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Islamic World News ( 15 Aug 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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ISIS’s Last Days in Iraq: Wife of a Leader close To Baghdadi Tells the Story
















Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. (Bernama pic)

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ISIS’s Last Days in Iraq: Wife of a Leader close To Baghdadi Tells the Story

‘Naya Pakistan’ Journey Kicks Off With Horse-Trading

48 Killed In Bomb Explosion in Shia Neighbourhood Of Afghan Capital

Israel to Build 20,000 New Settler Units in Occupied Quds

Sex Education Can Help Curb Underage Marriages, Says Wan Azizah

 

Arab World

ISIS’s Last Days in Iraq: Wife of a Leader close To Baghdadi Tells the Story

Arab Media: Turkey to Inevitably Withdraw from Idlib

Syria rebel group accused of abduction, murder of key activist

Syria, Russia in Final Coordination over Idlib Operation

US Army Sends Huge Arms Cargo to Bases in Eastern Syria

Popular Uprising Reported against Turkish Occupiers in Northern Syria

Saudi ready for receiving more than 5,000 pilgrims of martyrs families

Qatar promises $15 bln direct investment in Turkey

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Pakistan

‘Naya Pakistan’ Journey Kicks Off With Horse-Trading

Twitter Threatened With Shutdown in Pakistan

Imran’s ascent to PM Office all but certain

ISI, MI officials included in earlier JIT by Nisar: CJP

IHC takes NAB to task over plea for adjournment

Pakistani envoy calls on Saudi air force commander in Riyadh

Opp alliance on tenterhooks after PPP refuses to vote for Shehbaz

‘Meet the Pakistani Donald Trump’: South African Comedian Brands Khan, Trump As ‘Twins’

US wants Pakistan to lead regional peace efforts

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South Asia

48 Killed In Bomb Explosion In Shia Neighbourhood Of Afghan Capital

5 Bangladesh Islamists Get Death Sentence

Ghani orders immediate probe into the deadly attack in Kabul city

Afghan forces foil deadly truck bombing in Gardez city

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Mideast

Israel to Build 20,000 New Settler Units in Occupied Quds

Houthis: New Child Killing In Yemen ‘Disgrace to Saudi, US’

New Evidence to Back UN’s Finding about Tehran Role in Nurturing Al-Qaeda

Yemen criticizes UN humanitarian coordinator Grande for siding with Houthis

Houthis target civilians after Yemeni army advances in Hajjah

Israel whitewashing deadly 2014 attack on Gaza: Rights group

Saudi warships strike northwestern Yemeni village, six civilians dead

Israeli forces detain another Palestinian reporter in occupied West Bank

Israel clears soldiers in 2014 ‘Black Friday’ Gaza assault

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Southeast Asia

Sex Education Can Help Curb Underage Marriages, Says Wan Azizah

Blasphemy Case Points to Rise of Islamic Conservatives in Indonesia

PAS Reps Blast Suhakam over Criticism of Shariah Caning For Lesbians

China Appears To Be Compiling a Massive Database of Its Muslim Citizens Abroad To Keep Close Tabs on Them

Will Muslim Autonomy Law In Philippines Bring Peace To Region Choked By Decades Of Separatist Conflict?

Malaysia PM Approval Rating At 71 Percent but Concern over Race, Religion Seen Growing

As Umno closes door, PAS opens it’s to Najib

Rafizi: Govt needs to find middle ground between Malays, non-Malays

Hudud law in Malaysia, Brunei and Aceh: How they stack up

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India

Police Boosts Security near Mosques and Madrasas in the Muslim Areas in Pune for Eid-ul-Zuha

Rifleman Aurangzeb’s Parents Hoist National Flag in Indore

Waqf Board celebrates Independence Day at Ambala office

Condition Of Muslims In India Is Far Better Than Those In Indian Sub-Continent: Maulana Mahmood Madani

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Africa

Libya Condemns 45 to Death for 2011 Demo Killings

Nigerian Soldiers Protest as Boko Haram Attacks Surge

Jordan court charges five with ‘terrorism’ after deadly raid

Compromised police to blame for al Shabaab attacks, says Mandera MP

Nigerian soldiers protest as Boko Haram attacks surge

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North America

Plano to Cancel Recall Vote After Official's Anti-Islam Post

First Somali-American poised to become Congress member

White House condemns Turkey’s tariffs on US imports

Turkey court rejects new appeal to free detained US pastor

Turkey increases tariffs on some US imports amid escalating feud

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Europe

Germany, Qatar Vow Support for Turkey amid US Pressure

Italian Craftsman Gifts Table to Mosque in Germany

Uproar as Australia politician urges Muslim ban

Big EU firms not ready to oppose US bans on Iran: Russian envoy

UK nerve agent poisoning cases reminder of Iraqi WMDs tale, Russia says

Car Terrorist in Britain Was Sudanese Muslim Immigrant

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/isis’s-last-days-in-iraq--wife-of-a-leader-close-to-baghdadi-tells-the-story/d/116130

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ISIS’s Last Days in Iraq: Wife of a Leader close To Baghdadi Tells the Story

15 August 2018

Stories about ISIS’s "last days in Iraq" have been circulating in Iraqi and Arab media as told by Faten al-Khalifawi, daughter of the internationally blacklisted terrorist Samir al-Khalifawi known as “Haji Bakr” and wife of the official spokesperson of ISIS.

Faten is known as “daughter of al-Haji” because of the high rank that her father had within the terrorist group.

He was a military commander in the previous Iraqi regime, then joined terrorist groups after 2003.

He was considered one of the closest people to leaders of these groups, until he reached ISIS where he was head of the group’s Military Council and was considered the second-in-command after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Faten is also the wife of the blacklisted terrorist "Abu Hassan," who became the official spokesperson after the main spokesperson “Abu Mohammed al-Adnani” was killed.

Faten, 26, recently stood in front of judge of a court that deals with terrorism cases, after the security forces arrested her near the province of Kirkuk.

She told her father’s story from the beginning, when he joined the terrorist groups after 2003. She said: “When we were living in Aleppo, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi asked my father to marry me to Abu Hassan, who was the personal assistant for Abu Mohammad al-Adnani and one of the closest people to him, and so we got married, and Baghdadi himself carried out the ceremony.”

She added: “At the end of 2013, my husband and I had moved to al-Mayadeen area. At that time, the Free Syrian Army broke into my father’s house in Aleppo and after exchanging fire, they killed my father who was wearing an explosive belt. They also detained my mother and my two brothers Ahmed and Mohammed, but they were released after nine months in a deal between ISIS and the Turkish intelligence.”

Faten confirmed previous stories on targeting Baghdadi saying: “In the operation targeting the car of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Abu Mohammad al-Adnani was killed. That is when my husband was appointed official spokesperson of ISIS by al-Baghdadi when he visited us in our house in Mayadeen. And after the airstrikes intensified in our area, we were forced to move to al-Bukamal city in Syria.

“We only stayed for a couple of months in al-Bukamal before Baghdadi asked us to move to al-Shaitat area, and that was because our house got targeted several times. In Shaitat, we lived in the house of ‘Hajji Khalaf’ with Baghdadi's family, which was composed of his four wives Um Khalid, Um Ruqayyah, Um Abdullah, and Um Obaida al-Shishaniyah,” she added.

She clarified, saying: “Baghdadi’s mother and daughters Wafaa, Ruqayyah and Fatima lived with us too. In addition to the family of Baghdadi’s detained brother ‘Haji Shamsi’. When we were forced to move again because of the airstrikes, the group wasn’t in control of any areas anymore, that’s why we went to refugee camps in Anbar Province (in Iraq), and from there we moved to Kirkuk to try to enter the province of Sulaymaniyah with fake papers and IDs, but the security forces figured out who we were and broke into the hotel we were staying in.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/08/15/ISIS-last-days-in-Iraq-wife-of-a-leader-close-to-al-Baghdadi-tells-the-story.html

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‘Naya Pakistan’ journey kicks off with horse-trading

AUGUST 16, 2018

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hamza Shehbaz on Wednesday alleged that those chanting slogans of ‘Naya Pakistan’ began the start of their rule with “horse-trading”.

“A person who was disqualified by the court had been convincing people and taking them along on his plane,” Hamza said in a hidden yet apparent jibe at PTI’s Jehangir Tareen while speaking to the media in Lahore.

He went on to say that opposition was not something new for the PML-N, adding he didn’t like politics of reconciliation.

On Saturday, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced the distribution of seats reserved for women and minorities, raising the total number of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) seats in the National Assembly to 158.

According to the ECP, nine out of 13 independent winning candidates joined the PTI, swelling the total number of PTI’s general seats to 125. Following the formula laid down in constitution, the PTI has now been allotted as many as 28 reserved women and five minority seats in the National Assembly, taking its total seats to 158.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/284151/naya-pakistan-journey-kicks-off-with-horse-trading/

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48 Killed In Bomb Explosion in Shia Neighbourhood Of Afghan Capital

Aug 15, 2018

Nearly 50 people have been killed in a bomb attack in front of an educational center in a mainly Shia Muslim area of western Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.

"We can confirm the attack was caused by a bomber on foot. The bomber detonated himself inside the education center," said police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai.

The ministries of interior and health confirmed that at least 60 people were injured in the Dasht-i Barcha neighborhood.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast. But previous attacks on Shia targets in the area have been claimed by the Daesh Takfiri terrorists.

On August 3, nearly 40 people were killed and dozens more injured in a bombing and shooting attack on Shia worshippers in eastern Afghanistan near Pakistan's border. The attack was carried out in the city of Gardez, the center of Paktia province.

The Hazara Shia community, the poorest of the country’s ethnic groups, accounts for about 22 percent of Afghanistan’s population. Its members have been targeted in several large-scale kidnappings and killings across Afghanistan in the past, prompting demonstrations and sit-ins in Kabul and elsewhere.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said last year civilian casualties in sectarian attacks across Afghanistan, primarily against Shia mosques, had sharply risen.

Last December, dozens were killed in an attack claimed by Daesh on a Shia cultural center. Daesh has been growing in size and expanding its operations in the country over the past few years.

Daesh terrorists and Taliban militants also massacred dozens of civilians, mostly Shia Hazaras, during an attack on a village in the northern province of Sar-e Pul last August.

The rise of Daesh in Afghanistan has triggered concerns in a country that has already been torn apart by decades of Taliban-led militancy and the 2001 invasion of the United States and its allies.

Daesh, which has been crushed in Iraq and Syria, has reportedly managed to take recruits from Taliban defectors in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar, which borders Pakistan.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/08/15/571270/Afghanistan-Taliban-Kabul-Shia-Muslims--Hashmat-Stanikza

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Israel to build 20,000 new settler units in occupied Quds

Aug 16, 2018

The Israeli authorities have approved plans to construct 20,000 new settler units in the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds, once again defying international calls for the regime to stop its settlement activities in Palestinian lands.

Jerusalem al-Quds municipality announced Wednesday that it had agreed to building more than 20,000 new settler units along with industrial areas and hotels in the occupied Palestinian city, Israeli media said.

Under the plan, around 12,600 new living units and an additional 8,000 units will be built as part of “urban renewal initiative” in existing structures.

The project is expected to cost some 1.4 billion Israeli shekels (roughly $379 million).

Emboldened by the all-out support of US President Donald Trump, the Tel Aviv regime has been stepping up even further its settlement construction activities in the occupied territories in defiance of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2334.

The resolution states that “it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem al-Quds, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations.”

It calls on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem” al-Quds.

Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds during the Six Day War in 1967. It later annexed East Jerusalem al-Quds in a move not recognized by the international community.

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built illegally since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian lands.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

Palestinians have been holding regular anti-US protests since December 6, when Trump declared that Washington recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel and was moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city. Many say Trump's move has effectively killed any chances of further negotiations.

The dramatic shift in Washington’s Jerusalem al-Quds policy drew fierce criticism from the international community, including Washington's Western allies, and triggered protests against the US and Israel worldwide.

The United Nations General Assembly later voted by a resounding majority to reject Trump's Jerusalem al-Quds move.

Israel lays claim to the whole of Jerusalem al-Quds, but the international community views the ancient city’s eastern sector as occupied land and the Palestinians consider it their future capital.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/08/16/571314/Palestine-Israel-Jerusalem-alQuds-settlements

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Sex education can help curb underage marriages, says Wan Azizah

Melissa Darlyne Chow

August 16, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail told the Dewan Rakyat today that sex education could help curb underage marriages, on top of raising the minimum age of marriage to 18.

She said the focus needed to be on raising awareness within communities and among parents on the negative effects of child marriage.

“Marrying at a young age will deny them their rights to health, education, safety and self-development,” she said.

She said the ministry, through the National Population and Family Development Board and other stakeholders, had implemented reproductive health education as an extension to the material already taught in school.

“Through this programme, the children, especially the girls, will better understand their reproductive rights and won’t be drawn into immoral activities that could result in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs),” she said in reply to a question by Maria Chin Abdullah (PH-Petaling Jaya).

Wan Azizah (PH-Pandan) said other ways of preventing underage marriages included eradicating poverty, increasing literacy and upgrading the lives of those in rural areas.

She said improving families’ livelihoods would also allow them to choose not to marry off their children in order to ease their financial burdens.

On raising the minimum marriageable age to 18, Wan Azizah who is also women, family and community development minister, said various ministries as well as state governments were working towards this.

She said this would involve legislation including the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territory) Act 1984, Islamic Family Ordinance Laws in every state, the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976, as well as native customary laws in Sarawak.

Chin had earlier asked on the number of marriages involving minors in Malaysia and the government’s measures to prevent exploitation.

Wan Azizah said for Muslim couples, a total of 5,362 cases were recorded between 2013 and 2017, while applications for such marriages involving non-Muslims, according to the National Registration Department (NRD), totalled 2,367 cases within the same period.

“For such marriages involving Muslims, permission must be obtained from the shariah judges, and for non-Muslims, from the chief ministers of the respective states.”

Wan Azizah added that the highest numbers of underage marriages were recorded in Sabah, Sarawak and Kelantan.

The debate over child marriages was reignited following reports that a 41-year-old man in Kelantan had married an 11-year-old girl.

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2018/08/16/sex-education-can-help-curb-underage-marriages-says-wan-azizah/

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Arab World

 

Arab Media: Turkey to Inevitably Withdraw from Idlib

Aug 15, 2018

The Arabic-language al-Ahd news website reported that given the Syrian army's serious determination to liberate Idlib province after the Southern regions, including Dara'a and Quneitra provinces, Turkey is attempting to delay the military operations through diplomatic channels and events on the ground.

According to the report, Turkey emphasizes its commitment to the Astana agreement and de-escalation in Syria in talks with the Russians and Iranians on one hand, and keeps the terrorists as a winning card in any negotiations by supporting merger of terrorist groups in Syria, on the other hand.

It noted the failure of Ankara's attempts to form a 'National Army' of the terrorists to fight against the Syrian army and its defiance of Astana agreement, and said but the chain of victories of the Damascus army is evidence to the fact that Ankara will eventually be forced to surrender to the Syrian army's will and withdraw from Northern Syria.

The report said despite Turkey's attempts, the Syrian army enjoys enough power to launch extensive operations in multiple fronts in the Southern, Eastern and Western parts of Idlib irrespective of the Turkish army's checkpoints.

Also, given the large area of operations and existence of a large number of international roads, the Syrian army units enjoy the power to stage massive operations to obtain their objectives, liberate the cities and towns and drive a wedge between them and regions occupied by the terrorists, it added.

The Syrian army dispatched more troops and military hardware to Northern Syria and pounded terrorists' positions in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib on Wednesday to pave ground for a swift advance against terrorists in Idlib.

