New Age Islam
Sun Oct 25 2020, 01:09 PM

Islamic World News ( 8 Nov 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

U.S. Official Says New Isis Leader Is 'Not Going To Enjoy His Promotion'







• On Prophet's Birthday, Minister Tells Muslims to Look For Common Ground towards An Exemplary Malaysia

Captured Al-Baghdadi Wife Revealed Lots of Information about ISIS, Source Says

Ayodhya Verdict: Supreme Court Dismisses Shia Waqf Board's Appeal, Says Land Belongs To Govt

Migrants from Pakistan Prefer Jails Abroad To Returning Home, Moot Told

Turkey Keeps Capturing Former Isis Leader's Family, but They Have Complicated History In Syria

 

North America

U.S. Official Says New Isis Leader Is 'Not Going To Enjoy His Promotion'

U.S. Offers Up to $4 Million for Location of Freed Guantánamo Convict

US announces reward up to $10 million for two senior Al Qaeda leaders

Saint-Michel’s Muslim community honours veterans

US 'strongly condemns' Syrian regime’s Idlib airstrikes

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Southeast Asia

On Prophet's Birthday, Minister Tells Muslims To Look For Common Ground Towards An Exemplary Malaysia

China says killing of Islamic State leader is progress, much work remains

Thai police accuse Muslim insurgents of attack in southern Thailand

Continue effort to boost understanding of Islam — Dr Mahathir

Housewife charged with six counts of insulting Islam

Saudi teachers, Malaysians can learn from one another

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Arab World

Captured Al-Baghdadi Wife Revealed Lots of Information about ISIS, Source Says

ThePlace: Saudi Arabia’s AlUla contains Mada’in Saleh, the Kingdom’s first UNESCO site

Egyptians in continuous struggle against terrorism: Sisi

Ten killed in Iraq’s Basra during protests outside govt headquarters

UN finds: Morsi's death ‘state-sanctioned arbitrary killing’

UN report finds Jordan, Turkey and UAE violated Libya arms embargo

Iraqi security forces must keep peace amid protests, top Shia cleric says

UN envoy: Syria’s talks have ‘gone much better’, new round to be held on Nov. 25

Hezbollah will have proactive role in future Lebanese government: Official

Iraq forces retake key bridges from protesters

Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Russian officials discuss broadening ties

Lebanon facing ‘major health disaster’ as economic, political crisis deepens

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India

Ayodhya Verdict: Supreme Court Dismisses Shia Waqf Board's Appeal, Says Land Belongs To Govt

Malaysia to Write To India on Extradition Of Controversial Preacher Zakir Naik

Ayodhya case: Underlying structure was not an Islamic structure, says SC

Babri Mosque: ‘All evidence was with us,’ says Muslim lawyer

J&K Yet to Decide on Allowing Congregation at Hazratbal on Prophet’s Birth Anniversary

Satyendra Das, AIMPLB’s Khalid Rasheed urge people to respect SC

Karnataka CM appeals for peace on Ayodhya verdict

Ayodhya verdict: Hindu party lawyers appeal for peace, harmony

Ayodhya verdict: Meet judges of the bench

PM appeals for peace and harmony before Ayodhya verdict

Hundreds arrested on eve of verdict on holy site in India’s Ayodhya

India’s Modi thanks Pakistan PM for ‘cooperation’ on visa-free Sikh corridor

Hundreds of Indian Sikhs begin historic crossing into Pakistan

Through Kartarpur, Pakistan aims to rebuild economy, image

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Pakistan

Migrants from Pakistan Prefer Jails Abroad To Returning Home, Moot Told

Kartarpur Corridor inauguration testimony of Pakistan’s commitment to regional peace: PM

Pakistan may remain on FATF Grey List beyond Feb 2020: Report

Chaos will ensue if demands not met: firebrand cleric Rehman threatens Pak govt

SHC grants bail to PML-N Senator Kamran Michael in NAB case

In a historic first, Pakistan and India officially open Kartarpur Corridor today

Harassment of Pakistani diplomats continues in Afghanistan

KP govt says Edwardes College to retain Christian identity

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Mideast

Turkey Keeps Capturing Former Isis Leader's Family, but They Have Complicated History In Syria

Iraqi Tribal Leaders in Karbala Meet Iranian Diplomat for Apology

Erdogan says Turkey will not leave Syria until other countries pull out

Growing calls in Iran to abandon nuclear treaty, ambassador warns

Israel’s Netanyahu appoints far-right Bennett as defense minister

Turkey says it will begin sending captured ISIS militants to home countries

Twitter accounts push propaganda photos of Turkish soldiers

Iran says case open on ex-FBI agent missing there on CIA job

FM Zarif says door still open to talks despite nuclear commitment cuts

Israel attacks Palestinian protesters; 69 injured

In video: Locals pelt Turkish forces with stones, shoes in Syria’s Hasakah

Israeli farmers to quit Jordanian lands as 25-year lease expires

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Europe

Detained Islamic State Members Turn to Europe’s Courts to Come Home

East Germany gripped by surging xenophobia, Islamopobia

Morocco Worried About Return of ISIS Militants

Kosovo Charges Man Returned From Syria With Fighting for IS

EU sees 'short window' to decide IS repatriations from Syria

ISIS claims deadly attack on Tajik border post

French Muslims experience racism 2-3 times national average

Russia urges UK to clarify whether founder of White Helmets had links to al-Qaeda

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South Asia

Airstrikes Kill 33 Taliban, ISIS Militants in 3 Provinces

Special Forces Kill 11 Taliban Militants; Destroy Caches Of Weapons In 3 Provinces

Remote-controlled bomb defused in Kabul city

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Africa

U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Leader of Mali Islamist Militant Group

10 Nigerian troops killed in militant ambush

Sudan needs up to $5 billion in budget support to prevent collapse

Burkina Faso’s leader calls for unity against terrorism

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/us-official-says-new-isis-leader-is--not-going-to-enjoy-his-promotion-/d/120224

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U.S. Official Says New Isis Leader Is 'Not Going To Enjoy His Promotion'

By Tom O'connor

11/7/19

Asenior official within President Donald Trump's administration has issued a new threat against the individual who succeeded Islamic State militant group (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi following his death in Syria during a U.S. Special Operations raid.

ISIS announced last week that newly-vacated leadership positions had been filled after Baghdadi detonated his suicide vest in the face of assaulting Delta Team personnel in an Idlib operation first reported by Newsweek and ISIS spokesperson Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir was killed in CIA strikes in Aleppo. In an audio message, new spokesperson Abu Hamza al-Qurashi declared that Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi—both names also sometimes spelled Qurayshi—would take over, but the Trump administration has warned he would meet the same fate.

"He is probably not going to enjoy his promotion," a senior State Department official told reporters Thursday.

"We intend to subject him and any other ISIS leader to unrelenting pressure, using all the tools at our disposal," he added. "That was true of previous ISIS leadership; that's going to be true of future ISIS leadership."

Little is known about the new ISIS chief. His likely assumed name suggests that he, like Baghdadi, claimed lineage to the Qurayshi tribe and direct lineage to the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, a sign of legitimacy for a post that once commanded a self-styled caliphate spanning large parts of Iraq and Syria, along with outposts abroad in countries like Afghanistan, Libya and the Philippines.

With the group now physically decimated due to the efforts of local forces and international powers such as the United States, Russia and Iran, however, the militants have so far opted to double down on the obscurity of their leader. Speaking to Newsweek prior to ISIS' announcement, one regional intelligence suggested that the new head would be Abdullah Qardash, another Qurayshi member believed to hail from Iraq.

Qardash is also known as Hajji Abdullah al-Afari and has been linked to Amir Muhammad Sa'id Abdal Rahman al-Mawla, who is also known as Hajji Abdullah and currently has a $5 million price on his head with the State Department's Rewards for Justice Program. Another senior State Department official told reporters Thursday that the program was working.

"We think it's a tool that has been brought out and saw new life in it," the second official said. "This administration has given it a chance to grow in a sense of more money, more people to talk about it. I think it's a great tool that has atrophied for a while and now it's picking up, and very well so."

The official declined to discuss the new self-proclaimed caliph's identity, though President Donald Trump tweeted that he and his officials "know exactly who he is!"

Whoever it is that has succeeded Baghdadi as the leader of ISIS, he has also taken on the role of one of the world's most-wanted men. The State Department offered a price of $25 million for information leading regarding Baghdadi's whereabouts, a figure matched only by that offered for Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who took over after Osama bin Laden's death at the hands of the Navy's SEAL Team Six in May 2011.

Baghdadi began his jihadi rise in Iraq, where he was detained by U.S. forces following the 2003 invasion that toppled Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and led to widespread unrest. Once released, Baghdadi became a rising star in Al-Qaeda in Iraq, which then merged into the Islamic State of Iraq.

Under Baghdadi's lead, the group took advantage of a 2011 uprising to expand into neighboring Syria, where the U.S. and regional allies backed rebels and jihadis seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Rebranding first as ISIS and then simply the Islamic State, Baghdadi made just one public appearance during his infamous speech at the Grand al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul and did not appear again until an April 2019 video at an undisclosed location amid constant rumors of his death.

With Baghdadi's demise, experts have speculated as to the lingering strength of the embattled group, but the Pentagon has warned the group may retaliate at any point and the first senior State Department official said Thursday that the administration has observed a "longer-term trend line towards a more diffused, dispersed ISIS threat."

"We've decimated the core in Syria and Iraq and we're also turning our attention to the branches and networks and affiliates around the world," the official said. "ISIS is an increasing threat in places like Afghanistan, in places like West Africa, Southeast Asia. There's an active presence there as well."

https://www.newsweek.com/us-new-isis-leader-promotion-1470515

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On Prophet's Birthday, Minister Tells Muslims to Look For Common Ground towards An Exemplary Malaysia

Saturday, 09 Nov 2019

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 9 — The Muslim ummah (community) should look for a common ground for Malaysia to become an exemplary Islamic country that promotes a sense of oneness and unity among its people, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof.

He said the ummah should think and act towards achieving one goal which is towards doing good in achieving progress and balanced development, in accordance with the aspirations of ‘Baldatun Tayyibatun wa Rabbun Ghafur’ (A Good Land and An Oft-Giving Lord).

“Hopefully by embracing the concept of Rahmatan Lil Alamin by every Muslim, Malaysia can become the leading model for other Muslim countries and bring glory among Muslim and non-Muslim countries,” he said while addressing the national-level Maulidur Rasul 1441H/2019 celebration at the Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil, here today.

The celebration themed ‘Negara Rahmah Ummah Sejahtera’ was officiated by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustaffa Billah Shah.

Also present were the Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

Mujahid said as a multicultural nation, Malaysia should work within the framework of the ‘Rahmatan lil Alamin’ (Mercy to all creations) concept and be reminded that the message of the Prophet (SAW) was for us to be merciful and compassionate to all humankind.

“The principles of the Maqasid Syariah that emphasise the protection of the religion, soul, intellect, offspring and property must be practised and applied in our way of thinking to preserve and maintain the prosperity of our country,” he said.

He said Madinah should be used as the model state where moral and civic right virtues are manifested in habitual action and where Islamic justice and governance had established a state that is strong, peaceful,harmonious and united despite its diverse races and religions.

Some 8,000 participants from 100 contingents comprising government and private agencies, statutory bodies, uniformed bodies and students attended the parade celebration which started at 7.45am. — Bernama

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/11/09/on-prophets-birthday-minister-tells-muslims-to-look-for-common-ground-towar/1808434

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Captured Al-Baghdadi Wife Revealed Lots of Information about ISIS, Source Says

NOVEMBER 7, 2019

One of slain Islamic State of Iraq and Iran (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's wives revealed "a lot of information" about the jihadist group's "inner workings" after she was captured last year, a Turkish official told Agence France-Presse.

The official said Baghdadi's spouse identified herself as Rania Mahmoud but was in fact Asma Fawzi Muhammad Al-Qubaysi.

She was said to be the "first wife" of the ISIS leader, who was killed in a U.S. special forces raid in Syria last month. Al-Bagdadi was known to have four wives, according to The Associated Press.

AFP said the woman was arrested on June 2, 2018, in the Turkish province of Hatay, near the Syrian border, along with 10 others, including Baghdadi's daughter, who identified herself as Leila Jabeer.

The official said the family links were confirmed using a DNA sample of Baghdadi provided by Iraqi authorities. "We discovered (the wife's) real identity pretty quickly. At that point, she volunteered a lot of information about Baghdadi and the inner workings of ISIS," the official said.

"We were able to confirm a lot of things that we already knew. We also obtained new information that led to a series of arrests elsewhere."

The detainees are being held at a deportation center in Turkey, a senior Turkish official told CBS News, adding, "There may or may not be other high-value targets in Turkish custody. I am not at liberty to discuss ongoing investigations and intelligence operations."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed for the first time on Wednesday that Al-Qubaysi had been detained. "We caught his wife — I say this today for the first time — but we didn't make a big fuss about it," Erdogan told a gathering of students in Ankara.

He confirmed that Turkey had also captured Baghdadi's sister and brother-in-law. Erdogan took a swipe at the United States for making a big deal of Baghdadi's killing, saying, "They started a very big communication operation."

The ISIS leader was killed in a U.S. special forces raid carried out with the help of Kurdish fighters in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, just across the border from Turkey.

According to the U.S. account, Baghdadi ran into a dead-end tunnel in his hideout and detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and two children.

The raid came in the wake of a Turkish military offensive against the Kurdish militants, who have been a close ally of the West in the fight against ISIS but are viewed as terrorists by Ankara.

Erdogan told reporters Thursday that members of al-Baghdadi's "inner circle" have been attempting to get into Turkey from Syria, and that the number of al-Baghdadi relatives who've been caught by Turkey "is close to reaching double digits," the AP said.

It was the second straight day in which Erdogan sought to publicize Turkey's efforts to capture ISIS members who were close to al-Baghdadi, the AP noted. Turkey has been criticized over its recent military incursion into Syria to drive out Syrian Kurdish fighters from northeast Syria due, among other things, to concerns it would enable an ISIS resurgence, the AP pointed out.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/al-baghdadi-raid-wife-revealed-lots-of-information-about-isis-source-says-2019-11-07/

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Ayodhya Verdict: Supreme Court Dismisses Shia Waqf Board's Appeal, Says Land Belongs To Govt

November 9, 2019

The Supreme Court on Saturday dismissed the appeal of the Shia Waqf Board in the politically sensitive Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case in Ayodhya and held that the land belongs to the government as per revenue records.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi gave a unanimous verdict dismissing the Shia Waqf Board's appeal in the case over the disputed structure. Follow Ayodhya verdict LIVE updates here

On September 16, the bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, reserved its decision after a 40-day high voltage hearing in the dispute involving 2.77 acres of land.

Fourteen appeals were filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits. It said the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties -- the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla. For full coverage of Ayodhya case, click here

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/ayodhya-verdict-ram-janambhoomi-nyas-gets-disputed-land-1617290-2019-11-09

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Migrants from Pakistan Prefer Jails Abroad To Returning Home, Moot Told

Jamal Shahid

November 09, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Most illegal Pakistani immigrants prefer to stay jailed and do menial jobs in the hope to attain legal status abroad instead of opting to return home, the foreign affairs ministry informed a parliamentary committee on Friday.

“They are mostly asylum seekers, who have torn up their passports and despite facing extreme hardship in jails, refuse voluntary repatriation or any assistance from Pakistani missions,” claimed Syed Zahid Raza from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Develop­ment.

The official was particularly talking about the estimated 4,000 Pakistanis jailed in Jungle Migrants Camp at Vucjak, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The camp is some 400 kilometres away from the Pakistani mission.

The committee had met to discuss human trafficking, which its members believed was rising, causing embarrassment to the country. Members had reason to believe that travel agencies were involved in human trafficking and directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to take legal action. Some 400 human trafficking cases had been sent by the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis to the FIA for investigation, the committee was told.

Mr Raza told the committee that the Bosnian government was not well funded and did not have the resources to look after the inmates. The exact number of Pakistani immigrants there was still not confirmed.

“Most of them are waiting for any opportunity to make it into mainland Europe. Only few of them are availing the voluntary return option,” he said.

Similarly, members were informed that an estimated 50,000 Pakistani immigrants were awaiting repatriation from Turkey. Some 20,000 may already have returned, said FIA director Syed Farid Ali.

The FIA’s figures of Pakistani immigrants awaiting repatriation from Turkey differed from the numbers given by foreign ministry. The FIA said there were some 30,000 Pakistanis stranded in Turkey.

Chairman of the committee Hilalur Rehman argued that the members had been receiving complaints about Pakistanis being stranded abroad and in need of assistance.

“Many licensed travel agencies are involved in human trafficking, selling individuals to gangs abroad who force immigrants to do jobs on meagre salaries,” he said.

He directed the ministry to offer help to Pakistanis, especially those jailed in Bosnia. “They are Pakistanis and it is the duty of government departments concerned to look after them and bring them home safely,” Mr Rehman said.

The committee directed the FIA to lodge FIRs against travel agents involved in human trafficking.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1515748/migrants-from-pakistan-prefer-jails-abroad-to-returning-home-moot-told

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Turkey Keeps Capturing Former Isis Leader's Family, But They Have Complicated History In Syria

By Tom O'connor

11/7/19

Turkey has announced the capture of at least four family members of former Islamic State militant group (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in as many days this week, claiming a resounding victory against a group it's been accused of empowering in the first place.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan first announced Wednesday that his security forces "have captured his wife, sister and brother-in-law" of Baghdadi. The following day, the Turkish president revealed during another speech that a "DNA test has confirmed" that another captured individual was a child of the dead militant leader.

