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Islamic World News ( 8 May 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Langar and Iftar: Muslims to Pray, End Fast Throughout Ramadan in Dubai’s Sikh Shrine

New Age Islam News Bureau

8 May 2019

and Muslims enjoy Iftar together at the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara on Monday. The gurudwara has been hosting an interfaith iftar during Ramadan for the past six years.


 Langar and Iftar: Muslims to Pray, End Fast throughout Ramadan in Dubai’s Sikh Shrine

 Saudi Cleric Apologizes For ‘Intolerant’ Views of Sahwa Movement

 As Islamic State Gets More Followers in South Asia, Lashkar Plans To Encircle India

 There Is No Saffron or Islamic Terrorism, But ‘Government Terrorism’ In the Country, Claims Muslim Body Chief

 8 Dead in Explosion Targeting Elite Force Vehicle near Lahore's Data Darbar

 LHC Seeks ‘Detailed’ Apology from TLP’s Pir Afzal Qadri

 Sudan’s Military Council Wants Islamic Sharia Law to Be Source of Legislation

 Anti-Terror Unit Seizes 'Mother of Satan' Bombs from Terrorist Hideouts

 China, US Clash at UN over Uighur Detentions

 Washington School District Wants Teachers to Bless Muslim Students in Arabic during Ramadan, Religious Liberty Group Claims

 Rouhani: Iran to Resume Uranium Enrichment If World Powers Do Not Keep Promises


Arab World

 Langar and Iftar: Muslims to Pray, End Fast throughout Ramadan in Dubai’s Sikh Shrine

 Saudi Cleric Apologizes For ‘Intolerant’ Views of Sahwa Movement

 Iraqi Sources: US Sending Aid for ISIL in Western Iraq

 Syrian Army Reinforces Units in Aleppo after Turkish Army's Failed Attack

 Tens of Terrorists Killed in Foiled Attempt to Reopen Vital Road in Hama

 All Family Members Killed in US-Backed SDF Crime in Deir Ezzur

 Anti-Kurdish protests grow in Syria’s Deir al-Zor, say sources

 US-led coalition aircraft drop food, medicine to Daesh remnants in western Iraq: Report



 As Islamic State Gets More Followers in South Asia, Lashkar Plans To Encircle India

 There Is No Saffron or Islamic Terrorism, But ‘Government Terrorism’ In the Country, Claims Muslim Body Chief

 ISIS Suspect, With Links To Abu Dujana, Deported From Doha; To Be Interrogated By NIA

 India has made many important contributions to Afghanistan's development: US



 8 Dead in Explosion Targeting Elite Force Vehicle near Lahore's Data Darbar

 LHC Seeks ‘Detailed’ Apology from TLP’s Pir Afzal Qadri

 Uniform Syllabus for Education Institutions, Madrasas Approved

 Muslim Community Praised For Cordial Ties with Kalash People

 Better ties to benefit Pakistan as well as Afghanistan: Khalilzad



 Sudan’s Military Council Wants Islamic Sharia Law to Be Source of Legislation

 Bush fire destroys four villages in South Sudan, kills 33

 Thousands of Algerians hold first rally of Ramadan

 LNA shoots down military plane in Tripoli, holding Portuguese pilot

 Italy PM Conte warns against military action in Libya

 UN panel links airstrikes on Libya’s government to UAE

 Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. target al-Shabaab terrorists


Southeast Asia

 Anti-Terror Unit Seizes 'Mother of Satan' Bombs from Terrorist Hideouts

 China, US Clash at UN over Uighur Detentions

 Jokowi Says His Administration Is Serious About Moving the Capital from Jakarta

 Grab teams up with brand partners to help Malaysians for Ramadan and Hari Raya

 East Jakarta pedestrian bridge used for 'tarawih' to be demolished

 Police Name Islamist Leader Bachtiar Nasir a Suspect in Money Laundering Case

 Gov't Threatens Legal Action against Attempts to Delegitimize Election Result


North America

 Washington School District Wants Teachers to Bless Muslim Students in Arabic during Ramadan, Religious Liberty Group Claims

 Jewish Americans Most Favourable Towards Muslims: Report

 Pompeo says unannounced visit to Iraq is due to Iran ‘escalating activity’

 Iran says US sending carrier, bombers to Mideast is ‘psychological warfare’

 EU, Russia should counter US peace plan: Palestine

 CIA warns Arab activist of potential Saudi threat



 Rouhani: Iran to Resume Uranium Enrichment If World Powers Do Not Keep Promises

 Britain’s Foreign Secretary under Scrutiny For ‘Lack Of Humanity’ Towards Palestinians

 Europe Ready to Reimpose Sanctions If Iran Breaches Nuclear Deal: Official

 Britain Regrets Policy On Libya Has Failed Since 2011 Invasion

 France wants to keep Iran nuclear deal alive, warns Tehran over negative actions

 UK condemns surge in violence in Syria's Idlib

 Germany urges Libyan cease-fire during Ramadan


South Asia

 Muslim Shops in Sri Lanka Attacked As Tensions Remain After Easter Sunday Bombings

 Sri Lanka’s Bombed Church Partially Opens for Prayers

 Sri Lanka dismantles big part of bombers’ network, freezes assets

 Sri Lanka still faces threat of ISIS terror attacks: PM Wickremesinghe

 Bangladesh arrests suspected IS militant back from Syria

 U.S. Embassy releases details of Khalilzad’s interaction with Indian officials on Afghan peace process



 Hamas Says Newly-Developed Tactic Behind ‘Iron Dome’ Failure

 Palestinians Turn to EU to Counter Kushner Plan

 US says ‘transparent’ elections is in Turkey’s own interest

 US likely to send four bombers to the Middle East: officials

 Turkey pres. defends Istanbul election re-run amid protests

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Langar and Iftar: Muslims to Pray, End Fast throughout Ramadan in Dubai’s Sikh Shrine

May 07, 2019

Sajila Saseendran

Dubai: When muezzins recited the Adhan for Maghrib prayer in mosques on Monday — the first day of Ramadan — the same call to prayer was heard at Dubai’s Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara.

While dozens of Sikhs enjoyed Langar (free community meal) sitting on the floor of the community kitchen hall of the Sikh shrine, a group of Muslims ended their fast seated at tables on another side of the hall.

Bangladeshi Islamic scholar Hafeez Abdul Huq, who ended his fast with them, then led the prayer (Salaat/Namaz) in separately arranged areas for men and women in the same hall. He has agreed to lead the Maghrib prayer throughout Ramadan.

Joining the Muslim expats, who were praying inside a place of worship belonging to another religion for the first time, was none other than the head priest of the Sikh shrine.

In the Year of Tolerance, the Gurudwara is organising Iftars at its premises throughout Ramadan.

The gurudwara, which provides free vegetarian meals three times a day to every visitor irrespective of their background, has been hosting an interfaith iftar during Ramadan for the past six years. However, this year, it was decided to host daily iftars apart from the interfaith iftar on May 15, according to Surender Singh Kandhari, chairman of the gurudwara.

Though the primary aim was to cater to the Muslim workers in the locality, most of those who arrived on the first day of Ramadan were those who learnt about it from their friends or colleagues associated with the gurudwara.

Special experience

Hailing from Karachi in Pakistan and Kerala in India, Awais Baig and Mohammad Sajeer had never stepped inside a place of worship belonging to any religion other than theirs.

Baig, a second chef at a Dubai hotel, was invited by his best friend and colleague Kuldeep Kumar when the latter saw a social media post about the Iftar by the Gurudwara.

“I am a Hindu, but I felt nice when I saw the post by the Gurudwara about this iftar. I wanted Awais to visit the Gurudwara and join this special Iftar,” Kumar said.

Baig said he was touched by the friendliness of the people and the whole experience. “Indians here are very friendly. This experience has been very touching,” he said.

For Sajeer, a PRO who came with two of his roommates in Deira, it was also an occasion to learn more about another religion. “We went upstairs to see the shrine. It is marvellous. We really appreciate this gesture by the Gurudwara to spread peaceful coexistence among people of different religions,” he said.

Syed Waqqas, another attendee, said this was an example that could be emulated by all places of worship to improve religious camaraderie.

“It will bring out a lot of harmony among different religions especially at this time when there is a lot of intolerance and hatred in the name of religion.”

Shaheena, one of the three female attendees, said she broke down when she heard the scholar leading the prayer. “It was unbelievable. It just showed that you can sit in any place and create your religion there.”

S.P. Singh, general manager of the Gurudwara, said snacks, fruits, and juices were separately arranged for the iftar apart from the vegetarian langar meal which has six items. “We are spreading the word. We hope more people, especially workers, will join us for iftar in the coming days,” he said.



Saudi cleric apologizes for ‘intolerant’ views of Sahwa movement

May 07, 2019

RIYADH: A prominent figure in the Islamic Awakening (Sahwa) movement has apologized to Saudi society for what he described as its offenses against Islam.

“I am today supportive of the moderate Islam, open to the world, which has been called for by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” the Saudi cleric, scholar and author Ayed Al-Qarni said.

“We invite the world to come over ... our religion was sent as a mercy and safety to mankind,” he said during a Ramadan show on the Rotana Khalijia channel. “In the name of Al-Sahwa, I apologize to Saudi society for the mistakes that have contradicted the Qur’an and Sunnah, and contradicted the tolerance of Islam, a moderate religion.”

The Sahwa movement, which peaked in the 1990s, was a faction of Saudi Qutbism — an Islamist ideology developed by Sayyid Qutb, the figurehead of the Muslim Brotherhood.

It was led by a number of hate preachers including Safar Al-Hawali and Salman Al-Ouda. The movement’s origins stem from when Muslim Brotherhood members fled prosecution in Egypt in the 1950s and 1960s, and sought refuge in Saudi Arabia.

They demanded a bigger role for clergy in governing and a more conservative society as a defense against Western cultural influences. They also opposed the presence of US troops on “Muslim land.” In the same TV interview, Al-Qarni also spoke of Qatar’s role in luring Sahwa clerics.

“The further away you are from our country (Saudi Arabia), the more they (Qataris) like you... and give money, villas for those who oppose Saudi Arabia,” he said.



As Islamic State gets more followers in South Asia, Lashkar plans to encircle India

May 08, 2019

India's deep state is well versed in the art of intelligence warfare. Its human intelligence-led inputs to the Sri Lankan establishment, though unutilised, showed that they were on top of their game. India has been tracking the National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) for sometime now. New Delhi moved with great alacrity passing on direct actionable intelligence in the weeks and days leading up to the Easter Sunday bombings. And this happened from material accessed during interrogations of an ISIS suspect arrested in India.

The Sri Lankan government even had a warning that Catholic churches were among the possible targets. The suspect gave Indian investigators the name of a man - Zahran Hashmi - he had trained, who is associated with a Sri Lankan extremist group implicated in the bombings. The shadowy man, Zahran Hashim, was identified in a video of the purported attackers released by ISIS, which claimed responsibility for the Easter Sunday macabre massacre.

IANS met several top intelligence functionaries to piece together the emergence of Sri Lanka as the new terror central. While doing so, it unearthed a gargantuan and deep-seated Lashkar plot which goes back at least 14 years showing how LeT had invested for years in Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives and even Malaysia as part of a larger encirclement strategy of India.

Indian intelligence has been alive to this and has used all its skill sets and ground-level inputs to mitigate the terror threat emanating from the island and other neighbouring countries. It needs to be established here that ISI C Wing and LeT are two sides of the same coin as far as jihad is concerned.

ISI has been using Idara Khidmat-e-Khalq (IKK) as a proxy to radicalise unemployed Muslim youth in Sri Lanka and coax them to join the NTJ. In parallel, India has bolstered its security apparatus in Tamil Nadu and Kerala due to the strong presence of NTJ members in these states.

The rise of IS and its vile and noxious thought process of establishing a Caliphate has found takers in Lanka, Bangladesh and the Maldives. At least 200-250 Maldivians have reportedly fought for the IS in trouble spots like Syria and these are mules who make the trek to Yemen where they are further indoctrinated and trained, then sent on wars sometimes to Mali and Chad for fighting or to the combat zone in Iraq and Syria to fight under the IS flag.

A Tokyo-based online magazine 'The Diplomat' validated this saying a December 2015 report by the Soufan Group, a private intelligence agency run by former FBI agent-turned contractor Ali Soufan, put out a count of foreign fighters who'd volunteered to fight for the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Four South Asian countries featured in that list - Malaysia, Pakistan, India, and the Maldives - sending an estimated 393 fighters among them. It was the island nation in the Indian Ocean that sent analysts and headlines into a tizzy with the rise of radical Islam with its bent towards Salafist tendencies. It had by far the highest per capita fighters in the sandbox.

The Indian deep state has been following Islamic militancy in Sri Lanka, a fertile breeding ground since 2004. The tipping point in the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the emerald isle has Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)'s hand prints all over it. A special group headed by LeT's Muzzamil Bhat from Sialkot and his lackeys made forays into Bangladesh, the Maldives and Sri Lanka between 2005 and 2007, knowing fully well that these areas could be used to further their agenda and to encircle India.

Muzzamil Bhat is one of the planners of 26/11 and is reported to be the architect of the Chittisinghpora massacre. The entire construct of this plan to use these countries as a launchpad to train terrorists was part of his larger architecture.

The FBI in its 26/11 chargesheet named Bhat as D, a key LeT military commander, who was involved in the Chittisinghpora massacre in Jammu and Kashmir on the eve of President Bill Clinton's visit to India in March 2000.

In its second chargesheet, filed in a Chicago court, the FBI named an ISI officer, Major Iqbal, and four LeT operatives - Sajid Majeed, Abu Qahafa, Abu Alqama and the unknown Lashkar member 'D'. About 'D' the chargesheet states that after the arrest of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi in Pakistan in connection with the 26/11 attacks, he became the overall operational commander of LeT.

According to FBI, 'D', who is yet to be arrested by Pakistan, was a handler of David Coleman Headley. Headley told Indian investigators that Muzzamil was involved in the Chittisinghpora massacre. In turn, Headley also said Muzzamil was most trustworthy lieutenant of Lakhvi and apart from Chittisinghpora killings of Sikhs, he planned the Akshardham temple attack in September 2002.

According to Indian security establishment sources, Muzzamil is a Kashmiri born in 1976. He is married and his family lives in the Gujranwala town of Pakistani Punjab.

Bhat, on the other hand, is a planner and his understanding was that with Indian intelligence and security forces keeping a close vigil on southern India in those years, he reckoned that taking the training camps offshore would be a better idea. SIMI was already active in southern India, they had set up a southern chapter across the four states, while Bhatkal had become a new centrifuge.

Terror central was moving from Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra to the southern part of India. Hence Muzzamil arrived in Sri Lanka to test the waters and quickly realised that there was traction amongst Tamil Muslims after the Tsunami, ditto in Bangladesh among the Rohingyas between 2004-2008.

But RAW which was extremely active in both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka did not allow Bhat or his henchmen to stabilise their operations.

