New Age Islam
Thu Oct 22 2020, 05:55 AM

Islamic World News ( 20 Jan 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Presidents and Secretaries of Mosques in Hassan Get Threat Letters Defending CAA, Asks Muslims to Convert To Hinduism







• Rightful Demand of Kashmiri Pandits That They Are Facilitated To Return To Their Birth Place: Vice-President

• Opposition Parties Resume Hazara Province Movement, Worrying Ruling PTI

• Muslim Leaders Must Invest In People, Not Wars - Marina Mahathir

• Trump to Announce Fate of ‘Deal of the Century’ Within Days: White House Official

• Al-Qaeda’s Senior Leadership Praises Jihadists in Mali and Somalia

• War Veterans Launch Drive for Complete US Pullout from Afghanistan

• New Gov’t Needed Urgently To Avoid Collapse: Lebanon’s Hariri

• Supreme Leader: US Angered but World Fascinated by Iranian Nation's Resistance

• British MPs Call For UK To Recognize Palestinian State

 

India

• Presidents and Secretaries of Mosques in Hassan Get Threat Letters Defending CAA, Asks Muslims to Convert To Hinduism

• Rightful Demand of Kashmiri Pandits That They Are Facilitated To Return To Their Birth Place: Vice-President

• Najeeb Jung on CAA: Include Muslims or remove names of other religions

• Indian Christians protest against 'anti-Muslim' law

• SAD won’t contest Delhi elections amid differences with ally BJP over CAA, NRC

• Jammu and Kashmir: Three Hizbul militants killed in J&K encounter in Shopian

• Residents launch weeklong protest against CAA

• Police may hand over J&K DSP Davinder Singh, militants to NIA custody today

• No explanation can satisfy CAA suit: Kerala Governor after meeting with chief secy

• J&K DGP echoes Rawat: ‘De-radicalisation centres in Kashmir will be a good move’

• Karnataka BJP leader Renukacharya targets Muslims, says will put them in their place

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Pakistan

• Opposition Parties Resume Hazara Province Movement, Worrying Ruling PTI

• Wells praises Pakistan’s efforts against illegal US immigrants

• Qureshi reiterates Pakistan’s commitment to peace in the region

• PML-N hints at considering PM Imran’s dialogue offer

• Conference asks govt to withdraw amends to CPC, CNSA Act

• Pakistan’s economy: IMF projects low GDP growth, high inflation, unemployment

• Fazl calls meeting of opposition parties to devise next strategy  

• US hails progress made to meet FATF requirements

• Prime Minister Imran to speak at World Economic Forum

• Govt can independently challenge Nawaz stay abroad: LHC

• Rights lawyer Jalila Haider detained at Lahore airport for over six hours

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Southeast Asia

• Muslim Leaders Must Invest In People, Not Wars - Marina Mahathir

• Heavy hand of religion disrupting studies at govt schools, say helpless parents

• UTM denies spreading salafi propaganda, denounces article claiming links as false

• Malaysia’s Islamic schools need help

• ‘From High Hopes To Shattered Dreams: The Second MahathiristRevolution A Year After’

• Indonesian Nationalism vs. International Law

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North America

• Trump to Announce Fate of ‘Deal of the Century’ Within Days: White House Official

• There’s nothing diplomatic about Twitter war between US and Iran leaders

• Trump regime shifting Daesh terrorists from Syria to Iraq

• Pompeo in Colombia to attend anti-terrorism conference

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Africa

• Al-Qaeda’s Senior Leadership Praises Jihadists in Mali and Somalia

• Khalifa Haftar Shows Diplomatic Skill As Libya Conflict Sucks In World Powers

• Explosion rocks Sudanese capital Khartoum, several dead

• EU agrees to consider ways to support formal Libya truce

• Tunisian President Tasks Former Finance Minister to Form Next Government

• EU must consider ways to support ceasefire in Libya: Borrell

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South Asia

• War Veterans Launch Drive for Complete US Pullout from Afghanistan

• Bangladesh Sentences 10 to Death for 2001 Political Bombings

• Myanmar-appointed panel finds 'war crimes' but no 'genocide' against Rohingya

• Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

• 2 New JMB men held for 2019 police attacks

• Peace is a Collective Desire: Abdullah

• Criminals Stabbed an Afghan Student in India

• Lack of Security Raises Concerns for Kabul Residents

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Arab World

• New Gov’t Needed Urgently To Avoid Collapse: Lebanon’s Hariri

• Lebanon FM Gebran Bassil’s invite to Davos sparks protests, online campaign

• Saudi Arabia, UAE condemn Houthi attack on mosque that killed more than 100

• Egypt extends state of emergency to three years

• Four protesters, two policemen killed as Iraq unrest resumes

• Iraqi Hezbollah to Set Up New Base at Borders with Syria

• Two rockets land near US embassy in Baghdad, no casualties reported

• Russian airstrikes kill seven civilians in northwest Syria: Report

• Lebanon’s protests turn into riots during weekend of violence

• Baghdad to send delegates to Russia, China, Ukraine to buy latest air defense systems: Iraqi MP

• UK legal team urges police to arrest Egypt’s Sisi during London visit over Morsi death

• Muslim World League, Catholic university sign cooperation agreement

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Mideast

• Supreme Leader: US Angered but World Fascinated by Iranian Nation's Resistance

• Iran Warns to Punish US Accomplices in Assassination of General Soleimani

• IRGC Qods Force Commander: Enemies Understand No Language but Force

• Houthi ambassador to Iran visits Soleimani’s family, presents son with dagger

• Iran Warns to Leave NPT in Case of Referral to UNSC

• IRGC Commander Appoints New Deputy Qods Force Commander

• Iran "Suspicious" of British Envoy's Participation in Tehran Protest Rallies

• FM Spokesman Warns Europe of Iran' Next N. Deal Move

• Iran asks US, France for technology to download Ukrainian plane's black box info

• Honduras becomes latest to officially declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization

• Palestinian family vows to appeal Israeli ruling over Jerusalem home eviction

• Lebanon arrests US journalist over allegedly covering protests for Israeli daily

• Israeli court orders to evict Palestinian family from own home in Jerusalem al-Quds

• Israel's budget deficit deepens amid financial crisis

• Turkish forces accommodate 1,500 militant family members in Syria's Ra’s al-Ayn

• Young Palestinian man shot by Israeli troopers dies of injuries

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Europe

• British MPs Call For UK To Recognize Palestinian State

• New President of French Muslim Council Elected

• Norway finance minister resigns over ISIS woman’s return from Syria

• US misinforming intl. community on Iran's enrichment right: Russia

• Bosnia atrocity families take Dutch state to European court

• France: Seven men detained over plans for terror attack

• Demonstrators protest Egyptian President Sisi in London

• UK: Legal group urges arrest warrant for Egypt’s Sisi

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/presidents-and-secretaries-of-mosques-in-hassan-get-threat-letters-defending-caa,-asks-muslims-to-convert-to-hinduism/d/120850

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Presidents and Secretaries of Mosques in Hassan Get Threat Letters Defending CAA, Asks Muslims to Convert To Hinduism

19th January 2020

HASSAN: Presidents and secretaries of various mosques received threatening letters in Hassan district on Saturday.

The letters questioned their integrity and loyalty to the nation and defended the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act - 2019 and National Register of Citizens and lauded the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.

Secretaries of mosques in Hassan, Arsikere, Sakleshpur and Belur received such anonymous letters.

Interestingly, the letters had the address of Bellari MLA Somashekara Reddy and Vijayanagara MLA Anand Singh.

The letter also asked the people of a particular community to convert to the Hindu religion.

Expressing anger over the anonymous letters, presidents and secretaries of the mosques met police and urged them to trace the miscreants and take action.

A Muslim leader said we want peace and prosperity and anti-nationals are trying to disturb it by doing such nasty things. Police suspect that a few locals may be behind the incident.

Residents come out to protest against CAA

Mysuru: Hundreds of residents from Bannimantap area gathered opposite St Philomena’s ground near Bengaluru-Mysuru road protesting the CAA and NRC.

The protest was organised by the Bannimantap Welfare Association. Protesters announced they will be boycotting NPR.

https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2020/jan/19/mosques-in-hassan-get-threat-letters-defending-caa-asks-muslims-to-convert-to-hinduism-2091492.html

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Rightful Demand Of Kashmiri Pandits That They Are Facilitated To Return To Their Birth Place: Vice-President

Jan 20, 2020

NEW DELHI: Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu on Monday said it is quite natural for the Kashmiri Pandits to expect the governments and society to understand their sufferings and take steps for their rehabilitation.

He said it is the duty of the country as a whole and the Kashmiri people in particular to see that the "sons of the soil, who were driven out due to killings and terror instigated by India's neighbour, are provided safety and security upon their return."

In a series of tweets, Naidu said it is the rightful demand of the Kashmiri Pandits and other displaced persons that they should be facilitated to return to their place of birth.

"I feel that it is quite natural for the Kashmiri Pandits to expect the governments and society to understand their sufferings and take steps for their rehabilitation," he said.

The displaced Kashmiri pandits across the world commemorated January 19 as “holocaust day” to mark the exodus of over 70,000 pandit families from the Valley due to killings and terror by Pakistan-sponsored terrorists in 1990.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/rightful-demand-of-kashmiri-pandits-that-they-are-facilitated-to-return-to-their-birth-place-venkaiah-naidu/articleshow/73444031.cms

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Opposition parties resume Hazara province movement, worrying ruling PTI

Zia Ur Rehman

January 21, 2020

KARACHI: The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf that has already been under severe pressure for not materialising its promise to carve out the South Punjab province now has to face another challenge. Key leaders of the opposition parties, including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazl, in a public gathering on Sunday night in Karachi announced to resume the campaign for a separate Hazara province.

Sardar Muhammad Yousaf, a former federal minister and a PML-N central leader, Senator Talha Mehmood, a JUI-F central leader, and Murtaza Javed Abbasi, former deputy speaker National Assembly, spoke to a public gathering in Karachi’s Rasheedabad, where they announced to start the campaign for the Hazara province again from April 12 – the tenth anniversary of the Abbottabad incident, where seven people were killed during the protest against renaming the erstwhile North West Frontier Province (NWFP) as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa following the passage of the 18th Amendment in 2010.

A number of current and former lawmakers from KP’s Hazara Division, including Dr. Sajjad Awan, Mian Zia Ur Rehman, Nawabzada Farid Salahuddin, former federal minister Syed Qasim Shah, leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, Suba Hazara Tehreek and other political parties also attended the gathering organised by the Karachi-based organization working for the formation of the new province.

Former federal minister Yousaf said that the PML-N has already announced to support the government in passing the bill tabled in the parliament. “But the PTI-led government is not serious about delivering its promise of a separate province it made with Hazara’s voters,” said Yousaf, who is now the PML-N’s parliamentary leader in the KP Assembly.

“The government and opposition both had tabled a bill for the Hazara province in National Assembly and Senate and now the Centre had to show that it was serious about delivering the PTI’s promise of a separate province during the 2018’s general elections,” he said.

JUI-F’s Mehmood also asked the ruling PTI to ensure that the legislation was passed in the National Assembly (NA) and Senate. “If the government can carve our new districts and tehsils, why did it not carve out a new province,” he asked. He said that the Hazara province movement was a sacred cause and the demand was constitutionally valid.

Former deputy speaker Abbasi said that residents demand the restoration of Hazara’s status as a province purely on administrative grounds. “It takes an entire day if someone is travelling from Kohistan to Peshawar,” he said.

In the gathering, a committee to negotiate with political parties and mobilise people for the new province was also formed. Analysts believe that the demand for the Hazara province has been considered an emotional issue to lure voters in KP’s Hazara Division for the upcoming local government polls but also discredit the ruling PTI for not passing the bill already tabled in the parliament.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/601868-opposition-parties-resume-hazara-province-movement-worrying-ruling-pti

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Muslim leaders must invest in people, not wars - Marina Mahathir

January 21, 2020

The activist daughter of Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says Muslim leaders must focus on education and health instead of war and strife.

Marina Mahathir, daughter of Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, has been at the forefront of a fight to preserve her country’s values.

An activist and writer, she is a member of the Sisters in Islam (SIS), an NGO, and has been a vocal critic of what she calls the “Arabisation” of Malay culture, particularly under the influence of oil-rich Saudi Arabia.

For pious Muslims, the debate around the hijab and facing-covering veil is a sensitive subject, which Islamophobes in Europe have exploited to attack migrants from war-stricken places such as Syria.

But the 62-year-old Marina says it's time for Muslims to confront the problems that stem from a rigid interpretation of religion - something which powerful men have used for their own gain.

Malaysia, an island country, known for its ethnic diversity, serene beaches and colonial-era architecture, stands out in the Muslim world for its economic progress - it’s top export are integrated circuits, and Kuala Lumpur has stayed clear from conflicts that have bogged down other Muslim nations in the Middle East.

Her father, Mahathir, ruled the country from 1981 to 2003 and is credited for the country’s economic growth.

Since coming to power again in 2018, the 94-year-old statesman has recalibrated Malaysia’s foreign policy - Malaysia will no longer be a silent spectator to injustices affecting Muslims.

Last month, Mahathir hosted a conference of Muslim leaders in Kuala Lumpur which irked Saudi Arabia as it was seen as an alternative to the Jeddah-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

In an interview with TRT World, Marina shared her views on Malaysia trying to strike a balance between rational handling of diplomacy and a tide of conservatism.

Tell us about Sisters in Islam? Are you its founder?

No, I’m not its founder. I was a supporter for a long time, but I actually joined in 2009. Sisters in Islam was founded 30 years ago. It was an initiative of Muslim women, journalists, lawyers and academics who were part a debate around a law that would ban domestic violence.

A lot of men said such a law can’t be introduced because religion allowed them to beat their wives. But the women who were part of Sisters in Islam were puzzled because they found it hard to believe that God would allow female believers to be beaten up.

These women did their own research and contacted scholars. They figured that there were many interpretations of the Ayat 4:34, which talks about hitting and there there’s no consensus on what it means. Also, the hitting part comes at the end of a long list of ways on how to solve (domestic) conflicts. 

That opened up the debate and the law was finally adopted in 1994 - making Malaysia the first Muslim country to have a Domestic Violence Act.

You have often talked about the erosion of Malay culture. Can you tell us why you feel so strongly about it?

I am as old as Malaysia, and I have seen it evolve. Malay culture is really quite relaxed. But the Iranian revolution influenced a lot of people with the introduction of political Islam, and that’s when we started to see women taking hijab.

More cultural changes followed as along with the hijab, women started wearing jubah, the long dress that covers the entire body and often comes in dull colours. I have also seen women in niqab (face-covering veil), which is very alien to our culture.

It doesn't suit very hot humid climate here. I think clothes are a reflection of culture and environment. It’s quite clear something like the jubah is suited for a desert climate.

On the eve of the Muslim holiday festival of Eid a few years ago, I was in a market looking for new clothes, and all I could see were long jubahs.

Some call it the Islamic fashion, which I don’t like because it implies that the rest of us who don't dress like that are not Islamic. The term has been modified to modest fashion, which is a bit more acceptable.

Our national dress (such as kebaya) is very modest and colourful. There is a movement now to bring back our costume in the shape of #bringbackthekebaya, which is one of our national costumes. 

Another example of the cultural change that I see is how people are exerting a lot of Arabic into their speech. Like instead of saying Terima Kasih, which means thank you, people are using Arabic terms.

Why? We have a perfectly acceptable word, which we have been using for centuries, it's lovely because it literally means ‘accept my love’.

Is Saudi Arabia funding religious institutions in Malaysia?

I suspect so. I can’t say for sure. I know it’s happening in Sri Lanka and in Cambodia.

A lot of religious schools are coming up, and I am just wondering who is funding them. None of this is transparent.

There has been a change of attitudes, for example, towards Shia Muslims. For the longest time, we didn’t bother with Shias because there aren’t many. But suddenly there’s an uptake in this anti-Shia stuff. I am wondering where would this attitude come from because generally, we are quite relaxed about such differences.

Do you think Malaysia’s foreign policy is shifting especially following the Kuala Lumpur summit?

I can not speak for the government.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister is very fed up of disunity in the Muslim Ummah. The whole thing about Saudi Arabia attacking Yemen is mind-boggling. Kashmir, Rohingya and Uighurs are all human rights issues, so it’s not just about religion.

The Kuala Lumpur summit was not meant to talk about religion but the social and political issues that need to be resolved. If we are so busy fighting then how are we going to develop our countries, how are we going to serve the people? I think that’s what frustrates him (Mahathir).

Does the Muslim world need a leader?

I am wondering about the idea of having a leader in the Muslim world because nobody else has that. There is no leader in the Buddhist or Christian world. But somehow we feel we need one.

I do feel that given that the rest of the world sees us as a kind of a monolithic group, which we are not, they somehow feel that we also need to have a common leader.

What do you think about the rise in Islamophobia?

We complain about Islamophobia, but we are not really doing much to end that stereotyping and prejudice by behaving the way we do.

Islamophobia is terrible, but I don't think we are entirely not at fault. We can’t complain about it and at the same time keep our people illiterate, impoverished and bombing the hell out of each other.

Muslim leaders must focus on their people, and spend money on health and education instead of on weapons they buy from the west.

If I put my feminist hat on for a while, then I think all these countries are ruled by men, and they have their egos that need to be stroked, and that’s it.

https://www.trtworld.com/art-culture/muslim-leaders-must-invest-in-people-not-wars-marina-mahathir-33080

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Trump to announce fate of ‘Deal of the Century’ within days: White House official

21 January 2020

US President Donald Trump is set to decide the fate of his administration’s Middle East peace proposal, named the “Deal of the Century”, within the coming days, according to a White House official.

The official said that Trump was the one who will be making the decision and is considering the timing of the announcement as a delay will not be in the interest of the plan given the upcoming US presidential election later this year.

The White House announced the economic aspect of the deal last June during a “Peace to Prosperity” held in Bahrain’s capital Manama. At the time, Trump’s son-in-law and his senior adviser Jared Kushner announced an ambitious plan aimed at investing $50 bln in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, along with a number of neighboring countries, such as Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt.

The Palestinian Authority boycotted the Manama workshop and Palestinian businessmen did not participate in the conference.

Speaking to Al Arabiya last July, Trump’s former Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, said Kushner’s economic plan “will not move forward” without a political agreement, reiterating his criticism of the Palestinian Authority’s unwillingness to discuss the plan.

Ghaith al-Omari, a former peace negotiator, said he saw an announcement of the plan at the present time would lead to its inevitable failure because the Palestinian Authority rejects it and the Arab states will not accept it if the Palestinians do not agree with it.

The US official who spoke to Al Arabiya also denied the accusations against the White House administration that Trump wanted to announce the plan in the coming days in order to give a boost to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who faces a third election in less than a year in March.

“This factor is not being considered by the White House because the most important thing is to launch the plan before Kushner gets busy with Trump’s re-election campaign,” the White House official said.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/21/Trump-to-announce-fate-of-Deal-of-the-Century-within-days-White-House-official.html

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Al-Qaeda’s senior leadership praises jihadists in Mali and Somalia

BY THOMAS JOSCELYN

January 20, 2020

Al-Qaeda’s senior management, or general command, has released a two-page statement praising the jihadists in Mali and Somalia. Al-Qaeda has strong branches in both East and West Africa, and the international organization’s leaders signal their approval for the jihadists’ ongoing wars in the new missive.

“Salutations for the Defenders of Islam in Mali” was released online on Jan. 18, with al-Qaeda’s propagandists making both Arabic and English versions available on various websites and social media channels.

Much of the statement is focused on the battles in Mali, though it ends with praise for the jihadists’ efforts in Somalia as well.

Though al-Qaeda’s senior men don’t name the parties they have in mind, they are clearly lauding Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM, or the “Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims”) and Shabaab, among other al-Qaeda groups. Both JNIM and Shabaab remain openly loyal to Ayman al-Zawahiri and have claimed attacks as part of al-Qaeda’s “Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Will Never Be Judaized” campaign.

The statement reflects al-Qaeda’s ongoing role in guiding the insurgencies. “We consider it our duty to encourage them, guide them to the correct course, offer them sound advice and praise their valuable efforts,” the statement reads.

Al-Qaeda’s senior leaders praise the jihadists in Mali for confronting the “invading forces” and for “terrorizing the Crusaders and their allies.”

Indeed, the statement frames the conflicts almost entirely as battles against the West and Western influence.

