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Maulana Sajjad Nomani Of AIMPLB Who Welcomed Taliban Rule In Afghanistan Lauds Muslims' Patience, Advises Not To Get Provoked By Hate Speeches

New Age Islam News Bureau

13 January 2022


Maulana Sajjad Nomani, member of the religious bureau and member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board,


• Pakistan Anti-Terror Court Hands Death Sentence To 4 For Blast Outside Terror Mastermind Hafiz Saeed's House

• Afghan Universities To Reopen, Female Students Included But Classes Will Be Separate For Boys And Girls: Taliban

• Penang Mufti Calls On Authorities To Take Immediate Action Over Viral Video Of Man Teaching Extreme Sufism

• Close Guantanamo And End 20 Years Of ‘Lawlessness And Cruelty’: Ilhan Omar



• Maulana Sajjad Nomani’s Open Letter To Owaisi - Minimize The Distribution Of Votes

• Demolition Drive in Muslim Tribe Locality in Jammu Sparks Charges of Bias

• JeM terrorist killed in J&K's Kulgam encounter identified as Pakistani national: IGP Vijay Kumar

• Chhattisgarh Man Accuses Wife Of Converting Minor Son To Islam; Mother Arrested

• AILC releases fact finding report after visiting Malegaon



• Pakistan Taliban Ex-Spokesperson Who Fled Says ISI Forced Him To Lie About India ‘Terror Funding’

• In Historic City Of Jacobabad, Pakistan, Church, Mosque And Temple Stand Side By Side

• Pakistan Opposition discusses to move no-confidence motion to oust Imran Khan govt

• Two brothers reunite at Kartarpur after 74 years

• Man arrested with Buddha statue in Haripur district

• Sit for indefinite period, PPP doesn’t care, Ghani tells JI demonstrators

• PM Khan lauds ISI’s efforts for national security, stability


South Asia

• We Will Make Earning Ph.D. And Master’s Degrees Possible In Afghanistan: Haqqani

• OIC summit, Saudi Arabia helped connect Afghanistan to world: Taliban envoy

• Aid Must Be Coordinated With Islamic Emirate: Second Deputy Of The Prime Minister

• Train Passenger Told Police He Was Osama Bin Laden After Sparking Terror Threat

• Kabul in a blackout, Uzbekistan’s electricity to Afghanistan decreased by 60%

• Taliban pay in wheat in lieu of cash as economic crisis bites

• Afghan Taliban Warn Northern Neighbours Of 'Consequences' Of Not Returning Aircraft


North America

• Close Guantanamo And End 20 Years Of ‘Lawlessness And Cruelty’: Ilhan Omar

• US Says 'Weeks, Not Months' Remain For Nuclear Agreement With Iran

• US grants South Korea an Iran sanctions exemption

• Pentagon links Iran intelligence to ‘MuddyWater’ hacking group

• Iran, US lock horns over sanctions relief, nuclear curbs in Vienna talks

• Iran, Venezuela, 6 other UN members lose voting rights because of unpaid dues



• France’s Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin Orders Closure Of Cannes Mosque Because Of ‘Anti-Semitic’ Remarks

• Son of hate preacher Abu Hamza jailed for identity fraud

• France urges EU sanctions against Mali

• Gordon Brown calls for Afghanistan donor conference

• World Bank notes surprising improvement in Pakistan

• Serbian president vows no mercy for those who violate peace

• Germany to extend military mission in Iraq


Southeast Asia

• China Says Guantanamo Bay Real 'Detention Camp' for Muslims

• After Thai-BRN Talks, Malaysia Says Deep South Solution Will Take Years

• Sabah allocates RM164.12 mln for education, religious development

• Malaysian ISIS fighters in Syrian camps may slip into country, pose danger: Report


Arab World

• Senior Hezbollah Official Says Saudi Arabia Must Stop 'Bullying' Regional Countries

• Ansarullah: Saudi-Led Coalition’s Use Of Iraq War Footage ‘Ridiculous, Pathetic’

• Coordination with Gulf increases as US, world powers align focus on Iran nuclear deal

• Lebanon’s PM Mikati denies meddling in judiciary over financial probe

• Saudi warplanes target Yemeni hospital amid increased airstrikes

• Yemeni forces inflict massive losses on UAE mercenaries, Daesh terrorists in Shabwah: Army spokesman



• Deputy Army Commander Downplays Israel’s Military Threats

• Rubble brings opportunity, and risk, in war-scarred Gaza

• Two Israeli officers killed in friendly fire incident: Military

• Palestinian man, 80, found dead after Israeli raid was US citizen

• Iran sends French-Iranian academic back to prison: Supporters

• President Erdogan vows to tame Turkish inflation as scepticism grows

• Israel says it broke up Iranian spy ring, arrested five Israelis

• Islamic Jihad warns Israel against tempting ‘regional war’

• Yemen: Saudi attacks on water facilities in Sa’ada ‘war crime’ amid severe shortages



• We Are Witnessing ‘Hell’ In Tigray, It’s An ‘Insult To Humanity’: WHO’s Tedros

• At least 10 killed in suicide bombing in Somali capital

• Libyan prime minister denies meeting Israelis in Jordan

• US threatens action if Somalia misses new election deadline

• Nigeria lifts Twitter ban from midnight, government official says

• US vows action if Somalia misses new election deadline

• Biden hailed for appointing 1st Somali-American senior adviser to State Department

• 97 Somali migrants repatriated from Libya

• Tunisia’s Ennahda party demands release of deputy chief as his health worsens

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



 Maulana Sajjad Nomani Of AIMPLB Who Welcomed Taliban Rule In Afghanistan Lauds Muslims' Patience, Advises Not To Get Provoked By Hate Speeches


Maulana Sajjad Nomani, member of the religious bureau and member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board,


Mohammed Wajihuddin

Jan 12, 2022

MUMBAI: Senior cleric and All India Muslim Personal Law Board member Maulana Sajjad Nomani, who had courted controversy for welcoming the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August last year, has congratulated Muslims for showing “patience, maturity and foresight by remaining peaceful in their reactions" to the hate speeches made at Dharm Sansads at Haridwar and Delhi.

In an audio clip, Nomani said that all efforts were made to provoke Muslims to come out on the streets and hold violent protests against the open call for genocide, alleged insults to the Prophet, their holy book Quran and Islam, but Muslims showed patience. “I must congratulate you that you have now matured and understand the game being played by the communal and fascist forces. Your patience and calmness against extreme provocations show that you understand the situation and will not allow them to succeed in their nefarious design,” he said.

Calling the dharm sansad a way to “save the sinking ship of some people”, Nomani called upon the community members not to get scared. Referring to a verse in the Quran which talks about how many Prophets and their followers were threatened with extermination if they didn’t follow the faith of the dominating class, Nomani said the Quran itself said God would not allow oppressors to succeed. “Quran never said that God would destroy those who don’t follow Islam but it said that God would destroy the oppressors, the rapists and the tormentors of the innocents,” he said. He asked Muslims to continue reaching out to the needy irrespective of religion.

City Congress general secretary Asif Farooqui welcomed Maulana Nomani’s “positive message”. “It is good that a reputed cleric has called upon the community to maintain restraint and show patience while opposing the hate speeches. Such messages will help create a harmonious society,” said Farooqui.

Source: Times of India

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Pakistan Anti-Terror Court Hands Death Sentence To 4 For Blast Outside Terror Mastermind Hafiz Saeed's House


JuD chief Hafiz Saeed is serving jail sentence at the Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore for his conviction in terror financing cases. (File Photo)


Omer Farooq Khan

Jan 13, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s anti-terrorism court on Wednesday sentenced four people to death for the bombing outside 2008 Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed's house in Lahore last year that killed three and injured 21. The country's national security adviser had accused neighbour India of financing, planning and carrying out the June 23 explosion outside Saeed’s house in the Johar Town neighbourhood.

The anti-terrorism court handed the death sentence to Eid Gul of the banned Tahreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Peter Paul David, Sajjad Shah and Ziaullah on nine counts. Judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta, who presided over the in-camera trial at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail, sentenced co-convict Ayesha Bibi to five years in jail.

The prosecution presented 56 witnesses against the convicts, all of whom denied their role in the blast.

According to Punjab’s counter-terrorism department, Eid Gul installed explosives in the car that was used to trigger the blast. The car belonged to David while the other three – Sajjad, Ziaullah and Ayesha – were facilitators.

Saeed, chief of the banned Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), is said to be already serving a jail term in terror financing cases. His presence at the Kot Lakhpat jail, however, couldn't be confirmed.

In 2020, Pakistan had sentenced Saeed to 15 years in jail in a terror-financing case, but he was never charged in connection with the Mumbai attacks. India and the US accuse him of being the brain behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people were killed.

Pakistani officials had reportedly told a Pakistani anti-terrorism court in 2012 that the terrorists who attacked and killed people in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, belonged to the Saeed-led LeT and that they had been trained at various cities in Pakistan.

The key planner of the Mumbai carnage, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, was an undertrial at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, but was released on April 9, 2015, on the orders of the Lahore high court due to "lack of evidence".

Source: Times of India

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Afghan Universities To Reopen, Female Students Included But Classes Will Be Separate For Boys And Girls: Taliban


An Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan flag hangs over a street t in Kabul


Jan 13, 2022

KABUL: The Taliban-led government will soon reopen universities across the country for both male and female students, but classes will be separate for boys and girls, a Minister said here.

Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021, universities have remained shut, TOLO News reported.

Minister of Higher Education Abdul Baqi Haqqani made the remarks while speaking to the media on Wednesday, without however giving an exact date for the reopening.

The Minister blamed the ongoing economic crisis and the lack of segregated classes for male and female students as reasons for the delay in reopening the universities.

He also claimed that the Taliban would form an international university, which will include "Shariah, Medical, Agriculture and Engineering programs. Masters and PhD degrees will be offered in these four areas".

According to Haqqani, some regional countries pledged to provide educational scholarships for the Afghan students.

Meanwhile, some university students said they have been living in uncertainty for the past six months since the shutdown, TOLO News reported.

"These six months were a long period and will affect the student's motivation," said Matiullah Pirozi, a student.

"We are shocked that they cannot form a scheme in six months. The scheme could be easily formed," said Mohammad Hilal, another student.

Source: Times of India

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Penang Mufti Calls On Authorities To Take Immediate Action Over Viral Video Of Man Teaching Extreme Sufism


Penang Mufti Datuk Seri Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor  — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin


12 Jan 2022

GEORGE TOWN, Jan 12 — Penang Mufti Datuk Seri Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor has called on the religious authorities to take immediate action over a viral video of a man teaching extreme Sufism that deviates from the true teachings of Islam.

He said immediate action must be taken to prevent such misguidance from being spread in the country, as it could damage the faith of Muslims.

“The video has also mocked the Shariah and the Shariah scholars or ulamas with false allegations that the latter have so-called altered the teachings of the religion,” he said in a statement today.

He was commenting on a three-minute-53-second video that had gone viral yesterday, in which a man claimed that performing the prayer or solah was an act that “deviated” from the teachings of Islam.

Scores of netizens also left comments on the video urging the authorities to take action against the man. — Bernama

Source: Malay Mail

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Close Guantanamo And End 20 Years Of ‘Lawlessness And Cruelty’: Ilhan Omar


Rep. Ilhan Omar


11 January 2022

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar says January 11 – which marks 20 years since the opening of Guantanamo Bay – should be "a day to reflect and to act," urging Americans to build pressure on President Joe Biden to finally put an end to the “lawlessness and cruelty” of the offshore military prison.

Twenty years ago today, the first prisoners – hooded, shackled, and clad in orange jumpsuits-- arrived at the newly-built Camp X-Ray prison at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, a desolate place near the eastern tip of Cuba.

The facility, which was supposed to be a temporary detention center and never meant to be permanent, was chosen because of its ambiguous legal status. It was under full control of the US military and relatively close to the mainland but beyond the reach of American courts, thus allowing detainees to be held indefinitely outside of normal laws or judicial oversight.

The Guantanamo prison, commonly known as “Gitmo,” became synonymous with prisoner abuse by the United States in the early years of the so-called war on terror, gaining global notoriety for the widespread use of torture and other violations of human rights that took place within its walls.

Many detainees were subject to psychological and physical abuse -- including waterboarding, beating, exposure to deafening noise, and sleep and food deprivation-- as part of their "enhanced interrogation," the accounts of which were gradually leaked to the outside world by the few lawyers who visited the prison and the inmates who have since been released.

"I reflect on what scores of men lost when the United States tortured them, systematically dismantling their identity and humanity,” Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, wrote in an op-ed published in Teen Vogue on Tuesday.

“I reflect on what the families of victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks lost — any possibility of fair and impartial justice — when the United States decided to trade away decency and the rule of law for torture and indefinite detention. And I reflect on our refusal to hold anyone meaningfully accountable for these acts," the Muslim lawmaker said.

Opened in the wake of the September 11, 2011 attacks, Guantánamo has held almost 780 men over two decades.  Many had been abducted and tortured in secret US-run prisons before being transferred to Guantanamo to begin their indefinite detention there. Very few have ever been charged with a crime, and none given a fair trial.

Of the 39 detainees still being held at Guantanamo, 27 have not been charged with a crime-- the so-called forever prisoners. A total of 13 have been cleared to leave but proceedings for their release have been delayed in the pretrial stage for years.

Human rights organizations and advocates around the world have doggedly campaigned to close Guantanamo since its very inception.

Former President Barack Obama had made the closing of Guantanamo one of his top priorities and signed an executive order to do so soon after taking office in 2009. However, that goal proved increasingly elusive throughout his two terms in office as he faced stiff opposition in Congress.

Rep. Omar acknowledged that while “Congress has acted to frustrate rather than facilitate closing Guantánamo," she said the prison’s closure was ultimately the responsibility of the president.

“I was pleased when President Biden announced, shortly after taking office, that his administration would do just that. But I’m dismayed that in the 11 months since that announcement, the Biden administration has transferred only one man out of Guantánamo Bay,” she said.

Advocates for closing the Guantanamo prison were optimistic when Biden took office last January. They were further relieved when his administration took the step of releasing a prisoner for the first time in years. In the ensuing months, however, there have been few signs of progress in closing the detention facility in Cuba, leaving many campaigners frustrated.

Omar urged young Americans to mount pressure on President Biden to "dramatically pick up the pace."

“If the president is to make good on his promise to close the facility, he’ll need to dramatically pick up the pace. To that end, your voices are critical. Time and again, this country’s leaders — in the public and private sectors — have underestimated the power of younger generations to force change, particularly on social and racial justice issues,” she wrote.

