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Islamic World News ( 28 Feb 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Building a ‘Kaaba’ Like Structure Called ‘Al Mukab’ in Riyadh

New Age Islam News Bureau

28 February 2023


The Mukaab’, which translates to cube, a mammoth 400 metre long, wide and deep structure in the Saudi capital Riyadh (New Murabba Development Company)


• US: Prominent Christian Priest Hilarion Heagy, Formerly a Russian Orthodox Monk, Converts To Islam

• Afghan Refugees Protest in Islamabad against UNHCR’s Failure to Review Their Cases

• UK-Based Palestine Advocacy Urged Muslims to Avoid 'Taste of Apartheid' This Ramadan and Boycott Israeli Dates

• Imran Asks Scholars to Play Role to Make Pakistan Truly Welfare State


Arab World

• Arab-Syria Rapprochement Positive Step Toward Islamic Solidarity: Tehran

• Saudi Human Rights Body Hosts Talk on Religious Moderation, Coexistence

• Islamic State Land Mines Kill 10 Workers, Injure 12 Others in Central Syria

• Syria landmine blast kills nine civilians: State media

• Egypt’s foreign minister oversees aid delivery to Turkey after Syria visit

• Lebanon security chief’s term to end after authorities skip on renewal

• Egypt’s FM visits Damascus for first time in more than a decade, meets with Assad


North America

• Canada targets IRGC, law enforcement officials in fresh Iran sanctions

• US House passes resolution mourning deaths in Türkiye, Syria earthquakes, slamming Assad

• After 45 years of closure, Argentina reopens embassy in Bangladesh

• US announces $444M in new humanitarian assistance for Yemen


South Asia

• Pakistan Threatens Afghanistan with War Even As Taliban Refuses To Act against TTP Bases

• Top Islamic State commanders killed by Taliban forces in Afghanistan

• Afghan businessmen in UAE willing to invest in Afghanistan

• Afghan national with expired visa held in Gurugram, says he fears Taliban

• Sri Lanka hopes for stronger relations with Saudi Arabia



• France condemns ‘unacceptable’ Israeli settlers’ attack on Palestinian civilians

• Bosnia's high representative suspends controversial immovable property law

• Belgian minister hails 'very useful' work of field hospital in quake-hit Türkiye



• Meagre Progress Made By Pakistan in Dismantling Terrorist Organisations: US Bureau of Counterterrorism

• Defaulting Pakistan takes the steam out of CPEC

• Two soldiers, one child martyred in North, South Waziristan attacks

• Partial strike observed in Sindh on TLP’s call

• Hazara PTI workers swear oath to court arrest

• TTP have Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police in their crosshairs



• Prime Minister Speaks about Pasmanda Muslims to Reach Out To the Poorest

• Jammu & Kashmir: Muslim Neighbours Help with Kashmiri Pandit’s Funeral

• Karnataka BJP MLA Invokes Tipu, Compares Muslims to 18th Century Ruler

• BJP and the PDP: United in Grief over Kashmiri Pandit’s Killing

• Terrorist killed in encounter in J&K's Pulwama

• Killing by cow vigilante: DNA reports match two Muslim men burnt to death

• Muslim quota 'reduced': Congress demands inquiry


Southeast Asia

• Umno Ulama Council to Focus on Elevating Dignity of Muslims not for Political Alliances

• September trial for Dr M’s ‘Kutty’ defamation suit against Zahid

• Santiago’s remarks about Naik caused racial tension, says preacher



• Israel Should Be Made Accountable For ‘Crimes’ In Palestine: OIC Chief

• Israel Sees ‘Difficult Days Ahead’ After West Bank Attacks, Riot

• Palestine PM: Israel responsible for settler crimes in Nablus

• Iranian FM: US Ready for Resumption of JCPOA Revival Talks

• Human Rights Chief: Iran Seeking to Put Ex-Chief Torturer on Trial

• Damaged buildings collapse after fresh quake in eastern Turkiye

• Top Commander Underlines IRGC's Readiness to Train Iraqi Armed Forces

• President Rayeesi Calls on Iraq Not to Turn into Platform for Terrorist Attacks on Iran

• Israeli-American motorist killed in West Bank after settlers rampage against Palestinians



• Muslim Rights Concern: Think More of Nigeria – Islamic Group Tells Politicians

• UN Libya envoy to launch new effort to break stalemate

• Nigeria's opposition Labour Party wins Lagos stronghold of ruling party

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



 Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Building a ‘Kaaba’ Like Structure Called ‘Al Mukab’ in Riyadh


The Mukaab’, which translates to cube, a mammoth 400 metre long, wide and deep structure in the Saudi capital Riyadh (New Murabba Development Company)


Syed Ali Mujtaba

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has recently announced the new Murabba project called as ‘Al Mukab’ which plans to build a gigantic ‘New Kaaba’ in the middle of a new city center being developed in the capital Riyadh.

It will be a mammoth 400-meter-long, wide and deep structure made up of overlapping triangular forms, in an architectural style inspired by the Najd architectural style- in reference to the central Arabian ancestral homeland of the ruling Al-Saud dynasty.

Mohammad bin Salman's "new Kaaba," will feature a museum, a tech and Design University, a multipurpose theatre and an immersive theatre, and more than 80 entertainment venues.

The building of the 'new Kaaba' in Riyadh has drawn flake from different quarters. Some say this project is a new 'Kaaba' of entertainment. Another quip, the Kaaba in Makkah is being shifted to the Kaaba in Riyadh which means the Kaaba devoted to Islam is being shifted to another Kaaba that’s devoted to capitalism.

Prince Salman’s new plans follow the futuristic smart city project NEOM, which will include a 170-kilometer-long mega city.

The $500 billion development has courted controversy over its lavish cost, its impact on the environment, its feasibility, and alleged human rights abuses, including forced displacement of tribes, etc.

The crown prince has promised in 2017 that he will bring back a moderate version of Islam that existed before 1979, where Muslims and people of other faiths co-existed peacefully without a sense of supremacy and dominance.

Written by:

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai.


US: Prominent Christian Priest Hilarion Heagy, Formerly a Russian Orthodox Monk, Converts To Islam


Christian Priest Hilarion Heagy,


Sakina Fatima

27th February 2023

A prominent Christian priest Hilarion Heagy, based in California, United States, converted to Islam and changed his name to Said Abdul Latif.

Hilarion Heagy, an American priest who was formerly a Russian Orthodox monk, and was highly respected among his followers.

He joined the Antiochian Orthodox Church around 2003, before leaving in 2007 and converting to the Catholic Church of the East. He graduated from the Convent of the Holy Resurrection in St Nazianz, Wisconsin to become a Byzantine Catholic priest and recently announced plans to establish an Eastern Christian monastery in California.

Hilarion Heagy announced in a blog post about his journey to Islam, expressed his decision as a ‘reversion to Islam’ and that it was ‘like coming home’.

“After decades of feeling drawn to Islam in varying degrees, I had finally decided to take the plunge. It really does feel like “coming home.” my first-born belief. Since before we were even born, we worshipped God alone and submitted to him, according to the Qur’an,” he wrote in a blog post.

According to him, he had felt the spark of Islam since 20 years ago, but he stated that he truly accepted Islam when he announced it.

“One simply can’t be a priest and monk publicly, and a Muslim privately.”

Abdul Latif said of his conversion that it was “the return to the East” and the return to his “primitive identity”, offering an explanation by quoting the Holy Quran.

“It is for this reason that converts to Islam often do not speak so much of ‘conversion’ as they speak of a ‘reversion’ to Islamour primordial faith. A long process of Returning, he adds.

“The future is uncertain for me. There are always fears when you take a leap in the dark. And yet, I feel such a peace. A joy. A relief. My pull towards Islam over twenty years has finally led me home. Now begins the work of entering deeper into the faith. A deeper learning. A love for the Deen. A love for the Ummah. A love for the Prophet ,” he added.

Source: Siasat Daily

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Afghan Refugees Protest in Islamabad against UNHCR’s Failure to Review their Cases


Photo: The Khaama Press


By Nizamuddin Rezahi

February 27, 2023

Scores of Afghan refugees have protested in Islamabad for over three weeks against UNHCR’s failure to review their immigration cases, local sources reported.

Dozens of Afghan migrants in Islamabad on Monday said they have protested for more than three weeks in front of the Society for Human Rights and Prisoners’ Aid (SHARP) Office, however, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has not paid attention to the living conditions of migrants in this country so far.

The protestors claim that UNHCR Pakistan has failed to review their immigration cases, as they have not heard back from the UN refugee agency since they sought asylum.

“They have been waiting for months with their families and children, with the current high price of living in Islamabad. It is very difficult to get a house,” said a protestor.

“As of now, we have been given a token, which is a piece of paper. It has no legal privileges and we have not received any human and humanitarian privileges,” a protesting asylum seeker said.

The society for Human Rights and Prisoners’ Aid (SHARP) Office operates to facilitate the registration process of migrants in Pakistan under the umbrella of UNHCR.

Since the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021, thousands of Afghans fearing their safety and that of their families moved to neighboring countries inkling Iran and Pakistan.

Some Afghan migrants registered asylum requests with the western countries’ embassies and the United Nations office in Pakistan, others entered the country through illegal channels.

These Afghan migrants are now facing serious issues in crisis-hit Pakistan. The growing inflation, high price of living, and worst of all, the uncertainty have overwhelmed them to a great extent.

Source: Khaama Press

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UK-Based Palestine Advocacy Urged Muslims to Avoid 'Taste of Apartheid' This Ramadan and Boycott Israeli Dates


Israel is the largest exporter of Medjoul dates to Europe [Getty]


27 February, 2023

A UK-based Palestine advocacy group has urged Muslims in Europe to boycott Israeli dates as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan approaches.

Friends of Al-Aqsa (FoA) launched its annual #CheckThe Label campaign last week, amid ongoing Israeli raids in the occupied Palestinian territories.

"By choosing not to buy Israeli dates this Ramadan the Muslim community can send a clear and powerful message of condemnation of Israel’s illegal occupation and apartheid in Palestine," said Shamiul Joarder at FoA.

Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, sees a spike in date consumption in Europe due to Muslims breaking their fast at sunset with the fruit, in accordance with Islamic traditions.

Each year, Europe sees two spikes in date consumption - during Ramadan and in winter, coinciding with Christmas, according to the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI).

Israel is the world's largest producer of Medjoul dates and exports more than 50 percent of its produce to Europe, according to FoA. A large portion of these dates are grown on illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

"It's time to renew our commitment to BDS this Ramadan. We must remember that as a community we are powerful – we can make our voices heard through the simple act of putting Israeli dates back on the shelf. All we need to do is #CheckTheLabel and not buy dates from apartheid Israel," Joarder said.

The campaign's launch comes as the occupied West Bank witnesses one of its bloodiest episodes in recent memory, with Israeli forces and settlers having killed at least 62 Palestinian adults and children.

FoA has marked 17 March - the last Friday before Ramadan - as a day of action to encourage Muslims to check labels on date packaging to ensure they are not from Israel.

Source: The New Arab

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Imran Asks Scholars to Play Role To Make Pakistan Truly Welfare State


Condemns arrest of Gen Amjad Shoaib, urges Pakistanis to stand up to save Pakistan from abyss


February 27, 2023

LAHORE: Renowned religious scholar Allama Shahanshah Naqvi called on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan here on Monday. PTI Central Information Secretary Farrukh Habib was also present in the meeting.

Speaking on the occasion, PTI Chairman said that scholars should perform the duty of promoting and protecting values in the society.

He said that people of Pakistan were the trustees of an unparalleled cultural and religious heritage, adding that as the Ummah of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), we have eternal resources of guidance in the form of the Holy Book and the Sunnah.

Imran Khan said that Deen-e-Mubeen provided them rich guidance ranging from society, politics and society to economy, vowing that they would continue to work hard to build Pakistan on the lines of the state of Medina with the help of Allah Almighty. He said that the scholars should come forward to guide the nation to make Pakistan a truly welfare state.

Allama Shahanshah Naqvi applauded PTI Chairman for his role in presenting the case of Islamophobia at the global level in befitting manner. He also appreciated the key philosophy and goal of transforming Pakistan into a modern welfare state in the light of the golden principles of the State of Medina.