Erdogan revealed little about when or how these operations occurred, but Reuters first reported Monday that Baghdadi's older sister, Rasmiya Awad, was caught in the northern Syrian town of Azaz in Aleppo province, citing a senior Turkish official. The news was confirmed that same day by communications director Fahrettin Altun, who called it "yet another example of the success of our counter-terrorism operations" on Twitter.

"Much dark propaganda against Turkey has been circulating to raise doubts about our resolve against Daesh. We have been leading in the fight against terrorism in all its forms," he added, using the Arabic-language acronym for ISIS. "Our strong counter-terrorism cooperation with like-minded partners can never be questioned."

The Associated Press cited another Turkish official Thursday as saying that Baghdadi's wife was identified as Asma Fawzi Muhammad al-Qubaysi and that his daughter identified herself as Leila Jabeer. Both were said to have been detained in southern Turkey nearly a year and a half ago on June 2, 2018.

One senior State Department official said Thursday that President Donald Trump's administration was "tracking the Turkish reports" regarding the capture of Baghdadi's sister, declining whether or not the news had been confirmed by the U.S. side.

"If true, it's another victory in our efforts to take ISIS fighters, leaders, and enablers off the battlefield and ensure that they're held accountable for the crimes they've committed," the official said.

Reports of this capture and others announced by Turkey came the second week after Baghdadi himself was killed late last month in a U.S. Joint Special Operations Command Delta Team raid on a compound in the village of Barisha in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. The operation, which was first reported by Newsweek, took place just several miles from the border with Turkey, which did not receive prior information on the U.S. plans.

Baghdadi died after fleeing into a tunnel and detonating a suicide vest, killing him along with two of his children. Two of his wives also killed during the raid.

Another one of Baghdadi's relatives, brother-in-law Mohammed Ali Sajid, was reportedly detained last year in Iraq and offered information that assisted in the targeting of the ISIS founder, including insights into his methods of communication. Baghdadi himself was notoriously elusive, having made only one public appearance since rising up the ranks of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and transforming it into what became known as ISIS, expanding into neighboring Syria.

As hard-line Sunni Muslim insurgents took advantage of a 2003 U.S. invasion targeting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, they also capitalized on a 2011 uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In the latter conflict, the U.S. and Turkey initially covertly teamed up to support the opposition, but later diverged in 2015 as ISIS made sweeping gains and Russia entered the fight, joining Iran in backing Assad.

That same year, the U.S. teamed up with a mostly Kurdish force known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, whose primary component was the People's Protection Units (YPG), a militia that Turkey links to the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The PKK has for decades waged a deadly insurgency against Turkey, including out of outposts in Iraq and Syria.

With the Syrian government and Syrian Democratic Forces waging their own rival campaigns against ISIS, Turkey continued to back an increasingly Islamist rebellion, even as it was confined to Idlib due to Syrian military and allied advances. The insurgent bastion's dominant faction, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham⁠—led by Baghdadi associate-turned-rival Abu Mohammed al-Julani⁠—has espoused a violent ultraconservative ideology, but set a deeply hostile environment for ISIS.

Still, Baghdadi was found in Idlib, under the nose of adversarial militants and Turkish troops manning observation posts. NATO allies Turkey and the U.S. both view ISIS and the PKK as terrorist organizations, but have long accused one another of helping one group to spite the other.

Last month, as a Turkish-led, anti-YPG operation involving allied Syrian insurgents accompanied a U.S. exit from northern Syria, a senior State Department official described the YPG as "the Syrian offshoot of the PKK." Turkey, which has been the victim of deadly attacks launched by both PKK and ISIS over the years, has denied any collaboration with the latter, but experts have said it likely fostered a friendly environment for the group to thrive across the border, through which countless prospective militants passed.

"Turkey played a significant role in allowing ISIS to rise by keeping the border open and allowing foreign ISIS fighters, thousands of them, to flock into Syria," Elizabeth Tsurkov, the Foreign Policy Research Institute, told Newsweek. "Currently, by attacking the SDF, it's decreasing their ability to combat ISIS."

The Syrian Democratic Forces have repeatedly gone so far as to allege direct ties between Ankara and ISIS, with media adviser Bahtiyar Amut sharing two videos Tuesday on Twitter that sought to prove "a partnership in terrorism between Turkey and ISIS and Turkey's recent attempts to revive terrorism through its campaign in northern Syria."

Back in Turkey, however, this narrative has been roundly rejected. Altun, who confirmed media reports of the capture of Baghdadi's sister Monday, also commented on the news of his wife being detained, tweeting: "Anyone who doubts our determination about going after all terror groups should take another look at Turkish government's record in pursuing terrorists, be it Daesh, PKK or YPG among others."

https://www.newsweek.com/turkey-capture-four-isis-leader-family-1470457

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North America

 

U.S. Offers Up to $4 Million for Location of Freed Guantánamo Convict

By Carol Rosenberg

Nov. 7, 2019

This article was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — The United States government on Thursday offered a $4 million reward for information on the whereabouts of a Sudanese man who was convicted of war crimes at Guantánamo, was repatriated in 2012 and is suspected of recruiting for Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen.

It is believed to be the first case of the United States offering a reward for the whereabouts of a prisoner released from Guantánamo by the Obama administration.

In 2014, the United States similarly offered a reward for a Saudi man who had been held at Guantánamo but never charged and was released by the Bush administration in 2006. He was killed in a drone strike in 2015. The State Department declined on Thursday to say whether any money was paid.

The announcement by the State Department of the new bounty on Thursday offered up to $4 million for information on the location of the Sudanese man, Ibrahim al-Qosi, 59. He pleaded guilty at Guantánamo in 2010 to providing support for terrorism and Al Qaeda in exchange for his repatriation. The reward announcement described Mr. al-Qosi as a member of the leadership team of the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Mr. al-Qosi, an accountant, kept the books for a business owned by the Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in Khartoum in the early 1990s before Sudan expelled Bin Laden. Mr. al-Qosi then followed him to Afghanistan in 1996 where, the prisoner said in his guilty plea, he performed menial tasks at a Qaeda compound, including running its kitchen and sometimes serving as a driver.

Mr. al-Qosi also said he fired a mortar for a militia helping the Taliban fight the Northern Alliance but said he was not involved with and did not know in advance about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He was captured in Pakistan in 2001 and was among the first detainees brought to Guantánamo, as a suspected Bin Laden bodyguard.

Three years after his repatriation, Mr. al-Qosi began appearing in videos and other publications of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and, according to the State Department, “has encouraged lone-wolf attacks against the United States in online propaganda.”

Guantánamo today has 40 prisoners, including nine who have been convicted or face charges in the military commissions. The Bush administration released about 540 of the approximately 780 detainees it brought to Guantánamo starting in January 2002. The Obama administration transferred about 200 more.

A report to Congress by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which was released in June, said that this year the United States intelligence community had identified 67 living and at-large former Guantánamo prisoners who after being sent elsewhere engaged in terrorist or insurgent activities. Seven of them were released by the Obama administration.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/07/us/politics/gitmo-reward.html

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US announces reward up to $10 million for two senior Al Qaeda leaders

November 8, 2019

The department was offering up to $6m for Saad bin Atef Al Awlaki and up to $4m for Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud Al Qosi.

The United States on Thursday offered a reward of up to $10 million for information on two senior leaders of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the State Department said.

Michael Evanoff, the assistant secretary for diplomatic security, told reporters in a briefing that the department was offering up to $6 million for information on Saad bin Atef Al Awlaki and up to $4 million for Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud Al Qosi, who he said have encouraged attacks against the United States.

Rewards for Justice

@Rewards4Justice

BREAKING: Multi-million dollar REWARDS for information that brings two senior leaders of #AQAP to justice. Up to $6 million for al-Awlaki and up to $4 million for al-Qosi. Stop these terrorist extremists and earn a reward. Relocation possible. 💵http://rewardsforjustice.net 💰

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https://www.khaleejtimes.com/region/mena/us-announces-reward-up-to-10-million-for-two-senior-al-qaeda-leaders

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Saint-Michel’s Muslim community honours veterans

November 8, 2019

Saint-Michel’s Muslim community is honouring those who have served Canada with a special ceremony.

This is the ninth year the Muslims for Remembrance campaign has taken place across the country, but Friday’s event in the neighborhood of Saint-Michel was the first one held in Montreal.

The solemn ceremony was organized by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at. It’s being celebrated now because it’s National Aboriginal Veterans Day, a memorial day observed in Canada in recognition of Indigenous contributions to military service.

Those in attendance reflected on the sacrifices made, played the Canadian anthem and read the poem “In Flanders Fields”.

They also observed two minutes of silence for those who lost their lives.

Organizers say it’s important to take the time to do so, as loving their country is an essential part of their Muslim faith

“And to do these ceremonies to show our love to those ones who sacrificed their lives for our country,” said the mosque’s Imam, Nabil Mirza.

Full report at:

https://globalnews.ca/news/6147544/saint-michel-muslim-community-veterans/

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US 'strongly condemns' Syrian regime’s Idlib airstrikes

Michael Hernandez  

09.11.2019

WASHINGTON

The U.S. strongly condemned Russian-supported Syrian regime airstrikes on northwestern Syria's Idlib province that it said Friday have resulted in a dozen deaths in the past 48 hours.

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in addition to those who died 40 people have been injured in the attacks that hit a school, a maternity hospital and a home.

"The Assad regime’s murderous war machine has killed and injured thousands in northwest Syria alone – many of whom are women and children," Ortagus said in a statement. "The latest reported incidents reflect a well-documented pattern of attacks against civilians and infrastructure by Russian and Syrian forces."

The White Helmets, a Syrian civil defense agency, said Friday five civilians were killed in Russian airstrikes on residential areas within the Idlib de-escalation zone.

The attacks were on villages within Idlib province's Kafr Nabl district, which was designated as a part of the de-escalation zone in Turkey’s deal with Russia in late 2018.

They are the latest in a wave of strikes that have taken place in the region.

Since the Russia-Turkey deal was struck last year, more than 1,300 civilians have been killed in attacks by the regime and Russian forces in the de-escalation zone.

Notably, about 1 million people have been forced to leave conflict-prone areas of the city and have started taking shelter in safer areas in the northern part of the city that borders Turkey.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-strongly-condemns-syrian-regime-s-idlib-airstrikes/1639832

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Southeast Asia

 

China says killing of Islamic State leader is progress, much work remains

NOVEMBER 8, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) - The United States’ killing of Islamic State’s leader is important progress, but the world should not rest on its laurels in the fight against terrorism, China’s special envoy to the Middle East said on Friday.

China has long worried about ethnic Uighurs from China’s far heavily Muslim western region of Xinjiang who have traveled clandestinely to Syria and Iraq to fight with Islamist groups there. Islamic State has killed at least one Chinese hostage and militant groups have issued statements threatening to attack China.

Speaking to reporters following a visit to Saudi Arabia, Iran and Egypt last month, Zhai Jun said last month’s killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by U.S. forces was “important progress in the fight against terrorism”.

“But that does not mean the Islamic State has been completely wiped out,” Zhai, an Arabic speaker and former Chinese ambassador in Tripoli and Paris, said.

“The ideological tide of terrorism lives on,” he added. “We must not lower our vigilance.”

Affiliates of Islamic State, as well as other militant organizations were still active in other countries, Zhai said.

Zhai’s remarks on Baghdadi’s death were the most high profile to date on the issue from China, which had previously only said it was closely monitoring the situation.

China has been looking to bolster its traditional low-profile diplomatic role in the Middle East, where it has key energy and business interests, though has made little noticeable impact so far with its special envoys for the region.

China has close economic and energy relations with both Saudi Arabia and its regional foe Iran, and has long had to tread carefully in its ties with both.

President Xi Jinping is likely to visit the region next year as Saudi Arabia - China’s top oil supplier - is the host of the 2020 G20 summit.

Full report at:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-baghdadi-china/china-says-killing-of-islamic-state-leader-is-progress-much-work-remains-idUSKBN1XI138

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Thai police accuse Muslim insurgents of attack in southern Thailand

November 8, 2019

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Police in Thailand on Friday blamed the worst attack in years in the country's restive south on the region's main Muslim insurgent group, the Barisan Revolusi Nasional.

Fifteen people, including a police officer and many village defense volunteers, were killed on late on Tuesday when suspected separatists stormed a security checkpoint in Yala.

It was the worst single attack in years in a restive region where a long-running Muslim insurgency has killed thousands of people in a fight against central government rule in overwhelmingly Buddhist Thailand.

There has been no immediate claim of responsibility, as is common with such attacks in the region.

"We have evidence indicating that it was the BRN," said Ronnasilp Pusara, a police commander in the south, referring to the Barisan Revolusi Nasional, the main insurgent group operating in the south.

"We have captured one suspect, who is now being interrogated. He also belongs to the BRN," he said.

Reuters could not immediately reach a representative of the BRN for comment.

The separatist insurgency in Thailand's largely ethnic Malay-Muslim provinces of Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat has killed nearly 7,000 people since 2004, says Deep South Watch, a group that monitors the violence.

In August, the BRN told Reuters it had held a secret preliminary meeting with the government, but any step toward a peace process appeared to wither after the deputy prime minister rejected a key demand for the release of prisoners.

https://news.yahoo.com/thai-police-accuse-muslim-insurgents-114645873.html

Thai Police Accuse Muslim Insurgents of Attack in Southern Thailand

Nov. 8, 2019

BANGKOK — Police in Thailand on Friday blamed the worst attack in years in the country's restive south on the region's main Muslim insurgent group, the Barisan Revolusi Nasional.

Fifteen people, including a police officer and many village defense volunteers, were killed on late on Tuesday when suspected separatists stormed a security checkpoint in Yala.

It was the worst single attack in years in a restive region where a long-running Muslim insurgency has killed thousands of people in a fight against central government rule in overwhelmingly Buddhist Thailand.

There has been no immediate claim of responsibility, as is common with such attacks in the region.

"We have evidence indicating that it was the BRN," said Ronnasilp Pusara, a police commander in the south, referring to the Barisan Revolusi Nasional, the main insurgent group operating in the south.

"We have captured one suspect, who is now being interrogated. He also belongs to the BRN," he said.

Reuters could not immediately reach a representative of the BRN for comment.

The separatist insurgency in Thailand's largely ethnic Malay-Muslim provinces of Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat has killed nearly 7,000 people since 2004, says Deep South Watch, a group that monitors the violence.

Full report at:

https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2019/11/08/world/asia/08reuters-thailand-insurgency.html

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Continue effort to boost understanding of Islam — Dr Mahathir

November 09, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 8): Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad hopes that effort to boost understanding of the true Islamic teachings will be redoubled and escalated with suitable approaches.

The Prime Minister said this effort is important to prove that the people could live a prosperous life under the umbrella of Islam, which brings blessings to all.

"Emulate Prophet Muhammad throughout our lives so that we receive blessings during this life and the hereafter," he said in a message on his official Twitter today.

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In conjunction with the Maulidur Rasul celebration this year, Dr Mahathir also said Muslims must appreciate diversity, living sustainable lives in peace and maintaining ties among the races and religions.

These characteristics, he said, could be achieved by stressing on Islamic teachings in life based on the Quran and valid hadith (records of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad).

"We mention true Islam because there are many interpretations and teachings of Islam which are misinterpreted by other interests. These are causing Muslims to be disunited and have factions," said Dr Mahathir, who also wished Muslims 'Salam Maulidur Rasul 1441H'.

Full report at:

https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/continue-effort-boost-understanding-islam-%E2%80%94-dr-mahathir

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Housewife charged with six counts of insulting Islam

08 Nov 2019

SEPANG, Nov 8 — A housewife was charged in separate Sessions Courts here today with six counts of uploading offensive postings on Islam.

Fadilah Hamid, 42, however, pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

She was alleged to have committed the offences on Facebook using the account name of “Fadhilah Abdulhamid” between February and March this year.

In the court before judge Saifulakmal Mod Said, the woman was charged with three counts of knowingly using the Facebook account to make and initiate the transmission of offensive communication with intent to annoy another person at about 11.05 pm on Feb 19, 12.39pm the following day and 3.38pm on March 2, respectively.

The other three charges were read out to her before judge Tengku Shahrizam Tuan Lah, where the offences were allegedly committed at 10 pm on March 1, 8.52pm on Feb 19 and 1.25am on March 4, respectively.

Both courts set Dec 18 for mention.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/11/08/housewife-charged-with-six-counts-of-insulting-islam/1808134

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Saudi teachers, Malaysians can learn from one another

Mariam Mokhtar

November 9, 2019

A few days ago, Malaysians must have been stunned to learn about an exchange programme between the Malaysian and Saudi Arabian education ministries, whereby Saudi Arabian teachers would gain teaching experience in Malaysia.

The reasons for their fears are two-fold.

First, Saudi Arabia is not renowned for its standard and quality of education. To gain teaching experience, the Saudi teachers would have to receive hands-on teaching skills and network with others in the workplace, school or faculty, and acquire credibility.

We are told that the teachers in the exchange programme are specialists in English, mathematics and science, and presumably are the cream of the crop.

On the other hand, one wonders if our students will be able to understand the Saudi teachers. Pupils from national schools are not comfortable speaking English. Will there be a communication problem?

