New Age Islam
Mon Nov 30 2020, 03:33 PM

Islamic World News ( 28 Sept 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Malaysia Is Slipping Into Extremist Tendencies Following the Crackdown On Shia Muslims







Despite Grappling with Rohingya Crisis, Bangladesh Is ‘Development Miracle’

Insulting Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) Pains Muslims: Imran Khan

Few Takers for Maulana Fazl’s ‘Namoos-E-Risalat’ Politics

Jamaat-Ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh Emerging As a Threat To South India, Officials Say

Saudi Regime Is Source Of Radicalism, Uses ‘Iran Card’ As Cover For Failures: Top Diplomat

Iran Releases Photo of Khamenei with Hezbollah’s Nasrallah

American Officials ‘Knew Saudi Arabia Would Fail in Yemen’

Tough Times for Muslim Brotherhood and Its Qatari Sponsors in Europe

 

Southeast Asia

Malaysia Is Slipping Into Extremist Tendencies Following the Crackdown On Shia Muslims

GP Anshor expresses support for Pope’s world peace document

Malaysia, Pakistan, Turkey to lead in combatting Islamophobia

Mahathir hits out at India for invading, occupying Kashmir

Malaysia PM says can't provoke Beijing on South China Sea, Uighur issue

Syed Husin laments the narrowing of once-progressive PAS

Mercedes dismiss 4 involved in bullying of Muslim colleague

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South Asia

Despite Grappling with Rohingya Crisis, Bangladesh Is ‘Development Miracle’

NATO SG Commends Afghans for Exercising Their Democratic Right To Vote

Bangladesh: March in solidarity with Kashmir

Bangladesh a shining example of communal harmony: info minister

Afghan Voters Defy Attacks, Delays to Choose President

Notorious Taliban commander, his fighters killed in Balkh before disrupting elections

29 operations conducted against Taliban in Kabul, other provinces amid elections: NDS

Hasina says Rohingya refugee crisis worsening

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Pakistan

Insulting Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) Pains Muslims: Imran Khan

Few Takers for Maulana Fazl’s ‘Namoos-E-Risalat’ Politics

Allowing Hafiz Saeed to access frozen accounts legal, says US

UN secy general reaffirms support to Imran on Kashmir

Three killed, including opposition politician, in blast in Pakistan's Balochistan province

Pakistan stops sending postal mails to India

NAB summons JUI-F leader Durrani, son in ‘corruption case’

Pakistan can fill gaps for the UK after Brexit, says envoy

Pakistan hits back at India’s response to PM Imran’s UNGA speech

PM Imran leaves for Pakistan by commercial flight after historic UNGA address

PM courageously presents Kashmir issue in UNGA: Faisal Javed

Sikhs holding foreign passports to get 45-day multiple Pakistani visa

JUI-F leader among three dead in Chaman blast

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India

Jamaat-Ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh Emerging As a Threat To South India, Officials Say

As Turkey sides with Pakistan, PM Modi meets its rivals

Congress stands by govt's reply to Pakistan PM's speech at UNGA

We wanted world to see RSS and India as one, Imran did it: Sangh

Displaying raw courage, jawan killed intercepting terrorist who tried to flee

Hizbul militant wanted in BJP, RSS leaders’ murders killed in Jammu and Kashmir encounter

Imran on RSS: BJP seeks apology, Congress says Pakistan PM given undue importance

Petition in Bihar court seeks Imran Khan’s trial for UN speech

India rebuts Pakistan, China over reference on Kashmir as Modi concludes whirlwind US visit

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Mideast

Saudi Regime Is Source Of Radicalism, Uses ‘Iran Card’ As Cover For Failures: Top Diplomat

Iran Releases Photo of Khamenei with Hezbollah’s Nasrallah

Yemen vows to end attempts by Iran-backed Houthi militia to divide country

Yemeni FM slams Iran, Houthi militia during UN General Assembly address

UAE FM: The Iranian nuclear deal did not correct Tehran’s behavior

US 'won't be able to finish' war against Iran: Zarif

US sanctions on Iran's access to medicines tantamount to economic terrorism: FM Zarif

US, Turkey must end illegal military presence in Syria: FM Muallem

3 Saudi brigades destroyed, scores of mercs captured in Najran offensive: Yemeni Army spox

Americans, Europeans have no ‘grasp of Yemenis’ capacity’: Analyst

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North America

American Officials ‘Knew Saudi Arabia Would Fail in Yemen’

Only 13% of Americans Support US Military Going To War over Saudi Oil Field Attack: Poll

US holding Iranian stem cell scientist for nearly a year without trial

Turkey, US hold 7th joint helicopter flight over Syria

America’s light of liberty continues to beckon

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Europe

Tough Times for Muslim Brotherhood and Its Qatari Sponsors in Europe

MWL Chief Calls for Strengthening Human Ties to Bridge Gaps between Nations

Mercedes F1 team sack four over racist bullying of Muslim colleague

'Large increase in anti-Bosnian, anti-Muslim bigotry': Report

Luxembourg: EU should give Turkey extra financial aid

Merkel ally to visit Turkey to discuss EU refugee deal

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Arab World

Egypt Court Asks Grand Mufti For Opinion On Terror Case Sentences

Turkey plans construction project worth $27 billion in Syria 'safe zone': TRT

Saudi Arabia says it supports Egypt’s counter-terror efforts after Sinai attack

Syria’s Foreign Minister says Turkey continues to support terrorists

Egypt refers seven cases of people accused of killing officers to Grand Mufti

Bahrain supports US efforts to counter Iran and its proxies: FM

Iraqi PM approves reopening al-Qa'im border crossing with Syria

Saudi King’s personal bodyguard killed in dispute: Police statement

Saudi Arabia is ‘Japan’s most important friend,’ Tokyo minister says

Egypt loosens security after thwarting calls for protests

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Africa

Concern That Mogadishu Losing Control To Al-Shabaab

After US talks, Sudan sees path to lifting sanctions soon

Extremists kill nine in Nigeria attacks

UN, coast guard say boat with 50 migrants capsizes off Libya

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/malaysia-is-slipping-into-extremist-tendencies-following-the-crackdown-on-shia-muslims/d/119863

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Malaysia Is Slipping Into Extremist Tendencies Following the Crackdown On Shia Muslims

By Nicholas Chung

September 28, 2019

A sociology professor has warned that Malaysia is slipping into extremist tendencies following the crackdown on Shia Muslims by Johor and Selangor religious authorities last month.

Syed Farid Alatas, a sociology professor at the National University of Singapore, said Malaysia is becoming one of the most extremist Muslim nations in the world, stressing that Sunni Muslims in the nation need to quickly realise and understand the implications.

“In the 1980s, when I was a student in the US, whenever I met Muslim students from other countries they would look up to Malaysia, saying we were the model to follow because, in those days, Malaysia was able to combine religiosity with modernisation.

“Recently, in the last 10 years or so, I’m getting the opposite reaction.

“People are saying, ‘Look at Malaysia; this is what happens when you mix religion with politics.

“You’re going to be extremists,’” Syed Farid said. “Malaysia is now the model to be avoided.”

He warned that once extremism has taken root and has spread throughout society, Shia Muslims will not be the only ones who will be persecuted.

“Once the Shias are done with, they will come after us so-called liberals. They’re already after the feminists.

“They will come after the Sufis; there will come a time when Sufism will be banned in Malaysia.

“It’s a slippery slope towards extremism when you let these people take over.”

Syed Farid said the focus should be on educating and influencing the younger generation in order to shift their perceptions on such things, adding that it was pointless to debate with most of the current religious leaders as they were set in their ways.

“I don’t know if they’re stupid enough to actually believe what they themselves are saying or if they’re so evil to say what they say about the Shias.”

He spoke of the urgent need to begin educating the young generation as changes could take one or two generations before becoming tangible, adding that “the situation will get much worse” if Sunni Muslims do not act now.

Need for constant interfaith dialogues

Monash University’s Ahmad Farouk Musa said there needed to be concerted efforts in holding constant interfaith dialogues and reconciliatory efforts to foster mutual understanding between Sunnis and Shias.

“In the Western world, Sunnis, Shias, Wahabis and Salafis pray in the same mosques and there’s no problem,” he said.

Shia, with a substantial following in Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon, several parts of Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Pakistan, is the second-largest branch of Islam.

But state Islamic authorities have declared its teachings as “deviant”, with sermons in Selangor frequently condemning its followers as heretics.

Islamic studies in English

Meanwhile, Syed Farid disagreed with Farouk’s notion that Islamic studies should be taught in English, saying extremism was not confined to certain languages.

“Even if we were to have political parties that are not Islamic or if we were to convert our education system into English, it won’t solve the problem. It is not a problem of labels or language; it’s a problem of mentality and orientation.

“Imagine if all Muslims in Malaysia were very proficient in English, and if they were more proficient in English than in Malay. They would all then be very much able to understand Zakir Naik,” he said, drawing laughter from the crowd.

He said the main issue that needed to be addressed was the orientation and mentality that the younger generation were exposed to in schools and universities, stressing the need for more religious leaders with progressive thinking.

“A progressive understanding of Islam or an aggressive understanding of Islam can be conveyed in any language.”

Farouk had called on Muslims to learn their religion in English, while also suggesting for the national education system to revert to the system in existence in the olden days.

He had also suggested for all government schools to be made secular, saying that Islamic practices taught in schools were starting to be ritualistic, citing the prayers during the morning assemblies.

They were speaking at a panel discussion at the Future of the Ummah forum at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation (Istac), joined by Istac’s Osman Bakar and prominent thinker Chandra Muzaffar. The session was moderated by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Sharifah Munirah Alatas.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/09/28/malaysia-on-a-slippery-slope-to-extremism-warns-don/

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Despite Grappling with Rohingya Crisis, Bangladesh Is ‘Development Miracle’

27 September 2019

“Bangladesh recorded the highest economic growth among a list of 26 countries in the last 10 years”, said Sheikh Hasina, noting a 188 per cent expansion in its gross domestic product (GDP), which “has grown from $102 billion in 2009 to $302 billion this year”.

Citing poverty and inequality as two major obstacles to development, she pointed out that “poverty eradication, sustainable growth, protection of the environment and human-resources development are some of the key features of our development strategy”.

“Bangladesh has achieved one of the fastest poverty reduction rates in the world”, the Prime Minister said, explaining that over the past 10 years, the country has adopted progressive and timely policies, with a key development strategy that tackles inequality through social security, decent work and financial inclusion.

Other sustainable development achievements

“Having achieved the milestones of gender parity”, she said, “we are now focusing on enhancing the quality of education with emphasis on e-learning, and qualified teachers”.

And she maintained that Bangladesh’s school drop-out rate has gone down from 50 to 18 per cent.

Moreover, the country has created an extensive network of 18,000 community clinics and Union Health Centres to bring health coverage to the entire population.

“These centres provide 30 different types of medicine free of cost and free primary health services to the rural people”, she explained, adding that 80 per cent of recipients are women and children.

Ms. Hasina called the blue economy Bangladesh’s “new frontier of opportunities”, saying, “we are contributing to UN’s norm-setting exercises on protecting marine biological diversity in the areas within and beyond national jurisdiction”.

Turning to climate change, she pointed out that Bangladesh is a coalition partner on climate resilience and adaptation and has adopted “transformative and innovative climate resilient technology and crops for reducing disaster risks”.

Keeping the peace

As the second largest troop- and police-contributing country, Bangladesh continues to participate in UN peacekeeping operations.

Responding to the Secretary-General’s call to implement the Action for Peacekeeping Agenda, Ms. Hasina said, “we have joined as one of the ‘champion’ countries”.

Turning to the Rohingya crisis, the Prime Minister stated that it has been “lingering into the third year”, saying that “not a single Rohingya could return to Myanmar due to absence of safety and security, freedom of movement and overall conducive environment in Rakhine state of Myanmar”.

She requested the international community to “understand the un-tenability of the situation” and that the crisis has gone “beyond the camps”.

“Despite our all efforts to contain it, the crisis is now becoming a regional threat”, lamented Ms. Hasina, with “increasing congestion and environmental degradation… challenging health and security”.

Noting that “we are bearing the burden of a crisis which is Myanmar’s own making”, Ms. Hasina recalled a proposal to resolve the crisis, which included for the international community to ensure that the root causes of Rohingya problems are addressed and the violation of their human rights accounted for.

“For us multilateralism remains as the strongest panacea for resolving the global problems and creating global goods”, concluded the Bangladesh Prime Minister.

https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/09/1048002

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Insulting Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) Pains Muslims: Imran Khan

September 28, 2019

Pakistan PM addresses freedom of speech and Islamophobia in UN speech.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday told the world that insulting to Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) gave pain to the Muslims and called for not using the freedom of speech to insult the Prophet (PBUH) to hurt his followers.

"The Prophet (PBUH) lives in our hearts. When he is ridiculed, when he is insulted, it hurts us. As we humans know. that pain of the heart is far more hurtful than the physical pain. And that is why the Muslims react," the prime minister told the world leaders while addressing the United Nations General Assembly.

He said he had always thought of explaining the subject to the world community, especially the Western community who did not understand the religion as the Muslims did.

"That's all we ask. Do not use freedom of speech to cause us pain by insulting our Holy Prophet. This is what we want," the prime minister said while referring to the sensitivity Jews showed to the holocaust which also gave them pain.

He said after 9/11, Islamophobia grew alarmingly in the West, which was marginalizing the Muslim communities and could also radicalise them

"There is only one Islam. What is radical Islam or Islamic terrorism? . Terrorism has nothing to do with any religion," he said.

He said the use of phrases like Islamic terrorism and radicalism were the main reasons behind Islamohobia, which had caused pain to Muslims.

He said the world must address the issue, though unfortunately even the Muslim leaders did not address it either.

The prime minister said instead of addressing the issue, the Muslim leaders proclaimed as liberals and coined a new term of enlightened moderation.

He said if any Muslim society carried out injustice on the minority, it was in fact violating the Islamic teachings.

https://www.khaleejtimes.com/international/pakistan/insulting-prophet-muhammad-pbuh-pains-muslims-imran-khan

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Few Takers for Maulana Fazl’s ‘Namoos-E-Risalat’ Politics

BY ZAKI ABBAS

Sep 29, 2019

LAHORE: Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman is using the religion card in a bid to oust the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government amid criticism by the civil society that things can blow out of proportion if the religio-political party isn’t stopped from the “weaponisation” of religion.

In a surprising turn of events, Fazl has introduced ‘Khatam-e-Nabuwwat (PBUH)’ card to the year-long anti-government movement that had drummed up support against the ruling PTI for its inability to handle economy, alleged rigging in 2018 polls, and purported use of the anti-graft watchdog against political rivals.

The preparations for the JUI-F’s ‘Azadi March’ are in full swing and the party’s cadres are asking for donations – to fund the march – in the name of Islam.

Allies aren’t too comfortable with the JUI-F’s announcement, as ambiguity surrounds the potential protest.

Though the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has categorically distanced itself from the JUI-F’s march, it, however, will lend ‘moral support’ to Fazl.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), on the other hand, will make a final decision in its Central Executive Committee meeting on Monday. Its vice president Pervaiz Rasheed, however, says the decision to join Fazl’s ‘Azadi March’ is finalised and Sept 30 meeting is just a formality.

The meek response to the use of religion by their ally has made the role of PPP and PML-N as emerging “modern progressive political parties” questionable.

Saiful Malook, a Supreme Court lawyer who represented Aasia Bibi in Pakistan’s most high-profile blasphemy case, says the ‘progressiveness’ of these two parties is just a “sham”.

“The ouster of Imran government will ultimately benefit the PML-N and PPP [more than Fazl] and they don’t care how the downfall is achieved,” he said, calling them the “financers” of looming demonstration in Islamabad.

“It’s a shortsighted approach, but it gets the job done,” he said when asked about repercussions of religion on the country’s landscape.

However, PML-N stalwart Ahsan Iqbal said his party was against the use of religion for political purpose, as the party “supports a broad-based, national and constitutional agenda”.

But still, the PML-N supporters are suspicious of Fazl’s way of politics, whose party has termed ‘Finality of Prophethood (PBUH)’ the foundation of the long march.

“I do not want to become part of the sit-in if it is being fuelled with religious bigotry,” a PML-N supporter said in an informal chat with Pakistan Today. Fazl shouldn’t be allowed to create a “mess”.

However, the party’s base consists of “bourgeois and largely Punjabi bourgeois class that may show signs of sympathy for the movement”, Umber Bin Ibad, who teaches history at Forman Christian College University, commented on the disparity between the PML-N leaders’ statements.

“They don’t want to lose their symbolic capital, so they may be sympathetic to the cause,” he said. Nonetheless, it is a “bad idea to mobilise people in the name of religion”, he warned.

A lecturer in Lahore, who chose to remain anonymous over security concerns, said religion shouldn’t be “politicised”.

“It doesn’t matter if PTI survives this sit-in or not, the bigger issue here is the way communal hatred impacts [people’s] lives and leaves marginalised communities further vulnerable,” she said.

Giving example when the use of religion by a political group “spiraled out of control”, the academic quoted Partition and the role of Islam in it.

“The use of religion for political purposes sets a dangerous trend. Look at Partition, the use of religion by Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah spiraled out of control after his death and paved way for the Islamist parties and jihadi outfits to hijack the narrative.”

That is precisely the kind of argument propagated by JUI-F Senator Hafiz Hamdullah in a chat with a local paper when questioned over his party’s use of religion for political purposes.

“Did Quaid-e-Azam not use the religion card during the freedom movement? Is making a demand that the constitution be implemented in letter and spirit unconstitutional?” he asked.

According to Pakistan Ulema Council Chairman Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi, there’s no need to mix politics with religion and Maulana Fazl should reconsider his decision to march on Islamabad.

