New Age Islam
Tue Aug 11 2020, 06:03 PM

Islamic World News ( 4 March 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Muzaffarnagar: Muslims Agree To Remove Mosque for Bridge Construction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The project had remained stalled for the past 10 years with the religious structure playing as a major hindrance

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Muzaffarnagar: Muslims Agree To Remove Mosque for Bridge Construction

Ayodhya Row: Another Islamic Scholar, Delhi Minority Commission Chairman, Backs Shifting Of Mosque

Sarawak Could Allow Converts to Renounce Islam

US, Afghan Leaders Agree On Peace Push, Taliban Don’t

Anti-Muslim 'Incidents' Surge in Germany, Spain

Israeli Planes Spray Palestinian Farmlands in Gaza with Toxic Herbicides

 

India

Muzaffarnagar: Muslims Agree To Remove Mosque for Bridge Construction

Ayodhya Row: Another Islamic Scholar, Delhi Minority Commission Chairman, Backs Shifting Of Mosque

Britain to Take Up ‘Persecution’ Of Religious Minorities In India

With LoC on Edge, Hope Dims On Normalising India-Pakistan Ties

Shashi Tharoor: India strengthening security cooperation with Gulf countries

Chorus in Jammu for Rohingya Eviction, Ads in Newspapers

40,000 Rohingyas Trying To Settle Down In West Bengal, Warn Intelligence Agencies

Terrorist, 3 accomplices killed after attack on patrolling party in J&K

LeT militant, civilian found dead near gunfight site in J-K’s Shopian, death toll reaches 6

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Southeast Asia

Sarawak Could Allow Converts to Renounce Islam

Thailand’s Refusal to Recognise Rohingya as Refugees Leaves Them in Illegal Limbo

Canadian preacher pays Zamihan RM30, 000 security cost

Indonesia Reaffirms Support for Peace building Efforts in Afghanistan

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North America

US, Afghan Leaders Agree On Peace Push, Taliban Don’t

New US Advisers Hope To Give Afghan Soldiers Vital Boost

Iran’s missile program part of national sovereignty: Analyst

Mueller investigates possible UAE effort to buy political influence

Florida Billboard Labels NRA 'Terrorist Organization' In Rising Gun-Control Campaign

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Europe

Anti-Muslim 'Incidents' Surge in Germany, Spain

Greece Not Seeking Swap of Soldiers with Turkey

French, Iran leaders discuss regime attacks in Syria

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Mideast

Israeli Planes Spray Palestinian Farmlands in Gaza with Toxic Herbicides

Netanyahu, In Washington, To Invite Trump to US Embassy Opening In Jerusalem Al-Quds

Scores killed as Houthis fight Saudi mercenaries outside Sana'a

Intelligence Ministry Official: Iranian Security Forces Foil Tens of Terrorist Plots

US embassy in Turkey to be closed over ‘security threat’

Palestinian man shot, injured over alleged car-ramming attack

Yemen: The international community must unite to stop export of Iranian weapons to the Houthis

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Pakistan

Efforts On For Union of Religious Parties

Feudal Lords Defeat Ideological Politics: Siraj

All Muslim Leaguers should unite, say Arbab, Chaudhrys

PUC rallies in solidarity with Syrian Muslims

JI chief says ‘waderas’ still not defeated in Karachi’s politics

New US advisors hope to give Afghan soldiers a vital boost

Police seek access to Nadra, FBR, SBP records

Army committed to Balochistan’s development: COAS

Successful conduct of Senate elections victory of whole nation: Marriyum Aurangzeb

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Arab World

Iraq Government Urged To Seize Assets of Saddam Cronies

Egyptian Delegation Meets with Islamic Jihad Movement's Leader

4 soldiers, 10 jihadists killed in Egypt Sinai campaign

Syria's Assad vows to continue anti-terror operations in eastern Ghouta

Syria regime retakes quarter of rebel enclave as civilians flee

KSA Crown Prince Begins First Foreign Tour In Egypt

Syrian Army Imposes Control over 20% of Eastern Ghouta

Syria: Terrorists Shell Medical Centre in Eastern Damascus

Over 2,600 Kurdish Fighters Killed, Captured in Turkish Army Operation in Northern Syria

Syrian army forces secure humanitarian corridor in Eastern Ghouta

659 civilians killed in Eastern Ghouta since February: UN

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South Asia

Talks at Impasse as Taliban Seek Direct Negotiations with US

Afghan Forces Confiscated 21 Rockets in Nangarhar Province

15 Hurt as Bangladesh Chhatra League Factions Clash at Islamic University

Bangladesh: Commander of terror outfit Ansar al-Islam arrested

NDS arrest ISIS members involved in deadly Kabul mosque attack

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Africa

Algeria Attacks False Qatari Media Reports of Conflict with Saudi Arabia, UAE

Boko Haram: Sultan Reveals Plan for Victims’ Children

IS video 'shows deaths of US soldiers in Niger ambush'

Al-Qaeda affiliate claims responsibility for Burkina Faso attacks

UN suspends aid work in northeast Nigeria after militant attack

Kenyan police seek to recover cache of arms after Al-Shabaab attack

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/muzaffarnagar--muslims-agree-to-remove-mosque-for-bridge-construction/d/114486

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Muzaffarnagar: Muslims Agree To Remove Mosque for Bridge Construction

Feb 16, 2018

MUZAFFARNAGAR: The long-pending construction work of an over bridge in Muzaffarnagar city could now see the light of the day after members from the Muslim community gave their consent to remove a roadside mosque affecting the project.

The project had remained stalled for the past 10 years with the religious structure playing as a major hindrance.

However, the locals held a meeting and decided to remove the mosque for the betterment of the area and smooth flow of traffic.

The district administration had made adequate security arrangements to deal with any eventualities considering the sensitivity of the issue.

However, the demolition drive was conducted under peaceful atmosphere and no untoward incident was reported from the spot.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/meerut/muzaffarnagar-muslims-agree-to-remove-mosque-for-bridge-construction/articleshow/62945654.cms

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Ayodhya Row: Another Islamic Scholar, Delhi Minority Commission Chairman, Backs Shifting Of Mosque

Mohammed Wajihuddin

Mar 5, 2018

MUMBAI: A day after senior cleric and sacked member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board Maulana Salman Nadvi said he would not push for an out-of-court settlement to the Ayodhya dispute, another senior Islamic scholar and Delhi Minority Commission chairman Dr Zafrul Islam Khanhas supported Nadvi’s views on an out-of-court settlement, and on shifting of the mosque away from the disputed site in Ayodhya. He, too, is in the eye of the storm since a few Urdu news portals carried his opinion on Saturday.

Delhi-based Khan, who is a former president of All India Muslim Majlise Mushawarat, an umbrella body of over 40 Muslim organisations, in a piece he penned on Saturday, backs Nadvi for making efforts to end the dispute but disagrees that Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravishankar could have convinced Hindu organisations to accept the formula. “Maulana Salman Nadvi’s suggestion is logical but who will listen to Sri Sri Ravishankar? Involve the government, the SC or the RSS and take parties on board,” he said. Defending Nadvi, he said he has known him for the last three decades as a learned person. “I have differed with him but never doubted his integrity,” he said. “Maulana Nadvi capitulated to pressure but I will not,” he added.

When told that AIMPLB has repeatedly reiterated its stand that Muslims would wait for the SC verdict and ‘once a mosque always a mosque’, Khan, an alumnus of the Cairo-based famous Islamic seminary Al-Azhar explained: “There is no textual (Quran or Hadith, the Prophet’s traditions) to support this claim.”

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/ayodhya-row-another-islamic-scholar-backs-shifting-of-mosque/articleshow/63165121.cms

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Sarawak could allow converts to renounce Islam

Mar 05, 2018

The Malaysian state of Sarawak announced it would amend state laws on conversion, following a court case involving three people seeking to have their conversion to Islam reversed.

Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg said on Saturday that amendments would be made to the state's religious law, providing an administrative solution for apostates.

"We will amend any weaknesses in our syariah laws in dealing with apostasy cases. There must be an SOP because we cannot leave people hanging," said Datuk Abang Johari, referring to the need for a standard operating procedure.

"If that person wishes to leave (the faith), why not let him leave?" he added.

On Feb 27, the apex court dismissed the appeal by three Sarawakian Muslim converts and a Muslim by birth to have their case heard by the civil court. The applicants were seeking to have their identity cards and official records reflect that they are now Christians.

The country's Islamic law is governed at the state level and Sarawak's syariah court had earlier ruled that it did not have the jurisdiction to issue the Letter of Release from Islam, a document required by the National Registration Department to amend the religious status in official records. The deadlock had led to the applicants filing for their cases to be allowed a hearing in the civil court instead.

The Federal Court's ruling last month stated that although there wasn't a provision within the state's syariah court ordinance related to renunciation of Islam, there are provisions under the state's Islamic religious council which can be used by the Islamic court.

Malaysia requires non-Muslims marrying Muslims to convert to Islam if their marriage is to be recognised by local laws. The three Muslim converts in Sarawak had married Muslims but decided to return to Christianity upon divorcing or after the death of their spouse.

While Malaysia is a Muslim-majority nation, Sarawak has a higher number of Christians than Muslims, the only state with such statistics. In the last census in 2010, Sarawak recorded 1.04 million Christians, or 44.2 per cent of its population. There were 710,815 Muslims, accounting for 30.2 per cent.

Promising to plug loopholes in state religious law, Mr Abang Johari said: "Give me six months to do this. Sarawak must have a liberal and practical policy."

Sarawak leaders of opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan commended the move, saying that it's "not a Muslim versus Christian issue, but merely honouring the rights of the people to freedom of religion".

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/sarawak-could-allow-converts-to-renounce-islam

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US, Afghan leaders agree on peace push, Taliban don’t

5 March 2018

WASHINGTON: Despite US support, the Afghan government’s surprising new peace offer to the Taliban is immediately running into a wall. The insurgents show no sign of shifting from their demand that talks for a conflict-ending compromise take place with Washington, not Kabul.

The impasse is blocking a diplomatic path out of America’s longest-running war and could prove as fateful as fortunes on the battlefield.

The Trump administration says it’s escalating pressure on the Taliban to advance a negotiated solution to the fighting. But diplomacy is a distant second to military efforts right now, and the US isn’t offering carrots of its own to persuade the insurgents to lay down their arms.

Laurel Miller, who until last June was a senior American diplomat for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said the US should be clearer about what it’s willing to negotiate on, including when it might start pulling forces from Afghanistan. “That could set the stage for talks,” she said.

Such a timetable seems a remote prospect, and President Donald Trump has consistently railed against the idea of telling the enemy when the US might leave. The US involvement in the Afghan conflict is now in its 17th year, and 10,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in 2017 alone. All sides are hung up on even the format for potential negotiations. The Obama administration’s peace push, which relied heavily on Afghanistan’s neighbor Pakistan, floundered in 2015.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s new effort, announced at an international conference in Kabul this past week, includes incentives for insurgents that join negotiations and enter the political mainstream. The government would provide passports and visas to Taliban members and their families, and work to remove sanctions against Taliban leaders, he said. The group could set up an office.

Alice Wells, America’s top diplomat for South Asia, endorsed the overture and said the “onus” was on the Taliban to demonstrate they’re ready to talk, “not to me or the United States, but to the sovereign and legitimate government and people of Afghanistan.”

With wounds and emotions still raw in Kabul after a wave of brutal Taliban attacks in Kabul in late January, Ghani’s offer was a significant olive branch. Still, it’s one unlikely to change the calculus of hard-line insurgents, said Michael Kugelman, senior associate for South Asia at the Wilson Center think tank.

And Barnett Rubin, a New York University expert on Afghanistan who advised the Obama administration, said: “The trouble is that the major issue the Taliban is interested in talking about is the one he has no control over — the presence of American troops in Afghanistan.”

Top Afghan security officials maintain back-channel discussions with Taliban, The Associated Press has learned, but the officials’ efforts are not coordinated and more formal talks are impeded by the Taliban’s insistence that its “Islamic Emirate,” ousted in a US-led invasion in 2001 for hosting Al-Qaeda, remains Afghanistan’s legitimate government.

“America must end her occupation and must accept all our legitimate rights including the right to form a government consistent with the beliefs of our people,” the militant group said in a rambling Feb. 14 letter addressed to the American people and “peace-loving congressmen.” It sought “peaceful dialogue” with Washington.

Events on the ground are moving in the opposite direction.

Since August, when Trump recommitted America to an indefinite military presence in the country, the US has sent in thousands of additional forces to train Afghans, bringing the total US troop figure to more than 14,000. The US has intensified airstrikes, though there has been no significant dent on the Taliban, which control or contest nearly half the country.

Shortly after a Taliban suicide bomb using an ambulance that killed more than 100 people in Kabul, Trump declared on Jan. 29: “We don’t want to talk with the Taliban. There may be a time, but it’s going to be a long time.”

US officials have conveyed messages to Taliban political representatives in Qatar, urging the group to join talks with the Afghan government. Neighboring countries are doubtful about America’s commitment to a political resolution. Pakistan, Iran and Russia are thought to maintain ties to militant proxies inside Afghanistan in case the war-ravaged country collapses.

Miller, now a senior foreign policy expert at Rand Corp., said peace would require heavy lifting by the Trump administration, which has yet to appoint a top diplomat for the region. The war might need international mediation.

“It’s not enough to say the door is open, let’s have a peace process,” she said. “You have to make it happen.”