Second, for the past 40 years, Saudi’s petro dollars were used to finance madrasahs and mosques around the world, including in Malaysia, southern Philippines and Indonesia. The money was almost always accompanied by ulamas who preached the extremist and intolerant form of sunni Islam – Wahhabism.

alaysians fear that these teachers will spread Wahhabism, under the guise of teaching our students English, maths and science. The damage that these teachers could do to the country far outweighs the benefits of 300 scholarships. Is Malaysia so desperate for Saudi money?

The agreement reached between Education Minister Maszlee Malik and his Saudi Arabian counterpart, Hamad Mohammed Al Shaikh, was forged in an effort to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries. At the same time, 300 scholarships were awarded to Malaysian undergraduates to read courses in science and technology.

At one time, former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who is now the home minister, made the outrageous claim that Malaysia had the best education system in the world. Despite that claim, we struggle to make the learning of English acceptable to the mainly Malay student population, because they have been brought up to consider it unpatriotic to speak any language besides Malay.

Let us hope that when Malay students see that the Saudi teachers are fluent in English, they too will be encouraged to converse in English.

The Saudis can learn from our community and export some of the positive aspects of our culture to their homeland. The sexes are not segregated. People of different faiths and cultures mingle with one another.

In Malaysia, women can drive and go out on their own, without being accompanied by a male relative. Women can go shopping without escorts. Women need not ask for permission to travel overseas. Women have a right to an education. Women can do most jobs. How many of the Saudi teachers will be female?

The Malays are going through a phase of Arabisation and, at times, ignore their own rich Malay cultural heritage of dress, language, architecture and food. For instance, the niqab is not suitable for the tropical climate as it is best suited to the desert environment with its intense heat and sand storms. Both the Saudis and Malaysians should realise that dress is dependent on the climate and is not a male prerogative.

imilarly, houses in the desert have small windows to keep out the desert heat and fine sand, whereas tropical homes have awnings for shade, double roofs for ventilation, and houses on stilts deter insects and keep people safe, when flooding occurs.

Saudi Arabia would grind to a halt without its foreign labour – nurses, salesgirls, cleaners, construction workers, maids, and those carrying out aircraft and heavy machinery maintenance. The Saudi teachers will note the presence of foreign workers in Malaysia, but fewer than in Saudi Arabia, where they import workers from the Indian subcontinent and the Philippines. However, in Malaysia, many locals still play an important role in a professional capacity as doctors and engineers, in the retail trade, in agriculture and in fishing.

Maszlee’s recent announcement about the Saudi teachers has outraged most Malaysians, but he is solely responsible for this. His policy on khat, and his view that Sarawak is short of religious teachers do not inspire us. Furthermore, none of his other policies fills us with confidence about his ability as education minister.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2019/11/09/saudi-teachers-malaysians-can-learn-from-one-another/

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Arab World

 

ThePlace: Saudi Arabia’s AlUla contains Mada’in Saleh, the Kingdom’s first UNESCO site

November 08, 2019

AlUla is a governate and city in northwestern Saudi Arabia 110 km southwest of Tayma and 300 km north of Madinah.

The city, which was a major trade center and capital of the Lihyanite civilization (7th century BCE to 65 BCE), is famous for its archaeological riches, mudbrick dwellings and the AlUla Museum.

The governorate also contains Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mada’in Saleh, which was built more than 2,000 years ago by the Nabataeans, the successors to the Lihyanites.

This photograph was taken by Dhafer Al-Bakri as part of the Colors of Saudi competition.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1581186/saudi-arabia

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Egyptians in continuous struggle against terrorism: Sisi

By: Amr Mohamed Kandil

Nov. 7, 2019

CAIRO – 7 November 2019: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Thursday said he had a “relentless will” to counter terrorism as it had badly affected the image of the religion, adding that Egyptian people were in a continuous struggle against terrorism.

Sisi’s remarks came in his speech on the occasion of Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday (Al-Mawlid Al-Nabawi) celebrated by many Muslims in several countries, and is believed by Sunni scholars to be on 12th Rabi' al-awwal, according to the Islamic calendar (November 9th this year).

The president affirmed that extremism, terrorism, and physical and moral destruction would not be able to prevent people from moving towards a better future.

"We do not pay attention to the attempts of obstruction by our enemies. We respond to them by much more work and a lot of effort, and we look forward with hope and confidence.”

“I am absolutely confident that Allah’s (God’s) close help to Egypt and its people, in the fulfillment of our hopes in building an advanced and a modern homeland in which the people enjoy a dignified and safe life.”

Sisi referred to the June 30 revolution in 2013, which ousted Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated President Mohamed Morsi, saying that he asked Egyptians to take to streets on July 24 this year to give him the authorization to fight terrorism, as these groups have the belief that they “must rule you or kill.” He added that these groups resort to spreading lies and false news, as well as using arms as part of their destruction plan.

“Our meeting at the anniversary of the Prophet’s birth is a good chance to speak about our concerns, aspirations, ambitions and challenges that face us and that we permanently seek to face and overcome.”

“Developing our understanding and thought of our religion will not change the constant [laws of religion],” adding that the religion prohibits lies circulated on social media platforms. He added that parents have to think of ways to immune their children against extremist ideology.

Renewing religious discourse

President Sisi, since taking office in 2014, has called for developing religious discourse, especially that of Islam, and addressing religious misconceptions used by some extremist groups to justify their terrorist acts and deceive the youth.

The calls for renewing religious discourse, endorsed by the Ministry of Endowments (Awaqf Ministry), are believed to be part of the state’s war against terrorism.

At the ceremony of Muslim’s Laylat al-Qadr at the headquarters of the Ministry of Endowments in June, Sisi said that people’s behaviors could affect the image of their religion negatively or positively in other nations’ points of views.

Full report at:

https://www.egypttoday.com/Article/1/77544/Egyptians-in-continuous-struggle-against-terrorism-Sisi

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Ten killed in Iraq’s Basra during protests outside govt headquarters

9 November 2019

Ten people were killed in Iraq’s southern city of Basra during overnight protests where security forces used live gunfire to disperse hundreds of demonstrators who tried to force their way into the local government headquarters, medical sources told Al Arabiya on Saturday.

The sources added that about 180 people suffered injuries as protesters continue to gather around the government building.

According to Iraqi state TV, masked gunmen had attacked protesters in Basra on Thursday night, killing five people and injuring another 120.

In Baghdad, Al Arabiya sources said that clashes erupted between hundreds of demonstrators and riot police in al-Rashid Street, where security forces fired tear gas and sound bombs.

The sources added that protesters tried to reach Shuhada Bridge again, but security forces continued to block them for the third day in a row.

More than 250 people have been killed since the unrest erupted Oct. 1.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/11/09/Ten-killed-in-Iraq-s-Basra-during-protests-outside-govt-headquarters.html

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UN finds: Morsi's death ‘state-sanctioned arbitrary killing’

Nov 9, 2019

A panel of UN experts have found that the detention conditions of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi may have directly led to his death in June.

Morsi was Egypt's first democratically elected president. He was ousted in a military coup by current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in 2013. He'd been jailed for six years until his death in a Cairo court while on trial on espionage charges, which rights groups dismissed as trumped-up and politicized.

A statement by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday said the experts concluded that conditions Morsi endured "could amount to a state-sanctioned arbitrary killing."

They said he was in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, denied medical care, lost vision in one eye and suffered recurrent diabetic comas.

“Dr. Morsi was held in conditions that can only be described as brutal, particularly during his five-year detention in the Tora prison complex,” the experts wrote.

“Dr. Morsi’s death after enduring those conditions could amount to a state-sanctioned arbitrary killing."

The experts also warned that thousands more prisoners are "at severe risk" from "gross violations" in Egyptian prisons.

Senior members of Morsi's former government welcomed the investigation and called on the UN to extend its probe to include the "suspicious circumstances" surrounding the death of Morsi's son Abdullah in September.

Before he died, the 25-year-old Abdullah Morsi had been in touch with the UN to formally complain about his father’s death. He reportedly died of a heart attack on September 4, and was buried next to his father in Cairo.

“Abdullah died shortly after he privately gave crucial evidence about his father’s death to the United Nations," Yehia Hamed, a former minister under Morsi, said in the joint statement.

"I was in close contact with Abdullah Morsi and I am convinced that it was his very brave work with the United Nations that led to his death."

The UN experts also warned that thousands more prisoners in Egypt were enduring similar conditions, and their 'health and lives' may also be at severe risk.

The 67-year-old former president fainted during a court session on June 17 and died afterwards.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/11/09/610734/Egypt-Morsi-UN-experts-report-investigation-prison

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UN report finds Jordan, Turkey and UAE violated Libya arms embargo

Nov 8, 2019

Jordan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates have regularly violated the UN arms embargo imposed on Libya since 2011, according to a confidential report by UN experts seen Thursday by AFP.

The three countries "routinely and sometimes blatantly supplied weapons with little effort to disguise the source," a summary of a year-long study by the UN experts said.

According to diplomats, Jordan was accused of having trained troops for Khalifa Haftar, a military strongman in eastern Libya, who launched an offensive in April in a bid to seize Tripoli.

The United Arab Emirates, another Haftar backer, is suspected of using attack aircraft on behalf of his forces.The UAE is suspected of involvement in a July 2 bombing of a detention center for migrants in a Tripoli suburb, which left around 50 people dead.

The report does not definitively apportion blame for the attack but notes that the UAE is equipped with both US-made F-16s and French made Mirage 2000-9s.

Turkey, which openly supports the government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, is accused of supplying his forces with military material ranging from armored vehicles to drones.

"Both parties to the conflict received weapons and military equipment, technical support and non-Libyan fighters in non-compliance with the sanctions measures related to arms," said the experts' report, delivered to members of the UN Security Council on October 29.

"The panel also identified the presence of Chadian and Sudanese armed groups in support of forces affiliated" with Sarraj and Haftar, the report said, although they have had only a limited impact.

"Although the military capability of both parties was apparently enhanced, in reality the impact of the foreign armed groups to outcomes in the conflict was limited," it said.

'New phase of instability'

The 85-page document, and a more than 300-page annex, includes pictures, maps and copies of ship manifests of cargos delivered to Libya by sea.

The report is expected to be the subject of debate by the Security Council's 15 members at the end of the month when the sanctions committee responsible for Libya meets. It is then expected to be approved for public release, probably sometime in December. --------

The experts said they were awaiting answers to their questions from several UN member states.

"The panel identified multiple acts that posed a threat to the security, peace and stability of Libya," they said.

Since Haftar's offensive in April, a "new phase of instability, combined with the interests of several states and non state actors in the outcome, amplified the existing proxy conflict that took shape post-2011," they said.

"Military operations have been dominated by the use of precision-guided munitions from unmanned combat aerial vehicles, which to a degree has limited the collateral damage normally expected from such a conflict," they said.

The use of drones "has been massive by both sides," a diplomat said, confirming accusations leveled previously by the UN envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salame.

Another diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the report does not mention the presence of Russian mercenaries in Libya.

Several hundred have been deployed to Libyan territory in recent months, taking part in combat in support of Haftar's forces, US media reported earlier this week, an allegation denied by Moscow.

The report also said that human trafficking and smuggling of migrants, although reduced considerably, "continues to finance networks that contribute to instability."

The panel said there had been attempts by the National Oil Corporation, in the east of the country, to illicitly export crude oil.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/11/08/610676/UN-report-Libya-arms-embargo-Jordan-Turkey-UAE

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Iraqi security forces must keep peace amid protests, top Shia cleric says

Nov 8, 2019

Iraq’s most prominent Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has called on security forces to avoid using excessive force in the wake of anti-government protests that have entered their third week.

In a statement read out by his representative Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalaei during a sermon in the holy city of Karbala on Friday, Ayatollah Sistani held security forces accountable for any violent escalation, and urged the Baghdad government to respond as quickly as possible to demonstrators' demands.

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Peacefulness of protests in their various forms should be paid a great attention. The biggest responsibility is on the security forces. They must avoid using excessive force with peaceful protesters,” the revered cleric said.

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Ayatollah Sistani also said there should be “no more procrastination.”

The political apparatus has a unique opportunity to respond to citizens' demands with an agreed roadmap,” he said in the sermon read out by his representative.

Protesters in Iraq have directed their rage at a class of elite leaders, whom they accuse of pillaging the oil-rich country's wealth while the population grows poorer.

The protests, which began more than a month ago, have often turned violent, with security forces opening fire and protesters torching government buildings.

Last week, President Barham Salih said Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi was willing to resign once political leaders agreed on a replacement. He also called for a new election law and said he would approve early parliamentary polls once it was enacted.

But as the protest movement has dragged on, top leaders meeting in Baghdad, the holy city of Najaf and Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region, appear to have reached a consensus over the premier staying in power.

Senior cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who had been supporting the protests and had demanded the government resign, has gone silent as well.

On Thursday, state-run al-Iraqiya television network aired a recorded address by Abdel Mahdi to cabinet ministers in which he discussed the 2020 budget.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/11/08/610689/Iraqi-security-forces-must-keep-peace-amid-protests-top-Shia-cleric-says

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UN envoy: Syria’s talks have ‘gone much better’, new round to be held on Nov. 25

Nov 8, 2019

United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen says the opening round of talks aimed at finding a political solution to the ongoing conflict in Syria has been “better than expected”, with a new round due to be held in Geneva later this month.

Speaking at a news conference at the end of the first round of the Constitutional Committee on Friday, Pedersen said, "I believe it has gone much better than most people would have expected."

He added that the committee discussed many key issues, including Syria’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and fighting terrorism, without elaborating.

The UN envoy noted that discussions were sometimes "very painful" but said the delegates to the committee from the government, foreign-sponsored opposition and civil society addressed them with professionalism.

"The next round of discussions will start on November 25," Pedersen added.

The members of the constitutional committee, which took almost two years of consultations to be formed, are tasked with reforming the Arab country's constitution before it is put to the vote of the Syrian people.

The UN envoy has said reforming the country's constitution is the first step toward the beginning of a political process that will lead to UN-supervised elections under UN Resolution 2254.

The formation of Syria’s constitutional committee and its inception in Geneva on October 30 was the culmination of over two years of efforts by the three guarantor states of the Syria peace process - Iran, Russia, and Turkey - who initiated the Astana Process in January 2017 on the back of a Syria-wide ceasefire between the government and armed groups.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/11/08/610703/UN-envoy-Syria-talks

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Hezbollah will have proactive role in future Lebanese government: Official

Nov 8, 2019

Hezbollah will have a ‘proactive presence’ in the future Lebanese government, says Sheikh Naim Qassem, the deputy secretary general of Lebanon’s resistance movement.

“Hezbollah will fulfill its role in following up with the demands of the people, implementing reform, and fighting corruption and will have a proactive presence in the future government,”  Lebanon's official National News Agency reported Qassem as saying during a meeting on Friday.

“Hezbollah will be part of the future government since it is part of the people, hence it will strive to allow for the voice of the people to be heard and their pains healed,” he added.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation at the end of October following two weeks of huge nationwide economic and anti-corruption protests.

The protests have since receded with Lebanon experiencing a return to relative calm despite continued demonstrations taking place mainly in major city squares.

Qassem said Hezbollah was negotiating with leaders of the country's parliamentary factions and political figures in a bid to form a future government.

He said reform in Lebanon would “begin by forming a government capable of resolving the [country’s] issues,” adding that the popular protest movement will greatly influence the formation of such a government.

“What existed before the popular movement differs from what will come after it. The demands of the movement must be prioritized over [that of] the rich,” he said.

The economic protests come as growth in the country has plummeted in the wake of endless political deadlocks and economic woes of a remarkable scale in recent years.

The country hosts 1.5 million Syrian refugees, and their presence is often blamed for putting pressure on the already struggling economy.

Unemployment stands at more than 20 percent, according to official figures.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/11/08/610704/Hezbollah-Lebanon-government-

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Iraq forces retake key bridges from protesters

November 09, 2019

BAGHDAD: Iraqi security forces wrested back control on Saturday of three bridges in the heart of Baghdad that had been partially occupied by anti-government protesters in recent days, AFP correspondents said.

They retook the Al-Sinek, Al-Shuhada and Al-Ahrar bridges over the River Tigris that link the east bank, where the main protest camps are located, with neighbourhoods on the west bank that are home to government offices and foreign embassies.

Amid volleys of tear gas, security forces chased demonstrators back onto Al-Rasheed Street, one of Baghdad's oldest and most celebrated thoroughfares.

Protesters still occupy part of Al-Jumhuriyah (Republic) Bridge, the southernmost of the capital's bridges and the closest to the main protest camp in Tahrir (Liberation) Square.

Over the past two weeks, demonstrators had spilt over from the square, first taking over part of Al-Jumhuriyah Bridge before creeping north onto the other three.

But the government ordered the security forces to keep them back, as Al-Jumhuriyah Bridge leads into the Green Zone where parliament and the British and US embassies are located.

Al-Sinek Bridge provides access to the embassy of Iran, a target for protesters who accuse Iraq's eastern neighbour of propping a government they regard as irredeemably corrupt.

Al-Ahrar (Free Men) and Al-Shuhada (Martyrs) bridges lead to the prime minister's office and state television headquarters.

Security forces have fired tear gas and both live and rubber bullets to keep the protesters back. They have even fired machine guns.

The sound of tear gas canisters and stun grenades reverberated around central Baghdad nightly over the past week.

Fired at point-blank range, the canisters have pierced protesters' skulls and chests, killing at least 16 of them, according to the United Nations.

Amnesty International said it has found the military-grade tear gas canisters were Serbian- or Iranian-made.

Full report at:

The government has stopped issuing updated tolls.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1581376/middle-east

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Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Russian officials discuss broadening ties

November 08, 2019

JEDDAH: The secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, met Sheikh Rawi Eineddine, head of the Russian Council of Muftis in Jeddah to discuss their continuing cooperation.

