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Islamic World News ( 15 May 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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‘Muslims Changed Voting Trend in U.P. Polls 2023, Used Discretion This Time’ That Allowed BJP or Its Allies, For the First Time, To Have a Muslim MLA

New Age Islam News Bureau

15 May 2023

 

Muslim women at a polling station in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, 2017. | Prakash Singh/AFP

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India

Karnataka Deputy CM Should Be Muslim: Waqf Board Chief

Owaisi's AIMIM Draws Blank in Karnataka Poll, Fails To Woo 13% Muslim Population

UP Local Body Polls: BJP Says Over 50 Candidates Fielded By the Party Have Won

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South Asia

In Meeting, Islamic Emirate Urged Qatar to Invest in Afghanistan: Spokesman

Balkh Governor Meets with Senior Diplomats of Several Countries

Taliban Replaces Afghan Ambassador in New Delhi, But Employees Refuse to Welcome New Changes

Bangladesh won’t buy anything from countries that impose sanctions: PM Hasina

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Southeast Asia

Govt Drops Appeal against High Court’s quashing Of ‘Allah’ Ban in Christian Publications in Malaysia

Indonesia’s trade surplus recovers after Ramadan

Indonesia becomes 3rd largest shareholder of Islamic Development Bank

LohSiew Hong continues legal challenge against three kids’ unilateral conversion to Islam

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Pakistan

Punjab Counter Terrorism Department Nab Four Islamic State, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Terrorists in Multiple Raids

Pakistan Tehreek-E-Insaf to File Cases Against Rangers, NAB Over Imran Khan ‘Abduction’

Cop martyred, another injured in Kandhkot attack

Imran accuses opponents of plotting to keep him imprisoned for 10 years

US embassy issues security alert for its citizens in Pakistan

Public property worth Rs250m destroyed in 3 days of protests in Islamabad

Pakistani Police Arrest 22 Afghans in Torkham Raids

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Mideast

Türkiye opposition claims vote count ‘manipulations’

Islamic Jihad Leadership In Gaza Destroyed - Israeli PM

Fragile truce between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad

Islamic Jihad says Gaza Truce Agreed with Israel: Officials

Hamas leader: Israel failed to drive a wedge between Hamas and Islamic Jihad

Report: Islamic Jihad using Facebook bots to hack Israelis' phones

Jihad says 11 leaders, fighters martyred in Zionist aggression on Gaza

Tehran: Image of the Iranian Resistance Leadership Displayed on Imam Ali Expressway

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North America

Navy Vet Who Claims to Have Killed Bin Laden Is the Right’s New Anti-Drag Poster Child

Biden, India's Modi Out to Deepen Their Bonds, but Geopolitical Friendships Have Their Limits

US border crossings down by half since rule change: Security chief

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Arab World

Hospitality of Hatim Al-Ta’iFestival in Hail Celebrates Icons of Arab Poetry

French Politician Looks to Boost Ties with Kingdom on Trip to Riyadh

Taif agriculture festival to kick off on Thursday

Saudi crown prince renames two Riyadh neighbourhoods after King Salman

IsDB launches revamped Member Country Partnership Strategy

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Europe

Greetings to Participants of the 14th International Economic Forum “Russia – Islamic World: Kazan Forum”

EU Commends Egypt’s Role in Cease-Fire Agreement between Israel, Islamic Jihad

Ukraine now de-facto ‘state-sponsor of terrorism’ – Kremlin

UK-supplied missiles used to strike civilians in Lugansk – authorities

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Africa

Senegal: Faction of Casamance Rebellion Inks Peace Deal

Sudanese continue to flee the country as fighting enters its fifth week

Nigeria, Jaiz Sign Finance Agreement with Islamic Trade Corporation

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/muslims-up-polls-bjp-mla/d/129782

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 ‘Muslims Changed Voting Trend in U.P. Polls 2023, Used Discretion This Time’ That Allowed BJP or Its Allies, For the First Time, To Have a Muslim MLA

 

Muslim women at a polling station in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, 2017. | Prakash Singh/AFP

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By Haidar Naqvi

May 14, 2023

Muslim voters threw up a surprise in the urban local body (ULB) election with the way they voted. Reason: This time they used their discretion rather than voting en masse for any particular party as they used to do earlier.

The pattern sends out a message to political parties that now Muslim votes should not be taken for granted. (For Representation)

The pattern sends out a message to political parties that now Muslim votes should not be taken for granted. (For Representation)

“I will say Muslims are in experimental mode. They have come out of traditional realm and put some thought behind the voting pattern as their traditional line was not working,” said Athar Hussain, director, Centre for Objective Research and Development, Lucknow.

The extension of this pattern allowed the BJP or its allies, for the first time, to have a Muslim member in the state legislative assembly. Apna Dal (Sonelal) candidate Shafiq Ahmed Ansari polled over 50% votes and won Suar (in Rampur) assembly bypoll. The Samajwadi Party (SP) had fielded Anuradha Chauhan from the seat.

The community sided with AIMIM’s Mohd Anas in Meerut mayoral election as he ended a runner-up. The SP had given ticket to senior leader Atul Pradhan’s wife from a seat where OBC Muslims are in a sizeable number.

Similarly, the community by and large backed the BSP in Saharanpur, rejecting SP candidate Ashu Malik as an outsider. Or for that matter, their support extended to the BSP in Agra, and to the Samajwadi Party in Lucknow.

Moradabad, Jhansi and Ayodhya mayoral seats saw Muslim voters tilting towards the Congress. In Kanpur, voting pattern suggest Muslims were divided between the Congress and the SP. However, they went with the SP which came second and the Congress third. Both the parties had fielded Brahmin candidates on a seat which has 20% Brahmins and 18% Muslims.

“The Muslims used their discretion in voting after a long time. It is a matter of great interest they did in an election that is largely personalised,” said Tariq Raza Fatimi, retired professor of Halim Muslim PG College, Kanpur.

“This is an important drift since the 90s. Never before they have gone to various parties syncing their preference with local equations,” he said, adding the pattern sent out a message to political parties that now Muslim votes should not be taken for granted.

“One more aspect seen in this election was the indifference in urban Muslim voters that did not come out to vote. Urban Muslims seemed disappointed and there could be many reasons the political parties need to study and fix,” Hussain said.

Source: hindustantimes.com

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https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/lucknow-news/muslim-voters-use-discretion-surprise-in-ulb-election-as-traditional-voting-line-fails-analysis-101684075497773.html

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The Taliban and the Islamic State Continue to Fight for Control of Afghanistan’s Future

 

Photograph Source: Karla Marshall – Public Domain

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By John P. Ruehl

On April 25, 2023, U.S. officials confirmed that the Taliban had killed the head of the Islamic State (IS) cell operating in Afghanistan. Though his identity has not been revealed, the IS leader is believed to have masterminded the 2021 Kabul airport attack that killed 170 Afghan civilians and 13 U.S. military personnel.

His assassination marks the latest escalation of violence between the Taliban and IS in Afghanistan this year. Several senior Taliban officials were killed or targeted in March 2023 by IS, while several IS leaders in Afghanistan were killed by the Taliban in January and February.

The Taliban, a loose Pashtun-centric political movement active across Afghanistan and Pakistan, previously ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. The U.S. withdrawal and ensuing collapse of the Afghan government in 2021 allowed the Taliban to re-establish their rule over the country, but they have been prevented from gaining full control thanks to IS, which has existed in the country since 2014.

Initially, many Taliban members were supportive of IS’s ability to seize territory and challenge U.S. and Western forces in Syria and Iraq in 2013 and 2014. Yet despite their common U.S. and Western enemies and shared hardline Sunni interpretation of Islam, the Taliban’s animosity arose after IS began to establish itself on Afghan territory and attract Afghans to its cause.

At the time, Taliban forces had failed to make territorial gains and had recently begun another round of negotiations with the U.S. government. The Taliban had also traditionally suppressed the Salafist brand of Islam in eastern Afghanistan in favor of Hanafi Islam, making IS’s Salafist leanings attractive to many Afghans in the region. There was also significant division across the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban leadership, further allowing IS to poach members.

Several high-ranking members switched allegiance to IS in 2014, which also found support from smaller regional militant groups. But of significant importance was IS’s ability to attract disillusioned members of its rival, Al Qaeda, to its ranks. Disagreements over policies, tactics, and leadership caused Al Qaeda to disavow IS in 2014, and they have competed for dominance over the global jihadist movement since. The Taliban’s close relationship with Al Qaeda only made IS more resolute in challenging them in Afghanistan.

In January 2015, IS announced its vision to create the province of “Khorasan,” which would include much of Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, and is part of IS’s effort to establish a global caliphate. The group began to expand more rapidly across Afghanistan while accusing the Taliban of being “filthy nationalists” and neglecting Islam in favor of their ethnic and national base.

As clashes between the Taliban and Islamic State in Khorasan (IS-K) intensified in 2015, the Taliban’s then-leader, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, wrote a letter to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi urging him to abandon recruitment in Afghanistan and insisting the war against the United States should be led by the Taliban. But it failed to dissuade the IS leadership, who were also aided in part by the Afghan Army’s initial decision to avoid fighting IS to focus on the Taliban.

As IS emerged as a serious threat to Afghanistan’s stability, however, both Afghan and U.S.-led international forces increasingly came to focus on the group in the country. IS targeting of religious minorities also brought it into further conflict with parts of the Afghan population. Despite an initial expansion, IS lost significant territory and fighters from 2015 to 2018, while from 2019 to 2020 many of its fighters and leaders surrendered to authorities.

The Taliban, in comparison, had steadily increased its influence in Afghanistan, convincing the Afghan and U.S. governments to commit to talks to end the war. The Doha Agreement in 2020 put forth a withdrawal timeline for foreign soldiers, saw thousands of Afghan and Taliban soldiers released in a prisoner swap, and the Taliban pledged to prevent terrorist groups from operating in Afghanistan. IS denounced the agreement, accusing the Taliban of deviating from jihad to please “their U.S. masters.”

But suggestions of IS’s demise in Afghanistan by then-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani proved short-lived, particularly as Afghanistan was engulfed by the power vacuum caused by the U.S.’s departure. IS’s numbers were also bolstered by thousands of prisoners who escaped or were freed from Afghanistan’s prisons.

While IS’s estimated 4,000 members in Afghanistan as of 2023 pale in comparison to the Taliban’s roughly 80,000 troops, its guerilla warfare campaign, similar to the one used effectively by the Taliban against U.S. forces, has made it a formidable opponent in parts of the country. By the end of 2021, the group had killed or injured more people in Afghanistan than any other country, and clashes between the Taliban and IS are common occurrences.

On top of attracting more members to IS’s ranks, the Taliban fears IS will erase what little legitimacy it has as a governing force by keeping Afghanistan unstable. The Taliban’s leadership remains plagued by division and lacks any international recognition. The Taliban is also now fighting IS-K largely alone and without the high-tech weaponry and air support enjoyed by the previous Afghan government forces. And having been beaten back in Syria and Iraq, Afghanistan provides IS-K one of the few places where it can expand, causing the group to double down in the country.

