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The Taliban Dissolves the Human Rights Commission and Five Other Key Departments, Declaring them “Unnecessary”

New Age Islam News Bureau

17 May 2022


Afghanistan’s human rights commission and four other government departments dissolved as country battles financial crunch. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images


• Two Facebook Friends Arrested In Pakistan’s Punjab Province For Committing Blasphemy On Social Media

• Leaked Prevent Review Attacks ‘Double Standards’ On Far Right Extremism And Islamist Extremism

• Shiv Ling Claim Unfair, Attempt To Create Communal Disharmony: AIMPLB

• Indonesians Celebrate Vesak Day At World’s Largest Buddhist Temple


South Asia

• Former Director-General of ISI Reaches Kabul for the Talks with Pakistani Taliban

• UNSC Struggles to Whether adjust with Taliban Sanctions Regime

• Taliban Forces Clash with the Tajik Border Guards Near Sher Khan Bandar

• Taliban-ruled Afghanistan in focus as India hosts SCO's RATS meeting in Delhi

• Taliban restricts Afghan journalists from covering security incidents



• Polio Vaccination Compulsory Until Complete Eradication: Ulema

• Key allies encourage PM Shehbaz to take ‘tough’ decisions

• Omer Sarfraz Cheema to seek treason trial of PM

• China nationals leaving Pakistan after attacks: Reports

• Pakistan says it foiled suspected suicide attack against Chinese nationals

• Imran Khan’s erstwhile government procured USD 52 billion in loans

• Pair of Imran Khan's mobile phones stolen from Sialkot airport

• PM Shehbaz Sharif assures security enhancement of Chinese citizens in Pakistan, affirms resolve to fast track CPEC projects

• Kharadar blast claims woman’s life, leaves 12 injured



• Turkey’s Erdogan says will not approve Sweden and Finland joining NATO

• EU announces $26M in humanitarian aid for Palestine

• Sweden to continue talks with Turkiye on NATO membership

• French hospital accuses Israel of attacking journalist’s funeral



• Gyanvapi mosque: Varanasi court orders sealing of pond after claims of spotting ‘Shivalinga’ in it

• ‘Shivalinga’ Found, Part Of Gyanvapi Land Sealed In Uttar Pradesh

• Uttar Pradesh: ASI releases pics of closed rooms of Taj Mahal ‘for all to see’

• Gyanvapi mosque: Only 50% of videography survey report ready, team to seek more time from court to submit complete findings

• AIMPLB condemns sealing of ‘wuzu khana’ of Gyanvapi masjid

• Fault lines widening amongst Indian Muslim religious leaders

• MP: Tensions In Neemuch City After Idol Found Placed Near Mosque; Police Say Situation Under Control

• Karnataka: Hindu Groups Claim Hanuman Temple Existed at Mandya Mosque, Seek Permission to Pray

• A local court to hear plea for survey of Mathura mosque ‘on the lines of Gyanvapi’

• Allahabad HC adjourns Kashi Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi mosque case hearing till May 20

• 25 Muslim League workers get life imprisonment for siblings’ murder

• "Unwarranted Comments": India To Islamic Nations' Group On Kashmir


Southeast Asia

• PAS Veep Says Muafakat Nasional’s Muslim Unity Agenda With Umno Bigger Than Political Survival

• Dr M threatens to sue Zahid over ‘Kutty’ remarks


Arab World

• YPG/PKK Terror Group Keeps Recruiting, Using Children In Syria

• Hezbollah MP Threatens Rivals Before Election Results

• Driven out of their homes by PKK, Ezidis decry silence of int'l community

• UN chief issues call for ‘inclusive government’ after Lebanon vote

• Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government arrests members of PKK-linked group

• Syrian prisoner released in return for money despite Assad regime's ‘amnesty’

• Iraq balks at greater Chinese control of its oilfields

• UAE looking forward to strengthening ties with US under Sheikh Mohammed: Emirati FM

• Saudi Crown Prince leaves for UAE to offer condolences on Sheikh Khalifa’s death



• Cameroon Football Star Patrick Mboma Converts To Islam, Changes Name To Abdul Jalil

• Hassan Sheikh Mahmud Becomes the New President of Somalia

• Parliament-backed Libya PM Bashagha leaves capital after clashes

• At least 43 dead in weekend attacks in Burkina Faso: Media

• Clashes break out as rival governments jostle for power in Libya's capital



• Iran Slams US for Instrumental Use of Human Rights

• Detained French nationals in Iran arrested over protests: Iran state TV

• Iran arrests university professor on security charges, ‘foreign links’

• Iran could delay execution of Iranian-Swedish academic

• Israel’s top Catholic prelate condemns police funeral attack


North America

• US Removes Jewish Extremist Kahane Movement From Terror Blacklist

• Senior US delegation meets Sheikh Mohammed, vows to strengthen bilateral ties

• US welcomes Lebanon elections, calls on politicians to ‘rescue’ the economy

• Turkish foreign minister to hold talks, attend meetings in New York

• Biden authorizes redeployment of US forces to Somalia: White House

• US, Turkiye reaffirm 'strategic relationship': State Department

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



The Taliban Dissolves the Human Rights Commission and Five Other Key Departments, Declaring them “Unnecessary”


Afghanistan’s human rights commission and four other government departments dissolved as country battles financial crunch. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images


By Saqalain Eqbal

17 May 2022

In the midst of a financial crisis, Taliban authorities in Afghanistan disbanded five major departments of the former US-backed administration, including the Human Rights Commission.

This fiscal year, Afghanistan will have a budget deficit of 44 billion Afghanis, according to Taliban officials, who announced their first annual national budget since taking control of the country last August.

The dissolved departments, in addition to the Human Rights Commission, are the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), National Security Council, Independent Commission for Overseeing the Implementation of the Constitution (ICOIC), and the General Secretariats of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House) and Mishrano Jirga (Upper House).

The Taliban government’s Deputy Spokesperson, Innamullah Samangani, told Reuters, “Because these departments were not deemed necessary and were not included in the budget, they have been dissolved,”.

The national budget, according to Samangani, is “based on objective facts” and is solely for departments that have been active and productive.

“If needed,” he said, the bodies could be reactivated in the future.

Despite the Taliban’s assurances to the world that they would be more moderate, they have yet to allow older girls to return to school and have imposed rules mandating women and girls to wear Hijab and be accompanied in public by male relatives.

Source: Khaama Press

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Two Facebook Friends Arrested In Pakistan’s Punjab Province For Committing Blasphemy On Social Media


File Photo/ Indus Scroll Indian to the Core


M Zulqernain

17 May, 2022

Lahore, May 17 (PTI) Two men have been arrested from Pakistan’s Punjab province for allegedly committing blasphemy on social media, the punishment of which is either life imprisonment or death penalty.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Lahore on Monday arrested Muhammad Usama Shafiq and Maisam Abbas on a complaint that they had allegedly insulted the Prophet and defiled the holy Quran on Facebook and WhatsApp groups.

An FIA official told PTI on Tuesday that both suspects had uploaded objectionable videos along with Quranic verses on Facebook. They also shared such material on a WhatsApp group.

“Under the law, the suspects committed blasphemy in the honour of the Prophet and Allah and defiled the Quran,” the official said, adding that the two have been booked under relevant sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act.

Both the suspects were produced before a magistrate who sent them to jail for judicial remand. Usama is from Lahore and Maisam from Mandi Bahauddin district of Punjab and they were Facebook friends, the official said.

The Criminal Law Amendment Act 1986 added Section 295C to the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) to provide death penalty or life imprisonment to person defiling the name of the Prophet.

The blasphemy laws are usually misused to hound members of minority communities in Pakistan, grab land and property, and settle personal scores. Even unproven allegations of insulting Islam risk a violent and bloody death instantly at the hands of mob.

According to reports, allegations in Pakistan progress beyond vigilantism to the criminal justice system, lawyers are murdered for taking cases of alleged blasphemers. Judges, if they do not shy away from hearing a blasphemy case, won’t deliver judgements that will offend hardline Islamists. PTI MZ SCY SCY

Source: The Print

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Leaked Prevent Review Attacks ‘Double Standards’ On Far Right Extremism And Islamist Extremism


The government-commissioned Prevent review is being carried out by Sir William Shawcross. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Media


Jessica Elgot and Vikram Dodd

Mon 16 May 2022

The government’s counter-terrorism programme has been too focused on right-wing extremism and should now crack down on Islamist extremism, according to leaked draft extracts from a landmark review of the Prevent strategy.

In one particularly provocative recommendation, seen by the Guardian, the review claims there has been a “double standard” approach to tackling different forms of extremism, with individuals targeted for expressing mainstream rightwing views because the definition of neo-nazism has expanded too widely, while the focus on Islamist extremism has been too narrow.

The leaks, from the government-commissioned Prevent review being carried out by Sir William Shawcross, are likely to be deeply controversial. They come days after a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, where a self-confessed white supremacist shot 11 black and two white victims in what authorities described as a “racially motivated hate crime”.

Sir Peter Fahy, the former police lead for Prevent, said the review extracts suggested Shawcross’s findings were an unwarranted attempt to “politicise counter-terrorism policing” and it was “quite dangerous to play off one ideology against another”.

The draft Shawcross review also claims that:

a renewed focus on Islamist extremism is needed, including when individuals do not yet meet the terrorism threshold.

individuals have been referred to Prevent, the government’s anti-extremism programme, to access mental health support even when there is no evidence of extremism.

some Prevent-funded groups have promoted extremist narratives including support for the Taliban.

The long-delayed review by Shawcross, which was delivered to the Home Office at the end of April, has already drawn criticism from civil society groups, dozens of whom have declined to participate.

Shawcross, a former head of the charity watchdog, has made controversial comments about Islam. In 2012, as a director of the neoconservative thinktank the Henry Jackson Society, he said: “Europe and Islam is one of the greatest, most terrifying problems of our future. I think all European countries have vastly, very quickly growing Islamic populations.”

The number of referrals to Prevent relating to far-right extremism exceeded those for Islamist radicalisation for the first time last year. Referrals for far-right threats from the Prevent programme to Channel, which provides more intensive intervention, had already outstripped Islamist radicalisation since 2020.

In Shawcross’s draft review of the Prevent programme, he argues that its purpose must be refocused and says its first objective, to tackle the causes of radicalisation and respond to the ideological challenge of terrorism, “is not being sufficiently met”.

It argues that the programme must re-engage with individuals who are not yet posing a terror threat but who can “create an environment conducive to terrorism”.

One extract says Prevent has a “double standard when dealing with extreme rightwing and Islamism”. It says the programme has taken an expansive view on rightwing terror, which has “been so broad it has included mildly controversial or provocative forms of mainstream, rightwing-leaning commentary that have no meaningful connection to terrorism or radicalisation”.

However, it says a more hardline approach should be taken towards Islamist extremism, and that the programme has concentrated on proscribed organisations, “ignoring Islamist narratives”.

The draft review is also critical of Prevent-funded civil society organisations and community projects, suggesting funding is misallocated to “generic” projects and few “could be seen to publicly contest extremist discourse”.

It found that some Prevent-funded programmes “have promoted extremist narratives, including statements that appear supportive of the Taliban”. The draft says: “As a core principle, the government must cease to engage with or fund those aligned with extremism.”

Another extract says Prevent is “carrying the weight” for overstretched mental health services and that vulnerable people have been referred in order to access other forms of support even when they do not pose a terror threat.

It is understood that the report has been finalised by Shawcross and his team. It is still to be fact-checked before being subjected to legal checks in case any person or group can claim they have been libelled, which would potentially expose the Home Office, which picked Shawcross for the role despite extensive misgivings, to paying out legal damages.

Fahy, a former chief constable of Greater Manchester police and head of Prevent until 2015, told the Guardian: “There is a danger of policing thought as opposed to the risk of violence. It is not about ideology but about the risk someone will cross into violence.

“It is about threat, risk and harm. We know there has been an increase in far-rightwing extremism in the UK. The worst terrorist attack in Europe was by a rightwing terrorist, Anders Breivik.

“It sounds to me quite dangerous to play off one ideology against another. There is a danger this is an attempt to politicise counter-terrorism policing. How are the police supposed to judge what is mainstream? Police operate on what is the likelihood of this person being drawn into violence, not whether their views are mainstream.”

The draft extracts are also likely to raise eyebrows in the intelligence services. Ken McCallum, the domestic spy agency’s director general, recently warned that extreme rightwing terrorism accounted for one in five of all counter-terrorism investigations, a threat that had “grown and morphed quite substantially over the last five to 10 years”.

A particular problem, he said, was the “high prevalence” of teenagers in rightwing terrorism investigations, which he suggested was because youngsters were being swept up in a “toxic ideology” of “online extremists and echo chambers”.

The Home Office has proscribed a number of far-right groups in recent years, including the neo-Nazi group Sonnenkrieg Division, members of which have been jailed for serious offences. It also recognised the extreme rightwing group System Resistance Network as an alias of the already proscribed organisation National Action.

Prevent came under renewed scrutiny after the murder of the Conservative MP David Amess, who was stabbed to death in his constituency surgery by Ali Harbi Ali, who said he was motivated by Islamist extremism. His murder last year was followed by another Islamist attack on Liverpool women’s hospital.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Prevent remains a vital tool for early intervention and safeguarding. We will not allow extremists or terrorists to spread hate or sow division, and Prevent remains an important driver to help divert people away from harm.

“The independent review of Prevent, led by William Shawcross, will ensure we continue to improve our response and better protect people from being drawn into poisonous and dangerous ideologies. The report is currently being finalised and once formally received and after full consideration, the report and the government’s response to it will be published.”

Source: The Guardian

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Shiv Ling Claim Unfair, Attempt To Create Communal Disharmony: AIMPLB


Security personnel outside the Gyanvapi mosque | PTI



The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board has termed as "unfair" and an "attempt to create communal disharmony" the sealing of a pond in the Gyanvapi Masjid complex after it was claimed that a Shivling was found there during a survey.

During a court-mandated videography survey, the counsel representing the Hindu side claimed that the Shivling was found close to the "wazookhana"- a small reservoir used by Muslim devotees to perform ritual ablutions before offering the namaz.

A mosque management committee spokesperson disputed the claim, telling a television channel that the object was part of a "fountain". He said lawyers representing the mosque committee were not fully heard before the sealing order was pronounced.