“Rest assure that if liberal, hedonist [and] animalistic France attains control over your lands and resources, it will spread great corruption in the land,” the statement reads. “You must realize that you are the sword of Allah that will make the French and their allies taste bitterness in the world.”

“You are fully aware of the economic and cultural projects of the enemy, just as you know that they have strategic interests, besides missionary aims, in Mali and the broader Sahel region,” al-Qaeda’s management team tells their followers. “So make sure that the trail of coffins sent back to enemy’s lands does not stop.”

Al-Qaeda’s leadership advises the jihadists to “[p]lay an active part in dismantling the French and American project that is represented by the combined forces of the five states in the Sahel region,” adding that they should “[u]se all military resources at your disposal for this cause.”

“We support your brave raids against the French and their toadies in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger,” the authors state. “We encourage you to target American forces, contractors, and their security companies in the region.”

The statement’s authors “congratulate” their loyalists in West Africa for successfully “liberating” some unidentified prisoners, and for supposedly intimidating Germany to the point that the country refuses “to send their special forces to fight you.” The latter is allegedly “an obvious sign of the terror that you have struck in the hearts of the Crusaders and their apostate allies.”

Al-Qaeda’s general command encourages the fighters in West Africa to continue producing propaganda, because the “Islamic Ummah [worldwide community of Muslims]” closely “follows” their “statements and media productions.” Their jihad is part of an “Islamic military awakening in the Islamic Maghreb” that “shall spread and its flame will set alight the lands of the invaders,” the statement reads.

“In the end, we call upon the honorable Muslim Ummah to fulfill its historic duty regarding the Islamic cause in Mali and Somalia by supporting the blessed Jihadi movement with everything at their disposal,” al-Qaeda’s senior men write. “We call upon the virtuous people of Mali and Somalia to unite under the banner of Tawhid (Unity of Allah), and rush forth to fulfill their duty of Jihad in the Way of Allah and defense of the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him).”

The statement doesn’t mention the Islamic State’s presence in either East or West Africa. The self-declared caliphate built a presence in both areas from 2014 onward, but failed to supplant al-Qaeda’s regional branches.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) spawned JNIM in 2017 as part of al-Qaeda’s reorganization efforts. AQIM and its local allies, including Ansar Dine, which plays a prominent role in JNIM, were laying the groundwork for a jihadist emirate in Mali when the French intervened in early 2013. The U.S. has backed France’s efforts to contain al-Qaeda and the Islamic State across the region in the years since then, while also attempting to prevent Shabaab from building its emirate in Somalia and East Africa.

The total American military presence in Africa is estimated to be between 6,000 and 7,000 troops. However, America’s military footprint across Africa is much in doubt, as the Defense Department is reportedly considering plans to withdraw forces from the continent.

https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2020/01/al-qaeda-senior-leadership-praises-jihadists-in-mali-and-somalia.php

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War veterans launch drive for complete US pullout from Afghanistan

Anwar Iqbal

January 21, 2020

WASHINGTON: “Tell Washington it’s time to bring our troops home,” says a new anti-war campaign launched in the US capital and three swing states this weekend.

This multimillion-dollar ad blitz is aggressive and has been launched by a conservative veterans’ group, which has many supporters among those who are likely to vote for President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

But this time the Concerned Veterans for America is focusing on policy makers in Washington and voters in three battleground states — Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. These are called swing states because they are neither solidly Republican nor Democrat and play a decisive role in the presidential election.

“Now, more than ever, is the time to get serious about withdrawing our troops from unnecessary conflicts and mismanaged entanglements,” says an ad aired in the target areas. “Keeping American troops in isolated military bases ... is no longer critical to our security.”

The campaign points out that America still has “roughly 14,000 troops in harm’s way” in Afghanistan where 2,400 Americans troops have been killed since 2001.

The Afghan war “has no clear path to victory” and has cost American taxpayers an estimated one trillion dollars, the campaign adds.

The ads promote a clear objective: an immediate end to the 18-year old war and a complete withdrawal of all US troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible.

The move can be effective as it targets a vulnerable spot in Mr Trump’s reelection effort, and because the president already supports this objective. Mr Trump promised to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan in his 2016 election campaign and never tired of pushing for it after his election.

The veterans, however, thought this was the right time to push for the pullout as Americans and the Taliban appear close to finalising a peace deal and they want a schedule for troop pullout included in the deal.

But during his visit to Washington last week, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi warned that a rapid withdrawal could have “disastrous consequences” for the entire region.

“You did this in the 1980s. You were there, and you left. Do not repeat the 80s,” he said while speaking at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington on Friday.

“We feel that this time, even if there’s a successful agreement, challenges will remain there,” he said. “So, the United States and its coalition partners will have to have a more responsible withdrawal.”

Policy makers in Kabul also have said that a rapid, and unplanned, pullout can push Afghanistan back into yet another crisis. Both Pakistani and Afghan governments want the United States remain engaged, “not to fight but to rebuild,” as Mr Qureshi said.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1529608/war-veterans-launch-drive-for-complete-us-pullout-from-afghanistan

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New gov’t needed urgently to avoid collapse: Lebanon’s Hariri

20 January 2020

Lebanon needs to urgently form a new government to get out of a cycle of collapse that has repercussions for the country’s economic and security situation, caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri tweeted on Monday.

Hariri said the country was headed to the “unknown” while obstruction has continued and the team responsible for forming a government has taken its time.

Lebanon has been without a government since Hariri resigned on October 29 in the face of mass protests.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/20/New-gov-t-needed-urgently-to-avoid-collapse-Lebanon-s-Hariri.html

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Supreme Leader: US Angered But World Fascinated by Iranian Nation's Resistance

Jan 20, 2020

The Iranian nation’s independence, resistance and refusal to submit to bullying angers the United States, Ayatollah Khamenei said, addressing a group of Hajj officials in Tehran on Monday.

“The resistance of the Islamic Republic of Iran against America and the Iranian nation’s refusal to undergo bullying is a fascinating fact for the world and this fascination should be used to spread the truth about Islam and the Iranian nation,” he said.

Ayatollah Khamenei said the model of “religious democracy” being practiced in Iran is unknown to the world, adding the Hajj is an opportunity to promote it and explain the reasons behind the US enmity with Iran, while “millions of propaganda instruments are operating against the Islamic Republic”.  

“The reason Americans are angry with the Iranian nation is the appeal which arises from the image of resistance in an independent system standing up against a highway bully,” the Leader said.

Tensions between Iran and the United States have risen to new highs following the Unites States’ assassination of top Iranian military Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq and the Islamic Republic’s response to the terrorist move with a volley of ballistic missiles pounding two US bases.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a video after the attack, in which he said Washington wanted “Iran to simply behave like a normal nation.”

Ayatollah Khamenei said the “aim of the Americans in saying that Iran should behave like a normal nation is that the Islamic Republic drop its new message for the world, that is combining popular opinion with Islamic thought and religious principles in the formation and administration of society.”

“Introducing the political foundations of the Islamic Republic's system and explaining its new message to the world is another important and necessary task in the Hajj,” the Leader added.

Ayatollah Khamenei described the Hajj as a political, ideological and social movement, saying many countries are unaware of its significance and function.

The late father of the Islamic Revolution Imam Khomeini “taught us that the Hajj is a serious and international mobilization point, and bears many benefits for the Islamic Ummah,” the Leader said.

Ayatollah Khamenei also touched on immense efforts made by the global powers to prevent the formation of a united Islamic society.

“The Islamic Ummah has not yet formed in its true sense, namely a cohesive unit that acts with common will and purpose and unfortunately - against the invitation to Islamic unity by well-wishers and sympathizers - slanders, conflicts and wars are common in the Islamic countries,” he said.

Based on Islamic rules, every Muslim possessing the necessary physical and financial capabilities is obligated to perform the Tamattu pilgrimage once in his or her lifetime over a five-day period from the eighth to the 12th of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th and last month on the lunar calendar.

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13981030000806

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British MPs call for UK to recognize Palestinian state

January 20, 2020

LONDON: A group of British MPs has called for the UK to recognize the state of Palestine ahead of a visit by Prince Charles to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

In a letter to The Times, the MPs, along with figures from think tanks and pressure groups, said the move was long overdue and would help fulfil Britain’s “promise of equal rights for peoples in two states.”

The call comes as the heir to the British throne travels on Thursday to Israel and the occupied West Bank.

During the visit, he will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem.

Prince Charles will also attend the World Holocaust Forum to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

The letter said since 2014, no meaningful progress has been made in the peace process, and Israel’s actions are pushing a two-state solution beyond reach.

“Illegal Israeli settlements, described by the Foreign Office as undermining peace efforts, are expanding,” the letter said.

Among the signatories are Emily Thornberry, a candidate for the Labour Party leadership, and Crispin Blunt, chairman of the Conservative Middle East Council.

Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian envoy to the UK, welcomed the move but said full recognition from the British government should have happened many years ago.

“Recognition doesn’t contradict peace-making and negotiations,” Zomlot told Arab News, referring to the main argument used by the UK against taking such a step.

Palestine in the UK

@PalMissionUK

If not now, when? H. E. @hzomlot thanks the UK MPs and heads of organisation who called for the recognition of #Palestine in a letter published in The Times newspaper today.

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“It reinforces the vision (of a Palestinian state) and a negotiated two-state solution. It should happen now because of the threat of annexation (of Palestinian territory) and the killing of the two-state solution.”

Alistair Carmichael, a Liberal Democrat MP who signed the letter, told Arab News that the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government toward Palestine “makes the achievement of a two-state solution more and more remote with every week that passes.”

He said: “The UK has historic and political obligations toward Israelis and Palestinians. There’s now no longer any good reason not to recognize the state of Palestine.”

A spokesman for Labour MP Fabian Hamilton, who also signed the letter, told Arab News: “The fact that this has cross-party support shows the growing desire across Parliament for the recognition of a Palestinian state and a two-state solution.”

Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, said the international community needs to finally stand up for the solution that it has had on the table for decades.

Doyle, an Arab News columnist, said the letter is an “indication that many people in British politics think we should be doing this, we should be standing up for the Palestinian right to self-determination, the legal rights, at a time when the state of Israel is doing everything to stop this, to take more land from the Palestinians.”

The letter was timed to coincide with a meeting of European foreign ministers on Monday, who discussed the Middle East peace process.

The Palestinian Authority, which runs parts of the West Bank, has been increasing calls for European countries to recognize the state of Palestine as the US has shifted to a more pro-Israel stance, including recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017.

Caabu

@Caabu

The Time is Right to Recognise Palestine: Letter to the Times from a cross-party group of Parliamentarians ahead of the UK's final EU foreign affairs council. Signatories include @Caabu chair @DavidJonesMP & board member @amcarmichaelMP  https://www.caabu.org/news/news/time-right-recognise-palestine-caabu-chair-david-jones-mp-board-member-alistair-carmichael …

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Writing in The Guardian on Monday, Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said Europe could strengthen its role in the peace process if it recognized Palestine.

“European recognition of this state is not only a European responsibility but a concrete way to move toward a just and lasting peace,” he said.

Only nine out of the 28 EU countries have so far recognized Palestine as a state, compared to 138 out of the 193 UN member states.

In 2011, the UK’s then-Foreign Minister William Hague said the British government “reserves the right” to recognize Palestine “at a time of our own choosing, and when it can best serve the cause of peace.”

In 2012, the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status to that of “non-member observer state.”

Zomlot said that the UK has a historically important role in the Palestinian issue, dating back to the British mandate of Palestine (1920-1948, the Balfour Declaration — a public statement issued by the British government in 1917 that expressed support to the formation of “a national home for the Jewish people” — and subsequently the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe) and the military occupation of that 1967 borders.

“With the current quest for the UK to be a global player and post-Brexit, we believe that the UK could be a very important factor in achieving Middle East peace,” he added.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1615781/middle-east

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India

 

Najeeb Jung on CAA: Include Muslims or remove names of other religions

January 21, 2020

Amid ongoing protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, former Delhi lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung Monday said the legislation required a revamp and should be made inclusive.

“I feel that the Citizenship Amendment Act needs a revamp. They should either include Muslims or remove other names (of religions). If Prime Minister Narendra Modi calls these people and talks, the matter will be resolved,” Jung said while addressing protesters at Jamia Millia Islamia.

Jung, who was also the Jamia vice-chancellor, questioned the Centre over not meeting the anti-CAA protesters while saying that former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s government had met agitators when the Anna Hazare-led anti-corruption movement was going on.

“When the common man’s agitation was going on, the Manmohan Singh-led government had met Arvind Kejriwal and his associates. There is a revolution happening at every nook and corner… You (government) will have to discuss this with these students. They will run the country,” PTI quoted Jung as saying.

In the middle of his speech, Jung read out the Preamble of the Constitution. He concluded his speech by singing the national anthem.

Jung also condemned the police action in the university, besides the violence at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).

“We still do not know who (all) were involved in it… Such incidents are very shameful for any democracy and the national capital,” he said, referring to the January 5 rampage inside JNU, which left over 36 injured.

Jung was one of the 106 personalities who had recently written an open letter, saying that the National Population Register and the National Register of Citizens were “unnecessary and wasteful exercises” which would cause hardships to the public.

“We have our grave reservations about the Constitutional validity of the CAA provisions, which we also consider to be morally indefensible. We would like to emphasise that a statute that consciously excludes the Muslim religion from its purview is bound to give rise to apprehensions in what is a very large segment of India’s population,” said the letter, titled “India does not need the CAA-NPR-NRIC”.

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/najeeb-jung-on-citizenship-amenment-act-6226569/

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Indian Christians protest against 'anti-Muslim' law

January 20, 2020

More than 8,000 people from the Christian community took to the streets in eastern India Monday to protest against a citizenship law that critics say discriminates against Muslims.

Hindu-majority India has been gripped by widespread street demonstrations that have sometimes turned deadly, with the march in West Bengal state's capital Kolkata believed to be one of the biggest rallies by Christians.

Carrying banners calling for the citizenship law and proposed nationwide "register of citizens" to be ditched, the demonstrators marched for several kilometres (miles) from a church to a life-sized statue of Indian independence hero Mahatma Gandhi.

One of the protest organisers, Herod Mullick from the Bangiya Christiya Pariseba, said the new legislation was "divisive".

"We want to express our solidarity with the people who are protesting against CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) and NRC (National Register of Citizens) in different parts of India."

Police estimated that more than 8,000 people took part in the march.

The new law makes it easier for persecuted religious minorities from three neighbouring countries to obtain citizenship, but not if they are Muslim.

Full report at:

https://news.yahoo.com/indian-christians-protest-against-anti-muslim-law-145240433.html

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SAD won’t contest Delhi elections amid differences with ally BJP over CAA, NRC

January 20, 2020

Signaling a rift with its NDA ally BJP, the Shiromani Akai Dal (SAD) announced on Monday that it would not contest the February 8 Delhi Assembly elections after it was asked by the saffron party to change its stance on the Citizenship law.

Addressing a press conference, SAD leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa said the party was asked to consider its stand on CAA during three poll-related meetings with the BJP.

“During our meeting with the BJP, we were asked to reconsider our stand on CAA but we declined to do so. SAD is of the firm stand that Muslims cannot be left out of CAA,” Sirsa said.

Sirsa, who contested on a BJP ticket from Rajouri Garden in the 2017 bypolls, said the party was also against a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC).

“We welcome CAA but we never demanded any religion be excluded. We are also strongly against the National Register of Citizens,” he said.

The SAD had earlier demanded that it contest six seats instead of the four seats it has traditionally been contesting in Delhi. The party contested four seats in the 2013 and 2015 assembly polls — Hari Nagar, Rajouri Garden, Kalkaji and Shahdara. While the party won three seats in 2013, it lost all seats in the 2015 polls.

This time around, sources said, SAD was pushing for two more seats, East Delhi’s Rohtas Nagar and West Delhi’s Moti Nagar, as these constituencies have a large chunk of Sikh and Punjabi voters

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/sad-wont-contest-delhi-elections-amid-differences-with-ally-bjp-over-caa-nrc-6226664/

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Jammu and Kashmir: Three Hizbul militants killed in J&K encounter in Shopian

by Bashaarat Masood

January 21, 2020

In the third major counter-insurgency operation this year, Jammu and Kashmir Police killed three Hizbul Mujahideen militants in an encounter in Shopian district’s Wachi area on Monday. Police have termed the operation a big success.

Among the three killed was Special Police Officer (SPO)-turned-militant Adil Bashir Sheikh, who in September 2018 had decamped with seven AK-47 rifles and a pistol from the official residence of then PDP legislator Ajaz Ahmad Mir.

On Monday morning, a joint team of J&K Police, the Army and paramilitary forces cordoned off Wachi after specific input about the presence of militants. As the joint team of forces was moving towards the target house, the militants jumped out, opened fire and tried to break the security cordon. In the retaliatory fire, all three militants were killed.

The operation days comes after the arrest of Deputy Superintendent of Police Davinder Singh who was accompanying a militant commander, and the killing of another top militant commander in south Kashmir.

“There has been another successful operation this year in which three militants were killed during an encounter,” J&K DGP Dilbag Singh said at a press conference in Srinagar. “We have started 2020 with successful operations. Some days we ago, Hamad Khan (Hizbul commander from south Kashmir’s Tral) was killed with two terrorists. Some militant operatives were arrested from Srinagar together with explosive and suicide belts and the arrest of a police officer with militants is already in your knowledge. In south Kashmir, Hizbul is moving towards its end.”

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/jammu-and-kashmir-three-hizbul-militants-killed-in-jk-encounter-in-shopian-6226995/

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Residents launch weeklong protest against CAA

Jan 21, 2020

Hubballi: Residents of Altaf Nagar, N A Nagar, Ishwar Nagar, Jannath Nagar, united under the banner of Anjuman-E-Islam launched a week’s dharna at the Mini Vidhan Soudha opposing and the implementation of Citizen Amendment Act, National Register of Citizens and National Population Register.

Anjuman president Yusuf Savanur said these acts are anti-minorities and ant-Dalits and divide people on the grounds of caste and religion. “India has been country of harmony. The Union government should withdraw these acts,” he said.

Former minister A M Hindasageri, former MP I G Sanadi, Anjuman members Altaf Kittur, Basheer Hallur, Dadahayat Khairati, Abdul Munaf Devagiri, M A Pathan, Ismail Kalebudde, Altaf Hallur, Dalit leaders Gurunath Ullikashi, activists Mahesh Pattar and others participated in the protest.

Organisers said the dharana will be held for a week and each day residents of different areas will participate.

CAA unconstitutional

Opposing the implementation of CAA, the Dalit Sangrash Samiti staged a protest at the deputy commissioner' office premises in Belagavi on Monday.

DSS members claimed that CAA violates the very principle of the Constitution. They claimed that the Modi government has come up with these Acts to divert attention from the sluggish economy and unemployment. The debate over NRC is a tool to cover BJP's failure, he added.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hubballi/residents-launch-weeklong-protest-against-caa/articleshow/73448524.cms

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Police may hand over J&K DSP Davinder Singh, militants to NIA custody today

by Bashaarat Masood

January 21, 2020

NIA IG Amit Shukhla, the investigating officer in the case pertaining to the arrest of J&K Police DSP Davinder Singh with militants, arrived in Srinagar on Monday. On Sunday, a five-member team from the agency had reached the Valley. J&K Police is likely to hand over the custody of Singh and the militants to the NIA on Tuesday.

According to the police, Singh was arrested on January 11 while he was accompanying Hizbul Mujahideen commander Syed Naveed Mushtaq and his associates to Jammu.

The central agency formally registered an FIR in the case on Saturday. “Three Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists and one DySP of J&K Police (Davinder Singh) were arrested along with arms and ammunition while they were travelling in a car, near Qazigund…” the NIA statement said on Saturday. “Custody of the people in this case is being handed over to NIA,” DGP Dibagh Singh said at a press conference in Srinagar. “The case has been transferred to NIA and it would not be right to comment on that…”

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/police-may-hand-over-jk-dsp-davinder-singh-militants-to-nia-custody-today-6227000/

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No explanation can satisfy CAA suit: Kerala Governor after meeting with chief secy

by Shaju Philip

January 21, 2020

The stand-off between Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and the CPM-led state government intensified on Monday, with the former rejecting the government’s explanation regarding its appeal in the Supreme Court seeking scrapping of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

On Sunday, the Governor sought an explanation from the government on its appeal in the apex court, observing that the government going to the court is in contravention of rules. On Monday, hours after Chief Secretary Tom Jose met the Governor to explain the government side, Khan reiterated his stand. “It is unlawful and not legally correct. So, no explanation can satisfy. They have gone to the court without informing me. That is unlawful,’’ he said.

