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Islamic World News ( 5 Sept 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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MBA Graduate Joins Hizbul Ranks; Biggest Jihad Is To Serve Elderly Parents, Family Tells Him

New Age Islam News Bureau

5 Sept 2018

File photo: Warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani was once aligned with the US ( AP )



 MBA Graduate Joins Hizbul Ranks; Biggest Jihad Is To Serve Elderly Parents, Family Tells Him

 Under Imran Khan Govt, Religious Minorities Remain Discriminated Against

 Who Are The Haqqanis, Afghanistan's Most Feared Insurgents?

 Al Qaeda Trying To Regain Primacy As Islamic State Loses Ground: NATO

 Rabbi Condemned For Saying Islam 'Has No Place in Britain'



 MBA Graduate Joins Hizbul Ranks; Biggest Jihad Is To Serve Elderly Parents, Family Tells Him

 Uniform Civil Code: Why Law Panel’s Recommendations Seem Like ‘Political Opinion’

 India Dismisses ‘Truce Call’ Report Of Pakistan Army Chief Reaching Out To Delhi



 Under Imran Khan Govt, Religious Minorities Remain Discriminated Against

 Three ‘TTP Militants’ Killed In Shootout

 Pakistan asks Afghanistan to avoid destructive comments

 Pakistan’s New President Arif Alvi Has an Interesting Indian Connect

 Pompeo hopeful to find common ground with new government in Islamabad

 'We will not bow to extremists': Govt hits back after vicious campaign targets Atif Mian

 Army top brass discusses geo-stragetic environment, Radd-ul-Fasaad

 Siraj says Alvi must ensure supremacy of constitution


South Asia

 Who Are The Haqqanis, Afghanistan's Most Feared Insurgents?

 Jalaluddin Haqqani’s Death Not to Affect the Activities of the Network: Former Afghan Intelligence Chief

 Taliban commanders, security personnel among 19 killed, wounded in Baghlan clashes

 11 Taliban militants join peace process in Nangarhar

 B’desh court refuses to hear photographer’s case

 Zia Charitable Trust case: Court to try Khaleda in old Dhaka jail


North America

 Al Qaeda Trying To Regain Primacy As Islamic State Loses Ground: NATO

 Kremlin Dismisses Trump Warning On Syria's Idlib

 Trump warns Syria not to 'recklessly attack' Idlib province

 Pompeo Heads to Pakistan to Take on Terrorism, Seek 'Reset'

 Watergate Journalist: Trump Wanted To Assassinate Assad after Chemical Attack

 Donald Trump to chair UN Security Council meeting on Iran



 Rabbi Condemned For Saying Islam 'Has No Place in Britain'

 UN Urges Putin, Erdogan to Talk Urgently To Avert Idlib ‘Bloodbath’

 EU chief diplomat to quit after struggle with Iran nuclear deal

 UK may lose billions of taxpayer money over Qatar military deal: Report


Arab World

 Four Million Iraqis Return Home after War on ISIS

 Saudi King's Brother Blames Monarch, Heir for Devastating Yemen Conflict

 International Union of Muslim Scholars official faces 37 charges

 Saudi prosecutors demand death penalty for jailed moderate Sunni preacher

 Syrian Army Discovers Israeli, German Arms in Terrorists' Positions in Quneitra

 Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque among World's Most Impressive

 Syrian Army Keeps Rolling on ISIL's Centres in Sweida Deserts

 More Bodies of Civilians Killed in US Air Raids Found in Northeastern Syria

 Iraqi forces kill six protesters in southern city of Basra

 Egypt police arrest man with homemade bomb near US embassy


Southeast Asia

 Putrajaya Powerless To Stop Shariah Caning, Law Minister Says After Lesbians Whipped

 Minister blasts intimidation against Muslim preacher Abdul Somad

 Malays are powering the nation

 The Future of US-Indonesia Defense Ties Under Trump



 No Territory Is Under Boko Haram – Buratai

 ‘Lake Chad Will No Longer Be Boko Haram Safe Haven’

 Algeria Set to Finally Open World’s 3rd Largest Mosque Built at a Cost Of $2 Bln

 Berlin Conference on Boko Haram rakes in $2.52bn

 Libya says death toll from Tripoli clashes climbs to 50

 Why Jordan rejects a confederation with Palestine

 Hundreds of African migrants flee detention center in Tripoli chaos — aid official

 Empower our Allies to Fight Terrorism in Africa



 Iran FM Vows Bids to Drive Terrorists Out Of Syria's Idlib with Least Humanitarian Cost

 Israeli Army Gives Ammunition, Money to Terrorists in Golan Heights

 Tehran summit expected to seal fate of Syria's Idlib

 Yemen foes head to peace talks as ‘ugly war’ rages

 Iranian army experts, Hezbollah fighters killed in battle with Yemeni army

 Erdogan warns against missile strikes during upcoming Idlib liberation operation

 Tel Aviv carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria in last two years, Israel admits

 Yemeni army, allies hit Saudi Aramco oil facilities in Jizan border region

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




MBA graduate joins Hizbul ranks; Biggest jihad is to serve elderly parents, family tells him

04 Sep 2018

JAMMU: A 29-year-old MBA graduate in Jammu and Kashmir has joined the ranks to terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen, with his family asking him to shun the path of violence and return home.

The picture of Haroon Abbas Wani with an AK-47 rifle has gone viral on social media recently, indicating his joining the terror group on Saturday. Wani is a resident of Ghat area of Doda district and a master of business administration degree holder from Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, Katra. He was working for a private company.

The Army has also assured all possible help to Wani if he comes back, a senior officer said.

Wani's family was in shock when they saw pictures on social media of the youth holding AK-47 rifles and appealed to him to return home.

The family has made a passionate appeal for his return. "The biggest jihad is to serve elderly parents. There is no need for jihad as we are happy," his aunt said in a video message, adding that his decision had left them ashamed. "Your mother and father has fallen sick and they need you very badly. Please return."

His uncle, Farooq Ahmad Wani, said he was very good at studies and gave no inkling of his joining the terror group ever. He was working in a private company in Jammu and "we are unable to understand who lured him into this path".

Commenting on the issue, Maj. Gen. Rajiv Nanda, general officer commanding (GOC), Delta Force, said, "Yesterday, we came to know about Wani joining a terror group... I hope good sense will prevail upon him and he will return to mainstream.

"If he returns, we are there to help him. We can guide him but it's he, who has to choose path for him."

Nanda said Wani was not at his native village, but at Jammu since the last two-three years and it could not be immediately known who motivated and misguided him to join militant ranks.

"The youth belongs to an educated family and has put them to a lot of trouble (by his decision). I was moved to see the video of his ailing mother and other family members on social media, who are begging him to return back as his brother's marriage is scheduled on the 9th of this month," the army officer said.

Militancy has been prevalent in the valley since the late 1990s, with youth picking up arms in the name of fighting oppression by the Indian Army.

In July, 25-year-old Abid Hussain Bhat, who also belongs to Doda, reportedly joined militants ranks, two months prior to which a student of Class 10 belonging to Khanyar locality of the Kashmir Valley also joined militancy.

Nanda rejected possibilities of the incident influencing other youths, saying it was a "stray incident". "Although we are keeping a close eye on the recent development but there are no reports that it has impacted overall scenario or influenced any other youth."



Under Imran Khan Govt, Religious Minorities Remain Discriminated Against

Sep 4, 2018

ISLAMABAD: In yet another incident of brazen discrimination against religious minorities, Pakistan Rangers, the main paramilitary force that guards country's borders with India, recently in its job advertisement, offered menial jobs only to non-Muslims.

The ad published on August 26 in Dawn, Pakistan's national English daily with liberal leanings, went viral on social media, inviting online criticism and outrage. The Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) sought recruits for a variety of positions ranging from sub-inspector to sepoys but the "non-combatant" jobs like "sanitary workers" and "bootmaker", were meant only for nonMuslims.

A similar advertisement for jobs in Sheikhupura in Punjab was published last year.

"This is a standard ad, which has been appearing in newspapers since decades, reflecting the deep-rooted discriminatory mindset of authorities towards minorities. Offering sanitation jobs to Christians and Hindus is a prime example of institutional discrimination against religious minorities," Ismat Shahjehan, a prominent Pakistani rights activist, told TOI.

In Muslim-majority Pakistan, religious minorities have to struggle even for low-level jobs in the public sector. Their abysmal poverty and lack of decent opportunities in government continue to incessantly place them at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. Government institutions have reserved menial jobs specifically for them for the last several decades.

In a landmark ruling in 2014, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had mandated a quota system, with five per cent of government jobs set aside for religious minorities in Pakistan. The rule, according to rights groups, is rarely enforced. Even when it is, the reserved jobs are often found only in the sectors not seen as desirable by the mainstream Muslim society.

Samson Salamat, chairman of the Rwadari Tehreek, a social movement launched in 2015 to counter intolerance and discrimination against minorities in Pakistan, said, "Nothing concrete has been done by authorities to stop this unfair and bigoted attitude."

According to several historians, since Pakistan was created in the name of religion, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, had appointed Jogendra Nath Mandal, a Hindu, and Sir Muhammad Zafrullah Khan, an Ahmadi, as ministers, to minimize religious conflict. But soon after Jinnah's death, the nature of governance changed quickly, and in 1949, the first Prime Minister of the country Liaquat Ali Khan declared Islam as the state religion. Thereafter, religion took centre-stage in Pakistani society through state policies and its direct interventions. As a result, the status of non-Muslims as equal citizens began diminishing.

In 1956, the country adopted the name "Islamic Republic of Pakistan", further cornering minorities. However, with the process of "Islamisation" introduced and stringently enforced by the military dictator General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the process of discrimination against non-Muslims was institutionalised.



Who Are The Haqqanis, Afghanistan's Most Feared Insurgents?

September 04, 2018

The Taliban announced Tuesday the death of Jalaluddin Haqqani, a former CIA asset whose eponymous militant group is now considered one of the most dangerous factions fighting Afghan and US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The Haqqani network was founded by Jalaluddin, an Afghan mujahideen commander fighting the Soviet occupation in the 1980s with the help of the United States and Pakistan.

Now a Taliban affiliate, it is blamed for some of the most shocking and brutal attacks across Afghanistan since the US invasion of 2001. Designated a terror group by Washington, targeting it is one of the top US priorities in the region.

Long suspected of links to Pakistan's shadowy military establishment, the network was described by US Admiral Mike Mullen in 2011 as a "veritable arm" of Pakistani intelligence.

Who are they?

Jalaluddin gained notoriety for his organisation and bravery during the Afghan conflict of the 1980s, garnering attention from the CIA and a personal visit from US congressman Charlie Wilson.

A fluent Arabic speaker, Jalaluddin also fostered close ties with Arab jihadists, including Osama bin Laden, who flocked to the region during the war. Later, Jalaluddin became a minister in the Taliban regime.

He is believed to have been ill for several years. The network has been led by his son Sirajuddin, who doubles as the Afghan Taliban's deputy leader, for some time now.

The Haqqanis are known for their heavy use of suicide bombers. Analysts have long suspected them of being behind some high-profile attacks in Kabul that have been claimed by the Islamic State group in recent years.

Among many spectacular assaults, they were accused of killing around 150 people in the heart of Kabul with a truck bomb in May 2017 -- though Sirajuddin later denied the accusation in a rare audio message.

The network has also been accused of assassinating top Afghan officials and holding kidnapped Westerners for ransom.

That includes Canadian Joshua Boyle, his American wife Caitlan Coleman, and their three children, who were released last year. They also held US soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who was released in 2014 in exchange for five Afghan Guantanamo Bay detainees.

Where are they now?

Following the US invasion of Afghanistan, Taliban fighters flooded across the border into Pakistan, where they regrouped before launching an insurgency against the Americans.

That included the Haqqanis, who coordinated attacks on NATO from across the border in their stronghold of Miranshah, the biggest town in North Waziristan, one of Pakistan's loosely governed tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.

The US launched repeated drone attacks against the group, while Pakistan's military conducted successive clearing operations, though sceptical Afghan officials have noted they always seemed to miss the Haqqanis.

Islamabad intensified military operations in North Waziristan in 2014, however, and now insists that there are no militant safe havens left on Pakistani soil.

Some militant sources say the pressure forced many of the Haqqanis underground or over the border into their Afghan strongholds, claims that AFP could not confirm.

Unverified reports have placed Jalaluddin in Pakistan in recent years. There is no confirmation yet of where he was when he died.

Why are they linked to Pakistan?

Pakistan sees its arch-nemesis to the east, India, as an existential threat, and has long sought influence over Kabul as a bulwark against New Delhi.

The Haqqanis have frequently been accused of targeting Indian installations in Afghanistan, spurring speculation they were overseen by Pakistani intelligence.

Analysts say Pakistan appears to view the Haqqanis and more broadly the Afghan Taliban as an asset holding India at bay in Afghanistan.

Politicians and retired military officials in Islamabad acknowledge privately that having open channels with the Haqqanis is vital, with many insisting that maintaining contact is not the same as offering support.

What happens next?

With Sirajuddin firmly in charge, Jalaluddin's death may not have much strategic impact on the network's operations.

Washington, which believes Pakistan is playing a double game, has long pressured Islamabad to crack down on militant groups, with the Haqqanis a top priority. Islamabad has repeatedly denied the claims.

On Saturday, the Pentagon announced it was cancelling $300 million in aid to Pakistan over its lack of "decisive" action against militant groups.

The cut, part of a broader freeze announced by the Trump administration in January, is seen as another attempt by Washington to bend Pakistan to its will.

However, analysts have said the moves are too little, too late, and that until the US addresses Pakistan's fears over India, Islamabad will not shake its support for militant proxies.

At any rate, a crackdown on the Haqqanis might not be easy on either side of the border because of their strong local links in a society where tribal ties matter more than what outside powers want.



Al Qaeda trying to regain primacy as Islamic State loses ground: NATO


JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Al Qaeda is trying to regain its primacy over international militancy as Islamic State loses ground, a senior NATO official said on Tuesday, seeing a potentially increased risk to the West from the groups’ rivalry.

But Arndt von Loringhoven, the alliance’s assistant secretary general for intelligence and security, said Islamic State retained some personnel strength despite its combat losses, including fresh recruits among women and children.

