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Islamic World News (07 Nov 2018 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Indonesian Islamic Schools Electoral Campaign Magnet

Gus Nuril Arifin Husein, with sunglasses, the founder of the Jakarta Soko Tunggal Islamic Boarding School says presidential candidates visit Islamic boarding schools to get moral ---support, not to form political alliances. (Photo by Konradus Epa/ucanews.com)



Indonesian Islamic Schools Electoral Campaign Magnet

Court, Not Govt, Will Decide Putting Aasia Bibi’s Name on No-Fly List: Minister

AL General Secretary: 12 Islamist Parties Extend Support to PM Sheikh Hasina

Mali School Children Only Allowed Religious Education: Islamists

Busloads of Muslims Formed Human 'Rings Of Peace' To Protect Synagogues in Canada

India, Pakistan Troops Exchange Sweets along LoC in J&K's Poonch


Southeast Asia

Indonesian Islamic Schools Electoral Campaign Magnet

Zahid: Do Not Disturb the Royal Institution, Islam, Malay Language

Malaysians Still Visiting Thai Mosque Where 32 Muslims Were Killed 14 Years Ago

Xinjiang: China's Muslim camp spending 'revealed'

Thailand's Muslim rebellion has army living in 'constant fear'

Umno needs a Tony Blair to fight the Thatcher that is Mahathir, says Zaid

Indonesian comics tread fine line between humor, blasphemy



Court, Not Govt, Will Decide Putting Aasia Bibi’s Name on No-Fly List: Minister

Opp Senators Put Govt on the Mat over Labbaik Deal

TLP chief visits families of workers killed during sit-in

TLP claims crackdown halted, workers released

Pakistan to maintain strategic balance with India, says NCA Adviser

CJP Nisar takes notice of vandalism during TLP protests

Prime Minister Imran Khan briefed on TLP’s sit-ins, arrests   

Pakistan-US ties renewal under way, says Qureshi

Italy Says It Will Help Aasia Leave Pakistan

Activist’s name put on ECL on ISI’s suggestion, govt tells IHC

Pakistan’s progress lies in peace and rule of law: NSC

Pakistan, US agree to promote regional peace and stability


South Asia

AL General Secretary: 12 Islamist Parties Extend Support to PM Sheikh Hasina

1971 War Crimes: Tribunal Sentences Liakat, Aminul To Death

Bangladesh Police Say Top Islamic Extremist, Khorshed Alam, Shot Dead

Taliban kill 20 Afghan troops in attack on post near Iran border

Taliban to attend Moscow meeting on Afghan peace: spokesman

UN official urges Bangladesh to halt Rohingya returns

Civilians among 6 dead, wounded in a clash between Taliban factions in Nangarhar

NATO SG calls on Taliban to stop killing fellow Afghans and join peace talks

435 civilians killed, wounded during the parliamentary elections in Afghanistan

Facebook used to incite violence in Myanmar: Report

Taliban attacks kill 8 police in western Farah province



Mali School Children Only Allowed Religious Education: Islamists

At Least 16 Nigeria Troops Missing After Boko Haram Attack

Boko Haram: Nigerian Army, Customs join forces against insurgents in Northeast

Six soldiers reportedly killed as Boko Haram attack military formation in Yobe


North America

Busloads of Muslims Formed Human 'Rings Of Peace' To Protect Synagogues in Canada

Elimination of Islamic State 'Covert' Insurgency Could Take Years, Pentagon IG Says

Palestinian envoy hopeful of Jair Bolsonaro embassy U-turn

Moment Pompeo was asked about differences between Saudi Arabia and Iran

Europe expresses regret at US anti-Iran sanctions



India, Pakistan Troops Exchange Sweets along LoC in J&K's Poonch

Congress Fields Pro-Triple Talaq Leader, Faces Protest

2 Hizbul terrorists, including Army deserter killed in Shopian encounter


Arab World

Saudis Tampered with Consulate’s CCTV Security Cameras after Khashoggi Killing: Report

King Salman Embarks On Domestic Tour amid Khashoggi Crisis

Syrian Army Pre-empts Terrorist Groups' Offensives in Northern Hama

Tens of Terrorists, White Helmets Members Arrested over Leakage of Chemical Cargos Details

US Planning to Heliborne ISIL from Syria to Iraq

Turkey to Utilize Jeish Al-Islam Terrorists in Battle against Kurds in Northern Syria

Turkish Army Targets Kurdish Militias in Northern Syria Again

Tahrir Al-Sham Retreats after Clashes with Rival Terrorists in Northwestern Syria

Commander: Iraqi Popular Forces Ready to Hunt ISIL Terrorists in Syria

Egypt’s Sisi says army will defend Gulf Arabs in case of direct threat

Organization of Islamic Cooperation seminar to highlight KSA’s success against terror, extremism



Israel Lawmakers to Debate Death Penalty Bill for Palestinian ‘Terrorists’

Turkey Threatens Syria’s Kurds: A Headache for the US?

Erdogan says US sanctions on Iran ‘wrong,’ says Turkey won’t abide by them

Turkey will take US bounty on senior PKK leaders cautiously: Presidential spox

Yemeni forces shoot down Saudi-led reconnaissance drone over Sa'ada

Turkish police detain 13 suspects over affiliation to Gulen movement

Erdogan rejects joint US-Kurdish patrols near Syria border



Senior British Islamophobe Escapes Terror Charges

Shakespeare Can Help British Muslims Feel Less Excluded

Forgotten Muslim heroes of Great War immortalised in London exhibition

Prince Charles opposed Iraq invasion, is sympathetic to Palestinians, says new book

PKK terror rioters attack Council of Europe in France

Germany: US sanctions would strengthen radicals in Iran

EU urges Saudi cooperation with Turkish Khashoggi probe

Berlin: All behind Khashoggi murder should be punished

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/indonesian-islamic-schools-electoral-campaign-magnet/d/116817



Indonesian Islamic Schools Electoral Campaign Magnet

November 6, 2018

Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the end of October visited Islamic 'pesantren' boarding schools in populous East Java province as part of his presidential re-election campaign.

His vice-presidential running mate, Ma'ruf Amin, who is a former chairman of Indonesia's influential Islamic Ulema Council, visited other boarding schools in the province.

Meanwhile, rival presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto toured several boarding schools in Central Java ahead of the April election showdown.

Days before, Prabowo's vice-presidential pair, Sandiaga Solahudin Uno, travelled to boarding schools in West Java province.

Since the campaign officially kicked off Sept. 23, such Islamic schools have received a great deal of attention from aspiring candidates.

Although election supervision officials have warned against campaigning in educational institutions, candidates argued that they were simply undertaking friendly visits rather than campaigning as such.

Vote getter

According to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, there are 28,961 Islamic boarding schools across Indonesia accommodating more than four million students, known as santri.

They are run by Islamic teachers affiliated with Nahdatul Ulama and Muhamadiyah, the largest Muslim organizations in Indonesia.

Although many of the students are too young to vote, political observers consider their influence to be significant, including on parents and other family members, said Ujang Komarudin, executive director of the Indonesia Political Review.

He said candidates clearly fathomed the electoral potential of the boarding schools' alumni network.

"Boarding schools' alumni have a stronger emotional bond than other types of educational institutions as they have lived together in the dormitory system for a long time," he said.

"This is a real mass base in politics."

Usep Ahyar, executive director of the pollster Populi Center, said boarding schools are seen as symbols of traditional Islamic society.

"By approaching them, candidates want to associate themselves closely to Islam," he said.

Ahyar added that exploiting school links was a way of candidates blunting accusations by political opponents that they are anti-Muslim and/or pro-communist.

Widodo, who is often accused of being anti-Islam and hostile to ulemas, has pledged to establish job training centers in boarding schools.

His running-mate Amin, who previously founded a boarding school, has promised to set up a new department to oversee all Islamic boarding schools.

Pros and cons

Among boarding schools, there are mixed reactions to the candidates' presence.

Gus Nuril Arifin Husein, 59, founder of the Jakarta Soko Tunggal Islamic Boarding School, said that visiting such schools was common.

He added that on these occasions, Muslim scholars had an opportunity to give advice on how politicians should lead according to moral Islamic principles.

Amin Maulana Budi Harjono, 55, founder of a boarding school in Central Java, said politicians dropping into such institutions to cement ties was welcome, but students should be left to make their own choices about who to vote for.

Ibam Lukman Nurdin, from a boarding school in West Java, said schools should distance themselves from partisan politics.

However, Komarudin, from the Indonesia Political Review, said it was no secret that various schools backed particular candidates.

"The only difference is that some people state it explicitly, while others do not," he said.

He gave an example of how some 400 Islamic teachers in September declared support for the Widodo-Amin election ticket.

Surely, candidates view boarding schools as potential vote winners.

"They are vote base camps that we must protect," said Hasto Kristiyanto, secretary of Widodo's campaign team.

Priyo Budi Santoso, from the Subianto-Uno campaign team, acknowledged having a similar agenda.

"One of our main goals is to get support from the pesantren," he said.




Court, not govt, will decide putting Aasia Bibi’s name on no-fly list: minister

Nov 7, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri on Tuesday said that the court would decide on the matter of placing Christian blasphemy convict Aasia Bibi’s name on the Exit Control List (ECL).

The government and Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) had on Friday reached an agreement after which the latter ended its three-day-long nationwide protests against the Supreme Court’s acquittal last week of Aasia Bibi who had been sentenced to death in 2010 for alleged blasphemy.

According to the agreement, the government had promised TLP to “initiate the legal process” to place Aasia Bibi’s name on the no-fly list.

When asked whether her name had been placed on the ECL, Qadri said: “If you read the agreement, you’ll see it says that legal process will be undertaken to place her on the ECL.”

“When there are cases in the Supreme Court and high court, the court itself says that so-and-so should be placed on the ECL. So we will follow that process.”

“The TLP also said that some miscreants used their platform to damage public property and had behaved inappropriately. The State will take action against them,” he added.

“We stand by the agreement, and it will be acted upon,” Qadri said.

When asked whether the TLP would be banned, the minister said that there was no plan to ban the TLP.

“However, if someone’s intentions or designs are in conflict with the national narrative and policies, then hopefully steps will be taken against them,” he added.

The minister said that the government was formulating strategies in anticipation of similar situations in the future.




AL General Secretary: 12 Islamist Parties Extend Support to PM Sheikh Hasina

November 6th, 2018

Leaders of the Islamist parties highly appreciated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the way she ran the country for the last 10 years

Twelve Islamist parties have extended their support to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina so she could return to power.

“The Islamic parties have categorically said they will extend all-out cooperation so that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina could come back to power,” Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader told reporters emerging from a dialogue between the 14-party alliance and the 12 Islamist parties at Ganabhaban on Tuesday evening, reports BSS.

Quader said the leaders of the 12 prominent Islamist parties extended this support in the dialogue and the talks continued for nearly two hours.

A delegation of Islamist parties and coalitions held a dialogue with Prime Minister and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina, and leaders of the ruling alliance. The dialogue kicked-off at 2:45pm after the 52-member delegation entered the prime minister’s official residence Ganabhaban at 1:30pm.

“Every party has expressed its own opinion and raised some demands. But they clearly expressed their common views on upholding the spirit of the Liberation War and ideology of independence,” Quader told reporters outside Ganabhaban after the dialogue.

He said there was no disagreement on any issue during the dialogue between the two sides. He, however, said Khelafat Andolan demanded renaming a road in Dhaka after their late leader “Maulana Hafezzi Hujur.”

Quader, also the road transport and bridges minister, said all leaders of the Islamist parties have extended their support to holding the election as per constitution.

He said they will be a partner of the election, along with extending their support.

Quader said leaders of the Islamist parties highly appreciated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the way she ran the country for the last 10 years.

He said their party will start distribution of nomination forms on Friday ahead of the 11th national election.

“The forms will be distributed from the Awami League president’s Dhanmondi office from Friday and it will continue until further directives,” he said.

Replying to a question about the outcome of the dialogue, Quader said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will talk in detail about its outcome and inform her decisions in this regard through a press conference on November 8.

The parties included Islami Oikya Jote (IOJ), Bangladesh Khelafat Andolan, Bangladesh Muslim League, Bangladesh Jalali Party, Ashekine Awalia Oikya Parishad Bangladesh, Zaker Party, Bangladesh Jatiya Islami Jote (BNIA), Bangladesh Sammilito Islami Jote and Islamic Democratic Alliance.




Mali school children only allowed religious education: Islamists


Nearly 2,000 children in Mali have stopped going to school after suspected Islamists warned they would only allow religious education, teachers and local officials said Tuesday.

"Armed jihadists arrived in our village last week by motorcycle," said a teacher in the village of Toubakoro, about 140 kilometres northeast of the capital Bamako.

"They told everyone to gather in a mosque. They told us to close all schools where French is taught, and to teach only the Koran instead," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"They threatened to punish anyone who broke the new rule." Mali is struggling with a jihadist insurgency that began with an uprising by Tuareg separatists in the north of the country in 2012.

The extremists were largely driven out in a French-led military operation launched in January 2013.

But large stretches of Mali remain out of the control of Malian, French and UN forces, which are frequent targets of attacks.




Busloads of Muslims formed human 'rings of peace' to protect synagogues in Canada

November 6, 2018

After a deadly attack last year on a mosque in Quebec, Christians and Jews formed human "rings of peace" around mosques across Canada to help Muslim worshippers feel safer on their way in.

This past weekend, Muslims did the same for six synagogues in Toronto.

Several hundred people, arriving in busloads from different mosques, stood shoulder to shoulder around the synagogues with one very clear message.

"We're here for you," Fatima Sajan said.

Sajan was one of the organizers with the National Council of Canadian Muslims for last weekend's "Rings of Peace." A dozen organizations got together days after the October 27 attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue to plan how they could best show their support for the Jewish community.

The human rings of supporters -- which included people of many faiths -- may have been an act of love and support; but they were also a sign of strength.

"They were symbolic," Sajan said. "In order to get to the synagogue you have to go through us first."

Dr. Hamid Slimi, chairman at the Canadian Centre for Deen Studies, and other Muslims visited four synagogues on Saturday morning, among them Beth Sholom and Beth Tzedec.

"I'm proud of our community who stands strong against #Antisemitism the same way as #islamophobia & all forms of #bigotry," he tweeted.

Solel Congregation, a synagogue in Mississauga, saw more than 250 people from all faiths lining its garden.

A mosque was targeted last year

Sajan said the Pittsburgh shooting, in which 11 people were killed, hit close to home for the Muslim community.

In January 2017, a gunman opened fire in a crowed of men, women and children inside the Quebec Islamic Cultural Center during Sunday evening prayers. Six people were killed.

"We've been seeing over the past two years that hate crimes have been increasing, and the severity of these attacks has been increasing," Sajan said. "It's not just about one community -- we're all facing one common hate and one common intolerance."

She said Muslims are determined to stand together with their Jewish neighbors.

"It's not just up to the Jewish community to solve anti-Semitism," she told CNN. "We have to recognize that these issues are common forms of hatred. And we'll be working together to address the hate."




India, Pakistan troops exchange sweets along LoC in J&K's Poonch

Nov 6, 2018

JAMMU: The Indian and the Pakistan armies exchanged sweets and festive wishes Tuesday on the eve of Diwali along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.

"On the occasion of Diwali, as a confidence building measure, sweets were exchanged between Indian Army and Pakistan Army at Poonch and Mendhar on November 6," the Jammu-based White Knight Corps said in a tweet.