In a statement issued late Monday night, AIMPLB general secretary Khalid Saifullah Rahmani said, "The Gyanvapi mosque is a mosque and will remain a mosque. The attempt to term it a temple is nothing more than a conspiracy to create communal disharmony. It is a matter of constitutional rights and is against the law."

"In 1937, in the case of Deen Mohammad Vs State Secretary, the court had decided on the basis of oral testimony and documents that this entire compound (Gyanvapi mosque complex) belongs to the Muslim Waqf and Muslims have the right to offer namaz in it," he said.

The court had also decided that how much area is of the mosque and how much is of the temple. At the same time, the wazookhana was accepted as the property of the mosque, Rahmani added.

"Then in 1991, the Places of Worship Act was passed by Parliament, which states that the places of worship as they were in 1947 will be maintained in the same condition. Even in the Babri Masjid judgment, it was said that now all places of worship places will be under this law," he said.

The AIMPLB general secretary also said the claim of the mosque being a temple should have been immediately rejected by the court but the civil court of Varanasi ordered the survey and videography.

The Waqf Board has approached the high court in this matter and the case is pending there.

The Gyanvapi mosque management committee has also approached the Supreme Court against the civil court's decision.

"The issue is being heard. But by ignoring all these things, the civil court first issued the order of the survey and then, accepting its report, issued an order to seal the portion of wazookhana," Rahmani said.

"This order is an excess and also a violation of law which cannot be expected from a court. The government should stop the implementation of the order and wait for the Allahabad High Court's decision. The government should protect all religious places as per the 1991 Act," he said.

Referring to the claims of a temple inside the mosque, Rahmani said, "If the status of the places of worship is changed on the basis of such arguments, then the whole country will be pushed into turmoil, because many big temples are made by converting Buddhist and Jain shrines and their traces are also visible there."

"Muslims cannot tolerate this atrocity. The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board will fight this injustice at every level," he said.

Source: Telegraph India

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Indonesians Celebrate Vesak Day At World’s Largest Buddhist Temple


Buddhists monks and devotees light lanterns during Vesak day celebration at the Borobudur temple in Magelang, Java.... Photo: Agence France-Presse


Sheany Yasuko Lai

May 16, 2022

JAKARTA: Indonesian Buddhists on Monday marked the religious holiday of Vesak at the faith’s largest temple in the world, as celebrations returned to the holy site after two years of the coronavirus pandemic.

Over 1,000 people, mostly dressed in all-white, attended a ceremony at Borobudur temple in Central Java to mark this year’s event, which commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha.

Monday’s celebrations mark the first time in two years that a public procession of this scale has been held again at the 9th-century temple, following restrictions imposed to curb coronavirus transmissions.

Prior to the public health outbreak, more than 40,000 Buddhist devotees from across the country and abroad would gather at Borobudur each year to celebrate Vesak.

“Naturally, as Buddhist devotees we are very happy we can celebrate the holy day of Vesak at Borobudur Temple, because the temple is the world’s biggest mandala,” Tanto Soegito Harsono, lead organizer of the event and regional leader of the country’s biggest Buddhist organization WALUBI, told Arab News.

Mandala, which is Sanskrit for circle or center, is a significant spiritual symbol in Buddhism.

“Let us realize the teachings of the Buddha in our daily lives,” Harsono said, alluding to the event’s theme.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, is also home to sizable Buddhist, Christian and other religious minorities. Centuries ago, this part of central Java was ruled by Buddhist and Hindu kingdoms, whose cultural legacies remain through scattered temples and statues across the region.

In this year’s scaled-down celebrations, organizers say participants are capped at around 1,200 for the day’s ceremony, during which health protocols are mandatory.

Borobudur, made up of platforms that form a pyramid shape and topped with several stupas and Buddha statues, is also hosting a festival in the evening, which will see participants releasing 2,022 lit lanterns into the evening sky above the temple.

Christina, a 20-year-old college student visiting from Tangerang, a city near the capital Jakarta, had taken part in Vesak Day celebrations twice previously. She hopes this year will mark the return of the annual festivities in Borobudur.

“This year I get to participate as WALUBI’s marching band member during the procession,” Christina told Arab News.

“Celebrating Vesak in Borobudur is very meaningful for me.”

Source: Arab News

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South Asia


Former Director-General of ISI Reaches Kabul for the Talks with Pakistani Taliban

By Saqalain Eqbal

17 May 2022

General Faiz Hameed, the former director general of Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) and the current commander of the Pakistan Army Corps in Peshawar, has arrived in Kabul, according to a number of international media.

General Faiz Hameed “has arrived to the Kabul Serena hotel lobby”, according to Al Jazeera’s Middle East and South Asia reporter Sadaf Chaudhry, who tweeted on Monday, 16th May.

A number of Indian media sources have confirmed General Faiz’s visit to Kabul and stated that Pakistan and the Tehreek-e-Taliban (Pakistani Taliban) are initiating peace negotiations.

General Faiz Hameed, according to News 18, has arrived in Kabul following the start of peace talks between the Pakistani Taliban and the Pakistani government.

According to Pakistani military sources, Pakistani Taliban and security officers have been staying at the Serena Hotel in Kabul since Wednesday.

General Faiz Hameed’s arrival to Kabul has yet to be confirmed by the Taliban.

Source: Khaama Press

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UNSC Struggles to Whether adjust with Taliban Sanctions Regime

16 May 2022

KABUL, Afghanistan – The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is struggling to whether adjust with the ongoing sanctions regime against the so-called Islamic Emirate government, according to reports, saying “it’s a consequential decision.” 

Sanctions against the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan were implemented by the United Nations in November 1999, which were tightened against the Taliban under Executive Order 13224 after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

In June of 2022, the UN Security Council must decide whether to adjust the current regime of sanctions against leadership of the Islamic Emirate, said the Hill, a US Washingon-focused news outlet.

The sanctions for many years had included a ban on the leadership’s international travel, which the Security Council suspended in April 2019 for the sake of a “reconciliation” process.

The Hill wrote that Islamic Emirate’s leaders used their travel freedom to cut separate deals with Russia, China and other neighbors, reinforcing their government while “refusing to negotiate with the elected Afghan government officials.”

Taliban Eye Islamic System in Afghanistan: Intra-Afghan Negotiations

Doha Yields Agreement on Ground Rules: Intra-Afghan Negotiations

While world leaders, including the international community, have repeatedly refused to credit the current leadership lead by the Islamic Emirate, analysts fear “suspension” may continue to open doors for the group. 

“The US use this (sanction) as leverage but there is a possibility for its suspension to continue because the US is still hopeful of finding a diplomatic solution for Afghanistan, and traveling is important for that issue,” said Torek Farhadi, a political analyst, as TOLOnews quoted.

However, the final decision on suspension of sanctions regime on Islamic Emirate remain controversial, as “a general meeting will be held in UN Security Council and member of the UNSC will meet,” said Suraya Paikan, a political analyst. 

Islamic Emirate government has not immediately commented on the matter.

Why are Sanctions Imposed?

Sanctions against the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan were implemented by the United Nations in November 1999, which were tightened against the Taliban under Executive Order 13224 after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

United Nations Security Council (UNSC) maintains a Taliban sanctions regime to promote the peace, stability and security of Afghanistan. The Taliban is no longer considered a terrorist organization and is involved in political processes in Afghanistan.

However, sanctions continue to apply in relation to persons and entities designated for the purposes of the Taliban sanctions regime. Many countries, including the United States and Australia implement UNSC sanctions.

What is Prohibited by Taliban Sanctions Regime?

The Taliban sanctions regime imposes the following sanctions measures:

restrictions on supplying arms and related matériel

restrictions on providing services related to military activities (technical, financial or other assistance, or training)

restrictions on providing assets to designated persons or entities

restrictions on dealing with the assets of designated persons or entities

travel bans on designated persons

Measure        UNSC

restrictions on supplying arms and related matériel        

restrictions on providing services related to military activities (technical, financial or other assistance, or training)      

restrictions on providing assets to designated persons or entities

restrictions on dealing with the assets of designated persons or entities 

travel bans on designated persons  
Source: Khaama Press

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Taliban Forces Clash with the Tajik Border Guards Near Sher Khan Bandar

By Saqalain Eqbal

16 May 2022

Local sources in Kunduz province reported clashes between Tajik border guards and Taliban forces on the border between the two countries.

According to a resident of Kunduz province’s Imam Sahib district, whose name was omitted due to the sensitivity of the matter, the clash occurred near Sher Khan Bandar on Monday, May 16, and lasted for four hours.

He continued by stating that the border guard clashes began after a verbal confrontation, with the Taliban firing the first shot.

The clash happens between as the Russian President Vladimir Putin and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon met three days ago to discuss bilateral security issues.

Previous skirmishes have also occurred on the Afghan-Pakistani border, as well as the Islam Qala border with Iran.

Source: Khaama Press

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Taliban-ruled Afghanistan in focus as India hosts SCO's RATS meeting in Delhi

May 17, 2022

Counter-terrorism experts from India, Pakistan and other member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on Monday (May 16) deliberated on boosting cooperation in combating various regional security challenges at a meeting hosted by New Delhi.

The meeting is taking place under the framework of the SCO's Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure.

A major focus of the discussions was to be on the situation in Afghanistan, especially in dealing with the threat from terrorist groups active in the Taliban-ruled country, people familiar with the meeting said.

Pakistan has sent a three-member team for the meeting.

India assumed the chairmanship of the Council of Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure of SCO (RATS SCO) on October 28 for a period of one year.

India has shown keen interest in deepening its security-related cooperation with the SCO and its Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS) which specifically deals with issues relating to security and defence.

A similar conference was organised by India in December which was participated by all the member states.

The SCO is an influential economic and security bloc and has emerged as one of the largest transregional international organisations.

The member states of the SCO are Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan is among the observer states of the SCO.

"I thank India for hosting the key meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's anti-terror body Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure in New Delhi today. The security & humanitarian situation has worsened in Afghanistan over the past 9 months," Afghan envoy Farid Mamundzay tweeted.

"We expect this meeting to raise and propose solutions to all important issues related to the security situation in Afghanistan. Sincere regional security cooperation particularly from neighbouring countries is the only way forward for peace & development in Afghanistan and in the region," he added.

India has not recognised the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and has been pitching for the formation of a truly inclusive government in Kabul besides insisting that Afghan soil must not be used for any terrorist activities against any country.

India has been concerned about the developments in Afghanistan:

It hosted a regional dialogue on Afghanistan in November that was attended by National Security Advisors of Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Source: India TV New

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Taliban restricts Afghan journalists from covering security incidents

May 16, 2022

Afghan journalists have claimed that the Taliban-led government has imposed restrictions on them from covering security incidents in the country.

Jawad Etimad, a journalist who works for an online media outlet, said he was arrested while covering a blast in Kabul city and spent two days in custody.

"They (Taliban) prevented me from making footage. They kicked and punched me, and then they arrested me," TOLO News quoted Etimad as saying.

Another journalist, Farogh Faiz said that whenever there is a security incident in an area, they go to cover it.

"But, unfortunately we are not being allowed cover the incidents," he said.

Meanwhile, the Afghanistan National Journalists Union said restrictions on access to information is not acceptable.

"The media has the right to make footage. Whenever there are restrictions on access to information, it is a violation of the law of access to information," Masroor Lutfi, head of the media watchdog, was quoted as saying by TOLO News.

According to the Reporters Without Borders, at least 50 media workers were arrested since the Taliban took over the country in August last year until February 2022.

Source: Business Standard

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Polio Vaccination Compulsory Until Complete Eradication: Ulema

May 17, 2022

LAHORE   –   Ulema belonging to various schools of thought have hailed efforts of polio teams saying that the noble cause rendered by the teams is reflective of the true teachings of Islam. The ulema were speaking in a conference organized by Tanzeem Ittehad Ummat a religious body working for harmony among various schools of thought. Health Department of Faisalabad and Punjab Emergency Operations Centre supported the Tanzeem in organizing the conference. The conference was held in Muhammadi Mosque of Faisalabad City. Ulema belonging to various schools of thought pledged support to polio eradication efforts. District Health Officer Faisalabad Dr Abu Bakar Siddique represented the government. Speaking on the occasion, Muhammad Ziaul Haq Naqshbandi, the chairperson of the Tanzeem called for upholding the rights of children as envisaged in Islam. “Islam has laid much emphasis on the rights of human beings. Our religion even lays emphasis on the rights of animals. Our children have the right to receive vaccination and live a healthy life. We should not deprive them of their rights”, said Muhammad Ziaul Haq Naqshbandi. Naqshbandi added saying that polio teams go door to door to ensure that all children get the polio vaccine and safety from the virus. “It is also the role of ulema to play their role and speak whenever needed to build an amicable environment for polio teams”, Naqshbandi said.  Quoting a hadith Allama Qari Bilal said that best among Muslims is the one who helps others. “polio teams deliver vaccine at every household. Parents must support the teams”, added Allama Bilal. Allama Hafiz Muhammad Zikria backed polio eradication efforts saying although Punjab is doing fairly well but “we cannot afford to be complacent yet until the virus is completely eradicated from Pakistan as well as Afghanistan”.

Dr Abu Bakar Siddique, the district health officer, responded to the queries of ulema attending the conference.

Source: Nation Pakistan

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Key allies encourage PM Shehbaz to take ‘tough’ decisions

Syed Irfan Raza | Kalbe Ali

May 17, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Three main ruling coalition partners — Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) — on Monday assured the government of their support in taking ‘tough’ decisions, while Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is set to call a meeting of all the allies to take a unanimous decision on how to overcome both the political and economic crises in the country.

The PM is also scheduled to head a meeting of the federal cabinet on Tuesday (today) where he will take all the members into confidence on the decisions taken by the PML-N leadership in London recently.

A day after returning from the UK and the UAE, Prime Minister Sharif on Monday started consultations with allied parties in the ruling coalition, apparently to apprise them of the decisions taken by PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif during the premier’s recent meetings with him in London.

The prime minister met heads of three main coalition parties — Asif Ali Zardari of the PPP, Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the JUI-F and Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui of the MQM.

Shehbaz meets Fazl, Zardari, Siddiqui; meeting with all coalition partners on crises expected soon; MQM opposes early polls despite them ‘going in party’s favour’

It has been learnt that PM Sharif will soon call a meeting of all the allies in the government to take a unanimous decision on how to overcome both the political and economic crises in the country.

