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Islamic World News ( 15 Oct 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Munir Mengal of Baloch Voice Association at UN: First Lesson in Pakistan Schools - Hindus Are Kafirs, Jews Enemies of Islam


New Age Islam News Bureau

16 October 2020

 

President of the Paris-based NGO Baloch Voice Association, Munir Mengal

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• Pakistan Based Terror Groups Trying to Re-Energize Groups from the Days of the Afghan Jihad and Figure out New Ways Of Targeting India

• Boycott Tanishq Continues: From Actors, TV Personalities to Writers Share Personal Interfaith Stories

• US: Biden Vows Muslims' Inclusion in Administration

• Saudi Arabia Has Envisioned Normalization with Israel but We Also Need to Have a Palestinian

• UN Rights Chief Slams Death Penalty for Rapists in Bangladesh

• Bangladesh: Five Sentenced To Death under New Rape Law

• Israel’s Parliament Passes UAE Agreement, Bringing Peace Deal into Full Effect

• 'Al Shabaab Presents a Future Threat To America' Says AFRICOM After Trump Somalia Plans Made Public

 

Pakistan

• Munir Mengal of Baloch Voice Association at UN: First Lesson in Pakistan Schools - Hindus Are Kafirs, Jews Enemies of Islam

• Over 450 Pakistan Opposition workers booked ahead of anti-government rally

• Pakistan officials: Terrorists ambush oil convoy, killing 15

• Pakistan becomes 'second Muslim country' to manufacture heart stents

• Pakistan: 20 security personnel killed in terror attacks

• 20 security personnel martyred in two attacks

• Govt blocked routes to Gujranwala rally: Marriyum Aurangzeb

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India

• Pakistan Based Terror Groups Trying to Re-Energize Groups from the Days of the Afghan Jihad and Figure out New Ways Of Targeting India

• Boycott Tanishq Continues: From Actors, TV Personalities to Writers Share Personal Interfaith Stories

• Kerala Gold Smuggling: Nothing in Case Diary to Substantiate Terror Funding, Says NIA Court

• J&K: Pakistan violates ceasefire in Poonch's Mankote sector

• In Farooq’s courtyard, Gupkar reunion sets J&K spl status as goal

• Pakistan opens heavy fire along LoC in Poonch

• 133 Indian nationals to come back from Pakistan on October 19

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North America

• US: Biden Vows Muslims' Inclusion in Administration

• US: Supporters of Azerbaijan protest attacks by Armenia

• US, Taliban agree on‘re-set’ amid violence uptick

• UN again urges Israel to halt all settlement activities

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Arab world

• Saudi Arabia Has Envisioned Normalization with Israel but We Also Need to Have a Palestinian State and a Palestinian-Israeli Peace Plan: Prince Faisal bin Farhan

• UAE, Israel Reach Agreement on Double Taxation Avoidance To Encourage Investment

• Top Saudi court hands down jail terms to two political opponents

• Iraqi anti-terror groups’ truce with US short-term, depends on troop withdrawal: Legislator

• US-backed SDF forces set free 100s of Daesh terrorists in Syria’s Hasakah

• 900 Syrian ISIS Suspects Referred to Court in East Euphrates

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Europe

• UN Rights Chief Slams Death Penalty for Rapists in Bangladesh

• Italy Starts Issuing Work Visa for Pakistanis

• EU, UK impose sanctions on six Putin aides over Navalny poisoning, Libya meddling

• Nagorno-Karabakh military death toll rises to 604 since September

• 30% of UK terror plots disrupted by MI5 were far right, says security chief

• Man Who Attacked Paris Police Officer Sentenced to 28 Years

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South Asia

• Bangladesh: Five Sentenced To Death under New Rape Law

• Taliban Claim Female Commander Kaftar Joined their Group in Baghlan Along With Her Armed Followers

• Taliban Offensive In Helmand Threatens U.S., Afghan Peace Efforts

• NATO Urges Taliban to Keep ‘Promises and Reduce’ Violence in Afghanistan

• Officials Foil Attempted Blast in Kabul

• Zabul Car Bomb Wounds 6 ANP members

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Mideast

• Israel’s Parliament Passes UAE Agreement, Bringing Peace Deal into Full Effect

• Israel approves over 12,000 West Bank settler units since Jan., sets new record high: Watchdog

• Israel demolishes EU-funded Palestinian school in occupied West Bank

• Spokesman Raps Trump for Using Iran as "Campaign Cudgel"

• Official: Iran Welcomes Azerbaijan's Proposal to Play Bolder Role in Regional Peace

• Head of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation to Visit Iran

• Hackers launch large-scale attack on key Iranian institutions: Official

• Yemen’s warring sides start swap of over 1,000 prisoners

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Africa

• 'Al Shabaab Presents a Future Threat To America' Says AFRICOM After Trump Somalia Plans Made Public

• Al-Shabab terrorists kill over dozen army troops in Somalia: Military

• Last of 21 Christians martyred by ISIS in Libya finally laid to rest after 5 years

• Somalia: Somali Intelligence Agency Seize 79 Tons of Bomb-Making Sulphuric Acid

• Mozambique: Alleged Terrorist Recruiter Released

• Haftar’s militia fires 4 rockets at Libyan army

• UN signs new cooperation agreement with Somalia

• UN: Libyan delegations agree to end transitional period

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Southeast Asia

• Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim Faces Police Probe over Bid to Become PM

• Dr Mahathir says Malaysia’s political uncertainty won’t end with Anwar as PM

• Perak Islamic Dept limits mosque, surau congregation in Pengkalan Hulu

• PAS urges ruling coalition allies to maintain support for PM Muhyiddin

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/munir-mengal-of-baloch-voice-association-at-un-first-lesson-in-pakistan-schools--hindus-are-kafirs-jews-enemies-of-islam/d/123164

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 Munir Mengal of Baloch Voice Association at UN: First Lesson in Pakistan Schools - Hindus Are Kafirs, Jews Enemies of Islam

Oct 16, 2020

 

President of the Paris-based NGO Baloch Voice Association, Munir Mengal

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 NEW DELHI: As a political analyst, researcher and president of the Paris-based NGO Baloch Voice Association, Munir Mengal has been lobbying for the rights of Baloch people for several years now.

The activist in him never misses an opportunity to speak his heart out at a world forum to expose the gross human rights violations perpetrated by the Pakistani government and military in Balochistan. Yesterday, at United Nations Geneva-in the meeting of the 18th Session of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action-the Baloch representative told the Working Group about how schools in Pakistan are feeding anti-Hindu hatred and also hostility against the Jews.

"Mr. Chairperson, I used to go to school in a very high-standard, state-run Army school called the Cadet College. The first lesson taught to us was that Hindus are kafirs (a pejorative and derogatory term usually used for non-Muslims), Jews are enemies of Islam, and both are liable to death for no other reason. Even today the same is the first, most important and basic message from uniformed Army teachers which is that we have to respect guns and bombs because we have to use these against Hindu mothers to kill them otherwise they will give birth to a Hindu child," Mengal said in his speech.

"This sort of hatred is being taught in Pakistani schools, madrasas at every level even today. And all this is a basic part of the education syllabus. Religious fanatic groups and terrorist organisations have been declared and announced as state strategic assets," he stressed further.

That most of the madrasas in Pakistan no longer teach sacred laws or other Islamic subjects and are instead busy churning out extremists is known to the entire world. State- and military-run schools, as revealed by Mengal, too have been running the well-funded, sophisticated propaganda for decades with teachers educated at madrasas radicalizing the next generation gradually. A few months ago, the Punjab province had declared that no university will award a degree unless a student has attended the required 'Quran with translation' classes.

Any student or teacher who tries to protest or express his opinion is accused of committing blasphemy. Last year, a Pakistani court sentenced the 33-year-old university lecturer Junaid Hafeez to death for blasphemy. A Fulbright scholar, Hafeez was arrested in March 2013 and accused of posting liberal comments on social media. His lawyer was shot dead a year after his arrest. The Pakistani establishment is doing anything and everything to achieve its vicious objectives.

"Blasphemy law is being used systematically to punish the highly vulnerable sects of the societies, particularly religious minorities, and is being used as a high tool for discrimination. Labeling someone with blasphemy, punishing the whole community, and extra-judicially killing the alleged person, killing of any one who spoke out against the misuse of Blasphemy law, are considered as acts of heroism in Pakistan," Mengal told the UN Working Group.

He explained in detail how Pakistan is "systematically" eliminating the original identities of its minorities, including the Baloch community.

"Just analyze what tools the state is using: books are barred in Balochistan. Reading and writing in mother tongue is barred. Anyone who practices his culture and belief is called a traitor. It means denying them humanity and suffocating the society. Right to education, right to health facilities, economic and job rights are far from thought. In such cases, judiciary becomes irrelevant and impunity prevails in every aspect of life," he said.

The 'Pakistan-occupied Balochistan' has already seen enough death and destruction over the past two decades. But there is more torture in store for the Balochs with China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) inflicting unrepairable damage in the region, both materially and emotionally. The locals have labeled such 'game changer' projects as tactics to gain strategic depth, dominate and ultimately eliminate communities already reeling from the state-sponsored atrocities.

"In reality this (CPEC) is a high sign of neo-colonization and expansionism. It is being done without the consent of local people. A large number has been displaced forcibly. There are no jobs for local Baloch people, even no drinking water. However, you can see unimaginable facilities for the Chinese people. Just imagine the current population of Gwadar is 80,000 and under CPEC there are plans to bring at least 500,000 Chinese people. This sort of altering demography means completely eliminating the Baloch race from that area," elaborated Mengal while urging the United Nations to hold Pakistan accountable for the bloodbath of minorities in the mineral-rich area.

But how would the UN act? Or, let's put it this way: Is the organization really willing to act? It has just given Pakistan more power to continue with its hate campaigns and genocidal operations from Gilgit to Gwadar by re-electing it to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) earlier this week. Much of the world is still in disbelief.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/first-lesson-in-pakistan-schools-hindus-are-kafirs-jews-enemies-of-islam/articleshow/78696808.cms

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Pakistan Based Terror Groups Trying To Re-Energize Groups from the Days of the Afghan Jihad and Figure out New Ways Of Targeting India

Shishir Gupta

Oct 16, 2020

 

FATF’s meet on Oct 21-23 will decide whether Pak remains in the “Grey List” due to inaction on part of Imran Khan govt on proscribed terror groups and in curbing money laundering activities or be removed from it on the basis of facile action taken to escape the economic guillotine.(Facebook/ImranKhanOfficial)

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A detailed intelligence assessment whose contents have been accessed with Hindustan Times shows that all is not quiet on India’s western (and north-western) fronts with Pakistan based terror groups trying to re-energize groups from the days of the Afghan jihad, create new fronts, and figure out new ways of targeting India.

It also shows that the terror groups are especially targeting the Sialkot-Shakargarh and Bhimber-Samahni sectors, with the Pakistani establishment supporting them with drone drops of weapons across the border, and boosting signals of mobile towers along the Line of Control to facilitate communication.

Pakistan-based terror groups have changed tactics by shifting the military (askari) training camps to the Af-Pak region, with their existing camps having been turned into religious indoctrination centres, adds the assessment – which, coming ahead of the crucial Paris Plenary of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), suggests that Pakistan is trying to window dress its adherence to the anti-terror-financing strictures of the body.

FATF’s meeting on Oct 21-23 will decide whether Pakistan remains in the “Grey List” due to inaction on part of Imran Khan government on proscribed terror groups and in curbing money laundering activities or be removed from it on the basis of facile action taken to escape the economic guillotine. The grey list (referred to as jurisdictions under increased monitoring by FATF) comprises countries whose systems aren’t strong enough to prevent money laundering or terror financing, but which have promised to work on addressing these issues.

According to the assessment, prepared by India’s national security planners, the change in strategy on part of the Pak-based groups, particularly the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) to shift terror training to camps around the Durand Line could also be aimed at operating in collusion with Afghanistan based Taliban and Haqqani Network (HN) groups following the signing of the US-Taliban-Afghan peace accord. The leader of HN is proscribed terrorist Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is also the deputy leader of Taliban with control over Nangarhar and a strong presence in Kabul. He has a $5 million bounty on his head.

Other intelligence reports that corroborate this, suggest that while the Muridke- based LeT has been asked by the Pakistani deep state to maintain a low profile ahead of the Paris meeting, there has been no let-up in the terror activities of the Bahawalpur-based JeM with India being the primary target. The JeM has been infiltrating its cadre into Jammu and Kashmir on the one hand while planning joint terror strikes with its fellow Deobandi-ideologue, the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“The JeM has intensified its focus on Sialkot-Shakargarh and Bhimber-Samani sectors in Jammu in order to rachet up violence in the union territory,” said a senior counter-terrorism official who asked not to be named. The Sailkot-Shakargarh sector is a so-called chicken-neck area, and it, as well as the Bhimber-Samani sector are strategically important from the perspective of Indian defence. Not surprisingly, both routinely witness cross-border firing.

While the LeT is now being handled by 26/11 main accused Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Hafiz Saeed’s son Talha, JeM is a full-fledged Masoor Azhar family enterprise with his brother Mufti Rauf Asghar acting on behalf of the ailing Azhar, and other siblings including Maulana Ammar and Azhar Ibrahim working in tandem.

Apart from the two main terror outfits, the Pakistani deep state, upset with the international community for ignoring the August 5, 2019 abrogation of article 370 by the Modi government, is trying to re-energize groups active during the days of the Afghan jihad, and also create new fronts, which will also help it spin a narrative of home grown terrorism in the valley.

According to the intelligence assessment, the task of resurrecting the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen has been given to a serving colonel of Pakistan military intelligence with support from HUM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil with the objective of shifting the focus from Afghanistan to J&K. Khalil currently resides in outskirts of Islamabad and runs a chain of madrassas known as Jamia Khalid bin-Al-Waleed in Pakistan. He has an umbilical jihadi chord with the Taliban and HN from the 1990s. In this context, Occupied Kashmir resident Maulana Mohammed Sajjad Shahid Kashmiri has been appointed the head of Tehreek-e-Millat-e-Islamiya (TMI), the Jammu and Kashmir chapter of the revived HuM.

