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Uniform Civil Code: Change in The Basic Format of Sharia Will Not Be Acceptable, All India Muslim Personal Law Board Tells Law Commission

New Age Islam News Bureau

25 August 2023


All India Muslim Personal Law Board



·         A question for Rahul Gandhi in Kargil: Can you change the situation for Muslims on coming to power?

·         Kerala education board restores content on Gandhi murder, Mughals after NCERT deletion

·         While stating that he is against polygamy, AIUDF chief Ajmal says Spread awareness rather than banning polygamy


South Asia

·         Rohingya Genocide Remembrance Day: refugees in Cox's Bazar demand a safe return to Myanmar

·         Deputy PM Kabir Meets with Elders, Scholars, and Mujahiden of Several Provinces

·         Iran urges regular monthly water level assessment for Helmand River

·         Bangladesh wants enhanced bilateral and trade relations with African nations: PM

·         China says will back Bangladesh against ‘external interference’

·         1 dead, 8 injured in road accidents in Nuristan and Parwan, Afghanistan



·         A CIA-backed 1953 coup in Iran haunts the country with people still trying to make sense of it

·         Iran and Saudi Arabia are among 6 nations set to join China and Russia in the BRICS economic bloc

·         Syria: Protests over growing economic hardship spread in south

·         Palestinian authorities say an explosion at a Hamas site in Gaza has killed 1 militant

·         Algeria sends official to Niger for talks after coup

·         At least 90 Yemenis die in lightning strikes in 2 months

·         Three PKK members killed in Turkish drone strike in Iraq: Authorities



·         How Police, Islamic group tricked Isese worshippers from Ibadan to Ilorin for trial

·         ECOWAS Slams 'Unacceptable' Niger Transition Plan

·         Niger allows Mali, Burkina Faso to intervene in case of attack on its territory



·         IHC May Rule on Imran’s 3-Year Sentence Today

·         PM calls for dynamic foreign policy to strengthen Pakistan’s relationships with world

·         Caretaker PM expresses resolve to address issues of GB

·         SBP issues commemorative coin to mark 75 years of Pak-US diplomatic ties

·         Choosing future leaders is for Pakistanis to decide, US envoy tells ECP

·         PTI chief’s bail: Opposing forces at work

·         Imaan, Wazir sent to Adiala Jail on 14-day remand

·         ‘Deciding election date president’s prerogative’


North America

·         Canada Submits ‘Rojek’, A Documentary About the Origins of The Islamic State, For 2024 Oscar Race

·         Trump arrested in Georgia election racketeering case

·         US and Ukraine ‘at odds’ over counteroffensive tactics – WSJ 

·         Available Legal Means to Protect Rights of Families in MD’s Montgomery County Public Schools


Arab World

·         Saudi Arabia Hails Invitation to Join BRICS

·         Saudi Arabia’s trade with BRICS countries crosses $160 billion in 2022

·         Qatar figures as second highest category in recovery on Islamic finance: Fitch

·         Saudi authorities seize drug cache across the Kingdom

·         Saudi civil defence calls for caution as rain due across Kingdom from Friday



·         Coventry Phd Student Plotted to Use 3D Printer to Make Drone That Could Drop Chemical Weapons for Islamic State, Court Told

·         Vile display of Nazi symbols at Belfast Mosque designed to intimidate

·         Anti-racism rally organised following erection of Nazi flags outside mosque

·         Frontline report: Ukrainian special forces attack Russian radio-radar base in Crimea


Southeast Asia

·         Ilham Centre: Malay Voters Rejected Umno in State Polls Due to Disdain Towards Zahid

·         Science minister says Malaysia installed seawater radiation levels monitors, plans to install more

·         Muhyiddin’s son-in-law, lawyer on Interpol’s Red Notice

·         Nabawan assemblyman comes under fire for land deal in own name

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Uniform Civil Code:  change in the basic format of Sharia will not be acceptable,  All India Muslim Personal Law Board tells Law Commission


All India Muslim Personal Law Board


August 25, 2023

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has told the Law Commission of India that even a minute change in the basic format of Sharia will not be acceptable, as the Indian Constitution mentions freedom of religion as a fundamental right.

It said that Sharia law (Muslim personal law) based on Quran and Sunna (Prophet’s words and actions) cannot be altered, while Ijtehad, i.e., Islamic scholars’ opinions, can differ with time and situations.

A delegation from AIMPLB led by its President Moulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani had on Wednesday met the Chairman of the Law Commission, Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, to convey its stand on the Uniform Civil Code (UCC).

The body, which claims to protect Muslim personal laws, questioned why only Muslims have not been exempted from UCC when the government is ready to exclude tribals and Christians of Northeastern states from its application.

The AIMPLB said if anybody has a problem with religious personal law, then they can solemnise their marriage under the Special Marriage Registration Act, which is a secular law.

Presently, under the Muslim law, there is no such specific age prescribed for marriage and if both husband and wife are in a position to fulfil the obligations of marriage, they can marry.

Notably, this issue whether such marriages will be hit by provisions contained under the provisions of Child Marriage Restraint Act and Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act is pending consideration before the Supreme Court.

As per a statement issued by AIMPL, the Chairman of Law Commission has assured that it is not going to suggest any substantial change which may alter the basic features of Sharia Law as its role is just limited to make suggestions and the government will have to take final call.

On June 14, the 22nd Law Commission had solicited the views and ideas of the public and recognised religious organisations to examine the UCC.

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his address to BJP workers in Bhopal, too had pitched for UCC. –IANS


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‘Three JMI alumnus, Areeb Ahmad, Amit Kumar Bhardwaj and Mohd Kashif, were part of Mission Chandrayan-3’


Areeb Ahmad, Amit Kumar Bhardwaj and Mohd Kashif


August 24, 2023

NEW DELHI: Three alumni of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) namely Amit Kumar Bhardwaj, Mohd Kashif and Areeb Ahmad were part of the historical third lunar mission Chandrayaan-3 of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

JMI has expressed pleasure on the participation of its alumni and told IANS that it is a moment of great pride for Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI).

“With this historic success, India has become the first country to land near the Moon’s South Pole,” JMI administration said.

All three, Amit Kumar Bhardwaj, Mohd. Kashif and Areeb Ahmad were students of Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Technology in JMI and completed their B.Tech in the year 2019.

JMI administration said that Amit, Kashif and Areeb cleared ISRO’s Centralised Recruitment Board-2019 Exam for the post of the Scientist/Engineer.

“ISRO declared the result of the Exam in September, 2021. Kashif had secured the first position in the exam and all three were selected for the post of the Scientist/Engineer ‘SC’-Mechanical (Post No. BE002),” JMI said.

Elated over the development, JMI Vice Chancellor Prof. Najma Akhtar said: “I take this opportunity to first congratulate Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the success of the mission.

“It is an occasion of national celebration and we are happier particularly to know that our students were also part of this historical mission. I congratulate them for the success and wish them good luck for their future endeavours. Jamia fraternity is proud of them.”

V-C said that they have become role models for the students of the varsity and that the students will get motivation to work hard to take the country to greater heights.

On Wednesday, the university had made special arrangements at several places on the campus for watching the live telecast of the soft landing of Vikram Lander of Chandrayan-3.

V-C said that the gathering in the Faculty of Engineering Auditorium and other venues of the university clapped and cheered in joy as soon as the Chandrayan-3 landed on the moon. — IANS


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More Afghan Children Fall Victim to Unexploded War Remnants: UNICEF


UNICEF Afghanistan/2022/Qayoumi


By Fidel Rahmati

August 24, 2023

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is concerned about the harm caused to many children by unexploded war remnants in Afghanistan. This surpasses other groups regarding victims, as said in a statement.

On Thursday, the organization said on social media X that 85% of the victims affected by unexploded ordnance are children.

This alarming statistic highlights these remnants’ disproportionate impact on the younger population, shedding light on a profoundly concerning issue in Afghanistan.

UNICEF highlights urgent collective action for Afghan children’s safety amid unexploded remnants, stressing coordinated clearing and support to avert more tragedies.

UNICEF underscores Afghanistan’s severe weapon contamination. With EU collaboration, it aims to educate Afghan children about explosives, fostering awareness and prevention.

Recent reports from international organizations In the past year alone, 640 Afghan children fell victim to landmine explosions and unexploded ordnance, facing injuries and deaths.


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Israeli Arabs Demand Action Over Spike In Murders Linked To Organised Crime


A funeral was held on Wednesday for Abdul Rahman Kashua, a top municipal official who was shot dead in the town of Tira


24 August 2023

By Tom Bateman & David Gritten

BBC News, in Jerusalem and London

Israeli Arab groups are calling for an emergency session of the country's parliament, after the latest series of murders within the community.

Four men were shot dead in the Arab town of Abu Snan, in the northern Galilee region, on Tuesday.

Three were members of the same family, including a candidate for the local mayoral election.

Opposition politicians have blamed the government for failing to crackdown on organised crime gangs.

The bodies of the four men were found in a field after what paramedics said was a significant amount of gunfire.

One of victims was Ghazi Saab, a 53-year-old who had been due to announce his candidacy for Abu Snan's mayor later that day.

The others were identified as his nephews, Zaher al-Din Saab, 45, and Amir Saab, 28, as well as 66-year-old Salman Khalab from the nearby town of Yarka.

A cousin of Ghazi Saab told the Haaretz newspaper that he had been a senior Israeli Border Police officer and businessman, and that "the whole family is respectable". "He was one of five candidates for council head, but I don't think it's related," they added.

A police spokesperson also said there was no evidence so far connecting Mr Saab's candidacy to the murder.

Haaretz reported that hours after the shootings an 18-year-old Palestinian man was stabbed to death near the southern Bedouin town of Lakiya.

Police said they suspected a criminal motive behind the killing of Majid Faisal Dais, who was from the occupied West Bank.

On Monday night, the director general of the central town of Tira, Abdul Rahman Kashua, was shot dead next to the municipal headquarters and a police station.

The killings are believed to be connected to organised crime gangs within the Israeli Arab community, as a spiralling murder rate sends shockwaves through its population of around two million.

Almost 160 people have been murdered this year alone. That is already 40% more than the total reported in 2022 by the Abraham Initiatives, a group that promotes Israeli Arab and Jewish equality.

One political party - the Arab Movement for Renewal (Taal) - is demanding urgent action by the Israeli authorities, with many blaming a failure of representation and proper policing by the state.

The politics around solving the issue are becoming increasingly febrile.

A leading opposition MP blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for putting the police in the hands of Itamar Ben-Gvir, the far-right firebrand national security minister who has a history of anti-Arab racism.

"The Arab society is in crisis, and the prime minister is busy making empty promises," former Defence Minister Benny Gantz said.

Mr Netanyahu's office said the prime minister was convening his government taskforce to deal with it.

On Tuesday, he said the murder of Abdul Rahman Kashua had "crossed a red line" and vowed to use all means, including the Shin Bet security service, "in order to defeat this crime".

"We have eliminated organised crime in the Jewish sector in Israel and we will eliminate organized crime in the Arab sector in Israel," he added.

Mr Ben-Gvir released a lengthy statement on Wednesday that blamed the violence on "militias" within the Arab community, who he said would ultimately "turn their fire against the State of Israel".

He repeated his call for detention without trial for suspects and for the Shin Bet to detect organised crime. That has been taken to mean surveillance of Arab citizens suspected of crimes - a highly controversial suggestion which has reportedly been previously rejected.

Israeli Arabs - many of whom prefer to be called Palestinian citizens of Israel - make up a fifth of the country's population.

In theory, they have equal rights with Jewish citizens, but they routinely complain of state discrimination.


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Niger Coup: Tinubu Has Sent Us Back to Military Junta — Islamic Clerics


August 24, 2023

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Abuja

Islamic clerics, on the platform of Ulama’a, on Thursday, said after they briefed President Bola Tinubu on their meetings with the military junta and their fellow Islamic clerics in Niger Republic, the President asked them to go back and continue with the dialogue in their efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the political impasse in the country.

The Islamic clerics, comprising different Islamic sects, insisted that they don’t want war or any military action in the country that shared boundaries with Nigeria.

Recall that since the military junta overthrew the democratically-elected Niger President, Mohamed Bazoum, on July 26 in a bloodless coup, the authorities of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Heads of State and Government has insisted that the deposed President be reinstated.

Besides, ECOWAS, which has President Tinubu as its Chairman, had pronounced many sanctions against the military junta-led government, including military actions, if they failed to reinstate the democratically elected government.

In their second meeting with the President, the Islamic clerics led by Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, maintained their initial position of resolving the political crisis amicably without the use of military might.

Consequently, the President mandated them to go back to Niger to continue the negotiations with the junta.

The delegation led by Sheikh Bauchi, met with the President at the Presidential Villa, Abuja to brief him on their dialogue with the military junta in Niger Republic on behalf of ECOWAS.

President Tinubu as the Chairman of the ECOWAS’ Authority of Heads of State and Government, approved their return to Niger Republic for another round of dialogue with the military junta.

After the meeting with President Tinubu, Sheikh Bauchi, told journalists: “We have just met with President Bola Tinubu and told him all what went on there in Niger.

“He appreciated (our efforts) and he still gave us the mandate that we should continue to make this dialogue and discuss with the junta over there, because they gave us listening ears and we are sure, through peaceful discussions, we’ll be able to achieve what we want.

“We are still going back there to ensure that through peaceful and amicable ways, as spiritual leaders, we’ll be able to do and contribute what we can be able to do.

“What we want? We don’t want war, we want peace to reign in our region. So may Allah continue to bless the President for giving us this opportunity.”


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A question for Rahul Gandhi in Kargil: Can you change the situation for Muslims on coming to power?


Muzaffar Raina

In 1999, Kargil became the battleground where India was tested, unleashing a wave of solidarity that marked the triumph that followed.

Nearly a quarter century later, Kargil has set up another test: What can you do to change the situation confronting Muslims in the country now?

The question was addressed to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who visited the Muslim-majority Kargil in Ladakh after wrapping up his six-day tour of the adjoining Buddhist-dominated Leh.