“There’s no threat to Namoos-e-Risalat (PBUH) in Pakistan and religio-political leaders should avoid using this for their own vested interests,” he said, urging the JUI-F chief to join hands with the government and strengthen it instead of causing political instability in the country.

But Professor Umber has different advice.

“Religious parties, particularly Fazl’s, should evolve and look for issues concerning the real needs of public life,” he said, adding that this could also provide the JUI-F a chance to be seen as a modern religio-political party.

The use of religion to draw masses instead of building momentum on “concrete issues” is regressive.  “How many more times would the political parties miss [such] an opportunity,” he concluded

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/09/28/few-takers-for-maulana-fazls-namoos-e-risalat-politics/

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Jamaat-Ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh Emerging As a Threat To South India, Officials Say

Neeraj Chauhan

Sep 28, 2019

After its attempt to create a base in West Bengal’s Burdwan failed in 2014, Bangladesh-based terror outfit Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) has once again emerged as a potential threat, this time in south India, two senior National Investigation Agency (NIA) officials familiar with the development said.

The federal anti-terror probe agency on Tuesday recovered material used in making improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, from JMB’s hideouts in Bengaluru. It recently registered a case to investigate the activities of JMB in southern India following inputs that its members had engaged in robberies to collect funds for their terror plans, the officials added.

At least, 3-4 robberies in Bengaluru, linked to JMB operatives, are currently being examined by the agency; and their leader in India – Jahidul Islam alias Kausar -- is being interrogated.

“JMB, following a major crackdown in Burdwan by us in 2014 in which over 50 of its members were caught in West Bengal and Assam, failed to carry out terror attacks in that region. Kausar, who was instrumental in formation of JMB training camps, procuring explosives in 2014 for making over 100 bombs and planning the Bodhgaya blast in January 2018, had moved to Bengaluru and he was reviving the outfit. But even after his arrest in August last year, it seems somebody is furthering the activities of JMB in south India,” one of the officers cited above said on condition of anonymity

The agency took Kausar’s custody on September 19 again, and Tuesday’s recovery was made on the basis of his interrogation.

“JMB terrorist Jahidul Islam alias Kausar disclosed during questioning that after the 2014 Burdwan blast, he and his associates went to southern India to escape the agencies on their trail. On the basis of his identification, hideouts at Atibele, Kadugodi, K R Puram, Chikkabanavara and Shikaripalya, Electronic City in Bengaluru were raided from where incriminating articles for the preparation of IED and grenades were recovered,” said an NIA statement issued on Tuesday.

“...two cuboid shaped batteries wrapped with plastic tape and electrical wire, one capacitor, three switches, one micro lithium cell, one plastic transparent box containing black colour chemical wrapped in a white paper, hand gloves, identity cards, rent agreement of one of the hideouts, handwritten letters in Bengali , one digital camera and silver articles looted during robberies committed in Bengaluru in 2018, have been seized by NIA,” it said.

Kausar also identified places in Krishnagiri hill, in Tamil Nadu (near the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border) where he, along with his JMB associates — Habibur, Arif (a Bangladeshi national) and Fahim alias Fahad, had allegedly test-fired three rockets using a crude device during June-October 2017, the agency said. He also identified the place where they had concealed the remnants of the third rocket shell after the test-fire, according to NIA.

“From this place, NIA seized remnants of explosive materials such as eight batteries of 1.5 volt each, a hollow cylindrical carton used for launching the rocket shell and pieces of electrical wire,” it added.

The outfit was banned by the ministry of home affairs in May this year. JMB’s top leader in Bangladesh is Salahuddin Salehin; Kausar looked after its India operations.

Not only has the group used Indian soil for hideouts in West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand and other regions but it is “quietly” carrying out subversive activities like collection of funds and recruitment of vulnerable Muslim youngsters into the fold of JMB, imparting training to them and motivating them to make hand-made weapons like bows and arrows and radicalizing them to fight against of other communities within India, according to the NIA.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/jmb-emerging-as-a-threat-to-south-india-officials-say/story-56ehDvwEPAHsEbQlihHJLI.html

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Saudi Regime Is Source Of Radicalism, Uses ‘Iran Card’ As Cover For Failures: Top Diplomat

Sep 28, 2019

Iran’s Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations has described the Saudi regime as a source of “hatred” and “radicalism,” accusing Riyadh of using the “Iran card” as a cover for its “backwardness” and malign ambitions.

Es'haq Al-e Habib said that Saudi "despots" can not go on forever making accusations against Iran as a cover for failures stemming from their “primitive medieval dogmas”. 

The diplomat added that Saudi Arabia’s “destructive” policies should not be overlooked despite the regime’s tendency to blame others for its mistakes.

The comments came in response to Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Abdulaziz al-Assaf’s Friday remarks in the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Assaf leveled terrorism charges against Iran and called for added financial pressure on the country.

Rejecting the charges, Al-e Habib said that Riyadh had used fear-mongering against Tehran in order to win western support for its “stupidity, be it in either Syria or Yemen.”

Citing Iran’s participation in anti-terror campaigns across the region, the deputy ambassador said: “It was Saudi Arabia and not Iran which provided billions of dollars worth of arms to the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group and affiliated terrorists in Syria.”

Al-e Habib further pointed to the high number of Saudi nationals among the main suspects of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, adding that the Saudi regime has turned into a hotbed for “radicalism,” with many terrorist leaders being known to have studied in Saudi-backed schools.

At least 15 of the 19 hijackers who flew passenger planes into the World Trade Center on that occasion came from Saudi Arabia. There are also numerous official reports that suggest the attackers were funded by some Saudi royals.

The deputy ambassador went on to list a number of the Saudi regime’s erroneous policies, such as the Saudi onslaught in Yemen, the regime’s beheading of peaceful political dissidents, lack of democracy and respect for human rights and role in suppressing democratic movements in the region.

"It is Saudi who has waged a full-fledged war against its poorest neighbor Yemen while on a daily basis committing war crimes and crimes against humanity," he said.

"It is Saudi that continues beheading peaceful political opponents, and has upgraded its weapon of choice from sword to saw," he said, in a jab at the Riyadh regime's murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October.

Al-e Habib further pointed to Riyadh’s all-out blockade of Qatar and the detention of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in 2017 as instances of Saudi Arabia’s flawed regional policies.

Al-e Habib also highlighted the Saudi regime’s support for the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's war against Iran, accusing Riyadh of having a role in the death of “more than 250,000” Iranians who died in the conflict.

Referring to Iran's recently presented regional Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE), the envoy said: “Today, while Iranians are calling for regional talks in a bid to stabilize the Persian Gulf region, it is once again the Saudis who are stubbornly insisting on their malevolent measures and policies.”

The HOPE initiative comes against the backdrop of tensions in the Persian Gulf.

Several tankers and commercial vessels have come under suspicious attacks by unknown parties while attempting to cross the strategic Strait of Hormuz in past months amid increasing US troop presence in the region. Washington and some of its allies have pinned the incidents on Iran without providing evidence.

Riyadh and Washington have also recently ratcheted up tensions against Iran by holding it responsible for the September 14 Yemeni drone strikes on the oil-rich kingdom’s oil facilities.  

Addressing Riyadh’s recent fear mongering against Tehran, the deputy ambassador urged Saudi Arabia to avoid mistakenly believing that sewing regional instability would improve the kingdom’s regional standing.

Al-e Habib called Saudi Arabia a “tragic threat” for regional and international peace with its “medieval ideology” and abundant inventory of modern weaponry.

The deputy ambassador urged the international community to stop Saudi “mockery” and “abuse” of international bodies such as the UN with its misguided policies.  

Saudi criminals are seeking to openly mock “humanity, justice and peace”, he said.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/28/607321/Saudi-regime-is-a-source-of-hate-and-radicalism

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Iran Releases Photo of Khamenei with Hezbollah’s Nasrallah

29 September 2019

Iran has released a “never before seen” photo of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei alongside Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Lebanese Hezbollah.

The photo published on the supreme leader’s official website shows Nasrallah with Khamenei on his right and Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, on his left.

The three men are shown in front of what appears to be a door covered by a curtain and surrounded by shelves stacked with books – a decor associated with Khamenei’s Tehran office.

Before a 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon, Nasrallah often openly visited the Iranian capital, but since then his public appearances have been limited.

Iran’s support for Hezbollah and Palestinian militant group Hamas is an enduring feature of the Islamic republic’s foreign policy.

The photo, first published on Wednesday and still available on Sunday, has received little coverage in other Iranian media.

The picture will make the inaugural cover of a new magazine, Massir (the Path), soon to be launched by khamenei.ir, the supreme leader’s website said, while noting that the issue will publish elements of a “five-hour interview” with Nasrallah.

The text references “a never before seen photo,” but does not confirm the date or place where it was taken.

An advertisement on the supreme leader’s website says that Massir will publish “for the first time... images of meetings” between Nasrallah and Khamenei.

The website also published around a dozen photos of Nasrallah taken “during an exclusive discussion” with officials from the supreme leader’s office, again without detailing the place and timing of the pictures.

One of the photos shows Nasrallah sitting in an armchair in front of portraits affixed to a wall of the supreme leader and his predecessor Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Two other pictures show the Hezbollah leader in conversation with two unidentified men.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/09/29/Iran-releases-photo-of-Khamenei-with-Hezbollah-s-Nasrallah.html

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American Officials ‘Knew Saudi Arabia Would Fail in Yemen’

Sep 28, 2019

The report, published by The American Conservative magazine, cited one “senior US military officer” as expressing “ire” at Saudi officials for making the decision to go to war with Yemen.

According to the report, the Saudis did not inform Washington of the decision in advance.

“We didn’t see the [Saudi] invasion [of Yemen] coming and we were shocked when it happened. But we were pretty blunt. We told them, ‘you can’t win and you’ll bankrupt your country. It’ll be a quagmire’. And we were right,” the official, whose name was withheld, stated.

The report cited another “military officer” as having said back in 2015 that while the Houthis were allied to Iran — which the US considers an adversary — the US counted on them as a potential counterweight to al-Qaeda in Yemen.

The war, in which the US also participates, has turned the Houthis entirely against America now, according to the officer.

US intelligence reports were also cited as having said that “Saudi Arabia’s intervention [in Yemen] was throwing into doubt the long-term stability of the Saudi government”.

The administration of US President Donald Trump, the report added, subsequently “reached two conclusions—that ‘all is not well in the House of Saud’, and that Washington should open talks with the Houthis to end the war”.

The report highlighted the major attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities on September 14, which the US has claimed were carried out by Iran. Tehran has rejected that accusation, and Yemen has taken responsibility.

The retired US military officer referred to those attacks and noted that the Saudi decision to go to war with Yemen initiated all the tensions now simmering in the region.

This is “how all of this nonsense got started in the first place”, the officer said, referring to he initiation of the Saudi war.

A senior Pentagon official also highlighted how Iran now had the upper hand in the region.

“You know that popular map that you see on Twitter that shows that Iran is surrounded by US bases?” the Pentagon official asked, adding, “Well, guess what? The Iranians have now surrounded Saudi Arabia.”

Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen since March 2015 to restore power to fugitive president Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed tens of thousands of Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children. Despite Riyadh's claims that it is bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi bombers are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures. Weddings, funerals, schools and hospitals, as well as water and electricity plants, have been targeted, killing and wounding hundreds of thousands.

France, the United States, the Uinted Kingdom and some other Western countries have faced criticisms over arms sales to the Saudi Arabia and the UAE, whose aggression against Yemen has affected 28 million people and caused what the United Nations calls “one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world". According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.

The total number of reported fatalities in Yemen has passed the 91,000 mark over the past four and a half years, the US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) announced.

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980706000751

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Tough Times for Muslim Brotherhood and Its Qatari Sponsors in Europe

Majed Nehme

28/09/2019

Despite an abundance of books, reports, investigations and debates devoted to the murky games played by the Qatari monarchy, a documentary broadcast by the French-German TV channel ARTE will stand as a reference on the subject.

The documentary is not the first significant work by journalists Georges Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot, co-writers of this investigation. Malbrunot reported on the Middle East for Le Figaro. Chesnot is a member of the editorial staff of the public radio France Inter.

Both men are fluent in Arabic and are familiar with the complex realities of the Middle East. In 2004, while reporting on the war in Iraq, they were kidnapped and held hostage for 124 days by an armed group calling itself the Islamic Army of Iraq. They were freed through the efforts of French and Syrian intelligence services and since then have written several books devoted to the Middle East, including “Qatar Papers,” which served as the basis for the documentary “Qatar: guerre d’influence sur l’islam d’Europe” (“Qatar: A War of Influence on Islam in Europe”).

What is it all about?

“Initially,” they wrote, “we were rather impressed by the success story embodied by this small gas emirate. We did not believe that it was at the same time developing a policy to gain control of Islam in France and in Europe. We were far from the truth.”

They said they were fooled by Qatar’s capacity for concealment of its strategy to spread political Islam as defined by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Chesnot and Malbrunot said an anonymous whistle-blower, whose identity they refuse to reveal, opened their eyes to the suspected deception. They said the person gave them computer files containing information from the Qatar Charity NGO controlled by the state.

They said they were given “hundreds of e-mail exchanges between [Qatar Charity] and the beneficiaries of its largesse, most often associations close to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic movement supported by Qatar outside of its borders. It also contained records of bank transfers, e-mails and tables recording the amounts of aid paid to Islamic associations, sums intended for the construction of schools and mosques or for the purchase of real estate.”

Malbrunot’s and Chesnot’s investigation involved more than two years of meetings and confrontations with the leaders of the associations and Islamic NGOs in Europe mentioned in the documents and who benefited from the largesse of Qatar Charity.

They said they were particularly stunned by the size of the sums granted, the identity of the beneficiaries, their vague and pre-established versions of the facts and the purpose of these operations. They asked: “Why fund an Islamic centre in Alta in northern Norway? Or one on the island of Jersey, better known as a tax haven than for its tiny Muslim community? Why buy a high school in France?

“Little by little, a real spider’s web appeared to us, revealing that Europe was a priority for Qatar Charity,” they said.

The strategy of influence peddling, control and instrumentalisation of Muslims of Europe indicated by the documents carried great prejudice to these Muslims, insofar as it credits the Islamophobic cliche of a new “Islamic invasion” of Europe, a new “conquest” and “great transfer,” cliches spread in times of crisis by a European far right bent on hammering the identity issue.

It also bears something to worry public opinion subjected to brainwashing by the mainstream media where the amalgam of Islam, immigration and terrorism has become commonplace.

The documents shed light on Qatar Charity’s financing of 22 projects in France, about 40 in Italy and dozens of others throughout Europe over a 10-year period for about $123 million. This is an important sum but not sufficient to demonstrate all the workings of the strategy of influence over European Muslims.

The documentary, however, does not pay enough attention to the funding by Qatar of media that relay and amplify the discourse of political Islam and have an influence far more important than mosques, cultural centres and associations.

At the top of the list of the media outlets is Al Jazeera, which participates shamelessly in spreading the Muslim Brotherhood’s message, trampling in the process on all rules of ethics. Al Jazeera is not only picked up by the millions of satellite dishes dotting the roofs of European suburbs, it is distributed free by cable operators right under the nose and with the blessing of the Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisuel, the French regulatory authority for audio-visual media.

Among the benefactors and donors of Qatar Charity, which is supposed to be a private NGO, are members of the ruling Qatari dynasty, including Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

Al Jazeera, a real propaganda outlet and a weapon of psy-war against those who dare oppose Sheikh Tamim’s policies and his conception of Islam, is financed directly from Qatari state coffers at a cost of several hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

So, it should not be a surprise that among the 13 conditions imposed on Qatar by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain for lifting the sanctions against it was the closing of Al Jazeera and Qatar Charity.

Before the broadcast of the documentary on ARTE, the French-German channel was subjected to pressure and intimidation to remove the documentary from its programming. The Qatari government tried and failed.

The satirical French weekly Le Canard enchaine, generally citing reliable sources, revealed in its September 18 issue: “The Qatari authorities are deeply concerned about this documentary, which has already been broadcast in Switzerland and Belgium… As to Al Jazeera channel, belonging to the emir of Qatar, it is desperately seeking to acquire the international broadcasting rights of the documentary,” surely to bury it for good.

Far from complying with the injunctions of the Qatari lobby, ARTE maintained its programming.

Qatari authorities have closed Qatar Charity UK, which had acted as the headquarters of the organisation in Europe.

During the preview screening of the documentary, Chesnot said Qatar stopped financing the project of the Museum of Islamic Civilisations in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, which was mentioned in the documentary as one of the beneficiaries of Qatar Charity’s largesse.

Was it a tactical retreat or a definitive abandonment of the strategy of exploiting the Brotherhood’s version of Islam in France and in Europe in the service of Qatar’s destabilising policies in the region? Was it a real retreat or an opportunistic move?

Qatar has its back to the wall, with its influence strategy being decried at all levels. There are many books that demystify its policy of support for the Muslim Brotherhood. The latest example is Franco-Algerian journalist Mohammed Sifaoui’s “Taqiyya, Comment les Freres musulmans veulent infiltrer la France” (“Taqiyya, How the Muslim Brotherhood wants to Infiltrate France”).

In an interview with Le Figaro, Sifaoui said the Brotherhood’s ideology “is a totalitarian ideology that seeks to standardise thought and society. Their goal is not so much to Islamise the country as to take power within the Muslim community, to weigh on France.”

“The Muslim Brothers are also dangerous because they insidiously attack all the universal values considered as gains in democracies: secularism, equality between men and women, the rights of sexual and religious minorities...,” he said. “In addition, they create dividing factors by spreading hatred and rejection of the other. Finally, through their imposture of being victimised, their contempt for the republic and its principles, they intellectually arm potentially violent people and surreptitiously legitimise their actions.”