To shore up their position, the Taliban leadership has sought to engage with other governments. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are cautiously cooperating with the Taliban, while Pakistan, which has a complex history of working with the Taliban, continues to conduct dialogue with them. The Taliban is also courting India, China, and Russia, which seek to stabilize the country and potentially exploit Afghanistan’s estimated $1 to $3 trillion in mineral wealth.

Pressure is on the Taliban to get results. Chinese and Russian citizens and infrastructure in Afghanistan have been targeted by IS, drawing criticism. And though the Taliban has said it will not allow its territory to be used to attack its neighbors, IS has already tested this in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

The Taliban’s ongoing cooperation with Al Qaeda (exemplified by the assassination of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri in a U.S. drone strike in Kabul in 2022) continues to dissuade Western cooperation, coupled with the Taliban’s crackdown on women’s freedom in Afghanistan. Reversing their more radical policies could in turn instigate more defections to IS.

Having fought the Taliban for two decades, a rapprochement with the Taliban would be a difficult sell to Western audiences. But having already worked with the Taliban to evacuate its citizens in August, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley stated the possibility of coordinating with the Taliban to defeat IS in 2021. Nick Carter, his British counterpart, expressed a similar sentiment as well. U.S. officials have also stated that they “do not support organized violent opposition” to the Taliban.

With the Afghan government disbanded (many members have joined the Taliban or IS) and the weaknesses associated with the National Resistance Front, there is little viable opposition that Western forces can support. Yet The U.S. “over-the-horizon” approach to ignoring the Taliban to deal with IS and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan has its own consequences—a drone strike intended for the mastermind behind the 2021 Kabul Airport attack instead ended up killing 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children.

Nonetheless, the Taliban’s assassination of the individual responsible in April 2023 may encourage soft coordination and informal diplomacy with other countries, including the U.S. Yet because the Taliban remains dependent on cooperation with extremist groups like Al Qaeda, its formal international isolation risks becoming long-term.

Providing a haven for groups like Al Qaeda and promoting a strict interpretation of Shariah law is also a double-edged sword. These conditions helped IS establish itself in Afghanistan, aided further by the poverty and lack of basic services in many parts of the country. IS will continue to attempt to weaken the Taliban militarily, exploit its divisions, and erode its claims to have restored peace and stability to Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s instability since the 1970s remains ongoing, and the country continues to be a hotbed of regional concern, great power rivalry, and ideological clashes. While most foreign governments view IS as a greater threat, this may not be enough for the Taliban to end its vulnerable isolation and help Afghanistan achieve peace and stability.

Source: counterpunch.org

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https://www.counterpunch.org/2023/05/15/the-taliban-and-the-islamic-state-continue-to-fight-for-control-of-afghanistans-future/

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First Muslim, Nazmadih Mateem Nujan, Takes Local Gay Crown in the Final Round of the Thai Competition

 

Nazmadih Mateem Nujan, 30, centre, winner of this year's Mr Gay World Thailand. The first gay Thai Muslim to win the contest, he will now compete in Mr Gay World 2023 in South Africa on Oct 23-29.

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15 MAY 2023

In the final round of the Thai competition, hosted by the Bangkok Rainbow Organisation at Mambo Cabaret on Saturday, Nazmadih Mateem Nujan, 30, an outdoor fitness instructor, was named as winner and chosen to fly to South Africa and compete from Oct 23–29 as the first Muslim to represent Thailand at Mr Gay World.

Speaking in reference to discrimination, Mr Nazmadih praised his family for supporting him regardless of his sexual orientation.

He said he had also received considerable support from his community in KuanPrab Village in Phatthalung.

However, he was still worried that some people may not understand, as the Muslim community was diverse in its teaching.

"I think we need to communicate to those who may not understand us. There are many LGBTQ+ Muslim who have strong faith in religion but they cannot remain in the religion because the surrounding pressures keep telling them they are wrong," he said.

He said that what empowered him to be brave and bold were his family and community.

"Being crowned this year's Mr Gay World Thailand and being the first gay Muslim to get the title may help to empower other LGBTQ+ Muslims. They can still be good followers while being who they are," he added.

Mr Gay World Thailand is in its fifth year, despite firsts being held in 2017, due to Covid 19 forcing organisers to postpone the event in 2021 and 2022.

Each year has a specific theme and this year's was "This is Me". 

The competition is open to all gay males regardless of body size or shape, skin tone or even physical abilities. Of this year's field of 29, one was profoundly deaf.

A Muslim man from the South crowned as this year's Mr Gay World Thailand will compete on the world stage and represent the Thai LGBTQ+ community at Mr Gay World 2023 in October.

Source: bangkokpost.com

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https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/2570592/

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Imran Khan Arrest: ‘Afghans Involved’ In Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Riots, Violence in Peshawar

 

Photo: file

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Monday, May 15, 2023

After the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, Afghans were also involved in the riots and violent incidents perpetrated by the party supporters and workers in Peshawar.

Security sources have claimed that the PTI leadership carried out the riots by paying huge amounts to Afghan citizens.

The law enforcement agencies have released an alleged confessional statement following a spree of arrests.

The sources said confessions of three Afghan citizens have been released, while investigation with others is under way.

They added that Afghan residents were bribed by the PTI leadership.

The arrested criminals belonged to Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif, the security sources claimed.

Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir on Saturday said the armed forces will not tolerate any further attempt at violating the sanctity and security of its installations or vandalism, and resolved to bring to justice all the planners, abettors, instigators, and executors of the vandalism of May 9.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations, the army chief visited the Peshawar Corps Headquarters where he was given a detailed briefing on the prevailing security situation and ongoing counter-terrorism efforts.

Source: samaaenglish.tv

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https://www.samaaenglish.tv/news/40035092/pakistan-imran-khan-arrest-afghans-involved-in-ptis-riots-violence-in-peshawar

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Erdogan Condemns Opposition's 'Inhuman, Un-Islamic' Aim to Forcefully Expel Syrian Refugees

 

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan

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May 14, 2023

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned the main opposition candidate's policy goals toward Syrian refugees as "inhuman" and "un-Islamic", days before the landmark presidential elections are set to proceed.

Amid the months of campaigning by competing parties in Turkiye leading up to the looming presidential elections which are set to kick off tomorrow, a key policy touted by the opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu and his Republican People's Party (CHP) has been the vow to deport the 3.5 million Syrian refugees currently in the country within two years.

Speaking at a question-and-answer event at the Presidential complex in the capital Ankara this week, Erdogan called those plans "inhuman and immoral, and more importantly un-Islamic". He added that "There are doctors, engineers, and lawyers among the Syrian refugees who came to Turkey. Is it reasonable for us to expel them?"

During that same event, the president emphasised his and his Justice and Development Party's (AKP) goal of gradually returning Syrian refugees to Syria based on non-forceful and voluntary means. As part of that, he highlighted his government's construction of 100,000 houses in rebel-held northern Syria to cater to returnees.

Erdogan also denied the opposition's claim that Syrian students had been receiving preferential treatment in Turkish schools and universities.

Despite the AKP government's stated aim to gradually encourage Syrians to leave by facilitating the means of their return to Syria, human rights groups and reports have accused Ankara of forcibly returning refugees to the country through methods such as arrest on trumped-up charges, the forced signing of confessions and agreements, and their secret deportation to northern Syria.

Many Syrians and analysts, therefore, fear that there will be a sharp increase in the persecution of Syrian refugees within Turkiye regardless of who wins the elections.

Source: middleeastmonitor.com

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https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20230514-erdogan-condemns-oppositions-inhuman-un-islamic-aim-to-forcefully-expel-syrian-refugees/

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 India

 Karnataka Deputy CM Should Be Muslim: Waqf Board Chief

Monday, May 15, 2023

Karnataka Waqf board Chief Shafi Sadi on Sunday demanded that the post of Karnataka's deputy chief minister should be given to winning candidates from Muslim community.

"Out of 224 constituencies, Muslim candidates contested the election in 15 constituencies. 9 of them won. Apart from that, in 72 constituencies, the Congress won because of the Muslims support. We did campaign and awareness in all the mosques to vote for the Congress party," said Shafi Shaadi.

"Muslims played crucial role in the Congress victory. In return, we want a Muslim deputy chief minister and five important ministers’ posts like Home, Revenue, and Education. We held an emergency meeting in the Sunni Ulama board office to ensure all these are implemented," he added.

"In old Mysore, many Muslim leaders joined the JDS party. However, 88 per cent of the Muslims voted for the Congress party. Muslims were afraid of issues like hijab. In that context, the Muslim community voted for the grand old party," said Waqf Board President Shafi Shaadi. Nine Muslim candidates, all from the Congress, emerged victorious in the Karnataka Assembly polls. The consolidation of Muslim votes, which make up nearly 13 per cent of the state's electorate, seems to have worked in favour of the Congress. The party has promised to restore a four per cent quota for Muslims, which the erstwhile BJP government scrapped.

Notably, these were the first Assembly elections in the state since the controversy over hijab and the central government imposed a five-year ban on the Islamist organisation Popular Front of India (PFI). The Congress fileded15 Muslim candidates and nine of them emerged victorious. The JDS fielded 23 Muslim candidates, but none could secure a victory. Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM contested two seats and secured only 0.02 per cent of the votes polled. The SDPI - the political outfit of PFI - met a similar fate as none of its 16 candidates could open their accounts.

Source: oneindia.com

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https://www.oneindia.com/india/karnataka-deputy-cm-should-be-muslim-waqf-board-chief-3560157.html

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Owaisi's AIMIM draws blank in Karnataka poll, fails to woo 13% Muslim population

May 15, 2023

By Ritu Maria Johny

Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) drew a blank in the recent Karnataka assembly election – this is despite the fact that Muslim account for 13 per cent of the state's total population.

Although the AIMIM had made inroads into the state in 2021 with a few wins in the urban local body polls, the two candidates fielded in the Karnataka assembly election failed to make a mark.

Owaisi’s election campaign had focused on the controversies around the hijab ban, Tipu Sultan and the removal of 4 per cent reservation for Muslims by the incumbent BJP government. Owaisi had termed as "completely illegal" former chief minister BasavarajBommai government's decision to scrap the Muslim reservation.

In the run-up to the elections, the AIMIM had announced that it will contest on 25 seats. However, it ended up fielding only DurgappaKashappaBijawad and AllahbakshBijapur from Hubballi-Dharwad East and BasavanaBagewadi, respectively. While Bijawad managed to poll 5,644 votes, Bijapur secured just 1,475 votes. In spite of conducting multiple public meetings and contesting only from the two seats it reportedly had a chance to win, the minority community seemed to have rallied behind the Congress in the 2023 election. Overall, the AIMIM garnered a mere 0.02 per cent of the vote share.

Rooting for JD (S) in 1028, the party had refrained from fielding candidates in the 2018 assembly polls and the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka.

Accepting the Karnataka verdict, the Hyderabad MP told news agency PTI, “The people of Karnataka took a decision…We did not succeed there. But, the work on strengthening of Majlis (AIMIM) in states be it Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Maharashtra, Bihar, Jharkhand and Bengal will continue. We won’t be discouraged (with the poll outcome).”