A young person asked Rahul in English: “...Our Muslimness, the identity we hold very dearly, we are very proud to be Kargili, we are very proud to be Muslim. Equally proud. We hold our identity very, very strongly. It is extremely dear to us. We have seen the youth in the country getting incarcerated for minute crimes, for speeches, we want to know what would you be doing when you come to power to change the scenario that the Indian Muslims are facing right now?

Loud cheers break out.

The youth continued: “We do not get stages like this to speak our hearts out. This is one of the stages where we can speak without being shy, without any hesitation. We are afraid to talk about our problems, we do not want to be targeted people, by governments. We do not want to be left out of government job opportunities. What would you be doing when you come to power?”

Rahul replied: “You are right that Muslims are under attack in India. This (the complaint) is not wrong. But you must also realise that there are many other people under attack in India. Please look at what is going on in Manipur today. For four months, Manipur has been burning.

“You must not think that you (the Muslims) are the only people who are under attack. This is happening to Muslims, other minorities. It is happening to Dalits and tribals.”

Rahul promised the youngster and other youths present at the interaction: “This is something we are committed to fighting. You are well aware that myself and the Congress party are at the forefront of that fight.

“Regardless of which religion you are from, which community you belong to, where you come from, you must feel comfortable in this country. Comfortable in every corner of this country. This is the constitutional foundation of India.”

The youth then asked: “Would you release the Muslim youth who are in jail?”

Rahul replied: “Listen, we will have to function according to the courts, friend. We cannot function outside the legal system of the country, right?

“I have to operate under the Constitution. I have no choice. If the Supreme Court had not reinstated me, I would have to abide by their decision. As a politician, those are the instruments we have.”

Rahul added: “But what you are saying, absolutely, we are very sensitive to unfairness towards any community, any group, any religion, any caste, any language. That is for sure.”

2024 ‘guarantee’

To a question about the Congress’s health, Rahul said it was the BJP, and not his party, that was facing a downfall.

“Which party faced downfall in Karnataka, in Himachal? Was it the Congress? There is election in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Telangana. You will see who faces downfall there. The Congress will win all four states,” the Congress MP said.

“Don’t think the Congress cannot fight the BJP. I guarantee you that we will defeat the BJP in the 2024 elections,” Rahul added, to loud cheers.

“The BJP has controlled all institutions in the country. Do you think India has free and fair media? Is the media neutral in India? The BJP has attacked all institutions in India. Media, bureaucracy, the Election Commission or judiciary are under attack. If there was a level playing field, the media was fair and the BJP had not captured institutions, it would not have won even the 2109 elections. But despite that, the Congress and INDIA alliance will defeat BJP,” Rahul said.


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Kerala education board restores content on Gandhi murder, Mughals after NCERT deletion


K.M. Rakesh

The Kerala education department has restored chapters deleted by the National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT) by bringing out additional books on several subjects for higher secondary students in schools that follow the state curriculum, bringing back passages on incidents like the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday released the books published by the State Council for Educational Research and Training (SCERT) — for Classes XI and XII — by including portions omitted by the NCERT. Students of Classes XI and XII of Kerala schools have been using 44 NCERT textbooks covering 12 subjects, while Classes I to X already use SCERT textbooks.

The chief minister said the NCERT had attributed the deletion to its efforts to reduce the weight of textbooks apart from rationalisation of study material. In the process, the NCERT dropped chapters such as the one on the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and others on Jawaharlal Nehru, Mughal kings and the Cold War, among others.

The additional textbooks were prepared by including the lessons omitted by the NCERT in the higher-secondary textbooks for history, political science, economics and sociology, Vijayan said.

“So, naturally, students of those classes (XI and XII) get NCERT textbooks. They (the books revised by the NCERT) will radically change the students’ social outlook. What is the danger? It will endanger our society that is rooted in secularism and brotherhood,” the chief minister said.

The additional textbooks will be taken up in classes beginning early September when schools reopen after the upcoming Onam festival break.

One of the portions dropped by the NCERT was about the ideological background of Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi, in the Class XII history textbook.

“We all know which organisations were involved in Gandhi’s murder and what was the ideology that guided them. Deleting such portions from textbooks is not to reduce the weight of the textbooks, but is in keeping with a specific political interest,” Vijayan said.

“With such attempts they are trying to whitewash individuals and their organisations involved in Gandhi’s murder. There is no doubt that those who whitewash such incidents would one day declare Godse as a great man,” the chief minister cautioned.

He said another example was the removal of chapters on Mughal kings “to create an impression that this country belongs to only one particular set of people”.

“They are trying to create an opinion among students that all other sections are to be thrown out of this country…. Burying social reality is very important for forming a theocratic state,” Vijayan said.

“They first removed some chapters from textbooks during Covid. Then they removed portions that provide knowledge that would help reign in hatred and divisiveness. We should understand that the attempt is to create a society based on hatred,” the CPM veteran said.

“We have recently seen communal riots in some parts of India. Those incidents further emphasise the importance of including human values and the values of the Constitution,” he said, referring to the violence in Manipur and Haryana.

The Congress government in neighbouring Karnataka is expected to “de-saffronise” textbooks revised by the previous BJP dispensation.

The Congress had in its election manifesto promised to correct the textbooks by restoring several chapters that were dropped and by deleting contentious material hailing certain Hindutva ideologues.


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While stating that he is against polygamy, AIUDF chief Ajmal says Spread awareness rather than banning polygamy

Press Trust of India : 22nd August 2023

Guwahati: AIUDF chief and Lok Sabha MP Badruddin Ajmal on Tuesday said that the Assam government should spread awareness against marrying more than once rather than imposing a legal ban on polygamy.

He emphasised that polygamy is not ‘compulsory’ in Islam and questioned what the state government has done for the welfare of Muslim women.

The Assam government has initiated a process for enacting a legislation to ban polygamy and had issued a notification on Monday seeking public opinion on the proposed law.

It had earlier formed an expert committee to study the legislative competence of the Assembly to enact such a law, and the report stated that the state legislature is competent to enact a law to ban the marital practice.

“Polygamy is not compulsory in Islam. The government has not given a person enough to feed one wife, how can he marry and take care of four wives?” Ajmal said, talking to reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of heads of different religions on ‘Peace and Justice’.

While stating that he is against polygamy, Ajmal expressed apprehension that the decision to ban it will go along political lines.

Mentioning of abrogation of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, Ajmal said, “Did peace come to Kashmir? Soldiers are being killed every day. What the families of these soldiers get is so unfortunate that it’s best not to speak of it.”

“You (government) stopped ‘triple talak’ but what did you do for women’s welfare? Did you build schools and colleges or develop industries where women will get jobs?” he questioned.

“Nothing was done except that fun of Muslim women was made in front of the world for some days. These women are now starving, dying by suicide. But the government doesn’t see them, nobody is bothered about them,” the Dhubri MP claimed.

He maintained that the proposed ban on polygamy is another attempt at ‘making fun’ and if some ‘illiterate person’ tries to marry more than once, he should be made to understand against doing it.

“There are so many laws since Independence. A law can hardly help,” he added.

On the ‘Peace and Justice’ programme, Ajmal said it will be held across the country to take ‘mohabbat ka paigam’ (message of peace) to the people.

“When we have reached the skies, people are still not getting justice. People of one community are being tortured, beaten up, and their women raped.

“The government is silent and not taking any action. Hence, heads of different religions decided to hold these programmes across the country and spread the message of peace,” the AIUDF chief added. PTI SSG SSG


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South Asia


Rohingya Genocide Remembrance Day: refugees in Cox's Bazar demand a safe return to Myanmar

Star Digital Report

 Aug 25, 2023

Thousands of Rohingyas raised their voice in support of their return to their homeland in Myanmar during a demonstration in Cox's Bazar on the occasion of Rohingya Genocide Remembrance Day.

Despite the heavy rain, they gathered at a field in Charmore area in Lambasia camp-1 east in the district's Ukhiyaupazila this morning.

They prayed and cried for their safe return to the land that has the graves of their ancestors, reports our staff correspondent.

Rohingyas across the world observe Rohingya Genocide Remembrance Day on August 25, commemorating the brutal military campaign beginning this day in 2017 that forced some 750,000 Rohingyas to flee to Bangladesh.

Mohammad Zubair, a Rohingya leader, said the international community should put pressure on the Myanmar military junta to start repatriation as soon as possible.

At the demonstration, another Rohingya leader Kamal Hossain said, "We want back our citizenship from Myanmar. We are citizens of Myanmar. Myanmar must accept it. They will have to repatriate us with full dignity, safety and security. They should do it with the coordination of international community."

Shahid Win, a Rohingya woman, said, "It has already been six years. We are exhausted and don't want to stay anymore in Bangladesh. We demand justice for the genocide."


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Deputy PM Kabir Meets with Elders, Scholars, and Mujahiden of Several Provinces


KABUL (BNA): Several tribal elders, scholars, and Mujahideen, in a meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister for Political Affairs of the Islamic Emirate, Mawlavi Abdul Kabir, called for the acceleration of efforts for strengthening the bridge between the nation and the government.

According to a statement released by the Deputy Prime office, several scholars, tribal elders, and Mujahiden from Kabul, Baghlan, Nangarhar, Kapisa, Laghman, Parwan, Kandahar, Takhar, Samangan, Panjshir, Bamyan, Ghazni, Kunduz, Maidan Wardak and Badakhshan provinces met with Mawlavi Abdul Kabir, Deputy Prime Minister for Political Affairs.

The government and the nation should be in close cooperation and the demands of the public should be addressed, the scholars and elders said.

They also submitted suggestions for addressing their challenges in written forms to the Deputy Prime Minister and asked him to pay attention in this regard, the statement added.

Mawlawi Abdul Kabir, the Deputy Prime Minister, expressed his gratitude to these tribal elders for their support for the Islamic Emirate.

He said that protecting national interests and strengthening the economy is the policy priority of the Islamic Emirate. The nation should be sure that as there is a significant improvement in the security sector, it also works in the fields of economic and political progress.

The struggle and victory of the Afghan nation against occupation proved unity, and solidarity, cooperation between them, he said.

Meanwhile, Mawlawi Abdul Kabir stated that the challenges of the people would be taken into account to find solutions to them.


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Iran urges regular monthly water level assessment for Helmand River

By Fidel Rahmati

August 25, 2023

During a press conference, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanani emphasized the importance of monthly assessments of the water level in the Helmand River to ensure Iran’s water quota is met.

Kanani underscored that Tehran’s technical delegation is actively and seriously addressing this issue.

“Continuing to send regular monthly information and periodical visits, water measurement information and indicators, timely visits to this station and accurate determination of the amount of water in the days of water scarcity and drought, the amount of Iran’s demand from the Helmand River should be measured correctly and fairly,” he said.

“We consider the visit of the technical delegation of Iran as committed to the treaty of 1973 regarding the Helmand River issue,” Kanani added.

In the meantime, the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan has not commented on Kanani’s statements. However, Amir Khan Muttaqi, the acting foreign minister, recently conveyed that Tehran’s water concern has been successfully addressed.

Last month, the Taliban administration permitted the Iranian technical delegation to assess water levels in the Helmand River.

Following their visit to the water level indicator at Deh Rawud, Afghanistan, the Tehran delegation openly recognized a substantial decline in the river’s water level compared to previous periods.

The report highlights the stark presence of a severe drought within the country. However, Iranian authorities, in their pursuit of securing their water rights from the Helmand River waters, are advocating for a regular monthly assessment of the river’s status.


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Bangladesh wants enhanced bilateral and trade relations with African nations: PM

BSS, Johannesburg

Fri Aug 25, 2023

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said yesterday that Bangladesh has attached priority on enhancing further bilateral and trade relations with African nations as she held bilateral meetings with heads of state of four countries on the sidelines of the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg.

"We want to boost the bilateral and trade relations with the African nations for mutual benefits," she said.

Foreign Minister Abdul Momen briefed newsmen about the prime minister's daylong engagements on Thursday after the meetings in his room at the Hotel Radisson Blu Sandton here.

Prime Minister's speechwriter Md Nazrul Islam was present during the briefing.

Sheikh Hasina also sought investments in various sectors from the countries.

The bilateral meetings between Sheikh Hasina and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, President of Mozambique Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of Tanzania Saima Sulluhu and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi were held at the Sandton Convention Centre on Thursday.

A meeting was also held between the PM and Dilma Vana Rousseff, president of the New Development Bank, at the same venue.

During the meetings, the five dignitaries highly praised Bangladesh's remarkable development under Sheikh Hasina's prudent leadership, Momen said.

The foreign minister said Brazilian President Lula assured Bangladesh all sorts of cooperation and invited the Bangladesh premier to visit Brazil at a convenient time.

He said after bilateral talks with Sheikh Hasina, Iranian President Raisi expressed his desire to visit Bangladesh again to see in person the massive development, adding that he had earlier visited Jashore in Bangladesh 30 years back.

"I want to visit Bangladesh to see the massive development you have done," Raisi said.

During the bilateral meeting with Mozambique President Nyusi, Hasina sought investment from Mozambique on a larger scale particularly in pharmaceuticals.

President of the New Development Bank Rousseff has expressed her organisation's eagerness to provide assistance to Bangladesh, particularly in the projects regarding women empowerment, saying that the bank has already sanctioned $700 million in two development schemes in Bangladesh.

"I can assure you Bangladesh will get top priority from the New Development Bank as long as I am the president of the bank," she said.

The prime minister arrived in Johannesburg to attend the 15th BRICS Summit on August 22 at the invitation of the Current Chair of BRICS and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

On the sidelines of the BRICS Plus Dialogue, Iranian President Raisi and President of the Republic of Indonesia Joko Widodo earlier exchanged pleasantries with the Bangladesh premier.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, vice-president of Uganda, deputy prime minister of South Africa, Russian foreign minister, and foreign minister of Saudi Arabia also exchanged pleasantries with Sheikh Hasina.

The premier also joined a photo session with the heads of state and government who arrived in Johannesburg to attend the 15th BRICS Summit.

After wrapping up her four-day visit in South Africa, the prime minister will depart Johannesburg for home on August 26 and is expected to arrive in Dhaka on August 27 morning.