It is to the credit of both authors of this informative documentary to have contributed to revisiting the inexhaustible debate on the role of the advocates and financiers of political Islam in Europe, but the debate is not over.

https://thearabweekly.com/tough-times-muslim-brotherhood-and-its-qatari-sponsors-europe

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Southeast Asia

 

GP Anshor expresses support for Pope’s world peace document

September 27, 2019

A delegation led by Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) youth wing GP Ansor chairman Yaqut Cholil Qoumas met with Pope Francis in the Vatican on Wednesday, during which the group expressed its support for the Pope's world peace document.

The "Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together" document, was signed by Francis and Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al Azhar, in February during Francis' trip to the United Arab Emirates, the first time a pontiff had visited the Arabian Peninsula.

The two religious leaders discussed interfaith harmony in the Arab world and across the globe, urging political leaders and influencers to "work strenuously to spread the culture of tolerance and of living together in peace".

"In the meeting [with Francis], GP Ansor delivered [its own] declaration on Islam for humanity," Yaqut said in a press release, adding that it contained a call to build a global consensus to prevent people from using religions, especially Islam, as a political weapon because religions should be a solution for peace and not a source of conflict.

In the meeting, which took place after the weekly public audience in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis said that religious people always maintained brotherhood and lived side by side in peace.

"I pray for you, you pray for me, we are brothers," he said, according to the press release. (dis)

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/09/27/gp-anshor-expresses-support-for-popes-world-peace-document.html

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Malaysia, Pakistan, Turkey to lead in combatting Islamophobia

By Lokman Mansor

September 29, 2019

NEW YORK CITY: Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey plan to establish an English television channel to combat Islamophobia in the West, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.

The proposal was made at a meeting between Dr Mahathir, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Pakistani premier Imran Khan on the sidelines of the 74th United Nations General Assembly here this week, he added.

“We felt that many reports about Islam and Muslims were inaccurate, and do not portray what Islam preaches. They label Muslims as terrorists for example, and the world accepts it as the truth when Islam is not a violent religion.

“We feel there must be an effort to explain what Islam is so that there is no confusion and it won’t be accussed as a religion that promotes terrorism,” he said at a press conference with Malaysian media on Saturday.

Dr Mahathir said the effort will be spearheaded by the Information Departments of the three respective countries.

Wrapping up his five-day working visit, the prime minister said he had the opportunity to speak at the UN and meet with many investors and officials.

“Although the time given was only 15 minutes, I spoke for 30 minutes and nobody objected. I noticed that our views were well received by many in the hall, including our criticism about Israel and Palestine, climate change, and the boycott against our palm oil,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said during his bilateral meetings with investors and foreign leaders, they generally wanted to know more about the situation in Malaysia and its policies.

“They also asked our view on China. They appeared to be impressed with our capability to reduce the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) contract by RM20 billion.

“Perhaps what we did will encourage other countries that have many debts with China to also try and reduce their borrowings,” he added.

The government undertook a review and renegotiated the ECRL contract with China earlier this year, bringing its costs down from RM65.5 billion to RM44 billion.

The Rohingya crisis, meanwhile, did not appear to gain much resolution at the UN this time around.

“While they all condemn from outside, the Myanmar government seems unfazed by the condemnation and accusations. They still say this is their effort to fight terrorists.

“This is what disappoints us because we know what happened is genocide, an attempt to eliminate an entire race,” he said.

Asked if he expects Myanmar to react negatively to his comments at the UN, Dr Mahathir said he had earlier written to Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi to not support what was happening in Rakhine State.

“My letter was never replied and she appears to support the military’s actions,” he said.

Dr Mahathir, who has been to the UN General Assembly 11 times, said the international organisation has succeeded in its health and socio-economic efforts, but is toothless when it comes to defending those oppressed, tortured or chased out by cruel regimes.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir said he also welcomed efforts by American technology companies to rejuvenate the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), a project he set up in 1996 but was not prioritised under the two administrations that succeeded him.

The MSC was a crucial programme to accelerate the Vision 2020 objectives, and had attracted the interest of many large global information technology companies.

Full report at:

https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2019/09/525521/malaysia-pakistan-turkey-lead-combatting-islamophobia

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Mahathir hits out at India for invading, occupying Kashmir

September 29, 2019

NEW YORK: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Friday said despite UN resolutions on held Jammu and Kahsmir, the territory has been invaded and occupied.

“There may be reasons for this action but it is still wrong. The problem must be solved by peaceful means. India should work with Pakistan to resolve this problem”, he said in his address to the UN General Assembly.

“Ignoring the UN would lead to other forms of disregard for the UN and the Rule of Law”, he said.

He urged greater international control of sanctions, criticising US attempts to force all countries to stop doing business with Iran.

“We do not know under what laws sanctions are applied. It appears to be the privilege of the rich and the powerful,” the outspoken 94-year-old leader said.

“If you want to have sanctions, let us have a law to govern them,” he said.

“The fact is that when sanctions are applied to a country, other countries get sanctioned as well. Malaysia and many others lost a big market when sanctions were applied on Iran.”

The United States has increasingly used sanctions as a diplomatic tool, with President Donald Trump threatening other nations with punishment if they buy any oil from Iran.

Seeking to curb Iran’s regional influence, Trump unilaterally im­­posed the sanctions after walking away from a multinational nuclear deal.

Speaking to reporters after his address, Mahathir acknowledged that Malaysian firms had little choice but to comply for fear of being hit by US sanctions.

“Generally, the world is helpless,” he said.

Mahathir also renewed his criticism of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-nation trade pact that includes Malaysia but from which Trump pulled the United States.

“Rich companies had given themselves the power to sue governments. The terms of the agreement were drawn up by them — and they are not all like Bill Gates, who spends some money on charity,” he said.

“Most are bent on exploiting the power money gives them,” he said.

Malaysia does not want to take a confrontational stance towards China over the disputed South China Sea and Beijing’s alleged mistreatment of its minority Uighur Muslims, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said in an interview published on Saturday.

Malaysia is too small to face up to the Asian powerhouse, even though Chinese ships surveying its waters for oil and gas in South China Sea do so without permission, he told an online news service during a visit to New York this week.

“We watch what they are doing, we report what they are doing, but we do not chase them away or try to be aggressive,” Mahathir told BenarNews.

“The Malay states have existed near China for the past 2,000 years. We have survived because we know how to conduct ourselves. We don’t go around trying to be aggressive when we don’t have the capacity, so we use other means.”

He said that in the past Malaysia used to send to China “gold and silver flowers every year as a symbol of our being practically, well, subservient to them”. This month, China and Malaysia agreed to set up a joint dialogue mechanism for the South China Sea, as ties between the countries improve. China is Malaysia’s biggest trading partner.

Mahathir also said China’s might was the reason Muslim-majority Malaysia did not speak out much against Beijing’s alleged repression of Uighur Muslims.

“You don’t just try and do something which would fail anyway, so it is better to find some other less violent ways not to antagonise China too much, because China is beneficial for us,” he said.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1507949/mahathir-hits-out-at-india-for-invading-occupying-kashmir

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Malaysia PM says can't provoke Beijing on South China Sea, Uighur issue

SEPTEMBER 28, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia does not want to take a confrontational stance toward China over the disputed South China Sea and Beijing’s alleged mistreatment of its minority Uighur Muslims, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said in an interview published on Saturday.

Malaysia is too small to face up to the Asian powerhouse, even though Chinese ships surveying its waters for oil and gas in South China Sea do so without permission, he told an online news service during a visit to New York this week.

"We watch what they are doing, we report what they are doing, but we do not chase them away or try to be aggressive," Mahathir told BenarNews here

“The Malay states have existed near China for the past 2,000 years. We have survived because we know how to conduct ourselves. We don’t go around trying to be aggressive when we don’t have the capacity, so we use other means.”

He said that in the past Malaysia used to send to China “gold and silver flowers every year as a symbol of our being practically, well, subservient to them”.

This month, China and Malaysia agreed to set up a joint dialogue mechanism for the South China Sea, as ties between the countries improve. China is Malaysia’s biggest trading partner.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has been overseeing a sweeping plan to refurbish its army as the country ramps up its presence in the South China Sea and around self-ruled Taiwan, rattling nerves around the region and in Washington.

Mahathir also said China’s might was the reason Muslim-majority Malaysia did not speak out much against Beijing’s alleged repression of Uighur Muslims.

“You don’t just try and do something which would fail anyway, so it is better to find some other less violent ways not to antagonize China too much, because China is beneficial for us,” he said.

“Of course it’s is a big trading partner of ours and you do not want to do something that will fail, and in the process, also, we will suffer.”

The United Nations says at least 1 million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims have been detained in what China describes as “vocational training centers” to stamp out extremism and give people new skills.

Full report at:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-malaysia-china/malaysia-pm-says-cant-provoke-beijing-on-south-china-sea-uighur-issue-idUSKBN1WD0BY

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Syed Husin laments the narrowing of once-progressive PAS

Ainaa Aiman

September 28, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Sociologist and veteran politician Syed Husin Ali spoke today of how the spirit of PAS has been reduced from the nationalism and social fairness at the time of its early leader Burhanuddin al-Helmy, and narrowed in today’s PAS to religion and antagonism towards others.

“During the time of Burhanuddin, PAS was quite progressive. There was an aggressive spirit of nationalism and acknowledgement of social fairness for other groups – other religions and other races and such.

“Now it is so different. The spirit of nationalism has been reduced, the religious aspects are too narrow and antagonism towards non-Muslim and non-Malay groups is strong.”

He said the new alliance between PAS-Umno, sealed last week, would further amplify their Malay and Muslim-centric characteristics.

Although PAS claimed to be inclusive, having non-Malay wings within the party, Syed Husin said they had no voice. The non-Malay chapter was no longer as much included in party activities as before. Many had left because of the current direction of the party.

Syed Husin was speaking to reporters after a forum on remembering Burhanuddin al-Helmy’s contributions in history. Burhanuddin was president of PAS from 1956 to 1969, when it was known as the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party.

He replaced Abbas Alias and was eventually succeeded by Mohd Asri Muda after his death.

Under Burhanuddin, PAS was seen as being anti-colonialist. It was said during the forum today that he had succeeded in bringing the party forward with his progressive ideas. He was also often characterised as being left-wing.

According to official records, his leadership was interrupted in 1965 when he was jailed for a year under the Internal Security Act for allegedly plotting to overthrow the Malaysian government, to replace it with one that was more friendly to Indonesia.

Syed Husin said Burhanuddin should be remembered as proof that there were other historical icons besides those from Umno, who had fought for Independence.

He called for greater open discussions on “alternative history” that spoke of Burhanuddin’s full contributions (that are not officially recognised).

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/09/28/syed-husin-laments-the-narrowing-of-once-progressive-pas/

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Mercedes dismiss 4 involved in bullying of Muslim colleague

September 29, 2019

SOCHI: Formula One champions Mercedes have fired four employees and disciplined three others after an enquiry into racist bullying at the team’s factory, British newspapers reported on Saturday.

The team of five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who has Caribbean heritage and has spoken out against racism, confirmed in a statement that four individuals had been dismissed.

It said that the dismissals on Aug 2 “followed an internal investigation that confirmed breaches of our diversity and equality policy”.

“We condemn this behaviour in the strongest terms and acted immediately upon the complaint. We value the diversity of our employees and it is a source of strength for our team,” the statement added.

The Sun newspaper reported there had been a “campaign of racist bullying” against a Muslim employee at the team’s Brackley headquarters.

Hamilton has spoken out about his experiences of racism, calling in March for more of a stand against it in all walks of life after England football players reported abusive chants in a Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/sports/2019/09/29/mercedes-dismiss-4-involved-in-bullying-of-muslim-colleague/

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South Asia

 

NATO SG commends Afghans for exercising their democratic right to vote

29 Sep 2019

The NATO Secretary General commended the Afghans for exercising their democratic right to vote in yesterday’s presidential elections.

Stoltenberg said in a Twitter post late on Saturday “I commend the Afghan women & men who exercised their democratic right to vote in today’s presidential election.”

Furthermore, Stoltenberg said NATO stands with Afghanistan to create the conditions for peace.

Voting for presidential elections kicked off at around 7 am local time in Afghanistan on Saturday and continued until 5 pm.

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) officials announced late on Saturday night they have received the results of 2,597 polling stations out of 4,942 polling stations from across Afghanistan.

The officials further added that more than 1.051 million voters cast their votes in polling stations.

However, the officials said they have not received the preliminary data regarding the remaining polling stations so far.

https://www.khaama.com/nato-sg-commends-afghans-for-exercising-their-democratic-right-to-vote-04150/

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Bangladesh: March in solidarity with Kashmir

Md. Kamruzzaman 

27.09.2019

DHAKA, Bangladesh

People marched in Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on Friday demanding an end to the curfew-like situation in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. 

The group -- called Kashmir Solidarity Council Bangladesh (KSCB)-- gathered in Maghbazar neighborhood of the city and took out a procession following the Friday prayer.

Demanding restoration of the decades-old special constitutional status for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, they called on the Indian government to stop persecution the Muslim-majority region.

“Without holding a referendum as recommended by the resolution of the United Nations, peace cannot be established in Kashmir,” Mufti Habibur Rahman, KSCB central leader, said at the rally.

Terming Kashmir crisis as an international issue, he added that India had changed its stance on referendum for the fear of losing the vote.

“They [India] are now applying the path of tyranny against Kashmiri people to deprive them from their legitimate rights”.

From 1954 until Aug. 5, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir had special status under the provision of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. The provisions also protected the region's citizenship law, which barred outsiders from settling in and owning land in the territory.

The Hindu nationalist BJP government of India suddenly withdrew this special provision last August, claiming it was hindering development in the region.

Expressing skepticism to the claim, Rahman added: “In the last seven decades India has killed thousands of Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir and raped a number of women.”

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/bangladesh-march-in-solidarity-with-kashmir/1596282

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Bangladesh a shining example of communal harmony: info minister

September 29, 2019

Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud yesterday said Bangladesh has set an example in the world by establishing inter-community coherence across the country.

“Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman led the nation to form a non-communal Bangladesh,” a release quoted him as saying.

The government under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina believes in amity among the religions of the state… There is no place for communism here,” the release added.

The information minister made the remarks while addressing two different programmes: puja ceremony of Gulshan-Banani Sarbajanin Puja Sangha and inauguration of the “Shubho Mohaloya” programme arranged by the Sanatan Samaj Sangha at Farmgate in the capital.

“Our flag bears the symbol of the blood of three million people of all religions, in exchange for which we achieved our freedom…,” Dr Hasan Mahmud said at the event marking Durga Puja, to be held on October 4-8.

“We are Bangalees first, then Hindu-Muslim-Buddhist or Christians,” the minister added.

He urged everyone to come forward together to develop the nation.

Full report at:

https://www.thedailystar.net/city/news/bangladesh-shining-example-communal-harmony-info-minister-1806781

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Afghan voters defy attacks, delays to choose president

Sep 28, 2019

KABUL: Afghans braved the threat of militant attacks and delays at polling booths to vote in a presidential election on Saturday, a major test of the Western-backed government's ability to protect democracy against Taliban attempts to derail it.

The election was marred by numerous small-scale Taliban attacks, but only one confirmed death. Turnout was low, however, with the violence - plus earlier Taliban threats against polling stations - likely contributing factors.

Voting was extended by two hours, as the start of polling was delayed around the country with stations failing to open on time amid technical problems.

Independent election observers and activists said a slow pace to voting triggered confusion at some polling stations, with long queues forming outside.

"It took the first voter 31 minutes to vote. For subsequent voters it was taking around five minutes and then it started to streamline to 3 minutes and 30 seconds," said Nishank Motwani, an observer stationed in Kabul.

"Election commission staff looked panicked and voters were getting angry that the queue was not moving."

Taliban intervention?

Some observers feared the Taliban had forced a partial shutdown to upset the final results as the Independent Election Commission's (IEC), without giving a reason, said it had failed to establish contact with 901 of the 4,942 polling centres.

The hardline Islamist group, which controls more of the country than at any time since its regime fell in 2001, has warned the more than 9 million registered voters to stay at home or face dire consequences.

Saturday's presidential vote is the fourth since the Taliban were toppled.

A dozen candidates are vying for the presidency, led by incumbent Ashraf Ghani and his former deputy Abdullah Abdullah. Due to logistical difficulties, results will not be known until Nov. 7.

The winner will play a crucial role in the country's quest to end the war with the Taliban and any resumption of talks between them and the United States that were called off this month.

To protect voters and polling stations, tens of thousands of troops were deployed.

Abdul Moqim Abdulrahimzai, director-general of operations and planning at the Interior Ministry, said at least 21 civilians and two Afghan forces were injured in about a dozen small-scale attacks during the first hours of voting. Other attacks had been foiled, he said.

A senior Western security official in Kabul said the Taliban had not conducted large-scale attacks but had scared some voters away.

Early turnout was "very poor", said the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan, also citing as a reason the requirement for voters to be photographed, to which female voters in conservative areas objected.

Others were determined to vote.

"Bravado gets defined when one musters courage to cast ones vote," said Kabul doctor Roya Jahangir (after casting his ballot?). "We hope this time there is no fraud."

Hundreds of voters complained their names were missing from voters' lists or the biometric devices used to prevent fraud. Addressing those concerns, the IEC eased restrictions, allowing anyone with election stickers on their national identity cards to vote.

Polling stations attacked

Small-scale Taliban attacks took place across the country.

An explosion at a polling station in a mosque in the southern city of Kandahar wounded 16 people, according to a security source.

In the northern province of Faryab, Afghan forces clashed with Taliban fighters in six districts, forcing people to stay indoors and refrain from voting.

The Taliban said their fighters attacked polling stations in Laghman province, in eastern Afghanistan. Officials said four explosions in the eastern city of Jalalabad, in which one person was killed, disrupted voting at some stations.

Blasts also hit Kabul and Ghazni, officials said, while more than 400 polling centres remained closed because they were in areas under Taliban control.