Both armies exchanged greetings and pleasantries along with the sweets, it said.

Meanwhile, a defence spokesman said General Officer Commanding, Fire and Fury Corps, Lt Gen Y K Joshi interacted with the troops deployed in zero degree temperatures in the rugged and mountainous locations of western Ladakh on the eve of the festival of lights.

Lt Gen Joshi conveyed his greetings to the troops and their families, the spokesman said. He said the GOC complimented the troops for their service to the nation in such remote and inhospitable terrain and weather conditions.

Later in the day, Lt Gen Joshi paid homage to martyrs at the Kargil War Memorial in Drass and interacted with troops, the spokesman said.




Southeast Asia


Zahid: Do not disturb the royal institution, Islam, Malay language

06 November 2018

SEREMBAN, Nov 6 — Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today reminded all parties not to disturb the Federal Constitution including the position of Islam and that of Bahasa Melayu (Malay language) as the national language.

Ahmad Zahid also stressed that Umno strongly opposed Malaysia’s ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

“Do not disturb what is in the Constitution, do not disturb the Muslims or equate Islam with the other religions, do not disturb the Malay Rulers, do not disturb Bahasa Melayu as the national language.

“We do not want to be racists or religious extremists, we (just) want the rights in the Constitution be preserved,” he said in his speech at the “With Umno President” gathering here today.

He said he did not prevent others from practising their religions or their right to use their own languages, but he would defend what is already in the Constitution.

Previously, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator P. Waytha Moorthy had said the Pakatan Harapan government was committed to ratify six treaties including ICERD in the first quarter of next year.

He said this was not a commitment from him alone but also from Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Mujahid Yusof. — Bernama




Malaysians still visiting Thai mosque where 32 Muslims were killed 14 years ago

By Sharifah Mahsinah Abdullah

November 2, 2018

KOTA BARU: The Kresek mosque in Pattani, Thailand, where 32 Muslim men were killed in a brutal attack 14 years ago, continues to receive visitors from Malaysia.

The mosque’s imam, Zakaria Mat Sin, said Malaysians, especially those from East Coast states like Kelantan and Terengganu, travelled all the way to the area to see bullet holes and other damage left from the attack.

“People from countries like Malaysia and Singapore are still visiting the mosque to see the damage done in the attack.

“Me and my assistant, Ahmad Daud, 52, are here all the time to tell the story to the visitors while showing them the damage,” said the 64-year-old imam, who added that visitors also performed the daily prayers with them.

“The visitors told us that they pray to God that such incidents will not happen again and that the oldest mosque can be maintained.”

Recalling the incident, Zakaria said he was waiting to perform the Subuh prayer with the 32 men when the attack happened.

“I was waiting outside the mosque when suddenly I heard loud sounds coming from the mosque.

“I saw many soldiers outside and inside the mosque. I only went inside with other villagers when the attack had ended,” he said.

On April 28, 2004, the Thai army surrounded the mosque where it was said 32 Malay Muslim separatists were holed up.

The men were among more than 100 who, the militray said, had attacked a dozen police stations and checkpoints across the south earlier in the day.

Full report at:




Xinjiang: China's Muslim camp spending 'revealed'

6 November 2018

China massively increased security spending in 2017 in the far-western region of Xinjiang, where hundreds of thousands of Muslims are alleged to have been detained, a new report says.

Spending in areas "that explain nearly all security-related facility construction" rose by 213% between 2016 and 2017, said the US-based Jamestown Foundation.

Satellite data shows a spike in new security facilities in 2017.

China says they are training centres.

But according to budget data reviewed by German academic Adrian Zenz for the report, spending on vocational training in Xinjiang actually decreased by 7% in 2017.

Spending on security-related construction, meanwhile, increased by nearly 20bn yuan ($2.9bn).

Xinjiang's budget figures "reflect patterns of spending consistent with the construction and operation of highly secure political re-education camps designed to imprison hundreds of thousands of [Uighurs] with minimal due process," Mr Zenz said.

Mr Zenz has previously suggested, based on local government tendering documents, that at least several hundred thousand and perhaps over a million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities could have been detained in Xinjiang.

Such estimates were also quoted at a UN human rights panel earlier this year. China denies the facilities are internment camps.

The top official in the region has instead said that a "vocational education and training programme" helps people to "reflect on their mistakes and see clearly the essence and harm of terrorism and religious extremism".

According to regional officials, classes are given on Chinese history, language and culture.

Former Uighur detainees now living overseas have told the BBC that they had to sing Communist Party songs in the camps, and recite laws accurately or face beatings. One man said he was detained in 2015 after police found a picture of a woman wearing a face veil on his phone.

Mr Zenz, an anthropologist and expert on Chinese ethnic policy at the European School of Culture and Theology in Germany, also found the camps were built by the same organisation that oversaw China's now-abolished labour re-education system.

Separately on Tuesday, China's human rights record was reviewed at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

In response to British, French, German and US concerns about the suspected mass detentions, Chinese representative Le Yucheng said his country "will not accept politically-driven accusations from a few countries that are fraught with biases".

He insisted that China must be free to "choose its own path" when it came to human rights.

The US has said it would consider sanctioning China over its policies, which Human Rights Watch says violate the rights to freedom of expression, religion and privacy.

The Uighurs are ethnically Turkic Muslims mostly based in Xinjiang. They make up about 45% of the population there.

They see themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations, and their language is similar to Turkish.

In recent decades, large numbers of Han Chinese (China's ethnic majority) have migrated to Xinjiang, and the Uighurs feel their culture and livelihoods are under threat.

Full report at:




Thailand's Muslim rebellion has army living in 'constant fear'


At a border checkpoint crossing into southern Thailand's conflict zone, a police officer rushed quickly from his wooden guard post toward a reporter who had been snapping a few pictures.

After the guard realized that the journalists were working on a report covering unrest in the region, he calmed down, adjusted his brown uniform, straightened his glasses and vented his frustration.

"It's hard for me to find words that describe the permanent atrocities committed the rebels commit," he said, while pointing to pictures of wanted separatists that hang at every checkpoint.

"For a short while after the death of the king [in October 2016] things quieted down," he said. "But now the entire tragedy is starting all over again."

For the past few months, isolated explosions and shootouts have been occurring almost daily. Soldiers and security personnel are the primary targets of separatist rebels.

The NGO Deep South Watch, which observes the unrest in southern Thailand, has measured an increase in victims over recent months.

Locked in conflict

Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat are three provinces in what locals refer to as Thailand's "deep south" on the border with Malaysia. The region is home to a Muslim, Malay majority in predominantly Buddhist Thailand.

For nearly two decades, separatists have been demanding that Bangkok grant them local autonomy, and the Thai military has come down hard to eradicate separatist terror cells.

In 2004, attacks began to occur regularly, and since then, conflict between separatists and the Thai government has claimed over 7,000 victims, with nearly double that number injured. Even though violence in the region has declined over recent years, a solution to end the conflict is not in sight. 

Don Pathan is an adviser for international organizations in Thailand who works with security and development issues. He has been watching the waves of conflict in southern Thailand for many years. He considers the latest upswing in violence to be a bloody backlash by the rebellion.

"The Thai military claimed that the decreased attacks during the mourning period of King Bhumipol was a victory for them," Pathan told DW, adding that the Muslim separatists answered this provocation with a series of attacks.

Living in 'constant fear'

Thailand's deep south consists of lowlands that are dotted with military bases. Heavily armed military vehicles creep along the roadsides manned by masked soldiers from the Royal Thai Army.

Hardly a kilometer goes by without a control checkpoint. Muslim civilians are under constant observation by the Thai military. A military officer showed DW's reporters his outpost, located not far from the provincial capital, Pattani. Birds chirped in ornately decorated cages hanging above the protective sandbag barricade.

Read more: Bombing in Thailand's restive south injures more than 50

"We live here in constant fear," the officer said. "The worst is not knowing when and where the rebels will attack next. Unlike us, the insurgents don't wear any identifiable symbols and it is very difficult to filter them out of the civilian population."

For years, the Thai army has been following a strategy of "de-escalation through strength." Former general Piyawat Nakwanich, who commanded armies in the south until he was ousted, tried to suppress unrest with a massive military presence. Shortly before he stepped down in August, Piyawat sent 1,000 soldiers to problem areas in Nong Chik district in Pattani province.

During their deployment, two soldiers were killed by gunmen and four were injured. According to critics, this show of military power only served to widen the divide between the state and Muslims.

"The ousted general and his heavy-handed strategy only left a pile of ruins that his successor will have to clean up," said Pathan.

New command takes a softer tone

In October, General Pornsak Poonsawas took over command of Thai military operations in the south and has started a charm offensive. In one of his first actions as commander, he presented a fruit basket, a symbol of building a new and healthy relationship, to Muslim religious leader Aziz Phitakkumpon.

Poonsawas also said that drugs rather than religion are the main contributor to tensions in southern Thailand. He told local reporters that drugs were being sold on the street, with the help of government officials. The general didn't offer any evidence for his claims.

Pathan said that this "new strategy" is little more than window dressing by the military.

"Drugs are a national problem in Thailand and this is in no way limited to the south," said Pathan. "But it is still a good chess move from him. By calling out problems that affect everyone, Poonsawas is trying to win over the Muslim population."

No solution in sight

However, a former hardline army commander, Udomchai Thammasarorat, was named as the chief negotiator for peace talks between the Thai government and Muslim rebels, with Malaysia playing a role as mediator. Up to now, these negotiations have not seen results.

Read more: Thailand on its way back to democracy?

Udomchai has a reputation as an unscrupulous hunter of rebels. He was the regional chief of an army base that made international headlines for its deadly torture tactics. Despite evidence presented by local activists, he continues to deny the charges.

Full report at:




Umno needs a Tony Blair to fight the Thatcher that is Mahathir, says Zaid

November 7, 2018

PETALING JAYA: Former minister Zaid Ibrahim has offered tips to Umno on how to rejuvenate itself in the wake of its fall from power, reminding party leaders that it is not difficult to counter the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government whose manifesto he described as a work of “idealists and economists” that “promised everything”.

Zaid said Umno leaders were still groping in the dark to galvanise support with issues such as whether to ask its president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to step down pending the outcome of his corruption trial, instead of coming up with a new philosophy to challenge decades-old policies including those institutionalised during the 22-year administration of Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“Mahathir is the Margaret Thatcher of Malaysia, so to win against him you need a Tony Blair in Umno,” Zaid, who is known for his maverick views on politicians from both sides of the divide, said in a blog post today.

The former Kota Bharu MP said Umno’s struggle to emerge from its doldrums would fail if its leaders chose to stick with “raw firebrand politics” that continued to use Malay rights and Islam to garner Malay support.

He said such a policy was a vestige of the old Umno dominated by Mahathir, but the present Umno must be “modern and progressive” in pushing the Malays up the economic and educational ladder.

He said in doing this, the party need not lose sight of its Malay roots, but should instead come up with an economic thrust that would not abandon some form of welfare for the community.

“So the economic thrust of Umno has to be skewed towards a controlled socialist state, with some room for private activities. This is the opposite of Mahathirs’s economic policies.

“To be credible, Umno must oppose Mahathir’s laissez-faire economics. They must oppose his privatisation plans, and the selling of state assets,” said Zaid.

He said one of PH’s weaknesses was its failure to fulfil the promise of various welfare initiatives.

“The problem is that the real decision makers in the PH government are not socialists or supporters of the welfare system,” said Zaid.

“They are billionaires and towkays who are close to, and are in line with, Mahathir’s economic thinking. Obviously they like selling assets and are in favour of creating more wealthy businessmen. They believe this will have a trickle-down effect, and everybody will be happy and satisfied.”

He said Umno leaders still could not understand what the present Malays want, and many were content with continuing old policies under which they had benefitted and become rich.

“This greed set in deep and it finally led to the loss in May because those policies could no longer satisfy the Malays,” he wrote, adding that the party’s objection to the ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination was an example of the party having no clue about Malay needs.

Saying there were “a few bright ones in the third liners” of the Umno leadership, Zaid said they should champion positive education, morality and good conduct.

“The next leader must be able to talk to taxi drivers about his plans without banning Grab. He must be able to tell the Malays how he plans to cut out greed and curb crookedness in the way power is exercised.

Full report at:




Indonesian comics tread fine line between humor, blasphemy

November 7, 2018

On Oct. 20, up-and-coming comedian Tretan Muslim uploaded the latest episode of his comedic cooking series “Last Hope Kitchen” onto YouTube.

Ten days later, after accusations of blasphemy, widespread criticism and numerous death threats, Tretan and fellow comedian Coki Pardede announced that they were resigning from comedy group Majelis Lucu Indonesia and the Indonesian entertainment scene in general.

The video was meant to be funny. Some Muslims, however, failed to get the joke and were more insulted than amused.

In the video, Tretan, a Muslim, teamed up with Coki, a Christian, to cook pork with date syrup and honey at the series’ usual setting of a building rooftop at night.

Tretan joked that he could hear the pork saying “Hell, hell, the fires of hell!” and the two speculated about whether adding dates, which Muslims are encouraged to consume when breaking the fast, would reduce the haram level of the pork, or turn pork tapeworms to mualaf (converts to Islam).

The pair later remarked that they perhaps should have also gotten some Zamzam water, which is considered holy in Islam, to add to the dish as well.

The video went viral after popular preacher Derry Sulaiman posted a short clip of it on his Instagram account with a message condemning the two comics and implying that the video was “blasphemous” and “insulted Islam.”

Tretan and Coki, who eventually apologized for the video, escaped blasphemy charges, but they learned the hard way that joking about religion in Indonesia today is no trifling matter.

Read also: Muslim, Christian comedians get death threats over video about cooking pork

Indonesia’s blasphemy law was introduced in 1965, but was only used to prosecute around 10 people between 1965 and 1998.

Since the Reform era, on the other hand, over 100 people have been convicted under the law, with 17 imprisoned in 2017 and 2018 alone, including former Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, according to data from Amnesty International.

Tretan and Coki joined eccentric Islamic preacher Gus Miftah and former magician Deddy Corbuzier in a video uploaded to Deddy’s YouTube channel on Monday, to further explain the thinking behind the pork video.

“We did not mean [to insult religion], but rather show that we can still make fun of each other in a tolerant way,” Coki said.

Gus Miftah, who came under the spotlight in September because of a sermon he gave at a Bali nightclub, said that while Tretan and Coki may have been looking to satirize how some people overly revere religious symbols, their audience may have not understood that.

“Because the context is Indonesia, and Indonesia is a Muslim-majority country, such a message will always result in problems,” he said. “So even if your opinion was not wrong, maybe the place was wrong.”

University of Indonesia (UI) communications expert Devie Rahmawati agreed that context was important, saying the rise of the internet was a factor in the apparent increase in “societal friction” on the matter.

“If I make a joke to my friends about their race or religion, they might find it funny, but if that joke reaches a larger audience that does not have an emotional connection with me, they might be offended.”

Social media, however, is not the only factor. Stand-up comic Iyam Renzia said he felt that audiences had become increasingly sensitive to topics such as religion and race, and therefore, he rarely made religion-related jokes in highly-publicized settings.

“I’m careful about when and where I make the jokes; I look at the location and the situation first,” he said, adding that at the off-air charity stand-up show for the victims of the Central Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami, “The audience members were asked not to record the show so I felt safe in making the jokes.”