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1259201/world

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Anti-Muslim 'incidents' surge in Germany, Spain

Mar 05, 2018

There were 950 attacks reportedly on Muslims and mosques in Germany in 2017, according to new government figures.

In Spain, more than 500 Islamophobic incidents were recorded in the same year, including incidents against women and children and several mosques, according to a civil society group.

Islamophobia in Germany

Special category: Last January, German police began registering Islamophobic crimes under a special category, after calls by the country's Muslim community to take more serious measures against the growing number of anti-Muslim hate crimes.

In most of the incidents, the perpetrators were part of Germany's far right, according to the ministry.

Death toll: In Germany, at least 33 Muslims were injured in the attacks, which included assaults against Muslim women wearing headscarves and attacks against mosques and other Muslim institutions, the Interior Ministry said in its reply to a parliamentary question.

The ministry recorded at least 60 attacks last year that targeted mosques and other institutions of the Muslim community.

Anti-immigration protests took place in the German town of Kandel on Saturday, with some protesters carrying placards that read "Freedom instead of Islam."

Muslims in Germany

Germany, a country of 81.8 million people, has the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France.

Among the country's nearly 4.7 million Muslims, three million are of Turkish origin. Many of them are second or third-generations of Turkish families who migrated to Germany in the 1960s.

The EU's largest economy has witnessed growing Islamophobia and hatred of migrants in recent years triggered by propaganda from far-right and populist parties, which have exploited fears over the refugee crisis.

Islamophobia in Spain

Rising trend: In Spain, details of anti-Muslim incidents were documented in the report "Islamophobia in Spain 2017" released Friday by the Citizens' Platform Against Islamophobia (PCI).

According to the report, a rising trend of prejudice against Islam was noted among various political views in Spain. Street, media and internet campaigns by far-right groups were also recorded, said the report.

Incident types: Out of the 546 Islamophobic incidents, 386 were media and internet-based while 48 percent comprised verbal attacks against Islam and Muslims.

Twenty-one percent of the incidents were against women, eight percent targeted men, four percent were directed against children and seven percent targeted mosques. There were also attacks against Muslim communities' businesses and associations.

By region: Of all the Islamophobic incidents documented by PCI in 2017, 51 percent occurred in the northeastern Catalonia region, followed by Andalusia with 22 percent and Valencia with 20 percent.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/03/anti-muslim-hate-crimes-surge-germany-spain-180303142227333.html

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Israeli planes spray Palestinian farmlands in Gaza with toxic herbicides

Mar 4, 2018

Israeli planes have sprayed toxic chemical substances and dangerous herbicides on farmlands across the besieged Gaza Strip as the Tel Aviv regime continues its acts of aggression against the impoverished Palestinian enclave.

Nizar al-Wahedi of the Palestinian Agriculture Ministry said that the herbicides were used along the border between the Gaza Strip and the occupied Palestinian territories on Sunday.

He said the Palestinian ministry was not aware of the composition of the Israeli chemicals being sprayed on Palestinian farmlands. 

“Israel has no right to spray herbicides on Palestinian lands,” Wahedi said.

Palestinian farmers say Israeli troops spray weed killers to dry wild plants around security fences in order to have clear vision to watch the area, but they usually spray dozens of meters around their targeted areas, killing and damaging Palestinian crops.

The continuing Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip is putting the lives of people at risk, taking a heavy toll on the enclave's agriculture sector.

Farmers are struggling to meet growing demands of 1.8 million Gazans who are living in the tight grip of the Israeli siege. They face many challenges due to shortages in farming equipment and more importantly, approved pesticides.

Due to the decline in production and Israel's ban on the entry of basic commodities, Gazan farmers have resorted to the use of banned chemical substances to maximize crop yield. This poses a serious health hazard to both farmers and their consumers.

The United Nations has frequently expressed concerns over the excessive use of toxic pesticides by Gaza farmers.

Many medical experts in Gaza are worried about a rise in the number of registered Gazan cancer patients, especially in the agricultural areas.

They warn that children are more susceptible to diseases such as leukemia than adults in such regions.

Gaza Strip has been under Israel’s blockade since June 2007. The crippling siege has caused a decline in living standards as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.

Israel launched its latest war on the Gaza Strip in early July 2014. Nearly 2,200 Palestinians, including 577 children, were killed in Israel’s 50-day onslaught. Over 11,100 others – including 3,374 children, 2,088 women and 410 elderly people – were also injured.

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/03/04/554359/Israeli-planes-spray-Palestinian-farmlands-in-Gaza-with-toxic-herbicides

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India

 

Britain to take up ‘persecution’ of religious minorities in India

Mar 05, 2018

Britain will raise the issue of alleged persecution of Christians and Sikhs in India during the April meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London and Windsor, following demands by MPs to take it up with Prime Minster Narendra Modi.

During a lengthy debate at the Westminster Hall of the House of Commons on ‘Freedom of religion or belief’ last week, MPs cited details of alleged persecution in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and elsewhere, and demanded that ministers discuss it when Commonwealth leaders are here for CHOGM.

A ministry of external affairs officer in India said the ministry would need to see the transcript of the debate before making any comments on the issue.

Martin Docherty-Hughes (Scottish National Party) mentioned the detention in Punjab of his constituent, Jagtar Singh Johal, allegedly without charge, and claimed that “members of the Sikh community across the UK have become gravely concerned that they, too, may be detained on the simple premise of being a member of the Sikh faith”.

Both Docherty-Hughes and Fabian Hamilton (Labour) raised the issue of alleged persecution of Christians; the former recalled the ancient roots of Christianity in India, but mentioned reports alleging that India was one of the most dangerous countries to practise Christianity.

Responding to the debate, Foreign Office minister for Asia Mark Field said: “My frequent jousting partner, the hon. Member for West Dunbartonshire (Martin Docherty-Hughes), alluded to a consular case that we continue to work closely on.”

“He made some profound points about Prime Minister Modi and about Christian and Sikh minorities in India. We will do our best to raise some of those in an appropriate manner at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in mid-April, to ensure that Parliament’s voice is properly heard.”

“He will appreciate that diplomacy sometimes needs to be done behind closed doors, rather than with megaphones,” Field added, according to a transcript of the debate on Thursday that is now available.

Hamilton, who visited Kerala recently, mentioned alleged persecution of Christians, and said: “Of course, we must also remember the plight of the Sikhs in Punjab. Many of us represent strong Sikh communities. I recently had the privilege to be in Kerala… Kerala is home to the largest minority of Christians in India; many are from a Catholic background.”

Docherty-Hughes added: “The Republic of India, the world’s largest democracy, has a legal system based on common law, is a signatory to many UN declarations, including on human rights, and is a Commonwealth nation.”

“I hope that the Government, through the Foreign Secretary, will raise a few points with President (sic) Modi and his officials at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting here in London in April.”

Modi is scheduled to attend the CHOGM, when the United Kingdom, as the chair of the group for the next two years, is likely to task New Delhi with a greater role, particularly in the area of trade and business. A regional trade hub is likely to be set up in India.

As the largest country by population in the Commonwealth, India, which has played a key role in the group since its founding in 1949, is seen as vital to London’s plans to enhance trade revenue when the UK loses access to the European Single Market after Brexit in March 2019.

Bilateral meetings are also expected to be held between Modi and Prime Minister Theresa May when he is in London for the CHOGM from April 16 to 20. It will be his second visit to London as prime minster after the first in November 2015.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/britain-to-take-up-persecution-of-religious-minorities-in-india/story-tgNyNp2Tb2gsBSJLKGDxhL.html

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With LoC on edge, hope dims on normalising India-Pakistan ties

Mar 05, 2018

The prospects of a breakthrough in efforts to put India-Pakistan relations on an even keel have rarely appeared bleaker in recent decades than they do now – the Line of Control (LoC; effectively the border between the two countries) on fire with near daily clashes, political leaders snipping at each other and peopleto-people contacts virtually snapped.

There have been a few tantalising glimmers of hope – such as the secret meeting between the two National Security Advisers in Thailand last December and a move to free elderly and women prisoners – but experts and officials from both sides are ruling out the possibility of any sustained contacts till 2019, by when both countries will have held general elections.

Official data shows there were more than 400 ceasefire violations on the Line of Control this year, and January alone, recorded the highest number of violations since the two countries agreed to a truce on the 742-km LoC in 2003. Troops from both sides have clashed almost every day and Indian Army officers say Pakistan is taking advantage of the lack of snow on mountains to push more terrorists across the LoC to keep the pot boiling in Kashmir.

Worried by the violence, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said last month that there was no alternative to talks with Pakistan even though India has won all the wars fought by the two sides. Mufti, whose People’s Democratic Party rules the state in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party, acknowledged the perils of the stance she was taking when she said she would be labelled “anti-national” but added that she couldn’t stand by as “people die every day”.

Days later, home minister Rajnath Singh made it clear there could be no talks as long as Pakistan backed terrorism. “Talks and terrorism cannot go on concurrently,” he said. With Pakistan set to hold a crucial general election within the next three months and polls scheduled in India next year, experts and diplomats in both countries believe there will be no movement in the stalled peace process till late 2019 – largely because the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) in Pakistan and the Bharatiya Janata Party in India cannot upset their core domestic constituencies with any overture to the other side.

“Talks and domestic political processes cannot and should not be linked. No matter how bad the situation is, the two should be kept separate. But I don’t see anything moving till next year,” said a top Pakistani diplomat involved in contacts between the two sides.

TCA Raghavan, a former Indian envoy to Pakistan, said the last long impasse in bilateral ties was in 2001-03, after the terror attack on Parliament, blamed on Pakistan-based groups. “The current impasse has gone on quite long, though it’s not because of any conscious policy but for tactical reasons,” Raghavan said.

“But it’s different because in 2001-03, Pakistan had a stable political set-up, but now there is political instability and churning going on in Pakistan,” he added, referring to developments such as the ouster of former premier Nawaz Sharif by the Supreme Court on grounds of dishonesty and the confrontation between the country’s civilian government, the judiciary and the military establishment.

Read| A Rs 2.86 lakh bear hug that may have cost Nawaz Sharif his job

Syed Baqir Sajjad, foreign affairs correspondent with Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, agreed that the prospects of India-Pakistan normalisation still remain poor.

“Pakistan is entering election mode. Though there is a near consensus in Pakistan about peace with India, during the election campaign India will not be a priority and neither the outgoing government nor the interim administration will be competent to start the process,” he said. “Once Pakistan completes the process, India will then enter its election phase, which is much longer. During that period it would be more unlikely for such a thing to happen, if the past is an indicator.”

Raghavan also noted that the uncertainty in Pakistan’s politics, with the PML-N under pressure from the judiciary and military, made it all the more difficult for the Indian side to launch any peace initiative. At the same time, he cautioned, India shouldn’t make the mistake of hitching its foreign policy line with that of the US, which has upped the ante on Pakistan to crack down on terrorism.

“We should not link what we’re doing to what the US is doing. The US is increasing its pressure but it isn’t sure what the result will be,” he said.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/with-loc-on-edge-hope-dims-on-normalising-india-pakistan-ties/story-kZoxLbvxPJjNFTguQjxRII.html

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Shashi Tharoor: India strengthening security cooperation with Gulf countries

By Ehtesham Shahid

4 March 2018

Interviewing Dr. Shashi Tharoor becomes easy because the tough part is over by then.

When I sat down with him at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in Dubai on Saturday (March 3), I thought his mind would be occupied with the session he had to address soon after.

Instead, Tharoor was busy checking the latest cricket scores and even talked about a couple of Indian cricketers who, according to him, retired too early. Once the interview began, there was no stopping him.

Inglorious empire

I was immediately corrected for believing that he is in promotion mode for his latest book – Why I am a Hindu - released recently.

“I am here still plugging my previous book from last year, which was called era of darkness in the British Empire India and in Britain was called inglorious empire, what the British did to India,” he said.

Mono-faith region

Dr. Tharoor also described the strengths and weaknesses of being a largely mono-faith region that the Middle East has been for over a century.

“The strength is that everyone follows the same approach where religion becomes a communally knitting bond for the overwhelming population and the weakness is that therefore there is much less understanding or accommodation of other ways of worship and belief,” he said.

Asian Muslims

Tharoor cited numbers to drive home the point that the vast majority of Muslims are actually Asians, looking at the large Muslim populations in India, Pakistan and Indonesia.

“But it is important to acknowledge that those 700 million look to those 200 plus million [in the Arab world] as the fountain, crucible or the center of their faith,” he said.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2018/03/04/Shashi-Tharoor-India-strengthening-security-cooperation-with-Gulf-countries.html

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Chorus in Jammu for Rohingya eviction, ads in newspapers

by Arun Sharma

March 5, 2018

Nearly a year after Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry threatened to “identify and kill’’ Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshi nationals settled in the area if they were not deported within a month, various organisations have started attempts to mobilise public opinion against their stay.

Advertisements calling for eviction of Rohingya have started appearing in local newspapers. Some of these advertisements, issued by leaders of organisations like Chamber of Commerce and Industry and National Panthers Party, read, “Rohingyas: a ticking time bomb. Evict them to save Jammu’’, and “Threat of Rohingyas loom large over the heads of peace loving Jammuites. Let us unite to save Jammu’’. Panthers Party has held demonstrations, demanding that Rohingya be deported.

The issue gained momentum after three terrorists attacked family quarters inside Sunjuwan military station on February 10 and killed six soldiers and a civilian before being gunned down. A large number of Rohingyas live in civilian areas near the military station.

