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Mon Aug 10 2020, 01:15 AM

Islamic World News ( 7 Feb 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan Parliament Passes Resolution Demanding Public Hanging Of Child Sexual Abusers







• Islamophobic Posters Showing Muslims as Anti-Hindu People Surface In Lahore

• Cannabis Coffee, How Shariah Stronghold Aceh Sidesteps Drug Ban

• Jokowi to Build 'Tunnel of Friendship' for Muslims and Catholics in Jakarta

• Delhi Elections: Muslim Voters Balance Fears over CAA-NRC with Development Issues

• Delhi Assembly Election 2020: ‘Voting For India, Constitution’, Says Shaheen Bagh Voter amid Long Queues

• Qatar-Backed Islamic Body Calls On Muslims to ‘Use All Means’ Against Trump Plan

• The Islamic Republic Of Iran Stands Tall Despite 41-Year US Siege

• Something Worse Than Boko Haram May Emerge, Sultan Warns

• Over 100 US Democrats Reject Trump's ‘Deal of the Century’

• Daesh Bride Loses Battle To Keep British Citizenship

• Mysterious Death of Key Pakistani Taliban Leaders in Kabul Raises Questions

 

Pakistan

• Pakistan Parliament Passes Resolution Demanding Public Hanging Of Child Sexual Abusers

• Islamophobic Posters Showing Muslims as Anti-Hindu People Surface In Lahore

• Tense situation prevails as Maulana Aziz occupies Lal Masjid

• Pak Fundamentalist Group Declares Minor Hindu Girl Apostate

• PM slaps ban on sugar export amid crisis

• 200-year-old temple in Quetta returned to Hindu community

• Neo TV fined for airing fake news about PM’s pay raise

• Inflation making it difficult to run kitchen, lashkar with UN-approved Rs150, 000 stipend: Hafiz Saeed

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Southeast Asia

• Cannabis Coffee, How Shariah Stronghold Aceh Sidesteps Drug Ban

• Jokowi to Build 'Tunnel of Friendship' for Muslims and Catholics in Jakarta

• Malysia’s Mahathir: US plan allows Israel’s occupation

• IGP: Stop politicising Indira Gandhi's case

• Indonesia: Islamic State Sympathizer in Bomb Plot Sentenced to Life Imprisonment

• Indonesian Police Gun Down Militant Suspect on Sumatra Island

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India

• Delhi Elections: Muslim Voters Balance Fears over CAA-NRC with Development Issues

• Delhi Assembly Election 2020: ‘Voting For India, Constitution’, Says Shaheen Bagh Voter amid Long Queues

• Indian Protesters Hold Interfaith Prayers At Shaheen Bagh

• Amritsar: Muslim Group Seeking Support Against CAA Submits Memorandum To Akal Takht

• Never Issued Any Statement On Calling Off Anti-CAA Protest: Darul Uloom Deoband V-C

• Sunnis' Acceptance Of Five Acres Does Not Represent Decision Of All Muslims Of India: AIMPLB

• Dhannipur near Ayodhya Already Has 15 Mosques, Local Muslims Want Hospital and College Too

• Muslim and Dalit Organisations Unite Against CAA-NRC-NPR

• CAA Passed As 'Reaction to Fiasco in Assam': Chidambaram

• PSA on Omar means ‘restrictions’ on entire mainstream political ideology in J&K: NC

• India offered to evacuate students of all neighbours, says Jaishankar on Pak students in Wuhan

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Arab World

• Qatar-Backed Islamic Body Calls On Muslims to ‘Use All Means’ Against Trump Plan

• Saudi regime’s existence dependent on external forces: Opposition leader

• Ayatollah Sistani urges Iraqi forces to protect peaceful demonstrators, identify attackers

• Planet Omar: Why it's about time young Muslims saw themselves in children's literature

• Nearly 550 Iraqis killed in anti-government demonstrations: Commission

• Chemical arms watchdog says Syria probe leakers ‘not whistleblowers’

• Syria’s Rojava hand over 35 ISIS-linked orphans to Russia

• Iraqi top Shia cleric Sistani condemns anti-protests violence

• Exclusive: Govt. forces seize key region from al-Qaeda-linked militants in northern Syria

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Mideast

• The Islamic Republic Of Iran Stands Tall Despite 41-Year US Siege

• Erdogan’s Government ‘Practices Totalitarianism’ Under Security Cover: MP

• Iran To Disclose Information About Missile Attack On US Base In Iraq: ISNA

• New ‘mercy flight’ from Houthi-held Yemen capital delayed: WHO

• Iran to respond in kind to any US provocation in Persian Gulf: Judiciary chief

• Iran sued over victims of downed Ukrainian plane by Canadian lawyers

• Top EU diplomat briefs US leaders on Iran trip, Middle East plan

• Turkish forces build military base in Syria’s Idlib as govt. forces advance: Report

• Kushner blames Palestinian president for rising violence by Israel

• Israel uses civilian flight as shield to raid Damascus after Syrian troops liberate Saraqib

• Houthi attacks on civilians threaten peace efforts, says Yemeni vice president

• Protests against US and Israel escalate in Palestine, Jordan

• Yemeni army controls areas in Al-Jawf province

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Africa

• Something Worse Than Boko Haram May Emerge, Sultan Warns

• Boko Haram Members Should Be Prosecuted Not Freed, Says Group

• Nigerian police kills 250 militants in combat operation

• Somalia: Al-Shabaab Militants Launch Attack On KDF Convoy in Somalia

• Nigerian court resumes trial of Sheikh Zakzaky

• UN envoy reports 'progress' in Libya talks

• Protesters march on US embassy in Jordan to slam Trump deal

• Social media exposes Libyan warlord's mercenaries

• AFRICOM continues strikes targeting al-Shabab militants in Somalia

• Troops in hot chase of remnant of Boko Haram terrorists – Army

• UN Envoy Says Push Continues Toward Cease-Fire Deal in Libya

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North America

• Over 100 US Democrats Reject Trump's ‘Deal of the Century’

• Kushner blames Palestinian president for rising violence by Israel

• Trump's scheme for Palestine, a colonial plan: Analyst

• Our laws have a problem calling domestic terrorism what it is

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Europe

• Daesh Bride Loses Battle To Keep British Citizenship

• ‘We Dont Welcome Your Racist Comment’ IKEA Defends Muslim Worker

• British Daesh militants to be put on trial in Syria

• Italy urges Syrian parties to stop hostilities in Idlib

• UK to end automatic release of terror convicts

• Northern Ireland militants planted Brexit bomb, investigators say

• Terror offenders due to be freed 'told they will not be' - lawyer

• French jihadists appeal to UN to avoid death penalty

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South Asia

• Mysterious Death of Key Pakistani Taliban Leaders in Kabul Raises Questions

• Kabul Taliban: Spies, militants and a mysterious assassination

• Taliban shadow district chief killed in Afghan army overnight airstrike

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/pakistan-parliament-passes-resolution-demanding-public-hanging-of-child-sexual-abusers/d/121015

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Pakistan Parliament passes resolution demanding public hanging of child sexual abusers

Feb 7, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan parliament on Friday passed a resolution demanding public hanging of those convicted of sexually abusing and murdering children.

The resolution, which referred to the brutal killing of an 8-year-old girl after abuse in Nowshera area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in 2018, was passed with majority votes as it was supported by all lawmakers except those belonging to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of former premier Benazir Bhutto.

Former premier and PPP leader Raja Pervez Ashraf said that pubic hanging was violation of UN rules and punishment cannot mitigate crimes. “Ramping up the severity of punishments does not result in a reduction in crime."

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan presented the resolution in the House which strongly condemned the incidents of child sexual abuse.

“This house demands that to stop these shameful and brutal killings of children and give a strong deterrent effect, the killers and rapists should not only be given death penalty by hanging but they should be hanged publicly,” it read.

However, the resolution was condemned by two ministers who were not present in the house at the time voting.

“Strongly condemn this resolution this is just another grave act in line with brutal civilisation practices, societies act in a balanced way barberiaism is not answer to crimes...... this is another expression of extremism,” Minister for Science Fawad Chaudhry tweeted in reaction.

Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari also expressed anger.

“The resolution passed in NA (National Assembly) today on public hangings was across party lines and not a government-sponsored resolution but an individual act. Many of us oppose it - our MOHR (Ministry of Human Rights) strongly opposes this. Unfortunately I was in a meeting and wasn't able to go to NA,” she tweeted.

According to a report released by child rights organisation Sahil in September last year, 1,304 cases of sexual abuse of children were reported by the media in the country from January to June. This means that at least seven children are abused every day. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-parliament-passes-resolution-demanding-public-hanging-of-child-sexual-abusers/articleshow/74008224.cms

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Islamophobic posters showing Muslims as anti-Hindu people surface in Lahore

Feb 8, 2020

LAHORE – The growing global tide of Islamophobia continues to rear its bigoted head, with anti-Muslim posters now surfacing in the citadel, the laboratory, of Islam that is Pakistan. Islamphobic banners surfaced all over Lahore, taking social media by storm on Wednesday. The posters, clearly targeting the Muslim community, showed them in a negative light, stereotyping them as people that are anti-Hindu.

The banners, first seen on Lahore’s Mall Road, depict derogatory anti-Hindu comments written on behalf of the representatives of this great Islamic country, with the intention clearly to portray Muslims as extremists.

Furthermore, what has made this instance of hate speech all the more deplorable, is that it deviously sought to speak on behalf of the ruling party that is actually engaged in this global fight against Islamophobia.

“Our party, our government and our Prime Minister, has been actively talking about Islamophobia for months. In fact, we don’t do anything else, but tweet about it all the time. So of course, this is a conspiracy of someone who wants to defame us,” says leader of the ruling Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Shireen Mazari, the Federal Minister for Human Rights.

“Either the conspirators are the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) or they belong to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which of course means one and the same thing,” Mazari added.

The federal government has announced that the matter will be taken up by the joint Turkey-Malaysia-Pakistan anti-Islamphobia channel.

The Punjab government has also vowed to react strongly to the Islamophobic hate speech in the provincial capital.

“Oh you Hindus who put up this anti-Hindu poster to defame Muslims, let this be a warning from a proud Muslim!” said Punjab government spokesperson Fayyaz Ul Hassan Chohan.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/02/07/islamophobic-posters-showing-muslims-as-anti-hindu-people-surface-in-lahore/

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Cannabis Coffee, How Shariah Stronghold Aceh Sidesteps Drug Ban

February 7, 2020

BANDA ACEH: Agus plunges a wooden paddle into his coffee and marijuana-filled wok, taking care to roast just the right mix of ingredients – and stay one step ahead of police in Indonesia’s Aceh province.

His contraband brew is a hit with locals and buyers in other parts of the Southeast Asian archipelago, who pay 1 million rupiah for 1kg.

But this is risky business in Aceh, where even drinking alcohol or kissing in public can earn you a painful whipping under its strict Islamic law.

Agus, not his real name, is part of a clandestine economy in the region at the tip of Sumatra which, despite its no-nonsense reputation, is Indonesia’s top weed-producer with fields covering an area nearly seven times the size of Singapore, according to official estimates.

Pot was once so common in Aceh that locals grew it in their backyards and marijuana was sold to the public.

But it was outlawed in the 70s and Muslim majority Indonesia has since adopted some of the world’s strictest drug laws, including the death penalty for traffickers.

The nation has declared itself in the midst of a drug “emergency” because of soaring methamphetamine use.

But the situation is Aceh is muddled.

Police hunt weed farmers, imprison users and torch mountains of confiscated marijuana – more than 100 tonnes last year alone.

Yet just last week a lawmaker from the province proposed in Parliament that the drug should be legalised, so the country could export it for pharmaceutical purposes.

He was quickly reprimanded by his Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), while the national narcotics agency slammed the proposal claiming it would discourage Aceh ganja farmers from adopting its suggestions to switch to vegetables and other crops.

Perfect high

Despite the risks, Agus, claims he has little fear of going to jail.

“How can you ban something that’s everywhere?” he said, adding: “It’s all over Aceh. This huge crackdown just makes it rarer to see in public but people still use it.”

Most days, his biggest concern is hitting the perfect ratio for his java – 70% coffee and 30% marijuana.

“If you put more than 30% ganja in there then you lose the coffee taste,” he explained.

For two decades Agus was a white-collar professional but he swapped his prestigious career for a more lucrative trade in order to better support his family.

“I wanted to focus on coffee because this is my area of expertise,” he added.

Agus insists his recipe offers a pleasant, less intense high than smoking it or eating popular dodol ganja.

The local speciality mixes marijuana with a fudgy sweet made from glutinous rice, palm sugar and coconut milk.

“That stuff can really make you hallucinate,” Agus said.

How marijuana became a thing in Aceh is a matter of debate.

Some say it was brought by Dutch colonists hundreds of years ago as a gift for a sultan in the jungle-clad region.

But local historian Tarmizi Abdul Hamid counters that marijuana use – for everything from medicine and cooking to repelling pests from crops and preserving food – can be found in manuscripts that pre-date the Dutch arrival.

“It shows that ganja can be used to cure baldness or high blood pressure,” he said of one text.

“Ganja was also used for cooking and medicine. Smoking, however, is not mentioned in the ancient scriptures,” he added.

Heavenly weed

Centuries later, marijuana was on the front lines – literally – of a separatist insurgency in Aceh.

Former weed farmer Fauzan remembers harvesting his crop when bullets started flying across his field in a shootout between government soldiers and rebels back in 2002, three years before a peace deal ended the bloody conflict.

Fauzan estimates that some 80% of the people in his hometown Lamteuba, about 50km  from provincial capital Banda Aceh, were once ganja farmers.

Locals in the one-time rebel stronghold created secret pathways to their lucrative crops and even built hiding places to stash their weed harvest in a cat-and-mouse game with authorities.

“This village is like heaven. Whatever you plant here it’ll grow,” Fauzan said.

“Throw a ganja seed on the ground, leave it and then come back for the harvest.”

But, fearing arrest, he later quit the trade.

Fauzan, who now grows chilies to support his family, works with the government to convince farmers to switch to vegetables and other crops.

That’s a hard sell in an impoverished village with few job opportunities.

“If the government doesn’t take care of people and supply assistance, they’re likely to go back to their old routine,” Fauzan acknowledged.

For pot enthusiast Iqbal – not his real name – the only thing prohibition has done is make locals better at hiding pot in a cup of coffee or plate of noodles.

He mused: “It’s impossible to get rid of ganja in Aceh. Cracking down on meth by destroying a lab is easier. But when police destroy a ganja plantation, it’ll just grow somewhere else.”

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/highlight/2020/02/07/cannabis-coffee-how-shariah-stronghold-aceh-sidesteps-drug-ban/

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Jokowi to Build 'Tunnel of Friendship' for Muslims and Catholics in Jakarta

BY LENNY TRISTIA TAMBUN

FEBRUARY 07, 2020

Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Friday approved a proposal to build an underground tunnel connecting the Istiqlal Mosque, one of the country's landmarks in Central Jakarta, with its neighbor, the St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral.

The mosque and the cathedral, built side-by-side in the country's center of government, have long been heralded as symbols of tolerance in the country. Muslims and Catholics usually share the mosque's and the church's parking space during major celebrations like Idul Fitri and Christmas.

"This will be a friendship tunnel. People would not need to cross [the road anymore] to go between the two places of worship," Jokowi said.

He said the tunnel can also be used as a place of gathering for the congregations of the mosque and the cathedral.

The tunnel construction will be part of a major renovation currently underway at Istiqlal.

Jokowi ordered the renovation last year after finding out some parts of the mosque had deteriorated badly when he accompanied Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a tour of the building, which was designed by Christian architect Frederich Silaban.

After the visit, Jokowi immediately instructed the Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono to renovate the mosque and complete it by April this year so it can be used for Lebaran.

The renovation of the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, which was opened to the public 41 years ago, will cost the government a total of Rp 475 billion ($35 million).

https://jakartaglobe.id/news/jokowi-to-build-tunnel-of-friendship-for-muslims-and-catholics-in-jakarta

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Delhi elections: Muslim voters balance fears over CAA-NRC with development issues

Feb 7, 2020

NEW DELHI: A Bollywood song from the 1980s plays somewhere outside and Imtiaz Hussain, sitting in his office in southeast Delhi's Batla House, listens attentively, nodding in agreement at the words of unity, oneness and love for the country.

On Friday evening, with just a few hours to go before the Delhi assembly elections, 'Mera karma tu, mera dharma tu...Hindu Muslim Sikh Issai, Hum vatan hum naam hain' from Dilip Kumar starrer 'Karma' strikes a particularly emotive chord for Hussain.

"Pakistan, Hindu-Muslim divide have been the focal point of this election. I have never seen such a polarised election," said the 68-year-old who was born in Old Delhi and has been living in the Okhla area for the last 15 years.

Complete Coverage on Delhi Elections

"Non-issues have been made issues," he said, pointing to a poster declaring 'No-CAA, No-NRC, No-NPR'. In his view, these should not be electoral issues at all.

Similar posters can be seen in the congested lane that houses his office and other shops, just two kilometres from Shaheen Bagh, the epicentre of the anti-CAA protests that became the core of the BJP's campaign.

Hussain is clear he will consider the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register along with issues such as water, electricity and sanitation when he votes on Saturday.

Caught between bread and butter issues and the CAA-NRC-NPR that they feel threaten their identity as Indians, many other Muslims across the city agree with Hussain.

In a city where Muslim voters constitute 13 per cent of the electorate and are scattered through Ballimaran, Matia Mahal, Mustafabad, Okhla, Babarpur and Seelampur and other localities, the CAA and NRC have emerged main issues alongside everyday development issues.

The Aam Aadmi Party, which is pitching for a second term in power, has rolled out several free schemes and has promised to continue them if it comes to power.

But Abrar Ahmed, 32, a businessman in northeast Delhi's Seelampur locality, isn't sure if it will work for his community.

"If we are not citizens of this country, what will be the use of free electricity, water and wi-fi? We want this Act to be revoked," Ahmed said.

However, potable water is a major issue in his area, he added.

"I was suffering from cancer and completed my chemotherapy three months ago. The doctors told me to drink only packaged water for at least three months," Ahmed said.

He is also unhappy that the AAP did not take any stand against CAA-NRC, Article 370 and triple talaq.

"Women have been staging a protest at Shaheen Bagh and the chief minister has not uttered a single word on the matter," he said.

But Hussain is not too concerned.

"We know who has worked and who has not," he said.

According to Muhammad Javed, 50, who owns a printing press in Ballimaran in old Delhi, the polarising campaign could reap some electoral dividends but it would be limited at best.

"The common man wants to earn a decent living and live his life without bothering anyone. They have never, and they will never, root for fights between Hindus and Muslims.

"Their demands are simple: better government schools, cheap electricity, safe water and affordable health facilities. Whichever party gives them this will get the votes, and I believe that AAP has done reasonably good on these count and hence would win the elections," said Javed.

Farida Begum, 55,, who has been protesting at Shaheen Bagh since the protest began in December said the only factor for her will be the repealing of CAA.

The young appear to have their own concerns.

Shoaib Malik, 24, who is doing his masters in Urdu from Jamia Millia Islamia, and Shamas Malik, 19, a first time voter said they have given a youth manifesto to AAP and Congress.

"We have made a youth manifesto and given both the parties. 'Gyms in each ward', 'library & book bank for the area', 'gynaecologist and special camps for women health', 'skills development centre cum counselling desk for the youth' and 'free wi-fi' are some of our demands," said Shoaib.

Mohammad Saad, 17, a student of the Jamia Secondary School, is clear about what he would like to do if he could exercise his franchise.

"Good infrastructure, good education are the issues I would have voted for. There was no need for CAA when our economy is struggling," Saad said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/elections/assembly-elections/delhi/muslim-voters-balance-fears-over-caa-nrc-with-development-issues/articleshow/74011791.cms

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Delhi assembly election 2020: ‘Voting for India, Constitution’, says Shaheen Bagh voter amid long queues

Feb 08, 2020

Long queues of people were seen in Shaheen Bagh, the centre stage of the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) for almost three months now, as they turned out to cast their vote for the Delhi assembly elections on Saturday.

The colony in southeast Delhi has been thrust into the national spotlight as protesters have blocked a major road for months, demanding the repeal of the contentious citizenship act with women in the forefront of the agitation.

Security forces kept a tight watch across all the five polling stations in Shaheen Bagh, which have been declared “critical” amid two incidents of shooting in the area within a week.