“ISIS-Daesh weakening has provided al Qaeda with an opportunity to attempt to regain its former status,” Von Loringhoven told a security conference hosted by Israel’s IDC Herzliya college, using a term for Islamic State.

“While ISIL-Daesh has occupied the world’s attention for the last four-five year, al Qaeda has been quietly rebuilding its global networks and capabilities,” he said, citing activity in Kashmir, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and North Africa.

“Rather like ISIL-Daesh, al Qaeda’s strategic aim is to regain leadership of like-minded militants and extremists. The competition for legitimacy, affiliates and recruits among the two major global extremist groups potentially increases the terrorism threat to NATO and our partners.”

Al Qaeda carried out the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, prompting U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. U.S. forces killed al Qaeda’s leader, Osama bin Laden, in a Pakistani hideout in 2011. Soon after, Islamic State, which is guided by a similarly extremist form of Sunni Islam, arose.

Islamic State’s fiefdoms in Syria and Iraq have been largely dismantled in recent years by offensives launched by Damascus and Baghdad with the backing of various foreign coalitions.

Von Loringhoven said NATO estimated that Islamic State’s peak strength of around 39,000 fighters in Syria and Iraq had been halved to between 18,000 and 20,000, most of them dispersed around the two countries and “gone underground”.

“A very worrisome trend is the group’s concerted effort to use propaganda to radicalize women and minors, who have emerged as a new target for recruitment relatively recently,” he said.

“This trend may have led to increased involvement of women and minors in the planning and execution of a number of attacks, including in NATO countries,” he said.

Citing the arrest in June of a Tunisian man suspected of planning a ricin attack Germany, von Loringhoven said militants could increasingly try to turn to homemade chemical or biological arms or attacks using commercially available drones.



Rabbi condemned for saying Islam 'has no place in Britain'

September 4, 2018

Jewish leaders have condemned a former South London Synagogue minister for saying Islam has "no place" in Britain.

In a letter to the Jewish News, Rabbi Menahem Lester said he disagreed with Boris Johnson’s remarks about Muslim women wearing burkas and attacked the paper for reports it ran criticising the comments.

Mr Johnson had likened women wearing face-coverings to "letter boxes" and "bank robbers".

Rabbi Lester said countries that have banned the burka had done so for “good reason.”

He wrote: “I am among many who feel Islam has no place in Europe and certainly not in Britain.”

He said the burka “represents the imposition of Muslim influence over their surroundings.

“I disagree with Boris Johnson- the burka should be banned-but I agree with his attempt to lighten the atmosphere. The British were once known for their sense of humour and maybe the Jews also; only Islam is intolerant and has no sense of humour,” he wrote.

Edie Friedman, executive director of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality said Rabbi Lester’s comments were “so outrageous I didn't even think it came from a real person.

“It doesn't take much imagination to think how Jews would feel if the same was said about Judaism.

“Such coarsening of public discourse threatens the very social cohesion on which we all depend. We really need to take a step back and make sure we are able to discuss issues in an unemotional manner, free from bigotry.”

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Reform Judaism's senior rabbi said: “As a British rabbi I reject the letter and the statement that Islam has no place in Europe.

“I strongly believe in our shared destiny as Jews and Muslims.”

She added: “We have to remain vigilant. These attitudes that are expressed about Islam and Muslims will affect Jews and the same with what is said about Jews will affect Muslims.”

Rabbi David Mason, of Muswell Hill Synagogue, also condemned the comments.

“As a rabbi as well as building a strong sense of Jewish identity it is also important to make sure you protect the identity of others.”

Other figures in the Jewish community condemned Mr Johnson’s comments, including Jonathan Goldstein, the chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, who said his remarks were “totally disgraceful”.

Adrian Cohen, the chairman of the London Jewish Forum, said Mr Johnson’s remarks “should be of grave concern” the Jewish community.





Uniform Civil Code: Why law panel’s recommendations seem like ‘political opinion’

September 5, 2018

The Law Commission has made some interesting recommendations in the last few days. First, it said that a uniform civil code (UCC)—that would end religion-based personal laws—is neither desirable nor feasible at present. It has also recommended that legislative steps be initiated to end bigamy among Hindus, drawing attention to the fact that there have been instances of Hindus converting to Islam, as bigamy is permitted under Muslim personal laws in the country. That this happens despite the law being clear that if a man’s first wife continues to practise and profess the faith other than Islam under which their marriage was solemnised, then the second married is invalidated despite the man converting, shows how different personal laws are put to subversive use. The law panel believes that, instead of UCC, the effort should be to establish equality within the frameworks of personal laws of each community, by working on ending discriminatory laws within such frameworks. Banning instant triple talaq, decriminalising adultery and easing divorce for both genders could be thought of as such moves.

While, on the face of it, the law panel’s recommendations seem progressive—it talks about difference is not always discrimination, rather indicates robustness of democracy—the fact is there are definite political overtones. The law panel is an advisory body. What is needed of it is to look at the merits and problems of having UCC over the current system and advise the government accordingly. The political effort to generate momentum for implementing a recommendation, should the government accept it, is the remit of the government of the day. The law panel’s recommendation seems to be at odds with academics, policy-makers and civil society representatives of diverse political persuasions who have backed the idea of a uniform civil code for India. Cultural diversity that the law panel seems to be batting for must be upheld, but not at the cost of encouraging discrimination against women, with personal laws providing cover for this.



India Dismisses ‘Truce Call’ Report of Pakistan Army Chief Reaching Out To Delhi

Sep 05, 2018

Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa tried to reach out to his Indian counterpart, Gen Bipin Rawat, to initiate talks but was rebuffed, The New York Times reported on Tuesday, though a person in New Delhi familiar with the matter denied any such outreach.

The outreach was initiated by Bajwa, seen as “more moderate” on India than his predecessors, months before Pakistan’s general election on July 25 as the powerful military was concerned about the country’s international isolation and faltering economy, the Times reported.

Citing unnamed Western diplomats and a senior Pakistani official, the report described India’s response to the overture as “tepid”. Pakistan had offered to resume talks with India on the Kashmir issue, stalled since 2015.

Indian Army officials did not comment when they were asked to respond to the report.

However, a person familiar with the matter said, “The army is not aware of any such outreach by the Pakistan Army. It has certainly not happened at the level of the headquarters.”

Bajwa and Rawat served almost simultaneously in a UN peacekeeping mission in Congo almost a decade ago and get along well, the Times cited diplomats as saying. Bajwa, who has said conflict between the two sides can only be resolved through dialogue, “tried to reach out to General Rawat to initiate talks” but the effort was stymied by what one diplomat called a “system mismatch”.

Pakistan’s military controls foreign and security policies, which is not the case in India. The Indian Army could not “agree to a peace deal without the civilian government’s approval”, the report said.

The report said a key objective for Pakistan in reaching out to India is to “open barriers” to bilateral trade, which would give Islamabad more access to regional markets. Pakistan’s military sees the battered economy as a security threat, because it aggravates insurgencies.

“We want to move forward and we are trying our best to have good ties with all our neighbors, including India,” Pakistan’s information minister Fawad Chaudhry told the Times.

“As General Bajwa says, regions prosper, countries don’t. India cannot prosper by weakening Pakistan.”

Full report at:





Three ‘TTP militants’ killed in shootout

September 05, 2018

KARACHI: Three suspected militants were killed in a ‘shootout’ with police in Ittehad Town on Tuesday as a predawn raid turned into a deadly gun battle.

A senior official said a team of the Anti-Violent Crime Cell (AVCC) raided a hideout in Ittehad Town on intelligence reports about the presence of some militants associated with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan.

The raid turned into an exchange of gunfire.

“When the personnel of law-enforcement agencies cordoned off the area, the armed men attacked them. The attack led to retaliation from our side, which triggered exchange of gunfire,” said AVCC SP Irfan Bahadur.

“After an encounter, three militants were killed. When the guns fell silent we searched the hideout and found explosives, suicide vest, hand grenades and assault rifles.”

He said though the deceased militants were not identified, the investigators had reasons to believe that they were associated with the TTP and were planning terrorist activities during the holy month of Muharram.

“The bodies have been moved to the Edhi morgue for want of identification after medico-legal formalities at the Civil Hospital Karachi. The police are trying to trace their families,” concluded the AVCC SP.



Pakistan asks Afghanistan to avoid destructive comments

September 5, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday dismissed reported comments by Afghan Chief Executive’s deputy spokesperson Omid Meysam and called for avoiding comments which would vitiate the existing positive spirit of cooperation of Pak-Afghan bilateral relations.

In a statement, the Foreign Office spokesperson said that Pakistan was making untiring and sincere efforts to promote peace and stability in the region given its own serious stakes and security concerns, and not in return for any financial compensations.

He said improving internal security situation in Afghanistan, which was the source of regional and international terrorist threats, remains the Afghan government’s exclusive responsibility together with its international partners. Pakistan has been wholeheartedly supporting these efforts, the spokesperson said.



Pakistan’s new President Arif Alvi has an interesting Indian connect

Sep 05, 2018

Pakistan’s newly elected President Dr Arif Alvi shares an interesting connection with India as his father was a dentist to India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, according to the short biography of the President on the website of his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party.

Alvi, a close ally of Prime Minister Imran Khan and one of the founding members of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, was elected as the new President of Pakistan Tuesday.

The 69-year-old former dentist defeated Pakistan People’s Party candidate Aitzaz Ahsan and the Pakistan Muslim League-N nominee Maulana Fazl ur Rehman in a three-way contest to become the 13th president.

Being a son of Nehru’s dentist is not the only connection that Alvi has with India. He is yet another Pakistani president whose family migrated to Pakistan from India after partition.

Alvi’s predecessors Mamnoon Hussain’s family came from Agra and Pervez Musharraf’s parents migrated from New Delhi.

His father Dr Habib ur Rehman Elahi Alvi was a dentist to Nehru before partition, according to short biography of the new president on the website of his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party.

“Dr Elahi Alvi was a dentist to Jawaharlal Nehru and the family has letters from Mr Nehru to Dr Alvi in their possession,” according to the website.

Alvi, whose full name is Dr Arif ur Rehman Alvi, was born in Karachi in 1947 where his father settled after partition. He inherited the profession of a dentist from his father who practised dentistry in India before partition and opened a dental practice in Saddar, Karachi after migration.

His father was also connected with the Jinnah family and was made a Trustee of the trust established by Shirinbai Jinnah (Quaid-e-Azam’s siter) to which she gift all her worldly belongings including the Mohatta Palace in Karachi.

Alvi started his political career about five decades ago when he was a student of de’Montmonrency College of Dentistry, an affiliate of University of Punjab in Lahore. He was part of the students’ wing of Jamaat-i-Islami and protested against military ruler Ayub Khan.

“During one of the protests on the Mall Road in Lahore he was shot and wounded and still proudly carries a bullet embedded in his right arm as a mark of his struggle for democracy in Pakistan,” according to the PTI website.

He also participated in elections from the platform of Jamaat-i-Islami in 1979 but lost. Later he became disillusioned with the politics of Jamaat-i-Islami and joined PTI as its founding member in 1996. He also helped in writing the Constitution of the new party.

Alvi contested his first election for PTI in 1997 but lost it. His affiliation with the party continued and he steadily rose in its ranks.

He was the Secretary-General of the party from 2006 till 2013. In 2013 he was elected as a Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan from Constituency NA-250 Karachi and was re-elected in July 2018.

Apart from his political struggle, Alvi is also through professional dentist.

He acquired his dental degree BDS (Dentistry) from de’Montmonrency College of Dentistry, Lahore and Master of Science degree in Prosthodontics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1975 and Master of Science in Orthodontics in 1984 from University of the Pacific, San Francisco.

In 1997, Alvi was declared a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics. He was the primary author of the constitution of the Pakistan Dental Association and has been the elected President of the Pakistan Dental Association.

He was also Chairman of the first Pakistan International Dental Conference in 1981 and also elected Chairman of the 28th Asia Pacific Dental Congress.

He also served as Dean of the Faculty of Orthodontics of the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan. In 2006, he was elected as the President of Asia Pacific Dental Federation.

Full report at:



Pompeo hopeful to find common ground with new government in Islamabad

Anwar Iqbal

September 05, 2018

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said on Wednesday he was hopeful to find a common ground for working with the new government in Islamabad in order to improve relations between the US and Pakistan.

Talking to media representatives travelling with him to Pakistan, Pompeo said he was visiting Pakistan to reset bilateral relations.

“First stop Pakistan; a new leader there. I wanted to get out there at the beginning of his [Khan's] time in an effort to reset the relationship between the two countries," he said in his opening statement.

“We have worked closely with the Pakistanis in my role as CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] director. Our teams have been working together for a long time. There are lots of challenges between our two nations for sure, but we’re hopeful that with the new leadership, we can find common ground and begin to work on some of our shared problems together,” he added.

Pompeo, who reaches Islamabad later today, said the new Pakistani government has expressed good-faith intention to improve bilateral ties.

He said he was going to Islamabad with the US military chief Gen Joseph Dunford to have discussions with Pakistani authorities.

“We’ll also meet with General Bajwa, who we both know, who I’ve met with a number of times, as well as my counterpart, Foreign Minister [Shah Mehmood] Qureshi,” he said.

“So we’ll have three opportunities to walk through the complexity that is this relationship and hopefully begin to make some progress so that we can get back to a set of common understandings,” said Pompeo while referring to a possible meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“So, that’s really the very straightforward objective. I think it’s important to meet the new prime minister, Prime Minister Khan, early on in his time in office,” he said.

A journalist reminded the Secretary of State that his trip comes right after the announcement that the US was cutting $300 million in military aid to Pakistan.

“What do you think of that as a start-off point for this new relationship that you’re trying to build?” Pompeo was asked.

“Look, this wasn’t news to the Pakistanis. It made a lot of headlines over the last few days ... but they were told this past summer that they weren’t likely to get that money,” Pompeo recalled.

“And the rationale for them not getting the money is very clear. It’s that we haven’t seen the progress that we need to see from them.”