One of the most difficult paths the government is likely to take is the withdrawal of subsidy on petrol and its price is likely to jump by Rs50 per litre. Presently, the government is reportedly bearing over Rs100 billion a month by providing subsidies on petroleum products.

Read more: Miftah says PM Shehbaz not increasing petrol prices

According to the Prime Minister Office, the PM in a one-on-one meeting with Maulana Fazl said national interest will remain supreme while taking ‘difficult’ decisions. He stressed the need for collective efforts of the ruling coalition to provide relief to the people and strengthen democracy in the country.

The prime minister was quoted as saying: “Adherence to democracy and the Constitution guarantee progress and stability of Pakistan.”

He vowed that essential items will be available to people in the market at affordable rates. In this connection, all available resources will be utilised, he added.

Both leaders thoroughly discussed the prevailing economic and political crises confronting the government.

Meanwhile, former finance minister Ishaq Dar, who is presently in London with Nawaz Sharif, said on a private TV channel that the government should not be afraid of the situation and take it head-on. “If we do not tackle the acute economic situation today, will angels descend to rescue us,” he questioned.

The PML-N leader maintained Pakistan’s economic situation had not deteriorated to the extent that it could not be reversed.

Meanwhile, PPP senior leader Farhatullah Babar confirmed party Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari called on the prime minister after Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari left for the US on an official visit. The foreign minister will meet the UAE leadership during a stopover to offer condolences on the demise of Emirati president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Federal minister Qamar Zaman Kaira of the PPP said his party was ready to jointly face the consequences of “tough” decisions. “We will make decisions in the best interest of the country whatever their political cost will be,” he added.

He said it would be unfair to the country if the government, which came into power to rectify the wrongs of the previous PTI regime, went back home without providing any solution to the problems.

On the other hand, the MQM opposed fresh elections on the grounds that it would be a financial debacle for the ordinary citizens despite the fact that the decision would be in the party’s favour, and urged the prime minister to act fast and take a tough call related to the economic revival.

Talking to the media here on Monday, MQM-Pakistan Convener Siddiqui said it will be in the favour of his party to contest polls as soon as possible because they will recover the 14 National Assembly seats that he claimed had been “snatched” and given to the PTI, however for the common man it would be disastrous.

He said the MQM-P believed if elections were held any moment, the interim government would overburden the general public with difficult decisions as it would not have any affiliation with the masses, which was unfair.

Flanked by fellow party leader and IT Minister Syed Aminul Haq and Syed Shakeel Ahmed, a member of the Rabita Committee, Mr Siddiqui said the economic situation was bleak and it was the responsibility of the politicians to take charge and restore the trust of the masses.

The MQM chief also said apart from stabilising the economy, the government has to initiate electoral reforms before announcing the date for elections.

“This can be done (electoral reforms) in a week, as all the parties have already done their homework, and if they need we can offer our working paper as well,” he said, adding the next elections should not be held without a fresh census and new delimitations.

Source: Dawn

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Omer Sarfraz Cheema to seek treason trial of PM

Ikram Junaidi

May 17, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Former governor of Punjab Omer Sarfraz Cheema has announced approaching the court for registration of a high treason case against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif under Article 6.

Moreover, he said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) believed that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had ill intention during delimitation of constituencies.

In a post on social media, Mr Cheema said that it has been decided to get a case registered under Article 6 against prime minister at a relent forum/court. He said that prime minister and his son were continuously violating the Constitution in Punjab and were misusing the power.

“I will move a case against violation of constitution in a court of law,” Mr Cheema said.

PTI sees ‘ill intention’ of ECP during delimitation of constituencies

It is worth mentioning that according to Article 6 any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason. However, Majlis-i-Shoora (Parlia­m­ent) shall by law provide for the punishment of persons found guilty of high treason.

Meanwhile, PTI senior vice president Fawad Chaudhry on Monday alleged that the ECP had ill intention while doing delimitation of constituencies and claimed that any move in that regard would be illegal.

“All members of the ECP should be sent home,” he said while speaking to reporters outside the Supreme Court’s building.

He criticised PM Sharif and said that he had completed four foreign visits, but Pakistani rupee had lost ground against US dollar.

According to the PTI leader, next 72 hours will be crucial for the economy.

Similarly, former minister for planning and development Asad Umar said that all financial indicators were continuously showing negative trends.

Source: Dawn

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China nationals leaving Pakistan after attacks: Reports

May 17, 2022

BEIJING/ISLAMABAD: Enhanced security for Chinese nationals working in Pakistan and fast-tracking of the $60 billion CPEC projects figured high in the first talks between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and his newly-appointed counterpart Shehbaz Sharif on Monday.

According to several reports, a large number of Chinese workers deployed in Pakistan for CPEC projects have started leaving the country after the suicide bomb attack at the Karachi University last month in which three Chinese language teachers were killed. An official of the Karachi University said that Chinese nationals teaching Mandarin in different parts of Pakistan have left for home after being called back by Beijing following the attacks. Chinese experts say while Pakistan security mainly focussed on major projects, those working in smaller institutions like the Karachi University remained soft targets. “The Pakistani side will strengthen security measures for all Chinese institutions and nationals in Pakistan to prevent similar incidents from happening again,” Sharif told Li.

Source: Times Of India

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Pakistan says it foiled suspected suicide attack against Chinese nationals

May 16, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani police arrested a would-be suicide bomber who planned to blow herself up near a convoy of Chinese nationals along the China Pakistan Economic-Corridor (CPEC), a police statement said.

Monday's arrest came two weeks after a woman suicide bomber blew herself up on a university campus in the southern port city of Karachi, killing three Chinese teachers and their Pakistani driver.

Police arrested the militant in southwestern Balochistan province that borders Afghanistan and Iran, the statement said.

She belongs to the separatist Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), which has started using women militants as suicide bombers, police said, a new phenomenon for counter-terrorism police who are more used to dealing with such attacks by Islamist militants.

"The woman wanted to target a convoy of Chinese nationals," police said, adding the attack was planned along a route of China Pakistan Economic-Corridor (CPEC).

Police recovered explosives and detonators from the woman and investigated her, revealing her plans to target Chinese nationals. No other evidence was produced to support their accusation.

The Karachi suicide bomber was also a member of the BLA, the police statement said.

China is a close Pakistan ally and the CPEC is $65 billion-plus investment in infrastructure in Pakistan, part of Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative to seek road and sea trade routes to connect with the rest of the world.

Balochistan is home to a deep-water port in Gwadar city, which Beijing is developing under the CPEC.

Baloch separatist guerrillas say they've been fighting for decades for a greater share in regional mine and mineral resources.

They attack gas plants, infrastructure, security forces and Chinese interests, which they say amount to the occupation of their land and resources in the name of development.

Their attacks against Chinese nationals have since the fall of the Afghan capital to the Islamist Taliban in August last year.

The Taliban deny Pakistan's accusations that the insurgents use Afghan soil to train the militants and plan the attacks.

Source: Times Of India

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Imran Khan’s erstwhile government procured USD 52 billion in loans

17 May, 2022

Islamabad [Pakistan], May 16 (ANI): The erstwhile Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government tops the list amongst the last four administrations in the country with the highest external borrowing of around USD 52 billion in its three-year rule, a media report said.

PTI’s pole position is followed by the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) which borrowed USD 49.761 billion dollars in five years. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was in third place for borrowing a total of USD 25.008 billion in five years, Business Recorder, a Pakistani newspaper said citing data collected from Pakistan’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs Division.

Pakistan’s external debt and liabilities (outstanding) reached an all-time high of USD 130.6 billion by end-December 2021, the report said.

During the PTI government, foreign debt rose by USD 35.3 billion or 37 per cent (till December 2021), while it was USD 95.2 billion when the PTI government came to power, the report further said.

The PTI government’s domestic borrowing was also the highest when compared to the other three governments.

The PTI government borrowed PKR 9,136 billion during its tenure compared to PML-N’s PKR 6,896 billion, and PPP’s PKR 6,919 billion, the report said.

Meanwhile, in its recent ‘Pakistan Development Update’, the World Bank has highlighted the structural weaknesses of Pakistan’s economy which include low investment, low exports, and a low productivity growth cycle.

Further, high domestic demand pressures and rising global commodity prices would lead to double-digit inflation in the country, reported Islam Khabar.

Source: The Print

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Pair of Imran Khan's mobile phones stolen from Sialkot airport

May 17, 2022

ISLAMABAD: A senior Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) member on Monday claimed that a pair of mobile phones belonging to former PM, Imran Khan, were stolen from the Sialkot airport after Khan disclosed at a power show in the city last Saturday that he had recorded a video message containing names of all those who are allegedly plotting to assassinate him.

In a Twitter post, Khan’s former aide, Shahbaz Gill, said the incident took place as the government had pulled the security detail of the former prime minister.

“You (a veiled reference to government and security establishment) have gone completely berserk. The video statement that Khan has recorded cannot be found on his phone. The mobile phones were stolen after Imran Khan landed at the airport after addressing a rally,” he said, alleging that Imran’s phones were “ordered to be stolen” from the airport.

At the Sialkot rally, Khan had claimed that an “assassination attempt” is being hatched against him – video evidence of which he has kept in a “secure place”.

“I have named all those elements involved in the conspiracy in the video. I knew about it and I got full knowledge of it a few days ago,” Khan said.

“If something happens to me then this video will be made public in front of the nation. In it, whoever has conspired against me, whoever is complicit since last summer, I’ve named everyone,” the ex-PM added.

PM Shehbaz Sharif directed interior (home) minister Rana Sanaullah on Monday to boost Imran’s security amid alleged threats to his life.

In a statement, the spokesperson for the interior ministry said that as per the orders of the PM, Imran has been provided “foolproof security”.

Source: Times Of India

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PM Shehbaz Sharif assures security enhancement of Chinese citizens in Pakistan, affirms resolve to fast track CPEC projects

May 17, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday assured China that his government is determined to take all necessary measures for the enhanced security and safety of Chinese nationals in Pakistan and affirmed his "firm resolve" to fast track projects under the $60 billion CPEC.

During a "comprehensive telephonic conversation" with Chinese premier Li Keqiang, Sharif underscored the need for both sides to work together and enhance cooperation between the concerned agencies of the two countries to fully operationalise the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) at an early date, according to a statement released by the Prime Minister's office (PMO).

Shehbaz affirmed his government's "firm resolve to fast-track both the ongoing as well as the new projects under the transformational China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which had immensely contributed to the socio-economic development of Pakistan and also realised its high-quality development”.

The ambitious $60 billion CPEC is a 3,000-km long route of infrastructure projects connecting China's northwest Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and the Gwadar Port in the western Pakistan province of Balochistan. India has protested to China over the CPEC as it is being laid through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Condemning the terrorist attack at the Karachi University last month in which three Chinese scholars lost their lives, Sharif reaffirmed Pakistan's firm resolve to hold thorough investigation into the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice.

"He reiterated that Pakistan attached the highest importance to the safety, security and protection of all Chinese nationals working in Pakistan on economic projects and institutions. He assured Premier Li that his government was determined to take all necessary measures for their enhanced security and safety in Pakistan," the statement said.

Source: Times Of India

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Kharadar blast claims woman’s life, leaves 12 injured

Imtiaz Ali

May 17, 2022

KARACHI: In a third blast in as many weeks, a woman died and at least 12 people sustained injuries when an improvised explosive device (IED) attached to a motorbike went off near Boulton Market in Kharadar late on Monday night, officials and witnesses said.

A police van passing through the famed Kaghzi Bazaar near Boulton Market was apparently the target of the blast that claimed the life of a young woman travelling in a rickshaw and left a dozen others, including a police officer and an eight-year-old boy, wounded.

The police vehicle and a few other vehicles, including two-wheelers and a three-wheeler, were damaged in the blast that also triggered a fire, showed video clips aired by some TV channels soon after the IED blast that took place at 9.50pm.

Head of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Trauma Centre of Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi, Dr Sabir Memon, confirmed that one body and 12 injured were brought to the centre. He said condition of two of the injured was serious.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah earlier taking immediate notice of the incident declared an emergency at the Civil Hospital and sought an immediate report from Sindh police chief.

In the meantime, crime scene unit of the police rushed to the blast site and secured the scene where bomb disposal squad officials were called to ascertain the nature of the explosion.

“Preliminary report showed that the real target was the police mobile,” DIG Karachi South Sharjeel Kharal told Dawn. He said initial assessment showed the IED explosion was ‘similar’ to the recent Saddar blast, but they were waiting for the report of bomb disposal officials.

He said the wholesale cloth bazaar of Boulton Market was almost closed with only a few people present in the locality when the bomb went off in the late hours.

Senior officer of the Counter-Terrorism Department Raja Umar Khattab said the IED, which was planted on a parked motorbike in the bazaar, was detonated apparently with a remote control device when the police vehicle slowed down near it. The CTD officer said the target appeared to be the police mobile van that was damaged in the explosion.

He said the IED containing ball bearings seemed to be similar to the one used to carry out the blast in the busy commercial area of Saddar.

Some of the injured were identified as Ahsan Mushtaq, 20, Irshad, 35, Yunus Faiz, 30, Haris Khalid, 8, Ashfaq Habib, 30, Mohammed Habib, 60, Sikander Ghous, 25, Faraz Shoaib, 25, Abdullah Jan and Ayub Habib, 40.

Assistant sub-inspector Badaruddin was also among the injured whose condition was stated to be out of danger, according to the police spokesperson.

This was the third terror incident in the metropolis since April 26 when a suicide bombing at Karachi University claimed the life of three Chinese teachers and a local driver. The responsibility of the deadly attack was later claimed by banned Baloch Liberation Army.

Source: Dawn

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Turkey’s Erdogan says will not approve Sweden and Finland joining NATO

16 May ,2022

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday he will not approve Sweden and Finland obtaining NATO membership, state news agency Anadolu reported.

The Swedish ministry of foreign affairs announced on Monday that senior representatives from Helsinki and Stockholm will travel “soon” to Turkey to discuss Ankara’s objections to their NATO membership.

However, Erdogan said the diplomats should not bother coming to Turkey to try to convince Ankara to approve their NATO bids.

“First of all, we would not say ‘yes’ to those who impose sanctions on Turkey to join NATO, a security organization, during this process,” Erdogan said. “Neither country has an open, clear stance against terrorist organizations,” he added, describing Sweden as an “incubation center for terrorist organizations.”

