New Age Islam
Wed Nov 25 2020, 07:55 PM

Islamic World News ( 19 Oct 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Ram Janmabhoomi Babri Masjid Dispute Case, Muslim Litigants Have Said They Will Not Build the Mosque For The Sake Of Country’s Peace and Harmony







India: Clerics to Educate Uttar Pradesh Muslims on NRC Documents

Stop Kartarpur Link If You Can: Pakistan To PM Modi

Pakistan to ban Ansar Ul Islam, a JUI-F outfit

Muslim-Majority UAE Commits to Rebuilding 2 Churches Destroyed By ISIS in Iraq

Saudi Arabia Vows To Promote Moderate Values

Mujahid: Opposition Luring Us into Racial Issues, But Pakatan Committed To Unity

Dialog, Diplomacy Can Solve Tensions between Iran, Some Arab Countries: Qatar

Mcconnell: Trump's Syria Withdrawal Is 'Strategic Nightmare' For Israel

Local Muslim Community Comes Together For Annual 'Feed The Hungry' Event

Special Forces Kill 16 ISIS And Taliban Militants, Destroy Caches of Weapons In 3 Provinces

50 Militants Killed, Dozens Of Captured Soldiers Freed In Mali: Army

 

India

Ram Janmabhoomi Babri Masjid Dispute Case, Muslim Litigants Have Said They Will Not Build the Mosque For The Sake Of Country’s Peace and Harmony

India: Clerics to Educate Uttar Pradesh Muslims on NRC Documents

Ayodhya case: All parties repeat their claims before SC in written submissions

Malaysia, Turkey face India’s ire over support to Pakistan on Kashmir

British Indian groups incensed at Corbyn’s reply to their letter over party’s ‘divisive’ Kashmir motion

Hindu outfit lodges complaint against Muslim parties' counsel for tearing up Ram Lalla birthplace map

In Assam’s Muslim-majority Jania, NRC is on everyone’s mind

Indian Army causes heavy damage on Pak side after 2 soldiers, 1 civilian killed in ceasefire violation

Hizbul posters warn students against appearing for exams

Manmohan said he will visit Kartarpur gurdwara as ‘ordinary man’, claims Pakistan Foreign Minister

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Pakistan

Stop Kartarpur Link If You Can: Pakistan To PM Modi

Pakistan to ban Ansar Ul Islam, a JUI-F outfit

Interior ministry seeks ban on JUI-F ‘militant wing’

Govt won’t tolerate religious exploitation: Dr Firdous

Mufti Naeem urges seminarians to stay away from politics

Mufti Naeem opposes dragging madrassa students into politics

JUI-F’s sit-in still in ‘grey list’, says Sheikh Rasheed

Asma Jahangir Conference: Journalists vow to report facts, resist attacks on press freedom

Pakistan silences army's critics with raids, terror charges

PM heaps praise on team for ‘economic turnaround’

SJC secretary denies allegations levelled by Justice Isa

Pakistan PM Imran Khan won't resign under any circumstances'': Govt on Oppn's Azadi March

Right to protest constitutional, says PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal

Imran asks ministries, provinces to bring down wheat, sugar prices

Govt to ban JUI-F’s Ansarul Islam wing

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Arab World

Muslim-Majority UAE Commits to Rebuilding 2 Churches Destroyed By ISIS in Iraq

Saudi Arabia Vows To Promote Moderate Values

Jumblatt denies move for his ministers to resign from Hariri cabinet

Lebanon’s interior minister did not resign, her office confirms

Lebanese cabinet to convene to discuss way out of crisis

Saudi Arabia successfully evacuates its citizens from Lebanon

Russian officials discuss with Assad de-escalating tensions in northeast Syria

Thousands of demonstrators fill Lebanon’s streets in third day of fiery protests

Hezbollah’s Nasrallah: We do not support resignation of Lebanese government

Nasrallah says opposed to government resignation, won't let anyone burn Lebanon

Amid turmoil, Lebanese Forces ministers quit coalition government

Lebanese protesters reject Hezbollah leader’s speech

Egypt unveils trove of ancient coffins excavated in Luxor

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Southeast Asia

Mujahid: Opposition Luring Us into Racial Issues, But Pakatan Committed To Unity

Discipline entire DAP by kicking them out of Pakatan govt, suggests PAS MP

Syed Saddiq again labels Hew ‘super stupid’ over pro-China propaganda

Indonesia’s Jokowi kicks off fresh term after wave of crises

As Indonesia's Widodo prepares for second term, challenges await

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Mideast

Dialog, Diplomacy Can Solve Tensions between Iran, Some Arab Countries: Qatar

Turkey, Kurdish militants accuse each other of violating truce

Turkey accused of using illegal phosphorus munitions in Syria

Erdogan ‘will resume Syria offensive if cease-fire deal falters’

Turkey urges US to use ‘leverage’ to ensure Kurdish force pullout

Russia doesn’t rule out new contract to supply air defense systems to Turkey

Huge processions held in Karbala as millions mark Arba'een

Erdogan threatens to crush heads of Kurdish forces if they refuse to withdraw

UN, WHO fail to open humanitarian medical air bridge for Yemenis: Health minister

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North America

Mcconnell: Trump's Syria Withdrawal Is 'Strategic Nightmare' For Israel

All US Troops Withdrawing From Syria Expected To Go To Western Iraq: Pentagon Chief

Pompeo says US committed to Afghan peace after deadly explosions

Trump’s remarks about Turkey highlights his ‘arrogance’: Analyst

Turkey-US deal can help to de-escalate situation in Syria: NATO

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Europe

Local Muslim Community Comes Together For Annual 'Feed The Hungry' Event

Iraqi charged in Australia over deadly trafficking ring

Russia says new deal to supply air defense systems to Turkey highly likely

Bosnia’s migrant crisis reveals EU’s moral blind spot

Iraqi charged in Australia over deadly trafficking ring

Turkish-Mexican national arrested in Cambodia amid alleged Gulen links

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South Asia

Bangladesh Indicts 8 for 2015 Killing Of Publisher

Special Forces Kill 16 ISIS And Taliban Militants, Destroy Caches of Weapons In 3 Provinces

Afghans search for bodies after at least 69 killed in mosque explosions

10 Taliban and ISIS militants killed, detained in Special Forces raids in 4 provinces

ISIS militant hailing from Iran surrenders to Afghan forces in Nangarhar

Pakistani couple arrested in the restive Kunduz province of Afghanistan

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Africa

50 Militants Killed, Dozens Of Captured Soldiers Freed In Mali: Army

Over 20 al-Shabaab militants killed in central Somalia

S.Sudan rebel leader in Juba for talks as peace deal falters

Niger floods force 23,000 from their homes

Police free nearly 150 from school in northern Nigeria

Libya’s navy intercepts about 150 Europe-bound migrants

Kenyan police launch manhunt for Al-Shabaab commander in border region

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/ram-janmabhoomi-babri-masjid-dispute-case,-muslim-litigants-have-said-they-will-not-build-the-mosque-for-the-sake-of-country’s-peace-and-harmony/d/120040

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Ram Janmabhoomi Babri Masjid Dispute Case, Muslim Litigants Have Said They Will Not Build the Mosque For The Sake Of Country’s Peace and Harmony

October 20, 2019

Ayodhya: Concerned over the possible post-verdict situation in the Ram Janmabhoomi Babri Masjid dispute case, Muslim litigants have said they will not build the mosque for the sake of country’s peace and harmony. “This is my personal opinion. Keeping in view the present situation of the country, I will take my proposal to the other litigants to discuss it further,” added Muslim Litigant Haji Mehboob.

Mufti Hasbullah Baadshah Khan, a litigant from the Muslim side and local President of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, reacting to Haji Mehboob’s statement said, “It is correct that we must have to take care of communal harmony first. We will discuss the situation with senior Muslim religious leaders. In the present scenario, we should postpone the construction of the mosque if a verdict comes in our favour.”

Mohammad Umar, another Muslim litigant, said, “I agree, if we have to postpone the construction of a mosque, we must (do so) to take care of peace and communal harmony and peace in the society.”

https://www.freepressjournal.in/india/muslim-litigants-not-to-build-mosque-if-verdict-in-favour

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India: Clerics to educate Uttar Pradesh Muslims on NRC documents

October 20, 2019

Lucknow: The 150-year-old Idara-e-Sharia at Firangi Mahali will now tell Muslims in Uttar Pradesh to keep 22 documents required for the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

The documents include certificates of inheritance, birth, education and bank, refugee registration, as well as family ledgers among other identity proof.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has already said that that NRC will be implemented in the entire country and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has also indicated a phased rollout of NRC in the state.

"After the NRC programme in Assam, there is a definite fear among Muslims about its consequences if implemented in Uttar Pradesh," said Maulana Affan Atiq Firangi Maheli, General Secretary, Idara-e-Sharia.

"Muslims are usually careless about maintaining their documents and need to be pushed. Nobody had even imagined that they would, one day, have to prove their nationality. But we have to be prepared and keep the community prepared."

Printed handouts in Hindi and Urdu with details of the NRC history, the Indian Citizenship Act of 1955 and the performa will also be floated in social media for maximum coverage.

Mosques, madrasas and clerics will disseminate this information within the community.

The appeal from Maulana Abul Ifran Firangi Maheli will also request the poor and uninitiated in the Muslim community to keep the 22 documents ready but also make any changes required to be taken up in their voter cards and voter lists, Aadhar cards and other documents of identification.

"The exercise will also reduce burden of the government machinery when the listing is taken up. This will eliminate any last minute human errors that could put a citizen's nationality at stake," added Maulana Affan.

https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/india/india-clerics-to-educate-uttar-pradesh-muslims-on-nrc-documents-1.1571545560623

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Stop Kartarpur link if you can: Pakistan to PM Modi

Oct 20, 2019

AMRITSAR: Just three weeks ahead of the scheduled inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor, Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has dared India to halt it.

"Rok sako to rok lo" (Stop it if you can), he said in a speech telecast on a Pakistan TV channel on Saturday. "The Kartarpur corridor is going to open, whether India wishes so or not," he added.

Qureshi said there was enthusiasm in Indian Punjab that caravans were ready to roll for Kartarpur Sahib, and the BJP government did not have the guts to stop the Kartarpur link from becoming a reality.

Intelligence sources dismissed these utterances, saying that Pakistan had always used the Kashmir issue to divert attention and was now trying to use the Kartarpur corridor to stir Sikhs' religious sentiments for India bashing.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/stop-kartarpur-link-if-you-can-pakistan-to-pm-modi/articleshow/71669415.cms

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Pakistan to ban Ansar Ul Islam, a JUI-F outfit

19 OCTOBER 2019

Islamabad, Oct 19 (IANS) Pakistan has decided to ban militia Ansar ul Islam, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) outfit that has announced ''freedom march'' to remove Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The government has banned the organisation on grounds of challenging the government authority.

According to a report in Pakistani media, members of Ansar ul Islam wear yellow dresses and carry sticks in hands. Recently, they offered the Guard of Honour to JUI-F leader Maulana Fazal-ur-Rahman.

The Home Ministry is said to have secured the federal cabinet''s nod to ban the Ansar ul Islam. The proposal will be sent to the Law Ministry and the Election Commission.

The proposal reads: This force had carried a march in Peshawar carrying sticks wrapped with barbed wire. Their activities are challenging authority of the government. This force seems to getting prepared for a fight with the law enforcement agencies. Its formation as an armed force is against the Article 256 of the Constitution. Hence, it is being banned.

The federal cabinet has allowed the Home Ministry to hold talks with states in this regard.

According to the Law Ministry sources, the Home Ministry will have to issue a notification of ban on the outfit. The notification will have to be acknowledged by the Supreme Court. Only after the SC clearance, the organisation will be declared banned.

https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/pakistan-to-ban-ansar-ul-islam-a-juif-outfit/1644169

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Muslim-majority UAE commits to rebuilding 2 churches destroyed by ISIS in Iraq

By Samuel Smith, CP Reporter

October 19, 2019

The Muslim-majority United Arab Emirates announced plans this week to help rebuild two Christian churches destroyed by the Islamic State and said it's the first national government in the world to help rebuild Christian churches in postwar Iraq.

UAE has expanded its collaboration with a United Nations initiative called Revive the Spirit of Mosul. The initiative is an international effort to reconstruct Iraq’s once second-largest city ravaged by the Islamic State’s reign of destruction in the Nineveh region. 

According to a press release, a new agreement reiterating UAE’s support for the initiative was signed at the U.N.'s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization headquarters in Paris on Sunday.

The agreement serves as an extension to an agreement signed by UAE leaders in April 2018, in which the UAE government committed $50.4 million to help rebuild the city’s historic Grand Al-Nouri Mosque.

The new agreement commits UAE to restore the historic Al-Tahira Syriac-Catholic Church and Al-Saa’a Church in Mosul, a city that was conquered by the Islamic State terrorist group in 2014 and officially liberated by U.S.-backed coalition forces in July 2017.

According to the France-based charity Mesopotamian Heritage, At-Tahira is a centuries-old church that was bombarded during the mass raids on Mosul in 2017. The roof has collapsed but the royal door and side doors remain standing. To make matters worse, shoddy postwar reconstruction work worsened the condition of the historic building.

Al-Saa’a is also known as The Clock Church because it was gifted a clock by Empress Eugenie of France, the wife of Emperor Napoleon III. The clock was affixed to a tower.  The church was built by Dominican fathers in the 1870s. According to The Telegraph, the church was blown up by Islamic State terrorists in 2016.

In addition to the church restorations, UAE’s new agreement with UNESCO includes the construction of a museum and memorial site that could create as many as 1,000 jobs. According to the release, the new institutions will also help the city’s tourism economy.

The project has already employed 27 Iraqis and contracted four Iraqi companies.

"We are honored to sign this partnership with UNESCO and Iraq,” UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development Noura Al Kaabi said during the signing.

“Our work with UNESCO is a testament to UAE's commitment to furthering the organization’s mandate. Today's signing is a pioneering partnership that sends a message of light, in seemingly darker times. As we break ground in the reconstruction, UAE becomes the first country in the world to rebuild Christian churches in Iraq."

According to Gulf  News, UNESCO General Director Audrey Azoulay said the new restoration projects aim to “reclaim the true spirit” of Mosul as being a “peaceful coexistence between different religious and ethnic groups.”

“I am thankful to the United Arab Emirates and Minister Al Kaabi who have generously supported our initiative since the beginning, and who believe, as we do, that there is no true reconstruction and revival without Culture and Education.”

UAE’s vow to help rebuild Christian churches in Mosul comes as the Persian Gulf country has marked 2019 as its “Year of Tolerance.” UAE has been one of the most devoted Middle Eastern nations when it comes to promoting the idea of religious freedom and tolerance in the last few years.

Earlier this year, UAE hosted a regional religious freedom summit and hosted the first papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula. Most recently, plans were announced for the construction of the Abrahamic Family House — an interfaith complex that will house a church, synagogue, and mosque — Saadiyat Island near Abu Dhabi.

Although the UAE boasts that it is the first country to rebuild Christian churches in Mosul, the United States has given $400 million in assistance to help to resettle and rebuilding efforts in northern Iraq.

https://www.christianpost.com/news/muslim-majority-uae-commits-to-rebuilding-2-churches-destroyed-by-isis-in-iraq.html

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Saudi Arabia Vows To Promote Moderate Values

October 20, 2019

NEW YORK: At a UN specialized sub-committee meeting as part of the 74th general assembly deliberations, Saudi Arabia stressed its keenness, through its media, to consolidate the approach of moderation, respect for rights and justice, reduce hate speech and combat extremism, and not allow terrorist and extremist groups to use media platforms to spread hatred and violence.

In a key speech before the Special Political Committee (Fourth Committee), Second Secretary Ibrahim bin Suleiman Al-Turki, a member of the Kingdom’s permanent delegation to the UN, talked about moderation enhancement and combating terrorism, as well as other issues concerning respecting rights and justice.

Al-Turki noted that the Kingdom’s government works through its media to highlight its economic, cultural and social mission, reflect the real image of the Saudi community and confirm to the whole world that Saudi citizens accept others and desire an intercultural dialogue.

He said: “My country hopes that the UN exerts more effort to carry out its responsibilities toward media outlets that incite hatred, extremism, violence and sabotage, strike to disturb security and stability, spread false reports, insult human dignity and abuse human rights.”

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1571361/saudi-arabia

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Mujahid: Opposition luring us into racial issues, but Pakatan committed to unity

19 Oct 2019

PETALING JAYA: The Pakatan Harapan government is committed to national unity but is constantly being "lured" by the Opposition into engaging in racial and religious issues, says Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Mujahid Yusof.

The Minister in charge of Islamic Affairs said that as much as national unity was an "ideal", the government also had to look at the practicality of winning a second term.

"The opposition is trying to lure us into (issues of) race and religion, but at the moment, we refuse to do so.

"Our new narrative of Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 is 'compassionate Islam' and other progressive ideas as we usher in Malaysia Baru. It has only been one year and a half (as government).

"You should give us more time to address this issue, and at the same time, we are concerned about our constituencies. Failing to be the government for a second term would defeat all our ideas.

"We are talking about ideals and practicalities and how to handle them carefully," said Mujahid to the media after a keynote address at the fifth annual conference of Persatuan Promosi Harmoni Malaysia (Harmony Malaysia) at the Institute Of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) here on Saturday (Oct 19).

The event, themed "Education and culture in the promotion of harmony and national integration", was attended by religious leaders and civil society leaders.

Earlier, in his speech, Mujahid said despite the change in government, Pakatan had to continue fire-fighting racial and religious issues as they were still being bandied about.

He also said that Pakatan emphasises a "compassionate state" that catered to everyone's beliefs and rights, despite upholding Islam as the official religion.

"One of the reasons people accepted Pakatan is because of our ideals (equality for all races). But I must warn you that looking into the statistics and numbers, in Malaysia, we cannot avoid the fact that when politicians speak, we speak to the consideration of our constituents, divided into Malay, Chinese and Indians.

"Chinese and Indians gave the full mandate and support to this government to come into power. As for the Malays, we only got 20%.

"That 20% is unfortunately decreasing.

"The pressure of post-2018 – most of the issues played up are about race and religion. Here we go again round the (racial) bush," said Mujahid.

He said the government was always being told to "protect the Malays".

"Yes, we will protect the Malays, but not the corrupt Malays," said Mujahid.

He also said there was too much emphasis on race among Malaysians in Malaysia Baru.

"We must do away with such thinking, not as Chinese-Malaysian, Indian-Malaysian or Malays. All of the factors that come into view when we are disintegrated come from mistrust.

"You can see it every day in our lives.

"When you bump into someone in an accident on the roads, our reaction is whether the person is Chinese, Indian or Malay.

"The spontaneous reaction that comes to be is – does it not hurt a Chinese in an accident? Does it not hurt a Malay? Does it not hurt an Indian?

"This spontaneous reaction we have actually defines how Malaysians see things. Unfortunately, to this day, not all of us see fellow Malaysians as other fellow Malaysians," said Mujahid.

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/10/19/mujahid-opposition-luring-us-into-racial-issues-but-pakatan-committed-to-unity

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Dialog, diplomacy can solve tensions between Iran, some Arab countries: Qatar

Oct 19, 2019

Qatar says Iran and some Arab countries can solve their existing tensions through "constructive dialog and diplomacy."

"The tension is not sectarian, as it appears to some; rather it is a power and influence struggle in the region between two different poles," the Qatari spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lolwah al-khater, said in response to a question about the nature of the tension between some Arab nations and Iran, on the sidelines of a panel titled "Middle East- Is Anyone Still Looking for a Solution."

Tensions have been high in the Persian Gulf after a series of suspicious explosions targeted oil tankers crossing the Strait of Hormuz earlier this year.

Speaking during a joint press conference with the visiting Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan in Tehran earlier this month, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said no country can create insecurity in the Persian Gulf region and simply get away with it.

"If a country thinks they can create insecurity in the region without getting an answer, they are totally mistaken," Iran's president said.

