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Islamic World News ( 30 Nov 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan Ulema Reject Politics of Chaos In The Name Of Islam

New Age Islam News Bureau

30 Nov 2018

Hillary Clinton suggested that Donald Trump and "those closest to him" have their "own personal commercial interest" in concealing the incident around Khashoggi's murder.



 Pakistan Ulema Reject Politics of Chaos In The Name Of Islam

 Hillary Clinton Attacks Donald Trump, Says He Was Part Of The Cover-Up In Khashoggi's Killing

 Fundraiser to Support Syrian Schoolboy Bullied In UK Hits £100k Overnight

 Expect Increase in Saudi Investments in Next 2-3 Years, Says India after Meet with Crown Prince

 Bin Salman, Sisi Encouraging Arab Leaders to Normalize Ties with Israel: Report



 Pakistan Ulema Reject Politics of Chaos In The Name Of Islam

 Senate Body Passes Bill Allowing Organ Donation

 There Is A Clampdown On Hafiz Saeed… I Have Inherited (The Problem): Imran Khan

 Imran Khan: Not in Pakistan’s interest to allow use of its territory for terror acts

 Kartarpur Corridor can undo freeze in India, Pak ties: Pakistani media

 Fazl criticises govt for ‘opening’ border with India

 Opposition rejects Imran’s speech as ‘a pack of lies’

 Sikh pilgrims begin journey back to India

 Ashrafi welcomes govt’s decision of opening Kartarpur border


North America

 Hillary Clinton Attacks Donald Trump, Says He Was Part of the Cover-Up in Khashoggi's Killing

 US: DC Group Votes to Rename Street Jamal Khashoggi Way

 Texas Republicans Want To Oust Muslim Party Leader Because Of His Faith, Emails Suggest

 US touts new evidence of Iranian weaponry in Yemen, Afghanistan

 Trump support for Saudi prince leaves Turkey with tough choices

 Hate crimes against Muslims in Canada rose 151 pc during 2017

 5 US senators paid by Saudi lobby voted against Yemen war bill: Study

 US efforts to regain lost power in Mideast 'futile': Hezbollah official

 Washington says Astana process produced Syria 'stalemate'



 Fundraiser to Support Syrian Schoolboy Bullied In UK Hits £100k Overnight

 United Nations Wants Syria to Account for War Dead, Detainees

 French President to meet Saudi Crown Prince in G20

 UK: 608 Islamophobic incidents recorded in 6 months

 Syrian refugee pleas for no violence towards bully



 Expect Increase in Saudi Investments in Next 2-3 Years, Says India after Meet with Crown Prince

 Hunt On To Nab Three Most Wanted Terrorists in J&K

 For better ties with India, Pakistan needs to be a secular state: Army chief Bipin Rawat

 PM Modi Meets Saudi Prince on Sidelines of G20 Summit

 November bloodiest month for militants in Kashmir, 9 top commanders killed

 Imran Khan’s ‘googly’ ensured presence of Indian ministers at Kartarpur Corridor event: Shah Mahmood Qureshi


Arab World

 Bin Salman, Sisi Encouraging Arab Leaders to Normalize Ties with Israel: Report

 Saudi Minister Abdullatif Al-Sheikh: Muslim Brotherhood Is Evil, Unlawful

 US Plot to Occupy Strategic Iraq-Syria Corridor Revealed

 Turkish Army Continues Attacks against Kurds after US Sets up Observation Posts

 Several Ankara-Backed Militants Killed by Kurds in Afrin

 2 Notorious Terrorist Commanders Killed in Northern Syria

 Terrorists Fail to Launch Offensive on Army in Several Fronts in Demilitarized Zone

 Report: Israel jets bomb targets near Damascus, southern Syria

 Report says Syria shot down Israeli war plane but Israel denies it

 Bahrain sentences three defendants for terror links


South Asia

 Taliban Reject Kabul Talks in Wake of Deadly Attack

 27 Militants of Taliban’s Red Unit Killed in Nangarhar Airstrikes

 At Site of Rohingya Massacre, Burmese Villagers Wary of Press

 Jamaat picks 22 more as neutral candidates

 Around 70 militants killed, wounded in 4-day operations in Kunduz

 Australia police now probing army for war crimes in Afghanistan



 Houthis Say They Could Attend UN-Led Talks in Sweden If Safe Passage Guaranteed

 Turkish President Urges Muslim Countries for Use of Local Currency in International Trade

 Houthi video shows children being trained to ‘fight America and Israel’

 Political Vacuum in Palestine Leaves Fertile Ground for Radical Groups

 Yemen peace talks ‘meaningless’ amid incessant Saudi-led attacks: Ansarullah

 Putin endorses deal for Iran-EEU free trade zone

 Iran, Russia, Turkey vow to preserve Syria's sovereignty

 Yemeni army hits Saudi camp in Najran with salvo of ballistic missiles

 Israel extends arrest of Palestinian Jerusalem-al-Quds governor

 UN aid chief calls for end to Saudi war on Yemen

 Some Muslim countries are busy accomplishing the nefarious plans of America: Ali Akbar Velayati

 Turkey, Russia will not use dollar for S-400 deal, says Erdogan


Southeast Asia

 China Will Retaliate ‘In Proportion’ To Any US Sanction Over Muslim Uighurs: Ambassador

 Indonesian City to Fine LGBT For Being ‘Public Nuisance’

 Kelantan mufti warns against going ahead with Dec 8 rally

 Dozens of Indonesian inmates on the run after escaping prison through a hole in a fence



 Uganda Helped South Sudan Breach EU Arms Embargo, Says Source

 Tunisia’s Essebsi: Ennahda Threatened Me Personally

 Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar in Jordan for reconciliation talks

 New US airstrike in Somalia kills 3 al-Shabaab extremists

 Nigerian soldiers repel another Boko Haram attack on army base – Official

 Muslim group reacts as Buhari increases police salary

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Pakistan Ulema Reject Politics of Chaos In The Name Of Islam

Nov 30, 2018

RAWALPINDI: Muslim unity is need of the hour while people can play their role for the progress, prosperity and stability of the country by forging unity and harmony, said Custodian of Eidgah Sharif Pir Hassan Naqeebur Rehman on Thursday.

Addressing a press conference at Eidgah Sharif, he said that some anti-state elements want to weaken the stability of the country by promoting sectarianism and hate. He said that religious scholars should demonstrate unity to strengthen the country.

Peer Hassan stressed that people should be educated according to the teachings of Islam, saying, Islam preaches peace, religious tolerance and equality.

He lauded the government for taking measures to control sectarianism in a peaceful way.

Tahafuz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat (SAWW) is a basic faith of every Muslim and protection of this faith is a top priority for all the Muslims, he added.

Peer Hassan said that Pakistan was an outcome of the benefaction of Sufi saints and teachings of Saints should be followed to protect solidarity of the country.

“Shrines of saints had rendered valuable services for the unity of the Muslim Ummah,” he said.

Peer Hassan said that the Constitution of Pakistan also guarantees the rights of minorities and no legislation could be made against the Quran and Sunnah.

He also appreciated the role of law enforcement agencies who rendered unprecedented sacrifices for maintaining peace in the country.

Besides Peer Naqeebur Rehman, Peer Obaid Ullah Shah, Peer Mujtaba Gul Badshah, Peer Sadat Ali Shah, Peer Ali Raza, member legislative assembly, and other ulemas were also present on the occasion.



Hillary Clinton Attacks Donald Trump, Says He Was Part of the Cover-Up in Khashoggi's Killing


By Umar Farooq


Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has suggested that U.S. President Donald Trump is “part of the cover-up as to what happened” in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Clinton, who was also Trump's campaign rival in the 2016 presidential election, kicked off a paid speaking tour with her husband and former President Bill Clinton in Toronto and took the opportunity to attack the president's response to the killing.

“We have a president who is part of the cover-up as to what happened in that consulate or embassy when Mr. Khashoggi was murdered,” Clinton said Tuesday.

“And we have a president and those closest to him who have their own personal commercial interests,” she added.

Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and columnist for The Washington Post, went missing after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

After initially saying he had left the consulate alive, Saudi Arabia admitted weeks later that he was killed there.

Trump, who has stated that he plans to maintain relations with Saudi Arabia, has come under criticism from many in Washington who think the U.S. should downgrade its ties with the Kingdom and end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

The president also refused to blame Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the crime after reports emerged that the CIA concluded that the prince ordered the killing, saying "maybe he did, maybe he didn't!"



Fundraiser to support Syrian schoolboy bullied in UK hits £100k overnight

Nov 29, 2018

A fundraiser to support Jamal, a 15-year-old Syrian refugee who was “waterboarded” by a bully in school, has raised more than £119,000 ($152,000) in just one night.

The online campaign was set up after a video of the racist attack at Huddersfield’s Almondbury Community School went viral.

The video of the attack on October 25 purportedly shows Jamal, who already had one arm in a cast, being slammed to the ground in the school during a chokehold by another boy, who then says, “I’ll drown you” while forcing water into Jamal’s mouth in a waterboarding style.

The 16-year-old bully has been charged with assault and will appear at Youth Court, according to West Workshire Police.

“Jamal's family are refugees in the UK and they struggle to meet the basic necessities of life,” read the fundraiser. “We want to raise money for the family to ease their situation and hopefully they can use the funds to help improve their quality of life and to put a smile on their faces.”

Apparently Jamal is not the only victim of racism-inspired bullying as his sister has also been subjected to cruel behavior at school.

“To the point where his little sister has broken the lenses in her glasses and attempted to cut her own wrists in school toilets,” wrote Mohammed Tahir, the community organizer behind the fundraiser wrote.

The fundraiser initially planned to raise a total of £150,000 for Jamal and his family but Tahir said he was going to increase the goal and raise as much money as he could.

“Having left a war torn country, the least they deserve is to live in peace without being harassed,” he added.

MPs join outpouring of support

Tory bigwig Tobias Ellwood was one of the Members of Parliament (MPs) who voiced support for Jamal after the incident.

"Absolute disgrace - Please retweet. This bully, his parents, the school where this occurs and the onlookers who fail to step in, all have big questions to answer,” he wrote on twitter.

"To the Syrian refugee - I say sorry. It’s not the welcoming, friendly Britain we are supposed to be," he added.

Kirklees Council said: “Neither us nor the school condone violence in any form and behaviour like this will not be tolerated.”

Barry Sheerman, MP for the town, said he had been supporting the boy and his family.

Presenter Jeremy Vine also expressed support.

“I'm trying to resist naming the bully in this film. More important, is it possible to do anything for the victim? A Syrian refugee who already had a broken wrist, apparently from a similar attack. Heartbreaking.”

BBC presenter Jake Humphrey also called for “love” for Jamal and offered to pay for an all-expenses paid trip to his favorite football team.

Renowned MMA coach offers free fight training to Jamal

John Kvanagh, the coach of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) star Conor McGregor, said in a tweet on Wednesday that he was willing to give him a lifetime free membership at Straight Blast Gym (SBG), his MMA academy in Ireland.

“Kid seems to be in Huddersfield. I’m sure a few boxing lessons with the famous #ButlinBrothers @BigAndyButlin would be great to boost for his confidence. He’s free membership for life at @SBG_Ireland anyway if he can ever make it,” he said.



Expect increase in Saudi investments in next 2-3 years, says India after meet with crown prince

Nov 30, 2018

India expects Saudi Arabia to ramp up investments in several sectors including technology, farm and energy over the next couple of years, a senior Indian official said, after a meeting between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The two men met on the sidelines of the G20 conference in Buenos Aires and agreed to increase economic cooperation. (Follow live updates here)

“We expect that in the next 2 to 3 years there will be significant scaling up of Saudi investments in India,” said Indian foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale, providing a readout of the meeting.



Bin Salman, Sisi encouraging Arab leaders to normalize ties with Israel: Report

Nov 30, 2018

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi have been working together to persuade other Arab leaders to establish close trade ties with Israel while working to resolve political differences with the Tel Aviv regime as well, a new report suggests.

The push comes as part of US President Donald Trump’s so-called peace plan for the Middle East region, the UK-based Arabic newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported Thursday.

According to the report, Salman and Sisi held extensive meetings during the Saudi prince’s visit to Cairo earlier this week to discuss Trump’s so-called “Deal of the Century” peace plan.

The so-called deal, a backchannel plan to allegedly reach a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, was proposed by the US administration late last year. Although the plan has not been released, leaks signal it will consist of the same tried and failed ideas.

It regards Jerusalem al-Quds entirely as Israeli territory, whereas Palestinians view the eastern sector of the occupied city as the capital of their future state.

Palestinians also believe that the US-drafted plan calls for keeping borders and security under Israeli control, while it keeps Israeli settlements’ final borders to be discussed in later negotiations.

MbS and Sisi have explored possible ways to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a way that would prompt as many Arab countries as possible to give relations with Israel another chance.

The Egyptian proposal to hold a summit with Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority is one of the possible solutions that the two close allies might have in store to further their agenda, the report said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has already voiced opposition to such proposals, out of fear that Sisi would use the event to force him to make concessions in future agreements with Israel.

Abbas: Trump's efforts 'slap of the century'

Citing its sources, however, the daily claimed that the Saudi crown prince was still likely to express enthusiasm for such a summit because it would help him clear his image amid reports of his involvement in the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi as well as the ongoing Saudi war on Yemen.

The United Arab Emirates and Jordan – both supporting Riyadh’s deadly war on Yemen in their quest for more regional influence – are also in favor of holding such a summit.





Senate body passes bill allowing organ donation

November 29, 2018

Ikram Junaidi

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services (NHS) on Wednesday passed a bill which will make it possible for people to donate organs.

Titled The Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues (Amendment) Bill, 2018, the proposed law was moved by Senator Mian Mohammad Ateeq Sheikh. It suggests CNICs should indicate if a person is an organ donor.

Mr Sheikh, who is also chairman of the standing committee, said Sri Lanka has earned respect as the largest eye cornea donor across the world and that Pakistan gets eye cornea donations from various countries.

“A campaign has been started to convince people to donate organs but there is now law in this regard which is why doctors hesitate to remove organs from a deceased person if they left a will to the effect. I have suggested that CNICs should carry a red mark if someone is an organ donor. Therefore, in case of natural death or accidents, doctors will know if someone’s organs should be removed while they are viable,” he said.

A representative of the Human Organ Transplant Authority said a government bill was also being drafted which also suggests mentioning on CNICs and driving licences if a citizen is an organ donor.

“I suggest the bill should be ignored as the government bill is comprehensive and will be passed soon,” he said.

NHS Minister Aamer Mehmood Kiani also suggested the bill be ignored or clubbed with the government one.

However, Mr Sheikh strictly rejected the suggestion and said there was a ruling by the Senate chairman that private member bills will not be ignored because of government bills.

“A government bill may take two years to pass or it may not be passed at all because the government has to convince the opposition. However, I have assurance from political parties that they will support my bill. Moreover, I have only suggested an amendment in the existing law on human organ transplants and I insist it should be passed,” he said.

Independent Senator Dr Asad Ashraf said the opinion of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) should be sought as such a bill can trigger criticism in religious circles.

However, Mr Sheikh argued that the CII’s opinion is not required as it is up to the people if they want to donate their organs.

Law Division representative Jam Aslam also said there is no need for input from CII as the Law Division has already worked on the issue when preparing a bill and that a private member bill can also therefore be passed.

Members decided to pass the bill unanimously and it was sent to the upper house for voting.

The organs of one person can be donated to 27 people if someone agrees for their organs to be donated after death but there is no trend or awareness for organ donation in the country. Due to this, human organs are being sold in the black and some health institutions have also been involved in the illegal business.

Fake doctor at Pims

The committee had sought a detailed report over the arrest of a fake doctor from the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims). However, NHS Minister Aamer Kiani was not aware of the incident.