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China says will back Bangladesh against ‘external interference’

August 25, 2023


Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday said Beijing would support Bangladesh in “opposing external interference” and would deepen economic cooperation including through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

In talks with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, Mr. Xi said China was “willing to strengthen the synergy of development strategies with Bangladesh, deepen practical cooperation in various fields, push bilateral strategic cooperative partnership to a new level, and better benefit the people of the two countries.”

“China supports Bangladesh in safeguarding national sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and in opposing external interference, so that the country can maintain domestic unity and stability, and achieve development and revitalisation,” he was quoted as saying by State media, adding that Beijing was “willing to continue to work with Bangladesh in firmly supporting each other in issues involving their respective core interests.”

China’s support to Bangladesh comes against the backdrop of Dhaka’s recent differences with Washington, which issued a public call for “free and transparent” elections that are scheduled for later this year.

Bangladesh-U.S. ties hit a low in May when U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a visa ban against individuals that the U.S. holds responsible for “undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh”.

The U.S. has also sanctioned senior officials of the Rapid Action Battalion, a tool of Prime Minister Hasina’s in her crackdown against terrorism. In April this year, Ms. Hasina slammed the U.S. saying that “it has the power to topple governments in any country and the Muslim countries in particular are experiencing a tough time.” The Prime Minister’s meeting with the Chinese President also had a personal touch as she was accompanied by her daughter Saima Wazed, Chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

Ms. Hasina has put forward a foreign policy of “friendship with all and malice for none” that she has often highlighted to create space for engaging stakeholders in Bangladesh and for balancing ties with global and regional powers. Though Bangladesh has expressed support for the Belt and Road Initiative ahead of its expected joining of the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal, Dhaka hasn’t seen significant financial support from Beijing on the Rohingya issue for which the U.S. has provided at least $1.6 billion since 2017 to deal with the refugee crisis


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1 dead, 8 injured in road accidents in Nuristan and Parwan, Afghanistan

By Fidel Rahmati

August 24, 2023

On Wednesday, officials said two distinct road accidents occurred in Afghanistan’s eastern provinces of Nuristan and Parwan, killing one person and injuring eight others on Thursday.

Two separate accidents unfolded in Afghanistan’s Nuristan and Parwan provinces. In Nuristan’s Norgram district, a car overturned due to reckless driving, resulting in one death and four injuries.

In Parwan’s Salang district, a bus driver’s loss of control led to another accident, leaving four injured, including some in critical condition, as reported by officials.

Earlier, a road accident occurred in Balkh province of the country, killing six people and injuring two others. The incident serves as a grim reminder of the road safety challenges in the country.

The surge in traffic accidents in the country has been attributed to several factors by experts. These include reckless driving, congested roads, the prevalence of old vehicles, and a lack of adherence to traffic rules. These combined issues have contributed to the alarming increase in road accidents.

Official reports underline the severity of the situation, revealing that over the past four months, Afghanistan has witnessed a distressing toll. More than 400 lives have been lost as a result of road accidents, shedding light on the urgent need for enhanced road safety measures and awareness campaigns to mitigate this ongoing tragedy.


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A CIA-backed 1953 coup in Iran haunts the country with people still trying to make sense of it


0, August 25, 2023

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Seventy years after a CIA-orchestrated coup toppled Iran’s prime minister, its legacy remains both contentious and complicated for the Islamic Republic as tensions stay high with the United States.

While highlighted as a symbol of Western imperialism by Iran’s theocracy, the coup unseating Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh — over America’s fears about a possible tilt toward the Soviet Union and the loss of Iranian crude oil — appeared backed at the time by the country’s leading Shiite clergy.

But nowadays, hard-line Iranian state television airs repeated segments describing the coup as showing how America can’t be trusted, while authorities bar the public from visiting Mossadegh’s grave in a village outside of Tehran.

Such conflicts are common in Iran, where “Death to America” can still be heard at Friday prayers in Tehran while many on its streets say they’d welcome a better relationship with the U.S. But as memories of the coup further fade away along with those alive during it, controlling which allegory Iranians see in it has grown more important for both the country’s government and its people.

“Maybe the U.S. did this out of fear of the emerging power of the Soviet Union, but it was like wishing for an earthquake to get rid of a bad neighbor,” said Rana, a 24-year-old painter who like some others who spoke to The Associated Press gave only her first name for fear of reprisals. For Iranians, “the rancor has never melted.”

The August 1953 coup stemmed from U.S. fears over the Soviet Union increasingly wanting a piece of Iran as Communists agitated within the country. The ground had been laid partially by the British, who wanted to wrest back access to the Iranian oil industry, which had been nationalized earlier by Mossadegh.

Though looking initially like it failed, the coup toppled Mossadegh and cemented the power of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. It also lit the fuse for the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which saw the fatally ill shah flee Iran and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini usher in the theocracy that still governs the country.

Today, several who spoke to the AP about the coup and possible relations with the U.S. put it in the context of Iran’s ailing economy, which has been battered by years of sanctions after the collapse of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Lower tensions with the U.S. “will bring more money for my business,” said Hossein, 47, who runs a canteen for cab drivers in southern Tehran. “Now taxi drivers spend less compared to the past years and it is because of these bad relations, sanctions.”

“I know about this bitter history but it should come to end sometime soon,” added Majid Shamsi, who works as a parcel carrier in central Tehran. “Young people in Iran seek a better life and it cannot come as a result of enmity with” the U.S.

Even during increasingly common protests by teachers, farmers and others in Iran, some of the regular chants include: “Our enemy is here; they lied to us (that the enemy) is the U.S.”

“Iran today should accept a deal with the U.S. like what it did to release dual nationals,” added teacher Reza Seifi, 26. “I need it for my better future, for a better future for all.”

But like with the exchanges with the U.S., there are limits to how far Iran’s government will go in remembering Mossadegh.

Last weekend, State television’s English-language Press TV aired a segment with a journalist standing on Mossadegh Street in northern Tehran. However, over the last 20 years, police have restricted access to those wanting to visit his grave in his ancestral home in the village of Ahmadabad, some 90 kilometers (55 miles) northwest of Tehran. In the village, tall walls and a locked gate keep those wanting to pay their respects out, while officers question those who look like they don’t live there.

Some found other ways to mark the 70th anniversary of the coup.

“I could not go to his grave to pay tribute but I have visited the graves of his supporters and allies like Hossein Fatemi,“ said Ebrahim Nazeri, 32, as he, his wife and two children stood at the graveside of Fatemi, Mossadegh’s foreign minister who was executed after the coup. “He was a hero like Mossadegh.”

Another visitor to Fatemi’s grave, teacher Ehsan Rahmani simply said that “the U.S. planted hatred in the hearts of Iranians” through the coup.

For Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the 1953 coup represents what he views as the continued threat from the U.S., whether that be from economic sanctions or the nationwide protests that have gripped Iran after the death last year of Mahsa Amini.

On Thursday, Khamenei told members of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard that Washington had planned to overthrow the country’s theocracy through a coup like in 1953 through its military. Iran carried out mass executions and purges of its regular military after the revolution.

“The enemies tried to undermine and paralyze the revolution by creating continuous crises,” Khamenei said, according to a transcript on his official website. “They then plotted to put an end to the revolution with a measure similar to the coup that took place on August 19, (1953). However, the (Guard) thwarted it. This is the reason why the enemies have so much hatred and animosity towards the” Guard.

The Guard’s chief, Gen. Hossein Salami, in reply, vowed to “expel“ American forces from the region. His remarks came amid a major American military buildup in the Persian Gulf, with the possibility of U.S. troops boarding and guarding commercial ships in the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20% of all oil shipments pass.

However, some remain hopeful Iran could reach a détente with the U.S., as it recently did with Saudi Arabia.

“I dream that the supreme leader allows talks and better relations with the U.S.,” said Mohsen, 29, a furniture shop salesman in northern Tehran. “He allowed the restoration of ties with Saudi Arabia. He can allow the same for the U.S.”

Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.


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Iran and Saudi Arabia are among 6 nations set to join China and Russia in the BRICS economic bloc


 August 24, 2023

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Iran and Saudi Arabia were among six countries invited Thursday to join the BRICS bloc of developing economies in a move that showed signs of strengthening a China-Russia coalition as tensions with the West spiral higher.

The United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Egypt and Ethiopia were also set to enter BRICS from Jan. 1, 2024, joining current members Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to make an 11-nation bloc.

The announcement came after two days of talks at a summit in Johannesburg involving Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. Russian President Vladimir Putin participated in the discussions virtually after his travel to the summit was complicated by an International Criminal Court arrest warrant issued against him over the war in Ukraine.

Putin welcomed the six countries by video link. He did not mention Wednesday’s plane crash that left Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and some of his top lieutenants presumed dead.

While there has been momentum for a BRICS expansion for months - pushed largely by China and Russia - the five leaders were locked in closed-door discussions for two days Tuesday and Wednesday before emerging with an agreement on expanding and a list of countries on the last day of the summit.

BRICS is a consensus-based organization that needs all members to agree on decisions.

The bloc was formed by Brazil, Russia, India and China in 2009 and added South Africa in 2010, making Thursday’s announcement in the heart of Johannesburg’s high-rise Sandton financial district its most significant decision in more than a decade.

Mohammad Jamshidi, the political deputy of Iran President Ebrahim Raisi, called joining BRICS a “strategic victory for Iran’s foreign policy.”

“Felicitations to the Supreme Leader of Islamic Revolution and great nation of Iran,” Jamshidi wrote on X, the website formerly known as Twitter.

Raisi attended the summit, as did Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, who said the oil-rich kingdom could be a leader of the bloc given its resources, wealth and access to the Red Sea and Persian Gulf.

However, in a twist, Saudi Arabia’s membership appeared uncertain after Prince Faisal told the Saudi-owned broadcaster Al Arabiya later Thursday that the kingdom appreciated the invitation but would first study the details before the proposed Jan. 1 joining date and take “the appropriate decision.”

BRICS currently represents around 40% of the world’s population and more than a quarter of the world’s GDP, with that set to increase. The potential new members include three of the world’s biggest oil producers: Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iran.

“This membership expansion is historic,” Chinese leader Xi said. “It shows the determination of BRICS countries for unity and development.”

“Over the years, China has stood in solidarity with developing countries through thick and thin.”

Saudi Arabia and the UAE might provide new capital for BRICS’ New Development Bank. However, economists also noted that Argentina and Egypt are the International Monetary Fund’s two biggest debtors and have required bailouts.

Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country with 120 million people, has been at odds with the U.S. and European Union over their criticism of the recent conflict in the country’s Tigray region.

Argentinian President Alberto Fernández said that joining BRICS was “a new opportunity” that “strengthens us.”

BRICS has a stated aim to amplify the voice of the Global South. All five current members and dozens of other developing countries represented at the summit repeatedly called this week for a fairer world order and the reform of international institutions like the United Nations, the IMF and the World Bank.

Many in the developing world view those institutions as Western-led and unfair to them and a stream of leaders made speeches Thursday calling for change.

While that sentiment and challenging the current international order is useful for China and Russia’s geopolitical aims, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said in a speech to the BRICS summit that the calls for reform were valid.

He quoted figures that said, on average, African countries pay four times more for borrowing from international financial institutions than the United States and eight times more than the wealthiest European countries.

“Redesigning today’s outdated, dysfunctional and unfair global financial architecture is necessary, but it won’t happen overnight,” Guterres said. “Yet we can and must take practical action now.”

More than 20 countries had formally applied to join BRICS ahead of the Johannesburg summit and more than 20 others had expressed interest, indicating how the bloc might resonate with many as an alternative.

“Cooperation is key to our collective survival,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said.

South African officials pushed back against characterizations that BRICS was taking an anti-West turn under the influence of China and Russia. Putin and Xi laced their speeches with criticism of the U.S. and its allies earlier in the summit, although Xi did also call for a “lowering of the temperature” in reference to the geopolitical climate.

Putin used a 17-minute prerecorded address on the opening day of the meetings to lash out at the West over the financial sanctions imposed on Russia as punishment for its invasion of Ukraine.

The expansion of BRICS also appears to expand China and Russia’s sphere of influence, especially in the Persian Gulf. While Saudi Arabia had been touted as a likely new member, Iran’s inclusion wasn’t expected. In the end, three Gulf nations were in line to possibly join.

Until recently, the inclusion of Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE together in the same economic or political organization would have been unthinkable, as tensions escalated following the collapse of Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal.

But the UAE became the first to reengage diplomatically with Iran, and Saudi Arabia and Iran announced they had reached a separate détente in March, notably with the help of Chinese mediation.

China has recently pushed for more of a presence in the Gulf and has sought closer relations with all three nations, particularly Iran, from which it has imported oil. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have also maintained relations with Russia amid the war on Ukraine, annoying the U.S., which has long provided security guarantees for the major oil-producing nations.

The U.S. and its Western allies clashed with Russia and Iran at the U.N. Security Council last month over Tehran’s uranium enrichment and its reported supply of combat drones to Russia that are being used to attack Ukraine.

Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. AP writers Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, Samy Magdy in Cairo, Cara Anna in Nairobi, Kenya and Almudena Calatrava in Buenos Aires, Argentina contributed to this report.


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Syria: Protests over growing economic hardship spread in south

By Lina Sinjab

BBC News, Beirut, 24 August 2923

Protests against Syria's government are intensifying in the country's south, amid widespread anger over its decision to cut fuel subsidies when millions of people are already struggling to afford basic goods because of hyperinflation.

A large banner showing President Bashar al-Assad hanging in one of the main squares in the city of Suweida is seen being set on fire in one video shared on social media over the past week.

"We want everyone to come out to the streets across Syria," says a man in another clip. "We are here against poverty and humiliation, calling for our rights. Everyone should be out protesting."

Crowds have even been filmed calling for the fall of the president, with chants such as "Long live Syria and down with Bashar al-Assad" echoing those of 2011 pro-democracy uprising that descended into civil war.

Government-held Suweida has witnessed protests against Mr Assad over the past 12 years, but this is the first time that such slogans have been heard on its streets.

His regime has long been careful in its dealings with the minority Druze sect whose followers make up most of the residents of the city and its surrounding province. It has tolerated dissent there to a larger degree than it would in other areas under its control.

