New Age Islam
Sat Feb 27 2021, 01:50 AM

Islamic World News ( 23 Aug 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

Indian Muslims Should Form Exclusive Party, Consider Moving to Kerala: Controversial Islamic Preacher Zakir Naik


New Age Islam News Bureau

24 August 2020

Zakir Naik

----

• Tablighi Jamaat Event: Stranded Since March, 29 Foreign Nationals Hope to Go Home Soon

• Pakistan's ISI Using Crime Syndicates in France, Thailand To Further Its Agenda

• Counter Terrorism Unit Files Case Against Bangladeshi In Saudi Arabia

• UAE Dissidents Establish Association against Normalization of Ties with Israel

• New Zealand Gunman Planned to Burn Down Mosques After Finishing Shooting

• Washington Is Full of Zionists Whose Loyalty Is Not To US, But to Israel

• Hezbollah Could Be Targeted with Ban By Switzerland: Reports

 

India

• Indian Muslims Should Form Exclusive Party, Consider Moving to Kerala: Controversial Islamic Preacher Zakir Naik

• Tablighi Jamaat Event: Stranded Since March, 29 Foreign Nationals Hope to Go Home Soon

• Urdu Children's Writer and Editor Murtaza Sahil Tasleemi Passes Away

• Lucknow Admn Allows Tazias At Home, Azadari With Riders After Talks with Shia Cleric

• Former Imam of Kanjiramattom mosque misused his position to dupe NRI of Rs 2.25 crore

• Militants claim killing panchayat member in Kashmir who went missing last week

--------

Pakistan

• Pakistan's ISI Using Crime Syndicates in France, Thailand To Further Its Agenda

• Rohingya Muslims In Pakistan Decry Global Silence

• Opposition tried to exploit govt over FATF legislation: Shibli

• Another Militant Organisation, Khatam-Ul-Ambia, Banned

• PTI, PML-N trade barbs over Nawaz’s treatment abroad

--------

South Asia

• Counter Terrorism Unit Files Case Against Bangladeshi In Saudi Arabia

• Afghan official: Bomb kills 7 civilians in eastern province

• 3 years on, Rohingya refugee repatriation to Myanmar still uncertain

• Kabul police chief fired amid surge in Afghan attacks

--------

Arab world

• UAE Dissidents Establish Association against Normalization of Ties with Israel

• Saudi Crown Prince Orders Detention of Family Members of Ex-Intelligence Official

• Syria gas pipeline explosion leads to total blackout: Minister

• After explosion, Lebanese say ‘Beirut is not for sale’ to corrupt developers

• Iran could bear responsibility for UAE-Israel reconciliation: Veteran US diplomat

• US hands over base to Iraqi troops amid calls for withdrawal

--------

New Zealand

• New Zealand Gunman Planned to Burn Down Mosques After Finishing Shooting

• New Zealand shooter emotionless as victims' families address sentencing hearing

--------

North America

• Washington Is Full of Zionists Whose Loyalty Is Not To US, But to Israel

• Pompeo, Kushner to Middle East as US seeks to forge Arab-Israeli peace deals

• Pompeo pushes for extension of Iran sanctions, dismissing opposition

--------

Europe

• Hezbollah Could Be Targeted with Ban By Switzerland: Reports

• Russia, Turkey 'agree in principle' on 2nd batch of S-400 delivery despite US opposition

• Morocco rejects normalization with Israel ahead of Kushner's visit

• Russia and Turkey likely to sign S-400 missile deal next year: Ifax

• UK foreign minister to meet Israeli, Palestinian leaders to press for dialogue

--------

Mideast

• Envoy: IAEA Chief’s Visit to Iran Not Related to Trigger Mechanism

• Iran Reiterates Preparedness to Cooperate with Afghanistan in Peace Talks

• Erdogan meets with Hamas leaders despite $5 mln US bounties, terror designations

• Israeli police arrest anti-Netanyahu protesters

• Israeli protesters in thousands stage fresh anti-Netanyahu protest

• Forcibly silent majority in Persian Gulf region strongly condemns any normalization with Israel

• Venezuela’s President Maduro says buying Iranian missiles ‘a good idea’

--------

Africa

• Morocco Rejects Normalization With Israel Ahead Of Kushner's Visit

• Haftar Rejects Sarraj’s Call for Libya Truce As ‘Media Marketing’

• Mali junta, W Africa mediators agree on ‘certain points,’ talks to continue Monday

• Three Shia mourners killed; dozens wounded in Nigerian police attack

• West African mediators arrive in Mali, seeking reversal of coup

--------

Southeast Asia

• Tahfiz Fire Tragedy: Teenager Jailed for Murder Of 23 Individuals Files Appeal

• Religious affairs minister: Dakwah approach should be appropriate with situation

• Report: Malaysia to seek settlement with Abu Dhabi over 1MDB issue

• When will Sabah and Sarawak truly celebrate Merdeka?

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/indian-muslims-should-form-exclusive-party-consider-moving-to-kerala-controversial-islamic-preacher-zakir-naik/d/122706

--------

 Indian Muslims Should Form Exclusive Party, Consider Moving to Kerala: Controversial Islamic Preacher Zakir Naik

August 22, 2020

 

Zakir Naik

----

Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik continues to reach out to his followers in India and across the world on a near-daily basis despite leaving for Malaysia in 2016. Even though India has demanded his extradition on charges of money laundering and incitement to violence, Zakir Naik continues to propagate his teachings via frequent videos, which are disseminated via social media.

On Friday, Zakir Naik's official Facebook channel uploaded a video of him responding to a follower's question on how Indian Muslims should respond to the "harassment and oppression" of the BJP government in India.

Zakir Naik claimed, "In last four-to-six years, there is an onslaught on Muslim minorities in India. There are lot of lynchings, attacks..." and alleged there was lot of oppression and persecution under the current government.

Zakir Naik categorised his response into two: Muslims as a whole and as individuals. Naik said Indian Muslims as a whole “should be united," noting they are divided on basis of "different sects in Islam, and belonging to different political parties and social organisations".

Zakir Naik declared the different Muslim groups in India "are fighting each other, criticising each other..."

Referring to the splintering of Muslim votes, Zakir Naik repeated a controversial claim about the Muslim population he has made previously. Naik claimed while official estimates put the Muslim population in India around 200 million, he believes there are "actually 250 million to 300 million Muslims", a figure that the “government supresses”. Naik declared India is the country with the world's largest Muslim population.

Zakir Naik then declared, "Muslims should make another party, exclusively, only for Muslims". "This political party should join hands with other political parties that are not Fascist and not communal," he added. Zakir Naik opined that such a Muslim political party should join hands with dalits, adding "dalits are not Hindus".

Zakir Naik claimed "Babasaheb Ambedkar loved Islam, but unfortunately the Muslims didn't welcome him, so he chose the second best... he chose Buddhism". Zakir Naik argued such a political alliance of Muslims and dalits would represent nearly 600 million people and be a major force.

Zakir Naik declared Indian Muslims have lacked political leadership.

Referring to Muslims as individuals, Naik claimed if Indian Muslims could not practice their faith, they should do Hijira (flight to avoid religious persecution).

"If you have the means to go to a Muslim-majority country, that should be the best," Zakir Naik said, adding he did "not expect" all Muslims of India to leave the country.

Zakir Naik said Muslims who could not move out of the country could go to another state, "which is more lenient towards Muslims". Naik added that the "best state I can think of" is Kerala. Zakir Naik claimed that followers of all three major religions—Hindus, Muslims and Christians—each accounted for about one-third of the population of Kerala.

"The people of Kerala are not communal in nature. The people of different religions live harmoniously. There is no friction between different religions,” Zakir Naik argued. He also added "this government (BJP) doesn't have much hold in the state of Kerala". “So, one of the best options if you want to do Hijira to another state, I would say, is Kerala," Zakir Naik said.

He said the "less communal states" include "Bombay where I come from or Hyderabad". He said Uttar Pradesh was very communal. Zakir Naik also endorsed ghettoization, noting Muslims could consider moving to parts of cities. He cited Dongri and Byculla in Mumbai as options, emphasising the high population of Muslims in these localities.

https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2020/08/22/indian-muslims-should-form-exclusive-party-consider-moving-to-kerala-zakir-naik.html

--------

Tablighi Jamaat event: Stranded since March, 29 foreign nationals hope to go home soon

by Sadaf Modak

August 24, 2020

 

Many of the Tablighis were in jail for two months

-----

Two days after the Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court quashed FIRs against 29 foreign nationals in connection with a Tablighi Jamaat gathering in Delhi amid Covid-19 restrictions in March, the men said they would be approaching the trial court to get possession of their seized passports to return to their countries.

The foreign nationals from countries such as Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Iran, Djibouti and Ghana, are currently staying at Ahmednagar in private accommodation arranged by local residents after their release from jail in June. Many of them were in jail for two months.

Most of them came to India before March 10 as part of a religious group to study Islam, they have told the high court. They have also submitted that they had informed local authorities, including the police, regarding their visit.

After the Jamaat gathering in Delhi came under the spotlight, Maharashtra Police booked foreign nationals, including these 29 men. The police have said they were propagating Islam and had violated visa and lockdown guidelines. They were booked under Epidemic Diseases Act, Foreigners Act and IPC sections pertaining to the spread of infectious diseases.

A division bench of Justice T V Nalawade and Justice M G Sewlikar Friday quashed the FIRs against them, observing that there was no evidence in connection to these charges. The court also said that during a pandemic, instead of being more sensitive towards “our guests”, they were lodged in jails.

Mensa Ismail Yusuf, 50, works as a small-time trader in Ghana. He said local authorities approached the group on March 30 about their travel history while they were staying at a mosque in Nevasa taluka of Ahmednagar. “We were kept in institutional quarantine for over two weeks. On April 17, officials came and took our phones and passports and told us that we will be taken to a hospital. But instead, we were taken to a jail,” he said.

From then till their release on June 17, Yusuf said none of them were able to contact their families back home. He added that no police officer has explained till date why they were booked. “Our phones were with the authorities and since we did not know we were being taken to jail, we could not inform our families. We requested prison authorities to allow us to speak to our family members but they said it would require the court’s permission,” said Yusuf, who is on his first visit to India.

Most of the people in the group cannot speak English and faced difficulty in communication.

He said they faced difficulties in the congested jail in Parner and due to lack of space and also ended up spending the month of Ramzan and Eid in jail. Yusuf added that the families of some of them tried to contact the consulates of their countries, but did not get any information.

Now, the group hopes they can return home soon. The state government can file an appeal before the Supreme Court against the quashing of FIRs.

Lawyers Mazhar Jahagirder and Zafar Pathan, representing the foreign nationals, said many others belonging to Tablighi Jamaat, had chosen to plead guilty and pay a fine to be able to return home sooner than wait for years for completion of the trials.

These men, however, chose to file a plea before the high court, seeking quashing of FIRs filed against them, they said. “We will now file a plea before the trial court for return of their passports. It will take some time to complete the procedures,”Pathan said.

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/tablighi-jamaat-event-stranded-since-march-29-foreign-nationals-hope-to-go-home-soon-6567073/

--------

Pakistan's ISI Using Crime Syndicates in France, Thailand To Further Its Agenda

Aug 23, 2020

In 2012, the same man had organised a protest in front of the US Consulate in Chiang Mai. This is when he was noticed by the Thailand police

-----

BANGKOK: Pakistan's intelligence agency, ISI, has been using the services of Pakistan crime syndicates operating in several countries, including France and Thailand, to further its agenda, according to a report in the Global Watch Analysis.

Recently, Thailand Police arrested a Pakistan national named Baqar Shah for his involvement in multiple illegal activities in the country including money laundering for the ISI.

He was first noticed by Thai authorities due to his involvement in organising an anti-American protest outside the US Consulate in Chiang Mai in September 2012. In February 2016, his name again surfaced when Thailand Police busted a major fake passport syndicate in the country and an Iranian national, Hamid Reza Jafary, and five Pakistanis were arrested.

The six of them were found to be involved in the supply of fake travel documents and human trafficking. It is to be noted that Jafary was on the wanted list of security agencies in several countries including the UK, France, Australia and New Zealand.

According to investigations, Jafary and his five Pakistani contacts were supplying forged passports that were being sold to people from Gulf countries for travel to Australia and Europe. During the probe, it was found that Gohar Zaman, one of the five Pakistanis in custody, had close links to Shah.

As the Thai security agency put Shah under close surveillance, they discovered that he maintained regular contact with officials from Pakistan Embassy in Bangkok and his restaurant was being used as a meeting point for Pakistani officials.

"Shah's main job appeared to be spotting potential assets for Pakistanis in the local police, immigration, customs and airlines and to develop contacts within the Muslim community in Chaing Mai and Mae Sot region," according to the report.

Shah was blacklisted by the Thai immigration for five years and deported to Pakistan in 2018. However, he managed to sneak back into Thailand under the guise of ISI mentors on a fresh passport in the name of Syed Baqar Ahmed Jaffri. However, Thailand Police tracked him down again and he is currently in custody.

A similar syndicate, pertaining to the supply of forged passports, is reported to be operational in France. A person with the initials B.H., who is controlling the syndicate, is believed to have connections at the Pakistani Embassy in Paris.

Citing sources, Global Watch Analysis reported that a Pakistani restaurant situated near Gare du Nord, the office of a welfare association in La Courneuve area and a travel agency in the 10th arrondissement in the Paris, are used as fronts to run the illegal activities of supplying Pakistani passports and resident permits of European countries including Portugal, Belgium and France.

The price for these identity cards and travel documents range between 850 to 1,500 Euros.

During investigations by the Global Watch Analysis, for instance, copies of fake travel documents held by a person linked to this network were found. The individual, who is based in France, has several British and Pakistani passports, all under different names.

Sources said the multiple passports would have enabled the person to hold several bank accounts and credit cards with French banks.

It is well known that ISI has links with several terror groups of "jihadist tendency". "It is not excluded that these types of criminal networks, manipulated by ISI's branches in the Western capitals, may provide their 'services' to members of the terrorist groups in question infiltrated in the West," the article concluded.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistans-isi-using-crime-syndicates-in-france-thailand-to-further-its-agenda/articleshow/77701493.cms

-----

Counter Terrorism unit files case against Bangladeshi in Saudi Arabia

August 23, 2020

The Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of Dhaka Metropolitan Police filed a case against Bangladeshi expat in Saudi Arabia Mustaq Mohammad Arman Khan, who claims that he is Imam Mahdi.

An inspector of the unit filed the case with Ramna Police Station on Saturday on charges of misinterpretation of religious affairs and spread of provocative speech, said CTTC Deputy Commissioner Saiful Islam.

A graduate from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) in 2006, Mustaq went to Saudi Arabia in 2018 and since then was spreading provocative speech, he said.

Claiming that he was nominated as Imam Mahdi, Mustaq called upon the youths for Jihad under his leadership.