Al-Othaimeen noted the importance of promoting Russian ties with the Muslim world, with more than 25 million Muslims living in Russia, a multi-societal, religious and cultural environment known for diversity and tolerance.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1581166/saudi-arabia

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Lebanon facing ‘major health disaster’ as economic, political crisis deepens

NAJIA HOUSSARI

November 09, 2019

BEIRUT: Experts on Friday warned of a pending “major health disaster” in Lebanon with hospitals turning away patients and stocks of medicines and medical supplies predicted to run out in one month.

The alert came a day after international confidence in Lebanon’s crisis-hit economy was dealt another serious blow after credit rating company Moody’s downgraded the country’s top three banks.

As anti-government protests entered their 23rd day with no sign of political moves to start the process of forming a new Lebanese administration, the news plunged the debt-ridden nation into further financial meltdown.

A joint statement issued on Friday from a syndicate of Lebanese hospitals, doctors, and medical equipment dealers, said: “Hospitals are no longer able to receive patients due to a shortage of financial liquidity caused by delays of payment by guarantor institutions.

“The current stock of medicines and medical supplies is sufficient for one month, and we might head toward a major health disaster if the situation is not immediately rectified through facilitating the transfer of funds for dealers to US dollars. Within one week, hospitals will stop receiving patients except for emergency cases,” the statement added.

A report by Moody’s, published by Reuters on Thursday, said Lebanon’s “poor creditworthiness” was behind the agency’s decision to downgrade its ratings for Audi, Bloom and Byblos banks to the higher risk level of Caa2.

Economist Issam Jurdi told Arab News: “Lebanon is sick and suffering. There is no money in the state’s treasury or budget, and the Banque du Liban (Lebanon’s central bank) has exhausted its free reserves. It can no longer support the lira (Lebanese pound) or fund strategic items such as fuel, hydrocarbons, medical supplies, and wheat.”

Moody’s downgrade also meant Lebanon would not be able to obtain foreign credits at the same interest rates, he added.

Meanwhile protesters continued to stage demonstrations throughout the country against political corruption and the imposition of new taxes.

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and ex-Minister of Interior Nohad Machnouk were among the demonstrators’ targets for abuse, and protests were held outside the Ministry of Interior offices and the home of caretaker Energy Minister Nada Boustany. Crowds also headed to the home of Walid Jumblatt, leader of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) and one of the Lebanese politicians sharing power.

Despite the recent resignation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri, efforts to form a rescue government have run into a political block.

Development expert, Dr. Nasser Yassin, said: “Lebanon needs an immediate government that can give back confidence through trustful personalities that could elaborate plans to salvage the economic situation.”

Jurdi said: “The central bank has absorbed all US dollars available in the local market and is treating it as if it is its own free reserve, while in reality it is the Lebanese peoples’ deposits.

“The danger lies in the fact that there are state financial benefits and deposits tied to a year. If depositors want to withdraw their US dollars at maturity, they are asked by the bank to procure this from the market or convert their deposits into US dollars and freeze them in the bank. This means that 20 days ago we were transformed into a bound economy.

“The crisis is due to the $17 billion deficit in the balance of payment, and the trade deficit in the trade account which is estimated at 25 percent of the Lebanese GDP. The budget deficit for 2019 was estimated at 7.6 percent, while the 2020 deficit would rise due to the current crisis, especially as Lebanon did not prepare its 2020 budget within the constitutional deadline,” he added.

“In the 1970s and 1980s, during the civil war there was a financial surplus in Lebanon as the war was funded by foreign powers. Now Lebanon is left to rely on the Gulf countries and the international community.

“We need to pray, as there are no miracles in economy, however there could be miracles in politics. We need internal and external rescue plans.”

Jurdi claimed that the on-going crisis in Lebanon was “an attempt to circumvent the people and put down their revolution.”

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1581241/middle-east

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India

 

Malaysia to write to India on extradition of controversial preacher Zakir Naik

08 Nov 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry will send an official letter to the Indian government to explain Malaysia’s stance for not sending controversial Muslim preacher Zakir Naik back to his country of origin.

Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said in parliament on Thursday (Nov 7) that he would discuss with Attorney-General Tommy Thomas about preparing the contents of the letter. 

“There was a request from India and Prime Minister (Mahathir Mohamad) had already explained why we didn’t send (Zakir) back.

“During my meeting with my counterpart from India (Subrahmanyam Jaishankar) last week in Bangkok during the 35th ASEAN Summit, he had politely raised the issue and had asked us to send a letter as an official reply from us,” he said as he wound up debate on the Supply Bill 2020 for his ministry.

Mr Zakir, who is a Malaysian permanent resident, is wanted in India for charges of money laundering and hate speech.

The Malaysian government has refused to accede to an extradition request from India, which was made in January 2018. 

Dr Mahathir had said that Malaysia has the right not to extradite Mr Zakir on the claim that that he would not receive a fair trial in India.

The prime minister also said that Mr Zakir could not be sent back to India for fear that he might be killed. “If any country wants to have him, they are welcome,” he said, according to Bernama.

In August, the Malaysian police banned Mr Zakir from public activities after his racially sensitive remarks sparked outrage.

He had said in a speech in Kelantan that Hindus in Malaysia had “100 times more rights” than the Muslim minority in India and that they support the prime minister of India instead of the prime minister of Malaysia.

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/malaysia-official-letter-india-explain-zakir-naik-extradite-12076114

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Ayodhya case: Underlying structure was not an Islamic structure, says SC

Nov 9, 2019

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Saturday said the underlying structure below the disputed site at Ayodhya was not an Islamic structure, but the ASI has not established whether a temple was demolished to build a mosque.

The observation by a 5-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, was made in its verdict in the politically sensitive case of Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya.

Live updates: SC verdict on Ayodhya case

The bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, further said that terming the archeological evidence as merely an opinion would be a great disservice to the Archaeological Survey of India.

Complete coverage: Ayodhya verdict

The court also said that the Hindus consider the disputed site as the birthplace of Lord Ram and even Muslims say this about that place.

The faith of the Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the demolished structure is undisputed, the apex court said.

The bench said the existence of Sita Rasoi, Ram Chabutra and Bhandar grih are the testimony of the religious fact of the place.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/ayodhya-case-underlying-structure-was-not-an-islamic-structure-says-sc/articleshow/71980485.cms

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Babri Mosque: ‘All evidence was with us,’ says Muslim lawyer

Riyaz ul Khaliq  

09.11.2019

The Muslim side in the legal battle of Babri Mosque case possessed all the evidence under the law that the site belongs to the masjid, said a lawyer fighting the case. 

The historic mosque, widely known as Babri Masjid, was built in 1528 during the reign of the first Mughal emperor Zahir ud-Din Muhammad Babur in today’s Ayodhya in the central Indian province of Uttar Pradesh (UP) and there was no claim of any Hindu deity having been born at the site, said lawyer Zafaryab Jilani.

“Never were Muslims stopped from offering prayers inside the Babri Masjid as there was no such claim of any idol being at the site where the Masjid was built,” Jilani told Anadolu Agency in a telephone interview from New Delhi.

Jilani, a senior advocate, has been representing the Sunni Central Waqf Board and other Muslim litigants in the Babri Masjid case for the last 45 years since 1975.

The case, fought by All India Muslim Personal Law Board representing Muslims, is that of title suit. “Our plea is that the site has been used as a Masjid since 1528 so the ownership of the site be granted to Wakf [which runs the affairs of the mosque].”

“It was in December 1949 that there were some restrictions put on Muslims,” he said. “It was in this month that idols [of Hindu gods] were found inside the Masjid. So, under Indian law, to defuse any communal tensions, some kind of restrictions were imposed.”

Jilani said restrictions were imposed on Muslims from offering prayers inside the Masjid. “Besides, few Hindu saints were appointed to offer prayers and take care of idols according to Hindu customs. But Masjid was out of bounds for common people now," he added.

Jilani, who emerged as the “eyes and ears” to the Babri Masjid case said the then-central government pressed the provincial government to remove idols from the mosque.

“The District Magistrate of the district [where the mosque is located] did not get ready [to implement the order]; and under a conspiracy, a case was filed in the court that idols should not be removed,” Jilani recalled the various cases filed in the title case of the Babri Mosque.

Jilani said the case shifted to Lucknow High Court in 1987 from the lower court. “There was tension after the locks of the Masjid were opened at the order of the court,” he said.

This was the time when the Indian National Congress party lost general elections “because angry Muslims voted against it,” he said.

“In 1990, BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] President [LK] Advani started a Yatra [March] towards Babri Masjid to allow Hindus to build a gate near the Masjid but government disallowed it and a curfew was imposed for 90 days,” he said.

In 1991, the BJP formed the provincial government in the state where the mosque is located.

“The government acquired land around the Masjid and we [Muslims] challenged it in court … however, under a conspiracy and a decision was given against us. And on Dec. 6, 1992, Masjid was brought down.”  

Attack on Babri Mosque triggered tensions, crisis, riots across India

According to Jilani, the cases against the land acquisition were withdrawn. “[In 1990s] Prime Minister Narasimha Rao first promised that the Masjid will be rebuilt and thus cases were canceled but we challenged it in Supreme Court and asked it to revive the cases and our plea was accepted,” he said.  

Trial started in 1995

Jilani said that report of an excavation of the land around the mosque first came in 2003. Arguments were filed against the report in Allahabad High Court which finally gave its verdict in 2010. 

“The court said: ‘because Muslims and Hindus are offering prayers jointly at the site, so the land be distributed on 1/3 measurement’,” he quoted the Allahabad court's judgment.  

Jilani, however, said the Muslim side challenged the judgment in Supreme Court that that only Muslims prayed inside the mosque. “The court verdict was baseless and was not based on any evidence that Hindus also offered prayers at the same site,” Jilani claimed.

“Muslims had furnished all evidences that they have been praying at the site since 1528,” he said.

The Muslim side went to the Supreme Court of India and appealed against the verdict that was filed in 2011. The trial in the case started in August same year.

Jilani said that the main argument by the Muslim side is “why the site has been accepted as a joint place of worship for Hindus as well”.

“There is no evidence that Hindus also prayed at the site of the contention,” he said.

“Under Evidence Act [of Indian law], there is a requirement of either paper or verbal evidence for such a claim,” he added. “In this case, the verbal witness is not possible because the case is historic. Muslims have submitted paper evidence.”

To support the claim of Muslims that the temple was not at the site of the mosque, Jilani said Hindus had earlier specified two places, also found in revenue records, that in 1862 a place outside the mosque was considered as the birthsite of Hindu god Ram.

It is also mentioned in a report filed by the then-British government (1862-65). “We submitted these documents to court as well.”

But in 1885 Hindus again claimed that another place near the mosque called Chabootra was the birthplace of Ram.

“Though this second claim of Hindus was not accepted but it was added to records which showed the Masjid was located in west of the Chabootra,” Jilani said.

Then in 1941, Jilani said, Hindus again said Masjid was in the west of the Chabootra. “The records show that in 1950, the government of UP and police also accepted that it was just a Masjid, not a temple.”

In all documents, Jilani asserted, the place is shown as mosque. “Babri Masjid would even get grants of [Indian currency] Rs 302 before the British came to India. There are documents for it, too.”

Besides, he said that there is an inscription inside the mosque that it was built on the orders of Mughal emperor Babur.

“Our plea is simple: when documents never showed it was a temple before 1949, how is acceptable after that year. How is it acceptable that in 1989, Hindus started saying it was birthplace of Ram? What is the documentary evidence?”

“There is no evidence nor witness for it [that there was a temple],” he said.

“According to us, this claim [of temple] was developed only after 1949,” he said.

Jilani said that evidence of Muslims “is very strong”. “They [Hindus] do not have any evidence… We believe decision will come in our favor under the Indian constitution.”

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/-babri-mosque-all-evidence-was-with-us-says-muslim-lawyer/1639866

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J&K yet to decide on allowing congregation at Hazratbal on Prophet’s birth anniversary

by Bashaarat Masood

November 9, 2019

As people across Kashmir Valley prepare to commemorate the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad on Sunday, the police and civil administration are in a fix.

Every year, thousands assemble at Srinagar’s Hazratbal shrine for a glimpse of a strand of the Prophet’s hair on his birth anniversary. Given the situation in the region, the government is yet to decide on whether to allow such a large congregation or to impose restrictions — both situations have the potential to stir up tensions.

“It is a huge challenge for us,” a senior police officer told The Indian Express. “The situation is tricky both ways. On the one hand, we can’t afford such a huge assembly of people, and on the other hand, it is almost impossible to stop people from visiting Hazratbal shrine that day.”

The Prophet’s birth anniversary is celebrated on the 12th day of the third month of the Islamic calendar — November 10 this year. While thousands stay awake through the night and offer prayers at Hazratbal, huge gatherings are organised at several shrines and mosques across the Valley.

Last week, the government prevented people from offering prayers at the shrine of Naqshband Sahib in Srinagar’s old city, resulting in clashes and stone-pelting. The government’s decision had triggered outrage in the Valley.

Sunday’s congregation at Hazratbal however, poses an even bigger challenge.

“We understand that the people of the Valley are highly emotional about this day and it would be very difficult to prevent them from visiting the shrine. In fact, any attempt to try to stop people can lead to trouble in Valley,” said a senior official of the civil administration.

“On the other hand, police is telling us that allowing over 50,000 people to assemble at a place may have severe law and order consequences.”

If people are not allowed to assemble at the shrine, it would be a first in the Valley. Pilgrims however, are defiant.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/jk-yet-to-decide-on-allowing-congregation-at-hazratbal-on-prophets-birth-anniversary-6110709/

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Satyendra Das, AIMPLB’s Khalid Rasheed urge people to respect SC

by Qayam

November 09, 2019

Ayodhya, Lucknow: Respect the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute and maintain peace and harmony in the nation, said the head priest of the makeshift Ram temple in Ayodhya, Satyendra Das and executive member of the AIMPLB Khalid Rasheed on Saturday.

“I would urge the people to accept the verdict of the Supreme Court unanimously. The Supreme Court verdict should not be seen as anyone’s victory or defeat, it needs to be followed,” Das told ANI in Ayodhya.

The head priest also expressed happiness over the additional deployment of forces made by the administration in Ayodhya and said, “The decision by the government to deploy additional forces in Ayodhya is a welcome one considering there is a need to maintain law and order situation.”

Khalid Rasheed, the executive member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) too expressed similar sentiments and termed it a historic day for all Indians.

“It is a very important and historic day for India. Everyone was waiting eagerly for this, and all are looking at the Supreme Court for its orders. The verdict of the apex court will be acceptable to all,” Rasheed told ANI in Lucknow.

He also appreciated the stance taken by prominent political leaders and parties including RSS and Jamiat Ulema e Hind over maintaining peace and harmony and said, “The best thing is that all political leaders and parties and both Hindu and Muslim organizations, especially since the last 10 days, have urged people to maintain peace and harmony and accept the verdict, no matter what it is.”

Meanwhile, Das, urging people to respect the apex court’s verdict added, “Whatever the Supreme Court verdict might be, it will come with the order of Lord Ram and it should be followed as such.”

Security arrangements have been beefed up in Uttar Pradesh, especially in Ayodhya district, in view of the impending judgment in the case. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPc have been imposed in Ayodhya till December 10.

Full report at:

https://www.siasat.com/satyendra-das-aimplbs-khalid-rasheed-urge-people-respect-sc-1722792/

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Karnataka CM appeals for peace on Ayodhya verdict

by Qayam

November 09, 2019

Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa on Saturday appealed to the people of the southern state to maintain peace and harmony over the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya.

“As the Supreme Court gives its verdict on the Ayodhya case today (Saturday), let us accept it with equanimity. Let us respect the Constitution and the judiciary of the nation. Let us be committed to maintaining peace and harmony in society,” tweeted the chief minister ahead of the verdict.

https://www.siasat.com/karnataka-cm-appeals-peace-ayodhya-verdict-1722734/

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Ayodhya verdict: Hindu party lawyers appeal for peace, harmony

by Qayam

November 09, 2019

New Delhi: As the Supreme Court is set to pronounce its verdict in the Ayodhya land dispute case, Hindu party lawyers on Saturday appealed the people to maintain peace and harmony across the country.

“Followers of Lord Ram have always shown restraint and patience in their lives. Today, there is a need for peace and harmony in society. I urge everyone to maintain peace in the country and not consider the verdict in the matter as a victory or loss for anyone,” advocate Vishnu Jain, the lawyer for Hindu Mahasabha said.

He said that the top court is scheduled to pronounce its verdict on four petitions.

“One of the suits was filed by Gopal Singh Visharad seeking the right to offer prayers, another by Nirmohi Akhada seeking management rights, one by Ramlalla Virajman seeking land for a Ram temple and one by Sunni Central Waqf Board seeking land for Mosque,” Jain said.

Karunesh Shukla, the lawyer of litigant Mahant Dharam Das, also urged people to open-heartedly accept the Supreme Court’s decision in the matter.

“The people of the country should accept whatever decision is taken by the Supreme Court. We hope that the decision is in our favour and a ram temple is built in Ayodhya. But we also want that a mosque is adjusted in the region as well,” he said.

He also said that people should maintain peace as “violence does not please any gods”.

Security arrangements have been made across the country ahead of the historic decision by the apex court in the politically sensitive matter.

A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court is scheduled to pronounce its historic verdict on a batch of a petition against the 2010 Allahabad High Court order in the politically-sensitive Ramjanmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case at 10:30 am today.

