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Islamic World News ( 14 Oct 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan Sees Terror Groups as Prized Instruments for Launching ‘Irregular Wars’ Against Neighbours: Expert
















Worshippers at Masjid-al-Aman mosque in Ozone Park, Brooklyn, NYC [James Reinl/Al Jazeera]

 

Militants in Seven More Towns Join Peace Agreement with Syrian Gov't

Indonesian Ramlila at India Islamic Centre, RSS Leader Presides

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Pakistan

Pakistan Sees Terror Groups as Prized Instruments for Launching ‘Irregular Wars’ Against Neighbours: Expert

Underworld Don Dawood Ibrahim Threatens Pakistan All-Rounder with Dire Consequences

Pakistan ready for talks if India serious about Kashmir: PM Nawaz

Policeman shot dead in Karachi's North Nazimabad

PTI siege, Panama Papers case pose double threat to PM

Blasphemy Case against Teacher

Mengal wants all CPEC accords made public

Afghanistan desires role in CPEC, says Afghan envoy

Corps commanders view leak from high-level meeting as breach of national security: ISPR

Kashmir issue ‘main cause of unrest’ in region: Nawaz Sharif

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Arab World

Militants in Seven More Towns Join Peace Agreement with Syrian Gov't

Aleppo: 2,000 Militants Ready to Surrender to Syrian Gov't

Islamic State Crushes Rebellion Plot In Mosul As Army Closes In

Commander: Iraqi Popular Forces Not to Allow ISIL to Flee Mosul to Syria

Tens of Saudi Troops Killed in Yemeni Troops' Ambush Operation in Kingdom's Soil

Terrorists Getting Sandwiched from South & Northeast

Nineveh Provincial Council Warns Turkish Troops to Leave Iraq

Syrian Gov't Forces Cut off Terrorists' Supply Road in Eastern Outskirts of Aleppo

Iran Calls for Int'l Cooperation to Block Terrorist Groups' Use of Chemical Weapon

Iran: N. Disarmament Highest Priority to Promote Int'l Security

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India

Indonesian Ramlila at India Islamic Centre, RSS Leader Presides

J&K Shiv Sena Demands Surgical Strike against Dawood, Hafiz Saeed

Uniform Civil Code: Both Govt and AIMPLB Should Let Supreme Court Do Its Job

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Mideast

Turkey-Backed Syrian Rebel Forces Attack ISIL's Dabiq

Turkey Has Its Plan-B If Excluded From Mosul Operation: Erdoğan

Protestant pastor of İzmir church faces deportation from Turkey

Referendum on presidency could be held in early 2017: Minister

Gülenists ‘took Escobar’s financial structure as an example’

Kremlin says Putin, Erdoğan discussed Russian air defence supplies to Turkey

Turkey Establishes Airbase in Iraq

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South Asia

ISIS Plans To Deploy 7,000 Fighters in North of Afghanistan: Dostum

Afghan Forces Release 50 Prisoners from Taliban Jail in Ghazni

Afghan CEO to visit Saudi Arabia on official invitation of king Salman

Major Afghanistan upheavals discussed in Moscow conference

Afghanistan to open Consulate in Hyderabad city of India

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Southeast Asia

Malaysia Has Deported Three Gülenists, Says Turkish FM

Myanmar Blames Islamist Group for Attacks in Rohingya Muslim Region

Indonesian hardliners oppose Christian governor’s re-election bid

Myanmar Says Islamic Terrorist Organization Behind Deadly Border Raids in Rakhine State

President’s Office Vows to ‘Counter’ Arakan Attacks; Locals Call for an End to Violence

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Africa

C. Africa on a Razor’s Edge as Fresh Violence Flares

Muharram: Shia Killings In Nigeria

UN expresses concern after clashes in Somalia kill 11 and displace 50,000

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Europe

French Couple Is Put Under Formal Investigation for Ties to Jihadist

Nun Urges U.S., Europe to Care About Christian and Yazidi Refugees, Too

Don’t Blame Refugees for Europe’s Problems, Blame the Balkans

--

North America

US Election: Muslim Voters as Donald Trump’s Nemesis?

Dozens Gather For Moorish-American Remembrance Day

Kerry Negotiating Ceasefire W/Death to America Terrorists after They Attack USShips

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/pakistan-sees-terror-groups-as-prized-instruments-for-launching-‘irregular-wars’-against-neighbours--expert/d/108869

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Pakistan Sees Terror Groups As Prized Instruments For Launching ‘Irregular Wars’ Against Neighbours: Expert

October 15, 2016

Washington [United States]: The “deep state” of Pakistan sees various terrorist groups and their insurgent affiliates, such as the Afghan Taliban, as prized instruments to be used in its irregular wars with its neighbours, and giving them protection as a matter of state policy, is not because the country’s armed forces fears internal chaos or organisational overstretch, says an expert on South Asian affairs.

In an article that has been published by the m.dailyhunt.in web site, Ashley Tellis, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said, “If the Pakistan army’s reluctance to move against outfits such as the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Hizbul Mujahideen were rooted in operational over-extension, these groups would not continue to enjoy the financial subsidies, targeting assistance, and operational backing-under the generally directive, but also occasionally detailed, control-of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).”

He further states in his article for the Daily Hunt, “If various terrorist groups and their insurgent affiliates, such as the Afghan Taliban, are protected as a matter of state policy today, it is not because the Pakistan Army fears internal chaos or organizational overstretch. Rather, the “deep state” sees them as prized instruments in its irregular wars against Pakistan’s neighbours and, hence, is even willing to risk the internal blowback that episodically ensues from such a strategy.”

He opines that whenever the Pakistani military has wanted to, it has moved against its internal enemies with remarkable alacrity, and cites former President Pervez Musharraf targeting numerous sectarian groups despite the army’s substantial commitments along the western border following 9/11, as proof.

“Rawalpindi (General Headquarters) has used lethal covert methods to neutralise sub-state challengers with minimal consequences to public order-as long as it perceived clear benefits to its parochial interests,” Tellis says.

He also is an agreement with the view that recent Indian reprisals against terrorist launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) were deliberately modest in their aim and execution, and were “intended primarily to signal to domestic, Pakistani, and international audiences that New Delhi’s traditional restraint could not be taken for granted forever.”

While admitting that the prospect of stronger Indian responses to future acts of terrorism from Pakistan naturally exacerbates international fears of war, even nuclear war, in the subcontinent, Tellis says that the Pakistan army must stop supporting terrorist groups as part of its confrontation with India.

“Pakistani terrorism today aims to secure larger strategic objectives rather than remedy specific grievances. The Pakistani support for the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqanis, for example, is no longer about protecting Pashtun enfranchisement in Afghanistan, but ensuring the permanent geopolitical subordination of Afghanistan to Pakistan,” he suggests in his article.

“Similarly, the latest proxy war against India, now close to 40 years old, has only an incidental connection with the Kashmir dispute. Pakistani terrorism today is directed against the entire Indian land mass and, far from protecting people in one contested state or recovering territory that has proven to be beyond reach even in conventional war, is intended entirely to undermine India’s emergence as a great power,” he adds.

India, he says, is well aware that Pakistan will not eliminate terrorists functioning from its soil, and has assessed that the Pakistan army prefers a continuing low-intensity war under the protective shadow of its nuclear weapons to a permanent peace with India.

“Bilateral diplomacy seems ineffective because, the most serious disputes simply lack solutions that would simultaneously satisfy the Pakistan army and the Indian state. Nor can India immunize itself by improving homeland security alone: its physical proximity, economic constraints, and institutional weaknesses combine to prevent hermetic security,” Tellis maintains.

“Supporting insurgencies within Pakistan, engaging in economic warfare, pursuing focused retaliation to punish Rawalpindi, or threatening major military action to induce external pressure on Pakistan then remain the only means left for neutralizing Pakistani terrorism. New Delhi has, thus far, refrained from supporting violence in turbulent Pakistani locales such as Balochistan and the tribal areas as well as economic retaliation. While both these approaches may indeed offer India relatively inexpensive substitutes for force, their pain, being slow and long-drawn, is unlikely to force any significant course correction by the Pakistani military and could only incite it to double down on terrorism,” he adds.

India, he says has the capacity to punish the Pakistani military severely and to do so through means well below the nuclear threshold, but it risks reinforcing the traditional “hyphenation” with Pakistan at a time when the strategic trajectories of the two states are completely divergent.

He concludes his article by saying, “That the threat of major military action – one that suffices to punish the Pakistani military but also poses risks of significant escalation – remains the most effective means available to India for inviting the kind of international censure that could force the Pakistani military to reconsider its links with jihadi terrorism.”

Source: siasat.com/news/pakistan-sees-terror-groups-prized-instruments-launching-irregular-wars-neighbours-expert-1041695/

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Militants in Seven More Towns Join Peace Agreement with Syrian Gov't

October 15, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Peace Coordination Center in Syria announced on Saturday that rebel groups in seven towns in three provinces have arrived at an agreement with government officials in last 24 hours to give up fight and lay down arms.

"Five towns in Lattakia, one in Hama and one in Homs have accepted the terms for the peace process," the Center said in a statement carried by the Russian Defense Ministry's website.

"The total number of the cities and towns that have so far joined the peace agreement with the government now stands at 790, while negotiations between the center's representatives and militants' leaders are also underway in the provinces of Damascus, Homs, Aleppo and Quneitra through which at least 69 militant groups have thus far inked ceasefire agreement with government forces," the statement added.

Earlier this week, more than 200 militants laid down their arms and surrendered a strategic city in Western Ghouta in Damascus province to the Syrian government forces.

Over 200 militants in Elhameh region ended fight against the Syrian army and the legal government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and turned themselves in to the government authorities earlier this week.

In the meantime, 640 terrorists in al-Qodsiyeh and al-Hamah laid down their arms and left the two towns this week. 

Earlier today, 2,000 militants in the city of Aleppo also announced they are ready to give up fight against the government, a development seen as a major breakthrough in capturing the strategic city.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950724000645

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A Ramlila at India Islamic Centre, RSS Leader Presides

October 15, 2016

New Delhi: This enactment of Ramayana, as if on cue, started precisely at the point Prime Minster Narendra Modi left the narrative this Vijayadashmi.

Even the political symbolism in the choice of venue - India Islamic Centre in Delhi - matched PM’s presence at the Aishbagh Ramlila in Lucknow earlier this week. Completing the allegorical ensemble was the cultural troupe from the country with the largest Muslim population: Indonesia.

The evening performance started with Sita Haran- the kidnapping of Sita. The aged Jatayu- vulture demigod - fights till the very last. He’s the first one to take on the Ravana, the first line of defence against terror- is probably what the Prime Minister meant- his speech replete with imagery and metaphors when he spoke in Lucknow this Tuesday.

But this Indonesian Ramlila has no dialogues. The expression and stage movement of artists tell the story. Only a background score keeps pace with the fast changing drama on stage.

“The message is for our neighbours. Indonesia is a Muslim country and like India all religions are respected there," says Shiram Joshi, closely associated with the function.

Performed by Bali Ranganiketan Cultural Artists, the programme was organised by three NGOs. Under the magnificent dome of the Islamic Cultural Centre this Friday evening, they all sat- foreign diplomats, ochre robed saadhus, Maulanas in shin-length Aligari pyjama. And they all waited with patience. The chief guest was stuck in a traffic snarl on his way from Mewat in adjoining Haryana.

Almost an hour after the stipulated time- Indresh Kumar took his place on the podium and the proceedings began. On his right sat NSA Ajit Doval’s son Shaurya, and alumnus of Chicago University. He, like BJP leader Ram Madhav, is now actively associated with the right-wing think tank India Foundation.

Indresh, a member of the RSS national executive, has been active as pracharak in border states including Jammu and Kashmir. Of late, he and his Muslim Rashtriya Manch have been working among religious minorities.

In his inaugural address, the RSS leader elaborates on Ramlila and its importance in the current context. Pakistan was born on the 14th of August, he says. India, that is Bharat, has had an eternal existence.

In contemporary politics, Indian Muslim or Muslim India was a debate which was started by All India Babri Masjid Action Committee leader Syed Shahabuddin at the peak of the Ram Temple Movement in the late eighties. India Islamic Centre precedes that. Indian Gandhi laid the foundation of the centre just before her assassination in 1984. She had intervened to name it thus as against the proposal to establish an Islamic India Centre in Delhi. Twenty two years later her daughter-in-law, Sonia Gandhi inaugurated the building in 2006.

The temple movement was led by Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Its political benefits accrued on the BJP. The title suit is pending in the Supreme Court. The Uniform Civil Code - part of BJP’s original agenda along with Article 370 - has however resurfaced this autumn. The government has already filed an affidavit stating its view on triple talaaq. Thirty years back, a Congress government at the Centre was caught in a quagmire spiralling out of the Shah Bano Case.

On the sidelines of the function, Indresh Kumar speaks about all these issues.

“The Muslim religious leaders should first try to arrive at a consensus among various groups," he says. “It is a matter related to the rights of eight crore Muslim women in the country."

It’s been a rather eclectic evening. The traffic outside on the Lodhi Road whizzes past as guests leave the venue.

After a long summer one can feel a perceptible nip in the Delhi air.

Source: news18.com/news/india/a-ramlila-at-india-islamic-centre-rss-leader-presides-1301924.html

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Pakistan

 

Pakistan Sees Terror Groups As Prized Instruments For Launching ‘Irregular Wars’ Against Neighbours: Expert

October 15, 2016

Washington [United States]: The “deep state” of Pakistan sees various terrorist groups and their insurgent affiliates, such as the Afghan Taliban, as prized instruments to be used in its irregular wars with its neighbours, and giving them protection as a matter of state policy, is not because the country’s armed forces fears internal chaos or organisational overstretch, says an expert on South Asian affairs.

In an article that has been published by the m.dailyhunt.in web site, Ashley Tellis, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said, “If the Pakistan army’s reluctance to move against outfits such as the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Hizbul Mujahideen were rooted in operational over-extension, these groups would not continue to enjoy the financial subsidies, targeting assistance, and operational backing-under the generally directive, but also occasionally detailed, control-of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).”

He further states in his article for the Daily Hunt, “If various terrorist groups and their insurgent affiliates, such as the Afghan Taliban, are protected as a matter of state policy today, it is not because the Pakistan Army fears internal chaos or organizational overstretch. Rather, the “deep state” sees them as prized instruments in its irregular wars against Pakistan’s neighbours and, hence, is even willing to risk the internal blowback that episodically ensues from such a strategy.”

He opines that whenever the Pakistani military has wanted to, it has moved against its internal enemies with remarkable alacrity, and cites former President Pervez Musharraf targeting numerous sectarian groups despite the army’s substantial commitments along the western border following 9/11, as proof.

“Rawalpindi (General Headquarters) has used lethal covert methods to neutralise sub-state challengers with minimal consequences to public order-as long as it perceived clear benefits to its parochial interests,” Tellis says.

He also is an agreement with the view that recent Indian reprisals against terrorist launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) were deliberately modest in their aim and execution, and were “intended primarily to signal to domestic, Pakistani, and international audiences that New Delhi’s traditional restraint could not be taken for granted forever.”

While admitting that the prospect of stronger Indian responses to future acts of terrorism from Pakistan naturally exacerbates international fears of war, even nuclear war, in the subcontinent, Tellis says that the Pakistan army must stop supporting terrorist groups as part of its confrontation with India.

“Pakistani terrorism today aims to secure larger strategic objectives rather than remedy specific grievances. The Pakistani support for the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqanis, for example, is no longer about protecting Pashtun enfranchisement in Afghanistan, but ensuring the permanent geopolitical subordination of Afghanistan to Pakistan,” he suggests in his article.

“Similarly, the latest proxy war against India, now close to 40 years old, has only an incidental connection with the Kashmir dispute. Pakistani terrorism today is directed against the entire Indian land mass and, far from protecting people in one contested state or recovering territory that has proven to be beyond reach even in conventional war, is intended entirely to undermine India’s emergence as a great power,” he adds.

India, he says, is well aware that Pakistan will not eliminate terrorists functioning from its soil, and has assessed that the Pakistan army prefers a continuing low-intensity war under the protective shadow of its nuclear weapons to a permanent peace with India.

“Bilateral diplomacy seems ineffective because, the most serious disputes simply lack solutions that would simultaneously satisfy the Pakistan army and the Indian state. Nor can India immunize itself by improving homeland security alone: its physical proximity, economic constraints, and institutional weaknesses combine to prevent hermetic security,” Tellis maintains.