“I don’t want to talk about my next step. But, I can assure that I would not allow the constitutional machinery to collapse in the state,’’ he said.

The Governor further said, “It is neither a clash of ego nor any personal difference. My request is that as citizen of a country where we have democracy and rule of law, our duty is, not only as authorities, as elected officials, as constitutional authorities, we should abide by the Constitution and the law. In a democracy, individuals are with authority. But that authority does not give licence to anybody to violate the rules. It is not to be projected as differences between the Governor and the government.’’

Quoting rules of procedure and conduct of business in the Assembly, the Governor said the Assembly shall not discuss any matter which does not concern the state. “So you are violating the rules and laws which you had yourself have framed,” he said.

Khan also targeted CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, who has called for a discussion on the abolition of the office of the Governor. “It proves only one point. He (Yechury) is not able to find fault with me. He is asking for the abolition of the Governor’s office so there is nobody to see that rules are followed and Constitution is followed. They are entitled to have their views. But, that authority only people of India can give,’’ he said.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/no-explanation-can-satisfy-caa-suit-kerala-governor-after-meeting-with-chief-secy-6226930/

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J&K DGP echoes Rawat: ‘De-radicalisation centres in Kashmir will be a good move’

January 20, 2020

Jammu and Kashmir DGP Dilbag Singh Monday said terror organisation Hizbul Mujahideen was on the verge of being wiped out from the south Kashmir region. He added that if de-radicalisation camps do come up in Kashmir, it will be a “good sign”, as it will help people who have “gone astray”.

On Thursday, Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat had said that “girls and boys as young as 10 and 12 are now being radicalised” in Kashmir, and that those who are “completely radicalised” need to be “taken out separately” and put in de-radicalisation camps”.

Responding to a question on this, Dilbag Singh said, “If any such facility comes up in Kashmir that will be a good sign, it should happen. It’ll definitely help people, especially those who have gone astray”.

“If some sensible kind of arrangement is made where good people from the civil society and experts who deal with the subject and relevant aspects of religion and other things… I think that will be a good development. That kind of thing should be welcomed,” Singh added.

Addressing the media about an encounter that took place in Shopian earlier in the day, Singh said Hizbul Mujahideen was on the verge of being wiped out from south Kashmir.

“Today in Shopian, we neutralised three terrorists. One of them, their commander Wasim Ahmed Wani, was active since 2017 and was on a top position in Hizbul Mujahideen. He had 19 FIRs against him and was also involved in the killing of four civilians and four cops,” he said.

“Hizbul Mujahideen is on the verge of being completely wiped out in South Kashmir,” Singh added.

Refusing to comment on J&K Deputy Superintendent Davinder Singh, the DGP said the case has been transferred to NIA and is being investigated in the right direction.

“That case (of J&K DSP Davinder Singh) has been transferred to NIA, it will not be right for me to make a comment on it. Some findings have come out, they are before NIA. His custody is being given to the investigating agency. It is being investigated in the right direction,” Singh said.

On Monday, three Hizbul Mujahideen militants, including a police deserter, were killed in an encounter with security forces in the Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/de-radicalisation-centres-hizbul-mujahideen-south-kashmir-shopian-encounter-dilbag-singh-jammu-and-kashmir-police-6226403/

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Karnataka BJP leader Renukacharya targets Muslims, says will put them in their place

January 21, 2020

Karnataka Chief Minister's political adviser MP Renukacharya has courted controversy yet again with his remarks targeting the Muslim community at a pro-CAA rally in Karnataka on Monday.

Addressing a rally in support of the new citizenship law, the BJP lawmaker accused Muslims of collecting weapons in mosques instead of praying. "There are few traitors who sit in a masjid and write fatwas. They collect weapons inside the mosque instead of praying. Is this why you want a Masjid," Renukacharya said on Monday.

Renukacharya said he won't hesitate to use the money allotted to Muslims for Hindus. "I will resort to such politics in my taluk where the money allotted for Muslims can be used for Hindus. I will put you [Muslims] in your place and show what politics is," said Renukacharya, who is a close aide of CM BS Yediyurappa.

This is not the first time a Karnataka BJP leader has made communal remarks targeting the minority community. Earlier, BJP MLA Somashekar Reddy had made controversial remarks at a pro-citizenship law protest in Ballari when he asked those opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act to think of the "consequences" if the majority community members hit the streets against them.

The MLA had said, "If you do any drama, then if 100 per cent people come, understand what will be your situation. Congress people are lying to you, believing them you are coming on streets. We are 80 per cent, you are 17 per cent, if we react, what will be your situation? Be careful," Reddy had said.

Full report at:

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/karnataka-bjp-leader-renukacharya-targets-muslims-caa-rally-remarks-1638686-2020-01-21

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Pakistan

 

Wells praises Pakistan’s efforts against illegal US immigrants

January 21, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Chief US diplomat for South Asian Affairs Alice Wells on Monday said that the issue of illegal Pakistani immigrants in the United States had seen significant progress.

“We appreciate the Pakistan government’s cooperation on the matter,” Wells said during a meeting with Interior Minister Brig (r) Ijaz Ahmad Shah, adding that her government intends to devise a foolproof system to deal with this issue in the future.

Elaborating on such a system, Brig Shah told her that a stronger system to verify travel documents, as well as one for monitoring international non-governmental organisations (INGOs), has already been created by the Pakistani government.

“The organisations that we have reservations about are given a chance to present their perspective,” he added.

The two sides also discussed Pakistan’s progress on matters raised by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). “It is heartening to see that Pakistan’s government has made significant progress on these matters and that too in a short time,” Wells said.

Wells arrived in Pakistan on January 19 for a three-day visit. The visit will be a part of her 10-day visit to the region during which she will travel to Sri Lanka, India, and Pakistan, from January 13-22.

“The US envoy will discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues, including shared interests in a free and open Indo-Pacific region that fosters prosperity, democracy, justice, and human rights,” according to a statement issued on Friday by the US State Department.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/01/20/wells-praises-pakistans-efforts-against-illegal-us-immigrants/

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Qureshi reiterates Pakistan’s commitment to peace in the region

January 21, 2020

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has reiterated Islamabad’s commitment to promoting peace and stability in the region as he continues his week-long multi-country trip in the wake of the increasing tensions between the United States and Iran.

The foreign minister said that he has visited Iran, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Oman, the US and Qatar on the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan and had “constructive engagement” with stakeholders on “efforts to defuse tensions and promote peace in the Middle East”.

“I took Pakistan’s message to all: we stand for peace and stability in the region,” he added.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi

@SMQureshiPTI

Also met UNSG @antonioguterres in NY where I underscored the critical importance of the International community’s continued attention to the suffering of Kashmiris under Indian occupation and for this to be resolved in line with UN resolutions and the will of the Kashmiri people. https://twitter.com/SMQureshiPTI/status/1218920547222020101 …

Shah Mahmood Qureshi

@SMQureshiPTI

Visited Iran, Saudi Arabia, Oman, U.S. & Qatar on Prime Minister @ImranKhanPTI's directive. Had constructive engagement with counterparts on efforts to defuse tensions & promote peace in ME. Pakistan’s message I took to all;  We stand for peace and stability in the region.

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On the sidelines of the visit, the foreign minister also held meetings with the top tier of the United Nations and briefed members of the UN Security Council on human rights violations in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K) following the Narendra Modi-led government’s decision to revoke the occupied region’s special status and imposing a draconian lockdown.

Qureshi further said he met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York and underscored the “critical importance of the international community’s continued attention to the sufferings of Kashmiris under Indian occupation.

He also urged for the Kashmir conflict to be resolved in line with the UN resolutions and the will of the Kashmiri people.

On the last leg of his multi-state tour, Qureshi discussed Iran and Afghanistan’s peace process US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – five days after seeing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

While stopping short of saying that he was transmitting any message, Qureshi said he understood that the Iranians “did not want to escalate things.”

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/01/20/qureshi-reiterates-pakistans-commitment-to-peace-in-the-region/

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PML-N hints at considering PM Imran’s dialogue offer

Jan 20 2020

Murtaza Ali Shah

High-ranking sources in the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Monday said that the party has not received any offer for a dialogue from Prime Minister Imran Khan.

According to leaders of the opposition party, the party will make a decision about holding talks with the government, should an offer arrive, after holding consultations with other parties.

Special Assistant to PM on Political Affairs Naeem-ul-Haque had on Sunday extended an olive branch to the opposition, saying that the premier was ready to talk to the opposition parties.

Speaking to Geo News on the program Naya Pakistan with Shahzad Iqbal, Haque had claimed that the government would not back from out from talks with the opposition.

Responding to the advisor, senior PML-N sources said that they have not received a dialogue offer from the government, adding that the PML-N will discuss the matter with all opposition parties.

“Khan has ruined Pakistan’s economy and institution in just 17 months because of his arrogance. It is time for him to come to senses and stop playing with the lives of Pakistani people," sources within the PML-N said.

Over the past few months, opposition parties have accused the government of using an anti-graft drive to settle political scores. The government, on the other hand, has accused opposition politicians of looting wealth and stashing it abroad.

It is pertinent to mention that the government is also facing problems from coalition partners in the parliament who are unhappy over unfulfillment of promises made with them.

Full report at:

https://www.geo.tv/latest/268255-pml-n-not-aware-of-dialogue-offer-from-pm-imran-sources

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Conference asks govt to withdraw amends to CPC, CNSA Act

January 21, 2020

MANSEHRA: All Parties’ Conference, through a unanimous resolution, has demanded the government to reverse the amendments, recently incorporated in the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) and Control of Narcotics Substances Act (CNSA).

“The lawyer fraternity has been on strike for the last two weeks and litigants are suffering because of it but the government is still reluctant to roll-back the amendments recently incorporated in the CPC and Control of Narcotics Substance Act,” Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council member Shahjehan Khan Swati told the conference held here on Monday.

The district bar association had convened the conference to sensitise political and religious parties’ office-bearers about the current amendments, which it called a hurdle to the speedy dispensation of justice.

Shujah Salim Khan, the Pakistan Peoples Party’s central executive council member, said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government had failed to govern the country as inflation had reached alarming proportions and wheat flour shortage was being reported in the markets.

“This government has put litigants in trouble and case pendency would further increase if the amendments were exercised in the province,” former district nazim and Pakistan Muslim League-N representative Sardar Said Ghulam told the conference.

Amir Khan Swati, president of the District Bar Association, said litigants who could challenge subordinate courts’ ruling and verdicts within its domain, now could move high court for the same proceedings which would not only put an extra financial burden on them but also cause a delay in dispensation of justice.

Fahad Habib, the district bar association general secretary, said the lawyer community was committed to getting repealed those amendments from the Civil Procedure Code and Control of Narcotics Substances Act and the government should realise the sensitivity of the situation.

Full report at:

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/601985-conference-asks-govt-to-withdraw-amends-to-cpc-cnsa-act

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Pakistan’s economy: IMF projects low GDP growth, high inflation, unemployment

January 21, 2020

WASHINGTON: Improving US-China trade tensions have eased uncertainty and the world economy may have hit bottom but a sharp slowdown in India is creating a drag worldwide, the International Monetary Fund said on Monday.

However, while the risks to the global economy have lessened, the Washington-based global lending institution cautioned that outcomes "depend to an important extent on avoiding further escalation" between Washington and Beijing.

In the latest update to its World Economic Outlook, the IMF cut the global growth estimate for 2020 by one tenth compared to the prior report released in October, dropping it to 3.3 percent.

It also lowered the 2021 forecast by a bit more to 3.4 percent. The sharp drop for India "accounts for the lion’s share of the downward revisions," the IMF said. The new IMF Economic Outlook projects Pakistan GDP in 2020 at 2.4 percent.

The report said that in2018 the GDP growth of Pakistan was 5.5, in 2019 it was 3.3 in 2020 it will be 2.4. The consumer prices index (inflation) in 2018 was 3.9, in 2019 7.3, in 2020 it will be 13.

Current account deficit in 2018 was -6.3, in 2019 4.6, in 2020 it will be 2.6.

Unemployment in Pakistan in 2018 was 6.1, in 2019 6.1 while in 2020 it will be 6.2.

In India the GDP growth in 2018, 2019 was 6.8, 6.1 respectively while in 2020 it will be 7.0. Inflation in India in 2018 and 19 was same i.e.3.4, while in 2020 it will be 4.1.

In Bangladesh GDP growth in 2018 was 7.9, in 2019 7.8, while in 2020 it will be 7.4. Inflation remains almost constant in the regional Muslim country at 5.6, 5.5, 5.5 in 2018, 19 and 20 respectively. The current account deficit in Bangladesh was –2.7 in 2018 –2.0 in 2019 while projected to be at –2.1 in 2020. However, the IMF report sees light at the end of the tunnel about Pakistan economy as it projects GDP growth at 5, inflation at 5, current account deficit at -1.8 in 2024.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/601866-pakistan-s-economy-imf-projects-low-gdp-growth-high-inflation-unemployment

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Fazl calls meeting of opposition parties to devise next strategy  

Jan 20, 2020

ISLAMABAD:  Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has convened a meeting of the opposition parties today (Monday) to devise next anti-government strategy, ARY News reported.

Sources said that the opposition parties will discuss various proposals to stage their protest. The current political situation in the country and other issues will also be discussed in the meeting.

Two major parties of the opposition, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party have decided not to attend the sitting, said the sources.

However, Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party’s Mahmood Khan Achakzai, National Party’s Hasil Bizenjo, Aftab Ahmad Sherpao, Late Shah Ahmed Noorani’s son Awais Noorani, Allama Sajid Mir and others will participate in the meeting.

Read More:Maulana Fazlur Rehman ready for another round of protests: sources

Earlier on January 13, leader of Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam Fazl (JUI-F), Maulana Fazlur Rehman was reportedly gearing up for round two of protests against the incumbent government, sources privy to the development had claimed.

It was being said that Maulana Fazlur Rehman was rallying his troops for another go at a protest campaign against the current government.

Full report at:

https://arynews.tv/en/fazl-calls-meeting-opposition-parties/

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US hails progress made to meet FATF requirements

January 21, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Senior US diplomat Alice Wells on Monday praised the progress made by Pakistan towards improving its counter-terror financing and anti-money laundering regimes as part of efforts to meet requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global illicit financing watchdog.

“It is heartening to see that Pakistan government has made significant progress on these matters and that too in a short time,” Ambassador Wells said during a meeting with Interior Minister retired Brig Ijaz Ahmed Shah, according to readout of the meeting issued by the interior ministry.

During the meeting, she was briefed about the steps taken by the Pakistan government to overcome shortcomings in its financial system for getting out of FATF’s grey list.

The senior US diplomat arrived in Islamabad on Sunday on a four-day visit after visiting India and Sri Lanka. Her visit’s agenda revolves around bilateral Pak-US cooperation.

On a four-day visit to Pakistan, Wells holds talks with interior minister

The visit is taking place in the backdrop of reported progress in Taliban-US talks being facilitated by Islamabad. The likely positive outcome of the talks could improve the complexion of the Pak-US relationship as well.

Pakistan was put on the FATF’s grey list in June 2018 for 15 months. However, due to inadequate progress Pakistan’s stay on the list was extended by four months at the last review held in Oct 2019. Islamabad’s progress would now be re-assessed at the watchdog’s upcoming meeting in Paris on Feb 16.

One of the key areas in which Pakistan was found to be lagging at the last evaluation was the poor conviction rate in terror-financing cases. It is, however, generally believed that eventual fate of Pakistan’s case at FATF would depend more on geo-political environment than the actual progress on the ground by the Pakistani government.

Speaking at a private reception, Amb Wells denied this perception, saying there was no such quid pro quo and that Pakistan’s case would be decided on merit.

She avoided commenting on reports about the likely progress in talks with the Taliban and said that she was following the situation.

Interior Minister Shah informed the US diplomat that the mechanism for the registration of international NGOs has been streamlined. “Organisations fulfilling the criteria would not face any problem in their operations,” he assured, adding that those against whom there were reservations would be given an opportunity to address concerns.

The government initiated fresh registration of INGOs in 2015 after the announcement of the registration policy. Under the new registration policy the scope of activities of INGOs was restricted because of which some of the organisations, particularly those working on issues like democracy, governance, rule of law and security, had to close down. The policy was criticised by donor countries as restrictive and non-transparent.

However, the government had been insisting that the scope of activities for the international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) had been redefined in accordance with national requirements.

With regard to illegal Pakistani immigrants in the United States, Mr Shah said that the problem had been resolved to a great extent.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1529544/us-hails-progress-made-to-meet-fatf-requirements

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Prime Minister Imran to speak at World Economic Forum

January 20, 2020

Prime Minister Imran Khan is set to attend the upcoming session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, the Foreign Office announced on Monday.

Founder and Executive Chairman of WEF Professor Klaus Schwab invited Prime Minister Imran to attend the forum, to be held from January 21 to 23, according to a press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The prime minister will deliver a WEF special session and also interact with corporate leaders at the Pakistan Strategy Dialogue.

On the sidelines, Prime Minister Imran will hold bilateral meetings with several world leaders, the most significant of which will be the meeting with US President Donald Trump.

The prime minister will also speak to international media during a session with the forum’s International Media Council.

According to the press release, Prime Minister Imran will share Pakistan’s vision and achievements in the areas of economy, peace & stability, trade, business and investment opportunities during his visit to Davos.

He will also "highlight the current situation in the India-held Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan’s perspective on key regional and international issues".

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1529503/prime-minister-imran-to-speak-at-world-economic-forum

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Govt can independently challenge Nawaz stay abroad: LHC

January 21, 2020

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Monday advised the federal government to independently challenge stay of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in London if it did not trust his medical reports.

A two-judge bench comprising Justice Tariq Abbasi and Justice Ch Mushtaq Ahmad was hearing a petition by Mr Sharif he had filed last year for bail on medical grounds in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case and removal of his name from the exit control list (ECL).

At the outset of the hearing, advocate Amjad Pervez read order of a predecessor bench that had on Nov 19 last allowed Mr Sharif to travel abroad for an extendable period of four weeks.

He said the two periodical medical reports of Mr Sharif duly attested by the Pakistan High Commission in London had been filed with the court’s registrar office as directed by the bench in its bail granting order.

Justice Abbasi asked the counsel as to when his client will return or he wanted to contest legal fight from abroad. “There are some others as well wanting to go abroad,” the judge observed in an obvious reference to pending petition by PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz seeking one-time permission to go to London to see her ailing father.

The counsel said the doctors treating Mr Sharif in London had not so far allowed him to travel.

“He will return once doctors declare him fit to travel,” he maintained.

Additional Attorney General Ishtiaq A. Khan argued that the permission granted to Mr Sharif by the bench was for four weeks only and he or his guarantor (Shahbaz Sharif) were supposed to approach the court again for extension in the stay.

The bench observed that the government could have approached the court itself if it deemed the extended stay of the petitioner was illegal. It also suggested the law officer to adopt legal course if the government doubted the medical reports of the petitioner.

Advocate Azam Nazir Tarar, another counsel of Mr Sharif, explained to the bench that the petitioner was allowed bail and permission to travel abroad initially for four weeks. He said the bench directed the petitioner to approach the provincial government to seek extension in stay on the basis of medical reports.

He pointed out that the bench had framed several questions to be decided and fixed hearing of the petition for third week of January. If the order was for four weeks only, the bench should have fixed the case for Dec 16, he added.

Additional AG Khan said Mr Sharif appeared to be in good health now since he had been witnessed enjoying meal in restaurants of London.

Advocate Tarar quickly responded to the law officer saying whether the government wanted Mr Sharif to observe fasting.

Justice Abbasi advised both sides against using political statements in the court and to stick to legal points.

The judge directed the petitioner’s counsel to furnish the medical reports to the law officer so that he could file comments on behalf of the federal government. The bench adjourned hearing for a date to be fixed by the office later.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1529553/govt-can-independently-challenge-nawaz-stay-abroad-lhc

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Rights lawyer Jalila Haider detained at Lahore airport for over six hours

January 21, 2020

LAHORE: Political activist and attorney Jalila Haider was released on Monday after being detained for over six hours by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officials at the Lahore airport.

Aima Khosa

@aimaMK

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FIA officials said that Haider, who was due to fly to the United Kingdom to attend a workshop at the University of Sussex, was detained at the airport as her name was placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) last November. No reason has been stated for putting her name on the no-fly list.