Western diplomats said the scale of the Islamist militant group's election attacks would determine whether talks with Washington resumed.

"Talks can only begin if the Taliban exercises restraint and allows people to vote," said one diplomat overseeing the elections.

Ghani cast his ballot in a Kabul high school, telling reporters: "I thank God that today that people's vote will help the republic of Afghanistan to move forward."

Abdullah voted at a different Kabul school. "The threats to innocent people do not show the strength of the Taliban," he said.

Both men came to power in 2014 after a bitterly contested election marred by fraud.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/afghan-voters-defy-attacks-delays-to-choose-president/articleshow/71350851.cms

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Notorious Taliban commander, his fighters killed in Balkh before disrupting elections

28 Sep 2019

An airstrike in northern Balkh province killed at least 14 Taliban militants including Gul Nabi Mubarez, the shadow district chief of Taliban for chimtal.

The 209th Shaheen Corps said in a statement the security forces conducted the airstrike after pinpointing a group of Taliban militants in Chimtal district at around 10:15 pm on Friday night.

The statement further added that the airstrikes also wounded 20 Taliban militants and destroyed more than 10 motorcycles and other military equipment.

The 209th Shaheen Corps also added that Gul Nabi Mubarez was one of the most brutal Taliban commanders in Chimtal district.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/notorious-taliban-commander-his-fighters-killed-in-balkh-before-disrupting-elections-04148/

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29 operations conducted against Taliban in Kabul, other provinces amid elections: NDS

28 Sep 2019

The National Directorate of Security (NDS), the intelligence department of Afghanistan said the NDS forces conducted 29 operations against Taliban militants in Kabul and other provinces amid presidential elections

According to a statement released by National Directorate of Security, the NDS forces conducted 16 operations in Kabul city and outskirts of the capital and arrested 14 Taliban militants who were attempting to sabotage the elections.

The statement further added that the NDS forces also conducted 13 operations in Logar, Ghazni, Nangarhar, Balkh, Herat, Kunar, Helmand and Khost provinces during the same period.

The statement also added that the NDS forces killed 34 Taliban militants, wounded 14 others and arrested 4 of them during the same operations.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/29-operations-conducted-against-taliban-in-kabul-other-provinces-amid-elections-nds-04147/

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Hasina says Rohingya refugee crisis worsening

September 29, 2019

NEW YORK: Warning that a wider regional problem is at hand, Bangladesh’s leader said on Friday that the crisis involving Muslim Rohingya refugees from neighboring Myanmar is “going beyond the camps” where they are staying.

In Bangladesh’s annual address to the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina appealed to the international community to “understand the untenability of the situation” surrounding the refugees from Myanmar, who are fleeing persecution by the military there.

“I would request the international community to understand the untenability of the situation,” Hasina said. “The crisis is now going beyond the camps. Despite all our efforts to contain it, the crisis is now becoming a regional threat.”

She said that health and security are becoming problems as congestion and environmental problems increase.

She said Bangladesh will continue to work with Myanmar to encourage repatriation of the Rohingya. She has proposed at the UN this week a resolution ensuring that Myanmar and the international community must ensure the safety of any Rohingya returnees.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1561296/world

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Pakistan

 

Allowing Hafiz Saeed to access frozen accounts legal, says US

September 29, 2019

NEW YORK: The United States did not object to allowing Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed to draw some money from his frozen accounts because it’s legal to do so, says a senior US official.

Last month, the sanctions committee of the UN Security Council (UNSC) allowed Pakistan to let JuD leader use his bank account for personal expenses. The decision was made public earlier this week.

Read: UN committee allows Hafiz Saeed to draw Rs150,000

At a Friday afternoon news briefing in New York, Acting Assistant Secretary of State Alice G. Wells said the permission was legal.

“This is actually a positive step. Countries are required under the obligations of the listings that for any UN-designated individual that you account for whatever money flow is permitted, such as the family’s expenses of Hafiz Saeed,” said Ms Wells when asked why the United States did not oppose Hafiz Saeed’s request to draw about Rs150,000 a month to meet his expenses.

“So actually, having these submissions indicates a level of transparency and a fulfillment of a key requirement of FATF [Financial Action Task Force]. So, we welcome this step,” she added.

India had strongly criticised the UN decision when it was announced this week, blaming Pakistan for allowing a UN-designated terrorist to draw money from a banned account.

Saeed is not only a UN-designated global terrorist but the US Department of Treasury has also declared him a Specially Designated Global Terrorist and has since 2012, offered a $10 million reward for his arrest.

Two other people who also sought, and were granted, similar concessions from the committee are Haji Mohammed Ashraf and Zafar Iqbal.

Pakistan froze Saeed’s bank accounts in compliance with a UNSC resolution seeking such a ban.

UNSC resolution 1452 allows exemptions for globally designated terrorists to access their ‘frozen’ bank accounts for meeting basic expenses.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1507932/allowing-hafiz-saeed-to-access-frozen-accounts-legal-says-us

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UN secy general reaffirms support to Imran on Kashmir

Sep 29, 2019

NEW YORK: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reaffirmed his support to Prime Minister Imran Khan to help facilitate a peaceful solution over the humanitarian crisis in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).

Imran met the UNSG at the 74th UN General Assembly session in New York on Friday and commanded his ‘clear articulation of the UN position on Kashmir dispute.’

In the meeting with the PM, Antonio Guterres reiterated his deep concern over the human rights violations in IOK and reaffirmed that he would remain engaged on the issue.

According to Radio Pakistan, the premier briefed Guterres on the 55-day long siege of over 8 million Kashmiris amidst communication blackout imposed by the Indian government.

“Such draconian lockdown has no parallel in recent history and the need for its immediate lifting could not be stressed enough,” said PM Imran rejecting India’s illegal and unilateral actions of August 5.

The premier stressed that India’s recent actions represented a new chapter of intensified human rights abuses. He also noted that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had comprehensively documented the previous gross human rights violations by India in occupied Kashmir.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/09/28/un-secy-general-reiterates-concern-over-kashmir-situation/

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Three killed, including opposition politician, in blast in Pakistan's Balochistan province

Sep 28, 2019

QUETTA: A blast in Pakistan's southwestern province of Balochistan killed three, including an opposition political leader, on Saturday afternoon, police and officials said.

Maulana Mohamad Hanif, Deputy Secretary General of the opposition party Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), was among those killed in the town of Chaman, nor far from the Afghan border, District Commissioner Mohammad Bashir said.

Police told Reuters that unknown perpetrators planted an improvised explosive device on a motorbike parked in front of a business centre and detonated it when Hanif left the building.

"Maulana Muhammad Hanif was the target of the bomb blast,” senior police officer Muhammad Iqbal said.

No groups have yet taken responsibility for the explosion, which injured several and damaged nearby buildings and shops.

Hanif was a senior member of the Islamist JUI-F party, which opposes Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government and was planning an anti-government march on the country's capital, Islamabad, next month.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/three-killed-including-opposition-politician-in-blast-in-pakistans-balochistan-province/articleshow/71352419.cms

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Pakistan stops sending postal mails to India

Sep 28, 2019

CHANDIGARH: Pakistan has stopped sending postal mails to India since the tensions between the neighbours heightened amidst the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, it was learnt on Saturday.

Media reports quoting Ajay Kumar Roy, Deputy Director-General with the Department of Posts in India, said Pakistan's customs department in an order on August 23 stopped both export and import of mails.

The unilateral order came into effect on August 27.

Letters and publications originating from Pakistan were earlier mailed to India via Saudi Arabia airlines, a report added.

Chandigarh-based Indo-Pak peace activist Chanchal Manohar Singh told IANS that the stopping of the postal service is a gross violation of human rights.

"It is also a setback for the literary world in India. People in Punjab were fond of reading 'Punjab Dey Rang', a quarterly magazine published in Gurmukhi script from Lahore and now it has stopped coming," Singh, who took 18 delegations to Pakistan and received five from Pakistan in 15 years, said.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-stops-sending-postal-mails-to-india/articleshow/71350787.cms

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NAB summons JUI-F leader Durrani, son in ‘corruption case’

Amir Wasim

September 29, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Tainted with allegations that it’s conducting a political witch hunt in the country, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has issued notices to Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Akram Khan Durrani and his son Zahid to appear before it next week in connection with an inquiry against them on corruption charges and for allegedly accumulating assets beyond their known sources of income.

The NAB notices, copies of which are available with Dawn, say that Durrani had been directed to appear before investigation officer (IO) and deputy director Mohammad Adeel Akhtar in the NAB Rawalpindi Office on Oct 7 whereas Zahid, MNA from Bannu, had been asked to appear before the same officer on Oct 8.

Both father and son are facing the same charges of keeping “the assets beyond known sources of income” and allegedly committing “corruption in two housing projects announced by the Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation”.

Durrani is the convener of the opposition’s Rahbar Committee and he has been issued the notice by NAB two days after his meeting with the leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party on the issue of the anti-government long march to Islamabad for which the JUI-F had already given a call.

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has recently stated that his party plans to hold the protest march between Oct 15 and 31.

Durrani, who is also the leader of the opposition in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, had already appeared before NAB Rawalpindi Office in the same case on April 11 and was questioned over the allotment of six plots in Islamabad’s Kurri Road for mosques. The NAB officials had also given him a questionnaire. His son, however, has received NAB notice for the first time.

Durrani had served as the federal minister for housing and works during the last Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government. He was the chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa when the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal ruled the province after the 2002 elections.

He had lost the National Assembly elections last year from his native Bannu against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman and now Prime Minister Imran Khan, but managed to win the provincial assembly seat.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1507933/nab-summons-jui-f-leader-durrani-son-in-corruption-case

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Pakistan can fill gaps for the UK after Brexit, says envoy

Atika Rehman

September 28, 2019

LONDON: Brexit can provide an opportunity for Pakistan in trade and overseas employment, Pakistan’s High Commission to the United Kingdom Nafees Zakaria said in a conversation with Dawn.

“There has to be a proper market study about demands and gaps [in the United Kingdom] after Brexit,” Mr Zakariya said. “This is where an opportunity for Pakistan would arise. We are looking what is available in Pakistan that could be useful here.”

Mr Zakaria gave the example of how Pakistan’s surplus human resources could benefit the UK, which will look to fill jobs. “It’s not just specific to any one particular segment. The jobs could be for doctors, nurses, IT professionals etc.”

He added that Pakistani commodities can become useful in the UK when demand for competitively-priced items increases.

The high commissioner’s comments come as the Boris Johnson-led government is pushing for a no-deal Brexit, which means the UK would no longer be a member of the EU and would have no trade agreement. If Mr Johnson succeeds, the move could dramatically impact the UK’s trade relationship with the EU.

Analysts fear that the price of imported goods in shops for Britons could go up as a result and that some British-made products may be rejected by the EU because certification might be required. Manufacturers could also move their operations to the EU to avoid delays for items coming from across the border.

Mr Zakaria expressed satisfaction with UK MPs’ response to Pakistan highlighting the Kashmir issue.

“If you look at the level of concern that has been raised by parliamentarians across parties, it is unprecedented,” he said. He added that more than 100 MPs have written to their own leadership, leaders in the UN as well as the Indian leadership expressing concern about the humanitarian crisis in Kashmir.

“They have not stopped at writing letters, they have talked about it on social media as well,” he said.

Mr Zakaria says the massive turnout at pro-Kashmir rallies in the UK is a testament to the positive response the British community has given to the crisis in Kashmir.

When asked about the controversy surrounding Nasir Butt, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader who said he was denied entry to the high commission a week ago, the ambassador said. “We don’t discriminate on the basis of political affiliation. He added: “We have a set procedure, anyone who wants a consular facility has to set up an online appointment. He did not have an online appointment, so he was politely asked to get an appointment.”

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1507766

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Pakistan hits back at India’s response to PM Imran’s UNGA speech

September 29, 2019

NEW YORK: Pakistan hit back strongly in response to Indian reply to Prime Minister Imran Khan's historic speech at the global forum.

Pakistan submitted a rejoinder to the United Nations General Assembly Saturday exposing the ugly face of Narendra Modi government.

First Secretary of the Indian External Affairs Ministry Vidisha Maitra while excersing her right to reply had said, "Rarely has the General Assembly witnessed such misuse, rather abuse, of an opportunity to reflect. Words matter in diplomacy. Invocation of phrases such as 'pogrom', 'bloodbath', 'racial superiority', 'pick up the gun' and 'fight to the end' reflect a medieval mindset and not a 21st-century vision."

In response, Zulqarnain Chheena, a diplomat of the Pakistani mission, while exercising his right to reply said PM Imran had exposed the real cruel face of Indian state terrorism before the world community.

Chheena said India is committing state terrorism in occupied Jammu and Kashmir for the last thirty years.

He added the Indian government was carrying forward the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) agenda. “The killers of Mahatma Gandhi are now ruining the secular face of India in occupied Kashmir,” he asserted.

Chheena further said Pakistan arrested Indian spy Kulbushan Yadev who admitted involvement in various incidents of terrorism inside Pakistan.

He added, PM Imran in his speech to the UNGA, highlighted Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir and on minorities inside India.

PM Imran in his address to UNGA on Friday, heavily criticised Indian PM Narendra Modi and his party’s ultra-nationalist hardline style of governance.

The prime minister said that India ended the special status of occupied Kashmir, flouting 11 resolutions of the UN Security Council.

“It is the responsibility of the UN to ensure that Kashmiris get their right to self-determination,” PM Imran said.

Full report at:

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/533801-pm-imrans-unga-speech-pakistan-hits-back-at-indias-response

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PM Imran leaves for Pakistan by commercial flight after historic UNGA address

September 29, 2019

UNITED NATIONS: Prime Minister Imran Khan departed for Riyadh by a commercial flight on his way back to Pakistan on Saturday afternoon after his special plane had to turn back to New York with a technical fault last evening.

The prime minister, who was accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, was seen off at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport by Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Maleeha Lodhi.

On Friday evening, technicians tried but could not fix the problem in the special plane, which was placed at his disposal by the Saudi government, after it landed back in New York.

Officials said it was then decided to return to Roosevelt Hotel where the prime minister had been staying during his seven-day visit to New York, and to take a regular Saudi Airlines flight Saturday morning for his return journey, as he was anxious to visit the earthquake-hit areas and families of the victims.

Full report at:

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/533424-pm-imran-departs-for-pakistan-from-new-york-by-commercial-flight

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PM courageously presents Kashmir issue in UNGA: Faisal Javed

Sep 29, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Senator Faisal Javed on Sunday lauded that the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) saying he courageously highlighted the Kashmir dispute.

Faisal Javed while talking to a private news channel said, the historic speech of PM did not only reflect desires, feelings and aspirations of Kashmiri people but also expressed the desire of lasting peace and stability in the region.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/09/29/pm-imran-khan-courageously-presents-kashmir-issue-in-unga-faisal-javed/

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Sikhs holding foreign passports to get 45-day multiple Pakistani visa

Sep 29, 2019

LAHORE: Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar on Saturday announced that the federal government has decided to issue 45-day multiple visa to Sikhs having foreign passport other than the Indian passports.

While talking to a delegation led by Minister for Minorities’ Affairs and Human Rights Punjab Ejaz Alam and Minority MPA Sardar Mahindar Pal Singh, Sarwar said that as per promise made in the first International Sikh Convention, issuance of multiple visas for Sikh pilgrims holding foreign passports other than the Indian passports is going to be started.

Sarwar said that historical steps are being taken for arrangements to celebrate the 550th anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak and 10,000 Sikhs will simultaneously arrive in Pakistan for very first time. PM Imran Khan will inaugurate Kartarpur corridor in second week of November under any circumstances.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/09/28/sikhs-holding-foreign-passports-to-get-45-day-multiple-pakistani-visa/

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JUI-F leader among three dead in Chaman blast

Sep 29, 2019

QUETTA: At least three people, including a leader of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), were killed and more than a dozen others injured in an explosion that rocked Chaman in Balochistan’s Qilla Abdullah district on Saturday.

According to police, the bomb was an improvised explosive device (IED) which was planted in a motorcycle parked on the roadside.

The explosion initially left Maulana Muhammad Hanif, a central leader of the JUI-F, critically injured. He was being shifted to Quetta when he succumbed to his injuries on the way to the hospital. Police said Hanif was the target of the attack.

The blast occurred on Taj Road in Chaman, which is located just kilometres away from the country’s border with Afghanistan, and shattered windows in nearby buildings.

The dead include a 12-year-old child.

Chaman is considered a sensitive town in Balochistan as it shares a border with Afghanistan’s volatile Kandahar province.

JUI-F leaders have been targeted in attacks in Balochistan in the past as well. In May 2017, JUI-F leader and former Senate deputy chairman Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri had suffered injuries in a suicide attack on his convoy in the Mastung area. At least 28 people were killed in the attack and 39 others were injured.

In 2014, the party chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had survived a suicide attack in Quetta when he was returning after addressing a public meeting at Sadiq Shaheed Ground.

VIOLENCE IN BALOCHISTAN:

Balochistan —long been plagued by an insurgency and targetted killings – is reeling under a fresh wave of terrorism, as Baloch insurgents and other religious outfits have ratcheted up attacks in the restive province, targetting LEAs and minority Shias, respectively.

In May alone, the province faced at least six terror attacks, including an attack on non-native labourers working in Dera Murad Jamali.

On May 24, at least three people were killed and over a dozen injured when a mosque was targetted in Quetta’s Pashtoonabad area.

On May 14, three labourers, reportedly from Sindh province, were killed in a targeted attack.  No one claimed responsibility for the attacked.

On May 13, at least four policemen were killed and several others wounded after a bomb attack targeted their vehicles while they stood guard outside a mosque in Quetta.

On May 11, militants belonging to the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) stormed a five-star hotel in Gwadar, leaving five people, including a navy soldier, dead. The operation to clear the hotel took one day. The attack was targeted at Chinese investors allegedly present at the hotel.

