New Age Islam
Wed Aug 12 2020, 02:07 PM

Islamic World News ( 12 Jan 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Saare Jahan Se Accha: Scriptures of Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism and Christianity Echo In Shaheen Bagh against the NRC, CAA and NPR







• Pak's Council of Islamic Ideology Terms Forced Conversion 'Un-Islamic'

• Bangladesh Arrests Sufi Muslim Singer after Protests

• Penang Mufti Backs Review of Family Law to Enhance Women’s Rights

• Syrian Army Heavily Pounds Al-Nusra Front Terrorists in Southeastern Idlib

• Apologize and Resign, Iranians Tell Khamenei

• ‘Couldn’t Care Less’ If Iran Agrees To Negotiate, Says President Trump

• Britain, France, and Germany Urge Iran to Stick To 2015 Nuclear Deal

• Iran Agrees De-Escalation ‘Only Solution’ To Solve Crisis with US

• Libya's General Haftar, PM Al-Serraj to Meet For Peace Talks in Moscow: Reports

 

India

• Saare Jahan Se Accha: Scriptures of Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism and Christianity Echo In Shaheen Bagh against the NRC, CAA and NPR

• Islamic State Spreading Network In Many Southern States: Delhi Police

• India's Ties with Saudi Arabia Hangs in Balance over CAA-NRC, Investment Opportunities

• BJP, RSS reach out to UP's Muslim clergy, professionals & academics over CAA

• Shaheen Bagh: Shashi Tharoor Applauds Determination Of Women

• DSP caught with Hizb men will be treated like a terrorist: J&K Police

• Parliament Attack, Afzal Guru Shadow Back to Haunt J&K Police Officer

• Three ‘most wanted’ Hizbul Mujahideen militants killed in encounter: J&K Police

• Govt declares state mourning on Monday in view of demise of Oman Sultan

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Pakistan

• Pak's Council of Islamic Ideology Terms Forced Conversion 'Un-Islamic'

• Angry Pakistani Protesters Vow To Drive US Forces from Region

• Rouhani receives Pakistani FM, stresses importance of mutual relations

• Pakistan to have coherent national security policy by year end: Moeed

• Over 2,000 ordinances passed in Pakistan’s history

• Extremism the biggest challenge, says Fawad Chaudhry

• PM Imran's efforts to woo MQM-P will prove fruitless, says PML-N

• PML-N still vying for civilian supremacy, claims leader

• LHC resumes hearing Musharraf's plea against special court conviction

• Hard times about to be over, PML-N tells its workers

• PPP’s top panel had rejected changes to Army Act: Babar

• Govt, opposition meet today to forge consensus on NAB law

• Fawad underscores need for strong defamation laws

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South Asia

• Bangladesh Arrests Sufi Muslim Singer after Protests

• Muslims pray for peace in Islamic congregation in Bangladesh

• Afghan government insists on Taliban’s commitment for a ‘complete ceasefire’

• Afghan troops recapture most strategic sites in western Afghanistan

• 2 Soldiers killed in Afghanistan from Virginia, Illinois

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Southeast Asia

• Penang Mufti Backs Review of Family Law to Enhance Women’s Rights

• PAS Wants ‘Liberal’ G25 Banned By Govt For Opposing Islamic Governing Bodies

• PSS will lead to ‘flood’ of migrants, says opposition rep

• Coalition of Muslim NGOs Urges Authorities to Probe G25

• India’s ban on Malaysia’s refined palm oil hearsay, says Teresa Kok

• Azerbaijan keen to work with Malaysia on multiculturalism

• Indonesia and UAE, from vision to action

• Indonesian president eyes $20bn of investment on UAE trip

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Arab World

• Syrian Army Heavily Pounds Al-Nusra Front Terrorists in Southeastern Idlib

• Hezbollah leader warns US troops will have to leave region dead or alive

• Japan’s Halal Market Ready For Tokyo Olympic Games 2020

• Expert: US Plotting for Extensive Terrorist Attacks on Key Iraqi Cities

• At least 10 Iraqi protesters injured in clashes with security forces in Karbala

• Russian-led airstrikes suspended in Idlib after ceasefire: Reports

• Seven mortar bombs strike Iraqi military base of Balad

• King Salman, Mohammed bin Salman review ties with Japanese PM Abe

• Friends and foes gather in Oman to mourn Qaboos

• FM Zarif says Tehran willing to develop friendly relations with Oman: Iran media

• Foreign-backed terrorists fire rockets on intl. airport, airbase in Syria’s Aleppo

• Volley of rockets hit Iraqi airbase hosting US forces, wound several local troops: Iraq’s military

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Mideast

• Apologize and Resign, Iranians Tell Khamenei

• Iran Agrees De-Escalation ‘Only Solution’ To Solve Crisis With US

• Iranian Students Ask for Expulsion of British Envoy

• Hezbollah: New Stage of Confrontation against US Regional Deployment Started after General Soleimani's Assassination

• Iranian Parliamentarians Stress Firm Support for IRGC

• Report: US Used Israeli Intelligence in Assassination Operation of Iranian Commander

• Iran’s IRGC chief: We are ‘ashamed’ over shooting down plane

• Dozens injured as anti-regime protests erupt in Iran

• Iran’s Revolutionary Guards says missiles not aimed to kill US troops

• Video shows Iranian protesters ripping up pictures of slain Qassem Soleimani

• Hezbollah chief: It’s time Iran’s allies start working to avenge Soleimani

• Iran’s Khamenei calls for better regional cooperation, criticises US

• Qatar emir calls for de-escalation at ‘sensitive’ time on Iran visit

• Iran pro-government militia chant ‘Death to England’ in embassy protest

• Protests erupt across Iran demanding leaders quit after Ukraine plane downing

• Regional security cooperation has no value without Iran: Qatari Emir

• Trump blindly following Israeli schemes in West Asia: Assad's aide

• France criticizes Israel’s illegal settlement expansion activities, calls on Tel Aviv to comply with intl. law

• Saudi TV suspends Palestinian announcer over solidarity with Yemen

• Nasrallah says Iran missile strikes showed all US bases in West Asia within range

• Israeli forces say to bulldoze homes of three Palestinian prisoners in West Bank

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North America

• ‘Couldn’t Care Less’ If Iran Agrees To Negotiate, Says President Trump

• US Deplores Detentions, Internet Ban in Occupied Kashmir

• Canadian PM Trudeau tells Iran crash vigil he will pursue justice

• Pompeo condemns latest missile attack on Iraqi base

• Iran issues more visas to Canadian team probing crash and helping families

• Canada voices concern over Iran’s arrest of UK Ambassador

• 73% of Americans concerned about war with Iran: Poll

• 'Trump cited GOP hawks’ support as reason to assassinate Soleimani: Reports

• Over a dozen Saudi servicemen to be expelled from US: Report

• Trump voices support for Iran protests as UK envoy detained

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Europe

• Britain, France, and Germany Urge Iran to Stick To 2015 Nuclear Deal

• EU’s Borrell urges ‘de-escalation’ after Iran holds UK envoy

• UK ambassador’s arrest in Iran a ‘flagrant violation’ of international law: Raab

• Iran summons UK envoy amid row over his detention

• Turkish president, German chancellor discuss Libya

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Africa

• Libya's General Haftar, PM al-Serraj to meet for peace talks in Moscow: Reports

• Turkish drone has fallen south of Libya’s Tripoli: LNA

• LNA speaker says GNA invited Turkey to turn Libya into ‘Ottoman state’

• Both sides accuse each other of violating ceasefire in Libya

• Ethiopian PM asks South Africa to intervene in Nile dam dispute

• King Abdullah of Jordan warns Daesh on the rise again

• Egypt says it supports cease-fire in Libya

• Three Teachers Killed by al Shabaab Militants in Kenya

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/saare-jahan-se-accha--scriptures-of-hinduism,-islam,-sikhism-and-christianity-echo-in-shaheen-bagh-against-the-nrc,-caa-and-npr/d/120781

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Saare Jahan Se Accha: Scriptures of Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism and Christianity Echo In Shaheen Bagh against the NRC, CAA and NPR

Saket Suman

Jan 12, 2020

Nationwide protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act have gained momentum over the past four weeks and are showing no signs of slowing down. But the protests against the Act that has been dubbed as divisive by people from several walks of life are often portrayed as those being led by Muslim groups alone by the supporters as well as members of the ruling dispensation in India.

Amid such allegations, dozens of people thronged the Shaheen Bagh area on the Sarita Vihar-Kalindi Kunj road in South East Delhi to organise what is being called a “Maha Path” to celebrate India’s unity in diversity.

Under the said programme, readings of major religious texts of Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism and Christianity are being carried out at the venue that has emerged as the strongest show of resistance against the contentious act.

Notably, the protesters at Shaheen Bagh have maintained that their “peaceful demonstrations” are founded on the core values of the Indian Constitution, foregrounding the deep-rooted principles of secularism, fraternity, unity and equality. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, according to its critics, violates all of these foundational values.

At the melting pot of religious beliefs at Shaheen Bagh that kicked off at 11 AM on Sunday, people who practise several religions came together and recited verses from their scriptures.

The maha-path began with the singing of the national anthem. With harmoniums, flutes and traditional musical instruments, people clung on to portraits of Bhim Rao Ambedkar, who is regarded as “Father of the Indian Constitution” for his unparalleled role in giving it its full shape, and read out major verses from the holy books of their respective religions.

This was done to promote and foster fraternity among people.

The word "Fraternity" finds mention in the Preamble to the Constitution of India. It refers to a feeling of brotherhood and a sense of belongingness towards India among its people.

Braving the harsh winter chill, anti-CAA protests at Shaheen Bagh have continued in the harsh winter of Delhi. The demonstrators are demanding the withdrawal of the contentious legislation that has brought India at a standstill and sparked outrage across the country.

Tens of thousands of people have taken part in protests against the citizenship law and more than 25 people have been killed so far. The road where the protests take place is a key link between satellite city Noida and national capital New Delhi, and has been closed by the Noida Traffic Police in view of the ongoing protests.

The Shaheen Bagh women took over the road after clashes between police and students at nearby Jamia Millia Islamia university.

https://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/sare-jahan-se-accha-scriptures-of-hinduism-islam-sikhism-christianity-reverberate-in-shaheen-bagh-504076.html

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Pak's Council of Islamic Ideology terms forced conversion 'un-Islamic'

Jan 09,2020

Islamabad: Amidst increasing reports of forcible conversion of minorities in Pakistan, including that of Hindus and Sikhs, a constitutional body tasked with giving legal advice on Islamic issues to the lawmakers has said that such a practice was "un-Islamic and unconstitutional."

The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) during its two-day session took up the matter of forced conversions and decided to include minority leaders in the consultation process, The News reported on Thursday, citing sources.

"They (CII) were of the view that Islam does not allow forced conversions. It was also proposed to the Ministry of Religious Affairs to prepare a performa for those who want to change their religion or accept Islam," the paper said.

Addressing a press conference here after the two-day meeting, CII Chairman Dr. Qibla Ayaz said the forced conversion of religion is violation of the Islamic teachings and also breach of the Constitution.

India has repeatedly condemned the abduction, forced conversion, and marriage of minority girls in Pakistan.

In July last, Prime Minister Imran Khan had termed the practice of forced conversions as "un-Islamic" and said there was no precedent in Islamic history for forcefully converting others, according to media reports.

"How can we take it into our own hands to forcefully convert someone to Islam - either by marrying (non-Muslim) women (...) or on gunpoint or to (by threatening to) kill someone because of their religion?" he asked.

"All these things are un-Islamic. If God hadn't given his messengers the power to impose their beliefs on someone, who are we (to do so)?" he asked, explaining that the messengers' duty was only to spread the word of God.

In the same month, the Sindh Assembly unanimously passed a resolution demanding that the practice of forced conversions and abductions of Hindu girls must be stopped and action be taken against those involved in such activities.

The resolution came months after the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in its annual report in April raised concerns about incidents of forced conversions and marriages of Hindu and Christian girls, saying around 1,000 such cases were reported in the southern Sindh province alone last year.

In March last, two Hindu teenage sisters - Raveena (13) and Reena (15) - were allegedly kidnapped by a group of "influential" men from their home in Ghotki district in Sindh on the eve of Holi. Soon after the kidnapping, a video went viral in which a cleric was purportedly shown soleminising the marriage of the two girls, triggering a nationwide outrage.

Hindus form the biggest minority community in Pakistan.

According to official estimates, 75 lakh Hindus live in Pakistan. However, according to the community, over 90 lakh Hindus are living in the country.

Majority of Pakistan's Hindu population is settled in Sindh province where they share culture, traditions and language with their Muslim fellows.

Talking to reporters, Ayaz also said that the council has declared some of the clauses of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) ordinance as un-Islamic and against the Islamic Sharia.

Soon after Ayaz's press conference, Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry expressed "serious concerns" about the council's performance.

"Till today the religious segments [of the country] have not received any guidance from the ideological council," he said, adding that he could not understand the logic behind spending millions of rupees on such an institution.

https://www.dtnext.in/News/World/2020/01/09182647/1208564/Paks-Council-of-Islamic-Ideology-terms-forced-conversion-.vpf

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Bangladesh arrests Sufi Muslim singer after protests

January 13, 2020

DHAKA: A top Bangladeshi Sufi folk singer was arrested under a controversial internet law that critics say is used to stifle free speech after alleged anti-Islam comments triggered protests, police said on Sunday.

Shariat Sarker, 40, was detained in the central town of Mirzapur on Saturday, local police chief Saidur Rahman told AFP.

A cleric filed a case against Sarker over comments made at a show in Dec 2019 and he was arrested under the Digital Security Act for “hurting the religious sentiment of Muslims,” Rahman said.

Film of the show was uploaded to YouTube and more than 1,000 Muslim activists and clerics staged a rally to demand the singer’s arrest.

Sarker could face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty at trial.

Journalists and right activists say the Digital Security Act passed in 2018 is a serious threat to freedom of expression in the nation of 168 million people.

Under the Act, anyone can face a life jail term for “propaganda” against the nation and up to 10 years for digital content that “hurts religious sentiments” or “creates unrest”.

Odhikar, a rights group, reported at least 29 arrests last year under the law.

Sarker is well known among the tens of millions of Sufi followers in rural Bangladesh.

Music expert Saymon Zakaria said folk singers regularly take liberties when interpreting Islamic legends in a way that may not reflect the official version.

“There should not be literal interpretations of what is said during a performance. Folk singers must have freedom of expression,” Zakaria said.

Despite holding a prominent place in Bangladesh’s history, more than a dozen Sufi leaders and followers have been killed in recent years by extremist groups who consider them heretics.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/01/12/bangladesh-arrests-sufi-muslim-singer-after-protests/

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Penang Mufti Backs Review Of Family Law To Enhance Women’s Rights

Nicholas Chung

January 13, 2020

PETALING JAYA: The true teachings of Islam ensures that the rights of women are protected and respected, according to Penang mufti Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor.

Wan Salim told FMT man-made laws were not perfect as humans are imperfect.

“So it is not peculiar if laws are often reviewed from time to time to improve them so that they fulfil their purpose, to uphold justice and benefit the vast society,” he said in an interview.

He said such reviews would include amendments to Islamic family laws “so that it is fairer for women, if current laws do not ensure their rights concerning divorce, polygamy, nafkah, hadanah and other matters.”

Wan Salim said he disagreed with the stance of “ulamas” who objected to changes in the laws affecting discrimination against women.

He said those religious leaders who attended meetings of the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw) did not present the true views of Islam.

“Anyone who studies the teachings of Islam from original sources can easily summarise that Islam gives the same rights to women as to men, except for a few issues, because of unavoidable factors,” he said.

A women’s rights activist said recently that Malaysia’s Islamic family laws had suffered two rounds of regression following amendments to the law in 1994 and 2003.

Zainah Anwar, executive director of international rights group Musawah, said the law reforms took away many progressive reforms and that Malaysia’s Islamic family laws had since gone from being among the best in the Muslim world to one of the worst.

She also spoke of attending Cedaw meetings where leaders of Muslim nations said laws could not be reformed to recognise equality because that would be against Islam.

Wan Salim said “it’s possible that they comprised of religious figures who were ignorant or shallow in their knowledge of Islam’s teachings”.

However, the endeavour for women’s rights should not be influenced by Western culture as its traditions were “damaging” to women.

“It must be admitted that Eastern traditions are often regressive for women, while Western traditions damage women. We don’t want women to regress nor do we want them to be damaged.

“What we’re discussing here is the law of the shariah courts which should be the instrument to execute God’s laws for the sake of upholding justice for all, men and women.

“Islamic law is not Eastern or Western, but it is based on revelation from God who is all-knowing and all-wise,” he said.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2020/01/13/mufti-backs-review-of-family-law-to-enhance-womens-rights/

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Syrian Army Heavily Pounds Al-Nusra Front Terrorists in Southeastern Idlib

Jan 12, 2020

“Over the past hours, army units opened fire on the positions of Al-Nusra Front terrorists and its allied terrorist groups in Khan al-Sabil in Saraqeb countryside in Southeastern Idlib, killing several terrorists and destroying many of their heavy machinery and positions,” the Arabic-language SANA news agency quoted battlefield sources as saying.

The source also pointed out that the army’s fire also targeted the terrorists’ fortified positions, their points and supply centers and their dens in the vicinity of Ma`rat al-Numan and Marshoorin in Idlib’s Southeast countryside.

In a relevant development in late December, the Syrian Army pounded and inflicted heavy losses on the Ankara-backed terrorist groups, including Tahrir al-Sham who had reinforced their military positions for combat with the government forces.

The army troops pushed the Turkey-backed terrorists kilometers back and managed to take control of several more villages and towns in the region.

Since December 19, the Syrian Army has kicked off its military operations to take control of the last main military base of the terrorists in Southern and Eastern parts of Idlib province.

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13981022000582

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Apologize and resign, Iranians tell Khamenei

January 13, 2020

JEDDAH: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei faced calls to step down on Sunday amid growing anger after the Iranian military shot down a passenger jet and killed 176 people.

Demonstrations erupted across the country for a second day on Sunday, with protesters saying the regime leaders’ failure to ground civilian flights at a time of escalating confrontation with the US showed they had no concern for the lives of ordinary Iranians.

“They are lying that our enemy is America, our enemy is right here,” demonstrators chanted outside Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran.

Iran’s usually compliant media joined in the protests, and Ayatollah Khamenei was the subject of unprecedented criticism. “Apologize and resign,” the Etemad daily said in a front page headline.

The “people’s demand” was for those responsible for the plane disaster to quit, the newspaper said. Even hardline media outlets had headlines such as “Shame” and “Unforgivable.”

Opposition activist Mehdi Karroubi said Khamenei was “directly responsible” for the disaster as commander in chief of Iran’s military.

“If you were aware and you let military and security authorities deceive people, then there is no doubt you lack the attributes of constitutional leadership,” he said.

As the protests in Tehran grew, riot police in black uniforms and helmets assembled in Vali-e Asr Square, Tehran University and other landmarks. Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) soldiers patrolled the city, along with plainclothes security forces and members of the feared Basij militia.

US President Donald Trump warned the regime: “Do not kill your protesters. Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the world is watching. Stop the killing of your great Iranian people.”

The Ukraine Airlines flight from Tehran to Kiev was shot down on Wednesday minutes after it took off. Most who died were Iranians or Iranian-Canadian dual nationals. Anger mounted in Iran when it emerged that an IRGC commander told authorities about the missile strike on the day it happened, but they denied it for three days.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the protests showed Iranians wanted change. “They are standing up and asserting their rights, their aspirations for a better government — a different regime,” he said.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1612171/middle-east

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‘Couldn’t care less’ if Iran agrees to negotiate, says President Trump

12 January 2020

Donald Trump warned Iran on Sunday against killing protesters who have risen up over the regime’s downing of a civilian airliner as his defense secretary left the door open to talks with Tehran without preconditions.

Trump’s salvo came as Iran’s Islamic regime faced a challenge from angry street protests, having come to the brink of war with the US with a series of tit-for-tat confrontations.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

To the leaders of Iran - DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS. Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching. More importantly, the USA is watching. Turn your internet back on and let reporters roam free! Stop the killing of your great Iranian people!

271K

7:18 PM - Jan 12, 2020

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“To the leaders of Iran - DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS,” Trump tweeted, warning the world and “more importantly, the USA is watching.”

Later on Sunday, in another tweet, President Trump said he does not care if Iran agrees to negotiate with the US after a senior adviser earlier suggested the Islamic Republic would have no choice but to agree to talks.

National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien told “Fox News Sunday” the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure campaign” was working, adding “Iran is being choked off, and Iran is going to have no other choice but to come to the table.”

In a Twitter post later on Sunday, Trump cited O’Brien’s interview and wrote: “Actually, I couldn’t care less if they negotiate. Will be totally up to them but, no nuclear weapons and ‘don’t kill your protesters.’“ A spokesman for O’Brien did not immediately comment.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tells a vigil for some of those killed in an Iranian plane disaster that he will “pursue justice and accountability” for what happened.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

National Security Adviser suggested today that sanctions & protests have Iran “choked off”, will force them to negotiate. Actually, I couldn’t care less if they negotiate. Will be totally up to them but, no nuclear weapons and “don’t kill your protesters.”

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In an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation” just before the earlier tweet, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Trump was stilling willing to hold talks with Iran’s leaders.

“We’re willing to sit down and discuss without precondition a new way forward, a series of steps by which Iran becomes a more normal country,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/01/12/Trump-still-open-to-talks-with-Iran-on-new-way-forward-Pentagon-chief.html

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Britain, France, and Germany urge Iran to stick to 2015 nuclear deal

12 January 2020

The leaders of Britain, France, and Germany on Sunday called in a joint statement on Iran to return to full compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and refrain from further violence.

“We urge Iran to reverse all measures inconsistent with the agreement and return to full compliance,” the leaders said in the statement issued by the office of French President Emmanuel Macron.

“We call on Iran to refrain from further violent action or proliferation; and we remain ready to engage with Iran on this agenda in order to preserve the stability of the region,” they added.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/12/Britain-France-and-Germany-urge-Iran-to-stick-to-2015-nuclear-deal.html

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Iran Agrees De-Escalation ‘Only Solution’ To Solve Crisis with US

January 13, 2020

TEHRAN: Iran has signaled it favors a de-escalation after 10 days of heightened tensions with the United States during which both sides fired missiles and Tehran accidentally shot down a passenger aircraft.

Security was stepped up in Iran’s capital Sunday after a vigil the previous night for those killed in the air disaster turned into an angry protest and police temporarily arrested the British ambassador for being there.