When he did make religious jokes, he said he made sure to stick to topics on which there was a general consensus.

“For example, I once made a joke about how NU [Nahdlatul Ulama] and Muhammadiyah followers used to argue about whether they should perform the qunut [supplication] during dawn prayer,” he said. “The punchline was: Now they don’t argue anymore because no one performs dawn prayers.”

Hijab-wearing comedian Sakdiyah Maruf, who often uses religion-related material in her stand-up act, including jokes about terrorism, gender roles within Islam and her Arabic descent, said she used that material because religious practices and religious people had many flaws that were good targets for “introspection through comedy”.

“There are so many things that are interesting to observe, for example how many people are quicker to believe sermons that are spread through WhatsApp groups over more authoritative books or clerics,” she said. “That’s funny!”

She said that for her, the difference between religious comedy and blasphemy was the target of the jokes.

Full report at:






Opp senators put govt on the mat over Labbaik deal

Nov 7, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Senators belonging to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on Tuesday criticised the government for “surrendering” to religious activists protesting against the Supreme Court’s acquittal of Aasia Bibi in the blasphemy case against her.

Before the debate formally began in the Upper House, Minister of Information Technology Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui filed a motion to withdraw proposed amendments to the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act on behalf of the government, which was approved by the House. The minister argued that the bill had been authored on the directives of deposed Islamabad High Court judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui and it was therefore proper that the government re-examine it.

Right after, the opposition pushed for a debate on the nationwide protests launched by the hardline Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).

Taking the floor of the House, PPP’s parliamentary leader Sherry Rehman said we do not want the state and constitution to be sullied like this.

“The entire nation was at a standstill for three days. If we start to examine [what happened], they [the government] will say ‘This was also done before; the state entered a similar agreement last year as well,” she continued. “[But] what happened this time is a grave tragedy. We are not here to taunt and challenge the government — enough of that was done on the streets for [those] three days.

“[But] Our army chief was called out by name. The judiciary, the state and the army were dragged [into the mess]: what kind of message is being sent with these actions?” she asked.

“The government was all talk and no action. This was the first time we’ve heard the state challenged like this. How can this challenge be ignored?”

“We will not politic on this: the PPP has always toed the patriotic line in times like these. [However,] we will demand that the state provide protection to everyone.

“The state ought to protect the judges. Whether they give right decisions or wrong ones, the state should be behind them. Those who are openly rebelling against the law and constitution should be dealt with. This is a trying time for Pakistan: the government should not try to bypass parliament,” she said, also seeking answers from the government over loans secured from foreign governments and foreign policy.

“The parliament was not taken into confidence on [foreign] loans,” she said. “We have also promised to mediate the Yemen-Saudi Arabia dispute: on what terms will this mediation be done? We should tackle our own wars first,” she said.

After Sherry, PPP’s Senator Raza Rabbani took the floor, regretting that the country was shut down for three days and constitutional institutions were attacked.

He said the Senate ought to address a matter of this nature but his demand was ignored, prompting him to register a protest.

“If parliament itself cannot address a challenge to the [supremacy of the] Constitution, who will?” he asked. “It is incumbent upon us to defend the Constitution.”

Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) criticised the Supreme Court for a judgement that he described as “the murder of justice”.

“[Tell us], did America or the west interfere [in the judicial process]? What took the Supreme Court so long to decide the case,” he said.

“The chief justice claims to love the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and then lets the person who insulted him go,” he said.

His remarks were swiftly expunged by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani.

“There can be no debate over the conduct of judges,” he said. “All personal remarks against judges and their judgements should be expunged from the day’s proceedings,” he ruled.

Senator Tahir Bizenjo said that action should be taken against those who challenged the writ of the state. He said that curbing extremism is vital to take the country forward on the path of peace and stability.

Muhammad Sabir Shah said that the champions of human rights should take notice of the blasphemous material being published in Europe. He suggested that blasphemy should be criminalised at an international level.

Regretting the line taken by the opposition, Minister for Communication Murad Saeed said: “I had come here expecting some good suggestions to come out of this debate.”

“The constitution accords the right to peaceful protest to every citizen,” he noted. “Every party had said we do not want a repeat of Lal Masjid or the Model Town tragedy,” he reminded the opposition parties, addressing criticism of the government not having done enough to address the protests.

Responding to the points of the opposition on the current economic situation, the minister said that the previous governments are responsible for the current mess. He said that the previous governments destroyed all institutions including Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Pakistan Railways and Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA).

“Today, the circular debt has soared to twelve hundred billion rupees,” he said while adding that corrupt elements will be behind bars soon.

On the Saudi economic package, the minister said that Saudi Arabia has always supported Pakistan in difficult times. He said that relations with Saudi Arabia and China have further improved under the current democratic set up.

“The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project will be made a successful model and its timely completion will be ensured by the government,” he stated.

Senator Asad Ali Junejo criticised the government’s economic policy, terming it responsible for the recent price hikes. He said that the government should take the opposition parties on board in matters pertaining to economy and foreign policy.

Moreover, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution expressing grief and sorrow over the assassination of the prominent religious scholar and former Senator, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Sami (JUI-S) Chief Maulana Samiul Haq. The house offered fateha for his departed soul and also for the security officers martyred in recent acts of terrorism.




TLP chief visits families of workers killed during sit-in

November 07, 2018

KARACHI: Chief of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan Khadim Hussain Rizvi arrived in the city on Tuesday and visited the families of two workers of his party who were killed during last week’s sit-in in New Karachi.

A statement issued by the TLP said that Mr Rizvi also visited a hospital on Stadium Road where workers injured in the incident were being treated.

The statement said that in the evening he held a meeting with a well-known cleric and chief of the Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee, Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman, at his residence.

“The two clerics discussed issues of mutual interest and shared thoughts about recent challenges being faced by the Muslims world,” said the statement, adding that Mr Rizvi announced that Iqbal Day would be observed on Nov 9 across the country. The TLP would organise several activities to highlight the message of Allama Iqbal.




TLP claims crackdown halted, workers released

November 07, 2018

LAHORE: After the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) threatened to restart its movement, the Punjab government, in a late night meeting, assured the party that it would not only stop arresting workers but start releasing already arrested ones, says TLP spokesman Peer Zubair Ahmed.

The Punjab government, however, says it was more of a “follow-up meeting” and that the authorities were very clear about whom they were arresting.

Talking to Dawn, the TLP spokesman said the party had allowed the Punjab government to arrest miscreants because they did not belong to the Tehreek.

“The TLP never allowed any kind of violence. However, in the garb of arresting miscreants, the Punjab government started arresting its workers,” he explains.

The arrests, he said, were in total violation of the agreement signed by the federal and Punjab governments on Friday night, leaving the TLP with no choice but to issue a call for protest and blockages and it was about to do so when the Punjab government invited them to a marathon meeting, lasting around four hours.

He said Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Raja Muhammad Basharat and Additional Inspector General (police) Azhar Hameed represented the government.

According to the government side, says Zubair, it had already stopped arresting people since Monday afternoon and it was ready to release all of them, along with those arrested during the three-day protest within next 24 hours.

“As per fresh agreement, the Punjab government was supposed to release all of them by Tuesday evening. We are in the process of collecting information how many of them have been released so far. According to information from Sheikhupura, 90 workers, out of total 110 arrested, have already been released. Once we collect information from the entire province, we would return to the government to release them all, if anyone is still left,” he said.

According to the TLP information, children of eight to 10 years old were arrested in Lahore. In certain cases, houses were ransacked and women folk insulted.

“In view of the situation, the TLP was readying for fresh call when the Punjab government jumped in to preempt the situation and refreshed its commitment to the original agreement and promised to stick to it in letter and spirit. The party is waiting for the government to fulfill its promise.”

Confirming the meeting, Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan said it was more of a “follow-up meeting,” after the Friday agreement between the TLP and the government.

“The Punjab government is very clear about whom it was arresting and whom it was not. It has only been arresting the people it has some kind of evidence with it — television or mobile clips or any other kind of solid evidence.”

Full report at:




Pakistan to maintain strategic balance with India, says NCA Adviser

November 07, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the National Command Authority (NCA) retired Lt Gen Khalid Kidwai on Tuesday said Pakistan would not follow India’s suit in developing a defence system against ballistic missiles because it found little value in such systems, but would continue to seek to redress the imbalances caused by Indian moves.

“Pakistan remains unfazed and as before, we have adequate response options which will disallow any disturbance of the strategic balance or strategic stability. That fundamental policy will prevail,” Gen Kidwai told a conference on ‘Nuclear Deterrence and Strategic Stability in South Asia’ hosted by the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI).

He was speaking in the context of India-Russia deal for S-400 missile systems. India had been working on the development of a multi-layer ballistic missile defence system for over a decade now. Besides the S-400 deal, India has large-scale cooperation with Israel for BMD development.

“Much hype has been created around this particular technology induction and some have gone to the extent of calling it a game changer for South Asia,” he said, adding that this was wrong.

“The history of our strategic force development clearly indicates that Pakistan has never allowed this (strategic) balance to be disturbed to our disadvantage; we have always found effective solutions to redress induced imbalances from time to time,” Gen Kidwai said.

He said Pakistan had already possessed “cost-effective solutions” to take care of India’s BMD in the shape of MIRV capability and four categories of cruise missiles. He said India’s BMD only had symbolic value and “Pakis­tan’s answer [to it] is available today”.

The NCA adviser said Pakistan had long ago taken “conscious decision” of not developing an anti-ballistic missile system because of reasons that remain valid even today.

He maintained that Pakistan’s response to India’s nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant too could be found in Full Spectrum Deterrence which implied possession of a full array of strategic, tactical and operational weapons, having appropriate weapons yield, coverage and numbers, and liberty to choose targets.

SVI president Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema said India was looking for space for fighting a limited war with Pakistan, whereas the latter was trying to deprive the former of that opportunity by coming up with responses like tactical deterrence. “This is our contribution to peace,” he added.

Full report at:




CJP Nisar takes notice of vandalism during TLP protests

Nov 7, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Tuesday took notice of vandalism during the protests called by Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) after Aasiya Bibi’s acquittal in a blasphemy case by the Supreme Court (SC).

He also directed the federal and the provincial governments to submit a report on the destruction of public and private property during the protests.

According to a spokesperson of the top court, CJP Nisar sought a report about the damages in order to compensate those who suffered the loss of valuables and lives.

Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan was presented with a report regarding action being taken against individuals involved in the TLP protests.

According to the report, cases have been registered against as many as 5,000 violent protesters and all resources are being mobilised, and the federal government will also contact the provincial governments, defence ministry and other state institutions for their help in the matter.

PM Khan was also informed that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is taking action against those engaged in cybercrime. Pictures and videos are also being used to aid the investigation against the miscreants.

TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi’s Twitter account was blocked on Sunday.

The interior ministry on Monday released photographs of several individuals who damaged public property as a crackdown continues against those involved in rioting during a nationwide protest last week.

Full report at:




Prime Minister Imran Khan briefed on TLP’s sit-ins, arrests   

NOVEMBER 6, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Interior Ministry on Tuesday has comprehensively briefed the Prime Minister Imran Khan about the criminal proceedings, crackdown on vandalism and violence activities during the three-day-sit-ins of Tehreek-e-Labbike Pakistan (TLP)

The report has been submitted to the Prime Minister Imran Khan after his return from his official visit to China.

The Interior Ministry In its report stated that federal government is in constant contact with all provincial governments whereas all resources have been utilized to snitch troublemakers who disrupted peace and destroyed public and private properties.

The reported stated that as many as 1800 rioters have been apprehended by the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) across country. An action was also underway in Lahore where eight miscreants have been remanded in police custody for 14 days.

On the other hand, the TLP on Tuesday threatened that religiopolitical party would once again resort to street agitation within two days if authorities don’t halt apprehension of its workers.

Full report at:




Pakistan-US ties renewal under way, says Qureshi

November 07, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Tuesday that the renewal of Pakistan-US ties was under way and that the two countries would be increasing their engagement in the coming days.

“There are indications of opening up. We must remember that the bilateral ties had come to an impasse,” he told journalists at the Foreign Office.

The foreign minister was responding to questions about the visit of Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells.

Ms Wells met Finance Minister Asad Umar and held delegation-level talks at the Foreign Office, which were also attended by officials from the ministries of interior and defence.

Mr Qureshi said the inter-ministerial session at the FO went well and Ms Wells informed the Pakistani side that senior US officials would be visiting Pakistan for talks on promoting trade and energy cooperation.

The foreign minister said that although Afghanistan still remained a major issue, the focus was gradually returning to bilateral aspects of the relationship. He said Ms Wells did discuss the Afghan reconciliation efforts and told the Pakistani side that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had constituted an advisory council to reach out to the Taliban.

The FO, meanwhile, in a statement said that the two sides during the meeting took stock of the understanding reached between Foreign Minister Qureshi and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to rebuild the relationship based on mutual trust and respect. The Pakistani side, it said, emphasised the need to diversify the relationship with particular focus on enhanced economic and trade cooperation and people to people contacts.

Full report at:




Italy says it will help Aasia leave Pakistan

November 07, 2018

ROME: Italy said on Tuesday it would help a Pakistani Christian woman, Aasia Bibi, leave her country because her life was in danger following charges of blasphemy that put her on death row for eight years.

The Supreme Court had acquitted Aasia Bibi last month, but the decision sparked mass protests and her husband, Ashiq Masih, says they could be killed by those opposing her acquittal. Authorities have indicated they may bar Aasia from travelling abroad.

“I want women and children whose lives are at risk to be able to have a secure future, in our country or in other Western countries, so I will do everything humanly possible to guarantee that [for Aasia],” Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said. “It is not permissible that in 2018 someone can risk losing their life for a ... hypothesis of blasphemy,” said Salvini, who is also interior minister.

Italy is working discreetly on the case with other countries, he told an Italian radio station.

Earlier, the international Catholic agency Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) quoted Ashiq Masih as saying in a telephone call: “I appeal to the Italian government to help me and my family leave Pakistan. We are extremely worried because our lives are in danger. We don’t even have enough to eat because we can’t go out to buy food.”

In the interview with the radio station, Salvini was asked to respond to Aasia’s husband’s appeal.

Aasia’s case has prompted groups such as ACN, which has close ties to the Vatican, to demand protection for Christians in countries where they are a minority.

Soon after the Supreme Court verdict, the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) blocked roads in major cities of the country for three days, condemning the judges who acquitted Aasia Bibi, Prime Minister Imran Khan and the army chief.

The TLP called off the protests after striking a deal with the government that could bar Aasia from leaving the country and open a review of the judgement.

Aasia’s lawyer Saiful Mulook fled to the Netherlands because of fears for his safety.

Two prominent Pakistani politicians who spoke out in Aasia’s defence were assassinated in 2011.

Deputy Prime Minister Salvini said Italy had nothing against the Pakistani government. “The enemy is violence, extremism and fanaticism,” he added.

Ashiq Masih and one of the couple’s two daughters met Pope Francis at the Vatican in February and participated in a demonstration organised by the ACN in which Rome’s Coliseum was lit in red to bring attention to the woman’s plight.

Full report at:




Activist’s name put on ECL on ISI’s suggestion, govt tells IHC

November 07, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Interior on Tuesday informed the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that the name of human rights activist Gulalai Ismail had been placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) on the recommendation of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

A deputy attorney general representing the federal government told the court that the spy agency recommended putting Ms Ismail’s name on the ECL for her alleged anti-state activities abroad.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Ms Ismail seeking removal of her name from the ECL.