On Sept 26, a man posing as a doctor, who had been ‘practicing’ at for six months at Pims, was arrested. An initial investigation revealed that two post graduates (PG) at the hospital had hired the man, who was a vendor of medicines and instruments, and were paying him to pose as a doctor.

An FIR was registered at the Karachi Company police station but no action was taken against the PGs.



There is a clampdown on Hafiz Saeed… I have inherited (the problem): Imran Khan

November 30, 2018

A day after he declared that his government, army and all political parties in Pakistan are “on the same page” to improve ties with India, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday came up with his first categorical statement on cross-border terrorism and said that it was not in his country’s interest to become a base for “terror activities outside”.

Responding to a question during an interaction with Indian journalists, Khan said: “It is not in Pakistan’s interest to have our territory used for terror activities outside.”Khan also pointed out that there were UN sanctions on 26/11 accused and JuD chief Hafiz Saeed, and court cases against him in Pakistan in the Mumbai attack case.

The Pakistan Prime Minister said that “there has been a clampdown” on Saeed’s activities, but also claimed that he had “inherited” the issue. “There is a UN sanction on Hafiz Saeed. There is a clampdown. But I have inherited it. In the Mumbai terror case, the case is in court,” he said.

Khan’s remarks on Saeed came the morning after Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told Indian reporters that there has been no “tangible evidence” against Saeed. Khan, meanwhile, said that while a consensus for peace has developed, Pakistan’s outreach should not be confused as “desperation for peace”.

Expressing his disappointment at the cancellation of a proposed bilateral meeting between the foreign ministers of both countries, Khan said: “I got such a bad response that I felt almost as if there is no intention for peace… why would anyone be scared of dialogue? Insaan koshish hi kar sakta hai (one can only try).”

Asked about his tweet in the aftermath of India cancelling the bilateral meet — that he had come across “small men occupying big offices” who don’t see the big picture — Khan said it was not directed at anyone.

However, he said, Kashmir was a dispute and there is a need to resolve it. “Kashmir needs to be seen differently, there are no easy solutions for Kashmir. But I believe there is a solution. But solutions will come when there is a dialogue… We always get stuck in the past, let’s not live in the past, and learn from it,” he said.

Full report at:



Imran Khan: Not in Pakistan’s interest to allow use of its territory for terror acts

November 29, 2018

On a day his Pakistan-e-Tehreek government completed 100 days in power, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for the first time addressed the issue of terrorism, which has been a thorn in the resumption of bilateral dialogue with India. Asserting that it was not in Pakistan’s interest to allow the use of its territory for terror acts on other countries, Khan said the people now wanted peace with India.

“It is not in our interest to allow the use of Pakistan’s territory for terror outside. People in Pakistan want peace with India. The mindset of people here has changed,” Khan said. Interestingly, Khan’s comments on terrorism come just a day after Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj made it clear that India would not attend the SAARC summit in Islamabad “until and unless” Pakistan stopped sponsoring terror.

On Mumbai terror attack mastermind and Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, Khan said, “There are UN sanctions against Hafiz Saeed. There is already a clampdown on the JuD chief.” The Pakistan PM said he was ready for talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi while maintaining that the gesture for peace can’t be one-sided.

“Let us talk. I am ready for talks on any issue. I will be happy to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and talk to him,” Khan said. The fresh peace overtures come at a time when India has maintained a stoic stance that terrorism and talks cannot go together.

When asked whether it is possible to resolve the Kashmir issue, the Pakistan PM said, “nothing is impossible”. “There can’t be a military solution for Kashmir. We are willing to wait for (general) elections to get over in India for a gesture from New Delhi,” Khan said.

Full report at:



Kartarpur Corridor can undo freeze in India, Pak ties: Pakistani media

November 29, 2018

The move to build the Kartarpur Corridor has the potential to undo the “freeze” in ties between India and Pakistan and push the two sides to engage in a positive and purposeful manner, the Pakistani media commented on Thursday. The planned corridor will connect Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev’s final resting place in Pakistan’s Kartarpur to the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district in India, fulfilling a long-pending demand of the Sikh community.

It took more than 70 years for Pakistan and India to bridge a distance roughly 7 kilometres on either side of their border, the Express Tribune said in its editorial, a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone of the corridor on the Pakistani side. The initiative to build a corridor connecting two Sikh holy sites — Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan and Dera Baba Nanak in India — came from the Pakistan side, it claimed.

As proposed, the Indian government will construct and develop the Kartarpur corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Indian Punjab’s Gurdaspur district to the border, while Pakistan will build the other part of the corridor connecting the border to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur area of Narowal district in Pakistani Punjab. “The Kartarpur development comes at a time of no dialogue and little contact between Pakistan and India,” the daily said. “A meaningful confidence-building measure, the move has the potential to undo this bilateral freeze and push the two sides to engage in a positive and purposeful manner,” it said. “It’s not just the reopening of a route closed by the Partition, but the beginning of an unprecedented form of diplomacy — religious diplomacy. The initiative can become a template for cross-border exchanges based on faith and extend the momentum to other areas, given the undeniable role religion and religious beliefs are playing in interstate and intrastate conflicts and aspects of international affairs in the 21st century,” it said.

The paper criticised Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for brushing off any possibility of improvement in the bilateral ties in the wake of the Kartarpur move. Swaraj on Wednesday said there will be no dialogue with Pakistan unless it desists from terrorist activities against India. In a clear expression of disregard to Pakistan’s initiative that only comes in pursuit of peace. However, such an undiplomatic disregard from the Indian side is nothing new, and is meant to serve its long-maintained policy of trying to isolating Pakistan diplomatically and in all other contexts, like sports and culture — albeit with no success, the paper said.

Dawn newspaper said the move had many of the ingredients for what a normalised relationship between Pakistan and India could look like — the governments of Pakistan and India working together to facilitate people-to-people contact and religious tourism and Indian officials visiting Pakistan in a relaxed, even joyful manner. The Indian government rushed to smother the goodwill generated by the inauguration of the corridor, and once again doused hopes that bilateral dialogue may be restarted soon, the paper said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government should pause and reflect on what it is they hope to achieve by repeatedly slapping back a hand offered in peace, it said. While India may have some legitimate complaints, as does Pakistan against India, there is no plausible scenario in which not talking to Pakistan at all will address the issues on both sides, it said.

Full report at:



Fazl criticises govt for ‘opening’ border with India

November 30, 2018

PESHAWAR: Expressing reservations about the establishment of the Kartarpur corridor, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Thursday said it was ironic that on one hand, the government had closed the country’s border with Afghanistan but on the other, it had opened border with the country’s archrival, India.

“This is very strange that Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan has been sealed, while the policy towards India has been softened by establishing a new corridor on the eastern border,” he told the one-day ‘Tribal Rights Conference’ here.

Parliamentarians and elders from the merged tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa attended the conference.

The JUI-F has opposed the merger of the erstwhile Fata with KP.

Mr Fazl said the government had put the Kashmir issue on the back burner.

“Ironically, the government is improving ties with India despite the continuous bloodshed in held Kashmir, while a war-like situation is being created on the western border,” he said.

The JUI-F chief said the people of the merged districts and Afghans had been suffering from a war for four decades.

“The tribal people and Afghans should be provided with an opportunity to live peacefully,” he said.

Mr Fazl said the unilateral friendship with India would not be beneficial for the country and that Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj had turned down the invitation to participate in the Saarc conference to be held in Islamabad despite the opening of Kartarpur corridor.

He insisted that Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa shouldn’t attend such functions otherwise he, too, would face criticism.

“The military should keep itself from the Kartarpur like functions,” he said.

The JUI-F chief alleged that the opening of the Kartarpur corridor was meant to facilitate a particular non-Muslim community on the pretext of Sikh community.

Terming the prime minister immature and unreliable, he said Gen Bajwa accompanied Imran Khan during the visit to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Miramshah and Kartarpur functions so that the premier couldn’t utter something foolish.

“Had Nawaz Sharif or any other leader delivered a speech like the one Imran made yesterday (at Kartarpur corridor, they would have been declared traitors,” he said.

Mr Fazl alleged that the military establishment had imposed a fake prime minister on the country through a dummy parliament.

“Imran Khan has come to power through a backdoor,” he said.

The JUI-F chief said the ill-planned merger of the erstwhile Fata with KP had created uncertainty and confusion.

He said the 25th Constitutional Amendment was passed by parliament ‘blindly’ and that the government was unable to manage the situation. Mr Fazl said the tribal areas were merged with KP but the provincial Assembly did not allocate a single penny for them in the annual budget.

“The area (erstwhile Fata) has been merged with the province but ironically, the KP police cannot go there,” he said, adding that he had advised the previous government not to take that decision in haste.

He said the government could not handle situation in the merged districts, whose people were disappointed. The JUI-F chief said Pakistan was paying price for involving itself in the Afghan war and that he had told former military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf not to support the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

Full report at:



Opposition rejects Imran’s speech as ‘a pack of lies’

Amir Wasim

November 30, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Mus­lim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on Thursday criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan over his speech which he delivered at a special ceremony marking completion of the first 100 days of his government, terming it “ineffective” and “a pack of lies”.

Reacting to the speeches made by the prime minister and his cabinet members at the ceremony held at Convention Centre, the spokespersons for the two parties blasted the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government for its “failed economic policies, unprecedented price hike and its much-hyped austerity drive”.

Take a look: First 100 Days Of PTI In Government - Performance Report

Terming the 100-day performance of the government “unimpressive, ridiculous and full of lies and U-turns,” PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said that her party would issue a ‘fact sheet’ on the government’s ‘real performance’ and expose its ‘lies and U-turns’ at a news conference on Friday.

Some three months before the July 25 general elections, PTI Chairman Imran Khan had unveiled his party’s ambitious ‘agenda’ outlining his commitments for starting work within the first 100 days of forming a government.

The salient features of the agenda were expeditious merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, bifurcation of Punjab province and reconciliation with estranged Baloch leaders. The agenda also contained a plan for introducing a development package for Karachi and a programme for poverty alleviation, besides a number of steps for improvement of the economy.

The opposition parties alleged that the government had totally failed to deliver on almost all the fronts, especially the economy and law and order situation.

Ms Aurangzeb said “the hopeless and useless government after failing to do anything on its own is now trying to take credit for the projects and initiatives of the PML-N government.” She said that Mr Khan was now taking the credit for the health cards schemes which had already been launched during the Nawaz Sharif government in the country’s 36 districts.

She regretted that the present government despite making tall claims had not initiated any programme for poverty alleviation.

“Instead of highlighting achievements of the first 100 days, the government has announced a plan for the next 100 days,” she said, adding that the nation kept on waiting to hear from the prime minister anything positive about the performance of the government.

The PML-N spokesperson said it seemed that a contest of telling lies among the ministers was going on at the Convention Centre, but at the end it was Imran Khan himself who won the medal.

“(Finance Minister) Asad Umar stood second and (Foreign Minister) Shah Mehmood Qureshi secured third position in the contest. (Information Minister) Fawad Chaudhry, who always stood first in such competitions, was nowhere to be seen,” she said in a light-hearted way.

Ms Aurangzeb asked Mr Khan to tell the nation “why foreign exchange reserves have come down from $17 billion in May to $11bn? Why the dollar has attained highest gain in the country’s history? Why inflation is at the highest? Why there has been a 67 per cent reduction in the foreign direct investment?”

She said that Imran Khan had himself admitted that his wife Bushra had to daily remind him that he was the prime minister of the country, confirming the opposition’s claim that Mr Khan was still doing “container politics”.

PPP’s Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, who is also the spokesman for party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, said in a statement that the speech of the “selected prime minister” was “totally unimpressive”.

“Despite ruling the country for 100 days, Imran Khan had nothing to tell the nation,” he said.

Mr Khokhar said that Imran Khan had centred his government’s foreign policy on “the begging bowl” and his claim of purging the police and bureaucracy of political influence had already been exposed.

Full report at:



Sikh pilgrims begin journey back to India

Nov 30, 2018

LAHORE: Sikh pilgrims who arrived in Pakistan to celebrate the 549th birth anniversary of founder of Sikhism Baba Guru Nanak, will start returning to India today.

Last week, a special train from across the border carried more than 3,000 pilgrims for the visit.

Lasting between November 23 and 28, ceremonies were held in Nankana Sahib, Hassanabdal, Lahore and Rohri. The week-long festivities included a number of rituals and distribution of sweets and langar.

Thousands of Sikhs from across the world converge on Gurdwara Punja Sahib in Hassanabdal each year for the birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan performed the groundbreaking of a four-kilometre-long Kartarpur corridor amid much fanfare in a ceremony attended by a number of dignitaries, including Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Indian Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu.

Full report at:



Ashrafi welcomes govt’s decision of opening Kartarpur border

Nov 30, 2018

MULTAN: Pakistan Ulema Council Chairman Allama Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi on Thursday welcomed the government’s decision of opening Kartarpur border, saying the initiative would affect Indian politics in the coming days.

Addressing a press conference at the Council’s Secretariat, South Punjab, he said that the Pakistan Ulema Council would support the government’s step taken in the public interest. He said that the decision of opening of Kartarpur border would not only bring changes in the politics of India but it would also help resolve the Kashmir issue. He said that the incumbent government was moving in the right direction and it was not possible to resolve pending matters of 70 years in 70 days.

Ashrafi said that he was in favour of the establishment of a separate province and urged the government to accelerate the process.

He said that Pakistan Ulema Council would continue to fight for Tahafuz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat (SAWW) and ready to sacrifice their lives for this purpose. He maintained that there should be no politics on Khatm-e-Nabuwwat and Tahafuz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat (SAWW). He said that action must be taken against the elements involved in agitation and destroying properties of the state and people in the name of Tahafuz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat (SAWW).

He said that there was no threat to any madrasa or mosque and a cell had been set up at Pakistan Ulema Council’s main office Lahore where issues related to madaris and mosques could be sent. He said that the government had formed a committee under the supervision of Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood regarding the issues, adding that all matters were being discussed with the ulema of the country.

To a question, Allama Tahir Ashrafi appealed to the Supreme Court (SC) to listen to the arguments of ulema in the Aasia Masih review petition and her name should be included in the Exit Control List (ECL) till its decision.

Full report at:



North America


US: DC group votes to rename street Jamal Khashoggi Way


By Umar Farooq


A group here voted in favor of changing the name of the street in front of the Saudi embassy to Jamal Khashoggi Way, sending a message to the international community and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, according to reports.

The Advisory Neighborhood Commission moved to support the name change after the slain journalist during a meeting Wednesday.

Nihad Awad, the head for the Council of American-Islamic Relations, the U.S.’s largest civil rights group, told Anadolu Agency at a memorial for Khashoggi, his group was working on the change.

The change needs approval from the District of Colombia City Council.

The meeting Wednesday occurred after a vote in the Senate moved to support advancing a resolution to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition's war in Yemen.

The resolution will now be taken up on the Senate floor, where it will be debated next week.

Many politicians in Washington have grown critical of U.S. President Donald Trump's reaction to the killing, after the CIA concluded Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of the Saudi national after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul early last month.

After initially saying he had left the consulate alive, Saudi Arabia admitted weeks later that he was killed there.

The U.S. administration of Donald Trump has indicated it will continue to support Saudi Arabia, despite the killing.



Texas Republicans Want To Oust Muslim Party Leader Because Of His Faith, Emails Suggest


FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Republican leaders in one of the most populous counties in Texas want to remove a party vice chairman because he’s Muslim, according to emails between party leaders.

The emails delivered anonymously to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram indicate the Tarrant County GOP executive committee plans to vote Jan. 10 on whether to remove Shahid Shafi from his leadership position.

Some in the party say Shafi, a surgeon and city council member in a Fort Worth suburb, may be more loyal to Islamic law or not supportive enough of the party’s pro-Israel platform.