The army sent fresh convoys of military vehicles and well-equipped soldiers to Northern Lattakia and al-Ghaab Plain, reinvigorating the government forces' combat capabilities and setting up new positions.

Also, a military convoy, including hundreds of army men and a large volume of equipment, left Southern Syria for Northern Hama.

In the meantime, the army's artillery and missile units opened heavy fire at the positions of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) and other terrorist groups in the town of al-Latamina and the village of Ma'arkaba in Northern Hama and also in the villages of al-Mushayrafa, Um al-Khalalil, Badama, al-Tineh and al-Lubideh in Eastern and Western Idlib.

Terrorists suffered heavy casualties and their military hardware sustained major damage in the attacks.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970524000863

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Syria rebel group accused of abduction, murder of key activist

by Zeina Khodr

Aug 16, 2018

Since the conflict in Syria began in 2011, the government has been accused of "forcibly disappearing" tens of thousands of people, many of them peaceful protesters who later died or were killed in detention.

Armed opposition groups have also been responsible for the disappearance of activists in areas they control, but on a much smaller scale.

Among them was rights activist Razan Zaitouneh - one of the faces of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

Zaitouneh, who founded the Violation Documentation Centre, was wanted by the Syrian government for her role in peaceful protests calling for its downfall.

Her centre kept track of atrocities and abuses committed not just by the government but the armed opposition, too.

In December 2013, Zaitouneh, along with three of her colleagues, including her husband, disappeared after being taken at gunpoint from their office in Douma.

Back then, the town on the outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus, was surrounded by government forces but it was under the control of the opposition.

Fellow activists say Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam), arguably the most powerful group at the time, saw 36-year-old Zaitouneh as a threat. She promoted a civil administration and a secular state which were not in line with the group's ideology.

"We, the Violations Documentation Centre in Syria, are sure the Army of Islam kidnapped them," said Mazen Darwish, a Europe-based Syrian lawyer and a colleague of Zaitouneh.

"We have proof that Razan was in their jails and under their direct supervision. This was until the beginning of 2017 as we were able to trace her movements. Regrettably after the beginning of 2017, information was cut and we have no knowledge about Razan."

Jaish al-Islam, however, denied any involvement or knowledge of the kidnap.

"Jaish al-Islam was not the only faction in Douma at the time," Hamza Bayraqdar, a spokesperson for the group said.

"There was in the entire region forces from the Martyrs of Douma, forces of the Ghouta rising, the Islamic Union of the Levant and even the Nusra Front were present."

Earlier this year, Jaish al-Islam was forced to surrender besieged Douma to government forces.

Full report at:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/08/syria-rebel-group-accused-abduction-murder-key-activist-180815125925019.html

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Syria, Russia in Final Coordination over Idlib Operation

Aug 15, 2018

The Arabic-language website of Sputnik quoted a military source as saying that the Russian and Syrian armies have been coordinating to launch the long-waited assault in Idlib, adding that a vast joint reconnaissance operation has been underway by Russian and Syrian experts in the last few days as the zero hour is arriving for the operation in Northwestern Syria.

The Arabic Sputnik further said that monitoring movements and gatherings of terrorists in the villages and towns in Southeastern Idlib has been among the joint reconnaissance operation conducted by the Russian and Syrian forces.

In the meantime, the Syrian army artillery units shelled heavily the positions of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) in the region, destroying their bases and positions, the website added.

In the meantime, a source in Idlib Peace Committee reported that a humanitarian corridor has been proposed by the Russian and Syrian Command to pave the ground for the evacuation of civilians before the operation in Idlib.

Earlier reports said that the army sent fresh convoys of military vehicles and well-equipped soldiers to Northern Lattakia and al-Ghaab Plain, reinvigorating the government forces' combat capabilities and setting up new positions.

Also, a military convoy, including hundreds of army men and a large volume of equipment, left Southern Syria for Northern Hama.

In the meantime, the army's artillery and missile units opened heavy fire at the positions of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at and other terrorist groups in the town of al-Latamina and the village of Ma'arkaba in Northern Hama and also in the villages of al-Mushayrafa, Um al-Khalalil, Badama, al-Tineh and al-Lubideh in Eastern and Western Idlib.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970524000955

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US Army Sends Huge Arms Cargo to Bases in Eastern Syria

Aug 15, 2018

SOHR said that the coalition has dispatched over 250 truckloads of arms, ammunition and military equipment, including armored vehicles, to the SDF-held regions under a plan to develop and equip its bases in Eastern and Northeastern Syria.

It further said that the convoy has been sent directly to the bases of American and other western states' military forces on the Eastern bank of the Euphrates River to be supplied to the SDF at a later stage.

SOHR disclosed on Tuesday that the US military started developing and equipping its three operational bases in Hasaka and Aleppo provinces and is also building a new large base in regions that are under the control of the SDF.

SOHR said that the US-led coalition started developing and equipping its military airports in Northeastern Syria after it sent a large military convoy to al-Shadadi airport in Southern Hasaka.

It went on to say that the US forces also started developing Ein al-Arab (Kobani) base in Northeastern Aleppo and another base in Tal Tamar region in Northwestern Hasaka.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970524000805

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Popular Uprising Reported against Turkish Occupiers in Northern Syria

Aug 15, 2018

Tens of civilians took to the streets in Afrin and chanted slogans against Turkish occupiers and their militant allies.

The uprising came after Ankara-backed militants captured a number of young men in al-Mahmoudiyeh North of the town. 

In the meantime, terrorists of Ahrar al-Sharqiyeh and Eastern Ghouta terrorists engaged in heavy fighting that inflicted several casualties on both warring sides.

Assassination of people and looting civilians' assets by the Ankara forces have enraged people in Afrin.

On Tuesday, the Ankara-backed militant groups conducted excavation again in Afrin region in Northwestern Aleppo, destroying Cyrrhus ( a city in ancient Syria founded by Seleucus Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals) known among Arabs as Nebi Huri and other historical sites in the region.

In the meantime, Director General for Antiquities and Museums of Syria Mahmoud Hammoud pointed to the major damage inflicted on Cyrrhus (Nebi Huri) that has been built in the fourth century BC, adding that the terrorists have ruined the pyramid-shaped mausoleum of Nabi Huri and built a cement building on top of it.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970524000973

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Saudi ready for receiving more than 5,000 pilgrims of martyrs families

15 August 2018

Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Hajj Guests Program, annually supervised by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance has completed its preparations for the reception of more than 5,000 guest pilgrims from all over the world, performing Hajj rituals this year.

The hosting program, ordered by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz, also includes the families of martyrs of Palestine, the Egyptian army and police, as well as the families of the martyrs of the Yemeni national and Sudanese armies.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/08/15/Saudi-ready-for-receiving-more-than-5-000-pilgrims-of-martyrs-families.html

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Qatar promises $15 bln direct investment in Turkey

15 August 2018

Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani flew to Turkey on Wednesday in a show of support of his ally as Ankara grapples with a currency crisis and a political row with the United States.

During his visit,  the Qatar Emir promised to make a $15 billion investment in Turkey amid Ankara's widening diplomatic standoff with the United States, a Turkish presidential source said.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thanisaid Doha “will make a 15 billion dollar direct investment in Turkey,” the source added.

The announcement came after the emir held lunchtime talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Earlier, Turkish media reports hinted that Turkey had been “frustrated” with Qatar for being silent on the crisis.

State media in Doha said Sheikh Tamim was travelling to Turkey for a "working visit."

A Qatar News Agency statement said the emir "will discuss with the Turkish president bilateral relations and means of strengthening the existing strategic cooperation between the two countries in various fields," said .

In a now-deleted report published on Tuesday, daily newspaper Takvim said that instead of supporting Ankara, Qatar had chosen to remain silent about what is happening in Turkey, although the latter was quick to support Doha during the Arab Quartet’s boycott.

The newspaper recalled what it described as “the great Turkish support” offered by Ankara to Doha at various levels following the Arab boycott who believe that Qatar is “supporting terrorism and interfering in the affairs of other countries and fostering relations with Iran.”

The newspaper stated that Turkey has sent dozens of cargo flights to Qatar and has stood side by side with Doha during the boycott.

Turkey has been rocked in recent days by a sharp decline in the value of its lira after US President Donald Trump tweeted last Friday that Washington was doubling aluminum and steel tariffs for Ankara.

Washington's move came during an ongoing dispute over Turkey’s holding of an American pastor for two years. In response, Erdogan has called for a boycott of US electrical goods.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/08/15/After-Turkish-frustration-with-Qatar-Emir-Tamim-visits-in-show-of-support.html

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Pakistan

 

Twitter threatened with shutdown in Pakistan

Jamal Shahid

August 16, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Micro-blogging website Twitter, a platform that has in recent years become integral to political parties, stands in danger of being banned because of the government’s inability to force the tech giant to bend to its notions of what is suitable for public consumption or falls within the constitutional realm of legitimate free speech.

On Wednesday, the Pak­istan Telecommuni­cation Authority (PTA) informed the Senate Standing Com­mittee on Cabinet Secre­tariat that while Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms complied with requests from the government to block objectionable content, Twitter did not oblige.

“Out of a hundred requests from Pakistan to block certain offensive material, roughly five per cent are entertained. Twitter ignores all the remaining requests,” Director General of PTA’s Internet Policy and Web Analysis, Nisar Ahmed, told the committee.

The committee met for a briefing on penalties fixed by the PTA against ‘derogatory’ comments spreading through social media targeting the state, its citizens and its institutions.

Mr Ahmed informed the committee about last week’s Islamabad High Court (IHC) directive to the regulatory body to serve Twitter with a final notice, asking the website to respond to requests from Pakistan or face the risk of being blocked in the country.

“The PTA has conveyed the court’s concern to Twitter, but has not got a response. The regulatory authority will implement court orders if Twitter does not respond to the final notice,” said Mr Ahmed. He further explained to the committee members that the IHC had taken notice of the increase in objectionable content posted on social media websites.

The official told the committee that Twitter was not as popular in Pakistan as Facebook, and so they had little to lose if Twitter was blocked. However, the platform would lose business if it was shut down in the country, the senior official told the members. “The court is determined to teach Twitter a lesson — they will lose business,” he added.

He informed the committee that Facebook had been extremely cooperative with Pakistan, and had obliged when asked to block content that might be perceived offensive.

“In fact, Facebook has appointed a focal person to address the concerns from Pakistan. The focal person is a Pakistani national who understands the traditions, customs and concerns of our society. YouTube is now also offering a local version in the country and removing offensive material, and the website is no longer an issue,” the official elaborated.

According to the PTA, social media websites such as Facebook, YouTube and DailyMotion now saw Pakistan as an emerging information technology market, which they could tap into to exponentially grow their businesses.

“These companies do not only wish to keep growing in Pakistan, but have also planned to bring underdeveloped cities and towns out of — through training programmes — their current states to put them on a par with developed areas,” Mr Ahmed concluded.

When Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf information sectary Fawad Chaudhry was contacted for his views on the matter, he said that his party was against any kind of censorship on free media.

“Those who do not wish to see objectionable and offensive content should not search for such content. Social media is not just for recreation and entertainment. There are jobs and households associated with the business. Blocking social media websites will have both social and economic impacts,” said Mr Chaudhry, who is tipped to become information minister in the new government.

In the past, similar attempts have been made to block the spread of social media: Facebook was banned in the country twice in 2008 and then again in 2010. In September 2012, following government directions, the PTA blocked access to YouTube throughout the country and it remained inaccessible for over two years.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1427274/twitter-threatened-with-shutdown-in-pakistan

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Imran’s ascent to PM Office all but certain

Syed Irfan Raza

August 16, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan’s victory in the election for the office of prime minister on Friday has become almost certain as a rift persisted in the grand opposition alliance over the candidature of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president Shahbaz Sharif on Wednesday.

Mr Khan, whose nomination papers were filed by Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid in the NA secretariat after senior PTI leaders formally decided to nominate their chairman at a party meeting held at his Banigala residence, may take a lead of 30 to 35 votes in the Friday election for the office of prime minister.

While efforts were under way to remove differences between the PML-N and the Pakistan Peoples Party over Mr Sharif’s candidature, if the two major opposition parties stick to their stance till Thursday noon (the deadline for filing of nomination papers for PM’s election) it may have an effect on the fate of the grand opposition alliance and even on the upper house of parliament.

The PPP has asked the PML-N to review its decision and nominate someone else as a joint candidate of the 11-party opposition alliance in place of Shahbaz Shairf, who was said to have passed derogatory remarks against PPP co-chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari in the recent past. However, the PML-N came up with a strong reaction to the demand and threatened that this could lead to change of the leader of the opposition and the chairman of the Senate.

Former NA Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, whose term came to an end on Wednesday after PTI nominee Asad Qaiser took the oath of office, and senior PPP leader Syed Khursheed Shah are said to be in close contact to resolve the differences.

When contacted, PML-N’s leader Mushahid Hussain dismissed the suggestion that the party should change their nominee for the office of prime minister. “It has been decided that Shahbaz Sharif will remain our nominee,” he said.

He said the grand opposition alliance was formed to ensure fair and free elections in the country but if the PPP stuck to its stance the alliance would collapse.

Mr Hussain said it had already been decided that the candidate for the prime minister’s slot would be nominated by the PML-N and those for the office of speaker and deputy speaker of the National Assembly would be from the PPP and the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), respectively. “The decision was specific to parties and not to individuals. And it is our right to nominate anyone from out party,” he argued.

“For the elections of National Assembly speaker, we have supported PPP’s candidate Khursheed Shah, but the PPP is asking us to change our nominee,” he added.

“We do not let anybody dictate us. If Mr Zardari is to decide on PML-N matters, then they [PPP] should permit Shahbaz Sharif to decide their matters,” he said, adding that even “martial law administrators” did not dictate the PML-N that way.

The PML-N leader said the leader of the opposition in the Senate should also be changed, as the majority party should have its opposition leader. Presently, he said, the PML-N was the largest party in the upper house of parliament. “If the PPP’s decision is not changed, then even the Senate chairman can be changed,” he warned.

Mr Hussain, however, said it had been conveyed to his party that only Mr Zardari would not vote for Mr Sharif but the PPP chairman and its candidate for NA speaker would vote for Mr Sharif.

The PML-N was earlier irked by the PPP’s decision to abstain from taking part in the protest staged by the former during the election of NA speaker and deputy speaker.

PPP leader Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar told Dawn that both parties were in contact and the issue would be resolved amicably.

“We have almost one and a half day before the PM’s election and we are hopeful that the PML-N will review it decision and change its candidate,” he said.

He said it was the PPP’s collective decision that the party would not support Mr Sharif who had issued hostile statements against the PPP leadership in recent past. However, Mr Khokhar said the PPP would never want split in the grand opposition alliance and efforts would be made to find a middle way to resolve their differences.

“We want that joint opposition should move forward,” he maintained.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1427277/imrans-ascent-to-pm-office-all-but-certain

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ISI, MI officials included in earlier JIT by Nisar: CJP

August 16, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar said on Wednesday that when two representatives of as many intelligence agencies — the Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence — were included in the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe allegations made in the Panama Papers case, it was not done so for the first time.

In fact, the CJP continued, the same officers from the two intelligence agencies had earlier been included in another JIT constituted on the directives of then interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. He was in all probablity referring to the body formed to probe a news report on a security meeting published in Dawn.

The chief justice made the observation during the hearing of a fake accounts case by a three-judge SC bench.

It is worth noting that the body that probed the news report was an inquiry committee — as per the notification of the interior ministry issued on Nov 7, 2016 — and not a JIT .