On May 10, two miners and three Frontier Corps personnel were killed in an attack and a subsequent landmine blast in the Khost area of Harnai district.

On May 9 –the same day a blast had rocked Lahore— three people, including a tribal elder, were killed in Qila Abdullah blast.

In April, the province fared no better either, with two major blasts targeting law enforcers and minority Hazara community separately.

On April 12, at least 20 people were killed and 48 wounded by a powerful suicide blast apparently targeting the Hazara community at a crowded fruit market in Quetta.

A faction of the Taliban claimed the attack. The group said it collaborated with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which has been behind numerous bloody attacks in Pakistan. There was no immediate confirmation from LeJ.

On the same day, two civilians were killed and 10 injured in the evening as an improvised explosive device (IED) had gone off when FC vehicle was passing through a market.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/09/28/three-dead-dozen-wounded-in-chaman-blast/

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India

 

As Turkey sides with Pakistan, PM Modi meets its rivals

Sep 29, 2019

NEW DELHI: In a blunt message to Turkey which has endorsed Pakistan's aggressive stand on J&K, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met leaders of its rivals - Greece, Cyprus and Armenia - before starting for home from the US.

Soon after his address to UN General Assembly, Modi met Nicos Anastasiades, President of Cyprus. Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 and wrested the latter's northern part which was proclaimed to be an independent entity, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

During his meeting with Anastasiades, Modi "reiterated India's consistent support for the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of Republic of Cyprus", a position which is certain to infuriate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who has sided with Pakistan.

Modi also met Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of Greece which is locked in a bitter dispute with Turkey over who should control islets in Aegean Sea. Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia, which holds Turkey responsible for genocide of lakhs of its nationals, was another leader who met Modi.

Senior sources in the government made it clear that the three meetings were designed to send a message to Erdogan about India's resentment and its determination not to brook any opposition to the stand about J&K being an "internal matter". The stern message was amplified when India attacked China, another ally of Pakistan, over China -Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The twin retaliations also make it clear that Modi's decision not to mention J&K or Pakistan in his UNGA address has to do with a tactical calculation not to engage in a verbal fracas with Imran Khan. It reflected the confidence of a leader who has emerged stronger after the Lok Sabha polls, the second consecutive win fortifying his conviction about a groundswell for his "no compromise-on national security" plank.

The PM highlighted his improved numbers at the "Howdy Modi" event at Houston+ , where he also emphasised the two-thirds parliamentary support for his decisions on J&K, and at UNGA-the purpose clearly being to convey unequivocally that the changes in the border state were "off-limits" for the international community. Instead of scuffling with Khan, Modi chose to take the higher diplomatic ground focusing on contemporary global concerns like climate change, terrorism and public health. The "when they go low, we go high" playbook saw the Prime Minister invoking Gandhi and Buddha and helped his efforts to stay away from the fray personally.

The tactic paid off also because of Imran Khan's rant. Help from Pakistan Prime Minister also came in the form of his reference to the use of "Hindu terror" by Sushil Kumar Shinde, Union home minister under UPA. Khan's accusation that the Modi government had "violated Indian Constitution" can have repercussions for how Congress proceeds with its opposition to the neutering of Article 370 and the Modi government's handling of the aftermath.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/as-turkey-sides-with-pakistan-pm-modi-meets-its-rivals/articleshow/71355871.cms

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Congress stands by govt's reply to Pakistan PM's speech at UNGA

Sep 28, 2019

NEW DELHI: The Congress on Saturday said it stands by the government's reply to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's address at the UN General Assembly but questioned some BJP leaders for "publicizing" Khan's speech.

Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said the party will wait for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to tell the nation about his US trip before commenting further.

Khan had on Friday delivered his maiden speech at the 74th session of the UNGA and in his almost 50-minute address, devoted half of his time to India and Kashmir, drumming up hysteria over nuclear war.

"As far as Pakistan PM Imran Khan's speech is concerned, it was replied to, in an erudite, to the point manner by our young First Secretary at the permanent Indian Mission at UN, Ms Vidisha Maitra.

"The entire nation as indeed the Congress Party stands by the reply furnished by her and the government of India," Shrinate said at the party headquarters here.

Strongly hitting back at Khan's rant at the UN General Assembly, Maitra has said Indian citizens do not need anyone else to speak on their behalf and "least of all those who have built an industry of terrorism from the ideology of hate."

"Pakistan is a country that has shrunk the size of its minority community from 23 per cent in 1947 to 3 per cent today and has subjected Christians, Sikhs, Ahmadiyas, Hindus, Shias, Pashtuns, Sindhis and Balochis to draconian blasphemy laws, systemic persecution, blatant abuse and forced conversions," Maitra added.

The Congress spokesperson said it was "astounding" that importance was being given to the statements of a person (Imran) who does not even know whether Narendra Modi is the Prime Minister or President of India.

During his marathon speech at the UNGA, Khan had goofed once and called Prime Minister Modi as the "president".

"It may suit the agenda of an enemy nation like Pakistan to give credence to the statements of its PM Imran Khan, but for the BJP to be publicizing Imran Khan's statements is extremely devious to say the least," the Congress spokesperson said.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/congress-stands-by-govts-reply-to-pakistan-pms-speech-at-unga/articleshow/71354103.cms

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We wanted world to see RSS and India as one, Imran did it: Sangh

Sep 28, 2019

NEW DELHI: A day after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan attacked the RSS at the UN, the Hindutva organisation on Saturday said he has made the outfit's name synonymous with India and targeted the Sangh as it is against terrorism.

Senior Rashtriya Swayam Sewak functionary Krishna Gopal also added wryly that Khan has ended up spreading the RSS's name and prayed that the Pakistan prime minister does not stop now.

"The RSS is only in India and for India. It has no branch anywhere else in the world. Why is Pakistan angry with us? It means if it is angry with Sangh, then it is angry with India. The RSS and India have now become synonymous.

"We also wanted that the world should see India and the RSS as one and the same, and not two separate entitles. Our Imran sahab has done this job very well and we congratulate him for that. He is spreading our name," the RSS joint general secretary said.

Gopal, who was speaking at an event here, said people who are victims of terrorism or opposed to it now realise that the RSS is also against it.

That is why, he said, Khan is attacking the RSS.

"It is getting so much of fame without doing much and we pray that he should not stop now," Gopal said at the Fifth Annual Vyaakhyaan Mala 2019 here.

Speaking at the event, the theme of which was 'religion', Gopal said spirituality and love to accomplish tasks is the real religion.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/we-wanted-world-to-see-rss-and-india-as-one-imran-did-it-sangh/articleshow/71352573.cms

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Displaying raw courage, jawan killed intercepting terrorist who tried to flee

Sep 28, 2019

JAMMU: Naik Rajindra Singh died exhibiting exemplary courage when he intercepted a terrorist trying to flee the Batote encounter site in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ramban district on Saturday.

“Today at about 0715 hours (7.15 am) at Km 7 of NH 244, a road opening party (ROP) of the Indian Army, on receipt of specific input, intercepted a group of three terrorists. On being challenged, the terrorists opened fire and ran towards Batote town,” the defence spokesperson in Jammu, Lt Col Devender Anand, said.

The terrorists then entered a house in Batote town and took a man hostage inside. “In order to secure the safe release of the hostage, the security forces exercised the utmost restraint and even asked the terrorists to surrender. However, the terrorists continued to fire from inside the house,” Lt Col Anand said.

He said that in this operation, codenamed “Tri Shakti”, Naik Rajendra Singh, an Indian Army soldier, “was critically injured and died when he in a display of raw courage intercepted a terrorist who was trying to flee”.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/displaying-raw-courage-jawan-killed-intercepting-terrorist-who-tried-to-flee/articleshow/71354567.cms

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Hizbul militant wanted in BJP, RSS leaders’ murders killed in Jammu and Kashmir encounter

Sep 29, 2019

A top ‘commander’ of the Hizbul Mujahideen, wanted in connection with the murders of a senior BJP leader and an RSS functionary, was killed along with two other terrorists in a nine-hour operation in Ramban district of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday.

A soldier of the Indian Army was also killed in the first major gun battle since the Centre’s August 5 move to divest the state of its special status and bifurcate it into two Union territories.

The soldier who died was identified as Naik Rajinder Singh of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan.

The three terrorists armed with AK assault rifles, under-barrel grenade launchers and grenades were identified as Osama, Haroon and Zahid of Doda region.

Osama was accused in the killings of senior BJP leader Anil Parihar and his brother Ajit Parihar on November 1, 2018, and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) functionary Chanderkant Sharma and his personal security officer on April 9, officials told news agency PTI.

They were gunned down after they tried to escape from a house where they had barged in while being chased by security forces following a brief exchange of fire in Batote area along Jammu-Kishtwar national highway early on Saturday morning, officials said. The house-owner, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker, who had been taken hostage by the terrorists in Batote and his family, was rescued by security forces during the course of the protracted gun battle, which also left two policemen injured.

Osama was also wanted in three weapon snatching incidents in Kishtwar town and was carrying a reward of several lakhs of rupees.

The success for the security forces came days after the inspector general of police (Jammu) Mukesh Singh said four cases of murders and weapon snatching in Kishtwar district had been solved with the arrest of three Hizbul Mujahideen activists.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/hizbul-militant-wanted-in-bjp-rss-leaders-murders-killed-in-jammu-and-kashmir-encounter/story-LUh787FzsImBNTDMPQeWrJ.html

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Imran on RSS: BJP seeks apology, Congress says Pakistan PM given undue importance

September 29, 2019

The BJP on Saturday sought an apology from the Congress after Pakistan PM Imran Khan in his UN speech said that the erstwhile Congress home minister had stated that the RSS was training terrorists in its camps. The Congress attacked the BJP for giving undue importance to Khan’s speech and asked whose agenda was being served — “Mother India’s or Imran Khan’s”.

“What is astounding is that there are certain people with vested interests who are deeming it fit to give importance to the statements of a person who does not even know if Modi-ji is the PM or President of India. It may suit the agenda of an enemy nation like Pakistan to give credence to the statements of its PM Mr Imran Khan, but for the BJP and certain segments of the media to be publicising Imran Khan’s statements is extremely devious to say the least,” a Congress statement said.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra attacked the Congress for “helping Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in maligning India’s image” at the UN. Patra referred to Khan’s reference to the Congress in his speech while attacking the RSS. Khan had said that the erstwhile Congress Home Minister had said that RSS had been training terrorists in its camps. Patra sought an apology from former PM Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and former home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.

The Congress said Khan had been given a befitting reply at the UN by Indian diplomat Vidisha Maitra and that the party stands by it. “As far as Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s speech is concerned, it was replied to, in an erudite, to-the-point manner by our young First Secretary at the permanent Indian Mission at UN, Ms Vidisha Maitra. The entire Nation as indeed the Congress party stands by the reply furnished by her and the Government of India,” the Congress statement said. It said the party was waiting for the Prime Minister to return and tell the nation about his trip to the US and UN General Assembly. “We will react after that,” the statement said.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/imran-khan-rss-bjp-seeks-apology-congress-says-pakistan-pm-given-undue-importance-6037597/

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Petition in Bihar court seeks Imran Khan’s trial for UN speech

September 28, 2019

A complaint was filed in a court here on Saturday seeking that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan be tried for waging war against the country and other offences for his speech at the UN General Assembly.

Sudhir Kumar Ojha, a lawyer, who earlier filed petitions against Bollywood actors and top political leaders, moved his latest application in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Surya Kant Tiwari.

In the petition, the 50-year-old advocate objected to Khan’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Friday in which he had spoken of the Narendra Modi government’s actions in Kashmir and about its possible fallouts.

The matter is likely to be heard on October 24.

Ojha accused Khan of having indulging in war mongering and prayed for directions to the police to lodge an FIR against the cricketer-turned-politician.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/petition-in-bihar-court-seeks-imran-khans-trial-for-un-speech-6037361/

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India rebuts Pakistan, China over reference on Kashmir as Modi concludes whirlwind US visit

September 28, 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday concluded his whirlwind trip to the United States after addressing the 74th session of the United National General Assembly (UNGA), urging the international community to give a new direction to multilateralism and to the United Nations. This was Modi’s first address to the global summit after returning to power earlier this year.

Keeping his speech centred around the government’s schemes back home, the Prime Minister said that when a developing nation successfully completes the world’s biggest cleanliness drive, builds more than 11 crore toilets in just 5 years for its citizens, then it serves as an inspiration for the entire world.

Meanwhile, Pakistan continued to make overtures to the international community over issues surrounding Kashmir as Imran Khan reiterated the nuclear threat.

India calls for global front against terror

Describing terrorism as one of the biggest challenges not just for itself but the entire world, without naming Pakistan, Modi speaking at slot number 4 from the UNGA dias said, “We believe that this is one of the biggest challenges, not for any single country, but for the entire world and humanity. The lack of unanimity amongst us on the issue of terrorism dents those very principles that are the basis for the creation of the UN.”

PM Modi also highlighted New Delhi’s contribution towards the UN peacekeeping mission and said that if there’s any country that has made the biggest sacrifice in the mission, it is India. Talking about the climate change and environmental emergencies facing the planet, Modi highlighted the decision to ban single-use plastic, conservation of water and its availability in 150 million homes to 20 million houses for the poor.

On global warming, the Prime Minister said that even though India’s contribution to global warming in terms of per-capita emissions is very low, it is at the forefront of the response against it. He highlighted steps taken by his government to fight climate change, including the 450 GW of renewable energy target and the formation of the International Solar Alliance.

Pakistan rakes up Kashmir, issues Nuclear threat

After failing to create an international momentum, Pakistan tried to rake up the issue of Jammu and Kashmir at the UNGA with Imran Khan using the global platform to criticise India. Addressing the assembly for the first time after coming to power, Khan repeated, “there are 900,000 troops there, they haven’t come, as Narendra Modi says, for the prosperity of Kashmir…These 900,000 troops, what are they going to do? When they come out, there will be a bloodbath,” Khan told the UNGA in New York.

“What is going to happen when the curfew is lifted will be a bloodbath. Has he thought through what happens then?” Khan said, alleging “the people will be out in the streets and what will the soldiers do? They will shoot them.” Khan said that if things continue along this road, a face-off between two nuclear-armed nations was all but inevitable.

Khan said that Pakistan had decided to “dismantle what was left of these terrorist groups”, and asked the UN to send observers. Meanwhile, the US asked Pakistan why it was only bothered about the human rights of Muslims in Kashmir and is not highlighting the “horrific conditions” that continue to exist for the members of the community throughout China.

Reserving its right to reply, India shot back at Khan and said that his threat of unleashing nuclear devastation “qualifies as brinkmanship not statesmanship”. “Prime Minister Khan’s threat of unleashing nuclear devastation qualifies as brinksmanship, not statesmanship. Even coming from the leader of a country that has monopolised the entire value chain of the industry of terrorism, Prime Minister Khan’s justification of terrorism was brazen and incendiary,” Vidisha Maitra, First Secretary MEA told the UNGA.

China refers to Kashmir, Ladakh at UNGA, India rebuts

India took strong exception to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s reference to Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh in his address at the UNGA, asserting that the region is an integral part of the country and all nations should respect its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Wang told the UN General Assembly that the “dispute” should be peacefully and properly addressed in accordance with the UN Charter, UN Security Council resolutions and the bilateral agreement. The Chinese foreign minister also stressed that no actions should be taken that would unilaterally change the “status quo” of Kashmir.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/unga-narendra-modi-imran-khan-china-kashmir-ladakh-united-nations-6036997/

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Mideast

 

Yemen vows to end attempts by Iran-backed Houthi militia to divide country

September 29, 2019

UNITED NATIONS: Yemen’s new foreign minister vowed on Saturday that the government will “end any attempt to tear apart our homeland.”

He sharply criticized Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who control much of the country’s north and the United Arab Emirates, which supports forces seeking their own nation in the south.

Mohammed Abdullah Al-Hadrami called Iran “the main sponsor of terrorism throughout the world” and urged an end to “this Iranian-Houthi coup d’etat in Yemen.”

He thanked Saudi Arabia for helping his internationally recognized government resist Houthi “militias who are dreaming of a theocracy.”

Al-Hadrami told the UN General Assembly Saturday that attacks he said were carried out by southern separatists have also “undermined the stability of our homeland.”

A Saudi-led coalition that included the UAE has been fighting the Houthis since 2015 on behalf of the internationally recognized government. The civil war has killed tens of thousands of people and sparked the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in the Arab world’s most impoverished country.

Al-Hadrami said he hopes that “we will meet next year at a time when peace will have reigned in Yemen.”

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1561336/middle-east

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Yemeni FM slams Iran, Houthi militia during UN General Assembly address

29 September 2019

In just a few years, the Houthi militia group has destroyed the dreams of all Yemenis for freedom, Yemeni Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Hadrami said during his address to the UN General Assembly.

“Today we are gravely wounded as a consequence of the war imposed by the Houthi militia, a sectarian army is exercising torture, exclusion and marginalizing and perpetrating a myriad of crimes to achieve their end,” al-Hadrami said during his speech in New York on Saturday.

“Iran and its military branches in the Arab region, including the Houthis and Hezbollah, represent a grave threat to our international security. Iran is a rogue state which fails to respect international law, honors its obligations as a member of the United Nations,” al-Hadrami added.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2019/09/29/Yemeni-FM-slams-Houthi-militia-during-UNGA-speech.html

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UAE FM: The Iranian nuclear deal did not correct Tehran’s behavior

28 September 2019

The nuclear deal Iran signed with global powers has not corrected Tehran’s behavior, the United Arab Emirates’ Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan told the UN General Assembly.

The UAE said that the nuclear deal should have taken into consideration the views of regional countries “who knows its [Iran’s] history well.”

