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Islamic World News ( 15 Feb 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Valentine's Day, ‘A Day of Infidels': Taliban’s Morality Police Ban Celebrations

New Age Islam News Bureau

15 February 2023

 

A poster on the window of a shop in Kabul. AFP

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• Kerala Temple Decides To Drop a Signboard Disallowing Muslims at Its Annual Festival

• Muslim Claims Southwest Airlines Fired Him from BWI Job Over A Request to Attend Friday Prayers

• Houthi-Run Military Court Sentences Yemeni Defence Minister, 29 Officers to Death In Absentia

• Tunisia’s Ennahda Condemns Systematic Abuse of Critics amid Political Crisis

 

South Asia

• Afghanistan: Several Killed As Taliban Raids Islamic State Khorasan Province Hideout In Kabul

• As Taliban Settle In, Kabul’s Green Zone, a Diplomatic Enclave, Comes Back To Life

• More than 4000 Afghans Returned to Country from Iran

• ISIS to Take the Lead in Conducting Terror Attacks in Afghanistan: George Mason Report

• Afghan Taliban show willingness to address TTP issue

• Taliban forces kill 3 Daesh members in raid on Kabul building

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India

• Gujarat High Court Fines Petitioners Opposing Sale Of Shop To Muslim Man In Hindu Locality

• Bihar CM Expresses Displeasure over JD (U) Leader, Ghulam Rasool Balyawi’s Demand for Muslim Quota in Army

• Legal Panel to Take Call on Releasing Long-Term Muslim Prisoners: TN Minority Minister

• NIA raids across Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu in blast cases

• Centre sends life-saving medicines to earthquake-hit Turkey, Syria

• Telangana: Tehreek Muslim Shabban Seeks Eight Pc Reservations To Muslims Before Polls

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North America

• Biden Pulls Human Rights Candidate, James Cavallaro, Over Anti-Israel Comments

• Library of Congress to Highlight Muslim Slave and Scholar with $2.5 Million Grant

• Muslim, Christian, Jewish Leaders in US Pray For Earthquake Victims in Türkiye, Syria

• US may send seized Iranian weapons intended for Yemen’s Houthis to Ukraine: Report

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Mideast

• Iran, China Sign 20 Cooperation Pacts as Xi Hosts Rayeesi in Beijing

• Extremist Minister: Building New Settlements In Palestinian Territories Is ‘Israel’s Mission And Doctrine’

• Turkiye’s Erdogan vows to rebuild after quake, rescue work winds down

• Israel exports oil for first time with cargo heading to Europe

• Israeli finance minister rejects US criticism on settlements

• Rescuers pull seven survivors from ruins eight days after Turkey quake

• Israel sentences soldier who assaulted Palestinian activist to 10 days in prison

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Africa

• Jordan’s FM to visit Syria, Turkey to show solidarity after devastating quake

• Uganda’s president offers his condolences to Türkiye, Syria over deadly quakes

• South Africans donating generously for earthquake victims in Türkiye, says envoy

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Pakistan

• Peshawar ATC Acquits Activist Gulalai Ismail’s Parents in Peshawar’s 2013 All Saints Church Attack Sedition Case

• Sharif visits Turkish Embassy to express solidarity with quake victims

• Counter-terrorism forces thwart TTP attack, kill four militants in N. Waziristan

• US Delegation to Visit Pakistan to ‘Repair’ Diplomatic Relations

• Cop injured in terrorist attack in Pakistan’s KP

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Southeast Asia

• Nahdlatul Ulama at 100: Opportunities and Challenges

• Family seeks answers for Malaysia’s missing pastor

• Companies and banks the next target for cheap Rahmah meals

• Japan PM expresses concern over Israel-Palestine tensions

• China, Iran impervious to US unease about growing ties: China daily

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Europe

• Blinken, UN Chief Discuss Humanitarian Access In Quake-Hit Syria

• NATO to send over 1,000 containers to Türkiye for housing earthquake survivors

• Britain’s King Charles meets Turkiye-Syria earthquake volunteers

• Greek rescuers praise quake survivors in Turkish province for welcoming them wholeheartedly

• Over 100 Bulgarians take part in rescue work after deadly quakes in Türkiye

• Quake disaster turns waters disputed between Türkiye, Greece into channels of brotherhood

• Spanish rescue teams praise Turkish people's 'extraordinary solidarity' during search efforts

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Arab World

• February 14 Revolution: Top Bahraini Cleric Calls On Nation to Amplify Efforts for Change

• Saudi project clears 1,387 Houthi mines in Yemen

• At UN, China calls for sanctions on quake-hit Syria to be lifted

• In Idlib, Syrians pick up pieces alone after earthquake

• Qatar Donates World Cup Mobile Homes to Turkey Earthquake Survivors

• Gulf countries raise $385 million in donations for quake victims in Türkiye, Syria

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:   https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/valentine-infidels-morality-taliban/d/129113

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 Valentine's Day, ‘A Day of Infidels': Taliban’s Morality Police Ban Celebrations

 

A poster on the window of a shop in Kabul. AFP

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Sandeep Sharma

February 14, 2023

Kabul: Taliban’s morality police banned Valentine’s Day celebrations across Afghanistan, leaving florists with wilting bouquets of red roses and street vendors heartbroken in the Afghan capital on Tuesday.

