New Age Islam
Wed Oct 21 2020, 11:25 AM

Islamic World News ( 21 Feb 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Renewed $600,000 Fatwa Issued To Kill British Author Salman Rushdie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: A protest against Rushdie in 2004 (Picture: Getty)

 

Renewed $600,000 Fatwa Issued To Kill British Author Salman Rushdie

More Than 150 People Killed In ISIS Blasts in Syria as US, Russia Push Truce

Islamic State Supporters Meet at Jakarta Mosques to Recruit Members for Militant Group

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Mideast

Renewed $600,000 Fatwa Issued To Kill British Author Salman Rushdie

Turkey About To Create Its Gaza in Immediate Neighbourhood

Academics Accuse Erdoğan of Declaring All Actors in Mideast Enemies

Russia, US reach provisional deal on terms of Syria cease-fire

Turkish PM expects Russian tourists to keep coming to Turkey

PKK releases 3 Turkish state news agency journalists

Turkey tops censorship list in Twitter transparency report

Minister slams EU rapporteur Piri on Diyarbakır visit, claims has lost neutrality

Turkish-Saudi ground operation in Syria not on agenda

TAK member’s father claims Ankara bomber’s photo is of his son

14 arrested as part of Ankara bombing investigation

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Arab World

More Than 150 People Killed In ISIS Blasts in Syria as US, Russia Push Truce

Saudi Arabia puts 30 Shias on trial for spying for Iran

Army Destroys Militants' Concentration Centres, Kills Dozens of Terrorists in Homs Province

Militants Command Centre in Dara'a Reduced to Rubble by Syrian Army

Ansarullah Seizes Modern US-Made Missiles from Saudi Military Bases in Najran

Syrian Aircraft Drop Surrender Leaflets over Militants in Jisr al-Shoughor

Islamic State bombs planted in Ramadi hinder return of displaced families

I'm a Muslim & I love you: Egypt-born man to Trump

Homs: Militant Positions Sustain Major Damage in Syrian Armed Forces' Attacks

Syrian Army Continues to Smash Militants across Homs Province

Syria: Gov't Forces Score More Victories against Militants in Lattakia

Syrian Army Continues to Advance against Militants in Aleppo

Militants Retreat from More Positions in Lattakia's Mountainous Regions

Syria: Rival Militants Report Large Casualties among ISIL Terrorists in Northern Aleppo Province

Al Azhar urges tolerance between Muslim sects

Homs: ISIL, Al-Nusra Front Terrorists Sustain Heavy Losses in Syrian Army Attacks

Report: Over 1,600 Saudi Forces Killed in Ta'iz Province since March

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Southeast Asia

Islamic State Supporters Meet at Jakarta Mosques to Recruit Members for Militant Group

Malaysia Calm as Australia Issues Terror Alert for Kuala Lumpur

Jokowi and House agree to postpone KPK Law revision

Malaysia safe for tourists despite Australian travel advisory, says Tourism Minister

Nazri wants Muhyiddin suspended

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South Asia

6 Militants Killed In Afghan Air Force, Army Raids in Laghman

US Drone Strike Leaves 3 Militants Dead along Durand Line

1 killed, 2 wounded as rocket hits governor’s compound in Baghlan

Prince Aga Khan focuses on vital role of Civil Society during Africa conference

Afghan troops pull out of second Helmand district

NDS rescues hostage as kidnappers demanded $1 million ransom

Abdullah remembers 1980 Kabul uprising against Soviet forces

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Pakistan

Urdu in Pakistan Schools Contributed To Political Tensions: UNESCO

Drone Strike in Lower Kurram Agency Wounds One Suspected Militant

Indefinite curfew imposed in Mohmand Agency

Pakistan at tenth place in list of world's largest arms importers for 2015

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India

I Am Not a Terrorist: JNU's Umar Khalid

Pakistan's FIR on Pathankot Attack Is Not Enough, Says Indian Defence Minister

India set to seal major power deal in Bangladesh, beating China

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Africa

Libya's NOC Warns Of More Islamic State Attacks on Oil Facilities

Germany mulling military training mission in Tunisia: Report

African Union Commission chair visits Turkish school

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Europe

Pope Francis Calls for Worldwide Ban on Death Penalty

Macedonia Closes Border to Afghans, Allowing Syrian And Iraqi Refugees Only

Fire damages future refugee home in eastern Germany

Russia's defence minister on surprise visit to Iran

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North America

John Kerry Urges Palestinians, Israelis to Ease Tensions

Compiled by New Age Islam Edit Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/renewed-$600,000-fatwa-issued-to-kill-british-author-salman-rushdie/d/106430 

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Renewed $600,000 fatwa issued to kill British author Salman Rushdie

Monday 22 Feb 2016

Threats against British author Salman Rushdie have been renewed with the announcement of a $600,000 reward for his assassination by Iranian news outlets.

Some view his novel ‘The Satanic Verses’ as blasphemous as it discusses the history of Islam using what people have claimed is a derogatory term for the Prophet Mohammed.

More than 20 years after the initial demand for his death in February 15 1989, 40 state-run media outlets in Iran have joined together to offer the reward for his execution.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 14: Salman Rushdie attends the premiere of 'Midnight's Children' during the 56th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon West End on October 14, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)

What is the history of this?

In 1989, Iran’s first Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a ‘fatwa’ (ruling) against Rushdie saying: ‘I inform the proud Muslim people of the world that the author of the Satanic Verses book, which is against Islam, the Prophet and the Koran, and all those involved in its publication who are aware of its content are sentenced to death.’

The imam also called for the death of anyone involved in its publication.

Since the edict, the book’s Japanese translator Hitoshi Igarashi was stabbed to this while the Italian translator and Norwegian publisher both survived assassination attempts.

Rushdie was put under police protection and spent years in hiding.

rushdie fars

Fars included an image of Rushdie with a target on his head

One of the biggest contributors was Fars News Agency, connected to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which donated one billion Rials (nearly $30,000).

This is the biggest push to assassinate Rushdie since the Shia cleric’s fatwa was first issued in 1989.

‘Imam Khomeini’s fatwa is a religious decree and it will never lose its power or fade out,’ Iran’s deputy culture minister Seyed Abbas Salehi told Fars last year.

metro.co.uk/2016/02/22/renewed-600000-fatwa-issued-to-kill-british-author-salman-rushdie-5710279/

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More than 150 people killed in IS blasts in Syria as US, Russia push truce

Feb 22 2016

SAYYIDA ZAINAB: A string of suicide bombings near a Shia shrine outside Syria's capital and in Homs claimed by the militant Islamic State (IS) group killed more than 150 people Sunday, as Washington and Moscow worked to secure a ceasefire.

Near Damascus, a car bombing followed by two consecutive suicide attacks ripped through the area of the shrine of Hazrat Zainab (RA) and killed 96 people according to The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Syria's official news agency SANA, quoting a police source, said 178 people, including children, were among the wounded.

An AFP reporter said the blasts struck about 400 metres from the revered shrine containing the grave of a granddaughter of the Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him).

A January attack in the same area also claimed by IS killed 70 people.

Full report at: dawn.com/news/1241151/more-than-150-people-killed-in-is-blasts-in-syria-as-us-russia-push-truce

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Islamic State supporters meet at Jakarta mosques to recruit members for militant group

Feb 22 2016

A secretive gathering of Islamic State (IS) supporters at a mosque in central Jakarta has been witnessed by the ABC.

It is the first time a foreign film crew has been present at the meeting, which is understood to be part of a recruitment drive in the Indonesian capital.

After a tip-off and a lengthy search, the As-Syuhada mosque was located down a street not big enough for cars.

An ABC cameraman — an Indonesian national and Muslim — gained access to the meeting and while attempts were made to stop him filming, what he managed to capture is clear.

"They declare that territory as Islamic State where God's law is upheld fully and where there isn't any intimidation from foreign countries," hardline cleric Syamsudin Uba told the gathering.

Full report at: abc.net.au/news/2016-02-22/islamic-state-supporters-run-recruitment-drive-at-jakarta-mosque/7188058

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Mideast

Renewed $600,000 fatwa issued to kill British author Salman Rushdie

Monday 22 Feb 2016

Threats against British author Salman Rushdie have been renewed with the announcement of a $600,000 reward for his assassination by Iranian news outlets.

Some view his novel ‘The Satanic Verses’ as blasphemous as it discusses the history of Islam using what people have claimed is a derogatory term for the Prophet Mohammed.

More than 20 years after the initial demand for his death in February 15 1989, 40 state-run media outlets in Iran have joined together to offer the reward for his execution.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 14: Salman Rushdie attends the premiere of 'Midnight's Children' during the 56th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon West End on October 14, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)

What is the history of this?

In 1989, Iran’s first Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a ‘fatwa’ (ruling) against Rushdie saying: ‘I inform the proud Muslim people of the world that the author of the Satanic Verses book, which is against Islam, the Prophet and the Koran, and all those involved in its publication who are aware of its content are sentenced to death.’