US President Donald Trump warned Iran against harming demonstrators and against a repeat of a deadly crackdown against rallies in November sparked by a fuel price hike.

“To the leaders of Iran — DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS,” Trump tweeted Sunday in his occasional all-capitals style.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, however, said Trump was still willing to “sit down and discuss without precondition a new way forward” with Iran, although Tehran has steadfastly refused to hold talks with Washington unless it lifts sanctions first.

Tehran said it favored an easing of tensions after its arch-enemy Washington on January 3 killed a revered Iranian general, Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani, in a Baghdad drone strike.

In a meeting between Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and the visiting emir of Qatar, both sides agreed de-escalation is the “only solution” to the regional crisis.

Qatar hosts the largest US military base in the region but also enjoys strong ties with Iran, with which it shares the world’s largest gas field.

“We agreed ... that the only solution to these crises is de-escalation from everyone and dialogue,” Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani said on what was believed to be his first official visit to the Islamic republic.

For his part, Rouhani said: “We’ve decided to have more consultations and cooperation for the security of the entire region.”

Iran’s president also met with visiting Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, whose country has offered to mediate between Tehran and US ally Riyadh.

In a briefing to parliament, Hossein Salami, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, said the missiles it fired last Wednesday on Iraqi bases hosting US troops were not aimed at killing American personnel.

The US said no American personnel were harmed in the attacks.

Across the border in Iraq, the military said rockets slammed on Sunday into Al-Balad, an Iraqi air base where US forces have been stationed, wounding two Iraqi officers and two airmen.

The base had held a small US Air Force contingent as well as American contractors, but a majority of these personnel had already been evacuated due to the tensions between the US and Iran, military sources said.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1612251/middle-east

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Libya's General Haftar, PM al-Serraj to meet for peace talks in Moscow: Reports

13 January 2020

Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Haftar arrived in Moscow Monday, Russia’s Sputnik news agency reported.

Russia’s foreign ministry said the heads of Libya’s two warring factions will hold talks in Moscow, the Interfax news agency reported.

General Haftar and the Government of National Accord (GNA) Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj will discuss the possibility of a ceasefire, Interfax cited an official as saying earlier in the day.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2020/01/13/Commander-Khalifa-Haftar-arrives-to-Moscow-Russian-media.html

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India

 

Islamic State spreading network in many southern states: Delhi Police

January 11, 2020

The Delhi Police has said the three people who have been arrested in connection with their links to terror outfit Islamic State (IS) have revealed that the IS is spreading its network in many Indian states.

Sources in the Delhi Police told India Today TV that during interrogation the three said IS has spread its network in many states, mostly in south India. Police claimed the accused revealed that they held meetings in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The Delhi Police has so far identified 11 people linked to this IS terror module. They will be arrested soon, the police said.

The sources said the police have zeroed in on the main handler of this module and teams have been sent to Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and some other places to trace him.

One of the suspects was arrested from Gujarat and will be brought to Delhi on transit remand.

Meanwhile, the police said they are also trying to nab the two terrorists (Shamim and Toufiq) who killed a police inspector in Tamil Nadu and are at large since then.

Teams from the anti-terror squads of the Uttar Pradesh Police and the Maharashtra Police will also reach Delhi to interrogate the three arrested terror suspects, police sources said.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/islamic-state-spreading-network-in-many-southern-states-delhi-police-1635944-2020-01-11

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India's Ties With Saudi Arabia Hangs in Balance Over CAA-NRC, Investment Opportunities

Vaishali Basu Sharma

January 13, 2020

Tremendous strides have been made in India’s relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in the past few years.

The relationship has indeed progressed “from a purely buyer-seller relationship” toward a “closer strategic partnership that will include Saudi investments in downstream oil and gas projects.”

However, the delay in welcoming Saudi money and recent events in India regarding Kashmir and CAA have made the relationship tenuous.

To get an idea of the already existing scale of the India-Saudi bilateral relations, let’s examine some facts and figures.

India is the third largest export destination of Saudi Arabia at $19.4 billion (after China and Japan). In 2018-19 (as per DGFT), the India-Saudi bilateral trade has increased by 23.83 % to US $ 34.03 billion.

India imports 200,000 tons of LPG every month from the Kingdom. The 2.6 million (as of August 2019) strong Indian community in Saudi Arabia is the largest expatriate community in the Kingdom.

The Haj pilgrimage is another important component of bilateral relations. Nearly 7,00,000 Indians also visit the Kingdom to perform Hajj or Umra every year. The Hajj quota was increased by 24, 975 in 2019, enabling 2,00, 000 Indians performing Hajj in 2019.

This determines that until now the bilateral relationship has been defined by religious travel, migrant workers, remittances and oil trade. However, the scope to go above and beyond this towards more meaningful investment has been tapped by both the governments. In its largest ever push to bilateral relations, Saudi Arabia is believed to be looking to invest US $100 billion in India, in areas of energy, refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture and mining.

Oil giant Saudi Aramco has two major investment plans in the country: strategic investment in the greenfield petroleum refinery in Maharashtra and a $15 billion worth 20% stake acquisition in the refining and petrochemicals business of Reliance Industries (RIL).

Ratnagiri

The proposed Maharashtra project is the largest Greenfield refinery in India and will involve investments from Saudi Arabia’s Aramco, the United Arab Emirates’ ADNOC and Indian public-sector oil companies. Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (RRPCL) which is implementing this project is a joint venture between the Indian Oil Corporation (IOCl), Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL). Saudi Arabian Oil Company – Saudi Aramco and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) are also partners for this project and own 50% stake in the mammoth project.

The 1.2 million barrels a day refinery and associated petrochemical project has been projected as one of the biggest projects in the country that will bring large foreign direct investment (FDI).

Recent reports indicate that the benchmark value has been raised from $44 billion to $70 billion for the project. This would require Indian PSUs to raise their investment from $22 billion to $35 billion, an increase of Rs 1 lakh crore, financing plans for which are not yet public, and are the object of much discussion, given the weakened cash flows of Indian PSUs and public finances.

There have already been incredible delays on part of the government of India (GoI) with regard to the refinery and the Saudi’s have of late clearly begun to indicate their restlessness “the ball is in their court”

Earlier the project was proposed to come up in Nanar village in Ratnagiri district some 400 kms South of Mumbai. Due to opposition from the locals the project was relocated to neighbouring Raigad, 100 km south of the financial capital. Of course, there would legitimate concerns of the locals, but it is beyond belief that an agreement of this scale was made without providing adequate assurances to the original owners of the land or making them partners in this huge investment.

Apart from land acquisition issues now there are reports that India is looking at cutting capacity at this oil refinery to match lower fuel demand projections and contain costs which jumped to $70 billion due to stringent environment norms and relocation of the site.

Supreme Court has mandated that you cannot sell petroleum coke and so to produce fuel without any such residue requires use of best in class technology and will cost more.

So, the refinery which was initially projected to cost $44 billion (about Rs 3.08 lakh crore) will now cost to an estimated $70 billion (about Rs 4.9 lakh crore) because costs of meeting environment norms such as not producing petroleum coke, and relocation of the plant were not estimated.

Also, the cost of land acquisition should have been calculated when plans of the project of such size were being made. The mega project was anticipated to be commissioned by 2022, however incessant delays have pushed the deadline to 2025.

Other investments

India also needs Saudi support to build its planned emergency crude reserves as a buffer against volatility. India has at present 5.3 million tons of underground reserves in 3 locations Vizag, Mangalore and Padur which can meet about 10 days of the country’s oil needs.

New Delhi plans two new reserves with a combined capacity of 6.5 million tons enough to cover for an additional 12 days. Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve Ltd (ISPRL) has signed an agreement with Aramco to lease part of the 2.5 million tone Padur storage in Karnataka.

Cooperation and investment from Saudi Arabia cannot be left to errors if India wants to achieve emergency crude reserves of its seven (another 6.5 mt facility at Padur in Karnataka, Chandikhole in Odisha, at Bikaner in Rajasthan and Rajkot in Gujarat) Strategic Petroleum Reserves facilities which would together hold about 128 million barrels of oil.

Religious politics

Riyadh has become more amenable to India’s concerns on radicalisation and terrorism. Cooperation in the fields of anti-piracy operations and CT has been an important part of India’s ties. The extradition agreement between the two countries has greatly aided the cause of India’s fight against terrorism with Riyadh handing over individuals wanted in India.

Saudi Arabia has also been extremely obliging in its position on Kashmir, providing subtle support to GoI’s policy.

Closer relations with the custodian of the Muslim holy shrines assists in appeasing and validating the Indians government’s actions among sections of the Muslim community.

When the Saudi Crown Prince Md Bin Salman expressed understanding about India’s approach and actions in Jammu and Kashmir, it was a significant accomplishment for the Modi government and a definite snub to Pakistan.

However, the blowback over the vociferous criticism of India’s policies vis-à-vis CAA-NRC led by a bloc of Muslim countries (Pakistan, Malaysia and Turkey) will eventually affect India’s foreign relations with all the Gulf nations especially with the KSA. Within the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC), the pressure is beginning to show on Saudi Arabia and UAE. It is only a matter of time before the Kingdom and self-professed leader of the Sunni Muslim world, succumbs to the negative propaganda by Pakistan wrapped around a Hindu-Muslim narrative, and withdraws its subtle support to India over Kashmir.

In fact, the negative repercussions have already come in the form of Saudi Arabia agreeing to convene a special Foreign Ministers’ meeting of the OIC devoted to Kashmir. Although this is being touted as quid pro quo to Islamabad for giving a pass to the Islamic Summit in Kuala Lumpur, the fact remains that this recompense to appease Pakistan is at the expense of India’s foreign policy interests. 

Projected to become the world’s third largest economy Saudi Arabia is contemplating large scale investment in India. The fact that India has the world’s third largest Muslim population is certainly a consideration in Saudi Arabia’s Asian portfolio. Commencing work on the refinery would have opened the doors to Saudi investment in other sectors such as agriculture and infrastructure which PM Modi himself has touted as an “opportunity multiplier.”

However, with blisters in the very first trial it is doubtful that the Saudis would want to further scald themselves on purpose. In any case a slowdown in the economy as well as a shift towards EVs has affected fuel demand.

Aramco, which raised $25.6 billion by selling 1.5% shares in the world’s biggest initial public offering recently, has also been expected to participate in the proposed sale of public sector oil marketing and refining company BPCL. The participation of Aramco in the sale programme through the disinvestment of BPCL and other state assets is crucial for bridging the huge fiscal deficit that India faces currently.

Dynamics

The current India-Saudi relationship is a machine with multiple moving parts, many at the same time.

Saudi’s plans to invest in Ratnagiri or BPCL RIL appear to be options, of which only one will be exercised. Recent news of GoI approaching the Delhi high court to stall the investment in RIL, leaves only Ratnagiri and 8PCL as the two options.

Growing pressure from non-Wahabbi Muslim nations on Saudi Arabia with regard to Kashmir and CAA requires close monitoring by the MEA. If that support snaps, then UAE may follow and OIC , hither to quiet, may become belligerent.

A friendly Saudi royalty can be ensured only via investment red carpets. The lack of it could lead to unsustainable diplomatic pressures and worrying noises on oil export to India. The only relationship that will continue is of NRIs continuing to work in Saudi Arabia and remit nearly $10 billion per year.      

Full report at:

https://thewire.in/external-affairs/india-saudi-arabia-ties-caa-nrc

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BJP, RSS reach out to UP's Muslim clergy, professionals & academics over CAA

JAN 13, 2020

New Delhi: BJP and RSS are holding a series of meetings with UP’s Muslim clergy, professionals and academics on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), in Kanpur, Meerut, Jaunpur, Lucknow and four other places in Uttar Pradesh.

The scale of the outreach exercise is much smaller than the one carried out before and after the Supreme Court’s Ayodhya Verdict. The purpose is to firefight the ongoing protests and "dispel the opposition-propelled myths", a BJP member said.

BJP’s national minority morcha chief Abdul Rasheed Ansari said all state units have been asked to get in touch with their respective district units and send teams to areas that witnessed massive protests against CAA.

“The opposition parties have spread panic by misleading Muslims. We are trying to explain to them that there is nothing to fear,” Ansari said.

The focus of the campaign is UP, but there are meetings planned in other States too, he said.

UP CM Yogi Adityanath recently launched a crackdown on anti-CAA rioters and slapped recovery notices on on protestors for damaging public property, after violence broke out in Lucknow, Kanpur, Bulandshahr, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar and others.

This limited outreach of the Sangh parivar is in contrast with its much publicised, "confidence building" before and after the Ayodhya verdict, when senior officials and party leaders, including NSA Ajit Doval, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and RSS joint general secretary Krishna Gopal actively held meetings with Muslims professionals and clergy The sangh parivar had then even reached out to its critics such as Arshad Madani and members of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board to talk about "accepting the verdict and moving on."

"The Ayodhya verdict was going on for years, it was coming from the court rather than legislation, the organisation was more focussed on ensuring the issue didn't fester," a functionary of the RSS said.

Senior RSS leaders said during their internal discussions on CAA, it was felt that a large-scale outreach was not needed. The party leaders however managed to reach out to a few leaders in the last few days, over CAA, which include, apart from Delhi Jama Masjid chief Imam Bukhari, others such as Khalid Rasheed Firangimahal, the imam of Eidgaah, Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, Maulana Agha Roohi and Maulana Yasoob Abbas and others Some members said while they expected protests, they hadn’t anticipated the scale of resistance. A meeting of Sangh heads and members has been planned in Bareilly next week to address some of the issues.

“Questions on NRC came up even when we met Muslim clergy before the Ayodhya verdict. Some of them wanted to talk only about that.

They said for their community it was a more serious issue than the Ram temple,” an RSS functionary said.

AIMPLB member Kamal Farooqui, among those invited by the government during its outreach initiative before the Ayodhya verdict, said the government and BJP has run out of reassurances and “finds itself trapped in the face of the protests across the country."

Full report at:

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/bjp-rss-reach-out-to-ups-muslim-clergy-professionals-academics-over-caa/articleshow/73221200.cms

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Shaheen Bagh: Shashi Tharoor applauds determination of women

January 12, 2020

New Delhi: Congress leader Shashi Tharoor joined the anti-CAA protests at Jamia Millia Islamia and Shaheen Bagh to express his solidarity with the agitating students and protesters on Sunday. He was accompanied by Delhi Congress President Subhash Chopra and ex-Seelampur MLA Mateen Ahmed.

Congress against CAA, NRC: Shashi Tharoor

The Congress MP said “the party stands with the students and is against the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens.”

Tharoor also tweeted “It was fabulous to see the courage, passion & determination of the women of Shaheen Bagh. Including the nonagenarian ‘dadis’ who have held a fast since the start. Addressed them all with great admiration “

Shashi Tharoor

@ShashiTharoor

Yes it was fabulous to see the courage, passion & determination of the women of ShaheenBagh. Including the nonagenarian “dadis” who have held fast since the start. Addressed them all with great admiration. https://twitter.com/_aadilwani_/status/1216333718807203840 …

Aadil wani

@_Aadilwani_

Replying to @htTweets @ShashiTharoor

Will you visit shaheen bagh too? @ShashiTharoor

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19:33 - 12 Jan 2020

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“My pleasure & privilege, dear friends of @jamiamillia! Stay strong. We are with you. @INCIndia,” he tweeted.

Shashi Tharoor

@ShashiTharoor

My pleasure & privilege, dear friends of @jamiamillia_ ! Stay strong. We are with you. @INCIndia https://twitter.com/jamiamillia_/status/1216351316609503232 …

Jamia Millia Islamia

@jamiamillia_

Thank you @ShashiTharoor sir for visiting #JamiaSquare and standing in solidarity with us. Your word meant a lot to us.

Together, we stand against injustice. https://twitter.com/ShashiTharoor/status/1216338555997310976 …

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Applauding determination of the women of Shaheen Bagh, Tharoor tweeted, “Heartwarming to meet & address the courageous women of Shaheen Bagh whose resistance is now legendary. “Aap is sheher ki shaan hain, Bharat desh ki jaan hain” I told them in my address”.

Shashi Tharoor

@ShashiTharoor

Heartwarming to meet & address the courageous women of Shaheen Bagh whose resistance is now legendary. “Aap is sheher ki shaan hain, Bharat desh ki jaan hain” I told them in my address.

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

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Jamia witnesses massive crowds

Jamia on Sunday witnessed massive crowds on roads leading to Shaheen Bagh as huge traffic jams were seen with scores of people coming to Shaheen Bagh. Women have also marched towards Shaheen Bagh from Zakir Nagar to the protest site.

Full report at:

https://www.siasat.com/shaheen-bagh-shashi-tharoor-applauds-determination-women-1790583/

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DSP caught with Hizb men will be treated like a terrorist: J&K Police

Jan 12, 2020

SRINAGAR: Confirming the arrest of President’s Police Medal awardee deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Davinder Singh along with three Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) operatives, the J&K Police on Sunday said that the senior police officer would be treated like a terrorist during investigation.

“We consider DSP Davinder Singh’s involvement (with terrorists) as a heinous crime. He will be interrogated by all security agencies and dealt with in the same manner as the other arrested terrorists. In fact, DSP Singh’s interrogation is already underway,” said inspector general of police (IGP), Kashmir range, Vijay Kumar at a press conference here.

A police party had on Saturday raided DSP Singh’s Srinagar house and recovered one AK-47 rifle, two pistols and three hand grenades. In Srinagar, he was living in the high-security Indiranagar locality near the army headquarters at Badamibagh. He was currently part of the anti-hijacking squad of the J&K Police and was deployed at the Srinagar International Airport (SIA).

The arrested HM terrorists have been identified as Syed Naveed Mushtaq alias Naveed Babu, Asif Rather alias Rafi Rather and Irfan Shafi Mir — all from Shopian. While Naveed and Rather were wanted HM terrorists, Mir was an over-ground worker (OGW) of the outfit. Mir was driving a white Maruti car carrying the other three when a police party intercepted it near Mir Market in Kulgam district on Saturday afternoon and arrested all four.

Two AK-47 rifles and some hand grenades were recovered from the car.

IGP Kumar said police have lodged an FIR in Qazigund police station against DSP Singh and the three HM terrorists under relevant sections of the law, including Arms Act and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

All the four accused were currently being interrogated at the special operations group (SOG) camp at Aminoo village in Kulgam district, intelligence sources said.

On reports that DSP Singh had a role in the 2001 Parliament attack plot, IGP Kumar said police have “no record” of his involvement.

According to the family of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, the latter had pointed to the role of DSP Singh in the plot in a letter to his lawyer Sushil Kumar in 2004. However, nobody took the condemned prisoner’s disclosures seriously. At that time, Singh was posted as DSP at Humhama SOG camp in Budgam.

Afzal had mentioned in his letter that in 2001, DSP Singh “tortured and threatened him to involve him in a false case”, and wanted him to take Pakistani Lashkar and Jaish terrorists to New Delhi. As per the family, he had also told his lawyer that DSP Singh had asked him to take “Mohammad”, one of those who attacked Parliament, to Delhi, rent a flat for his stay and purchase a car for him.

On his part, Naveed was a police deserter and had joined the HM ranks in 2017. On May 20 that year, he had decamped with four assault rifles from the FCI godown in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, where he was on guard duty.

After the abrogation of special status to J&K in August last year, Naveed had issued a diktat to apple orchardists in south Kashmir not to sell their produce. According to police, he was involved in the killings of at least 11 non-Kashmiri workers, including truck drivers and labourers, in Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/dsp-caught-with-hizb-men-will-be-treated-like-a-terrorist-jk-police/articleshow/73218411.cms

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Parliament Attack, Afzal Guru Shadow Back to Haunt J&K Police Officer

by Muzamil Jaleel

January 13, 2020

When J&K Police arrested Deputy Superintendent of Police Davinder Singh, a decorated counter-insurgency officer who is currently posted with the security and anti-hijacking unit of J&K Police at Srinagar airport, along with two “most wanted” militants in a car in South Kashmir on Saturday, it brought back questions about his alleged role in the 2001 Parliament attack case and other big cases in Jammu and Kashmir.

In 2004, in a letter to his lawyer Sushil Kumar, Afzal Guru, then lodged in Tihar Jail for his involvement in the Parliament attack, had said that “DSP Davinder Singh”, then posted with J&K Police’s Special Operations Group at Humhama, had asked him to “take Mohammad”, a Pakistani national identified as one of those who carried out the Parliament attack, “to Delhi, rent a flat for his stay and purchase a car for him”.

Afzal had also named another police officer, Shanty Singh, who, along with Davinder Singh, reportedly tortured him at Humhama STF camp. He had also mentioned “Altaf Hussain, who is brother-in-law of SSP Ashaq Hussain (Bukhari) of Budgam”, who first “brokered” his release with Davinder Singh, and later took him to the DySP.

Afzal was convicted and hanged on February 9, 2013.

Davinder Singh’s alleged role in the Parliament attack case was not probed. Asked about this on Sunday, IGP (Kashmir) Vijay Kumar said: “There is nothing as such in our records nor do I know anything about it… We will question him on this.”

A senior J&K Police officer said “his (Davinder Singh’s) deeds are finally catching up with him. This time, I don’t think anybody can save him”.

“There will be many questions asked. Where was he taking these two wanted militants? They were leaving the Valley, as they were nabbed on the way to Jammu. What plan did they have,’’ said the officer. “Almost every operation where he (Davinder Singh) or his associates were involved has become suspect”.

The officer said Singh was posted across Kashmir on counter-insurgency duty. “He was DySP DR in Pulwama too,’’ the officer said. “He can open a can of worms once he starts talking”.

Meanwhile, while Shanty Singh’s alleged role in the Afzal Guru case could not be ascertained, he was jailed in 2003, after an investigation by J&K Police’s Crime Branch found him involved in “torturing a civilian Mohammad Ayoub Dar of Sholipora, Pakharpore to death” in “police custody” and then “firing at his body”, dubbing him as a “militant who was killed in an encounter”.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/davinder-singh-2001-parliament-attack-afzal-guru-jammu-and-kashmir-police-6213441/

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Three ‘most wanted’ Hizbul Mujahideen militants killed in encounter: J&K Police

by Adil Akhzer

January 13, 2020

Three Hizbul Mujahideen militants, including a commander of the outfit, were gunned down by security forces during a cordon-and-search operation at Tral in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Sunday. The operation was launched on Saturday late night after policeman-turned-Hizbul commander Syed Naveed Mushtaq alias Naveed Babu was arrested along with a top J&K Police officer and two others.

Kashmir IGP Vijay Kumar said on Sunday, “Yesterday, we got an input that three militants are hiding in Gulshanpora village of Tral. One of them was Hamad Khan, a most wanted terrorist who was involved in several civilian and policemen killings in the past two years.”

