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Islamic World News ( 26 Jul 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Taliban Urge Hindus, Sikhs to Return, Claim Security Issues "Solved": Office of Chief of Staff, Afghanistan

New Age Islam News Bureau

26 July 2022


Sikh leaders thanked the Taliban for preventing the terror attack on Gurdwara in Kabul.


• Pakistani Ulema, Led By Known Religious Scholar Mufti Taqi Usman, Look To Prevail Upon Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan during Kabul Visit

• Somnath Mahadeva Temple Fair Tender Awarded To Muslim, VHP Objects Citing ‘Religious Sentiments’

• Malaysia Will Not Compromise With Those Insulting Islam: Minister Religious Affairs

• YouTube Removes Inconsistent With Islamic and Saudi Societal Standards Ads upon Request By Saudi Arabia Regulators


South Asia

• 1.5 million Afghans chose to stay back in Pakistan after US Pull-out

• Taliban Intelligence Arrests a Salam Watandar Radio Correspondent in Northern Afghanistan

• Taliban Optimistic ahead of Int’l Conference on Afghanistan

• UN official visits Central Afghanistan’s Bamyan Province

• Two Children Killed in a Mortar Shell Explosion in Central Afghanistan

• After Taliban nod, Afghan men ready to mount a challenge



• Pakistan: PML-N leader Maryam criticizes Supreme Court judges

• Pak Army denies playing role in the country’s politics

• President Alvi reiterates offer for online, virtual education to Afghan students

• Army vows to hunt down terrorists, ensure security

• Officials discuss steps to boost Pak-Afghan trade

• Pak govt coalition to boycott Supreme Court proceedings in Punjab CM election case



• After Modi Directive, BJP Looks To Include This Muslim Community in Its OBC Morcha

• Mathura Court Accepts Revision Plea in Krishna Janmabhoomi-Shahi Idgah Mosque Case

• Congress MLA Zameer Ahmed Khan's 'Muslims outnumber Vokkaligas' comment stirs controversy in Karnataka

• UP Police Arrests 2 After Woman Says She Was 'Hired' to Accuse Muslim Man of 'Love Jihad', Rape

• India condemns killings in Iraq by Turkish forces

• Over 500 Govt Schools In Bihar Observe Friday As Off For Years


Southeast Asia

• In Johor, mother breathes sigh of relief after son who went missing for 10 months buried today

• Mistake in photo caption inspired book on history of Singapore's Malabar Muslims

• Anwar Ibrahim advocates ‘neutral’ Malaysia amid great power rivalry in Asia-Pacific


Arab World

• Al-Maliki Audio Leaks Hold Clues to Iraq’s Failed Process of Government Formation

• Syria’s Kurds Repatriate Nearly 150 Isis-Linked Tajiki Women and Children

• Mohammed Shia al-Sudani nominated for Iraqi premiership

• Syrian National Army thwarts infiltration bid by YPG/PKK terrorists

• Nasrallah: No Israeli target out of reach of Hezbollah missiles

• Syria supports collective Arab initiatives, attaches great importance to practicalities: President Assad

• Saudi Arabia reports three cases of monkeypox, all coming from Europe

• How NEOM’s The Line aims to achieve harmony between urban development and preservation of nature in Saudi Arabia



• Iran: Saudi Crown Prince Showing Willingness to Official Talks with Tehran

• Saudi-Led Coalition Will Be Hurled Into Dustbin of History, Yemeni Defence Minister Says

• Iran Says Will Keep IAEA Cameras Turned Off Until Nuclear Deal Is Restored

• IRGC Aerospace Commander: Iran Plans to Orbit another Satellite on Back of New Carrier

• FM Aide Urges UN to Terminate Yemen's Economic Siege

• Iran says it won’t be rushed by Western powers into ‘quick’ nuclear deal

• Turkey’s Erdogan says he will buy more oil, gas from Iran



• UN: Libya Is ‘Highly Volatile’ and Elections Are Needed Soon

• Trial Of Man Charged In Killing Of Muslim Family In London, Ont., To Be Held In Different City

• Italy Opens Humanitarian Corridor for 300 Afghan Refugees

• Russian FM Lavrov reassures Cairo Egypt will receive purchased Russian grain ‘in full’



• Don’t Complain About Muslim-Muslim Ticket – Yoruba Muslim Scholars Tell Nigerians

• Tunisians back new constitution but turnout just 25 percent, exit poll says

• Only 25% of registered voters took part in Tunisian referendum: Polling institute

• Egypt warns of Ethiopia’s unilateral steps regarding Nile dam


North America

• Lawmakers Urge Biden To Seek Muslim Attorney Asim Ghafoor’s Release

• US's Blinken presses peace in calls with Armenian, Azerbaijani leaders

• US sneaks 156-vehicle convoy out of its illegal Syria base

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Taliban Urge Hindus, Sikhs to Return, Claim Security Issues "Solved": Office of Chief of Staff, Afghanistan


Sikh leaders thanked the Taliban for preventing the terror attack on Gurdwara in Kabul.


July 26, 2022

Kabul: The Taliban claimed that the security situation in Afghanistan has been solved and urged its minorities - Hindus and Sikhs to return back to the country.

The assertion comes after the Director General of the Office of the Minister of State of the Taliban, Dr Mullah Abdul Wasi met with a number of members of the Hindu and Sikh Council of Afghanistan on July 24th, tweeted the Office of Chief of Staff, Afghanistan.

Wasi met with a delegation of Hindu and Sikh leaders in Kabul and reminded all Indian and Sikh compatriots who left the country due to security problems can now return to Afghanistan as security has been established in the country.

As per the Taliban release, Sikh leaders thanked the Taliban for preventing the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) attack on Gurudwara in Kabul.

On June 18, Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) attacked Karte Parwan Gurudwara in Kabul. During the deadly attack two people, including a Sikh, lost their lives.

According to sources, around 25 to 30 people were present inside the Gurudwara complex for their morning prayers when the attackers entered the premises. Around 10-15 people managed to escape but the Gurdwara's guard, identified as Ahmad, was killed by the assailants.

Religious minorities in Afghanistan, including the Sikh community, have been targets of violence in Afghanistan.

In October, last year 15 to 20 terrorists entered a Gurdwara in the Kart-e-Parwan District of Kabul and tied up the guards.

In March 2020, a deadly attack took place at Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib Gurudwara in Kabul's Short Bazaar area in which 27 Sikhs were killed and several were injured. Islamic State terrorists claimed responsibility for the attack.

Meanwhile, the Taliban-led Afghanistan government has decided to renovate Gurdwara Karte Parwan in Kabul which suffered damage in a terror attack.

Sources reveal that a high-level delegation from the Ministry of Interior (MoI) paid several visits to Gurudwara to express their condolences to the families of the victims.

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A technical team was also assigned to assess the level of damage caused to the last remaining functioning Sikh Gurudwara in the capital city. It is revealed that the government will spend a sum of 7.5 million Afghani to renovate the building.

Source: ND TV

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Pakistani Ulema, Led By Known Religious Scholar Mufti Taqi Usman, Look To Prevail Upon Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan during Kabul Visit


The Ulema delegation will hold meetings with TTP representatives and with the Afghan Taliban govt officials in order to take the peace process forward. Photo: Express


July 26, 2022

PESHAWAR: An eight-member delegation of Pakistani Ulema, led by known religious scholar Mufti Taqi Usman, reached Kabul on Monday for talks with senior leaders of Afghanistan’s interim government, in a bid to persuade leaders of the proscribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to further extend their ceasefire with Islamabad.

Senior Taliban officials and Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan Mansour Ahmad Khan, received the delegation at the Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul. Video footage released by the Afghan Taliban showed the delegation receiving a warm welcome upon their arrival.

Head of Wafaqul Madaris Al-Arabia Qari Hanif Jalandhari and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) Senator Talha Mahmood were also part of the delegation. Sources said that senior officials briefed members of the delegation in Islamabad before their departure for Kabul.

Sources said the ulema would also meet TTP leaders during their stay in Kabul and would try to convince them to soften their stance and extend the ceasefire. The proscribed organisation’s commanders, including their chief Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud, have been in the Afghan capital for talks with the Pakistani officials.

Mufti Taqi Usmani-led delegation hopes senior Afghan Taliban leaders can convince TTP to ‘soften stance’

Before this, a 57-member jirga, consisting of elders from various Pakhtun tribes from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, had last visited Kabul in June and met TTP commanders, but their talks remained fruitless. Sources said the ulema would also seek assistance from senior members of the interim Taliban government to pressurise the TTP into making the ceasefire effective and softening their pre-conditions for talks.

One of the main demands of the outfit is the reversal of the merger of erstwhile Fata with the settled areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, something that the government has already termed ‘non-negotiable’.

“Our demands are very clear and especially the reversal of Fata with KP is our primary demand which the group cannot back down from,” said Noor Wali Mehsud, during an interview with a YouTuber in Kabul in June.

The TTP had announced ceasefire for an indefinite period before Eidul Fitr. Despite this, Pakistani security forces have come under frequent attack, particularly in the volatile Waziristan districts. Attacks on the security forces from the Afghan side have also increased in this time.

Source: Dawn

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Somnath Mahadeva Temple Fair Tender Awarded To Muslim, VHP Objects Citing ‘Religious Sentiments’


VHP objected to tender to Muslim for Somnath Mahadev Temple fair Bilimora (Image: YouTube/Jaymin Patel)


July 26, 2022

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Monday demanded the withdrawal of a tender issued to a Muslim individual to set up play rides for children at the Somnath Mahadeva Temple fair in Billimora town of Navsari saying it will “hurt religious sentiments of lakhs of devotees”. However, the temple trust said the issue has been resolved after a meeting with the VHP.

The trust had issued the tender to Mumbai-based Anwar Sheikh for Rs 46 lakh and the construction of shops (tents) and children’s play area has already commenced in the campus.

Leaders and members from the right-wing outfit Monday were at the Somnath Mahadev Temple trustee office and warned of protests if the authorities fail to act on the demand.

“This is for the first time a Mumbai-based firm has filled the tender for children’s rides while other two tenders have been given to Hindus,” Hiren Shah, VHP Billimora president, told The Indian Express. He added that VHP teams will keep “secret” vigil at the fair and “if any objectionable act is found, we will take it seriously”.

The matter was resolved after the temple trust held a meeting with the VHP, the political leaders of Billimora and the police. “We have come out with a solution that the tender cannot be cancelled currently, but will take guarantee from the people (contractor) that they will not eat meat inside the campus or will offer prayers. From next time, we will think of issuing the tenders. We have also presented our problems before the VHP after which they agreed,” said temple trustee Shiva Patel.

The fair, which is being held during the Shravan month and attracts thousands of devotees, especially from South Gujarat, is being held after a gap of two years.

Source: Indian Express

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Malaysia Will Not Compromise With Those Insulting Islam: Minister Religious Affairs


Datuk Ahmad Marzuk Shaary. - NSTP/ NIK ABDULLAH NIK OMAR


By Sharifah Mahsinah Abdullah

July 23, 2022

KOTA BARU: The government will not compromise when the sanctity of Islam is insulted by individuals or certain parties, says Datuk Ahmad Marzuk Shaary.

The Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) said court action would be taken against anyone attempting to disrupt society.

"There is no good thing that comes out from insulting Islam, except that the provocations could lead to untoward incidents."

Ahmad Marzuk said this after launching the Quran Hour programme, organised by Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia (Yadim) at Pengkalan Chepa today.

He said the recent charges made against those who allegedly insulted Islam would serve as a lesson to others on the severity of the offence.

Ahmad Marzuk said the current law was adequate to punish the offenders.

He was referring to the two individuals in the state who were charged with insulting Islam.

Source: NST

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YouTube Removes Inconsistent With Islamic and Saudi Societal Standards Ads upon Request by Saudi Arabia Regulators


Silhouettes of laptop and mobile device users are seen next to a screen projection of the YouTube logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. (File Photo: Reuters)


25 July, 2022

YouTube removed certain offensive advertisements which were described as inconsistent with Islamic and Saudi societal standards upon the request of media regulators in Saudi Arabia, Arabic news media Bloomberg Asharq reported on Monday, citing a YouTube spokesperson.

A spokesperson from YouTube told the broadcaster that accounts of the advertisers who broadcasted the offensive content had been shut down.

“Protecting society is one of the platform’s top priorities in Saudi Arabia and around the world,” the spokesperson told Bloomberg Asharq. “Last year, Google removed more than 286 million advertisements from its platform globally due to the promotion of adult content that were inconsistent with its policies, and another 125.6 million advertisements for inappropriate content.”

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM) and the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) released a statement demanding the Google-owned video-sharing platform remove the offensive advertisements.

The watchdogs warned YouTube that if the offensive content continued to be broadcast, they will take necessary legal measures against it.

“As confirmation from the General Authority for Audiovisual Media and the Communications and Information Technology Commission on the commitment of the various digital content platforms to the controls and regulations in force in the Kingdom, and based on the follow-up, it was noted that the YouTube platform (affiliated with Google) displayed advertisements directed at users in the Kingdom that included broadcasting content that conflicts with Islamic and societal values and principles and are in violation of the media content controls in the Kingdom and the policy of the YouTube platform,” the authority’s statement said.

“Accordingly, the Audiovisual Media Commission and the Communications and Information Technology Commission have requested the YouTube platform (affiliated with Google) to remove these ads and comply with the regulations, and their commitment will be monitored, and in the event that the violating content continues to be broadcast, the necessary legal measures will be taken in accordance with the two communications and audio-visual regulations.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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South Asia


1.5 million Afghans chose to stay back in Pakistan after US Pull-out

Amin Ahmed

July 26, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan remains the largest refugee-hosting country in Asia and the Pacific as 1.5 million Afghans still prefer to stay in this country, even though one year has elapsed since the US forces beat a hasty retreat from Kabul.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a report released on Monday that the number of refugees in Asia-Pacific region grew by 138,400 last year and now stood at 4.2m, or 19 per cent, of the global refugee population. This represents a three per cent increase over 2020.

By Dec 2021, the “Documentation Renewal and Information Verification Exercise” (DRIVE) found there were 1,252,800 registered Afghans, carrying “proof of registration” (PoR) cards, in Pakistan.

A further 129,700 unregistered members of registered families (UMRFs) were awaiting verification at the time of reporting.

According to official estimates, some 250,000 Afghans had entered Pakistan since Aug 2021.

Bangladesh is the second-largest host country with 918,900 refugees, followed by Iran, with 798,300 refugees.

China has over 304,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, over 303,000 Vietnamese among them.

According to the report, 95 per cent of the refugees in Asia Pacific region reside in developing (low- and middle-income) countries, while high-income countries host only five per cent of the displaced persons.

Impact on host nation

Comparing the size of the refugee population with that of the host country, gives a measure of the impact of hosting refugees and the scale of burden.

The number of refugees per 1,000 de facto inhabitants — a Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) complementary indicator — gives a perspective of the scale of burden in host countries.

The Afghan refugee population continues to be the largest in the region and the third largest globally, with 2.7 million refugees hosted by 98 countries.

The numbers grew by almost five per cent (118,000) in 2021, driven by new outflows to neighbouring countries: Pakistan (108,000) and Iran (27,800), as well as newly registered births and new recognitions in Europe (59,100) and Asia-Pacific (6,000).