CTTC officials have already arrested 19 youths who were preparing to join him in Saudi Arabia, Saiful said.

Police will communicate with the Saudi counterparts to arrange his extradition.

https://www.thedailystar.net/counter-terrorism-unit-files-case-against-bangladeshi-in-saudi-arabia-1949513

--------

UAE Dissidents Establish Association against Normalization of Ties with Israel

Aug 23, 2020

The association named in Arabic ‘al-Rabetat al-Emaratiyat Le Moqavemat al-Tatbi’e’ has been founded by several prominent UAE dissident figures, including Saeed Nasser al-Taniji, Saeed Khadim bin Touq al-Mari, Ahmad al-Shaybah, Hamid Abdullah al-Nuaymi, Hamad Mohammed al-Shamesi and Ibrahim Mahmoud Al-e Haram, the Arabic-language service of Anadolu news agency reported.

The association is a civil institute which opposes normalization of ties with Israel in all forms, including in economic, sports, security, political and social fields.

In a statement, founders of the association have described the UAE’s attempts to normalize relations with Israel as “betrayal”.

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

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

Palestinians have reacted with shock and dismay after Trump unveiled an agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel to normalize ties.

The deal pledges full normalisation of relationships between the two countries in the areas of security, tourism, technology and trade in return for suspending Israel's annexation plans in the West Bank.

Both the Palestinian leadership and public were caught by surprise when the announcement came on Thursday.

"We absolutely had no prior knowledge of this agreement," Ahmed Majdalani, the Palestinian Authority's (PA) minister of social affairs, told Al-Jazeera, adding, "The timing and speed of reaching this agreement were surprising, especially that it came at a critical moment in the Palestinian struggle."

Former PA minister Munib al-Masri noted Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who ruled Abu Dhabi for more than 30 years before his death in 2004, had always been a strong supporter of the Palestinians.

"The late Sheikh Zayed was a dear brother to me, I knew how much he was proud of his support for Palestine… I never imagined that in my lifetime I would see the day in which the UAE would simply sell the Palestinians out for the sake of normalisation," al-Masri said, noting, "It's very shameful. I can't believe it until now."

Other Palestinian officials announced though the news came abruptly, it was not much of a surprise.

"We were not surprised that much because the Emirati army was never on the borders ready to fight Israel," said Mustafa al-Barghouti, leader of the Palestinian National Initiative and member of the PA parliament.

"We've been seeing recent strange moves by the UAE such as sending direct flights to Israel, and there were leaks of secret accords between the two in terms of scientific and economic cooperation. It is clear that these were preliminary steps to absorb yesterday's shock," he added.

The PA and all Palestinian factions, including Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, issued official statements denouncing the UAE-Israel agreement. Palestinian leaders who spoke to Al-Jazeera called it a "stab in the back".

"We already knew that there has been normalisation going under the table, but to formalise and legalise it that way at this critical moment is shocking. It's a stab in our back and the back of all Arab nations," stated Majida al-Masri, former PA minister of social affairs.

Al-Barghouti emphasised the deal "doesn't introduce any change or progress, it's far from being genuine peace".

"This is an attempt to enforce the 'Deal of the Century' that aims to liquidate Palestinian national rights, it represents a denial of Palestinian, Arab and Islamic rights," he continued.

Palestinian leaders stated the deal was "a free gift to Israel" and was made to help the re-election of Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"The UAE's position, in terms of its timing and essence, can only be understood as giving Israel leverage for free," said Wasel Abu Yousef, member of the PLO's Executive Committee and leader of the Palestine Liberation Front, adding, "There's no reasonable justification for it except that it gives more power to the occupation and increases its crimes against the Palestinians."

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990602000532

--------

New Zealand Gunman Planned To Burn Down Mosques After Finishing Shooting

24 August 2020

The white supremacist who slaughtered 51 worshippers at two New Zealand mosques had intended to burn down the mosques afterward, a prosecutor said in court Monday, while describing two of those praying as making heroic efforts to stop the mass shooting.

New details about the March 2019 attacks were outlined during the first day of a four-day sentencing hearing at the Christchurch High Court.

The hearing gave some families and survivors their first chance to confront the gunman.

“You killed your own humanity, and I don't think the world will forgive you for your horrible crime,” said a tearful Maysoon Salama, the mother of 33-year-old Atta Elayyan, who was killed in the attacks.

“You thought you can break us. You failed miserably.”

The gunman, 29-year-old Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant, pleaded guilty in March to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one count of terrorism — the first terrorism conviction in New Zealand's history.

He could become the first person in New Zealand to be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Tarrant was brought into the courtroom shackled and wearing a gray prison outfit.

In the dock, unshackled and surrounded by five officers, he showed little emotion throughout the hearing.

He occasionally looked around the room, tapped his fingers, and watched the survivors as they spoke.

The courtroom was only half full due to coronavirus distancing requirements, while many others watched from adjacent courtrooms where the hearing was streamed.

Survivors and family members occasionally wept and comforted each other.

The hearing began with prosecutors outlining the attacks in a 26-page summary of facts, the first detailed account by authorities about what happened that day.

Crown prosecutor Barnaby Hawes said that two months before the attacks, Tarrant flew a drone directly over the Al Noor mosque, recording an aerial view of the grounds and buildings and taking note of the entry and exit doors.

Hawes said the gunman planned his attacks for when the maximum number of worshippers were present, and that 190 people were in the Al Noor mosque for Friday prayers on the day of the attacks.

In his car, the gunman had six guns — two AR-15 rifles, two other rifles, and two shotguns, the court heard.

He also brought with him four modified gas containers which he planned to use to burn down the mosques after he finished shooting, Hawes said. The gunman later told police he wished he had used them.

Hawes also detailed the bravery of Naeem Rashid, who was killed at the Al Noor mosque.

“He ran at the defendant from the southeastern corner of the room. When Mr. Rashid was approximately 1 meter from the defendant, the defendant swung the AR-15 around and fired four shots at point-blank range,” Hawes said.

“Mr Rashid crashed into the defendant and the defendant went down on one knee,” Hawes said, adding that Tarrant was able to get back up and shoot Rashid again.

At the second mosque, Abdul Aziz chased Tarrant down the driveway screaming at him, prosecutors said, and threw a discarded rifle at his car, shattering a glass panel. Aziz was not injured.

Tarrant has dismissed his lawyers and is representing himself during the sentencing, raising fears he could try to use the occasion as a platform to promote his racist views.

He can choose to speak once the survivors have spoken, although the judge will likely shut down any attempts he makes to grandstand.

New Zealand abolished the death penalty for murder in 1961, and the longest sentence imposed since then has been life imprisonment with a minimum 30-year non-parole period.

Justice Cameron Mander will decide on the gunman's sentence at the end of the hearing.

The attacks targeting people praying at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques shocked New Zealand and prompted new laws banning the deadliest types of semi-automatic weapons. They also prompted global changes to social media protocols after the gunman livestreamed his attack on Facebook, where it was viewed by hundreds of thousands of people.

Prosecutors said that after Tarrant left the Linwood mosque he planned to drive to the town of Ashburton and attack a third mosque. But he was rammed by two police officers, dragged out of his car and arrested.

Gamal Founda, the imam of the Al Noor mosque who survived the shooting, told the court that the gunman's actions were misguided.

“We are a peaceful and loving community who did not deserve your actions,” Fouda said.

“Your hatred is unnecessary. If you have done anything, you have brought the world community closer with your evil actions.”

https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/world-news-new-zealand-gunman-planned-to-burn-down-mosques-after-finishing-shooting/359212

--------

Washington is full of Zionists whose loyalty is not to US, but to Israel

23 August 2020

By J. Michael Springmann

The trip of Mike Pompeo the American Secretary of State to Israel and a number of the Persian Gulf states including Qatar, where he will meet with representatives of the Taliban, is not going to do much in the way of security.

This is especially so since Jared Kushner, Trump's fanatically Zionist son-in-law, will be traveling to the region later on this week. Hitting many of the same countries in the Persian Gulf, plus Saudi Arabia and of course, Israel, the Apartheid Entity, and Morocco, along with them, will be Avi Berkowitz, the man who helped engineer this horrible deal between the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

That agreement is an effort by the Israelis and the Americans to split the united Arab front against doing deals over the heads of the Palestinians. Pompeo and company claim it's going to be done for security,  but they didn't really specify what that that  is.  However, the New York Post, I think, reports it as ‘countering Iran's malign influence in the area.’ If I recall correctly, the New York Post also says that this will be done in a way to ensure that other states will join with the United Arab Emirates in making similar arrangements with the Zionist entity, the illegitimate "country" that calls itself Israel.

Added to this, of course, is Donald Trump's efforts to ensure his reelection in just about two months. It looks good. It supports his base which includes nearly everybody in the United States who hates Iran for no particular reason, except that the media has told them to hate Iran since 1953.

The American people, particularly the Zionists in the United States, who have great influence in the media, love this, and they love anything that will help Israel at the expense of any other country. Their loyalty is not to the United States, but to Israel. And that's an outrage, especially  when many hold or held high positions in American government, such as the former Undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker.

So, this "deal" really does play to Trump's base and it plays to all the people who love Israel, and it's going to be good for him in the election.

J. Michael Springmann is an American political commentator, author and former US diplomat in Saudi Arabia. He is based in Washington. He recorded this article for Press TV website.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/08/23/632444/Washington-is-full-of-Zionists-whose-loyalty-is-not-to-US,-but-to-Israel

--------

Hezbollah could be targeted with ban by Switzerland: Reports

23 August 2020

Switzerland could move to ban the Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah, following a similar decision taken by its neighbor, Germany, The Jerusalem Post reported Saturday.

The Federal Council of Switzerland, the collective head of state in the country, has agreed to review a new application entitled ‘Report on the activities of the Shi’ite Islamist Hezbollah in Switzerland.’ The new law could lead to the organization being banned from Switzerland, with its access to bank accounts and assets seized and frozen within the country.

“On April 30, 2020, Germany banned all activities of the Shi'ite Islamist Hezbollah. Germany justified the decision with the fact that Hezbollah is calling for armed struggle and rejecting Israel's right to exist,” the initiative read, the Post reported.

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

Hezbollah has said its role in southern Lebanon is that of resistance against the state of Israel, and the militant group and Israel often engage in cross-border disputes.

On Saturday, Hezbollah said it shot down an Israeli drone in Lebanese airspace. The last war fought between the entities was in 2006.

Marianne Binder, a politician of the Christian Democratic People’s Party of Switzerland, launched the initiative in June.

While the European Union has previously banned the military arm of Hezbollah in 2013, the initiative is calling for an outright ban on the entire organization. Hezbollah’s political arm remains active in some European countries.

“The EU previously banned the [military] arm that engaged in terrorist activities. It is not known which activities Hezbollah is developing in Switzerland. In view of the neutrality of Switzerland, however, the activities of Hezbollah cannot be legitimized and a report is also advisable for reasons of security policy,” the document continued, according to the Post.

The UK, Lithuania and the Netherlands have all already banned the entire organization, joined by Germany earlier this year. The US, the Arab League and other countries also designate Hezbollah as a terrorist group.

The terrorist group cum political party is also a proxy group of Iran, and while it was initially created as a bulwark against Israel in the early 1980s, it has sown chaos across the region from Lebanon to Iraq and Syria.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/08/23/Hezbollah-could-be-targeted-with-ban-by-Switzerland-Reports.html

--------

 

India

 

Urdu Children's Writer and Editor Murtaza Sahil Tasleemi Passes Away

New Age Islam News Bureau

24 August 2020

Veteran children's writer and editor of children's Urdu magazines Murtaza Sahil Tasleemi passed away on 21 August 2020 in Metro Hospital in Delhi. He was buried in Imli Wale Qabristan in Rampur. He was under treatment for the last one year.

Murtaza Sahil Tasleemi edited various children's Urdu magazines Noor, Batool, Adab-e-Atfal and Hilal. He was also the editor if Al Hasn't. All these were published by the Maktaba Al Hasnat of Rampur. Under his editorship, these magazines became the most popular children's magazine in both India and Pakistan in the 80s and 90s.

Murtaza Savil Tasleemi was also a prolific writer, poet and novelist. During his literary career spanning over fourty years he wrote novels, short stories and plays for children and women, poems and numerous articles on social and moral issues.He authored over fifty books for children. His demise marks the end of a golden chapter in children's Urdu literature.

--------

Lucknow Admn Allows Tazias At Home, Azadari With Riders After Talks with Shia Cleric

Aug 24, 2020

The Lucknow district administration and Shia clerics have reached a consensus on letting the faithful keep tazias (a replica of the coffin of Imam Hussain carried during Muharram procession to mourn the martyrdom of the grandson of Prophet Mohammad) at home and observe Azadari while distancing socially, but the issue of taking out processions remains unresolved.

Azadari is the name of the practice followed during the month of Muharram (according to the Islamic calendar)—mourning the martyrdom of Imam Hussain at the Battle of Karbala about 1,340 years ago. Shia clerics have already moved court for permission to hold the Muharram processions.

District magistrate Abhishek Prakash said, “The administration has allowed the Shia community members to keep tazias in their homes and observe azadari during Muharram, but with certain restrictions of social distancing.”

Prominent Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad had staged a dharna on Saturday evening to protest against restrictions imposed in view of the coronavirus disease pandemic.

Following this, the state government directed the district administration to initiate talks with the Shia cleric. District magistrate Abhishek Prakash, along with home secretary SK Bhagat, held a dialogue with Maulana Jawad .

“The government has sought a list of Shia clerics in every district, along with their phone numbers, from me. I will provide it. In every district, the Shia clerics will hold a meeting with the district’s civil and police officials in order to coordinate the Muharram activities with them. Everyone knows that tazias and azadari are an integral part of observing Muharram, and Shias cannot compromise on these rituals,” he said.

“We had sought permission for majlis (sermons) in all our Imambaras with a gathering of around 1,000 people. Our Imambaras are quite big and we can follow social distancing norms there. But after high-level talks with the state government, they allowed only seven Imambaras in the state capital to hold 60 minutes of majlis with only 20 attendees. Everyone else can watch online,” the Shia cleric added.

The district administration also agreed not to harass those who keep tazias at home and perform azadari, said Maulana Jawad.

He said, “Lucknow has a sizable Shia population of over three lakh, which takes out a few processions during Muharram. But due to the pandemic this time, no procession has been allowed. We have gone to court over this and expect a decision in a day or two.”

https://www.hindustantimes.com/lucknow/admn-allows-tazias-at-home-azadari-with-riders-after-talks-with-shia-cleric/story-DrptWesYboAXDtisRWaxAM.html

--------

Former Imam of Kanjiramattom mosque misused his position to dupe NRI of Rs 2.25 crore

24th August 2020

KOCHI: The two persons, including a former imam of the Kanjiramattom mosque, who were arrested for cheating an NRI youth of a sum of Rs 2.25 crore after offering to bring him back home from Qatar had carried out the fraud by citing that they had previously helped many people including business tycoons return from West Asia.