Elsewhere in her speech, al-Khater stressed the importance of settling regional issues through independent will of all countries in the region, saying such determination should represent their collective interests and separate the accounts of international players.

She added that the ability to effectively deal with problems will increase if external interests are not taken into consideration.

Al-Khater's remarks came a few days after Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said relations between Doha and Tehran are based on mutual interests.

Speaking at a session held within the framework of the 2019 Global Security Forum on October 15, the Qatari minister added, "Iran is a neighbor to us, and since the inception of the State of Qatar we have not seen any violent or aggressive behavior."

He admitted that Iran and Qatar have disagreements on many regional issues, saying, "We do not endorse some of their activities, and they do not endorse some of our activities.”

“But there is an understanding that we are neighbors and we must coexist, and this relationship is based on mutual respect,” he added.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/19/609068/khater-Iran-Qatar-Persian-Gulf-diplomacy-Middle-East

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McConnell: Trump's Syria withdrawal is 'strategic nightmare' for Israel

Oct 19, 2019

US Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has called President Donald Trump's decision to pull out troops from Syria "a strategic nightmare" for Washington's allies, such as Israel and Jordan.

"Withdrawing US forces from Syria is a grave strategic mistake," McConnell, the top Republican in Congress, wrote in an op-ed published in The Washington Post on Friday.

"It will leave the American people and homeland less safe, embolden our enemies, and weaken important alliances,” he added.

Turkey last week began pounding the positions of Kurdish fighters with jets and artillery and sent in troops to purge them from the area east of Euphrates.

The offensive came three days after Trump announced he would pull US troops from the region, effectively exposing its allied Kurdish militants to their archenemy, Turkey.

Trump defended his decision to pull US troops out of Syria as "strategically brilliant."

McConnell has condemned Trump's withdrawal of troops from northeast Syria.

Fighting has continued despite a temporary ceasefire Vice President Mike Pence brokered with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"The combination of a US pullback and the escalating Turkish-Kurdish hostilities is creating a strategic nightmare for our country," McConnell wrote in his article.

"Even if the five-day ceasefire announced Thursday holds, events of the past week have set back the United States' campaign against [Daesh] and other terrorists," he said.

On Thursday, US Vice President Mike Pence said Washington and Ankara had agreed on a five-day ceasefire in Turkey's attacks on Kurdish fighters in the region. The agreement followed negotiations between Pence and Erdogan at the presidential palace in Ankara.

Pence said Ankara would halt its offensive, dubbed Operation Peace Spring, for 120 hours in order to allow Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG) to withdraw 30 kilometers from the Turkey-Syria border.

"We saw [Daesh] flourish in Iraq after President Barack Obama's retreat. We will see these things anew in Syria and Afghanistan if we abandon our partners and retreat from these conflicts before they are won," McConnell wrote.

McConnell’s remarks come as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said Israel has "fundamental rights" and retains "operational freedom" to operate in Syria.

Israeli politicians have expressed concerns that the US pullout from Syria will further strengthen Iran’s position as a regional power at a time when Damascus is eliminating the last remnants of terrorists and reasserting control over all the country.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/19/609084/Trumps-withdrawal-strategic-nightmare-for-Israel

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Local Muslim community comes together for annual 'Feed the Hungry' event

Oct 19, 2019

PARMA, Ohio — Saturday, dozens of volunteers from across the Cleveland area came together to give thousands of healthy meals to those who need them most. It's part of the nationwide "Feed the Hungry" campaign.

This is the second year that Cleveland has been a part of this campaign – and its one of seventeen cities helping out across the country.

"Feed the Hungry" was created five years ago by Pious Projects. It's a non-profit that allows people to participate in humanitarian projects all over the world.

For Cleveland’s campaign, nearly one hundred volunteers gathered at the Islamic Center to put together 2,000 bagged meals. Then, they gave them out to several local homeless shelters.

The local campaign is spearheaded by a group of local Muslims who say the mission goes hand in hand with the teachings of the faith.

"Its in our Quran which is our book that we follow. It says that you should never discriminate. It doesn't matter what religion, race, or ethnicity, it doesn't matter where they're from that as long as you have a hungry friend or a neighbor, you should feed them. That is part of your duty as a Muslim,” Yamamah Rashid, one of the organizers of the Cleveland event, said.

All of the food for the meals is 100% donated. Volunteers also put handwritten notes and drawings on each bag.

“Our Cleveland Muslim community is very strong. We all want to help each other out, but I was getting donations from California, Michigan, New York, Texas. Just from family and other friends that we all know and have that are out of state that will just send us anything to help out,” Amana Zahriyeh, another organizer of the event, said.

If you want to get involved with the campaign next year, contact Pious Projects who will then connect you with local organizers. Preparations typically start two months before the event is scheduled.

https://www.news5cleveland.com/news/local-news/oh-cuyahoga/local-muslim-community-comes-together-for-annual-feed-the-hungry-event

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Special Forces kill 16 ISIS and Taliban militants, destroy caches of weapons in 3 provinces

19 Oct 2019

The Afghan Special Forces killed 16 militants of the Taliban and ISIS groups and destroyed caches of weapons in three provinces in the past 24 hours.

The military officials said the Special Forces also arrested 8 Taliban militants during the same operations.

The officials further added that the Special Forces killed the 10 ISIS militants in Achin district of Nangarhar province.

The Special Forces also destroyed a small cache of weapons during the same operation, the officials added.

Furthermore, the Special Forces killed 2 Taliban militants, arrested 6 others and destroyed a cache of weapons in Jaghatu district of Wardak province.

The Special Forces killed Taliban militants and arrested 2 others during an operation in Maiwand district of Kandahar province.

https://www.khaama.com/special-forces-kill-16-isis-and-taliban-militants-destroy-caches-of-weapons-in-3-provinces-04241/

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50 militants killed, dozens of captured soldiers freed in Mali: Army

Oct 19, 2019

The Malian military says its troops have killed around 50 militants in a counterterrorism operation, during which dozens of the soldiers captured in deadly attacks by terror outfits last month were also rescued.

In late September, unidentified assailants launched attacks on two army’s bases in the center of the African country, killing 38 soldiers and captured dozens of others.

The attacks are considered among the heaviest losses for Mali’s army since January as it struggles to fend off increasingly brazen raids by terror outfits, some with links to the al-Qaeda and Daesh Takfiri terrorist groups.

“Around 50 enemy neutralized, around 30 wounded, and equipment destroyed,” the army said in statement on Saturday, detailing the results of its counter-operation against militants.

It added that the army also managed to free 36 of around 60 of its troopers who had been missing following the September attacks.

Since 2012, Mali has been in a persisting conflict after Takfiri terrorists hijacked an uprising by Tuareg people, a large Berber ethnic confederation living across the Sahara Desert, in the north. During the past seven years, the violence has moved to central Mali, from where Takfiri terrorists launch attacks across the Sahel region.

Separately, pro-government Tuareg militia GATIA also said on Saturday that six of its fighters had lost their lives in an overnight raid by pro-government Tuareg militia GATIA on one of its outposts in the country’s northern region of Kidal.

Groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and Daesh have used central and northern Mali as a launch pad for growing numbers of attacks across the Sahel region, especially on neighbors Niger and Burkina Faso, despite the presence of 4,500 French troops, who help the Malian army to push back terrorists.  

Malians have become increasingly frustrated with the failure of the authorities to end the frequent attacks by militant groups, as well as increasing tit-for-tat ethnic killings between farmers and herders, which have also surged this year.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/19/609074/Mali-

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India

 

Ayodhya case: All parties repeat their claims before SC in written submissions

Sanjay Sharma

New Delhi

October 19, 2019

Parties involved in the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land title case have submitted their written submissions as part of the moulding of relief before the Supreme Court today. This comes three days after the Supreme Court completed the marathon 40-day hearing in the case and reserved its verdict. The court had allowed three-day time to all parties to submit their written submissions. This was in addition to arguments made by the parties during the 40-day long hearing.

The written submissions have been made as moulding of relief which basically means narrowing down of the arguments and telling the court what specific points a party wants it to adjudicate on.

All parties have reiterated their demands made by them during the court hearings.

A five-member constitution bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, was hearing the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case. The bench is likely to deliver its verdict in November when CJI Gogoi retires.

Besides the oral and written submissions of the involved parties, the three-member mediation panel appointed by the Supreme Court has also submitted its report. The panel was tasked to reach out to different parties involved in the case and explore ways to arrive at an amicable solution.

Following are the written replies submitted by different parties before the Supreme Court today as moulding of relief:

Nirmohi Akhara

1) In case the verdict comes in favour of any of the Hindu parties, the Akhara should retain the right to serve the deity.

2) Permission to construct a Ram temple at the disputed site and Nirmohi Akhara should be given the rights to manage the premises once the temple has been built.

3) In case the court decides to uphold the 2010 Allahabad High Court's verdict and the Muslim parties say they won't make any construction at the disputed site, the court should instruct the Muslim parties to give their share of the land to the Hindu parties on a long-term lease so that a grand Ram temple can be built. (The Allahabad High Court verdict had divided the disputed land into three parts-the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla)

4) The court should order the government to provide land to the Muslim side to construct a mosque outside the dispute area.

Ram Lalla Virajman

1) The written submission made on behalf of Ram Lalla Virajman says the court should give the entire disputed land to Ram Lalla.

2) The submission said no part of the disputed land should be given to the Nirmohi Akhara or the Muslim parties.

Ram Janmabhoomi Punarudhar Samiti

1) Only a Ram temple should be allowed to be constructed at the disputed site in Ayodhya.

2) Once the temple is constructed, a trust should be formed to look after its management.

Gopal Singh Visharad

1) Gopal Singh Visharad, whose ancestors had reportedly carried out rituals at the temple site for ages, argued that it is his constitutional right to offer prayers at Ram Janmabhoomi.

2) His submission said there should be no compromise in the Ram Janmabhoomi case.

Sunni Waqf Board

1) The Board said it wants the same relief that it argued during court hearings. During the hearings, the Board's counsel Rajeev Dhawan had demanded that the Babri Masjid should be restored to its form before it was destroyed on December 6, 1992.

Hindu Mahasabha

1) The Supreme Court should form a trust that will oversee the management of the Ram temple that will be built at the disputed site in Ayodhya.

2) The Supreme Court should appoint an administrator that will look after this trust.

Shia Waqf Board

1) In our moulding relief to before the Allahabad High Court, we had said the Muslim parties should relinquish their claim over the disputed land and hand it over to the Hindu parties to construct a Ram temple.

2) In its written submission, the Shia Waqf Board said a Ram temple should be constructed at the disputed site in Ayodhya.

3) It said the Shia Waqf Board is rightful owner of the disputed land, not the Sunni Waqf Board.

4) The land that was given to the Sunni Waqf Board in the high court order should be now given to the Hindu parties.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/ayodhya-case-all-parties-repeat-their-claims-before-sc-in-written-submissions-1611030-2019-10-19

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Malaysia, Turkey face India’s ire over support to Pakistan on Kashmir

Oct 20, 2019

NEW DELHI: Turkey and Malaysia are feeling the heat of India's ire as New Delhi weighs leveraging its market and economic muscle to retaliate against the two for their public statements on Kashmir as well as support to Pakistan at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

For the present, the Indian government is content to allow popular discontent to show itself as traders stop buying Malaysian palm oil and social media trends with #boycottmalaysia.

Reports have quoted industry representatives as saying Indian importers and refiners are moving palm oil purchases from Malaysia to Indonesia. India is the world's largest buyer of palm oil. The government will watch for reactions from Malaysia before taking the next step.

Putting a brave face on it, Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad was quoted as saying that his government would "work diplomatically" with India to resolve the trade problems if indeed India did take such action. There has been no official word from India, and for the moment the Modi government plans to keep it that way. Traders though are sensing a growing government chill towards Malaysia and this is impacting their buying behaviour.

"We haven't received anything officially. This is the reaction from the business community. Hence, we can't react to their personal decisions ... If the government launched a boycott or something like that, then we will have to work diplomatically or reduce the kind of action they've taken," Mahathir told the media. Reports said Malaysia may up its purchases of bovine meat from India to placate New Delhi.

India has already taken action against Turkish defence company Anadolu Shipyard that builds support ships for the Indian Navy, barring it from the huge Indian defence market. In addition to Turkey's open support for Pakistan, it appears Turkey is building ships for Pakistan's navy as well. Media reports have quoted Indian defence ministry officials as saying that this made the Turkish firm a security threat. Just recently, India took a tough stand against Turkey's decision to invade Syria, unusual by Indian government standards.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-turns-up-heat-on-malaysia-turkey/articleshow/71669384.cms

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British Indian groups incensed at Corbyn’s reply to their letter over party’s ‘divisive’ Kashmir motion

Oct 19, 2019

LONDON: British Indian organisations are incensed at opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn’s response to a letter they sent him to highlight their dismay at his party’s Kashmir motion, which they said was dividing communities in Britain and destroying diplomatic relations with India.

The motion, passed at the party’s annual conference, states the people of Kashmir should be given the right of self-determination and calls for international observers to enter the region.

Corbyn, in a response sent on Friday, inflamed the situation further by — rather than distancing himself from the motion — actually embracing it.

Whilst admitting “some of the language used could be misinterpreted”, he wrote in his reply: “The Labour Party is gravely concerned at the ongoing human rights crisis in Kashmir, as well as the media and communications lockdown. There is an urgent need for India and Pakistan to work together on a bilateral basis, with the support of the international community, to reach a peaceful political solution which protects the human rights of the Kashmiri people and respects their right to have a say in their own future.”

“Many in the community will be incensed,” said Alpesh Patel, who chaired a meeting with the 50 of organisations on Wednesday. “We were not expecting him to revoke or amend it as he cannot unilaterally do that. But we were expecting him to distance himself from the motion and say he doesn’t support it. But his letter says he stands by the motion and will continue interfering in India. I appreciate Corbyn is totally handcuffed from ever saying ‘Pakistani sponsored terrorism in Kashmir is the cause of human rights deprivation when Indians are killed’. He is gagged by a minority in his party. We shall reply in due course.”

Vinod Tikoo, founder member of the Kashmiri Pandits Cultural Society UK, one of the 117 organisations which signed the letter to Corbyn, said: “More than 500,000 Hindu minorities from Kashmir have been ethically exterminated out of Kashmir by jihadis and have a strong community in the UK. They haven’t been consulted. It seems Jeremy is only concerned about the vote bank of a particular community who have infiltrated Labour and are spreading antisemitism and anti-India values.”

Trupti Patel, president of the Hindu Forum Britain, another signatory, said Corbyn was a “fake multicultural leader” who supported vote bank policies.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/british-indian-groups-incensed-at-corbyns-reply-to-their-letter-over-partys-divisive-kashmir-motion/articleshow/71667812.cms

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Hindu outfit lodges complaint against Muslim parties' counsel for tearing up Ram Lalla birthplace map

Sanjay Sharma

October 17, 2019

The Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha has lodged a complaint with the Bar Council of India on Thursday against Rajeev Dhavan, counsel for Muslim parties in the Ayodhya dispute, for tearing up the map of Lord Ram's birthplace at the Ram Janmabhoomi.

In a letter addressed to the Bar Council Chairman, the Hindu outfit has said Rajeev Dhavan's act of tearing up a piece of paper in the courtroom has brought "disrepute to the Supreme Court Bar".

The Mahasabha has demanded that the Bar Council takes cognizance of the matter and takes immediate action against the counsel who is representing the Muslim parties in the Ayodhya land dispute case that was heard for the final and 40th day on Wednesday.

As the 40th day of the Ayodhya hearing unfolded in Supreme Court on Thursday, high drama gripped the courtroom. The Hindu Mahasabha handed tried to present a fresh piece of evidence on the last day of the hearing when Rajeev Dhavan raised an objection.

Dhavan, who represents the Sunni Waqf Board and other Muslim parties, took strong objection to the pictorial map that the Mahasabha was trying to bring up to show the exact birthplace of Lord Ram.

Dhavan said such documents (maps) cannot be relied upon in the matter now as the issue of location of 'janmsthan' was discussed by the Allahabad High Court on other documents.

When he vigorously raised objections to the reliance on the pictorial map, which is also part of the book 'Ayodhya Revisited' by former Bihar cadre IPS officer Kishore Kunal, Singh said he will not press the pictorial map to be taken on record.

Dhavan then asked the 5-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi as to what he should do with it (map). CJI Gogoi told him that he is free to shred the documents into pieces.

CJI Gogoi also asked if he can take the book with him and read it even after November. CJI Gogoi is retiring on November 17.

Dhavan then tore the pictorial map in the courtroom adding much drama to the already heated scene in the Supreme Court. He left the packed courtroom in shock as the bench, lawyers and media personnel looked on.

The drama did not end there and during the hearing in the post lunch session, Dhavan again referred to the pre-lunch incident of his tearing off the papers and said that "outside the court, it has become viral".

Full report at:

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/akhil-bharat-hindu-mahasabha-complaint-against-rajeev-dhavan-supreme-court-ayodhya-hearing-1610257-2019-10-17

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In Assam’s Muslim-majority Jania, NRC is on everyone’s mind

by Abhishek Saha

October 20, 2019

Hafizur Rehman, a farmer at Kalgachia in Assam’s Barpeta district, is a Doubtful Voter (D-Voter) and hence has not been included in the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) published in August. He won’t be able to vote in the upcoming Jania bypolls, but believes that All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) candidate Hafiz Rafiqul Islam is the strongest contestant.

Rehman’s neighbour Abu Salem Yusuf agrees. “The AIUDF is the only party which is committed to speak up for people facing the brunt of the citizenship tangle.” Firdous Ali, a student leader in Kalgachia, says, “Here, the biggest discussion going on is about the NRC and how lakhs of genuine Indians have been excluded from it. People who have all papers and documents have been left out. And we know which party is committed to helping the poor and illiterate people in solving their citizenship issues.”

Jania, a Muslim-majority constituency, is among four Assembly seats scheduled for bypolls on October 21. Historically a Congress stronghold, in the 2016 state elections, Congress’s Abdul Khaleque defeated Islam by around 30,000 votes, garnering 56.4 per cent of the vote share. Khaleque would go on to win the recent Lok Sabha elections, necessitating the bypoll.

Monday’s bypolls are the first elections in Assam following the publication of the final NRC, and much of the political narrative in the state currently is driven by conversation around the list. In Assam’s Brahmaputra valley, where Barpeta lies, a large number of Muslims of Bengal-origin are supposed to have been excluded from the NRC, although an official break-up is not available.

However, the Congress’s star is on the wane, and many in Jania are seemingly looking at AIUDF’s Islam as a viable candidate.

Amir Ali, a resident of Jania town, says, “The AIUDF candidate is much stronger than the Congress one. Secondly, certain recent statements by Congress leaders – like (former CM) Tarun Gogoi’s comment that NRC is a ‘waste paper’ – has not gone down well with people here. We want a correct NRC, we do not oppose it.” AIUDF’s Islam said, “When the right to citizenship of a genuine Indian is taken away is taken away, he loses the right to have other rights. So we are committed in our fight for solving the citizenship-related troubles of genuine Indians. We will also focus on better health and education facilities and solving the problem of river erosion which affects a large number of people in the constituency.”

Meanwhile, the BJP says it is confident of winning the other three seats going to bypolls, but is a bit skeptical when it comes to Jania. BJP state president Ranjit Dass said, “We are completely confident of winning the three seats. If people of Jania want development they have to vote for the BJP, but if they vote considering other factors then they will vote for others. But the Congress’s prospects are zero in Jania.”

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/in-assams-muslim-majority-jania-nrc-is-on-everyones-mind-6078212/

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Indian Army causes heavy damage on Pak side after 2 soldiers, 1 civilian killed in ceasefire violation

Oct 20, 2019

KUPWARA: Indian Army on Sunday inflicted heavy damages and casualty on the Pakistan side after two Indian soldiers and a civilian were killed in ceasefire violation by Pakistan Army in Tangdhar sector of Kupwara.

