New Age Islam
Thu Oct 22 2020, 05:50 AM

Islamic World News ( 5 Oct 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Kolkata Family Set To Rewrite History As They Plan To Worship A Muslim Girl Child As Part Of Kumari Puja, A Ritual That Takes Place On Mahaashtami







A Christian Anda Muslim Durga Puja Committee Celebrating Its 45th Sharadiya Navaratra In Varanasi

Muslim Family Is an Integral Part of One of the Oldest Ramlila Celebrations in Allahabad

Whosoever Comes To Kartarpur Is Our Guest: Advisor To Pakistan PM On Manmohan Singh's Visit

We Were Told NRC India's Internal Issue, Still Keeping Eye On Developments: Bangladesh

At Malay Congress, PAS MP Wants Sunni Islam Made Official Religion Of Federation

Arab Media: Riyadh's Domestic Awe Shattered by Failure in Yemen War

Amendment to US Finance Bill Urges India to Lift Kashmir Siege

Candlelight Vigil In London Marks Two-Month Lockdown In Held Kashmir

Erdogan Talks Operations East Of Euphrates, SDF Threatens An All-Out War

 

India

Kolkata Family Set To Rewrite History As They Plan To Worship A Muslim Girl Child As Part Of Kumari Puja, A Ritual That Takes Place On Mahaashtami

A Christian Anda Muslim Durga Puja Committee Celebrating Its 45th Sharadiya Navaratra In Varanasi

Muslim Family Is an Integral Part of One of the Oldest Ramlila Celebrations in Allahabad

Former PDP worker injured in terrorist firing in J&K's Anantnag

New education policy will lay foundation of strong India: Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi

India, Bangladesh to broadbase ties; Hasina raises NRC issue with PM

Beijing’s allegiance to Pakistan key roadblock in India-China ties

Satya Pal Malik allows NC delegation to meet Abdullahs, under detention, in Srinagar today

India protests after China’s envoy in Pakistan says working to help Kashmiris

Poised for ‘golden chapter’, India-Bangladesh look to build a bright shared future

India calls for increased cooperation between UN, FATF to deal with terror groups

Hard Times Have Pakistani Hindus Looking to India, Where Some Find Only Disappointment

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Pakistan

Whosoever Comes To Kartarpur Is Our Guest: Advisor To Pakistan PM On Manmohan Singh's Visit

Pakistan PM Imran Khan Warns PoK Residents Against Crossing LoC

Nawaz appeals IHC to review evidence linked to videogate

Chanting anti-India slogans, JKLF marchers head to LoC

Mishal calls for UN peacekeepers in held Kashmir

Ex-MQM lawmaker, six others acquitted in anti-state CDs case

Pakistan tells India to keep lectures on diplomacy to itself

Fazlur Rehman wants anarchy, instability in country, says Rasheed

UN chief repeats call for Kashmir dialogue

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South Asia

We Were Told NRC India's Internal Issue, Still Keeping Eye On Developments: Bangladesh

Taliban militants release 43 abducted residents of Ghazni province

Special Forces kill, detain 18 Taliban militants; destroy caches of weapons in 4 provinces

Afghan forces foil militants bid to detonate two bombs in Kabul

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Southeast Asia

At Malay Congress, PAS MP Wants Sunni Islam Made Official Religion Of Federation

Malaysia asked to repeal laws curbing freedom of speech

Dignity comes from doing and not just asking, Dr M tells Malay congress

Are you Islamophobes, Hadi asks unity meet critics

Judiciary’s independence is paramount, says CJ

Thai judge shoots himself in court after railing at justice system

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Arab World

Arab Media: Riyadh's Domestic Awe Shattered by Failure in Yemen War

Iraq Protests Death Toll Nears 100: Rights Panel

Lebanese Paper Reveals US Plots for Hot Summer in Iraq, Baghdad's Measures to Counter

Expert: Iraqi Cities In Full Security Despite Saudi, British Media's Exaggeration Of Incidents

Police: Relevant Calm Restored Across Iraq

Iraqi Commander: US Drills Aimed at Paving Ground for ISIL Terrorists' Infiltration

19 killed in protests in Iraq despite calls for calm

Iraq’s Council Of Representatives President, Protesters Delegation Meet

Washington accomplice in Saudi-led military aggression: Al-Houthi

Terrorist outfits preventing civilians from leaving Syria’s Idlib

Iraq authorities lift curfew as normalcy returns to streets of Baghdad

Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia fail to reach agreement on Nile dam

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North America

Amendment to US Finance Bill Urges India to Lift Kashmir Siege

Anti-Muslim Extremist Group Plans To Host Dh5, 510-A-Plate Gala Dinner at Trump’s Florida Resort

US Senator Barred From Kashmir As Lockdown Enters Third Month

Greek PM tells US’ Pompeo Turkey violating Cyprus’ sovereign rights

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Europe

Candlelight Vigil In London Marks Two-Month Lockdown In Held Kashmir

The Paris Police Attacker Followed A 'Radical Vision Of Islam,' The Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor Says

Greek PM calls on US top diplomat to help calm offshore tensions with Turkey

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Mideast

Erdogan Talks Operations East Of Euphrates, SDF Threatens An All-Out War

Resistance only way to restore Palestinians’ rights: Islamic Jihad leader

Saudi humanitarian agency repatriates 143 Somalis from Yemen

Anguish for jailed UK-Iranian mum at sending daughter to Britain

Turkey detains five Germans on terror charges: Report

Iranian held in Australia for 13 months returns home: State TV

Saudi-led coalition, mercenaries looted over 18 million barrels of Yemen oil last year: Min.

Turkey arrests five Germans over links to Kurdish militants: Report

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Africa

Talks on Nile Waters Wrap up in Sudan’s Khartoum without Agreement

16 people killed in attacks by Boko Haram, rival faction in Nigeria’s Borno

Unknown assailants kill eight people near Rwanda's volcanoes park

Drone strike hits 2 planes at Libya’s Misrata airport

Tunisia presidential runner Saied quits campaigning

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/kolkata-family-set-to-rewrite-history-as-they-plan-to-worship-a-muslim-girl-child-as-part-of-kumari-puja,-a-ritual-that-takes-place-on-mahaashtami/d/119923

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Kolkata Family Set To Rewrite History As They Plan To Worship A Muslim Girl Child As Part Of Kumari Puja, A Ritual That Takes Place On Mahaashtami

Sanjukta Bose

OCTOBER 06, 2019

Moushumi and Tamal Dutta barely have a minute to spare as prepare for the Durga Puja celebrations in their house in the Baguihati area of Kolkata. The Duttas are set to rewrite history as they plan to worship a Muslim girl child as part of Kumari Puja, a ritual that takes place on Mahaashtami, the eighth day of Durga Puja, on Sunday.

When the Duttas commenced their Durga Puja in 2013, they decided to break away from every tradition. They have worshipped girls of different castes and religions as Kumari to make the celebrations as inclusive as possible.

“Ma Durga has no caste, creed or religion. We are worshipping the child as Ma and motherhood has no religion. Hinduism is a liberal religion and we shouldn’t be rigid,” said Ms. Dutta.

‘Happily agreed’

When Mr. Dutta, an engineer at the Kamarhati Municipality in North 24 Paraganas, asked his colleague Mohammed Ibrahim about a Muslim girl child they could worship, the latter immediately thought of Fatima, his 4-year-old niece. Mr. Ibrahim broached the subject with his older brother Imran, and then with his sister Bushra Bibi, Fatima’s mother. Everyone in the family “happily agreed” to let Fatima, who is yet to start school, be worshipped as the ‘Kumari’ (a virgin and unmarried girl). They sent a picture of Fatima to the Duttas and made all the arrangements to bring her to Baguihati, on the eastern edge of the city.

“I share a good relation with sir [Mr. Dutta], so when he asked me if he could worship my niece, I was very happy,” Mr. Ibrahim said.

Following this, Bushra Bibi and Fatima, who belong to a lower-middle income family, were brought to Kolkata from their house in Agra. Mr. Ibrahim said his sister was “honoured by this invitation” and all of them looked forward to having a unique Puja. They are currently staying at Mr. Ibrahim’s house in Kamarhati.

During Kumari Puja or Kanya Puja, a girl child who has not attained puberty yet is worshipped as an image of the goddess Durga. Kumari Puja, taking place in different parts of the country during Puja, however, has a casteist connotation to it, since only Brahmin girls can be worshipped, according to tradition. Interestingly, in 1898, Swami Vivekananda had worshiped a Muslim boatman’s daughter as Durga in Kashmir, after he received a vision about her. The event is now described as Kumari Puja. However, all Puja Committees do not encourage the ritual.

‘Welcome initiative’

Nrisingha Prasad Bhaduri, eminent Orientalist scholar of the epics and Puranas, explained that the spirit of Kumari Puja has changed over the last century. “Kumari Puja started as a celebration of virginity and also women’s empowerment. The Shastras were made a long time back, so the rule that only Brahmin children could be Kumari was made by Brahmin themselves. Today, we are in a secular democracy, so if somebody decides to worship a girl of a different religion as Kumari, then that is considered progressive and a welcome initiative,” said Professor Bhaduri.

Ms. Dutta said that her elder brother had suggested worshipping a Muslim girl to induce “a strong message of communal peace” in Bengal. Ms. Dutta’s Puja has triggered curiosity in Kolkata — a city that, since Friday, has dramatically changed with lights and installations from Friday night.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/kolkata-family-set-to-worship-muslim-girl-for-kumari-puja/article29608788.ece

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A Christian Anda Muslim Durga Puja Committee Celebrating Its 45th Sharadiya Navaratra In Varanasi

Oct 6, 2019

Varanasi: A Durga Puja committee established by a Christian student and patronized by a Muslim citizen is celebrating its 45th Sharadiya Navaratra in Varanasi.

Shri Shri Durga Puja Samiti, Varuna Pul presents a unique example of communal harmony in the land of Lord Shiva. A Christian student of Cutting Memorial Inter College Rohit George with the help of his friends established this puja committee in 1974, and it was patronized by late Ikram Khan, a resident of Varuna Pul area, said senior vice-president of the committee Shobhnath Vishwakarma.

He said George shifted to Goa, but the committee is still patronized by Khan’s family. Presently, the committee is looked after by president Mahendra Verma and general secretary Sunil Sonkar.

We have installed a 13-foot idol of Goddess Durga, which is one of the tallest idols in eastern UP, he claimed adding that the five-day puja is performed as per Bengali traditions.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/varanasi/a-christian-a-muslim-host-the-goddess/articleshow/71459110.cms

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Muslim Family Is An Integral Part Of One Of The Oldest Ramlila Celebrations In Allahabad

Oct 6, 2019

Allahabad: From a life-size effigy of lord Hanuman to beautifully-decked chariots and traditional weapons, this Muslim family is an integral part of one of the oldest Ramlila celebrations in the city. Spreading a message of communal harmony, Nisar Ahmad and his family of eight members have been part of Ramlila celebrations at Pattharchatti for four generations.

To promote brotherhood, Nasir, 56, has also hired two assistants Hanuman and Mithlesh, who have been working with him for the last over 20 years. “I worked as a painter in 4PAC, Dhoomanganj... After 21 years, I decided to dedicate my life to Ramlila,” says Nasir.

Likewise, there are several Muslim artists for whom Ramlila symbolises the victory of good over evil. For 65-year-old Syeed Iqbal Ahmad, enacting the role of Kewat — a boatman who helped lord Ram cross river Ganga — is close to his heart and has won him respect at Katra Ramlila. “Those who are dividing the country will never succeed as there are still people who will defeat their nefarious designs,” he says.

Similarly, Suhail Khan, who plays the role of king Dasharath’s ambassador, said: “Epics like Ramayana and Mahabharatha are equally popular among Muslims... So we enact Hindu mythological characters with ease.”

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/allahabad/this-muslim-family-boosts-amity-with-its-ramlila-connect/articleshow/71459201.cms

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Whosoever comes to Kartarpur is our guest: Advisor to Pakistan PM on Manmohan Singh's visit

Oct 5, 2019

LAHORE (PAKISTAN): Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, special advisor to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan for information and broadcasting, on Saturday said that Kartarpur is a religious issue and whosoever comes there will be facilitated.

Responding to a question whether former Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh will be welcomed to Kartarpur, Awan said, "Pakistan believes whosoever comes in Kartarpur will be our guest. This is not a political but a religious issue."

"So...on religious issue, whosoever comes will be our guest and facilitating him is our responsibility," she said.

On October 3, Captain Amarinder Singh, the chief minister of Punjab, India, had said that he will not go to Pakistan for the opening of Kartarpur corridor and indicated that former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh will also not attend the event.

"There is no question of me going (to Pakistan for the opening of Kartarpur corridor) and I feel Dr Manmohan Singh will not go as well," Captain Amarinder said.

Captain Amarinder had invited the former Prime Minister to attend the main event at Sultanpur Lodhi to mark Guru Nanak Dev's 550th Prakash Purab next month.

Pakistan government had extended an invitation to Manmohan Singh for the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor to be held on November 9.

Congress sources had said he is not likely to accept the invitation.

The corridor will connect Kartarpur Sahib with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/whosoever-comes-to-kartarpur-is-our-guest-advisor-to-pakistan-pm-on-manmohan-singhs-visit/articleshow/71457758.cms

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We were told NRC India's internal issue, still keeping eye on developments: Bangladesh

Oct 5, 2019

NEW DELHI: Bangladesh on Saturday said it was keeping an eye on developments relating to roll out of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam even as India conveyed to it that the issue was an internal matter of the country.

Bangladesh foreign secretary Shahidul Haque said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina raised the issue with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi during wide-ranging talks and he explained to her about the NRC process.

"We were told that this is an internal matter of India. Our relationship is best of the best at present. But at the same time we are keeping our eyes quiet open (on the issue)," Haque said at a press conference.

On long-pending BBIN motor vehicles agreement, Haque indicated that India, Nepal and Bangladesh may go ahead with the pact if Bhutan does not come on board.

The Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) motor vehicle was mooted to improve transportation among the four countries.

Asked about home minister Amit Shah's comments that illegal Bangladeshi's from Assam would be deported, the Bangladeshi foreign secretary said: "We should not make a crisis out of nothing at this stage and we should be able to wait and see."

Government sources said the Indian side conveyed to Hasina that publication of the NRC was a court-monitored process and the final scenario on the issue is yet to emerge.

Haque said Bangladesh is not worried about the issue at the stage.

"We think this is an internal matter of India. Prime Minister Modi has explained to Prime Minister Hasina the process that India has put up in terms of making sure that everybody is eventually included in this (NRC)," he said.

The NRC has been prepared to identify genuine Indian citizens living in Assam since March 24, 1971, or before, and identify illegal Bangladeshi migrants in the state.

Out of 3.3 crore applicants, over 19 lakh people were excluded from the final NRC published on August 30.

Prime Minister Hasina had taken up the issue of NRC with Modi during their bilateral meeting in New York last month on the sidelines of the IN General Assembly.

After the roll out of the NRC, the Ministry of External Affairs said people left out of it are not "stateless" and will continue to enjoy all the rights as before till they exhaust all remedies available under the law.

"The case of movement of people is a global issue. There have always been issues relating to mobility of people among neighbouring States," said Haque, while citing example of a similar issue between the US and Mexico.

On the Rohingya issue, Haque said Modi appreciated Bangladesh's generosity in sheltering and providing humanitarian assistance to forcibly displaced persons from the Rakhine State of Myanmar.

A joint statement issued after talks between Modi and Hasina said India will supply a fifth tranche of humanitarian assistance to support Bangladesh's humanitarian efforts to shelter the Rohingyas in temporary camps in Cox's Bazar.

To a question, Haque said Bangladesh is not holding back any Rohingya refugees and anyone wanting to return to Myanmar are free to leave the country.

"The two prime ministers agreed on the need to expedite safe, speedy and sustainable repatriation of the displaced persons to their homes in the Rakhine State of Myanmar.

"They agreed on the need for greater efforts to be made to facilitate their return, including by improving security situation and socio-economic conditions in the Rakhine State of Myanmar," the joint statement said.

On the BBIN, the joint statement said both Modi and Hasina agreed on early operationalisation of the pact for movement of goods and passengers among the member countries which are willing and ready to finalise it.

Prime Minister Hasina extended an invitation to Modi to pay a visit to Bangladesh and it was accepted, Haque said.

The dates of Modi's visit would be finalised through diplomatic channel, he said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/we-were-told-nrc-indias-internal-issue-still-keeping-eye-on-developments-bangladesh/articleshow/71458639.cms

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At Malay congress, PAS MP wants Sunni Islam made official religion of federation

Sunday, 06 Oct 2019

SHAH ALAM, Oct 6 — The government should amend the Federal Constitution to make the Sunni denomination the only permissible school of Islam in the country, Pasir Mas MP Ahmad Fadhli Shaari said.

Speaking at the Kongress Maruah Melayu (Malay Dignity Congress), Ahmad Fadhli said the government should also make policies based on the Sunni denomination.

“Amend the Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution to acknowledge that ‘Islam based on the Ahli Sunnah Wal-Jama’ah’ is the doctrine and faith of the federation,” he said.

Article 3 of the Federal Constitution states that Islam is the religion of the federation.

Shaari representing the religious cluster at the congress and spoke of aim to strengthen Islam’s position in the federation.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/10/06/at-malay-congress-pas-mp-wants-sunni-islam-made-official-religion-of-federa/1797646

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Arab Media: Riyadh's Domestic Awe Shattered by Failure in Yemen War

Oct 05, 2019

"The recent attack against Aramco was highly painful and revealed the military weakness and shattered the awe of the Saudi government before the country's public opinion and therefore, Riyadh has been forced to save itself and immediately devise a strategy to get out of the Yemen war," Omar Ayasareh, a political analyst, told the Arabic-language Khalij Online news website on Saturday.