“They have special invitations to terrorists. They even have pro PKK MPs in their parliaments. How are we going to trust them?” Erdogan added, referring to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which Ankara designates as a terrorist organization.

The two Nordic countries confirmed officially that they will seek NATO membership, ending decades of military nonalignment in an historic move driven by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Turkey declared last week it had objections to the two countries joining NATO, accusing them of supporting Kurdish militants whom Ankara considers to be terrorists, and failing to extradite dozens of suspected “terrorists”.

Source: Al Arabiya

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EU announces $26M in humanitarian aid for Palestine

Agnes Szucs



The EU announced on Monday €25 million (approximately $26 million) in humanitarian aid for vulnerable Palestinians in occupied West Bank.

The financial assistance aims to counterbalance the rising energy and food prices exacerbated by the war in Ukraine that adds on the top of the economic crisis in the West Bank and Gaza, the European Commission said in a statement.

The funding will support Palestinian families' access to basic services and assistance, as well as “healthcare assistance, including mental care for trauma, to those affected by the continued violence, the ramifications of the blockade on Gaza and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the statement added.

“The EU continues to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people,” said EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic.

He stressed that the EU will continue to “insist on the full respect for international humanitarian law and condemn the continued evictions of civilians and demolitions of their homes, schools and basic infrastructure.” “This needs to stop."

The new pledge comes amid criticism on the EU executive body for delaying the disbursement of financial aid for Palestine promised for 2021 because of a controversy over school textbooks in Palestine allegedly containing anti-Semitic texts and incitement to violence.

“There is no reason for the European Commission to delay over €300 million of funding for the Palestinian Authority,” Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told reporters on Monday on the way to the meeting of EU top diplomats.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Sweden to continue talks with Turkiye on NATO membership

Atila Altuntas  



Sweden was unable to reach a solution with Turkiye in talks early on Sunday about the Scandinavian country's expected NATO membership application, but will continue negotiations, the Swedish foreign minister said.

"We did not reach a solution with Turkiye, and decided to continue the talks," Ann Linde said after meeting with her Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu at an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in the German capital Berlin, where they discussed her country's expected application for NATO membership.

Noting that Sweden was unable to agree with the Turkish side "because of the formation in the north of Syria," Linde stressed: "We accept that the PKK is a terrorist organization."

"We don't think the same about the formation in northern Syria, and neither do many NATO countries.

"Like the US and other NATO countries, we have met with Kurdish organizations in northern Syria," she pointed out.

Cavusoglu had stressed before the NATO meeting that Sweden and Finland openly supported the PKK, which is listed as a terror group by the EU. The YPG is its Syrian offshoot.

"This also negatively affects the feelings of our people," the Turkish foreign minister added.

"Therefore, a country that will become an ally should clearly not support the PKK/YPG, the terrorist organization that attacks us, our soldiers, our police, and our civilians every day."

Source: Anadolu Agency

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French hospital accuses Israel of attacking journalist’s funeral

Abdelraouf Arna'out  



The French Hospital in occupied East Jerusalem on Monday accused Israeli police of assaulting the funeral procession of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

On Friday, Israeli police surrounded mourners and used stun grenades and batons to assault pallbearers carrying Abu Akleh’s casket as it was being carried out of the hospital in East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

"What increases the awfulness of the scene is that it took place inside the hospital campus without any consideration for the sanctity of the place or the occasion," hospital director Jamil Kousa told a press conference.

He said the Israeli police attack took place although the hospital is sponsored by the Vatican and the French state.

“They stormed the hospital, attacked the casket and pallbearers, fired rubber bullets and scared patients and visitors,” Kousa lamented.

In the wake of international condemnations of the Israeli attack on the funeral, the Israeli police said it opened an investigation into the incident. Police said the results of the investigation will be presented to officials in the coming days.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Gyanvapi mosque: Varanasi court orders sealing of pond after claims of spotting ‘Shivalinga’ in it

17th May 2022

By Namita Bajpai

LUCKNOW:  The controversial court-mandated videography of the Gyanvapi mosque complex on Monday took a dramatic turn with a Varanasi court ordering the sealing of a pond after claims of having spotted a ‘Shivalinga’ in it, though the other side said it was just a defunct fountain. The pond is used by Muslim devotees for wuzu or purification rituals before offering namaz.

The ongoing drama will shift to the Supreme Court on Tuesday where a bench of justices D Y Chandrachud and P S Narasimha will hear a plea filed by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid that manages the affairs of the Gyanvapi mosque, challenging the court-mandated survey.

The Varanasi court’s order came even as the videography was on, as one lawyer Harishankar Jain, representing a plaintiff, left the survey team midway and filed a court application about the ‘Shivalinga’. “As it is a very important piece of evidence, the area should be sealed immediately for its safety,” he said in his application. Jain also sought a ban on the entry of Muslims in that area besides allowing not more than 20 people to offer namaz at any given time.

Judge Ravi Kumar Diwakar, while directing the district administration to seal the area of the wuzu pond, ordered restricted entry of people into that part of the mosque premises, but did not put a figure to it. The judge, however, made the state chief secretary and director general of police responsible for the supervision of the sealing process and the work done by the district magistrate, commissioner of police and the CRPF for the execution of the order.

The Muslim side was shocked that the court ordered the sealing without hearing it. “The other side is misguiding the nation by calling a defunct fountain a Shivalinga,” said Raees Ahmad Ansari, the lawyer of Anjuman Intenzamia Masjid.

Abhay Nath Yadav, representing the Muslim side, said everyone should wait for the submission of the survey report and subsequent court verdict without jumping to conclusions. District Magistrate Kushal Raj Sharma said after receiving the order, the wuzu pond area was isolated and sealed, adding alternative arrangements for wuzu were being made to ensure that Muslims did not face any problem in offering namaz.

Other lawyers accompanying the court commission during the survey termed it a ‘historic day’ saying the evidence they collected would play a key role in all cases related to Gyanvapi in different courts.

Source: New Indian Express

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‘Shivalinga’ found, part of Gyanvapi land sealed in Uttar Pradesh

Piyush Srivastava  


A Varanasi court on Monday asked the Uttar Pradesh government to seal the area around a small pond on the premises of the Gyanvapi mosque, which adjoins the Kashi Vishwanath temple, after a Shivalinga was allegedly found in the water body.

A lawyer for the Hindu side in the case told reporters the purported discovery was evidence that Mughal emperor Aurangzeb had demolished the original Kashi Vishwanath temple to have the mosque built — a claim that underpins a Sangh parivar campaign for the mosque’s removal.

Lawyers for the mosque management committee suggested the object found might not be a Shivalinga, accused the Hindu side of flouting a court directive not to talk about the findings, and said they would challenge Monday’s order in a higher court.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear a petition the mosque committee had filed a few days ago seeking to stop any fresh activity (such as a survey) on the mosque premises.

Monday’s order by civil judge (senior division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar says: “The district magistrate of Varanasi is ordered to immediately seal the area where the Shivalinga was found and prevent the entry of any person into the sealed area. The district magistrate of Varanasi, police commissioner of Varanasi and commandant of the CRPF are ordered to preserve and protect the sealed area.”

The civil court is dealing with a petition from a group of Hindus seeking the right to pray daily at the Shringar Gauri — a structure carved with figures of purported Hindu gods and goddesses — on the mosque premises.

Judge Diwakar had last month formed a commission with 18 Hindu and 18 Muslim members and asked it to survey and videograph the mosque premises.

Comments by the petitioners’ lawyer, Hari Shankar Jain, on Monday suggested the Hindu side would now try to have the case’s ambit widened to include the question whether a temple’s ruins lay scattered around the mosque’s premises and under the ground.

Cases relating to the alleged temple demolition are already pending in various courts, with Allahabad High Court having stayed a lower court’s order for the Archaeological Survey of India to use radar technology to ascertain whether the mosque stood over a destroyed temple.

Sangh parivar members have long asserted that Varanasi and Mathura — where they allege a Krishna temple was razed to build the Idgah mosque — would be their next target after a Ram temple was built in Ayodhya.

The purported Shivalinga was found during the last round of the court-appointed commission’s controversial and stop-start survey, carried out between Saturday morning and Monday morning.

Although judge Diwakar had asked either side not to make any information about the findings public before the commission had placed its report before him in a sealed envelope on Tuesday, Jain revealed the purported Shivalinga’s discovery on Monday morning.

In the afternoon, Jain told reporters: “A 12.8-foot-high Shivalinga was found in a pond, which was previously used by the Muslims for wuzu (or wudu, a physical and spiritual act to purify oneself before prayer). So I requested the court to seal the area.”

He said the purported Shivalinga was partly buried at the bottom of the pond. “There were fish in the pond and they (mosque management) asked the commission not to disturb it. But the symbol of Lord Shiva was found when the water was pumped out and the mud dredged,” Jain said.

“The area (pond) is some distance away from the main Gyanvapi building; so this court decision will not prevent people from offering namaz inside the mosque.”

Sources said the pond was close to the Shringar Gauri.

Abhay Nath Yadav, counsel for the mosque management committee, said that “nothing has been found to prove that a temple was demolished to erect a mosque”.

“While the Muslim side respects the court and doesn’t make any statement, the Hindu side is making false claims to confuse people and violate the order of secrecy,” he said.

Source: Telegraph India

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Uttar Pradesh: ASI releases pics of closed rooms of Taj Mahal ‘for all to see’

May 17, 2022

AGRA: The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) recently released pictures of some of the 22 underground rooms of the Taj Mahal, which were opened in January this year for carrying out conservation work, reports Anuja Jaiswal. This was done to debunk claims about the presence of Hindu idols and structures in the so-called “permanently locked” rooms, as was claimed in a petition filed in the Allahabad high court (HC).

The Lucknow bench of the HC had dismissed the petition filed by BJP media in-charge of Ayodhya, Rajneesh Singh, last week that sought permission to open the “locked rooms” and get a survey done to ascertain the presence of idols of Hindu deities. After the dismissal of his petition, Singh said that he would approach the Supreme Court and pursue the matter of the “secret” Taj cells. TOI had reported on May 13 quoting senior ASI officials that the Taj Mahal's below the main structure were “not always locked” and that they had no idols. The officials had said that “various records and reports reviewed till now have not shown the existence of any (Hindu) idols”.

Photographs of the opened rooms in the basement were released earlier this month by ASI, whose superintending archeologist (Agra circle) Raj Kumar Patel said pictures of restoration work done by authorities were now available on ASI’s website “for everyone to view”.

Officials added that conservation work was carried out in these cells between December 2021 and March 2022. The cost of the project was roughly Rs 6 lakh. Several photographs that were then taken were sent to ASI's Delhi headquarters. Some of them were included in the ASI’s January newsletter, which was uploaded on May 5 on their website.

The ASI has recently started publishing a monthly newsletter, which was earlier released annually. Each circle has to send highlights of work done by it to the headquarters every month, said officials.
Source: Times Of India

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Gyanvapi mosque: Only 50% of videography survey report ready, team to seek more time from court to submit complete findings

May 17, 2022

A court-mandate videography survey of Gyanvapi mosque lasted for three days from 14 to 16 May and only 50 per cent of the report is ready due to which, the team will seek more time from a local court in Varanasi on Tuesday to submit the survey report.

"Only 50 per cent report ready. It is not complete yet, which is why we won't be able to produce it before the court today (Tuesday, 17 May). We will seek 3-4 days' time from court," news agency ANI quoted Assistant Court Commissioner Ajay Pratap Singh as saying.

On the third day of Gyanvapi masjid survey on Monday, a 'Shivling' was found by the court-commissioned team in the mosque premises after which the local court asked the Uttar Pradesh government to "immediately" seal places and prohibit people entering in the restricted area.

The local court in Varanasi has also directed District Magistrate, Police Commissioner, and CRPF Commandment in the city to ensure the protection of the sealed place where Shivling has been reportedly found.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court will, on Tuesday, hear a plea filed by the management of Gyanvapi mosque against the survey of the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri complex in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.

As per the updated list of business of the apex court for Tuesday, a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and P S Narasimha would be hearing the plea of the Committee of Management Anjuman Intezamia Masjid, which manages the affairs of Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi.

Also Read: Gyanvapi Mosque case: Supreme Court to hear petition against survey as AIMPLB calls Shivling claim unfair

On Thursday (12 May) a local court in Varanasi said that the videography survey of the Gyanvapi mosque will continue and has to be completed by 17 May following the order, a court-mandated videography survey the Masjid complex started on Saturday (14 May).

The survey of the mosque complex on Monday started at 8 am and concluded around 10:15 am. "After working for over two hours, the court commission concluded its work on Monday at around 10.15 am. All parties were satisfied with the work," Varanasi District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma told mediapersons.

Gyanvapi mosque is located close to the iconic Kashi Vishwanath temple in the temple town, Varanasi. The local court is hearing a plea by five Hindu women asking for year-long access to pray at a Hindu shrine behind the western wall of the Gyanvapi Mosque complex in Varanasi.

Source: Firstpost

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AIMPLB condemns sealing of ‘wuzu khana’ of Gyanvapi masjid

17th May 2022

Lucknow: The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has reacted sharply and condemned the survey of Varanasi’s Gyanvapi masjid and sealing of ‘wuzu khana’ (ablution area).

The board termed the survey, its report and sealing of ‘wuzu khana’ as gross injustice to Muslims.

In a statement issued late on Monday evening, the AIMPLB said the current situation created about the Gyanvapi mosque was completely unacceptable to Muslims and Gyanvapi “was a mosque and will continue to remain a mosque till the end”.

AIMPLB General Secretary, Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani said, “Gyanvapi is a mosque and will remain a mosque. The attempt to transform it into a temple is nothing more than a conspiracy to spread hate by communal forces.”

However, Rais Ahmad Ansari, an advocate of the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee that manages the Gyanvapi mosque, has called petitioners’ claim about a “Shivling” being found at the mosque “misleading”.

“There’s only a fountain in the mosque’s wuzu khana,” Ansari said.

His statement came after a court in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi ordered the sealing of the spot where “Shivling” was reportedly found and Hindu petitioners claimed that a ‘Shivling’ had been found in the survey.

The court order was based on a petition that was filed by an advocate that there was some concrete evidence that needed to be protected.

The Supreme Court bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud will hear this case on Tuesday.

An appeal that has been filed by the Masjid Committee against the Allahabad High Court’s order allowing the court-appointed Commissioner to the Inspector, conduct a survey and videography of the Gyanvapi mosque.

