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Islamic World News ( 13 Jun 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Thane Police Commissionerate's Website Hacked; Hacker Demands Apology to "Muslims All Over the World"

New Age Islam News Bureau

14 June 2022

 

The Thane Police website homepage showed this message from the hackers. (Image Credit: Screenshot/thanepolice.gov.in)

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• Prophet Row: International Hackers, Hacktivist Group, Launch Series of Cyber Attacks on India

• Pakistan: An Army-Imposed Deal with the Pakistani Taliban Could Spell Disaster

• China Boosting Nuclear Arsenal, Pakistan Leads India in Warheads: Stockholm International Peace Institute

• Waning PKK/YPG Terror Group Forces Children to Fight In Its Ranks In Syria, Iraq

 India

• Communal Harmony in Howrah: Hindus Help in Marriage of Muslim Widow’s Daughter Amid Unrest

• Prophet remark row: Mangaluru city Police Commissioner Holds talks with Muslim leaders

• Indian Muslim Groups Urge Followers to Shun Protests Over Anti-Islam Comments

• Muslim Body Files Pleas in Supreme Court against UP Demolitions

• Leaders of prominent Islamic groups, mosques call for peace

• More protests in India after authorities raze homes of Muslim activists

• No Illegal Bangladeshi Muslims in Assam, Claims Legislator

• Two Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists killed in encounter in J&K

• Treating accused as convicts is unlawful: AIMPLB

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Southeast Asia

• Philippines’ Autonomous Muslim Region Builds Deradicalisation Centre For Former Militants

• Malaysia’s Islamists take on the Sultan of Selangor

• Najib didn’t complain about accounts, AmBank officer tells court

• Zahid calls for new political ‘tsunami’ to reclaim Sepang

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Pakistan

• Pakistan: An Army-Imposed Deal with the Pakistani Taliban Could Spell Disaster

• Parliament Capable Institute to Lead Talks With Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan: PPP Senator

• Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Declares Unilateral Ceasefire

• IMF: Extra measures needed for Pak budget to meet goals

• 'Missing' Baloch Students Doda Ellahi and Ghamshad Return Home: Activist

• Allies to seek Pakistan’s removal from grey list

• How Pakistani Judiciary Dealt With Demand to 'Return' Lahore Gurudwara to Muslims for Worship

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South Asia

• Taliban kill ISKP commanders responsible for mosque attacks

• Investors Claim Ex-Gov’t Owes 60B Afghanis, Urging Taliban for Solution

• Man Kills Nine Members of His Family in Nimruz Province

• A Journalist in Kapisa Province Goes Missing; RSF Asks the Taliban to Provide “Explanations”

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Arab World

• Saudi Arabia’s normalization with Israel poses direct threat to Lebanon: Senior Hezbollah official

• Israel drawing on normalization deals to attack Syria, carry out assassinations in Iran: Top Hamas official

• Shia Coalition Says To Pursue Government Formation Talks in Iraq

• Kuwait to Deport Expats Who Took Part in Fahaheel Demonstration

• Saudi Arabia adopts online registration for Haj to combat scams

• Caribbean Passports Most Invested In By UAE Residents Seeking Dual Citizenship

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Mideast

• Secular Turks Fear Immigrant-Fuelled Islamist Wave

• Iran Says Scale-Backs On Nuclear Commitments ‘Reversible’

• Possible successor to Abbas warns Israel, but works with it

• Israel urges its citizens in Istanbul to leave, heightening travel warning

• Iran defence ministry says ‘employee’ killed amid series of mysterious deaths

• UN commission on Palestine seeks new ways to get Israel to comply with int'l law

• PM Shtayyeh calls for international front to end Israeli occupation of Palestinian land

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Africa

• Tunisia's Ennahdha Warns Against Dropping Islam from Constitution

• Somali military kills at least 12 al-Shabaab terrorists

• Moroccan sentenced to death in Donetsk has Ukrainian nationality, not a mercenary: Father

• 2023: Why Nigeria cannot contemplate Muslim-Muslim ticket – Former ACF scribe, Sani

• Is Mali emerging as another front for Russia, West?

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North America

• Most American Muslims Believe Gun Laws Need To Be Stricter, Says Survey

• Biden invites Pakistan envoy Masood Khan for ‘official photo’

• US Air Force: Crew not at fault for Afghan deaths in evacuation

• Police Arrests Three Afghan Refugees for Killing another Afghan in the US State of Virginia

• UN official to discuss and resolve Afghan refugee crisis with Taliban

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Europe

• Muslim World League Chief Leads Religious Diplomacy Push At Geneva Summit

• Sweden Has Taken ‘Important Steps’ To Meet Turkey’s Demands: NATO’s Stoltenberg

• France begins military withdrawal from Mali

• Italy-Türkiye relations 'standing on very sound path': Envoy

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/website-hacked-hacker-apology/d/127245

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Thane Police Commissionerate's Website Hacked; Hacker Demands Apology to "Muslims All Over the World"

 

The Thane Police website homepage showed this message from the hackers. (Image Credit: Screenshot/thanepolice.gov.in)

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JUNE 14, 2022

On opening the website, the message on the screen stated: “Hacked by one hat cyber team”

The Thane city police commissionerate's website was allegedly hacked on Tuesday, with a message appearing on it apparently directed towards the Indian government and demanding an apology to "Muslims all over the world". A senior police official here confirmed that the website has been hacked.

"We have contacted the agencies concerned for necessary action. Thane cyber crime team is working on it," he said.

On opening the website, the message on the screen stated: “Hacked by one hat cyber team”

It further said, "Hello Indian Government, Hello everyone. Again and again you make trouble with the problem of the Islamic Religion..."

"Hurry up and apologize to Muslims all over the world!! We don't stand still when our apostle is insulted," the message said.

Source: The Hindu

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/thane-police-website-hacked-hacker-demands-apology-to-muslims/article65525637.ece

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Prophet Row: International Hackers, Hacktivist Group, Launch Series of Cyber Attacks on India

 

The hacking group has launched a campaign – OpsPatuk – which translates to “strike back”, against the Indian government. (Image for Representation/ Reuters)

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Shashank Shekhar

New Delhi

June 13, 2022

Following recent remarks by suspended BJP spokesperson, Nupur Sharma, about Prophet Muhammad, the Malaysia-based hacktivist group DragonForce has launched a series of cyber-attacks against the Indian government. Sharma made some remarks about Prophet Muhammad during a panel discussion about the Gyanvapi Mosque survey, hosted by a television news channel, which offended many people around the world. Soon after, she apologised on Twitter.

The hacking group has launched a campaign OpsPatuk which translates to “strike back”, against the Indian government. It is also seeking help from "Muslim Hackers from All over the World, Human Rights Organizations, and Activists (sic)".

Religiously and politically motivated campaigns, such as OpsPatuk, can result in a breach of some sensitive government websites containing Personal Identifiable Information (PII), military operations, and other government secrets, which, in the wrong hands, can enable targeted attacks on the country and its citizens.

Cyber experts predict that the intensity and volume of such attacks on Indian entities are only going to increase, and the government and enterprises should ensure adequate safety measures to secure their digital properties.

Series of Cyber Attacks

In its research on June 10, Bengaluru-based cyber security firm, CloudSEK, discovered a tweet posted by a Malaysian hacktivist group known as DragonForce, calling for attacks on Indian government websites by Muslim hackers all over the world.

According to CloudSEK researchers, the primary goal of the attack was to retaliate against the Indian government for the controversial comments made about Prophet Muhammad by Nupur Sharma. To enable their allies to launch attacks, the group shared Indian users' social media credentials, particularly Facebook access and leading bank username and password combinations.

During the detailed investigation, CloudSEK discovered multiple threat actors participating in this operation and hacking various Indian websites.

Scale of Attack

The group has also shared evidence that they have hacked Indian government websites, such as indembassyisrael.gov.in, manage.gov.in, extensionmoocs.gov.in, cia.gov.in and cfa.gov.in, and others.

The organisation has published a list of websites that supporters and allies are encouraged to attack. This includes private Indian websites as well as many Indian government websites, such as those of logistics and supply-chain companies, educational institutions, technology and software companies, and web hosting providers.

What Is DragonForce?

This cyber call-to-arms is the work of DragonForce Malaysia, a pro-Palestinian hacktivist group based in the country. This organisation owns and operates a forum where it posts announcements and discusses its most recent actions. The group also has Instagram and Facebook profiles, as well as numerous Telegram channels. The gang has been running frequent recruitment and promotion efforts using Tiktok and Instagram reels. Over 2.4 million people have viewed the posts calling for action against the Indian government.

DragonForce has previously been associated with Malaysian or Pakistani groups such as Revolution Pakistan, RileksCrew, T3DimensionMalaysia, UnitedMuslimCyberArmy, CodeNewbie, PhantomCrews, LocalhostMalaysia, HarimauMalayaCyberArmy, and GroupTempurRakyatMalaysia. This operation has a high chance of gaining more support and attention from hacktivists around the world.

The Solution?

According to Darshit Ashara, Principal Threat Researcher, CloudSEK, the Indian government and private organisations must take this campaign seriously, and nip these threat actors’ advances in the bud.

“As we have seen during the Russia-Ukraine conflict, hacktivists are persistent and resourceful. So, it’s imperative for the Indian government and private organisations to take this campaign seriously. We need to start by nullifying the low-hanging fruit that threat actors typically use as initial vectors to initiate attacks. This includes malware logs, misconfigured applications, default passwords, unpatched or outdated servers and other assets, and previously leaked databases being sold on the dark web,” says Darshit Ashara, commenting on the campaign. Live TV

Source: India Today

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/prophet-row-international-hackers-cyber-attacks-india-nupur-sharma-remark-1961941-2022-06-13

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Pakistan: An Army-Imposed Deal with the Pakistani Taliban Could Spell Disaster

 

Members of the Pakistani Taliban in the South Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan, May 24, 2008. Photo: Reuters/Stringer

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Mohammad Taqi

JUNE 14, 2022

While the Pakistani public at large remains consumed with the sky-rocketing inflation and the civilian government grapples with a floundering economy and strict IMF conditions, the country’s powerful army is pushing for a negotiated settlement with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (aka TTP or Pakistani Taliban).

The negotiations between the TTP leadership based in Afghanistan and the Pakistani army officials that have been going on at least since last fall, gained new momentum over the past several weeks. A group of individuals from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province including the districts consisting of the former Federally Administrated Tribal areas (FATA) that were merged with that federating unit, recently visited Kabul, and held talks with the TTP leadership including its current chief Noor Wali Mehsud, and other top commanders Maulvi Faqir Muhammad and Umar Khalid Khorasani.

The TTP’s fraternal twins, the Afghan Taliban not only acted as the go-between but their acting Prime Minister Hasan Akhund, Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani and intelligence chief Muhammad Wasiq attended the parleys, ostensibly as facilitators.

Both sides claimed progress after the talks, and the TTP has apparently extended the ceasefire indefinitely.

The 50-member Pakistani delegation was dubbed as a jirga i.e., traditional tribal assembly of elders but it was authorised neither by the Pashtun tribes nor the government of Pakistan. The members were handpicked by the controversial former Director General of Inter-services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate Lt. General Faiz Hameed Chaudhry, who is currently commanding the army’s XI Corps headquartered at Peshawar. He even arranged for the entourage to travel to Kabul in a military C-130 aircraft.

Prior to that, General Faiz, as he is commonly known, had himself flown to Kabul and held direct talks with the TTP leaders.

Some of the delegation members have confirmed on record that the constitution and launch of their so-called jirga was wholly-owned project of the Pakistan army. They have confirmed that they participated in their individual capacity and were “authorised” by General Faiz, who met with them prior to their departure, to work out a peace deal with the TTP since they “all come from the same region and ethno-cultural background”.

As the reckless venture started drawing criticism, mostly from the Pashtun nationalist political leaders, the Federal Minister for Information belatedly claimed that it was commissioned by the civilian administration under the constitution. It is ironic that the civilians were forced to take flak for the army, and that too on such flimsy grounds.

Firstly, the de facto relations notwithstanding, Pakistan still does not officially recognise the Afghan Taliban regime in Kabul that hosted the talks.

Secondly, for a sitting Corps commander to run talks with a proscribed terrorist group on foreign territory is unheard of even in the dirty games that Pakistan army has played in Afghanistan. It is certainly beyond a corps commander’s professional remit and holds no constitutional or even administrative water. There were instances during General Pervez Musharraf’s army regime, where the Corps Commander Peshawar negotiated with the TTP inside Pakistan, but this would be the first instance where one has conducted such talks inside Afghanistan.

Thirdly, the elected parliamentarians from the North and South Waziristan, the ex-FATA districts that bore the brunt of both the TTP atrocities and the army operations, were completely kept out of the loop and the delegation. It finally forced the country’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who in all likelihood was kept in the dark as well, to publicly state that all decisions on dealing with the terrorists must be taken by the parliament. The FM, who is also the chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), went on serve a show-cause notice to a federal minister from his party who was part of the mission, showing that the information minister was outright lying to give legitimacy to a patently illegal enterprise post ipso facto.

It is dumbfounding that a country that has lost over 70,000 citizens, including the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, to the TTP’s relentless terror, would be kept in dark by the army over negotiations with that group.

The Pakistani Taliban’s almost two-decade long terrorism reached every corner of the country but predominantly ravaged the Pashtun-inhabited areas. A vast majority of the terror casualties were ethnic Pashtuns and religious minorities.

The Pashtuns of the ex-FATA and the KP’s Malakand division faced a triple whammy when they were first tormented by the Taliban, then displaced internally when the military eventually launched operations against the terrorists and in the process destroyed the civilian homes and businesses as well.

The TTP, however, has attacked not just the civilians but also the army’s General Headquarters, air force and naval bases, country’s largest ordnance factory and aeronautical complex,  airports, and massacred nearly 150 students and teachers at an army-run boys’ school. It was in the aftermath of that school attack that the country’s political and military leadership finally came together and formulated what was called the National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism.

A core pledge of the NAP was that no armed organisation would be allowed to operate in the country. The army is clearly reneging on that commitment and appears to be using the civilian government and coopted Pashtun leaders to sanctify a dirty deal that it seems to have already cut with the Taliban.

While the TTP declaring ceasefire is being trumpeted as major success by the army’s surrogates in the media, what the army is conceding is being kept under wraps. These army-approved spokespersons are touting that just like the US agreement with the Afghan Taliban, the deal with the TTP will end an endless war. Never mind that the US-Taliban agreement in Doha paved the way for complete elimination of the Afghan Republic and its state structures. The TTP’s demands, are similarly ominous and could lead to the weakening, if not elimination, of the state structures in the areas that it is allowed to return to. It is demanding imposition of sharia laws in the Malakand division and ex-FATA districts, a reversal of the FATA merger with the KP province, the right to retain arms, release of its prisoners and reparations for losses of life and property its cadres have incurred over the years.

The army has already released a couple of top TTP commanders on death row, including its infamous former spokesman Muslim Khan who used to call the media and take responsibility for every atrocity their vile band committed. They were handed over to the Haqqani faction of the Afghan Taliban at the Afghanistan’s embassy in Islamabad and later moved to an undisclosed location in that country.

Why is the Pakistan army so keen to cut a deal with the TTP that it is willing to release scores of what it had once called “jet black terrorists”, who are sure to return to the battlefield without a pause? The simple answer is that it can’t fight them, at least not now. With economy in shambles thanks to the army’s hybrid regime project and the prevailing political instability courtesy its now-ousted central character Imran Khan, Pakistanis state is weak and vulnerable. Pakistan army also lacks the largesse and the advanced technical intelligence that the US had provided it during several previous operations against the TTP.

The TTP, on the other hand, has regrouped and reorganised, and is ideologically rejuvenated thanks to the Afghan Taliban’s victory over the US and Kabul government. The TTP under Noor Wali Mehsud reabsorbed several splinter groups and defectors, and with swollen ranks and operational freedom it enjoyed in Afghanistan, the group ramped up its attacks inside Pakistan. Unlike the past large-scale indiscriminate terror attacks against the general population, the TTP has been mainly targeting the security forces including army and certain civilians, mostly in the ex-FATA districts.

For years, Pakistan army had portrayed the TTP as a puppet of the US-backed Afghan governments and the Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). But the fact of the matter is that the TTP has been joined at the hip, ideologically and logistically, with the Afghan Taliban, and especially its Haqqani faction. While several top leaders and every single one of the TTP chiefs killed so far had been taken out by the US drones, after coming to power, the Afghan Taliban released hundreds of TTP prisoners who had been arrested by the fallen Kabul government, including TTP senior leaders like founding deputy emir Maulvi Faqir Muhammad.

The current TTP emir renewed allegiance to the Afghan Taliban after they took over Kabul.

Pakistan army had disingenuously peddled the myth that the Afghan Taliban would not only contain the TTP but deliver it to Pakistan. But when rubber met the road, the Afghan Taliban refused to act against their brothers-in-arms, for assorted reasons, of which an ideological affinity is the foremost. Also, the Taliban regime has other battles to fight, including against the Islamic State in Khorasan (ISIK).

But even if the Taliban emirate wanted to crackdown on the TTP it risks not just a fight back from the group but also resistance from within its own ranks and a potential ideological challenge from the ISIK for betraying the jihadist cause. The Pakistan army became increasingly impatient with the TTP operating from the Afghan soil and had also launched a few attacks inside Afghanistan, leading to a muffled protest from the emirate which came under internal pressure for being seen as stooges of Pakistan army unable to stand up to it. The emirate, however, also relies heavily on Pakistan army, which effectively is its sole international patron, and, therefore, could not be alienated outright.

The talks essentially buy the Afghan Taliban, the TTP and the Pakistan army some time. But for how long and at what cost?