During her visit to Jammu after the attack, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said “demography of the cantonment and adjoining areas indicates the possibility of local support to the terrorists’’. Hours after terrorists entered the military station, BJP MLA and Assembly Speaker Kavinder Gupta had named migrants from two countries, holding them responsible for such attacks — his remarks on the communities and countries were expunged later.

Panthers Party president Balwant Mankotia said they were “getting in touch with like-minded outfits so that they can pressure the government to shift the illegal immigrants outside the state”.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/chorus-in-jammu-for-rohingya-eviction-ads-in-newspapers-5085982/

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40,000 Rohingyas trying to settle down in West Bengal, warn intelligence agencies

Mar 04, 2018

New Delhi: Amid a global outcry over the Rohingya crisis, intelligence agencies have now warned of a conspiracy to settle down thousands of Rohingyas in West Bengal's North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas districts respectively.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority group, are fleeing persecution in Myanmar's western Rakhine State, fuelling a historic migration crisis.

According to a report sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), nearly 40,000 thousand Rohingyas, who are currently staying in various parts of the country, have been reportedly instructed to settle down in Trinamool Congress-ruled state.

The intelligence report, accessed by Zee Media, claims that as many as 40 organisations have been identified, which are allegedly involved in the business of settling down these Rohingyas illegally, and are even collecting money from all over the country. These 40 organisations, currently under the scanner, have organised more than 50 secret meetings in different parts of the country in the last few days, the report claimed.

It further stated that at least 29 Rohingyas have started living in the 24 Parganas, and in order to settle them, the construction of new homes have already begun.

These organisations, in question, have reportedly asked the people living in nearby villages to donate their land to Rohingyas so that they can be settled permanently in West Bengal.

In September last year, the Centre told the Supreme Court that Rohingyas posed a serious threat to national security with links to terror outfits, including the Islamic State.

Full report at:

http://zeenews.india.com/india/40000-rohingyas-trying-to-settle-down-in-west-bengal-warn-intelligence-agencies-2086637.html

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Terrorist, 3 accomplices killed after attack on patrolling party in J&K

Mar 4, 2018

NEW DELHI: A terrorist and his three accomplices were killed in retaliatory operations after a patrolling party came under attack near Pohan in Jammu & Kashmir's Shopian today.

A weapon was also recovered from the terrorist, who has been identified as Shahid Ahmad, a resident of Shopian's Jamnagri, Srinagar-based defence PRO Rajesh Kalia told TOI.

The accomplices, identified as Suhail Khalil Wagay, Mohd Shahid Khan and Shahnawaz Ahmad Wagay, were found dead in their car.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/terrorist-killed-after-attack-on-joint-motor-vehicle-patrolling-party-in-jk/articleshow/63160678.cms

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LeT militant, civilian found dead near gunfight site in J-K’s Shopian, death toll reaches 6

Mar 05, 2018

Ashiq Hussain

Two bodies, including of a militant, were found near the site of a shooting in Kashmir’s Shopian district on Monday morning.

The body of Ashiq Hussain Bhat of Rakh Kapran and belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba was recovered from an orchard at Saidpora, eight kilometres from the site of Sunday night’s shooting in Pahnoo, Shopian, police said, adding that his death is suspected to be connected to the shooting.

They also said that the body of Gowhar Ahmad Lone of Chitragam Shopian, was found with bullet injuries from a damaged car near the site of shooting at Pahnoo Shopian.

Police said they were investigating both the deaths. Witnesses told HT that the car Lone was found from was damaged on the front and right.

Security forces had killed a militant and three youths in a shootout on Sunday night after a mobile check post of the army was fired upon.

While the police have not identified the three youths killed on Sunday, locals identified them as Suhail Ahmad Wagay , Nawaz Ahmad Wagay and Shahid Khan.

The army called them “over-the-ground workers or accomplices” of the militants travelling in a Maruti Swift car, but locals said they were just civilians. A statement by police spokesman also referred to the three youths as “individuals”.

A relative of Suhail said the three were innocent and had nothing to do with militancy. “Suhail was a 22-year-old man doing fruit business of his family. His father and brother were in Delhi for business. Suhail had hired the services of the other two boys to help him transport fruit carts into the cold storage. He had called them overnight and was taking them home so that they could start work early next morning,” said Suhail’s relative, Fayaz Ahmad Mir.

Mir said that the three had bullet wounds in their backs. “No militant was accompanying them. He had called his family minutes before the shootout saying he was reaching home with the two boys.”

On the slain militant, the army’s identification differed from that of the police. While the army said he was Shahid Ahmad Dar, a resident of Jamnagri Shopian, the police spokesman identified him as Amir Ahmed Malik, a resident of Harmeen Shopian, belonging to banned LeT outfit and active since July 2017.

The killings have triggered outrage in the Valley. Separatist leaders called a shutdown on Monday while authorities imposed restrictions in sensitive areas to prevent escalations of protests.

The government has decided not to open schools on Monday which would otherwise have opened after the culmination of two-and-a-half months of winter vacation.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/let-militant-civilian-found-dead-near-gunfight-site-in-j-k-s-shopian/story-WFxXNPnLP3snoSyHgtzN9N.html

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Southeast Asia

 

Thailand’s refusal to recognise Rohingya as refugees leaves them in illegal limbo

March 05, 2018

ROHINGYA in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia often experience their own problems, but in Thailand, members of the ethnic minority face extra difficulties because they are not recognised and categorised incorrectly.

A few thousand Rohingya entered Thailand years before the current crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. More than half of them were boat people who took the dangerous journey across the Indian Ocean to Southeast Asia beginning in 2015, while the rest travelled in smaller groups overland to Thailand at about the same time. The current exodus of 700,000 Rohingya to Bangladesh has not yet directly affected the Kingdom given the tight control in refugee camps in Bangladesh and the recent crackdown on human traffickers in Thailand.  In the 2015 crisis, Southeast Asian nations blamed trafficking for bringing Rohingya onto their soil, where they were subjected to widely varying treatment. Thailand arrested, detained and deported Rohingya back to Myanmar.

About 300 Rohingya have been in detention since then, said Siyeed Alam, chairman of the Rohingya Association in Thailand, whose organisation provides assistance to the group.  Originally about 1,000 had been detained but many managed to break out of detention facilities and travel to Malaysia over recent years, he said. While Thailand deems Rohingya to be illegal migrants who are seeking better lives in the Kingdom, without considering the circumstances at their point of origin, human rights expert Surapong Kongchantuk said most Rohingya were victims of trafficking and deserved better treatment by Thai authorities. If authorities regarded them as the victims, they would have the right to work for their living, said lawyer Surapong, a minority rights advocate who has provided legal assistance to such groups for years. Authorities have allowed millions of migrants from neighbouring Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar to live and work in the Kingdom, but only after national verification and registration. At present, about 3.8 migrant million workers earn a living in Thailand, with about 1.8 million working legally, but Rohingya are not eligible even if they are not in detention. “We cannot register and our nationality cannot be verified as we are citizens of no country,” Siyeed said, adding that the idea that there were thousands of Rohingya in the Kingdom was paranoid. The extended deadline for national verification and registration is about to end in June. If Rohingya had their choice, Siyeed said, they would settle in Muslim-majority countries such as Malaysia where they receive better treatment. Unlike Thailand, Malaysia with the recognition of the United Nations offers better living and working conditions. There are about 150,000 Rohingya registered with the UN High Commission for Refugees in Malaysia currently, while about 6,000 in Indonesia also live in similar conditions. Siyeed said he had urged Thai authorities to treat Rohingya better, but had been denied. “I don’t know how to legalise our status, but if they are left outlawed, how can authorities prevent them from doing illegal things and committing crime?” he asked. Without legal status, Rohingya could not earn a living legally, he said.  “Without any papers to identify ourselves, we cannot rent places to live. Life here is not easy,” he said.

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/asean-plus/30340157

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Canadian preacher pays Zamihan RM30, 000 security cost

Ho Kit Yen

March 5, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: Canadian Muslim preacher Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips has agreed to pay RM30,000 as a security cost to Zamihan Mat Zin prior to the hearing of his RM1 million defamation suit against the government preacher.

Philips’ lawyer Meor Amir Meor Omar Baki said his client had agreed to pay the controversial speaker based on a consent judgment on Jan 19.

“The amount was fully paid on Jan 29,” he added.

Zamihan had previously filed an application to compel Philips to pay security costs for the lawsuit.

The demand is usually made when a foreigner files a lawsuit and the defendant cannot obtain costs if the suit is dismissed.

Amir said High Court judge Justice Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim had fixed July 31 to Aug 2 to hear the lawsuit.

He said Philips may be calling international witnesses to testify.

Philips filed the RM1 million lawsuit in September last year after Zamihan alleged in a Facebook post that the Canadian was an “international terrorism supporter”.

In his defence, Zamihan said the statement on Philips’ involvement in terrorist-linked activities was sourced from news reports that appeared in the National Post and The Guardian, as well as from the police.

Zamihan alleged Philips was banned from entering several countries such as Germany, Britain, Denmark and Kenya.

Besides Philips, Zamihan also criticised the Johor Sultan on the Muslim-only laundrette issue and made derogatory remarks about the hygiene of Chinese Malaysians.

He was arrested for sedition but subsequently released on police bail.

Johor’s Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar described Zamihan as an “empty tin can without any brains” while Selangor’s Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah revoked his teaching credentials.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2018/03/05/canadian-preacher-pays-zamihan-rm30000-security-cost/

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Indonesia Reaffirms Support for Peace building Efforts in Afghanistan

March 01, 2018

Jakarta. Vice President Jusuf Kalla reaffirmed Indonesia’s commitment to assist Afghanistan in peacebuilding efforts at the second conference of the Kabul Process on Wednesday (28/02), and touched on the role of ulemas, or clerics, to realize peace and end decades of conflict.

"Conflict never benefits anyone, therefore it’s high time for Afghanistan and for all of us to spare no effort in assisting the Afghan people in their pursuit for peace," Kalla said during his speech, as seen by the Jakarta Globe in a video issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Kabul Process was first held in June 2017. It is an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process aimed at establishing peace, security and stability in the war-torn country.

Kalla attended the conference as guest of honor, where he also shared Indonesia’s experience in peacebuilding operations.

The vice president was directly involved in Indonesia's peace truce with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and helped bring about treaties to other religious conflicts in the eastern part of the country, including in Poso, Central Sulawesi, and Ambon, Maluku.

Indonesia and Afghanistan have forged closer relations over the past year, beginning with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s visit last April, which was followed by a series of high-level meetings, including President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo’s visit to the country in January.

In his speech, Kalla highlighted key aspects of the peacebuilding process, including confidence-building, habit of dialogue and inclusiveness.

He also touched on the role of ulemas to contribute to the peace process.

"Having the largest Muslim population in the world, Indonesia fully understands the prominent and significant role of ulemas in nurturing peace and reconciliation, particularly through the promotion of values and principles of tolerance," Kalla said.

Indonesia and Afghanistan plan to hold an international ulemas conference, which Kalla said will help end the conflict in Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said that both countries will discuss details of the conference further as part of Kalla’s visit to Kabul.

Full report at:

http://jakartaglobe.id/news/indonesia-reaffirms-support-peacebuilding-efforts-afghanistan/

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North America

 

New US advisers hope to give Afghan soldiers vital boost

March 05, 2018

WASHINGTON - A brigade of seasoned American soldiers has arrived in Afghanistan in recent days on a much-trumpeted mission to offer a new type of training - as well as motivation - to beleaguered Afghan partners.

Pentagon officials hope the deployment of hundreds of battle-hardened, expert troops across the country will help turn the tide in the war, but Afghanistan watchers are skeptical about how much difference they can make in the 16-year-old conflict.

Most of the troops in the so-called Security Force Assistance Brigade, or SFAB, have multiple Afghanistan combat deployments under their belts, speak some level of Pashto or Dari and - after having themselves undergone special training - have now volunteered to return.

“They are coming here because they are passionate about the mission,” Navy Captain Tom Gresback, a spokesman for NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Kabul, told AFP.

The United States and NATO have already tried various training models for Afghan security forces, but even after all these years many units remain beset by corruption and desertions and are suffering horrendous casualty rates.

US officials have also tracked dozens of cases of reported human rights violations in Afghan security units, including several involving child sexual assault.

The Pentagon has been training partner forces in various conflicts for decades, and the approach has been buoyed in recent years by local forces’ successes against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

What differentiates the SFAB from other Afghan missions is not just the US soldiers’ experience, but the fact they will be patrolling closer to the conflict’s front lines than trainers have done in recent years - putting them at greater risk.

They will help Afghans hone a variety of skills including marksmanship and weapons training, and combat medics will teach Afghan partners how to better handle battlefield trauma.

And, vitally, the Afghans will learn how to call in air strikes and how to conduct ground-clearing operations.

“The goal is to not fight for the Afghans, but to train these proud soldiers to see that they can fight for themselves,” Gresback said.

Squads of about 10 US soldiers will embed at the “kandak” level - an Afghan term for battalions typically made up of 300-400 men - and they will deploy across Afghanistan, including in volatile southern Helmand province and in eastern Nangarhar province, where the Taliban and Islamic State are fighting.

The NATO and US training of Afghan troops has recently been largely conducted by commandos and focused on Afghanistan’s special forces, rather than on its conventional units.