The imam also called for the death of anyone involved in its publication.

Since the edict, the book’s Japanese translator Hitoshi Igarashi was stabbed to this while the Italian translator and Norwegian publisher both survived assassination attempts.

Rushdie was put under police protection and spent years in hiding.

rushdie fars

Fars included an image of Rushdie with a target on his head

One of the biggest contributors was Fars News Agency, connected to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which donated one billion Rials (nearly $30,000).

This is the biggest push to assassinate Rushdie since the Shia cleric’s fatwa was first issued in 1989.

‘Imam Khomeini’s fatwa is a religious decree and it will never lose its power or fade out,’ Iran’s deputy culture minister Seyed Abbas Salehi told Fars last year.

metro.co.uk/2016/02/22/renewed-600000-fatwa-issued-to-kill-british-author-salman-rushdie-5710279/

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Turkey about to create its Gaza in immediate neighborhood

February 21, 2016

If Turkey cannot resolve its Kurdish issue and continue to breed ethnic polarization, a new Gaza might be created right at its borders, this week's guest for Monday Talk has said.

“I suggest that Turkey stop dealing with foreign matters for a while and look inside to resolve its own difficulties and reestablish the peace process in order to solve the Kurdish issue and then, with stability and security inside, use its potential to become a source of inspiration for other countries in the region. Then, it can be more confident in contributing to the resolution of regional problems,” said Ünal Çeviköz, a veteran ambassador who serves on the board of trustees of İstanbul Kadir Has University and writes for web-based news portal Radikal.

Çeviköz also said Turkey's problems with Syrian Kurds are very much linked to its domestic Kurdish problem.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu recently called on the United States to give unconditional support in the fight against Syrian Kurdish militants, illustrating growing tension between Ankara and Washington over policy in northern Syria.

Despite denials by the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), Turkey says the People's Protection Units (YPG) -- the armed wing of the PYD that the United States is backing in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria -- was involved in the recent Ankara bombing that killed 28.

Çeviköz answered our questions on the recent suicide attack in Ankara and other related issues.

How would you evaluate the bombing in the heart of Ankara and the Turkish government's quick identification of the perpetrator?

First of all, I'd like to offer my condolences to the victims' families, and I wish the injured a speedy recovery. It is probably one of the most serious terrorist attacks in Turkey's history. It was, as you mentioned, in the heart of the country, in the heart of the capital. The prime minister immediately declared that the perpetrator was the YPG. It is quite striking to identify the bomber and his links to the YPG in a matter of less than 24 hours at a time when you cannot even identify the victims. Identifying the bomber was possible only through a fingerprint, and that means the same fingerprint was in our records as he entered Turkey after the events of Kobani. So if you know the links and identity of this person, how was he able to freely conduct such an act in the capital? Attempts by the government to try and shape public opinion that the event and the YPG are linked are dubious. I am afraid it will be hard for Turkey to convince the world that this terrorist event was the act of the YPG. And the YPG denies any connection to the bombing and has stated it does not view Turkey as an enemy.

It seems like there is a sharp difference in how Turkey and the international community view the YPG. How does this affect Turkey's relations with the international community?

Turkey has been expressing a different line regarding Syria right from the outset. Turkey has not been taking the same line with the world and the international community. It thought the main problem was Bashar al-Assad and the Baathist regime. No one interfered in the Syrian conflict at the beginning, but as the situation became more chaotic, several radical elements viewed Syria as a fertile ground. That is how ISIL started to use Syrian territory and started to capture and control some areas. When international public opinion started to see ISIL as the main threat emanating from Syria, they then started to fight against its terrorism. The priority of the international community is combating terrorism and ISIL whereas Turkey still sees the Baathist regime and Assad as the main source of the problem. I thought both views came closer to one another after the June 7 election last year when Turkey decided to open İncirlik Air Base, giving the impression that it might be shifting its priority from the Assad regime to combat against ISIL but that didn't happen. As you recall, only a few bombings were realized against ISIL targets but the main operations of the Turkish Air Force focused on the PKK.

‘Turkey not seen as an asset but liability'

Turkey still insists that Assad should go…

And when there were attempts to have a political solution to the Syrian problem, Turkey still insisted that Assad should go, that he should not be a presidential candidate and that he should not even be part of a political settlement. This showed us the difference of opinion between Turkey and the international community was still there. The second difference of opinion between Turkey and the international community was in regards to the PYD. As the main priority of the international community was the fight against ISIL, the PYD and its military wing the YPG were important partners in the fight against ISIL. Turkey views the PYD as a terrorist organization and therefore feels it should not be considered as a partner to fight ISIL. Turkey sees the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the PYD and ISIL as being the same type of organizations. The third difference of opinion started after the shooting down of the Russian military aircraft on Nov. 24. Before Nov. 24, Turkey was able to carry out certain air operations and participate in air operations and the Turkish Air Force was able to attack ISIL positions, though in a very limited way. Now they are the target of Russian aircrafts. All of this threatens the security of Turkey because international terrorism has been exported to Turkey.

What can we expect with regards to Turkey's position in the international arena?

In the eyes of the international coalition, in the eyes of the United States, Turkey will probably no longer be seen as an asset but as a liability. It has lost its honest broker position to resolve problems in the region. Differences of opinion regarding the Syrian issue have placed Turkey in a position of liability.

‘YPG is finding other avenues of progress'

In the region, there are no allies of Turkey left except for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) even though Iraqi Kurds were earlier considered by Ankara as enemies. Now Turkey is treating Syrian Kurds the same way it did with Iraqi Kurds before. Taking lessons from the past, can't Turkey find ways to cooperate with the PYD to sort out the differences of opinion?

Turkey can certainly find a way to cooperate with different actors in the region and Kurds living in Syria are probably one of those actors. Differences of opinion between Turkey and Syrian Kurds started at the beginning of the process because Turkey wanted to support the Syrian opposition that encompassed several different organizations, be they Syrian Arabs, Turkmen, Sunni Syrians or some Alawite Syrians. But the PYD did not want to become a part of that. When PYD leader Saleh Muslim visited three to four years ago, Turkey insisted that the PYD be part of the coalition. There are Kurds in the Syrian opposition but the PYD believes they are the strongest group that represents the interests of Syrian Kurds and they did not want to be part of a coalition that Turkey supported. Still, there is the possibility for cooperation. As you know, Turkey has not always had good relations with the KRG and now Turkey has a consulate general in Arbil and we have good energy and trade relations.

It seems like Turkey's shelling of YPG positions are not slowing down the advance of the YPG. Is it possible for Turkey to stop the YPG's advance?

The shelling is taking place in the Azaz region but the PYD-YPG is active to the south of Azaz, like Tell Rifaat. It does not seem to have any deterrent results, according to reports. The Turkish government uses the Ankara bombing as a pretext to continue shelling the YPG. Reports suggest the YPG is finding other avenues of progress in the region. The only way to stop or deter the YPG is a serious stance taken by the international community against the YPG. There are limited signs of this, for example, the US criticism of the YPG for acquiring territory and benefiting from the chaotic situation in the region.

‘Russia will try to hurt Turkey in order to get retaliation'

What dangers are there if Turkey cannot find ways of cooperating with Kurds in the region?

Turkey is facing several problems. In particular, the problem with Syrian Kurds is very much linked to its own Kurdish problem. It is time for Turkey to come to terms with Kurds, our compatriots and loyal citizens of Turkey. As long as Turkey continues to alienate its own Kurds and breeds ethnic polarization, this contributes to the polarization and alienation of Kurds outside because they have relatives in Turkey -- as seen in the events of Kobani where Kurds were prosecuted by ISIL and Ankara did not show any sympathy for them. This created a Kurdish reaction toward Ankara. I'm afraid Turkey is about to create a Gaza in its immediate neighborhood if it views Rojava as an enemy. I'm also afraid Ankara's policy of criticizing Turkey's allies vis-à-vis the PYD issue is also distancing us from our allies. This may also hurt the solidarity that Turkey expects from its allies.

How has the Nov. 24 incident of the downing of the Russian military jet by Turkey influenced the course of events for Turkey?

With the antagonization of different actors in the neighborhood, you force those “enemies” to have solidarity among themselves. This is what is happening. We used to have very good relations with the Syrian regime, we tried to have good relations with Kurds living outside of Turkey and we had excellent relations with Russia until Nov. 24. Now we have serious problems with all of them. The situation was aggravated by the downing of the jet. Now Russia will try to hurt Turkey in order to get retaliation. They think they have the right to force Turkey to pay some kind of compensation against the shooting down of the Russian jet. They are likely to use several instruments, for example manipulating the terrorist elements that bother Turkey. There is already a proxy confrontation between Turkey and Russia thorough the Syrian theater, as Turkey claims to support moderate forces against the Baathist regime while Russia, Iran and the PYD-YPG are behind the Baathist regime. And Russia does not differentiate between ISIL and other opposing forces to the Assad regime. To Russia, ISIL and others including al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army are the same. Recently, Russia asked the United Nations Security Council to meet to discuss Turkish shelling of YPG targets in Syria's north, and the UNSC has urged Ankara to comply with international law in Syria.