In dealing with the TTP, past is the prologue. The Pakistan army has itself negotiated and signed – or forced the civilian governments to do so – over a dozen agreements with the TTP. Each one of those deals was in tatters within months, if not days, with the TTP reneging on its promises, the state conceding more space to the terrorists, and the general population ultimately bearing the brunt of it all. In most of those cases, the army allowed the Taliban who had ostensibly surrendered, to organise as the so-called peace committees and keep their weapons. In case of Malakand, the civilian government was even pushed to concede to Taliban an enforcement of sharia regulations.

The TTP used the agreements to increase its stature, consolidate its hold, fill the power vacuum created by abdication of the state and weakening of the old tribal hierarchy, and eventually unleashed another wave of terror. The Taliban even massacred many tribal elders who had helped negotiate some of those deals, not unlike the bunch that signed up as General Faiz’s emissaries. There is nothing that says that the present round of talks and Taliban appeasement would end any differently.

The Pakistan army’s media surrogates point out that the TTP’s raison d’etre was the American presence in the region and irritants such as drone attacks, and with those gone, peace must be given a chance. The TTP, however, has been very clear and consistent about why it is waging a bloody terror campaign against Pakistan. A former TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud was once asked by the BBC whether the US withdrawal from the region would have any impact on their movement. Mehsud had responded:

“There will be no impact of the American withdrawal on the TTP, because friendship with America is only one of the two reasons we have to conduct jihad against Pakistan. The other reason is that Pakistan’s system is un-Islamic, and we want that it should be replaced with the Islamic system. This demand and this desire will continue even after the American withdrawal.”

Nothing has changed in the TTP thinking since. After the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the incumbent TTP chief Noor Wali Mehsud had bluntly told the CNN that their war is against the Pakistani state and they seek imposition of sharia and independence of the border regions (ex-FATA).

While the TTP’s motives and tactics are rather clear, the Pakistan army calculus is rather murky. That not a single Pashtun nationalist leader was included in the delegation(s) sent to Kabul raises serious concerns not just about the army’s tactics but its motives. Ali Wazir, the outspoken member of the National Assembly from South Waziristan is in prison for almost two years at the behest of none other than the Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa, who wants to make an example out of him for making a speech against the army’s excesses in his region.

But the parliamentarian from North Waziristan, Mohsin Dawar – a cool-headed lawyer – was also barred from the group. It is mind-boggling that the army meticulously excluded law-abiding constitutionalists from an ostensible peace process that is bound to impact their region but has sworn terrorists. Fair is foul, foul is fair! But a handpicked member of the delegation and former parliamentarian from the PPP, Akhundzada Chattan hinted at the foul play. He said in an interview upon his return that it seemed as if someone else was using the TTP’s shoulder to fire at the merger of ex-FATA with the KP province.

Other Pashtun politicians like the former Senator Afrasiab Khattak have charged that through its cloak-and-dagger games the army seeks to turn the Pashtun regions to the east of Durand Line into a Taliban sanctuary yet again. Pakistan army has used Islamism for decades to counter Pashtun nationalism and Afghan irredentism. The army’s perception of the threat from the Pashtun nationalists like Wazir and Dawar is delusional and warped. Could it get more perverse than caging the constitutionalists and letting the terrorists loose?

But in its quest for the so-called strategic depth in Afghanistan, Pakistan army has kept providing reverse strategic depth to its jihadist proxies. An ideological milieu and jihadist infrastructure were created in Pakistan to groom and launch these jihadists, which the army always thought it could control and harness. But many of them did boomerang back on to the army itself. The TTP rehabilitation in the ex-FATA could buttress the Afghan Taliban – and the Haqqani faction in particular – against some of the military challenges coming their way. Whatever the veracity of these claims by the Pashtun nationalists, it is abundantly clear that by default the net result of the army’s manoeuvrings would be yet another round of turmoil and terror in the Pashtun regions of Pakistan.

The Taliban surrendering their weapons and accepting the constitution could theoretically be the ultimate result if – a huge if at that – the negotiations are successful. The Taliban agreeing to a set of conditions, accepting the state’s writ, disarming, and decommissioning is a pipedream. What does the TTP stand to gain by conceding is better known to the army. The TTP would certainly find another pretext to continue its violent campaign.

The TTP’s negotiations ruse has always ended in more bloodshed and there is little reason to believe it would be different this time. A public and parliamentary debate and oversight of these opaque negotiations are definitely in order. Unfortunately, the incumbent coalition government remains beholden to the army for engineering Imran Khan’s ouster and continues to abdicate internal and foreign affairs to the junta. The army-imposed deal with the TTP spells an unmitigated disaster, especially for the Pashtuns.

Mohammad Taqi is a Pakistani-American columnist. He tweets @mazdaki.

Source: The Wire

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://thewire.in/south-asia/pakistan-an-army-imposed-deal-with-the-pakistani-taliban-could-spell-disaster

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China Boosting Nuclear Arsenal, Pakistan Leads India in Warheads: Stockholm International Peace Institute

 

Image credit: PTI

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Jun 14, 2022

NEW DELHI: China is undertaking a “substantial expansion” of its nuclear weapons arsenal, which satellite images show includes the construction of more than 300 new missile silos, even as Pakistan also continues to be slightly ahead of India in the number of nuclear warheads.

China has an estimated 350 nuclear warheads, with new mobile missile launchers and another submarine becoming operational over the last one year, while Pakistan has 165 and India 160, as per the latest assessment of the Stockholm International Peace Institute (SIPRI) released on Monday.

The SIPRI report comes a day after Chinese defence Minister Wei Fenghe at the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore declared his country has made “impressive progress” in developing and deploying new nuclear weapons, including the Dong Feng-41 (DF-41) inter-continental ballistic missile with a strike range of over 12,000 km. But, he added, China will only use nuclear weapons in “self-defence” and never use them first.

The Pentagon’s report on China’s military capabilities had also earlier said Beijing’s “accelerating pace” of nuclear expansion will enable it to have up to 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027, with the stockpile touching 1,000 by 2030.

The US and Russia are of course in a different league, together accounting for 90% of all nuclear weapons around the globe. SIPRI said the nine nuclear-armed countries together possess an estimated 12,705 nuclear warheads, with the numbers being Russia (5,977), US (5,428), France (290), UK (225), Israel (90) and North Korea (20).

“All of the nuclear-armed states are increasing or upgrading their arsenals and most are sharpening nuclear rhetoric and the role nuclear weapons play in their military strategies... This is a very worrying trend,” said Wilfred Wan of SIPRI.

The warhead figures are estimates because most countries, including India, keep their nuclear weapons programmes shrouded in secrecy. Moreover, deterrence cannot be reduced to simplistic bean counting of the number of warheads.

India is steadily moving ahead to modernise its nuclear arsenal with better delivery systems, in tune with its declared policy of “credible minimum deterrence” and “no first-use”, officials say.

The induction of the 36 new Rafale fighter jets, for instance, has strengthened the “air vector” for delivery of nuclear gravity bombs after some Sukhoi-30MKIs, Mirage-2000s and Jaguars were earlier modified for that role.

The ongoing induction of the over 5,000-km range Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile, which brings the whole of Asia and China as well parts of Europe and Africa within its strike envelope, in turn, has boosted the “land vector”.

The Strategic Forces Command (SFC) already has Prithvi-II (350-km), Agni-I (700-km), Agni-II (2,000-km), Agni-III (3,000-km) and Agni-IV (4,000-km) missile units. The newer Agni missiles, like Agni-V and Agni-Prime (1,000-2,000 km), are also canister-launched to give the armed forces the requisite operational flexibility to store it for long periods, swiftly transport it through rail or road when required, and fire it from anywhere they want.

The third leg of the “nuclear triad”, however, is still fledgling. India currently has only one nuclear-powered and armed submarine (SSBN) INS Arihant, with 750-km range K-15 nuclear missiles. Countries like the US, Russia and China have SSBNs with well over 5,000-km range missiles.

India has three more SSBNs under development, with INS Arighat slated for commissioning this year after some delay. The developmental trials of K-4 missiles, with a strike range of 3,500-km, in turn, have been completed but the induction is still some distance away, as was earlier reported by TOI.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/china-boosting-nuclear-arsenal-pakistan-leads-india-in-warheads-sipri/articleshow/92190539.cms

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Waning PKK/YPG Terror Group Forces Children to Fight In Its Ranks in Syria, Iraq

 

Photo Credit: aa.com

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13.06.2022

ERBIL, Iraq

In decline after Türkiye's successful operations against it, the PKK terrorist organization continues to forcibly recruit children that it kidnaps in Syria and Iraq.

The terror group has sustained heavy blows as public support has been cut off in Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Türkiye, especially after the Claw operations that Ankara launched in recent years.

Its weakened state is also apparent from its so-called media outlets, which have made calls for public demonstrations and protests that have fallen on deaf ears.

While supporters of the terror organization are barred from demonstrating in the Iraqi city of Erbil, its protests in the city of Sulaymaniyah have also had few participants.

The PKK is trying to preserve its flagging power by deceiving and forcibly recruiting children, whose families are now increasingly raising their voices in protest against the terrorists.

A sit-in protest staged by the families of young people abducted or forcibly recruited by the PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the YPG, has now passed its 1,000th day outside the office of the pro-PKK Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), showing the world how the organization abuses children.

The PKK/YPG continues its use of children as fighters despite an agreement with the UN to release them.

Children kidnapped by PKK/YPG in Syria, Iraq

Mohammed Alo, a Syrian Kurdish activist, told Iraqi journalists that the PKK-affiliated "Revolutionary Youth" organization kidnapped a girl named Culya Tarik Dedo in front of a school in the Syrian city of Aleppo.

According to a report from Gulanmedia, an outlet affiliated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Iranian mother Meryem Hidir said her 13-year-old daughter Esrin Muhammed was kidnapped by the PJAK, the Iranian branch of the PKK, and that her daughter was killed while trying to escape the organization.

In another case, the PKK kidnapped two people in Duhok in July 2019, according to Iraqi media, with their fate still uncertain.

According to a report by the northern Iraqi Rudaw television network on May 21, Meryem Ferid Muhammed was kidnapped by the terrorist group in the town of Ayn al-Arab in northern Syria on Oct. 31, 2021. Her father, Ferid Muhammed, requested her rescue on live TV.

Sakir Muhammed Hibo, a 14-year-old boy from the city of Qamishli, and Fehed Abdulrahman, a 15-year-old from the Ayn al-Arab's industrial zone, were also reportedly kidnapped by the terrorists. Their families spoke to local media, asking for their children to be rescued.

Iraqi media also reported the abduction of two young brothers in Aleppo, forcing them to join the PKK/YPG's armed ranks.

According to local sources, Ibrahim, just 9 years old, and Muhammed Sevki Yusuf, 10 -- both born in the nearby town of Afrin -- were kidnapped last Sunday by PKK/YPG terrorists in the city center of Aleppo, some 42 kilometers (26 miles) from their home town, on June 5.

Anadolu Agency reported that on June 10, images on social media close to the PKK/YPG showed the terrorist organization had recruited 11 more children of Kurdish and Arab origin.

The image shows the children were carrying a poster of Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed ringleader of the PKK, and the terror group's so-called banner.

Abdulaziz Temmo, the head of Syria's Independent Kurdish Association, told Anadolu Agency on June 7 that abductions of children under the age of 10 by PKK/YPG had risen over the last six months.

A written statement on April 1 by the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said the PKK/YPG had kidnapped two girls, aged 16 and 17, named Rosil Seyho and Zahide Kocar from Sheikh Maqsood neighborhood in Aleppo.

The statement said the terrorist organization did not allow the children they abducted to see their families, and that the girls were taken northeast from Aleppo to the PKK/YPG terror camps in the Manbij district for weapons training.

The PKK/YPG kidnapped four children between the ages of 14 and 16 in the Ayn al-Arab area at the end of February, a 14-year-old child in the Tal Rifat district on March 28, two girls aged 16 and 17 in Aleppo at the end of March, and four children in Aleppo in April, to join its armed forces.

While the PKK in Iraq forcibly recruits Yazidi children it kidnaps in the Sinjar district of Mosul, Iraq, Yazidis have been holding protests for their children's release.

International reports

The US Department of State also mentions the PKK/YPG's forced recruitment of children in the 2020 Human Smuggling Report that it released on June 26, 2020.

A January 2020 report by the UN human rights office (OHCHR) also said its findings suggest that the PKK/YPG is using children as fighters in Syria.

In July 2019, Virginia Gamba, the UN secretary-general's special representative for children and armed conflict, signed an action plan with the SDF -- the label that the PKK/YPG terror group uses in Syria -- to end and prevent the recruitment of minors under 18. However, the terror group has continued to violate this plan.

The terrorist organization usually takes young people and children it kidnaps or detains to terror camps for armed training, barring them from communicating with their families.

Images and news about child fighters are also featured in the so-called media outlets of the terrorist organization.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the US, and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/waning-pkk-ypg-terror-group-forces-children-to-fight-in-its-ranks-in-syria-iraq/2612642

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India

 

Communal Harmony In Howrah: Hindus Help in Marriage of Muslim Widow’s Daughter Amid Unrest

14th June 2022

By Pranab Mondal

KOLKATA:  Setting up a pleasant example of communal harmony in Howrah’s Uluberia, which

witnessed massive violent protests over the issue of hate speech by BJP leaders, Hindu neighbours on Sunday stood by a Muslim widow whose daughter’s marriage could be postponed due to unrest. The neighbours took care of everything right from welcoming groom and other guests to ensure the bride’s safe journey to her in-laws’ house.

Iddenesa Mullick, mother of three daughters and one son, lives in a small house off the NH-6 where the protesters put up a roadblock. “There were massive protests in our area. I was worried when the administration clamped Section 144. I had no way out other than postponing my daughter Pakiza’s marriage which was scheduled on Sunday. But my Hindu neighbours came forward and assured me that they would take care of everything,” said Iddenesa.

Iddenesa’s neighbours Tapas Kodali, Lakhikanta Kayal and Uttam Dolui took all responsibilities of the marriage. “We grew up in the same village together. We stood beside each other always. When the mother of Pakiza was worried, we decided to be her helping hands,” said Kodali.

The three went to the police station and obtained permission for the assembly on the occasion of the marriage as Section 144 of CrPC was clamped. Iddenesa lost her husband eight years ago. “The mother and her children participate in all the events organised by the local club. It was our duty as a citizen to stand beside her,’’ said Kayal.

Iddenesa had invited around 300 guests for her daughter’s marriage. “But only 150 turned up. My Hindu neighbours welcomed them and took care of food and other comforts. They also helped me to rent a car so that Pakiza could go to her in-laws’ house safely. I will be grateful to them for rest of my life,’’ she said.

Source: New Indian Express

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.newindianexpress.com/good-news/2022/jun/14/hindus-help-in-marriage-of-muslim-widows-daughter-amid-unrest-2465370.html

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Prophet remark row: Mangaluru city Police Commissioner holds talks with Muslim leaders

14th June 2022

MANGALURU:  Mangaluru police commissioner N Shashi Kumar held talks with Muslim religious leaders in the wake of reports that various outfits are planning to hold protests in the city against the derogatory statements by BJP leaders on Prophet Mohammed.

Shashi Kumar, who called a meeting of religious leaders on Monday, told reporters that messages in some social media groups hinted that protests similar to those held all over the country need to take place in Mangaluru also.

The meeting was called after some Muslim leaders expressed concern over this. Around 60 leaders participated in the meeting and assured their full cooperation to maintain peace and harmony, he said.

Kumar said the police department is aware of miscreants giving wrong information to the community sitting at a distant place with the intention of provoking religious sentiments.

Source: New Indian Express

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2022/jun/14/prophet-remark-rowmangaluru-city-police-commissioner-holds-talks-with-muslim-leaders-2465459.html

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Indian Muslim groups urge followers to shun protests over anti-Islam comments

June 13, 2022

MUMBAI: Leaders of prominent Islamic groups and mosques in India appealed to fellow Muslims on Monday to suspend plans for protests against derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad made by two members of the ruling Hindu-nationalist party.

The message to avoid big gatherings was circulated after demonstrations took a violent turn last week, leading to the death of two Muslim teenagers and the wounding of more than 30 people, including police.

“It is the duty of every Muslim to stand together when anyone belittles Islam but at the same time it is critical to maintain peace,” said Malik Aslam, a senior member of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, a Muslim organization that operates in several Indian states.

Early this month, two senior members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made remarks that offended Muslims. A party spokeswoman made the offending comment in a television debate and a party spokesman on social media.

The party suspended both of them and said its denounced any insult toward any religion, and police have also filed cases against the two, but that did not stop enraged Muslims taking to the streets in protest.

Police arrested at least 400 suspected rioters during unrest in several states and curfews were imposed and Internet services were suspended in some places.

Many Muslims in India have been questioning their place in society since Modi came to power in 2014, playing down his roots in a powerful Hindu-nationalist group to which his party is affiliated.

Critics say his BJP has pursued a confrontational line, promoting the idea that India is a Hindu nation and rounded on “anti-national” opponents, which many Muslims see as an attempt to marginalize them, a community that makes up 13 percent of India’s billion plus population.

Authorities in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh on Sunday demolished the home of a Muslim man linked to the riots, drawing condemnation of the state government, led by the BJP, from constitutional experts and rights groups.

Muslims and rights groups interpreted the destruction of the house as punishment for the riots but state authorities said it was because it was illegally built on public land.

“We are not demolishing houses to stop Muslims from protesting as they have all the right to take to the streets,” an aide to the state’s hard-line Hindu leader told Reuters.