"Indian Forces caused heavy damages and casualty to Pakistan after two Indian soldiers and one civilian were killed in ceasefire violation by Pakistan Army in Tangdhar sector," an Indian Army spokesperson said.

The Pakistan Army, in the unprovoked ceasefire violation, had targeted civilian areas killing one civilian and injuring three others in the area.

The ceasefire violation from Pakistan Army was started to push infiltrators into the Indian side, according to the sources.

The Indian Army is retaliating strongly all along the Line of Control in the Tangdhar sector and fire assaults have been directed at Pakistani positions aiding and abetting infiltrators there, sources said.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/indian-army-causes-heavy-damage-to-pak-side-after-2-soldiers-1-civilian-killed-in-ceasefire-violation/articleshow/71671444.cms

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Hizbul posters warn students against appearing for exams

Oct 19, 2019

SRINAGAR: In an apparent move to endanger the future of thousands of students, Hizbul Mujahideen posters warning them against appearing for their annual exams were put up near schools across the Kashmir Valley on Saturday. The posters were quickly removed, police said.

Hizb terrorists have even placed second locks on the gates of several schools in HMT area on the outskirts of Srinagar, reports said.

More than 40,000 students are set to appear for the Class-10 exam while for Class-12, 48,000 are scheduled to write their papers. As many as 615 centres for Class-10 and 433 for Class-12 have already been set up. The fresh warnings to students have sent shivers down the spines of parents.

J&K government has announced the dates for the exams, which will conclude by November-end. The Board of School Education (BOSE) has even issued the exam date-sheets, its chairperson said.

Besides, the Hizb posters also asked fruit-growers to expedite apple collection and hasten sale of their produce, and warned politicians against participating in the block development council (BDC) polls starting October 24. In Shopian district, out of eight blocks, elections are going to be held only in two — Kellar and Shopian. In the entire Kashmir Valley, BDC elections are scheduled to be conducted in 25 blocks out of 137.

In mid-September, Hizb terrorists had warned fruit-growers to not collect their produce and not send the same to mandis outside the Valley. Following defiance by the growers, the terrorists now seemed to have softened their position, a police officer said.

A fruit trader, a fruit truck driver and a brick-kiln worker (all non-locals) were killed by terrorists on October 15. This created fear among non-local fruit buyers, fruit transporters and labourers. Following these killings, state authorities had established safe houses for outside fruit buyers and truck drivers.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/hizbul-posters-warn-students-against-appearing-for-exams/articleshow/71667607.cms

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Manmohan said he will visit Kartarpur gurdwara as ‘ordinary man’, claims Pakistan Foreign Minister

October 19, 2019

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Saturday claimed former prime minister Manmohan Singh would visit Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara as an “ordinary person” and not as a “chief guest” after the inauguration of the corridor on November 9 ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

Speaking to reporters in Multan, Qureshi claimed Manmohan Singh had confirmed his visit to the gurdwara in a letter written to him.

“I had invited former PM of India Manmohan Singh. I am thankful to him. He wrote me a letter and said, ‘I’ll come but not as a chief guest but an ordinary man.’ We’ll welcome him even if he comes as an ordinary man,” Qureshi said.

Earlier this month, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had formally invited Manmohan Singh for the inaugural ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor.

However, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh earlier this month clarified that the former prime minister would not be participating in any event organised by Pakistan to mark the formal inauguration of the corridor.

“There is no question of me going (for Pakistan’s event) and I feel Manmohan Singh will not go as well. There is a huge difference between visiting Pakistan and going to the gurdwara through the corridor,” said Amarinder in a statement issued by the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO).

However, Amarinder said that Manmohan Singh would be part of an all-party jatha through the Kartarpur Corridor.

The Kartarpur corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan with Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur. Pakistan has agreed to allow 5,000 Sikh pilgrims from India to visit on a daily basis to Darbar Sahib in Narowal through the corridor.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/manmohan-singh-kartarpur-corridor-pakistan-foreign-minister-6077767/

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Pakistan

 

Interior ministry seeks ban on JUI-F ‘militant wing’

Kalbe Ali

October 20, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The interior ministry has suggested abolishment and banning of the “militant wing” of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F).

In a summary forwarded to the federal cabinet, the ministry said: “Various source reports shared by our intelligence agencies and provincial governments with the Ministry of Interior has revealed that Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Fazlur Rehman Group (JUI-F) has established a militant wing, a private militia / Razakar force named ‘Ansar-ul-Islam’ to provide security to marchers for the Azadi March scheduled for 27h October 2019 and proposed sit-in in Islamabad from 31 October 2019.”

According to the summary, a copy of which is available with Dawn, Ansar-ul-Islam is capable of functioning as a military organisation, which is a violation of Article 256 of the Constitution.

The ministry said Ansar-ul-Islam was organised, trained and equipped and it was capable of being used to display physical force in promoting Azadi March and objectives of the JUI-F.

The summary said that the uniformed force, carrying batons and sticks with wrapped barbed wire under a politico-religious party, apparently aims at challenging the writ of the government.

It said the rehearsals and march pasts carried out by the said force during a workers convention, recently held in Peshawar, pledging allegiance to the top JUI-F leadership, has stirred fear among the general public and is being seen as a private armed militia / combating force to confront the law enforcement agencies.

“It is feared that the said private militant force, reportedly around 80,000 all over Pakistan, may sabotage public peace and create disorder and anarchy across the country during the planned Azadi March and other political activities by JUI-F.”

The interior ministry has also expressed concerns that the private militia could be equipped with other objects, including arms and ammunition.

Ansar-ul-Islam has posed a real, present and severe threat to the peace and tranquillity of Islamabad and the four provinces, it added.

The summary has also given the reference of the National Action Plan that prohibits militant outfits and armed gangs from operating in the country.

The interior ministry has referred to Article 146(1) of the Constitution which allows the federal government to delegate any of its powers to the provinces, conditionally or unconditionally, with the consent of the provincial governments.

It has asked the federal cabinet to authorise it to seek consent from the provinces so that the process of abolishing / banning Ansar-ul-Islam could be initiated.

Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan confirmed that the federal cabinet would take up the matter in its next meeting.

“However, it is too early to say if the JUI-F too could face some action through the Election Commission,” she said, adding that the government would react strongly if the JUI-F tried to intimidate the general public with a show of power.

In reply to the question about the possibility of arresting Maulana Fazl or keeping him under house arrest, she said that maintaining law and order was the responsibility of the provinces and the federal government would extend help to them.

She reiterated that nobody could force their way into the federal capital and challenging the state’s writ would not be tolerated.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1511863/interior-ministry-seeks-ban-on-jui-f-militant-wing

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Govt won’t tolerate religious exploitation: Dr Firdous

October 20, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan said on Sunday that religious exploitation won’t be allowed under any circumstances by the government.

In a statement, the special assistant further stated that to protest is democratic right of everyone as enshrined in the constitution of Pakistan but a state can’t be formed within a state and nobody can be allowed to undermine the sovereignty of government or take the law into his hand.

She said PM Imran has taken notice of rising inflation and directed to take strict action against profiteers and hoarders. The government is well aware of its responsibilities and will safeguard the rights of people, she added.

“PM Imran has directed to maintain a database of properties of Evacuee Trust Property Board,” she said.

She also said that federal and provincial governments will work together to devise a strategy regarding the Auqaf properties.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/20/govt-wont-tolerate-religious-exploitation-dr-firdous/

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Mufti Naeem urges seminarians to stay away from politics

October 20, 2019

KARACHI: A day after Prime Minister Imran Khan met ulema and scholars in Islamabad, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has geared up its efforts to foil an anti-government march to be organised by the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and backed by major opposition parties later this month.

In this connection, two federal ministers belonging to the PTI called on the chancellor of Jamia Binoria — an international Deobandi seminary where a large number local and foreign students have been studying — here on Saturday in a bid to get his support against the anti-government march on Islamabad.

Religious Affairs Minister Pir Noorul Haq Qadri and Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Zaidi met Mufti Mohammad Naeem at Jamia Binoria, SITE, and discussed with him the overall political situation with a specific reference to the JUI-F’s ‘Azadi March’.

The two sides met behind closed doors, but later they appeared before the media.

Accompanied by the two ministers, Mufti Naeem did not categorically reject the JUI-F’s ‘Azadi March’ call, though he spoke about the alleged use of seminary students for political aims.

In a video statement aired by almost all TV news channels, he asked all seminaries to not use their students for political objectives.

“Do not allow participation of students in any sit-in, rally or a similar programme. It would give a bad name to madressahs if students get injured while participating in a rally,” he said.

He said that students of 53 countries were studying in Jamia Binoria which is one of the big academic institutions of the country.

“This is my message for all and I will request to all madressahs to not use students for their petty politics. No country will send its students if an institution is [found to be] used for political ambitions,” he said.

He said that it was a matter of happiness for him that Mr Zaidi and Pir Qadri visited his seminary.

Only on Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan had held a meeting in Islamabad with ulema and scholars, belonged to the four mainstream sects of the country, included members of the Council of Islamic Ideology, Muttahida Ulema Board, Punjab, and Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee.

The PM told them that he was not worried about the ‘Azadi March’ and “this meeting is not for seeking your support over the protest march of Maulana Fazlur Rehman”.

Later in the evening, the PTI named a seven-member high-powered committee to hold talks with JUI-F and other opposition parties on their planned march.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1511787

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Mufti Naeem opposes dragging madrassa students into politics

October 20, 2019

As Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman gears up for his Azadi March, the government has also intensified its efforts to ensure that opposition draws least support for its protest scheduled to be held on October 31 in Islamabad.

As part of government efforts, Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri and Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Haider Zaidi on Saturday met with Muti Naeem, the administrator of Jamia Binoria Karachi.

Opposing what he said involvement of madrassa students in politics, the cleric said it would not send a good message to the world.

Later, Ali Haider Zaidi also shared on Twitter a video of his meeting with Mufti Naeem.

Meanwhile, opposition parties have also intensified criticism of the government ahead of the protest.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Ahsan Iqbal was deeply skeptical that government was sincere in holding talks with JUI-F.

He said on one hand ministers were talking about dialogues while on the other the prime minister was launching verbal attacks.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/19/mufti-naeem-opposes-dragging-madrassa-students-into-politics/

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JUI-F’s sit-in still in ‘grey list’, says Sheikh Rasheed

October 20, 2019

LAHORE: Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed said on Saturday that Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) suspension of negotiation is undemocratic and opposed to political norms.

Rasheed while addressing a press conference stated, “Even if all chaudhries die, Maulana still won’t be able to come into power to form a government.”

“The sit-in is still in the grey list, the JUI-F is still not sure of holding it,” he said.

“Maulana is making a mistake, his career can end and he is only doing it on someone else’s signals,” he added.

“This time, if an attempt is made to derail democracy, a decision to counter any such scheme will be made promptly. PM Imran formed a committee to hold dialogue with the opposition parties and that’s how democracy works,” he said.

“I am not against seminaries as they are minarets of Islam but the exploiting being done on name of religion is unacceptable. Maulana went to the Golden Temple but never paid a visit to Qaid-e-Azam’s shrine,” he added.

Rasheed said that PM Khan and army chief are two wheels of the same car and are on same page.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/19/jui-fs-sit-in-still-in-grey-list-says-sheikh-rasheed/

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Asma Jahangir Conference: Journalists vow to report facts, resist attacks on press freedom

October 20, 2019

LAHORE: A session on ‘Electronic and Print Media (Freedom of Expression) in Pakistan’ on the first day of the Asma Jahangir Conference on Saturday started with a minute’s silence for the denial of entry to Pakistan to Committee to Protect Journalists Asia Programme Coordinator Steve Butler.

Mr Butler, however joined the session he was supposed to speak in personally via Skype. Speaking from Washington, he said press freedom was enshrined in Pakistan’s constitution and his expulsion will not affect his reporting of the country.

The session was moderated by Amber Rahim Shamsi and included journalists Owen Bennett-Jones, Christina Lamb, Shahidul Alam, Cyril Almeida and Hamid Mir.

Mr Alam from Bangladesh said it was time for journalists to self-examine, as private media in South Asia had become a mouthpiece for the government. “There are staggering similarities across the subcontinent regarding attacks on press freedoms,” he said, adding that he was always in a state of resistance. “When I got out on bail, the idea was to silence me, but I will not be silenced. We have a regime that is elected, but we cannot even question them. The best resistance is to practice solid, fact-based journalism.”

Mr Bennett-Jones said Pakistani journalists are a robust community and have refused to bow down in the most difficult of times.

Ms Lamb said there were many who did not want to believe facts, but the job of a journalist should always be to bring facts to the forefront no matter how inconvenient they were for others. Journalists are squeezed financially and in many other ways, including threats and intimidation.

Speaking about the business model of media organisations, she said so far no one knew how to make money through the digital model. Paywalls were a huge challenge because readers were limited. “But, in today’s world, good journalism is expensive, and facts are important,” she said, adding that the New York Times and Washington Post had risen to the challenge in this context.

Mr Mir condemned the denial of entry to Mr Butler and criticised the way JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s press conference was banned on TV. He claimed a day earlier, Pemra officials were interrogated over this censorship and at first they denied issuing any instructions, but when probed further, they “apologised” for it.

“Those behind restricting freedom of speech are the same people who did not let Mr Butler enter Pakistan. Frankly, it has only embarrassed Pakistan in the world. First, Zardari was banned from being aired because he was under trial; then Maryam Nawaz because she was convicted. Now, for Fazlur Rehman, no reason has been given,” he added.

Mr Almeida said democracy was one of the most basic rights. “If you’re talking about media freedom and fundamental rights, it’s the courts that have to protect the people and enforce those rights.”

He also spoke about the treason case he faced in the Lahore High Court, saying it was surprising that he found out about his arrest warrants and placement of his name on ECL through someone’s message without even receiving a court notice. “Without the courts acting as buffers, guardians, protectors of fundamental rights, it might not be possible for private, small organisations to withstand onslaught of state.”

The first day of the conference drew hundreds of people and several eminent personalities travelled to the city to be part of a variety of panels. It was inaugurated after Asma Jahangir’s daughter and lawyer, Sulema Jahangir, made an official statement on behalf of their law firm, AGHS, about the expulsion of CPJ’s Steve Butler. “It is against the hospitality of Pakistan. Journalists must be free to practice their profession,” she said.

She recounted her mother’s journey from 1983 for demanding women’s rights and how she along with a group of lawyers organised themselves and wrote bail petitions for poor female prisoners.

Ahsan Bhoon, a Pakistan Bar Council member, spoke on international challenges to human rights, including refugees in Syria and Palestine. Bangladeshi Judge Khatun Sapnara spoke about access to justice and how academics, activists and experts must come together to redefine parameters of law to give practical support to children and women.

Pakistan Bar Council Vice Chairman Syed Amjad Shah spoke about grave challenges facing the judiciary and serious questions raised from the accountability process. He remembered Asma Jahangir and her clear-minded presence.

Others who spoke at the inaugural session included EU Ambassador Androulla Kaminara,

Netherlands Human Rights Ambassador Dr Bahia Tahzib-Lie, Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws and Justice Mamoon Rashid.

Supreme Court’s Justice Gulzar Ahmed reminisced about Asma Jahangir and said she was honoured with doctorates from several universities, adding that he believed her legacy would live on.

Senator Musadik Malik held the audience with his speech in a session on ‘Upholding the Rule of Law’. The session was about equity, access to and protection by law and began with Justice Qazi Faez Isa reading out a history of the power corridors in Pakistan with special focus on dictatorship. “Why did no movement ever stick despite several people taking the fall?” questioned Senator Malik. “It is because the only principle that binds our society is that of opportunism.”

Balochistan Bar Council President Manzoor Ahmed Shahwani said articles 8 to 28 were about fundamental rights, but were not freely given by the state and had to be fought for. “Those who say they got power through democratic means are lying,” he said. “Despite other institutions being weak, our political parties have deeply disappointed us.”

MNA Maleeka Bokhari of the PTI said the main reason for the party’s 100-day agenda was to see how many laws they could enact. And all their laws were for the people, she claimed, including women’s property rights, inheritance rights, Zainab Bill, gender-based violence courts etc. She said the PTI campaign was based on rule of law.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1511825/asma-jahangir-conference-journalists-vow-to-report-facts-resist-attacks-on-press-freedom

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Pakistan silences army's critics with raids, terror charges

Oct 19, 2019

ISLAMABAD: A dozen plainclothes Pakistani security forces attempted on Thursday to raid the former home of a human rights activist who recently fled to the United States seeking asylum.

Gulalai Ismail's elderly parents said they were ordered to come outside "just to talk," but refused. The security men eventually left after nearly an hour.

"I told them you have weapons in your hands and no uniform — I won't come out," said Ismail's father, Mohammad, a retired professor living in the capital of Islamabad.

Raids like this are part of an expanding push by Pakistan's security services to crack down on anyone who voices criticism of their activities.

Gulalai Ismail's parents are facing charges of financing terrorism, allegedly for funneling money from their daughter toward terrorist activities. They deny the charges and are currently out on bail but have been ordered not to leave Pakistan.

Their daughter went into hiding for several weeks after her criticism of the Pakistan army and its powerful intelligence made her a target. Last month she surfaced in the US seeking asylum.

The family supports an ethnic Pashtun movement known as the PTM that is stridently critical of the army's war on terror, particularly in the country's border regions. Millions of people have been displaced from those areas, and thousands of mostly young men have disappeared, often after being picked up by security forces.

While Gulalai Ismail was criticized and even arrested for her support of the PTM, her father said the real trouble began when she criticized the security forces of sexually harassing and abusing women in the tribal regions, particularly Pakistan's Waziristan region.

"In Waziristan, young girls told stories of how army and non-state actors are harassing young girls and women," her father told The Associated Press. "She returned saying: 'My job should be to help women who suffer sex abuse in conflict."'

Mohammad Ismail, who taught Urdu literature, is a self-avowed communist who traces his activism back to the 1980s. At the time, he opposed Pakistan's military dictator Gen. Mohammed Zia-ul Haq, whjo worked with the US to fund, arm and train the Islamic militants fighting in neighboring Afghanistan against the former Soviet Union. Some of those fighters, including Osama bin Laden, would eventually go on to form al-Qaida.

Ismail also drew the ire of the Taliban, another hard-line Islamic militant group born out of the war in Afghanistan. His house was ransacked several years ago in retaliation for his criticism of the group's activities in his home province of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, which borders Afghanistan.

Activists with the PTM charge that Pakistan's military and intelligence agencies harass and intimidate ethnic Pashtuns who are critical of the war on terror. They also claim the Pakistani government continues to separate insurgents into "good" and "bad" Taliban.

Pakistani security services are still undecided about whether to break all ties with groups they have long considered "assets," particularly against neighboring India, Pakistan's longtime nemesis.

In an earlier written response to questions from the AP, army spokesman Gen Asif Ghafoor dismissed allegations of turning a blind eye to some Taliban militants while fighting others.

"Pakistan Armed Forces have undertaken military operations against terrorists of all hue (and) color," Ghafoor said. He asserted that military operations in the mountainous border regions since the early 2000s had simply targeted the most dangerous groups first, followed by those that pose less of a threat to Pakistan.

He also fiercely denied human rights violations. "Genuine grievances of affected population in cleared areas are being addressed in post conflict environment," he said.

But Gulalai Ismaili, her father, the PTM and other human rights organizations in Pakistan disagree.

Bushra Gohar, a politician and human rights activist, was among the women activists who went to Waziristan. She said the stories of abuse were harrowing.

"Several women and girls narrated horrifying stories of sexual harassment, threats and intimidation by the security forces," she told the AP.

"One woman had kept a record of the security forces breaking into her house for illegal searches and terrorizing her family in the absence of male household members by drawing a line on a piece of paper for each visit. She showed the paper to us and gave a video statement," she said.

Ghafoor, the army spokesman, did not directly address the accusation of sexual abuse but denied human rights violations.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-silences-armys-critics-with-raids-terror-charges/articleshow/71660919.cms

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PM heaps praise on team for ‘economic turnaround’

Mubarak Zeb Khan

October 20, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday said that his economic team has turned around the national economy within a period of one year, especially referring to a sharp decline in the current account deficit and an increase in investments.