Separately, PTI Chairman strongly condemned the arrest of Lt-Gen. (retd) Amjad Shoaib and added that it showed that democracy and freedom being totally destroyed in Pakistan to save regime change conspiracy’s fascist order of cabal of crooks propped by handlers. “It is time for every Pakistani to stand up for Haqeeqi Azadi and save Pakistan from the abyss,” he added.

Source: Pakistan Today

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 Arab World

 Arab-Syria Rapprochement Positive Step Toward Islamic Solidarity: Tehran

28 February 2023

Tehran says a recent visit by Arab parliament speakers and senior legislators to Syria is a positive step toward Islamic solidarity, emphasizing that dialogue and regional approaches can solve the woes in the region.

“The recent progress in relations between Arab countries and Syria, including the visit by Arab parliamentary delegations to Damascus to express solidarity with Syria following the recent devastating earthquake, in addition to being a realistic approach, is a positive step toward Islamic solidarity,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan’ani tweeted on Tuesday.

He added that regional countries will be able to resolve their problems through “dialogue and regional mechanisms” if they act realistically, adopt an independent national stance, and pay no heed to the demands of the hegemonic powers.

The high-profile Arab lawmakers arrived in Damascus on Sunday amid attempts by certain countries, above all Iraq, to restore Syria’s membership in the Arab League, more than a decade after it was suspended from the 22-member bloc.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry also arrived in Damascus on Monday in the first such visit by a top Egyptian diplomat since the foreign-sponsored militancy erupted in Syria more than a decade ago.

In a meeting with President Assad, the top Egyptian diplomat reaffirmed his country's solidarity with Syria and its preparedness to continue supporting Syrians in the aftermath of the devastating February earthquake.

In a meeting with the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union later on Sunday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said, “The delegation’s visit to Syria today means a lot to the Syrian people as it indicates the support to the Syrians ... who are exposed as a result of the terrorist war and the repercussions of the earthquake.”

Source: Press TV

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Saudi Human Rights Body Hosts Talk on Religious Moderation, Coexistence

February 27, 2023

RIYADH: The Saudi National Society for Human Rights on Monday hosted a meeting on religious moderation and coexistence led by Sheikh Saad bin Nasser Al-Shathri, adviser to the Royal Court and member of the Council of Senior Scholars.

The meeting, which came as part of the society’s cultural program, aimed to promote the respect of differences in others, as well the upholding of knowledge and awareness as two critical pillars for the protection of human rights.

Source: Arab News

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Islamic State land mines kill 10 workers, injure 12 others in central Syria

February 27, 2023

Land mines left behind by the Islamic State group in central Syria went off in two different locations on Monday, killing 10 workers as they were collecting truffles in the countryside and wounding 12, state media reported.

According to Syria's state news agency SANA, the two mines exploded east of the central town of Salamiyeh. All the casualties were taken to a hospital in the town, the report added. It wasn't immediately clear what had triggered the explosions.

It is not uncommon for mines left behind years ago, when IS controlled large parts of Syria, to go off inadvertently, usually when stepped on, inflicting casualties.

IS was driven out of all the territory it once held in Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2019, but the extremists left behind countless bombs and booby traps, and large areas have yet to be cleared. The militant group’s sleeper cells still carry deadly attacks both in Syria and Iraq.

SANA said the first explosion on Monday killed nine people and wounded two while the second killed one person and wounded 10.

Earlier this month, IS sleeper cells attacked workers collecting truffles near the central town of Sukhna, killing at least 53 people, mostly workers but also some Syrian government security forces.

Source: Fox News

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Syria landmine blast kills nine civilians: State media

27 February ,2023

Nine Syrian civilians were killed Monday when a landmine planted by extremists exploded, state media said, in the latest tragedy to have hit truffle-hunters in the war-torn country.

“Nine citizens were killed and two others injured... in the eastern countryside of al-Salamiyah,” in the central province of Hama, when a landmine left behind by ISIS militants blew up under their car, the official SANA news agency said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said the victims had been hunting in the desert for truffles, a delicacy that can be sold at exorbitant prices.

On February 18, at least 68 people picking truffles in a desert of neighboring Homs province were killed in a suspected ISIS attack, said the Observatory, which has a wide network of sources inside Syria.

The Britain-based monitor said ISIS was taking advantage of the annual harvest of the desert fungus, which is in season from February to April, to carry out attacks in remote locations.

Truffle digging has seen many people, including women and children, lose their lives in the country’s central, northeastern, and eastern regions in recent years.

Explosives left in fields, along roads or even in buildings by all sides in Syria’s 12-year conflict have wounded killed hundreds of civilians and wounded thousands more, according to the Observatory.

Across Syria, more than 10 million people live in areas contaminated by explosive hazards, the United Nations has said.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Egypt’s foreign minister oversees aid delivery to Turkey after Syria visit

27 February ,2023

Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu oversaw the delivery of the sixth shipment of aid provided by Egypt to Ankara, during the Egyptian minister’s visit to the earthquake-hit country.

Shoukry arrived at the Turkish port of Mersin with Cavusoglu, where the two welcomed the latest relief packages sent by Egypt to the victims of the devastating quake that hit the country earlier this month.

Turkey and Egypt will continue to work together to improve relations between their two countries, Turkish foreign minister Cavusoglu said on Monday during a joint conference with his Egyptian counterpart.

“Our visit (to Turkey) is a message of friendship and solidarity,” Shoukry told journalists alongside his Turkish counterpart Cavusoglu, behind an aid ship docked at Mersin’s port.

“We, as the Egyptian government and the Egyptian people, wholeheartedly believe that Turkey will overcome this as soon as possible. It is a great disaster,” he said in remarks translated from Arabic.

“We will continue to do our best to help,” he said.

Shoukry’s visit to Turkey comes after the foreign minister traveled to Damascus for the first time in nearly a decade.

Egypt’s foreign minister arrived in Damascus on Monday, the first visit by an Egyptian foreign minister to Syria since its civil war began in 2011 and another sign of warming ties between President Bashar al-Assad and Arab states that once shunned him.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Lebanon security chief’s term to end after authorities skip on renewal

February 28, 2023

BEIRUT: The term of Lebanon’s powerful General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim is set to end this week as neither cabinet nor parliament have discussed a measure that would allow him to stay on after reaching the legal retirement age.

Ibrahim, who hails from southern Lebanon, has headed the General Security directorate since 2011 and is considered a key regional interlocutor who has good ties with the Iran-backed group Hezbollah and links with Western governments.

On Thursday, he will turn 64, which is the legal retirement age in Lebanon. Lebanese authorities have in the past issued exceptional exemptions for top officials to stay on past 64 if a vacuum in their post is seen as risking instability.

But Lebanon’s caretaker cabinet did not discuss an extension at its meeting on Monday. Information Minister Ziad Makary told reporters after the meeting that cabinet “can do nothing” and that the decision was to be taken by the interior minister.

Caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Al-Mawlawi, whose ministry manages General Security and some other security forces, did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Lebanon’s caretaker premier Najib Mikati said in an interview last week that the issue should be dealt with by parliament as it involved legal amendments. Parliament has not met and no session is scheduled before Ibrahim is set to retire.

A source close to Hezbollah told Reuters that the group had tried to “throw its full weight” behind a parliament session to extend Ibrahim’s term but was unable to secure enough support.

Mawlawi is expected to name an acting chief once Ibrahim’s term ends. Lebanon is already in an unprecedented constitutional crisis — with the presidency vacant and cabinet acting in a caretaker capacity since last year’s parliamentary elections.

Ibrahim is seen as close to Hezbollah and authorities in neighboring Syria, but he has also regularly traveled to Washington and Paris to meet top officials there.

As a result, he has been seen as an important interlocutor, involved in cases from the missing US reporter Austin Tice to US-mediated talks between Lebanon and Israel on their maritime border, which was delineated last year.

Source: Arab News

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Egypt’s FM visits Damascus for first time in more than a decade, meets with Assad

27 February 2023

Egypt’s foreign minister has arrived in Damascus in the first such visit by a top Egyptian diplomat since the foreign-sponsored militancy started in Syria more than a decade ago.

Sameh Shoukry met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the presidential palace on Monday, reaffirming his country's solidarity with Syria and its preparedness to continue supporting Syrians in the aftermath of the devastating February 6 earthquake, Syria’s official news agency SANA reported.

He also conveyed Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s greetings to the Syrian leader, and called for further development of long-established and friendly relations between the two countries

Shoukry described relations between Cairo and Damascus as essential for protection of the Arab world against potential threats and challenges, stressing that Egypt will always support any initiative that could help Syria and would serve the interests of all Syrians.

Assad, for his part, underlined the historical significance of Syrian-Egyptian relations, emphasizing that promotion of diplomatic ties among Arab countries will actually improve living standards of Arabs.

He also appreciated Egypt’s warm welcome of Syrian refugees following the outbreak of the foreign-backed crisis in his country, stating that such a behavior attests to the strong ties that already exist between the two nations.

“The goal of the visit is primarily humanitarian, and to pass on our solidarity – from the leadership, the government and the people of Egypt to the people of Syria,” Sameh Shoukry told reporters upon arrival in Damascus.

Egypt was looking forward to providing more quake assistance “in full coordination with the Syrian government,” after already having donated some 1,500 tons so far, Shoukry added, standing alongside his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad.

“When the foreign minister of Egypt comes to Damascus, he comes to his home, his people, and his country,” Mekdad said.

The development comes only a day after several Arab parliament speakers and high-level legislators arrived in Damascus to restore Syria's membership in the Arab League, which was suspended nearly 12 years ago due to the country's foreign-sponsored conflict.

The lawmakers were received by Syria's Speaker of the People's Assembly Hammouda Sabbagh, who stated that Syria's return to the Arab diplomatic fold is crucial for any joint Arab action to confront current challenges and crises.

Calls for Syria's return to the Arab League have grown stronger after the devastating earthquake that hit the country earlier this month.

Iraqi Council of Representatives Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi on Saturday urged all Arab countries to adopt a final decision on Syria's return to the Arab diplomatic fold, while Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Ayman Safadi stressed the importance of Syria's return to the Arab League to act as an active and effective member in decision-making.

Last week, Syria's President Bashar al-Assad visited Oman and met with Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said.

Source: Press TV

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North America

Canada targets IRGC, law enforcement officials in fresh Iran sanctions

27 February ,2023

The Canadian government on Monday said it was imposing sanctions on 12 senior officials from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) for their participation in “gross and systematic human rights violations.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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US House passes resolution mourning deaths in Türkiye, Syria earthquakes, slamming Assad

Servet Günerigök 



The US House of Representatives passed a resolution Monday mourning the loss of the life in the earthquakes that hit Türkiye and Syria and condemning Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime for blocking UN aid through its border.

The resolution, which cleared the House floor in a 412-2 vote, also expressed its deep condolences to the families of the many earthquake victims and applauded the work of humanitarian aid and rescue workers on the ground.

Those who voted against the resolution were Republican Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Thomas Massie.

Introduced by Republican Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, it "condemns the efforts by the Assad regime of Syria to exploit the disaster to evade international pressure and accountability."

"American families offer sincere sympathies to the families who are mourning loved ones and nursing others back to health," said Wilson ahead of the voting.

"The Republic of Türkiye for over 70 years has been a valued NATO ally, and as co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on US-Türkiye relations and Turkish Americans, I'm particularly supportive of their efforts to meet the needs of the impacted earthquake victims," he added.

Wilson also called for the UN not to politicize humanitarian assistance bound for Syria and to circumvent the obstructions of Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"It is significant that this resolution calls on President (Joe) Biden to use all diplomatic means to push the UN to get aid to those in need," he added.

Rep. Bill Keating, a Democrat, noted that the resolution sends a strong message of solidarity to the peoples of Türkiye and Syria from the US and pledged support for quake-affected victims.

The devastating Feb. 6 twin earthquakes have claimed more than 44,300 lives in Türkiye’s southern region.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 quakes, centered in Kahramanmaras province, have impacted some 13 million people across 11 provinces, including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, Elazig and Sanliurfa.