In 2011, ably abetted and assisted by ISI officer Amir Zubair Siddiqui (Counselor in the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo), a new name popped up on the radar - Zakir Hussain - who began to actively consort with and recruit Tamil Muslims on the island. The plan was to recruit them and unleash hell on diplomatic missions in Chennai and Bangalore, but RAW once again found the scent and pursued them to cut off their feed stock of financing, explosives and weapons.

India engaged with Colombo and brought it up to speed on Siddiqui's shenanigans who was then packed off from Sri Lanka. The diplomat Amir Zubair Siddiqui's plot was to attack the US Consulate in Chennai, Israeli Consulate in Bengaluru, Eastern Naval Command HQ in Visakhapatnam and ports across the country.

Once RAW had blown his cover, NIA moved in to chargesheet Siddiqui who was then visa counselor at the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo. Siddiqui was arrested for allegedly conspiring to attack vital establishments in India and was quietly withdrawn even before the NIA's request under Mutual Assistance Legal Treaty (MLAT) reached Colombo.

The terror plot was uncovered after the NIA police personnel arrested an ISI agent Mohammed Zakir Hussain (37) through the 'Q' Branch of the Tamil Nadu police in 2013. The reason was that he was gathering details about vital installations in Tamil Nadu and sent photographs to Siddiqui. Hussain used his counterparts Sivabalan and Mohammad Salim to circulate fake currency in the state.

During questioning, Hussain also confessed that he had also used Rafeeque (29) to pump in fake Indian currency in the state.

A much larger network of Maldivians, Sri Lankan Muslims and Malaysian Tamils was discovered through this overarching probe. The hunters caught up with the quarry - Zakir Hussain - and another lynchpin was caught in Malaysia and the cartel was busted. Muzzamil Bhat was the spider who spun the web across the three countries and began the process of indoctrination in Sri Lanka. His tireless efforts paid dividends for he planted the seeds as far back as the mid 2000s. He was the first to connect the dots between Thowheed Jamaat which proselytises (mainly among the Tamil community), fights for "pure Islam" and actively promotes construction of mosques in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lankan Tamil Muslim areas.



There Is No Saffron or Islamic Terrorism, But ‘Government Terrorism’ In the Country, Claims Muslim Body Chief

May 7, 2019

Rashtriya Ulema Council president Maulana Aamir Rashadi, who is fighting against the 'atankgarh' tag to the city, Tuesday, claimed that there is no saffron or Islamic terrorism, but "government terrorism" in the country.

Rashadi also claimed that there is a conspiracy to make Muslims "untouchable" in politics.

"I have been fighting for the cause of innocent Muslim youths killed in encounters or lodged in jails. I feel there is no saffron or Islamic terror. There is 'sarkari atankwad' (government terrorism) in the country," he told PTI.

"There is a conspiracy going on to make Muslims untouchable in politics and isolate them," Rashadi, who is not active in this elections due to illness, told PTI.

He claimed that there is no difference between the Congress and the BJP, who are competing with each other to tag Muslims as "traitors".

"Both the parties are targeting the community in the name of terrorism. They appear to be sympathisers of the community but have made their policy to tag Muslims as traitors and anti-nationals," Rashadi said.

"This is done to make Muslims politically untouchable so that the leadership among them does not stand, and with the tag of terrorist they cannot not join any government," he said.

On BJP leader Sadhvi Pragya's claim that she was framed in false cases by agencies, Rashadi said, "I am saying the same thing...if she was not involved (in the 2008 Malegaon blast) it means our agencies did it and framed her. Similar is the case with Muslim youths who are framed by our agencies."

When asked about Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's allegation that the Samajwadi Party had turned Azamgarh into 'atankgarh' (hub of terrorism), he said following the Batla House encounter, "we ran a campaign and made it a symbol, forcing politicians to accept it as fake."

"The CM has now realised that the encounter was fake and Azamgarh was named 'atankgarh'," Rashadi said.

He claimed that Congress leader Salman Khurshid had said UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had tears in her eyes when she knew about the encounter and Digvijaya Singh had accepted that the encounter was fake.

Adityanath during an election meeting here last month had alleged that the Samajwadi Party had turned Azamgarh, which was once known in the field of education and literature, into a 'atankgarh'.

The maulana said, "He will continue to fight for the cause of Muslim youths framed by agencies and continue with his demand for a probe in the Balta encounter."

When asked about the ongoing Lok Sabha polls, Rashadi said the Muslim community has the "experience and will vote wisely".

He said he has given the command of his organisation to the second line due to his ill health.

Five phases of polling are over in Uttar Pradesh and two more phases are left to elect 80 MPs from the state.



8 dead in explosion targeting Elite Force vehicle near Lahore's Data Darbar

May 08, 2019

At least eight people — five policemen and three civilians — were killed and 26 others injured in what officials described as a suicide bombing targeting an Elite Force van detailed to the security of the Data Darbar shrine in Lahore on Wednesday.

The blast took place at 8:45am in the proximity of the police mobile, which was parked near Gate 2 of Data Darbar. Police officials said they suspect the blast was a suicide attack and that the police mobile was the target. An initial probe has revealed that the bomb contained seven kilograms of explosive material.

King Edward Medical University Vice Chancellor Professor Khalid Gondal said the death toll had risen to nine, while the condition of four of the injured is critical. Some of the wounded have also been admitted to Mayo Hospital, where an emergency has been imposed.

He added that seven bodies were at Mayo Hospital while two were at the morgue in King Edward Medical University.

Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Arif Nawaz confirmed that five Elite Force personnel were martyred in the blast.

He told reporters that the attack "100 per cent targeted police", noting that police are posted near the shrine around the clock to provide security. He said that authorities had maintained a general security alert, but there had been no specific warning about a threat to the shrine.

The IGP said the attacker could have caused more damage because of the direction he had approached from, but he made a beeline for the police car stationed in the area for protection of the shrine.

A rescue operation was conducted in the area before it was cordoned off for investigation. The shrine was evacuated, with devotees moved out through exits away from the blast site. Entry to Data Darbar has since been restricted.

A heavy contingent of police, Counter-Terrorism Department and forensic officials are collecting evidence from the site of the attack. The IGP said police will share their findings once they conclude their probe.

All regional police officers and city police officers have been directed to examine security in their respective areas and remain alert during the month of Ramazan. Police have also set up checkpoints on main thoroughfares leading to the shrine and hospitals have been placed on alert, officials told Reuters.

Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the loss of lives in the attack, expressing grief and condoling with the victims’ families for their loss.

According to the DIG Operations Lahore, 306 police officials in the city have so far lost their lives in the line of duty.

Buzdar orders inquiry

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar condemned the attack and ordered an inquiry into the incident, summoning reports from the Punjab Inspector General of Police and the additional chief secretary of interior, according to a handout issued by the Punjab government.

The chief minister also called a high-level meeting at the Punjab Safe City Headquarters and cancelled his scheduled visits to Bhakkar, Sargodha and Sheikhupura.

He offered his condolences to the families of the victims and instructed administrations to provide the injured with the best facilities for treatment.

Data Darbar, also known as Data Ganjh Bakhsh, is one of the country's most popular Sufi shrines where Sufi saint Ali Hajveri is buried. Pakistanis in large numbers visit the shrine, where a pair of suicide attacks in 2010 killed and wounded dozens of people.



LHC seeks ‘detailed’ apology from TLP’s Pir Afzal Qadri

MAY 8, 2019

A two-member bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday directed the counsel for Pir Afzal Qadri – former leader of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) who is currently facing a treason case – to submit a detailed apology over his incendiary remarks that he had made during a protest against the Supreme Court’s decision to acquit blasphemy accused Asia Bibi.

The firebrand cleric was booked under sedition and terrorism charges in Gujrat and taken into “protective custody” by the state during a crackdown in November 2018 after the TLP announced it would observe martyrs’ day on November 25, 2018. During the hearing of a bail plea filed by Qadri and TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi – whose earlier applications were rejected by an anti-terrorism court – Justice Qasim Ali Khan directed his counsel, Hafeezur Rehman Chaudhry, to submit the attested apology letter by today (Wednesday).

On the onset of the hearing, the court rejected the counsel’s plea to not highlight the apology letter, and directed the counsel to read it out in the court. “He [Qadri] should have thought about it when he was using the mic[rophone],” Justice Khan added. Chaudhry then read out the apology, after which the court directed him to define the “harsh words” used in the apology letter. The counsel said that according to the record, Qadri had said that the three judges [who acquitted Asia Bibi] were liable to be killed, Prime Minister Imran Khan was a Zionist agent and that Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s orders should not be followed by his subordinates.

Justice Khan observed that the comments were incitement to violence. “Saying such things about army generals – what is it if not treason?” the judge asked.

Chaudhry reiterated that Qadri had apologised in his letter, but Justice Asjad Javed Ghural pointed out that “he had declared that the judges of the higher judiciary deserve to be killed”.

“Pir Afzal Qadri should have sought an apology over the labels uttered against judges and generals,” Justice Khan added.

The court directed the counsel to contact his client over telephone for fresh instructions about a more detailed apology. The lawyer did so, and told the court that Qadri would file a more detailed apology letter today [Wednesday].



Sudan’s military council wants Islamic Sharia law to be source of legislation

8 May 2019

Sudan’s military rulers said on Tuesday they generally agreed with proposals made by protest leaders on the structure of an interim government, but want Islamic Sharia laws and local norms to guide legislation.

Protesters whose months of street demonstrations helped force longtime President Omar al-Bashir from office last month have kept up their demands for change, calling on the military officers, who took over, to hand over power to civilians.

Responding to a draft constitutional document presented by a coalition of protest groups and political parties, the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) noted that the document omitted Sharia law.

“Our view is that Islamic Sharia and the local norms and traditions in the Republic of Sudan should be the sources of legislation,” TMC spokesman Lieutenant General Shams El Din Kabbashi told reporters.

He also said the council believes that the power to declare a state of emergency in the country should go to the sovereign authority, not the Cabinet as the opposition suggested. The transitional period should last two years, not four, which was the opposition’s proposal, he said.

Discussions with the opposition were ongoing, but calling early elections within six months would be an option if they could not reach an agreement, Kabbashi said.

Former intelligence chief Salah Gosh was under house arrest, he added.

Another council member said more than four members of the TMC had resigned and that the TMC was dismantling an unofficial militia group, known as Popular Security, which was operated by Bashir’s party.

This came after Sudanese forces seized explosives belts, guns including rifles fitted with silencers, devices used to detonate explosives remotely and satellite telephones in a raid on a property in the capital Khartoum, on Monday

The TMC said on Tuesday that those weapons belonged to Popular Security.

The Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces, an alliance of activists and opposition groups, sent the military council the draft constitutional document on Thursday outlining its vision for the transitional period.

Earlier on Tuesday, the main group spearheading protests in Sudan said that the TMC had responded to its plans for an interim government structure, and it would announce its position once it had studied the reply.

Amjad Farid, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which has played the leading role in the protests, said the council had sent a written reply.

“We will study the response and will announce our position later,” Farid told reporters.

The constitutional draft, seen by Reuters, describes the duties of a sovereign transitional council that the opposition groups hope will replace the TMC but does not specify who would sit on it. It also outlines the responsibilities of the Cabinet and a 120-member legislature.

The military removed Bashir on April 11 after months of demonstrations against his 30-year rule.



Anti-Terror Unit Seizes 'Mother of Satan' Bombs From Terrorist Hideouts

MAY 07, 2019

Jakarta. A police spokesman said on Monday the National Police's anti-terror unit Densus 88 had seized home-made bombs containing a highly explosive substance called triaceton triperoxide, also known as the "Mother of Satan," and arrested six suspected terrorists during a series of raids in West and Central Java last weekend.

Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo said the six suspected terrorists are members of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), an Islamic State-affiliated group led by 34-year-old Solihin alias Abu Faiza.

The police have been pursuing Solihin, suspected of involvement in a series of terrorist attacks – including the Thamrin bombing in Jakarta in January 2016 – in the past three years.

Densus 88 raided suspected terrorist hideouts in Bekasi, West Java, and Tegal, Central Java, on Saturday and Sunday. They captured Solihin in Pondok Ungu near Bekasi on Saturday along with A.H. alias Abah, a bombmaker, and M.J., another suspected terrorist. Solihin himself is also known in terrorist circle as a bombmaking expert.

According to Dedi, Solihin was the leader of two terrorist cells that were plotting to launch an attack that will exploit a people power protest planned by disgruntled supporters of presidential nominee Prabowo Subianto.

The General Elections Commission (KPU) is scheduled to announce the results of its official vote count, which currently has Prabowo lagging behind incumbent president Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, on May 22.

The government on Monday had threatened legal action against individuals or organizations that attempt to delegitimize the result from KPU's official vote count.

Solihin's Terror Cells

Dedi said Solihin's highly structured terrorist cells are unique among other JAD groups that usually prefer to launch "lone wolf-style" attacks.

"Solihin is part of a JAD group from Lampung known for its strong organizational structure. They swore allegiance to JAD leader Amman Abdurahman in 2014 and had been working under the supervision of Zainul Arifin, who was arrested in Lamongan [East Java]. The group met in Malang [East Java] in November 2015 and after that they launched the attack in Jakarta [in January 2016]," Dedi said.

The police had already captured Amman Abdurahman, who is now on death row.

Solihin and his group went on the run after the Thamrin attack but then got themselves involved in several other terror attacks, including a deadly prison riot at the Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) headquarters in Depok, West Java, in May last year, during which five Densus 88 officers and one convicted terrorist were killed.

"Suspects in the Brimob prison riot confessed Solihin was their leader," Dedi said.

Solihin escaped to Papua to establish a terrorist training camp and then returned to Java and Sulawesi to form two new terrorist cells – one in Bekasi and one in Poso, Central Sulawesi – in early 2019.

He seemed to have disappeared under the security forces' radar until Densus 88 arrested two suspected terrorists, R.H. and M., in Bitung, North Sulawesi, on May 2.

R.H. and M. are members of Solihin’s Poso cell and were going to join up with the East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT), a militant group led by Ali Kalora, when they were captured.

Clues collected by Densus 88 from the Bitung raid led to Solihin's arrest in Bekasi last weekend.

'Mother of Satan' Bombs

Abah was assisting Solihin to make bombs containing the highly explosive triaceton triperoxide (TATP), a substance known also as the "Mother of Satan."

The same ingredient was used in the Surabaya church bombings in May last year and in several daring attacks on police stations in Java and Sumatra.

The police have also named another captured terrorist with the ability to assemble home-made bombs, F a.k,a. Samuel. His expertise in making bombs is rated higher than Solihin or 35-year-old T., who detonated a bomb to avoid arrest in Bekasi on Sunday but only managed to kill himself.

Terror Plots Foiled

Dedi said Solihin's terror groups were planning to launch several attacks in Jakarta and Bekasi.

One of them was a plan to send a suicide bomber to the Jati Asih police station in Bekasi, an attack intended to encourage other terror cells to follow suit, Dedi said.