At the last hearing on Monday, the apex court had hinted at appointing a high-powered JIT in the fake accounts case but without representation from the ISI or MI and said that maybe the members from these agencies had been included in the JIT to give a Tarka (spice) the to probe.

The observation had come when Federal Investigation Agency Director General Bashir Memon recalled that earlier the JIT in the Panamagate case was headed by FIA Additional Director Wajid Zia and included representatives from the State Bank of Pakistan, National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Securities and Exchange Com­mission of Pakistan (SECP), MI and ISI.

On Wednesday also the chief justice observed that the court would take a decision on the constitution of the JIT in the fake accounts case after hearing arguments from the counsel for the accused on Aug 28.

Chaudhry Nisar’s response

Former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar explained that the JIT on the Panamagate scam had been formed under the orders of a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court. Commenting on the remarks made by the chief justice, he recalled that inclusion of military officers in the JIT was part of that decision.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Chaudhry Nisar said that he and the interior ministry neither had any role in the formation of the JIT, nor had they been consulted in this regard.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1427290/isi-mi-officials-included-in-earlier-jit-by-nisar-cjp

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IHC takes NAB to task over plea for adjournment

August 16, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court turned down on Wednesday a request by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for adjournment for two days the hearing on petitions seeking suspension of an accountability court’s judgement convicting former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar in the Avenfield properties reference and for their subsequent release.

NAB additional deputy prosecutor general Muzaffar Abbasi requested a division bench of the IHC comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb to adjourn the hearing for two days since the bureau wanted to file written arguments.

The bench will continue hearing till Thursday after which the IHC chief justice will constitute benches for the week commencing on Aug 20. The court expressed its displeasure over the filing of an application seeking the adjournment. Justice Aurangzeb remarked that the petitions were filed much earlier and there was sufficient time for NAB to file its reply.

Justice Minallah expressed disappointment over NAB’s request and said that it was not expected from a professional organisation like NAB to seek adjournment on such grounds. He, however, offered the prosecutor to argue his case after the defence counsel would conclude their arguments.

At the outset, the bench took notice of the remarks falsely attributed to Justice Minallah and Justice Aurangzeb and termed these “contemptuous”. “Since yesterday some quarters have been circulating false statements attributing to this bench,” observed Justice Minallah, adding: “We have taken serious note of it and referred this matter to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).”

He observed that “for any society fair trial of any person is of paramount importance. There will be no fair trial when the courts would start giving whimsical decisions”.

The judge remarked that if someone formed an opinion that the decision would not be according to their whims and started spreading fabricated information to deter the bench, it would be fatal for the administration of justice and right to fair trial. He made it clear that the court would not spare persons behind this contemptuous act and this would also not affect the hearing of the instant case in any way.

During the course of hearing, the counsel of the Sharif family — Khawaja Haris Ahmed and Amjad Pervaiz — concluded their arguments.

Khawaja Haris claimed that the prosecution had failed to shift onus of proof on the accused. He said the investigation did not even ascertain the price of property at the alleged time of purchase, adding that this was the case of assets beyond known sources of income for which there should be a comparison of income and value of property.

When the bench asked if there was any evidence related to the sources of income of Mr Sharif, the counsel said NAB had produced a cash-flow chart of the alleged income of the former premier, but during the investigation they never asked Mr Sharif to explain his sources of income, adding that instead of a joint investigation team which authored the chart, it was produced before the trial court by NAB.

The counsel argued that the cash-flow chart did not fulfil the requirement of ascertaining known sources that was required to be compared with the value of assets to ascertain guilt.

Justice Minallah remarked that a layman said that since property belonged to a child, the father was required to justify, but the legal precedence said otherwise where the initial burden of proof was on the prosecution.

When Justice Aurangzeb asked if Maryam Nawaz was the beneficial owner of Avenfield apartments, her counsel Amjad Pervaiz replied that she was not the beneficial owner.

The judge pointed out that the documents of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) showed that she was the beneficial owner.

The counsel said that these documents were not procured in accordance with the relevant provisions of the law and, therefore, these should not be relied upon. In response to a court query about alleged fake trust deed prepared by Maryam Nawaz, he claimed that the trust deed was original, but the joint investigation team (JIT) termed it bogus on the basis of an expert’s report.

According to the counsel, forensic expert Robert William Radley was not a font expert but he opined that the report was fake since it was written in Calibri font in February 2006 when it was not commercially launched.

The counsel insisted that the font was available in 2006 and Mr Radley was also among its so many users.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1427284/ihc-takes-nab-to-task-over-plea-for-adjournment

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Pakistani envoy calls on Saudi air force commander in Riyadh

Aug 16, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of Pakistan to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Khan Hasham Bin Siddique called on Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) Commander Lieutenant General Turki Bin Bander Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, at its headquarters on Wednesday.

Lieutenant General Turki Bin Bander welcomed the ambassador and talked about the special bond between the two brotherly countries.

Furthermore, the lieutenant general showed satisfaction over the level of professional cooperation between Pakistan Air Force and Royal Saudi Air Force, a message received here from Riyadh said.

The ambassador thanked him for his role in strengthening cooperation between the two countries and lauded the professional prowess of Royal Saudi Air Force and its effective role in ensuring the security of the kingdom.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/08/15/pakistani-envoy-calls-on-saudi-air-force-commander-in-riyadh/

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Opp alliance on tenterhooks after PPP refuses to vote for Shehbaz

Aug 16, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The alliance of the joint opposition parties faces a major threat as the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has decided in principle not to vote for Shehbaz Sharif, the nominee of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) for the office of prime minister.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari Wednesday morning told journalists at the National Assembly that his party had conveyed its reservations to the PML-N over the nomination of Shehbaz Sharif for the election of the top slot and asked the former ruling party to replace its candidate.

The PML-N, however, stands firm on Shehbaz’s candidature as the party went ahead with the submission of his nomination papers for election as Leader of the House (prime minister) with the National Assembly Secretariat.

Senior PML-N leaders Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal and Dr Darshan submitted the nomination papers of the PML-N president.

While the PPP and PML-N have locked horns over the nominee for opposition’s candidate for prime minister’s slot, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has submitted his nomination papers for the post of prime minister.

Imran’s nomination papers were submitted by Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed on Wednesday with Rasheed acting as the nominator and Syed Fakhar Imam as the guarantor.

Imran is set to take oath on August 18 (Saturday) while his cabinet will take oath on August 20 (Monday).

PML-N Secretary Information Senator Mushahidullah Khan told Pakistan Today that his party had submitted the nomination papers of party president and now it is up to the PPP leadership to vote for the PML-N candidate as per the decisions taken by the joint action committee of the alliance.

When asked to comment over the reservations expressed by Bilawal, Mushahidullah Khan said that if Bilawal has to take decisions on behalf of the PML-N, then he should empower Shehbaz Sharif to take decisions for the PPP.

Mushahidullah warned that if the PPP did not submit to the decisions taken by the alliance, then the PML-N may move to replace Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani.

On the other hand, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its allied parties have already tightened their grip over the election for the next prime minister as its nominees comfortably won elections of National Assembly speaker and deputy speaker on Wednesday.

The victory margin remained thin, reflecting that a united opposition may still prove to be a major challenge for the PTI.

While Asad Qaisar secured victory over his rival for the election of the speaker with a margin of 30 votes, Qasim Khan Soori won by a margin of 39 votes against his rival from opposition benches.

A source in the PPP said that party leadership was scheduled to hold a meeting to take a final decision about the election of the prime minister among various options available to the party.

“Though Bilawal has flatly rejected any possibility for the PPP to vote for Shehbaz Sharif, the party’s senior leadership will sit to take its final decision on Wednesday night. Options available include abstaining to vote if the PML-N doesn’t change its candidate,” the source said, adding that the final decision would be taken by the party chairman in consultation with the party president and other senior colleagues.

However, Rana Tanvir Hussain, a senior PML-N leader, out-rightly rejected the idea of reviewing his party’s candidature as the same had been decided between the opposition alliance.

“The PPP had been conveyed about the nomination of Shehbaz Sharif in time. When we shared the name, they did not object to it. Their eleventh-hour objection reflects that something else is brewing,” he added.

When asked to elaborate, Rana Tanvir said that perhaps the PPP leadership was feeling the heat from some other quarters which could be a reason for their reluctance to support the PML-N nominee.

Leader of the Opposition in Senate Sherry Rehman also confirmed her party’s reservations over the nomination of Shehbaz Sharif.

“Parliamentary party meeting had agreed that opposition alliance will nominate speaker from PPP, deputy speaker from MMA and prime minister from PML-N as part of the opposition. We have to forge consensus within the party so PPP has conveyed its reservations on the name of prime minister announced by PML-N,” she added.

PPP leader Chaudhry Manzoor told Pakistan Today that his party’s leadership had timely conveyed its reservations to the PML-N leadership but the inflexible attitude of the PML-N leadership was causing a major damage to the opposition alliance.

He said that the language Shehbaz had been using against his party’s leadership was a major reason for their reluctance to carry forward the opposition alliance and if the PML-N needs support from the PPP, it should change its candidate for the PM’s election.

When asked whether there was a change of heart by the PPP at the last moment as suggested by Rana Tanvir, Manzoor said that there was nothing new as the PPP’s stance was consistent and clear.

“Please recall that when Asif Zardari had visited Raiwind during the 2014 sit-in by the PTI, the PPP co-chairman did not meet with Shehbaz. So we are clear on our policy that the PML-N president is not acceptable for the PPP,” he added.

When asked why his party was still insisting on statements made in the past even though Shehbaz had apologised for his statements made against Zardari, Manzoor rejected the notion saying that apology was no remedy for derogatory remarks made time and again.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/08/15/opp-alliance-on-tenterhooks-after-ppp-refuses-to-vote-for-shehbaz/

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‘Meet the Pakistani Donald Trump’: South African Comedian Brands Khan, Trump as ‘Twins’

Aug 16, 2018

South African comedian Trevor Noah has compared Pakistan’s would-be Prime Minister Imran Khan to US President Donald Trump, stressing that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief’s background story was “unnervingly similar” to that of Trump’s, wherein the two belonged to privileged families and were known for their good looks.

Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” famed television host, who is known for never shying away from calling out world politics and the hypocrisy that it brings along, in a recent episode, has called Khan an “even more tan version of Trump”.

The 34-year-old comedian, has said that media also portrayed Khan and Trump similarly. A clip from the show features a political commentator stating that Khan seemed to contradict himself during speeches just like the US president had also often been accused of.

In a throwback interview presented on the show, Khan describes his lavish lair to “not be that lavish” after all and says that he has tried to make it “comfortable” for himself. Noah then points out at a picture of Khan’s old bedroom that he believes is a “part of Pakistan’s Trump Tower”.

The political commentator also went on to compare Trump and Khan’s career choices, stating that “while Trump was doing pizza adverts, Khan was promoting Pepsi”.

“Trump has three marriages in the tabloid, so did Khan. Trump thinks Islam is bad, where Khan lives is Islamabad,” joked Noah, while also pointing out the similiarity of words in Imran and Trunp’s speeches. He also said that just before the two were elected in their respective countries, they were entrapped in sexual harassment scandals.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/08/15/meet-the-pakistani-donald-trump-trevor-noah-brands-imran-khan-trump-as-twins/

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US wants Pakistan to lead regional peace efforts

Muna Habib

AUGUST 16, 2018

United States Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia Alice G Wells has said that America looks to Pakistan to take a leading role in bringing peace to South Asia.

She was referring to Pakistan’s contribution to the ongoing peace talks between the Afghan Taliban and the Kabul government while speaking at an event to mark Pakistan’s 72nd Independence Day at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC.

“We have always looked to Pakistan to take a leading role in bringing peace to the region,” she said while acknowledging Pakistan’s significant sacrifices in the ongoing war against terrorism.

She highlighted the common goal between Pakistan and the US in building a stable and prosperous South Asia. “The relationship between the US and Pakistan has rested on the strong foundation of close ties between the people of two countries. Our militaries have worked together against common enemies and the countries have much to gain from this partnership.”

Wells also spoke about the crucial education and business partnerships established between the two countries that provided “economic opportunities for trade and investment” for both economies.

The US, she said, looks forward to working with PM-in-waiting Imran Khan.

The remarks came a day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo congratulated Pakistan on its 72nd Independence Day. In a press statement released earlier, Pompeo said: “In the years ahead, we hope to further strengthen these bonds, as we continue to look for opportunities to work with the people and government of Pakistan to advance our shared goals of security, stability and prosperity in South Asia.”

The felicitation highlighted the US commitment to rebuild the fraught relationship that is viewed by many as spiralling downward, especially after a recent announcement that the Trump administration had suspended the International Military Education and Training (IMET) facility for Pakistan.

US politicians also conveyed their felicitations to the Pakistan Embassy.

Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce said, “There was no greater bridge between our countries than the Pakistani diaspora. The community has long kept me and others informed about US-Pakistan relations.”

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/284116/us-wants-pakistan-to-lead-regional-peace-efforts/

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South Asia

 

5 Bangladesh Islamists get death sentence

AUGUST 14, 2018

Five hard-line Islamists were sentenced to death on Monday by a special Bangladeshi tribunal for committing crimes against humanity during the Liberation War in 1971.

A three-member panel of Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal led by Justice Shahinur Islam handed down the capital punishment to the five men for raping at least 15 women of Itabaria village of Patuakhali during the Liberation War.

They were also sentenced to death for killing 17 people, vandalism, abduction and torture in the same village in 1971.

https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-international/5-bangladesh-islamists-get-death-sentence/article24684004.ece

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Ghani orders immediate probe into the deadly attack in Kabul city

Aug 16 2018

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has ordered an immediate probe into the deadly attack in Kabul city that left dozens of students dead.

The Office of the President, ARG Palace, in a statement said President Ghani has strongly condemned the attack and has instructed the relevant security authorities to launch a probe to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the incident.

He also instructed the authorities to assist with the victims and families of those who lost their loved ones in the attack.

The death toll from last evening’s deadly suicide attack has climbed to at least 48 people, the Ministry of Public Health officials said.

The officials further added at least 67 people who have sustained injuries in the attack, have also been shifted to the hospitals for the treatment.

The incident took place this evening in the West of Kabul city in Dasht Barchi area after a suicide bomber targeted an education center.

No individual or group has so far claimed responsibility behind the attack so far.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/ghani-orders-immediate-probe-into-the-deadly-attack-in-kabul-city-05772/

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Afghan forces foil deadly truck bombing in Gardez city

Aug 15 2018

The Afghan National Defense and security Forces foiled a plot by the anti-government armed militants to carry out a deadly attack in Gardez city by using a truck packed with explosives.

The provincial security chief of Paktia Dadullah Hotak said a truck packed with explosives was seized in Gardez city before the militants managed to use it in a deadly truck bombing.

He said the truck was sent from Miranshah in Pakistan and was confiscated during an operation this morning.

The security commandment of Paktia in a statement said the truck was confiscated from Banozai area of the city based on an intelligence tip off.

The statement further added that a large amount of explosives have been discovered from the truck after it was defused by the engineering team of the Afghan army.

According to the provincial security commandment, the militants wanted to detonate the truck bomb in an unknown location in Garde city.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-forces-foil-deadly-truck-bombing-in-gardez-city-05770/

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Mideast

 

Houthis: New child killing in Yemen ‘disgrace to Saudi, US’

Aug 16, 2018

Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement says a recent deadly strike by the Saudi-led coalition on the northwestern Sa’ada Province, which massacred dozens of children, is a disgrace to the Riyadh regime and the US, the main arms supplier to the kingdom.