‘Turkish Ostpolitik needed to make peace with Kurds'

In one of your recent interviews, you mentioned a new type of Cold War polarization and that Turkey might be a new front country in that new Cold War. Would you elaborate on this idea?

In the old concept of war, we saw two blocs facing one another. On one side, there was NATO and on the other was the Warsaw Pact. Throughout the Cold War years, we saw that Germany was the front country directly facing the Warsaw Pact countries. At the northern flank was Norway and at the southern flank, Turkey. Germany pursued a clever Ostpolitik during the Cold War years. East Germany, being a part of the Warsaw Pact, was an opponent at the beginning. Under the leadership of Willy Brandt, who took an initiative for more peaceful and constructive relations with East Germany, a policy of dialogue was established to diminish tensions between the two camps. This was called Ostpolitik later, and it was successful. When the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact started to disintegrate, we saw an easy reunification process between East and West Germany, a result of Brandt's Ostpolitik. What is happening in today's environment is this: There is peace in East, West and Central Europe so there is no longer any confrontations. If there are any, they are at the borders of the former Soviet Union. Even three republics of the former Soviet Union, the Baltic States, are members of NATO now, but Russia has made it very clear that apart from the Baltic States, other former Soviet territory including Ukraine, Georgia and the Caucasus, etc. is their red line. However, there is a new confrontation, and it has shifted to the eastern Mediterranean. And in the eastern Mediterranean, the new confrontation is brewing in Syria. There is an interlocking confrontation between Russia and perhaps its allies -- the Baathist regime and Iran -- and Turkey, which is with the West and a member of NATO. In this new confrontation, Turkey is becoming a direct, central, focal country. If we see this as a brewing new Cold War, Turkey is the frontal country. And this is dangerous.

Why?

Because if Turkey did not have any problems with its Kurds, and if Turkey could make some kind of human outreach to those Kurds who live outside of Turkey through the Kurds who live in Turkey, then, that would probably be a redefinition of the Ostpolitik that Germany pursued during the Cold War. A kind of Turkish Ostpolitik is needed to make peace with Kurds.

It sounds like Turkey needs a Brandt-type of leadership to achieve it… Do you see any Brandts in Turkey's leadership?

Not at the moment but Turkey is full of skillful human resources. I simply want to keep my hopes for the future. I really believe if Turkey resolves its domestic Kurdish problem, and if it reaches out to the Kurds living outside of Turkey, that could become a serious humanly constructive policy. I suggest that Turkey stop dealing with foreign matters for a while and look inside to resolve its own difficulties and reestablish the peace process in order to solve the Kurdish issue and then, with stability and security inside, use its potential to become a source of inspiration for other countries in the region. Then, it can be more confident in contributing to the resolution of regional problems.

‘Turkey going from one mistake to another in foreign policy'

Turkish foreign policy was quite persistent until the strategic depth vision was introduced to the scene by Davutoğlu, the former minister of foreign policy and current prime minister. How do you think this vision changed Turkish foreign policy and its perception outside?

There has been serious criticism of the implementation of strategic depth and if this is the main theoretical background of Turkish foreign policy conduct in the last six or seven years, then the criticism is certainly justified. Turkey pursued a very positive policy conduct in 2002-2009 and was an exemplary regional actor. It was an honest broker and was able to bring together Syrians and Israelis for proximity talks. Turkey was also helpful in the talks between Palestinians and Israelis. But the turning point started with the one-minute incident in Davos at the beginning of 2009, and it was followed by the Mavi Marmara incident. Starting with those incidents, Turkey lost its impartiality because it started to antagonize Israel which it had never done before. Then, Turkey became handicapped and lost all the advantages it had. It was perceived as a partial actor. And Turkey did not help to correct this vision. Today, it is going from one mistake to another. In addition to its mistakes in its Syrian policy, Turkey is now giving the world the impression that it is taking sides with the Sunni formations. Recently, the Iranian foreign minister made it clear Iran is extremely unhappy with the vision Turkey is projecting by taking sides with Saudi Arabia. If there is a new fault line developing between Shiites and Sunnis in the region, Turkey should not be part of that. It should be overcoming those new fault lines and dividing walls. I am afraid the foreign policy pursued in the last several years by the Turkish government is completely against this concept.

PROFILE

Ünal Çeviköz

Ünal Çeviköz joined the Foreign Ministry in 1978. After serving as second secretary of the embassy in Moscow, consul in Bregenz and counsellor of the embassy in Sofia, he was transferred from the ministry in 1989 to the NATO international secretariat and worked in the economics and political directorates. In 1994, he was assigned to open the NATO Information Office in Moscow. He also drafted the NATO-Russia Founding Act which was signed in Paris in 1997. Going back to Ankara the same year, he continued to work in the Foreign Ministry first as the head of the Balkan department, later as deputy director general for the Caucasus and Central Asia. He served as Turkey's ambassador to Azerbaijan (2001-2004), Iraq (2004-2007) and the UK (2010-2014). From 2007 to 2010 he was the deputy undersecretary of the MFA for bilateral political affairs. During that period he prepared the Turkish-Armenian protocols signed in 2009 in Zürich. He retired from the Foreign Service in 2014. He is currently a member of board of trustees of the Kadir Has University and president of the Ankara Policy Centre.

todayszaman.com/monday-talk_cevikoz-turkey-about-to-create-its-gaza-in-immediate-neighborhood_412881.html

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Academics accuse Erdoğan of declaring all actors in Mideast enemies

February 21, 2016

A group of academics who signed a recent declaration titled "No to War in Syria" have responded to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's accusation that they sided with a terrorist group by accusing him of defining all regional and global actors, the US, the EU, Russia, Iran and Bashar al-Assad, as enemies.

On Friday, Erdoğan lambasted the academics and intellectuals who voiced their objection to the possibility of Turkey going to war in Syria by signing the declaration on Thursday, accusing them of “siding with the Kurdistan Workers' Party [PKK].”

“Those who signed that petition and who consider themselves intellectuals have sided with the PKK. They have nothing to do with intellectualism. Just because they have the title of professor, does not mean they are intellectuals. They put guns into the hands of their students and turned universities into bloodbaths,” Erdoğan stated during his address to the press following the Friday prayer.

todayszaman.com/national_academics-accuse-erdogan-of-declaring-all-actors-in-mideast-enemies_412937.html

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Russia, US reach provisional deal on terms of Syria cease-fire

February 21, 2016

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday he and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, had reached a provisional agreement on terms of a cessation of hostilities in Syria and the sides were closer to a ceasefire than ever before.

Meanwhile, violence continued to rage in Syria. Multiple bomb blasts in a southern district of Damascus killed at least 87 people on Sunday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, and twin car bombs killed at least 59 people in Homs, the monitoring group said.

Russian air strikes launched in September against rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad have exacerbated suffering and destruction in Syria, where a five-year-old civil war has killed more than a quarter of a million people.

Assad said on Saturday he was ready for a ceasefire on condition "terrorists" did not use a lull in fighting to their advantage and that countries backing the insurgents stopped supporting them.

The Syrian opposition had earlier said it had agreed to the "possibility" of a temporary truce, provided there were guarantees Damascus's allies, including Russia, would cease fire, sieges were lifted and aid deliveries were allowed country-wide.

"We have reached a provisional agreement in principle on the terms of a cessation of hostilities that could begin in the coming days," Kerry told a news conference in Amman with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.

"The modalities for a cessation of hostilities are now being completed. In fact, we are closer to a ceasefire today than we have been," said Kerry, who was also to meet King Abdullah.

He declined to go into detail about the unresolved issues, saying the two sides were "filling out the details" of the agreement. And he indicated issues remained to be resolved and he did not expect any immediate change on the ground.

He repeated the US position that Assad had to step down. "With Assad there, this war cannot and will not end," he said.

Assad's fate has been one of the main points of difference between Washington and Russia, the Syrian leader's main international backer. Russia recently has begun to say Syrians should decide on whether Assad should stay or not, but it continues to support Damascus with air strikes.

Obama and Putin to talk

Kerry said he had spoken to Lavrov on several occasions, including earlier on Sunday, and that he anticipated US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin would talk in the coming days to complete the provisional agreement in principle.

The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed Lavrov and Kerry had spoken by phone on Sunday about conditions for a ceasefire. It said the discussions were on conditions that would exclude operations against organisations "recognised as terrorist by U.N. Security Council".

Those groups include Islamic State and the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.

Despite the provisional agreement, Kerry did not see an imminent change in fighting on the ground.

"I do not believe that in the next few days, during which time we try to bring this into effect, there is somehow going to be a tipping point with respect to what is happening on the ground ... The opposition has made clear their determination to fight back," he said.