He also noted that the Americans are also after closing the Yemen case and have, hence, agreed that Ansarallah should also have a share in the political process in the country.

"Saudi Arabia has also shown positive reaction to the Americans' initiative," Ayasareh said.

Reports said last Wednesday that a number of Saudi royal family members had expressed frustration over Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS)'s ability to lead the kingdom following a devastating attack by the Yemeni forces on the Riyadh-owned oil sites.

According to a senior foreign diplomat and five sources close to the ruling family, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, the raids by Yemen had sparked anger among several prominent members of the Al Saud family and also some in elite circles who maintain the young crown prince has adopted an exaggeratedly aggressive foreign policy towards Iran, Reuters reported.

“There is a lot of resentment” about MbS' leadership, said one of the sources, adding, “How were they not able to detect the attack?”

The source also stated that some people in elite circles have “no confidence” in the crown prince, an assertion echoed by the four other sources and the senior diplomat.

Several Yemeni drones targeted Aramco oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais in mid-September. The attacks shut down about 50 percent of the kingdom’s crude and gas production, and cut the state oil giant’s crude oil supply by around 5.7 million barrels per day. A return to normal production could take months, not weeks, according to reports.

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980713000894

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Amendment to US finance bill urges India to lift Kashmir siege

Anwar Iqbal

October 06, 2019

WASHINGTON: A US Senate panel has attached an amendment to a finance bill that requires India to end its lockdown and curfew in held Kashmir and fully restore communications links to the occupied valley.

The amendment, attached to the Foreign Appropriations Act for 2020, was moved in the Senate Appropriations Committee, and is seen as the first step towards US legislative action against India over its Aug 5 annexation of the occupied lands.

The committee, while encouraging enhanced US engagement with India on issues of mutual interest, noted “with concern the current humanitarian crisis in Kashmir.”

And it called on the government of India to: “(1) fully restore telecommunications and Internet services; (2) lift its lockdown and curfew; and (3) release individuals detained pursuant to the government’s revocation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution.”

Senator Chris Van Hollen, a Karachi-born Democrat from Maryland, proposed the amendment, which seeks to highlight India’s the humanitarian situation in Kashmir. Senator Lindsey Graham, a key Republican leader known for his close ties to President Donald Trump, submitted the report in the Senate.

Senator Van Hollen also visited New Delhi this week as a part of a congressional delegation that discussed the Kashmir dispute and US-India relations with key Indian officials. On Friday, he told reporters in New Delhi that the Indian government had denied his request to visit to Kashmir to review the situation there.

He also said that the US Washington was “closely monitoring the humanitarian situation” in Kashmir. The House Foreign Affairs Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on human rights in South Asia later this month, and Kashmir is expected to occupy much of the proceedings.

The document urging India to immediately reverse its unlawful actions in Kashmir was submitted on Sept. 26, a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to address the UN General Assembly.

In an interview to India’s The Hindu newspaper earlier this week, Senator Van Hollen said the amendment was “accepted unanimously by the bipartisan committee” and was “a strong expression of concern by the Senate about the situation in Kashmir.”

The amendment, he added, “sends the signal that we are closely monitoring the human rights situation there and would like to see the government of India take those concerns seriously.” He said that he had “hoped to share his concerns privately” with Prime Minister Modi but had not been able to meet him.

Mr Van Hollen also met India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in Washington last week and shared his concerns about Kashmir with him.

Senator Bob Menendez, who was also a part of the delegation that visited India this week, met India’s Commerce and Industries Minister Piyush Goyal this week in Delhi. Since Aug 5, both Senators have made public statements on the Kashmir situation.

The Hindu reported that Senator Van Hollen was refused permission to visit Srinagar because New Delhi was not allowing foreigners to visit the region.

An Indian official told the newspaper that “no diplomat or foreign journalist has yet been given clearance to visit Kashmir since the government’s decision on Article 370 on August 5.”

US lawmakers have since been urging President Trump to use his influence to end the humanitarian crisis in Kashmir.

One of them, Senator Bob Casey, said recently that India’s changes to the status of Jammu and Kashmir were a “drastic shift” from decades of precedent and policy.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1509261/amendment-to-us-finance-bill-urges-india-to-lift-kashmir-siege

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Candlelight vigil in London marks two-month lockdown in held Kashmir

Atika Rehman

October 06, 2019

LONDON: Scores of British Kashmiris in London gathered at Parliament Square on Saturday for a candlelight vigil for the thousands living under siege in India-held Kashmir.

October 5 marked two months from the date that the Indian government removed held-Kashmir’s special status by revoking Article 370.

Hundreds of pro-Kashmir demonstrators carried placards and shouted slogans of “what do we want? Freedom!”.

The crowd marched by Downing Street and Trafalgar Square shouting slogans en route to the Indian High Commission in Aldwych, a routine destination for pro-Kashmir demonstrators who want to register their protest with the Indian government.

Organised by the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), the event was attended by British Kashmiris from London’s southern towns Luton, Watford and Croydon.

“I have come to every protest and will continue to do so. I even wanted to go to New York to raise the Kashmir issue,” said an elderly gentleman Mohammad Yaqub, who lives in the Midlands.

The Kashmiri diaspora in the United Kingdom has been active in raising awareness about human rights violations in occupied Valley by turning up in large numbers in rallies and demonstrations across cities.

Occupied Kashmir has been under a communications blackout for two months since the Narendra Modi-led government revoked Article 370 on Aug 5, stripping the disputed region of its special status. The few accounts emerging from the occupied region speak of families living under curfew, with some reports saying Indian forces torture activists and commit excesses against protesters.

Students recall shock

In conversations with Dawn ahead of the two-month mark to the curfew, Kashmiri students in London described how they felt when they heard the news that the Indian government had revoked Article 370.

“Is it okay if I don’t share my name? I’m nervous because I have to go back to India and I don’t want to be targeted,” Kashmiri student M* said. M’s family lives in Srinagar, which is where she lived till she came to the University of London for higher education.

“In the beginning we were in a state of shock and disbelief. It’s not that we had an illusion of trust in the Indian government, but we didn’t foresee them taking such a drastic and unprecedented step.”

M says the first few days after Aug 5 were “absolute chaos” and that the limited information coming was from India, where the media was portraying that people in Kashmir are happy.

“As Kashmiris, we know that is not the case.”

M added that communication with her parents has been limited as mobile networks are blocked. At times, they manage to use a neighbour’s landline phone to make a call to her but they are guarded and fearful as they assume the phone is tapped

“In Kashmiri we ask ‘halaat kiche?’ (how is the situation). People say don’t ask this on the phone, for if someone says things are fine they will become worse. Even if my family is fine, I know that there are thousands of families who are not fine.”

Kashmiri lawyer Mirza Saib Beg, who is pursuing his LLM in London, says: “For 45 days, I did not speak to my family. My friends were able to communicate with their families only if their relatives stood in line to make a call from a police station. The conversations were happening before an intelligence officer or a policeman and you had to limit to a minute.”

He added: “International calls were not getting through to landlines. A friend of mine went to my family, recorded their voices on a pen drive and sent it out to Delhi. A friend of mine in Delhi uploaded that recording and sent it to me. That’s how I heard my family for the first time.”

https://www.dawn.com/news/1509265/candlelight-vigil-in-london-marks-two-month-lockdown-in-held-kashmir

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Erdogan talks operations east of Euphrates, SDF threatens an all-out war

5 October 2019

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that his country will carry out air and ground operations east of the Euphrates river in Syria, where Ankara and Washington have yet to establish a planned ‘safe zone.’

“We’ve made our preparations, we’ve made our operation plans, given the necessary instructions,” Erdogan said, adding that Turkey would carry out air and ground actions and these could start “as soon as today or tomorrow.”

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, who control the region east of the Euphrates, said they would “not hesitate to turn any unprovoked (Turkish) attack into an all-out war” to defend their region in northeast Syria.

The United States has agreed to jointly establish a safe zone on the Syrian border, but Ankara has said it is not satisfied with progress and has frequently threatened to carry out military operations there.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/05/Erdogan-says-will-carry-out-air-ground-operations-in-easten-Syria-to-establish-peace.html

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India

 

Former PDP worker injured in terrorist firing in J&K's Anantnag

Oct 5, 2019

ANANTNAG: Terrorists on Saturday opened fire at a former PDP worker in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir, leaving him injured, police said. Sajad Hussain Mantoo was shot at by the terrorists at his residence in Kokernag area of Anantnag, they said.

Mantoo received bullet injuries in his abdomen and thigh and was rushed to the district hospital, the police said, adding that his condition is stated to be stable.

The reason behind the attack is not known yet, a police official said.

Mantoo was formerly associated with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/former-pdp-worker-injured-in-terrorist-firing-in-jks-anantnag/articleshow/71459019.cms

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New education policy will lay foundation of strong India: Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi

Oct 5, 2019

CHENNAI: Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Saturday said the Centre would implement the new education policy soon which would lay the foundation of an empowered and strong India.

"After a period of about 30 years, a new education policy is going to be implemented in the country which will set the milestone of the development of the country," the minister for minority affairs said.

He claimed the education policy would bring in a revolutionary change in the country's education system.

Naqvi said there were 16 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in the country before the new dispensation assumed charge in 2014.

"Our government has started seven new IITs in the last five years," he said at the ninth convocation ceremony of Abdur Rahman Crescent Institute of Science and Technology near here.

He pointed out there were 13 Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) before 2014, but the new government has set up seven new IIMs in the last five years.

According to him, the centre's priority is to offer affordable, accessible and quality education to all sections of society.

On healthcare, he said the Centre has approved establishment of 75 additional government medical colleges by 2021-22.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/new-education-policy-will-lay-foundation-of-strong-india-mukhtar-abbas-naqvi/articleshow/71457822.cms

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India, Bangladesh to broadbase ties; Hasina raises NRC issue with PM

Oct 5, 2019

NEW DELHI: India and Bangladesh on Saturday signed seven pacts including one for setting up of a joint coastal surveillance systems as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina held "productive and comprehensive" talks to further broadbase bilateral ties.

In the discussions, Hasina also raised her concerns over roll out of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam+ , an exercise carried out to identify genuine Indian citizens living in Assam and weed out illegal Bangladeshis.

Government sources said the Indian side conveyed to Hasina that publication of the NRC was a court-monitored process and the final scenario on the issue is yet to emerge.

The issue of Rohingya refugees also figured in the talks and the two prime ministers agreed on the need to expedite safe, speedy and sustainable repatriation of the displaced persons to their homes in the Rakhine state of Myanmar, officials said.

A joint statement said Modi appreciated the zero-tolerance policy of the Bangladesh government against terrorism and commended Hasina for her resolute efforts to ensure peace, security and stability in the region.

Both leaders reiterated their strong commitment to eliminate terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and stressed that there can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terror.

After the talks, Modi and Hasina, through video link, launched a project to import LPG from Bangladesh for distribution in the Northeastern states, inaugurated a Vivekananda Bhaban at Ramakrishna Mission in Dhaka and unveiled a skill development institute at Khulna.

"India accords priority to its ties with Bangladesh. The increasing cooperation between India and Bangladesh is a shining example of neighbourly relations for the entire world," Modi said in a brief media statement.

In presence of Hasina, he said Saturday's talks will further energise bilateral ties.

The joint statement said Hasina highlighted that the people of Bangladesh are awaiting early signing of the Teesta water sharing agreement which was agreed upon by both the governments in 2011.

Modi conveyed to Hasina that his government is working with all stakeholders in India for conclusion of the agreement at the earliest.

The seven MoUs signed will provide deepening cooperation in areas of water resources, youth affairs, culture, education and coastal surveillance.

Government sources called the MoU on cooperation in coastal surveillance radar system as significant for regional maritime security. India is expected to set up nearly two dozen coastal surveillance radar stations under the pact.

Another MoU will facilitate the use of Chattogram and Mongla ports for movement of goods to and from India. A separate MoU will provide for withdrawal of 1.82 cusec of water from Feni river of Bangladesh for drinking purpose of the people of Sabroom town of Tripura.

The joint statement said the two prime ministers held productive and comprehensive talks and agreed to fully utilise opportunities for advancing mutually beneficial ties in both conventional and non-conventional areas, besides noting that the "irreversible partnership" enhances the legacy that started with the great war of liberation of Bangladesh.

In the talks, both leaders emphasised the importance of effective border management for ensuring a tranquil, stable and crime free border.

"Towards this goal, the leaders directed their respective border forces to complete border fencing at all pending sectors at the international border between both the countries at the earliest," the joint statement said.

"Both leaders also agreed that the loss of civilian lives at the border is a matter of concern and directed the border forces concerned to enhance coordinated measures to work toward bringing such border incidents down to zero," it said.

Modi and Hasina also agreed to expedite commissioning of the joint study on the prospects of entering into a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between India and Bangladesh.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-bangladesh-to-broadbase-ties-hasina-raises-nrc-issue-with-pm/articleshow/71456256.cms

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Beijing’s allegiance to Pakistan key roadblock in India-China ties

Shishir Gupta

Oct 06, 2019

When then US secretary of state Hillary Clinton visited India in July 2011, she wanted to travel to Amritsar, but ended up in Chennai after she was told that the waters from the ancient port city of south India touched the western shores of the US, defining Indo-Pacific in a true sense.

The presence of the Arakkonam naval air base near Chennai also defined the QUAD security grouping, with the Boeing P-8I Neptune anti-submarine, ship interdictor and anti-surface warfare platform stationed at the base and in touch with US and Australia counterparts under COMCASA, or Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement.

While Chennai’s linkages with QUAD are still in a nascent stage, the Pallava capital of Kanchipuram was visited by Chinese traveller Huien Tsang or Xuanzang 2,000 years ago.

The heritage city of Mahabalipuram, now Mamallapuram, was also the showcase of the Pallavas and will see Prime Minister Narendra Modi host Chinese President Xi Jinping from October 11-13 at the second informal summit between the two leaders.

The success of this summit lies in whether President Xi can exorcise the ghost of Pakistan from Chinese perception of its bilateral engagement with India.

If Xi can get over the Pakistan hangover and focus directly on improving bilateral ties with India, the summit will take the relationship forward; or else this will be just another milestone.

Fact is that at the heart of India-China mistrust lies Beijing’s all-weather ally, Islamabad, with the middle kingdom backing Pakistan entirely on issues like cross-border terrorism, nuclear suppliers group, UN expansion, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and Jammu and Kashmir.

The other source of mistrust is China’s unwillingness to give India space on the global high table and its efforts to confine New Delhi to a regional power locked in death combat with Pakistan.

Although India and China have had a border dispute for the past 50 years, the two sides have managed occasional flare-ups very astutely with not a single bullet being fired since the Nathu La skirmish in 1967.

The two sides have convergence on global issues like climate change and are focused on greening their countries.

At the informal summit, President Xi will have the option of either reading the laundry list of Pakistan’s concerns with India or explore new areas of cooperation with PM Modi.

After hosting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Beijing on October 8-10 and hearing out his litany of complaints against India, President Xi will have to make a superhuman effort to not let Islamabad overshadow the summit.

Xi’s test on Pakistan will start from October 13-18, when FATF holds a plenary meeting under the presidentship of China in Paris to consider blacklisting Islamabad for its failure to comply with over 20 out of 27 key parameters laid down in an action plan to deal with money laundering and terrorist financing As the FATF acts on consensus, it is quite evident that Pakistan will remain on a grey list with China, Malaysia and Turkey responding to PM Imran Khan’s call for support.

While India has conveyed its stand on the revocation of Article 370, which did away with special status for Jammu and on Kashmir, directly to China at the foreign ministers’ level, President Xi may see the August 5 move as a precursor to a possible flare-up between India and Pakistan on the Line of Control (LoC), leading to instability in the region.

This is the line PM Khan has been promoting with the ubiquitous Pakistani threat of a nuclear war.

Rather than derailing the entire exercise over Pakistan, President Xi, already facing flak over Hong Kong protests, may like to take the informal summit towards a positive direction where both countries expand bilateral trade beyond $100 billion while balancing India’s bilateral deficit.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/beijing-s-allegiance-to-pak-key-roadblock-in-india-china-ties/story-e5gS04fWePqHKuVpHmQgyJ.html

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Satya Pal Malik allows NC delegation to meet Abdullahs, under detention, in Srinagar today

Sweta Goswami

Oct 06, 2019

Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik has allowed a delegation of the National Conference (NC) from Jammu to meet party president Farooq Abdullah and vice-president Omar Abdullah, currently under detention, in Srinagar on Sunday.

NC spokesperson Madan Mantoo confirmed the development, saying, “The delegation, comprising provincial president Devender Singh Rana and former party legislators, will leave from Jammu on Sunday morning.”

Rana had sought a permission in this regard from the governor on Thursday evening.

Mantoo said the decision to meet the two leaders was taken during an emergency meeting of the senior functionaries and district presidents of Jammu on Wednesday, soon after restrictions on the movement of Jammu-based National Conference leaders were lifted.

Farooq Abdullah is under house arrest at his Srinagar residence while his son Omar is detained at a state guest house.

The former chief ministers are among over 500 political leaders and activists under detention since August, when the Centre moved to effectively abrogate the Constitution’s Article 370, which conferred special status on Jammu and Kashmir.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/nc-delegation-to-meet-farooq-omar-today/story-0WtSFl2AlCsVdgaFfRfe7M.html

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India protests after China’s envoy in Pakistan says working to help Kashmiris

by Shubhajit Roy

October 6, 2019

Days before Chinese President Xi Jinping is likely to visit India for an informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Mamallapuram on October 11-12, India lodged a “strong protest” with China through diplomatic channels Saturday over controversial comments made by the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan on Kashmir.