Myanmar is the second-largest country of origin of refugees in Asia-Pacific and the fifth largest in the world. In 2021, the number of refugees grew by seven percent (73,800) to reach 1.2 million, with more than three quarters of them hosted by Bangladesh.

The increase in 2021 was primarily due to the registration of new births, including the backlog from 2020, as registration resumed after remaining suspended for two years on account of Covid-19.

The number of people displaced inside their own countries due to armed conflict or human rights violations continued to grow in 2021.

By the end of 2021, there were 4.4 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the region, a 23 per cent increase compared to the end of 2020.

Source: Dawn

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Taliban Intelligence Arrests a Salam Watandar Radio Correspondent in Northern Afghanistan

By Saqalain Eqbal

25 Jul 2022

According to local sources in the northern Afghan province of Faryab, the Taliban’s intelligence detained Alauddin Erkin, a radio host and senior reporter for Salam Watandar.

Taliban intelligence in the province of Faryab, according to the Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC), has interrogated a local journalist. In a tweet, AFJC reported that Maimana, the provincial district of Faryab, saw the arrest of Salam Watandar’s senior reporter this morning at around 10:30.

According to Salam Watandar, Talha, the Taliban’s deputy intelligence officer in Faryab province, arrested Alauddin Erkin, one of the local journalists for this outlet.

Salam Watandar reported that the intelligence forces made no mention of the cause or intent behind the detention of Alauddin Erkin.

Selagi Ehsaas, a female host of Dost Radio in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar, was beaten almost days ago until she passed out at the time.

In reaction to this, the AFJC voiced concern and condemned the intensification of violence and pressure on journalists.

On July 20, as Ehsaas was returning from work in Moi Mubarak village of Surkh Rod district, Nangarhar province, unidentified gunmen stopped her and pistol-whipped her.

Source: Khaama Press

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Taliban Optimistic ahead of Int’l Conference on Afghanistan

By Arif Ahmadi

26 Jul 2022

KABUL, Afghanistan – The Tashkent conference on Afghanistan is delayed by one day, according to the Islamic Emirate spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, saying acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Amir Khan Muttaqi will be heading a delegation to participate in the event Tuesday.

The international conference that was originally scheduled for July 25-26 aims to facilitate approaches for international communities to better engage in diplomatic relation with Afghanistan, as well as promote peace and security in the country.

Speaking to reporters in Uzbekistan, Muttaqi said the Islamic Emirate government is ready to engage with all countries, expecting a positive outcome that would benefit not only Afghanistan and its people but also global economy.

“We are ready to have engagement with the world countries,” he said, as TOLOnews quoted. “The Islamic Emirate has control all over Afghanistan and we call on the world to engage politically and economically.”

“Our engagement with other countries is a good,” said Bilal Karimi, deputy spokesman for the Islamic Emirate. “One example is the Tashkent conference which shows Afghanistan has no problem in engaging with the world countries.”

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry of Uzbekistan said July’s event on Afghanistan follows the previous two conferences held over the past four years to end war and ensure peace and stability in the country.

The US Department of State in a statement said special envoys Thomas West and Rina Amiri will attend the conference in Tashkent, adding its delegation will urge the Taliban government to act upon the Doha agreement signed during the peace negotiation.

“During the conference, the U.S. delegation will join the international community to underscore our unwavering support for the Afghan people and to call on the Taliban to fulfill their commitments to the Afghan people and the international community,” the statement said.

“The international community is committed to a stable, peaceful, and inclusive Afghanistan that respects the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Afghans – including women and ethnic and religious communities – and that prevents terrorist threats from Afghan soil.”

The conference will be attended by representatives of Russia, European Union, the United States, People’s Republic of China, the United Kingdom, Japan, Iran, Pakistan and multiple other Asian countries.

What to Expect from the Two-Day Conference on Afghanistan?

Uzbekistan government will host a tow-day conference on Afghanistan on July 26-27, where delegations from more than 20 countries will participate.

“The main goal of the event is to develop a set of measures and proposals for the approaches of the world community to promote stability, security, post-conflict reconstruction in Afghanistan and its integration into regional cooperation processes in the interests of the multinational Afghan people and the whole world,” a statement by the country’s foreign minister reads.

Analysts believe “the attention of the world has been distracted,” saying international community plays vital role on Afghanistan’s overall growth, including political and economic sectors, and so they should not let the country be isolated from the rest of the world.

“The world is responsible to play an important role regarding Afghanistan in its economic field to prevent Afghanistan from being side-lined and the collapse of the political and economic systems,” said Wali Froozan, an economist, as local media reported.

Highlighting the agenda of the event, Nazak Meer Ziyarmal, an economist, said Afghan railway line that connects Kabul to neighboring Pakistan will be one of the main topics during the two-day conference in Uzbekistan.

“In the economic area, the humanitarian aid, transit, unfinished projects of Uzbekistan in Afghanistan, particularly the railway to Kabul and from Kabul to Peshawar, will be the main agendas of the conference,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Emirate officials said its delegation led by the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Amir Khan Muttaqi will participate in the conference, discussing joint-venture and bilateral ties among the other key topics.

“Following an official invitation of Uzbekistan, a delegation led by Amir Khan Muttaqi and comprised of members of ministries and sectorial organizations will attend and the Islamic Emirate will express its needs,” said Bilal Karimi, deputy spokesman for the Islamic Emirate.

The Kabul delegation “will also meet with several others on the side-lines of the conference,” he added.

The announcement came at a time the Taliban leadership has been repeatedly denied of formal recognition though at least five countries maintained their diplomatic ties with the group.

Source: Khaama Press

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UN official visits Central Afghanistan’s Bamyan Province

26 July, 2022

Kabul [Afghanistan], July 26 (ANI): As murders, and repression of women are on the rise in Afghanistan under Taliban, the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Markus Potzel, paid a visit to the central Afghan province of Bamyan, to meet the local authorities to discuss the importance of inclusive representation in the country.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Acting Head, stressed the importance of inclusive representation, in addition to the discussion on decision-making, as per the UNAMA’s news tweet on July 25, Khaama Press reported.

Markus Potzel of Germany was appointed as the Deputy UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative (Political) for Afghanistan on 17th June after Deborah Lyons’s tenure came to an end in mid-June.

During his visit to Bamyan, Potzel met the women, civil society, and representatives of the local People’s Consultative Commission. This is UNAMA senior official’s third official trip to the province following his visits to Khost and Nangarhar provinces.

Reiterating that the Taliban should reconsider their decision on the issue of girls’ education, he stated that international assistance to Afghanistan will continue, keeping in mind the humanitarian crisis the country is facing.

He said, “Girls should go to school and even above grade six and should enjoy the same educational opportunities as boys.”

As UNAMA has previously voiced concern in a report on the human rights situation in Afghanistan and accused the Taliban of pervasive human rights violations, it is reported that Potzel is going to submit a report on the state of the people and the human rights following his provincial visits, reported Khaama Press.

Earlier, UN officials have raised concern over the general amnesty granted to former officials and security forces, noting that the Human Rights Service of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) continues to receive credible reports of arbitrary arrests and detention, ill-treatment and extra-judicial killings.

UNAMA also continues to record the impact of attacks on civilians, including in schools, at markets and on public transportation networks.

Notably, the Taliban made tall promises of equality and inclusive society, during a press conference when they took over control of Afghanistan in August last year.

But the plight of Afghan women has continued to be deplorable in the state.

Contrary to the Taliban’s claims, girls were stopped from going to school beyond a sixth grade on March 23 and a decree against the women’s dress code was issued after a month.

There are restrictions on movement, education and freedom of expression of women posing a threat to their survival.

Not only this, but the Taliban has prevented women from using smartphones, and the Women’s Affair Ministry often extort money for providing essential protection.

The lack of female healthcare workers has prevented the women from accessing basic medical facilities, and the international donors, who fund 90 per cent of health clinics, are hesitant to send money because of their fear of the funds being misused.

Source: The Print

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Two Children Killed in a Mortar Shell Explosion in Central Afghanistan

By Saqalain Eqbal

25 Jul 2022

A remnant of war, an unexploded mortar shell, which exploded on Monday, 25th July, killed at least two children in the central Afghan province of Uruzgan.

Agha Wali Quraishi, the Taliban’s spokesman for the police chief office in Uruzgan province confirmed the veracity of the explosion of an unexploded mortar shell, which killed two children in Shish Par village of Uruzgan’s Khas district.

The explosion of unexploded remnants of war across Afghanistan has increased in recent months, primarily killing and wounding children.

A mortar shell explosion in late May, in the northern province of Kunduz, killed 2 children and injured one other, while the same incident in the same province in early June killed one child.

In late May, the detonation of a mortar shell in Ghazni province in central Afghanistan took the life of a child and permanently disabled another.

Due to decades of conflict, a large portion of Afghanistan’s land surface is covered in mines and explosives.

Almost 606 square kilometers of Afghan land is polluted with mines and explosives, according to the Taliban’s state minister for disaster management.

Source: Khaama Press

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After Taliban nod, Afghan men ready to mount a challenge

Jul 26, 2022

Chennai: The last time over-the-board chess Olympiad was held Batumi in 2018, Afghanistan had gone on to top in the open category of Group D. With Taliban taking over the country in August last year, there were apprehensions whether players would get the government nod to feature at the upcoming Olympiad. However, the Taliban government has given the green signal and players are expected to land here in the coming days. “The approval has come and the visas too have been issued,” a senior AICF official told TOI.

The move is interesting as Taliban has often considered chess as a form of gambling. Amini Habibullah, the highest rated player in the line-up, believes a strong show in the Olympiad will go a long way in reviving the spot in the country. “We have got the necessary permission from the government to play at the Olympiad. We are thankful to the government for having given the go-ahead to feature in the tournament,” Habibullah told TOI from Kabul. While men play the sport in Afghanistan, women aren't allowed to be part of it. That explains why Afghanistan isn't fielding a team in the women’s section. “One can only hope that the situation becomes better and we have a team in the women’s category too in future,” said Habibullah.

Source: Times Of India

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Pakistan: PML-N leader Maryam criticizes Supreme Court judges

25 July, 2022

Islamabad [Pakistan], July 25 (ANI): Criticizing the judges of the Supreme Court over the court’s verdict favouring Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the Punjab election case, Pakistan Muslim League-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz said that one wrong decision destroys all the cases.

According to ARY News, ahead of the hearing by the apex court on Parvez Elahi’s petition, PML-N Vice President said that said she can write the entire history of the judiciary, just one wrong decision destroys all the cases, if you make the right decision, no matter how much you are being criticized.

The PML-N said that when Hamza Shahbaz Sharif won the election, (PTI) took the petitions to the Supreme Court registry. On this, the registrar said, sit here and prepare the petition now.

“One or two judges, who have always been anti-PML-N and anti-government, they are repeatedly included in the bench,” she said.

Recalling the Senate chairman, Sadiq Sanjrani case, PML-N Vice President said that six votes were rejected in the election of Sadiq Sanjrani and when they approached the court it said that the speaker’s ruling cannot be challenged.

She said that now that Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari has ruled that the votes will not be counted against Chaudhry Shujaat’s will, the Supreme Court has summoned him, why? she asked.

The PML leader alleged that the interpretation of the constitution is changed by looking at the head of the party, if the head of the party is Nawaz Sharif, then a decision like Iqama is issued against him. It was said that the head of the party does everything, now if Chaudhry Shujaat as the president gives any orders to the party, the interpretation is different.

Earlier, Jamiat Ulema-e Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said that he is party to the petition filed by the Opposition against the ruling of Pakistan Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari.

It is pertinent to mention that Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) leader Parvez Elahi, was the contender to Punjab Chief Minister’s post and was the joint candidate of PML-Q and former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s political party PTI.

The petition has been filed by Parvez Elahi against the ruling of Pakistan Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari.

Pakistan Supreme Court has summoned Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari for citing Article 63A of the Constitution and not counting the votes of defecting lawmakers as well as electing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hamza Shahbaz as Punjab Chief Minister.

Addressing a press conference, the JUI-F chief said he would move a petition with the Supreme Court to become a party in the case, the Dawn reported

The announcement comes after the Supreme Court announced its verdict over Punjab’s by-election

The political battle between opposition and coalition partners intensified over the controversial Punjab CM poll which saw Hamza Shahbaz retaining the chief minister’s post on technical grounds.

According to the Punjab Assembly deputy speaker, Hamza received 179 votes whereas Chaudhry Pervez Elahi garnered 176 votes, but only after 10 votes of Elahi’s own party were not counted, which turned the tables in Hamza’s favor.

Source: The Print

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Pak Army denies playing role in the country’s politics

26 July, 2022

Islamabad [Pakistan], July 25 (ANI): The Pakistan Army’s public denial of playing any role in the country’s politics comes unprecedented as the army has been involved in “peace talks” with the rebellious Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) previously for the “national security” perspective.

Since the government and parliament abdicated their respective roles and powers in Pakistan, the country did not pay any heed to strengthen either democracy or the military. Moreover, the assurances by the military and the government, that the talks would be within the constitutional norms appear to have gone missing, reported Islam Khabar.

Furthermore, it also becomes difficult to determine whether the army needs to be envied or pitied as its current chief of staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, was named directly, earlier by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and now, by Imran Khan. The new highlight to it comes by using pejorative terms like ‘neutrals’, a word that the army’s public relations have repeatedly used to demonstrate that it has no favourites among the politicians, parties and alliances and has now become the favourite of Khan and his supporters.

According to Islam Khabar, there is discernible wavering in Army’s approach to the political muddle as it has helped create, originally, by getting Nawaz Sharif to resign in 2016 after a questionable Supreme Court verdict in a corruption case.

The second rung of the army’s senior brass is keen to give Khan another chance, as it dislikes the established, family-driven PPP and PML (N).

The army’s dilemma also lies in how to bell the economic cat and how the prices are skyrocketing in Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) dictating decisions has become a massive reason of burden on the masses. Financial bailout from other friendly countries is also at bay as an early election is bound to send Pakistan in a tail spin.

Source: The Print

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President Alvi reiterates offer for online, virtual education to Afghan students

July 25, 2022

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi Monday reiterated Pakistan’s offer to provide virtual and online education facilities to the Afghan students through the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) and the Virtual University of Pakistan (VUP).

Talking to Mufti Taqi Usmani, after being informed that Mufti Sahib was going to Afghanistan for discussions with the leadership, the president said since Afghanistan did not possess nationwide internet connectivity, therefore, initially the education materials of AIOU and VUP could be communicated to the Afghan students, both male and female, through its television network.

The offer was made when the Afghan minister of education had visited the president and said that higher education was in dire straits in Afghanistan, the President Secretariat Press Wing said in a press release.

On various occasions, the president had communicated the Government of Pakistan’s offers of providing online and virtual education facilities to Afghanistan during his meetings with the Afghan ambassador and counsel generals, and with other Afghan government leadership, directly or indirectly, through his interaction with them.

The president said the government and the state of Pakistan believed in providing equal educational opportunities for women, at par with its male population.

“Iqra in Quran is for all Muslims and is not gender specific,” he added.

He further said that keeping in view the specific socio-political concerns of Afghanistan, women could be imparted education by making special arrangements as deemed appropriate and as was initially pledged by the current Afghan leadership.