The car bombs and suicide attacks on Sunday in the Sayeda Zeinab district of Damascus, where Syria's holiest Shi'ite shrine is located, were claimed by Islamic State. Suicide attacks last month in the same district, also claimed by Islamic State, killed 60 people.

The car bombings on Sunday in Homs, in which at least 100 were also wounded, were among the deadliest in the city in five years of fighting, the Syrian Observatory said.

Kerry said any deal would take a few days to come together, while the two sides consulted with other countries and the Syrian opposition. Russia had to speak to the Syrian government and Iran, and the United States had to speak to the Syrian opposition and its partners, Kerry said.

Russia's RIA news agency said on Sunday that Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had arrived in Tehran, quoting a source in the Russian Embassy in Iran. It did not give a reason for the visit.

todayszaman.com/diplomacy_russia-us-reach-provisional-deal-on-terms-of-syria-cease-fire_412894.html

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Turkish PM expects Russian tourists to keep coming to Turkey

February 22, 2016

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Monday he expected Russian tourists to keep coming to Turkey and did not expect any decline in their number, despite tensions between the two countries over the shooting down of a Russian jet last year.

Davutoğlu unveiled a plan on Monday to support Turkey's tourism sector, hit by tensions with Russia and domestic insecurity, including a 255 million lira ($87 mln) grant and measures to help tourism firms restructure debt.

Turkey is especially popular with German tourists, but has seen demand fall after a suicide bomber killed 10 Germans in İstanbul in January. Russians have been told to stay away by Moscow following the shooting down of a military jet last year.

todayszaman.com/business_turkish-pm-expects-russian-tourists-to-keep-coming-to-turkey_412951.html

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PKK releases 3 Turkish state news agency journalists

February 21, 2016

Three journalists from Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency were released on Sunday after being kidnapped on Friday by members of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Mardin, in the mainly Kurdish Southeast, according to the Doğan news agency.

Correspondent Rauf Maltaş, photographer Onur Çoban and cameraman Kenan Yeşilyurt were handed to pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ali Atalan on Sunday after being kidnapped in Nusaybin's Yenişehir neigborhood.

The released journalist and Atalan later went to the Nusaybin district governor's office, Doğan reported.

Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Spokesman Ömer Çelik referred to the incident as “a cowardly move” on his Twitter account.

todayszaman.com/national_pkk-releases-3-turkish-state-news-agency-journalists_412876.html

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Turkey tops censorship list in Twitter transparency report

February 21, 2016

The latest transparency report released by the microblogging website Twitter shows that Turkey is the country that has issued the highest number of content removal requests to the social media site.

According to the biannual “Twitter transparency report," during the July-December period of 2015, 95 percent of withheld accounts and 90 percent of withheld tweets from around the world were from Turkey.

Of the 432 Twitter accounts withheld in the second half of 2015, Turkey had 414 withheld, while out of the 3,353 withheld tweets, Turkey had 3,003.

The report shows that Twitter received 4,617 content removal requests from 50 countries in the second half of 2015 and 2,211 of these requests were from Turkey, which corresponds to 48 percent of the total requests. This figure stood at 718 in the first half of 2015. Turkey was followed by Russia with 1,735 requests for content removal.

While the company examined requests from 37 countries in its first report in 2015, it examined requests from 50 countries in its second report.

Out of the 480 requests for content removal based on a court order received by Twitter in the second half of 2015, 450 of them came from Turkey. Content removal requests made by the country's Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) more than doubled in the second half of 2015, reaching a total of 761, while this figure was 310 in the first half of the same year.

In all of 2015, Turkey sent 858 court orders to Twitter requesting content removal, while content removal requests made by TİB and other organizations reached 2,071, making a total of 2,979 requests. Out of the 5,887 withheld tweets across the world in 2015, 4,670 were from Turkey, while the number of withheld accounts in 2015 was 539.

Twitter revealed in its transparency report that it filed legal objections with Turkish courts in instances where it believed removal orders were in violation of the right to free expression, and 6 percent of its appeals were approved.

In 2012, Twitter introduced its “Country Withheld Content” tool, which keeps content visible to users across most of the world, but blocks it in a specific country, in response to requests from governments to block certain content on the social media website.

Turkey banned access to Twitter in 2014 after then-Prime Minister President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed to “eradicate” the site following the circulation of leaked recordings that implicated him and members of his inner circle in sweeping corruption allegations in the aftermath of a corruption scandal that erupted with a wave of detentions on Dec. 17, 2013.

The ban was lifted following a Constitutional Court decision to that effect.

Since then, Twitter has been using its Country Withheld Content tool to respond to Turkish requests for the removal of content. However, it has also been challenging some of the orders in Turkish courts on the grounds that they violate the right to free expression.

todayszaman.com/national_turkey-tops-censorship-list-in-twitter-transparency-report_412896.html

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Minister slams EU rapporteur Piri on Diyarbakır visit, claims has lost neutrality

February 22, 2016

Turkey's European Union Affairs Minister Volkan Bozkır has harshly criticized the European Parliament's Turkey rapporteur Kati Piri over her visit to the southeastern province of Diyarbakır last week, saying the rapporteur has lost her neutrality on Turkish issues.

In a statement released on his ministry's website on Monday, Bozkır recalled that Piri and a delegation consisting of other European Parliament members visited the mostly Kurdish city of Diyarbakır last week. He stated that the article published on her website after the visit fell short of designating the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) as a terrorist organization, even though the organization is on the EU's official list of terrorist organizations.

Stating that Piri alleges that the Turkish military is keeping civilians in the region under continuous fire and fails to mention terrorist attacks there, Bozkır also criticized the European politician for what he said was describing the developments in the region as “civil war” rather than a “fight against terrorism.”

Bozkır underlined that Piri and the delegation did not visit Ankara but instead went to Diyarbakır and met with organizations “overtly supporting the PKK terrorist organization.”

Saying that it is obvious that Piri cannot comprehend Turkey's most vital issue, the minister said Piri had also “lost her neutrality on Turkey's issues.”

“We leave it to the consideration of our friends in the EU to judge how healthy a report can be when it is prepared by a rapporteur who is so far away from understanding Turkey and acts in such a biased manner,” the minister concluded.

todayszaman.com/diplomacy_minister-slams-eu-rapporteur-piri-on-diyarbakir-visit-claims-has-lost-neutrality_412956.html

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Turkish-Saudi ground operation in Syria not on agenda

February 22, 2016

A military ground operation in Syria by Turkey and Saudi Arabia is not on the agenda and any such move would need to involve all countries in the US-led coalition against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Monday.

Russian air strikes were the biggest obstacle to achieving a ceasefire in Syria, Çavuşoğlu told a news conference in Ankara. He said the Syrian opposition, which said on Saturday it had agreed to the "possibility" of a temporary truce, would meet in Riyadh on Tuesday.

todayszaman.com/diplomacy_cavusoglu-turkish-saudi-ground-operation-in-syria-not-on-agenda_412952.html

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TAK member’s father claims Ankara bomber’s photo is of his son

February 22, 2016

Musa Sönmez, the father of Abdülbaki Sönmez, who the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) said was the bomber that carried out a deadly attack in Ankara on Feb. 17, has asserted that the photo released by the authorities of the attack's perpetrator is actually of his son, the Hürriyet daily reported on Monday.

A car laden with explosives was detonated next to military buses last Wednesday as they waited at a traffic light in the administrative heart of Ankara, killing 28 and injuring 61. Turkish authorities said the attack was carried out by the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in cooperation with terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) members.

The government has said the bomber was Salih Necar and released a photo of the alleged attacker. However, TAK, a terrorist group once linked to the PKK, on Feb. 19 said it was responsible for the attack and that the bomber was Abdülbaki Sönmez. Sönmez's father was summoned to Ankara to give a DNA sample. He told Hürriyet that the person in the photograph released by the authorities that purportedly shows Salih Neccar is actually of his son.

todayszaman.com/national_tak-members-father-claims-ankara-bombers-photo-is-of-his-son_412950.html

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14 arrested as part of Ankara bombing investigation

February 22, 2016

Fourteen of 21 suspects detained as part of an investigation into a bombing attack in Ankara last Wednesday that killed 28 people were arrested by a court on Monday.

A prosecutor's office had referred 14 of the suspects to court for arrest and released the other four on Sunday evening. A penal court of peace then decided to arrest all of the detainees who had been referred to it.

A bomb attack in the center of Ankara, close to the military's headquarters and Parliament, killed 28 people and injured 61 others on Feb. 17. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Thursday that the attack was carried out by the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in cooperation with members of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Davutoğlu said a Syrian national he identified as Sahih Neccar detonated a bomb-laden vehicle near an area where the armed forces' headquarters and other key state institutions are located.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said late on Thursday that 14 people were detained in connection with the attack and that the number would increase.

However, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), a terrorist group once linked to the PKK, claimed responsibility last Friday for the bombing.