The premier in a series of tweets shared some data-graphs showing performance of foreign direct investment, exports and remittances besides a sharp decline in the current account deficit.

Mr Khan said that a 111.5pc increase was recorded in the foreign direct investment and a 194pc increase in foreign private investment during the past one year. The massive increase in investments was a reflection of the trust of foreign investors in the government’s economic policies, he added.

The prime minister said that the current account deficit was on a 41-month low in September 2019, indicating that the economy was on the mend. Between July-September, the first quarter of the current fiscal year, the current account deficit declined by a huge 64pc to $1.5bn from $4.3bn over the last year. It was mainly led by a 21pc decline in imports.

Pakistan had witnessed the biggest current account deficit at $18.25 billion before the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf had taken over the government. He went on to say that remittances from overseas Pakistanis showed a 17.6 per cent increase in remittances during last month.

The fiscal deficit — the difference between revenues and expenditures of the federal government — declined by 36 per cent in the first quarter of the ongoing fiscal year as revenue increased and expenditure cuts took root.

PM Khan’s economic team led by Adviser on Finance Dr Hafeez Shaikh — currently visiting Washington to attend the annual meetings of International Monetary Fund/World Bank-2019 — held a series of meetings with heads of various global financial institutions and business leaders to apprise them of the overall state of economy in Pakistan.

The focus of these meetings, according to an official statement, is to focus on government’s measures to curtail the twin deficits and revive various sectors of the economy through institutional reforms and collaboration with regional and international investment partners.

State Bank Governor Dr Reza Baqir and Finance Secretary Naveed Kamran held an extensive meeting with Asian Deve­lopment Bank (ADB) president Takehiko Nakao and exchanged views with him on the ongoing ADB-funded projects in Pakistan as well as planned portfolio.

The finance adviser apprised the ADB president about the steps taken by the government for curtailing the current and capital account deficits effectively. In his remarks, ADB President Nakao said that ADB was an important financial partner of Pakistan and acknowledged the current structural reforms undertaken towards economic stabilisation in Pakistan.

Dr Shaikh also met World Bank’s South Asian Region (SAR) Vice President Hartwig Schafer and his team. The meeting reviewed WB’s portfolio in Pakistan and exchanged views on further steps to strengthen cooperation between Pakistan and the Bank.

Later, the finance adviser along with a delegation met IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department (MCD) Director Jihad Azour. They discussed the implementation of the ongoing IMF programme. The IMF director appreciated the progress Pakistan made towards economic stabilisation as well as government commitment to the reform process.

Essential commodities

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the PM on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan told the media that the Prime Minister had directed the federal ministries and provincial governments to take measures to bring down the prices of wheat, sugar, cooking oil, fruit and vegetables to provide relief to public.

She said the direction came from the premier during the three-hour meeting with the chief ministers of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, chief secretaries, ministers of food, agriculture, statistics, commerce and industry and cane commissioners. Mr Khan asked them to adopt a comprehensive strategy on ways to reduce prices of essential commodities, she added.

Dr Awan said the Sindh province had failed to ensure timely procurement of wheat flour, which resulted in depletion of stock and rise in its prices. To control the situation, PM Khan asked Pakistan Agricultural Services and Storage Corporation (PASSCO) to release 100,000 million tonnes of wheat for Sindh to fill the gap in supply and demand. She said the PM also directed the Economic Coordination Committee to come up with a comprehensive strategy and recommendations within three days on release of stock of wheat and cut in prices.

Besides, she hinted at the possibility of importing wheat in case of lower stock of the commodity to keep the prices under stable.

Extending support to farmers, the adviser said sugar cane farmers received payment as per support price of Rs180 per 40 kilograms. The prime minister, according to her, showed displeasure over the rise in sugar prices and asked for taking action against profiteers and hoarders.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1511892/pm-heaps-praise-on-team-for-economic-turnaround

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SJC secretary denies allegations levelled by Justice Isa

Nasir Iqbal

October 20, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Judicial Council’s (SJC) secretary Arbab Muhammad Arif denied on Saturday the allegations levelled at him by Justice Qazi Faez Isa in a rejoinder submitted to the Supreme Court.

In the one-page reply submitted to the full court seized with a set of petitions challenging the filing of a reference against Justice Isa, the SJC secretary claimed the allegations mentioned in the judge’s rejoinder were against the record and that he had always performed his duties with rectitude, integrity and honesty.

Mr Arif said he had always acted in good faith in the performance of his duties and had held, and would continue to hold, all the superior court judges in high esteem.

In his rejoinder, Justice Isa had accused the SJC secretary of fixing the presidential reference before the council by demonstrating unusual haste when the body did not direct an out-of-turn hearing.

According to the rejoinder, the secretary fixed the reference when the petitioner judge was on a sanctioned leave to assist his wife in taking care of her father, who had been diagnosed with cancer.

It contended that the situation had deprived the petitioner of his fundamental right to a fair trial and the due process, especially when he could not seek legal advice and legal representation.

Likewise, Mr Arif provided the petitioner judge’s response to the attorney general, the prosecutor in the reference, even when the council had not asked him to do so.

Of his own accord, the SJC secretary obtained a copy of the rejoinder from the petitioner’s private secretary and provided it to the attorney general on the very day it was filed, that is June 28, alleged the judge, adding the secretary kept the council in the dark about the haste in providing the attorney general a copy of the response.

Similarly, the secretary assumed the powers of the council by entertaining the “illegally filed” rejoinder from the attorney general in the absence of any directive from the SJC and “in violation of” the Supreme Judicial Council Procedure of Enquiry, 2005.

The SJC secretary was provided three letters of the petitioner judge that he wrote to President Arif Alvi, in which a complaint was registered about Justice Isa’s “media trial, character assassination, humiliation, defamation and the blatant violation of his fundamental rights”, the rejoinder said. But the secretary considered none of these letters worthy enough for him to take notice or prepare a note for the chief justice/SJC chairman.

The secretary “discriminated against the petitioner” and displayed “chutzpah” by immediately entertaining a complaint regarding these letters — a second reference which eventually got rejected by the SJC, said the rejoinder. The complaint contained no supporting evidence with regard to its contents and overnight a fact sheet was prepared and put up before the council in record time.

The rejoinder alleged that the role of the secretary, in terms of the SJC procedure, was secretarial in nature, but he issued a show-cause notice in two references. In the purported show-cause notice the secretary included material that was not in the presidential reference though he referred to the rejoinder moved by the attorney general and extensively reproduced text from its contents, either verbatim, by copy-pasting or by paraphrasing passages.

Mr Arif included in the purported show-cause notice allegations that did not find mention in the complaint received in the reference, such as the claim that the petitioner judge had made insinuations against state institutions. By employing such tactics the SJC secretary had himself become a complainant, said the rejoinder.

The petitioner judge had also filed two applications to the SJC on July 25, seeking copies of the documentary evidence stated to be filed with Abdul Waheed Dogar’s complaint — the original complaint on the basis of which the presidential reference was filed — and also seeking public disclosure of the judge’s response.

None of these applications was processed even though the information and documents sought through the first application should be provided immediately because “there is every likelihood that these would be created, manufactured and manipulated”, the rejoinder alleged.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1511860/sjc-secretary-denies-allegations-levelled-by-justice-isa

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Pakistan PM Imran Khan won't resign under any circumstances'': Govt on Oppn's Azadi March

Oct 20, 2019

Islamabad: Prime Minister Imran Khan will not put down his resignation papers 'under any circumstances', the federal government said on Saturday after the opposition parties called off negotiations and vouched to go ahead with their 'Azadi march' to hold anti-government protests countrywide over the incumbent government's failure to fulfil any of its promises so far.

The opposition parties called to "restore 'real' democracy in the country and urged the Prime Minister to resign. Express Tribune quoted Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, the head of the government committee formed to hold talks with the opposition parties, as saying at a news conference, "The prime minister [Imran Khan] will not resign under any circumstances." "It is impossible to accept the opposition parties` demand [for the prime minister's resignation] and they only want to intimidate the government, but we will take action they stick to their stance," the minister added.

Khattak was accompanied by Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood, who is also a member of the committee formed by the prime minister particularly with the aim to hold talks with the opposition parties.

The development comes after Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl`s (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had refused to call off his October 31 anti-government march, backed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), until the prime minister's resignation.

Reiterating the government`s offer to negotiate, Khattak said, "We have included the National Assembly speaker [Asad Qaiser] and the Punjab Assembly speaker [Pervaiz Elahi] in the negotiating committee. The opposition parties should sit down with us and speak to us about their demands, which will be examined.

"The minister said the government was serious about addressing the opposition`s issues."If they have any evidence of rigging [in the 2018 general elections], they can present it to the parliamentary committee formed for this purpose," he proposed.

On October 18, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had also called for the anti-government demonstrations and expressed support to JUI-F`s `Azadi March`.

"We don`t accept this artificial democracy... the democratic and socio-economic rights of the masses shall be restored... and for that Imran Khan has to resign," Bhutto had said in his address at a party rally in Karachi.He said all opposition parties had decided that the government must step down.

"Our anti-government movement has started from Karachi," he said, as he announced his plan for further protests across the country.He said the PPP will protest in Thar on October 23, demonstrate in Kashmir on 26th whereas rallies in Punjab will begin from November 1.

"We will tour the entire country and when we return from Kashmir, you [Imran Khan] will have to go...We will expose your incompetence in every nook and corner of the country.

"Meanwhile, the government warned that the opposition parties' refusal to come to the negotiating table on the JUI-F 'Azadi march' meant that they were working on an anti-Kashmir agenda and the state will enforce its writ allowing the "law to take its course" if they went ahead with the rally.

Full report at:

https://zeenews.india.com/world/pakistan-pm-imran-khan-wont-resign-under-any-circumstances-govt-on-oppns-azadi-march-2241065.html

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Right to protest constitutional, says PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal

October 20, 2019

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal on Saturday sought to remind the government that carrying out a protest was a right accorded to citizens by the Constitution of Pakistan.

“How can ones who themselves staged a sit-in object to a protest?”

He said that the offer for talks was a “two-faced move”.

Iqbal, in a stark reminder of the 2014 sit-in by the PTI, said: “The 126-day sit-in caused a complete shut down of schools, the Chinese president’s tour was cancelled and now you are worried about the education of children?”

“Imran Khan should first render an apology to the nation and to Nawaz Sharif before talking about negotiations,” he added.

The PML-N leader, in another swipe at PTI, questioned the conscience with which the party’s representatives were “delivering sermons on the wisdom of talks” when they “descended onto the PTV offices, the Supreme Court building and the Parliament?”

“On the one hand, this incompetent prime minister lays before us this farce of a committee, and on the other he bad mouths his political opponents and ridicules them,” he said.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/19/right-to-protest-constitutional-says-pml-ns-ahsan-iqbal/

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Imran asks ministries, provinces to bring down wheat, sugar prices

October 20, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday directed the federal ministries and provincial governments to bring down prices of wheat, sugar, cooking oil, fruits and vegetables to provide relief to public.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan Saturday said at a press conference the premier held a three hour long meeting on Friday with chief ministers of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, chief secretaries, ministries of food, agriculture, statistics, commerce and industry and cane commissioners.

She said the prime minister asked them to adopt a comprehensive strategy on ways to reduce prices of essential commodities.

The prime minister directed that people should be provided relief from hike in prices and availability of food items should be ensured, she told.

Firdous said price of wheat had increased in the Sindh province after its government had failed to procure the commodity and its stocks was depleted.

She said Bilawal Bhutto held a public meeting in Sindh on government expense.

The Sindh government was doing politics by using public resources while on the other hand due to its inefficiency and incapability, it had failed to keep the prices of wheat down, she added.

The prime minister took notice of the situation and issued instructions that Pakistan Agricultural Services and Storage Corporation (PASSCO) should release 0.1 million ton of wheat for the Sindh province to reduce prices and help the people oppressed by their rulers, she explained.

She said in a recent by-election in Larkana, people buried the slogan of “Bhutto Zinda Hai” and made an example of the economic terrorists.

The special assistant said the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) was instructed to come up with a comprehensive strategy and recommendations in three days on release of stock of wheat and cut in prices, adding wheat would also be imported to ensure its availability at cheap prices.

Dr Firdous said for the first time, last year the sugarcane farmers received payments as per support price of Rs 180 per 40 kilogramme.

The PM expressed dismay at increase of prices of sugar and asked the provinces along with ministry of industry to keep the prices stable and take action against profiteers and hoarders.

The chief ministers were asked to establish farmer markets to end the role of middlemen so that farmers could benefit and consumers could get relief in prices of vegetables, fruits and perishable items.

The Federal Board of Revenue was instructed to rationalize the regulatory duty on import of cooking oil.

She said after the stoppage of import of tomatoes and onion from India, their prices had increased but now the situation would improve after the arrival of these vegetables in the market from Sindh.

She told that Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) would establish a land bank and evolve a business plan to set up schools, colleges, university, parks and hospitals in the interest of people and to generate revenue.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/19/imran-asks-ministries-provinces-to-bring-down-wheat-sugar-prices/

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Govt to ban JUI-F’s Ansarul Islam wing

BY AHMAD AHMADANI

October 20, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has decided to ban the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam’s Asarul Islam force under Article 256 and Section 2 of the Private Military Organization Act 1974.

The Interior Ministry has also obtained the approval of the federal cabinet and a notification will be issued to this effect next week. After the issuance of the notification, the ministry will forward recommendations to the provinces to take action against the Ansarul Islam under Article 146.

“Article 146 (1) of the constitution permits the federal government to delegate any of its powers to the provinces, conditionally or unconditionally, but with the consent of the provincial governments,” said documents.

“Notwithstanding anything contained in the constitution, the federal government may with the consent of the government of a province, entrust either conditionally or unconditionally to that government, or to its officers functions in relation to any matter to which the executive authority of the federation extends”, reads Article 146 (1) of the constitution.

Meanwhile, JUI-F Spokesman Hafiz Hussain Ahmed told Pakistan Today that the JUI-F has not received any official information in this regard.

However, the party will consult its lawyers to deal with the matter in the court of law if the government decided to ban the “volunteer organisation”, he added.

He said: “Ansarul Islam has been working as a volunteer organization of JUI since the inception of Pakistan and it is also mentioned in the party manifesto.”

So far, no FIR has been registered against it, he said, adding he came to know about the potential ban through media reports.

Responding to a question pertaining to the uniform, he said uniform was only for the recognition of volunteers and march past was only to check the preparedness of this volunteer organization to handle the large gathering– the Azadi March.

“Every religious and political party of the country has its separate volunteer organisation to control and manage the party meetings, processions, and other party activities, “ said Hafiz Hussain Ahmed.

According to an intelligence report, the JUI-F has constituted an ‘armed wing’ named Ansarul Islam ahead of the anti-government march on Oct 27.

“It seems the uniformed force intends to challenge the writ of the state and witnessed preparing for a confrontation with the law enforcement agencies,” the summary said, adding the force was 80,000-strong.

There is an apprehension of worsening the law and order situation during the ‘Azadi March’,” the summary said.

“Formation of Ansarul Islam as an armed force is a violation of Article 256 of the Constitution,” the summary said.

It is not improbable that Ansarul Islam militia might have arms and its activities could pose a threat to peace in Islamabad as well as in provinces, the summary said.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/19/govt-to-ban-jui-fs-ansarul-islam-wing/

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Arab World

 

Jumblatt denies move for his ministers to resign from Hariri cabinet

20 October 2019

The Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt denied on Saturday reports of his request to his party’s ministers to resign from the Lebanese government.

Jumblatt said in a tweet that he did not request for his ministers’ resignations and that he is not planning to travel anywhere.

In statements to local Lebanese media outlets on Saturday, Jumblatt explained that Saad Hariri sent him a proposed economic document.

Jumblatt said “We are about to answer and we will prepare a revised document with the major issues to put an end to the financial collapse.”

He continued: “I know that what I am saying is difficult and unpopular, but going to the absolute vacuum is more difficult and we must avoid the vacuum and the financial collapse.”

“We deal with all the responsibility and we know the outrage among people,” he added.

Meanwhile, the head of the Lebanese Forces Party Samir Geagea announced the resignation of the Lebanese Forces Party’s four ministers from Saad Hariri’s government.

“We have not seen any serious intention by the Lebanese officials to address the crises,” Geagea said.

Thousands of demonstrators poured into Lebanon’s streets on Saturday for a third day of anti-government protests, directing growing rage at a political elite they blame for driving the country to the economic brink.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/20/Jumblatt-denies-move-for-his-ministers-to-resign-from-Hariri-cabinet.html

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Lebanon’s interior minister did not resign, her office confirms

19 October 2019

The office of Raya al-Hassan, Lebanese Minister of Interior and Municipalities, denied on Saturday that the minister has submitted her resignation from the government, an Al Arabiya correspondent reported.

Al-Hassan on Saturday, said in a tweet that she had contacted the Attorney General of the Court of Cassation, who informed her that most of those detained during Friday’s demonstrations will be released with proof of residence, awaiting the completion of investigations to ascertain the availability of material evidence proving their deliberate acts of rioting, shop thefts and burning of public and private properties, according to the Lebanese National News Agency (NNA).

The Lebanese government is expected to convene on Sunday to discuss way out to the economic crisis, government sources said on Saturday.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/19/Lebanon-s-interior-minister-did-not-resign-her-office-confirms.html

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Lebanese cabinet to convene to discuss way out of crisis

19 October 2019

Lebanon to hold a cabinet meeting on Sunday to discuss way out to the economic crisis, government sources said on Saturday.

Lebanon’s finance minister said on Saturday following a meeting with Prime Minister Saad Hariri that they had agreed on a final budget that did not include any additional taxes or fees in a bid to appease nationwide protests.

Meanwhile, Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said in a tweet that there would be a “reassuring solution” to the economic crisis.

On Saturday, Thousands of demonstrators poured into Lebanon’s streets for a third day of anti-government protests, directing growing rage at a political elite they blame for driving the country to the economic brink.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/19/Lebanese-cabinet-to-convene-to-discuss-way-out-of-crisis.html

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Saudi Arabia successfully evacuates its citizens from Lebanon

19 October 2019

Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Beirut evacuates its citizens from Lebanon, following a night of protests that turned violent across different regions of the Mediterranean nation.

The embassy in Beirut began operations on Friday to evacuate its citizens due to the disturbances in Lebanon, according to a communique. The embassy asked its citizens to quickly communicate with it for preparations to leave Lebanon. The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs also warned citizens against traveling to Lebanon and called on those in Lebanon to exercise the utmost caution.

Anti-government protests have spread across Lebanon, directed at a political elite that demonstrators blame for driving the country to the economic brink.

On Friday night police in Beirut rounded up protesters, firing rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse riots that grew violent as the night wore on, leaving gutted streets looking like a battle zone, strewn with glass and debris.

Lebanon's internal security apparatus said 52 police were injured on Friday and its forces arrested 70 people.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/19/Saudi-Arabia-successfully-evacuates-its-citizens-from-Lebanon.html

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Russian officials discuss with Assad de-escalating tensions in northeast Syria

19 October 2019

A delegation of Russian officials discussed with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Friday the need to de-escalate the situation in northeast Syria, Russia's foreign ministry said on Saturday.

“The discussion focused on the current situation 'on the ground' in Syria in the light of rising tensions in the north-east of the country,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The need to take measures to de-escalate the situation and ensure security in these areas was noted.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/19/Russian-officials-discuss-with-Syria-s-Assad-de-escalating-tensions-in-northeast-Syria.html

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Thousands of demonstrators fill Lebanon’s streets in third day of fiery protests

19 October 2019

Thousands of demonstrators poured into Lebanon’s streets on Saturday for a third day of anti-government protests, directing growing rage at a political elite they blame for driving the country to the economic brink.

In central Beirut, the mood was fiery and festive with protesters of all ages waving flags and chanting for revolution outside upmarket retailers and banks that had their storefronts smashed in by some rogue rioters the night before.