Police will also use aerial cameras if there is a problem in the law and order situation, senior officials have said.

“I am voting for India and its Constitution. We are citizens of India,” a woman said while waiting to vote outside a polling booth at the Shaheen Public School, according to news agency ANI.

The ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has fielded Amanatullah, the current legislator, against the Congress’ Parvez Hashmi and Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) Brahm Singh Bidhuri.

Anti-nationals, governance

The election campaign was a bitter battle between the AAP and BJP as the ruling party at the Centre projected Shaheen Bagh as one of its main poll planks.

The BJP leaders, led by Union home minister Amit Shah, focused on Shaheen Bagh, attempting to discredit the protesters and called them “anti-national” in character. Some even called Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal a “terrorist”, and accused protesters of being rapists.

Some even asserted that the process of clearing Shaheen Bagh will begin once the BJP comes to power after the Delhi assembly polls.

It blamed the AAP of spreading anarchy and violence and causing inconvenience to the city’s residents.

In turn, Arvind Kejriwal accused the BJP of polarising the issues and vitiating the electoral scene.

The AAP also talked about on local governance issues and its track record in the past five years” such as fixing state-run schools and healthcare in the city of more than 16 million people.

The ruling party on Delhi also focussed on the provision of electricity and water supply and subsidised rates and free public transport for women. It has also promised to focus on pollution, provision of clean water and cleanliness in its next term if elected to power.

Protests have erupted across the country against CAA under which illegal migrants, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who entered India on or before 2015 will be eligible for Indian citizenship.

Critics say the law discriminates against Muslims as only non-Muslims from the three neighbouring countries can become Indian citizens.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/assembly-elections/delhi-assembly-election-2020-voting-for-india-constitution-says-shaheen-bagh-voter-amid-long-queues/story-jNkws9cSidKnyFtINxCnGI.html

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Qatar-backed Islamic body calls on Muslims to ‘use all means’ against Trump plan

7 February 2020

The Qatar-funded International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) released a statement following the announcement of US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, describing it as an attempt at an “eradication war” and calling on the Muslim world to “use all means” to fight it.

The latest Middle East peace plan proposed a two-state solution, but in a way that Palestinians would lose large amounts of land. It was rejected outright by Palestinians, with President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas rejecting the plan with “a thousand nos.” In the rest of the Arab world, the response was more measured. While Arab leaders did not fully lambast Trump’s plan in support of Palestinians, they stressed that dialogue between parties should continue.

“The Union is closely following what is happening in the world and the consequent show of force and its exploitation, and is surprised, just as everyone was surprised, by the announcement of US President Trump's alleged peace plan in the Middle East,” the IUMS said in an official statement following the announcement of the deal.

“The Union calls on all the free people of the world to oppose this eradication war by all means possible,” the statement read.

On the same day that the IUMS released its statement rejecting Trump’s deal, it also posted an excerpt from its founder Youssef al-Qaradawi – a Doha-based Egyptian-born cleric considered the spiritual leader of the banned Muslim Brotherhood group – calling on Muslims to “wage jihad and sacrifice their souls in defense of Jerusalem.”

The IUMS was established in 2004 and supported financially by Qatar. It was founded by the hardline Islamic scholar al-Qaradawi. Since November 7, 2018, Ahmed Raissouni, a Moroccan Professor of Islamic Jurist, successive al-Qaradawi as president of the IUMS.

Qaradawi is a controversial figure who landed on several Arab countries’ terror list for his advocating terrorism over the years. Egypt tried and sentenced him to death in absentia. Qaradawi has also been banned from entry in several countries, including France and the UK since 2012 after he had advocated for suicide bomb attacks against Israelis. He has also been labeled as a terrorist by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt since 2017 for his support of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The IUMS has been known for issuing several controversial statements, including its recent opposition to the recent historic high-delegation visit by the Mecca-based Muslim World League (MWL) to the Nazi Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. The IUMS called the visit “an expression of unacceptable normalization with Israel” and its president Raissouni said “it is a right and an obligation to question the Holocaust.”

The peace plan unveiled by Trump and touted by his administration as the “Deal of the Century” prompted reactions from world leaders and governments around the world.

The UAE said it believes that the Palestinians and Israelis can achieve lasting peace and genuine coexistence with the support of the international community, while Egypt called on both sides to carefully consider the plan with a view to resuming negotiations. The European Union's top diplomat said after the announcement of the plan that the bloc remains "firm and united" behind the quest for a negotiated two-state peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Bahrain said it supports all efforts to achieve a “just and comprehensive solution” for the Palestinian cause, thanked the US for its work on the plan, and urged the Israeli and Palestinian sides to start direct negotiations under US sponsorship.

For its part, the Arab League rejected the plan, calling it “unfair” to Palestinians.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2020/02/07/Qatar-backed-Islamic-body-calls-on-Muslims-to-use-all-means-against-Trump-plan.html

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The Islamic Republic of Iran stands tall despite 41-year US siege

07 February 2020

By Yuram Abdullah Weiler

Predicting the imminent downfall of the Islamic Republic has been a staple among American pundits since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran 41 years ago.  Amazingly, despite incessant attempts at regime change by the US and its cohorts, Iran has survived and, in some ways, managed to flourish. Yet very few in the West have acknowledged the Islamic Republic’s longevity and fewer still have studied the factors behind this country’s remarkable robustness.

Collapse closer than ever before?

As recently as January 13, one pundit asserted that Iran was closer “than ever before” to the long sought after holy grail of the US, namely collapse of the legitimate, internationally recognized Iranian government.  Former Obama administration national security advisor General James Jones stated that since “Iran has had a very bad couple of weeks,” he conjectured that “possible collapse of a regime has to be something that people think about.”  Even the former shah’s son, who has lived in exile near Washington, DC for four decades, has been salivating over a possible restoration of his throne lately.  “We are in a mode of a final implosion,” said Reza Pahlavi before an audience at the right-leaning Hudson Institute on January 15, 2020.

The Washington regime has had its gunsights on Iran ever since Iranians rose up and overthrew the US-imposed dictator in February 1979.  Facing economic strangulation due to ever-increasing US sanctions, Iran has managed to develop a largely self-sufficient economy, and while certain items are lacking, by and large results have been impressive.  The sanctions are strong evidence of the stupidity of Washington’s policymakers.  After all, how many years have Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela and Iran been under these coercive economic measures without achieving the desired overthrow of the ancien regime?

There seems to be an insidious defective gene plaguing the DNA of the American people, which compels them to believe that, given the opportunity, most citizens of other nations would prefer to be just like Americans, replete with identical economic and political systems as well as the lax societal norms for which the US is notorious.  The resulting congenital idiocy caused by this anomalous gene would be farcical were it not for the pathological US behavior that imposes sanguinary revenge against all who would dare decline the invitation to be “Amerimorphized.” As Walter Hixon, distinguished professor of history at the University of Akron, points out, “Identity-driven US foreign policy was violently reactionary and continuous rather than forward-looking and idealistic.”

A paradigm of synthesis and inclusion

The name itself of the Islamic Republic of Iran suggests a synthesis of Islamic religious tradition and Enlightenment modernity.  Iran’s unique dual-track system of government consisting of a democratic polity complete with a popularly-elected parliament, and religious scholars providing moral oversight parallels the material and spiritual aspects of the human being itself. This notion of synthesis or a symbiotic relationship between government and religion, which stands in stark contrast to Western notions of separation of church and state, dates back to ancient Iranian history during the Sassanid dynasty.  The Sassanid ruler Ardashir I is credited with having said to his son, “Know that kingship and religion are twin brothers; there is no strength for one of them except through its companion because religion is the foundation of kingship, and kingship is the protector of religion.”

Without the moral oversight of religious scholars, the democratic system, as has been observed in the US, tends to develop an irreversible instability, which favors the desires of the haves over the have nots.  The resulting concentration of wealth among an elite few leads to a political system in which only the campaigns of those politicians who will do the bidding of the rich are funded.  This tendency is reflected in a two-party system, which in truth are two factions of a single party designed to serve the interests of the upper class. This should be no surprise, particularly since the US Supreme Court has struck down laws limiting dollar amounts of campaign contributions, while permitting wealthy donors to hide from public scrutiny.

As opposed to the elections in the Islamic Republic, elections in the US result in what researchers Alexander Siegenfeld and Yaneer Bar-Yam call “negative representation,” where a change in electorate opinion in one direction results in an election outcome in the opposite direction.  This process, which dates back to around 1970, results in what is called electoral instability, where an arbitrarily small change in voter opinion can result in a huge change in electoral outcome. “What happened in 1970 is a phase transition like the boiling of water. Elections went from stable to unstable,” explained Bar-Yam, professor and president of New England Complex Systems Institute.   In short, the ever-increasing polarization of the American electorate has driven the US to become an unstable regime, and with the impeachment imbroglio and probable exoneration, the end of the American Republic may be at hand.

Unlike the racial basis for identity dominant in European nations and America, Iran has developed a national identity based on shared history and language. History and myth, of course, often intertwine, but the universal inclusivity found in Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh is quite unlike the sharp racial lines extant in America’s white-protestant dominated culture.  As to the vitality of Iran, Ali Ansari observes that Iran “enjoys universalist pretensions that are more than a match for anything the Christian or liberal West has been able to produce.”

A question of import

Why, then, is it that the Iranian paradigm of Islamic revolution has not been successfully imported to other Muslim-majority countries?  Egypt, for example has many similarities with Iran; it is a Muslim-majority country with a long history of civilizational continuity with a rich cultural heritage and has enjoyed a vibrant Islamic movement.  Egypt has had a series of secular authoritarian rulers empowered by Western nations as did Iran with the Pahlavi shah.  Egypt was the birthplace of the Muslim Brotherhood, founded by Hasan al-Banna in the late 1920s  while Iran has had various Islamic movements dating back to the Tobacco rebellion of 1890-91.

Forty-one years of endurance demonstrates that the revolutionary paradigm of the Islamic Republic is a robust sociopolitical construct worthy of emulation.  The US and its allies are fully aware of this fact and that is why the Washington regime has striven ceaselessly to contain the Islamic reawakening wherever and whenever it might arise. Therefore, any opportunity for an Islamic revolution to be successful is immediately suppressed by the US in conjunction with its partners in the Middle East.  The 8-year-long Iran-Iraq war was part of the ongoing US effort to contain the Islamic revolution to within Iran.

There is also the role of anti-Shia propaganda that has been spread by certain state actors in a vulgar attempt at containing the Islamic revolution within Iran. For example, former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak was reported to have claimed that Shia Muslims gave their primary loyalty to Iran.  On April 8, 2006 Mubarak, in an interview on Al-Arabiya television stated, “Shias are mostly always loyal to Iran and not the countries where they live.”

Conclusion

The Islamic Republic of Iran has managed to withstand the 41-year-long siege of the United States as a result of the robust, dual-state Islamic system instituted by the founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini.   The Islamic paradigm has been flexible enough to adapt to the changing regional political climate, while maintaining adequate rigidity to remain faithful to the values of the Islamic Revolution.  “The Islamic Republic of Iran has so far proved sufficiently resilient and adaptable enough to weather its internal and external challenges in the past,” writes Professor Amin Saikal of the Australian National University, “and this may well remain the case for the foreseeable future.”

Yuram Abdullah Weiler is a former engineer educated in mathematics turned writer and political critic who has written dozens of articles on Islam, social justice, economics, and politics focusing mainly on the Middle East and US policies.  His work has appeared on Tehran Times, Mehr News, Press TV, Iran Daily, IRIB, Fars News, Palestine Chronicle, Salem-News, Khabar Online, Imam Reza Network, Habilian Association, Shiite News, Countercurrents, Uruknet, Turkish Weekly, American Herald Tribune and Hezbollah. In addition, he has frequently appeared as a guest commentator on Press TV, Al Etejah, and Alalam. A dissenting voice from the “Belly of the Beast”, he currently lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico USA. Weiler wrote this article for Press TV website.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/02/07/618116/The-Islamic-Republic-of-Iran-stands-tall-despite-41-year-US-siege

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Something worse than Boko Haram may emerge, Sultan warns

February 7, 2020

Sultan of Sokoto Saad Abubakar has warned that the north may witness a bigger catastrophe that than the Boko Haram insurgency.

He pointed out the level of orphans in the region was alarming, saying it could snowball into something that “would turn out to be worse than the Boko Haram”.

The Sultan also kicked against the establishment of an outfit in the region code-named “Operation Shege-Ka-Fasa”, cautioning elites not to allow youths take over their roles.

The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNGs) unveiled the outfit last Wednesday, declaring it would tackle crimes in the region.

The outfit was launched one month after South West Governors floated Amotekun, a regional security outfit.

But speaking at a security meeting in Kaduna, Abubakar said northern elite are the problems of the region, as they have failed to provide them with good leadership.

He advised the northern elders to caution the youth, saying if the elders fail to take the lead, the youth would do whatever they like and feel is right.

“I saw it on the television, and the media gave them attention. Now, the elders allowed these youths to go forward. So, the elites are our problems, the elders are our problems.

“If the elders don’t take the lead, the youth will do whatever they like and think they are right. You have to caution these youths by giving them good leadership, “he said.

He added: “Now, they have launched their own security outfit I don’t know what they call it, Shege Ka Fasa’, meaning what?

“So, I want to call on northern elders to caution them. Don’t allow these youths to take over leadership from you.

“You have to reach out to everybody no matter how low the person is.

“So, I think we need to take the bull by the horns and not allow the youths take over responsibility. I think we need to do that and much more.”

https://thenationonlineng.net/something-worse-than-boko-haram-may-emerge-sultan-warns/

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Over 100 US Democrats reject Trump's ‘deal of the century’

08 February 2020

More than a hundred Democratic members of the US House of Representatives have expressed strong disapproval at President Donald Trump’s so-called deal of the century.

In a letter on Friday, the lawmakers blamed the team behind the plan for not consulting the Palestinians, saying it would “hurt Israelis and Palestinians alike, pushing them toward further conflict.”

They also criticized the release of the deal, just ahead of the next month's general elections in Israel, arguing that the timing suggests an effort to boost Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election bid.

"It does not have our support, and the Israeli [regime] must not take it as a license to violate international law by annexing all or portions of the West Bank," according to the letter, initiated by Representatives Andy Levin and Alan Lowenthal, who happen to be Jewish.

“In addition to the highly problematic nature of your proposal, the timing of its release suggests motives unrelated to helping solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," the letter read.

On January 28, Trump unveiled his so-called deal of the century, negotiated with Israel but without the Palestinians.

Palestinian leaders, who severed all ties with Washington in late 2017 after Trump controversially recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the "capital" of the Israeli regime, immediately rejected the plan, with President Mahmoud Abbas saying it “belongs to the dustbin of history.”

Trump’s Middle East scheme largely meets Israel’s demands in the decades-old conflict while creating a Palestinian state with limited control over its own security and borders.

It also enshrines Jerusalem al-Quds as “Israel’s undivided capital” and allows the regime to annex settlements in the occupied West Bank and the Jordan Valley.

The proposal further denies the right of return of Palestinian refugees into their homeland, among other controversial terms.

Thousands of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip took to the streets in immediate condemnation of the plan.

Muslims all across the world have also expressed solidarity with the Palestinian cause and denounced Trump's proposed plan.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, has also said Trump’s pro-occupation plan is doomed to die even before the US president’s own death, adding that Washington’s push “will definitely end in failure.”

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/02/08/618135/Over-100-US-Democrats-reject-Trump's-%E2%80%98deal-of-the-century%E2%80%99

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Daesh bride loses battle to keep British citizenship

Karim El-Bar 

07.02.2020

LONDON

Shamima Begum, a U.K. woman who joined Daesh/ISIS in 2015 as a teenager, on Friday lost the first stage of her appeal against the British Home Office's decision to strip her of her British citizenship.

Dubbed a "Daesh bride" for having left the U.K. to marry a member of the terror group, the British-born Shamima Begum lost the first stage of her court appeal against the British Home Office's decision to strip her of British citizenship.

Fifteen years old at the time of her departure from London, Begum is of Bangladeshi origin. Before the decision, she held citizenship of the U.K. but not Bangladesh.

She lived in Daesh-controlled areas for three years, marrying a Dutch foreign fighter. She is now 20 and resides in the al-Roj camp in Syria close to the Iraqi border.

Her case took place in a special, partly-secret court called the Special Immigration Appeals Commission that deals with appeals against British government decisions to strip a citizen of their citizenship for national security reasons.

Though Begum's lawyers assert that the government's decision made her stateless, which is illegal according to both international and U.K. law, the tribunal disagreed and upheld the government decision.

The government argued that as Begum is of Bangladeshi origin, she is thus eligible for Bangladeshi citizenship by descent under that country's law, and thus cannot be considered stateless.

Begum's lawyers also said the conditions in the camp she currently lives in contravene with her human rights, and that depriving her of her citizenship would abandon her there.

However, the government holds that her being in the camp was a consequence of her decision to join Daesh rather than its decision on her citizenship.

Begum's lawyers have announced that they would appeal against the decision, with the possibility of the case making its way up to the Supreme Court.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/daesh-bride-loses-battle-to-keep-british-citizenship/1727767

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Mysterious death of key Pakistani Taliban leaders in Kabul raises questions

07 Feb 2020

Two Pakistani Taliban leaders have recently been killed mysteriously in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) confirmed late Thursday night.

Sheikh Khalid Haqqani, the former deputy chief of TTP and member of the group’s central committee, along with another commander Qari Saif Peshawari were killed during a fight with forces in Afghanistan on Jan. 31, Mohammad Khurasani, the outlawed militant group spokesman said in a statement.

Khurasani did not disclose details about the incident but said he was on his way for carrying out an attack when Afghan forces stopped his way and killed him.

Afghan government kept it secret and did not share information with the public in this regard.

The questions are why the TTP leaders were in Kabul, how and who killed them.

Another source from TTP said they believe the murder was done by Pakistan’s intelligence service, ISI.

The source confirmed the dead bodies were found near the luxury InterContinental Hotel, in Kabul.

https://www.khaama.com/mysterious-death-of-key-pakistani-taliban-leaders-in-kabul-raises-questions-768689/

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Pakistan

 

Tense situation prevails as Maulana Aziz occupies Lal Masjid

Kalbe Ali

February 08, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Like during the previous two governments, deposed khateeb of Lal Masjid Maulana Abdul Aziz is testing the nerves of the government by occupying the state-owned mosque and reiterating his claim to be its prayer leader.

Taking advantage of the situation when the authorities seemed to be busy with other issues, and the slackness of the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration to notify either a prayer leader or a deputy, Maulana Aziz re-entered the mosque two weeks ago.

Currently, the capital administration has laid a siege to the area outside the mosque and Maulana Aziz along with female students is holed up inside.

None of the sides seem to back off from their position and the standoff continues.

Possibly to test the reaction of the authorities, the cleric delivered a Friday sermon last week but it was ignored despite repeated warnings by one of his former comrades Hafiz Ehtesham Ahmed, who claims to be the spokesperson of Lal Masjid’s Shuhada Foundation.

“The matter was brought to the notice of police that Haroon Rasheed, who had been picked up by security personnel earlier, was also illegally occupying the official residence of naib khateeb in Lal Masjid,” said Hafiz Ehtesham.

However, the matter turned serious when around 100 female students of Jamia Hafsa, G-7, broke into the sealed building of the seminary at H-11 (Jamia Hafsa) on Thursday night. As a result, officers from the capital administration approached Lal Masjid to meet Maulana Aziz. But talks remained inconclusive as the cleric insisted that a senior authority equivalent to a federal minister should negotiate with him.

“They are all bent upon committing the same mistake again. They are not honouring the verdict of the Supreme Court and reluctant to enforce the supremacy of Sharia in the country,” Maulana Aziz told Dawn via his mobile phone from inside the mosque.

He added: “They have given us a deadline to vacate Jamia Hafsa in H-11 with the threat to launch an operation again. Food supply too has been stopped but we are determined to remain steadfast for the sake of Islam.”

As the area has been closed since Thursday night after the authorities warned the cleric to vacate Lal Masjid, citizens were allowed to enter the mosque to offer Friday prayers under strict conditions.

All the participants had to deposit their CNICs at the police barricade and return after the Friday prayers.

On the other hand, Maulana Aziz maintained his track record by delivering a fiery sermon on Friday, stopping just short of declaring the state authorities not being the true followers of Islam and even working against the interest of the country.