Shafi counters that he supports American laws and the court system, and says he has no affiliation to “any terrorist organization,” as some have alleged. Shafi, who became a U.S. citizen in 2009 and shortly after joined the Republican Party, says he supports the Second Amendment and has never promoted Sharia, or Islamic, law.

He’s one of four GOP leaders in the county that some party members are trying to unseat. Another being targeted is a GOP precinct chairwoman who’s married to a Muslim.

The emails expressed alarm with party leaders after Democrat Beto O’Rourke won the county in his bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who ultimately won re-election. Tarrant County is the third most populous in Texas with more than 2 million residents, trailing only Harris and Dallas counties. O’Rourke’s showing was the first time in decades that a Democrat running for federal office has won the county.

One email by a Republican activist said, “We have become overly lax.”

Lisa Grimaldi Abdulkareem, the precinct chairwoman who’s married to a Muslim, told the Star-Telegram that it will be the downfall of the Republican Party if it “doesn’t stand up against those who want to discriminate against others.”

Full report at:



US touts new evidence of Iranian weaponry in Yemen, Afghanistan

November 30, 2018

WASHINGTON: The United States on Thursday displayed pieces of what it said were Iranian weapons deployed to militants in Yemen and Afghanistan, a tactic by President Donald Trump’s administration to pressure Tehran to curb its regional activities.

The second presentation of Iranian weapons by the Pentagon, many of which were handed over by Saudi Arabia, coincides with growing concern in Congress over US military support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war, which has led to a deep humanitarian crisis.

Members of Congress have escalated their opposition to Saudi Arabia after the Oct 2 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in its Istanbul consulate. Despite administration pleas to stick with the Saudis and thereby counter Iran, the Senate voted on Wednesday to advance a resolution to end military support for the Saudis in Yemen.

If Iran were found to be shipping arms to Yemen, Afghanistan and other countries, it would be in violation of United Nations resolutions.

This news agency was given advanced access to the military hangar at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling just outside of Washington where the US Defence Department put the fragments of weaponry on display and explained how it concluded that they came from Iran.

Full report at:



Trump support for Saudi prince leaves Turkey with tough choices

NOVEMBER 30, 2018

Eight weeks since the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, US President Donald Trump’s unwavering support for the kingdom’s powerful crown prince has left Turkey in a bind.

The longer it confronts Saudi Arabia over who exactly ordered the operation, the more it risks looking isolated as other countries put aside their misgivings and return to business with the world’s biggest oil exporter.

A prolonged standoff with Riyadh could also jeopardise Turkey’s own fragile rapprochement with Washington, if it forces Trump to choose sides between the rival regional powers.

Turkey’s dilemma comes to a head this week at the G20 summit of the world’s main economies, where President Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman could meet, according to Turkish officials.

Without naming him, Erdogan has repeatedly suggested the prince has questions to answer over the killing, while one of his advisers has said bluntly that Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler has Khashoggi’s blood on his hands.

But Erdogan has avoided talking about Khashoggi’s death in recent speeches, raising questions about whether he may soften his stance towards the 33-year-old heir to the throne who could be running Saudi Arabia for several decades to come.

“A meeting may take place. A final decision has not been made yet,” senior political source said, shortly before Erdogan’s departure for the summit in Argentina.

“Saudi Arabia is an important country for Turkey … Nobody wants relations to sour because of the Khashoggi murder.”

Erdogan has good relations with the Saudi monarch, King Salman, but ties have been strained by recent Saudi moves including the blockade of Qatar, championed by Salman’s son.

Analysts say Erdogan sees Saudi assertiveness under the prince as challenging Turkey’s influence in the Middle East. It was the steady drip of evidence from Turkish officials – furious over what they said was a gruesome and carefully planned assassination in their country – which fuelled global outrage at Saudi Arabia and Prince Mohammed.

Erdogan said the hit was ordered at the highest levels of Saudi leadership, and the CIA assessed the prince was directly behind it, despite vehement Saudi denials.

But nearly two months since Khashoggi was killed and his body dismembered by a team of 15 Saudi agents, Western powers have taken little action against Saudi Arabia, a big buyer of Western arms and a strategic ally of Washington.

Full report at:



Hate crimes against Muslims in Canada rose 151 pc during 2017

30 November 2018

The number of hate crimes reported to police in Canada jumped by 47 percent in 2017 from the previous year, targeting mostly Muslim, Jewish or black people, the government statistical agency said Thursday.

“For the year, police reported 2,073 hate crimes, 664 more than in 2016,” with most of the uptick in graffiti and vandalism, incitement of hatred, assaults, and uttering threats in Ontario and Quebec provinces, said Statistics Canada.

This followed steady but relatively small increases in previous years, the agency said. Property crimes played the biggest role in the increase while violent hate crimes grew by 25 percent, it said.

Race or ethnicity

These were motivated primarily by hatred of a race or ethnicity (878 crimes, up 32 percent), religion (842 crimes, up 83 percent), or sexual orientation (204 crimes, up 16 percent).

In particular, hate crimes against Muslims rose 151 percent to 349 in 2017 -- a year marked by a xenophobic young man’s killing of six worshippers at a Quebec mosque. Hate crimes against Jews rose 63 percent to 360, while those targeting blacks increased by 50 percent to 321.

Full report at:



5 US senators paid by Saudi lobby voted against Yemen war bill: Study

Nov 30, 2018

At least five of the 37 US republican senators who voted against a recent resolution to end US military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen have received election contributions from lobbying groups working for Saudi Arabia, according to a study.

Senators Tim Scott, John Boozman, Roy Blunt, Richard Burr and Mike Crapo all received financial contributions from firms representing Saudi interests between 2016 and 2017, according to an investigation by the Center for International Policy (CIP).

The report, released last month by the Washington-based think tank, illustrates how Riyadh uses its vast wealth to influence US foreign policy.

All five Republican senators voted against advancing the bill, which, if passed, would force the US to limit its support for the devastating Saudi war in Yemen.

Senators in the upper chamber of Congress voted 63 to 37 to move the resolution forward. The House of Representatives has yet to take action over the Yemen war.

Saudi Arabia spent around $27 million on lobbying in 2017, according to some estimates.

Some lobbying firms, such as the Glover Park Group and BRG Group, have dropped their Saudi clients in the wake of the backlash over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

US President Donald Trump has dismissed a CIA assessment that Saudi’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, likely ordered Khashoggi’s murder.

Trump has vowed to remain a “steadfast partner” of Saudi Arabia despite repeated calls from members of Congress for a strong US response to Khashoggi’s death.

Khashoggi’s killing has put unprecedented pressure on the traditionally close ties between the two countries and helped bolster efforts to stop the Saudi-led war.

Full report at:



US efforts to regain lost power in Mideast 'futile': Hezbollah official

Nov 29, 2018

A deputy head of Lebanon's Hezbollah resistance movement says the US dream of restoring its lost power in the Middle East in cooperation with Saudi Arabia will never come true.

"The US, in cooperation with Saudi Arabia, is trying to restore its power in the region," Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem told a gathering of Lebanese students in Tehran on Thursday, adding, "However, we tell them that you will die before seeing your dream realized."

Sheikh Qassem further referred to the destabilizing US role in the region, saying President Donald Trump is selling American missiles to the Saudi regime for the slaughter of Yemeni people on the pretext that they serve his country's "strategic interests" and "regional stability".

"This comes as the US and Israel were defeated by Lebanon [in 2006] and recently by [Hamas in] Gaza in a very short period of time," he added.

The Lebanese official was referring to Israel's 2006 war on Lebanon, which ended with Hezbollah's victory, and the recent two-day conflict between the Israeli military and the Palestinian resistance forces in Gaza, which resulted in another defeat for the Tel Aviv regime.

The 33-day war between Israel and Hezbollah began in 2006 with the Israeli army launching airstrikes against Lebanese cities as well as the positions of the resistance movement. The war resulted in the demolition of thousands of homes and the deaths of over 1,000 Lebanese civilians.

Some 162 Israelis, including 119 soldiers, were also killed during the fighting. As Tel Aviv realized that it could not bomb Hezbollah into submission, it accepted UN Resolution 1701 to end the war.

The recent Israeli military aggression against the Gaza Strip also saw 14 Palestinians killed and several others injured in 48 hours as the Israeli airstrikes and shells reduced buildings to rubble and sent fireballs and plumes of smoke into the sky.

However, the Palestinian resistance retaliated by firing over 400 rockets on the occupied territories, forcing the Israeli regime to call for a truce.

The current administration of President Trump has undermined regional stability by taking a hard line in favor of the Israeli regime and against Palestinians.

Full report at:



Washington says Astana process produced Syria 'stalemate'

November 30, 2018

The Astana process by Russia, Iran and Turkey to end the Syrian conflict has only led to a "stalemate" in efforts to establish a constitutional committee crucial to a political settlement, the US said on Thursday.

Establishment and convening of the committee by year's end "is vital to a lasting de-escalation and a political solution to the conflict," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

Her comments came after the outgoing UN envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, regretted that there was "no tangible progress" on the composition of the constitutional committee at two days of talks which ended Thursday in the Kazakh capital Astana.

Moscow and Tehran, allies of the Damascus regime, began the Astana process in January 2017 along with rebel-backer Turkey.

The Astana process followed a Russian military intervention which tipped the military balance in favor of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad's authoritarian regime.

"Russia and Iran continue to use the process to mask the Assad regime's refusal to engage in the political process" under UN auspices, Ms Nauert said.

She added that "success is not possible without the international community holding Damascus fully accountable for the lack of progress in resolving the conflict."

The Astana process has gradually eclipsed the earlier UN-sponsored negotiations framework known as the Geneva process, which had put more emphasis on political transition but failed to curb violence that has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions.

Full report at:





United Nations wants Syria to account for war dead, detainees

29 November 2018

The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria urged the Security Council on Wednesday to press the Syrian government to provide information to families about the fate of those missing or detained during the seven-year war.

Following a closed-door informal meeting with council members, the commission chairman said it was crucial to push the government to give a full account after it began in May to release death notifications.

“The issues of the detainees and the disappeared should not be dealt after peace, but now is the time to consider this,” said Paulo Pinheiro, who heads the commission set up to investigate human rights violations in the war.

In May, the military police and army provided for the first time information to government civil registry offices on the deceased, allowing families to finally learn the fate of their loved ones.

“The state is beginning to put out that information, but little else,” said commission member Hanny Megally. “The families have a right to know what happened, where the bodies are, to get information about them.”

An international independent body must be given access to all places of detention to confirm who is still alive in detention, he added.

The commission hopes council members including Russia, Syria's ally, can encourage the Damascus government to take steps to address demands from the families of lost or missing loved ones. Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions.

UN-led diplomatic efforts to end the war have stalled, but Russia, Iran and Turkey are spearheading a separate drive to stabilize the country.



French President to meet Saudi Crown Prince in G20

29 November 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron will meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of a G20 meeting in Argentina.

The Saudi Crown Prince had arrived in Argentina on Wednesday to attend the G20 meetings.

The Kremlin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov had also confirmed on Wednesday that the schedule of Russian President Vladimir Putin includes a meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.



UK: 608 Islamophobic incidents recorded in 6 months


By Muhammad Mussa 


A total of 685 reports of racially aggravated incidences, with 608 being anti-Muslim in nature were recorded between January and June 2018, a report revealed. 

The report published on Thursday by Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks), a group which records anti-Muslim incidents in the U.K., found that the majority of the 608 incidences that took place occurred on the streets. 

The group said “offline” attacks make 45.3 percent of reported incidents that means “they occurred in-person between a victim and a perpetrator, or include acts of property damage or discrimination”.

However, the report found that “incidents of an online nature totalled 207, or 34%, of verified cases in this reporting period”, with the majority (59%) taking place on Twitter and the rest taking place on Facebook and other social media platforms. 

Other than publishing the general statistics of Islamophobia, the report also focused on the gendered nature of anti-Muslim hate crimes, with 58 percent of victims being Muslim women. 

The analysis reveals how Muslim women who wear hijab are seen as “others” in society and that due to the visibility of the headscarf, the stereotype that Muslim women are weak, meek and submissive is heavily enforced, thus allowing such attacks to occur against Muslim women than against their male counterparts. 

The report also highlights the importance of understanding that Islamophobia is not confined to the streets or online platforms, rather there exists an institutionalized and structured form of Islamophobia. 

Structural prejudice, the report reveals, can impact Muslims when interacting with law enforcement, academic institutions or even at work places.

“Such acts of hatred, discrimination, and racism are not solely the actions of violent bigots who exist on the margins of society – we must instead examine the everyday nature of Islamophobia which curtails the agency and mobility of Muslims when they access public transport, go shopping, are at work, or travelling on holiday”.

The rise of Islamophobia in the U.K. in recent years has also seen new methods to targets Muslims.

Full report at:



Syrian refugee pleas for no violence towards bully

November 30, 2018

A teenage refugee who was the subject of an attack caught on video and shared online has spoken of his concern over threats of violence online towards his bully.

The 15-year-old boy, originally from Homs, but now living in the northern city of Huddersfield was shown in a video shared this week being held down and ‘waterboarded’ by a bully. The attacker threatens to drown him, before forcefully pouring water down his neck.

The video has been shared thousands of times online, leading to criticism of the school, Almondbury Community School and threats of reprisals against the bully shown in the video.

In an interview with news website HuffPost, the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said he had become concerned when he saw the violent nature of the comments online.

“I don’t want anything terrible to happen to him at all,” he said. “I just don’t want anything bad to happen to anyone.”

The victim’s 14-year-old sister has also been the subject of bullying - another video surfaced on social media on Thursday of her allegedly being tormented by a fellow pupil.

West Yorkshire Police said a youth had been called to the police station on suspicion of the attack on the boy, and that it was liaising with the girl’s family regarding the latest video to surface.

“He is a very impressive young man and was quite disturbed by the threats made on social media towards the bully,” the family’s solicitor, Tasnime Akunjee, told HuffPost.

Mr Akunjee said the extent of the bullying of both of their children had led them to consider leaving the area after being resettled there two years agi as part of a UN programme. The family had previously lived in Lebanon for six years.

Full report at:





Hunt on to nab three most wanted terrorists in J&K


Nov 30, 2018

Security forces in Jammu and Kashmir have shifted their focus to three top surviving terror commanders, after the forces wiped-out almost entire top militant leadership in the Kashmir valley in the 11 months of 2018.

Hizbul Mujahideen chief operations commander Reyaz Ahmad Naikoo alias Mohommad bin Qasim, chief of Al Qaeda affiliate Ansar Ghazwat ul Hind outfit Zakir Rashid Bhat alias Zakir Musa, and Zeenat-ul-Islam, who recently switched side from Hizbul Mujahideen to Al Badr, are now on the radar of the security forces.

A resident of Tokun Beighpora village of South Kashmir's Pulwama district, Naikoo joined Hizbul in December 2012 after quitting his job as school teacher. An A++ category terrorist, he rose to the rank of chief operations commander after Hizbul top brass, including Burhan Wani, was eliminated in the Valley. A tech savvy commander, he is the mastermind of recent abductions of the policemen in south Kashmir.

Zeenat-ul-Islam, considered an IED expert, has been hopping from one terror outfit to another since he took up arms in November 2015. A resident of Sugan Zainpora village of south Kashmir's Shopian district, he recently released his audio message announcing that he has joined Al Badr. Another Category A++ terrorist, he is one of the most wanted commanders of the Valley.

Zakir Rashid Bhat alias Zakir Musa, who is the chief commander of Al Qaeda affiliate Ansar Ghazwat ul Hind, is another top commander wanted by the security forces. Hailing from Noorpora Tral, Zakir Musa was a top aide of Burhan Wani before he switched sides and brought Al Qaeda to Kashmir. Musa, an engineering drop-out, joined terror ranks in 2013 and is considered an A++ category terrorist.

The three surviving commanders are part of list of top most wanted commanders drawn by the security forces in 2018. More than 15 top most commanders have been eliminated by the security forces so far in the valley.