"They planned to attack on-duty police officers, wounding or killing them, and seizing their weapons," Dedi said.

The group had already plotted the attack in great details, including drawing a map that was found during the weekend raid.

Another plot was hatched to exploit a people power protest planned by dissatisfied supporters of Prabowo Subianto.

The attack is again intended to mobilize other terrorist cells in Indonesia.

Dedi said JAD is likely try to use the momentum to encourage other terror cells to launch more attacks, "probably" using suicide bombers.



China, US clash at UN over Uighur detentions

May 8, 2019

UNITED NATIONS: China angrily assailed the United States on Tuesday for calling on countries at the United Nations to deprive Beijing of a seat at a UN forum over its treatment of the Uighur minority.

It was the second time in as many weeks that the two countries openly clashed at the United Nations over the rights of the Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities held in camps in China’s Xianjiang region.

Last week, the United States invited the head of the World Uighur Congress, Dolkun Isa, to address the UN forum on indigenous peoples, infuriating China.

US diplomat Courtney Nemoff said ahead of elections on Tuesday that China’s treatment of Uighurs should be a factor in deciding on membership to the UN forum tasked with protecting indigenous people worldwide.

“The United States is alarmed that more than a million Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Muslims have suffered arbitrary detention, forced labor, torture, and death in camps in China’s Xinjiang” region, said Nemoff.

“These atrocities must be stopped. We call on member states to bear this in mind in this important forum.”

A Chinese diplomat took the floor to strongly reject the US statement.

“The US representative made an unreasonable accusation against China and defamation against China,” he said, expressing Beijing’s “strong displeasure over this and our firm opposition to it.”

Despite the US appeal, China’s candidate, Zhang Xiaoan, was elected by acclamation to the 16-member UN forum along with four other representatives from Burundi, Namibia, Denmark and Russia.

Beijing claims the camps in Xinjiang are “vocational training centers” to steer people away from extremism and reintegrate them, in a region plagued by violence blamed on Uighur separatists or Islamists.

In his address at the UN, Isa said Uighurs were being rounded up to live in “an open-air prison,” deprived of their religious rights and freedom.

The Chinese diplomat told the meeting that Isa was a “terrorist designated by the Chinese government” and supported by the US, which “is utilising him to attack and defame China, with no basis at all.”

The United States was among a group of countries that asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to raise the plight of the Uighurs during his visit to China last month.

Guterres told Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that “human rights must be fully respected in the against terrorism,” according to UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.



Washington school district wants teachers to bless Muslim students in Arabic during Ramadan, religious liberty group claims

8 May 2019

A religious liberty advocacy group is threatening to slap a Seattle-area school district with a lawsuit claiming the district has urged teachers to bless Muslim students in Arabic during the holy month of Ramadan and give them preferential treatment, including skipping tests.

The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF) claims the Dieringer School District is officially endorsing Islam and is following a script by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) that urges schools to make special accommodations for Muslim students and to wish them "Ramadan Mubarak," which means "Happy Ramadan," or "Ramadan Kareem," which means "Have a generous Ramadan."

The CAIR guidelines also instruct teachers to monitor Muslim students fasting and suggests teachers not schedule any tests on the Islamic holidays of Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.

“By urging teachers to bless Muslim students in Arabic, the district is running roughshod over the First Amendment’s mandate of government neutrality toward religion,” said Daniel Piedra, FCDF’s executive director. “A school district would never order teachers to ‘welcome’ Catholic students during Easter with ‘He is risen, alleluia!’ Singling out Muslim students for special treatment is blatantly unconstitutional.”

The defense fund claims Dieringer Superintendent Judy Martinson blindly followed the recommendations of CAIR and "enacted the letter as official district policy." The defense fund sent Martinson a letter stating their complaints after a teacher and parent complained about the new procedure.

The May 6 letter also warned Martinson about CAIR's anti-semitic advocacy and alleged ties to radical Islamists, which the group has long denied.

Martinson did not respond to Fox News' request for comment. However, she put out a statement to members of the school district later Tuesday, writing: "The Dieringer School District has not and would not violate the First Amendment by endorsing any religious observations.  Be assured that we respect the personal beliefs of you and your family."

Fox News also has obtained a March 14 email from Martinson's official account to district officials including school principals, forwarding a CAIR letter with suggested guidelines for schools.

Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for CAIR, the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, told Fox News the pushback from FCDF was a "sign of the growing Islamophobia in our nation that showing respect for and accommodating the religious traditions of Muslim students could result in punitive legal action."

"Pluralism in America means recognizing the wide variety of holidays celebrated by students of different faiths and backgrounds, including by saying 'Merry Christmas,' 'Happy Hanukkah,' 'Happy Diwali,' or 'Ramadan Mubarak,'" Hooper said.

Though there is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits public schools from accommodating students' religious exercise to the extent it would not interfere with educational interests, FCDF claims that by issuing CAIR recommendations to district employees, Martinson "acted under color of state law to create an official policy that has a primary effect of advancing religion. The Ramadan Policy, in both adoption and implementation, plainly imposes liability on the District under the United States and Washington Constitutions."

FCDC also takes issue with the suggestion that schools skip tests on Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha and claims CAIR is trying to justify celebrating the days by "falsely contending these holidays should receive similar treatment to Christmas."

"This approach is wrong for two reasons. First, adding Islamic holidays does not further the district’s educational mission and academic goals. Recognizing holidays is constitutional only if the purpose is to provide secular instruction about religious traditions, rather than to promote the particular religion involved. Second, CAIR’s recommendation that teachers schedule tests around Eid Al-Fitr and Eid would alleviate no burden on Muslim students," FCDC said.

Monday marked the start of Ramadan, a monthlong celebration that began in the seventh century and commemorates Allah, the Arabic name for God. Muslims are expected to pray at night, fast during the day and abstain from sexual activity between sunrise and sunset.



Rouhani: Iran to resume uranium enrichment if world powers do not keep promises

8 May 2019

Iran will resume high level enrichment of uranium if world powers did not protect its interests against US sanctions, President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday.

In a speech broadcast on national television, Rouhani said the remaining signatories - Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia - had 60 days to make good on their promises to protect Iran’s oil and banking sectors.

In response, France’s defense minister said on Wednesday it wanted to keep the Iran 2015 nuclear deal alive and warned that if Iran were to not keep to its commitments then the question of triggering a mechanism that could lead to sanctions would be on the table.

Speaking to BFM TV, Florence Parly said nothing would be worse than Iran withdrawing from the deal and that France ,Britain and Germany were doing all they could to keep the accord alive.

Rouhani has written to the leaders of those countries, saying it will start rolling back some of its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal on Wednesday, and will no longer sell enriched uranium and heavy water to other nations. “If the five countries came to the negotiating table and we reached an agreement, and if they could protect our interests in oil and banking sectors, we will go back to square one (and will resume our commitments),” Rouhani said.

Rouhani warned of a firm response if Iran’s nuclear case is referred again to the United Nations Security Council, but said Tehran was ready for negotiations over its nuclear program. “The Iranian people and the world should know that today is not the end of the JCPOA,” Rouhani said, using the acronym for the nuclear deal. “These are actions in line with the JCPOA.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also tweeted “After a year of patience, Iran stops measures that US has made impossible to continue.”

US President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal last year, and subsequently re-imposed tough sanctions on Iran, including on its lifeblood oil exports with the stated intent of reducing them to zero and starving Iran’s economy.

Sources at the French presidency said on Tuesday that international sanctions could be re-imposed on Iran if it reneges on commitments under its nuclear deal.



Arab World


Iraqi Sources: US Sending Aid for ISIL in Western Iraq

May 07, 2019

The US troops have sent foodstuff and medicine for the ISIL terrorists in al-Anbar's Western Sahara, the Arabic-language al-Malou'ma News Website quoted Qasa al-Anbari as saying.

He pointed to the vast area and difficult terrain of al-Anbar province, and said the only way of access to the areas where the ISIL terrorists are stationed goes through air and the US military choppers are the only aircraft flying to the region and supplying the ISIL militants with aid consignment.

Iraqi sources have repeatedly reported the US choppers' attempts to send military shipments to the ISIL in Salahuddin, Falluja, Mosul, and Diarli as well as relocating the ISIL commanders to safe regions.

In a relevant development on Sunday, The ISIL's plan to start new terrorist cells in Iraq was foiled after its recent defeats in region, a senior security official said, adding that a senior terrorist commander was killed in the recent operation.

Director of Iraq' Intelligence and Internal Security Abu Ali al-Basri told the Arabic-language al-Sabah newspaper that Iraqi intelligence forces managed to thwart ISIL's scheme to regain power and form new groups to start a new wave of insecurities in Nineveh province.

Al-Basri said that during the operations, which was carried out in cooperation with Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (Hashd al-Sha'abi), several terrorists, including their notorious commander Vahid Amineh who is accused of orchestrating massacre of tens of civilians in the cities of Mosul and Tal Afar, have been killed.

Al-Basri also reiterated that the details of the operations and confessions by the captured terrorists will be released soon.



Syrian Army Reinforces Units in Aleppo After Turkish Army's Failed Attack

May 07, 2019

The Syrian Army sent a massive military convoy comprising over 200 government troops and military vehicles carrying military equipment from al-Hamdaniyeh region in Aleppo to the town of Ahras and Tal Raf'at in Northern Aleppo, reinforcing their military positions, battlefield sources in Northern Aleppo said Tuesday.

The sources noted that the measure was launched in line with preparing the Syrian Army for any possible attack after warding off an attack by Turkish Army and its allied militants on the government forces' positions in Mar'anaz region in Northern Aleppo.

In a relevant development on Sunday, an informed security source in Syria said the Ankara-backed terrorists stationed near the town of Mar'anaz in Aleppo launched false-flag rocket and artillery attacks against the Turkish army positions inside Syria to give pretext to Turkey to pound the Syrian army points,

The source was quoted by the Arabic-language al-Mayadeen news channel as saying that the Ankara-backed terrorists advanced towards the Syrian army positions in Mar'anaz with the Turkish army's heavy artillery backup but they were surrounded by the Syrian army forces and a number of them were killed and wounded in clashes between the two sides.

He added that the terrorists called for the Turkish army assistance, but the Turkish soldiers were trapped in a mine field in the region and a number of them were wounded.

The source said that the Turkish side urged Russia to mediate a ceasefire to collect the wounded Turkish soldiers, adding that the Turkish army operations in Northern Aleppo were aimed at delaying the Syrian army's long-awaited military operations in Idlib province which was due to start on Monday.

He added that the Ankara-backed militants conducted the operations after Turkey's green light, noting that over 200 Syrian army forces have been killed during suspicious moves by the Turkish side and offensives by Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) in the past 4 months.

Meantime, the Kurdish-language Hawar news quoted the Afrin Liberation Forces as saying that during clashes between them and the Turkish army and Ankara-backed militants in Mar'anaz, al-Malekiyeh and al-Shawareqah in al-Shahba region in Northern Aleppo, 40 militants and a Turkish soldier were killed and 30 others were wounded.

The development came after Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said the Damascus government “will not allow Turkey to control even one centimeter of the Syrian territory”, stressing that Ankara should know that “Damascus will not accept the survival of militant groups” in Syria’s Northwestern province of Idlib.

“The Damascus government’s resolution is to liberate every inch of the Syrian territory, and Idlib is no exception,” Mekdad told al-Mayadeen television news network.

He added, “The Turks and others should know that the Syrian government is determined to recover all of Syrian soil. Turkey must also understand that its support for terrorism and its occupation of the Syrian territory will not guarantee security.”

Full report at:



Tens of Terrorists Killed in Foiled Attempt to Reopen Vital Road in Hama

May 07, 2019

Large groups of elite militants of Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) attacked the Syrian Army's military positions to retake control of the regions that they have lost in Northwestern Hama in Tal Osman and al-Asar axes, the Arabic-language version of the Russian Sputnik news agency quoted a military source as saying.

The source pointed to fierce clashes and dispatch of militants and military equipment to battlefronts, and said that at least 70 militants were killed and injured in airstrikes by the Russian and Syrian bombers.

Meantime, another military source said that the Syrian Army took control of the strategic Osman Hill (Tal Osman) and its surrounding areas, and managed to cut the vital line of movement connecting two main bases of the terrorists in Qala al-Maziq and Kafr Naboudeh.

He pointed to the recent advances by the Syrian Army towards borders with Idlib, and said that the Syrian Army intends to cut the terrorists' lines connecting Idlib and Lattakia by taking full control of the strategic Kobani region in Northern Lattakia.

In a relevant development earlier this month, the terrorists stationed in Hama, launched tens of rocket attacks on residential areas in the town of al-Saqilbieh and the village of al-Khandaq in Sahl al-Ghab in Western Hama, killing and injuring several people.

In response to the terrorists' attacks, the Syrian Army's artillery and missile units heavily pounded the terrorists' military positions in the town of al-Sahrieh in Shahshabou in Northern Hama, destroying their military positions and hideouts as well as killing and injuring a number of them.

The Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper, meantime, reported that the Syrian and Russian air forces launched heavy attacks on terrorists' military positions and movements in al-Maziq Qala and al-Havash in Western Hama and around al-Bashireh village in Jisr al-Shoghour in Western Idlib which resulted in the destruction of several key targets, including an arms and military equipment depot.

Full report at:



All Family Members Killed in US-Backed SDF Crime in Deir Ezzur

May 07, 2019

A group of SDF militants backed by American helicopters raided the house of a civilian in the town of Zaman in Eastern Deir Ezzur, Al-Watan newspaper quoted media activists in Eastern Syria as saying.

The SDF militants took out the entire family, including a pregnant woman, they added.

The activists reiterated that killing of the Syrian civilians in Deir Ezzur was one of the most horrendous ones which was backed by the US, and said that the SDF prevented the people from helping the family.

Meantime, the town of Zaman has been the scene of popular protests against the SDF and the occupying US troops.

Meanwhile, the residents of Hasan town demanded expulsion of SDF militants by holding popular protests amid revolts against the occupying forces in Eastern Deir Ezzur.

In a relevant development on Monday, the residents of a region in Raqqa province expelled the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces amid intensified popular protests by civilians against the SDF, local sources said.

The people in the village of Jadideh Kahit East of al-Katameh town in Eastern Raqqa clashed with a group of Syrian Democratic Forces who were arresting civilians in the region and expelled from the region, local sources in Raqqa said.

The sources pointed to intensified differences and tensions among civilians and Kurdish forces in Raqqa, and said two SDF militants were killed in a bomb blast carried out by unknown assailants in al-Shaher village in Eastern Raqqa.

In Deir Ezzur province, meantime, the residents of the towns of Sweidan Jazira, Geranij, al-Mavilah and al-Hasin as well as the villages of Jadid Akidat and Jadid Bekareh in Eastern and Southeastern Deir Ezzur revolted against the SDF and their plundering of oil reserves.