On the Congress’s remarkable resurgence, Owaisi on Sunday said he hoped that the party will complete its poll promises, including revoking the scrapping of 4 per cent Muslim quota. While the Congress gave tickets to 15 Muslim candidates, nine of them emerged victorious.

Meanwhile, not one of the 23 Muslim candidates fielded by the Janata Dal (Secular), which enjoyed a strong backing from the community, could win in the 2023 polls as its seat share reduced to 19 from 37 in 2018.

Notably, the state is witnessing an assembly election for the first time since the hijab issue and the Centre’s five-year ban on the Islamist organisation Popular Front of India (PFI).

Source: hindustantimes.com

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https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/karnataka-election-results-asaduddin-owaisi-aimim-draws-blank-muslim-population-congress-victory-jds-loss-101684130940201.html

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UP local body polls: BJP says over 50 candidates fielded by the party have won

15-05-23

More than 50 Muslim candidates fielded by the Bharatiya Janata Party have won in the urban local body elections in Uttar Pradesh, the party’s minority cell chief told The Hindu on Monday.

The minister of state for Muslim Waqf, Haj and Minority Welfare, Danish Azad Ansari, told PTI that the results proved that Muslim voters were shifting towards the BJP. The claim might come under the scanner as the BJP does not have a single Muslim MP or MLA across the country.

Even in the Uttar Pradesh local body elections, the party had put up Muslim candidates in 395 of the nearly 14,500 seats – which accounts for only a 2.75% representation. However, the number is nearly twice of the BJP’s Muslim candidates in the 2017 urban local body polls, according to The Hindu.

Of the 395 Muslim candidates in the fray, 54 have managed to win, Kunwar Basit Ali, the BJP’s Minority Morcha president in Uttar Pradesh, told the newspaper. He said that the numbers could increase after all the results are announced. The party had nominated Muslim candidates for the post of Nagar Panchayat chairperson in 32 places and five of them won, Ali told PTI.

“These results highlight that Muslims have started showing confidence and faith in the BJP government,” Ali added. “The myth that the saffron party is anti-minority is getting busted.”

The party also said that 90% of its Muslim candidates belonged to the backward Pasmanda community.

The Samajwadi Party dismissed the BJP’s claims of having gained the support of the Muslims, PTI reported. It said that the BJP should tell how many Muslim candidates it would field in the Lok Sabha elections next year.

The urban local body polls in Uttar Pradesh were held in two phases on May 4 and May 11. The BJP won all the 17 mayoral seats and emerged as the single largest party in 199 municipal councils and 544 nagarpanchayats as well, according to The Indian Express.

Source: scroll.in

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https://scroll.in/latest/1049124/up-local-body-polls-more-than-50-muslim-candidates-fielded-by-bjp-have-won-says-party

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South Asia

 

In Meeting, Islamic Emirate Urged Qatar to Invest in Afghanistan: Spokesman

14-05-23

A Qatari delegation led by the country’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani arrived in Kandahar on Friday and held talks with Islamic Emirate’s officials.

Mujahid said that the Islamic Emirate requested that Qatar take steps for the improvement of relations between the international community and Afghanistan.

“We asked Qatar for their continued cooperation and to take influential steps in diplomacy to eliminate the concerns and doubts existing in some countries,” he said.

However, some diplomats said that Qatar’s Prime Minister brought an important message to the Islamic Emirate.

“Qatar itself, as the supporter of the Taliban, sent its Prime Minister to tell the Taliban that they are still a supporter of the Taliban but 'your actions affect the reputation and position of Qatar at an international level.' Another message was from regional countries since the recent (Doha) meeting about the concern about the Taliban,” said BarnaSalehi, political analyst.

“If the international community wants to improve its relations with the Taliban via Qatar, I think the major influence of Qatar cannot be ignored and they may help the Taliban in the improvement of their relations,” said NematullahBizhan, political analyst.

This comes as Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Prime Minister of Qatar spoke with US Secretary Antony Blinken and discussed bilateral relations and the situation in Afghanistan.

The US State Department also in a statement said Blinken thanked the Prime Minister for "Qatar’s partnership and important efforts to de-escalate violence throughout the recent hostilities" and "reiterated his appreciation for Qatar’s continued assistance in Afghanistan."

“The role of Qatar has been positive in the political and economic interaction of Afghanistan. As it played an important role in signing the agreement, it currently plays an important role in extensions of engagement between the Islamic Emirate and the international community,” said Abdul Latif Nazari, the Deputy Minister of Economy.

Qatar hosted the fragile peace negotiations between the US and then Islamic Emirate's political office that also resulted in a peace deal between the US and Taliban.

Source: tolonews.com

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https://tolonews.com/afghanistan-183360

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Balkh Governor Meets with Senior Diplomats of Several Countries

May 15, 2023

Taliban’s governor for the northern Balkh Province Hajji Mohammad YosoufWafa on Sunday met with the Consul General and senior diplomats of six regional countries in Mazar-e-Sharif.

On Sunday, the provincial Information and Media Center in a statement said that Governor Wafa met with the senior diplomats of six regional countries including Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in his office in Mazar-e-Sharif.

During the visit, Mr. Wafa discussed several sociocultural and economic issues bilaterally and multilaterally with foreign diplomats.

According to a newsletter published by the Information and Media Center of the Balkh province, Mohammad Yusuf Wafa in this meeting said that the international community should recognize the Taliban regime as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan, and respect it as a sovereign and independent country. 

In their turn, the representatives of the six countries in the region have emphasized on the development of cultural, educational and commercial ties between their respective countries and Afghanistan.

It was also discussed that a stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan would boost economic development, trade and connectivity in the region and beyond.

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/balkh-governor-meets-with-senior-diplomats-of-several-countries/

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Taliban Replaces Afghan Ambassador in New Delhi, But Employees Refuse to Welcome New Changes

May 15, 2023

The Foreign Ministry in Kabul has finally ordered a change in leadership at the Afghan embassy in New Delhi. Still, the embassy employees have collectively refused to welcome the Taliban’s decision.

According to the reports, the Taliban-run Ministry of Foreign Affairs has chosen Mohammad Qadir Shah, an embassy employee previously working at the diplomatic office under the republic government, to lead the embassy.

Qadir Shah has served as the embassy’s secretary in India for the past few years.

Sources confirmed that Mamondzay had been ordered to leave the embassy and be replaced as acting chief d’affaires by Qadir Shah, currently employed in the embassy.

However, Farid Mamundzay, who had been appointed the Afghan ambassador by the previous republic and continued in the post till now, in a Facebook post on Sunday evening that all recent “media rumours” are “baseless and rejected”.

The new development occurred while Farid Mamondzay, the ambassador of Afghanistan to India, was in London for his holidays. Meanwhile, sources said that Indian officials had asked Mamondzai to come up with an agreement with Mohammad Qadir Shah.

Farid Mamondzay and Qadir Shah are close aides to Afghanistan’s former foreign minister Mohammad HaneefAtmar and were appointed to the post when Atmar was a foreign minister in Kabul.

Corruption Charges at Embassy

Meanwhile, in a letter to the Taliban’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a group of representatives of Afghan nationals in India accused Ambassador Farid Mamondzay, Ziaullah Hashemi, head of the embassy’s finance and administrative affairs, and Shakib Ibrahim Ayazi, director of the embassy’s political affairs, corruption and embezzlement.

“Although the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in India has no obligation to respond to claims from unknown addresses, it assures all fellow countrymen that it has handled all its past and present affairs with full transparency to avoid the concern of its citizens,” Mamondzay said in a statement.

The statement also said that all the allegations were “baseless and rejected” and the employees in the embassy conduct work with “sincerity and commitment to the dignity and pride of their country and consider the will of their nation the criterion of past and present affairs”.

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/taliban-replaces-afghan-ambassador-in-new-delhi-but-employees-refuse-to-welcome-new-changes/

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Bangladesh won’t buy anything from countries that impose sanctions: PM Hasina

14th May 2023

Dhaka: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that Bangladesh will not purchase anything from countries that impose sanctions against it.

The prime minister made the remarks on Saturday when inaugurating the 60th convention of the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh (IEB) in Dhaka, Xinhua news agency reported.

“There is now a tendency to impose sanctions, and sanctions on those by whom we contain terrorism. We have made a decision. I have said that I will not buy anything from those who will impose sanctions,” said the prime minister.

Hasina had earlier slammed the US sanctions on officials of Bangladesh’s special security force unit Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) over alleged rights abuse, saying the move was “very condemnable act.”

She said the elite force has immensely contributed to the South Asian country’s efforts in containing militancy and terrorism.

In December 2021, the US Departments of Treasury and the Department of State imposed human rights-related sanctions on the RAB and its seven incumbent and former top officials.

Source: siasat.com

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https://www.siasat.com/bangladesh-wont-buy-anything-from-countries-that-impose-sanctions-pm-hasina-2588953/

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Southeast Asia

 

Govt drops appeal against High Court’s quashing of ‘Allah’ ban in Christian publications in Malaysia

Monday, 15 May 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — The Malaysian government has withdrawn its appeal against the High Court’s March 2021 decision, which had quashed a government ban on the use of the word “Allah” in all Christian publications in Malaysia.

Based on court records, the appeal was withdrawn through a notice of discontinuance filed on April 18.

In the notice of discontinuance filed by the Attorney-General's Chambers on behalf of the home minister and the Malaysian government, the two appellants gave notice to the Court of Appeal that they did not intend to continue with their appeal and are "discontinuing this entire appeal without order as to costs".

The appeal was initially scheduled for case management on May 19, but will no longer be brought up in court as the government has dropped the entire appeal.

The Malaysian government's appeal withdrawal marks the end of a 15-year-long legal saga, which began when the government seized a Sarawak Bumiputera's eight educational compact discs (CDs) --- which contained the word "Allah" and were for her own use.

On March 10, 2021, the High Court ruled in favour of the Sarawakian Christian from the Melanau tribe, Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill, by granting three of the court orders which she had sought.

This includes the High Court's declaration that a government directive issued by the Home Ministry’s publication control’s division via a circular dated December 5, 1986 is "unlawful and unconstitutional".

The 1986 directive by the Home Ministry said the word "Allah" cannot be used in all Christian publications in Malaysia, and this was the government ban which the High Court had found to be illegal.

The two other High Court declarations are that it is Jill Ireland’s constitutional right under the Federal Constitution’s Article 3, 8, 11 and 12 to import publications (in the form of the eight CDs which the government had seized before returning them) in exercise of her rights to practise religion and right to education; and a declaration under Article 8 that Jill Ireland is guaranteed equality of all persons before the law and is protected from discrimination against citizens, on the grounds of religion in the administration of the law ― specifically the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 and Customs Act 1967.

On March 12, 2021 the Malaysian government and the home minister filed an appeal against the High Court.

With the withdrawal of the government's appeal this April, this means that the High Court's 2021 decision still stands, and that the government's 1986 ban on the use of the word "Allah" in Christian publications in Malaysia remains quashed.

The word “Allah” is Arabic for God and had been adopted into the Malay language, and had been used for generations and hundreds of years by Malay-speaking Christians in the country --- especially those living in Sabah and Sarawak --- in the practise of their religion and professing of their faith.