Modi has not commented on the anti-Islam remarks that sparked the protests even as condemnation grew abroad.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2102371/world

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Muslim Body Files Pleas In Supreme Court Against UP Demolitions

June 13, 2022

New Delhi: Muslim body Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind filed two fresh pleas in the Supreme Court on Monday seeking directions to the Uttar Pradesh government to ensure that no further demolitions are carried out in the State without following due process and such exercise is done only after adequate notice.

The organisation had earlier filed the plea on the issue of demolition of buildings in the Jahangirpuri area of the national capital.

The fresh applications said that subsequent to the last hearing in the matter some new developments have taken place that require the attention of this Court.

"Some objectionable and offensive remarks were made by two political leaders a few days ago which led to communal tension in numerous parts of the country. Following the remarks of the two political leaders, a bandh was called for by a group of people in the district of Kanpur in protest.

"On the day of the protest, a scuffle broke out between the Hindu and Muslim religious community, and stone-pelting took place between the two communities. That after the violence in Kanpur, a number of persons in authority have stated in the media that the properties of suspects/accused would be confiscated and demolished. Even the Chief Minister of the state has said in the media that the houses of accused persons would be razed using bulldozers," one of the pleas said.

The plea alleged that the adoption of such extra-legal measures is clearly in violation of the principles of natural justice, especially when the court is hearing the present matter.

"It is pertinent to note that in the present matter this Hon'ble Court ordered the stay of demolitions that were being carried out as a punitive measure in Northwest Delhi in similar circumstances. Hence, considering that the captioned matter is currently pending before this Hon'ble Court, restoring such measures is even more alarming.

"That demolition exercise of any nature must be carried out strictly in accordance with applicable laws, and only after due notice and opportunity of hearing to each of the affected persons – as mandated by this Court," the plea said.

"Issue directions to the State of Uttar Pradesh that no precipitative action be taken in Kanpur District against the residential or commercial property of any accused in any criminal proceedings as an extra-legal punitive measure," the plea said referring to the June 3 incident of violence in Kanpur.

The organisation has also sought directions to the State of Uttar Pradesh to ensure that any demolition exercise of any nature must be carried out strictly in accordance with applicable laws, and only after due notice and opportunity of hearing are given to each of the affected persons.

Source: ND TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/muslim-body-files-pleas-in-supreme-court-against-up-demolitions-3063729

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Leaders of prominent Islamic groups, mosques call for peace

14.06.22

Leaders of prominent Islamic groups and mosques in India appealed to fellow Muslims on Monday to suspend plans for protests against derogatory remarks about Prophet Mohammed made by the then spokespersons for the BJP.

The message to eschew big gatherings was circulated after demonstrations took a violent turn last week, leading to the death of two Muslim teenagers and causing injuries to more than 30 people, including police.

“It is the duty of every Muslim to stand together when anyone belittles Islam but at the same time it is critical to maintain peace,” said Malik Aslam, a senior member of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, a Muslim organisation that operates in several Indian states.

The police said they arrested at least 400 suspected rioters during unrest in several states, curfews were imposed and Internet services were suspended in some places.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not commented on the anti-Islam remarks even as condemnation grew abroad.

Source: Telegraph India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/leaders-of-prominent-islamic-groups-mosques-call-for-peace/cid/1869856

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More protests in India after authorities raze homes of Muslim activists

SANJAY KUMAR

June 13, 2022

NEW DELHI: Hundreds protested in New Delhi on Monday after the demolition of homes belonging to Muslim activists in India’s Uttar Pradesh, as demonstrations sparked by remarks by ruling party figures about the Prophet Muhammad erupted across the country.

People have taken to the streets in India in recent weeks to protest against derogatory references about Islam and the Prophet Muhammad made by prominent spokespersons from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, which have also caused a diplomatic row with several Muslim countries.

The government has said that the comments do not reflect its views, but protests turned violent last week when two teenagers were killed in the eastern state of Jharkhand. Hundreds of alleged rioters have also been arrested in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where authorities demolished houses of Muslim activists on Sunday.

The demolition sparked further unrest on Monday, as activists and students took part in protests in the Indian capital.

“The government is persecuting Muslims for being Muslim,” Raniya Zulaikha, a protester in New Delhi, told Arab News.

“By targeting protesting Muslims the government is sending the message loud and clear that it is not apologetic to hurt sentiments of the community,” said Zulaikha, who is a member of the Fraternity Movement student group.

Authorities in Uttar Pradesh razed three houses on Sunday, one of which belonged to politician Javed Ahmed, whose daughter, Afreen Fatima, is a prominent Muslim rights activist. Authorities said that Ahmed had built his house illegally and that he had planned the protests in the state last week.

“The main accused, Javed Ahmed, who is the main mastermind of the whole incident — we have acted against his illegal construction,” Ajay Kumar, senior superintendent of police in Prayagraj city of Uttar Pradesh, told reporters.

The controversial remarks made by BJP members followed increasing violence targeting India’s Muslim minority carried out by Hindu nationalists, who have been emboldened by Modi’s regular silences about such attacks since taking office in 2014.

“Since 2014, Muslims in particular and other minorities have been treated as second-class citizens by the present fundamentalist government in India,” Delhi-based human rights activist Ravi Nair, who also protested on Monday, told Arab News.

Officials have previously razed Muslim-owned properties and said that the demolitions targeted illegal buildings and not any particular religious group. However, critics argue that such moves are part of attempts to harass and marginalize Muslims, who represent 14 percent of India’s 1.4 billion population.

“The BJP is using bulldozers to punish vocal Muslims, Muslims who speak for their rights, who resists violence on them,” Apoorvanand Jha, a professor at the University of Delhi, told Arab News.

In Uttar Pradesh, where the demolitions took place, there was fear and apprehension within the Muslim community, said Kulsum Talha, a social activist based in the Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2102501/world

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No illegal Bangladeshi Muslims in Assam, claims legislator

13 June, 2022

Guwahati (Assam) [India], June 13 (ANI): With the National Register of Citizens (NRC) process underway to detect the illegal foreigners residing in the country, Sherman Ali, the suspended Congress MLA of Assam, claims that there are no illegal Bangladeshi Muslims in the state.

According to him, the proclaimed figures are only imaginary and are made political worthy, and the number of illegal residents is only limited to a few hundred, not lakhs or thousands.

He questioned if there is, indeed, a huge number of illegal Bangladeshi residents in the state then why they have not been deported back to their country and why the government has not created an extradition agreement with Bangladesh yet.

“Why couldn’t they make an extradition agreement with Bangladesh? Bangladesh is such a small country. This proves that they are making all these claims only for politics,” he said.

He also said that the NRC is being prepared under the strict supervision of the Supreme Court, under the son of the soil of Assam, ex-CJI Ranjan Gogoi. According to Ali, by lodging a complaint against NRC anomalies, NRC State Coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma has “disobeyed the Supreme Court” and “attracted its provision of contempt”.

“It is the Supreme Court that should decide the revision of the preparation of NRC. Hitesh Dev Sarma is a small creature. He cannot speak above the Supreme Court, and neither can the government of Assam,” he added.

He also added that if anyone has any doubt regarding the preparation of NRC, further revisions will not solve the matter because some people of Assam just have pre-conceptions in their minds about the number of infiltrators, due to which even multiple revisions will not satisfy them.

“If you are not satisfied by the NRC, settle it once and for all by the DNA test,” he appealed.

“BJP only wants to keep the issue alive. Since 1975, almost 45 years have gone by, and the voter list has been revised 4 times and declared free from foreigners, but the people still demanded revision. Finally, there was a tripartite agreement under the BJP that the NRC should be prepared as a final solution to this problem. There were many hearings, and objections were raised overnight, but even then, when the number came down to 19 lakh containing only some 4-5 lakh of Muslims, it was a bone of contention. When the first list was published, 40 lakh people were not included in the NRC list, and they were enjoying it. During the election campaign, Amit Shah loudly said that we have identified 40 lakh of foreigners. But when the same process culminated in the deletion of only 19 lakh including 5 lakh Muslims, they were not satisfied,” he told ANI.

Source: The Print

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://theprint.in/politics/no-illegal-bangladeshi-muslims-in-assam-claims-legislator/995166/

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Two Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists killed in encounter in J&K

Jun 14, 2022

SRINAGAR: Two Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists, including a Pakistani national, were killed in an encounter with security forces in Srinagar, police said on Tuesday.

"Two terrorists of banned terror outfit LeT were neutralised by Srinagar Police in an encounter in Bemina area of Srinagar city. One policeman sustained minor injuries in the operation," a police official said.

The ‘chance encounter' took place late Monday night.

Inspector General of Police, Kashmir zone, Vijay Kumar said as per the documents and other incriminating materials recovered from the encounter site, one of the killed terrorists has been identified as Abdullah Goujri, a resident of Faisalabad in Pakistan.

"This was the same group of terrorists which had escaped from Sopore encounter. We have been tracking their movement," the IGP said.

He said the other slain terrorist was identified as Adil Hussain Mir alias Sufian, a resident of Anantnag district.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/two-lashkar-e-taiba-terrorists-killed-in-encounter-in-jk/articleshow/92193016.cms

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Treating accused as convicts is unlawful: AIMPLB

14th June 2022

Lucknow: The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has said that treating accused as convicts was not only unlawful but also a way of creating terror and panic.

In a statement, the Board cited visuals on social media to highlight alleged police excesses on individuals detained on allegations of stone-pelting and violence.

The board also appealed to the members of the Muslim community to “exercise restraint and limit their protests to handing over of memorandums to local authorities seeking action against those who have insulted the Prophet to express their disapproval and resentment if any, against such acts.”

The board also demanded that the police first investigate cases of violence, submit their findings before the court and seek directions to initiate action against the accused.

Board’s general secretary Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rehmani, in the statement, said instead of initiating action against the individual (read Nupur Sharma) who insulted the Prophet, the government is lodging FIRs and demolishing houses of those who have expressed their protest against such statements. This is unlawful and excessive.

“The BJP took action against the person who insulted the Prophet, but the government has not done anything at all to show that it disapproves of such acts. The government has not initiated any appropriate penal action as per the provisions of law against the person, which is surprising,” Rehmani said.

Instead, police action against those protesting against derogatory comments for their Prophet, is like rubbing salts in the wounds of the community, he said.

Source: Siasat Daily

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.siasat.com/treating-accused-as-convicts-is-unlawful-aimplb-2348415/

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Southeast Asia

 

Philippines’ Autonomous Muslim Region Builds Deradicalisation Centre For Former Militants

June 13, 2022

MANILA: A center aimed at helping former militants reintegrate into the community is being built in the southern Philippines as part of government efforts to sustain peace in one of Southeast Asia’s most conflict-torn regions, officials said on Monday.

Bangsamoro, a region covering predominantly Muslim areas of Mindanao, has undergone a peace process for nearly a decade since the government struck a permanent cease-fire agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front after almost four decades of conflict.

As part of the peace process, the region’s inhabitants voted for greater autonomy in a referendum held in 2019. This followed the months’-long battle in Mindanao’s Marawi City in 2017 between the Philippine army and pro-Daesh militants, including members of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

The threat from ASG has declined since then; the Philippine military said in April that its operations had decreased the risk from militants affiliated with Daesh. As more ASG members surrender to the military, the government in Bangsamoro is aiming to help them rejoin society.

“This facility is part of the commitment we’ve made to the Western Mindanao Command and the local government . . . as we join them in rebuilding the lives of (the former) ASG members,” Naguib Sinarimbo, who heads the department responsible for local governance in Bangsamoro, said in a statement.

The $469,000 facility will be located in Barangay Langhub in the southwestern Sulu province, which was a stronghold of ASG.

Once it is established, the center will conduct programs to ensure that former militants “will become productive citizens as they return to the community.”

The regional military spokesperson, Col. Alaric Delos Santos, stressed the importance of the center “for the deradicalization of the former ASG members.”

“We all know that inside the ASG, what they were taught was an extremist point of view on Islam. So this time, they will go through the process and get a proper study and understanding of Islam. We will also be able to see their potential to determine the kind of livelihood that should be provided to each of them,” Delos Santos told Arab News.

Since 2017, more than 860 members of the ASG have surrendered to the military in Sulu, according to official data. More than half will join the first batch of programs run at the center, Delos Santos said.

The center, according to security expert Rikard Jalkebro, is essential to sustain peace in Sulu.

“It’s something that has to be done otherwise you can’t really have lasting peace or any kind of sustainable peace situation in Sulu,” Jalkebro told Arab News.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2102576/world

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Malaysia’s Islamists Take On The Sultan Of Selangor

By Murray Hunter

June 13, 2022

An unprecedented challenge to Royal prerogative and the Malaysian Constitution

Under Malaysian state constitutions, the sultans are the head of Islam within their respective states. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, or king selected by the Council of Rulers every five years is the head of Islam with the Federal Territories and states where there is no sultan.

Challenging the will of sultans is considered strictly taboo within Malay culture. Historically Royal households enjoy the highest stature within Malay society, where their rulings are respected and accepted without public questioning. Malaysia’s sedition laws strongly support this concept, which act as de facto Lese Majeste laws.

Last year activist Fahmi Reza was arrested by police for allegedly insulting the queen for posting a satirical playlist online, over a controversy concerning Royalty and Covid-19 vaccines.

Online influencers Bryan Wee and Deacon Chai found themselves in hot water over a series of pictures they took outside the Johor Istana (Palace). Those criticizing Malaysia’s Royalty are usually dealt with harshly by the authorities.

Last week, the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, stated that the Bon Odori festival organized by the Japanese community in Malaysia, doesn’t have any religious elements and Muslims have no problem if they attend.

This was met with the PAS Ulama Council issuing a statement urging Muslims not to attend the event out of religious elements within the festival. This view was supported by the PAS Religious Affairs minister Idris Ahmad.

Idris Ahmad had sparked the controversy when he advised Muslims not to attend the Bon Odori festival, as he claimed it had elements of Buddhism within it. Idris claimed that JAKIM examined the festival and found that it does have religious elements involved, consequently according to JAKIM’s findings, Muslims should not attend.

This escalated when the Sultan of Selangor told Idris not to use JAKIM to make ‘confusing and inaccurate statements about the festival. The Sultan went on to challenge the minister to attend the festival to see for himself.

Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah had decreed to the Selangor Islamic Department (JAIS) and the Shah Alam City Council allow the Bon Odori festive to go ahead next month, and attend. Meanwhile, Minister Idris Ahmad continued to insist the festival had religious elements.

This has led to the PAS Women’s Youth wing to declare the Bon Odori dance haram, and was met with support from both the Perlis Mufti Dr Asri Zainul Abidin, and Penang Mufti Wan Salim Mohd Noor, who later backtracked on his comments. Dr Asri later suggested that the Bon Odori Festival change its name to avoid confusion.

The PAS insistence that the Sultan of Selangor is wrong, is a direct challenge to Royal prerogative, and blatantly disrespects the Sultan’s position as head of Islam in Selangor. Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah was also appointed by the Conference of Rulers as chairman of the National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs Malaysia (MKI), and placed JAKIM under his direct jurisdiction.

This deems the PAS denouncement of Sultan Sharafuddin’s Royal Decree as a direct challenge to Malaysia’s nine rulers, including the Agong or King. This is not just a challenge to the Malay rulers, but also a direct challenge to the Malaysian and Selangor State Constitutions.

This is an act of treason that members of the Malay ruling elite have all been totally silent upon, as has the leader of the opposition. The Muslim Brotherhood sympathetic PAS Ulama have now shown how potentially dangerous political Islam is in Malaysia. This is a direct threat to both the rulers and the Constitution, where the Royal Malaysian Police have stood idly by, almost to the point of encouragement.

Source: Eurasia Review

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.eurasiareview.com/13062022-malaysias-islamists-take-on-the-sultan-of-selangor-analysis/

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Najib didn’t complain about accounts, AmBank officer tells court

Ho Kit Yen

June 13, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: An AmBank officer told the High Court in Najib Razak’s 1MDB trial the former prime minister did not file any complaints against the bank regarding the manner in which they handled his accounts.

Salmah Daman Huri said this when asked by deputy public prosecutor Najwa Bistamam about the transactions in Najib’s two bank accounts from 2009 to 2015.

She had told the court last week that she converted more than US$710 million into ringgit for a client’s private account between 2012 and 2013. However, she stopped short of naming the VIP client who received the large sum of foreign money.

Continuing her testimony today, Salmah said she converted £8.7 million into ringgit that was deposited into this customer’s account between October 2014 and December 2014.

Asked by Najib’s lawyer, Wan Aizudin Wan Mohamed, whether she knew who the “VIP customer” was, she said she did not.

“I only knew it was his (Najib) accounts after investigations into 1MDB started (in 2015),” she said.

She also said that Najib’s accounts were opened under the bank’s AmPrivate banking unit, in which the personal details of customers, such as their names, were kept confidential.

“They needed to be ‘high net worth’ individuals,” she said.

Salmah said AmBank did not raise any “red flags” about Najib’s transactions to Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) during the time he held accounts at the bank.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2022/06/13/najib-didnt-complain-about-accounts-ambank-officer-tells-court/

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Zahid calls for new political ‘tsunami’ to reclaim Sepang

June 12, 2022

PETALING JAYA: Barisan Nasional must create a political upheaval to recapture the Sepang district at the next general election, coalition chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today.

Zahid said BN possessed the potential to reclaim the district having previously held it until 2013. “The onus is on us to generate a political tsunami to cause an upset,” he said, Berita Harian reported.

Zahid, who is also Umno president, said BN leaders and members in Sepang had to keep the interest of the district’s 170,000 voters at heart to stand any chance at reclaiming the seat.