The Sunday Express has learnt that India has also “sought clarification” over what is seen as a departure from Beijing’s stated position on Jammu and Kashmir.

Chinese ambassador in Islamabad Yao Jing said Friday that China would stand by Pakistan for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. “We are also working for Kashmiris to help them get their fundamental rights and justice. There should be a justified solution to the issue of Kashmir and China will stand by Pakistan for regional peace and stability,” he said, according to Pakistani daily, The Express Tribune.

Yao, who has served in New Delhi as deputy chief of mission earlier, said this at a dialogue on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) hosted by the Karachi Council on Foreign Relations. Delhi views his comments as a departure from Beijing’s position which has always maintained that the issue of Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, and the two countries must resolve this dispute bilaterally. Yao’s statement is also seen by Delhi as interfering with India’s “internal matter” and “not keeping in spirit” with the proposed visit by Xi.

This also comes just after Chinese Vice Minister Luo Zhaohui, who was Chinese envoy to India, raised the issue of the Himgiri military exercises in Arunachal Pradesh with Foreign secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale. Luo, who is visiting India to lay the groundwork for Xi’s visit for the informal summit, had raised the issue of military exercises in Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims to be part of it’s own territory. India rejects such claims.

Meanwhile, Chinese Embassy spokesperson Ji Rong also disputed Saturday a report in the media that the 150th birth anniversary celebration of Mahatma Gandhi was held in the Indian Embassy premises in Beijing because the relevant local authority denied permission for it to take place in its chosen venue at Chaoyang Park of Beijing.

Ji said, “I have noted the relevant report. We have learned that due to the celebration activities of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the Indian embassy in China has been advised to hold this year’s 150th birth anniversary celebration of Mahatma Gandhi somewhere else. It’s purely for technical reasons. Mahatma Gandhi is an important historical figure who led India to shake off colonial rule and win independence. He is widely respected in China and the world. The Chinese side welcomes the hosting of relevant events in China to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi.”

The string of strong statements comes days before the informal summit for which India has already been making preparations.

While officials have made arrangements for the two leaders to meet in an informal environment around the temples in Mamallapuram, Delhi and Beijing are yet to confirm the visit officially. According to the proposed schedule, Xi is likely to arrive in Chennai on October 11 and leave on October 12, a shorter duration than what Modi’s when he went to Wuhan for the first informal summit.

Incidentally, Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had raised the issue of Kashmir at the UN General Assembly on September 27 — the day Modi and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan had spoken.

“The Kashmir issue, a dispute left from the past, should be peacefully and properly addressed in accordance with the UN Charter, Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements. No actions that would unilaterally change the status quo should be taken. As a neighbour of both India and Pakistan, China hopes to see the dispute effectively managed and stability restored to the relationship between the two sides,” Wang had said.

Responding to Wang’s statement, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said, “The Chinese side is well aware of India’s position that Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh are an integral part of India, and that the recent developments are entirely a matter internal to us.”

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/china-on-kashmir-lockdown-india-pakistan-6055722/

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Poised for ‘golden chapter’, India-Bangladesh look to build a bright shared future

by Shubhajit Roy

October 6, 2019

Behind the noise over the controversial National Register of Citizens (NRC), New Delhi and Dhaka are looking at consolidating the gains from the bilateral relationship of the past decade, and to make the progress “irreversible”.

What started as an attempt to reset the relationship with Dhaka back in 2008 when Sheikh Hasina became Prime Minister, is today India’s good-news story in South Asia.

The reset in the relationship was particularly important after Khaleda Zia’s BNP-Jamaat-e-Islami government, which was a bitter experience for New Delhi in terms of terrorist attacks and anti-India activities from Bangladesh soil.

In Hasina’s first term, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government found the momentum to initiate the resolution of the long-pending Land Boundary. But while the text was finalised, it was stalled by the BJP in Parliament. And in 2011, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee stalled the Teesta water-sharing agreement for the first time.

After Narendra Modi became Prime Minister in 2014, the BJP made a U-turn on the land boundary agreement, leading to the resolution of the historical dispute. However, on Teesta, Dhaka’s biggest complaint has been New Delhi’s inability to deliver on its commitment over the last five years.

On Saturday, Hasina said that the people of Bangladesh were awaiting early signing and implementation of the Framework of Interim Agreement for sharing of the Teesta waters, as agreed upon by both governments in 2011. Modi said that his government was working with all stakeholders in India for conclusion of the agreement “soonest possible”.

“It’s not that we don’t want to sign. But political compulsions have prevented us from signing,” a source in the government said.

Now, with the BJP in West Bengal challenging Banerjee, it seems that this diplomatic hot potato has become an even more complicated question.

But the two sides are confident that they will not allow this to become an irritant in the relationship. As Modi met Hasina on Saturday, he is learnt to have told her in Bangla that the two countries are poised for a “shonali adhyay” (golden chapter) in the soon-to-be 50-year-old relationship.

Indeed, over the last decade, the two sides have broadened their areas of cooperation from economy to nuclear, and from connectivity to terrorism. They are now looking at shared prosperity and opportunity, cutting across fields, and at a shared future.

The PM has already assured Hasina that there should be no worries on account of the NRC. Government sources said that he reiterated to Hasina on Saturday that the NRC was an “ongoing process” which was “court-mandated”, and one has to see how that process unfolds.

An Indian government source told The Sunday Express that the process would take a least 5 to 7 years to reach a stage where some action might take place, and the two sides have decided to work on opportunities that exist right now, and not think about the medium-term future. Last year, then Home minister Rajnath Singh had assured Dhaka that nobody would be deported.

A Bangladeshi diplomat said on Saturday: “There is a saying in Bangla, ‘Jodi-r kotha nodi-te’,” which translates literally as “worries about ‘ifs’ are best thrown in the river”. For the present, the two countries were looking at a “mutually beneficial” partnership, and to make the progress they achieve “irreversible”, the diplomat said.

Bangladesh is growing at a rapid 8% annually; its economy has grown by a huge 188% since 2009. Its per capita income is around $ 2,000, and the value of its exports to India crossed $1 billion in 2019, a year-on-year growth of 52%. Hasina wants Bangladesh to rise from being a Least Developed Country (LDC) to a Developing Country by 2021, and a developed country by 2041. Both India and Bangladesh are now looking at a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

For decades, India has faced difficulty in accessing the Northeast of the country, having to negotiate the so-called chicken’s neck in North Bengal. The friendly government in Dhaka, with an assured political mandate, has more flexiblility in giving access to India’s Northeast through Bangladeshi territory. Several insecurities of the past are fading.

The joint statement said that the two leaders welcomed the conclusion of Standard Operating Procedures for the use of Chattogram and Mongla ports for movement of goods to and from India, particularly to and from the North East of India, which could create a “win-win situation for both economies”.

A Bangladeshi diplomat said that the two countries were now the “most-connected” in the South Asian region. After Hasina’s visit, the two countries will increase flights from 61 to 91 per week in summer, and to 120 per week in winter. The frequency of the Maitree Express will go up from 4 times to 5 per week, and that of Bandhan Express from once to twice per week. Both sides on Saturday welcomed plans for a Dhaka-Siliguri bus; there are services between Kolkata and Dhaka and Agartala and Dhaka already.

Beyond it’s own 162 million people, Bangladesh can be the connecting landmass to a combined market of nearly 3 billion people. With this in mind, the two sides agreed on Saturday that regional and sub-regional cooperation is a priority area for the two countries.

As the SAARC has become moribund due to Pakistan’s attitude, New Delhi and Dhaka have focussed their energies on BIMSTEC, a key grouping in which they have shared interests.

New Delhi hopes that as Bangladesh’s economy improves and more people come out of poverty, the illegal migrations into India would automatically stop.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/poised-for-golden-chapter-india-bangladesh-look-to-build-a-bright-shared-future-6055711/

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India calls for increased cooperation between UN, FATF to deal with terror groups

October 5, 2019

Calling for increased cooperation between the United Nations and organisations such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), India has said this will help in dealing with the nexus of terrorist groups and transnational organised criminal networks that helps raise funds for terror financing and recruiting and other illicit activities across borders, reported PTI.

Speaking at a General Assembly Third Committee that deals with social, humanitarian affairs and human rights issues, First Secretary in India’s Permanent Mission to the UN Paulomi Tripathi said transnational organised crimes continue to undermine efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals, and threaten international peace and security.

“Terrorist organisations are increasingly drawing sustenance by using transnational organised criminal networks for illicit activities to raise funds. Crime syndicates are in cahoots with terrorists, providing them services such as counterfeiting, money laundering, arms dealing, drug trafficking and smuggling terrorists across borders,” Tripathi was quoted as saying by PTI.

Tripathi highlighted how activities of terror groups such as ISIL, Al Shabab and Boko Haram using extortion, human trafficking, extraction of natural resources, trade in cultural artefacts and illicit taxation in areas under their control, manifest the blurring of lines between crime and terror.

“There is also increasing evidence that narcotics are being used not just for terror financing but for luring youth to be recruited by the terrorists. Revenue generated by illicit activities of terrorists and criminal groups are moved across borders and exchanged through open networks,” she said.

Tripathi underscored that such a situation calls for far more coherent and resolute response and “the UN needs to increase cooperation with other bodies such as Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which is playing a significant role in setting global standards for preventing and combating money laundering and terrorist financing.”

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-calls-for-increased-cooperation-between-un-fatf-to-deal-with-terror-groups/

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Hard Times Have Pakistani Hindus Looking to India, Where Some Find Only Disappointment

By Maria Abi-Habib

Oct. 5, 2019

JODHPUR, India — By the time an angry Muslim mob stormed the local Hindu school and ransacked an adjacent temple a few weeks ago, many members of Pakistan’s dwindling Hindu minority had already been wondering whether it was worth trying to stay in a country where they felt increasingly unsafe.

In April, an angry mob vandalized a different Hindu temple, smashing its idols and chucking the pieces in an open sewer. In May, a Hindu veterinarian was accused of blasphemy in a neighboring town, his shop burned to the ground on the rumor that he was selling medicine wrapped in Islamic religious text.

More than 70 years after the partition of India and Pakistan, increasing violence in this officially Muslim country against the Hindu minority — about 1 percent of Pakistan’s 210 million people — is leading some Hindus to rethink the choices and fate that left their families on the Pakistani side of the line in 1947, residents say.

“Most of our elders at the time of partition did not migrate to India because they did not want to lose their businesses. But now they see it was the wrong decision,” said Kumar, a small-business owner from Ghotki District in Pakistan’s Sindh Province, where the attacks unfolded on Sept. 15. He asked that his last name be withheld, fearing mob violence.

“I am considering moving to India, where at least no one can kill me on the basis of my faith,” he said.

The trepidation among Pakistani Hindus is mirrored in many ways among the Muslim minority in India, where a campaign of Hindu nationalism led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party has left many Muslims feeling targeted. Sectarian fears in both India and Pakistan always peak during times of tension, and hostility between the neighbors is running particularly high right now.

In Pakistan, local officials say the pressure for Hindus to weigh moving to India has not been this great since a wave of sectarian violence led many to migrate in the 1990s, after a Hindu mob in India tore down a 16th-century mosque, the Babri Masjid, leading to retaliatory attacks in Pakistan.

The current migration is because of Mr. Modi’s open appeals to Hindu identity in India, they say, stripping the country of the secular framework it was founded on to give supremacy to their religion.

Since Mr. Modi’s election victory, Pakistani Hindus say they have had an easier time obtaining religious or pilgrimage visas to India, which they can then convert to long-term visas if they seek Indian citizenship.

Though the exact number of Hindu migrants is hard to pin down, indications of a wider push to go to India can be seen in the numbers of those long-term visas. In 2018, the Indian government granted 12,732 long-term visas, compared with 4,712 in 2017, and 2,298 in 2016, according to the Ministry of External Affairs. About 95 percent of long-term visas are granted to Pakistani Hindus, officials say.

Millions of Hindus remained in Pakistan when Britain carved out the state from the subcontinent to create a Muslim homeland at independence in 1947. They were unwilling to abandon their homes and businesses, like the millions of Muslims who ended up on the Indian side during partition, where now about 200 million live.

But angry sectarian mobs on both sides of the border sought to change those demographics at the nations’ birth, killing up to two million people and displacing 14 million. Trains packed with terrified Muslims and Hindus fleeing in opposite directions on the railway between India and Pakistan arrived full of corpses, passengers massacred mid-journey.

Train service between the countries was suspended when they went to war in 1965 and 1971, but eventually resumed. Last month, Pakistan suspended India-bound trains once again, protesting New Delhi’s move to strip the autonomy from the portion of Kashmir it controls, a Muslim-majority state the countries have long fought over.

Even among Pakistani Hindus who are considering going to India, there are very real reasons to hesitate.

Kumar is one who is torn. Though he was shaken by the recent violence in his hometown, he said he was still reluctant to pick up and leave when the trains start running again. He has said goodbye to neighbors who have migrated to India, only to see them return to Pakistan months or years later, disappointed.

Bhagchand Bheel is one of the disappointed. When he migrated to India in 2014, he was grateful to leave the violence and pressure of Karachi, Pakistan’s commercial hub. He boarded the Thar Express to Zero Point Station, the last stop before the border, where he and his family lugged their bags by foot into India, settling in a camp in the city of Jodhpur.

He was among his people, he thought, and could finally be free. But he is of a lower caste, and when he tried to enter a Hindu temple, he was barred entry by the priest because of it, he said. And when he tried to drink from the community water well, he was physically assaulted by upper caste Brahmins who accused him of polluting it.

“In Pakistan, the only thing that matters is if you are Hindu or Muslim,” said Mr. Bheel, whose last name is derived from his tribe. “Because we are Hindus, in Pakistan we were discriminated against. But in India, I face discrimination because I’m a Bheel.”

Like many Pakistani Hindus, Mr. Bheel migrated after Mr. Modi came to power in 2014, after a long campaign promoting Hindu nationalism.

Muslims in India say life has gotten progressively harder for them, too. Mr. Modi’s government is accused of turning a blind eye to the scores of Muslim men lynched by Hindu mobs. When an 8-year old Muslim girl was gang raped and killed in Kashmir last year by Hindu men, local police officers allegedly helped cover up the crime.

But despite the discrimination Muslims face in India, they do not tend to migrate to Pakistan in the numbers their Hindu counterparts in Pakistan do. Indian Muslims tend to migrate to the West instead.

In the Al Kausar Nagar migrant camp in Jodhpur, huts made out of thin, wispy branches, like birds’ nests, nestle in clusters, with quilts with vibrant Pakistani tribal designs hanging off their sides.

Bands of Pakistani Hindu women crouch over unfinished quilts, stitching away, hoping to sell them in the market to wealthier Indians. They complain that they receive little government assistance, siphoning what little electricity and water they can off municipal lines, and that the quality of public schooling for their children is not as good as it is in Pakistan, a main source of grievance for the many who migrated to give their children better opportunities.

This is not the Hindu paradise they had crossed the border to join, they said. This is not the India Mr. Modi promised them.

Mr. Bheel is wracked by doubt, the same doubt his grandfather had when he chose to keep the family in Pakistan during partition. Did he make the right choice?

He left his home and siblings in Karachi, trading a lucrative job as an administrator of a medical clinic there to live as a migrant in India. His medical diploma, one of the few possessions he brought with him, hangs proudly on a wall, although it is not valid in India. He struggles to make ends meet here.

“You take these decisions sometimes out of excitement for what your life could be,” Mr. Bheel said, his daughter cuddling beside him on a bench. “Then you arrive and realize it’s much different on the ground.”

Mr. Bheel looked on as his wife struggled to contain rainwater leaking from the ceiling, after a monsoon swiftly obliterated the sunny sky. Eventually she gave up, running out of pots and buckets.

“Maybe this wasn’t the right decision for me,” he said. “But maybe my children will look back and say, ‘My father made the right choice.’”

Full report at:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/05/world/asia/pakistan-hindu-india-modi.html

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Pakistan

 

Pakistan PM Imran Khan warns PoK residents against crossing LoC

Oct 5, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday asked the residents of PoK not to cross the Line of Control (LoC) to extend humanitarian aid to the Kashmiri people after India removed the special status of the state two months back.

"I understand the anguish of the Kashmiris seeing their fellow Kashmiris in Jammu and Kashmir.... Anyone crossing the LoC to provide humanitarian aid or support for Kashmiri struggle will play into the hands of the Indian narrative," Khan said in a tweet.

I understand the anguish of the Kashmiris in AJK seeing their fellow Kashmiris in IOJK under an inhumane curfew for over 2 months. But any one crossing the LoC from AJK to provide humanitarian aid or support for Kashmiri struggle will play into the hands of the Indian narrative -

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10:06 AM - Oct 5, 2019

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Tension between India and Pakistan escalated after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status on August 5.

Pakistan has downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.

Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue but India has asserted that the abrogation of Article 370 was its "internal matter". New Delhi has also asked Islamabad to accept the reality and stop its anti-India rhetoric

Khan's advice comes a day after tens of hundreds of emotionally charged Kashmiris from different parts of PoK set out in vehicular and motorcycle rallies to Muzaffarabad on the call of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, the Dawn reported.

India has been condemning "provocative and irresponsible" statements against it by Khan over abrogation of provisions of Article 370.

In New Delhi, ministry of external affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar on Friday said the comments made by Khan do not behove the post he holds.