Read here for Malay Mail's summary of the High Court's 96-page judgment to understand why the government's 1986 ban was found to be unlawful and unconstitutional:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2021/03/24/explainer-high-courts-96-page-judgment-on-why-malaysias-1986-allah-ban-was/1960449

The High Court's 2021 decision did not touch on theology or religious debate, but was based purely on legal and constitutional issues as well as all available evidence presented in court including historical documents ---- which documented the Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Christians' generations-long use of the word "Allah" based on Christian publications featuring this word as early as the year 1629.

Source: malaymail.com

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https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2023/05/15/govt-drops-appeal-against-high-courts-quashing-of-allah-ban-in-christian-publications-in-malaysia/69305

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Indonesia’s trade surplus recovers after Ramadan

Monday, May 15, 2023

Hanoi (VNA) - Indonesia's trade surplus in April increased from the previous month, with imports softening due to less production activities during the holiday of Ramadan, according to a poll conducted by Reuters.

According to the analysis of 14 economists in the survey, the trade surplus in April likely increased to 3.38 billion USD from 2.91 billion USD in March.

The Southeast Asian nation has been recording monthly trade surpluses since mid-2020, but economists have said it is likely to shrink this year as some commodity prices fall due to weakening global demand.

Economists in the poll predicted that April exports drop 18.55% on an annual basis due to high base effects, which will be a deeper contraction from 11.33% in the previous month.

The month’s imports were also seen declining 7.85% from the same period last year.

Faisal Rachman from Bank Mandiri said exports were seen declining in April due to less working days compared to the same month last year, which had Ramadan holiday in May.

He expected trade surplus will continue shrinking going forward as exports are expected to continue easing./.

Source: en.vietnamplus.vn

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https://en.vietnamplus.vn/indonesias-trade-surplus-recovers-after-ramadan/253053.vnp

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Indonesia becomes 3rd largest shareholder of Islamic Development Bank

Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian government has increased its shares in the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), making it the third-largest shareholder of the institution after Saudi Arabia and Libya, according to a statement released on Sunday.

At IsDB's 48th Annual Session in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, held on May 10-13, 2023, the institution’s board of governors unanimously approved the proposal to increase the Indonesian government's shares.

"I hope that by increasing the share, the cooperation between Indonesia and IsDB can improve and bring prosperity to all people," Indonesian Finance Minister Sri MulyaniIndrawati said at the IsDB annual session.

She further said that this move could provide various strategic and economic benefits for Indonesia, including increasing Indonesia's bargaining position within IsDB and increasing IsDB's financing potential to Indonesia by 3.5 to 4 times.

By becoming the third-largest shareholder, Indonesia can assert its contribution to the international community by helping determine the direction of global development through its membership in IsDB as a multilateral development bank.

Indonesia can also actively and directly participate in the operation of IsDB to improve the welfare and help eradicate poverty in IsDB member countries, many of which are low-income Muslim countries.

In addition, Indonesia will be able to further encourage IsDB's involvement in various development programs in the country, including in the Islamic economic and finance sector.

Indrawati emphasized that Indonesia is committed to closely collaborate with IsDB to provide long-term positive benefits on Muslims and the international community.

"Strengthening cooperation, especially in the face of various current global economic challenges, is the goal that will be realized in line with the increase of Indonesia's role and share in IsDB," she added.

As of December 2022, IsDB has provided US$6.3 billion financial support for Indonesia, mostly in the agriculture, education, industry and mining sectors.

IsDB is the only multilateral development bank that applies Sharia principles. The institution also promotes South-South cooperation as the majority of its members are developing countries.

Source: en.antaranews.com

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https://en.antaranews.com/news/281697/indonesia-becomes-3rd-largest-shareholder-of-islamic-development-bank

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LohSiew Hong continues legal challenge against three kids’ unilateral conversion to Islam

Monday, 15 May 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — Hindu mother LohSiew Hong today continued pursuing her challenge against the unilateral conversion of her three children to Islam, by filing an appeal at the Court of Appeal.

When contacted, Loh’s lawyer A. Srimurugan told Malay Mail the appeal was filed this morning, and that no case management dates had been fixed yet.

Srimurugan also said he will be writing to the Court of Appeal to seek earlier court dates.

In her notice of appeal filed today, Loh told the Court of Appeal that she was appealing the entire decision by the High Court on May 11, which rejected her challenge against her children’s unilateral conversion to Islam.

Source: malaymail.com

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https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2023/05/15/loh-siew-hong-continues-legal-challenge-against-three-kids-unilateral-conversion-to-islam/69329

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Pakistan

 

Punjab Counter Terrorism Department Nab Four Islamic State, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Terrorists in Multiple Raids

FAHAD BHATTI

15-05-23

Punjab Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) conducted major operations in three cities on a tip off and arrested four terrorists belonging to banned ISIS and the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

During Intelligence-Based Operation (IBO) in Sargodha, Rawalpindi and Gujranwala, explosive materials and equipment for making suicide vests were recovered from the terrorists.

The terrorists were identified as Salman, Sherzaman, Malik Asrar and Sher Khan.

CTD officials said cases have been registered against the terrorists while investigation is ongoing.

The statement reads that 51 suspects were arrested during 248 combing operations in this week alone while over 11,000 people were questioned in the combing operations.

The authorities said CTD is determined to root out the scourge of terrorism.

Source: samaaenglish.tv

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https://www.samaaenglish.tv/news/40035077/pakistan-punjab-ctd-nab-four-islamic-state-ttp-terrorists-in-multiple-raids

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Pakistan Tehreek-E-Insaf To File Cases Against Rangers, NAB Over Imran Khan ‘Abduction’

15-05-23

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has announced its intention to file cases against the Punjab Rangers and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) over what it perceives as the “abduction” of Imran Khan from the premises of the Islamabad High Court by paramilitary forces.

Additionally, the PTI firmly rejects the dissemination of what it considers to be “false, absurd, and baseless propaganda” targeting the party in relation to the events that unfolded on May 9, a day marked by violence following Imran Khan’s arrest.

The PTI emphasizes its commitment to being a peaceful and democratic political party, advocating for politics that operate within the bounds of the law.

The party asserts that throughout its 27-year history, it has remained free from violence and incitement.

Even in challenging circumstances, both the PTI and its chairman, Imran Khan, have adhered to the principles of legality.

The PTI highlights its peaceful nationwide protests, emphasizing that not a single act of aggression was committed during demonstrations on November 3 when there was an assassination attempt on former premier’s life.

The party voices concerns over efforts to manipulate controlled media and disseminate false propaganda as a means to incite nationwide riots. The PTI calls for a comprehensive investigation into deliberate attempts to sow chaos during peaceful protests, including the shooting of civilians.

The PTI demands the formation of a high-level commission comprising judges from the Supreme Court to investigate the events of May 9.

It asserts that cases should be registered against those responsible for the killings of innocent citizens during the subsequent chaotic protests following Imran Khan’s arrest.

The PTI vows to name all officers involved in attacks against PTI protesters, including the interior minister and caretaker chief ministers of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, in first information reports.

Expressing solidarity with imprisoned PTI supporters, the party states that legal action at the national and local levels will be pursued for the release of detained leaders and workers who opposed the “abduction” of Imran Khan.

The PTI strongly condemns the government’s recent ban on internet and social media access throughout the country, viewing it as an attempt to suppress the truth.

The party demands an immediate restoration of internet connectivity.

Furthermore, the PTI expresses grave concern over the control of Islamabad, particularly the Red Zone, being entrusted to the “armed private militia of a government party.” It pledges to respond with full public force.

The PTI questions the legal and constitutional validity of the caretaker government in Punjab, referring to the Supreme Court’s deadline of May 14 for elections in the province.

It asserts that the failure to hold elections in Punjab today, in accordance with constitutional and Supreme Court orders, constitutes a severe infringement upon the constitution.

During a meeting under the leadership of Imran Khan, the PTI agreed to develop a comprehensive plan of legal action regarding the future of caretaker governments in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The PTI concludes that conducting clean and transparent elections nationwide is the only constitutional approach to achieving internal stability and effectively resolving political and economic crises.

Source: samaaenglish.tv

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https://www.samaaenglish.tv/news/40035137/pakistan-pti-to-file-cases-against-rangers-nab-over-imran-khan-abduction

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Cop martyred, another injured in Kandhkot attack

15-05-23

A policeman was martyred and another injured after unidentified assailants opened fire on a police post in Kandhkot’sTangwani district on Monday.

As per details, the incident occurred when the dacoits attacked the Akbar police check post in Tangwani district, which led to a fierce gun battle between the police and the bandits.

Unfortunately, police officer Ali Muhammad Malik was martyred in the exchange of fire while his colleague, Abdullah Malik, sustained injuries.

The suspects also managed to steal government weapons before fleeing the scene.

As soon as the news of the attack broke, a heavy police force was dispatched to the area to apprehend the culprits. The police have launched an investigation into the incident and are conducting raids to arrest the perpetrators.

This is not the first incident of its kind in the region.

In the last two days, robbers have kidnapped at least six citizens, raising concerns about the deteriorating law and order situation in the area.

Source: samaaenglish.tv

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https://www.samaaenglish.tv/news/40035162/pakistan-cop-martyred-another-injured-in-kandhkot-attack

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Imran accuses opponents of plotting to keep him imprisoned for 10 years

15-05-23

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan alleged on Monday the existence of a “London plan” aimed at keeping him in prison for 10 years on charges of sedition.

Khan made these allegations in a series of tweets stating that “Using pretext of violence while I was inside the jail, they have assumed the role of judge, jury, and executioner.”

The deposed premier told his stalwarts that the ruling alliance will continue a blanket crackdown on PTI leadership and workers, adding that “finally they will ban the largest and only federal party of Pakistan. (Just as they banned the Awami league in East Pakistan).”

JUI’s sit-in just to overawe CJP

Commenting on JUI-F sit-in outside the top court against legal eagles, the PTI supremo said the JUI’s “drama” being done outside the SC is only to overawe the Chief Justice of Pakistan so that he [CJP Bandial] doesn’t give a verdict according to the constitution.

Imran’s message to masses

Mr Khan vowed that he will fight for HaqeeqiAzaadi till the last drop of his blood because his death is preferable to be enslaved by “this assortment of crooks.”

“I urge all my people to remember that we have pledged LA Illah ha illalah, that we bow to no one except the One (Allah). If we bow to the idol of fear there will only be humiliation and dismemberment for our future generations,” added Imran Khan.

Source: samaaenglish.tv

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https://www.samaaenglish.tv/news/40035159/pakistan-imran-accuses-opponents-of-plotting-to-keep-him-imprisoned-for-10-years

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US embassy issues security alert for its citizens in Pakistan

Monday, May 15, 2023

The US Embassy in Islamabad has canceled all routine consular appointments for Monday (tomorrow).

The embassy issued a security alert on Sunday due to the potential for road closures and/or traffic delays.

The alert further said the embassy remains open and available for emergency services, though it continues to restrict movements of embassy personnel to official and mission-essential travel only.