He said Islam emphasized upon imparting education to all without making any distinction between the men and the women.

He further observed that if Afghanistan was taking measures to provide education to its female population according to its own preferences, then the far-reaching initiative should also be properly publicized through all channels of media and communication tools to rest of the world to allay their concerns in that regard.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Army vows to hunt down terrorists, ensure security

Baqir Sajjad Syed

July 26, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The army’s top brass on Monday vowed to hunt down the terrorists involved in recent terrorism incidents and ensure security in the country.

The resolve was expre­ssed at the 249th Corps Com­manders Conference held at the General Head­qua­rters, whose agenda was dominated by a review of the border and internal security.

The meeting was chaired by Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa.

Corps Commanders’ Conferences have traditionally been a monthly feature at GHQ in which army’s operational and training matters are discussed, besides reviewing the security environment. However, this edition of the conference was held after an extraordinary break of over four months. The previous conference was held on March 15.

During this period, two formation commanders’ con­ference, a bigger army for­um attended by field formations, were, however, held. The two conferences were held in quick succession with an unusually short interval of less than two months.

The latest corps commanders’ conference was held against the backdrop of growing attacks in Balochistan and erstwhile tribal areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“Forum took comprehensive review of the security situation with particular focus on Border and Internal Security,” the ISPR said.

Baloch fighters have stepped up attacks against security forces in Balochistan. In one recent such incident, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) abducted Lt Col Laeeq Baig Mirza in the mountainous Hernai district near Ziarat.

He was later assassinated by the abductors. It was a rare attack on an officer of his rank in the volatile Balochistan province and that too while travelling with his family.

Similarly, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Daesh and other militant organisations targeted security forces. Attacks on polio teams in North Waziristan and Khyber districts were also reported.

The attacks in erstwhile tribal areas of KP happened as security forces’ ceasefire with banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan held. It is believed that most of these attacks were undertaken by Gulbahadur group.

Peace talks between the military and TTP are, meanwhile, continuing in Afghanistan.

The army has responded to these attacks by carrying out intelligence-based operations against the militant groups.

“COAS lauded successful ongoing counter terrorism operations and paid rich tribute to the supreme sacrifices of officers and men to ensure security of borders and safety of masses,” the ISPR said.

Gen Bajwa recalled army’s relief efforts for mitigating sufferings of the people affected due to floods and heavy rains in the country.

“The forum reaffirmed resolve of armed forces to extend complete support to civil administration in rescue/rehabilitation activities,” the ISPR said.

Source: Dawn

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Officials discuss steps to boost Pak-Afghan trade

July 26, 2022

NORTH WAZIRISTAN: Senior officials from Pakistan and Afghanistan met in Ghulam Khan area of North Waziristan tribal district on Monday to discuss steps to facilitate smooth cross-border movement and trade activity between the two countries.

Officials said Army’s General Officer Commanding Maj-Gen Naeem Akhtar, deputy commissioner Shahid Ali Khan, Commandant Tochi Scouts Usman Haider, President North Waziristan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Qadeerullah Wazir, and officials of the customs collectorate represented the Pakistani side.

During the meeting, problems of traders from both the countries came under discussion and officials assured the traders of resolving them on priority.

Pakistani and Afghan officials and representatives of the business communities of the two countries had met in Kabul last week to discuss measures to boost cross-border trade and commercial activities.

In the Kabul meeting, officials had agreed to take steps for boosting bilateral trade by ensuring swift clearance of commodities. They had also decided to increase operational timings at all the border crossing points, including Ghulam Khan.

During the Monday’s meeting, the officials agreed to relax procedures to provide ease of travel to those crossing the border, including patients.
Source: Dawn

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Pak govt coalition to boycott Supreme Court proceedings in Punjab CM election case


26 July, 2022

Islamabad, Jul 26 (PTI) Pakistan’s coalition government has criticised the Supreme Court’s decision not to form a full bench to hear a key case related to the contentious election of the Punjab chief minister and announced that it would boycott the court proceedings.

On Monday the Supreme Court refused to form a full bench to hear a case related to the re-election of Hamza Shehbaz as the Chief Minister of Punjab province, saying it will have to hear more arguments before taking a decision on the issue.

Jamiat Ulema-I-IslamFazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman at a press conference in Islamabad said that the government lawyers recommended a full bench but the court instead of reflecting and accepting the advice, rejected it.

JUI-F is a coalition partner in the Pakistan government headed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

“The allies of all parties want to give a clear stance that if (our request for a) full court bench is rejected then we, too, reject this decision of the court. We will not appear before this bench for this case and will boycott it,” he said.

A three-member apex court bench comprising Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhter on Monday heard the main petition filed by Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who was the candidate for the chief minister’s slot.

Elahi secured 186 votes against 179 votes of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate Hamza but lost after Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari rejected 10 votes of his Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) lawmakers.

Mazari refused to count the vote after party chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain through a letter directed his party lawmakers to vote for Hamza, son of Prime Minister Sharif and PML-N president.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who is from the Pakistan People’s Party, reaffirmed the boycott call, saying that the demand for a full court was for the sake of the Constitution, democracy and the court’s own integrity.

“This case is about Parliament and when you are giving decisions about an institution, we think your entire institution should sit and decide,” he said.

“Had a full court listened to us then the entire country would’ve accepted your decision,” he added.

PML-N Vice President Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said it was a “test” for the apex court since it was a requirement of justice that a judge or bench recuse themselves from a case in which fingers were raised on them.

“This is done in every court in the world where there is rule of law and the Constitution,” he said.

Abbasi said the three judges of the existing bench had the responsibility to decide whether or not history would accept their conduct.

The coalition leaders met at the Prime Minister’s House after the Supreme Court’s decision on Monday.

Separately, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz also criticised the decision to reject the petition for the full bench.

Source: The Print

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After Modi directive, BJP looks to include this Muslim community in its OBC Morcha


26 July, 2022

New Delhi: The BJP is preparing to induct Pasmanda Muslims in its OBC (Other Backward Classes) Morcha following directions from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ThePrint has learnt.

While representation in the OBC Morcha doesn’t by itself guarantee the Pasmandas a voice in the party’s organisational matters, it’s important in terms of symbolism.   

According to a senior BJP leader, during the party’s national executive meeting held earlier this month, Modi had asked how many members of the Muslim community were part of the OBC Morcha.

“We do have some representation at the state level, but not at the national level. After the PM inquired about the involvement of the Pasmanda community, we have decided to induct members from the community in the OBC Morcha at the national level,” the party leader said.

The term ‘Pasmanda’ refers to OBC Muslims, comprising economically and socially backward members of the community. Pasmandas reportedly make up 80-85 per cent of India’s Muslim population.

Modi had earlier advised his party colleagues to reach out to other deprived sections among non-Hindus, such as Pasmanda Muslims, who are among the beneficiaries of various government welfare schemes.

“By giving a place to those backward castes of Muslims who have been marginalised politically, educationally and economically, we can give a message to the entire Pasmanda community that they are no longer a votebank for parties but are being considered important and significant enough to be given leadership positions,” Atif Rasheed, former vice-chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, told ThePrint.

“Linking them with BJP by giving them certain positions in the party, government or in commissions is a good step,” he added.

During the national executive meeting of the party that took place in Hyderabad on 2-3 July, the PM, sources said, had asked the party’s Uttar Pradesh unit to analyse the impact of the government’s policies on the Pasmanda community and develop a plan to have an outreach programme for them.

A second party functionary said that to ensure there is some representation of the Pasmanda community in the OBC Morcha, efforts are being made to make the appointments at the earliest.

“The upper-class Muslims have subjugated the Pasmanda community for years. They are the most deprived economically, and not much has been done for their welfare by previous governments. Not only do we want to give them a voice, but also uplift them,” added the functionary.

Previous attempts at Pasmanda outreach

The BJP had made Danish Ansari, who belongs to the Pasmanda community, a minister in the Yogi government in Uttar Pradesh, instead of Mohsin Raza, in an apparent attempt to reach out to the community.

Not only this, the chairpersons of the state minority commission and madarsa board also belong to the Pasmanda community.

This came after the BJP’s wins in the Lok Sabha bypolls to Azamgarh and Rampur — both of which have a sizeable Muslim population — last month.

Source: The Print

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Mathura Court Accepts Revision Plea in Krishna Janmabhoomi-Shahi Idgah Mosque Case

26 July, 2022

Hearing on maintainability of a plea seeking a survey of Shahi Idgah mosque could not take place on Monday as the court of additional district judge accepted a revision application of petitioners and asked the lower court to submit records related to the suit. “Additional District Judge (7th) Sanjay Chaudhary (in-charge district judge for appeal and revision) has fixed the next hearing for August 11," advocate Rajendra Maheshwari, counsel-cum-petitioner in the suit, said.

During a hearing in the court of civil judge (senior division) Jyoti Singh on July 18, both sides pleaded to take their arguments first for discussion. Apprehending disfigurement or removal of temple signs claimed to be present in the mosque, the petitioners wanted the court to take their plea first and order for a survey of Shahi Idgah Masjid.

In support of their plea, they also presented an order of the revision court dated May 26, 2022. However, the defendants pleaded to take maintainability of the suit first. After the hearing on July 21, the civil judge (senior division) had ordered to hear maintainability of the suit first in the next hearing set for July 25.

The petitioners’ counsel Maheshwari on Monday again moved an application in the revision court challenging the order of the civil judge (senior division) passed on July 21. The court of the ADJ not only accepted the revision application, but also asked the lower court to submit the records related to the case, Maheshwari said. The lower court is hearing a bunch of suits for the removal of Shahi Idgah Masjid from near the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple in the Katra Keshav Dev Temple complex and subsequent interim applications for appointing a court commissioner to survey the mosque.

The petitioners have sought the mosque’s survey, claiming the existence of several signs of temples, like those of om, swastika and lotus inside it besides its alleged Hindu architecture. The pleas have been filed by deity Thakur Keshav Dev Ji Maharaj virajman (in-situ) in its capacity as a juristic person, represented by advocates Mahendra Pratap Singh and Rajendra Maheshwari as its next friend, among others. The other petitioners included United Hindu Front founder Jai Bhagwan Goyal, a Delhi resident, and Vrindavan’s Dharm Raksha Sangh president Saurabh Gaur.

Source: News18

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Congress MLA Zameer Ahmed Khan's 'Muslims outnumber Vokkaligas' comment stirs controversy in Karnataka

Jul 25, 2022

BENGALURU: Karnataka Congress leader and MLA B Z Zameer Ahmed Khan's remarks about Muslims outnumbering Vokkaligas in the state has stirred a controversy.

It is now taking the shape of "community politics."

Vokkaliga leaders from the ruling BJP hit out at Khan for his remarks by projecting it as an attempt to belittle the politically dominant community, even as Congress leaders attempted damage control while expressing reservations against the comments made.

There are reports that Nirmalanandanatha swamiji, a prominent Vokkaliga seer, has conveyed his unhappiness to Congress leaders in this regard.

Khan, who is considered to be a close confidant of Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah, while reacting to party's state President D K Shivakumar's attempt to consolidate the Vokkaliga community, had recently said that nobody can become the Chief Minister with support from just one community.

"No one can become CM with support from one community, everyone will have the desire (to become CM) that's not is possible (to become CM) only by taking all communities together? I too have a desire to become CM, my community's percentage is more than that of Vokkaligas. Is it possible for me to become CM, just with the support of my community? Not possible," Khan said.

Shivakumar, who is a Vokkaliga, had recently called on the community, which forms a major vote-bank in the old Mysuru or southern Karnataka region, to support his chief ministerial bid.

Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah have been engaged in a political one-upmanship for months now, as both are Chief Ministerial aspirants in the event of Congress coming to power in the state after 2023 Assembly polls.

Though Siddaramaiah has been maintaining that the party's newly elected legislators and high command will decide on who will be the chief minister, his loyalists including Khan have been openly making statements in favour of their leader, ignoring warnings of disciplinary action, leaving the party virtually divided.

Khan's statement that Muslims outnumber Vokkaligas in the state, while trying to make a case for Siddarmaiah as CM face, has now led to a controversy and has drawn criticism.

Expressing his displeasure over Khan's statement, Congress leader and Vokkaliga leader from Mandya Cheluvarayaswamy said, "unnecessary mentioning" about the community was not right.

Noting that Khan's statements regarding the Vokkaliga community have elicited reactions from Swamijis, BJP leaders, he said, "Was it needed?....demanding that my Muslim community is strong and we also should be given a chance- is not wrong, but saying we are more than (outnumber) Vokkaligas is will now be interpreted as the Congress not standing up for Vokkaligas."

Another Congress leader and MLA Priyank Kharge without taking Khan's name said, those in responsible positions should see to it that what they speak should not cause damage to community, party and society at large.

"No one should behave in a way that cause damage to the organisation, my goodwill towards someone should not hurt others, there is a party forum like CLP to express your views....president and seniors will take a call regarding disciplinary action," he said but defended Shivakumar by stating that he only sought support of his community.

BJP leaders while criticising Khan also targeted Shivakumar for bringing in community to promote personal ambitions and pointed out that Vokkaligas don't belong to any one party.

Hitting out at the Congress for bringing the community into their internal fighting, senior Minister and a prominent Vokkaliga face within the ruling BJP R Ashoka said, the community will not forgive the grand old party and they should stop such things.

"Settle your issues within, don't bring community, this country runs as per Constitution, where CM is for the whole state and not for a community...They (Congress) are speaking about Vokkaliga. I'm also a Vokkaliga, what rights do they have to speak about Vokkaligas? The community is respected, the community (largely farming) provides food for the society," he said.

"Don't cross the 'Lakshmanrekha' with regards to Vokkaligas. Congress already has an experience, because of the way they dealt with Veerendra Patil (former CM), his community (Lingayats) are not with the party till today," Ashoka reminded.

BJP National General Secretary C T Ravi said, there was a time when there was a feeling that elections can be won only with the help of Muslim votes, which had led to appeasement politics.

"That time has gone long ago, Zameer bhai (Khan)....threatening and blackmailing in the name of vote bank has gone long ago. Let Zameer bhai remember that one can do politics today by stating 'Bharat Mataki Jai' and working for people," he added.

Reacting to the criticism, Khan said, he has a cordial relationship with the swamiji and Vokkaliga community and any one can enquire about it at the Adichunchanagiri Mutt (a prominent Vokkaliga seminary).

Source: Times Of India

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UP Police Arrests 2 After Woman Says She Was 'Hired' to Accuse Muslim Man of 'Love Jihad', Rape

26 July, 2022

New Delhi: A Delhi woman has accused two people of having hired her to frame a Muslim man in a ‘love jihad’ and rape case in Uttar Pradesh’s Kasganj. The two men were arrested and are out on interim bail.

One of the two has identified himself as the ‘district vice-president of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s youth wing’ on his Facebook page, Times of India has reported.

The woman is 24 years old and is identified as Radha in the report. She had earlier accused a Muslim man, identified as Prince Qureshi, of having promised to marry her and then raping her. Qureshi had posed as a Hindu, she had also said, according to the report.

Police had booked Qureshi under sections 376 (rape), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code on July 16.

As many as 200 workers of Hindutva organisations had staged a protest near the Ganjdundwara police station in Kasganj against the incident.