“Supporting insurgencies within Pakistan, engaging in economic warfare, pursuing focused retaliation to punish Rawalpindi, or threatening major military action to induce external pressure on Pakistan then remain the only means left for neutralizing Pakistani terrorism. New Delhi has, thus far, refrained from supporting violence in turbulent Pakistani locales such as Balochistan and the tribal areas as well as economic retaliation. While both these approaches may indeed offer India relatively inexpensive substitutes for force, their pain, being slow and long-drawn, is unlikely to force any significant course correction by the Pakistani military and could only incite it to double down on terrorism,” he adds.

India, he says has the capacity to punish the Pakistani military severely and to do so through means well below the nuclear threshold, but it risks reinforcing the traditional “hyphenation” with Pakistan at a time when the strategic trajectories of the two states are completely divergent.

He concludes his article by saying, “That the threat of major military action – one that suffices to punish the Pakistani military but also poses risks of significant escalation – remains the most effective means available to India for inviting the kind of international censure that could force the Pakistani military to reconsider its links with jihadi terrorism.”

Source: siasat.com/news/pakistan-sees-terror-groups-prized-instruments-launching-irregular-wars-neighbours-expert-1041695/

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Underworld Don Dawood Ibrahim Threatens Pakistan All-Rounder with Dire Consequences

October 15, 2016

Islamabad: War of words between Javed Miandad and Shahid Afridi took a ugly turn. Now, the underworld don, Dawood Ibrahim got involved.

According to the news published in Zee News, Dawood Ibrahim warned the all-rounder with dire consequences. Shahid Afridi had received threats from Dawood Ibrahim, relative of former Pakistan cricket captain, Javed Miandad. Dawood Ibrahim called Afridi in the evening on 12th October.

It is to be mentioned that this all started after Miandad made a remark on the ongoing issue with Afridi’s farewell match. He said, “Afridi wants a farewell match only for the money.”

Responding to the remark, Afridi said, “Javed Miandad has been thinking about money all his life and he still is. A cricketer of his stature should not do such cheap talks. This was the difference between Imran Khan and Miandad”. He also warned of legal action for his comments.

It is also reported that Mianadad does not stopped making remarks, speaking to a Pakistani news channel, he said, “I would want Shahid Afridi to swear by his children and say that he has not fixed matches for Pakistan and has not sold Pakistan. I am a witness, I have caught him. I had caught the entire team. These people are fixers and they are talking about money.”

After this war of words, matter reached underworld don, Dawood Ibrahim who has reportedly warned Shahid Afridi of dire consequences.

Source: siasat.com/news/rift-miandad-dawood-ibrahim-threatens-shahid-afridi-dire-consequences-1041441/

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Pakistan ready for talks if India serious about Kashmir: PM Nawaz

October 15, 2016

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Saturday Pakistan is ready to hold dialogue with India if New Delhi is serious about resolving the Kashmir issue.

Pakistan had offered holding of talks on outstanding issues several times but India did not reciprocate, he said while talking to reporters in Baku before wrapping up a three-day visit to Azerbaijan.

He said Kashmir was main cause of unrest in the region and India must show seriousness for resolution of the issue and honour its commitment under United Nations Security Council Resolutions.

Pakistan was committed to peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue, he added.

The premier regretted Indian allegations that blamed Pakistan for the attack on an Indian army base camp in Uri.

He said India levelled allegations against Pakistan within six hours of the Uri incident, and reiterated that no infiltration took place across the Line of Control (LoC).

The prime minister said his government had introduced a new culture of political tolerance in the country as they respected mandate of every party.

“The PPP formed government in Sindh and we respected it. Similarly we have respected MQM as an opposition party. Even when unethical language was used in KPK we also respected the public mandate there,” he added.

He vowed to take the country to path of progress and prosperity, despite "certain elements' plans to shut the country".

Soaring tensions

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's statement comes as tensions simmer between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir issue.

Last month, India initiated a diplomatic drive to isolate Pakistan after blaming it for the Sept 18 attack on the Uri army camp which killed 18 soldiers a claim which Pakistan has rejected.

Pakistan also rubbished India's claim that it carried out "surgical strikes" on militants across the LoC.

Tensions between the South Asian rivals have been high since an Indian crackdown on dissent in India-held Kashmir following the killing by Indian forces of Burhan Wani, a young separatist leader, in July. More than 100 civilians have been killed and thousands injured in protests against Indian rule that followed.

India pulled out of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit scheduled to be held in November in Islamabad. Several other Saarc members followed suit, leading to the postponement of the summit.

Source: dawn.com/news/1290171/pakistan-ready-for-talks-if-india-serious-about-kashmir-pm-nawaz

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Policeman shot dead in Karachi's North Nazimabad

October 15, 2016

A policeman shot dead by unidentified assailants in Karachi's North Nazimabad neighbourhood on Saturday.

A gunman riding a motorcycle opened fire on the police constable, later identified as Munawwar, near Ziauddin Hospital while he was on the way for duty, police said in a press release.

The body of the 28-year-old constable, who was posted at New Karachi police station, was shifted to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.

Sindh Inspector General Police AD Khawaja sought a report into the incident from the SSP-West, and directed the police to collect necessary evidence.

The incident comes barely two days after another police officer was gunned down while he was travelling in a private vehicle in Karachi’s Korangi area.

Karachi, a city of around 20 million people and Pakistan's financial capital has been racked in recent years by criminal, ethnic, political and religious violence.

Police and Rangers are currently involved in an operation aimed at cleansing the city of terrorists and other hardcore criminals including hired killers, gun runners and drug peddlers.

Source: dawn.com/news/1290161/policeman-shot-dead-in-karachis-north-nazimabad

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PTI siege, Panama Papers case pose double threat to PM

October 15, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Days ahead of the planned siege of Islamabad by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), the Supreme Court will take up on Oct 20 the much-anticipated Panamagate case seeking disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members.

The PTI has announced Oct 30 as the date for siege but there are indications that the party may change it by a day or two.

A three-judge bench consisting of Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, Jus­tice Ijaz ul Ahsan and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain will hear five separate petitions on the Panama Papers scam.

SC has been asked to disqualify Nawaz Sharif, his son-in-law and Ishaq Dar

One by one the court will hear the petitions — moved by the PTI, Jamaat-i-Islami, Advocate Tariq Asad, Barrister Zafarullah Khan of the Watan Party and All Pakistan Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.

The case was fixed for Oct 20 after the PTI through an application on Oct 10 asked the court for an early hearing of its petition.

A panel of senior lawyers Hamid Khan and Naeem Bokhari will represent the PTI while Asad Manzoor Butt will appear on behalf of the JI. Rest of the petitioners will appear before the court in person.

Immediately after the petitions of the PTI and JI were filed, they were returned by the court’s registrar, who said that the petition moved in the name of the party chief was frivolous. The decision was challenged before the court with the PTI arguing that to call its petition frivolous was not only insulting but degrading and defamatory.

The chief justice after a hearing held in his chamber on Sept 27 accepted all appeals by setting aside objections of the registrar’s office and held that the objections to the maintainability of the petitions were ill-founded. These petitions will now be taken up by a three-judge bench.

The PTI has sought disqualification of Prime Minister Sharif, his son-in-law retired Capt Muhammad Safdar and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for their alleged involvement in the Panamagate scam.

The PTI has urged the court to order the recovery of the alleged looted / laundered money along with the properties purchased thro­ugh British Virgin Islands and companies in other tax havens.

It alleged that the prime minister and his family members and Mr Dar had been identified as money launderers, currency smugglers and buyers of expensive foreign properties in the name of children. They have allegedly set up offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands and other secret havens, made bogus foreign currency accounts, flouted legal control over foreign declarations, set up a steel mills [Gulf Steel Mills] in the UAE without disclosing the manner in which the money was transferred to Dubai, sold the same admittedly for $9 million and held the amount without declaration.

JI wants arrests

The JI through its chief Sirajul Haq asked the court to order the federal government through the ministry of parliamentary affairs, secretaries of law and justice, finance, cabinet division and the National Accountability Bureau to arrest the suspected culprits, recover the public money and bring it back to the country because it had been illegally transferred from Pakistan to offshore companies.

Mr Asad in his petition sought the appointment of a high-level judicial commission to probe into the investment made by the prime minister’s family and others allegedly through offshore companies.

He said that the requested commission should not only help expose the premier’s family but also others allegedly involved in money laundering and tax evasion like retired Gen Pervez Musharraf, ex-president Asif Ali Zardari, former interior minister Rehman Malik, property tycoon Malik Riaz, the Saifullah family, etc.

Barrister Zafarullah Khan in his petition pleaded that the Supreme Court should order constitution of a parliamentary committee or panel to look into the Panamagate scandal and if there was disagreement on this issue in the parliament then political parties should seek a vote of no confidence against the prime minister.

Sheikh Rashid asked the court to appoint an inquiry commission on the lines of the Memogate Commission to investigate the allegations levelled against the prime minister’s family.

Source: dawn.com/news/1290078/pti-siege-panama-papers-case-pose-double-threat-to-pm

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Blasphemy Case against Teacher

October 15, 2016

TOBA TEK SINGH: The Kamalia city police arrested on Friday night a private college teacher on the allegation of committing blasphemy.

According to the case registered under section 295 A of PPC, the complainant told police that his son, a student of Quaid-i-Azam School and College of Science and Commerce, was absent on Thursday and when he went to school on Friday, his teacher inquired from him reason of his absence over which his son said he remained absent due to some personal matter.

“The teacher not only tortured his son but also said something about his religious belief,” said the complainant.

Scores of citizens staged a protest demonstration against the teacher outside the school.

DSP Mehr Muhammad Saeed assured them that a case would be registered and later police arrested him after registering a case.

According to our Sialkot correspondent, Daska city police arrested a man on blasphemy charges on Friday.

According to the first information report, complainant Chaudhry Waqas Bilal says the suspect often denied the Islamic beliefs and articles of faith and provided the recording of his `utterances’ to police.

DSP Lal Muhammad Khokhar told Dawn they had arrested the suspect after local people resorted to protest.

Source: dawn.com/news/1290100/blasphemy-case-against-teacher

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Mengal wants all CPEC accords made public

October 15, 2016

GWADAR: All accords signed by the federal government regarding Gwadar and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) should be made public, said Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal, chief of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), on Thursday evening.

He added that it was important to pass legislation which would protect the people of Balochistan and “not let them become a minority in the port city of Gwadar”.

Speaking at a public meeting at the Sorag Dil ground in Gwadar, the party chief said that BNP-M was not against development but would resist any development that would deny the rights of the residents of Gwadar “and convert their majority into a minority”.

The party’s secretary general Senator Dr Jahanzeb Khan Jamaldini, MNA Sayed Essa Noori, MPA Hammal Kalmati and Dr Aziz Baloch also spoke at the public gathering which was largely attended by people from Turbat, Pasni, Khuzdar, Kalat, Hub and parts of Gwadar district.

Sardar Mengal said that his party would not compromise on the rights of the Baloch people and would not hesitate to make sacrifices to protect their honour.

“The party will not withdraw from its struggle for the achievement of legitimate rights of the people of Balochistan, protection of the coast and resources of Balochistan,” he said.

He added that in the name of development Balochistan’s resources were being usurped and “the Baloch people have been turned into slaves”.

According to Sardar Mengal, the “rulers are trying to snatch the sea from local fishermen who have been using it to earn their bread and butter for centuries”. He said that Balochistan had been producing gas since 1952 for the entire country, including Azad Jammu and Kashmir, but Balochistan was deprived of it.

He added that even now, gas was only available in a few cities in the province.

Former chief minister of Balochistan Sardar Mengal discussed the Saindak Copper-Gold Project in Chagai, and said that none of the locals benefited from the gold recovering project.

He said that Gwadar was a gateway to the CPEC and the $46 billion project was signed because of the port but the people of the port city had been deprived of drinking water and the government had done nothing to resolve this issue.

The BNP-M president said that he had observed some change due to development. He claimed that now checkpoints had been established “and the son of the soil is asked to identify himself and inform them where he is coming from and going”.

Sardar Mengal claimed that all agreements regarding the CPEC were signed by the chief minister of Punjab and included the “Malik of Balochistan” as a witness.

“We want of know all details of the CPEC and other agreements signed by the rulers regarding Gwadar,” he said.

“I demand that all agreements be made public,” he said, adding that whenever “we ask for Balochistan’s share in the $46 billion project we are told that they are constructing an international airport in Gwadar”.

“Our rulers are pleading the case of Kashmir but not paying any attention to problems being faced by the people of other provinces, including Balochistan, where people are deprived of even basic amenities,” he said.

He reiterated that the party and people of Balochistan were not against development but wanted development on the basis of equality.

“We want development for our fishermen, labourers and the people of Gwadar,” he added.

Source: dawn.com/news/1290143/mengal-wants-all-cpec-accords-made-public

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Afghanistan desires role in CPEC, says Afghan envoy

October 15, 2016

Afghanistan's Ambassador to Pakistan Dr Omer Zakhilwal on Friday said Kabul absolutely supports China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and wants to become a part of the project.

Dr Zakhilwal, while talking to DawnNews in Islamabad, said "the CPEC was a great project that was equally relevant to Afghanistan like Pakistan, and anything that will be good for Pakistan will be good for the entire region."

The Afghan envoy asserted that the people of Afghanistan were "thirsty for development" and wanted to see their homeland prosper.

“I think CPEC is not limited to Pakistan, it is for the entire region particularly Central Asia,” the envoy maintained.

“CPEC is very much relevant to Afghanistan and it takes much interest in the project,” said Dr Zakhilwal adding that Kabul could excel in development provided it is given the opportunity.

The Afghan envoy said by becoming a part of the project Afghanistan can recover the damages it suffered during the decades long war.

“You saw our cricket team rose up to 8th position in world. Similarly, Afghanistan can surprise many if it gets the opportunity,” Dr Zakhilwal added.

Iran and Saudi Arabia had also shown interest to be part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal earlier this month welcomed the interest shown by Iran and Saudi Arabia by saying “We will welcome both the brotherly Islamic countries if they want to be part of CPEC.”

Pakistan, he said, would also welcome and appreciate any friendly country which desired to participate in the multi-billion gigantic flagship project of “One Road One Belt” initiative launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Last month, investment in the CPEC was increased to more than $51.5bn after China and the ADB agreed to lend $8bn to upgrade the main railway line from Karachi to Peshawar.

Source: dawn.com/news/1289978/afghanistan-desires-role-in-cpec-says-afghan-envoy

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Corps commanders view leak from high-level meeting as breach of national security: ISPR

October 15, 2016

Participants of a Corps Commanders meeting at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi on Friday expressed serious concern over what they said was a leak from a security meeting which was reported by Dawn earlier this month.

In a statement issued by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), participants of the meeting expressed serious concern over "feeding of false and fabricated story of an important security meeting held at PM House and viewed it as breach of national security."

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif presided over the meeting which was attended by all corps commanders and principal staff officers.

The story, the backlash

Almeida's name was added to the Exit Control List – preventing travel abroad – on Monday after he wrote the news report "Act against militants or face international isolation, civilians tell military". The Prime Minister Office rejected the story thrice since it was published on October 6.

In an Editor's note, Dawn clarified its position and stated on the record that the story "was verified, cross-checked and fact-checked."

The note further stated: "Many at the helm of affairs are aware of the senior officials, and participants of the meeting who were contacted by the newspaper for collecting information. Therefore, the elected government and state institutions should refrain from targeting the messenger, and scape-goating the country’s most respected newspaper in a malicious campaign."

In the wake of the travel ban on Almeida, human rights and journalists' organisations including the HRCP, PFUJ and CPNE protested and rallied in his support. Most TV news channels also ran reports and conducted programmes criticising the government's decision.

Explore: Human rights, journalist organisations protest travel ban on Dawn staffer

'Hoax surgical strikes'

The participants held a comprehensive review of the internal and external security situation with a particular focus on prevailing environment at the Line of Control (LoC) and the operational preparedness of the Pakistan Army.

Participants rejected the Indian claims of 'hoax' surgical strikes as an attempt to divert the world’s attention away from brutalities being committed by the Indian Army against Kashmiris in held Kashmir, ISPR said.

The forum resolved that any attempt of misadventurism and irresponsible act will be met with the most befitting response.

While expressing complete satisfaction over the operational preparedness of troops, the COAS reiterated the army's resolve to defend Pakistan against a full spectrum of threat.