"We are coordinating with others forces on daily basis. We review our work and strategy on a day to day basis. I feel that all their commanders are our target. Our efforts are on to enhance operational work in future," said Dilbag Singh, Director General of Police, Jammu and Kashmir.

Some of the top commanders who have been slain included Naveed Jutt alias Abu Hanzulla, Mushtaq Ahmed Mir alias Hammad, Mehraj-ud-din Bangroo, Abu Muaz, Azad Ahmad Malik, all belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Altaf Ahmad Dar alias Altaf Kachroo, Umar Majeed Ganie alias Maaz, Manan Wani, Saddam Paddar, Sammer Tiger and Abbas Bhat were some of the top commanders of Hizbul Mujahideen that were eliminated this year.

Security forces also killed Jaish-e-Mohammed chief commander Mufti Waqas, who was the mastermind of Sunjwan army camp attack, Mufti Yasir and Usman Hyder, the nephew of Jaish chief and Pathankote attack mastermind Masood Azhar.

Figures collected by the different security agencies reveal that 227 terrorists were killed in different encounters across the Kashmir valley. Of these 124 were locals, 44 foreigners (Pakistanis) and 59 unidentified.



For better ties with India, Pakistan needs to be a secular state: Army chief Bipin Rawat

Nov 30, 2018

Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said in Pune on Friday that Pakistan needs to be a secular state to have better ties with India, reports ANI.

“Pakistan has made its state an Islamic State. If they have to stay together with India, then they have to develop as a secular state. If they’re willing to become secular like us, then they seem to have an opportunity.” Rawat said at a function to review the passing out parade of 135th course of the National Defence Academy in Pune.

The observation comes amid Pakistan expressing an inclination for greater engagement, most of which came in the wake of the two nations deciding to build a corridor for Sikh pilgrims from India to visit the Kartarpur shrine in Pakistan.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan acknowledged on Thursday it was not in the country’s interest to allow its soil to be used for terrorism and said he was prepared to talk to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi at “any time”.

Full report at:



PM Modi meets Saudi Prince on sidelines of G20 summit

Nov 30, 2018

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of the G20 summit here on Thursday and they discussed ways to further boost economic, cultural and energy ties. The two sides also held discussions on enhancing investment in technology, renewable energy and food security.

“Had a fruitful interaction with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. We discussed multiple aspects of India-Saudi Arabia relations and ways to further boost economic, cultural and energy ties,” the prime minister wrote on Twitter.

“Deepening strategic ties. PM @narendramodi met with Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud on sidelines of #G20Argentina. Discussed enhancing Saudi investment in technology, infrastructure, petroleum, renewable energy, food security, fintech & defence sectors,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.

“In recent years, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been a valuable partner. The relationship has expanded beyond the Indian community to issues related to the economy, energy and security. All issues of bilateral and regional interest will be discussed,” PMO sources said.

Click here for live updates on G-20 summit.

Later, the prime minister met UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. According to the sources, the UN Secretary General has reached out to the PM for the second time in two months.

They said the meeting signifies the importance that both leaders attach to the issue of climate change. This outreach comes just a week before the COP24 meet in Katowice, Poland.

“It reflects the respect in which the prime minister and his initiatives are held globally to take the lead on issues of global importance,” the sources said.

On the sidelines of the two-day 13th G-20 summit, Modi, Trump and Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe will hold a trilateral meeting amidst China flexing its muscles in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.

The trilateral, which would be an expansion of the bilateral meeting between Trump and Abe, is part of the series of meetings the US president would have on the sidelines of the G-20 summit on November 30 and December 1.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said on Thursday the trilateral meeting with Prime Minister Modi will be held towards the end of the Trump-Abe talks.

“Looking forward to a wide range of interactions at the G-20 Summit, aimed at furthering sustainable development,” Prime Minister Modi tweeted soon after he landed here.

Full report at:



November bloodiest month for militants in Kashmir, 9 top commanders killed

Nov 29, 2018

With 37 militants killed in encounters across Kashmir, November has been the bloodiest month of this year for the insurgents. Among the militants killed this month, nine were top commanders, including Lashkar-e-Taiba’s face Naveed Jatt, who was shot dead on Wednesday in Budgam district.

As per official figures, 227 militants have been killed in different parts of Kashmir so far this year. While they belonged to different organisations, the Lashkar and Hizbul Mujahideen suffered major losses this month as both groups lost some of their top commanders, especially in south Kashmir, which has become a hotbed of militancy. Last year, 207 militants were killed in this period.

This November, nine militant commanders were killed - five affiliated with the Hizbul Mujahideen and four with the Lashkar. Officials say the focus of late has been to target the militant commanders who are pivotal in fresh recruitment to the outfits.

J&K’s director general of police, Dilbag Singh said the number of militants at present is hovering around 250. “After several successful operations, the graph of militancy, especially in south Kashmir, has come down and fresh recruitment has also declined.’’

A senior police officer who keeps an eye on militancy and fresh recruitment told Hindustan Times that this year more than 15 top militant commanders affiliated with Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar, Hizbul Mujahideen, Harkat-ul- Mujahideen and Ansar–ul-Gazwat- ul-Hind were killed in different operations launched by the forces. “Even the militant modules who were helping commanders and several hideouts were busted.’’

The officer said that now only three to four prominent top commanders are active - Hizbul Mujahideen’s operational commander, Riyaz Naikoo, Al Badr commander, Zeenat-ul Islam who was earlier with Hizbul Mujahideen and now has shifted to Albadr, Lateef Tiger who was an associate of Burhan Wani and Zakir Musa, the chief of Ansar-ul-Gazwat-ul-Hind. “The killings of several commanders have put the commanders who are at large under tremendous pressure,’’ the officer said.

The spate of militant killings, officials said, have also led to a decline of the number of Lashkar cadres present in the Valley which was earlier somewhere between 120-150. This year, more than 45 militants, most of them foreigners, were killed on the Line of Control while trying to sneak into Valley.

Officials give several reasons for the successful operations in south Kashmir, especially in last three months. “The intelligence network, flow of information from both human and other sources and shifting of the militants from forests to populated areas in the month of November are the reasons for killing of militants,’’ said an officer deployed in south Kashmir.

Full report at:



Imran Khan’s ‘googly’ ensured presence of Indian ministers at Kartarpur Corridor event: Shah Mahmood Qureshi

Nov 29, 2018

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Thursday said Prime Minister Imran Khan bowled a “googly” to ensure Indian government’s presence at the groundbreaking ceremony of the landmark Kartarpur Corridor.

Qureshi’s remarks came a day after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj categorically ruled out the possibility of resumption of bilateral talks with Pakistan unless it stops cross-border terror activities against India.

Pakistan earlier invited Swaraj for Wednesday’s ceremony. But Swaraj said she was unable to travel to Kartarpur Sahib due to prior commitments. India was represented at the events by Union ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri.

Qureshi said that opening of the Kartarpur border was a “big achievement” of the cricketer-turned-politician’s government, which on Thursday completed the first 100 days in office after winning the general elections.

“Imran delivered a googly and India sent two ministers to Pakistan,” he said, using a cricketing term.

A googly is a leg-spinner’s prize weapon, which is almost undetectable.

Qureshi noted that it was the same Indian government that had said it will not engage with Pakistan.

He said a meeting with Indian counterpart Swaraj was fixed on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last year but it was cancelled by India. He also said that India refused to engage even after the letter written by Prime Minister Khan to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to resume bilateral talks.

He was referring to the letter Khan wrote in September, seeking to seeking to re-start the bilateral talks.

Nearly 24 hours after agreeing to have a bilateral meeting between Swaraj and Qureshi on the sidelines of the UNGA, India called off the meeting, citing the brutal killings of three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir and Islamabad releasing postage stamps “glorifying” Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani.

“Tensions with India are not hidden from anyone but our approach is people-centric and we need peace for people to prosper. We need peace in order to speed up the development of our country,” Qureshi said.

He recalled that “Imran Khan said he will take two steps for every one step India takes.” Qureshi also condemned the violence in Kashmir and said that Pakistan always stood with people of Kashmir and would always stand by them. “This is one issue on which all political parties are united,” he said.

Speaking on Pakistan’s “achievements” in international relations during the first 100 days of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government, Qureshi said that Pakistan’s case at global level was not heard before — something he said his ministry was trying to address.

“Our neighbour wanted to weaken Pakistan,” he said, in an apparent reference to India. “We could not present Pakistan’s case before the world because we did not have a lawyer.

The foreign minister said that the first thing on the government’s foreign agenda was to have better relations with Afghanistan.

The Pakistan foreign minister said the new government has now carved out from scratch the country’s foreign policy priorities. He said government was committed to have peaceful ties with all neighbours. He said that Pakistan had set up institutional framework with Afghanistan to settle all problems.

Qureshi said that Pakistan gave a lot of importance to relations with Iran and would not let the ties with Tehran to deteriorate.

He said relations with China were solid and poised to further deepen as the two sides have given new direction to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Full report at:



Arab World


Saudi minister Abdullatif al-Sheikh: Muslim Brotherhood is evil, unlawful

29 November 2018

Saudi minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz al-Sheikh has said that Muslim Brotherhood and its leadership are ruthless and evil.

In a tweet sent out on Wednesday, he said: “The Muslim Brotherhood, especially its leaders, do not mind doing anything, no matter how haraam (unlawful), or repugnant it is, to harm anyone, which reveals how evil they are against the country and its people.”

The Saudi official further said that the Muslim Brotherhood’s presence can be very toxic for any country and its people.

In his tweet, minister Abdullatif al-Sheikh said: “Muslim Brotherhood is like a very toxic snake” naming a snake which is founf in the desert.



US Plot to Occupy Strategic Iraq-Syria Corridor Revealed

Nov 29, 2018

The Arabic-language Sham Times reported on Thursday that the US-led coalition has transferred nearly 850 of the 11,000 militia stationed in Southeastern Syria to its military bases in Western Iraq.

It added that members of Ahmed Aboud, Aswad al-Sharqiyeh, Jeish Maqawir al-Thawra and Jeish Syria al-Jadid terrorist groups are stationed in the bordering triangle of Syria, Iraq and Jordan (al-Tanf and the nearby areas), saying that the US has come to believe that since al-Tanf has been surrounded by the Syrian army and its allies, its current plan in the region might prove futile in future.

According to the report, the US wants to implement a new plot in Eastern Syria by transferring the first group of these terrorists to Ein al-Assad base and al-Habaniyeh base in Western Iraq which already host over 7,000 soldiers, including 5,800 Americans and 1,200 other nationalities.

It added that given the fact that the US has at present occupied the Iraqi side of al-Qaem-Albu Kamal corridor, it seems that it is attempting to take full control of the passageway.

According to numerous witness accounts, militants are receiving training at the US military base near the Syrian city of Al-Tanf, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing last Thursday.

Russia is also concerned about the United States’ activities in Syria, the foreign ministry spokeswoman went on to say.

"The so-called US-led coalition has been conducting intensive airstrikes on the outskirts of Hajin, occupied by ISIL, causing numerous civilian deaths," Zakharova stressed, noting that "according to the Syrian media, the coalition has once again used white phosphorus shells".

Full report at:



Turkish Army Continues Attacks against Kurds after US Sets Up Observation Posts

Nov 29, 2018

The Arabic-language al-Manar news channel reported on Wednesday that the Turkish army targeted a vehicle of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) at a bordering passageway in the town of Tal Abyadh in Northern Raqqa, adding that Ankara also flew reconnaissance drones over the town's airspace.

Meantime, field sources said that several SDF forces have been killed and wounded, noting that the attack was launched only a few hours after the US set up an observation post at the Syrian-Turkish borders.

Also, reports said that the US forces had started surveillance operations from Tal Abyadh and Ein al-Arab (Kobani) to Ra'as al-Ein near the borders between Syria and Turkey to allegedly prevent Ankara's offensives against Kurds.

Meantime, the Kurdish forces are building a strong 20-km cement tunnel in the South of Ra'as al-Ein in Northern Hasaka near the border with Turkey to prepare for confrontation against the Turkish army.

Sources said that the Kurds have in the past week sent a large number of excavation tools to the region and destroyed a large area of farms.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Ankara's allies acted as shields for terrorists groups in Syria targeting Turkey's national security, and criticized US military support to the PKK's Syrian affiliate under the pretext of fighting Daesh (ISIL).

"Terrorists who have shown enmity against our country clearly are the only targets for us. This is an opportunity for those claiming to be allies, strategic partners who want to strengthen relations politically, economically and militarily and carry them into the future. We will acknowledge that they side with Turkey when they no longer stand as shields in front of terrorists groups," Erdogan said during his address to his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) lawmakers in Parliament.

In his criticism, the Turkey's president was implicitly referring to the United States, which supports the People's Protection Units (YPG) militarily as its partners against Daesh in Syria. Washington's Syria policy has angered Ankara as the latter sees no difference between the PKK, a group listed on terror lists by Washington and EU, and its Syrian branch, the YPG.

"The sole target of this terrorist group, which is the Syrian branch of the PKK, is our country. We can no long stand idle against this threat," Erdogan stated, adding that Turkey will take the necessary action if the US does not take into consideration Ankara's security concerns regarding the continued arming of the YPG.

The Turkish president has said previously that the YPG has received thousands of truck-loads of weaponry from the US and that these weapons will ultimately be used against Turkey, given the organic links between the PKK and YPG.

"It is clear that the aim of those arming tens of thousands of people is not the fight against terror as there is not even one Deash element left along Turkey's borders," Erdogan stressed, referring to the ongoing US partnership with the YPG in Northeastern Syria, South of the Turkish border.

Erdogan also added that several issues, including developments in Syria and the fight against terror, were expected to be discussed in National Security Council (MGK) meeting.

Full report at:



Several Ankara-Backed Militants Killed by Kurds in Afrin

Nov 29, 2018

The Arabic-language service of Hawar news reported on Wednesday that the Kurdish militia blasted a military vehicle of Ankara-backed Ferqat al-Hamzeh militants in Afrin on a road between the center of the town and the village of Basouteh in Shirawa, killing 4 terrorists and severely wounding 2 others.

They also targeted a vehicle of Jibhat al-Shamiyeh terrorist group in the village of Koubleh near Afrin, destroying the car and killing one militant inside.

Meantime, the Kurds' operations against Faylaq al-Sham terrorists on the road linking Borj Heidar in Shirawa region killed two militants.

Also, field sources in Afrin reported that heavy clashes erupted between the Kurds and Turkey-backed militants in the village of al-Malekiyeh near Afrin after the former attempted to infiltrate into the latter group's positions and was targeted.

Relevant reports said last week that the Turkish army and allied militants attacked the Syrian Democratic Forces' positions in Hasaka and Raqqa near the borders with Turkey as the SDF was preparing to repel Ankara's offensives.

The Arabic-language al-Manar news channel reported on Wednesday that the Turkish army's artillery units targeted an SDF stronghold near the village of al-Monbateh West of al-Abyadh city at the border between Syria and Turkey in Northern Raqqa.

Meantime, field sources in Hasaka province reported that the Turkish army forces had attacked the SDF positions in Kharab Kourt region near Qamishli at the borders.

The Turkish army forces have also pounded several regions in Eastern Euphrates in the past few days.

Also, media activists reported that the SDF in Hasaka was digging tunnels around the town of Ra'as al-Ayn in Northwestern Hasaka in preparation for battle with the Turkish army and affiliated militants.

Full report at:



2 Notorious Terrorist Commanders Killed in Northern Syria

Nov 29, 2018

Sources affiliated to the terrorists reported on Wednesday that a field commander of Ankara-backed Nour al-Din Zinki group, affiliated to the so-called National Liberation Front (NLF), namely Mohammed al-Seyed, was assassinated by unknown assailants near the village of Aqrabat in Northern Idlib.