The mosque remains closed to all outsiders, including for evening and other prayers, but food items were allowed in only if the delivery was taken by any person coming from the mosque.

Meanwhile, a senior police officer said: “Food was delivered twice on Friday. Women could be seen on the rooftops and even they can come out and get the food but we do now allow anybody inside as they can carry weapons too.”

An official of the capital administration acknowledged that there was no khateeb or naib khateeb at Lal Masjid after Amir Siddique was transferred two months ago.

“The problem is that Maulana and his group threaten the cleric notified by the Auqaf Department,” the officer said.

He added that the demands of Maulana Aziz cannot be implemented as he wants to become the khateeb of the mosque again. He also wants Rs250 million along with a large piece of land to establish Jamia Hafsa and the possession of the adjacent old children’s library plot, he added.

“First of all, we are hopeful that he will leave the place in two or three days,” the official said, adding the authorities could use the status of Jamia Hafsa in G-7 as a bargaining chip if the maulana remained adamant on his move.

Almost all the land of Jamia Hafsa where maulana resides has been built on encroached land after covering a natural water course.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1533089/tense-situation-prevails-as-maulana-aziz-occupies-lal-masjid

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Pak fundamentalist group declares minor Hindu girl apostate

Feb 7, 2020

AMRITSAR: While declaring the minor Hindu girl Mehak a murtad (apostate), a group of fundamentalist in Pakistan have threatened to move Sharia court if the girl is returned to her parents and embraces Hinduism.

In a video uploaded on social media on Friday , a group of moulvis, identified as Maulana Nasurulla Ghunnio, Moulana Abdul Jabbar Rind and Hamad Ullah Ansar , all leaders of Jamait-e-Ullama Islam, address the Pakistan media and are heard saying that as per Sharia, the girl was murtad and was wajib-ul-qatal( liable for death) if she reconverts to Hinduism.

The group is also heard saying that they would oppose court’s decision if the girl was sent back to her parents and would move Pakistan’s supreme court and Sharia court against the decision.

They also objected to the court recording the statement of Mehak on Thursday, saying that the girl had a already given her statement on January 21 in the court.

When contacted, the All Pakistan Hindu Panchayat (APHP) general secretary Ravi Dawani refused to comment on the video of Islamists and their threat to move Sharia court.

However, APHP has expressed concern over sending minor Hindu girl Mehak back to Dar-ul-Aman, Larkana by the Jacobabad court on Friday.

Ravi said that the court had recorded the statement of Mehak on Thrusday wherein she had stated that she had not embraced Islam. The girl had also stated that she didn’t want to live with her so called husband Ali Raza.

“Today we, the Hindu community had reached the court at 9 am but after seven hours the judge held a meeting with the girl’s parents and a few Moulvis, following which he directed the girl to be sent back to Dar-ul-Aman which has disappointed us” said Ravi.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pak-fundamentalist-group-declares-minor-hindu-girl-apostate/articleshow/74013060.cms

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PM slaps ban on sugar export amid crisis

February 08, 2020

ISLAMABAD: While sugar prices have been on the rise in domestic market for the past couple of months, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday approved a summary to ban sugar export and to allow the import of 300,000 tonnes sugar through the private sector in a bid to control price hike.

PM Khan gave the go-ahead months after the country had exported 141,447 metric tonnes of sugar, according to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.

While approving the summary, the premier also decided that white sugar would be imported through private sector without taxes and duties and no financial support would be provided to the importers by federal or provincial governments.

The decision will be implemented after its approval from the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), being the competent forum, which is likely to meet on Saturday or Monday. After an ECC decision on the issue, the federal cabinet will give a formal approval in its meeting on Tuesday.

Sugar prices had started rising a couple of months ago, but as the government had put the issue on the backburner, it only added to already troubled market to the benefit of profiteers and hoarders.

A well placed official source told Dawn that the PM on Friday approved the summary before its submission to the ECC to immediately stop the export of 350,000 tonnes of the remaining export quota of sugar and to simultaneously allow import of 300,000 tonnes of sugar through the private sector.

Between July and December 2019, Pakistan had exported 141,447 metric tonnes of sugar, according to official statistics.

Average retail price of per kilogram of sugar was Rs53.75 in 2017-18, Rs61.43 in 2016-17, Rs64.03 in 2015-16 and Rs58.91 in 2014-15, respectively. One rupee increase in one-kg sugar means a net transfer of Rs5.1 billion from consumers.

The annual domestic sugar consumption ranges between 5.1m tonnes and 6m tonnes.

Background interviews with stakeholders and senior officials show a host of issues, leading to the rising trend in sugar price in domestic market, with the result that Pakistan might be importing sugar after eight years.

In last three weeks, sugar price in international market has reached $418 from $350 per tonne. This indicates that if the government exempts all duty and taxes on sugar import, sugar will cost Rs85 per kg at Karachi port while its transportation to other parts of the country will add to its price.

The government has increased sales tax on domestic sugar from eight per cent in the last budget to 17pc. While reversal in sales tax rate could lead to lowering of sugar price in domestic market, this issue was not in government’s consideration, it emerged during the background interviews with the stakeholders and officials.

Current stock

It was noted in a recent meeting of Sugar Advisory Board that 1.719m tonnes of sugar stock was available in the country. Traditionally, a strategic reserve of two months is maintained in the country with monthly requirement of 0.458 million tonnes.

While sugar stock is available for three months, the position will further improve when the crushing season will complete in March. As the prices showed upward trend despite the reports of sufficient stock, the premier took serious notice of the situation and issued directives to check hoarding and profiteering.

However, sugar millers believe that the situation was very much expected because of low rollover stock and lower production of sugar in the country. The shortfall was expected and the government functionaries, too, were aware of it, one mill owner told Dawn. He said production of sugar nearing consumption level with just 500,000 tonnes of the rollover stock set the stage for speculation and rise in the prices.

It was the government’s responsibility to immediately take a decision and slap a ban on sugar export, which was not done in a timely manner.

As the input cost of growers also increased, they also raised cane price that ranged between Rs225 and Rs270 per 40 kg, while the government fixed the price at Rs190. In this situation, the sugar price increase was not just due to the cartels, as it involved all stakeholders including middlemen.

To overcome the price hike issue, the PM held a series of meetings with the relevant officials and chief secretaries of the provinces to ensure that all administrative steps were taken to check hoarding and profiteering. The premier believed that the price hike was mainly because of hoarders and profiteers while the production and stock position showed some other story.

On his instructions, the sources said, the provincial chief secretaries were directed to take steps for controlling hoarding and profiteering in their respective areas. Despite administrative actions by the government machinery, the prices continued to show upward trend.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1533116/pm-slaps-ban-on-sugar-export-amid-crisis

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200-year-old temple in Quetta returned to Hindu community

Saleem Shahid

February 08, 2020

QUETTA: After 72 years, the authorities handed over the building of a 200-year-old temple to the Hindu community in Zhob on Friday.

The temple was used as a government school for over 30 years but now the school has been shifted to another place.

The keys to the doors of the four-room temple building were handed over to the Hindu community leaders at a ceremony held outside the temple. The Khatib of the central mosque of Zhob and a leader of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, Maulana Allah Dad Kakar, was the chief guest at the ceremony, which was attended by Deputy Commissioner Saleem Taha, elders of Hindu and other minority communities and leaders of different political parties.

Maulana Kakar handed over the keys to the temple’s doors to Saleem Jan, chairman of the local Hindu Panchayat.

Speaking on the occasion, Deputy Commissioner Taha said: “It is an important and historical day for Balochistan, particularly Zhob.” He said that Maulana Kakar had not only supported the government decision to hand over the temple building to the Hindu community but also attended the ceremony as a chief guest. “This is a great example of religious harmony.”

The deputy commissioner apologised for 70-year delay in handing over the temple to the Hindu community and said that the temple building would be restored to its original condition.

After restoration and renovation of the building, members of the Hindu community would be able to use it as a place of worship.

Saleem Jan said that the temple was 200 years old and that after creation of Pakistan majority of the Hindu community people had migrated to India from Zhob, but still a sizeable number of them lived in the city.

He said that for the last 30 years the temple building had been used as a government school. “However, it is matter of happiness that around 600 students now have a new place for their school.”

Mr Jan said that presently the local Hindu community was using a mud-building as their place of worship, which could collapse anytime.

He said that Chief Justice of the Balochistan High Court Jamal Khan Mandokhel had recently visited Zhob and on that occasion the Hindu community had requested him to return the temple building to them. Justice Khan had assured the Hindu community that the building would be handed over to them.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1533170/200-year-old-temple-in-quetta-returned-to-hindu-community

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Neo TV fined for airing fake news about PM’s pay raise

Kalbe Ali

February 08, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on Friday imposed a fine of Rs1 million on Neo TV channel for airing fake news about the enhancement of the prime minister’s salary.

During a hearing on Thursday, the channel’s management was asked to respond to the show cause notice issued to it around a week ago.

“The matter relates to airing of the news that the salary package of the prime minister has been enhanced during a talk show. However, a rebuttal was issued by the authority concerned,” a Pemra official said, adding that when the channel did not pay heed to the rebuttal, a show cause notice was issued for airing fake news.

The notice mentioned that the channel had violated the Code of Conduct 2015, and did not air the official denial.

The TV channel management claimed during the hearing that the rebuttal was aired in the same talk show, but the argument was turned down by Pemra on the grounds that it was aired after the show-cause notice was issued.

Most decisions taken by Pemra end up in litigation and majority of around 500 cases against it relate to its decisions and fines.

Meanwhile, a senior official of the regulator said that currently Pemra was only monitoring talks shows and news bulletins, but airing incorrect tickers too was a violation of the code and fell under the category of fake news.

The regulatory body cannot monitor the tickers due to lack of human resources and technical capacity.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1533166/neo-tv-fined-for-airing-fake-news-about-pms-pay-raise

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Inflation making it difficult to run kitchen, lashkar with UN-approved Rs150,000 stipend: Hafiz Saeed

FEBRUARY 1, 2020

LAHORE – Educationist, philanthropist, South Asia specialist and terrorist Hafiz Saeed has become the latest high profile and illustrious figure to complain that he isn’t able to run the kitchen and other affairs in the income that he gets.

In a conference call with his colleagues from the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Milli Muslim League and Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek, all of which totaled up to a single individual, Saeed said that the current economic situation had taken a toll on him despite the United Nations approved monthly stipend.

“The inflation has made it difficult to run the kitchen and the lashkar with the Rs150,000 that the UN has approved for me. Let’s not forget that the Rs150,000 of 2019-20 is Rs100,000 of 2016-17,” Saeed said in the one-on-one conference call with representation of all of the above mentioned four organisations.

Further revealing his sympathetic and caring side, Saeed said he worries even more about those less fortunate than him.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/02/01/inflation-making-it-difficult-to-run-kitchen-lashkar-with-un-approved-rs150000-stipend-hafiz-saeed/

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Southeast Asia

 

Malysia’s Mahathir: US plan allows Israel’s occupation

Corey Blackman 

08.02.2020

SELANGOR, Malaysia

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Saturday that U.S. President Donald Trump legalized Israeli occupation of Jerusalem with his "Deal of the Century."

"This peace plan only recognizes Israeli occupation and completely ignores the rights of oppressed Palestinians," Mahathir said in his opening address to the third Parliamentary Conference for Al-Quds in Petaling Jaya.

He said Trump’s “deal” was done without consulting Palestinians and it supported only Israeli forces.

UNICEF, said Mahathir, documented Israel's persecution of Palestinian children and Israel must be punished for its violence.

"Malaysia has always stood with the Palestinians and rejected Trump's proposal," Mahathir said.

He called on the conference to take a stand against the complete oppression of Palestinians.

"This activity should be an opportunity to overcome intimidation, violence and genocide against the Palestinian people," Mahathir said.

Around 500 members, including leaders from various parts of the world gathered in Malaysia for the conference.

Conference Chair Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh said the two-day meeting will discuss a number of Palestinian problems, including the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan recently announced by Donald Trump.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/malysia-s-mahathir-us-plan-allows-israel-s-occupation/1727887

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IGP: Stop politicising Indira Gandhi's case

February 7, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador has urged everyone to stop politicising issues related to M. Indira Gandhi's case.

He said many so-called ‘experts’ had spoken out without considering the impact on the couple’s 11-year-old daughter.

“In Malaysia, even the dead people are being politicised, without regard to religious and cultural limits. Everything is being politicised. So where is our dignity?

“We enjoy talking about this issue so we can score political point, that we can be seen as religious and NGO champions. Stop being selfish. Trust me, I sincerely want to resolve this case, so stop politicising it,” he said.

He said this when asked to comment on the development of the Indira Gandhi case at a press conference after the handing over of duties ceremony for the Narcotics Crime Investigation Department director at Bukit Aman here today.

Hamid said he disclosed the little information on whereabouts of Indira’s ex-husband Muhammad Ridhuan recently as he had the information and wanted to resolve the issue immediately.

Muhammad Ridhuan fled with their daughter Prasana Diksa in 2009 when she was only 11 months old, after he converted to Islam and no longer used his real name, K. Pathmanathan.

In 2016, the Federal Court ordered the then IGP Khalid Abu Bakar to arrest Muhammad Ridhuan and comply with the mandamus order issued by the Ipoh High Court two years earlier to retrieve Prasana.

In January 2018, the apex court also overturned the conversion of Prasana and her two older siblings to Islam.

Indira’s two older children live with her while Muhammad Ridhuan remains in hiding with Prasana.

Meanwhile, on the transfer of Johor police chief Datuk Mohd Kamarudin Md Din to Bukit Aman, Abdul Hamid said that it was difficult to answer but by looking at Mohd Kamarudin’s background, he was a cyber crime expert from the Commercial Crime Investigation Department.

“It is time for him (Mohd Kamarudin) to be transferred to Bukit Aman,” he said.

In a statement issued yesterday, the police announced that Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter-Terrorism (E8) principal assistant director Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay has been appointed as the new Johor police chief with the rank of acting Commissioner of Police effective March 6.

Full report at:

https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/02/563415/igp-stop-politicising-indira-gandhis-case

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Indonesia: Islamic State Sympathizer in Bomb Plot Sentenced to Life Imprisonment

By Niniek Karmini

February 08, 2020

An Indonesian court sentenced an Islamic State group sympathizer to life imprisonment on Wednesday after finding him guilty of plotting bomb attacks against police and Christians.

Asmar Husin, who also uses the name Abu Hamzah, was arrested last March in North Sumatra province’s Sibolga district. His indictment said the interrogation of another militant, Rinto Sugiharto, uncovered plans for several bomb attacks by a 10-member radical cell led by Husin.

It said the 10 pledged allegiance to Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and promised to carry out suicide bombings in Jakarta and Lampung, a city in southern Sumatra.

Prosecutors had sought a 15-year prison sentence for Husin. Presiding Judge Kadwanto in East Jakarta District Court said there was no reason for leniency because of the defendant’s lack of remorse and his extreme ideology that could threaten religious harmony and peace.

“He is very dangerous if left out of prison,” said Kadwanto, who uses one name.

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Husin’s wife detonated a bomb during a siege of their home, killing herself and their 2-year-old child. She is believed to have blown herself up hours after throwing a homemade bomb that injured an officer as police tried to search the house.

In separate trials, a panel of three judges at the same court sentenced the nine co-conspirators, including Rinto Sugiharto, to prison terms ranging from six to 20 years.

The defendants refused to appeal or accept the verdict, saying they only believe in Islamic law.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, has been battling militants since bombings on the resort island of Bali in 2002 killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists. Attacks aimed at foreigners have been largely replaced in recent years by smaller strikes targeting the government, mainly police and anti-terrorism forces, and local “infidels.”

Full report at:

https://thediplomat.com/2020/02/indonesia-islamic-state-sympathizer-in-bomb-plot-sentenced-to-life-imprisonment/

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Indonesian Police Gun Down Militant Suspect on Sumatra Island

2020-02-07

Indonesian police shot dead a suspected militant who hurled a homemade bomb at officers who were trying to arrest him on allegations of links with a banned group affiliated with the Islamic State in Riau province on Sumatra Island, officials said Friday.

A policeman was injured in the incident that took place on Thursday on a fishing boat in the Kampar river in Pelalawan district, according to Senior Commissioner Sunarto, provincial police spokesman.

Police identified the slain 29-year-old suspect as Wahyu (alias Ibnu Thayyi) and said he was believed to be a member of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), an Indonesian group that was designated by the U.S. State Department in January 2017 as a terrorist group.

“When asked to surrender, the suspect threw a pipe bomb at the officers, so they had no choice but to ‘paralyze’ him,” Sunarto, who uses only one name, told BenarNews.

National police spokesman Asep Adi Saputra declined to provide details of the arrest, saying police were still investigating.

Local media reported that Wahyu, who had a wife and a child, had disappeared from his village in Jambi province since last month.

“I have lived in this village for a long time but we did not know he was involved in terrorism," village head Razali was quoted by the news portal Tribunnews as saying, referring to Wahyu.

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, has been hit by a string of terrorist attacks in the past two decades, with more recent strikes being blamed on JAD, which was founded in 2015 by Aman Abdurrahman, who was sentenced to death in 2018 for his role in a series of deadly terrorist attacks.

An Indonesian court outlawed JAD in a July 2018 verdict that was seen as making it easier for law enforcement officials to arrest suspected members.

JAD was tagged as an illegal group two months after the coordinated attacks in the Indonesian city of Surabaya, where two families carried out suicide bombings on three churches and a police station. Twenty-four people were killed, including the attackers who used their children as young as 9 in the bombings.

The group has also been linked to the terror attack in January last year in the southern Philippine island of Jolo, where an Indonesian couple blew themselves up at a cathedral, killing 23 and wounding more than 100.

But last year, Indonesian police noted only eight acts of JAD-related terrorism in Muslim-majority country, a 57-percent decline from 2018, according to security analyst Zachary Abuza.

“The few attacks that did take place tended to be counterproductive, with over 280 suspected militants arrested in 2019,” he said.

The arrests included at least 74 suspects who were detained after the November 2019 suicide bombing at a police station in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province. The attack killed the bomber and injured six other people, including four officers.

Full report at:

https://www.benarnews.org/english/news/indonesian/indonesia-militants-02072020165025.html

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India

 

Indian protesters hold interfaith prayers at Shaheen Bagh

by Sumaira Rizvi

Feb 8, 2020

New Delhi, India - A Hindu priest lights up a sacred fire and chants from his scriptures, surrounded under a large tent by dozens of Muslim women, some sporting vermillion on their foreheads - a gesture of reverence usually displayed by the Hindus.

The priest was participating in an interfaith prayer ceremony held on Thursday at New Delhi's Shaheen Bagh, a Muslim-dominated neighbourhood in India's capital, where an all-women sit-in has turned into the epicentre of nationwide protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The CAA fast tracks Indian nationality for non-Muslims who are from three Muslim-majority neighbouring countries - Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan - and who came to India before 2015.

Opposition parties and critics say the CAA violates India's secular constitution by making religion a marker of citizenship, and they have challenged the law in the Supreme Court.

Faced with an ongoing National Population Register (NPR) and a proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) across India, Muslims, who form 15 percent of India's 1.3 billion population, fear the steps are aimed at marginalising them.

Since the passage of the CAA pushed by the governing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in December, millions of Indians have hit the streets in sometimes deadly protests, demanding its withdrawal.

At Shaheen Bagh, protesters led by Muslim women have blocked a major highway since December 16, a day after police stormed into two Muslim-dominated universities to break anti-CAA protests, firing tear gas and stun grenades and wounding more than a hundred students.

'It has united us all'

Since then, Shaheen Bagh has become a site of popular resistance, where people belonging to all religions join its women demonstrators, raising slogans such as "Save the constitution" and "People's unity, long live".

On Thursday, an interfaith prayer ceremony was organised at the site, where priests from India's major religions - Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism and Christianity - read from their holy books to underscore communal amity.

"I thank [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi and [Home Minister Amit] Shah for giving us Shaheen Bagh. It has united us all," said Sant Yuvraj, the 52-year-old priest who performed the Hindu rituals.

"The havan [sacred fire] is our response to whatever is happening in the country," he told Al Jazeera.

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At Shaheen Bagh

- Muslims are protesting

- Sikhs are preparing food

- Christians are reading bible

- and hindus performed a 'hawan' Yesterdy

This Love & Unity is what rattles Bhakts & their Bigot Netas the most

No wonder they all hate SHAHEEN BAGH coz they Hate United India

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Sister Daphne, 65, who led the recitation of the Bible at the ceremony, felt the communal prayers will ensure peace in the country.