From the south to the east and north of Lebanon, protesters marched, blocked roads, burned tires to keep the momentum going despite gunmen loyal to Shia Muslim Amal movement appearing with heavy guns to scare them away.

In the afternoon, patriotic songs blared from loudspeakers in Beirut and fireworks exploded over a sea of people dancing and singing, holding banners reading “unite against corrupt politicians.”

“This country is moving towards total collapse. This regime has failed to lead Lebanon and it must be toppled and replaced,” said Mohammad Awada, 32, who is unemployed.

Meanwhile, an Al Arabiya correspondent reported that Lebanese protesters issued a statement demanding the formation of a “government of salvation” and calling for early legislative elections.

The Lebanese army veterans called on its members for a sit-in in the downtown distric of Beirut on Sunday.

The latest unrest erupted out of anger over the rising cost of living and new tax plans, including a fee on WhatsApp calls, which was quickly retracted after protests - the biggest in decades - broke out.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri gave his government partners a 72-hour deadline on Friday to agree on reforms that could ward off economic crisis, hinting he may otherwise resign.

Earlier, troops reopened blocked highways after security forces used tear gas and water cannons to disperse a huge crowd of protesters who had gathered in the heart of Beirut on Friday evening.

The Internal Security Forces said 70 arrests were made.

On Saturday, Interior Minister Raya Al-Hassan said in a tweet that she had contacted the Attorney General of the Court of Cassation, who informed her that most of those detained during Friday’s demonstrations will be released with proof of residence, awaiting the completion of investigations to ascertain the availability of material evidence proving their deliberate acts of rioting, shop thefts and burning of public and private properties, according to the Lebanese National News Agency (NNA).

The protesters are demanding a sweeping overhaul of Lebanon’s political system, citing grievances ranging from austerity measures to poor infrastructure.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah gave his first response on Saturday.

“We don’t want the resignation of the government if the resignation means there is no government,” he said, calling for Lebanese to work together.

The current unity government has the backing of most Lebanese political parties, including Hezbollah.

Groups of young people gathered on the streets of the capital on Saturday morning collecting tires and other material to make improvised roadblocks, AFP correspondents reported.

Parts of central Beirut looked like a war zone, littered with broken glass, overturned litter bins and the remains of burning tyres.

Banks and many restaurants and shops remained closed.

A team of workers in grey jumpsuits was dispatched to clean up the debris near parliament, even as around a dozen protesters chanted “Revolution, revolution”.

The demonstrations first erupted on Thursday, sparked by a proposed 20 cent tax on calls via messaging apps such as WhatsApp.

Such calls are the main method of communication for many Lebanese and, despite the government’s swift abandonment of the tax, the demonstrations quickly swelled into the largest in years.

Thousands of people of all ages, sects and political affiliations brought the capital to a standstill on Friday, before security forces dispersed them.

Minor clashes continued after dark, pitting groups of young men against security forces, an AFP reporter said.

Protesters from across the political spectrum filled the streets and there was heavy deployment of armed forces at the entrances into the capital, Beirut.

One protester in the southern city of Nabatieh, a Hezbollah stronghold, vowed to continue protesting.

“They are trying to portray us as a mob, but we are demanding our rights,” he told a local television channel. “We are used to repression.”

Lebanon has one of the highest public debt burdens in the world and the government is trying to reach agreement on a package of belt-tightening measures to cap the deficit in next year’s budget.

The promised austerity moves are essential if Lebanon is to unlock $11 billion in economic assistance pledged by international donors last year.

Growth has plummeted in recent years, with political deadlock compounded by the impact of eight years of war in neighboring Syria.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/19/Hundreds-gather-in-Lebanon-for-third-day-of-protests-.html

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Hezbollah’s Nasrallah: We do not support resignation of Lebanese government

19 October 2019

Secretary-General of Lebanese Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah said on Saturday that his party does not support the resignation of Lebanon’s government, but supports the current government with “a new agenda and a new spirit.”

Nasrallah said in a televised speech that whoever runs away from responsibility should be held accountable by the Lebanese people, “especially those who have had roles in previous governments.”

Al Arabiya English

@AlArabiya_Eng

“We do not support the resignation of the current government … we say, let this government continue, but with a new spirit and a new agenda,” says Lebanese Hezbollah's Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/19/Secretary-General-of-Lebanese-Hezbollah-Hassan-Nasrallah-adresses-protests.html …

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Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Friday addressed the recent protests that have swept across the country, some of which call for his resignation.

In a televised speech Hariri gave his “partners in the government” 72 hours to back a reform package aimed at shoring up the government's finances and securing the disbursement of desperately needed economic assistance from donors.

On Thursday protests sparked across the country, calling on the Lebanese government to resign after unpopular new tax proposals, including fees on WhatsApp calls. The demonstrators’ chants call for all government leaders including Hariri, President Michel Aoun, and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri to step down.

“The country is going through an unprecedented, difficult time,” Hariri said on Friday, adding that reforms do not necessarily mean more taxes.

As the protests entered their third day Nasrallah condemned new taxes, saying that the recent protests prove to authorities that the Lebanese people cannot handle any more taxes or fees.

If new taxes are imposed on the poor, “we will go down to the streets,” Nasrallah said.

The proposed taxes come as Lebanon’s worsening economic crisis has led to an alleged shortage of US dollars within Lebanon’s highly dollarized economy. The unofficial exchange rate has soared above the authorized trading band of LBP 1,501-1,514 to the dollar, causing fears of bread and fuel shortages.

In the speech Nasrallah also warned Lebanese political authorities pressuring the government to resign.

“Do not bother doing so, you are not capable of that,” said Nasrallah, adding that if the government resigns it could take a year or two to form a new government and that time is short.

The night before Hariri directly addressed government officials, blaming them for holding up reforms and causing the protests.

“We can no longer wait for our partners in government to start working on the solution,” Hariri said.

Nasrallah said that everyone in Lebanon should claim responsibility of the dangerous situation the country is facing.

Al Arabiya English

@AlArabiya_Eng

“It’s shameful for someone to repudiate their responsibility of the current situation which we have reached in Lebanon, especially those who have had roles in all previous governments,” says Lebanese Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/19/Secretary-General-of-Lebanese-Hezbollah-Hassan-Nasrallah-adresses-protests.html …

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After his speech, Lebanese protesters chanted “all of them, all of them, all of them. Nasrallah is one of them,” in the third day of demonstrations demanding a sweeping overhaul of Lebanon’s political system.

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Watch: After the speech of Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah, Lebanese protesters chant “all of them, all of them, all of them. Nasrallah is one of them,” in the demonstrations demanding a sweeping overhaul of Lebanon’s political system. https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/19/Secretary-General-of-Lebanese-Hezbollah-Hassan-Nasrallah-adresses-protests.html …

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Nasrallah, who has been Secretary General of Hezbollah since 1992, does not hold a government post in the Lebanese government.

Hariri currently heads a multi-party government which includes his Future Party movement and rivals the Hezbollah and the Future Patriotic Movement.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/19/Secretary-General-of-Lebanese-Hezbollah-Hassan-Nasrallah-adresses-protests.html

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Nasrallah says opposed to government resignation, won't let anyone burn Lebanon

Oct 19, 2019

Secretary General of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has expressed opposition to calls for the resignation of Lebanon’s government, vowing not to allow anyone to “burn” Lebanon and cause chaos in the country.

Speaking on Saturday following days of protest rallies across Lebanon, Nasrallah expressed solidarity for recent economic and anti-corruption demonstrations in the country, saying that the Hezbollah party is “determined to work hard” to solve the country’s problems and “not allow anyone to drown this country and take it to the abyss”.

Nasrallah explained that the problems in the country were “systematic” and would not be fixed by a change of government, given that the new government would most probably include the same combination of already existing political factions.

The Hezbollah chief denounced certain political figures who had been quick to call for a new government, saying that such a thing was only a “waste of time” and that it would take a year or two for the new cabinet to take shape.

Nasrallah added that such initiatives were being proposed by factions seeking to evade their responsibilities instead of resolving Lebanon’s hardships.

The Hezbollah chief also lauded the demonstrations for being “spontaneous” and independent from any foreign or domestic political influence, warning participants to beware of the rallies being hijacked by political groups.

Nasrallah also called for a “new spirit” in resolving the country’s problems which he described as a “problem of confidence” between the government and the populace.

He added that the party will avoid intervening in street protests as it seeks to resolve the matter through legal means.

Nonetheless, Nasrallah warned that if taxes were to be imposed on the poor or other necessities were to arise, the party would act.

We will “be everywhere” and we will “change the balance” in the country, Nasrallah said.

The Hezbollah chief’s remarks come against the backdrop of three days of ongoing nationwide protests born out of frustration over new taxes being examined as part of the country’s 2020 budget.

Protesters demand that politicians provide serious solutions to solve the country’s faltering economy and corruption in government.

On Friday, Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri canceled a scheduled cabinet meeting on the 2020 budget and delivered a live televised speech instead, issuing a 72-hour ultimatum for “partners in government” to exhibit determination in bringing about “real reforms”.

He said certain figures in the government had blocked his intended reforms. The premier did not name the individuals or specify the actions he would take if his ultimatum was not met.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/19/609050/Nasrallah-speech-recent-protests

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Amid turmoil, Lebanese Forces ministers quit coalition government

NAJIA HOUSSARI

October 20, 2019

BEIRUT: Lebanon's "strong republic" bloc quit the coalition government on Saturday as tens of thousands of people took to the streets for a third day of protests against tax increases and alleged official corruption.

Samir Geagea, head of the Lebanese forces party, said his group was resigning from the government ahead of the 72-hour deadline that Prime Minister Saad Hariri gave to partners in power to help make his reform programs work.

Geagea's Christian party has four ministers in the coalition government, namely: Ghassan Hasbani, Kamil Abu Suleiman, Richard Qayomjian and May Chidiac.

"Since people have lost confidence in the political class, and since the people in the street represent all segments of society and because all components of the government does not want serious and actual reform, we were the first party to act with transparency and when discussing the 2020 budget, we demanded a basket of immediate reforms, but we did not feel the seriousness required," Geagea told a late night press conference that extended into the early hours of Sunday.

“We are now convinced that the government is unable to take the necessary steps to save the situation,” said Geagea. “Therefore, the bloc decided to ask its ministers to resign from the government.”

He denied "any talk of an agreement with Prime Minister Hariri regarding the resignation of ministers."

Geagea's announcement was welcomed by the protesters, who are still sit in yards in Beirut, Jounieh, Tripoli and Tyre. They demanded the resignation of the remaining in power.

'Sweeping overhaul needed'

The protesters took to the streets despite calls for calm from politicians and dozens of arrests on Friday. Many waved billowing Lebanese flags and insisted the protests should remain peaceful and non-sectarian.

The demonstrators are demanding a sweeping overhaul of Lebanon’s political system, citing grievances ranging from austerity measures to poor infrastructure.

They have blocked main roads and threatened to topple the country’s fragile coalition government.

Most Lebanese politicians have uncharacteristically admitted the demonstrations are spontaneous, rather than blaming outside influences.

Demonstrators in Beirut celebrated the news of the coalition party’s resignation, calling on other blocs to leave the government. In Tripoli, they let off fireworks.

“I am thinking maybe it’s better all the government resign,” said one protester, 24-year-old Ali. “I am thinking maybe it’s better to go to another election as people already woke up.”

The army on Saturday called on protesters to “express themselves peacefully without harming public and private property.”

Saturday evening, thousands were packed for a third straight night into the Riyadh Al-Solh Square in central Beirut, despite security forces having used tear gas and water cannons to disperse similar crowds a day before.

AI slams 'use of excessive force'

Amnesty International said the security forces’ reaction was excessive, pointing out that the vast majority of protesters were peaceful.

“The intention was clearly to prevent protesters gathering — in a clear violation of the right to peaceful assembly,” it said.

Small groups of protesters have also damaged shop fronts and blocked roads by burning tires and other obstacles.

The Internal Security Forces said 70 arrests were made Friday on accusations of theft and arson.

But all of those held at the main police barracks were released Saturday, the National News Agency (NNA) said.

The demonstrations first erupted on Thursday, sparked by a proposed 20 US-cent tax on calls via messaging apps such as WhatsApp.

Such calls are the main method of communication for many Lebanese and, despite the government’s swift abandonment of the tax, the demonstrations quickly swelled into the largest in years.

Prime Minister Hariri has given his deeply divided coalition until Monday evening to give back a reform package aimed at shoring up the government’s finances and securing desperately needed economic assistance from donors.

He held a series of meetings Saturday regarding the situation, NNA said.

Hariri’s political rival, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, told protesters Saturday their “message was heard loudly.”

But he warned against demanding the resignation of the government — saying it could take a long time to form a new one and solve the crisis.

The current unity government has the backing of most Lebanese political parties, including Hezbollah.

Protesters attacked in Tyre

In the southern port city of Tyre, supporters of Shia politician and speaker of parliament Nabih Berri attacked protesters Saturday, a witness said, a day after demonstrators had accused him of corruption.

His Amal political party condemned the attack and called for an investigation.

More than a quarter of the Lebanese population lives below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.

Many of the country’s senior politicians came to prominence during the country’s 15-year civil war, which ended in 1990.

The promised austerity moves are essential if Lebanon is to unlock $11 billion in economic assistance pledged by international donors last year.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1571456/middle-east

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Lebanese protesters reject Hezbollah leader’s speech

NAJIA HOUSSARI

October 20, 2019

Lebanese Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said on Saturday that his party does not support the resignation of Lebanon’s government.

Nasrallah defended the era of President Michel Aoun, adding that a technocrat government “will not last for even two weeks.”

His comments during a televised speech were strongly rejected by protesters who called for politicians to step down over a deepening economic crisis.

Nasrallah said that he was watching the demonstrations on television and he heard people cursing him.

The protesters, who took to the streets in Beirut, southern Lebanon and the Bekaa, included Hezbollah in their accusations against officials. They blame Hezbollah for the economic downturn and silence during years of corruption.

“I was a supporter of Hezbollah and I left the party and I came here to express my stand. I cannot bear to see the slogan of Hezbollah. This party has promised to fight corruption and failed to do so, so they need to resign and leave politics and stick to the resistance,” said a protester from Beirut’s southern suburbs.

Another protester from Tripoli said: “I have no confidence in anyone, not even Nasrallah. His place is to fight Israel and not to interfere in people’s affairs.”

Nasrallah’s speech also drew criticism on social media.

Former MP Boutros Harb tweeted: “It has become clear that there is a huge gap between the people in power and the citizens. Their aim is to stay in their positions and follow their corruption and accumulate their wealth, indifferent to the conditions of people, even if they are hungry and poor. The insolence is that some of them are threatening protesters requesting the government’s resignation that this will lead to chaos. They ignore that their presence is the cause of the scourge.”

Former MP Dr. Mustafa Alloush said: “Did Nasrallah ask himself about the role of his party’s military adventures in the deterioration of the economic situation? Is he willing to take responsibility for repairing what he has ruined?”

“Nasrallah plays the role of UN envoy to the corrupt government. It would have been better to stand by the people,” Rabih Damaj said. “A distorted speech that does not represent the street pulse. You have disappointed some of your supporters, especially the sons of the south and the Bekaa who are currently standing in the face of the gunmen.”

Elie Rashkidi said: “I am not sure where you are getting your news from. But saying that a nonsectarian government will not last two weeks is proof of how much you are uneducated, a sign of how brainwashed you people are, and a proof of how bad the government’s performance is.”

“The Lebanese revolution –x20 said: “Stop brainwashing people, you are the reason for all our problems. With a united Lebanon, we do not need you or Iran to protect any Lebanese or Shiite. Your cause is expired.”

“Nasrallah joins Gibran Bassil and Saad Hariri’s failed attempts to absorb the anger of the street and mock those who demand a technocratic government, claiming that it will not last more than a few days. The solution, according to him, is to give a second chance to this old system, that every day comes up with new methods to steal the country,” said Hadi Machmouchi. He added: “No, sir, we no longer have confidence in all of you, without exception.”

“Raising your voice does not scare us and sabotaging our peaceful demonstrations will not stop us. We will not budge,” said Viviane Zakkour.

Nicole Hajjal said: “Nasrallah’s speech reflects the political class’s confusion in the face of the wrath of the street. This is reflected in the speeches of Nasrallah, Bassil and Hariri.”

“The Lebanese people took to the streets spontaneously. No one can impose on us a presidential term,” said Mohammed Al-Qari.

In his speech, Nasrallah tried to speak on behalf of the protesters: “Officials should realize that people, especially the poor and low-income people, are unable to tolerate new taxes. The demonstrations relayed a message to officials that they will not tolerate that anymore.”

He said: “Lebanon is not a bankrupt country, but we need a good administration. We need to support the current government with a new agenda and a new spirit.” Nasrallah stressed that “in order to save the country, everyone has to make sacrifices.”

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1571396/middle-east

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Egypt unveils trove of ancient coffins excavated in Luxor

October 19, 2019

LUXOR: Egypt revealed on Saturday a rare trove of 30 ancient wooden coffins that have been well-preserved over millennia in the archaeologically rich Valley of the Kings in Luxor.

The Antiquities Ministry officially unveiled the discovery made at Asasif, a necropolis on the west bank of the Nile River, at a press conference against the backdrop of the Hatshepsut Temple.

“This is the first discovery in Asasif by dedicated Egyptian hands, comprised of archaeologists, conservationists and workers,” head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Al-Waziri, told reporters.

The 30 ornately decorated coffins of men, women and children were found only 3 feet underground, stacked in two rows. They are believed to belong to family members of high priests.

Waziri explained that excavations of the site in the 19th century had revealed royal tombs, but this latest discovery had yielded a collection of priests’ burials.

The sarcophagi date back to the 22nd Dynasty, founded around 3,000 years ago in the 10th century BC.

Despite their age, black, green, red and yellow paintings of snakes, birds, lotus flowers and hieroglyphics that cover the coffins are still clearly visible.

“We only did remedial first-aid on these well-preserved coffins. They are considered to be in great condition because there were hardly any settlements” around the site, local Antiquities Ministry restorer Saleh Abdel-Gelil told AFP.

According to Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany, discoveries of ancient Egyptian relics had slowed after the 2011 Arab Spring revolution that toppled long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak and plunged the country in political turmoil.

But several high-level officials, including President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, have in recent weeks affirmed Egypt’s stability following rare, small-scale protests in September that drew a heavy-handed response from security forces.

“Some people, we don’t have to mention names, don’t want us to have these discoveries ... that impress the world,” said Enany before throngs of tourists, referring to Egypt’s detractors.

“These discoveries are priceless for Egypt’s reputation,” he added.

Enany said the “important” Asasif collection will be moved to the recently opened Grand Egyptian Museum next year.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1571211/middle-east

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Southeast Asia

 

Discipline entire DAP by kicking them out of Pakatan govt, suggests PAS MP

0 Oct 2019

BY EMMANUEL SANTA MARIA CHIN

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 20 — A PAS lawmaker has called for the entire DAP to be disciplined, and not just 43 grassroots members, after they recently berated Education Minister Maszlee Malik over an issue concerning the exclusion of a pro-China propaganda comic book from public schools.

Kuala Nerus MP Datuk Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali At-Takiri followed up on calls by Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s (PPBM) Youth wing that action be taken against the 43, and instead suggested it should be the DAP party itself that is subjected to disciplinary action for constantly opposing and criticising government policies and its leaders.

“I fully support Ulya’s statement because Maszlee’s decision to stop the distribution of the comic book was correct. Its contents suggest DAP-style propaganda, glorify China too much and give the wrong (impression) of the Malay Muslim community in Malaysia.

“However, DAP can no longer be disciplined, so kicking them out of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government is in fact the only way to save the country from destruction.

“If not, then all the country’s institutions, including the police, will not be safe with the constant interference and pressure in its operations from DAP, in order to get outcomes that are in line with their intentions,” Mohd Khairuddin wrote in a statement today.

This comes following calls by PPBM’s Youth’s chief of communications Ulya Aqamah Husamudin for DAP leaders to take disciplinary action against their grassroots members who attacked their own ministers.