Recounting the successes of Operation Zarb-i-Azb and the resultant stability achieved, the COAS reiterated the need for sustained efforts on internal security to defeat all hostile attempts to reverse gains made.

The participants resolved to continue sustained and focused combing and intelligence-based operations across the length and breadth of the country to uproot terrorism, harmonising it with implementation of the National Action Plan to address extremism and other causes of terrorism, the ISPR said.

Source: dawn.com/news/1289976/corps-commanders-view-leak-from-high-level-meeting-as-breach-of-national-security-ispr

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Kashmir issue ‘main cause of unrest’ in region: Nawaz Sharif

October 15, 2016

Islamabad: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday said Pakistan is ready for talks withIndia if New Delhi was serious to resolve the Kashmir issue which, he said, is the “main cause of unrest” in the region.

Pakistan had offered talks on outstanding issues several times but India did not reciprocate, he told reporters in Baku, Azerbaijan, where he wrapped up a three-day visit.

“Kashmir was main cause of unrest in the region and India must show seriousness for resolution of the issue and honour its commitment under United Nations Security Council Resolutions,” Sharif was quoted as saying by Associated Press of Pakistan.

Pakistan was committed to peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue, he said.

Sharif dismissed India’s allegations that Pakistan was behind the attack on an Indian Army base camp in Uri, saying India levelled allegations against Pakistan within six hours of the incident.

He said no infiltration took place across the Line of Control (LoC).

Sharif’s statement comes amid strains in the relations between Pakistan and India in the wake of the Uri terror attack in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed last month.  Uri terror attack in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed last month.

Source: siasat.com/news/kashmir-issue-main-cause-unrest-region-nawaz-sharif-1042117/

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Arab World

Militants in Seven More Towns Join Peace Agreement with Syrian Gov't

October 15, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Peace Coordination Center in Syria announced on Saturday that rebel groups in seven towns in three provinces have arrived at an agreement with government officials in last 24 hours to give up fight and lay down arms.

"Five towns in Lattakia, one in Hama and one in Homs have accepted the terms for the peace process," the Center said in a statement carried by the Russian Defense Ministry's website.

"The total number of the cities and towns that have so far joined the peace agreement with the government now stands at 790, while negotiations between the center's representatives and militants' leaders are also underway in the provinces of Damascus, Homs, Aleppo and Quneitra through which at least 69 militant groups have thus far inked ceasefire agreement with government forces," the statement added.

Earlier this week, more than 200 militants laid down their arms and surrendered a strategic city in Western Ghouta in Damascus province to the Syrian government forces.

Over 200 militants in Elhameh region ended fight against the Syrian army and the legal government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and turned themselves in to the government authorities earlier this week.

In the meantime, 640 terrorists in al-Qodsiyeh and al-Hamah laid down their arms and left the two towns this week. 

Earlier today, 2,000 militants in the city of Aleppo also announced they are ready to give up fight against the government, a development seen as a major breakthrough in capturing the strategic city.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950724000645

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Aleppo: 2,000 Militants Ready to Surrender to Syrian Gov't

October 15, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Local sources in Aleppo said on Saturday that some 2,000 militants have declared readiness to end fight against the government after rising public protests against the presence of Jeish al-Fatah terrorists in the Eastern districts of the city.

"In an unprecedented move, a least 2,000 militants have contacted their families and announced their readiness to lay down arms and join the peace plan in Aleppo city," Arabic-language al-Watan reported on Saturday, quoting militants' relatives and family members.

"In the meantime, renowned figures and tribal leaders in Aleppo districts have formed local committees to identify those militants who want to join the peace agreement to introduce them to the national reconciliation committees," al-Watan said, adding, "Popular protests against militancy and the Syrian government forces' advances have caused a rising despair among the militants and a recent growth in their surrender to the government forces."

"A large number of militants in Seif al-Dowleh, Salahuddin, Bostan al-Pasha, Karam al-Jabal, Bostasn al-Qasr have laid down arms and surrendered to the authorities," the Syrian paper added.

Meantime, Syrian military planes dropped thousands of surrender-now leaflets over militant-held districts in Aleppo on Saturday.

Commander of the operations’ department at the Russian General Staff Lieutenant General Sergey Rodskoy said on Thursday that his country's army is ready to ensure a safe exit for gunmen and civilians who want to leave the Eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo.

In a statement, Rodskoy said that the West ignores the use of civilians as human shields by the armed groups in Syria and continue to launch a media campaign against Russia by accusing it of bombing Aleppo randomly.

He pointed out that Russia was ready to help in the operation of delivering humanitarian aid to the Eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo, stressing the need for guarantees on the part of the gunmen who are there in order to avoid a repeat of the attack on an aid convoy in Oram al-Kubra to the West of Aleppo on September 19.

An official source at the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said that the government, due to its keenness on the lives of the citizens living in Eastern Aleppo, expressed full readiness to ensure the safety of those who wanted to leave the area.

The source added that the Syrian government also would guarantee the safety of gunmen who wanted to leave the area to settle their legal status or to head to other areas for normal life to return to Eastern Aleppo and the state service institutions to resume work to meet the needs of the citizens who want to stay in Eastern Aleppo.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950724000564

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Islamic State crushes rebellion plot in Mosul as army closes in

October 15, 2016

Islamic State has crushed a rebellion plot in Mosul, led by one of the group's commanders who aimed to switch sides and help deliver the caliphate's Iraqi capital to government forces, residents and Iraqi security officials said.

Islamic State (IS) executed 58 people suspected of taking part in the plot after it was uncovered last week. Residents, who spoke to Reuters from some of the few locations in the city that have phone service, said the plotters were killed by drowning and their bodies were buried in a mass grave in a wasteland on the outskirts of the city.

Among them was a local aide of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who led the plotters, according to matching accounts given by five residents, by Hisham al-Hashimi, an expert on IS affairs that advises the government in Baghdad and by colonel Ahmed al-Taie, from Mosul's Nineveh province Operation Command's military intelligence.

Reuters is not publishing the name of the plot leader to avoid increasing the safety risk for his family, nor the identities of those inside the city who spoke about the plot.

The aim of the plotters was to undermine Islamic State's defense of Mosul in the upcoming fight, expected to be the biggest battle in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Mosul is the last major stronghold of Islamic State in Iraq. With a pre-war population of around 2 million, it is at least five times the size of any other city Islamic State has controlled. Iraqi officials say a massive ground assault could begin this month, backed by U.S. air power, Kurdish security forces and Shi'ite and Sunni irregular units.

A successful offensive would effectively destroy the Iraqi half of the caliphate that the group declared when it swept through northern Iraq in 2014. But the United Nations says it could also create the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world, in a worst case scenario uprooting 1 million people.

Islamic State fighters are dug in to defend the city, and have a history of using civilians as human shields when defending territory.

CAUGHT

According to Hashimi, the dissidents were arrested after one of them was caught with a message on his phone mentioning a transfer of weapons. He confessed during interrogation that weapons were being hidden in three locations, to be used in a rebellion to support the Iraqi army when it closes in on Mosul.

IS raided the three houses used to hide the weapons on Oct. 4, Hashimi said.

“Those were Daesh members who turned against the group in Mosul," said Iraqi Counter-terrorism Service spokesman Sabah al-Numani in Baghdad, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State. "This is a clear sign that the terrorist organization has started to lose support not only from the population, but even from its own members.”

A spokesman for the U.S.-led military coalition which conducts air strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq was unable to confirm or deny the accounts of the thwarted plot.

Signs of cracks inside the "caliphate" appeared this year as the ultra-hardline Sunni group was forced out of half the territory it overran two years ago in northern and western Iraq.

Some people in Mosul have been expressing their refusal of IS's harsh rules by spray-painting the letter M, for the Arabic word that means resistance, on city walls, or "wanted" on houses of its militants. Such activity is punished by death.

Numani said his service has succeeded in the past two months in opening contact channels with “operatives” who began communicating intelligence that helped conduct air strikes on the insurgents' command centers and locations in Mosul.

A list with the names of the 58 executed plotters was given to a hospital to inform their families but their bodies were not returned, the residents said.

“Some of the executed relatives sent old women to ask about the bodies. Daesh rebuked them and told them no bodies, no graves, those traitors are apostates and it is forbidden to bury them in Muslim cemeteries,” said one resident whose relative was among those executed.

“After the failed coup, Daesh withdrew the special identity cards it issued for its local commanders, to prevent them from fleeing Mosul with their families,” Colonel al-Taie said.

A Mosul resident said Islamic State had appointed a new official, Muhsin Abdul Kareem Oghlu, a leader of a sniper unit with a reputation as a die-hard, to assist its governor of Mosul, Ahmed Khalaf Agab al-Jabouri, in keeping control.

Islamic State militants have placed booby traps across the city of Mosul, dug tunnels and recruited children as spies in anticipation of the offensive.

Source: reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-mosul-exclusive-idUSKBN12E0Z0

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Commander: Iraqi Popular Forces Not to Allow ISIL to Flee Mosul to Syria

October 15, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior commander of the Iraqi popular forces stressed his forces resolve to block the escape path of ISIL terrorists from Mosul to Syria.

"Our forces will not allow the ISIL militants to flee to Syria and we have gathered precise intelligence about the enemy before starting the Mosul liberation operation," Ahmad al-Assadi, also the spokesman of the popular forces and an Iraqi legislator, said in a statement on Saturday.

He also rejected media reports on the Iraqi army's agreement with the ISIL to leave Mosul, and said, "There is no deal and the ISIL militants in Nineveh will by crushed in the Mosul battle."

His remarks came as reports said that the US is hindering Iraq's operations in Mosul to provide the ISIL terrorists with an opportunity to flee to Raqqa in Syria.

Barack Obama's strategy to fight the ISIL in Iraq and Syria has been criticized by different analysts and politicians, even by Donald Trump.

Trump has often questioned why the United States feels the need to tell the world its military strategies. 

"They think a lot of the ISIL leaders are in Mosul. We have announcements coming out of Washington and coming out of Iraq: "We will be attacking Mosul in three weeks or four weeks." All of these bad leaders from ISIL are leaving Mosul," Trump said. "Why can't they do it quietly? Why can't they make it a sneak attack? And after the attack is made, inform the American public that we've knocked out their leaders."

An Iraqi Kurdish media official said early this month that ISIL's top commanders, including its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, have started fleeing Mosul for Syria, adding that as the terrorist group's leader has ordered militants to destroy the city if defeated and forced to withdraw.

"The ISIL commanders, including al-Baghdadi, are escaping Mosul to Syria," Iraqi Kurdistan Democrat Party's media director Saeed Mamouziti said.

He said that al-Baghdadi has also ordered his followers to completely destroy Mosul if they are defeated in the war against Iraq's joint military forces.

Later Mamouziti said that the ISIL militants are fleeing the city since a long-awaited large-scale operation aimed at freeing the second largest city in the country is expected to be launched in the coming days.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950724000540

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Tens of Saudi Troops Killed in Yemeni Troops' Ambush Operation in Kingdom's Soil

October 15, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Yemeni army and popular forces killed over 40 Saudi soldiers in an ambush operation in the Southern part of the kingdom.

At least 40 Saudi military men were killed in an ambush attack by the Yemeni army near the al-Baqa border crossing in Najran province.

A large number of the Saudi Army's military equipment and vehicles were also destroyed in the attack.

Yemen’s military forces usually carry out such attacks against the gatherings of the Saudi mercenaries inside Yemen as well as targets in the kingdom’s Southwest in retaliation for Riyadh’s 19-month-long military campaign against the country.

On Thursday at least 15 Saudi troops were killed during clashes with Yemeni military forces backed by Ansarullah fighters in Saudi Arabia's Southwestern region of Jizan.

Around 40 Saudi forces were also injured in the failed Wednesday attack on the Yemeni troops, who are holding positions in the region’s mountains.

The Yemeni forces also launched artillery attacks on the Saudi bases in the region and destroyed a Saudi military vehicle.

Earlier, Yemeni troops hit the Malek al-Faisal military base in the city of Khamis Mushait in the Asir region with a ballistic missile.

Yemeni troops also successfully targeted a Saudi military base in the Southwestern Saudi region of Najran, inflicting heavy losses on it.

Meanwhile, Saudi warplanes targeted a civilian vehicle in the Western province of Ma'rib, killing four people and injuring two others. Saudi aircraft also bombed the Bani Matar district in the adjacent province of Sana’a several times.

Al-Dhaher and Haydan districts in the remote Northwestern province of Sa’ada were also pounded by Saudi jets.

More than 11,300 people have died since the kingdom launched its campaign to crush Yemen's  Ansarullah movement and their allies and reinstate the resigned president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950724000681

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Terrorists Getting Sandwiched from South & Northeast

October 15, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Pro-government forces in Syria's Aleppo province are marching on terrorist-held regions in the key city, inflicting major loss and casualties on Jeish al Fatah terrorists in well-concerted advances from the South and Northeast.

Syrian government forces, in fresh round of joint offensives, drove terrorists from Agricultural training center and the regions of al-Mojbal, Katlat al-Rawafe'a, al-Hankarat and al-Ma'amel Northeast of Aleppo city, leaving scores of Jeish al-Fatah terrorists dead or wounded.

A large number of terrorists were also captured in the government forces' operation in Northeastern Aleppo.

Syrian pro-government forces also launched fresh attacks on Jeish al-Fatah's positions in Sheikh Saeed districts to capture al-Marjeh region, field sources said, adding that scores of militants have been killed or wounded in the tough battle underway in Sheikh Saeed.

Military analysts believe that the Syrian army is trying to press the terrorists through multiple fronts from the Northern and Southern directions to eventually launch a crushing attack on their concentrated positions.

On Friday, the Syrian army and popular forces continued their advances in the Northern part of Aleppo, and seized back major parts of al-Arz al-Hamra region and a strategic mine to the Eastern side of al-Oweijeh area.

The army's military gains came after fierce clashes with the terrorist groups that inflicted severe casualties on the militants.

The terrorists' military equipment also sustained heavy losses.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950724000476

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Nineveh Provincial Council Warns Turkish Troops to Leave Iraq

October 15, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Nineveh Provincial Council called the Turkish troops in Iraq as occupying forces and warned them to withdraw from Baishqa military base immediately.

The call by Nineveh provincial body comes as Turkey claims that its troops have been stationed in Baishqa military base at the request of the governor of Nineveh province.

"The Turkish troops have no permission from Iraq's central government or Nineveh provincial council to be deployed there," the council's member Hesam al-Abar said.

He noted that the Nineveh Provincial Council has approved immediate withdrawal of the Turkish forces.

Last Sunday, a large number of people gathered in front of the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad in protest at the presence of Turkish troops in their country.

Hundreds of Iraqi protesters called for withdrawal of the Turkish army from Baishqa region in Nineveh province.

The protesters chanted slogans against the Turkish government and blasted Ankara for violating their territorial integrity.

Baghdad has protested several times against the troops deployment and demanded their immediate withdrawal from Iraqi territory, a request that has fallen on deaf ears.

On Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected Baghdad’s objections to the presence of Turkish forces in northern Iraq.

Ankara, he said, seeks to prevent the Mosul battle from turning into a “sectarian one” and causing “blood and fire” in the Middle East.

The comments came only hours after Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi took to his Twitter account to brush aside Erdogan’s earlier remarks that Turkish forces must play a role in the Mosul operation.

The Iraqi government criticized Erdogan’s “irresponsible” remarks, with the Iraqi premier’s spokesman Saad al-Hadithi saying that the Turkish leader was “pouring oil on the fire.”

Mosul, which is Iraq's second-largest city and the main stronghold of ISIL terrorists, fell in 2014. The Iraqi army and pro-government forces have been preparing for months for the final assault to recapture the city.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950724000791

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Syrian Gov't Forces Cut off Terrorists' Supply Road in Eastern Outskirts of Aleppo

October 15, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian Army soldiers and popular forces cut off Jeish al-Fatah's key supply route to Northeastern Aleppo, forcing terrorists in at least three districts of the city to face an acute shortage of arms and ammunition supplies, military sources said Saturday.

"Syrian government forces marched on terrorists' positions in al-Brij and Mojbal al-Nazarat in the Northern side of Aleppo and, meantime, seized control over a strategic road in the Eastern outskirts of the city used by the terrorist groups to transfer arms and ammunition cargos to Jeish al-Fatah's positions in the Northeastern and Northern districts of Aleppo," the sources said.

Following these advances in the North and the cut-off of the supply route in the East, now the army has the upper-hand in the frontline along Hananou Youth Housing Complex, Hananou and al-Anzarat region, according to the source.