In an interview on Wednesday with Yemen’s al-Masirah, Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam criticized the United Nations for its inaction on the Saudi regime’s new instance of child killing.

Yemen, he said, does not pin its hopes on the world body for any effort towards ending the Saudi-led war, but rather relies on its own nation and other freedom-seeking people to that end.

The August 9 Saudi air raid on Sa’ada hit a school bus as it drove through a market in the town of Dhahyan, sparking outrage from international human rights groups and UN officials.

The assault killed a total of 51 people, among them 40 children, and injured 79 others, mostly kids.

Over the past days, several Yemeni provinces have been witnessing protests against the Saudi regime and its Western partners.

On Wednesday, Yemeni demonstrators took to the streets in several provinces, including Sa’ada and Hajjah, with the participants denouncing the West’s support for the bloody aggression against the impoverished state.

The protesters also called on the international community to punish the Saudi-led coalition for its crimes against Yemeni civilians.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Revolutionary Committee of Yemen expressed anger at international organizations for remaining silent on the criminal actions of the Saudi regime and the coalition it leads in the bloody military campaign against the most impoverished Arabian Peninsula country.

It also reaffirmed Yemen’s support for any effort to find a peaceful solution to the conflict gripping the country.

UN orders probe

In a relevant development, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen Lise Grande visited a hospital in Sa’ada, where dozens of the wounded children were being treated.

She condemned the Sa’ada strike, saying that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had ordered an immediate independent probe into the incident.

“What we are seeing today are the victims of the air strike, the terrible human cost of the air strike and of the war. The entire world condemns this. The secretary general of the United Nations has demanded an immediate, transparent, comprehensive, independent investigation into this,” said the official.

“This is a tragedy and there can never, never, never be a justification for it,” she added.

Saudi Arabia and its allies launched a brutal war, code-named Operation Decisive Storm, against Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh, and crush the Houthis.

The offensive initially consisted of a bombing campaign, but was later coupled with a naval blockade and the deployment of ground forces into Yemen.

The imposed war, however, has so far failed to achieve its goals, thanks to stiff resistance from Yemeni troops and allied Houthi fighters.

Several Western countries have been supplying Saudi Arabia with advanced weapons and military equipment.

Yemen is now suffering from the worst humanitarian crisis in the world due to the Saudi aggression and siege.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/08/16/571317/Yemen-Saudi-Arabia-Saada

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New evidence to back UN’s finding about Tehran role in nurturing al-Qaeda

16 August 2018

A United Nations report mentioned that ISIS still has as many as 30,000 members distributed almost equally between Syria and Iraq and is supported by the al-Qaeda organization, which has become much stronger in some places due to increased Iranian support.

According to the Associated Press, the report which was prepared by UN experts on Monday, and presented to the UN Security Council, reveals that despite the defeat of ISIS in Iraq and most of Syria, it is likely that a “secret copy” of the extremists group will exist in both countries, with supporters in Afghanistan, Libya, Southeast Asia and West Africa.

Experts said the global al-Qaeda network is much stronger than in some locations, including Somalia, Yemen, South Asia and the African Sahel area.

Experts said al-Qaeda leaders in Iran had become more capable and working with al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, and they were highlighting his authority more effectively than before, particularly with regard to events in Syria.

Iran increases support for  al-Qaeda   

The report by UN experts on Iran’s increased support for al-Qaeda reinforces several documents and reports that Iran is working to bring together ISIS and its pockets in Syria to rehabilitate and build al-Qaeda by using its strategic and historical ties with the organization’s leaders.

A report published in the Sunday Times in January by both writers Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clarke said al-Qaeda today has rebuilt itself to the point where it can summon tens of thousands of elements with the help of Iran.

Tehran is working to annex al-Qaeda remnants, coordinating with al-Qaeda military leaders who have traveled to Damascus to assemble the ranks of ISIS fighters and establish a “new base” similar in to its Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah militias.

Appropriating credit for ISIS defeat

Since controlling the last strongholds of ISIS group in Syria and Iraq, Iran’s media machine has been trying to appropriate the defeat of the extremists group to Tehran, its allies and militias, and has tried to diminish the role of the US-led international coalition in defeating ISIS.

It also tried to falsify the facts by appropriate credit for the defeat of ISIS, where Iranian propaganda ignored the role of the Revolutionary Guards and its militias in the emergence of ISIS, as a result of suppressing the peaceful Syrian revolution and the release and feeding of extremist groups.

Iran lost more than 3,500 fighters according to semi-official statistics and tens of billions of dollars to save Assad in 2012 in battles against the Syrian opposition.

Al-Qaeda leaders in Iran

Adrian Levy and Kathy Scott-Clarke have confirmed that the commander of the elite Quds force, affiliated to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Qassim Suleimani, has played the most prominent role in managing the relationship with al-Qaeda since he provided refuge for the family of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda leaders after they fled Afghanistan in 2001 and built a residential complex  at the heart of a Revolutionary Guard training camp in Tehran.

Iranian support and funding played an important role in reviving al-Qaeda, which had only 400 members when it carried out the September 11 attacks in the United States in 2001. The organization was fragmented because of the US invasion of Afghanistan, but it recovered with the emergence of ISIS  group in 2013.

Suleimani playing al-Qaeda card

According to the Sunday Times, Qassim Suleimani, who uses his relations with al-Qaeda in his maneuvers, is used to play on all sides of the conflict to keep Iran at the forefront by using  all extremist groups cards.

According to the report, among the evidence, unpublished notes and interviews with senior members of al-Qaeda and the Osama bin Laden family show how Suleimani is mastering the relationship with the Sunni extremist organization, described by Iranian official circles as “a terrorist takfirist.”

He added that al-Qaeda’s military leaders had been stationed in Tehran until 2015, when Suleimani sent five of them to Damascus, including Mohammed al-Masri, with the task of contacting fighters and leaders of ISIS, to encourage them to split and unite al-Qaeda according to US intelligence reports.

The reports confirmed that al-Masri was “the most experienced and capable operational planner among non-detainees in the United States or in any allied country.”

The information adds that the coordination between al-Qaeda leaders and ISIS is through the military commander of ISIS Saif al-Adl, a former Egyptian army colonel who entered into a major row with al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who wanted to unify al-Qaeda and ISIS to fight in Syria, but Saif al-Adl ordered his fighters to wait until ISIS is defeated.

An ideological meeting

Experts believe that Iran’s relationship as an extremist Shiite religious ruling regime with extremist Sunni organizations such as al-Qaeda and even Tehran’s political and military ties with both Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood, is not seasonal, as some imagine.

The ideology of Khomeini’s regime is influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood scholar Sayyid Qutb, from whom pro-Tehran Shiite groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the rest of the militias in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen have adopted the concept of “jihad”, hence it is an ideological and historical  as well as the confluence of political interests, which makes the relation between the Iranian regime and Sunni extremist groups a permanent relationship.

Bin Laden documents

The Abottabad documents obtained by US forces from the hideout of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden following his killing in 2011 in Pakistan and published by the CIA last November revealed details of part of Iran’s relationship with al-Qaeda.

Of the 470,000 documents obtained from Bin Laden’s cache, 19 were devoted to this large archive of al-Qaeda’s high profile ties with the Iranian government.

A senior member of al-Qaeda said in a letter that Iran was ready to provide all that al-Qaeda needed, including funds and weapons, and training camps for Hezbollah in Lebanon in return for the terrorist group attacking US interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, according to an investigation by Thomas Jocelyn and Bill Rajev of the Institute for the Defense of Democracies about the 19-page details of al-Qaeda's links to Iran, from the Abottabad documents.

According to the document, the Iranian intelligence services, in some cases, facilitated the issuance of visas for the elements of the al-Qaeda in charge of carrying out operations, and at the same time has housed other groups.

“Iran’s intelligence services agreed to provide al-Qaeda operatives with visas and facilities and to harbor other members of al-Qaeda,” said another document, which was negotiated with Abu Hafs al-Mauritani, an influential al-Qaeda member, before the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Iran  fined

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/08/16/Evidence-supporting-a-UN-report-on-Iran-s-growing-support-for-al-Qaeda.html

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Yemen criticizes UN humanitarian coordinator Grande for siding with Houthis

15 August 2018

Yemen’s Minister of Information Muammar al-Eryani criticized on Wednesday the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, Lise Grande, for taking sides with the Houthi militia backed by the Iranian regime.

Minister al-Eryani criticized the UN mission’s dependence on misleading information which is provided by the coup militias, without referring to the Yemeni legitimate government.

He stressed that the Houthi militias deliberately target civilians directly in an attempt to influence the local and international opinion.

Grande, who insists on performing her tasks from Sanaa, despite the calls of the legitimate government for her to move to Aden, had met during the past few days with Mahdi al-Mashat, the head of the so-called Supreme Political Council of the Houthi militia, one of the wanted figures by the Arab coalition backing the Yemeni legitimate government.

It is noteworthy that several calls have been issued to international organizations to move from Sanaa to the temporary capital of Yemeni legitimacy in Aden, amid accusations that they are being blackmailed and under threat by the militia.

The United Nations has recently chosen its former humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, Lise Grande, to assume the same task in Yemen, succeeding Jamie McGoldrick, who was also accused by the Yemeni legitimate government of being biased towards the Houthi militias.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/08/15/Yemen-s-Minister-al-Eryani-criticizes-UN-coordinator-Grande.html

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Houthis target civilians after Yemeni army advances in Hajjah

15 August 2018

Yemeni army forces, aided by the Arab coalition, are advancing towards the center of the Hayran District in the Hajjah Governorate and are now in control of large areas of Hajjah.

A source in the army said an entire family was killed in the town of Al-Sada in Hayran, northwest of Yemen, after the Houthis shelled the town using heavy weapons.

The source added that the Houthis are targeting civilians in Hajjah due to the losses they’re suffering from in fighting fronts as they’ve lost positions which were under their control in coastal areas of Hajjah.

Their losses in Hayran come after suffering heavy losses in the districts of Hardh and Midi.

Following violent confrontations, the army forces have advanced towards the Ahem triangle which is around six kilometers away from the district’s center.

The military operations in the coastal districts of Hajjah are significant because they contribute to securing navigation.

The spokesman for the Arab coalition in Yemen Colonel Turki al-Malki said Yemeni forces are advancing towards Hayran after bypassing Houthis and destroying their fortifications.

A number of the district’s towns and farms were liberated from the Houthis by the army that’s aided by the coalition’s forces.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/08/15/Yemeni-army-advances-in-Hajjah-Houthis-respond-by-targeting-civilians.html

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Israel whitewashing deadly 2014 attack on Gaza: Rights group

Aug 15, 2018

A leading human rights group has accused Israel of ignoring and covering up criminal activity in its investigations after the Tel Aviv regime clears its troops of any wrongdoing in an attack that claimed the lives of scores of Palestinians during the devastating 2014 Gaza war.

On Wednesday, the Israeli army announced that after what it claimed to be a comprehensive investigation, its military advocate general determined “a criminal investigation is not warranted into the incidents that occurred during the fighting.”     

The probe was launched into the August 1, 2014 attack in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, where over 150 Palestinians were killed during a daylong attack of heavy and indiscriminate shelling by Israeli forces. 

Israeli Human rights group B'Tselem slammed the report, referring to it as a cover-up.

“The military advocate general proves again that no matter how high the number of Palestinians killed is, nor how arbitrary the circumstances of their killing by the military was, the Israeli whitewash mechanism he heads will find a way to bury the facts,” it said.

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas also condemned the Tel Aviv regime's statement.

“This emphasizes the unfairness of the Israeli inquiry and the need for an international investigation committee to probe Israel’s crimes in Rafah and in all the Gaza Strip and Palestinian lands,” said Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri.

Wael al-Namla, who lost three family members in the attack, said the Israeli military's verdict were “crazy,” adding that his toddler son also lost both legs in the shelling that day.

“They were bombing us from the ground and air randomly. They did not just violate the human rights, they forgot that there were humans in Rafah... I want an independent international investigation that can guarantee my rights,” he added.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/08/15/571299/israel-probe-rafah-2014

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Saudi warships strike northwestern Yemeni village, six civilians dead

Aug 15, 2018

At least six civilians have lost their lives when Saudi military vessels deployed in  the Red Sea launched a barrage of missiles at a residential area in Yemen’s northwestern province of Hajjah as the Riyadh regime continues with its atrocious military campaign against its crisis-hit southern neighbor.

Local sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah television network that the warships fired the projectiles at al-Sadah village in the Hayran district of the province on Wednesday afternoon.

The sources added that there were women and children among the fallen victims.

Later in the day, scores of Saudi-backed Yemeni militiamen loyal to resigned president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi were killed and injured when a powerful bomb explosion ripped through their position in the al-Zobab region of Yemen’s southwestern province of Ta'izz.

Yemeni governor escapes assassination attempt in Aden

Meanwhile, the governor of Ta’izz province has survived a roadside bomb that struck his convoy in the port city of Aden

A local security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Ameen Mahmoud was targeted in the Enma neighborhood of the city, which is located approximately 420 kilometers (260 miles) south of the capital Sana'a, on Tuesday following a meeting with a number of high-ranking Saudi-backed officials.

The official added that the governor escaped the explosion with minor wounds, but a number of his companions were killed during the incident.

Ambulances quickly rushed to the bombing site, while security forces were deployed around the area.

No group has claimed the responsibility for the attack yet, but local Yemeni sources blamed al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula militants for being behind such explosions.

The assassination attempt came as the city of Aden has been recently witnessing a growing number of assassinations of security officials and Muslim preachers.

The Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights announced in a statement on March 25 that the Saudi-led war had left some 600,000 civilians dead and injured since March 2015.

The United Nations says a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in need of food aid, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger.

A high-ranking UN aid official has warned against the “catastrophic” living conditions in Yemen, stating that there is a growing risk of famine and cholera there.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/08/15/571268/Saudi-warships-strike-northwestern-Yemeni-village-six-civilians-dead

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Israeli forces detain another Palestinian reporter in occupied West Bank

Aug 15, 2018

Israeli military forces have reportedly arrested a reporter for the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) in the central part of the West Bank, as the Tel Aviv regime is pressing ahead with a heavy-handed crackdown on members of the press in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The PBC announced in a statement that Ali Dar Ali was detained when Israeli forces broke into his home in the central West Bank city of Ramallah, located 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of Jerusalem al-Quds, in the early hours of Wednesday.

The broadcasting corporation then demanded the immediate release of Dar Ali, and held the Israeli regime fully responsible for restrictions on Palestinian media outlets.

“These measures are intended to silence the Palestinian voice and deviate the public opinion, so the Israeli regime can go ahead with its crimes without any opposition,” the statement noted.

“Such measures will not deter us from carrying out our national duties vis-à-vis our cause,” it said in conclusion.

On July 30, Israeli military forces arrested four correspondents from a Palestinian television channel affiliated to the Islamic resistance movement, Hamas.

The Palestinian Prisoners' Society said the journalists of the Arabic-language al-Quds television network were detained in Ramallah.

The rights group identified them as Alaa al-Rimawi, Muhammad Ulwan, Qutaiba Hamdan, and Husni Abed al-Jalil Injas.

The Israeli military said in a statement that clashes broke out during the arrest raid, and soldiers “responded with riot dispersal means.”

Those arrested “were suspected of incitement and involvement in the Hamas-backed al-Quds television channel,” the statement added.

Early last month, the Israeli regime imposed bans on the broadcast of al-Quds TV, and said it cannot be put on air inside the occupied territories.

