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Terror Incidents In The West Have Roots In Pakistan, Say Scholars At U.N.

New Age Islam News Bureau

20 Sept 2017

Angry confrontation breaks out between Muslim worshippers and police after officers walk into mosque wearing SHOES



 Terror Incidents In The West Have Roots In Pakistan, Say Scholars At U.N.

 Sabah Church Seeks Basis for ‘Allah’ Ban, But Govt Says It’s A ‘Secret’

 No One Ready to Become Kashmir's LeT Chief after Abu Ismail Killing: DGP

 Muslim Worshippers Confront Police for Entering UK Mosque Wearing Shoes

 Hamas Invites Palestinian President Abbas to Resume Control of Gaza



 Terror Incidents In The West Have Roots In Pakistan, Say Scholars At U.N.

 Extremist Outfits Asked To Shun Violence to Participate In Polls

 Rohingya Muslims: Pakistan asks OIC to play its role

 Two suspected LeJ target killers arrested in Karachi ahead of Muharram: CTD

 Pak Army most battle-hardened in world: COAS

 Ulema urged to promote peace in Muharram


Southeast Asia

 Sabah Church Seeks Basis for ‘Allah’ Ban, But Govt Says It’s A ‘Secret’

 ISIS, Al-Qaeda Drawn To Crisis in Rakhine State

 Police looking into possible presence of Malaysian fighters in Myanmar

 The difficult choices of non-Muslim Malaysians

 Malaysia was never meant to be an Islamic country, says former IGP

 Funny, cute responses from Muslim ladies on Halimah’s presidency

 China Offers Support to Myanmar at UN amid Rohingya Crisis



 No One Ready to Become Kashmir's LeT Chief after Abu Ismail Killing: DGP

 Security Beefed Up To Check Entry of Rohingya Muslims along Indo-Myanmar Border

 This Indian Muslim Will Fast To Protect Cows

 No politics or religion in govt's stand on Rohingya: Ram Madhav

 Russia keen to work with India on Afghanistan

 Hizbul Mujahideen forces youth to confess on gunpoint

 NIA arrests two for providing support to infiltrators in Kashmir



 Muslim Worshippers Confront Police for Entering UK Mosque Wearing Shoes

 Police Arrest Pakistani Jihadi Suspect in Spain

 German Election: AfD Islamophobia Could Help Get Out the Muslim Vote

 Rohingya Muslim Crisis: UK Bans Military Training In Burma over Ethnic Cleansing

 Has British government decided not to tag terror with religion?

 UK weapons companies earned over £6bn from Yemen war: Charity

 Parsons Green attack: No evidence Isis is systematically using refugees for terror plots, research finds



 Hamas Invites Palestinian President Abbas to Resume Control of Gaza

 Saudi Forces Carry out Operations near Yemen Border, Killing 70 Houthis

 Turkey Warns Of Global Conflict If Iraq or Syria Break Up

 US military official: Iran continues to arm Houthi militias

 Turkish tanks trained on northern Iraq in show of force ahead of vote

 How Iran-backed Popular Mobilization militias threatened Iraqi Kurds

 Iraq breakup will lead to global conflict: Turkish minister

 More Palestinians seek Abbas' resignation, remain skeptical of Trump, survey shows

 Israeli fighter jet bombs positions in occupied Golan Heights

 Almost 2 million people internally displaced in Yemen: UN

 Iranian president: No one will trust US if Trump nixes JCPOA

 Trump's UN speech 'belongs in medieval times,' says Iran’s Zarif


North America

 Time to Expose Countries Supporting Terror Groups: Trump

 Trump Calls Iran Nuclear Deal an 'Embarrassment' To US

 US Halts Arms Sales to Erdogan Bodyguards

 US President Trump slams Iran in first speech to UN

 Tens of millions of Americans do not believe Muslims and atheists have First Amendment rights, study finds


South Asia

 Ghani to Brief UN Regarding Terrorism and Regional Support Terror Groups Receive

 Suu Kyi Breaks Silence, Defends Handling of Rohingya Crisis

 Won’t keep Rohingya asylum-seekers for long: Colombo

 Who calls the shots in Hefazat now?

 Hekmatyar claims his party’s presence has prevented the govt from collapse

 2 members of Pak-based Lashkar-e-Islam killed in Nangarhar airstrike


Arab World

 Saudi Arabia Arrests Two Rights Activists

 Curfew Imposed In Iraq’s Kirkuk after Clashes over Kurdistan Vote

 King Salman orders additional $15 million for Rohingyas

 Iraqi forces recapture village in Anbar from Daesh terrorists

 Syria: US Forces, Affiliated Militants Destroy Abandoned Base in Eastern Homs

 Militants in More Regions End Battle against Syrian Army

 35 Militant Groups Declare Readiness to End Fight with Syrian Army in Idlib

 Barzani demands alternative to referendum be presented within three days

 Arab quartet meet in New York to discuss new approach to Qatar crisis

 Trump denies warning Saudi Arabia over military action against Qatar

 Qatari Emir at the UN calls for ‘unconditional dialogue’

 Saudi Crown Prince, British Defense Minister Sign military agreement

 Syria repels massive attack led by Nusra Front



 Africa: What Makes Young African Muslims Join Jihadi Groups?

 Exploring religion as a source of resistance and creation

 Police fire tear gas to disperse election protesters in Kenya

 Sudan’s Bashir announces Darfur disarmament drive

 South Sudan clashes leave 16 dead

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Terror incidents in the West have roots in Pakistan, say scholars at U.N.


Geneva [Switzerland], September 20 : Accusing Pakistan of harbouring and funding terror outfits responsible for violent incidents in the West and South Asia, the scholars at the United Nations have asked Islamabad to act.

The European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS), a policy research organisation based in Amsterdam, held a side-event on terrorism in South Asia, during the 36th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Dr. Paul Stott, of the University of Leicester, said that many terror incidents have taken place in the U.K., which have its roots in Pakistan.

"My concern sometimes is that there are organisations banned in Pakistan, same organisatons banned in the U.K. and they seem to have maintained political religious structures. They seem to have organised funds. Pakistan should have learnt this lesson from 7/7 bombings where two of the four attackers were trained from Pakistan and obviously, they used those skills to attack the U.K. and that's the real problem," he said.

He added, "We can't keep our eyes out of the ball. We can't take our eyes off Pakistan; we can't take our eyes off the areas where some of the terrorist organisations from Pakistan have an influence and are able to recruit young people."

Dr. Stott used the term 'British Jihadism' to refer to the involvement of a not-so-insignificant number of British Sunni Muslims with Pakistani origin in armed Islamic groups since the early 1990s in Bosnia, Jammu and Kashmir and in Afghanistan.

He said that Pakistan has been using these terror outfits for proxy wars with its neighbours. In India's Jammu and Kashmir, the terror activities are perpetrated by outfits based in Pakistan, he added.

"You have state-sponsored terrorism, where the state simply turns a blind eye, because the action by terrorist groups is in their interest. Obviously, in Kashmir, Pakistan historically has taken the view in its interest, may be served by some of these jihadi organisations. That's the dangerous game to play, because once you start riding that tiger, you don't know what's going to happen and eventually you fall off", said Dr. Paul Stott.

Prof. Rob McCusker, a former FBI officer now teaching at the De Montfort University in Leicester said that Pakistan needs to find a way to deal with terrorism and give emphasis to find the source of funding these outfits.

He said, "I think Pakistan has an historical problem, which is the perception that you have harboured al Qaeda in the past; that there is enough support to al Qaeda and other similar organisations in Pakistan. Similarly, we have heard the questions from the audience today that the feeling in the U.K. that the majority of Muslims don't believe that 9/11 was perpetrated by Muslim terrorists. So, Pakistan has to draw upon its own expertise in its own area. There are a lot of Western-centric ideas given to Pakistan as how they should deal with things. Pakistan, as a country, has an expertise, knowledge and experience to deal with terrorism, far more than anymore in the West. I think we should be learning lessons from Pakistan. Islamabad also has to take a very systematic approach; they have to be shown to be engaging in all of the anti-terrorism efforts around the world that includes looking at the financing of terrorism which is a major issue. Not so much hiding criminal organisations there."

Burzine Waghmar, of the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, and Prof. Boris Wilke, a senior researcher and a political scientist at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence of the Bielefeld University in Germany, also spoke about terrorism and the Kashmir issue.

The event was moderated by Junaid Qureshi, a Kashmiri writer from the Valley of Kashmir and Director of EFSAS.



Sabah church seeks basis for ‘Allah’ ban, but govt says it’s a ‘secret’


September 19, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — A Sabah church today asked the courts to order the government to disclose documents showing why it had banned non-Muslims from using the Arabic word “Allah”, but the government objected by saying such documents were classified as “official secrets”.

Lim Heng Seng, the lead counsel for the Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) Sabah church, argued that it was necessary for the government to reveal information relating to its original ban in 1986 on the word “Allah” in non-Muslim publications.

Noting that the Home Ministry had cited the 1986 government circular after its 2007 seizure of SIB Sabah’s Christian education, Lim said this initial ban was the “root” behind recurring problems faced by local Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Christians who have been using the word “Allah” for hundreds of years.

He described the situation as akin to the “Sword of Damocles” hanging over Malaysian churches’ head, where the 31-year-old ban was not always enforced but would from time to time be used by “little Napoleons” for seizures that would later be reversed after brought to the attention of senior officials like the prime minister or ministers.

“In what way is it justified that the word used for generations is a threat to public order? Show us the documents,” he told the High Court here, arguing that the government could not “out of the blue” stop the Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Christians from using the “Allah” word which they consider sacred.

“We have no such research, we have no such reports prior to or after 1986 that shows Christians using the word ‘Allah’ have caused public disorder,” he further said.

Noting that the government has neither denied nor confirmed the existence of documents which were used for the 1986 ban’s basis, Lim said the government should either furnish the information or clarify that it did not have such documents.

This would then allow the courts to determine if the government had imposed a reasonable restriction — such as when public order is under threat — on the local Christians’ constitutional rights, he said.

‘Official secret’ is just a label?

Senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan had argued that the documents sought by SIB Sabah cannot be disclosed as they fall under the Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA).

Lim had earlier acknowledged that the government would not be required to reveal the existence of documents if it would hurt public interest, arguing however that the “official secret” phrase used to classify certain government documents is just a “label”.

“Just because the magic word ‘OSA’ is pasted on a certain document, that doesn’t make it injurious to public interest,” Lim argued.

Shamsul had also described the church’s application for document disclosure by the government as a “fishing expedition”, arguing that it was not relevant when it was not shown that the government’s evidence was inaccurate or false.

“So to sum up, we say the applicants have no right for discovery and we say they are not entitled for this discovery application,” he said.

High Court judge Datuk Nor Bee Ariffin said the decision on the church’s discovery of documents application will be delivered on a later date.

The church had sought for two sets of documents, including documents such as letters and meetings minutes containing the reasons for the government’s 1986 “Allah” ban; documents showing confusion among Malaysians or misunderstanding between Muslims and Christians over the use of the word “Allah” in Bahasa Malaysia Christian publications; or showing threats to public order due to non-Muslims’ use of the term.

The second set of documents sought was for those where the government had granted approval to import, publish, produce, distribute or own any Christian publications with the word “Allah”.

Sabah SIB today informed the judge that it was not pursuing its previous application to cross-examine Home Ministry official Barkhiya Shahiruddin, saying that the documents if disclosed or revealed as non-existent would be sufficient for them to proceed with the lawsuit.

The Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council, represented by Zirwatul Hanan, was present in court today as amicus curiae or friend of the court.

Today’s court case was sparked off by the August 15, 2007 seizure of SIB Sabah’s Sunday school materials at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal airport in Sepang, with the education materials for Christian children then returned on January 28, 2008 under the condition that the front page would be stamped with a “cross” sign and the words “ Christian publication”.

SIB Sabah and its president Rev Datuk Jerry Dusing had on December 10, 2007 filed for judicial review against the Home Ministry and government, but the case involving the former’s constitutional rights has yet to be heard on its merits.

Five expert opinions in another ‘Allah’ case

A similar case involving government seizure of Christian materials that were brought in for personal or internal use is Sarawakian Christian Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill’s lawsuit over her compact discs containing the word “Allah”, which will be heard on October 19 in relation to her constitutional rights.

Lim confirmed that three affidavits or sworn statements by three senior local Christian leaders were filed last week, namely Sabah Council of Churches president Bishop Melter Tais, Association of Churches in Sarawak chairman and SIB Sarawak president Rev Datuk Dr Justin Wan, National Evangelical Christian Fellowship Bahasa Malaysia and Orang Asli commission executive secretary Rev Alfred Tais.

The three affidavits relate to facts on the historical and current usage of the word “Allah” and its importance to the Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Christians, Lim said.

Shamsul confirmed that the government had also for the Jill Ireland case filed in two affidavits with expert opinions from Universiti Malaya’s associate professor Dr Khadijah Mohd Khambali @ Hambali and Institute of Islamic Understanding’s (Ikim) main fellow Dr Mohd Sani Badron on the use of the word “Allah”.

Lim said about 60 per cent of the local Christian population have been using Bahasa Malaysia in their religious practice, with many of them from the Bumiputera community in Sabah and Sarawak.



No one ready to become Kashmir's LeT chief after Abu Ismail killing: DGP

M Saleem Pandit

Sep 20, 2017

SRINAGAR: No militant is ready to become chief of the Lashkar-e-Taiba terror outfit in Kashmir after the killing of Pakistani terrorist Abu Ismail+ in an encounter last week, said S P Vaid, director general of Jammu and Kashmir Police, on Monday.

"I heard there is a vacancy for the commander's post in Lashkar, but no one is ready to apply," Vaid said while replying to a question about the recruitment of a new LeT chief in the Valley.

While inaugurating the three-day water sports festival — 'Jashn-e-Dal' and Shikara Race — organised by the J&K Police at Dal Lake, Vaid urged local militants to renounce the path of violence and join the mainstream. "Be it elders, religious leaders, parents or political leaders, I appeal to all to help children distinguish between the good and bad. One must tread upon the right path and fulfil the mission of life. Bloodshed won't yield anything," he added.

Vaid said the J&K police have recently rescued 60 youths from militancy and counselled them. "We're counselling out of militancy all those boys whose cases are brought to our notice. They are our kids and we don't want them to go the wrong way," said the DGP, adding that there are clear instructions to the security forces to give a chance to those militants who are ready to surrender.

Attempts are being made to bring the youths back into the mainstream. Security personnel are trying to engage them so that they remain away from drugs and militancy, said Vaid.



Muslim worshippers confront police for entering UK mosque wearing shoes

19 Sep, 2017

Footage has emerged revealing the moment Muslim worshippers angrily confront police officers who entered their mosque without first removing their shoes.

Police said they were called to the Townfield Mosque in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, following reports of an altercation, but found themselves embroiled in one themselves after failing to remove their footwear.

The mobile phone footage taken by one onlooker shows a group of male and female police officers entering the mosque with their shoes on, breaking the Islamic custom of removing them.

In Islam, worshippers are expected to go barefoot inside the mosque as a gesture of cleansing themselves before starting prayer, as well as to keep the holy space clear of dirt.

One worshipper in the footage can be heard shouting “get them out.”

Although one officer appears to try and explain why they are there, the worshippers pay no attention, attacking the authorities’ apparent disrespect for their religious customs.

The man filming follows one officer and tells viewers “this man thinks he’s a bad man,” while one officer can be heard telling the worshippers to “chill.”

A female police officer then comes into view. The man filming asks why men are speaking to her.

An announcement over a tannoy tells worshippers they should make their way out of the mosque.

Zafar Iqbal, former chairman of the Wycombe Islamic Mission, told the Bucks Free Press: “There was a lot of shouting but there was no need to call the police.

“When they arrived there were around 400 to 500 people here for prayers so the whole road had to be closed.”

A Thames Valley Police spokesman said: “Officers were called on Friday at about 1.40pm following reports of an altercation at a mosque in Totteridge Road, High Wycombe.

“Officers were responding to an immediate call for assistance and as a result, and to prevent any serious harm to individuals or any further outbreak of violence, officers entered the mosque, and spoke to people who were present.



Hamas invites Palestinian President Abbas to resume control of Gaza

Sep 20, 2017

Hamas has invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to send officials to Gaza to resume control of the coastal enclave seized by the Islamist group a decade ago.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh made the announcement Tuesday, saying his group is serious about returning power to the Western-backed Palestinian leader and calling on him to respond with practical steps.

Hamas, in financial and political distress after years of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, this week announced it was disbanding a contentious committee that has governed Gaza in recent months, a key Abbas demand.

It also said it was ready to hand over all government functions to Abbas and to hold elections in Gaza and the West Bank.





Extremist outfits asked to shun violence to participate in polls

September 20, 2017

PESHAWAR: Awami National Party president Asfandyar Wali Khan on Tuesday urged jehadi and extremist organisations to abandon violence before participating in electoral politics.

“Entry of these groups in mainstream political process is a positive step. But they should publicly disassociate themselves from their past activities and apologise for it,” replied Asfandyar Wali when asked about the participation of the Milli Muslim League (MML) and other similar groups in the NA-120 Lahore by-polls.

“If they (jehadi and extremist outfits) are joining the mainstream politics without giving up their previous activities, then it will be dangerous for the society,” he told a news conference here at the Bacha Khan Markaz after chairing a meeting of the party’s central council.

The MML, the newly-formed political wing of the banned Jamaatud Dawa, is contesting the by-elections in NA-4 Peshawar next month.

The ANP leader did not comment on the statement of Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa in which he talked about increase in defence budget which was currently nearly 18 percent.