"Following the recent advances of the the Syrian army in the region, terrorists seem to be ready for a rapid defeat in Hananou Youth Housing Complex, Hananou district and al-Anzarat battlefield," they added.

"The Syrian army pushed the terrorists back form al-Brij, South of Handarat region, first and after establishing control over the al-Brij hill and Mojbal al-Nazarat they are now at the gates of Sawq (bazaar) Jom'eh area," the sources stated.

"In a later move, the army soldiers managed to lay siege on the terrorists in Hananou Youth Housing Complex, Hananou and al-Anzarat region from the North and the East."

Earlier reports said that pro-government forces in Syria's Aleppo province are marching on terrorist-held regions in the key city, inflicting major loss and casualties on Jeish al Fatah terrorists in well-concerted advances from the South and Northeast.

Syrian government forces, in fresh round of joint offensives, drove terrorists from Agricultural training center and the regions of al-Mojbal, Katlat al-Rawafe'a, al-Hankarat and al-Ma'amel Northeast of Aleppo city, leaving scores of Jeish al-Fatah terrorists dead or wounded.

A large number of terrorists were also captured in the government forces' operation in Northeastern Aleppo.

Syrian pro-government forces also launched fresh attacks on Jeish al-Fatah's positions in Sheikh Saeed districts to capture al-Marjeh region, field sources said, adding that scores of militants have been killed or wounded in the tough battle underway in Sheikh Saeed.

Military analysts believe that the Syrian army is trying to press the terrorists through multiple fronts from the Northern and Southern directions to eventually launch a crushing attack on their concentrated positions.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950724000751

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Iran Expects New Chief to Revive UN's Lost Role

October 15, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iranian foreign ministry expressed pleasure in the election of Antonio Guterres as the next secretary-general of the United Nations, and urged him to revive the crucial role that the UN should play in the solution of the world's current problems.

"Mr. Guterres is taking this post from his predecessor under such conditions that global peace and security is under serious threat by abundant crises," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Saturday.

Expressing the hope that Guterres would be able to take more steps to restore the rights of the developing nations, he warned that inability to settle the global crises through collective efforts and cooperation under the UN supervision can lead to further unsolvable problems and crises in the world.

"We hope that the new UN secretary-general can retrieve the international organization's lost role on the global scene with firm resolve and tireless efforts," Qassemi added.

Former Portuguese Prime Minister Guterres was officially appointed as the next UN secretary-general.

He will become the world's top diplomat on 1 January when Ban Ki-moon's second five-year term ends.

Guterres, 67, who led the UN refugee agency UNHCR for 10 years, was chosen from among 13 candidates last week.

He said that ending the war in Syria would be his biggest challenge.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950724000672

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Iran Calls for Int'l Cooperation to Block Terrorist Groups' Use of Chemical Weapons

October 15, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Ambassador to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Alireza Jahangiri said Iran, as a major victim of chemical weapons, is opposed to all weapons of mass destruction and seeks international cooperation to confront the terrorist groups' use of such weapons.

"We demand international cooperation for denying access to chemical weapons by the terrorist groups," Jahangiri said, addressing the 83rd session of the Executive Council of the Organization in the Hague on Friday.

He reiterated that the terrorist groups’ use of chemical weapons is a serious threat to the international peace and security, and said, "All member-states should stop providing financial and military support to terrorist groups."

Jahangiri, meantime, underlined the need for complete annihilation of chemical weapons' stockpiles in the world.

He urged all countries possessing such weapons to comply with their commitments to the Convention on Chemical Weapons.

Given the universal nature of the Convention, he also called on non-member states to speedily join the Convention without offering any preconditions.

He also hailed the progress achieved so far in the field of destruction of chemical weapons in Syria and highlighted the need for avoiding political motivations in this regard.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which entered into force in 1997. As of today OPCW has 192 Member States, who are working together to achieve a world free of chemical weapons.

The Council is the executive organ of the Organization and consists of 41 members who are elected by the Conference to serve two-year terms.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950724000740

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Iran: N. Disarmament Highest Priority to Promote Int'l Security

October 15, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Iran to the United Nations Gholamhossein Dehqani underlined that the global nuclear disarmament should be carried out prior to other types of disarmament to help strengthen international security.

"Nuclear disarmament remains the first and foremost priority in the disarmament and international security agenda and the mere existence of nuclear weapons is a source of threat and distrust in international relations," Dehqani said, addressing the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Friday.

He reiterated that the nuclear weapons undermine the Charter-based principle of equal right of all States to peace and security and the foundations of international humanitarian law.

The following is the full text of Dehqani's speech before the United Nations General Assembly First Committee:

Statement by

H.E. Mr. Hossein Dehqani

Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative

of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations

before the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly

New York, 14 October, 2016

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

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to express my warmest congratulations on your election to the Chairmanship of this Committee and assure you of the full cooperation of my delegation. We are happy that this important committee is being held under the guidance of a wise and experienced diplomat from Algeria whose dedicated service to the cause of disarmament is well-known.

My delegation associates itself with the statement made by Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.

We seriously follow the debates on issues on the agenda of this Committee, as they deal with the most important common goods of all nations, i.e. disarmament and international security. As our detailed positions on disarmament issues will be elaborated in thematic debates, I will therefore focus only on certain issues of particular importance to us.

Nuclear disarmament: the highest priority and unfulfilled obligation

Mr. Chairman,

Nuclear disarmament remains the first and foremost priority in the disarmament and international security agenda. The mere existence of nuclear weapons is a source of threat and distrust in international relations. They undermine the Charter-based principle of equal right of all States to peace and security and the foundations of international humanitarian law. Nuclear disarmament is a vital undertaking, because the consequences of inaction can be global catastrophe. Along with reaffirming commitment to nuclear disarmament, action and political will is required to fulfill that objective.   

Full report at:en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950724000626

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India

A Ramlila at India Islamic Centre, RSS Leader Presides

October 15, 2016

New Delhi: This enactment of Ramayana, as if on cue, started precisely at the point Prime Minster Narendra Modi left the narrative this Vijayadashmi.

Even the political symbolism in the choice of venue - India Islamic Centre in Delhi - matched PM’s presence at the Aishbagh Ramlila in Lucknow earlier this week. Completing the allegorical ensemble was the cultural troupe from the country with the largest Muslim population: Indonesia.

The evening performance started with Sita Haran- the kidnapping of Sita. The aged Jatayu- vulture demigod - fights till the very last. He’s the first one to take on the Ravana, the first line of defence against terror- is probably what the Prime Minister meant- his speech replete with imagery and metaphors when he spoke in Lucknow this Tuesday.

But this Indonesian Ramlila has no dialogues. The expression and stage movement of artists tell the story. Only a background score keeps pace with the fast changing drama on stage.

“The message is for our neighbours. Indonesia is a Muslim country and like India all religions are respected there," says Shiram Joshi, closely associated with the function.

Performed by Bali Ranganiketan Cultural Artists, the programme was organised by three NGOs. Under the magnificent dome of the Islamic Cultural Centre this Friday evening, they all sat- foreign diplomats, ochre robed saadhus, Maulanas in shin-length Aligari pyjama. And they all waited with patience. The chief guest was stuck in a traffic snarl on his way from Mewat in adjoining Haryana.

Almost an hour after the stipulated time- Indresh Kumar took his place on the podium and the proceedings began. On his right sat NSA Ajit Doval’s son Shaurya, and alumnus of Chicago University. He, like BJP leader Ram Madhav, is now actively associated with the right-wing think tank India Foundation.

Indresh, a member of the RSS national executive, has been active as pracharak in border states including Jammu and Kashmir. Of late, he and his Muslim Rashtriya Manch have been working among religious minorities.

In his inaugural address, the RSS leader elaborates on Ramlila and its importance in the current context. Pakistan was born on the 14th of August, he says. India, that is Bharat, has had an eternal existence.

In contemporary politics, Indian Muslim or Muslim India was a debate which was started by All India Babri Masjid Action Committee leader Syed Shahabuddin at the peak of the Ram Temple Movement in the late eighties. India Islamic Centre precedes that. Indian Gandhi laid the foundation of the centre just before her assassination in 1984. She had intervened to name it thus as against the proposal to establish an Islamic India Centre in Delhi. Twenty two years later her daughter-in-law, Sonia Gandhi inaugurated the building in 2006.

The temple movement was led by Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Its political benefits accrued on the BJP. The title suit is pending in the Supreme Court. The Uniform Civil Code - part of BJP’s original agenda along with Article 370 - has however resurfaced this autumn. The government has already filed an affidavit stating its view on triple talaaq. Thirty years back, a Congress government at the Centre was caught in a quagmire spiralling out of the Shah Bano Case.

On the sidelines of the function, Indresh Kumar speaks about all these issues.

“The Muslim religious leaders should first try to arrive at a consensus among various groups," he says. “It is a matter related to the rights of eight crore Muslim women in the country."

It’s been a rather eclectic evening. The traffic outside on the Lodhi Road whizzes past as guests leave the venue.

After a long summer one can feel a perceptible nip in the Delhi air.

Source: news18.com/news/india/a-ramlila-at-india-islamic-centre-rss-leader-presides-1301924.html

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J&K Shiv Sena demands surgical strike against Dawood, Hafiz Saeed

October 15, 2016

Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir Shiv Sena on Friday said that another surgical strike should be carry out inside Pakistan to kill underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed and other dreaded terrorist leaders.

“We make a strong appeal to the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to carry out another surgical strike and eliminate Dawood, Hafiz Saeed, JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar and Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin,” state president of Shiv Sena Dimpy Kohli told reporters here.

“Dawood and the three terrorists are living and roaming freely inside Pakistan and are a danger to the entire world,” he said.

Kohli said they are the biggest enemies of peace in India and the world.

Source: siasat.com/news/jk-shiv-sena-demands-surgical-strike-dawood-hafiz-saeed-2-1041907/

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Uniform Civil Code: Both govt and AIMPLB should let Supreme Court do its job

Oct 15, 2016

I had done this a dozen times over the years, explaining to curious friends that there’s no such thing as triple talaq. This was the narrative I grew up with at home, and reinforced repeatedly while reading age-appropriate religious books, the photocopied and well-devoured Most Common Questions Asked to Muslims, at Islamic discussion forums, and in Qur’an translations and commentaries. I would be almost too pleased to enunciate the process of divorce in Islam, for it seemed perfect to me: Thought out, deliberated, arbitrated, waiting time to understand the finality of the decision (three months), and three opportunities at reconciliation. “It is almost like how the courts of law prescribe it,” I would say.

In a parallel universe, dark and dysfunctional, Shayara Bano suffered at the hands of her husband and in-laws, living in fear of "three words". Her truth was different from mine.

Multiple tabs have stayed open on browsers on all my gadgets for weeks now; news articles, opinion pieces, research papers, religious annotations… It’s as if closing them would mean that their sound reasoning would be lost with it. Because the world outside the screen doesn’t look much like what I thought it was; Shayara and my worlds are colliding, and I am forced to face her reality.

Why is the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) being stubborn to not ban triple talaq? Surely the muftis, who are approached with absurd instances of unilateral divorce (worse still, via SMS and post) call it out on its erroneous nature. What recourse do bereft Muslim women have against their husbands, and men in the family, for such blatant misappropriation of their rights and dignity? Why is Flavia Agnes on the other side?

Mufti Abdul Rashid was kind enough to not get offended when I tried to push past his resilience towards simplifying the issue for me. Unilateral divorce is inappropriate, even sinful, but valid according most Islamic schools of jurisprudence. Legal Islamic precedents exist to this effect, and just as the Supreme Court judges rely on former judgments (what we call landmark rulings, like the Shah Bano’s), so do the muftis.

The only silver lining I could take back with me was that most muftis do not hide their displeasure when families approach them for a religious ruling on the validity of triple talaq, after it’s pronounced.

They agree with the internationally acclaimed Mufti Ismail Menk, that a couple be made aware of the rules and procedures of divorce when they decide to get married. The inimitable Menk took the opportunity to talk about it at a nikah ceremony once, much to the chagrin of the host family, he confessed.

Apparently, talking about the ‘D’ word at all is considered a taboo, not pronouncing it out loud, ‘three times’, without much thought, some scholars harrumphed.

It was easier to understand the complexities of Islamic rulings than to fathom ‘the’ Flavia Agnes ending on the same side as the “anti-women” Muslim Personal Law Board. Women’s rights lawyer Agnes made it clear that she wasn’t impressed with the PIL. I learn, so is advocate Nilofer Akhtar, who specialises in personal laws. A leading family court lawyer, Akhtar was part of the team that drafted the model nikahnama, and was among those who began the conversation on talaq-e-tafveez (women’s right to divorce) in India. She points out that instant triple talaq already has no standing in the courts. “There are enough landmark judgments, like the Shamim Ara judgment in 2002, where the court held that a Muslim man does not have a unilateral right to divorce his wife by triple talaq and had to provide good reasons for a divorce. The premise for taking the plea to ban it in courts is a misplaced advice.”

Both lawyers feel that the battle is to create awareness against wrong practices, and insist that enough legal recourse is already available for Muslim women victims of talaq in an instant, and other indignities. It was Agnes’ piece (also appeared on Scroll.in enumerating these remedies that earned her the displeasure of the liberals in the first place. It’s easy to understand why. These remedies were take-ways from the AIMPLB’s affidavit to the SC. Well, I think it was a clever move. Making it the Board’s word would have a farther reaching effect among the community, than outreaches by the courts, and especially the current government.

Agnes, Akhtar, PB Sawant, a former SC judge, and many other matrimonial lawyers, are standing on the same side as the archaic and patriarchal AIMPLB, because they see BJP’s push to ban tripe talaq, polygamy and bring in the Uniform Civil Code as politically motivated. Let’s not overlook this either.

Since forever, the majority’s idea of governments has been of two kinds: “One that appeases Muslims” and “one that can reign them in” (whatever this means!). The current government’s act to care for Muslims, has rather scared them a lot.

AIMPLB has begun a signature campaign, asking women of the community if they want Shariah law or UCC governing their matters. In Mumbai, the exercise kick-started on 3 October. While speaking to a member of the AIMPLB, I inquired of their sample size. "We plan to take the signature campaign all over India," the office bearer said with fervour and that hit me hard. In a rare moment, I held back the urge to snap, and bit down the words I wanted to say. I write them here: If you can put into action man and machinery for this, why not use it to create awareness among the community about the Shariah prescribed method for divorce, educate on polygamy and the immorality of the way halala is put to practice instead.

That the board almost banned "instant" triple talaq in 2004, and initiated conversation on the model nikahnama eight years ago, may show that it has a will to reform undesirable social practices. That it hasn’t yet, shows it has no spine.

I want the triple talaq banned, and I am not entirely averse to the idea of a UCC. I realise reforms are acceptable to Muslims, but not when they are by a BJP-led government. The Dadri lynching incident and our Prime Minister’s convenient silence on it, the Kairana controversy, and more recently, the news of the tricolour wrapped casket for the funeral of Dadri-lynching accused, paint a picture of the government’s complicity in the anti-Muslim rhetoric. Surely, we are not blind to it. Or fools. Like one woman office bearer of a Muslim trust said to me, "I love my country, but I cannot be blind to the past and the present of the people in the government and their agenda."

I cannot disregard the sentiments of the majority of the Muslim community. Neither should the government. Take the Muslims along, the formula has to be integration, not oppression. We need to right what Shayara Bano’s PIL points out. For a start, I think one Mumbai man — Abdul Razzak Maniyar — has shown the way. Posters discouraging triple talaq at city mosques is a wonderful idea. The AIMPLB and the government minorities panel can both get cracking on this one.

The government should perhaps slow down to analyse the stakes if it cares to not burn bridges with the community, but the board should not. It’s already too late in the day. We cannot want both: Right to personal law, and the right to not understand and follow it correctly, because unilateral divorce is not prescribed in the Qur’an. Let the Supreme Court do their job, and you do yours.

Source: firstpost.com/india/uniform-civil-code-both-govt-and-aimplb-should-let-supreme-court-do-its-job-3053470.html

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Mideast

Turkey-backed Syrian rebel forces attack ISIL's Dabiq

October 15, 2016

Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters began an attack on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)-held village of Dabiq in northwestern Syria on Oct. 15, a rebel commander involved in the campaign and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

However, Turkish military sources said the operation to take Dabiq had started earlier this month and that while air and artillery strikes were targeting the village, there were no new developments on the ground on Oct. 15.