Intelligence inputs suggest that Pakistani deep state is also trying to revive the 313 brigade, a 2008 splinter group from Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), which is much closer to Al Qaida than any Kashmiri terror group. Founded by Illyas Kashmiri, the handler of both Daniel Pearl murderer Omar Sheikh and 26/11 conspirator David Headley, the 313 brigade is currently being used by former LeT operatives Huzaifa Bhai, Obaid-ur-Rehmani Barlas Kashmiri and Sumama Bhai to recruit cadre in the valley through cyber platforms. The group is also promoting Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind (AGuH) after the elimination of Zakir Musa and Hamid Lehari by Indian security forces last year. Illyas Kashmiri was killed in a US drone strike in 2011.

Over the past two years , J&K has witnessed a spurt of new terror outfits such as “The Resistance Front”, TMI, AGuH and J&K Ghaznavi Force, all created to propagate the Pakistani narrative that terrorism in the union territory is indigenous and home grown. According to Indian counter terror experts, these outfits have been created out of LeT, HuM, HuJI members who underwent terror training in Pakistan but were not active on account of having been arrested, exposed or released after serving jail sentences in India.

In order to facilitate infiltration as well as provide secure communications to terrorists, Rawalpindi GHQ has resorted to aligning mobile communication towers along the Line of Control (LoC) to ensure the signal spills into Indian territory. Not only this, the signal strengths of two radio base stations at Pandu and Thub in Occupied Kashmir have been enhanced so as to reach audiences from Buglanaar up north and Samba down south across the LoC.

The Rawalpindi-based promoters of Pak terror groups are now exploring new technology to not only transport arms, explosives and ammunition through Chinese made drones from across the LoC but also the use of explosive-laden drones to carry out attacks on Indian targets. It is for this reason that India recently tested anti-drone technology on the LoC and international border. The country is also working on an indigenous laser based anti-drone system.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/imran-khan-window-dresses-pak-record-on-terror-gets-groups-to-change-tactics/story-FZMcF0vMuPobXmLPx6vppL.html

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Boycott Tanishq Continues: From Actors, TV Personalities To Writers Share Personal Interfaith Stories

October 16, 2020

 

Actor Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub's wife Rasika Agashe recently shared a glimpse of her baby shower ceremony amid the Tanishq ad controversy. (Source: mohdzeeshanayyub/Instagram, Anubha Bhosle/Twitter)

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As #BoycottTanishq continues to trend on social media after the jewellery brand released an advertisement, many people — from actors, TV personalities to writers — have come forward to speak in its support, with many sharing instances of interfaith marriages in their family, amid allegations against the ad for promoting ‘love jihad’.

Actor Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub’s wife Rasika Agashe recently shared a glimpse of her baby shower ceremony and captioned it, “Meri Gobharai…Socha Share Kar Dun…(My baby shower…thought let me share it)…and before crying out love jihad, let’s learn about special marriage act”.

Writer Mrinal Pande wrote, “My daughter married an Indian Muslim in USA, neither converted. Both mothers flew there when our first grandchild arrived. Together we cooked cleaned, entertained family/friends. At night groaning Ya Allah and He Ram, giggled and slept on hard mattresses.”

TV personality Tehseen Poonawalla spoke about his own interfaith family in a tweet.

Vir Das also took to Twitter to call out those who demanded the ad be taken off air. “Whatever your faith…If your faith is so rattled by ads, jokes, books, movies and art….it’s not that strong. If you need the whole world to feel the same way you do…you’re the one lacking conviction,” he wrote.

Some other people also shared stories from their interfaith weddings.

Meanwhile, The Advertising Club issued a statement, condemning the “threatening and targetting of Tanishq and its employees”. Here’s the full statement:

Besides, Divya Dutta, who lent her voice to the ad, also lamented the ongoing backlash, suggesting that the ad was about promoting brotherhood.

What is your take on this commercial?

https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/life-style/tanishq-ad-interfaith-events-hindu-muslim-families-twitter-6737419/

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US: Biden vows Muslims' inclusion in administration

Ovunc Kutlu  

15.10.2020

US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden vowed Muslims would be included in every social and political aspect in his administration, as well as to repeal President Donald Trump's so-called "Muslim ban" if elected.

"As President, I'll work with you to rip the poison of hate from our society, to honor your contributions and seek your ideas," Biden said in a video message to civil rights organization Muslim Advocates.

"My administration will look like America, with Muslim Americans serving at every level," he said.

The former vice president also promised to repeal Trump's so-called "Muslim ban," on his first day at the White House if he is elected.

President Trump had imposed a travel ban on several Muslim majority countries through a series of executive orders he signed from January through March of 2017, which were referred to as "Muslim Ban."

During his campaign in December 2015, Trump had also called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the US," immediately after shootings in San Bernardino, California allegedly carried out by a couple, one of which was a Pakistani female.

Biden also promised to push lawmakers and the government for legislation to fight hate crimes in the US.

"Instead of healing, we are being ripped apart, and I refuse to let that happen. We have too bright a future to leave it shipwrecked on the shores of anger and division," he said.

Biden's campaign page dedicated to Muslims promise to order the US Department of Justice to focus additional resources to combat religion-based hate crimes.

"Muslim-Americans are a diverse, vibrant part of the United States, making invaluable cultural and economic contributions to communities all across the nation. But they also face real challenges and threats in our society, including racially-motivated violence and Islamophobia," it says.

Biden also aims to invest in Muslim-Americans' economic mobility by increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, strengthening public and private sector unions and addressing the pay gap.

Democratic nominee also calls himself a staunch ally of Israel and defends unconditional US support to the Middle Eastern country despite flagrant human rights violations against Palestinians and ongoing illegal settlements in the West Bank territory.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-biden-vows-muslims-inclusion-in-administration/2007219

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Saudi Arabia Has Envisioned Normalization with Israel but We Also Need to Have a Palestinian

Joseph Haboush

15 October 2020

Saudi Arabia has always envisioned that normalization with Israel would happen, but the current focus should be on bringing Palestinians and Israelis back to the negotiating table, Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said Thursday.

“We have always envisioned that normalization [with Israel] would happen, but we also need to have a Palestinian state and a Palestinian-Israeli peace plan,” the Saudi FM said.

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

“In the end, the only thing that can deliver lasting peace and lasting stability is an agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis,” Prince Faisal said during a webinar with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The process of peace is a strategic necessity to the region, he said.

Asked if the recent peace deal signed between the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain with Israel helped the process, Prince Faisal said it “does help lay the groundwork” to get the Palestinians and Israelis back to the negotiating table.

Prince Faisal said getting Israel to take “annexation off the table for the time being” was one of the positives of the Abraham Accords.

But he added that more work was needed. “The important thing is to get them on the table.”

Iran

Prince Faisal lashed out at Iran for “openly focusing” on supporting terrorist groups.

Saudi Arabia’s partnership with the United States is critical to counter Iran’s malign behavior and to ensure Tehran will never have a nuclear bomb, he said.

Despite Iran’s continued support for militias and proxies across the region, including Yemen’s Houthis and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia does not want a military confrontation.

“We don’t want a military confrontation between the US and Iran or [between] us and Iran. It’s Iran that seeks confrontation,” Prince Faisal said.

The maximum-pressure campaign on Iran is working, he said, adding: “We want pressure that leads to talks.”

The path for peace is open, the Saudi FM said. “They just need to take it.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2020/10/15/Focus-should-be-on-bringing-Palestinians-Israelis-back-to-table-Prince-Faisal

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UN rights chief slams death penalty for rapists in Bangladesh

16 Oct 2020

GENEVA: Sentencing rapists to death, as Bangladesh did on Thursday, is not an appropriate punishment even for such a heinous crime, the UN rights chief said.

“Tempting as it may be to impose draconian punishments on those who carry out such monstrous acts, we must not allow ourselves to commit further violations,” Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.

Her comment came after a Bangladesh court sentenced five men to death for the 2012 gang-rape of a 15-year-old girl.

Bachelet cited the law change in Bangladesh, but also calls in a number of other countries to impose the death penalty for rape.

She highlighted calls in Pakistan for public hanging and a law introduced in the north-western Nigerian state of Kaduna last month imposing surgical castration followed by execution in rape cases where the victim is under 14.

“The main argument being made for the death penalty is for it to deter rape _ but in fact there is no evidence that the death penalty deters crime more than other forms of punishment,” Bachelet said.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1585344/un-rights-chief-slams-death-penalty-for-rapists-in-bangladesh

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Bangladesh: Five Sentenced To Death under New Rape Law

Md. Kamruzzaman  

15.10.2020

DHAKA, Bangladesh

A Bangladeshi court issued the death penalty for the first time to five convicts in a rape case after the country amended the law to include a death provision, according to official sources.

“Five convicts who gang-raped a madrasa girl have been awarded capital punishment two days after the amendment of rape law,” Md. Rashidul Islam, chief of the local police station told Anadolu Agency.

He said whether the verdict was declared under the amended law or any previous law is not clear. “But this verdict issued after the enactment of the death penalty in rape cases will set an example for all offenders before committing any such heinous crime.”

Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal judge Khaleda Yasmin handed down the verdict to Sagor Chandra Sheel, Gopi Chandra Sheel, Sanjit Chandra Moni Rishi, Sujon Moni Rishi and Rajon Chandra.

Court documents said the victim was confined to a house Jan. 17, 2012 and the perpetrators gang-raped the girl during the night.

Her parents rescued her the following morning and filed a case with police under the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act.

President Abdul Hamid signed an ordinance Tuesday amending the Act to include the death penalty for perpetrators of rape along with the existing highest punishment of a life-term with rigorous imprisonment.

Human rights activists and experts have asked the government to ensure proper investigations and fair trials instead of inserting the death penalty.

Several activists and experts warned Anadolu Agency of the misuse of the amended law and further endangering the lives of victims as “a tendency of murdering the raped might be grown among the rapists to erase the evidence.”

Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet urged governments Thursday to redouble efforts to prevent rape and other forms of sexual violence and “improve access to justice and reparations for victims, and ensure prompt criminal investigations and prosecutions of perpetrators.”

She characterized the death penalty as “cruel” and “inhuman punishment” and emphasized preventive measures to curb sexual assaults.

Amnesty International also said the punishment is not the real solution to violence against women in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh’s Law Minister Anisul Haq, however, told Anadolu Agency he is hopeful about notably controlling inhuman rape offenses as the government is going to adopt other necessary measures, including “speedy and fair trial” and “proper investigation without any political or other interferences.”

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/bangladesh-5-sentenced-to-death-under-new-rape-law/2007888

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Israel’s parliament passes UAE agreement, bringing peace deal into full effect

Emily Judd

15 October 2020

Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, ratified the country’s peace agreement with the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, bringing into full effect the normalization announced two months ago.

The parliamentary approval follows Israel’s cabinet - under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - officially approving the deal on Monday.

Israeli parliament member Michal Cotler-Wunsh said the historic moment has the “potential to be the beginning of the end to the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

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

“Recognition enables negotiation which enables peace,” Cotler-Wunsh said in an interview with Al Arabiya English.

“I hope the agreement deepens the relationship between the two countries, and hope it has a trickledown effect on the whole region,” she added.

Israeli Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata told Al Arabiya English that she considers it an honor to be an elected official during a period when historical agreements are taking place.

“I am full of hope that we will be able to lead to further agreements and accomplishments in order to strengthen regional security and stability in the Middle East as a whole.”

The vote was not unanimous – the Arab-led Joint List faction announced earlier in the day that they would vote against the agreement.

The agreement makes the UAE the third Arab state to officially normalize ties with Israel. Israel signed peace treaties with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

Israel and the UAE first announced the US-brokered normalization agreement on August 13 and signed the deal, known as the “Abraham Accords,” at the White House on September 15.

An official Israeli delegation visited the UAE’s capital city Abu Dhabi on August 31, taking the first direct flight in history from Israel to the UAE.

An Emirati delegation is expected to make a reciprocal trip to Israel on October 20, an Emirati source told Al Arabiya English on Monday.

Netanyahu said Monday that he invited Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to Israel, and that the Crown Prince had extended a reciprocal invitation to the UAE capital.

The invitations were expressed during a phone call in which the two leaders discussed strengthening bilateral ties call and examined “prospects for peace” in the region.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/10/15/Israel-s-parliament-passes-UAE-agreement-bringing-peace-deal-into-full-effect-

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'Al Shabaab presents a future threat to America' says AFRICOM after Trump Somalia plans made public

October 14, 2020

President Trump’s reported plans to pull U.S. troops from Somalia were not warmly embraced by U.S. Africa Command, which reacted hesitantly and underscored al Shabaab's continued terrorist threat to the American homeland.

“Somali Armed Forces are making progress, but the threat al Shabaab presents requires international assistance,” U.S. Africa Command’s Air Force Col. Chris Karns told the Washington Examiner.

“Al-Shabaab presents a future threat to America,” he said, “They have communicated as much in their videos and in their intent. This is a dangerous network that requires pressure placed on its forces.”

The American combatant command, which has been ordered by Trump to vacate its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, is responsible for neutralizing terrorist threats on the African continent.

In Somalia, 650 to 800 American soldiers help train Somali forces, monitor al Shabaab, conduct intelligence sharing, and other security assistance activities.

But having boots on the ground in far-flung parts of the world does not jibe with the Trump doctrine. News of Trump's desire to remove U.S. troops from Somalia was first reported by Bloomberg Tuesday.

AFRICOM forces have been part of the international effort to strengthen Somali security institutions since 2008.

Karns refused to speculate on the potential risk of pulling the troops but indicated it is an obvious boon for the terrorist group.

“Reductions of international assistance to al Shabaab could certainly bring al Shabaab an element of relief and an opportunity to recruit, fuel propaganda, and potentially grow stronger,” he said.

Drone strikes can only do so much.

In an interview with the Washington Examiner following AFRICOM's 30th drone strike in Somalia this Spring, CSIS Africa expert Judd Devermont said drone strikes remove imminent threats, but they do not build lasting institutions and a capable military. Karns said partnerships do that.

The public affairs chief refused to say whether drone strikes could continue without troops on the ground.