He said there was big potential for victory if frequent visits were made by “Bossku” Najib Razak, the former prime minister, and the district’s “adopted father” Zambry Abd Kadir, who is chairman of Malaysia Airport Holdings Berhad, which has its headquarters at KLIA, in Sepang.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2022/06/12/zahid-calls-for-new-political-tsunami-to-reclaim-sepang/

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Pakistan

 

Pakistan: An Army-Imposed Deal with the Pakistani Taliban Could Spell Disaster

Mohammad Taqi

June 14, 2022

While the Pakistani public at large remains consumed with the sky-rocketing inflation and the civilian government grapples with a floundering economy and strict IMF conditions, the country’s powerful army is pushing for a negotiated settlement with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (aka TTP or Pakistani Taliban).

The negotiations between the TTP leadership based in Afghanistan and the Pakistani army officials that have been going on at least since last fall, gained new momentum over the past several weeks. A group of individuals from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province including the districts consisting of the former Federally Administrated Tribal areas (FATA) that were merged with that federating unit, recently visited Kabul, and held talks with the TTP leadership including its current chief Noor Wali Mehsud, and other top commanders Maulvi Faqir Muhammad and Umar Khalid Khorasani.

The TTP’s fraternal twins, the Afghan Taliban not only acted as the go-between but their acting Prime Minister Hasan Akhund, Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani and intelligence chief Muhammad Wasiq attended the parleys, ostensibly as facilitators.

Both sides claimed progress after the talks, and the TTP has apparently extended the ceasefire indefinitely.

The 50-member Pakistani delegation was dubbed as a jirga i.e., traditional tribal assembly of elders but it was authorised neither by the Pashtun tribes nor the government of Pakistan. The members were handpicked by the controversial former Director General of Inter-services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate Lt. General Faiz Hameed Chaudhry, who is currently commanding the army’s XI Corps headquartered at Peshawar. He even arranged for the entourage to travel to Kabul in a military C-130 aircraft.

Prior to that, General Faiz, as he is commonly known, had himself flown to Kabul and held direct talks with the TTP leaders.

Some of the delegation members have confirmed on record that the constitution and launch of their so-called jirga was wholly-owned project of the Pakistan army. They have confirmed that they participated in their individual capacity and were “authorised” by General Faiz, who met with them prior to their departure, to work out a peace deal with the TTP since they “all come from the same region and ethno-cultural background”.

As the reckless venture started drawing criticism, mostly from the Pashtun nationalist political leaders, the Federal Minister for Information belatedly claimed that it was commissioned by the civilian administration under the constitution. It is ironic that the civilians were forced to take flak for the army, and that too on such flimsy grounds.

Firstly, the de facto relations notwithstanding, Pakistan still does not officially recognise the Afghan Taliban regime in Kabul that hosted the talks.

Secondly, for a sitting Corps commander to run talks with a proscribed terrorist group on foreign territory is unheard of even in the dirty games that Pakistan army has played in Afghanistan. It is certainly beyond a corps commander’s professional remit and holds no constitutional or even administrative water. There were instances during General Pervez Musharraf’s army regime, where the Corps Commander Peshawar negotiated with the TTP inside Pakistan, but this would be the first instance where one has conducted such talks inside Afghanistan.

Thirdly, the elected parliamentarians from the North and South Waziristan, the ex-FATA districts that bore the brunt of both the TTP atrocities and the army operations, were completely kept out of the loop and the delegation. It finally forced the country’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who in all likelihood was kept in the dark as well, to publicly state that all decisions on dealing with the terrorists must be taken by the parliament. The FM, who is also the chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), went on serve a show-cause notice to a federal minister from his party who was part of the mission, showing that the information minister was outright lying to give legitimacy to a patently illegal enterprise post ipso facto.

It is dumbfounding that a country that has lost over 70,000 citizens, including the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, to the TTP’s relentless terror, would be kept in dark by the army over negotiations with that group.

The Pakistani Taliban’s almost two-decade long terrorism reached every corner of the country but predominantly ravaged the Pashtun-inhabited areas. A vast majority of the terror casualties were ethnic Pashtuns and religious minorities.

The Pashtuns of the ex-FATA and the KP’s Malakand division faced a triple whammy when they were first tormented by the Taliban, then displaced internally when the military eventually launched operations against the terrorists and in the process destroyed the civilian homes and businesses as well.

The TTP, however, has attacked not just the civilians but also the army’s General Headquarters, air force and naval bases, country’s largest ordnance factory and aeronautical complex,  airports, and massacred nearly 150 students and teachers at an army-run boys’ school. It was in the aftermath of that school attack that the country’s political and military leadership finally came together and formulated what was called the National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism.

A core pledge of the NAP was that no armed organisation would be allowed to operate in the country. The army is clearly reneging on that commitment and appears to be using the civilian government and coopted Pashtun leaders to sanctify a dirty deal that it seems to have already cut with the Taliban.

While the TTP declaring ceasefire is being trumpeted as major success by the army’s surrogates in the media, what the army is conceding is being kept under wraps. These army-approved spokespersons are touting that just like the US agreement with the Afghan Taliban, the deal with the TTP will end an endless war. Never mind that the US-Taliban agreement in Doha paved the way for complete elimination of the Afghan Republic and its state structures. The TTP’s demands, are similarly ominous and could lead to the weakening, if not elimination, of the state structures in the areas that it is allowed to return to. It is demanding imposition of sharia laws in the Malakand division and ex-FATA districts, a reversal of the FATA merger with the KP province, the right to retain arms, release of its prisoners and reparations for losses of life and property its cadres have incurred over the years.

The army has already released a couple of top TTP commanders on death row, including its infamous former spokesman Muslim Khan who used to call the media and take responsibility for every atrocity their vile band committed. They were handed over to the Haqqani faction of the Afghan Taliban at the Afghanistan’s embassy in Islamabad and later moved to an undisclosed location in that country.

Why is the Pakistan army so keen to cut a deal with the TTP that it is willing to release scores of what it had once called “jet black terrorists”, who are sure to return to the battlefield without a pause? The simple answer is that it can’t fight them, at least not now. With economy in shambles thanks to the army’s hybrid regime project and the prevailing political instability courtesy its now-ousted central character Imran Khan, Pakistanis state is weak and vulnerable. Pakistan army also lacks the largesse and the advanced technical intelligence that the US had provided it during several previous operations against the TTP.

The TTP, on the other hand, has regrouped and reorganised, and is ideologically rejuvenated thanks to the Afghan Taliban’s victory over the US and Kabul government. The TTP under Noor Wali Mehsud reabsorbed several splinter groups and defectors, and with swollen ranks and operational freedom it enjoyed in Afghanistan, the group ramped up its attacks inside Pakistan. Unlike the past large-scale indiscriminate terror attacks against the general population, the TTP has been mainly targeting the security forces including army and certain civilians, mostly in the ex-FATA districts.

For years, Pakistan army had portrayed the TTP as a puppet of the US-backed Afghan governments and the Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). But the fact of the matter is that the TTP has been joined at the hip, ideologically and logistically, with the Afghan Taliban, and especially its Haqqani faction. While several top leaders and every single one of the TTP chiefs killed so far had been taken out by the US drones, after coming to power, the Afghan Taliban released hundreds of TTP prisoners who had been arrested by the fallen Kabul government, including TTP senior leaders like founding deputy emir Maulvi Faqir Muhammad.

The current TTP emir renewed allegiance to the Afghan Taliban after they took over Kabul.

Pakistan army had disingenuously peddled the myth that the Afghan Taliban would not only contain the TTP but deliver it to Pakistan. But when rubber met the road, the Afghan Taliban refused to act against their brothers-in-arms, for assorted reasons, of which an ideological affinity is the foremost. Also, the Taliban regime has other battles to fight, including against the Islamic State in Khorasan (ISIK).

But even if the Taliban emirate wanted to crackdown on the TTP it risks not just a fight back from the group but also resistance from within its own ranks and a potential ideological challenge from the ISIK for betraying the jihadist cause. The Pakistan army became increasingly impatient with the TTP operating from the Afghan soil and had also launched a few attacks inside Afghanistan, leading to a muffled protest from the emirate which came under internal pressure for being seen as stooges of Pakistan army unable to stand up to it. The emirate, however, also relies heavily on Pakistan army, which effectively is its sole international patron, and, therefore, could not be alienated outright.

The talks essentially buy the Afghan Taliban, the TTP and the Pakistan army some time. But for how long and at what cost?

In dealing with the TTP, past is the prologue. The Pakistan army has itself negotiated and signed – or forced the civilian governments to do so – over a dozen agreements with the TTP. Each one of those deals was in tatters within months, if not days, with the TTP reneging on its promises, the state conceding more space to the terrorists, and the general population ultimately bearing the brunt of it all. In most of those cases, the army allowed the Taliban who had ostensibly surrendered, to organise as the so-called peace committees and keep their weapons. In case of Malakand, the civilian government was even pushed to concede to Taliban an enforcement of sharia regulations.

The TTP used the agreements to increase its stature, consolidate its hold, fill the power vacuum created by abdication of the state and weakening of the old tribal hierarchy, and eventually unleashed another wave of terror. The Taliban even massacred many tribal elders who had helped negotiate some of those deals, not unlike the bunch that signed up as General Faiz’s emissaries. There is nothing that says that the present round of talks and Taliban appeasement would end any differently.

The Pakistan army’s media surrogates point out that the TTP’s raison d’etre was the American presence in the region and irritants such as drone attacks, and with those gone, peace must be given a chance. The TTP, however, has been very clear and consistent about why it is waging a bloody terror campaign against Pakistan. A former TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud was once asked by the BBC whether the US withdrawal from the region would have any impact on their movement. Mehsud had responded:

“There will be no impact of the American withdrawal on the TTP, because friendship with America is only one of the two reasons we have to conduct jihad against Pakistan. The other reason is that Pakistan’s system is un-Islamic, and we want that it should be replaced with the Islamic system. This demand and this desire will continue even after the American withdrawal.”

Nothing has changed in the TTP thinking since. After the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the incumbent TTP chief Noor Wali Mehsud had bluntly told the CNN that their war is against the Pakistani state and they seek imposition of sharia and independence of the border regions (ex-FATA).

While the TTP’s motives and tactics are rather clear, the Pakistan army calculus is rather murky. That not a single Pashtun nationalist leader was included in the delegation(s) sent to Kabul raises serious concerns not just about the army’s tactics but its motives. Ali Wazir, the outspoken member of the National Assembly from South Waziristan is in prison for almost two years at the behest of none other than the Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa, who wants to make an example out of him for making a speech against the army’s excesses in his region.

But the parliamentarian from North Waziristan, Mohsin Dawar – a cool-headed lawyer – was also barred from the group. It is mind-boggling that the army meticulously excluded law-abiding constitutionalists from an ostensible peace process that is bound to impact their region but has sworn terrorists. Fair is foul, foul is fair! But a handpicked member of the delegation and former parliamentarian from the PPP, Akhundzada Chattan hinted at the foul play. He said in an interview upon his return that it seemed as if someone else was using the TTP’s shoulder to fire at the merger of ex-FATA with the KP province.

Other Pashtun politicians like the former Senator Afrasiab Khattak have charged that through its cloak-and-dagger games the army seeks to turn the Pashtun regions to the east of Durand Line into a Taliban sanctuary yet again. Pakistan army has used Islamism for decades to counter Pashtun nationalism and Afghan irredentism. The army’s perception of the threat from the Pashtun nationalists like Wazir and Dawar is delusional and warped. Could it get more perverse than caging the constitutionalists and letting the terrorists loose?

But in its quest for the so-called strategic depth in Afghanistan, Pakistan army has kept providing reverse strategic depth to its jihadist proxies. An ideological milieu and jihadist infrastructure were created in Pakistan to groom and launch these jihadists, which the army always thought it could control and harness. But many of them did boomerang back on to the army itself. The TTP rehabilitation in the ex-FATA could buttress the Afghan Taliban – and the Haqqani faction in particular – against some of the military challenges coming their way. Whatever the veracity of these claims by the Pashtun nationalists, it is abundantly clear that by default the net result of the army’s manoeuvrings would be yet another round of turmoil and terror in the Pashtun regions of Pakistan.

The Taliban surrendering their weapons and accepting the constitution could theoretically be the ultimate result if – a huge if at that – the negotiations are successful. The Taliban agreeing to a set of conditions, accepting the state’s writ, disarming, and decommissioning is a pipedream. What does the TTP stand to gain by conceding is better known to the army. The TTP would certainly find another pretext to continue its violent campaign.

Source: The Wire

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://thewire.in/south-asia/pakistan-an-army-imposed-deal-with-the-pakistani-taliban-could-spell-disaster

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Parliament Capable Institute to Lead Talks With Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan: PPP Senator

June 13, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator Mian Raza Rabbani on Monday stressed the need for making talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as part of a national debate comprising parliament, experts, military commanders who fought against them and civil society.

“Two tribal jirgas sent for negotiations with the TTP cannot be a replacement for the collective wisdom of parliament,” he pointed out in a statement issued here on Monday.

Rabbani emphasized that peace talks and subsequent agreement with the TTP will have far-reaching consequences on the constitutional boundaries of the federation within, on the creation of a parallel justice system, the rule of law and the constitution.

The PPP senator declared that the parliament has always risen beyond party lines from evolving terms of engagement with the US or operations against terrorists in Swat, Khyber and Waziristan.

Rabbani was of the view that Pakistani people have the right to decide their future, adding that let a consensus decision be arrived at through a debate in which the parliament leads.

A day earlier, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari formed a three-member committee to liaise with political parties on the recent developments related to talks with Afghan Taliban and the banned outfit TTP.

The three-member committee comprises PPP’s senior leaders Sherry Rehman, Farhatullah Babar and Qamar Zaman Kaira, and will take other political parties on board over the matter.

The development came after a series of meetings were held between representatives of Pakistan and the outlawed TTP in Kabul to broker a peace deal. The Afghan Taliban are acting as a mediator.

Source: Pakistan Today

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2022/06/13/parliament-capable-institute-to-lead-talks-with-ttp-rabbani/

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Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Declares Unilateral Ceasefire

By Umair Jamal

June 13, 2022

The Pakistani government has been negotiating with the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) for weeks in an effort to permanently halt cross-border attacks from Afghanistan. The latest round of intense and extensive negotiations has seen Pakistan going all in to involve relevant stakeholders to reach an agreement with the group. A tribal jirga of prominent elders has visited Kabul many times to persuade the group to shun violence. To ensure that the peace process stays on track, the Afghan Taliban have thrown their weight behind the ongoing negotiations.

As a result the TTP has declared an indefinite ceasefire with the Pakistani government. Following the announcement of the ceasefire last week, the government acknowledged for the first time that it was negotiating with the TTP.

While both sides have shown willingness to negotiate, it remains to see if the ongoing peace talks can result in a lasting peace. There are several reasons to believe that the ongoing peace negotiations will not be enough to restore peace in the region.

To begin with, the idea of negotiating with a militant organization, which has murdered thousands of Pakistanis, shows that the state of Pakistan has failed to restore its writ after years of crackdown on the group. Pakistani state’s decision to negotiate with the TTP not only legitimizes the group but offers it an opportunity to recuperate in the long run.

Pakistan’s inability to force the group into submission underscores that Islamabad is not negotiating with the group from a position of strength. TTP has not only asked for the withdrawal of the Pakistani military from tribal areas as part of the negotiations process but also it has demanded the reversal of the merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas into Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The group’s leadership also wants to keep its organizational structure intact as part of the peace deal.

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If the state of Pakistan agrees to these terms, it would amount to surrendering to a militant group. A concession of this sort will have far reaching implications on Pakistan’s stability as other militant groups based in the country would raise similar demands, forcing Islamabad into making deals with them.

Arguably, even if Pakistan agrees to a peace deal with the TTP, there is no assurance that the group will follow through on the agreement. The implementation of an agreement with the Taliban “will be tricky and involve trusting a militant group that has been brutal in its tactics and actions,” writes Maliha Lodhi, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States.

“This also casts doubt on how lasting the ceasefire will be, given the stop-go experience of [past] ceasefires,” she says.

To an extent, TTP is negotiating with Pakistan because the group’s hosts in Afghanistan are under pressure from the Pakistani military over the issue. Reportedly, last month Pakistan conveyed to Afghan Taliban that it would no more tolerate cross-border terrorist attacks.

Afghanistan’s acting Minister for Interior Sirajuddin Haqqani recently said that the end of TTP’s fight with Pakistan was in their best interests. “Any attack from this side irks Pakistan, which creates problems for us with our neighbor and such incidents have international ramifications for the Islamic Emirate,” Haqqani was quoted as saying by a senior jirga member. “But we don’t want to coerce the TTP. They have waged jihad with us against the Americans and made sacrifices. It would be better that Pakistan and TTP come to terms, after giving each other some concessions,” Haqqani told the tribal group negotiating on Pakistan’s behalf.

Source: The Diplomat

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://thediplomat.com/2022/06/tehreek-e-taliban-pakistan-declares-unilateral-ceasefire/

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IMF: Extra measures needed for Pak budget to meet goals

Jun 14, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Additional measures will be needed to bring Pakistan’s budget for FY202223 in line with the key objectives of its IMF programme, the lender’s resident representative in Islamabad said on Monday. Pakistan unveiled a 9. 5 trillion Pakistani rupee ($47 billion) budget for 2022-23 on Friday aimed at tight fiscal consolidation in a bid to convince the IMF to restart much-needed bailout payments. “Our preliminary estimate is that additional measures will be needed to strengthen the budget and bring it in line with key programme objectives,” Esther Perez Ruiz said. Pakistan finance minister said on Saturday that the IMF had expressed concerns about the budget numbers, including fuel subsidies, a widening current account deficit, and the need to raise more direct taxes.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/imf-extra-measures-needed-for-pak-budget-to-meet-goals/articleshow/92192867.cms

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'Missing' Baloch students Doda Ellahi and Ghamshad return home: activist

Ghalib Nihad

June 14, 2022

Doda Ellahi and Ghamshad Baloch — students of Karachi University's Philosophy Department allegedly taken away from their house in the city on June 7 — have returned home, Nasarullah Baloch, chairman of non-profit organisation Voice of Balochistan Missing Persons said on Tuesday.