According to Haider, she was kept in “informal custody” at the airport. “When I reached the immigration counter, I was told that my name is on the ECL,” she said.

“The FIA officials opened a website and told me that I am accused of being involved in anti-state activities,” she added.

Haider asserted that although the officials informed that her name was added to the ECL in November, yet she was never notified. “My flight was scheduled to take off at 6:40 AM and I was detained at the airport from 4 AM to 10 AM,” she said.

However, after she was released, Haider said that officials denied her being on the no-fly list and told her that she could take another flight.

“According to them, it was a technical glitch,” she said. Subsequently, she was allowed to leave the airport

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/01/20/rights-lawyer-jalila-haider-released-after-brief-detention-at-lahore-airport/

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Southeast Asia

 

Heavy hand of religion disrupting studies at govt schools, say helpless parents

Nur Hasliza Mohd Salleh

January 21, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: Parents and family members of children enrolled in reputable government residential schools are questioning what they view as an over-emphasis on religious practices that disrupt the pupils’ studies.

Many find that the practice of religious rituals and activities has reached a point that academic performance is affected.

These activities take up too much of the students’ time and energy, causing them to be tired and lethargic at regular classes and revision periods, they told FMT.

“As far as I’m concerned, we did not send our kids to a tahfiz or pondok school,” said Amir, father of a student who took the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination last year at a branch of the Mara Junior Science College, or MRSM in Johor.

Parents of other children in the same school told FMT that the situation is worse for those who will be sitting major public exams in Form 3 and Form 5.

They said students were frequently asked to attend compulsory sessions to perform congregational prayers, including non-obligatory rituals such as the solat tahajud, solat hajat and tazkirah, special prayers performed by Muslims in times of adversity.

For most of these prayer sessions, students are required to get up as early as 3am.

Complaints to the headmaster have been futile: the parents were told that the rituals were to get “blessings” and to ensure students obtained excellent results in the exams, thus elevating the status and the name of the school, Amir told FMT.

“But the school’s status won’t go up; they are competing on which school is more Islamic instead of being better academically,” he added.

Similar complaints of religious overtones and symbols in non-residential government schools have also arisen, in the midst of a continuing public debate over Malaysia’s polarised education system.

Many analysts and experts have expressed fears that national schools have ceased to be multiracial. There have also been calls for the government to work towards a single-stream school on grounds of fostering national unity.

Amir, 43, is also a product of MRSM. He said he was happy when his child received an offer to enrol at his old school, as he was convinced of its focus on high quality education.

An obsession with the supernatural

Another parent spoke of her daughter’s bizarre experience of her school’s obsession with the supernatural.

She told FMT that her daughter was told to attend a “ruqyah” session, in which Quranic verses are used to treat a sick person, as well as to cure from the possession of “bad jinns”.

Her offence was missing the Talaqqi, or Quranic pronunciation classes, because she had to attend extra classes in Biology.

“My daughter was accused of being too lazy to study (the Quran) and of having disturbances from jinns. So they told her to come for the ruqyah session. It’s simply unbelievable,” said the parent who wanted to remain anonymous.

She said the teacher had insisted that her daughter attend the Quranic recitation classes, even after being told that the biology teacher had requested that she be excused.

“In the end, my daughter dropped the Biology subject when sitting for SPM last year,” she said.

Amir is also aware of the Quranic recitation class, saying it is subject to an additional school fee of RM200.

FMT has learnt from other parents that Talaqqi classes after school were made mandatory for students from Form 1 to Form 4.

“If they don’t go, they’ll get punished. If they fail the exam, they have to retake the exam,” he said, adding that students who skip class or fail their exams will be asked to memorise verses of the Quran.

Haiqal was surprised when his niece told him of “illogical rules” at her school, such as a requirement that female students wear long pants under their long skirts, as well as gloves and long-sleeved T-shirts during sports and games.

Haiqal said he was told by school authorities that the requirement was to avert male gazes on female students.

“We didn’t have rules like these last time when we were in school, but we were still able to take care of ourselves and dress well to school,” said Haiqal, whose niece is enrolled in an MRSM school in Perak.

Amir also questioned the version of Islam being taught in the school.

He said students were taught to question many traditional Malay-Muslim practices as being bid’ah, or innovations in religion.

“When they go home to their families, they would even accuse family members of committing bid’ah through their religious practices,” he said. “Is this what the school administrators call ‘blessing’?”

FMT is awaiting a response from the schools involved and the education ministry.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2020/01/21/heavy-hand-of-religion-disrupting-studies-at-govt-schools-say-helpless-parents/

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UTM denies spreading salafi propaganda, denounces article claiming links as false

19 Jan 2020

BY SOO WERN JUN

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 19 — Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) today denied that its campus grounds is being used to spread radical Islamic propaganda or that its top officials are linked to Muslim group Ikram as alleged in a regional news publication.

The public university decried the article titled “Islamic Assault on Malaysia’s Higher Education” published by Asia Sentinel on January 15 as false, defamatory and unethical.

“The university would like to stress that the UTM management has never made the university as a platform to spread propaganda and negative indoctrination,” it said in a media statement.

UTM also denied the article’s claims that its current vice-chancellor (VC) and deputy vice-chancellor (DVC) were appointed by former education minister Maszlee Malik based their membership in Ikram.

The university’s corporate affairs department clarified that the present VC was appointed in 2013 by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who was the education minister then, adding that the incumbent’s contract was later extended by first Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh in 2016, and it again by Maszlee in 2018.

“All the appointments and reappointments of UTM’s DVC were made while Idris was the minister of higher education,” the statement read.

UTM stressed that its academic staff were all qualified experts in their respective fields of study and the administration, and their support staff come from diverse ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds contrary to the article’s claims.

In the article, Asia Sentinel cited an unnamed former VC claiming Maszlee had appointed at least 26 university officials with salafist leanings from Ikram who were aligned to him and Perlis Mufti Datuk Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin.

Maszlee has not deny links with Ikram, but dismissed claims he was carrying out the group’s agenda.

The former education minister also insisted that he is committed to diversity amid allegations of proselytisation.

The salafi movement is seen as a revivalist crusade within Sunni Islam that emerged in Egypt in the late 19th century as a response to Western European imperialism.

The Asis Sentinel article also claimed that more such appointments would have been made if Maszlee remained education minister.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) had earlier denied that three of its top leaders were appointed by Maszlee for being members of Ikram.

In a statement last Friday, UKM clarified that two of them were initially appointed under the previous Barisan Nasional administration, naming Prof Datuk Mohd Hamdi Abd Shukor who was previously University of Malaya’s DVC for academic and international affairs from 2011 to 2014.

UKM denied the same accusation in the appointments of DVC for industry and community partnership Prof Datuk Imran Ho Abdullah and the former DVC for research and innovation affairs Prof Datuk Mohd Ekhwan.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/01/19/utm-denies-spreading-salafi-propaganda-denounces-article-claiming-links-as/1829461

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Malaysia’s Islamic schools need help

Sheith Khidhir

20 January 2020

Last week, Malaysian media reported that the country’s finance minister, Lim Guan Eng had handed over an allocation of RM100 million (US$24,646,124) to the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Mujahid Yusof Rawa for the purpose of upgrading and maintaining registered Islamic schools.

The allocation is divided into RM50 million (US$12,323,062) for religious Muslim schools (tahfiz schools), RM25 million (US$6,161,801) for public and private Islamic schools and RM25 million (US$6,161,801) for registered hut schools (sekolah pondok). Hut schools don't charge a fee and are run by volunteer teachers.

“The RM100 million (US$24,646,124) allocation reflects the Federal Government’s ongoing commitment to ensure that students enjoy a safe learning and comfortable environment in tahfiz schools, public and private religious schools and pondok schools,” Lim said in a statement.

The keyword in Lim’s statement is, of course, “safe” learning.

Malaysia’s Islamic schools are infamous for their lack of safety, especially when speaking of tahfiz schools and sekolah pondok. There have been numerous incidents of accidental fires and other mishaps which have resulted in the tragic loss of life.

The most recent of these cases is the infamous Tahfiz Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah fire. The fire that broke out at the tahfiz school at Datuk Keramat, Kuala Lumpur in September, 2017 resulted in the deaths of 21 students and two teachers. Sadly, this is just one of many cases.

The fact of the matter is that it isn’t just fires which have been plaguing these schools. There are also issues such as the case of 11-year-old tahfiz student, Mohamad Thaqif Amin Mohd Gaddafi, who died after alleged abuse at the hands of his school’s assistant warden in Kota Tinggi, a town in the southern state of Johor in Malaysia. The death was reported in April, 2017.

More recently, in September 2019, a tahfiz school in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak - a state in East Malaysia - received heavy criticism on social media regarding a purported parental consent form listing “absurd” forms of punishment for pupils enrolled there. The consent form asked parents to agree to the tahfiz school taking disciplinary action which included 60 strokes of the cane, shaving students’ heads bald, pouring excrement over the students, and standing under the searing midday sun after Zohor (12.42 pm) till Asar (3.56 pm). Zohor and Asar are two out of Islam’s five obligatory daily prayer times.

The form also allegedly noted that those who refused to continue their religious studies would not be given school leaving certificates. Parents were also required to send their children to the school even if they (the children) refused to continue with their religious studies.

In hopes of addressing these types of issues, several non-government organisations (NGOs), civil societies, and human rights advocates have called for Islamic religious schools to be brought under the purview of the country’s education ministry and that it be made compulsory for these schools to be registered under them.

In June 2017, Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) head, Noor Azimah Rahim was quoted by local media in Malaysia as saying that ideally, anything related to education should be placed under the education ministry.

“The ministry must be able to play some kind of supervisory role and monitor the types of education available in the country. I’m not saying the ministry should impose anything in terms of the schools’ curriculum or even teaching, but it must play a ‘big brother’ role, such as the central bank’s supervision of banks,” she said.

Islamic religious schools are an important symbol of Islamic presence in Malaysia and their prosperity, in turn, represents the prosperity of the religion. The safety of these schools should be made a priority and many observers believe that these schools should be placed under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education. Sadly, this has yet to take place.

Full report at:

https://theaseanpost.com/article/malaysias-islamic-schools-need-help

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‘From High Hopes To Shattered Dreams: The Second MahathiristRevolution A Year After’

By Murray Hunter

January 20, 2020 

Dr. Azly Rahman, born in Singapore and brought up in Johor Baharu has seen Malaysia since early post-independence days to the present. Azly has also experienced the Malaysian education system both as a student and lecturer. He can relate those experiences to the time he has spent as both a learner and educator with a number of other education systems around the world. Being a thinker and writer over a number of years on Malaysian society, education, and politics, Azly is in a unique position to reflect upon Malaysia today, once again clearly under the influence of Mahathirism, and once again within an education tragedy unfolding. This is not my opinion alone, Academic and intellectual activist Dr Sharifah Munirah Alatas recently mentioned Azly in one of her Free Malaysia Today columns as a Malaysian academic who should be listened to much more.

Azly has put together a series of focused musings guided by an ingrained moral and philosophical conscience about what is now sadly happening in contemporary education, society and politics within Malaysia. A national mental derangement as Azly puts it, is suppressing the country’s ability to

move forward and take its place in the world. Malaysia’s ingrained racism, religious narrowmindedness, neo-feudalism and institutionalized-cronyism is inhibiting the country’s ability to place itself on the global arena where it matters today. Throughout the book he has woven international issues with what is happening inside Malaysia, making this collection of vital importance to every Malaysian concerned with the fate of the nation. The Pakatan Harapan’s actions on human rights, education, justice, equity and inactions on diverse issues like institutionalized apartheid and global warming are preventing the nation to grow in a balanced and sustainable way with the virtues of truth, justice, equality and equal opportunity that were promised before GE14.

We can sense these disappointments in the passion of Azly’s writing. The great betrayal is that Pakatan Rakyat sought office on the narratives of reform and spun hope with the Rakyat for change, only to revert to the old racist and Salafi-Wahabi tendencies that preserved BN rule for the last generation. This is why Azly’s work is titled ‘high hopes, shattered dreams’, as the central focus of this analysis is grand betrayal.

The continuation of the quota system for Matriculation and the failure to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) were some of the first indications of the emergence of Ketuanan Melayu 2.0, an ideology that will continue to ensure blindness to envisioning a multicultural Malaysia.

Azly begins his collection of essays with a stark warning that Malaysia is not immune from urban terror attacks due to the rampant freedom extremist preachers are given to roam freely to extol their poison to the community. He then presents 43 essays.

Part one entitled the Dilemma of Critical Consciousness, focuses on contemporary issues that are skewing Malaysia away from being a sustainable state where the Rakyat is supposed to evolve into critical, creative, ethical and futuristic citizens. I will touch on just some of his messages that I found profoundly important. Azly’s commences part one with an allusion to Plato’s cave, the metaphor of the psychic prison. Through this lens, Azly argues that Malay feudalism is a social construct borne out of historical accident. This has been turned into a source of power by the elite to control the Rakyat. Race, religion and class continues to be used by today’s leaders to divide and conquer, just as the British once did in colonial times. This is the nature of neo-colonialism in post-colonial Malaya, if one sees the development of ideology from the perspective of a continuation of the logic of late colonialism in an Asian despotic state.

In his essay Musings on a nation gone mad, Azly challenges Malays to question authority, albeit intellectually. Royal myth and repressive twists to Islam perpetuated by the power elite is suppressing clear perceptions of the reality of truly free Malaysia. This is going to be a battle of perception and cognition to create a metamorphosis that may truly free the Malay psych. Revolutions and the institutionalization of meaningful change, he believes can only be effective if there is a sustainable transformation of the consciousness. This hypocrisy of using religion as controlling ideology is what Azly points out; a country ruled by Muslim monarchs that one would not find in true Islam and Ketuanan Melayu as a license to rape and plunder Nature and to subjugate the mind of the powerless.

Islam, feudalism and a narrow view of the world has caused the Rakyat to live under a veil of authoritarianism. Malays have been misrepresented as buffoons, Ali Babas, gangsters and chronically dependent on hand-outs by the ruling class to keep them subservient. The leaders show Malay chauvinism while the Malay youth is caught up with drugs and girls become single mothers.

Azly is calling for this moment in history time to restore Malay dignity. Hegemony is the hidden enemy that needs to be unmasked, psychologically. In Long live the Rome statute! Long live idiocy? Azly shows his disappointment along with the Rakyat who put Pakatan in power. Everyone

has been sold out. His frustration on the failure of Malaysians to see the importance of the internationally-agreed-upon statute could be read in his tone. Why are there still many of the leaders ignorant of the universal values and proposal for implementation? That was Azly’s anguish on the intellectual poverty of those who failed to understand a simple logic of human rights.

Reformasi cannot happen within a bumi agenda and the hopes of a truly Malaysian agenda are fading. Azly asks where is the difference between the old and the new regime? The ideas and actions of the new regime are exactly the same bankrupt concepts. Azly talks of reform that isn’t on any political platform. That is the reform of the skewed Malaysian institutionalized reality and the recreation of an egalitarian common truth for all. This requires creating a culture of critical consciousness, which can challenge and eventually dissolve all the myths perpetuated by the psychic prisons of intolerance, racism, criminalizing of criticism and an institutionalized version of truth to suit the needs of the elite to cling on to power.

Azly offers a solution. That solution is to restore the truth of a common heritage that the nation is made up of descendants of immigrants, share that memory and move on in diversity. His stand is simple: embrace multiculturalism to the fullest until the essence of humanity and empathy is illuminated. We cannot settle for less in a country that offers the challenges and opportunities of a vibrant concept of nationhood.

The essential question is now how to build a Malaysian Malaysia? A Bangsa Malaysia, which requires a common history and common destiny, drawing from the strength of diversity. Indonesians had a rebirth from the Sukarno era. Malaysians need to do the same. Malaysia needs to move to the next level where people do not think of themselves along strict communal lines: not ethnocentrically as Malays, Indians or Chinese but as Malaysians with a pride in their unique personal history.

Under the Pakatan Harapan there is no pursuit of a Malaysian Malaysia. There seems to be no interest to forge that much-needed version of nationhood. There is no political will. It is still about profiting from divisive politics and to ensure that society is reproduced that way through schooling. And therefore, we still have politicians eyeing for the top post speaking with so much confusion of what it means to be Malaysian. The biggest crisis in Malaysia is the crisis of identity and it’s been partially manufactured. This hegemony comes from the education system.

In Part Two The Construction of Educational Confusion, Azly looks closely at the education system. His arguments in all of the essays point to one proposal: that there is no soul nor holism nor clear framework guiding change expected out of the new regime. There is only rebranding of projects. There is no exciting innovation that collectively would usher the much needed educational system into newer frontiers, breaking new grounds in the design of a new Malaysia in a globalized world in need of a new understanding and implementation of a new citizenry. His fear is the ever-creeping radical Islamism and the expression of Arabism as Malay culture. Azly takes up the sources of one-dimensionality within the education system. Institutionalized discrimination through quotas, showtime paradigms like flying cars that have no substance except syok sendiri, inciteful preachers being allowed to pollute the minds of the country’s youth and using schools as medan dakwah to destroy the pride of Malay culture through Arabism has colonized the Malay mind. Indeed, Arabism has been pushed as a substitute for intellectual and spiritual enlightenment, all at the cost of critical thinking, creativity and moral reasoning. The system needs urgent reform.

Azly talks of returning to the year zero in a new education revolution.

This revolution must topple the straightjacket of the institutionalized apartheid system which clings onto the idea that only Malay-Bumiputeras have special rights. This false sense of superiority is a Malaysian tragedy, holding back both the individual’s potential and the potential of the nation

as a whole.

No longer should the education system be allowed to produce the lowest common denominator good and obedient worker for an industrial system making the elite richer. It should be replaced with one that promotes a critical consciousness, dignity, self-respect and independence.

Azly’s vision of Malayism is not Arabism. His vision is about a renaissance of a recreated contemporary Nusantarian culture where Malays perform sembahyang and not solat.

There are three essays making up Part Three. In the first essay, the Third Force After Mahathirism is perhaps the centerpiece of the whole book. There is an air of respect for Mahathir by Azly who sees under the Machiavellian armor a person who wants the same aspirations for Malaysia as himself.

However, there is a paradox here. Mahathir’s pre-occupation with liberating the mind of Malays from the shackles of neo-colonialist domination have led to a guided kleptocracy ruled by one man. In the innerworkings of Pakatan Harapan, this has been a new Malaysian political dilemma. One man wants to still govern in his own way, creating inner confusion.

Mahathirism is an ideology in itself, a product of the 80s, based upon institutions which are repressive. This political mantra is now bankrupt. Even if it not entirely so, it has mutated in newer forms. Malaysia’s hope for a healthy and transformative democracy is stunted, bonsai-ed by the legacy of one-man authoritarianism. Herein lies the hope for change and the ruptures that are happening in the new coalition. Azly argues that a Trishakti third force is required to restore Malaysia from the malaise it is in. For this a new leader is important, and this new leader has to be found.

Full report at:

https://www.eurasiareview.com/20012020-from-high-hopes-to-shattered-dreams-the-second-mahathirist%E2%80%A8revolution-a-year-after-review/

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Indonesian Nationalism vs. International Law

JANUARY 20, 2020

"Internationalism cannot flower if it is not rooted in the soil of nationalism, and nationalism cannot flower if it does not grow in the garden of the internationalism," so said Indonesia's first president Soekarno in one of his many powerful speeches, underlining the relations between Indonesian nationalism and how it should interact outside the then-budding nation.

Currently though, many Indonesians see the world outside of the unitary republic solely from a staunchly Indonesian point of view, often coupled with an ultra-vehement form of nationalism, if not quite chauvinism. 

The recent standoff with China in the North Natuna Sea, the Flight Information Region (FIR) takeover from Singapore and the sinking of foreign vessels caught fishing illegally in Indonesian waters, were in some ways the results of a rising nationalism that – in defiance of Soekarno's prescription – pays little attention to how international law actually works.

This is when in international legal discourse, there are many different views and opinions on how the relationship between state domestic policies and international law should be negotiated.

Eric Posner from the University of Chicago offers the pragmatic view that states should follow international law only when it serves their national interest. For the most recent example, one only needs to look at Donald Trump's policies.

Luckily, this is not the majority view. Many experts – academics, politicians – still believe in the sanctity of international law and that states would do best to respect it.

Historically speaking, Indonesia has been a firm believer in international law. Since its independence in 1945, the republic has always sought recognition for its political moves in international forums through mechanisms devised by international laws.

