not responsible for evaluating the human rights situation in Rakhine, it did suggest in an interim report issued in March that the government should immediately begin allowing displaced Rohingya to return to their homes in Rakhine and eventually shut down the internal camps where more than 120,000 have resided following communal violence with Buddhist nationalists in 2012.

The report included 30 recommendations, including allowing humanitarian groups and media to visit conflict areas in Rakhine, providing equal access to health care and education, training police, recognizing Rohingya as Myanmar citizens and giving them citizen’s rights, and resettling the Rohingya.

The Myanmar government agreed with the findings and said it would implement the majority of its recommendations.

The commission will also submit a final report on its findings to the government in late August.

http://reliefweb.int/report/myanmar/myanmar-s-rakhine-lawmakers-want-more-ethnic-villages-muslim-majority-areas

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Taliban suffer heavy casualties in Maidan Wardak airstrike: MoD

Jun 05 2017

The Taliban insurgents suffered heavy casualties during an airstrike conducted in central Maidan Wardak province of Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that the airstrike was carried out in the vicinity of Jalriz district, one of the volatile districts of the province.

A statement by MoD said at least 23 insurgents were killed and around 40 others were wounded in the airstrike.

The statement further added that several weapons, ammunitions, and other military equipment belonging to the Taliban insurgents were also destroyed.

The ministry also added that 7 Taliban insurgents were killed and 9 others were wounded during a separate operation in Ghazni province while 13 insurgents were killed and 6 others were wounded during the operations in Kunduz province.

According to MoD, at least 8 insurgents were killed and two vehicles and a motorcycle were destroyed during an operation in Helmand province and 2 more were killed and 6 others were wounded during another operation in Kapisa province.

The Ministry of Defense said the casualties were incurred to the Taliban insurgents in the past 24 hours.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/taliban-suffer-heavy-casualties-in-maidan-wardak-airstrike-mod-02876

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Kabul to host peace summit after week of deadly violence

June 6, 2017

Kabul - Kabul will host a multinational peace conference on Afghanistan Tuesday, as the capital reels from a wave of bombings and clashes that left more than 100 people dead and hundreds wounded in the last week.

Much of Kabul remains on lockdown ahead of the conference, labelled the “Kabul Process”, with tighter than usual security including more armed checkpoints and armoured vehicles patrolling the streets.

Representatives of around two dozen countries will attend the meeting, which aims to build international support on ways to restore security in the conflict-torn country, the government said on Monday.

“The Kabul Process is meant to reach a consensus with the region and the world for peace in Afghanistan,” said presidential spokesman Shah Hussain Murtazawi.

The conference will be attended by a host of nations, including the United States, India, China and Pakistan.

Kabul has been on edge since a truck bombing last Wednesday in the highly fortified diplomatic quarter killed at least 90 people and wounded hundreds, the deadliest attack in the city since 2001.

The dead included at least 31 staff and business partners of Roshan, Afghanistan’s leading telecom provider, with their main office in Kabul heavily damaged and nationwide operations disrupted.

Four more people were killed Friday when hundreds of protesters incensed by the bombing clashed with police, prompting officials to beat them back with live rounds in the air, tear gas and water cannon.

The protesters, holding a sit-in for a fourth day Monday near the bombing site, have demanded the resignation of Afghanistan’s security chiefs, including national security advisor Hanif Atmar.

Exposing the split within the fractious government Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani also called for Atmar’s dismissal on Monday, but the demand was turned down by President Ashraf Ghani.

On Saturday, at least seven people were killed when suicide bombers tore through a row of mourners who were attending the funeral of one of the protesters, the son of an influential Afghan senator.

No group has claimed the attacks, but the government has blamed the Taliban-allied Haqqani Network for Wednesday’s bombing.

Previous international efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table have failed, but diplomats in Kabul hailed Tuesday’s conference as a stepping stone to peace.

“The launch of the Kabul Process tomorrow is an important marker for each and every country in the region to show its true support for Afghanistan’s aspirations for peace,” said Dominic Jermey, the British ambassador to Kabul.

“This includes taking steps to tackle the challenges posed by terrorist networks and to prevent terrorists receiving support, whether from states or individuals.”

The tense week of violence during the holy fasting month of Ramadan has left hospitals in Kabul overwhelmed, with many running beyond capacity to treat the injured.

The Italian-run Emergency hospital, seen as a medical lifeline, has voiced fears for the safety of its staff with protesters camped close to the facility.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/06-Jun-2017/kabul-to-host-peace-summit-after-week-of-deadly-violence

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Weary Afghan army fights on as US weighs troop increase

June 6, 2017

James Mackenzie, Mirwais Harooni - From his sandbagged command post outside the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, Brigadier General Mohammad Nasim Sangin says he needs more troops and equipment to beat the Taliban and hold on to ground his soldiers take.