Israeli minister of military affairs Avigdor Lieberman said on Monday that the television network can operate neither in Jerusalem al-Quds nor in other parts of Palestinian lands, and that the measure is in accordance with Israel’s so-called anti-terrorism law.

Israeli authorities have on occasions accused al-Quds television channel of being a “propaganda tool” for Hamas.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/08/15/571262/Israeli-forces-detain-another-Palestinian-reporter-in-occupied-West-Bank

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Israel clears soldiers in 2014 ‘Black Friday’ Gaza assault

August 15, 2018

JERUSALEM: Israel’s military on Wednesday closed its probe into a deadly 2014 assault in Gaza that followed the capture of a soldier despite a rights group’s charge of possible war crimes.

A military fact-finding mission into the “Black Friday” assault in which Amnesty says more than 130 Palestinian civilians died during the 2014 Gaza war showed that a criminal investigation was “not warranted,” the army said in a statement.

It acknowledged, however, that up to 70 civilians were “unintentionally killed as a result of attacks directed at military targets and military operatives.”

At least 42 Palestinian militants were also killed, the statement said, citing information gathered by the military advocate general.

The assault in Rafah, southern Gaza, on August 1, 2014 was launched after the kidnapping of Israeli Lt. Hadar Goldin shortly after the announcement of a cease-fire.

Two other soldiers were killed in fighting that led to the kidnapping in the Hamas-run enclave, while Goldin himself was later declared dead.

In response, the military implemented the so-called Hannibal Directive — a controversial procedure which allows for an intensive military response to secure the rescue of a captured soldier.

Israel bombed the city of Rafah and the surrounding area near the border with Egypt.

In 2015, Amnesty International said there had been “strong evidence” of war crimes by Israeli forces as it published a detailed analysis of the assault using eyewitness accounts, satellite imagery, photos and videos.

According to Amnesty, at least 135 civilians were killed in the air and ground assault.

Civilians had begun to return home due to the cease-fire announcement, Amnesty said, alleging “massive and prolonged bombardment began without warning while masses of people were on the streets.”

Israel’s statement on Wednesday said the use of force was “in accordance with operational considerations and with an effort to mitigate, as much as possible, harm to civilians.”

“No grounds were found to support the allegation that the objective of the (military’s) actions were to extract revenge following the abduction of Lt. Goldin,” it said.

The statement said there was no evidence that the Hannibal Directive led to “the use of force in a disproportionate or unrestrained manner.”

The decades-old directive has since been revoked by the military and replaced with a new one.

Full report at:

Seventy-three people were killed on the Israeli side, including 67 soldiers.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1357141/middle-east

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Southeast Asia

 

Blasphemy case points to rise of Islamic conservatives in Indonesia

AUGUST 16, 2018

Two years ago Meiliana, an Indonesian Chinese Buddhist living in the North Sumatra port town of Tanjung Balai, was chatting to a shopkeeper when talk turned to the rising volume of the loudspeaker at the local mosque.

A week later the town’s Bud­dhist temples were on fire and Meiliana’s family sought police protection as a rioting mob threw rocks at the house and eventually burned it to the ground.

This week, prosecutors demanded 44-year-old Meiliana serve 18 months in prison for blaspheming — more than four times the harshest jail sentence given to those convicted of destroying 14 temples and her home on July 29, 2016, in the worst anti-Chinese riots Indonesia has seen since the deadly 1998 Jakarta pogrom.

Caretakers of the town’s Al Makhsum mosque allege Mei­liana blasphemed when she told them the noise of the call to prayer was sending her “deaf” — an explanation she allegedly gave after her neighbour had duly delivered her request for the volume to be turned down to mosque caretakers, who then came to her house demanding an explanation.

Meiliana’s complaint is not an uncommon one in a country of more than 800,000 mosques, where even Vice-President Jusuf Kalla has in the past called for volume restraint. But hers apparently came amid ongoing protests by Muslim groups in the lively town, a short ferry ride from Singapore and Malaysia’s Port Klang, against a six-metre Buddha statue atop a local temple, and months before hardliners successfully lobbied for Indonesia’s most high-profile blasphemy conviction: that of Ahok, the former Christian ethnic Chinese ­governor of Jakarta.

Ferry Wira Padang, a lawyer for Meiliana from the North ­Sumatra Unity Alliance, told The Australian her client was devastated at the prosecution’s recommendation “because she did nothing wrong”, and that her case was very much like that of Ahok, who was jailed for two years in 2017 for blasphemy after a concerted campaign by Islamists.

“The majority of people in Tanjung Balai think that Meiliana did nothing wrong, just like the people of Thousand Islands were not offended when Ahok made his (2016 campaign) speech,” Ms Ferry said, referring by nickname to former governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.

“The people who took it as an insult were people who weren’t there and didn’t understand.”

Ahok’s blasphemy conviction and jailing is widely seen as an inflection point marking the rising influence of conservative Islamic forces in Indonesia — a trend confirmed last week when President Joko Widodo anointed a powerful conservative cleric as his running mate for elections due next April.

Ms Ferry said Tanjung Balai police were forced to act against Meiliana, despite an absence of evidence, after months of weekly post-Friday prayer protests outside the police station by Islamic hardliners apparently emboldened by the Ahok case.

“The arsonists and the people damaging people’s properties were only sentenced to one to four months. They’re the real criminals,” she said. Her client, meanwhile, had already spent almost three months in detention.

“There cannot truly be peace and stability if the government keeps appeasing the majority and oppressing the minority. If Meil­iana is convicted, the intolerants will be emboldened and do whatever they want to other religious groups.”

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/blasphemy-case-points-to-rise-of-islamic-conservatives-in-indonesia/news-story/7bb03c9bc18eb5a04aca0f42fed0f20b

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PAS reps blast Suhakam over criticism of Shariah caning for lesbians

16 August 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 — Some Muslim MPs criticised the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) today for denouncing a Terengganu Shariah court’s sentence against two women as humiliating and demeaning.

PAS secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said the commission must explain its remarks, claiming that these impugned the Shariah court’s standing.

“I strongly disagree with the statement made by Suhakam, and I feel such statements are contempt of court.

The Shariah court is a recognised legal system that has the jurisdiction to punish Muslims found guilty under the Shariah law,” he said.

The Terengganu Shariah High Court sentenced two women, allegedly lesbians, to a fine of RM3,300 and six strokes of the cane each after convicting them of homosexual activities last week.

https://www.malaymail.com/s/1663034/pas-reps-blast-suhakam-over-criticism-of-shariah-caning-for-lesbians

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China appears to be compiling a massive database of its Muslim citizens abroad to keep close tabs on them

AUG 15, 2018

Around 8 million Muslim Uighurs live in China's autonomous Xinjiang region, and are subjected to some of the world's strictest surveillance measures. That scrutiny extends beyond Chinese borders, according to scathing new reports.

China is creating a global registry of all its Uighur citizens overseas, and using intimidation tactics to obtain personal information such as license plate numbers, bank details, and marriage certificates, according to a report published Tuesday by the Daily Beast.

The report compiles testimony from several Uighurs living abroad in the US, pointing to evidence of a coordinated effort by the Chinese Communist Party to track members of the majority-Muslim ethnic minority.

A report published by Foreign Policy in April also heard similar stories from Uighur members living in Europe and the Middle East.

Demanding personal information from the diaspora - and threatening their families if they don't comply

One Uighur woman living in the US told the Daily Beast she received a strange message from her mother in China over WeChat, a popular instant messaging app that has been monitored by the government in the past.

The woman's mother claimed that China was creating a "new ID card system" for its citizens at home and abroad, and proceeded to ask for her daughter's license plate number, US bank details, and ID photo.

"From her unsettled voice, I can tell she has been pushed by the authorities," the woman said.

Chinese police have also directly demanded personal information from the Uighur diaspora in Europe via phone or WeChat, and threatened their families if they didn't comply, Foreign Policy reported in March.

The magazine obtained evidence of four cases where police demanded personal information, including diplomas, home and work addresses, proof of employment, ID cards, and photos from Uighurs in France.

One such conversation with a French Uighur in 2017, obtained by Foreign Policy, went:

"Hello, I am a police officer with the [redacted] police station.

"Let's have a good talk, otherwise it will be a lot of trouble to have to pay a visit to your father and mother's house every day."

Another Uighur man with American citizenship also described being interrogated by authorities multiple times during a visit to China. Several of his family members had also been questioned or detained by police in China.

He told Foreign Policy: "The whole of Xinjiang was like a prison. Once you get in, it's very hard to go out."

Uighur students enrolled in schools outside China also face government monitoring and control. Last year, Uighur students in Egypt were ordered to return to China or face threats to their family members, Radio Free Asia reported.

"They are forcing us to do this by locking up the parents of each student to make them go back," an unnamed source told RFA. "My own father has been detained for the last two months."

And in Xinjiang, surveillance that permeates almost every aspect of Uighurs' lives

Over the last few decades, Uighurs have committed several attacks in major Chinese cities. Beijing has used fear stoked from those attacks to ramp up its surveillance practices under the guise of counter-terror.

Today, government surveillance of Uighurs permeates almost every aspect of the minority citizens' lives: They are subject to extensive security checks in public areas, from gas stations to shopping centers.

Authorities rely on a network of 40,000 facial-recognition cameras to monitor Uighurs' activity, and recently began collecting DNA samples, fingerprints, iris scans, and blood types from all Xinjiang residents between 12 and 65 years old.

Hundreds of thousands of citizens have been forced into "re-education centers," which are essentially camps aimed at "rewiring the political thinking of detainees, erasing their Islamic beliefs and reshaping their very identities," according to the Associated Press.

Several rights group say there may be as many as 1 million Uighurs detained in these centers.

China's Uighur problem is facing international scrutiny

The US State Department also said in its annual human rights report in April that it had heard cases of Uighurs simply "disappearing," or "detained upon returning home after studying abroad."

Last Friday, a United Nations committee also said it was "deeply concerned" at reports of China's forcing Uighurs into "something that resembles a massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy."

Gay McDougall, a member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said: "We are deeply concerned at the many numerous and credible reports that we have received that in the name of combating religious extremism and maintaining social stability [China] has changed the Uighur autonomous region into something that resembles a massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy."

On Monday, China claimed there were "no such things as re-education centers," but acknowledged that it had detained people perceived by the state as extremists.

Hu Lianhe, a senior Communist Party official, told the UN committee: "The argument that 1 million Uighurs are detained in re-education centers is completely untrue. There are no such things as re-education centers."

Full report at:

https://www.businessinsider.in/China-appears-to-be-compiling-a-massive-database-of-its-Muslim-citizens-abroad-to-keep-close-tabs-on-them/articleshow/65415471.cms

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Will Muslim autonomy law in Philippines bring peace to region choked by decades of separatist conflict?

Quinn Libson

August 15, 2018

PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte unveiled legislation on Aug 6 that grants greater autonomy to Muslims in the southern region of the country and expressed a wish that the agreement will bring an end to one of Asia’s longest-running separatist conflicts.

“I hope [the law] will finally end the decades-old conflict that is rooted in the Bangsamoro’s fight for self-determination and the recognition of their unique identity,” Duterte said during his remarks at the unveiling ceremony before presenting a copy of the law to Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chairman of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The law, which is called the Bangsamoro Organic Law, was signed in late July, but has been anticipated for much longer. It is the legislative accompaniment to a 2014 peace agreement between Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino, and MILF. At the time, the law stalled when the Congress refused to pass it.

Under the deal, MILF agreed to drop its bid for full independence — which has been ongoing since 1978 in a conflict that has claimed the lives of roughly 150,000 people and mired the Mindanao region in a cycle of extreme poverty — in return for the right to self-rule.

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region will be led initially by a transitional authority made up of former separatist fighters before eventually being governed by its own parliamentary body.

The national government will retain its police and military presence in the area and combatants — the number of armed separatist rebels is believed to be in the tens of thousands — are set to put aside their weapons in phases.

Under the new law, the region would keep 75 per cent of taxes collected in the area and is set to receive an annual block grant allocation worth five per cent of the country’s national revenues, which comes out at around $1.1 billion.

The law also gives the region the right to its own judicial system made up of Islamic Sharia courts for cases involving Muslims.

The new region replaces an earlier attempt at a semi-autonomous zone that was created by a 1996 deal with another major rebel group, the Moro National Liberation Front. That deal was criticised for only benefiting a small number of people, and ultimately failed to bring about peace and development.

The Bangsamoro Organic Law has been heralded by UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, as a “landmark achievement on the road to lasting peace”.

It is widely hoped that over time, the changes laid out by the law will not only bring an end the existing conflict, but will also make armed struggle less attractive for the region’s young Muslims in the future — that they will choose to fight with political, rather than military might. The success of the 2014 peace deal and this supporting law depends on that choice.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1427118

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Malaysia PM approval rating at 71 percent but concern over race, religion seen growing

AUGUST 15, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysians have given Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad a 71 percent approval rating, but concern about ethnic and religious issues has risen since his election in May, an opinion poll showed on Wednesday.

The survey conducted in August by the independent pollster Merdeka Center is the first since Mahathir won a stunning election victory with promises of fighting corruption and reforming institutions.

Mahathir’s return from retirement - he had stepped down in 2003 after 22 years in power - inspired many Malaysians to vote for change and end the decade-long rule of Mahathir’s former protege, Najib Razak.

The Merdeka Center said 71 percent of the 1,160 voters surveyed for the August 7-14 poll said they were satisfied with Mahathir’s performance in his first 100 days in office.

It said 56 percent were satisfied with the overall performance of the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition in fulfilling its election promises, and 55 percent said they believed the country was headed in the right direction.

Those numbers were down slightly from a survey taken shortly after the new government was formed in May, indicating that post-election euphoria was dissipating, Merdeka said.

“Nonetheless, the present positive numbers underpin the general satisfaction expressed by voters on the performance of the new government on a number of issues since taking power in May 2018,” Merdeka said in a statement.

The state of the economy remained a key issue, with only 48 percent saying they were satisfied with how the new government intended to promote economic growth.

About 55 percent said they were dissatisfied with government measures to address the rising cost of living.

The survey also suggested Malaysians are more worried about ethnic issues and religious rights. Some 21 percent cited those issues as a concern in August, up from 12 percent in April.

Race and religion have always been sensitive issues in multi-ethnic Malaysia, where most members of the ethnic Malay majority are Muslim, while the members of the ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities are mainly Buddhist, Christian or Hindu.

Some groups representing Malays have said their rights are being eroded under the new government, and criticised recent appointments of non-Muslims to key posts.

Thousands of people attended a rally in the capital Kuala Lumpur last month to call for better protection of Malay rights.

About 44 to 45 percent of Malays in the survey said they were dissatisfied with government efforts to protect the position of Islam, the poll said.

Full report at:

https://in.reuters.com/article/malaysia-politics-mahathir/malaysia-pm-approval-rating-at-71-percent-but-concern-over-race-religion-seen-growing-idINKBN1L01BK?il=0

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As Umno closes door, PAS opens it’s to Najib

16 August 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 — While Umno may be in two minds over the continued prominence of Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Islamist PAS said it has no issues if the former prime minister wishes to aid its campaign for the Seri Setia by-election.

Although Najib is expected to either sit out or be given a reduced role in future polls contested by Umno, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said his party would welcome Najib if he wishes to stump for the Islamist party.

“We do not close our doors to any, it is up to their personal views whether it is necessary to come or not,” he was quoted as saying by Sinar Harian.

The Barisan Nasional Backbenchers’ website also categorised Hadi as openly lauding Najib’s potential participation in the PAS campaign for Seri Setia.