US Consulates General in Karachi and Lahore are open for routine consular appointments, the notification further said.

It reminded US citizens of potential disruptions to mobile phone service and that they should have contingency communication plans in place if traveling in-country.

“US citizens are urged to pay attention to local media for security updates and planned road closures and maintain good situational awareness and security wherever they travel in Pakistan,” it added.

The US embassy strongly encourages its citizens to avoid large gatherings, unnecessary travel, and remain vigilant of their surroundings and to comply with all established security checkpoints.

Source: samaaenglish.tv

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https://www.samaaenglish.tv/news/40035098/pakistan-us-embassy-issues-security-alert-for-its-citizens-in-pakistan

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Public property worth Rs250m destroyed in 3 days of protests in Islamabad

Monday, May 15, 2023

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s violent protests in Islamabad on May 9 have caused a loss of billions to the national treasury.

As per an assessment, government property worth Rs250 million was destroyed over three days of violent protests in the federal capital.

Moreover, 12 cars and 34 motorcycles as well as the office of the Industrial Area SP were burnt to ashes.

The Tarnol, Sangjani and Ramna police stations were also attacked by armed protesters.

Eleven FC personnel and 71 police officers and officials were injured in the violence.

Furthermore, 26 cases have been registered against the culprits and 564 people arrested.

Following the violent protests, arson and vandalism by supporters of the PTI workers after the arrest of Imran Khan, the number of criminals arrested in the last five days in Punjab has reached 3,185.

According to the Punjab government, more than 300 culprits who attacked the Corps Commander House (Jinnah House) have been arrested, while the process of profiling more than 300 others has also been completed.

The Punjab Police spokesman claimed the identification of the culprits is under way with the help of social media accounts and CCTV footage.

Source: samaaenglish.tv

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original

https://www.samaaenglish.tv/news/40035095/pakistan-public-property-worth-rs250m-destroyed-in-3-days-of-protests-in-islamabad

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Pakistani Police Arrest 22 Afghans in Torkham Raids

May 14, 2023

Pakistani security personnel have detained 22 Afghan citizens in different parts of Torkham town.

Pakistani Police said that during raids on several parts, including the Bacha Mena border area in Torkham on Saturday, they detained 22 Afghan citizens.

The Police said they detained Afghan nationals staying in Pakistan without illegal documents. He also said the arrestees would be brought before the court on Monday.

The Police added that the raids occurred in the Torkham Market and the Bacha Mena border area due to several robberies.

For decades, Pakistan has generously hosted millions of Afghan refugees to live a peaceful life, work, and educate.

On the other hand, it has been reported that thousands of Afghan refugees have recently returned to the country from Pakistan.

Some Afghan returnees came home voluntarily, while others were compelled to leave Pakistan.

Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, most migrants have left the country due to persecution, lack of employment, and security concerns.

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/pakistani-police-arrest-22-afghans-in-torkham-raids/

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Mideast

 

Türkiye opposition claims vote count ‘manipulations’

14 May, 2023

 The leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has urged the Supreme Election Council to act “responsibly” and hurry up with the release of the presidential election results, claiming that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party is “blocking the will of Türkiye.”

“My dear nation, they are blocking the system with repeated objections at ballots where we have higher votes,” Kilicdaroglu told reporters at party headquarters in Ankara on Sunday night.

“You cannot prevent what will happen through objections. We will not allow a fait accompli,” he said, according to Al Jazeera.

Erdogan’s AK Party in turn accused the rival candidate of “an attempt to assassinate the national will,” with spokesperson Omer Celik calling the opposition’s claims “irresponsible.”

The outsider candidate, SinanOgan, also chipped in with claims that his camp has “heard that some manipulations are carried out in the overseas vote counting processes.”

“We will not allow a fait accompli with a manipulation of foreign votes. Do not stress the environment. This is up to the second round,” Ogan tweeted.

The chairman of the Supreme Election Council, AhmetYener, dismissed accusations from the opposition that it was delaying the results, saying earlier on Sunday that the data is being entered into the system and shared with media and political parties “instantaneously.”

The election body has yet to finalize the count and announce the official results, but if no candidate wins at least half of the vote, a run-off will be held on May 28.

With more than 96% of the ballots counted, Erdogan’s initially comfortable lead has fallen to 49.4% – just below the 50% majority needed to avoid a runoff, according to Anadolu. His main opposition rival, Kilicdaroglu, has 44.9%, while SinanOgan is a distant third with 5.3%.

While the majority of the domestic votes are already counted, most of the ballots cast outside of the country are yet to be tallied. The breakdown may also change depending on how the election body deals with the votes cast for MuharremInce, who had withdrawn from the race but nevertheless received around 0.5%.

Source: rt.com

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https://www.rt.com/news/576289-kilicdaroglu-erdogan-suppressing-vote/

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Islamic Jihad Leadership In Gaza Destroyed - Israeli PM

15-05-23

Israel’s prime minister says his forces have eliminated virtually the entire leadership of Tehran-backed Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet on Sunday: “We changed the equation thwarting the entire top echelon of the Islamic Jihad in Gaza."

Netanyahu commended the success of the operation "Shield and Arrow" in the Gaza Strip during the meeting.

As part of the operation, which lasted almost five days, the Israeli military killed several Islamic Jihad commanders and targeted strategic positions and weapons stocks.

A ceasefire was agreed between Israel and the Palestinians on Saturday evening, and came into effect at 11 p.m. It has so far been respected.

Netanyahu did not mention the ceasefire. However, according to The Times of Israel, National Security Adviser TzachiHanegbi thanked Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi for facilitating the agreement.

Washington welcomed the ceasefire agreement on Saturday, thanking Egypt and Qatar for their efforts.

The latest round of confrontation did not involve Hamas, and only Iran's main ally, the Islamic Jihad took part.

Iran urged Hamas to join Islamic Jihad in the new round of attacks following the killing of three militants in Gaza, Iran International had learned.

According to informed sources, Tehran exerted strong pressure on Hamas to repay assistance it has received over the years, and unite with Islamic Jihad to launch a fresh wave of attacks.

During the conflict, the terror group fired nearly 1,300 rockets, including about 1,000 rockets that hit Israeli territory. Two people were killed in Israel and 33 killed in Gaza.

Source: iranintl.com

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original

https://www.iranintl.com/en/202305149109

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Fragile truce between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad

14.05.2023

A fragile truce in Gaza brokered by Egypt between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, meant to end five days of fighting between the two sides, went into effect at 10 pm Saturday and lasted until Sunday, Jerusalem Post reports.

Israeli National Security Adviser TzachiHanegbi thanked the President of Egypt Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on behalf of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and expressed Israel's gratitude for Egypt's “vigorous efforts to bring about a ceasefire,” PM's Office said.

Mohammed al-Hindi, a senior representative of Islamic Jihad, who was called to Cairo last week for urgent talks with Egyptian intelligence officials, told the television network Al Jazeera that his group would maintain the ceasefire regime "as long as Israel does."

Source: news.am

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original

https://news.am/eng/news/759855.html

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Islamic Jihad says Gaza Truce Agreed with Israel: Officials

2023-05-14

KABUL (BNA) Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group in Gaza have agreed to a truce that has officially been in effect since 10pm (19:00 GMT), Palestinian officials have said, signalling an end to the worst episode of cross-border fire since a 10-day war in 2021.

Egypt, which brokered the ceasefire, called on all sides to adhere to the agreement, Egypt’s Al-Qahera News television channel reported on Saturday.

“In the light of the agreement of the Palestinian and the Israeli side, Egypt announces a ceasefire between the Palestinian and the Israeli side has been reached,” read a text of the agreement seen by Reuters, and added the truce would begin at 10pm.

“The two sides will abide by the ceasefire which will include an end to targeting civilians, house demolition, an end to targeting individuals immediately when the ceasefire goes into effect,” it said.

Islamic Jihad confirmed a truce had been reached. “We declare our acceptance of the Egyptian announcement and we will abide by it as long as the occupation [Israel] abides by it,” said the group’s spokesman, Dawoud Shehab.

The Israeli military confirmed to Al Jazeera that there will be a “situational assessment” regarding the ceasefire, according to Willem Marx reporting from Ashkelon, Israel.

Shortly before the truce was to take hold, Israel reported a heavy burst of Palestinian rocket fire towards southern and central Israel, while Israel said it was attacking targets inside Gaza. After the 10pm deadline, Israel reported additional rocket fire, and Israeli media said warplanes were responding.

The latest violence erupted Tuesday when Israeli air raids killed three senior Islamic Jihad commanders. Israel said the attacks were in response to a previous burst of rocket fire the previous week and that its attacks have been focused on Islamic Jihad targets.

But residents in Gaza said homes of people uninvolved in fighting also had been struck.

In response, Islamic Jihad fired more than 1,000 rockets, sending Israelis fleeing into bomb shelters.

The fighting has killed 33 Palestinians inside Gaza, including at least 13 civilians. Two people were killed by rocket fire in Israel, including an 80-year-old Israeli woman and a Palestinian man from Gaza who had a permit to work in Israel.

Islamic Jihad spurns coexistence with Israel and preaches its destruction. Top ministers of Israel’s religious nationalist government rule out any state sought by Palestinians in territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

Source: bakhtarnews.af

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https://bakhtarnews.af/en/islamic-jihad-says-gaza-truce-agreed-with-israel-officials/

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Hamas leader: Israel failed to drive a wedge between Hamas and Islamic Jihad

May 15, 2023

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said on Sunday that the Palestinian Arab “resistance organizations” succeeded, through their joint operations room, in taking the reins of the military initiative in managing the "revenge of the free people" campaign against Israel and thwarting its attempt to impose a new equation.

In a statement published following the end of Operation Shield and Arrow, Haniyeh said that the resistance organizations proved their ability to stop the "arrogance of the occupation" in its attempt to differentiate the Islamic Jihad in the military campaign and to drive a wedge between the Palestinian Arab resistance organizations.

In the face of these attempts, Haniyeh continued, the “resistance organizations” acted as one man and in full coordination to achieve the goals they set for themselves and to prevent the "enemy" from realizing his goals.

The organizations forced Israel to evacuate the "settlers" from the communities surrounding Gaza and to take serious security measures everywhere within the range of the rockets, claimed Haniyeh.

He praised the Islamic Jihad for the pioneering role it played within the joint operations room in a way that emphasized the unity of the fight on the ground and in the political arena which, he claimed, was one of the most important factors in thwarting the "enemy's" plans.

"First and foremost by the grace of Allah, and then with the support of our mighty people in the victorious resistance organizations, we were able to disrupt the plans of the occupation and damage its security systems, especially the so-called Iron Dome or David's Sling, and the resistance organizations established their ability to strike anywhere in the entity, even though it prides itself on its military and technical capabilities," said Haniyeh.

Source: israelnationalnews.com

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original

https://www.israelnationalnews.com/news/371431

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Report: Islamic Jihad using Facebook bots to hack Israelis' phones

May 14, 2023

Over the weekend, the Digital Research Division of the ImTirtzu Zionist activist group monitored a number of profiles suspected of being operated by the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization and other suspicious profiles working to hack into the phones and computers of Israeli citizens by distributing malicious links.