“When our party, including personnel from Army, police and CRPF, prepared a cordon and asked him to surrender, he fired and we retaliated. Two militants were killed. The third shifted to another house and was eventually killed in the exchange of fire,” he said.

A J&K Police spokesperson said bodies of the three militants had been retrieved. They have been identified as Umer Fayaz Lonealias Hamad Khan from Seer Tral, Faizan Hamid from Mandoora Tral and Adil Bashir Mir from Monghama Tral.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/three-militants-killed-in-tral-encounter-jk-police-6212816/

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Govt declares state mourning on Monday in view of demise of Oman Sultan

January 12, 2020

The government has declared one-day state mourning on Monday in view of the demise of the Sultan of Oman, the home ministry announced on Sunday.

Oman Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said passed away on January 10 at the age of 79.

“As a mark of respect to the departed dignitary, the government of India has decided that there will be one day’s state mourning on January 13 throughout India.

“The national flag will be flown at half mast throughout India on the day of mourning and there will be no official entertainment on that day,” a home ministry spokesperson said.

The ministry has also sent a communication to all states and Union Territories in this regard.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/govt-declares-state-mourning-on-monday-in-view-of-demise-of-oman-sultan-6212699/

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Pakistan

 

Angry Pakistani protesters vow to drive US forces from region

12 January 2020

Thousands of Pakistanis protested in Islamabad against the US on Sunday. At the heart of their anger was the US assassination of top Iranian commander Lieutenant General Qasem Soleimani, the head of the IRGC Quds Force in Iraq early this month.

Protesters, coming from different parts of Pakistan, believe that the US military presence in West Asia has been a lingering source of destabilization in the entire region. Therefore, they vowed to struggle to end the US military presence across the region which they believe, has only helped promote extremism and terrorism.

There are nearly 66,000 American troops in West Asia. Their future now hangs in the balance after renewed anti-American sentiments in the region. The protesters also called on Pakistan not to cooperate with the Pentagon in the event of any possible military confrontation in the region.

Analysts say that Pakistan has learnt a bitter lesson about supporting the so-called US war on terror in Afghanistan, the spillover effects of which have caused massive human and economic losses. And therefore, now Islamabad has vowed not to let Americans use its soil against its neighbors.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is paying a state visit to Iran and Saudi Arabia. His visit is aimed at encouraging dialogue between the two countries given the tense situation in the region.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/12/616040/Angry-Pakistani-protesters-vow-to-drive-US-forces-from-region

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Rouhani receives Pakistani FM, stresses importance of mutual relations

13 January 2020

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has met with visiting Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and stressed the importance of close relations between the two countries.

"Relations with Pakistan are very important for Iran and we recognize much significance for an expansion of ties between the two countries," Rouhani said on Sunday.

The Iranian president added that Tehran welcomed Pakistan's efforts in seeking to ensure peace and stability in the region. He also called for improved dialogue and cooperation between the region's Muslim states.

Rouhani added that Tehran and Islamabad should deepen their relations and not allow certain terrorists groups threaten the security of the two countries' shared borders.

The Iranian president also expressed gratitude for Islamabad's solidarity with Tehran regarding the recent crash of Ukrainian Airlines flight 752 in Iran and Washington's assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani last week.

"The leaders of the United States and the Israel, along with leaders of terrorist groups around the world such as Daesh, were happy with the assassination of Soleimani," Rouhani said.

"However, people who seek peace and security in the region were saddened [by the incident]', he added, calling on "all countries to firmly condemn Washington's act of government terrorism".

Rouhani stressed that in the "current circumstances" all sides need to "cooperate in deescalating tensions in the region".

Speaking on his part, Qureshi vowed that Islamabad will not allow his country's borders to be used to threaten Iran and that Pakistan regards itself as "a partner in the peace and stability" of Tehran.

"We believe that that the borders between the two countries are borders of peace and friendship," he said, adding that Islamabad was determined to deal with those seeking to create insecurity in the border area.

Iran has been the victim of a number of terrorist attacks in its southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan originating from Pakistan, which lies east of the province.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/13/616045/Iran-president-Pakistan-FM

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Pakistan to have coherent national security policy by year end: Moeed

Intikhab Hanif

January 13, 2020

LAHORE: Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on National Security Division and Strategic Policy Planning Moeed Yousuf on Sunday said Pakistan is going to have a coherent national security policy with an inclusive economic diplomacy by the end of this year, ensuring security in all respects for every Pakistani.

He was speaking at a session on Defining National Security at the Afkar-i-Taza ThinkFest here at Alhamra. Journalist Ejaz Haider moderated the session.

Mr Yousuf explained salient features of the planned policy and termed it a paradigm shift, saying it would include all sectors, including health, education and climate change. The new policy, he added, would not deal with national security only, but all aspects of the country with multiple level inputs. It would not produce results overnight, he said.

He said including education in the overall national security policy did not mean deploying guards outside schools. It would mean securing society by educating people and giving them jobs. The economic diplomacy was the basic element of the government’s planned inclusive foreign policy.

Replying to a question about the prime minister’s decision of not going to Malaysia to attend a summit, he said it was good and made in the best national interest. “We are going to drive our foreign policy wherever we can. We are working on how to keep external walls out of Pakistan,” he said.

He said in the government’s view, division in the Muslim world was not good and it would try its level best to stop this wherever it could. But while doing so, he said, the government would watch the best national interests. The prime minister did not go to Malayasia with this objective in mind, he explained.

“The decision did not affect Pakistan’s relations with Malaysia or Turkey. The prime minister is visiting Malaysia next month. We are the only Muslim country which can talk to every Muslim country. Turkey, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia are in our camp,” he said.

Mr Yousuf said right now, Pakistan was talking of de-escalation of tensions and both Iran and Saudi Arabia were its friends.

Talking of Kashmir, he said the Kashmir freedom movement was indigenous and it would be continued merely by the Kashmiris themselves. He said Pakistan looked towards the UN for the resolution of the Kashmir issue because it had through its resolutions recognised it as a dispute. This was for the first time the West was taking note of the Indian atrocities in the held Kashmir, he said.

The session on “Poor are Excluded from Social Mobility” began with a documentary explaining the issue.

Mr Asad Javaid presented five institutional evidences to show how the poor were excluded from social mobility, and how in some cases they were paying more than the rich.

Ms Tooba Syed discussed Ramsha Maseeh Colony where people living in a katchi abadi in Islamabad were shifted. The people living in the colony did not have even the basic health and water facilities. And the newcomers were asked to return to their own colony.

Mr Usama Khawar disliked rapid urbanisation in Pakistan. With the price of property skyrocketing in the last five years, he linked the problem to the massive acquisition of land by the government and the official bottlenecks.

In another session on Simon Wolfgang Fuchs’ book “In a Pure Muslim Land, Shi’ism between Pakistan and the Middle East”. The author from Germany and Mr Ali Usman Qasmi of LUMS talked on ethnographic history of Shia sect and its religious competitors in the region.

Mr Fuchs said the notion of Pakistan as the pinnacle of modern global Muslim aspirations forms a crucial component of this history. It has empowered Shias, who form about 20 percent of Pakistan’s population, to advance alternative conceptions of their religious hierarchy while claiming the support of towering grand ayatollahs in Iran and Iraq.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1528005

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Over 2,000 ordinances passed in Pakistan’s history

January 13, 2020

ISLAMABAD: It may come as a surprise but fact of the matter is that successive civil and military governments have passed over 2,000 ordinances since the time of creation of Pakistan.

Though the ordinances cut short the legislative process and save the government considerable amount of work, its cost is heavy – requisite contribution, evaluation and diverse point of view of the parties concerned is nowhere to be found.

From 1947-2019, the political use of such legislation is evident from the fact that a total 2,229 ordinances have so far been passed.

According to data collected by a political scientist Dr Ralph Braibanti, the central government had passed no less than 459 ordinances from 1947-1965 and 1,770 during the period 1973-2019.

In the last 11 years, when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) ruled the country, a total of 135 ordinances, including the ones promulgated by Musharraf during emergency were enacted.

The data of the last 11 years reveal that 9 ordinances were promulgated in 2008; 60 in 2009; 7 each in 2010 and 2011; 4 in 2012, 10 each in 2013 and 2014; 14 in 2015; 5 in 2016 and 9 in 2018.

According to a Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) report, the government laid a total of 64 ordinances in the National Assembly during the second parliamentary year i.e. 2009.

According to the report, at least 35 ordinances were originally promulgated by then president Pervez Musharraf during the emergency period (November 3, 2007 to December 15, 2007).

These 35 ordinances were given permanence in Provisional Constitution Order No 1 of 2007.

However, the Supreme Court’s judgment on the order deprived these ordinances of their permanent status and ordered to lay them before the assembly.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) government has also passed a number of ordinances in its one-and-a-half-year tenure.

These ordinances have been challenged by PML-N lawmaker Barrister Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

Ranjha has cited President Arif Alvi, principal secretary to the premier and secretaries of law, National Assembly and Senate as respondents.

Full report at:

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2135940/1-2000-ordinances-passed-pakistans-hi/

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Extremism the biggest challenge, says Fawad Chaudhry

Sher Ali Khalti

January 13, 2020

LAHORE:Pakistan Muslim League-N central leader Musadiq Malik said dialogue is very important to save institutions.

Speaking in a session “Where is Pakistan heading in the next 10 years” in the two-day Afkar-e-Taza ThinkFest here Sunday at Alhamra, he stressed on the dialogue between the institutions of Pakistan for the welfare of Pakistan and democracy. Dialogue is very important to save institutions, he said.

According to him, Chief of Army Staff was given extension after the bill was drafted and passed from parliament as Supreme Court had directed. In the next 10 years, the most important thing is the preservation of human rights. Rights and freedom need to be discussed and bring forward a framework, he added.

Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said the biggest challenge in Pakistan was to end religious bigotry and discrimination, we have increased Pakistan's information and technology budget by 600%. He said military dictator (Gen Ziaul Haq) built and organised seminaries in 1980's. "Why they could't build universities MIT, Oxford etc at that time, he questioned. In my opinion, the biggest issue Pakistan faces is religious and social extremism. No society can progress under such circumstances. A society can only progress in a modern and liberal environment, he said. The decision of the Supreme Court is definitely final. We accept it. Extension of army chief favours Pakistan, he said while talking on the occasion.

Senator and PPPP central leader Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said, “We need not only to form legislations but also need to work to implement them.”

A session, “Internal Democracy in Political Parties” attracted the students, youths. They took keen interest in the session. The speakers said the intra-party election or democracy within the party would strengthen the democracy in Pakistan.

Afrasiyab Khattak said disruption made weak democracy in Pakistan. The families rule in the party as the parties’ heads face jails and after coming from jails process of the glorification starts. External forces also played pivotal role in disrupting the democracy in Pakistan. United State of America like democracy in USA while it likes undemocratic governments in Pakistan. Afrasiyab Khattak said political parties were becoming irrelevant because of their weaknesses. Other social movements are rising to represent the masses today. Devolution of power to the lowest tier after the 18th amendment has not been completed yet. Empowerment of local governments is vital for political participation of youths in Pakistan, said Farhatullah Babar, Secretary General of PPPP. Lack of discussion in rank and file of political parties on important issues alienates them, said he while talking in the session.

Ban on student unions is a hurdle to promoting democratic culture in the country and nurturing future democratic leadership, said Hamid Khan answering a question asked by the audience on the occasion. Decision making in political parties should flow from the bottom to the top to truly represent the will of the workers, he added.

Full report at:

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/597780-think-festival-concludes-extremism-the-biggest-challenge-says-fawad-chaudhry

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PM Imran's efforts to woo MQM-P will prove fruitless, says PML-N

Jan 12 2020

FAISALABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan's mission to woo the Muttahida Quami Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) will prove fruitless, said Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) stalwart Rana Sanaullah on Sunday.

The former Punjab law minister was addressing a rally when he made the statement. He cautioned the MQM-P from reverting to the coalition government, saying that if it does, the party "will go back" on its stance.

He said the government did not have any policy hence it was not possible for them to mend fences with any party.

Sanaullah's comments came a few hours after the MQM-P's Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, resigned. Siddiqui cited the government's inability to fulfill promises made to the MQM-P as the reason for parting ways with the federal cabinet.

 Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui resigns from federal ministry

"We had promised the government to help with the formation of the government and we held our end of the deal. However, none of the promises made to us have seen any progress,” Siddiqui said while addressing a press conference in Karachi along with senior Muttahida Quami Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leaders in Karachi.

“It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to remain a part of the federal cabinet as questions are being raised upon my presence in the cabinet,” he explained.

Speaking about the agreement with the government, the MQM-P convener told the media that two agreements were made with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), one in Bani Gala, the other in the Bahadurabad, in the presence of Jahangir Tareen.

Siddiqui said that they [MQM-P] had supported the federal government in every difficult phase but "injustice was still being done with Sindh".

In response to a question regarding the ending of its alliance with the government, Siddiqui said, “We did not ask for the law ministry neither did we propose Farogh Naseem’s name. The two names that we had proposed for the ministry did not include [Farogh] Naseem’s name. The government had selected his [Farogh Naseem] name on its own.”

Full report at:

https://www.geo.tv/latest/267049-pml-n-says-pm-imrans-efforts-to-woo-mqm-p-wont-succeed

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PML-N still vying for civilian supremacy, claims leader

January 13, 2020

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Punjab President Rana Sanaullah has said that the PML-N’s fight for civilian supremacy is far from over and that the party is sticking to its narrative of ‘vote ko izzat do’ (Respect the vote).

In an interview with Voice of America (VoA) on Sunday, he claimed that party supreme leader Nawaz Sharif’s slogan of ‘Khalai Makhlooq’ did not mean the army chief or the army as an institution.

He said Shahbaz Sharif wants to move forward with reconciliation rather than confrontation with institutions.

He said that the government ministers wanted that the opposition did not support the Army Act Bill so that it can be proved that only the government could understand that national issues.

He said that the government wanted to arrest him in Model Town case, but failed because the joint investigative team was challenged in the High Court. He said that neither an institution as a whole is wrong nor can any organization be called wrong.

He defended his party’s move to support the passage of the bills pertaining to the tenure of the services chiefs but conceded that it had made an “error” by acting in haste.

“We still stand by our stance of vote ko izzat do and civilian supremacy. Party supreme leader and ex-PM Nawaz Sharif stand by it,” the PML-N leader said as his party is facing harsh criticism for unconditionally supporting the bills, which swiftly sailed through both the houses of parliament and signed into law by the president.

The decision of the party’s leadership has left many in the ranks and files of the former ruling party red-faced, as they believe that the decision has practically smothered ideology of the party, he added.

Sanaullah maintained that there was “undue haste” by the government to have the bills passed. “Our parliamentary party became a part of this undue haste. I think we made an error there. We should have stopped it instead,” he maintained.

He said that the PML-N leader said Nawaz had instructed the party not to become part of a decision taken in haste to avoid the impression of parliament turning into a rubber-stamp.

Sanaullah further clarified that no party had opposed an extension in the army chief’s tenure and only had reservations over the procedure being followed by the government.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/01/12/pml-n-still-vying-for-civilian-supremacy-claims-leader/

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LHC resumes hearing Musharraf's plea against special court conviction

Rana Bilal

January 13, 2020

The Lahore High Court on Monday resumed hearing a set of petitions filed by former dictator Pervez Musharraf challenging multiple actions against him, including his conviction for high treason, the establishment of the trial court that convicted him and filing of the original high treason inquiry against him by the government.

On Friday, a full bench of the high court headed by Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi had asked the federal government to submit a summary on the formation of the special court and had directed the state's lawyer to present arguments on Monday (today). A special court of Islamabad had on December 17, 2019, handed down the death penalty to Musharraf after six years of hearing the treason case against him. The case was filed by the PML-N government in 2013.

In his petition, Musharraf had asked the LHC to set aside the special court’s verdict for being illegal, without jurisdiction and unconstitutional for violating Articles 10-A, 4, 5, 10 and 10-A of the Constitution. He also sought suspension of the verdict till a decision on his petition is made.

During the hearing on Friday, the LHC had posed questions regarding the legality of the treason case and the formation of the special court that conducted the trial and had handed Musharraf the death sentence.

Barrister Ali Zafar, who has been appointed the court's amicus curea, said that the case against Musharraf seemed to have been filed on the behest of then prime minister Nawaz Sharif, as there is no record of the matter being on the agenda of any of the cabinet meetings held at the time.

"A case under Article 6 cannot be filed without the cabinet's approval," Barrister Zafar had insisted. The court asked if the matter was on the agenda of any cabinet meeting, to which Zafar had responded in the negative.

"None of the cabinet meetings were held on the matter," Barrister Zafar said.

"This was history's most important matter; can the cabinet discuss it without it being an agenda item?" the bench had asked.

In an earlier hearing on Musharraf's plea, Additional Attorney General (AAG) Ishtiaq A Khan on Thursday told the bench that the formation of the special trial court had not been approved by the federal cabinet.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1528058/lhc-resumes-hearing-musharrafs-plea-against-special-court-conviction

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Hard times about to be over, PML-N tells its workers

Zulqernain Tahir

January 13, 2020

LAHORE: Both Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif camps in the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) are “equally satisfied” over the party’s unconditional support to the Pakistan Army (Amend­ment) Act, believing the ‘smart move’ will bring ‘good news’ (to the party) in the days to come.

In a talk with some party leaders here and in London on Sunday, Dawn got a sense that the leadership’s decision to vote for the act was a “well thought out move” knowing fully well what the party could get in return (from the establishment) as well as the reaction of the public, especially its voters.

According to them, it is a ‘kind of deal’ as the PML-N is no more on a collision course with the establishment. As a whole, they say the party tiers have taken a sigh of relief on the Sharif brothers’ decision as it would be helpful in ‘ending fight’ with the powers that be — opening new avenues for reconciliation (with them) and getting rid of the Imran Khan government at the earliest.

The leaders considered to be from the Nawaz camp were tasked to do ‘damage control’ on the media after taking them into confidence (by Maryam Nawaz) that under the current political circumstances the leadership had made a ‘right decision.’ PML-N president and opposition leader in National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif has also spoken to the parliamentarians and party main office-bearers, directing them to tell the workers in their constituencies that “soon the PML-N is returning to power.”

“What else options the party leadership had other than supporting the act that empowers the prime minister to give extension to the chiefs of three armed services (army, air force and navy)? Could the already battered PML-N afford to go against the Army Act and was it ready for its consequences?” asked a party insider who remained a part of the deliberations in this respect.

“Even if the PML-N had voted against the act (which enabled Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa to continue as army chief for another three years), it would have been passed by the parliament in either case. See what happened in the Senate chairman non-confidence move where the opposition despite having majority votes could not oust Sanjrani. In such a scenario, it is a perfect political move by the Sharifs,” he declared, dispelling the impression that some senior leaders, including Maryam Nawaz, PML-N vice-president, were not happy over this decision. “Let me tell you one thing… all and sundry in the party is happy and satisfied, hoping the tough time the party has been facing for more than two years is over.”

Asked about the future of PML-N’s much-hyped narrative ‘give respect to the vote,’ he said: “This was also discussed at length (in the party meetings) and since the party has succeeded in creating awareness (in this regard) and also manages to secure further space for the country’s democracy it believes the public will understand this too,” he said.

Another senior leader said the party leadership had taken “wise” decision considering political ground realities. “How long a party could fight against the powers that be? It is easy to say to stick to your ‘revolutionary philosophy’ but on ground it’s not that easier. Our party’s fresh position may not augur well among ideological voters and we may go in next polls with this ‘scar’ but the other reality is this the people/voters have short memory and they never mind such things. Call general elections tomorrow... the PML-N will emerge the single largest winning party and this is also a ground reality,” he said and argued that Benazir Bhutto had returned to Pakistan after negotiating with dictator Gen Musharraf but later in polls no one cared about this.

The PML-N had never been a “party of resistance,” he opined and added: “It should be given full credit for putting up strong resistance for the last couple of years or so.”

Promise to Return to Power

In the face of the PML-N’s decision to support the Army Act, the word is conveyed to all tiers of the party that the difficult time is about to be over and soon it will return to power and this has generated a lot of excitement among them.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1528008/hard-times-about-to-be-over-pml-n-tells-its-workers

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PPP’s top panel had rejected changes to Army Act: Babar

Mansoor Malik

January 13, 2020

LAHORE: Political parties in Pakistan are neither internally democratic nor are able to take democratic decisions independently and the recent unanimous passing of the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act, 2020 by the parliament served as a litmus test, says former PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar.

“The PPP’s central executive committee (CEC) had overwhelmingly rejected the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act bill and recommended four amendments, but those were withdrawn within 24 hours without taking the committee into confidence,” Mr Babar revealed.

It was quite painful to know that the party leadership took a ‘unilateral’ decision to withdraw the amendments that were aimed at supremacy of parliament and empowering the prime minister not only to grant extension to the chief of the army staff (COAS), but also to dismiss him.

“Have parties become subservient to the party leaders and there is no democratic process?” Mr Babar posed a question.

The dissenting voices are being raised in the mainstream political parties over the Army Act as only a day ago, PML-N leader and former defence minister Khurram Dastgir had conceded that his party leadership might have faced some pressure to unconditionally support the Army Act.

Telling the audience that he was raising dissenting voice while staying part of the party at a ThinkFest session, titled Internal Democracies in Political Parties, at Alhamra Art Centre on Sunday, the senior PPP leader asserted that the political parties needed to take ‘structured decisions’.

Regretting that no political party was taking forward the cause of internal democracy, he said, even the 2006 Charter of Democracy (CoD) between the PML-N and the PPP did not touch the subject of internal political parties’ reforms though it discussed review of the parties’ relationship with security agencies. He also regretted that the political parties’ role had been taken up by the parliamentary parties discarding public opinion at large.

Referring that the PTI had introduced intra-party elections with fanfare but could not endure it and the party’s chief election commissioner was sacked, the former PPP senator said the internal party elections within the PPP were not representative and the party leaders earned party seats with few votes.

“I know that these elections in the party are not truly democratic,” he added. He called for evolving a new CoD to bring about internal party reforms and supremacy of democratic decisions instead of one-man show.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) senior leader Advocate Hamid Khan also said that Imran Khan was ambitious to hold intra-party elections to present the PTI as a truly democratic party but he too was ‘convinced’ that these things were just irrelevant and a ‘ready-made system’ would be available.