Over 10,200 aftershocks have been reported, including a 5.6 magnitude earthquake that jolted Malatya on Monday, killing at least one person and injuring 110 others.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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After 45 years of closure, Argentina reopens embassy in Bangladesh

Md. Kamruzzaman 


Argentina on Monday reopened its embassy in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka after 45 years of closure.

Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Andres Cafiero inaugurated the new embassy in the upscale area of Banani, where Bangladesh’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md. Shahriar Alam and other diplomats and officials were also present.

“This is the stepping stone to strengthen bilateral relations between the two nations, not only diplomatically but also culturally,” the Cafiero said.

The Argentine Embassy in Dhaka was closed in 1978 by the military junta that ruled the Latin American nation at the time.

Alam, for his part, said that with the opening of the embassy, bilateral trade and investment between the two countries would be increased.

According to a report published by the state-run Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha news agency, the bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Argentina was $765 million in 2022.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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US announces $444M in new humanitarian assistance for Yemen

Michael Hernandez 



The US announced a new $444 million tranche of humanitarian assistance for war and famine-ravaged Yemen on Monday while stressing that "much more is needed" to help those in need.

The announcement comes as the UN hosts a pledge conference in Geneva to appeal for $4.3 billion from the international community to address the country's dire woes.

Over 2 million children are "facing deadly malnutrition" amid a UN budget shortfall that forced the global body "to scale back or cut over half of its life-saving programs, including emergency food assistance," said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

"More than eight years of conflict have pushed Yemen’s economy and institutions to the brink. Families have been left unable to buy basic goods, provide for their children, or access healthcare. The United States continues our efforts to help stabilize Yemen’s economy and restore basic services and livelihoods," he said in a statement.

"Despite the dire humanitarian conditions, there is a glimmer of hope as Yemen is experiencing the best opportunities for peace in years. Building on the momentum from the UN-mediated truce, the parties now have the chance to end this war. The international community must do everything we can to help," he added.

Yemen has been engulfed by violence and instability since 2014, when Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels captured much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa.

More than 21 million people – two in three Yemeni children, women, and men – are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the donor conference in Geneva.

“Humanitarian needs continue to soar while access is constrained, and funding perennially falls short," said Guterres.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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South Asia


Pakistan threatens Afghanistan with war even as Taliban refuses to act against TTP bases

Ajeyo Basu

February 27, 2023

Kabul: Pakistan has warned of military action inside Afghanistan if the Afghan Taliban continues to provide support to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

However, the Afghan Taliban has denied the presence of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) bases inside Afghanistan.

According to reports in the Pakistani media, a delegation from Pakistan led by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif delivered this message during a meeting in Kabul with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the acting deputy prime minister of Afghanistan.

Asif was accompanied by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lieutenant General Nadeem Ahmed Anjum and other senior officials from the defence and foreign ministries of Pakistan.

Pakistan threatens Afghan Taliban

“Our delegation delivered a very loud and clear message to Afghan Taliban leadership to stop Afghanistan-based militants of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) from launching any spring offensive inside Pakistan and eliminate them from Afghan soil,” a Pakistani official was quoted as saying by Turkey’s Anadolu news agency.

“In case of failure to stop the TTP from cross-border attacks and does not take any action to eliminate them or expel them from their hideouts, then Pakistan has no other choice except to target their hideouts in border areas inside Afghanistan,” he added.

“We showed them proof of how TTP planned and carried out recent attacks in Bannu and Peshawar from Afghanistan and warned them that any further attack would result in a tough response from Pakistan. We have no other option but to target militants’ hideouts in border areas inside Afghanistan. We have delivered this message to them.”

Afghan Taliban raises concerns with Pakistan

Afghanistan’s acting Defence Minister Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob also expressed the Afghan Taliban’s concerns with the visiting Pakistani delegation and accused Pakistan of helping the United States (US) carry out a drone attack that killed then al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul last year.

The Afghan Taliban has alleged that the US launched the drone strike using Pakistani airspace. However, Pakistan has rejected the Afghan Taliban’s allegations and has claimed that the US has not been allowed to use Pakistan’s airspace against Afghanistan.

Source: Firstpost

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Top Islamic State Commanders Killed By Taliban Forces in Afghanistan

Feb 28, 2023

The Taliban government in Afghanistan said its security forces killed two key Islamic State commanders during a counter-Terrorism raid in capital Kabul a few days ago.

One of the slain terrorists was Qari Fateh, touted as the intelligence chief and a former minister of war of the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP), said Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid. The ISKP is an Afghan affiliate of Islamic State and a key Taliban adversary.

Mujahid said Qari Fateh was reportedly the main tactician for the ISKP, and was responsible for planning several attacks, including those against Russian, Pakistani, and Chinese diplomatic missions in Kabul.

In the statement, Mujahid also confirmed the killing of Ejaz Ahmad Ahangar, the so-called first Emir of Islamic State Hind Province (ISHP) and a senior leader of the ISKP in southern Afghanistan, along with two affiliates.

Also known as Abu Usman Al-Kashmiri, Ahangar was designated as a terrorist by the Indian government in January this year. Born in Srinagar, he was wanted in Jammu and Kashmir for over two decades for alleged involvement in terror-related activities.

Source: India Today

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Afghan businessmen in UAE willing to invest in Afghanistan

By Fidel Rahmati

February 27, 2023

The Afghan Business Council in the United Arab Emirates urged Afghanistan’s de facto government to provide opportunities for Afghan business people to invest in their country.

The head of the council in the United Arab Emirates, Haji Obaidullah Sadr Khil, said in a conversation with Khaama Press that 80 per cent of the business people in the UAE have business across more than 50 countries.

Sadr Khil added that Afghan business people had invested more than $10 billion in the United Arab Emirates and are willing to invest in the country if the caretaker government provides the opportunity for them.

“The caretaker government should provide opportunities for investors to invest in the country, which will create jobs and provide employment to the people,” he said.

Afghanistan’s current administration claims that foreign and Afghan investors will be provided with all kind of facilities and opportunities to invest in the country.

Abdulsalam Jawad Akhundzada, a spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Trade, says that investors who want to invest in Afghanistan on a large scale will provide the opportunity to invest in economic zones, and they will be provided with a license, cooperate with the payment of land and transferring of the raw materials.

However, economic analysts believe large-scale investments are supposedly feasible if political stability and security are restored.

Abdul Nasir Reshtia says that the interim government should increase its international interaction for economic growth and investment in the country.

He also said that the essential elements for investing in the country are protecting the investors, their property and a corruption-free environment.

“Safety of investors, their property, and the rule of law and prevention of corruption are the main elements for encouraging investors to invest in the country.”

However, since the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban in August 2021, most of the investors have left the country and withdrawn their investments from Afghanistan.

Source: Khaama Press

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Afghan national with expired visa held in Gurugram, says he fears Taliban

Feb 28, 2023

An Afghan national was arrested on Sunday night for allegedly carrying an expired visa after he was found roaming suspiciously on a service road in Sector 51, police said on Monday, adding he allegedly avoided returning to his country out of fear after Taliban took over the control. He was identified as Rahullah Jabari (33) from Kabul.

Investigators said he was stopped by a police team which spotted him while patrolling and asked about his details. The team questioned Jabari but he tried to mislead them by identifying himself as an Uzbek national.

Police said Jabari was detained and later quizzed, after which he revealed his real identity. This was also established from his travel documents later. Inspector Sandeep Kumar, station house officer of Sector 50 police station, said the suspect had a valid passport but his visa had expired on May 10, 2020, when the first Covid-19 lockdown was in place.

Jabari arrived in India on a tourist visa. After his visa expired, the lockdown relaxed and international flights resumed, he had tried to return to Afghanistan and had contacted the embassy officials too. However, by the time he could take any action, the Taliban took over Afghanistan and out of fear, he decided to continue staying in India. Investigators said he was working with a man in Delhi dealing in rice supply to earn his livelihood. “He used to come to Gurugram to meet a friend to play snooker at least thrice a week. It was during one such visit that we spotted him,” said a police officer privy to the case.

“His visa was issued on November 11, 2019. He was presently staying in Mahipalpur, Delhi,” SHO Kumar said.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Sri Lanka hopes for stronger relations with Saudi Arabia


February 27, 2023

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka was expecting its long-standing ties with Saudi Arabia to grow stronger, Foreign Minister Ali Sabry said on Monday, after meeting with a delegation from the Saudi Fund for Development.

Sabry hosted the Saudi delegation led by Mohammed Almasoud, the SFD’s director of central and west Asia operations, in the capital Colombo and said Sri Lanka was grateful for the fund’s “continuous assistance despite challenges” as well its support on an extension of an International Monetary Fund loan.

“The longstanding Sri Lanka-Saudi bilateral relationship will grow from strength to strength,” Sabry said in a tweet.

The minister visited the Kingdom last month, discussing with his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan ways to boost economic and energy cooperation between the two countries.

Sabry had then presented Sri Lanka as a gateway to not only south Asia but the rest of the continent – an “ideal place” to do business. His trip followed a series of high-level engagements by Sri Lankan officials with the Kingdom last year.

During Monday’s meeting, the Saudi government pledged to continue providing financial assistance for projects in Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan lawmaker Mohamed Shariff Thowfeek said after taking part in the talks.

“This was a great gesture from the Saudi government at a time when some countries have stopped their aid in the midst of the economic crisis,” Thowfeek told Arab News.

The SFD has given at least 15 development loans worth $425 million to Sri Lanka, which have financed various projects in water, energy, health, roads, and education. This has included support for the development of the PBC Highway, which connects the country’s central and eastern provinces.

Thowfeek said the SFD would also help finance construction of a bridge in eastern Sri Lanka, which cost around $5.4 million.

The island nation of 22 million people is facing its worst financial crisis since independence from Britain in 1948, with challenges ranging from a shortage of dollars to runaway inflation and a steep recession.

Source: Arab News

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France condemns ‘unacceptable’ Israeli settlers’ attack on Palestinian civilians

27 February ,2023

France on Monday condemned an attack by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank, saying “violence against Palestinian civilians is unacceptable.”

France “strongly condemns” the attack targeting a town where two Israeli brothers were killed, the foreign ministry said in a statement, adding that there was a risk that the situation in the West Bank could “deteriorate out of control.”

France was calling on all parties “to avoid fueling the violence, and to contribute to de-escalation,” the statement said.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Bosnia's high representative suspends controversial immovable property law

Mustafa Talha Öztürk 


The High Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina announced Monday that he had suspended a controversial immovable property law in the Republika Srpska (RS) entity, a day before it was expected to come into force.

Following an extraordinary meeting of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC), Christian Schmidt used his “Bonn Powers” to suspend the RS Law on Immovable Property Used for Functioning of Public Authority, which had been voted on in the National Assembly of the Republika Srpska (NSRS) in December despite a decision by the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina that immovable properties belong to the state, not the entity.

According to the statement, Schmidt suspended the law until the final decision of the Constitutional Court in order to protect state property.

The Office of the High Representative was established with the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia Herzegovina. It oversees the implementation of the peace agreement on behalf of the international community. The high representative also coordinates the activities of international institutions operating in the country.

The high representative has the authority to dismiss anyone who interferes with the implementation of peace in the country, including members of the Presidential Council, and to pass laws as necessary. The powers are dubbed "Bonn powers."

Arguing that the immovable properties belong to the entities according to the Dayton Peace Treaty, which ended the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, RS said the administration of the properties is also theirs under the said law.

While the unconstitutional law on immovable properties was expected to enter into force on Feb. 28, the public institutions used by the RS under the law are claimed to be "part" of them.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Belgian minister hails 'very useful' work of field hospital in quake-hit Türkiye

Selen Temizer 



A field hospital set up by Belgium in Türkiye’s quake-hit Hatay province has proven to be “very useful,” according to Belgian Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke.

He said more than 1,500 patients have been treated so far at the facility in Hatay’s Kirikhan district.

“We are very satisfied about the deployment of this field hospital,” Vandenbroucke told Anadolu.

“Our staff has seen more than 1,500 patients who needed help, so I think it’s been very useful to be there.”

He said this was the first time Belgium “has deployed such a large field hospital.”

“It was not an easy exercise … We have never done that before, so it was a bit of a learning process,” he said, while lauding the team’s cooperation with Turkish authorities.