“I just read his statement in newspapers. I will comment on it once his statement is discussed at the party’s platforms,” he said.

About the prevailing situation in the country, Mr Asfandyar said a tug of war among institutions would undermine the system.

He said the system could not afford misadventure and that rumours were being spread about postponing general elections and formation of a national government.

The ANP leader said an independent and strong parliament could resolve all problems and should allow parliament to play its role.

He said dictatorship was the root cause of the mess and that only a strong parliament could prevent martial law in the country.

He said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz was on the path of confrontation with institutions and such behaviour was harmful for the ruling party.

Expressing reservations about the population census report, Mr Asfandyar said the census statistics about the Federally Administered Tribal Areas were inaccurate.

He said population in other areas of the country had increased but ironically, it decreased in Fata, particularly North Waziristan.

“The ANP rejects the census report,” he said, demanding fresh census in Fata. He said Fata would get its share under the National Finance Commission award on the basis of population.

The ANP leader criticised the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party for opposing the merger of Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“I do not understand why these two parties oppose the merger of Pakhtuns living in Fata and KP,” he said.

Mr Asfandyar said a party, which made a struggle for the integration of Pakhtuns from Chitral to Bolan (Balochistan), was opposing the merger of Fata.

He said the ANP would continue struggle for the Fata-KP merger and once that was successful, a campaign would be launched for the integration of Pakhtuns in KP and Balochistan.

The ANP leader urged Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to fulfil the federal government’s commitments about the merger of Fata with KP. He said the Durand Line was irrelevant in the context of Fata-KP merger.

“We will eliminate the line that divided Pakhtuns of Fata and KP,” he said, adding that the delay in Fata reforms would generate mistrust.

Mr Asfandyar called for friendly ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan and said peaceful Afghanistan was in the interest of Pakistan.

He regretted that Pakistan did not respond to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer for broader and meaningful bilateral dialogue.

The ANP chief came down heavily on the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf for its policies in KP saying they had resulted in bad governance. He said PTI chief Imran Khan had admitted that his party could not deliver due to a lack of experience.

Mr Asfandyar said after health sector, education sector, too, was on the verge of ruin in the province.


Rohingya Muslims: Pakistan asks OIC to play its role

September 20, 2017

UNITED NATIONS: Addressing the OIC Contact Group meeting here at the UN headquarters, PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi expressed "deep concern" over the grave situation of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and urged upon the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to play a leading role to this virtuous cause.

PM assured the OIC that "Pakistan reiterates its commitment to take full part in any humanitarian effort by the OIC or UN to help the Rohingya Muslims".

The Prime Minister said over 400,000 have been forced to flee their homes and seek protection and shelter in neighboring countries and demanded that this "systematic and endemic discrimination" against the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar must end.

He said the international community must exert its utmost pressure on the Government of Myanmar to stop the carnage of the Rohingyas.

Pakistan also demanded of the Government of Myanmar to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation, and ensure safety and security of the Muslim Rohingya population.

He also asked Myanmar to respect its obligations under international law, and hold to account all perpetrators of violence against the Rohingyas.

Pakistan also demanded that the UN immediately allow a UN fact finding mission to the country, and called for immediate access of humanitarian supplies to the affected areas.

Full report at:



Two suspected LeJ target killers arrested in Karachi ahead of Muharram: CTD

Imtiaz Ali

 September 19, 2017

The Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) on Tuesday claimed to have picked up two suspected target killers allegedly belonging to banned militant outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) from Karachi.

In a press release, the CTD said the two men — Muhammad Abdullah Majid and Adnan Ahmad — were involved in sectarian murders and were planning to carry out more attacks during the upcoming month of Muharram.

The two men were arrested during a targeted raid in Bandhani Colony of Liaquatabad near Quba mosque. The CTD also recovered three 9mm pistols, 15 bullets and one motorbike from the suspects' custody.

According to CTD SSP Naveed Ahmed Khawaja, the recent rise in the number of target killings based on ethnic and sectarian affiliations in the metropolis had pushed the CTD to undertake special search operations in various parts of Karachi.

"There were reports that banned jihadist and sectarian outfits were planning to carry out targeted killings of members of their rival sects during the forthcoming month of Muharram," Khawaja said.

During an initial questioning, the held suspects "confessed" to killing several people including those belonging to their "rival sect".

“They were planning more killings during Muharram,” the CTD SSP claimed.

Full report at:



Pak Army most battle-hardened in world: COAS

September 20, 2017

Islamabad - Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa said on Tuesday that Pakistan Army was the most battle-hardened force in the world due to its highest standard of physical fitness, professionalism and motivation of officers and men who face challenges dauntlessly.

According to the ISPR, the COAS said this while addressing the audience of the final of 5th COAS Young Soldiers Inter Central PACES (Physical Agility and Combat Efficiency System) Championship held at Baloch Regimental Centre Abbottabad.

It said that Gen Bajwa appreciated the participants of the competition and trainers for achieving very high standards of physical fitness and professionalism.

The COAS also awarded prizes to the winners. A total of 532 contestants from 23 regimental centres participated in the event.

Engineer Center team won the 5th Army PACES Championship while the Baloch Centre team won the 2nd position in the competition. Sapper Sanat Ullah won the overall best player award of the competition by securing 2,798 marks and Sepoy Muhammad Adil secured the 2nd position by securing 2785 marks.

In individual matches, Sepoy Muhammad Rizwan Abbas secured the first position in 3.2 kilometers run by covering the distance in 10.7 minutes.

Sepoy Muhammad Yaqoob did 102 pull-ups to clinch the 1st position. Sapper Majid Ali secured the first position in sit up match by doing 1131 sit-ups.

Sepoy Muhammad Adil did 1457 push-ups to secure the first position and recruit Muhammad Asees Iqbal won the first position by completing the combat efficiency test in 49.22 seconds and breaking the previous international Chinese record of 50.07 seconds.

Earlier, on arrival in Abbottabad, the Army chief was received by Inspector General Training and Evaluation Lt-Gen Hidayat Ur Rehman and Lt-Gen Nadeem Raza, Commander 10 Corps.

Meanwhile, the COAS also visited Engineers Centre  Risalpur on Tuesday and installed  Lt-Gen Javed Mahmood Bukhari as Colonel Commandant of Corps of Engineers.

The COAS pinned the badges of rank at the ceremony. Lt-Gen Javed Bukhari had the honour to be the sword of honour of his PMA course awarded has the extraordinary record of service and contributions to the service.

The Gen served as Brigade Commander as well as GOC Swat. A large number of serving and retired officers attended the ceremony.

While talking to the audience, the COAS praised contributions of Engineers Corps towards the nation building, natural calamities, and operations.

Full report at:



Ulema urged to promote peace in Muharram

September 20, 2017

BAHAWALPUR/ATTOCK - Punjab Minister for Counterterrorism Ayub Khan urged the Ulema and Zakireen to promote the message of peace, brotherhood and tolerance especially during Muharram.

To counter any extremist activity during Youm-e-Aashur’s Majalis and processions, foolproof security arrangements will be made. He added that important processions and Majalis be monitored through CCTV cameras, he directed while presiding over a meeting of Cabinet Sub Committee at Bahawalpur Circuit House.

The provincial minister said that the members of Peace Committee and public representatives cooperate with the security and administrative departments to maintain peace. Timings be followed strictly and all the rules and restrictions be considered during Majalis and processions, he said.

Provincial Minister Jahangir Khanzada said that Muharramul Haram preaches the lesson of peace, tolerance and brotherhood. The people participating in Majalis and mourning processions be identified completely and special attention be paid on security matters, he directed.

Inspector General Police Arif Nawaz said that thorough planning be done to ensure foolproof security arrangements and all precautionary measures be taken. He directed the subordinate officers to deploy officials on special duties and their food and other needs be taken care of.

Earlier, the Cabinet Sub Committee was briefed by RPO Raja Riffat Mukhtar and Commissioner Saqib Zafar regarding Muharram plan.

The commissioner said that throughout the division, 1,409 Majalis would be held and 514 mourning processions will be taken out. He added that 56 mourning processions have been placed in category A. For their security, route and schedule are especially being taken into consideration.

RPO Raja Riffat said that during Muharramul Haram, 4,495 police officials and 1,582 volunteers will observe their security duties. He added that at least 15 police officials will be deployed to protect category A gatherings, 8 to category B and 6 to Category C Majalis. He further said that action on the use of Loudspeaker will be taken in accordance with the law.

Mayor Aqeel Najam Hashmi said that Bahawalpur Corporation had allocated funds worth Rs10 million for assisting in the arrangements of mourning processions during Muharramul Haram.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


ISIS, Al-Qaeda drawn to crisis in Rakhine state

Francis Chan

Sep 20, 2017

The plight of the Rohingya, an Islamic minority in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, has evoked strong emotions across the Muslim world.

Many countries have protested against the persecution of the community, following a violent crackdown by the Myanmar army that left hundreds dead and sparked an exodus of more than 410,000 people from Rakhine to Bangladesh.

But as rights groups urge world leaders to impose sanctions on Myanmar's military, which is accused of "ethnic cleansing", a darker danger lies ahead.

Counter-terrorism experts say the crisis has attracted the attention of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as well as Muslim militants and hardliners in Indonesia and Malaysia.

This may result in another longstanding conflict in South-east Asia, following the ongoing siege in the southern Philippine city of Marawi by Islamist militants.

Echoing its strategy in southern Philippines, ISIS has routinely, through its online publication Dabiq, claimed that it plans to establish a base in Bangladesh to launch revenge attacks on the Myanmar government over its treatment of the Muslim Rohingya.

Malaysian counter-terrorism chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said earlier this week that ISIS is exploiting the Rohingya crisis to recruit more fighters, particularly from South-east Asia.

Indeed, latest developments out of Kuala Lumpur have revealed that a group of Malaysians had travelled to Myanmar, via Bangladesh and Thailand, to take on government troops there.

Malaysian police in Kelantan state, which shares a border with southern Thailand, told news agency Bernama that it has identified more than 100 "rat trails" used for smuggling, and has stepped up patrols there to prevent the illegal entry of Rohingya and "untoward incidents".

Meanwhile in Indonesia, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) had called for "jihadists" to travel to Rakhine to fight on behalf of the Rohingya. The FPI has shown that it has the ability to mobilise hundreds of thousands of people, as seen in the many rallies it led against former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Chinese-Christian politician, for insulting Islam earlier this year.

FPI spokesman Slamet Maarif was quoted by The Australian newspaper earlier this month as saying that the group is prepared to wage "jihad", or a holy war, in Myanmar if the need arises. "That is why one of the main requirements for our recruits is the willingness to die as a martyr," he said.

Centre for Radicalism and Deradicalisation Studies executive director Adhe Bhakti said the real danger for Indonesia lies in whether elements of the Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a local terrorist network with ties to ISIS, join the fray. "More influential groups in the context of 'jihad' such as the JAD have yet to appeal for fighters. If they do, that may pose a greater risk," said Mr Adhe.

Islamist militant groups have previously exploited the Rohingya crisis for their cause, notably in 2012 and 2015, but this current conflict has drawn wider attention.

Mr Iftekharul Bashar, an associate research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said the crisis is unfolding at a time when ISIS is losing much of its territory in the Middle East and is trying to expand its hold in South Asia and South-east Asia.

"The recent siege of Marawi... shows that ISIS penetration in the Rakhine state conflict cannot be ruled out," he added.

Datuk Ayob warned that Myanmar's proximity to Malaysia would encourage ISIS to tap the conflict in Rakhine. "Myanmar is closer to Malaysia than Syria and the southern Philippines... and now Rakhine has become their latest destination for 'jihad'," he told Bernama news.

The resurgent Al-Qaeda, which was behind the Sept 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, has also started to make its move, issuing a statement on Sept 12 calling for attacks against the Myanmar government over the Rohingya.

While most of the attention by security agencies has been on ISIS, Mr Bashar warned that Al-Qaeda, and its affiliate in the Indian subcontinent known by the acronym AQIS, is equally dangerous.

AQIS has not carried out any major attacks in Bangladesh in the past few years, but it has recently mentioned the Myanmar military as a key target, added Mr Bashar. "Although the majority of Muslims still support a peaceful settlement with Rohingya returning to their homeland, a smaller segment thinks that an armed 'jihad' is the only solution left to end the plight of the Rohingya."



Police looking into possible presence of Malaysian fighters in Myanmar

Zam Yusa

September 20, 2017


KOTA KINABALU: Police are looking into whether any Malaysians have entered Myanmar to help Rohingya insurgents fight security forces accused of committing genocide against the minority in Rakhine state.

Contrary to some news reports that said some Malaysians had done so, counter-terrorism police confirmed that they had not found such Malaysians so far.

“We are still pursuing information on whether there are Malaysians already in Myanmar to help the Arakan Rohinya Salvation Army (Arsa) fight the Myanmar security forces,” Bukit Aman anti-terrorism chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay told FMT yesterday.

“We are in the midst of investigating this possibility. But so far, to recap, we have picked up two men in Malaysia believed to be planning to do so.”

On Sunday, Ayob Khan said that some Malaysians, supported by the Daesh (Islamic State) militant group, are in the midst of engaging in ‘jihad’ in Myanmar to fight against the government there on behalf of the oppressed Rohingya Muslim minority community in Rakhine State.

Bernama quoted him as saying the Rohingya conflict was being used as the key weapon by the IS to influence and recruit new members to engage in terrorism.

The widespread sharing of images on social media of the oppressed Rohingya people in the region was to evoke sympathy and help the IS lure new members, Ayob Khan said.

“Moreover, we do have intelligence information about the possibility of Indonesians involved in militant activities in their country,” he told Bernama.

Commenting further, Ayob Khan said Myanmar’s proximity to Malaysia pushed IS militants to act in Rakhine. Myanmar is closer to Malaysia than Syria and the southern Philippines where the conflict is ongoing, and was therefore being used as another option for ‘jihad’.

Although the recruiting of terrorists to Rakhine was still in the early stages, police were gathering information, which included the detention of the second suspect planning to go to Myanmar, a 38-year-old man from Melaka on Sept 10, he said in the Bernama report.

Based on intelligence information, the suspect, a cendol seller, was nabbed on suspicion of actively promoting IS militancy by printing and distributing the group’s flag as well as planning to join the IS in the Philippines and Rakhine.

News reports in January said the Indonesian, a factory worker, was reported to be among seven people arrested for suspected links to IS. He was also involved in a plot to smuggle weapons to Indonesia’s Poso region, on Sulawesi island.

“We detained the first person planning to go to Myanmar, an Indonesian last year whom we believed was trying to go to Myanmar for ‘jihad’,” Ayob Khan told FMT.

News reports in January quoted Ayob Khan as saying the Indonesian had been in Malaysia since 2014 and was in contact with now-deceased Muhammad Wanndy Muhammad Jedi, a Syria-based Malaysian militant.

FMT earlier discovered that it is possible for Malaysians aspiring to join Arsa to enter Myanmar through underground channels from Bangladesh and Thailand.

“People intent on sneaking into Myanmar from the Bangladesh side have to take a boat to cross the strait,” Mohd Rafiq Khairul Bashar, chairman of the Ethnic Rohingya Committee of Arakan Malaysia here, had told FMT.

“They have to start from Sabrang or Teknaf in Bangladesh and cross the waters into Maungdaw, a town in Rakhine state in Myanmar.

“From Maungdaw, it’s only two to three hours’ drive to the conflict areas.”

A Bangkok-based conflict expert who wished to remain anonymous told FMT that he had not heard of aspiring fighters transiting through Thailand to join Arsa so far.

“It’s possible, of course, but entering from Thailand means that they would be on the wrong side of Myanmar for the fight, so to speak,” the analyst said.

Full report at:



The difficult choices of non-Muslim Malaysians

September 20, 2017


SEPT 20 — To be non-Muslim in Malaysia is both difficult and not difficult, depending on who you talk to.

As Malays in Malaysia are not allowed to not choose Islam, being non-Muslim automatically makes you non-Malay and having that label is reductive.

Painting Malaysia as only occupied by Malays and the people they “allow” to stay — which is everyone else — is a problematic and fundamentally flawed perception of the country.

We are a confused and confusing nation. We need public holidays to remind us that Malaya’s independence and Malaysia’s formation are fundamentally different dates.

There are some who scoff at Malaysia Day — why make a big deal about the distinction? If Malaya never gained independence, there would be no Malaysia, no?

But Malaysia wouldn’t exist either if Indonesia and the Philippines had their way. If things had gone differently, Sabahans and Sarawakians would call themselves either Filipinos or Indonesians. But history decided differently.

There are times when I wonder if Malaysians are just idiots. Is it really all that difficult to call yourself Malaysian, and also want to have your unique background also accepted?

I find it stupidly annoying when people keep talking about “erasing” race and go around saying “we’re all Malaysian.”

I can be Malaysian and Dusun too, you know. My culture is something I like and erasing it for some notion of false unity is ridiculous.

The problem now is that we have politicians who would like to erase both the history and the significance of non-Malays, for the sake of winning votes in the heartland.

It is a dangerous, horrible ploy to tell the majority race that they are entitled and better than anyone else, while reality shows that so much disenfranchisement exists in the Malay community.

If we need to unite, we should probably unite in calling out divisive policies and inflammatory rhetoric. The constant flip-flopping in describing our country is ridiculous; today Malaysia is the country for all Malaysians, tomorrow it is only the real country of the majority and the rest should just go back to their ancestral lands. Can politicians just make up their minds?

As to Malaysian non-Muslims, they have to start making up their minds. Once upon a time, too many considered just leaving as their best bet and their only option.