“I don't want to get involved in hypotheticals and speculation,” he said while noting a valued and dependable partnership with the United States also serves to counter great power competition on the African continent.

“When you look at global power competition in Africa, it is very much a place where China and Russia seek to be great and continue to prioritize activity, especially on the economic front,” he said. “In Africa, a few troops and a few bucks definitely goes a long way and serves as basic security insurance for America.”

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/defense-national-security/al-shabaab-presents-a-future-threat-to-america-says-africom-after-trump-somalia-plans-made-public?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1619855_

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Pakistan

 

Over 450 Pakistan Opposition workers booked ahead of anti-government rally

Oct 15, 2020

lAHORE: Over 450 workers from Pakistan's Opposition parties have been booked in Lahore and other areas of Punjab province ahead of the first grand anti-government rally by an Opposition alliance formed to oust Prime Minister Imran Khan.

On September 20, the leaders of 11 major Opposition parties announced formation of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and launch of a three-phased anti-government movement under an “action plan” starting with countrywide public meetings, protest demonstrations and rallies before a “decisive long march” towards Islamabad in January 2021.

The first anti-government rally is scheduled on Friday in Gujranwala city, some 80 kms from Lahore, followed by another rally on October 18 in Karachi, in Quetta on October 25, Peshawar on November 22, Multan on November 30 and then a rally in Lahore on December 13.

The Opposition leaders announced that they would use all political and democratic options, including no-confidence motions and mass resignations from Parliament to seek "the selected" prime minister's resignation.

The Opposition parties have accused the powerful army of rigging the 2018 elections that brought Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party to power.

The Oppostion parties are openly opposing the military's interference in politics and elections for the first time in the recent history of the country.

The PDM comprises mainly three mainstream Opposition parties – PML-N of Nawaz Sharif, PPP of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) of Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

Launching a crackdown ahead of PDM's first major anti-government show, Punjab police got into action and booked over 450 workers, mostly of PML-N, in different parts of Punjab province under COVID-19 violations and also arrested scores of PDM workers.

Police stations in Gujranwala, Mandi Bahuddin and Lahore registered cases against over 450 Opposition workers under sections 269 and 188 of Pakistan Penal Code for holding a public gathering without observing COVID-19 SOPs.

Former prime minister and PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif, who is London since November last year, in a tweet, said that police should refrain from arresting the PDM leaders.

“Police must NOT comply with Imran Niazi's workers, raid their homes or hinder their travel to Gujranwala,” he said.

Former premier and PDM leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the government's panic over the first public meeting of Opposition has exposed its reality.

“Blocking roads with containers, raiding corner meetings, arresting PDM workers across Punjab, won't deter the spirits of the masses who have decided to rid the country of this selected and inept government.”

He said, "People are starving and struggling to feed their families because of the unprecedented inflation and unemployment created by this government which is the most corrupt government in the history of Pakistan."

Abbasi said no amount of threats, harassment or containers can stop the massive flood of Pakistanis participating in the October 16 public meeting.

PML-N secretary general Ahsan Iqbal said the PTI government is "shaking in its boots over the first Opposition's rally which goes to show how confident it is about itself."

He said the PTI government is doing all it can to "harass and sabotage" the upcoming congregation.

Meanwhile, the government has allowed the Opposition to hold the rally in Gujranwala Stadium with a direction that no speeches would be made against the military and judiciary.

In his back-to-back speeches from London last month, Sharif, who is facing a number of corruption cases, said there was “a state above the state in the country” and declared that the Opposition's struggle was not against Prime Minister Khan but against “those (military establishment) who had imposed such an incapable person” upon the nation through a manipulated electoral process.

Since his anti-army rant, the PTI government has banned the media to broadcast his speeches.

Sharif, 70, has been living in London since November last year after he was allowed by the courts and the government to go there for a period of eight weeks for medical treatment. But he did not come back, while his lawyers told the court that he was still recovering.

The Islamabad High Court through newspaper advertisements has asked Sharif to appear before it by November 24 to avoid being declared a "proclaimed offender".

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/over-450-pakistan-opposition-workers-booked-ahead-of-anti-government-rally/articleshow/78676808.cms

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Pakistan officials: Terrorists ambush oil convoy, killing 15

Oct 15, 2020

QUETTA, PAKISTAN: Terrorists ambushed a convoy of Pakistani oil and gas workers escorted by paramilitary troops in the restive southwestern province of Baluchistan on Thursday, killing 15 people, intelligence officials said.

The attack was claimed by the Baluchistan Liberation Front, a secessionist insurgent group that has operated in the region for decades.

According to two intelligence officials, seven employees of Pakistan's Oil and Gas Development Company were killed, along with eight members of Pakistan's Frontier Corps who were protecting the convoy. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The attack took place in Ormara, not far from Gwadar Port, being developed by China, on the Arabian Sea. The port is a key component of Beijing's multi-billion dollar road-and-belt project linking Beijing to Central and South Asia.

Both the Baluchistan Liberation Front and the Baluchistan Liberation Army operate in the southwestern Baluchistan province, staging relentless attacks to press their demands for independence. They have taken particular aim at the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The project including everything from roads to power plants will link Pakistan's Gwadar to Kashgar in China's Xinjiang province.

The Chief Minister of Baluchistan Jam Kamal condemned the ambush, calling it a "cowardly terrorist attack.''

The secessionists have taken responsibility for attacks on the Karachi Stock Exchange earlier this year, the Intercontinental Hotel in Gwadar last year and the Chinese Consulate in Karachi.

Thursday's attack is the second in as many days. On Wednesday, six Pakistani troops were killed in North Waziristan and another soldier was killed in Bajur region, both former tribal areas that are now part of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province which, like Baluchistan, borders Afghanistan.

Pakistan's border areas served as a base for the Pakistani Taliban and other terrorists until a few years ago, when the army claimed it cleared the region of insurgents, though occasional attacks have continued, raising fears the Pakistani Taliban are regrouping.

There was no immediate comment from the military on the Baluchistan attack.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-officials-terrorists-ambush-oil-convoy-killing-15/articleshow/78685730.cms

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Pakistan becomes 'second Muslim country' to manufacture heart stents

Oct 16 2020

Pakistan on Friday became the "second Muslim country" in the world to produce heart stents indigenously after Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated the N-Ovative Health Technology Facility at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) today.

The PM Office said that the facility will be the first to locally manufacture cardiac stents, adding that it will also make Pakistan the 18th country in the world to do so.

Earlier, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry had said Pakistan will be taking “another big step” in medical technology with the inauguration of the facility.

“Today, the prime minister is inaugurating [a] heart stents manufacturing [facility] at NUST Science Park,” tweeted the minister. He added that the stents will be produced according to European standards, and would put Pakistan among a group of select countries that can produce stents.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Political Communication Shahbaz Gill said that Pakistan would become the 'second Muslim country' in the world and South Asia after Turkey and India, respectively, to produce stents.

“It will save Rs 8 billion annually in foreign exchange. Congratulations to the nation and scientists,” said Gill.

https://www.geo.tv/latest/313542-pakistan-becomes-second-muslim-country-to-manufacture-heart-stents

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Pakistan: 20 security personnel killed in terror attacks

16th Oct 2020

By Islamuddin Sajid and Aamir Latif

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI, Pakistan (AA): Twenty security personnel were killed in two separate terrorist attacks in north and southwestern Pakistan on Thursday, officials said. The Baloch Raji Ajoi Sangar (BRAS), a banned terrorist organization, has claimed responsibility for the attack in a tweet.

A military convoy was targeted in Razmak town of North Waziristan district, which is now part of the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the military’s public relations wing said. As a result, one officer and five soldiers were killed.

Fourteen security men — seven personnel of the Frontier Corps and as many civilian guards employed by the OGDCL — were killed in an armed attack on their convoy on the Coastal Highway in the Ormara area of Gwadar district on Thursday.

North Waziristan — once a “heartland of militancy” — is one of the seven former semi-autonomous tribal regions in Pakistan where the army has conducted a series of operations since 2014 to eliminate the Pakistani Taliban.

Separately, terrorists opened fire on a security detail escorting a convoy of the state-run Oil and Gas Development Company in Ormara, a town in Gwadar district of southwestern Balochistan, killing seven soldiers and seven private security guards, the military said in a statement.

According to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), an encounter took place between security forces and a large number of terrorists on the Coastal Highway near Ormara when a convoy of the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) staff was being escorted from Gwadar to Karachi.

Security forces, however, “responded effectively,” ensuring the convoy’s safe exit from the area, it added.

Substantial losses were also incurred to the terrorists, and the area has been sealed and a search operation for the assailants launched, the press release said.

Mineral-rich Balochistan is key to the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship project of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative to develop trade routes in Asia and beyond.

Islamabad accuses New Delhi of supporting the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, and Baloch separatists who carry out attacks on Pakistani soil.

In an interview earlier this week, Moeed Yusuf, Pakistan’s national security adviser, said specific evidence is available that links India to attacks, including the one on Chinese consulate in Karachi in 2018.

http://muslimnews.co.uk/news/south-asia/pakistan-20-security-personnel-killed-terror-attacks/

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20 security personnel martyred in two attacks

Saleem Shahid | Behram Baloch | Pazir Gul

16 Oct 2020

QUETTA / GWADAR / NORTH WAZIRISTAN: Twenty security personnel, including six Army men, were martyred in two terrorist attacks in Balochistan’s Ormara area and North Waziristan tribal district on Thursday and late Wednesday.

Fourteen security men — seven personnel of the Frontier Corps and as many civilian guards employed by the OGDCL — were martyred in an armed attack on their convoy on the Coastal Highway in the Ormara area of Gwadar district on Thursday.

Six troops, including a Pakistan Army captain, were martyred and one suffered injuries when two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) struck their vehicles in North Waziristan tribal district on Wednesday evening.

According to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), an encounter took place between security forces and a large number of terrorists on the Coastal Highway near Ormara when a convoy of the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) staff was being escorted from Gwadar to Karachi.

Security forces responded effectively, ensured security of the OGDCL staff, and managed their safe exit from the area.

During the clash, substantial losses were also incurred to the terrorists, the ISPR said. As a result of this encounter, seven brave soldiers of FC Balochistan and as many security guards sacrificed their lives and embraced martyrdom.

The martyred FC personnel were identified as Subedar Abid Hussain, resident of Layyah, Naik Muhammad Anwar of Sibi, Lance Naik Iftikhar Ahmed (Dera Ghazi Khan), Sepoy Muhammad Naveed (Chakwal), Lance Naik Abdul Latif (Pishin), Sepoy Muhammad Waris (Mianwali) and Sepoy Imran Khan (Lakki Marwat); and security guards Havaldar (retired ) Samandar Khan and Muhammad Fawad Ullah (Lakki Marwat) Atta Ullah (Dera Ismail Khan), Waris Khan (Tank), Abdul Nafay and Shakir Ullah (Kohat) and Abid Hussain (Bannu) Security forces cordoned off the area and search for terrorists was underway

The ISPR said that such cowardly acts by inimical elements to sabotage peace, stability and economic development in Balochistan would never be allowed to succeed. Moreover, these acts cannot subdue resolve of the armed forces which are determined to defend motherland, even at the cost of their lives.

The Baloch Raji Ajoi Sangar (BRAS), a banned militant organization, has claimed responsibility for the attack in a tweet.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has condemned the attack on the OGDCL convoy and sought a report on the incident. He commiserated with families of the martyred security personnel, lauded the services of the martyrs and prayed for the departed souls.

Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan and Home Minister Zia Langove have also condemned the attack and termed it a cowardly terrorist act.

Jam Kamal in a statement expressed sorrow and grief over the loss of human lives and paid rich tribute to the security personnel who were martyred in the attack.

“The nefarious designs of the anti-state elements would not succeed and the elements involved in the attack would be brought to justice soon,” he said.

N. Waziristan attack

The ISPR on Thursday confirmed the martyrdom of six security personnel, including an Army captain, and injuries to one in the Wednesday’s North Waziristan attack.

The military’s media wing said in a brief statement that a convoy of security forces was attacked with improvised explosive devices near Razmak which resulted in the martyrdom of a captain and five soldiers.

The martyrs were identified as Captain Umar Farooq, Naib Subedar Riaz Ahmed, Naib Subedar Shakeel Azad, Havaldar Younas Khan, Naik Mohammad Nadeem and Lance Naik Asmat Ullah.

The banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the attack.

TTP spokesperson Mohammad Khurasani said in a brief statement that members of his group carried out the attack in Shaktoi area.

Various militant groups had announced their merger in August and vowed to launch attacks on security forces under the umbrella of the TTP.

Sources said that the security forces’ convoy comprising two vehicles was attacked in the Shaktoi area of South Waziristan which is adjacent to North Waziristan. The incident occurred at 6pm on Wednesday. They said that the convoy was going from Shaktoi to Ladha area in South Waziristan.

The bodies and a wounded soldier were taken to a garrison in Bannu district by a helicopter.

The bodies of Havaldar Younas and Lance Naik Asmat Ullah were later shifted to their hometowns in Lakki Marwat district.

The incident occurred four days after two soldiers were martyred and three others suffered injuries in an attack on a security post in Shawal valley near the Afghan border.

Violence has intensified in the merged tribal districts, particularly in North Waziristan and South Waziristan.

The surge in violence has resulted in the martyrdom of several officers, soldiers and civilians.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1585319/20-security-personnel-martyred-in-two-attacks?preview

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Govt blocked routes to Gujranwala rally: Marriyum Aurangzeb

October 16, 2020

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb on Friday said the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) Gujranwala rally will be a decisive referendum against the incompetent and corrupt government.

Marriyum Aurangzeb said blockades are being erected but lions of Nawaz Sharif are arriving in large numbers. She said, “The public meeting will be successful. Workers have been present at the venue since night.”

“Cases were lodged against us and we were threatened. The government blocked routes when it could not do anything. Shibli Faraz should start writing his resignation. The content of his resignation will also be provided by us.”

https://nation.com.pk/16-Oct-2020/gujranwala-rally-will-be-decisive-referendum-against-incompetent-corrupt-govt

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India

 

Kerala gold smuggling: Nothing in case diary to substantiate terror funding, says NIA court

Oct 16, 2020,

KOCHI: In the Kerala gold smuggling case, the National Investigation Agency special court has submitted that there is nothing in the case diary submitted by the NIA to show that the money spent by the accused was coming from any "terror outfits" or even their connection whatsoever with any "terrorist forces".