The Gyanvapi mosque is adjacent to the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi.

At present, the Varanasi court has directed the Archaeological Survey of India to probe the structure of the Gyanvapi masjid.

On April 18, 2021, five Delhi-based women — Rakhi Singh, Laxmi Devi, Sita Sahu, among others moved the court with their plea where they sought permission for daily prayers before the idols of Hindu deities on the outer walls of the masjid.

The petitioners also sought to stop their opponents from causing any damage to the idols.

Source: Siasat Daily

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Fault lines widening amongst Indian Muslim religious leaders

May 16 2022

By Asad Mirza

New Delhi, May 16 (IANS): Recent outreach activities by Muslim leaders across India relays very disturbing and hopeless signs, instead of formulating a strategy to unify the Indian Muslims, these leaders are hell bent on further dividing them in various denominations and groupings.

As per the reports based on first-person accounts and news circulating on various social media platforms, the Indian Muslims across the country are worried about their and their future generation's future in the country. The community as a whole is living under a siege mentality and is unable to fathom how to proceed further. One positive fallout of this stress is that now the common Indian Muslim is ready to come out on the streets and demands his rights and stand against the forceful establishment, in absence of any leadership.

This change amongst the common Indian Muslims started in 2019 after the finalisation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The protests, which started from Delhi's Shaheen Bagh, soon spread to many other cities. A novel feature of most of these protests was that Muslim women were at the forefront of these demonstrations.

More recently, after the bulldozer politics started in certain Indian states, Muslims in many cities came out once again against the establishment and stood in solidarity with one another.

However, one incongruous fact, which has emerged from these developments, is the absence of any Muslim leader, with an all-India appeal, leading these movements or even coming out in support of these people movements. This once again proves the point that after 1947 the Indian Muslims have been betrayed by their own leaders -- both religious and political.

The fact remains that the so-called religious leaders are busy in amassing wealth in the name of the religion and expanding their personal empires. In addition, the social and political leaders pay lip-service to the Muslims' sentiments and just appear at the right moment to get their mug shots for the photos and videos, making sentimental not practical statements, whilst engaged in serving their political masters and enjoying their political and financial patronage.

However, a rather more worrying is the fact that recently some Muslim leaders have come out to speak against the establishment and its anti-Muslim policies, but in fact their main aim is not to vilify the establishment, but to vilify their religious opponents and divide the community on fissiparous tendencies.

Last week, one such conference was held in Hyderabad, Telangana. The main organisers and speakers at the conference looked more intent on creating divisions within the community, instead of offering any cohesive, forward looking and practical plan to counter the anti-Muslim narratives and operations.

The reports say that most of the speakers at the conference were intent on blaming different international organisations like the Muslim Brotherhood, Ikhwan, Al Qaeda and ISIS for the current plight of Indian Muslims, which sounds so incongruous!

I fail to comprehend how these scholarly figures were able to draw any parallel between the international organisations and Indian Muslims. Even to make any connection of the Indian Muslims with these organisations is to make them more unsafe and open to a whole lot of criticism, added to the fact that Indian Muslims might be sympathetic to these organisations but they have never been and nor will be associated with these organisations, and so far no evidence-based study has been able to link the two. So in affect these leaders in the name of serving the Muslim cause were making them vulnerable to more attacks.

One of the leaders even went to the extent of urging the Indian Muslims to connect with the rulers and the governments, as per the proper methodology of Islam and to advise them, instead of uprisings and protests to dethrone them and occupy their seats. I hope the incongruity of this statement will not be lost to the readers.

Another speaker spoke about the qualities and patterns of Khawariji terrorists, while exposing the double standards of Islamist preachers like Yusuf Qardawi, Hasan Al Banna, Syed Qutub and Abul-Ala Maududi. This too has no resonance in India, so far.

Now coming to another of these so-called 'Muslim' conferences, which took place in Mumbai on 12 May and was addressed by about 35 Muslim religious, social and political leaders. At the end of the day long conference they issued a statement, one point of which read: "The meeting of the Muslim Community leadership appreciates the courage of local Muslim leaders for resisting the evil designs of Fascist forces and thwarting their plans of creating large scale violence against Muslims. It is observed that Muslims organising themselves to defend their lives and properties is a positive sign. The meeting calls upon Muslim leadership to organise at local levels and continuously review the situation at your respective cities. An organised approach towards such planned attacks on Muslims will be the best possible way to thwart the plans of the Fascist forces in a situation where unfortunately the state declines to do its duty of protecting the Minorities."

The third one of these conferences is to be held in New Delhi on 21 May, organised by a consultative Muslim body and supported by a religious and socio-cultural organisation - which till a decade ago banned its members from participating in the democratic and parliamentary process of India and a fledgling political party and a religious denomination. And yet another one is scheduled to be held in New Delhi on 29 May under the banner of Muslims intellectuals (sic).

Coming back to the statement issued after the Mumbai conference, one can take heart from the sentiments expressed by the community's leaders who have recognised the efforts by the common Indian Muslims to come out against the tyrannical rulers and urged them to organise themselves. But in reality these common Muslims have been made and in future too will be made the sacrificial scapegoat again, whilst these so-called leaders remain ensconced in their luxurious homes with no threat either financial or physical looming over their heads.

I have written and spoken many times in the past that the Indian Muslims have to adopt not a reactive but a proactive strategy to counter any campaigns against them. To construct and manage such an apparatus, which keeps an eye on the planning of aggressors and plan a counter strategy, you have to be equipped with monitoring, research and media teams, within the constitutional framework of the country, to counter the opposition's efforts.

But alas none of our leaders is ready to adopt such an approach and the biggest irony is that even if the Indian Muslims agree to adopt such a strategy, then it will have to be led by the so-called religious leaders eschewing their religious denominational differences and act and behave as One monolith religion, as others view you, not as being Deobandi, Barelvi, Ahl-e Hadith etc.
Source: Daiji World

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MP: Tensions in Neemuch city after idol found placed near mosque; police say situation under control

by Iram Siddique | Bhopal |

May 17, 2022

There were reports of tension in Neemuch city, in the district of the same name in Madhya Pradesh, on Monday after an idol of Lord Hanuman was found placed near a dargah in the city, police said late Monday.

Later in the evening, police fired tear gas shells to disperse a crowd that threw stones after “some equipment” were set on fire inside a mosque in the locality, police said.

According to police, stone-pelting went on for nearly half-an-hour before the situation was brought under complete control.

Neemuch’s Superitendent of Police, Suraj Kumar, said the police were informed about the idol being placed near the dargah late afternoon, and district administration and police officials reached the site soon. In an effort to stop the situation from escalating, members of the minority community were asked to sit in the control room and raise their complaints, instead of assembling at the site, officers said.

Even as the situation was controlled in the afternoon, fire was spotted from inside a mosque which lies approximately 200 metres from the dargah. “Some equipments, like a cooler kept in the mosque, were set on fire,” a Neemuch district police officer said. Fire engines were rushed in and the blaze was brought under control.

But a crowd assembled again around 9 pm and stone-pelting began soon after, an officer said.

Source: Indian Express

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Karnataka: Hindu Groups Claim Hanuman Temple Existed at Mandya Mosque, Seek Permission to Pray

MAY 16, 2022

Amid the raging Varanasi Gyanvapi Mosque controversy, some Hindu groups in Karnataka have now sought permission to pray at the Jamia Masjid in Srirangapatna claiming that a Hanuman temple existed there before the mosque was built.

The Hindu outfits – Narendra Modi Vichar Manch and Sri Ram Sene among others – have also asked the Karnataka government to stop the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) site from being used as a prayer hall by Muslims. Further, they have submitted a petition before the Mandya deputy commissioner, seeking permission to offer pooja at the mosque.

The groups claimed that letters by Tipu Sultan to rulers in Persia hinted at the existence of a Hanuman temple before the mosque was built.

“They have built the mosque over Hanuman temple. Hindu organisations in Mandya have submitted a memorandum. But I say, even before performing pooja, the madrassa at the site must be thrown out and microphone etc. must be removed,” said Sri Ram Sene founder Pramod Muthalik.

Source: News18

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A local court to hear plea for survey of Mathura mosque ‘on the lines of Gyanvapi’

by Manish Sahu | Lucknow |

May 17, 2022

WHILE ALL eyes are on the Kashi Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi Mosque complex in Varanasi, a similar petition seeking videography of the Shahi Idgah Masjid adjacent to Krishnajanmabhoomi was recently moved in a local Mathura court.

The application seeks an advocate commissioner for assessment of the site “on the lines of (the) Gyanvapi mosque”, to determine “existence of Hindu artefacts and ancient religious inscriptions on the mosque premises”.

The application was filed in the court of Civil Judge (Senior Division), Mathura, a day after the Allahabad High Court directed it to dispose of all cases related to the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi-Shahi Idgah Masjid dispute within four months.

On May 12, while disposing of a petition filed by Bhagwan Shri Krishna Virajman And Another, the High Court said: “The Civil Judge (Senior Division), Mathura, is directed to decide the aforesaid applications expeditiously, preferably within a period of four months from the date a certified copy of this order is produced before him, and after giving an opportunity of hearing to the affected parties….”

The High Court also stated in its order: “It is clarified that the court has not expressed any opinion either regarding the maintainability of the case or the merits of claim made by the petitioner.”

The next day, May 13, an application was moved in the court of Civil Judge (Senior Division), Mathura, seeking appointment of an advocate commissioner to carry out inspection of the Shahi Idgah Masjid.

Petitioner Manish Yadav, who had earlier filed an application in the High Court for early disposal of petitions connected with the disputed Mathura site, told The Indian Express: “I requested the Mathura court to appoint a senior advocate, an advocate commissioner, and get a video survey done of Shahi Idgah immediately, because there are still remains of Hindu religion inside the mosque. These are important facts, and the Opposition can remove or delete them. The court is likely to take up my application on July 1.”

National president of an outfit called the Narayani Sena, Yadav said he had moved the high court as petitions were pending, including ones seeking a survey of the site by the Archeological Survey of India and a direction to stop any construction at the site.

Earlier, an advocate named Mahendra Pratap Singh had filed an application in the same civil court seeking that a commission be appointed to survey the mosque.

Advocate Tanveer Khan, who is representing the Shahi Idgah Masjid, said they were waiting for the July 1 hearing of the four petitions pending in connection with the disputed site.

Meanwhile, the District Judge Court, Mathura, is likely to soon pronounce its judgment on the maintainability of a civil suit seeking removal of the mosque, claiming it was built on Krishna Janmabhoomi, the birthplace of Lord Krishna. The suit was filed two years ago by the ‘Deity and the Janmasthan (birthplace)’ and ‘next friend’ Ranjana Agnihotri, a Lucknow resident, and others.

The petitioners have also sought cancellation of a compromise decree between the governing body of the temple complex and the management trust of the mosque in 1968. The petitioners claim that the agreement between the Shree Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sangh, Mathura, and the mosque trust was “illegal and void ab initio (not legally binding)” as the land was vested in another trust, Shree Krishna Janmabhoomi Trust, and the Seva Sangh was not authorised to act on its behalf.

Source: Indian Express

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Allahabad HC adjourns Kashi Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi mosque case hearing till May 20

May 16, 2022

PRAYAGRAJ: The Allahabad high court on Monday adjourned the hearing of Varanasi’s Kashi Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi Mosque case till May 20.

As the hearing resumed on Monday, the counsel representing the parties put their submissions before the court.

Hearing a petition filed by Anjuman Intezamia Masajid of Varanasi and other connected matters, Justice Prakash Padia, while adjourning the hearing of the case till May 20 observed, “Heard counsel for the parties at length. Due to paucity of time, the arguments could not be concluded. Put up this matter in the additional cause list on May 20 at 12 noon.”

Earlier on April 28, the counsel appearing on behalf of the temple had argued that the property in dispute was not a waqf property and the provisions of the Waqf Act were not applicable here.

The original suit was filed in 1991 in Varanasi district court, seeking restoration of the ancient temple at the site where the Gyanvapi mosque currently stands. The plea has been taken in the suit that the said mosque is a part of the temple.

At one stage, the civil judge (senior division), fast track court (FTC) of Varanasi, had on April 8, 2021 directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a survey of KV Temple-Gyanvapi Mosque complex to find out whether a temple was demolished to build the mosque that stands there adjacent to the KV Temple.

Subsequently, the high court, in the present case, had on September 9, 2021, stayed the Varanasi court’s order dated April 8, 2021, that directed the ASI to ‘conduct a comprehensive physical survey’ of the KVT-Gyanvapi Mosque complex and further proceedings of this case.

Source: Times Of India

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25 Muslim League workers get life imprisonment for siblings’ murder

17th May 2022

PALAKKAD:  The Palakkad Additional District and Sessions Fast Track Court on Monday sentenced 25  Muslim League members of Kallankuzhi to life imprisonment for killing two brothers belonging to the AP Sunni faction in 2013.

They were directed to pay a fine of Rs 50,000 each to the family of the deceased by Judge T H Rajitha.

There are 27 accused in the case. Fourth accused Cheenan Hamzappa died during the trial, while a case is also pending in the Juvenile Court against one of the accused who was a minor at the time of the crime.

The court declared all accused persons guilty on May 11.

Brothers Kunhi Hamza, 48, and Noorudheen, 42, of Pallath house were killed by the accused on November 20, 2013.  The duo’s eldest brother Kunhu Mohammed, 66, was seriously injured in the incident and later became one of the main witnesses in the case.

The rift between the duo and the accused people over the collection and utilisation of funds in the Juma Masjid in Kallankuzhi is said to be the motive behind the murder. Special Prosecutor T C Krishnan Narayanan appeared for the Prosecution.

Source: New Indian Express

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"Unwarranted Comments": India To Islamic Nations' Group On Kashmir

May 16, 2022

New Delhi: India On Monday hit out at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for its "unwarranted" comments on the delimitation exercise in Jammu and Kashmir.

"We are dismayed that the OIC secretariat has once again made unwarranted comments on the internal affairs of India," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.

"As in the past, the Government of India categorically rejects the assertions made by the OIC secretariat on the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir which is an integral and inalienable part of India," he said.

The delimitation commission, tasked with redrawing parliamentary and assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir, notified its final report earlier this month.

"The OIC should refrain from carrying out its communal agenda vis-a-vis India at the behest of one country," the Ministry spokesperson said in an oblique reference to Pakistan.