We now live in the world where conservative politics has won over most of the Western world; there is no running to the US, the UK, Australia for a lot of people. Not unless they’re rich or are proven experts in their respective fields.

Malaysian liberals who think everything can be fixed by just throwing everything out and practising liberal, secular governance need to be a lot more realistic.

The reality of Islamophobia among non-Muslims is there — they see Islam as the problem, when the religion is not so much a problem as much as it ihas been used as a political tool.

Non-Muslims need to get over their Islamophobia and instead start learning to build bridges; to stop hiding behind their own race-based and religious-based associations, to fight for that middle ground before it is lost forever.

The British divided us; silly politics distract us; but what Malaysians really need is to learn to be a lot less selfish and insular.

If you want a better country, make it a better one for everyone and not just your housing area.

God can look after himself, but the country needs more than politicians. It has become obvious that we can’t just leave it to the government — Malaysians need to be louder, more demanding and competent at doing more than making anonymous Facebook comments.

We do have champions among us; people who are fighting for various causes — children, foreign workers, migrants, the homeless.

Choose your champion, find a cause. Do more than sit in your car complaining about those darn migrants protesting and causing traffic jams.

Full report at:



Malaysia was never meant to be an Islamic country, says former IGP

Tracy Patrick

September 20, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: The Federation of Malaysia was never meant to be an Islamic country because if it was, Sabah and Sarawak would never have agreed to it, according to former inspector-general of police Abdul Rahim Mohd Noor.

Speaking at the Malaysia in the Future forum at a hotel in Kota Kinabalu on Tuesday, Rahim said when the idea of Malaysia was mooted, religion was the main issue addressed by the Cobbold Commission.

“The people in the Bornean states, all of them, regardless of race and religion, did not want an official religion for the new federation. The demand was reasonable. After all, there are many Muslim-majority countries in the world that do not have Islam as their official religion, for example Egypt and Indonesia, a country with the highest number of Muslim’s in the world,” he said.

However, he pointed out, the situation was different in West Malaysia at the time and even to this day.

More and more, he said, there was a tendency among the Malays to be more Arabic than the Arabs.

He recalled an incident with a relative who claimed that the Arabic alphabets belonged to Muslims, as opposed to Roman alphabets.

“Of course she has limited education. But it seems that not many people realise, or at best they choose to ignore, that the Middle East is home to not just Muslims, but other people from other religions too,” he said.

He noted a frightening trend among the ruling elites: they are bending over backwards and submitting to the will of those who use religion to garner support from increasingly religious masses.

This inclination, he said, was, so far, restricted to certain areas in Peninsular Malaysia but he believed it could take a turn for the worse if not curbed by the authorities.

Religious conflicts, he said, would become too hot an issue if the Federal Government continued to succumb to pressure and become too Islamic.

“If we continue down this line, it will destabilise the federation and maybe at that time, Sabah and Sarawak will think again whether they want to continue to be in Malaysia or whether they should leave,” he said.

Personally, Rahim said, he preferred the model used by Indonesia’s Pancasila where no one religion was declared official. The Pancasila is part of the preamble to the Indonesian Constitution of 1945.

After 54 years, he said Malaysia was still searching for its own identity as the people remained divided, each identifying themselves according to their race and tribes.

It was worse, he added, when the people in Sabah and Sarawak did not feel they had anything in common with their fellow citizens in West Malaysia.

Full report at:



Funny, cute responses from Muslim ladies on Halimah’s presidency

September 20, 2017

We asked a selection of ladies, all Muslim professionals living in Malaysia or abroad on their views regarding the appointment of Madam Halimah Yacob as Singapore’s President.

The responses were at times hilarious, or seriously funny in the sense that many did not know what to say.

Most of the ladies queried are professionals, journalists, poet, Public Relations officials and lawyers.

The question WFTV asked was ‘What do you think of Halimah Yaqub being elected as Singapore’s first woman president?’.

The majority of them were not sure what they thought about it, while some said they had no real idea since they did not really know what Singapore’s politics were about.

A Journalist hailing from Egypt said, not knowing that Singapore’s president is basically a powerless post said:

“Doesn’t make any difference. .they all change after taking authority, they love the authority more ????.”

But the response was clear: All politicians would abuse their power some day.

A Malaysian lawyer said: She (Halimah) will be like the Agong.

She meant the President is powerless.

“To be honest, I don’t think she can bring much change. It’s a president position, not Prime Minister. She will be like the Agong (King).

“Image-wise ya ok because kiasu Singapore chose a Malay president,” she said, adding that maybe there’s a political reason behind all this.

“I sure hope she watches her back,” said the lawyer.

The Agong is the monarch and head of state of Malaysia. But it is the Prime Minister who has political power.

A Malaysian poet said “Malays there are getting restless. Hence the need to keep them quiet and the need to show Malaysia

Malays can become president.

By that she meant in Malaysia, it would not be possible for someone of a person of a minority race to hold a higher position.

Malaysia’s highest post is the Prime Minister and the deputy Prime Minister posts, followed by the Minister of Home Affairs, the minister of defense and the minister of finance. These posts are traditionally held by Malays-Muslims.

Another comment from Malaysia is that it is great they recognise that an effective leader isn’t determined by gender.

“But I don’t know enough about Halimah’s platform and policies to confidently say she’d be a great leader.

“I also don’t really have the full context of what it’s like for Malay women in Singapore,” she said.

From the Philippines, an activist asked whether as a unionist, Halimah was able to really fight for her co-workers?

“If that is the case, that’s impressive! and if she is President on behalf of the unionist, then that would speak a lot of Singapore.

“That there is indeed change in the way people are thinking. That they would appreciate people from the ranks and that would also mean, they have trust in her,” the Bangsamoro activist said.

But overall, the responses show that despite the Asean most people do not have a real idea what is going on in the neighbouring nations.

Full report at:



China Offers Support to Myanmar at UN Amid Rohingya Crisis

Sep 20, 2017

Beijing. China supports efforts by the Myanmar government to protect its national security and opposes recent violent attacks in the country's Rakhine State, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

The military response to insurgent attacks in the western region of Myanmar last month sent more than 410,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh, escaping what the United Nations has branded ethnic cleansing.

Myanmar's government says about 400 people have been killed in the fighting.

Britain, France and Australia urged Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday (18/09) to push for an end to military violence against Rohingya Muslims. Her national security adviser said those who had fled could return but the process had to be discussed. Wang told Guterres at a meeting at the United Nations on Monday China "understands and supports" Myanmar's efforts to protect its security in Rakhine and hopes the "fire of war" can soon be extinguished, China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

China expresses sympathy with those who have fled into Bangladesh and will send humanitarian aid to Bangladesh, Wang said.

"China advocates Myanmar and Bangladesh resolving the problem via dialogue and consultation," the Foreign Ministry cited Wang as saying.

"China is willing to continue promoting peace talks in its own way, and hopes the international community can play a constructive role to ease the situation and promote dialogue," he said.

China and Myanmar have close economic and diplomatic ties and China has defied expectations that democratization in the former Burma could lead to weaker relations between the two countries.

Full report at:





Security beefed up to check entry of Rohingya Muslims along Indo-Myanmar border

September 19, 2017

Security has been beefed up and patrolling by the Assam Rifles intensified along the Mizoram-Arakan (Myanmar) border in the state’s Lawngtlai district, in view of the possibility of Rohingya Muslim militants and refugees attempting to enter the state.

A senior home department official said today that several meetings were held by the Mizoram police, paramilitary forces and intelligence agencies of both the central and state governments to review the security situation along the Myanmar border. “Not a single Rohingya Muslim has so far entered Mizoram,” he added.

Mizoram shares a 404-km international border with Myanmar and a 318-km border with Bangladesh. Meanwhile, around 170 refugees — mainly Christians –from Arakan in Myanmar, who entered Mizoram recently, had remained in the villages in the southern parts of the state, the official said.

The refugees had fled Arakan in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in the wake of clashes between the Myanmar Army and the Arakan Liberation Army.



This Indian Muslim will fast to protect cows

July 17, 2017

Jabbar is a cattle-breeder and owns 16 cows and nine buffaloes. And he loves them.

In the last three years since the BJP government came to power, according to one estimate, 90 lynching incidents have taken place because of alleged beef dealing and cow slaughter. Quite often there has been severe beatings for even transporting cattle. The cause of the cow is seen as dividing communities, especially Hindus and Muslims.

And Jabbar Jat, 27, a Muslim from Kudbay village of Nakhtrana taluka in Kutch, in a great reversal of roles, is at the forefront of a movement to protect cows, reports the Times of India.

Jabbar is a cattle-breeder and owns 16 cows and nine buffaloes. And he loves them. So much so, last week he wrote a letter to the district collector, suggesting each district in Kutch should allocate grazing land for cattle.

To reinforce his demands Jabbar would be going on a fast for 48 hours, beginning July 20 at the Kutch district collectorate.

Jabbar says it is not enough that the government make noises about cattle protection. To become proactive in this matter, he suggests that the administration could begin allotting two buffaloes to each farmer. He also says the state government should bear 50 per cent cost of each gaushala (cow shelter) and it must buy back fertiliser made of cow urine and cow dung from the farmers. These measures, he believes, would be far more effective than just saying cow is sacred.

"In the last two to three years, cow has become a tool to spread hatred, which is hitting the business. Besides, no gau rakshak (cow vigilante) himself rears a cow and merely indulges in hooliganism in the name of cow protection. So, I decided to take up the cause. I would like to tell gau rakshaks that let us sit together for the cause of the cow because killing in the name of cow will lead us to a barbaric society, which will never serve the true purpose," he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

The local cow protectors, though a little flummoxed, are in support of Jabbar's views. Jabbar has invited people from all communities to join him for the fast.

Full report at:



No politics or religion in govt's stand on Rohingya: Ram Madhav

Sep 19, 2017

NEW DELHI: BJP general secretary Ram Madhav on Tuesday said no politics or religion is involved in the Centre's stand on the Rohingya issue and insisted that the decision was driven by national interest.

Rejecting the view that Rohingiyas should be allowed to stay in India on humanitarian grounds, Madhav said the government was taking care of the "humanitarian interest" of the country's 1.3 billion people.

"People say the government should approach Rohingyas issue with a humanitarian perspective. It is doing this only by taking care of humanitarian interest of 1.3 billion people in India and their security," Madhav said at a FICCI event here.

Terming the ongoing Rohingyas issue as a major challenge from across the border in Myanmar, the BJP leader said the government is handling infiltration and illegal migration with "utmost maturity".

Emphasising that no country in the world allows illegal migrants, Madhav said,"... no politics or religion is involved in this issue. We are simply taking care of our security concerns our national interest."

Earlier speaking at an another event Madhav hit out at opposition leaders who are advocating granting Rohingyas shelter in the country, saying they are defending those who pose a security threat to the country.

"We will handle the Rohingya issue on the basis of national security concerns that we have. We will deal with them in an appropriate manner. This is the domain of the executive to take proper, appropriate decision," he told reporters on the sidelines of a book release.

He said that India had sent a large quantity of relief material to Bangladesh but claimed that even Bangladesh had security concerns regarding Rohingyas.

The government had told Parliament on August 9 that more than 14,000 Rohingyas are at present staying in India.

However, some inputs indicate that around 40,000 undocumented Rohingyas were staying in India, mostly in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan regions.

Full report at:



Russia keen to work with India on Afghanistan

Sachin Parashar

Sep 20, 2017

NEW DELHI: Russian President Vladimir Putin's special envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov could visit India soon to discuss the Afghan security situation. Even as India remains sceptical about Russia's outreach to Afghan Taliban and Pakistan, it is discussing with Moscow a proposal for a visit to New Delhi by Kabulov next month.

According to government sources, the visit was proposed by Russia in a sign that it's looking to not just address some of India's concerns but also involve it more in the ongoing peace process in Afghanistan.

The discussions follow the joint and successful efforts by both countries to convince China to drop its opposition to naming Pakistan based terror groups like LeT and JeM in the Xiamen Brics summit declaration. This has led to hopes here, and also in Moscow, that China might just also agree to give up its "technical hold" on the proposed ban on JeM chief Masood Azhar by the UNSC 1267 sanctions committee.

While Russia has serious differences with the US over the latter's new Afghanistan policy, which was outlined recently by President Donald Trump, it remains keen to work with India in breaking what it describes as a stalemate between the Taliban and the government in Kabul which now controls no more than 57 per cent of Afghanistan territory.

However, it's a fact that Russia's interests in Afghanistan no longer converge with India's as they did in the past. For Russia, as Kabulov said last year, ISIS is a much more potent threat to security in the region than the Taliban. Kabulov, who is seen as shaping Russia's strategic outreach to both Pakistan and Afghan Taliban, believes that Islamabad is a key player in the fight against terrorism and, as he said after Trump's announcement of the new Afghanistan policy, putting too much pressure on Islamabad was going to prove counter-productive. Kabulov was in India last year for the Heart of Asia conference where he said that combating terrorism was not going to be possible with Pakistan's cooperation.

Full report at:



Hizbul Mujahideen forces youth to confess on gunpoint

M Saleem Pandit

Sep 20, 2017

SRINAGAR: A video of a terrified youth whom Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists forced on gunpoint to "confess" that he was a police informer, went viral on messaging platforms in Kashmir on Monday. The video was shared along with the picture of the youth shot dead soon after the Hizbul extracted a "confession" and apology from him.

In a WhatsApp picture, he was seen lying dead with blood oozing out of his nose.

Police identified the youth as Ishtiyaq Ahmad Wagay, a shopkeeper in Jablipora, Anantnag in south Kashmir. He was killed in the first week of August by Hizb terrorists over suspicion of being a police informer, police said adding that his body was found in a Shopian village on August 8.

In the video, Wagay is seen and heard talking to an invisible terrorist holding an AK-47 rifle against him. Wagay, visibly under pressure in the video, confesses that he worked for the security forces and got several militants killed by passing on information about them.

"I was forced to become an informer. They did not pay me. I shared information about Talha, Musa Bhai, Junaid Kandro and Turab. Now, they have asked me to track down Daad," Wagay is heard speaking to the gunmen in Kashmiri language.

Though it is still not clear what prompted the terrorists to release the video 10 days after Wagay's killing, the video confirmed that he was murdered by terrorists, which wasn't known until now, said a senior police officer.

The gunmen in the video were heard asking Wagay as to why he had been working against those who were "fighting for Islam". Police, however, said that the Pro-Pakistan terrorists were deliberately creating confusion by calling it a fight for Islam.

As per official figures, terrorists have killed more than 28 civilians in the last 28 years of insurgency, after branding them as 'police informers'. Wagay is an addition to the list.

Sources, however, disputed the statistics claiming that hundreds of Kashmiris had been killed by terrorists over suspicion of being police informers.

In 2011, two teenage sisters of Sopore, accused of being informers, were killed by Lashkar-e-Taiba outfit. It was rumoured that the two were on the payroll of the security forces.

In another video circulated on Monday, another youth, Sameer Ahmad Pandit was shown admitting that he got two stone pelters arrested by the police. Pandit, who claimed to have received Rs. 10,000 from somebody who hired him, also belongs to Anantnag.

Full report at:



NIA arrests two for providing support to infiltrators in Kashmir

September 19, 2017

The National Investigative Agency (NIA) on Tuesday arrested two Kashmiris who provided material and logistical support to Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Bahadur Ali for infiltrating into the Valley. Without disclosing the exact location of their arrest, in an official release the NIA identified the arrested persons as Zahoor Ahmed Peer and Nazir Ahmed Peer, both residents of Wahama in Kupwara district. The release said that NIA will be seeking transit remand of both the accused persons and will bring them to Delhi for further questioning.

A large quantity of incriminating material, including arms and ammunition were seized from Bahadur Ali when he was apprehended. The arrested Lashkar terrorist has been chargesheeted, while further investigations in the case are in progress, the release added.

Full report at:





Police arrest Pakistani jihadi suspect in Spain

September 20, 2017

MADRID: Spain's Interior Ministry says police have arrested a Pakistani man suspected of promoting terrorism and spreading Islamic jihadi propaganda on social media networks.

A ministry statement the 25-year-old resident of the northern Catalan city of Lleida was part of a cell partially dismantled with the arrest of three Pakistani brothers in Lleida last year.

The ministry said the man detained Tuesday had become more engrossed in radical activities in recent weeks.

Sixteen people were killed in attacks in the Catalan capital, Barcelona, and another Catalan coastal town last month. The Islamic State armed group claimed the attacks.

Spain says its police have been involved in the arrests of 200 suspected jihadi activists since the country raised its security alert to one step below the maximum in June 2015.



German election: AfD Islamophobia could help get out the Muslim vote

September 20, 2017

In the final phase of the election campaign, the far-right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) has shifted its focus. In their push to become Germany's third-largest party and perhaps lead the opposition in the next German parliament, AfD leaders have largely ceased mentioning refugees. Instead, they're stressing increases in crime rates, which they link, more or less directly, with what they see as Islam's inherent hostility toward Western society and values.

  Watch video01:45

AfD calls Islam 'a threat to domestic peace' in Germany

What the AfD said

A perfect example was the party's final policy paper presentation before the September 24 vote in Berlin on Monday.

- Hardliner Alexander Gauland began by defining Islam as a "political phenomenon" that as such was "not part of Germany."

- His fellow leading candidate Alice Weidel followed by citing statistics about violent crime among Muslim migrants and asylum seekers, claiming that it had resulted in lawless "no-go areas" throughout Germany and calling for a host of draconian punitive responses.

- Admitting large numbers of Muslims, so the logic, had caused what Weidel called an "erosion of law and order."