But one thing he does not want is foreign troops returning to front-line combat in Afghanistan.

“We know our own country better and we can defeat our enemies ourselves,” he says. “NATO can help Afghan forces with training, they can provide more equipment but we will recruit Afghans.”

As US and NATO officials contemplate the way forward in Afghanistan, government soldiers face a resilient enemy and an array of problems from lack of equipment, poor leadership, political interference and chronic corruption.

While high-profile attacks in the capital Kabul, such as the truck bomb that killed more than 80 people last week, grab headlines, a grinding conflict in the provinces is costing the lives of hundreds of soldiers and police a month.

A soldier since his teenage years with the anti-Soviet mujahideen in the 1980s, Sangin has been leading his brigade in a clearing operation to drive insurgent fighters out of Chaparhar, a district of mud-walled compounds dotted with poppy fields ready for harvest.

The occasional rattle of machine gun fire can be heard from the fighting a couple of kilometres away but he says the operation has gone well, with the district centre now clear at the cost of only a handful of casualties. However, experience has shown that there is no certainty of holding on to the gains.

“We launch operations, we carry out searches and push the insurgents to the mountains. Later, I have to take my forces to other places for operations and as soon as we leave the area the insurgents return,” he said.

US officials are preparing plans that have been expected to see some 3,000-5,000 more military trainers sent to Afghanistan and fears have grown that this could be a prelude to the United States being sucked back into the war.

OVERSTRETCH

Sixteen years after the US-led campaign that ousted the Taliban, more than 13,000 foreign troops remain in Afghanistan, down from a peak of more than 100,000, but NATO officials have said repeatedly they will not resume the combat mission they ended in 2014.

However, officials say plans are being considered which would see more trainers at times move out of Corps headquarters down to brigade-level operations such as the one being carried out by Sangin’s men in Chaparhar, increasing the likelihood of their being drawn into fighting.

Despite assurances from foreign and Afghan officials about progress in improving leadership and tackling corruption, security forces have struggled to contain the insurgency and now control no more than 60 percent of the country.

Most of the issues the troops talk about - lack of reinforcements and equipment, endless tours of duty - are well known despite promises of improvement.

At the same time, security forces have suffered what the US Congressional watchdog SIGAR described as “shockingly high” casualties. Official figures are patchy but at least 807 soldiers and police were killed in the first six weeks of the year after 6,785 in the first 10 months of 2016. Privately, many officials say the real numbers are even higher.

The heavy casualties have also contributed to the other persistent problem facing the army, maintaining the strength of the units doing the fighting. A third of the security forces’ personnel does not re-enlist every year and the actual number of troops available for duty is far below official totals, leaving front-line troops increasingly stretched.

“It was very dangerous and busy last year but this year, it’s been busier,” said Assadullah, a sergeant who, like many Afghans, goes by one name. “We were in Achin and when that operation we were in Torkham and now we’re in Chaparhar without any break.”

“I haven’t been home in seven months. I go from one position to another. We’re tired but there’s no alternative.”

QUESTIONS

Even in Nangarhar, where Islamic State has established a foothold but is otherwise a relatively stable province, the army is conducting active operations in nine districts, compared with just three last year, officers said.

In other parts of the country, like the opium-rich Taliban heartlands of Helmand and Kandahar in the south and Badakhshan and Kunduz in the north, the situation is much worse.

Although General Sangin and his commanders say morale is good among their men, several of whom have the red, black and green of the Afghan flag strapped jauntily around their magazine clips, it does not take much effort to hear other points of view.

As well as high casualties and the relentless tempo of operations, morale is sapped by political corruption that persists despite President Ashraf Ghani’s efforts to stamp it out, leading some soldiers to ask what they are fighting for.

In Chaparhar, where the poppy fields reach into the district centre, powerful interests follow operations closely.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/06-Jun-2017/weary-afghan-army-fights-on-as-us-weighs-troop-increase

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Sectarian violence flares up in south-east Bangladesh

June 6, 2017

Thousands of indigenous people in south-east Bangladesh are fleeing the wrath of Bengali Muslims settlers who blame them for the death of a local youth leader of Bangladesh’s ruling party,  AsiaNews reported.  Members of the mostly Buddhist Chakma community in Rangamati district fled after their homes were torched by angry Muslim mobs following the death of Nurul Islam Nayan, a leader of Jubo League, the youth organization of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ruling Awami League.  It is still unclear how Nayan died, but his body was found near a road on 1 June, but Bengali settlers nearby blamed it on the indigenous people, who reject the accusation.