Indonesia has even inherited the spirit of international law and anti-colonialism in its 1945 Constitution, which stipulates that since independence is the inalienable right of all nations, colonialism must be abolished everywhere in the world.

Indonesia has also benefited from international law by getting recognition as an archipelagic state. Thanks to the United Nations Conference of the Law of the Sea, Indonesia's territory has more than doubled.

Indonesian internationalists such as Mochtar Kusumaatmadja and Hasjim Djalal have played a big role not only in taking advantage of international law but also in shaping it.

But in the 21st century, growing populism and unilateralism have meant that states are becoming more powerful and state-centered point of view more dominant in international relations.

Multilateralism is taking a backseat, as can be seen in US withdrawals from international treaties and Brexit.

In Indonesia, an ultra-nationalist point of view is also becoming more dominant. In the aforementioned standoff with China, the public demand was for strong-armed actions from the Indonesian government to protect its sovereign rights in the North Natuna Sea, be damned with the facts and consequences.

Many are also against the government's decision to support Palestinian independence and Uighur Muslims, arguing that doing so will not benefit Indonesia's national interests.

These pragmatic views do not align with Indonesia's commitment to promote international peace and can be dangerous.

Indonesia should not forget that taking part in creating a world order based on freedom, perpetual peace and social justice is not only an international obligation but also demanded by our own Constitution.

The Indonesian public should understand that international law and international negotiations are not a zero-sum game, but a quid pro quo interaction.

Full report at:

https://jakartaglobe.id/opinion/indonesian-nationalism-vs-international-law

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North America

 

There’s nothing diplomatic about Twitter war between US and Iran leaders

20 January 2020

Despite calls to de-escalate tensions, US President Donald Trump and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei have been engaging in an undiplomatic spat on Twitter.

As Iran attacked bases hosting US troops in Iraq following the assassination of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, Trump and Khamenei took the fight to social media.

Their Twitter war began when pro-Iranian protesters stormed the US Embassy in Baghdad on New Year’s Eve. In a series of increasingly hostile and threatening exchanges, the leaders have launched insults at each other and threatened military action as tensions on the ground show no sign of easing.

Below, we list 10 of the top tweets from their recent exchanges:

1. Most recently, US President Donald Trump tweeted in Farsi addressing the Iranian people, who he said deserve a better government.

The translation of Trump’s tweet read: “The noble people of Iran, who love America, deserve a government that will help them achieve their dreams, rather than focusing on killing them for revenge. Instead of dragging Iran to ruin, Iran’s leaders must put aside the terrorists and make Iran great again!”

2. This came in response to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s tweet that called the US government “villainous.”

Khamenei.ir

@khamenei_ir

The villainous US govt repeatedly says that they are standing by the Iranian ppl. They lie. If you are standing by the Iranian ppl, it is only to stab them in the heart with your venomous daggers. Of course, you have so far failed to do so, & you will certainly continue to fail.

View image on Twitter

10.4K

5:33 PM - Jan 17, 2020

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7,847 people are talking about this

“The villainous US govt repeatedly says that they are standing by the Iranian ppl. They lie. If you are standing by the Iranian ppl, it is only to stab them in the heart with your venomous daggers. Of course, you have so far failed to do so, & you will certainly continue to fail.”

3. Khamenei’s accusation came in response to another of Trump’s tweets saying that he stood with the Iranian people.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran: I've stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you. We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage.

241K

3:16 AM - Jan 12, 2020

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68.7K people are talking about this

“To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran: I’ve stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you. We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage.”

4. Trump also tweeted on January 18, saying the Supreme Leader had “not been so Supreme lately.”

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

The so-called “Supreme Leader” of Iran, who has not been so Supreme lately, had some nasty things to say about the United States and Europe. Their economy is crashing, and their people are suffering. He should be very careful with his words!

178K

3:52 AM - Jan 18, 2020

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56.8K people are talking about this

“The so-called “Supreme Leader” of Iran, who has not been so Supreme lately, had some nasty things to say about the United States and Europe. Their economy is crashing, and their people are suffering. He should be very careful with his words!”

5. Following the storming of the US Embassy in Baghdad, Trump tweeted that “Iran would be held fully responsible.”

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

The U.S. Embassy in Iraq is, & has been for hours, SAFE! Many of our great Warfighters, together with the most lethal military equipment in the world, was immediately rushed to the site. Thank you to the President & Prime Minister of Iraq for their rapid response upon request....

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2:49 AM - Jan 1, 2020

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36.4K people are talking about this

“The U.S. Embassy in Iraq is, & has been for hours, SAFE! Many of our great Warfighters, together with the most lethal military equipment in the world, was immediately rushed to the site. Thank you to the President & Prime Minister of Iraq for their rapid response upon request....

....Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat. Happy New Year!”

6. In response, Khamenei said “You can’t do anything,” adding that Trump was illogical and suggesting the US was hated.

Khamenei.ir

@khamenei_ir

That guy has tweeted that we see Iran responsible for the events in Baghdad & we will respond to Iran.

1st: You can’t do anything.

2nd: If you were logical —which you’re not— you’d see that your crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan… have made nations hate you. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1212121026072592384 …

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Replying to @realDonaldTrump

....Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat. Happy New Year!

11.6K

2:44 PM - Jan 1, 2020

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9,322 people are talking about this

“That guy has tweeted that we see Iran responsible for the events in Baghdad & we will respond to Iran. 1st: You can’t do anything. 2nd: If you were logical —which you’re not— you’d see that your crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan… have made nations hate you.”

7. Following Soleimani’s death on January 3, Khamenei took to Twitter saying “a #SevereRevenge awaits the criminals who have stained their hands with his…. blood.”

Khamenei.ir

@khamenei_ir

His efforts & path won’t be stopped by his martyrdom, by God’s Power, rather a #SevereRevenge awaits the criminals who have stained their hands with his & the other martyrs’ blood last night. Martyr Soleimani is an Intl figure of Resistance & all such people will seek revenge. /3

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12:44 PM - Jan 3, 2020

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“His efforts & path won’t be stopped by his martyrdom, by God’s Power, rather a #SevereRevenge awaits the criminals who have stained their hands with his & the other martyrs’ blood last night. Martyr Soleimani is an Intl figure of Resistance & all such people will seek revenge. /3”

8. Trump responded by threatening that if Iran were to strike any American or US assets, the US would target 52 Iranian sites.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

• Jan 5, 2020

Replying to @realDonaldTrump

....hundreds of Iranian protesters. He was already attacking our Embassy, and preparing for additional hits in other locations. Iran has been nothing but problems for many years. Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have.....

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

....targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran &  the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!

273K

4:22 AM - Jan 5, 2020

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127K people are talking about this

“Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have....

....targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!”

9. Khamenei hit back using the phrase “American clowns,” echoing language he used in his recent Friday sermon, the first he has delivered since 2012.

Khamenei.ir

@khamenei_ir

With their turnout in the 10s of millions for Martyr #Soleimani's funeral, the Iranian nation showed they support #resistance against the enemy’s aggression.

These American clowns lie in utter viciousness that they stand with the Iranian people. See who the people of #Iran are.

2,924

5:06 PM - Jan 17, 2020

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834 people are talking about this

“With their turnout in the 10s of millions for Martyr #Soleimani’s funeral, the Iranian nation showed they support #resistance against the enemy’s aggression.

These American clowns lie in utter viciousness that they stand with the Iranian people. See who the people of #Iran are.”

10. Before the killing of Soleimani, Khamenei wrote that US officials were disappointed that Iran was not “done” and their plans had not worked out.

Khamenei.ir

@khamenei_ir

A senior official of the country said a foreign politician said during the recent riots he had heard the stupid U.S. officials in Washington say happily, “Iran is done this time!”

He said when the events had finished, the Americans were very upset that it hadn’t worked again.

2,589

4:45 PM - Jan 1, 2020

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757 people are talking about this

“A senior official of the country said a foreign politician said during the recent riots he had heard the stupid U.S. officials in Washington say happily, “Iran is done this time!”

He said when the events had finished, the Americans were very upset that it hadn’t worked again.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2020/01/20/There-s-nothing-diplomatic-about-Twitter-war-between-US-and-Iran-leaders.html

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Trump regime shifting Daesh terrorists from Syria to Iraq

20 January 2020

By Stephen Lendman

Last December, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said “(t)he Americans…are feeding Daesh, encourag(ing) them, protect(ing) Daesh leaders and help(ing) them move from one area to another.”

At the same time, an unnamed Iraqi official accused the Pentagon of supplying Daesh terrorists in the country with weapons and military equipment.

“The American forces send aid from their bases to the Daesh terrorists in the Makhoul mountains, and their assistance still continues,” the official stressed, adding: 

"Iraqi forces seized US weapons during an operation against terrorists in al-Hazar island. US military bases in Iraq are used against the host country and Syria."

Russia’s Foreign Ministry earlier accused the US of supporting Daesh, saying “unidentified helicopters (supply weapons and military equipment) to Daesh terrorists” in areas where the US deploys them.

Russia’s Defense Ministry earlier released satellite images, showing US troops moving freely in Daesh-controlled Syrian territory, adding:

US and so-called anti-government SDF forces “feel absolutely safe” in Daesh-controlled areas.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman General Igor Konashenkov accused SDF fighters of colluding with Daesh, saying they “work (for) the same objectives,” adding:

“Russian drones and intelligence have not recorded any confrontations between” between them. They’re allies, not enemies.

Russia’s Defense Ministry also said intelligence revealed that US forces support al-Nusra terrorists.

Sergey Lavrov earlier called the US-led coalition’s refusal to combat al-Nusra “absolutely unacceptable.”

According to the Arabic-language Ma’aloumeh news website, citing head of the Badr Organization office in al-Anbar province, Iraq, “US forces stationed (in the area) facilitated the trafficking of Daesh terrorists and their transfer to Wadi Houran (Iraq) and the Western desert by reopening a number of roads and heliborne operations.”

Iraqi security expert Kazim al-Haaj said “US Army troops are preparing and training the Daesh militants in al-Qadaf and Wadi al-Houran regions of Al-Anbar province with the aim of carrying out terrorist attacks and restarting insecurity in Iraq.” 

Security expert Karim al-Khikani made similar comments, saying the US is shifting Daesh fighters from Syria to Iraq to incite violence and instability as a pretext for continuing to occupy the country against the will of its officials and people.

According to Bloomberg News, neocon Bush/Cheney Iraq war architect David Wurmser is involved in advising the Trump regime’s Middle East policy, notably on Iran and Iraq.

Reportedly, he urged the assassination of Iranian General Soleimani, Bloomberg quoting him saying:

Aggressive US action will “rattle the delicate internal balance of forces and the control over them upon which (Iran) depends for stability and survival.”

Neocon hardliners run the Trump regime’s foreign policy, endless wars of aggression and economic terrorism their defining features.

With hardliners Pompeo, Wurmser, and their henchmen manipulating Trump, shifting Daesh terrorists to Iraq may be prelude for further US war on the country.

Will Iran be next? Wurmser was quoted saying the US might “have to think seriously about going directly into Iran.”

While it’s highly unlikely, with hardliners running US foreign policy, anything is possible by accident or design.

A final comment

According to the Kuwait-based Arabic-language Al-Qabas broadsheet, 16 US military personnel were seriously injured from retaliatory strikes on US bases in Iraq in response to the Trump regime’s assassination of General Soleimani, citing unnamed informed sources.

Flown for treatment at the US military hospital in Kuwait, the injured personnel suffered severe burns or serious shrapnel wounds, requiring surgery and intensive care.

Others sustaining less serious injuries are being treated in Iraq. Eight US soldiers were flown to Germany for treatment of concussion symptoms.

The Washington Post reported that “several dozen US troops were…treated for concussion” symptoms.

Iranian retaliation caused significant damage to US bases and injuries to its personnel, successfully penetrating Pentagon air defenses, striking targets with pinpoint accuracy, giving Pentagon commanders pause about Iran’s military capabilities.

Stephen Lendman, born in 1934 in Boston, started writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/20/616669/Trump-regime-shifting-Daesh-terrorists-from-Syria-to-Iraq

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Pompeo in Colombia to attend anti-terrorism conference

Laura Gamba 

20.01.2020

BOGOTA, Colombia 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Colombia on Monday to attend the III Regional Conference Against Terrorism held in the capital, Bogota.

After a private meeting with Colombian President Ivan Duque, Secretary Pompeo joined him and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaida in a tribute to the 22 cadets who were killed in an attack carried out by the ELN rebel group on Jan. 17, 2019 in the General Santander Police Academy in Bogota.

“The United States appreciates the generosity of the people of Colombia and their efforts to care for 1,600,000 Venezuelan refugees, in stark contrast to the pain [Venezuela President Nicolas] Maduro has inflicted on his people,” he said in a press conference held prior to the event.

He said that Washington would continue imposing sanctions against members of Maduro’s government and their families “to help Venezuelans restore democracy.”

Colombian Vice President Marta Lucia Ramirez, Minister of Foreign Affairs Claudia Blum de Barberi and Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo also attended the tribute along with representatives of 25 countries who will participate in the conference.

The purpose of the summit is to discuss the relationship between international terrorism and organized crime and offer strategies to prevent and combat the threat more effectively.

One of the central themes of the summit will be the presence of guerrilla and other illegal armed groups such as the FARC dissidents in Venezuelan territory, a topic President Duque has brought up in his statements on several occasions.

During the UN General Assembly, the Colombian head of state claimed these illegal groups receive support, sponsorship, money and weapons from Maduro.

“In the conversation we had this morning we were able to share concerns about the support the tyranny and dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro gives to terrorist groups in his territory,” said Duque, adding he will address this issue at the conference.

On Monday, Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza criticized Pompeo over expected meeting with Guaido.

"Secretary Pompeo finds it hard to understand that, as a puppeteer, his theatrical production was a monumental failure in Venezuela. Rather than accepting it and opting for diplomacy, he now takes his defeated puppet out into the world,” he wrote on Twitter in reference to Guaido's meeting with Pompeo.

It is not clear how Juan Guaido left Venezuela but it is the second time he defies the ban to travel imposed by Venezuela’s Supreme Court.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/pompeo-in-colombia-to-attend-anti-terrorism-conference/1708669

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Africa

 

Khalifa Haftar shows diplomatic skill as Libya conflict sucks in world powers

20 January 2020

No one, it seems, was able to reason with Khalifa Haftar. If the idea was for an impressive cast of big hitters to apply enough pressure to bring the 76-year-old Libyan military commander to heel, it didn’t work.

On the eve of an international summit in Berlin on Sunday, Haftar followed through on months of private warnings and crippled his country’s oil supplies by shutting down half of production.

That was less than a week after he had walked out of talks in Moscow aimed at a durable cease-fire in Libya’s increasingly intractable civil war.

As leaders and diplomats prepared to leave the German capital, they had agreed common ground to work toward peace. Haftar and Libya’s prime minister, Fayez al-Sarraj, must now each name a five-person committee that can meet in Geneva in coming days. But Haftar remains the wildcard, a man who is – for now – proving adept at leveraging his influence as world powers become more entangled in Libya’s conflict.

His recalcitrance is particularly vexing for Russia and Turkey, which are giving military support to opposing sides. Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed Haftar, who controls the east of Libya and is trying to take the capital, Tripoli. Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan props up al-Sarraj’s UN-recognized government.

Rival Powers

Both leaders have exploited the vacuum left by the US retreat from the Middle East to carve up spheres of influence, yet they appear to have come to a mutually convenient understanding: bring the rivals to the table to sign a cease-fire and split the geopolitical and commercial spoils in the holder of Africa’s largest oil reserves. It’s not going to plan, though.

Al-Sarraj has signed; Haftar is resisting. Five days ago, Erdogan threatened to teach the army officer a lesson with a commitment to send troops. That rapidly changed the calculus in what has spiraled into a multi-faceted proxy war, though it seems more for Putin than Haftar at the moment.

Erdogan’s forceful entry into the fray thrust Libya to the top of the diplomatic agenda, according to Jalel Harchaoui, a research fellow specializing in Libya at the Clingendael Institute in the Netherlands. It was like “an abscess finally bursting, he said.

It certainly added a degree of urgency to the desire of Europeans, themselves split over how to solve the conflict, to be seen to at least be trying to do something almost a decade after airstrikes led by France and the UK helped rebels topple dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

France and Germany want to prevent militants and migrants from crossing into the European Union. Turkey, with now an outsized role in Syria and Libya, has the ability to control those flows, while Haftar is considered key in the fight against extremist groups.

Kept Apart

That was the backdrop as Chancellor Angela Merkel went into high gear to summon Libya stakeholders to Berlin. The powwow may, though, have always been doomed.

Haftar and al-Sarraj, 59, have not met in person in a year and were kept studiously apart in Berlin, attending separate meetings and staying in different hotels. Efforts to bring them together have failed too many times in recent memory.

The two men could not be more different in both their background and temperaments. Haftar is a military veteran who served under Qaddafi in the 1980s only to fall out with him and wind up spending two decades in exile in the US trying to topple the dictator. Al-Sarraj is an architect by training.

The Libyan prime minister openly despaired at the abandonment of the Europeans after the overthrow of Qaddafi in 2011. “Where were you? he said in an interview in Berlin. “Why didn’t you step up? The field was open to you.”

Haftar, meanwhile, has shown an unpredictable quality that has caught leaders off guard. After his move to stifle Libya’s oil industry, crude jumped in Asian trading. The blockage at ports is expected to cut the country’s output by about 800,000 barrels a day.

‘No Illusions’

His presence in Berlin could be felt even when he was not in the room. As US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo was getting ready to leave, a rumor took hold that Haftar too had departed Berlin. It turned out not to be true, but it spoke to the aura of suspense around a man who dared walk out on Putin when he was summoned to Moscow last week.

He was no more amenable to Egypt, which provides military assistance, and the United Arab Emirates, which conducts drone strikes on his behalf, as they tried to get him to sign on the dotted line.

The German hosts, managing expectations, said that neither Haftar nor al-Sarraj were official participants. Merkel saw both in the morning. The US camp wasn’t impressed. The inability to bring those directly fighting each face to face means nothing can really change, according to one senior US official. The sense of impotence and frustration bled into the open.

“Come on folks, this has gone on long enough, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told television cameras as he arrived at airport. “It’s a disgrace. Yes we got rid of Qaddafi back in 2011, but it’s time now to move on.”

Merkel herself, in the final news conference, said that she was “under no illusions and that the road ahead was still hard.”

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s top diplomat and foreign minister for 16 years, was blunt. “It’s clear that it is not yet possible to establish a stable serious dialog between them, he said. “The differences in approaches are too great.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2020/01/20/The-Philippines-looks-for-safer-homes-for-volcano-residents.html

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Explosion rocks Sudanese capital Khartoum, several dead

21 January 2020

At least seven people have been confirmed dead and 25 others injured after an explosion rocked Sudan’s capital Khartoum, according to sources.

Police sources said the explosion may be a result of an improvised explosive device. The incident took place in the al-Shegla area of Khartoum.

Police forces have begun to inspect the site of the incident and said investigations into the cause and source of the explosion are pending, according to a statement.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/21/Explosion-rocks-Sudanese-capital-Khartoum-several-dead.html

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EU agrees to consider ways to support formal Libya truce

21 January 2020

European Union foreign ministers agreed on Monday to look at ways to support a formal ceasefire in Libya if warring sides can move beyond a tentative truce, including a monitoring mission and reviving a naval operation to uphold a UN arms embargo.

Foreign powers agreed at a summit in Berlin on Sunday to shore up the shaky truce in Libya, which has been in turmoil since the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi as two rival governments in the east and the west vie for power and energy resources.

“Without a ceasefire, it’s going to be difficult to imagine any strong engagement of the European Union,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told a news conference.

Borrell said the EU would discuss resuming a naval mission off the Libyan coast to help stop arms reaching Libyan militias, something Italy’s foreign minister did not oppose despite Rome’s grounding of ships last year during an anti-immigrant backlash.

Foreign ministers are expected to consider their options at their next meeting in February and possibly decide a path to take, diplomats said. Borrell, who took up his post in December, has urged EU member states to act more assertively on Libya.

Asked about whether the EU could consider an EU mission in Libya to monitor a ceasefire and report back to the United Nations, Borrell said: “A ceasefire requires someone to take care of it. You cannot say, ‘This is a ceasefire,’ and forget about it ... Someone has to monitor it, to manage it.”