The Islamist party’s attitude stands in contrast to that of a growing section in Umno who want Najib to fade into the background over concerns that his criminal charges will further hurt the party’s reputation following its disastrous general election defeat.

Previously, Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa described Najib as becoming a “burden” on the party while former second finance minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani also criticised Umno’s decision keep Najib prominent.

Most recently, former Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz suggested that Najib be less vocal in order to distance himself from the party.

He also said Najib should give Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi room to lead the party as its new president, a suggestion that former Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin supported.

Najib was front and centre during the Sungai Kandis by-election and appeared to casual observers to still be a prominent party leader despite having resigned from all his posts in Umno. The party’s candidate eventually lost.

Yesterday, Najib insisted that he was not stiffling Zahid’s leadership and said he was simply outspoken as he must defend himself from public attacks.

The former Umno president is on trial for money laundering, criminal breach of trust, and abuse of power over a RM42 million transfer from a former 1MDB unit to his personal accounts.

Authorities are still investigating the former PM on various scandals related to 1MDB and may proffer additional charges.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/s/1662939/as-umno-closes-door-pas-opens-its-to-najib

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Rafizi: Govt needs to find middle ground between Malays, non-Malays

16 August 2018

KOTA KINABALU, Aug 15 — Having won the recent elections from the support of non-Malays and Malay fence-sitters, the Pakatan Harapan government should now find a middle ground between the two.

“We cannot run away from the face that PH won from the support of non-Malay voters, and the Malay Muslim support was less than those of PAS and Umno. Translating that situation now, it’s a dangerous situation to be in, due to the current political climate,” Rafizi Ramli said during an interview on Astro Awani tonight.

“We wanted to continue getting approval from our supporters, who had the mentality of ‘I want you to talk and see things the way I do’, while Umno and PAS can bring up Malay Muslim sentiments that plays to their gallery.

“But as a government, we have to bring two differing opinions to the middle. It’s inevitable that you will get criticised from all sides. But I have said that we have to be upstanding and honest from the beginning or else you will have a narrative that the Umno and BN will say is anti-Malay,” he said.

Rafizi, who is running for the PKR deputy presidency in the party election, said that the coalition had earned the trust of Malay fence-sitters who were dealing with rising costs of living, and gave PH the edge in marginal seats.

“We now have people that have different expectations and hopes for the government. It is important to keep in mind that those fence sitters voted for us because they were tired of seeing corruption and wastage while dealing with rising costs of living.

“We have to be careful because swings can happen very easily,” he said.

However, Rafizi also said that most of the public also did not have unrealistic expectations of the 100 day of the new government.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/s/1662857/rafizi-govt-needs-to-find-middle-ground-between-malays-non-malays

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Hudud law in Malaysia, Brunei and Aceh: How they stack up

16 August 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 — Amid PAS’ continued push to implement strict Shariah criminal penalties in the two states it currently controls, a research by the Penang Institute released today found variations in the prescriptions of its implementation across the three countries in South-east Asia despite belonging to the same Shafi’i Islamic school of thought.

The study, focusing primarily on hudud punishments on theft and robbery in Brunei, Aceh in Indonesia, and Malaysia’s Kelantan and Terengganu, revealed that although the law is supposed to be enforced in accordance with Islam, its implementation differs in all four jurisdictions.

While they each share similar basis from Quranic verses and hadiths, there are still several notable differences including the scope of jurisdiction, punishable offences and types of penalties.

Penang Institute analyst Nidhal Mujahid who wrote the report, said that today’s hudud law cannot simply be deduced as God’s commands.

“It is also unlike how it was previously done in the prophet's time because its implementation requires human reasoning (ijtihad).

“Hudud’s jurisdiction may be influenced by the difference in school of thoughts and jurists compatibility with local context and existing laws,” he said in the 14-page-long report.

Aceh, for instance, uses hudud law as a blanket ruling to both Muslims and non-Muslims, with the exception of those mentally-ill.

However, the Penang Institute study said Aceh does not have specific provisions to penalise theft and robbery.

It added that hudud law in Indonesia’s westernmost province limits punishment for those crimes to caning, fine, and jail terms.

Nidhal said heavier penalties often associated with hudud, such as amputation of limbs or stoning, are not provided for by Aceh’s existing laws.

“This is probably made possible due to the limited provision in the Helsinki Agreement, a form of human reasoning which eventually brought peace to Aceh,” he said.

The Helsinki Agreement refers to the August 15, 2005 accord signed by the Gerakan Aceh Merdeka which sought autonomous rule from Jakarta, and the Indonesian government to end conflict in the Sumatran province that had been taken place since 1976.

Nidhal said this also showed that hudud supporters in Aceh had carefully weighed in all factors, including the local context, prior to its implementation.

“If such pragmatism is acceptable in fine-tuning the implementation, is it not acceptable that hudud implementation can be deferred if it does not meet the syariah objectives?” he asked.

In Brunei, theft is an offence that “involves public space and or the lives of others”, therefore its penalties are applicable to both Muslims and non-Muslims.

First time offenders may have his or her hand amputated, while repeat offenders may additionally have their feet chopped off.

Brunei’s hudud law, however, grants an exception to its sultan for he is deemed “infallible” by the nation’s ordinances.

In Terengganu and Kelantan, the exact same punishments await Muslim thieves.

Generally, all Malaysian Muslims are bound by hudud law but the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Malay Rulers are protected by the Federal Constitution.

According to Article 182 (2), any proceedings involving the Yang di-Pertua Agong or Malay Rulers will need to go through the Special Courts.

The study added that the distinction can further be seen in the penalties for robberies and other serious crimes.

In Terengganu and Kelantan, for instance, offenders who murder and forcibly seized other’s properties not only face a death sentence, but they will also be crucified.

Those who rob others without causing hurt are required to pay financial compensation (diyat), on top of having their limbs chopped off, if the robbery value exceeds a certain threshold.

The financial compensation also varies in all three jurisdictions.

In Brunei, 1 Diyat is equivalent to 100 Dinar or 4250 grams of gold or B$340,000 (RM1,014,733).

In Kelantan, 1 Diyat is equivalent to 4450 grams of gold or RM 703,434, while in Terengganu, 1 Diyat is the equivalent of 100 camels or RM 590,000.

Hudud law has become a controversial topic in Malaysia since PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Awang Hadi first sought to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, also known as Act 355, in 2016 through a private member’s Bill.

The Marang MP has repeatedly said he is only seeking to empower the Shariah courts to mete out stricter penalties.

Critics have said that the proposed amendments to Act 355 are a backdoor to the implementation to hudud, to which Abdul Hadi has repeatedly denied.

Over the past two years, the Bill has been listed in the Dewan Rakyat’s Order Paper four times.

It, however, was left in limbo after deferred by former Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin in April to the next Parliamentary meeting, without reaching its turn to be debated.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/s/1662987/hudud-law-in-malaysia-brunei-and-aceh-how-they-stack-up

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India

 

Police Boosts Security near Mosques and Madrasas in the Muslim Areas in Pune for Eid-ul-Zuha

August 15, 2018

Pune: As the Muslims are gearing up to celebrate Eid-ul-Zuha on August 22, an elaborate security is provided of 59 mosques and 22 madrasas in the Muslim-dominated area in Pune.

This came after the Maharashtra Anti Terror Squad (ATS) has recovered eight country-made bombs and other explosives from the house of Sanathan Sanstha worker Vaibhav Raut which were supposed to be used during the Eid-ul-Zuha to spoil the atmosphere in the country.

Instructions have been given to all mosques and madrasas by police to install CCTV cameras, appoint volunteers for managing crowd during Eid, check visitors’ bags, set up metal detector doors and be alert about abandoned vehicles and articles.

https://www.siasat.com/news/police-boosts-security-near-mosques-and-madrassas-muslim-areas-1392506/

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Rifleman Aurangzeb’s parents hoist national flag in Indore

Aug 15, 2018

Parents of Army jawan Aurangzeb, who was killed by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir and who has been nominated for the Shaurya Chakra award posthumously, hoisted the national flag in Indore on Wednesday.

Speaking to the media later, they said they were proud of his sacrifice for the country.

Aurangzeb’s father Mohammed Hanif and mother Raz Begum unfurled the national flag at Regal Chowk on Independence Day in Indore in Madhya Pradesh.

They had been invited as chief guest for the flag hoisting ceremony by Apna Samooh, a local organisation.

“Aurangzeb was the son of the entire India and we take pride in his sacrifice. We are thankful to the government for honouring his sacrifice with the Shaurya Chakra,” Hanif said.

Aurangzeb, 24, who belonged to the 44 Rashtriya Rifles, was abducted and killed by terrorists in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir on June 14. He was abducted while he was on his way home to celebrate Eid.

“Terrorists tied my brave son’s hands. If his hands had been free, he would have killed at least four terrorists,” an emotional Hanif said.

“I feel proud and happy that my son will get the Shaurya Chakra for his sacrifice,” Raz Begum said. “My son used to tell me he wanted do something for the country, and with his martyrdom, he proved himself right.”

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/rifleman-aurangzeb-s-parents-hoist-national-flag-in-indore/story-QmXzN97x7l61OYVmEJC2XI.html

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Waqf Board celebrates Independence Day at Ambala office

Aug 15, 2018

AMBALA: The Haryana Waqf Board members celebrated Independence Day on Wednesday at its office in Ambala Cantonment area.

During the function, the national flag was hoisted by the chairman of the board Raheesha Khan.

During the function, children participated in various programmes.

Board chief Raheesha Khan said, “The Muslims in the country are equally happy and motivated on the Independence Day. The Jashan-E-Azaadi has been celebrated with full joy and happiness at the Haryana Waqf Board office in Ambala. I congratulate all the citizens on the behalf of the Muslim community and as chairman of Waqf Board and member of legislative assembly from Punhana region.”

While talking to media Raheesha said, “Some unsocial elements are trying to mislead the Muslim community and trying to disturb the peaceful environment of the nation and the state for their political means. I urge the Muslim community to be alert about such elements and contribute towards brotherhood and peace in our country. These elements do not belong to any society or party.

About Rakbar’s mob lynching in Alwar, Raheesha said, “Such incidents happened in my area as well, but our government and the chief minister handled the situation very well, and justice was served. We are passing our time here with peace and love, this is a conspiracy by some elements to defame PM Modi and the party. We are free Muslim citizens of free India, and we are feeling very safe here.”

About the debate on the slogan 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai', Raheesha said, “We do not have any problem in saying Bharat Mata Ki Jai, as we live in Bharat, and Bharat is our mother, and we have taken birth from this soil only. Muslims are equally patriotic, and Muslims have also sacrificed their lives for this country.”

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/waqf-board-celebrates-independence-day-at-ambala-office/articleshow/65415652.cms

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Condition of Muslims in India is far better than those in Indian sub-continent: Maulana Mahmood Madani

August 13, 2018

Maulana Mahmood Madani on Monday said that India Muslims were in better position than those in Indian sub-continent.

“The condition of Muslims in India is far better than those in Indian sub-continent. It is wrong to say that Muslims are endangered. Indian culture is different and it is the specialty of this culture that all are living together since ages,” said Madani during India TV’s 'Jai Hind with India TV' conclave.

Reacting to it, Congress leader Rashid Alvi, who was sharing the stage with Madani said the situation has "deteriorated" since Modi government has come to power. 

“I agree that Muslims in India are in a comfortable position, but the situation has deteriorated in the last four years,” said Alvi.

Full report at:

https://www.indiatvnews.com/elections/lok-sabha-elections-2019-condition-of-muslims-in-india-is-far-better-than-those-in-indian-sub-continent-maulana-mahmood-madani-457968

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Africa

 

Libya condemns 45 to death for 2011 demo killings

August 16, 2018

TRIPOLI  -  A Libyan court on Wednesday sentenced to death by firing squad 45 militiamen for killing demonstrators in Tripoli during the 2011 uprising against dictator Moamer Kadhafi, the justice ministry said.

Dozens of demonstrators were killed on August 21, 2011 when pro-regime militiamen opened fire near the Abu Slim district of the capital as rebel forces closed in on the capital, eight months into a NATO-backed revolt. The ministry said in a statement that 54 other defendants were sentenced to five years in jail, 22 were acquitted, and three others had died before the verdict was reached.

Kadhafi, who had ruled the country since a 1969 coup, was killed in October 2011 near his hometown of Sirte, south of the capital.

https://nation.com.pk/16-Aug-2018/libya-condemns-45-to-death-for-2011-demo-killings

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Nigerian soldiers protest as Boko Haram attacks surge

August 15, 2018

Disillusioned and exhausted, Nigerian troops battling a surge in Boko Haram jihadist attacks have reached breaking point, protesting less than six months before presidential polls.

The Nigerian army dismissed it as a "misunderstanding", but on Sunday hundreds of soldiers protested in the airport of Maiduguri, the capital of restive northeast Borno state, for several hours, shooting into the air and disrupting flights.

They were furious about a planned redeployment to a battlefront in the remote Lake Chad region after fighting Boko Haram jihadists for years without relief.

"We should not have been here for more than a year but this is our fourth year and still they are asking us to move to Marte," one of the protesting soldiers told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"We need some rest, we are war-weary and need to see our families."

The protest comes after a wave of bloody assaults on military bases in the northeast, forcing the army to retreat and marking a Boko Haram comeback.

The resurgence of violence has put pressure on Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who is seeking a second term in office and maintains that the country is now in a "post-conflict stabilisation phase."

Experts say that Nigeria hasn't faced such a serious threat from the jihadists since the peak of the insurgency between 2013 and 2015, when Boko Haram controlled swathes of territory in the country's northeast.

"There has been a military evolution akin to what we've seen in Syria and Iraq," said security analyst Yan St Pierre to AFP.

"Boko Haram's quality of attack is higher, the level of preparedness is higher."

The Nigerian military is overwhelmed by the "catastrophic security situation," said St Pierre, "they are relying on old tactics no longer applicable in the northeast."

Desperate to stop the onslaught, Nigeria's military chief Yusuf Tukur Buratai said that "cowardly" soldiers would be punished by death in a July 27 memo seen by AFP.

Soldiers who "abandon their positions" have the potential to "rubbish all the laudable gains made in the operations in the past 3 years against BHT (Boko Haram terrorists)."

Relentless attacks

The attacks are relentless. In less than a month, dozens of soldiers have died, though in the absence of any official death toll from the military, the number is feared to be much higher.

Boko Haram has traditionally launched attacks during Nigeria's rainy season between June and September when roads become water-logged, making it difficult for troops to do patrols.

The more mobile jihadists seize the opportunity to restock their arsenal of weapons from war-torn Libya and Mali through Nigeria's porous borders.

Sanda Kime, who is part of the militia force fighting against Boko Haram in Lake Chad, said the latest attacks were because of "huge arms supplies" secured by the jihadists.

"They are now better armed which makes them more daring," said Kime.

The garrison town of Monguno is on high alert after Boko Haram sent out a warning this week that it would attack on August 22 during the Muslim Eid festival, said residents and aid workers.

Similar threats were sent to troops in Askira and Uba towns, security sources said.

On Monday, the United Nations announced the suspension of humanitarian work by its agencies in Monguno from August 19 over security concerns, according to an internal memo seen by AFP.

Easy hideouts

Fighters loyal to IS-affiliated Boko Haram factional leader Abu Mus'ab Al-Barnawi are believed to have carried out most of the raids.

The faction is mostly based in the Lake Chad area and in areas south of Maiduguri including Benisheikh and Buni Yadi in nearby Yobe state.

In June, Nigerian fighter jets bombarded Al-Barnawi's Tumbun Gini enclave in the Lake Chad area, forcing him to flee southwards to a forest near Benisheikh, 80 kilometres south of Maiduguri, according to sources with deep knowledge about the group.