In late 2020, Uttar Pradesh brought a controversial law to purportedly curb ‘love jihad’ – a phrase for an imagined conspiracy peddled by Hindutva groups to popularise the idea that Muslim men ‘lure’ Hindu women through unfair means to ultimately increase the Muslim population in the country. Several cases lodged under the law been been criticised as partisan. The Union home ministry had earlier said it has no data on such cases.

Radha reportedly withdrew her allegations and has now said that two men – Aman Chauhan and Akash Solanki – had hired her to say this. Her statement was recorded before a magistrate under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Chauhan’s Facebook account claimed that he was a leader of the BJP youth wing, according to TOI. BJP’s Kasganj president has said, “He had been removed from the party.”

Reports have said that Qureshi and the accused men were business rivals.

An FIR has been registered, charging all three for criminal conspiracy. Chauhan and Solanki were arrested and granted interim bail.

Source: The Wire

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India condemns killings in Iraq by Turkish forces

Jul 26, 2022

NEW DELHI: India strongly condemned the recent killings in the Kurdistan region of Iraq by Turkish forces calling it a clear violation of the country’s sovereignty and also blatant disregard for international humanitarian law.

The government also expressed its deepest condolences to the families who lost their loved ones in the “dastardly” attack, and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

The strong condemnation is significant as Iraq has accused Turkey of carrying out the attack that left nine civilians dead. Turkey is one country that continues to openly back Pakistan’s position on Jammu and Kashmir leading to friction in ties with India. According to a BBC report, Iraq has summoned the Turkish ambassador in Baghdad to demand an apology, as well as pulling its charge d’affaires from the Turkish capital.

Source: Times Of India

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Over 500 Govt Schools In Bihar Observe Friday As Off For Years

Jul 25, 2022

More than 500 government schools in Bihar’s Seemanchal region, which has a significant Muslim population, have been observing Friday as their weekly holiday instead of Sunday for years, without any government directive to this effect, according to a number of education officials HT spoke to.

The eastern region of Bihar, which comprises four districts of Kishanganj, Araria, Katihar and Purnia, has Muslim population ranging from 30% to 70%, as per 2011 Census.

The highest number of such schools are in Jokihat block of Araria district, where 229 out of 244 government schools have their weekly off on Friday. Jokihat block education officer (BEO) Shiv Narayan Suman confirmed the figures. “This is quite an old practice,” he said.

Araria district education officer (DEO) Raj Kumar said, “Almost all the schools falling under Jokihat block are shut on Friday. There is no government directive though to this effect.”

As per figures provided by education department officials, Purnia has 200 such government schools while Kishanganj has 19.

While education department officials pleaded ignorance about any government directive mandating weekly off on Friday, teachers say the practice started nearly a decade ago on the instructions of local Muslim leaders.

“In 2014, JD-U leader Mahmood Asraf (now deceased) forced the government schools in his Meenapur panchayat under Baisi block of Purnia district to shift the weekly off from Sunday to Friday,” a government school teacher said, adding that officials of the education department never opposed.

Kishanganj DEO Subhash Kumar Gupta said, “There is nothing unusual in this. It is prevalent almost everywhere in Bihar.” Gupta cited the example of Vaishali district, where, he said, the same practice has been in place in several schools.

Asked about any government directive to this effect, he said, “We are looking for documents. In Kishanganj district, we have so far discovered 19 schools where Friday is observed as weekly off.”

However, Mumtaz Ahmad, block education officer (BEO) of Balrampur in Kishanganj district, said, “The Bihar government had issued a letter in this regard in 2010 and since then these schools have declared Friday off.”

Kishanganj district magistrate (DM) Shrikant Shastree said, “Friday has been observed as weekly off for long in schools here. I have directed the DEO to seek guidance from the education department on this.”

Bihar’s education minister Vijay Kumar Chowdhary, however, feigned ignorance on the matter. “We’ll reply in accordance with prevalent rules once we receive official communication from the district concerned,” he said.

Meanwhile, the BJP, which is the largest party in the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar, seized on the issue. “India is a secular country and making rules to suit one’s religion is not permissible under the Constitution. If the schools are closed on Friday to suit Muslims, Hindus may demand to close the schools on Tuesday. These kind of practice should not be promoted for religious appeasement,” said BJP state spokesperson Nikhil Anand.

Dilip Kumar Deepak, a BJP officer bearer in Purnia, said, “Government schools should have uniform circular.”

Source: Hindustan Times

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Southeast Asia


In Johor, mother breathes sigh of relief after son who went missing for 10 months buried today

26 Jul 2022

PASIR GUDANG, July 26 — “Alhamdulillah, everything is settled now. I feel so relieved....My son has been returned to his Creator,” said Azmawati Ab Kadir, 55.

She was met early today at the Kampung Pasir Putih Muslim Cemetery, where her eldest son, Muhammad Iman Aqmar Dzulkarnain, who went missing for 10 months before his remains were found trapped in a car that was pulled out of Sungai Api-Api in Nenasi, Pekan, two days ago, was buried.

“Thank you Allah for lending him to me for 24 years. Alhamdulillah, he was a good son,” said the woman, who was accompanied by her youngest child, Nurul Izz Anisah Dzulkarnain, 21, and the deceased’s fiancee, Nurfaizah Mahadi, 25.

More than 100 family members and friends attended Muhammad Iman Aqmar’s funeral which was held at about 1am today.

His remains, discovered in a Nissan Grand Livina that was found in Sungai Api-Api two days ago, were sent to the Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital in Kuantan for a post-mortem, and then brought home to his family home in Taman Air Biru, here, for the funeral.

On Oct 30 last year, Asmawati filed a police report on the disappearance of Muhammad Iman Aqmar after failing to contact him since he left their home in Johor for work in Kemaman, Terengganu, a day earlier.

Pekan police chief Superintendent Mohd Zaidi Mat Zin said Muhammad Iman Aqmar’s remains were discovered in a Nissan Grand Livina car by an elderly man while he was doing some work near the riverbank.

Source: Malay Mail

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Mistake in photo caption inspired book on history of Singapore's Malabar Muslims

Clement Yong

JUL 24, 2022

SINGAPORE - A mistake made in the photo caption of a 1956 newspaper article began a 17-year journey for Vice-principal Mohamed Nasim that would end with him writing the first history book on the Malabar Muslims in Singapore.

The photo in The Straits Times, capturing the laying of the foundation stone of Malabar Mosque at the junction of Victoria Street and Jalan Sultan in 1956, named H.A. Jivabhai as chairman of the Malabar Muslim Jamaath, an association formed in 1927 to look into the affairs of the small Malabar Muslim community.

But the caption set off alarm bells in Mr Mohamed Nasim's head when he came across the article in 2005 during the course of his work.

"I knew he was not a Malayalee. How did a non-Malayalee become the president of a communal organisation? It was only much later that I found out that it was a mistake. I must thank the journalist for taking me on this journey. This goes to show that not all mistakes are bad," said Mr Mohamed Nasim, an MOE senior education officer.

Malabar Muslims are typically Malayalees, an enthnolinguistic group with origins in Kerala, India. The actual president of the Jamaath in 1956 was C H Abu.

The niggling question drove Mr Mohamed Nasim - a Malabar Muslim himself - to the archives. The 56-year-old spent hours outside of his work scrolling though newsreels in the National Library, going through old meeting minutes and finding descendants of early settlers to record their memories.

The result is a 204-page book, The Blue Mosque Of Singapore And A Peek Into The Migrant Muslim Community From Kerala, which was launched on Sunday (July 24) at in Toa Payoh.

Through the story of the Malabar Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque, the book loosely traces the personalities and history of the Malabar community which comprises at least 500 families today.

The Blue Mosque is named after the distinctive blue-and-white tiles on the building's facade.

Opened by Singapore's first president Yusof Ishak in 1963, it is the only mosque in Singapore today that is managed by the Malabar Muslim community.

Mr Mohamed Nasim said research for the book has taken him to Kerala, where he spoke to the descendants of the early settlers.

One memorable man he came across in his research was the late Mr P.M.S. Thangal, a former president of the Malabar Muslim Jamaath who offered his services to exorcise ghosts after a spate of suicides in Singapore in 1955.

"He was Singapore's ghostbuster, and I found out he was very famous in Singapore, Malaysia and Borneo among both royalties and (commoners). His method of exorcism is widely used in his village," he said.

Mr Mohamed Nasim added that writing the book was a slow process as it was his first attempt. Research began in 2005, with some "real head-scratching days", he said. When the pandemic struck, he decided to force himself to finish the book.

He added: "As a minority of minorities, the story of Malabar Muslims is an important one because we all contributed to Singapore's development. It's a similar arc to those of other immigrants, where early settlers toughed it out and became Singaporeans."

Source: Straits Times

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Anwar Ibrahim advocates ‘neutral’ Malaysia amid great power rivalry in Asia-Pacific

Riyaz ul Khaliq  


Malaysia represents a zone of peace, freedom and neutrality, said Anwar Ibrahim, the country’s top reformer and politician, strongly suggesting against taking any side in global bloc politics.

However, he added, his country cannot ignore China.

“To be very realistic…we believe in peace, in democratic values, but we are neutral in the sense that we are not part and parcel of the revision or revival of Cold War politics, which means essentially that we should engage with America and the West and Europe as trading partners, in education,” Ibrahim, the incumbent opposition leader in the Malaysian parliament, told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.

Ibrahim, an academic-turned politician, was discussing the return of the so-called “great game” in the wider Asia-Pacific region, where the US is forging bilateral and multilateral alliances to counter the expanding economic and military influence of China.

“But we cannot ignore the importance of the rising China,” he said.

“China is an important neighbor, a great trading nation.

“Malaysia’s trade with China is now probably number one…It used to be that (way with) the United States, which means that relations with China must be further enhanced,” he said, adding Malaysia still has issues with Beijing, but “we can express (our grievances) because we are an independent country.”

Malaysia and China share maritime borders in the hotly contested South China Sea, where several nations are in conflict with Beijing over its vast claims over the mineral-rich waters

‘Learn diplomacy from President Erdogan’

or the wider Southeast Asian region, where 10 nations formed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to strike a balance between Washington and Beijing, Ibrahim suggested learning from Türkiye.

“The region should learn diplomatic skills from President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan,” he said.

“On the one hand, (Türkiye) is a member of NATO, and on the other, it is still in contact with the Russians and can even trigger some sort of arrangement or food security with Ukraine, (and Türkiye) can still have major trade arrangements with Iran,” Ibrahim said, lauding Türkiye’s diplomatic triumphs, especially managing a quadrilateral grain export deal among the UN, Türkiye, Ukraine and Russia which was signed last week in Istanbul.

“We have to have the wisdom and the diplomatic skill to do so in a manner that will not be seen as being too provocative.”

Ibrahim said Malaysia “does not have a problem with China.”

“That is with the United States. Let them deal with it. We are not a super, great nation to try and resolve that,” he said, suggesting Asia-Pacific nations should continue trade relations with all big powers.

Stressing that trade and investments through good and friendly relations were of paramount importance for the survival of nations, Ibrahim said: “I don't have any inhibition about having good relations with China or Russia or Europe.”

In the case of Malaysia, he said the country relies to a large extent on Western technology, American experience in governance and education.

“But we also accept the fact that the scenario is changing, China is growing," he said, adding Malaysia cannot ignore its immediate neighbors including the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand besides India, Australia and Pakistan.

“So how do we then navigate our countries to protect the best interests of the people?… By just aligning yourself with one camp and ignoring the importance of bilateral and multilateral arrangements?

“Assume, as a leader of a country, I see my best interest is what is there to protect the interests of the people, of my people, Malaysians. That means being friendly to most countries, trade relations, investments and accepting the diversity, complexity that we have to deal with,” he said.

Palestine a case of dispossession, an issue of humanity

A fierce critic of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, Malaysia’s position is that Palestine “is about justice and humanity,” Ibrahim said, expressing regret that the “so-called great democrats, Christians” in the West "suddenly obliterate" the case of Palestinians.

“I fail to understand that some of my good friends, the so-called political elite in the West, are completely oblivious…People are being killed… children, women. The properties, the land is being confiscated continuously, for decades,” he said.

“This is baffling (and) runs contrary to the principles of humanity and justice,” he added.

Referring to some Middle Eastern countries normalizing ties with Israel, he said it was “for them to decide.”

“Palestinians are bullied and are in open prisons, partly because of the gross prejudice,” he said.

Ibrahim said nations can have engagement, but “my position is that I don’t want to be the enemy of any country but I have to present the case very clearly, that you cannot continue all these atrocities inflicted on a smaller, poorer country because of the threat to your own survival.”

“I do not condone any act of violence or atrocities inflicted against anybody, but you cannot equate this. You dispossess people from their land, their homes, their property, and you say, ‘Can we negotiate?’ ‘Can we stop them from throwing stones?’ And when they throw stones, you shoot at them!”

Ibrahim said it was “the center of the problem.”

He added that Palestine was “not a Muslim issue, nor Islamic.”

“It is dispossession…It is a humanitarian issue. I pray, Insha’ Allah, that we get more sanity and objectivity!”

Legitimacy comes from people

Pointing to the political instability in Pakistan triggered by the ouster of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government in April, Ibrahim said the fundamental principle of democracy or democratic values “is that the people have to decide for themselves.”

“It is not up to the orchestration of some foreign powers… The period of imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism should be over and done with,” he said.

Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice) party, who was ousted on April 10 through a vote of no confidence, alleges that the parliament vote to oust him was done at the behest of Washington. The US has denied the claim, while his successor’s regime had brought up issues of rising inflation and oil prices against him ahead of the crucial vote.

Ibrahim said Khan has made a “compelling case and argument he put forward to prove his allegations against the intervention or interference of a foreign power.”

“Many countries in Latin America and Africa have seen this,” he said regarding alleged regime change operations.

In recent interviews, former US officials have acknowledged that Washington was involved in plotting government ousters in foreign countries.

“I don't think it is something that we accept or condone,” Ibrahim noted, adding people in Pakistan, like in other smaller and struggling democratic countries, “want to decide for themselves who should rule them and what system they adopt.”

“It is not the rich conglomerates; it is not the superpowers or foreign powers that should decide the future,” he added.

“It is for the Malaysians to decide for themselves… Even then, we take a position where we should be friendly to all countries,” he said.

Pakistan, he added, was formed to “ensure there is democracy, a Muslim democracy (as) envisaged by (its founder) Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.”

“We should not allow any foreign power to interfere in the internal affairs of the country,” said Ibrahim.

He said the legitimacy of a government comes from its people.

“If you are a legitimate government representing the voice and the conscience of the majority, you will have the courage to secure its independence,” said Ibrahim, who earlier served as deputy prime minister of the country.

“If you form a government at the behest of a foreign power, you will be of course beholden to them.

“Muslim countries, when we're talking about democracy and democratic values, should make sure they have the support of the majority of the people and to navigate the country according to what is best for their countries,” he said.

Having said that, Ibrahim added, the US is “still an important country for us.”

“They have managed to set up strong institutions of governance, one that even (former President Donald) Trump failed to hijack with the attack on Capitol Hill. But there are excesses unfortunately, and people are getting more disillusioned because of the blatant disregard for the rule of law and justice when it applies to other countries, other people,” he said.

Ibrahim said Muslim nations should maintain relations with the West “but disagreeing with unilateral decisions.”

