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Islamic World News ( 16 Sept 2021, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan in Hurry to Recognize, Boost the Caretaker "Islamic Emirate “In Afghanistan

New Age Islam News Bureau

17 September 2021

 

• Pakistan Prime Minister Says, ‘Afghanistan Can't Be 'Controlled From Outside'

• Victorious, Taliban Face Fierce New Test in Keeping the Peace within Their Own Ranks In Afghanistan

• Those Who Defend Democracy in Afghanistan, Oppose Taliban Will Be Suppressed: Taliban Army Chief

• Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Must Strengthen Network among Moderate Institutions Associated With Islam: Modi

 

Pakistan

Pakistan in Hurry to Recognize, Boost the Caretaker "Islamic Emirate “In Afghanistan

• Pakistan Prime Minister Says, ‘Afghanistan Can't Be 'Controlled From Outside'

• Afghanistan Refugee Crisis Threatens To Prolong Amid Pakistan Playing Ball with Taliban, Says Expert

• Taliban must fulfil promises made in Afghanistan, says PM at SCO summit

• Saudi Ambassador, Pakistan Ulema Council Chairman Meeting: ‘Islamabad, Riyadh Have Unanimous Stance on Islamic World Issues’

• Leaked ECP letter to Nadra over internet voting sparks controversy

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South Asia

• Victorious, Taliban Face Fierce New Test in Keeping the Peace within Their Own Ranks In Afghanistan

• Those Who Defend Democracy in Afghanistan, Oppose Taliban Will Be Suppressed: Taliban Army Chief

• China, Pakistan In Rush to Exploit Weakening Afghan Economy: Report

• Taliban's Senior Leader Anas Haqqani Denies Reports of Rifts within Taliban Leadership

• Afghan finance ministry working on getting public sector salaries paid

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India

• Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Must Strengthen Network among Moderate Institutions Associated With Islam: Modi

• Kerala Church Sparks Row Mentioning 'Love Jihad' In Students' Handbook; Expresses Regret After Protest

• Narcotic jihad: Leaders make beeline for Pala bishop’s house extending support

• Kerala Congress takes mantle of settling ‘love jihad and narcotic jihad’ row, meets religious heads

• Congress ally Muslim League calls for caste-based census in Kerala

• J&K Govt staffers with terror-related kin, co-habitants to get adverse verification report

• Take Note of Pak-Backed J&K Groups In US, Biden Govt Told

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Europe

• Putin says Russia needs to work with the Taliban

• France to be 'especially careful' about Taliban's links with terror groups: Macron

• Islamic State's Greater Sahara Boss Al-Sahrawi Killed By French Forces in Sahel Region

• German police prevent 'Islamist-motivated threat' on synagogue, says minister

• Macron calls death of leader in Islamic State in Sahara a 'major success' for France

• Dutch foreign minister resigns over Afghanistan crisis

• Unfreeze Afghanistan assets abroad, neighbour Uzbekistan says

• Afghanistan G20 meeting to be held after UN assembly: Italy’s Foreign Minister

• Germany arrests 4 for alleged terror attack plot on synagogue

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Arab World

• UAE, UK announce ‘Partnership for the Future’, new era of bilateral ties

• UAE, UK ink $10 billion deal during Abu Dhabi Crown Prince State visit

• Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s visit to the UK: ‘A friendship for the next 50 years’

• Egypt's Al-Azhar reiterates centrality of Palestinian cause to Muslims

• Lebanon raises gasoline prices by over 37 pct amid crippling shortages of supplies

• Lebanon’s finance minister signs new forensic audit contract

• US State Department approves $500 mln military deal with Saudi Arabia

• EU lawmakers call for Lebanon sanctions if Mikati’s government fails

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Southeast Asia

• China’s President Xi: Afghanistan should eradicate terrorism

• On Malaysia Day, Sarawak CM vows to reject any attempts against religious freedom

• Jawi: Friday prayers allowed in KL, Putrajaya mosques with up to 500 congregants

• Kelantan Islamic Religious Council allows 40 congregants for Friday, obligatory prayers from tomorrow

• Covid-19: Tabung Haji says ready to manage pilgrims’ health, safety for next Haj season

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Mideast

• Official: India Seriously Seeking Extensive Ties with Iran

• FM: Iran Interested in Further Expansion of Economic Ties with S. Africa

• Amnesty condemns ‘climate of impunity’ over Iran custody deaths

• Envoy: Origin of Contamination Declared by IAEA Unknown to Iran

• Iran Reiterates Support for Lebanon, Readiness to Help

• Ambassador: Iran Wants Removal of Sanctions in Action

• Iran arrests rapper who blasted ‘regime apologists’: Rights group

• Yemen president renews support to UN-led effort to end war in Yemen

• Houthi militia group arrested for assassination plot on government military officials

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Africa

• Boko Haram targets military convoy in Nigeria, kills 12 soldiers

• Somali president suspends premier’s power to hire, fire officials

• Somalia’s regional leaders urge end to power struggle

• Egypt’s President Sisi pushes for December elections in Libya

• Haftar’s eastern forces and Chadian rebels clash in southern Libya

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North America

• US Treasury sanctions five Turkey-based al-Qaeda facilitators

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:    https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/taliban-afghanistan-islamic-emirate-pakistan/d/125378

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 Pakistan in Hurry to Recognize, Boost the Caretaker "Islamic Emirate “In Afghanistan

17 September 2021



 Kabul [Afghanistan], September 17 (ANI): While the other stakeholders are restraining themselves to recognise the new Taliban regime in Afghanistan, Pakistan is in a hurry to somehow recognize and boost the caretaker "Islamic Emirate".

Paul Antonopoulos, writing in Greek City Times said that the Pakistani minister openly promoted the Taliban regime, while the official line is that recognizing the new regime should come only after the conditions that the Taliban themselves have assured, are actually met.

The Taliban had promised an inclusive government that would have representatives from non-Taliban, especially ethnic minorities and women.

An informal agreement had been reached for not resuming international flights to Kabul until these conditions were met. But Pakistan is seen as having breached it by sending the first PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) flight on September 13, and publicising it, reported Greek City Times.

While Pakistan officially insists on preconditions, the unofficial argument is made through the media.

Dawn newspaper, for example, has argued in its editorial that a world that has "no qualms" in dealing with Saudi Arabia, should not be insisting upon the nascent Kabul regime.

The unstated part of the argument is that Saudi Arabia is a monarchy that has all types of restrictions on its people in terms of religion and democratic norms.

This reference to Saudi Arabia, a leading Islamic nation, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member and the highest seat of Islam is significant, says Antonopoulos.

While the OIC has not taken a stand, so far, Riyadh has issued a statement that does not seek the Taliban to be inclusive or includes women in their government.

This is also a possible effort to go past Qatar, a rival of Riyadh, which has become the most important hub of all diplomatic and political activity on the Afghanistan front for several months now, says Antonopoulos.

The Turkish ambassador's remarks about the Taliban government also need to be seen in that light - that the provisional government is "not inclusive", that it does not have non-Taliban individuals and that other ethnic groups are not included.

A relatively liberal Turkey, when compared to Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Islamic world, also talks of including women and of "human rights", reported Greek City Times.

Every country is acting as per its own perceptions and interests, but an 'inclusive' government is the common point of all.

The unstated part here is the fear of inciting anger and disapproval of the US, the European Union and influential countries like Australia, Canada, Japan and others, besides the United Nations.

The Kabul government includes several persons who are proscribed by the UN, the US, the EU, and the Taliban as a group itself stands labelled as a 'terrorist' body through formal resolutions.

Removing the label and the restrictions and sanctions that it carries would take much conferring, consensus-building and hence, time, says Antonopoulos. (ANI)

Source: Yahoo News

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/pakistan-hurry-recognize-boost-taliban-013038064.html

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Pakistan Prime Minister Says, ‘Afghanistan Can't Be 'Controlled From Outside'

Sep 17, 2021

 

From L: Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Imran Khan pose for a photo prior to a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council of Heads of State in Bishkek. — AFP

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said Afghanistan could not be "controlled from the outside" and that Islamabad will continue to support the war-torn neighbouring country even as he urged the Taliban to fulfil the promises they have made. Addressing the 20th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council of Heads of State (SCO-CHS) Summit in Tajikistan's capital, Dushanbe, Khan highlighted the need to mobilise international support for an immediate humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan which is now ruled by the Taliban.

"We must remember that the Afghan government is primarily depended on foreign aid," he was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.

"The Taliban must fulfil the promises they have made.

"Pakistan has a vital interest in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan and will continue to lend its support," Khan said, adding that Afghanistan could not be "controlled from the outside".

The eight-member SCO grouping of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan is holding its 21st summit at Dushanbe.

Afghanistan is an observer in the SCO.

The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan on August 15, two weeks before the US' complete troop withdrawal on August 31 after a costly two-decade war. This forced Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to flee the country to the UAE.

The Taliban insurgents stormed across Afghanistan and captured all major cities in a matter of days, as Afghan security forces trained and equipped by the US and its allies melted away.

Thousands of Afghan nationals and foreigners have fled the country to escape the new Taliban regime and to seek asylum in different nations, including the US and many European nations, resulting in total chaos and deaths.

Source: Times of India

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/afghanistan-cant-be-controlled-from-outside-pak-pm-khan-at-sco-summit/articleshow/86287328.cms

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Victorious, Taliban Face Fierce New Test In Keeping The Peace Within Their Own Ranks In Afghanistan

Sep 17, 2021

KABUL: Having conquered Afghanistan, the Taliban now face the formidable task of keeping the peace within their own ranks and running a country on the brink of ruin, experts say.

To outsiders, the hardliners may appear homogenous and united on all ideological and strategic matters.

But like any other large political organisation, the decades-old Islamist group has its divisions, rivalries, allegiances and factions.

The fissures were largely kept in check during the 20-year effort to defeat US-led foreign troops and a Kabul government widely reviled as corrupt.

With that common enemy vanquished, just weeks into Taliban rule, the group's divisions appear to be coming into sharper relief.

On Monday, rumours that a shootout between rival factions at the presidential palace had killed co-founder and now deputy prime minister Abdul Ghani Baradar forced him to release an audio message stating he was still alive.

Before that, the naming of an interim government laid bare the group's political tensions and perhaps sowed the seeds for future troubles, according to Niamatullah Ibrahimi, an Afghanistan expert at Australia's La Trobe University.

Major roles were divided up between the Taliban's old guard from their spiritual birthplace Kandahar -- including Baradar -- and the Haqqanis, a family-based grouping with ties to Al-Qaeda and Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency.

Under the first Taliban regime in the 1990s, the Kandahar faction had been dominant -- but many of the group's recent military successes have been down to the Haqqanis.

"We really shouldn't underestimate the power of the Haqqanis," Ibrahimi says.

"They have been the more sophisticated part of the movement militarily, maintaining important linkages with Al-Qaeda and Pakistan's ISI, but also having its own distinctive power base in Afghanistan."

Family scion Sirajuddin Haqqani -- branded a terrorist by the United States and the target of a $10 million bounty for his arrest -- took control of the interior ministry, which will set the tone for Taliban rule.

He is a "natural choice" for the role, according to Graeme Smith, a senior consultant at the International Crisis Group.

"He organised some of the Taliban's most elite fighting units," he says.

But Haqqani's appointment has also made it even more difficult for Western governments to recognise the Taliban government or release Afghanistan's central bank reserves frozen in the United States.

Failure to secure that money and foreign acceptance could be seen as a blow for Baradar, a key player in talks with the West leading up to the US pullout from Afghanistan.

Without foreign recognition, the Taliban would be hard-pressed to manage what the UN has called an "economic crisis" in Afghanistan and a looming "humanitarian catastrophe".

Rivalries between factions could pose further problems with Afghanistan's neighbours, experts say.

Outsiders and Taliban groups from western Afghanistan, including those with links to Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, were largely excluded from the government.

"The Taliban have decided against an inclusive cabinet, ignoring requests from prominent Afghan politicians and regional states to include non-Taliban figures in their senior ranks," Smith says.

"This is good for Taliban cohesion, and will appeal to Taliban supporters, but risks alienating other Afghans and the international community."

Ibrahimi says regional powers like Iran or Russia could very well return to funding proxy groups to secure their interests.

It is "a recipe for violent conflict or resistance by others", he says.

"(It) creates opportunities for exploitation by regional powers who are not going to be happy with them."

Source: Times of India

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/victorious-taliban-face-fierce-new-test-in-afghanistan/articleshow/86283874.cms

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Those Who Defend Democracy in Afghanistan, Oppose Taliban Will Be Suppressed: Taliban Army Chief

Sep 16, 2021

KABUL: Taliban-led government's acting army Chief Qari Fasihuddin on Wednesday said that those who defend democracy in Afghanistan and oppose the Taliban will be suppressed.

Fasihuddin also said that they will also suppress all who defend the gains of the past two decades under the name of specific ethnic groups or resistance in Afghanistan

Fasihuddin did not mention any group's name, but he was probably referring to the resistance front led by Ahmad Masoud in Afghanistan's Panjshir province, which was defeated by the Taliban after 15 days, reported The Khaama Press.

The resistance front was created by former vice-president Amrullah Saleh and Ahmad Masoud, son of Ahmad Shah Masoud.

Fasihuddin said that 'these people' are disturbing the security of the country and intend to cause bloodshed in Afghanistan, reported The Khaama Press.

He announced on Wednesday that the Taliban-led government is also working to form a 'regular' army and the plan to form one will be finalised soon.