Some protesters have also been taking place in neighbouring Deraa province, where the 2011 uprising began but which was retaken by the government seven years later.

Demands for change

Deteriorating living conditions have pushed many people to take to the streets in recent months.

But the protests intensified last week, after the government announced the total lifting of subsidies on petrol and a partial lifting of subsidies on fuel oil.

A worsening economic crisis, with a currency collapse fuelling hyperinflation, has left almost 90% of the population living below the poverty line. But the sudden spike in fuel prices has made the situation even worse.

Some public sector workers' monthly income is worth as little as $20 (£15.80) at the black market exchange rate. That has left them unable to afford even essential food supplies for their families.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview with Sky News Arabia in Damascus, Syria (8 August 2023)

Earlier in the month, a new group calling itself "The 10th of August Movement" issued a statement calling for living conditions to be improved in Syria. Many of those behind the group are believed to be from Mr Assad's minority Alawite sect, which has steadfastly supported him during the war.

The statement demanded the government raise the monthly minimum wage so that it was worth at least $100; provide electricity for at least 20 hours a day, up from the current average of three in most areas; and issue new passports within a month, signalling the desire of many young people to leave the country. The statement also called for the release of political prisoners.

In recent days, photos of people in various cities across Syria with letters making similar demands and expressing opposition to Mr Assad's rule have posted on social media.

Exiled opposition groups hope that these developments will lead to lead to long awaited changes, but the president's hold on power appears to be secure for now.

Alawite anger

The criticism from his fellow Alawites will, however, be a cause for concern for Mr Assad.

Some are reported to have been arrested after they took to social media platforms to call on the president to act.

Ahmed Ibrahim Ismail is one of them. He is from Jableh, a town in the north-western coastal province of Latakia that is the heartland of the Alawites.

"I wished to hear something else from you... You are flying away from reality. I am very disappointed. I haven't anything from you to tackle my pain," he said.

He went on to describe his deteriorating living conditions.

A few days later, Mr Ismail's daughter announced on her Facebook that he had been detained.

Many similar stories have been circulating online.

During the past 12 years of protests and war, many have argued that Mr Assad would be able to stay in power unless the Alawite community turned against him.

So far, there is no evidence of a strong organised movement that could threaten his rule, but the growing public anger - especially among Alawites - could be the start of something bigger.


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Palestinian authorities say an explosion at a Hamas site in Gaza has killed 1 militant

 August 24, 2023

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — An explosion ripped through a Hamas militant site in the central Gaza Strip on Thursday, Palestinian authorities said, killing one militant and seriously wounding another.

The Gaza-based interior ministry did not reveal the cause of the blast but said it killed Ashraf Hussein, a member of Hamas’ military wing, the Qassam Brigades. The Qassam Brigades acknowledged that Hussein was killed in what the group described as an accidental explosion.

There was no information about what kind of militant facility was affected in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza Strip, or about the extent of damage caused. Gaza’s Hamas rulers have a number of training sites and underground facilities used for manufacturing weapons and storing raw rocket material. Accidental explosions have been reported in the past at bomb laboratories and munitions storehouses.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007, prompting Israel and Egypt to impose a blockade on the territory, largely to prevent the militants from amassing more weapons. Israel and Hamas have fought four wars and exchanged fire countless times since the Hamas takeover of the crowded Palestinian enclave.


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Algeria sends official to Niger for talks after coup


August 24, 2023

ALGIERS: Algeria said it sent a high-ranking official to Niger on Thursday as part of its diplomatic push in the aftermath of a military coup in the neighboring country.

The Algerian Foreign Ministry’s secretary-general, Lounes Magramane, “will be visiting” Niger, the ministry said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

It comes a day after Algerian Foreign Minister Ahmed Attaf began a tour of West African countries in a bid to find a solution in Niger, where Algiers opposes any military intervention following the coup.

The West African bloc ECOWAS has threatened to use force to reinstate Niger’s elected president, Mohammed Bazoum, who was detained by the armed forces on July 26.

Magramane’s visit was another step in Algiers’ “unceasing efforts ... to contribute to a peaceful solution to the crisis in Niger, avoiding increased risks for this neighbouring and brotherly country and for the entire region,” the Algerian Foreign Ministry said.

The diplomat was due to hold a “series of meeting with figures and high officials” in Niger, it added.

Algeria, which shares a 1,000-km southern land border with Niger, has previously cautioned against a military solution, which President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said would be “a direct threat” to his country.

He stressed “there will be no solution without us (Algeria). We are the first people affected.”

Algeria — Africa’s largest country — also shares borders with Libya and Mali, both in the throes of years-long conflicts.

Niger is the fourth nation in West Africa since 2020 to suffer a coup, following Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali.

The juntas in Burkina Faso and Mali have said that any military intervention in their neighbor would be considered a “declaration of war” against their countries.

The West African bloc has rejected the proposal by Niger’s mutinous soldiers for a three-year transition to democratic rule, with a commissioner describing the slow timeline as a provocation.

The door for diplomacy with Niger’s junta remained open but the bloc is not going to engage in drawn-out talks that lead nowhere, said Abdel-Fatau Musah, the ECOWAS commissioner for peace and security.

“It is the belief among the ECOWAS heads of state and also the commission that the coup in Niger is one coup too many for the region and if we allow it then we are going to have a domino effect in the region and we are determined to stop it,” Musah said.

While direct talks and backchannel negotiations are ongoing, he said the door to diplomacy wasn’t open indefinitely.

“We are not going to engage in long, drawn out haggling with these military officers … We went down that route in Mali, in Burkina Faso and elsewhere, and we are getting nowhere,” Musah said.

His comments came days after an ECOWAS delegation met the head of Niger’s military regime, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani.

After last week’s meetng, Musah said the ball is now in the junta’s court.


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At least 90 Yemenis die in lightning strikes in 2 months


August 24, 2023

AL-MUKALLA: Lightning strikes killed 45 people in Yemen in July, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said, while local media reported almost the same number of lightning-related deaths this month.

In a routine agrometeorological alert issued on Wednesday, the FAO reported that intense lightning activity and thunderstorms last month killed 45 people and large numbers of livestock, mainly in Yemen’s highland provinces.

“Overall, field reports indicate that 45 people and several herds of livestock were confirmed dead across Yemen. As the kharif rainy season continues, there is a high likelihood of sustained lightning activities across much of Yemen. Lightning remains an active threat to pastoral farming across much of Yemen,” it said.

The report coincided with claims by local media and testimonies from individuals indicating that at least 45 Yemenis have been killed by lightning strikes since the start of August.

Two children died last week when lightning struck their home in the Bajel district of Hodeidah, a province in western Yemen, according to locals.

A young man in the same property escaped unhurt.

Most lightning-related fatalities were recorded in mountainous provinces, such as Amran, Mahweet, Sanaa, and Hajjah.

This month, lightning struck Mohammed Hassan Al-Hajj’s home in the Hufash district of Al-Mahweet region, killing him while he slept.

Numerous Yemenis shared on social media the image of Qusay Ghawth, a young man who was struck and killed by lightning in Aflah Al-Sham in the Hajjah district.

In the Khamir district of Amran’s highland province, a shepherd and more than 40 of her animals were killed by a lightning strike while they huddled near a cliff.

Yemen’s Red Crescent estimates there have been 150 lightning-related deaths and injuries since the beginning of the year.

It has urged Yemenis to take “simple” precautions, including turning off mobiles and landlines, disconnecting the internet, unplugging chargers and solar power panels, avoiding sheltering under trees, and staying indoors during thunderstorms.

Meanwhile, two civilians were killed in the province of Hodeidah after tampering with unexploded ordnance, Yemeni Landmine Records, an organization that monitors civilian land mine fatalities in the country, reported on Wednesday.

Ahmed Fetaini, 18, and Majed Yahiya, 30, were collecting trash in Hodeidah’s Ad Durayhimi district when blast occurred.

The same organization said that a deminer in the central province of Marib’s Raghwan region was injured when a land mine he was attempting to defuse detonated.

The Hodeidah city-based UN Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement said on Monday that explosions caused by land mines and other munitions killed five civilians and injured four others in Hodeidah’s Al-Hali, Al-Hawak, Ad Durayhimi, Bayt Al-Faqih and At Tuhayta districts in July.

The numbers represent a 13 percent increase on the previous month, but a 57 percent decrease on the same month last year.

Hodeidah is believed to have the highest concentration of land mines in Yemen. The Houthis planted thousands of explosive devices in the province to prevent Yemeni government forces from capturing territory.


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Three PKK members killed in Turkish drone strike in Iraq: Authorities


August 24, 2023

IRBIL: Three members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were killed Thursday in a Turkish drone strike in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, authorities said, as Ankara’s top diplomat visited the northern region.

“A Turkish army drone struck a PKK vehicle, killing an official and two fighters” of the group — considered a terrorist organization by Turkiye and Western countries — in the Sidakan district, the Kurdish counter-terrorism services said.

It came as Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan was visiting the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital Irbil after he began on Tuesday his first official trip to Iraq.

Fidan met with the Kurdistan region’s president Nechirvan Barzani and prime minister Masrour Barzani, amid calls by Ankara for Baghdad to label the PKK a terrorist organization.

“We have settled this question in Turkiye once and for all. Now the PKK is hiding in Iraqi territory. We are working with Baghdad and Irbil to protect Iraq from the PKK,” Fidan said at a joint news conference with Masrour Barzani.

On Tuesday Fidan had urged the federal government in Baghdad to brand the PKK a “terrorist” organization.

Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region has long been a target of Turkish air and ground operations against the PKK, which has waged a decades-long insurgency against Ankara.

The Turkish military rarely comments on individual strikes in northern Iraq.

Both the Kurdish authorities in Irbil and the federal government in Baghdad have long been accused of not doing enough to stop Turkiye’s frequent resort to military action on Iraqi soil in its nearly four-decade struggle against the PKK.

Statements condemning the violation of Iraqi sovereignty are periodically issued, particularly when there are civilian casualties.

But critics say both Irbil and Baghdad are more concerned with protecting trade and investment ties with Ankara.

On July 25, the office of Prime Minister Mohamed Shia Al-Sudani announced a forthcoming visit to Iraq by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but a date has yet to be set.


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How Police, Islamic group tricked Isese worshippers from Ibadan to Ilorin for trial

Demola Akinyemi, Ilorin

August 24, 2023

The renowned traditional worshipper otherwise known as “Isese” Mr Abdulazeez Adegbola popularly known as Talolohun and Chief Ademola OluwoTede unknown to them were tricked into coming and facing trial in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital by their traducers.

Recall that they had taken to several social media handles to attack the critics of the Isese festival in Ilorin, a development that drew the ire of their targets.

Vanguard reliably gathered that Talolohun who reportedly set the Holy Book of Qur’an ablaze and attacked the Islamic religion also poured venoms on the revered monarch, the Emir of Ilorin Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, the State Police Commissioner EbunoluwarotimiAdelesi, and other renowned Islamic clerics for their opposition to the celebration of Isese in Ilorin in the social media.

It was also gathered that members of a popular Islamic group known as “The Glory of Ilorin” who were pained by their virile attacks succeeded in tracking the suspects to Ibadan, Oyo State capital where they were based.

The Islamic group had reported the matter at the Kwara State Police Command where they were given plainclothes security officers who escorted them to Ibadan to bring them to Ilorin.

Arrowhead of the Islamic group, Sheikh Oniyawo Meta had reportedly approached Abdulazeez Adegbola in Ibadan that he was interested in his cause and allegedly offered him N500,000 (Five Hundred thousand naira) to make him celebrate the well-publicised Isese festival in Ilorin.

Sheikh Oniyawo also promised to provide printed T-shirts and faze caps among others to make the celebration colourful.

It was while they were discussing that the police reportedly arrested him with his accomplice and brought them to Ilorin for trial.

Suspects at the Ilorin Correctional Centre 

An Ilorin Upper Court on Wednesday ordered Adegbola and his accomplice, Tede to be remanded at the Correctional Centre Ilorin till September 4, 2023, for further hearing of their case.

Fully armed police officers and other security agencies were in the court to prevent possible breakdown of laws and order when Muslim faithful and Isese worshippers stormed the court when the duo were arraigned before the court over conspiracy to cause crisis in Ilorin which is contrary to sections 96, 113, 391, and 399 of Nigeria Constitution.

Earlier, last Thursday, the duo had been dragged before the Magistrate Mohammed Ibrahim court by a group of Islamic clerics known who also ordered them to be remanded at the same Correctional Centre till October 5, 2023.

At the Upper Area court, on Wednesday, Barrister Abolaji Adisa, the Counsel to Alfa Okutagi who is the Plaintiff in another separate case told the court that he brought the suspects to court for defaming his client by calling him a fake Islamic cleric on the social media and lied that his late father approached them for spiritual powers while alive.

Barrister Adisa also accused the suspects that they falsely claimed to have assisted the father of the cleric to get spiritual powers from the Osun goddess when his wife could not conceive to bear children.

Counsel to the suspects Barrister Adedamola Olalekan sponsored by a Yoruba group “Yoruba Lesin” from Lagos state opposed the appearance of the suspects in two courts for the same offence, describing it as abuse of court process.

He urged the Upper Area court to dismiss the case and allow them to appear before the Magistrate court.

Meanwhile, the Counsel to the Plaintiff, Barrister Abolaji Adisa, pleaded with the court for seven days to reply to the submission of the defendants’ Counsel Barrister Adedamola asked for one day.

Magistrate Sunday Adeniyi in his ruling adjourned the case till September 9, 2023 for further hearing.


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ECOWAS slams 'unacceptable' Niger transition plan

August 24, 2023

The West African bloc ECOWAS rejected the proposal by Niger’s mutinous soldiers for a three-year transition to democratic rule.

Speaking to Al Jazeera earlier this week, the bloc's commissioner for peace and security said it was 'unacceptable.'

The door for diplomacy with Niger's junta remained open but the bloc is not going to engage in drawn-out talks that lead nowhere, Abdel-Fatau Musah, the ECOWAS commissioner for peace and security, told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday.