Mohammed Aslam Moulavi, 50 -- the imam who had earlier served as the key functionary of a prominent religious organisation -- misused his position to win the trust of the victim’s relatives before duping him of the money.

The police suspect others are involved in the case and an investigation is heading in that direction.

“There is a possibility of the involvement of more people. Hence an inquiry is under way,” said V Rajeev, DySP, District Crime Branch.

https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/kochi/2020/aug/24/former-imam-of-kanjiramattom-mosque-misused-his-position-to-dupe-nri-of-rs-225-crore-2187349.html

--------

Militants claim killing panchayat member in Kashmir who went missing last week

Aug 24, 2020

Militants in an audio message claimed to have killed a panchayat member from South Kashmir’s Khanmoh village who has been missing since August 9, police said.

Panchayat member Nisar Ahmad Bhat went missing from Shopian and police have been trying to trace him.

A senior police officer said that according to family members, Bhat went to Shopian on Wednesday. “Since then he has been missing. He (panch) was booked under PSA in 1995. There are 12 FIR against him and efforts are on to trace him.”

The officer, however, said the audio clip seems fake. “We are investigating every aspect of this case.”

In a 2.56 minute long message purportedly released by militants, they claimed that Bhat has been killed and buried at an unidentified place.

An unidentified person is heard saying that the panchayat member was involved in “anti movement” activities” and had met his fate. “We have been after him for a long time and finally got him.”

The message claimed that the body wasn’t handed over to his family because of Covid-19.

“We understand the pain of the family. To avoid the spread of Covid-19, the body wasn’t given to his family. The same way, Indian forces after killing our comrades bury them at unmarked graves at unidentified locations,” the message said.

Earlier on August 2, Shakir Manzoor, who was working with 162 Territorial Army battalion in south Kashmir was abducted from Kulgam district and his burnt vehicle was found later. Soon after the abduction, police and army had launched a search operation in Shopian and Kulgam areas. However, the jawan could not be traced.

A similar message was released which claimed that Manzoor was killed and buried at an undisclosed location.

In the last two months five BJP leaders including two sarpanches have been killed in different parts of Kashmir. Earlier in July, Congress sarpanch Ajay Pandita was killed in Anantnag district which forced many panchayat members to resign from their parties.

The government also shifted dozens of panchayat members and BDC members, majority of them from the BJP, to safer places after an evaluation of threats from militants.

Soon after taking charge, Jammu and Kashmir’s new Lt Governor Manoj Sinha had said adequate security would be provided to panchayat members and political workers in Kashmir.

Sinha was speaking at a function in Srinagar in which a large number of panchayat workers participated and demanded security in the backdrop of attacks on BJP workers in different parts of the Valley.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/militants-claim-killing-panchayat-member-in-kashmir-who-went-missing-last-week/story-x9a0174WYHiX9hUTNInuRM.html

--------

 

Pakistan

 

Rohingya Muslims in Pakistan decry global silence

Aamir Latif  

23.08.2020

KARACHI, Pakistan

As the world prepares to observe the third anniversary of a brutal military crackdown against Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims, hundreds of them living in Pakistan are still looking for their loved ones who went missing.

Ibrahim Hussein, 56 is one of the Rohingya living in the southern port city of Karachi who still mourns the death of his dozen family members, including infants.

They were killed in a crackdown by Myanmar military on Aug. 25, 2017 – which is called the textbook example of genocide by the UN – forcing around 860,000 people to flee Bangladesh.

Hussein is also missing his young niece and cousin, who went missing since then.

"We have tried our best to locate them. We, during the last three years, have contacted several human rights groups, including the Red Cross to know about them but of no avail, " Hussein, who runs a small grocery in Burma Colony, a middle-income neighborhood of the eastern district of Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and the commercial capital, told Anadolu Agency.

Conflicting reports about the missing duo have further added to his misery.

"They [family members] were trying to flee together but they soon got separated due to a stampede-like situation. Several got killed, some managed to cross into Bangladesh, while the two went missing," he said.

"Some of our village mates said they [niece and cousin] were also killed along with other family members. Others said they made their way into Bangladesh with some other group," said Hussein, who has made Karachi his home since 1982, when some displaced Rohingya arrived in Pakistan.

Communication blockades

Internet blockade and phone restrictions at Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh's southern district of Cox’s Bazar – home to over 1.2 million Rohingya refugees – since September last, has further hampered Hussein's efforts to locate the missing relatives.

"It has been now three years since we have been approaching every available source to look for them. Only Allah knows whether they are alive or dead," he said while trying to hold back his tears.

Mohammad Taha, another Rohingya, who was born and raised in Karachi, has a similar story to share.

At least five of his family members, including two maternal cousins have been missing after the crackdown.

"Our relatives who managed to reach Bangladesh, have also been trying to locate them but still we have no news," he said.

He said it was becoming very difficult to even get in touch with relatives living in Bangladesh due to telephone restrictions.

“We have very limited contact with them. They rarely contact us whenever they get a chance to get out of the camp and call from a public call office," Taha added.

The port city of Karachi is home to more than 400,000 Rohingya Muslims, the highest number after Myanmar and Bangladesh, according to unofficial estimates.

They had started to trickle into the region in the early 1940s – before the creation of Pakistan.

The first exodus took place in 1942 following the first army operation that killed over 100,000 Rohingya Muslims.

A majority of Rohingya refugees, however, made Pakistan their home from 1970-1980 after a long and grueling journey via Bangladesh to India and then Pakistan.

Since then, there have been no mass migrations as India closed its borders with Bangladesh and put restrictions on the travel further to borders with Pakistan.

Former Pakistani President Ayub Khan, who ruled the country from 1958-1969 had allocated land to Rohingya refugees in 1962, paving the way for two settlements – Burma Colony and Arkanabad, which was named after the former Rakhine state – in Karachi’s eastern neighborhoods.

Global silence is killing

But what is hurting Rohingya most is the silence of the international community, even when the UN dubbed them world's most persecuted people.

"It's been three years, and nothing concrete has been done to hold Myanmar government responsible for the genocide, and the safe resettlement of Rohingya Muslims. Instead, the [Myanmar] government is more vigorously persecuting them," said Noor Hussein Arakani, a Rohingya community leader.

In November 2019, the International Criminal Court (ICC) approved the launch of an inquiry over crimes against the Rohingya community, a move rejected by Myanmar, which is not a party to the Rome Statute.

The Rome Statute is the founding treaty of the ICC that seeks to protect communities from genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.

"It's only Turkey, Gambia, and a few other Muslim countries, which consistently fight our case on the international forums. But, generally, there is a criminal silence over Myanmar's widespread human rights abuses on the part of so-called superpowers," he said.

He added that there was no other leader like Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been standing beside Rohingya Muslims.

“The entire Rohingya community prays for him," he said.

Arakani, who heads Karachi-based Rohingya Solidarity Forum, argued that the key to the solution of the Rohingya issue is with China.

"It's China's veto power that has been allowing Myanmar to perpetrate crimes against Rohingya with impunity. If China today decides, the issue can be resolved within weeks," he said, adding that Myanmar cannot say “no” to China.

China was one of the few countries that did not condemn the 2017 brutal crackdown against Rohingya Muslims, terming it an "internal matter" of Myanmar.

"We appeal to the Chinese government not to view this [issue] through a political prism. It is a human issue. China has been a great friend and supporter of Pakistan. We are thankful to the country for that," he said.

Arakani said China will win hearts of the entire community if it helps Rohingya to get their citizenship and other rights.

Myanmar crackdown

According to international rights groups, more than a million Rohingya refugees, mostly women, and children have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

The UN has also documented mass gang rapes, killings – including infants and young children – brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces.

They are now facing a threat of forced repatriation by the Bangladeshi government despite no citizenship rights and safety guarantees from a defiant Myanmar government.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/rohingya-muslims-in-pakistan-decry-global-silence/1950892

--------

Opposition tried to exploit govt over FATF legislation: Shibli

24 Aug 2020

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information Shibli Faraz on Sunday posted on his official Twitter account the drafts of the proposals made by the opposition parties for bringing changes to the country’s accountability laws, terming them a “proof” of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s claim that the opposition had tried to make a bargain with the government during negotiations on the FATF legislation.

On the other hand, the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) refuted the minister’s claim, stating that the changes in the accountability laws had come under discussion at a parliamentary committee constituted by National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser on the legislative business.

In his tweet, the minister said he was posting the documents as “the PML-N limited” had been asking the government to tell the nation as to who had sought an “NRO” — a term frequently used for “deal”.

Former military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf had issued the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) in 2007 after an agreement with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) to end all politically motivated cases against the politicians.

Mr Faraz posted three pages of the draft proposals submitted by the opposition seeking amendments to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 through which, according to him, the opposition was actually seeking an end to the cases against its leadership, saying “these are the documents through which the opposition sought an NRO”.

PML-N says changes in laws discussed by panel formed by NA speaker

Through one of the amendments to Section 18, he said, the opposition had suggested a five-year time frame for the National Accounta­bility Bureau (NAB) to take cognisance of any wrongdoing.

The proposed amendment says: “NAB shall not conduct any inquiry or investigation or file any reference for an alleged offence after the passage of five years from the date of the transaction or act constituting the offence.”

The document shows that the opposition has also proposed a new sub-section suggesting that “NAB shall not initiate action on allegations contained in a complaint which is anonymous or pseudonymous”.

The opposition has also proposed, according to the documents, that NAB shall not tale action in cases which do not involve public money and where the “amount involved is less than Rs1 billion”.

Mr Faraz also posted an amendment to Section 25 suggested by the opposition, which says: “Where at any time during inquiry or after the authorisation of investigation, before or after the commencement of the trial or during the pendency of an appeal, the holder of public office or any other person offers to return to NAB the assets or gains acquired or made in the course, or as a consequence of any offence under this ordinance, the chairman NAB may in his discretion, after taking into consideration the facts and circumstances of the case, accept the offer on such terms and conditions as he may consider necessary, and if the holder of public office or any other person agrees to return to NAB the amount determined by the NAB chairman, who shall then refer the case for the approval of the court or the case may be, for the release of the holder of public office or any other person as well as his co-accused.”

Though Mr Faraz made these documents public on Sunday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who is the head of the Special Parliamentary Committee on Legislative Business, had already disclosed most of the details of the opposition’s proposals on the floor of the National Assembly last month, declaring that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government had rejected them.

It was after the foreign minister’s statement in the assembly that the opposition later boycotted the parliamentary committee which was basically reviewing the laws that had been introduced by the government to meet the conditions of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), alleging that the minister had made public the discussion which was held in an informal meeting at the residence of the speaker.

The opposition had also announced that it would not hold negotiations with the government if the foreign minister was present in it. Later, the government and the opposition agreed on the FATF laws in the talks in which the government side was represented by Law Minister Farogh Naseem.

Mr Qureshi in his fiery speech in the assembly had alleged that the opposition wanted to have a “package deal” whereas the government had requested it to delink the FATF legislation and the NAB issue in the larger national interest.

The foreign minister categorically announced that a majority of the 35 proposals jointly made by the PPP and PML-N regarding changes in the accountability laws were not acceptable to the PTI and Prime Minister Imran Khan as these were against the party’s core principle of eliminating corruption.

Highlighting the opposition’s proposals regarding changes in the NAO, the minister had said the opposition wanted applicability of the accountability law to start from 1999, reduction in NAB chairman’s tenure, removal of money laundering from the list of cognisable offences, allowing the convicted persons to remain members of parliament till disposal of appeals and confining the time of taking cognisance by NAB of any wrongdoing to five years.

He had ridiculed the opposition’s proposal that allegations of corruption of less than Rs1 billion should not come under the NAB’s scope.

Opposition’s response

Interestingly, no one from the PPP or the PML-N denied the government’s claim about their proposals.

A senior PPP leader told Dawn that these proposals had been under discussion at various levels among the parties for the last more than 10 years and that the party had only discussed the changes in the NAB laws in the parliamentary committee at the request of the government.

PML-N lawmaker Khwaja Asif responded to the foreign minister’s speech the following day in the National Assembly, but did not talk about their specific proposals which had been mentioned by the minister. He simply alleged that the minister had “crossed all the limits of propriety” by disclosing the details of an informal meeting that was held at the speaker’s residence. He was of the opinion that there was no need for bringing the informal discussion on record.

Meanwhile, in response to the information minister’s tweet, PML-N information secretary and MNA Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the “incompetent PTI government did not have a clue on how to go about the FATF-related legislation which is why the parliamentary committee was constituted by the speaker to review the legislation”.

She said the approval of the special committee had been given by parliament. “Did the speaker ask for an NRO or did the entire parliament?” she asked.

She reiterated the challenge to Prime Minister Khan and “his stooges” to name those who had asked for an NRO. She said “the selected prime minister” had no power or authority to grant an NRO.

Ms Aurangzeb, who had also served as the information minister in the previous PML-N government, said: “This document waving and tweeting by Shibli Faraz shows his clear absence of confidence in the speaker.”

She said the information minister’s statements were an open indictment of the parliamentary committee which also included the government members wanted in the Mallam Jabba case, Peshawar BRT, Billion Tree Tsunami project, helicopter case, 23 secret accounts, foreign funding case, sugar and wheat theft and corruption.

Ms Aurangzeb said the opposition members had already braved “illegal custody and imprisonment” by NAB in death row cells and had been vindicated by the Supreme Court and high courts. Moreover, she said, the international rights bodies had already issued a charge sheet against “the NAB-Niazi alliance” for being an instrument of political engineering and victimisation.

“Will the opposition demand an NRO under all these circumstances or those who have been dodging NAB and the courts, including the president and the prime minister?” she asked.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1576165/opposition-tried-to-exploit-govt-over-fatf-legislation-shibli

--------

Another Militant Organisation, Khatam-Ul-Ambia, Banned

Iftikhar A. Khan

24 Aug 2020

ISLAMABAD: The government has banned another militant outfit taking the number of outlawed organisations to 77.

The fresh addition to the list is Khatam-Ul-Ambia, said to be an offshoot of Ansarul Hussain which was banned in the late 2016 for its alleged involvement in recruiting the youth from the Shia community to fight the militant Islamic State (IS) group commonly known as Daesh.

The process of maintaining a list of proscribed organisations started on Aug 14, 2001 when Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-i-Mohammad Pakistan were outlawed. Later, on Jan 14, 2002, the government banned Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan, Tehreek-i-Islami and Tehreek-i-Nifaz Shariat-i-Mohammadi.

Tehreek-i-Jafria Pakistan was put on the list on Jan 28, 2002, followed by Al Qaeda on March 17, 2003, Millat-i-Islamia Pakistan and Khuddamul Islam on Nov 15, 2003 and Islami Tehreek Pakistan on Nov 15, 2003.

Three more organisations — Jamiatul Ansar, Jamiatul Furqan and Hizbut Tehrir — were banned on Nov 20, 2003 while Khair-un-Naas International Trust was proscribed on Oct 27, 2004.