Dabiq is symbolically important to the jihadist group because it is the site of an apocalyptic Islamic prophesy, and ISIL has stationed around 1,200 of its fighters there said the Observatory, a Britain-based war monitor.

Euphrates Shield, the campaign by Turkey and allied Syrian rebels to clear ISIL from areas along the border between the two countries began in August. Dabiq and another village, Soran, are in a pocket mostly surrounded by territory gained by the Turkey-backed rebels after recent advances.

A rebel commander in the Euphrates Shield operation said the attack on Dabiq had started on Oct. 15 morning and the Observatory said the rebels backed by Turkish tanks and warplanes had begun their attack on the village's environs.

However, the Turkish military sources said the operation was ongoing.

"The operation for Dabiq started 10 days ago. We started the effort to take control of the region from the south. Daesh (ISIL) targets are being hit by Turkish fighter jets and artillery" one of them said.

According to Islamic tradition, Dabiq will be the site of a final battle between Muslims and infidels heralding Doomsday, a prophesy that the jihadist group had encouraged its supporters to regard as imminent and named one of its publications "Dabiq".

However, in a recent edition of its al-Naba online publication, ISIL appeared to step back from that position, saying that the coming battle for Dabiq between it and the Turkey-backed rebels was not the one in the prophesy.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-backed-syrian-rebel-forces-attack-isils-dabiq.aspx?pageID=238&nID=104997&NewsCatID=352

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Turkey has its plan-B if excluded from Mosul operation: Erdoğan

October 14, 2016

Turkey has contingency plans in place if an international coalition does not wish to include it in an upcoming operation to take Iraq’s Mosul from jihadists, the Turkish president has said.

“We are determined to take our place in the coalition forces for the sake of Iraq’s unity and solidarity in Iraq. If the coalition forces do not want Turkey, then we will put our Plan B into force,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said during a speech in the Central Anatolian province of Konya on Oct. 14.

“If that also does not work, then our Plan C will go into force. The Turkish state is not a tribalistic state. Everyone should know this,” added Erdoğan.

A row recently erupted between Ankara and Baghdad due to the presence of Turkish troops in northern Iraq in order to train Iraqi troops in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) at a camp in Bashiqa, which is 20 kilometers east of Mosul.

The Iraqi parliament sent a diplomatic note to Turkey’s ambassador on Oct. 4 that declared the troops’ presence there to be illegal, after which Turkey summoned Iraq’s ambassador in Ankara the following day.

Turkey says Iraq invited their troops to come to Iraq to train fighters, but Iraq has denied such claims.

Meanwhile, Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar was scheduled to visit the United States on Oct. 14 in order to participate in a meeting of the anti-ISIL coalition, according to military sources.

The top commanders of the anti-ISIL coalition forces last convened six months ago.

A planned operation to drive ISIL out of Mosul in Iraq is expected to start within a few days. A Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News that around 1,500 of the 3,000 Turkish-trained forces are expected to participate in the Mosul offensive under the command of the Iraqi army.

Ahead of the Mosul operation, Turkey and Iraq, with the facilitation of the U.S., have been negotiating the mandate of the Turkish forces in the Bashiqa camp in northern Iraq, the official stated. 

Sources familiar with meetings between Turkey and the U.S. over the Mosul operation told state-run Anadolu Agency that Turkish-trained fighters at the Bashiqa camp would join the upcoming operation in Mosul. 

Fighters in Bashiqa will join Iraqi government forces and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) fighters, known as peshmerga, said the sources who wished to remain anonymous.       

US opposes PKK involvement in Mosul operation

The U.S. is opposed to the participation of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the campaign to liberate Mosul, the U.S. State Department said Oct. 13.

“We clearly view the PKK as a terrorist organization, so we would not be supporting them” as part of the Mosul campaign, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said during a daily press briefing.

According to Toner, the U.S. distinguishes the PKK from the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), and other Kurdish groups in the region. Toner reiterated the U.S.’ stance that they made a “clear delineation” between the PKK, which the U.S. designates as a terror organization and the PYD, which is fighting ISIL on the ground.

Although Turkey and the U.S. have the same position on the PKK, they differ about the PYD.    

Ankara considers the PYD an extension of the PKK but the U.S. describes the group as a “reliable partner” on the ground in Syria.

When Toner was asked whether the U.S. would continue to support the Mosul campaign if the Iraqi government wanted to include the PKK among its troops, he declined to comment, saying it was a hypothetical question.       

Turkish presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın expressed concerns on Oct. 13 about the PKK taking advantage of the Mosul operation and trying to extend its territory in northern Iraq.       

Regarding the Turkish troops deployed at Iraq’s Bashiqa camp, Toner reiterated that all anti-ISIL efforts in Iraq should be done in coordination with the Iraqi government.

Meanwhile, a U.S. State Department official told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity on Oct. 13 that Turkish forces had entered Iraq with Baghdad’s consent.

The Turkish military “began to train some of these forces on the ground at the invitation of the Iraqi government,” according to the official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.      

The official stressed that as long as Turkish forces continue to have the consent of Iraq’s government, their presence there is “fine.”       

“They need to be coordinated with the Iraqi government,” the source said.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-has-its-plan-b-if-excluded-from-mosul-operation-erdogan.aspx?pageID=238&nID=104978&NewsCatID=352

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Protestant pastor of İzmir church faces deportation from Turkey

October 14, 2016

A Protestant pastor and his wife, who have been living in Turkey for 20 years, are due to be deported over alleged missionary activities said to be “against national security.”

İzmir Resurrection Church Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson and his wife Norine Lyn Brunson were sent a note by İzmir police after the İzmir Immigration Authority issued a notification on Sept. 28 for their deportation, after their religious activities were alleged to be “against national security.”  

The couple went to the police station on Oct. 7 and they are currently being held there until their deportation.

The Brunson family is accused of carrying out missionary activities in Turkey and receiving foreign funds to pursue such alleged actions.

Back in April 2011, Brunson was attacked by a local man while he was in the yard of a church in İzmir. The assailant had reportedly shouted during the attack that he would bomb a church in the nearby province of Manisa, from which he had come to carry out the attack. He was later acquitted of charges of being a member of al-Qaeda.

Meanwhile, the Turkey Association of Protestant Churches announced last week that the Protestant Bridge of Life Church had been closed down by the authorities for allegedly providing unlawful language education.

In another incident, a foreign member of the Ankara Salvation Church was reportedly notified ahead of a trip overseas that his residence permit had been cancelled.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/protestant-pastor-of-izmir-church-faces-deportation-from-turkey.aspx?pageID=238&nID=104969&NewsCatID=393

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Referendum on presidency could be held in early 2017: Minister

October 14, 2016

A referendum on the country’s new charter, which stipulates the adoption of an executive presidential system, could be held in early 2017 if two parties settle on the terms, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has said.

“If parliament puts [the constitutional charter] on its agenda and makes a decision at once, [the referendum] will be held in 2017, no later than the spring. But it seems difficult to complete it before 2017 since there is a legislative process in the parliament,” he said in a televised interview on Oct. 14.

“We have a very short, two-and-a-half month period ahead of us, but to get it done in 2017, before the spring, seems manageable as long as the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) agree on a date for the parliamentary vote,” he said.

“When the two parties agree, we will see the referendum. If not, [the constitutional change] will be left as a discussion,” Bozdağ added.

In his first statement after MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli hinted he could support a referendum on a presidential system, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said public opinion surveys indicated that the Turkish people favored the adoption of an executive presidential system. 

Calling on political parties to bring the proposition to a public vote, Erdoğan said: “I am telling the political parties in the parliament that if ‘the sovereignty rests unconditionally with the nation,’ then let’s bring it to the nation. If my people say yes, then we will celebrate it and take a step to the presidential system.”

In response to main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) concerns that opening a debate about the system could cause instability, the president said, “Political parties taking an initiative for a new constitution and a presidential system will not weaken political parties; on the contrary, it will make them stronger.”

Although Bahçeli’s words pleased the AKP, whose ultimate goal is to change the system, there are still unclear points about the nationalist leader’s real intention. Bozdağ indicated that they interpreted Bahçeli’s proposal as genuine and that other political calculations would be futile.

“From Bahçeli’s comments, I have an understanding that he would back the presidential system proposal in the parliamentary process,” Bozdağ said.

“I see a great benefit in discussing this with the MHP since there is a possibility of this party’s support in the voting process. Of course, the AKP will make the final decision on the scope of the proposal to be presented to the public vote as to whether it will include just a presidential system or will be a wide-ranged one,” he added.

Text to be finalized in 10 days

Mustafa Şentop, the chairman of the constitutional commission in parliament and an AKP deputy, also indicated spring 2017 as a date for a possible referendum if 330 deputies agree on the constitutional change.

In a televised interview on late Oct. 12, Şentop stated that a new constitutional amendment draft could be finalized in one week or 10 days. Elaborating on the road map if a popular referendum favors a presidential system, he said there were a number of possible course of action, including passing a temporary article to pave the way for a transition period or an election could come to the agenda.

MHP: Bahçeli did not favor presidential system

Although remarks by Bahçeli were interpreted as covert support in the parliamentary vote for a constitutional amendment, some MHP parliamentarians stressed that Bahçeli may aim to close the discussion on a presidential regime shift by voting against the AKP’s proposal in parliament.

Bahçeli did not say he supported a presidential system but favors the continuation and strengthening of the parliamentarian system, MHP deputy group chairman Erkan Akçay told reporters on Oct. 14

Prime minister to meet with party leaders

The AKP plans to meet with party leaders to discuss the scope of the constitutional amendment and presidential system next week, the AKP’s executive board has decided, with Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım expected to lead separate meetings.

The MHP’s position about the presidential vote in parliament will be determined after discussions to be held with MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli.

Any constitutional amendment necessitates at least 367 votes out of 550 parliamentary representatives; if a proposal garners 330 or more votes, then the charter has to be presented to the public in a referendum.

The AKP holds 316 seats in parliament and requires at least 14 additional votes to be able to put any constitutional amendment to a referendum.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/referendum-on-presidency-could-be-held-in-early-2017-minister.aspx?pageID=238&nID=104986&NewsCatID=338

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Gülenists ‘took Escobar’s financial structure as an example’

October 14, 2016

The movement of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen took drug lord Pablo Escobar’s financial structure as an example, Police Academy Vice President Professor Şafak Ertan has told a parliamentary commission formed to investigate the July 15 failed coup attempt, believed to have been orchestrated by the Gülenists.

“They [Gülenists] took Escobar’s financial structure as an example,” Ertan said Oct. 13.

“This organization used the term ‘movement’ as a cover. There are official documents saying that this is a criminal organization. If the document hadn’t been found, we wouldn’t have been able to talk about these today. It structured itself in the 1980s seeing today’s conditions. We took the documents from a cistern that they forgot,” he said.

Ertan, who was among the first figures that the commission consulted, noted that the Gülenists also took the Society of Jesus as an example when they were structuring themselves financially.

The commission, which was formed and approved by parliament, decided who to listen to and question on Oct. 13, while also outlining a timetable for the commission’s meetings.

The commission is made up of deputies from all four of Turkey’s political parties with seats in parliament. It held its first meeting on Oct. 7.

Nine lawmakers from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), four lawmakers from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), one lawmaker from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and one lawmaker from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were named to the commission.

Meanwhile, some 189 detention orders were issued on Oct. 14 for judges and prosecutors as part of an ongoing probe into the Gülen movement on suspicions that they were using the ByLock program, a messaging application that is said to have been used by the group for concealed conversations, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.

Police conducted searches at the Ankara courthouse and the Court of Appeals as part of the operation.

The suspected judges and prosecutors worked at the Justice Ministry and courthouses across the country, while some were investigation judges at the Court of Appeals and the Council of State.

Separately, an Istanbul court ordered the release of three generals and an admiral early on Oct. 14, marking the first release of high-ranking soldiers as part of the ongoing investigation into thwarted coup.

The court ordered the release of Maj. Gen. Veli Yıldırım, Brig. Şener Yazıcıoğlu, Brig. Ali Akyürek and Rear Adm. Ömer Mesut Ak on the grounds of a lack of evidence despite the suspicion that they cooperated with the coup plotters.

The Istanbul 5th Criminal Court of Peace initially rejected the demands for release by Yıldırım, Yazıcıoğlu and Ak.

However, the Istanbul 6th Criminal Court of Peace later ordered the release of the three soldiers following the lawyers’ appeal.

According to the court decision, there was no proof of the fact that the troops commanded by the generals participated in the coup attempt, although their names were included on a list of generals that would have overseen the imposition of martial law if the coup had been successful.

It also noted there were suspicions that the soldiers cooperated with the putschists but that the decision was made to release them given that they have permanent residences.

Yıldırım was forced into retirement in the Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) meeting convened after the attempted takeover.

Ak was also dismissed from the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) following a decree law issued under the state of emergency.

Elsewhere, Education Ministry have suspended a total of 2,400 teachers over suspected FETÖ links. Thousands of teachers were previously suspended.

Meanwhile, Adil Öksüz, the Gülen movement’s “imam” of the Air Force and a suspected leader of the coup attempt, visited Ankara 12 times between December 2015 and July 2016.

“Imam,” which traditionally refers to a religious public official, is a term used by the Gülenist organization to mark local leadership.

According to the investigations, Öksüz, who was briefly detained before being released after the coup bid, sometimes hid the faces of the people with whom he visited Ankara.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/gulenists-took-escobars-financial-structure-as-an-example.aspx?pageID=238&nID=104971&NewsCatID=509

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Kremlin says Putin, Erdoğan discussed Russian air defense supplies to Turkey

October 14, 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently discussed possible supplies of Russian air defense systems to Ankara, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Oct. 14.

“They mentioned various anti-missile systems, the supplies of which in different variations Russia could consider if there was such a wish on Turkey’s side,” Reuters quoted Peskov as telling reporters on Oct. 14 in the Armenian capital Yerevan.

Peskov was referring to the meeting between the two leaders during Putin’s recent visit to a world energy congress in Istanbul on Oct. 10.

Putin was in Yerevan to attend a meeting of the CSTO Collective Security Council, also attended by the heads of state of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Armenia.

Relations between Ankara and Moscow were recently normalized after hitting a low following Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet along its border with Syria on Nov. 24, 2015, citing air space violations.

Russia denied the violations and in retaliation placed a series of bans on Turkish goods and travel to Turkey.

Strained ties were fixed over the summer after Erdoğan sent a letter to Putin stating his regret over the incident.

The two leaders have since then met three times, firstly in St. Petersburg in mid-August, then in China early September on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit and most recently in Istanbul on Oct. 10 on the sidelines of the 23rd World Energy Congress.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/kremlin-says-putin-erdogan-discussed-russian-air-defense-supplies-to-turkey.aspx?pageID=238&nID=104983&NewsCatID=353

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Turkey Establishes Airbase in Iraq

October 15, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Local sources disclosed that Turkey has built a military airbase in Northern Iraq, amid escalating tensions in relations between Baghdad and Ankara.

"Turkey has set up a military airbase in Iraq which is located in al-Emadiyeh near the city of Dahuk in the Iraqi Kurdistan region," the sources said on Saturday.

Earlier reports also said that Turkey is building an airbase in Northern Iraq without the knowledge of the central government in Baghdad.

Images taken by field sources in Iraq displayed construction of an illegal airbase named 'Bamerne' by the Turkish army in Northern Iraq.

The reports said that the airbase was being built at the geographical coordinates of 37°05′52″N and 43°15′58″E which corresponds to a region in Dahuk, Northern Iraq.

Tensions between Turkey and Iraq appear to be at boiling point after the Iraqi prime minister condemned Ankara’s participation in retaking the ISIL-held city of Mosul. The Turkish president had previously told the Iraqi prime minister “to know his limits”.

"We will liberate our land through the determination of our men and not by video calls," Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi tweeted late on Tuesday night.

The mocking message was an apparent reference to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's appearance via a nationally broadcast video call to a TV reporter amid a failed coup attempt in July.

Earlier on Tuesday, Erdogan said that Turkish forces must take part in the much-anticipated operation to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul, currently held by the ISIL terrorists.

The Turkish leader then drove his point home in even stronger terms.

"The Iraqi prime minister is insulting me, first know your limits," he told a gathering of Islamic leaders in Istanbul.

"You are not my interlocutor, you are not at my level, you are not my equivalent, you are not of the same quality as me," Erdogan said, addressing al-Abadi's criticism of the Turkish military presence on Iraq's territory. "Your screaming and shouting in Iraq is of no importance to us. You should know that we will go our own way."