"It is the belief among the ECOWAS heads of state and also the commission that the coup in Niger is one coup too many for the region and if we allow it then we are going to have a domino effect in the region and we are determined to stop it," Musah said. While direct talks and backchannel negotiations are ongoing, he said the door to diplomacy wasn’t open indefinitely.

"We are not going to engage in long, drawn out haggling with these military officers … We went down that route in Mali, in Burkina Faso and elsewhere, and we are getting nowhere," Musah said.

His comments came days after an ECOWAS delegation met the head of Niger's military regime, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, for the first time since the mutinous soldiers ousted President Mohamed Bazoum in July.

After last week’s meeting, Musah said the ball is now in the junta’s court.

Coups and sanctions

The junta has been keeping Bazoum and his wife and son under house arrest, and ECOWAS has demanded Bazoum be freed and constitutional order restored.

ECOWAS has used Niger as a red line against further coups after several in the region, including two each in Mali and Burkina Faso since 2020.

The bloc has imposed severe economic and travel sanctions and threatened the use of military force if Bazoum is not reinstated, but the junta has dug in. It has appointed a new government and said it will return the country to democratic rule within several years.

Niger was seen as one of the last democratic countries in the Sahel region below the Sahara Desert that Western nations could partner with to beat back a growing jihadi insurgency linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group. France, other European countries and the United States have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into providing equipment and training for Niger's military and in the case of France have conducted joint operations.

The 2023 Global Terrorism Index estimated that Sahel accounted for 43% of global terrorism deaths in 2022. With 8,564 victims, Burkina Faso ranked 2nd just behind Afghanistan.

Somalia, Mali and Syria occupied the 3rd, 4th and 5th place respectively. Next came Pakistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Burma and Niger according to the document.

Since the coup those military operations have been suspended while both sides decide what to do. France and the U.S. have some 2,500 military personnel in the country and the U.S. operates two key drone and counter-terror bases.

Musah said ECOWAS was not discussing military plans with any external partners and everything it was planning is based on the resources of member states. Earlier this month, ECOWAS said 11 of its 15 member states had agreed to intervene militarily if talks didn't work.

ECOWAS is banking on a combination of external pressure through sanctions and internal unrest within Niger's security forces and the fact that Tchiani, the junta's leader, met with ECOWAS face to face after multiple attempts, is a sign that the coup leaders are feeling the pressure, said Nate Allen, an associate professor at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies.

"Nonetheless, it is clear that the two sides remain very far apart and the risk of conflict is high," he said.


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Niger allows Mali, Burkina Faso to intervene in case of attack on its territory

 25 August 2023

Amid an ongoing threat by West Africa's main regional bloc to take military action to reverse the coup in Niger, the country allows Mali and Burkina Faso to intervene militarily in case of an attack on its soil.

Coup leaders toppled Niger's President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26, following which the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) threatened to use force if they refused to return Bazoum to power. The bloc reiterated the threat earlier this month, saying an undisclosed "D-Day" had been agreed for possible military intervention in Niger.

On Thursday, the Malian, Burkinabe, and Nigerien foreign ministers said they had met in the Nigerien capital Niamey to discuss boosting cooperation on security and other joint issues.

The statement said the ministers had welcomed the signing by Niger's junta leader General Abdourahamane Tiani of two orders "authorizing the Defense and Security Forces of Burkina Faso and Mali to intervene on Nigerien territory in the event of an attack."

It also noted that Bamako and Ouagadougou would consider any incursion against Niger to be a "declaration of war" on their respective soils.

"The Burkinabe and Malian Ministers ... reiterated their rejection of an armed intervention against the people of Niger which will be considered as a declaration of war," the statement said.

On Sunday, however, Tiani said Niger was open to dialogue to avert a conflict with ECOWAS. Neither coup leaders nor "the Nigerien people want war and remain open to dialogue," he said.

The coup leader warned, though, at the same time that Niger was prepared to defend itself if needed. "If an aggression were to be undertaken against us, it would not be the walk in the park that some believe," Tiani noted.


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IHC may rule on Imran’s 3-year sentence today

Malik Asad | Nasir Iqbal Published

August 25, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Islam­abad High Court (IHC) is expected to announce a decision in a case pertaining to the suspension of PTI chief Imran Khan’s three-year jail term in the Toshakhana case, as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is likely to conclude its arguments today.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Thursday put off proceedings regarding the Toshakhana case till the decision of the IHC, saying it did not want to “duplicate the proceedings”.

During Thursday’s proceedings, the PTI chairman’s lawyer Latif Khosa argued before an IHC division bench consisting of Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, focusing on three aspects: the release of Mr Khan owing to a short sentence, jurisdictional defects, and improper authorisation by the ECP.

The lawyer argued for Mr Khan’s release, saying that appellate courts could suspend such a short sentence even without examining the merits of the case. He added that Presi­dent Arif Alvi on Aug 14 remitted sentences of prisoners and in light of this development, Mr Khan’s sentence was reduced by six months as well.

He argued that Mr Khan was now supposed to undergo two-and-a-half years imprisonment and the IHC could suspend his sentence. Mr Khosa further argued that the trial court did not examine the jurisdiction of the complaint filed by the ECP.

According to him, there was a jurisdictional defect in the complaint since the Election Commission was required to authorise an officer to file the reference. “In this case, the secretary of ECP authorised the district election commissioner to file the complaint,” he said.

He, however, said that the Election Commission has been defined in Article 218, which meant that the commission comprises the chief election commissioner and the ECP members. In this particular case, the secretary instead of the CEC or the ECP members authorised an officer, hence, the complaint was filed without due authorisation.

Mr Khosa further argued that the complaint must be filed before a magistrate who would refer the matter to a sessions court. “Sessions court cannot entertain the complaint directly,” he added.

Latif Khosa also said that the trial court judge “disobeyed the IHC’s directions and instead of examining the jurisdiction and maintainability of the complaint” convicted Mr Khan. He also pointed out that the Supreme Court also observed the verdict was passed in haste.

IHC Chief Justice observed that the court would look into the matter related to the ‘haste’ shown by Additional District and Sessions Judge Humayun Dilawar, administratively. Mr Khosa then went to the Supreme Court as the apex court was scheduled to take up the petition of Mr Khan at 2pm, which adjourned the matter without any proceedings, observing that it was still pending before the IHC.

ECP arguments

Mr Khosa then returned to the high court, where ECP counsel Amjad Pervaiz was rebutting his arguments. Advocate Pervaiz argued that the superior courts could suspend the sentence of those condemned prisoners who have at least completed 6 months imprisonment.

He pointed out that an accountability court awarded one year imprisonment to PML-N leader Capt Muhammad Safdar in the Avenfield Apartments case and the IHC suspended the sentence after three months. He said that Mr Khan has not even completed 20 days in prison. He argued that the matter of jurisdiction and maintainability has been discussed in detail in the trial court.

He pointed out that the counsel of Mr Khan did not impleaded the state as a respondent and added that the Supreme Court in 2016 ruled that the state must be cited as a necessary party in all the appeals against conviction. Mr Khosa objected to the ECP’s counsel arguments, saying that the superior courts have declared that the private counsel could be engaged in the cases where the advocate general recused to argue. On the court’s query, Mr Pervaiz said that he would take at least three hours to conclude the arguments on Friday.

‘Out of the blue’

But the SC took everyone by surprise as it ordered Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan to furnish an official report about the living conditions of incarcerated PTI chief Imran Khan.

Headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, a three-judge Supreme Court bench that had taken up Imran Khan’s Toshakhana case directed AGP to furnish the report by Aug 28.

Interestingly, the direction came even though the matter was neither discussed during Thursday’s brief hearing, nor was it pending before the court for determination.

During the hearing, the elder sisters of the former premier – Aleema Khan and Dr Uzma Khan – were also present in Courtroom No 1, as well as ECP-engaged senior counsel Ashtar Ausaf and Irfan Qadir

Since the Islamabad High Court (IHC) is seized with the matter where the proceeding was continuing and adjourned for Friday, the apex court decided to wait for the high court to hand down its final order.

On Thursday, the CJP also called for a representative from the Attorney General’s office in Courtroom No. 1. Since no one was present, the CJP observed that the order would contain a direction to furnish a report by the government about the living conditions of Imran Khan in jail.

The court, however, discouraged senior counsel Sardar Latif Khosa from sharing details of his meeting with Imran Khan in the jail. Still, the counsel was successful in blurting out some details, such as the presence of a uniformed police official during his meeting with the PTI chairman in prison.

‘Lower courts not subordinate’

Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel – a member of the bench – emphasised that the high courts or the civil courts were not subordinate to the Supreme Court. They are independent and their independence should be respected, Justice Mandokhel observed, regretting that the respect of both the bench and the bar were dependent on each other. He did not seem happy over lawyers addressing press conferences targeting the judiciary.

At the outset, when the counsel appeared at the rostrum to say that he had rushed to the Supreme Court straight from the high court where he was on his legs at the rostrum, the CJP quipped you have “almost lost his breath”.

Justice Bandial observed that there was no need to duplicate the proceedings when the high court was hearing the case. When Justice Sayyed Mazahar Akbar Naqvi asked about the fate of the case at the high court, the counsel retorted that he was not a clairvoyant. “My job is to put in the best effort and it is the job of the court to do justice, the counsel said.


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PM calls for dynamic foreign policy to strengthen Pakistan’s relationships with world

August 25, 2023

Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar ul Haq Kakar has stressed the need for a dynamic foreign policy to strengthen Pakistan’s relationship with other countries.

He stated this while sharing his views at a briefing by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad.

The Prime Minister gave specific directions on different aspects of foreign policy with particular reference to facilitation of and engagement with the Pakistani diaspora.

The Foreign Secretary Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi briefed the Prime Minister about Pakistan’s foreign policy.

The briefing covered Pakistan’s external relations, the working of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, recent efforts to strengthen its diplomatic ties with other countries, and priorities for the future, especially in view of regional and global developments.

The need for close coordination between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and all other national stakeholders was discussed with a view to ensuring the synergetic and holistic pursuit of Pakistan’s foreign policy objectives, security, trade and economic objectives.

The Prime Minister appreciated the crucial role played by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Pakistani diplomats in promoting and protecting Pakistan’s interests abroad.


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Caretaker PM expresses resolve to address issues of GB

August 24, 2023

Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar says the government will take all possible measures to solve the problems of Gilgit-Baltistan and development of the area.

He was talking to Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan Gulbar Khan who called on him in Islamabad on Thursday.

The Chief Minister congratulated the Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar on becoming the caretaker Prime Minister and expressed his best wishes.

Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister said Gilgit-Baltistan has a vast tourism potential which has not been fully exploited.

He said the government will take all possible measures to eradicate the backwardness of Gilgit-Baltistan.

The Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan invited the Prime Minister to visit Gilgit-Baltistan and address the Legislative Assembly.

The Chief Minister also briefed the Prime Minister about the administrative issues and problems of Gilgit-Baltistan.


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SBP issues commemorative coin to mark 75 years of Pak-US diplomatic ties

August 24, 2023

The State Bank of Pakistan issued a commemorative coin of 75 rupees during a ceremony held in Islamabad on Thursday to mark the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and the USA.

Foreign Secretary Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi graced the occasion as Chief Guest, while US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome dignified the event as Guest of Honor.

Speaking on the occasion, Foreign Secretary Syrus Sajjad Qazi praised the beautiful commemorative coin, remarking that the national symbols of Pakistan and the United States of America on the coin highlight the democratic roots of both countries.

The Foreign Secretary paid tribute to the mutually beneficent relationship between the two countries, acknowledging the efforts of US Ambassador in injecting a new vigor into this relationship.

Delineating the multidimensional relationship between the two countries, encompassing trade and investment, defense, counter-terrorism, education, energy, climate and health, he said that the high-level bilateral visits between the two countries have helped to further cement the relationship.

Reiterating the importance of the Pak-US relationship, the Foreign Secretary said that the coin will continue to stand as an enduring symbol of our commitment to this long-standing association.

He also thanked the Governor SBP for holding a historic ceremony to commemorate the importance of the Pak-US relationship.

In his remarks, US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome said that the coin represents the shared values, ideals and common ties between the two countries, as well as their commitment to a brighter future. He thanked the State Bank of Pakistan for the meaningful gesture of issuance of the commemorative coin, and expressed his hope of working closely with the Government of Pakistan.

He was confident that new initiatives such as the US-Pakistan Green Alliance would help both countries to jointly address their shared challenges.


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Choosing future leaders is for Pakistanis to decide, US envoy tells ECP

August 25, 2023

ISLAMABAD: US Ambassador Donald Blome met Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja Thursday to reaffirm the US support for “free and fair elections”, saying it would work to strengthen the US-Pakistan relationship with “whomever the Pakistani people choose”.

"The United States remains committed to working to broaden and deepen the US-Pakistan relationship with whomever the Pakistani people choose,” a statement from the US Embassy’s spokesperson read.

Ambassador Blome’s remarks come against a backdrop of uncertainty surrounding the general elections in Pakistan.

The-then Shehbaz Sharif-led government dissolved the National Assembly on August 9, while Sindh and Balochistan assemblies were also prematurely dissolved to allow the electoral authority to hold elections in the country within 90 days instead of 60 days if the legislature completed its constitutional tenure.

However, the ECP may not be able to hold the polls within the stipulated time as the Council of Common Interests (CCI), days before the dissolution of the assemblies, approved the 7th Population and Housing Census 2023.

The move led to concerns from several quarters, including the Pakistan Peoples Party, which was part of the coalition government that ratified the census.

During the meeting on Thursday, the US ambassador reiterated that choosing Pakistan’s future leaders is for the Pakistani people to decide, the statement added. Blome also reaffirmed that America would back transparent elections “conducted in accordance with Pakistan’s laws and constitution”.

Earlier in June this year, Michael Gahler, the head of the Election Observation Mission (EOM) of the EU Parliament, said that the EU may not send its election observers to Pakistan this year “because we are not sure about the general elections in Pakistan in 2023”.

Gahler told this to a group of Pakistani journalists in the EU Parliament who were visiting Belgium at the invitation of the European External Action Service. Gahler is a member of the EU Parliament since 1999 and headed the EOM of Pakistan in 2008, 2013 and 2018.