Full report at:

https://www.siasat.com/ayodhya-verdict-hindu-party-lawyers-appeal-peace-harmony-1722704/

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Ayodhya verdict: Meet judges of the bench

by Sameer

November 09, 2019

New Delhi: After seven decades of a protracted legal battle, the Supreme Court on Saturday will pronounce the judgment in Ayodhya title dispute case at 10.30 a.m. on Saturday.

The notice on the judgment was uploaded on the website of the court during the late evening on Friday. Earlier, during the day, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had held a highly confidential meeting with Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police. It is learnt this meeting focussed at taking stock of the law and order situation in the state.

A five judge bench headed by Chief JusticeGogoi and comprising Chief Justice-designate Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice S.A. Nazeer, had reserved the judgement on October 17, after 40 days of daily hearing on the matter, which began on August 6.

Ranjan Gogoi

Justice Ranjan Gogoi is the current Chief Justice of India. On 17th November 2019, his term as Chief Justice will come to an end.

It may be mentioned that he is the first Chief Justice of India who belongs to Northeast India.

His father was the Chief Minister of Assam in 1982.

SA Bobde

Sharad Arvind Bobde who was born on 24th April 1956 started his career as an advocate on 13th September 1978. He became the senior advocate in 1998.

In 2000, he was appointed as the Additional Judge of Bombay High Court. He became the Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh in 2012.

On 12th April 2013, he became the judge of the Supreme Court of India.

He is the next Chief Justice of India.

Ashok Bhushan

Justice Ashok Bhushan started his career by enrolling in the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh. Later, he became the Judge of Allahabad High Court.

On 13th May 2016, he became the judge of the Supreme Court.

D.Y. Chandrachud

Justice Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud who was born on 11th November 1959 started his career as a junior advocate.

Later, he became the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court.

On 13th May 2016, he was appointed as the judge of the Supreme Court.

S. Abdul Nazeer

Justice S. Abdul Nazeer also started his career as an advocate in 1983. After working as Judge of Karnataka High Court, he was appointed as Judge of the Supreme Court of India.

https://www.siasat.com/ayodhya-verdict-meet-judges-bench-1722636/

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PM appeals for peace and harmony before Ayodhya verdict

by Sameer

November 09, 2019

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that the Supreme Court verdict on Ayodhya will not be a victory or defeat for anyone, and asked everyone to maintain harmony.

A day before the judgement on Saturday morning, Modi appealed to the people that they should make it a priority that this verdict strengthens India’s glorious tradition of peace, unity and harmony.

“Tomorrow the verdict of Supreme Court is coming. For last few months, hearings had been continuously held in Supreme Court and the country was looking with great attention. During this time, all sections of society made efforts to create an atmosphere of harmony which is very praiseworthy,” he said in a series of tweets in Hindi.

“Keeping the respect of the country’s judiciary as paramount, all sections of society and social and cultural organisations and all parties to the judgment have in the past few days endeavoured to create a positive and harmonious environment, which should be welcomed. We should maintain harmony even after the judgement.”

Full report at:

https://www.siasat.com/pm-appeals-peace-and-harmony-ayodhya-verdict-1722558/

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Hundreds arrested on eve of verdict on holy site in India’s Ayodhya

November 08, 2019

NEW DELHI: Fearing unrest, Indian police have reportedly arrested more than 500 people ahead of a Supreme Court ruling due Saturday on a hotly disputed religious site in the holy city of Ayodhya.

India’s top court said late Friday it will deliver a verdict on Saturday morning on the decades-old spat over the future of a small piece of land claimed by both Hindus and Muslims that in the past has sparked deadly religious riots.

Hindu hard-liners want a temple built on the site, currently barricaded off after a 16th-century mosque there was demolished during 1992 riots that left 2,000 people dead.

Hindus believe the mosque was built over the site of the birthplace of their god Ram.

Security was tightened across India in the run-up to the ruling, and Uttar Pradesh state police chief O.P. Singh told the Economic Times that more than 500 arrests had been made.

“The main message to the police force is to maintain peace at any cost,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

Most of the suspects were taken into custody while a further 70 people were detained over social media posts, he said — warning that the Internet could be blocked locally if required.

Singh added that police had also identified more than 10,000 people he described as “anti-social.”

A police spokesman declined to comment to AFP.

In recent years, Ayodhya has become a rallying point for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Some senior BJP members are being tried separately over their role in the mosque’s 1992 destruction.

In 2010, a High Court divided the disputed land between Hindu and Muslim groups, but both parties appealed to the Supreme Court, which has since repeatedly put off a verdict.

Media reports say Modi has told ministers to refrain from making comments on the case that could fuel tensions.

For India’s minority Muslims, the dispute and a recent clampdown in Muslim-majority Kashmir have become symbols of the hostility that they say they face from the government.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1581091/world

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India’s Modi thanks Pakistan PM for ‘cooperation’ on visa-free Sikh corridor

9 November 2019

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan on Saturday for his “cooperation” on a visa-free corridor allowing Indian Sikhs to visit one of their religion’s holiest sites across the border in Pakistan.

“I would like to thank the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, for respecting the sentiments of India. I thank him for his cooperation,” Modi said in televised comments from the inauguration of the corridor on the Indian side of the border, in a rare message of gratitude between the nuclear arch-rivals.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/11/09/India-s-Modi-thanks-Pakistan-PM-for-cooperation-on-visa-free-Sikh-corridor.html

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Hundreds of Indian Sikhs begin historic crossing into Pakistan

November 09, 2019

DERA BABA NANAK: The first of hundreds of Indian Sikh pilgrims began a historic pilgrimage to Pakistan on Saturday, crossing through a white gate to reach one of their religion's holiest sites under a landmark deal between the two countries.

Among the first group of pilgrims crossing the border between India and Pakistan at Kartarpur was former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who told Pakistani state media that the opening of a secure visa-free corridor between the two countries as a "big moment".

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan for his “cooperation” on a visa-free corridor allowing Indian Sikhs to visit one of their religion’s holiest sites across the border in Pakistan.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1581336/world

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Through Kartarpur, Pakistan aims to rebuild economy, image

Nov 8, 2019

ISLAMABAD: For Pakistan, which is struggling to rebuild its economy and image, the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor is an opportunity to project itself as a moderate nation while earning a tidy sum annually from pilgrims.

Before coming to power, Prime Minister Imran Khan often railed at the successive governments of Pakistan for failing to exploit the vast potential of tourism, including revered religious sites, to attract tourists from around the world.

After assuming last year, among the first things he did was to take steps to attract visitors for sight-seeing and pilgrimage.

Addressing a tourism summit organised by his government here in April, Khan said the God has bestowed Pakistan with diverse kind of landscapes.

We need to give tourists awareness about the scenic beauty of the country," Khan said.

He also highlighted religious tourism, especially for the followers of Sikhism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.

In November last year, he performed the historic groundbreaking of the development work for the opening of the Kartarpur shrine for Sikhs in India and rest of the world.

The construction work has been completed in record time on the corridor. Khan is set to inaugurate it on Saturday, ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, on November 12.

Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said that 10,000 Sikhs will attend the opening ceremony and then every day at least 5,000 Sikhs from India and an equal number from Pakistan and other places be allowed to visit the shrine.

"The opening of the corridor for the Sikh community, will open vast opportunities for religious tourism," he said.

During the last two decades, Pakistan has suffered due to violence and terrorism. The country's economy nosedived and it lost its image as a business-friendly country. Government estimates show that over $126 billion were lost by the end of 2018.

Is Khan struggles to rebuild the shattered economy and visage of the country, he desperately needs to offer better options to the outside world.

With Sikhs coming to Pakistan in droves, Khan's dream is getting close to realisation. The quick development work at Kartarpur despite tensions with India is being appreciated.

The corridor will connect the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Punjab with Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur, just 4 kilometres from the International Border, located at Narowal district of Pakistan's Punjab province.

At Darbar Sahib, Guru Nanak had spent last 18 years of his life.

Notwithstanding a chill in bilateral ties over Kashmir, Pakistan and India after tough negotiations signed a landmark agreement on October 24 to operationalise the corridor to allow Indian pilgrims to visit the holy Darbar Sahib in Pakistan.

Pakistan's officials are showcasing Kartarpur as the symbol of religious harmony and representative of the teachings of Islam about showing respect towards non-Muslims.

“We are following the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad regarding provision of facilities to minorities," Faisal said.

There seems to be a conscious effort to distance from extremism and terrorism which over the years became synonymous with Pakistan.

By showing the other side of Islam, Khan's government is trying to build a case to divert pressure that Pakistan was not doing enough to eliminate militancy.

The opening of the corridor may prove handy to wriggle out of the Grey List of the Financial Action Task Force that will met in February to review Pakistan's performance on combating terror-financing and money laundering.

As far as rebuilding of the economy is concerned, religious tourism can directly and indirectly help. For example, Pakistan decided to levy USD 20 as service charge from every pilgrim coming from India.

Officials are hoping to collect a tidy sum annually that will be handy to support balance of payment and boost foreign reserves.

Pakistan is expected to earn up to Indian Rs 258 crore per annum -- about Pakistani Rs 571 crore -- from pilgrims visiting Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur.

Last week, a group of 185 Sikhs were flown to Lahore by Pakistan International Airlines from London to attend the 550 birth anniversary rites of Baba Guru Nanak, indirectly helping the cash-starved national flag-carrier.

As Sikhs flock to Pakistan, Buddhists may not remain far behind. Last month a group of Buddhist from South Korea visited a stupa in Haripur in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province.

It is believed that after the success of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, Pakistan is also aiming to market Taxila and its vast Buddhist heritage to the followers of Buddhism around the world.

Faisal said tourism is an industry that Pakistan was unable to focus on earlier, however, Khan's government is making a concerted effort to promote this industry in the country.

"One of the facets of the tourism industry is religious tourism. Sikhs/Nanak NaamLevas (followers), Hindus and Buddhist monks etc have various holy sites in Pakistan and we are trying to tap this potential of religious tourism," he said.

According to a report, 1.75 million tourists visited Pakistan in 2017.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to Pakistan's economy was USD 20,098.9 million in 2019.

Faisal said many initiatives under religious tourism were currently in the pipeline and a great deal of effort was being put in for their fruition.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/through-kartarpur-pakistan-aims-to-rebuild-economy-image/articleshow/71970013.cms

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Pakistan

 

Kartarpur Corridor inauguration testimony of Pakistan’s commitment to regional peace: PM

November 9, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that the inauguration of Kartarpur Corridor is the testimony of Pakistan’s commitment to regional peace.

“We believe that the road to the prosperity of the region and bright future of our coming generation lies in peace,” he said.

Congratulating the Sikh community on both sides of the border and the world over on the historic day of inauguration of Kartarpur Corridor, the prime minister said the significance of the event for the Sikh community, on 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak Dev Ji, could be well understood by the Muslims who knew what it meant to visit the holy places.

“The inauguration of Kartarpur Corridor is a manifestation of the fact that our hearts are always open for the followers of different religions as enjoined by our great religion and envisioned by our Father of the Nation. Today we are not only opening border but also our hearts for the Sikh community,” he added.

He said the unprecedented gesture of goodwill from the Government of Pakistan was a reflection of its deep respect for Baba Guru Nanak Dev Ji and religious sentiments of the Sikh community, who always wanted to have easy access to the shrine of their spiritual leader and perform their religious obligations.

He said Pakistan believed that interfaith harmony and peaceful coexistence would provide an opportunity to work for larger interests of the people of the sub-continent.

The prime minister also thanked all those who contributed towards transforming the vision into reality in a record time of 10 months only.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/11/09/kartarpur-corridor-inauguration-testimony-of-pakistans-commitment-to-regional-peace-pm/

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Pakistan may remain on FATF Grey List beyond Feb 2020: Report

Nov 8, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan may remain on the Financial Action Task Force's Grey List beyond February 2020 for money laundering and terror financing due to its "risk profile", according to media reports.

Pakistan was placed on the Grey List by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in June last year and was given a plan of action to complete it by October 2019, or face the risk of being placed on the Black List with Iran and North Korea.

The FATF retained Pakistan on the Grey List and warned the country of action for its failure in combating money laundering and terror financing. The decision was taken after a five-day plenary of the FATF held in Paris in October.

"Pakistan faces greater challenges than many other countries because of its risk profile,” Hammad Azhar, the minister responsible for economic affairs division, was quoted as saying by Dawn newspaper on Friday.

He was speaking at a meeting of the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue.

He said that some countries had been removed from the Grey List after just 80 per cent compliance while Pakistan was being pressurised to ensure 100 per cent compliance with the action plan.

"Pakistan is being viewed from a very high threshold; there is a political element to this,” he said.

The Asia Pacific Group of the FATF had found serious deficiencies in Pakistan's anti-money laundering measures and combating terror financing frameworks in its mutual evaluation report released a few weeks ago.

"As a result of the Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) carried out by the Asia Pacific Group, Pakistan was under observation till October 2020,” The Express Tribune quoted the minister as saying.

Since Pakistan continues to be in the FATF 'Grey List' , it would be very difficult for the country to get financial aid from the IMF, the World Bank, ADB and the European Union. There is also the risk of reduction in rating by Moody's, S&P and Fitch, making Pakistan's financial condition more precarious.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-may-remain-on-fatf-grey-list-beyond-feb-2020-report/articleshow/71969073.cms

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Chaos will ensue if demands not met: firebrand cleric Rehman threatens Pak govt

November 6, 2019

Firebrand cleric-cum-politician Maulana Fazlur Rehman said on Wednesday that the massive sit-in, aimed at toppling Prime Minister Imran Khan's government, was being held to fulfil a "national responsibility" and not to do 'mujras', warning that chaos will ensue if their demands were not met.

The Pakistan government should present its suggestions to the opposition parties if it wants to find a middle ground and break the deadlock, said Rehman, who has been leading the 'Azadi March' demanding the ouster of Prime Minister Khan.

The right-wing Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) leader is leading the massive protest, which entered the sixth day on Wednesday. Dubbed as 'Azadi March', the protestors demand Prime Minister Khan's resignation, accusing him of "rigging" the 2018 general elections.

Rehman said the anti-government sit-in, which entered its sixth day on Wednesday, was staged with a view to fulfil a "national responsibility" and for which "much effort and resilience" has been exercised.

"It is not as if we are holding mujras (dance performances) here each night. There are respectable people sitting here. They have not come here to indulge in debauchery. My decency does not permit me to repeat the scenes we all witnessed in Islamabad in the pas," he was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.

Rehman, who addressing the protestors, warned that chaos will follow if their demands were not met.

The opposition parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People Party (PPP), have also thrown their weight behind the massive anti-government rally comprising thousands of protesters in Islamabad.

Earlier, speaking to the media following his meeting with Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Rehman said: "the stage for a positive reply has not yet arrived".

Full report at:

https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/chaos-ensue-demands-not-met-firebrand-cleric-rehman-threatens-pak-govt-1616424-2019-11-06

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SHC grants bail to PML-N Senator Kamran Michael in NAB case

November 9, 2019

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) has granted bail to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator and former ports and shipping minister Kamran Michael in a misuse of authority case.

Michael, a PML-N stalwart, is accused of illegally allotting three commercial and residential apartment plots in prime locations of KPT Cooperative Housing Society (Mai Kolachi area) in Karachi to his favourites, and receiving huge sums in return.

On July 9, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) informed the SHC that investigation against the former ports minister and his accomplices in the misuse of authority case had been completed and a reference had been sent to Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal for approval.

To this, the court bench – which was hearing the bail plea of Michael in the said case – had adjourned hearing until August 22.

Previously, the court had suspended interim bails of Michael and co-accused.

An inquiry was ordered against Michael in January 2018 for alleged misuse of his authority. The anti-corruption watchdog had arrested him on February 8.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/11/08/shc-grants-bail-to-pml-ns-kamran-michael/

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In a historic first, Pakistan and India officially open Kartarpur Corridor today

Naveed Siddiqui | Sanaullah Khan

November 09, 2019

Sikhs from across the border have started arriving in Pakistan to make a historic pilgrimage to shrine of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, which is located in Kartarpur, as Islamabad and New Delhi make history by opening the Kartarpur Corridor today.

Foreign diplomats, accompanied by Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal and Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, will attend the ceremony.

In pictures: Spruced up Gurdwara Darbar Sahib set to welcome Sikh pilgrims from around the world

Before seeing off the first group of pilgrims — who will be received by Prime Minister Imran Khan at the shrine — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed members of the Sikh community and hailed the opening of the corridor.

"I also thank Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan for understanding India's wishes and turning Kartarpur into reality," Modi said in his speech. He also thanked the labour in both countries for completing the construction in such a short time.

The Indian premier said that Baba Guru Nanak was not just a revered figure for Sikhs but for the entire humanity.

About 8,000-10,000 pilgrims are expected to arrive from around the world to mark Guru Nanak's 550th birthday.

The premier had performed the groundbreaking of corridor last year. Since then, the government has employed hundreds of labourers to spruce up the shrine, including building a border immigration checkpoint and a bridge, as well as expanding the site's grounds. After tough negotiations between Islamabad and New Delhi, Pakistan and India finally signed an agreement last month.

Ahead of the opening, the prime minister also announced special waivers in order to facilitate Indian pilgrims. Pilgrims, who arrive from India, will no longer need a passport to cross over into Pakistan as long as they have a valid identity.

The premier had also announced that he had directed that the condition for pilgrims to register 10 days before their arrival to the Kartarpur shrine be waived.