Source: Times of India

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/those-who-defend-democracy-in-afghanistan-oppose-taliban-will-be-suppressed-taliban-army-chief/articleshow/86259934.cms

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Shanghai Cooperation Organisation must strengthen network among moderate institutions associated with Islam: Modi

September 17, 2021

Addressing the summit of leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Dushanbe, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday warned of the risks of radicalisation in the Central Asian region.

Speaking virtually, Modi observed, "I believe biggest challenges in region are related to peace, security and trust deficit. Root cause of problems facing region is increasing radicalisation. Recent developments in Afghanistan have made challenge posed by radicalisation more clear."

Calling for strengthening institutions associated with Islam, Modi said, "SCO should work to develop strong network among moderate, tolerant and inclusive institutions and traditions associated with Islam". Modi observed, "Fight against radicalisation is not only needed for regional security and trust but also to ensure bright future of youth."

Emphasising the attractiveness of India as a market, Modi said, "India is committed to increasing its connectivity with Central Asia. We believe that landlocked Central Asian countries can benefit immensely by connecting with India's vast market".

Modi cautioned, "Any connectivity initiative cannot be a one-way street; connectivity projects should be consultative, transparent and participatory."

Source: The Week

https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/09/17/sco-must-strengthen-network-among-moderate-institutions-associated-with-islam-modi.html

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Pakistan

 

Afghanistan refugee crisis threatens to prolong amid Pakistan playing ball with Taliban, says expert

Sep 17, 2021

KABUL: With Pakistan playing the ball with the Taliban, the refugee crisis in Afghanistan post-Taliban threatens to prolong and needs continued focus.

Fabien Baussart, in a blog post in The Times of Israel, said that with solid action in the form of pressures on Kabul and Islamabad authorities should work to resolve it and not try to suppress it.

A humanitarian crisis of gigantic proportions is unfolding in the landlocked nation even as a shocked and surprised world community struggles to come to terms with the country's takeover by the Taliban.

It is accentuated because the new rulers, while giving verbal assurances of safety, are hunting down people who oppose them, on the streets and from their homes, says Baussart.

An equally big contributor to the crisis is the role of Pakistan that has the largest border with Afghanistan, but will not open it to the fleeing Afghans.

The near-complete fencing of the border is now being compounded by closing the check-posts and physically deporting those who manage to cross over.

The new refugees are clearly forced and coerced, not allowed to stay even overnight and are handed over across to the Afghan border authorities, reported The Times of Israel.

Pakistan's Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid on September 5 said in Quetta that there were no refugee camps and none was being planned.

Three days later, Dawn newspaper reported from the same city that 200 Afghans - families with children - who crossed over from Spin Boldak and Chaman were deported back and the Afghan authorities, in turn, drove them back into the interior.

This is "unlawful forced mass return," according to Human Rights Watch. There is no surprise in this course of action that is bound to be repeated as Afghans desperately try to flee their country.

That part of the Afghan-Pak border was under the Taliban control long before they took Kabul, and elaborate preparations were made well in advance to mutual advantage.

The Pakistan authorities had made clear assertions in that regard since May this year, even as the Taliban's military campaign gained momentum, says Baussart.

Dr Olszewska of the HRW has noted that "the current partial border closure is two-way, as the Taliban have closed the border on their side in Spin Boldak to pressure Pakistan to ease some of its restrictions. It is vital that the border is opened for humanitarian aid to enter Afghanistan and for people wishing to leave to be able to do so."

But Pakistan has been unrelenting and has made clear its plans to not add to the estimated 300,000 Afghan nationals staying there for long. The government has officially cited 'security' concerns while analysts and media reports indicate fears of an influx of drugs and arms, besides humans caused by the conflict in Afghanistan, says Baussart.

But humanitarian crisis it remains, whatever the concerns that are echoed, with much less intensity though, along Afghanistan's borders with Iran and Central Asia. Pakistan remains the principal hub.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Times of India

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/afghanistan-refugee-crisis-threatens-to-prolong-amid-pakistan-playing-ball-with-taliban-says-expert/articleshow/86282166.cms

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Taliban must fulfil promises made in Afghanistan, says PM at SCO summit

Naveed Siddiqui

September 17, 2021

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said that the Taliban must fulfill the promises they have made in Afghanistan, and called on the international community to stand with the people of the war-torn country.

The premier expressed these views while addressing the 20th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council of Heads of State (SCO-CHS) Summit in Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry were also present alongside the premier.

"The Taliban must fulfill the pledges made, above all for an inclusive political structure where all ethnic groups are represented. This is vital for Afghanistan’s stability," he said.

The prime minister said that it was also important to ensure respect for the rights of all Afghans while ensuring that it is never again a safe haven for terrorists.

He said that Pakistan, which had suffered due to the spillover of conflict and instability in the neighbouring country, had an interest in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.

"We will continue to support a stable, sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan," he said.

Commenting on the situation in Afghanistan, PM Imran said that a "new reality" had been established after the Taliban takeover and withdrawal of foreign troops.

"That all this happened without bloodshed, without civil war, and without a mass exodus of refugees, should be a matter of relief.

"It is now in the international community’s collective interest to ensure that there is no renewed conflict in Afghanistan and the security situation is stabilised."

The prime minister said that preventing a humanitarian crisis and an economic meltdown were "equally urgent priorities".

"We must remember that the previous government depended heavily on foreign aid and its removal could lead to economic collapse," he said, adding that now was the moment to stand with the Afghans "firmly and unequivocally".

He commended the United Nations secretary general and UN agencies for mobilising support for humanitarian assistance, and said that Pakistan was also playing its part in aiding evacuation efforts and providing support.

"Going forward, we believe positive engagement of the international community with Afghanistan is extremely important.

"There is a rare opportunity to finally end the 40 years of war in Afghanistan. This moment should not be squandered," he said.

He said that it would be unwise to spread negativity or indulge in propaganda at this critical juncture. "This will only serve to undermine the prospects for peace."

'Threats posed by terrorism still exist'

PM Imran said that as the world marked the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks in the US, it was reminded that threats posed by terrorism still persist despite the international community's best efforts.

"Associating one religion with terrorism has enabled far right, populist and supremacist groups around the world to propagate, multiply and accumulate influence.

"In some cases, such extremist and bigoted ideologies have ascended to capture the state power in so-called democracies.

"The fight against terror would not be won if we ignore these threats and challenges — the biggest of which is state terrorism, perpetrated against people living under foreign occupation in disputed territories," he said.

He highlighted that Pakistan had suffered for decades due to terrorism that was "planned, supported, financed and orchestrated by state entities from across our border".

"Outside active zones of conflict, no other country has suffered more than Pakistan. We have suffered over 80,000 casualties and economic losses in excess of $150 billion.

"Yet, our resolve remains strong. We will continue to be a reliable and willing partner of the international community in the fight against terrorism and extremism," he said.

PM Imran said that addressing threats to international and regional peace was a topic of vital interest for the SCO.

"We believe that implementation of the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions for the peaceful settlement of outstanding disputes is a necessary condition for peace, and indispensible for creating an environment of cooperation.

"Unilateral and illegal measures to change the status of disputed territories in violation of UNSC resolutions run counter to this objective."

He said that such measures must be condemned and opposed firmly.

Shift to geoeconomics

The premier also highlighted that sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan will ultimately benefit the region, adding that the government had shifted its focus from geopolitics to geoeconomics.

"Our new economic security paradigm has three central pillars: peace, development partnerships, and connectivity."

He said that Pakistan offered the shortest route to the sea for many of its partners in Central Asia, and commended the Uzbekistan president for hosting a conference on regional connectivity in Tashkent last July.

"There is no doubt that the web of rail, road, sea and air links across the SCO region will usher in a new era of enhanced trade, energy flows, and people-to-people exchanges.

"This hard and soft connectivity will contribute significantly to progress and prosperity in the region and beyond," he said, adding that these linkages will be reinforced by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Dawn

https://www.dawn.com/news/1646871/taliban-must-fulfill-promises-made-in-afghanistan-says-pm-at-sco-summit

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Saudi Ambassador, Pakistan Ulema Council Chairman Meeting: ‘Islamabad, Riyadh Have Unanimous Stance on Islamic World Issues’

September 17, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia's Ambassador in Pakistan Nawaf bin Saeed Al-Malki has said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have a clear and unanimous stance on the issues of the Islamic world.

“There is always a consensus between the leadership and the people of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan on the issues of the Islamic world,” he said. He was talking to Pakistan Ulema Council Chairman and Special Representative to Prime Minister for Interfaith Harmony and Middle East Hafiz Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, who called on him here.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: The News

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/893085-al-malki-ashrafi-meeting-islamabad-riyadh-have-unanimous-stance-on-islamic-world-issues

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Leaked ECP letter to Nadra over internet voting sparks controversy

Iftikhar A. Khan

September 17, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The leak of a letter written by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) over internet voting has sparked a new controversy.

The letter reveals that Nadra intends to engage the ECP in a new contract amounting to Rs2.4 billion for the development of an i-voting system, though the existing agreement still holds the field.

“ECP is of the view that in the first instance, Nadra may inform the fate of the previous project that why Nadra is going to abandon the previous system and on what grounds and on which considerable sum of money equal to Rs66,500,000 has been already dispensed with,” reads the letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn.

“Nadra may also inform that in the presence of an existing system with similar output, why should ECP go for a new contract amounting to Rs2.4 billion? If the existing system has some loopholes or deficiencies, then who is responsible for those deficiencies and whether these could/would be removed? Has Nadra fixed the responsibility on anyone,” it reads.

The ECP’s information technology wing in its letter, written to the Nadra chairman in response to Nadra’s letter followed by a reminder, reiterated that the commission being a constitutional entity “shall discharge its constitutional obligation as per Article 218 (3) of the Constitution”.

Commission issues notices to ministers over diatribe against it, CEC

“Further, the responsibility and execution of any new methodology is the primary and sole responsibility of ECP, for which it stands committed, provided the technology is implementable and practical in the given timeframe,” the letter reads.

The ECP has also expressed dismay over the general tone and tenor used, particularly in para-1 (h) of the letter dated Aug 20, 2021, issued by Nadra saying that the “ECP should consider progressing positively on Nadra’s proposed system at the earliest; otherwise, there might be unwanted and uncalled for delays”.

“The language used in the letter is leading to the impression that ECP is a subordinate body of Nadra, which is trying to dictate a constitutional body, which may be avoided in future correspondence,” the ECP asserts.

When contacted, a senior Nadra official disclosed that the i-voting system used earlier was developed to be piloted by the ECP in four by-elections for 38 constituencies in 2018.

He said it was the ECP’s own decision to use the system only in two by-elections in 2018. During that exercise, he added, the role of Nadra was to provide technical support to the ECP, whereas using the i-voting system was the sole discretion of the commission.

The official said the i-voting system was already in place and currently in the custody of the ECP. “As per the contractual obligations, the ECP was supposed to release the long outstanding Rs28.5 million to Nadra,” he claimed.

He said that in a bid to ensure accountability and transparency, Nadra chairman Tariq Malik had proposed a strategy and plan for a new i-voting system as per the guidelines laid down by the government, federal cabinet, president, ECP, parliamentary committee, international auditors and other stakeholders.

“Through the new proposed system, Nadra will assist the ECP in developing its independent infrastructure, data centre with dedicated servers, non-Nadra dependent network, third-party software and human resource capacity building. Election Commission will be independent of conducting i-voting for overseas Pakistanis. Nadra’s servers and computers will not be used in this system,” the official explained.

He said Nadra had urged the ECP to progress positively on the proposed system so as to meet the project plan timelines as per expectations of all stakeholders.

ECP notices to ministers

Meanwhile, the ECP issued notices to two federal ministers, seeking explanation over their diatribe against the commission and the chief election commissioner (CEC).

Informed sources told Dawn that Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Railways Minister Azam Swati have been asked to provide evidence to substantiate their allegations and given seven days to submit a reply.

Azam Swati had last week accused the ECP of receiving “bribes and always rigging polls” and asserted that such institutions should be “set ablaze”.

The remarks were made by Mr Swati during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs held to discuss two controversial election-related bills and came only days after the ECP raised 37 objections to the federal government’s plan to introduce electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the next general elections.

Later in the day, Fawad Chaudhry accused the ECP of becoming “opposition’s headquarters” and alleged that the CEC was acting as a “mouthpiece of the opposition”. He said the CEC should not become a tool in the hands of small political parties. He alleged that the CEC had played politics of ‘stupid’ objections to electronic voting machines. “If they want to do politics, then response will come,” he added.

The information minister said it was not the entire ECP that was opposed to the government’s proposals, but “the chief election commissioner is more interested in acting as a mouthpiece of the opposition”. He alleged it was possible that the CEC had “personal sympathies” for the PML-N supremo due to his close connections with the latter.

The tirade by the ministers against the ECP and CEC ignited a heated controversy, with the opposition leaders slamming the ministers and supporting the position taken by the ECP against introduction of EVMs in haste.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Dawn

https://www.dawn.com/news/1646764/leaked-ecp-letter-to-nadra-over-internet-voting-sparks-controversy

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South Asia

 

China, Pakistan In Rush To Exploit Weakening Afghan Economy: Report

Sep 17, 2021

KABUL: China and Pakistan are in rush to exploit the Afghan economy as both have announced certain luring benefits for Afghanistan, which will largely benefit the former and latter in near future, a media report said on Thursday.

War-torn Afghanistan is going through immense financial difficulties. And the new rulers are not experienced to confront the intricate economic issues that the impoverished country is facing.