The EU, which has military missions around the world, has struggled to keep a team of experts in Tripoli to support the UN-recognised government there due to security concerns.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2020/01/21/EU-agrees-to-consider-ways-to-support-formal-Libya-truce.html

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Tunisian president tasks former finance minister to form next government

21 January 2020

Tunisian President Kais Saied on Monday designated Elyes Fakhfakh as prime minister, a presidency statement said on Monday, after the fractured parliament this month rejected a government-proposed by an earlier nominee to the post.

The former finance minister now has a month to form a coalition capable of winning a confidence vote in parliament by a simple majority, or there will be another election with urgent economic decisions hanging over the country.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2020/01/21/Tunisian-president-asks-former-finance-minister-to-be-PM.html

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EU must consider ways to support ceasefire in Libya: Borrell

20 January 2020

The European Union will discuss all ways to uphold a formal ceasefire in Libya if one is reached but any peace settlement will need real EU support to make it hold, the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said on Monday.

Asked about whether the EU could consider a military peace-keeping mission, Borrell said: “A ceasefire requires someone to take care of it. You cannot say, ‘this is a ceasefire’ and forget about it ... Someone has to monitor it, to manage it.”

Also asked if the EU’s naval mission off the Libyan coast could be restarted, he said: “I think we have to revive it, yes.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2020/01/20/EU-must-consider-ways-to-support-ceasefire-in-Libya-Borrell.html

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South Asia

 

Bangladesh sentences 10 to death for 2001 political bombings

January 20, 2020

DHAKA: A court in Bangladesh on Monday sentenced 10 members of a banned militant group to death for a bomb attack on a Communist Party rally in 2001.

Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Court’s Judge Mohammed Rabiul Alam made the order in a crowded courtroom while four of the defendants were in the dock. Six of the defendants sentenced to death have absconded. The court acquitted two others who fled. All of them belong to the banned group Harkat-ul Jihad Al-Islami.

The group considers the Communist Party an anti-Islamic force. On Jan. 20, 2001, bomb attacks on a party rally in Dhaka killed five people and wounded 50 others.

Alam said investigators found Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami’s former chief Mufti Abdul Hannan responsible for the party attack but his name was dropped from the case because he was executed in 2017. He was hanged for a separate case involving a grenade attack on a British high commissioner in Bangladesh.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1615601/world

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Myanmar-appointed panel finds 'war crimes' but no 'genocide' against Rohingya

January 21, 2020

A government-appointed panel established in Myanmar to probe allegations of abuses in Rakhine state in 2017 that drew global outrage said on Monday they had found no evidence of genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Rakhine state during weeks of brutal violence, during which the United Nations says gang rapes and mass killings were carried out with "genocidal intent". Hundreds of villages were burned to the ground and later razed and scraped.

Although the panel acknowledged "war crimes" had taken place, rights groups and Rohingya leaders dismissed the report as a "whitewash" days ahead of an expected ruling by the United Nations' highest court on a genocide case against the country.

The commission of inquiry said there were "reasonable grounds" to conclude members of the security forces among "multiple actors" were responsible for possible war crimes and serious human rights violations during a military-led crackdown against the group in 2017.

These included the "killing of innocent villagers and destruction of their homes", it said.

But in its statement, issued to mark the finalization of a full report based on interviews with villagers and members of the security forces, the panel blamed Rohingya militants for attacking 30 police posts and "provoking" the crackdown and described the situation as an "internal armed conflict".

"The ICOE has not found any evidence suggesting that these killings or acts of displacement were committed pursuant to an intent or plan to destroy the Muslim or any other community in northern Rakhine State," the panel’s statement read.

"There is insufficient evidence to argue, much less conclude, that the crimes committed were undertaken with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, or with any other requisite mental state for the international crime of genocide."

Myanmar President Win Myint said in a statement on Tuesday the government "concurred" with the findings of the commission and vowed to pursue further investigations, specifically into alleged crimes by civilians and Rohingya militants.

He said he had given the report to the army chief, so that the military might extend ongoing investigations, he said, adding that the executive summary would be made public.

The army began a rare trial in November of soldiers and officers from a regiment deployed to Gu Dar Pyin village, the site of an alleged massacre of Rohingya.

Two spokesmen for the military could not be reached for comment by Reuters.

In Bangladesh, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who fled Myanmar have taken refuge, a Rohingya leader, Dil Mohammed, described the report as a whitewash.

"We have been persecuted for decades. So many of our people were killed, our women were raped, our children were thrown into fire and our homes were torched. If it is not genocide, what is it?" he said.

The International Court of Justice, the highest UN court, will this week issue a decision on a request for emergency measures in a genocide case against the country.

Gambia filed the suit in November alleging Myanmar was committing "an ongoing genocide" against the Rohingya.

The commission of enquiry was formed in 2018 as the country faced growing calls for accountability. The government appointed two local and two international members – Filipino diplomat Rosario Manalo and Kenzo Oshima, a former Japanese ambassador to the United Nations.

Myanmar says the international efforts violate its sovereignty and has vowed to carry out its own investigations into the allegations.

Full report at:

https://www.thejakartapost.com/seasia/2020/01/21/myanmar-appointed-panel-finds-war-crimes-but-no-genocide-against-rohingya.html

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Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

January 21, 2020

KABUL: Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has urged President Ashraf Ghani to drop the pre-condition of cease-fire to begin talks with the Taliban amid high hope that the US and Taliban delegates will sign a deal following more than a year of secret discussions.

Speaking in an interview with BBC local service, Karzai said the government “should not block intra-Afghan dialogue under the pretext of cease-fire.” He said the Taliban offer for reduction in violence as the group says is nearing to ink the deal with American diplomats in Qatar, was a “major development.”

He said Ghani needed to accept the Taliban offer.

Ghani says truce is a must ahead of starting any negotiations with the Taliban calling reduction in violence a general term and arguing that such a call by the Taliban political leaders in Qatar only goes to show that they have control over field commanders back in Afghanistan.

The Taliban say the group will announce truce when the intra-Afghan dialogue begins which will happen after Washington sets timetable for withdrawal of the troops.

Washington at least on one occasion called off the talks with the Taliban in Qatar due to Taliban attacks back in Afghanistan as discussions continued in Qatar despite none of the warring sides having committed to halt offensives during the talks.

Ghani’s government has been sidelined from all rounds of talks between the Taliban delegates and US diplomats led by Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar. There has also been rift between Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who shares power with the president in the National Unity Government, on the pre-condition of cease-fire.

Unlike Ghani, Abdullah is happy with reduction of violence. Talking in a meeting of council of ministers, Abdullah on Monday indirectly said Ghani had taken the peace process in his monopoly.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1615881/world

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2 New JMB men held for 2019 police attacks

January 20th, 2020

Counter Terrorism & Transnational Crime (CTTC) officials arrested two members of banned militant outfit New Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (New JMB)  for a series of attacks on police in 2019.

Five improvised explosive devices (IED) were hurled at police in Dhaka's Gulistan, Malibagh, Science Lab, Paltan, and Khamarbari, between April 29 and August 31 last year.

The two most recently arrested are Jamal Uddin Rafique, 26, who police suspect was the mastermind of the attacks, and Md Anwar Hossain, 25.

They were arrested on Sunday from Dhaka's Shonir Akhra, said CTTC chief Monirul Islam at a press conference on Monday.

On September 23, four other New JMB members were arrested  from Narayanganj in connection with the attacks.  They were arrested from a bomb manufacturing operation run by Rafique. Based on the information provided by the four, two more were recently arrested, said CTTC.

The four arrested earlier were Md Mehedi Hasan Tanim, Farid Uddin Rumi, Abdullah Azmir and Mishuk Khan. All of them confessed to their involvement in the attacks on police and named Rafique as the leader of the gang, police said.

When asked why the police was targeted, Monirul Islam said: “Attacks on police are symbolic. They did this to spread panic and gain publicity.

"They wanted to convey the message that if police are being attacked, how can they protect others."

Police said Rafique is a graduate from Khulna University of Engineering and Technology (Kuet), while Anwar is a driver by profession.

“Rafique, when a student, was with Ansar al-Islam [the banned militant outfit]. Then he joined New JBM as he was not satisfied with the work of Ansar al-Islam. He later motivated his brother [Farid Uddin Rumi] to join him in this path,” said Monirul Islam, about how the two brothers got involved in militancy.

The CTTC chief said Rafique made the IEDs on his own as he had an engineering background.

“Analyzing the explosives, it was found that they [the militants] were going through a trial and error process. The explosives they made previously were stronger than the latter ones,” he added.

Full report at:

https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/dhaka/2020/01/20/2-held-for-hurling-ieds-at-police

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Peace is a Collective Desire: Abdullah

20 Jan 2020

Abdullah Abdullah, Chief Executive, reiterated on Monday that peace is not one person’s monopoly; it is a collective desire demanded by the Afghan people for long enough.

Following the peace talks and negotiations between the Talian and US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Doha Qatar, Abdullah reiterated that “Afghanistan’s stance is clear in supporting the peace process, and the people of Afghanistan have the right to take a position regarding the peace process.”

Abdullah’s critical remarks regarding the peace process translate that peace effort should be inclusive and comprehensive. So one Minister or party alone can not represent and handle the entire process because it is complicated, and need to include all stakeholders’ suggestions and inputs.

Meanwhile, the emphasis is that the negotiation team should be an inclusive team, which should include the government, social activists, politicians, religious leaders, and more.

Abdullah stated that “a minister can only provide better coordination between the government and other stakeholders than handling the entire peace process.”

He further added that “ one-sided government-appointments and decisions have no benefit to the country, it instead, widens the gap between people and the government.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/peace-is-a-collective-desire-abdullah-87987895/

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Criminals Stabbed an Afghan Student in India

21 Jan 2020

India’s Panaji Police has arrested a person for allegedly stabbing an Afghan student at the Goa University. Matiulla Aria, the victim, is recuperating at a hospital in the state capital, while the police are still in search of the other three accused persons.

“Satish Nilakanthe, a resident of the state, has been arrested in connection with the criminal case,” said Aksay Parsekar, Sub-Inspector.

National Students Union of India (NSUI) Goa Chief Ahraz Mulla has written the Governor Satya Pal Malik and the Ministry of Human Resource Development regarding the incident. Mulla demands that strict actions against the criminals should be taken who are spoiling the harmony of Goa University and the public image of India as a potential education destination at large.

“The attack on the Afghan student at Goa University also brings the question mark to the security of the foreign students who come to India for study purposes and the tourists alike,” Mulla wrote in a statement.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/criminals-stabbed-an-afghan-student-in-india-8678757657/

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Lack of Security Raises Concerns for Kabul Residents

20 Jan 2020

A considerable number of people in Kabul reported on Sunday they are immensely concerned about the rising level of insecurity and lack of safety in the capital city.

Kabul residents claim that they have been witnessing murder cases, target killing, and armed robberies almost every night across the capital city, and the number is rising. 

Ordinary people say that most of the murder cases and killings happen as the target person opposes to handover his valuable belongings to the looters. A group of unidentified armed men killed Zakir Hussein, a security guard at a private company in Kabul, according to his relatives.

“This is not the first case, armed men have stolen our money and other valuable items eighth times already,” said some employees of the company.

According to Ali, an employee of the company, we have recognized the thieves and handed them over to the police; however, the police did not act on time to prevent the killing. Worst of all, the accident took place close to a police checkpoint, but the perpetrators escaped, says people.

“Kabul residents’ patience has already overflowed when it comes to deteriorating security in the streets and allies of the city,” said one resident. He further added, “if the government fails to provide security, it should allow ordinary people to act.”

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/lack-of-security-raises-concerns-for-kabul-residents/

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Arab World

 

Lebanon FM Gebran Bassil’s invite to Davos sparks protests, online campaign

20 January 2020

Social media users are campaigningagainst theLebanesecaretaker Foreign MinisterGebran Bassilrepresenting Lebanon at this year’s World Economic Forum(WEF) in Switzerland, the night after anti-government protesters clashed with riot police in Beirut.

Bassilis scheduled to speak during a session titled “The Return of Arab Unrest”at the annual forum that brings together thousands of world leaders to collaborate on activities to shape the global, regionaland industry agendas.

But back home, Bassil has become a deeply divisive figure, with anti-government protesters accusing him of epitomizing the corruption and nepotism of the current system. Bassil, who is the son-in-law of President Michel Aoun and leads the Hezbollah-allied Free Patriotic Movement party, has refused to step down from politics despite protesters’ demands.

Twitter users flooded the platformon Monday calling onWEF and Davos to disinvite Bassil and replace him with someone who better represents the country andthepeople.  

“Out of all people, they chose Gebran Bassil,” wrote Twitter user Ramez Dagher. “The politician featured in the flagship chant of the Lebanese revolution against the political class…”  

Ramez Dagher

@ramezdagher

Oh and it gets better, Gebran Bassil will be talking at Davos about...*Drum roll*..."The Return of Arab Unrest"!

Out of all people, they choose Gebran Bassil, the politician featured in the flagship chant of the Lebanese revolution against the political class... pic.twitter.com/oWdwukqz4B

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12:48 AM - Jan 20, 2020

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AnotherTwitter user Lynn Zovighian called the situation “incredulous” and said it “cannot go unchanged.”

She added“Speakership roles at @Davos must be vetted for principlesand expertise.@Gebran_Bassil has neither the ethical backbone nor the technical elegance of mind to speak [on the panel].”

Lynn Zovighian لين زوفيكيان

@lynnzovighian

@wef: This incredulous situation cannot go unchanged. Speakership roles at @Davos must be vetted for principles and expertise. @Gebran_Bassil has neither the ethical backbone nor the technical elegance of mind to speak on January 23 on “The return of Arab unrest”! https://twitter.com/lynnzovighian/status/1219098411737153536 …

Lynn Zovighian لين زوفيكيان

@lynnzovighian

@Davos: what message are you sending the people of #Lebanon and the world of activists who are against corruption, abuse of power, and inhumanity?https://bit.ly/2uY2kAG

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2:28 PM - Jan 20, 2020 • Al Madinah Al Munawwarah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

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One persondirectly called out Davos, saying it “legitimizes nepotism, cronyism and corruption” by inviting Bassil to speak.  

[WEF] becomes complicit in thecorruption by inviting Gebran Bassil to speak,” wrote IbrahimAlhusseinion Twitter. “Take a stand and disinvite him immediately and stand with the Lebanese people and not against them.”

A Carnegie Endowment scholar based in Beirutevenquestioned the expense of Bassil’s“luxury trip.”

At whose expense is he taking this luxury trip while Lebanon faces [economic] collapse?”Kim Ghattasasked on Twitter.  

Kim Ghattas

@KimGhattas

Hello @Davos how abt inviting someone from Lebanon civil society to sit on this panel about return of unrest, instead of @Gebran_Bassil a caretaker minister who is target of protestors' anger? And at whose expense is he taking this luxury trip while Lebanon faces econ collapse? https://twitter.com/ramezdagher/status/1218975971208024064 …

Ramez Dagher

@ramezdagher

Oh and it gets better, Gebran Bassil will be talking at Davos about...*Drum roll*..."The Return of Arab Unrest"!

Out of all people, they choose Gebran Bassil, the politician featured in the flagship chant of the Lebanese revolution against the political class...

View image on Twitter

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Meanwhile, in homage to the iconic protestchant heard across the world out of Lebanon, AlexanderRayessaidon Twitter, “Helahela,helahelaho! @Gebran_Bassil should not go! @Davos @wef.”

Protests have swept through Lebanon since October 2019 and led to the resignation of then Prime Minister Saad Hariri and his cabinet, which includes Bassil, who remains caretaker foreign minister until a new cabinet is formed.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/20/Lebanon-FM-Gebran-Bassil-s-invite-to-Davos-sparks-protests-online-campaign-.html

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Saudi Arabia, UAE condemn Houthi attack on mosque that killed more than 100

January 20, 2020

MUKALLA: Saudi Arabia has condemned an attack by Houthi militia on a mosque in the Marib province of Yemen that killed more than 100 people.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia strongly condemns the terrorist attack carried out by the Houthi militia,” the foreign ministry said. The assault “reflects this terrorist militia’s disregard for sacred places and... for Yemeni blood.”

Egypt and the UAE also condemned the attack. The UAE Foreign ministry said in a statement that the country rejects all forms of violence aimed to destabilize a nation's security.

The Houthis attacked a mosque in a military camp in the central province of Marib — about 170 kilometers (105 miles) east of the capital Sanaa — during evening prayers on Saturday.

“We strongly condemn the terrorist attack on a mosque by the Houthi militias... which left more than 100 dead and dozens injured,” the Yemeni foreign ministry said on Twitter.

The death toll on Monday increased to 116 and is expected to rise, military and medical sources told AFP on Monday.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1615621/middle-east

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Egypt extends state of emergency to three years

20 January 2020

Egypt's state of emergency is set to reach the three-year mark by April after the government announced it would extend it by another three months from Monday next week.

The North African country has been under a state of emergency since April 2017 bombings of two Coptic churches by a Daesh affiliate that killed more than 40 people.

The extension comes nine years after the January 2011 uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak, who had also ruled for decades under a state of emergency.

"The president of Egypt ordered the extension of the state of emergency nationwide for three months starting Monday, January 27," said the official gazette on Sunday.

Under a state of emergency, police powers such as arresting and holding citizens are extended and constitutional rights such as freedom of speech and assembly are curtailed.

Egypt has for years been battling an extremist insurgency, which surged following the 2013 military ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi.

The attacks have been largely concentrated in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula but occasionally struck elsewhere in the country.

In February 2018, Egypt launched a large-scale nationwide anti-militant operation.

Rights groups say the state of emergency coupled with the government's effective protest ban since 2013 has helped it in crushing dissent.

In September, rare minor protests broke out in Egypt triggered by online calls for President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's removal.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/20/616653/Egypt-state-of-emergency-government-police-Sisi-crackdown

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Four protesters, two policemen killed as Iraq unrest resumes

January 21, 2020

BAGHDAD: Six Iraqis including two police officers were killed and scores were wounded in Baghdad and other cities on Monday in clashes with security forces, medical and security sources said, as anti-government unrest resumed after a lull of several weeks.

Three protesters succumbed to their wounds in a Baghdad hospital after police fired live rounds in Tayaran Square, security and medical sources said. Two protesters were shot by live bullets while a third was hit by a tear gas canister, they said.

A fourth demonstrator was shot dead by police in Kerbala, the sources added.

Protesters threw petrol bombs and stones at police who responded with tear gas and stun grenades, witnesses said.

“They (security forces) should stop shooting and aiming, who are they and who are we? Both sides are Iraqis. So why are you killing your brothers?” said one woman protester in Baghdad who declined to give her name.

In the Iraqi oil city of Basra, two policemen were struck and killed by a civilian car during the protest, security sources said. The driver was trying to avoid the scene of clashes between protesters and security forces when he drove into the two officers, they said.

Elsewhere in southern Iraq, hundreds of protesters burned tyres and blocked main roads in several cities, including Nassiriya, Kerbala and Amara. They say Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has not fulfilled promises including naming a new government acceptable to Iraqis.

Baghdad police said its forces had reopened all roads that were closed by “violent gatherings”. It said 14 officers were wounded near Tahrir square, including some with head wounds and broken bones.

Traffic was disrupted on a highway linking Baghdad to southern cities, a witness said. Production in southern oilfields was unaffected by the unrest, oil officials said.

Mass protests have gripped Iraq since Oct 1, with mostly young protesters demanding an overhaul of a political system they see as profoundly corrupt and as keeping most Iraqis in poverty. More than 450 people have been killed.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1529622/four-protesters-two-policemen-killed-as-iraq-unrest-resumes

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Iraqi Hezbollah to Set Up New Base at Borders with Syria

Jan 20, 2020

"Kata'eb Hezbollah has chosen a new base on Akashat-al-Qa'em road to be its main base in the bordering areas between Iraq and Syria," an Iraqi border guard official told the Arabic-language al-Arabi al-Jadid on Sunday.

He added that Hezbollah's new base is actually an old base belonging to the Iraqi army, noting that it will be reconstructed to replace the US-destroyed headquarters.

"Members of Kata'eb Hezbollah will likely be transferred to the new base in less than two weeks," the official said.

Late last month, the US drones bombarded a Kata'eb Hezbollah's base near the border with Syria in Iraq's Western province of Anbar, a Hashd Shaabi statement said.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13981030000232

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Two rockets land near US embassy in Baghdad, no casualties reported

21 January 2020

Two rockets have landed near the US embassy in Baghdad located in the heavily fortified Green Zone of the Iraqi capital, according to security sources.