During the hearing, Ms Ismail’s counsel argued that even though she was not named in the first information report (FIR) registered against some other Pakhtun activists she was apprehended upon her arrival from the United Kingdom.

The judge remarked that this fact could be ascertained after examining the relevant record.

In her petition, Ms Ismail sought retrieval of her passport and travel documents which the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had confiscated upon her arrival in Pakistan on Oct 12 when she was also briefly detained at the FIA’s office in Sector G-13 of Islamabad.

According to the petition, Ms Ismail is the chairperson of non-governmental organisation “Aware Girls”. She has received national and international acclaim for her work for empowering women in Pakistan.

The petition said that the FIA on Oct 12 detained her upon her return from the UK in connection with her alleged association with the Pakhtun Tahaffuz Move­ment and for allegedly “delivering anti-state speeches”.

The petitioner, however, claimed that she was a patriotic woman and never indulged in anti-state activities.

Full report at:




Pakistan’s progress lies in peace and rule of law: NSC

NOVEMBER 7, 2018

A meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday reiterated that progress and prosperity of Pakistan lies in peace, stability and rule of law.

The meeting reviewed security situation of the country. The prime minister also apprised the participants of his recent visit to China.

The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, State Minister for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and senior officials.

Full report at:




Pakistan, US agree to promote regional peace and stability

NOVEMBER 7, 2018

Senior US diplomat Alice Wells on Tuesday held discussions with senior officials of the Foreign Office and reviewed progress on bilateral relations.

Wells, the US principal deputy assistant secretary of state for south and central Asia, was led the American delegation while the Pakistani side was headed by FO Additional Secretary Aftab Khokher.

“The meeting took stock of the understanding reached between Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Secretary Mike Pompeo to rebuild the relationship based on mutual trust and respect,” FO spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal said in a statement.

Pakistan during the meeting stressed the need to increase commercial and economic cooperation and people-to-people contacts in order to diversity bilateral US-Pakistan relations, the handout said.

The evolving regional situation and peace and stability in Afghanistan were also discussed during the meeting.

“The US delegation appreciated the need to strengthen the bilateral relationship with Pakistan which is an important country of the region,” the statement revealed.

The two sides agreed to continue efforts to promote the shared objectives of peace and stability in the region and to diversify their bilateral relationship.

During a separate meeting with Finance Minister Asad Umar, the present state of Pakistan-US ties – with an emphasis on economic cooperation – and the overall security situation in the region came under discussion, a Ministry of Finance statement said.

“Matters pertaining to international cooperation to curb terror financing were also discussed,” the statement said.

The finance minister was quoted as saying during the meeting that Pakistan had made strides in the war against terrorism in recent years and “it will continue to take all possible steps to root out terror financing and money laundering”.

Umar shared the government’s vision to reform the country’s economy with the diplomat, who informed the minister about the US efforts for regional security.

The finance minister said “such visits contribute to enhancing understanding of each other’s point of view on issues of bilateral significance”.

Ambassador Wells had arrived in Pakistan earlier in the day on a one-day visit. The government had announced that Wells would discuss “Pakistan-US ties, regional situation and Afghan peace process”.

Full report at:




South Asia


1971 war crimes: tribunal sentences Liakat, Aminul to death


The International Crimes Tribunal has sentenced fugitives Md Liakat Ali from Habiganj and Aminul Islam alias Rajab from Kishoreganj to death for crimes against humanity, including murder and genocide during the 1971 Liberation War.

A three-member bench led by Justice Shahinur Islam declared the verdict in the war crimes case on Monday.

According to the prosecution, Liakat was an activist of the Muslim League prior to 1971 while Aminul was a member of its student organisation.

Liakat was a former president of the Lakhai wing of Awami League from 2003 to 2013. He was accused of war crimes in 2010.

“The trials of accused Liakat Ali and Aminul Islam began on Nov 1, 2016 after the tribunal pressed charges against them in 2015. The court began to take testimonies on Dec 4,” Public Prosecutor Rezia Sultana told bdnews24.com.

The court said in its decision that the prosecution had proved all seven allegations against the accused. The court then ordered them to be hung by the neck until dead.

The suspects will be able to appeal the decision with the Supreme Court within a month, but will have to turn themselves in to do so.

Of the 85 suspects in the 35 cases brought before the International Crimes Tribunal thus far, five have died outside of custody. A total of 80 have been convicted, while 53 received death sentences for war crimes.

According to the probe report, both accused committed several crimes in Lakhai Upazila in Habiganj, Nasirnagar Upazila in Brahmanbaria and Austagram Upazila in Kishoreganj during the Liberation War.

The tribunal had issued arrest warrants for two of them on May 18, 2016. A notice was also published in newspaper as the accused could not be arrested. Finally, the court decided to continue the trials in their absence.

Liakat and Rajab, supported by Pakistani soldiers, committed mass killings and looting in Krishnapur village under Lakhai Upazila in Habiganj on Sept 18, 1971.

Forty-three persons from the Hindu community were shot dead during their raid, according to charges cited by the prosecutors.


According to the prosecution, Liakat was a student of Brahmanbaria College in 1971. As a member of the anti-liberation Muslim League, he joined the Pakistani militia Razakar and led it in Fandauk union.

He had gone into a hiding after independence. He joined the Awami League after he resurfaced and subsequently became the president of the party’s Lakhai Upazila unit.

Rajab Ali, hailing from Alinagar village in Austagram, became the president of the Bhairab Haji Asmat Ali College unit of the Islami Chhatra Sangha in 1970.

According to the prosecution, Rajab received arms training at the Pakistani Army camp in Bhairab and later formed the local unit of Al-Badr militia once he returned to his neighbourhood.

It is reported that freedom fighters caught Rajab after independence and he was jailed for life in three cases filed under the Collaborators Act 1972.

Freed in 1981, Rajab authored a book on Al-Badr Bolchhi.

The prosecution pointed that Rajab’s statements in the book proved the war crime charges against him.




Bangladesh Police Say Top Islamic Extremist, Khorshed Alam, Shot Dead

Nov 6, 2018

DHAKA: Bangladesh police said Tuesday they had killed the chief of Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), an extremist group accused of murdering secular activists and inspiring a cafe siege that killed 22 people.

Khorshed Alam, described as the "emir" of Bangladesh's deadliest Islamist outfit, was gunned down early Tuesday morning in the northern town of Shibganj, police spokesman Sonaton Chokraborty said.

"He died before we could bring him to hospital," Chokraborty told AFP of the 38-year-old militant.

Police say Alam emerged after JMB's old guard was weakened by the execution of its former commander Shaikh Abdur Rahman, and five other top chiefs, in March 2007.

He is accused of masterminding a number of attacks across Muslim-majority Bangladesh, including most recently the murder of atheist writer and publisher Shahzahan Bachchu in the central district of Munshiganj in June.

He also spearheaded a daring ambush on a prison van in 2014 that allowed two senior JMB foot soldiers to escape, police said.

In recent years, a splinter faction inspired by JMB's earlier leadership grabbed headlines after five of its young members stormed an upmarket Dhaka cafe in July 2016 and murdered 22 people, including 18 foreigners.

Bangladesh police launched a massive crackdown on extremists since the cafe siege, killing more than 80 suspected Islamists and arresting hundreds more.

They included the alleged commanders of the new JMB faction.

JMB was founded by Bangladeshi radicals hardened from fighting in the Afghan civil war during the 1990s.

Full report at:




Taliban kill 20 Afghan troops in attack on post near Iran border

November 07, 2018

KABUL: Taliban militants attacked a border outpost in western Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing 20 Afghan soldiers in the latest assault likely to compound fears that security forces are facing an unsustainable casualty toll.

Sparsely-populated Farah, on the border with Iran, has seen months of heavy fighting, with hundreds of policemen and soldiers killed. The Taliban threatened to seize the provincial capital in May.

In the latest violence in the province, the insurgents assaulted the border post manned by about 50 Afghan soldiers before dawn, officials in the area said.

At least 20 soldiers were known to have been killed, several wounded and the others were missing, said a senior military officer who declined to be identified as he is not authorised to speak to media.

“Hours after the attack, we lost contact with the base and we still do not know whereabouts of the remaining soldiers,” the officer said.

The Taliban, fighting to oust foreign forces and overthrow the Kabul government, claimed responsibility saying they had captured the base, killed 30 soldiers and seized weapons and ammunition.

Some officials in Farah have accused Iran, which the United States says is trying to extend its influence in western Afghanistan, of providing the insurgents with money and weapons. Iran denies the allegation.

The attack underlined the struggle Afghan security forces face in confronting the insurgents, who have steadily extended their control in the countryside, even though the government holds all provincial centres.

On Monday, the militants captured an important security post outside the central city of Ghazni, killing 13 members of government forces and underscoring their vulnerability even in areas where defences have been bolstered.

More than 17 years after US-led forces toppled the Taliban regime, Afghan forces are dying in record numbers with Afghan and US officials warning that the casualty rate is not sustainable.

In September alone, more than 500 Afghan soldiers were killed and hundreds wounded, the Defence Ministry said.

Tentative steps towards peace talks between the Taliban and the United States have had no impact on the level of attacks.

Full report at:




Taliban to attend Moscow meeting on Afghan peace: spokesman

Tahir Khan

NOVEMBER 7, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Afghan Taliban on Tuesday said their political representatives would attend the upcoming meeting of the representatives of regional countries in Russia on peace in Afghanistan on November 9.

“Taliban political envoys will attend the meeting but the participation does not mean they will hold talks with anyone. This is a meeting to debate the current situation in Afghanistan,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.

“The meeting will discuss the end of American invasion, identify problems and deliberate on regional peace,” Mujahid said in a brief statement.

Taliban political sources said Sher Abbas Stanekzai, head of the Taliban Qatar office, would lead the delegation.

The Russian Foreign Ministry had sent invitations for the event to Afghanistan, India, Iran, China, Pakistan, the US and some other countries, TASS news agency reported.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had also decided to send a delegation of the High Peace Council to the meeting.

The Moscow-format consultations were earlier scheduled for September 4, but were postponed after Afghan government refused to attend on the plea that all meetings on Afghanistan should be Afghan-led. The US had also announced to stay away from the September meeting.

Diplomatic sources said Russia had extended invitation to US Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zamaly Khalizad to attend the meeting.

Taliban participation in the Moscow-format consultations is important as they will be viewed as a political entity in a very important meeting being attended by at least 11 countries. Taliban participation will also provide an opportunity for the Afghan peace council’s members to interact with them informally.

Diplomatic sources told Daily Times on Sunday that there was no specific agenda and all participants would be requested to share their views about political solution to the Afghan conflict.

Additional Secretary at the Foreign Office Muhammad Aejaz will lead Pakistani delegation, sources said.

Pakistan has long been insisting that it will take part in all events, which can help bring peace in Afghanistan and is joining the Moscow-format consultations as part of the same strategy.

Russia launched the Moscow-format consultations in 2017 as part of its diplomatic efforts to press for political solution to the Afghan problem.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova said on October 25 that the main objective of these contacts was to ensure the safety of Russian nationals in Afghanistan and contribute to the national reconciliation process.

She also rejected claim by the US that Russia was providing support to the Taliban, adding that the US and some other nations also have ‘regular contacts’ with the Taliban. The Moscow-format meeting has assumed importance as it takes place at a time when the Taliban and the US officials have already held two meetings in Qatar. The Russian initiative could evolve a regional consensus on the political solution to the problem.

Full report at:




UN official urges Bangladesh to halt Rohingya returns


By Can Erozden

A UN human rights official has implored Bangladesh to shelve its plans to start the repatriation of Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar this month, fearing they may face violence or abuse.

"I have not seen any evidence of the Government of Myanmar taking concrete and visible measures to create an environment where the Rohingya can return to their place of origin and live there safely with their fundamental rights guaranteed," Yanghee Lee, the special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, said in a statement on the UN website on Tuesday.

Lee said she fears the Rohingya may face suffering, violence, or abuse as Myanmar has failed to take any tangible measures for the Rohingya's return to the border state of Rakhine in November.

"Not only did the Rohingya face horrific violence at the hands of security forces in 2016 and 2017 with no accountability, they have been subjected to decades-long systematic discrimination and persecution in Myanmar," Lee said, urging both Bangladesh and Myanmar to call off the repatriation.

"I urge the Governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar to halt these rushed plans for repatriation, to ensure the protection of the Rohingya refugees and to adhere to their international human rights and refugee law obligations to ensure any returns are safe, sustainable, voluntary and dignified," she added.

Persecution of Rohingya

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

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.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly children, and women, fled Myanmar and crossed into neighboring Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

Full report at:




Civilians among 6 dead, wounded in a clash between Taliban factions in Nangarhar

Nov 07 2018

A clash broke out between two fictions of the Taliban group in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, leaving at least six dead or wounded, including civilians.

The 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan Military in the East in a statement said the incident has taken place in the vicinity of Ghani Khel district.

The statement further added that the militants of the main Taliban group clashed with the militants of Tehrik-e-Taliban in 28th Canal of joi Village, leaving two dead, including two civilians.

According to 201st Silab Corps, at least two militants affiliated with the main Taliban group were also wounded during the clash.

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

Full report at:




NATO SG calls on Taliban to stop killing fellow Afghans and join peace talks

Nov 06 2018

The NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on Taliban and other insurgent groups to stop killing their fellow Afghans and participate in peace talks, emphasizing that the potential for peace is greater now than it has been before.

He made the remarks during a press conference with President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in Kabul today.

“I call on the Taliban and other insurgents to stop killing their fellow Afghans. The Taliban must understand that continuing the fight is pointless and counterproductive,” the NATO Secretary Genreal said, adding that “They must sit down at the negotiating table.”

Stoltenberg further added “The potential for peace is greater now than it has been in many years. So we need an Afghan-owned and led peace process. And it must be inclusive.”

He also called on regional countries to play a constructive role in Afghanistan and ‘deny safe haven to extremist groups’.

Full report at:




435 civilians killed, wounded during the parliamentary elections in Afghanistan

Nov 06 2018

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released its latest report regarding the casualties inflicted on civilians during the two days of parliamentary elections on 20th and 21st of October.

According to UNAMA, the mission has recorded 435 civilian casualties during the two days of elections, including 56 people who were killed and 379 who were wounded.

The report by UNAMA revealed the majority of the casualties were inflicted during the first day of elections, on October 20th, during which 52 deaths and 339 injuries were reported.

This is the highest level of civilian harm compared to the four previous elections held in Afghanistan, UNAMA said, adding that the level of civilian harm linked to parliamentary elections is particularly high compared to previous election cycles when factoring into account the deaths and injuries resulting from electoral-related violence experienced over the preceding months during the voter registration and campaigning periods.

The report documents grave concerns over the numerous attacks by Anti-Government Elements, mainly Taliban, directed at civilian objects and populated civilian areas during the elections, including attacks against schools used as polling centres.

According to UNAMA, these attacks were mainly carried out using indirect-fire systems such as rockets, grenades and mortars, as well as improvised explosive devices (IEDs), all of which have indiscriminate effects.

Full report at:




Facebook used to incite violence in Myanmar: Report

Nov 6, 2018

Facebook has admitted that its social media platform did not do enough to prevent incitement of violence and hate speech in Myanmar amid ongoing violence against Rohingya Muslims in the Southeast Asian country.

The 62-page independent report from non-profit organization Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) found that in Myanmar “Facebook has become a means for those seeking to spread hate and cause harm, and posts have been linked to offline violence.”