- When challenged to name a "no-go" area in Berlin, Weidel came up with Kottbusser Tor, a fairly well-known square in neighborhood of Kreuzberg with its large Turkish population. In fact, the city has beefed up police presence there, crime is down in 2017, and the square is home to supermarkets, bars, a small vegetable market and even a youth hostel.

Hardly a no-go area. But the AfD seems to hope that the stereotype of Islamified, crime-ridden Kreuzberg will resonate with Germans unfamiliar and wary of the urban environs of their country's capital.

Read more: How do you deal with the far-right AfD?

The AfD saw its electoral fortunes dip in 2017, as the number of asylum seekers dwindled and a belief began to spread that the refugee crisis was over. So it appears that far-right populists have gone over to a strategy of alarmist Islamophobia in an attempt to lure more voters to the polls. The tone is getting shriller and more hostile by the day.

The Muslim reaction

Sulaiman Wilms, editor of the Islamische Zeitung newspaper, told DW that the media hadn't drawn as much attention to the latest incendiary remarks as to earlier controversial statements by Gauland and Weidel.

"In the past weeks, we've experienced a constant breaking of a taboos and radicalization (by the AfD)," he said

The head of Central Council of Muslims in Germany, Aiman Mazyek, disagrees. He says that media are only just now waking up to how far to the right the AfD, originally founded in 2013 as an anti-EU party, were from the very start.

"They were always radical," Mazyek told DW. "What is perhaps new is the realization in the past few days that this is a radical right-wing party, of which neo-Nazis and other extremists are part."

Why this is significant

Mazyek sees the populists as the direct heirs of the extreme right-wing nationalist fringe parties of the past like the National Democratic German Party (NPD).

- "Whipping up resentment and dividing society between Muslims and non-Muslims was always the bread and butter of the extreme Right," Mazyek said.

- "The AfD completely took that over. I said years ago that the AfD was drifting further and further to the right and would try to subsume the NPD."

But the AFD currently enjoy far more mainstream acceptance than the NPD ever did – a threatening scenario for German Muslims.

The AfD have consistently refused to engage in dialogue with German-Muslim groups and its supporters seem disinterested in differentiating between stereotypes and actual Muslim life in the country. The party is most popular in the eastern part of Germany, where the fewest Muslims live.

How Muslims might vote

Ironically, given the AfD's depiction of Islam as a monolithic entity, Muslims in Germany, of whom 1.5 million are eligible to vote, are a very heterogeneous category - there has never been a cohesive Muslim voting block.

A group of Muslim interest organizations recently published a guide to parties' policies on various Muslim issues - the AfD refused to participate.

And the Central Council of Muslims is offering a draft sermon entitled "My vote counts" for religious services on Friday, September 22. It describes voting in the election two days later as a religious duty.

Full report at:



Rohingya Muslim crisis: UK bans military training in Burma over ethnic cleansing

September 20, 2017

Theresa May has responded to criticism that the UK has dragged its heels on “ethnic cleansing” in Burma by announcing a ban on military training in the country.

The Ministry of Defence will “stop all defence engagement and training of the Burmese military” until it ends its security crackdown against the Muslim Rohingya minority, the Prime Minister said.

More than 310,000 people have fled to Bangladesh in recent weeks and more are trapped on the border, amid reports of extrajudicial killings and burning of entire villages.

This week, the UN’s most senior human rights official described Burma’s actions as a “textbook example” of ethnic cleansing.

Last week, Boris Johnson was criticised for describing Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s de facto leader and the Nobel Peace Prize-winner, as “one of the most inspiring figures of our age”, despite the violence.

And, in Canada, Ms May appeared flat-footed when Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, revealed he had personally spoken with Ms San Suu Kyi, to urge her to pull back.

Now the UK will end what No 10 called “educational training” of Burma’s troops, stressing the Ministry of Defence was not engaged in combat training.

Speaking at the United Nations in New York, Ms May told Sky News: “We are very concerned about what’s happening to the Rohingya people in Burma. The military action against them must stop.

“We’ve seen too many vulnerable people having to flee for their lives. Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burmese government need to make it very clear that the military action should stop.

“The British Government is announcing today that we are going to stop all defence engagement and training of the Burmese military by the Ministry of Defence until this issue is resolved.”

Downing Street was unable to provide any detail of the extent of the UK’s current level of military training in the country.

Ms May has not spoken personally with Ms San Suu Kyi, but her spokesman said Mr Johnson had done so “on a number of occasions”.

Burma’s leader on Tuesday condemned human rights violations in Rakhine state and said violators would be punished, but she did not address UN accusations of a campaign of ethnic cleansing by the military.

In her first remarks since the violent crackdown, Ms San Suu Kyi said: “Human rights violations and all other acts that impair stability and harmony and undermine the rule of law will be addressed in accordance with strict laws and justice.”

Seeking to assure foreign diplomats gathered for her speech in Naypyitaw, the capital, that those who fled to Bangladesh would be allowed to return if they passed a “verification” process, she said the government was working to restore order in the area.

Though fires have continued to flare in recent days in northern Rakhine state, she said “there have been no armed clashes and there have been no clearance operations” for the past two weeks.

“Nevertheless we are concerned to hear that numbers of Muslims are fleeing across the border to Bangladesh,” she said. “We want to understand why this exodus is happening. We would like to talk to those who have fled as well as those who have stayed.”

The latest crackdown against the Rohingya was triggered on 25 August, when an insurgent group attacked more than two dozen security sites, killing 12 people.

Militia groups, local security forces and the Burmese army responded with “clearance operations” that have forced hundreds of thousands of refugees into Bangladesh and left tens of thousands displaced inside Rakhine state.

Burma says it is targeting armed insurgents, including fighters from the Araka Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa), which claimed responsibility for the August attacks.

Full report at:



Has British government decided not to tag terror with religion?

19 September 2017

There is something about Britain’s handling of terror cases – perpetrated by Muslims or against Muslims – that puts Westminster in a class apart.

A few days ago, Britain faced its fifth terror attack since March this year. Three of the violent acts were perpetrated by Muslims one was an attack on Muslims by an Islamaphobic Englishman, and the suspects for the most recent incident also appear to be Muslim.

However, despite the unprecedented number of attacks in such a short space of time, there has been no witch-hunt of Muslims by either the British police or government. Nor have there been repercussions on the Muslim community as a whole like a ban on the burqa or headscarf as in France or a travel ban on Muslims as imposed by American president Donald Trump.

The British government has taken a conscious decision to call each incident a “terror attack” and not give it religious color by using words like “Islamic terror” or “Jihadi terror”. Raids carried out by the police and counter-terrorism agencies have been extremely restrained and targeted with teams going in only after they have very specific information.

Even in the latest case of a handmade bomb going off inside a train at the Parsons Green station of the London Underground last Friday in which 20 people were injured, the police have made two arrests and raided only one house where both the suspects have lived at some time.

In many other countries within moments of an attack, “Islamists” or “jihadists” would have been blamed and truckloads of Muslim men and boys would have been taken into custody under suspicion without any real evidence.

Message of restraint

The message of restraint comes down from the top. British Prime Minister Theresa May on Saturday rebuked Trump for his blatantly insensitive tweet “Another attack in London by a loser terrorist. These are sick demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard” within hours of the Parsons Green explosion.

May slapped down Trump by saying it is not “helpful for anyone to start speculating about an ongoing investigation”. In a similar vein a police spokesperson also called Trump’s tweet “unhelpful” and “pure speculation given we don’t know who is involved yet”.

Moreover, even after ISIS claimed responsibility for each of the recent attacks barring one, the government has been vehement in explaining that these were carried out by “lone-wolf” attackers who may have been ‘self-radicalized’ by watching ISIS propaganda, so as not to blame and demonize the entire Muslim community.

A day after the Parsons Green bomb blast Home Secretary Amber Rudd was asked about claims by ISIS of other unexploded devices and her reply was just as clear. She said that it is inevitable that so-called ISIS will reach in and try and claim responsibility. “We have no evidence to suggest that yet,” Rudd told the BBC.

The Muslim community in turn has also been forthright after each attack both in condemning and distancing itself from the terror groups who have hijacked Islam and are wreaking havoc around the world.

“These extremists, their aim is to divide our communities, is to spread hatred, fear and division, but we tell them that we will not let you do that,” said Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of the Finsbury Park mosque which was the target of an attack during Ramadan.

Act of terror

In fact after the Finsbury Park attack, Britain became the first country in the world to officially call an attack on Muslims an act of terrorism too.

“No matter what the motivation proves to be this is being treated as a terrorist attack and Counter Terrorism Command is investigating,” said Neil Basu, the Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police who heads counter terrorism in the UK, after the Finsbury Park attack in which one man died and 9 others were injured.

May denounced the Finsbury Park assault as an act of “hatred” and “evil” against innocent civilians, just as she had after the attacks at Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge some days earlier. Calling the incident a “sickening attempt to destroy British values of freedom of speech and freedom of religion”, she noted that extremism and hatred could take many forms.

Full report at:



UK weapons companies earned over £6bn from Yemen war: Charity

Sep 19, 2017

British weapons manufacturers have earned more than £6 billion from their deals with Saudi Arabia ever since the beginning of the kingdom’s ruthless war on its southern neighbor Yemen, a campaign group says.

War Child UK said Tuesday that companies such as BAE Systems and Raytheon had raked in £600 million in sheer profits from the deadly war, which has killed over 12,000 Yemenis since its beginning more than two and a half years ago.

The charity said the manufacturers were basically “profiteering from the deaths of innocent children” by arming the Saudis and their allies with advanced missiles and other equipment, including attack aircraft.

Rocco Blume, a conflict and humanitarian adviser at the organization, told The Independent that London was also getting money for maintaining the weapons.

He said the trend indicated that the country was becoming “less fussy” about international trading partners as it felt the pressure to secure more deals before leaving the European Union (EU).

“We all want to see productive international trade, but this is damaging,” Blume told the British daily. “The revenue has to be seen in the context of all the other costs incurred in this trade, especially to our international reputation, particularly on human rights.”

He said a “lack of transparency” on part of the UK firms made it impossible to assess their role in the global weakening of protections for children in conflicts including Yemen, Syria and Iraq.

The Tory government of Prime Minister Theresa May has remained defiant in the face of growing pressure to stop the arms exports, defending the trade amid evidence of war crimes and civilian deaths in Yemen.

Last week, as London held world's biggest arms fair, British trade secretary Liam Fox said all of his country’s arms deals were “ethical” because they prevented an eruption of unregulated sales.

“Those of us from advanced economies must remember that if we do not provide countries with means of defending themselves, then we will see a proliferation of uncontrolled and unregulated arms sales free from oversight or inhibitions,” he argued.

UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon also boasted at the same event that Britain had secured military orders totaling £5.9 billion in 2016, making it the world’s second-largest weapons exporter.

Last year, the United Nations blacklisted Saudi Arabia for committing grave violations against children after killing and injuring over 3,000 of them in Yemen. However, the world body was forced to reverse the decision upon protests from the Riyadh regime.

Full report at:



Parsons Green attack: No evidence Isis is systematically using refugees for terror plots, research finds

Sep 19, 2017

There is no evidence that Isis is systematically using the refugee crisis to smuggle fighters into Europe or directly targeting asylum seekers for radicalisation, research has found.

The arrest of two refugees in connection with the attempted bombing on a London Underground train has reignited public debate, following four previous terror attacks in the UK this year.

Both men, an 18-year-old from Iraq and 21-year-old Syria, remain in custody after police were granted more time to question them over an attack that injured 30 people at Parsons Green station.

Isis claimed responsibility for the blast, saying it was carried out by “soldiers of the caliphate” and threatening further atrocities in the UK.

New research by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) warned that the terrorist group was expanding its campaign in Europe as it loses territory in the so-called Islamic State.

The US-based think tank said Isis continues to plan, resource, and execute attacks from its remaining safe havens in Syria, Iraq and Libya.

This year has seen atrocities spread to the UK and Spain, as well as in Sweden and Finland, where the ISW said Isis was targeting “vulnerable populations”.

Isis claimed responsibility for the blast, saying it was carried out by “soldiers of the caliphate” and threatening further atrocities in the UK.

New research by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) warned that the terrorist group was expanding its campaign in Europe as it loses territory in the so-called Islamic State.

The US-based think tank said Isis continues to plan, resource, and execute attacks from its remaining safe havens in Syria, Iraq and Libya.

This year has seen atrocities spread to the UK and Spain, as well as in Sweden and Finland, where the ISW said Isis was targeting “vulnerable populations”.

The ISW warned that Isis would continue to organise and inspire terror attacks in Europe even while much of its physical caliphate is being wiped out.

“The anti-Isis coalition must also refocus on addressing the grievances and fears of vulnerable Sunni populations that make them vulnerable to Isis messaging,” the report concluded.

“The widespread perception that European states and the US are aligned with Iran and the Assad regime against Sunni populations in Syria and Iraq, as well as the rise of anti-Muslim sentiments and perceived anti-Muslim policies in Europe and the US will continue to fuel toleration of and limited but growing support for Isis attack operations in the West.

“Isis is waging a social and informational campaign to gain support among Western populations - Western states will not be able to kill and arrest their way out of this problem.”

The number of arrests for terror offences in the UK has risen almost 70 per cent in a year to a record high of 379, with the vast majority of suspects being British or dual nationals.

Ben Wallace, the security minister, told The Independent 19 terror plots have been foiled in the same period but warned that the tempo of attempted attacks was increasing.

Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency, said there was a total of 142 terror attacks and attempts in just eight countries in 2016 – with more than half reported by Britain.

Its 2017 EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report said Isis had exploited the flow of migrants to Europe to deploy terrorists for attacks and would continue the strategy.

But the report found there was “no concrete evidence that terrorist travellers systematically use those flows of refugees to enter Europe unnoticed”.

Europol previously said jihadis using the migrant route tended to be “expendable footmen”, while the most highly trained and dangerous operatives were likely to use false documents and more sophisticated methods.

“Given that it is in the interests of Isis to inflame the migration crisis to polarise the EU population and turn sections of it against those seeking asylum, there is a risk of some  infiltration of refugee camps and other groups,” said a report issued in December.

“The extent of this is unknown, however, making the subject susceptible to exaggeration and exploitation especially by populist factions and extreme right-wing parties.”

Europol said Isis was also seeking to exploit the crisis ideologically, with German authorities reporting that jihadis have made at least 300 attempts to recruit refugees attempting to enter Europe.

“A real and imminent danger is the possibility of elements of the (Sunni Muslim) Syrian refugee diaspora becoming vulnerable to radicalisation once in Europe and being specifically targeted by Islamic extremist recruiters,” a report warned.

“It is believed that a number of jihadists are travelling through Europe for this purpose.”

Europol also reported that refugees and ethnic minorities were facing increased violence throughout the EU, saying the vote for Brexit generated a spike in hate crime in the UK.

The agency is recruiting 200 counter-terror investigators to be deployed to migration hotspots in Greece and Italy to identify suspected terrorists and criminals in what Europol called “a second line of defence”.

The two refugees arrested in connection with the Parsons Green attack are believed to have entered the UK several years ago as children, being taken in by the same foster family in Surrey.

The 18-year-old Iraqi and 21-year-old Syrian remain in custody as searches continue at their former homes and a chicken shop where the older suspect worked.

The younger suspect was arrested on Saturday morning in Dover, where he was attempting to buy a ferry ticket to France.

The older man, named locally as Yahyah Farroukh, was detained by undercover police, including one disguised as a homeless man, outside a fast food restaurant in Hounslow later on the same day.

Full report at:





Saudi forces carry out operations near Yemen border, killing 70 Houthis

19 September 2017

Military operations carried out by Saudi forces succeeded in supporting coalition aircrafts against Houthi militias and the guards of Yemen’s former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh off the border in the past day.

Al Arabiya was able to confirm that a military plan developed by the joint operations command of the Saudi forces, in addition to the coalition’s support, was carried out in multiple areas aimed at targeting the support of the Houthi and Saleh militias from inside Yemen toward the Yemeni provinces and districts overlooking the Saudi border.

The first operation was carried out by members of the Yemeni army backed by Apache helicopters and Saudi artillery in Wadi Abdullah, located in Harad which extends from Yemen to the Saudi border, after militias attempted to penetrate the control points on the Saudi border. They failed after facing Saudi border troops who were able to kill more than 20 Houthis while others escaped.

The second operation took place opposite al-Raboah border city, where Saudi forces carried out an operation on the positions of the militias, whose mission was to launch missiles toward populated areas across the border. The operation succeeded in destroying those sites and killing the militants after the advance of a Saudi infantry battalion.

The third operation, the largest which lasted a whole day, was off Najran, where the Joint Operations Room spotted huge Houthi support elements and vehicles moving toward the Saudi border city. Saudi forces carried out a military plan that destroyed this support that advance.



Turkey warns of global conflict if Iraq or Syria break up

Sep 20, 2017

Turkey escalated its opposition to a Kurdish independence referendum in northern Iraq on Tuesday, training tank guns and rocket launchers across the southern border and saying the break-up of its neighbors could lead to global conflict.

Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said in Ankara next Monday’s vote posed a major risk and Turkey would take “every step” needed to thwart any similar steps in its mainly Kurdish southeast.

Iraqi Kurdish authorities have defied growing international pressure to call off the vote, which Iraq’s neighbors fear will fuel unrest among their own Kurdish populations. Western allies say it could detract from the fight against Islamic State.

“A change that will mean the violation of Iraq’s territorial integrity poses a major risk for Turkey,” Canikli said. “The disruption of Syria and Iraq’s territorial integrity will ignite a bigger, global conflict with an unseen end.”