Pompeo said the very reason for this trip was to try and articulate what the US expectation was, what Pakistan could do and the things that they expect the US to do. “And see if we can’t find a path forward together,” he added.

The secretary noted that most of the developments affecting Pak-US relations took place long before Khan was in power. “I’m hoping we can turn the page and begin to make progress. But there are real expectations,” he said.

Full report at:



'We will not bow to extremists': Govt hits back after vicious campaign targets Atif Mian

September 04, 2018

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government on Tuesday defended a leading international academic appointed by Prime Minister Imran Khan to the Economic Advisory Council (EAC), saying that Pakistan "belongs to minorities as much as it belongs to the majority". The statement came from the Minister of Information Fawad Chaudhary amidst a vicious online campaign targeting the academic for his Ahmadiyya faith.

The appointment of Dr Atif R. Mian of Princeton University (Department of Member Economics and Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy) to the 18-member EAC set up to advise the government on economic policy was opposed by some individuals and groups, including Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), who objected to his Ahmadi faith.

A social media smear campaign erupted against the economist's appointment, with many calling for his removal.

A large number of detractors, however, showed support for Mian, saying that one's religion should not factor into their professional qualifications or employment.

During a press talk in Islamabad today, Chaudhry asked: "Should there be restrictions imposed on minorities in Pakistan? Should minorities in Pakistan be thrown out?"

"What kind of people say things like this?" Chaudhry wondered. "This is a man who the entire world is saying will receive a Nobel Peace Prize in the next five years. He has been appointed to the Economic Advisory Council, not the Council of Islamic Ideology or something else."

"Pakistan belongs as much to minorities as it does to the majority," he added.

"I don't think anyone should have objections [to Mian's appointment], and those who do, they are basically extremists and we will not bow to extremists," he asserted.

"Protecting minorities is our responsibility. It is the religious duty of each Muslim, not just the government, to protect minorities and respect those that they live with," Chaudhry said.

He also took to Twitter so share a message: "Quaid e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah appointed Sir Zafar Ullah as Foreign minister of Pakistan; we'll follow [the] principles of Mr Jinnah, not of extremists."

His thoughts were echoed by Minister of Human Rights Shireen Mazari, who tweeted: "Exactly. Well put indeed. Time to reclaim space for the Quaid's Pakistan!".

A call-to-attention notice had earlier been submitted in Senate today by opposition parties against Atif Mian's inclusion to the EAC.

The notice bore the signatures of the PML-N, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party members.

Full report at:



Army top brass discusses geo-stragetic environment, Radd-ul-Fasaad


The 213th Corps Commanders on Tuesday paid a rich tribute to martyrs as the country prepares to observe upcoming Defence Day, said and Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement.

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa presided over the conference held at the General Headuarters (GHQ). “213th Corps Commanders’ Conference held at GHQ presided by General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS),” ISPR Director General (DG) Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said.

“[The] forum paid rich tribute to [the] martyrs of Pakistan on the eve of Defence and Martyrs Day 2018.”

The statement added that the army top brass discussed the evolving geo-strategic environment and progress of operation Radd-ul-Fasaad.

Full report at:



Siraj says Alvi must ensure supremacy of constitution


Ameer Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Pakistan, Senator Sirajul Haq while congratulating Dr. Arif Alvi on his election as President of Pakistan has expressed the hope that he would ensure the supremacy of constitution in the country.

In a message of greetings, Siraj ul Haq hoped that Dr Arif Alvi would play his role as an impartial President and seek the support of all others for the rule of law.

The JI chief said that Dr Alvi is not the President of any party but he is the President of the whole of Pakistan and he would have to come up to the dictates of his high office.

Moreover, in a telephonic conversation with the President of the International Muslim Women Union, Dr Samiha Raheel Qazi on Tuesday, on the occasion of international Hijab Day, Sirajul Haq said the West is becoming a battle ground of racism, fascist ideas, hatred and narrow mindedness towards the Muslims is intensifying.

He said the Muslim women had rendered matchless sacrifices to secure the right of Hijab but the west is denying this right to the Muslim women. Girl students wearing Hijab and scarf are being expelled from schools and colleges and, the people ridiculing Islamic signs and symbols were being honoured, he added.

He said that the hatred and biased attitude of the West towards Muslim women negates its own claim of being the champion of women rights.

The JI chief lauded the efforts of the International Muslim Women Union for the promotion of Hijab, as it had created awareness about Hijab all over the world. He said that the International Hijab Day on September 04 reminded him of a minor girl who embraced martyrdom in a German court and of a Turkish lady who lost her citizenship and membership of the parliament for the same cause.

Full report at:



South Asia


Jalaluddin Haqqani’s Death Not to Affect the Activities of the Network: Former Afghan Intelligence Chief

Sep 04 2018

The former Afghan Intelligence Chief Rahmatullah Nabil says the death of the Haqqani network founder Jalaluddin Haqqani will not affect the activities of the network.

In an online statement posted in his Twitter account, Nabil said some of the other leaders of the terror network, including Sirajuddin Haqqani, Khalil Haqqani, Hamza Haqqani, Yahya Haqqani, Aziz, and some others have been fully trained as the brutal successor of Jalaluddin Haqqani.

Nabil also claimed that Jalaluddin Haqqani has died long ago and disclosure of his death likel has direct links with the scheduled visit of the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The Taliban group issued a statement earlier today confirming that the founder of the network has died due to the illness he was suffering from during the recent years.

Haqqani network was formed in the late 1970s by Jalaluddin Haqqani. The group is allied with al-Qaida and the Afghan Taliban and cooperates with other terrorist organizations in the region.

The network is accused of staging numerous cross-border attacks from their base in North Waziristan, including the 19-hour siege at the US Embassy in Kabul in September 2011.

It is considered the most lethal insurgent group targeting the NATO-led coalition security forces and Afghan personnel in Afghanistan.

The US Department of State designated the HQN as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on September 7, 2012.



Taliban commanders, security personnel among 19 killed, wounded in Baghlan clashes

Sep 05 2018

At least 19 people including local Taliban commanders and security personnel were killed or wounded during the clashes in northern Baghlan province of Afghanistan. (File Photo)

The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North in a statement said at least six militants have been killed during the clashes with the security forces in Lakan village.

The statement further added that the clashes broke out amid ongoing operations being conducted as part of Nawid-15 operations.

According to the 209th Shaheen Corps, a local commander of the Taliban group identified as Qari Jawid is among those killed.

At least 11 Taliban militants also sustained injuries during the clashes together with 2 security personnel whose health condition has been reported as stable, the 209th Shaheen Corps added.

The anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban militants have not commented regarding the report so far.

Baghlan has been among the relatively calm provinces in the North but the security situation of the province has deteriorated during the recent years.

Full report at:



11 Taliban militants join peace process in Nangarhar

Sep 04 2018

A group of 11 Taliban militants have joined peace process in eastern Nangarhar province and handed over eleven various types of weapons to the local authorities.

Provincial governor’s spokesman Ataullah Khogyani said the militants were previously operating under the command of Jalat Khan in Surkh Rod and Khogyani districts.

Khogyani further added that the militants joined peace process due to the ongoing efforts of the National Directorate of Security and handed over 11 weapons to the authorities after joining peace today.

The Taliban militants who joined peace process said they decided to renounce violence after reaching to a conclusion that the victims of the ongoing conflict are only Afghan people.

They also vowed to live peaceful lives after this and contribute in the reconstruction of the country similar as the other Afghans.

Full report at:



B’desh court refuses to hear photographer’s case

September 05, 2018

DHAKA - Award-winning photographer and rights activist Shahidul Alam, whose month-long detention has triggered an international outcry, failed to win bail on Tuesday after Bangladesh’s high court refused to consider the request, his lawyer told AFP.

Alam was arrested on August 5 for making “false” and “provocative” statements on Al Jazeera and on Facebook Live during massive student protests in Dhaka.

Rights groups, UN rights experts, Nobel laureates and hundreds of academics have called for the immediate release of the 63-year-old, who says he has been beaten in custody.

After a lower court rejected a bail petition for Alam last month, his lawyers moved to the high court in Dhaka and a hearing was set for Tuesday.

But “the court did not hear the case because one of the judges (said he) felt embarrassed to hear the case,” lawyer Jyotirmoy Barua told AFP.

Barua said the judge did not give any further explanation.

He said Alam’s legal team was now trying to get the case heard by another bench of the high court.

Alam’s arrest capped a turbulent month in Bangladesh as teenage students poured onto the streets for nine straight days after two teenagers were killed by a speeding bus.

Alam had told Al Jazeera that the protests were the result of pent-up anger at corruption and an “unelected government... clinging on by brute force” that had looted banks and gagged media.

He is being investigated for allegedly violating Bangladesh’s internet laws, enacted in 2006 and sharpened in 2013, which critics say are used to stifle dissent and harass journalists.

Alam - whose work has appeared widely in Western media and who founded the renowned Pathshala South Asian Media Institute - faces a maximum 14 years in jail if convicted, along with others detained during the protests.

The photographer told reporters outside court last month that he had been beaten so badly in police custody that his tunic needed washing to get the blood out.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has demanded his release, denouncing authorities for targeting activists and journalists instead of prosecuting those who attacked students when last month’s protests were broken up.

Full report at:




Zia Charitable Trust case: Court to try Khaleda in old Dhaka jail

September 4th, 2018

Proceedings to be heard in institution where BNP chief is serving five-year term

The government has set up a temporary court at the old Dhaka central jail to hold the trial of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and three others in the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case.

Judge Md Akhtaruzzaman of the Dhaka Special Judge Court 5 will begin the trial today from inside the prison, where Khaleda has been kept since her conviction in another graft case earlier this year.

A gazette notification in this regard was issued by the Law Ministry on Tuesday, mentioning that the court had been moved to inside the jail due to security reasons.

It also said the makeshift court will be set up in Room No.7 of the prison’s administrative building.

Prosecution lawyers said the decision was made as Khaleda Zia has not been produced before the makeshift court at Bakshibazar during the hearings of the case, since she was convicted in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case on February 8.

The former prime minister is now serving five years’ imprisonment at the erstwhile Dhaka central jail on Nazimuddin Road in Old Dhaka.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed the Zia Charitable Trust case at Tejgaon Police Station in August 2011, accusing Khaleda and three others of abusing power to raise funds for the trust from unknown sources.

The three other accused in the case are: Harris Chowdhury, political secretary of the then prime minister Khaleda between 2001 and 2006; Ziaul Islam Munna, assistant private secretary to Harris; and Monirul Islam Khan, APS to former Dhaka city mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka.

BNP calls transfer of court unconstitutional

BNP leaders and Khaleda’s lawyers have protested the court move, describing it as “unconstitutional” and saying it was done to make sure the BNP chief is never released from jail.

The lawyers also said that the move was against the law.

“This will be a camera trial, which cannot be held in a case like this. This move is completely unconstitutional,” BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told a press briefing at Khaleda’s Gulshan office on Tuesday evening.

Fakhrul said Khaleda Zia’s trial has been held up to now in a special court set up at the Dhaka Alia Madrasa premises.

“Now, the government is taking the trial inside the jail by issuing a gazette notification,” he said.

He alleged that the government was doing this to establish a one-party rule in the country. “This kind of activity will impact the upcoming national election. BNP is taking this very seriously.”

BNP Joint Secretary General Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal told the Dhaka Tribune that the gazette from the law ministry had been issued in a hurry.

“Our lawyers were always in touch, but even they had no idea that this court was being set up,” he said. “It’s part of the plan and process to repress the political opposition.”

Moazzem claimed that the trial of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman during the Agartala Conspiracy Case was held the same way, and that his daughter, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has reintroduced it.

Khaleda’s lawyer Sanaullah Mia said the government move was against the constitution and laws.

Full report at:



North America


Kremlin dismisses Trump warning on Syria's Idlib


MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin dismissed U.S. President Donald Trump’s warning to Syria not to launch an offensive in the rebel-held enclave of Idlib, saying on Tuesday that the area was a “nest of terrorism”.

Trump on Monday warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies Iran and Russia not to “recklessly attack” the northwestern Syrian province, saying hundreds of thousands of people could be killed.

“Just to speak out with some warnings, without taking into account the very dangerous, negative potential for the whole situation in Syria, is probably not a full, comprehensive approach,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

The presence of militants in Idlib was undermining the Syrian peace process and making the region a base for attacks on Russian forces in Syria, Peskov added.

“A fairly large group of terrorists has settled there and of course this leads to a general destabilization of the situation. It undermines attempts to bring the situation onto the track of a political-diplomatic settlement,” he said.

“We know that Syria’s armed forces are preparing to resolve this problem,” he added.

Russia resumed air strikes against insurgents in Idlib province on Tuesday after a hiatus of several weeks, according to a Syrian rebel and a war monitor.

A source has told Reuters that Assad is preparing a phased offensive to regain the province.

The situation around Idlib will be one of the main items on the agenda when the leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey meet in Tehran this week, Peskov told reporters on a conference call, declining to elaborate further.



Trump warns Syria not to 'recklessly attack' Idlib province


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies Iran and Russia not to “recklessly attack” Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province, warning that hundreds of thousands of people could be killed. “The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy. Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed. Don’t let that happen!” Trump wrote in a tweet.

A source has told Reuters that Assad is preparing a phased offensive to regain Idlib.

The northern province and surrounding areas are the last major enclave held by insurgents fighting Assad, who has been backed by both Russian and Iranian forces in Syria’s seven-year-old civil war. They are home to some three million civilians.

Trump has sought better relations with Russia since taking office in 2017 but the United States has been unable to rein in Moscow’s military and diplomatic support for Assad.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday said Washington views any government assault on Idlib as an escalation of Syria’s war, and the State Department warned that Washington would respond to any chemical attack by Damascus.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, wrote on Twitter late on Monday: “All eyes on the actions of Assad, Russia, and Iran in Idlib. #NoChemicalWeapons”

Iran called for militants to be “cleaned out” of Idlib, as it prepared for talks with Syria and Russia about confronting the last major enclave held by rebels opposed to Assad.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Damascus to discuss plans for an upcoming summit between the leaders of Iran, Russia and Turkey, which Tehran will host on Sept. 7 to discuss Idlib, Iran’s Fars news agency reported.