According to reports, last year too people celebrated a low-key Valentine’s Day across the country. That was the first time since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.

Valentine’s Day is ‘not Islamic’

“Whilst the rest of the world celebrates love today, #ValentinesDay has been BANNED by the Taliban. The Taliban’s morality police are patrolling streets & have put up their posters at every shop. Heart-breaking to see how dark life has become for the people of Afghanistan,” former Policy Advisor to Minister for Afghan Resettlement & Minister for Refugees Shabnam Nasimi tweeted.

Although Valentine’s Day has never been generally observed in Afghanistan, some affluent city dwellers have started a practise in recent years to commemorate the holiday.

In the Flower Street in Afghanistan’s Kabul, shops were full of heart-shaped garlands and red stuffed animals, but hopelessly empty of customers, news agency AFP reported.

Not just that, a poster — signed off by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice — on the window of one outlet warned shoppers, “Avoid celebrating lovers’ day!”

It further stated that Valentine’s Day “is not Islamic and is not part of the Afghan culture but a sloganeering day of the infidels”.

“Celebrating the day of lovers is showing sympathy to the Christian Pope,” the poster read.

Police Patrolling

As per the AFP report, officers from the ministry patrolled the area in their white uniforms, trailed by an armed escort.

“(The Taliban authorities) published and distributed their order to every shop… I don’t think I could sell these flowers today, people aren’t buying… You can see we have no customers — the situation is very bad,” a local said.

Another local added, “The situation has changed — we can’t celebrate it like other years… But we do celebrate it. There are some restrictions and the situation is not good, but we celebrate it at home.”

Not just this time, last year too Taliban officials marched through the flower-decorated streets in Kabul on February 14. However, they did not stop Valentine’s Day sales last year, according to reports.

Last year, they directed the shopkeepers to keep it low-key and told some of them to avoid giving interviews.

Taliban takeover

Since taking control of the government in August 2021, the Taliban authorities have imposed a number of limitations on social life in the nation.

Music, social media apps and video games have all come under scrutiny by the ultra-conservative government. The authorities have particularly cracked down on Afghan women, effectively squeezing them out of public life.

Source: Firstpost

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

https://www.firstpost.com/world/valentines-day-not-islamic-a-sloganeering-day-of-infidels-taliban-ban-celebrations-12154272.html

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Kerala Temple Decides To Drop a Signboard Disallowing Muslims at Its Annual Festival

 

The controversial signboard prohibiting Muslims from entering the temple premises

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K.M. Rakesh   |   Bangalore 

15.02.23

A temple committee in Kerala has decided to drop a signboard disallowing Muslims at its annual festival following a controversy as most places of worship in the state do not have any such restrictions.

The committee that governs Malliyottu Palottukavu at Payyannur in Kannur district decided on Monday to drop the signboard that is installed before the five-day annual festival held in April each year.

The decision coincided with Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan reminding Union home minister Amit Shah about the communal harmony in his state compared with neighbouring Karnataka, which has been a hub of violent communal disturbances.

Vijayan’s retort followed Shah cautioning the people of Karnataka that “there is Kerala near you; I don’t want to say much” in his poll pitch at a BJP rally. His allusion was to the presence of some radical Muslims in Kerala. The remarks triggered a huge controversy and protests in Kerala where CPM leaders demanded an apology from Shah over his attempt to stereotype an entire state and its people.

“People of all faiths live peacefully in Kerala. Is that the situation in Karnataka? Christians and other minority communities have faced several attacks in Karnataka. But there is no communal disturbance in Kerala,” Vijayan had said in his counter to Shah’s remarks.

The Palottukavu temple drew flak last year when a board stating “Muslims have no entry during the festival” appeared outside its premises.

While it has been a practice for several decades, the board received a lot of flak after some social media users came out against isolating one community, that too when people from all sections donate money for the various cultural events at the festival.

“We took a decision that this board would have no place in a temple whose traditions are secular,” a temple committee member, who declined to be named based on the longstanding practice of all media statements coming from the patriarch of the shrine, told The Telegraph on Tuesday.

The temple is renowned for its Theyyam, a secular ritualistic dance commonly performed in the north Kerala districts of Kannur and Kasaragod where the characters are believed to possess divine attributes during the performance.

Several Hindu shrines in the two districts even have several variants of Mappila (Muslim) Theyyam, which is seen as an example of communal harmony. 

The bordering southern Karnataka district of Dakshina Kannada also has a similar tradition known as “Bhoota Kola”, portrayed in the recent Kannada film Kaantara.

“Although members of all communities have been freely participating in the festival held on the premises of the temple, such a board expressly prohibiting one community is an insult to them. So we decided such a practice won’t have any place in our temple any more,” the temple functionary said.

The issue of allowing entry to Muslims for the temple festival has already led to an arrest on Monday. Local police arrested Sangh parivar supporter Kaliyadan Prakashan, 46, over his Facebook post on the issue. He was booked under penal sections for trying to foment communal disturbances and rioting and sent to 14-day judicial remand.

CPM area secretary of Payyannur, K. Padmanabhan, said the practice of prohibiting Muslims started several decades ago.