Perspective: How best to tackle violent extremism in Pakistan

The Balochistan Liberation Army was placed on the list on April 7, 2006, and Islamic Students Movement of Pakistan on Aug 21, 2006.

Lashkar-i-Islam, Ansarul Islam and Haji Namdar Group were banned on June 30, 2008 and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan was outlawed on Aug 25, 2008.

Five militant organisations from Balochistan — Balochistan Republican Army, Balochistan Liberation Front, Lashkar-i-Balochistan, Balochistan Liberation United Front and Balochistan Musallah Difa Tanzeem — were put on the list on Sept 8, 2010.

Three organisations from Gilgit — Shia Tulaba Action Committee, Markaz Sabeel Organisation and Tanzeem Naujawanan-i-Ahle Sunnat — and Peoples Aman Committee (Lyari), Karachi, were placed on the list on Oct 10, 2011.

The Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, a reincarnation of Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan, was banned on Feb 15, 2012, followed by Al Harmain Foundation and Rabita Trust on March 6, 2012 and Anjuman-i-Imamia and Muslim Students Organisation (both from Gilgit-Baltistan) on April 24, 2012.

Tanzeem Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (Gilgit-Baltistan) was placed on the list on June 5, 2012 while Balochistan Bunyad Parast Army, Tehreek Nafaz-i-Aman, Tahaffuz Hadudullah, Balochistan Waja Liberation Army, Islam Mujahideen, Jaish-i-Islam and Balochistan National Liberation Army were banned on Aug 4, 2012.

The list was widely expanded in 2013 with the addition of the Khana-i-Hikmat Gilgit-Baltistan on March 13 and Tehreek-i-Taliban-Swat, Tehreek-i-Taliban-Mohmand, Tariq Jeedar Group, Abdullah Azam Brigade, East Turkmenistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Islamic Jihad Union, 313 Brigade, Tehreek-i-Taliban-Bajaur, Amar Bil Maroof Wa Nahi Anil Munkir (Haji Namdar Group), Baloch Student Organisation-Azad, United Baloch Army and Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz on March 15, 2013.

Since then, the list remained unchanged till July 15, 2015, when the name of Daesh (the Arabic acronym for the militant Islamic State group) was placed on the list of banned organisations.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Alami were added to the list on Nov 11, 2016, followed by Ansarul Hussain on Dec 30, 2016.

Tehreek-i-Azadi Jammu and Kashmir was the only addition made to the list on June 8, 2017. Jundullah was the last addition made by the then Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government in 2018.

The first addition to the list by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government was made on Dec 13, 2018, when Yemen-based Al-Rahmah Welfare Trust Organisation was outlawed.

The Balwaristan National Front (Abdul Hameed Khan Group) was the first organisation to have been proscribed on Feb 26, 2019.

The decision to ban Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) and Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) was taken at a meeting of the National Security Committee, headed by the prime minister and comprising key cabinet members and military leaders, on Feb 21 last year, and a notification to that effect was issued by the interior ministry on March 5, 2019.

After a gap of over two months seven JuD and two FIF affiliates were also included in the list.

Pak-Turk International CAG Education Foundation was banned on April 18, 2019.

Hizbul Ahrar and Balochistan Raaji Ajooi Sangar were added to the list of terrorist outfits on July 26,2019.

Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz-Aresar Group, Sindhu Desh Revolution Army and Sindhu Desh Liberation Army were added to the list this year These three -- one nationalist and two separatist organisations -- were banned on May 7, 2020.

Ghulaman-i-Sahaba and Maymar Trust continue to be on a watch list since May 30, 2017 and March 29, 2017, respectively.

Sachal Sarmast Welfare Trust Karachi and Al-Jaza Patient Welfare Organisation were added to the watch list in June last year.

Al-Akhtar Trust and Al-Rasheed Trust have been on the list under the UN Security Council resolution No 1267 since December 2005.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1576166/another-militant-organisation-banned

--------

PTI, PML-N trade barbs over Nawaz’s treatment abroad

24 Aug 2020

LAHORE: Leaders of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) traded barbs on Sunday over the issue of former premier Nawaz Sharif’s treatment abroad.

The former prime minister, serving a jail term in a corruption case, had gone to London in November last year for treatment of his complicated heart problem after multiple medical boards formed by the governmentitselfsuggested that treatment of the ailment was not possible in the country.

Mr Sharif is still abroad, where the corona virus pandemic reportedly made it difficult for him to seek medical care.

Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid said in a statement here on Sunday that Mr Sharif had been allowed to go abroad for treatment on humanitarian grounds. She claimed that the PML-N supremo, who was admitted to the Services Hospital after falling ill in Kot Lakhpat Jail, had sought that he would consult his personal physician, Dr Adnan Khan, for treatment and then requested to be shifted to the Sharif Medical City Hospital, a health facility run by the Sharifs on the outskirts of Lahore.

Then he demanded that he must be sent abroad for treatment, she said, adding Nawaz Sharif had given his word to the government as well as the court (the Lahore High Court) that he would return soon after hisrecovery.

The minister complained that N-League was “playing foul” in the name of treatment of Nawaz Sharif as the government had not only diagnosed all the diseases afflicting the ex-PM but also started treating the same and the count of his platelets was on the rise.

Mr Sharif was also offered treatment at the Aga Khan Hospital in Karachi, but he refused, she said, adding perhaps he had intended to go abroad from day one.

Responding to the minister’s allegations, Punjab PML-N Information Secretary Azma Bukhari wondered at the reaction of Dr Rashid who, she said, had personally gone through medical reports of Mr Sharif many times.

Ms Bukhari said no one knew better than Dr Rashid and Dr Faisal, special assistant to PM Imran Khan on health, about the ailment of Mr Sharif.

The N League leader asked if Dr Rashid was telling the truth now or in the past when the health minister had been supporting the suggestion for sending the former prime minister abroad for better treatment.

Sarcastically saying that Dr Rashid’s change of stance made the people doubtfulabout her medical degree, Ms Bukhari added the minister should resign from her office at once after such a ‘blunder’.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1576117/pti-pml-n-trade-barbs-over-nawazs-treatment-abroad

--------

 

South Asia

 

Afghan official: Bomb kills 7 civilians in eastern province

Aug 23, 2020

KABUL: A roadside bombing on Sunday in eastern Afghanistan killed seven civilians, a provincial official said, the latest in relentless deadly violence in the country amid new uncertainties over the start of talks between the Taliban and the Kabul government.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing in Ghazni province's Jaghatu district. Three women, two children and two men died when their vehicle struck the roadside bomb, said Wahidullah Jumazada, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

Afghan civilians continue to bear the brunt of the war across their country despite efforts to launch peace talks and find a road map for post-war Afghanistan.

According to a United Nations report released in July, 1,282 people were killed in violence in Afghanistan in the first six months of 2020 and hundreds more were wounded.

Women and children continue to be disproportionately affected by the direct and indirect impacts of the armed conflict, comprising more than 40% of the total civilian casualties, meaning both the killed and the wounded, the UN had said.

The expected start of talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban has stalled after Kabul said it would not release the last 320 Taliban prisoners it holds until the insurgents free more captured Afghan soldiers.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/afghan-official-bomb-kills-7-civilians-in-eastern-province/articleshow/77704124.cms

--------

3 years on, Rohingya refugee repatriation to Myanmar still uncertain

24 AUG 2020

The plight of Rohingya refugees living in squalid camps in Bangladesh continues as efforts to repatriate them to Myanmar have virtually stalled, with the world's attention focused on the coronavirus pandemic.

Three years ago on Tuesday, tens of thousands of people from the Muslim minority started fleeing their homes in the western state of Rakhine to escape a military crackdown on insurgents.

In the span of a few months, the Cox's Bazar district near Bangladesh's border with Myanmar became the world's largest refugee settlement with more than 1 million refugees.

Since August 2017, over 740,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. A UN fact-finding mission report estimated at least 10,000 were killed in Myanmar.

International efforts to repatriate the refugees have failed so far. Even as arrangements were made to facilitate their repatriation, the refugees refused to go back, fearing violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

The Myanmar government led by Aung San Suu Kyi does not recognise the Rohingya as an ethnic group with rights as citizens. Instead, they are branded as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

The refugees say they will not go back unless they are given citizenship, right to freedom of movement and guarantees of safety.

A general election is scheduled to be held in Myanmar in November. But the Rohingya have not become a campaign issue. Nor are they expected to be, given the government's position on the minority.

The coronavirus has also been spreading at the camps, causing increasing concern among the refugees.

Mohammad Alam, a 21-year-old Rohingya, arrived in Cox's Bazar in August 2017 after the Myanmar military attacked his village in Maungdaw.

He later married a fellow refugee. "I am now father of a baby boy and living a secure life in Bangladesh," he said.

But he said residents of the camps live in fear of the coronavirus and have been asked to wear masks and avoid gatherings.

Virus cases were first reported at the camps in May. By Aug 16, 79 infections had been confirmed there, including six deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Many Rohingya refugees were separated from their family members as they fled to Bangladesh. After three years, they are still desperate to know what has become of them.

Rafiqua Begum, a 25-year-old mother of three, said she and her children got separated from her husband Amir Hossain.

"I still don't know the whereabouts of my husband," she said.

https://www.bangkokpost.com/world/1973607/3-years-on-rohingya-refugee-repatriation-to-myanmar-still-uncertain

--------

Kabul police chief fired amid surge in Afghan attacks

23 August 2020

Kabul's police chief has been fired following a rise in violence and bombings in the Afghan capital in recent weeks, the Interior Ministry says.

Interior Ministry spokesman Tareq Arian said on Sunday that authorities dismissed Ammanullah Wahidi and at least two other security officials over "the recent rise in insecurity" the national capital.

Another top security official confirmed the removal of Wahidi, who oversaw security in Kabul and surrounding districts.

"The people are worried and the president is upset over these attacks," the official said. "There will be more changes in the security leadership of Kabul soon."

The dismissal came following mortar attacks that hit the presidential palace last week.

At least three people were killed and about 20 others injured in a string of rocket attacks that hit Kabul on Tuesday.

Fourteen rockets were fired into Kabul’s heavily-fortified green zone on Tuesday as the country marked its 101st independence anniversary. Witnesses said that on same day some of the rockets struck near the presidential palace — where Afghan President Ashraf Ghani a short while earlier took part in an independence day event — and the Defense Ministry.

The area is home to a number of foreign embassies along with high-profile government installations.

The attacks came as Kabul has been rocked by a series of assaults using sticky bombs, homemade devices attached to vehicles with magnets.

On Saturday, officials said at least four magnetic bombs had exploded in the Afghan capital killing at least one security official and wounding six others, including civilians.

At least seven civilians were killed in eastern Ghazni province after an improvised explosive device (IED) struck their vehicle on Sunday, According to the governor's spokesman Wahedullah Jumazada.

More than 100 IEDs had been detonated across Afghanistan in the past two weeks.

No group has claimed responsibility for the increasing number of blasts caused by the devices, but the Afghan authorities have continued to pin the blame on the Taliban militant group.

Official data shows that bombings and other assaults by the Taliban have surged 70 percent since the militant group signed the deal with the United States in February.

The deal envisages a complete withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, and the Taliban pledged not to attack American and other foreign forces. They made no such pledge in relation to the Afghan government and people.

The Afghan government was a party neither to the negotiations nor to the deal, but it has been acting in accordance with its terms, including by agreeing to free Taliban prisoners. The militants have not stopped attacking government targets and civilians.

Washington invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban-run government in 2001 on the pretext of fighting terrorism following the September 11 attacks.

The Taliban, however, never stopped their attacks, citing foreign military presence as one of the main reasons behind its continued militancy.

The Daesh terrorist group has also emerged in the Asian country more recently.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/08/23/632447/Afghanistan-Kabul-Ashraf-Ghani-Ammanullah-Wahidi--Ghazni--

--------

 

Arab world

 

Saudi Crown Prince Orders Detention of Family Members of Ex-Intelligence Official

Aug 23, 2020

The twitter account of the Arabic-language al-Ahd al-Jadid news website reported on Sunday that the family members of Aljabri have been arrested upon an order by bin Salman.

Aljabri had earlier this month publicly accused Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of sending a team of agents to Canada to kill him.

The accusation came in a lawsuit filed at the United States federal court by Aljabri who has accused Prince Mohammed of seeking to silence or kill him to stop him from undermining the prince’s relationship with the United States and the Trump administration.

The suit marks the first time a former senior Saudi official has publicly accused Prince Mohammed, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, of carrying out a widespread and sometimes violent campaign to silence critical voices.

Aljabri, who was a top aide in the Saudi Interior Ministry, now lives in self-imposed exile near Toronto. Prince Mohammed has been trying to coax him to return to Saudi Arabia and in March, Saudi Arabia detained two of Aljabri’s adult children and his brother, prompting accusations by relatives and United States officials that they were being held hostage to secure Aljabri’s return.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990602000964

--------

Syria gas pipeline explosion leads to total blackout: Minister

24 August 2020

An explosion on the Arab Gas Pipeline has caused a power blackout in Syria and initial indications point to an attack, the energy minister told state-run television on Monday.

The Ikhbariya TV channel showed footage of a large fire following the explosion, which officials told state media occurred between the Syrian towns of Ad Dumayr and Adra, northwest of the capital of Damascus.

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

“Assessments show that the explosion ... was the result of a terrorist attack,” state news agency SANA quoted Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Ghanem as saying. He did not provide further detail.

The electricity minister was quoted by state news agency SANA as saying that power had gradually started being restored to the country’s provinces.

The Arab Gas Pipeline system extends from Egypt into Jordan and Syria.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/08/24/Syria-gas-pipeline-explosion-leads-to-total-blackout-Minister.html

--------

After explosion, Lebanese say ‘Beirut is not for sale’ to corrupt developers

23 August 2020

Jacob Boswall

In Lebanon, property developers have spotted an investment opportunity after the deadly explosion at the Beirut port, and some have harassed tenants to move out or have lied to tenants, telling them property was unsafe to live in.

The “Beirut is not for sale” campaign has emerged as a way to save Beirut’s heritage sites and push back against these shady operations, some of which are said to be linked to politicians.

Antoine Atallah, the president of Save Beirut Heritage, an NGO devoted to protecting Beirut’s architectural and urban heritage, was in Greece when he heard about the Beirut explosion.

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

Days later, he was on a plane back to his home country.

In three decades of destruction and reconstruction, 32-year-old Atallah has never seen anything like the mass mobilization to save the city’s heritage following the Beirut blast earlier this month.

Previous attempts to save Beirut’s architecture from war and real estate tycoons have had mixed success.

“In the 1990s there was lots of mobilization [to preserve heritage], especially around the downtown. There were movements, but unfortunately they were largely unsuccessful. After the war, people didn’t have the peace of mind to think about heritage,” he told Al Arabiya English.