Turkey, which has long supported anti-Assad rebels, has cooperated with Russia and Iran on talks over Syria in recent years and has troops in the Idlib region on an observation mission.

Full report at:



Pompeo Heads to Pakistan to Take on Terrorism, Seek 'Reset'

By Ankit Panda

September 05, 2018

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives in Pakistan on Wednesday for talks with the country’s new government, led by Prime Minister Imran Khan of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party. Khan, a populist with an anti-American streak, become prime minister after the controversial July 25 elections in Pakistan.

Days before Pompeo’s scheduled trip, the U.S. Department of Defense announced a final decision on the suspension of a $300 million tranche of Coalition Support Fund (CSF) reimbursements for Pakistan, which had been announced earlier this year by the Trump administration.

“Due to a lack of Pakistani decisive actions in support of the South Asia Strategy the remaining $300 million was reprogrammed,” a Pentagon spokesperson told Reuters. CSF payments reimburse Pakistan for expenses incurred combating terrorism on its own soil.

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“We certainly haven’t seen the progress that we would have hoped to have seen,” Pompeo told reporters on his flight to Pakistan. “Certainly not progress that would be sufficient for us to have advocated for turning back on that financial support.”

“Look, this wasn’t news to the Pakistanis,’’ Pompeo said. “The rationale for them not getting the money is very clear, it’s that we haven’t seen the progress that we need to see from them and the very reason for this trip is to try to articulate what it is our expectation is. We need Pakistan to seriously engage to help us get to the reconciliation we need in Afghanistan.”

The move built leverage for Pompeo prior to his arrival. The U.S. secretary of state is unlikely to have a relaxed time in Islamabad as he meets with his counterpart and other officials in Khan’s government. Referencing the new government’s ascendance, Pompeo said he sought a “reset” in U.S.-Pakistan ties.

In the days leading up to his trip, the U.S. State Department entered a tiff with Khan’s young government after an official readout of a phone call between Pompeo and Khan made reference to the issue of terrorists on Pakistani soil.

Pompeo “raised the importance of Pakistan taking decisive action against all terrorists operating in Pakistan,” the U.S. readout had noted. Pakistan strongly protested and insisted that the issue had not been brought up.

U.S.-Pakistan relations have been strained since the start of 2018. Shortly after the new year, U.S. President Donald J. Trump took to Twitter to issue a strong condemnation of Pakistan. “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” Trump said.

“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” Trump’s tweets were followed by aid suspensions totalling more than $900 million. The CSF reimbursements are a portion of that sum, with the rest coming from Foreign Military Financing earmarks, which fund purchases of U.S. military hardware by third countries.

Full report at:



Watergate journalist: Trump wanted to assassinate Assad after chemical attack

5 September 2018

US President Donald Trump wanted to assassinate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad following the April 2017 chemical attack on Idlib, journalist Bob Woodward wrote in his book titled ‘Fear: Trump in the White House’.

According to the Washington Post which published details from Woodward’s book, Trump called Defense Secretary James Mattis and said he wanted to kill Assad.

“Let’s kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the lot of them,” Woodward reported Trump as saying.

Mattis agreed with the president, and said he would “get right on it” according to the newspaper. But after hanging up with Trump, Mattis told a senior aide: “We’re not going to do any of that. We’re going to be much more measured.”

It was then that they decided on a more conventional airstrike that trump had ultimately ordered.

The publication of Woodward's book has been anticipated for weeks, and current and former White House officials estimate that nearly all their colleagues cooperated with the famed Watergate journalist. Woodward is known for being involved in the takedown of President Nixon in the infamous Watergate scandal.

The White House, in a statement from press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, on Tuesday dismissed the book as "nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees, told to make the President look bad."

The book quotes chief of staff John Kelly as having doubts about Trump's mental faculties, declaring during one meeting, "We're in Crazytown." It also says he called Trump an "idiot," an account that Kelly denied.

Full report at:



Donald Trump to chair UN Security Council meeting on Iran

September 04, 2018

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump will chair a UN Security Council meeting on Iran this month during the annual gathering of world leaders in New York, diplomats and US Ambassador Nikki Haley said on Tuesday.

The US, which holds the council presidency for September, has unsuccessfully pushed the UN to call out Iran. Haley has regularly attacked Iran, accusing it of meddling in the wars in Syria and Yemen.

Diplomats said Iran could request to speak at the Sept. 26 council meeting, the week of the UN General Assembly. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is expected to address the assembly on Sept. 25. The Iranian UN mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

During a rare public meeting on Tuesday to discuss the proposed US agenda for the council, Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy said the Iran meeting should focus on the implementation of a 2015 resolution on Iran.

“We very much hope that there will be views voiced in connection with the US withdrawal” from a 2015 international nuclear deal, Polyanskiy told the council.

Trump in May withdrew from the accord between Iran and six world powers aimed at stalling Tehran’s nuclear capabilities in return for lifting some sanctions. Trump ordered the reimposition of US sanctions suspended under the deal.

Iran is still subject to a UN arms embargo and other restrictions contained in the 2015 resolution, which enshrines the nuclear deal. European powers have been scrambling to salvage the accord.

In February, Russia vetoed a US-led bid for the Security Council to call out Tehran for failing to prevent its weapons from falling into the hands of Yemen’s Houthi group, a charge Tehran denies.

Haley arranged Tuesday’s event after several members expressed opposition to her plan to convene a meeting on Wednesday on Nicaragua. Haley said their views should be on record. More than 300 people have been killed and thousands injured in crackdowns by police and armed groups on protests over government plans to cut welfare benefits. The protests developed into broader opposition against President Daniel Ortega.

Full report at:





UN urges Putin, Erdogan to talk urgently to avert Idlib ‘bloodbath’

4 September 2018

Syria could be spared its bloodiest battle yet if the Russian and Turkish presidents talk to each other urgently about resolving the situation in the rebel-held region of Idlib, UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said on Tuesday.

De Mistura told reporters that ongoing talks between Russia and Turkey held the key to averting an assault on the region, but six reported air strikes on Tuesday suggested the Ankara talks were not going well.

Media reports had said Syria’s government might wait until Sept 10 before launching an assault, making a summit in Tehran on Friday “crucial”. But he called on Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Turkey's Tayyep Erdogan to talk by phone before then, saying “time is of the essence”.



EU chief diplomat to quit after struggle with Iran nuclear deal

4 September 2018

The EU’s chief diplomat Federica Mogherini indicated on Monday she would not seek reappointment when her term expires next year.

The former Italian foreign minister, who has played a major role in trying to save the beleaguered Iran nuclear deal, told a gathering of EU ambassadors that she would work hard over the coming year to leave the “house in order” for her successor.

Mogherini’s term will end along with the those of the rest of the current European Commission, led by President Jean-Claude Juncker, when its mandate runs out in October next year.

“We have a lot to do this year. First of all to preserve what we have achieved so far, that has been a lot but fragile,” Mogherini said.

“We have a lot to do to complete the job and to leave to the one that will have the honor, the pleasure, to do this job after me next year, the house in order.”

Mogherini became the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy in 2014 at the age of just 41 after a rapid rise through the ranks of Italian politics.

She faced resistance from Eastern European countries who saw her as inexperienced and too close to Moscow.

She has been a staunch supporter of the Iran nuclear deal, which is seen as flawed by many as Iran continues to spread its influence in the region and finance terrorist militias.

Many social media users expressed their content with Mogherini’s decision, sharing a picture of her wearing a headscarf and posing with Iranian parliament members.

But she has overseen significant developments in the EU’s security architecture, notably a major defense pact that aims to get member states to cooperate more closely and spend money more effectively.

Full report at:



UK may lose billions of taxpayer money over Qatar military deal: Report

Sep 4, 2018

The UK government could end up losing billions of its taxpayer money because it has underwritten a major military deal to sell Typhoon fighter jets to Qatar.

In a report published Monday on its website, the Daily Telegraph cited unnamed officials as saying that “billions of Exchequer funding” could be lost if Qatar defaults on the massive agreement with UK defense giant BAE Systems.

The sources said the contract runs the risk of “skewing” the government's credit agency “by concentrating about 25 percent of their portfolio risk in one transaction.”

It added that British taxpayers would need to support the deal which is worth £6 billion ($7.6 billion).

BAE Systems announced the hefty deal with Qatar in December 2017, saying it would provide Doha with 24 Typhoon fighter jets as well as a package comprising weapons, pilot training and maintenance. The contract will be implemented at the end of this year.

The UK government has defended the deal as a major effort to secure jobs in defense industries while it claims that the agreement could bolster its security cooperation with allied countries in the Persian Gulf region.

UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said recently that Typhoon jets would help expand “the Qatari military's mission to tackle the challenges we both share in the Middle East.”

Britain has been a major supplier of arms and weapons to undemocratic regimes in the Persian Gulf.

Full report at:



Arab World


Four million Iraqis return home after war on ISIS

4 September 2018

Nearly four million Iraqis displaced by the war on ISIS have returned to their homes, the UN migration agency said in a report released Tuesday.

When ISIS swept across Iraq in 2014, eventually seizing around one third of the country, it forced six million Iraqis to flee for safety, said the International Organization for Migration.

The IOM said the six million who were displaced represented around 15 percent of Iraq’s total population.

“For the first time in nearly four years, the number of displaced Iraqis has fallen to below two million,” the agency said. “Nearly four million have returned home.”

According to the IOM, the displaced who have returned home cited several reasons for their decision, including “the improved security situation (and) availability of housing”.

Others said they were encouraged to return by community leaders, friends and relatives, or simply had the financial means to do so.

But those who are still displaced -- 1,931,868 people -- complain of lack of means and job opportunities, as well as insecurity and of damaged homes and infrastructure, said the IOM.

It said most of those who had gone back were displaced from the northern province of Nineveh -- home to Iraq’s second city Mosul and an ISIS bastion for three years before it was driven out in 2017.

Displaced Iraqis have also gone back in large numbers to the Sunni province of Anbar bordering Syria and scene of the last major battle against ISIS.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared “victory” in December in the fight against ISIS.

But sleeper cells still operate in the country from sparsely populated areas, including desert regions near the border with Syria.



Saudi king's brother blames monarch, heir for devastating Yemen conflict

Sep 4, 2018

A high-ranking member of the Saudi royal family has leveled strident criticism at King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the atrocious military campaign against Yemen, which has claimed the lives of thousands of innocent civilians and left the country’s critical infrastructure in ruins.

“What does the Al Saud family have to do with your chants? We have nothing to do with what is happening [in Yemen]. There are people responsible for the state of war in Yemen... such as the king and his heir apparent,” the pan-Arab al-Araby al-Jadeed media outlet quoted Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al Saud as saying in a video posted online and addressed to a group of activists and protesters in the British capital, London, chanting slogans such as "Down, down, the Al Saud" and "Criminal family Al Saud".

“In Yemen and elsewhere, our hope is that the war ends today before tomorrow,” he added.

Later in the video, Prince Ahmed agreed with the protesters' condemnation of a recent deadly airstrike by Saudi warplanes on a bus carrying schoolchildren in Yemen’s mountainous northwestern province of Sa’ada.

The airstrike on August 9 hit a bus carrying a group of young schoolchildren attending summer classes of the Holy Qur’an from a camp at a busy market area in the Dhahyan district of Sa’ada province, UN spokesman, Farhan Haq, said in a statement.

According to Yemeni medical sources, over 50 people, including 40 children, were killed and 77 injured in the strike.

The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has censured the attack, calling for “an independent and prompt investigation” into the incident.

Some 15,000 Yemenis have been killed and thousands more injured since the onset of the Saudi-led aggression on Yemen in March 2015.

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

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

“The conflict has escalated since November, driving an estimated 100,000 people from their homes,” John Ging, UN director of aid operations, told the UN Security Council earlier this year.

Prince Ahmed also voiced sympathy for detained Shia activists in Bahrain.

“If we could [do something] we would, God willing,” he commented.

The report points to the growing criticism within the ruling House of Saud over the hawkish policies of the kingdom’s monarch and his son – the crown prince.

Prince Ahmed served as Saudi Arabia’s deputy interior minister from 1975 to 2012. He was the country’s interior minister between June and November 2012 under the late King Abdullah, before being replaced with Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

Full report at:



International Union of Muslim Scholars official faces 37 charges

September 04, 2018

JEDDAH: The trial of the assistant secretary-general of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), which is classified as a terrorist organization, began in the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh on Tuesday.

The defendant faced 37 charges, including national destabilization and conspiracy against the state.

The general prosecutor’s office listed the charges, gave the defendant a copy of the list and granted him the right to appoint a defense lawyer, saying that if he cannot afford it, he will be provided one at the expense of the Justice Ministry.

On Nov. 23, 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt added two organizations to their terror list: The IUMS and the International Islamic Council ‘Massaa’.



Saudi prosecutors demand death penalty for jailed moderate Sunni preacher

Sep 4, 2018

Saudi public prosecutors have called for the death penalty for an imprisoned political dissident as a brutal crackdown led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman against Muslim preachers and intellectuals widens in the conservative oil-rich kingdom.

The Arabic-language Saudi Arabian daily newspaper Okaz reported on Tuesday that the lawyers have leveled 37 counts against Salman al-Awda, and even demanded the execution of the prominent Muslim scholar.

Awda is the assistant secretary-general of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, which the Riyadh regime has listed as a terrorist organization.

Saudi authorities detained Awda on September 7 last year, and have held him in solitary confinement without charge or trial ever since. The officials have imposed travel bans on members of his family as well.

A family member told Human Rights Watch that the distinguished cleric was being held over his refusal to comply with an order by Saudi authorities to tweet a specific text to support the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar.

Awda, instead, posted a tweet, saying, “May God harmonize between their hearts for the good of their people,” - an apparent call for reconciliation between the Persian Gulf littoral states, the US-based rights group said in a statement.

Awda has been prevented from communicating with the outside world since October.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt all cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5 last year, after officially accusing it of “sponsoring terrorism.”

The administration of the Saudi-backed and former Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Libya, the Maldives, Djibouti, Senegal and the Comoros later joined the camp in ending diplomatic ties with Doha. Jordan downgraded its diplomatic relations as well.