TAK said the bombing was in response to the policies of President Erdoğan and said it would continue its attacks. It said the bomber was Abdülbaki Sönmez, a 26-year old Turkish national born in the eastern city of Van.

todayszaman.com/national_14-arrested-as-part-of-ankara-bombing-investigation_412949.html

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Arab World

More than 150 people killed in IS blasts in Syria as US, Russia push truce

Feb 22 2016

SAYYIDA ZAINAB: A string of suicide bombings near a Shia shrine outside Syria's capital and in Homs claimed by the militant Islamic State (IS) group killed more than 150 people Sunday, as Washington and Moscow worked to secure a ceasefire.

Near Damascus, a car bombing followed by two consecutive suicide attacks ripped through the area of the shrine of Hazrat Zainab (RA) and killed 96 people according to The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Syria's official news agency SANA, quoting a police source, said 178 people, including children, were among the wounded.

An AFP reporter said the blasts struck about 400 metres from the revered shrine containing the grave of a granddaughter of the Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him).

A January attack in the same area also claimed by IS killed 70 people.

Full report at: dawn.com/news/1241151/more-than-150-people-killed-in-is-blasts-in-syria-as-us-russia-push-truce

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Saudi Arabia puts 30 Shias on trial for spying for Iran

Feb 22 2016

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has put 32 people on trial, including 30 members of its own Shia Muslim minority, accused of spying for Iran, several local newspapers and television channels reported on Monday.

The 32, including an Iranian and an Afghan, were detained in 2013 sparking expressions of concern among Saudi Shias who said that several were well known figures in their community and not involved in politics.

The trial is the first in recent memory for Saudis accused of spying and may stoke tensions between local Shia and Sunni Muslims and with Iran, which strongly denied the accusations at the time.

Full report at: dawn.com/news/1241172/saudi-arabia-puts-30-shias-on-trial-for-spying-for-iran

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Army Destroys Militants' Concentration Centers, Kills Dozens of Terrorists in Homs Province

Feb 22 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army pounded the military positions and gathering centers of the Takfiri terrorists in Homs province, inflicting heavy losses on them.

The army units also continued their military advances in other parts of Syria, including Deir Ezzur, Aleppo and Raqqa over past 24 hours.

Tens of terrorists were killed and dozens more were injured during the Syrian army's operations in Syria's key provinces.

Homs

The Syrian warplanes inflicted heavy losses on the terrorist groups in the Northern parts of the Central Homs province on Sunday.

The Syrian fighter jets destroyed five military positions of Al-Nusra Front in Tir Ma'ala and Talbiseh to the North of Homs city.

Full report at: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941203000344

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Militants Command Center in Dara'a Reduced to Rubble by Syrian Army

Feb 22 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Military sources said on Monday the Syrian army soldiers in an intensive operation have reduced the militants' command center in a key battleground in Dara'a city to rubble as they are taking on militants' positions to open several new fronts across Southern Syria.

The pro-government forces on Monday pushed their way further into militant-held areas around al-Nazihin Camp neighborhood of Dara'a al-Balad district, preparing to enter battle with militants in new fronts against the militants in the Southern city of Dara'a, military sources said. 

Full report at: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941203000373

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Ansarullah Seizes Modern US-Made Missiles from Saudi Military Bases in Najran

Feb 22 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Ansarullah fighters gained access to state-of-the-art missiles after raiding a Saudi military base in Najran province in the Southern part of the kingdom.

"Our fighters have seized advanced surface-to-surface missiles from Akafeh military base in Najran province in Southern Saudi Arabia," senior Ansarullah commander Ebrahim al-Sa'ada told FNA on Sunday.

Al-Sa'ada declined to disclose the name of the US-made missiles and their launch system due to security concerns.

In a relevant development earlier today, the Yemeni forces destroyed the Saudi military positions in a desert area in Yemen with a ballistic missile, killing scores of the kingdom's forces.

Full report at: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941202001304

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Syrian Aircraft Drop Surrender Leaflets over Militants in Jisr al-Shoughor

Feb 22 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian air force dropped a series of leaflets over the militant-held city of Jisr al-Shoughor early Monday morning, giving the Takfiri terrorists yet another chance to lay down their arms and surrender to the army.

As the Syrian air force operations over Idlib province has been intensified in recent days, they began dropping the leaflets, the practice that the government follows in parallel with hitting the militants.

The leaflets, in which the government illuminated the real picture of crisis in the war-torn country after recent victories by the pro-government forces, also called on the civilians in the city to refuse giving any shelter to the militants.

The move comes as the Syrian army has gained momentum in its advances in the Northwester province of Idlib.

During recent days, the Syrian fighter jets has been carrying out intensified air raids on militants' strongholds across the Northwestern province of Idlib, delivering heavy losses and damage on them.

As on Sunday, while infantry and  artillery attacks on militants defense line still going on, the Syrian Army's artillery units have been pounding two strategic towns in the Northern regions of Idlib province, inflicting heavy loss and damage on them.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941203000277

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Islamic State bombs planted in Ramadi hinder return of displaced families

February 22, 2016

BAGHDAD - The UN mission in Iraq said on Monday that bombs planted by the Islamic State group are hindering the return of displaced families to the country's western city of Ramadi, nearly two months since Iraqi forces, aided by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes and Sunni fighters took it back from the extremists.

UN development official, Lise Grande, said that such unexploded bombs have killed eight people in the past two weeks. The eight died either while surveying their homes or attempting to disable devices inside the city, she said.

"People who have been displaced want to return home as quickly as possible," Grande said in a statement. "Making sure they can do so safely is everyone's responsibility. Booby-traps and IEDs have to be cleared first."

Full report at: ctvnews.ca/world/islamic-state-bombs-planted-in-ramadi-hinder-return-of-displaced-families-1.2787302

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I'm a Muslim & I love you: Egypt-born man to Trump

Reuters | Feb 22, 2016, 10.27 AM IST

I'm a Muslim & I love you: Egypt-born man to Trump

MYRTLE BEACH: Elhamy Ibrahim, 62, is a Muslim who does not like very many other Muslims these days, but loves Donald Trump.

The Egyptian-born businessman who came to the United States in 1981 and became a citizen two decades later said in an interview on Friday that he was alarmed by changes in Egypt, where, in his view, high unemployment and poverty have driven many young Egyptians to religious extremism.

He strongly backs Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the US until authorities can determine if they pose a threat, even though such a ban could bring hassles for him if he traveled abroad.

That is one reason why Ibrahim, who says he does not attend a mosque regularly, approached the real estate mogul after a rally in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and called out "I'm a Muslim and I love you!"

Full report at: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Im-a-Muslim-I-love-you-Egypt-born-man-to-Trump/articleshow/51086720.cms

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Homs: Militant Positions Sustain Major Damage in Syrian Armed Forces' Attacks

Feb 22 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Air Force and artillery units targeted the concentration centers of the militant groups in the Northern and Southeastern parts of Homs province, causing heavy damage on the terrorists' military hardware.

The Syrian fighter jets carried out several combat flights over the ISIL strongholds near the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) in the Southeastern part of Homs province and bombed them badly which ended in destruction of the militant positions' infrastructures.

The Syria air fleet also bombed concentration centers of the terrorist groups near the villages of Deir Foul and al-Sa'an al-Aswad, in which several terrorists were killed or injured.

The Syrian Army's artillery units, for their part, shelled the militant groups' positions near the Town of Talbiseh and the villages of Tir Ma'ala and al-Halmouz in the Northern part of the province, destroyed the militants' military equipment.

In relevant developments in the Central province on Sunday, the Takfiri terrorists' military positions and gathering centers were razed down by the Syrian army and the National Defense Forces (NDF) in the Eastern part of Homs city.

The army units and the popular forces attacked and destroyed the ISIL's military positions and gathering centers in al-Muthalath region, the surrounding areas of al-Sha'er village as well as Taloul al-Soud, Eastern parts of Thania al-Rajma and Jabal al-Hayal in Eastern Homs city.

Meantime, other army units annihilated the military positions and gathering centers of Al-Nusra Front terrorists in al-Nasr region in Northeastern part of Homs city.

The al-Nusra Front's military positions in al-Jasemiyeh village in al-Nasr region and also Tal Beit Mansour village also came under the Syrian army's attacks today. 

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941203000688

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Syrian Army Continues to Smash Militants across Homs Province

Feb 22 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army troops hit the militant groups' centers hard in the Northern and Southeastern parts of Homs province, inflicting a heavy death toll on the terrorists.

The Syrian government forces stormed the ISIL positions near the ancient Assyria town of Quaryatayn in the Southeastern part of Homs province, killed or wounded tens of them and destroyed their machinegun-equipped vehicles.

Two positions of al-Nusra Front terrorist group in Tir Ma'ala and Talbiseh in the Northern part of Homs province were destroyed in the army attacks which also claimed the lives of many terrorists.

The army also attacked the ISIL defense lines in al-Muthalath region near the village of Sha'er and al-Soud heights, East of Thaniyeh al-Rajmeh and al-Hayal mountain in the Eastern part of the province, which ended in the killing and wounding of many militants.