"He moved his operational base to the Benisheikh area from where he planned the attacks on military bases," said a source who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals.

Al-Barnawi, the son of Boko Haram 's deceased founder Mohammed Yusuf, has found sanctuary in the Lake Chad region, an area fertile in vegetation and fish that is difficult for security forces to penetrate.

Full report at:

https://nation.com.pk/15-Aug-2018/nigerian-soldiers-protest-as-boko-haram-attacks-surge

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Jordan court charges five with ‘terrorism’ after deadly raid

15 August 2018

Five suspected extremists arrested during a deadly raid in a town northwest of Amman were charged with terrorism offenses in Jordan’s state security court on Wednesday.

Three alleged extremists were killed and five others detained on Saturday when security forces raided a building in the town of Salt.

The operation, which also left four members of Jordan’s security forces dead, was linked to a bomb blast Friday that killed a policeman and wounded six others at a music festival in a nearby town.

The court’s prosecutor accused the five detainees of “carrying out acts of terrorism that led to the death of a person and the demolition of a building” and “conspiracy to carry out terrorist acts”.

It also charged them with the “possession and manufacturing of explosives for use in illegal activities” and the “possession of weapons and ammunition for use in illegal activities”.

Under the 2006 Prevention of Terrorism Act, the charges are punishable by hanging.

Interior Minister Samir Mubaideen said Monday that the extremists supported the ISIS and “followed its takfiri ideology”.

The militants were holed up in an apartment in a four-storey residential block in Salt. They blew up the apartment as security forces encircled them and exchanged heavy fire.

Medical sources said 10 people were wounded in the raid, including members of the security forces and residents of the building used as a hideout.

Jordan, a small desert kingdom, has been the target of several extremist attacks. A shooting rampage in 2016 claimed by ISIS killed 10 people including a Canadian tourist in Karak, known for its Crusader castle.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/08/15/Jordan-court-charges-five-with-terrorism-after-deadly-raid-.html

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Compromised police to blame for al Shabaab attacks, says Mandera MP

Aug. 15, 2018

Mandera South MP Adan Kullow has accused police officers of taking bribes and permitting terrorists to carry out attacks in Kenya.

Al Shabaab terrorists have staged many attacks in Mandera and other counties where they target both police and civilians.

They use explosives, that are planted in roads, and guns with which they kill or injure their victims. They also destroy communications masts.

Kullow alleged on Wednesday that security personnel along the Kenya-Somalia border are compromised and that this has also resulted in radicalisation through teachings at mosques.

Regarding an attack early this week, that left three dead and two others critically injured, Kullow said KDF soldiers took more than 12 hours to respond. In that incident, a vehicle ran over a landmine believed to have been planted by al Shabaab militants.

“There’s laxity along the Kenya-Somalia border. Security officers take bribes ... they have been compromised," the MP told reporters after visiting the victims. He did not give evidence.

“Security apparatus around here are enough but officers are not doing enough. They should team up [and assist each other] when such disasters happen," he added.

Earlier on Wednesday, Linda Boni Operation director Joseph Kanyiri accused residents of terror hotspots in Lamu, Tana River and Garissa of "hiding" terrorists.

Kanyiri said the locals alert al Shabaab militants on the movement of security officers whereas others hide terrorists when officers embark on searches.

He cited recent terror attacks in the region, and blamed them on information leaked to the militants.

More on this: Linda Boni boss accuses Lamu locals of leaking intel to al Shabaab

Speaking in Mandera’s Elwak town, acting deputy county commissioner Paul Kemei asked residents to alert security agents about any kind of danger.

He noted this will enable police to prevent attacks and arrest criminals before offences are committed.

Mandera South sub-county sits on the part of the border where the government is constructing a wall to separate the two countries.

In 2013, the government deployed the military to Mandera to disarm people who armed themselves, fearing police would not end the insecurity menace.

Full report at:

https://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2018/08/15/compromised-police-to-blame-for-al-shabaab-attacks-says-mandera-mp_c1803298

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Nigerian soldiers protest as Boko Haram attacks surge

2018-08-15

Disillusioned and exhausted, Nigerian troops battling a surge in Boko Haram jihadist attacks have reached breaking point, protesting less than six months before presidential polls.

The Nigerian army dismissed it as a "misunderstanding", but on Sunday hundreds of soldiers protested in the airport of Maiduguri, the capital of restive northeast Borno state, for several hours, shooting into the air and disrupting flights.

They were furious about a planned redeployment to a battlefront in the remote Lake Chad region after fighting Boko Haram jihadists for years without relief.

"We should not have been here for more than a year but this is our fourth year and still they are asking us to move to Marte," one of the protesting soldiers told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"We need some rest, we are war-weary and need to see our families."

The protest comes after a wave of bloody assaults on military bases in the northeast, forcing the army to retreat and marking a Boko Haram comeback.

The resurgence of violence has put pressure on Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who is seeking a second term in office and maintains that the country is now in a "post-conflict stabilisation phase."

Experts say that Nigeria hasn't faced such a serious threat from the jihadists since the peak of the insurgency between 2013 and 2015, when Boko Haram controlled swathes of territory in the country's northeast.

"There has been a military evolution akin to what we've seen in Syria and Iraq," said security analyst Yan St Pierre to AFP.

"Boko Haram's quality of attack is higher, the level of preparedness is higher."

The Nigerian military is overwhelmed by the "catastrophic security situation," said St Pierre, "they are relying on old tactics no longer applicable in the northeast."

Desperate to stop the onslaught, Nigeria's military chief Yusuf Tukur Buratai said that "cowardly" soldiers would be punished by death in a July 27 memo seen by AFP.

Soldiers who "abandon their positions" have the potential to "rubbish all the laudable gains made in the operations in the past 3 years against BHT (Boko Haram terrorists)."

Relentless attacks

The attacks are relentless. In less than a month, dozens of soldiers have died, though in the absence of any official death toll from the military, the number is feared to be much higher.

Boko Haram has traditionally launched attacks during Nigeria's rainy season between June and September when roads become water-logged, making it difficult for troops to do patrols.

The more mobile jihadists seize the opportunity to restock their arsenal of weapons from war-torn Libya and Mali through Nigeria's porous borders.

Sanda Kime, who is part of the militia force fighting against Boko Haram in Lake Chad, said the latest attacks were because of "huge arms supplies" secured by the jihadists.

"They are now better armed which makes them more daring," said Kime.

The garrison town of Monguno is on high alert after Boko Haram sent out a warning this week that it would attack on August 22 during the Muslim Eid festival, said residents and aid workers.

Similar threats were sent to troops in Askira and Uba towns, security sources said.

On Monday, the United Nations announced the suspension of humanitarian work by its agencies in Monguno from August 19 over security concerns, according to an internal memo seen by AFP.

Easy hideouts

Fighters loyal to ISIS-affiliated Boko Haram factional leader Abu Mus'ab Al-Barnawi are believed to have carried out most of the raids.

The faction is mostly based in the Lake Chad area and in areas south of Maiduguri including Benisheikh and Buni Yadi in nearby Yobe state.

In June, Nigerian fighter jets bombarded Al-Barnawi's Tumbun Gini enclave in the Lake Chad area, forcing him to flee southwards to a forest near Benisheikh, 80km south of Maiduguri, according to sources with deep knowledge about the group.

"He moved his operational base to the Benisheikh area from where he planned the attacks on military bases," said a source who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals.

Al-Barnawi, the son of Boko Haram's deceased founder Mohammed Yusuf, has found sanctuary in the Lake Chad region, an area fertile in vegetation and fish that is difficult for security forces to penetrate.

Full report at:

https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/nigerian-soldiers-protest-as-boko-haram-attacks-surge-20180815

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North America

 

Plano to Cancel Recall Vote After Official's Anti-Islam Post

Aug. 15, 2018

PLANO, Texas (AP) — A recall election to decide whether to remove a North Texas city council member who made an anti-Islam social media post will be canceled following a judge's ruling that the recall petition didn't have enough signatures.

District Judge Mark Rusch ruled Tuesday that Plano used the wrong number of signatures to certify the petition calling for the removal of City Council member Tom Harrison, the Dallas Morning News reported. Rusch found that a flawed copy of the city's charter was used to determine the signature quota.

Harrison issued a statement after the ruling, apologizing to the city "for the turmoil they've been put through." His term expires in May.

The group Our Plano One Plano launched the recall petition after Harrison shared a social media post in February that included a photo of a student wearing a hijab. The post said, "Share if you think Trump should ban Islam in American schools."

City officials criticized Harrison, his post and other questionable comments on minority groups that came to light in the aftermath. Mayor Harry LaRosiliere had called Harrison "an utter embarrassment."

Harrison's attorney, Art Martinez de Vara, said the city will save an estimated $100,000 by not funding the special election.

Our Plano One Plano official Ann Bacchus expressed disappointment at the ruling.

"It did not change the message of Plano voters who wanted him out of office," she said. "There is no place in Plano for bigotry."

The City Council will formally vote Saturday to cancel the election.

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/texas/articles/2018-08-15/plano-to-cancel-recall-vote-after-officials-anti-islam-post

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First Somali-American poised to become Congress member

August 15, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS, US: The US’ first Somali-American state legislator is poised to set the same historic mark in Congress after winning a crowded Democratic primary in Minnesota to replace Rep. Keith Ellison.

State Rep. Ilhan Omar captured the Democratic nomination for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District on Tuesday, defeating a former Minnesota House Speaker and longtime state senator. It puts another notch in the meteoric political rise of a woman who spent her childhood in a Kenyan refugee camp and immigrated to the US at age 12 before winning her seat in the state House in 2016.

A Republican has not won the heavily liberal Minneapolis-area congressional seat in many decades, making Tuesday’s primary the de facto election. The seat opened when Ellison launched a last-minute bid for attorney general, leaving the seat after six terms.

Supporters cheered Omar on when she took the stage to claim victory.

“Two years ago, many of us gathered to make history by electing me to the Minnesota House. And I am more than excited that we are gathered here again to make another history, because we’re going to Washington!” Omar told them.

Omar also paid tribute to the young volunteers who helped turn out the vote that gave her a decisive plurality in the crowded race.

“This victory belongs to the college interns, the high school interns who showed up before everyone else did, and who left after everyone was gone,” she said.

Omar and Rashida Tlaib — a Palestinian-American who won a Detroit-area Democratic primary in Michigan last week and is running unopposed in November — are poised to become the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress when they are sworn in.

Omar has leaned heavily on her biography, positioning herself as the candidate best equipped to counter President Donald Trump in Congress. She defeated former House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and state Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, among other candidates, to advance to the November election.

Omar won her state House seat in 2016 after defeating a well-regarded, 44-year incumbent in a Democratic primary. She has served just a single term in the House, stuck in the minority and boasting few legislative accomplishments.

But she brought undeniable star power to the race, riding the fame from her history-making election to a spot on the cover of Time magazine and a cameo in a recent Maroon 5 music video.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1357171/world

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White House condemns Turkey’s tariffs on US imports

15 August 2018

The White House on Wednesday condemned Turkey’s doubling of tariffs on US imports in response to Washington's moves on imports of Turkish goods.

Tensions between the two NATO allies have been strained amid Turkey’s detention of an American pastor and other diplomatic actions. The United States doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum last week, which contributed to a tumble in the Turkish lira.

US vice president Pence said Turkey would do well not to test Trump’s resolve

“The tariffs from Turkey are certainly regrettable and a step in the wrong direction. The tariffs that the United States placed on Turkey were out of national security interest. Theirs are out of retaliation,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters.

She added that even if pastor Andrew Brunson was released, tariffs would remain in place on steel.

Sanders lamented that Turkey had treated Brunson, “who we know to be a very good person and a strong Christian who has done nothing wrong, very unfairly, very badly.”

When asked about the impact of the US spat with Turkey on the country’s currency, the spokeswoman said Washington was “monitoring the situation.”

But she added: “Turkey’s economic problems -- those are a part of a long-term trend, something of its own making and not the result of any actions the United States has taken.”

The White House stance appeared to give Turkish authorities little incentive to work for the release of Andrew Brunson, a pastor on trial in Turkey on terrorism charges and whose case Turkish officials have said was a matter for the courts.

The dispute is one of several between the NATO allies, including diverging interests in Syria and US objections to Ankara’s ambition to buy Russian defence systems, that have contributed to instability in Turkish financial markets.

While the Brunson matter appeared far from being resolved, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan got a shot in the arm from Qatar’s Emir, who approved a package of economic projects, investments and deposits after the two met in Ankara.

The Qatari money will be channelled into banks and financial markets, a Turkish government source told Reuters.

The move by Turkey’s Gulf ally offered further support to a lira rally after the Turkish central bank tightened liquidity and curbed selling of the currency.

The lira has lost nearly 40 percent against the dollar this year, driven by worries over Erdogan’s growing control over the economy and his repeated calls for lower interest rates despite high inflation.

Currency meltdown

The dispute with the United States, focused on a tit-for-tat tariff row and Turkey’s detention of Brunson, helped turn the currency’s steady decline into meltdown.

It touched a record low of 7.24 to the dollar early on Monday, rattling global stock markets and threatening the stability of Turkey’s financial sector.

President Donald Trump doubled tariffs on Turkish metals exports to the United States last week prompting Turkey, which says it will not bow to threats, to raise tariffs on US cars, alcohol and tobacco by the same amount on Wednesday.

The White House called the Turkish response a step in the wrong direction and signalled a hard line on Brunson’s release.

“Pastor Andrew Brunson is an innocent man held in Turkey & justice demands that he be released. Turkey would do well not to test @POTUS Trump’s resolve to see Americans who are wrongfully imprisoned in foreign lands returned home to the United States,” Vice President Mike Pence said in a tweet.

Speaking in Washington, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders made clear the United States had no plan to remove the steel tariffs if Brunson were released though she said it could remove sanctions imposed on two senior Turkish officials.

The United States sanctioned Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, blaming both for being involved in the arrest and detention of Brunson, who is accused of backing a coup attempt against Erdogan two years ago, something he denies.  

Conciliatory note

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu struck a somewhat conciliatory note, saying Turkey was ready to discuss its issues with the United States as long as there are no threats.

Despite the political tensions, the lira rebounded some 6 percent on Wednesday, strengthening to around 6.0 to the dollar.

There was also optimism about better relations with the European Union after a Turkish court released two Greek soldiers pending trial. Cavusoglu said ties with the bloc, long strained, were on a firmer basis and had started normalizing.

A banking watchdog’s step to limit foreign exchange swap transactions also helped the currency.

“They are squeezing lira liquidity out of the system now and pushing interest rates higher,” said Cristian Maggio, head of emerging markets strategy at TD Securities.

“Rates have gone up by 10 percent ... The central bank has not done this through a change in the benchmark rates, but they are squeezing liquidity, so the result is the same,” he said.

The lira firmed as far as 5.75 against the dollar on Wednesday and stood at 5.90 at 2058 GMT.

The finance minister will seek to reassure international investors on Thursday in a conference call for which a ministry official said some far 3,000 people had signed up.

The chief executive of Turkey’s Akbank said the banking sector remained strong and the measures taken to support the market had started to have an impact, adding there was no

withdrawal of deposits.

There was no resolution to the Brunson case in sight. On Wednesday, a court in Izmir, where Brunson is on trial, rejected his appeal to be released from house arrest. An upper court had yet to rule on the appeal, his lawyer told Reuters.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2018/08/15/White-House-condemns-Turkey-s-tariffs-on-US-imports.html

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Turkey court rejects new appeal to free detained US pastor

15 August 2018

A Turkish court on Wednesday rejected a new appeal to free US pastor Andrew Brunson, whose detention has sparked a major row between Turkey and the United States, local media reported.