The former chief of Afghanistan's central bank had also fled the country leaving the financial decision in disarray. However, recently the Taliban had appointed a new chief.

Most of the Afghan officials who are dealing with financial issues now have dual citizenship and have ample reasons to be wary of incurring the wrath of the new authorities that could extend to their families, news website InsideOver reported on Thursday.

Any initiative, even by way of floating ideas or discussion, without action, can be risky. This opens the prospects of Pakistani officials, like the military that had helped the Taliban achieve victory last month, may get drafted to run, or guide, the running of the Afghan economy, at least for some time, according to InsideOver.

In an attempt to take advantage of the situation, Islamabad and Beijing have already chalked out plans. The initial step was taken by Islamabad as recently, it announced to trade with Afghanistan in Pakistani rupee.

Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin cited as the reason the dollars crunch in Kabul. He also offered to help the Taliban to fill the technical positions left vacant due to the recent evacuations.

The communist regime also started luring the Taliban. Recently, China -- the country known to lend money easily -- has committed USD 31 million to get the Afghan economy moving. In return, the Taliban have also shown interest in tie-up with China's BRI.

When other countries are deciding whether they should recognise the Taliban's interim government, Beijing and Islamabad have begun to act on financial issues related to Afghanistan.

However, in all these developments, China seems to be a larger beneficiary as the Pakistani economy and currency are already dependent on China. And since 2018, Islamabad largely started trading with Beijing in Chinese currency Yuan, making much of the Sino-Pak trade Yuan-based, raising the prospects of three-way dovetailing of the economies, IndsideOver said.

In this, being the strongest currency the Chinese Yuan will be benefitted in large while it will allow a measure of advantage to the other two.

Pakistan seems to be benefitted, acting as the middleman and cornering resources by way of transit and facilitation charges. But, currently, the Pakistani economy is in perpetual crisis and runs a huge deficit in terms of debt servicing, among other indicators.

On Wednesday, the Pakistani rupee hit an all-time low of Rs 169.94 against the US dollar in the inter-bank market.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Times of India

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/china-pakistan-in-rush-to-exploit-weakening-afghan-economy-report/articleshow/86287030.cms

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Taliban's Senior Leader Anas Haqqani Denies Reports Of Rifts Within Taliban Leadership

Sep 17, 2021

KABUL: The Taliban have denied the reports of rifts within its leadership as rumours emerged of a brawl between the group's rival factions at Presidential Palace after the announcement of the interim government in Kabul.

The Taliban's senior leader Anas Haqqani has refuted the rumours.

In a tweet, Haqqani said, "The Islamic Emirate is a united front which highly respects single line of Islamic values (Islamism) and Afghani values (Afghanism). We are all United in bringing peace, prosperity and stability to our beloved #Afghanistan."

Rumours had been circulating -- and widely shared on social media -- that the Taliban's interim deputy prime minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar had come to harm during a dispute between factions of the Taliban and the powerful Haqqani network, which holds key positions in Afghanistan's interim government.

Baradar first refuted the claims in an audio clip on Monday, but no video or images were forthcoming then, reported CNN.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Times of India

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/anas-haqqani-denies-reports-of-rifts-within-taliban-leadership/articleshow/86283642.cms

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Afghan finance ministry working on getting public sector salaries paid

17 September ,2021

Afghanistan’s government is working on resolving a series of problems that have held up salaries for public sector workers, the finance ministry said on Thursday, as the new Taliban administration struggles to restart the stalled economy.

Even before the movement seized Kabul last month, many public sector workers said they had not been paid for weeks and with banks imposing strict limits on cash withdrawals while prices for basic necessities rise, many face serious hardship.

The ministry said “technical problems” had led to a delay in paying salaries but special teams were working on resolving payroll issues as quickly as possible.

“Respected staff of the public administration can continue their work without any kind of worry,” the ministry said in a statement on its Facebook page.

The statement contained no further details and it was not clear when salaries might be paid. It came as the new government grapples with a severe shortage of cash, with more than $9 billion in reserves held outside Afghanistan still blocked.

The International Monetary Fund warned on Thursday that Afghanistan faced a “looming humanitarian crisis” but its funding to the country remains on hold.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Al Arabiya

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/09/17/Afghan-finance-ministry-working-on-getting-public-sector-salaries-paid

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India

 

Kerala Church Sparks Row Mentioning 'Love Jihad' In Students' Handbook; Expresses Regret After Protest

16 Sep 2021

Even before the raging controversy over the scathing 'narcotic jihad' remark by Pala Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt pacified, another church diocese in Keerala fuelled a separate controversy by delineating nine stages of the implementation of the alleged 'love jihad' in a handbook made for students of classes X to XII.

The book containing controversial content was published bythe Thamarassery Diocese, under the prominent Syro Malabar Church.

When the book triggered a row after various Muslim outfits asked the government to confiscate it, the church authorities expressed regret on Wednesday and clarified that they did not intend to hurt any religion or faith and aimed only to keep the youth rooted in the Christianity.

The Diocese has no discrimination or intolerance towards any faith or religion, the statement said.

"This book has been published not out of any hatred or objection towards any religion. It is only aimed at keeping the Christian youth rooted in the faith and to protect the community girls from exploitation," Fr John Pallikkavayalil, Director, Department of Catechesis under the Diocese, said.

As per the over-130-page handbook, brought out by the Department of Catechesis under the Diocese, love jihad is a reality and claimed that it is being implemented through nine stages.

It also prescribes some precautions for the community girls to be taken to avoid falling into such love traps.

Among the several controversial remarks, the handbook had references about 'kaivisham', a kind of witchcraft allegedly practised through Muslim clerics to lure Christian girls.

It alleged that black magic was being carried out by collecting various objects possessed by the girls including their pen, handkerchief or a strand of hair.

Though the Diocese, in its press statement, urged to keep a vigil on attempts to destroy communal harmony, it also said that they had been receiving several complaints of "sex terrorism" targeting Christian girls for some time.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Outlook India

https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/keralite-church-diocese-sparks-row-with-handbook-mentioning-love-jihad-expresses-regret-following-protest/394805

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Narcotic jihad: Leaders make beeline for Pala bishop’s house extending support

17th September 2021

KOTTAYAM: With the row over Pala Bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt’s ‘love jihad and narcotic jihad’ remarks refusing to die down, political leaders are making a beeline for the bishop’s house to extend their support to him.

The day began with the visit of BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member Suresh Gopi around 8.45am. He held discussions with the bishop for nearly an hour. After the visit, Suresh Gopi said Mar Kallarangatt didn’t make any communal remarks.

“He didn’t mention any particular religion, but might have referred to some activities (of some persons). When speaking about terrorism, why does a section of people say they are being targeted?” he asked.

Kerala Congress (M) chairman Jose K Mani arrived at the bishop’s house by 3pm and held discussions with the bishop. Jose said though he couldn’t meet the bishop as he was out of station, he was in frequent contact with the latter in view of the controversies over the ‘narcotic jihad’ comments.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: New Indian Express

https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2021/sep/17/narcotic-jihad-leaders-make-beeline-for-pala-bishops-house-extending-support-2359833.html

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Kerala Congress takes mantle of settling ‘love jihad and narcotic jihad’ row, meets religious heads

17th September 2021

KOTTAYAM: In a swift political move, the Congress has taken the initiative to address the issues created by the ‘love jihad and narcotic jihad’ remarks of Pala Bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt. Putting the LDF and state government in a spot, Congress state president K Sudhakaran and Opposition leader V D Satheesan on Thursday visited various Christian and Muslim leaders as part of finding an amicable resolution to the issues raised by the Pala bishop. 

With the move, Congress not only aims to expose the government’s failure in addressing the concerns of the Church and ensuing controversies but also to scuttle BJP’s attempt to cash in on the opportunity to make inroads into the Christian vote base.

Sudhakaran and Satheesan visited jointly Changanassery Archbishop Mar Joseph Perumthottam in the morning and Kerala Muslim Youth Federation president and Thazhathangadi Juma Masjid imam Shamsuddeen Mannani Ilavupalam in the afternoon and held discussions.

In the afternoon, Sudhakaran visited Mar Kallarangatt at Pala, while Satheesan met CSI Central Kerala diocese Bishop Dr Malayil Sabu Koshy Cherian in Kottayam.  Though Sudhakaran said the visits were not part of finding a consensus on the issues raised by the Pala bishop, the party’s intention was clear.

“We had twice demanded the government to convene a reconciliation meeting and resolve the issues. However, the chief minister ignored the demand. Hence, we have take the initiative to protect secularism and communal harmony, which is the responsibility of the Congress. With this objective, we met various religious heads. We are trying to find a resolution to the issues,” he said.

Earlier speaking after visiting the Changanassery archbishop, Sudhakaran accused the government of not initiating steps for arriving at a consensus in the matter. The Congress leadership has decided to visit religious heads taking moral responsibility to settle the issues and the leaders have responded positively to the initiatives, he added.

League not against talks on remarks: Kunhalikutty

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: New Indian Express

https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2021/sep/17/cong-takes-mantle-of-settling-jihad-row-meets-religious-heads-2359832.html

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Congress ally Muslim League calls for caste-based census in Kerala

SEP 17, 2021

Thiruvananthapuram: The Muslim League, a partner in the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), on Thursday sought a caste-based census in Kerala and asked the state government to formulate a consensus on this regard. This is the first time a political party is seeking caste-based census in the state.

Talking to mediapersons in Kozhikode (north Kerala), party leader KP A Majeed said there is no point in deferring the social reality and the party will first raise this in the next UDF meeting and later take it up with the government. He said the present reservation system was based on an old census and there are complaints that only a section of the backward classes are enjoying the benefit of reservation.

Recently, Bihar assembly had passed a unanimous resolution and later an all-party team had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention. Later, Bihar chief minister Nitish Yadav said he was optimistic and the Centre would take a speedy decision.

“We feel in Kerala too it should be done. As long as reservation continues it is a natural process and we can’t postpone it like this. It will help some of the most backward classes which failed to get the benefits,” he said. When asked whether such an exercise will aggravate simmering social tension he said parties can’t run away from reality for long. He said the state government should talk to all parties and social organisation to reach a consensus.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Hindustan Times

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/congress-ally-muslim-league-calls-for-caste-based-census-in-kerala-101631818090071.html

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J&K Govt staffers with terror-related kin, co-habitants to get adverse verification report

Sep 17, 2021

NEW DELHI: Tightening scrutiny on its staffers with possible terror links, Jammu and Kashmir administration on Thursday ordered that the involvement of an employee's immediate family or one sharing residential space, in any anti-national act, which could subject such employee to duress and pose a grave security risk, shall be adversely noted during periodic verification of character and antecedents of government servants.

In continuation of its instructions issued in 1997 and amended from time to time, the J&K government listed detailed parameters that must be kept in mind while periodically verifying character and antecedents of its employees. These include involvement of the staffer’s immediate family or persons sharing residential space who are connected with any foreign government, association or individuals known to be directly or indirectly hostile to India’s national and security interests. Any failure on part of the government employee to report unauthorised association with a suspected or known collaborator of employee of a foreign intelligence agency or any contacts with citizens of other countries or financial interests in other countries that make the employee potentially vulnerable to coercion, exploitation, or pressure by a foreign government, will also attract adverse reporting.

The promotion of such adversely reported government employees, if due, will be immediately put on hold, and their case sent to the UT screening committee for further scrutiny. In case the adverse report is confirmed, the employee will face action including termination from government service.

On Wednesday, however, the J&K government announced a review mechanism for any action taken against a J&K government staffer, based on adverse character reporting. A review committee chaired by the chief secretary and having DGP and administrative secretary, general administration department, shall review the cases suo motu or on reference made to it by the UT level screening committee or on basis of representation made by the aggrieved employee.

As part of periodic verification of government employees, the J&K government order issued on Thursday stated, it must be assessed if the employee is himself involved in or sympathises with those attempting an act of sabotage, espionage, treason, terrorism, subversion, sedition/ secession, facilitating foreign interference, incitement to violence etc. Reports indicating that representatives or nationals from a foreign country are acting to increase the vulnerability of the individual to possible future exploitation, coercion, must also be adversely noted, it added.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Times of India

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/jk-govt-staffers-with-terror-related-kin-co-habitants-to-get-adverse-verification-report/articleshow/86282615.cms

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Take note of Pak-backed J&K groups in US, Biden govt told

Sep 17, 2021

NEW DELHI: Following a report by US thinktank Hudson Institute on Pakistan's support to Khalistani and Kashmiri groups based in the US, India expressed hope on Thursday that the US government will take note of such activities on American soil and the risk they pose to countries that have a "shared vision" against terrorism.

The foreign ministry said the report reflected how Pakistan continued to undertake activities against India from the US.

Ahead of PM Narendra Modi's visit to the US next week, India also expressed concern over reports of growing anti-India activities of Khalistani separatist groups.

MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said ensuring the security of the PM and his delegation was an important issue when asked about reports that a banned Khalistani group was planning to hold protests in Washington and New York during Modi's visit to the two cities.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Times of India

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/take-note-of-pak-backed-jk-groups-in-us-biden-govt-told/articleshow/86280027.cms

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Europe

 

Putin says Russia needs to work with the Taliban

17 September ,2021

Russia needs to work with the Taliban government in Afghanistan, President Vladimir Putin said on Friday at a meeting of a China- and Russia-led security bloc, the Shanghai Cooperation organization (SCO).

Speaking via video link at the conference held in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, Putin said Russia supported a United Nations conference on Afghanistan and that world powers should consider unfreezing Afghanistan’s assets.