Other reports also said that unknown gunmen fired at members of Faylaq al-Sham terrorists affiliated to the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the town of Banesh in Northern Idlib.

Meantime, reports said that a military commander of Ansar al-Din militants, namely Ahmed Bashwat, was killed by unknown raiders in Southwestern Aleppo.

Assassination operations in Northern Syria have recently increased as tensions among the terrorist groups heightened.

Tensions among terrorist groups and insecurities in regions occupied by militants in Idlib and Aleppo provinces have exacerbated, field sources in Northern Syria said on Saturday, adding that more senior terrorist commanders have been shot dead by unidentified attackers in the region.

Unknown assailants have killed several terrorist commanders, including two from Tahrir al-Sham Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front), in Idlib and Aleppo provinces.

A commander of Tahrir al-Sham named Abdollah Ansari was killed in an attack by unknown gunmen in the town of Ahsam in Jebel al-Zaviyeh region in Southern Idlib, field sources in Idlib said.

Meantime, another Tahrir al-Sham commander nom de guerre Abu Jalbib was shot dead by unidentified assailants in the town of al-Dana in Northern Idlib, they added.

In Western Aleppo, a former commander of Jeish al-Mojahedin was also killed by unknown gunmen in Batbou village.

Full report at:



Terrorists Fail to Launch Offensive on Army in Several Fronts in Demilitarized Zone

Nov 29, 2018

The army units in the Northern parts of the town of Mharadeh in Northern Hama targeted the terrorists' moves towards the army positions near the village of al-Jaisat with artillery fire, leaving heavy damage on the militants.

Also, the Syrian army troops in Southeastern Idlib attacked the moves of the militants towards the army-held areas in Haysh, Dar al-Salam, Babolin, Um Jalal, al-Tamane'ah, al-Khowin, Um al-Khalakhil, al-Zarzour and Sakik regions, inflicting heavy tolls and damage on them.

Meantime, media activists reported that the Russia-run Humeimim airbase in the coastal province of Lattakia has blown up a drone of the militants in the air.

Also, the Syrian army's artillery units attacked the terrorists' positions in the town of Kabaneh and the nearby areas in Northeastern Lattakia.

The army forces also warded off attacks by Harz al-Mo'menin terrorist group from Job al-Ahmar in Northeastern Lattakia after heavy clashes, killing a number of them; other militants retreated the region towards Jisr al-Shaqour.

Meantime, reports from Southwestern Aleppo said that the Syrian army has targeted the terrorists' positions in response to their offensives on residential areas in Jamiat al-Zahra region.

The terrorists' refusal to implement the Sochi Agreement to establish a demilitarized zone is pushing the army to initiate its long-waited assault on militants in Idlib that had been put on hold due to the Sochi Agreement.

Colonel Mar'ei Hamdan, a Syrian military expert, was quoted by the Arabic-language website of Sputnik news agency as saying earlier this month that Tahrir al-Sham is in control of nearly 70% of towns and villages in Idlib province and makes provocative moves against the Syrian army, adding that the army's commitment to decrease tensions is not lasting forever.

He added that the Syrian army has so far repelled all attacks by terrorists against its positions and inflicted heavy damages on them, noting that the army is now necessitated to come out of the defensive mood to retake control of Idlib.

Hamdan said that Tahrir al-Sham will resort to a full-scale military operation against the Syrian and Russian armies soon, after rejecting the Sochi agreement last October, which leaves no room for ceasefire or disarmament anymore, and underlined that the Syrian army's battle against Tahrir al-Sham is inevitable.

Meantime, the Turkey-backed Ahrar al-Sham and National Liberation Front (NLF) terrorist groups has also dismissed the Russian-Turkish Sochi agreement and is preparing for military operations against the army in Northern Syria, calling for a coalition with Tahrir al-Sham.

Tahrir al-Sham and other allied terrorist groups have not left the demilitarized zone two months after the Sochi agreement and have instead reinvigorated their strongholds and targeted the army positions every day.

Relevant reports said that the Turkey-backed NLF had put its gunmen on alert to launch a heavy offensive against the Syrian army in the demilitarized zone in Idlib province.

Full report at:



Report: Israel jets bomb targets near Damascus, southern Syria

30 November 2018

Israeli jets on Thursday bombed several areas near Damascus as well as in southern Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.

“Israeli forces bombarded for an hour positions in the southern and southwestern suburbs of Damascus as well as in the south of Syria at the border of Quneitra province” the Observatory’s chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

Earlier, Syrian state media said air defenses downed a number of “hostile targets” close to the capital. “Our air defenses fired on hostile targets over the Kisweh area and downed them,” the official SANA news agency reported, citing a military source.

The area south of Damascus has been targeted by alleged Israeli strikes in the past, which a monitor said have killed members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards force and other pro-Iranian militias. Abdel Rahman said there are “weapons depots belonging to the Lebanese Hezbollah (group) as well as Iranian forces” in Kisweh.

Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in neighboring Syria against what it says are Iranian targets. Syrian air defenses in September opened fire to intercept alleged Israeli missiles targeting ammunition depots in the northwestern province of Latakia, but instead downed a Russian jet.

Abdel Rahman said Thursday was the first time Syria’s air defenses had been called into action since the incident on September 17 in which 15 Russians were killed.

Moscow pinned responsibility for the downing of its jet on Israel, saying its plane used the larger Russian one for cover, an allegation Israel disputed. Following the incident, Russia sent advanced air defense missiles to Damascus.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russia his country would continue to hit hostile targets in Syria to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence across the border. He added that Israel would “continue security coordination” with Russia.

Astana process produced Syria ‘stalemate’

The Astana process by Russia, Iran and Turkey to end the Syrian conflict has only led to a “stalemate” in efforts to establish a constitutional committee crucial to a political settlement, the US said on Thursday.

Establishment and convening of the committee by year’s end “is vital to a lasting de-escalation and a political solution to the conflict,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

Her comments came after the outgoing United Nations envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, regretted that there was “no tangible progress” on the composition of the constitutional committee at two days of talks which ended Thursday in the Kazakh capital Astana.

Moscow and Tehran, allies of the Damascus regime, began the Astana process in January 2017 along with rebel-backer Turkey. The Astana process followed a Russian military intervention which tipped the military balance in favor of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s authoritarian regime.

“Russia and Iran continue to use the process to mask the Assad regime’s refusal to engage in the political process” under UN auspices, Nauert said. She added that “success is not possible without the international community holding Damascus fully accountable for the lack of progress in resolving the conflict.”

The Astana process has gradually eclipsed the earlier UN-sponsored negotiations framework known as the Geneva process, which had put more emphasis on political transition but failed to curb violence that has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions.

Full report at:



Report says Syria shot down Israeli war plane but Israel denies it

29 November 2018

Syria’s air defence forces shot down an Israeli war plane and four missiles on Thursday, Russia’s RIA news agency said citing a Syrian security source, but Israel’s military said the report was bogus.

The source said the missiles aimed at the town of Kiswah, south of the capital Damascus, were struck before they reached their targets.

The area where the incident is said to have occurred is where Hezbollah, a group backed by Iran, has its communications and logistics hub for southern Syria near the Israeli border, according to two senior regional intelligence sources.

Israel is concerned that Iran’s growing presence in Syria poses a threat to its own security and has struck dozens of Iranian and Iran-backed positions in Syria over the course of the country’s seven-year conflict.

The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement on Twitter: “In the course of Syrian ground-to-air missile fire, (Israel’s) air defenses sighted a single trajectory toward an open area of the Golan Heights.”

“At this stage it remains unclear whether there was indeed an impact in our territory. Our forces are scouring the area. Furthermore, the report about a strike on an Israeli aircraft or an Israeli aerial target are bogus,” said the statement.

Earlier, Syrian state media said Syrian air defenses shot down “hostile targets” flying over the town of Kiswah.

Hub for recruitment of Iranian-backed militias

A Syrian opposition figure familiar with the area said its proximity to the Syrian Golan Heights made it a hub for the recruitment of Iranian-backed militias and their deployment across the strategic border area with Israel.

“Israel has targeted this area because the Syrian army barracks there have become a recruiting ground for Hezbollah and their militias to deploy in Quneitra,” Said Seif told Reuters.

Iran is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and supports a number of militias that have fought alongside the Syrian army and its allies.

Full report at:



Bahrain sentences three defendants for terror links

29 November 2018

A Bahraini court sentenced three defendants of leading and joining a terrorist group and of receiving fund from a group that is engaged in terrorist activity.

The court ordered a life sentence to one, while the second was sentenced to 10 years in prison in addition to a fine of $265,000 and  the third was sentenced to three years in prison.

The case revolved around the leaders of the outlawed terrorist group February 14 Coalition, which recruited the second defendant in order to be a member in the organization and work under its umbrella and serve its objectives to carry out riots, sabotage, unauthorized demonstrations, and terrorist operations in the area of Buri.

The Bahraini Public Prosecution revealed that the second defendant recruited the third member to join the terrorist group in case he was arrested, so he can be his successor, putting him in contact with leaders of the group outside the kingdom.

Full report at:



South Asia


Taliban reject Kabul talks in wake of deadly attack

November 29, 2018

KABUL: A Taliban suicide attack on a security compound in Kabul this week that killed 10 people was designed to overshadow Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s latest peace initiative, observers believe.

The strike came as international delegates were ending a major conference on Afghanistan in Geneva where Ghani outlined his road-map for peace with the extremists.

In an attack that lasted several hours, Taliban assailants, including suicide bombers, targeted a compound occupied by G4S, a firm that provides security for the British Foreign Office in Afghanistan.

A British national was believed to be among the victims of the attack.

Observers said that the Taliban attack sought to overshadow Ghani’s peace plan at the Geneva summit, and to show foreign diplomats that his National Unity Government was incompetent and weak.

The attack was also a clear rejection of the Afghan leader’s roadmap for peace.

On Thursday, the Taliban issued a statement ruling out talks with Kabul to end the war that began with the ousting of the militant group in a US-led military campaign 17 years ago.

Outlining his peace road-map, Ghani told the Geneva forum that an elected government chosen after the presidential election next April would be in a better position to implement the plan.

The peace deal would protect the constitutional rights of all citizens, including women, he said.

Ghani also said that he was willing to review the constitution.

The peace plan was the result of months of consultation with people across Afghanistan, he said.

“We have formed the required bodies and mechanisms to pursue a peace agreement. We are now moving ahead into the next chapter of the peace process,” Ghani said.

“The Afghan people need an elected government with a mandate to obtain ratification, implement the peace agreement, and lead the social reconciliation process.”

Ghani’s administration has rejected proposals by US that the polls be delayed so that talks between Washington and the Taliban can produce tangible results.

The Taliban has refused to hold talks with Kabul.

“During his speech, Ashraf Ghani declared setting up a negotiation team that will talk with the Islamic Emirate (Taliban). He also forwarded proposals about negotiations that were beyond his capabilities,” the Taliban said in a statement.

“The policy of the Islamic Emirate about negotiations is very clear. The Islamic Emirate, as a representative of its nation, has waged war against the American invaders for the past 18 years. It considers talking to powerless and foreign-imposed entities as a waste of time because impotent sides do not possess the capacity to make decisions,” it said.

Ret. Gen. Attiqullah Amarkhail said that the peace roadmap contained little to inspire confidence in an end to the fighting.

The Taliban attack and subsequent statement dashed any hopes that the militant group would consider talks with Kabul, he said.

The attack was a blow to Kabul, too.

“Our government does not learn from its mistakes and experiences to put troops on high alert when there is a leading foreign visitor in town or when government leaders are abroad attending a key conference such as Geneva,” Amarkhail told Arab News.

“With this attack, the Taliban showed the world at large and the Afghan people that the government in Kabul is weak and incompetent, and that helping it is waste of resources and time,” he said.

Meanwhile, after his tour of the region and talks with the Taliban, Washington’s new envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, said that he hoped to see a deal with the Taliban before the presidential elections set for April 20, 2019.

“Ideally, of course, it would be good to have an agreement with the Taliban first and then have the presidential election, because then the Taliban would also participate in a possible election,” he told PBSO News Hour on Wednesday.

“It is possible (for the Taliban to take part). Is it likely? We will have to see.”

Khalilzad said that Washington was keen to see the Afghan war end and wanted to ensure the country did not become a “platform for international terrorists against the US.”

He also said that the Taliban were not seeking a monopoly on power in Afghanistan.



27 militants of Taliban’s Red Unit killed in Nangarhar airstrikes

Nov 29 2018

At least twenty seven militants of the Red Unit of Taliban were killed during the airstrikes in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan Military in the East in a statement said the 02 Unit of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) based in Nangarhar province carried out airstrikes in Khogyani district, leaving at least 27 militants of the Red Unit of Taliban dead.

The statement further added that the airstrikes were carried out in Zawa area of the district and as a result at least 3 militants were also wounded.

A number of the commanders of the Red Unit of Taliban were also among those killed, the 201st Silab Corps added.

The anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban have not commented regarding the airstrikes so far.

Full report at:



At Site of Rohingya Massacre, Burmese Villagers Wary of Press

November 29, 2018


Kyaw Soe Moe, the head man of Inn Din village in northern Rakhine state best known as the site of a massacre of 10 Muslim men and boys by their Buddhist neighbors and the Burmese military, isn’t much inclined to speak with the press.

That “incident” is all the press wants to discuss Kyaw Soe Moe implied, who refers to Rohingya as “Kalar”, which is a usual way of describing all Muslims by most Myanmar people. “I was not even here. I arrived here only after the incident. I became the village head something like 10 months ago, so I did not have any knowledge [of it].”

“Recently, a media group came down here, and they asked me about that incident. But when I asked them, ‘Did you know about the death of U Maung Nein (who was one of the villagers allegedly killed by Muslims and it was kind of the spark which led to the killing of 10 Muslims)? Do you know Hindu villagers were killed?’ Those media groups did not even know about those incidents. Even if they didn’t know about the death of U Maung Nein, they should know about the killing of Hindus.”

Four Reuters reporters revealed details of the September 2, 2017 attack earlier this year. Tied together, the Rohingya, members of the Muslim minority, watched their neighbors dig a grave before eight were shot by Myanmar troops, according to the Reuters report. Buddhist villagers hacked the other two to death.

“When they were being buried, some were still making noises,” said Soe Chay, a Buddhist who told Reuters he was one of the gravediggers.

Other Inn Din villagers did not want to speak with VOA and reporters from other media outlets on the government-escorted visit. When approached, the villagers described hiding in the local monastery because the Muslims, the Bengalis, were attacking them. Because the massacre took place about one and a half miles (two and a half kilometers) from the village, they said “I did not know about it.”

Pastoral setting

The village, nestled amid rice fields surrounded by distant mountains, sits on the main road to the Bangladesh border. People go about their business, with children, women and older people on the streets.

“We are secure now because the Kalasare are not around us,” Kyaw Soe Moe said. Before the massacre, the Inn Din was one of the Rakhine state villages surrounded by Muslim villages. “As long as they are not here, we are secure.”

Most of the local Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh.

The Inn Din massacre came during an eruption of violence that came after Rohingya insurgents, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), attacked government security posts in August 2017. In a subsequent crackdown, which included the massacre at Inn Din, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) estimates at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed between Aug. 25 and Sept. 24, 2017. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, called the military’s response “disproportionate and indiscriminate.”

The Burmese military campaign also forced more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. Today, Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh is the world's largest refugee camp.

The Myanmar government has blamed Rohingya insurgents for all but 10 of the killings, according to the Reuters investigation.

The Reuters investigation of the Inn Din massacre prompted Myanmar police to arrest two of the Reuters reporters, Burmese citizens Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, on December 12, 2017. They are now appealing the seven-year sentences for violating the Official Secrets Act that they are serving, sentences that Myanmar de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has defended. Seven soldiers have been convicted of murder.