Full report at:



Anti-Kurdish protests grow in Syria’s Deir al-Zor, say sources

8 May 2019

Arab inhabitants of Syria’s Deir al-Zor began a third week of protests against Kurdish rule, the largest wave of unrest to sweep the oil-rich region since the US-backed forces took over the territory from ISIS extremist group nearly 18 months ago, residents, witnesses and tribal figures said.

The protests which erupted weeks ago in several towns and villages from Busayrah to Shuhail have now spread to remaining areas where most of the oilfields are located in the SDF controlled part of Deir al-Zor, east of the Euphrates.

Arab residents under YPG rule who have been complaining of lack of basic services and discrimination against them in local administrations run by Kurdish officials have been growing restive in recent months.

The forcible conscription of youths into the SDF as well as the fate of thousands imprisoned in their jails have been major bones of contention, according to residents and tribal figures.

“Their repressive rule has turned many against them,” said Abdul Latif al-Okaidat, a tribal leader.

The protests took a violent turn when angry mobs took to the streets and disrupted the routes of convoys of trucks loaded with oil from nearby fields that cross into government held areas.

In some villages, SDF forces fired at angry protesters.

“No to the theft of our oil!” chanted demonstrators in the town of Greinej, part of the Arab-Sunni tribal heartland seized over a year ago by the Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and spearheaded by the Kurdish YPG militia.

The YPG has long sold crude oil to the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, with whom it maintains close economic ties and exports wheat and other commodities through several crossings between their territory.

The stepping up of oil sales to alleviate a fuel crunch facing Damascus has infuriated the local Arab protesters, with many placards saying they were being “robbed” of their wealth.

“We are deprived of everything while the Kurds are selling our oil to help the regime and enriching themselves,” said Abdullah Issa, a protester from al-Tayaneh town.

Syria’s most productive fields are now in Kurdish hands since the YPG extended control over large swathes of north eastern Syria after capturing the city of Raqqa from ISIS in late 2017.

The Syrian government controls areas west of the Euphrates river that are less endowed with oil resources.

Diplomats say Washington has also in recent weeks tightened efforts to clamp down on small shipments of oil by smuggler networks that are exported across the Euphrates river to traders working on behalf of the Syrian government.

The SDF has not publicly commented on the most serious challenge so far to its rule over tens of thousands of Arabs. The YPG has sought to redress decades of repression against minority Kurds under Syria’s Arab Baath party.

SDF commander in-chief Mazloum Kobani, in remarks that seem to refer to the unrest, said his group was the only “institution that had steered away from any form of racism.”

The protests persisted after YPG commanders failed to make significant concessions to tribal figures who gathered at their invitation last Friday in the city of Ain Issa, two attendees said.

Among the Arabs demands were ending forcible conscription, releasing detainees and stopping oil sales from their region to the Syrian government.

The risks of wider confrontation were now growing, analysts say.

“The protests are now more organized and wider with a higher ceiling and developing gradually to a popular uprising where people are asking to be ruled by themselves and ending Kurdish hegemony,” said Feras Allawi, a political analyst from the area.

Full report at:



US-led coalition aircraft drop food, medicine to Daesh remnants in western Iraq: Report

May 7, 2019

The US-led coalition purportedly fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group has reportedly dropped foodstuff and medical supplies to the remnants of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in Iraq’s western province of Anbar and on the border with conflict-plagued Syria.

Arabic-language al-Maalomah news agency, quoting Qusay al-Anbari, a spokesman for Iraq's Badr Organization -- a part of the Popular Mobilization Forces better known by the common word Hashd al-Sha’abi, reported on Monday that Daesh terrorists are hiding in the heart of Anbar desert area, and could only be reached by US-led military helicopters.

The report then cited locals, requesting not to be named, as saying that they have seen US-led coalition aircraft dropping food and medicine to the Daesh Takfiris.

Back on February 17, local sources, requesting anonymity, told Syria’s official news agency SANA that US-led military helicopters had landed in the Dashisha area of Syria’s eastern province of Hasakah as well as Hajin town in Dayr al-Zawr province, and transported dozens of Daesh commanders and militants to unknown locations following a deal.

The sources added that the extremists, in return, directed the US-led forces to their caches of stolen gold east of Shaddadi town.

SANA, citing information received from local residents, reported on November 13 last year that American helicopters had evacuated several Daesh terrorists from the village of al-Suwayda in Hasakah to an unknown location.

The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes and operations against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a United Nations mandate.

Full report at:





ISIS suspect, with links to Abu Dujana, deported from Doha; to be interrogated by NIA

May 08, 2019

Neeraj Chauhan and Ramesh Babu

An Islamic State suspect with alleged links to Riyas Aboobacker alias Abu Dujana — a member of IS’ Kasargod module in Kerala who was arrested last week — was deported from Doha on Tuesday evening, an Intelligence Bureau official familiar with the development said.

The National Investigation Agency took the custody of the man, identified as Faisal, as soon as he was brought to Delhi.

The official said, Faisal, also a native of Kerala, had been in regular touch with Aboobacker, who was arrested last week. The latter was allegedly planning suicide attacks in Kerala after being inspired by the mastermind of Sri Lanka bombings, Maulvi Zahran Bin Hashim, leader of National Towheed Jama’at (NTJ).

A second IB officer said Aboobacker had convinced three-four persons from Kerala and Tamil Nadu to follow Zahran Hashim’s radical speeches and Faisal could be one of them.

“Faisal could also be in touch with Abdul Rashid Abdulla, the leader of Kerala’s Kasargod ISIS module, in which 22 persons including women and children had travelled to Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province to fight for the ISIS,” said the officer.

He added that Faisal’s name cropped up during the interrogation of Aboobacker, who is still in NIA custody, following which Faisal has been deported to Delhi from Doha with government’s diplomatic efforts.

Agencies suspect that IS members, including Aboobacker, Faisal, Abdulla (in Afghanistan) and others were planning something big in India as well.

As first reported by HT, the members of Coimbatore module and Kasargod module of IS in Tamil Nadu and Kerala respectively, were either in touch with Sri Lanka attacks mastermind or followed his speeches.

Zahran Hashim and another Sri Lanka bomber, Mohammad Azaan, had travelled to India in 2017 and 2018 to discuss the plans of Islamic State.

Since April 21 Sri Lanka attacks, which claimed the lives of over 250 people, there has been a major crackdown on suspects in both the southern states.

According to the NIA, Aboobacker has disclosed that he wanted to carry out “suicide attacks” in Kerala.

Aboobacker will be confronted with Faisal, said the second IB officer.

The NIA has claimed Aboobacker followed speeches/videos of Zahran Hashim for more than a year and had also followed the speeches of Zakir Naik.

“Riyas revealed that he was also having online chat with Abdul Khayoom alias Abu Khalid (suspect in the Valapattanam ISIS case) who was believed to be in Syria,” the NIA stated in a statement last week.



India has made many important contributions to Afghanistan's development: US

May 7, 2019

NEW DELHI: The US on Tuesday said its Special Representative for Afghan peace Zalmay Khalilzad has recognised the many important contributions India has made to Afghanistan's development in his talks with top Indian government officials during his two-day visit here.

Khalilzad held consultations with Indian government officials and other stakeholders on the Afghan peace process during his May 6-7 visit here, the US Embassy said.

Ambassador Khalilzad met external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale, and India's ambassador to Afghanistan Vinay Kumar, among others.

"During his meetings, Ambassador Khalilzad welcomed expressions of support for the Afghan peace process, which strengthens an emerging international consensus for peace efforts. He also recognized the many important contributions India has made to Afghanistan's development," the embassy said in a statement.

It said Khalilzad and his counterparts discussed the many important benefits that peace would bring, which include preventing international terrorists use of Afghanistan as a platform for attacks, improving prospects for regional peace and security and increasing regional connectivity and trade.

"Ambassador Khalilzad and his counterparts also discussed that Afghanistan's political future is for Afghans to decide through an inclusive and legitimate process," the embassy said.

"They also agreed that Afghan gains of the last 18 years must be preserved and built upon. Ambassador Khalilzad will continue to consult with Indian counterparts as the peace process moves forward," it added.

Khalilzad has been holding talks with the Taliban in Qatari capital Doha to hammer out a deal to bring lasting peace and stability to war-ravaged Afghanistan.

Last week, the US officials held their sixth round of talks with the Taliban to end the over 17-year-old conflict in Afghanistan.

In March, India conveyed to the US that it should not withdraw its troops from Afghanistan without putting in place an elected "political structure" to govern the country.

Major powers such as the US, Russia and Iran have been reaching out to the Taliban as part of efforts to push the stalled Afghan peace process.

India has been a key stakeholder in the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

In a significant move, India had sent two former diplomats in "non official" capacity to a conference on Afghan peace process in Moscow in November last year which was attended by a high-level Taliban delegation.

The conference organised by Russia was attended by representatives of Afghanistan as well as from several other countries, including the US, Pakistan and China.

Full report at:





Uniform Syllabus for Education Institutions, Madrasas Approved

Syed Irfan Raza

May 08, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday approved a uniform curriculum for all education institutions in the country, including 30,000 madressahs (religious seminaries).

During a meeting, the cabinet vowed that there would be no power load-shedding during Ramazan. It also decided to renew licences of mobile cell phone companies for 15 years which will fetch $1.3 billion.

The cabinet approved installation of automatic metering system to revamp power supply and distribution system and overcome the issue of circular debt forever.

However, the expected approval for the appointment of Syed Shabbar Zaidi as chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) was not given as the summary regarding his appointment was not presented before the cabinet.

Addressing a post-cabinet meeting press conference, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the cabinet held a thorough discussion on the uniform syllabus for all education institutions in the country, including 30,000 seminaries which are presently being run under the umbrella of Wifaqul Madaris.

Ms Awan was accompanied by Federal Minister for Energy Umar Ayub.

“It is the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan to enforce a uniform curriculum across the country,” the special assistant said.

She said the government did not want to bring all madressahs under its supervision, but they would be attached to the government. “The government will also monitor bank transactions and foreign funding of religious seminaries,” she added.

Interestingly, since an initiative by the government of former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf, many attempts have been made in the country to bring religious seminaries under the ambit of the government and to introduce uniform syllabus across the country, but all such efforts remained in vain.

Minister for Energy Umar Ayub claimed that there would be no power load-shedding during Ramazan. He said the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) had proposed 3.4 per cent increase in electricity charges, but the government had increased it by 1.87pc with an assurance that the revised rate would not be applied to 75 per cent consumers.

He criticised the previous government of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) for leaving behind to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government the circular debt of over Rs450 billion. He said that it was one of the major reasons of power load-shedding in the country. He vowed that the government would reduce circular debt in the power sector through reforms and by 2020 there would be zero circular debt in this sector.

The minister alleged that during its last days in government, the PML-N generously supplied unaccounted electricity to some power theft areas in a bid to get votes in the election from those areas.

He said the whole country would soon have an automatic metering system that would help overcome power theft. He said the government had taken stern action against those involved in electricity theft and registered 27,000 cases, besides arresting 4,225 people.

“During this Ramazan we wanted to supply electricity to the whole country, including the power theft areas, but feeders there could not bear the load of both Kundas and legitimate connection at the same time,” he said.

Ms Awan said the cabinet approved renewal of licences of the cell phone companies for the next 15 years and as a result the government would fetch $1.3 billion. She said the prime minister was given a detailed briefing in this regard. A source in the cabinet told Dawn that the summary for the appointment of Mr Zaidi as the FBR chairman was not presented in the meeting.

“The law minister Farogh Naseem has sought some more time from the cabinet to address legal concerns on the appointment of Mr Zaidi,” the source said.

PM Khan during a chat with media persons on Monday announced the appointment of Mr Zaidi, a Karachi-based partner in chartered accounting firm A.F. Ferguson, as the new chairman of the FBR.

Talking on the expiry of the six-week bail of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday, Ms Awan criticised the PML-N for what she called “glorifying” the former premier’s return to Kot Lakhpat Jail.

“Mr Sharif has been declared a convict by the Supreme Court. He should be considered a convict not a hero and he should not be given a VIP protocol,” she added.

Calling Mr Sharif a “winner of world cup in corruption”, she said: “If Nawaz Sharif, who is a bigger convict, is given VIP protocol, then other petty convicts would have right to have a same treatment.”



Muslim Community Praised For Cordial Ties with Kalash People

May 08, 2019

CHITRAL: Kalash minority MPA Wazirzada has said the survival of the indigenous Kalash people is solely because of the majority Muslim community’s cordial relations with it.

Addressing the UN’s Indigenous Peoples Organisation in New York the other day, he said Kalash were known as the indigenous people of Chitral living there for last 2,000 years in three valleys comprising a population of 4,000 people, but they never faced any threat from the Muslim majority.

He said the Kalash and Muslims lived in peace and amity and it was due to this reason that the population of Kalash was increasing, while a false notion was being propagated that their population was waning which was totally baseless.

“The Kalash civilisation is conglomeration of a number of festivals which continue through most part of the year while their religious dogmas are also festivities in nature and it is heartening to note that the Muslim community does not impede the celebrations,” he said.

He demanded of the government to give the right of representation to the Kalash community in the parliament irrespective of their low numerical strength so their issues could be resolved.

Mr Wazirzada thanked the international community for extending moral and financial support to the Kalash community for their amelioration.

JI OFFICE-BEARERS NAMED: The Jamaat-i-Islami’s newly-elected Upper Chitral district emir Maulana Sher Karim Shah has nominated office-bearers of the party for five years.

According to a statement issued on Tuesday, Qari Faizullah will be patron-in-chief, while Maulana Fatehul Bari and Maulana Mohammad Murad will be naib emirs.

The other office-bearers include Maulana Attaur Rehman general secretary, Mufti Amin Ahmed deputy secretary, Maulana Habibuddin district spokesman and Mirza Alam finance secretary.

ILLEGAL APPOINTMENT: A resident of Kalash valley of Rumbur, Naseer Kalash, has demanded of the government to take notice of illegal appointment of a watchman (chowkidar) in the veterinary dispensary by the department’s director who picked the man from a village 53 kilometres away.

Addressing a press conference the other day and flanked by the elders of the valley, he said after the retirement of his father as chowkidar of the dispensary in early 2018, he was verbally ordered by the director to start his duties without pay till the post was advertised and interviews held.

He said as he was already working on the post, not a single person from the valley applied for the job, but to his utter surprise, a person from Denin village was appointed against the post.

Full report at:



Better ties to benefit Pakistan as well as Afghanistan: Khalilzad

Anwar Iqbal

May 08, 2019

WASHINGTON: Better economic ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan could propel the entire region forward, said US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad while welcoming direct talks between Prime Minister Imran Khan and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

“Pleased to see PM Imran Khan and President Ghani spoke” on Sunday, Ambassador Khalilzad wrote in a tweet.

“Both leaders say they prize the economic dividend peace can bring, especially the potential gains from regional connectivity and integration,” the US diplomat observed. “That’s a common vision that can truly propel the region forward.”