In a brief confirmation, the activist told Dawn.com that the students returned to their home near Maskan Chowrangi in Gulshan-i-Iqbal after 3am. "They both belong to the Kech district of Balochistan," he added.

Earlier in the day, Shayhaq Ellahi and HudaHair Ellahi, siblings of Doda, had tweeted that their brother and his friend had been "safely released". Shayhaq also posted photographs of the pair. Dawn.com was able to confirm that the accounts belonged to Doda's family members.

Both of them went on to thank God and all the people who stood with the family during the difficult time.

Protest outside Sindh Assembly

The development comes a day after relatives, activists and friends of the two students were forcefully dispersed by police, and 28 of them were briefly arrested from outside the main gate of the Sindh Assembly in Karachi.

They were there to protest against the pair's "arrests". The demonstrators had camped out outside the Karachi Press Club (KPC) for the last four days.

The police action was widely condemned, as footage emerged of police personnel dragging peaceful protesters and stuffing them in police vans.

Read: 'Shameful, barbaric, disrespectful': Police action on Baloch protesters widely condemned on social media

South-SSP Asad Raza told Dawn that the police detained 19 men and nine women as they tried to enter the assembly building. The officer denied that protesters were treated roughly. He added that woman police officers had detained female protesters.

The demonstrators were later released.

The protest organisers had accused the police of manhandling women and children. They said the Sindh police had broke their promise of arranging a meeting of the missing students’ relatives with Counter Terrorism Department officials on Monday. Therefore, they said, they again staged a sit-in near the Sindh Assembly building where the police manhandled and arrested protesters.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1694772/missing-baloch-students-doda-ellahi-and-ghamshad-return-home-activist

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Allies to seek Pakistan’s removal from grey list

Anwar Iqbal

June 14, 2022

WASHINGTON: China and some other allies are quietly working to get Pakistan off the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list during the agency’s next plenary session, diplomatic sources told Dawn.

The FATF, a global body which monitors money laundering and terrorism financing, is holding the four-day — June 14-17 — session in Berlin, Germany, from Tuesday.

FATF delegates representing 206 members of the global network and its observers will attend the meeting. The observers include the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United Nations, the World Bank, and the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.

Recent reports in the international media also mentioned this “quiet lobbying”, led by China, and one Indian media outlet reported that the plenary session “is likely to decide to move Pakistan out from the list of countries under increased monitoring, commonly known as its grey list”.

Diplomatic sources in Washington say that those favouring the move argue that removing Pakistan from the FATF grey list “is essential to revive the Pakistani economy”. Pakistan has been on the list since June 2018.

The sources say that an April 9 judgement by an anti-terrorism court in Lahore could also help Pakistan in removing this stigma. The court sent Lashkar-e-Tayyaba chief Hafiz Saeed, to prison for 33 years on terrorism charges.

Those who support the move to remove Pakistan from the list, point out that the two cases that led to his imprisonment were filled by Pakistan’s Counter Terrorism Department.

In its last plenary, held in Paris in March, the FATF noted that “Pakistan has completed 26 of the 27 action items in its 2018 action plan”. The FATF encouraged Pakistan “to address, as soon as possible, the one remaining item, — investigating terrorism financing and targeting” senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated terrorist groups.

FATF acknowledged that Pakistan had also met 6 of the 7 action plans it was asked to follow in June 2021 to counter money laundering.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also prepared a presentation for the FATF plenary, showing how Pakistan has completed all the 27 tasks that it was given. Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar is likely to attend the plenary.

On May 22 and 23, Minister for Commerce Syed Naveed Qamar visited Brussels and briefed multiple Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and the European Commission on Pakistan’s efforts to get off the grey list.

During the four-day plenary session, delegates will finalise key issues including a report to prevent money laundering through the real estate sector. Another report will urge financial institutions to use collaborative analytics, data collection and other sharing initiatives to assess and mitigate the money laundering and terrorist financing risks they face.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1694696/allies-to-seek-pakistans-removal-from-grey-list

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How Pakistani Judiciary Dealt With Demand to 'Return' Lahore Gurudwara to Muslims for Worship

M.R. Narayan Swamy

JUNE 14, 2022

The judiciary should go strictly by law while dealing with religious disputes. If this happens, there will be fewer controversies and no section of the society will feel let down barring those who have no faith in a judicial system. This issue has come to the fore in recent times in India as right-wing Hindu groups keep making claim after claim on Islamic religious shrines.

It will be interesting in this context to see how the judiciary in Pakistan resolved a knotty issue involving Muslims and Sikhs over a place of worship the former insisted had been a mosque and which the latter claimed was a gurdwara.

The story has been related in some detail by Lahore-based academic-cum-freelance journalist Haroon Khalid in his gripping book, Walking with Nanak, in which the author tells us the saga of Nanak as he trekked vast areas, spending invaluable time in the part of Punjab that now lies in Pakistan.

A long time back, in the then West Punjab (now in Pakistan), there was a mosque in Naulakha Bazar. Sitting in it, the Qazi would announce punishment to criminals. This is also where Sikhs were punished on the orders of the governor of Lahore, Moin-ul-Mulk, also known as Meer Manu.

According to the book, thousands of Sikhs – yes, thousands of innocent men, women and children – were slaughtered and thrown into a well on the orders of the governor.

The mosque was small and was never used as a place of worship. When Maharaja Ranjit Singh took control of Punjab, the Sikhs took over the mosque, placed the Guru Granth Sahib inside it and converted it into a gurudwara. The Muslims could do nothing about it.

Let Khalid tell the rest of the story in his own words, as related to him by his mentor, Iqbal Qaiser.

“It was during the British era that this issue first came to light. The Muslims filed an application in court that this was a mosque and that it should be returned to them. The Muslims argued that the Court should look at the architecture of the building to judge that this was indeed a mosque. The Sikhs on the other hand argued that this had been a mosque once and that now it had become a gurudwara.”

“The Lahore High Court, where the case was presented, asked if there was anyone alive who could testify that he had seen that building used as a mosque. Naturally, there was no one. So the court decided in favour of the Sikhs. After the judgment, the Sikhs who had control over the gurudwara decided to raze the building because they thought that it was because of the architecture of the building that this issue has come to the forefront.”

“The building was demolished. This led to rioting between Muslims and Sikhs. It was actually the British who were responsible for these riots. It goes back to their policy of divide and rule. Even Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal got involved as they tried pacifying the Muslims. Nothing emerged out of the protest and the gurdwara remained a gurdwara.”

“After Partition, when the Auqaf Department was created, this issue of the gurdwara was raised yet again. This time, people believed that since the Sikhs had migrated (to India) and the gurudwara had been abandoned, the court would allot it to the Muslims but that did not happen. The Lahore High Court declared once again that this would remain a gurdwara. (This was around 1957-58.)

“The issue about the property of this gurdwara or mosque was raised once again in the late 1980s. Some petitioners appeared in the court and asked the judgment to be reviewed. This time the judge ordered that he would convert this gurdwara into a mosque if the petitioners brought forth even one person who had prayed at the mosque. This did not happen and the status of the gurdwara remained as is.”

In about 1994-95, the Kar Sewa Committee of England asked the Pakistan government for permission to renovate the gurdwara. The government was reluctant initially but eventually gave permission.

When it was mentioned in the newspapers that the Gurudwara Shaheed Ganj was being reconstructed, some local Muslims tried once again to create an issue. This time they wanted the local people living around the gurdwara to get involved and halt the construction of this shrine.

Source: The Wire

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://thewire.in/law/pakistan-lahore-religious-structure-dispute-sikh-muslim

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South Asia

 

Taliban kill ISKP commanders responsible for mosque attacks

June 13, 2022

KABUL: The Afghan Taliban carried out search operations in the Bagram district of Kabul on Sunday and killed two main commanders of the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), who attacked mosques and religious sites, and arrested many others.

According to Taliban’s Spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid, sleeper cells were raided on Sunday night by the district administration, special forces and local police. The contingent managed to kill the most wanted ISKP commander Yousaf and arrested Muhammad Agha, among others.

Yousaf and Muhammad Agha were responsible for planning attacks on religious sites, power stations and power installations across the country, including Kabul, according to Mujahid.

“On their information, raids were conducted in central and suburban Kabul, and scores of them [ISKP members] were arrested and killed,” the spokesperson added.

Mujahid stated that more details of the operation would be shared once received.

A series of deadly attacks have rocked Afghanistan in recent months, a little under a year since the Taliban takeover.

On Saturday, a bomb blast on a minibus killed at least four people and injured several others in the Afghan capital, police said.

Dozens of civilians were killed in Kabul and other cities in primarily sectarian attacks during the holy month of Ramazan, which ended on April 30 in Afghanistan, with some claimed by the Islamic State group.

Many of those attacks targeted the Hazaras and Sufi communities.

Some of the bombings struck minibusses ferrying passengers from offices or markets to their homes.

But the deadliest attack during Ramazan came in the northern city of Kunduz, where a bomb targeting Sufi worshippers tore through a mosque on April 22.

At least 33 people were killed in that blast and scores more were wounded.

Source: Pakistan Today

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2022/06/13/taliban-kill-iskp-commanders-responsible-for-mosque-attacks/

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Investors Claim Ex-Gov’t Owes 60B Afghanis, Urging Taliban for Solution

By Arif Ahmadi

14 Jun 2022

Kabul, Afghanistan – The Afghanistan Commercial Companies and Investors Union claims that the former government owes 60 billion afghanis to the union members through bank guarantees, remittances and for security, asking the Islamic Emirate for a special approach to address their loans.

Seeking the Taliban government’s consideration, head of the union Mohammad Baz Ghairat vowed to double investments in Afghanistan and increase job opportunities for locals if their loans are handed back to investors.

“Given the country’s high unemployment and homelessness rates, we assure you that if these loans are given to us, we will raise the number of factories in the investment sector from hundreds to thousands,” said Ghairat, as TOLOnews quoted.

Ghairat urged the Islamic Emirate to establish a special commission in order to facilitate the return of Afghan investors from neighboring countries, which will pave the way for investments in Afghanistan without any security or financial threats.

“We urge the Islamic Emirate to establish a special commission to facilitate the return of Afghan investors from abroad, similar to the Commission for the Return of Political Figures, so that they can return to the country with complete confidence and invest,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Afghan Chamber of Industries and Mines (ACIM) says the banking problem has yet to be addressed, where investors are unable to transfer money for raw materials, saying “in terms of remittances, the Central Bank of Afghanistan works closely with the private sector.”

“Unfortunately, the mediator bank, the City Bank of America, does not always pass the identical TTs of private enterprises or industrialists in a timely manner, and this problem remains,” said Sakhi Ahmad Peyman, ACIM head.

“Afghanistan’s banking problems are still there. There is no Afghan bank that can effectively transfer money from Afghan businessmen to enterprises on the other side, neither private nor state-owned,” said the deputy of the chamber of commerce, Khairuddin Mayel, as local media reported.

Source: Khaama Press

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/investors-claim-ex-govt-owes-60b-afghanis-urging-taliban-for-solution/

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Man Kills Nine Members of His Family in Nimruz Province

By Saqalain Eqbal

13 Jun 2022

Officials from the Taliban in Nimruz province said a man murdered nine members of his family, including his wife and four children.

The event occurred on Sunday, June the 12th, in the second district of Zaranj city, according to Mohammad Mohajer, the security officer of the Nimruz Local Police.

The killer, according to Mohajer, shot nine members of his family, including his wife, children, and father-in-law, before fleeing the scene.

Wais, the son of Turjan from Farah province, is the assailant. The motivation for the massacre still remains unknown and a mystery.

Officials from the security forces noted that efforts are being made to arrest the attacker.

In late May, a man killed his wife and injured two of his children in Samangan province.

Almost a month ago, two women were killed by their husbands in two separate incidents in Uruzgan province’s central and Deh Rawood districts.

Source: Khaama Press

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/man-kills-nine-members-of-his-family-in-nimruz-province-68485/

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A Journalist in Kapisa Province Goes Missing; RSF Asks the Taliban to Provide “Explanations”

By Saqalain Eqbal

13 Jun 2022

The provincial office of the Afghanistan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) in Kapisa province reports that Abdul Hanan Mohammadi, the association’s provincial deputy, has disappeared after receiving threats.

The Afghanistan Independent Journalists Association released a statement on Monday, June 13th, stating that the association’s provincial representative had gone missing from the Hessa Awal area of Kapisa since yesterday noon.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has also tweeted today on June 13, denouncing “increase in arbitrary arrests of journalists”, while asking the Taliban “to provide explanations”.

Abdul Hanan Mohammadi was previously threatened by the Taliban, according to a relative of Hanan Mohammadi who spoke to the media on the condition of anonymity.

He stated that the missing journalist was most certainly detained by the Taliban.

The association demanded that local Taliban authorities in Kapisa be held accountable and that Hanan Mohammadi’s fate be clarified.

Source: Khaama Press

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/a-journalist-in-kapisa-province-goes-missing-reporters-without-borders-ask-the-taliban-to-provide-explanations-68759/

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Arab World

 

Saudi Arabia’s normalization with Israel poses direct threat to Lebanon: Senior Hezbollah official

13 June 2022

A senior official from the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement has censured Saudi Arabia’s back-channel attempts to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel, emphasizing that the establishment of ties between Riyadh and Tel Aviv regimes will constitute a direct threat to Lebanon.

“Resistance is a strategic necessity to deter the [Israeli] enemy and support the country, its dignity and wealth. Close relations between Saudi Arabia and the Zionist regime pose a direct threat to Lebanon, Palestine, Syria as well as all honorable nations,” Sheikh Nabil Qaouk, the deputy chief of Hezbollah's executive council, said at a ceremony in the southern Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil on Monday.

Back on May 30, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the Tel Aviv regime is coordinating with the United States and Persian Gulf nations on a process to normalize and establish full diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia.

“We believe that it is possible to have a normalization process with Saudi Arabia. It’s in our interest,” Lapid told Army Radio.

“We’ve already said that this is the next step after the [so-called] Abraham Accords to talk about a long and careful process,” he added, referring to the 2020 normalization deals that Israel reached with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan under former US president Donald Trump.

Lapid warned that the process of normalization with Saudi Arabia would be a lengthy one with progress coming in small steps, asserting that both sides have security interests at stake.

Elsewhere in his remarks on Monday, Sheikh Qaouk underscored that the United States is hell-bent on placing intolerable economic and financial burdens on Lebanon in order to bring the country to its knees in the face of Israeli demands.

He went on to blame the United States for the worsening crises in Lebanon, stating that problems have gotten worse in the cash-strapped Arab country due to submission to US demands.

The Hezbollah official noted that insistence on pleading for US support has spiraled Lebanon's financial crisis out of control, and sank the country into economic collapse.

“Following the [May 15] parliamentary elections, Lebanon has a real opportunity ahead of itself to tread the path towards a real and effective solution. The roadmap starts with quicker formation of a new government as time once lost cannot be regained. Lebanese people are really fed up with divisions and discords. They want to see faster process aimed at salvaging the country,” Sheikh Qaouk pointed out.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/06/13/683845/Saudi-Arabia%E2%80%99s-normalization-with-Israel-presents-direct-threat-to-Lebanon--Top-Hezbollah-official

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Israel drawing on normalization deals to attack Syria, carry out assassinations in Iran: Top Hamas official

13 June 2022

A high-ranking official with the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement has censured Arab states over signing normalization agreements with Israel, stressing that the Tel Aviv regime is exploiting the deals in order to press ahead with its attacks on Syria and assassinate Iranian scientists and military forces.

Khalil al-Hayya, deputy chief of the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip, made the remarks in an interview with the Arabic-language and Palestinian television channel al-Aqsa TV.

Hayya strongly condemned the latest Israeli missile attack on the Damascus International Airport, stressing the need for preserving the unity of the Syrian nation as well as the Arab country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

He stated that Israel keeps attacking Syria because it has not followed in the footsteps of some Arab states in normalizing ties with the regime.

“The occupiers have failed to subdue Syria,” the senior Hamas official pointed out.

Hayya expressed hope that Syria would finally return to its leading role in the Middle East region.

The top Hamas official added that the Tel Aviv regime, by exploiting normalization agreements, is plundering Lebanon’s natural resources, bombing Damascus airport, and carrying out assassinations inside Iran.

He argued that Israel’s Judaization plans in the occupied Old City of al-Quds, its settlements expansion activities, and missile strikes have all increased dramatically in the aftermath of normalization deals.

“The Zionist enemy must neither be an ally nor a friend of any Muslim or Arab country. The occupying regime poses dangers to the region and threatens its security and stability,” the Hamas official said.

Hayya went on to underline the need for resistance against Israel, stating that the Tel Aviv regime must take full responsibility for potential repercussions of not lifting the brutal siege on the Gaza Strip.

“Gaza plays an important role in the Palestinian cause as it is paying the price for standing up for and defending al-Aqsa Mosque,” the Hamas official said.

He also warned of impending dangers to al-Quds and the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, saying Israeli officials are seeking to build a synagogue inside the sacred site and forcibly expel all guardians of al-Quds and al-Aqsa Mosque.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/06/13/683831/Israel-exploiting-normalizations-attack-Syria-assassinate-Iranians

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Shia coalition says to pursue government formation talks in Iraq

Mustafa M. M. Haboush  

13.06.2022

BAGHDAD

A coalition of Iran-backed Shia parties said Monday it will continue talks for the formation of a new Iraqi government, one day after the resignation of lawmakers loyal to firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

In a statement, the Coordination Framework said it respects the decision of the Sadrist bloc to resign from the Iraqi Parliament.