In his maiden speech at the UNGA last month, Khan raised the Kashmir issue and demanded that India must lift the "inhuman curfew" in Kashmir and release all "political prisoners".

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/imran-khan-warns-pok-residents-against-crossing-loc/articleshow/71453755.cms

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Nawaz appeals IHC to review evidence linked to videogate

Oct 6, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday requested the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to review the evidence linked to a controversial video and statement of former accountability judge Arshad Malik before deciding the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo’s appeal against his conviction in the Al-Azizia case.

The petition submitted by Nawaz’s lawyer stated that Arshad Malik’s statement “showed one side of the argument” and urged the court to hear the “other side” as well.

He appealed the court to take into consideration the arguments and evidence regarding the judge’s video before passing a verdict on his previous appeal.

Last month, Nawaz’s lawyer Khawaja Haris had urged the two-judge bench hearing his appeal to include “verified copies” of a press release and an affidavit submitted to IHC by judge Malik — following the release of a controversial video of the judge — to the paper book of the former premier’s petition. The request was granted by the court.

The petition submitted by Nawaz’s lawyer today stated that Malik’s statement “showed one side of the argument” and urged the court to hear the “other side” as well.

He appealed the court to take into consideration the arguments and evidence regarding the judge’s video before passing a verdict on his previous appeal.

In December 2018, Nawaz was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined Rs1.5 billion and US $25 million after then accountability judge Malik found him guilty in the Al Azizia corruption case. The former premier, who is currently in Kot Lakhpat jail, filed an appeal against the conviction in the IHC.

In July this year, Nawaz’s daughter Maryam Nawaz called the judgement into question after showing a video clip in which Malik allegedly confessed that he had been “blackmailed” into convicting Nawaz. Maryam, who is currently in NAB custody, had called for an overturning of Nawaz’s conviction.

Malik was removed from his position after the video was released and has been repatriated to the Lahore High Court where disciplinary proceedings against him will be held.

While deciding a set of petitions regarding the video leak scandal, the Supreme Court had in August ruled that, “The relevant video cannot be of any legal benefit to Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif unless it is properly produced before the Islamabad High Court, Islamabad in the pending appeal, its genuineness is established and then the same is proved in accordance with the law for it to be treated as evidence in the case.”

REQUEST TO ATTACH MORE DOCUMENTS:

Meanwhile, Nasir Butt, who is suspected to be the second person in judge Malik’s ‘confession’ video, also filed an appeal in the high court on Saturday along with documents, which included notarised copies of the video’s audio transcript, audio-cum-video transcript, the appellant’s affidavit attested by the Pakistan High Commission in the United Kingdom, etc.

He urged the court to include the documents in the appeal filed by Nawaz “in order to secure the ends of justice”.

Nasir, in his appeal, said that he has been the senior vice president of the PML-N in the UK for the past 14 years.

Also on Saturday, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested Nasir Butt’s nephew, Hamza Butt, and another relative named Shoaib during a raid on the residence of Nasir’s brother in Ratta Amral area of Rawalpindi.

Hamza and Shoaib were shifted to the FIA headquarters in Islamabad. However, Shoaib was later released on the condition that he would appear before the agency when summoned.

Confirming the raid at his house, Nasir’s younger brother Hafiz Abdullah Butt told a news channel that FIA personnel had repeatedly asked them for a laptop.

“We have nothing to do with Nasir Butt’s case,” Abdullah said of his brother, adding that the video scandal was a matter between Nasir and his party, the PML-N.

The FIA also claimed to have arrested a suspect who allegedly recorded the video of the meeting between Nasir Butt and judge Malik, in which the latter allegedly confessed to have convicted Nawaz under pressure. The search for a second suspect behind the video recording is underway.

The suspect, identified as Faisal Shaheen, was arrested during a late-night raid in Gulraiz area of Rawalpindi, an FIA spokesperson said.

The investigative agency presented Shaheen before a sessions court, which granted FIA his physical remand until Monday.

The FIA informed the court that Shaheen confessed that he had recorded a video of the Nasir Butt-judge Malik meeting on his mobile phone. The video clip was then transferred to the laptop of Hamza Butt, the nephew of Nasir.

The agency said it wanted to retrieve the laptop and other devices from the suspects.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/05/judge-video-scandal-nawaz-sharif-appeals-ihc-for-review/

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Chanting anti-India slogans, JKLF marchers head to LoC

Tariq Naqash

October 06, 2019

MUZAFFARABAD: Thousands of people, mostly youngsters, took an overnight break in the town of Garhi Dupatta on Saturday evening after marching some 20km on foot through the Muzaffarabad-Srinagar Highway.

Earlier, they resumed their ‘freedom march’, under the aegis of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), towards the restive Line of Control (LoC) from the state capital at about 11am, chanting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans.

The marchers had started their journey in vehicles and motorbikes from different parts of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Friday morning and had spent the night in Muzaffarabad after reaching here by or past midnight.

At about 10am on Saturday, they assembled at Upper Adda — a hub of political gatherings since long — from where they resumed their march towards Chakothi sector.

“Kashmir banega khudmukhtar (Kashmir will become an independent state),” was the frequently chanted slogan by the marchers, who were holding portraits of guerrilla leader Maqbool Butt, former JKLF chairman late Amanullah Khan and current chairman Yasin Malik.

“UN: Kashmir seeks your urgent attention,” read a large banner being held by the marchers in the front row.

“UN take over the control of entire state of Jammu and Kashmir to hold a plebiscite therein,” read some placards.

As the marchers walked through the Bank Road, rose petals were showered on them by trader leaders Shaukat Nawaz Mir and Abbas Qadri.

On Friday, two AJK ministers had also held a meeting with JKLF leaders, reiterating their appeal that the marchers should not go close to the LoC, let alone making an attempt to cross it.

In response, the JKLF leaders had assured the team that they would remain completely peaceful throughout the journey to the LoC.

Mohammad Rafiq Dar, central spokesperson for the JKLF, told Dawn that the UN Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan had also contacted them the other day to ascertain their stance.

“Apart from apprising the UN observers of the objectives of the peaceful march, we reiterated our organisation’s demand to the UN to send peacekeeping forces to take control of entire state and create an atmosphere conducive to a UN-sponsored referendum,” he said.

The UN was also reminded of its Resolution number 47, para 2 passed on April 21, 1948 which declared the LoC crossing a lawful activity, he said.

Mr Dar said the JKLF had also demanded of the UN to persuade India and Pakistan not to use force to quell this peaceful march.

On Saturday, the marchers were also angry at Prime Minister Imran Khan’s early morning tweet, wherein he had maintained that any attempt to cross the LoC would amount to playing into the hands of Indian narrative.

“We reject the notions of both countries; of India that we are holding this march at the behest of Pakistan, and of Pakistan that we are playing into the hands of India,” Mr Dar said.

“It is our own indigenous initiative and neither do we need certificates from nor are we agents of any of the two countries. We are the agents of our Kashmiri Nation,” he added.

Tahir Mahmood, a jeweller who had joined the march from Kotli, said PM Khan’s tweet was uncalled-for because the Kashmiris had taken this step “at the end of their tether”.

“First we waited for his speech to the UN General Assembly. And now more than a week after his speech is there any change in the situation across the LoC,” he said.

“And since there is no change, why he wants us to sit at home and watch killing and torture of our brethren silently.”

Sheharyar Ahmed, a second year student in Tetrinote village of Hajira sector, said PM Khan’s statement had hurt the Kashmiris.

“What the prime minister has done after his return from the UN? Does he want us to believe that mere speech can overthrow Indian occupation of Kashmir,” he questioned.

Meanwhile, heavy contingents of police had taken positions in Chinari to meet any eventuality.

At Jiskool, a spot located little ahead of Chinari and 8km before the LoC, containers were placed by the administration on the main road to block it for all kinds of vehicles.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1509255/chanting-anti-india-slogans-jklf-marchers-head-to-loc

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Mishal calls for UN peacekeepers in held Kashmir

Parvaiz Ishfaq Rana

October 06, 2019

KARACHI: Mishal Malik, social activist and wife of jailed Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik, on Saturday called upon the United Nations to work for demilitarising India-held Kashmir and send a peacekeeping force to stop atrocities in the occupied valley.

During her visit to the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), she said that over 2.2 million Kashmiris were ready to cross the Line of Control (LoC).

Ms Malik lauded the business community for putting the Kashmir issue above their interests and snapped trade relations with India. “It is overwhelming to see the support and sentiment of the business community towards the Kashmir cause,” she added.

She said that it was the Kashmir issue which had been hindering the development process of Pakistan and Kashmir, noting that the Indian occupied forces were killing unarmed Kashmiris.

She regretted that world capitals were silent over Indian atrocities against innocent Kashmiris. For almost two months the people of India-held Kashmir had been confined to their homes without food, water and medicines. Children in the occupied valley were not attending their schools and colleges whereas hospitals were also not functioning, she said.

She said that India through its intelligence agency RAW was carrying out terrorist activities in Pakistan. But, she added, no voice was being raised on world forums about heinous crimes being committed by India.

Talking about her role in the freedom movement, Ms Malik said she had never been so bold and active, but her inspiration had come from her mother and daughter.

A graduate from the London School of Economics, Ms Malik recalled that only 60 days after her marriage in 2002, her husband, Yasin Malik, was put in jail by Indian authorities.

She said the struggle for the freedom of Kashmir was a long and difficult journey and that she was ready for this fight. “I look at this as a mission,” she added.

Ms Malik, who visited the mausoleum of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah a day earlier, paid tribute to the father of the nation, saying that she had taken her courage for taking part in the freedom movement from the Quaid-i-Azam.

She lauded Prime Minister Imran Khan for effectively raising the Kashmir issue at the United Nations General Assembly.

Ms Malik said the business community could play a big role in stopping Indian atrocities against Kashmiris by raising their voice in all international trade forums.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1509256/mishal-calls-for-un-peacekeepers-in-held-kashmir

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Ex-MQM lawmaker, six others acquitted in anti-state CDs case

October 06, 2019

KARACHI: An antiterrorism court on Saturday acquitted a former Muttahida Qaumi Movement legislator and six others of charges of distributing compact discs (CDs) containing anti-state speeches of their London-based party chief Altaf Hussain.

Former MPA Sheeraz Waheed; Naeem Shamshad; M. Nabeel; Mubeen, alias Pakistani; Danish Saeed; Ali Hasan, alias Guddu and Syed Mohammad Shoaib were acquitted of the charges of distributing CDs, which contained speeches and statements to wage war against the state, among the people in an Ahsanabad locality in 2016.

On Saturday, the ATC-II judge pronounced her judgement reserved after recording evidence and final arguments from both sides on Oct 5. All the accused appeared on bail. The judge noted that the prosecution failed to prove allegations against the legislator and others beyond a reasonable shadow of a doubt.

The judge cancelled their bail and also discharged their surety. The case against a proclaimed offender, Syed Azhar Ali, alias Anna, was kept on the dormant file until his arrest or surrender.

On Oct 5, the court had reserved its judgement after hearing final arguments from both sides.

According to the prosecution, former lawmaker Waheed along with his around 15 accomplices allegedly distributed CDs, which contained speeches and statements of MQM chief Altaf Hussain to wage war or attempt or abet to wage war against the country, among the people in Ahsanabad.

In the final arguments, special public prosecutor Nazir Ahmed Bhangwar had contended that the prosecution had enough evidence, including 32 such CDs recovered by the police from the custody of the MPA at the time of his arrest, and eyewitnesses and other material to prove the allegations against the accused. He pleaded to convict them in accordance with the law.

On the other hand, the defence counsel, advocates Asadullah Memon and Firdous Faridi, argued that the police framed their clients in the present case with mala fide intentions and had levelled false and fabricated charges against their clients for ulterior motives.

The counsel pleaded with the court to acquit their clients and that they were innocent and had nothing to do with the offence.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1509170/ex-mqm-lawmaker-six-others-acquitted-in-anti-state-cds-case

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Pakistan tells India to keep lectures on diplomacy to itself

Oct 6, 2019

ISLAMABAD: A day after Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson claimed that Prime Minister Imran Khan made “provocative” statements during UNGA address last month, Pakistan has hit back saying “India would be well-advised to keep its lectures on diplomacy and normality to itself. All we would like to stress is, “Physician, heal thyself!”.

“If India feels provoked, it is only because India is unwilling to face the truth about its indefensible actions that are driven by the toxic mix of an extremist ideology and hegemonic ambitions,” read a Foreign Office statement issued on Saturday. The Indian spokesperson on Friday claimed that the PM Imran had used “provocative and irresponsible” statements during UN General Assembly 74th session against India last month in New York.

“We completely reject the comments made by the spokesman of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) about Prime Minister Imran’s statements and on other Kashmir and Pakistan-related issues,” read the FO statement.

“Exposing India’s egregious behaviour and state-terrorism in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir is part of our international obligations and our moral responsibility to the Kashmiri victims of Indian repression,” the statement added.

PM Imran during his UNGA address last month had exposed the atrocities committed by Indian forces in the occupied valley which has been under lockdown since August 5 after New Delhi revoked its special status.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/05/pakistan-tells-india-to-keep-lectures-on-diplomacy-to-itself/

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Fazlur Rehman wants anarchy, instability in country, says Rasheed

Oct 6, 2019

LAHORE: Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad on Saturday said that Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman wants clash on political and religious issues.

Addressing a press conference at the Railways Headquarters here, he said that the JUI-F leader would be directly responsible in case of unrest, anarchy and confrontation on borders if he staged any protest.

He advised the Fazlur Rehman not to involve religious sections of society in an agitation against the government. “His agitation can damage the Kashmir freedom movement,” he added.

Sheikh Rasheed said, “Kashmir is dearer to us than our lives.” He said that tensions in the entire region had heightened due to the Kashmir issue. “All demands of Fazlur Rehman in regard to the situation in occupied Kashmir have already been presented before the United Nations by Prime Minister Imran Khan in his speech,” he added.

The railways minister said that Fazlur Rehman had earlier defamed the opposition and brought a bad name to national politics. He said that Fazlur Rehman wanted to use Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) but now he himself was being used.

“I want to give a message to religious forces that the Maulana is going to lead a clash on politics and religious issues,” the minister added.

Sheikh Rasheed alleged that Maulana Mufti Mehmood, father of Maulan Fazlur Rehman, had run a movement in the name of Islam while his son was misusing his father’s slogans for political gain.

The minister said that circumstances in Indian Occupied Kashmir were not normal and Kashmiris would continue their struggle for freedom from India, but the measures by Fazlur Rehman could cause disappointment among Kashmiris.

The minister commended Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s statement and advised PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif to choose a side. He said that a new era of politics had begun.

He claimed that the movement of Fazlur Rehman would come to an end if Imran only announced the release of six people. “Prime Minister and Pak Army are on the same page for national economic progress, national solidarity and stability,” he added.

The minister said that the opposition thought that there could be no way out by pushing Fazlur Rehman on the front line, but he added, it would never happen.

To a question, he suggested that Shehbaz Sharif should not become “Double Shah” and advised him to not play a double game as the situation in the country was not in his favor and the country was unable to bear instability.

The minister said that opposition leaders were striving to protect their father, brother and auntie (Phupho). He said that the prime minister was taking bold steps for placing the economy on the right path. He said credit goes to Prime Minister Imran Khan and said that the world had trust in him and it believed that he was an honest politician.

He said that the movement of Fazlur Rehman was nothing more than a tactic to blackmail the government.

The minister congratulated Imran Khan on his birthday and said the prime minister was going to China on an important visit during which the Main Line-1 project would be finalised.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/05/fazlur-rehman-wants-anarchy-instability-in-country-sh-rashid/

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UN chief repeats call for Kashmir dialogue

Oct 6, 2019

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday repeated his concerns over the situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir, where people have been languishing under a tight lockdown for the past two months.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told a regular briefing in New York that the secretary general again urges India and Pakistan to hold dialogue to resolve the crisis. “The secretary general’s position on Kashmir has not changed,” Dujarric said.

Responding to a question about the worsening humanitarian situation in the occupied Kashmir, where nearly eight million people are living in an open prison without basic rights, the spokesman said human rights issue needs to be addressed.

“[The human rights issue has] to be in the forefront,” the spokesperson told reporters. He added that the UN chief had underscored the need for addressing human rights of Kashmiri people in order to resolve the crisis.

“Our message on Kashmir has not changed as the situation on the ground has not changed, so I would refer you to what we’ve already said, expressing our concern, encouraging dialogue, and saying that the situation in Kashmir, if it’s going to be solved politically, needs to have human rights at its centre.”

Prime Minister Imran Khan raised the Kashmir issue in his speech at the General Assembly as well as his bilateral meetings with Guterres last month. Imran’s speech was longest at the general debate was 50 minutes, Dujarric said. The shortest was from Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

According to the UN spokesperson, the secretary general had been following closely the recent waves of street demonstrations that have been taking place in several countries around the world, including occupied Kashmir.

“He is deeply concerned that some of these protests have led to violence and, regretfully, in some instances have resulted in the loss of life and serious injuries,” Dujarric said. “The secretary general restates that freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are fundamental rights.”

The secretary general, he said, reiterates his call for security forces to act at all times with maximum restraint and to respond to any acts of violence in conformity with relevant international human rights standards on the use of force by law enforcement officials.

Responding to another question about the report that senior Afghan Taliban leaders met Pakistan officials, the spokesperson said: “We would believe that… I think a resumption of the dialogue [with US] would, hopefully, help the situation [in the war-torn country].”

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/05/un-chief-repeats-call-for-kashmir-dialogue/

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South Asia

 

Taliban militants release 43 abducted residents of Ghazni province

06 Oct 2019

The Taliban militants have released 43 civilians whom they had abducted from Khwaja Omari district of Ghazni province.