He said the PTI was launched with great idealism and the party chairman came with all-out efforts to hold intra-party elections to give it a truly democratic colour. But, he added, conventional forces just failed party chairman Imran Khan’s vision of democracy by injecting fear that the intra-party elections would divide the party and those defeated would not work for the party. On the other hand, he said, those who lost the maiden intra-party elections too did not accept results and levelled charges of corruption on winners.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1528004/ppps-top-panel-had-rejected-changes-to-army-act-babar

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Govt, opposition meet today to forge consensus on NAB law

Syed Irfan Raza

January 13, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The government and opposition will meet on Monday to forge consensus on the National Accountability (second amendment) Ordinance, 2019.

On Dec 27, President Dr Arif Alvi had promulgated an ordinance making significant changes to the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 to give maximum protection to the bureaucracy and business community.

However, the opposition said that NAB laws should not be amended through an ordinance. In order to take opposition, which enjoys majority in the Senate, into confidence the government has started negotiations to reach consensus on the bills.

“We are meeting for the second time on the NAB bill on Monday,” said Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry when contacted by Dawn.

He said the other bills, which were not opposed by the opposition on Jan 10, had been passed unanimously. “We hope that the NAB bill will also be passed in the same manner after it is prepared in the light of the government-opposition’s agreement on the document.”

Asked NAB was not happy about the move to further clip its powers, the minister said: “I have no idea about this. Let’s see what happens.”

It has been observed that after the smooth sailing of eight bills, including three bills about the tenure of the services chiefs, by parliament, the government and the opposition have agreed to build consensus for legislation on other important matters, including “controversial” powers of NAB.

Mr Chaudhry said the second round of talks between the government and the opposition will take place in the chamber of National Assembly Spea­ker Asad Qaiser in the Parliament House to forge consensus on the National Accountability [second amendment] Ordinance, 2019.

He said it was a good sign that the members of treasury and opposition benches were sitting together to resolve pending issues. “The two sides will try to make unanimous ­legislation on NAB.”

The National Assembly on Friday passed the Letters of Administration and Succession Certificates Bill, 2019; Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Bill, 2019; Legal Aid and Justice Authority Bill, 2019; Superior Courts (Court Dress and Mode of Address) Bill, 2019 and Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery Bill, 2019.

However, the National Account­ability (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Benami Transaction (Prohibition) (Amendment) Bill, 2019 will be laid before the lower house after the government and opposition reached consensus.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1528014/govt-opposition-meet-today-to-forge-consensus-on-nab-law

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Fawad underscores need for strong defamation laws

Mansoor Malik

January 13, 2020

LAHORE: Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry says “slaps” cannot be ruled out until defamation laws are reformed and implemented in letter and spirit.

A session on “Where is Pakistan heading in the next 10 years?” at ThinkFest on Sunday opened with a lively discussion on the controversy Fawad Chaudhry was involved in. The minister took flak for slapping anchorpersons Mubasher Lucman and previously, Sami Ibrahim.

Responding to a question at the session, Mr Chaudhry said the YouTube channels’ onslaught had led to airing anything without verification. He said the channels completely disregard the sanctity of families as well as the voters he was representing. “When such a channel airs that there are porn videos of me and upon asking about those videos, the anchorperson answers that someone has told him so, “slap is an obvious answer,” he retorted.

PML-N Senator Musadik Malik corroborated that the onslaught of fake journalism needed to be curbed. As he stressed that the media should regulate itself as was the case the world over, Mr Chaudhry popped in and asked, “who would regulate the non-journalists”.

PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar also called for reforming and implementing the defamation laws.

The discussion was immediately diverted to the unanimous passage of the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act by parliament as federal minister Chaudhry (smilingly) thanked both panelists for early legislation on the Army Act.

Mr Malik said the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction was to interpret the constitution and it did explain that there was ambiguity over the matter of granting extension to the Chief of Army Staff.

Stating the court rightly asked to legislate on the matter, he said there was a convention that the prime minister used to grant extensions but the new amendment would allow the prime minister to exercise discretion.

Mr Khokhar admitted that the political parties’ ideological workers had been disappointed by the action. “We owe an explanation to our ideological workers that why we took this decision,” he said.

Mr Chaudhry said the Supreme Court’s decision was legally not in the right direction as it gave its order by cancelling the Article 243. Since it was a Supreme Court decision, he said, the political parties could neither push the country towards anarchy nor could they create confrontation among the state organs nor yet escape political reality.

Speaking about the session, Mr Khokhar said Pakistan would be facing a serious challenge of climate change and there was a need to find ways to check the menace.

Mr Chaudhry said the biggest challenge would be religious bigotry and extremism and there would be a need to develop a liberal, progressive and modern nation to meet the 21st century challenges.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1527990/fawad-underscores-need-for-strong-defamation-laws

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South Asia

 

Muslims pray for peace in Islamic congregation in Bangladesh

January 12, 2020

TONGI, Bangladesh: Hundreds of thousands of Muslims raised their hands and prayed for the welfare of the world as they joined a final prayer Sunday in wrapping up a three-day Islamic congregation near Bangladesh’s capital.

The Biswa Ijtema, or World Congregation of Muslims, is one of the largest gatherings of Muslim devotees, held on the sandy banks of the River Turag at Tongi, just north of Dhaka.

The congregation, which is believed to have begun in 1949 as a gathering of Sunni Muslim preachers, draws hundreds of thousands from Bangladesh and abroad. The gathering is apolitical, and the sermons deal with an interpretation of Islam that advocates peace, harmony and brotherhood.

“Oh my Allah, please save Muslims, please pour your blessings, please end all bloodshed through your blessings,” cried an imam who led the final prayer. Many of the devotees burst into tears seeking blessings.

Security was tight, with agencies setting up watchtowers, control rooms and CCTVs. The second phase of the gathering begins on Friday.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1611876/world

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Afghan government insists on Taliban’s commitment for a ‘complete ceasefire’

13 Jan 2020

Following the prolonged Afghan peace process and recent discussions, the Afghan government demand for a ceasefire and reiterated that a reduction of violence accepted by the Taliban is neither practical nor a promising solution to the ongoing crisis.

Mr. Sediq Sediqqi, the presidential spokesperson, said in his remarks that “a ceasefire is a preliminary step for peace negotiations planned by the Afghan government. However, the reduction of violence is not acceptable for the people and state at any cost. The generic demand jointly proposed by the people, and the Afghan government is to stop killing and terrorizing civilians.”

Sediqqi further added, “a ceasefire is temporary and has an international precedent which tries to pave the way for greater dialogs and discussions to end the violence once and for all between the different parties.” 

Meanwhile, the Afghan government insists on the clarity of the proposed plan and the Taliban’s commitment to the peace negotiations, which is highly demanded by the ordinary Afghans for many years.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-government-insists-on-talibans-commitment-for-a-complete-ceasefire-9879854/

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Afghan troops recapture most strategic sites in western Afghanistan

12 January 2020

The Afghan Defense ministry says, the country’s armed forces have recaptured some key areas in western Afghanistan after nearly one and a half decade.

The move has been widely welcomed by local residents in Chesht district of Herat Province. The latest achievement of Afghan forces on the ground has also created some expectations among military experts like Atiqullah Amarkhil, the former Afghan Army General. He says, the government is expected to stress on a trust building process in order to gain more support from people.

While the afghan government and the Taliban militant group are separately struggling to gain more territory, a controversial peace process is also underway.

Facts on the ground show that the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan has no military solution. Therefore, Afghan people urge the government and the Taliban militants to reach an agreement and engage actively in the Afghan-led peace process.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/12/616021/Afghanistan-troops-armed-forces

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2 Soldiers killed in Afghanistan from Virginia, Illinois

January 12, 2020

KABUL: Two US service members were killed and two others injured Saturday when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan, the Pentagon said in a statement.

Military officials identified the two soldiers killed as 29-year-old Staff Sgt. Ian P. McLaughlin of Newport News, Virginia; and 21-year-old Pfc. Miguel A. Villalon of Joliet, Illinois. Both soldiers were assigned to 307th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina..

The Taliban took responsibility for Saturday’s attack. A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yusouf Ahmadi, said it occurred in the southern Kandahar province.

More than 2,400 US service members have been killed in Afghanistan. Last year was the deadliest for US service members since 2014, with 23 American troops killed, even as Washington engaged in peace talks with the Taliban.

The latest attack seemed certain to stall fresh efforts to restart the on-again, off-again peace talks between Washington and the Taliban.

US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has been pressing the insurgents to declare a cease-fire or at least reduce violent attacks. That would give a window in which the US and the Taliban could forge an agreement to withdraw all of America’s troops. That agreement would also set out a road map for direct Afghan-to-Afghan talks, mapping out the country’s post-war future.

The Taliban leadership decided at the end of December to support a temporary cease-fire to allow for a peace deal to be signed, but they never said when it would go into effect. The final approval required from their leader, Maulvi Hibatullah Akhundzada, was never announced.

Earlier Saturday, both NATO and Afghan officials had confirmed a roadside bomb hit a US army vehicle, without mentioning casualties. In a short statement, a NATO spokesman said that officials were still “assessing the situation and will provide more information as it became available.”

An Afghan official said the attack had taken place in the Dand district of Kandahar province. The official was not authorized to speak with media and requested anonymity.

The Taliban now control or hold sway over roughly half of Afghanistan. The militants continue to stage near-daily attacks targeting Afghan and US forces, even as they hold peace talks with the US Scores of Afghan civilians are also killed in the crossfire or by roadside bombs planted by militants.

In November, two US service members were killed when their helicopter crashed in eastern Logar province. The US military at the time said preliminary reports did not indicate it was caused by enemy fire, although the Taliban claimed to have shot down the helicopter — a claim the USmilitary dismissed as false.

The US currently has about 13,000 troops in Afghanistan. About 5,000 of them are doing counterterrorism missions. The remainder are part of a broader NATO mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1612081/world

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Southeast Asia

 

PAS wants ‘liberal’ G25 banned by govt for opposing Islamic governing bodies

Monday, 13 Jan 2020

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 — PAS wants pro-moderation group G25 to be banned for allegedly deviant teachings in the murtad (apostasy) issue and for opposing the establishment of religious governing bodies.

PAS information chief Kamaruzaman Mohamad said G25’s call for an end to religious authority in the country because it is “an individual affair with God” cannot be tolerated and is dangerous to Islam in Malaysia.

He said that minister in charge of Islamic affairs, Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa, and the Malaysia Islamic Development Department (Jakim) should take action to swiftly restrict the movement and ideology of the “liberal” group.

“Also, of concern is that G25 often opposes any Jakim action in order to set up its secular national agenda that there will be no religious body in the country.

“PAS calls for the authorities to ban these extremist liberals for encouraging dangerous and perverted thoughts that can poison other Malaysians,” he said in a statement today.

On Saturday, G25 launched a report titled Administration of Matters Pertaining to Islam.

The 281-page report covered topics ranging from the legality of the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim), the role of the Malay monarchy in the administration of Islam, religious intolerance and religious education, among other issues.

G25 member and former Court of Appeal judge Datuk Hishamudin Yunus said the formation of a federal Islamic institution is against the Constitution, which provides for matters concerning Islam under the jurisdiction of the states.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/01/13/pas-wants-liberal-g25-banned-by-govt-for-opposing-islam-governing-bodies/1827424

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PSS will lead to ‘flood’ of migrants, says opposition rep

Jason Santos

January 13, 2020

KIMANIS: An opposition assemblyman has warned that Sabah towns will be “flooded” with migrants if the Temporary Sabah Pass (PSS) is implemented in June.

Sook assemblyman Ellron Angin said many of the markets already “feel like small Filipino towns”, which the people find “uneasy” to visit.

“Now if you go to the markets like in Semporna and Lahad Datu, it feels like you are already in the Philippines. The language they speak and their actions are usually hostile.

“The markets are dirty and their children can be seen playing on the streets. Some patronise the drug dens.

“This is against the mild-mannered, care and respect that Sabahans have for each other,” the Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) vice-president said at a Barisan Nasional ceramah at Bongawan Estate last night.

Ellron said Kimanis voters must support BN in the by-election on Saturday to drive home the point that they are against the PSS.

He said a win for Warisan would be a sign of support for the card, which would result in a “flood of migrants”, and Sabahans becoming “refugees” in their own state.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2020/01/13/pss-will-lead-to-flood-of-migrants-says-opposition-rep/?utm_source=FMT+Media+Sdn.+Bhd.&utm_campaign=d5b96c1e0b-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_dfafd0994c-d5b96c1e0b-228005497

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Coalition of Muslim NGOs urges authorities to probe G25

January 12, 2020

PETALING JAYA: A coalition of Muslim NGOs has urged the authorities to investigate G25 after the group of former senior civil servants said there were no provisions in the constitution for setting up the National Council for Islamic Affairs (NCIA) and Jakim.

The Malaysian Islamic Organisations Consultative Council (Mapim) said the investigations are necessary to ensure G25 did not breach any laws when touching on the position of Islam in the country.

Mapim president Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid accused G25 of trying to polemise the issue of Islam and the jurisdiction of Islamic agencies.

“We are of the opinion that G25 clearly wants to undo the status of Islam and Islamic agencies.

“The government must defend the position of Islam and the development of the religion in the country,” he said in a statement today.

Yesterday, G25 alleged that the establishment of the National Council for Islamic Affairs (NCIA) and the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) is unconstitutional.

The NCIA was instituted to be the highest national authority for the coordination of Islamic administrative matters. Jakim serves as its secretariat.

In their report on the “Administration of Matters Pertaining to Islam”, G25 also spoke out against apostasy laws, saying a Muslim’s decision to leave Islam is between that person and God.

Azmi said G25 was getting involved in a very sensitive and dangerous topic when it came to apostasy laws, adding that this could confuse and incite the anger of Muslims.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2020/01/12/coalition-of-muslim-ngos-urges-authorities-to-probe-g25/

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India’s ban on Malaysia’s refined palm oil hearsay, says Teresa Kok

Nicholas Chung

January 12, 2020

PETALING JAYA: Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok has quashed reports that India has imposed restrictions on imports of refined palm oil from Malaysia, saying it was mere “hearsay”.

This comes after reports that India’s commerce and industry ministry issued a notification declaring that the import of refined palm oil was “amended from ‘Free’ to ‘Restricted’”.

Kok confirmed the existence of such a memo but said the notification did not explicitly mention Malaysian refined palm oil.

“Again, this is not from the government but just hearsay.

“It is a general notification only,” she told FMT.

It was reported on Jan 8 that India imposed restrictions on imports of refined palm oil and palm olein, in apparent retaliation against top supplier Malaysia after its criticism of India’s actions in Kashmir and a new citizenship law.

Indian government and industry sources had told Reuters that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government was seeking to target Malaysia after recent criticism of India by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Mahathir said in October that India “invaded and occupied” Kashmir, a disputed Muslim-majority region also claimed by Pakistan.

Last month, he said India was stoking unrest with its new citizenship law, which critics say undermines the country’s secular foundations.

Palm oil is crucial for the Malaysian economy as it accounts for 2.8% of gross domestic product and 4.5% of total exports.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2020/01/12/indias-ban-on-malaysias-refined-palm-oil-hearsay-says-teresa-kok/

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Azerbaijan keen to work with Malaysia on multiculturalism

13 JAN 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: The implementation of multiculturalism as a state policy has benefited Azerbaijan, where the policy has resulted in political and economic stability for the country.

Executive Director of Baku International Multiculturalism Centre, Ravan Hasanov (pix), said multiculturalism and tolerance is the way forward in solving many ethnic, cultural, sectarian and religious conflicts besetting the world.

He said Azerbaijan’s model of multiculturalism is built on three main elements – respect for ethnic and religious diversity, the full support of the government as a state policy, and the policy of non-assimilation of the various cultural and religious society.

Hasanov said multiculturalism can simply be defined as the existence of many cultures simultaneously in one place and time.

“Multiculturalism includes ethnic, racial, religious and cultural diversity and the values that underpin it. It is also a state policy in some countries like Azerbaijan which ensures the protection and development of diversity,” he said in an interview with Bernama at his office in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Hasanov attributed Azerbaijan’s success story of attracting foreign investments, economic development and social cohesion to the implementation of multiculturalism as a state policy, which resulted in a positive perception of Azerbaijan among the international community.

Hasanov said although Muslims make up 96 per cent of Azerbaijan’s population, people of other religions such as the Christians and the Jews (about 11,000 people) has had a long history of peaceful inter-religious and interethnic coexistence. He also said that Azerbaijan, a country of about 10 million people and 30 ethnic groups including Albanian and Turkic, has different houses of worships located side by side without causing any religious tensions.

Located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, Azerbaijan has mosques, churches (including Armenian churches) and synagogues – preserved and protected – as well as the “Fire Temple of Baku” ( Ateshgah) which was once used as place of worship at different times by Hindus, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians – which is protected and is now a top tourist attraction.

After asserting its independence from Russia in 1918 and prior to its incorporation into the Soviet Union in 1920, Azerbaijan gained the distinction of being the first democratic state in the Muslim world. In October 1991, Azerbaijan declared its independence from the then Soviet Union.

Hasanov said multiculturalism – based on national and universal moral and humanistic values – is a policy of Azerbaijan’s government, and the basis of this policy was laid by its National Leader Heydar Aliyev in the 1990s.

He said the project of teaching the discipline of “Azerbaijan Multiculturalism” in local and foreign universities has been implemented by the Baku International Multiculturalism Centre since 2015.

Currently, Azerbaijan’s multiculturalism model is taught at the master’s degree level at 22 universities in countries such as Bulgaria, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, India, Japan, Brazil, Portugal, Indonesia, Russia, Georgia, Turkey, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and Italy.

Azerbaijani multiculturalism will also be taught as one of the main subjects for all specialties in all universities in Azerbaijan from the 2019-2020 academic year.

Meanwhile, there are nine international branches of Baku International Multiculturalism Centre functioning in the world. The activities of all the branches are mainly aimed at the promotion of the ideas of multiculturalism.

Replying to a question, Hasanov said the Centre is willing to work with Malaysia to invite Malaysian students to share and gain experience on the Azerbaijani model of multiculturalism and also for young journalists to undertake independent research on its model of multiculturalism for publication in their own languages.

“We can share our experience and expertise, and also help to establish a branch of our centre in Malaysia and to establish university programme on the Azerbaijani model of multiculturalism,“ Hasanov said, adding that this is possible because both Azerbaijan and Malaysia enjoy strong bilateral ties.

The main objective of the Centre, which coordinates all its activities and projects with the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan, is to ensure the preservation of cultural, religious and linguistic diversity, to present Azerbaijan to the world as a centre of multiculturalism, and to explore and promote existing models of multiculturalism.

Hasanov explained that one of the Centre’s important projects is the International Multiculturalism Winter and Summer Schools, held twice a year, to allow students studying multiculturalism in Azerbaijani and world universities the opportunity to see how the values of multiculturalism and tolerance they theoretically study are being preserved in Azerbaijan.

More than 400 students from over 100 foreign countries took part in eight multicultural schools held for the past five years, he said.

Full report at:

https://www.thesundaily.my/local/azerbaijan-keen-to-work-with-malaysia-on-multiculturalism-GF1887976

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Indonesia and UAE, from vision to action

Retno LP Marsudi

January 13, 2020

As President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo arrived on Sunday in Abu Dhabi on an official visit, we are witnessing how the two nations’ shared vision for moderation and sustainable energy is taking their bilateral relations to a new era.

President Jokowi is in the capital city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to repay the visit of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in July 2019 and to deliver a keynote speech at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW).

Conducted amid ongoing tensions in the region, the President’s visit gives fresh impetus to cooperation over confrontation, dialogues over conflict and peace and security over instability. President Jokowi seems to underline the need for the international community to redouble its efforts for peace and security in the Middle East. When peace and stability are in place, developments and prosperity follow.

The visit is strengthening the extensive ties between Indonesia and the UAE, allowing both not only to improve their diplomatic bonds but also to contribute to efforts to address global issues posed by violent extremism, radicalism, terrorism and energy security vis-à-vis climate change.

The world sees an imminent threat in the expansion of violent extremism, radicalism and terrorist ideology, hence this strategic interest between the two nations in promoting state models of moderate, modern and pluralistic Islam is crucial.

The future relations of Indonesia and the UAE will also rest upon their willingness to respond to the challenges of global energy security. Today, 1 billion people still lack electricity and cleaner energy. Energy and fossil fuel consumption has given rise to the impacts of climate change. Far more needs to be done to advance renewable and efficient energy in all sectors. Thus, Indonesian-UAE relations are being directed to answer those challenges through developing new energy partnerships.

Therefore, President Jokowi’s visit carries at least two messages. First, to promote strategic investment deals, particularly on sustainable energy, and to share his vision on green growth as a way to transform energy security into sustainable energy. Second, to promote the true values of Islam in advancing moderation and tolerance.

The Indonesia-UAE relationship has grown strategically since it was established 44 years ago.

The exchange of visits between leaders, as well as the recent conclusion of Islamic affairs, education, health and agriculture agreements together with significant business deals, have played an important role in strengthening the strategic partnership between the two countries.

Billions of dollars’ worth of business deals are to be generated from this visit and will stimulate bigger investments in the future. These business deals are testament to the trust and confidence of foreign investors in Indonesia.

Our relations today are marked by close ties between our leaders, who share a belief in moderation and tolerance. Both leaders also call for inclusiveness and the need for the Muslim world to spread the true face of Islam, which promotes peace, tolerance and moderation.

The realization of this common vison can be seen in the initiative to build a mosque and an Islamic center in the Central Java city of Surakarta. Not only will the mosque and Islamic Center become the symbol of the Indonesian-UAE vision for peace and moderation, but also an epicenter for teaching, promoting and disseminating the moderate and tolerant values of Islam in Indonesia and in the region.

The two leaders also displayed their commitment to moderation through the signing of a memorandum of understanding on Islamic affairs.

Cooperation to instill noble Islamic values that reject violent extremism but promote tolerance and help raise Muslims’ level of understanding of moderation will be conducted through exchanges of experience and expertise, capacity building for imam, maintenance and management of mosques, introduction of Islam and the demonstration of its merits, as well as moderation and management of endowments.

At present, the most important thing is to strengthen the unity of the people and encourage more inclusiveness. This is what Indonesia and the UAE want to achieve in our immediate future cooperation.

Indonesia and the UAE also put great importance on sustainable energy. The strategic relations between the two countries provide a lot of opportunities and elements of development, which are very promising to invest in, especially because the two countries aim to secure sustainable energy.

Both leaders envision that the relations between Indonesia and the UAE could represent a platform for growth and progress in sustainable energy.