"We want to follow the policy of live and let live," said Sister Daphne, who belongs to the All Saints' Church of Faridabad, one of New Delhi's satellite towns.

A Sikh choir group sang hymns from their holy book, while a Muslim priest led a prayer, with the protesters joining their hands to ask for God's blessings.

The plurality of the exercise was reflected in slogans raised, which ranged from the Hindu "Jai Shri Ram" (Hail Lord Ram) to the Muslim "Allah hu-Akbar" (Allah is the greatest), the Sikh "Jo bole, so nihaal, Sat Sri Akal" (Shout aloud in ecstasy, eternal is the Holy), and the Christian "Jai Yeeshu" (Hail Jesus).

The event also saw a breaking of sartorial stereotypes. Several Muslims, Christians and Sikhs were seen wearing the vermillion mark on their forehead. Some Hindu men came wearing skullcaps.

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while criticising the anti-CAA protesters, had said they could be identified by their clothes, an oblique reference to Muslims.

Hate campaign ahead of Delhi polls

The interfaith meet came amid a relentless attack by the BJP leaders including Modi and Shah, who critics said were trying to polarise voters ahead of the crucial Delhi assembly election, to be held on Saturday.

The BJP's poll campaign saw its leaders invoking people to "shoot" the protesters, drawing reprimand from the Indian election commission.

On February 1, an armed man fired two rounds at Shaheen Bagh as he raised Hindu slogans. While the police were taking him away, he said "only Hindus will prevail" in the country.

Against such a tense backdrop, Fatima, a 30-year-old Muslim woman who had been participating in the sit-in for more than a month, described the interfaith event as a "beautiful gesture".

"The leaders of BJP are trying to malign Shaheen Bagh in order to polarise people and gain benefit in Delhi elections. But we will not let that happen," she told Al Jazeera.

Harinder Bindu, a 43-year-old Sikh woman farmer from the western state of Punjab, covered a distance of 200 kilometres (125 miles) to join the Shaheen Bagh protest.

She said the event showed how secular the anti-citizenship law protest was.

"This meet busts allegations that Shaheen Bagh is mini-Pakistan. The people protesting here are from all religions and they all are Indians," she told Al Jazeera.

Agreeing with her, the Hindu priest Yuvraj added he had been performing the rituals for over three decades, but it never felt more gratifying than what he performed at Shaheen Bagh.

Activist John Dayal, a member of the National Integration Council of India, a body that promotes religious harmony, said such prayer meetings were a reminder that India is a plural country.

"We need to be constantly reminded that we are diverse, and yet, we have an Indian identity," Dayal told Al Jazeera.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/02/indian-protesters-hold-interfaith-prayers-shaheen-bagh-200207132713227.html

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Amritsar: Muslim group seeking support against CAA submits memorandum to Akal Takht

February 8, 2020

A group of Muslims, seeking support of the Sikh community in their protest against Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), Friday submitted a memorandum to Akal Takht secretariat on Friday.

As Akal Takht Jathedar was not in Amritsar, his staff received the memorandum from the Anti-CAA Joint Action Committee from Ahmedgarh in state’s Sangrur district.

The group also paid obeisance at the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple and offered Friday prayers outside the main entrance of the Sikh shrine.

Mohammad Zia Islam, a member of the panel, said, “We know that every Sikh in the world listens to what is said from the Akal Takht. We have come here to ask the Akal Takht Jathedar to express his views on CAA, which is a step towards the saffronisation of India and is needed to be opposed. We had a dream for the country where everyone can live with liberty and all should have equal rights. We need to get freedom from unemployment, poverty and illiteracy.”

The group also raised slogans in support of Peer Budhu Shah, and Gani Khan and Nabi Khan, Muslim followers of tenth Guru Gobind Singh.

Earlier, Akal Takht Jathedar had asked Centre to include Muslims in the ambit of the CAA.

“There were many Sikhs and Hindus, who were living as refugees in India and the CAA has provided them relief. It is a good development and a welcome step. The CAA will be of big relief for the Sikhs who were facing religious persecution. There are Afghan Sikhs who have been attacked and forced to leave their birth place. They will benefit from this Act,” the Jathedar had said.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/amritsar-muslim-group-seeking-support-against-caa-submits-memorandum-to-akal-takht-6256825/

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Never issued any statement on calling off anti-CAA protest: Darul Uloom Deoband V-C

February 7, 2020

Darul Uloom Deoband Vice-Chancellor Friday denied making any statement asking women protesters to call off their protest against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Protest against the CAA and NRC are currently being held at the Idgah ground in UP’s Deoband.

“My statement on protest has been wrongly presented. It is being clarified that Deoband has not issued any statement on calling off the protests,” V-C Mufti Abul Kasim Nomani said.

In a statement, Darul Uloom said that it is not satisfied with the government’s statement saying that no decision has been made yet regarding the implementation of NRC across the country.

“We should continue our peaceful protest until the government gives assurance on rolling back CAA and never implementing NRC. Darul Uloom Deoband has already sent a memorandum to the president of India and the CJI against the CAA,” the university said in a statement.

The clarification by Nomani comes after media reports stated that the V-C had issued an appeal to protesting women to end their protest as the government had already said that no decision has been taken yet to implement nationwide NRC.

Several protests, largely led by women, are being held in different parts of the country, including Uttar Pradesh, against the CAA.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/darul-uloom-deoband-caa-protest-statement-6256580/

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Sunnis' acceptance of five acres does not represent decision of all Muslims of India: AIMPLB

05th February 2020

LUCKNOW: The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on Wednesday said the Sunni Waqf Board, which will get five acres of land in Ayodhya for the construction of a mosque, is not the representative of the entire Muslim community and if it accepts the Centre's offer it should not be considered a decision of all Muslims of the country.

"Sunni Waqf board is not representative of entire Muslim community. If it takes land, it should not be considered decision of Muslims of the country," senior executive member of AIMPLB Maulana Yasin Usmani said.

He said AIMPLB and those associated with it have decided that they "will not take any land in Ayodhya".

On directives of the Supreme Court, the Uttar Pradesh government has decided in a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath here to allot five acres of land to the Sunni Waqf Board for construction of a mosque.

The Uttar Pradesh government on Wednesday allotted five acres of land in Ayodhya district to the Sunni Central Waqf Board as directed by the Supreme Court.

The land is in Dhannipur village in tehsil Sohawal in Ayodhya on the Lucknow highway, about 18 kilometres from the district headquarters, state government spokesperson Shrikant Sharma told reporters.

The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday morning.

"The state government had sent three alternatives for land to the Centre. This one was accepted by the Centre and state cabinet has approved its allotment. There is good transportation facility to reach here and communal amity and law and order are also good," Sharma added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in Lok Sabha the formation of a trust to construct a Ram Temple in Ayodhya as directed by the Supreme Court in its landmark verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case on November 9 last year.

Making a statement in the lower house soon after the meeting of the Union Cabinet, Modi said, "We have readied a scheme for the development of Ram Temple in Ayodhya. A trust has been formed, it is called 'Shri Ram Janambhoomi Teertha Kshetra."

Full report at:

https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2020/feb/05/sunnis-accepting-five-acres-of-land-not-decision-of-all-muslims-of-country-aimplb-2099353.html

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Dhannipur near Ayodhya already has 15 mosques, local Muslims want hospital and college too

PRASHANT SRIVASTAVA

7 February, 2020

Ayodhya: With the Uttar Pradesh government allotting 5 acres of agriculture department land in the village to build a mosque, Dhannipur has acquired a new identity.

The land was allotted in line with the Supreme Court order in the Ayodhya land dispute case that said Muslims should be given 5 acres of land in Ayodhya to construct a mosque, as it ruled on 9 November 2019 that Ram Mandir should come up at the disputed Ramjanmabhoomi site where the Babri Masjid was demolished on 6 December 1992.

The Dhannipur land is almost 22 km away from the Ram janmabhoomi site.

Located on the Lucknow-Faizabad highway, the village is part of Sohawal tehsil in Ayodhya district and is dominated by the Muslim community.

The residents of Dhannipur have welcomed the allotment of land for mosque. The villagers, however, said they would be happier if they also got a hospital, a degree college and a guesthouse.

‘5 acres are not enough’

Speaking to ThePrint, local resident Zafar Ahmad (62) said, “We are thankful to the government for choosing land from our Dhannipur village for the mosque. But 5 acres are not enough.”

He believes Dhannipur is going to be “a major religious destination”. “Muslims from all over the world will come to see the mosque, but where will they stay? We want a guesthouse here.”

Ahmad said the village also needs a hospital. “If someone gets sick here or meets with an accident, there is no facility of proper treatment. We have to go to either Faizabad city or Luckow.”

Mohammad Haneef Khan, another local resident, said the village is now getting recognition but lives would be better only if children got proper education.

“I would request the Yogi Adityanath government to build at least a degree college here. We are happy to see a mosque here but it will be better if the government also built a degree college and a hospital too.”

Demanding more development work, some residents also pointed out that there are enough mosques in the village.

“There are more than 15 mosques inside the village. There should be enough namazis too,” said Naeem, 22.

He said Muslims make “65 per cent of the inhabitants of Dhannipur”, while the rest are mostly Yadavs and Mauryas. “We agree that mosque is connected to our faith, but more development work is needed in this area,” said Naeem.

Ashok Kumar, a member of the Dhannipur village panchayat, agreed that the government should give more land for development projects.

“Allocation of 5 acres was a decision of the Supreme Court. Now, if this UP government really wants developement here, it should give more land for development work here. A guesthouse is a major need here now.”

The guesthouse, the residents said, would also cater to the people flocking to the village to attend a three-day fair it hosts every year in April.

There is a tomb of a Muslim saint in the village, and the fair is organised to mark his death anniversary.

According to the villagers, the tomb is located on a part of the 5-acre land allotted for the mosque. The rest of the land is currently used for wheat farming.

“We have a qawwali event the whole night during that mela. Hindus from nearby villages also come to attend it. We call this mela a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity,” Zafar Ahmad, who is also a member of the fair committee, told ThePrint.

Muslim litigants not happy with Dhannipur location

While Dhannipur residents have welcomed the prospect of having the mosque, the Muslim litigants in the Ayodhya dispute case are not unhappy with the site offered as it is not located “in the heart of Ayodhya”.

They complained that it would be inconvenient for the Muslims from Ayodhya to go all the way to Dhannipur, 22 km away, to offer namaz.

Speaking to the media, Haji Mehboob, a key litigant in the Ayodhya case, said, “What is the point of giving land so far away? We have said we don’t want land, and if land is allocated, it should be close to Ayodhya. I don’t accept it.”

Full report at:

https://theprint.in/india/dhannipur-near-ayodhya-already-has-15-mosques-local-muslims-want-hospital-and-college-too/361492/

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Muslim and Dalit organisations unite against CAA-NRC-NPR

FEBRUARY 07, 2020

Hyderabad: A series of events including dharnas, awareness drives and door to door campaigning will be conducted in Telangana state by various Dalit and Muslim organizations in the State from 10 February to 10 March.

The first in the series of these events is a one month door to door awareness campaign about CAA, NPR and NRC which will commence from Feb 10 and conclude on 10 March.

Addressing a Press Conference organized by Jamiatul Ulema-e-Hind in collaboration with different SC, ST and BC organisations, it was announced that peaceful protests against CAA, NPR will also be organized.

A state-level Dalit Muslim Intellectual Conference will also be held on 22nd February. On 1st March, Chalo Kakinada program will be organized where Dalit Garajana will take place. On 6 and March, a Tribal conference will be organized by Girijans.

The ‘Chalo Hyderabad’ protest will be held on 14 March where different SC, ST and Muslim organizations will participate. During this program, special arrangements will be made to conduct the program without disturbing.

“All these programs will be held after proper consultation with the police commissioner so as to ensure peace conduct and without disturbing the traffic scenario in the city”, they said.

Mr Bellaih Nayak, President Lambada Rights Committee, Adanki Dayakar, National President Mala Mahaynadu, NRPS State president Mr. P Surender Madiga, Mr. K Venkatesh, Mr V. Prabhakar, Mr. Vijaykumar, Ex MKC Ramulu Nayak, Narsing Rao, Rukmini Nayak, I. Yadgiri and Mr Khaleeq Ahmed Saber (General Secretary, Jamiatul Ulema Hind – AP and TS) addressed the Press Conference.

Speaking on the occasion, they said “more than Muslims, backward classes including the tribal community and Dalits are at loss with the implementation of NRC, as the majority of the population from these communities is illiterate and has no proper documentation to prove their citizenship.”

Full report at:

https://www.siasat.com/muslim-and-dalit-organisations-unite-against-caa-nrc-npr-1818837/

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CAA passed as 'reaction to fiasco in Assam': Chidambaram

Feb 8, 2020

PUNE (MAHARASHTRA): Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Friday said that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act was passed as a "reaction to the fiasco in Assam".

Addressing an event here, Chidambaram said, "The Citizenship (Amendment) Act was passed as a reaction to the fiasco in Assam. Because after spending Rs 1,400 crore during an exercise in Assam not once but twice. The first exercise found over 40 lakh people in a population of 3.5 crore stateless. The revised exercise found 19 lakh people as stateless. People of Assam rejected both the exercises."

He added, "When the people of Assam rejected both the exercises, the Modi government woke up and said we have to do something and the result was Citizenship (Amendment), Bill."

While delivering a lecture on CAA-NRC-NPR and the Union Budget, the former union minister said, "Modi off course twist facts, he says Congress party has opposed giving citizenship to persecuted refugees in India. Here I say it, the Congress Working Committee has said that we are not against who has been included in the Act. We have a problem with who have been excluded in the Act."

"Under our Constitution, you cannot distinguish on the basis of religion," he added.

Chidambaram said that Congress is opposing the Act on the ground of "constitutional morality and constitutional legality".

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/caa-passed-as-reaction-to-fiasco-in-assam-chidambaram/articleshow/74021479.cms

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PSA on Omar means ‘restrictions’ on entire mainstream political ideology in J&K: NC

Feb 7, 2020

JAMMU: Expressing deep anguish and concern over slapping of Public Safety Act (PSA) on erstwhile J&K state former chief minister Omar Abdullah, National Conference on Friday described it as PSA on the entire mainstream political ideology of J&K.

The J&K Union Territory administration had on Thursday slapped PSA on Omar and ex-CM Mehbooba Mufti of People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The stringent Act had already been invoked against Omar’s father Farooq Abdullah — a five-time ex-CM and former Union minister — nearly six months ago.

In a joint statement issued from Sher-e-Kashmir Bhavan here after a meeting, senior NC leaders said the stringent Act against the senior party leadership was shocking, especially in view of their huge contribution to ensuring peace and harmony in J&K.

They recalled the fervent appeal made by Omar minutes before his detention on August 4 last year, urging people to maintain peace and calm at all costs. “How could leaders with such vision and statesmanship be threat to peace? Especially those who have remained at the forefront to promote harmony and brotherhood,” NC leaders asked while terming the latest move as imposition of PSA on the entire mainstream political ideology of J&K.

Referring to the slapping of PSA on Farooq, initially for three months, which was later extended by another three months, the NC statement said his continued detention was sad and unfortunate, especially in view of his immense contribution towards nation-building and sustaining peace, harmony, democracy, progress and development in J&K during most testing times.

This is to undermine his (Farooq’s) huge contribution to nation-building by belittling his internationally acclaimed political stature. NC leaders recalled that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had once described Farooq as a towering patriot. They also said Vajpayee had immense affection for Omar.

“The harsh move made last (Thursday) evening is the biggest setback to democratic polity, apart from downplaying the contribution of towering leaders, who stood tall in most turbulent situations (sic),” the NC statement said.

They also referred to the cherished political philosophy of NC and said it led J&K to reject the two-nation theory of Mohammed Ali Jinnah and tie its destiny with a secular and democratic India.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/psa-on-omar-means-restrictions-on-entire-mainstream-political-ideology-in-jk-nc/articleshow/74015231.cms

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India offered to evacuate students of all neighbours, says Jaishankar on Pak students in Wuhan

Feb 08, 2020

When India sent its aircraft to evacuate Indian students from China’s Wuhan after the novel coronavirus outbreak, the government had made an offer to bring back people from neighbouring countries including Pakistan, foreign minister S Jaishankar told Parliament on Friday.

India had earlier this month brought back over 600 Indian nationals from Wuhan, a sharp contrast to Islamabad which had declined to evacuate its students to express solidarity with China. Beijing had later lauded Pakistan for its stand, describing Islamabad as its “iron ally”.

Jai Shankar’s statement on the evacuation efforts came after Health Minister Harsh Vardhan gave Parliament a status report on the coronavirus cases in the country and the steps taken by the government to limit the spread of the infection.

In the questions that followed, some wanted the government to spell out its stand on evacuation of nationals from other countries. BJP Rajya Sabha from Bengal Rupa Ganguly asked the government if the government would consider making efforts for the evacuation of Pakistani students or make some arrangements.

Jaishankar told the Rajya Sabha that an estimated 80 Indian students were still put in Wuhan. Seventy of them had volunteered to stay back but there were 10 other students who were running fever and were disallowed by Chinese officials.

Jaishankar said the embassy was in touch with them to track their welfare. He also made a special mention of two embassy officials who had travelled from Beijing to Wuhan at great personal risk to help with the evacuation process.

“And, finally, the question regarding Pakistan. At the time when our two flights were going, we had told all the students and the larger community in Wuhan that we were prepared not only to bring back our own people but also bring back all the people of our neighbouring countries who would like to come back,” Jaishankar said.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/india-extended-offer-of-evacuating-people-from-wuhan-to-all-its-neighbours-jaishankar-in-rajya-sabha/story-eoa4XVzKN3WGQFAsAEJP2H.html

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Arab World

 

Saudi regime’s existence dependent on external forces: Opposition leader

07 February 2020

The leader of an opposition political party in Saudi Arabia says the ruling Riyadh regime heavily relies on Western support in order to survive, and that the House of Saud has no popular sovereignty as it has not been created and isn’t sustained by the consent of its people.

“There is no legitimacy for the Saudi regime, because it is a system whose existence depends on external forces and that its strength and sovereignty does not arise from the political environment inside the country,” Secretary General of the Umma Islamic Party Abdullah al-Salim told Arabic-language al-Khaleej Online news website on Thursday.

Salim added, “The Saudi regime has counted on Western support in several stages of its history, ever since it was founded (in 1932) by Britain, and later on US administrations following the discovery of oil.”

The opposition leader further noted the House of Saud “should be removed by all peaceful means available within the framework adopted by the party” he heads.

Salim said the Saudi regime has been committing mistakes against the people since its establishment, arguing that the use of French mercenaries during an uprising against the rule of Al Saud in the Great Mosque of Mecca, commonly known as the al-Masjid al-Haram, in 1979 attests the failure of the regime at all local, regional and international levels.

Saudi Arabia has stepped up politically-motivated arrests, prosecution and conviction of peaceful dissident writers and human rights campaigners, in particular in oil-rich and predominantly Shia Eastern Province.

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

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

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

In January 2016, Saudi authorities executed Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, who was an outspoken critic of the Riyadh regime. Nimr had been arrested in Qatif, Eastern Province, in 2012.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/02/07/618118/Saudi-regime%E2%80%99s-existence-dependent-on-external-forces:-Opposition-leader

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Ayatollah Sistani urges Iraqi forces to protect peaceful demonstrators, identify attackers

07 February 2020

Iraq's prominent Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has called on security forces to protect peaceful demonstrators in protest squares across the country, and reveal the identities of aggressors and infiltrators.

In a statement read out by his representative Ahmed al-Safi during a weekly sermon in the holy city of Karbala on Friday, Ayatollah Sistani condemned the death of protesters killed in clashes with rival groups this week as “painful and unfortunate,” and said state security forces are “indispensable” to keeping the country from “falling into the abyss of chaos.”

“There is no justification for them to stop fulfilling their duties in this regard, or for anyone to stop them from doing so,” he said.

“They must bear responsibility for maintaining security and stability, protecting peaceful protesters and their gathering places, revealing the identities of aggressors and infiltrators, and protecting the interests of citizens from the attacks of saboteurs,” the revered cleric pointed out.

Ayatollah Sistani went on to call on Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi to pick a government representative of the Iraqi people and fully trusted by them.