Qatar's Foreign Ministry later announced that the decision to cut diplomatic ties was unjustified and based on false claims and assumptions.

Saudi Arabia has lately stepped up politically-motivated arrests, prosecution and conviction of peaceful dissident writers and human rights campaigners.

Saudi officials have also intensified security measures in the Shia-populated and oil-rich Eastern Province.

Eastern Province has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011. Protesters have been demanding reforms, freedom of expression, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination against the oil-rich region.

The protests have been met with a heavy-handed crackdown by the regime with security forces increasing security measures across the province.

Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.

Full report at:



Syrian Army Discovers Israeli, German Arms in Terrorists' Positions in Quneitra

Sep 04, 2018

The army men carried out cleansing operation in the villages of Jabata al-Khashaba and Ba'ar Ajam in Quneitra, discovering arms, military equipment, communication devices and medical equipment.

A number of German and Israeli missiles, cannons, tanks and medical equipment were also discovered in the region.

In a relevant development on Saturday, the army men carried out mop-up operation in the village of al-Mo'alaqa and in the small town of Jabata al-Khashab in Quneitra, finding a large volume of weapons, munitions and medicines in regions that were once under control by ISIL and Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front).

Full report at:



Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque among world's most impressive

September 4, 2018

The mosque features in a book titled 'Mosques: Splendors of Islam'.

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan mosque in Abu Dhabi has been selected as one of the most impressive contemporary mosques in the world and featured in "Mosques: Splendors of Islam".

The book will be officially launched in Dubai in November 2018 to commemorate the "Year of Zayed" and the 100 years since the birth of the founding father of the UAE - as well as the namesake of one of the most pivotal mosques of the 21st century: the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan mosque.

The book is a culmination of Leyla Uluhanli's continuing efforts to promote and support unique Islamic culture around the world.

The book is supported by prominent scholars in Islamic culture, history and architecture and features stunning original and archive photography of 53 global mosques, accompanied by narratives on every aspect of the mosques story and architecture, including the design, calligraphic inscriptions, history and both religious and secular significance.

"The 'Splendors of Islam' book is for me, first and foremost, an honorable opportunity to share my fascination with intricate Islamic architecture with the world," said Uluhanli.

"Mosques: Splendors of Islam", published by Rizzoli New York in November 2017 is already in its second run, and is available around the world across all leading bookstores and major online resources.

Full report at:



Syrian Army Keeps Rolling on ISIL's Centres in Sweida Deserts

Sep 04, 2018

The army soldiers engaged in fresh battle with ISIL Northeast of Toloul al-Safa in Eastern desert of Sweida, advancing 7km in the depth of terrorists' positions.

In the meantime, the army's artillery and missile units and aircraft pounded the positions and movements of ISIL in the same region, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.

Fields sources, meantime, reported that the army men have reached at Talal Marati region as terrorists retreated towards the depth of the rocky heights.

Earlier reports said that the army units fortified newly-captured positions in the rocks in Toloul al-Safa in the Eastern deserts of Sweida, preparing to drive ISIL out of the last strongholds in Toloul al-Safa.

The army forces have been pounding ISIL's main positions in Toloul al-Safa, destroying a large volume of their weapons and equipment and killing tens of the terrorists, especially their snipers.

Full report at:



More Bodies of Civilians Killed in US Air Raids Found in Northeastern Syria

Sep 04, 2018

Members of the Civil Team in Raqqa discovered the bodies of six civilians from under the debris of buildings in al-Badou neighborhood in Raqqa city that were destroyed in the US warplanes' bombardments.

Also, six more bodies of civilians were found in al-Atiq Mosque's yard.

In the meantime, body of another civilian was discovered from under the debris of al-Kahroba neighborhood in Raqqa city.

Last month, local sources said that a mass grave with several bodies of the civilians killed in the US air attacks was found behind a garage in al-Badu neighborhood.

They further said that a sum of 20 bodies of civilians was taken out of debris in different areas in al-Badu.

In the meantime, another mass grave was found in Panorama district South of Raqqa city.



Iraqi forces kill six protesters in southern city of Basra

4 September 2018

Iraqi security forces fired tear gas and live ammunition on hundreds of protesters in the southern city of Basra on Tuesday, killing six people and wounding 19.

Twenty-two members of the security forces were also wounded, some by a hand grenade, the sources said, in some of the worst unrest reported during months of protests sweeping the long neglected south, heartland of Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority.

The government has also imposed a curfew in the city.

Two activists told The Associated Press that security forces fired bullets and tear gas on protesters demanding better services and jobs on Monday, killing 26-year-old Mekki Yasser.

A funeral procession for Yasser was held Tuesday in front of the provincial government building, where protesters threw stones, prompting security forces to fire tear gas at first, then to open fire, killing another six protesters.

The activists spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for their safety. They said a fire was raging on the 6th floor of the provincial government building after protesters lobbed Molotov cocktails inside. A crowd of protesters tried to storm the building.

Iraqi officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Mourners carry the Iraqi flag-draped coffin of Mekki Yasser. (AP)

Several protesters have also been demanding that the border with Iran be closed, and according to social media users, protesters have also been demonstrating against corrupt Iran-linked government officials.

A video being circulated on social media also purports to show protesters surrounding a government building after it was set on fire.

Iraqis in the south have been protesting against unemployment and poor public services since July. The protests have often turned violent, with protesters attacking government offices and security forces.

Water shortages along with a lingering electricity crisis in the oil-rich region have contributed to protesters' rage, fueling the demonstrations in Basra.

Full report at:



Egypt police arrest man with homemade bomb near US embassy

September 04, 2018

CAIRO:  Egyptian police on Tuesday arrested a  man after an explosive device detonated near the US embassy in Cairo.

Dramatic video footage showed the man walking near the embassy when the black backpack he is wearing appears to explode.

A security source told Arab News that the suspected attacker was Ayman Abdel-Samie, a 24-year old from Giza. The source said he was arrested after his bag containing a bottle of chemicals exploded.

"Preliminary investigations suggest that he embraces some extremist ideas and was intending to use them to commit an act of aggression,” a statement from Egypt's state information service said.

Another video shows him being held by a group of people and giving his name and that he is aged 24. Other reports said he threw a crude device towards the concrete security barriers of the embassy.

The man was also shown stripped to his underwear and blindfolded as security officers interrogated him.

With an air of confidence, the man says: “ Listen to me and I will tell you what happened.”

The US Embassy said it was “aware of a reported incident” near the embassy and advised American citizens to avoid the area.

A witness  told Reuters that she heard a blast and then saw a man with a backpack that had caught on fire close to the Semiramis Hotel.

The man was then thrown to the ground by security forces as the fire was extinguished, the witness said.

According to leaked information from the preliminary investigation, the accused belonged to a cell that follows a similar ideology to the banned Muslim Brotherhood and that aims to use violence to destabilize the country.

Al-Warraq island, where the attacker is from, is on the Nile north of Cairo’s city center. It is relatively poor and near to the famous Imbaba district, which was the scene of many pro-Muslim Brotherhood demonstrations after the Arab Spring uprising in 2011.

The concrete blast barriers where the incident happened encircle the US and nearby British embassies in the leafy district of Garden City.

The area around the embassy has for decades been heavily policed, with concrete barriers blocking traffic.

Egypt has struggled to stem a campaign of bombings and and an insurgency in the Sinai peninsula after the Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi was removed from power in 2013.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Putrajaya powerless to stop Shariah caning, law minister says after lesbians whipped

04 September 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 ― The federal government cannot intervene in Shariah punishments because it would encroach on state jurisdiction that covers Islamic matters, de facto law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong said today.

Liew noted that the breach of Shariah law by two young women ― who were publicly caned six times in a courtroom in Terengganu yesterday for attempting to have lesbian sex, a violation of the Shariah Criminal Offences Enactment (Takzir) (Terengganu) 2001 ― and their caning punishment were under state jurisdiction.

“Item 1 List II of the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution clearly states that the exercise of state jurisdiction on Islamic matters provided therein is a state matter, therefore, federal government cannot interfere in state jurisdiction,” Liew said in a statement issued from Singapore, where he is attending the 39th Asean Inter-Parliamentary Assembly.

Liew however said the Terengganu authorities’ actions did not augur well for human rights.

“The state of Terengganu is now under the control of Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS). PAS is not part of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government but acts on its own accord,” he said.

PAS wrested Terengganu from Barisan Nasional (BN) in the 2018 election, while retaining Kelantan. Both states do not have a single PH representative.

In addition to being caned, the accused women aged 22 and 32 were also required to pay a fine of RM3,300.

Pahang, under BN control, is now reportedly considering caning under Shariah law against Muslims who engage in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activities after the Terengganu sentence.

Civil society and the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) have criticised the Shariah caning in Terengganu, pointing out that international human rights treaties prohibited torture and “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment”, including corporal punishment.



Minister blasts intimidation against Muslim preacher Abdul Somad

September 4, 2018

Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin has said that he is against the intimidation of religious preachers, including ustadz (Muslim teacher) Abdul Somad.

“There must be no deterrence, intimidation or any other disturbances that threaten the security and safety of religious preachers,” he said on Tuesday as quoted by

Lukman said that such acts were not allowed as long as sermons were educational, enlightening and broadened religious knowledge as well as strengthened unity.

He said he had communicated with the police on putting a stop to threats and intimidation against religious preachers.

On Sunday, Abdul Somad announced via his official Instagram account that he had canceled his religious outreach events in some part of Java Island.

The cancellation was made because of alleged threats and intimidation from people in the Central Java regencies of Grobogan, Kudus, Jepara and Semarang.

"The burden of the committee is getting heavier. [It has affected] the psychological condition of myself and the participants," Somad claimed.

"Therefore, I have canceled several events in Central Java, East Java and Yogyakarta."

Full report at:



Malays are powering the nation

5 Sep 2018

WE refer to “The real Malay Dilemma” (Sunday Star, Aug 26) by Siti Kassim. Siti’s rambling diatribe against Malay Muslims can be reduced to two baseless, provocative, insulting and defamatory allegations, namely:

1. Assimilation of Islamic values in governance is responsible for Malay backwardness and inability to compete with other races; and

2. Malays, constituting 60% of the population, are unproductive and parasitical, depending on the industry and labour of the remaining 40%, Chinese and Indians.

On the assimilation of Islamic values in governance, Siti questions whether “a Malay society, more insular and superstitious in thought... can compete on a fair footing with the rest of the Malaysian non-Muslim population.” She writes that Malays have been given preferred places in universities, GLCs and the civil service for over 40 years, resulting in “uncompetitive universities, a significant pool of unemployable Malay graduates and with most being employed by the civil service... failed GLCs and ...corrupt administration...” She asks if more religion would help and continues, “This has been the unintended consequence of the assimilation of Islamic values in governance.”

There has been no assimilation of Islamic values in governance as provided by the syariah. Having prayer rooms in government offices, teaching Islam to Muslim students in schools, broadcasting azan on TV or having an Islamic TV channel do not make governance Islamic. The Malaysian state is based on a constitution drafted by secular jurists and not on syariah. Most government leaders and top bureaucrats, products of Western education, are very much influenced by secular ideas and ignorant about Islam and its contributions to civilisations.

It is the separation of the moral from governance under a secular system that has facilitated the corruption, abuse of power, nepotism and cronyism of our government leaders and administrators. So, why blame Islam?

Siti condemns Malays as parasites. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines a parasite as a person who is lazy and lives by other people working and giving them money.

Siti writes that the majority of Malays are satisfied with their lives and carry on being religiously obsessed because they have been “able to live off the teats of the government in one way or another”.

She continues: “Thirty per cent to 40% of the population cannot sustain 100% of us. You need the remaining, at least majority, of that 60% (Malays) to be able to truly contribute economically and not be consumers of tax from the minorities. And religion is not an economic contributor. It is an unproductive consumer of epic proportions with no returns.”

Obviously, she has not heard of Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. To Siti, Malay businessmen, professionals, workers, farmers, fishermen, civil servants, police and soldiers do not contribute sales tax, income tax, road tax and other taxes payable under our laws. They are only “consumers of tax from minorities (Chinese and Indians)”. In other words, they are parasites. This is an insulting and provocative lie!

She claims that the transformation of Malaysia from an agricultural to an industrial nation with liberal economic policies was “powered by an industrious non-Malay population and the liberal segment of the Malay society”. She must have been blinded by prejudice not to see the role played by millions of Malay workers, engineers, surveyors, architects, policymakers and administrators in the industrial development of Malaysia.

Good public education and healthcare services are essential to becoming a developed industrial society. In 2016, Irina Bokova, then the Unesco director-general, praised Malaysia for “leading the way in South-East Asia in fostering inclusive and equitable education as the basis of sustainable green growth”.

And in his message on 2018 World Health Day, WHO regional representative Dr Lo Ying-Ru Jacqueline stated that Malaysia has been acknowledged globally for its high-performing health system based on a well-trained workforce, excellent infrastructure and quality service delivery.

Since independence, infant death has fallen by more than 90% to 6.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2016. Maternal mortality has also decreased by 89% between 1963 and 2013.

Who are these “well-trained workforce”? Mostly “unemployable Malay graduates” from “uncompetitive universities” and other institutions.

Who are the members of “the liberal segment of the Malay society” who powered the industrial transformation of Malaysia?

Are they those who are blond and advocating “separation of religion and government; religion must be a private matter and kept private; take out religious education from the public arena”?

Or those who call for recognition of homosexual, gay and lesbian rights; criminalisation of polygamy and decriminalisation of adultery; and free sex?

Sorry Siti, if there was any contribution from this deviant group, it was very minimal as many of them look to green pastures outside Malaysia and migrate. The rapid transformation of the Malaysian economy has been powered by patriotic devout Malay Muslims and the minorities, Chinese and Indians.

It is not the Malays who face a dilemma in engaging the modern world because their religion teaches them to seek success in this world and in the hereafter (Quran 2:201). It is Siti who faces a serious dilemma on whether to decolonise her thinking and become a true Malay Muslim or remain a Western secular clone.



Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organization

Endorsed by:

Syekh Ahmad Awang, chairman, International Union of Muslim Scholars Malaysia

Syekh Abdul Ghani Samsudin, chairman, Secretariat for the Assembly of Ulama of Asia

Assoc Prof Dr Roslan Mohd Nor, secretary-general, Ulama Association of Malaysia

Datin Ustazah Aminah Zakaria, chairperson, Persatuan Persaudaraan Muslimah Malaysia

Hj Baharudin Masrom, secretary, Kongres Ummah

Dr Mohamad Ali Hassan, committee member of SHURA

Prof Dr Rahmatullah Khan, committee of MaSSa

Dr Abdul Rahman Ahmad, committee of SUARA

Full report at:



The Future of US-Indonesia Defense Ties Under Trump

By Prashanth Parameswaran

September 05, 2018

Last week, Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu was in Washington, D.C., where he met with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. While the engagement itself was just the latest in a series of interactions by the two sides, it spotlighted the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for the defense side of the relationship.

As I have detailed before in these pages, the United States and Indonesia have a defense relationship that has included a range of interactions including visits, exchanges, and regular exercises, with previous major restrictions in place in the 1990s largely lifted under the George W. Bush administration. U.S. policymakers across administrations have recognized that Indonesia – the world’s largest archipelagic state and biggest Muslim-majority country – is a significant actor in Southeast Asia and an important partner in addressing challenges ranging from maritime security to Islamic extremism, with ties gradually upgraded to a level of a strategic partnership during the Barack Obama years.

The Trump administration, to its credit, quickly prioritized Indonesia as being one of the key countries to engage in the Asia-Pacific on the defense side once it took office. Despite uncertainties that remain among Indonesian policymakers about the direction of overall U.S. domestic and foreign policy, engagement has been ongoing and the defense aspect of ties is no exception. U.S. Defense Secretary and Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu had met four times officially in two years and both have emphasized the warm nature of their personal relationship.

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Last week, Ryacudu was in Washington, D.C., with other Indonesian defense officials for what was his fifth official meeting with Mattis. An official Pentagon statement released following the meeting noted that the two sides addressed a wide range of defense issues in the bilateral relationship as well as wider regional and global issues, from strengthening maritime domain awareness to transnational crimes such as piracy and illegal and unregulated fishing.

That itself came as little surprise: such issues have come up in previous bilateral meetings as well, and are priorities that Indonesia is itself advancing under President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who is up for reelection next year. Those priorities are rooted in Indonesia’s longer-term efforts to modernize its military at home as well as confronting challenges abroad, which range from protecting its maritime resources to resolving outstanding disputes with states – including with China in the South China Sea (See: “Indonesia’s South China Sea Policy: A Delicate Equilibrium”).

While such meetings offer the opportunity for both sides to review collaboration across a range of aspects, including exchanges, educational opportunities, and intelligence sharing, several Indonesian media accounts focused on the defense industry aspect of ties, noting that Ryacudu had reaffirmed the fact that Jakarta would look to buy defense equipment from the United States including C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. In reality, though this aspect of ties rarely fails to get a mention in such meetings, the deals themselves take quite a while to materialize.

But as is often the case with such meetings, the interaction also brought up more specific issues of interest to both sides and opportunities and challenges in the defense relationship. Chief among the areas of focus was terrorism, which is not surprising given the threat it poses to Indonesia, as evidenced by attacks that hit Surabaya earlier this year. Ryacudu himself has been vocal about the seriousness of the challenge, which he characterized to participants at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore in June as a “third-generation” threat following the post-Al-Qaeda generation and the post-Islamic State (or Daesh) generation (See: “ASEAN Terrorism Threat in Focus at 2018 Shangri-La Dialogue”).

Ryacudu noted in his remarks at the Pentagon that countries needed to step up counterterrorism cooperation in a concrete manner beyond rhetoric. He also made reference to trilateral collaboration in the Sulu Sea underway between Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, reinforcing the need to further operationalize cooperation on land following maritime and aerial patrols. As I have noted before, major powers including the United States have expressed interest in assisting with the development of such intraregional initiatives.

On the challenges side of the equation, the issue of how U.S. Russia-related sanctions would affect Indonesia was a thread that was picked up on by Indonesian media as well, with a note that, for now, Indonesia would be included in a list of key U.S. strategic partners, such as India and Vietnam, that would not be sanctioned for procuring weapons from Russia under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

The temporary reprieve has for the time being managed what has proved to be a thorny and tricky issue for U.S. policymakers to navigate with Asian states on the defense side. Yet while the issue may have been managed for now, CAATSA has served as an example that highlights broader worries among U.S. strategic partners about how the Trump administration’s tougher approach towards American adversaries and challengers could impact their own ties with those states as part of their foreign policy outlook of cultivating a diverse array of alignments.

Beyond the bilateral relationship, Washington’s operationalization of its Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) strategy also came up between the two sides amid the series of regional and global issues. The official statement on the visit by the Indonesian defense ministry noted that Ryacudu had agreed on the importance of the concept, but had also emphasized the need to ensure that it was inclusive and well-rounded.

The ambivalent tone that characterized the official statement on Ryacudu’s response comes as no surprise. As I have noted previously in these pages, Indonesia has been cautious about its reaction to FOIP thus far and has adopted a mixed approach towards it, nudging Washington towards a vision that is relatively more complementary to Indonesia’s national interests – with greater attention to the economic side of the equation and deference to ASEAN centrality – while also emphasizing its own Indo-Pacific vision as a key regional player (See: “Trump’s Indo-Pacific Strategy Challenge”).

Full report at:





No territory is under Boko Haram – Buratai

September 4, 2018

As against insinuations from some quarters, Chief of the Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai has said that, Boko Haram terrorists are not in control of any territory in Nigeria.

This was also as he said that Lake Chad which the terrorists have been using as their hideout, will no longer be a safe haven for them.

General Buratai stated these in Jaji Kaduna State on Tuesday at the graduation of 55 soldiers from Advanced Watermanship Course.

The army chief however disclosed that, the 55 soldiers would be included in the amphibius battalion which would soon be established to tackle the insurgents in the Lake Chad.

According to Buratai, “You are all aware of the ongoing event in the country especially, the security landscape between 2013 to mid-2015. I am referring the situation in the north east. However, between middle 2015 to date, the insurgency and terrorist elements have suffered the highest degraduating.

“They no longer control any territory in particular in our sovereignty; this is due to correct strategies, employment and disposition of the right force with the tremendous backing of the Commander-in-chief, President Muhammadu Buhari as well as the good will of the citizens contributed immensely to the successes achieved so far.

“There is no gain saying that the focus on effective training adopted in the last 3 years has been the heart of our successes. It is pertinent to say that lessons learnt from our counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations have to a large extent guided our training and our operational planning.

“Earlier on in the north east campaign known as Operation Lafia Dole, it became evident that we needed to develop the mobile style capability. This informed the development of mobile bridge concept which involves organizing the troops into mobile strike teams. Today, you have witness the employment of mobile strike teams with the incision of troops in small team by air to conduct  raid operations and the subsequent execration through the water body in small groups and parties.

“You will agree with me that what you have witnessed today is a clear demonstration of the Nigerian Army Capability to deal decisively with the Boko Haram terrorists that are still locking up in the Lake Chad waters. This l sure you that with the level of motivation that l have seen this afternoon from theses gallant troops, the lake Chad will no longer be a safe haven for the criminals.” He said.

Buratai however promoted the soldiers to their various next ranks, as their reward for their courage to participate in the special course.

Meanwhile, the visiting Chief of South African Army (CSAA) Lt Gen. Lindile Yam in his remarks said Nigerian military has to be emulated for.

“I am delighted to note that the relationship has been started between the two Armies and to note to Lt Gen. Buratai on my visit to the Chief of Air Staff and Naval Staff on Tuesday, l marvel at the relationship between the 2 militaries on how it has grow multi fold and the results that it bears.

“The Chief of Army Staff visited me early this year and already, l have notice here now when the opening is being done here, I can remain affection, you just put your foot once and things happen.

And l notice that the change round of the strategy in technical of the Nigerian Army in dealing with the insurgency and especially Boko Haram that has informed that the green figure head in the headquarters on the things that I took for granted only intellectually discussing them and using a lot of English, you put a tomb on them and therefore l thank you a lot for bringing me here and honouring me and for putting the badges on your elites soldiers.” He said.



‘Lake Chad will no longer be Boko Haram safe haven’

September 5, 2018

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen.Tukur Yusuf Buratai, has said Boko Haram terrorists are not in control of any territory.

He noted that Lake Chad, which the terrorists have been using as hideout, will no longer be a safe haven for them.

Gen. Buratai spoke yesterday in Jaji, Kaduna State, at the graduation of 55 soldiers from Advanced Watermanship Course.

The Army chief, however, said the 55 soldiers would be included in the amphibious battalion, which will be established, to tackle insurgents in Lake Chad.

He said:  “You are aware of the ongoing event in the country, especially the security landscape between 2013 to mid-2015. I am referring to the situation in the Northeast. However, between mid-2015 till date, the insurgency and terrorist elements have suffered the highest degradation.

“They no longer control any territory, in particular in our sovereignty, and this is due to correct strategies, employment and disposition of the right force with the tremendous backing of President Muhammadu Buhari, as well as the goodwill of the people. “There is no gain saying that the focus of effective training adopted in the last three years has been the heart of our successes. It is pertinent to note that that lessons learnt from our counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations have guided our training and our operational planning.

“Earlier on during Operation Lafia Dole, it was evident that we needed to develop the mobile style capability. This informed the development of mobile bridge concept, which involves organising the troops into mobile strike teams.

“Today, you have witnessed the employment of mobile strike teams with the incision of troops in small team by air to conduct raids and the subsequent execration through the water body in small groups and parties.

“You will agree with me that what you have witnessed today is a clear demonstration of the Army’s ability to deal decisively with Boko Haram terrorists still lurking in the Lake Chad waters.

“”I assue you that with the level of motivation l have seen this afternoon from gallant troops, Lake Chad will no longer be a safe haven for the criminals.”

Full report at:



Algeria set to finally open world’s 3rd largest mosque built at a cost of $2 bln

4 September 2018

Algeria is set to finally open the Grand Mosque of Algiers, set to be third largest in the world, near the end of this year or closer to the beginning of 2019.

Mohammed Isa, the Algerian Minister of Religious Affairs and Endowments, announced the opening date adding that the mosque is located in the al-Mohammadiya area of Algiers and extends to an area of 200,000 square meters.

The anticipated mosque would make it the third largest of its kind in the world after the Two Holy Mosques in Saudi Arabia, with a minaret of 265 meters in height.

“The mosque with all its facilities, should be handed over by the end of December 2018. If not possible by then, it will be handed by a maximum deadline by the beginning of 2019,” Isa told reports at a press conference in Algiers.

Algeria has allocated nearly $2 bln to build the mosque on 25 hectares, which includes a 20,000 square meter praying hall which can hold a capacity of about 120,000 people.

The most will also have its own library which can host 6,000 people at a time. A Quran school will be part of the school with the hope of graduating imams and religion researchers.

The mosque’s minaret is nearly 265 meters in height with 43 floors. Each floor has a museum that documents a specific historical era of Islam.

There are three floors under the mosque including a car park with a capacity to hold 6,000 vehicles.

A specialized German company won the tender to design the mosque before it was urged to make important changes. At the beginning, initial plans included the construction of an elegant restaurant on one of the floors located on the mosque’s minaret but was quickly scrapped after an uproar from the public who considered the plan offensive.

Preparations for building the mosque first began in 2008 but was suspended several times due to conflicts between the Algerian officials and the German company. The company eventually quit the project and was replaced by a Chinese one. Considering the immensity of the project, its supervision had been changed from the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Endowments to the Ministry of Housing and Construction, which had given delayed competition dates several times in 2017 and 2018.

Full report at:



Berlin Conference on Boko Haram rakes in $2.52bn

September 4, 2018

The international donor conference on Boko Haram holding in Berlin on Monday pledged $2.52 billion to help countries in the Lake Chad Basin fight Boko Haram.

Germany’s foreign ministry said the aid would be disbursed “in the coming years” to Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon, where the jihadist group launched frequent suicide bomb attacks from its bases in Lake Chad.

The two-day conference, which is being attended by more than 70 states, international organisations and non-governmental organisations, raised $672 million in 2017.

Mark Lowcock, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator and Head, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, thanked donors for the generous donations.

Mr Lowcock said: “Your contribution at the Lake Chad Berlin conference will help us deliver life-saving humanitarian assistance throughout the Lake Chad Basin.

“This support is crucial to ensuring that life-saving assistance reaches all those in need.”

The conference focused on humanitarian assistance, civilian protection, crisis prevention and stabilisation for the region and sought to raise $1.56 billion while Lowcock had projected more than one billion dollars.

Donations and pledges by countries as monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) were Germany, the host country, 265 million Euros and Norway, 125 million dollars.

The others were United States, 420 million dollars; Switzerland, 20 million dollars; France, 131 million Euros; Belgium, 45 million Euros; Finland, 2.3 million Euros; and Denmark, 72.5 million.

NAN reports that United Kingdom donated 146 million pounds; Canada, CAD, 68 million dollars; European Union, 231.5 million Euros; Luxembourg – 40 million Euros and Spain, 3.2 million Euros.

Mr Lowcock said famine was averted in the region last year largely due to international aid, but that millions of people in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon were still in dire need of help.

The UN humanitarian chief, however, cautioned that “the crisis is not over. There are still 10 million people who need life-saving assistance.

“A quarter of the people we are trying to reach are displaced from their homes and the only means of staying alive they have is what is provided by humanitarian organisations.”

Achim Steiner, Head of UN Development Programme, warned that more people could flee the region unless the international community took action to help them for the long-term.

Ahead of the 2018 conference, about 10 non-governmental organisations active in the Lake Chad region, said 11 million people were in urgent need of humanitarian aid.

“The insurgency as well as military operations across the four countries has displaced 2.4 million people and left five million people facing food insecure while significantly reducing economic activity,” a statement signed by the NGOs said.

The conference will focus on humanitarian assistance, civilian protection, crisis prevention and stabilisation for the region as well as seek to raise funds for the humanitarian requirements totaling $1.56 billion.

The Nigeria’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN, Tijjani Bande, had shortly before the conference, appealed to all stakeholders to redouble their commitments to the Lake Chad Basin crisis.