According to a statement released by Governor’s Office of Ghazni, the Taliban militants had abducted 43 civilians in Khwaja Omari district two days ago.

The statement further added that the hostages were the residents of Deh Haji Village.

The Governor’s Office also added that the Taliban militants released the hostages late on Saturday after the local tribal elders intervened and negotiated with the militants.

The Taliban group has not commented in this regard so far.

https://www.khaama.com/taliban-militants-release-43-abducted-residents-of-ghazni-province-04189/

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Special Forces kill, detain 18 Taliban militants; destroy caches of weapons in 4 provinces

05 Oct 2019

The Afghan Special Forces killed 3 Taliban militants and arrested 15 others during the operations in four provinces in the past 24 hours.

According to military officials, the Special Forces conducted the operations in Charkh and Baraki Bark districts of Logar, Chahar Bolak of Balkh, Khash Rod of Nimroz and Khas Uruzgan district of Uruzgan province.

The officials further added that the Special Forces also destroyed multiple caches of weapons during the same operations.

The officials also added that the Special Forces killed the 3 Taliban militants in Khas Uruzgan of Uruzgan province.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/special-forces-kill-detain-18-taliban-militants-destroy-caches-of-weapons-in-4-provinces-04186/

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Afghan forces foil militants bid to detonate two bombs in Kabul

06 Oct 2019

The Afghan forces foiled militants bid to detonate two improvised explosive devices in capital Kabul, the security officials said.

Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior said the security forces discovered and defused an improvised explosive device in Kart-e Naw area at around 8:40 pm on Saturday.

Rahimi further added that the militants planted the bomb on the roadside in Kart-e Naw area of the city.

Meanwhile, the Kabul Police Headquarters said in a statement that the security forces discovered another improvised explosive device in Tara Khel Village of Deh Sabz earlier on Saturday.

The statement further added that the militants planted the bomb on the main road of Tara Khel Village.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-forces-foil-militants-bid-to-detonate-two-bombs-in-kabul-04187/

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Southeast Asia

 

Malaysia asked to repeal laws curbing freedom of speech

10/5/2019

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Saturday urged the Malaysian government to roll back some of the laws that restrict freedom of expression in the country.

Bachelet cited the laws on sedition, peaceful assembly, official secrets or communication, and multimedia that for a long time (have) impeded freedom of expression and public debate in Malaysia, Efe news reported.

“I hope the government will proceed to roll back the laws,” said the head of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at the end of her two-day trip to Malaysia.

On Friday, she met Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, several ministers, human rights institutions and civil organisations in Kuala Lumpur.

“We discussed many of the human rights issues Malaysia is grappling with, efforts to introduce reforms, achievements, and setbacks along the way. I do believe that the Government is committed to taking the human rights agenda forward,” she said, adding “I also understand the complexity and hurdles they face”.

She praised the government’s commitment to human rights and religious integration in the diverse, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society of Malaysia, a largely Muslim populated country with sizable Hindu and Chinese ethnic groups as well as aborigines.

The UN official said that Malaysia was working on legislative measures to extend the protection of women to achieve gender equality and combat gender discrimination in the country.

“I understand (several) laws are pending, including on sexual harassment in the workplace. I encourage the government to move forward on a comprehensive gender equality bill to tackle discrimination.”

Bachelet said that she also spoke with the authorities about the problems of stateless persons in the country, and urged recognition of the status of refugees of thousands of Rohingya refugees, who escaped a brutal military campaign by the Myanmar army over two years ago.

“I was able to visit an alternative learning centre for Rohingya refugees. I do hope that the legal recognition of refugees can be strengthened and the right to education and access to the job market can be ensured for all refugees, Rohingya and others,” she said.

The UN representative also demanded that Malaysia maintain the current moratorium on the application of the death penalty.

http://www.nagalandpost.com/malaysia-asked-to-repeal-laws-curbing-freedom-of-speech/204852.html

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Dignity comes from doing and not just asking, Dr M tells Malay congress

Sunday, 06 Oct 2019

BY DANIAL DZULKIFLY AND JERRY CHOONG

SHAH ALAM, Oct 6 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the Malay community’s political discord and unwillingness to better itself were among reasons it has lost its dignity and standing.

He said that while Muslim must ask God for blessings as the religion dictates, God will not help those who do not first help themselves.

“In truth we have done many things wrongly, which has now resulted in us being pressured, our dignity in tatters, looked down upon by others,” Dr Mahathir said in his speech at the Malay Dignity Congress at Stadium Melawati.

The prime minister noted that in part due to the country’s democracy that allowed various parties to vie for the same group’s support, Malay political power was now split among six contenders and made insignificant despite the community being the largest racial group in the country.

“This is what we have done to ourselves, not what others have done to us. We broke up in opposition to one another, thus resulting in us having to depend on others to obtain victory.

“It also means we owe them, and fear that without their help we will not gain positions of their own. This led to the decline of Malay dignity,” he said.

Dr Mahathir recounted that although the peninsula originally belonged to the Malays, they eventually had to share it with others.

“Why did this happen? Because we could not bear all the burdens upon us as an independent race. An independent race must do everything by themselves, but we could not bear it and thus got others to come and do it for us.

“Others would not have come here if there were no opportunities. We depended on them until we became enslaved because they were more advanced, succeeding in this country as we did not seize the opportunities,” he said.

Noting that many of these foreigners are willing to shoulder jobs considered dangerous and dirty by the locals, Dr Mahathir added they do not remain in such jobs for long.

“They are willing to do what needs to be done to move ahead in life, leaving their children and grandchildren to move up from such professions.

“It is not because the Malays cannot do it, but they lack the willingness to get it done. What I say may not be easily accepted by those listening to me, but this is what is happening and will be inherited by our youths,” he said.

He also lamented the actions of some Malays who sold their lands for quick profit, which will cost them dearly in the long run.

“Look what happened to areas like Kampung Kerinchi, Kampung Penchala, and Kampung Abdullah Hukum. They were originally designated for Malays, but what has happened?” Dr Mahathir said.

Fast forward to the present, the prime minister said the Malays have still not learned their lesson, as other foreigners now repeat the same process by shouldering these same filthy and dangerous jobs.

“Our dignity is not due to opportunities, or helping hands from the government. Instead it depends on our accomplishments.

“If we become a race that can do everything, rule this nation properly, work hard and in the process become wealthy, then no one would be looking down upon us,” Dr Mahathir said.

He refused to believe sentiments that Malays are less capable than others but stressed that ability alone meant nothing without the will to follow through.

“If others can face the dangers, why not us? When we fail, how can we expect others to view us highly?

“We must make the efforts by ourselves to repair our dignity. This should be the congress’ message. God will not grant our prayers if we sit by and do nothing,” Dr Mahathir said.

The prime minister was presented with the resolutions produced by the congress’ five clusters.

Over 5,000 people attended the congress, co-organised by five universities and NGOs to look into the socio-political problems faced by the Malay community.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/10/06/dignity-comes-from-doing-and-not-just-asking-dr-m-tells-malay-congress/1797656

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Are you Islamophobes, Hadi asks unity meet critics

October 6, 2019

PETALING JAYA: PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang has questioned if those who criticsised his party for taking part in two unity gatherings were Islamophobes.

Hadi said that he had taken note of brickbats after PAS formalised its alliance with Umno last month and the decision to attend the Malay Dignity Congress tomorrow.

Among the criticism was that nationalism clashed with Islamic principles. However, Hadi quoted the Quran to show that even though Prophet Muhammad preached to all communities, he himself was backed, politically, by his own community.

Hadi said that people should understand that Malay-Muslims were the majority in the country and that Islam could unite the community, without sidelining others.

It is compulsory for Muslims to defend their political power, Hadi said. “Is it wrong for Malays to unite under Islam to resolve issues affecting them? “Ask those who oppose such initiatives if they are Islamophobic or if they do not understand Islam,” he said in a Facebook post.

The Malay Dignity Congress is organised by University of Malaya’s Malay Excellence Studies Centre in collaboration with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Universiti Putra Malaysia, and the Sultan Idris Education University.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is scheduled to speak at the event, which Hadi and Umno leaders will attend.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/10/06/are-you-islamophobes-hadi-asks-unity-meet-critics/

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Judiciary’s independence is paramount, says CJ

October 5, 2019

PETALING JAYA: The independence of the judiciary is paramount to ensure the courts have the power to examine legal actions from all parties, says Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat.

She said this at the Lawasia Constitutional & Rule of Law Conference 2019, themed, “Constitutional Government: The Importance of Constitutional Structures and Institutions” at a hotel here today.

She said the conflict between governmental power and individual liberty was an age-old but foreseeable problem that all democratic nations faced.

“Good governance standards dictate that the exercise of this power must be controlled in such a way that it does not interfere with individual rights with impunity.

“That is my humble view of the importance of constitutionalism in public institutions.

“The end result is the creation of a responsible government acting within the purview of the rule of law.”

She also stressed that the duty of the government was to protect the rights of the people, including life, liberties and properties.

“If the government should fail to protect the people’s rights, the citizens would have the right to throw out the government,” she said.

Citing the Federal Court’s landmark decision in the unilateral conversion case of M Indira Gandhi, the chief justice said no law may curtail the inherent power of the courts to engage in judicial review.

The issue in the case was whether the conversion of children to Islam, without the benefit of their mother’s consent, was amenable to judicial review.

It was argued that the decision of conversion by the relevant federal bodies was not amenable to judicial review.

“In rejecting the argument, the Federal Court expressly held that judicial review was a concept inherent to the constitutional order.

“Rather, such powers serve to uphold constitutional supremacy.

“The notion expressed in the Indira Gandhi’s case that the entrenchment of the principle of separation of powers within the basic structure gives true meaning to the core preserve of constitutionalism,” she said.

Tengku Maimun said the net effect of true separation of powers ensures the existence of a proper system of checks and balances.

“This is why any attempt to undermine the strict separation of powers is viewed as an affront to democracy specifically and to constitutionalism generally.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/10/05/judiciarys-independence-is-paramount-says-cj/

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Thai judge shoots himself in court after railing at justice system

October 6, 2019

A Thai judge shot himself in the chest in front of a packed court after acquitting several murder suspects and decrying the kingdom's judicial system in an impassioned speech broadcast on Facebook Live.

Critics say Thailand's courts often work in favour of the rich and powerful, while delivering swift and harsh sentences on ordinary people for minor offences.

But it is virtually unheard of for judges to criticise the system.

Kanakorn Pianchana, a judge at Yala court in the heart of the insurgency-battered Thai south, was delivering the verdict for five Muslim suspects in a gun murder case on Friday afternoon.

He acquitted the group, delivered a courtroom plea for a cleaner justice system, before pulling out a handgun and shooting himself in the chest.

"You need clear and credible evidence to punish someone. So if you're not sure, don't punish them," the judge said addressing the court and broadcasting his words on his phone on Facebook live.

"I'm not saying that the five defendants didn't commit the crimes, they might have done so...

"But the judicial process needs to be transparent and credible... punishing wrong people makes them scapegoats."

The Facebook feed then cut, but witnesses said Kanakorn recited a legal oath in front of the former Thai king's portrait, before shooting himself in the chest.

"He is being treated by the doctors and is out of danger," Suriyan Hongvilai, the spokesman of the Office of the Judiciary, told AFP on Saturday.

"He shot himself because of 'personal stress'. But the cause behind the stress is not clear and will be investigated," he said.

No Thai judge has ever breached protocol by making similar statements on the wider justice system, he added.

A lawyer working with the suspects said Judge Kanakorn had ruled the prosecutor's evidence was insufficient to convict.

"Right now the five are still being detained and are waiting to see if the state prosecutor appeals their acquittal," Abdulloh Hayee-abu, of the Muslim Attorney Centre in Yala told AFP.

Over 7,000 people have died in 15 years of conflict in the Malay-Muslim majority southern region.

Thousands of suspects have been jailed for acts linked to the insurgency, many under emergency laws imposed on the restive region.

Full report at:

https://www.thejakartapost.com/seasia/2019/10/06/thai-judge-shoots-himself-in-court-after-railing-at-justice-system.html

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Arab World

 

Iraq protests death toll nears 100: Rights panel

5 October 2019

The death toll from mass protests in Baghdad and cities across southern Iraq neared 100 on Saturday as the unrest entered its fifth day, a rights panel said.

Five people were killed in Saturday's clashes between protesters and police in Baghdad, police and medical sources told Reuters.

More than 3,000 people have also been injured since the protests against chronic unemployment, poor public services, and widespread corruption erupted in the capital on Tuesday, the parliament’s human rights commission said.

A total of 540 demonstrators have been arrested, of whom nearly 200 remain in custody, the panel added.

The Iraqi government lifted the daytime curfew in Baghdad on Saturday, but access to roads leading to major squares remained blocked for fear of further deadly protests, AFP correspondents reported.

Iraqi security forces Friday opened fire on dozens of protesters gathering in Baghdad for a fourth day of demonstrations against corruption, unemployment, and poor public services, an AFP correspondent reported.

Tensions have been exacerbated by a near-total internet blackout as the authorities seek to prevent protesters communicating with each other or posting footage of the chaotic demonstrations.

The demonstrations are the biggest challenge yet to Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, who has imposed curfews in Baghdad and other cities to try to stop the protests gathering steam.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/05/Iraq-protest-toll-reaches-60-dead-Iraqi-Human-Rights-Commission.html

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Lebanese Paper Reveals US Plots for Hot Summer in Iraq, Baghdad's Measures to Counter

Oct 05, 2019

Security sources told the Arabic-language al-Akhbar newspaper that most people in the recent unrests in Iraq were peacefully shouting their demands while a number of others were after sabotage acts and suspicious plans to turn the scene into violence and chaos.

They added that the US plot to foment chaos in Iraq was disclosed to the intelligence bodies since three months ago, noting that Washington and its allies were due to organize protest rallies under the cover of popular demands and lead it towards unrests and then introduce a popular military commander to lead the so-called salvation government so that the US can strengthen its hegemony over Iraq.

An Iraqi security source told al-Akhbar that the Americans had in mid summer 2019 warned of a hot summer to change everything in Iraq to, in fact, damage Iran's reputation in the Arab nation, adding that they spent the summer for preparations and implemented their plots in a "hot fall".

He added that Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi implemented a counterplan to foil the Americans' plots which includes controlling the security and military bodies, controlling the field situation in 18 Iraqi provinces, state plans and initiatives which can calm people and meet their demands and encourage support for peaceful protests within the framework of law.

The security source said that at present the situation in many Southern Iraqi cities is under control and some sporadic moves are seen in Baghdad and Dhi Qar provinces.

Qais Khazali, the Leader of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq Resistance Movement, revealed, in a press conference more than a month ago on August 26, that some political fractions in Iraq in a joint endeavor with some foreign powers are getting prepared for igniting demonstrations, because they are unhappy with Iraq’s current foreign policy.

“The problem is the ‘Deal of the Century’. They are after making the current administration abide by their demands…. Accordingly, we will witness new demonstrations in Iraq. The demonstrations are scheduled to begin in the tenth month (October). If you liked, record these words of mine. This is not my analysis; it is the information and intelligence I have. They also start with social media to pretend it is public opinion, but in reality they are being led by foreigners,” he said.

Also on Wednesday, Lebanon’s al-Akhbar newspaper disclosed that Saudi Arabia had handed a plot to the administration of US President Donald Trump to stir unrest in Tehran, Baghdad and Beirut. It shows that the three countries of Iran, Iraq and Lebanon are the main targets of the project which is aimed at stimulating the public opinion through the media in order to instigate street protests which would finally weaken the central government. The Arabic-language al-Akhbar newspaper went on adding that After Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman managed to coerce Head of MBC's television network Walid Ibrahim to give in part of the shares of the MBC, through putting him behind the jail, bin Salman gained control over the MBC’s board of directors, injected $100 million into the network to spend it against target audience in Lebanon, Iraq and Iran. Many may have not noticed that there were several rallies in Lebanon concurrent with protests in Iraq, but they failed to attract attention similar to what demonstrations in Iraq did. This remarkable synchronization will be noted by shrewd analysts.

Now, the Saudi plot is being materialized in Iraq, and that is why there is no internal political leadership heading it which makes it seem as if the protests were popular and spontaneous while the plot is riding a wave of economic discontent. The current situation in Iraq is very similar to what was supposed to become nationwide in Iran in late 2017 and early 2018. Both of these cases of protests claimed popularity and independence from any political leadership, and at the same time were heavily dependent on arrangements made and announced on social media.

Both senior Iraqi cleric Seyed Muqtada al-Sadr and Ammar al-Hakim (the former Leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq) have sought to take the lead, but were pushed back by demonstrators.

The US, Saudi, Israeli embassies and governments have thrown their weight behind the protests, raising suspicions of their involvement to yet another level.

New analyses reveal that 79% of hashtags about protests in Iraq on Twitter originate from Saudi Arabia and only 6% are from Iraq, in a stark contrast with claims that the recent days’ demonstrations are popular and spontaneous.

Iraq has been rocked by a new wave of protests over economic hardships and joblessness since October 01.

However, the timing of the start of the protests with the great march of Arbaeen arouse suspicions, as new findings show that Riyadh is resorting to the cyber space where it is stimulating the public on social media platforms.

A new analysis, released on Thursday, shows that, despite all the claims which try to frame the recent unrest in Iraq as a popular movement with no political intention or affiliation, only 6% of the calls for street demonstrations originated from Iraq and the dominant majority belonged to Saudi Arabia where almost 80% of the social media content is devised and posted.