“The new government that replaces the outgoing one should be worthy of people's confidence and is capable of alleviating situations and restoring the state prestige and to carry out necessary steps to hold early elections,” Iraq's top Shia cleric highlighted.

On Sunday, Iraq’s Shia cleric Muqtada Sadr called for the return to normal life, and urged his supporters to ensure the reopening of schools, roads and government offices that had been shut by months of demonstrations.

“I advise the security forces to stop anyone from cutting off roads and the ministry of education should punish those who obstruct regular working hours, be they students, teachers or others,” Sadr wrote in a message published on his Twitter page.

Since early October, Iraq has been roiled by mass protests over poor living conditions and corruption, which forced ex-premier Adel Abdul-Mahdi to resign.

The demonstrations have often turned violent and over 600 people, including police forces, have been killed and 17,000 injured, according to an Iraqi human rights group.

Iraq’s President Barham Salih last week tasked Allawi with forming a government within a month – a decision rejected by some protesters.

The appointment of Allawi as prime minister-designate was expected to end the protest rallies, but the demonstrations have continued across Iraq against the new premier.

The holy city of Najaf, in particular, has in recent days been a scene of violent clashes, which some Iraqi politicians blame on the US and Saudi Arabia.

Fatah Alliance lawmaker Abdul Amir Taiban says the Najaf violence is an American-Saudi plot to distract the Iraqi people's attention from the expulsion of US troops from the Arab country, which has been demanded by the Iraqi Parliament.

"Foreign parties are directing the events in central and southern Iraqi provinces behind the scenes," he added.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/02/07/618095/Ayat.-Sistani-urges-Iraqi-forces-to-protect-peaceful-demonstrators,-identify-attackers

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Planet Omar: Why it's about time young Muslims saw themselves in children's literature

7 February, 2020

Take your kids into a local library and the chances of you finding a book with a Muslim protagonist are slim to none. However, author Zanib Mian is set to change that with her latest book – Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet.

The New Arab caught up with Zanib to find out more about her book and how she broke through publishing boundaries to become a full time author.

Zanib's path to publishing is anything but conventional. Despite her passion for writing she followed a love of science to become a teacher.

"I fell in love with writing when I was a little girl," she explains. "I would fill notebooks with my poems, heavily inspired by Dr Seuss. But at secondary school, I found a new love – science."

It was only after having children of her own that Zanib got the idea to write books about Muslim characters.

"I realised that things hadn't changed since when I was at primary school. Diverse characters were still missing from children's books," she says.

Determined to create something her children and other Muslim readers could relate to, Zanib decided to write her own stories.

She began by self-publishing, but knew that in order to make a real difference she'd have to take the plunge and go all in.

"I made a career change and focused on writing and publishing books featuring diverse characters full time."

However, with publishing notoriously difficult to get into, especially for Muslim and BAME authors, Zanib's success didn't come easily.

"My path into publishing was a bit unconventional," she explains. "I published The Muslims, which is now Planet Omar, under my own independent publishing house. It won the Little Rebels award in 2018, which is when it truly gained the spotlight and got the larger publishers interested.

"I'd say I broke through when I finally started being me. When I realised that we don't all have to be the same to get along. We can be who we are, unapologetically, and also love and accept who other people are."

Told through the eyes of an eight-year-old Omar, the story revolves around a quirky Muslim family living in London. It begins when they move to a new house and school, causing Omar to become a target for the class bully, due to his 'differences'.

The idea for Planet Omar was heavily inspired by Zanib's son, who was nine-years-old at the time.

"He has a clear Muslim identity as well as a clear British identity," says Zanib. "He's funny, cheeky, kind and can be quite a trouble magnet!"

The story doesn't shy away from hard hitting issues that are affecting the youth right now such as bullying and racism, and approaches it in a thoughtful, clever way.

"With Trump's campaign for presidency and Brexit in the UK, there was a lot of prejudice afloat that even children in the playground were not sheltered from," says Zanib.

"The impetus for writing the book came from wanting to give the world a regular Muslim family, which much like any other family, is full of quirks, silliness, sibling rivalry and mischief. I wanted the book to correct some of the negative stereotypes of Muslims."

Speaking about the themes in the book Zanib adds: "Bullying is something that, unfortunately, a lot of children will relate to. I hope they seek comfort in seeing Omar struggle through the same thing, and how he handled it. They will also be prompted to think about what makes people nasty towards others in the first place.

"I hope that Muslim children are empowered by finally seeing themselves as the hero in a book and that readers of other faiths can learn something about Muslim families too.

"There is some insight into our Islamic practices, woven into the pages. Perhaps it may answer questions that people have but were too afraid to ask."

Full report at:

https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/society/2020/2/7/planet-omar-pushing-for-muslim-characters-in-childrens-literature

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Nearly 550 Iraqis killed in anti-government demonstrations: Commission

7 February 2020

Nearly 550 Iraqis have been killed in protest-related violence since unprecedented anti-government demonstrations erupted in the capital and southern cities in October, the Iraqi Human Rights Commission said on Friday.

Iraq’s health ministry confirmed the first protester shot dead on October 1 but clammed up thereafter. The Commission has since repeatedly complained that authorities declined its requests for information on deaths, injuries, and arrests.

The Commission, which is government-funded but operates independently, became the only source for death tolls until it too faced pressure last year to stop reporting.

It has resumed its public reporting and on Friday shared its latest statistics with AFP, showing that 543 people have been killed since October, including 276 in Baghdad alone.

Seventeen members of the security forces are among the dead nationwide, according to the updated list. The remaining are all protesters or activists, including 22 who were assassinated.

Up to 30,000 more have been wounded during the rallies, according to medical sources.

Iraq’s security forces have used live ammunition, tear gas, smoke bombs, and even machine gun fire to try to disperse rallies in the capital and Shiite-majority south.

The Commission found that many of the wounded or killed were shot by live rounds, but Iraq’s government has repeatedly denied its security forces are shooting at the protesters.

Others have died when military-grade tear gas canisters have pierced their skulls or chests, after security forces improperly fired such equipment.

The Commission did not lay blame on any particular side but protesters themselves have singled out armed factions and the military wings of political parties, alongside the security forces.

The United Nations, for its part, has accused unnamed “militias” for a vast campaign of assassinations, kidnappings, and threats.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/02/07/Nearly-550-Iraqis-killed-in-anti-government-demonstrations-Commission.html

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Chemical arms watchdog says Syria probe leakers ‘not whistleblowers’

7 February 2020

The world’s chemical watchdog on Thursday slammed two former inspectors who leaked confidential papers questioning the body’s findings into a 2018 chlorine attack in the Syrian town of Douma, saying they “are not whistleblowers”.

“Inspectors A and B are not whistleblowers. They are individuals who could not accept that their views are not backed by evidence,” the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) head Fernando Arias said.

Arias announced an internal probe in late May 2019 to look into the leak of an internal paper that queried the body’s findings into the Douma attack in April 2018, in which around 40 people died.

In November last year Arias again defended the report after a second leak in which WikiLeaks published an email from a member of the team that probed the incident.

That email accused the Hague-based OPCW of altering the original findings of investigators to make the evidence of a chemical seem more conclusive.

Arias, in a scathing conclusion slapped down the two former inspectors’ actions saying “when their views could not gain traction, they took matters into their own hands and breached the obligations to the Organization.”

“Their behavior is even more egregious as they had manifestly incomplete information about the Douma investigation,” he said.

Released in March last year, the final OPCW report said there were “reasonable grounds” to believe toxic chemicals containing “reactive chlorine” had been used in the attack.

It said two cylinders likely containing the chemical had smashed into a housing block in Douma, which was held by rebels at the time.

“I stand by the conclusions of the Douma report,” Arias said, who earlier Thursday briefed the OPCW member states on the matter.

Western powers led by the United States blamed the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, unleashing air strikes on regime military installations in response.

Both Syria and Russia however rejected the OPCW report and seized on the leaks to back their insistence that the Douma attack was staged as a pretext for Western military action.

The first leaked “engineering report” by an OPCW member named Ian Henderson said there was a “higher probability that both cylinders were manually placed... rather than being delivered from aircraft.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/02/07/Chemical-arms-watchdog-says-Syria-probe-leakers-not-whistleblowers-.html

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Syria’s Rojava hand over 35 ISIS-linked orphans to Russia

7 February 2020

Syria’s Rojava Thursday handed over 35 Russian orphans linked to ISIS to their home country in the latest such repatriation of parentless children, an AFP correspondent said.

The boys and girls were handed over to a Russian delegation in the town of Qamishli, he said.

Abdelkarim Omar, a senior foreign affairs official with the Kurdish authorities, said the Russian children were approved for transfer after their identities were verified via DNA testing.

A Kurdish official said they were aged from four to 16 years old.

ISIS fighters overran large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, running a brutal proto-state before their territorial defeat in March last year.

After years of fighting ISIS, Syria’s Kurds hold thousands of foreigners linked to ISIS in their custody.

These include thousands of foreign women and children, the majority in the overcrowded camp of al-Hol.

Anna Kuznetsova, children’s rights commissioner for the Russian president, said handovers of Russian children were completed from Iraq.

“We are glad to be continuing this work on the issue of repatriating children that are today in camps,” she said.

In March last year, the Kurds handed over three Russian orphans aged five to seven from the Country’s Muslim-majority North Caucasus region.

A month earlier, 27 children aged four to 13 were flown from Iraq to the Moscow region. That followed the repatriation from Iraq of 30 children in late December 2018.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in late 2017 called the drive to return the children “a very honorable and correct deed” and promised to help.

Syria’s Kurds have repeatedly called for the repatriation of foreign ISIS suspects and their relatives.

But the home countries of suspected ISIS members are reluctant to take them back, due to potential security risks and the likely public backlash.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/02/07/Syria-s-Rojava-hand-over-35-ISIS-linked-orphans-to-Russia.html

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Iraqi top Shia cleric Sistani condemns anti-protests violence

7 February 2020

Iraq’s top Shia Muslim cleric on Friday condemned deadly violence that killed protesters at sit-ins this week in the southern holy city of Najaf and said a new government must have the trust and support of the people.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani also called on security forces to protect anti-government demonstrators from any further attacks. His remarks were delivered by a representative during the Friday sermon in the holy city of Kerbala.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/02/07/Iraqi-top-Shia-cleric-Sistani-condemns-anti-protests-violence.html

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Exclusive: Govt. forces seize key region from al-Qaeda-linked militants in northern Syria

07 February 2020

Syrian government forces, backed by allied militants from popular defense groups, have managed to establish full control over a strategic region in the southern countryside of the country’s northern province of Aleppo from the al-Qaeda-linked militants.

Local sources, requesting anonymity, told Press TV that Syrian troops and their allies captured al-Humayra on Friday after “intense battles” with the foreign-sponsored extremists, adding that the army inflicted heavy losses on the Takfiri elements in terms of their personnel and equipment.

Humayra had been under the control of Takfiri terrorists since 2016.

Syrian army units also liberated the villages Zitan and Barnah following fierce clashes with members of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly known as Nusra Front) terrorist group.

Moreover, Syrian government forces and their allies pressed ahead with their counter-terrorism operations against militant positions elsewhere in Aleppo province, and dealt heavy blows to them.

Later in the day, they could retake al-Eis town in southern Aleppo, and targeted militants and their fortifications on the outskirts of Aleppo-Hama international highway.

Separately, Syrian army units foiled an attacked by Jabhat Fatah al-Sham terrorist on the road linking newly-liberated village of Zitan to Khalsa village in southwestern Aleppo.

Government soldiers also launched barrages of rockets and artillery rounds at militant positions in al-Rashideen 4 district as well as the towns of Kafr Naya and Khan al-Asal.

Syria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates wrote to the United Nations on January 25, stressing that the operation in Idlib and Aleppo against Takfiri elements "will not stop until the elimination of those terrorists, who threaten safety and security of Syrian civilians."

The Syrian army declared the start of an offensive against foreign-sponsored militants in Idlib on August 5 last year.

It came after those positioned in the de-escalation zone failed to honor a ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey and continued to target civilian neighborhoods.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/02/07/618113/Govt.-forces-seize-key-region-from-al-Qaeda-linked-militants-in-northern-Syria

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Mideast

 

Erdogan’s government ‘practices totalitarianism’ under security cover: MP

7 February 2020

A Turkish opposition parliamentarian accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government of “practicing totalitarianism” under a security cover, after the ruling party attempted to pass a resolution that would permit arming security guards at night.

Sezai Temelli, member of the Turkish parliament and chairman of the opposition People’s Democratic Party, said that “the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been practising totalitarianism for a long time, and the number of police force officers in Turkey has broken a global record.”

Recruiting armed militias in government jobs

In an interview with Al Arabiya, the member of parliament said the ruling party’s policies “creates political, economic, and societal crises in the country.”

Instead of solving these issues with democracy, justice, and human rights, Temelli says, the current government “works to recruit armed militias in government jobs under the cover of guarding and protecting” the sectors involved.

The new law, which hasn’t been passed by parliament yet, “clearly aims to put new pressures on the Turkish society and oppress voices opposing the government by force,” he added.

Militarizing society

Temelli views providing night guards with police power – something that the law aims to achieve – as a “militarizing of society,” which according to him will “oppress freedoms and violate human rights.”

“Turkey needs more freedom and democracy, not more police force and guards,” he said.

The People’s Democratic Party, the Republican People’s Party, and the Good Party oppose the law, while the AKP and its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party, defend it, according to Temelli.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/02/07/Erdogan-s-government-practices-totalitarianism-under-security-cover-MP.html

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Iran to disclose information about missile attack on US base in Iraq: ISNA

7 February 2020

Iran will soon disclose new information about the missile attack on it carried out against a US base in Iraq last month, the ISNA news agency on Friday reported Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Guards’ aerospace division, as saying.

Tensions have spiked between Iran and the United States after top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad on January 3, prompting the Islamic Republic to retaliate with a missile attack against the Ain al-Assad base in Iraq days later.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/02/07/Iran-to-disclose-information-about-missile-attack-on-US-base-in-Iraq-Commander.html

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New ‘mercy flight’ from Houthi-held Yemen capital delayed: WHO

8 February 2020

The evacuation of 24 critically ill Yemenis from the Houthi-held capital was delayed Friday, the World Health Organization said, citing technical reasons.

“It is unfortunate that the flight did not take off today as planned,” a WHO spokesperson told AFP. “We are making every effort and working very hard to ensure the flight does take off as soon as possible.”

The spokesperson said the evacuation would “most likely happen in the coming day or days.”

“We urge everyone engaged in this effort to allow this medical air bridge operation to happen,” the WHO spokesperson said.

No further details on the reasons for the delay were provided.

A first “mercy flight” evacuated seven children from Sanaa on Monday for medical treatment in the Jordanian capital Amman.

The United Nations is eager to build the necessary confidence between the warring parties to enable more such evacuations.

A WHO source confirmed earlier on Friday that a plane carrying 24 patients and their companions was scheduled to leave later in the day from Sanaa to Amman.

The Arab Coalition supporting the UN-recognized government of Yemen has kept Sanaa airport closed to commercial flights since 2016.

But in November, the coalition announced that it was prepared to allow medical evacuations from the airport as a confidence-building measure to support UN peace efforts.

“This is the first of what we hope will be a number of flights in the medical air bridge,” UN Resident Coordinator for Yemen Lise Grande told AFP after Monday’s flight.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2020/02/08/New-mercy-flight-from-Houthi-held-Yemen-capital-delayed-WHO-.html

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Iran to respond in kind to any US provocation in Persian Gulf: Judiciary chief

07 February 2020

The Iranian judiciary chief has said that the country’s armed forces will respond in kind to any US provocation in the Persian Gulf.

Speaking during a joint armed forces ceremony at an Iranian airbase in the southwestern Bushehr province on Friday, Ebrahim Raeisi said the Persian Gulf has to remain secure for Iran "at all times".

If the Americans "seek measures in the Persian Gulf that in any way signal an attack or a threatening and destabilizing action... our powerful armed forces will force them to surrender or to find themselves at the depths of the Persian Gulf," Raeisi said. The judiciary chief added that Iran's military is regarded around the world as a self-sufficient and competent force which has proven itself in cases such as the downing of the US RQ-4A Global Hawk spy drone last June.

Raeisi added that Iran's military and advisory presence in the region has also served as a bulwark against US and European plots in the region.

"Today, not only in Iran, but people across the region feel secure due to our presence and our support against the American aggression," he added.

Earlier last year, Washington called for the formation of a so-called maritime coalition in response to a series of mysterious explosions targeting vessels in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman.

Washington, which was quick to blame Iran for the incidents without providing conclusive evidence, has since deployed thousands of additional troops and millions of dollars worth of military equipment in certain regional states.

A number of European states, such as France and Britain, have announced plans for future naval deployments in the region.

Iran, which has soundly rejected the provocative foreign deployments, has stressed that only regional cooperation can ensure security in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East.

Tensions have since further increased after Washington assassinated top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani during an official visit to Iraq in January 3.

Iran retaliated a few days later, launching a volley of ballistic missiles at the Ain al-Assad airbase and another US-occupied outpost in Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan.

The Trump administration, which had initially vowed a severe response to any Iranian retaliation, sought to play down the attack and claimed that its forces had suffered no casualties in the attack.

The Pentagon has since, however, gradually revealed figures of troops which have suffered "brain injuries" in the Iranian attack.

US 'weary' of Iranian confrontation

Earlier this week, the Associated Press reported what it described as an "uneasy quiet" for US forces following Iran's missile strikes.

The report cited US Central Command commander General Frank McKenzie saying that Washington is uncertain how future events may unfold in the Middle East and that Washington needs to accumulate "military might" in the region as it fears possible confrontation with Iran.

The report described how McKenzie has requested a "much larger than usual naval presence" in the region, shifting naval assets from other locations to the Middle east despite the US Navy's need to deploy against naval powers such as Russia and China.

According to observers, Iran's rare and direct attack against US bases last month served to showcase part of Tehran's military capability to counter US military presence in the region.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/02/07/618088/Iran-US-provocation-Persian-Gulf

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Iran sued over victims of downed Ukrainian plane by Canadian lawyers

8 February 2020

Canadian lawyers, who previously successfully sued Iran, are seeking class action status in a lawsuit on behalf of victims aboard a Ukrainian plane shot down over Tehran last month, looking for at least $1.1 billion in compensation.

The suit names Iran, its supreme leader, the Revolutionary Guards and others as defendants.

Iran admitted its missiles downed the Ukrainian airliner by mistake on January 8, killing all 176 people aboard, including 57 Canadians.

The lead plaintiff in the case is anonymous, preliminarily identified as John Doe, and described as immediate family to a victim identified as Jack Doe.

The filing says John Doe’s identity must be protected because of the risk that “his Iranian family would be put at risk of harm or death by the Iranian regime.”

The suit alleges that the downing of the plane was “an intentional and deliberate act of terrorism.”

Iranian authorities did not immediately comment on Friday, when government offices are closed.

Jonah Arnold is co-lead counsel with his father Mark Arnold, who has represented clients in several suits against Iran, including a 2017 appeal decision that led to seizure of some Iranian assets in Canada.

The 2017 ruling was in a case brought by US victims of bombings, killings and kidnappings that US courts ruled Iran was responsible for. But the plaintiffs could not claim the $1.7 billion in judgments in the United States.

It was not clear whether Iran has any assets remaining in Canada. Arnold said the case would likely unfold over years, and any judgment could be renewed and enforced in the future.

“Providing a voice for the families and seeking compensation for them in the courts is the primary objective,” Jonah Arnold said. “When we get there, and we need to look for those assets, that’s what we’ll do.”

Besides Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, others named in the lawsuit are top commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including the head of the unit responsible for shooting down the plane, Amirali Hajizadeh.

Foreign states are not typically within the jurisdiction of Canadian courts. A 2012 Canadian law limited that immunity for countries Ottawa lists as “foreign state supporters of terrorism,” currently Iran and Syria.

The suit was filed on January 24 in Toronto, but it is not clear whether it has been served on defendants in Iran.

Arnold said the Canadian government is required to ensure that happens, and that he has received confirmation that the suit is “en route.”

Global Affairs Canada did not immediately comment.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/02/08/Iran-sued-over-victims-of-downed-Ukrainian-plane-by-Canadian-lawyers.html

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Top EU diplomat briefs US leaders on Iran trip, Middle East plan

7 February 2020

Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell on Friday briefed US leaders on a trip to Iran aimed at easing tensions and discussed a US Middle East plan that he has denounced.