"The culture of impunity and the state's failure to protect indigenous people on the hills show that a slow genocide is taking place," Theophil Nokrek, secretary of Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh (CBCB) said.  "The violence was pre-planned and part of annihilating indigenous peoples from hills, and the state mechanism was a cohort in the case," Nokrek told UCANEWS.

The situation went out of control after the funeral of Nayan when Bengali Muslims marched to the headquarters of the United People's Party of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, which represents indigenous tribes in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.  The mob set fire to the house of the party chairman, as well as its regional office, which also served as a community centre.  The victims complained the attackers sacked the buildings before setting them on fire.

Some 80 buildings, both residential and commercial, in Langadu, but people who fled the violence said at least 300 buildings were destroyed.   A 75-year old Chakma man is reported to have died inside a burning building.

Police arrested 10 people after gruesome violence and arson attacks on indigenous villagers in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in southeastern Bangladesh.

Hundreds of people from the indigenous community, progressive cultural and political organizations, and civil society groups held protest rallies in the three Chittagong Hill Tracts districts and the national capital, Dhaka, June 2-4.

"The attack is an act of sectarian violence against tribal people,” indigenous groups say. “They attack us because we are weak." Various advocacy groups, like AIN or Salish Kendra, slammed the attack, calling on the authorities to arrest and punish the perpetrators.

"The church supports the struggle of indigenous peoples and call for proper justice and compensation over the violence,” Nokrek said.

The Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh comprising three hill and forest districts, and are home to some 25 indigenous tribes, mostly Buddhist and some Christians.  Sectarian tensions have brewed in the area since the 1970s when the government began resettling thousands of landless Bengali Muslims by grabbing indigenous land, a deliberate attempt to change local demography.

Indigenous people resisted the influx and formed a militia group to fight back. In response, the government turned the area into a military zone leading to two decades of guerrilla war, which ended with a peace accord in 1997.  To this day, the region is heavily militarized. From time to time, the military and Muslims have been accused of abuse, and sectarian violence is rife.

Full report at:

http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/06/05/sectarian_violence_flares_up_in_south-east_bangladesh_/1316980

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Taliban insurgents suffer casualties in Uruzgan infighting

Jun 05 2017

A number of the Taliban insurgents were killed or wounded during an infighting among the militants of the group in southern Uruzgan province of Afghanistan.

According to the local government officials, the incident took place late on Sunday night in Chora district.

The district administrative chief of Chora, Aminullah, said information received by the government officials indicate at least two Taliban insurgents were killed during the clashes.

He said at least three Taliban insurgents were also wounded during the clashes and the militants of the group have also suffered casualties during separate clashes with the Afghan security forces in this district.

He did not disclose further information regarding the main motive behind the infighting among the Taliban insurgents and the number of militants killed during the clashes with the security forces.

However, he said the Afghan security forces have not suffered any casualties during the clashes.

The Taliban insurgents group has not commented regarding the report so far.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/taliban-insurgents-suffer-casualties-in-uruzgan-infighting-02873

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Kabul Process summit kicks off amid political and security instability

Jun 06 2017

The Kabul Process summit kicked off in capital Kabul days after the Afghan capital city was hit by some of the largest attacks that resulted into political stability.

The summit was inaugurated by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani as the Afghan government aims to establish a regional and global census in the fight against terrorism and the Afghan peace process.

In his speech during the summit, President Ghani emphasized on the regional and global support to end the violence in Afghanistan, emphasizing that peace and stability in Afghanistan will have a direct impact on the regional and global peace.

President Ghani further added “Want to talk peace with the Taliban, but not open-ended opportunity.”

He also added “Taliban-sponsored terrorism is creating platform that is bringing terrorists to Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

The Afghan President once again called on Pakistan to offer its agenda and mechanism for negotiations that lead to stability and prosperity in the region.

The summit has been inaugurated less than a week after Kabul city was hit by a deadly explosion that left nearly 100 people dead and over 400 others wounded.

The explosion triggered political rift among the political figures after a protest turned violent, resulting into the death of the son of the deputy house speaker of the Afghan Senate whose funeral was subsequently hit by coordinated suicide attack.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/kabul-process-summit-kicks-off-amid-political-and-security-instability-02722

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Australia

 

Passengers jump from plane at Australian airport in bomb hoax: media

6 June 2017

Passengers jumped from a plane at a rural Australian airport on Tuesday when a threatening note, which turned out to be a hoax, was found in the bathroom, police and media said, a day after a siege in Melbourne which police are treating as terrorism.

"Nothing was found, there was no actual threat to anybody, just a note, so there was nothing in it," a police spokeswoman who declined to give her name told Reuters.