Up until the end of 2014, NATO troops provided most of the security in Afghanistan, but in 2015, after the drawdown of Western forces, Afghan troops were tasked with the job themselves.

The results were disastrous, with thousands killed each year as the Taliban resurged. Officials have acknowledged training has sometimes fallen short.

A US government watchdog last year blasted the military as being woefully unprepared to take on the challenge of creating security forces of the size and scope needed in Afghanistan.

Bill Roggio, an Afghanistan expert and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, said the SFAB deployment is a step in the right direction but may ultimately have limited impact.

“Does it improve things on the margins, or does it actually make a real difference in that (the Afghans) are either going to be able to stop the Taliban’s gains or beat them back? I am skeptical,” he told AFP.

US commanders say the SFAB, along with an increased tempo of air strikes and a broader strategy for the region including Pakistan, will help the Afghans push back the Taliban.

Officials say 64 percent of the Afghan population lives in areas currently controlled by the Afghan government, with 12 percent in Taliban-controlled areas and the rest living in “contested areas.”

They have set the seemingly modest goal of increasing those under government control to 80 percent within two years.

“I’ve looked at the training regime,” US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said recently. “First of all, the quality of these troops, in terms of their experience and their selection, and second, the training, gives me a lot of confidence.”

https://nation.com.pk/05-Mar-2018/new-us-advisers-hope-to-give-afghan-soldiers-vital-boost

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Iran’s missile program part of national sovereignty: Analyst

Mar 4, 2018

Iran’s ballistic missile program is part of the country’s “sovereignty” and right to defense and therefore should not be questioned, says an analyst in Virginia.

Marsha Freeman, an author with the Executive Intelligence Review, made the remarks while discussing a senior Iranian military commander’s call for denuclearization of the world powers as the only way that Iran would agree to negotiate its ballistic missile capability.

"What Americans say out of desperation with regards to limiting the Islamic Republic of Iran's missile capabilities is an unattainable dream resulting from their regional failures and defeats," Deputy Chief of Staff of Iran's Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri said on Saturday.

Iranian officials have repeatedly warned that the country’s missile program is not open to any negotiations amid US President Donald Trump's constant efforts to link Iran's missile program to the 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Trump has repeatedly described the JCPOA, which was negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama, as “the worst and most one-sided transaction Washington has ever entered into,” a characterization he often used during his presidential campaign, and threatened to tear it up.

The US has repeatedly claimed that Iran’s missile program is in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorses the JCPOA.

Freeman noted that while Iran’s call for nuclear disarmament sounds impractical, it relays a strong “political” message.

“I think it is appropriate for Iran to take a very strong stance on the pressure that is being put on Iran to renegotiate the nuclear agreement,” she said.

“Looking at the very complex situation in the Middle East and making exceptions for Israel and countries that the United States describes as strategic allies, and now you have the complicating situation of Saudi Arabia” which is also seeking an expanded nuclear program, the importance of Tehran’s call becomes more clear, she argued.

Freeman said Iran was right in protecting its right to develop defensive deterrents like ballistic missiles.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/03/04/554377/Iran-US-ballistic-missiles-Jazayeri-IRGC

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Mueller investigates possible UAE effort to buy political influence

Mar 4, 2018

US special counsel Robert Mueller's team is reportedly investigating possible efforts by the United Arab Emirates to buy political influence in the White House by supporting Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

The investigators have, in recent weeks, questioned a Lebanese-American businessman with ties to the Persian Gulf nation who discussed Middle East policy with top aides to Trump, The New York Times reported Saturday.

George Nader, a back-channel negotiator with Syria during the Clinton administration and later an adviser to the de facto ruler of the UAE, frequently visited President Trump’s White House last year.

The investigators have asked about Nader’s role in White House policymaking and his meetings with senior adviser Jared Kushner and former chief strategist Steve Bannon, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.

They discussed US policy toward Persian Gulf nations prior to Trump's first foreign trip to Saudi Arabia in May 2017, the Times said.

The investigators have also been pressing witnesses for information about any possible attempts by the Emiratis to buy political influence by funneling money to support Trump before he took office.

This could prompt an examination of how money from multiple countries has flowed through and influenced Washington during the Trump era. 

The special counsel, who is investigating Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election, has also asked witnesses about Kushner's attempts to secure financing for his family's real estate investments, focusing specifically on his talks with people from Turkey, Qatar, Russia and China in addition to the UAE.

Mueller’s team has also expressed interest in a meeting Kushner held at Trump Tower in December 2016 with former Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani. The Qatari embassy in Washington, however, rejected the assertions.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/03/04/554312/US-Donald-Trump-special-council-robert-mueller

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Florida Billboard Labels NRA 'Terrorist Organization' In Rising Gun-Control Campaign

Mar 4, 2018

A US political action committee (PAC) has put up a billboard in Pensacola, Florida referring to the powerful pro-gun lobby group, the National Rifle Association (NRA), as a “terrorist organization” amid a new gun-control campaign in the state and across the country.

The erection of the billboard on Saturday was arranged by Mad Dog PAC, which funds billboards throughout the US censuring NRA-backed Republican candidates as well as US President Donald Trump.

According to local press reports, this was not the first such billboard put up in recent days related to the gun control debate in the US. A Las Vegas billboard was recently vandalized to read, "Shoot a school kid only $29." And another in Kentucky was vandalized to read, "Kill the NRA."

The development came as the NRA has become the focus of a growing movement by activists demanding enactment of tougher gun control laws in wake of the latest mass shooting at a US public school that killed 17 and injured 14 people in Parkland, Florida on February 14.

A 19-year-old white supremacist and former student carried out the shooting and later arrested by police officers.

This is while the survivors of the shooting and their families have repeatedly called out Florida’s Republican Senator Marco Rubio for taking millions in campaign donations from the NRA.

Days after the school massacre, a student survivor blasted Trump and many US lawmakers for receiving money from the NRA, which fervently opposes gun control across the nation.

“If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened, and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association,” said student Emma Gonzalez of Marjory Stohneman Douglas High School during her speech at a major gun control rally in Ft. Lauderdale on February 18.

“I already know — $30 million,” she then added. “Divided by the number of gunshot victims in the United States in the one and a half months of 2018 alone, that comes out to being $5,800.”

“Is that how much these people are worth to you, Trump?” she then asked as thousands of protesters at the rally started changing “shame on you” after she mentioned the NRA’s donations to Trump.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/03/04/554280/US-Florida-billboard-NRA-guncontrol-campaign-terrorist-organization-MAD-Dog-PAC

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Europe

 

Greece not seeking swap of soldiers with Turkey

Mar 3, 2018

Greek authorities have denied they have any plans to exchange eight Turkish soldiers wanted on suspicion of involvement in a failed coup in Turkey with two Greek soldiers arrested recently.

Junior Foreign Minister Yiorgos Katrougalos said on Saturday that reports in Turkish media that Athens would be ready to have its soldiers, arrested on the border inside Turkish territory, in return for extradition of the eight Turkish servicemen, were “spy stories.”

“This is pure fantasy. We are not at war with Turkey to conduct an exchange of prisoners,” said Katrougalos, adding, “This is not an unusual episode. Such incidents occur on the border.”

Turkey has repeatedly called on Greece to hand over the eight Turkish soldiers, who fled on the night of the failed coup of July 15, 2016 out of prosecution fears. Greece defends its refusal to extradite the soldiers, saying they might face unfair trial back at home.

The dispute, one among the list of issues that Ankara and Athens disagree on, drew fresh attention after the arrest of the two Greek soldiers by a Turkish border patrol on Thursday. The Greek army denied the two had been spying in the Turkish territory, as claimed by some authorities, and said that poor weather caused them to lose their way while patrolling the area around the Evros river that separates Turkey and Greece.

Turkish state agency Anadolu said the pair, a lieutenant and a sergeant, now held at Edirne, will be put on trial on Monday on charges that include illegal entry in a restricted area and attempted military espionage.

Dimitris Tzanakopoulos, a Greek government spokesman, said on Friday that Athens was expecting a swift return of the two, adding the case was only a matter of “illegal entry.”

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/03/03/554230/Greece-Turkey-soldiers-exchange

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French, Iran leaders discuss regime attacks in Syria

05 March 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron Sunday called on his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani to put pressure on Bashar al-Assad regime to end the "indiscriminate" attacks on Syria’s besieged Eastern Ghouta region and allow access of humanitarian aid.

In a phone conversation, Macron urged Rouhani "to exert the necessary pressure on the Syrian regime to put an end to the indiscriminate attacks against the besieged population of Eastern Ghouta, to allow humanitarian access and evacuate the critical medical cases," according to a statement issued by French presidency.

Macron "underlined the special responsibility incumbent on Iran, because of its links with the [Assad] regime, in the implementation of the humanitarian truce voted by the UN Security Council 2401 Resolution."

The two presidents have agreed to work together in the coming days with the UN, the Assad regime and the main countries engaged in Syria “to deliver ... necessary assistance to civilians and to implement the ceasefire."

The attacks carried out by the Assad regime and its supporters in Eastern Ghouta have killed more than 700 civilians since Feb.19.

Eastern Ghouta has been under siege for the last five years; humanitarian access to the area, which is home to 400,000 people, has been completely cut off.

In the past eight months, Assad regime forces have intensified their siege of Eastern Ghouta, making it nearly impossible for food or medicine to get into the district and leaving thousands of patients in need of treatment.

The French president recalled his country's concerns related to the Iranian missile program and regional security issues, especially in Lebanon and called for "clear" responses.

France also expects Iran to make a "constructive contribution" to solving crises in the Middle East, the statement said.

The exchange between the two leaders comes on the eve of Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s trip to Tehran.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/europe/199438/french-iran-leaders-discuss-regime-attacks-in-syria

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Mideast

 

Netanyahu, in Washington, to invite Trump to US embassy opening in Jerusalem al-Quds

Mar 4, 2018

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will invite US President Donald Trump to join the inauguration of the American embassy in Jerusalem al-Quds in May.

Netanyahu left for Washington on Sunday to meet Trump who declared Jerusalem al-Quds as the so-called capital of Israel in December and announced plans to relocate the US embassy to the occupied holy city.

Washington has set May 14 as the date for the inauguration of the new diplomatic premises, which represents the anniversary of the Nakba or "catastrophe" for Palestinians.

The date coincides with the 70th anniversary of the creation of Israel which marked millions of Palestinians either flee or be expelled from their homes in an ensuring war.

Before boarding a flight to the United States, Netanyahu said he will “definitely” discuss with Trump on Monday the possibility of his partaking in the event.

Trump's December declaration sparked a wave of condemnation across the world, amid fears that the move would touch off a fresh wave of violence or a possible war between Israel and the Palestinians. 

On December 21, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favor of a resolution that called on the US to withdraw the controversial recognition.

"I'm very grateful to him (Trump) for this historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem on our independence day," Netanyahu said on Saturday.

The new embassy will initially be located in a US consular building in Jerusalem al-Quds while Washington searches for “a permanent location”.

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/03/04/554320/Israel-United-States-Netanyahu-Trump-Embassy-Jerusalem

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Scores killed as Houthis fight Saudi mercenaries outside Sana'a

Mar 4, 2018

A confrontation between Saudi-backed militants and Yemen’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement across the war-battered country has left around 80 people dead on both sides.

More than 55 died and dozens more were wounded in Sana’a Province’s Nihm District, northwest of the country’s capital, on Saturday, Yemen's medical officials said.

The sources also said fighting killed at least 25 people on both sides along Yemen's west coast.

Houthi officials, meanwhile, rejected militant claims of advancing in Sana’a’s Arhab District.

The fighters and their allied army forces also thwarted a push by Saudi-backed militants to advance in the southwestern al-Bayda Province. Yemen’s al-Masirah television network said dozens of the militants were killed in the province’s Nati’ District.

The militants fight on the side of Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi who resigned amid internal conflict in March 2015 and then fled to Saudi Arabia.

Soon afterwards, Saudi Arabia launched a military campaign to restore the former president and crush Ansarullah, which had begun running the country’s affairs after Hadi’s flight.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/03/04/554292/Yemen-Saudi-Arabia-Houthi-Ansarullah-Hadi-Sanaa-Bayda

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Intelligence Ministry Official: Iranian Security Forces Foil Tens of Terrorist Plots

Mar 04, 2018

"In addition to the ISIL, measures of 30 terrorist groups have been foiled by the Iranian security forces in the past few years," the deputy intelligence minister for anti-terrorism operations said in the Southern province of Fars on Sunday.

"Over 30 armed terrorist groups have had on agenda actions to foment insecurity in the country and distort people's tranquility in the past few years," he added.

The deputy minister also underlined that although the ISIL's rule over certain regional states has ended, more vigilance is needed to confront the terrorists and their supporters' new plots.

In relevant remarks last month, Head of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Public Relations Department and IRGC Spokesman General Ramezan Sharif underlined that the Iranian forces monitor all ISIL moves in the region, preventing the terrorist group's deployment in areas near the country's borders.

"The IRGC has monitored the ISIL terrorist group's strategies and geographical presence and this monitoring continues," General Sharif said.

He stressed the IRGC's good intelligence superiority over the ISIL, and said, "Like the past 6 years, the IRGC has been able to defeat the ISIL and its creators by playing an advisory role in Iraq and Syria."

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961213001538

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US embassy in Turkey to be closed over ‘security threat’

5 March 2018

The US embassy in the Turkish capital Ankara will be closed to the public on Monday over a “security threat”, the mission announced on its website.