The Minnesota Democrat also took issue with “the half a billion dollars each year” that the Pentagon spends to run Guantanamo. "The conversation about closing Guantánamo often centres on the national security costs the prison inflicts. Those costs are real and significant, but so is Guantánamo’s role in fuelling social and racial injustice."

More than a dozen United Nations experts released a statement on Monday, voicing outrage that Guantanamo was still in operation two decades after opening its gates to its first inmates.

Calling the military prison “an ugly chapter of unrelenting human rights violations,” the UN experts called on the United States to close down the detention center, return detainees home or to safe third countries, provide reparation for those arbitrarily detained and tortured, and hold those who authorized and engaged in torture accountable in accordance with international law.

"Twenty years of practicing arbitrary detention without trial accompanied by torture or ill-treatment is simply unacceptable for any government, particularly a government which has a stated claim to protecting human rights," the UN experts said.

Source: Press TV

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Maulana Sajjad Nomani’s Open Letter To Owaisi - Minimize The Distribution Of Votes

13th January 2022

Hyderabad: Re-owned Muslim cleric and member All India Muslim personal law Board Maulana Khalil-ur-Rahman Sajjad Nomani had shot off an open letter to All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-e-Muslimeen (AIMIM), supremo Asaduddin Owaisi in connection with the forthcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh and the party’s decision of contesting on 100 seats.

Maulana Khalil-ur-Rehman Sajjad Nomani has written an open letter to MIM President Asaduddin Owaisi to minimize the distribution of votes against more oppressive and sectarian people in the UP Assembly elections 2022.

In his letter, the cleric has said that in the forthcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh, the AIMIM had announced to contest on 100 seats. But in wake of party’s popularity, there is speculation that the Muslim vote is likely to split, which could benefit sectarian forces.

The Maulana asked  MIM President Asaduddin Owaisi to minimise the distribution of votes against more oppressive and sectarian people in the UP Assembly elections 2022.

In the letter, Maulana wrote that “since you are well aware that the main power of the Muslims enemy of the country and the leading class of Fascism are the people who belong to OBC, which includes many units and the history bears witness.

That is, when the people of this class line up against the sectarian forces, these oppressive forces are defeated.Maulana wrote in the letter acknowledging the intentions of Owaisi and his capabilities that “if you agree with my request then only you can better decide how the distribution of votes can be reduced”.

Maulana wrote in the letter that “in my opinion you should only use your full strength in those seats where victory is certain, and in the remaining seats you should appeal for alliance yourself”.

Source: Siasat Daily

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Demolition Drive in Muslim Tribe Locality in Jammu Sparks Charges of Bias

Umer Maqbool

Srinagar: A two-month-old child, yet to be named, is among several members of the Gujjar Bakerwal tribe who have been affected by an eviction drive by the administration of Jammu and Kashmir in a locality inhabited by the Muslim tribe in Jammu city.

“How can I protect my child from the biting cold? Where we will go? They have demolished our house and ransacked our goods and belongings,” says Nasreena Akther, the child’s mother and a resident of the Upper Paloura area of Roop Nagar, Jammu.

The houses of several members of the Gujjar Bakerwal tribe, who have been living here for decades, were demolished by the Jammu Development Authority (JDA) on Tuesday, January 11, in a drive against what it claims are illegal encroachments. The action of the civic body – which has often faced accusations of carrying out selective eviction drives – has triggered widespread outrage and criticism in J&K and sparked protests in the Union Territory’s winter capital, Jammu on Wednesday.

What happened on Tuesday?

The affected families told The Wire that authorities of the JDA, police and the revenue department swooped down on the locality on Monday morning and razed the houses. “At around 8:30 am, I was shocked when I saw officials and JCBs making their way into our locality. All of a sudden, they started demolishing our houses. We were helpless and pleaded with them, but they did not listen and flattened them,” says 70-year-old Saif Ali.

Akbar Hussain, another local from the area, said that around 200 police and CISF personnel laid a siege around the locality and did not allow anyone to enter the area. “Most of the men had left for work, to sell milk in Jammu city and other areas. Only women and elders were in the homes when the authorities came and started throwing out our belongings,” he said, adding that several houses were demolished or damaged during the five-hour drive.

In videos of the drive that have gone viral on social media, Gujjar Bakerwal women can be seen wailing and pleading with the officers to spare the houses.

“Oh my God! What kind of injustice is being done to us? Where my children will go? We are living for six decades here. Take our land but spare our houses,” an elderly woman can be heard saying.

According to locals, several members of the Scheduled Tribe community have been living in the locality for decades. Like other Gujjar-Bakerwals of J&K, they depend on selling milk and other dairy products.

The demolition drive has triggered widespread anger across J&K, with former CM Mehbooba Mufti saying, “J&K admin’s selective demolition of houses in Jammu & rendering tribals homeless is yet another method to vent their hatred by targeting minorities.”

She added that these “communal” policy decisions are sanctioned at the top and that the people need to stand up against such “atrocities”.

Saima Choudhary, a young activist, said that Gujjars and Bakerwals are being harassed in J&K in the name of eviction drives after the dilution of Article 370.

Guftar Choudhary, chief spokesman of Jammu and Kashmir Gujjar-Bakerwal Youth Conference and a political activist, slammed the demolition drive. “Selective Eviction in Jammu. What happened with illegal land occupied by BJP Leader Nirmal Singh.Using power against poor tribals is very easy for JDA. Show your power against land grabbers,” he tweeted.

In November last year, former deputy CM and BJP leader Nirmal Singh was served a notice by the authorities, to demolish his “illegal” bungalow in Ban village near an Army ammunition sub-depot in Nagrota, Jammu.

Advocate M.R. Qureshi, who is the lawyer for the families, said the residents were not allowed to exercise other legal remedies that were available to them after the petition seeking regularisation of the land under the Roshni Act became infructuous.

“On December 16, 2021, the Jammu and Kashmir high court said these families are at liberty to take recourse to any other proceedings that may be admissible to them in law. Why were they not allowed to take recourse to other options like seeking regularisation of land? Why they were not served notices and given an opportunity to be heard like what was done in Nirmal Singh’s case?” he asked.

He said the revenue records show these families were in possession of the land even before 1947. “The entries made in revenue records in 1978 show that this land was cultivated by these families even before the partition,” he said.

Quershi said they approached the high court in 2015 for conferment of ownership rights of the land under the Roshni Act.

“One of the locals, Saif Ali, has already been granted ownership rights over one-and-a-half kanals of land under the Roshni Act. Others could not benefit because the law was repealed in 2018,” he said.


Meanwhile, scores of people on Wednesday staged protests in Jammu to seek compensation for the affected families, saying they should be conferred with ownership rights.

Source: The Wire

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JeM terrorist killed in J&K's Kulgam encounter identified as Pakistani national: IGP Vijay Kumar

Jan 13, 2022

KULGAM: The Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist killed in the Kulgam encounter has been identified as Babar, a Pakistani national active in Shopian and Kulgam since 2018, informed Inspector General of Police (Kashmir) Vijay Kumar on Thursday.

An AK rifle, a pistol, and two grenades have been recovered from the terrorist, the IGP further said.

"The JeM terrorist killed in the Kulgam encounter has been identified as Babar, a Pakistani national active in Shopian & Kulgam since 2018. One AK rifle, one pistol, and two grenades have been recovered," the IGP told ANI.

Source: Times of India

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Chhattisgarh Man Accuses Wife Of Converting Minor Son To Islam; Mother Arrested

Jan 13, 2022

RAIPUR: A man in Chhattisgarh’s Jashpur district filed a police complaint against his wife and his in-laws for allegedly getting their minor son circumcised and converting the child to Islam without his consent, police said on Wednesday.

The man, a Hindu, married a Muslim woman about 10 years ago and have two children, an 8-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter, said Jashpur superintendent of police, Vijay Agarwal. The case was registered at the Sanna police station.

“We have arrested his wife and mother-in-law on Wednesday and further investigation is on,” he said.

Agarwal said the accused have been booked under sections 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC and provisions of Chhattisgarh Freedom of Religion Act.

According to the complaint filed by the man, he and his wife married about 10 years ago as per Hindu rituals.

Source: Hindustan Times

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AILC releases fact finding report after visiting Malegaon

12th January 2022

New Delhi: The All India Lawyers Council (AILC) has released a fact-finding report after a two-member team visited Malegaon to access ground reality after the protest which took place on November 12, 2021.

The two-member team comprises Secretary General Sharfuddin Ahmad, Advocate, Supreme Court and Advocate Santosh Jadhav, National Secretary.

The call for the protest on November 12 was given by the Raza Academy and other organizations.

The protest was called in a form to put the shutters down against communal violence of Tripura as well as the hateful and violence-provoking speeches and actions committed targeting Muslims, Christians and other vulnerable people by allegedly the known and indoctrinated goons forming the groups across the country with impunity.

After the visit to Malegaon, the AILC has prepared a fact-finding report.

The facts that emerged after wider interaction with local residents is as follows:

After the call of the protest by the Raza Academy, it was unanimously decided by the representatives of various organization only to observe the protest in a form “Bandh” against lawlessness by making an appeal to shutter down the total work in the city for a day on November 12 which happened Friday. As on Friday, the markets in Malegaon generally remain closed.

Only hundreds of people assembled at the crossing “Shaheedon ki Yadgar” and a memorandum was handed over to the official purported to be sent to the government in the morning as per prescheduled program.

In view of the rising tempers and the atmosphere getting volatile, the Raza Academy had to withdraw its call and it appealed to the public to stay away from the meeting and the march. The leadership of the Raza Adacemy and the leaders of other organizations as Jamait-e-Ulmae Hind, NCP, Congress, Janta Dal (S) etc thereafter, disappeared from the scene resulting to a vacuum into leadership of protesting crowd.

After Friday prayers, mob had gathered and started a march to Shivaji Circle, a point or the end of the Muslim population. The police officers are said to have made phone calls to a number of local leaders to intervene and to stop the march being held leaderless but according to police version, the most of the phones of the local leader who had supported the Bandh, were found switched off.

It is revealed that the protest had peacefully ended and the most of people had started dispersing to leave to their homes.

Surprisingly, just at the end of the program, it happened instantly that 20-25 people concealing their faces with clothes emerged from the opposite direction and shouting slogans started indiscriminate and violent attacks on properties.

The most of properties damaged in the violence on November 12, 2021 are owned and possessed by Muslims. No property of any non-Muslim has been damaged during this spree of violence.

The attackers according to local people were unknown outsiders in hidden faces and none of them were arrested by the police.

It is also informed by the local people that about two days before the declared protest, trollies full of sharp-edges stones were unloaded near the spot of the incident and these stones were hurled and pelted on the police during the disturbance to make the police to use force.

Six FIRs were registered by the local police in two police stations and more than sixty persons are named and other one thousand to one thousand and five hundred (1000 to 1500) people have been made un-named accused persons in about half a dozen criminal cases registered by the police.

The police made allegations to have been injured during stone pelting and the use of fire arms is also alleged. The injuries allegedly caused to policemen are said to be at the non-vital parts of bodies and hardly grievous in nature.

The police version is that complete footage of CCTV had been procured but no such footage is made available in public domain.

It is found from the perusal of FIRs that some persons are mentioned in several cases with an apparent purpose to increase the number of cases as well as to manifold the difficulties of accused persons so that they may be devoid from civil liberty for a long time.

The majority of the accused persons have very clean credentials and have never been ever prosecuted in any criminal cases.

The identification of actual offenders in view of the availability of the CCTV footage may lead the police to file the charge sheet as a large number of persons had already been arrested.

About two months time has passed but the police has squarely failed to file charge sheet in any case against any accused person incarcerated in the jail.

A reign of terror has percolated rooting to every Muslim family of Malegaon. The reports are doing the rounds that an exorbitant income has grown up in view of the apprehension to every Muslim resident for the arrest keeping in view a large number of unnamed accused persons are mentioned into FIRs lodged by the police.

Malegaon had unfortunately suffered with incidents of two bomb blasts in the year 2006 and 2008. A large number of innocent people were then rounded up and had gone through pangs of pain for a long time. Now extra safeguards are required so that innocent persons may not further suffer.

Source: Siasat Daily

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Pakistan Taliban ex-spokesperson who fled says ISI forced him to lie about India ‘terror funding’


12 January, 2022

New Delhi: Ehsanullah Ehsan, the former spokesperson of the terrorist group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) who mysteriously escaped from prison in Pakistan in 2020, published a blog Tuesday, alleging that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) offered him “millions of dollars” to return to the country, or be silent on the circumstances of his arrest and still-unexplained flight from the country.

“They were offering us millions of dollars to keep quiet or come back, they were offering us houses and land in Punjab,” Ehsan writes. “The then head of ISI, General Faiz Hameed, contacted me and personally apologised (for my treatment in prison).”

Ehsan — whose real name is Liaqat Ali — was claimed to have surrendered to the Pakistani military in 2017, three years after he publicly fell out with TTP chief Fazal Hayat, also known by the pseudonym Fazlullah.

The split came in the midst of a murderous conflict between TTP cadre and the Pakistan Army, which saw more than 20,000 civilian fatalities, and 6,000 military personnel killed. He subsequently co-founded the rival Jama’at-ul Ahrar with terrorist commander Omar Saeed Khorasani.

In April 2017, Ehsan’s surrender to security forces was announced by the Pakistan’s military publicity wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations Directorate. The Jama’at-ul-Ahrar, however, said he had been kidnapped by Pakistani intelligence agents from Paktika, in Afghanistan.

Ehsan has written that mutually-agreed terms for his return to Pakistan were brokered through “some senior intelligence officers and after a long negotiation we came to an agreement which paved the way for my return to Pakistan”.

Ehsan claims a helicopter was waiting for him at the Chaman border, after which he was transferred to a special military flight at the Quetta garrison.

Also read: Gentle on jihadis, harsh on dissidents: Ehsanullah’s escape exposes Pakistan’s intentions

‘False & scripted confession’

Instead of the agreed terms of surrender, however, Ehsan claims he was forced to make a “false and scripted confessional statement”. “The confessional statement was a script prepared by a brigadier and a colonel in the ISPR (Inter-Services Public Relations),” he alleges, “and I was given two weeks to memorise it”.

The confession released by the ISPR included claims that he surrendered because of the Jama’at-e-Ahrar’s ties to India.

Ehsan said in the videotaped confession: “When they started taking help from India and RAW, I told Khorasani that we’re supporting the kuffar (non-believers) and helping them kill our own people in our own country.”