“Such inhumane practices don’t have any place in Kerala, especially since it is a festival where several secular cultural programmes and fairs are held each year,” he told this newspaper.

The CPM had intervened in the matter when it became a hotly discussed issue last year.

“Everyone should follow the example set by this temple since humanity is way above any manmade divisions,” he added.

While temples such as the Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple are among the few that still do not allow entry to non-Hindus, a majority of Hindu temples in Kerala have no such restrictions.

The Sabarimala temple has been a stellar example where devotees first pray at the Vavar Mosque of Vavarswamy before entering the hill shrine of Swamy Ayyappan.

Source: Telegraph India

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

https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/kerala-temple-to-remove-no-muslim-signboard/cid/1916570

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Muslim Claims Southwest Airlines Fired Him from BWI Job Over A Request to Attend Friday Prayers

 

Baggage handlers unload a Southwest Airlines flight at Dallas Love Field on Jan. 7.(Smiley N. Pool / Staff Photographer)

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By Mark A. Kellner

February 14, 2023

A Maryland Muslim who says Southwest Airlines fired him from a ramp agent position at Baltimore-Washington International Airport over a request to attend Friday prayers has asked the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to take up his case.

Justin Mavins, who also goes by Dauwd Mavins, said in the complaint he was terminated after one month on the job because of his “sincerely held religious belief” that attendance at the 30-minute Friday prayer services was mandatory.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights and advocacy group, filed the EEOC complaint on Mr. Mavins’ behalf.

“All workers have the constitutionally-guaranteed right to reasonable religious accommodation in the workplace,” CAIR staff attorney Zanah Ghalawanji said in a statement. “We will protect the religious rights of American Muslims and all those who seek to practice their religious beliefs while at work.”

The Mavins complaint comes as the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments this spring in another workplace-related religious accommodation case.

Gerald Groff, a longtime U.S. Postal Service employee who is a Christian, is challenging that organization’s refusal to accommodate his need for Sundays off as a day of worship.

Mr. Groff’s case seeks to overturn a 1977 ruling which said employers only have to provide accommodation with minimal impact on operations.

Mr. Mavins said he began working for the airline on Nov. 28 at BWI. He said he was scheduled to work from 5:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. on Dec. 16, a Friday, a move that would cause him to miss the prayer service that he believes is a religious obligation.

An initial exchange of emails with the carrier’s labor relations team suggested he could get an accommodation to attend the weekly worship service. The following day, however, Mr. Mavins was told by a supervisor the accommodation would not be granted.

Mr. Mavins responded by taking personal days off to fulfill his religious obligation, but that ran into trouble on Dec. 22, when the airline declared a “state of emergency” due to massive scheduling woes that snarled flights for days and stranded thousands of customers, many of them separated from their luggage.

Employees were informed the company will deny all requests for personal absences and those agents who do not work their shifts will be terminated.

The complaint quoted Mr. Mavins as saying he “called out” from work on Dec. 23 “due to my religious obligation.”

Southwest terminated him five days later for having failed “to pass probation.”

A termination letter quoted a Southwest manager as saying, “I regret to inform you that observations of your attendance have led us to conclude that you are not suitable for this job.”

The Washington Times has contacted Southwest Airlines for comment but did not get a reply by early Tuesday evening.

Source: Washington Times

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

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/feb/14/muslim-claims-southwest-airlines-fired-him-bwi-job/

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Houthi-Run Military Court Sentences Yemeni Defence Minister, 29 Officers to Death In Absentia

 

A Houthi fighter opens fire into the air from a machine gun mounted on a military truck as they parade during a gathering of Houthi loyalists on the outskirts of Sanaa, Yemen July 8, 2020. (REUTERS)

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Saeed Al-Batati

February 14, 2023

AL-MUKALLA: A Houthi-run military court in Yemen’s capital Sanaa has sentenced in absentia Defence Minister Lt. Gen. Mohsen Al-Daeri and 29 military officers to death on charges of cooperating with the militia’s opponents, including the coalition to establish legitimacy in Yemen.

The Central Military Court in Sanaa ordered the execution of 30 military officers, their expulsion from the army, and the confiscation of their property inside and outside the country.

It is the latest addition to the long list of death sentences handed out to hundreds of lawmakers, military and security officials, activists and journalists who have defied Houthi authority in joining Yemen’s internationally recognized government.

Yemeni observers warn that the Houthis are using the legal system in Sanaa and other regions under their control to legitimize the stealing of opponents’ property.

Dozens of seized homes, villas and apartments belonging to Yemeni government officials and activists have been converted into covert incarceration facilities or sold by the Houthis.

In the central province of Marib, the militia reportedly blew up six homes belonging to tribal leaders and other government supporters over the weekend.

The Yemeni Network for Rights and Freedoms said that the Houthis demolished four homes owned by a local tribesman, Ahmed Naser Al-Jahami, in Marib’s Al-Zoor, as well as two additional buildings owned by other people in Serwah.

The rights group sharply criticized the Houthi demolitions and urged international human rights organizations and UN bodies to “name and shame” as well as prosecute militia officials for targeting opponents’ homes.