Source: Al Arabiya

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2021/09/17/Putin-says-Russia-needs-to-work-with-the-Taliban

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France to be 'especially careful' about Taliban's links with terror groups: Macron

Yusuf Özcan

17.09.2021

PARIS

France will be "especially careful" about the Taliban's relationships with terrorist organizations, President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday.

"This is for our safety," Macron said at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel before his one-on-one meeting with her at the Elysee Palace.

Noting that they would discuss the international agenda and the situation in Afghanistan, Macron said they would make efforts to support neighboring countries that host Afghans.

Ensuring that people under threat in Afghanistan leave the country and that humanitarian aid is delivered to Afghanistan were also on the meeting’s agenda, he added.

Macron emphasized that he would also discuss the Sahel, Libya, Iran, Ukraine and Belarus with Merkel.

Merkel said the issue in Afghanistan is the people who are under threat and the evacuation of refugees from the country.

Expressing that it is important to provide support to neighboring countries that help Afghans, Merkel also underlined that they will work on how to make progress on climate change by preserving the industrial base.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Anadolu Agency

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/france-to-be-especially-careful-about-talibans-links-with-terror-groups-macron/2366951

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Islamic State's Greater Sahara Boss Al-Sahrawi Killed By French Forces in Sahel Region

SEPTEMBER 16, 2021

France said Thursday that its troops deployed in Africa’s Sahel region had killed the head of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, who had been hunted for years over deadly attacks on US soldiers and French aid workers.

Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi formed the ISGS in 2015 after splitting with jihadist linked to Al-Qaeda and pledging allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group, which at the time controlled swathes of Iraq and Syria.

Sahrawi was “neutralised by French forces," President Emmanuel Macron tweeted early Thursday, calling it “another major success in our fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel”.

Defence minister Florence Parly told a news conference that Sahrawi was killed in mid-August by France’s Barkhane force, which battles jihadists across the arid expanses in the Sahel region of Western Africa.

He was one of two people killed by a drone strike on a motorbike around Indelimane in northern Mali, France’s armies chief of staff Thierry Burkhard said at the conference.

Parly added that Sahrawi’s identify had only now been confirmed. “He was the absolute chief of ISGS and took all decisions," she said.

She called his death a “decisive blow" both to IS command structures in the region and also “to its cohesion, as ISGS will no doubt have difficulty replacing its emir with a figure of the same stature."

String of killings

Parly said Sahrawi had “personally ordered" the attack that led to the killing of six French aid workers and their two local guides while visiting a wildlife park in Niger in August 2020.

He was also wanted by the United States over an October 4, 2017, attack in Niger that killed four US Special Forces and four Niger soldiers. Washington had offered a $5 million reward for information on Sahrawi’s whereabouts.

The group is also blamed for most of the jihadist attacks in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.

In late 2019, the group carried out a series of large-scale attacks against military bases in Mali and Niger.

The flashpoint “tri-border" area is frequently targeted by ISGS and the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM) with deadly attacks against civilians and soldiers.

A former member of Western Sahara’s Polisario Front independence movement, Sahrawi joined Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and had also co-led Mujao, a Malian Islamist group responsible for kidnapping Spanish aid workers in Algeria and a group of Algerian diplomats in Mali in 2012.

‘Adapting deployment’

The French military has killed several high-ranking members of ISGS under its strategy of targeting jihadist leaders since the start of its military intervention in Mali in 2013.

But in June this year, Macron announced a major scaleback in France’s anti-jihadist Barkhane force in the Sahel after more than eight years of military presence in the vast region to refocus on counter-terrorism operations and supporting local forces.

“We are not leaving Mali but adapting our military deployment," Parly said. “Our fight continues."

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: News18

https://www.news18.com/news/india/islamic-states-greater-sahara-boss-al-sahrawi-killed-by-french-forces-in-sahel-region-4211093.html

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German police prevent 'Islamist-motivated threat' on synagogue, says minister

16 September, 2021

Police averted a possible attack on a synagogue in western Germany and arrested four people including a 16-year-old Syrian youth in connection with the threat, the regional interior minister said on Thursday.

Authorities had received "a very serious and concrete tip" that an attack on the synagogue in the town of Hagen could take place during the Jewish festival of Yom Kippur, the minister Herbert Reul said.

Officers tightened security around the building on Wednesday evening and searched it for bombs but found nothing dangerous, Reul - interior minister for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia - told a news conference.

He said the synagogue had called off its celebration of Yom Kippur, when observant Jews hold overnight vigils.

The tip-off included details of the timing of an attack, he added.

German police have arrested several people, including a teenager, over a threat of an attack on a synagogue in the western town of Hagen.https://t.co/YtkCfPE9gq — DW News (@dwnews) September 16, 2021

Earlier on Thursday, police in Hagen said they had arrested four people as a result of their investigation into the threat and had searched various buildings.

Reul said one of those detained was a 16-year-old from Hagen with Syrian roots.

Germany has seen a rise in anti-Semitic violence in recent years, mostly carried out by the far-right.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: The New Arab

https://english.alaraby.co.uk/news/german-police-stop-islamist-motivated-attack-synagogue

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Macron calls death of leader in Islamic State in Sahara a 'major success' for France

16 September, 2021

France's president announced the death of the leader of Islamic State group in the Greater Sahara on Wednesday, calling Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi's killing “a major success” for the French military after more than eight years fighting extremists in the Sahel.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that al-Sahrawi “was neutralized by French forces” but gave no further details. It was not announced where al-Sahrawi was killed, though the Islamic State group is active along the border between Mali and Niger.

“The nation is thinking tonight of all its heroes who died for France in the Sahel in the Serval and Barkhane operations, of the bereaved families, of all of its wounded," Macron tweeted. “Their sacrifice is not in vain.”

Rumors of the militant leader's death had circulated for weeks in Mali, though authorities in the region had not confirmed it. It was not immediately possible to independently verify the claim or to know how the remains had been identified.

“This is a decisive blow against this terrorist group,” French Defense Minister Florence Parly tweeted. “Our fight continues.”

Al-Sahrawi had claimed responsibility for a 2017 attack in Niger that killed four US military personnel and four people with Niger’s military.

His group also has abducted foreigners in the Sahel and is believed to still be holding American Jeffrey Woodke, who was abducted from his home in Niger in 2016.

The extremist leader was born in the disputed territory of Western Sahara and later joined the Polisario Front. After spending time in Algeria, he made his way to northern Mali where he became an important figure in the group known as MUJAO that controlled the major northern town of Gao in 2012.

A French-led military operation the following year ousted Islamic extremists from power in Gao and other northern cities, though those elements later regrouped and again carried out attacks.

The Malian group MUJAO was loyal to the regional al-Qaeda affiliate. But in 2015, al-Sahrawi released an audio message pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

The French military has been fighting Islamic extremists in the Sahel region where France was once the colonial power since the 2013 intervention in northern Mali.

It recently announced, though, that it would be reducing its military presence in the region, with plans to withdraw 2,000 troops by early next year.

News of al-Sahrawi's death comes as France's global fight against the Islamic State organization is making headlines in Paris.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: The New Arab

https://english.alaraby.co.uk/news/macron-announces-death-leader-islamic-state-sahara

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Dutch foreign minister resigns over Afghanistan crisis

16 September ,2021

Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag resigned Thursday after lawmakers formally condemned her handling of the Afghanistan evacuation crisis.

“The House considers that the government has acted irresponsibly. And although I stand by our commitment, I can only accept the consequences of this judgement as the minister with ultimate responsibility,” Kaag said in a statement to parliament.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Al Arabiya

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/09/16/Dutch-foreign-minister-resigns-over-Afghanistan-crisis

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Unfreeze Afghanistan assets abroad, neighbor Uzbekistan says

17 September ,2021

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev urged other nations on Friday to unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets kept in foreign banks to facilitate dialog with the Taliban government in Kabul.

Following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, US President Joe Biden’s administration has said any central bank assets the Afghan government has in the US will not be made available to the Taliban.

The International Monetary Fund has said Afghanistan will not have access to the lender’s resources.

Speaking at a meeting of a China- and Russia-led security bloc, the Shanghai Cooperation organization (SCO), Mirziyoyev, whose country borders Afghanistan, called for talks between the bloc and the Taliban and for efforts to prevent the rise of extremism.

Unfreezing Afghan assets, he said, could help achieve those goals.

“Considering the humanitarian situation, we propose looking into the possibility of lifting the freeze on Afghanistan’s accounts in foreign banks,” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who spoke at the same meeting through a video link, also called for contacts between the SCO and Kabul but did not mention any other concrete steps.

The bloc met in Tajikistan, another former Soviet republic bordering Afghanistan. Its leaders said they were beginning the process of accepting Iran into the organization which also includes India and Pakistan.

In a speech at the same meeting, Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, called for economic support for Afghanistan.

“Urgent priorities are to prevent a humanitarian crisis and an economic meltdown. We must remember that the previous government depended heavily on foreign aid and its removal could lead to economic collapse,” he said.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Al Arabiya

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2021/09/17/Unfreeze-Afghanistan-assets-abroad-neighbor-Uzbekistan-says

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Afghanistan G20 meeting to be held after UN assembly: Italy’s Foreign Minister

17 September ,2021

An ad hoc summit of the Group of 20 major economies to discuss Afghanistan will be held after the United Nations Assembly which ends on September 30, Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said in an interview published on Friday.

“Yes, the G20 will be held after the Assembly General of the United Nations in New York, where I will be next week. On the margin of the UN Assembly there will be a meeting of the G20 Foreign ministers to prepare the extraordinary summit,” Di Maio told daily la Repubblica.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Al Arabiya

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2021/09/17/Afghanistan-G20-meeting-to-be-held-after-UN-assembly-Italy-s-Foreign-Minister

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Germany arrests 4 for alleged terror attack plot on synagogue

Oliver Towfigh Nia

16.09.2021

BERLIN

German police arrested four people, including a Syrian teenager, accused of planning a terror attack on a synagogue in the western town of Hagen ahead of the Jewish Yom Kippur holidays, local media reported Thursday.

The arrests came in the wake of an unnamed foreign secret service tip-off that an alleged terror attack was imminent, according to the Berlin-based Der Tagesspiegel newspaper.

Police armed with machine guns increased their protection for the Hagen synagogue Wednesday evening and cordoned off the area.

Hagen police said they had also searched several buildings following the arrests.

Meanwhile, the synagogue canceled its religious service due to the terror threat.

Reacting to the investigation, German Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht spoke of a "very serious threat."

The incident awakens horrific memories of the attack on the synagogue in the eastern city of Halle two years ago, said Lambrecht, according to a statement from her ministry.

Lambrecht was referring to a terror attack in which an armed right-wing extremist tried to force his way into the synagogue and shot two nearby people dead.

The 28-year-old man, who confessed to carrying out the attack, was convicted last year and given a life sentence.

"It is unbearable that Jews are again exposed to such a terrible threat and were unable to celebrate the beginning of their highest festival, Yom Kippur, peacefully together," she added.

The German government has been deeply alarmed by a surge in anti-Semitic hate crimes over the past years.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Anadolu Agency

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/germany-arrests-4-for-alleged-terror-attack-plot-on-synagogue/2366479

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Arab World

 

UAE, UK announce ‘Partnership for the Future’, new era of bilateral ties

17 September ,2021

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, has made a historical visit to the British capital as the UK and UAE announce a new era in ties between the two countries.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosted Sheikh Mohamed at 10 Downing Street in London on Thursday for a far-reaching conversation and a launch of a ‘Partnership for the Future’ between the two nations.

A joint statement from the UAE and UK was later released on state news agency WAM.

“The leaders agreed to establish a new, ambitious Partnership for the Future that will strengthen the historic relations that the two countries share,” the statement read. “The new partnership will build on this history, and ensure that the UAE and UK are able to work closely together to promote prosperity and security, tackle climate change, and expand the exchange of knowledge, skills and ideas.”

The meeting was attended by UAE and UK ministerial representatives, ambassadors and officials from both countries.

The UK prime minister congratulated the UAE on the 50th anniversary of its founding in 1971,” a joint communique from the meeting declared

Both leaders welcomed the progress that bilateral relations have made during the past 50 years and underlined their high ambition for the future of the relationship.

The statement continued: “The UAE and the UK are committed to tackling global issues together. In recognition of the opportunity created by the depth of the strategic relationship between the two nations, both leaders agreed to establish a Partnership for the Future expanding the breadth and depth of the bilateral relationship.”

Creating sustainable prosperity

This Partnership, it said, will consist of two central pillars: the creation of sustainable prosperity and addressing global issues.

The leaders agreed to create new trade, investment, and innovation dynamics, and to strengthen collaboration in areas including life sciences, energy innovation, regional issues, illicit finance, education, security, development, culture, climate, and health and food security.

The UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs will co-chair an annual Strategic dialog to review the global issues pillar and to working closely together during the UAE’s term at the UN Security Council for the period of 2022-23, it continued.

The UAE and the UK will also share an important trade and investment relationship, with total trade of ₤18.6bn in 2019, and two-way investment of ₤13.4bn in 2019, promoting innovation, jobs and economic development. The leaders discussed the opportunities for economic cooperation presented by new and developing sectors including technology, education, healthcare and life sciences, and clean and renewable energy.

The leaders welcomed the recent steps to increase investment flows between both countries. Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company and the UK’s Office for Investment signed the Sovereign Investment Partnership (SIP).

Driving a bilateral investment relationship

This long-term strategic agreement will serve to drive the investment relationship between the two countries, the statement said.