Sirens could be heard across the zone immediately after the rockets made impact.

The US has blamed Iran-backed paramilitary groups for a spate of similar attacks in recent months on the Green Zone, but there has never been a claim of responsibility.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/21/Two-rockets-hit-near-US-embassy-in-Baghdad-security-sources.html

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Russian airstrikes kill seven civilians in northwest Syria: Report

20 January 2020

At least seven civilians, including five children, were killed Monday in airstrikes on northwest Syria by regime ally Russia despite a truce declared by Moscow, a war monitor said.

The raids hit several villages held by extremists and opposition fighters in the western countryside of Aleppo province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Three girls were killed in the village of Kfar Taal while four civilians, including two other children, died in separate strikes that hit other villages in the area, said the Britain-based monitor.

Idlib and parts of Aleppo, Hama and Latakia provinces, are dominated by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a group dominated by Syria’s former al-Qaeda affiliate.

The northwestern region has come under mounting bombardment in recent weeks that displaced tens of thousands of people.

A ceasefire arranged by Syrian regime ally Russia and opposition backer Turkey this month was supposed to protect the area from further attacks.

But the Damascus government last week pressed a deadly offensive, reaching within seven kilometers of a key town in southern Idlib it seeks to capture from extremists.

Russian and regime warplanes also continued to pummel the area, killing scores of civilians, according to the Observatory which relies on a network of sources inside Syria for its reports.

On Thursday, Russia denied launching any combat operations in the region since the start of a ceasefire which it said took effect on January 9, a date disputed by Turkey which says the truce began on Sunday.

The Syrian government, which now controls more than 70 percent of the country, has vowed to take back Idlib, which is home to some three million people.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/20/Russian-airstrikes-kill-seven-civilians-in-northwest-Syria-Report-.html

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Lebanon’s protests turn into riots during weekend of violence

20 January 2020

Riots in Lebanon broke out on Sunday, as riot police deployed water cannons and fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and allegedly real bullets at demonstrators amid a second night of violence.

President Michel Aoun is to hold a security meeting at noon on Monday with interior minister, Raya El Hassan, and the heads of the Army, Internal Security Forces (ISF), State Security, and General Security, following two nights of escalating violence.

This comes after ISF chief Major General Ima Othman and army commander Joseph Aoun met on Sunday to ensure coordination between the two agencies, after 142 ISF members were injured in Saturday night’s clashes, with three serious injuries including skull fractures.

Protesters initially gathered on Sunday evening at Mohammad al-Amin Mosque in central Beirut for a cross-religious evening prayer for 4:55 p.m.

However, a number of those present were not there for the prayers. “We are here for the protests,” Jana Hakwaji, a 19-year-old school student, told Al Arabiya English.

Shielded security personnel used megaphones to call on protesters to disperse before releasing rounds of rubber bullets, which hit a reporter from Al Jazeera in the leg and injured a crew member from News Channel Al-Jadeed. The leading Lebanese television channel later took to Twitter to condemn the excessive use of rubber bullets by security forces.

Initial reports from the Lebanese Red Cross said 38 people had been injured and transferred to hospital, with a further 52 treated onsite. Pictures of grotesque injuries circulated on Twitter, after security forces allegedly contravened international regulations on the use of rubber bullets.

“I am here because of what happened last night, I am against this,” Hakwaji said. “I don’t know why they are treating us like this, most of them have sisters, and fathers, and brothers here with us.”

The previous night, nearly 400 were treated for injuries.

Protesters returned to downtown after a military motorcade displaying rocket-propelled grenades, armored vehicles, and firearms paraded past the mosque during the call to prayer.

“They are trying to scare us, but we are not scared at all,” Hakwaji told Al Arabiya English.

Protesters gathered near Nijmeh Square in downtown Beirut under the slogan “No turning back,” and battered walls with metal poles, using loose fragments to attack riot police on Sunday evening.

One protester held a blowtorch up to the barricade that riot police used to warm their hands in a show of mockery. Others attempted to climb barricades, which have obstructed access to the Parliament building since the beginning of the protests in October.

Amidst an increasing security presence in downtown Beirut, ISF used Twitter to call for calm, and to ask protesters to refrain from vandalizing public and private property and attacking security forces.

Despite requests for calm as clashes escalated, some protesters launched Molotov cocktails over blockades at riot police.

Later, cheering crowds of protesters battered into state-run telecommunications company Alfa’s downtown branch and a branch of chocolate shop Patchi, reportedly looting items from inside.

“There is a way to calm the popular storm. Stop wasting time, form a government and open the door to political and economic solutions,” Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri said via Twitter on Sunday.

Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab met with President Michel Aoun at Baabada Palace on Sunday evening but made no statement to press regarding the formation of a new government when he left.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/20/Lebanon-s-protests-turn-into-riots-on-second-night-of-violence.html

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Baghdad to send delegates to Russia, China, Ukraine to buy latest air defense systems: Iraqi MP

20 January 2020

An Iraqi lawmaker says the Baghdad government is planning to send delegations to Russia, China and Ukraine to discuss the procurement of modern air defense missile systems to protect its territory from any possible act of aggression.

“The delegations intend to visit countries like Russia, China and Ukraine to negotiate the purchase of modern systems to protect Iraq’s airspace,” Badr al-Ziyadi, a member of the Parliamentary Security And Defense Committee, told Arabic-language al-Sabaah newspaper.

He added, “The Iraqi parliament is right now forming a joint executive and legislative delegation to visit developed countries and sign contracts on procuring advanced weapons.”

Ziyadi further noted that Iraqi lawmakers are looking into obtaining weapons in exchange for Iraqi oil shipments, similar to the “oil for reconstruction” agreement signed with China recently.

“Many nations have indicated [their] readiness to ship modern weapons to Iraq in exchange for oil. This is the best way to ensure the shipment of good weapons to Iraq without corruption and bribery,” the lawmaker said.

Ziyadi went on to say that the delegations would also hold talks over completing the installation of modern thermal imaging devices at the border, which will help detect and prevent any terrorist infiltration.

“The inadequate arming of border forces with modern weapons was the result of a mistake in relying on an agreement with the United States which spent enormous sums of money and never fully the finished [the project],” the legislator highlighted.

“This is why the Iraqis must count on themselves and turn to the eastern bloc to equip its army,” Ziyadi concluded.

On January 16, Ali al-Ghanmi, a member of the Parliamentary Security and Defense Committee, dismissed US threats to impose sanctions on Baghdad over its procurement of advanced Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems, saying such pressure is far away from realities on the ground.

“US sanctions on Iraq need the approval of decision-making bodies in that country,” Ali al-Ghanmi said in an interview with Arabic-language Baghdad Today news agency.

He asserted that the US punitive measures over Russian S-400 missile systems would be simply formal sanctions, which would not actually materialize and would fall short of their objectives.

“According to the Constitution, Iraq is free to arm itself, acquire necessary military hardware and purchase any system it deems appropriate under the circumstances. The import of S-400 missile systems requires Russian supervision, and its training of Iraqi military personnel,” Ghanmi pointed out.

The United States has already warned Iraq of the consequences of extending military cooperation with Russia, and striking deals to purchase advanced weaponry, particularly S-400 missile systems.

Former US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on February 22, 2018 that Washington has contacted many countries, including Iraq, to explain the significance of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), and possible consequences that would arise in the wake of defense agreements with Moscow.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/20/616675/Baghdad-to-send-delegates-to-Russia,-China,-Ukraine-to-buy-latest-air-defense-systems:-Iraqi-MP

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UK legal team urges police to arrest Egypt’s Sisi during London visit over Morsi death

20 January 2020

A legal group in the UK has lodged complaint with the London police, calling for an arrest warrant against Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi over his alleged role in the death of Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president, at a Cairo court session last year.

The International Justice Chambers (Guernica 37) asked London’s Metropolitan Police Service Counter Terrorism Command (SO15) to launch a probe into the “credible allegations of torture made against the Egyptian Government and its State organs” in the complaint filed ahead of Sisi’s arrival in the UK on Monday for a two-day visit.

Morsi, a senior figure in Egypt’s now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organization, was elected as Egypt’s president after a 2011 revolution.

He was, however, deposed through a bloody military coup led by his then-army chief and now President Sisi in July 2013.

Morsi, 67, had been serving prison terms on several charges before passing away in a Cairo court while on trial on espionage charges last year in June. He suffered from medical neglect during his imprisonment as well as poor conditions in prison.

“In particular, the complaint will request that the death of... Morsi, and the treatment suffered prior to his death, which constitutes torture, be investigated,” the legal group said. “the United Kingdom cannot be seen as a safe haven for those who consider themselves immune from prosecution.”

Back in November 2019, a panel of UN experts said Morsi’s detention conditions “could amount to a state-sanctioned arbitrary killing.”

The panel concluded that Morsi was held under conditions that can only be described as brutal, particularly during his five-year detention in the Tora prison complex.”

The British panel also pointed out that it “is inconceivable to consider that Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was unaware of the torture of Dr. Morsi.”

“It is no mere assumption that the treatment of Dr. Morsi contributed to his death and there is a compelling argument that it was his treatment at the hands of the Military Regime that killed him and that this was the intention,” said the chamber.

The Muslim Brotherhood has labeled Morsi’s death as a full-fledged murder. The organization said Egyptian authorities were responsible for his deliberate slow death.

On Friday, the Times of London wrote in an editorial that Sis’s anticipated arrival in London “to participate in the government’s UK-Africa summit will rightly stick in many people’s craw.”

It said that Sisi “has proved himself to be a particularly brutal dictator even by the standards of Egypt’s unfortunate history.”

Human rights groups have already warned that thousands more prisoners in Egypt were enduring similar conditions that led to the death of Morsi, and their “health and lives” may also be at severe risk.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/20/616638/Egypt-UK-legal--warrant-Abdel-Fattah-el-Sisi-Morsi-death

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Muslim World League, Catholic university sign cooperation agreement

January 21, 2020

ROME: Upon his recent invitation to the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (UCSC), the secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL) presented a lecture on friendship between nations and peoples.

Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa cited many examples of the positive relationship between the Islamic and Christian worlds, a relationship that has been recently reinforced through increased dialogue between the MWL and the Vatican. He emphasized the importance of cooperation based on mutual values and natural law.

Al-Issa announced the launch of a global initiative that the MWL will be working on to further positive relations across religious and national divides.

He spoke on the value of friendship, lamenting the various factors that threaten bonds between people, including political and religious extremism.

Friendship

Al-Issa praised his friendship with Bishop Miguel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, saying he was happy to see him visit Saudi Arabia and meet with King Salman.

Al-Issa and UCSC Rector Franco Anelli signed a partnership agreement between the MWL and the university that aims to develop and improve Arabic-language programs and Arab and Islamic cultural research activities at the university.

In recent years, the Catholic university has undertaken various initiatives to promote Arabic language and culture. 

Research

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1615926/saudi-arabia

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Mideast

 

Iran Warns to Punish US Accomplices in Assassination of General Soleimani

Jan 20, 2020

"If the security and military specialists in Iran conclude that a country or regime has collaborated and helped this cowardly act, it will pay the price," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi told reporters in Tehran on Monday.

He, meantime, underlined that Iran is not after increasing tensions in the region, and said, "We are not after war but we are ready to strongly defend against any mischief."

Elsewhere, Mousavi dismissed any possibility for talks with the US.

The hero of anti-terrorism fight in the region, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, was brutally assassinated by the terrorist army of the US at Baghdad International Airport on January 03.

Pentagon also martyred Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), or Hashad al-Shabi, five Iranian, and five Iraqi militaries.

The strike brought the United States and Iran to the brink of war, with Tehran retaliating by launching missiles at military bases in Iraq housing American troops.

On January 8, the IRGC Aerospace Force started heavy ballistic missile attacks on US Ein Al-Assad airbase in Southwestern Iraq near the border with Syria and a US operated airbase in Erbil in retaliation for the US assassination of General Soleimani.

Ein Al-Assad is an airbase with a 4km runway at 188m altitude from sea levels, which is the main and the largest US airbase in Iraq. Early reports said the radar systems and missile defense shields in Ein Al-Assad failed to operate and intercept the Iranian missiles. Unofficial reports said the US army's central radar systems at Ein Al-Assad had been jammed by electronic warfare.

The second IRGC reprisal attack targeted a US military base near Erbil airport in Iraqi Kurdistan Region in the second leg of "Martyr Soleimani" reprisal operation.

Iraq said the attacks had not taken any toll from its army men stationed at these two bases. The US army had blocked entrance into Ein Al-Assad to everyone, including the Iraqi army.

It was the first direct attack on the US army ever since world war two.

The IRGC officials said none of the missiles had been intercepted.

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13981030000453

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IRGC Qods Force Commander: Enemies Understand No Language but Force

Jan 20, 2020

"They hit General Soleimani in a cowardly act, but there are freedom-seekers across the world who want to revenge for him with God's help, and God willing, we will hit his enemy chivalrously," General Qa'ani said, addressing a ceremony in Tehran on Monday.

"Our enemy understands no language but force and therefore, we should stand against them strongly," he added.

General Qa'ani, the former deputy of the IRGC Qods Force, was appointed as the Quds Force commander after Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani was assassinated in a US drone strike on Baghdad International Airport in Iraq on January 3.

The airstrike also martyred Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), or Hashad al-Shaabi. The two were martyred in an American airstrike that targeted their vehicle on the road to the airport.

Five Iranian and five Iraqi militaries were martyred by missiles fired by the US drone at Baghdad International Airport.

On January 8, the IRGC Aerospace Force started heavy ballistic missile attacks on US Ein Al-Assad airbase in Southwestern Iraq near the border with Syria and a US operated airbase in Erbil in retaliation for the US assassination of General Soleimani.

Ein Al-Assad is an airbase with a 4km runway at 188m altitude from sea levels, which is the main and the largest US airbase in Iraq. Early reports said the radar systems and missile defense shields in Ein Al-Assad failed to operate and intercept the Iranian missiles. Unofficial reports said the US army's central radar systems at Ein Al-Assad had been jammed by electronic warfare.

The second IRGC reprisal attack targeted a US military base near Erbil airport in Iraqi Kurdistan Region in the second leg of "Martyr Soleimani" reprisal operation.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13981030000845

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Houthi ambassador to Iran visits Soleimani’s family, presents son with dagger

21 January 2020

The representative of the Iran-linked Houthi militia in Tehran Ibrahim Dailami visited the family of slain military commander Qassem Soleimani in the Iranian capital on Monday to offer condolences, state media reported.

Dailami conveyed messages of condolence and sympathy from the leader of the Houthi militia Abdul-Malik al-Houthi as well as the head of the so-called Supreme Political Council Mahdi al-Mashat to the family of Soleimani, according to Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency.

Soleimani’s killing is a “great loss for the Islamic nation,” Tasnim cited Dailami as saying.

Soleimani, who headed the Quds Force, the overseas arms of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), was killed in a US airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport earlier this month.

Dailami also gifted Soleimani’s son a “janbiya,” according to Tasnim. A “janbiya” is a short, curved dagger worn around the waist as the main accessory to traditional male Yemeni clothing.

Dailami was appointed by the Houthi militia as an “ambassador” in Tehran in 2019.

Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi severed diplomatic relations with Iran in October 2015, accusing Tehran of providing military aid to the militia.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2020/01/21/Houthi-ambassador-to-Iran-visits-Soleimani-s-family-presents-son-with-dagger.html

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Iran Warns to Leave NPT in Case of Referral to UNSC

Jan 20, 2020

“The European’s statement is in no way legal. If the Europeans take another step, Iran will consider leaving the NPT according to a letter by the Iranian president in May 2019,” Zarif said, addressing the parliamentarians in Tehran on Monday.

“Tehran has taken the fifth and the last step to reduce commitments to the nuclear pact, and it is not going to take another step to reduce its commitments,” he noted, adding that Iran would also resume its suspended JCPOA commitments if Europeans return to their commitments to the nuclear pact.

"But If the Europeans continue to play more political games, we will have many options," he stressed.

“Iran is designing a new and more effective step that will be taken before leaving NPT in case the Europeans do not fulfill their responsibilities to the deal and continue their claims,” he highlighted.

In relevant remarks earlier today, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi cautioned the European states of Tehran's strong response to any move by the European states to activate the trigger mechanism.

"The Europeans' recent moves have no legal value and validity. Of course, they, themselves, do not believe that they have activated the trigger mechanism, yet the very fact that they declare they are going towards this path and have activated the Dispute Resolution Mechanism (DRM) is unacceptable to us," Mousavi told reporters in a press conference in Tehran on Monday.

He underlined Iran's commitment to the nuclear deal, meantime, and complained that the European states have still failed to comply with their undertakings under the agreement.

"The fifth step was the last step in reducing our undertakings and Iran is planning for a final and more effective move if such words (by the Europeans) continue, and if the present trend continues, Iran will take the effective step," Mousavi said. 

The announcement was made after the three European signatories to the nuclear deal announced their decision to trigger the Dispute Resolution Mechanism (DRM) in the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a step that could lead to the restoration of UN sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

In relevant remarks last Wednesday, Zarif lashed out at the 3 European signatories of the nuclear deal — the UK, France and Germany—for abiding by unilateral pressures of the US, underlining that the trio’s Tuesday unconstructive move was a strategic blunder.

Zarif denounced as a “strategic mistake” the European trio’s decision to trigger a dispute mechanism under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13981030000719

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IRGC Commander Appoints New Deputy Qods Force Commander

Jan 20, 2020

General Hejazi was introduced as Qods Force Deputy Commander by General Salami in a ceremony held at the General Staff of the IRGC in Tehran on Monday.

General Hejazi had also earlier served as the deputy commander of Qods Force till the end of the Iran-Iraq war and Basij commander for ten years.

Brigadier General Esmayeel Qa'ani, the former deputy of the IRGC Qods Force, was appointed as the Qods Force commander after Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani was assassinated by the US in a drone strike at Iraq's Baghdad International Airport on January 3.

The airstrike also martyred Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), or Hashad al-Shaabi. The two were martyred in an American airstrike that targeted their vehicle on the road to the airport.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13981030000761

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Iran "Suspicious" of British Envoy's Participation in Tehran Protest Rallies

Jan 20, 2020

"The British envoy's action was really unacceptable, against the international regulations and suspicious and we feel that there has been a type of purposefulness in the move," Mousavi told reporters in Tehran on Monday.

"We want the British government and ambassador to realize that in case this action is repeated, Iran's position will be beyond just summoning" the envoy, he added.

Mousavi underlined that Iran protects the security of foreign diplomats and their missions, and asked them to avoid moves in violation of diplomatic norms and codes of behavior.

Last week, several Iranian legislators had blasted Macaire for participation in protest rallies, calling for his expulsion.

"We expected the foreign ministry to expel the British ambassador within 24 hours when he prepared and released a video clip [of protest rallies] and took footages from the protestors," Seyed Nasser Mousavi Laregani said last Monday, addressing an open session of parliament in Tehran.

Also, another senior lawmaker, Seyed Taqi Kabiri, called on the foreign ministry to firmly react to the British envoy's direct interference in Iran's internal affairs.

Meantime, Seyed Ali Adiani, another Iranian MP, said that the foreign ministry should not suffice to summoning Macaire because he has acted against the diplomatic regulations.

"The British ambassador should have been expelled in the minimum possible time," he added.

Macaire had been briefly detained during a protest in front of Amir Kabir University in downtown Tehran on January 11 where he was organizing and provoking tens of protesters upset with the government’s way of handling the aftermaths of the Ukrainian plane incident.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned Macaire after police identified and detained the envoy briefly as he was trying to turn a mourning vigil in front of the Amir Kabir University of Tehran into an anti-government protest.

A large number of Iranian students and seminaries gathered in front of the British embassy in Tehran on January 12 to protest at the envoy's participation and role in last night protest rallies, calling for his expulsion.

The Iranian students and seminaries who had gathered in front of the British embassy on Sunday chanted 'death to Britain', 'we do not want British spy', 'the British nuclear deal should be annihilated' and 'the British embassy should be closed'.

They also carried images of IRGC Qods Force Commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani who was assassinated by the US in Iraq, and voiced strong support for the IRGC.

A senior Iranian legislator blasted Macaire for participating and promoting the protest rally, calling on him to end his interference in Iran's internal affairs.

"The undue presence of the British ambassador in some gatherings is a flagrant interference in Iran's affairs and it should be studied at the parliament, specially the National Security Commission," Hossein Ali Haji Deligani said, addressing an open session of the parliament in Tehran on Sunday.