In August, a United Nations fact-finding mission issued a report that called for Myanmar, to be investigated by the international criminal court (ICC) because “crimes in Rakhine state, and the manner in which they were perpetrated, are similar in nature, gravity and scope to those that have allowed genocidal intent to be established in other contexts.” The report called for the prosecution of Myanmar’s military leaders, who had used their now-removed Facebook pages to spread anti-Rohingya sentiment.

“There is no evidence at all that this is ethnic cleansing, let alone genocide,” Myanmar’s U.N. ambassador Hau Do Suan told VOA in August. “This kind of branding and accusation needs concrete evidence. It also needs legal proof.”

The Rohingya are one of several ethnic minorities in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where most people view them as economic migrants from Bangladesh. The government has denied them citizenship, even though most can show that their families have been in Myanmar for generations. They are discriminated against and are not allowed to move freely. They lack access to education and health care.

Full report at:



Jamaat picks 22 more as neutral candidates

Nov 29, 2018

The 20-party alliance member Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami has endorsed 22 more tickets for the next general elections in a counter move to BNP’s alternative candidates in the 25 seats which had been agreed upon, creating unease among the top two alliance members.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) earlier shared 25 seats with its 20-party alliance member Jamaat to contest in the next 11th parliamentary elections.

Jamaat then came to terms with BNP that its candidates would contest the upcoming elections with the BNP’s electoral symbol ‘Sheaf of Paddy’ in the 25 constituencies.

But, the BNP also issued tickets for their alternative candidates against the Jamaat’s 25 candidates.

Jamaat then, according to its leaders, submitted 22 more nominations in the 18 constituencies where BNP and others members of the alliance have runners.

As one of the Jamaat nominees failed to submit his nomination papers, Jamaat is now hopeful of contesting in the 46 seats in total.

Jamaat leaders claimed that BNP has put alternative nominees against their men, to keep them under pressure.

In a counter move, the Jamaat leaders added, they have filed nominations as neutral candidates in 18 constituencies.

Jamaat’s neutral candidates include its central nayeb-e-amir Mujibur Rahman (Rajshahi-1), its publicity secretary Tasneem Alam (Natore-1), its executive council member Izzat Ullah (Satkhira-1), Nurul Islam Bulbul (Chapainayabganj-3) and Shafiqul Islam Masud (Patuakhali-2) and a former secretary AFM Solaiman Chowdhury (Cumilla-9).

Persons aware of the matter said Jamaat came up with two requests to BNP before issuance of the tickets – not to put any alternative BNP candidates against their nomination aspirants in 25 constituencies and choose at least two names of their election aspirants in the constituencies.

They said this has created a kind of mistrust among them.

On the other hand, BNP officials said the BNP has up the alternative candidates in case Jamaat’s candidate fails to secure their nomination at any seat. Then BNP candidates will contest there, instead of letting it fall vacant.

Now Jamaat has fought back with neutral candidates at 22 constituencies, the concerned persons said.

“It’s usually done for the sake of bargaining and creating pressure,” said BNP’s standing committee member Moudud Ahmed.

Moudul also said nothing can be said till the last date of nomination withdrawal, 9 December. Other understandings may come about by then.

Jamaat’s central executive council member Syed Abdullah Md Taher said, “At first, they (BNP) encouraged us to compete in the polls with their ‘Sheaf of Paddy’. Despite disagreements, we finally come to their terms. But, the BNP delayed in issuing the nomination letters. Then it was impossible for us to send the letters to our candidates. So, we informed our nomination aspirants to file their nominations as neutral candidates.”

Full report at:



Around 70 militants killed, wounded in 4-day operations in Kunduz

Nov 29 2018

The Afghan military in the north claims that around 70 militants were killed or wounded during the 4-day operations in northern Kunduz province of Afghanistan.

The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North in a statement said the Afghan forces belonging to the 10th Kandak of the Special Forces conducted 4-day operations in Dasht Archi district, leaving at least 55 militants dead.

The statement further added at least 15 militants also sustained injuries during the same operations.

Four large explosives caches and at least 60 fighting positions of the militants were also destroyed during the operations, the 209th Shaheen Corps added in its statement.

The anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban have not commented regarding the operations so far.

Kunduz is among the relatively volatile provinces in North of Afghanistan but the security situation of has deteriorated more during the recent years.

Full report at:



Australia police now probing army for war crimes in Afghanistan

Nov 29, 2018

Australian police have launched an investigation into possible war crimes by members of the Australian army in war-torn Afghanistan.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) announced the news in a statement on Thursday, saying that it had received a “referral” regarding the crimes back in June and had “accepted the matters for investigation.”

“As this investigation is ongoing, the AFP will not confirm or deny the specific incidents or the identity of those subject to the investigation,” an AFP spokesman said, without providing additional details, including on who had referred the probe to the federal law enforcement agency.

The investigation follows an inquiry led by New South Wales Supreme Court Judge Paul Brereton, who is helping the inspector-general of the Australian Defense Force (ADF) to investigate the actions of Australian Special Forces during some 12 years of presence in Afghanistan.

However, it was not clear whether the inspector-general or the ADF itself had referred the war crimes probe to the AFP.

“It is not appropriate for the AFP to provide further comment at this time,” the agency’s spokesman further said.

Three other inquiries, including the one being conducted by Brereton, have already been initiated into reports of abuses by Special Forces who served in Afghanistan as part of a US-led military coalition from 2001 to 2014.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported on Thursday that a separate classified Defense Department probe leaked to the press in June quoted testimony from Special Forces insiders saying some soldiers had engaged in the “unsanctioned and illegal application of violence on operations” in Afghanistan with “a disregard for human dignity.”

Meanwhile, a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) said that Brereton’s inquiry, which began in 2016, was understood to have uncovered a number of incidents of possible unlawful killings by the Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.

His secretive and reportedly comprehensive probe into Australia’s elite troops, including the Special Air Services Regiment and Commando units, would consider possible breaches of the Geneva Convention, it added.

Australia, which is not a member of NATO, has had an active role in Afghanistan since the US, along with a number of its NATO allies, invaded the country in 2001. That war and occupation continues to this day, even as Australian combat troops are reportedly out.

Full report at:





Houthis say they could attend UN-led talks in Sweden if safe passage guaranteed

29 November 2018

A delegation from Yemen’s Houthis could attend talks sponsored by the United Nations in Sweden if safe exit and return is guaranteed, the Head of the Houthi’s supreme revolutionary committee, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, said on Thursday.

The Houthi leader said that their delegation is expected to arrive to Sweden on Dec. 3, next week.

Al Arabiya's reporter said that the Yemeni government's delegation will arrive to Sweden after the Houthis.

Britain’s ambassador to Yemen said the talks that seek an end to Yemen’s war will start next week in Sweden.

The UN chief, Antonio Guterres, told reporters on Wednesday that this is “a very crucial moment in relation to Yemen.”

UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, visited the war torn country last week for talks with both sides, the legitimate government and the Houthis.

The envoy said that he discussed with Houthi leaders “how the UN could contribute to keeping the peace” in Hodeidah.

“I am here to tell you today that we have agreed that the UN should now pursue actively and urgently detailed negotiations for a leading UN role in the port,” he told reporters on what was his first visit to Hodeidah.



Turkish president urges Muslim countries for use of local currency in international trade

November 28 2018

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urged Muslim countries to use their national currencies in order to liberate the countries from the burden of exchange rates.

“There is no way out of using our domestic and national currency. Otherwise we will be crushed under the exchange rate,” he said in a speech to Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (COMCEC) 34th Ministerial Session.

Boosting trade among members of the COMCEC would make them stronger, Erdoğan said. He underlined that boosting international trade among Islamic countries is key and said: “I invite Islamic countries to complete procedures and update concessions lists to make a preferential trade system a reality.”

Elaborating on the anniversary of the end of World War I, he said that bloodshed and crises in the region from Syria to Iraq, Yemen and Palestine stems from lines drawn at the war’s conclusion.

“Muslims should no longer be fooled by those who try to incite their differences and turn them on each other,” Erdoğan said.

“In regions where borders are drawn in blood, we should not erect new borders, new walls in our hearts,” he added. If millions are poor and hungry in the war-torn nation of Yemen, Muslims are responsible for that, not others, he said.

Stressing that the United Nations Security Council’s permanent membership system is unfair, he again pushed for reforms to it. The president reiterated significance of reforming the Security Council, using the slogan: “The world is greater than five.”

“We should not fall into the trap of those who give more weight to a drop of oil than a drop of blood,” said Erdoğan.

Full report at:



Houthi video shows children being trained to ‘fight America and Israel’

30 November 2018

A video purportedly showing schoolchildren being trained by Houthis to take up arms has gone viral, showcasing the mindset of the militias who can go to any extent in pursuit of their objectives.

“In the name of Allah, the Merciful, these are the students of Imam al-Nasser School. They went for training today and the exercises were very tough. God willing, these are the ones who will fight America and Israel,” says the man who is seen speaking in the video.

He further says that these children are the ones who will fight in the name of Allah “Because they are practicing now and they are still a young generation that is willing to fight the enemies of Allah”.

The video ends with the battle cries of “Allah the Greatest, Death to America, Death to Israel, curse on Jews, the triumph of Islam”.

Full report at:



Political vacuum in Palestine leaves fertile ground for radical groups

Daoud Kuttab

November 29, 2018

The failure of the major Palestinian movements to produce any concrete results in ending the occupation has given an international Islamic movement a chance to shine. Hizb ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation) is a unique organization that seeks the establishment of an Islamic state. They hope to recreate the caliphate system that initially ruled Islam after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. The party does not partake in or support violent or military resistance activities.

In Palestine, Hizb ut-Tahrir has recently focused on local social issues and not taken part in active resistance to the Israeli occupation. A spokesman of Hizb ut-Tahrir told Al-Monitor back in 2016 that Palestine is not their main cause.

Hizb ut-Tahrir was established in Jerusalem in 1953, but is now active in the occupied territories and throughout the world. It has a limited but dedicated following.

Hizb ut-Tahrir activists got in trouble recently in the Bethlehem area when they tried to organize a seminar that many women's organizations felt would incite violence against them. A delegation of Palestinian women's organizations went to the Bethlehem prosecutor with a petition against the event planned for Nov. 19 called “Women organizations seek to corrupt women, so be aware of them.”

Suheir Ismael Farraj, the director of TAM, a nongovernmental organization that trains women in media skills, later told Al-Monitor that the aim of their protest was not to stifle free speech but to stop incitement. “Such events incite violence against women and we can't stand idly by and allow it to happen.”

Farraj noted that at the time when “the world is celebrating the UN’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, it makes little sense for defamation of women to be allowed in a public setting.”

The protest action produced the intended results and the Palestinian government ordered the event be canceled.

Mohammad Ghazali, an activist with Hizb ut-Tahrir in Jerusalem, told Al-Monitor that the topic of the seminar was purely religious and not political. “We are not against women's organizations but we are from a religious perspective opposed to the mixing of men and women and call for separation in all public events.”

Hizb ut-Tahrir holds annual conferences in Palestine that thousands attend. The last conference was held in Ramallah on April 27, 2017, the 96th anniversary of the end of the Islamic Caliphate's rule.

Said al-Ghazali, a political analyst and former reporter with the Associated Press in Jerusalem, told Al-Monitor that supporters of Hizb ut-Tahrir live in a strange bubble. “They still talk about British and American conspiracies and are unable to deal with many of the current challenges facing Palestinians.”

Ghazali said that Hizb ut-Tahrir supporters are not involved in any acts of resistance against Israel and are “opposed to Hamas and Fatah.”

He added that in the past, they had taken provocative actions such as throwing shoes at public officials in Al-Aqsa mosque, but have settled down now to focus on communication via seminars and discussions. “They attacked Egyptian and Jordanian officials when they visited Al-Aqsa in recent years, but they are now content to spend their energy on raising awareness of their ideology.”

Ghazali explained that unlike the Muslim Brotherhood, which works hard to build grass-roots support, Hizb ut-Tahrir takes a top-down approach. “Hamas and others like them work their way up by concentrating on the family, community and the state, but Tahriris hope that one day, their supporters will conduct a coup and take over power at the top.”

Ghazali noted that the group is also “opposed to Khomeinism and Baghdadi-style Islamic State activities,” believing that the time is not ripe yet for an Islamic state.

Musab Abu Arqoub, a charismatic party leader from the Hebron area and a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir's media bureau, has focused in recent days on opposing the newly established Palestinian social security program, calling it theft of private wealth. On Nov. 1, the Palestinian government introduced a social security program that requires workers to contribute 7% of their salaries toward that fund.

Abu Arqoub often speaks in mosques and his anti-social security speeches receive wide support on social media. A Nov. 24 lecture in a Hebron mosque in which he trashed the social security program received 1,400 views on Facebook.

Full report at:



Yemen peace talks ‘meaningless’ amid incessant Saudi-led attacks: Ansarullah

Nov 29, 2018

The spokesman and chief negotiator for the Yemeni Houthi Ansarullah movement has described participation in the next round of UN-sponsored peace talks in Sweden as “meaningless” amid incessant airstrikes by Saudi Arabia and its allies against the impoverished Arab country.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Yemeni Arabic-language al-Thawra  newspaper, published on Thursday, Mohammed Abdul-Salam said United Nations Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths had not presented an innovative initiative and had failed to implement his confidence-building measures.

“There is no point in negotiations with a party that is looking to obtain through talks what it has failed to achieve by military aggression. The UN envoy has not offered anything new since taking office earlier this year. He has just held discussions, exchanged viewpoints and made promises,” Abdul-Salam said.

The next round of UN-sponsored peace talks between Yemen's warring sides are expected to start next week in Stockholm.

The Ansarullah official went on to say that Griffiths had not introduced “a comprehensive political framework for a solution to the Yemeni conflict, which takes into account the government transition phase with the inclusion of all Yemeni political parties and other issues that have already been pledged.”

Abdul-Salam noted that the UN envoy could not take measures “like the reopening of Sana’a airport to commercial access, the release of all prisoners and detainees, the removal of sanctions and other confidence-building moves," adding, “These and other stumbling blocks make us lose confidence again and think that the United Nations cannot do anything.”

The senior Yemeni negotiator pointed out that Griffiths “is focusing on issues that are trivial and not fundamental for peace talks. He is only looking at the possibility of bringing the warring parties together, without specifying the most important procedures for negotiations and a framework that needs to be agreed upon by all sides.”

“If he does not offer a clear and comprehensive political framework that would form the nucleus of the next round of peace negotiations, he will not be able to hold any further talks,” Abdul-Salam underlined.

Britain has presented a draft UN Security Council resolution on Yemen, and called on parties involved in Yemen’s crisis to restart peace negotiations.

“The conflict in Yemen can only be resolved though an inclusive political process,” the draft resolution said.

The draft sets a two-week deadline for warring Yemeni parties to remove all barriers to humanitarian aid, halt attacks on civilian areas and allow unhindered access to the strategic port city of Hudaydah.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating military campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing the government of former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the country’s Houthi Ansarullah movement.

According to a new report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has so far claimed the lives of around 56,000 Yemenis.

The Saudi-led war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN has already said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.

Full report at:



Putin endorses deal for Iran-EEU free trade zone

Nov 29, 2018

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has endorsed a much-awaited agreement for the establishment of a free trade zone between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) thus facilitating the process for the Islamic Republic to join the Moscow-led regional economic bloc.

According to a Kremlin announcement, the agreement became a federal law after Putin’s endorsement and was accordingly forwarded to the relevant institutions to be implemented. 

The move had been approved earlier this month by Russia’s State Duma as well as the country’s Federal Assembly.

Apart from authorizing the creation of a free trade zone between Iran and the EU, the document would be meant to support their cooperation over a wide range of economic and commercial areas.

The EEU is comprised of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an international organization created with the aim of encouraging regional economic integration through the free movement of goods, services and people within the union.