On Sunday, the Syrian warplanes inflicted heavy losses on the terrorist groups in the Northern parts of Homs province.

The Syrian fighter jets destroyed five military positions of al-Nusra Front in Tir Ma'ala and Talbiseh to the North of Homs city.

Meantime, the Syrian army backed by the country's air force  pounded and destroyed the terrorists' military positions in Talbiseh, al-Farhaniyeh and al-Qantou towns in Northern Homs province.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941203000599

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Syria: Gov't Forces Score More Victories against Militants in Lattakia

Feb 22 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army and National Defense Forces (NDF) continued to push the militant groups back from more lands in the Northeastern part of Lattakia province on Monday and freed six villages in a several-hour battle.

The Syrian government forces stormed defense lines of the Takfiri terrorists near the villages of Beit al-Aous, Ard al-Wata, Hakoura al-Tahtaniyeh, Ruweisat al-Malek, Ruweisat al-Maqnas, Dahr Abu Asaad and a number of strategic heights and forces their to retreat from their position.

Full report at: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941203000262

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Syrian Army Continues to Advance against Militants in Aleppo

Feb 22 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian Army troops won back more villages in the Eastern part of Aleppo after inflicting major losses on the militant groups and forcing them to pull forces back from their positions.

The militant groups, mainly the ISIL, withdrew forces from their strongholds near the villages and towns of al-Dakouneh, al-Mifilseh, al-Jaberiyeh, Jubb al-Safa, Um al-Amad, Kabbara, Treidem, Tal Estabel, Qseir al-Ward, Beidoureh and Salehiyeh under the large-scale offensives of the Syria Army and its popular allies.

Scores of the militants were killed or wounded and their militant equipment and vehicles were destroyed in the government forces' attacks.

Reports said on Sunday that the militant groups left behind dozens of their wounded members and fled the battlefields in the Eastern territories of Aleppo province after experiencing heavy defeat in battle against the Syrian army, popular forces and Hezbollah.

The Syrian army and the National Defense Forces keept on their advances against militants' defense lines in the Northern province of Aleppo, engaged in a massive operation on Sunday clashing with the militant groups.

The fierce battle ended in driving the terrorists back from more battlefields in contested areas.

Full report at: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941203000433

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Militants Retreat from More Positions in Lattakia's Mountainous Regions

Feb 22 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army and popular forces inflicted more defeats on the militant groups in the Northern part of the coastal province of Lattakia and seized full control over more heights near the border with Turkey.

The militant groups retreated from the Heights 864, 672 and 576 under the heavy offensives of the Syrian government forces.

Scores of the militants were killed or wounded in the attacks.

In relevant developments in the Northwester battlefield of the country on Sunday, the Syrian army and popular forces pushed the militant groups back from more territories in the Northern part of Lattakia province and took back several villages and heights near the border with Turkey.

The Syrian army and the National Defense Forces stormed the militant groups positions in the mountainous region of the coastal province of Lattakia and imposed full control over the villages of Hamrat, al-Deirouneh, Nahashba and Mahshaba, Ruweisat al-Kitf, Ruweisat Taloukshi and Ruweisat Wata al-Sindianeh and a number of strategic heights.

The militant groups left behind a number of dead and wounded members and fled the battlefields.  

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941203000304

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Syria: Rival Militants Report Large Casualties among ISIL Terrorists in Northern Aleppo Province

Feb 22 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The militant groups in Syria's Aleppo province reported on their social media that at least 50 ISIL militants have been killed by the Syrian army forces and their allies on Sunday as the pro-government forces kept on their advances in militant-held areas in the Eastern regions of the province.

No further detail has been released on the casualties and the exact location of the operations.

The Syrian army soldiers and their allies have intendified their ground, artillery and air attacks on the militants across the Northern province of Aleppo on Sunday. The army attacks were carried out on a number of militant strongholds in the Eastern, Northeastern, Northern, Western and Northwestern parts of Aleppo province, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.

In a significant development, the Syrian government forces' operations against the ISIL militants in the Eastern part of Aleppo province ended in the recapture of 31 villages and farms.

The ISIL militant group sustained more setbacks during the heavy attacks by the Syrian Army and popular forces in the Eastern part of Aleppo and have withdrawn from 31 villages, farms and heights.

Earlier, the Syrian army and its allies gained full control over several important towns and villages as well as a silo in Eastern Aleppo.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941202001309

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Homs: ISIL, Al-Nusra Front Terrorists Sustain Heavy Losses in Syrian Army Attacks

Feb 22 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Takfiri terrorists' military positions and gathering centers were razed down by the Syrian army and the National Defense Forces (NDF) in the Eastern part of Homs city on Sunday.

The army units and the popular forces attacked and destroyed the ISIL's military positions and gathering centers in al-Mosalas region, the surrounding areas of al-Sha'er village as well as Taloul al-Soud, Eastern parts of Thania al-Rajma and Jabal al-Hayal in Eastern Homs city.

Meantime, other army units annihilated the military positions and gathering centers of Al-Nusra Front terrorists in al-Nasr region in Northeastern part of Homs city.

The al-Nusra Front's military positions in al-Jasemiya village in Al-Nasr region and also Tal Beit Mansour village also came under the Syrian army's attacks today.

Full report at: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941202001213

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Report: Over 1,600 Saudi Forces Killed in Ta'iz Province Since March

Feb 22 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- A newly-published report by the pro-Saudi camp in Yemen shows that over 1,600 Saudi-led forces have been killed in just Ta'iz province since March 26.

According to a report submitted by the Ta'iz governor general to fugitive Yemeni Prime Minister Khaled Bahah cabinet in Riyadh, a sum of 1,630 Saudi military servicemen have been killed since the outbreak of the Saudi war in late March.

In a relevant development on Friday, a senior Yemeni official announced that the country's army and popular forces have gained major military achievements in Ma'rib against the Saudi-led enemies and laid siege on the UAE soldiers in the Western province.

"Over 500 Emirati military servicemen are presently under the siege of the army and popular forces in the Eastern part of Farza region in Ma'rib province," senior Ansarullah Commander Ali al-Houthi told FNA.

He further said that the Yemeni forces thwarted an attack by the Saudi-led forces and laid siege on over 500 UAE government troops.

Also on Saturday, the Yemeni forces seized back a strategic mountainous region in Jawf province.

The Yemeni forces took full control of Sheihat and Qarn Jad'an strategic heights that overlook Hazm city, capital of al-Jawf province.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941202001336

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Southeast Asia

Islamic State supporters meet at Jakarta mosques to recruit members for militant group

Feb 22 2016

A secretive gathering of Islamic State (IS) supporters at a mosque in central Jakarta has been witnessed by the ABC.

It is the first time a foreign film crew has been present at the meeting, which is understood to be part of a recruitment drive in the Indonesian capital.

After a tip-off and a lengthy search, the As-Syuhada mosque was located down a street not big enough for cars.

An ABC cameraman — an Indonesian national and Muslim — gained access to the meeting and while attempts were made to stop him filming, what he managed to capture is clear.

"They declare that territory as Islamic State where God's law is upheld fully and where there isn't any intimidation from foreign countries," hardline cleric Syamsudin Uba told the gathering.

Full report at: abc.net.au/news/2016-02-22/islamic-state-supporters-run-recruitment-drive-at-jakarta-mosque/7188058

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Malaysia calm as Australia  issues terror alert for  Kuala Lumpur

Eunice Au and Trinna Leong, The Straits Times/ANN, Kuala Lumpur February 22 2016

Australia has warned that terror attacks may happen in and around Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur, in a travel advisory to its citizens published on the government's foreign affairs website.

The advisory, which appeared Sunday, cautions Australians to be vigilant, saying attacks could occur in locations frequented by Westerners or target Western interests.

In response to Australia's warning, a spokesman for Malaysia's Foreign Ministry said there was "nothing to be alarmed of".

"We also acknowledge the fact that foreign missions are at liberty to provide their own assessment of the security situation in their host countries," said the spokesman, adding "it may not be accurate or give a true reflection of the situation".

Full report at: thejakartapost.com/news/2016/02/22/malaysia-calm-australia-issues-terror-alert-kuala-lumpur.html#sthash.sTNj94Vu.dpuf

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Jokowi and House agree to postpone KPK Law revision

February 22 2016: Ayomi Amindoni

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and House of Representatives leaders have agreed to postpone the discussion of proposed revisions of the 2002 Law on Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and to focus instead on promoting the points of the amendments amid an adverse public outcry.

The decision came after Jokowi met with House' speakers and chairs of political factions and commissions at the State Palace on Monday afternoon.

"I appreciate the dynamic process of the political dynamics at the House. On the revision of the KPK Law, we agree that the revision shoud not be discussed now," he said in a joint press conference at the State Palace after the meeting.

The plan to revise the 2002 law must have be thoroughly studied and promoted to the public, he added.