Furthermore, the pilgrims who arrive on the day of the Kartarpur Corridor's opening and on Baba Guru Nanak's 550th birth anniversary will not be charged any fee to visit.

Up to 5,000 Indian Sikhs have been allowed access daily, with plans to eventually double the capacity.

Sikhs from around the world — including some from India, who entered from the main border crossing at Wagah after obtaining visas — have been arriving in Pakistan ahead of the celebrations for several days already.

Opening border and hearts

In a statement issued hours before the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, Prime Minister Imran congratulated the Sikh community residing in Pakistan as well as in India on the occasion.

The premier said that the "unprecedented gesture of goodwill [...] is a reflection of our deep respect for Baba Guru Nanak Dev Ji and religious sentiments of Sikh community".

"Today we are not only opening border but also our hearts for the Sikh community," the statement read.

The prime minister, in his statement, further said: "The inauguration today is also a testimony of our commitment towards peace of the region. We believe that the road to prosperity of region and bright future of our coming generation lies in peace. We believe that interfaith harmony and peaceful coexistence will provide us an opportunity to work for larger interests of people of the sub-continent.

"While congratulating the Sikh community once again, I also wish to thank all those who contributed towards transforming this vision in reality in record time of 10 months only."

Tantalisingly close

For up to 30 million Sikhs around the world, it is one of their holiest places. When Pakistan was carved out of colonial India at independence from Britain in 1947, Kartarpur ended up on the eastern side of the border — though most of the region's Sikhs remained on the other side.

For them, it is tantalisingly close — just four kilometres inside Pakistan, so near that Indian Sikhs have been known to stand on the other side and simply gaze across the divide at the site.

But decades of enmity between India and Pakistan, nuclear arch-rivals who have fought three wars and countless skirmishes since independence, has left extreme restrictions on their ability to visit.

Until now, when — in a rare example of cooperation between the neighbours — a secure visa-free corridor will open on Saturday allowing pilgrims to travel by road straight into the temple — known in Sikhism as a gurdwara.

The opening comes just days ahead of Sikhism's founder Baba Guru Nanak's 550th birthday on November 12, which is marked with celebrations by millions of Sikhs around the world. The shrine will be one of the most important places for Sikhs on that day.

This land is sacred for them,” Habib Khan, the 63-year-old imam of a small mosque just outside the gurdwara, told AFP on Friday.

Vans of pilgrims could be seen travelling through Kartarpur on Friday.

The Indian flag could be seen flying across the border, just beyond fields dotted with eucalyptus and guava trees — though it was half obscured by the heavy smog that has blanketed large swathes of South Asia in recent days.

Contingents of Rangers dotted the rice-growing region which, being so close to the border, is heavily secured, with multiple checkpoints.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1515830/in-a-historic-first-pakistan-and-india-officially-open-kartarpur-corridor-today

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Harassment of Pakistani diplomats continues in Afghanistan

November 9, 2019

Afghanistan intelligence officials continued to harass Pakistani diplomats on the eighth consecutive day, media reported.

As per details, Afghan security officials vehicles, without bearing a registration number plate, hit the vehicles of Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul and harassed the diplomatic officials.

The diplomatic sources maintained that the Afghan intelligence officials followed the Pakistani diplomats and hit their vehicle deliberately which damaged the vehicles of Pakistani embassy.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/11/09/harassment-of-pakistani-diplomats-continues-in-afghanistan/

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KP govt says Edwardes College to retain Christian identity

November 9, 2019

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhawa government on Friday took a U-turn on its earlier decision to nationalise the Edwardes College after strong protests by the Christian community across the country.

The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Mehmood Khan at the Governor’s House.

A consensus was developed in the meeting — attended by KP Governor Farman Shah, MNA Ramesh Kumar Vankwani and Dr Shoaib Suddal — that Edwardes College’s property will not be transferred to anyone in the name of nationalisation.

They said the college should remain in the hands of the Christian community and their identity should not be disturbed at any level. The principal of the college would always be appointed from the Christian community, the meeting decided.

Defending the move to put the college under the government control, Shah said the purpose was to retain the glory and historic identity of Edwardes College.

The Peshawar High Court’s decision that the Church lacked legal authority over the institute came under intense criticism from the religious and civil society members of the Christian community.

In a press conference, National Council of Churches-Pakistan President Rt Rev Bishop Dr Azad Marshall had also demanded the return of the Edwardes College to the church.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/11/08/kp-govt-says-edwardes-college-to-retain-christian-identity/

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Mideast

 

Iraqi Tribal Leaders in Karbala Meet Iranian Diplomat for Apology

Nov 07, 2019

They apologized to the Iranian nation and government over the recent attacks against the Islamic Republic’s mission in the holy Iraqi city in a meeting with Hosseinian on Wednesday.

The tribal leaders said the attackers could not disrupt brotherly and strong relations between the Iranians and the people of Karbala, adding that Tehran has stood with the Iraqis during difficult times.

osseinian, for his part, stressed that the incident would not affect Baghdad-Tehran ties, and expressed hope that the Iraq unrest would end soon.

Late on Sunday, a group of so-called protesters scaled the concrete barriers surrounding Iran’s Karbala consulate and spray-painted scurrilous writings on its perimeter walls.

Some other demonstrators also threw stones and burned tires around the Iranian consulate building, prompting Iraqi security forces to fire in the air to disperse the crowd.

Local sources said an Iraqi element affiliated to the Ba'ath Party has been arrested over the attack, but there has been no confirmation from Iraqi officials yet.

The Iranian foreign ministry had on Tuesday voiced concern about the dangers threatening the diplomatic missions amid unrests in Iraq, calling on Baghdad to increase security measures.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi once again condemned the attack on the Iranian consulate building in Karbala.

He added that the Islamic Republic “has conveyed its concerns to the host government through political channels and stressed the importance of guaranteeing the security of Iran’s diplomatic and consular missions in Iraq within the framework of international regulations and conventions”.

Mousavi said that Tehran has also asked Baghdad to adopt more security measures to that effect.

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980816000237

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Erdogan says Turkey will not leave Syria until other countries pull out

8 November 2019

Turkey will not leave Syria until other countries pull out, President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying on Friday, and Ankara will continue its cross-border offensive against Kurdish fighters until every one of them has left the region.

Turkey launched its third military incursion into northeast Syria last month to drive Kurdish YPG fighters from its border and establish a “safe zone” where it aims to settle up to 2 million Syrian refugees.

After seizing a 120-km (75-mile) swathe of land along the border, Turkey struck deals with the United States and Russia to keep the Kurdish militia out of that area.

Speaking to reporters on his flight home from a trip to Hungary, Erdogan said Turkey would only leave Syria once other countries have left as well, adding that the Turkish offensive would continue until all militants leave the area.

“We will not let up until every last terrorist leaves the region,” Erdogan said, referring to the YPG, the main component of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that Ankara views as a terrorist organization.

“We will not leave here until the other countries get out,” he was cited as saying by broadcaster NTV.

Ankara began its offensive after Trump announced an abrupt withdrawal of 1,000 US troops from northern Syria last month. The US president has since said that some troops will continue to operate there.

Under its deals with Washington and Moscow, Ankara paused its offensive in return for the withdrawal of the YPG fighters. While US and Russian officials have said the Kurdish fighters have left the region, Erdogan on Thursday accused Russia and the United States of not fulfilling their part.

With the deal Ankara struck with Moscow, Turkish and Russian troops have been holding joint patrols along the Turkish border with Syria. On Friday, the troops completed a third patrol, but a spokesman for the SDF said Turkish troops had used tear gas against some civilians protesting against the patrols.

“Turkish troops targeted civilians peacefully protesting against the patrols...with tear gas and injured 10 people,” said SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali on Twitter.

Turkey's defense ministry said in a statement that the third patrol was completed as planned along an 88-km route along the most easterly section of the border at a depth of 10 km. 

US visit

Turkey's European allies have said the offensive will hinder the battle against ISIS. Ankara has rejected the accusation, saying its allies should back its plans to resettle the majority of the 3.5 million Syrian migrants Turkey hosts.

Ibrahim Kalin, a top aide to Erdogan, said on Friday that the leaders of Germany, France, Britain and Turkey would meet on the sidelines of a NATO summit in London on December 3-4 to discuss the situation in Syria.

The talks in London will follow Erdogan’s November 13 visit to Washington, where he will meet Trump to discuss Syria, as well as repercussions of Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 defense systems, the threat of US sanctions, and the case of Turkish state lender Halkbank, which has been charged by USprosecutors with being part of a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade US sanctions on Iran.

Washington says the S-400s threaten its F-35 fighters jets, and has suspended Turkey from the F-35 program.

“We believe it will be beneficial to discuss certain issues that we tackled before and some that we did not during face-to-face talks on November 13,” Erdogan told reporters on his return flight from Hungary, according to NTV.

“Of course, we will discuss the safe zone in Syria and the return of refugees. We will discuss the S-400s, F-35s, our $100 billion trade volume issue. We will also discuss the battle with FETO and the Halkbank issue,” he said, referring to the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Ankara blames Gulen for orchestrating a 2016 failed coup, a charge he has denied, and has repeatedly demanded that Washington extradite him.

Turkish officials said earlier this week that Erdogan might call off the US visit in protest at votes by US lawmakers to seek sanctions on Turkey over its offensive into northeast Syria, and recognize mass killings of Armenians a century ago as genocide. The visit was later confirmed after a phone call between Erdogan and Trump on Wednesday.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/11/08/Erdogan-says-Turkey-will-not-leave-Syria-until-other-countries-pull-out.html

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Growing calls in Iran to abandon nuclear treaty, ambassador warns

7 Nov 2019

The Iranian government is under growing domestic pressure to pull out of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty next year, the country’s ambassador to the UK has said.

Hamid Baeidinejad said it was government policy to remain in the treaty but there were growing calls to pull out next year, when it is due for renewal, as it required Iran to make one-sided commitments.

“There are views by some circles, some personalities, that Iran has not benefited from membership of the [treaty] and it is time to withdraw,” he said, adding that Iran remained committed on religious grounds to not developing nuclear weapons.

Iran is a founding member of the treaty, which is aimed at achieving disarmament by nuclear-armed states. Three non-signatories – Israel, India and Pakistan – have nuclear weapons.

This week the Iranian government took a fourth step in reducing its adherence to its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which has been unravelling since Donald Trump withdrew the US from the deal last year and reimposed sanctions. Iran announced on Tuesday it was injecting uranium gas into centrifuges at its Fordow plant, a move that dramatically increases its enrichment capacity.

Baeidinejad said the advocates of withdrawal from the non-proliferation treaty asked why Iran should be submitting to UN atomic agency verification of its programme when other countries did not recognise Iran’s right under the treaty to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

The ambassador’s warning about the demands of hardliners within Iran could be taken as a signal to Europe not to respond to Iran’s recent actions by pulling out of the 2015 deal altogether.

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, has said the uranium enrichment at Fordow is the most serious breach yet of the deal. France, Germany and the UK are consulting on how to respond, including whether to trigger the deal’s dispute resolution mechanism, a step that could lead to a return of UN sanctions.

Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, showed Washington’s frustration at Europe’s reluctance to abandon the deal, saying in a statement: “It is now time for all nations to reject this regime’s nuclear extortion and take serious steps to increase pressure. Iran’s continued and numerous nuclear provocations demand such action.”

Baeidinejad urged Europe to do more to boost trade with Iran, even if it came at a cost, through secondary sanctions imposed by the US. “We cannot continue to implement the deal one-sidedly,” he said. “The latest measure is adopted as a warning sign that we are in a crisis. Our aim and objective is to implement the nuclear deal and not to lead to its collapse.”

He said it was not a good message for Europe to tell the rest of the international community that “we do not have control over our trade, economy and national security policies and cannot implement our policies due to the US.”

Full report at:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/07/growing-calls-in-iran-to-abandon-nuclear-treaty-ambassador-warns

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Israel’s Netanyahu appoints far-right Bennett as defense minister

8 November 2019

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed the head of a far-right political party as defense minister of his caretaker government, a spokesman for the premier’s right-wing Likud party said on Friday.

Naftali Bennett, who heads the New Right party, will take the defense portfolio from the right-wing Netanyahu, who has simultaneously served as premier and defense minister for nearly a year.

“The appointment will be brought to the government for approval at an upcoming government meeting,” the Likud spokesman said in a statement.

Israeli politics is deadlocked after two inconclusive elections this year. Former military chief Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party emerged neck and neck with Netanyahu following a September vote, and both leaders have struggled to put together a ruling coalition.

Gantz, who was asked by Israel’s president to forge a coalition after Netanyahu failed to do so, has less than two weeks left to form a government.

If he fails, the country could be headed towards an unprecedented third election although a smaller party might be given a chance before that.

Netanyahu has led a caretaker government throughout the political turmoil.

Bennett previously served in Netanyahu’s cabinet as education minister.

Netanyahu took over the defense portfolio following the resignation of then-chief Avigdor Lieberman, who in stepping down in November 2018 helped plunge the country towards snap elections in April.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/11/08/Israel-s-Netanyahu-appoints-far-right-Bennett-as-defense-minister.html

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Turkey says it will begin sending captured ISIS militants to home countries

8 November 2019

Turkey will begin to repatriate captured ISIS militants to their home countries as of Monday, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu was quoted as saying by state media on Friday.

Turkey has long criticized its European allies for refusing to take back ISIS fighters who are their citizens, and on Monday warned that Ankara would send captured extremists back to their countries even if their citizenships have been revoked.

“We are telling them: ‘We’ll repatriate these people to you’, and we are starting as of Monday,” the state-run Anadolu news agency quoted Soylu as saying.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/11/08/Turkey-says-it-will-begin-sending-captured-ISIS-militants-to-home-countries.html

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Twitter accounts push propaganda photos of Turkish soldiers

8 November 2019

As Turkish forces launched assault in northern Syria, social media users propagated images of Turkey’s soldiers hugging, cradling or feeding children.

But none of those images actually reflected the ongoing offensive in northern Syria. Some weren’t of Turkish soldiers. None of them were recent and some had been taken in other countries.

Experts say the false and misleading posts promoting Turkey appeared to get a boost from a coordinated network of Twitter accounts that amplified the content through trending hashtags and retweets.

The online campaign follows a pattern of social media propaganda that seeks to sway global opinion when controversial, international events erupt.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/media/digital/2019/11/08/Twitter-accounts-push-propaganda-photos-of-Turkish-soldiers.html

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Iran says case open on ex-FBI agent missing there on CIA job

9 November 2019

Iran is acknowledging for the first time it has an open case before its Revolutionary Court over the 2007 disappearance of a former FBI agent on an unauthorized CIA mission to the country.

In a filing to the United Nations, Iran said the case over Robert Levinson was “on going,” without elaborating.

The Associated Press obtained the text of the filing Saturday. Iran’s mission to the UN did not immediately respond to a request for comment and its state media has not acknowledged the case.

Iran’s Revolutionary Court typically handles espionage cases and others involving smuggling, blasphemy and attempts to overthrow its government. It wasn’t clear how long the case had been open.

On Monday the Trump administration offered a reward of up to $20 million for information about Levinson. Combined with a $5 million reward already in place from the FBI, this makes a total of $25 million available to the person or persons providing information about Levinson.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2019/11/09/Iran-says-case-open-on-ex-FBI-agent-missing-there-on-CIA-job.html

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FM Zarif says door still open to talks despite nuclear commitment cuts

Nov 9, 2019

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the country has left the door open for negotiations over the fate of the 2015 nuclear deal despite its decision to further scale back its nuclear commitments.

Speaking to IRIB on Friday night, Zarif referred to the country's recent decision to implement the fourth phase of reducing its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in reaction to the US' withdrawal from the deal and Europe's failure to fulfill its side of the bargain.

"We had made it clear that if the measures of other parties do not yield results, we'd take the next steps to decrease our JCPOA commitments," the top Iranian diplomat said upon arrival in Turkey to attend the 24th meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO).

"The [Iranian] president announced on the first day of scaling back the JCPOA commitments that we will continue the negotiations despite taking our steps within the framework of the JCPOA," he said, adding that Tehran started the talks from the very first day and "did not say no to negotiation."

"We will hold talks with those parties interested in preserving the JCPOA; the French will continue their consultations on the issue, and we will leave the door open for negotiation and understanding," Zarif noted.

The top Iranian diplomat's remarks came a couple of days after Iran restarted enrichment at its Fordow nuclear facility as the fourth step away from the 2015 accord.

The country had earlier reduced its commitments in three other phases, but the latest one, the injection of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas into centrifuges at Fordow, is believed to be the most important step so far, and a serious warning to other parties.

The nuclear deal was reached in Vienna in July 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 group of states -- the US, Britain, France, Russia, and China plus Germany. It lifted nuclear-related sanctions against Tehran, which, in turn, voluntarily changed some aspects of its nuclear energy program.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/11/09/610728/Zarif-JCPOA-door-open-talks-Europe

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Israel attacks Palestinian protesters; 69 injured

Nov 8, 2019

At least 69 Palestinians have been injured after Israeli forces attacked anti-occupation protesters in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Ashraf al-Qedra, a spokesman for the Gazan Health Ministry, said 29 of the wounded people sustained gunshot wounds during the Friday protests in the east of the coastal enclave.

Palestinians have been holding weekly rallies in the Gaza Strip since March 30 last year to protest against the more than decade-long siege imposed by the Israeli regime on the enclave and to stress the right to return of the Palestinians who have been driven out of their homeland by Israeli aggression since 1948.