“The agreement should have also addressed all aspects of Iran’s behavior, including its interference in the internal affairs of states, its development of a ballistic missile program and its provision of arms to terrorist groups,” al-Nahyan said on Saturday.

The UAE also reiterated its demand for sovereignty and legitimate right over the three islands – Greater Tunb, and the Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa – currently occupied by Iran “in flagrant violation of international law and the UN charter.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2019/09/29/UAE-FM-The-Iranian-nuclear-deal-did-not-correct-Tehran-s-behavior.html

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US 'won't be able to finish' war against Iran: Zarif

Sep 29, 2019

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the US has already initiated a cyber war against Iran, but it could not "finish" a full-fledged war if it started one against the country.

In an interview with NBC's "Meet The Press," which will air in full on Sunday, Zarif referred to Stuxnet, a malicious computer worm that is widely believed to be made by the US and Israel.

"There is a cyber war going on. The United States started that cyber war, with attacking our nuclear facilities in a very dangerous, irresponsible way that could've killed millions of people," he said.

"There is a cyber war and Iran is engaged in that cyber war," he added. "Any war that the United States starts it won't be able to finish."

The Washington Post reported in June 2012 that US spy services and Israel’s military had worked together to launch the Stuxnet virus attack on a uranium enrichment facility at Natanz, Iran.

Asked whether Iran was attempting to interfere with the 2020 US presidential election, Zarif said the Islamic Republic doesn't have a preference in the race.

"We don't have a preference in your election to intervene in that election," he said. "We don't interfere in the internal affairs of another country,"

The interview comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US over the latter's provocative moves in the Middle East.

President Donald Trump has said the US is “locked and loaded” and ready to respond to recent attacks on Saudi oil installations, which his administration has blamed on Iran without providing any evidence.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/29/607401/Iran-Javad-Zarif-war

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US sanctions on Iran's access to medicines tantamount to economic terrorism: FM Zarif

Sep 28, 2019

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the United States’ sanctions targeting Iran's access to medicines and treatment services amount to economic terrorism, calling on the international community to compel the US to quit its policy.

"The US’ indiscriminate policy of maximum pressure has placed certain restrictions on Iranian citizens," IRNA quoted Zarif as saying in an address to a meeting on a public insurance program held on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Friday.

He added that the US’ maximum pressure policy has barred Iranian citizens from carrying out financial transactions in the medical sector, preventing them from purchasing medical equipment and instruments.

The Iranian government's efforts to reduce the impacts of such sanctions on the lives of Iranian people have been seriously undermined by the US administration's cruel and all-out war on Iranians, Zarif said.

The top Iranian diplomat emphasized that despite facing restrictions Tehran has provided some neighboring and regional countries with health and medical aid.

He emphasized that the US sanctions are in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorses a nuclear deal signed between Iran and major world powers in 2015.

Tensions have been running high between Iran and the United States since May 2018, when US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew his country from a multilateral nuclear deal with Iran, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Since quitting the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Trump has been running a "maximum pressure" campaign to force Iran into negotiating a new deal that addresses its ballistic missile program and regional influence.

Iran, which had been fully complying with all of its commitments despite the US withdrawal and the Europeans’ failure to abide by their obligations under the deal, began scaling down its commitments in early July.

In an interview with the National Public Radio (NPR) on Sunday, the Iranian foreign minister slammed the United States’ aggressive behavior towards the Islamic Republic, as characterized by Washington’s economic war against Tehran through the re-imposition of tough sanctions, noting that Iranians cannot be brought to their knees through such pressures.

"Abandon the illusion that Iran can be defeated by pressure," Zarif said, adding, "We are resisting an unprovoked aggression by the United States."

An Iranian pharmacology professor has said that the patient cancers in Iran are losing their lives as a result of the US’ economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/28/607371/Zarif-US-sanctions-medicines-New-York-economic-terrorism

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US, Turkey must end illegal military presence in Syria: FM Muallem

Sep 28, 2019

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem has slammed as “illegal” the military presence of the US and Turkey in northern Syria, demanding an immediate withdrawal of all foreign forces from his country.

"The United States and Turkey maintain an illegal military presence in northern Syria," Muallem said in his address to the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters on Saturday.

“Any foreign forces operating in our territories without our authorization are occupying forces and must withdraw immediately,” he said, asserting, “If they refuse, we have the right to take any and all countermeasures authorized under international law.” The United States has kept around 1,000 troops in Syria with the purported aim of tackling Daesh terrorists. Turkey, too, has already launched two military incursions into northern Syria to stop the advance of Daesh and Kurdish militants.

Muallem also criticized Ankara-Washington talks on establishing a so-called safe zone in the area, saying what they are planning is a “violation of international law and the UN Charter.”

Last month, the US and Turkey agreed to set up the buffer zone to the east of the Euphrates River between the Turkish border and Syrian areas controlled by US-backed Kurdish militias, which Ankara views as terrorists affiliated with the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group.

The zone is also said to be aimed at settling around one million displaced Syrians.

The Syrian government — which has authorized neither the Turkish nor the US military activities on its soil — has slammed the US-Turkish agreement, labeling it as a violation of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as international law.

Muallem also lashed out at Turkey for providing “terrorists with all forms of support, including weapons that are more sophisticated,” adding that Ankara’s action undermines all agreements reached during the Astana talks in Kazakhstan.

“If Turkey is truly committed to the security of its borders and the unity of Syria, as it claims, it must choose whether to respect the Astana understandings and the bilateral agreements on counter-terrorism to secure the borders and to withdraw its forces from Syria, or to be the aggressor and the occupier – and to face the consequences,” he said.

Muallem said that “any agreement about any part of Syria without the consent of its government is condemned and rejected” by Damascus.

He said a peace process should be owned and led by Syrians without any foreign interference.

'No deadlines' on constitution committee

Muallem said that "no deadlines" should be imposed on a constitution-writing committee formed to try to find a political settlement to the Arab country's foreign-backed conflict.

“The whole process should be owned and led by Syrians themselves who have the exclusive right of determining their country's future without any foreign intervention or interference,” he said.

"No preconditions must be imposed on the committee, nor should its recommendations be prejudged," Muallem added.

On Monday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres announced the creation of a constitutional committee on Syria that could pave the way for a political solution to the country’s eight-year conflict. Guterres said that the committee, which includes representatives from the government and opposition, would convene in the coming weeks.

"It will be facilitated by the United Nations in Geneva,” he said.

Earlier on Monday, Muallem held a positive and constructive meeting with the United Nations special envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, in Damascus. During the meeting, Muallem reiterated Syria’s adherence to the political process, and reaffirmed his country’s readiness to continue cooperation with the UN special envoy in order to reach a political solution through an intra-Syrian dialogue. Damascus reiterated that the constitutional committee should be a purely Syrian affair to be decided by the Syrian people alone without any foreign interference.

Syria determined to uproot terrorism

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Syrian foreign minister reaffirmed his country’s determination to uproot terrorism.

“We are determined to continue our war against terrorism in all its forms until rooting out the last remaining terrorist,” he said.

He expressed regret that countering terrorism “has yet to become a priority for certain countries that remain deathly silent in the face of brutal terrorism facing countries like my own,” saying “putting an end to this global nightmare, which haunts everyone, requires a genuine international will.”

He hit out at certain countries for using terrorism “as a tool to impose their insidious agendas on the people and governments that reject their external dictates and insist on making their own decisions.”

“If they continue with their approach, terrorism will reemerge stronger than ever before and will threaten everyone without exception, including its supporters and financiers,” he warned.

Israel actions 'flagrant' violation of intl. law

He further blasted the Israeli regime for supporting “terrorism on a daily basis” and launching attacks “on Syrian territories and on the territories of neighboring countries under false pretexts.”

He said that Israel’s actions are “in flagrant violation of international law, the UN Charter, and relevant Security Council Resolutions.”

“These Israeli violations would not continue and escalate if it were not for the blind support of certain countries that are fully responsible for the consequences of Israel’s actions,” he said.

Israel has launched recurrent attacks on Syria in defiance of all international laws and regulations. The regime claims the attacks are targeted at Iranian positions but such raids are widely viewed as a means of support for the Takfiri terrorists, who have been taking stinging blows from the Syrian army in recent years.

Syria has condemned the Israeli attacks while rejecting the regime’s claims about the presence of any Iranian forces in the country.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/28/607381/Syria-FM-Muallem-Turkey-US-terrorism

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3 Saudi brigades destroyed, scores of mercs captured in Najran offensive: Yemeni Army spox

Sep 28, 2019

The spokesman for Yemeni Armed Forces says three Saudi military brigades were completely destroyed after Yemeni Army troops, backed by allied fighters from Popular Committees, mounted a large-scale military offensive in the kingdom’s southern border region of Najran.

Speaking at a press conference in the capital Sana’a on Saturday evening, Brigadier General Yahya Saree described the major and efficient operation, dubbed God's Victory, as the biggest-ever since Saudi Arabia and some of its allies embarked an atrocious military campaign on Yemen more than four years ago, noting that the offensive lasted several months and inflicted dramatic losses – both in terms of military hardware and personnel – upon the enemy, the media bureau of Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement said in a statement.

“The operation resulted in the complete destruction of three military brigades of the enemy (Saudi) forces, seizure of large quantities of military equipment, including hundreds of vehicles and armored vehicles, capture of thousands of enemy forces, mostly traitors and the beguiled (Saudi-sponsored Yemeni militiamen loyal to Yemen's former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi). Hundreds more were killed and wounded in the process as well,” Saree pointed out.

The high-profile Yemeni military official highlighted that Saudi commanders, officers and soldiers are among those captured by Yemeni forces and Popular Committees fighters.

“Only 72 hours after the start of the operation, our forces laid full siege to enemy troops. Three brigades of traitors with units of the Saudi army were completely destroyed, and scores of people taken hostage,” Saree said.

He added, “Under the directives of the leadership [of Ansarullah movement, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi], all prisoners were treated according to the principles of Islam, Yemen’s customs and traditions as well as human ethics. Our forces worked to protect thousands of surrendered enemy forces against retaliatory raids by the coalition of aggression.”

Saree then assured all families of the prisoners that Yemeni forces and their allies would take further measures to save them from harm against Saudi-led airstrikes.

The spokesman for Yemeni Armed Forces went on to say that several specialized units of Yemeni Armed Forces participated in the operation in different geographical areas, and that Yemeni army forces and their allies could wrest control over hundreds of square kilometers of land in Najran.

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

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 91,000  lives over the past four and a half years.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/28/607363/Three-Saudi-brigades-destroyed-1000s-of-mercs-taken-hostage-in-Najran-offensive-Yemeni-Army-spox

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Americans, Europeans have no ‘grasp of Yemenis’ capacity’: Analyst

Sep 28, 2019

The recent Yemeni attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil refining facilities came as a shock to US and European officials since they had no “grasp of the Yemenis’ capacity,” and had always denigrated the impoverished Arab country, says a political analyst from Washington.

“The Europeans and Americans don’t have any grasp of the Yemenis’ capacity, the Europeans and Americans denigrate the Yemenis… They think they are too stupid to fight back, yet they have been fighting for some four and a half years, they think they are too stupid to deal with modern weapons,” Michael Springmann, a Washington-based author and former US diplomat in Saudi Arabia, said at a Friday edition of Press TV’s The Debate program.

“Who knows where the weapons came from, they have just shown that the Saudis and the American defenses and the multi-billion-dollar 21 century weapons that have been sold to them are useless if a group of disgruntled, poor, starving Yemenis get around them and strike at the heart of the Saudi economy,” Springmann added.

The Washington-based author also noted that the Europeans had no choice but to join the United States in pointing the finger of blame at Iran for the attacks since they are dependent on the US and Israel in the fields of politics and security.

“The Europeans don’t know [who was behind the attack] but follow the lead of the United States because the Europeans are weak on political independence and security independence; they are far too tied to the United States, they are far too tied to Israel,” Springmann said.

Michael Lane, the founder of the American Institute for Foreign Policy in Washington, was the other panelist on the program and said US accusations leveled against Tehran was “part of the entire array of pressure that the United States is putting on the economy of Iran.”

On September 14, Yemen’s Ansarullah movement and their allies in the Yemeni army deployed as many as 10 drones to bomb the Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities run by the Saudi state-owned oil company, Aramco.

The unprecedented attack knocked out more than half of Saudi crude output, or five percent of global supply, prompting Saudi and US officials to claim, without any evidence, that it probably originated from Iraq or Iran.

The United States and Saudi Arabia have, to various degrees, blamed Tehran for the attack on Aramco installations.

In a joint statement, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also joined the US and Saudi Arabia in pinning the blame for the attack on Iran.

Tehran has strongly condemned the “destructive” and “provocative” claims made by the E3, warning that the trio will be responsible for the consequences of such “irresponsible” statements.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said it is “highly destructive and provocative” in itself to hold a third government responsible for an attack that was carried out during an all-out war between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, while the latter has claimed responsibility, let alone rushing to conclusions without any probe and only based on “a ridiculous rationale.”

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/28/607334/Yemeni-attack-Saudi-Arabia-refinery-facilities-Michael-Springmann-Yemenis-capacity-Michael-Lane

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North America

 

Only 13% of Americans support US military going to war over Saudi oil field attack: Poll

Sep 28, 2019

Just 13 percent of Americans would support the US military joining Saudi Arabia in a conflict as part of a response to a recent attack on Saudi oil facilities, according to a new poll.

The survey, conducted by the Business Insider news website, asked participants "what, if any, role do you think the US should take in a response to the attack on the Saudi oil facilities?"

The participants were given six options and asked to select the one that comes closest to their view.

The poll found nearly 25 percent of Americans feel "the US should remove itself entirely from the affairs of the region and let Saudi Arabia handle the issue itself."

“There's not significant support the for the US involving itself in a Saudi war or taking military action on its behalf as a result of the Saudi oil attack, even though the incident had massive consequences and impacted 5 percent of the daily global oil supply,” Business Insider said.

A separate Business Insider poll shows that barely one in five Americans view Saudi Arabia as a US ally.

Only 22 percent of adult respondents said Saudi Arabia was an American ally, a figure that held among Democratic and Republican voters, the survey found.

The administration of US President Donald Trump is pressing ahead with plans to deploy a battery of Patriot missile systems as well as a series of advanced radars to Saudi Arabia, a move that officials say is a first step in helping the kingdom protect itself against the kind of attacks that recently destroyed its oil facilities.

On September 14, Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah fighters conducted strikes on two of Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, in Abqaiq and Khurais. The attacks led to a halt in about 50 percent of the Arab kingdom’s crude and gas production, causing a surge in oil prices.

The raid shut down about 50 percent of the kingdom’s crude and gas production, cutting the state oil giant’s crude oil supply by around 5.7 million barrels per day.

The attack, which also cut five percent of the world's oil supply, pushed the typically ignored four-year-long Saudi-led aggression in Yemen into the center stage of international headlines.

Washington and its allies, however, quickly blamed Iran for the attack, ignoring the Saudi onslaught in Yemen and expressing concern regarding the "disruption of global energy supplies".

Tensions have significantly risen as a result of the accusations leveled against Iran, which Tehran has rejected, and there has been speculation that the US may take military or other forms of action against Iran or Iranian interests.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has already warned that a possible military strike against Iran by the US or Saudi Arabia would unleash an “all-out” war in the region.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/28/607329/us-Saudi-attack-oil-war-Business-Insider-poll

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US holding Iranian stem cell scientist for nearly a year without trial

Sep 28, 2019

Top Iranian stem cell scientist Dr. Masoud Soleimani has been behind bars in the United States without trial for nearly a year.

Soleimani, a professor and biomedical researcher at Tarbiat Modares University (TMU) in Tehran, was arrested by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) upon his arrival in the US in October last year.

Soleimani had been invited by the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for leading a research program there, but he was secretly indicted by the FBI, which also canceled his research visa.

According to his Atlanta attorney, Leonard Franco, he has since been held behind bars in a jail in Atlanta without bond.

Prosecutors in Atlanta have accused him and two of his former students of conspiring and attempting to export vials of human growth hormone from the US to Iran without authorization, in violation of US sanctions.

The two students were charged in a court and released after posting bail because they held US citizenship.

According to Soleimani’s lawyer, the human growth hormone is not banned in the US or Iran and was being used “exclusively for medical research,” which is still considered largely exempt from US sanctions.

Meanwhile, the head of Tarbiat Moddares University, Mohammad Taqi Ahmadi, has dismissed prosecutors' claims as “ridiculous and unacceptable,” calling Soleimani’s detention a “harassment operation.”

Earlier this month, Ahmadi expressed deep concern over the dire situation of Dr. Soleimani, saying he was not in desirable conditions in jail and that all academics, even in the US, condemn his detention.

The scientist’s brother, Rasoul, also said professor Soleimani’s health condition had aggravated and his eyesight had gotten worse in detention.

He said that his brother was unaware of his mother’s recent death and was waiting for his release while their father did not know about his brother’s detention.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/28/607360/Iran-stem-cell-professor-Soleimani-US-jail

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Turkey, US hold 7th joint helicopter flight over Syria

28.09.2019

SANLIURFA, Turkey

Turkish and U.S. armed forces conducted the seventh round of joint helicopter flights on Saturday for a planned safe zone east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria.

According to Anadolu Agency correspondents on the ground, two Turkish and two American helicopters took off from Sanliurfa, southeastern Turkey, where the two countries’ armed forces have a joint operations center.

They flew to the Syrian side of the border.

After an hour-long flight, the helicopters returned to the center.

The countries' armed forces had previously done six joint helicopter flights and two land patrols.

According to Turkey’s National Defense Ministry, the joint patrols were conducted as part of an agreement over the planned establishment of a safe zone in northern Syria.

On Aug. 7, Turkish and U.S. military officials agreed to set up a safe zone in northern Syria and develop a peace corridor to facilitate the movement of displaced Syrians who want to return home. They also agreed to establish a joint operations center.