The coalition said it will seek to ensure a wider participation of the Iraqi groups "to complete the constitutional obligations and form a national government."

On Sunday, lawmakers from al-Sadr’s bloc resigned after the Shia leader asked them to step down amid a prolonged stalemate over the government formation.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/shia-coalition-says-to-pursue-government-formation-talks-in-iraq/2612913

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Kuwait to Deport Expats Who Took Part in Fahaheel Demonstration

Jun 13, 2022

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait will be deporting expats who took part in the Fahaheel demonstration after Friday prayers in support of Prophet Muhammad despite the instructions of the Kuwaiti government.

The sources confirmed on Sunday that they will be deported from Kuwait as they violated the laws and regulations of the country which stipulates that sit-ins or demonstrations by expats are not to be organized in Kuwait, reported Arab Times.

Instructions were issued to arrest and bring in expats from the Fahaheel area who organized the demonstration defying Kuwaiti government instructions.

The detectives are in the process of arresting them and referring them to the deportation centre to be deported to their countries and will be banned from entering Kuwait again, reports Al Rai.

All expats in Kuwait must respect Kuwait laws and not take part in any type of demonstrations, said the instructions.

India had earlier told Kuwait that it had taken strong action against those who made controversial remarks on Twitter against the minorities.

In response to a media query regarding the statement issued by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs on offensive tweets in India, the Spokesperson of the Embassy of India in Kuwait said, "Ambassador Sibi George had a meeting in the Foreign Office in which concerns were raised with regard to some offensive tweets by individuals in India."

Strong action has already been taken against those who made derogatory remarks. A statement was also issued by concerned quarters emphasizing respect for all religions, denouncing insult to any religious personality or demeaning any religion or sect. Vested interests that are against India-Kuwait relations have been inciting the people using these derogatory comments.

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday suspended its spokesperson Nupur Sharma from the party's primary membership and expelled its Delhi media head Naveen Kumar Jindal after their alleged inflammatory remarks against minorities. “Ambassador conveyed that the tweets do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the Government of India. These are the views of fringe elements," said the spokesperson.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/kuwait-to-deport-expats-who-took-part-in-fahaheel-demonstration/articleshow/92173488.cms

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Saudi Arabia adopts online registration for Haj to combat scams

June 14, 2022

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has required would-be Haj pilgrims from many Western countries to apply for visas via a government portal online, a move intended to crack down on “fake” travel agencies, officials said on Monday.

The new system was put in place as the kingdom prepares to welcome 850,000 Muslims from abroad for the annual Haj after two years during which pilgrims not already in Saudi Arabia were barred because of Covid pandemic restrictions.

It applies to the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe and Australia, said one of the officials.

Previously, pilgrims could register via travel agencies that organised Haj trips, a system that sometimes led to scams, with “fake agencies” making off with victims’ money, a second official said.

Saudi Arabia announced in April it would permit one million Muslims from inside and outside the country to participate in this year’s Haj.

State media announced the online portal a week ago, and the registration period ended Monday, the Haj ministry said on Twitter. Those who registered will be included in a lottery for Haj visas.

One official acknowledged that some Muslims in the affected countries may have already tried to register via travel agencies, before the online portal was announced.

He said they would also be included in the lottery — which has not been scheduled — provided they had booked via an agency accredited by the hajj ministry.

Mask rules

This year’s pilgrimage will be limited to vaccinated Muslims under the age of 65, the Haj ministry has said.

Those coming from outside Saudi Arabia are required to submit a negative Covid-19 PCR result from a test taken within 72 hours of travel.

Saudi Arabia said it would no longer require masks in most enclosed spaces, citing progress in fighting the pandemic.

However, masks will still be required in Grand Mosque, which surrounds the Kaaba, and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina, according to a report published by the official Saudi Press Agency, citing an interior ministry source.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1694747/saudi-arabia-adopts-online-registration-for-haj-to-combat-scams

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Caribbean passports most invested in by UAE residents seeking dual citizenship

14 June, 2022

Caribbean passports Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Grenada are among the most invested in passports by residents in the UAE seeking dual citizenship, according to a Dubai-based passport advisory.

These passports are attractive due to the many incentives they offer, including citizenship-by-investment programs, visa-free access to over 160 countries, and certain tax exemptions, the firm said in a statement on Tuesday.

Lebanese, Syrian, Nigerian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi nationals were among the top five nationalities investing in second citizenships, all for various reasons, the most common of which is the difficulty in traveling posed by the lack of visa-free access to many countries.

“We have witnessed a steady increase in people investing in passports, particularly in the last couple of years after the pandemic and have had very positive feedback in terms of foreign investment from all of our clients, which is a great sign and a testament to the importance of investing in a second passport,” said the Swiss boutique advisory’s founder and CEO Jeffrey Henseler.

A noteworthy trend in the citizenship-by-investment space is the use of cryptocurrency to invest in passports, which has been continuously growing in the UAE over the past six months as it allows for immediate, secure and hassle-free payment without needing to provide bank documentation.

“We also believe that the evolution of this industry in terms of now being able to invest in second citizenship by using cryptocurrency as a transaction will only add to its popularity, especially with the benefits that it provides, especially to the countries that are currently facing financial and security risk issues,” Henseler added.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2022/06/14/Caribbean-passports-most-invested-in-by-UAE-residents-seeking-dual-citizenship

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Mideast

 

Secular Turks Fear Immigrant-Fuelled Islamist Wave

Abigail R. Esman

14.06.22

At any dinner party conversation, the refrain is practically the same.

"It's the immigrants," someone will say.

"It's the refugees."

"There are too many."

"Too many."

"They are trying to change our culture."

"This is my country – my beautiful country. They don't belong here."

They sound like the dialogues you'd hear among white supremacists in America or Marine Le Pen supporters at the best restaurants of Paris. But they are among Turkey's liberal, secular intelligentsia, unapologetically concerned about a growing Islamization of their country.

"If this makes me racist, then I'm a racist," one woman told me.

And it isn't just the intelligentsia – the art dealers, the university professors, the U.S.-educated architects and doctors. It's the shopkeepers, the taxi drivers, the merchants at the Grand Bazaar. "The immigrants," they tell each other, and they nod.

Around 4 million refugees live in Turkey now, most of them escapees from Syria's 11-year-old civil war. Others – as many as 500,000 – have come more recently from Afghanistan, new arrivals since the Taliban took power in August. And then there are the "visitors" from North Africa and Pakistan who simply overstayed their visas. Now, with the Turkish economy hitting 70 percent inflation, and unemployment rising as fast as housing prices and the cost of a loaf of bread, Turkish citizens have had enough.

"Babies!" a friend exclaims. "They keep having babies!" A taxi driver in his late 20s tells me refugees produced 750,000 children last year – a figure he may or may not have pulled from thin air – "and they are all automatically Turkish. It has to stop. They have to leave."

That sentiment – noticeably more vehement on a recent visit than it was even just last November -- has not just captured the country's front-pageheadlines. It has transformed the outlook for next year's presidential and parliamentary elections, events made the more momentous by the fact that 2023 marks the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic. Many believe that the election will decide the fate of Kemal Ataturk's vision for the country that he founded, and his hopes for a Western, secular democracy to flourish where Ottoman sultans once held theocratic rule.

As it is, Ataturk's vision has already been strained for two decades under the autocratic rule of Turkey's Islamist president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has slowly worked to return the country to its religious Islamic roots. Now, with the current refugee and concurrent economic crises, the question of Turkey's future has become more salient than ever.

It is no coincidence that the rising nationalism and a anti-immigrant fervor come at a time of economic difficulty for the country: the two frequently – and historically -- go hand-in-hand, feeding racism and national sentiment everywhere in the world. But in Turkey, the situation seems especially hot. In Istanbul, scarfless Turkish women wince at the sight of foreigners in hijab. Men complain about the Syrian workers threatening their jobs.

Erdogan "has made contradictory statements over Ankara's refugee policy, which has long been criticized by opposition parties," Ahval Newspoints out.

He simultaneously is promising to provide housing in Idlib and elsewhere in northern Syria -- where Turkey holds political sway -- and assuring Syrians in Turkey that they are welcome to stay if they want. The reality, Ahval News adds, is that "a massive return to Syria for Turkey's migrant population is out of the question for now as Ankara and Syrian President Bashar Assad cannot reach a agreement until Turkey leaves the occupied areas in northern Syria."

Consequently, politicians promising to make repatriation happen are gaining popular support, even among former Erdogan supporters.

Umit Ozdag, a rising far-right politician and founder of the nationalist Victory party, promises to send Syrians back home despite the realities in international law and humanitarianism that would make that nearly impossible. Others, like opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu propose a gradual, but more practical, repatriation policy.

Moreover, Idlib remains unsafe, with scarce water and destroyed infrastructure; and the European Council on Foreign Relations has noted that there is no certainty that terrorist groups like Hay'at Tahrir al Sham or ISIS will not re-emerge there.

Compounding the problem is the fact that Syrian refugees are willing to work for lower wages. They may be taking jobs from Turkish nationals, but hiring Turks will mean raising prices – unthinkable at a time of so much inflation and the continuing crumbling of the Turkish lira. The currency has plunged from six liras to the dollar in January 2020 to 15.4 to the dollar earlier this month.

But this also goes well beyond the economy. The educated – and largely secular – classes, according to a political expert I spoke with, are leaving the country as fast as lesser-educated, more religious immigrants are coming in. The source, who asked not to be named, noted that many of these more religious immigrants are forming their own communities with high crime rates and gangs. A drive through many of these neighborhoods testifies to this: few Turks live on these streets, and drug dealers on the sidewalks late at night have made them perilous areas, especially for women. Many harass secular Turkish women, many of whom wear often revealing European designer fashions.

"They are not like us," a friend says. "They have different customs, different languages. We cannot absorb them, and they don't want to be absorbed. They want us to become like them."

When I tell her that this is exactly what Europeans say about Turkish guest workers who emigrated there, she shrugs. "It is a huge problem for us," she says.

In some ways I understand her, and agree. Turkey is a Muslim-majority country. But it was founded on principles of secularism. A deeply religious refugee population that is not only subsidized by taxes, but is likely to sway an already-delicate balance of the country towards devout conservative Islam could destroy much that Turkey has achieved, and indeed the entire legacy of Ataturk, whom the Turkish people still revere as almost holy.

At the same time, Turks' concern about assimilation and the influx of religious Syrians, Afghans and others points to how profound the problem could become, moving beyond Turkey's borders and into the rest of Europe.

As Syrians and other foreigners face growing violence and discrimination, some argue that many will choose to head towards Europe instead of to their homeland – aided by traffickers, if necessary.

Moreover, it was at the urging of European leaders (and a €6 billion payment) that Erdogan blocked the borders for Syrian refugees seeking to travel from Turkey into the EU. As a result, immigrant sentiment in Turkey has also boiled over into resentment of Europe: according to my political source, "Turkey is becoming a warehouse of immigrants. People see that Europe is paying money to Turkey to keep all immigrants in Turkey and stop them from going to Europe." Indeed,

"Europe needs to do its share. They stuck us with this" is an oft-repeated complaint.

All of which leaves Turkey – and potentially Europe – at a critical turning point. Looking toward next year's elections, it's clear that Erdogan is truly vulnerable for the first time in his 22 years in power. His poll numbers already suffer from the country's economic woes. At the same time, should he be re-elected and the immigrant problem continue, it is Turkey's secularism that will be most at risk.

Source: Israel National News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.israelnationalnews.com/news/354861

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Iran says scale-backs on nuclear commitments ‘reversible’

13 June, 2022

Iran said Monday that all measures it has taken to roll back on its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers are “reversible.”

“If the agreement is finalized in Vienna tomorrow, all the measures carried out by Iran are technically reversible,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters.

Iran on Wednesday said it had disconnected some UN nuclear watchdog cameras monitoring its nuclear site.

The move came as a resolution was adopted by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors censuring the Islamic republic for its lack of cooperation.

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said Thursday his agency had been informed that 27 cameras were being removed, leaving about 40 still in place.

He warned that the move could deal a “fatal blow” to negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear accord, stalled since March.

Iran meanwhile says the disconnected cameras were not part of a safeguards agreement with the IAEA.

Iran “is fully honoring its commitments under the safeguards agreement”, Khatibzadeh said, adding that the country has only “stopped some of the voluntary measures.”

“All of the safeguard cameras of the Islamic Republic of Iran are in place; all of the measures it has been undertaking under the supervision of the IAEA are in place,” he added.

The talks in the Austrian capital, which began in April last year, aim to return the US to the nuclear deal, including through the lifting of sanctions on Iran, and to ensure Tehran’s full compliance with its commitments under the agreement.

The deal known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program to guarantee that it could not develop a nuclear weapon -- something Tehran has always denied wanting to do.

But the US unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018 and reimposed severe economic sanctions, prompting Iran to begin rolling back on its own commitments.

Khatibzadeh said the on-off dialogue in Vienna can yield results if the US “puts aside the delusion of using leverage” and “accepts to fully meet its commitments under the JCPOA and UN resolution 2231” which supports it.

“What we are focusing on is that this agreement becomes operational and is signed, and this is possible if the US changes its approach and manner,” he added.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/06/13/Iran-says-scale-backs-on-nuclear-commitments-reversible-

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Possible successor to Abbas warns Israel, but works with it

14 June, 2022

Hussein al-Sheikh, a senior Palestinian official increasingly seen as a successor to the 86-year-old President Mahmoud Abbas, says relations with Israel have gotten so bad that Palestinian leaders cannot go on with business as usual.

But even if they are serious this time around, they have few options. And they appear unlikely to do anything that undermines their own limited power in parts of the occupied West Bank, which largely stems from their willingness to cooperate with Israel.

In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press on Monday, al-Sheikh defended the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, saying it was doing the best it could under the difficult circumstances of Israel’s 55-year-old military occupation. As the point man in charge of dealing with Israel, he said there is no choice but to cooperate to meet the basic needs of Palestinians.

“I am not a representative for Israel in the Palestinian territories,” he said. “We undertake the coordination because this is the prelude to a political solution for ending the occupation.”

Al-Sheikh saw his profile rise further last month after Abbas named him the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The appointment has generated speculation that al-Sheikh is being groomed for the top job — as well as criticism that the autocratic Abbas, who has not held a nationwide election since 2006, is once again ignoring the wishes of his people.

Al-Sheikh, 61, declined to say whether he wants to succeed Abbas. He said the next president should be chosen through elections, but that they could only be held if Israel allows voting in all of east Jerusalem, effectively giving it a veto over any alternative leadership.

“The Palestinian president cannot be appointed, or come to power by force, or come because of some regional or international interest, or arrive on an Israeli tank,” he said.

Al-Sheikh recited a familiar litany of complaints: Israel’s government is beholden to right-wing nationalists, its prime minister opposed to Palestinian statehood. Settlements are expanding, Palestinians are being forcibly relocated, and the US and Europe seem powerless to stop it.

“The Palestinian leadership is on the verge of making major and difficult decisions,” al-Sheikh said, when asked about Abbas’ threat to cut security ties or even withdraw recognition of Israel, a cornerstone of the Oslo peace process in the 1990s.

“We have no partner in Israel. They don’t want a two-state solution. They don’t want to negotiate.”

But the Israelis meet with al-Sheikh all the time.

As head of the Palestinian body that coordinates Israeli permits — and a close aide to Abbas — he meets with senior Israeli officials more often than any other Palestinian.

Israeli officials view him as “a very, very positive player in the Palestinian arena,” said Michael Milshtein, an Israeli expert on Palestinian affairs who used to advise COGAT, the military body in charge of civilian affairs in the West Bank.

“Because of his close relations with Israel, he can achieve a lot of positive things for the Palestinian people,” including permits and development projects, he said. But most Palestinians “cannot really accept this kind of image of a Palestinian leader who actually is the one who serves Israel’s interest.”

Al-Sheikh’s career follows the trajectory of his generation of Palestinian leaders — aspiring revolutionaries transformed into local power brokers by the failed, decades-long peace process.

His official biography says he was imprisoned by Israel from 1978-1989 and took part in the first intifada, or uprising against Israeli rule, upon his release. After the Palestinians secured limited self-rule in Gaza and parts of the occupied West Bank through the 1993 Oslo agreements, al-Sheikh joined the nascent security forces, rising to the level of colonel. He says he was a wanted man during the second and more violent intifada in the early 2000s.

He is a lifelong member of Fatah, a movement launched by Yasser Arafat in the late 1950s. Today Fatah dominates the PLO, which is supposed to represent all Palestinians, and the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the West Bank and cooperates with Israel on security.

Abbas, who was elected in 2005 after Arafat’s death, is opposed to armed struggle and committed to a two-state solution. But during his 17 years in power the peace process has become a distant memory, the Palestinians have been split politically and geographically by the rift with the group Hamas, and the PA has become increasingly unpopular.

Diana Buttu, a Palestinian lawyer who used to advise the PA, said Abbas believes “that the future of the Palestinian people is tied up to him as an individual,” surrounding himself with loyalists who won’t challenge him.

Abbas called off the first elections in 15 years in April 2021, a vote in which his Fatah party was widely expected to suffer a humiliating defeat. He said he was delaying the vote until Israel explicitly allowed voting in all of east Jerusalem. But only a small number of voters in the city require Israeli permission, and the PA refused to consider alternative arrangements.

Israel annexed east Jerusalem in a move not recognized internationally and views the entire city as its unified capital. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem — which includes major holy sites sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims — to be the capital of their future state.

“If the price of elections is that I concede on Jerusalem, it is impossible. You won’t find a single Palestinian who will agree to that,” al-Sheikh said.