The court made the marks while granting bail to 10 accused persons in the case. It also dismissed the bail petitions of three accused on Thursday.

The NIA court stated that "it is repeatedly alleged in the counter statement submitted by NIA that the petitioners have acted with an intention to damage the economic security of India, there is no material whatsoever in the case diary to prima facie satisfy that they did it with such an intention."

"There is nothing in the case diary to show that the money spent by them was coming from any terror outfits or that they received the gold for transferring it to any such dark forces or even their connection whatsoever with any terrorist forces," the court added.

It further said that unless the NIA produces sufficient materials to compel this court to keep all the petitioners in under detention in order to unravel the money/gold trail leading to terror outfits, this court cannot detain all of them indefinitely.

This development follows after the NIA had produced the case diary of six volumes consisting of nearly 2,500 pages in the Kerala gold smuggling case.

It has also produced a letter issued by the Additional Director General of the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau which read there was sufficient reason for registering the FIR, suspecting terror funding out of the proceeds of the smuggled gold, and continuing the investigation in that direction.

However, after investigating for a period of more than 90 days, the agency is not able to trace any material to substantiate the said suspicion.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/kerala-gold-smuggling-nothing-in-case-diary-to-substantiate-terror-funding-says-nia-court/articleshow/78693645.cms

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J&K: Pakistan violates ceasefire in Poonch's Mankote sector

Oct 16, 2020

POONCH: Pakistan on Friday initiated an unprovoked ceasefire violation by firing with small arms and shelling with mortars along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Mankote sector.

At about 5.15 pm today, the Pakistan army began firing. The Indian Army is retaliating befittingly, Army officials said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/jk-pakistan-violates-ceasefire-in-poonchs-mankote-sector/articleshow/78692538.cms

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In Farooq’s courtyard, Gupkar reunion sets J&K spl status as goal

Oct 16, 2020

SRINAGAR: The Farooq Abdullah-led National Conference on Thursday cobbled together a formal seven-party conglomerate called the People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, including Mehbooba Mufti's PDP and Congress, to fight for the restoration of J&K's special status. All the parties in the alliance are the original signatories to the 2019 declaration initiated by NC at Farooq's Gupkar Road residence to resist the Centre's move to nullify Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution.

The birth of a non-BJP alliance to campaign for a return to what J&K was before August 5, 2019, comes within 48 hours of the administration releasing former CM Mehbooba from 14 months of detention, the second half of which was under the stringent Public Safety Act.

Farooq and his son Omar Abdullah, also former CMs, had visited Mehbooba at her residence in Srinagar on Wednesday to invite her to Thursday's meeting at the NC chief and Srinagar MP's private residence. J&K PCC president Ghulam Ahmad Mir was the only one to miss the meeting because of a medical emergency.

Besides Mehbooba, CPM state secretary Yousuf Tarigam, Sajjad Lone of the J&K People's Conference, Awami National Conference representative Muzaffar Shah and Javed Mustafa Mir of the J&K People's Movement were part of the Gupkar reunion.

Soon after the meeting, Farooq told reporters that the People's Alliance would pick up from where the Gupkar Declaration signatories had left off under extraordinary circumstances last year. "We decided to name the resolution as People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration to make it clear what our goal is. Our motive is to fight for the restoration of J&K's position till August 4, 2019," he said, flanked by Mehbooba and Omar.

Farooq said the campaign wasn't just about J&K's erstwhile status as a state, but also the "rights that were snatched" from the people of the Valley and Ladakh. "We also want steps to be taken for the resolution of the Kashmir issue with all the stakeholders on board."

Countering speculation about the alliance being a common political springboard for the Abdullahs and Muftis, Mehbooba tweeted later in the day, "Beg to differ....The greatest disservice would be reducing it to PDP/NC or two political families."

The date for the next meeting of the alliance is yet to be decided. Farooq said all the decisions taken by the constituents and the way forward would be made public on the day of the meeting.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/in-farooqs-courtyard-gupkar-reunion-sets-jk-spl-status-as-goal/articleshow/78689936.cms

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Pakistan opens heavy fire along LoC in Poonch

Ravi Krishnan Khajuria

Oct 16, 2020

Pakistan on Friday morning opened heavy fire on Indian positions and forward villages along the Line of Control (LoC) in Mankote sector of Poonch district, prompting India to retaliate in equal measure.

Defence spokesman Lt Col Devender Anand said, at about 0515 hours (5.15 am) , Pakistan initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation by firing with small arms and then switching over to mortar shelling along the LoC in Mankote sector.

Indian Army retaliated befittingly, he added.

There were no casualties reported by the Indian side.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/pakistan-opens-heavy-fire-along-loc-in-poonch/story-ExeiuDZ5uKYqrBfeAZCReL.html

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133 Indian nationals to come back from Pakistan on October 19

Oct 15, 2020

Posted by Deepali Sharma

A total of 133 Indian nationals are set to return from Pakistan on October 19, said Indian High Commission in Pakistan on Thursday.

The high commission has requested the people to make necessary arrangements to reach Wagah/Attari border at the scheduled date for their return.

“High Commission of India in Pakistan is facilitating the return of 133 Indian nationals from Pakistan to India on 19 October. Those in the list are requested to make necessary arrangements to reach at Wagah/Attari border at scheduled date for return,” said Indian High Commission in Pakistan.

In September, the Indian High Commission had said it is facilitating the return of 363 NORI (No Objection to Return to India) visa holders and 37 Indians from Pakistan.

“The High Commission of India in Pakistan is facilitating the return of 363 NORI visa holders and 37 Indians from Pakistan to India on September 15, 2020. The repatriation will be carried out as per the attached list,” India in Pakistan had tweeted.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/133-indian-nationals-to-come-back-from-pakistan-on-october-19/story-K61ezNaXqeXkCgj5sgS5QN.html

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North America

 

US: Supporters of Azerbaijan protest attacks by Armenia

Safvan Allahverdi  

15.10.2020

WASHINGTON

Nearly 200 people gathered outside the US Capitol building in Washington on Wednesday to protest Armenia's attacks on Azerbaijani territories and occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The protesters, carrying Azerbaijani and Turkish flags, as well as banners criticizing Armenia's actions, shouted slogans in favor of Baku in front of the White House.

They urged the US administration to put an end to Armenia's occupation and attacks on civilians.

The protesters then headed to Turkey's embassy in Washington DC to convey their thanks for Turkey's solidarity with Azerbaijan. Embassy officials welcomed the protesters and reiterated Turkey's support for Azerbaijan.

Tension between Azerbaijan, Armenia

Clashes began on Sept. 27 when Armenian forces targeted civilian Azerbaijani settlements and military positions in the region, leading to casualties.

Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Upper Karabakh.

The OSCE Minsk Group -- co-chaired by France, Russia, and the US -- was formed in 1992 to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, but to no avail. A cease-fire, however, was agreed to in 1994.

Roughly 20% of Azerbaijan's territory has remained under illegal Armenian occupation for some three decades.

The two states agreed to a humanitarian cease-fire taking effect on Saturday for the exchange of prisoners and retrieval of bodies in Upper Karabakh.

The truce came after a trilateral meeting in Moscow on Friday among the foreign ministers of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

But, Armenian forces on Sunday launched a missile strike on Azerbaijan's second-largest city Ganja -- although the region is outside the frontline zone -- killing 10 civilians and injuring 35.

Many world powers, including Russia, France, and the US, have urged a new cease-fire. Turkey, meanwhile, has supported Baku's right to self-defense and demanded the withdrawal of Armenia's occupying forces.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-supporters-of-azerbaijan-protest-attacks-by-armenia/2007533

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US, Taliban agree on ‘re-set’ amid violence uptick

Michael Hernandez 

15.10.2020

WASHINGTON

The US and the Taliban have agreed to a "re-set" following a marked increase in violence in Afghanistan between the hard-line group and government forces, the US' top negotiator to end the conflict said Thursday.

"Following several meetings General Miller and I had with the Taliban, we agreed to re-set actions by strictly adhering to implementation of all elements of the U.S.-Taliban Agreement and all commitments made," Zalmay Khalizad said on Twitter, referring to Gen. Scott Miller who heads the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

"This means reduced numbers of operations. At present too many Afghans are dying. With the re-set, we expect that number to drop significantly."

The announcement comes as the Afghan government said Monday its forces repelled a major Taliban offensive in the southwestern province of Helmand. The US had been providing air support to Afghan forces during the counter-offensive in which the Taliban reportedly suffered significant losses.

Helmand governor spokesman Omar Zwak told Anadolu Agency on Monday that security forces had withdrawn "tactically" from their checkpoints in the BabaJi area on the outskirts of the province.

According to the US-Taliban peace deal inked in February, the insurgents are not supposed to attack major cities and provincial capitals.

Additionally, at least 13 civilians, including five children, were killed Wednesday in three landmine blasts in various provinces.

The Taliban have yet to comment on the tragedies.

This recent wave of violence comes as landmark intra-Afghan peace talks are underway in the Qatari capital, Doha, since Sept. 12, where delegates from both sides are yet to agree on the agenda and a conflict resolution mechanism.

Figures by Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission suggested that in the first six months of 2020, a total of 1,213 civilians were killed and 1,744 injured in 880 different incidents such as landmine blasts, aerial raids and ground offensives by the warring parties.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-taliban-agree-on-re-set-amid-violence-uptick/2007731

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UN again urges Israel to halt all settlement activities

Michael Hernandez  

15.10.2020

WASHINGTON

The UN's special coordinator for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict again called on Tel Aviv to halt all settlement activities in the occupied West Bank after Israel announced thousands of new settlement units.

Nickolay Mladenov said Israel advanced plans Wednesday and Thursday for almost 5,000 new units on Palestinian land, with the vast majority "deep inside" the territory. All settlement construction is illegal under international law and the UN maintains it is a significant barrier to the establishment of peace.

"This significant number and location of advancements is of great concern to all those who remain committed to advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace," he said in a statement. "Such moves undermine the prospect of achieving a viable two-State solution by systematically eroding the possibility of establishing a contiguous and independent Palestinian State living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel.”

Israeli Peace Now, a rights group that advocates peace between Palestinians and Israelis, said in a statement that the Israeli government's plans "make 2020 the highest year on record in terms of units in settlement plans promoted since Peace Now began recording in 2012."

It noted approved settlement units in 2020 have reached 12,159, "with possibility for another HPC meeting for another round of approvals before year's end." The Higher Planning Council (HPC) operates the West Bank.

The statement added that despite the economic crisis resulting from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in Israel, "Netanyahu is promoting construction in isolated settlements that Israel will have to evacuate."

"The settlement enterprise is not in Israel's national or security interest," it concluded.

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is regarded as occupied territory under international law, thus making all Jewish settlements there illegal.

Israel occupied the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/un-again-urges-israel-to-halt-all-settlement-activities/2007906

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Arab world

 

UAE, Israel reach agreement on double taxation avoidance to encourage investment

Tuqa Khalid

15 October 2020

The United Arab Emirates and Israel have reached a preliminary agreement on avoiding double taxation to encourage investments between the two countries, state news agency WAM reported on Thursday.

UAE Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Finance Younis Haji al-Khoori said: “The UAE is the first Arab country to conclude an agreement to protect and encourage investment with Israel.”

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

He added: “The first round of negotiations on an agreement to protect and encourage investment confirms the two countries' efforts to build investment partnerships in various fields."

The agreement is meant to protect investments from “non-commercial risks such as nationalization, confiscation, judicial seizures, freezing assets, establishing licensed investments, and transferring profits and revenues in convertible currencies,” according to WAM.

It also provides “national and MFN treatment, no interference on all investment related topics, fair and immediate compensation for the investor in case of seizures according to the law, without any form of discrimination and according to the market value of the investment.”

The UAE normalized ties with Israel after a US-brokered deal which was announced at the White House on August 13 and signed in Washington on September 15.

The UAE agreed to normalize relations with Israel, while Israel agreed to continue with plans to suspend its annexation of the West Bank. The UAE also abolished on August 29 a previous law that mandated an economic boycott of Israel.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/business/economy/2020/10/15/UAE-Israel-reach-agreement-on-double-taxation-avoidance-to-encourage-investment

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Top Saudi court hands down jail terms to two political opponents

15 October 2020

Saudi authorities have reportedly passed prison sentences against two more political dissidents as a crackdown led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman widens despite the kingdom’s much-touted social reforms.

The Prisoners of Conscience, an independent non-governmental organization advocating human rights in Saudi Arabia, announced in a series of posts on its official Twitter page that the Specialized Criminal Court slapped a three-and-a-half-year jail term on Dr. Habib bin Moala, who has been behind bars since September 2017.

The organization added that the same court handed a six-year prison sentence to Sheikh Dr. Ali Badahdah, who is also under detention since September 2017.

The developments took place only two days after Saudi Arabia failed in its attempt to become a member of the 47-nation United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

In recent years, Saudi authorities have rounded up hundreds of perceived political opponents, detained more than a dozen women’s rights activists, and continued mass prisoner executions.

Public protests, political parties and labor unions are banned in the traditionally closed-off country, where the media are controlled and criticism of the royal family can lead to prison.

The crackdown gathered pace in September 2017 with the arrests of prominent religious leaders, some of whom could now face death penalty.

Top businessmen and senior officials were arrested two months later in a purported anti-corruption campaign. The measure was criticized as a power play and shakedown of the crown prince’s potential political rivals.

Bin Salman also stands accused of being directly involved in the cruel murder of well-known Saudi journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, after he entered the premises to obtain paperwork for a planned marriage with his Turkish fiancée Hatice Cengiz.

Turkish officials say his body was dismembered by the Saudi killers and his remains are yet to be found.

Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur for extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, investigated Khashoggi’s murder.