It is not a new revelation that Saudi Arabia uses dozens of Twitter bots whose job in massive scale is to call protesters to join violent street rallies.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980713000543

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Expert: Iraqi Cities in Full Security despite Saudi, British Media's Exaggeration of Incidents

Oct 05, 2019

"The Zionist enemy in collaboration with Britain and Saudi Arabia as well as their affiliated media and even the Wahhabis in the region are attempting to leave a negative impact on the Arbaeen walk through protests under economic pretexts," Hamid Reza Taraqqi told FNA on Saturday.

He added that the Saudi and British media try to exaggerate the incidents and gatherings in Iraq to deter Arbaeen pilgrims' travel to the country.

"This is while calm is prevailing in Iraq and its cities are in full security," Taraqqi said.

Iraq is going through a different time just days before Arbaeen pilgrimage of the year of 1441 (according to the lunar calendar of Islamic months) with protests and demonstrations which apparently have no leader, are apparently popular and seemingly independent but dubiously questionable in many respects.

Demonstrations and street protests began on Tuesday (October 01).

So far, governorates of Baghdad, Najaf, Karbala, Dhi Qar, Maysan, Babil and Basra have been the scene of demonstrations and protests, but there have been reports suggesting that Al Kut, the provincial capital city of Wasit Governorate, has also gone through unrest.

The areas that have witnessed protests, except Baghdad, are all known as the Shiite-inhabited regions. Although rumors have been circulated that some people have been moved from Western Iraq to some of these governorates to attend the demonstrations, Sunni areas appear to have not witnessed such protests until now.

Numerous reports by the Iraqi media, as well as the slogans chanted by protesters, indicate that their main demand is the resolution of economic problems and, in the second place, the fight against political corruption. Eliminating unemployment is one of the most important demands of young people. After these, the emphasis is on the improvement of public services, including utilities (like electricity and running water) and other government services, as the causes of the protests. But the fact that only a few chanted anti-Iran slogans in the middle of these rightful demands is somehow expressive and telling, specially considering that London-, US- and Saudi-based media have kept the few at the center stage to generalize their views for audience.

Although some in Iraq are trying to frame the protests as a popular and independent movement without a political leader, there are several indications showing that they are certainly not spontaneous. Here are some reasons:

The unstable living and economic situation that has been introduced as the cause of the protests is not a new, unprecedented and one-off phenomenon that could lead to a burst of public anger in Iraq.

Qais Khazali, the Leader of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq Resistance Movement, revealed, in a press conference more than a month ago on August 26, that some political fractions in Iraq in a joint endeavor with some foreign powers are getting prepared for igniting demonstrations, because they are unhappy with Iraq’s current foreign policy.

“The problem is the ‘Deal of the Century’. They are after making the current administration abide by their demands…. Accordingly, we will witness new demonstrations in Iraq. The demonstrations are scheduled to begin in the tenth month (October). If you liked, record these words of mine. This is not my analysis; it is the information and intelligence I have. They also start with social media to pretend it is public opinion, but in reality they are being led by foreigners,” he said.

Now that we review the starting date of the protests we see that they kicked off on the first day of the 10th month; exactly as Khazali had said.

Meantime, Lebanon’s al-Akhbar newspaper disclosed that Saudi Arabia had handed a plot to the administration of US President Donald Trump to stir unrest in Tehran, Baghdad and Beirut. It shows that the three countries of Iran, Iraq and Lebanon are the main targets of the project which is aimed at stimulating the public opinion through the media in order to instigate street protests which would finally weaken the central government. The Arabic-language al-Akhbar newspaper went on adding that After Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman managed to coerce Head of MBC's television network Walid Ibrahim to give in part of the shares of the MBC, through putting him behind the jail, bin Salman gained control over the MBC’s board of directors, injected $100 million into the network to spend it against target audience in Lebanon, Iraq and Iran. Many may have not noticed that there were several rallies in Lebanon concurrent with protests in Iraq, but they failed to attract attention similar to what demonstrations in Iraq did. This remarkable synchronization will be noted by shrewd analysts.

Now, the Saudi plot is being materialized in Iraq, and that is why there is no internal political leadership heading it which makes it seem as if the protests were popular and spontaneous while the plot is riding a wave of economic discontent. The current situation in Iraq is very similar to what was supposed to become nationwide in Iran in late 2017 and early 2018. Both of these cases of protests claimed popularity and independence from any political leadership, and at the same time were heavily dependent on arrangements made and announced on social media.

5. It is not at all coincidental that the protests started with the public movement for the massive march of Arbeen. The date of the start of this upheaval is like killing two birds with one stone; on the one hand, it is meant to undermine and overshadow the march of Arbaeen, and as far as this objective is concerned, the push has apparently failed as astunished Iranian interior and foreign ministry officials said on Thursday that visa application for Arbaeen pilgrimage has trippled.

On the other hand, the protests are also believed to be a move to pave the way for overthrowing the administration of Adel Abdul Mahdi's, which has been in power for scarcely a year. Adel Abdul Mahdi's administration is under great pressure from the United States for two reasons; first, unlike the former administration, led by Haider al-Abadi, Abdul Mahdi's administration is not only looking forward to relations with the West, but also it favors good ties with the East. He recently returned from an official visit to China where Baghdad and Beijing sealed numerous commercial and economic agreements. Secondly, and more importantly, his government has recently announced that Israel was behind the attack on the positions of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) of Iraq. This stance itself shows that Baghdad is determined to give an appropriate response to the attacks.

On the 3rd day of the protests (Thursday), the Reuters reported that 11 people were killed in street protests in Iraq, citing Iraqi police. One of the victims is reported to be a policeman. The deadliest city has been Nasiriyah, the capital city of Dhi Qar governorate in Southern Iraq, where 7 people are reported dead. After that is Amarah, the capital city of Maysan governorate. The number of wounded is estimated to be more than five hundred.

The Rudaw news website, based in Iraqi Kurdistan, which is somehow supportive of the protests claimed that the death toll of the unrest has increased to 21.

While all parties and politicians, and even Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, have emphasized on the recognition of an entitlement of protests, some politicians have taken a democratic pose by making double-edged remarks or taking ambiguous positions as if they backed the people.

The political rivals of Adel Abdul Mahdi have said they have not called for the current demonstrations, however, they are not dissatisfied with the situation. They have made vigorous efforts in the past few months to impeach the ministers of the government and even the prime minister, even though the current administration has not yet turned a year old.

In a tweet, on the day 2 of the protests, senior Iraqi cleric Seyed Muqtada al-Sadr said, “We do not want, and it is not in Iraq's interest, to turn popular demonstrations into a party demonstration. Otherwise, we would have called on the revolutionaries of al-Islah (coalition) to join the demonstrations. But we want its popular and peaceful nature to be preserved. ... We also reject any offense against unprotected demonstrators who do not seek corruption and violence.”

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said on the first day of the protests that what happened at Tahrir (liberation) Square of Baghdad on the day was unfortunate and in no one’s interests.

“I call on protesters to exercise restraint, abide by the law, maintain the peacefulness of the demonstrations, and to avoid friction with security forces, endangering public and private interests and vandalism. Security services must also protect protesters and public and private properties,” he added.

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi also called the demonstrations a legitimate right of the people, provided they were peaceful and avoid harm and damage to public or private properties. He urged protestors to exercise restraint, adding that he was supportive of their demands.

Ammar al-Hakim (the former Leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq), on the second day of the protests, described the protesters as "our children" and urged security forces, “Exercise tolerance with our children ... listen to them.” For the past few months, he had also tried to urge his supporters to protest against the government's performance in several Iraqi cities, but the call was defeated by a very low turnout.

Both Sadr and Hakim sought to take the lead, but were pushed back by demonstrators.

The US, Saudi, Israeli embassies and governments have thrown their weight behind the protests, raising suspicions of their involvement to yet another level.

After a curfew was announced in Baghdad, local officials increased the number of governorates under curfew, in a bid to restore calm.

Iraqi officials have announced curfew in Najaf, Babil, Maysan and Dhi Qar governorates. Some sources have reported that the situation in Iraqi cities is getting calmer Friday, though some media, such as the Saudi-run al-Arabiya, have claimed that protesters have taken to the streets in several cities.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980713000446

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Police: Relevant Calm Restored Across Iraq

Oct 05, 2019

"There has been no order issued for exercising violence against the protestors and the security forces support the protestors and properties against the saboteurs who are after damaging and destroying the country," Rasoul was quoted as saying by the Arabic-language al-Soumeriyeh news channel on Saturday.

He added that all Iraqi provinces are under control.

Iraqi Officials announced on Friday that "unknown snipers" killed four people in the country, including two civilians and two security forces.

Qais Khazali, the Leader of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq Resistance Movement, revealed, in a press conference more than a month ago on August 26, that some political fractions in Iraq in a joint endeavor with some foreign powers are getting prepared for igniting demonstrations, because they are unhappy with Iraq’s current foreign policy.

“The problem is the ‘Deal of the Century’. They are after making the current administration abide by their demands…. Accordingly, we will witness new demonstrations in Iraq. The demonstrations are scheduled to begin in the tenth month (October). If you liked, record these words of mine. This is not my analysis; it is the information and intelligence I have. They also start with social media to pretend it is public opinion, but in reality they are being led by foreigners,” he said.

Also on Wednesday, Lebanon’s al-Akhbar newspaper disclosed that Saudi Arabia had handed a plot to the administration of US President Donald Trump to stir unrest in Tehran, Baghdad and Beirut. It shows that the three countries of Iran, Iraq and Lebanon are the main targets of the project which is aimed at stimulating the public opinion through the media in order to instigate street protests which would finally weaken the central government. The Arabic-language al-Akhbar newspaper went on adding that After Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman managed to coerce Head of MBC's television network Walid Ibrahim to give in part of the shares of the MBC, through putting him behind the jail, bin Salman gained control over the MBC’s board of directors, injected $100 million into the network to spend it against target audience in Lebanon, Iraq and Iran. Many may have not noticed that there were several rallies in Lebanon concurrent with protests in Iraq, but they failed to attract attention similar to what demonstrations in Iraq did. This remarkable synchronization will be noted by shrewd analysts.

Now, the Saudi plot is being materialized in Iraq, and that is why there is no internal political leadership heading it which makes it seem as if the protests were popular and spontaneous while the plot is riding a wave of economic discontent. The current situation in Iraq is very similar to what was supposed to become nationwide in Iran in late 2017 and early 2018. Both of these cases of protests claimed popularity and independence from any political leadership, and at the same time were heavily dependent on arrangements made and announced on social media.

Both senior Iraqi cleric Seyed Muqtada al-Sadr and Ammar al-Hakim (the former Leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq) have sought to take the lead, but were pushed back by demonstrators.

The US, Saudi, Israeli embassies and governments have thrown their weight behind the protests, raising suspicions of their involvement to yet another level.

New analyses reveal that 79% of hashtags about protests in Iraq on Twitter originate from Saudi Arabia and only 6% are from Iraq, in a stark contrast with claims that the recent days’ demonstrations are popular and spontaneous.

Iraq has been rocked by a new wave of protests over economic hardships and joblessness since October 01.

However, the timing of the start of the protests with the great march of Arbaeen arouse suspicions, as new findings show that Riyadh is resorting to the cyber space where it is stimulating the public on social media platforms.

A new analysis, released on Thursday, shows that, despite all the claims which try to frame the recent unrest in Iraq as a popular movement with no political intention or affiliation, only 6% of the calls for street demonstrations originated from Iraq and the dominant majority belonged to Saudi Arabia where almost 80% of the social media content is devised and posted.

It is not a new revelation that Saudi Arabia uses dozens of Twitter bots whose job in massive scale is to call protesters to join violent street rallies.

Even the volume of hashtags sent from Kuwait is bigger than Iraq, and 7% of pro-protests tweets are from the tiny Arab country in the South of Iraq.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980713001030

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Iraqi Commander: US Drills Aimed at Paving Ground for ISIL Terrorists' Infiltration

Oct 05, 2019

Hadi al-Khorasani revealed that the US forces were conducting drills and exercises on the Syrian border to make the ground prepared for the ISIL terrorists to infiltrate into the Iraqi desert.

“The Hashd al-Shaabi security forces and fighters have taken full control of the border with Syria,” he said.

"There are areas on the border strip that are under the control of the US forces,” Khorasani said.

He pointed out that the US drills were due to include a crackdown on the ISIL militants fleeing from Syria to Iraq, but “the Americans piloted drones in the desert of al-Anbar to find pathways free from the presence of security forces to facilitate the penetration of the ISIL terrorists into the territory of Iraq."

Relevant reports said late last month that the US-backed ISIL terrorists in the bordering areas of Southeastern Syria attacked the Syrian army positions in a bid to block the reopening of a corridor which links the country to Iraq.

"The ISIL's attempts to launch the attack were made at the American military men's order because the US has kept the ISIL group's units in the region, supports them and uses them for its special plots," a Syrian field source told the Arabic-language website of Sputnik news agency.

He added that the intelligence and logistical forces of the Syrian army rapidly reacted to the terrorists' attacks, killing several of them and forcing others to flee the region.

The source said that the aim of such attacks is compensating for the US and Israel's failed attacks to prevent the bordering Albu Kamal-Qa'em passageway.

Al-Qa'em, an Iraqi town which lies near the strategic border crossing that links to the Syrian town of Albu Kamal, was retaken in the beginning of November last year.

Later the Iraqi military announced that it had restored control over the checkpoints on the border with Syria.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980713001006

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19 killed in protests in Iraq despite calls for calm

5 October 2019

Iraqi protesters pressed on with angry anti-government rallies in the capital and across several provinces for a fifth day on Saturday, setting government offices on fire and ignoring appeals for calm from political and religious leaders.

Security agencies fatally shot 19 protesters and wounded more than three dozen in a sustained deadly response that has claimed more than 80 lives since the upheaval began.

The semi official Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights, affiliated with the parliament, put the death toll at 94. It said nearly 4,000 people have been wounded since Tuesday, when mostly young demonstrators spontaneously initiated the rallies to demand jobs, improvements to electricity, water and other services, and an end to corruption in the oil-rich nation.

The violent deadlock presented the conflict-scarred nation with its most serious challenge since the defeat of ISIS two years ago and deepened the political crisis of a country still struggling with the legacy of multiple, unfinished wars since the US invasion in 2003.

“It has been 16 years of corruption and injustice,” said Abbas Najm, a 43-year-old unemployed engineer who was part of a rally on Saturday in the square. “We are not afraid of bullets or the death of martyrs. We will keep going and we won’t back down.”

Scrambling to contain the demonstrations, Iraqi leaders called an emergency session of parliament on Saturday to discuss the protesters’ demands. But they lacked a quorum due to a boycott called by influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of parliament’s largest bloc.

The Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi said in an address to the nation that the protesters’ “legitimate demands” had been heard, but he defended the deadly response of security forces as a “bitter medicine” that was necessary for the country to swallow.

Health and security officials said more than a dozen people were killed and about 40 wounded in the capital on Saturday when security forces opened fire during protests in various neighborhoods, including central Tahrir Square, which remained closed to cars, and around which special forces and army vehicles deployed in an operation that extended as far as 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) away.

The forces also unleashed tear gas, said health, police and medical officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to brief reporters.

A protester who refused to be named for fear of repercussions said anti-riot police directly opened fire at the protesters. The military initially tried to stop the police but ultimately left the area, the protester said.

In a smaller, peaceful rally earlier Saturday in the capital, demonstrators raised banners demanding the resignation of Abdul-Mahdi and an investigation into the killings of protesters.

Thousands of protesters also took to the streets in the southern cities of Nasiriyah and Diwaniyah, defying a curfew still in place there.

In Diwaniyah, at least one protester was killed as demonstrators marched toward local government offices, a medical official and human rights official said. They did not provide details.

In the restive city of Nasiriyah, demonstrators torched the offices of three political parties and a lawmaker whom they blame for their country’s ills. Security forces responded with gunfire, but there was no immediate word on casualties, said the officials, who described the protest as “very large.”

Abdul Mahdi’s office and Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi have called on protest representatives to meet with them so they could hear their demands.

In a televised meeting in parliament, al-Halbusi met with a group of Iraqis and tribal representatives, mostly in their 50s and older, to discuss the country’s myriad problems.

Al-Halbusi repeated promises to address unemployment and poverty.

But the promises did nothing to stop the unfolding street violence.

Protesters had defied the curfew, which was imposed on Thursday. The bloodiest violence in Baghdad came on Friday, when 22 people were killed.

Health officials said many of the victims’ wounds were in the head and chest.

Security was heavy throughout the capital but protests in central Baghdad were limited to a couple of streets near Tahrir Square.

Health and security officials said four people were killed when forces fired at protesters gathered in a street near the square. The tear gas and live ammunition was so intense that hundreds of protesters retreated. In their new location, at least three more protesters were killed amid intense gunfire.

Four others were wounded, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters. The area was the sight of Friday’s deadly violence.

To the south, in the Zaafaraniyeh neighborhood, another protester was killed and 13 were injured, according to health and police officials.

Rasoul Saray, a 34-year-old unemployed Baghdad resident who took part in the protests, said security officials at checkpoints were stopping young men and turning them away in a number of suburbs, apparently fearing they would join the protests.

Saray said he saw one young man get arrested after security officials inspected his mobile phone and found a recorded protest video.

The protests continued despite calls from Iraq’s top Shia cleric for both sides to end four days of violence “before it’s too late.”

The spontaneous rallies started as mostly young demonstrators took to the streets demanding jobs, improved services like electricity and water, and an end to corruption in the oil-rich country.