During the ADSW keynote speech, President Jokowi reiterated the need to find the middle way to build bridges between development and the solutions to climate change. President Jokowi said he was also convinced that there will be no green growth without sustainable development and there will be no sustainable development without sustainable energy as there will be no sustainable energy without sustainable cooperation.

It is in this spirit that both leaders agreed to the two countries’ sustainable cooperation over new and renewable energy.

Full report at:

https://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2020/01/13/indonesia-and-uae-from-vision-to-action.html

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Indonesian president eyes $20bn of investment on UAE trip

January 13, 2020

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s president is seeking to land $20 billion worth of deals during his trip to Abu Dhabi through bilateral and business talks.

President Joko Widodo, who arrived in the UAE on Sunday, is hoping to secure investment agreements in the energy, health, infrastructure, and agriculture sectors, as well as development projects for the country’s new capital in East Kalimantan.

“The president is inspired by how cities in UAE are developed as smart, green cities and they are one of the models for the new capital’s development,” Achmad Rizal Purnama, director for Middle East affairs at Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry, told Arab News. He added that the two countries were also set to sign a cooperation agreement on Islamic education that would emphasize religious moderation and tolerance, which showed the “true face of Islam” amid rising extremism and intolerance.

Government minister Luhut Pandjaitan, who led the Indonesian side in negotiations and preparation for the visit, said that cooperation on Islamic matters would also include the construction of a mosque in Solo, Central Java, that would be a replica of Abu Dhabi’s grand mosque and serve as an Islamic center offering training for clerics. The mosque’s construction is due to start this month.

He said earlier this week that the investment agreements to be signed during the visit would be worth up to $20 billion.

Pandjaitan visited Abu Dhabi in December to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and prepare for the president’s two-day visit, securing some initial agreements that would be signed during the visit such as projects with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company to develop state-owned oil company Pertamina’s refinery in Balongan, West Java, and an agreement with Mubadala to develop Pertamina’s refinery in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan.

The state electricity company would sign an agreement with renewable energy company Masdar to develop a 145-megawatt floating solar power plant in Cirata, West Java. State-owned mining holding company Inalum would sign an agreement with aluminum producer Emirates Global Aluminium to develop a smelter and a hydropower plant with 500,000 tons of production capacity per year.

His meetings in Abu Dhabi also included preparation for a memorandum of understanding that would secure the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority’s involvement in Indonesia’s infrastructure development, and extending an invitation to the crown prince to send a team to see a hydropower potential in Papua and North Kalimantan.

“We hope that the UAE would become a partner to develop several carbon projects in Indonesia,” he said.

In the agriculture sector, Indonesia and the UAE would have a business-to-government agreement between the UAE’s Elite Agro and Indonesia’s Agricultural Research and Development Agency to develop a tropical greenhouse in West Java and Central Kalimantan and research the possibility of cultivating tropical plants in the Middle East and Africa.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told reporters on Thursday at the presidential palace that the Abu Dhabi visit was a follow-up of the crown prince’s visit to Indonesia in July, during which companies from the two countries signed agreements totaling $9.7 billion in investment value.

Purnama said that, since the July visit, investment cooperation between the two countries had been developing fast and significantly, making the UAE one of Indonesia’s main investment partners.

The president is also scheduled to deliver a keynote speech at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week on Monday.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1612151/world

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Arab World

 

Hezbollah leader warns US troops will have to leave region dead or alive

NAJIA HOUSSARI

January 13, 2020

BEIRUT: The leader of Hezbollah warned that US troops would have to leave the region dead or alive, and that their withdrawal from the Middle East was a long process rather than a single operation.

Hassan Nasrallah made the threat more than a week after a US drone strike killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the late commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

He addressed his supporters on giant screens that had been set up in Bekaa and southern Lebanon in tribute to Soleimani and the deputy leader of the paramilitary group Hashd Al-Shaabi, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis. Both men were killed by the US strike on Jan. 2.

Iran in retaliation fired missiles last week at air bases in Iraq used by US forces.

The response to Soleimani’s death was a long process that should lead to the eventual withdrawal of Americans from the region, the Hezbollah secretary-general said.

“What happened in Ain Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq is a mere slap on the US and not a full reprisal, and whoever thinks otherwise is wrong, yet it is a very strong military response and a first step on a long path in reaction to the crime. After this slap, the Axis of Resistance should go to action,” he said referring to an anti-Western, anti-Israeli power bloc. “The Americans have to either leave the region vertically or horizontally (in coffins) and this is the ultimate resolution of the Axis of Resistance, and it is a matter of time for this to be achieved. It is a new era in the region and the upcoming days will prove it.”

He said the attack on Al-Asad had put the region on the brink of war, demonstrating “an unprecedented Iranian courage” as it targeted a US base and forces, something which had not happened since World War II, and that the strike was led by a state rather than an organization or resistance group.

It showed the “might of Iranian military capabilities,” which meant all US bases in the region could be subjected to similar missile attacks, he added, pointing out that Iran had more sophisticated and accurate missiles than the ones used in the Al-Asad attack.

Nasrallah said the strike was also a message to anyone who conspired with the US against Iran. He urged the chief of the Iraqi Kurds, Masoud Barzani, to recognize what Soleimani had done for him.

Barzani had contacted the Iranians asking for help when Iraqi Kurdistan almost fell to Daesh, he claimed, and they swiftly responded by sending aid overnight. Soleimani went with the Lebanese to Erbil to support the Kurds, and what was expected now was for them to press for a US withdrawal from the region, he added.

Nasrallah then turned his focus toward US President Donald Trump, branding him a liar and denying his accusation that Soleimani was planning to target the US Embassy in Baghdad.

He said that the huge crowds participating in Soleimani’s funeral terrified Trump and his administration.

“During the Israeli aggression against Lebanon in 2006, Soleimani came to Beirut via Syria, and stayed with us in the southern suburb of Beirut throughout the war in the military command headquarters under heavy bombing. After the war ended, he asked us about our needs, which resulted in Iranian assistance for the reconstruction of Lebanon.”

He heaped praise on Soleimani, saying the slain military man had stood alongside Syrians in the fight against Daesh.

“Had Daesh not been defeated in Iraq, it would have threatened all countries of the region, and its defeat in Iraq led to its defeat also in Syria, and had this not happened all Gulf states, in addition to Iran and Turkey, would have been in danger; this is why the peoples of the region should thank the Hashd Al-Shaabi for saving them and the region too.”

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1612071/middle-east

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Japan’s Halal Market Ready For Tokyo Olympic Games 2020

January 13, 2020

JEDDAH: During Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic Games, Muslim athletes and tourists need not worry about finding halal food in Japan.

Since 2013, the number of halal restaurants has skyrocketed from four to 180, including fine-dining establishments that serve traditional Japanese dishes.

Muslim students are also being accommodated. In 2014, Kanda University of International Studies opened Shokujin cafeteria, which is certified by the Nippon Asia Halal Association.

And the popular chain Curry House CoCo Ichibanya opened its halal Akihabara branch in 2017.

The restaurant said: “As people of different religions and cultures visit Japan, we wanted to develop a restaurant where Muslims could enjoy meals free from concern.”

It added that although it was not easy to procure some ingredients, its experience with the halal Akihabara branch will enable them to expand further.

Japanese wagyu beef, which has become a hit in the Arab world due to its rich taste and tenderness, is also being served halal in its country of origin.

Halal Wagyu Yakiniku Panga in Tokyo’s Taito ward branched out of an already accomplished establishment to accommodate halal consumers and to grow the restaurant’s “food culture.”

Sung Gi Hong, director and manager of Panga, told Arab News where it all started: “My sister worked in Indonesia between 2015 and 2017, and when she asked her Muslim friends in Indonesia to come to Japan, they said there was nothing for them to eat because it’s difficult to find halal restaurants in Japan. When we heard this, we thought it was sad because when we travel we want to have local food, but Muslims who come to Japan have trouble finding places where they can eat.”

The restaurant chain has been running since 1999, and gained halal certification in 2015 from the Japan Halal Foundation. Hong said Panga attracts a large number of Muslim customers.

“A lot of people come to try our A5 Premium Wagyu Platter, as it allows them to enjoy a variety of different cuts of quality wagyu beef and sirloin steak,” added Hong.

Shinjuku Gyoen Ramen Ouka is another restaurant cooking halal dishes in one of Tokyo’s busiest areas.

“We serve halal and vegan options at Ramen Ouka to help promote mutual understanding,” owner Niuma Megumi Wachi told Arab News.

The restaurant features vegetarian and vegan ramen options for those who want to avoid the traditional pork-based broth.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1612206/saudi-arabia

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Expert: US Plotting for Extensive Terrorist Attacks on Key Iraqi Cities

Jan 12, 2020

"Washington is pursuing different plots after failure of several of its plans in the region and its inability to prevent the approval of the plan to expel the American forces in the Iraqi parliament," Hafez al-Basharah told the Arabic-language al-Ma'aloumeh news website on Sunday.

He added that the US will in the next stages reinforce the ISIL by recruiting their remnants in Iraq and Syria, noting that it also plots to launch massive attacks against Baghdad, Karbala and Najaf and release the ISIL terrorists from Iraqi jails.

Al-Basharah said Washington seeks to find a pretext for its continued presence in Iraq.

Earlier this month, Iraq's Parliament voted to have the US troops removed from the country, heeding a call from Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to take urgent measures and end the foreign forces presence as soon as possible.

The Iraqi Parliament passed a resolution to work to end the foreign troops presence in the Arab country in the wake of a US targeted assassination of a top Iranian general and a commander of Iraqi popular forces.

The resolution, which was passed anonymously, instructed the government to cancel a request for military assistance to the US-led coalition, which was issued in response to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (known as ISIL, ISIS or Daesh) terror group.

"The government commits to revoke its request for assistance from the international coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant due to the end of military operations in Iraq and the achievement of victory," the resolution read, adding, "The Iraqi government must work to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason."

The resolution stated that Iraqi military leadership has to report the number of foreign instructors that are necessary for Iraqi national security.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13981022000600

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At least 10 Iraqi protesters injured in clashes with security forces in Karbala

13 January 2020

At least 10 protesters were injured during clashes with security forces in the Iraqi city of Karbala, Al-Arabiya and Al-Hadath correspondent reported citing medical sources.

The clashes were centered in al-Baladiya neighborhood in central Karbala.

The Iraqi News Agency reported that the Iraqi security forces were trying to disperse protesters who were trying to storm the building of the Karbala governorate.

It added that unidentified persons set fire to a warehouse belonging to the Badr Organization, a powerful Iranian-backed armed group in the Karbala Governorate.

Sources said the warehouse was outside the headquarters of Badr organization.

Earlier on Sunday, anti-government protests continued in different parts of the country, including the city of Nasiriyah in Dhi Qar, a governorate in the south of Iraq, and near Wasit University in the city of al-Kut in Wasit Governorate, where 59 people were injured, including 48 members of the security forces following clashes near the university building.

Anti-government protests were also reported in Najaf, as thousands of students in various universities suspended classes and took part.

In Dhi Qar, the police chief was sacked because of the “chaos” in the province.

Young, mostly Shia protesters said politicians were corrupt and blamed them for Iraq’s failure to recover from decades of conflict and sanctions despite two years of relative calm following the defeat of ISIS.

Government reform has amounted to little more than a handful of state jobs for graduates, stipends for the poor and pledges of election reform which lawmakers have barely begun to discuss.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/13/At-least-10-Iraqi-protesters-injured-in-clashes-with-security-forces-in-Karbala.html

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Russian-led airstrikes suspended in Idlib after ceasefire: Reports

12 January 2020

Russia and its allies halted airstrikes in Syria’s Idlib region on Sunday as a ceasefire agreed with Turkey came into force, residents, opposition groups and respondents said, although few were optimistic the truce would hold.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled Idlib province in recent weeks as Russian jets and Syrian artillery pounded towns and villages in a renewed government assault aimed at clearing the opposition from its last bastion in the northwest of the country.

Turkey’s defense ministry said it was closely following ceasefire agreements in Idlib on Sunday, adding that the situation was calm “except for one or two separate incidents.”

Turkey, which for years has backed Syrian opposition groups fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad, said on Friday it had agreed the ceasefire with Russia to stem the flow of tens of thousands of civilians uprooted by the violence.

The latest offensive had brought the Russian-led military campaign closer to heavily crowded parts of Idlib province, where nearly three million people are trapped, the vast majority women and children, according to the United Nations.

Senior UN officials said this month that the humanitarian situation had become more acute with at least 300,000 civilians now on the run in Idlib, adding to the more than half a million people who fled earlier bouts of fighting to the safety of camps near the Turkish border.

Moscow says its forces, along with the Syrian army and Iranian-backed militias fighting alongside them, are fending off terror attacks by al-Qaeda militants whom they say hit populated, government-held areas.

However, they accuse the opposition fighters of wrecking a “de-escalation zone” brokered two-years ago between Turkey and Russia.

The Syrian army said on Sunday that insurgent rockets had killed two people during shelling of residential areas in Aleppo city. opposition fighters and witnesses said that at least a dozen towns were hit by artillery bombing from army posts.

“Aerial bombing stopped but many towns and villages continued to be targeted by artillery rounds,” Mohamad Rashid, an activist said.

Opposition fighters said pro-government forces were massing on the front lines and army helicopters had dropped leaflets calling on civilians to surrender and evacuate opposition-held areas.

“There is no return to the decision to cleanse all areas of the terrorist killers so join your army in achieving victory,” said a pamphlet dropped on opposition-held areas.

Past truces have proved short lived in the months-long bloody campaign to wrest control of the last opposition stronghold that has killed hundreds and left dozens of towns and villages in ruins.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/13/Russian-led-airstrikes-suspended-in-Idlib-after-ceasefire-Reports.html

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Seven mortar bombs strike Iraqi military base of Balad

12 January 2020

Seven mortar bombs fell on Sunday inside Iraq’s Balad air base, which houses US forces, and four Iraqi soldiers were wounded in the attack, according to military sources.

The military sources said the mortar bombs fell in the base’s runway inside the base, which is located in Salah al-Din province, 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad.

The base had hosted American trainers, advisers and a company that provides maintenance services for F-16 aircraft, according to an Iraqi defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

A majority of US airmen stationed at the Balad air base had already left, the military sources said, following tensions between the US and Iran over the last two weeks.

Sunday’s attack wounded an Iraqi air force officer and three enlisted men, Iraqi security officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Some rockets fell on a restaurant inside the airbase, the officials said.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack.

A statement from the Iraqi army’s official media office confirmed the attack but said eight rockets hit the base, and that two officers had been wounded. The difference in accounts could no immediately be reconciled.

The US and Iran recently stepped back from escalating tensions following the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top general, in a US airstrike in Baghdad. A senior Iraqi leader of an Iran-backed militia was also killed.

Iran’s retaliatory attack for Soleimani’s death hit two Iraqi bases, Ain al-Asad and Irbil, where American troops are based.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/12/Seven-mortar-bombs-strike-Iraqi-military-base-of-Balad-military-sources.html

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King Salman, Mohammed bin Salman review ties with Japanese PM Abe

13 January 2020

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud received on Sunday Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his delegation in Riyadh.

King Salman later held  a session of official talks with Prime Minister Abe.

During the session, they reviewed bilateral relations between the two friendly countries and ways of enhancing and developing them, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

They also reviewed cooperation in the fields of tourism, security of supplies, artificial intelligence and renewable energy. The two sides also discussed a number of regional and international issues of common interests.

The session was attended by Ministers and senior officials, including Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Minister of Energy; Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Mohammad bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan, Minister of Finance; Mohammad bin Mazid Al-Tuwaijri, Minister of Economy and Planning, Chairman of the Saudi Side of the Joint Group of the Saudi-Japanese Vision 2030, who is also the accompanying minister.

King Salman held a luncheon in honor of the visiting Prime Minister of Japan.

Later, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also held talks with Prime Minister Abe in the ancient desert city of al-Ula focusing on the economic, trade, investment and cultural fields, including aspects of cooperation in accordance with the Saudi-Japanese Vision 2030, according to SPA.

Abe also enjoyed traditional Saudi hospitality inside a Bedouin tent with the Crown Prince.

Abe also met Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah, Minister of Foreign Affairs. During the meeting, they reviewed bilateral relations and aspects of joint cooperation. They also discussed the latest developments in the regional and international arena.

The official Saudi news agency SPA said Abe and his delegation were received by senior officials including Economy Minister al-Tuwaijri at an official reception ceremony.

The Japanese premier’s visit to Saudi Arabia marked the start of a Gulf tour during which he hoped to ease tensions after the US killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

During his five-day tour, Abe will also visit the United Arab Emirates and Oman, where a new ruler was sworn in on Saturday following the death of modern day Oman's founding father Sultan Qaboos.

“To avoid further escalation of the tense situation in the Middle East, (Abe) will exchange opinions with the three countries” he is visiting, Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said ahead of the visit.

“In each of the countries, we plan to ask for cooperation in ensuring a stable energy supply and the safety of vessels,” he added.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2020/01/13/King-Salman-Mohammed-bin-Salman-review-ties-with-Japanese-PM-Abe-.html

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Friends and foes gather in Oman to mourn Qaboos

12 January 2020

World and regional leaders, many at odds with one another, met Oman’s new ruler on Sunday to offer condolences for the death of Sultan Qaboos whose quiet diplomacy during five decades in power helped calm regional turbulence.

The rulers of Qatar and the United Arab Emirate, which are locked in a protracted dispute, were among those who visited the royal palace in Muscat as was the foreign minister of Iran.

Oman’s new sultan, Haitham bin Tariq al-Said, promised after assuming power on Saturday to uphold the foreign policy of his Western-backed predecessor under which Muscat balanced ties between larger neighbors Saudi Arabia and Iran as well as the United States.

“His challenge going forward will be to quickly develop his personal relationships with foreign partners and make clear his likely stance to stay-the-course with Oman’s foreign policy,” said Elana DeLozier, a research fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank.

Qaboos, who died on Friday aged 79, managed to maintain Oman’s neutrality, not taking sides in the Qatar boycott, and helped to mediate secret US-Iran talks in 2013 that led to an international nuclear pact two years later which Washington then quit in 2018.

President Donald Trump called Qaboos a true partner to the United States, working with nine different American presidents.

“His unprecedented efforts to engage in dialogue and achieve peace in the region showed us the importance of listening to all viewpoints,” Trump said in a statement.

The British government said Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince Charles arrived in Muscat for the condolences ceremony for the longest-serving Arab leader, who took power in a palace coup in 1970 with the help of former colonial power Britain.

Among other Western dignitaries was former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2020/01/12/Friends-and-foes-gather-in-Oman-to-mourn-Qaboos-.html

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FM Zarif says Tehran willing to develop friendly relations with Oman: Iran media

12 January 2020

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told newly appointed Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said on Sunday that Iran is willing to develop friendly relations with Oman, Iran’s official IRNA reported on Sunday.

Zarif was in Oman heading a high-ranking delegation to attend the commemoration ceremony of the late Omani ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said, where he met with Sultan Haitham, according to Iran’s semi-official Tasnim News Agency.

The Prime Minister is reportedly scheduled to leave Muscat for Tehran later Sunday.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2020/01/12/Iran-FM-tells-Oman-s-Sultan-Haitham-Iran-willing-to-develop-friendly-relations-Agencies.html

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Foreign-backed terrorists fire rockets on intl. airport, airbase in Syria’s Aleppo

12 January 2020

Foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorists have fired a volley of rockets against an international airport and an air base in Syria’s northwestern city of Aleppo, causing minor material damage.

Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that the rockets landed in the vicinity of Aleppo International Airport and al-Nairab Military Airport on Saturday evening.

SANA added that army units conducted retaliatory attacks and concentrated bombardments targeting militants’ hideouts and positions in the area, killing a number of the terrorists.

The terrorists’ vehicles and rocket launching pads were also targeted and destroyed in the counter-terrorism operation.

Earlier in the day, foreign-backed terrorists holed up in western and southwestern Aleppo attacked a residential area in the village of Minyan, west of Aleppo.

Several civilians killed in terrorist attacks on Aleppo

Separately, at least three civilians lost their lives after a barrage of rockets fired by terrorists hit some neighborhoods of Aleppo on Sunday.

SANA said that the rocket attacks, launched by “terrorist groups”, also wounded at least three people, including two children.

The injured were reportedly rushed to a nearby hospital to receive treatment.

According to SANA, the rocket attack was conducted mainly by Takfiri Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) terrorists against the residential neighborhoods of the city. 

The Aleppo province is situated next to Idlib, a province still held in most parts by terror groups, the most prominent of them is called the HTS terrorist group, which is a coalition of different factions of terror outfits largely composed of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.

Since the Syrian government troops regained control of Aleppo at the end of 2016, the city has been targeted intermittently by an array of terror outfits.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/12/616014/Syria-Aleppo-SANA-Idlib-HTS-Minyan

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Volley of rockets hit Iraqi airbase hosting US forces, wound several local troops: Iraq’s military

12 January 2020

A rocket barrage has hit an Iraqi airbase hosting US forces north of the capital Baghdad, Iraq’s military says.

In a brief statement released on Sunday evening, the Arab country’s military said that eight Katyusha-type rockets landed on al-Balad airbase, some 80 kilometers north of Baghdad, wounding two Iraqi officers and two airmen.

A number of shells landed on the runway of the airbase while another shell hit the gate, said Colonel Mohammed Khalil, a local police officer.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the rocket attack.

The airbase is home to most of Iraqi’s F-16 fighter jets, which it had purchased from the US to upgrade its air defense capabilities. Al-Balad is also home to a small US Air Force contingent as well as American contractors.

According to what an unnamed military sources told AFP, a majority of American forces had been evacuated from the airbase after tensions escalated between the US and Iran over the past two weeks.

“About 90 percent of the US advisers, and employees of Sallyport and Lockheed Martin who are specialized in aircraft maintenance, have withdrawn to Taji and Erbil after threats,” one of the sources said.

“There are no more than 15 US soldiers and a single plane at al-Balad,” the source added.

Back on January 4, at least two rockets, suspected to be of Katyusha type, also fell in the airbase, which is in the vicinity of the city of Samara in Salahuddin province.

The rocket attack on Sunday occurred four days after the Iranian defense units poured more than a dozen ballistic missiles on two military bases housing US troops in Iraq, in retaliation for the US assassination of Iran's top military commander, Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a US drone strike near Baghdad International Airport on January 3.

The strike also assassinated Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy chief of the Iraqi pro-government Popular Mobilization Units (PMU). Four other Iranians and four more Iraqis in their company were also martyred.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/12/616026/Iraq-al-Balad-airbase-US-forces-rocket-Katyusha-assassination-Soleimani-Iran

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Mideast

 

Iran Agrees De-Escalation ‘Only Solution’ To Solve Crisis With US

13 Jan 2020

TEHRAN: Iran signalled on Sunday (Jan 12) it favours a de-escalation after 10 days of heightened tensions with the United States during which both sides fired missiles and Tehran accidentally shot down a passenger aircraft.