The activity was first identified in social media groups of residents of southern Israel, and was later reported in groups affiliated with the national camp, current affairs groups, and more. Some profiles have been running for years and boast thousands of followers.

DovTrachtman, Head of Digital Research, said: "This is a particularly disturbing phenomenon. Trying to lure citizens into malicious links posing as lottery sites, vacation booking sites, sites for watching free sports and especially dating sites.

This has several purposes: First, access to personal information and access to bank accounts, social networks, or classified and sensitive information if soldiers or officials are involved. It is also possible that by operating cameras and microphones remotely, they will try to degrade people or even blackmail them into performing various actions.

The recommendation is to always be suspicious of links from strangers, no matter if they have 100 friends or 15,000 followers. Keep antivirus software intact and, of course, report and warn others about any suspicious activity."

Source: israelnationalnews.com

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https://www.israelnationalnews.com/news/371420

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Jihad says 11 leaders, fighters martyred in Zionist aggression on Gaza

[14/May/2023]

GAZA May 14. 2023 (Saba) - The Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine said on Sunday that 11 of its leaders and fighters were martyred in the Zionist aggression on Gaza, which lasted for five days.

According to the Ma'an news agency, the Al-Quds Brigades, the movement's military wing, named it "The Revenge of the Free," for the revenge operation that led to the martyrdom of five fighters, except for six of its commanders.

The Brigades the Jihad Movement mourns a group of eleven martyrs from its leaders and fighters, who rose in the heroic battle of "Revenge of the Free", during assassinations and targeting carried out by the treacherous Zionist enemy.

The brigades considered, "The blood of the martyrs will remain a shining beacon for the fighters towards the path of glory and dignity, the path of Jerusalem and the liberated al-Aqsa."

The Brigades added "The assassination of the leaders will not stop the march of Al-Quds Brigades and the Resistance, but rather their blood will fuel the continuation of the confrontation and struggle until liberation and return."

Source: saba.ye

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https://www.saba.ye/en/news3240149.htm

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Tehran: Image of the Iranian Resistance Leadership Displayed on Imam Ali Expressway

14th May 2023

On Thursday evening, May 11, around 10:00 pm, the Resistance Units utilized outdoor projectors to display an image of Mr. MasoudRajavi and Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the Leaders of the Iranian Resistance, along with the phrase and slogan of “Hail to Rajavi” on Imam Ali expressway in Tehran.

Source: ncr-iran.org

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https://www.ncr-iran.org/en/ncri-statements/statement-iran-resistance/tehran-image-of-the-iranian-resistance-leadership-displayed-on-imam-ali-expressway/

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North America

 

Navy vet who claims to have killed Bin Laden is the right’s new anti-drag poster child

15-05-23

A Navy SEAL vet who claims to have killed Osama Bin Laden is the new poster child for the right-wing anti-drag movement.

It has been widely reported by conservative news outlets that a decorated Navy SEAL veteran, who claimed to be the person who shot dead the Al-Qaeda leader, has been criticising a US Navy recruitment campaign that features a drag queen.

Former SEAL team six member Robert O’Neill wrote on Twitter on 3 May: “All right. The US Navy is now using an enlisted sailor drag queen as a recruiter. I’m done. China is going to destroy us. You got this, navy. I can’t believe I fought for this b******t.”

O’Neill’s tweet has been viewed more than three million times, with 40,000 likes and more than 7,000 retweets.

His tweet was a reference to Joshua Kelley, a yeoman second class who also performs as a drag queen under the name Harpy Daniels.

Kelley, who is non-binary, served as one of five ambassadors in the navy’s digital ambassador pilot programme between October and March. The scheme was pat of an effort to encourage people to enlist and to recruit from a more-diverse pool of people.

Despite the fact O’Neill expressed outrage about the ambassador scheme two months after its six-month run, his ire has now been picked up by the New York Post, the Daily Mail and Fox News, who used it as a stick with which to once more beat drag queens.

The right-wing news outlets shared condemnations from other military personnel who described the navy as a “disgrace” and an “insult”.

Attacks on drag are sweeping the US

In the US, drag queens and the wider LGBTQ+ community face increasing legislative attacks from conservatives, with hundreds of anti-queer bills being introduced across the nation.

The laws seek to ban drag performances, restrict access to gender-affirming care for adults and minors, ban trans people from using toilets that matches their gender, and to roll back anti-discrimination protections.

The drag bans are part of a wider conspiracy theory that claims drag queens are “groomers” out to harm children, with far right and white supremacist groups protesting against drag shows and doxxing drag stars.

O’Neill went on to criticise Kelley and the navy on the Fox Business networ, telling talk show Varney & Co that the “military needs to be ferocious [not] fabulous”.

Now an author and motivational speaker, O’Neill said: “We don’t join the military to express ourselves.

“All we have in common is that we’re afraid that we get our heads shaved. Then we’re part of a team, and our job as a military is alliance, solidarity, forward defence and deterrence.”

Dear America podcast host Graham Allen also weighed in, saying on Twitter that America’s enemies laugh at the navy and it is not the same organisation he served in.

However, in response to the backlash, Kelley told their 8,000 Instagram followers: “Haters only hate when we’re winning. Queer people were oppressed in the military for years until 2011 and trans people since 2021.

“You only want to support the military when it benefits you and doesn’t involve queer people. Yet the military is the [most] diverse and adaptable organisation in the US.

Kelley also said that being a “service member, a queen and an open queer person” means that Allen does not scare them. “You won’t stop the LGBTQ+ community thriving,” they concluded.

Source: thepinknews.com

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https://www.thepinknews.com/2023/05/14/bin-laden-robert-j-oneill-joshua-kelley-drag-us/

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Biden, India's Modi Out to Deepen Their Bonds, but Geopolitical Friendships Have Their Limits

May 15, 2023

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has made it a mission for the U.S. to build friendships overseas — and the next few weeks will offer a vivid demonstration of the importance he's placing on a relationship with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The two are both scheduled to attend this week's Group of Seven summit in Japan, a subsequent gathering of Pacific island leaders in Papua New Guinea, and a later meeting of Indo-Pacific leaders in Australia. Those travels will be followed by a June 22 state visit by Modi to Washington, a sign that both seem willing to deepen their bonds.

But like many geopolitical friendships, things are complicated between the world's largest economy (the U.S.) and its most populous nation (India).

The personal outreach has a clear strategic calculus as both countries respond to China's economic rise and increased global prominence. Yet while Biden champions democratic ideals and openly opposes Russia for invading Ukraine, Modi has offered tepid criticism of Russia and opponents say he is eroding India's democratic traditions.

That means the future of the alliance depends on a degree of patience.

“It’s a long game of steady forward movement in defense relations and some fairly rapid intensification of business ties — with the pace of both determined by the speed of movement on the Indian side,” said Kurt Tong, a former ambassador for the U.S. who is now managing partner of The Asia Group, a consultancy.

Biden last year publicly called India’s response to the war in Ukraine “shaky.” India abstained from voting on U.N. resolutions condemning Russia and refused to join the global coalition against Russia. Modi had a relatively warm relationship with Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, and has made some efforts to forge a connection with Biden, who is known to focus on his Irish roots even when meeting with leaders of other nations.

When Modi came to Washington in September 2021, he brought with him documents about people with the last name “Biden” in India.

“Are we related?” Biden asked.

“Yes,” Modi joked.

While visiting Canada in March, Biden said he's made it a strategic goal to improve relations with the rest of the world as he feels that America's leverage against China and Russia is through its alliances.

“I have now met with 80% of the world leaders just since I’ve been president,” he said. “We’re the ones expanding the alliances. The opposition is not.”

Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a biographer of Modi, said the Indian leader's connection with Biden is not personal — and has its limits. But it is necessary for the U.S. to keep India on its side as tensions with China have accelerated over Taiwan, the federal government's ban on exporting advanced computer chips to China and human rights issues.

“To what extent can India be part of the U.S.-led alliance, that is for Modi to decide," Mukhopadhyay said. “At some point or the other, the Americans would realize that Modi is not really going the whole hog as much as they would like India to be. But Modi will not get swayed by meeting Biden several times.”

Nirupama Rao, a retired diplomat who served as Indian ambassador to the U.S., said India has its reasons for not joining the condemnation of Moscow.

"The country wants Russia to maintain some distance from China, and it worries that isolating Moscow would just push it closer to Beijing,” she said. Relations between India and China are strained, with the two sides embroiled in an intense three-year standoff involving thousands of soldiers stationed along their disputed border in the eastern Ladakh region.

Rao said U.S. policymakers should not mistake India’s involvement in the so-called Quad — whose other members are the U.S., Japan and Australia — for an alliance. India is also in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a group dominated by Beijing and Moscow. It routinely attends trilateral meetings with China and Russia. It also continues to participate in the forum known as BRICS, which stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

“So far, India has done an impressive job of maintaining its balancing act," she said. “Whether it can continue to do so in the years ahead is an open question. Beijing has become increasingly belligerent, and it may eventually decide it will not deal with India if New Delhi strengthens its security ties to Washington.”

Both the U.S. and India have been emphasizing technology partnerships, including defense, clean energy and space. During Modi’s visit to the U.S. in June, the two leaders are also expected to discuss common challenges, including climate change and health security.

Russia is India's largest supplier of military hardware. But India has been reducing its dependence on Russian arms by diversifying its purchases, buying from the U.S., France, Germany and other countries. The U.S. defense trade with India has risen from near zero in 2008 to over $20 billion in 2020.

The U.S. imported about $86 billion in goods from India last year, according to the Census Bureau. That figure has steadily increased, but it has room to grow as the U.S. still gets more goods from Taiwan and Vietnam than India. With more than 1.4 billion people, India is about 14 times the size of Taiwan and Vietnam combined.

There are some risks for Biden as he devotes more time to Modi, with advocates for human rights wary of the Indian leader's track record. The freedom of the news media in India has been challenged after Modi became prime minister in 2014. Political rivals of Modi’s governing Hindu nationalist party have accused him of stifling dissent and introducing divisive policies that discriminate against Muslims and other minorities.

Modi's Hindu nationalist party also suffered a political setback as India’s main opposition Congress party won control of the southern Karnataka state, according to a near complete vote count Saturday. The victory could help unite the largely divided opposition in next year's general election, in which Modi will seek a third consecutive term as prime minister.

Yet for Biden, developing a personal rapport out of public view might be critical for overcoming any differences with Modi.

“In this case, the investment is worth it,” said Lisa Curtis, director of the Indo-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, a think tank. “There are a lot of things that President Biden can say privately to Prime Minister Modi that could end up having a favorable impact on U.S.-India relations.”

Source: usnews.com

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https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2023-05-15/biden-indias-modi-out-to-deepen-their-bonds-but-geopolitical-friendships-have-their-limits

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US border crossings down by half since rule change: Security chief

May 14, 2023

WASHINGTON: US border authorities have seen a 50 percent drop in "encounters" with undocumented migrants crossing the southern border since the country's Title 42 migration policy ended, the country's homeland security chief said Sunday.