He said the Western nations have to accept that in dealing with the complexities of multicultural and international relations, “it cannot be a unipolar world anymore.”

“And we cannot be forced to enter into this sort of alliance without regard to the complexities that we face,” he added.

ASEAN governments should take stronger position on Rohingya

Ibrahim said ASEAN has taken a position “more positive than what I witnessed since the 1990s” with regard to the fate of the Rohingya community.

“Things changed a little after the Europeans took the lead,” he said, regarding the response of ASEAN to Myanmar’s persecution of the Rohingya.

Calling for a change in this behavior, Ibrahim said: "We're dealing with our own neighbors. Yes, as a matter of principle, you should not interfere.”

“But the people are being killed. When their houses are being burnt, you can't keep quiet.

“It is about humanity, about basic justice, and is affecting our country. Thousands are coming in and you say ‘No, no, we can't interfere'.”

He said it was nonsensical to remain silent in such a situation.

"Our position is for the governments to move forward and take a strong position -- stronger than the way it is now,” he added.

On the policy of non-interference in internal matters, Ibrahim said credit must be given to ASEAN “because ASEAN is a relative success because of its policy of non-interference that you can work and build together as a region.”

“But we should draw the line."

Referring to “non-interference,” Ibrahim said it means “completely cutting oneself off from the notion of humanity and justice.”

Relations with Türkiye

Lauding bilateral relations with Türkiye dating back to the times of the Ottoman state, Ibrahim said relations then between “our region and the Ottoman empire were more than just normal diplomatic or trade relations but also cultural and educational” ties.

“The current relations need to be furthered explored,” he said.

While acknowledging that the bilateral trade target of $5 billion between Malaysia and Türkiye is “something significant,” he said “when you look at the strength of the economy of Türkiye and the potential in Malaysia, it is still small, which means we have to undertake more effective measures to promote this.”

“There's actually absolutely no reason whatsoever that the friendly countries of Malaysia and Türkiye cannot expand bilateral relations.”

He said even being the opposition leader in parliament, “I've been very supportive and encouraging the government to welcome and see avenues of enhancing the relationship” with Türkiye.

“But I always say that it should go beyond trade. Trade is still fundamental, very important. Investments, education...In the 80s and the 90s, we encouraged students from Türkiye to go to Malaysia. Quite a number of them became professors and students,” he recalled.

“Now things have changed. Malaysia, unfortunately is left stagnated, but Türkiye has expanded and educational institutions have been further enhanced,” he noted.

Ibrahim said the two countries should also focus on joint research and technology initiatives “because Turkish technology, including defense technology, far surpasses many other countries, particularly Muslim countries.”

For example, there is “your success in drones and helicopters, which we as friendly countries look at and review with an open mind, not to be captivated by the old outlook of looking at the West or some other rich countries,” he added.

“The potential is enormous. I know the strength and potential of trade between these two countries.”

Message to Malaysians

As the general elections are expected anytime now in Malaysia, Ibrahim called on citizens to “choose what is best for the country.”

“The economy is virtually in the doldrums. The integrity of the leadership is in question. There is endemic corruption,” he alleged.

“It is for the people to decide. This is the best time to change the course of our history. We cannot be held at ransom in the old, obsolete system with draconian measures, threats,” said Ibrahim.

He said the young people, those in their 20s and 30s, “are exposed to social media (and) who understand better than the elders now because of the exposure to social media.”

“It is not necessarily all right, but then there is that opportunity to have access to different views.”

Ibrahim said the issue was “not just matter of changing prime ministers.”

“Nothing has changed. The system remains…The cronyism, the corruption is there. And it is not small,” he alleged.

Since the 2018 general elections, at least three prime ministers have held power.

“People deserve something better. It is tough work with rising inflation, with the rising cost of living. People need some assurance.

“This is for our own children. The welfare and health of our parents. Only corruption has advanced,” he added.

Ibrahim said Malaysia was “too democratic that everyone can choose to become prime minister, however mediocre one is.”

“This fragility in the democratic outfit is due to endemic corruption and people devoid of any principles or values,” he said.

He said there was “growing cynicism” among the people against political players “because of the endemic corruption of people selling their parliamentary seats.”

But he said his party has “negotiated with the incumbent prime minister and insisted in tabling an anti-hopping bill, which will happen on July 27.

It is to stop people from selling their seats, he said.

“Otherwise, a member of parliament has a price, which is a blatant insult to the intelligence of a political leader and the common man,” he added.

He said his party has also agreed to support the government to pass the budget “on the condition that it supports the COVID-19 health improvement programs, gives extra funds to the very poor people.”

Recalling his heydays during the 1990s, when “people would look up to Malaysia as a striking example of medium investments, progress and a vibrant economy,” Ibrahim said “now, we are looking up to Türkiye.”

“What is the problem? It is not the people, not the professionals, not the technicians, not the bureaucrats. It is the failure of the political class,” he said.

“So, Insha’ Allah, we’ll have to be optimistic for change so that there is clear stability when we face the next general elections,” he added.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Arab World


Al-Maliki audio leaks hold clues to Iraq’s failed process of government formation


July 25, 2022

IRBIL, Iraqi Kurdistan: In and of themselves, the audio recordings are scarcely newsworthy. They simply confirm what is a matter of public knowledge in Iraq: That the antipathy between two of the country’s most powerful Shiite power brokers, Nouri Al-Maliki and Muqtada Al-Sadr, is deep, and their relations with other Iraqi politicians complicated.

The real significance of the recordings, according to analysts, lies in their revelation of the deep divisions and enmities that plague Iraqi politics, and are likely to continue hindering the process of government formation in the months to come.

In the recordings, known in Iraq as the “Maliki Wikileaks,” the man who served as prime minister between 2006 and 2014 is heard denouncing his political rivals and talking about an imminent civil war.

“Iraq is on the verge of a devastating war from which no one will emerge unscathed, unless the project of Muqtada Al-Sadr, Masoud Barzani, and Muhammad Al-Halbousi is defeated … and if necessary, I will attack Najaf,” Al-Maliki is heard declaring in one of the many recordings, whose authenticity he disputes.

He even claims the British are behind a conspiracy to place Al-Sadr in charge of Iraqi Shiites and then assassinate him, paving the way for the restoration of Sunni rule over the country

The recordings, released by journalist and activist Ali Fadhel, appear to be at least two months old since they refer to the tripartite Save the Homeland parliamentary coalition — consisting of the Sadrist Movement, Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party, and Halbousi’s Progress Party — that competed against the pro-Iran Shiite parties under the umbrella of the Coordination Framework, of which Al-Maliki’s State of Law is a part.

Al-Sadr ordered all 73 of his MPs to resign in mid-June after months of trying to form a majority government without the Framework, which favors another consensus-type government that has been the norm in post-2003 Iraq.

The mass resignation of the Sadrists brought an end to the Save the Homeland alliance and the prospect of a majority government in Iraq along with it.

The Framework has been negotiating the formation of another government with the remaining parliamentary blocs ever since.

Iraq held early parliamentary elections in October 2021 but still has not been able to form a new government. The country is currently governed by a caretaker government led by Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, the incumbent prime minister.

On the surface, Iraq appears on the verge of more instability. The Sadrists are out of Parliament and back on the street, where Al-Sadr has repeatedly demonstrated his capability of swiftly mobilizing hundreds of thousands of devoted followers, most of them poor and angry with the political elite.

The political deadlock in Parliament continues, and the prospect of forming a new government remains distant despite the passage of about 10 months since the last election. Now, Al-Maliki’s incendiary pronouncements have been added to the mix.

Is Iraq at risk of severe conflagration, or even a civil war of some kind, if this state of affairs persists?

“Al-Maliki’s comments seem to point towards him believing things would escalate to possible street clashes, which have happened before between Shiite factions,” Joel Wing, author of the “Musings on Iraq” blog, told Arab News.

Wing believes the recordings are authentic, noting that only Al-Maliki and his allies have claimed otherwise.

He pointed out that the Framework has already resorted to political violence since the October election, including bombing the houses and offices of rival political parties. A series of rocket and drone attacks have also been carried out against Iraqi Kurdistan to pressure the KDP.

“The political parties are growing increasingly frustrated over not being able to form a government,” Wing said. “Al-Maliki’s comments just add more fuel to the fire, and his talk of political violence shows what lengths some leaders are willing to go to defeat their opponents.”

Wing does not see any sign that the present political deadlock will end anytime soon, which will only increase tensions and the possibility of armed clashes. Nevertheless, he is doubtful that the current situation will degenerate into an intra-Shiite conflict or civil war in Iraq.

“I don’t see a civil war coming, but the Framework and Sadrists have already resorted to violence, which could escalate given the current inability of the political parties to come to any compromises,” he said.

The political deadlock will likely persist given the continued failure of the Framework and Kurdish parties to select the country’s next president and prime minister.

A candidate for the presidency, a largely symbolic role in Iraq reserved for the Kurds, must be nominated before Parliament can elect the next prime minister. However, the KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan have so far failed to agree on a common candidate.

Furthermore, as Wing pointed out, “there are deep divisions within the Framework itself over who should be prime minister.

“That’s the reason why there’s increasing talk about either having new elections or just keeping the present incumbent in office,” he said.

Wing’s opinion that the Al-Maliki recordings are authentic is seconded by Kyle Orton, an independent Middle East analyst.

“The leaked recordings are indicative that Al-Maliki retains his belief in the legitimacy of political violence, which was the Dawa Party position since it was co-opted by the Iranian Revolution in 1979,” he told Arab News.

“Within Iraq, this is not so unusual a position: Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, many in the political elite have done politics by day and terrorism by night.”

Orton too doubts the leaks could lead to “anything like a civil war” in the near future. On the contrary, he believes the main thing that “they show is that Iraqi politics is played within limits set by the IRGC (Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps).

“This is a factional fight between Iranian clients, even if the game is being played a bit rougher than in the past,” he said. “But the IRGC controls the security architecture in Iraq, and its militias have the streets ultimately, so it will not allow a collapse of that kind.”

Summing up the situation, Orton said: “In terms of the outcome, again, the question really leads back to Tehran: Whether the Iranians are affronted by Al-Sadr overstepping the bounds or judge that Al-Maliki is too politically damaged by this to be viable.”

Unlike Wing and Orton, Nicholas Heras, the deputy director of the human security unit at the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, believes that an intra-Shiite civil war is a strong possibility.

“Al-Sadr knows Al-Maliki hates him, with or without any new recordings,” Heras told Arab News. “Nouri Al-Maliki is the type of Shiite politician that Muqtada Al-Sadr has made a political career out of bashing for being out of touch with the needs of the Iraqi people, especially the Shiites.

“Iraq is on the verge of an intra-Shiite civil war. The situation in Iraq is too far gone, and the most tensions are among the Shiites.”

Source: Arab News

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Syria’s Kurds repatriate nearly 150 ISIS-linked Tajiki women and children

25 July ,2022

Syria’s semi-autonomous Kurdish administration handed Tajikistan 146 women and children related to ISIS extremists, a Kurdish official said Monday, in the first such repatriation to the ex-Soviet state.

Thousands of foreign extremists joined ISIS as fighters, often bringing their wives and children to live in the “caliphate” declared by the group across swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014.

The extremists were dislodged in 2019 from their last scrap of territory in Syria by Kurdish-led forces backed by a US-led coalition, and Kurdish authorities have repeatedly called on countries to repatriate their citizens from crowded displaced camps.

But nations have mostly received them only sporadically, fearing a domestic political backlash.

The Kurds handed over “42 women and 104 children, including orphans, who were held in the al-Hol and Roj camps” in northeast Syria to Tajikistan’s ambassador to Kuwait Zabidullah Zabidov, Kurdish foreign affairs official Fanar al-Kaeet said.

Zabidov is handling the repatriation process for Tajikistan.

The ex-Soviet state has been in contact with Syria’s Kurds “for months” to repatriate their citizens, Kaeet said during a press conference in the northeastern city of Qamishli.

The women “did not commit any crimes or terrorist acts in northeastern Syria,” he said.

Al-Hol and Roj camps are home to tens of thousands of relatives of ISIS militants from Syria and abroad, with the former holding 10,000 foreigners.

Kurdish-led forces escorted the women, some in colorful clothing, others in long black robes, and the children, as they were bussed out to Qamishli airport, AFP correspondents in Qamishli reported.

Some women tried to hide their faces.

Young children timidly peeked through the bus windows, from behind thick curtains that hid the other passengers.

Rights groups have long decried grim living conditions and rampant criminality in the north Syrian camps holding extremists’ relatives.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Mohammed Shia al-Sudani nominated for Iraqi premiership

July 25, 2022

Amid the longstanding political deadlock followed by the parliamentary elections in October 2021, the Coordination Framework, which is the largest bloc in the Iraqi parliament, nominated Mohammed Shia al-Sudani for the prime minister position.

Sudani will be tasked to form the next government after the selection for the presidency takes place in the parliament.

“The Coordination Framework held today — Monday, July 25, 2022 — a meeting to choose its candidate for prime minister, and in a positive atmosphere the leaders of the Coordination Framework agreed unanimously to nominate Mr. Mohammed Shia al-Sudani for the premiership,” the Coordination Framework statement read.

Sudani is a member of the parliamentary committee supervising the government program and the Strategic Planning Committee. He served previously as minister of human rights from 2010 to 2014, and as minister of labor and social affairs from 2014 to 2018. He was also acting minister for the Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Finance, and minister for the Ministry of Migration and Displaced, and Ministry of Agriculture.

Leaders of the Coordination Framework, which consists of Iran-backed groups and militias, welcomed Sudani’s nomination in separate statements or tweets. This includes Qais Khazali of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, head of the Popular Mobilization Units Falih al-Fayadh and Abu Ala al-Walai of Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada.

Surprisingly, Nouri al-Maliki, head of the State of Law Coalition, which has the largest bloc in the Coordination Framework, has not yet reacted to Sudani's nomination. However, the State of Law supported Sudani nomination in a statement.

Maliki was the main obstacle against this nomination, according to a source from the Coordination Framework who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity.

The recent tape leak against Maliki, which closed the door on his candidacy for the premiership, apparently led him to withdraw his objection of Sudani's nomination.

The main challenge before Sudani will be Muqtada al-Sadr who had won the largest bloc in the last elections; he had to withdraw from the parliament due to failure in forming the government.

One of the official Sadrist Facebook accounts posted immediately after Sudani's nomination a sarcastic message, calling Sudani a facade for Maliki. This means Sadr is seeing Sudani as a prime minister under control of Maliki.

The dispute between Sadr and Maliki is very sharp and longstanding.

Sadr had formed an alliance with the Sunni Taqaddum Coalition led by parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) led by Massoud Barzani. The alliance, however, failed to form a government due to the fact that the Coordination Framework, which is the rival entity against Sadr, was able to form a blocking third preventing the selection of the president as an essential part of the government formation.

Although the Coordination Framework has nominated the prime minister, they still need to agree with the Kurds on the president before going to the parliament to seek a vote of confidence for the next government led by Sudani.

Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) supported Sudani nomination in a statement, while KDP remained silent about it.

The two main Kurdish parties — the KDP and PUK — have not agreed yet on the president, who is usually a Kurdish figure. The KDP has nominated Kurdistan Region Interior Minister Riber Ahmed, while the PUK insists on renewing the term of the current president, Barham Salih.