“He (Khorasani) replied: ‘Even if Israel wants to fund me to destabilise Pakistan, I will not hesitate in taking their help’.”

Source: The Print

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In Historic City Of Jacobabad, Pakistan, Church, Mosque And Temple Stand Side By Side

Amar Guriro

Jan 13, 2022

In the historic city of Jacobabad in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province, places of worship belonging to three different religions are located side by side. A Hindu temple, Christian church and Muslim mosque are adjacent to one another. The city of Jacobabad was founded by Brigadier-General John Jacob, an officer of the British East India Company who served in colonial India.

Located on the city’s Shikarpur Road, this religious complex representing three different faiths is considered by locals to be a hub of interfaith harmony and tolerance in a time of growing religious extremism. These places of worship are built in a row. On one end is the Hindu Gaushala and temple, and on the other a mosque. In the middle, there is a Baptist church.

Interestingly, in the evening, worship takes place in all the three holy places. In the temple, bells are rung and hymns are sung over loudspeakers, while in the church, the sound of religious songs is heard. The Muslim call to prayer, the adhan, resounds from the mosque.

Sharon Yousaf, pastor of the Baptist church in Jacobabad told Independent Urdu, "The three places of worship are together and their walls are side by side. But despite this, no untoward incident has taken place since the establishment of Pakistan. Believers of all three religions respect each other’s places of worship and treat each other with respect.

“Worship is held in our church in the evenings where we sing hymns. Devotional songs are also played on loudspeakers in the Hindu temple. However, when the Muslim call to prayer is made, they turn off the loudspeakers out of respect.”

According to Pastor Sharon Joseph, the land on which the church was built originally belonged to the Hindu Gaushala. During the colonial period, Christians who came to the city with Brigadier-General John Jacob were gifted this land by the local Hindus so that they might build a place of worship for themselves.

Source: Independent UK

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Pakistan Opposition discusses to move no-confidence motion to oust Imran Khan govt

Jan 13, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif and President of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) Fazlur Rehman discussed the option of a no-confidence motion to oust the Imran Khan government.

Discussing constitutional and lawful options for the ouster of the PTI-led government in Pakistan, the time has arrived that every constitutional, lawful and political option is used against the government. We also discussed the option of a no-confidence move to oust the government and it will be an agenda item at the PDM heads meeting to be held tentatively on January 25 where the final decision will be taken after consultations," Shehbaz told reporters, Dawn reported.

The two opposition leaders also decided to go ahead with the plan of March 23 long march and to vigorously oppose approval of the mini-budget in the National Assembly, reported The News International.

Notably, Finance (Supplementary) Bill 2021 also known as mini-budget seeks to amend certain laws on taxes and duties to meet the International Monetary Fund's (IMF's) conditions for the clearance of Pakistan's sixth review of the USD 6 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF) by the financial institution, paving way for the disbursement of a tranche of around USD 1 billion.

Source: Times of India

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Two brothers reunite at Kartarpur after 74 years

January 13, 2022

NAROWAL: The Kartarpur Corridor reunites two brothers who separated 74 years ago amid chaotic partition.

Muhammad Siddique, 80, and Habib, 78, separated 74 years ago at the time of partition. They hugged and cried and garlanded each other on the happy occasion of reunion.

The Kartarpur administration distributed sweets.

Siddique, a resident of Phugaran village on the outskirts of Faisalabad district, said he had contacted a Sikh social worker from Canada two years ago. He said the social worker had helped reunite the two brothers.

According to Siddique, his brother and sister had gone to his grandparents’ house with his mother in 1947.

“A civil war was raging on and my father and other family members decided to migrate immediately to save lives and we came to Pakistan,” he said.

Habib from Indian Punjab said it was the happiest day of his life.

The corridor is playing an important role in reuniting friends and relatives who separated during partition.

Source: Dawn

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Man arrested with Buddha statue in Haripur district

January 13, 2022

HARIPUR: The archaeology department officials claimed to have seized a 2,000-year-old statue of Buddha from the possession of a man from a Khanpur village here on Wednesday.

Mr Nawazuddin, sub-regional officer archaeology department, Hazara, told Dawn that field officer Gul Nabi and site supervisor Raja Adnan raided the house of Masroor Shah in Sultan Pur village on a tip-off, and recovered the Buddha’s statue from his possession. The statue and the accused were handed over to Khanpur police, where a case under sections 52 (1) and (2) of KP Antiquities Act, 2016, was registered against him.

Mr Nawazuddin said the statue was 1x1 feet in its genuine condition, which the accused had stolen during illegal digging in some area of Khanpur bordering Taxila valley, and wanted to smuggle it to Punjab for onward transportation to some foreign country for better market value.

He said the historical analysis of the statue showed that the Buddha was in a meditating position and its period ranged between 1,800 to 2,000 years old.

The official said the statue would remain with the Khanpur police till completion of the prosecution process, and would later be shifted to either Peshawar or Abbottabad museum.

Source: Dawn

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Sit for indefinite period, PPP doesn’t care, Ghani tells JI demonstrators

Imran Ayub

January 13, 2022

KARACHI: The Sindh government and the Jamaat-i-Islami were found at loggerheads again on Wednesday when the provincial administration of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) ruled out the possibility of any major change in the recently passed Sindh Local Government [Amendment] Act (SLGA) 2021 just two days after the PPP promised to amend the law with ‘mutual understanding’ prompting the right-wing opposition party to continue its sit-in that had already completed almost two weeks.

Just less than 72 hours after an exchange of cordial gestures, the two sides were again seen turned up against each other and this time it began when the key minister of the provincial cabinet came up with a categorical viewpoint of the PPP government that it could hold talks only on ‘valid’ proposals by the opposition parties and no one should have any ‘misunderstanding’ that the Sindh Local Government Ordinance (SLGO) 2001, which had ensured an empowered local government, could again see the light of day.

“The revival of the SLGO 2001 is out of the question,” said Sindh Information Minister Saeed Ghani while addressing a press conference in an aggressive tone.

“No matter if the protest sit-in continues outside the Sindh Assembly building for an indefinite period, there’s no possibility that the municipal system in the province envisaged under the SLGO 2001 introduced by General Pervez Musharraf will be here again,” he categorically said.

Jamaat says no contact was made with Sindh govt for talks; hints at staging sit-in on Sharea Faisal

He said the Sindh government had agreed to revive town municipal administrations in Karachi after amending the SLGA 2013 in line with a consensual demand of all opposition parties.

Despite being a member of the committee set up only on Sunday by the Sindh government to hold talks with the JI, the Sindh information minister addressing the media the first time after the contact between the two sides didn’t show any prospect that could lead to fruitful talks between the two sides.

‘Bloodshed warning’

Instead, he blamed the opposition parties like Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) of ‘conspiring’ to carry out bloodshed in Karachi.

“I advise the MQM and JI against destroying the peace of Karachi,” he said.

“They should not push the city to the brink of bloodshed only for securing their own vested political interests. The Jamaat, like I said earlier, has in fact been following in the MQM’s footsteps only for undue political popularity in Karachi. It raises slogans that Karachi is occupied territory. Who they [JI] are blaming for this? It should not play such dirty politics for vested interests.”

JI readies ‘plan B’

The JI, on the other hand, came up with a strong reaction and made it clear that the sit-in outside the assembly was not going to end any soon.

The party vowed to further expand its protest and hinted at staging a sit-in on Sharea Faisal under its ‘plan B’ to protest against the recent LG law and to demand rights for urban Sindh.

“Three days have already passed but the Sindh government hasn’t responded to or contacted us for talks,” JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeem ur Rahman told journalists at the sit-in venue.

Source: Dawn

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PM Khan lauds ISI’s efforts for national security, stability

January 12, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday lauded the efforts of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for national security, stability and prosperity.

The premier expressed these remarks during his visit to the ISI Secretariat in Islamabad along with key federal ministers.

According to a statement issued by the PM Office (PMO), Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa was also present on the occasion. Director General ISI Lieutenant General Nadeem Ahmed Anjum welcomed the dignitaries.

A comprehensive briefing followed by a discussion on national security and regional dynamics with a focus on the ongoing situation in Afghanistan was held.

PM Imran Khan appreciated the efforts of the country’s premier spy agency for national security, stability and prosperity and expressed satisfaction over the professional preparedness of the ISI to safeguard Pakistan’s national interest.

Source: Pakistan Today

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South Asia


We will make earning Ph.D. and Master’s degrees possible in Afghanistan: Haqqani

13 Jan 2022

Acting Minister of Higher Education of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Abdul Baqi Haqqani said that they are building a university inside Afghanistan where earning Ph.D. and Master’s Degrees would be possible.

He elaborated that the degrees would be available in the faculties of medical, engineering, theology (Islamic studies), and agriculture.

Briefing media about the ministry’s four-month activities in Kabul on Wednesday, January 12, 2022, the acting Minister said that the curriculum of Afghanistan has a huge gap with that of the world and they are trying to shorten that distance by making the curriculum more standard and up to date.

Abdul Baqi Haqqani said that there is a need of sending Afghan students abroad and for this purpose, he has met a number of ambassadors in Kabul to facilitate ground for Afghan students abroad.

About the closure of universities, “Financial problems and co-education are still predicaments and big challenges that have kept the doors of universities shut. We have been working on resolving the problems and we have progress, universities will soon be reopened.” Said Haqqani.

Source: Khaama Press

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OIC summit, Saudi Arabia helped connect Afghanistan to world: Taliban envoy

January 12, 2022


ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan’s envoy to Pakistan has praised the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for working to connect the country to the outside world and lauded Saudi Arabia for its crucial humanitarian assistance.

Afghanistan has been facing a looming humanitarian disaster since the Taliban took control in mid-August, a situation that prompted the US and other donor states to cut off financial assistance and isolate the country from the global financial system.

The sudden suspension of aid and access to banking has left nearly 23 million Afghans facing extreme levels of hunger and 9 million at risk of famine, according to UN agencies.

On Dec. 19, the OIC held the 17th extraordinary session of its Council of Foreign Ministers in Islamabad. The meeting, called by Saudi Arabia, focused on the economic crisis in Afghanistan and was also attended by delegations from the EU, and the P5+1 group of the UN Security Council, comprising the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany.

At the summit’s conclusion, OIC member states agreed to establish a humanitarian trust fund to channel assistance, appoint a special envoy, and work together with the UN in the war-ravaged country.

“It (the OIC meeting) was a channel to connect Afghanistan with the world,” Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Sardar Ahmed Khan Shakib told Arab News earlier this week, in his first media interview since assuming office.

“Through the OIC conference, we were able to show to the world the true picture of the situation in Afghanistan.”

Shakib added that Saudi Arabia had been the most generous aid contributor among OIC member states.

During the OIC’s session in Islamabad, Saudi Arabia pledged SR1 billion ($266 million) in aid to the OIC fund for Afghanistan. It has also dispatched immediate help through King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center to assist Afghans amid the economic meltdown.

“Saudi Arabia is very cooperative and has helped Afghans more than any other OIC member state,” he said. “Six aircraft full of humanitarian assistance packages from Saudi Arabia, including clothes, and food have already reached the Afghans in need.”

A KSrelief convoy of goods was also sent to Afghanistan via a land route from Pakistan.

Islamabad has as well announced a 5 billion rupee ($28.4 million) medical, food, and humanitarian aid package for its landlocked neighbor.

“The Pakistani government and other organizations, including traders and community members, have also sent assistance and are still trying to fully support the Afghan people,” Shakib said.

Source: Arab News

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Aid Must Be Coordinated With Islamic Emirate: Second Deputy Of The Prime Minister

January 13, 2022

The Second Deputy of the Prime Minister, Abdul Salam Hanafi, said that humanitarian aid must be distributed in coordination with the Islamic Emirate to the vulnerable people in Afghanistan.

He said that the employees of the Islamic Emirate should also be involved in providing aid to the people in need across the country.

“The international aid is not a permanent solution for poverty and countering starvation and for the economic crisis. We believe that the government and international community should boost up economic activities,” Hanafi told a gathering in Kabul on Wednesday.

He called for transparency in the distribution of aid.

The deputy special representative of the UN secretary-general and the humanitarian coordinator for Afghanistan said that the organization has provided humanitarian aid to aaround 18 million Afghans in 2022.

“I am very proud today to say that in the last four months we have scaled up to reach by the end of the year nearly 18 million people with humanitarian aid,” said Ramiz Alakbarov, deputy special representative of the UN secretary-general and the humanitarian coordinator for Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Economy said that it has established three committees to distribute aid for the people across the county.

“We have formed a committee in the capital to transfer the aid properly to the vulnerable people nationwide,” said Deputy Minister Lal Mohammad Walizada.

Afghanistan is facing multiple crises due to the freeze of its central bank assets and the suspension of international aid.

Meanwhile, residents of Kabul complained of “unfair distribution” of aid, saying that the aid was not provided to the vulnerable people who need it.

They also called for a transparent and fair distribution of aid. “Let the aid be continued. But it should be given to people who deserve it,” said Ghulam Nabi, a resident of Kabul.

“No one has given us anything,” said Abdul Muttalib, another resident of Kabul. “When we ask for aid—they tell us to wait, but I haven’t received anything yet,” said Rahim, another resident.

The World Food Program (WFP) said that it has provided food and cash aid to 15 million people in 2021 in Afghanistan. The WFP expects to reach over 23 million vulnerable people next year in Afghanistan.

“There should be a home-to-home survey so we can address the problem of those who are in grave need,” said Wahidullah Amani, a spokesman for the WFP. How effective is the humanitarian aid distribution in Afghanistan?

Economists gave their opinions: “The education departments, particularly teachers, can help the United Nations in the distribution of aid,” said Sayed Masoud, an economist.

The Ministry of Refugee and Repatriation denied the existence of corruption in the provision of aid to the people in need.

Source: Pak Observer

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Train passenger told police he was Osama Bin Laden after sparking terror threat

By Will Kilner

Jan 13, 2022

A rail passenger who told police he was Osama Bin Laden after sparking a terrror threat onboard a train has been jailed.

Mohammed Khalil Khan, 50, boarded a train at Manchester Victoria and began 'making threats to commit future acts of violence', a court heard.

He sparked alarm by making comments about the Taliban and the 9/11 terror attack on the World Trade Centre in New York.

Homeless Khan was jailed for 18 months at Preston Crown Court after pleading guilty to possessing a bladed article in a public place.

On August 9 2021, Khan boarded a train at Manchester Victoria station heading to Clitheroe.

A member of staff was alerted by a passenger to Khalil making threats to commit acts of violence and making comments about the atrocities of 9/11 and the Taliban.