She has said “credible evidence” links the Saudi crown prince to the killing of the Washington Post journalist and said he should be investigated.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/10/15/636465/Top-Saudi-court-hands-down-jail-terms-to-two-political-opponents

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Iraqi anti-terror groups’ truce with US short-term, depends on troop withdrawal: Legislator

15 October 2020

A senior Iraqi lawmaker says a proposed truce by anti-terror resistance groups, which are part of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), better known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha'abi, to suspend attacks on United States forces is temporary and depends on the complete withdrawal of American troops by year-end.

“The truce isn't open-ended,” Ahmad al-Assadi, spokesman of the Fatah Alliance and a former official spokesman for Hashd al-Sha’abi, told AFP news agency late on Wednesday.

“In my estimation, at its earliest it could end around the US elections,” slated for November 3, “or it could last until the end of the year,” he added.

“A truce lasting longer than the end of the year doesn't make much sense. We're only giving the government more time to negotiate the withdrawal,” Assadi pointed out.

Iraqi resistance groups, in a joint statement released on October 10, agreed on a conditional ceasefire to American forces present in Iraq, saying they would halt their military operations against the US troops, including rocket attacks, provided that Washington does not persist in maintaining its presence in the Arab country.

They stressed that the “conditional opportunity” was created “to respect the good efforts made by some national and political figures to draw up a clear and specific timetable for the implementation of the decision of the Iraqi people, parliament, and government on withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq.”

Anti-US sentiments have been running high in Iraq since the assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Units, along with their companions in a US assassination drone airstrike authorized by President Donald Trump near Baghdad International Airport on January 3.

Iraqi lawmakers approved a bill two days later, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/10/15/636473/Iraqi-anti-terror-groups%E2%80%99-truce-with-US-short-term,-depends-on-troop-withdrawal--Legislator

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US-backed SDF forces set free 100s of Daesh terrorists in Syria’s Hasakah

16 October 2020

US-sponsored and Kurdish-led militants affiliated with the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have released hundreds of people detained on suspicion of having collaborated with the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

The 631 detainees were freed on Thursday from the Alaya detention facility on the outskirts of Qamishli city, located 680 kilometers (420 miles) northeast of the capital Damascus.

They had been held on terrorism charges and were the first batch released in an amnesty deal announced recently by the Kurdish-led forces.

The SDF forces hold tens of thousands of people suspected of links to Daesh and other terror outfits. Most of the detainees are Syrian and Iraqi nationals.

They also hold hundreds of foreign terrorists, whose respective countries refuse to take them back home and their fate has become a diplomatic hot potato.

“All those who were freed are Syrians,” Amina Omar, co-chair of the so-called Syrian Democratic Council, said at a news conference in Qamishli.

Those who were freed on Thursday had served at least half of their sentence and were found to have no blood on their hands, she asserted.

The US has long been providing the SDF with arms and militant training, calling them a key partner in the purported fight against Daesh.

Many observers and experts, however, see the support in the context of Washington's plans to cement its foothold in Syria and loot crude oil reserves in the war-ravaged Arab country.

The US looting of Syrian oil was fist confirmed during a Senate hearing exchange between South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in late July.

On July 30 and during his testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Pompeo confirmed for the first time that an American oil company would begin work in the northeastern Syria, which is controlled by the SDF militants.

The Syrian government has denounced in the strongest terms the agreement inked to plunder the Arab country's natural resources, including Syrian oil and gas, under the sponsorship and support of the administration of US President Donald Trump.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/10/16/636514/US-backed-SDF-forces-set-free-100s-of-Daesh-terrorists-in-Syria-Hasakah

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900 Syrian ISIS Suspects Referred to Court in East Euphrates

14 October, 2020

The Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration courts began the prosecution of ISIS suspects after around 900 Syrian prisoners were referred to the People's Defense Court in Qamishli for trial.

Social Justice Council of North and East Syria member Khaled Ali said the court is currently looking into the cases of around 900 ISIS suspects accused of fighting or having links to the terrorist organization.

He said the laws applied in the trial are those included in Decree No. 20 that was issued by the Legislative Council of North and East Syria.

About 19,000 ISIS mercenaries, including 12,000 Syrians, are held in the Autonomous Administration prisons in northeast Syria.

On Saturday, the Autonomous Administration said all prisoners serving time for petty crimes, those suffering from incurable or terminal diseases and those aged over 75, will be released from prison.

However, the amnesty excluded people charged with betrayal, espionage, honor killing, sexual abuse, and trading with or consuming drugs, in addition to commanders in terrorist organizations like ISIS.

Ali called for establishing an international court to prosecute the foreign ISIS members held in the prisons of the Autonomous Administration that includes suspects from 55 countries. He said such courts would guarantee a fair trial and the implementation of international law that respects human rights.

Separately, around 20,000 Syrians prepare to be evacuated from al-Hol camp.

On Monday, a new batch of around 73 families consisting of 289 people from Deir Ezzor and its countryside left al-Hol.

Since early this year, around 5,000 Syrians from East Euphrates areas have been evacuated from the camp.

https://english.aawsat.com/home/article/2563831/900-syrian-isis-suspects-referred-court-east-euphrates?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1619855_

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Europe

 

Italy starts issuing work visa for Pakistanis

Amin Ahmed

16 Oct 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Italian government has reopened sea­sonal and non-seasonal work visas for Pakistani nationals under its annual schedule of work visa called ‘Decreto Flussi’ for the year 2020-21.

Over 30,000 work visas would be issued by the Italian government to the nationals from a few non-EU countries, including Pakis­tan. Pakis­tani workers in agriculture, tourism, construction and freight forwarding sectors can avail this opportunity, according to details transmitted by the Pakistan Embassy in Italy to the Board of Investment on Thursday.

Pakistan has been included in this category of visas after the lag of two years as a result of sustained efforts by its embassy in Rome.

Ambassador Jauhar Saleem said on the occasion that Italy hosts the largest Pakistani diaspora in the European Union following Brexit, which has sent over $142 million in remittances in 2019-2020.

He said that the Pakistani community in Italy had been demanding Pakistan’s re-inclusion in the list of countries eligible for seasonal workers visa, ever since the facility was withdrawn two years ago. The demand for Pakistani workers in the Italian market is on the rise consistently, especially in the agricultural sector, Ambassador Saleem said.

It is expected that under the current scheme, hundreds of Pakistani workers would obtain gainful employment in Italy.

Earlier, the Pakistan Embassy also facilitated thousands of undocumented Pakistani workers in Italy to seek legal status through a scheme launched by the Italian government in June 2020 to regularise the undocumented foreign workers.

Over 18,000 Pakistanis app­lied for regularisation under that scheme. Despite the second wave of Covid-19, which has seen a record number of fresh cases in recent days, the Pakistan Embassy has kept its consular section, both in Rome and Milan, fully functional so as to facilitate the community in benefiting from the growing job opportunities in Italy.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1585325/italy-starts-issuing-work-visa-for-pakistanis

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EU, UK impose sanctions on six Putin aides over Navalny poisoning, Libya meddling

15 October 2020

The European Union and Britain on Thursday hit six aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin, including the man known as his chef, over the poisoning of opposition leader Alexey Navalny and Kremlin meddling in Libya’s civil war.

The EU said Yevgeny Prigozhin, nicknamed “Putin’s chef” because his company has done catering for the Kremlin, was undermining peace in Libya by supporting the Wagner private military company.

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

The move came a day after Russia’s foreign minister warned that Moscow might respond with similar measures.

The decision was agreed upon among the 27 EU envoys to Brussels.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas of Germany, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, said that “only with a clear position and by sticking to principles can we as the European Union make progress with respect to Russia.”

The sanctions consist of a travel ban to the EU and an asset freeze for individuals and the targed organization, the EU said.

The list includes Alexander Bortnikov, the chief of Russia’s Federal Security Service, the top KGB successor agency that is in charge of domestic security, and Sergei Kiriyenko, Putin’s deputy chief of staff. The EU is also targeting the State Scientific Research Institute for Organic Chemistry and Technology.

The US said it would also apply the EU sanctions and will continue them once it leaves a post-Brexit transition period at the end of the year.

“Any use of chemical weapons by the Russian state violates international law. We are determined to hold those responsible to account,” said British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

Russian officials have repeatedly denied any involvement in the poisoning and Russian doctors who first examined Navalny have said they found no signs of a poisoning.

EU foreign ministers agreed on Monday to impose the sanctions, following a push by France and Germany to freeze the assets of those suspected of involvement in the poisoning and ban them from traveling in Europe under sanctions to combat the use and spread of chemical weapons.

The legal procedures were completed on Thursday.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the EU had acted “with exceptional speed, in keeping with the seriousness of this act and the methods used.”

“This demonstrates a European Union that acts in the face of the new, unacceptable and destabilizing use of a chemical weapon,” he said at a meeting in Paris.

Navalny, an anti-corruption investigator who is the most visible political opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, fell ill on Aug. 20 during a domestic flight in Russia. He was flown to Germany for treatment two days later and is still recovering there.

Last week, tests conducted at labs designated by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed that Navalny was poisoned by a Novichok nerve agent. They confirmed results found earlier in labs in Germany and elsewhere.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has suggested that Moscow might even sever ties over the Navalny dispute, claiming on Wednesday that “the Germans are not planning to provide any facts, despite all international and legal obligations. We respond in kind. This is diplomatic practice.”

“We probably simply have to temporarily stop talking to those people in the West who are responsible for foreign policy and don’t understand the need for mutually respectful dialogue,” he said a day earlier.

Lavrov specifically pointed at European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s recent statements ruling out a partnership with Russia, saying that scenario will play out if that’s what the EU wants.

“Russia wants to understand whether it’s possible to do any business with the EU in the current conditions,” Lavrov said at a foreign policy conference attended by experts in Moscow.

In a phone call on Tuesday with Lavrov, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell insisted that the EU “wishes to maintain open channels of communication with Russia and to enhance cooperation on issues of mutual interest,” according to a statement from Borrell’s office.

Borrell also underlined that Moscow “must do its utmost to investigate this crime thoroughly in full transparency and to fully cooperate” with the OPCW. He said the EU “will continue to defend its interests and values, including respect for international law and fundamental rights.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/10/15/EU-imposes-sanctions-on-six-Putin-aides-over-Navalny-poisoning-Libya

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Nagorno-Karabakh military death toll rises to 604 since September

15 October 2020

The defense ministry of the Nagorno-Karabakh region said on Thursday it had recorded another 49 casualties among its military, pushing the military death toll to 604 since fighting with Azeri forces erupted on September 27.

The fighting has surged to its worst level since the 1990s, when some 30,000 people were killed.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/10/15/Nagorno-Karabakh-military-death-toll-rises-to-604-since-September-

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30% of UK terror plots disrupted by MI5 were far right, says security chief

By Nick Paton Walsh

October 15, 2020

London (CNN)The new head of MI5, the UK's domestic security service, has warned that nearly 30% of the major terror plots it has disrupted at a late stage since 2017 have been from far right extremists.

Ken McCallum said that the pan-European threat from the far right was increasing with "bitty, but meaningful international connectivity."

In his first engagement with reporters since taking the job in March, McCallum said far-right extremism was not on "the same scale as Islamist extremist terrorism. But it is growing: of the 27 late-stage terrorist attack plots in Great Britain disrupted by MI5 and counter-terror policing since 2017, eight have been right-wing extremist."

He added that was not the case for the four years before 2017, and that "quite a few young people [are] attracted to this ideology, which does tend to suggest this threat will be with us for some years to come."

Yet he added that the far right, while showing signs of international links, was not yet "a kind of coherent global movement," like al Qaeda or ISIS "where you have a sort of unifying purpose and single organization that pools things together."

Individuals, "often acting in comparative isolation," were often fueled by "social processes, to do with individual's own needs and self view," McCallum said, and the far-right ideology was often "tacked on after someone has moved in that direction."

"These stories are not terribly coherent either," he said. "If you look either at right-wing extremism or Islamist extremism, it's not a coherent ideology that really stands up to much scrutiny. People are nonetheless, sadly, attracted to the seeming certainty that they seek to provide."

Last year, a 23-year-old member of banned neo-Nazi group National Action was sentenced to life after admitting to plotting to kill his local lawmaker with a machete and making a threat to kill a police officer, according to PA news agency. Jack Renshaw's plans were revealed by a whistleblower, who was at a meeting in a pub when Renshaw announced his intentions in July 2017, a year after Labour Member of Parliament Jo Cox was murdered by a far-right extremist.

Around a dozen people were convicted of terrorism-related offences in 2019, according to anti-racism charity Hope Not Hate, including a Durham teenager who was planning attacks against local synagogues.

The MI5 chief, who lists hiking and being an active father as his interests, said the growing threat was replicated in Europe and the United States. "Essentially all the services with which we partner closely have some version of this."

McCallum, a Glaswegian maths graduate who headed both the investigation into the 2018 Salisbury attacks, which the UK government says was carried out by Russian operatives, and the operation to protect the 2012 London Olympics, took the top job just as the UK went into lockdown. He said the security service had advised the government during the pandemic, on anything from the construction of emergency hospitals to "repurposing research originally done on toxic chemicals to help understand how Covid in droplets might disperse."

He also said their skills were being used to protect Britain's top medical laboratories, after UK officials accused Russia in July of trying to access the country's vaccine research servers. "Crucially, on the vaccine, we've been working to protect the integrity of UK research," he said.

After 24 years in the service, McCallum heads MI5 at a time when it is under criticism for failing to prevent the 2017 Manchester bombing of an Ariana Grande concert, and scrutiny over its assessment of Russian meddling in British elections.

He admitted that "no matter how much ingenuity and hard work we bring in," MI5 cannot prevent every terror attack. "And if I'm honest, when my own phone rings late in the evening, my stomach lurches in case it is one of those awful moments."

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/10/14/uk/mi5-far-right-terror-plots-gbr-intl/index.html?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1619855_

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Man Who Attacked Paris Police Officer Sentenced to 28 Years

October 14, 2020

A Paris court on Wednesday handed down a 28-year jail term to the Algerian man who attacked a police officer with a hammer in 2017 as officers guarded Notre Dame Cathedral.  

Farid Ikken, now 43, was convicted of attempted terrorist murder.  