Over a five-year period, the Sovereign Investment Partnership (SIP) will invest across four key innovation-led sectors -- technology, infrastructure, healthcare, and life sciences, and clean and renewable energy -- that will support job creation in both countries, strengthen national research and development capabilities and originate new areas of investment collaboration.

The leaders welcomed the March announcement that saw Mubadala commit ₤800m to United Kingdom life sciences, alongside the United Kingdom Government’s ₤200m Life Sciences Investment program. the leaders announced the UAE’s investment commitment to the UAE-UK SIP – ₤10bn over the next five years in: energy transition, technology and infrastructure. The leaders welcomed also the ongoing assistance from the British Business Bank. Moreover, they discussed a number of ongoing projects under the SIP framework, with plans to announce further investments in due course.

In the energy sector, the leaders agreed to step up ties in the energy transition and decarbonization, with a particular focus on renewables and new forms of energy through three new agreements: [1] a trilateral collaboration between Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Masdar and BP; [2] an agreement between ADNOC and BP on co-development of Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage; and [3] a forward-looking partnership between Masdar and BP to develop, build and operate energy and mobility services in urban spaces.

The leaders welcomed the conclusion of the United Kingdom – Gulf Cooperation Council Joint Trade and Investment Review in June 2021 and recent progress to boost bilateral trade through removing trade barriers and facilitating economic cooperation. They agreed on the importance of continued work in sectors such as education, healthcare, and food and drink, and through the United Arab Emirates- United Kingdom Joint Economic Committee, the next meeting of which was agreed to be held during Expo 2020 in Dubai.

The leaders announced the signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) on Industrial and Advanced Technologies Co-operation between the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology. The MoC highlights nine priority areas for collaboration between the two countries, including Life Sciences, Hydrogen, Space, emerging renewable energy technologies, and smart and green sustainable manufacturing that will be implemented through joint engagements between government, businesses, and academic entities.

The leaders also announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Artificial Intelligence (AI) to facilitate the transfer of knowledge, investment, and standards to bring mutual benefit to both countries.

Both countries will form a space sector joint committee to drive bilateral discussions, to deliver economic prosperity for both nations.

Stronger ties in defense, security

Both countries have developed stronger industrial ties through collaboration in defense and security. This includes blossoming relationships, including Tawazun Economic Council and EDGE Group. The leaders agreed on working together to support these emerging and future partnerships in order to promote prosperity whilst strengthening business opportunities for both.

The UAE and the UK share an important strategic defense relationship. They agreed to strengthen this, particularly on capability development and defense industrial collaboration.

The leaders underscored the importance of mutual and sustainable investment through the Sovereign Investment Partnership (SIP) into our green industries to support decarburization; through development partnerships to support climate resilience and adaptation in third countries; and cooperation on energy in the Joint Industrial Collaboration Framework.

Driving forward the Paris Agreement

The leaders welcomed the signing of a MOU on Climate Change and Environmental Cooperation which will strengthen collaboration on climate action, nature-based solutions and implementing the Paris Agreement. The partnership will focus on sharing best practice for climate neutrality, mainstreaming climate and environment within development co-operation, reducing climate risks, accelerating the low carbon transition nationally and globally, including through promoting the mandate of IRENA, mobilizing access to climate finance and promoting the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate), which will be formally launched at COP26.

The two countries reiterated their commitment to deepening their strategic partnership on foreign policy, regional, security and defense issues and they announced the launch of the strategic dialog that will drive forward collaboration in education, culture and climate change, multilateral co-operation and security issues.

The Prime Minister congratulated the UAE on its election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2022-23, and underscored the UAE and the UK’s commitment to working together on the Security Council to promote international peace and security and address the security threats that the world faces. Moreover, the Leaders discussed the long-term strategic implications of the global recovery from COVID 19.

On regional issues, the two countries agreed to continue their close cooperation, including on security, development and humanitarian affairs. They emphasized the significance of the Abraham Accords in contributing to the enhancement of regional peace and security and reaffirmed their commitment to a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on relevant UN resolutions.

A joint commitment on preserving regional stability

The leaders expressed their concerns regarding developments in Afghanistan, and affirmed their commitment to preserving regional stability and preventing the resurgence of terrorism. They also emphasized the need for the protection of the rights of Afghan women and girls and emphasized the importance that their rights are preserved. The Leaders committed to work together to prevent a humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan and to support refugees.

Both leaders agreed on increased cooperation to ensure the safety and security of maritime commerce, trade and energy routes.

The leaders acknowledged the difficult circumstances caused by the pandemic globally, and they offered their deepest condolences for the loss of lives and expressed deepest sympathy with the families of the victims.

Global cooperation and solidarity is key

The leaders emphasized that global cooperation and solidarity are key to fighting the pandemic and achieving sustainable and inclusive recovery. Moreover, they welcomed the increase in the level of vaccinations in the UAE and UK, and underlined their commitment to share data and exchange experience, including on genome sequencing.

They agreed on the importance of supporting efforts to increase global vaccine supply, and the recognition of vaccines adopted in both countries to strengthen cultural, trade and investment ties.

The leaders acknowledged the health impacts of climate change and pledged to use COP26 as a platform to demonstrate ambition to tackle them. They noted the importance of a strengthened WHO and its leading and coordinating role in the global health system.

The leaders agreed to expand development and humanitarian cooperation through the establishment of a Framework for Development Cooperation in areas such as climate change, education, women’s empowerment, and development in the Horn of Africa.

The UAE and the UK will build on their partnership on ensuring 12 years of quality education for all girls. The leaders affirmed the importance of using both diplomatic and development levers to support the implementation of the landmark joint UN Human Rights Council resolution on girls’ education. The UK looks forward to the ReWired Summit at Dubai Expo 2020 as another key milestone on the girls’ education agenda.

The UAE and the UK have agreed an ambitious plan for cooperation in regions of mutual interest, including the Horn of Africa. to promote shared security and stability priorities, and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.. The leaders also underlined the importance of respect for human rights in all initiatives.

The leaders agreed to increase co-operation on areas such as cultural heritage protection, development of creative and cultural industries and exchange of best practice and expertise. Moreover, the leaders announced the signing of an MoU on the Cultural Sector, and work together to facilitate the implementation of international agreements such as those signed with UNESCO.

'Education for the Future'

The leaders shared their ambition to strengthen education ties and committed to identify further opportunities to collaborate in technical and vocational training. They also announced the “Education for the Future initiative”, a series of thought leadership seminars that will be conducted in 2021. In addition, they welcomed the convening of the first event between the two countries on the value of IT/AI skills and competences in girls’ education.

The Prime Minister expressed anticipation of the active participation of the UK in Expo 2020 in Dubai, which will positively contribute to the spirit of global dialog, innovation, peace and prosperity.

Both countries have launched a Partnership to Tackle Illicit Financial Flows. They also agreed that international partners should work together to tackle dirty money.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Al Arabiya

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2021/09/17/UAE-UK-announce-Partnership-for-the-Future-new-era-of-bilateral-ties

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UAE, UK ink $10 billion deal during Abu Dhabi Crown Prince state visit

17 September ,2021

The United Arab Emirates is to invest up to $10billion in the United Kingdom in energy transition, infrastructure, and technology, the two nations announced following a state visit by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, and the UK Office for Investment (OfI), signed an agreement at Downing Street to significantly expand the UAE-UK Sovereign Investment Partnership (UAE-UK SIP), a framework for investment announced in March 2021.

Over the next five years, the UAE-UK SIP will drive a significant increase in investment across a further three sectors: technology, infrastructure, and energy transition, as well as build on the existing program of life sciences investment, state news agency WAM reported.

As part of the agreement the UAE has committed ₤10 billion via the UAE-UK SIP, overseen by the OfI and Mubadala, one of the world’s leading sovereign investors. This builds on Mubadala’s ₤800 million commitment and the UK Government’s ₤200 million to UK life sciences when the partnership was established in March.

The UAE-UK SIP will now become the central investment platform under the new ‘Partnership for the Future’ bilateral framework, agreed at a meeting between UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Sheikh Mohamed.

Khaldoon al-Mubarak, Mubadala’s managing director and group CEO, said: “Today’s expansion of our Sovereign Investment Partnership will help accelerate funding and innovation in key sectors that are foundational to economic growth of both nations.”

“It is a testament to the UK’s innovation economy that we are ahead of target with the UAE-UK SIP life sciences program, which we announced in March of this year. We are already developing ambitious energy transition, technology and infrastructure investment programs that create new jobs and strengthen commercial ties between our nations.”

UK Minister for Investment, Gerry Grimstone, said, “Attracting investment has become globally competitive, and there’s never been a better time to be taking part and investing in the UK.”

“This partnership has gone from strength to strength and its expansion is evidence of its effectiveness and what we can achieve with important trade and investment partners like the UAE through investment. The partnership will expand the exchange of knowledge, skills and ideas that will drive prosperity in both nations.”

“It’s great to see the Office for Investment together with Mubadala Investment Company deliver what we initially set out to do, and expanding into new verticals that will drive economic growth across the UK.”

The United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates share an important trade and investment relationship, with total trade of ₤18.6bn in 2019, and two-way investment of ₤13.4bn in 2019.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Al Arabiya

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2021/09/17/UAE-UK-ink-10-billion-deal-during-Abu-Dhabi-Crown-Prince-state-visit-

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Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s visit to the UK: ‘A friendship for the next 50 years’

17 September ,2021

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, has said he looks forward to another half century of close relations with the United Kingdom, during a state tour to the British capital.

As the United Arab Emirates marks its jubilee year since the country was founded, Sheikh Mohamed said the UAE attaches special importance to its relations with the UK.

“One of the most important aspects of our developmental projects for the next 50 years is promoting developmental partnerships with various countries of the world, especially with the UK,” he said in a statement released by state news agency WAM.

Sheikh Mohamed said that the UAE is on the cusp of hosting a major global event, Expo 2020 Dubai, adding: “We are confident that Britain’s participation will pave the way for more opportunities for economic and development partnership between our two countries. In the UAE, we seek to make this event a turning point on the road to promoting global economic recovery, establishing global partnerships, and finding common ground to confront global challenges.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosted Sheikh Mohamed at 10 Downing Street in central London where they discussed the historic friendship ties and joint strategic cooperation between the UAE and the UK and ways to enhance relations in the best interest of the two sides.

Sheikh Mohamed and the Prime Minister also tackled several regional and international issues of mutual interest and launched a ‘Partnership of the Future’; a series of collaborative development projects between the two nations.

Sheikh Mohamed later tweeted about the visit, saying: “I was pleased to meet with Prime Minister Boris Johnson for in-depth talks in London. Together, we discussed ways of further strengthening strategic ties between the UAE and UK, and other areas of mutual interest in the region and around the world.”

The UK Prime Minister also welcomed the visit of Sheikh Mohamed to Britain and emphasized that “it represents strong support for the development of relations between the two countries”.

He said that the UK attaches special importance to enhancing its ties with the UAE. He also extended thanks and appreciation for the UAE’s support in evacuating UK citizens, and citizens of many other countries, from Afghanistan.

Sheikh Mohamed and the UK Prime Minister reviewed cooperation and the promising opportunities to enhance it in the investment, economic and trade fields and other vital sectors as part of the ambitious economic, trade and investment program that the two countries agreed upon last year.

The meeting touched on the latest COVID-19 pandemic developments, and the efforts to contain its humanitarian and economic repercussions and the importance of strengthening international solidarity during these circumstances to overcome this common global challenge. It also highlighted the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), which will be hosted by the UK next November as well as its importance in advancing global efforts to address the climate change challenge.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Al Arabiya

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2021/09/17/Abu-Dhabi-Crown-Prince-s-visit-to-the-UK-A-friendship-for-the-next-50-years-

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Egypt's Al-Azhar reiterates centrality of Palestinian cause to Muslims

Diana Shalhub  

17.09.2021

The grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, the highest seat of Sunni Muslim learning, reiterated Thursday that the Palestinian cause is the central cause for Muslims.

"The Palestinian cause is the primary cause for Al-Azhar and Muslims...and the struggle of its Arab people will remain a source of pride and inspiration," said Ahmed al-Tayeb while receiving Mahmoud al-Habbash, the Palestinian Authority’s top Sharia judge and President Mahmoud Abbas’s adviser on religious and Islamic affairs, according to Egypt’s official MENA news agency.

"The Zionist terrorism will remain overwhelming evidence of the deficiency of the international community's values and standards in dealing with the causes of the peoples," al-Tayeb added.

Al-Habbash stressed that Al-Azhar's endless efforts and stance towards the Palestinian cause are honorable and appreciated.

On Thursday, the Waqf department that supervises Al-Aqsa Mosque said 307 Israeli settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex under the protection of Israeli forces.

Several extremist Jewish groups called on settlers to make their way into Al-Aqsa to celebrate the Jewish Yom Kippur holiday.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Anadolu Agency

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/egypts-al-azhar-reiterates-centrality-of-palestinian-cause-to-muslims/2366936

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Lebanon raises gasoline prices by over 37 pct amid crippling shortages of supplies

17 September ,2021

Lebanon’s energy ministry further raised gasoline prices on Friday by over 30 percent, an official document showed.

The price of 95-octane gasoline and 98-octane gasoline was raised by over 37 percent.

On Thursday, Lebanon’s cabinet approved a policy program that aims to tackle one of the worst financial meltdowns in history.