Even after lifting the curfew, security remained heavy in Baghdad, and access to the Green Zone, the area housing government offices and foreign embassies, was restricted. Municipal workers were clearing the streets of the bullets and debris left behind by the latest confrontations.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/05/Security-forces-kill-at-least-8-in-new-protests-in-Iraq.html

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Iraq’s Council of Representatives President, protesters delegation meet

5 October 2019

A delegation of Iraqi protesters met President of the Iraqi Council of Representatives Mohamed al-Halbousi on Saturday and presented their demands in the parliament.

A parliamentary session is scheduled to take place later the same day to discuss those demands.

Following the meeting, al-Halbousi said that he will raise the protesters’ demands to political blocs and the Iraqi government.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/05/Meeting-begins-between-Iraq-s-Council-of-Representatives-protesters-delegation.html

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Washington accomplice in Saudi-led military aggression: Al-Houthi

Oct 5, 2019

Yemeni Houthi Ansarullah movement says the United States is hindering peace efforts in Yemen, describing Washington as an accomplice in the Saudi-led military aggression against the country.

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the chairman of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee of Yemen, made the remarks in an interview with the Turkish daily Gazeteduvar on Saturday.

He said that aggression against Yemen will not end until the US, Israel, Britain, and France ends their support for the aggressors.

Al-Houthi added that Yemeni forces are fighting in line with right to self defense, while stressing that the Houthi supreme political council welcomed any dialogue aimed at achieving peace.

He described as a “war crime” the Saudi-led blockade of his country which “has created the worst humanitarian crisis ever.”

He pointed to the Houthis’ offer of truce as a peaceful way out of the crisis, while warning that if the Saudis rejected the plan, they would suffer fatal losses.

Last month, the Houthi movement offered to halt its retaliatory attacks against Saudi Arabia if the kingdom ends its bombing campaign against Yemen.

The offer and the kingdom's belated welcome follow a recent major ground operation by Yemenis and a brazen drone attack on Saudi Arabia’s heart of oil industry.

Saudis can't 'change game'

Meanwhile, Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, a member of Yemen's Supreme Political Council, recommended the Saudis not to “think they can change the game.”

Ansarullah “will never accept a partial halt to the Saudi attacks on Yemen in return for a total halt on our part,” he said.

He also blasted the United Arab Emirates’ move to deploy 100 military vehicles in Taiz as “wrong”, calling militarization of al-Makha port in Yemen as violation of international laws.

"We will not remain silent in the face of the militaristic movements of the UAE, which are not in their favor. The Emirates must leave Yemen completely," he added.

Bomb blast kills Saudi mercenaries in Jawf

In a separate development, an unspecified number of Saudi mercenaries were killed or wounded after a bomb exploded in Yemen’s northern province of al-Jawf, Yemen’s al-Masirah news website cited a military source as saying on Saturday.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of Hadi back to power and crushing the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/05/607957/Yemen-Houthi-Ansarullah-movement-US-peace-Saudi-Arabia

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Terrorist outfits preventing civilians from leaving Syria’s Idlib

Oct 5, 2019

Foreign-backed terrorists positioned in northwestern Syria have for the fourth consecutive week prevented civilians from leaving via the Abu al-Duhur corridor in the province of Idlib, the country’s official news agency says.

The official SANA news agency reported reported on Saturday that the corridor, which was secured by the Syrian army for the safe passage of civilians, had been blocked by terrorist groups over the past 23 days.

The terrorist groups were conducting a round-the-clock patrol to detain fleeing civilians and use them in the northwestern province as human shields, it added.

 Syrian government forces, however, continue to take all measures to receive civilians aiming to leave the terrorist-held areas in Idlib via the corridor, it noted.

Idlib, along the border with Turkey, remains the only large area in the hands of foreign-backed terrorists after the Syrian army, backed by Iran and Russia, managed to wrest back control of almost all of the country's land, undoing militants’ gains.

The so-called National Front for the Liberation of Syria is the main Turkish-backed militant alliance in Idlib region, but Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a coalition of different terror outfits largely composed of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, holds a large part of the province.

Damascus government forces have gained more ground against Takfiri militants in the southern edge of Idlib in their latest offensive that was launched in August.

On August 5, the Syrian army declared in a statement the start of an offensive against foreign-sponsored militants in Idlib after those positioned in the de-escalation zone failed to honor a ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey and continued to target civilian neighborhoods.

The Syrian army warned civilians to leave Idlib before the campaign began to flush terrorists out of the region.

In a recent interview with the Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen television news network this week, Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said “every inch” of the Syrian territory will be liberated from terrorists very soon.

 The top Syrian diplomat said terrorists in Idlib had lost "numerous opportunities for the settlement of crisis."

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/05/607940/Syria-Idlib-Abu-alDuhur-alNusra-Front-Russia

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Iraq authorities lift curfew as normalcy returns to streets of Baghdad

Oct 5, 2019

Iraqi authorities have lifted a days-long curfew in Baghdad as normalcy returns to the streets of the country's capital.

Reuters reported on Saturday that traffic ran as usual in Baghdad, with streets and main squares being otherwise quite.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi had announced the curfew on Thursday.

The country's National Security Council had issued a statement on Thursday saying that the measure was required to "protect citizens and public and private properties".

Affirming the demonstrators’ “right to protest”, the council condemned "acts of vandalism that accompanied the protests.”

The curfew came after several days of Iraqi protests against mismanagement and corruption, with certain elements turning to acts of violence.

A number of protesters and security personnel have been killed as a result of the provocations.

On Friday, Iraqi police said in a statement that “unidentified snipers” killed two security forces and two civilians across the capital Baghdad earlier in the day.

Washington's plan

Arab media outlets and observes have published reports revealing that the US seeks to drive recent anti-corruption protests in Iraq into chaos in a bid to install a pro-US regime.

"Despite the legitimate demands of the Iraqi people in fighting corruption", recent developments in Iraq have been a "manifestation of an American plot to abuse such grievances," the Lebanese Arabic-language daily newspaper al-Akhbar reported.

The paper added that Iraqi security officials have uncovered a plan that seeks to provoke major clashes between Iraqi protesters and security forces.

The clashes, hyped with provocative media coverage, are meant to produce a major security vacuum that can set the stage for the emergence of a US-affiliated Iraqi military commander who can take on the leadership role of a "savior government".

The plan will seek to ultimately strengthen US control over the country.

The report, however, added that the Iraqi government was well aware of the plan and had adopted several policies to counter it.

Security sources speaking to al-Akhbar earlier this year had said that 2019 would be a tense year for the "people of Iraq".

Writing for the Arabic-language al-Ahd news website, Ali Matar, an analyst in Arab political affairs, said that Washington sought to create insecurity in the country so that Iraq would remain "hostage" to the US in a bit to exploit its resources.

Matar added that Washington sought to revive ISIS Takfiri terror cells and sabotage the protests.

The Arab analyst said that Washington had always sought to undermine Iraq when it was close to attaining certain points of political and economic breakthrough.

Matar highlighted that the tensions came shortly after the Abdul-Mahdi government reopened the country's Al-Qa'im crossing with Syria and accused Israel of orchestrating a string of recent drone strikes on Iraqi popular mobilization forces.

Abdul-Mahdi had also entered talks with Beijing and Moscow in a bid to acquire air defenses against the attacks, he noted.

The US seeks to "get revenge" from Abdul-Mahdi's government, he added.

Seyyed Reza Sadr-alhoseini, an Iranian Middle East analyst, also echoed Matar's analysis.

"The American's thought that Baghdad would be more cooperative with them. However, the policies of Abdul-Mahdi, the Iraqi parliament and its president did not allow Washington to achieve its goals," he said.

Hossien Sheikholeslam, another political analyst, highlighted that Iraq's current troubles are largely rooted in the "corrupt system set up by the Americans in the country following the overthrow of Saddam".

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/05/607913/Iraq-authorities-lift-Baghdad-curfew

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Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia fail to reach agreement on Nile dam

October 05, 2019

CAIRO: Irrigation ministers from three key Nile Basin countries wrapped up a two-day meeting Saturday in Sudan’s capital without resolving differences over Ethiopia’s soon-to-be-finished Blue Nile dam, with Egypt calling for international mediation to help reach a “fair and balanced” agreement.

Sudan Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas told reporters in Khartoum that progress was made but differences on filling the giant reservoir and operating rules of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam remain unsettled.

He said Ethiopia proposed a plan to fill the reservoir over four to seven years, without elaborating. He added that the three countries would continue consultations without giving a time frame.

Egypt’s Irrigation Ministry, meanwhile, said in a statement after the meeting that talks have stalemated, claiming Ethiopia rejected “all proposals that ... avoid causing substantial damage to Egypt.”

“Ethiopia ... offered a new proposal that contradicts previously agreed principles governing the filling and operating process,” said Muhammed el-Sebai, spokesman of the ministry.

He said Egypt has called for international mediation “to help reach a fair and balanced agreement that protect the three countries’ rights.”

Ethiopia did not immediately respond.

Egyptian presidency spokesman Bassam Radi said Egypt was looking forward to an “instrumental role” by the US in the talks. He said because there was no breakthrough in negotiations, there was a need for an “international instrumental role to overcome the current deadlock.”

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Thursday the US supports Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan’s negotiations to reach a sustainable and mutually beneficial agreement.

“All Nile Valley countries have a right to economic development and prosperity,” Grisham said. “The administration calls on all sides to put forth good faith efforts to reach an agreement that preserves those rights, while simultaneously respecting each other’s Nile water equities.”

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1564626/middle-east

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North America

 

Anti-Muslim extremist group plans to host Dh5,510-a-plate gala dinner at Trump’s Florida resortAnti-Muslim Extremist Group Plans To Host Dh5, 510-A-Plate Gala Dinner at Trump’s Florida ResortJack Dutton

Oct 6, 2019

ACT for America, an anti-Muslim group, plans to host an annual dinner at US President Donald Trump’s South Florida club, Mar-a-Lago, next month.

An invitation posted on the organisation’s website says that tickets for the event, due to be held on November 7, start at $1,500 (Dh5,510).

The website also offered “VIP” tickets, which include the opportunity to sit at head tables with ACT's founder Birgitte Gabriel and speaker Michelle Malkin, a conservative blogger and columnist. The tickets, priced at $2,500, have already sold out, according to the website.

The move raises questions about anti-Muslim groups funding Mr Trump, who in many instances, has been accused of dog whistle Islamophobia.

In June, the US House of Representatives accused the president of racism, after he told four Democratic congresswomen of colour - Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib - to “go back to where they came from”.

Ms Omar and Ms Tlaib were the first two Muslim women to serve in US Congress.

“It is totally inappropriate that an Islamophobic hate group would be in effect funneling money to the president of the United States by holding an event in one of his properties,” Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organisation, told the Miami Herald.

“This is a group that has been associated with Islamophobia in the worst form for many years and has also been associated with white supremacists and racist groups,” he added.

Mr Trump has drawn controversy for hosting world leaders at Mar-a-Lago and doubled the price of the private club’s joining fee – raising concerns about conflicts of interest.

Ms Gabriel founded the ACT for America in 2007, which as well as being anti-Muslim, is pro-Trump and pro-Tea Party Republican. She has previously questioned whether Muslims could be “loyal” citizens of the United States and has pushed to advance anti-Muslim legislation at local and federal level.

ACT for America organised a ‘March Against Sharia” in May 2017, which was attended by far-right and white supremacist groups. Extremism watchdogs consider it the largest anti-Muslim group in the country.

https://www.thenational.ae/world/the-americas/anti-muslim-extremist-group-plans-to-host-dh5-510-a-plate-gala-dinner-at-trump-s-florida-resort-1.919595

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US senator barred from Kashmir as lockdown enters third month

6 October 2019

A US senator and a well-known Indian activist were barred from visiting Indian-administered Kashmir, the disputed Himalayan territory where at least 10 people were injured on Saturday in a grenade blast as a government security and communications lockdown entered a third month.

Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh said the blast was caused by a militant attack and occurred near the office of a civil administrator in Anantnag.

He said a police official and a journalist were among those hurt and suffered minor injuries.

“It was a militant attack,” he said, without elaborating. “Police are probing to identify and nab the culprit.”

Since removing several constitutional provisions in August that gave the state of Jammu and Kashmir semi-autonomy, Indian authorities have flooded the Kashmir Valley, the heart of a decades-old armed insurgency, with thousands of additional troops.

Mobile internet and phone services have been cut and landline phone access remains spotty, disrupting daily life and business in the valley, home to about 7 million people. More than 2,000 people, including mainstream political leaders, are locked up or under house arrest.

Ram Madhav, a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the ruling Hindu nationalist party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said leaders under house arrest in Kashmir would be released soon, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

“Prevention detention in five-star hotels with good facilities with TVs and books and all those things is a temporary measure to ensure law and order in the state,” PTI quoted Mahdav as saying.

Senator Chris Van Hollen, part of a US congressional delegation visiting India on trade and other issues, told reporters Friday in New Delhi that the Indian government had denied his request to travel to Kashmir.

The Maryland Democrat said Washington was “closely monitoring the humanitarian situation” in Kashmir.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on human rights in South Asia later this month, and Kashmir is expected to be a focus.

Sandeep Pandey, an education reformer, said he and other activists were barred from leaving the airport in Srinagar, the region’s main city, where they had traveled onFriday for an informal fact-finding mission.

“We were held up and we don’t know what it was done,” Pandey said at a news conference Saturday in New Delhi.

The district magistrate restricted him from traveling beyond the arrivals lounge, citing a law that limits public gatherings, according to a copy of the order.

The 54-year-old intended “to organize protests” against the constitutional changes in Kashmir, according to the order. Pandey denied the charge.

No foreign journalists have received permission from the Indian government to report in Kashmir since August 5, although Indian citizens who work for foreign news organizations, including The Associated Press, have been able to report from the region.

The conflict over Kashmir began in late 1940s, when India and Pakistan won independence from the British Empire and began fighting over their rival claims.

A full-blown armed rebellion has raged in Indian-controlled Kashmir since 1989 seeking a united Kashmir - either under Pakistani rule or independent of both countries.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/10/06/US-senator-barred-from-Kashmir-as-lockdown-enters-third-month.html

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Greek PM tells US’ Pompeo Turkey violating Cyprus’ sovereign rights

5 October 2019

Turkey is violating the sovereign rights of Cyprus, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told United States’ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“Turkey’s recent moves ... are a flagrant violation of Cyprus’s sovereign rights,” Mitsotakis told Pompeo, who is visiting Greece on the last leg of a trip to southern Europe.

“The United States has a particular interest in the Eastern Mediterranean region. Cyprus is only asking for the self-evident – the implementation of international law,” Mitsotakis said.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/10/05/Greek-PM-tells-US-Pompeo-Turkey-violating-Cyprus-sovereign-rights.html

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Europe

 

The Paris police attacker followed a 'radical vision of Islam,' the anti-terrorism prosecutor says

By Arnaud Siad

October 5, 2019

(CNN)The perpetrator of a knife attack that left four people dead at a Paris police headquarters had recently adhered to a "radical vision of Islam," according to witnesses, anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-François Ricard said Saturday.

Three policemen and a female police administrative worker were killed Thursday by a colleague who was later shot dead by a 24-year-old police intern inside the building near Notre Dame Cathedral, the prosecutor said.

The attacker, identified by police only as Mickaël H., had converted "about 10 years ago" to Islam and recently had kept to a more "radical vision," Ricard said during a news conference.

The attacker had contacts with people suspected of belonging to the ultraconservative Salafist movement of Islam, the prosecutor said.

The attacker had expressed his support for the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attacks, Ricard said, and "certain acts committed in the name of this religion," as well as a desire to "cease certain forms of contact with women" and his adoption of traditional Muslim clothing "in the last few months."

Wife remains in custody

The attacker and his wife exchanged 33 text messages over 29 minutes the morning preceding the attack, and their content was "exclusively religious," the prosecutor said.

The last exchange ended with "Allahu akbar," which means "God is greater" in Arabic, and "follow the vision of our prophet Mohammed and meditate over the Quran."

These text messages were sent 30 minutes before the attacker visited a local store and bought two knives that would be used in the attack.

The attacker's wife is still in police custody, the order for which was extended on Saturday afternoon for another 48 hours. She wasn't designated as "Fichier S," which French law enforcement use for a person who represents a serious threat to national security, Ricard said.

The attacker, who was deaf after contracting meningitis, was born in 1974 and worked in IT maintenance for French Police Intelligence at the Prefecture de Police.

He had no criminal record, the prosecutor said.

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/10/05/europe/paris-attacker-police-radicalized-intl/index.html

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Greek PM calls on US top diplomat to help calm offshore tensions with Turkey

Oct 5, 2019

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Saturday urged the United States to use its influence to defuse tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, where Cyprus and Turkey are locked in a dispute over offshore rights.

Mitsotakis told visiting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Turkish moves south of the island in recent days were a ‘flagrant violation’ of Cyprus’ sovereign rights.

Tensions between Cyprus and Turkey over offshore drilling have intensified after Ankara sent a drilling ship to an area already licensed by Nicosia to Italian and French energy companies.

“The United States have a particular interest in the Eastern Mediterranean region. Cyprus is only asking for the self-evident, the implementation of international law,” Mitsotakis told Pompeo, who is visiting Greece on the last leg of a trip to southern Europe.

“I anticipate the positive contribution of the United States to lead to the creation finally of a more constructive and fruitful climate of cooperation in the region,” Mitsotakis told Pompeo.

Ankara says some of the areas where Cyprus is exploring are either on its own continental shelf or in zones where Turkish Cypriots have equal rights over any finds with Greek Cypriots.