"I call on the British envoy to end his interference and leave Iran before the Iranian nation forces him to leave," he added.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13981030000603

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FM Spokesman Warns Europe of Iran' Next N. Deal Move

Jan 20, 2020

"The Europeans' recent moves have no legal value and validity. Of course, they, themselves, do not believe that they have activated the trigger mechanism, yet the very fact that they declare they are going towards this path and have activated the Dispute Resolution Mechanism (DRM) is unacceptable to us," Mousavi told reporters in a press conference in Tehran on Monday.

He underlined Iran's commitment to the nuclear deal, meantime, and complained that the European states have still failed to comply with their undertakings under the agreement.

"The fifth step was the last step in reducing our undertakings and Iran is planning for a final and more effective move if such words (by the Europeans) continue, and if the present trend continues, Iran will take the effective step," Mousavi said. 

The announcement was made after the three European signatories to the nuclear deal announced their decision to trigger the Dispute Resolution Mechanism (DRM) in the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a step that could lead to the restoration of UN sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

In relevant remarks last Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif lashed out at the 3 European signatories of the nuclear deal — the UK, France and Germany—for abiding by unilateral pressures of the US, underlining that the trio’s Tuesday unconstructive move was a strategic blunder.

Zarif denounced as a “strategic mistake” the European trio’s decision to trigger a dispute mechanism under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13981030000385

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Iran asks US, France for technology to download Ukrainian plane's black box info

21 January 2020

Iran has made requests for equipment from US and French authorities so it can download information from the black boxes on a downed Ukrainian passenger plane but Tehran has not received a positive response, the civil aviation body said.

In its second report on the disaster, in which all 176 people aboard were killed when the plane was accidentally shot down, Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization said it did not have the equipment needed to download data from the model of recorders installed on the doomed Boeing 737.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/21/Iran-seeks-gear-from-US-France-to-download-downed-plane-s-black-boxes.html

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Honduras becomes latest to officially declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization

20 January 2020

The Honduran government has formally declared Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah a terrorist organization, the country's deputy security minister said on Monday.

Honduras follows Guatemala which said it was set to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist group as well last week.

Hezbollah, a heavily armed group designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, was established in 1982 by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and is an important part of a regional Tehran-led alliance known as “the axis of resistance.” https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/20/Honduras-becomes-latest-to-officially-declare-Hezbollah-a-terrorist-organization.html

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Palestinian family vows to appeal Israeli ruling over Jerusalem home eviction

20 January 2020

A Palestinian family pledged on Monday to appeal an Israeli court order to evict them from their home in a mainly-Palestinian east Jerusalem neighborhood in a case lodged by a settler organization.

The Israeli anti-settlement NGO Peace Now said a Jerusalem magistrates court ruled on Sunday in favor of evicting the Rajabi family from their home in the Silwan neighborhood following a lawsuit filed by members of the pro-settlement Ateret Cohanim organization.

The three-story building houses 17 Palestinians, the family said.

“There is no other home for me and my family to go to,” said Nasser al-Rajabi, adding that the youngest member of the family is 18 months old.

“We reject this decision,” he said.

The family has lived in the building since 1975, he added, arguing they are “victims of a political game by the Israeli courts and the settler organizations.”

The family’s lawyer, Mohammed Dahla, said they would file an appeal.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.

Israel considers all Jerusalem its undivided capital but the Palestinians see the eastern part as the capital of their future state.

Around 200,000 Israeli Jews now live in east Jerusalem in settlement homes considered illegal under international law.

Under a decades-old Israeli law, if Jews can prove their families owned property in east Jerusalem before the 1948 war that led to the creation of Israel, they can demand that Israel’s general custodian office release the property and return their “ownership rights.”

During the war, thousands of Jews fled Jerusalem as Jordanian-led Arab forces seized the city, while hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled from land that was later to become Israel.

No such law exists for Palestinians who lost their land.

Peace Now said the family was one of around 100 families threatened by eviction lawsuits filed by Ateret Cohanim, in total putting around 700 people at risk of eviction.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/20/Palestinian-family-pledge-appeal-over-Jerusalem-eviction-ruling-.html

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Lebanon arrests US journalist over allegedly covering protests for Israeli daily

20 January 2020

Lebanon’s State Security agency confirmed reports on Monday that it arrested an American freelance journalist for allegedly live-streaming the recent violent protests in Beirut for the Israeli daily Haaretz.

“Following social media news about a person who had been live-streaming the events in downtown Beirut for the Israeli Haaretz daily, a State Security patrol managed to track and locate the whereabouts and suspected an individual who had filmed the same footage that appeared on the enemy’s newspapers’ page. He had then been brought in for questioning,” the Lebanese National News Agency NNA reported citing a statement issued by the State Security.

Lebanese security authorities identified the US citizen who claimed to be a freelance journalist, as Nicholas A.

Lebanon’s State Prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat referred the American citizen to the country’s military intelligence for questioning and investigation, the department said.

The area outside Lebanon’s parliament was packed with journalists, many of whom are correspondents for international news agencies.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/media/digital/2020/01/20/Lebanon-arrests-American-over-live-coverage-of-Beirut-events-to-Israeli-daily.html

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Israeli court orders to evict Palestinian family from own home in Jerusalem al-Quds

20 January 2020

An Israeli court has ruled that a Palestinian family be evicted from their home in the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds, which is mainly populated by Palestinians, in a case filled by an Israeli settler organization.   

On Sunday, a Jerusalem magistrates’ court issued the order against the Rajabi family, who has been living in their three-story building since 1975, said the Israeli anti-settlement NGO Peace Now in a report on Monday.

It added that the lawsuit had been lodged by members of the pro-settlement Ateret Cohanim Organization against the family, who pledged to appeal the eviction order.

"There is no other home for me and my family to go to," said Nasser al-Rajabi, father of the family, adding that the youngest member of the family is 18 months old. The building houses 17 Palestinians.

“We reject this decision,” he vowed, stressing that they “are victims of a political game by the Israeli courts and the settler organizations.”

Mohammed Dahla, the family's lawyer, also said that they would file an appeal.

According to Peace Now, the Rajabi family is just one of around 100 Palestinian families threatened by eviction lawsuits filed by Ateret Cohanim, in total putting some 700 people at risk of losing their homes.

The eviction notices were an “attempt to displace a Palestinian community and to replace it with an Israeli one, in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem”, the NGO added.

International bodies and rights groups say Israeli demolitions of Palestinian structures in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds are an attempt to uproot Palestinians from their native territory and confiscate more land for the expansion of illegal settlements.

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/20/616680/Palestine-Israel-court-eviction-family-Jerusalem-al-Quds

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Israel's budget deficit deepens amid financial crisis

20 January 2020

With Israelis set to return to the polls in March for an unprecedented third time in less than a year, the entity is now well into 2020 before a new budget is passed.

During a briefing to the Finance Committee of Knesset (parliament) on Monday, the Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron offered a gloomy economic outlook for the upcoming months.

Israel’s budget deficit is forecast to reach 3.3% of the gross domestic product (GDP) this year if no budget is passed in 2020, he said.

Due to a political stalemate following two inconclusive elections, Israeli lawmakers have yet to approve the annual budget for this year.

The Israeli economy has so far weathered two inconclusive ballots, but it cannot escape the impact of no budget.

The last permanent cabinet fell apart in late 2018 and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has since headed caretaker cabinets that have been unable to enact any major tax hikes or spending cuts needed to rein in the deficit.

The March election means it will likely be at least mid-year before a new budget can be put in place.

The ministry of finance said last month that the cumulative fiscal deficit for the past twelve months (from December 2018) stands at 3.7% of the GDP.

Israeli authorities promised to boost investments in public transport and competition in the workforce, but most plans have come to a standstill.

Contractors at the ministry of military affairs were already seeing payments being frozen, according to an industry source cited by Reuters.

In November last year,  the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) cut its economic growth forecast for Israel to 2.9% in 2020 from a previous estimate of 3.3%, and forecast a similar rate in 2021.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/20/616679/Israel-Knesset-Governor-Amir-Yaron-GDP--Binyamin-Netanyahu

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Turkish forces accommodate 1,500 militant family members in Syria's Ra’s al-Ayn

20 January 2020

Turkish military forces have reportedly accommodated more than a thousand members of families of allied Takfiri militants in residential buildings in Syria’s northeastern province of al-Hasakah in the aftermath of a cross-border incursion against militants of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

Informed sources, requesting anonymity, told Syria’s official news agency SANA on Monday that 1,500 militant family members have squatted houses in the al-Kharabat and al-Hawarna neighborhoods of the key border town of Ra's al-Ayn in the province.

SANAEnglishOfficial

@SANAEnOfficial

Turkish occupation transports more of its mercenaries’ families to reside in citizens’ homes in Ras al-Aynhttps://sana.sy/en/?p=183020

Turkish occupation transports more of its mercenaries’ families to reside in citizens’ homes in Ras...

Hasaka, SANA – The Turkish occupation forces continued to transport dozens of the families of the terrorists and mercenaries working under their command to reside in the houses of the displaced...

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The development took place after Turkish-backed militants fired a barrage of artillery rounds and rocket shells at civilian buildings in Umm al-Keif village, also known as Timar, in the western flank of Hasakah province back on January 12 in an apparent effort to drive out the civilian population in order to pave the way for militants' families to move in.

SANA reported at the time that the projectiles had caused material damage to houses and private property in the target area, but did not say whether there were any casualties as a result.

The report added that Syrian government forces identified the origin of the attack, and destroyed the terrorists’ launching pads in response.

On October 9 last year, Turkish military forces and Ankara-backed militants launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion of northeastern Syria in a declared attempt to push YPG militants away from border areas.

Ankara views the US-backed YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.

On October 22, 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a memorandum of understanding that asserted YPG militants had to withdraw from the Turkish-controlled "safe zone" in northeastern Syria within 150 hours, after which Ankara and Moscow would run joint patrols around the area.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/20/616648/Turkish-forces-accommodate-1,500-militant-families-in-Syrian-houses-in-Ra%E2%80%99s-al-Ayn:-Report

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Young Palestinian man shot by Israeli troopers dies of injuries

20 January 2020

A Young Palestinian man has succumbed to his wounds some two years after he was shot by Israeli soldiers during an anti-occupation protest along the border between the blockaded Gaza Strip and the Occupied Territories.

Amer al-Hajjar, 30, a resident of Saftawi neighborhood north of Gaza City, lost his life on Sunday evening, Palestine's official Wafa news agency, citing medical sources, reported on Monday.

It added that he died due to wounds he had received from Israeli gunshots on March 30, 2018, the first day of ongoing weekly rallies – known as the Great March of Return – which have been held in the blockaded sliver against Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

About 310 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces ever since the anti-occupation protests began in Gaza. More than 18,000 other Palestinians have also sustained injuries.

The Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14, 2018, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe), which coincided with the US embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.

Gaza has been under Israeli siege since June 2007, which has caused a decline in living standards.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/20/616651/Gaza-Palestinian-Israel-wounds-

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Europe

 

New President of French Muslim Council Elected

January 20, 2020

The members of the Board of Directors of the CFCM, convened at the Grand Mosque in Paris on Sunday, co-opted a list of personalities to occupy positions of responsibility within the CFCM (president, vice-presidents, secretary general and treasurer).

The post of president went to the one and only French-Moroccan candidate, after the surprise withdrawal on Saturday of the French-Algerian Chems Eddine Hafiz, who announced the withdrawal of his candidacy to devote himself to his new duties as rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris.

Moussaoui is also president of the Union of France's Mosques (UMF), according to en.yabiladi.com

Created in 2003 by the French government to be the interlocutor of the public authorities for all matters related to Islam, the CFCM brings together federations of different sensitivities. France is home to over 6 million Muslims.

https://iqna.ir/en/news/3470404/new-president-of-french-muslim-council-elected

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Norway finance minister resigns over ISIS woman’s return from Syria

20 January 2020

Norwegian Finance Minister Siv Jensen and her right-wing Progress Party will resign from the government over a cabinet decision to help bring a woman suspected of ISIS affiliation back home to Norway, Jensen said on Monday.

The resignation robs Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg of her parliamentary majority and could make the country more difficult to govern, but Solberg still plans to remain in office as head of a minority coalition.

“I brought us into government, and I’m now bringing the party out,” Jensen told a news conference.

There had been “too many compromises,” Jensen said, while adding she wants to have a close dialogue with the prime minister in the future.

The Norwegian crown currency was largely unchanged after the announcement.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg said she would remain in office as head of a minority three-party coalition.

Most Norwegian governments since the 1970s have ruled with a minority in parliament, including Solberg between 2013 and January 2019.

Jensen’s departure was triggered by the decision, announced last week, that the Norwegian woman and her two children would receive help to return to Norway from Syria so that one of the children could receive medical treatment.

The woman, who left Norway in 2013, was arrested on her return on suspicion of being a member of the extremist group that briefly controlled a territory the size of Britain across Iraq and Syria.

While Progress had offered to help the children, the populist party sought to deny any government assistance for adults seeking to return home after joining extremist groups abroad or marrying foreign fighters.

Decisions on whether to help women with ISIS ties return from Syria has caused controversy in Europe, including in Finland where the recently appointed government settled on a compromise to decide each case individually.

The Norwegian woman, who has not been named, has denied the charges against her and will fully cooperate with police during interrogation, her lawyer has said.

Jensen’s exit, along with six other Progress cabinet ministers, leaves Solberg with a string of posts to fill, including that of oil and energy minister to oversee Western Europe’s biggest oil and gas industry.

At the finance ministry, the new appointee will chart the course for the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, with assets of $1.1 trillion.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/01/20/Norway-finance-minister-resigns-over-ISIS-woman-s-return-from-Syria.html

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US misinforming intl. community on Iran's enrichment right: Russia

21 January 2020

Russia has accused the US of misleading the international community on Iran's right to enrich uranium, describing as "myth-making" a claim by Washington that a UN Security Council resolution has banned any enrichment in Iran.

"We consider it necessary to respond to the US special representative for Iran Hook about the existence of some kind of 'UN standard' prohibiting the Islamic Republic of Iran from enriching uranium," the Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday.

The statement said the US claim accuses the UN Security Council of contradicting the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

"Unfortunately, such myth-making has long been part of the US approach toward nuclear non-proliferation ... In this case, we have, essentially, an accusation against the UN Security Council of making decisions contradicting the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)," the ministry added.

The statement also recalled that the aforementioned treaty allows the signatories to develop nuclear energy for non-military purposes.

It also noted that the NPT does not impose any restrictions on non-nuclear states in terms of uranium enrichment as long as they are under the IAEA control and pursue peaceful purposes.

"The NPT puts no limitations on the non-nuclear countries regarding uranium enrichment or developing other stages of the nuclear fuel cycle. There is only one condition: that all work must be directed toward peaceful ends and be under IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency ] supervision," the ministry noted.

The statement came after US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook told journalists on Friday about an alleged UN resolution passed in 2006 or 2007 prohibiting Tehran from uranium enrichment.

In 2015, Iran signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, and the European Union. The JCPOA required Iran to put certain limits on its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

In 2018, the United States abandoned the deal with Iran, and hit the Iranian economy with the "toughest sanctions ever".

On 8 May 2019, the first anniversary of the United States' unilateral withdrawal from the agreement, Iran announced a gradual reduction of its JCPOA obligations.

On 5 January, following the killing of Iran's top military commander Qasem Soleimani in a US attack near the Baghdad International Airport, Tehran said it was rolling back all its commitments under the JCPOA.

In reaction to Iran's move, European parties to the deal, which have failed to fulfill their commitments under the JCPOA, have threatened to take Iran's nuclear issue to the UN Security Council.

The E3 (Germany, UK, and France) formally triggered the dispute mechanism within the agreement, accusing Iran of having violated the accord. Iran would now be asked to resolve the so-called dispute with the European trio, and the process could ultimately lead to the re-imposition of the Security Council’s sanctions that were lifted by the accord.

In reaction to the threat, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday said that if Britain, France, and Germany continue their unjustifiable conduct and move to send Iran’s nuclear case to the United Nations Security Council, Tehran would have the option of leaving the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Zarif explained that Iran was the party to initially trigger the dispute mechanism in 2018 by sending three letters to the European Union to notify them of Tehran’s dissatisfaction with Europe’s non-commitment to the agreement. The Islamic Republic, he added, was then forced to resort to the nuclear countermeasures as the Europeans remained in violation of the accord.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/21/616694/Iran-russia-hook-misinformation-enrichment

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Bosnia atrocity families take Dutch state to European court

January 20, 2020

THE HAGUE: An association of women who lost relatives in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of nearly 8,000 Muslims on Monday filed a case in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against the Netherlands.

The Mothers of Srebenica has accused the Netherlands of failure to protect the men and boys against Bosnian Serb forces in what became the worst atrocity on European soil since World War II.

Representing families of the slaughtered, the group blames Dutch peacekeepers deployed in Srebrenica just a few months before the end of the Bosnian war.

Bosnian Serbs brushed aside the lightly armed “Dutchbat” blue helmets in a “safe area” where thousands of Muslims from surrounding villages had gathered.

“The mothers of Srebrenica have today filed a case against the Dutch state at the ECHR in Strasbourg,” lawyers Marco Gerritsen Simon van der Sluijs said in a statement, accusing the Netherlands of “not taking sufficient measures to protect” the population.

The case has been making its way through the Dutch courts since 2007, but has met little success.

The Dutch Supreme Court ruled last year that the Netherlands bore “very limited” responsibility for the massacre.

Lawyers for the victims’ group said that was a “totally arbitrary decision.”

“According to the Supreme Court, these men would probably have been killed whatever happened, even if they had been authorized to remain in the compound. There was however no factual debate about their chances of survival,” the lawyers wrote on Monday.

“That violates article 6 of the ECHR which stipulates the right to a fair trial.”

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1615771/world

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France: Seven men detained over plans for terror attack

Yusuf Ozcan  

21.01.2020

PARIS

Security forces detained seven men Monday who were believed to be planning a terrorist attack in France.

According to French media, the suspects, who are between the ages of 28 and 38, were detained by the country’s DGSI domestic intelligence agency in the city of Brest in northwestern France.

They were also believed to be planning to travel to conflict zones in Iraq and Syria.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/france-seven-men-detained-over-plans-for-terror-attack/1708852

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Demonstrators protest Egyptian President Sisi in London

Ilyas Tayfun Salci  

20.01.2020

LONDON

Demonstrators protested on Monday against Egypt's president in London, where he is attending a U.K.-Africa investment summit upon the invitation of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Protesters gathered upon the call of the Istanbul-based Egyptian Revolutionary Council in front of the Intercontinental Hotel O2, where the summit is being held, and chanted slogans and held posters against Johnson and Egypt's Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The head of Egyptian Revolutionary Council Maha Azzam told Anadolu Agency that all "free Egyptians" had gathered there to protest the presence of Sisi.

"General Sisi is a killer, he is a killer of innocent Egyptians," Azzam stressed.

Azzam said the group had also submitted a request for Sisi's arrest for committing torture.

Full report at:

Morsi was ousted in a military coup by Sisi in 2013 and died during trial last June.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/demonstrators-protest-egyptian-president-sisi-in-london/1708770

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UK: Legal group urges arrest warrant for Egypt’s Sisi

Hasan Esen  

20.01.2020

LONDON

A legal chambers in the U.K. has called on judicial authorities to issue an arrest warrant for the incumbent Egyptian president for his role in the death of Mohamed Morsi, the country's first democratically-elected president.

The International Justice Chambers (Guernica 37) in a statement late on Sunday urged the London counter-terrorism units to launch a probe into “credible allegations of torture made against the Egyptian government and state organs.”

The call came ahead of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s expected visit to the U.K. where he will participate in an investment summit seeking to strengthen ties between London and African nations.

Morsi was ousted in a military coup by Sisi in 2013 and died during trial last June.

At the time of his death, Morsi faced a host of legal charges, which he, along with numerous human rights groups and independent observers, said were politically motivated.

The statement went on to say that there was concrete evidence suggesting the military junta’s treatment killed Morsi and that his death was intentional.

It added that it was unlikely that Sisi was unaware of the torture Morsi suffered in prison.

The legal chambers said the U.K. was responsible for taking action on torture-related crimes no matter where it was committed, adding relevant steps had to be taken regarding Sisi’s visit to the kingdom.

They had previously urged the UN to launch an independent probe into Morsi’s death.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/uk-legal-group-urges-arrest-warrant-for-egypt-s-sisi/1708091

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