"Over the past two days, the United States border patrol has experienced a 50 percent drop in the number of encounters, versus what we were experiencing earlier in the week," Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas told CNN talk show "State of the Union."

"We are in Day Three," Mayorkas cautioned, adding "it is too early" to predict the rate of future crossings.

Title 42 allowed the United States to swiftly expel a wide array of migrants on public health grounds, but that authority ceased Thursday when the government ended its declaration of Covid-19 as an official public health emergency.

Instead, the country has reverted back to an immigration law known as Title 8, as President Joe Biden's administration tries to create a system that allows for expanded asylum and legal routes in some cases.

It also provides for strict penalties for those crossing who do not qualify, including five-year bans on entering the United States and possible criminal charges.

Preparing for the end of Title 42, the Biden administration had initially braced for a surge in border crossings, deploying troops to the border.

Mayorkas said approximately 6,300 people crossed Friday, with 4,200 crossing Saturday, numbers he described as "markedly down" compared to the 10,000 per day crossing earlier in the week.

Representative Mark Green, the Republican chairman of the homeland security committee in the House of Representatives, disputed accounting.

"This week has seen more crossings than any week in our history," Green told CNN, attributing that to a surge in people crossing the border ahead of Title 42's ending.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/us-border-crossings-down-by-half-since-rule-change-security-chief/articleshow/100232452.cms

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Arab World

 

Hospitality of Hatim Al-Ta’i festival in Hail celebrates icons of Arab poetry

May 14, 2023

RIYADH: The Hospitality of Al-Ta’i festival, which was held in Hail from May 5-13, has come to a close.

The festival, part of the Year of Arabic Poetry initiative with the support of the Quality of Life Program, introduced visitors to the poet Hatim Al-Ta’i, who lived in the pre-Islamic period in Hail province.

A renowned historical figure, famed for his poetic works, generosity and horsemanship, the remains of his palace, tomb, and his famous fireplace in the village of Tuwairan in Hail remain for people to see to this day.

The festival included a package of cultural activities and events that embodied the life of the poet and his work, reflecting the culture of the region during his lifetime.

Visitors were offered a creative journey that started with the children’s Utba area, which included coloring, pottery making, weaving, and bracelet making.

After that, visitors moved on to the performance Awarid area, which represented important stages of the history of Al-Ta’i starting from his childhood, through his youth, and into middle and old age, exploring the wisdom and advice he accrued along the way.

A visual presentation about the life of Al-Ta’i, titled “About the Poet of Ta’i,” was presented, shedding light on the symbols of Arab poetry, and passing through the stages of the poet’s flourishing life, in which he became a witness to the authenticity, morals, and values of the Arab people, and a model for others to follow.

The About the Life of Al-Ta’i area presented a lively model of the poet’s social life, represented by an “interactive exhibition” that took visitors back to the 6th century A.D. and gave them the chance to discover the world at that time through virtual reality technology.

In the Cooking area, the Ministry of Culture presented live cooking demonstrations and hospitality that emulated Al-Ta’i’s generosity, and provided a glimpse into his family life and stories.

In the Diwan Hatim area, literary figures and poets took to the stage to chronicle the life of Al-Ta’i through their own poems and readings of his biography, evoking his history through unexplored aspects of his works.

The festival was part of the the Ministry of Culture’s plans to celebrate the icons of Arab poetry, such as Al-Ta’i, Antara ibn Shaddad, Labid ibn Rabiah, Zuheir ibn Abi Salma, Imru’ Al-Qais, and Al-A’sha.

This stems from the belief in the importance of poetry and poets in the cultural history of the Kingdom, and the revival of its rich cultural heritage, presenting it in contemporary creative forms through the use of modern technology and exceptional talents. This way, the ministry seeks to enhance national identity and transform the Kingdom’s culture into a way of life.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2303291/saudi-arabia

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French politician looks to boost ties with Kingdom on trip to Riyadh

May 14, 2023

RIYADH: A politician who represents French people living in the Middle East will arrive in Riyadh on Sunday to promote cooperation between France and Saudi Arabia in the fields of medical education and nursing.

Amal Amelia Lakrafi, a member of parliament for La Republique En Marche, is expected to meet various officials to discuss topics including health, women’s rights and education, as well as talking to members of the French community and business leaders.

Lakrafi last visited Saudi Arabia in December alongside Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade, Economic Attractiveness and French Nationals Abroad Olivier Becht and representatives of several French companies.

On the back of that trip, French public transport operator RATP and private firms Idverde and Amane Advisors signed contracts and memorandums of understanding to work more closely with Saudi authorities.

Speaking in French, Lakrafi told Arab News: “These deals are part of the Franco-Saudi cooperation to support the development of the AlUla region. The contract signed by RATP aims to develop a sustainable and intelligent transport system to serve the inhabitants of AlUla and its visitors.

“The memorandum of understanding signed with Amane Advisors focuses on modernizing services for more sustainable waste management, and the one with Idverde concerns the landscaping of AlUla’s territory.”

As part of the Saudi Vision 2030 economic diversification program, the Kingdom has set a goal to increase its annual tourism revenue to $46 billion by 2030. It is committed to developing and promoting its archaeological heritage and diverse landscapes like AlUla.

“It is clear that Saudi Arabia has a clear goal of opening up to international tourism … going beyond religious pilgrimages,” Lakrafi said.

“We see this very concretely from France, with easy access to tourist visas or through advertising campaigns developed by Saudi operators. This tourist ambition will necessarily find its audience.”

The Kingdom is home to more than 500 French teachers who play a key role in ensuring that the more than 150,000 French speakers in the country are provided with good quality education. Negotiations are also taking place at the highest level for the reintegration of French-language teaching in Saudi public schools.

“I am delighted that the reintegration of French is under discussion,” Lakrafi said. “This would deepen our linguistic cooperation. By extension, this could also strengthen France’s academic cooperation with Saudi Arabia. I think there are many things we can do to strengthen our relationship.”

Speaking about the social reforms that have happened in recent years in Saudi Arabia, Lakrafi said: “Every time I travel, I see a significant change in the place of women in Saudi society. The advancement of their rights is a definite step forward for their empowerment. But beyond that, I see that they are more and more visible: in positions of responsibility, in universities where they are numerous to conduct courses of excellence, in the media or at the head of companies.

“I am convinced that a dynamic and modern society cannot prosper without women. But I also know that change doesn’t happen overnight, and I want to salute and encourage the progress Saudi Arabia has made on this issue in a very short time.”

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2303106/saudi-arabia

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Taif agriculture festival to kick off on Thursday

May 14, 2023

RIYADH: The Seasonal Agricultural Products Festival will kick off on Thursday in the central district of Taif, behind Bab Al-Hazm. It will be held under the patronage of Prince Saud bin Nahar bin Saud, governor of Taif.

Majid bin Abdullah Al-Khalif, director general of the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture’s branch in Makkah region, said that “this festival will be held with the participation of governmental and non-governmental bodies, in addition to more than 30 farmers, beekeepers and productive families from the governorate.” 

The festival will showcase various seasonal agricultural products in Taif, including apricots, apples, honey and ghee, and will host a series of events over five days.

Hani bin Abdulrahman Al-Kadi, manager of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture’s office in Taif, confirmed that the governorate will host many festivals in the upcoming months.

He said that “the ministry is keen on supporting and encouraging farmers to increase their production” and “highlighting the importance of marketing their diverse agricultural products” through these festivals.

Al-Khalif and Al-Kadi thanked the governor of Taif for sponsoring the festival and for his interest in the governorate’s agricultural sector.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2303311/saudi-arabia

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Saudi crown prince renames two Riyadh neighbourhoods after King Salman

May 14, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the renaming of two Riyadh neighborhoods after his father King Salman as part of efforts to develop them.

The “Al-Waha” and “Salah Al-Din” neighborhoods have been renamed as the “King Salman Neighborhood,” where the area will be redeveloped to have imporved basic services, and recreational activities, Saudi state agency SPA reported on Sunday.

Located in the heart of the capital with an area of 6.6 sq km, adjacent to King Salman Park, the neighborhood will also have Salmani architecture, a style that embodies tradition and modernity.

These development efforts aim to stimulate population and economic growth, according to SPA.

The renaming of the neighborhoods was made to honor King Salman's five decade-long provincial leadership of Riyadh.

This project comes within the developmental and environmental efforts of the crown prince in a push to upgrade the city of Riyadh and placing it on the world map as one of the most important economic and tourism capitals in accordance with Vision 2030, SPA said.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2303161/saudi-arabia

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IsDB launches revamped Member Country Partnership Strategy

May 14, 2023

Jeddah: The Islamic Development Bank launched the revamped Member Country Partnership Strategy this year at the bank’s annual meeting event.

The launch focused on four of its member countries — Niger, Pakistan, Guyana and Uzebekistan.

The event was attended by distinguished governors and delegations from member countries, and the aim was to focus on the strategic development projects and programs in the member countries.

Mohammed Al-Jasser, the chairman of the Islamic Development Bank and the chairman of the IsDB Group said: “The revival of member country partnership strategy is the key instrument for the bank’s strategic programs as part of the IsDB group’s commitment to develop member countries priorities as laid out in their national development plans.”

After the unprecedented disruption caused by the pandemic, the bank witnessed setbacks. However, 2022 marked its revival, and in 2023 the bank has focused on making the MCPS more implementation focused.

Al-Jasser said that it “effectively addresses the various developmental challenges facing our member countries, while reducing constraints.”

He added: “We have once in a lifetime opportunity to build back better and create a more sustainable and equitable future for all. So let us continue to invest in the future and the well-being of all people and the planet.

“Let us continue to build partnerships and collaborations across sectors and regions to achieve our common goals. Together, we can achieve impactful partnerships leading to economic diversification and sustainable development. We must prioritize partnerships and work collaboratively to ensure that no one is left behind.”

At the end of the session, Al-Jasser signed four memorandum of understanding with AbdouRabiou, minister of planning of Niger; Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, minister for economic affairs of Pakistan; Ashni Singh, senior minister, office of the president of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana; and the acting alternative governor of Uzbekistan.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2303086/saudi-arabia

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Europe

 

Greetings to Participants of the 14th International Economic Forum “Russia – Islamic World: Kazan Forum”

May 15, 2023

The message reads, in part:

“Once again the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan extends a warm welcome to guests from many countries and confirms its status as a reputable and popular platform for holding major representative business events.

Russia enjoys traditionally close, trust-based relations with Muslim states, both bilateral and as part of our interaction with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. These relations are built on partnership, respect for each other’s sovereignty and civilisational identity. We are united by a common desire to create a more just multipolar world order that is based on international law.

The Islamic world is actively developing and has important accomplishments in trade, finance, innovations and applied scientific research. Russia is open to extensive business and cultural cooperation with Muslim countries. We are interested in strengthening the existing ties and finding new partners, as well as in promoting agricultural and industrial cooperation and creating new transport and logistics chains. I want to note that Russian Muslims play an important role in expanding international contacts. The holding of today’s Forum is proof of that.

I am sure that the activity of the Russia-Islamic World strategic vision group and the KazanForum International Economic Forum will continue to help strengthen interaction between the business communities of Russia and Muslim countries and will open new opportunities for joint projects at the interregional and interstate levels.”