Turkey-Iraq relations have been at an impasse since last December, when Ankara deployed troops to the region of Bashiqa, Northeast of Mosul, with a stated goal of anti-ISIL training.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950724000575

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South Asia

ISIS plans to deploy 7,000 fighters in North of Afghanistan: Dostum

Sat Oct 15 2016

The First Vice President General Abdul Rashid Dostum has said the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group plans to deploy at least 7,000 fighters in northern parts of the country.

Gen. Dostum made the remarks upon his arrival in northern Faryab province to supervise counter-terrorism operations following the fall of Ghormach district last week.

He said the ISIS terrorist group is attempting to deploy foreign militants mainly citizens of Syria, Iraq, Lebannon, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Chechnya.

The First Vice President further added that the Taliban group should be initially defeated in the norther parts of the country in a bid to pave the way for the establishment of strong posts for the security forces to fight the ISIS loyalists.

The remarks by General Dostum come as the Afghan and US forces are busy conducting counter-terrorism operations in eastern Nangarhar province from where the terror group initially launched its operatins.

The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) launched a major operation in Nangarhar to suppress the activities of ISIS loyalists in mid-July this year.

The US forces also provided support to the Afghan forces during the operation conducted in Kot, Achin and parts of the province where ISIS loyalists were conducting insurgency.

The US forces resumed operations against ISIS loyalists after the Obama administration granted them broader role to combat the terror groups in Afghanistan.

Source: khaama.com/isis-plans-to-deploy-7000-fighters-in-north-of-afghanistan-dostum-02081

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Afghan forces release 50 prisoners from Taliban jail in Ghazni

Sat Oct 15 2016

The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) released at least 50 prisoners from a Taliban jail in southeastern Ghazni province of Afghanistan.

According to the local security officials, the prisoners were released during an operation conducted in Geru district of Ghazni.

Ghazni police chief General Aminullah Amarkhel confirmed that an operation was conducted on a Taliban prison in Geru district and several prisoners were released.

He said the Taliban insurgents had kept the civilians on charges of supporting the government and security forces.

According to Gen. Amarkhel several weapons and ammunition were also confiscated during the operation but no further details were given regarding the casualties incurred to both sides during the operation.

The Taliban militants group has not commented regarding the report so far.

Ghazni is among the relatively volatile provinces in southeastern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgents and militants belonging to other insurgent groups are actively operating in some of its districts.

This comes as the Afghan forces released scores of prisoners kept inside a Taliban prison in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan few months earlier.

Source: khaama.com/afghan-forces-release-50-prisoners-from-taliban-jail-in-ghazni-02079

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Afghan CEO to visit Saudi Arabia on official invitation of king Salman

Sat Oct 15 2016

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah will leave for a 3-day state visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to meet the country’s officials and discuss issues of bilateral interest.

The officials in CEO’s office have confirmed the visit and said the Chief Executive Officer will visit the country on official invitation of King Salman.

Deputy CEO spokesman, Javid Faisal, said CEO Abdullah will accompanied by a delegation of the Afghan officials during his visit to Riyadh.

According to the officials, the Aghan peace process would top the agenda during CEO Abdullah’s visit to Saudi Arabia.

No further details have been given regarding the exact date of the travel of cEO Abdullah to Saudi Arabia.

In the meantime, the officials in CEO’s office have also said the Chief Executive Officer will also visit Pakistan in the near future to meet the country’s officials.

The officials further added that CEO Abdullah will visit Islamabad on official invitation of the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

According to reports, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif extended invitation to CEO Abdullah for at least three times in the past to visit Islamabad.

Source: khaama.com/afghan-ceo-to-visit-saudi-arabia-on-official-invitation-of-king-salman-02080

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Major Afghanistan upheavals discussed in Moscow conference

Sat Oct 15 2016

An international conference was organized in Moscow, the capital city of Russia last week to discuss the latest upheavals in Afghanistan amid concerns that the instability in Central Asia and Afghanistan could affect the national interests of Russia.

The conference, Political Instability in Afghanistan in the Fall of 2016: A threat to Afghanistan and Regional countries, was organized by Gumilev Center and was attended by representatives of Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Germany, and Afghanistan.

The director of the Center Pavel Zarifullin said they have covering the upheavals in Afghanistan, emphasizing that the situation in Central Asia and in particular, Afghanistan will have a direct impact on the national interests of Russia, particularly pointing towards a growth in violence by terror groups and rise in opium cultivation and smuggle.

A Russian Senator Franz Adamovich admitted that Russia is not having enough influence in Afghanistan considering the bilateral relations between Moscow and Washington but emphasized that the Afghans are not independent in key decision makings.

Insisting on the importance of Afghans’ major role in key decision makings, the Russian senator said the unprecedented experience of Russia in Eurasia and its historic coexistence in the region with various traditions could be vital for Afghanistan.

The former deputy minister of Afghan parliamentary affairs Sayed Qutbuddin Roydar insisted on a proper condition for the channeling of foreign aid to the country and close cooperation of the regional countries for economic development of the country, noting that 42 percent of the Afghan population lives under the line of poverty.

He also emphasized on the important role the Russia could play to fight the opium cultivation and drug trafficking in the country.

afghanistan-conference-moscow2

The other issue discussed during the conference was the recent peace deal signed between the Afghan government and Hezb-e-Islami led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar where the participants including the media activists offered their views, mainly supporting the agreement to find a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict in the country.

However, a Russian analyst, Alexandar Keniazev, expressed concerns regarding the return of the Afghan refugees from the tribal regions of Pakistan, emphasizing that a major return could create social issues for the government besides the integration of the party could leave fewer opportunities for the Taliban group.

Khalil Ahmad Fitri, representing Pajhwok Afghan News in the conference, said there was no other option than sealing a peace agreement with Hezb-e-Islami which he believes will give new hope for the Afghan people for a peaceful life. However, he insisted on supporting the government’s central infrastructures to prevent the spread of extremism in the country.

Abdul Khaliq Hussaini, representing Khaama Press in the conference, however insisted on constructive role China and Russia could play to boost the economy of the country besides encouraging the militant groups to join peace process, proposing a comprehensive effort to fight terrorism in consolidation with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Aziz Aryanfar, the former Afghan Ambassador to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, offered a broader analysis of the ongoing violence in the country, insisting that the Afghan conflict is mainly dependent on resolution of international issues between NATO, China and Russia, as well conflicts between India, Pakistan, Iran, Gulf countries, and Turkey.

Source: khaama.com/major-afghanistan-upheavals-discussed-in-moscow-conference-02078

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Afghanistan to open Consulate in Hyderabad city of India

Sat Oct 15 2016

Afghanistan will open a Consulate in Hyderabad city of India in a bid to help expand bilateral ties between the two nations at difference levels, it has been reported.

The Afghan Ambassador to India Shaida Mohammad Abdali has said the main focus of the Consulate will be to expand facilities for educatin, healthcare, trade and business.

He was addressing members of industry bodies FICCI and FTAPCCI during a gathering on Friday, according to the local newspapers.

“We are going to soon send a delegation to Hyderabad to look for a place for the Consulate,” he told reporters.

According to The Hindu newspaper, Afghanistan, which now has its Embassy in Delhi and a Consulate in Mumbai, proposes to have a commercial attache office in Kolkata.

Ambassador Abdali said there are 1,000 Afghanistan students in the city and the scope for growing trade and business is good as he highlighted the significance of the Consulate in Hyderabad.

The bilateral trade now is around $700 million and he expected it to touch $1 billion in a few years.

Once the Consulate opens there is a possibility of airlines operating services between Kabul and Hyderabad, he said, adding air carriers at present only linked Kabul and Delhi.

Source: khaama.com/afghanistan-to-open-consulate-in-hyderabad-city-of-india-02077

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Southeast Asia

Malaysia has deported three Gülenists, says Turkish FM

October 15, 2016

Three wanted members of the Gülen movement, believed to be behind Turkey’s July 15 coup attempt, were deported from Malaysia on Oct. 13, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Oct. 14.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of a hospital in Antalya, Çavuşoğlu said Malaysia sent back to Turkey three members of the group who took refuge in the country.

He noted that the deportations come just before the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is set to recognize the Gülenists as a terrorist group, following the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) Oct. 13 addition of the Gülen movement to its terrorist organizations list.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/malaysia-has-deported-three-gulenists-says-turkish-fm-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=104984&NewsCatID=509

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Myanmar blames Islamist group for attacks in Rohingya Muslim region

Sat, 15 Oct 2016

The 1.1 million Rohingya living in Myanmar's Rakhine state face discrimination, severe restrictions on their movements and access to services.

Myanmar's government said on Friday a group inspired by Islamist militants was behind attacks on police border posts in its ethnically riven northwest, as officials said they feared a new insurgency by members of the Rohingya Muslim minority.

The sudden escalation of violence in Rakhine state poses a serious challenge to the six-month-old government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, who was swept to power in an election in 2015 but has faced criticism abroad for failing to tackle rights abuses against the Rohingya and other Muslims.

A statement from the office of Myanmar's President Htin Kyaw blamed the little-known "Aqa Mul Mujahidin" for recent attacks around Maungdaw Township, a mainly Muslim area near the frontier with Bangladesh.

"They persuade the young people using religious extremism, and they have financial support from outside," said the Burmese language statement. "They are broadcasting their videos on the Internet like ISIS, Taliban and al Qaeda. They now have 400 insurgents fighting in Maungdaw region."

Several videos showing armed men speaking the language of the mostly stateless Rohingya have circulated online this week. Reuters has not been able to verify the authenticity of the videos, but government officials say they believe they show the perpetrators of the attacks that began on October 9.

The 1.1 million Rohingya living in Rakhine state face discrimination, severe restrictions on their movements and access to services, especially since inter-communal violence in 2012 that displaced 125,000 people. The Rohingya are not among the 135 ethnic groups officially recognised in Myanmar, where many in the Buddhist majority regard them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Suu Kyi, who is barred from the presidency by the constitution but leads Myanmar's first democratically elected government in decades as "State Counsellor", has appointed former United Nations chief Kofi Annan to head a panel to propose solutions to Rakhine state's problems.

NEW KIND OF CONFLICT

Information Minister Pe Myint, who visited Maungdaw Township this week, said the dramatic escalation in violence "may affect the work we've been doing for Rakhine State".

"Previously there has been riots and conflict between the communities. Now there is armed conflict," he told reporters in the state capital, Sittwe, on Friday. "The nature of the conflict has changed."

Officials have said hundreds of men - some armed with automatic weapons and others with sticks and swords - launched coordinated assaults against three border posts in the early hours of October 9, killing nine police officers and wounding five.

In response, the military has poured troops into northern Rakhine State to search for attackers, who made off with dozens of weapons and more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition. Suu Kyi has told security forces to use caution and follow the law in their response. Her civilian administration does not have oversight over the powerful military, which has designated the area an "operation zone".

At least 26 people have been killed by security forces in what state media described as skirmishes with armed attackers and in which four soldiers were also killed. Human rights groups say they have evidence that extrajudicial killings may have taken place.

Researchers and aid workers in Rakhine State have consistently reported that the vast majority of Rohingya have no interest in resorting to violence. "We don't appreciate terrorism. It's not the solution," said Kyaw Hla Aung, a Rohingya community leader in Sittwe.

MILITANT LINKS

The statement from the Myanmar president's office said interrogations with suspects captured after the attacks had revealed links with militants in Pakistan. The ringleader was a 45-year-old who has lived in Bangladesh and spent six months training with the Pakistani Taliban, it said.

The statement added that the Aqa Mul Mujahidin - the name of which could not be found in any previous news reports online - was linked to the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO), an armed group that has long been assumed defunct.

The military-run newspaper Myawady had earlier said soldiers had recovered "RSO flags and RSO badges" in Maungdaw. In one of the videos posted online, a man dressed in black calls for "the Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine to all come out and join the jihad", according to Reuters' translation.

In a second video, the same man appears to reference the Myanmar military's helicopters, which have been hunting the attackers, as he encourages the armed men surrounding him to welcome martyrdom.

A third video shows a long column of men armed with swords and rifles marching in damp, rugged terrain. The weapons in the videos match those taken from border police, officials said.

The possible emergence of an insurgency involving Rohingyas has already been seized upon by Buddhist nationalists. Wirathu, a Buddhist monk known for his anti-Muslim preaching, has posted graphic images of the slain police on Facebook.

Source: dnaindia.com/world/report-myanmar-blames-islamist-group-for-attacks-in-rohingya-muslim-region-2264262

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Indonesian hardliners oppose Christian governor’s re-election bid

Sat, 15 Oct 2016

JAKARTA: Thousands of Muslim hardliners protested in Jakarta on Friday demanding the Indonesian capital’s Christian governor be executed for allegedly insulting Islam, as he faces an increasingly tight election race.

About 10,000 demonstrators wearing white Islamic robes and skullcaps rallied outside city hall in the capital of the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, waving banners that read: “The blasphemer must be prosecuted”.

The protest was triggered by accusations Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known by his nickname Ahok, insulted Islam by criticising opponents ahead of the February polls.

“Ahok must be executed. According to Islamic teaching, he must be killed,” Emed Muhammad, a hardline opponent of the governor, told the cheering protesters.

“Jakarta is now being governed by an infidel, but Indonesia has the biggest Muslim population.”

Source: dawn.com/news/1290070/indonesian-hardliners-oppose-christian-governors-re-election-bid

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Myanmar Says Islamic Terrorist Organization Behind Deadly Border Raids in Rakhine State

Sat, 15 Oct 2016

The Myanmar government said Friday that an extremist Islamic terrorist organization whose leader was trained by the Taliban in Pakistan carried out violent weekend attacks on three border guard posts near the border of Bangladesh in restive Rakhine state’s Maungdaw and Rathedaung townships.

More than 40 border guards, attackers, and soldiers have died since the initial raids on the border posts on Sunday, and hundreds of residents have fled to neighboring townships such as Buthidaung to escape subsequent clashes between security forces and armed men.

Army soldiers and border police have conducted security sweeps of villages in Maungdaw, searching the homes of Rohingya Muslims for the attackers and stolen weapons.

Interrogations of two attackers who were caught and another two who were handed over to Myanmar security forces by Bangladesh have revealed that the attacks were carried out by Aqa Mul Mujahidin, an Islamic organization active in Maungdaw, a statement issued by President Htin Kyaw’s office said.

“According to the findings of the interrogations, the attacks in Maungdaw were intended to promote extremist violent ideology among the majority Muslim population in the area,” the statement said. “Using Maungdaw as a foothold, this was an attempt to take over the areas of Maungdaw and [nearby] Buthidaung [township].”

The organization’s leader Havistoohar is a “religious and social extremist’ believed to be about 45 years old from Kyaukpyinseik village in Maungdaw, who previously participated in a six-month Taliban training course in Pakistan, it said.

He pretended to be a refugee and frequently went to a village near Teknef in Bangladesh, where he received funding from organizations and extremist individuals in the Middle East, it said.

“The funding was not provided by particular organizations, but was provided secretly through contacts between individuals,” the statement said.

Havistoohar worked with a Pakistani named Kalis who had also participated in terrorist training at a camp in Pakistan. About five month ago, he had arranged for Kalis to go to Maungdaw to conduct armed training classes for local extremist youth whom Havistoohar had mobilized, the statement said.

Linked to the RSO

Aqa Mul Mujahidin has links to the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO), a small militant group active in the 1980s and the 1990s until the Myanmar government launched a counteroffensive to expel its insurgents from the border area with Bangladesh. The group was believed to be defunct.

“They secretly ran weapons training and self-defense training in remote locations in the hills and forests, as well as in the compound of Abdul Rahman in the Middle Nga Ku Ra village, and in the forest near Kyauk Pyin Seik village,” the statement said. “Following this, plans were drawn up to carry out violent attacks.”

Havistoohar planned for about 400 attackers to simultaneously attack six border guard posts and local police offices, it said.

Meanwhile, Myanmar’s top leaders held a special meeting on Friday in the capital Naypyidaw to discuss the backgrounds of the terrorists, current actions of security forces in the area, and procedures for dealing with the culprits.

President Htin Kyaw, State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, military commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, deputy commander-in-chief Vice Senior General Soe Win, Minister for Home Affairs Lt. Gen. Kyaw Swe, Minister of Defense Lt. Gen. Sein Win, and Minister for Office of the State Counsellor Kyaw Tint Swe also discussed armed conflicts in other areas of the country and management procedures to enhance the capacity and abilities of the Myanmar police force.