The completion of the delimitation exercise paves the way for holding assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir. The former state is without an elected government since June 2018.

In a statement earlier, the general secretariat of the OIC said it "expresses deep concern over India's attempts to redraw the electoral boundaries" of Jammu and Kashmir, alleging it is a violation of the rights of the Kashmiri people.

Source: ND TV

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Southeast Asia


PAS veep says Muafakat Nasional’s Muslim unity agenda with Umno bigger than political survival

17 May 2022


KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 ― PAS vice-president Datuk Seri Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar said that the Malay-Muslim unity agenda is the reason the Islamist party will continue to defend its relationship with Umno through the Muafakat Nasional (MN) pact.

Malay daily Berita Harian reported Ahmad Samsuri as saying that the Muslim unity agenda, which is the mainstay of MN, is bigger than the 'survival' or continuity of any particular political party.

“We will continue to work on discussions with Umno to ensure that the cooperation between the two parties remains intact, even though some leaders describing MN as being “buried”.

“We see a big agenda and not just a party agenda (or) party politics,” he told reporters when met at the Rhu Rendang state assembly Hari Raya celebration at the Marang district office square in Terengganu yesterday.

He was commenting on the fate of the MN pact and its ties with Umno that has been described as strained after PAS joined Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) to form the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition that locked horns with Barisan Nasional (BN) in the recent Melaka and Johor state elections.

Umno is the lynchpin party of BN that won landslide victories in the two recent state elections.

Ahmad Samsuri, who is also the Terengganu Mentri Besar, also echoed PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang’s assertion that the party must always strive to ensure both MN and PN can continue and be one of the alternatives in the country compared to the Opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition.

He said this was despite certain quarters condemning PAS and felt that the party’s cooperation in MN with Umno is over.

“For PAS we see a bigger agenda for the ummah (Malay-Muslims).

“Which is bigger, the ummah or the survival of a particular political party alone? We (PAS) have not given up on defending MN because for us the pact is unlike what some political party leaders have described,” he explained to the Malay daily.

Ahmad Samsuri added that PAS cannot afford to be upset if the other party does not want to commit.

“This is not a matter of getting engaged, nor is it a matter of marriage or looking for a suitable spouse.

“On the contrary, this is a matter of the ummah. The importance of the Muslim’s bigger agenda is greater than anything else,” he said.

When asked if PAS was disappointed with the many criticisms made against the party, Ahmad Samsuri said the party was not discouraged and will continue the struggle.

He said God willing, may what has been done be blessed by Allah SWT.

The MN pact’s charter was signed between Umno and PAS in September 2019, following the defeat of BN at the 14th general election the year before.

MN was formed to initially contest against Bersatu who were the predominant Malay party that was previously with the PH government, before the Sheraton Move in 2020.

The political manoeuvring, led by Bersatu president and former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, resulted in the party defecting from PH to form and lead the then ruling PN coalition with PAS and Umno.

Source: Malay Mail

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Dr M threatens to sue Zahid over ‘Kutty’ remarks

May 17, 2022

PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has threatened to sue Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi over a statement Zahid made in 2017 questioning Mahathir’s lineage.

“I do not like to take people to court despite many having slandered me in the past because I know this is normal in politics,” he said in a blog posting today.

“This time, however, I feel the need to act.

“Zahid’s lies are nauseating. Not only do they hurt my reputation, it is dangerous to allow him to continue lying to Umno supporters and the Malays just so he can remain in power.”

In July 2017, Zahid said he was informed by the National Registration Department that Mahathir’s original name was “Mahathir a/l Iskandar Kutty”.

Although Zahid did not specifically name Mahathir, he referenced the former prime minister’s catchphrase as well as his 22 years in power.

He then accused Mahathir of only championing Malays in order to use the community to achieve his personal goals.

Mahathir acknowledged his Indian ancestry, adding that he had gone so far as to include it in his book.

He insisted, however, that he is Malay and that both his birth certificate and identity card named him as Mahathir bin Mohamad.

“I waited (to see) what proof Zahid wanted to show the people (that my name is Mahathir a/l Iskandar Kutty) but up till the end of the previous general election, there was nothing.

“According to Article 160 of the Federal Constitution, I am Malay and my struggle has been for my people. My parents were born in Tanah Melayu before Merdeka and we are all Muslims.

“When I was a child, we spoke Malay at home and we have always practised Malay customs.”

On his blog post, Mahathir also called Zahid a “compulsive liar”, saying that the Umno president’s recent lawsuit against him was nothing more than an attempt to hide his lies.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Arab World


YPG/PKK terror group keeps recruiting, using children in Syria

Ömer Koparan, Mehmet Burak Karacaoğlu 


AZAZ, Syria

After suffering heavy losses amid Turkish military operations in northern Iraq and Syria, the YPG/PKK terror group is forcing minors to serve in combat zones, in a flagrant violation of both the laws of war and human rights agreements.

The terror group declared mobilization in response to the military campaigns of the Turkish Armed Forces in northern Iraq, and it uses its proxies in Syria to recruit children.

Recently, a post on a website linked to the YPG/PKK showed a group of over 10 children reading out a notice.

The terror group's practice of abducting children and pushing them into combat zones is nothing new, as seen in the US State Department’s 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report.

According to the report, the YPG, the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, forcibly recruited girls as young as 12 from refugee camps located in northwestern Syria.

Moreover, a January 2020 UN human rights office (OHCHR) report said its findings suggest the YPG/PKK is using children as fighters in Syria.

Virginia Gamba, the UN’s point person on ending the use of child fighters, as the secretary-general’s special representative for children and armed conflict, signed an action plan with the SDF – the label the YPG/PKK uses in Syria – to end and prevent the recruitment and use of minors under 18.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Hezbollah MP threatens rivals before election results

16 May ,2022

A lawmaker from the Iran-backed Hezbollah group on Monday warned rivals against becoming “shields for the Israelis,” as Lebanon awaits election results likely to weaken the Shia group’s bloc.

“We accept you as opponents in parliament, but we will not accept you as shields for the Israelis,” said Mohammed Raad, according to Hezbollah’s Al Manar TV channel.

In mid-2006, a 34-day war pitted Israel -- whose troops had withdrawn from southern Lebanon in 2000 -- against Hezbollah.

Raad headed the outgoing parliamentary bloc led by Hezbollah and was re-elected Sunday in the first polls since the country’s economy was dragged to the brink of collapse and a mass anti-government protest movement sparked hope for change in 2019.

His comment raised fears of unrest as the country awaits results Tuesday, which will show whether Hezbollah and its allies can keep an actionable majority in parliament.

“Don’t become the fuel for civil war,” Raad told opponents.

Lebanon suffered a 15-year-old civil war that ended in 1990 with most belligerents turning into political parties that have ruled the country for the past 30 years.

Independents from the country’s nascent protest movement and members of Hezbollah’s arch-rival, the Lebanese Forces (LF), are expected to make major gains in Sunday’s polls.

Samir Geagea’s LF, which has strong ties with Saudi Arabia, should emerge as the largest Christian party, at the expense of President Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), which is allied with Hezbollah.

Hezbollah, considered a “terrorist” organization by many Western and Gulf countries, has so far retained all its seats.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Driven out of their homes by PKK, Ezidis decry silence of int'l community

Zehra Nur Düz  



Ezidi community who could not return to their homes due to the PKK presence in northern Iraq's Sinjar region have been struggling to survive in the camps in Duhok, a city in Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) area.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Ezidis from Sinjar decried the indifference of the international community to the difficulties they have faced so far due to the oppression by the PKK terror group.

Ezidis, who had to flee their homes after the Daesh/ISIS terror group carried out an attack on the Sinjar district of Mosul in 2014, have been living in camps under harsh conditions for eight years.

After being driven out of their homes by the PKK, a vast majority of the community dwells in tents, despite unfavorable weather conditions in the summer and winter.

Ezidis await the implementation of the 2020 Sinjar Agreement, with one of the main objectives being the elimination of PKK terrorists in the region.

In October 2020, the Iraqi federal government and KRG in northern Iraq signed an agreement to preserve security in Sinjar by the Iraqi federal security forces in coordination with the KRG Peshmerga forces.

Ezidis called on international institutions to help them end their nomadic life and create suitable conditions for them to return to their hometowns.

Emin Bahri Ibrahim, who took refuge in the Sharya Refugee Camp in Duhok, said he had to leave his home in Sinjar twice over the past seven years.

“We have been calling out to the world since 2014, but no one hears our voices. We expect conditions to improve in Sinjar and for illegal groups (PKK) to leave our city. That's how we can go back," Ibrahim told Anadolu Agency.

"The superpowers in the world and human rights organizations are not interested in our problems. Ezidis have been exposed to persecution, but the international community and the Iraqi government did not take care of us," said Faisal Osman Resho, another Ezidi from Sinjar.

Resho accused the UN, human rights organizations, the Iraqi government, and other institutions of remaining indifferent to the problems of Ezidis, saying: “Our situation couldn't be worse than this.”

He called on the Iraqi parliament to hold a special session on the situation of Ezidis and find an immediate solution to their problems.

How did terrorist PKK gain a foothold in Sinjar?

Daesh/ISIS terrorists attacked Sinjar, a region with an Ezidi-majority population, in August 2014.

The terror group kidnapped and killed thousands of people, including women and children, or detained them in areas under its control.

The PKK terrorist organization managed to establish a foothold in Sinjar in 2014 under the pretext of protecting the Ezidi community from Daesh/ISIS terrorists.

Sinjar has a strategic position as it is some 120 kilometers (74 miles) from Mosul and close to the Turkish-Syrian border.

The terror group aims to create a corridor between the YPG/PKK terrorists in northern Syria and Iraq’s northern Qandil region.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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UN chief issues call for ‘inclusive government’ after Lebanon vote

17 May ,2022

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on Lebanon to form an “inclusive government” to tackle the country's economic crisis, after elections held over the weekend, his office said Monday.

Guterres “looks forward to the swift formation of an inclusive government that can finalize the agreement with the International Monetary Fund and accelerate the implementation of reforms necessary to set Lebanon on the path to recovery,” his office said in a statement.

The UN chief also called on the country's new parliament “to urgently adopt all legislation necessary to stabilize the economy and improve governance.”

He stressed the need for Lebanon’s “political leaders to work jointly with the best interest of Lebanon and the Lebanese people in mind.”

Lebanon's largest parliamentary bloc, led by the Iran-backed Hezbollah armed movement, appeared to have suffered a setback against the opposition and independents, according to partial results released on Monday.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government arrests members of PKK-linked group



The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq announced Monday that its security units had arrested members of a group affiliated with the PKK terrorist organization ahead of a planned attack.

According to the anti-terror units of the KRG, the terrorists were planning to carry out rocket attacks on Peshmerga forces, public areas, state buildings and dams.

The Security Council of the KRG announced on April 26 that a “dangerous plot” aimed at the region was neutralized and that security forces had confiscated a large number of explosives.
Source: Anadolu Agency

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Syrian prisoner released in return for money despite Assad regime's ‘amnesty’

Ömer Koparan, Ethem Emre Özcan 



A man imprisoned in Syria who was subjected to torture for three years says the Assad regime uses a "detainee file" as a tool for extorting money.

Mohammed Shilash, who is from the town of Sor in Deir Ez-Zor province, decided to leave the country to work in Lebanon in 2019 after his financial situation deteriorated due to the war.

Planning to cross into Lebanon without being caught by regime forces, Mohammed and his friends made a deal with a human smuggler.

But his dream of leaving for Lebanon came to nothing with his arrest by regime forces at the meeting point with the human trafficker in the capital, Damascus.

After footage of the “Tadamon Massacre” carried out by Assad regime forces surfaced in April this year, the regime legislated a “repentance law.”

Syria's military intelligence service conducted the massacre in the Tadamon neighborhood of Damascus in April 2013, and Palestinians were among the 41 victims. Members of Branch 227 forced civilians to run toward a mass grave while shooting at them. Those murdered in the massacre were apparently Syrian loyalists who were killed in order to threaten local residents against joining insurrectionists.

The Assad regime, which keep at least 132,000 Syrians in prisons, released only 476 people in line with the new law, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), which documents human rights abuses in Syria.

'I was accused of being Iraqi'

Having obtained his freedom by giving a bribe despite the amnesty, Mohammed said they were held in a regime prison for three years without any charges.

"We thought we would be free in two days…Our eyes were blindfolded. They put us in single cells. We were in fear. At that moment, we realized that we had fallen into the hands of al-Muhabarat," or General Intelligence Directorate, he said, speaking to Anadolu Agency.

He said he carried the identity card of one of his younger relatives with him to avoid being forcibly recruited into the ranks of the regime forces in case of capture.

During the questioning, Mohammed said he told everything out of fear and confessed that the identity card did not belong to him.

"The identity issue made things worse. They accused me of being Iraqi. After that, the torture began. As a result of the torture, I confessed everything they wanted. I was subjected to beatings and torture for about one and a half months. I was subjected to humiliation and unspeakable curses," he said.

'Persecution usually took place after midnight'

Transferred to a prison in Damascus about one and a half months after his first detention, Mohammed said: "I was taken to a three-meter (9.84-foot) wide ward in the prison. There were many people in the tiny ward. There was no place to sit. Two days later, we were transferred to single cells," he added.

"We had no rights. They tortured without question. We were hanging from the ceiling by our arms. This was the worst of the torture.

"While we were in this state, they would pour water on us and hit us. The persecution usually took place after midnight."

He noted that the torture continued for months, saying: "We couldn't go to the toilet. We had to relieve ourselves where we were held."

"We would be left hungry. They would give three olives and a piece of bread. They only gave cheese once a week and they would dirty it too.”

'They wouldn't remove the corpses until they rotted'

Mohammed noted that people are constantly getting sick in prison due to bad conditions and that adequate health services are not provided.

“Dozens of people died from torture, disease and filth,” he said.

"They wouldn't remove the corpses until they rotted. They used to eliminate most of the corpses by burning. When I witnessed all this, I thought I would suffer the same fate as them. I never thought I would be free," he added.

Comparing the prison to a "slaughterhouse," he noted that massacres took place in regime dungeons.

Saying he could never get in touch with his family, Mohammed said his family got him transferred to Adra Central Prison in Damascus by paying a lot of money.

"I was held there for about six months. Adra Central Prison was better than Sednaya. It was as if I had escaped from hell," he said.

Mohammed said the so-called amnesty law announced by the Assad regime about two weeks ago is a game.