The real estate sector boomed in the 2000s, piquing public interest in sites of architectural importance – but it wasn’t enough to stop developers building over ancient archaeological sites.

Now Atallah is noticing a different kind of urgency and public interest in saving Beirut’s heritage.

“All the other demolitions happened bit by bit. But people need to go back to a city they still recognize. It is part of the healing process for them to go back to places that represent them,” he said.

Besides the shock of the trauma, the geographical damage is also raising the profile of restoration efforts.

Much of the recent destruction took place in central East Beirut’s historically significant neighborhoods that were left relatively untouched by previous waves of war and urban renewal.

The hip Gemmeyze and Mar Mkhael neighborhoods, known for their trendy restaurants, bars and cafes, in East Beirut were hit particularly hard.

“They escaped most of [the previous] damage. Plus they are areas very present in the minds of people. [People] identify with these places, not just a single house,” he continued.

This all means that public discourse around restoration is changing, Atallah explained.

“For the first time, everyone is talking about heritage in a different way… that heritage is not just about the building but also the social fabric that lives in the material fabric.”

For Atallah and his colleagues, successful preservation of these important sites doesn’t just mean protecting buildings. It also means making sure that people continue to live and work in them.

That is no easy task. Many home owners and renters living in heritage buildings are keen to cut their losses and sell up for modest returns. In some cases, property developers have spotted an investment opportunity, harassing tenants to move out fast for little compensation.

Naji Raji, founder of Save Beirut Heritage, helps tenants avoid this trap. He recalls several cases where landlords have falsely claimed that a building is no longer fit for use – sometimes sending teams of so-called experts who produce sham reports declaring structural unsoundness.

“The aim is to kick them out as soon as possible, so the landlord can demolish the building and sell the land to developers,” he explained. In some cases, owners have been approached by companies or individuals with links to political organizations and security apparatus, Raji added.

To eliminate any doubt, an official engineering report must be established and sent to the Directorate General of Antiquities. In most cases, the families are able to move back in after some simple renovation. If the building is more damaged, funds and relevant heritage expertise will be needed to carry out more significant restoration.

But Raji is aware that many tenants and home owners are still moving out or selling to make way for large scale development. Often, the residents simply can’t afford to keep living there – and so they sell up quietly.

“The people who are thinking of selling will not talk to us. This is a problem, because we never hear about these things from a direct source.”

Atallah has a brighter outlook. He is thankful that the media campaign “Beirut is not for Sale” galvanized public opinion against property vultures so quickly.

“I think we have averted most of the danger [from exploitative development]. Everyone started talking about it, it gained speed very quickly.”

As Beirut continues to rebuild itself, popular support for restoration remains crucial, Atallah said.

“Today we have it. However, we are faced with two timeframes: The first is making sure that people can live in their houses and work in their spaces. The second is the restoration of heritage structures. We need to find the right formula.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2020/08/23/After-explosion-Lebanese-say-Beirut-is-not-for-sale-to-corrupt-developers

--------

Iran could bear responsibility for UAE-Israel reconciliation: Veteran US diplomat

Leen Alfaisal

24 August 2020

Iran bears responsibility for the reconciliation between Israel and the UAE “in a lot of ways,” veteran US diplomat and author Dennis Ross told Al Arabiya in an interview on Saturday.

“They [Arab states and Israel] see a common threat. Many states in the Arabian Peninsula see a threat [from] Iran, and they don’t see a threat from Israel,” Ross said. “So, Israel becomes a kind of a natural partner.”

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

Israel and the UAE announced earlier this month that they would normalize diplomatic ties.

Under the accord, which US President Donald Trump helped broker, Israel agreed to suspend its planned annexation of areas of the occupied West Bank.

Ross stated that the Palestinian issue has become less important within the region, saying that it is “a reality of others seeing threats that are more immediate to them and that they have to deal with.”

The deal also firms up opposition to regional power Iran, which the UAE, Israel and the United States view as the main threat in the conflict-riven Middle East.

In the interview, the diplomat laid out the options that the Palestinians have, saying that “they shouldn’t be aligning with Iran and Turkey, especially given the Turkish support of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

“They [Palestinians] should be thinking about what can they do with those in the region, who fundamentally would like to see a Palestinian state, but who are also signaling that while they’re prepared to do some things for the Palestinians, they’re not prepared to wait forever for the Palestinians,” Ross added.

There is an “unmistakable message” from the region to the Palestinians, according to Ross, and that is that Arab states have their own interest and that they won’t forget the Palestinians. But “if the Palestinians don’t seem prepared to do very much on their own, they’re not going to wait for them.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/08/23/Iran-could-bear-responsibility-for-UAE-Israel-reconciliation-Veteran-US-diplomat.html

--------

US hands over base to Iraqi troops amid calls for withdrawal

23 August 2020

US troops and their allies have withdrawn from the Taji base north of Iraq's capital Baghdad and handed it over to Iraqi security forces.

The pullout took place on Sunday following several rocket attacks targeting the military base.

“The movement of coalition military personnel is part of a long-range plan coordinated with the government of Iraq,” the US military said in a statement, adding that the Taji base held up to 2,000 forces, most of whom departed this summer.

The remaining US troops, it said, will depart in the coming days after finalizing the handing over of equipment to Iraqi security forces.

The US military further said that Sunday’s withdrawal was the eighth transfer of a foreign portion of an Iraqi base back to local forces.

Major General Tahseen al-Khafaji, the spokesperson for Iraq's joint operations, confirmed that the Taji base “was being used to train, prepare, and rehabilitate the Iraqis by Australian, New Zealand, and American forces.”

“It will now be dedicated for the usage of the Iraqi security forces,” he told the Iraqi News Agency.

Meanwhile, al-Dijlah TV reported that Taji’s training sites had been handed over to the Iraqis and the remaining sites will follow as scheduled.

Anti-US sentiment has been running high in Iraq since Washington assassinated top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani and the second-in-command of the Iraqi popular mobilization units, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in January.

Following the attack, Iraqi lawmakers unanimously approved a bill on January 5, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign troops.

More than 17 years after the US invasion of Iraq, President Donald Trump said Thursday the United States would eventually withdraw all American troops from the conflict-ridden nation, though he did not provide a timetable.

"At some point, we obviously will be gone,” Trump said in his meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. "We look forward to the day when we don’t have to be there,” he added before the two men met privately.

There are currently about 5,000 troops in Iraq. Their assignments include alleged counter-terrorism operations and training Iraqi security forces.

Throughout their battle with foreign-backed terrorists, several Iraqi officials and military commanders came forth to reveal that US troops were in fact assisting the terrorists.

Trump told reporters before his meeting with the Iraqi leader that the US military had very few troops left in Iraq, but was there to help the country if neighboring Iran should do anything.

He said US companies were involved in many prospects in Iraq’s oil business, as al-Kadhimi declared his country open for American businesses and investment.

Al-Kadhimi took office in May amid growing tensions between the United States and Iraq.

Iraq’s government objected to the Trump-authorized drone strike in January while Gen. Soleimani was visiting Baghdad.

The assassination inflamed anti-American sentiment in Iraq and prompted calls for the withdrawal of US troops.

Trump threatened Iraq with sanctions if the country’s leaders followed through on threats to expel US forces over the drone strike.

Armed Iraqi factions on Thursday threatened to target US interests in the country after Trump declined to give a timetable for US withdrawal from Iraq during an Oval Office meeting with al-Kadhimi.

A statement issued by armed groups calling themselves the "Resistance Factions” criticized the agenda of al-Kadhimi’s meetings which did not include the immediate implementation of the decision to remove US troops from the country.

"Al-Kadhimi must make the implementation of the decision of the Iraqi people his top priority," the statement said.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/08/23/632415/Iraq-Taji-base-coalition-forces

--------

 

New Zealand

 

New Zealand shooter emotionless as victims' families address sentencing hearing

24 Aug 2020

A white supremacist who killed 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand last year watched without emotion on Monday as relatives of his victims recounted the horror of a massacre which prosecutors said he carefully planned to cause maximum carnage.

Australian national Brenton Tarrant, 29, has pleaded guilty to 51 murders, 40 attempted murders and one charge of committing a terrorist act during the shooting rampage in the city of Christchurch which he livestreamed on Facebook.

He could be the first person in New Zealand to receive a term of life in prison without parole, when a High Court judge sentences him later this week for carrying out the deadliest shooting in the country’s history on March 15 last year.

Dressed in grey prison clothes, Tarrant looked at those delivering victim impact statements including the mother of Ata Elayyan, the 33-year-old goalkeeper for the New Zealand futsal team who was slain in the Al Noor mosque.

ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER AD

Maysoon Salama said she constantly wondered what her son was thinking in his last moments “armed only with his courage”.

“I can’t forgive you [...] you gave yourself the authority to take the souls of 51 people. Our only crime in your eyes is that we are Muslims,” she said.

“You killed your own humanity and I don’t think the world will forgive you for your horrible crime. May you get the severest punishment for your evil act in this life, and hereafter.”

Elayyan was near the back of the mosque while his father, near the front, survived the attack despite being shot in the head and shoulder.

Gamal Fouda, imam of Al Noor mosque, told Tarrant that he was “misguided and misled”.

“I can say to the family of the terrorist that they have lost a son and we have lost many from our community too,” Fouda said.

“I respect them because they are suffering as we are.”

Tarrant will be allowed to speak at some point during the hearings, although Justice Cameron Mander has powers to ensure the High Court is not used as a platform for extremist ideology.

Meticulous planning

The attacks prompted a global outpouring of grief as well as scrutiny of social media platforms after the then 28-year-old live-streamed the shootings shortly after uploading a manifesto.

Crown prosecutor Barnaby Hawes said Tarrant told police that he wanted to create fear among the small Muslim minority in New Zealand.

Tarrant had also expressed regret for not taking more lives and revealed that he had intended to burn down the Al Noor mosque after the shootings, Hawes said.

“He intended to instill fear into those he described as invaders, including the Muslim population or more generally non-European immigrants,” Hawes said.

Tarrant fired “two precisely aimed shots” at three-year-old Mucaad Ibrahim who was clinging to his father’s leg, Hawes said. Ibrahim was the youngest victim of the shootings.

The shooter spent years purchasing high-powered firearms, researched mosque layouts by flying a drone over his primary target, and timed his attacks to maximise casualties, the prosecutor said.

While most of Tarrant’s victims were at Al Noor mosque, he killed seven people at a second mosque before being detained en route to a third.

Security was tight outside the court, with police dogs pacing the streets and snipers on rooftops, television footage showed.

With social distancing measures in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, some survivors and victims’ relatives had to view the proceedings in overflow court rooms.

Live reporting from the courtroom was banned, and other restrictions were put in place on what the media could report.

Justice Mander said he would not sentence Tarrant before Thursday so that survivors and family members of victims had an opportunity to address the court.

A murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison. The judge can impose a life term without parole, a sentence that has never been used in New Zealand.

The hearings were adjourned until Tuesday morning.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1576205/new-zealand-shooter-emotionless-as-victims-families-address-sentencing-hearing

--------

 

North America

 

Pompeo, Kushner to Middle East as US seeks to forge Arab-Israeli peace deals

22 August 2020

The Trump administration will send two top officials to the Middle East this week in a bid to capitalize on momentum from the historic agreement between Israeli and the United Arab Emirates to establish diplomatic relations.

Three diplomats say Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner plan to make separate, multiple-nation visits to the region in the coming days to push Arab-Israeli rapprochement in the aftermath of the Israel-UAE deal.

Pompeo is expected to depart on Sunday for Israel, Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Sudan, according to the diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the itinerary has not yet been finalized or publicly announced.

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

Kushner plans to leave later in the week for Israel, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, the diplomats said.

Neither trip is expected to result in announcements of immediate breakthrough, the diplomats said, although both are aimed at finalizing at least one, and potentially more, normalization deals with Israel in the near future.

Meeting with Taliban

Pompeo also plans to meet in Qatar with members of the Talban to discuss intra-Afghan peace talks that are key to the withdrawal of remaining US forces in Afghanistan, the diplomats said.

The White House and State Department had no comment on the planned trips, which will come as the administration steps up efforts to push for Arab-Israeli normalization even without a resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

They also come as the administration has taken the controversial step of triggering the restoration of all international sanctions on Iran, something that only Israel and the Gulf Arab nations have publicly supported.

Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced on August 13 they would establish full diplomatic relations, in a US-brokered deal that required Israel to halt its contentious plan to annex occupied West Bank land sought by the Palestinians.

The historic agreement delivered a key foreign policy victory to Trump as he seeks reelection and reflected a changing Middle East in which shared concerns about archenemy Iran have largely overtaken traditional Arab support for the Palestinians.

US and Israeli officials have suggested that more Arab nations may soon follow the UAE’s lead, with Bahrain and Oman believed to be closest to sealing such deals.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/08/22/Pompeo-Kushner-to-Middle-East-as-US-seeks-to-forge-Ara.html

--------

Pompeo pushes for extension of Iran sanctions, dismissing opposition

22 August 2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that the Trump administration will continue Washington's illegal push for an extended arms embargo against Iran despite being almost unanimously rejected by members at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

The Security Council voted last week rejecting a US-proposed resolution to extend the international arms embargo on Iran.

The rejection of the resolution prompted the top US diplomat to declare on Thursday that a 30-day countdown for the “snapback” of UN sanctions eased under the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement had begun.

Speaking to US media, Pompeo said on Friday that the US would enforce a sweeping arms embargo on Iran after UN sanctions are lifted on October 18 under the Iran nuclear agreement.

“We’re not going to let them have a nuclear weapon... Every leader around the world knows it’s a bad idea,” he said, adding, “I have not had a single world leader or one of my counterparts tell me that they think it makes any sense at all for the Iranians to be able to purchase and sell high-end weapons systems, which is what will happen on Oct. 18 of this year, absent the actions that we took at the United Nations yesterday,” Pompeo told CNBC.

Meanwhile, US friends and foes alike have declared the US action as illegal and doomed to failure.

There is universal consensus that when US President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2018, the US lost the standing to trigger "snapback".

Pompeo on Friday described the United States' most prominent Western allies refusal to go along with the US as “incomprehensible”.

“To side with the Russians and the Chinese on this important issue at this important moment in time at the UN, I think, is really dangerous for the world,” he told US media, adding, "I assure you the United States will use every tool in its arsenal to make sure that the Chinese and the Russians are incapable of delivering weapon systems to Iran ... We will do everything in our power to make sure that they don’t get the money that comes alongside being a global arms dealer as well.”

China described the US’ insistence on the extension of the UN sanctions against  Iran as "nothing but a self-serving political manipulation," stressing once again that Washington has no right to make such a demand after its unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA.

Right after Pompeo delivered the letter triggering "snapback" on Thursday, Russia’s deputy UN ambassador, Dmitry Polyansky, mocked the US' “cajoling” efforts to persuade world countries to join the US-proposed illegal sanctions against Iran.