Government ministers, representatives of political parties, and officials from nongovernmental organizations also met on Friday in Rakhine’s capital Sittwe to discuss the Maungdaw attacks.

Source: rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/myanmar-says-islamic-terrorist-organization-behind-deadly-border-raids-in-rakhine-state-10142016164041.html

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President’s Office Vows to ‘Counter’ Arakan Attacks; Locals Call for an End to Violence

Friday, October 14, 2016

SITTWE, Arakan State — Four suspects have reportedly confessed to taking part in and planning attacks on border guard posts in northern Arakan State’s Maungdaw Township with the financial backing of outside terrorist organizations, according to a President’s Office statement released on Friday.

Two of the men were transferred from Bangladeshi authorities to Burma and two were captured in Maungdaw Township.

The statement said that the four men confessed to authorities—which were unspecified—to taking part in an attack on border posts on Sunday with the aim of occupying Maungdaw Township, led by a group they identified as Aqa Mul Mujahidin, which the President’s Office described as being affiliated with the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO), last known to be active in the 1980s and 1990s.

The statement also said an investigation had revealed that the group allegedly receives financial backing from Islamic terror networks and is led by a 45-year-old living in Kyauk Pyin Seik village of Maungdaw Township who attended six months of training in Pakistan.

“We will effectively counterattack any terror attack or attempted terror attack,” the President’s Office statement said. “We will also investigate, identify and take harsh actions against those behind the terrorists, those who support them secretly, and organizations and individuals that aid and abet terrorism.”

The group was allegedly planning to attack six border posts with 400 armed men last Sunday, but, armed with machetes, instead attacked a border patrol police headquarters and two outposts in Maungdaw and Rathedaung townships, killing nine policemen and looting firearms.

According to state-run media, the Tatmadaw arrested another man in Maungdaw Township’s Warpaik Village on Wednesday and reportedly confiscated a MA-11 gun, 11 cartridges, 1,510 rounds of ammunition and flags and badges connected to the RSO.

The man is the fifth suspect to have been detained in the area since Sunday.

Military-controlled Myawaddy media said on Thursday that while Burma Army troops carried out a manhunt for the suspects Wednesday in Kyet Yoe Pin Village of Maungdaw Township, ten suspected militants were killed and one gun was seized in clashes.

Five Burma Army soldiers have been killed in the manhunt, and 15 men—suspected militants—have been killed by government forces.

Military Operation Areas

Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung townships in northern Arakan State are designated as military operation areas until firearms looted from border police force are recovered, ministers told reporters at a press conference in the state capital of Sittwe on Friday.

On Thursday, Arakan State Chief Minister Nyi Pu summoned NGOs and INGOs to the state government office to update them on the situation in Maungdaw Township. He told relief organizations that to work in areas of military operations they must apply for permission from the government and follow rules and regulations, according to his official Facebook page.

Nyi Pu said that “Although the neighboring town of Buthidaung has returned to normal and shops have opened, the market is closed in Maungdaw. Unless the government can recover the firearms, armed clashes could happen at any time.”

He mentioned that some attackers are from “outside,” referring to Bangladesh, and alleged that they had links to Maungdaw Muslim residents.

Brig-Gen Thura Sun Lwin of the border police told international relief organizations, including United Nations (UN) organizations and partners, that foreigners are currently prohibited from entering Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung townships.

Displaced Persons and Reports of Abuse

A joint statement released on Monday by 14 Rohingya organizations in exile accused government soldiers of killing seven unarmed men in the village of Myothugyi; the Burma Army described the casualties of being those of suspected militants.

The groups called on international organizations and governments to pressure the ruling National League for Democracy government to halt such actions, and end persecution against Muslims in the region.

Since then, further accusations of abuses—detainments, and the burning of houses—have surfaced.

Arakan State Chief Minister U Nyi Pu sought to quell rumors of abuse with a statement on Facebook saying that news from the government should be regarded as true.

“The Union government is trying to decrease the worries of the two communities and we [the state government] are also carrying out on-the-ground information for law enforcement and stability in this region,” his post said.

In Maungdaw Township, local sources say that ethnic Mro and Thet villagers—fearing the unrest—have been seeking safety in monasteries in Buthidaung.

Arakan National Party (ANP) secretary U Tha Htun Hla visited Maungdaw yesterday to support the displaced villagers. According to him, about 300 people were sheltering at Buddhist monasteries.

The Arakan State government office secretary U Tin Maung Swe said that local Arakanese from the area concerned for their safety would need to be relocated. The Burma Army has also airlifted 90 school teachers from areas of Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships, according to the state government.

Meanwhile on Friday, residents of two villages in rural areas of Maungdaw Township were taking refuge in Sittwe, saying they were too frightened to remain at their homes following Sunday’s attacks.

A total of 36 people from the villages were staying at a Buddhist monastery in the state capital.

Four women from the group met a delegation from the World Food Programme (WFP) headed by Stephen O’Brien, United Nations’ Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

“My child and I are safe here, but my husband is at home and we don’t yet know how safe he is,” villager Daw Thein Shwe told the UN delegation, through tears. Rumors and the deaths of policemen in Sunday’s attacks had triggered the decision to leave Myaing Tha Ya and Aung Mingalar villages, she said.

A total of 60 more people from the area were expected to arrive in Sittwe later on Friday, the delegation heard. A WFP representative told the villagers that it would work with the state government to provide assistance.

Meanwhile, U Hla Shwe, a community leader from the Rohingya Muslim community in Sittwe worried that the violence would spread. “We condemn those acting with violence,” he said, adding that his community loved peace, and wished to live in peace.

Ko Wai Hun Aung, an Arakanese social activist, said that using force may not be the best way to find suspects and that authorities should instead work with local religious leaders.

Source: irrawaddy.com/burma/presidents-office-vows-counter-arakan-attacks-locals-call-end-violence.html

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Africa

C. Africa on a razor’s edge as fresh violence flares

Sat, 15 Oct 2016

After more than two years of brutal slaughter between Christian and Muslim groups that displaced one out of 10 of the country’s 4.5 million people, CAR had appeared to be returning to normal, holding peaceful elections early this year after a visit by the pope.

But despite 12,000 UN peacekeepers and a few hundred remaining French troops, tensions are high and tens of thousands of people are still displaced and in need of aid.

This week saw 30 killed and scores more hurt when fighters from a mainly-Muslim militia group attacked civilians and clashed with UN peacekeepers. The week before a dozen people died in the capital in fighting between Muslim forces and Christian vigilantes.

At the end of this month, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian flies into the capital, Bangui, to wind up French military Operation Sangaris, launched in December 2013 amid fears of an imminent sectarian bloodbath.

After an earlier scale-back only 350 troops remain.

– No effective army –

CAR plunged into chaos after the March 2013 ousting of long-serving president Francois Bozize, a Christian, by the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel alliance — triggering revenge attacks and a spiral of atrocities in which thousands were slaughtered.

But in February this year, Central Africans managed to calmly vote into office former university professor President Faustin-Archange Touadera.

The UN mission has several times been criticised for not lifting a finger duringclashes, while some of its soldiers have been accused of sexually abusing Central African civilians © AFP/File / Marco Longari

He took charge however of a state with little authority and no effective army.

Security is effectively overseen by the United Nations and constantly threatened by warlords whose armed bands are a legacy of decades of instability and who have been deaf to calls for DDRR (Disarmament, Demobilisation, Reintegration and Repatriation).

“Wherever there are armed groups, the authority of state is not complete,” said Gaston Yendemo, chief administrator of the central Nana-Gribizi region where this week’s clashes took place.

– ‘Disproportionate response’ –

The violence in the central market town of Kaga Bandoro began when a member of the mainly Muslim ex-Seleka militia was killed as he and three others tried to steal a generator from a local radio station.

“There was a disproportionate response from ex-Seleka people, who attacked civilians including displaced people hiding in church premises,” said a MINUSCA statement.

The fighters then attacked a camp for displaced people as well as NGO offices. UN troops from Burundi and Pakistan hit back to protect civilians, killing 12 of the assailants.

“Five thousand more displaced people from the bishop’s quarters have taken refuge next to the MINUSCA base,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs announced later.

The UN mission has several times been criticised for not lifting a finger during clashes, while some of its soldiers have been accused of sexually abusing Central African civilians. A similar accusation hangs over a small number of French soldiers.

UN Deputy Secretary General Herve Ladsous urged the world to stand by the Central African Republic at a donors’ conference to be held in Brussels in November 2016 © AFP/File / Issouf Sanogo

Aid workers meanwhile, who are often targeted, are withdrawing making the situation worse for ordinary people.

“In Kaga Bandoro alone, the reduction of humanitarian activity has deprived at least 200,000 people of help. In the region, food insecurity affects 120,000 people and 73,206 people are still displaced,” OCHA reports.

Floods, cholera and the occupation of schools by armed groups makes life even more difficult.

UN Deputy Secretary General Herve Ladsous earlier this month urged the world to stand by CAR at a donors’ conference taking place in Brussels on November 17.

Source: capitalfm.co.ke/news/2016/10/c-africa-razors-edge-fresh-violence-flares/

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Muharram: Shia Killings In Nigeria

October 15, 2016

Muharram is the name of the first month of the Islamic calendar like January in the Gregorian calendar. Muharram is a very important month to Muslims especially Shia Muslims since the Karbala tragedy that saw the gruesome beheading of the affectionate Grandson of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa), Imam Hussein (as), occurred on the tenth of the month Muharram.

Programs and activities are organize in the first ten days of Muharram to highlight the tragedy and lessons to be learnt. People are encourage to willingly donate Blood to be given to those in need so as to symbolize the massive bloodletting that took place during the Karbala tragedy.

In Nigeria Shia Muslims made preparation for the events which is mourning period and the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) under the leadership of His Eminence Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky made Press Release to draw attention to the mourning period of Muharram and the possibility that the Nigerian government is planning to attack the Ashura peaceful processions as an extension of the Zaria massacre that took place last December where the Nigerian President Buhari sent the Nigerian army and they massacred close to one thousand Nigerian civilians and wickedly dumped their dead bodies in mass graves.

Wednesday (12/10/2016) was the tenth of Muharram (Ashura) and peaceful processions were organized in many Nigerian towns. Sadly some of those processions were attacked by Nigerian Security Forces and their allied Wahhabi thugs, Nigerians were killed and properties destroyed. The worst case happened in Funtua in Kastina state where the Nigerian Security Forces killed 15 Shia mourners and injured more than 100. In Kaduna and Jos shootings took place by the Security Forces with Shia Muslims killed and injured. The security Forces gave their allied Wahhabi thugs the cover to burnt down Shia properties and destroyed the buildings as they came ready with tools.

Some Christian friends visited me yesterday evening for condolences of the more than 20 Nigerian Shia Muslims killed on the day of Ashura. I told them that there is certain inclination among Muslims that do not value human lives and that inclination is Wahhabism. I told them that this ideology has inspired all the murderous terrorist groups in the world that are killing innocent people in the name of Islam. Wahhabism inspired ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Shabaab etc, these are intolerant murderous terrorist groups who only kill, rape and destroy all in the name of Islam. I told them that it was Wahhabism that inspired the Zaria massacre of Shia Muslims and the same ideology inspired the Shia killings of yesterday.

When the Nigerian massacres were taken place Wednesday coincidentally a Saudi Shia brother was sending me pictures of their Ashura programs. I asked him if their security forces are attacking them and he answered negatively, and I told him that is what is happening in my country (Nigeria). We all know that the anti-Shia attacks and state-sponsored terrorism in Nigeria by the present government is tele-guided and orchestrated by the Saudi regime but here we were yesterday the Nigerian security forces killing Shia mourners while their Saudi masters did not do that!

On a final note, killings and destruction have never destroy an Idea but the Wahhabi mindset thinks that is possible and that is why they engage in so much killings and destructions around the world but achieve nothing. What are the achievements of ISIS, AlQaeda and Boko Haram?

Source: en.abna24.com/cultural/archive/2016/10/15/785563/story.html

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UN expresses concern after clashes in Somalia kill 11 and displace 50,000

October 15, 2016

UN said around 50,000 Somalis were internally displaced after heavy clashes renewed between forces loyal to clan-based militia from Puntland and Galmudug regions in Galkayo, northwest of Somalia's capital Mogadishu ~ File photoREUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

The United Nations has raised concern over the recent clashes in Somalia. The world body fears the hostile situation might escalate after at least 11 people were reportedly killed and around 50,000 displaced this week.

According to local media reports, on Thursday (13 October) heavy fighting broke out in Galkayo city, which is the administrative capital of Mudug region, between forces loyal to semi-autonomous regions of Puntland and Galmudug. The rebel groups are said to fighting for the hegemony of territories.

Reports said that both the forces were thought to have used heavy weapons and anti-aircraft guns. "The armed violence has exacerbated an already fragile humanitarian situation ... especially for IDPs (internally displaced people) who continue to live in deplorable conditions and makeshift structures," the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement.

Citing the UN statement Reuters reported that 11 people were found dead in the clashes. Hirsi Yusuf Barre, the mayor of Galkayo south, said Thursday's clashes killed three from Galmudug militia and injured five.

Galkayo city – reported to be divided between militias loyal to different regions – saw clashes when militias from the northern part of the town, who are allied with Puntland were reportedly planning to build a livestock market in the south part of the town. The south is thought to be backing the Galmudug region militias, Barre said.

"Puntland wants to build in parts of our south Galkayo by force and that is an aggression we will not accept." "Puntland tanks started shelling us yesterday and we had to respond," he was quoted by Reuters on Friday (14 October).

Clashes between the two regional militias were reported to have intensified lately, with Galkayo resident being the most affected in the sporadic confrontation. The clan-based militias fighting are reportedly common in Somalia's 25 years of civil war.

The civil war is thought to have also provided fertile ground for the birth of the Islamist insurgents in the country. The UN-backed government is battling the al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabab militants group, which is aiming to topple the government and impose its own form of Islamic rule in Somalia.

Source: ibtimes.co.uk/un-expresses-concern-after-clashes-somalia-kill-11-displace-50000-1586486

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Europe

French couple is put under formal investigation for ties to jihadist

October 15, 2016

A man and his pregnant, teenage girlfriend suspected of plotting to kill in the name of the Islamic State were put under formal investigation on Friday following their arrest on Tuesday in the Paris suburb of Noisy-le-Sec, a judicial source told Reuters.

The two partners, aged 21 and 17, were in contact with Islamist State militant Rachid Kassim via the Telegram encrypted messaging system, the source said, confirming an earlier report by French newschannel iTele.

Kassim is suspected of having participated in several attacks or attempted attacks in France.

French police arrested at least six teenagers last month, all suspected of having plotted to kill in the name of the Islamic State, after having been spotted on social networks.

All were in contact via Telegram with Kassim, who is currently located in the Syrian-Iraqi region, according to police and judicial sources.

France is reeling from a wave of militant attacks that have killed more than 230 people since January 2015, and its intelligence services are struggling to dismantle a web of militant networks inside the country.

In November last year, a squad of suicide bombers and gunmen killed 130 people in a coordinated attack on multiple sites in Paris.

In July, a Tunisian man killed 86 people when he drove his truck through a Bastille Day crowd on Nice's seafront. Later that month, two militants knifed to death an elderly priest at his altar in a church in northern France.

Source: reuters.com/article/us-europe-attacks-france-idUSKBN12E2FS

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Nun Urges U.S., Europe to Care About Christian and Yazidi Refugees, Too

OCTOBER 14, 2016

The Christian and Yazidi asylum seekers who have fled Syria and Iraq after the brutal invasions and massacres of the Islamic State are now suffering in Turkey as well, due to discrimination, poverty, and other pressures.

Many Western NGOs and churches have turned a blind eye to the plight of Christian and Yazidi asylum-seekers in the Middle East, though some are doing their best to help them. Hatune Dogan, founder of Hatune Foundation International, aims to help refugees, asylum seekers, and persecuted religious minorities across the world. Dogan, a Christian nun, was born in Turkey but now lives in Germany:

Yazidis and Christians from Syria and Iraq arrived in Turkey penniless. And they are still persecuted in Turkey because they belong to a non-Muslim faith.

I was 14 when I left Turkey and arrived in Germany with my family in 1984 as refugees. Thank God we all have had good lives here, therefore I feel that I owe my people, my Christian brothers and sisters, to help them as much as I can.

Sister Hatune has been in contact with Christians living in Turkey, and during the last three years she has visited the few spots in the country that accommodate Yazidis and Christians from war-torn Iraq and Syria:

Christians and Yazidi asylum seekers in Turkey have no rights and the local people, Muslims, do not care much for them.