Reuters saw the draft document, which included a resumption of negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and a restructuring of the banking sector.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Al Arabiya

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/09/17/Lebanon-raises-gasoline-prices-by-over-37-pct-amid-crippling-shortages-of-supplies

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Lebanon’s finance minister signs new forensic audit contract

17 September ,2021

Lebanon’s finance minister Youssef Khalil on Friday signed a new contract with restructuring consultancy Alvarez and Marsal (A&M) to carry out a forensic audit at the country’s central bank, the ministry said in a statement.

A&M will give an initial report to the ministry within 12 weeks of its team starting work, the ministry said.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Al Arabiya

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/09/17/Lebanon-s-finance-minister-signs-new-forensic-audit-contract-

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US State Department approves $500 mln military deal with Saudi Arabia

17 September ,2021

The US State Department approved the sale of $500 million in equipment to Saudi Arabia, according to a statement released Thursday.

Despite the deal being a continuation of a prior agreement, the US package includes maintenance support services for helicopters, including Saudi Arabia’s Apache and Black Hawk helicopters, as well as a future fleet of CH-47D Chinook helicopters.

“This proposed sale will support US foreign policy and national security objectives by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that continues to be an important force for political stability and economic growth in the Middle East,” the State Department said.

Washington said the deal would also help improve Saudi Arabia’s capability “to meet current and future threats.”

The deal will also aid in maintaining Saudi Arabia’s rotary-wing aircraft fleet, engines, avionics, weapons, and missile components, the State Department said. “Saudi Arabia will have no difficulty absorbing these articles and services into its armed forces.”

The deal has been sent to Congress for review and approval.

Thursday’s announcement comes after the Biden administration froze weapons sales to Saudi Arabia shortly after taking office.

President Joe Biden also halted US support to “offensive operations” in Yemen in support of Saudi Arabia while removing the Iran-backed Houthis from the terror blacklist.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Al Arabiya

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2021/09/17/US-State-Department-approves-500-mln-military-deal-with-Saudi-Arabia

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EU lawmakers call for Lebanon sanctions if Mikati’s government fails

16 September ,2021

The European Union should still consider imposing sanctions on Lebanese politicians who block the progress of the new government, the EU’s parliament said on Thursday, calling Lebanon’s crisis a man-made disaster.

This week, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told the European Parliament that, while Lebanon’s economic model was broken, the moment for sanctions had passed because politicians formed a government on September 10.

Taking note of Lebanon’s formation of a government after more than a year of political deadlock, the European Parliament in Strasbourg issued a resolution saying EU governments cannot yet release pressure on the country.

The parliament voted 575 in favor, 71 against and with 39 abstentions.

The parliament “deeply urges Lebanese leaders to keep their promises and be a functional government,” the parliament’s resolution, which is non-binding, said of Lebanon’s new government that has vowed to tackle one of the world’s worst economic meltdowns in history.

EU lawmakers warned: “the introduction of targeted sanctions for obstructing or undermining the democratic political process remains an option.”

The EU agreed in June to prepare travel bans and asset freezes for Lebanese politicians accused of corruption and obstructing efforts to form a government, financial mismanagement and human rights abuses.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Al Arabiya

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/09/16/EU-lawmakers-call-for-Lebanon-sanctions-if-PM-Mikati-s-government-fails

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Southeast Asia

 

China’s President Xi: Afghanistan should eradicate terrorism

17 September ,2021

China’s President Xi Jinping said via video that “relevant parties” in Afghanistan should eradicate terrorism and that China will provide more help to the country within its capacity, according to a report on a regional summit by state media.

“Certain countries” should assume their due responsibilities for Afghanistan’s future development as the “instigators” of the situation, he said, at a meeting of the leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Al Arabiya

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2021/09/17/China-s-President-Xi-Afghanistan-should-eradicate-terrorism

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On Malaysia Day, Sarawak CM vows to reject any attempts against religious freedom

16 Sep 2021

BY SULOK TAWIE

KUCHING, Sept 16 — Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg tonight made it clear that the state government will reject any bids that are contrary to religious freedom in the state.

He said the state government will continue to ensure that the welfare of other religions will always be nurtured, but did not elaborate more on the matter.

“We walk the talk,” the chief minister said at the Malaysia Day celebration held at the Sarawak State Assembly Complex here.

Abang Johari stressed that freedom of religion is enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

“To ensure that this right is guaranteed, the state government under Gabungan Parti Sarawak administration is a step ahead in implementing initiatives under Unit for Other Religions which has provided large allocations to non-Islamic religions,” he said.

This remark came amid a proposal by Putrajaya to table a Bill restricting the propagation of non-Muslim religions to Muslims.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob also recently said that his administration will revive and table the Bill seeking harsher punishments for Shariah offences, dubbed Act 355 or RUU355 in Malay.

The chief minister said many matters have not been implemented in accordance with the Federal Constitution and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and should be brought to the negotiation table within a bigger Malaysian family.

He said since 2015 discussions had been held between the state and federal governments, and he hoped that the discussion on MA63 will be continued as being outlined under the recently signed bipartisan cooperation Memorandum of Understanding by the federal government and Pakatan Harapan (PH).

He said considerable achievements have been made since the discussions started in 2015 to reinstate state powers which had been eroded over the years back to the state or accord empowerment to the state in certain areas.

He said these include authorising state legal officers by the public prosecutor under the Criminal Procedure Code to conduct prosecution for offences under state ordinances from the stage a person is charged in the lower court until the appeal stage.

He said the other is increasing the number of posts in the Sarawak Immigration Department to improve the department’s enforcement functions in the state with the creation of 100 new posts and increasing the ratio of Sarawak-born teachers serving here to about 90 per cent of the total.

He said the state government will be consulted in the drafting of federal legislation which has bearing or impact on the state government of Sarawak, where provided by law, and the planning of federal development projects in Sarawak is to give priority to the five-year Sarawak State Development Plan based on the approved budget.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Malay Mail

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2021/09/16/on-malaysia-day-sarawak-cm-vows-to-reject-any-attempts-against-religious-fr/2006150

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Jawi: Friday prayers allowed in KL, Putrajaya mosques with up to 500 congregants

16 Sep 2021

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 16 — Friday prayers at mosques in the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya which are in Phase Two of the National Recovery Plan (PPN), are allowed to be held with up to 500 congregants, effective tomorrow.

Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) director Datuk Mohd Ajib Ismail said 250 congregants were allowed for the same purpose in seven zonal mosques as well as kariah mosques, while for Friday prayers surau, it was 150 people, and surau with special permission to hold the Friday prayers (100 people).

According to him, Friday prayers surau and surau with special permission to hold the Friday prayers at the People’s Housing Projects (PPR) and Public Housing (PA) under the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) would be allowed to hold the prayers with 80 congregants.

“Lectures and ‘tazkirah’ are allowed with attendance not exceeding the number of Friday prayer congregants for the tazkirah prior to Friday prayers, and not exceeding the number of congregants for obligatory prayers for other lectures, with physical distancing of 1.5m,” he said in a statement today.

Mohd Ajib said the new ruling was implemented after obtaining the consent of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, and in line with the government’s announcement on the phase transition under the PPN.

Mohd Ajib said for obligatory prayers in Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, 200 congregants were allowed at the Federal Territory Mosque; seven zonal mosques and kariah mosques (100 people); Friday prayers surau (50 people); Friday prayers surau and surau with special permission to hold the Friday prayers at PPR and PA DBKL as well as other surau (40 people).

Meanwhile, for Labuan, which is in Phase Four of the PPN, Mohd Ajib said Friday prayers in all zonal and kariah mosques, Friday surau, and and surau with special permission to hold the Friday prayers was allowed at half capacity, effective tomorrow.

At the same time, he said obligatory prayers were allowed to be held in congregation in all mosques and surau in Labuan, according to the size of the main prayer hall.

Apart from that, he said lectures and tazkirah were allowed with attendance not exceeding the number of Friday prayer congregants for tazkirah prior to the Friday prayers, and not exceeding the number of obligatory prayer congregants for other lectures, with physical distancing of 1.5m.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Malay Mail

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2021/09/16/jawi-friday-prayers-allowed-in-kl-putrajaya-mosques-with-up-to-500-congrega/2006112

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Kelantan Islamic Religious Council allows 40 congregants for Friday, obligatory prayers from tomorrow

16 Sep 2021

KOTA BARU, Sept 16 — The Kelantan Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council (MAIK) has given the green light for Friday and obligatory prayers at all districts, sub-districts and surau from tomorrow, with the number of congregants set at 40.

MAIK president Tengku Tan Sri Mohamad Rizam Tengku Abdul Aziz said permission to perform the prayers during Phase Two of the National Recovery Plan (PPN) was only allowed to mosque staff and those fully vaccinated.

“The implementation of the Friday and obligatory prayers also received the consent of the Sultan of Kelantan Sultan Muhammad V as the State Islamic religious leader,” he said in a statement tonight.

Tengku Mohamad Rizam, who is also Tengku Temenggong Kelantan, said the mosque staff and congregants present must be fully vaccinated, with recipients of Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines required to have passed the 14th day from the date of the second vaccination dose.

“Meanwhile, recipients of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson and CanSino vaccines must have passed the 28th day from the date of the jab. Mosque staff and the congregants are encouraged to wear two layers of face masks (double mask).

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Malay Mail

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2021/09/16/kelantan-islamic-religious-council-allows-40-congregants-for-friday-obligat/2006165

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Covid-19: Tabung Haji says ready to manage pilgrims’ health, safety for next Haj season

17 Sep 2021

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 ― Despite the Haj pilgrimage being postponed twice due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) still continues its preparations, taking into account the current pandemic situation and developments in Saudi Arabia.

TH Haj executive director, Datuk Seri Syed Saleh Syed Abdul Rahman, said the planning and preparations had been continuously implemented since the 2020 Haj season in an effort to ensure that the Malaysian Haj pilgrims will be able to perform the fifth pillar of Islam smoothly.

He said one of the steps implemented was conducting 14 series of Haj courses for prospective pilgrims online, including an additional series emphasising the new standard operating procedures (SOPs) in Saudi Arabia as well as the Haj rules and regulations in the current environment of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He added that TH would ensure that prospective pilgrims received their respective vaccinations and have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 as required by the Saudi Arabian government before they were allowed to enter the holy land.

Apart from that, TH, during the national-level Haj muzakarah held previously, has also emphasised the concept of istito'ah or ability to perform Haj during the pandemic.

“In this muzakarah, it was important for us to refine and set resolutions to be used as a pilgrimage guide to perform Haj in the new norm by looking at the constraints of movement and obstructions in the event of an outbreak,” he said in an interview with Bernama.

Syed Saleh said TH had also held a meeting with those handling the operations in the country involving departure stations and organised a workshop with the Ministry of Health (MoH) relating to SOPs for staff and health protocols that needed to be complied with.

He said the MoH health team will be assigned at eight departure stations in the country to monitor the health status of pilgrims before leaving for the holy land. TH will also increase the number of healthcare workers, especially public health teams to be stationed at three main locations in Jeddah, Madinah and Makkah.

“Previously, during the Haj season, we have 260 medical staff from various categories including specialist doctors, nurses and pharmacists, but due to Covid-19, we need to add at least 30 more personnel to manage the pilgrims’ health and safety,” he said.

He added that this also takes into account the isolation facilities in hotels and other accommodation, the provision of medical equipment such as ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as medicines.

As part of the preparation, TH has conducted scenario planning where it details the actions to be taken at each stage of Haj activities, both here and in the holy land with various possible scenarios that may occur during the Haj operation.

Officers have also been provided with adequate training, knowledge and mental preparation to face the situation of the new norm in looking after the pilgrims, thus ready to become the frontliners when the Haj season arrives.

“If there is a positive case of Covid-19 among Malaysian pilgrims, firstly, we will be subject to the SOPs set by the Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia and then we will see the SOPs, based on the current development of Covid-19.

“Secondly, we need to assess the Covid-19 infection, if it is at categories 1 and 2, then we can handle it ourselves in our hospital, except for categories 4 and 5 which require facilities in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), then we will send the case to a hospital there (Saudi Arabia),” he said.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Malay Mail

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2021/09/17/covid-19-tabung-haji-says-ready-to-manage-pilgrims-health-safety-for-next-h/2006260

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Mideast

 

Official: India Seriously Seeking Extensive Ties with Iran

2021-September-16

Subrahmanyam made the remarks in a meeting with Iranian Ambassador in India Ali Chegini, discussing bilateral relations in varied areas.

In the meeting, the Indian official named the millennia-long cultural and civilization interaction between the two nations as a component of intimacy and brotherhood between Iran and India.

He said that India was serious in expanding cultural, economic, trading, scientific and technological ties with Iran and was ready to explore all ways and identify potentials in this regard.

Chegini, for his part, pointed to the current trade between the two countries and named supplying factors, food and agricultural products swap, medicine and its raw material, industrial cooperation, interaction in technology and knowledge-based production among privileged areas of cooperation.

He underlined that Iran and India are complementary, not rival, economies that can see multiplied surge in trading ties if all capacities are leveraged.

Earlier this month,  Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in a phone conversation with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir Abdollahian said that New Delhi attaches much importance to relations and cooperation with Tehran.

During the phone call, Jaishankar congratulated Amir Abdollahian on his appointment as Iran’s foreign minister.

The Indian foreign minister said it is necessary Iran and India expand their ties.

He referred to the wide range of areas in which Iran and India work together like their regional and transportation cooperation, and invited the Iranian foreign minister to visit India for further negotiations.

The top Indian diplomat also said Iran and India need to continue consultations on Afghanistan.

Amir Abdollahian, for his part, appreciated the Indian counterpart’s invitation, and underscored the need to expand Iran-India relations in different economic fields and also cooperation on vaccines.