The member of staff followed the passenger to the carriage that Khan was occupying before returning to the front of the train to call 999.

The train stopped at Darwen where the suspect was met by a team of officers, with passengers being ushered from the train to safety.

The station was locked down and the railway line closed for several hours.

Khan was then detained where he verbally abused officers and became aggressive.

Following a search of a bag that Khan was in possession of a knife was found and he was arrested.

At an earlier court hearing, Blackburn magistrates were told the railway line was closed for several hours as the army bomb disposal squad carried out X-rays of bags belonging to Khan.

He had made comments about the New York World Trade Center terror attacks on the train and later told police he was Osama Bin Laden.

A passenger approached the train guard shortly after the train had left Bolton station and reported concerns over the comments being made by Khan. He also said he could see wires coming from one of the bags.

Shortly after another passenger reported hearing Khan saying he was going to cut people’s heads off.

Detective Chief Inspector, Kay Dennison, of Counter Terrorism Policing North West, said: This was a terrifying incident for the passengers to be stuck on a moving train with Khan making such concerning threats.

Source: The Telegraph And Argus UK

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Kabul in a blackout, Uzbekistan’s electricity to Afghanistan decreased by 60%

13 Jan 2022

Afghanistan Electricity body- Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS)- on Wednesday, January, 12 said that Uzbekistan’s importing electricity to Afghanistan decreased by 60 percent which has led to blackout in Kabul.

Spokesperson of DABS Hekmatullah Maiwandi in a video clip said that Uzbekistan has made the decision unilaterally and they have not been informed.

Hekmatullah Maiwandi said that Uzbekistan has cited technical problems for the decrease and added that the issue will be resolved in two or three days.

Officials in DABS said that decrease in importing electricity from Uzbekistan has caused a shortage of electricity and blackout in 16 provinces including the Afghan capital Kabul.

They have also recommended people to be thrifty in using electricity until the issues get resolved.

Source: Khaama Press

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Taliban pay in wheat in lieu of cash as economic crisis bites

Jan 13, 2022

The Taliban administration said on Tuesday it was expanding its “food for work” programme, in which it uses donated wheat to pay thousands of public sector employees instead of cash as a financial crisis intensifies.

Wheat, largely donated by India to the previous US-backed Kabul government, is being used to pay 40,000 workers 10kg of wheat per day for working five hours a day, agriculture officials told a news conference.

The scheme, which has largely paid labourers on public works programmes in Kabul, will be expanded around the country, they said.

“We are ready to help our people as much as we can,” said Fazel Bari Fazli, deputy minister of administration and finance at the Ministry of Agriculture.

The Taliban administration has already received an additional 18 tonnes of wheat from Pakistan with a promise of 37 tonnes more and is in negotiation with India for 55 tonnes, according to Fazli.

“We have lots of plans for food for work programme,” he said. It was not clear how much of the donated wheat would be used as direct humanitarian aid and how much to pay workers in Afghanistan.

The expanding programme underlines the growing conundrum faced by the Taliban administration as cash in the country dries up and could raise questions among donors over the use of humanitarian aid for government purposes while strict restrictions remain on financial flows into the country.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Afghan Taliban Warn Northern Neighbours Of 'Consequences' Of Not Returning Aircraft

12 January 2022

The ruling Taliban in Afghanistan have warned neighboring Tajikistan and Uzbekistan of "consequences" in case they fail to return the Afghan Air Force aircraft and helicopters that were flown into their territories by fleeing pilots during the US military exit in August last year.

All Afghan Air Force aircraft and helicopters "taken abroad must be returned... (without) testing our patience," Taliban Defense Minister Mawlawi Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid said in his speech at an Afghan Air Force event in Kabul on Tuesday.

"I respectfully call on Uzbekistan and Tajikistan not to test our patience and not to force us to take all possible retaliatory steps to retake the aircraft," the Afghan official was quoted as saying by TOLO News.

In his speech, the Taliban official said all the pilots and flight engineers who had fled the country were welcome to return to Afghanistan. He described the pilots as heroes.

"They wouldn't be honored in foreign countries. We will honor them. They are the treasure of our country," the Taliban minister said in his Tuesday speech.

Afghanistan had over 164 active military warplanes before the US withdrawal and now there are only 81 left in the country, according to the Defense Ministry reports cited by TOLO.

Meanwhile, Afghan pilots who were held at an Uzbek camp, near the city of Termez, before their evacuation had described their stay in the country as captivity. Their hopes began to lift just a week ago when US officials arrived to carry out biometric screening of the personnel.

A former US diplomat said the United States owed it to the fugitive Afghan pilots. "I hope we have plans underway to make sure the aircraft they got out get back to the United States and certainly do not return to the Taliban," said John Herbst, a former US ambassador to Uzbekistan.

Dozens of Afghan Air Force aircraft and helicopters, including A-29 light attack planes and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, were flown out of Afghanistan as the country's ground forces collapsed and the Taliban swept to power.

Separately, Reuters reported on Tuesday that US-trained Afghan pilots and other personnel in Uzbekistan had begun leaving the country for the United Arab Emirates.

A pilot, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the transfer, which was expected to take place in several waves, had started on Sunday.

Source: Press TV

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North America


US says 'weeks, not months' remain for nuclear agreement with Iran

Michael Gabriel Hernandez  



Ongoing talks to return Iran and the US to mutual compliance with an historic 2015 nuclear non-proliferation agreement have weeks, not months, to complete, the State Department said on Wednesday.

Spokesman Ned Price described a "very, very short" timeline for the talks to conclude productively, saying "we are not talking about a protracted period of time that remains."

"We are talking about potential weeks, not months," he added.

Former US President Donald Trump unilaterally exited the agreement in 2018 in defiance of all the agreement's other participants, and re-imposed biting US sanctions that were lifted under the terms of the pact while issuing a slew of new economic penalties.

Iran, in retaliation, began to take steps away from its nuclear commitments under the international agreement in a bid to have Washington lift its financial salvos.

Ongoing talks in Vienna, Austria to return the US and Iran to full compliance with the pact resumed on Dec. 27, and Price said last week that there had been modest progress on accomplishing the goal.

On Saturday, Russian and Iranian officials said progress has been made in Vienna, and Mikhail Ulyanov, the top diplomat leading Russia's delegation, said the talks are moving "slowly but steadily."

Price maintained this week, however, that while there is not a strict temporal timeline for the talks to reach fruition, the US is measuring progress against a narrowing window based on Iran's continued nuclear advances.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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US grants South Korea an Iran sanctions exemption

13 January ,2022

The United States has granted South Korea a sanctions exemption, allowing the country to pay millions of dollars of overdue compensation to an Iranian investor over a 2010 dispute.

Seoul's foreign ministry said it had received a “specific license” from the US Treasury Department allowing the South Korean government to pay compensation to Iran's Dayyani Group.

“The license allows using the US financial system to pay compensation to the Iranian private investor,” the ministry said in a statement.

In 2018, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes ordered Seoul to pay 73 billion won ($61 million) to the Dayyani Group over a failed takeover of Daewoo Electronics in 2010.

The license will serve as an “important foundation” for settling the dispute with the Iranian investor, the ministry added, expressing hope that “it will help improve bilateral relations”.

The announcement comes more than a week after South Korea sent top diplomats to Vienna for talks with US negotiators working to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

The Islamic Republic was South Korea's third-largest Middle Eastern trade partner before the United States unilaterally withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers and reimposed crippling sanctions.

Iran had been a key oil supplier to resource-poor South Korea and in turn imported industrial equipment, household appliances and vehicle spare parts from Seoul.

Last year, Iran threatened South Korea with legal action unless Seoul released the more than $7 billion in frozen funds for oil shipments.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Pentagon links Iran intelligence to ‘MuddyWater’ hacking group

13 January ,2022

The Pentagon’s cybersecurity arm on Wednesday said it has tied a hacking group known as MuddyWater to Iranian intelligence.

In doing so, US Cyber Command also identified several open-source software tools being used by the hacking group and disclosed them in an effort to thwart further attacks. MuddyWater allegedly used the tools to gain access to global computer networks.

A US Cyber Command spokeswoman said disclosure of the hacking group provides a “holistic picture of how Iranian hackers might be collecting information through the use of malware. The cyber agency described MuddyWater as operating under the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security.

The Iranian intelligence agency identifies political opponents through domestic surveillance and “surveils anti-regime activists abroad through its network of agents placed in Iran’s embassies, according to US Cyber Command, citing research from the Congressional Research Service.

Iran’s foreign ministry didn’t immediately respond Wednesday to a request seeking comment.

“Iran fields multiple teams that conduct cyber espionage, cyberattack and information operations, said Sarah Jones, the principal analyst for threat intelligence at the cybersecurity firm Mandiant Inc.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran, US lock horns over sanctions relief, nuclear curbs in Vienna talks

12 January ,2022

Iran and the US are displaying little flexibility on core issues in indirect nuclear talks, raising questions about whether a compromise can be found soon to renew a 2015 deal that could dispel fears of a wider Middle East war, diplomats say.

After eight rounds of talks, the thorniest points remain the speed and scope of lifting sanctions on Tehran -- including Iran's demand for a US guarantee of no further punitive steps -- and how and when to restore curbs on Iran's atomic work.

The nuclear deal limited Iran’s uranium enrichment activity to make it harder for it to develop nuclear arms -- an ambition Tehran denies -- in return for lifting international sanctions.

But former US President Donald Trump ditched the pact in 2018, saying it did not do enough to curb Iran’s nuclear activities, ballistic missile program and regional influence, and reimposed sanctions that badly damaged Iran’s economy.

After waiting for a year, Iran responded to Trump's pressure by gradually breaching the accord, including rebuilding stockpiles of enriched uranium, refining it to higher fissile purity and installing advanced centrifuges to speed up output.

Following months of stop-start talks that began after Joe Biden replaced Trump in the White House, Western officials now say time is running out to resurrect the pact. But Iranian officials deny they are under time pressure, arguing the economy can survive thanks to oil sales to China.

‘We need guarantees’

A former Iranian official said Iran's rulers “are certain that their uncompromising, maximalist approach will give results”.

France said on Tuesday that despite some progress at the end of December, Iran and world powers were still far away from reviving the deal.

The US State Department said on Jan. 4 the issues “at the heart of the negotiations” were sanctions relief and the nuclear steps that Iran would take to return the accord.

Iran insists on immediate removal of all Trump-era sanctions in a verifiable process. Washington has said it would remove curbs inconsistent with the 2015 pact if Iran resumed compliance with the deal, implying it would leave in place others such as those imposed under terrorism or human rights measures.

“Americans should give assurances that no new sanctions under any label would be imposed on Iran in future. We need guarantees that America will not abandon the deal again,” said a senior Iranian official.

Iran's Nournews, a media outlet affiliated to the Supreme National Security Council, reported on Wednesday that Iran's key conditions at the talks “are assurances and verifications.”

US officials were not immediately available to comment on the question of guarantees. However, US officials have said Biden cannot promise the US government will not renege on the agreement because the nuclear deal is a non-binding political understanding, not a legally-binding treaty.

Asked to comment on that US constitutional reality, an Iranian official said: “It's their internal problem”.

On the issue of obtaining verification that sanctions have been removed -- at which point Iran would have to revive curbs on its nuclear programme -- the senior Iranian official said Iran and Washington differed over the timetable.

“Iran needs a couple of weeks to verify sanctions removal (before it reverses its nuclear steps). But the other party says a few days would be enough to load oil on a ship, export it and transfer its money through banking system,” the official said.


Shadowing the background of the talks have been threats by Israel, widely believed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear weaponry but which sees Iran as a existential threat, to attack Iranian nuclear installations if it deems diplomacy ultimately futile in containing Tehran’s atomic abilities and potential.

Iran says it would hit back hard if it were attacked.

A Western diplomat said “early-February is a realistic end-date for Vienna talks” as the longer Iran remains outside the deal, the more nuclear expertise it will gain, shortening the time it might need to race to build a bomb if it chose to.

“Still we are not sure whether Iran really wants a deal,” said another Western diplomat.

Iran has ruled out adhering to any “artificial” deadline.

“Several times, they asked Iran to slow down its nuclear work during the talks, and even Americans conveyed messages about an interim deal through other parties,” said a second Iranian official, close to Iran's negotiating team.

“It was rejected by Iran.”

Asked for comment, a State Department spokesperson who declined to be identified told Reuters: “Of course we — and the whole international community — want Iran to slow down their nuclear program and have communicated that very clearly.”

“Beyond that, we don’t negotiate the details in public, but these reports are far off.”

Other points of contention include Iran's advanced nuclear centrifuges -- machines that purify uranium for use as fuel in atomic power plants or, if purified to a high level, weapons.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran, Venezuela, 6 other UN members lose voting rights because of unpaid dues

Michael Hernandez 



Eight UN member states, including Iran and Venezuela, have lost their voting rights because of unpaid dues, according to documents revealed on Wednesday.

In an Oct. 11 letter, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres identified 11 countries as being in arrears under the terms of the UN charter, including Antigua and Barbados, Comoros, the Republic of Congo, Guinea, Iran, Papua New Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Sudan, Vanuatu and Venezuela.

The UN charter stipulates that members that owe money that is equal to or in excess of dues in the two preceding years will lose voting rights. It does allow the General Assembly to "permit such a Member to vote if it is satisfied that the failure to pay is due to conditions beyond the control of the Member."

Such exceptions were made for the African nations of Comoros, Sao Tome and Principe and Somalia through the end of the assembly's current 76th session.

Still, Iran faces a minimum payment of more than $18 million to have its voting rights restored while Venezuela faces a whopping sum of nearly $40 million. Tumult-stricken Sudan, meanwhile, must make a minimum payment of nearly $300,000.

Their suspensions take effect immediately.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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France’s Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin Orders Closure Of Cannes Mosque Because Of ‘Anti-Semitic’ Remarks

12 January ,2022

France’s interior minister said on Wednesday he had ordered the closure of a mosque on the French Riviera because of anti-Semitic remarks made there.

Gerald Darmanin said the mosque in the glitzy seaside city of Cannes was also guilty of supporting CCIF and BarakaCity, two associations that the government dissolved at the end of last year for spreading “Islamist” propaganda.

Darmanin told broadcaster CNews that he had consulted with the mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, before shutting down the mosque.

The move comes two weeks after authorities closed a mosque in the north of the country because of what they said was the radical nature of its imam’s preaching.

The mosque in Beauvais, a town of 50,000 people some 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Paris, was shut for six months because the sermons there incited hatred and violence and “defend jihad,” authorities said.