Source: Al Monitor

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Syrian National Army thwarts infiltration bid by YPG/PKK terrorists

Ethem Emre Ozcan and Omer Koparan  


AZAZ, Syria

The Syrian National Army (SNA) thwarted an attempt by the YPG/PKK terrorist group to infiltrate soldiers on the frontlines in northern Syria on Monday.

YPG/PKK terrorists tried to infiltrate the opposition-controlled Marea district in the northern countryside of Aleppo province.

The SNA soldiers then clashed with the terrorists and pushed them back.

YPG/PKK terrorists suffered losses in the clashes, according to local security sources.

Terrorists from the PKK/YPG continue to hide in Tal Rifat, which is only 18 kilometers (11 miles) from the Turkish border and on the frontline of the Operation Euphrates Shield zone, where Turkish security forces have been providing security since 2016-2017.

The YPG/PKK terror group often attacks Jarabulus, Afrin, and Azaz from the Manbij and Tal Rifat areas in Syria.

The YPG/PKK terrorists often target Turkish security forces providing security in the areas of Operation Euphrates Shield, Olive Branch, and Peace Spring, and try to infiltrate the positions of Syrian opposition fighters from regions where the terror group was supposed to withdraw under the agreements with the US and Russia.

Since 2016, Ankara has launched three successful anti-terror operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable the peaceful settlement of residents. They are Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018), and Peace Spring (2019).

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Nasrallah: No Israeli target out of reach of Hezbollah missiles

25 July 2022 

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah says the resistance movement's precision missiles can hit any Israeli target at sea or on land.

Nasrallah issued the warning on the 40th anniversary of the foundation of Hezbollah, coinciding with Israel's work at maritime oil and gas fields, including Karish, off Lebanon's coast.

"All fields are under threat, not only Karish, and no Israeli target at sea or on land is out of the reach of the resistance's precision missiles," Nasrallah told Al Mayadeen television's Ghassan Ben Jeddou.

Earlier this month, Hezbollah launched three unarmed drones towards a vessel operated by London-based Energean. Nasrallah said then that it was the "first time" such an operation had taken place and that it was meant to alert workers aboard the vessel that it "is not a safe area."

"Our drones entered and returned from the Galilee and occupied Palestine dozens of times over the past years and the enemy failed to shoot them down," Nasrallah said in remarks aired Monday night.

Energean has said it expects first gas from Karish to flow in the third quarter, but Narallah has warned that "no one" would be allowed to operate in maritime oil and gas fields if Lebanon was barred from its "rights" in extracting from areas off of its coast.

"If the extraction of oil and gas from Karish begins in September before Lebanon obtains its right, we would be heading to a problem and we'll do anything to achieve our objective," he said on Monday.

“Due to Europe's need to replace Russian oil and gas, Lebanon is facing a historic opportunity," he said.

US President Joe Biden recently came to the region because of oil and gas, Nasrallah said. "But the additional oil of Saudi Arabia and the UAE will not solve Europe's needs either. The war between Ukraine and Russia has made them look for alternatives to Russian oil and gas.”

Nasrallah said, "The Lebanese government is not able to make a proper decision to protect this country and its resources. Therefore, the resistance is forced to make a decision. Our goal is for Lebanon to extract oil and gas, because this is the only way to save Lebanon.

"This is an action that must be taken. We will not accept any deception and we must take back our rights. Our goal is to make Lebanon extract oil and gas and to draw the maritime borders of this country correctly,” he added.

He also said, "I'm ready to bring free Iranian fuel for the Lebanese power plants if the Lebanese government agrees to this, but unfortunately there is no political courage in Lebanon for such a step, because they fear US sanctions on individuals and their families."

Nasrallah detailed Hezbollah's capabilities, saying the resistance movement has built a significant deterrent power.

"I tell the Lebanese people that they should be confident in the resistance's capabilities," he said. "There has been safety and security in Lebanon since 2006 due to the balance of deterrence," he added. 

Source: Press TV

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Syria supports collective Arab initiatives, attaches great importance to practicalities: President Assad

25 July 2022

President Bashar al-Assad says Syria supports joint Arab action in the face of regional challenges, stressing that the Arab country attaches paramount significance to initiatives and mechanism that promote such an ideal.

“What matters to Syria is the mechanisms, methods and the outcomes of the joint Arab action, as it is more concerned with actions than remarks,” Assad said in a meeting with visiting Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra in Damascus on Monday, praising the Arab League as “a true reflection of the status quo in the Arab world.”

He also said that Syria "highly appreciates the stances of Algeria in support of Syria’s rights in all spheres.”

“The Syrian nation will never forget Algeria’s positions, because it stood by us during the war we went through. We will always view it as a brotherly country that adheres to its principles and stands committed to Arabism,” Assad added.

The Syrian president went on to note that Damascus is interested to open new chapters of cooperation with Algiers, and to expand brotherly relations between the Syrian and Algerian nations.

For his part, Lamamra hailed Syria as a founding member of the Arab League, and an essential and integral member of the Arab world.

He stressed that Algeria will continue to support Syria, and will coordinate with it in Arab and international arenas during the Arab League's rotating presidency.

The top Algerian diplomat also voiced his country’s keenness to develop all-out bilateral ties with Syria, and hoped for regular sessions of Syrian-Algerian joint commissions in the near future.

Moreover, the two sides exchanged viewpoints on the promotions of the joint Arab action, both at the bilateral and the Arab League levels, and discussed measures aimed at confronting challenges facing Arabs.

Mekdad: Syria’s main concern is to foster Arab unity, counter common challenges

Separately, Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said Syria’s main concern is to promote unity among Arab countries in the face of common challenges.

He made the remarks in a joint press conference with his Algerian counterpart, stating that relations between the two Arab nations are deep-rooted.

“Algeria has stood by the Syrian nation throughout the crisis. It has strongly denounced terrorism and Western sanctions imposed on Syria,” Mekdad noted.

Lamamra, for his part, said Algeria and Syria share common achievements and victories.

“We reached an agreement on enhancement of economic and commercial cooperation in order to serve the interests of the Algerian and Syrian nations.

“Syria’s vacant seat in the Arab League harms the joint Arab action,” the top Algerian diplomat underlined.

Earlier this month, Lamamra called for the restoration of Syria’s membership in the Arab League as a founding member of the regional organization, emphasizing that his country strongly supports the reunification of Arab states.

“Algeria will do its utmost effort to unite and strengthen the common Arab will to confront collective challenges,” Lamamra said at a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in the Lebanese capital city of Beirut on July 2.

He also emphasized that “Syria is a founding member of the Arab League and that Algeria is not opposed to its return to the organization and reinstatement of its seat.”

The Arab League suspended Syria’s membership in November 2011, citing an alleged crackdown by Damascus on opposition protests. Syria has denounced the move as “illegal and a violation of the organization’s charter.”

Source: Press TV

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Saudi Arabia reports three cases of monkeypox, all coming from Europe

25 July ,2022

The spokesman for Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health told Al Arabiya on Monday, that the Kingdom has detected three cases of monkeypox.

He added that the three people infected with monkeypox in Saudi Arabia were returning from Europe.

On July 14, the Saudi Ministry of Health announced the detection of the first case of monkeypox in a person returning from outside the Kingdom.

The Ministry reassured everyone that the case is subject to medical care in accordance with the approved health procedures, in addition to that, all contacts were accounted for.

The Ministry affirmed that it would continue its monitoring and follow-up work on the developments of monkeypox disease and announce in full transparency any cases that are reported, indicating its readiness and ability to deal with any development of the disease.

The Ministry of Health recommends that everyone follow health instructions, especially during travel, through its official channels, as well as the Public Health Authority (Weqaya) or contact the call center (937) in case of any inquiry regarding monkeypox disease.

Source: Al Arabiya

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How NEOM’s The Line aims to achieve harmony between urban development and preservation of nature in Saudi Arabia

July 26, 2022

RIYADH: With some 56 percent of the world’s population now living in cities, urban sustainability and public well-being have become a growing concern for governments worldwide.

To address these challenges, Saudi Arabia is boldly experimenting with how urban spaces are designed with its revolutionary NEOM smart city and its flagship development — The Line.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced plans for The Line — one of several mega-projects now underway as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform and economic diversification plan.

He said that the design would clarify the internal structure of the multi-layered city and address the problems of traditional flat horizontal cities, achieving harmony between urban development and the preservation of nature, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched the initial idea and vision of the city that redefines the concept of urban development, and what cities of the future should look like, in January 2021.

During Monday’s announcement, the crown prince said that The Line would achieve “ideal living” and address the urgent challenges facing humanity.

“NEOM is one of the most important projects of the Saudi Vision 2030 and The Line is an affirmation of our firm commitment to presenting a project to the whole world. NEOM is a place for those who dream of a better tomorrow,” he said.

The designs of The Line embody how urban communities will live in the future in an environment free from roads, cars and emissions, he added.

The crown prince said that the project, which offers a new approach to urban design, would run on 100 percent renewable energy and prioritize people’s health.

“The idea of layering city functions vertically and giving people the possibility of moving seamlessly in three dimensions to access them is a concept referred to as Zero Gravity Urbanism,” he said.

According to the design plan revealed on Monday, The Line will have an outer mirror facade that will provide the structure its unique character and allow even its small footprint to blend with nature, while its interior will be built to create “extraordinary experiences and magical moments,” the crown prince added.

The Line will eventually accommodate 9 million residents and will be built on a footprint of 34 square kilometers, which is unheard of when compared to other cities of similar capacity, according to Monday’s statement.

Different from tall buildings, the concept layers public parks and pedestrian areas, schools, homes and places for work.

The narrow design is intended to reduce the man-made footprint on the landscape and promote greater efficiency. The city will feature a high-speed rail link with an end-to-end transit time of just 20 minutes.

The ideal climate within the structure, all year round, will ensure that residents can enjoy the surrounding nature while walking around. Residents will also have access to all facilities in The Line within a five-minute walk.

“The Line will be created by a team of world-renowned architects and engineers, led by NEOM, to develop this revolutionary concept for the city of the future,” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said.

Furthermore, the city’s design will be completely digitized, and the construction industrialized to a large degree by significantly advancing construction technologies and manufacturing processes.

The design has already enjoyed good reception for its boldness and ambition. According to Mohamed Ramady, a London-based economist, the vision for The Line is nothing short of revolutionary, despite some skepticism from traditional urban developers.

“The concept of Zero Gravity Urbanism will be something that future generations will come to accept as a viable mode of urban, renewable energy-based community living comparable to epoch-making urban developments in history that were also not easily accepted,” Ramady told Arab News.

“The crown prince’s bold proposals aptly underscores what NEOM is all about, that all of humanity, not only Saudi Arabia, will benefit from.”

For Mohammed Al-Suwayed, CEO of Razeen Capital, the appeal of NEOM is in its youthfulness and willingness to break with old ways of building as well as living.

“I’m still not sure the world is getting the crown prince’s message from NEOM,” Al-Suwayed told Arab News.

“It is an idea that is meant to challenge the norms. I believe NEOM is not for the ones with traditional skills and experience. It is for young people with limited traditional experience but who are ambitious and visionary, and pragmatic at the same time.”

Situated in northwest Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea, spanning an area of around 26,500 square kilometers, and made up of 41 coastal islands, NEOM — which means “new future” — is billed as a living laboratory for entrepreneurship, new technologies, new models for livability, and environmental conservation.

With backing from the Saudi Public Investment Fund, as well as local and international investors, planners say the $500 billion NEOM project will include hyperconnected, cognitive towns and cities, ports and enterprise zones, research centers, sports and entertainment venues and tourist destinations.

Its location means it is ideally situated to attract global investment by taking advantage of existing commercial routes. Around 13 percent of the world’s trade passes through the Red Sea, and some 40 percent of the world is less than six hours away by air.

The unique geographical location of NEOM ensures a temperate climate, roughly 10 degrees Celsius cooler on average than the rest of the GCC, cradled in a mountainous region that is home to some of the Kingdom’s most diverse terrain.

With sustainability at the core of the project, some 95 percent of NEOM’s land is conserved for environmental protection. All energy in NEOM will be 100 percent renewable — from solar, wind and hydrogen-based power generation — ensuring clean and pollution-free urban environments.

Communities will be built around people, not cars, with raised walkways connecting the site. Roads and streets will be replaced by piazzas and walkable boulevards filled with parks and green spaces. Communities empowered by artificial intelligence will learn and predict ways to make life easier to save time for residents and businesses.

The Line itself will connect four distinctive ecologies: coast, desert, mountains, and upper valley. Nature will be integrated into the heart of the communities, enhancing livability and well-being. It will also be supported by agricultural areas, supporting locally grown and sustainable food production.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched the initial idea and vision with a view to redefine the concept of urban development and what cities of the future should look like.

“At The Line’s launch last year, we committed to a civilizational revolution that puts humans first based on a radical change in urban planning,” he said on Monday.

“The designs revealed today for the city’s vertically layered communities will challenge the traditional flat, horizontal cities and create a model for nature preservation, and enhanced human livability.

“The Line will tackle the challenges facing humanity in urban life today and will shine a light on alternative ways to live.”

The crown prince added: “We cannot ignore the livability and environmental crises facing our world’s cities, and NEOM is at the forefront of delivering new and imaginative solutions to address these issues. NEOM is leading a team of the brightest minds in architecture, engineering and construction to make the idea of building upward a reality.”

The announcement of The Line’s designs is a continuation of NEOM’s progress in the development of its flagship projects, such as Oxagon, its reimagined manufacturing and innovation city, and Trojena, its mountain tourism destination that will offer the Arabian Gulf’s first outdoor skiing resort.

Source: Arab News

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Iran: Saudi Crown Prince Showing Willingness to Official Talks with Tehran


"Five rounds of negotiations were held between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which were hosted by the Iraqi government in Baghdad that had very good and encouraging results," Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kana'ani said at a press briefing in Tehran.

"After the Jeddah summit, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein in a phone call briefed Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian on the summit," he added.

"During the phone call, Mr. Hussein said Mohammad bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, on the sidelines of the meetings in Jeddah, expressed readiness that official and public talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia will be held in the next round," the Iranian official declared.

"This is a positive sign. We believe that due to the positive will of the parties, it is possible to hold the next meeting at the official and political level in Baghdad, and take a step in the direction of improving and resuming the relations between the two countries," Kana'ani added.

In an interview with state TV on Thursday night, the Iranian foreign minister noted that both Tehran and Riyadh have voiced readiness to take their negotiations from the “security” level to “a public, political phase". He also confirmed that there had been some progress in the five rounds of talks between the two sides.

Saudi Arabia decided to sever diplomatic relations with Iran back in January 2016 after its embassy in Tehran was stormed by protestors who were enraged by the Riyadh's execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir Al-Nimr.

There was no change in Riyadh's confrontational policy towards Tehran until 2021 when it signaled an inclination to mend fractured ties with Iran.

Iraqi government agreed to the role of mediator between the two countries and has so far hosted five rounds of talks in Baghdad.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Saudi-Led Coalition Will Be Hurled Into Dustbin of History, Yemeni Defence Minister Says

25 July 2022

The Yemeni defense minister in the National Salvation Government says the Saudi-led military coalition will be thrown into the “dustbin of history” if it does not change course and presses ahead with its atrocious campaign and brutal siege against its southern neighbor.