Security was stepped up in Iran's capital after a vigil the previous night for those killed in the air disaster turned into an angry protest and police temporarily arrested the British ambassador for being there.

US President Donald Trump warned Iran against harming demonstrators and against a repeat of a deadly crackdown against rallies in November sparked by a fuel price hike.

"To the leaders of Iran - DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS," Trump tweeted in his occasional all-capitals style.

US Defence Secretary Mark Esper, however, said Trump was still willing to "sit down and discuss without precondition a new way forward" with Iran, although Tehran has steadfastly refused to hold talks with Washington unless it lifts sanctions first.

Tehran said it favoured an easing of tensions after its arch-enemy Washington on Jan 3 killed a revered Iranian general, Quds Force chief Qasem Soleimani, in a Baghdad drone strike.

'A CRITICAL TIME'

In a meeting between Iran's President Hassan Rouhani and the visiting emir of Qatar, both sides agreed de-escalation is the "only solution" to the regional crisis, the emirate's ruler said.

Qatar hosts the largest US military base in the region but also enjoys strong ties with Iran, with which it shares the world's largest gas field.

"This visit comes at a critical time in the region," Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani said on what was believed to be his first official visit to the Islamic republic.

"We agreed ... that the only solution to these crises is de-escalation from everyone and dialogue."

For his part, Rouhani said: "We've decided to have more consultations and cooperation for the security of the entire region."

Iran's president also met with visiting Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, whose country has offered to mediate between Tehran and US ally Riyadh.

In a briefing to parliament, Hossein Salami, commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, said the missiles it fired last Wednesday on Iraqi bases hosting US troops were not aimed at killing American personnel.

"Our aim was not really to kill enemy soldiers. That was not important," he told parliament.

The US said no American personnel were harmed in the attacks.

Across the border in Iraq, the military said rockets slammed on Sunday into Al-Balad, an Iraqi airbase where US forces have been stationed, wounding two Iraqi officers and two airmen.

The base had held a small US Air Force contingent as well as American contractors, but a majority of these personnel had already been evacuated due to the tensions between the US and Iran, military sources told AFP.

Reacting to the latest attack, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted: "Outraged by reports of another rocket attack on an Iraqi airbase.

"These continued violations of Iraq's sovereignty by groups not loyal to the Iraqi government must end," he added.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Sunday's rocket attacks. The US has previously blamed such attacks on Iran-backed groups in Iraq.

'DEATH TO BRITAIN'

The current crisis claimed a tragic toll when Iran - on hair-triggered alert just after attacking the Iraqi bases - last Wednesday accidentally shot down the Ukraine International Airlines plane, killing all 176 people aboard.

After days of denial from Iran, Rouhani on Saturday admitted to "human error" in bringing down the Boeing 737, and the Guards' aerospace commander General Amirali Hajizadeh accepted full responsibility.

On Saturday evening, a memorial at Tehran's Amir Kabir University in honour of those killed turned into a demonstration that AFP correspondents said was attended by hundreds of students.

They shouted "death to liars" and demanded the resignation and prosecution of those responsible, Fars news agency reported, saying that police "dispersed" them.

Around the same time, police temporarily arrested the British ambassador, Rob Macaire, who had attended the vigil, sparking a fresh diplomatic crisis.

Macaire tweeted Sunday: "I wasn't taking part in any demonstrations! Went to an event advertised as a vigil for victims of #PS752 tragedy.

"Normal to want to pay respects - some of victims were British. I left after 5 mins, when some started chanting."

Fars said Macaire was summoned on Sunday to Iran's foreign ministry for his "presence in illegal gatherings".

Later on Sunday up to 200 protesters rallied outside the British diplomatic mission, chanting "Death to Britain" and burning a Union Jack..

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday called for countries in the region to bolster ties to overcome turbulence caused by the presence of the US and its allies.

"The current situation ... demands - more than ever before - strengthening of relations between countries in the region as well as avoiding influence of foreigners'" meddling, Khamenei was quoted as saying on his official Twitter account as he hosted Qatar's emir.

Elsewhere in Tehran, tensions appeared to be mounting again, with a heavy police presence notably around the iconic Azadi Square south of the centre.

Riot police armed with water cannon and batons were seen at Amir Kabir, Sharif and Tehran universities as well as Enqelab Square.

Around 50 Basij militiamen brandishing paintball guns, potentially to mark protesters to authorities, were also seen near Amir Kabir.

On the diplomatic front, France, Germany and Britain on Sunday called on Iran to return to "full respect" of its commitments under Tehran's 2015 nuclear accord with world powers, despite Washington having walked out of the deal.

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/iran-agrees-de-escalation-only-solution-to-solve-crisis-with-us-12256316

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Iranian Students Ask for Expulsion of British Envoy

Jan 12, 2020

British Ambassador to Tehran Robert Macaire had been briefly detained during a Saturday night protest in front of the Amir Kabir University in downtown Tehran where he was organizing and provoking tens of protesters upset with the government’s way of handling the aftermaths of the Ukrainian plane incident earlier this week.

The Iranian students and seminaries who had gathered in front of the British embassy on Sunday chanted 'death to Britain', 'we do not want British spy', 'the British nuclear deal should be annihilated' and 'the British embassy should be closed'.

They also carried images of IRGC Qods Force Commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani who was assassinated by the US in Iraq, and voiced strong support for the IRGC.

A senior Iranian legislator blasted Macaire for participating and promoting the protest rally, calling on him to end his interference in Iran's internal affairs.

"The undue presence of the British ambassador in some gatherings is a flagrant interference in Iran's affairs and it should be studied at the parliament, specially the National Security Commission," Hossein Ali Haji Deligani said, addressing an open session of the parliament in Tehran on Sunday.

"I call on the British envoy to end his interference and leave Iran before the Iranian nation forces him to leave," he added.

Reports said that Macaire had been holding secret meetings inside a shop opposite the main gate of the Amir Kabir University to monitor the developments that led to the protest on Saturday.

The General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces said in a statement on Saturday that the Ukrainian Boeing 737 plane was shot down as a hostile object due to human error at a time of heightened US threats of war.

The statement said an expert investigation by the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces after the Ukrainian airline company's Boeing 737 incident has found that flight 752 of the Ukrainian airlines has been shot down as a hostile flying object that was approaching a sensitive IRGC center and was shot down due to human error few hours after Iran's missile attack on the US and as Iran's military was expecting attacks by the US army.

A Boeing 737 plane carrying 180 passengers and crew, mostly Iranians, crashed shortly after takeoff from Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran early Wednesday, leaving no survivors.

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei in a message on Saturday extended his condolences again on the death of the Ukrainian plane's passengers, and ordered the Armed Forces to take the needed measures to find faults and flaws that have led to the bitter incident and prevent repetition of similar incidents in future.

In his message, the Leader renewed his most heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the bereaved families of the victims, and reiterated his "order to the General Staff of the Armed Forces to probe into possible faults and flaws in this painful accident," Ayatollah Khamenei said.

He also underscored the need for the relevant Iranian directors and officials to launch the necessary follow-ups to prevent repetition of such incidents in future.

Also, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani extended condolences to the families of those killed in the Ukrainian plane incident, and promised that all those who have been guilty in the unforgivable mistake of shooting down the jet will be prosecuted.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13981022000923

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Hezbollah: New Stage of Confrontation against US Regional Deployment Started after General Soleimani's Assassination

Jan 12, 2020

"The US military men's presence in the region has paved the ground for their occupation and hegemony over our country's fate," Hassan Fazlollah was quoted as saying by the Arabic-language al-Manar news channel on Sunday.

He referred to Washington's interference in Lebanon's internal affairs, and said the US prevents Beirut from resuming ties with Syria, while the country is the source for Lebanese people to supply food stuff in conditions of economic crisis.

Fazlollah underlined that assassination of General Soleimani was a milestone which started confrontation against the US presence in the region.

General Soleimani was martyred in a targeted assassination attack by the US drones at Baghdad International Airport early on Friday morning.

The airstrike also martyred Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), or Hashad al-Shaabi. The two were martyred in an American airstrike that targeted their vehicle on the road to the airport.

Five Iranian and five Iraqi militaries were martyred by missiles fired by the US drone at Baghdad International Airport.

The attack came amid tensions that started by the US attack on PMF units that killed 28 Iraqi popular forces. A day later, Iraqi people attacked the US embassy in Baghdad.

The targeted assassination attack represents a dramatic escalation by the US toward Iran after months of tensions. The tensions take root in Trump’s decision in May 2018 to withdraw the US from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, struck under his predecessor.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13981022000861

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Iranian Parliamentarians Stress Firm Support for IRGC

Jan 12, 2020

The statement which was recited by member of the parliament's Presiding Board Ahmad Amirabadi, extended the lawmakers' condolences to the family members of those killed in the incident, calling on people to mass-participate in their funeral ceremony.

The legislators also appreciated the IRGC commanders for accepting responsibility for the grave mistake of downing the civilian aircraft, and said, "We do not forget that we are in powerful confrontation with the criminal US and do not allow a mistake by a member of the family to pave the ground for misusing the issue by the enemies."

"We, the representatives of people in the parliament, declare our firm support for the IRGC as a revolutionary body and its plans and measures in support of the people and the Islamic Republic," the statement said.

The General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces said in a statement on Saturday that the Ukrainian Boeing 737 plane was shot down as a hostile object due to human error at a time of heightened US threats of war.

The statement said an expert investigation by the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces after the Ukrainian airline company's Boeing 737 incident has found that flight 752 of the Ukrainian airlines has been shot down as a hostile flying object that was approaching a sensitive IRGC center and was shot down due to human error few hours after Iran's missile attack on the US and as Iran's military was expecting attacks by the US army.

A Boeing 737 plane carrying 180 passengers and crew, mostly Iranians, crashed shortly after takeoff from Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran early Wednesday, leaving no survivors.

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei in a message on Saturday extended his condolences again on the death of the Ukrainian plane's passengers, and ordered the Armed Forces to take the needed measures to find faults and flaws that have led to the bitter incident and prevent repetition of similar incidents in future.

In his message, the Leader renewed his most heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the bereaved families of the victims, and reiterated his "order to the General Staff of the Armed Forces to probe into possible faults and flaws in this painful accident," Ayatollah Khamenei said.

He also underscored the need for the relevant Iranian directors and officials to launch the necessary follow-ups to prevent repetition of such incidents in future.

Also, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani extended condolences to the families of those killed in the Ukrainian plane incident, and promised that all those who have been guilty in the unforgivable mistake of shooting down the jet will be prosecuted.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake... My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families. I offer my sincerest condolences," Rouhani said in a statement on Saturday.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13981022000680

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Report: US Used Israeli Intelligence in Assassination Operation of Iranian Commander

Jan 12, 2020

NBC News cited unnamed sources as saying that Israel added to the early January's military operation by providing the Americans with key intelligence details on the matter.

The details helped confirm and verify intelligence from informants at a Syrian airport that General Soleimani had been on a nighttime flight from Damascus to Baghdad, info which was used to tip off the CIA.

The New York Times, in turn, reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ahead of Soleimani’s killing, and the Tel Aviv regime likely became Washington’s only ally which was in the know about the issue.

Unnamed US officials have also told The New York Times that the United States considered targeting General Soleimani since at least July 2018.

According to the newspaper, officials considered assassinating the senior Iranian general outside Iran, in Syria or Iraq, deeming that an attack against him in Iran itself would be too difficult to accomplish.

The US effort reportedly included cultivating agents to report on Soleimani’s movements across the region.

Former Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton reportedly formally presented the option of assassinating General Soleimani in May, after the US deployment of a carrier strike group to the Middle East.

Netanyahu has called the US assassination of the top commander a justified act of self-defense and said Trump should be credited for “acting swiftly, forcefully and decisively”. Later, Israel's Channel 13 reported that the primer warned his cabinet not to get too involved in the US assassination of General Soleimani, lest Tel Aviv gets dragged into the escalating conflict between Washington and Tehran.

Fars News Agency

@EnglishFars

IRGC Aerospace Commander: Wednesday Missile Strikes Marks Start of Major Operations Across Regionhttp://fna.ir/ded743

View image on Twitter

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Iranian officials branded the airstrike an “act of international terrorism” and promised retaliation. Tehran has time and again warned that it will not be the initiator of any war, but reserves the right to self defense and will give a crushing response to any act of aggression by the United States.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13981022000860

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Iran’s IRGC chief: We are ‘ashamed’ over shooting down plane

13 January 2020

The head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami said on Sunday that he felt more “ashamed” than ever, after the IRGC shot down a civilian airliner on Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board.

“Never in my life have I felt so ashamed,” said Salami, who was speaking at Iran's parliament.

“We made a mistake, and some of our compatriots were martyred due to our mistake, but it was unintentional,” he said, telling MPs: “We apologise and are ashamed, but we will compensate … as long as we are here, rest assured, we will not allow any Iranians to be harmed.”

Salami said that he we wished he was on flight PS752 “so I could die and not witness this sad incident.”

Referring to the Iranian missile attacks on military bases hosting US troops in Iraq, he said that the plane crash “has not yet allowed for the magnitude of Iran’s stunning victory over America to be identified.”

The IRGC shot down flight PS752 on Wednesday, reportedly with an anti-aircraft missile.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/13/Iran-s-IRGC-chief-We-are-ashamed-over-shooting-down-plane.html

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Dozens injured as anti-regime protests erupt in Iran

13 January 2020

Several people were injured after protests in Iran’s capital city Tehran turned violent on Sunday night, with security forces arresting demonstrators who had taken to the streets to protest against the Iranian regime.

Demonstrations erupted across the country after the Iranian regime admitted a civilian airplane was accidentally hit by a missile, killing all 176 people on board.

Iran had initially denied that a missile hit the plane.

Videos shared on social media showed protesters gathering in cities across the country, and chanting anti-regime slogans.

A video showed an injured woman who had reportedly been shot by security forces, according to Iranian activist Masih Alinejad, who shared the video on Twitter.

Masih Alinejad 🏳️

@AlinejadMasih

Security forces fire on this woman in Tehran’s Azadi Ave.

Her crime? Being furious with the regime for downing a civilian aircraft and mourning in the street for 176 Iranian-Canadians who got killed in #UkrainianPlane#IranProtests2020

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“We don’t want an Islamic regime,” demonstrators are heard shouting in one video.

Saghar Erica Kasraie

@SagharKasraie

Tehran, Anti-Government protests continue in major cities across #iran

“We don’t want an Islamic regime”

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Other video footage showed Iranian women ripping posters of Qassem Soleimani, the Quds Force commander who was killed in a US airstrike in Iraq’s Baghdad earlier this month.

Iranian American

@IranLionness

Must watch 👇

Fearless Iranian women ripping off Soleimani's poster on the wall following their protests against the Iranian regime that shot down the Ukrainian plane (Flight #PS752S)

Thanks to POTUS for killing Qasem Soleimani, the very oppressor of the Iranian people.

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Last Update: Monday, 13 January 2020 KSA 08:53 - GMT 05:53

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/13/Dozens-injured-as-anti-regime-protests-erupt-in-Iran.html

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Iran’s Revolutionary Guards says missiles not aimed to kill US troops

12 January 2020

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on Sunday it did not aim to kill US troops when it fired a wave of missiles last week at Iraqi bases hosting American forces.

“Our aim was not really to kill enemy soldiers. That was not important,” the Guards’ commander, Hossein Salami, told parliament, referring to last Wednesday’s missile operation launched to avenge the killing of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi top commander Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes in Baghdad on January 3.

On Sunday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that regional conditions require closer contacts between regional countries, according to his official website.

Khamenei, in apparent reference to United States, said those who “came to the region from across the world” oppose cooperation among regional countries.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/12/Iran-s-Revolutionary-Guards-say-missiles-did-not-aim-to-kill-US-troops-.html

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Video shows Iranian protesters ripping up pictures of slain Qassem Soleimani

12 January 2020

Iranian protesters on Sunday ripped up pictures of Qassem Soleimani, the slain commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force who was killed in a US drone strike last week.

A video shared on social media showed protesters in Tabriz city of East Azerbaijan Province, in northwestern Iran, ripping up the commander’s picture from a wall.

On Sunday, protests erupted across Iran for a second day, piling pressure on the leadership after the Iranian regime announced that its military had mistakenly brought down a Ukrainian plane on Wednesday, killing all 176 aboard.

On Saturday, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency, in a rare report on anti-government unrest, said protesters in Tehran chanted slogans against the nation’s top authorities, after the powerful Revolutionary Guards admitted shooting down a passenger plane.

The report said the demonstrators on the street also ripped up pictures of Qassem Soleimani, the prominent commander of the Guard’s Quds Force who was killed in a US drone strike.

Al Arabiya English

@AlArabiya_Eng

• Jan 11, 2020

Watch: Iranian protesters chant slogans against the IRGC and the Supreme Leader following the country’s admission to unintentionally downing a Ukrainian airliner and killing 176. https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/11/Protests-in-Tehran-following-IRGC-admission-of-Ukrainian-plane-atrocity.html …

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Al Arabiya English

@AlArabiya_Eng

“Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid, we’re all together,” protesters chant at Amir Kabir University in Tehran against the regime after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard acknowledged that it accidentally shot down the Ukrainian jetliner.https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/11/Protests-in-Tehran-following-IRGC-admission-of-Ukrainian-plane-atrocity.html …

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Alireza Nader

@AlirezaNader

Soleimani is a symbol of the dictatorial Islamic Republic, not national unity as the regime & its Western sympathizers will have you believe.

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https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/12/Iranian-protesters-ripe-up-pictures-of-slain-Qassem-Soleimani.html

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Hezbollah chief: It’s time Iran’s allies start working to avenge Soleimani

12 January 2020

Lebanon’s Hezbollah said on Sunday it was time for Iran’s allies to begin working to retaliate for the killing of Major General Qassem Soleimani though it would be a “long path” to the goal of ejecting US forces from the region.

Hassan Nasrallah also denied the Iranian general had been planning to blow up US embassies. US President Donald Trump had said he had been killed after he landed in Baghdad in part because “they were looking to blow up our embassy.”

Hezbollah, a heavily armed group designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, was established in 1982 by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and is an important part of a regional Tehran-led alliance known as “the axis of resistance.”

In a televised speech, Nasrallah said that slain commander Soleimani was Iran’s representative in the region, and that he had asked the pro-Iranian militia to send its militants to Iraq.

Nasrallah emphasized the role of Soleimani in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, noting that Soleimani’s visits to Lebanon were numerous.

Regarding the Iraqi top commander Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes who was killed alomg with Soleimani by the US drone attack in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad on January 3, Nasrallah said “Al-Mohandes considered himself a soldier of Qassem Soleimani.”

Nasrallah claimed that had it not been for Soleimani and al-Mohandes, “ISIS” would have spread to the Arabian Gulf and the Middle East.

Iran responded to Soleimani’s killing by launching missiles at two military bases in Iraq that house US forces on Wednesday. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called it a “slap on the face” of the United States and said US troops should leave the region. Though the region remains tense, both sides have backed off from intensifying the conflict since the Iranian attack.

Nasrallah said last week that Iran’s allies, which include the Syrian government and numerous paramilitary groups set up with Iranian support in Iraq and Syria, should help exact revenge for Soleimani’s killing.

“I believe it is time for the axis of resistance to start working,” he said in his speech on Sunday.

“The resistance forces are serious and aiming for the big goal that I proposed,” Nasrallah said, referring to the objective of seeing US forces leave the region.

Retaliation would happen in the “coming days, weeks and Months,” he said, adding “this is a long path.”

Explaining the decision to kill Soleimani, Trump said on Thursday “they were looking to blow up our embassy.”

He also said the United States carried out the strike because of a rocket attack on a US military base in Iraq by an Iran-backed militia in December that killed a US contractor, which US officials believe Soleimani had a role in orchestrating.

Nasrallah said: “Trump is lying to his people ... Haj Qassem Soleimani was not planning to blow up American embassies.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/12/Nasrallah-Iran-s-Soleimani-asked-Hezbollah-to-send-soldiers-to-Iraq.html

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Iran’s Khamenei calls for better regional cooperation, criticises US

12 January 2020

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Sunday for increased cooperation among countries in the region to deal with problems he blamed on the United States, his official website said.

Khamenei, in apparent reference to United States, said those who “came to the region from across the world” oppose cooperation among regional countries.

“The situation in the region is inappropriate because of ... the United States and its friends, and the only way to deal with it is to rely on inter-regional cooperation,” Ayatollah Khamenei told Qatar’s visiting ruler, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the website reported.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/12/Iran-s-Khamenei-calls-for-closer-contacts-between-regional-countries.html

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Qatar emir calls for de-escalation at ‘sensitive’ time on Iran visit

12 January 2020

Qatar’s ruler, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, said during a visit to Iran on Sunday that de-escalation and dialogue were needed to resolve regional crises at a “sensitive” time.

The emir, who has allied with Iran, was speaking in a televised news conference with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a visit to Tehran after Iran-backed militia launched a series of attacks on US bases in Iraq and Iran shot down a civilian aircraft, killing 176 people.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/12/Qatar-emir-calls-for-de-escalation-at-sensitive-time-on-Iran-visit.html

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Iran pro-government militia chant ‘Death to England’ in embassy protest

12 January 2020

Pro-government militia members chanted “Death to England” in a protest outside the UK embassy in Tehran on Sunday, demanding its closure, according to Iran's semi-official Fars news agency.

Members of the Basij militia, which is affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), gathered outside the embassy on Sunday afternoon.

The protests come after Iran temporarily arrested the UK Ambassador Rob Macaire, for allegedly interfering in domestic affairs by allegedly attending a protest in front of Tehran’s Amir Kabir University.

Macaire denied he took part in the protests, tweeting on Sunday: “Can confirm I wasn’t taking part in any demonstrations! Went to an event advertised as a vigil for victims of #PS752 tragedy.”

Protests broke out in Tehran against the IRGC on Saturday following its admission to shooting down a civilian airplane near Tehran on Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/12/Iran-s-Basij-protests-to-demand-closure-of-UK-embassy-in-Tehran-Iranian-media.html

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Protests erupt across Iran demanding leaders quit after Ukraine plane downing

12 January 2020

Protests erupted across Iran for a second day on Sunday, piling pressure on the leadership after the Iranian regime announced that its military had mistakenly brought down a Ukrainian plane on Wednesday, killing all 176 aboard.