Last October, a mosque in Allonnes, 200 kilometers west of Paris, was closed also for six months for sermons defending armed “jihad” and “terrorism,” according to regional authorities.

The French government announced last year that it would step up checks of places of worship and associations suspected of spreading radical Islamic propaganda.

The crackdown came after the October 2020 murder of teacher Samuel Paty, who was targeted following an online campaign against him for having shown controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo during a civics class.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Son of hate preacher Abu Hamza jailed for identity fraud

January 12, 2022

LONDON: The eldest son of hate preacher Abu Hamza has been sentenced to almost four years in jail after being convicted of laundering £350,000 ($476,000) with a banking accomplice.

Tito ibn Sheikh, 35, set up fraudulent bank accounts with the corrupt HSBC employee between May 2018 and December 2019.

The eldest of Abu Hamza’s eight children, Ibn Sheikh set up fraudulent bank accounts using 14 fake identities, a London court heard.

Following in his father’s criminal footsteps, Ibn Sheikh had been jailed for 12 years in 2014 for leading a gang who kidnapped and tortured a man over a £15,000 debt. He was released from prison on license while he committed his financial fraud.

Judge Andrew Goymer said Ibn Sheikh had “used considerable skill, ingenuity and industry towards this fraudulent scheme.”

Ibn Sheikh was sentenced to three years and nine months behind bars after admitting two counts of conspiracy to convert criminal property, possession of an article for use in fraud, possession of fraudulent identity documents and possession of criminal property.

Abu Hamza, 63, was the notorious preacher and terror supporter at Finsbury Park Mosque in north London. He is jailed for life in the US after being convicted of terror offenses there and in Britain.

Arab News featured him in its “Preachers of Hate” series, outlining his connection with violent extremism.

Ibn Sheikh’s lawyer Bill Evans told the court that his client had changed names to distance himself from Abu Hamza.

“His father has a degree of notoriety, which has caused him substantial difficulty and he and other members of his family have changed their names as a result,” Evans said.

Southwark Crown Court was told that on the occasion of Ibn Sheikh’s arrest in December 2019, he was found in possession of 12 iPhones, 10 bank cards in various names and 14 different identity documents.

Prosecuting barrister Kelly Brocklehurst said Ibn Sheikh would set about creating identities around his documents through utility bills, national insurance cards and UK driving licenses.

Source: Arab News

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France urges EU sanctions against Mali

January 12, 2022

PARIS: France is to press the European Union to agree sanctions against Mali after its military-dominated leadership shelved a timetable for elections, the French foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Jean-Yves Le Drian told AFP in an interview that Mali risked being “suffocated” unless the military junta of the West African country lived up to its responsibilities and stopped seeking to “fool” the country’s partners.

Le Drian, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said that the EU measures would be in line with the unprecedented sanctions agreed with West African economic bloc ECOWAS which Paris has strongly supported.

“We are going to propose to apply these sanctions at a European level, both those against Malian leaders but also the economic and financial measures,” Le Drian said.

He added that the issue would be discussed by EU foreign ministers at a meeting in the French city of Brest from Thursday, adding that Mali was now a “European issue.”

France is moving to draw down forces deployed in Mali and the region to fight an extremist insurgency in favor of a multinational force called Takuba including troops from EU states.

As well as closing borders and imposing a trade embargo, Mali’s regional neighbors also cut off financial aid and froze the country’s assets at the Central Bank of West African States.

The move followed a proposal by Mali’s interim government last month to stay in power for up to five years before staging elections, despite international demands that it respect a promise to hold elections in February.

“The junta is trying to fool all of its partners,” said Le Drian, noting how Bamako had called for help from Russian Wagner mercenaries as well as the “unacceptable” slipping of the election schedule.

“It is now up to the junta to take responsibility. Otherwise it runs the risk of seeing this country being suffocated.”

With France already seeking to tighten the vice on the military rulers, flag-carrier Air France said Wednesday that in line with official decisions it was suspending flights to and from Mali until further notice.

Mali’s relations with its neighbors and partners have steadily deteriorated since a coup led by Col. Assimi Goita in August 2020 against the country’s elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Source: Arab News

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Gordon Brown calls for Afghanistan donor conference

January 12, 2022

LONDON: Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called on Foreign Secretary Liz Truss to help organize an aid conference to raise $4.5 billion for Afghanistan, warning that tens of millions of Afghans face starvation if funds are not raised.

“We are witnessing a shameful but also self-defeating failure to prevent famine,” Brown said, adding that Britain should lead on restarting aid to the Taliban-controlled country.

In an opinion piece for The Guardian, he wrote that cash has been available to support Afghans but donor countries fear retribution following strict US sanctions that were applied on the Taliban regime.

Brown said those sanctions could and should be relaxed if the Taliban demonstrates progress on women’s rights.

The UN on Tuesday launched a call for $4.5 billion in aid for 2022, the largest appeal in the organization’s history.

The US has committed $308 million, which are expected to be sent through various independent humanitarian groups.

Brown said this is insufficient, adding: “The 35-country, American-led coalition that ruled Afghanistan for 20 years under the banner of helping the Afghan people has still put up only a quarter of the money that would allow UN humanitarians to stop children dying this winter.”

He said he had written to Truss and Ursula von der Leyen, the EU Commission president, calling for them to host a donor conference “in January or at the latest in February” to allow the urgently needed aid to be sent.

The UN has detailed how the Afghan economy has totally destabilized since US-led forces left the country last summer, with a 40 percent contraction mooted by experts.

International aid was plugged almost instantly once the Taliban took power amid US sanctions.

“The devastation the world was warned about months ago is no longer a distant prospect,” Brown wrote, adding that the UN “forecasts that if we do not act, 97 percent of Afghans will soon be living below the poverty line.”

He outlined how roughly 90 percent of the country’s health clinics “do not have the funds to keep themselves open.”

Source: Arab News

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World Bank notes surprising improvement in Pakistan

Anwar Iqbal

January 13, 2022

WASHINGTON: Growth in Pakistan surprised on the upside last year, supported by improving domestic demand, record-high remittance inflows, a narrow targeting of lockdowns, and accommodative monetary policy, says a World Bank report released on Wednesday.

The bank’s Global Economic Prospects report 2022 projects that growth in the South Asian region (SAR) will accelerate to 7.6 percent in 2022, as pandemic-related disruptions fade, before slowing to 6.0 percent in 2023.

The World Bank has revised growth projections for the region since June 2021, because of “better prospects in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.”

The report projects that Pakistan’s economy will grow by 3.4 percent in the current fiscal and at 4 percent in 2022-23, benefiting from structural reforms enhancing export competitiveness and improving the financial viability of the power sector.

It also estimates India’s economic growth to be 8.3 percent in the current fiscal year and 8.7 percent in 2022-23. The 8.3 percent GDP growth for the current fiscal year is the same as what the bank projected in October 2021.

The report notes that India’s growth rate in the current and next fiscal years will be stronger than those of its immediate neighbors. The bank predicts Bangladesh’s growth at 6.4 and 6.9 percent in 2021-22 and 2022-23, respectively, while Nepal’s is to grow at 3.9 percent this fiscal and at 4.7 percent in the next.

Global economic growth, however, will slow down to 4.1 percent this year from an estimated 5.5 percent in 2021, the report adds, warning that “Omicron-related economic disruptions could substantially reduce growth” to as low as 3.4 percent. The report points out that real interest rates in Pakistan dropped precipitously during 2020 and remained negative through 2021. The report notes that both Bangladesh and Pakistan saw their goods trade deficit widen to record levels on strong domestic demand and rising energy prices.

Monetary policy became more accommodative in SAR as real interest rates went further negative on rising inflation expectations, but still low policy rates. The trend only reversed in Pakistan following a rapid policy rate increase.

In Pakistan, however, facing fiscal pressures caused real expenditure to contract in 2021.

The report also reviews the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August, noting that it led to a rapid cessation of international grant support, and loss of access to overseas assets and the international financial system, driving a humanitarian and economic crisis.

The crisis also disrupted food and energy imports to Afghanistan by causing a shortage of foreign exchange and dysfunction of the financial sector.

“Prices for basic household goods, including food, are rising rapidly, while private sector activity has collapsed,” the report notes. “The humanitarian response is being curtailed by the collapse of the banking sector and an inability to transfer funds internationally.”

In Pakistan and Sri Lanka, long-term bond yields have rebounded rapidly in late 2021 reversing the lows reached during the pandemic.

High inflation in Pakistan led to the removal of monetary accommodation. The report expects the region’s monetary policy to tighten but continue to be moderately accommodative in 2022, except in Pakistan where high inflation led to the removal of monetary accommodation.

Source: Dawn

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Serbian president vows no mercy for those who violate peace

Mustafa Talha Öztürk  



Serbia’s president said Wednesday that the country will show no mercy to those who violate peace, alluding to a recent nationalist incident in a southwestern town.

Aleksandar Vucic made the remarks during a visit to the Serbian town of Priboj following a series of anti-Bosniak incidents at the beginning of this year.

''All those responsible for causing trouble will be sanctioned, and we must teach our children how to live together,'' said Vucic.

Tensions had risen after a video surfaced online showing off-duty police officers celebrating the birth of a child by singing a song glorifying the Srebrenica genocide and other war crimes.

"Priboj is a test whether we are humans or not, and it must not happen that children sing to someone about shooting at mosques," Vucic said, adding "as we respect our churches, icons and monasteries, we must respect our Muslim neighbors."

"I'm a Serb, Serbia's president, and of course I love all Serbs. But I cannot imagine Priboj without Bosniaks, and it won't be without them because they have the same rights as the Serbs," he said.

Vucic said that Serbia is equally Bosniak and Serb, and whoever thinks they can burn, kill, shoot and slaughter will end up in prison.

"Anyone who thinks of endangering someone's life, house, mosque and church will have to deal with a state that will have no mercy and will act ruthlessly, and I therefore ask such people not to challenge the state and not to test the strength of the state," he added.

Touring the plant of the Turkish company Flex Academy in Priboj, which produces flexible stainless steel hoses, Vucic promised that the company would open another plant in the town.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Germany to extend military mission in Iraq

Ayhan Simsek  



Germany will extend its military mission in Iraq until the end of October, the government announced on Wednesday.

Bundeswehr troops will continue to support the Global Coalition Against Daesh, take part in aerial surveillance, and provide training to the security forces of Iraq, the government said in a statement.

“The deployment is in response to Iraq’s request for assistance and it will focus on the capacity building of Iraqi security forces,” the statement said.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Southeast Asia


China Says Guantanamo Bay Real 'Detention Camp' for Muslims



Beijing has weighed in on the 20th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo Bay by calling on the United States to address its human rights violations and finally close the notorious offshore military prison.

Some 39 detainees—many without charges—remain at the facility in southern Cuba.

The question of whether to shut down "Gitmo" for good has carried over successive administrations, with the United Nations among several leading organizations calling for a swift and conclusive resolution by the U.S.

At a regular press conference in Beijing on Wednesday, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin, called the continued operation of the prison "a dark chapter" in the world's human rights record.

"If ever there was a 'detention camp' that holds Muslims, it would be Guantanamo Bay," he said, alluding to allegations that the Chinese government has interned over a million Uyghur Muslims in mass detention centers in Xinjiang in the country's northwest—a charge Beijing denies.

"The United States has promised more than once that it would close the prison," said Wang. "However, 20 years later, 39 people are still being kept there, while few of them have been charged with or convicted of crimes."

Wang accused the U.S. of operating "black sites" such as Guantanamo Bay all over the world. The prison, the official said, is "only the tip of the iceberg."

"The U.S. should sincerely reflect on itself, immediately close Guantanamo Bay and all other secret prisons across the world," he said.

"It should stop atrocities including arbitrary detention and the torture of prisoners, deliver apologies and compensations to the victims and bring to justice those who authorized and committed the torture."

A soldier walks through a gate at Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base on August 23, 2004, in Guantanamo, Cuba. On the 20th anniversary of the military prison’s opening, on January 12, 2022, the Chinese government and United Nations experts called on the United States to shut down the notorious facility for good. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Guantanamo Bay, which is located within a U.S. naval base, was opened on January 11, 2002, during George W. Bush's first administration, as part of the "war on terror" following the 9/11 attacks.

In the two decades since, some 780 inmates have been held at the facility, including a peak of 684 detainees in June 2003.

Former President Barack Obama vowed to close the military prison in his first year, but opposition from Congress and challenges related to the secure transfer of inmates meant the otherwise historic decision dragged on indefinitely until it was reversed by his successor, Donald Trump.

President Joe Biden has committed to closing Gitmo by the time he leaves office.

On Monday, a report commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council, of which the U.S. is a member, found that only nine of the the prison's 39 detainees have been charged or convicted of crimes.

"Between 2002 and 2021, nine detainees died in custody, two from natural causes and seven reportedly committed suicide. None had been charged or convicted of a crime," said the report authored by a panel of independent human rights experts.

"Despite forceful, repeated and unequivocal condemnation of the operation of this horrific detention and prison complex with its associated trial processes, the United States continues to detain persons, many of whom have never been charged with any crime," they wrote.

Source: News Week

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After Thai-BRN Talks, Malaysia Says Deep South Solution Will Take Years


After two days of in-person talks between Thai officials and southern separatist BRN rebels, the Malaysian facilitator for the peace dialogue said Wednesday that it would take at least two years to find a solution to end the conflict in Thailand’s Deep South.

Both sides discussed a three-point plan, which includes a reduction in violence as a basis for further negotiations to end the decades-old insurgency spearheaded by the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (National Revolutionary Front), a Thai official said.

“Both parties finally met face-to-face after not being able to do so for nearly two years,” Malaysian facilitator Abdul Rahim Noor, a former police inspector-general who represents his government and brokered the talks, told BenarNews in an exclusive interview.

“The discussion was done in a peaceful manner and conducted in three languages – Thai, English, and Malay. I spoke in English, which was translated to Thai for the Thai government, and Malay for BRN representative, as they are more comfortable speaking in Malay,” he said of the two-day round of talks that opened on Tuesday.

Rahim Noor declined to give full details about the talks held at a Kuala Lumpur area hotel.

“I cannot share that but I can tell you that both sides are keen to find a solution to the situation in the Deep South,” he said.

“Only a political solution can solve the situation in the Deep South, but finding the solutions that both can agree with will take time. At least another two years.”

On the Thai side, a military official close to the peace talks said Thailand’s delegation and the BRN representative s discussed “a three-point framework which will be used as a roadmap for further talks.”