The field hospital was the best way for Belgium to support Türkiye, Vandenbroucke emphasized.

“Solidarity means you show the best you can show. We have a good healthcare system … so sending a hospital was maybe the best thing we could do,” he said.

The minister said there was no clear timeline for how long the Belgian field hospital would be operational in Hatay, which has been one of the areas hit hardest in the Feb. 6 twin tremors.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 temblors were centered in Kahramanmaras and rocked 10 other provinces – Hatay, Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Malatya, Adana, Diyarbakir, Kilis, Osmaniye, Sanliurfa, and Elazig.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Meagre Progress Made By Pakistan in Dismantling Terrorist Organisations: US Bureau of Counterterrorism

Feb 28, 2023

WASHINGTON: Pakistan has made meager progress in its pledge to dismantle all terrorist organisations without delay or discrimination. The country experienced significant terrorist activity in 2021. The number of attacks and casualties was higher than in 2020, according to the US Bureau of Counterterrorism's 'Country Reports on Terrorism 2021: Pakistan'.

Major terrorist groups that focused on conducting attacks in Pakistan included Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), and ISIS-K, the US Bureau of Counterterrorism's report said.

"Pakistan reviewed and revised its 2015 National Action Plan (NAP) to counter terrorism, reducing the NAP from a 20-point plan to 14 key points, but made meager progress on the most difficult aspects -- specifically its pledge to dismantle all terrorist organizations without delay or discrimination," the report read.

Terrorist attacks were conducted against varied targets in Pakistan's Balochistan and Sindh provinces by separatist militant groups. The terrorists used a range of tactics to attack varied targets, including IEDs, VBIEDs, suicide bombings, and targeted assassinations.

Pakistan was in 2018, designated a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. It was redesignated as a CPC in 2019, 2020, and 2021.

In 2018, FATF identified Pakistan as a jurisdiction with strategic deficiencies in its AML/CFT system. Pakistan remained on the FATF grey list in 2021.

In 2021, members of religious minorities in Pakistan faced significant threats from terrorist groups. On January 3, ISIS-K militants claimed responsibility for the murders of 11 Shia Hazara coalminers in the Kachi district of Balochistan. On April 21, five persons were killed in a VBIED suicide attack in the parking lot of the Serena hotel in Quetta, Balochistan. According to details of the investigation, the attack targeted local and foreign officials. TTP claimed responsibility for the attack, also claiming the targets were police and law enforcement, according to the Bureau of Counterterrorism's report on terrorism in Pakistan.

A prominent journalist in Pakistan was on October 10, 2021, killed in an explosion in Hub, Balochistan. According to law enforcement, the bomb was attached to his vehicle. The BLA claimed responsibility for the attack.

On December 30, attackers ambushed security officials in North Waziristan. Four security personnel were killed in the ensuing exchange of fire. TTP claimed responsibility for the attack.

As per the 'Country Reports on Terrorism 2021: Pakistan', the Pakistani government continued to implement the Antiterrorism Act of 1997, the National Counterterrorism Authority Act, the 2014 Investigation for Fair Trial Act, and major 2014 and 2020 amendments to the Antiterrorism Act, all of which give law enforcement, prosecutors, and courts enhanced powers in terrorism cases.

Military, paramilitary, and civilian security forces conducted CT operations throughout Pakistan against anti-state militants. Pakistani law allows for preventive detention, permits the death penalty for terrorism offences, and creates specialized courts to try terrorism cases, as per the official report.

The extremist doctrine was being taught by some madrassas in Pakistan.

Source: Times Of India

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Defaulting Pakistan takes the steam out of CPEC

Feb 28, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project that was commenced a decade ago was held as a harbinger of prosperity for Pakistan. However, seven years later, many projects under the CPEC still remain non-starters while some of those being operational have become liabilities and are incurring losses.

China's ambitious CPEC project launched in 2013 was flawed from the beginning when it was assumed that it would be able to generate jobs and growth in Pakistan.

While China had its own agenda of resolving its energy needs through the CPEC project by bypassing the existing route from the Straits of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia, Pakistan was constantly grappling with its internal horrors like blasphemy-related lynching and over-expressive "jihadi" groups.

Ever since the CPEC project came into existence few local groups started opposing it and the project itself faced a lack of a "skilled" workforce.

The education system of Pakistan is in shambles and it offered low-grade human capital. Corruption has been a bedrock of CPEC dealings in Pakistan. Officials and companies involved received kickbacks and everything was overlooked in the name of national security with no opacity.

The constant face-offs between the locals and the Chinese workers get highlighted in the media on a daily basis. A special force of 10,000 has been deployed to protect Chinese workers in Pakistan, while the locals live in fear.

Pakistan declared itself bankrupt and this has totally taken the steam out of the CPEC project. China is aware that Pakistan is going Sri Lanka's way and anytime the public can explode due to the volatile conditions.

Petrol, cooking gas, and even basic amenities like wheat have become elusive to the common man in Pakistan. The infamous 'wheat crisis of Pakistan' has been mostly the result of Ukraine-Russia war, poor distribution, and the smuggling of wheat to Afghanistan.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revealed that China holds roughly $30 billion of Pakistan's $126 billion in total external foreign debt, which is thrice the amount of IMF's debt ($ 7.8 billion) and exceeds it borrowings from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank combined.

When Islamabad urged Beijing to forgive its debt liabilities worth $3 billion owed by it to China-funded energy projects established under the CPEC the clear response was a no.

Earlier China was able to lure struggling Pakistan into its debt trap as it has done to many other smaller countries. Pakistan has a debt of more than $19 billion invested in the plants is owed largely for the building of independent power producers (IPPs) on take-or-pay power generation contracts.

Pakistan's all-weathered-ally China refused to budge on Islamabad's request to renegotiate the power purchase agreements worth $3 billion on the pretext that its prominent banks, including China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China, were not in a position to revise any of the clauses of the agreement reached earlier with the government.

Dejected by the unfriendly response Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Senator and industrialist Nauman Wazir stated that "First, the tariff determined by National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) at the time of allowing power generation in the private sector was on the very high side."

Moreover, he said, "Then, the IPPs submitted erroneous declarations concerning capital, financial assets and operational cost of the company, which became obvious when the balance sheets of the IPPs were made public."

Pakistan is reeling under immense pressure and has entered troubled water with debt liabilities of $294 billion, which ironically represents 109 per cent of the GDP.

Beijing itself is facing an economic crisis at home and cannot afford infrastructure loans.

When Pakistan's PM Shehbaz Sharif visited Beijing to meet and requested a rollover of $6.3 billion in debt, China had allegedly given affirmation after which Sharif openly announced that over $4 billion debt would be revised, but all these were mere talks as nothing concrete ever came into existence.

On the other hand, it is not just CPEC that has taken a hit even the ties between China and Pakistan are on a decline. A very recent observation is China's silence against India's move to exclude Pakistan from a high-level meeting on the sidelines of a virtual so-called BRICS summit, including other developing nations.

Experts believe that China now is wary of Pakistan's instability which has put the chances of its CPEC project moving ahead in danger.

China, being a capitalistic nation, has directed its companies to invest in Pakistan with the pure aim to earn profit and build on its CPEC project.

But there are many recent attacks on Chinese nationals in Pakistan that have irked China. President Xi Jinping too expressed his great concern about the safety of Chinese nationals in Pakistan when he last met his Pakistani counterpart.

China is keeping a close watch on Pakistan deteriorating situation and is aware that a recent round of talks with the International Monetary Fund to release new funds had failed.

Pakistan is a country with a history of military coups and extremists having a say in key policy decisions. This often resulted in major CPEC dealings being stalled that were found to be corrupt in nature.

The only thing that is working for China-Pakistan relations and keeping the CPEC dream alive is growing US-India security ties. China is in the middle of an intense trade war with the US and in the same breadth it is about to extend military assistance to Russia, arch-rival to the US.

Source: Times Of India

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Two soldiers, one child martyred in North, South Waziristan attacks

February 28, 2023

NORTH WAZIRISTAN/SOUTH WAZIRISTAN: Two soldiers and a child embraced martyrdom in separate incidents in North Waziristan and South Waziristan, officials confirmed.

According to local officials, armed militants stormed a check post in the Noorkhel area of North Waziristan late Sunday night.

The terrorists, armed with advanced weaponry, were engaged by security forces. During the operation, two soldiers embraced martyrdom while two attackers were also gunned down, according to a statement issued by the military’s media wing, Inter-Services Public Relation (ISPR).

The martyred soldiers were identified as 25-year-old Sepoy lmranullah from Bajaur and 21-year-old Sepoy Afzal Khan from Upper Dir.

Two terrorists were also apprehended during the operation, the statement added.

A heavy cache of weapons and ammunition were also recovered from the militants who the ISPR claimed were “actively involved in militant activities against security forces” and responsible for the killing of citizens.

The military’s media wing said a sanitisation operation was also underway in the area “to eliminate militants”.

Child killed in IED attack

In the second attack, one child was killed and two critically wounded after a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) went off near the Wana area of South Waziristan.

Officials told Dawn that the attack took place some five kilometres south of the district headquarters Wana on Monday.

“Three children were crossing the road when the IED went off around 2pm,” a police official Zia Wazir told Dawn.

He added that one child died on the spot and the two injured were immediately shifted to the hospital.

The injured have been moved to Dera Ismail Khan for further treatment, the official said.

Source: Dawn

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Partial strike observed in Sindh on TLP’s call

February 28, 2023

KARACHI: A partial strike was observed in Karachi, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and Badin on Monday on a call given by the Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) for a nationwide shutterdown against unprecedented inflation and unbearable IMF conditionalities. The call was ignored in other parts of Sindh.

In Karachi, all major markets and bazaars, particularly those situated in district South, remained opened but vehicular traffic on most roads was reported thinner than normal, according to officials, traders’ bodies and leaders of different political parties.

The TLP, however, claimed that the shutterdown in Karachi and other parts of the country remained successful.

South DIG Irfan Ali Baloch told Dawn that all major markets in Saddar, Clifton and Defence remained opened. Some TLP workers, he said, attempted to create a law and order situation in the Keamari area. The area police took action to disperse them. They detained four activists but later released them, said the police officer.

The strike largely remained peaceful as no untoward incident was reported. However, in parts of district south and some other localities, protest demonstrations were held which caused disruption in a smooth flow of vehicular traffic, according to a traffic police spokesperson.

All Karachi Tajir Ittehad (AKTI) chairman Atiq Mir told Dawn that businesses in the entire Saddar, Clifton, Tariq Road and M.A. Jinnah Road areas remained open. He said some shops and markets in parts of M.A. Jinnah Road, Old City areas and Malir remained closed.

The traders’ body chief regretted that in some areas hooliganism was resorted to, but no major incident of violence took place. AKTI head said some traders, particularly in the Old City area, had supported the strike call. He suggested that the cause (inflation) of the strike was good but the strategy was ‘flawed’.

TLP terms strike successful

“Commercial and trade activities in Karachi and other major cities of the country were suspended while traffic was reported thin on roads on the call for a strike given by the TLP against increase in petroleum prices, inflation, unemployment and economic murder of traders,” said a TLP spokesperson in a statement.

There was less than normal traffic on roads in Baldia, Ittehad Town, Orangi Town, Korangi and Lyari in Karachi, added the spokesperson.

TLP chief Hafiz Saad Husain Rizvi, appreciated traders, public transporter operators and other segments of society for making the strike a ‘success’, and said that people were fed up with the present rulers and inflation. By holding the strike, the masses had declared that they would not tolerate tyranny any more, he said.

The Hafiz said the TLP had launched a protest movement and the shutterdown was its first step. A future course of action would be announced very soon, he added.

HYDERABAD: A partial strike was observed in Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and Badin districts on Monday in response to the TLP’s call.

While most medical stores and healthcare establishments functioned normally, main shopping centres, commercial areas, and markets, including Resham Bazaar, Shahi Bazaar, Chotki Ghitti, Phulelli and furniture bazaar in the city area, Latifabad and Qasimabad remained shut.

Shops on Station Road were opened after 5pm.

Some TLP activists burnt tyres and held protests in the Tilak Incline, Hirabad, Station Road, Hyder Chowk and old Sabzi Mandi Chowk areas during the day.