The report added that Facebook had "created an enabling environment for the ongoing endorsement and proliferation of human rights abuse in Myanmar."

This had been done in various ways, including character assassinations, rumor-spreading, and hate speech against minority individuals, it added.

According to the report, a large proportion of this hate speech has been directed towards the Rohingya in Rakhine state.

Reacting to the report, Alex Warofka, Facebook's product policy manager, said in a statement that the company had been working on the issue but had "more to do."

The report comes against the backdrop of widespread violence against the Rohingya minority, which the United Nations has said may amount to genocide.

In April, the Guardian reported that hate speech on Facebook in Myanmar had exploded during the Rohingya crisis, which was caused by a crackdown by the military in Rahkine in August 2017.

The recent UN fact-finding mission to Myanmar specifically singled out the role of Facebook in fanning the flames of anti-Muslim sentiment and violence. In September, the UN published a report that criticized Facebook's "slow and ineffective" response to its platform's involvement in the situation.

Myanmar's government has faced international condemnation for failing to halt the brutal persecution of Rohingya Muslims by military forces and Buddhist extremists.

Last year, extremist Buddhist monks rushed to help Myanmar’s military, when it intensified its crackdown.

The campaign against the Rohingya, which the UN described as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing, has seen mass killings, torture, and gang rape of the Muslims as well as arson attacks against their homes and farms in Rakhine.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have been living for more than a year in cramped refugee camps in Cox's Bazar district in southeastern Bangladesh after fleeing violence in Rakhine at the hands of the Myanmar military.

Full report at:




Taliban attacks kill 8 police in western Farah province

November 07, 2018

KABUL, Afghanistan: An Afghan official says the Taliban have killed eight police and wounded three others in new attacks on security posts in western Farah province.

An insurgent attack on an Afghan border base in Pusht Koh in Farah on Monday killed 20 troops while 20 others were abducted.

A member of the provincial council, Dadullah Qani, says the latest attack on Tuesday night triggered an hourslong battle in which the Taliban were beaten back.

A resurgent Taliban now hold nearly half of Afghanistan and carry out near-daily attacks on Afghan security forces, inflicting heavy casualties. The Taliban view the US-backed government in Kabul as a dysfunctional Western puppet and have refused repeated offers to negotiate with it.






At least 16 Nigeria troops missing after Boko Haram attack


At least 16 Nigerian soldiers are missing following clashes with Boko Haram jihadists in the Lake Chad area, military and militia sources told AFP on Tuesday.

The Islamic State in West Africa (ISWAP) group, a faction of the Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for the attack in which it said 15 soldiers were killed, according to SITE, which tracks the online activities of terrorist organisations.

The incident began when gunmen in several trucks attacked a military base and a local market in the town of Kukawa late on Monday, briefly forcing troops out of the base.

"Our soldiers engaged the terrorists in a fierce battle following the attack," a military officer told AFP from Maiduguri, the regional capital which lies about 180km to the south.

"So far, 16 soldiers are missing but search teams are combing the general area to locate them," said the officer, speaking on condition of anonymity.

There were no immediate official reports of casualties on either side but a civilian militia group confirmed that 16 soldiers were missing and also said one civilian had been killed in the crossfire.

The attack came hours after Boko Haram jihadists attacked soldiers in Kumshe village near the border with Cameroon.

Last month two Nigerian soldiers were killed when troops on foot patrol stepped on a mine around Kumshe.

Boko Haram has intensified its attacks on military targets in the northeastern states of Borno and Yobe in recent months.

The nine-year jihadist conflict which has spilt into Niger, Cameroon and Chad, has killed 27,000 people and left some 1.8 million homeless in Nigeria alone.




Boko Haram: Nigerian Army, Customs join forces against insurgents in Northeast

November 6, 2018

By Maina Maina

The Nigerian Army has resolved to collaborate with the Nigeria Customs Service for optimal performance in its quest to ending the Boko Haram crises in the northeast, Nigeria.

The Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7 Division Brigadier General Abdulmalik Bulama Biu, disclosed this yesterday during an operational study tour of participants of senior course 2 of the Nigeria Customs’ Command and Staff College Gwagwalada Abuja, to Headquarters 7 Division Maimalari Cantonment Maiduguri.

He informed the team that the Division was the eye of the Army in the fight against insurgency in the North East, stressing that customs had a long-standing mutual working relationship with the Division and is committed to maintaining the ties.

General Biu noted the fight against insurgency was not the sole responsibility of one service alone since the war is multidimensional and dynamic in nature.

He, therefore, urged the participants to make use of the information provided during the study tour in the production of good research work that will enhance the optimal performance of personnel deployed within the theatre of operations.

Earlier, the leader of the delegation and Deputy Commandant Adewale Bashir Adeniyi stated that, the students’ tour of the Division is to afford them an understanding of the operational strategies applied by the Division in combating Boko Haram and the challenges associated with asymmetric warfare.

Full report at:




Six soldiers reportedly killed as Boko Haram attack military formation in Yobe

November 6, 2018

By Shehu Usman

Six soldiers were reported killed on Thursday last week by suspected Boko Haram insurgents at Azare village in Gujba Local Government Area of Yobe State, DAILY POST reports.

According to a reliable source who pleaded anonymity, the attack on the troops followed the arrest of three suspected Boko Haram terrorists who went to the village to charge their mobile phones by the troops of 27 Task Force Brigade stationed in the village.

“Three suspected insurgents came to Azare village to charge their cell phones and the dwellers informed the soldiers stationed in the village and they were arrested.

”Later in the day, the terrorists mobilized and attacked the troops thereby killing six soldiers and carted their rifles”. The source revealed.

The source noted that, troops and members of vigilante group quickly mobilized and trailed the attackers and succeeded in locating the terrorists’ camp, hence neutralized the inhabitants of the camp and destroyed their hideouts.

The incident has now led to a temporary closure of Buni-Yadi- Magza-Biu road.

However, when contacted via mobile phone, the spokesman of the 27 Task Force Brigade, Buni Yadi, Major Alimi has denied the report, saying that there was no attack on the troops.

He said, “There was nothing like an attack on the troops, maybe somebody is misleading you. As I am talking to you right now, I am in Buni Yadi.

“Had it being there was something like that, I would have confirmed to you,” Major Alimi added.

Full report at:




North America


Elimination of Islamic State 'covert' insurgency could take years, Pentagon IG says

November 5, 2018

The Islamic State may have lost the vast majority of physical territory it once held in Syria and Iraq, but fully defeating the terrorist group and rooting out sleeper cells that have spread across the Middle East and Africa could take years, the Defense Department’s inspector general said in a sweeping and at times critical review Monday that suggests final victory remains distant.

The report said that a “reduced, covert version” of the Islamic State — also known as ISIS — maintains a presence not just in Iraq and Syria but also in Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. Islamic State, the report concluded, has evolved “from a land-holding terrorist entity to an insurgency” that operates numerous clandestine cells around the world.

At a time when the Trump administration has sent mixed signals about the commitment of U.S. troops to the fights, “clearing terrorists from remote and largely ungoverned terrain is a low and difficult process, and eliminating ISIS from rural Iraq and Syria could take years,” the report says.

The Pentagon in recent months has put forward two separate narratives in describing the fight against Islamic State, which began in 2014 under President Obama. When the U.S.-led international operation began, Islamic State held vast swaths of territory across Iraq and Syria, controlled a “capital city” in Raqqa, Syria, and boasted a sizable fighting force.

Defense Department officials say Islamic State now has been “territorially defeated” and has lost nearly all of the land it once used as a base of operations.

But officials also have said that the transformation of the Islamic State into an underground terrorist group presents challenges of its own. The inspector general described the recapture of Islamic State-held territory — the result of a relentless U.S.-led bombing campaign and ground operations inside Iraq and Syria — as just one phase of the mission.

“There are significant challenges to developing capable and self-sufficient security forces in Iraq and Syria, and questions remain about the length of time it will take to train forces capable of preventing an ISIS resurgence,” the report says. “There are also significant challenges to U.S. efforts to address non-military issues, such as the promotion of democratic governance and civil society and the stabilization of liberated areas. These issues can also affect the ability of security forces to defeat Islamic State. Ongoing political uncertainty in Iraq and civil war in Syria also complicate efforts to confront an ISIS insurgency.”

In Iraq specifically, deep-rooted issues with the Iraqi Security Forces make it difficult to eradicate the pockets of Islamic State fighters that remain across the country, and will likely require a long-term Pentagon commitment. Islamic State fighters driven from Syria are increasingly finding sanctuary across the border in Iraq, the inspector general’s report said.

“The ISF continues to suffer from poor management of intelligence; corruption and … overlapping command arrangements with conflicting chains of command; micromanagement; and inefficient and inadequate systems for planning and transmitting orders,” the report said.

Islamic State still has an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 fighters, both foreign and local, scattered across the region. Even before the release of Monday’s report, top U.S. military officials stressed that it was far too early to declare the group dead and buried.

“Despite recent successes against ISIS and positive trends, we know there’s actually much work to be done,” Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last month. “ISIS is far from defeated and has a presence in countries from West Africa to Southeast Asia. Its ideology continues to inspire homegrown violent extremists in many of our countries.”




Palestinian envoy hopeful of Jair Bolsonaro embassy U-turn

November 6, 2018

The Palestinian envoy to Brazil said Monday he hoped president-elect Jair Bolsonaro's pledge to relocate Brasilia's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem was simply campaign talk and would lobby the new government against the move.

"Let's hope it's a campaign announcement. We are hoping that [the incoming government] will maintain Brazil's traditional position, respectful of the United Nations resolutions on the issue," Ibrahim Alzeben said.

The Palestinians consider the Israeli-annexed eastern part of Jerusalem the capital of their future state and have condemned the move from Tel Aviv as provocative, saying it would destabilise security in the region.

However Mr Alzeben – the Palestinian ambassador in Brazil since 2008 – dismissed as "premature" any notion of hardening the Palestinian tone with the incoming far-right government.

Mr Alzeben said from this week – when Mr Bolsonaro begins his transition to power – the Palestinian mission will intensify efforts to dissuade the new government from breaking with years of diplomatic tradition.

Mr Alzeben believes the decision can be reversed before Mr Bolsonaro is sworn in.

"We have two months for diplomacy to do its job," he said, adding that his side was in touch with Bolsonaro's team over what he considered a "very important issue."

"I doubt that the elected government does not want peace for that region," he added.

Mr Bolsonaro, who takes office on January 1, has yet to make the key announcement of who his foreign minister will be. But the former army captain announced the embassy relocation plan during his election campaign, following the lead of the United States. On Thursday Mr Bolsonaro tweeted that "as previously stated during our campaign, we intend to transfer the Brazilian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem."

"Israel is a sovereign state and we shall duly respect that," he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the move as "historic".

Brazil formally recognised the Palestinian state in 2010, during the term of leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Full report at:




Moment Pompeo was asked about differences between Saudi Arabia and Iran

6 November 2018

After accusing Iran of “destabilizing” behavior in Middle East, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, was asked about the difference between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Here is how Pompeo responded to the question: “Let me just go through the list. (Iran) underwriting Lebanese Hezbollah, which presents a threat to United States of America and Israel, underwriting the Houthis in Yemen, causing an enormous conflict to take place in that country, the efforts in Iraq to undermine the Iraqi government, funding the Shia militias that are not in the best interest of the Iraqi people, their efforts in Syria. The list goes on”.

Full report at:




Europe expresses regret at US anti-Iran sanctions

Nov 7, 2018

European powers have issued a joint statement expressing regret at the US decision to impose new sanctions against Iran. The statement also vowed to preserve and maintain effective financial channels with Iran, and the continuation of Iran’s export of oil and gas. Press TV’s Robert Carter reports.






Congress Fields Pro-Triple Talaq Leader, Faces Protest

Nov 7, 2018

Bhopal: Congress on Tuesday faced protests by its workers over nomination of executive member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) Arif Masood, who opposed ban on triple Talaq mooted by the Centre, for Bhopal Central Assembly constituency.

Mr Masood, a former Samajwadi Party leader, has figured in the third list of 13 candidates declared by Congress late on Monday night.

With this, the Congress has announced candidates for 184 out of total 230 Assembly constituencies in MP in three phases.

Party workers staged noisy demonstration in front of the state headquarters here on Tuesday in protest against Mr Masood’s nomination from Bhopal Central seat, calling him as a “parachute” candidate who joined Congress from SP.




2 Hizbul terrorists, including Army deserter killed in Shopian encounter

Nov 6, 2018

SRINAGAR: Two terrorists, including a former soldier of Indian Army, were killed in a gunfight with security forces at Safanagri in south Kashmir’s Shopian district early on Tuesday morning.

According to police, the gunfight broke out after a joint team of Army and SOG personnel launched a cordon-and-search operation at Safanagri following specific inputs about the presence of some militants there.

While the security forces were carrying out the search operation, terrorists hiding in the area opened fire. The forces retaliated, leading to an encounter, police said.

“Two militants were killed in the gunfight. They have been identified as Mohd Idrees Sultan alias Chota Abrar of Safanagri and Amir Hussain Rather alias Abu Sobaan of Awneera Shopian. They were affiliated to militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen and were involved in terror attacks on security establishments. They were also responsible for many civilian atrocities in the area. No collateral damage took place during the operation,” a police spokesman said.

According to the spokesman, Idrees was a former Army soldier. He had deserted J&K Light Infantry unit in Bihar in April this year and joined Hizbul.

Full report at:




Arab World


Saudis tampered with consulate’s CCTV security cameras after Khashoggi killing: Report

Nov 6, 2018

Staff at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul tried to dismantle closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) of the premises in an attempt to help cover up the gruesome murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the diplomatic mission last month, a report says.

According to a report published by Turkey’s pro-government Sabah newspaper on Tuesday, the staff tried to rip out the camera inside the diplomatic mission in Istanbul on October 2, the day Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate.

It added that Saudis also had tried to tamper with cameras at the police security booth outside the building.

Khashoggi, 59, an outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, disappeared after he entered the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city to complete some paperwork for his forthcoming marriage.

However, as diplomatic pressure grew tremendously on Riyadh to give an account on the mysterious fate of its national, in an unexpected statement last month, Saudi Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb admitted that Khashoggi had been killed in a “premeditated” attack in the consulate.

Saudi authorities have so far said that they do not know the whereabouts of the journo’s body, which is widely believed to be dismembered or dissolved in acid, or both.

Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor Irfan Fidan said last week that the ill-fated journalist had been strangled upon his arrival in the consulate, and then his body was dismembered and destroyed.

The remarks bolstered Turkish investigators’ line of thought that the remains could have been disposed of at the nearby consul general’s house, dissolved in acid or dumped in a well on the property.

The gruesome crime has already caused an international uproar against Saudi Arabia, prompted a number of member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday to grill Saudi delegation, led by Bandar al-Aiban, head of the Human Rights Commission of the Arab kingdom, over the murder.

Separately on Monday, Sabah published a report, saying that Saudis had sent a two-man “clean-up” team to Istanbul to remove any evidence of Khashoggi killing.

It identified the men as chemicals expert Ahmad Abdulaziz al-Janobi and toxicology expert Khaled Yahya al-Zahrani, tasked with erasing evidence before Turkish investigators were given access to the Saudi consulate and consul’s residence.

Later on Monday, a Turkish senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the report in a brief interview with Reuters.