Source: en.kremlin.ru

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http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/71126

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EU commends Egypt’s role in cease-fire agreement between Israel, Islamic Jihad

May 15, 2023

The EU commended Egypt’s role in concluding a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Islamic Jihad.

“The EU commends Egypt for facilitating the agreement, and the United Nations for its positive role in this context,” the EU said on Sunday.

“The EU deeply deplores the loss of civilian lives over the past days, including children, killed and injured in the Gaza Strip and in Israel,” it added.

The statement stressed the importance of securing a cease-fire, opening the crossings, and being able to deliver humanitarian aid and fuel to the Palestinian territories.

The EU was ready to work with all partners to provide assistance in achieving peace for both Israelis and Palestinians, the statement said, and in restoring conditions for a political settlement.

Source: egyptindependent.com

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https://www.egyptindependent.com/eu-commends-egypts-role-in-cease-fire-agreement-between-israel-islamic-jihad/

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Ukraine now de-facto ‘state-sponsor of terrorism’ – Kremlin

14 May, 2023

Ukraine has de-facto turned into a “state-sponsor of terrorism,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said. The official made the remarks in an interview with journalist PavelZarubin that aired on Sunday.

The spokesman was asked for comments about a recent pledge by Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Kirill Budanov, who vowed to “keep killing Russians anywhere” across the globe. Despite their explosive nature, the remarks did not face any criticism from Kiev’s Western sponsors, Peskov noted.

“The statement is unprecedented in its essence. And of course, it will be strange not to hear any words of condemnation from European capitals and from Washington. Logic says it’s impossible to do without condemnation,” he said.

Budanov’s admission was yet further proof that Kiev has been directly orchestrating terrorist attacks against Russians, Peskov added. The spokesman said that Russia’s “special services know what to do after such statements,” but did not elaborate on the potential countermeasures against such activities.

The controversial remarks were made last week by the boss of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Main Directorate of Intelligence (GUR) in an interview with Yahoo News. Budanov boasted that “we’ve been killing Russians” and will “keep killing Russians anywhere on the face of this world until the complete victory of Ukraine.”

The statement came in response to a question whether the GUR had anything to do with last year’s murder of Darya Dugina, a journalist and daughter of prominent Russian philosopher AleksandrDugin. Budanov dismissed accusations of engaging in terrorism, stating that what Russia calls “terrorism, we call liberation.”

The terrorist activities that Moscow has attributed to Kiev have picked up in recent months. In April, for instance, Russian military blogger VladlenTatarsky was killed in St Petersburg with an improvised explosive device that had been concealed in a statuette handed to him during an event. The blast killed the blogger on the spot and injured over a dozen others. Russia’s Security Service (FSB) has blamed the blast on “Ukrainian special services and their agents, including fugitive members of the Russian opposition.”

Last week, Russian author and political activist ZakharPrilepin was targeted in a car bombing near the city of Nizhny Novgorod. The blast left Prilepin critically injured, and killed his close associate, who was inside the vehicle at the moment of the attack.

Source: rt.com

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https://www.rt.com/russia/576280-ukraine-terrorism-state-sponsor/

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UK-supplied missiles used to strike civilians in Lugansk – authorities

14 May, 2023

Ukraine’s military used UK-supplied long-range missiles to target civilians in the Russian city of Lugansk, resulting in several children being injured, according to Russia’s Ministry of Defense and local authorities.

In a statement on Saturday, the ministry said that a Ukrainian air strike on the Poly-pack food processing factory and the Milam home goods store in central Lugansk a day earlier had used Storm Shadow missiles. The attack came despite London’s assurances that those weapons would not be used to target civilian facilities, it claimed.

Several houses were damaged and a number of people, including six children, were wounded, the ministry stated, adding that Russian aircraft shot down the Ukrainian Su-24 bomber that had conducted the strike on Lugansk, as well as an MiG-29 fighter accompanying the aircraft.

Initially, the Joint Center for Control and Coordination (JCCC), which tracks Kiev’s attacks on the Donbass, identified the projectiles that hit Lugansk, long considered to be out of range of Ukrainian artillery, as Grom missiles.

It later clarified that the strike involved two Anglo-French Storm Shadow missiles and a US-made ADM-160B decoy missile.

On Saturday, the JCCC claimed that Kiev fired another Storm Shadow at the village of Yubileiny, west of Lugansk. It added that the strike injured one elderly woman, damaged windows in seven houses while wrecking garages, 15 cars, and a power line.

The Lugansk People’s Republic, along with three other former Ukrainian territories, was incorporated into Russia last autumn following public referendums that saw overwhelming support from the local populations.

On Thursday, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed earlier media reports that the UK had provided Ukraine with low-observable Storm Shadow missiles, which have a range of more than 250km (150 miles). The Russian Foreign Ministry denounced the move as an “extremely hostile step by London” that “clearly confirms the unprecedented level of British involvement” in the conflict.

Source: rt.com

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https://www.rt.com/russia/576263-uk-missiles-strike-civilians-donbass/

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Africa

 

Senegal: Faction of Casamance rebellion inks peace deal

15-05-23

A new step on the road to peace for Casamance. A historic handshake on May 13 gathered the head of the Diakaye fighters, the governor of the Ziguinchor region and the representative of Senegal's government.

In Senegal's southern region of Casamance, a rebellion has killed over 5000 people, forcing thousands to displace. Fighters from the Diakaye faction have now agreed to lay down arms.

"I am motivated by the will to save my brothers and sisters and the women of the masquis," Fatoma Coly, the commander of the Diakaye faction says.

"Casamance has no enemies. When I was offered the position of commander, I was clear with Diakaye’s leadership. I let them know that I am not a bloodthirsty man. I agree to lay down arms, if it is to bring peace and not to spread terror."

The breakthrough comes after several years of negotiations.

It also follows last march’s signature of the Act II of the peace agreement signed between the state of Senegal and the Initiative for the reunification of the political and military wing of the Movement of the Democratic forces of Casamance. The state’s negotiator was hopeful for lasting peace.

"We must work together to consolidate peace, including through grassroots development actions, as we aim to find a definitive solution to this long-standing crisis," AmiralFarbaSarr explained. "We hope to have the support and assistance of all the populations, since they are at the heart of all the concerns."

"These now ex-fighters of Diakaye faction of the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance took a strong action. They were one of the hard-line factions of the rebellion that has shaken Senegal’s South for mover than 40 years. As they agree to lay down arms, they bring back the hope of a definitive return to peace in a very rich region," journalist Wahany Johnson Sambou.

Source: africanews.com

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https://www.africanews.com/2023/05/15/senegal-faction-of-casamance-rebellion-inks-peace-deal/

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Sudanese continue to flee the country as fighting enters its fifth week

As fighting in Sudan entered a fifth week, air strikes pummelled Khartoum Saturday, even as representatives of the country's warring factions continued meeting in Saudi Arabia for talks to prevent a "humanitarian catastrophe".

Meanwhile, Sudanese continue to flee the ongoing fighting between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

At the Argeen border with neighbouring Egypt, new families arrive every day, making the 1,000 kilometre journey from Khartoum through the desert in search of safety.

But not everyone has the financial means to be able to leave.

"The bus ride costs $250 a person. Then there’s the official tariffs on both sides of the crossing and rental for a place to live in Egypt. Not everyone can afford this, it's a large expense," said evacuee WahagGafar Ibrahim.

She said the trip was “really tiring and scary", adding that the war in her country had "affected everyone".

Another issue is that of holding a passport to enable them to enter Egypt.

"Some families lost their passports in the war, or they can't afford to get one. They are living in the middle of a war zone. I hope they will find someone to help them flee," said Sudanese bus owner, Ayman Mohamed.

The latest arrivals in Egypt are some of the almost 200,000 people who have escaped Sudan, in addition to the hundreds of thousands who have been displaced internally.

They’re carrying small suitcases, all they could bring with them from their lives back home as Ibrahim explained.

"There is no solution. I don’t see a solution. The Rapid Support Forces won’t surrender and the army is unable to change the situation. And we are lost between them. We left our homes, families, papers, diplomas, and our interests. We left our country."

The United Nations says over half a million people have fled Khartoum alone, with hospitals in the capital shelled and rampant looting reported as residents suffer under chronic shortages of food, electricity, and medicine.

Hopes for a ceasefire remain dim after multiple truces were violated in past weeks.

On Saturday, Sudan launched a call to the international community, including the United Nations, the African Union, and other regional organisations, "to provide humanitarian assistance".

The government said it was committed to "dedicating the port and airports of Port Sudan" on the Red Sea, Dongola airport in the country's north and WadiSeidna air base near the capital "to receive aid".

Civilians and aid groups have repeatedly pleaded for humanitarian corridors to secure vital assistance, as aid agencies have been systematically looted and at least 18 humanitarian workers killed.

Source: africanews.com

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https://www.africanews.com/2023/05/14/sudanese-continue-to-flee-the-country-as-fighting-enters-its-fifth-week/

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Nigeria, Jaiz Sign Finance Agreement With Islamic Trade Corporation

By Salim Umar Ibrahim

Sun, 14 May 2023

The Federal Republic of Nigeria and the International Trade Financing Corporation (itfc) has signed a one billion dollars framework agreement for the next couple of years.

Jaiz Bank has also signed a $10 million agreement for the Murabaha financing facility.

The signing ceremony took place on Saturday at the four day 2023 Group Annual Meetings of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) ongoing in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Speaking shortly after signing the agreement, the minister of finance who led Nigeria’s delegation at the meetings, Zainab Ahmed said the relationship between Nigeria and the ITFC will continue to grow looking at the positive impact it is making.

“ITFC is one of the high performing subsidiaries of the IsBD, we have a strong presence in Nigeria supporting businesses largely the energy sector and also agriculture and trade and they have been doing that through partnerships with financial institutions operating in Nigeria.

“Today we signed a framework agreement that charts the roof of our partnership over the next couple of years with the ITFC.

“Also, today, it signs agreement with Jaiz Bank for the benefit of one of our state. They continue to work with us to improve the performance of businesses and thereby improving the growth of our economy.

“Our hope and target is to see that itfc triples its portfolios in Nigeria within the next year’s coming.”

She called on the corporation to continue to render their support to the countries and also improve the capacities of not just companies but also the sovereign government.

On his part, the Managing Director, Jaiz Bank, SurajoSalisu while expressing his gratitude said, “we are happy with this trade finance line for our customers, when we go back home, it will surely go a long way to assist our customers.

“Where governments are coming to sign agreements for their countries, we are here as a private institution to sign for ourselves, it definitely shows how great we are performing.

“Our partnership with the itfc has been for five years now and there was no disappointment, that is why you Jaiz Bank is joining among ministers and governments signing for itself.

“Hundred percent our business is localised and will be utilised locally and additional foreign exchange will come into the country with great turnover. It will be of benefit to the country, to our people and the Islamic bank.”

Source: dailytrust.com

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https://dailytrust.com/nigeria-jaiz-sign-finance-agreement-with-islamic-trade-corporation/

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