1/2 Looks like there are 2 planets. A fictional dog-eat-dog one where US pretends it can do whatever it wants without “cajoling” anyone, breach and leave deals but still benefit from them, and another one where the rest of the world lives and where intl law and diplomacy reign https://t.co/rRQbRjViyj

— Dmitry Polyanskiy (@Dpol_un) August 20, 2020

“Looks like there are 2 planets. A fictional dog-eat-dog one where US pretends it can do whatever it wants without ‘cajoling’ anyone, breach and leave deals but still benefit from them, and another one where the rest of the world lives and where international law and diplomacy reign,” Polyansky tweeted,adding, "Snapback can be triggered by US only at the first planet. It’s isolated in the Security Council with its profane, illiterate and egoistic interpretation of Resolution 2231. Nothing will happen after US letter! Sorry to see a great country stubbornly humiliating itself!."

2/2 #Snapback can be triggered by US only at the first planet. It’s isolated in the Security Council with its profane, illiterate and egoistic interpretation of Resolution 2231. Nothing will happen after US letter! Sorry to see a great country stubbornly humiliating itself! #Iran

— Dmitry Polyanskiy (@Dpol_un) August 20, 2020

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/08/22/632370/US-Pompeo-Iran-Arms-Embargo-JCPOA

--------

 

Europe

 

Russia, Turkey 'agree in principle' on 2nd batch of S-400 delivery despite US opposition

Sunday, 23 August 2020

A senior Russian official says his country and Turkey have agreed in principle on the second shipment of Russian advanced S-400 missile defense systems despite strong opposition from the United States.

Dmitry Shugaev, head of Federal Service of Military-Technical Cooperation, said on Sunday that Moscow and Ankara are in advanced stage of discussion on the delivery of the second batch of S-400 Triumf, but the agreement has not yet been signed.

"We are awaiting for the decision of the Turkish partners to sign another option contract", Shugaev said in an interview with Zvezda TV, which is run by the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Also on Sunday, Sergei Chemezov, head of Russia's Rostec arms firm, said Moscow is likely to clinch a deal for the delivery of the second batch of S-400 to Turkey next year.

Chemezov announced the news in a statement, the Interfax news agency reported.

Rostec is a Russian holding based in capital Moscow that specializes in consolidating strategically-important firms, mainly in the defense and high-tech industries.

In late 2017, Ankara signed a $2.5 billion deal with Moscow to procure the S-400, a Russian-made mobile surface-to-air defense system designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles as far as 402 kilometers away, and can also be used against ground installations.

It has previously been sold only to China and India.

Ismail Demir, head of the Turkish Defense Industries Directorate, previously said that Russia and Turkey had reached an agreement in principle on the supply of the second batch of S-400s.

The delivery of S-400 launchers to Turkey began in July 2019, infuriating the United States, which had long warned that Turkey, a NATO member, cannot have both the S-400 and American Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets.

Washington claimed that the S-400 defense systems were incompatible with NATO equipment and could expose the F-35s to possible Russian subterfuge. Both Turkey and Russia reject the allegations and continued talks on an additional batch of S-400s.

The Russia-Turkey S-400 deal also envisages partial transfer of production technology to the Turkish side.

As Ankara did not yield to the US pressure, the S-400 deal prompted Washington to threaten sanctions and suspend Turkish involvement in its F-35 jet program. Washington further conditioned the supply of its Patriot missiles to Turkey on returning the already purchased S-400 systems back to Russia.

Turkey, the first NATO member to purchase Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems, has already received a regiment set of the advanced missile systems.

Ankara is striving to strengthen its air defense, particularly after Washington decided in 2015 to withdraw its Patriot surface-to-air missile system from Turkish border with Syria, a move that weakened Turkey’s air defense.

Before gravitating towards Russia, the Turkish military reportedly walked out of a $3.4-billion contract for a similar Chinese system. The withdrawal occurred under purported pressure from Washington.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/08/23/632425/Russia-Turkey-S-400-batch-NATO-US-F-35

--------

Morocco rejects normalization with Israel ahead of Kushner's visit

Monday, 24 August 2020

Morocco's prime minister has stressed his country’s opposition to any normalization of relations with Israel ahead of a visit by the US president's senior advisor Jared Kushner to the Arab country.

“We refuse any normalization with the Zionist entity because this emboldens it to go further in breaching the rights of the Palestinian people,” Saad Dine El Otmani told his Islamist PJD party on Sunday.

His remarks come as US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in law is expected to fly to Morocco in the coming days as part of a his “multiple-nation visit” to the Middle East that aims to “push Arab-Israeli rapprochement” after Israel and the UAE reached a much-condemned normalization deal.

Morocco has categorically rejected any rumors of normalization, insisting that it will not accept any compromise that undermines the “just Palestinian cause.”

Morocco and Israel began low-level ties in 1993 after an accord that purportedly sought to enable “peace” between Israelis and Palestinians was reached. But Rabat suspended ties with the Israeli regime after the outbreak of a Palestinian uprising in 2000.

The Associated Press quoted three diplomats as saying that Kushner will also visit Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

According to the diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will make a separate regional tour.

The diplomats said they were not expecting “announcements of immediate breakthrough.” Rather, the visits aim to “finalize at least one, and potentially more, normalization deals with Israel in the near future.”

Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv announced on August 13 that they had reached a deal that would lead to a full normalization of diplomatic relations between the two sides.

The highly controversial deal, which has since been widely condemned across the occupied Palestinian territories and the Muslim world, was brokered by Trump, who has attempted to paint it as a big breakthrough.

The UAE-Israel deal marks the third such normalization agreement the occupying regime has struck with an Arab country after Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994). Abu Dhabi was already believed to have clandestine relations with Tel Aviv.

Tunisian journalist tears apart photos of bin Zayed, Netanyahu

The Israeli-UAE deal has sparked protests in support of Palestine in various countries, including Tunisia.

Protesters took to the streets of the Tunisian capital on Saturday, carrying banners reading “normalization is high treason”.

Pictures of a Tunisian journalist (seen below) tearing down pictures of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in protest at the normalization deal went viral on social media.

The global campaign launched on August 15 was initiated by the “International Women’s Coalition in Support of al-Quds and Palestine” in Tunisia, and the al-Baraka Association for Charitable and Humanitarian Action in Algeria.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/08/24/632471/Morocco-rejects-normalization-Israel

--------

Russia and Turkey likely to sign S-400 missile deal next year: Ifax

23 August 2020

Russia is likely to sign a contract for delivery of an additional batch of its S-400 missile systems to Turkey next year, the Interfax news agency cited Sergei Chemezov, head of state conglomerate Rostec, as saying on Sunday.

Turkey bought a batch of the missile systems from Russia last year, leading to its suspension by Washington from the US F-35 stealth fighter jet program. The United States has said that Turkey risks US sanctions if it deploys the Russian-made S-400s.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/08/23/Russia-and-Turkey-likely-to-sign-S-400-missile-deal-next-year-Ifax.html

--------

UK foreign minister to meet Israeli, Palestinian leaders to press for dialogue

24 August 2020

British foreign minister Dominic Raab will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas this week to press for renewed dialogue between their governments to pursue a negotiated two-state solution.

“The UK remains committed to Israel’s security and stability, and the recent normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE (United Arab Emirates) was an important moment for the region,” Raab said in a statement on Monday, referring to a US-sponsored deal when Israel agreed with the UAE to forge full relations.

“Israel’s suspension of annexation is an essential step towards a more peaceful Middle East. It is important to build on this new dynamic, and ultimately only the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority can negotiate the two-state solution required to secure lasting peace.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/08/24/UK-foreign-minister-to-meet-Israeli-Palestinian-leaders-to-press-for-dialogue.html

--------

 

Mideast

 

Envoy: IAEA Chief’s Visit to Iran Not Related to Trigger Mechanism

Aug 23, 2020

“As said before, IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Gross will travel to Iran tomorrow and will hold meetings with the Iranian officials on Tuesday and Wednesday,” Qaribabadi wrote on his Instagram page on Sunday.

“Iran’s trust in the IAEA has been harmed in recent months. It is necessary that the director-general’s visit to Iran will build trust,” he added.

Iranian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to Vienna-Based International Organization Kazzem Qaribabadi

Qaribabadi said that the visit is not related to the trigger (snapback) mechanism pursued by Washington to return all UN sanctions against Iran, and added, “The visit has not been demanded by the US either and will take place upon an invitation by the Iranian side.”

“We do not allow others to manage relations between the Agency and Iran, specially in the current sensitive conditions,” he underlined, calling on the IAEA to keep loyal to the three principles of impartiality, independence and professionalism and not to act beyond the standards and independent data in the safeguards issues in a bid to remove the misunderstandings and guarantee continued cooperation.

Qaribabadi had said on Saturday that Grossi is due to travel to Iran in coming days.

“In line with the current interactions and cooperation between Iran and the Agency and after receiving invitation from the Islamic Republic of Iran, IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi will travel to Iran in the current week (Iranian week which starts on Saturday),” Qaribabadi said.

“Iran is one of the main partners of the Agency and we hope that the meeting will lead to the implementation of mutual cooperation,” he added.

Meantime, Grossi also said in a post on his twitter page that he is due to to travel to Iran.

“I will travel to Tehran on Monday for meetings with Iranian authorities to address outstanding questions related to safeguards in Iran. I hope to establish a fruitful and cooperative channel of direct dialogue. It is necessary,” he wrote.

In relevant remarks late last month, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said his country would continue its peaceful nuclear program in compliance with the IAEA rules, emphasizing that Tehran has always removed ambiguities regarding its nuclear program.

Araghchi added that Iran is a member of Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its nuclear program is carried out in coordination with IAEA regulations.

“Whenever our interests regarding the Nuclear Deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) are served we will be ready to return to all our JCPOA commitments,” he went on to say.

As an accountable country, Iran has removed all ambiguities and misinformation regarding its nuclear program, the official added.

Pointing to the US illegal withdrawal from the JCPOA, he reiterated that Iran has fully lived up to its commitment regarding the JCPOA, but, other parties [the US and Europe] have reneged on their obligations.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990602000645

--------

Erdogan meets with Hamas leaders despite $5 mln US bounties, terror designations

24 August 2020

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met on Saturday with a large delegation of Hamas leadership, including the Islamist group’s leader Ismail Haniyeh and deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri, both of whom have a $5 mln bounty on their heads after being designated as terrorists by the US.

Erdogan also received the chairman of the Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh alongside the accompanying delegation at Istanbul's Vahdettin Palace, according to state broadcaster TRT.

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

The meeting took place behind closed doors in the presence of the head of the Turkish intelligence service, Hakan Fidan, the presidential communications officer, Fahrettin Altun and the presidential palace spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin.

The US State Department had designated Haniyeh, leader of the Islamist Palestinian group Hamas, as a terrorist in 2018. Hamas, which dominates the Gaza Strip, advocates Israel’s destruction and is designated as a terrorist group by the United States and some other Western countries.

More than a week ago, a report by the Telegraph confirmed Turkey had granted senior operatives within a Hamas militant cell with citizenship. The Telegraph said it had seen papers that showed at least one of the 12 senior Hamas members in Turkey had received Turkish citizenship and an identity number.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/08/24/Erdogan-meets-with-Hamas-leaders-despite-5-mln-US-bounty-terror-designations.html

--------

Israeli police arrest anti-Netanyahu protesters

23 August 2020

Israeli police said Sunday they had arrested 30 demonstrators after thousands rallied in Jerusalem demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, chanting “Crime Minister” and “You’re fired.”

The demonstrators, some playing musical instruments, gathered in front of the premier’s official residence on Saturday night.

Local media estimated the crowd at around 10,000.

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

A police statement released early Sunday morning said there were outbreaks of violence during the rally and that officers were hurt.

“During the protests three policemen were injured by protesters,” police said.

Three of those arrested would appear in court on Sunday, the statement added.

Protests demanding that Netanyahu resign over several corruption indictments and his handling of the coronavirus crisis have been mounting in recent weeks, and the premier has been scathing in his counter-attack.

Earlier this month, Netanyahu accused Channel 12 and another private TV station, Channel 13, of “delivering propaganda for the anarchist left-wing demonstrations” through extensive coverage of the rallies.

Israel won praise for its initial response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, but the government has come under criticism amid a resurgence in cases after restrictions were lifted starting in late April.

Netanyahu has himself acknowledged that the economy was re-opened too quickly.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/08/23/Israeli-police-arrest-anti-Netanyahu-protesters.html

--------

Israeli protesters in thousands stage fresh anti-Netanyahu protest

23 August 2020

Thousands of protesters rallied in Jerusalem on Saturday demanding the resignation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, chanting “Minister of Crime”, “You’re fired” and “Free Israel.”

The demonstrators, some playing musical instruments, gathered in front of the premier's official residence. Local media estimated the crowd at around 10,000.

Protests demanding that Netanyahu resign over several corruption indictments and his handling of the coronavirus crisis have been mounting in recent weeks and the premier has been scathing in his counter-attack.

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

Earlier this month, he accused Channel 12 and another private station, Channel 13, of “delivering propaganda for the anarchist left-wing demonstrations” by giving extensive coverage of the rallies.

Israel won praise for its initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the government has come under criticism amid a resurgence in cases after restrictions were lifted starting in late April. Netanyahu has himself acknowledged that the economy was re-opened too quickly.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/08/23/Israeli-protesters-in-thousands-stage-fresh-anti-Netanyahu-protest-.html

--------

Forcibly silent majority in Persian Gulf region strongly condemns any normalization with Israel

23 August 2020

A powerfully “silent majority” is strongly rejecting any ties, whatsoever, between the Arab states in the Persian Gulf region and Israel, days after a much-condemned normalization deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv announced on August 13 that they had reached such an agreement that would lead to a full normalization of diplomatic relations between the two sides.

The highly controversial deal, which has since been widely condemned across the occupied Palestinian territories and the Muslim world, was brokered by US President Donald Trump, who has attempted to paint it as a big breakthrough.

The UAE-Israel deal marks the third such normalization agreement the occupying regime has struck with an Arab country after Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994). Abu Dhabi was already believed to have clandestine relations with Tel Aviv.

Furthermore, the Sudanese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Haidar Badawi Sadiq revealed on Tuesday, in an interview with Sky News Arabic that coup-hit Sudan was trying to follow the same path that led the UAE to a normalization pact with the Israeli regime, saying “there is no reason for the hostility to continue between Sudan and Israel.”

He went on to say that his respective ministry “does not deny the existence of communication between the two” sides.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to express his enthusiasm upon hearing Sadiq’s promising remarks, saying Tel Aviv would “do everything to make this vision a reality.”

لاحقا للقاء رئيس الوزراء نتنياهو مع رئيس المجلس السيادي السوداني الفريق أول عبد الفتاح البرهان، يرحب رئيس الوزراء نتنياهو بموقف وزارة الخارجية السودانية الذي يعكس القرار الشجاع الذي اتخذه رئيس مجلس السيادة السوداني والذي دعا للعمل على تعزيز العلاقات بين البلدين.