Turkey to share more evidence with public

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reiterated that it was “obvious” that the so-called hit squad had been sent to Istanbul to murder Khashoggi.

Turkish authorities believe that a 15-person “hit squad” was sent from Saudi Arabia to Istanbul to kill the journo.

“We have to find out who gave these instructions. This is the simple question that we have put to the Saudis as well. We made it very public. It's an ongoing investigation,” Cavusoglu said, adding, “"Saudis proposed to have a joint working group and we accepted that but this working group should be a result-oriented one.”

He went on to say that Ankara had further evidence about the journo’s killing that it had yet to share with the public, adding that those details of the case would continue to be reported to the public until the probe was complete.

Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the order to slay Khashoggi had been issued from “the highest levels” of the Saudi government, while he stressed that he did “not believe for a second” that Saudi King Salman had ordered such a gruesome crime.

Turkish media have pointed the finger at the powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with analysts saying that the Turkish government is keen to have the ambitious heir sidelined from the nexus of power in the Arab kingdom.

However, the Turkish president has yet to directly accuse the young crown prince, who has already condemned the murder as “a repulsive incident.”




King Salman embarks on domestic tour amid Khashoggi crisis

November 07, 2018

RIYADH: Saudi King Salman embarked on an unprecedented domestic tour on Tuesday, an official said, as the country grapples with an international crisis over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The 82-year-old monarch arrived in the central province of Qassim, an official close to his entourage told AFP, as he started what Saudi media said was a tour of “several regions” in the kingdom.

The king was also set to visit the northern region of Hail, in his first such tour since he ascended to the most powerful throne in the Middle East in 2015, the pro-government Sabq newspaper reported.

In Qassim, the king would launch health, education and infrastructure projects as well as check on “the conditions of citizens and get acquainted with their needs”, Saudi Gazette newspaper said.

The tour comes as Saudi Arabia faces growing international outrage over Khashoggi’s murder on Oct 2 in its consulate in Istanbul. It is widely seen as the worst diplomatic crisis facing the kingdom since the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Saudi rulers appear to be shoring up support domestically, including within the royal family, following the crisis.

King Salman last month ordered the resumption of annual bonus payments to all government workers from the beginning of next year. The bonuses had been suspended under austerity measures in 2016 amid low oil prices.

Full report at:




Syrian Army Pre-empts Terrorist Groups' Offensives in Northern Hama

Nov 06, 2018

The army's artillery units targeted the movements of a terrorist group South of the village of al-Zakat and repelled their attack on the government forces' positions in the village of Shilout in Marhadah region in Northern Hama.

A number of terrorists were killed or wounded in the artillery attack and the remaining pockets of the terrorists retreated from the region.

In the meantime, other units of the army targeted terrorists' movements in the village of Tal al-Sakhar, preventing them from prevailing over government forces' positions in Northern Hama.

Also, other artillery units shelled terrorists' movements in the village of Khirbet al-Naqous in Northwestern Hama, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.

The terrorists have still deployed in demilitarized zone in spite of Turkey's attempts to expel them.

On Saturday, terrorist groups sent more military hardware to Southeastern Idlib in defiance of the terms of the Sochi Agreement that calls for a demilitarized zone.

Terrorist groups dispatched more arms and ammunition to Skeik, al-Taah and Jarjanaz in Southeastern Idlib to boost their defense-combat capabilities.

The terrorists' move came after their attack on the Syrian Army near Abu al-Dhohour that caused the army's artillery units to shell terrorists' positions in the region.

In the meantime, a filed commander said that the terrorists' attacks on the army prove that Turkey has failed to expel terrorists from the demilitarized zone.

Full report at:




Tens of Terrorists, White Helmets Members Arrested over Leakage of Chemical Cargos Details

Nov 06, 2018

The Arabic-language website of Sputnik quoted unnamed sources as disclosing that Tahrir al-Sham and Jeish al-Izzah terrorists arrested 29 of their own members and also 5 members of the White Helmets, accusing them of involvement in disclosing information about chemical weapons and poisonous gases, including their storage locations and transfer of them to new locations.

Tahrir al-Sham and Jeish al-Izzah set up a joint committee 3 days ago to investigate and find those behind the leak of chemical information.

The Arabic-language website of Sputnik quoted another source as disclosing on Saturday that Tahrir al-Sham and Jeish al-Izzah terrorists launched vast investigations to fine sources behind leaking information about the transfer of the chemical material cargos to different regions in Idlib province.

It further said that Tahrir al-Sham's move came after terrorist groups held a meeting in Khan Sheikhoun in Southwestern Idlib to set up an investigation committee.

The Arabic Sputnik went on to say that the committee is responsible for questioning the terrorists and members of the pro-militant White Helmets Organization over the leaked information.

Different Arab media outlets have released reports about chemical activities of the terrorist groups in Idlib in recent months.

Full report at:




US Planning to Heliborne ISIL from Syria to Iraq

Nov 06, 2018

The Arabic-language al-Ma'aloumah news website quoted Ahamd al-Sahrifi, an Iraqi security expert, as disclosing that the US intends to heliborne ISIL terrorists from Syria-Iraq border to regions behind Iraqi forces' positions near border with Syria.

It further said that the US plan to heliborne ISIL to Iraq came after the Iraqi forces deployed at border with Syria and close off any infiltration by terrorists into Iraq.

Al-Sharifi further said that ISIL has not only been supported financially and militarily in the battlefield but also received logistic and diplomatic backup in regional and international arenas.

On Saturday, Iraqi troops, including Hashd al-Sha’abi paramilitary forces, were dispatched to the Syrian frontier as fears grow that ISIL terrorists could repeat the 2014 offensive.

The border build-up came as ISIL elements recently captured some territory from the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed coalition of mainly Kurdish militants, around the city of Hajin in Syria's Eastern Deir Ezzur Province.

The Iraqi military said that two Iraqi army brigades, each with 3,000 to 5,000 troops, had been dispatched to border areas in a bid to prevent terrorists crossing over.

Hashd al-Sha’abi also announced the deployment of 20,000 fighters “to provide border security after some Syrian villages fell under the control of ISIL.”

Additionally, Lieutenant Colonel Abbas Mohammad, the head of an Iraqi border unit, confirmed beefed-up presence along the Syrian frontier.

"All measures have been taken: we have control towers, observation posts, dirt berms and trenches," he said. "The SDF's retreat will not be a threat to Iraq."

Meanwhile, an AFP video journalist reported that in addition to soldiers, Iraq had sent military vehicles, helicopters and armored cars to the border region.

Iraqi General Qassem al-Mohammadi, who heads counter-terrorism operations in Iraq's western Anbar Province, warned that ISIL militants were just "five or six kilometers away, inside Syria."

ISIL unleashed a campaign of death and destruction in Iraq in 2014, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks. Iraqi army soldiers and allied fighters then launched operations to eliminate the terror outfit and retake lost territory.

Full report at:




Turkey to Utilize Jeish Al-Islam Terrorists in Battle against Kurds in Northern Syria

Nov 06, 2018

There is a close relation between Jeish al-Islam and Turkey after the terrorist group, a former ally of Riyadh, was expelled from Damascus' Eastern Ghouta.

The Arabic-language al-Watan daily quoted militant-affiliated sources as reporting that Turkey is planning to use Jeish al-Islam in its operation against Kurds on Syria's soil on the Eastern banks of the Euphrates River, adding that Jeish al-Islam had been backed up by the َAnkara forces after the Saudis ended their military support for the terrorist group.

The daily went on to say that a large number of Jeish al-Islam fighters have been deployed in the town of al-Bab in Northeastern Aleppo that is under the control of Turkish forces and their militant allies, adding that Jeish al-Islam is in control of large territories near the town of Sosiyan.

The daily further said that Jeish al-Islam has been recruiting fresh fighters in Northern Aleppo via paying a hefty amount of money to boost its influence in al-Bab region.  

A Lebanese media outlet reported on Monday that the Turkish warplanes were carrying out an increasing number of flights over the border with Syria's Hasaka as Ankara ground troops were preparing to launch a large-scale operation against Kurds on the Eastern banks of the Euphrates River.

The Arabic-language al-Manar TV Channel reported that the Turkish fighter jets were flying in large numbers over the border region with Hasaka province in Northeastern Syria.

It further said that the US-led coalition forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) held joint patrol along Syria-Turkey border between the two small towns of al-Darbasiyah in Northern Hasaka, and Ra'as al-Ein in Northwestern Hasaka.

The tv channel went on to say that a large number of Turkish troops and Ankara-backed militants have been put on alert along the contact lines with the SDF in Northern Syria to be used in a military operation on the Eastern banks of the Euphrates River.

Full report at:




Turkish Army Targets Kurdish Militias in Northern Syria Again

Nov 06, 2018

The Turkish soldiers launched machinegun attacks on the positions and a base of the Kurds in the village of Susek near the town of Tal Abyadh in Northern Raqqa.

In the meantime, Turkish sources said that Tal Abyadh will be one of the first targets of Ankara forces' operation against the Kurds on the Eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

Meanwhile, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are planting bombs and landmines in several trenches around the border town of Tal Abyadh to prevent the Turkish troops and allied militants from advancing in the region.

A Lebanese media outlet reported on Monday that the Turkish warplanes were carrying out an increasing number of flights over the border with Syria's Hasaka as Ankara ground troops were preparing to launch a large-scale operation against Kurds on the Eastern banks of the Euphrates River.

The Arabic-language al-Manar TV Channel reported that the Turkish fighter jets were flying in large numbers over the border region with Hasaka province in Northeastern Syria.

It further said that the US-led coalition forces and the SDF held joint patrol along Syria-Turkey border between the two small towns of al-Darbasiyah in Northern Hasaka, and Ra'as al-Ein in Northwestern Hasaka.

The tv channel went on to say that a large number of Turkish troops and Ankara-backed militants have been put on alert along the contact lines with the SDF in Northern Syria to be used in a military operation on the Eastern banks of the Euphrates River.

Full report at:




Tahrir Al-Sham Retreats after Clashes with Rival Terrorists in Northwestern Syria

Nov 06, 2018

Horas al-Deen and Tahrir al-Sham engaged in a tough battle North of the town of Saraqib in Eastern Idlib.

Horas al-Deen managed to push Tahrir al-Sham back from one of their key positions.

The clashes inflicted a number of casualties on both sides.

Both warring sides have kept their fighters on alert that has caused civilians in the region to worry about.

Clashes are underway between the warring sides as Tahrir al-Sham is trying hard to recapture the lost land.

On Saturday, two notorious commanders of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at and National Liberation Front (NLF) were killed in a bomb and gun fire attacks by unidentified raiders in Southern Idlib.

Abdulhamid al-Azo, a field commander of NLF, was killed in a bomb blast along a road connecting Dayer Sharqi to Ein Qari'a in Southern Idlib.

In the meantime, Abu Osama al-Terablosi, a notorious commander of Tahrir al-Sham, was gunned down by unknown raiders near the town of Ma'arat al-Nu'aman in Southern Idlib.

Meanwhile, a number of NLF fighters were killed or injured after a bomb went off near their base in the town of al-Artab in Western Aleppo.

Full report at:




Commander: Iraqi Popular Forces Ready to Hunt ISIL Terrorists in Syria

Nov 06, 2018

The Arabic-language al-Ma'aloumah news website quoted Hashem al-Mousavi, a commander of Hashd al-Shaabi, as saying that Hashd units are ready to enter Syria and hunt the remaining pockets of ISIL terrorists if Damascus and Baghdad strike a relevant agreement.

The website went on to say that Hashd's operation inside Syria depends on the order of Chief Commander of Iraqi Armed Forces Adel Abdul Mehdi and an agreement between Damascus and Baghdad.

It further said that the Hashd forces are ready to kick off anti-ISIL operation any place and any time to purge Syria of the terrorists.

Al-Mousavi further was quoted by the website as saying that Hashd forces have launched several missile attacks on the ISIL's bases, killing several commanders.

In the meantime, a high-ranking security commander in Anbar province said on Saturday that the Iraqi forces are waiting for Abdul Mehdi's order to storm ISIL in Syria.  

On Saturday, Iraqi troops, including Hashd al-Sha’abi paramilitary forces, were dispatched to the Syrian frontier as fears grow that ISIL terrorists could repeat the 2014 offensive.

The border build-up came as ISIL elements recently captured some territory from the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed coalition of mainly Kurdish militants, around the city of Hajin in Syria's Eastern Deir Ezzur Province.

The Iraqi military said that two Iraqi army brigades, each with 3,000 to 5,000 troops, had been dispatched to border areas in a bid to prevent terrorists crossing over.

Hashd al-Sha’abi also announced the deployment of 20,000 fighters “to provide border security after some Syrian villages fell under the control of ISIL.”

Additionally, Lieutenant Colonel Abbas Mohammad, the head of an Iraqi border unit, confirmed beefed-up presence along the Syrian frontier.

"All measures have been taken: we have control towers, observation posts, dirt berms and trenches," he said. "The SDF's retreat will not be a threat to Iraq."

Meanwhile, an AFP video journalist reported that in addition to soldiers, Iraq had sent military vehicles, helicopters and armored cars to the border region.

Iraqi General Qassem al-Mohammadi, who heads counter-terrorism operations in Iraq's western Anbar Province, warned that ISIL militants were just "five or six kilometers away, inside Syria."

ISIL unleashed a campaign of death and destruction in Iraq in 2014, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks. Iraqi army soldiers and allied fighters then launched operations to eliminate the terror outfit and retake lost territory.

Full report at:




Egypt’s Sisi says army will defend Gulf Arabs in case of direct threat

6 November 2018

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said the army will come to the defense of Gulf Arabs if they face any direct threats, a pro-government newspaper said on Tuesday.

Youm7 newspaper also quoted Sisi as saying in response to a question on US sanctions on Iran: “Instability affects us all and any state that has instability affects all of us.”

Sisi’s Egypt is aligned with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, joining their boycott of Qatar last year and opposing Iran’s regional influence.

“Our Arab peoples must remain aware and have true consciousness of what the region is going through,” Youm7 quoted Sisi as saying.

“We stand by our brothers in the Gulf wholeheartedly and if Gulf security is directly threatened by anyone, the Egyptian people, even before their leadership, will not accept that and will mobilize forces to protect their brethren.”




Organization of Islamic Cooperation seminar to highlight KSA’s success against terror, extremism

November 07, 2018

JEDDAH: The General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), represented by the Sawt Al-Hikma (Voice of Wisdom) Center for Dialogue, Peace and Understanding, will hold a seminar on Thursday in which Saudi Arabia will review its experience in combating terrorism and violent extremism.

OIC Secretary-General Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen said Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has successful experience against those who issue misleading religious edicts and propagate misguided ideas.

The Kingdom has adopted an integrated approach and established specialized centers in this regard, namely the Intellectual Warfare Center, the Global Center for Combating Extremism, and the Prince Khaled Al-Faisal Center for Moderation, Al-Othaimeen added.

Sawt Al-Hikma is carrying out a series of initiatives within a project through which the OIC will highlight members states’ efforts against violent extremism and terrorism committed in the name of Islam, he said. Sawt Al-Hikma is working to unify those efforts, he added.

At the seminar, Saudi Arabia will review its efforts to combat the roots of extremism and terrorism through the Intellectual Warfare Center and the Prince Khaled Al-Faisal Center for Moderation.