Some Christian and Yazidi asylum-seekers are living in camps funded by the government or by the Kurdish municipalities. Those who live outside are forced to pay for their own livelihood. They have to pay rent and for all the necessities of life while struggling with economic and social difficulties.

The situation is not much better within the camps. Sister Hatune says that for non-Muslims, life in government-funded camps is “like prison”:

Asylum seekers living in the camps, too, often experience their situation like they are imprisoned. Therefore, many make the choice, themselves, to search for a living outside the camps.

They are really suffering, because the local people use the desperate situation in the housing market to charge unreasonable amounts for vacant apartments -- and the asylum seekers never know if or when they can achieve help, and from who.

For Yazidis, the situation is even worse:

Christians in Turkey are under great pressure because of their religion. For minorities like Yazidis it is even worse. They hold the lowest rank in the Muslim view; they are seen as “devil worshippers.”

On August 3, 2014, the Islamic State conducted a massive assault on the Yazidi community in northern Iraq, invading the region of Sinjar, home to 360,000 Yazidis, and a part of the Nineveh plain, home to 200,000 Yazidis. The invasion led to the abduction, rape, and sexual slavery of Yazidi women and massacres that killed at least 5,000 Yazidi civilians.

The invasion has been deemed a genocide by the U.S. government, the European Parliament, and United Nations investigators. However, Yazidi asylum-seekers from Iraq who stay outside of government-funded camps in Turkey have not been given legal status – they are not considered either “refugees” or “persons benefiting from temporary protection.”

Source: pjmedia.com/blog/nun-urges-u-s-europe-to-care-about-christian-and-yazidi-refugees-too/

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Don’t Blame Refugees for Europe’s Problems. Blame the Balkans

OCTOBER 15, 2016

As Europe continues to struggle with the refugee crisis, politics in Eastern Europe have taken a worryingly anti-migrant tone as leaders blame the refugees for instability, crime, and terrorism in Europe. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that “with illegal migration, terrorism came,” as he pointed the finger at the “welcome culture” of Western Europe. The president of the Czech Republic, Milos Zeman, has called Islam a “religion of death” and blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for coordinating the flow of refugees.

Tensions have only been made worse by the media in Eastern Europe which relentlessly portrays refugees as a danger. What these leaders apparently don’t realize is that it is not refugees who are the source of their problems. The so-called Visegrad group of Central European states that have been leading the European crusade against refugees are refusing to see that the turmoil they face originates not in the Middle East but in their own backyard.

To understand many of Europe’s problems, one need look no further than the Balkans, where poor governance and corruption have helped nurture a lucrative black market that afflicts the entire continent. For starters, the Balkans are at the center of a thriving illicit arms market. The region is still awash with arms from the tumultuous breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

According to one study, there are over 6 million privately owned firearms in the Balkans, mostly unregistered. The problem is most acute in Serbia, where there are 37.8 guns per 100 residents, the third highest rate in Europe. Now, these weapons – which include automatic rifles, hand grenades and mines – are sold and distributed in the black market all over the continent, with some being used in deadly terror attacks in Western Europe. The extremists who killed scores in last November’s Paris attacks carried AK-47s made by a Serbian arms manufacturer. Bosnian ammunition was used in the attack on Charlie Hebdo. Reda Kriket, who was arrested by French authorities in March for plotting a terror attack, was in possession of explosives and AK-47s originating in Croatia.

It is not just Western Europe where the guns are flowing. Since 2012, the Balkan states have been exporting arms abroad. Countries in the region have sold €1.2 billion worth of arms and ammunition to several Middle Eastern countries in the last four years. The arms, which include AK47s, heavy machine guns, anti-tank systems and grenade launchers, have gone to Jordan, the UAE, and Turkey, with the bulk going to Saudi Arabia. These arms are then being transported to war zones in Syria and Yemen, some of which have ended up in the hands of radical Islamist groups such as Ansar al-Sham, Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State. One study, which examined ammunition used by IS, found that 17% of the inspected ammunition originated in the Balkans. By exporting arms to the Middle East, the Balkan states are fueling the very wars that are driving the refugee crisis on their own shores.

It is not just arms from the Balkans that are flooding Europe’s black market. The region has become the source of much of the region’s illegal narcotics, with the situation in Albania particularly dire. The country is a major producer of drugs that are distributed all over the continent, and a key transit point for illicit substances coming from Asia.

The extent of the problem is illustrated by a recent raid in the lawless Albanian town of Lazarat, where authorities seized 102 tons of marijuana. The drug peddlers were frighteningly well armed, with an arsenal that included vast quantities of machine guns, grenades and RPGs. The raid required 800 police using helicopters and armored vehicles. Albania’s narcotics problem is abetted by corruption from the highest levels, with the Prime Minister and Interior Minister both having family members allegedly involved in drug trafficking. What’s worse, revenue from the illicit trade could be financing terrorism. There are reports that the Islamic State controls marijuana farms in the country.

While smuggling guns and drugs is nothing new for Eastern Europe’s criminal organizations, another illicit enterprise has recently emerged: migrant smuggling. Criminal organizations and even ordinary citizens in the Balkans, particularly in Bulgaria, have now taken to smuggling migrants into Western Europe, generating billions of dollars. So lucrative is the illicit business that it has become a key part of local economies in Eastern Europe, possibly generating even more revenue than the sale of drugs or weapons.

At the root of many of the Balkan’s problems is corruption, and perhaps nowhere in Europe is corruption worse than in Montenegro. Prime Minster Milo Djukanovic has turned the country into a kleptocracy and a haven for criminals while at the same time pursuing EU and NATO membership. Djukanovic has stolen billions from the tiny nation’s coffers, and organized crime has flourished under his watch, with the Prime Minster giving large loans to criminal organizations (and himself) participating in trafficking rings. So egregious are his abuses that the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) has satirically named Djukanovic “Person of the Year for his work in promoting crime, corruption and uncivil society.”

Montenegro has been dominated by a single party for decades, and has not had a genuinely competitive election since 1938 – but that stands to change on October 16th, when the country hosts parliamentary elections. The Democratic Front, the opposition alliance, stands a real shot at unseating Djukanovic. While the EU moves forward on Montenegro’s eventual integration into the union, a new government might be just the right way to correct the country’s erratic course.

As long as East European leaders blame refugees for their problems, it is unlikely that much will be solved. The Visegrad group is correct in claiming that the EU is in crisis, but by focusing their law and justice crusades on transforming the Union into a blown-up version of UKIP/FN, they are ignoring the true cause of many of Europe’s problems. Instead, they should focus their efforts on getting the EU to crack down on Bulgaria’s mafia rings, Albania’s drug traffickers, Montenegro’s absurdly dictatorial president and Serbia’s porous borders. It is certainly easier than pacifying the Middle East.

Source: intpolicydigest.org/2016/10/14/don-t-blame-refugees-europe-s-problems-blame-balkans/

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North America

US election: Muslim voters as Donald Trump’s nemesis?

OCTOBER 15, 2016

James Reinl is a journalist and world affairs analyst who has reported from more than 30 countries and won awards for covering Haiti’s earthquake, Sri Lanka’s civil war and human rights abuses in Iran.

New York, United States - The blue skies were among the prettiest that a New York autumn could offer, but still a cloud hung over Masjid-al-Aman mosque on Friday, the last day that locals could register to vote in next month's bitterly contested presidential election.

The community of Bangladeshi immigrants in Ozone Park, Brooklyn, still mourns the killing of an imam and his assistant nearby in August.

The shootings were widely seen as part of a rising tide of anti-Muslim sentiment that has shaken America this election cycle.

After praying, worshippers gathered outside the mosque around a table for registering voters.

Those who understood English helped new arrivals with tricky words in the final hours of a drive to register more Muslim voters in a US election than ever before.

Organisers say they seek more civic engagement, but when pressed admit they are scared by the prospect of a win for Republican candidate Donald Trump, who talks of halting Muslim immigration to the US among a raft of anti-immigrant policies.

Golam Uddin, 46, a Bangladeshi American, has lived in the US for the past 27 years but he plans to vote for the first time on November 8. His choice - Trump's Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton - is a no-brainer, he told Al Jazeera.

"Trump's a racist guy. He don't like Muslims, he stops immigrants, Latinos, everything," Uddin, a father-of-two who runs subway kiosks, said.

"There are 3.3 million Muslims; everything goes to her. The Democrats are always with us immigrants."

According to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a religious rights group, Muslims are fired up this election cycle - 86 percent of registered Muslim voters plan to cast ballots, with 72 percent backing Clinton against Trump's 4 percent.

Worshippers spoke ruefully of the murdered imam and complained of everything from assaults to passers-by kicking the buggies of Muslim toddlers in a wave of Trump-fuelled hostility, they said.

Such scenes are replicated at mosques and community centres across the US this month in advance of voter registration deadlines, which vary by state, in a bid to enrol a million more Muslim voters than in previous elections.

Voter drives are backed by CAIR, a public action committee called Emerge USA and Yalla Vote - a scheme from the Arab American Institute (AAI), a lobby group for an estimated 3.7 million Arab Americans, who comprise Christians, Muslims and others.

Neither Arabs nor Muslims are factored in the US census, but Pew Research Center counted a fast-growing population of 3.3 million Muslims in the US this year - a one percent share of the population that is expected to double by 2050.

Almost a third of respondents spoke of experiencing profiling or discrimination this past year.

Neither Arabs nor Muslims pack as big an electoral punch as Latinos, some 17 percent of the population, or blacks [13 percent]. But they cluster in a handful of swing states and their near-total rejection of Trump could hurt him on polling day.

"While our population is not so large, we're concentrated in some key battleground states. Winning in these places can come down to several thousand votes and in a close-call race, Arab Americans are a swing constituency that could sway the outcome," a spokesperson for the AAI told Al Jazeera.

"There is no path for Trump to the White House without those states right now."

US presidents are not chosen by popular vote, but through a system that elevates the importance of several competitive states. Muslim and Arab Americans are clustered in such battlegrounds as Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Muslim and Arab American voter drives have been concentrated in these areas, which could swing a Trump or Clinton victory. In Florida, Clinton leads polls by less than three percent; in Ohio, her lead is narrower than two points.

In Ohio, student Malek Khawam, 23, enrolled more than 100 young voters at Cleveland State University.

"It's vital for minorities and groups that feel they are underrepresented to use their voice in the political process and not walk away from that process," Khawam told Al Jazeera.

Of course, Trump may not need any help losing.

The final weeks of campaigning have been dominated by his sex life and his bragging about a predatory treatment of women, pushing him about seven percentage points below Clinton in an average of national polls.

But while such respected pundits as Nate Silver currently give Trump only a 14 percent chance of winning the keys to the Oval Office, others are loath to call an election that barely resembles America's previous presidential face-offs.

Though Trump's rhetoric has alienated minorities and women, his stances on immigration and free trade and his promise to "make America great again" resonates with many, including a core of white men, both blue collar and college educated.

Many Muslims rejected his claims that large numbers of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the 9/11 strikes, or that terror hits on Paris and San Bernardino, California, should be met with bans on Muslims or those from terrorism-afflicted countries visiting the US.

The billionaire famously feuded with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of soldier Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004.

He has spoken of Syrian refugees as a potential "Trojan horse" through which fighters could enter the US.

During the second presidential debate, when asked by a Muslim woman how he would help stop her being labelled a "threat to the country", Trump called Islamophobia "a shame" but put the onus on Muslim Americans to tackle extremism within their faith.

This puts off many, but not all Muslims. Mosque-goer Amin Sattar, 20, will vote for the first time next month after getting citizenship for the "best country in the world" four years ago.

Amin Sattar, a Bangladeshi American, is yet to decide who to vote [James Reinl/Al Jazeera]

Trump is a "little mental" but Clinton underwhelms too, he said.

"My ears are still opening," Sattar, a student, told Al Jazeera. "My final decision will be on November 8."

Both candidates are unpopular. While Clinton's trustworthiness is repeatedly questioned, among Muslims and Arabs, her hawkish track record in backing US interventions in Iraq and Libya is perhaps more troubling.

Earlier this month, Clinton's campaign team was in Dearborn, Michigan, one of America's biggest Muslim populations. There, Clinton’s surrogate and former rival in the Democratic primaries, Bernie Sanders, bashed Trump as a tax-dodger.

Many Arab and Muslim voters favoured Sanders, a left-leaning Jewish septuagenarian who calls for a fairer treatment of Palestinians, over Clinton in the primaries.

They helped him score a surprise victory against her in Michigan in March.

For others, it is just a matter of business.

"This is an election between freedom and socialism at the same time. We are Muslims, but we are Americans as well," Sajid Tarar, a Pakistani-American businessman who spoke for Trump at his convention in Cleveland in July, told Al Jazeera.

For Tarar, Trump will tackle home-grown fighters and stand up for the conservative values underpinning Islam. Democrats, he said, promote such vices as "same-sex marriage, legalising cannabis and socialism".

But the numbers show Tarar is a relic. Muslims and Arabs used to be split between Republicans and Democrats. The Iraq war saw some shift left, but Trump's anti-Muslim railings have pushed many more into the Democratic fold.

It may come back to bite him.

Source: aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/10/election-muslim-voters-donald-trumps-nemesis-161015002656187.html

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Dozens Gather For Moorish-American Remembrance Day

October 14, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Dozens gathered outside Independence Mall on Friday for Moorish-American remembrance Day, honoring a group of people who left their mark in American history.

Families dressed in red, black and white listened to Islamic prayers commemorating the Moors, people who are descendants of Morocco and born in America.

Azeem Hopkins-Bey is a Grand-Shiek of the Moorish Science Temple of America in Philadelphia and said their ancestors arrived in America as slaves, and vanished in history books.

“They were given slave names & slave marks of negro, black and colored in the year of 1774 and today we are honoring the spirit and legacy of our fore-fathers,”Hopkins-Bey said.

After the ceremony, they toured historic landmarks important to Moorish history, to teach new generations about their heritage.

“Some say America is a melting pot, but it’s more like a stew. We all Americans, but you still have the flavor of our forefathers that you still carry and teach your children about.”

Source: philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2016/10/14/dozens-gather-for-moorish-american-remembrance-day/

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KERRY NEGOTIATING CEASEFIRE W/DEATH TO AMERICA TERRORISTS AFTER THEY ATTACK US SHIPS

October 14, 2016

John Kerry never changes. Whatever happens, he can always be found rushing to appease the enemies of this country. After Iranian backed Houthi Islamic Jihadists attacked a US ship, Kerry has jumped into action to do his usual thing

As the U.S. launched missile attacks Thursday on Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, behind the scenes Secretary of State John Kerry has been trying to negotiate a temporary cease-fire and reinvigorate a political process to end the country's civil war.

The conflict has dragged on for over two years now, since the Shiite rebels seized control of the capital of Sanaa in September of 2014. The conflict escalated in March 2015 and since then over 4,000 civilians have been killed, the U.N. has said.

"What the Secretary has been pushing hard for is to get back … to a cessation of hostilities, a 72-hour cessation of hostilities which can at least then create some kind of climate where a political dialogue or a dialogue can begin again," State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said Thursday.

Here's whom Kerry wants a dialogue with. The Houthis are not "rebels", they're Islamic Jihadists, backed by Iran. Their slogan is, "Allah Akbar, Death to America, Death to Israel, A curse upon the Jews, Victory to Islam."

But part of that is Kerry and Obama's slogan too. Meanwhile Obama's NSC put out a statement warning the Saudis about further attacks on the Houthis.

U.S. security cooperation with Saudi Arabia is not a blank check. Even as we assist Saudi Arabia regarding the defense of their territorial integrity, we have and will continue to express our serious concerns about the conflict in Yemen and how it has been waged. In light of this and other recent incidents, we have initiated an immediate review of our already significantly reduced support to the Saudi-led Coalition and are prepared to adjust our support so as to better align with U.S. principles, values and interests, including achieving an immediate and durable end to Yemen's tragic conflict. We call upon the Saudi-led Coalition, the Yemeni government, the Houthis and the Saleh-aligned forces to commit publicly to an immediate cessation of hostilities and implement this cessation based on the April 10th terms.

Maybe Kerry and the Houthis can bond over their mutual hatred of America.

Source: frontpagemag.com/point/264515/kerry-negotiating-ceasefire-wdeath-america-daniel-greenfield

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/pakistan-sees-terror-groups-as-prized-instruments-for-launching-‘irregular-wars’-against-neighbours--expert/d/108869


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