Ulya was defending fellow PPBM member and federal minister Maszlee, after the latter had ordered for the comic book titled Inisiatif Jalur Dan Jalan — Meraih Manfaat Bersama be withdrawn from schools.

The decision triggered an attack from the DAP grassroots, who accused Maszlee of showing leadership traits similar to that of former Umno ministers and questioned if he was truly loyal to PH.

“Never in history, and only during the reign of PH, have leaders from parties within the government consistently opposed and resisted policies and administration leaders, especially federal ministers and their own prime minister,” Mohd Khairuddin wrote today.

The comic book had attracted attention following reports that it was apparently being distributed to the Sekolah Menengah Jenis Kebangsaan (SMJK) and the Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (SJK) in the country.

The police have said that they have taken the statement of a comic book artist who published the work, while one or two other individuals related to its publication will also be called in the near future.

On Friday, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said a preliminary report by the ministry’s security department found that “something was wrong” with the comic book and that it was appropriate that stern action be taken against those who published and distributed it.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/10/20/discipline-entire-dap-by-kicking-them-out-of-pakatan-govt-suggests-pas-mp/1801987

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Syed Saddiq again labels Hew ‘super stupid’ over pro-China propaganda

19 Oct 2019

BY ZURAIRI AR

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 — Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman has slammed Malaysia-China Business Council chief Hew Kuan Yau over the latter’s involvement in a pro-China propaganda comic.

The youth and sports minister had previously labelled Hew “Super Stupid Superman”, and he repeated that criticism after the Asian Comic Cultural Museum curator dubbed Malays, who are supportive of the persecuted Uighur minority, “radicals”.

“If this is not racism, i don’t know what is,” he said in a brief Facebook post.

Syed Saddiq, then a student activist, had used the label on Hew in 2016 after the latter claimed that the South China Sea belongs to China.

The police said today they have taken the statement of a comic book artist who published Inisiatif Jalur Dan Jalan — Meraih Manfaat Bersama yesterday afternoon in Bukit Aman while one or two other individuals related to its publication will also be called in the near future.

Inspector-Gerneral of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador said the testimony of two other individuals were necessary for him to determine the nature of the offence that was spread through the writing of the alleged propaganda comic.

Yesterday, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said a preliminary report by the ministry’s security department found that something was wrong with the comic and that it was appropriate for stern action against those who published and distributed the comic.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/10/19/syed-saddiq-again-labels-hew-super-stupid-over-pro-china-propaganda/1801889

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Indonesia’s Jokowi kicks off fresh term after wave of crises

October 20, 2019

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo will kick off a fresh term Sunday, following a wave of crises and with Jakarta under heavy security days after Islamist militants tried to assassinate his top security minister.

More than 30,000 security personnel were deployed in the capital amid fears of another attack while Widodo, 58, and vice-president Ma’ruf Amin, 76, are inaugurated at a ceremony slated to draw several foreign leaders, including Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad and Australia’s Scott Morrison.

Widodo, known as Jokowi — a popular, heavy-metal-music loving former businessman from outside the political and military elite — was hailed as Indonesia’s answer to Barack Obama when he was first elected in 2014 to lead the world’s third-biggest democracy.

But Jokowi’s leadership is under mounting criticism after he faced a string of challenges, from nationwide anti-government demonstrations and smog-belching forest fires that sparked diplomatic tensions with Indonesia’s neighbours, to deadly unrest in Papua and an economic slowdown.

Recent protests across the archipelago of 260 million were among the biggest student rallies since mass demonstrations toppled the Suharto dictatorship in 1998.

The headwinds threaten to cast a shadow over Jokowi’s second and final term, a stark reversal of fortune just months after he scored a thumping re-election victory against a former military general.

Sunday’s inauguration also comes a little over a week after his chief security minister was stabbed in an attack by two members of a local extremist group allied to the Islamic State group, who were arrested at the scene.

Dozens of suspected militants have since been detained in a nationwide dragnet following the assassination attempt on Wiranto, a former general who goes by one name. The 72-year-old is recovering in hospital.

Authorities have banned mass demonstrations for fear the inauguration might be used as cover for another attack as militancy continues to plague the world’s biggest Muslim majority nation.

Jokowi’s new term also comes against the backdrop of fears that Indonesia’s two-decades of democratic reforms are being eroded.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2019/10/20/indonesias-jokowi-kicks-off-fresh-term-after-wave-of-crises/

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As Indonesia's Widodo prepares for second term, challenges await

by Kate Mayberry

October 20, 2019

When Joko Widodo was sworn in as Indonesia's president five years ago, tens of thousands of people came out to cheer him in the streets of the capital, Jakarta, in a joyful celebration of the Southeast Asian nation's democracy.

But when Widodo, a former furniture salesman popularly known as Jokowi, takes the oath of office for his second term on Sunday, there will be no parade to mark the occasion.

The 58-year-old, who is the first president to come from outside Indonesia's traditional elite, decided he did not want a fancy celebration, according to local media.

He is not the only one in Indonesia feeling less than celebratory.

Students, who took to the streets last month - in opposition to new laws, including one that curbs the powers of the anti-corruption commission or KPK - have threatened to hold protests around Widodo's inauguration.

"Back in 2014, he was a clean slate," said Johanes Sulaiman, a lecturer and political analyst at Universitas Jenderal Achmad Yani in Indonesia's Bandung.

A former governor of Jakarta, Widodo had not been tested with major policy decisions when he first became president, Sulaiman noted, and that allowed his more liberal supporters to imagine that he was, perhaps, more of a reformist than he really was.

"People were projecting what they wanted onto him and they were disappointed. He's just a regular politician."

In April's elections, Widodo campaigned of continuing his signature policies of big-ticket infrastructure development and pro-poor initiatives, and was elected with 55.5 percent of the vote.

The man who talked of creating "10 new Balis" and oversaw the completion of Jakarta's first metro line in his first five years in office, now has ambitious $33bn plans to establish a new capital city on the island of Borneo and further develop the transport and communication links that are crucial to an archipelago that stretches across three time zones and thousands of islands.

'A lot on his plate'

Despite the scale of Widodo's election victory, the result triggered demonstrations on the streets of Jakarta and an unsuccessful legal challenge from his rival, Prabowo Subianto, a former general with a questionable record on human rights.

Widodo this week appeared to make peace with Subianto - a man he described to his 25.7 million followers on Instagram as a "good friend" - and stepped up efforts to build alliances with other opposition politicians. But he faces significant challenges as he prepares to take the oath of office for a second time.

In the far eastern province of Papua, a low-level rebellion exploded into violence in August with dozens reported dead or wounded and thousands forced from their homes. The unrest followed a military crackdown last December after rebels killed 31 people who had been working on a road construction project.

In the west of the archipelago, fires have ravaged parts of Borneo and Sumatra, while more liberal-minded Indonesians worry about Widodo's commitment to good governance, human rights and the situation of the country's minorities.

"There's a lot on his plate," Sulaiman said.

Widodo's first term was marked by the rise of conservative Islamists and the emergence of a more virulent identity politics - most notoriously seen in the 2017 election for Jakarta governor when incumbent Basuki Tjahaja Purnama was found guilty of blasphemy and jailed for two years.

Popularly known as Ahok, the ethnic Chinese Christian was Widodo's former deputy when he served as the capital's governor.

In this year's election, perhaps in an attempt to stave off accusations that he is not religious enough, Widodo allied himself with Ma'ruf Amin, an elderly Islamic Muslim leader who was previously the leader of Nahdlatul Ulama, the world's largest independent Muslim organisation.

But even as he tries to address religious conservatism, the returning president must also contend with an increasingly assertive parliament or People's Consultative Assembly (MPR).

Widodo and Ma'ruf will recite their oaths in the MPR on Sunday, a Quran held above each of their heads by a Muslim leader.

'Weak president'

"Widodo has always been a weak president," said Muhammad Sinatra, a political analyst at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.

"Of course, he got his mandate from the people, but does it mean he has the confidence of the political parties? He's not even the leader of the PDI-P (the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle - Widodo's party). You can see for the past five years he has been struggling to consolidate his footing as a political leader."

The head of the PDI-P is Megawati Sukarnoputri, the country's fifth president and the daughter of the first – Sukarno. Her daughter has just been elected as the speaker of the house.

While Widodo is seen as a "man of the people", many parliamentarians hail from the traditional political-business-military elite that controlled Indonesia during the 32-year tenure of former President Soeharto, who resigned in the face of mass protests in 1998.

Their actions are decided not by ideology but by patronage, explained Aaron Connelly, who leads the programme on Southeast Asian political change at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore.

Having neutralised the KPK, the PDI-P and other parliamentary parties - some of whose members have been targets of corruption probes - now want to bring back the five-year development plans that were a hallmark of the Soeharto era and force the president to comply with them.

"These parties are effectively cartels," Connelly said. "There are patronage networks within them. If they are not getting what they want, they will not support the government. There are people who are in Widodo's (own) party who will try to undermine him."

Shrinking opposition

Amid the political manoeuvring, Widodo's cabinet is expected to provide a clear indication of where Indonesia is headed over the next five years. The president's meetings with Prabowo, a former son-in-law of Soeharto, have raised expectations that his party, Gerindra, will join the government.

Others may follow.

On Thursday, Widodo said that he had decided on his ministers and would share the names "either the same day" as the inauguration or the day after.

Deasy Simandjuntak, an associate fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, says if all three so-called "opposition parties" end up joining Widodo's government Indonesia's democracy will be the loser.

"Such a significant shrinkage of the opposition poses a challenge to the checks and balances mechanism that is crucial to democracy," she said in an email.

The fear for many is that as Widodo enters his second term, the man once viewed as a liberal reformer may actually be the one who allows its politics to drift back to the past.

"Widodo is the first president since Soeharto not to have been a political player under the New Order," Tim Lindsey, the Director of the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society at the University of Melbourne, wrote in The Conversation this week.

Full report at:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/10/challenges-abound-indonesia-widodo-prepares-term-191019141736412.html

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Mideast

 

Turkey, Kurdish militants accuse each other of violating truce

Oct 19, 2019

Turkey has accused Kurdish militants of violating a temporary truce in northern Syria even as a fragile ceasefire was reported to b holding.

Ankara on Thursday agreed to pause its incursion into Syria for 120 hours while the US facilitates the withdrawal of Kurdish SDF militants from a 20-mile safe zone along the Syrian-Turkish border.

Reuters journalists said on Saturday bombardment heard near the Syrian border city of Ras al Ayn had subsided and that there were just a few Turkish military vehicles crossing the frontier.

However, the Turkish Defense Ministry said Kurdish militants had been violating the ceasefire deal over the past hours using various light and heavy weaponry including rockets.

"The Turkish armed forces fully abide by the agreement," the ministry said in a statement. "Despite this, terrorists... carried out a total of 14 attacks in the last 36 hours."

It said 12 of the attacks came from Ras al-Ayn, one from the town of Tell Abyad in Raqqah Province, and another from the town of Tell Tamr in Hasakah.

Turkey was coordinating with the US "for the agreement to hold soundly and to keep the calm with exception of self-defense," it added.

Kurdish militants accuse Turkey

On Friday, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Turkish airstrikes killed at least five civilians while sporadic clashes continued despite the ceasefire.

Mustafa Bali, a spokesperson for SDF militants, tweeted that “despite the agreement to halt the fighting, air and artillery attacks continue to target the positions of fighters, civilian settlements and the hospital in Serekaniye/Ras al-Ayn.”

“Turkey is violating the ceasefire agreement by continuing to attack the town since last night," he said.

Erdogan denied the  claims as “disinformation,” and US President Donald Trump in a tweet dismissed it as “minor.”

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Just spoke to President @RTErdogan of Turkey. He told me there was minor sniper and mortar fire that was quickly eliminated. He very much wants the ceasefire, or pause, to work. Likewise, the Kurds want it, and the ultimate solution, to happen. Too bad there wasn’t.....

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PressTV-Turkish jets kill civilians; clashes continue despite truce

Turkish airstrikes kill at least five civilians while sporadic clashes continue with Kurdish forces despite a truce agreed between Ankara and Washington in northeast Syria.

Macron: Turkish operation 'crazy'

French President Emmanuel Macron also decried NATO’s inability to react to the “crazy” military campaign of Turkey - a NATO member state - in Syria.

“I consider what’s happened in the last few days (in northern Syria) to be a serious mistake by the West and NATO in the region,” he told reporters after a European Council summit in Brussels.

“It weakens our credibility in finding partners on the ground who will be by our side and who think they will be protected in the long-term. So that raises questions about how NATO functions," he added.

Turkey launched the offensive, called Operation Peace Spring, on October 9 with the aim of purging the northern Syrian regions near its border of Kurdish militants, whom it views as terrorists linked to local autonomy-seeking militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The incursion came after the US abruptly pulled its forces out of the region, clearing the path for Turkey to go ahead with a planned military action against Washington’s longtime Kurdish allies.

The developments led the Kurds to reach out to the Damascus government for support, reaching an agreement with Syrian troops to enter towns near the border with Turkey.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/19/609049/Turkey-Syria-ceasefire

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Turkey accused of using illegal phosphorus munitions in Syria

October 20, 2019

ANKARA: Accusations that Turkey has used banned incendiary weapons against civilians in its invasion of northern Syria are credible, a leading security analyst told Arab News on Saturday.

Kurdish leaders said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s fighter jets had dropped munitions containing napalm and white phosphorus on civilian targets in the border town of Ras Al-Ain, a key objective for Turkish troops.

“The Turkish aggression is using all available weapons against Ras Al-Ain,” the Kurdish administration said. “Faced with the obvious failure of his plan, Erdogan is resorting to weapons that are globally banned, such as phosphorus and napalm.”

Nicholas Heras, an analyst at the Center for New American Security, told Arab News: “There are now multiple credible reports that Turkey has used white phosphorus munitions in its campaign in northeast Syria, and especially against the stubborn defenders of the city of Ras Al-Ain.”

The attacks on Ras Al-Ain are being investigated by UN chemical weapons inspectors, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and Human Rights Watch.

OPCW said it had “not yet determined the credibility of these allegations,” and its inspectors were monitoring the situation.

If the use of banned incendiary weapons were proved, it would be a grave violation of Turkey’s pledge to wage war with concern for civilian lives, Heras said.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of UK-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said there had been a spike in burn wounds treated at the Syrian-Kurdish hospital at Tal Tamir, mostly casualties brought in from the Ras Al-Ain area.

The Kurdish Red Crescent said at least six people were being treated in hospital for burns.

Kurdish officials posted a video on social media showing children with burns that one doctor in Hasakeh province said were consistent with the use of banned weapons.

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a British chemical weapons expert, told the UK newspaper The Times that the burns appeared to have been caused by white phosphorus.

The substance may be used to create a smoke screen, or as a battlefield marker, especially at night, but its use as an incendiary weapon is prohibited under international law.

Since 1997, Turkey has been a signatory to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1571401/middle-east

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Erdogan ‘will resume Syria offensive if cease-fire deal falters’

October 20, 2019

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday Turkey would press on with its offensive into northeastern Syria and “crush the heads of terrorists” if a deal with Washington on the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters from the area were not fully implemented. Erdogan agreed on Thursday in talks with US Vice President Mike Pence a five-day pause in the offensive to allow time for the Kurdish fighters to withdraw from a “safe zone” Turkey aims to establish in northeast Syria near the Turkish border.

On Saturday the fragile truce was holding along the border, with a few Turkish military vehicles crossing the border, Reuters journalists at the scene said.

In the last 36 hours, there have been 14 “provocative attacks” from Syria, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said, adding it was continuing to coordinate closely with Washington on implementation of the accord.

If the agreement with the US, a NATO ally, falters, Turkey will continue its military operation from where it left off, Erdogan said.

“If it works, it works. If not, we will continue to crush the heads of the terrorists the minute the 120 hours (of the cease-fire) are over,” Erdogan told flag-waving supporters in the central Turkish province of Kayseri.

“If the promises that were made to us are not kept, we will not wait like we did before and we will continue the operation where it left off once the time we set has run out,” he said.

The surprise deal to suspend Turkey’s military offensive in Syria hinged on Erdogan’s demand that Washington agree on a time limit on any cease-fire, a senior Turkish official told Reuters on Friday.

The deal aims to stem a humanitarian crisis, which displaced 200,000 civilians in the region, and ease a security scare over thousands of Daesh captives guarded by the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia targeted by the Turkish assault.

Ankara regards the YPG, the main component of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as a terrorist group because of its links to Kurdish insurgents in southeast Turkey.

The planned safe zone would extend more than 30 km deep into Syria. Erdogan said on Friday it would run for some 440 km from west to east along the border, though the US special envoy for Syria said the accord covered a smaller area where Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies were fighting.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1571376/middle-east

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Turkey urges US to use ‘leverage’ to ensure Kurdish force pullout

19 October 2019

Turkey on Saturday urged the United States to use its “leverage” over Syrian Kurdish forces to ensure an orderly pullout under an agreement reached with Washington, the presidency spokesman said.

“We are committed to this agreement: Within five days they are supposed to leave and we have told our American colleagues to use their leverage, their connections to make sure that they leave without any incidents,” spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told AFP in an interview in Istanbul.

Turkey and Kurdish forces on Saturday traded accusations of breaching the truce deal in northeastern Syria which is aimed at halting a Turkish-led offensive on condition that the militants retreat from a “safe zone” along the border.

The deal brokered by the United States gives Kurdish forces five days for a complete withdrawal - a deadline which expires Tuesday night.

Kalin said Turkey was sticking to its end of the deal.

“Since we reached this agreement with the American delegation, we have been committed to this deal,” he said.

“Our president has ordered our troops to maintain their positions and not engage anybody.”

Kalin accused Kurdish forces of perpetrating 16 attacks in the border towns of Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/19/Turkey-urges-US-to-use-leverage-to-ensure-Kurdish-force-pullout.html

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Russia doesn’t rule out new contract to supply air defense systems to Turkey

19 October 2019

Russia does not rule out reaching a new contract to supply its air defense missile systems to Turkey, Interfax news agency cited Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov as saying on Saturday.

Borisov also did not rule out Turkey expressing an interest in purchasing Russian SU-35 and SU-57 aircraft, it added.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/19/Russia-doesn-t-rule-out-new-contract-to-supply-air-defense-systems-to-Turkey-.html

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Huge processions held in Karbala as millions mark Arba'een

Oct 19, 2019

Huge processions have been held in the Iraqi holy city of Karbala as millions of mourners commemorated Arba’een, the 40th day after the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the third Shia Imam.

Images showed tens of thousands of pilgrims descending upon the shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala as Araba’een culminated on Saturday.

Starting since a few days before Arba’een, hundreds of different religious mourning processions, usually representing different communities and tribes of pilgrims from Iraq and around the world, passed by the golden-domed shrines of Imam Hussein and his half-brother Abbas ibn Ali (PBUH).

The pilgrims mourned and chanted slogans commemorating Imam Hussein's martyrdom along the way.

Due to the large amount of pilgrims present during the ceremonies, processions usually take several hours to enter and exit the areas adjacent to the shrines.

The ceremonies in Karbala came as pilgrims flocked to the holy city for more than two weeks, many of whom trekked about 70 kilometers northward from the holy city of Najaf in a symbolic gesture honoring Imam Hussein.

Religious processions and symbolic marches were also held across different cities in Iran marking Arba’een on Saturday.

Iran Leader slams global arrogance's propaganda

In one of the symbolic processions, 3,000 university students mourned Arba'een at the University of Tehran before walking on foot toward the Imam Khomeini Hussaniya in downtown Tehran to meet with Leader of Iran's Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and join him in mourning the day.

In a brief address to the meeting, the Leader warned that the global arrogance and hegemonic powers are using their numerous propaganda machines to portray evil as good and evil as good.

More than thirteen centuries ago, Imam Hussein was martyred along with dozens of his companions during a last-stand battle against the tyrant of the time, Yazid I.