Full report at:






Israel lawmakers to debate death penalty bill for Palestinian ‘terrorists’

6 November 2018

Israel’s parliament will renew debate next week on a bill that would make it easier to sentence Palestinian attackers to death, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday while vowing to have it passed.

“After over three years of a stubborn struggle, the death penalty for terrorists law will finally be brought to the law committee next Wednesday (November 14), and then for its first reading in the Knesset plenum,” Lieberman said on Twitter.

“We won’t relent or stop until completing the mission.”

The bill, which passed a preliminary vote by the full parliament in January, would ease the requirements military courts in the occupied West Bank must meet to sentence Palestinians convicted of “terrorist” crimes to death.

As the law stands now, a panel of three military judges must unanimously approve any death penalty in military courts.

The new bill, planned by members of Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party at his behest, would change the requirement to a majority instead of unanimity.

Israel has not carried out any executions since 1962, when Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann was hanged.

Israel abolished the use of capital punishment for murder in civil courts in 1954, though it can still in theory be applied for war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, treason and crimes against the Jewish people.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed support for the death penalty in certain cases.

But a senior member of Netanyahu’s party said Tuesday that he would object to the bill since the Israeli security establishment opposed it.

“I won’t support imposing the death penalty before there’s a serious debate and decision in the government and security cabinet,” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz wrote on Twitter.

“According to the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), Shin Bet (internal security service) and all the security establishment not only would (the death penalty) not help the fight against terror, it would cause great damage,” he said.

A law to sentence “terrorists” to death was one of Lieberman’s election promises in 2015, and government support for it was a condition for Yisrael Beitenu joining Netanyahu’s coalition.

Israeli elections are expected to be called in the coming months and politicians have been ramping up campaign rhetoric.

The Palestinian government on Tuesday said the bill was “a public invitation to commit murder, and execution, and carry out massacres against our Palestinian people.”

“This is a clear breach of laws, international and humanitarian,” a statement from the Palestinian government said.




Turkey threatens Syria’s Kurds: A headache for the US?

NOVEMBER 7, 2018

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has renewed his threats to crush Syria’s Kurds, this time in northeastern areas of the war-torn country where US forces are present.

Turkish shelling has hit positions of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), as Ankara warns of a new offensive to clear the militia from its border.

The United States has scrambled to contain the tensions, as it seeks to retain the YPG as a key partner in its battle against a resilient Islamic State group.

How serious are threats?

Since 2016, Turkey has carried out two operations against Kurdish forces in Syria, the last of which saw Ankara-backed Syrian rebels seize the northwestern enclave of Afrin in March.

Erdogan has since repeatedly threatened to march east into more Kurdish-held territory, but analysts say the timing adds weight to the latest warnings.

Turkey brokered a deal with Russia in September to stave off a regime attack on the northwestern rebel bastion of Idlib, thus freeing it up to set its sights on Kurdish-held territory further east.

On the world stage, Ankara is feeling emboldened and seeks to score diplomatic points as Saudi Arabia, a rival regional heavyweight, grapples with global outrage over the murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

And Turkey has seen its relationship with NATO ally Washington improve after it freed American pastor Andrew Brunson from detention last month.

With shelling east of the Euphrates River, analysts say Erdogan is testing the waters, specifically to see how the United States will react.

Full report at:




Erdogan says US sanctions on Iran ‘wrong,’ says Turkey won’t abide by them

6 November 2018

Turkey will not abide by the United States' sanctions on Iran, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday, describing Washington's move as aimed at unbalancing the world.

Erdogan's comments to reporters in Ankara came a day after Washington reimposed sanctions, abandoning a 2015 deal between

world powers and Iran over its nuclear programme, while temporarily allowing major customers including Turkey to keep buying crude from the Islamic Republic.




Turkey will take US bounty on senior PKK leaders cautiously: Presidential spox

Nov 7, 2018

Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin has described the US State Department's decision to offer rewards in exchange for information on three key figures of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group as a “late” move that the Ankara government will take “cautiously.”

“They (Americans) say they are making a distinction between the PKK, and the People's Protection Units (YPG) and Democratic Union Party (PYD). But they cannot fool us. We have told them many times that the organic link between them [the PKK and YPG/PYD] is not [purely] instrumental,” Kalin said on Tuesday.

“We will take this cautiously. It is a late decision,” the senior Turkish official noted.

Kalin went on to say that if Washington's intention is to obscure its ongoing support to the YPG, the truth will soon come out.

Earlier in the day, the US Department of State's Rewards for Justice program authorized up to $12 million of rewards for information leading to the identification or location of PKK's acting leader Murat Karayilan, founding member Cemil Bayik, and senior leader Duran Kalkan.

The US Embassy in Ankara announced in a statement that a bounty of up to $5 million had been approved for Karayilan, $4 million for Bayik and $3 million for Kalkan.

Karayilan has been the PKK's acting leader ever since the militant group's founder and leader, Abdullah Ocalan, was captured by Turkish security forces in 1999.

Bayik is a member of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an alliance of pro-Kurdish groups. He is also the mastermind of a car bomb attack at Ankara's central Kizilay Square in March 2016. At least 35 people lost their lives in the bombing.

Kalkan is responsible for an attack that killed seven Turkish soldiers in December 2009.

Top Kurdish PKK terrorist 'neutralized' in southeastern Turkey

Meanwhile, Turkish government forces have "neutralized" a high-ranking PKK militant during a counter-terrorism operation in the country’s southeastern province of Sirnak.

Turkey’s Interior Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that Bedirhan Abo, better known by the nom de guerre Masiro, was neutralized during an operation supported by military aircraft in the mountainous Cudi area of the province.

The statement added that the militant had a bounty of 4 million Turkish lira ($746,000) on his head, and was in the red category of the ministry's wanted terrorists.

The Turkish military generally uses the term "neutralize" to signify that the militants were killed, captured or surrendered.

PKK militants regularly clash with Turkish forces in the Kurdish-dominated southeast of Turkey attached to northern Iraq.

Turkey, along with the European Union and the United States, has declared the PKK a terrorist group and banned it. The militant group has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984.

A shaky ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015. Attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since.

Over the past few months, Turkish ground and air forces have been carrying out operations against PKK positions in the country as well as in northern Iraq and neighboring Syria.

Full report at:




Yemeni forces shoot down Saudi-led reconnaissance drone over Sa'ada

Nov 6, 2018

The Yemeni army has shot down a Saudi unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) as it was on a reconnaissance mission in Yemen’s northern province of Sa'ada.

Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah satellite television network, citing a military source, reported that the drone was shot down on Tuesday as it was flying in the skies of al-Hisama neighborhood of the city of Dhahir west of the province.

Backed by allied fighters from Popular Committees and those of the Houthi Ansarullah movement, the Yemeni army also managed to shoot down two such drones last week, one over Yemen’s western coastal province of Hudaydah and the other over Saudi Arabia’s southwestern region of Jizan.

Separately on Tuesday, Yemeni troops managed to kill more than 30 Saudi-led mercenaries and wound dozens more in the Midi Desert in Yemen's northwestern Hajjah province. They also destroyed as many as 11 military vehicles of the invaders.

Elsewhere in Hudaydah province, Yemeni forces killed some 25 Saudi-led Sudanese mercenaries in the vicinity of Hudaydah city.

Leading a coalition of its allies, including the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, and Sudan, Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall a former Riyadh-friendly regime, which had resigned amid popular discontent, and to crush the country’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement, which has played a significant role, alongside the Yemeni army, in defending the nation and has been running state affairs in the absence of an effective government.

The aggression initially consisted of a bombing campaign, but was later coupled with a naval blockade and the deployment of ground forces to Yemen. According to a new report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has so far claimed the lives of around 56,000 Yemenis.

The Saudi-led war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN has already said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.

Full report at:




Turkish police detain 13 suspects over affiliation to Gulen movement

Nov 6, 2018

Turkish security forces have arrested more than a dozen people on suspicion of affiliation to a movement led by US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the Ankara government accuses of having masterminded the July 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Police sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the suspects were detained in 10 provinces across the country.

They apparently used encrypted messaging application ByLock, which the Turkish government claims to be the top communication tool among members of the Gulen movement.

The sources added that the arrests came after the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in Istanbul issued arrest warrants for 26 suspects.

During the 2016 botched putsch, a faction of the Turkish military declared that it had seized control of the country and the government of Erdogan was no more in charge. The attempt was, however, suppressed a few hours later.

Ankara has since accused Gulen of having orchestrated the coup. The opposition figure is also accused of being behind a long-running campaign to topple the government via infiltrating the country’s institutions, particularly the army, police and the judiciary.

Gulen has denounced the “despicable putsch” and reiterated that he had no role in it.

“Accusations against me related to the coup attempt are baseless and politically-motivated slanders,” he said in a statement.

The 77-year-old cleric has also called on Ankara to end its “witch hunt” of his followers, a move he says is aimed at “weeding out anyone it deems disloyal to President Erdogan and his regime.”

Turkish officials have frequently called on their US counterparts to extradite Gulen, but their demands have not been taken heed of.

Turkey, which remains in a state of emergency since the coup, has been engaged in suppressing the media and opposition groups suspected to have played a role in the failed coup.

Tens of thousands of people have been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of having links to Gulen and the failed coup. More than 110,000 others, including military staff, civil servants and journalists, have been sacked or suspended from work over the same accusations.

Full report at:




Erdogan rejects joint US-Kurdish patrols near Syria border

November 06, 2018

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that joint US-Kurdish patrols just over the Turkish border with Syria were unacceptable and he expected US President Donald Trump to stop them.

Erdogan, set to meet Trump in Paris this weekend, told reporters he would discuss the patrols that he said were being carried out inside Syria by the US and allied Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

“I believe when we speak with Trump, they will probably stop this process,” he said.

The SDF said on Friday that US troops had started patrolling the border in a bid to defuse tensions with Ankara — though it did not say whether its own forces had joined in. The US-led coalition in Syria said there had been no increase in patrolling.

Erdogan’s concerns underlined the complex web of allegiance and enmity along the border that has been exacerbated by the civil war over the frontier in Syria.

The US has backed and armed the SDF, describing them as allies in its fight against Daesh militants in Syria.

That US-Kurdish alliance has alarmed Turkey — which says that Kurdish YPG fighters inside the SDF coalition are an offshoot of an outlawed militant group inside its own territory.

Turkish military advances into northern Syria over the past two years have put US forces directly in the path of advancing troops from Turkey, Washington’s main Muslim NATO ally.

In another sign of the complex situation, the US and Turkey began separate joint patrols in northern Syria on Thursday with the aim of averting clashes between Turkey and Washington’s Kurdish allies.

But Ankara pressed on with a new offensive nearby on the Kurdish forces that Washington trains and arms.

Last week, Turkish forces shelled positions in northern Syria under SDF control.

Full report at:






Senior British Islamophobe escapes terror charges

Nov 6, 2018

Prosecutors in Britain have decided to downplay threats posed by a senior Islamophobic figure who touted attacks against Muslims and immigrants, saying evidence against the man, who allegedly built explosive devices in his home for a planned attack on Muslims, was “insufficient” to charge him with terror-related offences.

The Independent newspaper said in a report on its website on Tuesday that Matthew Glynn, 37, had not been charged with terror offences because the prosecution did not allege that Glynn was planning to use the homemade bombs in an attack.

However, there has been sufficient evidence from Glynn’s activity online suggesting that he was in fact planning a fatal attack on Muslims, especially in Bristol, where he lives.

The independent said Glynn’s Facebook posts had indicated anti-Muslim and extreme right-wing views while he shared numerous videos from the anti-Islam Britain First, an extremist group which is now banned and its leaders have been jailed.

Many of Glynn’s posts liked in the social media were devoted to weapons and military memorabilia like an ax manufacturer, the report said, while the Islamophobic figure also followed pages on Facebook like “World Against Islamism”, “Stop Islamification Wake Up World” and “Exposing Islam”.

Glynn was arrested in July after police found the explosive devices in his home. He is due to be sentenced next month by the Bristol Crown Court.

Britain has seen a surge in Islamophobic activity over the past years while authorities have been accused of not doing enough to contain notable figures who openly call for attacks on Muslims and immigrants.

Tommy Robinson, the top Islamophobe in Britain and founder of the English Defense League, has managed to escape convictions for contempt of the court charges. The man, which is believed to be very close to the Islamophobic camp in the United States, have also staged rallies in major cities like London calling for an outright ban on the arrival of Muslims into Britain.




Shakespeare can help British Muslims feel less excluded

7 Nov 2018

An Islamic prayer mat and a secret Muslim tragic-hero uttering “Ya Akbar” aren’t typically associated with Shakespeare, but Othello has been given a dramatic twist in a new touring production that illustrates the complexities of identity in modern Britain. A co-production involving English Touring Theatre, Oxford Playhouse and Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory, the play is on tour across the UK including in some of its more deprived areas, such as Oldham and Huddersfield. At a time when fictional portrayals of Muslims often suffer from reductionist stereotypes – as in the BBC’s Bodyguard, which had a Muslim woman as a jihadi terrorist – this new interpretation offers a powerfully nuanced message of belonging, and takes account of the centuries-long history of relations between England and the Muslim world.

The Moor of Venice was first produced in 1604, a year after Elizabeth I’s reign ended. She had sought an alliance with the Ottoman empire against Catholic Spain – opening up diplomatic, political, economic and cultural exchange – with ambassadors from Morocco visiting the Elizabethan court. So the play’s timing could not have been pure coincidence. Professor Jerry Brotton, in his book This Orient Isle: Elizabethan England and the Islamic World notes: “This story is part of the heritage of Christians, Muslims and any others who call themselves English.”

And yet a recent poll commissioned by Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend) showed that nearly half of British adults (48%) agree that prejudice against Islam makes it difficult to be a Muslim in Britain. No matter how “integrated” Muslims are, they are still regarded by a large number of people as outsiders. According to another report from the Muslim Council of Britain, 62% of Britons think rising numbers of Muslims in the UK “weaken”’ the national identity.

With attitudes this ambivalent, Shakespeare’s play could feel chillingly prophetic.When the contemporary backdrop is one of rising nationalism and populism, tensions over immigration, struggling religious minorities, and such movements as Black Lives Matter, Othello, from a certain perspective, holds startling parallels. In this new production, Othello is a black Muslim general, hiding his faith to assimilate, and fighting on behalf of the white colonial Christian state whose citizens regard him with conflicting views (“devil”; “valiant Moor”). This mirrors the modern notion that even the “good” or “worthy” immigrant can never wholly belong.

Then there is Iago, the villain who deceives Othello about his wife Desdemona’s fidelity and brings about a psychological downfall built on paranoia. Read: Iago is the fake news that feeds racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia – infiltrating minds and turning us on our own humanity.

The play’s identity politics, cultural assimilation and Muslim dimension are not just concocted to look woke, these themes have been in Shakespeare all along. Richard Twyman, the production’s artistic director, says he was struck by the word “Moor”, which, in Shakespeare’s day, was synonomous with “Muslim”. “It urges you to view the play with a certain lens – it makes us aware of many of the issues we see in society today reflected back to us through Shakespeare’s words.”

What is crucial to remember is that the relationship between Islam and Britain, although complex, goes much further back than modern history. How uplifting that Twyman wants Muslims to see themselves in Shakespeare. We can only hope that this unique and arguably more authentic approach to Shakespeare may serve to help Muslims to feel less isolated.

Full report at:




Forgotten Muslim heroes of Great War immortalised in London exhibition

November 6, 2018

The scrawny Arabic handwriting of a young, desperate soldier reeks of despair.