The embassy was the target in 2013 of a suicide bombing claimed by a far-left group that killed a Turkish security guard.

Relations between NATO allies Washington and Ankara are strained over a number of issues, notably the US arming of a Syrian Kurdish militia, the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Ankara on January 20 launched an operation against the YPG in its border stronghold of Afrin in western Syria.

Turkey has called on Washington to stop working with the YPG, which it views as a “terrorist” group.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/03/05/US-embassy-in-Turkey-to-be-closed-over-security-threat-.html

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Palestinian man shot, injured over alleged car-ramming attack

Mar 4, 2018

A middle-aged Palestinian man has sustained serious gunshot wounds over an alleged car-ramming attack in the northern part of the occupied Palestinian territories as tensions continue to simmer in the aftermath of US President Donald Trump’s recent declaration of Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of Israel.

Israeli media outlets alleged that a 51-year-old Arab man from the town of Shfaram, whose identity was not immediately available, began his rampage in the northern coastal city of Acre on Sunday morning, after receiving a parking ticket of 1,000 Israeli shekels ($290.60).

In the video footage that captured the incident, the driver can be seen accelerating his Hyundai sport utility vehicle through a junction on Yehoshafat Street near the city market, where a uniformed paramilitary man is crossing, striking him and sending him flying into the air.

The driver then continued toward a train station and rammed two Israeli soldiers before he was shot and stopped by an armed soldier who was at the scene.

One eyewitness said he was standing at the train station when he suddenly heard screams.

“After that I heard a few gunshots, I crossed the road towards the parking lot of the market, saw two soldier lying on the ground, one near the side of the station and the other near the vehicle,” he said.

The witness added that the gunshots were fired by more than one person, likely soldiers and the border police.

An unnamed Israel's emergency medical service official, Magen David Adom, said the three Israeli soldiers were all in their 20s, while the injured Palestinian driver was in critical condition. Israeli officials said they were investigating the matter.

The occupied Palestinian territories have witnessed a new wave of tension ever since Trump announced his decision on December 6 last year to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital and relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the occupied city.

The dramatic shift in Washington’s policy vis-à-vis the city triggered demonstrations in the occupied territories, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco and other Muslim countries.

On December 21, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favor of a resolution that calls on the US to withdraw its controversial recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israeli “capital.”

In an attempt to avert the resolution, Trump had warned that “we’re watching,” threatening reprisals against countries that backed the measure, which had earlier faced a US veto at the UN Security Council.

Israel, however, rejected the world body’s resolution while thanking Trump for his decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.

On January 18, the US reneged on a December pledge to contribute $45 million in food aid to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which supports more than 5 million registered Palestinian refugees and their descendants. The announcement came only two days after US State Department said it would withhold another $65 million in funding to UNRWA.

The announcement to cut aid to Palestinian refugees came after the US president made a threat to cut off aid to the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency.

In a series of tweets on January 2, Trump said that the US paid “the Palestinians hundreds of millions of dollars a year” and yet got “no appreciation or respect.”

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/03/04/554331/Palestinian-man-shot-injured-over-alleged-carramming-attack

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Yemen: The international community must unite to stop export of Iranian weapons to the Houthis

5 March 2018

DUBAI: The Yemeni government reiterated its call for the international community to join forces to stop the continued export of Iranian weapons to Houthi militia, Saudi state-news channel Al-Ekhbariya reported.

The exports are a violation of UN Security Council resolutions and contribute to the continuation of the war and instability in the region, the government said.

Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdulmalik Al-Makhlafi said during his meeting with the US Ambassador to Yemen Matthew Tueller that the Iranian-backed Houthis have worked in every way to prevent reaching a sustainable peace in the country.

Al-Makhlafi reiterated the position of the legitimate government, which is committed to the peaceful solution based on the three reference points agreed upon locally, regionally and internationally.

He also renewed the support of the legitimate government for the new UN Secretary-General’s envoy, Martin Griffiths, expressed appreciation for the efforts of former envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

He stressed the need to take advantage of the international community’s understanding of the situation in Yemen and build on the terms of the solution agreed upon to reach a sustainable peace that strengthens the government’s efforts to alleviate the suffering of Yemeni citizens at the hands of the militia.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1259321/middle-east

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Pakistan

 

Efforts on for union of religious parties

March 05, 2018

LAHORE - Efforts are being made to unite all Ahle Hadith groups across the country to make it a political force following the merger of Jamiat Alhe Hadith Pakistan into Markzi Jamiat Ahle Hadith, say insiders.

The JAP led by Hafiz Ibtisam Elahi Zaheer and MJA led by Professor Sajid Mir announced their unity on last Thursday. The leaders of the both parties, on occasion of their merger, vowed to unite Ahle Hadith vote bank in the country.

Sources say the alliance of two groups will hardly put any impact in uniting wahabi/salafi vote bank in coming general election at a time when some seven parties of the same school of thought are already in the field of politics.

Although concrete data is not available to identify exact number of the followers of Ahle Hadith school of thought, the Salafis and Deobandis together make some 20 per cent of the country’s population, according to a website. The Brelvi makes 57 per cent, Shia 20 per cent and rest three per cent is the non-Muslim population, the website notes.

More than dozen groups represents Brelvi school, Allama Sajid Naqvi’s Islami Tehreek and Majlise Wahdatul Muslimeen are claimant of Shia votes, Maulana Fazalur Rehman led JUI-F and Maulana Samiul Haq led JUI-S are main parties representing Deobandis while there are some seven groups of the Ahle Hadith.

Besides the MJA and JAP, the other Ahle Hadith groups are led by Abdul Qadeer Khamosh, Abdulghafar Ropri, Maulana Lakhvi, and Allama Zubair Zaheer. Hafiz Saeed’s led Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Milli Muslim League are also enjoying main support of Salafis.

Interestingly, by and large all Ahle Hadith parties backed the politics of Nawaz Sharif in the past but now Professor Mir was the only religious leader who is close ally of the former prime minister. His party backed Hafiz Abdul Karim from D G Khan was recently elected Senator from Punjab with the support of the PML-N. On the other hand, Hafiz Ibtisam Elahi Zaheer is a strong critic of the PML-N and Sharif family.

The leaders of both parties said that since Professor Mir’s party was the part of Muthida Majlise Amal, the recently revived alliance of five religio-political parties (JUI-F, Jamaat-e-Islami, JUP, Islami Tehreek and MJA), so it was not alone Professor Mir but the MMA leadership which will decide its future course of politics.

The MJA and JAP announced their unity after 13 years and this is on fourth occasion that Hafiz Ibtisam, son of late Allama Ehsan Elahi Zaheer, posing confidence on Professor Mir agreed to work under him unconditionally. Prof Mir made his own faction of Jamiat after the murder of Allama Ehsan in 1987. Both the parties announced their split last time in 2004.

“We have no issue to work under leadership Professor Sahib [Sajid Mir], our objective is to unite Ahlehadiths of the country and make effort to impose Quran and Sunnah law in Pakistan,” said a leader of JAP.

When pointed out Hafiz Ibtisam’s open criticism on Sharifs in the past and Professor Mir’s friendship with the former PM, he termed it a non-issue.

A central leader of MJA, said the efforts will be made to unite all Ahle Hadith groups in coming days. He said the followers of the Ahle Hadith school will be able to play an effective role in country’s politics after the merger of MJA and JAP. He told this scribe that family friends of Professor Mir and Hafiz Ibtisam played role in uniting both the groups. The other reason, according to him, was Professor Mir’s Pigham TV from where Hafiz Ibtisam and Hafiz Hisham, sons of late Allama Ehsan, wanted to spread their message to the followers of Ahle Hadith school across the country. Pigham TV spreads Islamic teachings influenced by the Salafi school in the country and said to be sponsored by a powerful Islamic country. 

https://nation.com.pk/05-Mar-2018/efforts-on-for-union-of-religious-parties

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Feudal lords defeat ideological politics: Siraj

March 05, 2018

KARACHI - Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Chief Senator Sirajul Haq said that feudal lords defeated Karachi’s ‘ideological’ politics in Senate elections, because the elected representatives of the megacity sold their vote to provincial ruling party.

Siraj expressed these views at meet the press program of Karachi Press Club (KPC) here on Sunday. JI Karachi Chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman, Dr Usama Razi, Abdul Wahab, Zahid Askari and others were also present on the occasion.

Talking about the Senate polls, Siraj said that it was unfortunate that in poll of the upper house a selection was done ruining the terms of democracy. The nation of country witnessed the chapter of “Kidnap and Ransom” in the Senate Polls which has appeared as a big stain in the politics of the country. keeping in view the entire situation JI‘s leadership believes that eradication of the corruption from the country is the only way to halt such practice, he added.

Accusing MQM-P leadership, he said that the people those hold the mandate of the city should tell the people of Karachi for how much money their mandate was sold. He urged Chief justice of Pakistan should take notice of the horse trading in Senate elections.

He said we will not leave the people of Karachi alone and develop a new leadership based on youths to resolve the issues of the megacity. He regretted that the megacity has been facing immense problems and it braves the heaps of garbage. The city is deprived of proper water and electricity supply and its young generation does not have jobs, the JI leader deplored.

Full report at:

https://nation.com.pk/05-Mar-2018/feudal-lords-defeat-ideological-politics-siraj

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All Muslim Leaguers should unite, say Arbab, Chaudhrys

Mar 05, 2018

LAHORE: Former Sindh chief minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim called on Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) President and former prime minister Chaudhry Shujat Hussain and former deputy prime minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi at their residence here Sunday.

PML Secretary General and MNA Tariq Bashir Cheema, Kamil Ali Agha, Muhammad Basharat Raja and other party leaders were also present during the meeting.

PML leaders said that the circumstances demanded that all Muslim Leaguers should unite on one platform as the country was divided in provincialism. They called for the elimination of provincial prejudices, unity of the motherland and pulling it out of problems and difficulties.

Speaking on the occasion, Shujat Hussain said that those having faith in two-nation theory had gathered at the platform of Muslim League and established Pakistan. “For accomplishing the objectives for which Pakistan was created, we will have to unite all Muslim Leagues again so that the country does not face crises every day and the problems of common and poor man can be solved,” he added.

He further said that the nation should get such leadership which demonstrates good intention, vision and has the best capabilities.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/03/04/all-muslim-leaguers-should-unite/

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PUC rallies in solidarity with Syrian Muslims

MARCH 5, 2018

Lahore: The Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) Sunday held a demonstration, demanding the governments of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries to play their effective role to help stop ongoing massacre of Syrian people.

A protest was staged here in front of the Lahore Press Club on the call of Pakistan Ulema Council, in which leadership of Pakistan Ulema Council and other religious organisations while expressing solidarity with Syrian people underlined that United Nations and Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) have failed miserably to stop ongoing massacre of Syrian people. Russian, US and Iranian leadership should allow Syrian people to decide their future themselves. Foreign interference in Syria has multiplied miseries of Syrian people. Enemies of Islam and Muslims have already devastated Yemen, Iraq and Syria with objectives to target sanctity of Harmain Al Sharifain. The clerics also stated that terrorist organisation Daesh is being supported by enemies of Islam and Muslims to wreak havoc in Muslim world.

Leadership of Pakistan Ulema Council including Chairman Pakistan Ulema Council Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, Maulana Shafi Qasmi, Haji Muhammad Tayyab Qadri, Maulana Asad Ullah Farooq, Maulana Ashfaq Patafi, Maulana Aseed ur Rehman, Maulana Qari Abdul Hakim Athar, Maulana Zubair Zahid, Maulana Shamsul Haq, Maulana Hassan Ahmed Hasni, Maulana Abdullah Rasheedi, Maulana Abdullah Haqqani and Maulana Mubashar Rahimi addressing the protest demonstration stated that conspiracies are being hatched to create sectarian division within Muslim Ummah. Enemies of Islam and Muslims are creating divisions in strong and stable Muslim countries on account of sectarian grounds to create anarchy and instability in Muslim world. Russia testing its missile technology on unarmed people of Syria and it is a lamentable fact that entire Muslim world is silent on this brutal massacre of Syrians. World powers are supporting terrorist organisation to make havoc in Muslim countries. Russian, US and Iranian leadership should allow Syrian people to decide their future themselves. The clerics said that Muslim world have to get united to safeguard sanctity of Harmain Al Sharifain as enemies of Islam and Muslims have devastated Iraq and Yemen and now Syria is under extreme chaos. Leadership of Muslim Ummah have to take serious action on prevailing challenges of Muslim world.

Chairman Pakistan Ulema Council Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi also announced on this occasion that countrywide campaign would be launched to raise voice for the oppressed people of Syria in aegis of Pakistan Ulema Council.

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/210624/puc-rallies-solidarity-syrian-muslims/

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JI chief says ‘waderas’ still not defeated in Karachi’s politics

Mar 05, 2018

KARACHI: Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Ameer Senator Sirajul Haq on Sunday said that ‘waderas’ (feudals) have yet not been defeated in Karachi’s ‘ideological’ politics since the elected representatives of the megacity sold their votes in the recent Senate elections.

Addressing a meeting at Karachi Press Club (KPC), he demanded that the Mutahidda Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) should tell the people of Karachi that for how much money was their mandate sold. He further asked the chief justice of Pakistan should to take notice of the horse trading in Senate elections.