The agreement also envisaged setting up necessary security measures to address Turkey's security concerns, including clearing the zone of the terrorist YPG/PKK, a group the U.S. has sometimes been allied with, over Turkey’s objections.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/turkey-us-hold-7th-joint-helicopter-flight-over-syria/1596569

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America’s light of liberty continues to beckon

September 28, 2019

Tariq A. Al Maeena

The United States continues to remain a beacon of hope to many from around the world seeking refuge from oppression, wars or domestic turmoil. It is a symbol of strength and stability in a world fraught with conflict.

Even though recent times have unearthed a growing resentment against the influx of foreigners and particularly those of colour, immigrants continue to pour in, unnerved by such threats. They sense that they are escaping far worse back from where they came from. Among the thousands of immigrants that line up US shores weekly are many Muslims, who have given up on their countries of birth and are moving on to safer pastures.

The world in recent times has not been kind to Muslims. Witness the decades-long persecution of Palestinians, albeit Muslims and Christians at the hands of the Zionist-fuelled Israelis intent to turn what was once Palestinian lands into an apartheid state where only Jews can exist freely while Palestinians remain locked in concentration camp-like conditions. The acts of terrorism that the Israelis have been engaging in and successfully in spite of several UN resolutions is far worse than all the crimes combined by the despotic white South African regime that was globally sanctioned before Nelson Mandela came to the scene.

In another part of the world, the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar continue to suffer at the hands of the Burmese government intent on erasing all identity of Muslims in a primarily Buddhist country. The term ‘Buddhist terrorism’ came into the scene following the brutality and intense severity of the crimes committed against the innocent Muslim natives of Rakhine in Myanmar at the hands of the frenzied Buddhist mobs and supported by the country’s army, rendering more than one million of them stateless. Murder, torture, and rape has been an ongoing tool against these hapless people to render them stateless, many of whom harbour a glimmer of hope that one day they would be able to escape to a safer harbour, possibly the United States.

Open prison

In India, a bizarre turn of events has turned the once idyllic state of Kashmir into a large, open prison where its citizens are sequestered and not allowed personal freedoms. A region where an estimated 8 million Muslim Kashmiris reside has today turned into a big concentration camp whereby the Indian state has enforced resolutions that are deemed questionable under international law. Acts of violence against the residents have been documented and widely reported in the international press.

In another region of India, Assam, millions of Muslims are on the verge of becoming stateless as the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government is keen on revoking their claim to citizenship due to lack of identity papers. Now, these are poor and illiterate workers who have been born and are living there all their lives. Charges against ethnic cleansing are rife.

Across the narrow strip of water separating India from its southern neighbour, Sri Lankan Muslims today are under threat from another variant of Buddhist terrorism as the fiery band of Sinhalese Buddhist nationalists called the Bodu Bala Sena have descended upon Muslim towns and villages, pillaging Muslim property along the way while government troops looked the other way. The threat to personal safety for Sri Lanka’s two million Muslims remains ongoing, with the government making no apparently solid effort to curb the violence against the Muslim minority.

Earning an honest living

Would anyone living under such oppressive conditions be faulted for trying to escape such terrorism and hope to land someday in the US? A country, which, for the most part, allows an individual to live his or her life based on performance rather than on race or religion? Yes indeed, that is why the beacon of liberty beckons the tired and the helpless, the poor and the oppressed.

But not all immigrants escape external dangers or threats. Some simply arrive in the US to improve their lot in life or to challenge their skills by learning more. Others who have studied there have opted for the simpler ways of life than what they left behind in their home countries. And yet there are some more who simply want to escape the confines of social and traditional bindings in their countries and move to an unfettered society.

Full report at:

https://gulfnews.com/opinion/op-eds/americas-light-of-liberty-continues-to-beckon-1.66721122

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Europe

 

MWL Chief Calls for Strengthening Human Ties to Bridge Gaps Between Nations

27 September, 2019

Dr. Mohammed Al-Issa, Secretary-General of the Muslim World League, underlined the importance of promoting the culture of dialogue to strengthen human ties and bridge the gaps between peoples and nations.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the French Institute of Islamic Civilization in Lyon, Issa emphasized the need for dialogue and cultural exchange to break down barriers and fight extremism.

The opening ceremony was held in the presence of French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, who thanked Issa for his comments and description of France as a country that promoted integration, stability, and mutual respect.

Issa also stressed the need “to respect the constitutions and regulations of the countries in which we reside”, calling for tolerance, positive coexistence and the building of bridges of friendship between people.

Issa warned against the threat posed by political groups, which he said take advantage of religion "as a cover-up to achieve authoritarian goals, especially through the use of disinformation to recruit young people.”

Castaner, for his part, said that the Institute represented a challenge to understanding and respect, and reflected an accurate vision of Islam as “a religion that respects other cultures and is based on dialogue and tolerance.”

He also expressed pride at the strong lines of communication between Muslims and the French government and said the city of Lyon was a symbol of dialogue in the country.

The Institute consists of five floors and a huge conference hall that hosts seminars and conferences. It also offers courses in Islamic civilization and provides lessons in different languages, including Arabic and French.

https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1921206/mwl-chief-calls-strengthening-human-ties-bridge-gaps-between-nations

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Mercedes F1 team sack four over racist bullying of Muslim colleague

Giles Richards

28 Sep 2019

Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team have sacked four of their staff members and disciplined three more for racist bullying. The team launched an inquiry into racism at their Northamptonshire headquarters in July and concluded that the four men had breached their equality policy. They were dismissed on 2 August and their final appeal was held last week.

The Sun newspaper reported on Saturday that the abuse at the Brackley site included a member of staff allegedly being referred to as a “Muslim terrorist fuck”. During Ramadan the sacked workers, believed to be from the IT department, were reported as putting up a poll on which they signed and dated guesses of when their co-worker would break his fast.

A source told the paper: “This was a really horrible case of racist bullying. They had been picking on one Muslim guy for years. It all came to light when they pinned up the poll. The guys who were sacked had all signed and dated it. It’s outrageous, especially with Lewis being so outspoken about racism.”

Hamilton, who is in action at the Russian Grand Prix this weekend and is still the only black driver in Formula One, has long been a vocal opponent of racism and called for greater diversity in the sport.

After racist taunts aimed at England footballers in Montenegro in March, the world champion unequivocally condemned it before the Bahrain Grand Prix. “It is crazy to think that at this time in the world, racism is still such a prominent thing,” he said. “It is really there, all around the world, and a real issue, which is sad to see. It doesn’t seem like it is going to migrate much over the next few years.”

Full report at:

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/sep/28/mercedes-f1-team-sack-four-racist-bullying-muslim-colleague

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'Large increase in anti-Bosnian, anti-Muslim bigotry': Report

by Mersiha Gadzo

Sep 29, 2019

Islamophobic rhetoric at the political level, which at its peak in the 1990s Bosnian War played a significant role in the massacre of thousands of Bosniak Muslims, is once again being used by Serbian and Croatian politicians - including those of Bosnian background - with dangerous aims, according to a new report.

During the 1992 -1995 conflict, divisive and dehumanising language was used with the hope of splitting the country into "Greater Croatia" and "Greater Serbia".

According to the European Islamophobia Report 2018, which was published by the Ankara-based Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research think tank on Friday, politicians and some sections of the media are today attempting to falsely present Bosnia as a "radical Muslim haven" in order to undermine the country - again with the aim of dividing it territorially.

"In 2018, Milorad Dodik, the Bosnian Serb leader and newly elected Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina presidency, dehumanised Bosniak Muslims by referring to adhan (call to prayer) as 'howling' on a show on public Serbian television," wrote Hikmet Karcic, a researcher at the Institute for Islamic Tradition of Bosniaks who authored the report's section on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"In addition, the year 2018 saw a large increase in anti-Bosnian and anti-Muslim bigotry by the Bosnian Croat and Croatian political establishments and also by regional political actors. These actors continue to present Bosnia and Herzegovina as a failed state which is harbouring extremists and which needs to be territorially divided in order to secure peace and security."

Thirty-nine scholars and experts contributed to the EU-funded report, the fourth edition, which studies 34 countries.

Abdussamed Podojak, 24, from Sarajevo told Al Jazeera that the rhetoric was being used to score political points.

"The consequences have already been deadly and can get even worse.

"Because of all these [Islamophobic] statements and opinions [by politicians], I know a lot of people who don't feel safe to go to another part of our country, which is absurd … the rhetoric promoting Islamophobia is more than a catastrophe."

Since the end of the war, from 1996 to 2017, an estimated 13 Bosniak returnees were killed and 20 were injured in hate crimes in Republica Srpska, according to the report. None of these murders have seen anyone prosecuted.

Unfounded fears of changing demographics

Reports of hate speech come against the backdrop of changing dynamics in Bosnia, with more than 25,000 migrants and refugees from Syria, Pakistan, Algeria and elsewhere having travelled through the country last year, headed for Croatia hoping to reach other EU countries.

In this regard, warnings of a Muslim demographic threat have become pervasive.

According to Bosnia's latest census from 2013, Muslims comprise 50.11 percent of the population, Orthodox Christians make up 31 percent and Catholics form 15 percent.

Dodik, who has consistently claimed that Bosniaks are planning to create an Islamic state, has accused Bosniak politicians of planning to give 150,000 Muslim migrants citizenship, thereby changing the country's ethnic composition.

Earlier this month, Dodik claimed that the conservative Bosniak SDA party wanted to set up an Islamic state and introduce shariah, or Islamic law, after the party embraced liberal-secular reforms.

"To suggest that they're advocating for liberal-secular reforms to create an 'Islamist state' involves ridiculous, mental gymnastics," political scientist Jasmin Mujanovic told Al Jazeera.

"By equating the mere idea of constitutional reform, even explicitly liberal-civic-secular reforms, with 'Islamism', an idea that has never been anywhere near the mainstream Bosniak political activity, Serb nationalists like Dodik and [Serbian foreign minister Ivica] Dacic are trying to ensure that Bosnia remains a permanently dysfunctional state, and one which they will never have to actually compete in free and fair elections."

Serbia's foreign minister Dacic has issued similar "warnings".

In June, during an interview on the Good Morning Serbia talk show, he said: "[Bosniaks] are waiting to pass 50 percent [in population] so they can create the first Islamic state in the middle of Europe."

"We won't ever allow Bosnia to become an Islamic state."

These statements coincide with secession attempts; Dodik regularly advocates for the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina to break away and eventually join Serbia.

Dodik has admitted to spending tens of billions of dollars lobbying for Republika Srpska in Washington, DC.

The entity was the eighth largest in a 2013 list of foreign governments which pay most to influence US politics - the UAE, Germany and Canada were the top three.

Elsewhere, a lobbying document from late last year signed by Dodik and addressed to Antonio Guterres, UN secretary-general, demonstrates how the entity has been attempting to frame Bosnia as a European "safe haven for terrorists".

"The SDA party's policies and actions during and since the 1990s war have turned BiH into a sanctuary for jihadists," one of the documents read.

Political scientist Mujanovic explained that these moves aimed to remove the idea of progress in Bosnia, and therefore make Republika Srpska's secession more possible.

"They've carved out an extremist position and are refusing to budge from it, and framing any alternative attempts of imagining Bosnia as a threat," Mujanovic said.

Croatian attempts to undermine Bosnia

In late July, the Jerusalem Post reported that during Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic's meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem, Grabar-Kitarovic claimed that Bosnia is under the control of "militant Islam" due to the refugee and migrant situation.

"While nearly all claim to be Syrian refugees, most are actually African or Pakistani migrants who try to break through the border from Bosnia-Herzegovina, which Grabar-Kitarovic said was very unstable, and had in some respects been taken over by people who have connections with Iran and terrorist organisations," journalist Greer Fay Cashman wrote. "The country is now controlled by militant Islam, which is dominant in setting the agenda, she said, adding that some are "very violent and break into people's homes".

Grabar-Kitarovic's statement led to outrage in Bosnia, and she later denied making the claims.

According to Heather Conley and Matthew Melino at the Washington, DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, Croatian ethnonationalism is being directed against Bosniaks through blame for Bosnia's failure as a state.

Noting the scandal in Jerusalem, they wrote in a report last month: "Questioning the security of the federation [entity] and implying that Bosniak officials are the cause of such insecurity deepens the narrative that there is a growing need to create a separate Croat entity in Bosnia."

Although Grabar-Kitarovic of the nationalist Croatian HDZ party, denied making the claims, many were left unconvinced because she has developed a reputation for making similar unfounded claims.

In 2017, Croatian media reported that Grabar-Kitarovic's office warned that Bosnia was harbouring "5,000 Salafists, who along with their supporters make up 10,000 people with very radical rhetoric and intentions".

A year earlier, she warned of "radical Islamism", claiming that a couple of thousand of ISIL fighters had returned to Bosnia.

Bosnia's minister of security said he had no idea how she came up with this number.

According to official data cited in a 2016 European Commission report, 188 men and 61 women are believed to have travelled to Syria and Iraq from Bosnia between 2012 and 2015.

Last year, the then Croatian MEP Marijana Petir expressed concern at the European Parliament, citing "radicalisation" in Bosnia due to money allegedly sent from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other Muslim countries.

"Foreign fighters are returning to Wahhabi settlements that have sprouted right along the Croatian border, radicalising the Muslim population in Bosnia," she said, falsely claiming female students who receive scholarships from certain countries must wear the hijab, while men must grow a beard and attend daily prayers.

Karcic, the report author, told Al Jazeera that these statements highlight Croatian nationalist aspirations towards Bosnia.

"By showing Bosnia as an unstable country, they seek justification in future possible carving up of Croat-majority areas in Bosnia," Karcic said.

Mujanovic said by painting the Bosniak community in Bosnia as "latent radicals", they can "justify in the eyes of the international community the HDZ's appeals for greater autonomy".

Bosnians, meanwhile, said they were concerned for their safety as rhetoric intensifies.

In Sanski Most, western Bosnia, 25-year-old Haris Kvrgic, said he feared far-right groups worldwide might be inspired to carry out attacks.

Full report at:

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/increase-anti-bosnian-anti-muslim-bigotry-report-190923053105055.html

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Luxembourg: EU should give Turkey extra financial aid

Ayhan Şimşek  

28.09.2019

BERLIN 

Luxembourg’s foreign minister called on the EU on Saturday to provide further financial assistance to Turkey to support projects for Syrian refugees in the country.

Jean Asselborn told German daily Neue Osnabrucker Zeitung that Turkey has been shouldering an enormous burden by hosting more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees since the eruption of civil war in Syria in 2011.

“It seems evident to me that it [Turkey] needs assistance for this. Therefore, the EU must ensure additional financial assistance to help Syrian refugees in Turkey,” he stressed, adding that EU financial assistance would be used for various projects, such as basic health care for refugees and providing education to refugee children.

As part of an EU-Turkey refugee agreement concluded in 2016, the 28-member bloc pledged €6 billion ($6.6 billion) of aid for 2016-2019 to improve living conditions of Syrian refugees in Turkey. But so far, only €3.71 billion were contracted and €2.57 billion disbursed.

The EU’s bureaucratic hurdles and delays to mobilize promised funds led to sharp criticism from Turkish politicians.

Earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan heavily criticized the EU member states for not fully implementing the refugee agreement, and urged them to take genuine steps to share the burden of the refugee crisis.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/luxembourg-eu-should-give-turkey-extra-financial-aid-/1596611

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Merkel ally to visit Turkey to discuss EU refugee deal

Ayhan Simsek  

27.09.2019

BERLIN

Germany’s interior minister will visit Turkey next week for talks on the EU-Turkey refugee deal, the government announced on Friday.

“Minister [Horst] Seehofer will visit Turkey and Greece on Oct. 3 and 4 for talks with his Turkish and Greek counterparts on the current issues of migration,” Bjoern Grunewaelder, a spokesman for the German Interior Ministry, told a news conference in Berlin.

He applauded Turkey's hospitality toward Syrian refugees and underlined that talks with Turkish officials would focus on ways to improve the implementation of the 2016 EU-Turkey refugee agreement.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner and EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos will join Seehofer during his two-day visit.

Earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan heavily criticized the EU member states for not fully implementing the refugee deal, and urged them to take genuine steps to share the burden of refugee crisis.

In 2016, German Chancellor Angela Merkel championed the EU-Turkey refugee agreement, with the hope of stopping the refugee influx, after nearly a million refugees had arrived in Germany.

The agreement has been successful in significantly reducing the number of crossings in the Aegean Sea, and preventing the loss of many lives. But the EU’s bureaucratic hurdles and delays to mobilize promised funds led to sharp criticism by Turkish officials.

The EU had pledged €6 billion ($6.6 billion) aid to improve living conditions of Syrian refugees in Turkey. But only €2.22 billion were disbursed until June 2019.

The EU member states also pledged to accept some of the Syrian refugees directly from Turkey, as part of a resettlement plan. But the statistics show that just 20,000 Syrian refugees have been accepted by the EU from Turkey, since the signing of the agreement till March 2019.

The pace of returns to Turkey from the Greek islands under the agreement has been slow largely due to lengthy legal processes and administrative problems in Greece.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/merkel-ally-to-visit-turkey-to-discuss-eu-refugee-deal/1596006

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Arab World

 

Egypt court asks Grand Mufti for opinion on terror case sentences

September 28, 2019

CAIRO: An Egyptian court has referred the case of seven defendants facing terrorism charges to the country’s top religious authority, the Grand Mufti, for a non-binding opinion on whether they can be executed as the prosecution seeks.

The Cairo Criminal Court said Saturday the defendants are members of a local affiliate of the Daesh group spearheading an insurgency in northern Sinai.

The men are part of 32 defendants accused of killing eight police, including an officer, when they ambushed a microbus in Cairo’s southern suburb of Helwan in May 2016.