The Iranian foreign minister called for speeding up the Chabahar Project and expanding trade with India.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Fars News Agency

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14000625000490/Official-India-Serisly-Seeking-Exensive-Ties-wih-Iran

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FM: Iran Interested in Further Expansion of Economic Ties with S. Africa

2021-September-16

Amir Abdollahian in a meeting with South African Ambassador Vika Mazwi Khumalo in Tehran on Wednesday underlined significance of African countries in Iran’s foreign policy, asking for evermore expansion of ties, and especially the economic relations with Pretoria.

He also stressed the importance of the Ministerial Joint Economic Commission and its Ministerial Political Committee, as well as its other side committees, in the two countries.

Amir Abdollahian also referred to the South African president’s meeting with the Iranian president in November 2015 in Pretoria as a turning point in the two countries’ relations, remembering that he was a deputy foreign minister at the time.

He also appreciated South Africa’s supports for Iran during its rotating presidency of the UN Security Council, and also that county’s support for the Palestinian nation.

During the meeting, the two officials surveyed ways for expansion of comprehensive bilateral ties and mutual cooperation.

Ambassador Khumaloa in the meeting conveyed the South African Foreign Minister Ms. Naledi Pandor’s congratulation to his Iranian counterpart.

She referred to the arrangement for holding the 15th Session of the Iran-South Africa Joint Economic Commission, expressing the hope that in the near future meeting of its Political Committee would be held in Tehran and the Joint Commission in South Africa.

He repeated South Africa’s invitation of President Ebrahim Rayeesi for a visit to Pretoria, expressing the hope that the visit would take place during the next Christian year and after the Joint Commission.

Tehran has prioritized promotion of its economic and political ties with the African states and the country is now considered as one of the African Union's strategic partners.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Fars News Agency

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14000625000399/FM-Iran-Ineresed-in-Frher-Expansin-f-Ecnmic-Ties-wih-S-Africa

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Amnesty condemns ‘climate of impunity’ over Iran custody deaths

17 September ,2021

Amnesty International has condemned the “climate of impunity” that prevails in Iran over deaths in custody despite reports of more than 70 such cases over the past decade.

“Iranian authorities have failed to provide accountability for at least 72 deaths in custody since January 2010, despite credible reports that they resulted from torture or other ill-treatment or the lethal use of firearms and tear gas by officials,” said the London-based rights group.

The latest documented case involved a 31-year-old whose death was reported to his family by intelligence ministry officials in Urumieh, West Azerbaijan province on September 8, Amnesty said in a statement.

“Reports of the death of Yaser Mangouri in suspicious circumstances further exposes how the prevailing climate of impunity further emboldens security forces to violate prisoners’ right to life without any fear of consequence or accountability,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director.

The group’s report follows an admission by Iran’s prisons chief last month that “unacceptable behavior” had taken place at a notorious Tehran prison after videos published abroad appeared to show violence against detainees.

The footage of prison guards beating and mistreating detainees was reportedly obtained by hackers who accessed surveillance cameras at Evin prison.

Amnesty International said the leaked video footage “offered disturbing evidence of beatings, sexual harassment, and other ill-treatment of prisoners by prison officials.”

It said that in 46 of the 72 deaths in custody, informed sources said they had resulted from “physical torture or other ill-treatment at the hands of intelligence and security agents or prison officials.”

Another 15 deaths were caused by the use of firearms or tear gas by prison guards to suppress protests over COVID-19 safety fears, said Amnesty.

For the remaining 11 cases, the deaths occurred in suspicious circumstances, but no further details about potential causes were available, it added.

“Iranian authorities typically blame deaths in custody on suicide, drug overdose or illness in a rushed manner and without conducting any independent and transparent investigations,” the watchdog said.

In July, Amnesty and nine other rights groups urged member states of the UN Human Rights Council to establish a mechanism to collect, preserve and analyze evidence of the most serious crimes committed in the Islamic republic.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Al Arabiya

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/09/17/Amnesty-condemns-climate-of-impunity-over-Iran-custody-deaths-

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Envoy: Origin of Contamination Declared by IAEA Unknown to Iran

2021-September-16

"It is regrettable that despite Iran’s written explanations regarding the presence of depleted uranium contamination, which were delivered to the Agency on 26 May 2021, the Agency still keeps repeating that 'Iran had yet to provide an explanation'. The Agency has to rectify this situation," Qaribabadi said, addressing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)'s board of governors' meeting on 'Report of the IAEA Director General'.

"As it was explained by Iran, based on our investigation into the background of the activities carried out in the location, there was no precedent of any nuclear activity; therefore, the origin of the contamination declared by the Agency is absolutely unknown to us. Nevertheless, the depleted uranium contamination originating from commercially available uranium-derived products is nothing unusual and is not a significant issue," he added.

The full text of the Iranian envoy's remarks are as follows:

In the Name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful

Madam Chairperson,

Director General,

Excellencies, Dear Colleagues,

At the outset, allow me to point out that the Director General’s latest report under this agenda item includes some aspects which I deem it necessary to elaborate them more for the sake of establishing a better understanding about the work done and the future perspective in this regard.

First and foremost, I would like to reiterate the fact that, there is no safeguards related issue regarding Iran’s ongoing nuclear activities and this important point has been confirmed, once again consistent with the previous ones, in the current report of the Director General. Likewise, Iran has voluntarily continued practical and constructive interactions and working relations with the Agency to address questions about a few immaterial and insignificant issues. Despite sincere efforts, it is profoundly inadequate that, the Secretariat has taken a counterproductive and hasty approach in reporting the matter at the expense of its own credibility.

Madam Chairperson,

While Iran has been positively responding to different requests by the Director General, the current report of the Agency is mostly, a repetition of the previous report without reflecting appropriately the recent and ongoing developments and progress between the two parties. Unfortunately such positive and constructive approach shown by Iran was not reciprocated appropriately by the Agency, which could turn into an obstacle for future good-will interactions between the two sides.

Having said this, allow me, Madam Chairperson, to explain some of the outstanding aspects of the recent progress, parts of which were also raised in the report of the Director General, as follows:

1. Iran has already provided the Agency with the complete background information on activities in Location 4, as the Agency calls it, both orally and in writing, the supporting documents of which have also been presented to the Agency on 24 August 2021. Iran has also responded to the questions of the Agency on 24 August 2021, which were delivered to it unofficially on 26 May 2021. In this context it is regrettable that despite Iran’s written explanations regarding the presence of depleted uranium contamination, which were delivered to the Agency on 26 May 2021, the Agency still keeps repeating that “Iran had yet to provide an explanation”. The Agency has to rectify this situation. As it was explained by Iran, based on our investigation into the background of the activities carried out in the location, there was no precedent of any nuclear activity; therefore, the origin of the contamination declared by the Agency is absolutely unknown to us. Nevertheless, the depleted uranium contamination originating from commercially available uranium-derived products is nothing unusual and is not a significant issue.

It is a source of serious concern that after numerous communications and interactions on this subject and providing information, explanations and complete set of documentation, the Agency sent a letter on 2 September 2021, referencing to some commercial satellite imageries for the period of 1994 till 2018, to claim that some of Iran’s explanations are not consistent with the imageries. Firstly, some satellite imageries cannot prove that activities in contradiction with Iran’s statement have occurred. Secondly, a serious question is raised that why the Agency had not provided Iran with these imageries before in order to be assessed and responded to. Apparently this has become a malpractice by the Agency that every time that we come close to concluding an issue, new questions are raised which prepares the ground for an open and endless process. This practice is not acceptable and contradicts the Agency’s professionalism. Considering all that was explained above and also numerous meetings, communications and explanations provided by Iran, we believe and highly expect that the Agency is able to conclude this matter as resolved.

2. On the natural uranium in the form of a metal disc at location 2, as the Agency calls it, I should remind and recall that the Agency’s inspectors carried out in-field verification activity on this matter at a declared facility twice during the second half of 2020. These were in addition to the annual PIV which usually is carried out in the first half of the year. In the May meeting in Tehran, we challenged the Agency’s claims on this issue which are merely based on a few non-authentic and unsubstantiated images without presenting any supporting evidence. We have stated vividly to the Agency that it is not possible for Iran to take any action accordingly, and it is upon the Agency to rectify this improper practice. Nevertheless, as a sign of good-faith, Iran informed the Agency in May in Tehran that if an additional verification activity, as requested by the Agency, would conclude the matter, we are ready to voluntarily facilitate the implementation of the request. Now, it is upon the Agency to take a professional and proper decision in this regard.

3. Having different opinions on the modified Code 3.1 is not a new issue between Iran and the Agency and dates back to almost two decades ago. It should be reminded that in the new phase, Iran, among the voluntary and transparency measures, accepted implementation of the modified Code 3.1 based on paragraph 65 of the JCPOA.

Madam Chairperson,

I would like to seriously convey my concerns over the aggrandizing of few insignificant old issues from the secretariat. The Director General’s statement in his last report stating that “the lack of progress in clarifying the Agency’s questions concerning the correctness and completeness of Iran’s safeguards declarations was seriously affecting the ability of the Agency to provide assurance of the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme”, is veritably a clear indication of exaggerations on these issues. The Agency should avoid politicizing and maintain its professionalism in its positions and reports. How is it possible that an insignificant amount of material belonging to two decades ago affect the peaceful nature of the nuclear program of a country, while that country is hosting more than 20 percent of the Agency’s inspections at the global level and has accepted, for more than 5 years, the most robust verification and monitoring activities of the Agency?! The statement of the Agency in its report is completely unprofessional, illusory and unfair. We really hope that the Director General rectifies it because continuation of this path may negatively affect Iran’s approach toward the Agency.

In this context, I would like to reiterate that constructive engagement requires positive environment, avoiding expressing any pre-judgment, raising artificial concerns or deadlines, as well as unnecessary and disproportionate overstatement of the trivial issues.

Iran is committed to its obligations under the CSA. It should be noted that all nuclear material and facilities including LOF's in Iran are under the Agency’s safeguards in accordance with the CSA and there is no indication of diversion in declared nuclear material and activities in Iran.

Madam Chairperson,

Reacting to some points raised in this meeting, I would like to reiterate that it is a bitter irony of the history that, the Agency overlooks Israeli regime’s nuclear weapon program in the volatile region of the Middle East.

Regrettably, this regime continues to ignore the international community by downplaying the significance of the Treaty, denying acceding to the Treaty and refusing to place all its nuclear facilities and activities under the Agency's comprehensive safeguards regime. Quite to the contrary, Israel is now even enjoying a more preferential treatment as compared with that of the Nuclear Weapon States, who are members to the NPT and have several obligations specifically under Articles I and VI of the Treaty. While for being still out of the NPT, Israel is free from any obligations under the Treaty, and enjoys all advantages of the IAEA Statute which are interlinked with the NPT.

Such a situation has given this regime the audacity to ridicule the authority and mandate of the Agency in preventing the diversion of its nuclear materials and activities. Most importantly, this regime has become so cynically bold as to manipulate the realities and criticize other Members of the NPT on the account that they have obligations due to their membership in the Treaty, but Israel has not. This is a very serious shortcoming and failure in the work of the Agency, which should be addressed properly.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Fars News Agency

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14000625000452/Envy-Origin-f-Cnaminain-Declared-by-IAEA-Unknwn-Iran

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Iran Reiterates Support for Lebanon, Readiness to Help

2021-September-16

During the meeting in Tehran on Wednesday, Amir Abdollahian underlined the need for the further expansion of relations between Iran and Lebanon, voicing the country's readiness to meet different needs of Lebanon.

He congratulated the Lebanese people on the formation of a new government in the country, adding that the Iranian government under President Ebrahim Rayeesi pays due attention to providing support for the Axis of Resistance.

The honorable resistance of the Lebanese people against the Zionist and Takfiri enemies is a source of honor and pride for all the regional nations and the freedom-seekers across the world, Amir Abdollahian said. 

The Lebanese envoy, for his part, congratulated the Iranian foreign minister on his appointment to the post. 

Safieddin said that the Lebanese people are grateful for the Iranian support for their country during tough times.

He also thanked the Islamic Republic of Iran for selling the most needed fuel to Lebanon.

Tankers carrying Iran-sent fuel arrived in the Lebanese territories on Thursday, bringing joy to people who have been facing acute fuel shortage in the past few months.

A convoy of tankers loaded with Iranian mazut had entered the village of Hawsh al-Sayyed Ali in Lebanon’s Northeastern Baalbek-Hermel province on Thursday, Lebanon 24 News reported.

The media director of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah said that the tankers will first stop between the villages of Ain and Laboueh and that their last station would be the entrance to Southern Baalbek.

Speaking on Wednesday night, Hezbollah Secretary-General Seyed Hassan Nasrallah urged people not to gather to observe the convoy both for their own safety and the movement of the tankers.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Fars News Agency

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14000625000376/Iran-Reieraes-Sppr-fr-Lebann-Readiness-Help

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Ambassador: Iran Wants Removal of Sanctions in Action

2021-September-16

The Islamic Republic is taking a negotiating approach to resolve its differences with other states, Baharvand said on Wednesday.

"We need to ensure that if someone like Trump takes power in the US again, he/she would not destroy the outcome of the negotiations," he stated.

Iran is not going to talk about the region and other issues that have nothing to do with the JCPOA and the nuclear talks, Baharvand added.

"We must also see the practical action of other JCPOA participants in lifting the sanctions," he said, adding that Iran cannot be a member of the agreement and accept its undertakings and at the same time be deprived of its benefits.