Police said the 68-passenger turboprop plane with 42 passengers on board on a domestic flight was evacuated at the airport in Albury, in southern New South Wales, and a man was arrested.

Australian Associated Press quoted a passenger as saying he heard someone shout: "Leave your luggage. Get out and run, run, run." It said passengers jumped on to the tarmac.

"Police and emergency services attended Albury airport after receiving information a note was located in the toilet area," a New South Wales state police spokeswoman Emily Waters told Reuters.

"All passengers disembarked and a man was arrested within five minutes," Waters said, declining to provide further details.

She did not say what was written on the note.

Virgin Australia said police met the plane on its arrival "due to a security incident on board". It could not immediately confirm how many passengers were on board.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said police were treating a deadly siege on Monday in the southern city of Melbourne as an "act of terrorism" after a claim by the Islamic State group that one of its fighters was the gunman responsible.

http://nation.com.pk/international/06-Jun-2017/passengers-jump-from-plane-at-australian-airport-in-bomb-hoax-media

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Melbourne siege 'a terrorist attack': Australian PM

6 June 2017

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Tuesday police were treating a deadly siege in the southern city of Melbourne as an "act of terrorism" after a claim by the Islamic State group that one of its fighters was the gunman responsible.

Police shot dead gunman Yacqub Khayre, who they said had a long criminal history, on Monday after he killed a man in the foyer of an apartment block in Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city, and held a woman hostage inside.

Senior officials confirmed that Khayre had been acquitted of a plot to attack a Sydney army base in 2009 and was on parole for a violent home invasion at the time of Monday's siege.

"This terrorist attack by a known criminal, a man who was only recently released on parole, is a shocking, cowardly crime," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters in the capital, Canberra.

"It is a terrorist attack and it underlines the need for us to be constantly vigilant, never to be deterred, always defiant, in the face of Islamist terrorism," he said.

Australian police also said they were investigating the siege as act of terrorism after Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack via its Amaq news agency. They identified Khayre as a 29-year-old Australian of Somali heritage.

Amaq said the attack was launched because of Australia's membership in a U.S.-led coalition fighting against the militant Islamist group in Syria and Iraq.

Police said they were investigating whether Khayre had any established links with the group.

Victoria state Police Commissioner Graham Ashton said earlier Khayre had arranged to meet a female escort at a block of serviced apartments in the beachside Melbourne suburb of Brighton on Monday.

After shooting and killing a staff member when he arrived, Khayre then held the woman hostage for several hours before he burst out of the building and engaged police in a firefight, during which he was killed.

The woman was unhurt but three police officers suffered gunshot wounds that were not life-threatening, Ashton said.

Turnbull questioned why Khayre was not behind bars after a string of offences.

Khayre first came to the attention of Australian counter-terrorism police in 2009, when he was one of five men accused of plotting an attack on Sydney's Holsworthy Army base to kill soldiers. Three of the men were convicted, while Khayre and the fifth man were acquitted.

The Victorian Supreme Court was told during that case that Khayre had been a worshipper at a Melbourne mosque and at a nearby prayer hall regarded by police as an "incubator" of extremist ideology.

Court documents show Khayre migrated as a child with his family to Australia through a Kenyan refugee camp. He was recognized as a refugee under Australia's humanitarian migration program and later became an Australian citizen, police said.

Forensic investigators were at Khayre's family home in Melbourne's suburban Roxborough Park, according to a Reuters witness. Police said they were also conducting "reassurance patrols" to calm the neighborhood.

Australia, a staunch ally of the United States, has been on heightened alert for attacks by home-grown militants returning from fighting in the Middle East, or their supporters, since 2014. Police have foiled several major plots in recent years.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/06-Jun-2017/melbourne-siege-a-terrorist-attack-australian-pm

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Police investigate if Australia hostage crisis was terror related

6 June 2017

Australian police shot dead a man who took a woman hostage in a Melbourne apartment, after the body of another man was found in the building's lobby today.

The woman escaped safely but three officers were injured as police stormed the building.

Authorities have yet to determine whether the incident was terrorism-related. Australia's Channel Seven reported that a man rang the station and a woman in distress could be heard in the background.

The Australian reports that the caller allegedly said: “This is for IS, this is for al Qaeda,’’ but officials have not yet confirmed if the claim was authentic."Police have resolved a hostage situation at an apartment block in Brighton," Victoria state police said in a statement. Brighton is a Melbourne suburb."A man has been shot dead by police in the Bay Street apartment complex shortly before 6pm."

Police have safely rescued a woman who was being held against her will in the apartment block."Police were responding to reports of an explosion at the apartment earlier in the day when they found the body of a man in the foyer."

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/05-Jun-2017/police-investigate-if-australia-hostage-crisis-was-terror-related

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