Beginning with the 2015 terror attack in Paris on Charlie Hebdo magazine staff, in which 17 people were killed, France has been the site of several such incidents. Many of the attacks have targeted French security forces.

In 2017, Ikken a former doctoral student, yelled, "This is for Syria," before he charged officers outside the well-known tourist site. One officer was struck in the head with the hammer. Ikken was shot and wounded by other officers.  

Prosecutors said that during a search of Ikken's home, police found a declaration of allegiance to Islamic State in a self-filmed video on his computer. They say he appeared to have acted alone. 

The trial began Monday. On Tuesday, Ikken testified that he had no regrets for his role in the incident, adding he still felt a "satisfaction of duty accomplished" after the attack.

https://www.voanews.com/europe/man-who-attacked-paris-police-officer-sentenced-28-years?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1619855_

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South Asia

 

Taliban Claim Female Commander Kaftar Joined their Group in Baghlan Along With Her Armed Followers

By Mohammad Arif Sheva

16 Oct 2020

BAGHLAN, Afghanistan – A female resident – known as commander Kaftar – joined the Taliban insurgents in Baghlan province of North Afghanistan, the insurgent group claimed in a statement Thursday.  

While the Afghan government did not immediately comment or affirm the claim, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a tweet Thursday evening said Kaftar has been “forced” to stand against Islamic Emirates’ Mujahidin.

“Female commander (Kaftar) mislead by enemy & forced to apparently stand against IEA Mujahidin in Sajano area of Nahrin district #Baghlan joined Mujahidin along with her armed followers earlier today,” he said. “Preaching & Guidance Commission officials welcomed them.”

North Afghanistan is an insecure zone, where a number of residents in some provinces stood armed to fight against the Taliban insurgents, supporting Afghan Security and Defence Forces in their battle. They are known as the People’s Uprising Forces.

https://www.khaama.com/taliban-claim-female-commander-joined-their-group-in-baghlan-345345/

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Taliban offensive in Helmand threatens U.S., Afghan peace efforts

By Pamela Constable and Sharif Hassan

Oct. 14, 2020

KABUL — A Taliban offensive in southern Helmand province has raised concerns here that a growing wave of insurgent violence could undercut fledgling intra-Afghan peace talks in Qatar and sabotage a U.S.-Taliban pact reached in February.

The multiday assault in several areas near Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital, was partly quelled by Afghan forces Tuesday with support from U.S. airstrikes, but thousands of families were forced to flee the surrounding areas, highways were blocked, and some Taliban fighters were reported Wednesday to still be advancing into the city.

The complex attack appeared to have been planned before President Trump tweeted last Wednesday that he wanted to bring all U.S. troops home by Christmas, a significant shift in policy that immediately put the Taliban in a stronger bargaining position at the peace talks, which have been bogged down in disputes for a month.

But it also appeared to violate the intent, if not the letter, of the U.S.-Taliban deal, which included Taliban pledges to avoid attacking Afghan cities, reduce violence in general and cut ties with terrorist groups. In return, the United States agreed to gradually withdraw all troops by May, as long as the insurgents met those conditions.

In the months since the pact was signed, the insurgents have unleashed a nationwide campaign of violence, killing thousands of civilians and troops, but have stopped short of full-fledged assaults on cities.

This week, their spokesman insisted that the Helmand offensive was not aimed at Lashkar Gah, which the group has tried to capture numerous times, but at security posts in the surrounding area.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry, however, said the Taliban had “failed to fulfill their promises” under the U.S. deal with its surge of attacks in Helmand and elsewhere. The violence has sent thousands of people fleeing into Lashkar Gah for protection and medical help.

Doctors Without Borders, an international charity, reported that the city’s trauma hospital was “overwhelmed” and that a stray bullet had hit a pregnant woman, killing the fetus, although the mother survived.

As dramatic images from Helmand dominated the national news, alarm mounted. The top U.S. Embassy official and the senior U.S. military commander here appealed to the insurgents Tuesday to halt the violence. Gen. Austin Scott Miller said the assault was “not consistent with the U.S.-Taliban agreement and undermines the ongoing Afghan peace talks.”

The Oct. 7 tweet from Trump, which spurred fears among Afghans that the peace talks could collapse if U.S. forces pulled out prematurely, seemed likely, however, to further embolden the Taliban and weaken the effect of such appeals. To many, the assault on Helmand seemed a direct challenge to the U.S. commitment here.

“The Taliban control 14 districts in Helmand. They can capture areas anytime they want. They only did this to show their force to the Americans,” Hadia Helmandi, a women’s rights leader, said on ToloNews TV. “This was a massive attack that displaced thousands of poor people. They planted bombs along the highways. The generals are saying the Afghan defense forces are ready to defend us against enemy attacks, but why was nobody paying attention?”

The government belatedly sent in special operations forces, backed by Afghan warplanes, and, ultimately, limited U.S. airstrikes were launched to defend the government forces. Afghan officials said that at least 80 Taliban fighters had been killed, but on Wednesday, some were reported to still be trying to reach Lashkar Gah. On Tuesday night, two Afghan army helicopters in Helmand crashed, killing nine, officials said.

Najiba Faiz, a civil activist reached in Helmand on Wednesday, described the situation as “critical.” She said that all the security outposts in three districts had been destroyed and that their forces had either been killed, taken captive, retreated or surrendered to the Taliban.

“All the people in Lashkar Gah are up all night, staying in basements,” she said. “They are scared the city will fall at any hour.” Reports of civilian casualties in Helmand have varied widely and have not been confirmed.

Meanwhile, a man arrested Monday on suspicion of being a key player in the insurgents’ offensive was identified as a former Taliban “shadow” governor who had been recently released from prison as part of a massive prisoner swap. The government resisted at first but finally freed about 5,000 Taliban prisoners under strong U.S. pressure.

The crisis spurred conflicting opinions among Afghans about the role of U.S. forces here. Some said that they are needed more than ever and that Trump’s plan to pull them out early would encourage the Taliban to push harder. Others said that a swift U.S. withdrawal would help reduce the violence and allow the peace talks to proceed. About 4,500 U.S. troops remain in the country.

“The American airstrikes are absolutely being demanded by the people. It is the only way to push back the Taliban,” Ghulam Wali Afghan, a legislator from Helmand, said Wednesday. But he said he feared that even U.S. help would not stop the insurgents from overrunning parts of Lashkar Gah. “The clashes are intense, and there is total destruction.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/taliban-helmand-peace-talks-afghan/2020/10/14/64347d34-0dca-11eb-b404-8d1e675ec701_story.html?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1619855_

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NATO Urges Taliban to Keep ‘Promises and Reduce’ Violence in Afghanistan

By Mohammad Arif Sheva

16 Oct 2020

DOHA, Qatar – Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg says the current peace negotiations “offers the best chance” for peace in Afghanistan, but the Taliban “must keep their promise” and deescalate ongoing offensive throughout the country.

In a meeting with United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad in Doha Thursday, Stoltenberg assured NATO’s support to ongoing peace process and stability in the country.

“The Doha talks offer the best chance for peace, but Taliban must keep their promises and reduce the unacceptable level of violence,” he said in a tweet. “#NATO remains committed to #Afghanistan’s security.”

Following a meeting with the Taliban, Khalilzad said they have agreed “to re-set actions by strictly adhering to implementation of all elements of the U.S.-Taliban Agreement and all commitments made.”

But the Taliban did not immediately confirm on their agreement with the US envoy.

“At present too many Afghans are dying. With the re-set, we expect that number to drop significantly,” Khalilzad elaborated. “We will do our part and will monitor implementation actively. All parties must deliver on their responsibilities.”

More recently, the Taliban has intensified offensive throughout Afghanistan – mainly in Helmand province – where some 6,000 families have been displaced.

Local and international allies believe, the ongoing violence is in controversy to the peace deal, threatening the process.

https://www.khaama.com/nato-urges-taliban-to-keep-promises-and-reduce-violence-in-afghanistan-345345/

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Officials Foil Attempted Blast in Kabul

By Mohammad Arif Sheva

15 Oct 2020

KABUL, Afghanistan – Security forces foiled an attempted blast in Kabul Thursday, said the Ministry of Interior Affairs in a statement, after discovering a vehicle embedded with Improvised Explosive Devices (IED).

Tariq Arian, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said in a tweet that Kabul security forces discovered a vehicle fully loaded with explosive in Afghan capital.

According to Arian, the vehicle was found armed in Sang Noshta area, arresting at least three suspect who are introduced to relevant authorities for preliminary investigation.

Arian did not elaborate further about the suspects and their specific targeted area of attack, but said usually the Taliban insurgents carry such an offensive to harm Afghan forces and people.

https://www.khaama.com/officials-foil-attempted-blast-in-kabul-34534/

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Zabul Car Bomb Wounds 6 ANP members

By Mohammad Haroon Alim

15 Oct 2020

Local officials told media that a car bomb targeting security checkpoint in Zabul province on Thursday morning, wounded six policemen.

According to Hekmatullah Koshi provincial police chief, The incident occurred in the Noorak area in Shahoy district of the Zabul province when a car bomb hit a checkpoint.

Reports indicate, the Taliban has increased their offensives in the district and 15 of their fighters so far have been killed. “Clashes are still ongoing in some parts,” Tolonews Quoted Koshi.

Taliban have not yet commented over the incident.

https://www.khaama.com/zabul-car-bomb-wounds-6-anp-members-877654/

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Mideast

 

Israel approves over 12,000 West Bank settler units since Jan., sets new record high: Watchdog

15 October 2020

The anti-settlement monitoring group Peace Now says Israeli authorities have given the green light for the construction of more than 12,000 settler units in the occupied West Bank since the start of the current year, setting a record high despite strong international condemnation of the Tel Aviv regime’s land expropriation and settlement expansion policies.

“These approvals make 2020 the highest year on record in terms of units in settlement plans promoted since Peace Now began recording in 2012,” the watchdog said in a statement released on Thursday.

Peace Now said the so-called Israeli National Planning Committee approved plans for 4,948 more settlers homes during a two-day meeting held on Wednesday and Thursday.

“The count so far is 12,159 units approved in 2020,” it added, noting that the committee might hold another round of approvals before the end of the year.

“These recent approvals put to rest any speculation about a de facto settlement freeze,” the watchdog pointed out.

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said the latest approvals were of "great concern" to all those who remain committed to settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Settlement construction is illegal under international law and is one of the major obstacles to peace,” he stated, calling on Israel to immediately cease all settlement-related activities.

The latest approvals come less than a month after the United Arab Emirates and Israel agreed to a US-brokered deal to normalize relations on August 13. Under the agreement, the Tel Aviv regime has supposedly agreed to "temporarily" suspend applying its own rule to further areas in the West Bank and the strategic Jordan Valley that Netanyahu had pledged to annex.

While Emirati officials have described the normalization deal with the Tel Aviv regime as a successful means to stave off annexation and save the so-called two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israeli leaders have lined up to reject the bluff of Abu Dhabi's crown prince and de facto ruler of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, that Israel's annexation plans were off the table.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has underlined that annexation is not off the table, but has simply been delayed.

The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, has also strongly rejected UAE officials’ claim that Israel had stopped settlement annexation following a full normalization of diplomatic relations with the Persian Gulf state.

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasem said in a statement on October 1 that the constant expansion of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank has exposed the false claims of the Arab country.

Netanyahu signed agreements with Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain's Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani during an official ceremony hosted by US President Donald Trump at the White House on September 15.

Palestinians, who seek an independent state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital, view the deals as betrayal of their cause.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

Since Trump took office in December 2016, Israel has stepped up its settlement construction activities in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which pronounced settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds “a flagrant violation under international law.”

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they are built on occupied land.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/10/15/636485/Israel-approves-over-12,000-West-Bank-settler-units-since-Jan-setting-new-record-high-Watchdog

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Israel demolishes EU-funded Palestinian school in occupied West Bank

15 October 2020

The Israeli military has demolished a European Union-funded Palestinian primary school in the central part of the occupied West Bank as the Tel Aviv regime presses ahead with its land theft policies and settlement expansion on the occupied territories.

The Palestinian Information Center reported Thursday that the bulldozers escorted by Israeli forces tore down the school, east of the West Bank city of Ramallah. 

The school serves 50 students, from the Bedouin Ras al-Teen community, who otherwise would have to walk around five kilometers to access the school in nearby Al-Mughayyer village. 

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) announced on Wednesday that it was deeply concerned about the Israeli military’s planned demolition.

“These are some of the most vulnerable children, whose life is already extremely hard, and Israel as the occupying power has a duty to ensure that they get their education and basic services,” said NRC Regional Director Carsten Hansen.

“Instead, it uses its power to do the opposite, denying them their fundamental right to education and paving the way for illegal settlement expansion.”

The European Union, several of its member states, and the United Kingdom had provided humanitarian funding for the construction of the school.

The school opened at the beginning of the academic year over a month ago, and the Israeli authorities notified the building of demolition under the pretext of building without a license. However, the Palestinian inhabitants were able to obtain a precautionary order to freeze the demolition for a period of 30 days.

The Israeli military had already confiscated construction materials and tools on four occasions between August 31 and September 10 under the pretext that the structure lacked an Israeli-issued building permit.

According to the Education Cluster, a forum that coordinates the humanitarian education response, Israel has partially or fully demolished three schools in the West Bank so far this year, and 52 other schools are under threat of demolition. 

In 2019, the Education Cluster recorded 328 education-related incidents, involving access restrictions, attacks on students and staff, and destruction of education infrastructure.

Since the beginning of this year, the United Nations revealed that the Israeli authorities had demolished 555 facilities in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds.

The Israeli regime routinely demolishes Palestinian houses in the occupied West Bank, claiming that the structures have been built without permits, which are nearly impossible to obtain. They also sometimes order Palestinian owners to demolish their own houses or pay the costs of the demolition if they do not.

The United Nations (UN)’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a recent report that there had been a sharp increase in the number of Palestinian houses being demolished by Israel in the occupied West Bank during the coronavirus pandemic.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/10/15/636470/Israel-Palestine-EU-West-Bank--Al-Mughayyer--NRC-

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Spokesman Raps Trump for Using Iran as "Campaign Cudgel"

Oct 15, 2020

Khatibzadeh on Wednesday referred to Trump's republishing of a tweet from a fake account, and said, "US presidents have long used Iran as campaign cudgel. But we're reaching new lows."