"Lastly, an amnesty was issued, but despite this, my family paid millions of Syrian liras for my release."

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Iraq balks at greater Chinese control of its oilfields

17 May ,2022

Iraq’s oil ministry thwarted three prospective deals last year that would have handed Chinese firms more control over its oilfields and led to an exodus of international oil majors that Baghdad wants to invest in its creaking economy.

Since the start of 2021, plans by Russia’s Lukoil and US oil major Exxon Mobil to sell stakes in major fields to Chinese state-backed firms have hit the buffers after interventions from Iraq’s oil ministry, according to Iraqi oil officials and industry executives.

Selling a stake to a state-run Chinese company was also one of several options being considered by Britain’s BP, but officials persuaded it to stay in Iraq for now, people familiar with the matter said.

China is Iraq’s top investor and Baghdad was the biggest beneficiary last year of Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative, receiving $10.5 billion in financing for infrastructure projects including a power plant and an airport.

But when it comes to further Chinese investment in major oilfields, Baghdad has drawn a line in the sand.

Iraq’s government and officials at state-run firms are concerned that further consolidation of fields in the hands of Chinese companies could accelerate an exodus of Western oil companies, a total of seven Iraqi oil officials and executives with companies operating in Iraq told Reuters in interviews.

Supported by state-run oil company officials, Iraq’s Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar dissuaded Lukoil last year from selling a stake in one of the country’s largest fields, West Qurna 2, to Chinese state firm Sinopec, three people familiar with the matter said.

Iraqi officials also intervened last year to stop Chinese state-backed firms buying Exxon’s stake in West Qurna 1 and to persuade BP to stay in Iraq rather than offloading its interest in the giant Rumaila oilfield to a Chinese company, people familiar with the matter said.

Combined, Rumaila and West Qurna produce about half of the crude coming out of Iraq, which sits on the fifth-largest oil reserves in the world.

Iraq’s oil ministry did not respond to requests for comment about the deals or the minister’s role in any interventions.

The government worried that China’s dominance could make Iraq less attractive for investment from elsewhere, two government officials said.

China’s strengthening relationship with Iran has helped its position in Iraq due to Tehran’s political and military influence there, but the oil ministry is wary of ceding more control over the country’s key resources, some officials said.

“We don’t want the Iraqi energy sector to be labelled as a China-led energy sector and this attitude is agreed by government and the oil ministry,” another Iraqi official said.

Risky strategy

The interventions over BP, Exxon and Lukoil’s positions in Iraq come after British oil major Shell decided in 2018 to withdraw from Iraq’s vast Majnoon oilfield.

The interventions also mark a shift in stance after Chinese companies won most energy deals and contracts awarded over the past four years. Iraqi oil officials said Chinese firms have accepted lower profit margins than most rivals.

“All the rules regarding tenders were formulated jointly by the Chinese and Iraqi sides and were conducted under transparent and fair principles,” said state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) in an emailed statement.

Pushing back against further Chinese investment is a risky strategy, though, as there’s no guarantee others will step up and the government needs billions of dollars to rebuild the economy after the ISIS insurgency was defeated in 2017.

Over the past decade, oil revenue accounted for 99 percent of Iraq’s exports, 85 percent of the country’s budget and 42 percent of its gross domestic product, according to the World Bank.

While oil majors jostled to get access to Iraq’s vast oilfields after the US-led invasion in 2003, they are increasingly focused on the energy transition and more profitable plays elsewhere. They also want better terms to develop fields, oil executives said.

China is among the biggest buyers of Iraq’s crude and Chinese state firms have built up a dominant position in its oil industry.

But when Lukoil notified the government last summer that it was considering selling some of its stake in West Qurna 2 to Sinopec, the oil minister intervened, people familiar with the matter said.

It has not previously been reported that Sinopec was the potential buyer of Lukoil’s stake. The Chinese company did not respond to a request for comment.

To encourage Lukoil to stay, Iraq offered a sweetener, a person with direct knowledge said.

A few months after Lukoil signalled it was considering a sale, Baghdad finally approved its plan to develop a field known as Block 10, where the Russian company had discovered an oil reservoir in 2017. Afterwards, Lukoil dropped the idea of selling its stake in West Qurna 2, the source said.

Lukoil did not respond to a request for comment.

BP and Exxon

Over the past few years BP has also spoken to the government about its options - including leaving Iraq altogether - before settling on spinning off its stake in Rumaila into a standalone company last year, two people familiar with the matter said.

Oil minister Abdul Jabbar led efforts to convince BP not to leave as the government was concerned its partner in the field, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), would buy BP’s stake, the people said. Baghdad was also keen to keep such a high-profile international oil major in the country, they said.

BP declined to comment.

When Exxon flagged its intention to leave Iraq in January 2021, meanwhile, US officials told Exxon they were unhappy with the prospect of the biggest US oil major pulling out – for reasons that echoed Iraqi concerns.

State department officials said Exxon’s departure could create a vacuum for Chinese companies to fill, a person familiar with the conversations said.

US officials then asked Exxon what it would take to stay in Iraq, the person said, declining to give further details.

A State Department spokesperson said: “We regularly engage with our Iraqi counterparts on fostering an environment conducive to private sector investment.”

Exxon had signed an agreement for the sale of its interest in West Qurna 1 to CNOOC and PetroChina, the listed arm of CNPC, people familiar with the matter said.

Neither CNOOC nor CNPC responded to requests for comment about the deals.

Exxon’s stake was valued at $350 million to $375 million, said people familiar with the matter.

Iraq has veto power over oilfield deals, however, and did not approve the transaction.

Exxon filed for arbitration with the International Chamber of Commerce against Basra Oil Co., arguing that it had followed the terms of its contract for West Qurna 1 and had a good deal on the table, people familiar with the matter said.

The oil ministry then took the unusual step of trying to broker a deal on Exxon’s behalf. The ministry offered Exxon’s stake to other Western companies including Chevron Corp.

No one was interested. Rather than let the stake go to the Chinese companies, Baghdad said the state-run Iraq National Oil Company (INOC) would take it instead, though INOC is still in the process of being revived after being defunct for many years.

“(Exxon) will continue to work closely and constructively to reach an equitable resolution,” said a spokeswoman.

Service contracts

Iraq’s oil industry is mostly based on technical service contracts between the state-backed Basra Oil Co. and foreign companies that are repaid costs plus a fee per barrel to develop fields, while Iraq retains ownership of the reserves.

Oil majors typically prefer deals that allow a share in profits rather than a set fee.

The priority for Chinese firms, however, is achieving secure oil supplies to feed China’s growing economy, rather than returns for investors, said a Chinese oil executive with direct knowledge of CNPC’s global investments.

There are some signs, however, that Iraq is attempting to make its terms more appealing.

France’s TotalEnergies signed a $27 billion deal in September that included payment of 40 percent of revenue from one field. The deal has stalled, however, due to disputes over terms and it still needs approval from some Iraqi government agencies, Reuters reported in February.

TotalEnergies said it was fully committed to the project.

One oil company executive said they were skeptical Iraq would introduce more attractive terms. But unless they improve significantly, analysts say it is hard to imagine Iraq will be able to stem the exodus as the energy transition accelerates.

“Many of the energy majors are looking at the carbon emissions, their ability to generate cash flows if commodity prices are low, and they’re looking at improving returns,” said Ian Thom, research director at consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

Source: Al Arabiya

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UAE looking forward to strengthening ties with US under Sheikh Mohammed: Emirati FM

17 May ,2022

The top US and Emirati diplomats met over dinner to look at ways of “expanding” ties, the Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported on Monday.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed and Antony Blinken had a “business dinner,” where they discussed bilateral ties and “explored avenues of expanding cooperation in various fields.”

Blinken was in the UAE as part of a high-ranking delegation dispatched by President Joe Biden to offer condolences after the death of former UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed.

“The two sides also reviewed a number of regional and international issues of interest, including the latest developments in the Ukrainian crisis,” WAM reported.

For his part, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said the UAE was looking forward to strengthening ties with the US under the newly elected president, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed.

The Emirati FM said the new president would look to “consolidate the pillars of security and stability in the region to achieve development and prosperity for its peoples.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi Crown Prince leaves for UAE to offer condolences on Sheikh Khalifa’s death

16 May ,2022

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman left for the UAE to offer condolences on the death of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed upon the directive of King Salman bin Abdulaziz, the royal court said on Monday.

Sheikh Khalifa, the late president of the UAE, died on Friday at the age of 73. The country’s ministry of presidential affairs announced a forty-day state of mourning.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, was elected president of the UAE on Saturday after the Federal Supreme Council.

Sheikh Mohammed received on Sunday a delegation of Saudi Princes who offered condolences on the death of late Sheikh Khalifa.

The delegation included: Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Prince Mansour bin Saud bin Abdulaziz, Prince Mohammed bin Fahd bin Abdulaziz, Prince Dr. Mansour bin Miteb bin Abdulaziz, Minister of State, Member of the Cabinet, Advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Prince Bandar bin Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, and Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Minister of Defense.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Cameroon football star Patrick Mboma converts to Islam, changes name to Abdul Jalil

16 May, 2022

Cameroon football star Patrick Mboma has converted from Christianity to Islam and changed his name to Abdul Jalil Mboma, according to local media reports.

Mboma proclaimed his new faith to a packed Bonamoussadi mosque in Doula, Cameroon on Friday, Muslim Voice reported.

The two-time African Cup of Nations winner, aged 51, was an all-time top scorer for Cameroon and was awarded the African Footballer of the Year award in 2000.

He also led Cameroon to an Olympic gold medal in 2000, the nation's first.

He played for Paris Saint-Germain and Italian clubs Cagliari and Parma, among others.

Mboma is one of many footballers to convert to Islam in recent years.

Source: The New Arab

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Hassan Sheikh Mahmud Becomes the New President of Somalia

By Saqalain Eqbal

16 May 2022

“Hassan Sheik Mohamud is the winner of the election for the president of the Somali Federal republic,” said the speaker of the lower house, Sheikh Adan Mohamed Nur.

In a long-awaited vote that began earlier on Sunday in the capital Mogadishu, Somalia’s presidential election advanced to the third round on Sunday.

Only four of the 36 candidates who competed in the first round advanced to the second round as none of them receive enough votes to win outright.

Only the current president, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, and his predecessor, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, have advanced to the concluding third round of voting, which will determine the country’s next leader by a simple majority.

In the runoff, the newly elected president, Mohamud, overcame his opponent with 214 votes, while Mohamed received only 110 votes.

Members of parliament and senators who chose Mohamud were chosen by clan chiefs’ delegates. The president was supposed to be elected by the Somali people through universal suffrage, but the country’s political elite eventually abandoned that plan.

Source: Khaama Press

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Parliament-backed Libya PM Bashagha leaves capital after clashes

17 May ,2022

Libya’s parliament-appointed prime minister Fathi Bashagha left the capital Tripoli on Tuesday, his office said, hours after his attempt to enter the city led to clashes between rival factions.

Clashes erupted earlier on Tuesday as Bashagha arrived to try to take control of government from a rival administration that has refused to cede power.

Reuters journalists in Tripoli could hear the sound of gunfire and Al Hadath television published video clips showing what it said was fighting downtown and in the port.

The violence followed Bashagha’s entry into the city overnight accompanied by an armed faction. His office released a statement saying it would carry on its duties from inside the capital.

Bashagha’s appointment in March led to a standoff between two rival governments that both claim legitimacy and are each backed by armed factions in Tripoli and western Libya, raising fears that two years of comparative peace may soon end.

Libya has had little security since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted Muammar Gaddafi and it split in 2014 between rival eastern and western factions before a 2020 truce that brought the country under a fragile unity government.

A plan to hold an election in December collapsed amid arguments among major factions and prominent candidates over the rules and the parliament, which had sided with the east during the war, moved to appoint a new administration.

Source: Al Arabiya

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At least 43 dead in weekend attacks in Burkina Faso: Media

James Tasamba


KIGALI, Rwanda

At least 43 people were killed over the weekend in separate attacks attributed to terrorists in Burkina Faso, local media reported Sunday.

The first attack occurred between Salmossi and Markoye in the province of Oudalan in the Sahel region, leaving six people dead, including five army auxiliaries and one civilian, according to local media.

The online news site Infowakat also reported that eight other volunteer militiamen and a dozen civilians died in an attack in Guessel district in the same region.

The insurgents looted several private properties and vandalized others before fleeing, it said.

In another attack, a convoy of civilians escorted by army auxiliaries was ambushed by armed insurgents, leaving 15 civilians and two auxiliary militiamen dead in the Tambarga area while they were heading to Namouyouri in Kompienga province on the border with Benin, according to the media report.

Several other civilians were injured.

Meanwhile, additional attacks Saturday overnight by unidentified gunmen in the Hauts-Bassins region of Houet province left two gendarmes wounded and a vehicle burned, the local daily Lefaso reported.

The attacks targeted gendarmerie and police in Faramana on the border with Mali.

This was the second attack on the gendarmerie brigade of Faramana in the space of two years, the last taking place in May 2020.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Clashes break out as rival governments jostle for power in Libya's capital

Ali Abo Rezeg and Walid Abdullah  


Clashes erupted in Libya’s capital Tripoli on Tuesday between armed groups loyal to Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh and rival leader Fathi Bashagha, who was recently appointed as premier by the Tobruk-based parliament.

Bashagha reached the capital overnight to take control of the government from Dbeibeh, who has refused to hand over power.

However, a security source told Anadolu Agency that Bashagha was forced to leave the capital after fierce clashes were reported between the two sides.

Fighting has been reported in the al-Mansoura and Souq al-Thulatha areas in central Tripoli.

Khaled al-Mishri, the head of Libya’s High Council of State, condemned the violence and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities.

For more than two months, there have been two governments in Libya: the national unity government led by Dbeibeh and the one granted confidence in early March by the Tobruk-based House of Representatives.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Iran Slams US for Instrumental Use of Human Rights


Khatibzadeh made the remarks on Sunday, addressing a gathering of Iranian nongovernmental organizations enjoying consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

He noted that the issue of human rights is one of the most important victims of international relations at the current juncture.

“Due to the approach adopted by the centers of power in the world, the issue of human rights has been turned into a political tool to advance those centers’ goals,” he said.