He said the EOM needed an invitation from the government of Pakistan to send their observation mission for the monitoring of the election at least three months before the election date. “But we have not received any invitation from Pakistan yet,” he added.

Former federal ministers, including Rana Sanaullah, have stated that the general elections in the country may be delayed until March next year due to the delimitation of constituencies to be held on the basis of new census. Petitions have also been filed in the Supreme Court to ensure timely elections in the country.


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PTI chief’s bail: Opposing forces at work

Hasnaat Malik

August 25, 2023ISLAMABAD:

Amidst the jubilation within the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) camp, the proceedings of a special bench within the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, in the Toshakhana case have ignited a significant backlash from various quarters. In particular, the bench's observations have sparked criticism, as it pointed out flaws in the August 5 conviction of former prime minister Imran Khan by a trial court.

Prominent in the criticism directed at the apex court's proceedings are legal experts, who are raising questions about potential parallels between the trial court and the Supreme Court's actions. They argue that the trial court denied Imran Khan the opportunity to mount a defense, a perceived miscarriage of justice, and now the special bench of the Supreme Court is commenting on the trial court's decision despite its sub judice status in the Islamabad High Court.

At one juncture, Chief Justice Bandial even floated the notion of the bench issuing an order for the release of Imran Khan. The prevailing atmosphere during the proceedings on Wednesday suggests that the Supreme Court is expressing dissatisfaction with the Islamabad High Court's delay in deciding Imran Khan's plea to suspend his three-year conviction, which has remained pending since August 8.

The special bench is now eagerly awaiting the outcome of the ongoing proceedings in the Islamabad High Court. Imran Khan's legal representatives have argued for the suspension of the trial court's judgment, while the prosecution (the Election Commission of Pakistan) is vehemently opposing the same.

Amidst these developments, legal experts are perplexed about how the Supreme Court can oversee the high court's proceedings. A division bench that was unable to conclude arguments will resume the hearing on Friday.

However, the proceeding's inconclusiveness on Thursday can be attributed to several reasons, lawyers argue. A primary factor is the lack of coordination among the members of the PTI's legal team. With three counsels representing Imran Khan and Khawaja Haris, the former prime minister's counsel, having distanced himself from the case, the situation has become complex.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court's remarks on the conduct of the trial court judge have ignited another issue. This has provided the PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz) with ammunition to construct an anti-judiciary narrative.

Similarly, influential entities have been actively placing obstacles in the path the special bench intends to take. The Election Commission of Pakistan has enlisted Irfan Qadir to counter the bench's actions.

The situation has escalated to the point where even the Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court, Aamer Farooq, commented on the high court's predicament, describing it as being caught in a difficult position.

Another intriguing facet of the proceedings is that the special bench has requested the Attorney General for Pakistan to submit a report on Imran Khan's living conditions, all without formally invoking suo motu powers.

Legal experts have weighed in on the Toshakhana case. Advocate Hafiz Ahsaan Ahmad Khokhar pointed out that the Supreme Court's jurisdiction is outlined by constitutional provisions such as articles 184, 185, 186, 187, and 188. He clarified that the Supreme Court's establishment is rooted in Article 176 of the Constitution, and its role is to adjudicate on current disputes, particularly those related to high court rulings in criminal cases, as stipulated by Article 185.

Khokhar emphasized that while a criminal matter is under consideration by the Supreme Court, lower courts remain free to issue any final orders according to the law. He noted that this applies when there is no restraining order against ongoing proceedings in lower courts by the Supreme Court. He clarified that the Supreme Court is currently refraining from making decisions on cases that are pending before it while awaiting the high court's final verdict, which would render the earlier Supreme Court orders irrelevant.

Regarding the ongoing case, Khokhar argued that the orders challenged before the Supreme Court are no longer pertinent, and thus the Supreme Court has not made rulings on the current proceedings. He contended that this approach prevents either party from gaining legal advantage, as the former prime minister's conviction would stand even if the appeals were decided in their current form.

Khokhar also discussed the appropriateness of addressing the matter and suggested that the Supreme Court could have made a decision on the appeals' grounds of non-maintainability and being infructuous, rather than waiting for the high court's decision. He proposed that the petitioner could then withdraw and challenge any new high court order if dissatisfied with the conviction or suspension of the sentence.

While Chief Justice Bandial may not be able to provide substantial relief to Imran Khan before his retirement, his efforts to support PTI leaders during challenging times have garnered appreciation from supporters. His legacy seems to be that of a judge who endeavored to assist PTI leaders in various matters. However, the Supreme Court's involvement has inadvertently made Imran Khan's bail a subject of controversy, even though it represents a classic case of bail following the suspension of a trial court's judgment.


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Imaan, Wazir sent to Adiala Jail on 14-day remand

August 25, 2023


An Islamabad anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Thursday sent human rights lawyer Imaan Zainab Mazari-Hazir and Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) leader Ali Wazir to Adiala Jail on 14-day judicial remand in a sedition case related to the controversial speech against the state institutions.

On Aug 19, two first information reports (FIR) were registered against Imaan and Wazir at the Tarnol police station and the Counter-Terrorism Department police station, following a rally of the PTM in the federal capital. Both were booked on the charges of sedition, preventing government officials from carrying out their duties and damaging public property.

During the proceedings, Imaan and Wazir were produced before ATC Judge Abul Hasnat Zulqarnain after a three-day physical remand.

“Voice matching and photogrammetry of Imaan Mazari and Ali Wazir have been completed,” Prosecutor Raja Naveed said, seeking an extension in their physical remand.

The investigation officer apprised the court that Imaan was given a piece of paper from which she made the speech. “She needs to be interrogated who gave her that piece of paper.”

ATC Judge Zulqarnain said that the decision would be made based on justice only. “Every possible due relief will be given,” he added.

Imaan’s counsel Safai Zainab Janjua prayed the court to hear her client’s bail plea. To this, the ATC judge remarked that the bail plea could not be heard today; however, he issued a notice of a hearing for Saturday.

ATC judge allowed Imaan to meet her mother, former human rights minister Shireen Mazari, in the courtroom and summoned parties on Aug 26 on Imaan’s bail application.

A district and sessions court in Islamabad on Tuesday granted bail and sent PTM leader Ali Wazir to jail on a 14-day judicial in a different case related to "interference in state affairs" and damaging public property registered after the PTM held its rally in Islamabad. (With input from news desk)


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‘Deciding election date president’s prerogative’


August 25, 2023

LAHORE:The legal experts have rejected the impression that giving the date for the National Assembly elections was the prerogative of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), concurring that it was a power that rests with the President of Pakistan.

They also condemned the election supervisor’s move to turn down President Arif Alvi’s request for a meeting, stating that the president was the head of the state, and that Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja should have shown respect the president office commands.

They said in case the meeting had taken place, the ECP could have kept its observations, concerns and limitation before the president and a better sense would have prevailed.

The excuse the polls supervisory body has cited to turn down the meeting, are the recent amendments to the Election Act 2017, under which the CEC has been empowered to fix the date for elections without the president’s input.

The legal experts recalled that the ECP had turned down the president’s request earlier in February too when Alvi wanted to consult the dates for holding polls to the Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa elections. The election supervisor at the time cited the reason that the matter was sub judice.

It is pertinent to mention that the CEC met with US Ambassador Donald Blome on Thursday.

A plain reading of the Constitution reveals that the powers to give a date, in case the president dissolves the National Assembly on the advice of the prime minister within 90 days, rests with the president.

The contention being raised by the ECP pertains to the changes in Election Act 2017, which was a sub constitutional legislation ergo has no overriding effect on the requirement laid down in the Constitution.

Article (5) of the Constitution states, “Where the President dissolves the National Assembly, notwithstanding anything contained in clause (1), he shall,— (a) appoint a date, not later than ninety days from the date of the dissolution, for the holding of a general election to the Assembly”.

Since in this particular instance, the president did dissolve the assembly on the advice of the prime minister its becomes incumbent on the president to give the date.

On the other hand, what the ECP apparently says, is that the president can only give date for election if he dissolves assembly on his discretion under article 58 (2), which is in the case when no one person manages to get a clean majority after a successful vote of no confidence against the prime minister.

The understanding from the election supervisor’s stance is that when the assembly is dissolved under article 58(1), which is when the president dissolves assemblies on advice, the powers rests with the commission and in that case Article 48(1) applies which states that the president will act on the advice of the prime minister/cabinet.

Following simple principle as laid down in the Constitution, if the president gives date for the NA elections, then dates for Sindh, K-P and Balochistan polls would be given by their respective governors under Article 105(3A) of the Constitution.

Justice (retd) Shaiq Usmani said that the President of Pakistan had the constitutional authority to give a date in this case, but it would be better if he leaves it to the ECP as prior to the holding of polls, the delimitation process needed to be completed. He said the president should not give this order.

Referring to an old principle, he said, never give an order which you know cannot be obeyed.

He, however, express is dismay over the ECP’s decision to turn down the president’s request for a meeting. The CEC should have met the president, he added.

Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmed said Article 48(5) was unambiguous and it was not president’s power rather an obligation on him. He said since there is not dispute on the question of dissolution of NA assembly so Article 48 (5) gets invoked.

He noted that the ECP’s contention was “flat out wrong”, adding that through amendments in sub-constitutional legislations, they (outgoing PDM government) had tried changing the Constitution, which was unconstitutional.

He said this matter would land in the court.


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North America


Canada Submits ‘Rojek’, A Documentary About The Origins Of The Islamic State, For 2024 Oscar Race

 24 August 2023

Rojek, writer-director Zaynê Akyol’s documentary that attempts to trace the beginning, rise and fall of the Islamic State through the personal stories of its members and their wives incarcerated in prison camps, was selected Thursday by Canada to represent the country in the 2024 Oscar Best International Feature Film race.

Oscars: Germany Submits SPC-Acquired ‘The Teachers’ Lounge’ For Best International Film Category

A total of 28 films were submitted for consideration, with Rojek emerging today in a vote determined by a pan-Canadian committee of industry organizations and guilds, as well as filmmakers and industry professionals appointed to represent organizations. Telefilm Canada organizes the committee.

Rojek, which features a mix of Arabic, English, French, and Kurdish languages, opened in Canadian theatres on January 20 after making the rounds at festivals including winning a special jury prize at Hot Docs. It is produced by Audrey-Ann Dupuis-Pierre, Sylvain Corbeil, and Akyol of Métafilms. Icarus Films distributes the film in the U.S.

“In what may have been Canada’s most competitive year ever, Rojek was selected by a jury of industry peers as the film to best represent Canada in the Oscar race,” Telefilm Canada director and CEO Julie Roy said. “This announcement marks the beginning of an incredible journey and a one-of-a-kind opportunity for Rojek to reach audiences around the world and give them just a taste of the quality of filmmaking that Canada has to offer. We wish Zaynê, Metafilms, and the entire creative team all the best of luck as they move forward.”   

Canadian films have reached the nomination stage for the Best International Feature Film category (formerly Best Foreign Language Film) eight times, most recently in 2013 for Kim Nguyen’s Rebelle. Denys Arcand had three of those nominated films, with 2004’s Les Invasionsbarbares the only Canadian film to have won the Oscar in the category.

The deadline for countries to submit for the 2024 Oscars is October 2.


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Trump arrested in Georgia election racketeering case

25 August 2023

Former US president Donald Trump was arrested at a Georgia jail on Thursday on racketeering and conspiracy charges for trying to overturn the 2020 election results in the southern state.

During a brief session lasting less than 30 minutes, the 77-year-old Trump was booked on 13 charges at Atlanta's Fulton County Jail, according to records published by the sheriff's office.

Trump's height was listed by the jail as six foot three inches (1.9 meters), his weight as 215 pounds (97 kilograms) and his hair color as "Blond or Strawberry."

Other defendants in the racketeering case who have surrendered to the Georgia authorities in recent days have had a mugshot taken.

Trump slams 'travesty of justice'

Trump decried a "travesty of justice" following his formal arrest Thursday, calling the case against him "election interference."

"What has taken place here is a travesty of justice. We did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong," he told reporters as he prepared to fly out of Atlanta after being booked and photographed at the Fulton County Jail.

"What they're doing is election interference," he said.

Trump did not specify who he was accused of interference, but he has routinely denounced President Joe Biden and other Democrats for allegedly obstructing his reelection campaign.

The billionaire has been criminally indicted four times since April, setting the stage for a year of unprecedented drama as he tries to juggle multiple court appearances and another White House campaign.

In posts on his Truth Social platform shortly before leaving his New Jersey golf club for the flight to Atlanta, Trump said he was being arrested for "having the audacity to challenge a RIGGED & STOLLEN (sic) ELECTION."

"This is yet another SAD DAY IN AMERICA!" he added.

Trump was able to dodge having a mugshot taken during his previous arrests this year: in New York on charges of paying hush money to a porn star, in Florida for mishandling top secret government documents, and in Washington on charges of conspiring to upend his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

But Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat said standard procedure in Georgia is to take a defendant's photograph before they are released on bond -- set at $200,000 in Trump's case.

The arrest comes one day after Trump spurned a televised debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, featuring eight of his rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination -- all of whom lag well behind him in the polls.

He still stole the spotlight, though, with all but two of the candidates saying they would support him as the party's nominee even if he were a convicted felon.

During a pre-recorded interview with former Fox News talk show host Tucker Carlson -- which aired on social media at the same time as the debate -- Trump dismissed the criminal cases filed against him as "nonsense."

Trump said the Justice Department had been "weaponized" under Biden to hamstring his White House bid.

Court dates in election race

A tight security perimeter was set up for Trump's booking at the Fulton County Jail, which is under investigation for a slew of inmate deaths and deplorable conditions.

Fani Willis, the Fulton County district attorney who filed the sweeping racketeering case, had set a deadline of noon (1600 GMT) on Friday for Trump and the other 18 defendants to surrender.

Trump and 11 others have turned themselves in so far.

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows surrendered on Thursday and was released on $100,000 bond.