On his first trip to Washington since assuming his position in December, Borrell met Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and said afterward they discussed “many things.”

Asked by reporters as he exited if he spoke to Pompeo about Iran and the Middle East, Borrell replied, “Everything.”

Borrell earlier in the week visited Tehran where he met President Hassan Rouhani and voiced hope for an easing of tensions and preservation of a 2015 accord that sharply curtailed Iran’s nuclear program.

Fears of all-out war soared last month when the United States killed Iran’s most powerful general, Qassem Soleimani, in a drone strike in Iraq.

Trump in 2018 walked out of the nuclear deal negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama and instead imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran, vowing to combat the clerical regime’s regional role.

Borrell will also meet in Washington with Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner, the architect of a Middle East plan unveiled last week, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress.

Borrell has criticized Trump’s long-awaited Middle East initiative, saying the Israelis and Palestinians should directly negotiate a two-state solution based on the lines before the 1967 Six-Day War.

The US plan “departs from these internationally agreed parameters,” Borrell said in a statement earlier this week.

Borrell said the European Union was “especially concerned” by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s push to annex much of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley.

The Trump plan was widely seen as giving a green light to annexation by saying that areas of Jewish settlements would become part of Israel, while also proposing a demilitarized Palestinian state.

Borrell’s criticism came after the European Union was unable to issue a joint statement denouncing the Trump plan due to opposition from a handful of members, most vocally Hungary’s right-wing government.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/02/07/Top-EU-diplomat-briefs-US-leaders-on-Iran-trip-Middle-East-plan.html

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Turkish forces build military base in Syria’s Idlib as govt. forces advance: Report

07 February 2020

Turkish military forces have reportedly constructed a base in Syria’s embattled northwestern province of Idlib, and a Turkish army convoy consisting of dozens of military vehicles, troop carriers, tanks and soldiers has arrived at the installation.

Arabic-language Arabi 21 online newspaper, citing local sources, reported that the base has been constructed at Taftanaz Air Base, which lies 2.7 kilometers (1.7 miles) south of the northwestern Syrian town of Taftanaz. Foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants took control of the site in early 2013.

Media activist Mahmoud Talha said Turkish forces had spread throughout the airport since Wednesday evening.

He added that Turkish troops intend to block the way for Syrian government forces and their allied fighters from popular defense groups to gain control of the base.

The report comes as Turkey’s official state news agency Anadolu reported on Friday that Ankara had sent nearly 150 vehicles with commandos and ammunition to reinforce its observation posts in Syria's Idlib.

Syrian forces enter key city of Saraqib in latest advance

Meanwhile, Syrian government forces on Thursday entered Saraqib city in Idlib province in the latest push to capture the last militant stronghold.

Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that army soldiers entered Saraqib from many directions, and bomb disposal units are now combing the liberated area for hidden ordnance and explosive devices, which terrorists have arguably planted there to slow down the advance of government forces.

‘Damascus duty-bound to rescue Syrian citizens in Idlib from terrorism’

Separately, Syria's permanent representative to the United Nations, Bashar al-Jaafari, said the Damascus government is duty-bound to liberate Syrians from the clutches of terrorist groups in the country’s northwestern province of Idlib and purge the entire Syrian territory of terror.

Al-Jaafari: Syria won’t hesitate in carrying out its duty to rescue citizens in Idleb from terrorismhttps://t.co/bHLYHpTwUr

— SANAEnglishOfficial (@SANAEnOfficial) February 7, 2020

Speaking at a UN Security Council’s session on the situation in Syria on Thursday, Jaafari said some permanent members of the world body are trying to turn the council into a platform for the US-led NATO military alliance in order to stir incitement against Syria, and exert all forms of pressure on the crisis-hit Arab country.

Whilst some countries have called for an urgent Security Council meeting on Idlib, they forget all about Turkey’s occupation, aggression, and looting in Syria besides its support for terrorism, attempts to settle down foreign terrorists inside the country after displacing local residents, and imposing a demographic change similar to the Tel Aviv regime’s practice against Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories, he said.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/02/07/618106/Turkey-Syria-military-base-Idlib

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Kushner blames Palestinian president for rising violence by Israel

07 February 2020

US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner has blamed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for a spike in violence by Israel against Palestinians after Trump unveiled a new "peace plan" for the Middle East.

On January 28, Trump announced the so-called deal of the century -- a brainchild of Kushner and other key pro-Israeli figures -- but withheld the details.

Palestinian leaders, who severed all ties with Washington in late 2017 after Trump controversially recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of the Israeli regime, have rejected the controversial plan.

Kushner said Thursday that Abbas "does have a responsiblity" for the escalation of unrest and violence after the unveiling of the plan.

"He calls for days of rage in response and he said that even before he saw the plan," Kushner told reporters after briefing UN Security Council members behind closed doors in New York.

"He rejected the plan before he even saw it, Kushner continued.

Palestinian Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh, in a statement carried by Palestine’s official Wafa news agency, blamed Trump’s plan for the violence, arguing that it has “created this atmosphere of escalation and tension by trying to impose fake facts on the ground, which we have repeatedly warned against.”

Abu Rudeineh then warned against the Israeli regime’s systematic Israeli acts of aggression, emphasizing that “the Palestinian people and their leadership will stand strong against all these conspiracies, and they will foil them just as they did in the past.”

The statement came after Israeli military forces fatally shot a young Palestinian man on allegations of opening fire at a group of soldiers, who were stationed near the Parsa Junction outside the Dolev settlement, northwest of Ramallah, on Thursday afternoon.

The Israeli military said the soldier was slightly injured from the gunfire, and was taken to hospital for treatment.

Earlier, a Palestinian Authority police officer, identified as 25-year-old Staff Sergeant Tareq Badwan, succumbed to his wounds after he was shot by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

Video footage shared by Palestinians on social media apparently shows the moment Badwan was hit by Israeli fire. The officer was seemingly standing in uniform inside a police station in Jenin at the time, and did not appear to be a threat to the Israeli soldiers operating in the city.

Badwan was the second Palestinian security officer killed in Jenin overnight.

Yazan Abu Tabikh, 19, a police cadet, was also shot dead during clashes that broke out in the city during Israeli forces’ demolition of a Palestinian home in the predawn hours of Thursday morning.

On Wednesday evening, a 17-year-old Palestinian boy, identified as Mohammad Salman al-Haddad, was shot in the heart during clashes between a group of Palestinian protesters and Israeli military forces in the southern West Bank city of al-Khalil.

On January 28, Trump unveiled his so-called deal of the century, negotiated with Israel but without the Palestinians.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/02/07/618085/US-Jared-Kushner-Palestinian-President-Mahmoud-Abbas-Israel

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Israel uses civilian flight as shield to raid Damascus after Syrian troops liberate Saraqib

07 February 2020

An Israeli airstrike, carried out as Syria troops were liberating the terrorist-held town of Saraqib in northwestern Idlib province, has endangered a civilian flight carrying 172 passengers, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said Friday the civil Airbus-320 was heading to Damascus from the Iranian capital early Thursday when it was forced to divert its route as the Syrian capital's air defenses were intercepting Israeli missiles.

The plane made an emergency landing in the Hmeymim air base in Syria's western coastal province of Latakia.

“Only due to timely actions of the Damascus airport dispatchers and the efficient operation of the automated air traffic control system, the Airbus-320 managed to… successfully land at the closest alternative airfield,” Konashenkov said.

'Israel using passenger jets as shields'

The spokesman stressed that Israel was well aware of civilian flights around Damascus and that such missions demonstrated the regime's reckless disregard for human lives.

"The Israeli general staff's use of passenger jets as a cover for its military operations or as a shield from Syrian missile system fire is becoming a typical trait of Israeli air force," he said.

Russia had previously warned that Israeli airstrikes against Damascus were endangering civilian jets.

Lebanese officials have also stated that Israeli jets illegally conducting operations against Syria from the country's airspace pose a danger to civilian aircraft in Lebanon.

In 2018, Syrian air defenses mistakenly shot down a Russian Ilyushin Il-20 reconnaissance plane after it was similarly used as a cover by Israeli warplanes, killing 15 people on board.

Syria: Saraqib fully liberated

The Israeli airstrikes took place as Syrian troops were entering the terrorist-controlled town of Saraqib, which lies at the crossroads of two key highways in the Idlib province, the last major terrorist bastion in Syria.

The town has currently been fully liberated by Syrian forces.

Damascus has highlighted that the Israeli airstrike on Thursday happened at the same time the Turkish military was deploying a military caravan in Idlib to "protect the terrorists" and halt the Syrian military advance in the province.

Damascus has slammed the operation as evidence of Tel Aviv and Ankara's coordinated support for the terrorists.

Israel is known for conducting airstrikes against Damascus during major Syrian military advancements.

The reported joint Israeli-Turkish operations in Syria come as Ankara - which has also been a major backer for terrorists in Syria - has warned that it may resort to military action if Syria does not withdraw its troops battling terrorist forces in Idlib until the end of February.

The ongoing Syrian army offensive in Idlib was launched last August after terrorists failed to honor the Sochi de-escalation zone agreement brokered between Russian and Turkey in September 2018.

Large swathes of the province have since been liberated by Syrian troops.

Tehran offers mediation, stresses political resolution

Iran's Ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht-Ravanchi said Iran, as a main party to the Astana peace process, was ready to help solve disputes between Damascus and Ankara regarding the Idlib province.

"We have to guarantee that this crisis is solved politically while at the same time prohibiting terrorists from using this as an opportunity to fortify their positions, turn Idlib into a safe refuge and target more civilians," he said.

"We have to be aware that the goal of protecting civilians doesn't get replaced with protecting terrorists," he added.

The UN envoy added that an Astana meeting, which is planned to be held in the near future in Tehran, provides a "indispensable opportunity" to resolve issues related to the Syria conflict.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/02/07/618076/Israeli-airstrike-civilian-flight-in-Syria

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Houthi attacks on civilians threaten peace efforts, says Yemeni vice president

SAEED AL-BATATI

February 08, 2020

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: Yemen’s Vice President Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmer warned that escalating missile and drone attacks by the Iran-backed Houthis on areas under government control undermined peace efforts.

At a meeting with the UN’s Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, in Riyadh on Thursday, Al-Ahmer said the internationally recognized President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and his government were serious and sincere about reaching a peace agreement that could end the war.

“The continuation of Houthi escalation threatens to torpedo all peace efforts, mainly the Stockholm Agreement,” Al-Ahmer told Griffiths, according to a statement carried on the official Saba news agency.

Houthis have stepped up their missile and drone attacks on residential areas in the central city of Marib, killing and injuring dozens of civilians.

On Wednesday, a ballistic missile fired by Houthis landed at a house in Marib’s Rawdha district, killing and injuring several people from one family.

Al-Ahmer urged the international community to pressure Houthis to stop attacking civilians, reiterating the government’s commitment to a peaceful settlement with Houthis.

The UN envoy said on social media that he discussed the escalation in fighting in Yemen with the vice president, saying that Al-Ahmer backed his efforts to defuse tensions.

Yemen’s government strongly condemned Houthi missile attacks on Marib and other areas, saying the militias were not serious about peace and were acting as pawns for the Iranian regime, stressing that only military operations would bring the Houthis to their knees.

The government fears that Houthi attacks on Marib might force tens of thousands of internally displaced people who have been living in the city since the beginning of the war into fleeing to safer places in the south.

The deadliest Houthi attack on Marib occurred last month when a drone and missile attack killed more than 110 at a military base mosque. Thousands of people have taken refuge in Marib after escaping fighting and shelling in their camps and homes in Marib and Sanaa provinces.

On the battlefields, fighting has raged between government forces and Houthis in Sanaa, Jawf and Marib. Yemen’s army spokesman, Abdu Abdullah Majili, said on Thursday that government troops had engaged in heavy fighting with Houthis in Sanaa’s Nehim, Serwah in Marib, Dhalae, Baydha and Jawf.

Majili told the Ministry of Defense news site that loyalist forces had pushed Houthis from a mountain in Nehim after killing and injuring a number of rebels.

In the northern province of Jawf, army troops repelled attacks by Houthis in Metoun district. Warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition targeted Houthi military gatherings and reinforcements in Jawf and Serwah, Majili said.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1624556/middle-east

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Protests against US and Israel escalate in Palestine, Jordan

February 08, 2020

JERUSALEM: Despite the inclement weather in Jerusalem, for the second week in a row tens of thousands of Palestinians came out for pre-dawn prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, on Friday and remained at the site until noon prayers.

Arab Israeli citizens said police turned their buses away to prevent them from reaching Jerusalem’s holy places.

Palestinians have been protesting the Israeli security forces’ heavy-handed tactics in putting down Palestinian protests against the US/Israeli peace plan that was announced at the White House on Jan. 28. Four Palestinians, including one policeman, have been killed since Wednesday — three in the northern West Bank city of Jenin and one in Jerusalem.

Talal Abu Afifeh, head of the Jerusalem Intellectual Forum from the Shufat refugee camp in Jerusalem, told Arab News: “People came out to pray at the mosque and to declare their opposition to the American/Isreali plan. There are protests throughout the occupied territories against this plan that is aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause, denying our rights and encroaching on our religious holy sites.”

Israel Police spokesman Miki Rosenfeld told Arab News that the site — which Jews refer to as the Temple Mount — was “open as normal for Friday prayers.”

While Rosenfeld said that he was not familiar with reports that buses carrying Palestinian citizens from the Galilee were turned back, he did explain: “There were heightened security measures in the old city of Jerusalem in order to prevent any incidents from occurring after the two terrorist attacks that took place in Jerusalem over the last 24 hours.”

Pro-Netanyahu daily Israel Today called on Israeli security forces to “deal with firmness yet with wisdom” against Palestinian demonstrators and to avoid collective punishment “in order to prevent another Palestinian Intifada from taking place.”

In Jordan, dozens of activists protested outside the US Embassy in Amman in opposition to the American plan — hailed by the US as the “deal of the century.”

Despite heavy rain, protesters responded to a call by the national alliance to attend a protest titled “I am angry for Palestine and I defend Jordan.” The protesters carried an effigy of US President Donald Trump and called the US a “country of terror.”

Jordan’s leading Member of Parliament Saleh Armoti said, “We oppose the negativity of the Arab League and Islamic countries who have financed this deal, and we condemn the leader of Sudan who has met with Netanyahu at this difficult period.”

Armoti added that the US Embassy in Amman has become a “den of spies” and called on the Jordanian government not to accredit the new American ambassador to Jordan.

In the industrial city of Zarqa, protesters burned American and Israeli flags and chanted, “The people want to liberate Palestine.”

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1624561/middle-east

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Yemeni army controls areas in Al-Jawf province

February 07, 2020

DUBAI: The Yemeni army regained control of areas in Al-Jawf province, northwest of the war-torn country, after clashes with the Iran-backed Houthi militia, state news agency SPA reported on Friday.

A military source said the skirmish resulted to deaths and wounds among the militia as well as the destruction of Houthi vehicles.

Conflict in Yemen erupted in 2014 when the Houthis overran the capital Sanaa, and much of the north, pushed out the internationally recognized government and ushered a civil war that has killed tens of thousands of people.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1624311/middle-east

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Africa

 

Boko Haram members should be prosecuted not freed, says group

February 7, 2020

The Network on Police Reforms in Nigeria (NOPRIN), a nongovernmental organisation that acts as a watchdog over activities of the police, has urged the Federal Government to stop setting members of Boko Haram insurgents free and do everything within its power to ensure they were prosecuted and sentenced for extra-judicial killings in Nigeria.

This was stated by the National Coordinator of NOPRIN, Emmanuel Ikule, while speaking on, ‘Extra-judicial Killings in Nigeria,’ at Watercress Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos State on Thursday.

He argued that if Maryam Sanda could be sentenced to death by hanging, there was no reason to free insurgents, who had killed hundreds, if not thousands of Nigerians.

He said: “Every week, we see 500 or more Boko Haram members being freed. Why is the government freeing them? These are people that have killed so many people. A woman, Maryam Sanda, was sentenced to death for killing her husband, yet Boko Haram are being freed and treated nicely under the guise that they have become ‘born again.’  The President, National Assembly should live up to the requirements of their office to make laws, adhere to it and protect lives and property of the people of this country. And if they cannot, they should leave the office for those who can. Since 2009 till date, at least there are over 2000 cases of extrajudicial killings yearly.”

Speaking on extra-judicial killings carried out by uniform personnel, especially the police, Ikule said that policemen should be properly trained on the rules of engagement. He also noted that recruit process into the Force should be vetted.

He disclosed: “In light of an increase in extrajudicial killings, the call for reform of SARS Unit of the Nigeria Police Force can no longer be easily disregarded. The police do not necessarily have to be disarmed, as some have suggested, to perform their functions under the Police Act. Government should ensure that law enforcement officials use force only when strictly necessary and only to the minimum extent required under the circumstances. Lethal force should not be used except when strictly unavoidable in order to protect lives.

“Death Squads, private armies, criminal gangs and paramilitary forces operating outside the chain of command, but with official support or acquiescence should be prohibited and disbanded. Members of such groups who have perpetrated extrajudicial executions should be brought to justice.”

The Chairperson of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Lagos State branch, Mrs Phil Nneji said that uniform personnel, especially policemen, should be brought to book to ensure extrajudicial killings are curtailed

She added: “FIDA is passionate about women and children. We condemn in absolute term assault on women. We say no to violence of any kind. We need to be concern about the yearnings of Nigerians. We need to walk the talk. Some weeks back, we were in the office of the Assistant-Inspector-General of Police (AIG), Lagos State. We complained about actions of overzealous policemen. If we don’t do something to ensure all these people (killers) are brought to book, we wouldn’t make headway. We recommend that our security agents should be properly trained and stop arbitrarily arrests.”

https://www.newtelegraphng.com/boko-haram-members-should-be-prosecuted-not-freed-says-group/

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Nigerian police kills 250 militants in combat operation

2020-02-07

ABUJA, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- Up to 250 militants of an extremist group were killed in a combat operation by the police in Nigeria's central northern state of Kaduna, a police spokesman said on Thursday.

High profile members of the outlawed Ansaru extremist group were among those killed when a combined team of the police forces, backed by helicopters, launched the operation on Wednesday against the group's hideout at Kuduru Forest in Kaduna, Frank Mba, the national police spokesman said in a statement made available to Xinhua in Abuja.

The operation in the Kuduru forest in the neighborhood of Birnin Gwari in Kaduna lasted for several hours, Mba said.

"The operation, which commenced in the early hours of Wednesday, was necessitated by actionable intelligence linking terror and criminal elements in the super-camp to series of terror-related violence, kidnappings, gun-running, cattle rustling and other heinous crimes across the country," Mba said.

One police helicopter, which provided aerial and intelligence cover for the ground troops was hit by the militants using "sophisticated anti-aircraft rifles", he said.

The police spokesperson said the pilot and the co-pilot successfully landed the aircraft at the air force base in Kaduna, and both officers who "sustained non-life threatening injuries" had received treatment.

Mba said the Ansaru group had been terrorizing citizens in the northern part of the country, killing and kidnapping citizens, as well as other violent crimes.

Full report at:

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-02/07/c_138761767.htm

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Somalia: Al-Shabaab Militants Launch Attack On KDF Convoy in Somalia

6 FEBRUARY 2020

Kenyan soldiers participate in a joint military exercise with US Marines (not in photo) 15 january 2004 at Manda Bay near the coastal town of Lamu. The exercices are aimed at improving the Kenyan force's "crisis response". (Photo by SIMON MAINA / POOL / AFP)

The Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab militants have launched a daring raid on Kenyan military convoy in southern Somalia on Thursday, local residents said.

The attack which began with landmine blast struck KDF convoy near Dhobley town has triggered a face-to-face gunfight between the Kenyan forces and Al-Shabaab fighters.

Full report at:

https://allafrica.com/stories/202002070423.html

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Nigerian court resumes trial of Sheikh Zakzaky

07 February 2020

Danjuma Abdullahi

At the resumed hearing of his case on Thursday, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky was granted access to his doctors following a request by his legal team who argued that the doctor in the prison where Sheikh Zakzaky is kept has admitted that he cannot handle the medical conditions of the Muslim cleric and his wife.

Sheikh Zakzaky has lost an eye and is in need of treatment for the other. This is in addition to a high level of lead and cadmium in his blood.