Major General Mohammad al-Atifi made the remarks on Monday as he visited contingents of Yemeni army troops and fighters from allied Popular Committees at an undisclosed location in Yemen’s northern province of al-Jawf.

“Yemeni Armed Forces are now more prepared than any time before, and are in possession of strategic weapons as well as all means of deterrence,” he said.

“We warn the coalition of aggression against continuation of the war and cruel siege against the Yemeni nation,” he said, adding, “If enemies persist with their behavior, abject failure awaits them all and they will be thrown into the dustbin of history,” the Yemeni defense minister pointed out.

He warned enemies to be mindful of their mistakes and errors, saying, “If they make a mistake, we will cut off their hands.”

Saudi-led coalition seizes another Yemeni tanker in violation of truce

Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition forces seized another Yemen-bound oil tanker carrying thousands of tons of fuel for the crisis-hit country in flagrant breach of an ongoing UN-brokered ceasefire.

Essam al-Mutawakil, a spokesman for the Yemeni National Oil Company, told the official Saba news agency on Monday that the coalition did not allow the Uhud tanker, which was carrying more than 31,000 tons of gasoline, to offload its cargo at Yemen’s western port of Hudaydah.

Mutawakil added that the ship was seized, despite having been inspected and cleared for the port by the United Nations staff, and necessary entry permits.

He highlighted that the seizure takes to five the number of Yemen-bound fuel ships impounded by the Saudi-led alliance.

Saudi Arabia launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the US and other Western states.

The objective was to reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and crush the Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen.

Source: Press TV

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Iran says will keep IAEA cameras turned off until nuclear deal is restored

25 July ,2022

Iran will keep the UN nuclear watchdog’s cameras turned off until a 2015 nuclear deal is restored, the head of the country's Atomic Energy Organization said on Monday, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) it had removed IAEA equipment, including 27 cameras installed under the 2015 pact with world powers, after the agency passed a resolution criticizing Tehran in June.

“We will not turn on the IAEA cameras until the other side returns to the nuclear deal,” Iranian nuclear chief Mohammad Eslami said.

The 2015 nuclear pact imposed curbs on Iran’s nuclear activities in return for the lifting of international sanctions. Then-president Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018, reimposing tough economic sanctions on Tehran.

Iran’s ruling clerics responded by breaching the pact's nuclear restrictions.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani on Monday accused IAEA Chief Rafael Grossi of having “unprofessional, unfair and unconstructive views” on Tehran’s nuclear program.

He also added that Tehran hopes a return to the nuclear deal can be reached soon should the United States show goodwill.

“Iran is committed to talks and will continue until a good and sustainable deal is reached,” Kanaani said at his weekly news conference.

Iran’s nuclear program is “galloping ahead” and the IAEA has very limited visibility on what is happening, Grossi told Spain’s El Pais newspaper in an interview published on Friday.

Western powers warn Iran is getting closer to being able to sprint towards making a nuclear bomb. Iran denies wanting to. Indirect talks between Iran and the United States on reviving the 2015 deal have been stalled since March.

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his disappointment to his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi at the lack of progress over talks, the Elysee Palace said on Saturday.

The nuclear pact seemed near revival in March but talks were thrown into disarray partly over whether the United States might remove Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from its Foreign Terrorist Organization list. The IRGC controls elite armed and intelligence forces that Washington accuses of a global terrorist campaign.

Source: Al Arabiya

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IRGC Aerospace Commander: Iran Plans to Orbit Another Satellite on Back of New Carrier


Brigadier General Hajizadeh made the announcement on the sidelines of the 12th Malek Ashtar Festival in Tehran on Sunday.

He stated the new home-grown satellite will be launched into space using the country’s Qa’em satellite carrier.

“By God’s will, we will launch the new satellite carrier Qa’em into space by the year-end,” Hajizadeh added, hailing it as a “continuation of [the country’s] achievements” in the field of aerospace technology.

The top commander noted that the enemy today admits to Iran's military capabilities while asserting that the Islamic Republic, its armed forces, and the IRGC have a "valuable position and real superiority".

In early June, the Iranian Space Agency announced that work has been underway to prepare seven more satellites for launch into the orbit.

Iran to Send Another Satellite into Orbit within Months

— Fars News Agency (@EnglishFars) July 23, 2022

In his remarks on Sunday, Hajizadeh said “thousands of” young elites are contributing to Iran’s aerospace field.

The country’s enemies themselves are today acknowledging its development in the aerospace and air defense areas, he added.

The senior commander cited remarks made by the Head of the US Central Command General Kenneth McKenzie last year when he admitted that Iran's use of drones meant that the US was operating without complete air superiority for the first time since the Korean War.

“They (the enemies) say [Iran’s] aerospace, drone, and missile programs are even more important than its nuclear [work],” Hajizadeh stressed.

“The enemy admits that its [policy of] ‘maximum pressure’ and its [imposition of] crippling sanctions have been faced with ignominious defeat,” he continued.

The IRGC Aerospace commander said Iran is the leader in developing surface-to-air missiles based on UAVs, adding that the country owes its progress to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei’s “prudence".

"If today the enemies are worried about this power and are calling for negotiations and are looking for a resolution in the Congress to contain Iran, all this is the result of the implementation of these measures," Hajizadeh asserted.

Iran's Home-Made 'Zoljanah' Satellite Carrier under Launch Tests

— Fars News Agency (@EnglishFars) June 16, 2022

It is the third military satellite Iran will put into orbit.

The IRGC Aerospace Force successfully launched a reconnaissance satellite named 'Nour-2' into the orbit in March. 'Nour-2' satellite was sent to the space on the back of the home-built launcher Qassed (messenger) and was placed into the orbit at an altitude of 500 km.

'Nour-1', the first military satellite of Iran, was successfully launched and put into orbit by the Qassed carrier in April 2020. It was placed into the orbit at an altitude of 425km. Later, the IRGC Aerospace Force released images taken by Nour-1, showing Al-Udeid base in Qatar, which hosts thousands of American forces.

Source: Fars News Agency

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FM Aide Urges UN to Terminate Yemen's Economic Siege


Khaji said on Sunday that it is now time for the United Nations to make a decision on removing the economic siege imposed on Yemen, and extending the ceasefire.

Khaji made the remarks in a meeting with the Italian foreign ministry’s special representative for Yemen and Afghanistan affairs while stressing the need for adopting a practical strategy to resolve the crisis in Yemen.

During the meeting, both sides exchanged views on the latest development of the Yemeni crisis and the peace process in the country.

The two officials also discussed the latest ceasefire situation in Yemen, calling for implementing the provisions of the ceasefire agreement, particularly humanitarian issues.

The Iranian diplomat elaborated on Tehran’s intermediary and humanitarian efforts to put an end to the imposed war against the defenseless and oppressed people of Yemen, as well as establishing a ceasefire and a fair peace.

From the onset, Iran believed that the Yemen crisis had no military solution, Khaji noted, adding that the crisis should be resolved through Yemeni-Yemeni political dialogue. 

Iran supports any ceasefire and peace initiative that will end the suffering of the Yemeni people and bring lasting peace and security to the country, the senior Iranian diplomat continued.

Saudi Arabia launched a devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the US, the UK and other Western states.

The objective was to reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, and crush the Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen.

While the Saudi-led coalition has failed to meet its objectives, the war has killed hundreds of thousands of Yemenis and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The conflict has been described by the UN as the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis”, and has resulted in the deaths of 377,000 people, more than two-thirds under the age of five, per UN figures at the end of 2021.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran says it won’t be rushed by Western powers into ‘quick’ nuclear deal

25 July ,2022

Iran said on Monday it will not be rushed into a “quick” deal reviving its faltering 2015 nuclear accord with world powers, as negotiations remain deadlocked.

“They demand that Iran makes a quick decision, (insisting that) time is limited and Iran must respond quickly,” foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said at his weekly news conference, referring to Western parties to the nuclear deal.

Kanani said the Islamic republic will “not sacrifice the country’s fundamental interests... with a rushed process.”

It was being put under “psychological pressure and unilateral expectations,” he said.

But “if the US acts constructively and positively, an agreement is close,” Kanani said.

The 2015 agreement gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its atomic program to guarantee that it could not develop a nuclear weapon -- something it has always denied seeking.

But the US’ unilateral withdrawal from the accord in 2018 under then-president Donald Trump and Washington’s reimposition of biting economic sanctions prompted Iran to begin rolling back on its own commitments.

Talks in Vienna that started in April 2021 to restore the deal have stalled since March amid differences between Tehran and Washington on several issues.

The two sides negotiated indirectly through the European Union coordinator.

Qatar hosted indirect talks last month between the United States and Iran in a bid to get the Vienna process back on track, but those discussions broke up after two days without any breakthrough.

On Thursday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Iran “doesn’t seem to have made the political decision -- or decisions, I should say -- necessary to achieve a mutual return to compliance” with the deal.

France’s envoy to the UN, Nicolas de Riviere, in June urged Iran to “seize without further delay the offer on the table.”

French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday told his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi that reviving the landmark deal was “still possible” but must happen “as soon as possible.”

Macron’s comments came after Britain’s spy chief voiced doubt that the deal can be revived, saying Iran’s supreme leader and ultimate decision-maker Ayatollah Ali Khamenei remained opposed.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Turkey’s Erdogan says he will buy more oil, gas from Iran

26 July 2022

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced that his country would increase its purchases of Iranian oil and gas, a week after meeting with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raeisi in Tehran.

“Turkey will increase its purchases of oil and natural gas from Iran,” Erdogan said in an interview with state broadcaster TRT Haber on Monday.

He noted that the trade volume between Turkey and Iran will reach $30 billion per year.

Erdogan also referred to the eight important agreements signed with Iranian officials during his recent trip to Iran.

Speaking at a joint conference with Raeisi in Tehran on July 19, the Turkish president hoped for the expansion of bilateral ties while regretting that the coronavirus pandemic had been an obstacle in recent years.

Raeisi also said that Erdogan’s visit would undoubtedly serve as a turning point in the expansion of the bilateral ties, adding that the countries were “serious” regarding the development of their relations.

The level of the countries’ trade ties could reach $30 billion, namely three times their current level, the Iranian president said.

Source: Press TV

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UN: Libya Is ‘Highly Volatile’ and Elections Are Needed Soon

July 26, 2022

UNITED NATIONS: Libya is mired in a constitutional and political stalemate that has sparked increasing clashes, a dire economic situation and demonstrations across the country by frustrated citizens, a senior UN official said Monday.

Assistant Secretary-General Martha Pobee told the UN Security Council the overall situation in Libya remains “highly volatile,” with a tense security situation, “deeply disturbing” shows of force and sporadic violence by militias engaged in political maneuvering.

She also cited a dispute over leadership of the National Oil Corporation and serious human rights concerns, including the reported arrest by armed groups of dozens of protesters who took part in July 1 demonstrations decrying deteriorating living conditions and demanding progress on elections.

Oil-rich Libya has been wracked by conflict since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. The country was split by rival administrations, one in the east backed by military commander Khalifa Haftar and a UN-supported administration in the capital of Tripoli in the west. Each side is supported by different militias and foreign powers.

In April 2019, Haftar and his forces launched an offensive trying to capture Tripoli. His campaign collapsed after Turkey stepped up its military support for the UN-supported government with hundreds of troops and thousands of Syrian mercenaries.

An October 2020 cease-fire accord led to an agreement on a transitional government in early February 2021 headed by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and to the scheduling of elections for last Dec. 24.

But the elections weren’t held. Dbeibah has refused to step down, and in response the country’s east-based lawmakers elected a rival prime minister, Fathy Bashagha, a former interior minister who is now operating a separate administration out of the city of Sirte.

Pobee said a meeting in Geneva last month between the speaker of the country’s east-based parliament, Aguila Saleh, and Khaled Al-Meshri, head of the government’s Supreme Council of State in Tripoli overcame “important contentious points” in a 2017 proposal for a new constitution. But she said they could not agree on one major issue — eligibility requirements for presidential candidates.

The Tripoli-based council insists on banning military personnel as well as dual citizens from running for the country’s top post. That is apparently directed at Haftar, a divisive commander and US citizen who had announced his candidacy for the canceled December election.

Pobee said the UN special adviser on Libya, Stephanie Williams, has remained in contact with both sides “and urged them to bridge this gap.”

At a July 21 meeting of international partners in Istanbul, Williams reiterated that elections are “the only lasting solution that places Libya firmly on the path toward peace and stability,” Pobee said.

Pobee urged council members and Libya’s international partners to use their influence on the rivals to agree on elections as soon as possible.

Libya’s UN ambassador, Taher El Sonni, who represents the Tripoli government, said that “the current situation could get out of hand at any moment unless radical solutions are found away from foreign interventions and political maneuvers.”

He accused the Security Council of doing nothing out of “paralysis” and internal divisions. He urged its members to listen to Libyan protesters “and their overwhelming desire to end this nightmare and get out of this cycle of conflict and never-ending crises.”

The council meeting took place ahead of the July 31 expiration of the mandate for the UN political mission in Libya, which includs a Joint Military Commission monitoring the 2020 cease-fire.

The council’s resolution authorizing the mission called for the withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya, and Pobee said the monitors plan to meet in Sirte in early August to finalize a proposed plan for their withdrawal.

The council voted April 29 to extend the UN mission for just three months because of Russia’s insistence that it must have a new special representative before it has a longer mandate.

Source: Arab News

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Trial of man charged in killing of Muslim family in London, Ont., to be held in different city

Jul 25, 2022

The trial of a man facing terror-related murder charges in the deaths of four members of a Muslim family in London, Ont., will be held in a different city.

Superior Court Justice Renee Pomerance ruled Monday that a change of venue is warranted in the case of Nathaniel Veltman.

The reasons for that decision, as well as the evidence and arguments presented in court, cannot be disclosed due to a publication ban.

The new location has not yet been determined, but proceeding, anticipated to take 12 weeks, is scheduled set to begin on Sept. 5, 2023

Veltman, who was 20 at the time of his arrest, is accused of deliberately hitting the family with his truck as they were out for a walk on the evening of June 6, 2021.

Salman Afzaal, 46, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumnah and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal, were killed. The couple's nine-year-old son was seriously hurt.

Veltman faces four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder in what prosecutors allege was an act of terrorism.

His case will be heading straight to trial without a preliminary inquiry.

The deaths of the Afzaal family sent waves of shock, grief and fear across the country, and spurred ongoing calls for measures to combat Islamophobia.

Last month, London residents and members of the local Muslim community gathered to honour the family a year after the attack.

Source: CBC

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Italy Opens Humanitarian Corridor for 300 Afghan Refugees

July 26, 2022

MILAN: The first of some 300 Afghan refugees arrived in Rome on Monday along a new humanitarian corridor organized by the Italian government and civil society, charities and international organizations, Italy’s Foreign Ministry announced.

The humanitarian corridor aims to give “additional refugees and persecuted Afghans the possibility of a future in dignity and security” following the US withdrawal last August and the Taliban’s reassertion of control, the ministry said.