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who served as Trump's personal lawyer when he was in the White House and vigorously pushed the false claims that Trump had won the 2020 election, was booked and released on Wednesday.

John Eastman, a conservative lawyer who is accused of drawing up a scheme to submit a false slate of Trump electors to Congress from Georgia instead of the legitimate Biden ones, has also been booked and released.

A few dozen supporters of the former Republican president gathered outside the jail, including Sharon Anderson who spent the night in her car.

"I think this is a political persecution and now that's turned into a political prosecution," Anderson told AFP.

Trump is the first US president in history to face criminal charges.

His various trials, if they take place next year, may coincide with the Republican presidential primary season, which begins in January, and the campaign for the November 2024 White House election.

Special counsel Jack Smith has proposed a January 2024 start date for Trump's trial on charges of conspiring to overturn the last election with a lie-fueled campaign that culminated in the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol by his supporters.

Trump's attorneys have countered with a suggested start date well after the election -- April 2026.

Willis, the Georgia district attorney, initially proposed that the racketeering case begin in March next year, the same month Trump is scheduled to go on trial in New York on charges of paying hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels.

On Thursday, after one of the defendants asked for a speedy trial, she proposed that it begin for all 19 in October of this year, a move met with an immediate objection from Trump's lawyers.

The Florida case, in which Trump is accused of taking secret government documents as he left the White House and refusing to return them, is scheduled to begin in May.


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US and Ukraine ‘at odds’ over counteroffensive tactics – WSJ 

24 Aug, 2023

Washington is reportedly “frustrated” with Kiev’s reluctance to follow its advice in the conflict with Russia

American officials are “frustrated” with Ukraine’s reluctance to accept their advice on how to conduct the counteroffensive against Russian forces, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. 

The newspaper claimed it was still “not too late” for Kiev to follow instructions from Washington, and to utilize the training that tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops have received from NATO nations. The outlet noted, however, that the two sides are still “at odds about how to turn the tables on the Russians” before winter sets in.

According to the WSJ’s sources, the US believes that the amount of Western military aid sent to Ukraine is enough to breach Russian defenses, although the window of opportunity is closing.  

“We built up this mountain of steel for the counteroffensive. We can’t do that again,” one former US official explained. “It doesn’t exist.”  

The Ukrainian military leadership has attempted to deflect criticism by claiming that the Americans do not understand the kind of warfare that Kiev is engaged in, the WSJ added. 

“This is not counterinsurgency. This is Kursk,” General Valery Zaluzhny, Kiev’s top military commander, told his US interlocutors, according to an unnamed American official. 

Putin comments on Kiev’s battle tactics

Zaluzhny was referring to a key World War II battle on the eastern front, in which defending Soviet troops stopped Nazi forces before turning the tables on them.  

Figures in Washington want Zaluzhny to concentrate Ukrainian forces near the southern city of Tokmak for a push towards the Azov Sea, the article claimed. It added that US officials disapprove of President Vladimir Zelensky’s focus on attempts to retake the city of Artyomovsk in the east, which Kiev calls Bakhmut. 

The Ukrainian leader, who has invested symbolic significance in the settlement, reportedly argued that recapturing it would boost troop morale. US officials have long said Artyomovsk has no strategic value, urging a withdrawal before Ukrainian troops were ousted from it in late May. The WSJ said Kiev had made adjustments in recent weeks by taking a defensive posture in the east. 

Russia has argued that the US is using the Ukrainian people as cannon fodder in a proxy war against Moscow. The Russian military has claimed that Ukrainian troop losses during the first two months of its summer counteroffensive were more than 43,000.


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BREAKING: CAIR Reiterates Commitment to Restoring Opt-Out, Pledges to Pursue ‘Every Available Legal Means’ to Protect Rights of Families in MD’s Montgomery County Public Schools

Ismail Allison

August 24, 2023

(ROCKVILLE, MD. – 8/24/2023) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today reiterated its commitment to supporting families working restoring the right to opt-out option in Maryland’s Montgomery County Public Schools and pursuing all available legal means to protect the rights of children in the coming school year.

Earlier today, a federal court issued a ruling denying a request for a preliminary injunction by an interfaith group of Montgomery County families who seek to restore the right to opt-out of curriculum related to gender, family life and relationships that the school system added to PreK – 12 English classes last fall. The lawsuit was filed by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

CAIR was not involved in the litigation but provided several pieces of new evidence—including a memorandum written by elementary school principals who objected to the school district’s stance, discussion guides that direct teachers to silence, debate and refute students who express traditional religious views, and affidavits exposing MCPS’ contradictory explanations for cancelling the opt-out.

In a statement, CAIR’s Maryland Director Zainab Chaudry said:

“The campaign to protect the rights of parents and children in Montgomery County Public Schools is undeterred. 

“As the school year begins, we remain committed to supporting and advocating for families who simply want their children to not be subjected to discussions and sensitive concepts that would normally arise in sex education courses and may conflict with their faith.

“Until the opt-out option is restored, we plan to pursue every available legal means on behalf of families to protect their rights, including but not limited to new targeted legal action, continued interfaith rallies and the release of additional internal MCPS documents.”

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.              

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertadesciviles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a losmusulmanesenlosEstados Unidos.


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Arab World


Saudi Arabia hails invitation to join BRICS

August 24, 2023

JOHANNESBURG — Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan affirmed that the Kingdom will assess the invitation extended by BRICS for membership and make an appropriate decision.

"In its foreign policy, the Kingdom focuses on building economic partnerships, and we value the invitation from BRICS for membership and are studying it," the minister said in remarks to the press after attending a summit of the group in Johannesburg.

He added: “We await further details regarding the nature and criteria of membership. Based on this information and in accordance with our internal procedures, we will make the appropriate decision.”

Prince Faisal acknowledged that BRICS is one of the significant channels for enhancing economic cooperation.

He also expressed appreciation for the invitation extended by the BRICS group, noting that it stems from the Kingdom's economic stature and international influence.

He also emphasized that all of Saudi Arabia's partnerships aim to bolster economic and developmental aspects, underscoring the Kingdom's commitment to achieving its global goals and aspirations.

Saudi Arabia, among other nations, has been invited to become a member of the BRICS group of developing nations in its first expansion in over a decade. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Thursday as he wrapped up the annual summit of the group in Johannesburg. “The membership will take effect from the first of January, 2024,” Ramaphosa said. The group currently includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.


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Saudi Arabia’s trade with BRICS countries crosses $160 billion in 2022

JOHANNESBURG — Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan praised on Thursday the distinguished strategic relationship between the Kingdom and the BRICS group. In his speech, delivered on behalf of Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman, at the BRICS dialogue conference in Johannesburg, the foreign minister said that Saudi Arabia’s total bilateral trade with BRICS countries crossed $160 billion during the year 2022.

Prince Faisal, head of the Saudi delegation attending the summit, addressed the BRICS Plus Dialogue and BRICS-Africa Outreach session on Thursday. The theme of the session was “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for mutually accelerated growth, sustainable development, and inclusive multilateralism.”

At the outset of the speech, Prince Faisal conveyed the greetings of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and the Crown Prince and Prime Minister to the participating leaders and expressed the Kingdom's appreciation of the efforts made by President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa to host and make these summits a success.

The minister affirmed the Kingdom's aspiration for the joint summits to pave the way for discussing ways to enhance coordination, consultation and relations based on mutual respect, as well as exploring opportunities to deepen cooperation in all fields and providing conditions of security and stability that support the paths of development and economic progress.

He said that this approach is an essential component of the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030. “The distinguished strategic relationship between the Kingdom and the BRICS group strengthens the frameworks of common principles, the most prominent of which is the firm belief in the principle of respecting the sovereignty and independence of states, non-interference in their affairs. This is in addition to adhering to the principles of international law, settling disputes by peaceful means, establishing international peace and security, and adopting the best multilateral diplomatic frameworks in order to achieve optimal cooperation and effective common development,” he said.

Prince Faisal expressed the Kingdom's pride in being the largest trading partner of the BRICS group in the Middle East, as the total bilateral trade with the BRICS countries exceeded $160 billion in 2022, which reflects the strong relations with the group.

The minister affirmed Saudi Arabia’s continuation of being a safe and reliable source of energy supplies from all its sources. “Saudi Arabia has effective tools and a responsible role in achieving stability of energy markets.”

Prince Faisal said that BRICS is an important channel for enhancing economic cooperation. “The Kingdom focuses in its foreign policy on building economic partnerships,” he added.

The 10th BRICS summit, which began on Tuesday, concluded on Thursday. The theme of the 15th annual BRICS summit was “BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution.”

President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa, Chinese President, Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Brazilian President Lula Da Silva attended the summit. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov represented President Vladimir Putin. About 50 other leaders also participated in the summit.


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Qatar figures as second highest category in recovery on Islamic finance: Fitch

AUGUST 24, 2023


Qatar is one of the two countries among the core Islamic finance markets in the second-highest category, Group B, where the recoveries range from superior to poor, according to Fitch, a global credit rating agency.

Fitch covers 14 out of the 57 member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (QIC) in its updated country-specific treatment of recovery ratings criteria. Countries are split into four groups (A to D), with differing caps on instrument ratings and recovery ratings based on country-specific factors.

More than half of the OIC countries are in Group D – the lowest level of recovery, while none are in Group A.

"The UAE and Qatar are the only countries among the core Islamic finance markets in the second-highest category, Group B, where the recoveries range from superior to poor," it said.

Finding that sukuk restructuring scenarios continue to develop slowly and unevenly across various jurisdictions, it said so far distressed sukuk have been limited in most jurisdictions where sukuk issuance is prevalent; only 0.21% of all sukuk issued globally have defaulted as of end of first half of 2023.

Furthermore, a number of distressed issuers and investors have preferred out-of-court consensual restructurings. Hence, there is a lack of restructuring and legal precedents relating to effective enforcement, despite the growth of the global sukuk market over the past decade.

Sukuk issued on international capital markets are typically governed by English law, but a lack of legal precedents means it is often uncertain whether sukuk holders can enforce their contractual rights in local courts where the originator is domiciled, should this be necessary.

This uncertainty also applies to conventional bonds issued in the same countries.

Efforts to improve standardisation and comparability across different sukuk structures and legal frameworks have continued, including the creation of the Higher Shariah Authority in the UAE.

Still, the enforceability of investor rights, recourse, debt ranking and recoveries upon issuer default could be complicated by the differences in underlying Islamic contractual arrangements.

Most sukuk have created an economic effect similar to that of conventional bonds, but they can resemble equity-like investments. The issuance of hybrid sukuk, with equity- and debt-like components, is also growing.


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Saudi authorities seize drug cache across the Kingdom

August 25, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi authorities in Jazan and Narjan have seized in separate operations a huge cache of khat, hashish, amphetamines and methamphetamines.

Border guards in Jazan arrested two Yemeni nationals for promoting 40 kilograms of khat and later foiled an attempt to smuggle 52 kilograms of khat into the Kingdom.

Najran police arrested two citizens for attempting to sell hashish, amphetamines and methamphetamines. Police also seized edged weapons found in their possessions.

Amphetamines are largely used by young men and teenaged boys across the Middle East, and the money raised through the sale of all narcotics are usually ploughed back into the drug trade while some find their way into organized crime and terrorism.

The Saudi government has urged anyone with information related to suspected smuggling operations or customs violations to call the confidential hotline 1910, the international number 00 966 114208417, or email

Tips received by the authority related to smuggling crimes and breaches of common customs law are treated with strict confidentiality. Financial rewards are offered for valid tips.


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Saudi civil defense calls for caution as rain due across Kingdom from Friday

August 24, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Civil Defense called for caution after rain was forecast in most regions in the Kingdom from Friday until Tuesday.

The authority said people should stay away from bodies of water, swamps, and valleys, and follow instructions announced through the directorate’s various media and social networking sites.

The regions of Makkah, Asir, Al-Baha, and Jazan are expected to experience moderate to heavy rain that may lead to torrential rains, hail, and dust storms.

The authority added that light to moderate rain and downburst, causing dust storms, is expected in the following areas of the Makkah region: Makkah, Bahrah, Al-Jumum, Al-Qunfudhah, Al-Lith, Al-Khurma, Ranyah, and Turbah.

The regions of Madinah and Najran are also expected to be affected by light rain and downburst causing dust storms.


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Coventry PhD student plotted to use 3D printer to make drone that could drop chemical weapons for Islamic State, court told

25 AUG 2023By

Paul Suart

A Coventry student plotted to supply Islamic State terrorists with a drone capable of delivering a bomb or chemical weapon, a terror trial jury has heard. Prosecutors allege Mohamad Al-Bared was designing and building the unmanned aerial device, found in a bedroom at his home, when he was arrested in January this year.

The 26-year-old, of Kare Road, Wyken, went on trial before a jury at Birmingham Crown Court on Wednesday, August 23. The mechanical engineering graduate denies engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts to benefit a proscribed terrorist organisation.

Opening the Crown’s case, prosecutor Michelle Heeley KC told the court: "His home was searched and police found a drone. They also found material suggesting this defendant supported Islamic State, a terrorist organisation."

READ MORE: Ex-hairdresser 'living luxury lifestyle' is linked to Crooked House pub

The court heard Al-Bared, who lived with his parents, was arrested while driving at the same time as the raid took place, and had a mobile phone which police also seized. A 3D printer, which could be used to make parts for the drone, was also found at the home of Al-Bared, who was studying for a PhD at the University of Birmingham, the court heard.

Ms Heeley alleged that evidence gathered from devices said to belong to Al-Bared showed he was a supporter of Islamic State and that “this drone was being built” to help the organisation. The prosecution said it was of a type which has landing gear and a small digital camera after the drone was shown to the jury in a large see-through plastic bag.

"It had all the components required for it to fly," Ms Heeley added. "We suggest it was being manufactured to deliver a bomb … to fly into IS enemy territory and deliver a chemical weapon or some other kind of device."

During the opening day of the trial, Ms Heeley also alleged that Al-Bared had filled in an Islamic State application form and set up a UK-registered company to help plans for future foreign travel. Ms Heeley continued: "He says he is not responsible for filling in the application form, but we say how else has it got there?"