“The proposed framework includes violence reduction, political participation, and discussion mechanism in the [Deep South] region,” said a statement from the source, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

After the meeting ended BenarNews tried to talk to Anas Abdulrahman (also known as Hipni Mareh), the head of the BRN delegation, but he declined to comment.

The latest round of talks ended Wednesday evening after eight hours of discussion, a Malaysian security official involved in the meeting told BenarNews on condition of anonymity, because he also was not authorized to talk to reporters.

The Deep South encompasses Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala provinces and four districts of Songkhla province. Since the insurgency reignited in January 2004, more than 7,000 people have been killed and 13,500 others injured in violence across the mainly Muslim and Malay-speaking border region, according to Deep South Watch, a local think-tank.

The armed separatist movement against Buddhist-majority Thailand began in the 1960s. The movement’s primary demand has been independence for the region.

‘Patani Darussalam’ proposal

Gen. Wanlop Rugsanaoh headed the 10-member Thai panel at the peace talks.

“The representative from Thai national security council, as well as from Thai Attorney General Office, are also here,” Rahim Noor, the Malaysian peace broker, told BenarNews during the interview conducted at the hotel during a break in Wednesday’s proceedings.

Including the facilitator, a total of 10 officials, including from the Malaysian police’s Special Branch, were also present at the talks.

Rahim Noor said the two Thai sides also discussed a proposal by BRN on the creation of an autonomous “Patani Darussalam.”

Source: Benar News

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Sabah allocates RM164.12 mln for education, religious development

Jan 13, 2022

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government has allocated RM164.12 million for the implementation of education and religious development programmes in the state this year, said Chief Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor(pix).

He said the allocation was channeled to the relevant government agencies, religious and educational bodies as part of the state government's efforts to improve the quality of human capital and ensure the well -being of the people.

“In line with the Keluarga Malaysia (Malaysian Family) spirit, the allocation will benefit all religions and races in the state,“ he said in a statement here today.

Hajiji said for this year, the state government had also agreed to allocate RM47 million for non-Muslim religious bodies, as well as for vernacular, missionary and private schools.

The amount is the largest ever approved and it reflected the sincerity of the Sabah government to ensure the welfare of all races and religions in the state is taken care of, he added.

The Chief Minister said the state government had also allocated RM1 million to be distributed to various associations and lion dance groups in conjunction with the Chinese New Year celebration in in Sabah.

Source: The Sun Daily

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Malaysian ISIS fighters in Syrian camps may slip into country, pose danger: Report

JAN 10, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - At the height of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria's (ISIS) stranglehold in both countries, more than 100 Malaysian fighters joined the so-called holy war, some even with family in tow.

Many recorded their fight on social media too.

But seven years later, following the defeat of the terror group, and with 16 Malaysians repatriated to Malaysia, more than 50 fighters and their families remain in refugee camps or have unknown location status.

The Malaysian police have identified 56 Malaysians - 19 men, 12 women, 17 boys and eight girls - who are living in Syrian camps or at large.

Police said 10 women, 12 boys and five girls are living at the Al-Hol refugee camp in north-eastern Syria, while nine Malaysian men are in Al-Hasakah prison. One is in prison in Idlib.

Idlib province, which is near the border of Turkey, is in the north-western side of Syria, which has been the scene of many battles.

Al-Hol holds individuals and their families who were in ISIS and until January 2021, it has been reported that the camp's population was over 60,000, having grown from 10,000 at the beginning of 2019.

It has been reported that there are ISIS militants from more than 50 countries staying at the camp.

Described as the "most dangerous camp in the world", it has a huge presence of ISIS elements and regular killings.

"A major challenge for the authorities is that the Malaysian nationals are held in camps controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDI), which the Malaysian government does not recognise diplomatically.

"Given that many of these camps have become the hotbed of radicalisation, these unrepatriated individuals could be further radicalised, and later attempt to slip into the country," said a newly released report.

The report on Malaysia was part of the January 2022 Annual Threat Assessment issued by the Singapore-based International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University.

The United States-backed SDI is an alliance of forces comprising Kurdish, Arab, Assyrian/Syriac and several smaller Armenian, Turkish and Chechen forces fighting for a secular state, according to a report.

Against this complex background, militants linked to ISIS have also reportedly launched an ideological campaign to persuade these Malaysians living in Syrian camps to fight and re-establish a caliphate in the Middle East.

"The Malaysians, who are staying back, have been brainwashed into believing that the fight isn't over and that ISIS will make a comeback.

"The ISIS presence in these camps is too strong and radicalisation continues," said a source.

According to the ICPVTR report, at least 48 Malaysians (42 men, one woman and five children) have been killed in Syria.

"The recruitment of Malaysians into Syria has largely dropped in recent years, following the deaths of high-profile Malaysian ISIS fighters and recruiters such as Muhammad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi, Fudhail Omar, Akel Zainal and Muhammad Nizam Ariffin.

"The Malaysian militant landscape, which has traditionally been driven by charismatic individuals such as Wanndy, has remained leaderless since his death, which may explain the general drop in militant recruitment and activity in the country.

"However, the exact numbers and identities of Malaysians still actively involved in militant activities in Syria and other conflict zones remain unknown," it said.

Muhammad Wanndy, also known as Abu Hamzah Al-Fateh, was killed in a drone attack in Raqqa, Syria, on April 29, 2017, and was believed to be the mastermind of several attacks in the region, including at the Movida entertainment centre in Puchong, Selangor, in 2016.

In that incident, two ISIS sympathisers on a motorcycle lobbed a hand grenade into the club, injuring eight.

Muhammad Fudhail @ Abu Qutaibah was killed in an air strike in 2017 in Raqqa by the Syrian military.

The ICPVTR report added: "With regard to its citizens still in Syria, Malaysia says it will continue to maintain an open-door repatriation policy.

"Some individuals have expressed a willingness to return home, while others have rejected the government's offer."

Source: Straits Times

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Arab World


Senior Hezbollah official says Saudi Arabia must stop 'bullying' regional countries

12 January 2022

A high-ranking official of Lebanon's Hezbollah resistance movement has slammed Saudi Arabia for interfering in the internal affairs of the Arab country, urging the kingdom to stop “bullying” regional countries.

“For those interested in [Lebanon’s] ties with Saudi Arabia, we [announce that we] want Saudi Arabia to stop the policy of bullying nations”, Hashim Safi al-Din, the head of Hezbollah's Executive Council, said on Wednesday, noting that Riyadh “blatantly interferes in our country and we ask it not to incite the Lebanese against each other.”

“Saudi Arabia is required to stop harming our country," Safi al-Din added.

His remarks come amid tensions between Beirut and Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia in October expelled Lebanon's ambassador and banned its imports after then Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi called for an end to the Riyadh-led aggression on Yemen.

Last month, Kordahi submitted his resignation to ease tensions with Saudi Arabia, but the rift is still ongoing.

Safi al-Din also stressed that Saudi attempts to subjugate Lebanon are to no avail.

“I tell America, the West and Saudi Arabia that you have not known the nature of this resistance, the strength of its people and faith so far.”

He also said that the designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist group is an “aggression” that the group strongly rejects.

“We want the world to know that whoever targets the resistance with a word has to hear the answer.”

Hezbollah was established following the 1982 Israeli invasion and occupation of southern Lebanon. The movement drove out Israeli forces from Lebanon in May 2000.

Since then, the group has grown into a powerful military force, dealing repeated blows to the Israeli military, including during a 33-day war in July 2006.

Safi al-Din made the remarks during a conference for Saudi opposition figures in memory of the late prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr in southern suburbs of Beirut.

During the conference, he stressed the movement’s support for the opposition in the Arabian Peninsula, noting that “raising the voice does not mean interference in Saudi Arabia,” but it is rather an act of defending the oppressed.

Source: Press TV

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Ansarullah: Saudi-led coalition’s use of Iraq war footage ‘ridiculous, pathetic’

12 January 2022

The spokesman for Yemen’s popular Ansarullah resistance movement has lambasted the Saudi-led military coalition for having used footage from a documentary on the 2003 US invasion of Iraq to accuse Yemeni armed forces of stockpiling ballistic missiles in the besieged Red Sea port city of Hudaydah as utterly “ridiculous and pathetic.”

“The fact that Spokesman of the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen Colonel Turki al-Maliki has admitted to his great scandal about the footage, and said such missile sites do not exist other than in films is ridiculous and pathetic,” Mohammed Abdulsalam said in a post published on his Twitter page.

He added, “What is called the margin of error is the gravest sin that aggressors have repeatedly committed against Yemeni people with the support of the United States.”

Maliki, who traveled to Yemen’s southern Shabwah Province on Tuesday, has officially acknowledged that the coalition’s recent footage about the Yemeni army’s missile depot in Hudaydah was fake.

Earlier, he had claimed to have incriminating evidence of weapons development in Hudaydah. The remarks were broadcast on the Saudi state-run al-Saudiya channel, and shared to its YouTube channel.

“Hudaydah port is the primary port for receiving Iranian ballistic missiles. The missiles are put together and assembled in [the port] under the supervision of Iranian security officials,” he claimed, while displaying purported satellite images of the coastal area.

“I will show you a video which shows the ballistic missiles in Hudaydah,” Maliki continued. At this moment, a two-second clip of two large warheads is shown on screen.

The clip was taken from the 2009 documentary “Severe Clear,” featuring videos taken by US Marine Mike Scotti at the beginning of Iraq’s invasion by Western forces.

The original footage, shot in Baghdad around April 2003, shows two large missiles, with an American voice saying, “So much for him [presumably Saddam Hussein] not having weapons.” It then sweeps to the other side of the room to show US soldiers.

It is believed that the Saudi coalition used the footage to justify the bombing of a port in Hudaydah – a strategically important maritime city that has been the site of intense fighting between Saudi-led coalition forces and Yemeni army troops.

Saudi warplanes launch fresh airstrikes across Yemen

Meanwhile, Saudi military aircraft have carried out a fresh round of airstrikes on Yemen’s oil-producing Shabwah Province, the central provinces of Ma’rib and al-Bayda, as well as the northern province of al-Jawf.

Yemen’s al-Masirah television network, citing local sources, reported that Saudi warplanes launched 37 air raids on Bayhan, Ain, and Harib districts of Shabwah on Tuesday evening.

No reports about possible casualties and the extent of damage caused were immediately available.

Saudi warplanes also struck al-Balaq area in the Wadi Ubaidah district of Ma’rib Province, located some 175 kilometers (109 miles) east of the capital, Sana’a, on eight occasions.

Six other aerial assaults targeted al-Jubah district in the same Yemeni province.

Saudi warplanes also launched six airstrikes against the As Sawadiyah district in Bayda Province.

Source: Press TV

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Coordination with Gulf increases as US, world powers align focus on Iran nuclear deal

12 January ,2022

Gulf countries’ involvement in the Vienna talks to revive the abandoned 2015 Iran nuclear deal has increased significantly as of late, as GCC officials meet with their US and Western counterparts while direct negotiations between Tehran and world powers are ongoing.

Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna, Prince Abdullah bin Khaled said on Wednesday that GCC representatives in Vienna met with US special envoy to Iran Robert Malley to discuss Iran’s nuclear deal and its malign activities in the region.

“[During the meeting] Mr. Malley reviewed the latest developments of the Vienna Talks, and we emphasized the security concerns regarding the Iranian nuclear program and Iran's interventions in the region to destabilize security through its support for terrorist militias,” the Prince tweeted.

This announcement is the latest in a series of increasing coordination between the US and the Gulf when it comes to the Vienna talks to revive the abandoned 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The GCC has long believed it necessary to be included in nuclear talks because they directly affect the region.

The Gulf officials’ meeting with Malley comes a few days after the US official met with Prince Abdullah to update him on the latest developments of the Vienna talks.

Gulf countries have long said Iran needed to stop its malign activities in the region through providing financial and military support to its network of proxy militias across the Middle East, including in countries such as Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz recently listed what the Gulf considers are Iran’s offenses: “The formation and support of sectarian and armed militias, the systemic deployment of its military capabilities in regional countries and its failure to cooperate with the international community regarding its nuclear program and the development of ballistic missiles.”


Nevertheless, mixed signals came out of Vienna on Wednesday as Western capitals and Iranian officials continue their efforts to reach a nuclear deal, which has been a priority of US President Joe Biden since he took office.

Russia’s de-facto spokesperson at the talks said he felt that negotiations were moving forward.

The US special envoy for Iran, Rob Malley, met with a broad range of officials, including Gulf diplomats to update them on the latest developments.

“Met with the #US Special Envoy for #Iran Mr. Robert Malley. As usual, we had a productive discussion on the remaining most difficult issues to be settled in the course of the #ViennaTalks. The feeling is that the negotiations are moving forward,” Russia’s ambassador to Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, tweeted.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Lebanon’s PM Mikati denies meddling in judiciary over financial probe

12 January ,2022

Lebanon’s prime minister said on Wednesday the government had not interfered with the judiciary’s work, after reports that he had put pressure on a judge seeking data from banks in an investigation into the conduct of the central bank governor.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati said last month that veteran Governor Riad Salameh, who is at the center of domestic and

international probes over allegations ranging from fraud to embezzlement, should stay in his job to avoid adding to problems in Lebanon as it navigates a deep financial crisis.

“It is also necessary to clarify what came out yesterday (Tuesday) about matters related to the judiciary. In this context, I say it is not true that we interfered in the work of the judiciary or in any decision taken by the judiciary,” Mikati told a news conference.

Al Akhbar and other Lebanese news outlets said Mikati had called the country’s top prosecutor, Ghassan Oueidat, and threatened to resign if Judge Jean Tannous, who is leading one of the probes, continued to press banks for data in his investigation into alleged embezzlement involving the central bank governor’s family.

Oueidat did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Salameh, who has denied any wrongdoing during his almost three decades leading the central bank, is being probed by the authorities in Lebanon and at least four European countries, including a Swiss inquiry over alleged money laundering.

Another Lebanese judge, Ghada Aoun, who is conducting investigations into other activities by the governor, said on Tuesday she had imposed a travel ban on Salameh and that the next stage would be to seek to question him.

Salameh said on Tuesday he had no knowledge of Aoun’s travel ban order and dismissed allegations ranging from fraud to other acts of misconduct being investigated by Aoun as “part of the campaign to fool the public opinion.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi warplanes target Yemeni hospital amid increased airstrikes

13 January 2022

Fighter jets of the war coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, have carried out new aerial assaults on residential areas in the Yemeni provinces of Sana’a and Hudaydah, killing at least two civilians.

Early on Thursday, Yemen’s al-Masirah TV channel reported that Saudi-led warplanes had targeted areas in Sana’a’s Sanhan district and inflicted damage to a hospital there.