At least 312 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since the start of the anti-occupation protest rallies. Over 18,000 Palestinians have also sustained injuries.

In March, a United Nations fact-finding mission found that Israeli forces committed rights violations during their crackdown against the Palestinian protesters in Gaza that may amount to war crimes.

Gaza has been under Israeli siege since June 2007, which has caused a decline in living standards.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/11/08/610707/Israel-attacks-Palestinian-protesters

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In video: Locals pelt Turkish forces with stones, shoes in Syria’s Hasakah

Nov 8, 2019

Dozens of people in Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah have vented their anger by throwing stones at Turkish military forces for their presence in the area following a cross-border incursion by Turkish army troops and their allied militants against militants from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that residents of the village of Dayr al-Ghosn pelted the armored military vehicles of Turkish troops with stones and shoes on Friday.

The report added that Turkish forces, in return, fired tear gas to quell the protest and disperse the crowd.

Separately, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that a young man had lost his life after a Turkish military vehicle ran him over in the village of Sarmsakh near the border with Turkey.

The Britain-based war monitor said villagers had gathered in an area to express their rejection of Turkish troops’ presence. The protesters threw stones, shoes and vegetables at the Turkish forces.

Medical sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Observatory that the young man arrived at al-Malikiyah Hospital in critical condition, and died there as a result of excessive internal bleeding. He also had his pelvis and most of his bones broken.

Also on Friday, Turkish and Russian militaries held the third round of joint patrols in the rural Qamishli area in northern Syria.

“Within the framework of the agreement reached with the Russian Federation in Sochi on Oct. 22, 2019; the third joint land patrol began with the participation of Turkish and Russian military elements and UAVs in the region between Qamishli and Derik in the east of Euphrates,” Turkey’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on Twitter.

T.C. Millî Savunma Bakanlığı

@tcsavunma

The third joint land patrol in which Turkish and Russian military elements participated with four vehicles each and UAVs in the region between Qamishli and Derik in the east of the Euphrates has been completed as planned.https://www.msb.gov.tr/en-US/Slide/8112019-26810 …#MSB #TSK

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4:51 PM - Nov 8, 2019

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On October 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a memorandum of understanding that asserted YPG militants must withdraw from the Turkish-controlled "safe zone" in northeastern Syria within 150 hours, after which Ankara and Moscow will run joint patrols around the area.

The announcement was made hours before a US-brokered five-day truce between Turkish and Kurdish-led forces was due to expire.

On October 9, Turkish military forces and Ankara-backed militants launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion of northeastern Syria in a declared attempt to push YPG militants from border areas.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/11/08/610696/pelt-Turkish-forces-stones-Syria-Hasakah

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Israeli farmers to quit Jordanian lands as 25-year lease expires

November 09, 2019

JERUSALEM: A deal dating from Israel’s historic 1994 peace treaty with Jordan allowing Israeli farmers to lease two sites along their common border runs out Sunday but the tenants say that nobody has told them what happens the day after.

In the peace negotiations, Jordan agreed to lease the lands to Israel for a 25-year renewable period, with the Hashemite kingdom retaining sovereignty.

One of the sites is Naharayim, a spit of land where the Jordan and Yarmuk rivers meet, which is called Baqura in Arabic.

The other location, deep in the Negev desert south of the Dead Sea, is known in Hebrew as Tzofar and in Arabic as Ghumar.

Notification

In October last year, Jordan’s King Abdullah said his country had notified Israel that it wants to take them back.

Now with the deadline only hours away, Idan Grinbaum, head of the Israeli regional council for the Jordan Valley, says Jordanian officials have told him that as of Saturday night, the Naharayim site will be out of bounds.

“As of this time no Israeli official has met with us or issued a letter on the topic,” he said in a statement to AFP.

Grinbaum said that since Abdullah’s October declaration “there were enough opportunities to change the decree but unfortunately that didn’t happen.”

The change would affect members of two agricultural communities who have been working the lands at hand for 70 years, “and feel that Israel has abandoned them,” he said.

“It’s very unfortunate that this is how we’re departing from the Island of Peace,” he said of Naharayim.

Asked by AFP for details, the Israeli Foreign Ministry sent the reply, “the agreement will expire on November 10th,” without elaborating.

1994 treaty

Since the heady days of the 1994 treaty, which made Jordan only the second country after Egypt to make peace with Israel, relations with Amman have been strained.

Opinion polls have repeatedly found that the peace treaty with Israel is overwhelmingly opposed by Jordanians, more than half of whom are of Palestinian origin.

In 2017, an Israeli Embassy security guard in Amman killed two Jordanians.

Three years earlier, an Israeli soldier at a border crossing killed a Jordanian judge he deemed a threat.

Just last month, Amman recalled its ambassador from Israel over the prolonged detention without trial in the Jewish state of two Jordanians.

Israel has not commented on the reasons for their imprisonment, though Israeli media have said they were detained on suspicion of security-related offenses.

They were freed and returned to Jordan on Wednesday and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the Jordanian ambassador would return shortly.

Private television station Channel 13 reported on Thursday that Netanyahu’s national security adviser, Meir Ben-Shabbat, had met on Monday in Amman with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi who told him there would be no extension to the Naharayim and Tzofar leases.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1581231/middle-east

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Europe

 

Detained Islamic State Members Turn to Europe’s Courts to Come Home

Nov. 8, 2019

Jessie Van Eetvelde was a Belgian supermarket cashier who heard the Muslim call to prayer on a vacation in Morocco 11 years ago and converted to Islam. Back home she married a Dutch Muslim man, and in 2014 the couple headed to Syria to join Islamic State’s self-professed holy war.

Today, Ms. Van Eetvelde is detained in a camp in northern Syria, a widow caring for her two toddlers. She says she just wants to go home. But her country doesn’t want her—and is fighting a legal battle to keep her out.

“We hope to get back,” she said in a WhatsApp voice recording she made for The Wall Street Journal. “That’s what we all wished from the beginning, but probably nobody cares about us.”

European governments have resisted taking back their nationals who joined Islamic State in Syria, despite repeated entreaties from the Trump administration. Now Europe’s courts are weighing in.

Cases brought by detainees or family members in German, French, Belgian and Dutch courts are seeking to force governments to bring them home. Most are widowed women and their children, although some cases involve male fighters now being held by Kurdish forces in Syria.

Turkey’s recent incursion into northern Syria to push back Kurds from the border allowed hundreds of people affiliated with Islamic State to escape, giving legal ammunition to lawyers fighting in Europe on their behalf. Detainees, the lawyers say, face a greater risk of execution now that the Syrian regime is allied with the Kurds running the camps, along with dire humanitarian conditions.

Ms. Van Eetvelde, a 41-year-old Antwerp native, and her two young boys are now detained at the al-Hol refugee camp in northern Syria. They are part of a legal action in a Belgian court that includes two other Belgian mothers and a wounded Islamic State fighter whose son is also in al-Hol.

“The situation is really bad to live here,” Ms. Van Eetvelde said in her message, using imperfect English. Al-Hol is a tent city housing over 70,000 people, many times the number it was intended to hold. “Hopefully we [will] win and can get back with the children and have a normal life.”

A court ruling is expected by the end of the month and could force the Belgian government to repatriate her and her sons, or else pay damages of €22,500 ($25,000) for each day of delay. “The money is not important,” said Ms. Van Eetvelde’s lawyer, Mohamed Ozdemir. “We can always negotiate that. What’s important is that they get home.”

Belgian courts have so far sided with the plaintiffs. A Brussels court on Oct. 30 ordered the government to repatriate a 23-year-old woman and her two children within 75 days; the government said it would appeal. In December, another court ordered Belgium to repatriate two mothers and their six children or pay €30,000 for each day of delay.

The government appealed and won on a technicality. The case has since been reopened because the eight are among those who fled a camp during Turkey’s offensive and, their lawyer says, are in mortal danger.

In both cases, the courts have largely agreed with the plaintiffs that the government was neglecting its citizens, particularly infants, under international human-rights laws, and must repatriate mothers with the children. The Belgian government’s official policy is to facilitate the repatriation of children under 10 years of age, but not their mothers.

Critics of such repatriations say Western societies are well-meaning but ill-equipped to deal with reintegrating Islamic State affiliates back into their societies and mitigating the risk of terrorist attacks. Europe is still reeling from a series of Islamic State attacks in France, Germany and Belgium in 2015-16 that were perpetrated by European nationals who returned from Syria.

“It is difficult enough in Belgium today as a Muslim immigrant to get the feeling of being accepted,” said Montasser AlDe’emeh, a researcher with Catholic University of Leuven. “In addition, security services don’t have enough resources to continuously monitor all returned people, including children who are growing up.”

Ms. Van Eetvelde’s lawyer, Mr. Ozdemir, has advised her to remain in al-Hol, as her chances of being repatriated are better if the court knows her location. Upon return, she could face up to five years in prison for participation in a terrorist organization—a charge she isn’t contesting. A member of her family has offered to care for her children, Mr. Ozdemir said. A judge would rule on custody only after Ms. Van Eetvelde returned.

Ms. Van Eetvelde said her conversion to Islam in Morocco began peacefully. “I heard the call to prayer and it gave me a warm feeling. Then I started searching about Islam,” she told the Journal in an interview in al-Hol in March.

Her years in Syria have been the opposite. Islamic State militants, and some wives, policed women’s outfits and would set their tents on fire if they weren’t observant enough, she said. She played down her husband’s role in Islamic State, as many wives do. She said he worked at a hospital and manned a checkpoint. “He had a bad back so he couldn’t do much. He never fought.”

The tide soon turned against Islamic State. By 2017, its de facto capital of Raqqa was under attack by U.S.-backed forces. As bombs fell, Ms. Van Eetvelde gave birth to her second son. Then her husband went missing. “Probably he died,” she said without emotion. “They haven’t seen his body, but he never came home.”

Women were pressured to remarry when their husbands were killed, but Ms. Van Eetvelde chose to live with other foreign widows and divorced women from Pakistan, Russia, France and Turkey. Food grew scarce as the caliphate shrank, and they learned to make flour from chicken feed, baking it into a crude flatbread.

“Every day I was waiting, when can I go out?” she said. Finally, she gathered €2,000 and paid a smuggler to get her past Islamic State fighters blocking roads out of the city. The smuggler stole her money, she said, but she and her children managed to escape Raqqa.

“I never felt comfortable from day one,” she said. “It was a nightmare.”

After the escape, she turned herself in to Kurdish forces, who took her and her children, now aged 2 and 4, to al-Hol, as they did most families of Islamic State fighters. She has renounced Islamic State but remains a practicing Muslim.

Among the thousands of European women and children in the camp are also dozens of Dutch wives and children of Islamic State fighters. They too are trying to force their government to repatriate them.

A court in The Hague on Nov. 1 heard a case that seeks the repatriation of 23 women and 55 children, most from al-Hol. The Dutch government earlier this year retrieved from the region two orphans, aged 2 and 4, but no adults. Dutch intelligence services in recent months have urged the government to repatriate citizens who joined Islamic State, rather than risk them traveling home undetected.

In Germany, a lower court ruled in July that the government must bring back a mother and her three children from a Kurdish-run refugee camp in Syria. But the government appealed and that legal battle continues. France, which has organized the repatriation of orphans, has also been sued for refusing to repatriate adults.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/detained-islamic-state-members-turn-to-europes-courts-to-come-home-11573209001?mod=hp_lead_pos10

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East Germany gripped by surging xenophobia, Islamopobia

liver Towfigh Nia 

08.11.2019

BERLIN

Germany marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall this week, but growing xenophobia and Islamophobia in especially formerly communist East Germany is seriously threatening the country's national security.

Three decades after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, German authorities are grappling with the rise of far-right ideology in the eastern part of the country.

The most damning evidence is the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which crept into the Bundestag in 2017; in parts of eastern Germany it is the most popular party.

The AfD is in fact riding a shocking rise of German Islamophobia and xenophobia. In its annual report on the state of German unity, the German government has warned that Eastern Germany's xenophobia represents a danger to social harmony.

Repeated attacks against refugee centers and Islamic centers in Eastern Germany are proof of the fact that these xenophobic violent acts are a serious danger to Germany's national security.

A case in point was the East Germany-based neo-Nazi terror cell the National Socialist Underground (NSU) which was involved in anti-foreigner killings from 2000-2007.

It took German authorities almost a decade to connect 10 murders against mostly Turkish business owners and trace them to the NSU, sparking an investigative committee in the German Parliament and a national outcry about authorities' blind spots to right-wing terrorism.

The NSU's racially motivated attacks still resonate to this day. Over the past week, high-level politicians from parties representing the whole German political spectrum have received death threats.

This past summer, one of those threats became reality when regional politician Walter Lubcke was gunned down in his home in central Germany. And in October, a right-wing extremist gunman killed two in the eastern city of Halle, after failing to gain entry into a synagogue to carry out a massacre on a Jewish holiday.

Deep-rooted Islamophobia

Around half of the German population has concerns about Islam, according to a recent study on democracy and religious tolerance. But what is the reason behind the negative feeling toward Islam felt by many?

While Germans are generally viewed as tolerant, their attitude toward Muslims is different. This is indicated by a study published by the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s ‘Religion Monitor’.

According to the research, the majority of German citizens (87%) are open to other world views.

But 52% perceive the religion of Islam as a threat. For Germans living in eastern states, the number of people who feel this way (57%) is higher than those in the west of the country where 50% view the religion as a threat.

"Obviously many people currently see Islam less as a religion than as a political ideology and therefore exclude it from religious tolerance," said the foundation's religion expert Yasemin El-Menouar.

In her view, social debates and media reports in recent years, which often put Islam in a negative light, have contributed to these attitudes.

El-Menouar said there was cause for concern because these fears over Islam can be exploited by far-right populist groups.

According to the "Weltanschauliche Vielfalt und Demokratie" (World View Diversity and Democracy) study, 30% of respondents in the east of Germany do not want Muslims as neighbors, compared to 16% in the west.

A country of over 81 million people, Germany is home to the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France. Among the country’s nearly 4.7 million Muslims, at least three million are of Turkish origin.

Why do East Germans feel this way?

According to Dresden-based political scientist Werner Patzelt, the reason for the concerns against Muslims can be traced back to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to keep the borders open during the height of the refugee crisis in 2016.

"As a whole, it's because of the immigration politics of Chancellor Merkel back in 2015," he said.

"Germany has had a significant Muslim minority for many years which was a Turkish minority, without significant problems. This was something that passed as normal and nothing to worry about."

However, Patzelt said when Merkel made the controversial decision to allow refugees and migrants to enter the country, German attitudes changed.

He said crimes reportedly committed by asylum seekers and refugees, such as the cases of sexual assault in Cologne in New Year 2015 "gave reason for widespread worries" which added fuel to the fire.

When it comes to eastern Germany, Patzelt said the region has never experienced significant immigration from Muslim countries before, and many people did not want it.

Protests, such as the anti-Islam Pegida demonstrations, which started in the eastern German city of Dresden in 2014, explicitly called for no Muslim immigration into Germany.

Patzelt said these protests "gave voice to many east Germans who have the same anti-Muslim sentiment".

However, because politicians dismissed these demonstrations, anger grew, said Patzelt.

This partly explains why far-right parties such as AfD have grown in support, particularly in eastern German regions.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/east-germany-gripped-by-surging-xenophobia-islamopobia-/1638996

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Morocco Worried About Return of ISIS Militants

7 November, 2019

Morocco’s Interior Ministry described the return of terrorist militants from hotbeds of tension in Syria, Iraq and Libya as “worrying” for the country and one of the most important challenges facing the concerned countries.

It stressed that efforts exerted in the Kingdom has enabled it to uncover 13 terrorist cells until late October that were working on recruiting young Moroccans to fight in areas where militant groups are active.

The Ministry issued a report and distributed it to members of its committee and the House of Representatives on the occasion of presenting the sub-budget for 2020.

According to the report, terrorism phenomena affects all the regions in the world and threatens the countries’ security and stability, including Morocco.

Terrorist organizations are calling on the returning militants to infiltrate their “home countries to carry out terrorist operations, the Ministry explained.

This contributes to targeting stability, disrupting the economic movement and encouraging the establishment of sleeper cells to revive the so-called ISIS “caliphate.”

The report noted that the Ministry has “continued to work during this year with the highest levels of vigilance and preparedness, contained in the national plan to combat terrorism, both at the level of the territorial administration and security interests.”

The Moroccan Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ) was able to dismantle a number of terrorist networks, including thwarting an ISIS affiliated terrorist group active in Morocco and Spain, the report added.

It said the Kingdom has accumulated a significant experience in the fight against extremism and terrorism, thanks to approaching a proactive and precautionary security policy in the fight against the terrorist threat.

In coordination with the security services in the field of combating terrorism, the Ministry pointed to adopting “a policy that changes according to the terrorist groups’ strategies taken.”

“These groups receive financial resources and continues to use extremist ideologies and violent speeches through social media and modern sites among the fragile population.”

In March, the Moroccan authorities deported a group of eight Moroccan nationals, who were in the conflict zones in Syria.

Full report at:

https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1980641/morocco-worried-about-return-isis-militants

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Kosovo Charges Man Returned From Syria With Fighting for IS

Nov. 7, 2019

PRISTINA, Kosovo — Kosovo prosecutors have filed terrorism charges against a man suspected of fighting with the Islamic State group in Syria.

A statement Thursday from the prosecutors' office said that, in July 2015, the man identified as A.M. went to neighboring North Macedonia and secured a false passport, then continued to Syria via Greece and Turkey.

He is accused of fighting as an IS member until Kurdish forces arrested him in July 2017.