Written material saying the idea for the drone was 'somewhat inspired by the design of the Tomahawk missile' was put before the jury, in what the Crown claims was Al-Bared describing his build process. Of the evidence found on an electronic device, which also included reference to fuses, mechanical detonators and an explosive head, Ms Heeley added: "He is literally reporting back to someone about what it is that he is doing.

"What drone for legitimate use needs an explosive head? What does need an explosive head is a drone that has been designed on a missile."

"That’s the real reason this drone is being built. That one sentence tells you what this case is about and why we say the defendant is guilty.

"The only reasonable conclusion you can reach is you can be sure that he was preparing for acts of terrorism." Al-Bared, whose PhD work involved laser-based micro-drilling, denies a single charge covering the period between January 1, 2022 and January 31 this year.


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Vile display of Nazi symbols at Belfast mosque designed to intimidate

24 August, 2023

It would be almost impossible to comprehend the mentality of those responsible for erecting flags bearing Nazi symbols outside a mosque in west Belfast this week.

There was nothing spontaneous about this appalling act which was carried out with the intention only to provoke fear and intimidation.

It required a significant degree of planning both to source the vile flags and to place them on lampposts at a carefully chosen target in the dead of night.

Police are rightly treating the erection of the flags, which bore the swastika and symbol of the SS, as a racially-motivated hate crime.

It can only be imagined how those using the Iqraa mosque in Dunmurry felt when confronted with the hate-filled display on Wednesday morning.

They were first noticed by parents bringing children to a summer school at the community complex, who will be understandably concerned about who has been monitoring their activities and what possible threat is posed to their families.

The imam and chairperson of the mosque, Jamal Iweida, expressed disgust at the flags as well as alarm about the safety of the children visiting the site.

One member of the community also recalled the appalling attack by a white supremacist on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand which killed 51 people in a shooting rampage in 2019.

Politicians have been quick to condemn the flags and express solidarity to all who worship at the mosque.

Mr Iweida has also generously acknowledged the support shown by neighbours and those from further afield, while anti-racism activists will hold a rally in Dunmurry tomorrow which will firmly demonstrate that those responsible do not speak for people in the area.

It is vital now that police are given every support to ensure those responsible for this despicable act are apprehended and a strong signal sent out by the criminal justice system that such actions will not be tolerated.

And while erecting a Nazi flag is perhaps the most egregious example of such a hate crime, the same principles should apply to those who erect symbols or express racist or sectarian slogans at any places of worship.

It is a sad reality that flags are routinely used to intimidate, cause offence or mark out territory. The flags in Dunmurry were thankfully quickly taken down, but it should not prove any more difficult to remove similar displays in other settings.


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Anti-racism rally organised following erection of Nazi flags outside mosque

John Breslin

24 August, 2023

Anti-racism activists have organised a rally after Nazi flags were erected outside a Mosque in south Belfast.

The flags, bearing the Swastika and a SS insignia, were placed on lamp posts outside the Iqraa Mosque in Dunmurry.

While soon removed by mosque leaders, the flying of the flags provoked outrage in the community and among politicians.

United Against Racism, a Belfast-based organisation, is organising the rally in Dunmurry at 2pm on Saturday.

“Those who erected Nazi flags at Iqraa Mosque in Dunmurry do not speak for the people of this area,” a spokesperson said.

“Attempts to intimidate our Muslim brothers and sisters will not go unchallenged.”

The group is calling on “all progressive sections of society to mobilise against the racists on the far right. We need to stamp out Islamophobia and all forms of racism and hate.”

Amnesty International and migrant groups along with the mosque’s leaders are supporting the rally.

“The fascists behind this recent incident are trying to gain a foothold locally to spread their lies and hate. It is critical that we all mobilise against them,” the group said.

The flags were spotted early on Wednesday after being erected overnight with the police informed and the flags removed.

Mosque chairman and iman Jamal Iweida said members were working outside in recent days “and that might have brought some attention to us”.

Mosque leader and imam Jamal Iweida

He said: “But of course we don’t feel very good about that… a bit intimidated”.

Mr Iweida said there are often children around the mosque, with some seeing the flags before they were taken down.

He added: “The local community is very supportive. Very, very nice.

"People were disgusted here and they showed great support to us and the neighbours actually also in the morning saw it and came out in support.”

People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll said: “This despicable and racially motivated action is clearly designed to intimidate members of a minority community.

“Fascism has no place in our community. I send full solidarity to the members of Iqraa Mosque and to all affected by this horrendous and racist act.”

SDLP west Belfast councillor Paul Doherty added: “It is truly staggering to see flags of this nature erected in west Belfast.

"This is an area that strongly rejects fascism and I cannot understand why anyone would target a place of worship in this way."

A PSNI spokesperson said: “Our enquiries are at an early stage, however at this time, we are treating this report as a racially motivated hate crime".


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Frontline report: Ukrainian special forces attack Russian radio-radar base in Crimea


On 24 August, more information became available about the crush of the private jet that reportedly killed the Head of the Wagner Group, Evgeniy Prigozhin, his right hand, Dmytro Utkin, and the Head of Security, Valery Chekalov.

As of 24 August, the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency confirmed that Prigozhin was present on the board, according to the records. The investigators of the crush also have just found the remnants of Prigozhin’s mobile phone.

In the meantime, Russian President Vladimir Putin commented on the crush. Putin expressed his condolences to the families of those who died in the crash and added that although Prigozhin had a troubled fate, he was a very useful person who helped to achieve many goals.

Russian media has also started promoting a new version of the cause of the crash. Although the locals heard two explosions and saw contrails, characteristic of air defense work, it was claimed that the crash likely happened due to the explosion inside the plane, possibly sabotage.

It was reported that the plane recently underwent some out-of-schedule reparations when someone could have planted an explosive device.

But the biggest news as of 24 August is that Ukrainian forces landed on the Crimean shore.

On 24 August, around 5 a.m., Ukrainians reportedly used up to 4 boats carrying GUR special forces and performed a special operation in Cape Tarkhankut. This is exactly where the same forces destroyed a Russian air defense system on 23 August, reportedly by launching an anti-ship missile from a boat.

The target of the special forces became the base of the Russian radio-radar troops, where Russian forces have powerful multi-functional radar systems, such as Nebo-M, and modern radar systems for low-level surveillance, such as Kasta 2E.

Russian sources reported that Ukrainians managed to land on the shore and opened fire at the Russian forces.

Russian sources admitted that Ukrainians raised their flag above the settlement, as seen from the combat footage. However, they claimed Russian forces were ready to meet the attackers, quickly returned fire from machine guns, and destroyed all four boats and crew members. Later released footage confirms that Ukrainian boat crews safely withdrew.

Even Russian military bloggers reacted to this with harsh skepticism and said that this was a lame attempt to cover up Crimea’s complete lack of protection.

Moreover, some less prominent Russian sources released footage from the base, clearly showing that Russians were not prepared to be ambushed at night.

The Spokesman for Ukrainian Intelligence confirmed that Ukrainian special forces landed on the Crimean shore, attacked Russian forces, damaged 4 Russian boats, killed 30 Russian troops, raised the Ukrainian flag, and withdrew before Russians understood what was happening.

The landing on Crimea is especially symbolic because Ukrainians are celebrating the Independence Day of Ukraine on 24 August.

In the meantime, Ukrainian forces conducted more than a dozen successful strikes on the Russian bases. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that the Ukrainian Air Force and Artillery jointly struck four command posts, ten areas of enemy forces concentrations, four air defense systems, and two artillery systems.

The biggest strike happened in Tokmak. It was reported that here, due to the HIMARS strike, Ukrainians destroyed an important Russian command post on the territory of a Russian base.

This is extremely important given that Tokmak is the closest Russian stronghold to the front, where Ukrainians recently breached Russian defense and established total control over Robotyne.

Today, Ukrainian fighters reported that Ukrainians are already advancing on the next settlement on the line – Novoprokopivka – while Russian forces are retreating.

The derangement of the command on this front line will exacerbate the situation even more and possibly allow Ukrainians to generate new gains much more easily.


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Southeast Asia


Ilham Centre: Malay voters rejected Umno in state polls due to disdain towards Zahid

25 Aug 2023

By R. Loheswar

lKUALA LUMPUR, Aug 25 — The majority of Malay voters rejected Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) during the recently concluded state elections because they were either jaded with its president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi or were unable to move on from the old dogma of hatred.

Pollster Ilham Centre revealed today that apart from the two reasons above they also found a large disconnect between the upper management and lower management in Umno which they said made Umno members openly support Perikatan Nasional (PN) during the state elections.

“His image was a telling point in what we found during our survey, even Umno people put him as the main issue for them not being able to win over voters. When we asked them can Umno-BN rise again after this general elections, most said no,” Ilham Centre’s executive director Muhammad Hisommudin Bakar said.

“Then there’s that old dogma of hating DAP and Anwar which we found many were unable to move away from. They couldn’t bear to hold an opposition flag and campaign as they feared being teased by fellow Muslims supporting PN.

“Then you have the supporters at the divisional levels like in Terengganu and Kelantan who are contentious. You don’t put their candidate in, they’ll protest,” he added.

Hisammudin said he also found that BN lost out many supporters when they aligned with PAS in the Muafakat Nasional (MN) coalition. He said the MN coalition was a magnet for Malays and it showed in how well and fast both parties gelled.

“Now we see BN’s machinery so shy or apprehensive when talking about their coalition partners. We noticed many didn’t work as hard or go all out wholeheartedly during this state elections and it’s down to this internal turmoil in Umno where some don’t want to be in the unity government while others want a clearer direction and vision from the leadership,” he added.

The MN charter was signed between Umno and PAS in September 2019, following the defeat of Barisan Nasional at the 14th General Election the year before.

MN was formed to contest against Bersatu who were the other predominantly Malay party that was formerly with the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, before the Sheraton Move which resulted in them defecting from PH to form and lead the PN coalition.

At the state elections, Umno was the only BN party to contest in this year’s state elections and won only 19 seats out of a total of 108 it contested across the six states.

Apart from that Hisammudin also said Umno had lost its stronghold on Felda settlers and teachers. He said the once vote bank had now been infiltrated by the opposition and if nothing’s done they stand to lose out.


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Science minister says Malaysia installed seawater radiation levels monitors, plans to install more

By Opalyn Mok

25 Aug 2023

GEORGE TOWN, Aug 25 — Malaysia has installed a gamma spectrum water monitoring system in the waters off Sabah after Japan released treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Chang Lih Kang said Malaysia is the third country to have such a system after Singapore and Vietnam.

“We have installed one in our waters to monitor our seawaters 24/7. So far, it didn’t detect anything abnormal,” he said after launching a STEM showcase at Han Chiang High School here.

He was responding to questions on the release of treated radioactive water by Japan.

He said the water monitoring system would be able to detect any abnormal levels of radioactivity in the seawater.

“If it detected any abnormal radioactive level, we will know,” he said.

Chang said the ministry has plans to install four more of the water monitoring systems in Malaysian waters.

“We have not identified the locations yet, it is in the plans,” he said.

He said the Atomic Energy Licensing Board is constantly monitoring the situation.

“Data showed that the water released so far is still under the safe specifications,” he said.

Japan has started releasing treated radioactive water from Fukushima despite heavy criticisms and threats of import bans from China, South Korea and Hong Kong.

The Fukushima nuclear power plant was shut down after it was severely damaged due to a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, 2011.

The Japanese authorities have said the water is safe and in line with standards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency.


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Muhyiddin’s son-in-law, lawyer on Interpol’s Red Notice

 25 Aug 2023

PETALING JAYA – Muhammad Adlan Berhan has yet to return to Malaysia to assist the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), leading to his name now being placed on Interpol’s Red Notice list.

Together with lawyer Mansoor Saat, both their names are on the list, according to the nation’s top cop.

Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Razarudin Husain confirmed the matter to the Malay daily Utusan Malaysia today.

It was previously reported that Adlan, who is married to former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s daughter Nabilah, had left the country amidst an ongoing investigation on the registration, recruitment and storage of foreign worker biometric data at a ministry.

They were sought to assist the MACC in its investigation had left the country in May.

Subsequently, through his lawyer, Adlan denied he was running from the law. Mansoor meanwhile claimed he was a victim of political persecution.

Mansoor is a key figure in NERS SdnBhd, a company that was awarded a 12-year contract back in 2011 to record and monitor the entry of foreign workers and to issue temporary employment visit passes. – The Vibes, August 25, 2023


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Nabawan assemblyman comes under fire for land deal in own name

 25 Aug 2023

Jason Santos

KOTA KINABALU – A PKR division leader has filed a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) against a Sabah assemblyman who had applied for a 320-acre plot of land south of the state capital here for a business venture. 

The complaint alleges that Nabawan assemblyman Abdul Ghani Mohamed Yassin had applied for the land in his own name, ostensibly to initiate a joint venture with the government-linked Sabah Land Development Board (SLDB).

The report was filed by Pensiangan PKR chief Raymond Ahuar at the Keningau MACC office.

Ahuar asserts that Abdul Ghani exploited his position as the SLDB Chairman to expedite approval for the land application.

“Abdul Ghani claimed to have submitted the land application on behalf of the Nabawan community to prevent external companies from acquiring the land and, purportedly, to fast-track the process for a joint venture with SLDB,” said Ahuar in his report.

The land, about 170km from here, was previously designated as a Class II Forest Reserve, known as the Pensiangan Forest Reserve.

Its reserve status has been revoked but has not yet been officially designated as state-owned land.

At an assembly sitting held in May, Abdul Ghani clarified numerous parties, including large companies from outside Nabawan, have expressed interest in the land.

“The local residents are adamant about preventing this land from falling into the hands of outsiders or external companies,” Abdul Ghani said.

“As a result, they are in the process of applying for the land themselves with the goal of establishing a cooperative for a livestock project in collaboration with SLDB.”

“The cooperative is still in the application phase, and community leaders are concerned about their ability to compete with individuals and companies that possess greater resources and capabilities.

“They approached me and asked whether it would be possible for the application to be temporarily made in my name, with the understanding that ownership would later be transferred to them,” he said. – The Vibes, August 24, 2023


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