Operation of the Peoples Bus Service was suspended and vehicular traffic remained thin.

MIRPURKHAS: This district also witnessed a partial strike on TLP’s call. Some markets remained closed but shops along main thoroughfares, including Mirwah road, Gharibabad road, Newtown, M.A. Jinnah road, Jameel Shaheed road, Sir Syed road, Colony road, Hameed Pura Colony road, Iqbal road, Bhansinghabad road and Ring road remained open as usual.

Vehicular traffic in the city and other parts of the district also plied normally.

The strike call was generally ignored in Mirwah Gorchani, Digri, Jhuddo, Naokot, Kot Ghulam Mohammad and other parts of Mirpurkhas district.

BADIN: Several markets and bazaars in different towns of Badin district were partially closed on Monday on TLP’s call for a protest against inflation.

Group of youths riding motorbikes and raising slogans were seen enforcing a shutterdown.

On such group arrived at the Badin press club and spoke to local reporters.

Source: Dawn

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Hazara PTI workers swear oath to court arrest

February 28, 2023

MANSEHRA: Former lawmakers and workers of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf from Hazara division on Monday swore an oath to court arrest under the party’s Jail Bharo Tehreek.

PTI Senator Ijaz Chaudhry led the mass oath-taking during a function in the Baffa area here.

The participants declared that they would stand firm against the forces damaging the sanctity and supremacy of the country’s Constitution and would present them for arrest under the Jail Bharo Tehreek.

PTI divisional president and former MNA Salah Mohammad Khan had called former lawmakers and workers from eight districts of Hazara division to the event but only a handful of them, both men and women, showed up.

Besides Mr Salah, former speaker of the provincial assembly Mushtaq Ghani, former adviser to the chief minister Babar Saleem Swati and former minister Qalandar Lodhi also attended the event.

Senator Ijaz says party will force govt to announce PA poll dates

Mr Chaudhry said the PTI was a law-abiding political party, so it opted for a peaceful way to press the government for holding elections to the KP and Punjab assemblies and stopping political victimisation of its leaders and workers.

“We will never yield to the imported government’s undemocratic and unlawful tactics to delay elections in Punjab and KP,” he said.

On the occasion, Mr Ghani said the party’s leaders and workers in the Hazara division were ready to court arrest.

He criticised Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s administration over “economic and political instability in the country and record inflation caused by it.”

TWO Killed: A truck fell into a ravine in Torghar district on Monday killing the driver and the cleaner.

The accident occurred as driver Mohammad Mudassir lost control of the truck, which was carrying granite boulders from Malian Banda to Kundar Hassanzai.

Also in the day, a female medical student was killed allegedly by an accidental fire in Hathi Mera area here.

The police handed over the body to the family after the doctors completed medico-legal formalities in the hospital.

HELD: The police arrested 32 drug peddlers and seized a large cache of narcotics during raids here.

The action came on the orders of district police officer Zahoor Babar Afridi, according to a news release issued by the police on Monday.

Source: Dawn

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TTP have Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police in their crosshairs

February 27, 2023

PESHAWAR: Atop a police outpost in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Faizanullah Khan stands behind a stack of sandbags and peers through the sight of an anti-aircraft gun, scanning the terrain along the unofficial boundary with the restive former tribal areas.

On this cold and rainy February morning, he was looking not for aircraft but for Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) fighters behind attacks against the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police.

It was daytime, so he could relax a bit, said Khan, an assistant sub-inspector (ASI), as he sat down on a traditional woven bed. But the night was a different story, he said, pointing to pock marks left by bullets fired at the outpost, named Manzoor Shaheed, or Manzoor the Martyr, after a colleague felled by insurgents years ago.

The outpost is one of the dozens that provide defence against militants waging a fresh assault on police from hideouts in the border region adjoining Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. The area, part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is a hotbed for TTP militants.

The threat the insurgency poses to Pakistan was illustrated last month when the bombing of a mosque in Peshawar killed more than 80 police personnel. A faction of the TTP, Jamat-ul-Ahrar, claimed responsibility.

Visiting northwest Pakistan this month, Reuters gained access to police outposts and spoke to more than a dozen people, including senior police officials, many of whom described how the force is suffering increasing losses as it bears the brunt of attacks while contending with resourcing and logistical constraints.

The officials acknowledge these challenges but say they are trying to improve the force’s capability amid adverse economic circumstances.

‘Stopped their way’

Police here have fought the militants for years — more than 2,100 personnel have been killed and 7,000 injured since 2001 — but never have they been the focus of militants’ operations as they are today.

“We’ve stopped their way to Peshawar,” ASI Jameel Shah of Sarband station, which controls the Manzoor Shaheed outpost, said of the militants.

Sarband and its eight outposts have suffered four major attacks in recent months and faced sniper fire with unprecedented frequency, according to police based there.

Killings of police in KP rose to 119 last year, from 54 in 2021 and 21 in 2020. Some 102 have been slain already this year, most in the mosque bombing but some in other attacks. Elsewhere, militants stormed a police office in Karachi on February 17, killing four before security forces retook the premises and killed three assailants.

The TTP pledges allegiance to the Afghan Taliban but is not directly a part of the group that rules in Kabul. Its stated aim is to impose religious law in Pakistan.

A TTP spokesman, Muhammad Khurasani, told Reuters its main target was Pakistan Army, but the police were standing in the way.

“The police have been told many times not to obstruct our way, and instead of paying heed to this the police have started martyring our comrades,” he said. “This is why we are targeting them.”

The military has conducted operations alongside the KP police and faced TTP attacks, with one soldier confirmed dead in the province this year, according to data released by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), which did not address questions from Reuters about military casualties.

In December, the TTP released a video, purportedly recorded by one of its fighters from mountains around Islamabad, showing the parliament building. “We are coming,” said a note held by the unidentified fighter.

The TTP wants to show that its fighters can strike outside their current areas of influence, said Amir Rana, director of the Pak Institute for Peace Studies, an Islamabad-based think tank.

While their ability may be limited, he said, “propaganda is a big part of this war and the TTP are getting good at it”.

‘Sitting ducks’

The police in KP, which neighbours Islamabad, say they are up for the fight, but point to a lack of resources.

“The biggest problem is the number of personnel, which is a little low,” said Shah, of Sarband station, which has 55 people — including drivers and clerks — for the station and eight affiliated outposts.

“This is a target area, and we’re absolutely face-to-face with (the militants).”

Days before Reuters visited Sarband, a senior police official was ambushed and killed outside the station during a firefight with militants. The attack demonstrated the firepower of the insurgents, who, according to Shah, used thermal goggles to target the officer in darkness.

It wasn’t the first time. About a year ago, the TTP released a video of its snipers using thermal imaging to take out unsuspecting security personnel.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, who did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters about the insurgency, told local TV this month that militants saw the police as “soft targets” because their public-facing role made it easier to penetrate their facilities.

Zahid Hussain, a journalist and author of books on militancy, said the police were more vulnerable than the military, given their resources and training.

“I mean, they’re sitting ducks there,” Hussain said.

‘Lethal weapons’

Moazzam Jah Ansari, who was chief of KP police when he spoke to Reuters this month but has since been replaced, said militant strategies had been evolving.

“They try and find more effective ways to conduct military operations, more lethal weapons,” he said.

Militants have procured US-made M4 rifles and other sophisticated weapons from stocks left by Western forces that exited Afghanistan in 2021, police officials said. Some police guards told Reuters they had seen small reconnaissance drones flying over their outposts.

Khurasani, the TTP spokesman, confirmed the group was using drones for surveillance.

Several police officials at Sarband station said the provincial government and military provided them and other outposts with thermal goggles in late January to aid the fight. But they encountered another problem.

“About 22 hours of the day, we have power outages… there’s no electricity to charge our goggles,” Shah told Reuters at Sarband.

The station has one rooftop solar panel, which officers paid out of their own pockets to install, according to station house officer (SHO) Qayyum Khan. One policeman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of disciplinary action, said police use their vehicles or go to a petrol station equipped with a back-up generator to charge their goggles.

Police said they had taken other protection measures, including erecting rudimentary walls to guard against sniper fire, and procuring bulletproof glass from a market that sells equipment left behind by US-led forces.

Economic conditions

Reuters spoke to four other senior officials and more than a dozen lower-ranking officers, all of whom said the provincial force was neglected despite its key role. They spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of disciplinary action.

Required resources were not forthcoming, and their pay and perks were inferior to that of counterparts elsewhere in Pakistan, let alone the military, these officials told Reuters.

“Do the police need more resources? They absolutely do,” said Taimur Jhagra, who was provincial finance minister until January, when a caretaker administration took over ahead of elections.

Jhagra said his government helped the police as much as it could with pay raises and procuring equipment such as goggles, despite fiscal constraints. Pakistan’s debt-ridden economy has been in a tailspin for over a year, and the country is trying to slash spending to avoid default.

“Khyber Pakhtunkhwa pays a greater price for that” because of its exposure to the militants, he said.

Ansari, the former police chief, said resources had improved, but tended to come reactively when a threat emerged, rather than as sustained support. He, too, attributed this to economic circumstances, but added that things were not as bad as some suggested.

‘Seething anger’

After Western forces left Afghanistan in August 2021, Pakistan sought a truce with the TTP, resulting in a months-long ceasefire and negotiations brokered by the Afghan Taliban. As part of the effort, many militants from Afghanistan were resettled in Pakistan.

The TTP ended the ceasefire in November 2022, and regrouped militants restarted attacks in Pakistan soon after.

Following the Peshawar bombing, police personnel held public protests where some voiced anger against their leadership, the provincial and national governments, and even the military, calling for more resources and clarity on the policy of fighting the militants.

Ansari acknowledged a “deep sense of loss” and “seething anger” in the force in the wake of the attack.

At the site of the blast, police personnel gathered on a recent day to remember their fallen comrades. The imam, a police employee who lost his brother in the attack, prayed for the success of the force.

Behind the mosque, Daulat Khan, an ASI, and eight relatives live in cramped police quarters comprising a 25-square-metre space with only one room. Around him are crumbling, blast-damaged walls.

“Everyone can see the sacrifices of the police, but nothing is done for us,” he said, pointing to rows of century-old, British-colonial era quarters. “You see the conditions in front of you.”

Outside, open sewage canals lined the alleyways.

Different battle

Pakistan Army effectively dismantled the TTP and killed most of its top leadership in a string of operations from 2014 onwards, driving most of the fighters into Afghanistan, where they regrouped.

But the nature of the fight has changed in recent months, which partly shows why the police, not the military, are at the forefront. The militants were now spread in smaller groups across the country and among the civilian population, instead of operating from bases in former tribal areas, analysts said.

The military has also been stretched by another insurgency in Balochistan, where separatists are targeting state infrastructure and Chinese investments.

The defence ministry did not respond to requests for comment about the armed forces’ role in resisting militants in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Miles from the flashpoints, meanwhile, police graduates receive six-month crash courses in anti-militant operations at the vast Elite Police Training Centre in Nowshera.

The personnel, including women, learn how to conduct raids, rappel from buildings and use rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft guns, which they unleash on a model of a militant training camp.

But beyond the training school’s walls, there is no stationary militant camp, attacks come at night, and police are often on their own.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Prime Minister Speaks about Pasmanda Muslims to Reach Out To the Poorest

Feb 28, 2023

The Prime Minister on Monday spoke specifically about Pasmanda Muslims in an attempt to reach out to the poorest, most backward and a majority among the community. The PM was speaking in a post-budget webinar, and highlighted the government's efforts to reach out to the most deprived sections of society with its various welfare schemes.

Here's is why they could become PM Modi's next game changers -

Who are Pasmanda Muslims?

Pasmanda is a Persian word for “those who have fallen behind”. “Pasmanda Muslim” is used to describe the backward Muslims.

Demographically speaking, Pasmanda Muslims are estimated to be around 85-90% of the total Muslim population in India.

Pasmanda Muslims are said to have an indelible link with the Hindu population as they are believed to come from the people who converted to Islam through the centuries.

About 40% of Pasmanda Muslims are said to have belonged to castes that currently make the OBCs — a BJP stronghold across several states.