Four hospital staffers were injured, two of them critically.

Similar airstrikes on Hudaydah’s al-Garrahi district also claimed the lives of two Yemenis, according to a separate al-Masirah report.

Saudi Arabia launched the devastating military aggression against its southern neighbor in March 2015 in collaboration with a number of its allied states and with arms and logistics support from the US and several Western states.

The aim was to return to power the former Riyadh-backed regime and crush the popular Ansarullah movement which has been running state affairs in the absence of an effective government in Yemen.

The war has stopped well shy of all of its goals, despite killing tens of thousands of Yemenis and turning entire Yemen into the scene of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Meanwhile, Yemeni forces have in recent months gone from strength to strength against the Saudi-led invaders and left Riyadh and its allies bogged down in Yemen.

UN: $3.9bn needed for help in Yemen

On Wednesday, a top UN humanitarian official said the world body will require about $3.9 billion this year to help 16 million Yemenis.

Acting Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Ramesh Rajasingham told the UN Security Council that “the biggest constraint right now is funding.”

Source: Press TV

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Yemeni forces inflict massive losses on UAE mercenaries, Daesh terrorists in Shabwah: Army spokesman

12 January 2022

Yemeni army troops and fighters from the allied Popular Committees have managed to liberate hundreds of square kilometers of land and inflict heavy losses on the United Arab Emirates (UAE)'s mercenaries during the latest advances in the southern province of Shabwah over the past few days.

Spokesman for the Yemeni Armed Forces Brigadier General Yahya Saree stated on Wednesday that more than 515 militants and Daesh terrorists, including high-profile militant commanders, had been killed during the operations, while over 850 others have been wounded.

He added that more than 200 UAE-backed militants – better known by the nom de guerre the Giants – were also missing in action.

Saree said more than 102 armored vehicles belonging to the UAE-backed forces, in addition to a number of large and sophisticated cannons, had been destroyed in the process.

The senior Yemeni military official added that Yemeni armed forces have launched dozens of missile strikes against the positions of UAE mercenaries and Daesh terrorists in Shabwah, killing and wounding scores of them.

“Yemeni army soldiers and Popular Committees fighters continue to make sacrifices out of altruism as they confront Daesh elements and UAE mercenaries,” Saree said.

The remarks come as the UAE has reportedly dispatched allied Takfiri militants as well as military equipment to Yemen’s strategic central province of Ma’rib as Yemeni army troops and fighters from Popular Committees are gaining grounds there.

Pro-Saudi media outlets alleged that groups of UAE-backed militants had entered Ma’rib province from neighboring Shabwah province.

They claimed that the UAE's so-called crack al-Amaliqa Brigades had advanced into neighboring Marib province, recapturing most of the Harib district and turning around the fortunes of the battle.

Lebanon’s Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network reported on Sunday that the commander of the Third Brigade of the UAE-backed forces, Majdi al-Radfani, had died of his injuries after Yemeni army troops and their allies targeted UAE-sponsored militants in the Bayhan district of Shabwah province.

The report added that more than 130 militants had been killed during battles with Yemeni Armed Forces over the past few days and dozens of others have been wounded. A number of their military vehicles have been destroyed as well.

Saudi Arabia, backed by the US and regional allies, launched the war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing popular Ansarullah resistance movement.

Source: Press TV

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Deputy Army Commander Downplays Israel’s Military Threats


The Zionist regime of Israel cannot equal Iran in power, General Dadras said on Wednesday.

He added that Iran has the power to response any threat.

General Dadras noted that Iran imports no weapons, stressing that all equipment is domestically made and can be used against all threats.

He also warned ill-wishers against firm response.

Meantime, Deputy Commander of Iran Army Air Defense Force Brigadier General Alireza Elhami underlined on Wednesday that Iran never shies from defending its borders, adding that any attack on the country’s airspace will be harshly responded.

He reiterated that the country’s Army Air Defense is ready to deal with any violation of Iran’s airspace decisively.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has proven in practice that it has no compliments with anyone in the world to defend its borders and airspaces, the commander said, adding that any attack on borders of Islamic Iran will be responded harshly.

Benefiting from the most experienced and competent manpower, Iran’s Army Air Defense Force is in its utmost readiness to counter any attack on its airspace using the most modern warfare equipment and weapons, General Elhami emphasized.

In relevant remarks on Sunday, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Hossein Salami said that the enemies of Iran have become so weak and defeated that there is no safe territory left for them.

“We are victorious today and this is what the facts of the field say,” General Salami said, addressing a ceremony in Tehran.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Rubble brings opportunity, and risk, in war-scarred Gaza

13 January ,2022

The Gaza Strip has few jobs, little electricity and almost no natural resources. But after four bruising wars with Israel in just over a decade, it has lots of rubble.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Local businesses are now finding ways to cash in on the chunks of smashed concrete, bricks and debris left behind by years of conflict. In a territory suffering from a chronic shortage of construction materials, a bustling recycling industry has sprouted up, providing income to a lucky few but raising concerns that the refurbished rubble is substandard and unsafe.

“It’s a lucrative business,” said Naji Sarhan, deputy housing minister in the territory’s Hamas-led government. The challenge, he said, is regulating the use of recycled rubble in construction.

“We are trying to control and correct the misuse of these materials,” he said.

Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers have gone to war four times since the group, which opposes Israel’s existence, seized control of the territory in 2007. The most recent fighting was in May. Israeli airstrikes have damaged or leveled tens of thousands of buildings in the fighting.

The United Nations Development Program says it worked with the local private sector to remove some 2.5 million metric tons of rubble left behind from wars in 2009, 2012 and 2014. Gaza’s Housing Ministry says the 11-day war in May left an additional 270,000 tons.

The UNDP has worked on rubble recycling since Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza. It also has played a key role in the latest cleanup, removing about 110,000 tons, or more than one-third of the rubble. That includes the al-Jawhara building, a high-rise in downtown Gaza City that was damaged so heavily by Israeli missiles that it was deemed beyond repair. Israel said the building housed Hamas military intelligence operations.

Over the past three months, excavators lifted atop the building systematically demolished it floor by floor. Just one floor remains and the construction crews are now removing the building’s foundations and pillars on the ground.

In a common scene outside every building destroyed by the war, workers separated twisted rebar iron from the debris, to be straightened out and re-used in things like boundary walls and ground slabs.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a crippling blockade on Gaza for the past 15 years, restricting the entry of badly needed construction materials. Israel says such restrictions are needed to prevent Hamas from diverting goods like concrete and steel for military use. Since 2014, it has allowed some imports under the supervision of the United Nations. But thousands of homes need to be repaired or rebuilt, and shortages are rampant.

The UNDP has put tight restrictions on its recycling effort. It says that renewed rubble is not safe enough for use in building homes and buildings. Instead, it allows it to be used only for road projects.

“We do not recommend any of the rubble to be used for any reconstruction as such, because it is not a good quality material for reconstruction,” said Yvonne Helle, a UNDP spokeswoman. She said the metal is separated and returned to the buildings’ owners because it “also has a value.”

On a recent day, trucks trickled into a lowland in central Gaza near the Israeli frontier, carrying large chunks from the Al-Jawhara tower. The site, adjacent to a mountain of garbage serving as Gaza’s main landfill, is overseen by the UNDP.

A wheel loader filled a bucket with debris that was tossed into a crushing machine. It produces large pieces of aggregate that the site supervisor said could be used as a base under the asphalt layer in street construction. Because of safety concerns, they are not allowed to crush the rubble into smaller aggregate that could be used in house construction.

The trucks then return to Gaza City where the UNDP is funding a road project, providing a much-needed source of work in a territory with nearly 50 percent unemployment.

The UN road projects have provided a partial solution for the rubble problem, but most of Gaza’s debris continues to make its way into the desperate private sector.

Sarhan, the Housing Ministry official, said it is forbidden to use recycled rubble in major construction. But he said enforcing that ban is extremely difficult and much of the material is creeping back into the local construction markets.

Ahmed Abu Asaker, an engineer from the Gaza Contractors’ Union, said many brick factories use the local aggregate, which he said is not a “great concern.” He said there have been a few isolated cases of it being mixed into concrete, which is far more dangerous.

There have not been any reports of building collapses. But Abu Asaker estimates that thousands of homes have been built with materials from recycled rubble since 2014.

Just north of the UNDP processing center, about 50 rubble crushers were hard at work at a private facility on a recent day, producing different kinds of aggregate.

The most popular items are the “sesame,” which is used for making cinder blocks, and the “lentil-like” grind sent to cement-mixing factories.

Around the crushers were mounds of small aggregate, with tiny pieces of shredded plastic, cloth and wood clearly mixed in.

Antar al-Katatni, who runs a nearby brick factory, says he makes bricks using the sesame aggregate. He acknowledged the material has impurities like sand, but there is an upside. “It makes more bricks,” he said.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Two Israeli officers killed in friendly fire incident: Military

13 January ,2022

Two Israeli officers were killed by mistake by one of their own troops on Thursday, the military said, in their base in the occupied West Bank.

A military statement gave few details about the incident late on Wednesday, which Israeli media said involved a commando unit in the Jordan Valley.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Palestinian man, 80, found dead after Israeli raid was US citizen

12 January ,2022

An 80-year-old Palestinian-American man was found dead after being detained and handcuffed during an Israeli raid on an occupied West Bank village, Palestinian officials and relatives said on Wednesday.

The US State Department said that Omar Abdalmajeed As’ad was a US citizen and that it had sought clarification from Israel over the incident. His body was found in Jiljilya in the early morning with a plastic zip-tie still around one wrist.

The Israeli military said it had carried out an overnight operation in the village, and that a Palestinian was “apprehended after resisting a check.” It said he was alive when the soldiers released him.

“The Military Police Criminal Investigation Division is reviewing the incident, at the end of which the findings will be transferred to the Military General Advocate Corps,” it said in a statement.

As’ad was a former Milwaukee, Wisconsin, resident who lived in the United States for decades and returned to the West Bank 10 years ago, his brother told Reuters.

State Department Spokesman Ned Price told reporters: “We support a thorough investigation into the circumstances.” He said the State Department had expressed its condolences to the family and offered to provide consular assistance.

As’ad’s family delayed the funeral until Thursday to allow a post-mortem. Islam Abu Zaher, a local doctor who said he had tried to resuscitate As’ad but found no pulse, said there were no obvious signs of injury and the cause of death was unclear.

“It is possible that he suffered a heart attack or some form of panic,” Abu Zaher told Reuters, noting that As’ad had previously undergone open heart surgery and cardiac catheterisation. “We would need to perform an autopsy.”

Jiljilya village council head Fouad Qattoum said As’ad was returning home after visiting relatives when Israeli soldiers stopped his car, bound him, blindfolded him and led him away to a building still under construction. Another villager said he saw Israeli soldiers walking As’ad away around 3 am.

As’ad’s body was found more than an hour later, according to vegetable seller Mamdouh Elaboud, who said he was himself detained for 20 minutes, then released.

“After the soldiers were gone, we noticed someone on the ground,” Elaboud, 55, told Reuters. “He was lying face down on the ground and when we turned him over we found an elderly man with no sign of life.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran sends French-Iranian academic back to prison: Supporters

12 January ,2022

Iranian authorities have sent back to prison French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah, who had for over a year been serving a sentence under house arrest, her Paris-based support group said on Wednesday.

Adelkhah was sentenced on May 2020 to five years in prison for conspiring against national security, accusations her supporters have always denounced as absurd.

“It is with great shock and indignation that we have been informed that Fariba Adelkhah... has been re-imprisoned in the prison of Evin” in Tehran, the committee set up to support her said in a statement.

“The Iranian government is cynically using our colleague for external or internal purposes that remain opaque, and that have nothing to do with her activities,” it added.

The committee accused the authorities of “deliberately endangering Fariba Adelkhah's health and even her life”, pointing to the death this month in Iranian custody of poet Baktash Abtin after he contracted Covid.

The surprise move by the Iranian authorities to move Adelkhah back to prison comes at a hugely sensitive juncture in talks involving France and other world powers aimed at reviving the 2015 deal on the Iranian nuclear program.

Source: Al Arabiya

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President Erdogan vows to tame Turkish inflation as scepticism grows

12 January ,2022

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised on Wednesday to tame Turkey’s surging inflation, which hit 36 percent last month, but economists predicted it could push much higher, piling further pressure on the battered lira currency.

The lira shed 44 percent of its value in 2021, its worst performance in Erdogan’s near two decades in power.

It stood at 13.31 against the dollar at 1705 GMT, up from Tuesday’s close of 13.8. Earlier on Wednesday it had rallied as far as 4.7 percent to 13.15, its strongest level in more than a week, though it was not immediately clear why it had firmed so much.

Thanks in part to costly state interventions in the currency market and to government measures that helped calm a full-blown crisis last month, the lira had largely held in a 13.7-13.94 range since last Thursday.

Speaking in parliament, Erdogan said Turkey was protecting its economy against what he called attacks and had taken under control “foreign financial tools that can disrupt the financial system.”

“The swelling inflation is not in line with the realities of our country,” Erdogan said, adding that the government’s measures would soon soften the burden of “unjust” price hikes.

Under pressure from Erdogan, who seeks higher growth by boosting production and exports, the central bank has slashed its policy rate by 500 basis points to 14 percent since September. It holds its next rate-setting meeting on Jan 20.

Goldman Sachs said in a research note it expected annual inflation to exceed 40 percent in January, after which it could surpass 50 percent and remain elevated until the end of the year, when base effects would lower it to around 33 percent.

“The deeply negative real rates and the high level of loan growth are likely to keep inflation elevated and continue to put pressure on the lira,” the Wall Street bank said.

Economic growth

Despite the recent market volatility, Turkey’s economy is estimated to have grown by a hefty 9.5 percent in 2021, the World Bank said in its latest Global Economic Prospects report, as it rebounded from the coronavirus pandemic and related lockdowns.

But the bank also forecast that growth would slow to 2.0 percent this year and 3.0 percent in 2023. In its previous report last June, it had seen growth of 5.0 percent in 2021 and 4.5 percent in both 2022 and 2023.

Turkey’s $720-billion economy grew 0.9 percent in 2019 and 1.8 percent in 2020, weighed down by a recession triggered by a separate currency crisis and later by the pandemic.

After the lira slumped to a record low of 18.4 against the dollar in late December, Erdogan announced a scheme to encourage savers to convert foreign exchange deposits, compensating depositors for any losses due to lira weakness.