Imam Hussein is consequently a highly-venerated figure remembered not only among Shia Muslims but also among Sunnis and people of other faiths.

The Arba’een walk to Karbala commemorating Imam Hussein has been a longtime tradition among Shia Muslims, specifically in Iraq.

The tradition was largely abandoned after being prohibited during the despotic rule of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Ahlulbayt TV

@AhlulbaytTV

The Arbaeen Walk to Karbala in the year 1916. Many have tried to stop the Arbaeen Walk over the years yet it continues and only gets greater. Imam Hussain’s (as) message will never be silenced!

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

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Annual Araba’een ceremonies have, however, been revived in recent years, with about 20 million pilgrims visiting Karbala according to recent statistics.

The turnout of Iranian pilgrims during this year’s event went beyond 3.5 million pilgrims, topping previous records, according to Iranian officials.

Up until six years ago, only a maximum number of 35,000 Iranian pilgrims were reported to have taken part in any year during the event, marking a stark contrast with recent participation levels.

Participation numbers from other countries have also increased in recent years, with tens of thousands entering Iraq notably from countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Lebanon.

Iraqi mourners disavow US, Israel

On Tuesday, prominent Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on his followers to take part in Saturday’s Arba'een processions to denounce the United States and Israel.

On Saturday, images from today's processions showed Iraqi pilgrims chanting slogans against Washington and Tel Aviv.

The gesture comes against the backdrop of a few tense days of anti-corruption protests across Iraq earlier this month.

Certain Arab media outlets have reported that a US-backed plan sought to provoke the protests in a bid to spark instability in the country.

Observers believe the timing of the provocations demonstrated that foreign-backed elements were seeking to undermine the Arba’een processions, specifically by fueling antagonism towards Iran.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/19/609032/Arbaeen-processions-Karbala

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Erdogan threatens to crush heads of Kurdish forces if they refuse to withdraw

Oct 19, 2019

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey will “implement its own plans” if Ankara and Moscow fail to find a solution to the presence of Syrian government forces in a “safe zone” that his country seeks to establish in northern Syria, warning also that Ankara will “crush the heads” of Kurdish militants if a deal with Washington on withdrawal of Kurdish forces from the region is not fully implemented.  

Erdogan is scheduled to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi on Tuesday, when a five-day US-brokered ceasefire will end. The ceasefire gives the Kurdish-led forces five days to withdraw from the so-called safe zone Ankara wants to establish inside Syria. Ankara says it aims to create the 32km (20-mile) deep "safe zone" along the Syrian side of the border where up to two million Syrian refugees can be resettled. 

Speaking at an opening ceremony in the central Turkish province of Kayseri on Saturday, Erdogan said Syrian government forces were situated under Russian protection in certain parts of Turkey’s operation area where it aims to set up “safe zone,” adding,” We will discuss this issue with Mr. Putin. We need to find a solution.”

"But the same is valid there too. If it works, it works. If not, then we will continue to implement our own plans," he said, without elaborating.

Erdogan also said Turkey would “crush the heads” of Kurdish militants in northern Syria if an agreement with the United States, a NATO ally, falters and Kurds did not withdraw from the area during the 120-hour time period.

"If it works, it works. If not, we will continue to crush the heads of the terrorists the minute the 120 hours (of the ceasefire) are over," Erdogan said.

"If the promises that were made to us are not kept, we will not wait like we did before and we will continue the operation where it left off once the time we set has run out," he said.

On Thursday, US Vice President Mike Pence said Washington and Ankara had agreed on a five-day ceasefire in Turkey's attacks on Kurdish fighters in the region.

The agreement followed negotiations between Pence and Erdogan at the presidential palace in Ankara.

Pence said Ankara would halt its offensive, dubbed Operation Peace Spring, for 120 hours in order to allow Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG) to withdraw 30 kilometers from the Turkey-Syria border.

Reuters journalists said on Saturday that bombardment heard near the Syrian border city of Ra’s al Ayn had subsided and that there were just a few Turkish military vehicles crossing the frontier.

However, the Turkish Defense Ministry said Kurdish militants had been violating the ceasefire deal over the past hours using various light and heavy weaponry, including rockets.

Meanwhile, Mustafa Bali, a spokesperson for the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), tweeted on Friday that “despite the agreement to halt the fighting, air and artillery attacks continue to target the positions of fighters, civilian settlements and the hospital in Serekaniye/Ras al-Ayn.”

Turkey launched the offensive, called Operation Peace Spring, on October 9 with the aim of purging the northern Syrian regions near its border of Kurdish militants, whom it views as terrorists linked to local autonomy-seeking militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The incursion came after the US abruptly pulled its forces out of the region, clearing the path for Turkey to go ahead with a planned military action against Washington’s longtime Kurdish allies.

The developments led the Kurds to reach out to the Damascus government for support, reaching an agreement with Syrian troops to enter towns near the border with Turkey.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/19/609075/Turkey-Erdogan-Russia-Putin-Syria-Kurds

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UN, WHO fail to open humanitarian medical air bridge for Yemenis: Health minister

Oct 19, 2019

The Yemeni minister of public health and population has criticized the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) for their failure to open a humanitarian medical air bridge for Yemeni civilians, who are suffering from conditions that cannot be treated inside the war-battered Arab country.

Speaking at a press conference in the Yemeni capital city of Sana’a on Saturday, Taha al-Mutawakel said the international bodies have not managed to ensure a mechanism for the medical transfer of critically ill patients, by chartered air flight, to medical facilities abroad that are equipped to handle such cases, slamming the international community’s silence on the gradual death of 30,000 patients, who are in dire need of treatment outside Yemen.

قناة المسيرة

@almasirah

وزارة الصحة: الأمم المتحدة والصحة العالمية تتنصلان عن تسيير الرحلات العلاجية عبر مطار صنعاء#المسيرة #المسيرة_نتhttps://almasirah.net/details.php?es_id=46205&cat_id=3 …

وزارة الصحة: الأمم المتحدة والصحة العالمية تتنصلان عن تسيير الرحلات العلاجية عبر مطار صنعاء

كد وزير الصحة العامة والسكان طه المتوكل، اليوم السبت، أن الأمم المتحدة ومنظمة الصحة العالمية تنصلتا عن تسيير الرحلات الإنسانية العلاجية إلى الخارج من مطار صنعاء

almasirah.net

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Mutawakel highlighted that October 20 had been set for the transfer of the first batch of fifty patients abroad, but the United Nations announced only 24 hours before the move that it could not open the humanitarian air bridge from Sana'a International Airport. The patients who had traveled to Sana’a to make use of the service had to return to their hometowns as a result.

The Yemeni health minister then called on the UN and WHO to disclose the reasons for their breach of agreements with authorities in Sana’a in an official statement, otherwise they will be considered complicit with the countries of the Saudi-led coalition of aggression in crimes against Yemeni people.

Back on September 16 last year, the WHO representative in Yemen, Dr. Nevio Zagaria, announced that the UN was working to create a humanitarian medical air bridge in Yemen.

The aim is to help patients suffering from cancer, chronic diseases and congenital anomalies receive the treatment they need. Twelve conditions have been agreed. It’s so important that people who have these conditions receive support and care,” Zagaria said at the time.

The civilians who will benefit include patients suffering from leukemia, early stage tumors, cervical and thyroid cancer, and patients who need radiotherapy, and bone marrow and kidney transplants,” he added.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Press TV in late May, the Yemeni health minister said the Saudi blockade had hampered efforts to help Yemeni civilians with medical assistance.

He said many Yemenis were suffering from acute malnutrition.

Mutawakil added that there were more than 8,000 dialysis patients, but they were denied treatment because the Saudis were preventing the entry of dialysis equipment and supplies.

The Yemeni health minister further highlighted that the number of cancer cases had also increased due to Saudis’ relentless bombardments and their use of internationally-banned ammunition.

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

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 91,000 lives over the past four and a half years.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/19/609062/UN-WHO-failed-to-open-humanitarian-medical-air-bridge-for-Yemenis-Health-Minister

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North America

 

All US troops withdrawing from Syria expected to go to western Iraq: Pentagon chief

October 20, 2019

US Defence Secretary Mark Esper said on Saturday that all of the nearly 1,000 troops withdrawing from northern Syria are expected to move to western Iraq to continue the campaign against Islamic State militants and "to help defend Iraq".

On Thursday, Turkey agreed in talks with US Vice President Mike Pence to a five-day pause in an offensive into northeastern Syria to allow time for the Kurdish fighters to withdraw from a "safe zone" Ankara aims to establish near the Turkish border with Syria.

The truce also aimed to ease a crisis triggered by President Donald Trump's abrupt decision earlier this month to withdraw all 1,000 US troops from northern Syria, a move criticised in Washington and elsewhere as a betrayal of loyal Kurdish allies who had fought for years alongside US troops against the militant Islamic State.

"The US withdrawal continues apace from northeastern Syria [...] we're talking weeks not days," Esper told reporters en route to the Middle East, adding that it was being carried out through aircraft and ground convoys.

"The current game plan is for those forces to re-position into western Iraq," Esper said, adding that they would number about one thousand.

He said the mission for those troops would be to "help defend Iraq" and carry out a counter-Islamic State mission.

A senior US defence official clarified that the situation was still fluid and plans could change.

Any decision to send additional US troops to Iraq is likely to be heavily scrutinised in a country where Iran has been steadily amassing influence.

"That is the current game plan, things can change between now and whenever we complete the withdrawal but that is the game plan right now," the senior official added.

It is unclear whether the US troops will use Iraq as a base to launch ground raids into Syria and carry out airstrikes against Islamic State militants.

The additional US troops would add to the more than 5,000 American troops already based in the country, training Iraqi forces and helping to ensure that Islamic State militants do not resurge.

While Esper said he had spoken with his Iraqi counterpart and will continue to have conversations in the future, the move will likely be viewed with skepticism by some in Iraq.

Iraq is in the midst of a political crisis, as mass protests have led to more than 100 deaths and 6,000 injuries during the week starting Oct 1.

Iran's role in responding to the demonstrations has been another reminder of Tehran's reach in Iraq, where a sizable number of former militia commanders are now members of parliament and support the Iranian agenda.

Syria ceasefire "generally" holding

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that Turkey would press on with its offensive into northeastern Syria and "crush the heads of terrorists" if a deal with Washington on the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters from the area was not fully implemented.

On Saturday the fragile truce was holding along the border, with a few Turkish military vehicles crossing the border, Reuters journalists at the scene said. In the last 36 hours, there have been 14 "provocative attacks" from Syria, Turkey's defence ministry said.

Esper said that the ceasefire in northeastern Syria was generally holding.

"I think overall the ceasefire generally seems to be holding, we see a stabilisation of the lines, if you will, on the ground, and we do get reports of intermittent fires, this and that, that doesn't surprise me necessarily," he added.

There has been concern that the Turkish incursion into northeastern Syria would allow Islamic State militants to make gains and see militants escaping prisons guarded by Kurdish fighters.

Esper said that the United States was still in contact with the Kurdish fighters, known as the YPG, and they appeared to continue to defend the prisons in areas they still controlled.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1511925/all-us-troops-withdrawing-from-syria-expected-to-go-to-western-iraq-pentagon-chief

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Pompeo says US committed to Afghan peace after deadly explosions

20 October 2019

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday Washington remained committed to peace and stability in Afghanistan as police searched for bodies in the rubble of a mosque in eastern Nangarhar province where bomb blasts killed at least 69 people.

The explosives that went off during Friday prayers were placed inside the mosque in the Jawdara area of the Haska Mena district. On Friday, local officials had reported the number of dead at 62 and around 50 wounded.

“The United States remains committed to peace and stability in Afghanistan, and will continue to fight against terrorism,” Pompeo said in a statement. “We stand by the people of Afghanistan who only want peace and a future free from these abhorrent acts of violence.”

The European Union said the attack aimed to undermine hopes for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/10/20/Pompeo-says-US-committed-to-Afghan-peace-after-deadly-explosions.html

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Trump’s remarks about Turkey highlights his ‘arrogance’: Analyst

Oct 19, 2019

US President Donald Trump’s remarks about Turkey’s military offensive in Syria underscores his “arrogance” and “incompetence” and is a manifestation of American imperialism, says an American political analyst.

Trump on Thursday compared the deadly attack by the Turkish military on Syrian Kurds to a schoolyard fight after praising a ceasefire agreed to earlier in the day.

 “Donald Trump’s comments likening the Turkish and Kurdish as a schoolyard fight is so indicative of the ugly American imperialism and Western intervention in the Middle East,” said Rodney Martin, a former congressional staffer based in Arizona.

“It also demonstrates Donald Trump’s arrogance and lack of understanding,” Martin told Press TV on Friday.

“It’s important to note that Donald Trump’s incompetence is just one very minor problem of the American Middle East policy,” he added.

While speaking at a election rally in Dallas, Texas, Trump described his approach to the situation between the Turks and Kurds as "unconventional."

The long-simmering conflict between Turkey and the Kurds exploded into a military attack after Trump gave the green light to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier this month.

"Sometimes you have to let them fight," Trump told his supporters. "Like two kids in a lot, then you pull them apart."

Trump also praised the temporary cease-fire that Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reached with Erdogan.

Pence said on Thursday that Turkey agreed to end the military offensive in northern Syria after Kurdish fighters withdraw from Erdogan’s desired safe zone in Syria near the Turkish border, where the Turkish leader wants to relocate the estimated two million Syrian refugees who are in Turkey.

Turkey last week began pounding the positions of Kurdish fighters with jets and artillery and sent in troops to purge them from the area east of Euphrates.

The offensive came three days after Trump announced he would pull US troops from the region, effectively exposing its allied Kurdish militants to their archenemy, Turkey.

Trump's move to withdraw troops from Syria was widely condemned by both Republican and Democratic Party lawmakers in Congress.

On Thursday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said his government will respond through all legitimate means available to the Turkish offensive.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/19/609052/US-Rodney-Martin

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Turkey-US deal can help to de-escalate situation in Syria: NATO

Faruk Zorlu  

19.10.2019

The agreement between Turkey and the U.S. on a planned safe zone in northern Syria can help to de-escalate situation in the region, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday.

Speaking at a joint news conference with the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Stoltenberg said: "The situation in northeast Syria is fragile and difficult. I believe that this statement can help to de-escalate situation and therefore help to improve the situation on the ground."

On Thursday, Turkey and the U.S. came to an agreement to pause Turkey's anti-terror operation in northern Syria.

Visiting Turkey last week, the NATO chief had said Turkey is at the forefront of "very volatile region", no other allies have suffered more terrorist attacks than Turkey and the country host millions of refugees.

For his part, Pompeo said: “There were some activity today on implementing the agreement between Turkey and the U.S., adding very “intensive coordination” is required to withdraw YPG/PKK from the planned safe zone.

Recalling that some European countries have announced that they will take back foreign fighters affiliated with Daesh terror group, the U.S. state secretary said, he was happy with that but he was also “disappointed with the delays”.

On Thursday, Turkey agreed to pause its Operation Peace Spring for 120 hours to allow the withdrawal of terrorist YPG/PKK forces from the planned safe zone.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence also agreed on Turkey having 20 miles (32 kilometers) of safe zone south of the Turkish border in Syria.

On Oct. 9, Turkey had launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.

Ankara wants to clear northern Syria east of the Euphrates River of the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the YPG/PKK.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/turkey-us-deal-can-help-to-de-escalate-situation-in-syria-nato/1619183

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Europe

 

Iraqi charged in Australia over deadly trafficking ring

19 October 2019

An Iraqi man has been charged in Australia with people trafficking in connection with the drowning deaths of more than 350 asylum seekers in 2001, police said Saturday.

Maythem Radhi, 43, was arrested at Brisbane airport late Friday after being extradited from New Zealand and has been charged with “organizing groups of non-citizens into Australia.”

He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Police claim he was part of a syndicate that charged 421 mostly Iraqi and Afghan refugees for a place aboard an Indonesian fishing boat known by Australian authorities as SIEV-X in 2001.

The vessel sunk in the Indian Ocean while en route to Australia’s Christmas Island, leaving 353 people dead, 146 of them children.

“Police will allege in court that the man, then aged 24, took payments from the passengers,” the Australian Federal Police said in a statement on Saturday – exactly 18 years after the disaster.

“It will also be alleged that he helped facilitate the transportation and accommodation of people in Indonesia in preparation for their journey to Australia,” they added.

Radhi is the third person to face court for their role in the disaster.

Iraqi people smuggler Khaleed Shnayf Daoed was extradited from Sweden to Australia in 2003 and received a nine-year sentence two years later, with prosecutors portraying the then 36-year-old as a key organizer for Egyptian people smuggler Abu Quassey.

Quassey was convicted in Egypt in December 2003 of causing death through negligence and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Radhi is expected to appear in court later this month.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/10/19/Iraqi-charged-in-Australia-over-deadly-trafficking-ring-.html

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Russia says new deal to supply air defense systems to Turkey highly likely

Oct 19, 2019

Russia says it is highly likely that Moscow will sign a new contract with Turkey to supply its military with Russian air defense missile systems.

“The likelihood of a new contract for the delivery of Russian air defense missile systems to Turkey is high,” Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov as saying on Saturday, without giving more details.

Moscow and Ankara finalized an agreement on the delivery of the S-400 missile systems in late 2017. So far, Turkey has received two batteries of the advanced Russian-made systems. The deliveries are set to continue through April 2020.

The S-400 entered service with the Russian army in 2007 and is considered Russia’s most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system.

Capable of engaging targets at a distance of 400 kilometers and at an altitude of up to 30 kilometers, the missile system can destroy aircraft as well as cruise and ballistic missiles. It can also be used against land-based targets.

Turkey and the United States have been at loggerheads over Ankara's purchase of the S-400 systems, which Washington says are not compatible with NATO defenses and poses a threat to US Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets, on which Turkey had signed a deal with the US.

Washington set a deadline of July 31 for Turkey to cancel its order of Russian S-400 interceptors or lose its right to buy 100 F-35s and make parts for even more of the high-tech jets.

While rejecting the US non-compatibility claim, Ankara passed the deadline, saying that the S-400 order “is a done deal.” In response, Washington canceled its F-35 jets contract with Turkey. 

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/19/609085/Russia-Turkey-S400

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Bosnia’s migrant crisis reveals EU’s moral blind spot

October 20, 2019

ABU DHABI: After months of official denials, Croatia’s leader finally admitted in an interview with Swiss television this year that her government had been pushing undocumented immigrants across the border into Bosnia.

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said that a small amount of violence and a “little bit of force” was to be expected when police handle irregular migrants.

The truth is that the use of force by Croatian security officers has become routine since the 2016 border closures along the Western Balkan route, which left thousands of asylum-seekers stranded and looking for new routes to Western Europe.

The daunting problems migrants and refugees face on that route might make the issue of police violence along the Croatia-Bosnia border seem relatively minor. But such comparisons can obscure neither the grim reality of the situation nor the EU’s failure to match its moral rhetoric with action.

Bosnia is emerging as a new transit station for those trying to reach Croatia and continue the perilous journey to the EU’s Schengen area of free movement.

Croatia has a bilateral agreement with Bosnia that allows it to send back irregular migrants coming from across the border. Given that the agreement is not applicable to asylum-seekers, there are numerous accounts of the Croatian border police preventing people from applying for asylum, thus necessitating their illegal movement into Bosnia.

People who try to cut through Croatia to reach the Schengen zone are regarded by the country as “illegal migrants” and frequently subjected to collective expulsion, torture, violence and intimidation at the Croatia-Bosnia border.

Since July 2018, the European Border Agency, Frontex, has had a presence on the Croatia-Bosnia border through a Multipurpose Aerial Surveillance system, which includes daily aerial patrols.

Detecting human-rights violations and expulsion of migrants and asylum-seekers is one of the priorities of the Frontex operation. However, its mission along the Croatia-Bosnia border has proved ineffectual in putting an end to the violence directed against migrants and asylum-seekers, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

On the Bosnian side, the European Commission says that 2018 was marked by a sharp increase in migrants and asylum-seekers in the country, with the number approaching 6,000.