The verdict is set for Nov. 12, and the presiding judge may rule independently of the Mufti.

Egypt has battled an insurgency for years in the Sinai Peninsula that has occasionally spilled over to the mainland.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1561156/middle-east

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Turkey plans construction project worth $27 billion in Syria 'safe zone': TRT

Sep 28, 2019

State broadcaster TRT Haber says Turkey plans to build towns within the so-called safe zone in northeast Syria, raising fears that Ankara might be carving out a patch of land in the Arab country for itself.  

The network revealed details of the scheme in territories outside the control of the Syrian government, which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan proposed at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly earlier this week.

Last month, Turkey and the US agreed to set up the "safe zone" stretching from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border.

Syria slammed the deal as a "blatant aggression” against the country’s territorial integrity and a “flagrant violation” of the international law and the UN Charter.

At the United Nations, Erdogan held up a map to show the zone which Turkey wants to set up with the United States, and where it says one million Syrian refugees would be housed.

Turkey has pushed for the 20-mile (32 km) deep “safe zone” to be established along more than 400 km of its border with northeast Syria.

It initially said the aim of the zone was to drive back Syrian Kurdish YPG forces - which Ankara views as a security threat - from the border. It now says the region will also be used to settle 1 million of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees hosted by Turkey.

Under Turkey's plan, which would cost around 151 billion lira ($27 billion), 140 villages and 10 towns would be established inside the "safe zone".

The project will feature a total of 200,000 residences. Each village would have 1,000 houses, enough for housing 5,000 people, while each town would provide 6,000 homes for a total projected population of 30,000.

Every household residing in villages would have its own farmland while each town would have hospitals, football pitches, mosques, schools and other facilities, the report said.

TRT Haber reported that foreign funds would be established to build the residences, which are expected to settle 1 million of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees hosted by Turkey. It also published mock-up photos of the housing project.

During his Tuesday speech, Erdogan called on the General Assembly to support Turkey’s efforts in Syria.

“Our aim is to settle 2 million Syrians, with the support of the international community, by providing a peace corridor of 30 kilometers deep and 480 kilometers long in the first phase."

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/28/607324/Turkey-Syria-safe-zone-refugees

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Saudi Arabia says it supports Egypt’s counter-terror efforts after Sinai attack

29 September 2019

Saudi Arabia says it supports Egyptian efforts to fight terrorism after a recent deadly militant attack in northern Sinai, the Saudi Press Agency reported citing a foreign ministry source.

“The source affirmed the Kingdom’s full solidarity and support to the sisterly Arab Republic of Egypt in its fight against terrorism and extremism, offering condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims, the government and the brotherly Egyptian people,” the statement on SPA read.

On Friday, security officials and medical sources said militants attacked a security checkpoint, killing eight troops and a civilian and wounding three troops and a civilian in restive northern Sinai Peninsula.

Security sources said the militants attacked with automatic rifles and grenades in the small town of Dir el Abd. Officials said warplanes hunted down the militants and struck their vehicles and motorcycles, leaving at least 15 dead.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi condemned the attack, saying on Facebook that Egypt will triumph in the “battle against terrorism.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/09/29/Saudi-Arabia-says-it-supports-Egypt-s-counter-terror-efforts-after-Sinai-attack.html

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Syria’s Foreign Minister says Turkey continues to support terrorists

28 September 2019

Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Saturday that Turkey has failed to fulfill its commitments under a number of agreements and instead has provided terrorists with all forms of support.

Al-Moualem said that the Syrian government has engaged in the political initiatives aimed at solving the situation in Idlib, and welcomed the memorandum creating the de-escalation zones and the Sochi Agreement on Idlib.

“The Turkish regime has failed to fulfill its commitments under these agreements. Instead, it has provided terrorists with all forms of support, including weapons that are more sophisticated,” said al-Moualem.

He added that “Al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front has taken control of 90% of Idlib, and the Turkish observation points established inside Syria have been used to support these terrorists,” according to his statement which was carried by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).

Syria has been at war since the 2011 revolution which demanded the fall of the regime and its now 19-years-ruler Bashar al-Assad, whose father, Hafez al-Assad, ruled Syria for 30 years before him.

The 2011 peaceful protests were brutally crushed by the government in the name of “fighting terrorism”. The opposition was later armed and gained foreign support.

The war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions.

Al-Moallem told the UNGA that “The United States and Turkey maintain an illegal military presence in northern Syria.”

“Any foreign forces operating in our territories without our authorization are occupying forces and should withdraw immediately,” said the Syrian foreign minister.

Syria’s plight remains one of the world body’s thorniest issues.

But now that most of the country has returned to government control, Syrians worry the world has accepted the idea of President Bashar al-Assad ruling them, according to The Associated Press.

Only the opposition-held bastion of Idlib in the northwest, and the oil-rich northeast, held by US-backed Kurdish groups, elude al-Assad’s grasp.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/09/28/In-ninth-year-of-war-Syria-to-take-its-case-before-the-UN.html

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Egypt refers seven cases of people accused of killing officers to Grand Mufti

28 September 2019

An Egyptian court has referred on Saturday the cases of seven people accused of killing an officer and six security personnel to the Grand Mufti, Egypt’s top religious authority.

The Public Prosecution has also brought several charges against the defendants, which include: joining a terrorist organization, possession of weapons and explosives, and carrying out a number of terrorist operations.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/09/28/Egypt-refers-seven-cases-of-people-accused-of-killing-officers-to-Grand-Mufti.html

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Bahrain supports US efforts to counter Iran and its proxies: FM

28 September 2019

Bahrain said Iran has been practicing terrorism for decades and that the Kingdom supports US efforts to counter Iran and its proxies in the region, Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa said in his remarks to the UN General Assembly.

“Securing peace and eliminating terrorism, these are two main concerns at this juncture,” he told the General Assembly on Saturday.

“We support the Saudi-led coalition's efforts to support legitimacy in Yemen. We urge all Yemeni national parties to unify their efforts with those of their legitimate government and to confront the illegitimate Houthi militia supported by Iran and all terrorist groups that threaten Yemen’s security and stability,” Sheikh Khalid added in his speech.

The Bahraini foreign minister also spoke on the crisis in Syria, saying that the nearly eight years of conflict “has provided a platform for the emergence of terrorist groups.”

On Palestine, the Kingdom of Bahrain said, “it has never spared, nor shall it spare any effort to enable the people of the region.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2019/09/28/Bahrain-supports-US-efforts-to-counter-Iran-and-its-proxies-FM.html

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Iraqi PM approves reopening al-Qa'im border crossing with Syria

Sep 28, 2019

Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has authorized the reopening of the al-Qa'im border crossing with Syria as both countries manage to restore security to the region.

The Iraqi state news agency INA quoted the Arab country's border agency chief as saying on Friday that the crossing will be opened for travelers and trade on Monday.

The crossing, which connects the town of al-Qa'im in Iraq's Anbar Province to the Syrian city of Bukamal in Syria's Dayr al-Zawr Province, was closed in 2013 to support Iraqi forces in their fight against al-Qaeda militants and later Daesh terrorists.

Al-Qa'im and Bukamal lie on a strategic supply route and the crossing between them had only been open to government or military traffic.

The planned opening of the border crossing comes at a time that both Syrian and Iraqi governments have mostly purged their countries of Takfiri terrorist outfits.

In October 2018, the Nassib crossing border crossing between Jordan and Syria opened to people and goods after being closed for three years.

In recent weeks, however, Israel has launched attacks on the pro-government Iraqi military force Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), or Hashd al-Sha'abi, which has been protecting the Arab country's border from infiltration attempts by foreign-backed Syria Takfiri terrorists.

On Friday, sources in Iraq reported that an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) struck targets within a base belonging to the Hashd al-Sha’abi on the Syrian border.

Similar attacks have been reported in Bukamal, where members of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah are allegedly helping the Syrian army to secure the crossing and its surrounding areas.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/28/607332/Iraq-Syria-border

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Saudi King’s personal bodyguard killed in dispute: Police statement

September 29, 2019

DUBAI: The personal bodyguard of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has been killed in a personal dispute.

According to a press statement from the Makkah Police Department, Maj. Gen. Abdulaziz Al-Fagham was visiting his friend Turki Al-Sabti at his home in Jeddah, when a mutual friend called Mamdouh Bin Mishaal Al-Ali arrived at the address.

According to the statement, a heated discussion erupted between Al-Ali and Al-Fagham. Arab News sources suggest the discussion was about personal and financial matters.

Al-Ali then left and came back with a gun, shooting the general.

The police arrived at the scene, but Al-Ali resisted, firing at them – he was killed when officers returned fire.

Al-Fagham was taken to hospital but later died as a result of his injuries.

Turki ak Sabti And a Filipino domestic worker were injured during the incident.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1561391/saudi-arabia

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Saudi Arabia is ‘Japan’s most important friend,’ Tokyo minister says

September 28, 2019

TOKYO: Saudi Arabia is “Japan’s best and most important friend,” the Japanese Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Keisuke Suzuki has said.

The relationship with the Middle East was crucial for Japan, the minister said, and in particular the relationship with Saudi Arabia, the leader of the Arab and Islamic worlds and host of the G20 summit next year.

Suzuki expressed his regret for the recent attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. He said Japan stood with the government and people of the Kingdom, and would continue to contribute to peace and stability in the Middle East.

The minister said he was confident that the Vision 2030 reforms in Saudi Arabia aimed at economic diversification would serve further prosperity and stability in the region, and Japan would continue to strengthen cooperation with Riyadh.

Suzuki was speaking at an event at the Saudi Embassy in Tokyo to mark the Kingdom’s National Day, in the presence of the president of the Senate of the Japanese Parliament, Akiko Santo, and Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono.

It was attended by ministers and businessmen, political, academic, cultural, social and media figures in Japan, ambassadors and representatives of the diplomatic corps in Tokyo, and members of the Saudi community in Japan.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1561196/saudi-arabia

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Egypt loosens security after thwarting calls for protests

September 28, 2019

CAIRO: Egypt has loosened security measures in the capital, Cairo, a day after it sealed off the main square and downtown thoroughfares to thwart a possible protest against the country’s president.

Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the pro-democracy uprising in 2011, was reopened Saturday to normal traffic, as were subway stations in the area that had been closed the day before.

Headlines in pro-government dailies ran comments from President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi warning against “deceitful” attempts to discredit his rule.

Egypt has witnessed a harsh security clampdown following rare demonstrations in several cities last weekend, which were broken up by police.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1561026/middle-east

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Africa

 

Concern that Mogadishu losing control to Al-Shabaab

SEPTEMBER 28 2019

There are concerns that Al-Shabaab are gaining ground with troop-contributing countries pursuing different strategies and interests and the government of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo remains preoccupied with 2020 elections.

Al-Shabaab continues to extort money from businesses in rural areas where they control and the capital Mogadishu.

Analysts point out that it appears the federal government controls during the day while the militants take over at night.

The president of Hirshabelle State of Somalia Mohamed Abdi Ware, recently complained that his region has been overwhelmed by the militants.

President Ware complained that jihadist militants fleeing from neighbouring Lower Shabelle region are flocking to Hirshabelle’s Middle Shabelle.

Mr Ware cited the recent military campaign in Lower Shabelle that apparently forced Al-Shabaab fighters to flee for safety, especially after they lost strategic districts like Torotorow, Barire, Sabiid Anole and Awdegle.

“We are being overwhelmed by Al Shabaab. We are asking the federal government of Somalia to take action and help us contain the problem,” President Ware told the media in Jowhar town.

There has been concern among Somalia watchers that Amisom has not liberated any new territories since President Farmaajo came to power two years ago.

They claim that the killing in August of Mogadishu mayor Abdirahman Omar Osman by one his staff members who turned into a suicide bomber, shows how Al-Shabaab has infiltrated government departments and security agencies.

The sore relations between Mr Farmaajo and leaders of three regional states—Jubbaland, Puntland and Galmudug—has also slowed the war against Al-Shabaab as the militants have increased attacks in Middle Shabelle.

However, Amisom spokesperson, Col Charles Imbiakha told The EastAfrican that contrary to the growing belief about a resurgent militant activity, the African peacekeepers have degraded the jihadists' capacity and left them on the run.

The campaign against Al-Shaabaab is also likely to be affected by the resolution of the Security Council in May, for the African Union Mission to reduce its armed personnel by 19,626 by the end of February 2020, from the current 21,626.

Due to reduced and irregular funding, the UN in 2017 had instructed Amisom to reduce its uniformed personnel to a maximum 21,626.

https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/ea/Concern-that-Mogadishu-losing-control-to-Al-Shabaab/4552908-5291106-mup6bd/index.html

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After US talks, Sudan sees path to lifting sanctions soon

September 29, 2019

NEW YORK: Sudan’s prime minister said he had held useful talks with US officials while at the UN this week, and expressed hope Khartoum could reach an agreement to be removed from Washington’s state-sponsored terrorism list “very soon.”

Abdalla Hamdok, an economist, was appointed in August as leader of a transition government, vowing to stabilize the country and repair an economy battered by years of US sanctions and government mismanagement during Omar Al-Bashir’s 30-year rule.

But Sudan has so far been unable to tap the International Monetary Fund and World Bank for support because the US still lists the country as a state sponsor of terrorism.

“Coming to the (UN) General Assembly provided us with a huge opportunity to meet many leaders in the American administration,” Hamdok told reporters on Friday after a high-level event to drum up support for his country at the annual gathering of world leaders.

“We had a very useful discussion on the issue of state-sponsored terrorism. We hope as we move forward we will be able to conclude very soon an agreement that would allow Sudan to be delisted.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed support at the Sudan event, held on the sidelines of the General Assembly, for Hamdok’s efforts. He called for the immediate removal of “Sudan’s designation as a terrorist-supporting state and lifting all economic sanctions and mobilizing massive financial support for development to make the current political gains durable.”

Shortages of bread, fuel and medicine coupled with hefty price rises sparked protests that led to the toppling of longtime ruler Bashir in April.

But the transitional government will need US support to address debt issues and attract investment. It will launch a nine-month economic rescue plan in October aimed at curbing rampant inflation while ensuring supplies of basic goods. It is also asking the World Bank for $2 billion.

“The new Sudan that is upholding governance and democracy is not a threat to any nation in the world,” Hamdok said.

A senior US official said in August that Washington would test the commitment of Sudan’s new transitional government to human rights, freedom of speech and humanitarian access before it agrees to remove the country from a list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The US State Department was not immediately available for comment on Friday.

Sudan was designated a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993 under then-US President Bill Clinton, cutting it off from financial markets and strangling its economy, over allegations that Bashir’s Islamist government was supporting terrorism, notably attacks in Kenya and Tanzania.

Washington lifted a 20-year trade embargo against Sudan in 2017 and was in the process of discussions on removing it from the US list when the military stepped in on April 11 to depose Bashir.

The Trump administration suspended talks on normalizing relations with Sudan and demanded that the military hand power to a civilian government.

A senior European diplomat said the US government considered that the new government had to assume the responsibilities of the previous administration.

“I don’t think the Americans are ready yet. They still think that today’s Sudan must pay for the crimes of yesterday’s Sudan when it comes to legal cases out there related to the terrorist attacks in Nairobi or Dar es Salaam,” said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1561251/middle-east

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Extremists kill nine in Nigeria attacks

28 September 2019

Nine people, including a soldier and a policeman, were killed in two separate attacks by extremists in restive northeast Nigeria, officials and vigilantes said on Saturday.

Militants from ISIS West Africa Province (ISWAP) organization attacked Nigerian and Chadian troops in the town of Gajiram late Friday, prompting a fierce battle in which eight people were killed.

“We lost eight people in the attack including a policeman, a local hunter and six residents,” local district official Shettima Maina told AFP.

The militants in several pickup trucks fitted with machine guns attacked the town, 80 kilometres (50 miles) from regional capital Maiduguri, and engaged Nigerian and Chadian troops assisted by local hunters in battle, Maina said.

The extremists lost a truck when it was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade during the fight, killing all fighters on board, said Maigana Maidurama, the head of Borno state hunters union.

“We dealt them a heavy blow and forced them to flee as one of their vehicles along with all those on board was destroyed by our RPG,” Maidurama said.

ISWAP is a splinter faction that broke away from Boko Haram in 2016.

In a separate attack Friday evening suspected Boko Haram fighters attacked a military post in the town of Banki on the border with Cameroon, killing a soldier and destroying a military vehicle, military and militia sources said.

Gajiram and Banki have been repeatedly attacked by the extremists in the past year.

The decade-long insurgency in northeast Nigeria has killed 35,000 people and displaced some two million people.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/09/28/Extremists-kill-nine-in-Nigeria-attacks.html

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UN, coast guard say boat with 50 migrants capsizes off Libya

September 29, 2019

CAIRO, RABAT: The UN refugee agency and Libya’s coast guard say a boat carrying at least 50 Europe-bound migrants has capsized in the Mediterranean Sea.

Coast guard spokesman Ayoub Gassim tells The Associated Press that the shipwreck took place off the western city of Misrata. He did not provide details and said rescuers are on their way to the site.

Alarm Phone, an independent support group for people crossing the Mediterranean, says “about 56 lives at risk.”

The group said it received a call from migrants on the boat, who left Libya’s shores days ago, saying that “they are desperately calling for help and are afraid to die.”

Searately, at least seven Moroccan migrants were found dead on Saturday off Morocco’s Atlantic coast near Casablanca after their boat capsized, the Interior Ministry said.

Three others were taken unconscious to hospital, while search operations are ongoing, the ministry said in a statement.

The incident reflects a growing trend in illegal migration to Spain from the Atlantic coast following a government crackdown on Mediterranean routes.

Morocco is only 14 km south of the Spanish coast at the strait of Gibraltar and shares land borders with the small Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta on its Mediterranean coast.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1561261/middle-east

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