Full report at: thejakartapost.com/news/2016/02/22/jokowi-and-house-agree-postpone-kpk-law-revision.html#sthash.GJXfuldu.dpuf

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Malaysia safe for tourists despite Australian travel advisory, says Tourism Minister

BY RAHIMY RAHIM: 22 February 2016

SABAK BERNAM: Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz has assured Malaysians that the country is still safe for tourists, despite a travel advisory by the Australian government on a possible terror threat.

He said that such travel advisories were normal and the Government had taken necessary steps to protect popular tourist sites.

"The authorities have put in place security personnel, like the police and army, to manage the situation.

"Things are under control and we are aware of it.

"Our security is tight," he told reporters after visiting the Sg Haji Dorani homestay, here, on Monday.

On Sunday, the Australian government issued a travel advisory warning of a possible terror attack in the city.

The travel advisory posted on the Australian Foreign Affairs and Trade Department website said "attacks could be indiscriminate and may target Western interests or locations frequented by Westerners".

Nazri said the tourism industry would not be affected and downplayed the advisory, saying that no city in the world was safe from terror attacks.

"Other governments have issued similar advisory against going to Paris, London and other cities.

"No one city is completely safe from terror attacks," he said.

thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/02/22/nazri-malaysia-safe-despite-advisory/

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Nazri wants Muhyiddin suspended

BY RAHIMY RAHIM: 22 February 2016

SABAK BERNAM: Stern action should be taken against Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (pic) for his continuous attacks against the party president.

Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said he will propose at the upcoming supreme council meeting that Muhyiddin be suspended for is alleged role in undermining the president.

"He has to remember that he is not an ordinary member. He is the party deputy president.

"According to the party constitution, he is suppose to assist the president.

"However, I think he has gone overboard this time," he said at the Sg Haji Dorani homestay here on Monday.

Nazri claimed that Muhyiddin had criticised the party leadership when he openly spoke to a group of party critics and the public right before the last Umno general assembly.

He urged Muhyiddin to quit his party post if "he no longer can become a team player".

"If he thinks he is doing the right thing, he should just leave and fight in the open.

"I think his actions have gone beyond what is considered reasonable," said Nazri.

Muhyiddin had repeatedly expressed concerns over the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) issue over the last month.

A day before the Umno general assembly in December last year, he gave a speech to the public at a gathering at Kelab Sultan Sulaiman which was attended by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/02/22/nazri-wants-muhyidin-suspended/

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South Asia

6 militants killed in Afghan Air Force, army raids in Laghman

By Khaama Press - Mon Feb 22 2016

At least six anti-government armed militants were killed in joint operations conducted by the Afghan national security forces, involving Afghan Air Force (AAF) in eastern Laghman province of Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said the raids were conducted as part of the ongoing Fulad 34 operations to clear parts of Laghman province from the militants activities.

A statement by MoD said at least four suspects were also arrested during the operations and various types of weapons and explosives were confiscated.

The statement further added that the operations were conducted together with the first brigade of 201 Silab corps of the Afghan National Army, Afghan police and Afghan intelligence operatives.

Full report at: khaama.com/6-militants-killed-in-afghan-air-force-army-raids-in-laghman-0136

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US drone strike leaves 3 militants dead along Durand Line

By Khaama Press - Mon Feb 22 2016

At least three suspected militants were killed in a drone strike along the Durand Line apparently carried out by the US forces in Afghanistan, it has been reported.

According to the local media reports in Pakistan, the airstrike targeted the militants near Kurram Agency, a tribal area in northwest Pakistan, located along the Durand Line.

The reports further added that two militants apparently belonging to the mlitants were also destroyed in the raid.

According to the reports, the latest drone strike was the second of its kind since the beginning of the year, targeting militants inside the Pakistani soil.

There has been a sharp decline in the number of US drone strikes in Pakistan in 2015 and 2016 compared with the previous years.

However, the US forces in Afghanistan have increased air raids in the country amid deteriorating security situation.

According to reports released earlier this month, the U.S. forces in Afghanistan carried out at least 20 airstrikes targeting the loyalists of the Islamic State terror group in Afghanistan during a period of 3 weeks.

khaama.com/us-drone-strike-leaves-3-militants-dead-along-durand-line-0139

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1 killed, 2 wounded as rocket hits governor’s compound in Baghlan

By Khaama Press - Mon Feb 22 2016

An explosion rocked the governor’s compound in northern Baghlan province of Afghanistan with the local officials said the blast was triggered as a result of a rocket which landed in the compound.

The officials further added that one person was killed and two others were wounded in the attack which took place around 11:00 am local time.

The rocket fired from an unknown location landed in the office of the deputy provincial governor, the officials said, adding that the deputy governor escaped the attack unhurt.

No group including the Taliban militants has so far claimed responsibility behind the incident.

Baghlan is among the volatile provinces in northern Afghanistan where anti-government armed militants are actively operating in a number of its districts and frequently carry out insurgency activities.

The Afghan security forces are currently busy with the clearance operations in Dand-e-Ghori district of Baghlan province.

khaama.com/1-killed-2-wounded-as-rocket-hits-governors-compound-in-baghlan-0137

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Prince Aga Khan focuses on vital role of Civil Society during Africa conference

By Khaama Press - Mon Feb 22 2016

The spiritual leader of Shia Ismaili Muslims Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini Aga Khan focused on the vital role of Civil Society in his address during the ‘Africa 2016: Business for Africa, Egypt and the World’ conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Offering his strong endorsement to the heart message of the forum ‘Africa’s Moment has come’, Prince Aga Khan said serious challenges confront the African people, citing unemployment among the young in the countries with the highest percentage of youth in the world as one of the examples.

However, he said the story of Africa’s progress and potential is also impressive including the growing GDP and foreign direct investment, economic diversification and national resiliency, the role and the rise of a vital middle class and the expansion of consumer spending, which is now breaking through the one trillion dollar mark.

Full report at: khaama.com/prince-aga-khan-focuses-on-vital-role-of-civil-society-during-africa-conference-0135

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Afghan troops pull out of second Helmand district

Feb 22 2016

LASHKAR GAH: Afghan government forces have pulled out of a second district in Helmand, officials said on Monday, leaving the Taliban in control of most of the northern part of the province after troops withdrew from Musa Qala district last week.

The withdrawals raise questions over the capacity of the Afghan security forces to take on the Taliban since the withdrawal of international forces in 2014 from most combat operations left them fighting largely alone.

Army and government officials said security forces had left Nawzad district, which borders Musa Qala, and would concentrate their strength on defending the area around the provincial capital Lashkar Gah and the main highway between Kabul and the western city of Herat.

Full report at: dawn.com/news/1241171/afghan-troops-pull-out-of-second-helmand-district

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NDS rescues hostage as kidnappers demanded $1 million ransom

By Khaama Press - Mon Feb 22 2016

A hostage was released from the restive Maidan Wardak province of Afghanistan with the interference of the Afghan intelligence operatives as the kidnappers demanded a ransom of $1 million for his release.

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) said the hostage was kept in Syedabad district after he was kidnapped by the unidentified gunmen.

Full report at: khaama.com/nds-rescues-hostage-as-kidnappers-demanded-1-million-ransom-0140

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Abdullah remembers 1980 Kabul uprising against Soviet forces

By Khaama Press - Mon Feb 22 2016

Kabul uprising against Soviet forcesThe Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah remembered the 1980 uprising by Kabul residents against the Soviet forces, congratulating the nation for their victory.

CEO Abdullah congratulated the victory day ahead of the meeting of the cabinet of ministers in capital Kabul.

Full report at: khaama.com/abdullah-remembers-1980-kabul-uprising-against-soviet-forces-0138

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Pakistan

Urdu in Pakistan schools contributed to political tensions: UNESCO

PTI | Feb 22, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Warning that language can serve as a "double-edged sword", the UNESCO said the continued use of Urdu in Pakistani schools has led to political tensions in the multi-ethnic country and recommended that children be taught in a language they understand.

A policy paper issued by the UNESCO coinciding with the 'Mother Language Day' on Sunday referred the multi-ethnic societies in Turkey, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Guatemala and recommended ensuring that "children are taught in a language they understand".

In Pakistan, the continued use of Urdu as the language of instruction in government schools, even though it is spoken at home by less than eight per cent of the population, has also contributed to political tensions, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) said in a report released on Friday.

Full report at: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Urdu-in-Pakistan-schools-contributed-to-political-tensions-UNESCO/articleshow/51079072.cms

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Drone strike in Lower Kurram Agency wounds one suspected militant

Feb 22 2016

PESHAWAR: A drone strike, targeting suspected militant hideouts in the Shahidano Dhand area of Lower Kurram Agency near the shared border with Afghanistan and wounding one suspected militant, was reported on Monday.

The drone fired four missiles at militant hideouts, as a result of which, one militant was injured and three hideouts were destroyed, security sources said, adding that vehicles were also damaged in the strikes.

The hideouts which were being used to shelter terrorists facilitated cross-border movement, the security source said.