That may be true, but it could also effectively prevent the Palestinians from replacing the current leadership, leaving it entrenched for years to come.

Dimitri Diliani, a senior member of Fatah who supports an anti-Abbas faction, said none of the president’s inner circle are electable, pointing to recent polls showing that nearly 80 percent of Palestinians want Abbas to resign.

Diliani described al-Sheikh as “an active, smart person,” a pragmatist who seizes opportunities — but who was also short-sighted. “Abu Mazen is a sinking ship, and whoever is on it is going down with him,” Diliani said.

Still, al-Sheikh has a unique lever of power that could prove more important than electability — access to Israeli permits.

He has been in charge of the General Authority of Civil Affairs since 2007. That’s where Palestinians must apply if they want to enter Israel for work, family visits or medical care; to import or export anything; or to get national ID cards.

“If you need anything, absolutely anything, in Palestine, he’s your go-to man. He’s actively hated among Palestinians, but he’s also very, very much needed for that reason,” said Tahani Mustafa, a Palestinian analyst at the International Crisis Group.

“If succession was to happen through legitimate channels, there’s no way Hussein al-Sheikh would withstand a popular vote,” she said. “If you are to impose that kind of leadership on Palestinians, then absolutely you are going to face pushback.”

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/06/14/Possible-successor-to-Abbas-warns-Israel-but-works-with-it

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Israel urges its citizens in Istanbul to leave, heightening travel warning

13 June, 2022

Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Monday urged citizens in Turkey to leave “as soon as possible” over threats that Iranian operatives are actively planning attacks on Israelis in Istanbul.

“It’s a real and immediate danger,” Lapid told a meeting of lawmakers from his Yesh Atid party, citing “several Iranian attempts at carrying out terror attacks against Israelis on holiday in Istanbul.”

“If you are already in Istanbul, return to Israel as soon as possible,” Lapid said. “If you have planned a flight to Istanbul -- cancel. No vacation is worth your life,” he added.

“Do not fly to Turkey at all,” unless such travel is “essential,” the foreign minister added.

Iran and Israel are arch rivals and Tehran has accused the Jewish state of carrying out a series of assassinations targeting senior Iranian nuclear and military personnel.

Most recently, Iran claimed that Israel was responsible for the killing of Revolutionary Guards Colonel Sayyad Khodai, who was shot dead outside his Tehran home on May 22.

Lapid made no reference to any alleged Israeli operations inside Iran.

But he said that some Israelis who recently travelled to Turkey had returned “without knowing their lives were saved.”

The alleged attackers were targeting Israeli citizens “in order to kidnap them or kill them,” Lapid said.

Earlier Monday, Israel’s public broadcaster Kan reported on Iranian plans to kidnap Israelis in Turkey a month ago, which was thwarted after Israel alerted Ankara about the threat.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/06/13/Israel-urges-its-citizens-in-Istanbul-to-leave-heightening-travel-warning

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Iran defence ministry says ‘employee’ killed amid series of mysterious deaths

13 June, 2022

An “employee” of Iran’s defense ministry was killed on Sunday while “on duty,” the ministry said on Monday, the latest in a series of mysterious deaths of Iranian military personnel in recent weeks.

Mohammad Abdous was “martyred” Sunday evening while “on duty” in the north-central province of Semnan, the defense ministry said in a statement carried by state media.

The statement described Abdous as an “employee” of the defense ministry and gave no further details on his role or how he was killed.

The defense ministry’s statement contradicted earlier reports by Iranian state media which said Abdous was a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ aerospace unit.

Fars, an IRGC-affiliated news agency, said early Monday that Abdous and Ali Kamani were martyred “on duty” in two separate incidents on Sunday, describing both of them as members of the IRGC’s aerospace unit.

The deaths of Abdous and Kamani are the latest in a series of mysterious deaths of Iranians associated with the country’s military in recent weeks.

On May 22, IRGC colonel Sayyad Khodaei was assassinated in a gun attack in the capital Tehran. Iran blamed Israel for his killing and vowed to take revenge. It was the most-high profile assassination inside Iran since the 2020 killing of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, which Tehran also blamed on Israel.

Iran does not recognize Israel and has in the past accused it of attacking nuclear facilities and carrying out assassinations inside Iran.

On May 26, Iran’s defense ministry said that an “accident” at the Parchin military complex near Tehran killed Ehsan Ghadbeigi, an “engineer.” The New York Times later reported that Ghadbeigi had been killed in a suspected Israeli drone strike.

On May 31, aerospace engineer Ayoob Entezari died under suspicious circumstances. Israeli media reported that he was poisoned at a dinner party. He worked Iran’s missile and drone programs, according to Israeli media reports.

On June 3, state news agency IRNA reported that another IRGC colonel, Ali Esmailzadeh, died in an “incident” at his home.

IRNA’s report came hours after Iran International, a London-based, Persian-language satellite news channel reported, citing unnamed sources, that the IRGC killed Esmailzadeh after he was suspected of espionage.

While confirming Esmailzadeh’s death, IRNA denied Iran International’s report that the IRGC was behind his killing, describing the report as “a psychological war and false news.”

Iran International reported that Esmailzadeh died “after falling from the roof of his house” in the city of Karaj, west of the capital Tehran. IRGC officials told Esmailzadeh’s family that he committed suicide, according to the report.

Esmailzadeh was a “close associate” of Khodaei, the report said.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/06/13/Iran-defense-ministry-says-employee-killed-amid-series-of-mysterious-deaths

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UN commission on Palestine seeks new ways to get Israel to comply with int'l law

Peter Kenny

14.06.2022

GENEVA

The United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory said Monday that the global community must urgently explore new ways of ensuring Israel’s compliance with international law.

Former UN Human Rights commissioner Navi Pillay addressed the Human Rights Council with the commission’s first report on the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel.

“It is our strong view too that the continued occupation of the Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem and Gaza, the 15-year blockade of Gaza, and longstanding discrimination within Israel are all linked and cannot be looked at in isolation,” she said.

“Given a clear refusal by Israel to take concrete measures to implement the findings and recommendations of past commissions, the international community must urgently explore new ways of ensuring compliance with international law.”

The former South African jurist said the international community had failed to take meaningful measures to ensure Israel’s compliance with international law and influence it to bring an end to the occupation.

Pillay said the state of “perpetual occupation” of Palestine and longstanding discrimination in both Israel and Palestine is a core underlying root cause of the ongoing violence.

“Threats of forced displacement, demolitions, settlement construction and expansion, settler violence and the blockade of Gaza have all contributed to and will continue to contribute to cycles of violence,” said the former rights chief.

She said the reality enduring for decades brings a general sense of despair and hopelessness within the Palestinian population in Palestine, Israel and the diaspora.

“They are left without hope of a better future that affords them their full range of human rights, without discrimination,” said Pillay.

She said the ongoing situation of occupation and discrimination is used by Palestinian “duty-bearers” to justify their violations and abuses of international law, including the failure of the Palestinian Authority to hold legislative and presidential elections.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/un-commission-on-palestine-seeks-new-ways-to-get-israel-to-comply-with-intl-law/2612983

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PM Shtayyeh calls for international front to end Israeli occupation of Palestinian land

13 June 2022

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has strongly criticized Israel for violating all norms of international law, calling for establishment of an international front to pressure the regime into ending its decades-long occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Shtayyeh made the remarks during a meeting with visiting Assistant State Secretary of the Swiss Foreign Ministry Maya Tissafi, Palestine's official Wafa news agency reported on Monday.

Shtayyeh strongly censured Israel for not abiding by the internationally recognized agreements and conventions, and violating all norms of international law.

The premier also called upon the international community to intervene immediately, and force the occupying regime into stopping "acts of violence" against Palestinians and their communities.

Shtayyeh and the Swiss official also discussed ways to strengthen bilateral relations, which could contribute to creating job opportunities for Palestinians and energizing economic development across Palestinian territories.

The meeting comes after Norway recently adopted a strict labeling scheme to identify products that come from the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories; a move that has infuriated the Tel Aviv regime.

Norway is not an EU member, but is part of the European Single Market. It is also part of the European Free Trade Association, a four-country organization that inked a free trade deal with the occupying regime in 1992. Switzerland is also not an EU member, but is part of the single market.

Last November, in a similar move, Belgium decided to label products made in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, citing Brussels’ desire "to ensure human rights in the West Bank.”

The European Commission recommended its member states to follow the labeling scheme in 2015, a decision confirmed by the European Court of Justice in 2019.

Late last month, the EU deplored the Israeli regime’s plans for the construction of nearly 4,500 new illegal settler units in the West Bank, calling on Tel Aviv to reverse the decision.

More than 750,000 Israelis occupy over 250 illegal settlements built since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state, with East al-Quds as its capital.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/06/13/683842/Palestine-Shtayyeh-Israel-Swiss-Maya-Tissafi-Norway-

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Africa

 

Tunisia's Ennahdha warns against dropping Islam from constitution

13 June, 2022

Tunisia's Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party warned Monday against dropping references to Islam in a new constitution set to go to referendum next month.

The new constitution is the centrepiece of reform plans by President Kais Saied, who last July sacked the government and suspended parliament, before later dissolving the legislature.

Ennahdha was parliament's biggest party and a key player in the government dismissed in the president's power grab.

A legal expert charged with rewriting the 2014 constitution told AFP last week he would present Saied with a draft stripped of any reference to religion, in order to further weaken the influence of Islamist parties.

Sadeq Belaid said that would include erasing the first article, which says Tunisia is "a free, independent and sovereign state, Islam is its religion and Arabic is its language".

"If you use religion to engage in political extremism, we will not allow that," he said.

In a statement on Monday, Ennahdha warned "against attempts to attack the fundamental principles of the people, its Arab and Islamic identity and the civilian nature of the state".

Ennahdha was the dominant force in Tunisian politics after the country's 2011 revolution, which deposed longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and set in motion the Arab Spring.

The 2014 constitution was seen as a compromise between Ennahdha and its secular rivals.

The new draft, due to be put to the people on July 25 - the anniversary of Saied's power grab - has yet to be published but is expected to boost the president's powers vis-a-vis parliament.

Article one of the 2014 constitution also appeared in Tunisia's first constitution in 1959, after its independence from France.

Ennahdha on Monday warned against "revisiting questions that were settled by the people since independence".

It also deplored "cheap and dangerous attempts to instrumentalise these issues against dissenters".

Source: The New Arab

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alaraby.co.uk/news/ennahdha-warns-against-dropping-islam-constitution

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Somali military kills at least 12 al-Shabaab terrorists

Mohammed Dhaysane  

13.06.2022

MOGADISHU, Somalia

Somali national army on Monday said it had conducted an operation against the al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group al-Shabaab in the central Hiran region, killing at least 12 al-Shabaab terrorists.

The operation conducted by elite soldiers took place near the town of Matabaan in the central region of Hiran late Sunday.

"12 Al-Shabab terrorists were killed in operation conducted by Somali National Army near Qabdho village under Mataban district of Hiran region in the past 24 hours," the Somali National News Agency reported.

Brig. Gen. Odowa Yusuf Rageh, the Somali national army commander who spoke to the army radio, confirmed the operation, saying the main aim was to destroy terrorists' hideouts and prevent their plots.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/somali-military-kills-at-least-12-al-shabaab-terrorists/2612453

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Moroccan sentenced to death in Donetsk has Ukrainian nationality, not a mercenary: Father

June 13, 2022

RABAT: The father of a Moroccan man sentenced to death by a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) on mercenary charges said his son should be treated as a prisoner of war as he is a Ukrainian national who handed himself in voluntarily.

Morocco-born Brahim Saadoun and Britons Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner were found guilty of “mercenary activities and committing actions aimed at seizing power and overthrowing the constitutional order” of the DPR, Russian media said last week.

The three men were captured while fighting for Ukraine against Russia and Russian-backed forces.

The Moroccan fighter received Ukrainian nationality in 2020 after undergoing a year of military training as a requirement to access aerospace technology studies at a university in Kiev, his father Tahar Saadoun said in an email to Reuters.

He handed himself in “voluntarily” and should be treated as a “prisoner of war,” the father said.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2102521/world

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2023: Why Nigeria cannot contemplate Muslim-Muslim ticket – Former ACF scribe, Sani

June 13, 2022

By Agabus Pwanagba

A former Secretary-General of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Anthony Sani, has warned that a Muslim-Muslim ticket will not promote unity among the citizenry, saying the country is at moment divided along three major issues “ethnicity, religion and region”

He also said there is no way a presidential candidate can pick his own tribe, religion or someone from his region as a running mate.

Anthony Sani disclosed this during an interactive session with journalists in Jos, the Plateau State Capital on Monday.

He said, “I really don’t know why choosing a Vice President should be a problem or controversy, because the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is very clear, the provision for the federal character; it provides that no any group should predominate because such will not promote unity among the citizenry.

“And as far as Nigeria is concerned today, the dividing lines are three, which are ethnicity, religion and region and there is no way a president can pick his own tribe, religion or someone from his region.

“Therefore, if the President comes from the south, naturally the vice president will come from the north, and because religion is one of the key issues, the constitution expects that the running mate should be opposite of the president.

“In the case of Bola Tinubu of the APC, it is expected that he should choose his running mate from the north, who should be a Christian; and Tinubu has made it very clear that he is coming to unite the citizenry and not to divide them”, he explained.

“Also, in the case of Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, he can’t pick his VP from the north or a Muslim as a running mate, he is going to choose a southerner and a Christian.

“So, I’m not expecting Tinubu to pick a Muslim running mate as is been implied in some quotas”, he maintained.

On people like the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai comments on a Muslim-Muslim ticket, the former Spokesman of the Arewa Consultative Forum said, “I have heard El-Rufai talking about Muslim-Muslim ticket, and people are reacting; Kaduna State is not as diverse as Nigeria, Muslims are the majority in Kaduna, you can take both Governor and Deputy and it can succeed.

Sani who was a member of the 2014 National Conference said, “But given Nigeria of today, where there is serious division, no presidential candidate will try it. So I believe strongly that Tinubu is going to pick his running mate from the north and it is going to be a Christian.

He recalled that, in 1993, Moshood Abiola a southern Muslim picked Babagana Kingibe a northern Muslim his running mate and there was no issue but acknowledged that the times have changed.

Source: Daily Post Nigeria

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://dailypost.ng/2022/06/13/2023-why-nigeria-cannot-contemplate-muslim-muslim-ticket-former-acf-scribe-sani/

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Is Mali emerging as another front for Russia, West?

James Tasamba  

14.06.2022

KIGALI, Rwanda

As the Russia-Ukraine war continues to haunt the world, thousands of miles away in the West African country of Mali is emerging another front for escalation between Moscow and the West.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Ismael Buchanan, a senior lecturer at the department of political science at the University of Rwanda, said Moscow's geopolitical quest in West Africa and Mali's support to Russia in the Ukraine conflict depict Moscow’s success in the region with a potential to open new fault lines with France and other NATO allies in the region.

Mali was among 35 countries that abstained at the UN General Assembly, when it voted on a resolution, condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Paris and other European allies have been increasingly jittery over what they see as a Russian threat in West Africa,” said Buchanan.

In March, Russia delivered Mi-35M attack helicopters and an advanced air radar system to Mali. The delivery was in addition to at least four helicopters and weapons provided by Russia under closer ties with the junta leader.

Of even greater concern to the West is that Moscow sent to Mali “military instructors” personnel that France says are operatives from Russia’s Wagner security arm.

Recently French President Emmanuel Macron expressed concerns at the actions of the Russian private security service Wagner in Mali, and in particular about its alleged crimes against certain communities such as the Fulani.

While hosting Senegalese President Macky Sall who currently chairs the African Union (AU), in Paris, the French president urged to maintain “pressure” on the Malian government.

Moscow advancing interests

Buchanan said the more Moscow advances its interests in West Africa, the more it will come in conflict with the West and provoke a response.

“Mali would present another stage for a geopolitical showdown because there is no doubt that Russia will aggressively protect its interests in Mali,” he said.

He said Russia's presence in Mali is part of its renewed efforts to form a partnership with the African continent as it tries to lessen the impact of Western isolation.

Last year, the Malian army led by Vice President Assimi Goïta captured President Bah N'daw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane and stripped them of their powers. He had also committed to conducting new elections in 2022. But last week, it was announced that the transition to democracy will be delayed for another two years, as interim President Goïta, signed a decree prolonging the military rule.

“Looking at the current situation in Mali or the Sahel region, one may notice that Russia is attempting to portray itself as a reliable ally in the fight against insurgents/terrorists and bolster security partnership in that region while the Western attention turns elsewhere,” said Buchanan.

Freddie David Egesa, an Uganda-based security analyst, said President Vladimir Putin had realized that the West had lost interest in Mali, and he has positioned Russia to advance his interests.

“Russia is scavenging for other partners to hold power having realized that the West has played a double-dealer in the Sahel war. Russia has quietly been rebuilding ties with Africa strengthening economic and military cooperation. This has raised Western concerns about Russia’s goals there,” he said.

French withdrawal gives room to Russia

Other countries in West Africa where Russia has a presence included Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger.

The war in Mali which started in 2013 prompted French intervention, leading to the deployment of troops and the signing of two defense agreements.

Experts said the French involvement, however, triggered protests and offered an opportunity to Russia to present itself as an alternative force.

“I think France’s decision to withdraw its forces from the West African countries, including Mali, left a huge void that is why the Russians have seized every opportunity to boost their influence in Africa,” said Buchanan.

The result was military coups that followed, in August 2020 and May 2021.

According to analysts, the news of the French Interior Ministry and the cement giant Lafarge’s ties with the terrorist group Daesh/ISIS further complicated the situation.