He said we will not leave the people of Karachi alone and will develop a new leadership based on youth to resolve the issues of the city. He regretted the problems faced by the people of Karachi including the lack of clean water, electricity and unemployment.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/03/04/ji-chief-says-waderas-still-not-defeated-in-karachis-politics/

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New US advisors hope to give Afghan soldiers a vital boost

Mar 05, 2018

WASHINGTON: A brigade of seasoned American soldiers has arrived in Afghanistan in recent days on a much-trumpeted mission to offer a new type of training and motivation to the beleaguered Afghan partners.

Pentagon officials hope that the deployment of hundreds of battle-hardened, expert troops across the country will help turn the tide in the war, but Afghanistan watchers are sceptical about how much difference they can make in the 16-year-old conflict.

Most of the troops in the so-called Security Force Assistance Brigade, or SFAB, have multiple Afghanistan combat deployments under their belts, speak some level of Pashto or Dari, and after having themselves undergone special training, have now volunteered to return.

“They are coming here because they are passionate about the mission,” Navy Captain Tom Gresback, a spokesman for NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Kabul, said.

The United States and NATO have already tried various training models for Afghan security forces, but even after all these years, many units remain beset by corruption and desertions and are suffering horrendous casualty rates.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/03/04/new-us-advisors-hope-to-give-afghan-soldiers-a-vital-boost/

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Police seek access to Nadra, FBR, SBP records

Imran Ayub

March 05, 2018

KARACHI: The Sindh police have demanded access to Nadra, Federal Bureau of Revenue and State Bank of Pakistan data in order to catch terrorists and curb the menace of terrorism.

This is one of the measures the police have suggested in their draft counter-terrorism strategy which they have forwarded to federal and provincial authorities for approval.

A copy of the draft is available to Dawn. It elaborates challenges relating to terrorism, their fast changing shapes, growing reliance of militant outfits on technology and recommendations by the police.

Sindh Additional IGP of the Counter-Terrorism Department Dr Sanaullah Abbasi, who holds a PhD degree, finalised the draft after taking inputs from different units of the Sindh police, law-enforcement agencies fighting terrorism in their respective countries and key men from different walks of life who identified the causes behind growing extremism and militancy.

The draft proposed crucial measures needed for well-coordinated and result-oriented fight against terrorism. It also suggested strong border management and high-tech video surveillance systems, and smooth coordination between law-enforcement and intelligence agencies.

When asked about access to key institutions’ data, a senior official close to the development said the law-enforcement agency had a principal viewpoint that they could not take prompt action and complete investigation on time if they did not have easy access to the records.

“Law-enforcement agencies across the world enjoy direct access to their national database and financial institutions,” said the official.

“Here, we (the police) are bound to follow certain sets of rules or procedures to acquire any information related to Nadra or banks. The ideal situation demands data terminals of Nadra, SBP and FBR at the police headquarters to make policing more effective,” he added.

The draft also shared the history of terrorism in Pakistan and the ideology behind it.

“Terrorism is among the topmost threats to Pakistan,” said the draft.

“It is a complex issue which is caused by multitude of factors ranging from external developments to internal situation. It is damaging our economy, political stability, national security, integrity and the social sector.”

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1393228/police-seek-access-to-nadra-fbr-sbp-records

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Army committed to Balochistan’s development: COAS

MARCH 5, 2018

GWADAR/QUETTA: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa Sunday said that Pakistan Army will extend full support to the socio-economic development of Balochistan.

“Balochistan’s progress is Pakistan’s progress,” the COAS said while laying the foundation stone of a desalination plant in Gwadar supported by the UAE and Swiss governments.

The project fulfils a long-awaited demand of the local population and will provide them with 4.4 million gallons of water per day with a capacity to increase the production to 8.8 million gallons per day. The desalination plant will get completed in eight months and help resolve the scarcity of drinking water in the area.

While highlighting the importance of ongoing projects as part of Khushal Balochistan programme, the COAS said that all measures in coordination with the civilian authorities would be taken to bring peace and prosperity in the province. He said that these development projects will transform the lives of people of Balochistan. The potential of Balochistan as a regional economic hub will only be realised if people of the province are best served by these projects, he maintained.

Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudoos Bazinjo, ambassador of UAE in Pakistan, Commander Southern Command Lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa, DG FWO and large number of locals were present on the occasion.

The COAS is in Balochistan on a two-day visit, according to a statement by the Inter-Services Public Relations.

The COAS will meet local tribal elders during his visit. He will also review the ‘Khushhal Balochistan’ project and security situation in Gwadar and Turbat, according to the ISPR.

Earlier in the day, the Frontier Corps seized a huge cache of arms and ammunition in Dera Bugti.

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/210603/army-committed-balochistans-development-coas/

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Successful conduct of Senate elections victory of whole nation: Marriyum Aurangzeb

March 04, 2018

Islamabad: Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb said on Sunday that successful holding of Senate elections is a victory for the whole nation and democratic process in the country.

In an interview with state-run Television, she said the timely conduct of Senate elections was the top priority of the government.

She congratulated the whole nation and said it was not only the victory of PML-N but the democratic people of Pakistan. She said due to prudent policies of the government, 1100 MW electricity was generated and it is a historical achievement.

She said PTI chairman`s non-participation in Senate election exposes how much he loves democracy in the country.

https://nation.com.pk/04-Mar-2018/successful-conduct-of-senate-elections-victory-of-whole-nation-marriyum-aurangzeb

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Arab World

 

Iraq government urged to seize assets of Saddam cronies

March 05, 2018

BAGHDAD: The Iraqi government has been urged to seize the assets of dozens of relatives and cronies of executed dictator Saddam Hussein, in a letter seen Sunday by AFP.

The letter from the Accountability and Justice Committee was sent to the prime minister’s office as well as to the ministries of finance, justice and agriculture.

It lists Saddam-era government ministers and officials from his Baath Party, including some who are in prison, who have been executed or have died, as well as the names of their wives, children, grandchildren and other relatives.

Among those named is Ali Hassan al-Majid, a cousin of Saddam better known as “Chemical Ali”, who was hanged in 2010 for ordering the 1988 gassing of thousands of Kurds. Tareq Aziz, a veteran foreign minister who held the post of deputy prime minister before Saddam was ousted in the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq , is also named in the letter.

Sentenced to death in 2013, Aziz, the only Christian in Saddam’s inner circle, died two years later in prison.

His son Ziad, who lives in Jordan, condemned the letter as nothing more than “a stunt to win votes” in Iraq’s May 12 legislative election.

“We’ve been subjected to pressure and injustice for 15 years, it’s enough,” he told AFP in a telephone interview. “When will the spite of this so-called government end?”

Ziad Aziz denied his family had any assets, saying his father’s house in Baghdad had already been seized by prominent Shiite politician Ammar al-Hakim.

In February, Iraqi authorities published lists of names of people wanted on suspicion of belonging to the Baath Party, the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda.

It included the name of Saddam’s daughter Raghad, who lives in Jordan.

https://nation.com.pk/05-Mar-2018/iraq-government-urged-to-seize-assets-of-saddam-cronies

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Egyptian Delegation Meets with Islamic Jihad Movement's Leader

Mar. 4, 2018

CAIRO – 4 March 2018: A top Egyptian security delegation met on Sunday with leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement (PIJ) in Gaza strip, Khaled el-Batsh, to resume efforts to complete the Palestinian reconciliation.

On March 1, the Egyptian security delegation also met with Head of political bureau of Hamas Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza regarding the same case.

The PIJ movement aims to establish a sovereign Palestinian Islamic state within the geographical boundaries of Mandatory Palestine before 1948. The organization completely rejects the political process and asserts that its objectives can only be achieved through military means.

In 1990, the headquarters of PIJ moved to the Syrian capital, Damascus, where it continues to be based, with offices in Beirut, Tehran, and Khartoum.

In the same context, on February 25, an Egyptian security delegation arrived in Gaza Strip to discuss the recent developments regarding the reconciliation agreement signed between long-time Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas in Egypt.

Since the signing of the reconciliation agreement in Cairo in mid-October, Egypt has sent several security delegations to the Gaza Strip to follow up on the recently-established government's work.

On February 9, a high-level Hamas delegation led by the political bureau chief Ismail Hanya arrived in Cairo to discuss the implementation process of the Palestinian reconciliation with Egyptian officials. Hamas’ visit comes amid a massive security operation “Sinai 2018” launched by Egypt’s army and police forces to purge the country from terrorism.

Full report at:

https://www.egypttoday.com/Article/1/44388/Egyptian-delegation-meets-with-Islamic-Jihad-Movement-s-leader

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4 soldiers, 10 jihadists killed in Egypt Sinai campaign

March 05, 2018

CAIRO : Egypt’s military said on Sunday four soldiers and 10 jihadists were killed in a military operation in Sinai against Islamic State group jihadists .

The deaths raise military casualties to at least 16 dead, along with more than 100 jihadists , since the start of the operation on February 9, according to previous army tolls.

The army launched the campaign after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is standing in elections for his second term this month, gave them a three month deadline to crush IS in Sinai.

Sisi issued his ultimatum in November after suspected Islamic State gunmen massacred more than 300 worshippers in a Sinai mosque associated with Muslim Sufi mystics.

IS in Sinai has been among the group’s most resilient affiliates, killing hundreds of soldiers , policemen and civilians in Sinai and elsewhere in Egypt.

It has killed scores of Christians in church bombings and shootings, and bombed a Russian airliner carrying tourists from an Egyptian resort in 2015, killing all 224 people on board.

Full report at:

https://nation.com.pk/05-Mar-2018/4-soldiers-10-jihadists-killed-in-egypt-sinai-campaign

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Syria's Assad vows to continue anti-terror operations in eastern Ghouta

Mar 4, 2018

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to continue operations in eastern Ghouta, stressing that they are part of the country's battle against terrorism.

"We will continue fighting terrorism ... and the Ghouta operation is a continuation of fighting terrorism," said Assad during a Sunday broadcast on state television.

"There is no contradiction between a truce and combat operations. The progress achieved yesterday and the day before in Ghouta by the Syrian Arab Army was made during this truce," he added.

The Syrian president was referring to a Russian-proposed daily humanitarian ceasefire from 9 am to 2 pm local time.

"Therefore we must continue with the operation in parallel with opening the way for civilians to leave," he added.

He further went on to dismiss Western claims concerning the humanitarian situation in eastern Ghouta as ridiculous false accusations. "The humanitarian situation which the West speaks of from time to time, is a very ridiculous lie, as ridiculous as the western officials who repeat it."

Eastern Ghouta, a besieged area on the outskirts of Damascus that is home to some 400,000 people, has witnessed deadly violence over the past few weeks, with Takfiri terrorists launching mortar attacks on the Syrian capital in the face of an imminent humiliating defeat.

“We have not started from Ghouta; we have started since the first day in combating terrorism in every place, we have started in Aleppo, Homs, Dayr al-Zawr; the operation in Ghouta is a continuation of combating terrorism in different places,” Assad added. The Syrian president also condemned accusations by the West over Damascus using chemical weapons, adding that such claims were only an excuse to attack the Syrian army.

"Most western officials spoke about the use of chemical weapons only to come back after some days to say we have no proof. So they are damaging their credibility, and casting doubt over these allegations, with their own words," he stressed. “In addition, we abandoned the chemical weapon in 2013 and there is an organization concerned in inquiring this issue, and if there was any evidence, it would announce this thing, so I repeat, it is a mere blackmail which is used as a pretext to direct strikes against the Syrian army."

Syria signed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 2013 and surrendered its stockpiles of chemical weapons months later to a joint mission led by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry.

Western governments and their allies, however, have never stopped pointing the finger at Damascus whenever an apparent chemical attack takes place.

Referring to the US-led coalition's continued airstrikes on civilian positions, Assad noted that coalition is simply Daesh’s air force.    

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country.

Earlier in the day, Syrian government forces secured a humanitarian corridor for civilians to leave the militant-held enclave of eastern Ghouta.

According Syria’s official news agency, SANA, army troopers are protecting the safe corridor set up for the evacuation of civilians via al-Wafideen checkpoint, stressing that preparations were underway to deliver food aid to civilians trapped in eastern Ghouta.

Meanwhile, the Russian military has announced that militants based in eastern Ghouta have imposed a curfew during humanitarian pauses to prevent civilians from leaving the enclave.

The militants have also banned mass gatherings of civilians, Interfax quoted Russian Major-General Vladimir Zolotukhin as saying on Sunday.

Russia has designated four safe passage routes in Eastern Ghouta after a ceasefire was declared across Syria by the United Nations Security Council.

Assad meets high-ranking Iranian delegation

Also on Sunday, Assad met with the Iranian Foreign Minister's Special Assistant for Political Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari and his accompanying delegation in Damascus.

According to SANA, during the meeting, Assad highlighted the importance of prior and permanent coordination between Syria and friendly countries on various subjects.

He further stressed that the Syrian people must be the final decision-makers in any future political options in their country.

He also stressed the need to develop a common ground and a clear understanding of the most important outcomes of Sochi Congress.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/03/04/554381/syria-assad-eastern-ghouta-operations

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Syria regime retakes quarter of rebel enclave as civilians flee

March 05, 2018

DAMASCUS  -  Syria’s regime seized control of over a quarter of rebel-held Eastern Ghouta on the edge of Damascus after two weeks of devastating bombardment, sending hundreds of civilians into flight, a monitor said Sunday.

As the United States, Britain and France stepped up pressure on Damascus and Moscow to end the bloodshed, the United Nations said it plans to deliver much-needed humanitarian aid to Eastern Ghouta’s besieged residents.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said regime forces had advanced to within three kilometres (two miles) of Douma, the enclave’s main town, after retaking “more than 25 percent” of Eastern Ghouta, in operations mostly through farmlands.