بنيامين نتنياهو (@Israelipm_ar) August 18, 2020

Reports said on Saturday that Israel’s Mossad head Yossi Cohen met with the deputy chairman of the Sudanese Sovereign Council, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo in a meeting mediated by UAE officials. Sudan has denied the report of the meeting.

Cohen, last week, paid a visit to the UAE and meet with his counterpart, Tahnoun bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, the national security adviser of the UAE and the son of the country’s founder.

It was the first public visit by an Israeli official since the announcement of the so-called agreement.

Although Sadiq was relieved from his duties over “unauthorized” comments about a possible Sudan-Israel agreement, Khartoum has already been in the same race with certain Persian Gulf states to embrace the occupying entity. 

Earlier this year, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of Sudan’s transitional government, met with Netanyahu in Uganda, and the clandestine relations between Tel Aviv and Khartoum can also be traced back to the 1950s, as Columbia University Professor Joseph Massad has already noted.

Silent majority against normalizing ties with Israel

The developments come as civil society groups and unions in the Persian Gulf states and North African countries are voicing their strong opposition against any normalizing relations with Israel.

Qatar

Two days after the announcement of the Israel-UAE agreement, the Persian Gulf Coalition Against Normalization, which is a Qatari activist group, strongly lambasted the condemned deal, stressing that it “went beyond normalization into an alliance with the Zionist enemy.”

The coalition emphasized that the agreement would not “deter the people of the Persian Gulf from standing with Palestinian rights”, which the group called the “forcibly silent majority.”

It also urged citizens to “to stand against Persian Gulf normalization at all levels and publicly denounce it and reject all justifications for it.”

Separately, another activist group, known as Qatar Youth Opposed to Normalization, called for a unified stance against Israel-UAE agreement.

Qatar has been under a blockade, since June 2017, by Egypt and three Persian Gulf states, namely the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain the allegations of meddling in regional affairs and supporting “terrorism.”  

Riyadh, which led the quartet states in isolating Doha, is believed to have overt relations with Tel Aviv.

“We are aware of the existence of a silent majority that rejects this humiliation and disgrace,” the Qatar Youth Opposed to Normalization said on Tuesday.

It also reaffirmed that “attacking Palestine means attacking Arab existence, and defending it means defending that very existence.”

Bahrain

On Friday, the Bahraini Society Against Normalization with the Zionist Enemy, which is composed of eight parties, also called on Manama to adopt a firm position against normalization ties with Tel Aviv.

It stressed in its statement that steps toward recognizing the occupying entity “have always increased its arrogance and aggression against Palestinians.”

نؤكد موقفنا الثابت و مواقف احرار العالم المؤيدة لحقوق الشعب الفلسطيني الثابتة والمقاومة للتطبيع بكافة أشكاله الرياضية والثقافية والأكاديمية والتجارية والصناعية وجميع المساهمين فيها.

#BDS #Bahrain #البحرين pic.twitter.com/U263h63noE

الجمعية البحرينية لمقاومة التطبيع (@bsaz_bh) August 15, 2020

The coalition, which includes Muslim and progressive political parties, urged Manama to affirm its rejection of normalization in line with the popular position already adopted by citizens of the tiny Persian Gulf country.

Kuwait

A number of trade unions and student groups in Kuwait also issued similar statements in condemning normalization.

Fourteen student groups, including the university student union, called on Kuwait’s 65-seat National Assembly – the parliament - to outlaw normalization with the Israeli regime.

بيان القوى الطلابية الكويتية

بشأن التطبيع مع الكيان الصهيوني

ودعوة لمجلس الأمة الكويتي لتشريع قانون يجرم التطبيع بكافة اشكالة.#لا_للتطبيع#التطبيع_خيانة pic.twitter.com/szH7GgMbTH

اتحاد طلبة جامعة الكويت (@NUKSku) August 18, 2020

Furthermore, 37 members of the parliament signed a joint letter reaffirming their opposition to ties with Israel.

بيان مشترك للقوى #الطلابية الكويتية

14 كياناً طلابياً كويتياً يصدرون بياناً يستنكرون فيه التطبيع مع الكيان الصهيوني الغاصب ويدعون لتشريع قانون يجرم التطبيع#الكويت_تقاطع#كويتيون_ضد_التطبيع pic.twitter.com/RmzUurclxM

— BDS Kuwait حركة (@BDS_Kuwait) August 18, 2020

“The public will not accept any retreat from the government’s commitment to the primary Arab and Muslim cause,” the legislators said.

4. Public Intellectuals:

Oman- statement by a group of 25 Omani public intellectuals calling for governments to respect the will of their people.

Kuwait- statement by group of public figures declaring they stand by Kuwaits civil society in support for Palestinians pic.twitter.com/UKpx5gPCTd

— Elham Fakhro (@elhamfakhro) August 16, 2020

The Kuwaiti lawmakers also stressed that the “crimes of the occupation cannot be removed from the souls of our people.”

Among the Arab states of the Persian Gulf region, Kuwait has long resisted the trend toward normalization with Israel pursued by its neighbors.

37 نائباً في #مجلس_الأمة_الكويتي يصدرون بياناً بشأن جريمة التطبيع مع العدو الصهيوني

ويؤكدون على موقف #الكويت الثابت بمناهضة التطبيع مع الكيان الصهيوني المحتل#الكويت_تقاطع#كويتيون_ضد_التطبيع pic.twitter.com/zrZIvIzmms

— BDS Kuwait حركة (@BDS_Kuwait) August 18, 2020

Meanwhile, activists, intellectuals and cultural figures across the Persian Gulf region have also expressed their rejection of the deal.

Activist slams Israel for bedeviling Palestinian cartoonist over critical UAE cartoon

Rima Najjar, a Palestinian social media activists has taken to task a former Israeli government advisor for trying to bedevil a Palestinian activist over his critical cartoon about a deal between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi to improve the two side’s relations.

Mohammad Sabaaneh is a Palestinian activist, who has likened the Emirati rulers to toilet paper in a poignant cartoon after Abu Dhabi announced its decision to clinch a deal with Tel Aviv with the goal of totally normalizing ties with the occupying regime.

Inciting The #Gulf Public On Twitter Against ##Palestinian #Cartoonist #MohammadSabaaneh #UAE #Palestine https://t.co/C7dIFKfOwK

— Mohammad Sabaaneh (@Sabaaneh) August 20, 2020

Later on, Edi Cohan, a former Israeli government advisor who introduces himself as “chief executive officer at Bar-Ilan University International School,” initiated a trolling campaign against award-winning Palestinian political cartoonist Sabaaneh based on his cartoon of the UAE’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Zayed as a toilet paper roll.

Edy Cohen retweeted Sabaaneh’s cartoon of the ruler of UAE as a toilet paper roll precisely in order to kindle fires of hateful and frenzied insults in response to the cartoonist’s depiction. Here is my translation of Cohen’s comment, which he wrote in Arabic.

"A Palestinian cartoonist abuses and curses [Persian] Gulf rulers. These cartoonists are scared to draw Netanyahu, because he could deny their entry to Israel. This, notwithstanding that the biggest Palestinian community [in exile] in the world is to be found in Saudi Arabia and then in the Emirates. How weird you are Palestinians [to bite the hand that feeds you]."

.@EdyCohen, SHAME! @Sabaaneh, like Dhabiya Khamis @dhabiya1, is inviting us to connect the dots and call for a free & Arab Palestine. He is not insulting the Emirati people any more than a critical Trump cartoon insults Americans

Long live all Arabs free!https://t.co/VYhLnjdj8n

 -Rima Najjar (@rima123) August 20, 2020

Mohammad Sabaaneh responded to Cohen’s incitement against the cartoon on his own Facebook page with: “One feels as though Edy Cohen represents public opinion in the [Persian] Gulf … He incites against one of my cartoons and so begins on Twitter a trolling campaign on my page. Anyone interested in attending the wedding [the trolling exercise], click on https://twitter.com/Sabaaneh/status/1296058521889447938?s=09.

The full text of the Najjar's article is available at the following address:

https://medium.com/discourse/inciting-the-gulf-public-on-twitter-against-palestinian-cartoonist-mohammad-sabaaneh-24bc4b5b534c

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/08/23/632448/Palestine-Persian-Gulf-Israel-normalization-US-UAE-Qatar-Kuwait-Bahrain

--------

Venezuela’s President Maduro says buying Iranian missiles ‘a good idea’

23 August 2020

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Saturday said it would be a “good idea” to look into buying missiles from Iran, a day after Colombia said Venezuela was considering such a plan amid growing ties between Caracas and Tehran.

Iran in May supplied gasoline to Venezuela to ease chronic shortages, triggering alarm bells in Washington as the two countries expand trade relations amid efforts to undermine aggressive US sanctions programs.

“It had not occurred to me, it had not occurred to us,” Maduro said during a televised broadcast with cabinet members, instructing Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino to follow up and jokingly telling his cabinet to keep the plan a secret.

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

“Padrino, what a good idea, to speak with Iran to see what short, medium and long-range missiles they have, and if it is possible, given the great relations we have with Iran.”

Colombian President Ivan Duque said on Thursday that Maduro is looking to buy Iranian missiles and is handing over weapons made in Russia and Belarus to Colombian armed groups, citing intelligence reports.

Weapons purchases appear relatively unlikely for Maduro, whose government is struggling to buy basic food and medicine or to provide fuel to the population due to sanctions as well as chronic dysfunction of the country’s refineries.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/08/23/Venezuela-s-President-Maduro-buying-Iranian-missiles-a-good-idea-.html

--------

 

Africa

 

Morocco rejects normalization with Israel ahead of Kushner's visit

24 August 2020

Morocco's prime minister has stressed his country’s opposition to any normalization of relations with Israel ahead of a visit by the US president's senior advisor Jared Kushner to the Arab country.

“We refuse any normalization with the Zionist entity because this emboldens it to go further in breaching the rights of the Palestinian people,” Saad Dine El Otmani told his Islamist PJD party on Sunday.

His remarks come as US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in law is expected to fly to Morocco in the coming days as part of a his “multiple-nation visit” to the Middle East that aims to “push Arab-Israeli rapprochement” after Israel and the UAE reached a much-condemned normalization deal.

Morocco has categorically rejected any rumors of normalization, insisting that it will not accept any compromise that undermines the “just Palestinian cause.”

Morocco and Israel began low-level ties in 1993 after an accord that purportedly sought to enable “peace” between Israelis and Palestinians was reached. But Rabat suspended ties with the Israeli regime after the outbreak of a Palestinian uprising in 2000.

The Associated Press quoted three diplomats as saying that Kushner will also visit Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

According to the diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will make a separate regional tour.

The diplomats said they were not expecting “announcements of immediate breakthrough.” Rather, the visits aim to “finalize at least one, and potentially more, normalization deals with Israel in the near future.”

Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv announced on August 13 that they had reached a deal that would lead to a full normalization of diplomatic relations between the two sides.

The highly controversial deal, which has since been widely condemned across the occupied Palestinian territories and the Muslim world, was brokered by Trump, who has attempted to paint it as a big breakthrough.

The UAE-Israel deal marks the third such normalization agreement the occupying regime has struck with an Arab country after Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994). Abu Dhabi was already believed to have clandestine relations with Tel Aviv.

Tunisian journalist tears apart photos of bin Zayed, Netanyahu

The Israeli-UAE deal has sparked protests in support of Palestine in various countries, including Tunisia.

Protesters took to the streets of the Tunisian capital on Saturday, carrying banners reading “normalization is high treason”.

Pictures of a Tunisian journalist (seen below) tearing down pictures of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in protest at the normalization deal went viral on social media.

The global campaign launched on August 15 was initiated by the “International Women’s Coalition in Support of al-Quds and Palestine” in Tunisia, and the al-Baraka Association for Charitable and Humanitarian Action in Algeria.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/08/24/632471/Morocco-rejects-normalization-Israel

--------

Haftar rejects Sarraj’s call for Libya truce as ‘media marketing’

24 August 2020

Libyan rebels led by renegade general Khalifa Haftar have rejected a ceasefire announcement by the internationally-recognized government in Tripoli.

Ahmed Mismari, a spokesman for Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), told media on Sunday that the ceasefire announced by the government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj “is for media marketing.”

Sarraj had on Friday “issued instructions to all military forces to immediately cease fire and all combat operations in all Libyan territories.”

“If al-Sarraj wanted a ceasefire, he would have drawn his forces back, not advanced towards our units in the coastal city of Sirte,” said Hatar’s spokesman.

“There is a military build-up and the transfer of equipment to target our forces in Sirte,” said Mismari, pledging a response to any raid on positions of the eastern-based rebels around Sirte and the central district of Jufra.

He did not elaborate on a parallel call for truce issued by the rival Tobruk-based parliament on the same day.

Haftar — who is primarily supported by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, and Jordan — launched a military offensive in April 2019 to seize Tripoli and unseat the Government of National Accord (GNA).

The Libyan army, however, prevented the collapse of the Sarraj government with the help of Turkey, reversing many of Haftar’s gains near the capital at a later point in the counter-operation and pushing them back as far as Sirte.

Libya was plunged into chaos when a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

The country has since split between rival administrations based in Tobruk and Tripoli, each backed by armed groups and foreign governments.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/08/24/632468/Libya-Haftar-rejects-ceasefire-Sarraj

--------

Mali junta, W Africa mediators agree on ‘certain points,’ talks to continue Monday

24 August 2020

West African mediators say they have reached an agreement with the junta that has seized power in Mali on “a number of points,” but some issues remain to be hammered out during the talks aimed at restoring civilian rule to the country.

Representatives of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) arrived in the Malian capital Bamako on Saturday for talks meant to reverse the military coup d’état that overthrew Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita last Tuesday.

ECOWAS delegates — headed by former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan — spent all day on Sunday holding talks with the coup leaders led by Colonel Assimi Goita behind closed doors.

After nine hours of discussions, Jonathan said late on Sunday that “we have been able to agree on a number of points but not yet on all the discussions.”

The ECOWAS team’s head also said the negotiations will continue on Monday.

Similarly, a spokesman for the military junta, Colonel Ismael Wague, said they have “reached compromise on certain aspects and the negotiations will continue tomorrow.”

Neither side provided further details, but a senior officer close to the junta told Reuters earlier on Sunday that the talks during the morning session had focused on the sanctions imposed on Mali in the wake of the coup.

Meanwhile, French Radio RFI reported late on Sunday that the military has proposed a three-year transition led by a soldier and made up of mostly soldiers.

It also said that the junta was ready to allow Keita — who is kept at a military camp outside the capital — to return to his home or leave the country.

AFP also cited an ECOWAS source as saying that Malian Prime Minister Boubou Cisse would be moved to “a secure residence in the capital.”

Jonathan, who met Keita on Saturday, said the 75-year-old is “very fine.”