The two leaders spoke by telephone and resolved to benefit from their geographic location to enhance regional connectivity. They also vowed to realise the true potential for socio-economic development that the strategic location provided to the two countries.

Some media reports claim that President Ghani may visit Islamabad after Eid for further talks on efforts to improve bilateral ties.

The United States has long advocated better relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan, arguing that the two neighbours can defeat terrorism if they cooperate.

The US also urges Pakistan to allow a more liberal use of its territory for promoting trade between Afghanistan and India, which will also benefit Islamabad.

Ambassador Khalilzad’s statement reinforces this message and also indicates his appreciation for the help he has received from Islamabad for moving forward the Afghan peace process.

In a recent statement, the US envoy acknowledged that Pakistan had released a key Taliban leader, Mullah Baradar, at his request to facilitate his talks with the Taliban.

Last week, Mr Khalilzad also appreciated Prime Minister Khan’s stance on Afghanistan, saying that it has the potential to positively transform the region and give Pakistan a leading role.

In a statement released by his office last Thursday, the prime minister underlined Pakistan’s unconditional support to the Afghan peace process and urged the Taliban to call off their spring offensive.

Mr Khalilzad also attached to his tweet a link to Mr Khan’s statement, which points out that the Afghan conflict has brought great suffering for both Afghanistan and Pakistan over the last 40 years.

The US envoy, who leads the US team in peace negotiations with the Taliban, expressed similar views in a recent statement, noting that civilian casualties in Afghanistan indicated that this war “has gone on too long”.

Recently, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported 1,773 civilian casualties in Afghanistan in the first quarter of 2019. The UN also reported 582 child casualties, including 150 deaths and 432 injured.

Ambassador Khalilzad reiterated his appeal for peace in his latest tweet as well. “I wish peace and prosperity to all Afghans this Ramadan. Afghans have suffered war’s catastrophic impact for too long,” he wrote.

“I hope all Afghans take this season to reflect, forgive, and renew faith and commitment to end violence and embrace peace.”

Full report at:





Bush fire destroys four villages in South Sudan, kills 33

7 May 2019

A bush fire fanned by gusty winds has gutted four villages in South Sudan’s Western Bahr el-Ghazal region, killing 33 people, the president’s spokesman said, adding the toll was likely to rise.

The spokesman said in a statement late on Monday that 60 other people were in a critical condition after the fire on Sunday.

“The injured are receiving medication which is not sufficient given the remote state of the area in which the incident has taken place,” Ateny Wek Ateny said in a statement at the statehouse on Monday evening.

On Tuesday, Mathok Wal, Lol State’s information minister, said the fire had also destroyed 138 houses in the villages in Korok East County and killed 10,000 cattle.



Thousands of Algerians hold first rally of Ramadan

7 May 2019

Thousands of Algerian students joined the first rally of Ramadan on Tuesday, pressing on with weeks of protests against the ruling elite after president Abdelaziz Bouteflika quit.

Wearing national flags over their shoulders, crowds gathered around the post office of central Algiers, which has become the focal point of demonstrations. “We will go on with the marches and the protests during and after Ramadan,” said Kheredine, a second-year chemistry student.

“It’s true that it’s hot and that we fast, but we want to let the regime know that the mobilization continues,” he added. “If you think we’re tired, you’re wrong!” read a placard held by Sedik Ait, one of Kheredine's teachers.

Student rallies were also held in cities across the country, Algerian media reported, as protesters push for a sweeping overhaul of the political system.

They stand opposed to July 4 elections called by interim president Abdelkader Bensalah, who was appointed after Bouteflika stepped down last month.

The polls are strongly backed by Algeria’s army chief General Ahmed Gaid Salah, once an ardent supporter of Bouteflika who ultimately called for the president's impeachment.

Tuesday’s protest comes days after the arrest of the former president's brother, Said Bouteflika, a hugely influential figure who was frequently cited as a likely successor to his elder sibling.

Two former intelligence chiefs, General Mohamed Mediene, known as Toufik, and General Athmane Tartag were also detained and are facing charges including “conspiring” against the state.

Full report at:



LNA shoots down military plane in Tripoli, holding Portuguese pilot

7 May 2019

The Libyan National Army (LNA) said they had shot down a military plane in southern Tripoli and are holding a foreign Portuguese pilot.

The LNA forces of military commander Khalifa Haftar said they had shot down a military plane in the southern district of al-Hira on Saturday.

Earlier reports said the pilot was Italian, but in a video seen by Al Arabiya English, the pilot, appearing with a head injury, identified himself by name and said he is from Portugal.

Another video showed the pilot confessing to having been hired on a civilian contract to “destroy roads and bridges” in Libya.

Earlier, a fake Facebook account falsely attributed a spokesperson from the LNA saying the jet was a European surveillance plane used by the EU’s Operation Sophia in monitoring illegal migrant smuggling routes in the Mediterranean. The LNA issued a statement denying that false reports that the pilot was working for the EU and that he was being returned to his country.

Full report at:



Italy PM Conte warns against military action in Libya

7 May 2019

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte warned Tuesday against possible military action in Libya, as the head of Tripoli’s UN-recognized government, Fayez al-Sarraj, kicked off a European tour to drum up support against a possible attack by Khalifa Haftar.

The contents of a meeting between Conte and Sarraj – which Italian media said lasted about 90 minutes – were not made public. But Conte said on the sidelines of a separate event that “there is no military solution that could guarantee the stabilization of the country”.

“The military solution would, in any case, come at the cost of human lives and humanitarian crises,” Conte said. Sarraj is seeking support against an attack on Tripoli by Haftar, who has urged his troops to “wipe out” government forces.

After his meeting with Conte, Sarraj was set to travel to Berlin to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel later on Tuesday and then to Paris to meet French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday.

The visit to France, in particular, comes after the GNA repeatedly accused Paris of politically backing the assault, which Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) launched on Tripoli on April 4.

Italy, Libya’s former colonial power, is a key backer of the GNA and has echoed calls by Merkel for a “unified” European position and a political solution to resolve the crisis.

In a slip of the tongue, Conte said he had spoken “with president Haftar,” but immediately corrected himself to say: “I’ve spoken with president Sarraj. I am confident I will be able to meet General Haftar soon. We are seeking to establish how and when.”

Full report at:



UN panel links airstrikes on Libya’s government to UAE

May 7, 2019

United Nations inspectors are reportedly probing missile attacks on Libya’s capital of Tripoli with the apparent use of drones used by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In a confidential report to the Security Council, a UN panel of experts said that it had inspected photographs of missile debris and identified the weapon as a Blue Arrow air-to-surface missile that had never been used in Libya in the past, AFP reported Tuesday, citing a leaked copy of the classified report.

The attack on the southern suburbs of Tripoli was carried out on April 19-20 by the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA) forces loyal to renegade strongman General Khalifa Haftar — who is backed by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Washington — in efforts to capture the capital city from the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in the divided North African nation.

In a phone call to the Libyan general last month, US President Donald Trump “recognized Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources,” according to the White House. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt have also been praising Haftar’s field victories against other militia forces in the country.

Meanwhile, the Blue Arrow air-to-surface missile used in the attack by LNA forces is possessed by only three countries: China — which is its manufacturer — Kazakhstan, and the UAE, and is paired with the Chinese-built Wing Loong drone, press reports said. “Probable use of Wing Loong UAV variants by the LNA, or by a third party in support of the LNA” is under investigation by the UN panel, said the report submitted Thursday to the Security Council.

The panel said, however, that it was “almost certain” that the missiles were not directly supplied to Libya by the manufacturer or by the Chinese government. It has also contacted Chinese authorities for information that could help identify the suppliers of the weapon.

The UN inspectors also pointed out that the use of the drones was “likely a recent non-compliance of the arms embargo as the weapon system reported on has not been identified in Libya before.”

Moreover, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres renewed on Monday his call for a ceasefire and for an end “to foreign interference to allow Libyans to be able to once again come together” and find a political solution.

Since April 4, fighting between the LNA and GNA forces has killed at least 432 people, wounded 2,069, and displaced more than 50,000, according to the UN.

In a message late Sunday, Haftar called on his forces to “uproot” GNA troops from “our beloved country.” The attack, however, appears to have mired after GNA forces in the capital put up strong resistance.

Full report at:



Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. target al-Shabaab terrorists

May 8, 2019

To support the Federal Government of Somalia's continued efforts to degrade al-Shabaab, U.S. forces conducted a precision airstrike targeting al-Shabaab militants in the vicinity of Tortoroow, Somalia, on May 5, 2019.

Somali forces were leading an operation to disrupt the terrorist network in the area and to bolster local support for the Federal Government of Somalia. The airstrike was conducted in collective self-defense of our Somali partners after they were engaged by al-Shabaab militants during this operation.

“This airstrike is an example of the niche capabilities we provide our Somali partners as they take the fight to al-Shabaab,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Gregg Olson, U.S. Africa Command director of operations. “Our precision strike capabilities support our Somali partners as they continue to lead operations against the terrorist network.”

At this time, it is assessed this airstrike killed three al-Shabaab terrorists.

Currently, we assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike. When warranted, processes and procedures exist that allow for additional information to inform post-strike analysis.  

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Jokowi Says His Administration Is Serious About Moving the Capital From Jakarta

MAY 07, 2019

Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has quashed any doubts on the possibility of the Indonesian capital being moved from Jakarta by saying that the government has the determination and seriousness to execute the plan.

The plan to move the capital is not new, as it was initially put forward in 1957 by the country's first president, Sukarno, who wanted Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan as Indonesia's seat of government. Jakarta, the country's financial center, has been struggling with various problems, including traffic gridlock, poor urban planning and overcrowding.

"We are serious about this, because we have been discussing it internally for the past three years. A year-and-a-half ago, we asked Bappenas [National Development Planning Agency] to conduct more detailed studies from an economic, sociopolitical and environmental perspective," Jokowi said during iftar (Muslim fast-breaking dinner), attended by ministers and heads of state institutions at the State Palace in Central Jakarta on Monday.

The president wasted no time in proving his resolve to relocate the capital. On Tuesday morning, he departed for Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, to visit several potential locations.

He was accompanied by Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung, Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono, National Development Planning Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro and Agrarian and Spatial Planning Minister Sofyan Djalil.

The president is scheduled to spend the night in Palangkaraya before visiting more locations on Wednesday.

During Monday's iftar dinner at the State Palace, Jokowi some took time to explain to the guests what the government has done so far to carry out the plan.

Among the guests were Vice President Jusuf Kalla, People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) chairman Zulkifli Hasan, House of Representatives (DPR) Speaker Bambang Soesatyo, Regional Representatives Council (DPD) Speaker Oesman Sapta Odang, Constitutional Court Chief Justice Anwar Usman and Jaja Ahmad Jayus, chairman of the Judicial Commission.

Muhammad Syarifuddin, the Supreme Court deputy chief justice for judicial affairs, House Deputy Speaker Fahri Hamzah, Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) deputy chairman Bahrullah Akbar and several key ministers were also present.

"We have prepared three regions where land is available to use, as alternatives. There is a region of 80,000 hectares, one with 120,000 hectares and another with 300,000 hectares that have been provided to us, even though we have not decided which we want to use," Jokowi said.

The Jakarta Special Capital Region has a total area of approximately 66,000 hectares – considerably smaller than the three proposed regions.

"What is available, is more than enough if it is only used as the center of government. So we only have to decide," Jokowi said.

Indonesia's population distribution is heavily concentrated in overpopulated Java, with about 57 percent of the country's people living on the island. In comparison, only 21 percent of the population lives on Sumatra Island, which is more than three times the size of Java.

"We will decide on the relocation of the capital city soon, but we will consult with you on these major steps, especially with the relevant institutions," Jokowi told his guests.

Jokowi assured them that, following discussions with Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati and the public works minister, the government was able to provide the necessary budget to build a new capital city.

"Yesterday, the finance minister told me that there was no problem regarding the numbers," he said.

The government will come up with a scheme to finance the relocation as Jokowi insists that the plan to relocate the capital should not place a burden on the state budget.



Grab teams up with brand partners to help Malaysians for Ramadan and Hari Raya

07 May 2019

By Mark Ryan Raj

PETALING JAYA, May 7 — Grab Malaysia has teamed up with their brand partners to provide Muslims with a fuss-free festive season this year.

This comes via a new all-in-one festive pack for Muslims this year through the #PekSenangRaya from today to June 17, 2019.

Their aim is to be a convenient, one-stop destination for Muslims to handle all their Ramadan and Hari Raya duties, like ordering food for your family to “buka puasa” when you are busy at work or even do your Raya shopping.

They have teamed up with brands like The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, McDonald’s, Domino’s Pizza, The Alley, Baskin Robbins, Lazada and Fashion Valet with an aim to provide Muslims with a variety of online and offline discounts, rebates and rewards.

“Malaysians mark both Ramadan and Hari Raya with great enthusiasm, regardless of their religious or ethnic background,” said Grab Malaysia country marketing head Iris Chang, in a press release.

Muslim customers of Grab will be able to enjoy offers of up to RM600 in value if they purchase the #PekSenangRaya priced at RM2 on the Grab platform.

Some of these offers are such as 20 per cent off when customers dine-in or order via GrabFood at Domino’s Pizza and Baskin Robbins, 20 per cent off McDonald’s when they order via GrabFood and 20 per cent off when they shop at Fashion Valet and Poplook, as well as many others.

“We are honoured to be working with our partners to offer our customers a holistic convenience and ease that saves them time and money — through offers, discounts, rebates and rewards,” added Chang.

Additionally, Grab will also be introducing new Ramadan-themed widgets in their app.

Full report at:



East Jakarta pedestrian bridge used for 'tarawih' to be demolished

May 7, 2019

Several young Muslims performed their last tarawih (evening prayers during Ramadan) on the Jl. Basuki Rahmat pedestrian bridge in Jatinegara, East Jakarta, on Monday, as the structure will soon be demolished to make way for the Bekasi-Cawang-Kampung Melayu (Becakayu) toll road project.

Every Ramadan, the pedestrian bridge has been used by youths in the area as a place to pray because the nearby Mushola Miftahul Jannah prayer room only allows older residents.

“This is our last year. There are five neighborhood units [RT], from RT 8 to RT 12, that will be evicted for the Becakayu toll road. This is our last chance seeing young Muslims praying on the bridge," Arafat, the mushola’s caretaker, said as quoted by

He went on to explain that the area would be cleared for the construction of an elevated ramp road that will connect Cawang, East Jakarta, to the toll road.

The toll road developer, Arafat added, had measured the mushola several months ago as it would build a new prayer room of the same size elsewhere.

"The building is valued at Rp 900 million [US$63,000]. The total area is 88 square meters," he added.

Another caretaker, Ponco, said he was sad to see the mushola, which was built in the 1980s, torn down soon.

The mushola has served as a place where young Muslims of the area learned about Islam.