Thousands of Afghan citizens were evacuated after the fall of Kabul, but many who risked Taliban retribution were left behind. The Foreign Ministry said the corridor, which envisions the transfer of 1,200 refugees from Iran and Pakistan and other neighboring countries, would give priority to women and children.

The first nine Afghan refugees arrived on a flight from Tehran. Another 200 are scheduled to be flown from Islamabad on Wednesday with a third group arriving from Tehran on Thursday.

At the same time, the number of Afghan refugees taking smuggling routes is growing, with some 3,280 arriving in Italy by sea so far this year, according to the UN Refugee agency. The International Organization for Migration, meanwhile, said Afghans are the top nationality daring the perilous central Mediterranean Sea route to European shores, with 8,121 arrivals through last Friday.

Source: Arab News

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Russian FM Lavrov reassures Cairo Egypt will receive purchased Russian grain ‘in full’

24 July 2022

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has reassured Egyptian leaders that their orders for Russian grain will be “fully” met as he commenced a tour of African nations that are dependent on imports for their food supply.

On Sunday, Lavrov gave the reassurance to his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shokry in the capital Cairo, reiterating that Russian grain exporters are committed to their contract liabilities.

“We confirmed the commitment of Russian exporters of cereal products to meet their orders in full,” Lavrov told a joint press conference after talks with Shoukry, adding Russian “President Vladimir Putin stressed this during a recent telephone call with Egyptian President (Abdel Fattah) al-Sisi.”

The development came just two days after Russia and Ukraine signed a landmark deal with the United Nations and Turkey aimed at relieving a global food crisis triggered by blocked Black Sea grain deliveries due to the current war in Ukraine.

Since Moscow began its military operation in Ukraine on February 24, between 20 million and 25 million tons of grain has been blocked in Ukrainian ports, as Ukraine has purportedly laid naval mines to prevent what it called an amphibious invasion of its coast.

Under the deal, safe corridors for grain exports from three Ukrainian ports will be created. Furthermore, the deal seeks to facilitate Russian grain exports by removing them from the scope of Western sanctions, which have been imposed on Russia over its operation in Ukraine.

“The (UN) secretary general (Antonio Guterres) took responsibility for lifting these illicit restrictions, imposed by the United States and the European Union against (Russian) financial and supply chains,” Lavrov added.

Prior to the operation, Russia and Ukraine accounted for 85 percent of Egypt’s wheat imports.

After concluding his trip to Egypt, Lavrov will visit Uganda, Ethiopia and Congo.

Ukraine’s Kherson will be 'liberated' from Russia by September: Official

Separately on Sunday, Sergiy Khlan, an aide to the head of Kherson region, said in an interview with Ukrainian television that Ukraine’s southern region of Kherson, which has been for months under the control of Russian forces, would be recaptured by Ukrainian troops by September.

“We can say that the Kherson region will definitely be liberated by September, and all the occupiers' plans will fail,” he said.

Since the beginning of the operation, the US and its European allies have been pouring advanced weapons into Ukraine to help its military to fend off Russian forces, despite Moscow’s repeated warnings that such a flood of weapons will only prolong the war.

The Ukrainian army, now emboldened by deliveries of Western-supplied long-range artillery, has been recapturing territory in the southern Kherson region in recent weeks.

“We can say that a turning point has occurred on the battlefield. We see that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are prevailing in their most recent military operations,” Khlan said. “We see that our armed forces are advancing openly. We can say that we are switching from defensive to counteroffensive actions.”

The official, then, claimed the Ukrainian military strikes on two key bridges in the region, as well as attacks on Russian arms depots and command posts, were just paving the way for a ground offensive.

“Now the key issue is getting more precision artillery strikes on the frontline to knock out the Russians from their current positions,” Khlan said.

Source: Press TV

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Don’t complain about Muslim-Muslim ticket – Yoruba Muslim scholars tell Nigerians

July 25, 2022

By Musliudeen Adebayo

Concerned Yoruba Muslim Scholars in Nigeria (CONYORMS) have advised Nigerians not to complain about the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Recall that the APC presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu had picked former governor of Borno State, Kashim Shetima as his running mate.

Our correspondent gathered that the decision has attracted several criticisms among some Nigerians.

The CONYORMS has, however, advised Nigerians not to complain about the decision.

CONYORMS while addressing a press conference in Ibadan on Monday said that the former governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola who is a Christian had a Christian Deputy in the person of Erelu Olusola Obada and the Muslims in the state did not complain.

The organisation said Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti who is a Christian also had a Christian Deputy in Ekiti. They added that the governor-elect in Ekiti State, Biodun Abayomi Oyebamiji, who is a Christian also has a Christian Deputy.

CONYORMS President General, Shayk Abdulrasheed Mayaleke while addressing journalists, insisted that the organisation was shocked by the various oppositions that trailed the choice of Shettima as the running mate to Tinubu.

Mayaleke, flanked by Professor Abideen Olaiya, Dr. Daud Amoo Alaga, Sheikh Abdulfatai Sanni, Barristers Abdulwaheed Olowonjaye and Abdulganiy Sahid Olaide, added that governors like Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo) Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) Olagunsoye Oyinlola (Osun) had Christians as their deputies but the Muslims did not complain.

He insisted that CONYORMS finds it imperative to assert that the choice of Shettima as the running mate to Tinubu is most appropriate and well deserved.

“So, why are we complaining of the Muslim-Muslim ticket. The politicians know what they want. People should not complain.

“The Concerned Yoruba Muslim Scholars in Nigeria are alarmed at the hypocritical public outcry by some section of Christian leaders and followers against the choice of Senator Kashim Shettima as running mate to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the 2023 presidential election.

“Unfortunately, people who are supposed to be a moral guide for a united and prosperous nation have now become agents of the opposition party just for a miserable price.

“We are greatly shocked at the height of the prejudice being expressed by opposition parties masquerading under different names or groups. It is therefore compelling to remind and enlighten well-meaning Nigerians about the potential of these great candidates who are of unassailable competencies.

Source: Daily Post Nigeria

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Tunisians back new constitution but turnout just 25 percent, exit poll says

26 July ,2022

Voters in a referendum in Tunisia on Monday overwhelmingly backed a new constitution giving President Kais Saied nearly total powers but with only a quarter of eligible voters participating, an exit poll said, amid a boycott by opposition parties.

The poll by Sigma Conseil said 92.3 percent of voters in the referendum supported the new constitution, which with no minimum participation rate is now set to become law. Turnout was 25 percent, the exit poll showed.

Critics of Saied accuse him of a coup for ousting the elected parliament a year ago and moving to rule by decree - steps they say will be formalized in the new constitution, dismantling the democracy won in a 2011 revolution.

The new constitution gives the president power over both the government and judiciary while removing checks on his authority and weakening the parliament.

Saied has said his moves were needed to save Tunisia from years of political paralysis and economic stagnation under a 2014 constitution that split power between the parliament and president.

His initial moves against the parliament appeared hugely popular with Tunisians, as thousands flooded the streets to support him, but with little progress in addressing dire economic problems, that support may have waned.

Final turnout figures for the referendum will be closely watched and the electoral commission is expected to release its own preliminary number later on Monday.

The lowest turnout of any national election since the 2011 revolution, which triggered the Arab Spring, was 41 percent in 2019 for the parliament that Saied has dissolved.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Only 25% of registered voters took part in Tunisian referendum: Polling institute

Adel Al-Thabti  


TUNIS, Tunisia

Only 25% of Tunisia’s registered voters took part in the July 25 referendum on President Kais Saied’s proposed new constitution, the director of polling institute Sigma Conseil said late Monday.

Speaking on Tunisian public television, Hassan Zargouni also said that 92.3% of the participants voted in favor of the draft constitution.

Zargouni highlighted that "nearly 75% of Tunisian voters did not participate in the ballot."

Polling stations for the referendum closed Monday evening.

The country's electoral board, however, said the voter turnout was 27.5% of the eligible voters.

Polling stations opened at 6 a.m. local time (0500GMT).

According to the Independent High Authority for Elections, over 9 million people were expected to take part in the referendum.

Meanwhile, Saied accused parties -- without naming them -- of creating a crisis to distract people from real issues in the country.

In a statement while heading for a polling station in the capital Tunis, he vowed to hold the parties accountable and to bring them to justice.

He also asked Tunisians to cast their votes on the constitution and not to leave Tunisia for those who, according to him, work against it, whether inside or outside.

"We will start together a new history based on the responsibility of the official in front of the people who elected him," Saied said.

Later in the day, the Independent High Authority for Elections announced that so far, 1.21 million voters, or 13.6%, had participated in the referendum as of 3.30 p.m. local time (1430GMT).

The authority’s president, Farouk Bouasker, said the voting process is underway "naturally," affirming that "voters are free to vote yes or no."

He stated that after 10 p.m. local time (2100GMT), the polling centers turn into vote counting centers.

Tunisia has been undergoing a severe political crisis since July 25, 2021, when Saied sacked the government and suspended parliament.

Tunisian forces consider these measures a "coup against the constitution," but others see them as a "correction of the course of the 2011 revolution," which overthrew then-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Egypt warns of Ethiopia’s unilateral steps regarding Nile dam

Hussameldin Abdelgadir Salih Mohamed  


Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday warned of repercussions of Ethiopia's unilateral steps amid a decades-long dispute regarding a controversial dam project on the Nile River.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Cairo with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, al-Sisi said he agreed with his Somali counterpart on the gravity of unilateral steps in the file of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

“Cooperation between riparian countries is important to avoid harms,” he stressed.

Al-Sisi said his talks with the Somali president dwelt on regional developments in the Horn of Africa region.

“We agreed to work together to maintain security and stability in this important and strategic region,” he added.

The Egyptian leader said he also agreed with his Somali counterpart to intensify coordination between Egypt and Somalia regarding security in the Red Sea.

Sheikh Mohamud started an official visit to Egypt on Sunday, his seventh overseas visit since he became president in May.

Egypt views the GERD as an existential threat to its water share from the Nile, the country’s only source of freshwater. Egypt and Sudan, two downstream nations, want a legally-binding agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD, a demand resisted by Ethiopia.

Years-long negotiations between the three countries have failed to make any breakthrough.

Last year, the UN Security Council called on Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to resume the African Union-led negotiations to reach an agreement on the filling and operation of the dam “within a reasonable time frame.”

Source: Anadolu Agency

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North America


Lawmakers Urge Biden To Seek Muslim Attorney Asim Ghafoor’s Release

Anwar Iqbal

July 26, 2022

WASHINGTON: Five US lawmakers — two senators and three members of the US House of Representatives — have pressed President Joe Biden to raise Asim Ghafoor’s detention with the highest levels of the UAE government and advocate for his fair and humane treatment.

Asim Ghafoor, a Virginia resident, is a US-born Muslim of South Asian origin. He is also a board member of an Arab advocacy group called Dawn — Democracy for the Arab World Now.

Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine and Representatives Jennifer Wexton, Don Beyer and Gerry Connolly wrote in their letter that Mr Ghafoor was “tried in absentia, detained without notice of his conviction, and sentenced to prison on to-date unsubstantiated charges by United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities.”

Mr Ghafoor was a close personal friend of The Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi who was murdered at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2018. He also served as Mr Khashoggi’s legal counsel.

Mr Ghafoor was detained by the UAE authorities on July 14 this year while transiting Dubai International Airport, and was sentenced to three years in prison on July 16. He was transiting through Dubai to attend a wedding in Turkey when arrested.

“The UAE’s decision to detain Mr Ghafoor — without notice or opportunity to seek legal counsel — represents a gross violation of his due process rights,” the lawmakers wrote.

Mr Ghafoor became popular in the American Muslim community after 9/11, when he represented many Muslims and Arabs facing deportation and detention on various charges. From 1997 to 2000, he served as Legislative Assistant to Congressman Ciro D. Rodriguez, a Texas Democrat.

Last week, US authorities rejected UAE’s claim that they had sought the lawyer’s arrest on previous charges of tax evasion and money laundering. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said at a news briefing earlier this week that the US did not seek Mr Ghafoor’s arrest and has conveyed to the UAE its expectation that he “be afforded a fair and transparent legal process and that he be treated humanely”.

Source: Dawn

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US's Blinken presses peace in calls with Armenian, Azerbaijani leaders

26 July ,2022

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke separately with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan on Monday to try to nudge the former Soviet republics, which fought a six-week war in 2020 over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, toward peace.

In nearly identical statements, the State Department said Blinken had discussed the two nations' “historic opportunity to achieve peace in the region” with both Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

Blinken hailed a recent meeting between the two countries' foreign ministers, encouraged continued dialogue and offered US assistance in “facilitating regional transportation and communication linkages,” the department said in its statements.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US sneaks 156-vehicle convoy out of its illegal Syria base

24 July 2022

US occupation forces in Syria have reportedly sneaked out of its illegal military base in Kharab al-Jir Airport in the northeastern city of Hasaka with nearly 160 heavy vehicles and military hardware, taking them into northern Iraq.

“A convoy of 156 vehicles, including 40 refrigerating cars and more than 50 tankers carrying military equipment, containers, cannons, and a number of Hummers, some of which carry huge devices,” were taken into Iraq through the illegal al-Waleed border crossing, Syria’s official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported Friday, citing “local sources from the [nearby] countryside of Rmelan.”

The report further cited its sources as noting that the trucks were accompanied by 25 military armored vehicles belonging to the US occupation forces to secure their safe passage across the border.

The sources did not elaborate on the nature of the “huge devices,” but reiterated that American occupation forces periodically transfer defective weapons and vehicles into Iraq, occasionally replacing them with new ones.

The refrigerated trucks are believed to be filled with food, medicine and other logistical materials while in Iraq to support the occupying US forces based in the war-ravaged Arab nation.

Last month, according to SANA’s sources, the American troops and their Kurdish mercenaries, referred to as ‘Syrian Democratic Forces' or SDF, transferred a 40-truck convoy loaded with stolen Syrian wheat out of the country, and, separately, removed a convoy containing 36 defective military vehicles to Iraq.

The US has tried to justify its illegal military presence in eastern Syria by persistently claiming that its troops are there to prevent a resurgence of the notorious Daesh terrorists, widely believed to have been trained and supplied by American forces and a despotic Arab regime allied with Washington.

Damascus, meanwhile, has repeatedly blamed Washington for deliberately waging an economic war on Syria by controlling 90 percent of the country’s oil resources and its finest agricultural lands, while imposing brutal sanctions on the country and preventing the import of everything from medicines and food to emergency energy supplies.

Syrian authorities, however, have also expressed confidence that Damascus will soon restore their control over all of its occupied territories. They have further urged the country’s ethnic Kurds – who have trusted the American pledge of protection against Daesh terrorists – that Washington would soon abandon them after plundering the nation’s resources.

The development came days after Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi slammed illegitimate US military presence in Syria and demanded immediate removal of American troops from Syria as well as the entire Middle East. He further censured Washington for violating Syria’s territorial integrity and ruining “peace and international security.”

Iran, Russia, and Turkey held a trilateral summit on the Syria peace process earlier in the week, condemning foreign interference in the Arab nation and reiterating Syrians’ right to determine their country’s fate.

The seventh summit of the Astana process was held on Tuesday in Tehran and attended by President Raeisi, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Addressing the event, Raeisi said Syria's fate had to be decided by its own people and that military intervention will only aggravate the situation there.

Source: Press TV

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