In relevant remarks on Wednesday, Iran’s Representative at International Organizations in Vienna Kazzem Qaribabadi said that the western states should not expect Iran to show more tolerance in suspending the development of its peaceful nuclear program while the country is still under the harshest US sanctions.

“I would like to re-emphasize on this point that until the sanctions on Iran are not removed, no one should expect more forbearance form Iran,” Qaribabadi said, addressing the quarterly meeting of the International Atomic Energy agency (IAEA) Board of Governors on 'Verification and Monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in Light of United Nations Security Council resolution 2231 (2015)' in Vienna.

He noted that Iran’s nuclear activities, including enrichment at different levels and production of metallic based uranium fuel are completely peaceful and under the safeguards monitoring and verification of the Agency, adding, “I sincerely advise these countries to abandon scapegoating and start rectifying their failure in implementing their commitments. Iran has fulfilled completely, in past 3 years, its share of prudence and constructiveness.”

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Fars News Agency

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14000625000475/Ambassadr-Iran-Wans-Remval-f-Sancins-in-Acin

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Iran arrests rapper who blasted ‘regime apologists’: Rights group

16 September ,2021

Iran earlier this week arrested an Iranian rapper who openly criticized the regime, its “apologists” abroad, and the status quo in the country in his songs.

Security forces arrested Toomaj Salehi at his home in Isfahan on Monday and took him to an unknown location, the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported.

HRANA is a news site run by a group of Iranian human rights advocates.

“Security forces searched his home and took away some of his personal belongings,” the agency said.

The Iranian judiciary and state media have not commented on Salehi’s arrest.

Days before his arrest, Salehi had said on his Twitter account that he may be arrested. His Instagram account, where he posted his songs, as well as his Twitter account, are no longer accessible.

Some Iranian activists believe one of Salehi’s latest songs, titled “Soorakh Moosh” (Mouse Hole), is what led to his arrest.

The song went viral on social media last month and was well received by many Iranians who praised Salehi for openly criticizing the regime from inside Iran.

Regime apologists

Salehi went a step further in the song, criticizing not only the regime, but also those he referred to as supporters and “apologists” of the regime, both at home and abroad.

“Without your apologism, this regime is incomplete,” Salehi says in the song, criticizing journalists, celebrities, and the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a Washington-based NGO.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Al Arabiya

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/09/16/Iran-arrests-bold-rapper-who-blasted-regime-apologists-Rights-group

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Yemen president renews support to UN-led effort to end war in Yemen

September 16, 2021

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s president reiterated his government’s support to the current UN-led peace efforts to end the war and accused the Iran-backed Houthis and Tehran of intensifying the suffering of the Yemenis through their military escalation.

During his first meeting with the UN’s new special envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi urged the international community to put an end to the threats to maritime navigation in the Red Sea posed by the Houthis, who have planted naval mines.

The president also urged the militia to cease the shelling of vital civilian facilities such as Mocha port and their resistance to maintaining the floating oil tanker SAFER.

“Peace is our choice and we will always be advocates of peace and harmony as it is a life choice for our people and for humanity as a whole,” Hadi told the UN envoy, according to the official news agency SABA.

Grundberg’s push to revive peace efforts comes as dozens of combatants, including a field government military leader, were killed in fierce clashes between Houthis and government troops in Yemen’s central province of Al- Bayda, residents and local military officials told Arab News on Thursday.

The fighting broke out over the last 24 hours when the Houthis renewed their push in the central province, making gains on the ground in Al-Souma district, triggering heavy clashes that left dozens dead.

Col. Ahmed Al- Damani, a government military commander, and many others were killed in an area north of Mukayras as they were fighting off Houthi attacks in Al-Bayda.

As the Houthis were fighting their way into Al-Bayda’s borders with the southern provinces, such as Abyan and Shabwa, the army on Thursday dispatched tanks, armed vehicles and soldiers to the battlefields to stop the Houthi advances.

Flatbed trucks carrying tanks and military vehicles carrying soldiers were seen leaving military bases in Shabwa and Abyan and heading to flashpoint sites north of Lowder town in Abyan. Warplanes from the Arab coalition carried out several air raids, targeting Houthi military gatherings in Al-Bayda.

Residents in Lowder said on Thursday that a large explosion shook the town after a missile fired by the Houthis exploded inside a military base, causing damage to buildings.

No one was reportedly hurt in the missile strike.

The Houthi escalation in Al-Bayda comes after the militia suffered heavy casualties and a series of defeats during their deadly offensive on the central city of Marib. 

Yemen’s Defense Ministry on Thursday said that government troops engaged in heavy battles with the Houthis west of Marib.

Yemen army commanders believe that hundreds of Houthis have been killed in deadly clashes in the province of Marib this month.

The Houthis, who militarily took power in Yemen in late 2014, have been aggressively pushing since February to take control of the gas-rich city of Marib, the government’s last stronghold in the north.

Meanwhile, violent protests in southern Yemen on Thursday subsided as local authorities deployed forces and military vehicles around key institutes and opened blocked roads.

At least three people were killed in Aden and Al- Mukalla, the provincial capital of Hadramout, on Tuesday and Wednesday when angry protests over long power cuts, economic meltdown and plunging currency swept over the southern cities.

Protesters blocked roads, burned tires and garbage boxes and hurled stones at security forces seeking to unblock the roads.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Arab News

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1930271/middle-east

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Houthi militia group arrested for assassination plot on government military officials

September 17, 2021

LONDON: Police in Yemen's province of Marib arrested a group of Houthi militia planning to bomb public places with the aim to assassinate government military officials, state news agency Saba reported on Thursday.

The commander of Special Forces in Marib Brig. Gen. Saleem Al-Sayyaghi told Saba that a cache of explosives and maps of bomb sites were seized in possession of the Houthi members.

Initial investigations, he said, revealed that those arrested “steered by the Iran-backed Houthi militia” and were tasked with bombing civilian crowds and military leaders.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Arab News

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1930461/middle-east

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Africa

 

Boko Haram targets military convoy in Nigeria, kills 12 soldiers

Adam Abu-bashal  

17.09.2021

ABUJA, Nigeria

The Boko Haram terrorist group attacked a military convoy in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state Thursday, killing 12 soldiers.

According to local reports, the attack took place as the convoy was travelling on a highway between Borno’s capital Maiduguri and the garrison town of Monguno.

The group also seized three trucks.

Boko Haram has been carrying out violent attacks on civilians in communities and military bases in the region since July 2009.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Anadolu Agency

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/boko-haram-targets-military-convoy-in-nigeria-kills-12-soldiers/2366972

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Somali president suspends premier’s power to hire, fire officials

Magdalene Mukami 

16.09.2021

MOGADISHU, Somalia

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed on Thursday suspended the prime minister’s power to hire and fire officials, accusing him of taking “rush and hasty decisions.”

This came after Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble removed Internal Security Minister Hassan Hundubey Jimale last week and replaced him with Abdullahi Mohamed Nur.

According to the presidency, there were "no working relations between the president and the prime minister."

Tensions mounted between Mohamed and Roble after they chose different individuals to head the country’s spy agency earlier this month.

Last week, the prime minister suspended Fahad Yasin, director of the spy agency, saying he failed to provide reliable evidence of investigations into the alleged killing on an intelligence agent in June.

Roble appointed Bashir Mohamed Jama as the agency's interim head, while the president named Yasin Abdullahi Mohamed.

The presidency accused the prime minister of infringing the country’s constitution by overstepping his mandate.

The escalating rift between the top political leaders has caught the attention of foreign missions amid heightened political tensions in the country.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Anadolu Agency

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/somali-president-suspends-premier-s-power-to-hire-fire-officials/2366676

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Somalia’s regional leaders urge end to power struggle

17 September ,2021

Somalia’s regional leaders on Friday called for the president and prime minister to end their damaging feud which has stoked deep concerns about the stability of the Horn of Africa nation.

The row escalated on Thursday when President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who is popularly known as Farmajo, suspended the executive powers of Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble.

The two men have been at odds over top security appointments in a dispute that comes as Somalia struggles to hold repeatedly delayed elections and confront a violent extremist insurgency.

Somalia’s state leaders called on the protagonists to stop “exchanging statements,” resolve their disagreements through mediation and respect the interim constitution.

“The presidents of the federal member states are concerned about the current conflict in Somali federal institutions which does not serve the public interest, leads to insecurity and political instability,” the presidents of Jubaland, Southwest, Galmudug, Hirshabele and Puntland said in statement.

They also urged electoral bodies to speed up the long-delayed polls.

Farmajo’s four-year mandate expired in February, but was extended by parliament in April, triggering deadly gun battles in Mogadishu, with some rivals viewing it as a flagrant power grab.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Al Arabiya

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/09/17/Somalia-s-regional-leaders-urge-end-to-power-struggle

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Egypt’s President Sisi pushes for December elections in Libya

16 September ,2021

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pledged support Thursday for elections in Libya in talks with interim prime minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah, days after meeting commander Khalifa Haftar.

Sisi “stressed the importance of the upcoming Libyan elections in respecting and activating the free will of the ... Libyan people,” a presidency statement said.

During a visit to Tripoli on Tuesday, US Department of State Counsellor Derek Chollet said the war-torn country had “the best opportunity ... in a decade to bring the conflict to closure.”

An interim government was established earlier this year to lead conflict-ridden Libya toward December 24 parliamentary and presidential polls.

Parliament speaker Aguila Saleh, who also met Sisi alongside eastern-based commander Haftar, ratified a law last week governing the presidential elections.

Critics accused him of failing to follow due process and seeking to favor Haftar.

The mercurial general, who lived in the US state of Virginia for decades before returning during the revolution, leads forces that have de facto control over Libya’s east and part of the south.

He is increasingly expected to run in the country’s presidential poll later this year.

Cairo has long been seen as one of Haftar’s main supporters.

Egypt’s war-scarred neighbor is trying to extricate itself from a decade of turmoil following the 2011 toppling of Former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi.

In recent years, the country has been split between rival administrations backed by foreign powers including Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

In his meeting with Dbeibah, Sisi rejected all forms of “foreign interference” in Libya, the statement added, in an implicit rebuke of Turkey’s military backing of Tripoli-based Government of National Accord.

According to the UN, some 20,000 mercenaries and foreign fighters were still in Libya last year.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Al Arabiya

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/north-africa/2021/09/16/Egypt-s-President-Sisi-pushes-for-December-elections-in-Libya

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Haftar’s eastern forces and Chadian rebels clash in southern Libya

15 September ,2021

The Libyan National Army (LNA) of eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar clashed with Chadian rebel forces in the south of Libya on Tuesday and Wednesday, both sides said.

The fighting underscores the risk of further instability in the Sahel region, where an array of groups operate across borders and where fighting has created space for militant organizations.

Statements from the LNA, which holds most of eastern and southern Libya, said it was engaged in military operations against what it called terrorist groups and the Chadian opposition.

The rebel group Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) said via social media that its positions on the frontier had been attacked by Haftar’s forces, fighting alongside what it said were Sudanese mercenaries and French troops.

The LNA said it had carried out air strikes and was conducting aerial patrols. FACT said French air strikes had hit its positions.

The French army said it had no forces on the ground or in the air in that area.

FACT had been based in Libya and fought alongside the LNA during periods of Libya’s civil war, receiving heavy arms from Haftar, researchers say.

In April, FACT advanced into northern Chad, battling the army there. Chadian authorities said president Idriss Deby, who had ruled for 30 years, was killed in the clashes. His son has taken over as transitional president.

The LNA, which was backed in the Libyan conflict by the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Egypt, also used fighters from Sudan and Syria as well as those provided by the Russian Wagner Group, a UN panel of experts has said.

The UAE deployed drone strikes in support of the LNA during its foiled 14-month offensive to capture Tripoli, which ended last year. The US military has said that Russia flew jets to Libya last year to support LNA operations.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Al Arabiya

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/north-africa/2021/09/15/Haftar-s-eastern-forces-and-Chadian-rebels-clash-in-southern-Libya

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North America

 

US Treasury sanctions five Turkey-based al-Qaeda facilitators

17 September ,2021

The US Treasury placed five Turkey-based al-Qaeda facilitators and financiers on its sanctions blacklist Thursday, as it focuses its attention on the extremist group’s network in the country.

The Treasury said Egypt-born Turkish lawyer Majdi Salim and another Egyptian citizen, Muhammad Nasr al-Din al-Ghazlani, acted as financial couriers for al-Qaeda in Turkey.

The group, designated by the United States as a terror organization, “used Turkey-based financial couriers... to facilitate funds transfers on behalf of al-Qaeda, including providing money to the families of imprisoned al-Qaeda members,” the Treasury said in a statement.

Three Turkish nationals, Cebrail Guzel, Soner Gurleyen, and Nurettin Muslihan, were accused of having helped facilitate al-Qaeda’s network across Turkey and into neighboring Syria.

Thursday’s announcement followed a similar sanctions designation in late July of two Turkey-based “financial facilitators” of al-Qaeda and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an extremist group based in Syria with ties to al-Qaeda.

Concern has grown in Washington over a potential revival of al-Qaeda, responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the United States 20 years ago, after US troops withdrew from Afghanistan in August.

Al-Qaeda had been sheltering in Taliban-held Afghanistan in the late 1990s, and the US invasion in 2001 toppled the extremist regime in a bid to find al-Qaeda’s leaders.

Please click the following url to read the full text of the original story:

Source: Al Arabiya

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/09/17/US-Treasury-sanctions-five-Turkey-based-al-Qaeda-facilitators

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