Egesa said Russia has realized that the West has made itself rich by “staging themselves in almost all conflicts in Africa.”

“The fights benefit mainly the Western superpowers as they offer their war expertise and sell military equipment in exchange for valuables like gold, diamonds, etc.,” said Egesa.

In January, the regional bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed sanctions on Mali, including closing its land and air borders with other countries in the bloc to delay the restoration of democratic rule.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/is-mali-emerging-as-another-front-for-russia-west/2613050

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North America

 

Most American Muslims believe gun laws need to be stricter, says survey

13 June 2022

Most American Muslims believe gun control laws should be stricter, a new report by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (Ispu) has found.

According to the poll, 65 percent of Muslim respondents believe existing gun control laws need to be stricter, slightly higher than the 64 percent of Jews and Catholics that were polled.

Muslims are more likely than Protestants (54 percent), white Evangelicals (30 percent), and the general public (57 percent) to hold this view.

According to the survey, white Muslims were more likely than white Americans in the general public to believe gun laws should be stricter. But Black Muslims were more likely than Black Americans to believe laws covering the sale of firearms should be less strict.

The report, which will be released in full in August, comes just two weeks after 21 people, mostly children, were killed in a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

According to data from the Washington Post, more than 311,000 children in America have experienced gun violence in school since the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School. In that same period, 185 were killed and 369 were injured.

"All Americans are unfortunately impacted by gun violence, directly or indirectly. As our local, state and national leadership work to find effective solutions, public opinion is critical to understand," Meira Neggaz, Ispu's executive director, told Middle East Eye.

"Our work researching American Muslim opinions, in comparison to other groups in the country's faith landscape, uncovers that most groups and the majority of Americans are aligned in their concern about the current state of gun laws."

The shooting at the Texas elementary school, and another at a New York supermarket that left 10 Black people dead, have piled pressure on politicians to take action.

On Sunday, a group of senators reached a deal on a framework for gun control legislation that could be the most significant passed on the federal level in decades.

A centrepiece of the Senate deal is to provide substantial resources for states to implement "red flag" laws, which allow individuals like police or family members to petition courts to keep firearms away from people deemed a risk to themselves or others.

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said on Monday that he will bring the bill to a vote on the chamber's floor as soon as it is written.

"I will put this bill on the floor as soon as possible, once the text of the final agreement is finalized so the Senate can act quickly to make gun safety reform a reality," Schumer told the senate.

Source: Middle East Eye

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/american-muslims-say-gun-laws-need-be-stricter-shows-ispu-report

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Biden invites Pakistan envoy Masood Khan for ‘official photo’

June 14, 2022

WASHINGTON: Ambas­sador Masood Khan, Islam­abad’s representative in Wa­­shington, meets US Presi­dent Joe Biden on Monday evening, an appointment that will formalise his position as Pakistan’s envoy to the United States.

Ambassador Khan was sent to Washington on March 25, when the PTI government was still in power, but after Imran Khan’s ouster on April 11, there was speculation that the change in Islamabad would also impact diplomatic appointments.

But Pakistan’s envoy to the United Nations, Ambassador Munir Akram, later explained that incumbent ambassadors continue to represent the country in foreign capitals unless specifically asked by the new government to return home. Neither Ambassador Khan nor Ambassador Akram were asked to do so.

On his arrival, Ambassador Khan received a letter from the chief of protocol at the US State Department, endorsing his appointment as Pakistan’s ‘working ambassador’ in Washington.

Later, on April 19, he also received a letter from the US president’s office, formally confirming his appointment.

On Monday, he is expected to visit the White House for an official photo with the US president, which will be the final endorsement of his ambassadorship.

Usually, a new ambassador is invited to the White House, along with other new envoys, to present his or her credentials. This ceremony confirms an ambassador’s appointment.

But like so many other things, the Covid-19 pandemic has also affected this tradition. Since President Biden’s age, 79, makes him particularly vulnerable to the virus, the White House tries to minimise the president’s contact with others.

Diplomatic sources in Washington told Dawn that Covid-19 has also hit the credentials ceremony.
Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1694711/biden-invites-pakistan-envoy-masood-khan-for-official-photo

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US Air Force: Crew not at fault for Afghan deaths in evacuation

14 June, 2022

The Air Force has concluded that air crew members acted appropriately and were not at fault for some tragic deaths during the chaotic evacuation from Afghanistan last year, when desperate Afghans clung to a military plane as it was taking off and fell to their deaths or were caught in the wheels.

In a statement Monday, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said investigations into the deaths found that the crew “exercised sound judgment in their decision to get airborne as quickly as possible when faced with an unprecedented and rapidly deteriorating security situation.”

Video and other reports from that day vividly show Afghans mobbing the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, frantic to get out of the country when the Taliban seized control and US forces were withdrawing.

The C-17 transport plane was surrounded as it landed on the tarmac, and military officials have said the crew feared the plane would be overwhelmed, so they decided to take off.

As the plane lifted off, mobile phone video captured two tiny dots dropping from the aircraft.

It later became clear that the dots were Afghans who had tried to hide in the wheel well. As the wheels folded into the body of the plane, the stowaways faced the choice of being crushed to death or letting go and plunging to the ground.

Human remains were found in the wheel well when the plane landed at al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

“This was a tragic event and our hearts go out to the families of the deceased,” said Stefanek. She said the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations looked into the incident and then turned the scene over to Qatar authorities, who declined to investigate further.

“The aircrew’s airmanship and quick thinking ensured the safety of the crew and their aircraft,” said Stefanek. “After seeking appropriate care and services to help cope with any trauma from this unprecedented experience, the crew returned to flight status.”

It is still unclear how many were killed. Videos show the two dots falling from the airborne plane, several seconds apart. But two bodies landed on the same rooftop at the same time, suggesting they fell together, so the other figure seen falling in the videos could be at least one other person.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2022/06/14/US-Air-Force-Crew-not-at-fault-for-Afghan-deaths-in-evacuation

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Police Arrests Three Afghan Refugees for Killing Another Afghan in the US State of Virginia

By Saqalain Eqbal

14 Jun 2022

Three Afghan refugees have been arrested in the US state of Virginia for the murder of another Afghan, according to foreign media articles.

According to the site (NBC12), three Afghan refugees were apprehended for murder on Saturday evening, June 11, at a shopping mall by Virginia State Police.

Khalid Naseri, an Afghan refugee, was stabbed to death by three other Afghan refugees, according to the report.

Khalid Naseri, being at his 25s, was taken to hospital after being stabbed to death, where he died.

The killers’ identities have been disclosed by Virginia police, who say they have detained three people for murder: Nourzad Nassery, Homauoun Nassery, and Jahadullah Nassery.

Source: Khaama Press

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/police-arrests-three-afghan-refugees-for-killing-another-afghan-in-the-us-state-of-virginia-78658/

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UN official to discuss and resolve Afghan refugee crisis with Taliban

June 13, 2022

A visiting UN official will meet leaders of the Taliban-led government and discuss ways to resolve the Afghan refugee crisis and establish grounds for their return.

Upon her arrival in Kabul on Sunday, Kelly T. Clements, Deputy High Commissioner of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), tweeted: "In Afghanistan, humanitarian needs are immense, with millions of Afghans displaced. I'm in the country to advocate for support, including for those returning home, and the need to uphold their rights, especially of women and children and their ability to participate in public life."

In a separate statement, she said: "We will be talking over the course of the next days with the interim authorities about how we can support the needs of the Afghan people and how we can find solutions for those that are outside the country that want to come home and want to be able to rebuild their lives in peace and have an Afghanistan that is inclusive of all."

Afghanistan has been forgotten, TOLO News quoted the UN official as saying.

"This is a very important moment for this country and the people of Afghanistan, it is a time where the world's attention has turned to other situations of displacement, other war, other conflicts," she added.

According to the UNHCR, Afghan refugees are the third-largest displaced population in the world, following Syrian refugees and displaced Venezuelans.

There are 2.6 million registered Afghan refugees in the world, of whom 2.2 million are registered in Iran and Pakistan alone.

Source: Business Standard

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.business-standard.com/article/international/un-official-to-discuss-and-resolve-afghan-refugee-crisis-with-taliban-122061300170_1.html

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Europe

 

Muslim World League chief leads religious diplomacy push at Geneva summit

June 13, 2022

GENEVA: The Secretary-General of the Muslim World League has taken part in a summit of major international organizations to coordinate responses to accelerating global challenges.

The forum, held in Geneva, Switzerland, was launched under the title: “Cooperation between International Organizations in the Humanitarian Fields.”

It included — in addition to the MWL and the World Council of Churches — the World Health Organization, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNICEF, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the World Food Programme and a group of prominent international leaders in humanitarian work.

MWL Secretary-General Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa delivered the forum’s opening speech.

He expressed appreciation for the outstanding humanitarian efforts carried out by WHO in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and for other international governmental and nongovernmental organizations that carry out pioneering humanitarian work.

However, he expressed his regret that “humanitarian work has not reached the required level of solidarity and sympathy, and the gap between the rich and the poor remains wide, despite the existence of one international system.”

Al-Issa added: “We do not object to the existence of the rich and the poor, as this is the nature of life, but we call on the rich to alleviate the suffering of the poor by supporting them, especially with the necessities of life such as food, medicine and education.

“It is painful, for example, to see the rich obtain a COVID-19 vaccine while the poor do not get it, or do not get it until late, or get only some doses.

“There is also another reason that drives and even motivates humanitarian work, which is the religious aspect.”

The MWL chief described the religious motive “as one of the strongest, most vital and sustainable motivators of humanitarian action.”

He stressed that it is a faith motive linked to heaven, “and everything related to the creator, glory be to him, has a strong cord that is not affected by any emergency and cannot be severed.

“This is why we believe that voluntary work is one of the strongest pillars of the work of humanitarian organizations around the world, the most important of which is what is based on a religious motive related to the creator. Honest and abstract religious feelings heal wounds, quench thirst, feed the hungry, educate, train and sponsor orphans and widows.”

Al-Issa said: “It should be noted that it is important for the relevant international organizations to have performance measurements for countries in the field of humanitarian work, and they should honor public and private institutions, and individuals who have outstanding efforts in humanitarian work, whether in the field of food, health, education, training or others, including helping the marginalized and the abused, and those subjected to forced labor, particularly human trafficking crimes.”

He reviewed the efforts of the MWL in humanitarian work around the world, stressing that its premise is “faith and humanity without any discrimination,” religious or otherwise. He announced the MWL’s plan to launch an international award to promote the most important efforts in service of humanitarian work.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, called for support of medical workers to help them carry out their duties in saving the lives of refugees and displaced persons.

He said: “I grew up in a war zone, and the smell, sounds and scenes of war dominated my senses. I recall these painful memories every time I’m visiting a combat zone, and I wish that would stop immediately.”

The UNHCR speech, delivered by Kelly Clements, emphasized that peace is the “permanent cure for the displacement crisis,” as well as the cure for many of the hardships facing human beings today. Clements warned that the crisis of displaced people in the world is so huge that no organization can handle it alone.

Secretary-General of the WCC Rev. Prof. Dr. Ioan Sauca said that despite the importance of the work of international humanitarian agencies, national and local faith-based organizations are the vanguards and long-term foundations of humanitarian relief and development. He said that church members do not carry out humanitarian work for the sake of evangelization or other agendas, but to pursue their identity as Christians.

Jagan Chapagain, secretary-general of the IFRC, said that the availability of local leadership for humanitarian work is a vital issue, “and we saw how closures for health reasons and travel restrictions tied our hands in organizations, and the only bet was on local associations.”

He added that the challenges facing humanitarian work are not limited to wars and conflicts, but include climate change, economic collapse and discrimination in all its forms, in addition to the effects of COVID-19.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2102696/world

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Sweden has taken ‘important steps’ to meet Turkey’s demands: NATO’s Stoltenberg

13 June, 2022

Sweden has taken important steps to meet Turkey’s demands for approving Stockholm’s NATO membership application, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday during a visit to Sweden.

“I welcome that Sweden has already started to change its counter-terrorism legislation and that Sweden will ensure that the legal framework for arms export will reflect the future status as a NATO member with new commitments to allies,” Stoltenberg said during a press conference with Swedish Prime

Minister Magdalena Andersson.

On Sunday during a visit to Finland, Stoltenberg had said that the security concerns raised by Turkey in its opposition to Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership applications are legitimate.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2022/06/13/Sweden-has-taken-important-steps-to-meet-Turkey-s-demands-NATO-chief-Stoltenbe

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France begins military withdrawal from Mali

Shweta Desai  

14.06.2022

PARIS

France has started withdrawing its troops from Mali with the handover of the Menaka base to the Malian forces, the general staff of defense announced on Monday.

“The transfer was conducted in an orderly, safe and transparent manner. Focus on this important element of Barkhane operation which provided security in the Three Borders and Southern Liptako region,” the general staff said on Twitter.

The transfer is part of the framework set by President Emmanuel Macron in February in order to rearticulate the Barkhane Force outside Mali, a statement from the Defense Ministry said.

France had deployed an estimated 4,600 soldiers under Operation Barkhane which was launched in 2014 to fight terrorism in the G5 countries of Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Mauritania.

The French forces have now relocated the military logistics from Menaka to 1,340 kilometers (833 miles) away to the Projected Air Base (BAP) of Niamey in Niger, where it will continue anti-terrorism operations in the Sahel region.

The French army said it has invested several million euros in development projects for vital infrastructure, education, youth and health of the local population which supported the Barkhane Force to undertake the operations.

In April, after French troops handed over a military base at Gossi, the Malian army accused France of covering a “mass grave" on the premises. France denied the allegations.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/france-begins-military-withdrawal-from-mali/2613052

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Italy-Türkiye relations 'standing on very sound path': Envoy

Nazli Yuzbasioglu  

14.06.2022

The relationship between Italy and Türkiye is already "very good, it is standing on a very sound path," Italy's ambassador to Türkiye told Anadolu Agency.

Speaking in an exclusive interview, Giorgio Marrapodi underlined that the two countries have reached "an important, stunning goal" of $23 billion in mutual trade.

Noting that they are happy over reaching this goal, Marrapodi said it's time now to set a new target as Rome and Ankara can grow more and "build on this result."

"Because the work between the Turkish business community and the Italian business community is very positive. We have important investments in Türkiye and there are important Turkish companies which are investing in Italy and in the Italian economic sector," he said.

The envoy emphasized that there is currently a growing number of Turkish students who are choosing Italy as a destination for their studies, while this is similarly the case with Italian students who choose Turkish universities to study at.

"My commitment is to enhance bilateral relations between the two countries in order to reach new goals. And these should be also in line with what we have always done in the framework of the EU perspective of Türkiye," said Marrapodi.

"Italy has always been on the side of Ankara in this sector, and we have strongly supported Türkiye since the very beginning of the accession process," he added.

Türkiye has been an EU candidate country since 1999. Negotiations for full membership started in October 2005 but have stalled in recent years due to political hurdles erected by some countries, according to Türkiye.

Italy-Türkiye Intergovernmental Summit

Noting that the third Italy-Türkiye Intergovernmental Summit will be held soon during the visit of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi to Türkiye, Marrapodi recalled that the last such meeting was held around 10 years ago.

"It was time for a new meeting at the highest level," he said, adding there have been frequent "contacts" at the top and ministerial levels on several occasions.

He also expressed hope that the intergovernmental summit would help "collect the fruits of what we have worked on over the last months."

Marrapodi said the international agenda will be discussed by the two leaders along with the war in Ukraine and many regional issues related to peace and stability.

"We hope that this will be an occasion where we can take stock of the results that we have achieved in a lot in all fields and how we can work for new results in the future," he added.

He also noted that some important cross-sectoral issues such as food security, climate change and renewable energy might be discussed by the two leaders and by the ministers attending the intergovernmental summit.

Defense cooperation

The cooperation in the defense sector is a "very important" aspect of the bilateral relationship, Marrapodi said, noting it is "clearly shown by the excellent results achieved together" by Turkish and Italian companies operating in this field.

Italy has always seen Türkiye as a strategic partner for industrial cooperation, he said.

Marrapodi recalled that during the last meeting of Draghi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of NATO meetings in Brussels on the Ukraine war it was stated that Italy is ready to contribute to strengthening the joint industrial cooperation between Rome and Ankara together with other partners of the NATO alliance.

"I also think that NATO is the cornerstone of our collective security and Italy's contribution to NATO’s defense is fundamental to the organization's success, and we go from policing the airspace over Eastern Europe to patrolling the Mediterranean," he said.

Italy devotes significant military and human resources to the alliance, he added.

"From a strategic point of view, Italy and Türkiye share a common vision on security issues and are strongly committed to international stability and peace by closely cooperating in the NATO framework. The unique position in the Mediterranean region makes Italy and Türkiye crucial actors to help secure the defense of NATO’s southern flank," Marrapodi added.

'Russian aggression against Ukraine'

Speaking on Russia's war on Ukraine, Marrapodi said the Italian position is "clear," as his country condemned "from the very beginning the Russian aggression on Ukraine," which Draghi defined as "unjustified, unjustifiable and unprovoked aggression."

Italy is close to the Ukrainian people in this "dramatic moment," and Rome is working with the European partners and with NATO allies to "respond with unity and determination," he added.

The envoy highlighted that Italy has always supported the facilitation efforts put in place by Türkiye in order to bring Russia and Ukraine to the negotiating table as a facilitator of dialogue between the two countries.

He also hailed the idea of a cease-fire, cooperation and the possibility of opening corridors in the Black Sea for the export of cereals.

Libya

"Italy is supporting, is backing the efforts of the adviser of the United Nations Secretary General in Libya, Stephanie Williams, to reach an agreement with all political parties," he said.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/italy-turkiye-relations-standing-on-very-sound-path-envoy/2612999

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