Kurds in north Syria, like those in Iraq, have capitalized on the turmoil in both countries to consolidate a degree of autonomy. Washington has supported Syrian Kurdish fighters battling Islamic State, despite Turkish protests.

Turkish troops dug in on the southern border on Tuesday and turned their weapons toward Kurdish-run northern Iraq.

Tanks and rocket launchers mounted on armored vehicles faced the Iraqi frontier, about 2 km (one mile) away. Mechanical diggers tore up agricultural fields for the army to set up positions in the flat, dry farmlands.

The military drill, launched without warning on Monday, is due to last until Sept. 26, Turkish military sources said, a day after the planned referendum.

A Reuters reporter saw armored vehicles carrying heavy weaponry and soldiers taking positions in specially dug areas, their weapons directed across the border. A generator and satellite dish could be seen at one location.

The show of force reflects the scale of concern in Turkey, which has the largest Kurdish population in the region, that the vote could embolden the outlawed Kurdish PKK which has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey’s southeast since 1984.

The Turkish air force has frequently struck against PKK units operating from the mountains of northern Iraq and limited detachments of Turkish infantry have made forays across the frontier in the past.

Turkey also sees itself as protector of Iraq’s ethnic Turkmen minority, with particular concern about Kirkuk where Kurds have extended their control since seizing the oil city when Islamic State overwhelmed Iraqi forces in 2014.

Police deployed overnight in Kirkuk to prevent any outbreak of ethnic violence, residents said.


The standoff has hit the Turkish lira, which weakened beyond 3.5 to the dollar on Tuesday for the first time in four weeks.

“The increasing tension before the referendum in northern Iraq continues to effect lira negatively,” Kapital FX Research Assistant Manager Enver Erkan said.

Cross-border trade, however, appeared to continue. Despite the nearby military maneuvers a kilometer-long line of traffic, mostly trucks and cargo, queued to enter Iraq at the Habour border gate.

Turkey’s strong economic ties to the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) will weigh on any response from Ankara. The KRG pumps hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil per day through Turkey and has approved plans for Russian oil major Rosneft to invest in pipelines to export gas to Turkey and Europe.

The military exercises came as Turkey, the central government in Baghdad and their shared neighbor Iran all stepped up protests and warnings about the independence referendum in the semi-autonomous Kurdish northern Iraq.

The United States and other Western countries have also voiced concerns and asked Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani to call off the vote, citing fears the referendum could distract attention from the fight against Islamic State militants.

Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court ordered Barzani to suspend the vote and approved Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s demand to consider “the breakaway of any region or province from Iraq as unconstitutional”, his office said on Monday.

Full report at:



US military official: Iran continues to arm Houthi militias

19 September 2017

A senior US military official revealed the Iranian violations of international resolutions, which prohibit the arming of the Houthi militia in Yemen.

Commander of the US Navy's Fifth Fleet in the Gulf, Vice Adm. Kevin M. Donegan, said in his last statement before his term of office ended, that the Fifth Fleet stationed off the Arabian Peninsula was helping block the gaps that allowed the militias to carry out their naval attacks after the coup.

He also referred to Iran's smuggling of sophisticated military arms that enable the Houthis to launch ballistic missiles to further ranges.

The American Admiral also revealed that the types of weapons that Iran succeeded in smuggling to Yemen are the first of its kind since the date of the militia coup; anti-ship and ballistic missiles, deadly sea mines and even explosive boats.

Iran continues to smuggle into Yemen despite the international embargo making it a constant threat to the security of the region, especially international marine traffic, he added.

Admiral Donegan who is preparing to take on his new duties at the Pentagon denied any possible effects of the Qatari crisis with the four countries on the course of military operations to combat Iran's terrorist armed militias in the Gulf.

Earlier independent reports had confirmed, at the end of last year, Iran's involvement in documented operations to arm the Houthis via a pipeline through Somalia.

Full report at:



Turkish tanks trained on northern Iraq in show of force ahead of vote

19 September 2017

Turkish troops dug in on the country’s southern border on Tuesday and turned their weapons toward Kurdish-run northern Iraq, where authorities plan an independence referendum in defiance of Ankara and Western powers.

Tanks and rocket launchers mounted on armored vehicles faced the Iraqi frontier, about 2 km (one mile) away, and mechanical diggers tore up agricultural fields for the army to set up positions in the flat, dry farmlands.

The military drill, launched without warning on Monday, is due to last until Sept. 26, Turkish military sources said, a day after the planned referendum for Kurdish independence in northern Iraq.

A Reuters reporter saw four armored vehicles carrying heavy weaponry and soldiers taking positions in specially dug areas, their weapons directed across the border. A generator and satellite dish could be seen at one location.

The show of force reflects the scale of concern in Turkey, which has the largest Kurdish population in the region, that the vote could embolden the outlawed Kurdish PKK which has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey’s southeast.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last week Ankara would not shy away from using force if necessary, and the showdown has hit the Turkish lira. It weakened beyond 3.5 to the dollar on Tuesday for the first time in four weeks.

Turkey has long seen itself as protector of the ethnic Turkmen minority, with particular concern about the oil city of Kirkuk where Kurds have extended their control since seizing the city when ISIS overwhelmed Iraqi forces in 2014.

Oil city

Tensions spread to Turkish markets. “The increasing tension before the referendum in northern Iraq continues to effect lira negatively,” Kapital FX Research Assistant Manager Enver Erkan said.

Cross-border trade, however, appeared to continue. Despite the nearby military maneuvers a kilometer line of traffic, mostly trucks and cargo, queued to enter Iraq at the Habour border gate.

Turkey’s strong economic ties to the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) will weigh on any response from Ankara. The KRG pumps hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil per day and has approved plans for Russian oil major Rosneft to invest in pipelines to export gas to Turkey and Europe.

The military exercises came as Turkey, the central government in Baghdad and their shared neighbor Iran all stepped up protests and warnings about the independence referendum in the semi-autonomous Kurdish northern Iraq.

The United States and other Western countries have also voiced concerns and asked Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani to call off the vote, citing fears the referendum could distract attention from the fight against ISIS militants.

Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court ordered Barzani to suspend the vote and approved Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s demand to consider “the breakaway of any region or province from Iraq as unconstitutional”, his office said on Monday.

Full report at:



How Iran-backed Popular Mobilization militias threatened Iraqi Kurds

19 September 2017

Kurdish sources said that the commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Qassim Soleimani, threatened the Kurds with an attack by the Popular Mobilization militias if they did not stop the referendum in the Kurdistan region of Iraq due to be held on September 25th.

The Monitor website reported from a close source to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan that Soleimani visited Kurdistan recently and informed the leaders of the Union who have close ties to Tehran that: “Iran has so far prevented the intervention of the popular Mobilization militias in Kirkuk, yet Tehran will not stop the Popular Mobilization militias if they carry out an attack on Kurdistan.”

According to the same source, Soleimani stated that: “So far, we have prevented the popular mobilization militias from attacking the Kurdistan region, but we will not hamper their efforts anymore.”

According to PUK sources, Soleimani and the United States envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition Brett McGurk tried separately last week, through their visits to Baghdad, Sulaimaniya and Erbil, to persuade all parties to return to dialogue table in order to reach an agreement and called on the Kurdistan region to cancel the referendum.

This comes as Iranian President Hassan Ruhani reiterated his country's rejection of the referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan and warned against "any changes in the geographical boundaries in the region."

Full report at:



Iraq breakup will lead to global conflict: Turkish minister

Sep 19, 2017

Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli has reiterated Ankara’s opposition to a planned Kurdish independence referendum in northern Iraq, warning that disintegration of Iraq will lead to a global conflict.

During a Tuesday speech in Ankara, Canikli described the planned referendum as a major risk for his country and underlined Turkey’s determination to take "every step" to thwart any similar measure in its southeast Kurdish areas.

“A change that will mean the violation of Iraq's territorial integrity poses a major risk for Turkey," Canikli said.

"The disruption of Syria and Iraq's territorial integrity will ignite a bigger, global conflict with an unseen end," he added.

The Iraqi Kurds plan to hold the plebiscite on September 25 in three provinces that make up their region, as well as in disputed areas that are controlled by Kurdish forces but claimed by Baghdad, including the oil-rich Kirkuk Province.

Canikli’s remarks come a day after Turkey launched a military exercise without warning across its southern border with Iraq which is scheduled to last until September 26, a day after the planned referendum.

On Tuesday, Turkish troops turned their weapons towards Kurdish-run northern Iraq, with tanks and rocket launchers mounted on armored vehicles facing the Iraqi frontier, Reuters reported.

Turkey, which has the largest Kurdish population, has robust economic ties to Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). The standoff has weakened the Turkish lira beyond 3.5 to the dollar for the first time in four weeks.

The Turkish cabinet and Turkish national security council have scheduled meetings on Friday to consider possible action.

Baghdad has slammed the upcoming vote as unconstitutional, calling on the Kurdish leadership to drop the plan.

On Monday, Iraq’s top court temporarily suspended the Kurdish independence referendum, saying it “issued a national order to suspend the referendum procedures ... until the resolution of the cases regarding the constitutionality of said decision.” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi also formally asked the Kurdish officials to halt the process.

Last week, Iraqi Kurdish lawmakers approved holding the secession vote in the face of fierce opposition from the central government in Baghdad.

The United Nations and the US as well as regional powers like Iran and Turkey have also expressed concerns about the planned referendum by the semi-autonomous KRG, arguing that it could create further instability in the already volatile region.

Full report at:



More Palestinians seek Abbas' resignation, remain skeptical of Trump, survey shows

Sep 19, 2017

A survey shows that 67 percent of Palestinians want the resignation of President Mahmoud Abbas and 75 percent remain skeptical of the role the administration of US President Donald Trump plays in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The result of the survey, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research among 1,270 Palestinians, was published Tuesday. It showed that only 33 percent of Palestinians wanted Abbas to remain in office. Three quarters believed the Trump administration was not serious about a peace deal.

The poll showed 52 percent of Palestinians still supported a two-state solution, but 57 percent said it was no longer feasible because of Israel's settlement expansion.

The Survey Research poll had an error margin of three percentage points.

The latest survey comes a day ahead of a meeting between Abbas and Trump on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

President Trump, who has not publicly supported establishing a Palestinian state or offered another path forward, said this week that his administration was "working very hard" toward a deal.

The Trump administration has been by and large vague about the potential establishment of a Palestinian state. Earlier this year, Washington suggested that it would no longer insist on the so-called two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which envisages the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

In 1948, Israeli forces seized vast expanses of Palestinian territories in Western-backed military operations and forced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland.

Israel also occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds, and the Gaza Strip during the Six-Day War in 1967. It later annexed East Jerusalem al-Quds in a move not recognized by the international community.

Israel later withdrew from Gaza but has kept the coastal enclave under a crippling siege since 2007.

Israel has also launched several wars on the Palestinian sliver, the last of which began in early July 2014. The Israeli military aggression, which ended on August 26 that year, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians. Over 11,100 others were also wounded.

Palestinian officials say they want the resolution of the conflict with Tel Aviv based on the two-state solution along the pre-1967 boundaries. However, Israel has been building settlements deep within territory that the Palestinians want for their future state.

Abbas’s popularity sinking

Abbas’s popularity has been sinking in the absence of strong diplomacy against Israel, a stagnating West Bank economy and the resurgence of forms of corruption that had been significantly reduced under former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Abbas, 82, is suddenly surrounded by a series of political challenges that amount to jockeying for succession.

Last month, Abbas threatened to gradually cut financial support to the impoverished strip of Gaza “by 100 percent” until Palestinian resistance movement Hamas agreed to reconcile with Fatah.

Hamas has shunned contacts with Israel, while the Palestinian Authority maintains security coordination with Tel Aviv.

Hamas has recently accepted “key” reconciliation conditions offered by Fatah party’s head, Abbas, including nationwide elections.

Full report at:



Israeli fighter jet bombs positions in occupied Golan Heights

Sep 19, 2017

An Israeli fighter jet has targeted positions in Syria’s occupied Golan Heights after a Patriot missile allegedly intercepted and shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle purportedly operated by the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement.

Beirut-based and English-language Daily Star reported that the aerial assaults targeted a number of areas in Syria’s strategic southwestern region of Quneitra near the border with Israeli-controlled Palestinian territories.

Earlier, the Israeli media outlets claimed that Israel's military forces had struck a reconnaissance drone as soon as it had entered the skies over the occupied Golan Heights. 

Israeli Military Spokesman Brigadier General Ronen Manelis said the Hezbollah-operated drone took off from Damascus International Airport.

During the past few years, Israel has frequently attacked military targets in Syria in what is considered as an attempt to prop up terrorist groups that have been suffering heavy defeats in their fight against Syrian government forces.

Back in April 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu officially admitted for the first time that the regime's military had conducted strikes in Syrian territory.  

Damascus says Israel and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups operating inside the Arab country, while the Tel Aviv regime's military carries out such sporadic strikes against Syrian government forces. The Israeli regime has even set up field hospitals to treat wounded militants evacuated from Syria.

Moreover, the Syrian army has repeatedly seized huge quantities of Israeli-made weapons and advanced military equipment from the foreign-backed militants inside Syria.

Full report at:



Almost 2 million people internally displaced in Yemen: UN

Sep 19, 2017

The United Nations (UN)’s refugee agency says nearly two million people have been internally displaced due to the conflict in Yemen.

In a report released on Monday, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) put the number of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Yemen at 1,980,510, adding that 84 percent of the IDPs had been out of their homes for over a year.

According to the report, 946,044 formerly displaced persons had returned to their homes, while 280,623 foreign refugees, mainly from Somalia and Ethiopia, were still in Yemen.

The UNHCR said it “remains deeply concerned by the significant impact the escalating hostilities are having on the protection of civilians and on the increase of newly displaced persons.”

“The war in Yemen, now in its third year, is exacting an unacceptably high toll on civilians, including on refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons,” it added.

In January 2015, the Saudi-friendly government of the then-president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi resigned under mounting pressure over its handling of the country’s affairs. The Houthi Ansarullah movement initially called on him to retract his resignation, but he refused, fleeing the capital. The Houthis then took over state matters to prevent a breakup of the state system and the rise of terrorist groups.

In March 2015, Saudi Arabia led a group of countries in a military invasion of Yemen in an attempt to eliminate the Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstall Hadi.

The protracted Saudi offensive, which has been accompanied by a naval and aerial blockade on Yemen, has so far killed over 12,000 people and led to a humanitarian crisis and a cholera outbreak.

Cholera likely to continue in Yemen: WHO

In a relevant development on Monday, Dominique Legros, a cholera expert at the World Health Organization (WHO), warned that the epidemic in Yemen was likely to continue for a long time.

The WHO has recorded 686,783 suspected cholera cases and 2,090 deaths in Yemen since late April.

Full report at:



Iranian president: No one will trust US if Trump nixes JCPOA

Sep 20, 2017

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has stressed that if US President Donald Trump reneges the JCPOA "no one will trust America again."

Rouhani made the remarks on Tuesday, during an interview with NBC News ahead of Trump’s address to the United Nations General Assembly.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed by Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China – plus Germany signed the nuclear agreement on July 14, 2015 and started implementing it on January 16, 2016.

Since Trump took office, the US has launched an attack against the nuclear deal negotiated between Iran and the world powers, including Washington, threatening to abandon the deal on multiple occasions.

"The exiting of the United States from such an agreement would carry a high cost, meaning that subsequent to such an action by the United States of America, no one will trust America again,” said Rouhani.

"Every word was analyzed many times by countries involved before its ratification, so if the United States were to not adhere to the commitments and trample upon this agreement, this will mean that it will carry with it the lack of subsequent trust from countries towards the United States because the greatest capital that any country has is trust and credibility," he added.

Rouhani further noted that if the US were to pull out of the deal Iran’s commitments would no longer exist.

“One of the options and choices were one of our counterparts not to remain in the current framework would be to go back to previous activities…This is one option. And that's not difficult. We can easily go back to previous conditions if counterparts were to not live up to their commitments. But you do know fairly well that Iran will not be the initiator of this return to that path."

Iran’s president went on to stress that his would only engage in peaceful activities, and that Islamic Republic had no wish to leave the JCPOA.

"So we will never go towards production of nuclear weapons, just as in the past we never intended to go towards that path nor did we ever. It has always been peaceful," he added.

He further noted that Iran’s missiles, fell outside the nuclear agreement and that Tehran would never sacrifice its "defensive missile capabilities."

Full report at:



Trump's UN speech 'belongs in medieval times,' says Iran’s Zarif

Sep 19, 2017

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said that US President Donald Trump’s UN address is not worth of a reply.

"Trump's ignorant hate speech belongs in medieval times - not the 21st century UN - unworthy of a reply," Zarif tweeted on Tuesday.

“Fake empathy for Iranians fools no one," he stressed.

Since Trump took office, the US has launched an attack against the nuclear deal negotiated between Iran and the world powers, including Washington, threatening to abandon the deal on multiple occasions.

Trump told the United Nations General Assembly earlier Tuesday that the nuclear agreement, dubbed as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is an “embarrassment” to the United States.

The US president repeated baseless allegations against Tehran, accusing it of engaging in “destabilizing activities” in the region.

Trump claimed that Iran's "support for terror is in stark contrast to the recent commitments of many of its neighbors to fight terrorism and halt its financing,”

The US and some of its regional allies, including Saudi Arabia, have been staunch supporters of Takfiri terrorists in the Muslim states of Syria and Iraq.