The head of the legal team said the health condition of both Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife deteriorated in prison. The High Court also agreed to remove the names of two other defendants from the amended charge sheet because they have remained at large. Sheikh Zakzaky’s legal team had demanded the names be dropped because it was only defending the Islamic cleric.

The top Muslim cleric and his wife were injured in a deadly military raid in 2015. They have been in prison since then despite a high court ruling granting them freedom.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/02/07/618120/Nigerian-court-resumes-trial-of-Sheikh-Zakzaky

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UN envoy reports 'progress' in Libya talks

07 February 2020

The UN's Libya envoy on Thursday reported "progress" in talks between military representatives of the country's warring parties on coming up with a lasting ceasefire that could include a UN monitoring role.

"Progress has been made on many important issues," Ghassan Salame told reporters in Geneva, adding that there were still "two or three points of divergence".

"We are still working on refining our basic draft. I hope that we can have an agreement before we leave Geneva" following this week's talks, Salame said.

Five senior officers appointed by the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and five appointed by the Libyan National Army (LNA) of strongman Khalifa Haftar are taking part in the military commission talks.

Salame said the two sides were not meeting together but engaged in "shuttle diplomacy" with separate meetings.

"If it is easier to have an agreement through shuttle diplomacy, we do not have a problem with that," he said.

"I am not here for the picture of the two sides shaking hands," he added.

Asked about monitoring, he added: "I can tell you that the joint military commission would be involved in the monitoring of the ceasefire under the auspices of the United Nations in Libya. That is acceptable to both sides."

Salame also said that a separate commission dealing with economic affairs between the two sides would meet in Cairo on Sunday and he was hopeful that a political dialogue between them could begin in Geneva on February 26.

At a summit in the German capital Berlin last month, world leaders committed to ending all foreign interference in the oil-rich country and to uphold a weapons embargo to help end the long-running civil war.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/02/07/618068/UN-envoy-reports-progress-Libya-talks

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Protesters march on US embassy in Jordan to slam Trump deal

07 February 2020

Hundreds of Jordanians have marched on the American embassy in the capital Amman, raging against Donald Trump’s pro-occupation "deal of the century," which the US president claims seeks to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Braving cold weather and rain, the demonstrators amassed outside the diplomatic compound on Friday, chanting fiery slogans and burning American and Israeli flags. The rally was partaken by some parliamentarians and members of the National Alliance to Fight the Deal of the Century.

Demonstrators also took to the streets in other provinces, including al-Zarq and Ajloun in the north, Jordanian media outlets reported.

Last Tuesday, Trump unveiled the outlines of the scheme, which features Israel’s annexation of the apartment blocks that it has propped up across the West Bank since occupying the Palestinian territory during a war in 1967.

The deal also envisions the recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital” -- although Palestinians want the occupied holy city’s eastern part as the capital of their future state.

All previous foreign-mediated agreements between Palestinians and Israelis as well as repeated United Nations’ resolutions have mandated Tel Aviv to withdraw behind the 1967 borders.

All Palestinian factions have unanimously rejected Trump’s plan.

"Shame, shame, they have sold Jerusalem (al-Quds)," the protesters shouted in Amman.

Jordanian lawmaker Saleh Al-Armouti said, “What Trump did is a violation of the international legitimacy, of the resolutions of the United Nations, of the resolutions 194 (right of return for Palestinian refugees] and 242 (withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in 1967).” “It is a violation of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination. This is an act of terrorism," he added.

Zahir Omar, founder of Party of Life, said, “Our real problem is the occupation. Once the occupation ends, all will be resolved.”

The protesters also urged protection of the al-Aqsa Mosque’s compound -- Islam’s third-holiest site, which is also significant to Christians and Jews and is located in al-Quds -- against Israeli violations, and blasted a 1994 peace treaty between Jordan and Israel

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/02/07/618129/Jordan-protest-United-States-Embassy-Trump-deal-of-century-Palestine-Israel

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Social media exposes Libyan warlord's mercenaries

07.02.2020

Foreign mercenaries fighting in Libyan renegade commander Khalifa Haftar’s ranks normally remain out of the public eye, but photos and videos they share on social media reveal their true nature.

Haftar launched a military operation in April last year in a bid to capture Libya’s capital. Since then, however, he has been unable to achieve a quick and decisive victory.

Lacking the support of Libyans, Haftar brokered agreements with various mercenaries with financial support from his regional allies.

The most prominent foreign fighters in his ranks are Chadian armed rebel groups, Sudanese “Janjaweed” militias and mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner Group.

Haftar is trying to hide his foreign mercenaries from the media, but posts on social media reveal their existence.

They include photos and videos of African mercenaries standing next to combat vehicles with pictures of Haftar.

One such video shows African militias in a vehicle bearing the logo of so-called Haftar forces. It attracted attention because it showed them speaking a language other than Arabic.

Sudanese in Libya

UN reports underscore that foreign mercenaries serve Haftar and that most of them are from Sudan and Chad.

In Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, protests were held last month against United Arab Emirates-based company Black Shield Security Services, which reportedly tricked Sudanese youngsters with the promise of working as private security guards in the UAE but instead sent them to military camps in Libya and Yemen. The company denied the claim in a written statement.

Mercenaries of Kremlin ‘Chef’

Russia’s Wagner Group is one of the most controversial groups among the mercenaries. It is believed to be owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He is also known as “Putin’s chef” because he serves the Kremlin through his catering company.

According to Bloomberg, the number of mercenaries from the Wagner Group who arrived at a forward base in Libya in the first week of September last year had risen to 1,400 while 25 Russian pilots, trainers and support crew had been deployed and Russian Sukhoi-22 warplanes were seen in Libyan skies. However, no footage of the armed group has surfaced on social media so far.

Mercenaries with field experience in Ukraine are also fighting on the frontlines in Libya, according to Euronews.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/social-media-exposes-libyan-warlords-mercenaries/1726900

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AFRICOM continues strikes targeting al-Shabab militants in Somalia

February 06, 2020

U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike against al-Shabab militants in Somalia on Tuesday — a strike that comes on the heels of several operations and airstrikes in Somalia last month that resulted in the destruction of two al-Shabab compounds.

"Armed over-watch and precision engagement capabilities will continue to create big-time challenges for al-Shabaab,” U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Miguel Castellanos, AFRICOM’s deputy director of operations, said in a news release Feb. 4.

Multiple strikes also occurred between Jan. 23 and Jan. 29, but the command said it did not disclose they had happened immediately due to operational security and force protection considerations. During those operations, two al-Shabab compounds in southern Somalia — one in Jamaame and another in Jilib — were demolished.

“We assess these compounds were used by al-Shabaab militants to organize and plan violent terrorist actions against innocent Somali citizens,” U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Gregory Hadfield, AFRICOM’s deputy director of intelligence, said in a news release Monday. AFRICOM has executed a total of 10 airstrikes targeting al-Shabab militants this year in Somalia, mirroring the number of airstrikes the command conducted at this point last year. Included in that group of 10 airstrikes was one in January 2019 that killed 52 al-Shabab militants.

As a whole, the command conducted 63 airstrikes against al-Shabab and ISIS-Somalia militants in 2019, more than the 47 conducted in 2018, and the 35 conducted in 2017.

“What we do in Somalia is part training and part neighborhood watch,” AFRICOM spokesman Air Force Col. Chris Karns told Military Times. “The valued training, information, and armed over-watch we provide helps counter threats and leads to safer and more secure communities.”

Likewise, Karns also said it prevents al-Shabab from spreading into new areas of Somalia.

“In the long run, this means not only a safer Somalia and Africa, but our actions afford extended protection for America and international communities as well,” Karns said.

The series of strikes come weeks after al-Shabab militants attacked U.S. and Kenyan forces at Manda Bay Airfield in Kenya on Jan. 5. Army Spc. Henry Mayfield Jr., 23, and U.S. Department of Defense contractors Dustin Harrison, 47, and Bruce Triplett, 64, were killed in the attack.

AFRICOM officials suspect that the militants originated in Somalia but crossed over into neighboring Kenya with the help of facilitators within Kenya. Altogether, AFRICOM estimates there are between 5,000 to 7,000 al-Shabab militants in Somalia.

“Removing even one terrorist drives the risk of that bad actor from doing further harm to others to zero,” Karns said.

Full report at:

https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2020/02/04/africom-continues-strikes-targeting-al-shabab-militants-in-somalia/

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Troops in hot chase of remnant of Boko Haram terrorists – Army

07 February 2020

The Nigerian Army says its troops of ‘Operation Lafiya Dole’ have heightened the tempo of the chase of remnants of Boko Haram/Islamic State’s West African Province (ISWAP) terrorists in the Northeast region.

The Nigerian Army Operations Media Coordinator, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, in a statement in Abuja, said that many of the terrorists were on the run.

Iliyasu disclosed that the troops had in recent times, dealt deadly blows on the terrorist elements, who laid ambush along Jakana – Mainok Road.

He added that several insurgents were neutralised while others escaped with gunshot wounds leading to the capturing of two gun trucks and different calibre of weapons.

According to him, troops of 121 Task Force Battalion deployed at Pulka in Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno, had on Jan. 27 launched a successful ambush against the terrorists mounted on motorcycles at Sabon Garin Kirawa.

He added that the encounter led to the killing of two of the insurgents and capturing of motorcycles as well as a number of weapons and ammunition.

“In the same vein, on Jan. 28, troops of 159 Task Force Battalion deployed at Gubio in conjunction with elements of the Civilian JTF neutralised two of the insurgents forcing others to retreat in disarray with gunshot wounds.

“Notwithstanding, the troops captured one AK 47 Rifle, 4 AK 47 Rifle magazines and 46 rounds of 7.62mm Special ammunition.

“Regrettably, one soldier and one member of the Civilian Joint Task Force were wounded in action.

“However, the wounded were immediately moved to a military medical facility and are currently responding positively to treatment,” he said.

Iliyasu disclosed that the troops had continued to record successes across the theatre of operation noble of which was the arrest of one Modu Gana, a high profile Boko Haram spy and logistics supplier at Bulunkutu Ngomari in Jere local government area.

He explained that preliminary investigation revealed a series of communication between the suspect and an ISWAP Commander – Bukar Fatumani requesting him to conduct surveillance on troops’ locations at Benisheik, Jakana, Auno, and Njimtilo.

According to him, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team had recently recovered and detonated an Improvised Explosive Device planted by the insurgents along Konduga- Kawuri Road, Garin Giwa – Cross Kauwa Road and Dikwa – Marte road.

The spokesperson said that a lot of successes had been recorded in the Northwestern states against bandits, armed robbers and kidnappers in the past weeks.

Full report at:

https://guardian.ng/news/troops-in-hot-chase-of-remnant-of-boko-haram-terrorists-army/

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UN Envoy Says Push Continues Toward Cease-Fire Deal in Libya

Feb. 6, 2020

CAIRO — The U.N.’s special representative for Libya said Thursday the country’s warring sides are working to turn a provisional cease-fire into a formal agreement as they emerged from four days of talks, a prospect that appears to face steep obstacles.

Ghassan Salame, head of the United Nations support mission in Libya, said rival military leaders are negotiating the remaining sticking points in a cease-fire deal.

Those include the return of internally displaced people, the disarmament of armed groups and ways to monitor a truce, which each side has accused the other of violating. He said the cease-fire would be monitored by the military representatives in Geneva with support from the U.N. Mission in Libya.

Another unresolved issue, he said, is how to deal with heavy weaponry, which powerful foreign backers continue sending to Libya, despite their pledges not to at a high-profile summit last month in Berlin.

“There are still two or three points of divergence,” Salame told reporters in Geneva.

He said delegates will reconvene Friday to discuss the latest draft. That agreement must then be sent back to their respective leaders for approval.

The latest round of fighting erupted last April when eastern-based forces under the command of Khalifa Hifter laid siege to Tripoli in a bid to wrest power from the U.N.-backed government led by Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj.

Sarraj and Hifter both sent delegations of military officials to represent them at the Geneva talks.

Yet even as the delegates conferred, the suburbs of Libya’s capital came under heavy fire, health authorities said, which killed at least four civilians in the last 24 hours.

A 15-year-old boy struck by a shell last week died from his wounds late Wednesday, pushing the toll to at least five.

“I’ve noticed more strikes this week, and the victims have been civilians” said Assad Jaafar, a spokesman for Libya’s Red Crescent based in Tripoli.

The uptick of violence comes amid intensified diplomacy among world powers seeking to end the conflict that has ravaged Libya for nine years.

The U.N. Security Council in New York met this week to discuss a draft resolution to uphold the widely flouted arms embargo. And Algeria’s foreign minister visited Hifter and tribal leaders Wednesday to present a still opaque, African Union-backed alternative to European efforts.

Libya’s fate lies in the hands of foreign powers, which have conflicting interests in the oil-rich country and are reluctant to make concessions.

Hifter’s forces, which control much of Libya’s east and south, rely on military assistance from the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France and Russia. On the other side, Turkey, Italy and Qatar prop up the embattled Tripoli-based government. In the latest twist, Turkey has deployed Syrian fighters affiliated with al-Qaida and the Islamic State to the Libyan battlefield.

Current cease-fire talks, meant to pave the way for negotiations “have yielded a violent political process instead of quiet," said Anas El Gomati, director of the Tripoli-based Sadeq Institute, offering diplomatic cover to Hifter's forces as they embark on a military offensive.

Rival Libyan leaders and their foreign backers “are using military tools to put pressure on talks, and are making civilians into bargaining chips,” he said.

Two civilians were killed and four were wounded early Thursday when they were struck by errant shells, according to Health Ministry media advisor Amin al-Hashem. Another two were killed in a similar attack by Hifter's forces the day before, he said. Artillery rounds crashed into the bustling center of Tripoli University on Wednesday, causing panic among students but no casualties.

The U.N. deputy spokesman in New York, Farhan Haq, raised alarm over recent civilian causalities in the capital. He also said ongoing fighting around the key coastal city of Sirte has forced over 2,000 people to flee.

In a separate incident, six people, including one Libyan citizen, were killed when a pick-up truck packed with smuggled migrants crashed into a fuel tanker in the southwest, the U.N. migration agency said Thursday. The war has turned Libya, which sits on Africa’s Mediterranean coast, into a major conduit for Europe-bound migrants.

Salame said an “economic track” of the diplomatic process will resume in Cairo on Sunday and seek to address a standoff over oil production in the country. For weeks, tribes loyal to Hifter have choked off virtually all of the country's oil exports, jeopardizing the already battered Libyan economy to gain political leverage.

Full report at:

https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2020/02/06/world/middleeast/ap-ml-libya-.html

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North America

 

Kushner blames Palestinian president for rising violence by Israel

07 February 2020

US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner has blamed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for a spike in violence by Israel against Palestinians after Trump unveiled a new "peace plan" for the Middle East.

On January 28, Trump announced the so-called deal of the century -- a brainchild of Kushner and other key pro-Israeli figures -- but withheld the details.

Palestinian leaders, who severed all ties with Washington in late 2017 after Trump controversially recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of the Israeli regime, have rejected the controversial plan.

Kushner said Thursday that Abbas "does have a responsiblity" for the escalation of unrest and violence after the unveiling of the plan.

"He calls for days of rage in response and he said that even before he saw the plan," Kushner told reporters after briefing UN Security Council members behind closed doors in New York.

"He rejected the plan before he even saw it, Kushner continued.

Palestinian Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh, in a statement carried by Palestine’s official Wafa news agency, blamed Trump’s plan for the violence, arguing that it has “created this atmosphere of escalation and tension by trying to impose fake facts on the ground, which we have repeatedly warned against.”

Abu Rudeineh then warned against the Israeli regime’s systematic Israeli acts of aggression, emphasizing that “the Palestinian people and their leadership will stand strong against all these conspiracies, and they will foil them just as they did in the past.”

The statement came after Israeli military forces fatally shot a young Palestinian man on allegations of opening fire at a group of soldiers, who were stationed near the Parsa Junction outside the Dolev settlement, northwest of Ramallah, on Thursday afternoon.

The Israeli military said the soldier was slightly injured from the gunfire, and was taken to hospital for treatment.

Earlier, a Palestinian Authority police officer, identified as 25-year-old Staff Sergeant Tareq Badwan, succumbed to his wounds after he was shot by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

Video footage shared by Palestinians on social media apparently shows the moment Badwan was hit by Israeli fire. The officer was seemingly standing in uniform inside a police station in Jenin at the time, and did not appear to be a threat to the Israeli soldiers operating in the city.

Badwan was the second Palestinian security officer killed in Jenin overnight.

Yazan Abu Tabikh, 19, a police cadet, was also shot dead during clashes that broke out in the city during Israeli forces’ demolition of a Palestinian home in the predawn hours of Thursday morning.

On Wednesday evening, a 17-year-old Palestinian boy, identified as Mohammad Salman al-Haddad, was shot in the heart during clashes between a group of Palestinian protesters and Israeli military forces in the southern West Bank city of al-Khalil.

On January 28, Trump unveiled his so-called deal of the century, negotiated with Israel but without the Palestinians.

Palestinian leaders say the deal is a colonial plan to unilaterally control historic Palestine in its entirety and remove Palestinians from their homeland, adding that it heavily favors Israel and would deny them a viable independent state.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/02/07/618085/US-Jared-Kushner-Palestinian-President-Mahmoud-Abbas-Israel

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Trump's scheme for Palestine, a colonial plan: Analyst

07 February 2020

US President Donald Trump's so-called deal of the century on the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict is simply “a colonial plan” to force Palestinians out of their homeland, says an analyst, adding that it is a deal for “apartheid and occupation” rather than a peace plan.

“We are not talking about a peace plan or proposal for peace or anything like that. What we are talking about is a plan for apartheid and further colonization and destruction of Palestine," Charlotte Kates, activist and commentator, told Press TV’s The Debate program Thursday night. 

"So we have two parties that are only interested in pursuing permanent war, occupation, colonization, violence and destruction –namely the US and Israel – who are essentially making an agreement with one another to continue to perpetrate apartheid, violence and colonialism against the Palestinian people,” she said.  

Kates said the plan was never meant to be any kind of a peace deal or an agreement, adding it was only meant to be a "joint plan for colonization, destruction and imperialist and Zionist hegemony over the peoples of the region".

"This is simply a colonialist plan between two occupying imperial forces in the region to strip the indigenous people of the region of their sovereignty, their rights, their freedom and, frankly, their ability to even obtain any form of economic justice,” she added.

On January 28, Trump unveiled his so-called deal of the century, negotiated with Israel but without the Palestinians.

Palestinian leaders, who severed all ties with Washington in late 2017 after Trump controversially recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the "capital" of the Israeli regime, immediately rejected the plan, with President Mahmoud Abbas saying it “belongs to the dustbin of history.”

Trump’s Middle East scheme largely meets Israel’s demands in the decades-old conflict while creating a Palestinian state with limited control over its own security and borders.

It also enshrines Jerusalem al-Quds as “Israel’s undivided capital” and allows the regime to annex settlements in the occupied West Bank and the Jordan Valley.

The proposal further denies the right of return of Palestinian refugees into their homeland, among other controversial terms.

Palestinian leaders, who severed all ties with Washington in late 2017, immediately rejected the plan, with President Mahmoud Abbas saying it “belongs to the dustbin of history.”

Thousands of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip took to the streets in immediate condemnation of the plan.

Muslims all across the world have also expressed solidarity with the Palestinian cause and denounced Trump's proposed plan.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, has also said Trump’s pro-occupation plan is doomed to die even before the US president’s own death, adding that Washington’s push “will definitely end in failure.”

Kates said Trump’s scheme fundamentally violates international law and human rights, adding that it throws aside the fundamental principles of sovereignty, self-determination and the right to live free of colonization and apartheid.

She said in order to establish peace and justice in Palestine, occupation and colonization should be eradicated and the right of  return of the Palestinian people should be implemented.

“The fact is if we want to talk about peace and if we want to talk about justice, what we need to talk about is holding those accountable who have been destroying the promise of peace for over 70 years.

“So that means bring Israeli leaders to trial before the International Criminal Court, making a plan for the implementation of Palestinian refugees right to return, ending occupation and building a society in which Zionism is dismantled …,” she said.