“This is not the first crime perpetrated by the Houthi militia against Yemenis who defy their racial and sectarian vision, nor will it be the last. Rather, it is part of a series of deliberate and coordinated terrorist acts committed practically every day by the Houthi militia,” the organization said.

It added that the Houthis have blown up 816 Yemeni homes in numerous Yemeni districts since their armed seizure of power in Yemen in late 2014.

“The looting and bombardment of civilian residences by the Houthi militia constitutes war crimes under international agreements and treaties,” the organization added.

Muammar Al-Eryani, Yemen’s information minister, said that the bombing of Yemeni homes, mostly those owned by pro-government figures, shows that the Houthis are “not serious” about achieving peace in Yemen.

“The Houthi militia blowing up homes of its opponents, in Marib and other areas, reflects its position on calls for deescalation and a truce,” the minister tweeted, adding that the demolitions shows that the militia are a “tool for killing and destruction and cannot be a real partner in building peace.”

He added: “It reveals its real face as a terrorist organization.”

Other Yemenis also condemned the Houthi demolitions. “Nothing, not even military necessity, could justify blowing up six homes in Serwah. This demonstrates the Houthi hate, hostility and extremism against people,” Adnan Al-Jabrny, a Marib-based journalist, tweeted.

International mediators, including UN Yemen envoy Hans Grundberg, have stepped up diplomatic efforts and tours in Yemeni and regional cities in order to persuade warring factions to renew the UN-brokered truce and work toward a durable peace agreement to end the war.

Yahiya Abu Hatem, a military analyst, told Arab News that the Houthi’s persecution, kidnapping and theft of opponents’ property showed the militia’s disregard for international attempts to end the conflict.

“This reaffirms what we have said a thousand times: That the Houthi group continues its war against the Yemenis and pays no heed to the UN, its initiatives, or concessions by the coalition or the legitimate government,” he added.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2251216/middle-east

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Tunisia’s Ennahda Condemns Systematic Abuse of Critics amid Political Crisis

 

A billboard depicting Tunisia's Kais Saied hangs on the side of a building in the east-central city of Kairouan, on 26 July 2022 (AFP)

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Yusra Ounas 

14.02.2023

TUNIS, Tunisia

Tunisia’s Ennahda movement on Tuesday condemned what it called the systematic abuse of critics in the North African country amid a months-long political crisis.

Tunisian security forces on Monday detained Ennahda leader and former Justice Minister Noureddine Bhiri and director of Mosaique Radio Noureddine Boutar.

Ennahda “strongly condemns the abductions and the systematic abuse of critics of Kais Saied’s coup and every free media voice…and demands the release of all those detained outside the framework of the law,” the movement said in a statement.

It said that the expansion of harassment of opposition figures “is evidence of the lack of direction and inability to confront the crises created by the coup.”

There was no comment from the Tunisian authorities on Ennahda’s statement.

On Saturday, Tunisian authorities rounded up former Ennahda leader Abdelhamid Jelassi upon suspicions of conspiring against state security.

Tunisia has been in the throes of a deep political crisis that aggravated the country's economy since 2021, when President Saied ousted the government and dissolved parliament.

Since then, Saied held a referendum to draft a new Constitution last July and parliamentary elections last December.

While Saied insists that his measures were meant to "save" the country, critics have accused the Tunisian leader of orchestrating a coup.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/tunisia-s-ennahda-condemns-systematic-abuse-of-critics-amid-political-crisis/2819511

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South Asia

 

Afghanistan: Several Killed As Taliban Raids Islamic State Khorasan Province Hideout In Kabul

Ajeyo Basu

February 15, 2023

Kabul: Taliban forces have reportedly killed three Islamic State (ISKP) group militants and arrested one in an overnight operation in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul.

The operation was reportedly carried out by the intelligence wing of the Afghan Taliban.

News agency AP quoted Taliban officials as saying that the raid on a residential building targeted IS militants who had allegedly carried out several recent attacks in Kabul.

Khalil Hamraz, a Taliban-appointed spokesman for the general director of intelligence in Afghanistan’s Taliban regime, called the target building in the Karti Naw neighbourhood of Kabul an important IS hideout.

“Ammunition and military equipment were seized by the troops during the operation. Three IS members were killed and one militant was arrested,” he added.

The Islamic State (IS) group is yet to respond to the claims of Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers.

The affiliate of the Islamic State (IS) group in Afghanistan – which is known as the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) – is one of the main surviving rivals of the Afghan Taliban.

The ISKP has stepped up its attacks in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover of Kabul in August 2021. Targets of ISKP attacks have included Taliban personnel and members of Afghanistan’s Shiite minority such as the Hazara ethnic group.

Source: Firstpost

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

https://www.firstpost.com/world/afghanistan-several-killed-as-taliban-raids-islamic-state-hideout-in-kabul-12155912.html

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As Taliban Settle In, Kabul’s Green Zone, a Diplomatic Enclave, Comes Back To Life

By Christina Goldbaum

Feb. 15, 2023

Scattered across a neighborhood in central Kabul are the ruins of another empire come and gone from Afghanistan.

Tattered sandbags and piles of discarded barbed wire. Metal hulls of tank traps sitting unused on the side of the road. Red-and-white metal barriers, once lowered to stop vehicles at checkpoints manned 24/7, permanently pointing toward the sky.