Clashes were reported between protesters and security forces in the Iranian capital Tehran, while scores of protesters chanted slogans against Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards.

Protests spread to the cities of Mashhad and Esfahan with protesters chanting “Death to the dictator.”

The semi-official ILNA news agency said police moved to disperse the protesters, who it said numbered as many as 3,000.

Videos posted online showed demonstrators running from police who used batons and teargas.

There were casualties among the demonstrators after Iranian security forces opened fire on them in Tehran.

US President Donald Trump warned Iran on Sunday against killing protesters as his defense secretary left the door open to talks with Tehran without preconditions.

State-affiliated media had reported protests on Saturday night shortly after the Iranian military said it had brought down the Ukrainian plane and apologized.

Al Arabiya English

@AlArabiya_Eng

Watch: Iranian protesters chant slogans against the IRGC and the Supreme Leader following the country’s admission to unintentionally downing a Ukrainian airliner and killing 176. https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/11/Protests-in-Tehran-following-IRGC-admission-of-Ukrainian-plane-atrocity.html …

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“They are lying that our enemy is America, our enemy is right here,” protesters who had gathered in the street outside a university in Tehran chanted. They also gathered in other cities.

IRGC forces threatened protesters in response to the new wave of anti-regime demonstrations, according to Iran International. They also reported that Ali Shirazi, a representative of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, described the protests as a US and Israeli plot.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/12/Protesters-chant-anti-regime-slogans-across-Iran-Iran-International.html

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Regional security cooperation has no value without Iran: Qatari Emir

12 January 2020

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani says his country attaches importance to cooperation with Iran as an influential player in the region, pointing out that any security coordination among regional countries will be of no avail in the absence of the Islamic Republic.

Speaking at a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran on Sunday, the Qatari Emir said Doha and Tehran had always cooperated on different regional and international developments at various levels.

Qatar believes heightened tension in the region is not beneficial to any country, the Emir said, highlighting the fact that the Islamic Republic has always pursued a wise and prudent stance on regional developments.

Al Thani urged the Iranian and Qatari authorities to work for further cooperation in trade, tourism and joint ventures. Doha, he added, welcomes expansion of economic partnership between tradesmen and enterprises from the two countries and would facilitate their activities.

The Qatari Emir arrived in Tehran on Sunday to hold talks with senior Iranian officials.

Qatar is close to the United States and hosts its largest military base in West Asia, but Doha also enjoys strong ties with Tehran, with whom it shares the world's largest gas field.

Enhanced Iran-Qatar ties serve mutual national interests: Rouhani

The Iranian president said in the meeting that expansion of mutual relations served national interests of the two countries.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to take new steps in trade and economic spheres between the two countries," Rouhani said.

He emphasized that Qatar, as a friendly country, can turn into a base for trade, economic and maritime cooperation between Tehran and Doha.

Highlighting Iran's advances in various fields of science and technology, knowledge-based activities as well as such utilities as water and power supply, Iran’s president said Tehran was ready to transfer its experiences in these fields to the friendly and brotherly country of Qatar.

Dialog, only solution to all crises: Qatari Emir

Speaking at a joint press conference with the Iranian president following their meeting, the Qatari Emir said his visit to Tehran "comes at a very sensitive juncture in the region" and that he agreed with President Rouhani that dialog is the only solution to the ongoing crises.

Al Thani hailed Iran's stance on Qatar, particularly at a time of a Saudi-led blockade on the Arab country, saying Tehran has provided Doha with all necessary facilities at the earliest. 

The Qatari Emir was alluding to escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf region after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) severed their diplomatic relations with Doha in June 2017, accusing it of sponsoring “terrorism” and destabilizing the region.

The quartet also imposed sanctions against Doha, including restrictions on Qatari aircraft using the airspace of the four countries. To further pressure Qatar, Saudi Arabia totally closed its land border with its neighbor, through which much of Qatar's food supply crossed. Doha, however, rejects the claims, saying its sovereignty has been attacked.

Qatar will never forget the Islamic Republic's positive attitude, the Emir emphasized.

He said he has invited the Iranian president to visit Doha in the near future, which was accepted.

Iran will stand by Qatar: Rouhani

The Iranian president told reporters that despite restrictions imposed by some countries against Qatar, the Islamic Republic has stood and will continue to stand by the country.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/12/616008/Al-Thani-Rouhani-Iran-Qatar-

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Trump blindly following Israeli schemes in West Asia: Assad's aide

12 January 2020

Donald Trump, the president of the United States, is blindly undertaking Israeli schemes in the region, says the political and media adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“We have reached a stage where Trump is blindly working to fulfill the wishes of Zionism. Zionism sought to deal a blow to the axis of resistance by assassinating the two fighters. However, it only consolidated the resistance front,” Bouthaina Shaaban said in Damascus on Sunday, condemning the assassination of Iran's Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and the second-in-command of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

She then cited a report published by the Israeli Haaretz daily that Trump had informed Israeli officials of his intention to assassinate Soleimani without consulting Congress. “We are facing an act which Trump perpetrated simply to serve the interests of Israel.”

The assassination of Soleimani was shocking, the Syrian official said, emphasizing that its repercussions will not be confined to days and months, but will rather last long.

“America took an action that will have adverse effects on the US in all arenas. The United States proved itself to be a government that commits terrorist and criminal acts by the law of the jungle, and violates the constitution by skirting Congress,” the high-ranking Syrian official said.

She also hailed a decision made by the Iraqi parliament concerning the withdrawal of US military forces from Iraq as well as Iran’s precision firing of missiles at US bases in Iraq.

On January 5, Iraqi lawmakers unanimously approved a bill demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country.

Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi called on the United States on January 9 to dispatch a delegation to Baghdad tasked with formulating a mechanism for the pullout.

The prime minister said Iraq rejects violation of its sovereignty, particularly the US military's violation of Iraqi airspace in the airstrike that assassinated Soleimani on January 3.

“The prime minister said American forces had entered Iraq and drones are flying in its airspace without permission from Iraqi authorities and this was a violation of the bilateral agreements,” said a statement by the office of Iraq's prime minister.

The US State Department bluntly rejected the request on Friday.

Early on Wednesday, the IRGC targeted the US air base of Ain al-Assad in Anbar province in western Iraq after launching a wave of attacks to retaliate the assassination of General Soleimani.

The IRGC has called for a complete withdrawal of US troops from the Arab country, asserting that it would not differentiate between the US and Israel in retaliating against the assassination of the Iranian national hero.

“We warn US allies providing bases for the [American] terrorist army… that any country serving as the origin of bellicose and aggressive attacks in any form against the Islamic Republic of Iran will be targeted,” read the IRGC statement on Wednesday.

The strike came as no surprise since Iran had vowed to take a “harsh revenge” in the wake of the US act of terror.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei later said Iran’s missile strike on US bases in Iraq was just “a slap.”

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/12/616028/US-President-Trump-undertakes-Zionist-regime%E2%80%99s-wishes-blindly:-Assad%E2%80%99s-top-aide

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France criticizes Israel’s illegal settlement expansion activities, calls on Tel Aviv to comply with intl. law

12 January 2020

France has strongly denounced the Israeli regime’s recent plans to build some 2,000 settler units in the occupied West Bank, stressing that all Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.

In a statement released on Sunday, the French consulate in occupied Jerusalem al-Quds called on the Tel Aviv regime to comply with international law that deems such structures as illegal. 

French officials also demanded that the Israeli authorities renounce these projects and all those that undermine the so-called two-state solution.

“Settlements in all forms are illegal under international law, and specifically UN Security Council Resolution 2334. They heighten tensions on the ground and undermine the conditions for a just and lasting settlement between Israelis and Palestinians, based on the two-state solution,” the statement said.

A European Union spokesperson also on Thursday criticized Israeli plans to expand settlement activities across the occupied Palestinian territories. The 28-member bloc has also reiterated its support for the resumption of “a meaningful process” towards the so-called two-state solution, which it described as “the only realistic and viable way” to fulfill the aspirations of both sides.

Earlier this week, the anti-settlement monitoring group Peace Now said Israeli authorities had approved the construction of 1,950 new settler homes in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Peace Now said that nearly 800 housing units received the final approvals needed for construction to begin, while initial approvals were given for an additional 1,150 homes.

This came at a time when the International Criminal Court (ICC) was discussing whether it had jurisdiction ahead of opening a formal investigation into Israeli violation of international law in the Israeli settlements.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

Less than a month before US President Donald Trump took office, the United Nations Security Council in December 2016 adopted Resolution 2334, calling on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem” al-Quds.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/12/616023/France-Palestine-Jerusalem-al-Quds-Tel-Aviv-EU

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Saudi TV suspends Palestinian announcer over solidarity with Yemen

12 January 2020

The Director General of Saudi sports network, KSA Sports, has reportedly suspended Palestinian announcer Razan Malash from appearing on television broadcasts after finding out that she had posted a series of posts on Twitter in solidarity with Yemen and in condemnation of the Riyadh regime’s campaign against the impoverished Arab country.

Ghanem al-Qahtani announced in a Twitter post that Malash had been suspended from work on the sports channel over abusive tweets towards the Kingdom.

Qahtani added that the Spain-based announcer did not work directly with the Saudi sports network, but through a company contracted by them.

 “The Saudi fighters only strike Yemen, not Israel,” Malash wrote in a tweet.

She had accused Saudi Arabia of being responsible for the emergence of Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in an earlier post.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating 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 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 100,000 lives over the past four and a half years.

The UN says over 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger.

Back in 2018, Saudi-owned and Dubai-based Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) fired announcer Ola Al-Fares after she criticized US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of the Israeli regime.

“Trump did not choose the time absurdly… Tonight, we condemn and tomorrow we welcome him,” she tweeted at the time.

Trump sparked controversy by officially recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as the Israeli capital in December 2017, before moving his country's embassy there from Tel Aviv in May 2018.

Guatemala and Paraguay later followed in Washington’s footstep, before the latter reversed its decision after just four months.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/12/616017/Saudi-TV-suspends-Palestinian-announcer-over-solidarity-with-Yemen,-condemning-Riyadh-aggression

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Nasrallah says Iran missile strikes showed all US bases in West Asia within range

12 January 2020

Iran's precision missile strikes at US military bases in Iraq sent the message that all American targets in West Asia are within the range of Iranian missiles, says the secretary general of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also lauded the Islamic Republic over firing the salvo of ballistic missiles in retaliation for the January 3 assassination by US terrorists of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), in an airstrike near the Baghdad International Airport.

“This attack was also a message to the Zionist entity… Let stupid (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu know the wrong spot he has put his entity in,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech broadcast live from the southern Lebanese city of Baalbek as he addressed his supporters on Sunday evening.

He added, “Look at the faces of the US leaders… Do they look like victorious faces?”

Nasrallah said he was certain that US President Donald Trump would not respond to the Iranian missile strike when he saw the news on Arabic-language media outlets in the Persian Gulf region.

The Hezbollah chief then slammed mainstream Arab news networks for being far too pro-US over their attempts to underreport the Iranian strikes and the extent of damage caused.

“What happened in Ain al-Assad is only a slap (in the face of Americans), and not a revenge for the assassination. It is the first step that will lead to the (full) withdrawal of the US from the region,” Nasrallah said.

The Hezbollah head then censured Washington over being responsible for any criminal act worldwide, saying, “Wherever there is a crime, it should be labeled as “made in the USA.””

“The most violent criminal in today’s world is the US. Even the Israeli regime, which is committing crimes in the region, is under the US patronage. Daesh (Takfiri terrorist group) is also destroying and wreaking havoc in the region for the sake of re-deployment of US military forces,” the Hezbollah chief pointed out.

“One of the most important outcomes of this virtuous martyrdom is that it exposed the real nature of America. General Soleimani’s martyrdom must lead to expulsion of all US troops from the region,” Nasrallah commented.

He also hailed the top Iranian commander for his generous support for Hezbollah, saying the Lebanese resistance movement could flourish only through his firm backing.

“General Soleimani joined battles against Daesh in person,” Nasrallah said, stressing that the entire Middle East would have been overrun by the Takfiri terrorists if the Iranian general had not fought them off.

“Daesh was a very dire threat to the region… It was going to hurt every country, even its sponsors. Haj Qassem saved them… and the whole region must be grateful to him, Abu Mahdi and those who fought Daesh,” the Hezbollah chief said, referring to the second-in-command of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis who was with Soleimani when their convoy was targeted.

Nasrallah also slammed Washington for interference in Lebanon’s domestic affairs, describing the United States as the spearhead of tyranny and hegemony in West Asia.

He strongly dismissed US allegations of Hezbollah being Iran’s proxy in Lebanon, emphasizing that US statesmen do not comprehend the fact that such a bond is deep-rooted in fraternity, and that Tehran has never asked the Lebanese resistance movement to do anything for its sake.

The Hezbollah secretary general lauded mass funeral processions for Soleimani and Muhandis in Iraqi and Iranian cities.

“The huge processions in Iran revealed that revenge is not the decision of the Leader (of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei) but the decision of the nation.”

He termed Trump as a known hypocrite. “How could you as a major hypocrite ask Iran for cooperation in the fight against Daesh? You don’t want to fight Daesh.

“Trump is making the most bald-faced lies as the US president. They (US presidents) have all been liars, but Trump is the worst. General Soleimani was never planning to attack US embassies! Trump just wanted to invent an excuse for his crime,” Nasrallah noted.

He also addressed former President of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani, saying he must express gratitude to General Soleimani as he was the sole person to rush and fight Daesh when others turned down his request.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/12/616013/Iran-missile-strikes-Iraq-Nasrallah

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Israeli forces say to bulldoze homes of three Palestinian prisoners in West Bank

12 January 2020

Israeli forces have informed the families of three Palestinian prisoners of their plan to demolish their homes in the occupied West Bank.

The Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs said Israeli forces have broken into the houses of the three prisoners on Friday, handing their families demolition orders as what they called a collective punishment.

The Israeli forces then gave the families four days to evacuate after they measured Palestinians’ property.

They also photographed and mapped their homes as a preparation for demolition.

The prisoners are Mahmoud Atawneh from the town of Beit Kahil, west of al-Khalil (Hebron), Walid Hanatsheh from the town of al-Tira near Ramallah and Yazan Maghames from Birzeit town north of Ramallah.

Atawneh is accused of stabbing an Israeli settler at the illegal Gush Etzion settlement bloc south of Bethlehem last August, while Hanatsheh and Maghames are accused of involvement in killing an Israeli settler near the illegal Israeli settlement of Dolev, northwest of Ramallah in the same month.

The Israeli military has been practicing collective punishment against the Palestinian people as an official policy.

Demolitions of Palestinian houses occur under the pretext that the residential structures have been built without the relevant building permits.

Israel has razed the homes of hundreds of Palestinians for their alleged involvement in attacks against Israelis. Human Rights Watch has repeatedly condemned the move as a violation of international humanitarian law, which prohibits collective punishment. In May 2019, the Israeli rights group, B’Tselem, said in a report that the Tel Aviv regime uses other strategies to block Palestinian use of their land, or demolish the homes Palestinians have already built, thus, clearing the way for new illegal Israeli settlements in the region.

Israel has been occupying the West Bank, including East al-Quds, since 1967. Ever since, it has been building illegal settlements throughout the land, in a move condemned by the UN and considered illegal under international law.

International bodies and rights groups say Israeli demolitions of Palestinian structures in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds are an attempt to uproot Palestinians from their ancestral territory and confiscate more land for the expansion of illegal settlements.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/12/616001/Israel-Palestine-demolition-prisoners-West-Bank

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North America

 

US deplores detentions, internet ban in occupied Kashmir

Anwar Iqbal

January 13, 2020

WASHINGTON: The chief US diplomat for South Asian affairs, Alice Wells, has expressed concern over continued detentions and internet-shutdown in occupied Kashmir, days before her visit to New Delhi for bilateral talks.

“Closely following US ambassador to India and other foreign diplomats’ recent trip to Jammu & Kashmir. Important step,” she wrote in a tweet posted on the official website of the US State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs.

“We remain concerned by detention of political leaders and residents, and internet restrictions. We look forward to a return to normalcy,” she added.

Kashmir has no internet access for more than 150 days.

Ms Wells will reach New Delhi on Jan 15 on a three-day visit that includes talks with senior Indian officials on bilateral and regional issues. She will then proceed to Islamabad on a similar, three-day visit that will begin on Jan 19.

On Thursday, the Modi government arranged a “guided tour” for some New Delhi-based diplomats to the occupied valley — the first after India scrapped the region’s autonomous status five months ago.

“European Union envoys declined an invitation, apparently because the visit did not include meetings with three former chief ministers, who continue to be in detention and whose parties dominated Kashmiri politics,” reported an American broadcaster, Voice of America.

But US ambassador to India, Kenneth Juster, accompanied the group, which met Indian military officials, politicians and journalists selected by Indian security services.

India showcased the visit to support its claim that normalcy is returning to the troubled region, where a strict clampdown imposed in August paralysed life as authorities imposed a dusk to dawn curfew. Indian authorities also imposed unprecedented restrictions on both social and conventional media and disconnected cellphones. Indian security forces also arrested hundreds of Kashmiris, including senior politicians. Most of them remain in detention and the internet suspended.

The diplomats from more than a dozen countries were driven in a motorcade from the airport amid tight security and the areas they visited were also selected by Indian officials.

“Although access for diplomats, rights activists and foreign journalists to Kashmir has always been controlled, India has further restricted travel to the region for both foreigners and Indian opposition leaders,” VOA noted.

The US broadcaster reported that Indian opposition parties were criticising the government for not allowing their leaders to visit the region while taking diplomats on what they called a “guided tour”.

“Essentially, the government wants to demonstrate that everything is normal in Kashmir, which is far from reality,” said Congress Party leader Manish Tewari.

Besides Ambassador Juster, the diplomats who visited Kashmir represented Norway, Vietnam, South Korea, Brazil, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh and the Maldives.

“It’s all about trying to improve the optics,” Manoj Joshi, a foreign affairs analyst at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi told VOA. “Around the world, the government’s handling of the domestic situation has been getting huge amount of negative attention.”

Although Indian succeeded in “persuading” Washington to sends its ambassador, “its other good friend France hid behind the European Union decision not to go on the guided tour,” reported an Indian media outlet, ThePrint.

“Brazilian ambassador to India, Andre Aranha Correa do Lago, didn’t travel to Srinagar although his name was on the list,” the report added.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1528010/us-deplores-detentions-internet-ban-in-occupied-kashmir

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Canadian PM Trudeau tells Iran crash vigil he will pursue justice

13 January 2020

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his voice sometimes breaking, on Sunday told a vigil for some of those killed in an Iranian plane disaster that he would “pursue justice and accountability” for what happened.

Iran says it mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian airliner on Wednesday, killing 176 people. Fifty-seven Canadians died, most of them of Iranian descent, in one of the biggest single losses of life Canada has suffered in 40 years.

“You may feel unbearably lonely, but you are not alone. Your entire country stands with you, tonight, tomorrow, and in all the years to come,” Trudeau told a standing-room crowd of 2,300 in a basketball gymnasium in Edmonton, Alberta, home to 13 of the victims.

Most had direct links to the University of Alberta.

As Trudeau spoke, boxes of tissues were passed among the mourners who packed the bleachers. Black-rimmed photos of the dead stood on the stage, beside arrangements of rose petals, candles and plates of dates.

“This tragedy should have never occurred, and I want to assure you that you have my full support during this extraordinarily difficult time ... you give us purpose to pursue justice and accountability for you,” said Trudeau, who has demanded Canada take part in the crash probe.

“We will not rest until there are answers.”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney lamented an “epic demonstration of human folly.” Kenney, a political foe of Trudeau, told the vigil he was confident the prime minister would give his all to find out what happened.

Family and friends wept and hugged, listening to tributes to their loved ones from young and old.

Ghazal Pakseresht grieved the short life of her friend and Persian school classmate, 14-year-old Daria Mousavi who died in the crash with her sister Dorina, 9, and parents Pedram Mousavi and Mojgan Daneshmand.

“She never got to fall in love, get married, have kids and grow old. In life we don’t realize how important someone is to us until they’re no longer with us,” Pakseresht said of Daria.

Daniel Ghods said his girlfriend, Saba Saadat, a student of biological sciences, was a “glimpse of light” in his life, before she was killed in the crash.

“In this world we live in it’s easy to become desensitized to the tragedies going on around us,” Ghods said. “I ask everyone to maintain their humanity and be kind to one another.”

Earlier in the day about 2,000 people packed into a Toronto university hall, voicing grief and rage.

“There is no justice in this world,” said Masoud Niknam, mourning his brother Farhad, a dentist and married father of two children.

“I don’t believe in anything anymore. We will have a hole in our hearts forever and that cannot be filled with anything.”

“Everybody is angry, everybody is upset. I haven’t seen Iranian people like this since 1979, the revolution,” said Mehrdad Ariannejad, CEO of Tirgan, a non-profit organization that organized the Toronto memorial.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/01/13/Canadian-PM-Trudeau-tells-Iran-crash-vigil-he-will-pursue-justice.html

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Pompeo condemns latest missile attack on Iraqi base

13 January 2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday he was “outraged” by another missile attack on an Iraqi airbase where US forces have been stationed, as neighboring Iran signaled a wish to de-escalate regional tensions.

“Outraged by reports of another rocket attack on an Iraqi airbase,” Pompeo tweeted. “These continued violations of Iraq's sovereignty by groups not loyal to the Iraqi government must end.”

Secretary Pompeo

@SecPompeo

Outraged by reports of another rocket attack on an Iraqi airbase.  I pray for speedy recovery of the injured and call on the Government of #Iraq to hold those responsible for this attack on the Iraqi people accountable.

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2:36 AM - Jan 13, 2020

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Secretary Pompeo

@SecPompeo

• 10h

Outraged by reports of another rocket attack on an Iraqi airbase.  I pray for speedy recovery of the injured and call on the Government of #Iraq to hold those responsible for this attack on the Iraqi people accountable.

Secretary Pompeo

@SecPompeo

These continued violations of Iraq’s sovereignty by groups not loyal to the Iraqi government must end.

7,134

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There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Sunday’s rocket attacks. The US has previously blamed such attacks on Iran-backed groups in Iraq.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/01/13/Pompeo-condemns-latest-missile-attack-on-Iraqi-base.html

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Iran issues more visas to Canadian team probing crash and helping families

12 January 2020

Iran has issued eight more visas to a team of Canadian officials following a fatal plane crash near Tehran and most members of the group should be in Tehran on Monday, Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said on Sunday.