The bloc was established in 2015, after it superseded the Eurasian Economic Community that functioned from 2000 to 2014. The union has an integrated single market of 183 million people and a gross domestic product of over $4 trillion.

The EEU’s prime ministers resolved in March to make talks with Tehran a priority, scenting an opportunity to expand beyond the bloc’s combined market of 183 million people.

Russia’s President Putin said last August that Moscow wanted Iran to join the EEU – a move that was seen as crucial in bringing the two countries closer in their plans to form a strategic partnership.

Putin emphasized that a research had already started over the possibility of creating a free-trade zone between Iran and the EEU.

Full report at:



Iran, Russia, Turkey vow to preserve Syria's sovereignty

Nov 29, 2018

The guarantor states of the Astana peace process have ended their 11th round of talks in the Kazakh capital, reiterating their strong commitment to Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Iran, Russia and Syria on Thursday also rejected "all desperate attempts" by foreign-backed militant groups to undermine the sovereignty of the Syrian nation, Syria's official news agency SANA reported.

Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar al-Ja'afari called on all foreign forces operating without the permission of Damascus to leave the Arab country.

He also accused the US, Britain, France and Turkey of illegally dispatching troops to Syria and occupying some parts of the country.

In a declaration, the participants in the Astana talks also strongly denounced militant groups for firing shells filled with chlorine gas at Syria’s northern city of Aleppo this week.

The chemical attack was launched from an area in the Idlib de-escalation zone which is controlled by the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as Nusra Front.

In the past, the United States and its allies have used chemical attacks as a pretext to carry out missile strikes against Syria.

The 11th round of talks began Wednesday, with the participation of representatives from the Damascus government and opposition as well as the three guarantor states of the Astana peace process.

The discussions mainly focused on the situation in the de-escalation zone set up in Idlib Province and the creation of a constitutional committee in the war-torn country.

The 10th round of talks within the Astana format took place in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on July 30-31.

Full report at:



Yemeni army hits Saudi camp in Najran with salvo of ballistic missiles

Nov 29, 2018

Yemeni army forces, backed by allied fighters from Popular Committees, have hit a military camp in Saudi Arabia’s southern Najran region with a number of domestically-manufactured high-precision ballistic missiles in retaliation for the kingdom’s campaign of military aggression against the impoverished nation.

Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah television network, citing unnamed military officials from the missile unit of the Yemeni army, reported on Thursday that Bir Askar camp had been hit with short-range and solid-propellant Badr P-1 missiles late Wednesday.

It added that the projectiles had struck the designated targets with precision, inflicting heavy damage on the hardware and equipment of the base, particularly on a number of US-made Apache helicopters belonging to the Saudi army. The explosions also triggered a huge fire, leading to more damage.

In a separate report, Yemen's official Saba news agency, citing an unnamed military official, also said that one of the missiles had hit the pilots’ dormitory in the camp, killing an unspecified number of them.

Last month, the Yemeni army unveiled Badr P-1 ballistic missile, which is an upgrade of Badr-1 short-range ballistic missile, intended to precisely hit specific targets, minimize collateral damage and increase lethality against designated targets. Badr P-1 has a pinpoint accuracy of three meters, the army says.

In another development, Yemeni army troops, supported by fighters from Houthi Ansarullah movement, managed to retake several strategic positions held by Saudi-led forces in Yemen’s southwestern province of Lahij.

The major attack left a large number of Saudi-led mercenaries dead and destroyed considerable quantities of weapons and ammunition.

Furthermore, Yemeni soldiers launched an attack against positions held by Saudi-led mercenaries near the al-Alab border crossing in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern region of Asir.

The attack, which included a salvo of Katyusha rockets and artillery rounds, killed a considerable number of Saudi-led mercenaries, al-Masirah said in a separate report.

Leading a coalition of its allies, including the United Arab Emirates and Sudan, Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who had resigned amid popular discontent and fled to the Arab kingdom.

The aggression initially consisted of a bombing campaign but was later coupled with a naval blockade and the deployment of ground forces to Yemen.

Since the onset of the imposed war, the Yemeni army, backed by fighters from the country’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement, has been defending the impoverished nation against the brutal aggression. The coalition is also resolute to crush the movement as another goal in its war on Yemen, which is teetering on the edge of famine.

More than three and a half years into the war, Saudi Arabia has achieved neither of its objectives. Riyadh had declared at the start of the invasion that the war would take no more than a couple of weeks.

The Saudi-led war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN has already said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.

Full report at:



Israel extends arrest of Palestinian Jerusalem-al-Quds governor

Nov 29, 2018

An Israeli court has extended the detention of the Palestinian governor of Jerusalem al-Quds Adnan Gheith who was kidnapped in a dawn raid on his home at the weekend. 

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that Jerusalem al-Quds magistrate’s court had extended Gheith’s remand until Sunday as the investigation continues.

A lawyer for Gheith has said that the governor had committed no crimes, adding that "the feeling is that the police are trying to prevent the defendant from functioning in his position."

Israeli forces kidnapped Gheith in a dawn raid on his home in Silwan neighborhood on November 25.

Israeli authorities have provided few details on the reason for the kidnap, other than saying that it was over Gheith's collaboration with Palestinian Authority security forces.

Tel Aviv had already banned Gheith from entering the occupied West Bank for a six-month period.

Last month, the governor was arrested by Israeli forces and held in prison for two days before being released. He has also been taken for questioning a number of times in recent weeks after his office was raided on November 4.

The Palestinian Authority's Jerusalem al-Quds affairs minister, Adnan al-Husseini, has also been given a three-month travel ban by Israeli authorities.

Some media said Gheith's arrest came following the Palestinian Authority's arrest of an American-Palestinian man in October for selling property in East Jerusalem al-Quds to a Jewish buyer.

Fuad Hallaq, a senior adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organisation in Jerusalem als-Quds, said earlier this week that he believed the latest arrest was part of Israeli efforts to pressure the Palestinian leadership to release the man.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas appointed Gheith, a longtime activist in Fatah political party, as al-Quds governor in late August.

In his role, Gheith is responsible for overseeing operations of the Palestinian Authority in the neighborhoods within its jurisdiction on the outskirts of Jerusalem al-Quds.

Full report at:



UN aid chief calls for end to Saudi war on Yemen

Nov 29, 2018

The UN aid chief has appealed for a halt to fighting in Yemen amid intense diplomacy to end the ongoing Saudi aggression that has pushed millions to the brink of famine.

UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock made appeal during a press briefing after arriving in the Yemeni capital Sana’a on Thursday.

"I'd like to see a cessation of hostilities, especially around the key infrastructure, especially around Hudaydah," Lowcock said

The UN official said the fighting has once again highlighted the ongoing humanitarian tragedy in the war-ravaged Arab country.

"I have come because I am very concerned about the humanitarian situation here, which has deteriorated since I was here last." 

Lowcock, who last visited Yemen in October 2017, called on authorities in Sana’a to improve the environment in which the aid agencies operate.

"I'd like to see the environment, in which the aid system operates, made easier for the aid agencies,” he said.

"I would like to see stronger economic support, more resources injected into the economy, salaries paid, more foreign exchange so that ordinary people have more money to buy the essentials to survive," he said.

Lowcock will spend three days in Yemen to see first-hand the world's worst humanitarian crisis. He is expected to hold talks with officials in Sana’a and the southern city of Aden, which is controlled by forces loyal to former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

According to the United Nations, operations at Yemen's lifeline port of Hudaydah have dropped by almost 50 percent over the past two weeks, with shipping companies deterred by insecurity and ongoing Saudi attacks in the flashpoint city.

The UN's World Food Program said on Tuesday that a drop in the arrival of wheat and other supplies would affect food stocks in Yemen where 14 million people are facing possible  starvation after nearly four years of war.

UN agencies say the closure of the port would exacerbate the humanitarian crisis gripping the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country.

The developments come as the UN peace envoy Martin Griffiths is hoping to bring warring factions to Sweden in the coming days for negotiations on ending conflict.

Talks to start in Sweden next week

Britain’s envoy to Yemen said on Thursday that UN-sponsored peace talks between Yemen’s warring parties are expected to start next week in Sweden.

“The Sweden consultations led by the UN envoy will take place next week ... the political solution is the way to move forward,” said Michael Aron, the Riyadh-based British ambassador to Yemen.

Yemen's popular Houthi Ansarullah movement, which has been defending the nation against the Saudi Arabian war, said last week they were halting drone and missile attacks, responding to a demand from the UN.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have halted their offensive on Hudaydah, although skirmishes continue on the outskirts. The kingdom has also stepped up its air raids after its ground offensive faced a stiff resistance by the city's protectors.

Ansarullah has warned that the rise in Saudi assaults on Hudaydah could frustrate efforts by Griffiths to rekindle peace talks in Sweden next week.

The outrage over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul has increased scrutiny on Riyadh’s role in conflicts in the region.

Meanwhile, pressure is mounting on the Trump administration over supporting the kingdom in the wake of Khashoggi’s murder.

US President Donald Trump has thrown his support behind Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who reportedly ordered the assassination of the dissident journalist and Washington Post columnist at the Saudi consulate in Turkey last month.

The US, Britain and France are major arms suppliers to Saudi Arabia and human rights groups have called on the governments to cease such sales due to the high civilian death toll in Saudi air raids in Yemen.

According to UN figures, the Yemen conflict has killed nearly 10,000 people and left up to 22 million in need of humanitarian assistance. 

Full report at:



Some Muslim countries are busy accomplishing the nefarious plans of America: Ali Akbar Velayati

Nov 29, 2018

Tehran: Announcing the boycott of American products during 32nd World Vehdat-e-Islami conference, Ayatollah Taskheeri said Americans are openly supporting the Israelis, hence we should avoid using their products. He said the Baitul Maqdis is included in the rights of Muslims across the world and no one has the right to deprive the weaponless Palestinians of their right and drive them out from their country.

On the other hand, Ali Akbar Velayati, chief foreign policy advisor to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said America and anti-Islamic forces are trying their best to divide Muslims through various conspiracies. It is the need of the hour to unite Muslims across the world in order to foil the destructive strategies of America.

Full report at:



Turkey, Russia will not use dollar for S-400 deal, says Erdogan

Nov 29, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara will pay either in ruble or lira for the advanced Russian-built S-400 air defense missile system, regardless of strong opposition from the United States and warnings that Turkey should not buy the anti-aircraft platform.

Speaking to reporters before leaving for G-20 summit in Argentina on Thursday, Erdogan said the final currency composition had yet to be agreed but confirmed he expected the deliveries of the systems to take place in 2019.

“The settlements on S-400 systems must be carried out with the use of national currencies. The transfer of these systems to Turkey should be completed by the end of 2019 after which the provision on the settlements with the use of national currencies, which we have suggested from the very beginning, will be implemented by the efforts of finance ministers and central banks of the two countries,” Turkish-language NTV television news network quoted him as saying.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said it is impossible to seal the S-400 agreement with Turkey in dollar.

The Russian president said he and Erdogan had agreed on another option.

Putin also criticized the US administration for using the dollar as a pressure tool, stating that Russia and its trade partners are working to create interbank payment systems independent of the Belgian-based SWIFT global payment network.

A number of the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member states have criticized Turkey for its planned purchase of S-400 missile defense systems from Russia, stating that the move could jeopardize Ankara's acquisition of F-35 fighter jets.

On July 15, the top American Air Force general in Europe warned that the Turkish government’s plan to purchase Russian S-400 systems would give the advanced air defense shield deep insight into the US radar-evading F-35 fighter jets.

“Anything that an S-400 can do that affords it the ability to better understand a capability like the F-35 is certainly not to the advantage of the coalition,” General Tod Wolters, who is also the NATO Allied Air Commander, said.

Erdogan has emphasized that Ankara would utilize sophisticated S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems if necessary.

“We will not just buy the S-400s and place them in a storehouse. We will use them if need be. These are defense systems. What are we going to do with them if not use these defense systems? Are we going to depend on the United States again? We have been demanding them for years, but the answer given to us has been: The [US] Congress is not allowing. We are tired of this,” he said in remarks broadcast live by private Turkish-language TGRT Haber television news network on June 12.

Erdogan and his Russian counterpart said in the Turkish capital Ankara on April 3 that they had agreed to expedite the delivery of S-400 missile systems. The delivery is expected to start between late 2019 and early 2020.

Turkey’s English-language Hurriyet Daily News newspaper reported on December 29 last year that the loan deal for four S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries had been signed in Ankara.

The developments came only two days after Chief Executive Officer of Russian state corporation Rostec Sergey Viktorovich Chemezov told the Kommersant daily newspaper that Russia would supply Turkey with four batteries of S-400, worth $2.5 billion each, and Moscow was expected to begin the first deliveries in March 2020.

Chemezov added that Turkey would pay 45 percent of the cost of the agreement up front, while Russia would provide loans to cover the remaining 55 percent.

The S-400 system, whose full name is the Triumf Mobile Multiple Anti-Aircraft Missile System (AAMS), is an advanced Russian missile system designed to detect, track, and destroy planes, drones, or missiles as far as 402 kilometers away. It has previously been sold only to China and India.

Turkey is striving to boost its air defense, particularly after Washington decided in 2015 to withdraw its Patriot surface-to-air missile system from Turkey's border with Syria, a move that weakened Turkey’s air defense.

Before gravitating towards Russia, the Turkish military reportedly walked out of a $3.4 billion contract for a similar Chinese system. The withdrawal took place under purported pressure from Washington.

Ankara’s ties with its Western allies in NATO have been strained over a range of issues.

Erdogan has been critical of Washington for supporting Kurdish groups in Syria that he says are responsible for terror attacks inside Turkey.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


China will retaliate ‘in proportion’ to any US sanction over Muslim Uighurs: Ambassador

November 28, 2018

China will retaliate “in proportion” if the United States sanctions its top official in the restive region of Xinjiang over alleged human rights abuses, China’s ambassador to the United States said on Tuesday, adding that Beijing’s policies in the region are to “re-educate” terrorists.

Chinese Ambassador to Washington Cui Tiankai told Reuters in an interview that China’s efforts to combat international terrorism are held to a double standard, comparing Chinese actions in Xinjiang to US troops battling Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

“Can you imagine (if) some American officials in charge of the fight against ISIS would be sanctioned?” Cui said, adding “if such actions are taken, we have to retaliate.”

Cui did not elaborate on specific actions China might take. Beijing has faced an outcry from activists, academics, foreign governments and UN rights experts over mass detentions and strict surveillance of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority and other Muslim groups in Xinjiang.

In August, a United Nations human rights panel said it had received many credible reports that a million or more Uighurs in China are being held in what resembles a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy”.

US officials have said the Trump administration is considering sanctions targeting companies and officials linked to China’s crackdown on minority Muslims, including Xinjiang Party Secretary Chen Quanguo, who, as a member of the powerful politburo, is in the upper echelons of China’s leadership.

Cui said that while the United States was using missiles and drones to kill terrorists, “we are trying to re-educate most of them, trying to turn them into normal persons (who) can go back to normal life,” Cui said.

“We’ll see what will happen. We will do everything in proportion,” he said, responding to a question on how China would retaliate to possible US sanctions on Chen.

Cui’s comments are the strongest response yet to US threats on the issue.

Any such US sanctions decision against so senior an official as Chen would be a rare move on human rights grounds by the Trump administration, which is engaged in a trade war with China while also seeking Beijing’s help to resolve a standoff over North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

US sanctions could be imposed under the Global Magnitsky Act, a federal law that allows the US government to target human rights violators around the world with freezes on any US assets, US travel bans, and prohibitions on Americans doing business with them, US officials have said.

Chinese authorities routinely deny any ethnic or religious repression in Xinjiang. They say strict security measures – likened by critics to near martial law conditions, with police checkpoints, the detention centers, and mass DNA collection – are needed to combat the influence of extremist groups.