Tehran has, meanwhile, been praised for its support for anti-terrorism efforts by the governments in Damascus and Baghdad.

The Takfiri terrorists of Daesh were initially trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government.

Trump’s top diplomat appeared on the US media later to highlight his boss’s stance on the JCPOA.

“If we’re going to stick with the Iran deal there has to be changes made to it. The sunset provisions simply is not a sensible way forward,” said US State Secretary Rex Tillerson. “It’s just simply ... kicking the can down the road again for someone in the future to have to deal with.”

Tillerson made the comments as the October 15 deadline was approaching for the president to certify that Iran is complying with the pact.

If Trump refuses to do that, then the Republican-controlled Congress will have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions waived under the deal.

Full report at:



North America


Time to expose countries supporting terror groups: Trump

September 20, 2017

United Nations - US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that it is time to expose and hold responsible those countries which provide funding and safe havens to terror groups.

In his maiden address to the United Nations General Assembly, Trump said that all responsible nations must work together to confront terrorists and “the Islamic extremist that inspires them”.

“We will stop radical Islamic terrorism, because we cannot allow it to tear up our nation and, indeed, to tear up the entire world,” he said. “It is time to expose and hold responsible” nations that provide funding and safe havens to terror groups, Trump said without naming any country.

He said countries must deny the terrorists safe havens, training, funding and any form of support for their “vile and sinister ideology”. “We must drive them out from our nations. It is time to expose and hold those responsible those countries who support and finance terror groups like Al-Qaeda, Hezabollah and the Taliban and others,” he said.

The US president said America and its allies were working together to crush the terrorists and prevent the re-emergence of safe havens they use to launch attacks.

Recalling his new strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia, Trump said it was aimed at defeating terrorists in war-torn Afghanistan. “From now onwards the security agencies will dictate the length and scope of military operations, not our betraying benchmarks and timetables set up by politicians,” he said.

“I have also totally changed the rules of engagements of our fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups,” he said.

In his bellicose address, President Trump also warned “Rocket Man” Kim Jong-Un is on a “suicide mission” and threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if it targets the United States or its allies.

Appearing for the first time before the 193-member organisation that emerged from the ashes of World War II, Trump boasted of America’s military strength, signalled he was ready to rip up a nuclear accord with the “murderous regime” in Tehran, and berated US foes in Pyongyang, Venezuela, Syria and Cuba.

“The United States has great strength and patience,” Trump said - as he followed in the footsteps of US presidents from Harry Truman to Barack Obama - “but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” he warned.

“Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime,” he said, using his new nickname for the North Korean leader. “The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary.”

In a veiled criticism of China and Russia, who were barely mentioned in the rest of the speech, Trump said any trade with North Korea was morally questionable.

Trump pilloried Iran as a corrupt “rogue state” and threatened to rip up the landmark international deal struck in 2015 to curb Tehran’s nuclear programme.

“Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it,” Trump told the UN General Assembly. “Believe me. It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction.”

But, the US leader added, the greatest threat to the Tehran regime was not the American military, but the Iranian people who want change.

The packed General Assembly hall greeted Trump’s tough rhetoric and calls for individual nation states - rather than supranational bodies - to form the basis of the global order with periods of silence punctuated by polite applause during his 42 minutes of remarks.

Trump did not back away from his populist “America First” campaign rhetoric, but instead suggested it should be an example to other UN members.

“Our respect for sovereignty is also a call for action. All people deserve a government that cares for their safety, their interests.”

“As long as I hold this office, I will defend America’s interests above all else, but in fulfilling our obligations to our nations, we also realise that it’s in everyone’s interests to seek the future where all nations can be sovereign, prosperous and secure,” he said.

After decades in which America has led the drive toward a global rules-based order, Trump indicated his foreign policy would define the national interest more narrowly.

“For too long the American people were told that mammoth, multinational trade deals, unaccountable international tribunals and powerful global bureaucracies were the best way to promote their success,” Trump said.

“But as those promises flowed, millions of jobs vanished and thousands of factories disappeared.”

The speech provoked strong responses almost immediately - drawing praise from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu although against expectations Trump did not mention the Middle East peace process, which he has promised to pursue.

“In over 30 years in my experience with the UN, I never heard a bolder or more courageous speech,” said Netanyahu. “President Trump spoke the truth about the great dangers facing our world and issued a powerful call to confront them in order to ensure the future of humanity,” he said in a statement.

At home in the United States however, Trump was pilloried by among others veteran Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein. “The goals of the United Nations are to foster peace and promote global cooperation,” she said. “Today, the president used it as a stage to threaten war.”

“He aims to unify the world through tactics of intimidation, but in reality he only further isolates the United States,” she said.


Global anxieties about a nuclear war are at their highest level in decades, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday as he opened a gathering of world leaders dominated by the crisis with North Korea.

Addressing the high-level debate at the General Assembly, Guterres said millions of people are living in dread as a result of North Korea’s provocative nuclear and missile tests. “The use of nuclear weapons should be unthinkable,” Guterres said.

“But today global anxieties about nuclear weapons are at the highest level since the end of the Cold War.”

The fear of nuclear warfare “is not abstract,” he added. “Millions of people live under a shadow of dread cast by the provocative nuclear and missile tests” carried out by Pyongyang.

From page 1

who want change. The packed General Assembly hall greeted Trump’s tough rhetoric and calls for individual nation states - rather than supranational bodies - to form the basis of the global order with periods of silence punctuated by polite applause during his 42 minutes of remarks.

Trump did not back away from his populist “America First” campaign rhetoric, but instead suggested it should be an example to other UN members.

“Our respect for sovereignty is also a call for action. All people deserve a government that cares for their safety, their interests.”

“As long as I hold this office, I will defend America’s interests above all else, but in fulfilling our obligations to our nations, we also realise that it’s in everyone’s interests to seek the future where all nations can be sovereign, prosperous and secure,” he said.

After decades in which America has led the drive toward a global rules-based order, Trump indicated his foreign policy would define the national interest more narrowly.

“For too long the American people were told that mammoth, multinational trade deals, unaccountable international tribunals and powerful global bureaucracies were the best way to promote their success,” Trump said.

“But as those promises flowed, millions of jobs vanished and thousands of factories disappeared.”

The speech provoked strong responses almost immediately - drawing praise from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu although against expectations Trump did not mention the Middle East peace process, which he has promised to pursue.

“In over 30 years in my experience with the UN, I never heard a bolder or more courageous speech,” said Netanyahu. “President Trump spoke the truth about the great dangers facing our world and issued a powerful call to confront them in order to ensure the future of humanity,” he said in a statement.

At home in the United States however, Trump was pilloried by among others veteran Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein. “The goals of the United Nations are to foster peace and promote global cooperation,” she said. “Today, the president used it as a stage to threaten war.”

“He aims to unify the world through tactics of intimidation, but in reality he only further isolates the United States,” she said.



Trump calls Iran nuclear deal an 'embarrassment' to US

Sep 19, 2017

US President Donald Trump has told the United Nations General Assembly that the internationally-negotiated nuclear agreement with Iran is an “embarrassment” to the United States, raising question whether he intends to stay in the 2015 accord.

Trump made his maiden speech before the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, addressing issues such as terrorism, North Korea’s nuclear program and the Iran deal.

The Republican president described the Iran nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as “the worst and most one-sided transaction the US has ever entered into,” a characterization he often used during his presidential campaign.

“I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it, believe me,” Trump said.

The Trump administration has desperately sought a pretext to scrap or weaken the 2015 deal and get rid of the limits the deal imposes on the US ability to pursue more hostile policies against Iran.

However, Washington’s European allies seek to prevent the collapse of the deal and are stepping up efforts to convince Trump not to abandon the accord.

Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, said on Monday that the Iran deal belonged to the entire world, not just the United States.

“I have said many times that the agreement is working fine, [and] the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) [has] confirmed several times that Iran is fulfilling its obligations,” Mogherini said on Monday.

Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China – plus Germany signed the nuclear agreement on July 14, 2015 and started implementing it on January 16, 2016.

Under the JCPOA, Iran undertook to put limitations on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.

The White House faces an imminent decision on whether to certify that Iran is in compliance with the terms of the nuclear accord.

In his address, Trump also accused the Iranian government of exporting “violence, bloodshed and chaos.”

"Iran must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors."

Trump threatens to ‘destroy’ North Korea

Trump also warned that he would “totally destroy” North Korea if the country threatened the United States or its allies.

"The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea," he said.

"It is time for North Korea to realize that its denuclearization is its only responsible future," he added.

Trump also warned that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, whom he referred to as "rocket man", "is on a suicide mission for himself."

The strong words came after Trump made the case that North Korea is a "country that imperils the world,” adding that it is in no country's interest that Pyongyang continues with its nuclear and missile programs.

Trump also praised the United Nations for imposing economic sanctions on Pyongyang over its recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

Trump called on the international community to further isolate North Korea in light of its "reckless pursuit" of nuclear weapons.

"It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a nation but would arm, supply and financially support a country that imperils the world."

World in ‘great peril’

The US president also addressed the issue of terrorism, saying the world faced a “great peril” from terrorists with expanding reach across the globe and “rogue regimes” that supported them.

“We meet at a time of immense promise and great peril,” Trump said. “It is up to us whether we will lift the world to new heights or let it fall into a valley of disrepair.”

Trump, who has criticized the UN in the past as weak and incompetent, said, "The powerful people in this room, under the guidance and auspices of the United Nations can solve many of these vicious and complex problems.”

The president indicated that the United States was prepared to combat global instability through military force. "Our military will soon be the strongest it's ever been," he said.

Trump opened his remarks touting his economic achievements as president, a nod to his core campaign promises of prosperity at home.

"The United States has done very well since Election Day last November 8," he said. "The stock market is at an all-time high, a record. Unemployment is at its lowest level."

Trump brought his “America-First” agenda to the UN, saying he would place America’s interests above those of all other countries.

Full report at:



US halts arms sales to Erdogan bodyguards

September 20, 2017

WASHINGTON - The US government has frozen arms sales to the bodyguards of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after his aides attacked demonstrators in Washington last May, two senators said Monday.

Senators Patrick Leahy and Chris Van Hollen said the move came after they proposed their own legislation to halt any sales to the Turkish Presidential Protection Directorate.

The move would block a deal by New Hampshire-based Sig Sauer to sell $1.2m worth of small arms to the bodyguard unit behind the May 16 assault on anti-Erdogan protesters during a presidential visit to Washington. “This sale to President Erdogan’s personal security guards should never have been approved, given their history of excessive force,” Leahy and Van Hollen said in a statement. “We should also stop selling weapons to units of the Turkish National Police that have been arbitrarily arresting and abusing Turkish citizens who peacefully criticize the govt.”

Nineteen members of Erdogan’s security detail have been indicted over the daylight attack in front of the Turkish ambassador’s residence that saw several demonstrators sent to hospital for serious injuries.

Two Turkish-Americans were arrested and pleaded innocent to assault charges on September 7. The others, including 15 Turkish nationals and two Turkish-Canadians, remain at large outside the United States.

Full report at:



US President Trump slams Iran in first speech to UN

19 September 2017

United States President Donald Trump says at the United Nations that the Iranian government is an “economically depleted rogue state” whose chief export is violence.

Trump told world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly that the world cannot allow the “murderous regime” to continue its destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles.

The president also questioned the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. He says world leaders “cannot abide” by the agreement if it “provides cover” for Iran to eventually build its nuclear program.

The administration last week extended sanctions relief to Iran, avoiding imminent action that could implode the landmark agreement.

Full report at:



Tens of millions of Americans do not believe Muslims and atheists have First Amendment rights, study finds

Sep 19, 2017

Nearly a quarter of Americans do not believe or do not know if Muslims and atheists are granted the same constitutional rights as other citizens, according to a new poll.

Of those surveyed by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Centre, 22 per cent did not believe or did not know if Muslims in the US had First Amendment rights.

The First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

As a result Congress is banned from passing laws that discriminate against people of specific religious faiths.

But when around 1,000 American adults were asked whether they thought it was accurate to say their Muslim countrymen have the same rights as other citizens, 76 per cent said it was very or somewhat accurate.

A further 18 per cent said it was very or somewhat inaccurate and four percent said they did not know.

On the same question regarding atheists, 79 per cent of those surveyed said it was very accurate or somewhat accurate and 15 per cent said it was very or somewhat inaccurate. Five percent said they did not know.

A significant proportion of respondents were not sure of the rights granted by the First Amendment, with just under half able to name freedom of speech as a guaranteed right.

Of the adults polled, 37 per cent were unable to name any of the rights granted under the amendment.

Fifty-three per cent of Americans polled wrongly thought undocumented immigrants are not afforded rights under the constitution.

But the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause states otherwise: “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

In 2001, the US Supreme Court ruled in Zadvydas v. Davis that “due process” of the 14th Amendment applies to all aliens in the US whose presence maybe or is “unlawful, involuntary or transitory”.

“Protecting the rights guaranteed by the Constitution presupposes that we know what they are. The fact that many don’t is worrisome,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

Full report at:



South Asia


Ghani to brief UN regarding terrorism and regional support terror groups receive

Sep 19 2017

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani will talk about terrorism, the threats it poses to the region, and regional support the terror groups receive during his speech at the UN General Assembly.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) spokesman Ahmad Shekib Moshtaghani told reporters that main topic included in President Ghani’s speech at the UN General Assembly includes the menace of terrorism posing threats to the region.

He said President Ghani will also cover the issue of support of Pakistan to the terrorist groups.

Mostaghni further added that the Afghan government has long been insisting that the terrorist attacks in Afghanistan are being planned on the side of the line in Pakistan.

According to Mostaghni, several nations have now reached to a conclusion that Pakistan support terrorist groups.

He also added that the issue has also been included in the new strategy of the United States for Afghanistan and South Asia.

The Afghan officials are saying that the growing violence in Afghanistan has direct links with the sanctuaries of the Taliban and the notorious Haqqani terrorist network based in the key cities of Pakistan.

The officials insist that the two groups are based in Quetta, Peshawar, and other cities of the country, a claim which has repeatedly been supported by similar statements given by the United States.



Suu Kyi breaks silence, defends handling of Rohingya crisis


NAYPYIDAW: In her much-anticipated address, Aung San Suu Kyi said on Tuesday that she does not fear global scrutiny over the Rohingya crisis, pledging to hold rights violators to account and to resettle some of the 410,000 Muslims who have fled army operations in her country.

The de facto leader of Myanmar, however, offered no concrete solutions to stop what the UN calls ‘ethnic cleansing’. Amnesty International said that the Nobel peace prize winner was ‘burying her head in the sand’ by ignoring army abuses. Her speech was warmly welcomed in Myanmar.

Suu Kyi has been strongly criticised by the international community for failing to speak up publicly for the stateless Rohingya or to urge restraint on the military.

In a 30-minute televised speech on Tuesday, she reached out to her critics, deploying the soaring rhetoric that once made her a darling of the global rights community.

In an address timed to pre-empt likely censure at the UN General Assembly in New York, she said that Myanmar stood ready ‘at any time’ to repatriate refugees in accordance with a ‘verification’ process agreed with Bangladesh in the early 1990s.

In less than a month, just under half of Rakhine’s one-million-strong Rohingya minority has poured into Bangladesh, where they now languish in one of the world’s largest refugee camps.

Those ‘verified as refugees’ will be ‘accepted without any problems and with full assurance of their security and access to humanitarian aid’, Suu Kyi said.

It was not immediately clear how many Rohingya would qualify to return.

But the subject of their claims to live in Myanmar is at the heart of a toxic debate about the Muslim group, who are denied citizenship by the state and considered to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Myanmar’s government has previously said it will not take back people linked with ‘terrorists’ and suggested that many of those who fled had set fire to their own villages before leaving.

Suu Kyi’s pledge to repatriate the refugees ‘is new and significant’, said Richard Horsey, an independent analyst based in Myanmar, explaining it would in principle allow for the return of those who can prove residence in Myanmar - rather than citizenship. “However, there continues to be a live crisis in the north of Rakhine,” he said.

A siege mentality has emerged in Myanmar with the UN, international NGOs and foreign media the focus of anger for apparent pro-Rohingya bias.

Many Facebook users changed their profile picture on Tuesday to carry a banner with a photo of ‘The Lady’ and a message reading, “We stand with you Daw Aung San Suu Kyi” — using an honorific.

In an address delivered entirely in English, Suu Kyi insisted that army ‘clearance operations’ finished on September 5 without any further militant attacks.

But AFP reporters have seen homes on fire in the days following September 5, while testimony from refugees arriving in Bangladesh suggests army operations have continued.

Fresh satellite date published by Human Rights Watch on Tuesday purportedly shows 214 Rohingya villages in ashes.

“If nothing has happened since September 5th, and all the Rohingya have left, who burned them?” Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch told AFP.

Inside Myanmar, supporters say that the 72-year-old leader lacks the power to rein in the army, with which she is in a delicate power-sharing arrangement.

Deftly avoiding blaming different ethnic groups or the army for violence, Suu Kyi promised to punish anyone found guilty of abuses ‘regardless of their religion, race or political position’.

Rights monitors and Rohingya refugees allege the army — often flanked by ethnic Rakhine mobs — systematically torched their villages, while the UN has accused Myanmar’s military of ‘ethnic cleansing’.

The army denies that, insisting its operations are a proportionate response to the raids by Rohingya militants, whom they label ‘extremist Bengali terrorists’.

Amnesty International, which once tirelessly campaigned for Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest, pilloried her speech saying ‘The Lady’ and her government are ‘burying their heads in the sand’ about the horrors unfolding in Rakhine.