The identity of the wounded 'militant' is unknown and the details of the drone strike could not be independently verified.

Reports of the drone strike follow news that a curfew has been imposed in Mohmand Agency, also near the border with Afghanistan, as security forces conduct an operation targeting militancy due to the deteriorating security situation in the area.

dawn.com/news/1241154/drone-strike-in-lower-kurram-agency-wounds-one-suspected-militant

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Indefinite curfew imposed in Mohmand Agency

Feb 22 2016

PESHAWAR: An indefinite dusk-to-dawn curfew was imposed across Mohmand Agency on Monday as security forces stepped up operations in the restive region.

At around 2am on Monday morning, security forces ordered residents to stay home indefinitely via loudspeakers, before launching an operation against militants.

Meanwhile, troops have intensified patrolling across the agency.

According to the political administration, the measures have been taken after two separate attacks in the agency which left nine security officials dead.

Full report at: dawn.com/news/1241150/indefinite-curfew-imposed-in-mohmand-agency

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Pakistan at tenth place in list of world's largest arms importers for 2015

Feb 22 2016

BEIJING: Pakistan was the tenth largest arms importer in the world in 2015, down one spot from number nine the previous year, a military think tank database reveals, while Saudi Arabia was the leading arms importer in the world, followed closely by India.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) database shows India was the top arms importer in 2014.

Trend indicator values of imports of arms in Pakistan 2014 and 2015 in millions of dollars at constant prices.

Pakistan spent $735 million on arms imports in 2015. In comparison, India imported arms worth $3,078m.

Read: India should not be concerned over F-16 sale to Pakistan, says Pentagon

The largest exporter of arms to Pakistan in 2015 was China, with arms transfers worth $565 million, followed by the United States (US) with $66m in arms transfers.

Pakistan is also China's largest buyer for arms, accounting for 35 per cent of total arms sales in the country, followed by Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Full report at: dawn.com/news/1241157/pakistan-at-tenth-place-in-list-of-worlds-largest-arms-importers-for-2015

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India

I am not a terrorist: JNU's Umar Khalid

IANS | Feb 22, 2016

NEW DELHI: Umar Khalid, one of the six students accused of raising anti-national slogans at the JNU on February 9, late on Sunday said he was "not a terrorist", adding the BJP government "needed an excuse to target the campus".

"My name is Umar Khalid and I'm not a terrorist," Khalid, who fled the campus after the matter became serious, said, condemning the media trial that branded him a terrorist.

Full report at: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/I-am-not-a-terrorist-JNUs-Umar-Khalid/articleshow/51085804.cms

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Pakistan's FIR on Pathankot attack is not enough, says Indian defence minister

Feb 22 2016

NEW DELHI: Indian defence minister Manohar Parrikar has said on Sunday that registration of a First Information Report (FIR) in the Pathankot attack by Pakistan is not enough,while calling for a serious investigation and legal action to India's satifsfaction, according to a report published on the NDTV website.

"Registration of a case is merely a step ahead, but it won't do. There should be serious investigation. Our effort is that they should take legal action to our satisfaction," Parrikar said in an interview aired on an Indian news channel.

Full report at: dawn.com/news/1241159/pakistans-fir-on-pathankot-attack-is-not-enough-says-indian-defence-minister

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India set to seal major power deal in Bangladesh, beating China

Feb 22 2016

NEW DELHI: A state-run Indian firm is poised to seal a contract to build a $1.6 billion power plant in Bangladesh, beating out a Chinese competitor in the latest commercial tussle between the region's two dominant powers.

After China's recent success in pushing development projects in Sri Lanka, a breakthrough in Bangladesh would be welcome news for Indian officials who have long fretted over Beijing's encroachment on to territory it considers its own back yard.

India believes Bangladesh is a part of a "String of Pearls" China is building across the Indian Ocean that stretches from Gwadar port in Pakistan to Djibouti on the African coast where it is building a naval base.

After years of negotiations, India's Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) will sign a contract to build a 1,320-megawatt (MW) thermal power station in Khulna in southern Bangladesh on Feb 28, officials in New Delhi and Dhaka said.

Full report at: dawn.com/news/1241152/india-set-to-seal-major-power-deal-in-bangladesh-beating-china

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Africa

Libya's NOC warns of more Islamic State attacks on oil facilities

Feb 22 2016

Libya's oil facilities are likely to suffer further attacks unless a United Nations-backed unity government is approved, the head of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) told Reuters in an interview on Monday.

Mustafa Sanalla also said suspected Islamic State militants had staged their latest attack against Libya's oil infrastructure last Thursday or Friday, setting fire to one production tank and damaging another at the Fida oil field.

Fida lies south-west of the oil terminals of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, where militants launched repeated assaults and inflicted major damage last month.

"If there is no new government I think the situation will get worse. I believe there will be more attacks on the oil facilities," Sanalla said.

Full report at: reuters.com/article/us-libya-security-oil-idUSKCN0VV0QZ

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Germany mulling military training mission in Tunisia: Report

AFP | Feb 21, 2016

BERLIN: Germany is considering sending troops to Tunisia to help train soldiers in the fight against the Islamic State group, a newspaper report said on Sunday.

Bild am Sonntag said that representatives of the defence and foreign ministries would hold talks in Tunis on Thursday and Friday about how the German military could lend support in a training mission.

It said the engagement envisaged training Tunisian soldiers first and could eventually be extended to setting up a training camp in Tunisia for Libyan soldiers, run with other international partners.

"The IS terror is threatening all of North Africa," German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen told the newspaper.

Full report at: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/Germany-mulling-military-training-mission-in-Tunisia-Report/articleshow/51080298.cms

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African Union Commission chair visits Turkish school

February 21, 2016

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, paid a visit to a Turkish school established by volunteers of the Gülen movement, which is inspired by the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, in the South African city of Durban, saying its students are “privileged” to be educated there.

After walking around Star College for a while, Zuma gave a speech to the students and administrators of the school, thanking them for their “warm welcome.”

“I am very happy that I am here to see the students from Star College. Because I know that you are [part of a] very privileged school. You are very privileged to be here,” Zuma said.

Full report at: todayszaman.com/national_african-union-commission-chair-visits-turkish-school_412933.html

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Europe

Pope Francis calls for worldwide ban on death penalty

Reuters | Feb 21, 2016

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis on Sunday called for a worldwide ban on the death penalty, saying the commandment "You shall not kill" was just as valid for the guilty as for the innocent.

Speaking to tens of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square, the pope also called on Catholic politicians worldwide to work for a moratorium on any executions during the Church's current Holy Year, which ends in November.

"I appeal to the consciences of those who govern to reach an international consensus to abolish the death penalty," he said.

The 1.2 billion-member Catholic Church for centuries allowed the death penalty in extreme cases but the position began changing under the late Pope John Paul, who died in 2005.

Full report at: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/Pope-Francis-calls-for-worldwide-ban-on-death-penalty/articleshow/51079232.cms

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Fire damages future refugee home in eastern Germany

February 22nd, 2016

BERLIN: Onlookers celebrated as a suspected arson fire damaged a former hotel that was being converted into a refugee home in eastern Germany, police said Sunday, raising new concerns about violence toward migrants in a nation that registered more than a million asylum-seekers last year.

The blaze in the roof of the building in Bautzen, in the eastern state of Saxony, broke out overnight. Police said no one was injured but a group of people gathered outside, some of them “commenting with derogatory remarks or unashamed joy” at the fire.

While most Germans have been welcoming toward refugees, a vocal minority has staged protests in front of refugee homes, especially in the east. Germany last year saw a surge in violence against such lodgings.

Full report at: dawn.com/news/1241003/fire-damages-future-refugee-home-in-eastern-germany

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Russia's defence minister on surprise visit to Iran

AFP | Feb 22, 2016

TEHRAN: Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Sunday started a previously unannounced visit to Tehran with the conflict in Syria high on his agenda, Iranian state media reported.

Shoigu met President Hassan Rouhani to deliver a "special message" from his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the official IRNA news agency cited the presidency as saying.

The minister presented an overview "of the situation regarding stability in the region and the process of negotiations for a ceasefire in Syria", where both Moscow and Tehran back the regime, IRNA said.

Full report at: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Russias-defence-minister-on-surprise-visit-to-Iran/articleshow/51084354.cms

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North America

John Kerry urges Palestinians, Israelis to ease tensions

AFP | Feb 22, 2016

AMMAN: US Secretary of State John Kerry met Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas Sunday and discussed tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem, the US State Department said.

Since October 1, Palestinian knife, gun and car-ramming attacks have taken the lives of 27 Israelis, an American and an Eritrean, according to an AFP count.

At the same time, 176 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, most while carrying out attacks but others during clashes and demonstrations.

"The secretary continued to urge for calm and a decrease in violence, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric," State Department spokesman John Kirby said.

Full report at: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/John-Kerry-urges-Palestinians-Israelis-to-ease-tensions/articleshow/51084340.cms

 

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