The advance into the last major opposition enclave near the capital, on the back of 15 days of air strikes, artillery fire and rocket attacks that are reported to have killed more than 640 civilians, sent hundreds into flight to western parts of the enclave.

Regime backer Russia last week announced daily five-hour “humanitarian pauses” in the enclave. But while the air campaign has eased, fighting has intensified on the ground. With the support of Russian warplanes, the Syrian military has advanced on several fronts, retaking control of farms and villages, a military source told state media. The source said government forces seized a number of districts including Al-Nashabiyeh and Otaya, and had “eradicated terrorist groups” on the eastern outskirts of Damascus. They have reached the centre of the enclave, to the edge of Beit Sawa, according to the Observatory, a Britain-based war monitor.

After advances in recent days that saw the regime seize control of 10 percent of Eastern Ghouta, rebel fighters clashed with regime forces on Sunday in the eastern part of the enclave, the Observatory said.

An AFP correspondent inside Eastern Ghouta saw hundreds of civilians on Sunday fleeing from the town of Beit Sawa in the southeast of the enclave.

The Observatory said some 2,000 civilians had fled regime shelling and clashes in eastern areas to western parts of the enclave. “Everyone is on the road. There’s destruction everywhere,” said 35-year-old Abu Khalil, carrying a little girl in his arms wounded on the cheek.

On Saturday, 18 civilians, including three children, were killed in regime bombardment of Eastern Ghouta, according to the Observatory.

At least 76 pro-regime fighters and 43 rebels from Jaish al-Islam have also been killed in clashes since February 25, it says.

While falling short of a 30-day ceasefire demanded by the United Nations, Russia’s announcement of daily humanitarian pauses in fighting had raised hopes of some aid deliveries and evacuations.

A convoy of “46 truckloads of health and nutrition supplies, along with food for 27,500 people in need” would finally enter the battered enclave on Monday, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

The OCHA said further deliveries would follow and that it had “approval” to help 70,000 needy residents.

Moscow has offered safe passage to non-combatants wishing to leave Eastern Ghouta during the pause, but no Syrian civilians have left the enclave since the first break in fighting took effect on Tuesday, the Observatory says. Damascus and Moscow have accused rebels of preventing civilians from leaving.

On the international front, US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May said Russia and Syria were responsible for the “heart-breaking human suffering” in Eastern Ghouta.

The two leaders, during a phone call, “agreed it was a humanitarian catastrophe, and that the overwhelming responsibility for the heart-breaking human suffering lay with the Syrian regime and Russia, as the regime’s main backer”, the premier’s office said.

French President Emmanuel Macron called on his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani to put the “necessary pressure” on Syria’s regime to halt “indiscriminate” attacks on civilians.

Also in a phone call, Macron underscored the “particular responsiblity for Iran, because of its ties to the regime , regarding the implementation of the humanitarian truce” sought by the UN, his office said.

Full report at:

https://nation.com.pk/05-Mar-2018/syria-regime-retakes-quarter-of-rebel-enclave-as-civilians-flee

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KSA Crown Prince Begins First Foreign Tour In Egypt

March 05, 2018

CAIRO - Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman landed in the Egyptian capital on Sunday at the start of his first foreign tour as heir to the throne. A beaming Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi greeted the prince at Cairo airport after he descended the red-carpeted steps of his plane.

The head of Prince Mohammed's office, Bader al-Asaker, tweeted that the prince's plane was escorted by Egyptian fighter jets when it entered Egypt's airspace.

Prince Mohammed will hold meetings with Sisi, a key regional ally, and other officials in Egypt before flying off to Britain on Wednesday and then later this month the United States.

Saudi Arabia views Egypt as a cornerstone of regional stability, after the former army chief Sisi overthrew his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Riyadh viewed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood with suspicion and at one point briefly recalled its ambassador from Cairo during his turbulent year in power. It has since showered Cairo with aid to prop up the country's economy, in a relationship that has led to some controversy in Egypt.

In 2015, during a visit by King Salman to Cairo, the two countries agreed on the transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, sparking protests in Egypt.

Sisi ratified the deal last year, and Egypt's top court annulled lower court rulings for and against the treaty on the eve of the crown prince 's arrival.

Prince Mohammed's visit comes ahead of Egypt's presidential polls in late March, with Sisi expected to win a second four-year term. The visit "will be interpreted as proof of Saudi support for Sisi to remain as the president of Egypt", Mostafa Kamel al-Sayed, a political science professor at Cairo University, told AFP. Cairo and Riyadh have maintained close ties, although Egypt has signalled a lack of enthusiasm for Saudi regional policy, both on the Yemen war and a potential escalation with Iran. But it is among a bloc of Arab nations that joined a Saudi-led boycott since June of Qatar.

The crown prince 's tour also aims to court investors and comes after a tumultuous period that has seen a military shake-up and a royal purge in Saudi Arabia, part of his sweeping power play.

Full report at:

https://nation.com.pk/05-Mar-2018/ksa-crown-prince-begins-first-foreign-tour-in-egypt

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Syrian Army Imposes Control over 20% of Eastern Ghouta

Mar 04, 2018

Field sources reported that the Syrian army has succeeded in cleansing terrorists from areas South-East of Eastern Ghouta during its nightly operations in the past week, and earned control of al-Nashabiyeh, Hawsh al-Salehiyeh and Otaya regions.

They added that the army soldiers have liberated almost 23sq/km of 106sq/km of territories occupied by terrorists in Eastern Ghouta during the operations.

The Syrian Army troops, in a nightly attack on Saturday and Sunday, managed to impose control over a strategic point in the depth of Eastern Ghouta after a daily truce in the region ended.

The army men stormed terrorists' strongholds in Eastern Ghouta Southwest of al-Shifouniyeh settlement and seized control of al-Ab (Ab Douma) Farms after a daily-based ceasefire in the region ended on Saturday night.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961213001464

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Syria: Terrorists Shell Medical Centre in Eastern Damascus

Mar 04, 2018

Zolotokhin reported that the terrorist groups, deployed in Eastern Ghouta, carried out mortar attack on a medical center near a checkpoint West of the village of al-Reihanah, adding that six more mortar shells landed 200 to 400 meters away from the center.

He further said that the terrorists have embarked on periodical sniper attacks at checkpoints erected at the humanitarian corridor near al-Wafedeen camp, violating the ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta.

The brigadier general said that civilians are still unable to leave Eastern Damascus via the newly-set up humanitarian corridor due to the terrorist groups' sniper and mortar attacks on the corridor, adding that the terrorists have fortified their positions in residential units, using women, children and the old as human shield. 

The spokesman had also stated earlier today that people in Eastern Ghouta have embarked on forming armed groups to confront the terrorist groups that have blocked their exit path from the militant-held regions via a humanitarian corridor.

Zolotokhin reported that some of the civil activists in Eastern Ghouta have set up small armed groups to storm terrorists' positions and open a way towards government-controlled regions in Eastern Ghouta.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961213001447

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Over 2,600 Kurdish Fighters Killed, Captured in Turkish Army Operation in Northern Syria

Mar 04, 2018

The army staff announced that 2,612 Kurdish combatants have been killed or captured in Turkey's Operation Olive Branch in Afrin region.

Earlier reports said that the Turkish Army troops and Ankara-backed militants continued Operation Olive Branch against the Kurds and captured more villages in Afrin region in Northwestern Aleppo.

The army men and their allied militants stormed the Kurdish fighters' positions and captured the village of Ba'adanli in Western Afrin.

The forces of the Operation Olive Branch further captured the villages of Jaman, Shamanli, Samanli, Kerkinli and a part of Mount Bafiloun in Shera region.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961213000933

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Syrian army forces secure humanitarian corridor in Eastern Ghouta

Mar 4, 2018

A Syrian military source says government forces have secured a humanitarian corridor for civilians to leave the militant-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta near the capital city of Damascus.

The unnamed source, in a statement released on Sunday, announced that army troopers were protecting the safe corridor set up for the evacuation of civilians via al-Wafideen checkpoint, stressing that preparations were underway to deliver food aid to civilians trapped in Eastern Ghouta, Syria’s official news agency, SANA, reported.

The statement added that Syrian government forces had advanced on several fronts in the militant-held enclave, liberating a number of farms and villages from the clutches of foreign-sponsored Takfiri militant groups.

It pointed out that army troopers had wrested complete control over the town of Nashabiyah plus several villages and farms, including Otaya, Hosh al-Salihiyah, Hosh Kharabo, Haarma and Beit Nayem.

The statement further noted that the operation had inflicted heavy losses upon terrorists from the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, and extremists allied with them.

A number of militant headquarters, tunnels and fortifications in addition to their equipment were destroyed as well.

The statement underlined that the counter-terrorism operations were being conducted outside the hours of a 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. ceasefire sponsored by Russia.

Later on Sunday, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Syrian government forces had seized roughly one quarter of the militant-held Eastern Ghouta, with director of the Britain-based monitor group, Rami Abdulrahman, adding, “Most of it is farms and there are few towns in (the captured area).”

Meanwhile, Russian Major-General Vladimir Zolotukhin stated on Sunday that terrorists who control Eastern Ghouta have imposed a curfew during humanitarian pauses, banning civilians from leaving the area through the designated humanitarian corridor.

“Civilians who violate the militants' rules are subjected to public punishment,” he said.

The Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria also stated that Takfiri militants had shelled a medical aid post close to a checkpoint near Er-Rikhan neighborhood in Eastern Ghouta.

The projectiles, however, did not result in any casualties.

Eastern Ghouta, a besieged area on the outskirts of Damascus, which is home to some 400,000 people, has witnessed deadly violence over the past few weeks, with Takfiri terrorists launching mortar attacks on the Syrian capital in the face of an imminent humiliating defeat.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/03/04/554347/Syrian-army-forces-securing-humanitarian-corridor-in-Eastern-Ghouta

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659 civilians killed in Eastern Ghouta since February: UN

5 March 2018

BEIRUT/GENEVA: Thousands of civilians have fled advances by Syrian regime forces in Eastern Ghouta in the last two days, a war monitor and a resident said, as Damascus makes rapid gains against the last major opposition enclave near the capital.

Regime forces need to advance just a few more kilometers further to split the enclave in two, said a commander in the alliance that backs President Bashar Assad who said on Sunday his forces must push on with their campaign.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said regime forces had seized around a quarter of Eastern Ghouta in a ground assault that began on Feb. 27, building on a ferocious air and artillery bombardment that has killed hundreds.

It said shelling and airstrikes have killed 659 people in Eastern Ghouta since Feb. 18, making the offensive one of the deadliest of the war, while opposition shelling of Damascus has killed 27.

A UN humanitarian official said 400,000 people in Eastern Ghouta were being subjected to unacceptable “collective punishment,” which is illegal under the Geneva Conventions.

It says shelling and airstrikes have killed 659 people in eastern Ghouta since Feb. 18, making the offensive one of the deadliest of the war, while rebel shelling of Damascus has killed 27.

Orient TV, which supports the opposition, said advances by pro-Assad forces had triggered large-scale displacement.

On the international front, US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May said Russia and Syria were responsible for the “heart-breaking human suffering” in Eastern Ghouta.

The two leaders, during a phone call, “agreed it was a humanitarian catastrophe, and that the overwhelming responsibility for the heart-breaking human suffering lay with the Syrian regime and Russia, as the regime’s main backer,” the premier’s office said.

French President Emmanuel Macron called on his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani to put the “necessary pressure” on Syria’s regime to halt “indiscriminate” attacks on civilians.

Also in a phone call, Macron underscored the “particular responsiblity for Iran, because of its ties to the regime, regarding the implementation of the humanitarian truce” sought by the UN, his office said.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1259246/middle-east

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South Asia

 

Talks at impasse as Taliban seek direct negotiations with US

Mar 4, 2018

The Afghan government's surprising new peace offer to Taliban is immediately running into a wall as the militants show no sign of shifting from their demand that talks for a conflict-ending compromise take place with Washington, not Kabul, a media report says.

Top Afghan security officials, who maintain back-channel discussions with Taliban, say formal talks are impeded by Taliban's insistence that their regime, ousted in a US-led invasion in 2001, remains Afghanistan's legitimate government, Associated Press reported on Sunday.

The new offer by the administration of President Ashraf Ghani includes incentives for militants that join negotiations and enter the political mainstream.

Ghani announced at an international conference in Kabul last week that the government would provide passports and visas to Taliban members and their families and work to remove sanctions against Taliban leaders. The group could also set up an office.

Meanwhile, US officials have conveyed messages to Taliban's political representatives in Qatar, urging the group to join talks with the Afghan government.

Alice Wells, America's top diplomat for South Asia, endorsed the overture and said the "onus" was on Taliban to demonstrate they are ready to talk "not to me or the United States, but to the sovereign and legitimate government and people of Afghanistan."

The militant group on February 28 called for direct talks with the United States in a declared bid to find a “peaceful solution” to the war in Afghanistan.

Last month, Taliban urged the "American people" to press their government to withdraw from Afghanistan. "America must end her occupation and must accept all our legitimate rights including the right to form a government consistent with the beliefs of our people."

Washington's involvement in the Afghan conflict is now in its 17th year.

Laurel Miller, who until last June was a senior American diplomat for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said the US should be clearer about what it is willing to negotiate on, including when it might start pulling forces from Afghanistan. "That could set the stage for talks," she said.