Full report at:



Police Name Islamist Leader Bachtiar Nasir a Suspect in Money Laundering Case

MAY 07, 2019

Jakarta. Bachtiar Nasir, the former chairman of the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwa, or GNPF-MUI, which was instrumental in staging the country's biggest Islamist rallies in recent years, has been named a suspect in a two-year-old money laundering case.

National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo confirmed that the Saudi-educated cleric would be summoned for further questioning on Wednesday.

"Yes, [he was called as a suspect] and it is an old case," Dedi said on Tuesday.

In February 2017, the National Police's Criminal Investigation Unit (Bareskrim) questioned Nasir as a witness in a money laundering case involving the transfer of funds from the Justice for All Foundation (YKUS).

The foundation was one of many that collected donations to stage the mass rallies prior to the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election to protest then-incumbent Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama over a remark he made deemed blasphemous of Islam.

However, police believe some of the money from the YKUS found its way to an organization linked to the Islamic State jihadist group. Under Indonesia's 2018 law on money laundering, any person guilty of financing terrorist activity may be jailed for a maximum of 20 years and liable for a fine of up to Rp 10 billion ($700,000).

Investigators have so far named Islahudin Akbar, the foundation's financial officer, a suspect in the case.

National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said on Feb. 22, 2017 that Islahudin withdrew more than Rp 1 billion from the foundation's bank account and handed it over to Nasir, who then allegedly transferred funds from the GNPF-MUI's account to a Turkey-based aid agency with links to Islamic State.

Nasir, who is also a key supporter of presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto, has denied all allegations.

He admitted at the time that he had handled Rp 3 billion in the YKUS's bank account, but that a portion of the money collected by the foundation was used to fund the gatherings, known as the "212" and "411" rallies. The remainder, according to Nasir, was used to help earthquake victims in Pidie Jaya, Aceh, and flood victims in Bima and Sumbawa in West Nusa Tenggara.

Full report at:



Gov't Threatens Legal Action Against Attempts to Delegitimize Election Result

MAY 06, 2019

Jakarta. The Indonesian government is threatening legal actions to stop anyone attempting to delegitimize the results of the official election count by the General Elections Commission, or KPU, the Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security Wiranto said on Monday.

"We won’t hesitate to take strong actions against those who violate the law to delegitimize government institutions," Wiranto said after a meeting with top government officials to evaluate the results of last month's elections.

Since then, presidential nominee Prabowo Subianto has refused to concede defeat despite quick count results showing a decisive win for his rival, incumbent president Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

Instead, the former general's campaign team has been throwing doubts on the legitimacy of the KPU's official count.

They claimed that KPU's election data were corrupted to favor Jokowi and his running mate Ma’ruf Amin.

Prabowo has claimed at least four times that he is the real winner of the presidential race according to a vote count by his own team. Prabowo said he won 62 percent of the votes, but has never provided real data to support his claim.

Prabowo has also suggested that there has been umpteen instances of voter fraud during the elections and called on his supporters not to trust the KPU.

Prabowo, accompanied by his running mate Sandiaga Uno, invited foreign journalists to his residence in South Jakarta on Monday afternoon to repeat his claim that voter fraud may have lost him the election, at least according to the quick count results.

Prabowo's IT team has also filed a report with the Election Monitoring Agency (Bawaslu) last week, charging that the quick count results were unreliable since they contradicted election data compiled by their own team.

Rizieq Shihab, the leader of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), who has been living in exile in Saudi Arabia since 2017, said in a video broadcast last week that the KPU should disqualify Jokowi and Ma'ruf from the presidential race because they have committed a "systematic, structured and massive voter fraud."

For this reason, Rizieq demanded that the KPU declare Prabowo and Sandiaga as winners of the election irrespective of the number of votes that they won.

Rizieq had escaped Indonesia to avoid facing various criminal charges, including a porno tape scandal.

FPI is one of a number of hardline Islamic organizations that threw their support behind Prabowo and Sandiaga in the election.

"There is someone, now living abroad, who speaks every day to the media to provoke people to take unconstitutional actions," Wiranto told Suara Pembaruan, obviously referring to Rizieq.

Wiranto said he has asked the National Police to take firm a action against provocators like Rizieq, and also against newspapers and magazines that publish his incendiary statements.

"Any media that helps people violate the law, we can shut down. The law exists to allow us to take such actions for the sake of national security," Wiranto said.

The chief security minister also said that the government will not hesitate to take legal action against anyone trying to delegitimize the KPU on social media.

"To those people who keep trying to break up this country and delegitimize government institutions by spreading hatred and slander, please stop," Wiranto said in a written statement.

"I urge people to ignore any agitation to rise against a legitimate government. That would be a violation of the law and totally unconstitutional," he said..

Full report at:



North America


Jewish Americans Most Favourable Towards Muslims: Report

May 4, 2019

Jewish Americans most favorable towards Muslims, according to survey by Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

WASHINGTON : Islamophobia in the United States is not rooted in a clash of religious beliefs but is driven by politics, according to a survey focusing on Muslim Americans.

The survey, conducted by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), noted that anti-Muslim sentiment is influenced by a host of factors, including personal and national politics and how much a person knows about Islam, but is not due to their religious affiliation.

It found that Americans who personally know a Muslim are more than twice as likely to have a positive opinion of Muslims compared to those who do not.

However, the ISPU’s Islamophobia Index rose from 24 in 2018 to 28 in 2019, indicating that Muslims remain the most likely group to face discrimination for their religion.

The index is a measure of the level of public endorsement of five negative stereotypes associated with Muslims in America – that most Muslims living in the U.S. are more prone to violence than others, that they discriminate against women, that they are hostile to the U.S., that they are less civilized than other people, and that they are partially responsible for acts of violence carried out by other Muslims.

According to the ISPU’s data, the Jewish community scored the lowest on the index at 18 while white evangelicals scored the highest at 35.

The survey also found that Americans who hold favorable views of blacks, Jews and the LGBTQ community tended to score 10 points lower on the index.

Some 33% of the Muslims surveyed were more optimistic about the direction of the country, despite being dissatisfied with U.S. President Donald Trump’s performance in office.

This may have been due in part to the survey being conducted after the first two Muslim women lawmakers, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, were elected to Congress, according to ISPU Executive Director Dalia Mogahed.

“It was against this backdrop that ISPU conducted its fourth annual 2019 poll of American faith and non-faith groups,” Mogahed said in the report, referring to Omar and Tlaib’s election to office.

A total of 2,376 Americans, including 804 Muslims and 360 Jews, were polled during the survey, which was conducted in January and published this week.



Pompeo says unannounced visit to Iraq is due to Iran ‘escalating activity’

7 May 2019

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unannounced visit to Baghdad on Tuesday and met with the Iraqi prime minister and other senior officials after voicing US concern about Iraqi sovereignty due to increasing Iranian activity in the region.

The visit came two days after US national security adviser John Bolton said the United States was deploying the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and its strike group to the region as well as a bomber task force because of a “credible threat by Iranian regime forces.”

Washington has ramped up sanctions pressure on Iran over its nuclear program in recent months and listed the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group.

“I wanted to go to Baghdad to speak with the leadership there, to assure them that we stood ready to continue to ensure that Iraq is a sovereign, independent nation,” Pompeo told reporters en route to Baghdad to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.

Asked if there was a threat to the Baghdad government from Iran that raised US concerns about Iraqi sovereignty, Pompeo said, “No, no, generally this has been our position since the national security strategy came out in the beginning of the Trump administration.”

An Iraqi government source confirmed the meeting with Abdul Mahdi but did not elaborate on the details.

Speaking with reporters ahead of his meeting with the Iraqi leaders, Pompeo also said he would have an opportunity to discuss pending business accords with Iraqi officials, including “big energy deals that can disconnect them from Iranian energy.”

“I will obviously talk about the security situation there, and the forces that we have in Iraq as well, ensure that we continue to support the Iraqi security forces, the ISF, and can train them, professionalize them, so that the new leadership there in Iraq can have security control inside of the country,” Pompeo said.

Full report at:



Iran says US sending carrier, bombers to Mideast is ‘psychological warfare’

7 May 2019

Iran’s security body said a US announcement of sending a carrier strike group and bombers to the Middle East to send a message to Tehran amounted to “psychological warfare”, the semi-official Tasnim news agency said on Tuesday.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Sunday the United States was deploying the Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East to send a message to Iran.

“Bolton’s statement is a clumsy use of a burnt-out happening for psychological warfare,” said Keyvan Khosravi, spokesman for the Supreme National Security Council, according to Tasnim, adding that the carrier had arrived in the Mediterranean weeks ago.

US acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Monday he had approved dispatching the carrier strike group and bombers due to indications of a “credible threat by Iranian regime forces”. Shanahan provided no details of the underlying intelligence.

Iran’s state-run Press TV earlier said: “The deployment seems to be a ‘regularly scheduled’ one by the US Navy, and Bolton has just tried to talk it up.”

Iran said last month it was prepared for a US decision to end waivers granted to buyers of Iranian oil, as the elite Revolutionary Guards repeated their threat to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf if Tehran was barred from using it. Around 30 percent of the world’s seaborne oil exports get shipped through the strait.

While neither Shanahan nor Bolton elaborated on the gist of US intelligence, other US officials told Reuters there were “multiple, credible threats” against US forces on land, including in Iraq, by Iran and proxy forces and at sea.

Last week, President Donald Trump’s administration said it would end waivers for countries buying Iranian oil in an attempt to reduce Iran’s crude exports to zero following Washington’s withdrawal from world powers’ 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.

The administration also blacklisted Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps.

US-Iranian tensions escalated further after Washington acted on Friday to force Tehran to stop producing low-enriched uranium and expanding its only nuclear power plant. Washington’s step intensified a campaign aimed at halting Tehran’s ballistic missile program and curbing its regional power.

Full report at:



EU, Russia should counter US peace plan: Palestine

Umar Farooq 



The European Union (EU) and Russia should take action to save a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if the U.S. peace plan does not lead to two independent nations, Palestine’s ambassador to the UN said Tuesday.

Riyad Mansour said he told EU officials that support for a two-state solution is appreciated, but it is “not sufficient -- they have to act on it".

Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, said Washington's Middle East peace plan, billed 'the Deal of the Century', would be revealed after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

While Kushner provided no details as to what the plan entails, he said "there will be tough compromises for both sides" and that past efforts have not worked, referencing the two-state solution, a long-held framework for a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Foreign ministers of the Arab League have rejected the U.S. plan, saying that without giving the legal rights of the Palestinians, these kinds of plans will never bring comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East.

Mansour said if the U.S. plan does not end with two independent nations -- Palestine and Israel -- then the EU should take action against it to save the two-state framework.

The European Union could call for an international conference on the basis of the global consensus supporting a two-state solution “to see how we can open ways to move forward", Mansour told reporters at the UN.

He also said that European countries – particularly France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Belgium and Luxembourg -- could offer their support by recognizing the state of Palestine.

In the runup to Washington’s peace plan, U.S. President Donald Trump has moved to isolate Palestinians.

Last year, the U.S. cut all its funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which provides critical aid to Palestinian refugees. It also unilaterally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and closed the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Washington office, which served as the de-facto Palestinian embassy in the U.S.

Full report at:



CIA warns Arab activist of potential Saudi threat

Muhammad Mussa 



The CIA warned an Arab activist in Norway that he faces a potential threat from Saudi Arabia, it was reported Tuesday.

“Something crazy - concerning my personal safety - happened two weeks ago which I haven't been at liberty to speak about, but is breaking today. The last two weeks have been very stressful, but I hope I've managed well given the pressure” Iyad el-Baghdadi wrote on Twitter.

U.S. intelligence contacted Norwegian authorities April 25 regarding the potential threat to el-Baghdadi‘s life from Saudi Arabia. He was taken by authorities to a secure location where he was warned of threat.

“The way I understood it was, the Saudis have a crosshairs on me, but there is no idea of what they are going to do,” el-Baghdadi told the Guardian newspaper.

“They assured me that they are taking it very seriously. They came prepared,” he said, explaining that a police squad transferred him to the safe location and another briefed him on the situation.

El-Bahdadi is a Palestinian-born writer and a pro-democracy activist who has been a vocal critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He was granted political asylum in Norway in 2015 after being arrested and expelled from the United Arab Emirates.

The pro-democracy campaigner is active on Twitter and has gained a large following because of his satirical and abrupt analysis on Middle Eastern governments, including the Saudi royal family and political issues in the region.

Following the murder last fall of Jamal Kashoggi, a Saudi journalist working for the Washington Post, el-Baghdadi warned that bin Salman would become more dangerous if he was not held to account by the West.

“If they get away with kidnapping the next step will be assassinations in your capitals, and I’m not joking even a little bit,” he said on Twitter.

The outspoken activist further warned that bin Salman is still seeking to silence critics of the Saudi government outside the kingdom and the rising number of educated Saudis who are politically active and living outside the kingdom “is shaping up to be a long-term problem for MBS,” using the prince’s initials.

News of a threat comes months after Kashoggi’s torture and murder inside the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul last October. The high profile murder caused international outrage and saw widespread condemnation of bin Salman.

Following the murder, the CIA fingered bin Salman as being behind the order to kill the Washington Post journalist who was also a U.S. resident.

Full report at:





Britain’s foreign secretary under scrutiny for ‘lack of humanity’ towards Palestinians

May 7, 2019

Britain’s foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has received fierce criticism for his statement on Gaza that some say has revealed the UK’s position on Israel-Palestinian matters.

His tweet on Sunday, expressing deep shock “by events in Israel” and blasting Hamas for its “indiscriminate and abhorrent rocket attacks”, attracted over 1,000 comments calling out the foreign secretary for his apparent blind spot on Israel’s role in the escalation of tension.

Jeremy Hunt


Deeply shocked by events in Israel and Gaza over the last 48 hours & thoughts with the families of innocent civilians killed and affected by Hamas’ indiscriminate and abhorrent rocket attacks. UK fully supports vital role UN and Egypt have in securing a ceasefire.


10:32 PM - May 5, 2019

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Amnesty International’s UN representative Sherine Tadros criticised Mr Hunt for displaying a “lack of humanity” for Palestinians.

Fighting between militants in Gaza and the Israeli military saw four civilians in Israel and 25 Palestinians killed, more than half of them civilians. A ceasefire to bring an end to the bloodiest fighting in the Gaza Strip since 2014 was reached on Monday, as fighting petered out and Palestinian groups said Egypt had mediated the truce.

On Friday, four Palestinians were shot dead and 51 injured after soldiers fired at protestors in Gaza.

Sherine Tadros


Is there a second part to this tweet that I missed? Maybe where @Jeremy_Hunt expresses the same concern for innocent Palestinian victims of Israeli fire? Do they not also have families that deserve thoughts and prayers? It’s truly unbelievable the lack of humanity.

Jeremy Hunt


Deeply shocked by events in Israel and Gaza over the last 48 hours & thoughts with the families of innocent civilians killed and affected by Hamas’ indiscriminate and abhorrent rocket attacks. UK fully supports vital role UN and Egypt have in securing a ceasefire.