He was among 110 Kosovo citizens repatriated from Syria in April with the assistance of the United States.

If convicted of terrorist acts, he could face a prison sentence of 10 years or more.

Full report at:

https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2019/11/07/world/europe/ap-eu-kosovo-terror-charges.html

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EU sees 'short window' to decide IS repatriations from Syria

07/11/2019

EU countries have a "short window" to decide whether to repatriate their nationals -- including hundreds of very young children -- held in camps in Syria after the defeat of the Islamic State group, MEPs heard Thursday.

A US troop withdrawal and subsequent Turkish military incursion into northeast Syria last month has injected urgency into the issue, the European Parliament lawmakers were told, in a session on the fate of children of foreign fighters.

Control of the camps is slipping as Kurdish SDF fighters formerly allied to the US become squeezed between the hostile Turkish and Syrian armies, raising the risk of those in the camps escaping, perhaps to Europe in some cases, or falling into the hands of President Bashar al-Assad's forces, they heard.

"There's a short window now, of perhaps one or several months, while the camps with family members of European foreign fighters are still under the control of the SDF," Christiane Hoehn, a senior EU counter-terrorism official told the committee.

The changed battlefield circumstances in Syria "have created new circumstances and this might need to lead to the need to redefine policy," she said.

This is feeding into a long-running debate over what to do with Europeans among the captured Islamic State (IS) group fighters and their families.

- No EU-wide approach -

There is no common, coordinated EU approach on the issue.

Instead each EU country is trying to balance its legal obligations towards its citizens against the danger posed by bringing hardcore IS militants back home, often without enough admissable evidence to lock them up for any significant period.

Deadly attacks in Europe in the past few years claimed by IS -- including those in Belgium, Britain, France and Germany in 2015 and 2017 that killed more than 290 people -- have reinforced resistance to repatriation.

But the question of what to do with children of IS fighters, viewed as victims more than as threats, has become sensitive and tricky.

EU countries have already brought back orphans and unaccompanied minors from the camps in Syria. But they are loath to do so for mothers -- some deeply radicalised -- who refuse to relinquish custody of their offspring.

- 750 European children -

Around 700 to 750 children with European links are being held in the northeast Syria camps, with 300 of them said to be French, a UNHCR human rights official, Marie-Dominique Parent, told the MEPs.

She added that half of the minors of all foreign nationalities -- most of them of Iraqi descent -- in those camps were under age five.

"Other figures seen, not only for the northeast of Syria, include around 200 children from the Netherlands, around 160 from Belgium and 60 from the UK," she said.

"Germany and Sweden are also reported to have significant numbers of detainees but I have not seen the figures of the number of children."

Paul Van Tighelt, head of the threat analysis unit in Belgium's OCAM anti-terrorist agency, noted that the biggest danger in Europe was from extremist "lone actors", of both the religious and the far-right varieties.

Full report at:

https://www.france24.com/en/20191107-eu-sees-short-window-to-decide-is-repatriations-from-syria

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ISIS claims deadly attack on Tajik border post

8 November 2019

The ISIS group on Friday claimed responsibility for a deadly attack against a Tajik border post, not far from the capital Dushanbe, this week.

“By the grace of Allah the Almighty, the soldiers of the Caliphate attacked a border guard post of the Tajik apostates in the Ishkobod area, near the Tajik-Uzbek border,” the ISIS group said in a statement released online.

Tajik authorities said on Wednesday that 15 militants were killed during an attack on a border post that officials blamed on members of the ISIS group who crossed over from Afghanistan.

The overnight assault also left a soldier and policeman dead, authorities in the ex-Soviet republic said.

The ISIS group claimed that its fighters had killed 10 soldiers in the clashes.

In a separate statement, Amaq, the ISIS propaganda agency, said that all the ISIS attackers were killed but did not specify how many or where they had come from.

Tajikistan’s interior ministry insisted on Friday that the attack was perpetrated by ISIS fighters - “mostly citizens of Tajikistan” - who had crossed into the country from Afghanistan.

Before the ISIS group claimed the attack a spokesman for Afghanistan’s defense ministry said that it did not believe the event which happened near Tajikistan’s border with Uzbekistan had anything to do with Afghanistan.

Tajik authorities also said five attackers had been captured.

Citing the confession of a detained attacker, the Tajik border guard service said the group crossed from Afghanistan in darkness on Sunday into the Tajik district of Qabodiyon.

“All of them are members of the ISIS,” the border guard service said.

But the Tajik authorities’ claims and official photos from the scene were also greeted with skepticism from Tajikistan experts.

“There are dozens of questions,” Daniil Kislov, director of the Moscow-based Fergana News agency which covers Central Asia and Afghanistan, told AFP before the ISIS group claimed the attack.

“Where did the attackers find cars, which had Tajik number plates?

“If they stole them, who were the victims (of the theft)? You can go on and on,” said Kislov.

Tajikistan, a poor mountainous country of nine million people bordering Afghanistan and China, has been hit by conflicts since it gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/11/08/ISIS-claims-deadly-attack-on-Tajik-border-post-.html

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French Muslims experience racism 2-3 times national average

Nov 8, 2019

Ramin Mazaheri

A new poll reveals that in the past five years Muslims in France have been subjected to discrimination at rates more than two to three times the national average.

42% of French Muslims have experienced discrimination since 2014, compared to a national average of 17%. A whopping 60% of women who wear a head covering have been victimized.

Despite anti-discrimination laws, racism is most often found in public services such as in education, health care, administration and especially in dealings with the police. In the private sector job interviews and housing are the main areas of anti-Muslim actions.

The demonization of Muslims and Islam is not only dangerous, inaccurate and immoral, but serves as an obvious distraction from widespread anti-government social unrest, in what some refer to as a tactic of “Islamo-diversion”.

Amid calls for a general strike to oppose President Emmanuel Macron’s radical and unpopular pension changes, the government has stoked the flames of Islamophobia. Anti-Muslim incidents go uncriticized, if not excused, and thus continue to increase.

The government has also chosen now to turn to the far-right on immigration, earning condemnation from Amnesty International for provoking a “dangerous” climate of xenophobia.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/11/08/610721/France-Muslims-Racism

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Russia urges UK to clarify whether founder of White Helmets had links to al-Qaeda

Nov 8, 2019

Russia has called upon the United Kingdom to clarify whether the founder of the so-called civil defense group White Helmets had any affiliation to al-Qaeda terrorist group.

“Let us take a look at who created this structure ... It is known for a fact that one of the White Helmets' founders was James Le Mesurier. He is a former UK intelligence officer, specifically of MI6 [foreign intelligence service],” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a press briefing in Moscow on Friday.

This coincidence is unlikely to be a random one, she noted.

Sputnik

@SputnikInt

Moscow urges London to clarify whether founder of 'White Helmets' had links to al-Qaedahttp://sptnkne.ws/AsFU

Moscow Urges London to Clarify Whether Founder of 'White Helmets' Had Links to Al-Qaeda

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The comment comes in the aftermath of a statement by the UK Foreign Office's Minister for the Middle East, Andrew Murrison, in which he claimed that the White Helmets was subjected...

sputniknews.com

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"This man has been spotted in many conflicts worldwide, including in the Balkans and the Middle East ... Moreover, a number of researchers point to the links of this former spy to terrorist organisations back when he worked in Kosovo. There is data suggesting that there were al-Qaeda members among his team there," Zakharova added.

Last week, Zakharova said White Helmets were coordinating their activities with terrorists, seeking to stage new chemical weapons incidents in Syria.

“Their goal clearly is to undermine the political process,” she said at the time, citing data that the Syrian government provides to the United Nations on a regular basis.

On September 18, Director of the Fund for Research of Problems of Democracy Maxim Grigoryev said the White Helmets had deliberately executed women and children for the purpose of disseminating false information about the situation in Syria.

“White Helmets, who style themselves as a non-governmental organization, systematically release vast amounts of false information about Syria,” Russia’s TASS news agency quoted Grigoryev as saying in Paris then.

He added, “Thorough verification of all information allowed us to completely refute false information about chemical attacks, of which those disinformers regularly accuse the Syrian authorities.”

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/11/08/610711/Russia-UK-White-Helmets

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South Asia

 

Airstrikes kill 33 Taliban, ISIS militants in 3 provinces

08 Nov 2019

A series of airstrikes killed 33 militants of Taliban and ISIS Khurasan groups in Nangarhar, Helmand and Kandahar provinces in the past 24 hours.

The military officials said Friday an airstrike killed 11 militants of ISIS Khurasan group in Deh Bala district of Nangarhar province.

The officials further added a similar airstrike in Deh Bala district of Nangarhar killed 11 Taliban militants while another airstrike in Sherzad district of the province destroyed a car bomb of ISIS Khurasan group.

An airstrike in Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand killed 3 Taliban militants and destroyed a small cache of weapons, the officials said, adding that airstrikes in Lashkargah district of the province killed 5 more Taliban militants.

The officials also added that an airstrike in Registan district of Kandahar killed 3 Taliban militants.

https://www.khaama.com/airstrikes-kill-33-taliban-isis-militants-in-3-provinces-04313/

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Special Forces Kill 11 Taliban Militants; Destroy Caches Of Weapons In 3 Provinces

08 Nov 2019

The Afghan Special Forces killed 11 Taliban militants and destroyed multiple caches of weapons during the operations in Helmand, Uruzgan and Nimroz provinces.

The Special Forces killed 5 of the militants and destroyed a cache of weapons in Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province, the military officials said earlier today.

The officials further added that the Special Forces killed 6 Taliban militants, arrested another militant and destroyed a cache of weapons in Tarin Kot district of Uruzgan.

The Special Forces confiscated a large amount of narcotics belonging to Taliban in Khash Rod district of Nimroz, the officials said, adding that the Special Forces destroyed a cache of weapons during a patrol in Tarin Kot district of Uruzgan.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/special-forces-kill-11-taliban-militants-destroy-caches-of-weapons-in-3-provinces-04315/

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Remote-controlled bomb defused in Kabul city

08 Nov 2019

The Afghan forces defused a remote-controlled bomb in Kabul city earlier today, the Kabul Police Headquarters said.

According to a statement released by Kabul Police, the militants had planted the bomb close to Bot Khak roundabout in the 12th district of the city.

The statement further added that the the police forces defused the bomb with the help of Explosives Ordinance Disposal team of the National Directorate of Security.

Taliban militants and other groups often use improvised explosive devices as the weapon of their choice to target the security personnel and government officials.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/remote-controlled-bomb-defused-in-kabul-city-04314/

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Africa

 

U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Leader of Mali Islamist Militant Group

Nov. 7, 2019

WASHINGTON — The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on a leader of an al Qaeda-linked Islamist militant group in Mali and warned the influence of Islamic State in West Africa was on the rise even as it lost territory elsewhere.

The U.S. Treasury Department blacklisted Amadou Koufa, a Salafist preacher and a leader of Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), an al Qaeda affiliate in the Sahel region.

French officials last year had said the militant leader had died in a raid in the former French colony, but he appeared in a propaganda video in February.

U.S. sanctions block any assets Koufa may have under U.S. control and bar any persons or entities in the United States from any dealings or transactions with him.

Northern and central Mali saw an increase in "widespread terrorist activity" in 2018, according to the U.S. State Department's annual global terrorism report.

"ISIS is an increasing threat in places like Afghanistan, in places like West Africa, Southeast Asia - there's an active ISIS presence there as well," a senior State Department official said on Thursday.

Islamic State, which declared itself a so-called "caliphate" in 2014, lost control in 2017 of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, and quickly thereafter almost all of its territory as a result of operations by U.S.-backed forces. Its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed last month in Syria in a raid by U.S. special forces.

U.S. officials in July added two other leaders of an al Qaeda affiliate in Mali to its global terrorism list.

https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2019/11/07/world/africa/07reuters-usa-mali.html

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10 Nigerian troops killed in militant ambush

November 07, 2019

Kano, Nigeria: At least 10 Nigerian soldiers have been killed and nine severely injured in an ambush by suspected Boko Haram fighters in restive northeast Nigeria, military sources said Thursday.

Another 12 soldiers were missing after a column of troops on patrol was ambushed by the extremists on Wednesday in Damboa district of Borno state, a military officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“We lost 10 troops in the intense fighting with the terrorists who ambushed our soldiers conducting a clearance operation in the area,” said the officer, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorised to speak about the incident.

“Nine soldiers were injured and 12 are still missing.”

The decade-long extremist insurgency in northeast Nigeria has killed 35,000 people, displaced two million others and spilt into neighbouring countries.

The troops came under attack while returning to their base in Damboa, 88km from the state capital Maiduguri, said a second military officer who gave the same casualty toll.

The area of the attack is on the edge of the Sambisa Forest which is a stronghold of the Boko Haram faction led by long-time leader Abubakar Shekau.

Soldiers were forced to withdraw after an hour-long battle in which nine extremists were also killed, said the second source.

Full report at:

https://gulfnews.com/world/africa/10-nigerian-troops-killed-in-militant-ambush-1.67675659

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Sudan needs up to $5 billion in budget support to prevent collapse

November 08, 2019

KHARTOUM: Sudan needs up to $5 billion in budget support to avert economic collapse and launch reforms after the ouster of veteran ruler Omar Al-Bashir, its finance minister told Reuters.

The country, in crisis since losing most of its oil wealth with South Sudan’s secession in 2011, has only enough foreign currency reserves to fund imports for a few weeks, said Ibrahim Elbadawi, part of a transitional government formed in August.

Sudan has had some support for fuel and wheat imports but about 65 percent of its 44 million people live in poverty and it needs up to $2 billion in development funding along with a hoped-for $2 billion from Arab development funds, he said.

Outlining reform plans in detail for the first time, Elbadawi said public salaries would need to be increased and a social support network established to prepare for the painful removal of fuel and food subsidies.

Months of demonstrations over price hikes for fuel and bread and cash shortages triggered the uprising against Bashir, who was toppled in April by the military. Protests have continued since, with people killed in clashes with security forces.

“We have started the process (of reforms),” Elbadawi said in an interview on Thursday. “The people of Sudan deserve to be seen in a radically different prism than the international community used to see Sudan, as a country ruled by a pariah state.”

“Now we have a revolution,” he said. Asked how much budget support was needed for 2020 he said: “Some estimates say between three to four billion (US dollars), maybe even five billion.”

The civilian government Elbadawi is part of has taken over for three years under a power-sharing deal with the military. It has drawn slightly more than half of $3 billion in support for imports of wheat and fuel offered by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates in April, he said.

A “friends of Sudan” donor meeting is planned for December and the government had agreed with the United States it could start engaging with international institutions while still on a list of countries deemed sponsors of terrorism, Elbadawi said.

The designation, which dates from allegations in 1993 that Bashir’s Islamist government supported terrorism, makes it technically ineligible for debt relief and financing from the IMF and World Bank. Congress needs to approve a removal.

CURRENCY

The first experts from international institutions had arrived in Khartoum to help with reforms and a delegation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would come this month for Chapter IV discussions, Elbadawi said. There was no immediate comment from the IMF, World Bank or US State Department.

Part of a roadmap agreed with the IMF and World Bank was that Sudan did not have to pay back $3 billion in arrears from international institutions.

“We don’t need to pay anything. What we need to ... deliver really is policy,” he said. Sudan is one of the most indebted countries, owing $60 billion, which needs to be settled separately.

Sudan would start to increase its tax base and overhaul the civil sector, Elbadawi said. Salaries — eroded by double digit inflation rates — could be raised as much as 100 percent by April.

In the second half of next year a social support network would be set up to allow the lifting of subsidies by June or later. Some donor funding would be used to collect data to allow cash transfers for the needy.

Sudan also wanted to produce bread based on sorghum, a local cereal, to import less wheat. He said he hoped a spread between official and black market would be ended by June. But this week the local pound dropped to 80 for a dollar on the black market versus the official rate at 45.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1580996/middle-east

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Burkina Faso’s leader calls for unity against terrorism

James Tasamba  

08.11.2019

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso’s president urged citizens Thursday to remain courageous and unite against terrorist groups, which have recently stepped up deadly attacks on civilians and security forces.

Roch Marc Kabore’s call in a televised address came a day after a deadly attack that left dozens dead and many wounded.

“I call on Burkinabe people from within the country and outside to unite and mobilize regardless of religion, ethnicity, political opinion, in the fight against terrorism,” he said.

The president said he had ordered the recruitment of defense volunteers in areas under threat, stressing that “only a general mobilization of sons and daughters of the nation” can defeat the murderers.

Noting that the attacks were aimed at generating fear among the people and destabilizing the country’s democracy, Kabore said the defense and security forces would hunt down the terrorists and all their accomplices.

At least 37 people were killed and more than 60 wounded Wednesday in an attack on a convoy transporting local employees of Canadian mining company Semafo in eastern Burkina Faso, authorities said.

The ambush by "unidentified armed individuals" took place in the morning, Saidou Sanou, the governor of Est Region, said in a statement.

The attack took place between Semafo’s Fada and Boungou mine sites, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Boungou, according to a statement by the company.

Five buses were being escorted by the military when they were ambushed leading to several fatalities and injuries, the company said.

The president has declared three days of national mourning beginning Friday.

“During these 72 hours, I invite each Burkinabe to recollection and introspection, to strengthen his faith in unity, cohesion and peace in our country,” he said.

The attack is seen as the deadliest since Muslim extremists became active in the country in 2015.

Three militant groups have been creating havoc in the country’s north and east.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/burkina-faso-s-leader-calls-for-unity-against-terrorism/1638917

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