Officially, Bosnia has only one reception center for asylum-seekers with a capacity for 156 people. Many other ad hoc centers across northern Bosnia, managed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN refugee agency, are in a state of dilapidation.

An estimated 5,500 women, men and children are stranded in two Bosnian towns near the Croatian border, Bihac and Velika Kladusa, living in defunct factories that lack even basic amenities.

The influx of migrants and refugees has proved problematic for Bosnia, a country which has yet to recover from the war that accompanied the break-up of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. Conditions in the camps are unhygienic at best.

“We don’t have enough food to feed the whole family, especially the children,” one Afghan mother told Amnesty International. “They are always hungry.”

In the course of 2018, Bosnia witnessed a sharp increase in the number of migrants and refugees entering the country — from 237 recorded in January to 2,557 in May and 2,493 in July 2018.

According to the Bosnian border police, the country of origin of most migrants and refugees is generally self-declared since most lack identification documents. IOM data shows the main countries of origin to be Pakistan (31 percent), Syria (17 percent), Afghanistan (13 percent), Iran (12 percent) and Iraq (9 percent).

The influx has challenged the human and financial resources of the government agencies concerned, according to an early 2019 OSCE report on the situation in Bosnia.

Faced with a growing crisis in its northwestern region, Bosnian authorities have moved hundreds of migrants and asylum-seekers to an isolated forest camp despite the threat from land mines and fires, as well as other health risks.

The UN has refused to operate at the camp, citing concerns about its close proximity to minefields and describing its location on top of a former landfill site as “unsuitable for human habitation.”

The precarious situation of migrants in Bosnia adds to the troubles of those who have been forcibly and illegally returned by the Croatian police, further complicating the crisis.

“We don’t go into the city center because we’re scared that the police will catch us,” 23-year-old Sufyan Al-Sheikh Ahmad, from Syria, told the New Humanitarian, a news agency focused on human stories. “You should see how we were when we lived in Turkey — I looked nothing like this.

“The circumstances here are very hard. Last time, we walked for six days in Croatia and reached Slovenia, but the Slovenian police caught us after two days. They handed us over to Croatian police, who took our money and bag, and broke our telephones. They took us to the border and we had to walk about 30 km to Bihac. That was the fifth attempt.”

After extensive on-the-ground research, HRW communicated its findings to the Croatian Interior Ministry in December 2018. The minister, however, denied all allegations of expulsion and violence. In a meeting this year with Terezija Gras, a top ministry official, HRW was told that no expulsions were taking place, that all returns to Bosnia were being conducted in accordance with Croatian and EU laws, and that the HRW evidence was based on fabricated stories.

In August 2018, the UN refugee agency reported violence, theft and multiple cases of forced return by Croatian police. Subsequently, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights called on the Croatian government to investigate all case of forced return, torture and violence.

“The European Commission needs to protect EU law and fundamental rights at external borders by opening infringement proceedings against Croatia and calling on authorities to investigate alleged abuse and provide fair and efficient access to asylum,” Lydia Gall, the HRW investigator for the Balkans and Eastern Europe, said.

Gall added: “While the EU has dedicated more than €9 million for humanitarian aid to migrants in Bosnia, such an action does not justify ignoring the violence being done to migrants on the Croatian/Bosnian border.”

Amnesty International in March 2019 echoed similar concerns, accusing European governments of being complicit in the “systematic, unlawful and frequently violent returns and collective expulsions” of thousands of asylum-seekers to squalid and unsafe refugee camps in Bosnia.

Yaran Y., a 19-year-old from Iraq, was carrying his disabled 14-year- old sister, Dilva, when they were detained along with at least five others at night in the forest.

The Iraqi said he told police officers that he wanted asylum for his sister, but they just laughed. “They told us to go to Brazil and ask for asylum there,” he told HRW.

An HRW report was blunt: “By prioritizing border control over compliance with international law, European governments are not just turning a blind eye to vicious assaults by the Croatian police, but also funding their activities.”

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1571381/world

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Iraqi charged in Australia over deadly trafficking ring

October 19, 2019

SYDNEY: An Iraqi man has been charged in Australia with people trafficking in connection with the drowning deaths of more than 350 asylum seekers in 2001, police said Saturday.

Maythem Radhi, 43, was arrested at Brisbane airport late Friday after being extradited from New Zealand and has been charged with "organising groups of non-citizens into Australia".

He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Police claim he was part of a syndicate that charged 421 mostly Iraqi and Afghan refugees for a place aboard an Indonesian fishing boat known by Australian authorities as SIEV-X in 2001.

The vessel sunk in the Indian Ocean while en route to Australia's Christmas Island, leaving 353 people dead, 146 of them children.

"Police will allege in court that the man, then aged 24, took payments from the passengers," the Australian Federal Police said in a statement on Saturday -- exactly 18 years after the disaster.

"It will also be alleged that he helped facilitate the transportation and accommodation of people in Indonesia in preparation for their journey to Australia," they added.

Radhi is the third person to face court for their role in the disaster.

Iraqi people smuggler Khaleed Shnayf Daoed was extradited from Sweden to Australia in 2003 and received a nine-year sentence two years later, with prosecutors portraying the then 36-year-old as a key organiser for Egyptian people smuggler Abu Quassey.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1571476/world

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Turkish-Mexican national arrested in Cambodia amid alleged Gulen links

Oct 19, 2019

Cambodian police have arrested the Turkish-Mexican former director of a school run by the movement of US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara blames for a failed 2016 coup, his wife said on Friday.

Osman Karaca, former director of Zaman International School, was arrested by eight policemen while he was at a bank on October 14 in the capital Phnom Penh, said his wife Grace Karaca, who fears he will be deported to Turkey.

"That's the last we have heard of him," Mrs Karaca told Reuters on Friday from Mexico, where she is living with her son.

The Mexican Embassy in Vietnam - it does not have one in Cambodia - confirmed the arrest in a letter and asked Cambodia's Interior Ministry to provide information and let him communicate with a consul.

Cambodia's Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reached for comment. Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun declined to comment. Turkey's Embassy in Phnom Penh did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr Erdogan blames Gulen for the coup attempt and has demanded the extradition of various people tied to Gulen's movement - including staff at schools it funded worldwide. Gulen denies any connection with the abortive putsch.

At its peak, the Gulen movement operated schools in 160 countries, from Afghanistan to the United States. Since the coup attempt, Turkey has pressured allies to shut down Gulen-run establishments.

In Turkey's three-year purge since the coup attempt, more than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial and about 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended from their jobs.

Ankara has defended the clampdown as a necessary response to the scale of the security threat which Turkey faces, vowing to eradicate Gulen's network.

Karaca, who was born in Turkey and holds a Mexican passport, was director of Zaman school from 2002 to 2011, his wife said. The school was sold last year.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/turkish-mexican-national-arrested-in-cambodia-amid-alleged-gulen-links-1.925425

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South Asia

 

Bangladesh Indicts 8 for 2015 Killing Of Publisher

October 13, 2019

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — A court in Bangladesh’s capital on Sunday indicted eight suspected Islamist militants tied to a banned group over the 2015 killing of a man who published books on secularism and atheism.

Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal Judge Majibur Rahman read out the charges to six of the suspects, who pleaded not guilty. Another two, including a sacked military official, remained fugitives, but the judge issued arrest warrants for them. Police say they belong to the banned domestic militant outfit Ansar al Islam.

In October 2015, suspected militants hacked Faisal Abedin Deepan of the Jagriti Prokashoni publishing house. On the same day, another publisher, Ahmed Rashid Tutul, survived an attack by suspected militants in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital.

Both victims were publishers of Bangladeshi-American writer and blogger Avijit Roy, who was hacked to death in February 2015.

Several other atheists, bloggers and foreigners were killed by suspected militants in 2015. A bomb attack on Oct. 24 of that year in Dhaka aimed at Shia Muslims killed a teenager and injured more than 100 other people. Foreigners including Italian aid volunteer and a Japanese agricultural worker were also killed.

Authorities in Bangladesh say the network of the militant groups has been broken after a massive crackdown following a 2016 attack on a cafe in Dhaka in which 22 people, including 17 foreigners, were killed by five young men who belonged to the Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh group, according to police.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the 2016 attack and other attacks, but Bangladesh’s government said that domestic groups were behind them, and that IS has no existence in the country.

https://apnews.com/f11b1a9215b6427eb59aa181d210829f

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Afghans Search For Bodies After At Least 69 Killed In Mosque Explosions

19 October 2019

Police and local people searched on Saturday for more bodies in the rubble of a mosque in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province after bomb blasts in which at least 69 people were killed during Friday prayers.

The explosives were placed inside the mosque in Jawdara area of Haska Mena district.

Sohrab Qaderi, a member of Nangarhar’s provincial council, said the mosque, with capacity of more than 150 worshippers at a time, was full of people when the bombs exploded.

“Bodies of 69 people, including children and elders, have been handed to their relatives,” Qaderi said, adding that more bodies could be lying under the rubble.

On Friday, local officials had reported the number of dead at 62 and around 50 wounded.

No group has claimed responsibility, but the government accused Taliban insurgents, who are fighting to reimpose strict Islamic law after they were ousted from power in 2001 by US-led forces.

Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban, denied the group was responsible. In a tweet, he said that witnesses to the attack said it was a mortar attack by government forces.

One of the wounded, Gulabistan, 45, said the mosque was full when the explosion happened.

“Mullah already started prayers and reciting verses of holy Koran, when a huge boom happened, then all around me it got dark, the only thing I remember is females’ voices and then I found myself in the hospital,” Gulabistan said.

He said he had been told his son was among the dead while his brother and two nephews had been wounded and were in hospital.

A Reuters reporter saw 67 freshly excavated graves for the victims in Jawdara village.

US ambassador John R Bass, said in a tweet that “killing worshippers assembled together in peace is unconscionable. All Afghans have the right to live and worship together in safety.”

The European Union said the attack aimed to undermine hopes for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

The Taliban and ISIS fighters are actively operating in parts of Nangarhar, which shares a border with Pakistan in the east.

The mosque attack was the latest act of violence in the country. A UN report this week said 4,313 civilians were killed and wounded in Afghanistan’s war between July and September.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/10/19/Afghans-search-for-bodies-after-at-least-69-killed-in-mosque-explosions.html

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10 Taliban and ISIS militants killed, detained in Special Forces raids in 4 provinces

20 Oct 2019

The Special Forces killed an ISIS militant and detained 9 militants including 2 ISIS fighters and 7 Taliban during the operations in 4 provinces.

The military officials said Sunday the Special Forces arrested 4 Taliban militants and destroyed a small cache of weapons in Chak-e Wardak district of Wardak.

The officials further added that the Special Forces arrested 3 Taliban militants and destroyed a small cache of weapons in Dzadran district of Paktiya province.

The Special Forces killed an ISIS fighter, detained 2 others and destroyed a small cache of weapons in Sherzad district of Nangarhar province, the officials added.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/10-taliban-and-isis-militants-killed-detained-in-special-forces-raids-in-4-provinces-04243/

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ISIS militant hailing from Iran surrenders to Afghan forces in Nangarhar

20 Oct 2019

A militant of ISIS terrorist group hailing from Iran handed over himself to the Afghan forces in eastern Nangarhar province.

According to a statement released by Governor’s Office of Nangarhar, the 23-year-old ISIS fighter surrendered to Afghan Border Forces in Haska Mina district.

The militant confessed that Abdul Ahmad Irani, one of the leaders of ISIS terrorist group recruited him to ISIS ranks in Nangarhar.

However, he said he decided to abandon the group after realizing that the group’s activities are against all principles and regulations of Islam.

The ISIS militants are active in some remote districts of Nangarhar province where they often attempt to carry out terrorist related activities.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/isis-militant-hailing-from-iran-surrenders-to-afghan-forces-in-nangarhar-04242/

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Pakistani couple arrested in the restive Kunduz province of Afghanistan

20 Oct 2019

The Afghan forces arrested a Pakistani couple in the restive Kunduz province of Afghanistan, the defense officials said.

Fawad Aman, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense said the security forces arrested the couple in Dasht-e Arachi district of Kunduz.

Aman further added that the couple was providing healthcare to the wounded Taliban fighters in Kunduz.

Meanwhile, the Special Operations Corps said in a statement that the security forces arrested the couple during the clearance operations in Dasht-e Archi district.

The statement further added that the security forces also killed 12 Taliban militants and wounded 10 others during the same operations.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/pakistani-couple-arrested-in-the-restive-kunduz-province-of-afghanistan-04244/

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Africa

 

Over 20 al-Shabaab militants killed in central Somalia

Mohammed Dhaysane and Magdalene Mukami  

19.10.2019

MOGADISHU, Somalia

Over 20 Somali-based insurgent group al-Shabaab militants were killed and several weapons seized after Somali National Army (SNA) conducted a military operation in central region of Hiran, officials said on Saturday.

Mohamed Nuur Agajoof, Jalalaqsi town mayor, told media that the military operation was carried out between Jalalaqsi and Bula Barde towns in Hiran region, killing over 20 al-Shabaab militants.

''We have killed over 20 al-Shabaab members during the operation and we also seized 18 guns and ammunition from al-Shabaab,'' Agajoof said.

The operation comes after the group attacked our bases several times and we will continue the military operation against the militant group, he added.

The operation comes days after Hirshabelle State President Mohamed Abdi Ware called on the central government to support his administration in the fight against the al-Shabaab.

On Oct. 07, an operation took place at the vicinity of Abdalla Birole, located some 55 kilometers (34 miles) from the port city of Kismayo, killing over 20 al-Shabaab militants.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/over-20-al-shabaab-militants-killed-in-central-somalia/1619319

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S.Sudan rebel leader in Juba for talks as peace deal falters

19 October 2019

South Sudan’s exiled rebel leader Riek Machar arrived in Juba on Saturday in a bid to salvage a peace deal with less than a month to go until he is to form a government with President Salva Kiir.

The foes, whose falling out in 2013 triggered a bloody civil war that has left almost 400,000 people dead and sparked a major humanitarian crisis, signed a peace deal in September last year that is meant to see them reunite once again in government.

The deadline for the formation of this government, in which Machar will serve as first vice president, has already been delayed once and is now set for November 12.

However crucial technical steps contained within the agreement, such as creating a unified army and agreeing on the internal boundaries of states, have failed to make progress.

The two will have a closed door meeting at the presidential palace today (Saturday),” a spokesman for Machar’s party the SPLM-IO, Manawa Peter Gatkuot, said after the rebel leader’s arrival.

Machar and Kiir met in September in Juba, but failed to agree on the two issues of security and state boundaries.

When it won independence in 2011, the country was divided into 10 states but it has since been subdivided into 32, in what critics see as a gerrymandering of traditional boundaries by Kiir to shore up his power.

Machar is also seeking assurances about his personal security before permanently returning to Juba, which he fled under a hail of gunfire when a previous peace deal collapsed in July 2016.

Efforts to get warring parties to canton their troops with a view towards forming a unified army - a key part of the peace deal - have made little progress.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/19/S-Sudan-rebel-leader-in-Juba-for-talks-as-peace-deal-falters-.html

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Niger floods force 23,000 from their homes

20 October 2019

Floods in southeast Niger have forced 23,000 people to flee their homes since early October, officials said Saturday, threatening a new humanitarian crisis in a region already wracked by Boko Haram extremist violence.

Heavy rains have caused the Komadougou Yobe river that flows through the semi-desert Diffa region into Lake Chad to burst its banks, inundating villages, flooding fields and damaging crops.

Two villages near the city of Diffa were “completely submerged” and 2,500 households have been forced to move, according to national radio the Voice of the Sahel.

Some 400 families were sheltering in a gym in the city, it added.

“We have been fighting for days to stop the water rising, but it’s not working,” Amadou Issa, a rice farmer, told AFP. “The sandbags we’ve been using to keep the water out are completely under water.”

Extreme weather events are common in Niger, one of the world’s poorest countries.

Between June and September 57 people were killed and more than 130,000 affected by flooding according to government figures.

The capital Niamey was hit badly in September, with the waters of the Niger River – the third biggest in Africa – rising to a level not seen in more than 50 years and swamping parts of the city.

Last year, drought and flooding led to food shortages in a crisis which, exacerbated by extremist violence, left more than 10 percent of the population needing humanitarian aid.

Niger, along with neighboring Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Mauritania is also struggling against escalating attacks by armed extremists.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/10/20/Niger-floods-force-23-000-from-their-homes-.html

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Police free nearly 150 from school in northern Nigeria

20 October 2019

Police said on Saturday they had freed nearly 150 students from a purported school in northern Nigeria that claimed it was teaching the Koran but had instead subjected them to abuse.

It was the fourth such operation in a month and brings the total released from religious schools in northern Nigeria to more than 1,000.

The raid will put more pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari to take action on loosely regulated Islamic schools called Almajiris, which experts say teach millions of children across the mainly Muslim north of the country.

Kaduna state governor Nasir El Rufai ordered the raid on the Islamic reform school in Rigasa, officials said. The captives were gathered later at a camp nearby, standing in lines in maroon uniforms as state officials tended to them.

Unlike the other schools, at least 22 of the 147 released captives were female, Hafsat Baba, Kaduna’s commissioner for human services told Reuters.

The condition of those released was not immediately clear.

An official told Reuters the school was owned by the same man who owned one of the schools raided in neighboring Katsina state earlier this week and had already been arrested by police.

Those freed from other schools over the past month - including two this week - were chained to walls, beaten and sexually molested.

At the other raided facilities, some parents thought their children would be educated and even paid tuition. Other families sent misbehaving or difficult family members and wards to them for discipline.

Buhari, whose home state is Katsina, said in June that he planned to ban Almajiris eventually but would not do so right away.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/10/20/Police-free-nearly-150-from-school-in-northern-Nigeria.html

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Libya’s navy intercepts about 150 Europe-bound migrants

October 19, 2019

CAIRO: Libya’s coast guard says it has intercepted around 150 Europe-bound migrants off the country’s Mediterranean coast.

Spokesman Ayoub Gassim said Saturday the migrants had been returned to shore and would be taken to a detention center in the capital, Tripoli.

Gassim said the three rubber boats with 148 Arab and African migrants were stopped off Libya’s western towns of Zuwara and Sabrata Friday, and included 15 women and 11 children.

Libya has emerged as a major transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty to Europe. In recent years, the EU has partnered with Libya’s coast guard and other local groups to stem the dangerous sea crossings.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1571236/middle-east

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Kenyan police launch manhunt for Al-Shabaab commander in border region

October 19, 2019

Kenya’s security officers said on Friday they have launched a major manhunt for Al-Shabaab militant behind the recent murder of 11 police officers near the border with Somalia.

The police said Abdullahi Banati, led a team of militants that planted improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that killed paramilitary police officers from Harhar camp on 12th October.

“Investigations into the incident indicate that Banati is the commander of a team of militants operating along the border and masterminding nuisance attacks against security agencies and the members of the public,” the police said in a statement.

The police officers lost their lives at Degow on the road between Liboi and Damajale close to the Kenya-Somalia border as they were conducting a routine security patrol.

Police are said to have traced the activities of Banati and his team of militants to the border and it is suspected that he escaped to Somalia with the rest of the operatives.

The police said that the group is responsible for cross-border incursions into the Kenyan territory especially in Garissa and is responsible for numerous attacks along the border area.

“Banati planned the attack with the help of operatives operating within the Dadaab refugee complex. This will not be the first time that the complex has been adversely mentioned,” said the police.

In the past, the police said the refugee complex has played host to attackers who carried out the Garissa University attack in 2015 in which 148 people were killed and also allowed the transit of attackers during the Westgate attack in 2013 in Nairobi where 67 people lost their lives and the Dusit attack on 15th January where 25 people were killed.

“Police are calling on the members of the public with information on Abdullahi Banati to come forward and report in order to assist in investigations into the terror network in Garissa,” it said.

Full report at:

https://www.somaliaffairs.com/news/kenyan-police-launch-manhunt-for-al-shabaab-commander-in-border-region/

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