8:02 PM - May 6, 2019

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“What Jeremy Hunt is doing is blaming the victim. In this latest assault Hamas rockets came after Israel killed a mother and a 14-month baby,” Neve Gordon, professor of international law at Queen Mary University of London, told the National.

He said that the sheer number of Palestinian civilians wounded shows that “there is no comparison” between Palestine and Israel on the effects of war.

“People locked up in the world’s largest open prison (Gaza and the West Bank) have a right in international law to use armed struggle to liberate themselves.”

Mr Gordon says that Hunt’s purposeful highlighting of Hamas, rather than Israel’s military, is “consistent with many, many years of the UK’s foreign policy, under both Labour and Tory governments”.

Mr Hunt used the Jewish Chronicle newspaper to announce a landmark change to British policy on Israel in March.

In his column, Mr Hunt said the UK would oppose all motions criticising human rights abuses in Gaza and the West Bank brought forward at the UN’s human rights council under a special protocol.

“I believe that this disproportionate and discriminatory focus on Israel undermines the credibility of the world’s leading human rights forum and obstructs the quest for peace in the Middle East. That is why the UK will be opposing every Item 7 resolution at the HRC,” he said on March 21.

Mr Hunt chose to make the announcement himself as opposed to allowing Alistair Burt, then Foreign Office minister for the Middle East, to publicly declare Britain’s stance.

Britain’s long serving Middle East minister resigned on 26 March over Brexit concerns.

Having served two spells as Middle East minster, Mr Burt gained a reputation for being well briefed and well-respected across party divides.

“Minister Burt was a brilliant champion of peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians and will be missed by all those who work to promote a political resolution to the conflict,” said Hannah Weisfeld, director of British-Jewish group Yachad.

The former minister had told Yachad that the British government viewed Israel’s demolition of homes in the West Bank as “unacceptable”.

Kamel Hawwesh, a British-Palestinian professor based at the University of Birmingham and founding member of the British Palestinian Policy Council, says Britain is quietly changing its policy on Israel and Palestine and has aligned itself closer to US foreign policy under President Donald Trump in recent months, as seen through the language it uses to denounce attacks.

“Both Britain and the US are not only shielding Israel from accountability for its crimes; they are damaging the standing of international law and international humanitarian law. They are also emboldening Israel to continue to feel that it can operate above the law,” he said.

Senior Palestinian negotiator tweeted in March that Mr Hunt’s announcement was “a gift for Israeli settlers and the Israeli government. The British government has consistently opposed any concrete step against the occupation.”



Europe ready to reimpose sanctions if Iran breaches nuclear deal: official

7 May 2019

Europe would have to reimpose sanctions on Iran if Tehran reneged on parts of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, a French presidency source said on Tuesday.

Iran’s state-run IRIB news agency reported on Monday that Tehran would restart part of its halted nuclear program in response to the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, but added Tehran does not plan to pull out of the agreement. Iran’s president is due to speak on Wednesday.

“We do not want Tehran to announce tomorrow actions that would violate the nuclear agreement, because in this case we Europeans would be obliged to reimpose sanctions as per the terms of the agreement,” the source said. “We don’t want that and we hope that the Iranians will not make this decision.”

Full report at:



Britain regrets policy on Libya has failed since 2011 invasion

May 7, 2019

Britain’s Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt has expressed regrets that his country’s policy on Libya has failed since London and allies in the NATO military alliance launched an invasion in 2011 to oust long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

“We have not covered ourselves in glory with our policy on Libya. Let us face it,” Hunt said in a Tuesday interview with the Guardian newspaper.

The top British diplomat said if London knew that Libya would become a hotbed of militancy in North Africa, it would have second thoughts on the 2011 invasion.

“... if we knew in 2011 we would be in the situation we are now we would be asking ourselves some searching questions,” he said.

The comments came as Britain and other international powers are in disagreement over how to help Libya regain peace after some eight years of civil war.

The main row is over Khalifa Haftar, a Gaddafi-era military general who has defied the international community by launching an all-out offensive against a United Nations-backed government in the capital Tripoli.

Haftar and his large army of militant groups have enjoyed funds and support from oil-rich countries in the Persian Gulf region. However, countries to the west of Libya and certain countries outside the region are against his rise to power, saying it would destabilize the region.

Hunt said Britain should take a lesson from its failure in the 2011 invasion of Libya and allow Haftar to have a role in the future Libyan government.

“We do not agree with what Haftar is doing. We do not think it is possible for Haftar to achieve a military victory, and as a government he will not be seen as legitimate by whole swathes of the country. So we want a political process,” he said without elaborating how Haftar could help Libya’s future.

Full report at:



France wants to keep Iran nuclear deal alive, warns Tehran over negative actions

May 08, 2019

France's defence minister said on Wednesday it wanted to keep the Iran 2015 nuclear deal alive and warned that if Iran were to not keep to its commitments then the question of triggering a mechanism that could lead to sanctions would be on the table.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani earlier threatened to resume high level enrichment of uranium if world powers did not keep their promises under the agreement.

Speaking to BFM TV, Florence Parly said nothing would be worse than Iran withdrawing from the deal and that France, Britain and Germany were doing all they could to keep the accord alive.

Meanwhile, China's foreign ministry said the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement should be fully implemented and all sides have a responsibility to ensure it happens. Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang made the remarks during a daily briefing.

Other European countries said on Tuesday that they will reimpose sanctions on Iran if it reneges on commitments under its nuclear deal, a source at the French presidency said on Tuesday, after Tehran said it would scale back its compliance a year after Washington pulled out.

Iran dismissed a US announcement of the deployment of an aircraft carrier to the Middle East as old news, recycled for psychological warfare, and said it would soon announce plans to roll back some of its commitments under the 2015 deal.

Tensions have risen on the eve of the anniversary of President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal, under which Iran agreed to curbs on its nuclear program in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

The Trump administration has restored US sanctions and extended them, effectively ordering countries around the world to stop buying Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.

Iran has continued complying with the deal. Washington’s European allies, which oppose the US pull-out, have tried and failed to come up with ways to blunt the economic impact of the US move while urging Iran to continue to comply.

Iranian media reported that Tehran will write to the countries still signed up to the deal — US allies Britain, France and Germany as well as Russia and China — on Wednesday to give them details about plans to “diminish its commitments” under the deal.

Iranian state news reports have said Iran does not plan to pull out of the deal, but will revive some nuclear activity that was halted under it.

The French presidential source said the European countries did not yet know precisely what steps Iran was now planning, but they would have to reimpose sanctions on Iran if those steps amount to reneging on the deal.

“We do not want Tehran to announce tomorrow actions that would violate the nuclear agreement, because in this case we Europeans would be obliged to reimpose sanctions as per the terms of the agreement,” the source said.

“We sent messages to Tehran to say that we were determined to implement the agreement, that we really wanted them to stay in this agreement even though we took into account the complexity of the situation and passed on the same messages to our American allies,” the French source said.

US officials have spoken in recent days of intelligence suggesting a military threat from Iran, although they have not given specific details.


US national security adviser John Bolton said on Sunday the United States was deploying the Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East in a warning over threats by Iranian forces.

But Keyvan Khosravi, spokesman for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said the Abraham Lincoln was already due in the Gulf and dismissed the announcement as a “clumsy” attempt to recycle old news for “psychological warfare.”

The United States typically rotates an aircraft carrier in the Gulf to serve as the flagship of its Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain. The previous carrier in the area, the John C Stennis, left in April to sail for home at the end of its deployment.

Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Monday he had approved dispatching the carrier strike group and bombers due to indications of a “credible threat by Iranian regime forces.” He gave no details of underlying intelligence.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter: “If US and clients don’t feel safe, it’s because they’re despised by the people of the region — blaming Iran won’t reverse that.”

Iran’s state-run Press TV earlier said: “The deployment seems to be a ‘regularly scheduled’ one by the US Navy, and Bolton has just tried to talk it up.”

A military adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the United States was “neither willing nor capable” of military action against Iran,” the semi-official news agency ISNA reported.

As jitters over the war of words rose, Iran’s rial currency extended its fall on Tuesday, hovering around a seven-month low of 150,500 against the US dollar on the unofficial market, foreign exchange websites reported.

Since withdrawing from the nuclear deal, Washington has given waivers to some countries, mainly in Asia, to keep buying Iranian oil for a limited time. But last week it said it would now end the waivers to reduce Iran’s crude exports to zero.

The administration also blacklisted Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps as terrorists. The Guards control a large swathe of Iranian industry, so their blacklisting could make it harder for foreign companies to do business with Iran.

Iran has responded by declaring all US forces in the Middle East to be terrorists. It has also made threats to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf if Tehran were barred from using it. Around 30 percent of the world’s seaborne oil exports pass through the strait.

Full report at:



UK condemns surge in violence in Syria's Idlib

Ahmet Gürhan Kartal 



Britain on Tuesday condemned the recent escalation of violence in Syria’s Idlib province following increased military action by Russia and the Syrian regime.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was deeply concerned by the latest developments in the region.

“This has included horrifying reports of attacks on schools, hospitals and first responders as well as the use of barrel bombs for the first time in seven months,” Hunt said, noting that more than 57 civilians have been killed and over 150,000 forced from their homes in recent days.

He said the latest offensive, “a flagrant violation of the ceasefire agreement that Russia itself agreed with Turkey, is only compounding what was already a dire humanitarian situation in Idlib”.

Hunt urged Russia and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime to respect their obligations under the Sochi agreement and international humanitarian law.

“They must also remember that any future use of chemical weapons in Syria would be met with a swift and appropriate response,” he added.

Full report at:



Germany urges Libyan cease-fire during Ramadan

Ayhan Şimşek 



Germany announced Tuesday support for UN-led efforts to reach a humanitarian cease-fire in Libya during the holy month of Ramadan.

The announcement came after Chancellor Angela Merkel met Fayez al-Sarraj, the leader of Libya’s UN-recognized government in Berlin.

"The Chancellor has called for a return to a political process under the aegis of the United Nations," Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement. "She has welcomed the proposal of UN special envoy for a ceasefire in Libya during the Ramadan." Al-Sarraj, who is leading the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), visited Berlin as part of diplomatic tour of European capitals seeking support.

In early April, forces loyal to renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar, launched a wide-ranging campaign to capture Tripoli from the GNA.

Although Haftar has so far failed to wrest the capital from pro-GNA forces, sporadic fighting on the city’s outskirts has left numerous casualties on both sides.

Over the course of the last six weeks, at least 392 people have been killed, while 2,000 others have been injured, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Libya has remained beset by turmoil since long-serving leader Muammar Gaddafi was ousted and killed in a bloody NATO-backed uprising in 2011.

Full report at:



South Asia


Muslim shops in Sri Lanka attacked as tensions remain after Easter Sunday bombings

May 8, 2019

Colombo, Sri Lanka (CNN)Violence erupted in a Sri Lankan town bombed on Easter Sunday after a largely Catholic mob attacked Muslim-owned shops and a vehicle -- prompting church authorities to call for calm and no further hostilities against Muslims in the area.

A minor riot broke out Sunday in Porutota village near Negombo after a dispute between a Muslim tuk tuk driver and a group of Catholics, who wanted to inspect the vehicle, an army intelligence source told CNN. The source requested anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to media about the case.

The argument over the tuk tuk descended into violence and dozens of rioters rampaged through the streets that evening, the source said. The vehicle was set alight and two Muslim-owned shops also attacked, they added.

Sri Lanka Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara told a press conference on Monday that two drunk groups were responsible for the riot.

The ensuing violence led to extra police forces being deployed to the coastal village and a curfew being enforced on Sunday "to control the situation," Gunasekara added.

Argument turns into violence

Sri Lanka's Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, said in a statement that anyone who lost property in Sunday's clashes would be compensated by the government.

Videos of the incident seen by CNN showed a street of the coastal town littered with debris and a number of men brandishing sticks.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, blamed the incident on drunkenness and called for the closure of liquor shops in the area.

"When people are under the influence of alcohol, people sometimes behave worse that animals," he said, according to state media.

"Despite the number of deaths, I commend the people for remaining calm and acting with restraint. I take this opportunity to thank the Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim religious leaders. Some parties are trying to instigate communal hatred to create religious clashes."

Both Muslim and Christian community leaders have expressed concerns of potential further violence in the wake of the Easter Sunday attacks, which left more than 250 people dead and 500 injured.

In Negombo, more than 100 worshipers were killed after a suicide bomber walked into St. Sebastian's Church on Easter Sunday. The National Tawheed Jamath (NTJ) Islamist extremist group, which aligned itself with ISIS, has been blamed for the attacks.

Muslims and Christians make up tiny minorities in Sri Lanka, which is predominantly Buddhist. Both groups have faced pressure in the past from hardline Buddhist groups, and typically worked together to promote better intercommunal harmony.

"I earnestly request the Catholics not to raise a hand against the Muslims," Ranjith said. "The Muslims are not behind this incident. Those behind this attack are misguided persons who are being manipulated by international forces to realize their political aims. According to the teachings of our religion, we should not harm anyone."

Police and army soldiers have been deployed to many churches and mosques around Sri Lanka since Easter Sunday, both over fears of further terrorist violence, and revenge attacks.

Muslim leaders across Sri Lanka told CNN of how they repeatedly attempted to warn the authorities about the potential for extremist violence growing within the community, including from the preachings of the alleged leader of the Easter Sunday attacks, Zahran Hashim.



Sri Lanka’s bombed church partially opens for prayers

7 May 2019

Sri Lanka’s St. Anthony’s church partially opened for worship Tuesday even as security forces were rebuilding a shrine inside following the Easter suicide bombing.

The faithful were allowed into a section of the church to pray before a statue of Saint Anthony, said Father Edmond Tilakaratne, spokesman for the Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith.

“The church was partially opened today under very tight security,” Tilakaratne told AFP.

“Renovations are already under way,” he added.

He said pilgrims will be allowed into the special area of the church for a 12-hour period.

Three policemen and three women frisked pilgrims lined up to enter the shrine while heavily armed navy personnel and police kept watch outside.

The 1740 church shares a boundary wall with the port of Colombo. New steel barricades were established Tuesday to prevent vehicle access to the church building.

St. Anthony’s was among the three churches attacked by extremist suicide bombers in coordinated attacks that also targeted three luxury hotels in Colombo on April 21.

A total of 257 people were killed and nearly 500 wounded. At least 44 foreigners were among the dead.

Nearly 50 of the victims were young children.

The St. Anthony’s is venerated not only by Catholics, but also by followers of other religions in this majority Buddhist nation.

Full report at:



Sri Lanka dismantles big part of bombers’ network, freezes assets

May 07, 2019

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan authorities say they have dismantled a major part of the network linked to the Easter Sunday bombings, confiscating bomb-making material and freezing assets worth about $40 million linked to the plotters.

In an audio statement issued by the defense ministry on Monday, acting police chief Chandana Wickramaratne said almost all suspects and plotters involved in the April 21 attacks had either been arrested or were dead.