The court in the western city of Izmir ruled that Brunson, who faces 35 years in jail over terror and espionage charges, will remain under house arrest, the state television TRT reported.

Brunson’s jail term had been converted to house detention for health reasons.

His detention has soured relations with Washington, with US President Donald Trump doubling aluminum and steel tariffs for Turkey in punitive actions against Ankara’s refusal to release Brunson.

The crisis has sent the Turkish currency into free fall since Friday.

“The president has a great deal of frustration (about) the pastor not being released,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday.

The statement came after US embassy charge d’affaires Jeffrey Hovenier visited Brunson in Izmir.

Brunson’s lawyer Cem Halavurt told AFP that a higher court would also discuss his appeal for Brunson’s release.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2018/08/15/Turkey-court-rejects-new-appeal-to-free-detained-US-pastor.html

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Turkey increases tariffs on some US imports amid escalating feud

15 August 2018

Turkey announced Wednesday it is increasing tariffs on imports of certain U.S. products, escalating a feud with the United States that has helped trigger a currency crisis.

In a decision announced in the Official Gazette, Ankara said it was imposing extra tariffs on imports of products including rice, vehicles, alcohol, coal and cosmetics.

Turkey's Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Twitter that the tariffs on certain products were increased "within the framework of the principle of reciprocity in retaliation for the conscious economic attacks by the United States."

The Turkish lira has dropped to record lows in recent weeks, having fallen some 42 percent so far this year. The currency has now stabilized at around 6.50 lira against the dollar.

Investors are worried not only about Turkey's souring relations with the U.S., a longtime NATO ally, but also Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's economic policies and the country's high debt accumulated in foreign currencies.

Turkey has accused the United States of waging an "economic war" as part of a plot to harm the country.

Washington has imposed financial sanctions on two Turkish ministers and doubled steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey, as U.S. President Donald Trump tries to secure the release Andrew Brunson, an American pastor being tried in Turkey on espionage and terrorism-related charges.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2018/08/15/Turkey-increases-tariffs-on-some-US-imports-amid-escalating-feud.html

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Europe

 

Germany, Qatar vow support for Turkey amid US pressure

Aug 15, 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani have expressed support for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan amid escalated tensions between Ankara and Washington.

In a Wednesday phone conversation with Erdogan, the German chancellor expressed her country’s commitment to strengthening its cooperation with Turkey through reciprocal visits at the highest levels, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency quoted presidential sources as saying.

The two sides discussed Erdogan's upcoming visit to Berlin slated for late September, and a meeting between Turkey's Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak and Germany's Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, due to be held in coming days.

According to the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, Merkel also underlined her country's concern for a strong Turkish economy, repeating her Monday comments that Turkey’s economic prosperity “serves Germany’s interests”.

Her remarks come as US President Donald Trump's punitive measures against Turkey have pushed its lira into freefall and sent shudders through its financial markets.

Qatar pledges $15bn in investment in Turkey

The emir of Qatar also arrived in Turkey on Wednesday on a “working” visit aimed at strengthening mutual cooperation.

In a “private” meeting, Erdogan and Sheikh Tamim discussed bilateral relations and ways to expand the existing strategic ties between the two sides in various fields.

During the meeting, Qatar pledged $15 billion in direct investments in "Turkey’s financial markets and banks", Turkish officials said.

On August 10, Trump announced that his administration was doubling steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey. The move came as part of the US’ reaction to Turkey´s two-year-long detention of an American pastor over terrorism charges.

In retaliation, Erdogan raised tariffs on some American commodities, and called on Turkish people to boycott US-made electronic goods, including Apple’s iPhones.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/08/15/571280/Qatar-Germany-Turkey-Erdogan

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Italian craftsman gifts table to mosque in Germany

15 August 2018

An Italian craftsman has gifted a faience table to the Selimiye Mosque in Bamberg in Bavaria.

Sarafino Pagetti, who has lived in Germany for 50 years and specializes in making tiles, said he made the gesture to thank the mosque administration and the public for their hospitality.

Pagetti said he had spent last Ramadan at the Turkish mosque.

"Whenever I came here, I was treated with a warm, welcoming feeling. I have never felt alienated, they treated me like a brother. Nobody has treated me like Mehmet Cetindere, president of the mosque's association, in my entire life; I love this place and congregation because of this," he said.

Cetindere thanked Pagetti for the meaningful gift. "When he saw the Hagia Sophia portraits hanging in our office, he wanted to portray it as a tile table. He made us this present in a short time."

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/headlines/205009/italian-craftsman-gifts-table-to-mosque-in-germany

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Uproar as Australia politician urges Muslim ban

August 16, 2018

SYDNEY : An Australian politician was widely condemned Wednesday after demanding "a final solution" to immigration and calling for a return to the White Australia policy which favoured "European Christians".

Queensland senator Fraser Anning stunned lawmakers when he invoked during his maiden speech the infamous Nazi phrase used under Adolf Hitler in reference to annihilating Jewish people from Europe.

He also sparked widespread opposition by calling for a ban on Muslim migrants and defending the race-based White Australia immigration policy which was in place for seven decades from 1901.

"We as a nation are entitled to insist that those who are allowed to come here predominantly reflect the historic European-Christian composition of Australian society," Anning, formerly of the populist One Nation Party and now with the Katter Australian Party, told the upper house Senate late Tuesday

"Those who come here need to assimilate and integrate."

He added that "ethnocultural diversity ... has been allowed to rise to dangerous levels in many suburbs".

"In direct response, self-segregation, including white flight from poorer inner-urban areas, has become the norm."

The Queenslander called for migration numbers to be slashed, and a ban on Muslims, justifying his call by saying they had "consistently shown to be the least able to assimilate and integrate".

"While all Muslims are not terrorists, certainly all terrorists these days are Muslims, so why would anyone want to bring more of them here?"

Immigration remains a hot button issue in Australia, amid concern about jobs and overcrowding in major cities.

Data released last month showed migration numbers hit a 10-year low last year, with the annual intake falling by 20,000 to 162,000 as vetting procedures were tightened.

Anning's comments sparked a backlash from all sides of politics, led by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who emphasised Australia was one of the most successful multicultural societies in the world.

"So we reject, we condemn racism in any form, and the remarks by Senator Anning are justly condemned and rejected by us all," he said.

Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten called the speech "a low point for our parliament", while independent senator Derryn Hinch said there "was hardly a group of Australians he did not offend unless you were very close to being a member of the Ku Klux Klan".

Even Pauline Hanson, who runs One Nation on a platform of zero-net migration and opposition to Islam, said Anning went too far.

"You may have your grievances on what Fraser Anning has said, don't direct them at me," she added. "It's got nothing to do with me."

Full report at:

https://nation.com.pk/16-Aug-2018/uproar-as-australia-politician-urges-muslim-ban

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Big EU firms not ready to oppose US bans on Iran: Russian envoy

Aug 15, 2018

Major European companies are not ready to oppose US President Donald Trump's sanctions against Iran, says Russia's envoy to the European Union, arguing that the bloc's recent move to protect firms against Washington's punitive measures would only benefit smaller companies.

Trump decided in May to abandon the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a landmark nuclear deal signed in 2015 between Iran and six world powers – the US, the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany.

On August 6, the American president ordered all nuclear-related sanctions removed under the deal be reinstated immediately.

Later that day, the EU activated a "blocking statute" that would shield European companies with business ties to Iran by giving them immunity against court rulings that would enforce American penalties.

Russian envoy to the EU Vladimir Chizhov told reporters on Wednesday that the EU’s move "was made first and foremost in the interest of the European companies but most big EU companies have already made their choice, making it clear they were not ready to oppose US sanctions and continue their activities on the Iranian market."

"I have information about at least a hundred such companies coming from EU member states," the Russian envoy added. "Their choice is easy to understand in a quantitative sense as their business in the US is larger than in Iran," he added.

"This is why their interests concerning financing and production are more closely linked with the US market and - which is the most important thing - the global financial system based on the US dollar," Chizhov noted.

Chizhov pointed out that the blocking statute was in reality an attempt by the EU to force Washington to change its behavior, just like what it did in 1996 to protect companies from Washington’s sanctions against Cuba.

That document was never implemented as the US went on to remove its restrictions in two years later.

"Perhaps, at heart, our European partners expect the US to change its mind at some point or at least to make exceptions for its closest allies," the Russian envoy explained.

But even that was not a certainty, Chizhov said, noting that the Trump administration's policies have been "unpredictable" in all fields.

Despite warnings by Trump and other senior US administration officials that the risks are real, China, Russia and Turkey have already indicated that they would not comply with the unilateral US sanctions.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/08/15/571274/Russia-Chizhpv-US-EU-Iran-nuclear-deal-JCPOA-sanctions

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UK nerve agent poisoning cases reminder of Iraqi WMDs tale, Russia says

Aug 15, 2018

Russia has criticized the US and the UK for imposing sanctions on Moscow over its alleged involvement in two separate poisoning cases by a nerve agent in Britain, saying Washington and London have failed to learn a lesson from their mistake when they used fake information about Iraq’s weapons program to justify an attack against the Arab country.

The United States and the UK are guided by false facts while making decisions on sanctions against Russia in connection with the Salisbury and Amesbury incidents, just like they did in 2003 to justify their invasion in Iraq, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing on Wednesday.

Back in March, British authorities announced that Russia’s ex-double agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, had been hospitalized since they had been found unconscious on a bench outside a shopping center in the city of Salisbury.

Days later, they announced that both victims had been exposed to a chemical weapon purportedly developed under a secret Soviet program, dubbed Novichok, accusing Moscow of carrying out the attack yet declining the Kremlin’s request for a sample of the chemical agent.

Last month, the UK counter-terrorism police also said that they had found two British citizens, a man and a woman, had come into contact with Novichok in Amesbury, a town near Salisbury. The police also said they were looking for possible links between the new incident and the Skripal case.

Britain has blamed Russia for the incidents, and together with the US and Western allies, has expelled dozens of diplomats. Russia has denied the allegation and responded with retaliatory expulsions. Washington has also recently announced its decision to impose fresh sanctions on Russia.

Zakharova slammed US politicians for joining “the provocation” involving Russian citizens in the UK and said, "We view decisions based on allegations as biased and politically-motivated.”

"All this reminds of the tale of Iraqi chemical weapons. The same two countries - the US and Great Britain - made a decision back then [to invade Iraq] that was not based on actual facts and some fake information was added afterwards,” she added, noting, “It seems that London and Washington have not drawn any conclusions from the Iraqi lessons.”

In March 2003, the US and Britain invaded Iraq in blatant violation of international law and under the pretext of finding WMDs. No such weapons were discovered in Iraq. A test tube presented by the then US secretary of state, Colin Powell, to the UN Security Council to justify the attack was proven wrong after the US invasion.

'US military budget reaffirms Washington's world domination'

Elsewhere in her remarks, the Russian diplomat also touched on the 2019 US military budget and said it reaffirms Washington’s policy of world domination with reliance on military force.

The bill on the 2019 military spending signed into law by the US president “reaffirms the policy of building up Washington’s dominating role in the world… from the position of strength," Zakharova said.

She added that the unprecedented rising of the US military budget to $717 billion was “causing a destructive effect on the existing system of international security."

She stated that Russia has taken and would take “the necessary measures to reliably ensure its own security by all available means.”

President Donald Trump on Monday signed the 2019 US military spending bill into law, authorizing the Defense Department to invest $717 billion into military strategies that will target Russia and China.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/08/15/571282/Russia-US-sanctions-Sergei-Skripal-nerve-agent-Novichok

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Car Terrorist in Britain Was Sudanese Muslim Immigrant

15 August 2018

The police have identified the “Midlands Man” who drove into a gaggle of cyclists and pedestrians, and then into a security barrier, outside Parliament in London yesterday. The news is unsurprising, if it’s even news at all.

He was a Muslim.

He was a Sudanese immigrant.

The media provided all the usual lachrymose details of his sad life.

"A Very Good Person"

According to the police, the man who drove the car into the crowd, injuring three while fortuitously not killing anyone, is Salih Khater, 29, a Sudanese man whom the Washington Post insisted on calling a “Briton.”

Of course, he isn’t a “Briton,” citizenship papers regardless, but he is something of a nutter, if the profile in the Daily Mail is to be believed.

As is typical with these terror attacks, the media rushed to explain why the maniac wanted to kill, beginning with the usual locution: No one ever imagined such a quiet boy could do such a thing.

The Westminster terror suspect's family today said he is a “normal person” as it was revealed he told friends he was going to London for a Sudanese visa so he could holiday in the country he fled as a refugee.

Salih Khater's brother Abdullah insists he is no a religious fanatic and said they are all in a “state of shock” about his sibling's carborne rampage outside the Houses of Parliament at 7.30 a.m. yesterday morning.

Khater told friends he was driving down for a visa appointment at Sudan's embassy in St James’ Park — less than a mile away from Westminster — to avoid early morning traffic.

But police believe he cruised the capital for six hours before deliberately plowing through crowds of cyclists and pedestrians before careering into terror-proof security barriers.

Why anyone would vacation in the country they were, supposedly, forced to flee is anyone’s guess.

Khater landed in Britain eight years ago, quickly becoming a citizen.

While Khater was not, apparently, on Britain’s terror list, a clue to his rage might be this: “The Home Office had recently told him he was being investigated over 'irregularities' in his citizenship application.”

The Mail also reported that police seized a computer Khater used the night before the attack.

But Khater really was a regular guy:

He settled in Birmingham where he was described as a quiet loner who loved Aston Villa, Celine Dion, smoking shisha and whiling away time at an internet cafe below his old flat in the Sparkhill area of Birmingham.

Friends said he was devastated when his brother and father died recently, reportedly in a car crash.

In another blow he was studying accountancy at Coventry University until May but had his place “terminated” after failing the first year, while friends said his poor English meant he couldn’t complete a pharmacy course 12 months earlier.

Local Muslim chieftains, the Mail reported, assured everyone that Khater was not a radical or even religious:

Massar Mahmood, a trustee of Birmingham’s Central Mosque, said: “From our own inquries at the Mosque and from people of a similar background in the Sudan community he has shown no sign of doing any harm to anyone.”

He said: “There is no sign that he had been radicalised. He was not a fervent worshipper and had not shown any signs of that.

“As far as we know, he was trying to get a visa. He went the night before and presume he spent the time there travelling round to wait to visit the embassy.”

We also learned that he was “very sociable and stable” and “a very good person.”

They always are.

Second Attack at Parliament

As The New American noted in its first report on the car terrorist, this is the second attack in less than 18 months near Parliament.

In March last year, a British-born Muslim convert, Khalid Masood, smashed into pedestrians and stabbed a policeman on Westminster Bridge, killing five and injuring 50 before police shot him to death.

Khater lives just 10 minutes from Masood’s former home.

Masood’s maniacal mass-murder attempt presaged another bridge attack. Three terrorists connected to the Islamic State drove into pedestrians on London Bridge in June 2017, then raced to Borough Market to stab and slash anyone they could. Police shot those men dead, too, and found them wearing fake bombs.

That May, a suicide bomber detonated explosives at an Ariana Grande concert, killing 22.

The latest attack seems to prove that Britain is simply unable to cope with the massive influx of immigrants the Labour Party imported into the country to change its demographics, beginning in about 2004.

Full report at:

https://www.thenewamerican.com/world-news/europe/item/29792-car-terrorist-in-britain-was-sudanese-muslim-immigrant

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