What PM said

“We have to quickly provide various facilities to our tribal people in over 200 districts and over 22,000 villages of the country. Similarly among our minorities, especially among Muslims, we have Pasmanda Muslims. How we have to take benefits to them… as they even today after so many years of Independence remain far behind,” said PM Modi, addressing a webinar on “reaching the last mile”

He emphasised the importance of good governance for reaching the last mile, saying such an approach will have no scope for discrimination and corruption.

Timing of the push

The BJP began its Pasmanda Muslim push in 2022, holding several functions, most notable in October in Lucknow, where it held a conference with prominent members and intellectuals of the Pasmanda Muslim community.

PM Modi, however, had set the tone for the push in July, when he told the BJP national executive, held in Hyderabad, that the party needed to reach out to Pasmanda Muslims.

Source: Times Of India

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Jammu & Kashmir: Muslim Neighbours Help with Kashmiri Pandit’s Funeral

Feb 28, 2023

SRINAGAR: Muslim neighbours on Monday joined and helped in the last rites of Sanjay Kumar Sharma, the Kashmiri Pandit bank guard slain by terrorists the previous day in Pulwama district.

The Sharmas are the only Pandit family in Achan village, and his Muslim friends and neighbours took it upon themselves to do all they could in his funeral.

“He (Sanjay) was one of us. We never thought of him as a Pandit,” said Mudasir Ahmad, among those who shouldered the coffin and arranged wood for the cremation.

The killing of Sanjay, 40, was among the first such targeted strikes so far this year by the terrorists who, along with Pandits, have trained their guns on migrants. Sanjay was gunned down when he was going to buy grocery from a shop near his home Sunday morning. He is survived by his wife and brother.

Ahmad recalled a lifetime spent together in friendship and brotherhood. “We share a bond that goes back hundreds of years. When we heard this sad news, all of us rushed to console the family (of Sanjay) and did all to help,” he said.

Sanjay’s relatives echoed the sentiments, pointing out that Muslims in the village always helped them in need while taking care not to meddle in their religious affairs.

“They (Muslims) kept a distance (Monday) when a (funeral) ritual was to be done by our priest but made all arrangements for the cremation,” a relative said.

Amid the funeral, J&K ADGP Vijay Kumar visited Pulwama, reviewed security in the aftermath of the terror strike. He ordered police and paramilitary forces to enhance counter-insurgency operations in the district and step up intelligence gathering.

Source: Times Of India

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Karnataka BJP MLA Invokes Tipu, Compares Muslims to 18th Century Ruler

Sagay Raj

Feb 27, 2023

Tipu politics is raging in Karnataka ahead of Assembly polls. Weeks after Minister CN Ashwath Narayan asked the public to “finish off” Congress's Siddaramaiah like Tipu Sultan, another BJP leader invoked the 18th-century Mysore ruler.

Addressing a rally in Vijayapura, BJP MLA Basangouda Patil Yatnal compared Muslims to Tipu Sultan and asked people not to cast a vote for a Muslim leader.

"All MLAs ask me, in your constituency there are one lakh Tipu Sultans (Muslim votes) how a Shivaji Maharaj descendant won from Bijapur. Going forward in Bijapur, none of the followers of Tipu Sultan will win," he said in Kannada.

"Even by mistake you should not cast your votes for Muslims," he added.

Source: India Today

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BJP and the PDP: United in Grief over Kashmiri Pandit’s Killing

Muzaffar Raina   |   Srinagar  


Divisive politics appeared to take a break on Monday at the home of Sanjay Sharma, a 40-year-old Kashmiri Pandit and bank security guard killed by militants a day earlier.

Rival politicians from the BJP and the People’s Democratic Party sent out messages of amity and visited the house at Achan village in Pulwama where Sharma’s wife, two daughters and son grieved.

Hundreds of Muslims too arrived to mourn Sharma’s death, express support for his family, and participate in his last rites. Several local people publicly condemned the killing.

Among the politicians who visited the house were former chief minister and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti and Jammu and Kashmir BJP president Ravinder Raina.

Sharma’s wife told Raina that local Muslims were camping at her home and had not cooked meals at their homes following her husband’s murder. The family, however, told the visiting politicians that they no longer felt safe at their home.

Raina later said that Kashmiris had risen above the religious divide to condemn the act of terrorism.

“People are extremely grieved by the killing. The entire village is camping there. I saw tears and pain in their eyes. This bloodshed should stop,” Raina told reporters.

“I saw people in large numbers visiting the family for the last rites. Since yesterday, all Muslims from the village and surrounding areas have been here to mourn the death. This is the identity of Kashmir. Hundreds of Muslims lifted his body on their shoulders for his last rites.”

Raina hit out at “Pakistan-sponsored” militants. “What (evil) had Sanjayji done while he was living in Pulwama for the last many years? But these cowardly terrorists attacked him,” he said.

Mehbooba said Muslims should take up the responsibility of saving Pandits.

“It is my request to my community, Muslims.... There is no denying we are facing an onslaught. On the one side, the BJP is committing atrocities on us, and on the other is the gun of the militants,” she said.

“Kashmiri Pandits are our wealth, a symbol of Kashmiriyat…. For God’s sake, we should do everything in our hands to save them.”

She told reporters: “If militancy, as we are told, is over, then who killed him (Sharma)? What is the government doing to protect Pandits? I want to appeal to the government to provide a job to the widow.”

Mehbooba later said in a tweet that instead of promoting films that sowed hatred, it would help if the government of the country actually made the lives of minorities secure in Jammu and Kashmir.

All Party Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq termed the killing “a gruesome act”.

“The killing of human beings in such a manner is a tragedy that Kashmir has been witnessing for the past three-and-a-half decades now, with no seeming end in the near future,” the Mirwaiz, who is under house arrest, said in a statement.

“A state policy of extreme repression and unilateral interventions countered by equally extreme and viscous vengeance is a vortex we have got caught into, leading to extreme suffering of Kashmiris of all hues.”

The Mirwaiz said that in this situation, Kashmiri Pandits living in Kashmir had become soft targets.

Source: Telegraph India

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Terrorist killed in encounter in J&K's Pulwama

Feb 28, 2023

SRINAGAR: An unidentified terrorist was killed in an overnight encounter with security forces in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir, police said on Tuesday. Two security force personnel were also injured in the gunbattle which began after a cordon and search operation in Padgampora area of Pulwama, a police official said.

Giving details, the official said a cordon a search operation was launched in Padgampora following information about presence of terrorists there.

The search operation turned into an encounter after the terrorists hiding in a house opened fire. In the retaliatory action by security forces, one terrorist was killed.

Source: Times Of India

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Killing by cow vigilante: DNA reports match two Muslim men burnt to death

28th February 2023

By Rajesh Asnani

JAIPUR:  In the case relating to the abduction and killing of two Muslim men from Rajasthan’s Bharatpur district on February 15, DNA reports have confirmed that the remains found in the Bolero jeep were those of Junaid and Nasir.

Moreover, an analysis of the blood stains found in a Scorpio SUV used by the cow vigilantes in the assault which was discovered in a Gaushala in Haryana matches the two killed men. The Rajasthan Police revealed these details on the basis of a DNA report that came on Sunday evening.

Bharatpur Range IG Gaurav Srivastava has issued a statement to confirm the identity of Junaid and Nasir who died in the horrific incident. To verify this fact, a DNA test of bones was done and blood samples of Nasir and Junaid’s family members were taken. 

He added that there was no doubt that the “Bhiwani massacre was a heinous crime. We are alert about any such statement regarding this incident that disturbs communal harmony. Rajasthan Police is moving forward through fair investigation on the basis of technical investigation.”

After this report, it has become clear that Junaid and Nasir were abducted and brutally assaulted by cow vigilantes. After this, the kidnappers threw them in their car and took them 200 kilometres away. There, the victims were burnt to death. It is also being claimed in some reports that the Scorpio in which blood stains of Nasir and Junaid have been found was earlier listed as a vehicle used in government departments of Haryana.

After this incident, along with Haryana Police, a question mark is now also being raised on the role of the Rajasthan Police, for even after almost two weeks after the incident, the latter has arrested only one of the accused, Rinku Saini. All the other accused are still out of reach of the police.

Source: New Indian Express

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Muslim quota 'reduced': Congress demands inquiry

Feb 27, 2023

HYDERABAD: Former Minister Mohammed Ali Shabbir of the Congress has demanded that a high-level investigation should be ordered into the recent allegations of the 4% quota for Muslims being reduced to 3% under the BC-E category in jobs and education.There were allegations that the Muslim quota was reduced from 4% to 3% while preparing the roster for enhancement of ST reservations from 6% to 10%.

However, chief secretary Shanti Kumari later clarified that the 4% Muslim quota was intact.

Though Shabbir Ali welcomed the clarification issued by the CS, he also questioned why the state government did not order an inquiry into the "fake" roster circulated in the media.

Shabbir Ali pointed out that a copy of Roster Point No 69 of General Rules showing a reduction in the 4% Muslim quota to 3% was circulated on social media in November 2022.

Congress party immediately sought clarification from the state government, especially the chief secretary.

In response, an unsigned rejoinder was sent to the media claiming that there was no change in the percentage.

When the Congress party continued to build pressure, a few days later, home Minister Mahmood Ali went on record to say that the roster was morphed by some miscreants.

Source: Times Of India

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Southeast Asia


Umno Ulama Council to Focus on Elevating Dignity of Muslims not for Political Alliances

27-02- 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: The Umno Ulama Council (MUU) will function as a party wing with the role of elevating the dignity of Islam and Muslims, and is not aimed at re-establishing any form of political alliance, its chairman Datuk Dusuki Ahmad said.

He said the council’s establishment will focus on finding solutions to the problems that plague Muslims and Muslim nations.

“We will undertake a social responsibility towards solving the problems of Islam, the problems of Muslims and the problems of Muslim countries.

“For so long, the religious movement has been seen as somewhat marginalised, and so now, in that sense, we have to consolidate and strengthen cooperation,” he told a media conference after chairing the first MUU Supreme Council meeting at Menara Dato Onn here today.

Dusuki was asked if the newly formed wing will take on the role of re-establishing political alliances between Umno and other parties such as Muafakat Nasional prior to this.

MUU executive secretary Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali, meanwhile, said the meeting today also approved 30 initial phase MUU landmarks for 2023 and 2024, involving short and long-term strategic plans to provide an impact to the party and the people.

They include organising the ‘Halaqah’ education and training programme for members, the MUU Roundtable Muzakarah session, and efforts to enliven the role of the Islamic Centre at the World Trade Centre (WTC).

“The rest of the landmarks will be notified to party members from time to time,” he said.

In addition, the meeting also outlined the four main roles of the council’s establishment, including its party advisory role in realising the basis and purpose of Umno on Islam as provided in the party constitution.

“Second, to educate and discipline party members so that they are in line with the party’s founding principles and purpose and also to remain steadfast to becoming pious Muslims and good citizens.

“Thirdly, the council will play its role of advising the government to always act according to Article 3 (1) of the Federal Constitution in which Islam is the religion of the Federation.

Source: The Sun Daily

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September trial for Dr M’s ‘Kutty’ defamation suit against Zahid

28 Feb 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here has fixed a four-day trial beginning Sept 11 to hear a defamation suit brought by Dr Mahathir Mohamad against Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in relation to Zahid’s alleged derogatory use of the name “Kutty” to refer to Mahathir.

Lawyer Mior Nor Haidir Suhaimi, who represented Mahathir, said Justice Rozana Ali Yusoff fixed the date after an online case management held earlier today.

“A final case management will be held on July 14 to ensure all pre-trial directives have been complied with,” he said.

Counsel Shahril Madisa represented Zahid, a deputy prime minister and Umno president.

Mahathir, 97, filed the suit on July 20 last year, naming Zahid, 70, as defendant.

In his statement of claim, the former prime minister alleged that Zahid had defamed him during an Umno divisional meeting held in Kelana Jaya on July 30, 2017.

He said the statement was republished on Astro Awani’s YouTube channel and several online news portals, which were accessible by internet users without restrictions.

Mahathir claims the statement was meant to imply that he was not born a Malay or a Muslim, and that his original name was “Mahathir son of Iskandar Kutty”.