Around 170 Rohingya villages have been razed to the ground, the government says, nearly 40 percent of the total in Rakhine.

Suu Kyi said the “majority of Muslims in the Rakhine state have not joined the exodus [...] more than 50 percent of the villages of Muslims are intact”.

Full report at:



Won’t keep Rohingya asylum-seekers for long: Colombo

SEPTEMBER 19, 2017

Influential monks have asked the govt. to deny them refuge

Amid protests by sections of the island’s influential Buddhist monks, who urged Sri Lanka not to accept Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims as refugees, the government has said it would not keep Rohingya asylum-seekers for long. Denying any mass influx of Rohingya Muslims into Sri Lanka, State Minister of Foreign Affairs Wasantha Senanayake said that even if some of them had managed to land on Sri Lankan shores, it was, in all likelihood, in small numbers — of not more than 20-25 people.

“They will either be sent back to Myanmar as the situation improves [there] or [we] will send them to another country that matches with their way of living. We will not be keeping them for long,” Mr. Senanayake told the state-run Daily News on Monday.

30 from Myanmar

According to information provided by the UNHCR office here, nearly 30 refugees and asylum-seekers from Myanmar are presently in Sri Lanka, among the more than 1,000 from different countries.

Mr. Senanayake’s remarks came days after some monks held a protest in Colombo. Hard-liners from the Buddhist clergy in Sri Lanka and Myanmar have in the past vowed to work together to protect their common religion. In 2014, controversial Buddhist monk from Myanmar Ashin Wirathu, accused of leading an anti-Muslim movement in Burma, had pledged support to the Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Power Force), also accused of hate speech and carrying out anti-Muslim attacks.

Over the last few years, a series of violent attacks targeting Sri Lanka’s Muslims, who make up 10% of the population, have sparked international concerns over perceived religious intolerance in the country.

Full report at:



Who calls the shots in Hefazat now?

September 19, 2017

Sources say anti-government elements within the organisation have been expelled or sidelined over the last few years

Though Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh has existed in name for many years, it came under the spotlight for the first time in 2013 by mobilising a massive opposition to the Gonojagoron Moncho movement started in February that year.

It was also then that the radical group issued their infamous 13-point charter of demands, which included a ban on free mixing of men and women and capital punishment for atheists.

Since May 5, 2013, when they unleashed daylong mayhem in Dhaka’s Motijheel, Paltan and adjacent areas, Hefazat has also come into focus a number of other times over the years.

The recent one, which drew harsh criticisms from various quarters, was in April when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina concurred with Hefazat’s demand that the Lady Justice statue on the Supreme Court premises was inappropriate. Later, the statue was moved from there.

The radical group also scored a victory when PM Hasina recognised top Qawmi madrasa degree Dawrah-e-Hadith as equivalent to post-graduate degrees, attracting protests from many secular-leaning organisations and individuals.

Also Read- Hefazat: Remove all idols from public areas

However, it seems now Hefazat chief Shah Ahmed Shafi, who operates out of Darul Ulum Moinul Islam Madrasa at Hathazari, Chittagong, is slowly losing control of the organisation and maybe facing resistance from some former central leaders.

With many leaving Hefazat or getting expelled following internal feuds in the past few years, sources say the Awami League-led government has been influencing the Islamist organisation and its activities from the shadows, for a while now.

Apart from the expulsion of key figures, thousands of Hefazat leaders and activists, who are pro-BNP and anti-government, are also inactive in the absence of major organisational activities.

Zunaid Al-Habib, Maulana Habibur Rahman and Munir Ahmed are some of many central leaders who are now either inactive or expelled from Hefazat.

After May 2013, many leaders including Secretary General Junayed Babunagari wanted to continue their movement, but Shafi and his son Anas Madani did not show any interest, sources said.

Also Read- Hefazat chief Shafi out of danger

They said those who defied the duo and tried to carry on the movements are now either facing cases or persecution by government, after being expelled from Hefazat.

A central leader, requesting anonymity, told the Dhaka Tribune that Shafi and Anas even had Babunagari take the bench for a while for his interest in anti-government movements.

He was allowed to return to organisational activities after agreeing to follow their directives unconditionally.

However, the latest casualty was Shafi’s press secretary Munir Ahmed, a key figure in the penning of the 13-point demands, when he was fired in August over an internal feud.

Anas and some Hefazat leaders admitted that many have left the organisation or got expelled because of internal feuds, but said their departures were not on point of the movement.

Government pulling the strings?

Several sources from both Chittagong and Dhaka units told the Dhaka Tribune that the central leaders of Hefazat have been receiving instructions from the government since the 2013 Motijheel mayhem.

A day after May 5, 2013, Shafi had claimed that law enforcement agencies killed hundreds of Hefazat activists during the clashes. But he went silent on the issue mysteriously a few days later, leaders of the fundamentalist group said.

They said until 2013 their movement was coordinated by the Lalbagh Madrasa leaders. But in the last three years, the leadership has shifted to the Baridhara Madrasa, led by its Vice-President Nur Hossain Kashemi.

Kashemi, also the Dhaka unit chief, had earlier described their movement as unsuccessful.

Also Read- The dangerous consequences of indulging Hefazat

Three years ago, Maulana Farid Uddin Masud, chairman of Bangladesh Jamiyatul Ulama, who heads the country’s largest Eid congregation in Kishoreganj, was not directly involved with Hefazat. But now he is a key figure in the Dhaka city unit, a Hefazat central committee member said.

Insiders said some were trying to take Hefazat’s control via Masud. But how that will play out and the possible consequences were uncertain.

Many leaders claimed Anas Madani was now at the helm of the group just for show. He makes all organisational decisions following instructions from the government.

However, when the Dhaka Tribune reached him for comments, Anas did not show any interest in talking about the issues.

A central leader, requesting anonymity, told the Dhaka Tribune that leaders of the radical group were not in control any more.

In the past few years, some Awami League leaders even went to the Hathazari madrasa to meet with Shafi and the Hefazat leadership.

On May 29, 2016, ruling party leader Sirajul Jabbar Chowdhury, Golapganj municipal mayor in Sylhet, had joined a Hefazat programme attended by Shafi. Narayanganj 4 MP Shamim Osman also attended a programme of ‘Narayanganjer Sorbostorer Muslim’ sponsored Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh on April 21.

Also Read- 13 points author Munir fired from Hefazat

After Shafi’s meeting with the prime minister earlier this year, the civil society and many politicians had criticised the government for negotiating with them.

That had, however, prompted Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader to quickly claim that no deal was made with the fundamentalist group.

Abdur Rahman, joint general secretary of the ruling party, told the Dhaka Tribune that Awami League had no ties to Hefazat.

“Hefazat leaders are spreading rumours about Awami League and their ties out of vengeance as they are mired in inner conflict. It is one form of political manoeuvre on the part of Hefazat leaders.”

However, an adviser of Awami League Central Working Committee told the Dhaka Tribune on condition of anonymity that the ruling party was able to break the ties between Hefazat, BNP and Jamaat, which they consider a political success.

He said: “Some Hefazat leaders may be awarded with a nomination in the upcoming election as they have left BNP-Jamaat and aligned themselves with us.”

Powerplay in motion

Over 50 Hefazat leaders, after negotiating with the government, are now planning to take part in the next national election with tickets from different registered Islamist political parties, sources said.

Although Hefazat claims to be a non-political movement, many of its members have already taken part in several local government polls in recent times, winning a few.

Following these victories, Islamist politicians affiliated with the group are now seeing the organisation as a potential vote bank.

Hefazat central leadership had been silently consenting to these political aspirations after seeing them as an opportunity to take their 13-point agenda to parliament.

Money from the government?

Sources within the organisation alleged that Shafi, Anas and other leaders have somewhat given up on the group’s movements after receiving “a large amount of financial aid.”

A Hefazat central leader said Allama Ahmad Shafi Foundation had given Shafi an 80-car motorcade reception when he returned to Chittagong from India after receiving treatments in August. The foundation spent Tk6,000 to rent each car.

Insiders also alleged that the foundation had collected a large sum of money for the Rohingya refugees several months ago. But that money never reached the refugees.

However, Hefazat attempted to lay siege to the Myanmar embassy in Dhaka yesterday in protest against the ongoing oppression of the Rohingya in Rakhine State. But police halted their march.

Also Read- 20,000 Hefazat activists rally for Rohingya

Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, a Hefazat leader, who is very close to the organisation chief, claimed Shafi does not work anymore for Hefazat and the Muslim community.

They said the Hefazat chief is now just busy gathering wealth and with his life using Hefazat’s name and the 13-point charter of demands.

Full report at:



Hekmatyar claims his party’s presence has prevented the govt from collapse

Sep 20 2017

The leader of Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has claimed that the presence of Hezb-e-Islami has prevented the collapse of the government currently in power.

Hekmatyar made the latest remarks during a gathering with the tribal elders of the eastern provinces.

He said the party has no contribution or role in the government but the peace deal was signed to end the war and violence and ensure peace and stability.

The leader of the party vowed continued support and efforts for peace and stability, insisting that such efforts would aimed to the pave the way for the Hezb-e-Islami members and supporters to live a dignified life.

Hekmatyar once again adopted a tougher stance against the other political parties, claiming that such parties are in power but in the meantime the people and the nation have hatred against them.

He went on to claim that Hezb-e-Islami has a nationwide support and trust, insisting that such a thing is vital for a political party.

He did not name any specific political party during his meeting with the tribal elders.

Full report at:



2 members of Pak-based Lashkar-e-Islam killed in Nangarhar airstrike

Sep 19 2017

At least two members of the Lashkar-e-Islam based in Pakistan have been killed in airstrike in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Defense of Afghanistan in a statement confirmed the airstrike and killing of the two members of the group.

However, no further details were regarding the airstrike and identities of those killed in the airstrike.

In the meantime, officials in the 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan national army in the East, said the airstrike was carried out in Bandar area of Achin district.

The officials confirmed that the two militants killed in the airstrike were members of Lashkar-e-Islam.

The officials also added that two ISIS militants were killed in a separate airstrike conducted in Bati Kot district of Nangarhar province.

At least one insurgent of the terror group was also wounded and one of their motorcycles was destroyed, the officials added.

The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the report so far.

Full report at:



Arab World


Saudi Arabia arrests two rights activists

Sep 20, 2017

DUBAI - Two prominent Saudi human rights defenders were arrested last weekend, campaigners said Tuesday, amid an ongoing crackdown on dissenters in the kingdom.

Abdulaziz al-Shubaily and Issa al-Hamid are both members of the local Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), which Saudi authorities banned and shut down in 2013.

Sources quoted by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) said the arrests were linked to past convictions.

A special court confirmed Shubaily’s eight year prison term earlier this year for calling for demonstrations and what authorities described as threatening public order.

Another court sentenced Hamid to 11 years in prison on appeal in 2016, after first being granted a nine years in jail, for “damaging the image of the state”.

It was unclear why the two were not serving the sentences for their previous convictions or why they were detained now.

There was no immediate confirmation of the arrests from the government.

“This is a dark time for freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia,” Samah Hadid of Amnesty International said in a statement.

“These two arrests have confirmed our fears that the new leadership under Mohammed bin Salman is determined to crush the kingdom’s human rights movement,” Hadid said, referring to the son of King Salman who became crown prince earlier this year.

GCHR demanded their immediate and unconditional release, calling them prisoners of conscience.

The arrests come after authorities last week detained around two dozen people, including influential clerics, in what activists decried as a coordinated crackdown.

Analysts say many of those detained are resistant to Prince Mohammed’s aggressive foreign policy that includes the boycott of Gulf neighbour Qatar as well as some of his bold reforms, including privatising state assets and cutting subsidies.

Saudi officials have instead suggested a foreign plot to overthrow the government, without disclosing details.



Curfew imposed in Iraq’s Kirkuk after clashes over Kurdistan vote

Sep 19, 2017

Iraqi police have imposed a curfew in the northern city of Kirkuk, which witnessed skirmishes between Kurds and Turkmen days before a controversial Kurdish referendum on independence from the mainland.

The Iraqi Kurds plan to hold the plebiscite on September 25 in three provinces that make up their region, as well as in disputed areas that are controlled by Kurdish forces but claimed by Baghdad, including the oil-rich Kirkuk Province.

Baghdad has slammed the upcoming vote as unconstitutional, calling on the Kurdish leadership to drop the plan.

On Monday, Iraq’s top court temporarily suspended the Kurdish independence referendum, saying it “issued a national order to suspend the referendum procedures ... until the resolution of the cases regarding the constitutionality of said decision.” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi also formally asked the Kurdish officials to halt the process.

Later in the day, gunmen opened fire on one of the Kirkuk offices of the Iraqi Turkmen Front political movement, which is opposed to the Kurdish vote.

Mohammed Samaan Kanaan, in charge of the Front’s offices, told The Associated Press that guards returned fire, killing one and wounding two of the assailants.

Hours later, a police patrol attacked another office of the Iraqi Turkmen Front, but there were no casualties, he added.

Afterwards, Kirkuk was placed under a nighttime curfew, with provincial police chief, Brigadier General Khattab Omar saying that an investigation committee was probing the incident.

He blamed Monday’s clashes on “reckless enthusiastic youths” and said that arrests have been made.

Locals said Iraqi police had deployed overnight in Kirkuk to prevent any outbreak of ethnic violence ahead the Kurdish vote.

Last week, Iraqi Kurdish lawmakers approved holding the secession vote in the face of fierce opposition from the central government in Baghdad.

The United Nations and the US as well as regional powers like Iran and Turkey have also expressed concerns about the planned referendum by the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), arguing that it could create further instability in the already volatile region.

Full report at:



King Salman orders additional $15 million for Rohingyas

19 September 2017

King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud ordered an additional $15 million for the Rohingya Muslims on Tuesday during a cabinet meeting that condemned the terrorist massacres.

The cabinet meeting discussed the brutal attacks and genocide committed against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and the systematic destruction of many villages and homes of the Muslim minority group.

The cabinet meeting renewed calls made by Saudi Arabia on the international community to take urgent action to stop the violent acts and to give the Muslim minority in Myanmar their rights without discrimination or racial classification.

For generations, Rohingya Muslims have called Myanmar home. Now, in what appears to be a systematic purge, they are, quite literally, being wiped off the map.

After a series of attacks by Muslim militants last month, security forces and allied mobs retaliated by burning down thousands of homes in the enclaves of the predominantly Buddhist nation where the Rohingya live.

Full report at:



Iraqi forces recapture village in Anbar from Daesh terrorists

Sep 19, 2017

Iraqi army soldiers, backed by allied fighters from Popular Mobilization Units, have fully liberated a village in the country’s beleaguered western province of Anbar from the grip of Daesh terrorist group as operations continue to win back the militant-held areas there.

Lebanon-based Arabic-language al-Mayadeen news network reported on Tuesday that Iraq's government troops and their allies had managed to retake al-Rayhaniyah.

Earlier, the media bureau of the Joint Operations Command (JOC) had announced the start of an operation to reclaim the town of Anah and the nearby village of al-Rayhaniyah .

The head of Anah's municipal council, Abdel Karim al-Ani, confirmed the onset of the offensive, noting that security forces had opened a road out of the town to allow civilians to flee.

Lieutenant General Abdul Amir Yarallah stated that infantry units and members of the Federal Police Force, supported by fighters from Popular Mobilization Units – commonly known by their Arabic name, Hashd al-Sha’abi, were involved in the offensive against Daesh terrorists.

A military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the operation was “developing along three axes,” noting that Iraqi army helicopters and fighter jets from the so-called US-led coalition were providing air support for forces on the ground.

The development came a day after Daesh executed four of its leaders as they attempted to flee Anah.

Iraqi army troops and their allies are expected to next target the towns of Rawah and al-Qa'im.

In another development and while addressing reporters during a weekly press briefing in Baghdad on September 6, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi stated that government forces, in full cooperation with Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, would soon launch an operation to liberate Hawijah town in the oil-rich northern province of Kirkuk from Daesh Takfiri terrorists.

Daesh terrorists took control of Hawijah after capturing Mosul and several other Iraqi cities in mid-2014.

Drone strike kills 2 Daesh leaders in Salahuddin

Separately, two high-ranking Daesh commanders were killed when an Iraqi unmanned aerial vehicle conducted an assault in the central province of Salahuddin.

A local source said the aerial assault targeted a vehicle as it was travelling along an agricultural road on the outskirts of al-Shirqat town.

One of those killed was reportedly an assistant to Daesh’s security commander in eastern Shirqat, while another was a high-ranking Daesh member in the town’s countryside.

Over 12,000 refugees return to their hometowns in Nineveh

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration says more than 12,000 internally displaced persons have returned of to their hometowns in the northern province of Nineveh.

Jawan Mahmoud, a provincial official, said 12.553 refugees had left camps across the province as well as the northern city of Dohuk, and returned to their native regions.

Mahmoud added that the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration, in coordination with the Ministry of Transportation, had earmarked dozens of trucks for transporting the refugees’ furniture and other possessions.

On August 31, Iraq's prime minister said the city of Tal Afar and the entire Nineveh province had been purged of Daesh Takfiri terrorists.

The recapture of Tal Afar was made possible with the help of Iraqi army soldiers, Federal Police Force, Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS), Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters and the Interior Ministry's elite rapid response forces, Abadi added.

Twin bombings kill 3, injure 34 in northern Iraq restaurant

Furthermore, at least three people lost their lives and nearly three dozen others sustained injuries when two bombers blew themselves up inside a restaurant frequented by Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters in the town of Hajaj.