Not that long ago, this neighborhood — known as the Green Zone — was a diplomatic enclave, buzzing with the soundtrack of a multibillion-dollar war effort in Afghanistan. Armored vehicles rumbled down the streets, shuttling Western diplomats and high-ranking Afghan officials, while the thud-thud-thud of American helicopters echoed across the sky above.

But these days, there’s another kind of buzzing in the neighborhood: the Taliban moving in and making it their own. Like their American-supplied rifles and Humvees and military fatigues, the Green Zone is becoming the latest vestige of the Western war effort that the Taliban have repurposed as they build up their own military and government.

Well-to-do officials with the Taliban administration and their families have settled into the dwellings abandoned by Western officials since the collapse of the former government in August of 2021 and the flight of most of the Green Zone’s residents. Inside what was a compound of the British embassy, young men dressed in gray-and-black turbans and traditional brown shawls gather each afternoon for classes in a new madrasa, a school for Islamic instruction. Security forces with the new government zip in and out of NATO’s former headquarters.

The neighbourhood, and its nearly indestructible blast walls, have become a testament to the enduring legacy of occupation, a reminder that even when foreign forces depart, the physical imprint they leave on a country’s landscape — and national psyche — often lives on, indefinitely.

“These walls will never be torn down,” said Akbar Rahimi, a shopkeeper inside the Green Zone, summing up the seeming permanence of the infrastructure around him.

One recent afternoon, Mr. Rahimi, 45, sat behind the wooden counter of his corner store, absent-mindedly watching a Bollywood movie on the TV mounted to the wall. On the street outside, a forest green maintenance vehicle with a poster of a young Mullah Omar — the founder of the Taliban movement — plastered on the windshield raced past.

Mr. Rahimi perked up as three young men, former Taliban fighters turned security guards, entered the shop and rummaged through a pile of small, dirt-encrusted lemons by the front door. They handed the lemons to Mr. Rahimi, who weighed them on a rusty scale and tied them into a plastic bag in a single, masterful flip of the wrist.

“We’re buying lemons because some of our friends are fat — they need lemons to get thin and be better prepared for security,” one of the men joked. His friends burst out laughing. Mr. Rahimi, unamused, handed them the lemons and took a tattered bank note in return.

Mr. Rahimi remembers the old Green Zone and its former residents with a sense of nostalgia. Outside the neighborhood, the city was regularly torn apart by suicide blasts and targeted assassinations during the American-led war. But within its roughly one-square-mile radius, there was an intoxicating sense of lawfulness.

White-collar Afghan employees in government offices and foreign embassies used to pour down the street outside his shop at 8 a.m. each morning as they arrived for work and again at 4 p.m. when they headed home. For him, that reliable daily rhythm seemed to offer a sense of control, a predictability that had eluded Afghanistan for decades.

There was “order and discipline,” he said, wistfully.

For most of the two-decade war, the Green Zone occupied a unique place in Kabul’s collective consciousness. Once a leafy green upper-middle class neighborhood with tree-lined streets, elegant villas and a grand boulevard, the area transformed into a dull gray fortress of 16-foot-tall concrete barriers.

To some Afghans who could not enter it, the impenetrable void that sprawled across central Kabul was a source of deep resentment — an alien presence disrupting daily life.

To others, it was a harbinger of the eventual loss of the war, a place where despite Western generals’ assurances about battlefield victories and milestones reached, the steady build up of blast walls and barricades offered a more honest assessment of the West’s failures to curb the Taliban’s reach.

When the Taliban took over Kabul, they initially eyed this concrete slab of the city with suspicion. For months, agents with the intelligence wing of the nascent Taliban administration went building to building, digging through the remains of an enemy whose inner workings had been shrouded in mystery for 20 years. Every home was presumed to have hidden weapons or trip wires. Every surveillance camera was a sign of espionage.

Faizullah Masoom, a 26-year-old former Taliban fighter from Ghazni Province, felt awe-struck when he first saw the Green Zone. Then, a feeling of pride washed over him.

“I said to myself that our enemy with such defenses — blast walls and security cameras, barricaded areas and fortified buildings — were finally defeated by us,” he said. “We were always in the mountains, forests and fields. We only had one gun and a motorcycle.”

Now, Mr. Masoom rarely leaves the Green Zone.

Soon after the Taliban seized power, he assumed a new post as a security guard at a checkpoint outside an office building. One recent afternoon, he sat on a concrete barrier with three other guards at their post near the former Italian embassy.

The men passed around a bag of chewing tobacco as pickup trucks and armored cars carrying officials with the Taliban administration pulled up to the metal barrier. They beckoned for the drivers to lower their blackened windows, looked around the inside of the vehicles and ushered them through the gate.

As I turned to leave, Faizullah asked where I was from. When he heard “America,” his eyes grew wide and mouth dropped.

“She’s from America?” he asked a New York Times colleague who was with me, almost in disbelief. For 20 years, Americans were a faceless enemy. Now one was standing two feet in front of him.

He and his friends looked at each other bewildered for a few seconds — a sense of uncertainty hanging in the air. Then they burst out laughing.

“We have no conflict, war or enmity with anyone anymore,” he said smiling, as if to reassure me.