Such a timetable seems a remote prospect. Since August, when US President Donald Trump recommitted America to an indefinite military presence in the country, the US has sent in thousands of additional forces to train Afghans, bringing the total number of US troops to more than 14,000.

A peace push by the administration of former US President Barack Obama, which relied heavily on Afghanistan's neighbor Pakistan, floundered in 2015. Neighboring countries are doubtful about America's commitment to a political resolution.

For months, hopes of reviving long-stalled peace talks with Taliban have seemed virtually dead. The insurgents have continued an aggressive campaign in the countryside, where they now control or influence nearly half of Afghan territory, while staging repeated attacks in the capital despite intensified security.

Civilian casualties remain at near-peak levels, with about 10,000 reported for 2017. Since 2001, the US-led invasion has cost nearly 200,000 lives, and since 2014 additional violent attacks by regional affiliates of the Takfiri Daesh terrorists have heightened the sense of mayhem.

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/03/04/554342/US-Afghanistan-Kabul-Trump-Taliban-Daesh

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Afghan forces confiscated 21 rockets in Nangarhar province

Mar 04 2018

The Afghan national defense and security forces have confiscated at least 21 rockets during an operation in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The provincial government office in a statement said the rockets were seized during operation in Khogyani district.

The statement further added that the rockets were found during the operation in Pera Khel area and were subsequently defused before the militants manage to use them for the attacks.

In another operation, the Afghan forces discovered and defused an improvised explosive device planted by the Taliban insurgents in Mal Bazaar area of Bati Kot district.

The Afghan forces are also busy conducting clearance operations in Goshta district and as a result dozens of villages have been cleared of the militants so far, according to the provincial government.

The anti-government armed militant and the terrorist groups have not commented regarding the report so far.

Nangarhar has been among the relatively calm provinces in East of Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime but the anti-government armed militant groups have been attempting to expand their insurgency activities in some of the remote parts of the province during the recent years.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-forces-confiscated-21-rockets-in-nangarhar-province-04573/

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15 Hurt as Bangladesh Chhatra League Factions Clash at Islamic University

March 05, 2018

At least 15 people were injured in a clash between two factions of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) on Islamic University (IU) campus on Saturday night.

An internal conflict is going on between BCL IU unit President Shahinor Rahman and General Secretary Jewel Rana Halim over establishing supremacy on the campus, said BCL insiders at the university.

Hossain Ahmed Alamin, a supporter of Shahinor group, engaged in an altercation with Rezwanul Islam of Halim group at the university auditorium.

At one stage, Rezwanul and his followers beat up Alamin.

After the incident, a group of BCL activists belonging to Shahinor group stormed into the Saddam Hossain Hall and ransacked several rooms of the activists of Halim group at about 8:30pm.

Over the issue, both groups locked in a clash.

Equipped with wooden sticks and bricks, both the groups attacked each other in the corridor of the Hall, leaving at least 15 of both groups injured.

They also chased each other for about an hour.

The injured include Milon Hasan, Zulkar Nayeem, Himel Chakma and Mithu Dewan.

Disciplinary action will be taken against those found involved in clash, said Shahinor Rahman.

Full report at:

http://www.thedailystar.net/country/15-hurt-bcl-factions-clash-islamic-univ-1543504

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Bangladesh: Commander of terror outfit Ansar al-Islam arrested

Sahidul Hasan

March 4, 2018

Members of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB)-11 on Sunday arrested the commander of the military unit of Ansar al-Islam, Sadman Rahik alias Jabir from Tikatuli area of the capital. He was arrested from a flat in Paramount Concord.

He was produced before senior magistrate Ahmed Humayun where RAB appealed for his 10-day remand, but the court granted seven-day remand for interrogation.

Jabir is accused of sedition and militant activities in Narayanganj's Araihajar police station area.

Senior Assistant Director of RAB-11, Alepp Uddin, said, "Sadman Rahik alias Jabir was inspired by militant ideology in 2010. Since 2014, he has been serving as the commander of the military unit of the militant organization Ansar al-Islam."

He was also working to recruit members from different places.

Full report at:

https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/bangladesh-commander-of-terror-outfit-ansar-al-islam-arrested-1181832-2018-03-04

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Africa

 

Algeria attacks false Qatari media reports of conflict with Saudi Arabia, UAE

5 March 2018

Algeria’s Foreign Ministry has criticized false press reports published by Qatari media outlets’ claims of conflict in relations between Algiers and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

 Spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Abdulaziz ben Ali Shareef said that “Algeria's position on the Gulf crisis is clear, it stands at a distance from all its parties,” stressing that the information published by international and Gulf media on the existence of differences between Algeria, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were “wrong, if not fake”.

“Algeria's relations with its brothers in the Arabian Gulf, especially the UAE and Saudi Arabia, are distinct and are continuing,” Shareef told Algeria's al-Khobar newspaper on Sunday.

The Algerian statement came after a report published by Qatari newspaper al-Raya claimed that “Algeria has recently become a source of great concern to the UAE because of its positions contrary to it in the region, especially Algeria's position on the Gulf crisis”.

“The Algerian political and economic presence in Algeria is strong,” one Algerian diplomat said, “Thanks to the fraternal ties that bind the Algerian leadership with the leaders of the Gulf states”.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2018/03/05/Algeria-attacks-false-Qatari-media-reports-of-conflict-with-Saudi-Arabia-UAE.html

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Boko Haram: Sultan reveals plan for victims’ children

March 5, 2018

By Wale Odunsi

Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, has disclosed that traditional rulers have agreed to adopt children whose parents were killed by Boko Haram.

He announced this at the launching of a book at the weekend in Sokoto on Sunday.

The Sultan lamented that there were over 50,000 orphans at the camps of internally displaced persons across the northeast, who should be catered for by well-meaning Nigerians.

“We deliberated on this during our meeting and resolved that each emirate should adopt at least five orphans and train them in order to be useful to themselves, their societies and the country,” he said.

The monarch further appealed to wealthy individuals to adopted and training kids of those who lost their lives.

Meanwhile, the Sultan also urged Nigerians to strive and register in the ongoing voter registration as the 2019 general elections approaches.

Full report at:

http://dailypost.ng/2018/03/05/boko-haram-sultan-reveals-plan-victims-children/

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IS video 'shows deaths of US soldiers in Niger ambush'

Mar 05, 2018

The Islamic State (IS) group has published a video purporting to show an ambush in Niger in which four US soldiers were killed last October.

It is not clear why the release of the video - on an IS outlet on messaging app Telegram - was delayed until now.

The video consists mainly of raw footage, including images apparently filmed using a helmet camera belonging to one of the soldiers.

The video seems to suggest that the attack was carried out by IS militants.

It begins with still images showing an alleged pledge of allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by members of the al-Qaeda-linked, Sahel-based group Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM).

The alleged pledge was reported last month by a number of analysts but it had not been promoted by IS outlets on Telegram.

The deaths later caused controversy when the widow of one of the soldiers said President Donald Trump had made her cry during a condolence phone call by suggesting her husband "knew what he signed up for".

The video shows several armed militants walking and running in a desert area apparently heading for the ambush, reports BBC Monitoring.

It then shows footage that appears to have been filmed by one of the US soldiers. At one point the footage shows US soldiers seemingly exchanging fire with their assailants.

One soldier is then shown apparently dead.

Full report at:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-43280890

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Al-Qaeda affiliate claims responsibility for Burkina Faso attacks

4 March 2018

A Mali-based al-Qaeda affiliate claimed responsibility on Saturday for attacks in neighboring Burkina Faso that left 16 people dead, including eight gunmen, at the army headquarters and French embassy, Mauritanian news agency Alakhbar reported.

Eighty others were wounded in the coordinated attacks in the capital Ouagadougou, which follow two other major assaults there in the past two years.

The group, Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), often uses Alakhbar and other Mauritanian news agencies to claim responsibility for strikes against civilian and military targets across West Africa's Sahel region.

Alakhbar, citing a message from the group, reported that the attacks were carried out in response to the killing of one of JNIM's leaders, Mohamed Hacen al-Ancari, in a recent raid by French forces.

French intervention

France intervened in Mali in 2013 to drive back Islamist militants who had seized the country's desert north. It retains about 4,000 troops deployed across its former colonies in the arid Sahel region as part of the anti-terror Operation Barkhane and has aggressively gone after militant group leaders.

Previous attacks in Ouagadougou and near Burkina Faso's porous border with Mali were also conducted by allies of al-Qaeda in reprisal for Burkina Faso's participation in a regional fight against Islamist militants.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for attacks on a restaurant and hotel in Ouagadougou in January 2016 in which 30 people were killed. AQIM merged with other local militant groups last year to form JNIM.

Suspected militants also killed at least 18 people last August during a raid on a restaurant in Ouagadougou.

In a televised speech on Saturday, President Roch Kabore urged the public on Saturday to collaborate more closely with the armed forces.

“In these difficult moments, I would like to reaffirm to Africa and the entire world my unshakeable faith in the capacity of the Burkinabe people to preserve their dignity and ferociously oppose their enemies,” Kabore said.

Militant groups have regrouped since the French intervention in 2013. They have expanded their operations deep into central Mali, which they have used as a launchpad to strike Burkina Faso, Niger and other regional countries.

Burkinabe authorities said four gunmen were killed at army headquarters, where the assailants also detonated a car bomb, and four more were killed at the embassy. Two attackers were also captured on Friday.

Local residents were left to wonder how their country remained vulnerable to such attacks.

“If the army headquarters is totally wiped out there is a problem,” said Souleymane Traore, director of the newspaper Le Quotidien.

“We are really revolted by this insecurity and we must point the finger at those who are responsible.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2018/03/04/Al-Qaeda-affiliate-claims-responsibility-for-Burkina-Faso-attacks.html

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UN suspends aid work in northeast Nigeria after militant attack

Mar 4, 2018

The United Nations (UN) has stopped its relief operations in northeastern Nigeria following an attack by suspected Boko Haram militants that left three humanitarian workers dead and at least three others missing.

The UN said in a statement late on Friday that aid work had been suspended in the town of Rann in Borno State, which hosts a refugee camp where 55,000 people displaced by militancy are settled.

“All humanitarian personnel have been evacuated from Rann, and all humanitarian deliveries in the area have been temporarily suspended,” the UN statement said.

The three aid workers, alongside eight security personnel guarding the camp, were killed in a militant attack on Rann late on Thursday. It is suspected that the three missing aid workers — possibly females — have been abducted by the militants.

Two of the deceased aid workers were contractors with the International Organization for Migration, working as coordinators in the camp, and the third deceased aid worker was a medical doctor employed as a third party consultant with UNICEF.

“At the time of the attack, over 40 humanitarian workers were in Rann,” the statement said.

In a similar measure, medical aid organization Doctors without Borders said on Friday that it had suspended its charity operations in Rann, too, and that it had evacuated both local and foreign staff.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s security forces have reportedly driven out the militants from the town of Rann, which is located in Nigeria’s militant- infested lawless northeast.

Last month, militants kidnapped 110 girls from a school in the northeastern town of Dapchi.

The kidnapping of the college girls from impoverished families in Dapchi, which bears similarities to the 2014 abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls from the city of Chibok, has caused outrage in the country.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari says the army and air force are searching for the girls and are doing everything in their power to save them.

However, the biggest fear of the families in Dapchi is that they will have to wait many years until they receive any news from their daughters.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/03/04/554291/Nigeria-UN-aid-suspension-Rann-Boko-Haram

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Kenyan police seek to recover cache of arms after Al-Shabaab attack

2018-03-04

MANDERA, Kenya, March 4 (Xinhua) -- Kenyan police have stepped up search for the Somali extremists who attacked two camps in northeast Mandera county and stole a huge cache of arms after the two raids in which five police officers were killed.

A police report released on Sunday said the terrorists blamed for sporadic attacks along Somalia border also looted the armory during the attacks, escaping with 16 G3 rifles, 26 AK47 rifles, 5 FN rifles, one F3 rifle, one M60 machine gun, one commando mortar 60mm and one base plate mortar 60mm.

The police report which was released two days after the raid by the Al-Shabaab militants says unknown number of ammunitions were also looted in the incident that left 12 police officers injured.

The police said on Friday they have launched a major manhunt for Al-Shabaab group leader that attacked two police camps in Mandera County.

Police spokesman Charles Owino said Jamaa Nuh Abdille, who fled to Somalia with others after the Friday dawn attack in Fino, was behind the killing of five police officers.

"We have since identified the leader of the group that carried out the attack as Jamaa Nuh Abdille who fled with others after the attack to Somalia and we are hot on their trail," Owino said.

According to police report, the terrorists also destroyed a communication mast in the area affecting communication in general. Preliminary findings show the terrorists used Improvised Explosive Devises and other forms of explosives in the attack.

Northeastern Regional Coordinator Mohamud Saleh said they are pursuing various leads into the attack in efforts to recover the stolen ammunition.

"We have mobilized to ensure the area is safe," Saleh said on Sunday. On Wednesday, security agents repulsed Al-Shabaab terrorists who tried to attack two police stations in Wajir.

Three suspects were arrested after they were chased by security forces from Ijara camps in the failed incident.

Police on the ground said the group had fired into the camps before officers there fired back in an exchange that lasted almost 20 minutes.

Full report at:

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-03/04/c_137015871.htm

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/muzaffarnagar--muslims-agree-to-remove-mosque-for-bridge-construction/d/114486

 

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