Full report at:



Libya says death toll from Tripoli clashes climbs to 50

4 September 2018

The death toll from more than a week of fighting between armed groups in Tripoli has climbed to at least 50 people, including civilians, Libyan authorities said Tuesday, as the U.N. expressed alarm over the fate of detained migrants and Libyans already displaced by years of unrest.

Fighting erupted last week when the Seventh Brigade, militias which hail from Tarhouna, a town about 60 km south of Tripoli, attacked southern neighborhoods of the capital. The Tripoli Revolutionaries’ Brigades and the Nawasi Brigade - militias which support the U.N.-backed government - have come to the city’s defense.

In addition to those killed, another 138 people, including civilians, have been wounded, the Health Ministry said.

Libya slid into chaos after the 2011 uprising that overthrew long-ruling dictator Muammar Qaddafi and led to his death. The country is currently governed by rival authorities in Tripoli and the country’s east, each of which are backed by an array of militias. Other armed groups have carved out fiefdoms across the country, with many profiting from smuggling and extortion.

On Tuesday, a shell landed inside a former US Embassy compound in Tripoli, setting off a fire that ignited a fuel tank, an embassy official said. No one was wounded, and the fire did not reach the building itself, said the official, who was not authorized to brief media and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Full report at:



Why Jordan rejects a confederation with Palestine

September 04, 2018

JEDDAH: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told a group of Israeli lawmakers and activists on Sunday that US President Donald Trump’s negotiating team had asked whether he would agree to a confederation with neighboring Jordan.

According to Shaqued Morag, Peace Now’s executive director, who attended the meeting, Abbas said that he would agree to a trilateral confederation that includes Israel. Decades ago, Israeli officials mooted the notion of a confederation between the Palestinians and Jordan.

Such an announcement was received with anger from Jordanians and Palestinians, who insisted that there should be no talk on confederation before an independent Palestinian state was established with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Jumana Ghunaimat, spokesperson for the Jordanian government, said the idea of a confederation between Jordan and Palestine isn’t a subject for discussion. Jordan’s position is based on the proposed two-state solution and the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, she told the told the Ammon News agency.

Origin of the confederation plan

In 1950, elections were held in the two banks of Jordan won by 20 deputies from the East Bank and the same from the West Bank, and the Senate was formed in a fair representation. The National Assembly representing the two countries held an equal session on April 24, 1950, and unanimously approved the unity decision between the two shores on the basis of parliamentary rule.

It is noted here that the resolution was conditional. The second item states: “To affirm the preservation of all Arab rights in Palestine and to defend those rights by all legitimate means and to fill the right and not to prejudice the final settlement of its just cause within the scope of national aspirations, Arab defense and international justice.”

At the time, no Arab country recognized the unity between the two shores. The Arab League Council held a meeting and issued a decision on June 12, 1950, with a reservation on the unity decision.

The 1950s saw a political movement to form a Palestinian organization working to highlight the Palestinian national identity and establish an independent Palestinian national entity. This movement included all Palestinian factions and attracted ideologues in all directions.

In 1964, the Arab League selected Ahmad Al-Shukairy as the representative of Palestine. As a result, the first founding session of the Palestinian Conference was held in Jerusalem under the auspices of the late King Hussein of Jordan, in which the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was decided. The second Arab summit, held in Alexandria on Sept. 15, 1964, approved the establishment of the organization headed by Al-Shukairy with its headquarters in Jerusalem, and the Palestinian flag.

In 1967, the Six-Day War erupted between Israel and the Arab countries, ending with Israel occupying the West Bank and Sinai and the Golan Heights. The Arab states agreed to a cease-fire in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 242.

The war resulted in a wave of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who, fearing the Israeli gangs’ retaliation, left everything behind and escaped to Jordan.

The Arab leaders held a summit in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, in late August 1967 and decided no peace, recognition or negotiations, but the Arab states limited their commitment to ending the Israeli occupation and liberating the territories occupied in the Six-Day War.

Al-Shukairy rejected these decisions and resigned. This led to a period of time until the late Yasser Arafat, the head of Fatah, took command of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

By that time, the PLO had become the sole representative of the Palestinian people, despite Jordan’s insisting on the need for unity between Jordan and Palestine.

On March 15, 1972, King Hussein revealed his plan for a “United Arab Kingdom,” which would be a federation consisting of two federal districts — the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and a Palestinian federal district, which would be located in the West Bank region that was under Jordanian control between 1948 and 1967 and that would have East Jerusalem as its capital.

According to the proposal, the two districts of the federation would be autonomous, except for the military affairs, foreign affairs and security affairs that would be run by a central government located in Amman.

Nevertheless, King Hussein conditioned the establishment of the UAK in achieving a peace agreement between Israel and Jordan. His proposal was ruled out after it was rejected both by Israel and by the PLO and other Arab states.

Disengagement between the two banks

Jordan, meanwhile, continued to carry out its responsibilities in the West Bank without any change. However, this was not to the appeasement of the PLO, which saw this act as a challenge to its existence and to its recognized status by the Arab League as the sole caretaker of all Palestinian affairs.

At the Arab summit conference held in Rabat, the Moroccan capital, in 1974, King Hussein agreed with all the other Arab leaders to a declaration recognizing the PLO as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.” Consequently, all responsibility for negotiating the return of the occupied Palestinian lands was transferred from Jordan to the PLO. Jordan, however, continued its administrative and financial support to Palestinians in the West Bank.

The pressure continued to mount on Jordan, eventually leading King Hussein to make a decision. In an address to the nation on July 31, 1988, he made his historic announcement, which was one of the most important policy decisions in the era of modern Jordan: Full legal and administrative disengagement from the West Bank.

Full report at:



Hundreds of African migrants flee detention center in Tripoli chaos — aid official

September 04, 2018

TRIPOLI: Hundreds of African migrants escaped from a detention center in Tripoli on Tuesday as fighting between rival groups raged nearby, an aid official said, though the Libyan government department set up to combat illegal migration denied the report.

A video posted on social media on Tuesday purportedly showed hundreds of Africans, some carrying plastic bags, walking in a long line away from the detention center. It is located on the road to the former Tripoli International Airport, which was destroyed in a battle between rival militias in 2014.

Libya is a major departure point in North Africa for migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, mainly from other parts of Africa.

The aid official, who works for an international organization, said as many as 1,800 migrants might have escaped the facility on Tuesday. It was unclear where they had gone.

If confirmed, this would mean that almost a quarter of Libya’s jailed migrants, mostly Africans, are on the run. Most had been jailed after the Libyan coast guard intercepted their makeshift boats bound for Italy.

Fighting between rival Libyan groups lasting for more than one week has spread from the airport, located south of Tripoli, toward the city.

Tripoli is formally controlled by the internationally recognized Government of National Accord, but armed groups working with it act with autonomy. Eastern Libya is controlled by a rival administration.

Last Thursday UN agencies and authorities relocated hundreds of migrants from government-run detention centers in southern Tripoli to safer locations.

In a further sign of chaos, some 400 prisoners also escaped on Sunday from a jail in southern Tripoli, forcing open the doors as the guards retreated.

The United Nations mission called for a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the deteriorating security situation, but officials were not available to confirm that it was still going ahead.

Full report at:



Empower our Allies to Fight Terrorism in Africa

September 4, 2018

by Michael McCaul

Before September 11, 2001, very few people were concerned with what was happening inside Afghanistan. How could the internal dynamics of a poor country over seven thousand miles away have a direct impact on our lives? That question was answered when Al Qaeda struck our homeland and killed almost three thousand innocent people. In complete shock we wondered, “How could this happen?”

In the aftermath, it was clear that we needed to change our thinking toward weak states on the other side of the world. We could no longer allow them to become safe havens for international terrorists to plot and plan attacks.

In the last seventeen years, we have organized broad coalitions to fight terror groups and prevent future attacks from occurring. We captured 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and killed Osama Bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, among others.

More recently, we have been successful on the battlefield against ISIS. After establishing a so-called “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria, American-led forces have retaken much of the land once controlled by ISIS and forced them to splinter their operations.

Many of their fighters have escaped and are regrouping in Africa. They are looking to join other like-minded extremists who share the same goal: to establish a global community that adheres to their flawed interpretation of Islam, wreak havoc on local populations, and attack the West.

Today, it is estimated that ten thousand ISIS and Al Qaeda jihadists have already set up camp across the continent. This is in addition to Boko Haram, Al Shabab, and other extremist groups that have been fomenting violence and spreading terror for many years.

In early August, we commemorated the twentieth anniversary of the bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. These heinous attacks killed 224 people. The past is prologue, and if terror groups are left unchallenged, similar attacks could happen again. We need to address this threat right now.

However, this is not something America can or should do alone. We have been leading the charge against terrorism for decades. Our international allies need to step up. African nations are the ones who need to lead this fight. And we can strengthen their hand by passing bipartisan legislation that I have introduced to authorize the Tran-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP).

Through the TSCTP, the United States works alongside Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia to build their military and law enforcement capacity to conduct counterterrorism operations. This partnership also enhances the ability to: monitor, restrain, and interdict terrorist movements; and strengthen the rule of law.

My bill codifies this partnership and allows the TSCTP to confront the ever-growing threat of terrorism in Africa. Furthermore, the bill requires the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Defense Department to coordinate counterterrorism strategy with our African partners and deliver that strategy to Congress.

Boosting the counterterrorism capabilities of these and other countries to better fight terror threats must continue to be a strategic and long-term priority for the United States. By empowering these allies, we’ll narrow the number of places terrorists can survive and thrive.

The Pentagon is openly considering troop cuts and scaled back missions in Central and West Africa. Such cuts would make these partnerships even more vital. A strong and congressionally authorized TSCTP helps keep the pressure on terrorists with fewer Americans being sent into harm’s way.

At this moment, it may not seem like a terror group in the far reaches of Africa could threaten our homeland. But one of the greatest lessons we learned from 9/11 is that a failure of imagination prevented us from taking similar threats seriously. We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of our past. Terrorism anywhere is a threat to civilization everywhere.

On battlefields all across the world, America has shown the way. For the sake of international security and peace we have sacrificed greatly. My bipartisan legislation presents a new opportunity in this struggle for our African partners to take the lead.

Let’s incentivize and empower our allies to take this fight directly to our enemy before it’s too late.

Full report at:





Iran FM vows bids to drive terrorists out of Syria's Idlib with least humanitarian cost

Sep 4, 2018

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says efforts are underway to drive terrorists out of the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib with the least humanitarian cost.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, the Iranian minister said he held "very good" talks with senior Syrian authorities in Damascus.

Zarif paid a day-long visit to Damascus on Monday and held talks with the country's senior officials, including President Bashar al-Assad, Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem and Prime Minister Imad Khamis, as Syria is preparing for an operation to liberate Idlib Province, the last major militant stronghold.

Assad and Zarif said Western pressure on Tehran and Damascus will fail to deter them from fighting terrorism.

In their meeting, the two sides asserted that Western countries would not be able to deter Iran and Syria from defending their principles, the interests of the two nations, and the security and stability of the entire region.

Elsewhere in his Tuesday remarks, Zarif also pointed to his last week's talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Istanbul as well as a planned summit of Iranian, Russian and Turkish presidents in Tehran and said efforts would be continued to "prevent any damage to the Syrian people and complete the process of clearing extremists."

At the request of Damascus, Iran has been offering advisory military assistance to the Syrian army. Tehran says it will continue its anti-terror mission as long as the legitimate government in Damascus wants it to do so.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will host his Turkish and Russian counterparts Erdogan and Vladimir Putin, respectively, on Friday in an attempt to find ways to end the ongoing crisis in Syria.

The three presidents have previously held summits in the Russian resort city of Sochi in November 2017 and in the Turkish capital, Ankara, in April.

In response to a question about a claim made by US President Donald Trump that attacking militant-held Idlib would be a “humanitarian mistake” for Tehran and Moscow, Zarif said Trump seeks to take advantage of the situation in Idlib for his own foreign policy goals.

"Americans have not shown a good record of their fight against extremism and terrorism," the top Iranian diplomat pointed out.

Russia also on Tuesday strongly dismissed President Trump’s warning to Syria not to carry out a full-scale offensive against terrorists in Idlib, stressing that the northwestern region is a “nest of terrorism.”

"Just to speak out with some warnings, without taking into account the very dangerous, negative potential for the whole situation in Syria, is probably not a full, comprehensive approach,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said at a press conference in the capital Moscow.

Russia has also been providing air cover to Syrian army operations. It has also military advisors in the Arab country and runs a number of military bases there.

The Russian military has repeatedly reported that the US uses the areas under its control in Syria to provide support to Takfiri terrorists.

On the opposite front, the US – along with Israel and its other allies -- has been backing the militant groups fighting to topple the Assad government.



Israeli army gives ammunition, money to terrorists in Golan Heights

Sep 4, 2018

The Israeli army has admitted, for the first time, that it provided large amounts of cash, weapons and ammunition to foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorists operating in the occupied Golan Heights.

The Israeli ministry of military affairs admitted on Monday that the Tel Aviv regime as part of the so-called Operation Good Neighbor, which was launched in 2016, had been regularly supplying militants in Syria with light weapons in order to fight Syrian government troops, and a substantial amount of cash to buy additional arms.

Moreover, the Israeli military provided over 1,524 tons of food, 250 tons of clothes, 947,520 liters of fuel, 21 generators plus 24,900 palettes of medical equipment and medicine through the operation.

The Israeli regime is reportedly arming at least seven different terror groups in Syria’s Golan Heights, including the Fursan al-Joulan militant outfit. The group, which is aligned to the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) terrorist network has been given an estimated $5,000 per month by Israel.

On August 23, Syrian government forces have found a field hospital used by members of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, filled with Israeli-made medical equipment in the country’s strategic southwestern province of Quneitra.

Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that Syrian troopers made the discovery in the village of al-Rafid as they were carrying out clean-up operations in the area.

The report added that the hospital had modern CT scans, X-ray medical imaging machines, laboratory equipment and medications that were all foreign-made, particularly manufactured or produced in Israel.

Syrian army soldiers discovered a field hospital used by Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terrorists at the Quneitra Crossing and in close proximity to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on July 27.