“There were also two people among that group of plotters who are experts in bombs and those two are dead now,” Wickramarate said. “They had stored part of the explosives for future attacks and we have confiscated all of this.”

Investigators are still tracking down 10 more key players associated with plotting the bombings, which killed more than 250 people, including 42 foreigners, a military source told Reuters on Tuesday.

“The investigations show there were another 8 to 10 people who attended meetings with the other plotters,” the source said.

Assets worth about $40 million belonging to the bombers and plotters linked to the April 21 attacks have been frozen, police spokesman Ruwan Gunesekera said.

Sri Lankan authorities have said the bombings were believed to have been carried out by two little-known domestic Islamist groups, the National Tawheed Jamaath (NTJ) and Jamathei Millathu Ibrahim (JMI). Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

Investigators from eight countries, including the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and Interpol, are helping Sri Lanka with the investigation.

Full report at:



Sri Lanka still faces threat of ISIS terror attacks: PM Wickremesinghe

May 7, 2019

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday said that authorities have arrested or killed all the militants responsible for the deadly Easter blasts, but warned that the country still faces the threat of ISIS terror attacks.

Speaking in Parliament during a debate on the current security situation in the country, Wickremesinghe said all those directly linked to the Easter Sunday attacks were either killed or are in custody.

Nine suicide bombers carried out a series of devastating blasts that tore through three churches and three luxury hotels on the Easter Sunday. The Islamic State claimed the attacks, but the government blamed local Islamist extremist group National Thawheed Jammath (NTJ) for the bombings that killed more than 250 people.

Wickremesinghe said investigations had revealed the bombers had direct or indirect links with Islamic State and the island nation needed sophisticated technology to deal with the threat posed by such terror networks.

"The danger is not over, we are now a victim of global terrorism," he said.

He said that Sri Lanka must work with the international community to face the global threat from terrorism.

"Some assume working with the international community means bringing down foreign troops. That will not happen," he said.

His comments came as Sri Lankan police and military chiefs assured that the country is now safe and can get back to normalcy.

Addressing a press conference on Monday night, the tri-forces commanders and the police chief said the security of the country following the April 21 bombings has been ensured with adequate measures and steps have been taken to implement a special security plan.

Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP) Chandana Wickremaratne said that all those directly linked to the attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels have been arrested or were killed.

He also said that all the explosives believed to be linked to local Islamist outfit National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ), blamed for the attacks, have been found.

"All explosives possessed by the terrorist group has been seized. Almost everyone identified with the group have been arrested. Two of their bomb experts have died in the clashes. The police can happily announce that everyone with direct links have been either arrested or killed by now," he said.

Wickramaratne did not say how many people have been arrested over the bombings, but police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera has said that 73 people, including nine women, were arrested and being questioned by the CID and the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID).

The spokesman also said the Criminal Investigation Department identified more than Rs 140 million cash and other assets worth over Rs 7 billion belonging to the NTJ.

Wickramaratne, who was named acting police chief last week after President Maithripala Sirisena suspended his predecessor over his failure to act on intelligence warnings about the attacks, said the country can now get back to normalcy with the lifting of curfews imposed after the attacks.

He urged the public not to be misled by unverified reports.

The government reopened schools on Monday, but attendance dropped to below 10 per cent in many places with parents still fearing attacks.

Wickremeratne said a joint security operation with schools authorities are underway. He pointed to unverified security fears spread through social media as the cause for unfounded security concerns.

Army chief Lt Gen Mahesh Senanayake said the military has taken steps to ensure national security under the emergency regulations.

He said that over the past two weeks normalcy was returning to the country and the public must not be misled by false claims.

"All security measures to ensure safety in the country has been taken. The security forces were empowered by the emergency regulations since the attacks," Senanayake said.

The tourism industry leaders have urged the government to make strong measures to enable the industry to revive following the Easter Sunday attacks on three leading hotels.

The suicide bombers attacked breakfast rooms of the Shangri La, The Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury Hotels.

The attacks in which 44 foreigners including 11 Indians were killed prompted adverse travel advisories.

“At the moment most bookings are cancelled, with less than 10 per cent of occupancy we are in trouble," Hoteliers Association president Sanath Ukawatta said.

The government has already decided on a package of concessions to the tourism industry which contributes 5 per cent of the island's GDP.

The Tourism Authority said the total number of tourist arrivals during April was 166,975. This is an year on year decline of 7.5 per cent as the arrivals were 180,429 in April 2018.

Meanwhile, the St. Anthony's church partially opened for worship Tuesday. Devotees will be able to visit the St. Anthony's Shrine in Kotahena from 7 am to 7 pm.

Services will not be held at the Shrine. At present, the Navy is currently carrying out restoration activities at the Church.

Full report at:



Bangladesh arrests suspected IS militant back from Syria

8 May 2019

Bangladesh's counter-terrorism police have arrested a suspected Islamic State member who returned to the country after fighting for the militant group in Syria, police said Wednesday.

Dhaka launched a major crackdown against homegrown extremist outfits following an attack by a local outfit on a cafe in the capital in 2016 that killed 22 people, including 18 foreigners.

Police said Motaj Abdul Majid Kafiluddin Bepari, 33, joined IS in Syria after he travelled to the war-torn country from Saudi Arabia, where he was born to a Bangladeshi parent.

He returned to Bangladesh in February and made contact with a new faction of local IS-inspired Islamist extremist outfit Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), blamed for a series of attacks, including the 2016 cafe attack, counter-terrorism official Wahiduzzaman Noor told AFP.

Officers arrested Bepari near a mosque in Dhaka's Uttara neighbourhood on May 5, and he has been charged under anti-terrorism laws for alleged plans to establish a caliphate in the moderate Muslim-majority country, Noor added.

"He went to Syria in 2018 and fought for the IS."

Bepari's arrest came after counter-terrorism police alerted airport authorities about the possible return of more than 50 Bangladesh-origin IS extremists after the group's defeat in Syria, deputy commissioner of Dhaka police Mohibul Islam Khan told AFP.

This is the latest in a series of IS-related security incidents in Bangladesh.

Last week, Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen said the British-born Shamima Begum, who married an Islamic State militant in Syria and whose parents held Bangladeshi citizenship, would "face the death penalty" for terrorism if she came to the South Asian country.

And in April, Bangladeshi security forces raided a suspected extremist hideout in Dhaka, killing at least two militants.

Full report at:



U.S. Embassy releases details of Khalilzad’s interaction with Indian officials on Afghan peace process

07 May 2019

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi released details of Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad’s interaction with the Indian officials on Afghan peace process.

Ambassador Khalilzad met with senior Indian officials including Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, and India’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Vinay Kumar, during his visit to New Delhi on 6th and 7th of May, the Embassy of the United States in New Delhi said in a statement.

“During his meetings, Ambassador Khalilzad welcomed expressions of support for the Afghan peace process, which strengthens an emerging international consensus for peace efforts. He also recognized the many important contributions India has made to Afghanistan’s development,” the U.S. Embassy said in its statement.

The statement further added “Ambassador Khalilzad and his counterparts discussed the many important benefits that peace would bring, including: preventing International terrorist use of Afghanistan as a platform for attacks; improved prospects for regional peace and security; and increased regional connectivity and trade.”

Full report at:





Hamas says newly-developed tactic behind ‘Iron Dome’ failure

May 7, 2019

The military wing of the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement says it successfully “overcame” Israel’s so-called Iron Dome missile system during its recent confrontation with the Tel Aviv regime thanks to its new rocket-launching tactic.

Abu Obeida, a spokesman for the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said in a social media post on Monday that the fresh rocket-launching tactic had overwhelmed the so-called Iron Dome missile system, leading to the deaths and injuries of numerous Israelis in two days.

“The Qassam Brigades, thanks to God, succeeded in overcoming the so-called Iron Dome by adopting the tactic of firing dozens of missiles in one single burst,” he said.

“The high intensity of fire and the great destructive ability of the missiles that were introduced by the Qassam [Brigades]… succeeded in causing great losses and destruction to the enemy,” Obeida noted.

Israeli aerial assaults on Gaza prompted the most intense fighting between the regime and the Palestinian resistance fighters since Tel Aviv’s bloody war on the blockaded enclave in 2014.

In retaliation, the Palestinian fighters fired around 700 rockets from Gaza into the occupied territories, killing four Israeli settlers and injuring at least 80 others over the weekend.

In the course of Israel’s seven-week war in 2014, five Israelis died and 67 others were wounded.

Israeli media reported that the "Iron Dome" intercepted only 240 of the projectiles, adding that some 35 rockets and mortar shells had struck populated areas over the course of Saturday and Sunday.

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, former head of Israeli military intelligence’s research department, Yaakov Amidror, revealed that the "Iron Dome" had failed to intercept all the missiles launched from Gaza due to a number of reasons.

According to him, one of the key issues was that some of the rockets were launched from a very close range, giving the Israeli system next to no time to react and intercept them.

He added that in general the rockets launched from the Gaza Strip are not unique and are “within the capabilities of the Iron Dome.”

Another reason for the failure, the military expert explained, is the system's peculiar design, which makes it ignore missiles aimed at areas it deems empty or uninhabited.

‘Israel changed rules of engagement in Gaza’

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed that the Tel Aviv regime changed the rules of engagement in Gaza in the past few days.

“We have changed the rules of the game, and Hamas understands this very well. With that, it is clear that this is not the end of the campaign, and I therefore gave instructions to prepare for what will come next, and gave directives to leave armored and artillery forces around the Gaza Strip,” he said.

Netanyahu further said Israel had officially renewed its old policy of targeted killings of “senior terrorists,” a term he used in referrence to members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad resistance groups, and claimed that the Tel Aviv regime had killed "dozens of them" over the weekend.

On Sunday, the Israeli military specifically targeted a Hamas member in Gaza, Hamed Ahmed Khudari, by bombing his car, marking the first targeted killing since the 2014 Gaza war.

The fresh Israeli aggression killed 27 Palestinians and wounded dozens of others in the attacks. Two pregnant Palestinian women and two infants were among the dead.

The two-day Israeli onslaught also demolished or damaged hundreds of Palestinian homes in Gaza.

The conflict came to a halt on Monday following a ceasefire between the two sides. Tensions erupted on Friday after the killing of four Palestinians, two in an Israeli air raid on Gaza and two during the regime’s live fire at anti-occupation protests.

Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that although the recent flare-up in Gaza had come to an end, the wider conflict would continue.

“The resistance managed to deter” the Israeli military, he said, according to Israeli Kan public broadcaster.

“Our message is that this round is over, but the conflict will not end until we regain our rights,” he said.

The ceasefire, however, has angered Israelis, who say they are tired of having to run to shelters.

“In a month, in two weeks, in a month and a half, it will all happen again — we achieved nothing. I think Israel needs to strike them very, very hard so that they learn their lesson,” said Haim Cohen in Ashdod, located 25 kilometers north of the Gaza Strip.

In Ein Hashlosha, a kibbutz about a mile and a half from Gaza, Meirav Kohan, 46, said she was shocked and disappointed at the truce.

“This is a war of attrition” she said, adding the Tel Aviv regime “is not looking for a long-term solution to bring us peace. There’s no policy. We’re just pawns in a game.”

Israel says its warplanes targeted some 350 sites in the Gaza Strip. The tiny coastal territory has been under Israeli land, air and sea blockade for over a decade.



Palestinians turn to EU to counter Kushner plan

May 07, 2019

UNITED NATIONS: The Palestinians are asking the European Union to pick up the mantle in defense of the two-state solution if the upcoming US peace plan ditches Palestinian statehood, their UN envoy said Tuesday.

President Donald Trump’s administration is expected to unveil the long-awaited plan possibly as early as next month, but the Palestinians have already rejected it as heavily biased in favor of Israel.

Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour told reporters that he urged European officials during recent meetings in Brussels to seize the initiative and not allow the United States to be the preeminent player in the Middle East peace process.

The Palestinians urged the EU to call for an international conference that would reaffirm the global consensus of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and reject the US approach.

“We are engaging them,” Mansour told reporters about his meetings with EU officials. “They have to act.”

“We would be extremely happy to show that there is more than one player in the field, trying to determine how we move forward.”

The Palestinians have also urged European countries — in particular France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Belgium and Luxembourg — to recognize Palestine as a state.

UN resolutions have advocated a two-state solution providing for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, and stressed that this outcome is to be agreed by the parties.

Mansour said the Palestinians also wanted Russia to step up its Middle East diplomacy and suggested that the United Nations could convene the Middle East peace quartet.

The US peace plan is expected to feature proposals for regional economic development that would include Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon but the Palestinians have been adamant that it will fail.

Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is the chief architect of the proposals.

Mansour said the US plan — which he has not seen — appears to be aimed at providing a “pretext” for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to annex more Palestinian territory.

Netanyahu promised during the election campaign to annex West Bank settlements, a move that would kill off prospects for a viable Palestinian state.

Mansour said he was convinced that the Palestinians still enjoyed “massive support in the international arena,” but suggested that if diplomacy failed, the battle could then turn to demographics.

Full report at:



US says ‘transparent’ elections is in Turkey’s own interest

7 May 2019

The United States said Tuesday that a “healthy democracy” with transparent elections is in Turkey’s own interest, after authorities annulled the Istanbul mayoral election following the defeat of the ruling party.

The State Department, without directly criticizing the election body’s decision, said that free elections were “a fundamental pillar in any democracy.”

“We expect a free, fair and transparent electoral process to be fully respected by all involved so that the will of the voters is acknowledged in the results,” a State Department spokeswoman said.

“A healthy Turkish democracy is in the interest of Turkey and its partners, including the United States, and helps ensure a stable, prosperous and reliable ally,” she said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a former Istanbul mayor with Islamist roots who has led Turkey since 2003, saw his bloc suffer its first defeat in 25 years in the country’s largest city during the March 31 vote. A recount confirmed the opposition candidate’s narrow win.

Full report at:



US likely to send four bombers to the Middle East: officials

7 May 2019

The bomber task force the United States said it was sending to the Middle East will likely include four bombers along with personnel to fly and maintain the aircraft, US officials told Reuters on Tuesday.

The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said they would likely be B-52 aircraft and had not yet departed for the Middle East.

White House national security adviser John Bolton said on Sunday that the Trump administration was deploying a carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East in response to troubling “indications and warnings” from Iran and to show the United States will retaliate with “unrelenting force” to any attack.

US acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Monday he had approved sending a carrier strike group and bombers to the Middle East because of indications of a “credible threat by Iranian regime forces,” but did not provide any details on the underlying intelligence.

Full report at:



Turkey pres. defends Istanbul election re-run amid protests

May 7, 2019

In Turkey, the ousted Istanbul mayor says he will again run as the main opposition party’s candidate in next month’s repeat of the elections. On Monday, Turkey’s election board annulled the vote. The country opposition party described the move as treacherous. Rahshan Saglam reports from Istanbul.




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