He says the statement suggested that he claimed to be a Malay when he became the prime minister for political and personal advantage.

He also claims the statement belittled Malaysians of Indian Muslim descent.

The former Pejuang chairman and former Langkawi MP says the statement has ruined his reputation as a responsible politician who cared for the welfare of the people.

He says it gave the impression that he was dishonest, untrustworthy, selfish, cunning and deceptive for personal gain.

Mahathir is demanding general, exemplary and excessive damages in addition to an injunction to prevent Zahid or his agents from commenting, repeating or causing the publication of the statement.

He is also seeking a court order that Zahid issue an unconditional oral and written apology, costs and other appropriate relief.

Zahid, in his defence filed on Aug 17, denies that the statement was made maliciously or to slander and harm Mahathir’s public reputation.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Santiago’s remarks about Naik caused racial tension, says preacher

V Anbalagan

27 Feb 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: A freelance preacher today maintained in court his claim that a press statement by former Klang MP Charles Santiago about a speech Zakir Naik made in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, in 2019 had given rise to racial tension at the time.

Cross-examined by Santiago’s lawyer, Tan Tai Hwa, preacher Hussain Abdullah, 68, disagreed that he had no proof to support his claim.

Tan told Hussain, who is better known as Hussain Yee, that more than 100 police reports had been lodged against Naik after his speech on Aug 8, 2019.

To another question by Tan, Hussain admitted being aware from media reports that Naik had been banned from entering Canada, the UK and Bangladesh.

He also maintained that his testimony was unbiased despite him being a close friend of Naik.

Hussain also dismissed the lawyer’s suggestion that several politicians and civil servants had made adverse remarks about Naik following the Kota Bharu speech.

Naik is said to have told his audience in that speech that the Malaysian Hindu community, which is in the minority here, enjoyed more rights than the Muslim minority in India.

He is also said to have questioned the loyalty of Malaysian Hindus, who, he claimed, supported the prime minister of India rather than Malaysia’s own prime minister.

Naik is also said to have called Chinese Malaysians “guests” in response to a politician who labelled him a “visitor”.

He allegedly went on to say that these “guests” must return to China if he is to be deported to India.

Naik, who is now a permanent resident here, is suing Santiago for publishing defamatory remarks through a media statement issued on Aug 13, 2019.

Santiago said the press statement had been made to urge the then Pakatan Harapan government led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad to consider whether Naik should be allowed to comment on Malaysia’s domestic politics.

Naik filed the suit in December 2019, claiming that Santiago had said the arrest of 12 individuals under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) over alleged links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was because of their criticism of Naik.

He claims Santiago’s remarks, which were published in a news report titled “Criticism of Zakir Naik may have led to LTTE arrests, says MP”, published by FMT on Nov 26, 2019, were motivated by malice and hatred.

The controversial Muslim preacher said Santiago’s remarks had injured his reputation and caused him to suffer humiliation and ridicule.

Santiago’s defence is that the remarks were fair comment on a matter of public interest and were made without malice.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Israel should be made accountable for ‘crimes’ in Palestine: OIC chief

February 27, 202

JEDDAH: A lack of punishment for its actions had encouraged Israel to continue carrying out “crimes” in Palestine, the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation claimed on Monday.

Hissein Brahim Taha made his comments during an extraordinary meeting of the OIC’s executive committee in Jeddah, called to discuss a recent escalation of violence in the West Bank city of Nablus and throughout Palestine which has claimed 11 Palestinian lives and seen dozens of people injured.

“Israel continues to commit crimes and perpetuates its colonial settlement regime on Palestinian land in the presence of the international community,” Taha said.

He noted that Israel had been able to breach the terms of the Geneva Conventions and UN resolutions due to a lack of political and legal repercussions.

The OIC chief also passed on his condolences to the families of Palestinians killed in Nablus and praised the tenacity of the Palestinian people.

Source: Arab News

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Israel sees ‘difficult days ahead’ after West Bank attacks, riot

27 February ,2023

Israel on Monday deployed extra troops in the occupied West Bank after a Palestinian gunman shot dead two Israelis and a Palestinian was killed when Jewish settlers rampaged through a village, setting fire to houses and cars.

“We expect difficult days ahead of us,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said as he toured the largely empty streets of the village of Hawara with a heavy security detail.

In fresh violence on Monday, the Israeli military said Palestinians carried out a series of drive-by shootings on a highway outside the West Bank town of Jericho before fleeing. An Israeli civilian was wounded in the attack, the military said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Sunday's rampage partially eclipsed the attack earlier in the day in which two brothers from a nearby Israeli settlement were gunned down in their car in Hawara, a Palestinian village north of Ramallah that often sees friction with settlers.

Flames illuminated the sky into the night as dozens of cars were torched and rioters set fire to several Palestinian houses. One Palestinian was shot dead. President Mahmoud Abbas said he held the Israeli government fully responsible for the rampage.

Lamar Abusarees, a 10-year-old Palestinian girl, said her house was among those set alight. “My mother moved us to a corner because there was no safe place, they broke all the windows while we were inside.”

The turmoil erupted as Israeli and Palestinian officials agreed at a summit in Jordan to de-escalate tensions.

The Israeli army said it was still hunting down the Palestinian gunman and would send two extra battalions to the area to thwart fresh attacks and prevent rioting. Police said they had arrested two people.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Palestine PM: Israel responsible for settler crimes in Nablus

27 February 2023

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has held the Israeli regime fully responsible for the crimes committed after deadly violence and arson by Israeli settlers targeting a town and several neighborhoods near the city of Nablus.

The premier of the Palestinian Authority (PA) made the remarks on Monday, during a weekly cabinet meeting in the city of Ramallah, the seat of the PA.

Shtayyeh said Israeli settlers overnight practiced the most heinous forms of crimes, including killings, setting fire to property, and terrorizing women and children. He said the Palestinian government will form a ministerial committee to assess the damage.

Israeli settlers reportedly began attacking Palestinian areas overnight after a gunman killed two settlers in the center of the West Bank town of Hawara, south of Nablus.

Footage recorded following the incident showed settlers blocking a street in the nearby Hawara area, lighting fires and throwing stones toward Palestinian homes. According to Wafa, the settlers set fire to dozens of homes as well as other Palestinian-owned structures and vehicles.

A Palestinian man was also killed with a live bullet fired during an assault by settlers, who were backed by the regime forces in the area. The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the victim as 37-year-old Sameh Hamdallah Mahmoud Aqtash.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Palestinian prime minister denounced the Israeli parliament's preliminary approval of a death penalty law for Palestinian prisoners. Shtayyeh said, “This decision did not shock us because this government and others are already practicing extrajudicial killings against our youth and children, otherwise how else will the world explain the killings of more than 60 Palestinians in less than two months.”

He labeled such a law fascist and criminal, “which will not deter us from continuing to demand our rights, freedom, and dignity to live in an independent, sovereign, contiguous, and viable state with East al-Quds as its capital, and the right of return for refugees.”

UK slams Israeli settlers' violent attacks near Nablus

The British Consulate General in al-Quds in a statement condemned the settlers’ massive violent attacks against Palestinians and the killing of the Palestinian man.

“Horrified by scenes of settler violence in Huwara and nearby villages yesterday, with approximately 400 Palestinians injured and tens of homes, businesses and cars torched,” the statement said. “Settlers responsible for this violence must be brought to justice.”

“The UK condemns the killing of Sameh Aqtash during the same attacks by settlers and expresses condolences to his family. Sameh was a Palestinian aid worker who risked his life to save victims of the earthquakes in Turkey. We urge the Government of Israel to hold the perpetrators of this dreadful crime to account,” the statement said.

France "gravely concerned" over settler violence in West Bank

Also on Monday, the French Foreign Ministry condemned the attack by Israeli settlers, adding, "Violence against Palestinian civilians is unacceptable."

The ministry said there was a risk the situation in the West Bank could "deteriorate out of control."

France called on all parties "to avoid fueling the violence, and to contribute to de-escalation."

"As part of its responsibility as an occupying power," Israel needed to "protect Palestinian civilians" and find the perpetrators of the attacks in which cars and homes were set ablaze in the northern town of Huwara, the ministry said.

Source: Press TV

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Iranian FM: US Ready for Resumption of JCPOA Revival Talks


Amir Abdollahian made the remarks in an exclusive interview with Al-Alam television network.

Referring to his recent visit to Baghdad and his meetings with top Iraqi officials, including his counterpart, Fuad Hussein, Iran's top diplomat stated that the Iraqi foreign minister had returned from an earlier visit to Washington with a message for Iran.

“He carried the message that the American side is ready for an agreement” with Iran on the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the minister added.

“We have always welcomed the path of diplomacy and negotiation and never distanced ourselves from negotiation,” he emphasized.

The senior official underscored that Iran is ready to work toward an agreement on the JCPOA and return of all signatories to their commitments under the deal within the framework of negotiations carried out in the Austrian capital city of Vienna and based on messages exchanged between Tehran and Washington through non-paper contacts.

Amir Abdollahian stressed that any such agreement must guarantee the interests of all parties, while respecting Iran's red lines as well.

“If the American side acts realistically within the framework of the message it has sent and avoids repeating its previous hypocritical media remarks, we will not be far from an agreement,” the foreign minister said.

“The problem, however, is that Americans always issue contradictory diplomatic and media messages. I mean, they send positive diplomatic messages while making different media remarks. We hope that [this time around] Americans would act realistically and avoid being hypocritical,” he added.

Iran stresses it has not quit the negotiating table with the world powers, but will not put all its eggs in the negotiation basket and will not wait for the United States to return to its commitments under the 2015 agreement. Iranian officials stress Tehran has maintained its constructive aproach towards a good, strong and lasting agreement on the revival of the accord and arriving at a deal requires the US pragmatic attitude.

Tehran says it will not be able to trust Washington as long as President Joe Biden continues the wrong policy of maximum pressure and sanctions practiced by Donald Trump against Iran. Iranian officials say the Biden administration has yet done nothing but hollow promises to lift sanctions against Tehran. They blast the US addiction to sanctions, and slammed the POTUS for continuing his predecessor's policy on Iran.

In quitting the agreement, Trump restored sanctions on Iran as part of what he called the “maximum pressure” campaign against the country. Those sanctions are being enforced to this day by the Biden administration, even though it has repeatedly acknowledged that the policy has been a mistake and a failure.

Iranian officials say the ball is in the US' court, and the Biden administration should assure Tehran that it will not repeat Trump's past mistakes.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Human Rights Chief: Iran Seeking to Put Ex-Chief Torturer on Trial


In a letter to the country's attorney general, Qaribabadi demanded the SAVAK chief torturer's prosecution for his complicity in human rights abuses against the people of Iran.

The official asked the attorney general "to collect evidence of crimes committed by Sabeti and to identify the victims of these crimes, and to take the necessary measures to file a complaint against him".

Sabeti and his family were spotted at the gathering of “regime change” proponents in Los Angeles in mid-February.

There is documented evidence of how undercover SAVAK agents – working directly on the orders of Sabeti – would intimidate, arrest, torture, rape and kill women during the Pahlavi dictatorship.

Responding to a question over the presence of Sabeti at the gathering, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spoeksman Nasser Kana'ani said that countries claiming to be the flag-bearers of human rights have morphed their countries into safe havens for criminals and hooligans.   

“This came as no surprise that a country purportedly believed to be forerunner in protecting human rights has hosted a criminal with checkered history,” he stated.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Damaged buildings collapse after fresh quake in eastern Turkiye

February 27, 2023

ANKARA: A magnitude 5.6 earthquake shook southern Turkiye on Monday — three weeks after a catastrophic temblor devastated the region — causing some already damaged buildings to collapse and killing at least one person, authorities said.

More than 100 others were injured as a result of the earthquake which was centered in the town of Yesilyurt in Malatya province, Yunus Sezer, the chief of the country’s disaster management agency, AFAD, told reporters. More than two dozen buildings collapsed.

A father and daughter who were trapped beneath the rubble of a four-story building in Yesilyurt were rescued with injuries. The pair had entered the damaged building to collect belongings.