But the significant presence of security guards here — much like the blast walls that remain in place — reflects the insecurity that threatens the country’s fragile peace since the American-led war ended. While the days of constant airstrikes and night raids are over, suicide attacks from terrorist groups continue to plague the city — even as the guardians charged with keeping them at bay have changed.

Down the road from their post, the words “Long Live the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” — the official name the Taliban have given their government — are inscribed on a blast wall in white paint, one of a number of cosmetic changes the new government has instituted as it remakes the area in its own image.

The most striking example is painted on a wall that buttresses the former U.S. Embassy. The wall bears a mural depicting a vertical American flag, with columns of red stripes holding up white-on-blue stars. Beside the flag, a dozen hands are pushing down the red columns as if toppling a series of dominoes. “Our nation defeated America with the help of God” is scrawled next to it in blue paint.

The embassy itself remains empty and untouched — or mostly untouched.

Source: New York Times

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

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/15/world/asia/kabul-afghanistan-greenzone-taliban.html

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More than 4000 Afghans Returned to Country From Iran

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

February 14, 2023

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation on Tuesday announced that 4,297 Afghan nationals returned to the country from Iran.

The returnees entered Afghanistan through the ‘Abrishum’ land route in Nimruz province and ‘Islamqala’ in western Herat province earlier today.

The ministry of refugees and repatriation has also reported on the detention of some 400 Afghan citizens in Iran.

The Taliban authorities have still not confirmed whether the fresh returnees were forcefully deported or they left Iran willingly.

After the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan seized power, thousands of Afghans migrated to the neighboring countries including Iran and Pakistan, mostly without having legal documents including a stay permit and visa.

Meanwhile, the Iranian government forcefully extradites those Afghan refugees who fail to provide legal stay documents. 

In response to the recent deportation, the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a private organization called ‘Osta’ to create employment opportunities for more than a thousand needy families in the recent past.

Some experts have described the main reason for the migration of Afghan nationals to the neighboring countries as extreme poverty, unemployment, lack of job security, and political instability.

Prior to this, the authorities of the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation reported the return of some 3,000 Afghan migrants, a majority of who were forced to leave, while others left Iran of their own will.

Source: Khaama Press

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

https://www.khaama.com/more-than-4000-afghans-returned-to-country-from-iran/

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ISIS to Take the Lead in Conducting Terror Attacks in Afghanistan: George Mason Report

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

February 14, 2023

Dr. Mahmut Cengiz, an assistant professor at George Mason University in an analytical report claims that ISIS is rapidly growing, and will take the lead in conducting terror attacks in Afghanistan.

Dr. Changis believes that the Islamic Emirate has not been successful in establishing a strong government and the Daesh (ISIS) is trying to fill the vacuum.

He has written on the ‘Home Security Today’ website that prior to the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, ISIS presence was not tangible in Kabul – they were mainly based in Kunar and Nangarhar provinces. With the return of the Taliban to power, ISIS expanded its domain to Kabul and has been behind many brutal attacks in 2022. 

Cengis believes ISIS appeared stronger in 2022, as the terrorist group conducted brutal attacks in Mali, Kango, Niger, Nigeria, Yemen, Philippines, Somalia, and Burkina Faso. 

However, the terror group’s dominance in Afghanistan has been substantial in the past year. Although Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and Al-Qaida have also gotten momentum with the return of the Taliban to power, they do not pose threats to the Taliban-run administration, because they have deep ties with the Afghan Taliban.

The author strongly believes that IS-Khorasan will fill the vacuum left by the Taliban in conducting terror attacks. IS-K has the potential and capability the conduct complicated attacks, including motor-bombing, suicide attacks, and placing explosives, as the group employs all the techniques the Taliban fighter used to apply while fighting the US-backed Kabul regime.

He warns that the terror group will intensify their attacks in the coming future in Afghanistan. he further adds that IS-K targeted different groups including the Taliban’s Haqqani branch last year.

Source: Khaama Press

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

https://www.khaama.com/isis-to-take-the-lead-in-conducting-terror-attacks-in-afghanistan-george-mason-report/

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Afghan Taliban show willingness to address TTP issue

Kamran Yousuf

February 14, 20

The Afghan Taliban government have shown their willingness to address Pakistan’s concerns on the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) after Islamabad stepped up pressure in the wake of a recent surge in terrorism.

Official sources familiar with the development told The Express Tribune that Pakistan and the interim Afghan government have been in backchannel conversations to resolve the issue of the banned terrorist outfit.

Those contacts have been triggered by the surge in terrorism in Pakistan particularly after the deadly terrorist attack in the Police Lines area of Peshawar in which over 100 people – mostly policemen – lost their lives.

The deadly attack compelled Pakistan to revisit the strategy pursued by the previous government, which sought to address the TTP issue through talks.

The PTI government allowed hundreds of TTP terrorists to return as part of confidence-building measures. But the move backfired as TTP members regrouped and started launching renewed attacks.

The Peshawar Police Lines attack dealt a fatal blow to the peace efforts as the civilian and military leadership decided not to seek any direct talks with the TTP. Instead, the decision was taken to raise the issue with the Afghan Taliban at the highest level.