It had an operating room with adequate Israeli-made medical devices, laboratory equipment and a warehouse where large quantities of Israeli- and Jordanian-made medicine were being kept.

There were also medical products manufactured by a number of Persian Gulf littoral states, particularly the United Arab Emirates, in the warehouse.

Syrian air defense systems intercept Israeli missiles

Meanwhile, Syrian air defense missile systems have intercepted and destroyed a number of Israeli missiles aimed at military sites in the country's western provinces of Hama and Tartous, forcing attacking military aircraft to leave the area.

Medical sources at Masyaf National Hospital said they had received the body of a civilian. Another 12 people were taken to the hospital with various degrees of injuries.

Full report at:



Tehran summit expected to seal fate of Syria's Idlib

September 05, 2018

The presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey meet Friday in Tehran for a summit expected to shape the future of Idlib province, home to Syria's last major rebel bastion.

The summit comes as Syrian forces look poised to launch a major assault that is raising fears of a humanitarian catastrophe on a scale not yet seen in the seven-year-old conflict.

Damascus and its main backer Moscow have vowed to root out the jihadist groups that dominate Idlib province but the outcome of Friday's meeting could determine the scope and the timing of an offensive.

"We know that the Syrian armed forces are getting ready to solve this problem," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

Seized from government forces in 2015, Idlib and adjacent areas form the last major chunk of Syrian territory still in rebel hands.

Turkey has limited sway over the jihadist groups that control an estimated 60 percent of Idlib but it backs rebel groups there and has 12 military "observation points" across the province.

Russia, Turkey and Iran are the guarantors of the Astana process, a track of negotiations that has eclipsed the older Geneva process and de facto helps Syrian President Bashar al-Assad re-assert his authority on the country.

In parallel to the Syrian government's military buildup, the recent weeks have seen intense diplomatic activity.

Al-Watan, a Syrian daily close to the government, wrote on Monday that the result of the talks will be presented in Tehran for the three powers "to endorse it and decide on the 'zero hour' for the Syrian army's military operation, which is expected to immediately follow the summit."

Idlib is a cul-de-sac for many rebels and civilians transferred there after previous regime assaults.

Inevitable assault?

The United Nations and aid groups have warned that a full assault could spark one of the worst disasters of a conflict that has already killed 350,000 people and displaced 11 million in seven years.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the armed groups in Idlib attacking Syrian government positions and Russia's air base in nearby Hmeimim should be eliminated.

At stake in Tehran is the scope of the offensive and Lavrov said Tuesday that efforts were being made to separate "regular armed oppositionists from terrorists".

The main target of an offensive would be the jihadist fighters from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadist alliance dominated by the former Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda.

Russia wants Turkey to use its influence on the ground in Idlib to rein in the rebels and the jihadists.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu appeared to suggest Monday there will still room for negotiation ahead of the summit and a promised offensive.

"We are continuing contacts before the summit and preparing it to make sure it yields a good outcome," he said.

The International Crisis Group insisted a devastating offensive in Idlib could and should still be averted, calling this week on all brokers to go back to negotiations.

It said Russia needed to be convinced that backing an all-out Syria offensive risked undermining its own long-term objectives, which include the "re-legitimation" of Assad and his regime.

The think tank said the three Astana guarantors should thrash out a plan that would satisfy some of Moscow's key demands.

Full report at:



Yemen foes head to peace talks as ‘ugly war’ rages

September 05, 2018

Yemen’s warring parties meet in Geneva Thursday for a new round of peace talks with little hope of a breakthrough in an “ugly war” between the Saudi-backed government and rebels linked to Iran.

They are the first public meetings between the government of Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and Yemen’s powerful Huthi rebels since 2016, when 108 days of negotiations in Kuwait failed to broker a power-sharing deal. But the chance of face-to-face sitdowns between Hadi’s delegation and the rebels in Geneva are slim to none, Yemeni foreign minister Khaled al-Yamani told AFP.

And while the two sides are backed by rival regional powers, their respective patrons will not be present in Geneva.

The talks, overseen by United Nations envoy Martin Griffiths, are aimed at charting a path towards reviving formal UN-backed negotiations. They will likely focus on a prisoner exchange deal and the fate of embattled Hodeida, the rebel-held port city at the frontline of the war.

Hanging in the balance is the fate of 22 million civilians, in a country where famine looms and a cholera epidemic is threatening a comeback.

Low bar

“This war has been and remains an ugly war,” said UAE minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash, whose country is the senior partner in the Saudi-led coalition backing Hadi’s government.

“We have seen civilians shot at, bombed, killed and unfortunately... this is part of any confrontation.”

Last month alone saw 66 children killed in air raids believed to have been conducted by the Saudi-led coalition. Both camps have been accused by the UN and rights groups of failing to protect civilians.

Last month, UN-backed experts said all the warring parties have committed a “substantial number of violations of international humanitarian law”, many potentially amounting to war crimes.

Diplomats and Yemeni officials have set a low bar for the Geneva meetings, the first attempt by Griffiths to bring the warring parties together. One US diplomat described them as “low key” with “low expectations”.

They “are really not intended to be talks or negotiations but consultations that demonstrate the capability of the UN to bring the sides together,” along with “confidence building measures”, the diplomat said.

Eye on Hodeida

All previous attempts to resolve the Yemen war have failed. Griffiths is the UN’s third Yemen envoy since 2014, when the Huthis overran the capital Sanaa and drove Hadi’s government into exile.

Hailing from the Muslim Zaidi minority, the Huthis had complained of marginalisation in Yemen long before the conflict erupted in 2014.

Riyadh and its allies joined the government’s fight against the rebels in 2015, but the Huthis have clung to northern and western Yemen. They regularly fire missiles at Saudi Arabia, which accuses its arch-rival Iran of providing the munitions.

In June, the UAE launched a major offensive to retake rebel-held Hodeida, the Red Sea city home to the country’s most valuable port.

Faced with escalating international criticism, the pro-government military alliance hit the brakes before reaching the densely-populated city. But UAE minister Gargash has said that “in order to shorten the war, pressure should be continued on Hodeida.”

“We are not willing to accept that there will be a strategic shift towards Iran’s favour by accepting also the Huthis’ domination of Yemen,” he said.

The Huthis have reportedly offered to let the UN supervise the port, but the government and its allies have refused anything short of a full rebel withdrawal from both city and port.

Arms sales

UN Security Council Resolution 2216 recognises Hadi as the president of Yemen, calling on the Huthis to withdraw from the capital and elsewhere and to hand in heavy weapons. The UN has also blacklisted the Saudi-led coalition for the killing and maiming of children.

The Saudi-led coalition has admitted to “mistakes” in an August 9 strike on a crowded marketplace in rebel-held Yemen that killed 51 people, according to the Red Cross.

International rights groups have frequently criticised the inaction of Washington, London and Paris against Saudi Arabia, a strategic ally and key arms customer for all three.

Full report at:



Iranian army experts, Hezbollah fighters killed in battle with Yemeni army

4 September 2018

A number of Houthi leaders, Iranian experts, and Hezbollah fighters have been killed during battles in the last two days against the Yemeni army in the Marran district in Saada, according to a Yemeni military source.

Marran has been the site of serious battles for a week amid an operation launched by the Yemeni army against the Houthi militia.

Informed sources said that militia leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi had urgently called upon a number of frontline seniors to Marran, to defend the area.

Dozens of Houthi militias were killed at the Marran frontline in recent days.

A military leader said that the Yemeni army pledged to regain military control over the area, in which the Houthi leader resides, very soon.

The importance of Marran

Marran is located in Haydan district, south west of Saada governorate, and it is significant because:

-        It is the place in which Abdelmalik al-Houthi resides and leads operations.

-        It’s where Hussein al-Houthi, founder of the group, was killed in 2004.

-        Its mountains serve as a key hiding place for Houthi leaders.

Full report at:



Erdogan warns against missile strikes during upcoming Idlib liberation operation

Sep 5, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned against missile strikes during an upcoming military campaign by the Syrian army to liberate Idlib Province, the last major militant stronghold in the Arab country.

Erdogan told reporters on Wednesday that a possible large-scale action in Idlib would lead to a new wave of refugees toward Turkey.

“The situation in Idlib is crucial for Turkey. A ruthless process has been going on there. ... God forbid, if this area is hailed by missiles there would be a serious massacre,” Erdogan was quoted as saying by Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News.

With the help of Iran, Russia and Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement, the Syrian army is preparing for the Idlib operation, a strategically-important region which shares a border with Turkey and is also close to the coastal Latakia Province.

Idlib also hosts Turkish-backed militants fighting agtainst the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Erdogan stressed that a positive outcome is expected from the upcoming Syria summit.

“We will carry this issue to a positive point with the Tehran summit, which is a continuation of Astana," he said.

The presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey, the countries acting as the guarantors of the ceasefire in Syria, will meet in Tehran on Friday for a third summit seeking an end to the crisis gripping the Arab country.

‘Manbij road map not going forward’

Additionally, the Turkish president touched on the situation in Syria’s northern city of Manbij, complaining that a recently-agreed road map between Ankara and Washington on the situation of the city, which is controlled by US-backed Kurdish militants, is not proceeding as agreed.

“We are not at an ideal point (about Manbij). Unfortunately the agreement made is not going forward in the same direction as the initial discussions,” he said.

Back in June, Turkey and the US agreed a plan on joint patrols in Manbij to clear the area of Washington-backed Kurdish militants, which Turkey views as terrorists linked to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party militant group.

In a relevant development on Tuesday, Syria's Reconciliation Minister Ali Haidar emphasized that the country's Kurdish-held northeast will not be given special treatment and will be dealt with in the same way as other parts of the war-torn state.

“We cannot give any Syrian province something which differentiates it from other provinces or ethnicities, or (allow it) any situation which strikes at the idea that Syria is one country and one society,” he said in an interview with Russia’s Arabic-language Sputnik news agency.

With the Syrian government focused on crushing foreign-backed militants and Takfiri terrorists, Kurdish militants carved out a de facto autonomous region in the country's north and northeast which was later occupied by US troops, raising fears that they might be aiming to partition the country.

The developments have raised serious concerns in Ankara and turned into a source of tensions between Turkey and the US, its NATO ally.

The Damascus government now controls more than two-thirds of Syria and is determined to reassert its authority over Kurdish-controlled regions.

“The solution to the problem now is for the Kurdish groups dealing with America to turn their backs on this and turn to the Syrian state,” Haidar added.

‘Turkey follows rule of law on pastor case’

Furthermore, the Turkish president referred to the case of detained American pastor Andrew Brunson and said that Ankara cannot fulfill “unlawful requests” be the US regarding the issue.

Erdogan noted that Turkey followed the rule of law and that Washington would not be able to make progress in the case by using threats.

The two sides are entangled in a dispute over Ankara’s imprisonment of the evangelical Christian pastor. He has been accused of having links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Gulen movement, which Turkey blames for the 2016 failed military coup.

Full report at:



Tel Aviv carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria in last two years, Israel admits

Sep 5, 2018

A senior Israeli official says the Tel Aviv regime has launched hundreds of strikes against various targets inside conflict-plagued Syria in the last two years.

“Only just now it was published -- in the name of military sources, so I can quote it too -- that in the last two years Israel has taken military action more than 200 times within Syria itself,” Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz told a conference hosted by the IDC Herzliya college on Tuesday.

Katz claimed that most of the targets belonged to Iran, adding, “Understand the significance of this matter in terms of preserving the red line, preventing the things that Iran has done, is doing and is trying to do against Israel from Syria.”

Israel began carrying out military strikes in Syria in 2013.

Damascus and Tehran have repeatedly rejected Israeli claims that Iran has military bases in Syria. Iran has been offering military advisory support to Syria at the request of the Damascus government, enabling its army to speed up its gains on various fronts against terror outfits.

Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami was in Damascus last week and signed an agreement on defense and technical cooperation designed to ensure the continued presence and participation of Iran in Syria's reconstruction.

In a meeting with his Syrian counterpart, General Ali Abdullah Ayyoub, in Damascus on August 26, Hatami warned of extra-regional countries' plots to sow discord in Syria and vowed the Islamic Republic's full support for the war-ravaged country in a bid to preserve its territorial integrity and improve its stability.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Muallem in a meeting in Damascus on Monday that the Islamic Republic will continue to support Syria in its fight against terrorist groups.

The top Iranian and Syrian diplomats also discussed regional issues and the latest developments in Syria, including the return of displaced people to their homeland.

Muallem hailed Iran's support for his country in the battle against terrorist groups and called on Tehran to continue its cooperation with Damascus in this regard.

Full report at:



Yemeni army, allies hit Saudi Aramco oil facilities in Jizan border region

Sep 4, 2018

Yemeni army forces, supported by allied fighters from Popular Committees, have fired four domestically-designed and -developed ballistic missiles at a strategic economic target in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern border region of Jizan in retaliation for the Riyadh regime’s devastating military aggression against their impoverished country.

A Yemeni military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Arabic-language al-Masirah television network that the short-range Badr-1 missiles struck an oil refinery of the Saudi Arabian national petroleum and natural gas company, Aramco, as well as petrochemical plants at Jazan Economic City, located 967 kilometers southwest of the capital Riyadh, with great precision, on Tuesday evening.

The report added that the sound of massive explosions could be heard in different parts of Jizan city.

Earlier in the day, Yemeni troopers and their allies destroyed an armored vehicle belonging to Saudi-sponsored militiamen loyal to former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi north of al-Durayhimi district in the country’s strategic western province of Hudaydah, when they fired a missile at the car.

Scores of Saudi mercenaries were killed and injured in the attack.

Separately, Yemeni soldiers and Popular Committees fighters detonated an improvised explosive device close to al-Tawal border crossing, which links Yemen’s northwestern province of Hajjah to Saudi Arabia’s Jizan region, killing and injuring several Saudi-backed militiamen.

Moreover, an unnamed Yemeni military official said sharpshooters have fatally shot five Saudi troopers as well as ten Saudi mercenaries in various military camps across Jizan over the past few days.

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

Some 15,000 Yemenis have been killed and thousands more injured since the onset of the Saudi-led aggression.

Full report at:




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