On Tuesday Turkey added corporate accounts to the scheme, which the Treasury says has attracted some 108 billion lira ($7.8 billion) of deposits.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israel says it broke up Iranian spy ring, arrested five Israelis

12 January ,2022

Israel said it broke up an Iranian spy ring that recruited Israelis to photograph strategic sites, gather intelligence and other offenses in exchange for money, The Times of Israel reported on Wednesday.

The spy ring consisted of four women and one man, who were all Jewish immigrants from Iran or the descendants of Iranian immigrants. The five were arrested.

“The suspects took photographs of strategically significant sites in Israel, including the US Consulate in Tel Aviv, attempted to form relationships with politicians, provided information about security arrangements at various sites, and committed other offenses — all at the direction of [an] Iranian operative and in exchange for thousands of dollars,” according to Israel's Shin Bet internal security service.

In one case, Shin Bet said the Iranian operative running the spy ring tried to convince one of the suspects to improve their Persian language and join the military intelligence unit in the IDF.

Shin Bet identified the Iranian operative behind the spy ring as Rambud Namdar, who pretended to be a Jew residing in Tehran.

According to a Shin Bet official: “There has been an increase by Iranian intelligence agents reaching out to Israeli citizens in an attempt to gather intelligence that can assist [Iran] in its fight against Israel,” The Jerusalem Post reported.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Islamic Jihad warns Israel against tempting ‘regional war’

11 January 2022

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad resistance movement strongly warns the Israeli regime and illegal settlers against keeping up their provocations in the holy occupied city of al-Quds.

“Any attack on al-Quds will trigger a regional war,” Al-Quds Al-Arabi, a pan-Arab daily, cited Khaled al-Batsh, one of the resistance group’s leaders, on Tuesday as saying.

In the event of such a provocation, regional resistance groups would be fielding their whatever weapon to fight the attacker “on all arenas,” he added.

Palestinians want the eastern part of the holy city as the capital of their future state.

The Israeli regime, however, lays claim to the entire city, therefore, imposing huge restrictions there on the Palestinian freedom of movement. It also allows its illegal settlers to regularly invade the al-Aqsa Mosque’s compound, Islam’s third-holiest site, in al-Quds’ Old City, even providing them with armed protection by the Israeli army.

Al-Batsh reminded the Israeli occupation of the resistance’s capabilities in defending the holy city by making mention of the “Operation Sword of al-Quds.”

The name was used by the resistance groups based in the Tel Aviv-blockaded Gaza Strip, including the Islamic Jihad, to specify their defensive operation against the regime’s latest war on the coastal sliver that took place last May.

The operation saw the resistance firing more than 4,000 rockets against the occupied territories, forcing the regime to desperately call for a ceasefire after just 11 days.

“The operation directed the region towards new equations that the dedicated [resistance] forces are trying to reinforce and stabilize,” the official said.

Source: Press TV

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Yemen: Saudi attacks on water facilities in Sa’ada ‘war crime’ amid severe shortages

12 January 2022

Yemeni officials have denounced as war crime the latest Saudi airstrikes that targeted water facilities providing water for tens of thousands of people in Sa’ada Province.

Late on Tuesday, Saudi warplanes conducted three airstrikes on reservoirs of Sa’ada City’s water project in the Talmous water station.

Speaking from the attack site, the deputy minister of Water and Environment Hanin al-Darib said on Wednesday, “These tanks and this institution provide 130,000 civilians with water supply.”

Al-Darib told al-Masirah news network that the attacks came amid a severe fuel shortage in the country, which has aggravated the suffering of residents of Sa’ada City.

The official stressed that the drinking water project was a civilian facility, urging international organizations to fulfill their responsibilities towards the women and children in Sa’ada.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Jaber Awad, the governor of Sa’ada, stated that “the Talmous water station is the sole station that supplies the displaced people, the needy, and resident of Sa’ada City and its suburbs with drinking water.”

Awad said the city has a population of more than 200,000 people who were benefiting from this project.

He urged the United Nations and human rights groups to condemn the Saudi targeting of water fields and resources that provide the residents of Sa’ada city with safe drinking water.

Mohammad al-Sa’adi, the head of the government corporation of water and sanitation, slammed the attack as “a cowardly action,” noting that “the city is down now,” while Hamid Mohmal, the deputy head of Human Council in Sa’a’da, condemned the attack on the facilities that provide water for 45,000 families as a “war crime.”

Mohmal urged international organizations to denounce the crime and urgently respond to the damage.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies -- including the United Arab Emirates (UAE) -- launched a brutal war against Yemen in March 2015.

The war was launched to eliminate Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstall former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.

The war, accompanied by a tight siege, has failed to reach its goals, but it has killed hundreds of thousands of Yemeni people.

As part of its economic war, the Saudi-led coalition has imposed an economic siege on Yemen, preventing fuel shipments from reaching the country, while looting the impoverished nation’s resources.

Source: Press TV

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We are witnessing ‘hell’ in Tigray, it’s an ‘insult to humanity’: WHO’s Tedros

12 January ,2022

WHO’s chief said on Wednesday the blockade on the Tigray region in war ravaged Ethiopia preventing access to deliver food and medicine has created “hell” and described the situation as an “insult to humanity”.

The year-long war between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has claimed the lives of thousands and displaced more than two million people.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, himself from Tigray, said that all attempts by WHO to gain access to deliver life saving medicines to the war-torn region have been blocked.

“We have approached the prime minister’s office; we have approached the foreign ministry; we have approached all relevant sectors, but no permission,” Tedros told reporters.

He even compared the Ethiopian conflict to the one in Syria and Yemen: “Humanitarian access even in conflict is the basics. Even in Syria, we have access, during the worst of conflicts in Syria. In Yemen, the same, we have access. We deliver medicine. Here [in Tigray] nothing, it’s a complete blockade.”

He added: “I am from that region. I am from Tigray, the northern part of Ethiopia. But I am saying this without any bias… No where in the world you will see a crisis like the one in the northern part of Ethiopia, especially in Tigray.”

“Lack of medicine has direct impact and people are dying, but lack of food also kills. On top of that, daily drone attacks are killing people… and people are living under constant fear. And you can also imagine how that impacts the people’s mental health,” Tedros said.

Source: Al Arabiya

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At least 10 killed in suicide bombing in Somali capital

Mohammed Dhaysane 



At least 10 people, including five security officers, were killed Wednesday when a suicide car blast targeted a security convoy in Somalia’s capital, according to officials.

The attack in Mogadishu has been claimed by al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-linked terror group that often carries out deadly attacks in the Horn of Africa country.

"We know that at least 10 people were killed, including five soldiers in the bomb explosion" along with several injuries, Ali Yare Ali, deputy governor for security and politics of the Banadir regional administration, told journalists.

He added that an investigation is underway.

Abdifatah Hassan, a police officer in Mogadishu, told Anadolu Agency that the attack occurred near one of the entrances to Aden Adde International Airport, adding to earlier reports that put it along 21 October Road in the Waberi neighborhood.

He said the attack devastated nearby buildings.

Al-Shabaab was also behind a 2017 truck bomb attack in Mogadishu that took 600 lives -- the worst terror attack in the country’s history.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Libyan prime minister denies meeting Israelis in Jordan

Mohammad Erteima  



Libya’s interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh denied reports Wednesday of meeting Israeli officials in the Jordanian capital of Amman.

"That didn't happen and won't happen in the future, our stance is firm and clear on the Palestinian cause," according to a Libyan government statement.

The statement follows Saudi-run Alarabiya Alhadath TV claims earlier Wednesday that Dbeibeh met the Israeli intelligence (Mossad) chief in Amman to discuss normalizing relations. The report did not specify a date for the meeting.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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US threatens action if Somalia misses new election deadline

13 January ,2022

The US on Wednesday brandished the threat of sanctions if troubled Somalia misses its latest deadline for elections.

Somali leaders on Sunday announced that elections that were due to be concluded last year will take place by February 25.

“Somalia's elections are more than a year behind schedule. The US is prepared to take measures against spoilers if the new National Consultative Council timeline is not met,” the State Department's Africa bureau said in a Twitter post.

The mandate of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known as Farmajo, expired in February 2021 and was controversially extended in April, triggering deadly gun battles in the streets of Mogadishu.

World powers have voiced fear that election delays, as well as the ongoing feud between Farmajo and Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, could set off new troubles for a country that has lacked stable governance for three decades.

Somalia is battling a deadly insurgency by Al-Shabaab extremists and is in the grip of a drought that has left one in four people facing acute hunger, according to UN estimates.

Several people were killed on Wednesday in a suicide car bomb blast in Mogadishu, which was claimed by Al-Shabaab.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Nigeria lifts Twitter ban from midnight, government official says

13 January ,2022

Nigeria will lift a ban on Twitter from midnight after the social media platform agreed to open a local office, among other agreements with authorities in the West African country, a senior government official said on Wednesday.

The Nigerian government suspended Twitter on June 4 after it removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional secessionists. Telecoms companies subsequently blocked access to users in Nigeria.

Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, director general of the National Information Technology Development Agency said in a statement that Buhari had given approval to lift the suspension.

“Twitter has agreed to act with a respectful acknowledgement of Nigerian laws and the national culture and history on which such legislation has been built...,” Abdullahi’s statement said.

The company would work with the federal government and the broader industry “to develop a Code of Conduct in line with global best practices, applicable in almost all developed countries,” it said.

“Therefore, the (federal government) lifts the suspension of the Twitter operations in Nigeria from midnight of 13th January 2022.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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US vows action if Somalia misses new election deadline

Mohammed Dhaysane



The US on Wednesday threatened Somalia with sanctions if it fails to meet a recently agreed timetable for holding elections.

"Somalia’s elections are more than a year behind schedule. The US is prepared to take measures against spoilers if the new National Consultative Council timeline is not met,” the United States Bureau of African Affairs said on Twitter.

Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble welcomed the warning by the US.

His spokesman, Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, spoke to Anadolu Agency by phone, saying the prime minister is ready to fulfill his duties and lead the country to peaceful elections.

"We welcome the statement and agree that someone must be held accountable if they violate the election timetable that was produced by the Somali National Consultative Council meeting under the leadership of the Somali prime minister,” he said.

The US warning comes days after Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed announced that he welcomed the outcome of the six-day meeting of the National Consultative Council at which its leaders agreed to conclude ongoing Lower House elections by Feb. 25, but he has yet to comment on the latest warning.

Experts, however, described the move as a symbolic one, given the challenges and how difficult Somalia's politics have become.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Biden hailed for appointing 1st Somali-American senior adviser to State Department

Hassan Isilow, Mohammed Dhaysane 



The Somali government and intellectuals hailed US President Joe Biden on Wednesday for appointing Hamse Warfa, a Somali-American, as a senior adviser to the State Department. 

“We are happy and welcome the appointment of Warfa by the US president. We extend our congratulatory messages to him and all Somali people," Somali government spokesman Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu told Anadolu Agency.

Moalimuu said Warfa’s appointment is an indication that Somalis are very active wherever they live.

Warfa was born in Mogadishu, Somalia. His family fled the Somali civil war and moved to neighboring Kenya, where they lived in refugee camps. He later relocated to the US.

He has been working as the deputy commissioner for workforce development at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

Warfa, who has held the position since April 2019, has been the highest-ranking African immigrant in the state government.

“We congratulate Warfa. It’s a fantastic opportunity for a young, well-educated Somali-origin lad,” said Abdurahman Sheikh Azhari, director of the Centre for Analysis and Strategic Studies, a Somalia-based think tank.

He said it is not easy to be appointed to a role in an administration like that of Biden-Harris with the eyes of the world on it, especially for a Black Muslim immigrant from the Horn of Africa.

“It’s a golden opportunity for the Somali diaspora as a community across the world, the US, and Hamse particularly to serve the US’s highest office in which he can influence the policies towards Africa and the Muslim world,” Azhari said.

He said the appointment shows exactly how well-integrated immigrants and refugees can contribute to a large nation like the US.

“If the Somali communities continue to integrate, settle and contribute to the Western world, they will produce more successful leaders who can be role models to young Somalis inside Somalia. This appointment deserves to be celebrated and commended,” Azhari added.

Prof. Hassan Sheikh Ali Nur, a lecturer at Somali National University in Mogadishu, said “Warfa's nomination for senior adviser on democracy and human rights by President Biden is a milestone in race and religious recognition in the United States of America's political participation and citizenship.”

Warfa said in a tweet that he is “excited and so ready to get to work along with incredible public servants in the Biden-Harris administration.”

Source: Anadolu Agency

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97 Somali migrants repatriated from Libya

Mohammed Dhaysane 



At least 97 Somali migrants being held in detention camps in Libya were returned to the country's capital Mogadishu on Wednesday.

Senior Somali government officials, including Foreign Minister Abdi Said Muse, welcomed the returnees at Aden Adde International Airport.

"We welcome 97 of our citizens at Aden Adde International Airport this morning as the federal government worked to secure their release," said Muse on Twitter, adding that the country's federal government has been "working to repatriate Somali citizens who have suffered in foreign countries."

The Somali government, in coordination with UN international Migration Agency (IOM), secured the release of its 97 nationals, including five women, according to local media.

One of the returnees who spoke to Anadolu Agency said Somalis in Libya were facing "horrific" conditions and urged young people to stop migrating and instead invest in their country.

"Today, we have realized that we have our dignity only when we live in our country. I can't say more because I am emotional," he told Anadolu Agency.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Tunisia’s Ennahda party demands release of deputy chief as his health worsens


By Yosra Ounas

TUNIS, Tunisia (AA) - The Ennahda party in Tunisia demanded Wednesday that authorities release deputy chief Noureddine El-Beheiry from house arrest because his health has seriously worsened.

El-Beheiry, 63, staged a hunger strike following his Dec. 31 arrest that caused his health to deteriorate, forcing him to be taken to hospital on Jan. 2.

The party held authorities fully responsible for El-Beheiry's life who is "compulsorily detained," it said.

"The existing authority is intransigent and rejects to comply with the requirements of the law and release him as his health condition reached a stage of extreme danger and is nearly to die," according to a statement from the party.

Ennahda urged local and international rights groups to pressure authorities "to save El-Beheiry's life before it's too late."

UN Human Rights Office spokeswoman Liz Throssell raised concerns about El-Beheiry's life on Tuesday at a UN news conference and said he was detained without authorization or explanation and remains under house arrest.

Interior Minister Charfeddine placed El-Beheiry and a ministry official under house arrest on charges of issuing false identity documents to a Syrian couple while he served as justice minister.

Ennahda, the largest party in the now-suspended Tunisian parliament, characterized the accusations as "politicized" and called for his immediate release.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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