Sources said those efforts have made some progress as the Afghan Taliban have shown willingness to tackle the issue of TTP.

"The Afghan Taliban are mindful of our concerns and there are indications that the interim government would take certain actions and steps in this regard,” said an official privy to the flurry of engagements between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The official, however, would not divulge details of the likely actions the Afghan Taliban may take against the TTP.

Pakistan has long sought action against the TTP and its affiliates but the Afghan Taliban—instead of taking concrete action against terrorist outfits—offered to mediate talks. Islamabad reluctantly accepted the offer in the hope that it might lead to permanent closure of terror sanctuaries in Afghanistan.

However, after initial success, the process could not produce the desired results compelling Pakistan to revisit the strategy.

The official said part of the reason the TTP issue was still pending was because there were serious differences within the Afghan Taliban ranks. The official said the Afghan government was still going through the transition period.

There was also an internal rift between the hardliners and moderates, the official explained.

"The internal fighting is only compounding the issues," the official further said.

The official was of the view that Pakistan had a clear stance now that there would no longer be talks with the TTP and the Afghan Taliban would have to neutralise the threat.

Source: Tribune Pakistan

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

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2401146/afghan-taliban-show-willingness-to-address-ttp-issue

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Taliban forces kill 3 Daesh members in raid on Kabul building

February 14, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Taliban intelligence forces killed three Daesh militants and arrested one in an overnight operation in the Afghan capital of Kabul, an official said Tuesday.

The raid on a residential building targeted Daesh militants who organized recent attacks in the capital, said Khalil Hamraz, a Taliban-appointed spokesman for Afghanistan’s general director of intelligence. He called the target in the Karti Naw neighborhood an important Daesh hideout.

Daesh did not immediately respond to the government’s claims.

During the operation, three Daesh members were killed and one militant was arrested. Ammunition and military equipment were seized by the troops, he added.

The regional affiliate of Daesh — known as Daesh–Khorasan — is a key rival of the Taliban. The group has increased its attacks in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover in 2021. Targets have included Taliban patrols and members of Afghanistan’s Shiite minority.

Local residents reported hearing several explosions and an hourslong gunbattle.

“This place was not known, because people were not going and coming to this area much,” said Hejran Khan, a local resident. “The people who were there were not showing themselves and were not coming out, people didn’t know who they are and what their plan was.”

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2251261/world

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India

 

Gujarat high court fines petitioners opposing sale of shop to Muslim man in Hindu locality

Feb 15, 2023

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat high court has dismissed a review petition seeking recall of an order that approved sale of a shop in a predominantly Hindu locality in Vadodara to a Muslim man.

The court also imposed ₹25,000 costs on around 10 petitioners, witnesses to the sale transaction, dismissing their objections that they were “coerced to sign the sale agreements”.

In his 42-page order, dated February 9, Justice Biren Vaishnav said it is a “disturbing factor that a successful purchaser of property in a disturbed area is being hounded and thwarting his attempt to enjoy the fruits of the property which he successfully purchased.”

The judgment was recently uploaded on the court’s website.

The petitioners had sought recalling the high court’s March 9, 2020 order that came in response to a petition by a shop owner challenging the district collector’s order rejecting permission for sale on the ground that “such sale was likely to affect the balance in the majority Hindu/ minority Muslims and could develop into law-and-order problem.”

In March 2020, the high court dismissed the said objections raised by the deputy collector. It observed that what is to be seen is whether the sale was for a fair consideration and with free consent.

Source: Hindustan Times

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

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/gujarat-high-court-fines-petitioners-opposing-sale-of-shop-to-muslim-man-in-hindu-locality-101676400541574.html

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Bihar CM Expresses Displeasure over JD (U) Leader, Ghulam Rasool Balyawi’s Demand for Muslim Quota in Army

Feb 15, 2023

By Vijay Swaroop

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday expressed displeasure over his Janata Dal (United) or JD (U) leader Gulam Rasool Balyawi’s demand for 30% reservation for Muslims in the army. He said he will get clarification from Balyawi.

“Lot of people have the habit of speaking a lot. When I meet him, I will ask him what he has said and why,” said Kumar.

Balyawi sparked a controversy when he sought the reservation “if the Union government is afraid of tackling terrorists” from Pakistan. “If Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scared of Pakistan, give Muslims 30% of jobs in the army. When Pakistan made missiles and terrorised India, it was a son of a Muslim APJ Abdul Kalam who gave a befitting reply.”

The JD(U) earlier distanced itself from Balyawi’s comments. “Our party does not agree. The party always respects the army,” said JD(U) spokesman Abhishek Jha.

Balyawi also targeted Baba Ramdev and called for a probe into his assets. He referred to Baba Bageshwar, who came into the limelight over his claims about reading minds, and said no one would mislead the country “by wearing make-up.”

Source: Hindustan Times

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

https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/patna-news/nitish-expresses-displeasure-over-jd-u-leader-s-demand-for-muslim-quota-in-army-101676441186461.html

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Legal Panel to Take Call on Releasing Long-Term Muslim Prisoners: TN Minority Minister

15th February 2023

ERODE:  A legal committee has been set up to discuss the demand of releasing long-term Muslim jail inmates, said TN Minority and Overseas Tamils Welfare Minister KS Masthan in Erode on Tuesday.