The US Secretary of State was due to hold talks on Saturday with his Greek counterpart and the defense minister. Responding to Mitsotakis, Pompeo did not refer to Cyprus.

“Today the relationship between (our) two countries has truly never been stronger,” Pompeo said, praising the efforts of Greece on its path to economic recovery.

“We are very confident that together we can work to ensure Greece can be a pillar for stability in this region.”A Turkish drill ship, the Yavuz, is currently 50 nautical miles off Cyprus and plans to start drilling work on Monday.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/05/607905/Greece-Prime-Minister-Kyriakos-Mitsotakis-US-Secretary-of-State-Mike-Pompeo-Turkey-offshore-tensions-Cyprus

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Mideast

 

Resistance only way to restore Palestinians’ rights: Islamic Jihad leader

Oct 5, 2019

The secretary general of Palestine’s Islamic Jihad Movement says resistance forces will continue their fight against Israel’s occupation of their land until full restoration of their rights.

Ziyad al-Nakhaleh made the remarks during a speech in the occupied Gaza Strip on Saturday, addressing tens of thousands of Palestinians participating in a massive rally held in commemoration of the 32nd anniversary of the establishment of the movement.

The march, held in Gaza City, was attended by Islamic Jihad leaders, and hundreds of fighters from the al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad.

“Gaza, which has always been oppressed, is now a cornerstone and front to be reckoned with in the equations of war,” said Nakhaleh, adding that the blockaded enclave represents “the vigor of its men and its resistance, and the steadfastness of its people.”

He further hailed the Islamic Jihad’s capability to deter any threat posed by enemies, stressing that today Gaza “is besieging the occupation despite its poverty, it is imposing new facts, breaking old theories, and will remain steadfast.”

Nakhaleh also denounced the Oslo Accords, which were signed during the early-mid 1990s between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in an attempt to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to guarantee Palestinians’ right of self- determination, but all to no avail.

“The worst thing we face today is the belief held by some that we can talk with the enemy in peace and that peace is possible between Palestinians and the Israeli regime,” further said the head of the Islamic Jihad.

Nakhaleh also called for unity among all factions to defend the Palestinian cause and fight Zionist plots.

The Gaza Strip has been under Israeli siege since June 2007, which has caused a decline in living standards. Israel has also launched three major wars against the enclave since 2008, killing thousands of Gazans each time and shattering the impoverished territory’s already poor infrastructure.

Palestinians have held weekly rallies along the Gaza fence to protest the siege on the enclave and demand the right for the refugees, who were forced to leave during the 1948 creation of Israel, to return to their homes.

Some 310 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces ever since the anti-occupation protest rallies began in Gaza on March 30, 2018. Over 16,000 Palestinians have also sustained injuries.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/05/607953/Palestine-Islamic-Jihad-Nakhaleh-Israel-resistance-Gaza

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Saudi humanitarian agency repatriates 143 Somalis from Yemen

October 06, 2019

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) repatriated 143 Somalis stranded in Yemen this week, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

Last year, KSRelief repatriated as many as 2,000 Somali refugees from Yemen. The Voluntary Repatriation Program was initiated by KSRelief in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), whose spokesman Joel Millman said 46 men, 41 women, 26 boys and 30 girls set off by boat from Aden on Sept. 30 and arrived at the Somali port of Berbera.

Their relocation was possible thanks to funding from KSRelief, which is working in partnership with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to facilitate the movement of people returning from Yemen, Millman added.

He said since KSRelief started funding the project in November 2018, 1,505 Somali returnees have been assisted.

He added that the project aims to facilitate safe and dignified movements from Yemen, and to contribute to reintegrating returnees in a sustainable way.

UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch said Somalis comprise 90 percent of refugees in Yemen, or some 250,000 people.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1564716/saudi-arabia

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Anguish for jailed UK-Iranian mum at sending daughter to Britain

5 October 2019

The husband of a British-Iranian mother jailed in Tehran since 2016 said on Saturday the couple’s decision to send their five-year-old daughter to him in Britain to start school was “bittersweet.”

Richard Ratcliffe, whose wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is serving a five-year term for sedition, told AFP he is looking forward to seeing daughter Gabriella for the first time in more than three years.

But she has been staying with relatives in Iran since her mother’s detention and visiting her in jail each week, so he fears the impact of the change.

“It will be bittersweet,” Ratcliffe said, adding they hoped Gabriella will be back in London by Christmas.

“It will be lovely to have her back... and then also we will be weary of the fallout for Nazanin,” Ratcliffe added, noting Gabriella had been “her lifeline and that lifeline will have been taken away.”

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 40, stated in an open letter released earlier this week that Gabriella, who only speaks a few words of English, would return to Britain “in the near future.”

“My baby will leave me to go to her father and start school in the UK,” she wrote.

“It will be a daunting trip for her travelling, and for me left behind.

“And the authorities who hold me will watch on, unmoved at the injustice of separation,” Zaghari-Ratcliffe added, describing being apart from her daughter as the “deepest torture of them all.”

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April 2016 as she was leaving Iran after taking their then 22-month-old daughter to visit her family.

She was sentenced to five years for allegedly trying to topple the Iranian government.

A project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the media group’s philanthropic arm, she denies all charges.

The case has unfolded amid escalating tensions between Tehran and the West, particularly with the United States and Britain.

Her detention in Iran has included a week-long transfer to a mental health ward of a public hospital earlier this year.

Husband Ratcliffe said they had applied for an exit visa for Gabriella but were unsure how long it would take.

“I would be very surprised if it doesn’t happen, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes a bit of time,” he added.

In her open letter, addressed to “the mothers of Iran.” Zaghari-Ratcliffe said she had little hope of being released imminently.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/05/Anguish-for-jailed-UK-Iranian-mum-at-sending-daughter-to-Britain-.html

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Turkey detains five Germans on terror charges: Report

5 October 2019

Turkish authorities have detained five Germans over alleged links to Kurdish militants, pro-Kurdish media reported.

The suspects were taken into custody on charges of spreading propaganda, the pro-Kurdish news agency Mezopotamya said late Friday, and of belonging to an illegal organization, which was not named but is likely the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The PKK is considered to be a terror group by Ankara, the United States, and the European Union.

The five, who were detained this week, were being held in Ankara, the agency said.

It said the arrests were part of an investigation by the Ankara public prosecutor. His office would, however, not confirm the report when contacted by AFP.

The PKK has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 during which tens of thousands of people have been killed.

The German foreign ministry meanwhile would only say that it was “aware of the cases” and that the embassy in Ankara was providing consular assistance.

The German interior ministry denied claims that information leading to the detention of the five was handed over to Turkish authorities during Interior Minister Horst Seehofer’s visit to Ankara this week.

However, a ministry spokesman would not rule out that such information could have been exchanged “as part of the routine cooperation between our security services.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/05/Turkey-detains-five-Germans-on-terror-charges-Report.html

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Iranian held in Australia for 13 months returns home: State TV

5 October 2019

An Iranian student detained in Australia for 13 months on accusations of circumventing US sanctions on military equipment has returned to Tehran after being released, state television’s website reported on Saturday.

Reza Dehbashi, a PhD student at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, had been arrested for “attempting to purchase and transfer advanced American military radar equipment via Dubai to Iran,” the website said.

“Australia’s legal system intended to extradite Mr. Dehbashi to America, but he was eventually released” as Iran’s foreign ministry had “resolved” the issue, it added.

Earlier the same day, the Australian foreign minister said an Australian-British blogger and her finance have been released in Iran after three months of detention.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/05/Iranian-held-in-Australia-for-13-months-returns-home-State-TV-.html

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Saudi-led coalition, mercenaries looted over 18 million barrels of Yemen oil last year: Min.

Oct 5, 2019

The Yemeni oil ministry affiliated with the Houthis says countries of the Saudi-led coalition and their mercenaries looted more than 18 million barrels of the country’s oil exports last year.

Speaking at a press conference in the Yemeni capital Sana’a on Saturday, Ahmed Daris said the coalition “looted more than 18 million barrels of oil exports last year and sent their money to the Saudi National Bank," Yemen's Arabic-language al-Masirah news website reported.

Daris also called on the United Nations to shoulder its responsibility in facilitating the release of oil shipments detained by the Saudi-led coalition waging war on the impoverished nation.

He warned the Saudi-led coalition that the continued detention of the oil tankers will further motivate Yemeni people to join anti-Saudi frontlines.

“Free oil tankers, our people will not surrender to the continued detention, but this will be an incentive to move to frontlines,” he said.

Saudi Arabia and its allies launched military campaign on Yemen in March 2015 with the aim of reinstalling the government of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and crushing the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

Yemen’s southern areas are controlled by Saudi-backed officials of the former Yemeni government. Saudi Arabia has taken control over the provinces' seaports and airports, using them to deploy hundreds of troops in the region.

A series of documents obtained by some media outlets in August last year pointed to Saudi Arabia's intention to build an oil port in Yemen's al-Mahra governorate in the country's southeast, where Saudi and Emirati troops are present.

The documents pointed to Saudi Arabia's intention to develop the port, which would extract and export petroleum.

In a letter addressed to the kingdom's ambassador to Yemen, a Saudi-based marine construction company, Huta Marine, thanked the official for trusting the company's capabilities by asking it to present a technical and financial proposal for the port's design.

Experts say the pipeline would allow the kingdom not to be constrained to the Strait of Hormuz or the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, both strategic choke points that affect its current oil shipping routes.

According to a report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has so far claimed the lives of about 56,000 Yemenis.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/05/607944/Yemen-Oil-Minister-Ahmed-Daris-Saudiled-coalition-oil-shipments

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Turkey arrests five Germans over links to Kurdish militants: Report

Oct 5, 2019

Turkey has reportedly detained five Germans over alleged links to Kurdish militants and spreading propaganda. 

The pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency said late Friday that the suspects, who were detained this week, were taken into custody on charges of spreading propaganda and being member of an illegal organization, which was not named but is likely the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The agency said that the suspects were being held in the Turkish capital, Ankara, adding that the arrests were part of an investigation by the Ankara public prosecutor.

The Prosecutor’s office has yet to confirm the report.

Meanwhile, the German Foreign Ministry said it was "aware of the cases" and that the embassy in Ankara was providing consular assistance.

The ministry denied claims that German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer had provided Turkish authorities with information leading to the detention of the five during his visit to Ankara this week.

A ministry spokesman, however, did not rule out that such information could have been exchanged "as part of the routine cooperation between our security services."

Back in March, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu warned that people in Europe and Germany who attend terrorist organization meetings would be arrested when they arrive in Turkey.

"We have now taken measures against those who take part in the terror organization’s meetings in Europe, Germany and then come to Antalya, Bodrum, Mugla for a holiday,” said Soylu (pictured below).

"Let them enter the airports. They will be detained," he said.

The PKK has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984. Besides Turkey, the European Union and the US have also declared the militant group a terrorist organization.

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

On Saturday, Turkish military aircraft “neutralized” nearly three dozen PKK members when they carried out a string of airstrikes against terrorist hideouts in Iraq's northern semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

The Turkish Defense Ministry said that the operations were carried out in Zap, Gara and Avasin regions.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/05/607934/Turkey-Germans-PKK

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Africa

 

Talks on Nile waters wrap up in Sudan’s Khartoum without agreement

 5 October 2019

Talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over a controversial Nile dam hit a new “deadlock” in Khartoum on Saturday, Cairo said, blaming the Ethiopian side for the stalemate.

Ethiopia began constructing the Grand Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile in 2012, but the project turned controversial with Egypt insisting that the gigantic dam would severely reduce its water supplies.

“The negotiations on the Renaissance dam have reached a deadlock,” Egypt’s irrigation ministry said in a statement after a new round of talks ended in the Sudanese capital.

It claimed the Ethiopian delegation “rejected all the proposals that take Egypt’s water interests into account” and presented one that “lacked guarantees” on how to deal with droughts that may occur in the future.

Later on Saturday, the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in tweets that he followed closely the talks “which did not produce any positive results.”

He also said that Egypt is “committed to defending its water rights.”

Egypt depends on the Nile for about 90 percent of its needs for irrigation and drinking water, and says it has “historic rights” to the river guaranteed by treaties from 1929 and 1959.

Egypt, which sees the project as an existential threat, fears that Ethiopia’s rapid construction of the dam might lead to water and food scarcity to millions of Egyptians.

The river, which runs through 10 countries, is Africa’s longest and a crucial artery for water supplies and electricity for all the countries.

The Blue Nile takes its source in Ethiopia and converges with the White Nile in Khartoum to form the Nile which runs through Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea.

Ethiopia dismissed Cairo’s assessment of the latest talks.

“The allegation that talks ended in a deadlock is completely false,” Ethiopian Minister for Water and Energy, Selishi Bekele, told reporters.

“Some progress has been made.. there are some pending issues, but we believe that these pending issues can be solved before completing the construction of the dam.”

Analysts fear that the three Nile basin countries could be drawn into a conflict if the dispute is not resolved before the dam begins operating.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/05/Talks-on-Nile-waters-wrap-up-in-Sudan-s-Khartoum-without-agreement.html

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16 people killed in attacks by Boko Haram, rival faction in Nigeria’s Borno

Oct 5, 2019

At least 16 people, including 11 government troopers, have been killed during attacks launched by Takfiri terrorists in Nigeria’s northeastern state of Borno.

The deadly attacks were conducted by Boko Haram and its splinter faction on military and civilian targets between Thursday and Saturday, said military and militia sources on Saturday.

The faction, which calls itself the West Africa Province (ISWAP) branch of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, made an alliance with Boko Haram in 2015 before separating in 2016.

ISWAP has launched repeated attacks in the African country in recent months after Daesh lost all its urban strongholds in Iraq and Syria following crushing defeats it received from government troops and their allied fighters in both Arab countries.

An unnamed military source told AFP that ISWAP terrorists ambushed a military convoy near Mauro village in Benisheikh district in the volatile state on Thursday.

“Our men on patrol fell into a terrorist ambush... which claimed 11 soldiers and wounded 16 others. Two other soldiers are still missing,” said the military officer, adding that the troops were traveling in three vehicles.

He further said terrorists made away with 11 AK-47 rifles and anti-aircraft gun mounted on their gun truck.

Separately on Thursday, Boko Haram terrorists opened fire on a vehicle in Frigi village, killing one person and wounding another, militia sources reported, adding that the Takfiri terrorists also killed two militia men in Gubio, some 80 kilometers from Maiduguri, the provincial capital.

On Saturday, Boko Haram terrorists also stormed a camp for those displaced by militancy in the town of Banki in the vicinity of the border with Cameroon, killing two civilians and wounding three vigilantes guarding the area.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/05/607932/Nigeria-Borno-Boko-Haram-ISWAP-Daesh-Maiduguri

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Drone strike hits 2 planes at Libya’s Misrata airport

October 06, 2019

TRIPOLI: A drone strike on Saturday targeting an airport in western Libya wounded one person, forces loyal to the country’s unity government said, while also reportedly causing flights to be suspended.

The loyalist forces alleged that the strike on Misrata airport, 200 km from the capital Tripoli, was carried out by rival fighters answering to eastern commander Khalifa Haftar.

“Emirati drones which support the war criminal Haftar targeted Misrata international airport,” forces loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) said on Facebook.

They said an airport worker was hospitalized, while a source at the municipality of Misrata, a region controlled by pro-GNA forces, said two planes on the tarmac were damaged.

Flights were briefly suspended to allow for safety checks, this source told AFP, asking not to be named.

Misrata has operated as the last functioning airport in western Libya for just over a month, as the capital’s Mitiga facility was shut after repeated airstrikes by Haftar’s forces.

Haftar’s forces had accused the GNA of using Mitiga for military purposes.

Haftar’s forces issued no claim of responsibility for Saturday’s drone attack on Misrata, which has been receiving diversions from Mitiga due to the latter’s closure.

Since April 4, when Haftar launched an offensive to capture Tripoli, seat of the UN-recognized GNA, frontlines have barely shifted.

A drone war has so far failed to break the stalemate.

Experts say Haftar has procured Chinese-made Wing Loong drones from his main backer, the United Arab Emirates.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1564771/middle-east

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Tunisia presidential runner Saied quits campaigning

October 05, 2019

TUNIS: Tunisian presidential candidate Kais Saied announced Saturday that he was quitting campaigning, in order to avoid an unfair advantage over his jailed opponent Nabil Karoui.

“I will not personally campaign on moral grounds, to avoid any doubt over the fairness between the candidates,” Saied wrote on his Facebook page.

An independent professor of law, Saied won the first round of voting on September 15 with a low-budget grassroots campaign conducted largely via Facebook. He remained low-key after the vote, avoiding some television appearances.

His rival, media mogul Karoui, has been under investigation since 2017 for money laundering and tax evasion and was arrested on August 23 — a week before the campaigning started for the first round presidential vote.

With the run-off vote scheduled for October 13, Tunisia’s president, the United Nations, international observers and numerous politicians have called for “equal opportunity” between the two candidates.

Interim president Mohamed Ennaceur warned Friday that Karoui’s detention was “an abnormal situation that could have serious and dangerous repercussions on the electoral process.”

The United Nations called for “peaceful and transparent” elections.

Karoui accuses his political rivals, notably Ennahdha, of politicizing the judicial process.

His supporters have raised the possibility of appealing the outcome if Karoui isn’t elected.

Saied nonetheless stressed his “deep conviction that equal opportunities must also include the means available to both candidates,” referring to Karoui’s media and financial empire mobilized for his campaign.

Karoui has campaigned via Nessma — the leading private television channel that he founded — and through his wife Salwa Smaoui, who has given interviews to local and international media.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1564606/middle-east

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