“We live in caves like hedgehogs. Allah has forsaken this place,” reads one line. This is not a wail from the desert of the Sahara nor from the tunnels of Aleppo, but a carefully preserved letter from the trenches of Europe during the First World War.

The handwritten letter is just a small part of a London-based exhibition attempting to remind visitors of the millions of Muslims who fought and died in the Great War.

Now, as Europe approaches the 100th anniversary of the armistice agreement that silenced the guns of the conflict, efforts are underway to shed light on the involvement of troops from the region and Asia.

The ground floor of a vacant office building in Hammersmith on a Sunday is perhaps not the sort of place one might expect to find this battle of narratives but Luc Ferrier, a former aviation executive from Belgium, is doing what he can to spread awareness of the Muslim contribution to the First World War.

He was prompted to delve into the sacrifices given by the many Muslims who fought during the conflict after reading some of his grandfather’s notes from the trenches.

Much of the exhibition is based on the contents of a book put together by Mr Ferrier titled The Unknown Fallen. It’s a coffee table volume, which uses portraits and translations of letters to depict the reality of life for the Muslims who found themselves in the trenches - a powerful visual reminder that this chapter of history wasn't solely European.

“I’m not a writer, I didn’t want to write a book that would sit on the shelves of another academic,” he said.

It also touches on the realities of staying true to one’s faith in war.

“They didn’t just have a physical fight, but one for identity,” said Mr Ferrier. “How do I stay a good Muslim in the trenches?”

The exhibition has anecdotes of Indian soldiers frustrating their officers by sharing rations with prisoners, something many deemed an obligation of their faith. Other letters document soldiers' concern over whether their rations were halal or not.

The number of Muslims who fought in the First World War is vast and though the exact figure is contested, Mr Ferrier says 4.5 million is historically defendable. “That includes more than a million from Russia, 400,0000 from North Africa,” he adds.

The exhibition brings to light a rarely acknowledged aspect of the Great War, one in which soldiers of all creeds and religions fought side by side, fighting and sacrificing for one another, regardless of belief.

“There is almost no evidence of racism or intolerance – they [the soldiers] couldn’t care less about that,” said Mr Ferrier.

He stresses the exhibition is not about glamorising war, nor is it about putting anyone on trial. “It’s a wonderful story about empathy and about brotherhood and friendship.”

The organisation Mr Ferrier now runs – The Forgotten Heroes Foundation – has had success in getting their story to the most unlikely of places. Hayyan Bhaba, Mr Ferrier’s partner in the venture, recalls pitching their work to Ivan Humble, a former senior member of the English Defence League.

“He was shocked and amazed,” he chuckles. They now consider him a supporter of the foundation’s work.

One wall of the exhibition is plastered with letters of gratitude and commendation from government and military officials.

A wider effort to further recognise the contributions of Muslims and other minorities who served during both world wars is underway. Last week British Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to wear a Khadi poppy, in remembrance of the contribution of Indians to the war effort. British India then included modern-day Pakistan, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

In recent weeks, a campaign to see Second World War intelligence heroine Noor Inayat Khan put on a UK bank note has also gathered significant attention. She helped run British radio communications behind enemy lines before being killed in a Nazi concentration camp in 1944.

Mr Ferrier points to a canvas that depicts Muslim and Christian soldiers praying just metres apart. “I don’t know what happened the day before or the day after, but I know what happened in that moment – it’s beautiful,” he said. “Enjoy that moment.”

He is also keen to stress that although this is an exhibition about a conflict that ended almost a century ago, it is as much about the present and the future as it is the past.

“The emotions you see here are the same as were there in the Second World War...I hope people come to the exhibition, listen, read and then take it back with them”.

When Laurence Binyon’s For the Fallen was published in a British newspaper in 1914, he might not have known that a single stanza would become the ode through which much of the western world remembers perhaps the most devastating conflict of the 20th century.

“At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them,” reads the tribute. Its familiarity in Britain and across Europe is near universal.

Full report at:




Prince Charles opposed Iraq invasion, is sympathetic to Palestinians, says new book

6 November 2018

LONDON - Prince Charles, the future king of the United Kingdom, believes that the Israel-Palestine conflict is “the fundamental reason for the hostility and all the 'pent-up poison’ throughout the Islamic world”, according to a new book.

In "Charles At Seventy: Thoughts, Hopes and Dreams", writer Robert Jobson sets out what the prince, the second-most senior member of the British royal family, thinks about the Middle East and the West’s relationship with Islam.

Revelations include that the heir to the throne

opposed the Iraq war

disagrees with the burqas and niqab bans in European nations

has told ministers that he refuses any longer to be used to sell arms to the Middle East

studies the Quran and signs letters to regional leaders in Arabic

thinks that Christianity can learn from Islam

Charles, Jobson writes, is “determined to use his personal relationships with the Arab leaders in the Gulf to the greater good”.

The 300-page volume, published in the same month as Prince Charles marks his 70th birthday, is the most in-depth study of his beliefs since Jonathan Dimbleby’s book “Prince of Wales: A Biography” in 1994.

It’s significant because, although not an official biography, it was written with the cooperation of Clarence House, the prince’s office.

Jobson, who has met Prince Charles on many occasions, has commented extensively about the royal family for UK media as well as NBC and the 7 Network. In 2005 he was the first to break the news that Prince Charles was to marry Camilla Parker Bowles.

The book, Jobson says, spoke to “a number of sources close to the prince who have never spoken before” and reveals more than any previous volume about his relationship with the Arab world.

It explores the prince’s character, beliefs and thoughts about religion and politics in order to try and uncover what he will be like when he ascends the throne.

William was 'asked to act as a peace envoy'

The book says that Charles believes that a political solution for Palestinians is crucial to halting the problem of international terrorism. Robson writes that the prince's strong views on this subject “probably disqualified him from the role of peacemaker”.

In the book, Jobson says a courtier told him: “I have heard him [Charles] say time and again: 'Remove the poison and you remove the cause of so much of the terrorism. It is the prince's core belief on the issue.”

His strong feelings towards the Middle East may be why his son Prince William, and not he himself, carried out the first royal visit to Israel in June 2018.

During his tour William met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He also visited Ramallah in the West Bank, where he spoke with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

William was also “asked to act as a peace envoy when Israel’s president asked him to take a message to the Palestinian premier”.

However, British officials “immediately stepped in and insisted that was not William’s role”, banning him from becoming “drawn into the complex politics of the region”.

Prince 'criticised' Blair in Iraq run-up

The British royal family are constitutionally obliged to stay out of political issues. Freedom of Information requests by The Guardian have revealed that he has voiced opinions in the past to government ministers about farming, funding for the armed forces and alternative health among others.

But his thoughts on major foreign policy issues relating to the Middle East have never been known.

Jobson writes that Charles was a passionate opponent of the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, and that “in private he would undoubtedly have voiced ‘his strongest possible objections’ on the war’ to Tony Blair, the prime minister at the time”.

The prince, Jobson writes, was plunged into despair by Blair’s support for the invasion - and might have tried to argue against it had he been king.

Indeed, “his advice to Blair would have been to heed the warnings of Arab leaders in the region, men with whom Charles had built up good working relations over the years”.

Furthermore, the prince believed that during the crisis there was a fundamental lack of understanding of Arabic culture, which was ultimately “crucial to understand”.

As the prince grew “increasingly frustrated with the Iraq issue”, he could not understand why the government of the day did not see the Middle East as “a region dominated by tribal loyalties” and that “marching in carrying a banner for Western-style democracy was both foolhardy and futile,” Jobson writes.

Indeed, the Prince of Wales cast serious doubt on the government's 2002 intelligence dossier long before the BBC report in May 2003 that it had been “sexed up”.

Charles repeatedly told friends that Blair should have listened to Arab leaders about how to act over Iraq.

Bush administration was 'terrifying'

Jobson writes that the prince was especially critical of support given by the Blair government to the White House in the runup to the invasion.

The prince’s opposition to the Iraq War, Jobson insists, “did not come with hindsight. Charles made his no-nonsense position clear to those in power at the time.

“He told political figures and those in his trusted circle that he regarded the Bush administration as 'terrifying' and pilloried what he believes was Blair's lack of perspicacity. He believed Blair had behaved like Bush's 'poodle' and said so."

According to Jobson, one of his circle revealed: “Whenever he followed in the wake of the prime minister on an overseas visit he would quote a phrase dryly, 'Thou shalt go behind the rear of the Lord to declare his song.' It would always get a laugh.”

Arab rulers, Jobson writes, told the prince again and again how uneasy they were about Blair becoming so closely aligned with Bush and how “bewildered and saddened” they were by the UK's position in being “tied to the USA's coat-tails” over Iraq.

Jobson writes: “The prince, according to sources, maintained it was 'absolutely extraordinary' that neither the Americans nor those in authority in the UK ever seemed to listen to the Arab perspective or consider their knowledge of Iraq and its religious and tribal complexities when seeking post-war solutions there.

“Ignoring their perspective, the prince felt, was fatal and had led to what he described as 'the bewildering mess we are facing now at home and abroad'.”

Jobson says that “one former member of the prince's household divulged that Charles was completely baffled by Bush and his stance in totally ignoring the advice of local leaders.

“’The prince could not understand the sense in America's position,' the source said, 'which was a need to revisit the 'crazy' de-Baathifican policy [sacking professionals who were members of Saddam Hussein's B'aath party] that had led to the exclusion of so many badly needed professional people throughout Iraqi society and turned so many people against the coalition.'

“Charles, the source said, was particularly derogatory about Bush's secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice - the first black woman to hold that post - and the extent of what he deemed US ignorance of the Middle East. The prince couldn't fathom why Ms Rice resisted all requests to visit the area.”

Charles still harbours distrust towards the current US administration, according to Jobson.

“He is not only critical of their lack of a coherent Middle East policy, but deeply concerned by their refusal to sign up to any international convention on climate change - a stance made even worse by the current incumbent in the White House, President Donald Trump.”

Book says prince reads the Quran

The US is not the only UK ally to face royal criticism towards the Middle East, according to Jobson.

He writes that Charles disagreed with the bans imposed in France and Belgium on Muslim women covering their faces with burqas and niqabs in public, and regards them as “an infringement of human rights”, which criminalise women.

The prince has also told ministers that he no longer wants to use his excellent Gulf connections to sell arms on behalf of British companies in the Middle East.

But the book casts an extraordinary light on the prince’s views of Islam and the Arabic world, showing that his interest in Islam goes deeper than hitherto known.

The prince, Jobson writes, is a keen student of Islam who has read the Quran and studies Arabic.

Jobson also discloses that the prince always signs off his letters to Gulf leaders by personally writing his name in Arabic, “another small nod to respecting the other culture”.

According to Jobson, the future head of the Church of England “thinks Islam can teach us all a way of understanding and living in the world, which sadly, he believes, Christianity is poorer for having lost”.

The prince has also studied Judaism and is close to the former chief rabbi, Jonathan Sachs. He believes that both Judaism and Islam have “a great deal in common” with Christianity and that the "the future surely lies in rediscovering the universal truths that dwell at the heart of these religions".

Jobson writes that Charles has good working relations with contacts in the region and is well respected in the Gulf states and the Middle East.

Full report at:




PKK terror rioters attack Council of Europe in France


By Omer Aydin


French police in Strasbourg arrested 14 supporters of the terrorist PKK on Tuesday for rioting, attacking the police, and other unlawful behavior.

Police sources told Anadolu Agency that during a protest rally, the terrorist group supporters tried to break into the Council of Europe and European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) buildings, damaging them in the process.

A group of people near the buildings attacked the police by throwing stones and sticks, injuring seven gendarmes, and the police used tear gas and clubs and arrested 14 people in response.

The rally was reportedly meant to protest the prison conditions of Abdullah Ocalan, the terrorist group’s convicted leader.

The terrorist PKK supporters came from France, Germany, Switzerland, and other nearby countries.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and EU.

Full report at:




Germany: US sanctions would strengthen radicals in Iran


By Ayhan Simsek


Germany on Tuesday criticized new U.S. sanctions against Iran, warning that they may lead to “destabilization” and strengthen “radical forces” in the country.

“We think that this step is wrong,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told a news conference in Berlin, adding that Germany would take appropriate measures, together with its EU partners, to keep the nuclear agreement with Iran alive.

“We are taking necessary measures so that the Iranian economy would not collapse fully, and lead to a destabilization situation that would actually support the radical forces in Iran,” he said.

Germany’s top diplomat also warned that new sanctions on Iran may further escalate tensions in the Middle East and become a threat to Europe’s security.

He underlined that the agreement signed with Iran in 2015 was the most effective way to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear technology for military purposes.

“We are now working to forge new instruments within the European Union, such as the special purpose vehicle, to make sure that business can still be done with Iran,” he said.

World powers agreed in 2015 to lift economic sanctions imposed on Iran in return for the latter agreeing to limit its nuclear activity to peaceful and civilian purposes.

But in May, U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear agreement, accusing Tehran of cheating on the agreement, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Full report at:




EU urges Saudi cooperation with Turkish Khashoggi probe


By Yusuf Hatip


The European Commission on Tuesday called on Saudi Arabia to collaborate with Turkish authorities on investigating the killing last month of a journalist at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

"We expect Saudi institutions to provide all the information they have about the case and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice. This needs to be done in full collaboration with the Turkish authorities," commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told a press briefing in Brussels.

"From the very beginning we have been asking Saudi Arabia to shed light on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi through a full credible, transparent and prompt investigation," she added.

Khashoggi, a Saudi national and columnist for The Washington Post, was killed on Oct. 2.

After weeks of denying involvement, the kingdom admitted that Khashoggi had been killed at the Saudi Consulate but claimed that the Saudi royal family had no prior knowledge of a plot to murder him.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini earlier said: "We expect a thorough investigation and full transparency from the Saudi authorities on what has happened."

In a non-binding resolution on Oct. 25, the European Parliament condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the reported torture and killing of the journalist.

The EP urged an "independent and impartial" international probe of the killing, also warning that targeted sanctions could be imposed if Saudi agents are found guilty in his death.

Last week, Turkish prosecutors announced their preliminary findings, saying Khashoggi was strangled to death in a premeditated killing soon after he entered the consulate.

The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office said Khashoggi's body was disposed of after being dismembered.

Full report at:




Berlin: All behind Khashoggi murder should be punished


By Ayhan Simsek


Germany urged Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to support Turkey’s investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and bring the perpetrators and their superiors to justice.

Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas stressed that Germany expects a “full investigation” into the killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

“We have supported the investigation done by the Turkish authorities. And we also think that the Saudi authorities should have supported the investigation more than they did. Many questions remain open,” he said.

Maas stressed that all those responsible for the murder should be brought to justice and punished.

“We expect that those responsible for this crime will be held responsible. Not just the perpetrators, but also those who ordered this murder, if indeed there were such people,” he added.

Khashoggi, a Saudi national and columnist for The Washington Post, was killed on Oct. 2 inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

After weeks of denying involvement, the kingdom admitted that Khashoggi had been killed at the consulate but claimed that the Saudi royal family had no prior knowledge of a plot to murder him.

So far, 18 people, including security officers, have been arrested in Saudi Arabia in connection with the murder.

Last week, Turkish prosecutors announced their preliminary findings, saying Khashoggi was strangled to death in a premeditated killing soon after he entered the consulate.

The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office said Khashoggi's body was disposed of after being dismembered.

Full report at:



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