After initial blanket denials of the detention facilities, officials have said that some citizens guilty of “minor offences” were sent to vocational centers to improve employment opportunities.

At a briefing in Washington on Monday, a Uighur woman, Mihrigul Tursun, 29, told reporters she had experienced physical and psychological torture, including electrocution while strapped to a chair, during 10 months in Xinjiang detention centers.

Tursun, who wept and shook as a translator read her prepared statement, said her three children were taken from her while she was in detention and that her four-month-old son had died without explanation in government custody.

Rejecting Chinese government claims that the detention facilities serve vocational purposes, she said many of the dozens of other women in her cell were “well-educated professionals, such as teachers and doctors.”

Tursun said she witnessed nine women die during one three-month period she spent in detention, including from sickness after being denied medical treatment.

Reuters could not independently verify her account, though numerous former detainees have begun to share similar first-hand details with media. China’s embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tursun’s statement.

Independent assessments of the conditions in Xinjiang are nearly impossible given restrictions on journalists from openly reporting from the region.

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has called on China to allow monitors in Xinjiang, though Beijing has responded by telling her to respect China’s sovereignty.



Indonesian city to fine LGBT for being ‘public nuisance’

November 30, 2018

SUMATRA: An Indonesian city plans to slap its gay and transgendered residents with a one million rupiah (US$70) fine for disturbing “public order”, underscoring a marked rise in discrimination against the Muslim-majority nation’s small LGBT community.

The country of 260 million is in the grips of a moral panic, with critics saying the vulnerable LGBT minority is being used as a political punching bag in the run-up to 2019 elections.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia — except in Islamic law-abiding Aceh province — but there has been a backlash against the community in recent years.

The shift, led by increasingly powerful religious hardliners, has dented Indonesia’s reputation for moderate Islam.

This week, Pariaman city on Sumatra island passed a sweeping regulation banning “acts that are considered LGBT”.

The regulation, which has been reviewed by AFP, forbids “immoral acts” between same-sex couples and prohibits residents from “acting as a transvestite”, but it offers few concrete examples of banned behaviour.

“Same-sex LGBT and transgender people will be subject to sanctions and fines if they disturb the public order,” said Fitri Nora, head of the local legislature.

Pariaman’s deputy mayor Mardison Mahyudin said the new rules were born out of “anxiety” about Indonesia’s LGBT community.

Anti-LGBT demonstrations have erupted in several cities recently, including the capital Jakarta, while authorities hosed down a group of transgender women in what they called a “mandatory bath”.

Several cities in West Sumatra province, including Pariaman, have taken steps to marginalise LGBT groups, and the provincial government called a special meeting Thursday to discuss the issue.

Following the meeting, governor Irwan Prayitno said officials and concerned parties were searching for a province-wide solution to the “LGBT problem”.

Full report at:



Kelantan mufti warns against going ahead with Dec 8 rally

30 November 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 ― Kelantan Mufti Datuk Mohamad Shukri Mohamad has warned organisers against continuing to hold the rally protesting the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) on December 8.

New Straits Times (NST) reported him warning that instigators may take advantage of the event to cause trouble and spark riots.

“Even in Islam, when we want to achieve something, we should consider the good and the bad. If there’s more bad than good, why would we continue?

“People might take advantage to spark riot in a rally like this. In my opinion, it’s better if this rally is not taking place,” he was quoted saying by NST.

He also suggested for critics of ICERD to show their gratitude by holding prayers in mosques, after Putrajaya cancelled its intention to ratify the human rights convention.

The same suggestion for prayers had also been made by Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassin, who advised for the rally to not go ahead.

Opposition parties led by Umno previously planned to hold the rally on Dec 8 to protest against the planned ratification of ICERD, but now claim this will be to give thanks to the government’s decision not to do so.

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Dozens of Indonesian inmates on the run after escaping prison through a hole in a fence

30 Nov 2018

JAKARTA (AFP): A jailbreak in western Indonesia has left 90 inmates on the run after they escaped by breaking down fences when they were supposed to be at a prayer gathering, an official said Friday.

The prisoners fled from the prison in Banda Aceh on Thursday night, although some were quickly recaptured.

“There were 726 inmates at the time, 113 of them ran away. We have recaptured 23 of them but are still searching for the other escapees,” justice ministry spokesman Ade Kusmanto said.

The inmates were out of their cells for mass prayers in the Muslim-majority nation, but some took advantage of the situation by breaking the prison’s fence with barbells, Kusmanto said.

Police have launched a massive hunt for the escapees and heightened security at the prison.

Ten officers were on duty to safeguard the prison when the inmates escaped.

Jailbreaks are not uncommon in Indonesia, where prisoners are often held in poor conditions at overcrowded prisons.

In May last year, more than 400 inmates broke out after mass prayers at an overcrowded prison in Riau province.

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Uganda helped South Sudan breach EU arms embargo, says source

29 November 2018

Uganda helped funnel European arms and ammunition to South Sudan at the height of its civil war, circumventing a European Union arms embargo on the East African country, a weapons monitoring group said on Thursday.

British-based Conflict Armament Research (CAR) said South Sudan arranged for the Ugandan government to provide end-user assurances for purchases of weapons and ammunition from Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia.

The weaponry, delivered to Uganda in 2014 and 2015, was then transferred to neighboring South Sudan, CAR said in a report based on four years of research.

“We have a paper trail from point of manufacture, through export to Uganda, through diversion to South Sudan, and to the recovery of the weapons on the battlefield,” said James Bevan, head of CAR.

Uganda’s military spokesman declined to comment on the accusations until he had read the report. South Sudan’s government spokesman declined requests to comment by phone and email.

The report documented how senior South Sudanese military officials were involved in this process from beginning to end.

The Ugandan government openly provided arms and troops in support of the South Sudanese military in the war that began in 2013. But Uganda’s role in the transferring of these weapons has not previously been documented in such detail, Bevan said.

More than a third of South Sudan’s 12 million people have been uprooted by the conflict, which erupted two years after South Sudan gained independence in 2011.

The report also documented secret shipments of Sudanese and Chinese-manufactured weapons from Sudan to opposition fighters in South Sudan by air and land from 2014 until at least mid-2015.

Sudan routinely denies supporting rebels in South Sudan’s war. Both Sudan and Uganda are key sponsors of the latest peace agreement and are poised to deploy peacekeeping troops into South Sudan.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir signed a peace deal with rebel factions in September. A previous peace deal signed in 2015 fell apart a year later after clashes broke out between government forces and rebels.

Since 1994, the European Union has maintained an arms embargo on Sudan. It extended the ban to cover South Sudan when it split from Sudan seven years ago.

CAR, which identifies and tracks weapons and ammunitions in war zones, said there was no suggestion that the European countries exporting arms to Uganda were complicit or even aware the arms were diverted to South Sudan.

Nonetheless, the retransfers from Uganda to South Sudan may have breached end-use or non-transfer commitments made to exporters as a prior condition of sale, the report said.

The report documented hundreds of weapons and over 200,000 rounds of ammunition used in the conflict across South Sudan.

More than 383,000 people may have died as a result of the South Sudan’s civil war, with around half of the lives lost estimated to be through violence, according to a study published in September by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.



Tunisia’s Essebsi: Ennahda threatened me personally

29 November 2018

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi said on Thursday that the Ennahda Movement Party threatened him personally and that he would not allow it.

Essebsi comments came during his supervision of the National Security Council’s meeting at Carthage Presidential Palace.

Local media reported that the Tunisian president said during the meeting- that the recent statement of Ennahda Movement Party in which it denounced a published press release by the country’s presidency carrying a statement of one of the members of the defense team of assassinated political opponents Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi in 2013, after his meeting with him- carries in it a direct threat to him personally.

The Tunisian president said that he will not allow that and the final say is for the judiciary system, according to reports by local media.

President Beji Caid Essebsi added that he receives all the parties without exception as president of Tunisia, noting that “what I had been briefed on by the legal defense team of the martyrs Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi, was reasonable.”

The Tunisian president confirmed that the defense team handed him a “volume” of documents related to what is known as the secret apparatus of Ennahda Movement, pointing out that the subject of this apparatus has become known to all the world and is no longer a secret.

Full report at:



Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar in Jordan for reconciliation talks

November 29, 2018

AMMAN:  Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar is in Jordan for crucial reconciliation talks with Libya’s Fayez Sarraj, head of the Presidential Council, Arab News has learned.

Senior government sources told Arab News that Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the head of the Libyan National Army, is in Jordan without giving reasons for the visit. Pundits believe it aims  to speed up reconciliation talks with Sarraj.

Earlier, a Jordanian website announced that Sarraj will be visiting Jordan Saturday as the head of a large contingency that includes the head of the intelligence service, and the ministers of higher education, heath and foreign affairs. Mohammed Barghathi, the Libyan ambassador to Jordan, posted on Wednesday on his Facebook account a photo of himself taken with with Haftar.

“Meeting with Field Marshal Khalifa Bilqasim Haftar the commander-in-chief of the Libyan Army,” the ambassador said in the post. The meeting included “discussions about the homeland and the building of the state and commitment to holding elections and respecting the peaceful transfer of power.”

Barghathi called such future actions “the basis to build the hope for national state.”

It is unclear what the added value of Jordan is for the Libyans. Adnan Abu Odeh, a former adviser to King Hussein and King Abdullah, told Arab News that he was surprised by the news.

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New US airstrike in Somalia kills 3 al-Shabaab extremists


The US military says it has killed three al-Shabaab extremists with an airstrike in central Somalia as it continues to attack a new base of operations for the al-Qaeda-linked fighters.

The US Africa Command statement says Tuesday's airstrike was carried out "in the vicinity of Quy Cad near Debatscile" in the Mudug region.

The US last week reported several airstrikes in Mudug killed 50 al-Shabab extremists. The group recently relocated to the region as a key training and planning base after the US and allies increased pressure and surveillance further south.

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Nigerian soldiers repel another Boko Haram attack on army base – Official

November 29, 2018

The Nigerian Army on Thursday said its troops killed four Boko Haram terrorists when they attempted to attack 118 Battalion location at Arege village in Borno.

The army said in its Twitter handles that on November 28, the troops successfully repelled the terrorists’ attack, killed several of them and recovered high calibre weapons.

It disclosed that the terrorists suffered heavy casualties and fled in disarray leaving behind four dead bodies of their members.

“Boko Haram met their waterloo and suffered heavy casualties yesterday evening Nov. 28, 2018; when they attempted to infiltrate 118 Battalion location at Arege in Abadam Local Government Area (LGA) of Borno.

“The terrorists were completely routed by the troops, neutralising many of them while others fled in disarray due to superior firepower. As a result, they hastily evacuated most of their corpses under the cover of darkness.

“However, during exploitation of the general area at dawn, the gallant troops discovered four Boko Haram terrorists’ corpses and recovered the following weapons- one Anti Aircraft Gun, four AK 47 rifles and one Light Machine Gun,’’ the army said.

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Muslim group reacts as Buhari increases police salary

November 29, 2018

By John Owen Nwachukwu

The Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, has hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for approving increment of police officers’ salary.

President Buhari on Wednesday announced a huge increase in the salary of the Nigerian Police.

The review is expected to affect all policemen from the highest to the lowest rank.

In a press statement signed by MURIC Director, Ishaq Akintola, and issued to DAILY POST on Thursday, the Muslim rights organization said it welcomed the decision with great pleasure.

The statement said, “It is a new dawn. President Buhari has energized our police. This is the kind of motivation the police needs.

“The increase which is said to be about 300% above the former salary will address the country’s security challenge and substantially reduce bribery and corruption in the system.

“It is the greatest motivation ever received by the Nigerian police. Nigerians have been blaming the police wrongly for some time now.

“But MURIC has been consistent in analyzing the situation very objectively. We have always placed the blame on lack of motivation, poor salary structure, lack of welfare and poor equipment.

“We commend Buhari for listening to our cries. This is a listening leader. No administration in the history of this country has done so much for the police department.

“When Buhari assumed office, the police force had just 317,000 men watching over a population of more than 220 million when the global best practice as recommended by the United Nations is one policeman to every 500 citizens.

“Within the spate of three years, he has increased police population to 334,000. He first approved the recruitment of 10,000 about two years ago and another 6,000 not long after that. There is no iota of doubt that Buhari will do more if he is given another four years in power.

“If we compare his performance to that of his predecessors we will find a huge difference. In 2002, the Federal Government (FG) promised to recruit 40,000 policemen annually.

“That promise remained on paper till today. Although Buhari did not make any promise to the police during the 2015 electioneering campaigns, he has come up with surprise packages for them.

“The wailers may still not see change in this development. We respect constructive criticism but we find it difficult to understand blind and fanatical doubting Thomases.

“Perpetual wailers have failed to see Buhari’s home-grown school feeding programme which has accommodated over nine million children across twenty-two states.

“They have ignored FG’s trader-money which gives direct empowerment to market women across the country. They have turned the blind eye at N-Power volunteer corps which employs 500,000 Nigerian graduates.

“Yet there is more. The Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) gives N5,000 monthly to the extremely poor. In the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, a soft loan scheme targets 1.6 million women, traders, artisans, small businesses and youths.

“Under the scheme, soft loans of between N10,000 and N100,000 is given to these categories of people without interest with a repayment period of three months to six months and administration cost of 5 per cent by the Bank of Industry.

“It appears that Buhari’s Social intervention programmes (SIPs) annoy wailers because Buhari is sharing money to the poor masses directly instead of putting it in the private pockets of politicians.

“This was the practice during the sixteen years of pillage. But change is here. It is no longer business as usual. The tap from which money was flowing into the buckets of politicians has been turned off courtesy of BVN and Treasury Single Account (TSA). Stealing is now corruption.

“Wailers are on their own if they still cannot appreciate this administration. Objectivity demands that one shows respect even for the enemy when the latter achieves an extraordinary feat. Buhari recognized June 12 but instead of admitting the giant stride, wailers said it was politics. They said he was buying votes with the welfare programmes.

“FG is building the second Niger Bridge which previous administrations have failed to attend to despite humongous allocations earmarked for the project. That project which will cost N210 billion is 50% complete.

“Lagos-Ibadan rail line which is gulping $1.4 billion is 80% complete. Nigerians are being shown pictures and video clips of the progress of these projects yet wailers are yelling. We have no doubt that wailers will still complain even if Buhari constructs Macadam roads to their bedrooms. Wailers are haters.

“We are waiting to see how the spoilsports in the National Assembly (NASS) will frustrate this good move. We want to see how increase in police salary will be ambushed. It is in the character of some politicians to spoil the good work of government so as to make the president unpopular, with the hope that this will enhance their own inordinate ambition of seizing the reins of power.

“But Nigerians are not fools. They know those who are causing distractions. They know those who are overambitious. They know those who want to rule by hook or by crook. But above all, Almighty Allah is waiting for those who plot against the Nigerian people, ‘Verily your Lord lies in wait’ (Qur’an 89:14 Inna Rabbaka labil-mirsaad).

“Just yesterday Buhari reduced JAMB and NECO examination fees from N5,000 to N3,500 in order to make it easier for children of the poor to register for those crucial examinations. These and other welfarist innovations of this administration further cement our conviction that Buhari cares.

“Yet as we appreciate President Buhari’s great contributions to growth particularly the new police salary structure, we must ask for more, just like Oliver Twist. The police still needs better equipment. Every policeman should have a walkie-talkie and a pistol stuck in his belt. Patrol cars should come at one for every two policemen. We also call for improved welfare like life insurance scheme for the police.

MURIC also commended the Police Service Commission. “We appreciate the Police Service Commission under the able leadership of Alhaji Musiliu Smith. We can feel the commission’s contribution in the recent development.

“We call on the police to remember the old aphorism that to whom much is given, much is expected. They should reciprocate with the speed of light. We are in a season of change. Nigerians want action.

Full report at:




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