Khatibzadeh further took the US to task for its skewed approach to human rights, saying, “The US uses human rights as a tool in its foreign policy toolbox in order to achieve its goals. Unfortunately, this approach has degraded the sublime concept of human rights to a plaything.”

Iran has time and again warned of the exploitation of human rights by the US and its Western allies as a tool to target independent countries.

In relevant remarks last week, Deputy Iranian Judiciary Chief and head of the country's Human Rights Headquarters Kazzem Qaribabadi blasted the US for abusing the rights of indigenous Americans and at the same time lecturing on human rights situation in other countries.

Qaribabadi made the remarks in a post on his twitter page in reaction to a study which confirmed killing of native Americans in the US.

“Poor Native American children were separated from their families, prohibited from speaking their languages, abused, raped, and finally dumped in mass graves,” he said.

“The US yet still dares to lecture on human rights,” Qaribabadi added.

A first-of-its-kind federal study of Native American boarding schools that for over a century sought to assimilate Indigenous children into white society has identified more than 400 such schools that were supported by the US government and more than 50 associated burial sites, a figure that could grow exponentially as research continues.

The report released Wednesday by the Interior Department expands the number of schools that were known to have operated for 150 years, starting in the early 19th century and coinciding with the removal of many tribes from their ancestral lands.

The dark history of the boarding schools — where children who were taken from their families were prohibited from speaking their Native American languages and often abused — has been felt deeply across Indian Country and through generations.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Detained French nationals in Iran arrested over protests: Iran state TV

17 May ,2022

Iran’s state TV on Tuesday confirmed the arrest of two French citizens, saying they met with protesting teachers and took part in an anti-government rally.

The report identified the two as Cecile Kohler, 37, and Chuck Paris, 69, and said they were not on a tourist visit to Iran. France had earlier identified the two as a teachers’ union official and her partner on vacation in Iran.

The Intelligence Ministry in Tehran last week only said that it had detained two Europeans.

The TV broadcast footage of the arrival of the two, saying they landed from Turkey at Tehran airport on April 28.

It also broadcast footage of their meetings with Iranian teachers and other activists, as well as their presence at a protest gathering, and also aired a video purported to show the two being arrested while on their way to the Tehran airport to leave the country on May 7.

The report said the two French citizens were “organizing a protest” with the purpose of creating “unrest” in Iran.

Last Thursday, France condemned the “groundless arrest” of the two and called for their immediate release.

France’s Foreign Ministry said its ambassador in Tehran has already attempted to obtain consular access to the couple and that the charge d’affaires at Iran’s Embassy in Paris has been summoned for explanations.

Another French citizen, Benjamin Briere, was sentenced in January by Iran to over eight years in prison for espionage, for photographing “prohibited areas” with a drone in 2020 during what he said was a tourist visit in the north of the country.

Briere’s lawyer had claimed his client was being used as a “bargaining chip” in diplomatic negotiations at the time between Iran and Western countries over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers.

Also in January, Iranian justice ordered the re-imprisonment of Franco-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah, arrested in 2019, who had for a time been allowed to serve a five-year prison sentence under house arrest.

She had been accused of “propaganda against the country’s political system” and “collusion to undermine national security.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran arrests university professor on security charges, ‘foreign links’

16 May ,2022

Authorities in Iran have arrested a university professor on security charges and “suspicious foreign links,” Iranian media reported on Monday.

The semiofficial Mehr news agency identified the professor as Saeed Madani, but did not provide details or say when and where he was taken into custody. The report said the academic had met with allegedly suspicious foreign citizens and carried messages from them to local activists in Iran.

Madani, a sociology professor at Tehran's government-run Allameh University, was also an activist, said Mehr. He was summoned by the courts several times in the past, and was once, in 2019, banned from traveling abroad.

Iran has in recent weeks intensified its crackdown on dissent, including with raids on activists. Over the weekend, a statement from award-wining filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof and others said authorities recently raided offices and homes of several filmmakers and other industry professionals, arresting some of them.

Iran’s conservative authorities, many with religious sensibilities, control all the levers of power in Iran. They have long viewed many activities as part of a “soft war” by the West against the Republic. They say Westernization is attempting to tarnish the country’s religious beliefs.

State media reported last Friday that authorities had arrested at least 22 demonstrators protesting sudden price hikes of subsidized staple foods. And on Saturday, Ahmad Avaei, a member of parliament from the city of Dezful in southwestern Khuzestan province, said one person was killed during the unrest.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran could delay execution of Iranian-Swedish academic

16 May ,2022

Iran could postpone the death sentence expected later this month against Iranian-Swedish academic Ahmedreza Djalali, the foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday.

ISNA news agency had reported earlier this month that Djalali would be executed by May 21, after he was sentenced to death in 2017 over espionage for Israel.

“Mr. Djalali’s sentence is definite, as the judiciary had announced,” foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters.

Asked if Djalali and his lawyers had requested a review of the sentence, Khatibzadeh said: “They have requested that the execution be done at another time.”

“It is being considered... the judiciary will naturally follow up on the case,” he said.

UN envoy Enrique Mora has called for the release on “humanitarian grounds” of Djalali, during a visit last week to Iran to help revive the 2015 nuclear pact with Western powers.

“I want to underline that in Tehran I raised the need to stop execution of #AhmadrezaDjalali and asked for his release on humanitarian grounds,” Mora tweeted after the two-day visit which ended Friday.

Djalali, who was based in Stockholm and worked at Karolinska Medical Institute, was arrested during a visit to Iran in April 2016.

He was sentenced to death the following year after being found guilty of passing information about two Iranian nuclear scientists to Israel’s Mossad spy agency that had led to their assassinations.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israel’s top Catholic prelate condemns police funeral attack

May 16, 2022

JERUSALEM: The top Catholic clergyman in the Holy Land on Monday condemned the police beating of mourners carrying the casket of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, accusing the authorities of violating human rights and disrespecting the Catholic Church.

Latin Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa told reporters at St. Joseph Hospital in Jerusalem that Friday’s incident, broadcast around the world, was a “disproportionate use of force” to the Palestinian flag-waving crowd of thousands proceeding from the hospital to a nearby Catholic church in Jerusalem’s Old City. The attack drew worldwide condemnation and added to the shock and outrage of Abu Akleh’s killing as she covered a shootout in the occupied West Bank.

The police attack, Pizzaballa told reporters, “is a severe violation of international norms and regulations, including the fundamental human right of freedom of religion, which must be observed also in a public space.”

There was no immediate Israeli response.

He spoke as Israel and the Palestinians are locked in a war of narratives over the killing of Abu Akleh. The reporter, a Palestinian-American and a 25-year veteran of the satellite channel, was killed Wednesday while covering an Israeli military raid in the Jenin refugee camp. She was a household name across the Arab world, known for documenting the hardship of Palestinian life under Israeli rule.

Palestinian officials and witnesses, including journalists who were with her, say she was killed by army fire. The military, after initially saying Palestinian gunmen might have been responsible, later backtracked and now says it’s not clear who fired the deadly bullet.

After an international uproar over the funeral violence, Israeli police launched an investigation into the conduct of the officers who attacked the mourners, causing the pallbearers to nearly drop her coffin.

Israel has called for a joint investigation with the Palestinians, saying the bullet must be analyzed by ballistics experts to reach firm conclusions. Palestinian officials have refused, saying they don’t trust Israel. Human rights groups says Israel has a poor record of investigating wrongdoing by its security forces.

After earlier saying they would accept an outside partner, the Palestinians said late Sunday that they would handle the investigation alone and deliver results very soon.

“We also refused to have an international investigation because we trust our capabilities as a security institution,” Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh announced. “We will not hand over any of the evidence to anyone because we know that these people are able to falsify the facts.” He stood with Abu Akleh’s brother, Anton, and Al Jazeera’s local bureau chief, Walid Al-Omari.

Amid the wrangling, several research and human rights groups have launched their own investigations.

Bellingcat, a Dutch-based international consortium of researchers, published an analysis of video and audio evidence gathered on social media. The material came from both Palestinian and Israeli military sources, and the analysis looked at such factors as time stamps, the locations of the videos, shadows and a forensic audio analysis of gunshots.

The group found that while gunmen and Israeli soldiers were both in the area, the evidence supported witness accounts that Israeli fire killed Abu Akleh.

“Based on what we were able to review, the IDF (Israeli soldiers) were in the closest position and had the clearest line of sight to Abu Akleh,” said Giancarlo Fiorella, the lead researcher of the analysis.

Source: Arab News

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North America


US removes Jewish extremist Kahane movement from terror blacklist

 16 May ,2022

The US will remove a Jewish extremist group linked to late rabbi Meir Kahane as well as a Palestinian militant group from a terror blacklist after years without violence, an official said Sunday.

The State Department designated Kahane Chai as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997, three years after its supporter Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

The group was founded by Kahane, a US-born rabbi and former Israeli MP who advocated the expulsion of Arabs from Israel and was assassinated in New York in 1990.

The State Department informed Congress it will withdraw the designation, which was contested in court by the group, as Kahane Chai “has not been linked to a terrorist attack since 2005,” an official said.

The official said the State Department was also delisting the Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem, a Palestinian group linked to rocket attacks a decade ago.

Revoking the designations “ensures our terrorism sanctions remain current and credible and does not reflect any change in policy towards the past activities of any of these the organizations,” the State Department official said on condition of anonymity.

Despite the lack of attacks by Kahane Chai group, the late rabbi remains a hero for some on the extreme right of Israeli politics, including member of parliament Itamar Ben-Gvir who has advocated annexing the West Bank and hung a portrait of Goldstein in his home.

Designation as a foreign terrorist organization severely limits activities in the United States, including criminalizing financial support.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Senior US delegation meets Sheikh Mohammed, vows to strengthen bilateral ties

16 May ,2022

A senior US delegation met with the UAE’s newly elected president, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, on Monday, where they stressed Washington’s commitment to deepening bilateral ties.

“I am here leading the presidential delegation on behalf of the President and the American people and our administration to express our condolences to a friend and to a partner, the United Arab Emirates,” Vice President Kamala Harris told reporters on Air Force II.

She said the delegation was in the UAE to “reaffirm the shared commitment we have to security and prosperity in this region.”

Harris added that the US would continue to work to strengthen the relationship with the UAE.

The US delegation included the top US diplomat, Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, CIA chief William Burns and other senior White House officials.

During her meeting with the UAE president, Harris discussed the legacy and memory of Sheikh Khalifa, “who was a good friend of the United States and a trusted partner across multiple Administrations,” the VP’s office said in a readout of the meeting.

She also congratulated Sheikh Mohammed on his election as UAE President and underscored the Biden administration’s commitment to deepening ties to “advance the interests of the American and Emirati people in the months and years ahead.

“The Vice President noted that she is looking forward to the future of the relationship under Sheikh Mohammed’s leadership, and that our friendship and partnership is enduring.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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US welcomes Lebanon elections, calls on politicians to ‘rescue’ the economy

16 May ,2022

The US said Monday that it welcomed the Lebanese elections, which were held on time “without major security incidents,” but called on Beirut to implement needed reforms.

“As we await official elections observers’ reports we encourage the country’s political leaders to recommit to passing and implementing necessary laws and reforms to rescue the economy,” the State Department said on Twitter.

Parliamentary elections were held across Lebanon on Sunday, one week after the Lebanese diaspora voted abroad.

While the final results have not been released, preliminary results show Iran-backed Hezbollah and its Christian allies, the Free Patriotic Movement, losing their outright majority in the parliament.

The pro-Iran bloc will still be one of the leading powers inside Lebanon’s lawmaking chamber, but the Lebanese Forces appear to now be the largest Christian bloc.

Meanwhile, several new faces, including members of the civil society, broke into the ranks for the first time.

The first major task in front of the new parliament will be to elect a speaker ahead of October’s presidential election.

The World Bank has said that Lebanon’s financial crisis is one of the worst the world has seen in over 150 years.
Source: Al Arabiya

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Turkish foreign minister to hold talks, attend meetings in New York

Ali Murat Alhas 


The Turkish foreign minister on Tuesday is set to begin a four-day visit to New York to attend a global forum on migration, the Foreign Ministry said late Monday.

Mevlut Cavusoglu will pay an official visit to New York “to attend the first-ever International Migration Review Forum (IMRF) within the margins of the UN General Assembly,” said a ministry statement.

In addition, Cavusoglu will also attend the Global Food Security Call to Action ministerial meeting to be hosted by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and hold bilateral meetings, the statement added.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Biden authorizes redeployment of US forces to Somalia: White House

Michael Hernandez 



President Joe Biden has reauthorized the deployment of US forces to Somalia, the White House announced on Monday in a major policy reversal conducted at the Pentagon's request.

Former US President Donald Trump pulled roughly 700 American troops out from the east African country during the final month of his presidency, but al-Shabaab, a US-designated terrorist organization, has grown considerably in the interim, most recently claiming an attack on an African Union base in early May that killed several troops.

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin requested the redeployment "to enable a more effective fight against al-Shabaab, which has increased in strength and proposed poses a heightened threat." She acknowledged the inherent risk of the deployment, but said it is "manageable."

The troops that will be sent to Somalia will come from current deployments in the region, and will have conducted what the White House called "episodic" missions in the country following Trump's January 2021 withdrawal.

"Today in Somalia we face al-Qaeda's largest and wealthiest global affiliate and one that holds substantial territorial safe haven," said Jean-Pierre, referring to al-Shabaab.

"The decision to reintroduce a small but persistent presence was made first and foremost to maximize the safety and effectiveness of our force and enable them to provide better support of our partners. Additionally, our partners can benefit from our more consistent support and engagement in addressing the threat posed by al-Shabaab," she added.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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US, Turkiye reaffirm 'strategic relationship': State Department

Michael Hernandez



A senior US diplomat and her Turkish counterpart reaffirmed their nations' bilateral "strategic relationship," the State Department said on Monday.

Meeting in Washington, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal "discussed the two countries’ many areas of bilateral cooperation," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

The meeting came two days before Secretary Antony Blinken is slated to meet his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in New York.

"Deputy Secretary Sherman thanked Deputy Foreign Minister Onal for Turkey’s strong and vocal support of Ukraine and discussed the need for solidarity among NATO Allies and partners in confronting Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack on Ukraine and in imposing real costs on Putin and his cronies," added Price.

He was referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

At least 3,668 people have been killed and 3,896 injured in Ukraine since Russia begain its war on Feb. 24, according to UN estimates. The true toll is believed to be much higher.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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