Fredrick Peterson, the other panelist on the program, said the plan is an offer, adding both parties must give a little to get a little in order to achieve peace, prosperity and freedom.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/02/07/618075/Palestine-Israel-Trump-Deal-of-Century-apartheid-occupation

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Our laws have a problem calling domestic terrorism what it is

02/06/20

A former Coast Guard lieutenant, Christopher Hasson, was sentenced to 160 months in prison last week for plotting a series of potential attacks on targets ranging from the media to elected officials. His sentencing follows his arrest last year on a litany of charges ranging from unlawful possession of unregistered silencers to unlawful possession of firearm silencers unidentified by serial number to possession of firearms by an unlawful user of an addict to a controlled substance, and possession of a controlled substance. Notably absent was one criminal offense. The Justice Department did not, despite clear evidence of intent, charge Hasson with terrorism. The current legal framework would not allow for it.

However, in early court filings, the government alleged that Hasson was a domestic terrorist, with a clear desire to commit acts of political violence. Despite this, his plea agreement and judgment make no mention of his list of targets, or his statements calling for a “white homeland.” Nor do they reference the government’s detention motion, which states in no uncertain terms that Hasson “intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.”

The prosecution, in its sentencing documents, presented a detailed roadmap of Hasson’s actions in furtherance of his plans to “kill almost every last person on earth.” Across 43 pages of search history are searches Hasson made for, in no particular order: homemade biological weapon, homemade C4, where George Soros lives, Jews in U.S. gov, Russian immigration law, Russian nationalism, how can white people rise against Jews, Russian right, and race war.

Hasson also conducted multiple internet searches for Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway in 2011, and frequently viewed Breivik’s manifesto. His writings and ideas draw clear inspiration from Ted Kaczynski’s manifesto and from Eric Rudolph’s “Between the Lines of Drift,” both of which were found in Hasson’s files. Hasson’s interest in Breivik seems as ideological as it was instructional: As government sentencing exhibits show, Hasson closely followed Breivik’s instructions for how to prepare for a race war; from May 2016 to August 2018, Hasson spent over $12,000 on military, survival and tactical equipment ordered from Amazon.

The 120-page Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Coast Guard Insider Threat Program report presented by the prosecution details Hasson’s desire to commit acts of domestic terrorism. The government sentencing memorandum also presents evidence that Hasson contacted a known American neo-Nazi and expressed his interest in meeting “like-minded individuals.” It highlights Hasson’s manifesto, which called for the targeting of “politian’s [sic], Judges, leftists in general” and bemoans the “conspiracy of ((((People)))) out to destroy me.”

However, defense filings in court paint a picture of a troubled but harmless individual who, as a “decorated member of the U.S. Coast Guard” is a good man with “a long and honorable history of dedicated service” who should be viewed as an “asset, not a danger, to our society.” The defense, in its sentencing memorandum, requested a sentence of time served and a three-year term of supervised release.

The sentencing of Hasson on minor firearms and drug violations demonstrates a lacuna in the way the federal government prosecutes domestic terrorists, and reinforces the need for a federal statute on domestic terrorism. As argued by former high-ranking Justice Department official Mary McCord, the Material Support to Terrorists statute — 18 U.S.C. § 2339 — criminalizes the act of “conceal[ing] or disguis[ing] the nature, location, source, or ownership of material support or resources, knowing or intending that they are to be used in preparation for or in carrying out” any of the applicable terrorism offenses in U.S. criminal code. It is not only former Obama-era officials who advocate for change; a U.S. attorney appointed by President Trump made a similar argument. This is a bipartisan, if not nonpartisan, consensus among federal prosecutors.

In the course of the investigation into Hasson, 15 firearms and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition were found at his residence. It stands to reason that, when taken together with the totality of evidence presented against him, Hasson’s case — that of an individual who was stockpiling weapons with the intention to carry out terrorism in the United States — would have squarely fit the legal description for a possible federal domestic terrorism statute.

Several bills have been introduced in the House of Representatives that propose a federal statute of domestic terrorism. However, these bills appear to lack the support of civil rights groups, which focus their criticism on alleged government abuse. These concerns partially stem from language in both bills that prohibits action that “creates a substantial risk of serious bodily injury to any other person by knowingly destroying or damaging any structure, conveyance, or other real or personal property within the United States or by attempting or conspiring to destroy or damage any structure, conveyance, or other real or personal property within the United States.”

Civil liberties advocates have a point about the broad definition. Any proposed legislation of this kind should limit any new criminal statutes to acts of violence against persons — such as homicide and assault under 18 U.S.C. § 2332b — and providing material support to terrorists under 18 U.S.C. § 2339A. There should be strong oversight by both Congress and independent watchdogs such as the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board of how the legislation is applied to help prevent civil rights abuses.

Hasson’s attorney claimed his was not a domestic terrorism case, that “Hasson was never plotting a terrorist attack or any of the abhorrent acts that this prosecution has repeatedly speculated about but never actually charged.” In legal terms, this is true. However, the overwhelming evidence presented by the government in sentencing documents describes in rich detail an individual with the desire and wherewithal to commit acts of domestic terrorism, and offers ample proof that Hasson made multiple overt acts to further his goal.

Full report at:

https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/481166-our-laws-have-a-problem-calling-domestic-terrorism-what-it-is

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Europe

 

‘We dont welcome your racist comment’ IKEA defends Muslim worker

FEBRUARY 07, 2020

Sweden: When Islamophobia, Hate crime, discrimination against Muslims is in full swing with many countries persecuting this community, Ikea Store in Switzerland is being praised for defending its Muslim employee when a racist customer harassed him.

Yes, amidst all this hate, persecution of Muslims reporting, sighting from across the globe, this Swedish furniture giant store in Aubonne defended its Muslim employee against a racist customer and here’s how the internet responded.

“Too bad to find a cashier in headscarf,” read the review. “I will not step into that store again.”

Responding to this racist attack, Ikea said: “Our company has clear values: respect for everyone, regardless of their origin, sexual orientation or religion. Before you judge a person based on their clothes, you must get to know them.

“We do not welcome your comment which is explicitly discriminatory. Of course, you have the right to have your opinions in private, but publishing them openly in this way exposes you to the eyes of the law, and we will in no way mourn the fact that you no longer ‘step into’ our store with such ideas,” the store said.

This Ikea’s stance has been widely praised online as soon as the response went viral on social media with five-star reviews pouring in for the store.

Look at the beauty of standing up against this hate crime the store received five-star reviews against just one negative review.

“Bravo for your tolerance,” wrote one person on Facebook.

“Beautiful! I salute you for your courage and tolerance as well as your open mind!” another said.

https://www.siasat.com/we-dont-welcome-your-racist-comment-ikea-defends-muslim-worker-1818943/

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British Daesh militants to be put on trial in Syria

February 07, 2020

LONDON: British Daesh militants could face trial in Syria under plans announced by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is holding thousands of prisoners in the country’s northeast. 

The SDF’s political arm, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, announced on Thursday that it would begin putting the militants on trial in Syria in March, The Independent reported.

The announcement followed a meeting between the SDF’s foreign relations committee and Finland’s Foreign Ministry.

“We explained our intention to set up a special court for Isis (Daesh) to the Finnish government and asked for help from the legal and technical aspects, and that this trial be transparent and public,” the administration said in a statement.

The SDF has been calling for foreign governments to repatriate their citizens who joined Daesh so they can face trial in their own countries.

However, the UK and other European countries have refused to bring them home, citing security risks.

“Unfortunately many states have not responded to our appeals. For example, we have handed over less than 10 percent of Isis-linked children to their countries so far,” the statement said.

“There is the urgent need for a solution to this issue in our region, and to pressure states to receive their nationals.”

More than 1,000 foreign militants have been held in detention by the SDF since the territorial defeat of Daesh last year.

Around 40 of these fighters are British — 10 men and 30 women who are being held separately along with their children.

The SDF is a Kurdish-led armed group that had been a key member of the international coalition fighting Daesh.

Meanwhile, a British woman who ran away to join Daesh as a teenager lost a legal challenge on Friday aimed at restoring her citizenship, which was revoked on national security grounds.

Shamima Begum, one of three London schoolgirls who traveled to Syria in 2015, resurfaced at a refugee camp in the country last year and told reporters she wanted to come home.

But her apparent lack of remorse has triggered criticism in Britain, and the family has expressed its own shock at her lack of repentance.

Former Home Secretary Sajid Javid revoked her citizenship, but she challenged the decision before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission.

She argued that she is not the citizen of another country, and that Javid’s decision left her stateless.

But the tribunal ruled in Javid’s favor on Friday. Judge Doron Blum said the decision did not breach the Home Office’s “extraterritorial human rights policy by exposing Ms Begum to a real risk of death or inhuman or degrading treatment.”

The tribunal ruled that she was “a citizen of Bangladesh by descent,” and therefore not rendered stateless.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1624441/middle-east

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Italy urges Syrian parties to stop hostilities in Idlib

Barıs Seckin 

07.02.2020

ROME

Italy on Friday urged conflicting parties in Syria to cease hostilities in the northwestern province of Idlib.

"The fight against terrorist organizations cannot justify indiscriminate attacks against civil targets, schools and hospitals," the Italian Foreign Ministry said in a written statement.

The statement stressed that hundreds of civilians had been killed with more than 500,000 fleeing their homes due to intensified clashes.

It also called on all the conflicting parties to allow for the arrival of humanitarian aid to people in need.

"No solution to the Syrian crisis can come from the military option," the statement said, adding that any resolution should be based on a "credible and inclusive political process."

It also urged for continued support for UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen.

Idlib has been a stronghold of opposition and anti-government armed groups since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

It is currently home to some four million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces throughout the war-weary country.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/italy-urges-syrian-parties-to-stop-hostilities-in-idlib/1727796

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UK to end automatic release of terror convicts

Karim El-Bar 

07.02.2020

LONDON

The U.K. plans to revamp its legal system to prevent terrorism convicts from receiving automatic early release from prison following a knife attack last week in London, according to local media.

Sudesh Amman, 20, stabbed two people on Sunday before being shot by police. He had previously been convicted of terror offenses and released from prison before completing his full sentence.

The emergency legislation will require convicted terrorists to undergo a risk assessment by a parole board before being released.

Controversy came however when the government also announced that the law would not only be enacted for future terror convicts but also ones that were currently imprisoned, in what some rights groups call retrospective application of legislation.

This means that current terror offenders due for automatic release would have to spend more time in prison than was decided at their trial.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told parliament: "We cannot have the situation […] where an offender -- a known risk to innocent members of the public -- is released early by automatic process of law without any oversight by the Parole Board."

"We will, therefore, introduce emergency legislation to ensure an end to terrorist offenders getting released automatically having served half of their sentence with no check or review," added Buckland.

Preempting the controversy around retrospective legislation, he said: "We face an unprecedented situation of severe gravity, and as such, it demands the government responds immediately and that this legislation will apply to serving prisoners."

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/uk-to-end-automatic-release-of-terror-convicts/1727655

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Northern Ireland militants planted Brexit bomb, investigators say

February 08, 2020

Authorities in Northern Ireland said Thursday that militants with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) planted a bomb on a truck that was intended to explode around the time the United Kingdom left the European Union (EU) on Friday.

A Belfast newspaper had received a call on the day of Brexit saying there was a bomb on a truck at the Belfast docks, according to the Police Service of Northern Ireland. The caller said the truck was headed for a ferry to Scotland.

Despite a search, nothing was found.

Another call was made to the same newspaper Monday with new information. After a daylong search, police found a bomb aboard a truck in the Northern Ireland town of Lurgan.

Police Assistant Chief Constable George Clarke said the caller told authorities "the intention had been for that device to explode on Friday evening at around the time the United Kingdom left the European Union."

The bombers apparently picked the wrong truck, because the explosives-laden vehicle remained at a haulage company's yard in Lurgan until it was discovered.

Police said they believed the bomb plot was the work of a group of pro-Irish militants known as the Continuity IRA.

"Once that device had left that yard, if it had ... it was exposing people on the public road, at a busy time, and at busy places, to huge levels of risk," Clarke said. "These people are absolutely callous and reckless in what they have done."

More than 3,700 people died during decades of violence before Northern Ireland's 1998 Good Friday peace accord. Most militants have renounced violence, but small groups of IRA dissidents continue to carry out occasional bombings and shootings.

Full report at:

https://www.foxnews.com/world/northern-ireland-militants-planted-brexit-bomb-investigators-say

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Terror offenders due to be freed 'told they will not be' - lawyer

6 February 2020

Terror offenders who were due to be released from prison in the next two months are being told they will not be let out under planned new laws.

Earlier this week, the government said that new terror legislation to end automatic early release will apply to current as well as future offenders.

Lawyer Simon Creighton said one client who was due to be freed in March had been told his release date has changed.

Mr Creighton said a number of offenders were likely to challenge the new laws.

"I'd imagine it's inevitable that it will go the Supreme Court," he said.

Mr Creighton said those affected, who are currently serving sentences, were a "wide range" of offenders including animal rights activists, "people fighting Islamic terrorism with the Kurds", and Islamist extremists.

The government had already announced plans for tougher terror laws, including an end to automatic early release half-way through their sentence. Instead, it would be up to the Parole Board to decide if people convicted of terrorism offences should be released after serving two thirds of their sentence.

But there were no proposals for the new measures to apply retrospectively, until last Sunday's attack in Streatham when convicted terror offender Sudesh Amman - who had been out of prison less than two weeks - stabbed two people.

It followed the London Bridge attack in November last year, when another convicted terror offender Usman Khan was on licence when he killed two people.

Responding to the latest attack in south London, the government announced that the new terror legislation - once passed by Parliament - would apply to offenders currently serving sentences.

Ministers are trying to get the legislation passed before the next terror offender is due to be released.

"We've been told by one of our clients that he's had a notification that his release date is going to be changed as a result of this legislation," said Mr Creighton.

He said it was "very disconcerting", saying "the principle of not changing prison sentences, not changing any criminal sentences, is deeply embedded in English law".

"It really is quite a troubling idea about the certainty of the criminal process that long after conviction you can be called back as a result of a change in legislation and told your sentence doesn't stand anymore - you can serve longer, you can do more time. It's really against all our legal traditions."

Court challenges

He added that he imagines there will be "a number of people wanting to challenge this and that the cases are likely to be consolidated as one case before the High Court initially".

He added: "I'd imagine it's inevitable that it will go the Supreme Court. It's something that is so fundamental to our principles of how we run justice and society that it has to go to the Supreme Court."

Announcing the emergency legislation earlier this week, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said it would apply to serving prisoners because the UK faces "an unprecedented situation of severe gravity".

The government's Counter-Terrorism Bill would also ensure people convicted of serious offences, such as preparing acts of terrorism or directing a terrorist organisation, spend a minimum of 14 years in prison.

There are currently at least 74 people who were jailed for terror offences and subsequently freed on licence.

Full report at:

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-51405538

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French jihadists appeal to UN to avoid death penalty

07/02/2020

Five French jihadists sentenced to death in Iraq have appealed to the UN to pressure France to bring them home, their lawyer has said, adding they were suffering inhumane treatment.

The prisoners are suffering "inhumane and degrading treatment inside Iraq's prisons," lawyer Nabil Boudi told AFP Thursday.

The French government is “perfectly informed of the situation” but has done nothing to stop it,” he alleged, emphasising that the state had a duty to offer consular protection to “all French citizens, without exception.”

The five inmates are Brahim Nejara, Bilel Kabaoui, Leonard Lopez, Fodil Tahar Aouidate and Mourad Delhomme. They were among 11 jihadists sentenced to death last year in Iraq after being charged with belonging to the Islamic State armed group.

Boudi has appealed to the United Nations Committee against Torture, which monitors the implementation by member states of the UN Convention against Torture, to "take provisional protective measures (...) to avoid the complainants suffering irreparable harm."

He has also called on the UN to condemn France for refusing to repatriate the men and try them on French soil.

Public opinion against

In a letter sent to their families in January, published by French daily Liberation, two of the French convicts complained of "incessant threats, verbal and physical, from militias" working inside Baghdad's Rusafa prison.

"Some of us have been tortured and humiliated. The pressure is so great that some among us have closed themselves off and start talking to themselves and are better off dead," Brahim Nejara and Fodil Tahar Aouidate wrote.

A visiting French official had told them in December there was "nothing he could do", they added.

Last week, France's national consultative commission on human rights, which advises the government, recommended that they be brought back home.

Full report at:

http://www.rfi.fr/en/international/20200206-French-jihadists-appeal-un-avoid-death-penalty

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South Asia

 

Kabul Taliban: Spies, militants and a mysterious assassination

7 February 2020

The fatal shooting of two men in the heart of the Afghan capital Kabul - a city unfortunately used to violence - went almost unnoticed.

But then, the dead men had hoped to go unnoticed: according to one source, they were both carrying fake IDs.

Exactly what they were doing in Kabul, and who killed them, remains a mystery that touches upon the murky links between security services and extremist groups in the region.

Who they really were, at least, has become clear. According to sources in Pakistani intelligence and militant circles, the men were senior members of the Pakistani Taliban - a group that has killed hundreds of Pakistanis in suicide bombings and other attacks.

One of the dead men was Sheikh Khalid Haqqani, who held a key position in the Pakistani Taliban's leadership council, and formerly served as the group's deputy leader.

He had been accused of involvement in several high-profile attacks on Pakistani politicians and linked to one of the country's deadliest militant attacks, the 2014 assault on a school in Peshawar, which left more than 150 people - mainly children - dead.

The second man was Qari Saif Younis, a military commander within the group. In a statement on Thursday, the Pakistani Taliban confirmed the men's identities and their deaths but gave few other details.

According to one militant source, the men had been due to hold a secret "meeting" in Kabul, on the direct orders of the group's leadership, apparently travelling from the eastern Afghan province of Paktika.

The militant would not say who they were meeting. According to a source in Pakistani intelligence, the men's bodies were discovered in the vicinity of the high-end Intercontinental Hotel - the site of two deadly attacks in recent years.

The deaths occurred last week, but the source in the Pakistani Taliban said the group's leadership had initially ordered the news to be kept "secret", partly as they were rattled by the assassinations, and partly to avoid awkward questions about why the men were in the city.

It is highly unusual for senior members of the Pakistani Taliban to be travelling to Kabul. The group is an entirely separate entity from the Afghan Taliban, with different aims and different supporters. The Afghan Taliban have been fighting a long-running insurgency against the Afghan government, which is backed by US-led forces, while the Pakistani Taliban have focused their attacks inside Pakistan.

Pakistan has long been accused of sponsoring the Afghan Taliban, and providing them sanctuary within the country. It's alleged Afghan intelligence services developed links with the Pakistani Taliban in response.

The group, which has been severely weakened in recent years, is now based in the east of Afghanistan, in areas out of the control of the country's government.

Both countries deny supporting militant groups.

The statement from the Pakistani Taliban said the men were killed in a clash with American forces. The US has been holding discussions with the Afghan Taliban, aimed at bringing an end to the 18-year insurgency. Pakistan is believed to be key in helping persuade the group to reach a negotiated settlement.

The source within the group acknowledged it was also possible that gunmen or militants linked to Pakistani intelligence services were responsible.

They have in the past conducted other audacious assassinations, targeting figures wanted by Pakistan who were living in Afghanistan. For example, in December 2018 a suicide bombing in an upmarket district of the southern city of Kandahar killed a separatist Pakistani leader who had been living there in exile.

Conversely, figures linked to the Afghan Taliban have previously been killed in Pakistan. In 2013, one alleged senior Afghan militant figure was shot dead in a bakery in Islamabad.

According to sources within the Pakistani Taliban, the bodies of the men killed in Kabul, Sheikh Khalid Haqqani and Qari Saif Younis, were handed over to the group, and a large funeral was held for them on Monday in their stronghold in eastern Kunar Province.

Of course, how the bodies ended up back in the hands of their militant group remains another part of the intrigue.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-51356940

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Taliban shadow district chief killed in Afghan army overnight airstrike

2020-02-07

KABUL, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- Three Taliban militants, including a Taliban shadow district chief, were killed in an overnight Afghan army airstrike in northern Balkh province, the command of special forces said Friday.

"Afghan Air Force airstrike targeted an area in Chimtal district, Balkh province Thursday night. The strike killed Taliban shadow district chief Shah Mohammad Jabar and two Taliban divisional commanders, Mawlawi Qadeem and Hennayat," Afghan National Army Special Operations Corps said in a statement.

The targeted militants were planting improvised explosive devices (IEDs) along a main road, to target security forces in the district, in the western part of the province, 305 km north of the country's capital, Kabul, according to the statement.

Full report at:

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-02/07/c_138763516.htm

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