Elsewhere in Malatya, search-and-rescue teams were sifting through the rubble of two damaged buildings that toppled on top of some parked cars, trapping three people, HaberTurk reported.

Malatya was among 11 Turkish provinces hit by the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that devastated parts of southern Turkiye and northern Syria on Feb. 6.

That quake led to more than 48,000 deaths in both countries as well as the collapse or serious damage of 185,000 buildings in Turkiye.

AFAD’s chief urged people not to enter damaged buildings saying strong aftershocks continue to pose a risk. More than 10,000 aftershocks have hit the region affected by the quake since Feb. 6.

Source: Arab News

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Top Commander Underlines IRGC's Readiness to Train Iraqi Armed Forces


Maj. Gen. Salami made the remarks in a meeting with Iraqi Defense Minister Thabet Mohammad Saeed Al-Abbasi in Tehran on Monday.

He underlined the need to protect Iraq’s unity and integrity, and stated that the IRGC is prepared to offer advisory assistance to Iraq, exchange its experiences and achievements in the fight against terrorism, and provide training for various units of the Iraqi Armed Forces.

The military official underscored the importance of “stable, safe and strong neighbors” for Iran.

"While the Islamic Republic favors a mighty Iraq, the Americans and the Zionists seek to dominate the region and create insecurity in Iraq and Iran," Salami stressed.

"Insecurity would prevail wherever the US is present," the IRGC chief warned, adding that the logic behind Iran’s push for the expulsion of American forces from the region is that the oppressed regional people have to pay the price for the US’ opportunistic policies.

He also called for the promotion of military, defense and security cooperation between Tehran and Baghdad.

The Iraqi defense minister, for his part, called for the enhancement of cooperation with Iran as the government in Baghdad is determined to strengthen the Arab country’s defense power.

Al-Abbasi said Iraq is eager to use Iran’s experiences in the military and defense spheres, calling for closer interaction with Iran to tighten security along the common border.

Iraq is willing to dispatch expert and technical teams to Iran for training cooperation, he added.

Iranian military officials have repeatedly expressed the country’s readiness to share its experiences in the war on terrorism and in the defense industry with Iraq to help the neighboring state’s security and stability.

The US invaded Iraq in early 2003 under the later debunked pretext that the regime of Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. It withdrew soldiers from Iraq between 2007 and 2011 but redeployed them in 2014 along with other partners to allegedly counter the threat of the Daesh (also known as ISIS or ISIL) terrorist group.

Iraq managed to end the territorial rule of the outfit in the country thanks to the sacrifices of the national army as well as the anti-terror Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), which had the backing of Iran.

However, Washington kept its forces inside Iraq in defiance of a resolution that required its withdrawal. The resolution was passed by the Arab country’s parliament on January 5, 2020, two days after the US assassinated Iran’s anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) deputy head.

Source: Fars News Agency

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President Rayeesi Calls on Iraq Not to Turn into Platform for Terrorist Attacks on Iran


President Rayeesi made the remarks in a meeting with Iraqi Defense Minister Thabet Mohammad Saeed Al-Abbasi in Tehran on Sunday.

The president described the Iran-Iraq border as one of friendship and cooperation.

He added that Iran considers Iraq’s security its own security and supports efforts to strengthen its stability and security, underlining the Arab country must not be turned into a place for plotting against neighbors.

President Rayeesi underscored that Iran also backs all efforts aimed at economic and military reconstruction of Iraq.

The visiting defense chief, for his part, thanked Iran for its full support of the Iraqi people during the foreign invasion of the country and also during the onslaught by the Daesh (also knows as ISIL or ISIS) terrorist group.

Al-Abasi noted that Baghdad will not let opportunistic people threaten and destabilize the borders between the two countries.

He also spoke about Iran’s support for Iraq in tough times, calling for the continuation of this backing during the reconstruction period.

Since late September, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has launched a series of aerial operations on the headquarters of terrorist groups in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region. The military operation came after the illegal entry of armed teams linked with the Kurdish terrorist groups into the Iranian border cities in recent months.

The Permanent Mission of Iran to the UN has announced that diplomacy has failed to bring an end to the presence of terrorists in Kurdistan region and the terror activities in the Arab country has left Tehran with no other option but to use military force against them.

In mid-October, the Permanent Mission of Iran to the UN sent a letter to the head of the Security Council to elaborate on Tehran’s reasons for its recent military operation against terrorist groups in Northern Iraq, explaining that terrorists have used Iraqi territory to carry out armed attacks against civilians and Iran's infrastructure.

The IRGC Ground Force has announced that the operations against terror bases will continue until all anti-Iran separatist and terrorist outfits holed up in the rugged mountainous area lay down their arms and surrender.

The Iranian Armed Forces, specially the IRGC, have repeatedly warned that they will never tolerate the presence and activity of terrorist groups along the Northwestern border and will give strong and decisive responses in case of anti-security activities.

The IRGC has on countless occasions attacked and destroyed terrorist hideouts in the Kurdistan region with artillery fire, missiles and drones.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Israeli-American motorist killed in West Bank after settlers rampage against Palestinians

February 28, 2023

HAWARA, West Bank: Suspected Palestinian gunmen killed an Israeli-American motorist in the occupied West Bank on Monday after Jewish settlers rampaged through a Palestinian village in a burst of violence that defied US efforts to prod the sides to cooperate on security.

Israeli officials said in the latest incident Palestinians carried out several drive-by shootings on a highway near Jericho, killing an Israeli in his car before fleeing. The US State Department said the person killed was also a US citizen.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility by any Palestinian groups. The State Department did not identify the person killed.

Israel reinforced its West Bank garrisons after two brothers from a Jewish settlement were shot dead on Sunday, triggering the rampage by settlers in which a Palestinian was killed, scores were hurt and dozens of cars and homes were torched.

With the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and Jewish Passover festival weeks away, foreign mediators have sought to tamp down tensions that surged after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regained power at the head of a hard-right coalition.

The events cast doubt on Netanyahu’s ability to walk a diplomatic tightrope between Washington — pushing for a lasting compromise — and his own cabinet that includes hard-line settlers demanding tough action against Palestinian attacks.

At a regular briefing for reporters, State Department spokesperson Ned Price condemned attacks by both sides and welcomed statements by Netanyahu calling for a cessation to what Price described as “vigilante violence” by settlers.

“We expect the Israeli government to ensure full accountability and legal prosecution of those responsible for these attacks, in addition to compensation for the lost homes and property,” Price said.

On Sunday, Jordan, with US envoys, hosted a rare meeting where Israeli and Palestinian officials pledged a slowdown in Jewish settlement announcements by the Netanyahu government and reaffirmed past peace accords.

Diplomacy stalled in 2014. Israel now rules out West Bank handovers to the Palestinians, who are themselves divided between the internationally-backed administration of President Mahmoud Abbas and Islamists opposed to peacemaking.

The Islamist militant Hamas said through its spokesman, Abdel-Latif Al-Qanoua, that Monday’s attack was a natural response to Israeli attacks.

“The crimes conducted by the occupation and the herds of settlers will not be met but with stabbing, shooting and car ramming,” Qanoua said in a statement.


“We expect difficult days ahead of us,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told reporters as he toured the largely empty streets of the village of Hawara, site of Sunday’s violence, under a heavy security detail.

Abbas blamed the Israeli government for the Hawara rampage.

Lamar Abusarees, a 10-year-old Palestinian girl, said her house was among those set alight by settlers: “My mother moved us to a corner because there was no safe place, they broke all the windows while we were inside.”

Israeli police said they had arrested two people for the rampage. In parliament, Netanyahu said security forces were closing in on the gunman who had killed the Israeli brothers.

Four extra army battalions and two border police companies were posted to the West Bank since Sunday as reinforcements, the Israeli military said.

“I call on everyone to restore calm,” Gallant said. “We cannot allow a situation in which citizens take the law into their hands.”

Source: Arab News

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Muslim Rights Concern: Think More of Nigeria – Islamic Group Tells Politicians

February 27, 2023

By Don Silas

The Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, has appealed to candidates of political parties to think more of Nigeria as the nation awaits the results of Saturday’s elections.

The group’s Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, made the call in a statement issued in Lagos on Monday.

Akintola appealed to all candidates to avoid inflammatory statements and to demonstrate faith in Nigeria’s electoral system.

The statement read, “Nigerians went to the polls on Saturday, Feb. 25, to pick their 16th president, senators and representatives.

“As of today, Monday, Feb. 27, the results are still coming in trickles.

“But already, there have been pockets of violence in a few places around the country, although this hasn’t been widespread, and they have been contained.

“MURIC appeals to all candidates in the 2023 general elections to think more of Nigeria now and in the next few weeks.”

Source: Daily Post Nigeria

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UN Libya envoy to launch new effort to break stalemate

27 February ,2023

The UN Libya envoy will launch a new initiative to enable elections this year with the formation of a high-level steering committee, he said on Monday, attempting to break a year-long stalemate that has risked renewed conflict.

Addressing the UN Security Council, Abdoulaye Bathily said the panel would bring together representatives of political institutions, other political and tribal leaders, civil society groups, security officials and others.

“Libya’s political class is going through a major legitimacy crisis. One could say that most institutions lost their legitimacy years ago,” he said, referring to the need for elections.

Libya has had little peace since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted Muammar Gaddafi and it split in 2014 between rival eastern and western factions, with the last major bout of conflict ending in 2020 with a ceasefire.

However, the political process to resolve the conflict has been stalled since the collapse of a scheduled election in December 2021 over disputes about the rules including the eligibility of major candidates.

The eastern-based parliament, the House of Representatives, has meanwhile said the interim unity government, installed through a UN-backed process in early 2021, was no longer valid and it set up a rival administration last year.

However, the government refused to step down until there are elections and attempts by armed groups aligned with the rival administration to dislodge it from Tripoli by force have failed.

Talks since last year have focused on trying to get the two Libyan legislative bodies that are internationally recognized to agree on constitutional rules that would allow an election to take place.

The House of Representatives, which was elected in 2014 to a four-year term, has unilaterally issued a constitutional amendment but without support from the High State Council, which emerged from an earlier parliament elected in 2012.

Bathily said the House of Representatives’ constitutional amendment was controversial in Libya, did not address contentious issues such as candidate eligibility and did not include a timeline for elections.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Nigeria's opposition Labour Party wins Lagos stronghold of ruling party

Olanrewaju Kola, Ibrahim Shuaibu and Hassan Isilow  



In Nigeria's presidential poll, the opposition Labour Party has won Lagos state, a stronghold of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) party, election authorities announced Monday.

The Labour presidential candidate, Peter Obi, scored 582,454 votes, ahead of Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the APC who got 577,606, said the Independent National Electoral Commission’s Adenike Oladiji.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came in third in the country's commercial hub, the official said. No winner is expected before Tuesday at the earliest.

Obi's surprise lead has been attributed to the strength of the youth vote and support from his kinsmen.

"Lagos is a cosmopolitan state with a mix of different people. The unpopular policies of the ruling APC government and voting from the Igbos, Obi's kinsmen, gave him the lead," Segun Adeoye, a Lagos resident, told Anadolu.

At 61, Obi is the youngest in the three-way contest in the Feb. 25 presidential election.

The former two-time governor of Anambra, a state in southeastern Nigeria, had been polling strongly in the runup to the general elections, with some surveys projecting him as the winner.

But he also has a hurdle of a clear win in 25 of the 36 states of the federation in fulfillment of the country's electoral law.

The ruling party has also lost the large voting population in the Kano, Katsina and Osun states.

3 main contenders

More than 93 million people were registered to vote for a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari and lawmakers for both the House of Representatives and Senate.

The race for president has narrowed down to three serious contenders: veteran politicians Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar, and new challenger Obi.

Tinubu, 70, is from Buhari’s ruling APC and previously served as a senator and governor of Lagos.

Abubakar, a 76-year-old businessman who was Nigeria’s vice-president from 1999 to 2007, is the candidate for the main opposition PDP, his record sixth shot at the top office.

Saturday’s voting, though marked by delays, was largely peaceful.

There were, however, reports of sporadic violence, with at least two people killed in an attack on an election office of a New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) candidate.

In Lagos, police said unidentified people armed with knives and sticks attacked polling stations and officials.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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