Champagne said on Twitter that three officials from the rapid deployment team had flown to Iran on Saturday to set up a base of operations and a further eight would travel on Monday. The last member will arrive in Ankara on Monday.

“We expect the (team) to be fully in place to do their important work by Jan 14,” Champagne said.

Iran has admitted that its military mistakenly shot down the plane on Wednesday, killing all 176 aboard, at a time when Tehran feared US air strikes. Many on board the Ukraine International Airlines plane were Iranians with dual citizenship, while 57 were holders of Canadian passports.

Canada says it wants to take part in the crash investigation and help the families of the Canadians who died. The team includes consular officials and two members of Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB).

The TSB said later it would deploy a second team of investigators who specialize in aircraft recorder download and analysis “once we confirm where and when this activity will take place.” It did not give more details.

Canada does not have diplomatic relations with Iran.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/01/12/Iran-issues-more-visas-to-Canada-team-investigating-plane-crash.html

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Canada voices concern over Iran’s arrest of UK Ambassador

12 January 2020

Canada and several other countries with nationals killed in the shootdown of a civilian airliner called on Tehran on Sunday to abide by its international commitments after Iranian authorities briefly arrested the British ambassador.

“We call on Iran to uphold the Vienna Convention,” Canada’s foreign ministry said, referring to a 1961 international treaty that sets out protections from harassment for foreign diplomats.

Canada issued the statement after a call among representatives of countries whose citizens were among the 176 people killed when a Ukrainian airliner was hit by an Iranian missile January 8.

The group formed by Canada in the wake of the disaster includes Britain, Ukraine, Sweden and Afghanistan.

“All countries on the call noted their concern that the British ambassador to Tehran was temporarily detained by Iranian officials following his attendance at a vigil for the victims of flight PS752,” the statement said.

Iran earlier Sunday confirmed it briefly arrested Rob Macaire, the British ambassador, for attending an “illegal gathering” - a charge he has denied.

The European Union and France criticized Tehran for the arrest as well.

On Saturday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “outraged and furious” over the shootdown, demanding a full investigation and for Tehran to assume responsibility for the tragedy, including financial compensation.

Iran’s leaders admitted on Saturday that Iranian forces accidentally shot down the airliner after mistaking it for a cruise missile.

Trudeau is expected in Edmonton, Alberta Sunday to attend a memorial service for the 57 Canadian victims of the disaster. About a dozen were from Edmonton.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/01/12/Canada-voices-concern-over-Iran-s-arrest-of-UK-Ambassador-.html

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73% of Americans concerned about war with Iran: Poll

12 January 2020

A majority of Americans disapprove of the way President Donald Trump is handling the situation with Iran and say they feel less safe, with 73 percent expressing concerns about the United States entering a new war, according to a new poll.

The poll, conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News, asked respondents what they thought about two unfolding challenges for the Trump presidency -- rising tensions with Iran and the upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate.

The results, released Sunday, show a majority of all American adults, 56 percent, disapprove of Trump’s handling of the situation with Iran following a US drone strike that assassinated top Iranian commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq last Friday.

Early on Wednesday, Iran responded by striking a major American airbase in western Iraq and another in Erbil, the capital of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

Americans’ attitude on the subject was split along party lines, according to the poll.

While 87 percent of Republicans said they approved of Trump's handling of the situation, an overwhelming 90 percent of Democrats disapproved.

The poll also found that 54 percent of Republicans felt safer, compared to 82 percent of Democrats who said they felt less safe. Only 28 percent of Independents said they felt safer.

When asked about concerns over a potential full-scale war with Iran, a majority of both Democrats and Republicans said they were concerned.

A total of 94 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans said they were either very concerned or somewhat concerned about the possibility of the US getting involved in another war in the Middle East. Only 6 percent of Democrats said they were not so concerned or not concerned at all.

Independents were more reflective of the country's attitude as a whole, with 72 percent expressing concerns about a new war. This is while 73 percent of all Americans said they were concerned.

Attitudes on the domestic conflict, impeachment, were also driven by partisanship, with 66 percent of Democrats and 10 percent of Republicans maintaining that Democratic leaders were abiding by a constitutional duty to ensure a full trial in the Senate.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/12/616012/Majority-Americans-concerned-new-war

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'Trump cited GOP hawks’ support as reason to assassinate Soleimani: Reports

12 January 2020

US President Donald Trump has told his associates his decision to assassinate Iran’s top commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani came amid pressure from Senate war hawks he views as crucial allies in his upcoming impeachment trial, according to two separate reports.

As Trump discussed the assassination drone strike at his private mansion in Mar-a-Lago, he told some associates that he wanted to safeguard the backing of Senate Republicans in time for the impeachment trial in the upper chamber, The New York Times said in a report this week.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that after the assassination operation, Trump told associates he was under pressure from a number of Senate Republicans, whose support he needs in the impeachment trial, to take action on the Iranian general.

“Mr. Trump, after the strike, told associates he was under pressure to deal with Gen. Soleimani from GOP senators he views as important supporters in his coming impeachment trial in the Senate, associates said,” according to the Journal.

The reports did not mention any Republican senators by name, however, many of the president’s allies in the Senate, including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have openly praised his decision to assassinate Gen. Soleimani.

Sen. Graham was reportedly the only senator who was briefed by the administration about the assassination operation.

“I was briefed about the potential operation when I was down in Florida. I appreciate being brought into the orbit,” the senator told FOX News.

Soleimani, the head of Iran's Quds Force, was assassinated in a US drone strike outside Baghdad’s International Airport last Friday.

The new information comes as the Trump administration is under mounting pressure from Congress concerning the justification for assassinating the senior military official of another country.

Chris Murphy

@ChrisMurphyCT

Let's be clear - if there was evidence of imminent attacks on four embassies, the Administration would have said so at our Wednesday briefing. They didn't.

So either Fox News gets higher level briefings than Congress...

or...wait for it...

there was no such imminent threat.

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The reports further call into questions the narrative by Trump and his top aides that General Soleimani had been planning “imminent” attacks against US personnel and interests. Even some US officials have admitted that there is no evidence to support that claim.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/12/616004/Trump-GOP-hawks-Soleimani-assassination-

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Over a dozen Saudi servicemen to be expelled from US: Report

12 January 2020

Over a dozen Saudi servicemen accused of harboring links to extremist groups and possessing child pornography will be expelled from US military bases, according to media reports.

This comes after the FBI conducted an investigation into a shooting rampage by a Saudi officer at a Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida last month that killed and injured several people.

Early in December, Mohammed Alshamrani, who was receiving pilot training at the base, opened fire in a classroom, killing three sailors and wounding eight others before he was shot dead by the sheriff's deputies.

The Saudis to be expelled are not accused of aiding the 21-year-old Saudi Air Force second lieutenant in the shooting, but some of them are believed to have been linked to other extremist movements, CNN reported citing a person familiar with the situation.

Some others are also accused of possessing child pornography, according to a defense official and the person familiar with the situation.

The FBI probe also showed that several others had not reported the shooter’s disturbing behavior prior to the attack, according to The Washington Post.

"In the wake of the Pensacola tragedy, the Department of Defense restricted to classroom training programs foreign military students from Saudi Arabia while we conducted a review and enhancement of our foreign student vetting procedures," said Lt. Col. Robert Carver, a spokesman for the Department of Defense. "That training pause is still in place while we implement new screening and security measures."

The Justice Department is expected to conclude that the incident was in fact an act of terrorism, CNN cited a US official as saying.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/12/615978/US-Saudi-Arabia-service-members-military-base

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Trump voices support for Iran protests as UK envoy detained

12 January 2020

US President Donald Trump has, in a tweeted message, supported protesters in Iran who were angry at the government’s handling of the aftermath of a plane crash last week, amidst reports of the British ambassador's brief detention in Tehran over his presence at the protest site.

Protesters, mostly students, gathered outside the Amir Kabir and Sharif universities in Tehran late Saturday after Iranian armed forces headquarters issued a statement clarifying circumstances surrounding the crash of a Ukraine International Airlines plane on January 8 which killed 176 people on board.

The statement said the Boeing 737-800, on its way to Kiev and ultimately bound for Canada’s Toronto, had been shot down accidentally hours after Iran fired missiles at two American military bases in neighboring Iraq early on Wednesday.

The demonstrators expressed their anger over the conduct of the officials regarding the downing of the aircraft and the three-day delay in releasing the facts to the public.

Trump was quick to take to Twitter on Saturday, saying in both Farsi and English that his “administration will continue to stand with” the protesters.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

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

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One Twitterer responded by saying that Trump cannot claim to support Iranians after he had imposed sanctions targeting them.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

• Jan 12, 2020

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

Caitlin Johnstone

@caitoz

You don't get to murder civilians with starvation sanctions and then have anyone believe you when you tell them you stand with them.https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1216114135529902081?s=20 …

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

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

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3:44 AM - Jan 12, 2020

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Another one said that a president directly speaking to a nation shows "he is encouraging demonstrations and other destabilizing activity."

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

• Jan 12, 2020

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

Scott Ritter

@RealScottRitter

Pro hint: When you hear a President speak directly to a nation we are not on good relations with, and he is encouraging demonstrations and other destabilizing activity, you can be rest assured there’s a CIA operation underway. 100%. Take it to the bank.

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A Twitter user spoke of her friend who was ill and died because of Trump's boycott on drugs, calling on the US to leave the Middle East.

tim anderson

@timand2037

• Jan 12, 2020

Replying to @realDonaldTrump

Has any crocodile ever shed such fake crocodile tears? Impose an economic war to starve the people of #Iran , then send in #MEK assassins to kill hundreds, next threaten to destroy Iran's cultural heritage, now present as a champion of the #Iranian people. #Trump

mahtab

@mmahdavi18

He says he has been with the Iranian people from the beginning, yes with severe sanctions. My friend was ill and died because of Trump's boycott of drugs. Get out of the Middle East.

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John Pavlovitz, an author, reacted by saying that Iranians and Americans believe Trump is "a global moral cancer."

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

• Jan 12, 2020

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

John Pavlovitz

@johnpavlovitz

The decent people of both Iran and America think you're a global moral cancer.

Keep murdering people to distract from your rampant criminality and trying to explain it away later.

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Tim Anderson, a writer and an internationalist, called Trump's remarks "fake crocodile tears," saying, he has imposed sanctions on Iran and after assassinating their country's top general, threatened to destroy Iran's cultural heritage.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

• Jan 12, 2020

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

tim anderson

@timand2037

Has any crocodile ever shed such fake crocodile tears? Impose an economic war to starve the people of #Iran , then send in #MEK assassins to kill hundreds, next threaten to destroy Iran's cultural heritage, now present as a champion of the #Iranian people. #Trump

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Last week, Trump claimed that his military would hit “very important” targets related to Iran if the Iranians want to take retaliatory action against the US for the assassination of a senior military commander.

“We have ... targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran,” said Trump in a Saturday tweet while making a reference to the occupation of the former US embassy in Tehran in 1979.

The threat came after Iranian authorities said they would show a harsh response to the US strikes that killed Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds force, and a number of Iraqi anti-terror fighters, in Baghdad early on Friday, January 3.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, British Ambassador Robert Macaire was briefly arrested by security forces over his presence at the site of a protest in Tehran.

Dominic Raab, the UK's foreign secretary, has criticized the arrest as a “flagrant violation of international law.’’

Macaire later in Twitter messages posted in Farsi acknowledged his brief detention, but denied that he had taken part in any demonstrations.

"Can confirm I wasn't taking part in any demonstrations! Went to an event advertised as a vigil for victims of #PS752 tragedy," he wrote, adding that he left the site immediately after a number of people started chanting slogans, but was arrested half an hour later.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/12/615963/US-Donald-Trump-protesters-Iran-Ukraine-plane

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Europe

EU’s Borrell urges ‘de-escalation’ after Iran holds UK envoy

12 January 2020

The EU’s diplomatic chief criticized Iran on Sunday for briefly detaining the British ambassador to Tehran, calling for “de-escalation”.

“Very concerned about the temporary detention of the UK Ambassador @HMATehran in Iran. Full respect of the Vienna convention is a must. The EU calls for de-escalation and space for diplomacy,” Josep Borrell tweeted.

Josep Borrell Fontelles

@JosepBorrellF

Very concerned about the temporary detention of the UK Ambassador @HMATehran in Iran. Full respect of the Vienna convention is a must. The EU calls for deescalation and space for diplomacy.

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https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/01/12/EU-s-Borrell-urges-de-escalation-after-Iran-holds-UK-envoy-.html

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UK ambassador’s arrest in Iran a ‘flagrant violation’ of international law: Raab

12 January 2020

The imprisonment of the United Kingdom’s ambassador to Iran Rob Macaire, allegedly during protests in Tehran, was a “flagrant violation” of international law, the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement on Sunday.

“The arrest of our Ambassador in Tehran without grounds or explanation is a flagrant violation of international law,” Raab said.

The Iranian government can either “continue its march towards pariah status with all the political and economic isolation that entails, or take steps to deescalate tensions and engage in a diplomatic path forwards,” the foreign secretary added.

Macaire was allegedly arrested during a protest in front of Tehran’s Amir Kabir University, according to Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/01/12/UK-ambassador-s-arrest-in-Iran-a-flagrant-violation-of-international-law-Raab.html

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Iran summons UK envoy amid row over his detention

Muhammet Kursun

12.01.2020

Iran on Sunday summoned U.K. Ambassador in Tehran Rob Macaire over his “illegal and inappropriate presence” near an anti-government protest, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday. 

The Iranian Foreign Ministry also handed an official protest note to the ambassador, the ministry said in a statement.

On Saturday, Macaire was detained during the protest outside Amirkabir University in the capital Tehran, but was released after an-hour-long detention.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/iran-summons-uk-envoy-amid-row-over-his-detention/1700574

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Turkish president, German chancellor discuss Libya

Sefa Mutlu 

12.01.2020

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed recent developments in Libya over the phone, an official statement said on Sunday.

The statement issued by Turkey’s Directorate of Communications said the two leaders also discussed the regional developments.

On Saturday, the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and forces loyal to Libya's renegade Gen. Khalifa Haftar accepted a joint call by Turkey and Russia for a cease-fire .

The cease-fire took effect at midnight local time (2200GMT) and the decision was celebrated with fireworks in Tripoli.

Since the ouster of late leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: one in eastern Libya supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates and the other in Tripoli, which enjoys the UN and international recognition.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/turkish-president-german-chancellor-discuss-libya/1700517

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Africa

 

Turkish drone has fallen south of Libya’s Tripoli: LNA

12 January 2020

A Turkish drone, which had reportedly been firing missiles despite a truce, has fallen south of Tripoli, the Libyan National Army said on Sunday.

In a related development, both of Libya’s warring factions accused each other of violating a ceasefire proposed by Turkey and Russia, as fighting continued around the capital, Tripoli, on Sunday.

Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj invited Turkey to turn Libya into an “Ottoman state,” alleged the speaker of the rival faction in Libya’s civil war in a visit to Egypt.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2020/01/12/Turkish-drone-has-fallen-south-of-Libya-s-Tripoli-LNA.html

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LNA speaker says GNA invited Turkey to turn Libya into ‘Ottoman state’

12 January 2020

Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj invited Turkey to turn Libya into an “Ottoman state,” alleged the speaker of the rival faction in Libya’s civil war in a visit to Egypt.

Aqila Saleh, the President of the House of Representatives for the Tobruk-based goverment affiliated with the Libyan National Army (LNA), said that al-Sarraj had opened the way for Turkey to convert Libya to an Ottoman state.

Al-Sarraj signed a controversial deal with Turkey’s embattled President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month, seeking to create a commercial exclusive economic zone from Turkey’s southern Mediterranean shore to Libya’s northeast coast. Following the agreement, Turkey has sent soldiers to Libya to support the GNA in its fight against the LNA.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2020/01/12/LNA-speaker-says-GNA-invited-Turkey-to-turn-Libya-into-Ottoman-state-.html

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Both sides accuse each other of violating ceasefire in Libya

12 January 2020

Both of Libya’s warring factions accused each other of violating a ceasefire proposed by Turkey and Russia, as fighting continued around the capital, Tripoli, on Sunday.

The Turkish and Russian presidents had called for the ceasefire to start on Sunday, more than nine months into an offensive on Tripoli by the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar.

Both the LNA and the Tripoli-based, UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) had said they conditionally agreed to the truce.

But the GNA said in a statement that it had recorded gunfire in the Salaheddin and Wadi Rabea areas “minutes” after the ceasefire was meant to start at 0001 a.m. on Sunday (Saturday 2201 GMT).

From early on Sunday morning exchanges of fire could be heard in Salaheddin and Ain Zara districts.

Any attempt to impose a lasting ceasefire will be hard to enforce because of the splintered nature of Libya’s military coalitions, with disparate factions and foreign fighters deployed on both sides. Both sides refer to each other as militias.

“The (GNA) militias violated the truce on more than one battlefront, with all types of weapons,” said LNA commander Al-Mabrouk Al-Gazawi, adding that forces were waiting for further instruction from LNA general command.

The GNA said in a statement it had recorded violations by “the aggressor’s militias” but that it “renews its commitment to the ceasefire, and emphasizes the need for commitment from the patrons of this ceasefire and the United Nations mission in Libya in applying it optimally.”

Turkey’s defence ministry said it had observed that all sides were trying to abide by the ceasefire, and that the situation was calm except for “one or two separate incidents.”

The ceasefire call came after a recent escalation of fighting around Tripoli, and the LNA’s advance into Sirte, a strategically important city midway along Libya’s coastline.

It also came as the United Nations and European powers pushed for a summit in Berlin aimed at winding down foreign involvement and resuming a peace process upended by Haftar’s advance.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2020/01/12/Both-sides-accuse-each-other-of-violating-ceasefire-in-Libya.html

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Ethiopian PM asks South Africa to intervene in Nile dam dispute

13 January 2020

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Sunday asked South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene in a long-running dispute with Egypt over a massive dam being built on the Blue Nile River.

Ethiopia’s ties to Egypt have soured since the east African country launched the construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam in 2011.

Set to become the largest hydropower plant in Africa, the project has fueled tensions because Egypt depends on the river for 90 percent of its water supply.

Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan – where the Blue Nile converges with the White Nile before flowing north – started discussions in November that are meant to yield an agreement next week.

But major sticking points remained in the latest round of talks on Thursday and the parties have yet to clinch a deal.

Abiy, who visited South Africa this weekend, called on Ramaphosa to intervene in the negotiations as the next chairperson of the African Union (AU), which he will take over from Egypt this month.

“As he (Ramaphosa) is a good friend for both Ethiopia and Egypt and also as incoming AU chair, he can make a discussion between both parties to solve the issue peacefully,” Abiy told reporters at a press conference in South Africa’s political capital Pretoria.

Ramaphosa said South Africa was open to playing a role in facilitating “whatever agreement can be crafted”.

“What is pleasing, as far as I’m concerned, is that both countries are willing to discuss this matter and find solutions,” he said.

The president said he had already brought up the issue with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who was “willing to have discussions with Ethiopia”.

Abiy received the Nobel Peace Prize last month for his efforts to resolve a long-running conflict between Ethiopia and its neighboring foe Eritrea.

Just three months after Abiy took office in 2018, he ended a 20-year-old stalemate between the countries over a 1998-2000 border conflict.

US President Donald Trump made a controversial statement earlier this week in which he complained about Abiy receiving the prestigious award.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/01/13/Ethiopian-PM-asks-South-Africa-to-mediate-Nile-dam-dispute-.html

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King Abdullah of Jordan warns Daesh on the rise again

January 13, 2020

PARIS: King Abdullah of Jordan on Monday warned that the Daesh group was regrouping and was once again on the rise in the Middle East.

Months after the ousting of Daesh last year from their last Syrian holdout, Abdullah said his “major concern is that we have seen over the past year the re-establishment and rise of Isis, not only in southern eastern Syria but also in western Iraq.

“We have to deal with the reemergence of Isis,” the king added in an interview with TV channel France 24 ahead of talks this week in Brussels, Strasbourg and Paris. He also said many foreign fighters from Syria were now in Libya.

“From a European perspective, with Libya being much closer to Europe, this is going to be an important discussion in the next couple of days,” Abdullah said.

“Several thousand fighters have left Idlib (Syria) through the northern border and have ended up in Libya, that is something that we in the region but also our European friends will have to address in 2020.”

Regarding last week’s spiking of tensions between Iran and the United States, Abdullah said he hoped that “in the next several months we set the right tone for the region, which is really to bring the temperature down.”

“So far it looks like de-escalation, we hope that that continues to be the trend. We can’t afford instability in our part of the world.

“Whatever happens in Tehran will affect Baghdad, Amman, Beirut, the Israeli Palestinian process.”

Abdullah added that the recent deployment of Turkish troops in a training capacity to Libya “will only create more confusion” in the country.

Both sides in Libya’s conflict agreed to a cease-fire from Sunday to end nine months of fighting, following weeks of international diplomacy and calls for a truce by power-brokers Russia and Turkey.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1612286/middle-east

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Egypt says it supports cease-fire in Libya

Mehmet Nuri Ucar  

12.01.2020

Egypt and Algeria on Sunday announced their support for the cease-fire in Libya, which was jointly urged by Turkey and Russia earlier this week.

“Egypt welcomes the unconditional ceasefire declared in Libya and expresses its support to all who will prevent the bloodshed of our brotherly people of Libya,” Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The statement added that Egypt supports a comprehensive political solution to protect the unity and territorial integrity of its neighbor countries, including Libya.

Meanwhile, Algeria’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement: "Welcoming the cease-fire in Libya, Algeria urges all sides to adhere to the cease-fire and to resume a dialogue process as soon as possible.”

On Saturday, GNA in Tripoli and forces loyal to Libya's renegade Gen. Khalifa Haftar accepted a joint call by Turkey and Russia for a cease-fire.

The cease-fire took effect at midnight local time (2200GMT) and the decision was celebrated with fireworks in Tripoli.

Since the ouster of late leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: one in eastern Libya supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates and the other in Tripoli, which enjoys the UN and international recognition.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/egypt-says-it-supports-cease-fire-in-libya/1700605

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Three Teachers Killed by al Shabaab Militants in Kenya

JANUARY 13, 2020

Nairboi: Three teachers were killed in Kenya near the country's border with Somalia in a suspected attack by al Shabaab militants, a police report seen by Reuters said on Monday, in what would be the latest assault by the group since the new year.

The militia also attacked a local police station and destroyed a telecommunications mast in the attack in the early hours of Monday in Garissa county, the report read.

https://www.news18.com/news/world/three-teachers-killed-by-al-shabaab-militants-in-kenya-2456181.html

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