The junta of military officers has controlled the country since Tuesday, when the mutineers detained Keita at gunpoint and forced him to step down. They have promised to oversee a transition to elections within a “reasonable” amount of time.

The military rulers say they “completed the work” of the protesters, who had been calling for the president’s resignation for months over alleged corruption and deteriorating security in areas where affiliates of al Qaeda and Daesh Takfiri terrorist groups are active.

The president’s ouster has, however, been condemned abroad, with the neighboring countries calling for his return to power.

The African Union suspended Mali’s membership over the coup.

In turn, ECOWAS, which has taken an especially hardline stance, has suspended Mali from its decision-making institutions, shut borders and halted financial flows with the country.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/08/24/632467/Mali-ESCOWAS-coup-talks

--------

 

Three Shia mourners killed, dozens wounded in Nigerian police attack

23 August 2020

At least three people have been killed and dozens of others injured after Nigerian police attacked mourners marking the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (AS), the third Shia Imam and grandson of Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon Him), in the northern state of Kaduna.

The casualties took place on Saturday evening when police and security forces violently attacked an annual Ashura mourning ceremony that had been organized by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) in Hayin Bello neighborhood of Kaduna.

The IMN, led by prominent Muslim cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, said on its Twitter account that police had also fired teargas at mourners in the ceremony and vandalized their vehicles.

Update: Some vehicles belonged to the mourners are vandalized by @PoliceNG bullets, and tear gas; including their patrol vehicle which they shot tear gas at, that resulted in a fire. pic.twitter.com/1LunIHS2J9

— Islamic movement in Nigeria (@imnigeria_org) August 22, 2020

The Nigerian government has been cracking down on Shia Muslim ceremonies for several years and has also banned the IMN, whose members regularly take to the streets of the capital Abuja to call for the release of the their leader.

Zakzaky, who is in his mid-60s, has been in detention since December 2015 after his residence in the city of Zaria was raided by Nigeria’s forces, during which he was beaten and lost vision in his left eye.

During the brutal arrest, three of his sons were also killed, his wife sustained serious wounds, and more than 300 of his followers lost their lives.

Zakzaky was charged in April 2018 with murder, culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, the disruption of public peace, and other accusations. He has pleaded not guilty, vehemently rejecting all the accusations brought up against him.

In 2016, Nigeria’s federal high court ordered Zakzaky’s unconditional release from jail following a trial, but the government has so far refused to set him free.

The IMN members say the Nigerian government has turned a deaf ear to all protests calling for the top cleric’s release.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/08/23/632396/Nigerian-police-attack-Kaduna--mourners-

--------

West African mediators arrive in Mali, seeking reversal of coup

22 August 2020

Mediators from West Africa’s regional bloc arrived in Mali on Saturday for talks aimed at reversing a coup that has been condemned abroad, but celebrated by many in a country battling a Takfiri insurgency and simmering political unrest.

After three days of calm in the capital Bamako after Tuesday’s ouster of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, police used tear gas on Saturday when a scuffle broke out between a group of 50 pro-Keita protesters and local residents who threw stones, an eyewitness told Reuters.

The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has taken a particularly hard line on the coup. The bloc quickly shut borders and ended financial flows this week - a move diplomats said was as much about warning opponents at home as stabilizing Mali.

“They cannot tolerate this taking place. They are taking it very personally. It is on their doorstep and they think they are next,” one regional diplomat said.

The presidents of Ivory Coast and Guinea are among those pushing for a tough response, another diplomat said, as both have faced violent public protests to their third-term bids and want the bloc to show it will not tolerate power grabs in its own backyard.

All eyes are on the visit by an ECOWAS delegation led by Nigeria’s former President Goodluck Jonathan.

“We’ll continue to engage Malian stakeholders until lasting peace is found,” Jonathan said in a tweet shortly after landing at Bamako airport on Saturday afternoon.

A junta of military officers has controlled the country since Tuesday, when the mutineers detained Keita at gunpoint and forced him to resign. They have promised to oversee a transition to elections within a “reasonable” amount of time.

The ECOWAS delegation is due to meet the coup leaders, who call themselves the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), and visit Keita and other detained senior officials among other meetings, according to a provisional schedule seen by Reuters.

The ouster of Keita, known as IBK, has been welcomed by many in Mali, which was rocked by months of protests calling for his resignation over alleged corruption and worsening security in areas where affiliates of al Qaeda and Daesh Takfiri terrorist groups are active.

“Reinstating IBK is out of the question. The only thing they (the delegation) can achieve is the transition. Under the rules of ECOWAS, ECOWAS should midwife the transition,” the second diplomat said, referring to the outcome of the delegation’s talks.

On Friday, thousands of the coup’s supporters gathered in a central square in Bamako to celebrate the takeover. There is no outward sign ECOWAS’s suspension of financial relations is yet being felt.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/08/22/632365/Mali-coup-West-Africa-ECOWAS

--------

 

Southeast Asia

 

Tahfiz fire tragedy: Teenager jailed for murder of 23 individuals files appeal

24 Aug 2020

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 24 — The 19-year-old teenager who was ordered to be detained at the pleasure of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong after he was found guilty for the death of 23 people in a fire at Pusat Tahfiz Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah has filed an appeal against the order.

His lawyer Haijan Omar when contacted said a notice of appeal against the High Court ruling on August 17 was filed through e-filing, a day after the decision.

“We filed the appeal against the conviction and sentence,” he said.

Judge Datuk Azman Abdullah convicted the teenager on the charges after finding the defence had failed to raise reasonable doubts against the 23 murder charges faced by the juvenile and ruled that the youth had intentionally committed mischief to cause death.

The judge said since the teenager was a juvenile (16 years old) when the offence was committed, he had applied Section 97(1) of the Child Act 2001 to sentence him.

He said it was up to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to determine the terms and conditions of the teenager’s detention.

On January 28, 2020, Justice Azman ordered the teenager to enter his defence on the charges after finding that the prosecution had succeeded in establishing a prima facie case against him.

According to an amended charge, the teenager, together with another unidentified individual, was charged with murdering and causing the death of the 23 people staying at the tahfiz centre at Jalan Keramat Hujung, Kampung Datuk Keramat, Wangsa Maju here, between 4.15am and 6.45am on September 14, 2017.

He was charged with 23 counts of murder, each framed under Section 302 of the Penal Code and read together with Section 34 of the same law, which provides the mandatory death sentence upon conviction.

However, Section 97(1) of the Child Act 2001 states that a death sentence shall not be pronounced or recorded against a person convicted of an offence if the child is under the age of 18, and in lieu of the death sentence, as provided under Section 97 (2) of the same law, the court shall order the person to be detained at the pleasure of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. — Bernama

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/08/24/tahfiz-fire-tragedy-teenager-jailed-for-murder-of-23-individuals-files-appe/1896640

--------

Religious affairs minister: Dakwah approach should be appropriate with situation

24 Aug 2020

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 24 — Religious agencies play a significant role in ensuring that dakwah (Islamic preaching) activities, especially among the younger generation, are carried out through effective methods of communication, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Seri Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri.

He said the Semarak Dakwah motorcycle convoy programme to Orang Asli villages, organised by Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia (YADIM), should use communication methods that are easily accepted by the community.

“Religious agencies like Yadim play a significant role in dakwah; this (convoy) method will have a positive impact on the younger generation, at least in terms of effective communication.

“I consider the convoy participants as dakwah heroes and ambassadors of Yadim. I hope this effort will run smoothly and the participants will adopt a dakwah approach that is suitable to the situation,” he told reporters today.

Earlier, Zulkifli flagged off the convoy, which was headed to Orang Asli villages in Jelebu, Negeri Sembilan and Bentong, Pahang, at the Islamic Centre Complex here.

The Semarak Dakwah programme, held in conjunction with the National Day celebration, includes counselling sessions, activities involving youths, visits, human development programmes and Islamic entertainment programmes. — Bernama

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/08/24/religious-affairs-minister-dakwah-approach-should-be-appropriate-with-situa/1896595

--------

Report: Malaysia to seek settlement with Abu Dhabi over 1MDB issue

24 Aug 2020

BY JOHN BUNYAN

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 24 — Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is set to reopen talks with Abu Dhabi to resolve disputes over the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) case, in a bid to mend strained bilateral ties.

The Straits Times today reported that Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein will lead a special government task force to Dubai this week.

According to lawyers close to the matter, the task-force will seek a compromise to a legal challenge filed by Malaysia in a London court over the validity of an arbitration award that favoured state-owned entities of Abu Dhabi that had dealings with 1MDB.

The report said the Malaysian government’s sudden initiative for a settlement with Abu Dhabi comes just weeks after Kuala Lumpur secured a multi-billion-dollar deal with the Goldman Sachs Group over numerous 1MDB-related transactions.

Malaysia received US$3.9 billion in the form of cash and guarantees from the US financial institution, in exchange for the country dropping charges against the bank.

However, financial executives and lawyers familiar with the situation, told the Singapore daily that the deal would be more complex with Abu Dhabi as the many sensitive aspects of the dispute that would require major concessions from both governments.

A former government official, who was directly involved in the 1MDB saga, told the paper that any settlement will be political as both sides will not make any admission to guilt.

Malaysia and Abu Dhabi forged close ties during the premiership of Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who founded 1MDB shortly after coming to power in April 2009.

State-owned corporations controlled by Abu Dhabi, such as the International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic), soon began forging deals with their Malaysian counterparts.

In 2012, Ipic guaranteed US$3.5 billion of 1MDB bonds but that arrangement turned into a debt payment dispute between the two governments.

Ipic later sued 1MDB for defaulting on its debt obligations and both parties reached a settlement after the dispute went into arbitration in London.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/08/24/report-malaysia-to-seek-settlement-with-abu-dhabi-over-1mdb-issue/1896534

--------

When will Sabah and Sarawak truly celebrate Merdeka?

Joe Samad

August 24, 2020

The word Merdeka is derived from Sanskrit, meaning independence or freedom. As we join our West Malaysian friends in celebrating Merdeka Day, Sabahans and Sarawakians often wonder whether we will ever get the feeling of being independent and free after 57 years in Malaysia.

It was only on Oct 19, 2009, that the government decided to make Malaysia Day a public holiday. It took them 46 years to achieve that recognition. Despite Sept 16 being an important date, Malaysia Day is still celebrated under the shadow of Merdeka Day on Aug 31.

It’s now a tradition that the official Malaysia Day celebrations alternate between Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo. This year, it will be held in Sibu. Relegated to a second tier celebration after Merdeka Day, it is no wonder East Malaysians feel upset over its lack of prominence.

While East Malaysians embrace diversity and harmony in race, religion and cultures, West Malaysian politics still play up Malaysia Tanah Melayu, Ketuanan Melayu, and now Melayu Raya. All these terms constitute the concept of domination instead of sharing and bonding under one flag and national pride. As long as this kind of language and ideology is promoted, we will never be able to close the gap between Sabah and Sarawak and Malaya, no matter what.

The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government for all its weaknesses and infighting gave Sabah and Sarawak the best hope to be recognised as equal partners of Malaysia following the signing of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) between Britain, Malaya, Sabah (North Borneo), Sarawak and Singapore.

Last year, 20 items were negotiated to be fulfilled by the federal government and some were constitutional requirements. There are three items remaining to be negotiated related to oil and gas and territorial rights of the sea. It is a pity the PH government fell before it could be announced and implemented.

Under the Perikatan Nasional government, the items are now in the back burner and classified under the Official Secrets Act. After 57 years of marriage, we are still keeping secrets from one another.

The idea of divorce has crossed many minds in Sabah and Sarawak, but divorce is never easy and can be quite messy.

The Malaysia today is not the Malaysia that Sabah and Sarawak signed up for. In a joint public statement on Aug 1, 1962, as contained in the Inter-Governmental Report (IGC) issued by the British and Malayan governments, Sabah and Sarawak were promised safeguards covering religious freedom, the position of the indigenous races, education, representation in the federal parliament, and control of immigration, citizenship and the state constitutions.

However, these rights have been eroded to a large extent and Sabah and Sarawak have now become vassal states of Malaya. Instead of being equal partners, Sabah and Sarawak are now relegated to being two of the 13 states in the federation.

When Sabah and Sarawak asked for more money for development, people like Bruas MP Ngeh Koo Ham of DAP say we are ungrateful. What he is really saying is we should be thankful for what we have got, don’t ask for more.

However, unlike the other Malayan states, Sabah and Sarawak are partners in forming Malaysia. Without Sabah and Sarawak, there is no Malaysia.

Sabah and Sarawak occupy a special position in Malaysia and should be accorded class “A” status over other states.

It’s not as if we came into Malaysia with empty hands. Being the biggest oil producing states, Sabah and Sarawak have given more in oil revenue to Petronas and the federal government. East Malaysians contributed more than we received.

Since Petronas began extracting oil and gas in Sarawak from 1976 to 2017 (41 years), it had earned total revenue of about RM660 billion, but only RM33 billion was returned to Sarawak, said Sharifah Hasidah, the state de facto deputy minister for law.

Sabah has received about RM15.6 billion in cash payments from Petronas for oil and gas extracted in the state from 1976 to Dec 31 last year (43 years), said former deputy economic affairs minister Mohd Radzi Md Jidin.

In the 2019 Budget, Sabah was allocated RM5 billion for development projects and Sarawak RM4.3 billion, a pittance compared to the oil revenues extracted from the two states. When we compare Sabah and Sarawak’s fortunes with those of Singapore and Brunei, we can see the difference.

Since Singapore left Malaysia on Aug 9, 1965, it has become an economic powerhouse. Meritocracy has put a Muslim woman as president of Singapore. Brunei, which refused to join Malaysia, became an Islamic state and implemented hudud laws. Boycotts around the world have put the sultanate and its overseas assets under international pressure.

In Malaysia corruption is rampant and, for some, has become a way of life.

When Umno leaders protested in Sabah against Bung Moktar Radin, who is undergoing a corruption trial, being in charge of the Barisan Nasional-Umno campaign at the state elections, the leadership in KL says “it is ok”, sending the wrong signals to the public.

“Malaysia Prihatin” (Malaysia Cares) has been chosen as the theme for this year’s National and Malaysia Day celebrations. The question is, how many really care? Do our political leaders care more for the rakyat than themselves? After coming into power, they rewarded themselves with plum positions instead of making sacrifices for the people’s sake as they battle against the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ordinary citizens pay heavy fines and are sentenced to jail but ministers get a slap on the wrist and get to keep their jobs. It is as if there are two sets of laws – one for the elite in politics and one for the man in the street. If the leadership cares, they will have to walk the talk and fulfil their promises – loyalty to the king and country, freedom of worship, and a just and harmonious society where everyone is equal under the law.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2020/08/24/when-will-sabah-and-sarawak-truly-celebrate-merdeka/

--------

URL:  https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/indian-muslims-should-form-exclusive-party-consider-moving-to-kerala-controversial-islamic-preacher-zakir-naik/d/122706

 New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Loading..

Loading..