"One day, Donald Trump expresses wishful fantasies of a call from Tehran. The next, he spreads wild conspiracy theories from a fake account run by a terrorist cult. MAGA one tweet at a time," he added.

MAGA stands for the slogan of "Make America Great Again," which is used in American politics and was popularized by Donald Trump in his successful 2016 presidential campaign.

Khatibzadeh's tweet referred to American officials' passing of a direct telephone number in May 2019 for the White House to the Swiss government, whose embassy represents US interests in Tehran since 1980, in hopes that Iran will contact him.

Trump publicly appealed to Iran to call him, CNN reported, amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington.

While Trump called for talks, he did not rule out military action against Iran at the time.

Trump, a stern critic of the historic deal, unilaterally pulled Washington out of the JCPOA in May 2018, and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic in defiance of global criticism in an attempt to strangle the Iranian oil trade.

In response to the US’ unilateral move, Tehran has so far rowed back on its nuclear commitments four times in compliance with Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, but stressed that its retaliatory measures will be reversible as soon as Europe finds practical ways to shield the mutual trade from the US sanctions.

Tehran has particularly been disappointed with failure of the three European signatories to the JCPOA -- Britain, France and Germany -- to protect its business interests under the deal after the United States' withdrawal.

On January 5, Iran took a final step in reducing its commitments, and said it would no longer observe any operational limitations on its nuclear industry, whether concerning the capacity and level of uranium enrichment, the volume of stockpiled uranium or research and development.

In relevant remarks in June, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a message slammed Trump's call for new talks with Iran, stressing that Tehran and other Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) parties never breached the deal.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990724000559

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Official: Iran Welcomes Azerbaijan's Proposal to Play Bolder Role in Regional Peace

Oct 15, 2020

Vaezi made the remarks in a telephone conversation with Azerbaijan's Deputy Prime Minister Shahin Mustafayev on Wednesday.

“Tehran welcomes Baku's offer on playing a more active role of Iran, Russia and Turkey in maintaining peace and stability in the region.”

He welcomed the establishment of ceasefire, and called on the governments of Republic of Azerbaijan and Armenia to maintain their ceasefire and resolve their differences through dialogue and within the framework of international law and respect for the recognized borders and territorial integrity of the two countries.

Vaezi thanked President of Azerbaijan for his message of appreciation for the position of the Islamic Republic of Iran in relation to the territorial integrity of his country, and stated, “Iran’s position and actions are to strengthen relations and show practical interest in the government and people of the Republic of Azerbaijan."

He also expressed satisfaction with implementation of agreements between Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan, specially the recent agreements raised in a telephone conversation between the two presidents.

Realization of these agreements will undoubtedly be an effective step in the process of expanding relations between the two countries of Iran and Azerbaijan, Vaezi emphasized.

Mustafayev, for his part, conveyed the message of gratitude of President of Azerbaijan, and said, “We want the development of Tehran-Baku cooperation in all areas of interest.”

He also expounded a comprehensive report on the trend of conflicts between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and emphasized, “Baku wants the key and more active role of Iran, Russia and Turkey in settling the regional problems.”

Agreements between the two countries of Iran and Azerbaijan are being implemented and pursued rapidly, he said, adding that implementation of these agreements will create an effective step towards the development of joint cooperation.

Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Rabiyee had also on Tuesday called on the neighboring states of Azerbaijan and Armenia to take part in serious talks to resolve their differences of the Karabakh issue based on respect for international laws and territorial integrity.

“We welcome the termination of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh as a step towards peace and we call on our neighbors to participate in serious talks based on respect for international laws and territorial integrity and avoid any action that disrupts the ceasefire and the first steps towards diplomacy and peace,” Rabiyee told reporters in a press conference in Tehran.

“I need to express the deep concern and regret of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran over the killing of civilians and emphasize the need to avoid a repetition of these incidents as the region and the people of our countries need peace and tranquility more than ever,” he added.

Rabiyee said that the Islamic Republic of Iran has declared its readiness to mediate, help resolve the crisis and reduce tensions between the two countries.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990724000234

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Head of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation to Visit Iran

Oct 15, 2020

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Wednesday that Abdullah Abdullah along with other Afghan officials, including members of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Afghan National Assembly and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are scheduled to visit Tehran on Sunday.

During the three-day visit, Abdullah Abdullah will hold meetings with the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Speaker Iranian parliament, the Foreign Minister, and other high-ranking officials.

Earlier this month, Iranian Ambassador to Kabul Bahador Aminian voiced Tehran's support for the Afghan government's stance concerning the peace talks in that country.

Aminian made the remarks in a meeting with Afghanistan's Second Vice President Sarwar Danesh in Kabul on Tuesday.

The Iranian ambassador stressed Tehran's support for the Afghan peace process, specially the position of the Afghan government, on maintaining the republican system and protecting the achievements made over the past two decades.

Danesh, meantime, hailed Tehran’s position regarding the peace process, saying that establishing peace and stability in Afghanistan is in the interest of all countries of the region.

He also expressed gratitude to the member-states of the Afghanistan Peace Process Support Group, including Germany, Norway, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, and Pakistan for their efforts and contributions in this regard.

The two sides also discussed a host of other issues of mutual interest and underlined cooperation in the academic, cultural and technical fields.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990724000410

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Hackers launch large-scale attack on key Iranian institutions: Official

15 October 2020

Hackers launched large-scale attacks on two Iranian government institutions this week, a senior official said on Thursday, without giving details on the targets or the suspected perpetrators.

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

Some government bodies had since temporarily shut down internet services as a precaution, Abolghasem Sadeghi, from the government's Information Technology Organization, told state TV.

“The cyber attacks which happened on Monday and Tuesday are under investigation,” Sadeghi said. They were “important and on a large scale,” he added.

Iran says it is on high alert for online assaults, which it has blamed in the past on the United States and other foreign states.

US officials said in October 2019 that the United States had carried out a cyber-attack on Iran after drone strikes on Saudi Arabian oil facilities, which Washington and Riyadh blamed on Tehran. Iran denied involvement in the attacks, which were claimed by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia.

The United States and other Western powers have also accused Iran of trying to disrupt and break into their networks.

Sources told Reuters this April that hackers working in Iran's interests had targeted the personal email accounts of staff at the World Health Organization during the coronavirus outbreak. Tehran denied any involvement.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have escalated since 2018 when US President Donald Trump withdrew from Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and reimposed sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/10/15/Hackers-launch-large-scare-attack-on-key-Iranian-institutions-Official

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Yemen’s warring sides start swap of over 1,000 prisoners

15 October 2020

Planes carrying prisoners exchanged by the warring parties in Yemen took off from three airports on Thursday in an operation to return about 1,000 men home across the front lines, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

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

The Arab Coalition and Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi militia agreed last month in Switzerland to exchange 1,081 prisoners, including 15 Saudi Arabians and four Sudanese nationals, in the largest swap since peace talks in December 2018 that have since stalled.

In a message posted on Twitter, the ICRC later said a total of five planes had taken off from Sayoun, Sanaa and Abha.

“This operation that means so much to so many families is under way,” Fabrizio Carboni, ICRC regional director for the Middle East, told Reuters, speaking from Sanaa airport.

“It is quite remarkable because they are doing this while a conflict is still active.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2020/10/15/Yemen-s-warring-sides-set-to-start-swap-of-over-1-000-prisoners-

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Africa

 

'Al Shabaab presents a future threat to America' says AFRICOM after Trump Somalia plans made public

by Abraham Mahshie

October 14, 2020

President Trump’s reported plans to pull U.S. troops from Somalia were not warmly embraced by U.S. Africa Command, which reacted hesitantly and underscored al Shabaab's continued terrorist threat to the American homeland.

“Somali Armed Forces are making progress, but the threat al Shabaab presents requires international assistance,” U.S. Africa Command’s Air Force Col. Chris Karns told the Washington Examiner.

“Al-Shabaab presents a future threat to America,” he said, “They have communicated as much in their videos and in their intent. This is a dangerous network that requires pressure placed on its forces.”

The American combatant command, which has been ordered by Trump to vacate its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, is responsible for neutralizing terrorist threats on the African continent.

In Somalia, 650 to 800 American soldiers help train Somali forces, monitor al Shabaab, conduct intelligence sharing, and other security assistance activities.

But having boots on the ground in far-flung parts of the world does not jibe with the Trump doctrine. News of Trump's desire to remove U.S. troops from Somalia was first reported by Bloomberg Tuesday.

AFRICOM forces have been part of the international effort to strengthen Somali security institutions since 2008.

Karns refused to speculate on the potential risk of pulling the troops but indicated it is an obvious boon for the terrorist group.

“Reductions of international assistance to al Shabaab could certainly bring al Shabaab an element of relief and an opportunity to recruit, fuel propaganda, and potentially grow stronger,” he said.

Drone strikes can only do so much.

In an interview with the Washington Examiner following AFRICOM's 30th drone strike in Somalia this Spring, CSIS Africa expert Judd Devermont said drone strikes remove imminent threats, but they do not build lasting institutions and a capable military. Karns said partnerships do that.

The public affairs chief refused to say whether drone strikes could continue without troops on the ground.

“I don't want to get involved in hypotheticals and speculation,” he said while noting a valued and dependable partnership with the United States also serves to counter great power competition on the African continent.

“When you look at global power competition in Africa, it is very much a place where China and Russia seek to be great and continue to prioritize activity, especially on the economic front,” he said. “In Africa, a few troops and a few bucks definitely goes a long way and serves as basic security insurance for America.”

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/defense-national-security/al-shabaab-presents-a-future-threat-to-america-says-africom-after-trump-somalia-plans-made-public

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Al-Shabab terrorists kill over dozen army troops in Somalia: Military

15 October 2020

At least 13 Somali soldiers have been killed after members of the Takfiri al-Shabab terrorist group attacked army troops northwest of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, a military official says.

On Wednesday, Somali army troops attacked al-Shabab terrorists in a jungle and farms in the vicinity of Afgoye District, some 30 kilometers from the capital, killing at least four of them and chasing the others, said Major Mohamed Ali.

“Most of the military came back and we left two dozen soldiers there. Then, this evening, al-Shabab attacked our few soldiers and killed 13,” he added late Wednesday.

Since 2006, the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militants have been waging a bloody militancy in Somalia in an attempt to undermine its central government, which is supported by the United Nations and African Union peacekeeping troops.

Despite being ousted from large parts of the south and central Somalia, al-Shabab continues deadly attacks on military and civilian targets, including at hotels, intersections, and checkpoints.

Al-Shabab militants have fought successive Somali governments as well as neighboring governments in Uganda and Kenya, the latter of which sent troops to Somalia in 2011 to fight the Takfiri group as part of the African Union forces.

Somalia, which has been ravaged by decades of war and poverty, has faced instability and violence since 1991, when its military government was overthrown.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/10/15/636450/Al-Shabab-terrorists-kill-over-dozen-army-troops-in-Somalia-Military

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Last of 21 Christians martyred by ISIS in Libya finally laid to rest after 5 years

By Samuel Smith

15 October 2020

The remains of a Ghanaian Christian beheaded by the Islamic State terrorist group on a Libyan beach in an execution video in 2015 has finally been laid to rest in Egypt.

Cairo-based journalist Farid Y. Farid reported on Sept. 29 that the body of Matthew Ayariga was finally laid to rest alongside the 20 Coptic Christians who were beheaded beside him on a beach in Sirte, Libya, in a video released by the jihadi death cult in February 2015.

“His remains finally arrived today to #Egypt to be laid to rest, w/his Coptic brothers, after 5+yrs of his body not being claimed,” Farid, who has had articles published in The New York Times and other outlets, tweeted.

Farid provided a link to an article by Watani Newspaper, an Egyptian weekly newspaper widely read by Coptic Christians. The article reports that the families of the Coptic Christians celebrated the remains of the martyr.

“We collapsed with great joy because the martyr Matthew is dear to us, and he is one of our children because he was martyred with our children and adhered to his Christ,” a mother of two of the martyred Coptic Christians told Watani News. “We thank our master because He succeeded in returning the remains of the martyr so that he would be next to his [brothers] in the church.”

The 21 men were abducted while they were living in Sirte as migrants working there to support their families back home.

Before the execution, the men were filmed kneeling in front of 21 knife-wielding black-masked jihadis on the shore of a beach in Sirte, Libya. Several of the men were seen praying silently.

Their execution video, along with the video executions of other high-profile victims in Iraq and Syria, put the world on notice about how brutally the terrorist group was torturing those it captured.

The video came at the height of the Islamic State’s reign of terror in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya, and Afghanistan.

News of the return of Ayariga’s remains was celebrated by Barnabas Aid, a United Kingdom-based Christian aid agency serving persecuted Christian communities across the world.

In a statement, Barnabas Aid noted that in the 2015 execution video, Ayariga was asked by a terrorist: “Do you reject Christ?” The militant also demanded that he follow Islam. Referring to his brothers in Christ next to him on the beach, Ayariga answered: “Their God is my God.” He was then beheaded.

“The bodies of the 20 Egyptian martyrs were flown to their homeland in May 2018, however, Matthew’s body was unclaimed,” the Barnabas Aid statement explained. “In September 2020, authorities in Libya released Matthew’s remains to Egyptian Christians to be laid to rest alongside the other martyrs.”

The 21 martyrs have been canonized as martyr saints by the Coptic Church and their deaths have not been forgotten by the church’s faithful.

The Minya village of El-Aour, where 13 of the 21 martyrs were from, has become a destination town now for Coptic Christians across the region even though it is a primitive village.

The village is now home to The Church of the Martyrs of Faith and Homeland in El-Aour, the final resting spot for the 21 martyrs. The construction of the church was ordered by Egypt President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

In February, a new museum was opened in El-Aour honoring those Christians killed by the Islamic State in Sirte. The museum will feature exhibits on the victim’s lives and go into detail as to how they were abducted and executed.

https://www.christianpost.com/news/last-of-21-christians-martyred-by-isis-in-libya-laid-to-rest.html?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1619855_

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Somalia: Somali Intelligence Agency Seize 79 Tons of Bomb-Making Sulphuric Acid

14 OCTOBER 2020

Somalia's National Intelligence and security agency (NISA) said its troops have seized 79 tonnes of sulphuric acid smuggled into the country for use by al-Shabab militants to make explosives.