“Two attackers detonated their explosive belts in a restaurant in Hajaj, killing three people and wounding 34. A third assailant was shot dead by security forces,” Interior Ministry spokesman, Saad Maan, said in a statement.

Full report at:



Syria: US Forces, Affiliated Militants Destroy Abandoned Base in Eastern Homs

Sep 19, 2017

According to reports by the English-language AMN, neither the United States nor the FSA plans to use the al-Zakaf Base anymore and in the process of abandoning it have also chosen to destroy it in order to prevent the garrison’s utilization by any other armed party.

The al-Zakaf Base served as a secondary Coalition garrison to the more important al-Tanf Base further West of it. Here the Coalition trained Free Syrian Army mercenaries oversaw their operations in Southwestern Syria.

Websites affiliated to the terrorist groups reported on Monday that the US Army pulled forces back from al-Zakaf in Syria's Badiyeh (desert) region.

Al-Qasiyoun website quoted Mahmoud Abdullah, one of the commanders of Jeish Maqavir al-Thorah, as saying that the US army forces retreated from al-Zakaf base in Eastern Homs towards regions near al-Tanf airbase at Syria's border with Iraq and Jordan.

Full report at:



Militants in More Regions End Battle against Syrian Army

Sep 19, 2017

The statement said that representatives of militants in more regions have endorsed reconciliation plan, adding that the number of regions, towns, settlements and villages that have thus far joined the peace agreement with Damascus government stands at 2,235.

Well-informed sources said in late August that tens of gunmen laid down arms in Aleppo province and applied for government amnesty.

The sources said that a 120-member group of militants laid down arms and surrendered to the Syrian army in Aleppo province as part of the national reconciliation process.

The militants were sent to a security committee for studying their amnesty requests, the sources added.

The Russian military police moved to government controlled area as the gunmen surrendered.

Full report at:



35 Militant Groups Declare Readiness to End Fight with Syrian Army in Idlib

Sep 19, 2017

The ministry said that 35 units confirmed their readiness to side with the government troops" following talks with the leaders of the formations.

The agreement on the de-escalation zone in Idlib was reached a couple of days ago. The establishment of the Idlib safe zone has been especially crucial due to the fact that around 9,000 terrorists Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) were attempting to take control over the province, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

Previously, safe zones were established in Southern Syria, Eastern Ghouta, and the Homs province.

ICRC Director of Operations Dominik Stillhart told Sputnik the zones helped lower the level of violence in the war-ravaged country.

A source in one of the delegations said on Friday that Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed on all four safe zones in Syria, including on the Idlib de-escalation area.

"They have worked out a joint statement and all four related documents," the source told Sputnik.

The source said that Russian and Iranian forces would monitor areas controlled by the government side in the Idlib safe zone, while the Turkish forces would be involved in monitoring the opposition there.

So far, three zones of de-escalation have been established in Syria: in the South along the border with Jordan, in Eastern Ghouta and to the North of Homs, while negotiations on the fourth de-escalation zone in the Idlib province were held since summer and were the main issue on the agenda at the Astana-6 talks, which conclude on Friday.

Full report at:



Barzani demands alternative to referendum be presented within three days

20 September 2017

Iraq's Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani said on Tuesday that Erbil's union with Baghdad has come to an end.

The president called for Iraq and the Iraqi Kurdistan region to be kind neighbors instead.

During a ceremony held in the Iraqi district of Soran to support the independence referendum, Barzani said that there no other solution than to go through with the referendum.

The president made this statement after dismissing the possibility of a real alternative.

Barzani demanded that an alternative to the referendum – with insurance that a guarantee is provided in response to its postponement – be presented within three days.

According to the Iraqi constitution, the Kurds have a right to hold the referendum, Barzani said. He also stressed that the region refuses to withdraw to the “green line” Baghdad demands.

Barzani called on those whom he referred to as friends, to not address the region in a threatening manner. “We will not accept threats from anyone,” he added.

The president made it clear that Baghdad’s decisions will no longer concern the region. This is particularly because every decision the Iraqi parliament has taken, was against the region.

Full report at:



Arab quartet meet in New York to discuss new approach to Qatar crisis

19 September 2017

The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates held a meeting in New York to discuss the Qatar crisis and a new mechanism to deal with it.

This new approach was not detailed, however it comes after a Paris-based Qatari sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim Al-Thani released a statement saying that he “hopes the ruling family and dignitaries respond to an invitation for a national meeting”.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said the quartet meeting aims to get Qatar to stop supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region.

“One of our demands is that Qatar stops interfering in other countries’ affairs. We do not interfere in other countries’ affairs in general. This is a solid principle we adhere to,” Shoukry told reporters.

Full report at:



Trump denies warning Saudi Arabia over military action against Qatar

20 September 2017

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday denied warning Saudi Arabia on taking military action against Qatar.

It’s been more than 100 days since the Arab quartet’s boycott against Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting and funding terrorist groups.

Trump predicted that the Gulf conflict with Qatar would come to an end quickly.

“We are right now in a situation where we’re trying to solve a problem in the Middle East and I think we’ll get it solved. I have a very strong feeling that it will be solved pretty quickly,” Trump said during his meeting with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in New York.

Meanwhile, a number people from Arab communities in New York organized a protest rally to condemn Qatar’s support for terrorist organizations. The event took place in light of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.

During the protest, participants held posters with statements accusing Qatar of supporting terrorism, while many others demanded that the international community to put an end to Qatar’s funding of terrorism.

Full report at:



Qatari Emir at the UN calls for ‘unconditional dialogue’

19 September 2017

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim al-Thani gave his first public address at the United Nations General Assembly since several countries broke of diplomatic and economic ties with Doha over the country’s support for terrorism.

At the UN, Al-Thani said his government was prepared for “unconditional dialogue that was based on respect for sovereignty”.

The Emir of Qatar claimed that "the four countries have planned to subject Qatar to a comprehensive custody," as he put it and that his country faced a “mass media campaign that had been prepared in advance”.

Full report at:



Saudi Crown Prince, British Defense Minister sign military agreement

19 September 2017

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Defense Minist Mohammed bin Salman has met in Jeddah with British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon where a military and security deal was signed.

During the meeting, they reviewed the bilateral relations between the two countries, especially the mechanisms of joint coordination in the field of defense, as well as discussing developments in the region and efforts exerted to combat them.

The Saudi crown prince and British defense minister signed a Framework Agreement on Military and Security Cooperation between the Saudi government and the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Full report at:



Syria repels massive attack led by Nusra Front

Sep 19, 2017

Syria’s army and its allies have repelled a large-scale attack spearheaded by the notorious al-Nusra Front terrorist group on the western Syrian city of Hama.

The army and its allies repelled the attack by an alliance of militants led by Nusra on the north of the city on Tuesday, a media outlet run by the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement said.

The northern Hama area is adjacent to the province of Idlib, where there are large concentrations of Takfiri militants.

Al-Nusra recently denounced ongoing peace talks between the Syrian government and armed opposition in the Kazakh capital of Astana. Al-Nusra and other internationally-designated terrorist groups are excluded from the peace process.

The talks have so far led to the establishment of four “de-escalation zones” in the country. An agreement was reached on the specific borders of the fourth zone, which covers Idlib, on Friday, and al-Nusra has said it is not bound by the agreement.

The Syrian government and its allies have been making steady progress against militants in the country. Most recently, they have been making headway in Dayr al-Zawr Province.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, meanwhile, said on Tuesday that the Syrian and allied forces had wrested control of about 75 percent of Dayr al-Zawr’s provincial capital of the same name.

Dayr al-Zawr is an important battleground. Daesh has mobilized its forces and moved heavy weaponry to the province to make it its main staging area in the face of increasing defeats elsewhere in the country. The liberation of a stretch of land in Dayr-al-Zawr that borders Iraq would be particularly important because it would stop the Takfiri terrorists’ cross-border transit to and from Iraq.

Syria’s ultimate control of the oil-rich province would also help revive its economy.

Full report at:





Africa: What Makes Young African Muslims Join Jihadi Groups?


By Antonio Cascais

Many young Africans hope that extremist groups will help them escape poverty, hopelessness and frustration. A new United Nations report warns that the problem is getting worse.

For years, Khadijah Hawaja Gambo has been struggling with an uncomfortable question: What exactly drives young African Muslims to Islamism and eventually into the clutches of jihadi organizations like Boko Haram? "Many young Nigerians are so frustrated that they are desperately looking for an escape," said the Nigerian human rights activist in an interview with DW. "Yet most don't find that escape and just become more angry, frustrated and aggressive toward society." From there, she explained, it is just a small step towards radicalization.

Gambo is a Muslim herself, and comes from the central Nigerian city of Jos, which last year became the site of bloody attacks carried out by the Islamist terror organization Boko Haram. Since 2011, she has been forced to look on as more than 17,000 Nigerians became victims of jihadi terror. Some 2.8 million people, especially in northern Nigeria, have been forced to flee their homes as a result. Gambo is appalled by the many suicide attacks often carried out by underage youths in the name of the radical interpretation of Islam that Boko Haram preaches.

UN study: Not motivated by religion

Nigeria is just one of many African countries having to deal with radical Islamic terrorist groups: Besides Boko Haram, which operates in northeastern Nigeria as well as adjacent territories, the militant group al-Shabab has been fighting for years to gain control of Somalia. A branch of al Qaeda, among others, is active in Mali. According to the United Nations, between 2011 and 2016 some 33,000 people in Africa were the victims of extremist violence. A UN report also found that young Muslims in Africa were less likely to be radicalized by religious motivation than by poverty and lack of opportunity. For its study "Journey to Extremism in Africa," the UN Development Program (UNDP) spent two years interviewing some 500 former members of radical groups across the continent.

Khadijah Hawaja Gambo read the 128-page study and agrees with the authors' findings. She believes those who truly understand Islam know that the radical interpretations of groups such as Boko Haram are deeply un-Islamic. "The less a person knows about Islam, the more susceptible they are to the ideology of terrorist organizations," Gambo said. "People who don't know about Islam believe in anything that such groups sell them as Islam." The UNDP's study seems to back Gambo's theory: It found that 57 percent of those questioned knew little or nothing about Islamic religious texts. According to the study's findings, six years or more of religious education reduced the likelihood of radicalization by some 32 percent.

Youth susceptible to extremist rhetoric

The most typical recruit for such organizations is not a religious fanatic seeking the foundations of his beliefs but rather a "frustrated person that has been marginalized and feels left behind," summarize the report's authors. They also found that extremist rhetoric fell upon fertile ground when it came to young people lacking opportunity in Africa's poorest and most remote regions. One example thereof is al-Shabab, which has been recruiting fighters for Somalia's civil war since 2006, not only in its home country but also in neighboring states. The group's stated goal is to establish an Islamic theocracy on the Horn of Africa and to take part in a global "holy war."

"Young people are promised work and money, they think they will be better off if they join these groups, and that they will be able to support their families," said Salma Himid of the Mombasa-based human rights organization HAKI Africa. She, too, sees economic rather than religious or ideological motivation as the main thing driving young people to join jihadi groups. She supports the opinion of the UNDP's Africa director, Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, who described the study's findings as a wake-up call for African governments.

Himid, who has studied the topic of youth movements and Islamism for years, says that "paths to economic advancement for young Africans" are necessary if extremists are to be denied future recruits. She gives the following advice to young Africans: "Don't fall for the traps set by these Pied Pipers! It is the wrong path!" Himid is also calling for the creation of information centers across Africa in order to allow young people to get out of Islamist organizations or, better still, keep them from joining in the first place.

Radical Islamism: 'A very sensitive topic'

Although Khadijah Hawaja Gambo largely agrees with the UN study's findings, she says that poverty is just one aspect of a very complex problem. "There are people in Boko Haram because they get cash for it. But there are also people that are there because they think that it is pleasing to Allah. We have to deal with these people." It is a very sensitive topic she said, cautioning you have to be careful when dealing with it.



Exploring religion as a source of resistance and creation

September 19, 2017

Samah Ahmed

Richard Brent Turner, who served as lecturer during the sixth annual Sylvia R. Frey Lecture series Monday, described a desperate melodic prayer that laid roots for the foundations of the blues and a slave who translated the Lord’s Prayer into Arabic to achieve his freedom. His compelling stories highlighted the influence of West African Muslim slaves in New Orleans.

“Islam is an important conduit through which to understand the dynamic interactions between empires, cultures and racial identities in the Gulf South in the 18th and 19th centuries,” said Turner, a professor at the University of Iowa whose research centers around African-American religious history, music and identity.

Muslim slaves could typically be identified according to their names — names with Arabic origins such as Fatima, Bilaal or Rahman — which served to anchor slaves in their native identities. Turner described slaves’ retention and continuation of these traditional Islamic names as a form of linguistic resistance against typically Christian slave owners.

“Some enslaved Muslims mention the superiority of their religion to Christianity and demonstrate their literacy in Arabic as a form of intellectual resistance to enslavement,” said Turner.

This legacy of naming can be traced forward to today, as Turner pointed out the possibility that African-Americans with the last name Bailey may have ancestors whose original name was Bilaal.

The musical connection between West African traditions of Islamic prayer and the later emergence of the blues style in New Orleans was also discussed.

“Muslims enslaved in coastal West Africa began the custom of singing and praying in Arabic for their freedom,” said Turner. “The spiritual aspects of the religion influenced African-American arts and performance, especially by West Africans in Congo Square.”

Turner described the wistful, melodic sound of the slaves’ Arabic prayers as a herald of the later blues music to come.

Full report at:

The presentation was sponsored by the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South.



Police fire tear gas to disperse election protesters in Kenya

Sep 19, 2017

Police in Kenya have used tear gas to disperse protesters angry at a Supreme Court ruling which invalidated President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election in August 8 votes.

A commotion erupted after police fired teargas at a gathering of protesters outside the court building in Nairobi on Tuesday.

Further rounds of teargas was used to disperse the protesters who tried to regroup and continue with their demonstration against the September 1 ruling which nullified the results of the presidential election over irregularities in tallying poll results and ordered a repeat of the vote within two months.

“I have attended this protest to air my grievances after the Supreme Court annulled my candidate’s victory,” said one protester wearing the bright red of Kenyatta’s Jubilee party.

The scuffle comes as senior judiciary officials keep lamenting about the surge in threats against their staff after the majority judgment.

David Maraga, who serves as the chief justice and president of the Supreme Court, said the Tuesday demonstration was a sign of rising threats against the judiciary.

“Since the Supreme Court delivered judgment ... these threats have become more aggressive,” Maraga said in a briefing with reporters outside the court, adding that individual judges and their staff have become subject to numerous threats on the social media.

The official said the threats would not affect the way Kenya’s judiciary is handling the election case, saying he and other colleagues were ready to pay the “ultimate price” to protect the constitution and rule of law.

“Senior political leaders have also threatened the judiciary, promising ‘to cut it down to size’ and ‘teach us a lesson’,” Maraga said, accusing the inspector general of police of “repeatedly ignoring calls to act, exposing judicial officers, property and litigants to danger”.

Police have denied they had turned a blind eye on threats against the judges and other staff, saying judges had been provided with bodyguards and protection for their homes and the courts.

“The truth is borne out of facts and they are plain for any citizen to check and confirm,” George Kinoti, the national police spokesman, said in a statement.

Kenyatta’s rival in the election, the opposition leader Raila Odinga, has said that he would boycott a repeat vote scheduled for October 17 unless the government responds to his demands, including the sacking of some staff at the electoral commission.

Full report at:



Sudan’s Bashir announces Darfur disarmament drive

20 September 2017

President Omar al-Bashir on Tuesday announced the launch of a new disarmament campaign in the country’s western Darfur region.

Addressing a rally in the city of Geneina, regional capital of West Darfur state, Bashir said that only regular military forces deployed in the region -- not civilians -- would be allowed access to weapons.

“By the end of this year, no civilians will be permitted to carry arms throughout the entire Darfur region,” he said.

He added: “Enough is enough. We will implement the rule of law in the region and weapons will only be carried by regular forces.”

Last July, the government unveiled a campaign aimed at combating arms proliferation in Darfur.

It further announced plans to “reorganize” the militia groups that once fought alongside the government in the troubled region.

In April last year, Khartoum established the Higher Committee on Disarmament tasked with overseeing the collection of illegal arms in Darfur.

Bashir also stressed his government’s commitment to security agreements signed earlier with neighboring Chad, pointing out that the two countries were working closely together to stop the movement of criminals and rebel groups across their shared border.

Since 2011, Khartoum and N’Djamena have been deploying joint forces tasked with monitoring traffic across the Sudan-Chad border.

Bashir also expressed his desire to provide landlocked Chad with improved commercial access to destinations abroad through Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

Sudan recently announced plans to give Chad access to Sudanese seaports for import/export activities.

Full report at:



South Sudan clashes leave 16 dead

19 September 2017

At least 16 people were killed and dozens of others were injured in clashes between soldiers and fighters loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar Monday, according to a state official Tuesday.

The renewed fighting between Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and opposition forces took place in Nhial Dieu County in Northern Liech near the Sudanese border, Lam Tungwar, information minister in Northern Liech in former Unity State, told Anadolu Agency via phone from capital Juba.

“The government position came under heavy attack from Riek Machar forces; this act is not acceptable especially during this time of national dialogue,” Tungwar said.

He confirmed the death and injury tolls, adding: “Some of the victims who suffer casualties in the heavy fighting are women and children.”

South Sudan has been mired in conflict between the government of President Salva Kiir and rebels led by Machar since December 2013.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands, displaced almost 4 million people from their homes, including over a million refugees who have fled to neighboring countries; Uganda alone hosts one million refugees.

Full report at:




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