"We have seized 79 tonnes of sulphuric acid and arrested a number of people who smuggled it into the country and were transporting it to the al-Shabab militants," NISA said in a tweet.

The agency added that investigations were ongoing and the suspects will be arraigned later in court.

Military court in Jubaland sentences Alshabab militant death

Police in Puntland destroy bottles of Alcohol and Hashish

Somalia Marks 66th Anniversary of Its Blue Flag

It did not reveal when the seizure was made.

This comes as the horn of Africa marks the third anniversary of the 14 October 2017 bombing in the capital, Mogadishu, that killed over 600 people.

Al-Shabab did not say it carried out the attack, although it frequently stages attacks in the capital.

https://allafrica.com/stories/202010141081.html?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1619855_

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Mozambique: Alleged Terrorist Recruiter Released

13 OCTOBER 2020

Maputo — The Mozambican police have released 39 year old Joseph Adremane Kumucho, who had initially been accused of recruiting young men to join the islamist terrorists waging war in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.

Tuesday's issue of the independent newssheet "Carta de Mocambique" reports that Kumucho was arrested by the defence and security forces on Saturday in Mueda district, and then transferred to Montepuez in the southern part of Cabo Delgado.

The newsheet's sources say that Kumucho was released after his family and friends convinced the authorities that they had arrested the wrong man.

Failure to gather sufficient evidence has been a recurrent problem for the police in Cabo Delgado, and is why many of those charged with terrorist offences have been released. In six trials held in the provincial capital, Pemba, 130 alleged terrorists were acquitted and 126 were convicted.

They were sentenced to prison terms of between two to 40 years for crimes against state security, against state organisation, for instigating violence and collective disobedience, and possession of prohibited weapons.

Most of those convicted are Mozambicans but they also include citizens of Somalia, Tanzania and Burundi.

https://allafrica.com/stories/202010140326.html?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1619855_

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Haftar’s militia fires 4 rockets at Libyan army

Walid Abdullah

15.10.2020

TRIPOLI

Warlord Khalifa Haftar’s militia on Thursday fired four rockets aimed at targeting Libyan troops deployed west of Sirte.

In a statement, military spokesman Abdul-Hadi Dara said: "Haftar's militia fired four rockets at the Buerat area located west of the city of Sirte, which is a base for the Libyan army."

Dara said the attack didn’t cause any casualties.

On Aug. 21, the Libyan government announced a truce and ordered the military to stop operations against warlord Khalifa Haftar's militias.

The army, however, has since reported several breaches of the cease-fire by militias.

Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The Government of National Accord was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement have failed due to a military offensive by forces loyal to Haftar.

The UN recognizes Fayez al-Sarraj's government as the country's legitimate authority as Tripoli has battled Haftar's militias since April 2019 in a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/haftar-s-militia-fires-4-rockets-at-libyan-army/2007381

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UN signs new cooperation agreement with Somalia

15 October 2020

The UN on Thursday signed a cooperation agreement with Somalia on working together over the next five years for achieving “peace, stability and prosperity for all Somalis,” according to a UN statement.

The UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework‘s (UNCF) agreement was signed in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu in presence of senior officials from the two sides, including Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Mohamed Guled and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia James Swan, the statement said.

The UNCF will replace the UN Strategic Framework that will expire by the end of 2020.

“Since signing of the UN Strategic Framework in December 2017, Somalia has made remarkable progress in its journey towards consolidating peace and sustainable and inclusive development, with steadfast UN support,” Swan was quoted as saying at the signing ceremony.

For his part, Adam Abdelmoula, UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for Somalia described the UNCF as “an impressive achievement of collaboration across levels of the UN, Government and other stakeholders.”

“It is through this Framework that the UN, with our partners, will further strive to address the structural causes of chronic fragility and instability that have constrained inclusive and sustainable development in Somalia for decades,” he added during the signing ceremony, according to the statement.

The recently signed agreement outlines “in particular” ways in which the UN “intends to support government-owned and government-led priorities,” it added.

“The Framework’s main pillars of activity directly mirror those of Somalia’s ninth National Development Plan (NDP-9), namely, inclusive politics and reconciliation; security and the rule of law; economic development; and social development,” the statement said.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/un-signs-new-cooperation-agreement-with-somalia/2007811

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UN: Libyan delegations agree to end transitional period

Zehra Nur Düz  

16.10.2020

Delegations from the Libyan High Council of State and the Tobruk-based House of Representatives agreed to end a “transitional period” and initiate a “permanent phase,” United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) announced Thursday. 

The two sides, who met Oct. 11-13 in Cairo to discuss constitutional arrangements, also agreed to maintain talks to reach a permanent solution to the ongoing crisis, UNSMIL said on Twitter.

The mission said it hopes the decision will “facilitate the discussions on constitutional arrangements during the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum and contribute to paving the way towards a political settlement.”

UNSMIL announced Oct. 10 that Tunisia will host the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, which will bring together political parties to the Libyan crisis at the beginning of November.

The Libyan government announced a truce Aug. 21 and ordered the military to stop operations against warlord Khalifa Haftar's militias.

The army has since reported several breaches of the cease-fire by militias.

Diplomatic efforts have been underway in recent weeks to resolve the conflict following victories by the army against the militias.

Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The Libyan government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement have failed due to a military offensive by forces loyal to Haftar.

The UN recognizes Fayez al-Sarraj's government as the country's legitimate authority as Tripoli has battled Haftar's militias since April 2019 in a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/un-libyan-delegations-agree-to-end-transitional-period/2008006

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Southeast Asia

 

Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim faces police probe over bid to become PM

Oct 16, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA: Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is set to be questioned by police on Friday over his claim that he has a list of lawmakers supporting his bid to oust the government.

Anwar met the nation's king on Tuesday to show evidence that he has majority support in Parliament to form a new government and unseat Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who only has a thin two-seat majority in the house.

Police said in a statement on Thursday they received 113 complaints over a list of 121 lawmakers allegedly backing Anwar. They didn't disclose details of the complains.

Police said they are investigating the complains under provisions in the penal code covering statements of public mischief and a multimedia law on the improper use of network facilities to harass someone. Anwar has been summoned to the police headquarters to give his statement on Friday.

Anwar, 73, has said the king will meet leaders of political parties to verify his claim but hasn't commented on the police investigation.

Muhyiddin, who took power in March after causing the collapse of Anwar's reformist alliance, has previously dismissed Anwar's claim of having secured support of a majority of lawmakers to unseat him but faced increasing pressure this week.

After Anwar's audience with the king, the key ally in Muhyiddin's ruling coalition threatened to withdraw support for the government amid anger over being sidelined despite being the biggest party.

Several lawmakers, both in the ruling coalition and the opposition, have also sought a vote of no confidence against Muhyiddin when Parliament resumes November 2. But the motion may be thwarted by the house speaker, who is aligned with the premier.

Muhyiddin has said he would leave it to King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah to decide on the political tussle, which is likely to drag on as the monarch has postponed meetings with party leaders due to restrictions imposed in Kuala Lumpur this week to stem a surge in coronavirus cases.

The king on Thursday advised political leaders to "avoid plunging the country into another political crisis" during the pandemic. In a statement, he urged politicians to settle their dispute through negotiations and under legal processes based on the constitution.

Anwar's Alliance of Hope was elected in 2018 but collapsed after Muhyiddin withdrew his party and tied up with the opposition to form a Malay-centric government in March. Then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad resigned in protest, saying he wouldn't work with parties accused of corruption that he ousted in the 2018 polls.

If Anwar succeeds, it would mark a dramatic comeback after his roller-coaster political journey since the 1990s.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/malaysias-anwar-ibrahim-faces-police-probe-over-bid-to-become-pm/articleshow/78695150.cms

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Dr Mahathir says Malaysia’s political uncertainty won’t end with Anwar as PM

16 Oct 2020

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 16 — Former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today he doubted whether Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had the numbers in parliament to take the premiership and even if he did the country would remain in political deadlock.

Anwar met the king on Tuesday in a bid to prove he has a parliamentary majority to form government and take over from Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Dr Mahathir, who mentored Anwar and many of the country’s top leaders, said even with new leadership Malaysia would remain susceptible to shifting political alliances, particularly by the Umno former ruling party.

“So the situation is very uncertain ... either way, there is going to be a situation where there is no government in the country,” Dr Mahathir told Reuters in an interview at his office in Kuala Lumpur.

Dr Mahathir, with Anwar’s backing, steered the Opposition to a historic win in the 2018 election, ending six decades of rule by Umno with a campaign against corruption.

But his administration collapsed after a bout of in-fighting earlier this year, paving the way for Muhyiddin to take the post in March with the backing of Umno.

Muhyiddin’s seven-month-old government has survived with a two-seat majority in the 222-seat parliament.

Dr Mahathir said he did not support Anwar or Muhyiddin.

The 94-year-old veteran politician and five other federal lawmakers from his new Pejuang party each submitted motions of no confidence in Muhyiddin’s leadership today.

Dr Mahathir, whose decision to sack Anwar as his deputy during his first tenure as premier sparked a 20-year feud between them, dismissed his former protege’s latest claim of a parliamentary majority.

“This is the kind of thing that Anwar is fond of saying ... Already three times he has claimed to have the support that he would be the correct prime minister, only to find that he has no support,” Dr Mahathir said.

Anwar’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Should Anwar succeed in securing the post, it would be the culmination of a 22-year long quest, which included nearly 10 years in jail on sodomy charges he denied. It would also mean Malaysia would have its third prime minister this year. — Reuters

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/10/16/dr-mahathir-says-malaysias-political-uncertainty-wont-end-with-anwar-as-pm/1913296

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Perak Islamic Dept limits mosque, surau congregation in Pengkalan Hulu

16 Oct 2020

IPOH, Oct 16 — The Perak Islamic Religious Department (JAIPk), on the advice by the National Security Council, has allowed condition opening of mosques and suraus in Pengkalan Hulu effective today, following the increase in Covid-19 cases in the district.

Its director, Datuk Mohd Yusop Husin, in a statement, said the number of congregation for obligatory prayers is limited to 13 people, including the Imam, Bilal, Siak and mosque/surau committee members, aged not more than 60 years, and to observe the social distancing of one-metre.

He said a similar condition is also set for Friday prayer.

As for suraus which had been given temporary permission to conduct Friday prayer, namely Surau Pasukan Gerakan Am Batalion 18, Surau Maktab Rendah Sains Mara Pengkalan Hulu and Surau Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Tun Saban, he said, they would not be allowed to hold Friday prayer until further notice.

Mohd Yusop said all activities, including religious lectures and classes, would also not be allowed to be held at all mosques and suraus in the district until further notice.

“Everyone, especially the committee members, is urged to adhere to the prescribed standard operating procedures to curb Covid-19 transmission,” he added.

Yesterday, a new Covid-19 cluster was identified in Perak namely Bah Pengkalan Cluster involving Hulu Perak district with six positive cases. — Bernama

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/10/16/perak-islamic-dept-limits-mosque-surau-congregation-in-pengkalan-hulu/1913275

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PAS urges ruling coalition allies to maintain support for PM Muhyiddin

By D Kanyakumari

15 Oct 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: Parti Islam Se-Malaysia on Thursday (Oct 15) rallied its partners in the ruling Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition to continue supporting Prime Minster Muhyiddin Yassin.

This came after the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) said that it might withdraw its support for PN.

PAS' secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan said in a statement on Thursday that the parties which make up the PN government should act collectively and responsibly for the sake of the people.

“PAS would firstly like to convey our thanks to the king for being able to resolve any conflict, including politics, to the point of bringing calm, harmony and stability to the country.

“We are confident that the king has acted in accordance to his prerogative and discretion as provided by the Federal Constitution and laws on the concept of constitutional monarchy,” he said.

He was referring to the king's appointment of Mr Muhyiddin to take over as the prime minister in March after the sudden resignation of Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Mr Takiyuddin, who is also a minister in the prime minister's department, said those who have been entrusted to form the government under the leadership of Mr Muhyiddin should do so effectively.

"PAS urges the parties which have been entrusted to form His Majesty's Government, now led by Mr Muhyiddin as prime minister, be given full support without hindrance to enable this government to function well and effectively.

“The Cabinet made up of Barisan Nasional, Perikatan Nasional, Gabungan Parti Sarawak, PAS and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah should act collectively and responsibly to prioritise and focus on the welfare of the people, especially in this challenging period where all parties are working hard to contain the spread of COVID-19 as well as restore the country's badly hit economy," he said.

On Tuesday, UMNO announced after its political bureau meeting that it is considering whether to withdraw its support for the PN government.

The party also said that it will set new terms in writing to continue its political cooperation with the ruling coalition.

A statement by party secretary-general Ahmad Maslan said: "All state UMNO liaison body chairmen and Supreme Council members, including those undergoing quarantine, agree with the decision."

Mr Ahmad Maslan said the meeting also suggested to the Muafakat Nasional (MN) steering committee that MN be immediately registered as a legitimate political coalition.

MN is a coalition formed by former political enemies PAS and UMNO in September 2019.

When asked if UMNO would pull out immediately from PN if the coalition refuses to accept the new terms, Mr Ahmad Maslan said further discussions would be held.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has claimed he has the support of more than 120 Members of Parliament, adding that that the king would be calling on party heads for input and to confirm the documents submitted by the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president.

However, Istana Negara said on Tuesday that Mr Anwar did not produce a list of names of those backing him during a royal audience.

Police said on Thursday that they have summoned Mr Anwar to assist investigations into a viral list of federal lawmakers allegedly backing his bid to become prime minister. 

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/malaysia-pas-urges-perikatan-nasional-parties-support-muhyiddin-13286148

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URL:  https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/munir-mengal-of-baloch-voice-association-at-un-first-lesson-in-pakistan-schools--hindus-are-kafirs-jews-enemies-of-islam/d/123164

 

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