He along with Haj committee members and party workers campaigned in Thirunagar Colony. Speaking to media persons, Masthan said, “DMK has fulfilled 85% of its poll promises in its 20-month regime. A legal committee has been formed to discuss the demand to release long-term Muslim prisoners, which was also a poll promise. I will be talking about this in the Assembly.”

Source: New Indian Express

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

https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2023/feb/15/legal-panel-to-take-call-on-releasing-muslim-prisonerstn-minorityminister-2547638.html

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NIA raids across Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu in blast cases

Feb 15, 2023

NEW DELHI: In a major crackdown against ISIS sympathisers, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) early Wednesday morning started raids at multiple locations across Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in two separate blast cases under investigation, sources said.

According to sources in the elite anti-terror probe agency, the searches are being conducted in connection with last year's blasts in Tamil Nadu's Coimbatore and Karnataka's Mangaluru which occurred on October 23, 2022, and November 19, 2022, respectively.

Sources said that nearly five dozen locations across the three states were raided simultaneously, including those Kodungaiyur in Tamil Nadu and Mannadi in Kerala.

The NIA began a probe on October 27 last year in a bomb blast in a car laden with explosives in front of Kottai Eswaran Temple of Coimbatore district in Tamil Nadu on October 23, last year.

Eleven accused persons were arrested earlier by the anti-terror agency in the case which Tamil Nadu Police initially registered a complaint on October 23 last year.

The deceased accused, Jamesha Mubeen, after swearing bayath (allegiance) to ISIS was planning to carry out a suicide attack and cause extensive damage to the Temple Complex with the intention to strike terror in the community, said the NIA in a statement.

"Investigations have revealed that the accused persons had entered into a criminal conspiracy in the interior of forested regions of Asanoor and Kadambur areas of Sathyamangalam forest, Erode district, in February, 2022," the NIA stated.

"The meetings were led by previously arrested accused Umar Farook and participated by deceased accused Jamesha Mubeen, Mohammed Azharudin, Sheikh Hidayatullah and Sanofar Ali, where they conspired to prepare for and execute terror acts," it added.

In December last year, the NIA took over the investigation into the November 19 pressure cooker blast in an autorickshaw in Mangaluru wherein a passenger, identified as Mohammed Shariq, was carrying a pressure cooker bomb made from an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).

The auto-rickshaw exploded leading to injuries to the passenger, Mohammed Shariq, who was carrying a pressure cooker turned into an IED, and the auto-rickshaw driver Purushottam Poojari.

The cooker bomb was designed to carry out a large-scale attack to fuel communal tensions in the coastal region and in the state, the agency said.

Shariq was en-route to a pre-decided location for carrying out the blast when the explosion took place.

The NIA started its investigation under the provision of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the investigating officers then questioned the main accused Shariq, as the state police found his links with the Islamic State (IS) during its investigation. It also learned that he had radicalised his schoolmates, Syed Yasin and Muneer Ahmed, and introduced them to IS as well.

Together, the three of them had experimented and rehearsed the explosion on the banks of the Tunga river in the Shivamogga district, sources said, adding that the practice explosion was also reportedly successful.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/nia-raids-across-kerala-karnataka-tamil-nadu-in-blast-cases/articleshow/97938824.cms

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Centre sends life-saving medicines to earthquake-hit Turkey, Syria

Feb 15, 2023

NEW DELHI: India has sent emergency relief material comprising life-saving medicines, protective items and critical care equipment valued at over Rs 7 crore to quake-hit Turkey and Syria, the Union health ministry said on Tuesday.

Highlighting the efforts of his ministry in providing emergency relief material to Turkey and Syria, health minister Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted, "India is providing assistance to the two countries in the spirit of its age-old tradition of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam."

वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम की अवधारणा के साथ भारत कर रहा सीरिया और तुर्की की मदद।@MoHFW_India provided life-saving emergenc… https://t.co/a8X6T8AXRo

Dr Mansukh Mandaviya (@mansukhmandviya) 1676345394000

On February 6, three truckloads of relief materials were arranged at the Hindon air base comprising life-saving emergency medicines and protective items within 12 hours, the ministry said.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/centre-sends-life-saving-medicines-to-earthquake-hit-turkey-syria/articleshow/97928318.cms

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Telangana: Tehreek Muslim Shabban seeks eight pc reservations to Muslims before polls

Mir Alamgir

15th February 2023

The Tehreek Muslim Shabban, a city-based organization, on Tuesday, urged the Telangana government to allot eight percent reservations to Muslims before the next Assembly elections in the State.

“Eight years have passed since the formation of Telangana state, but the promise of 12 percent reservations for Muslims stands unfulfilled by the government. If not 12 percent, the BRS must at least approve eight percent reservation for Muslims,” said Tehreek Muslim Shabban president Mushtaq Malik.

Mallik questioned the government for ignoring Muslims and said “the State government has increased the reservation quotas for STs from six percent to 10 percent but no such announcement was made in regard to Muslim reservation.” he stated.

The BRS government had assured 12 percent reservation in its Election Manifesto but failed to implement or fulfill the promise”, Mustaq Malik added.

He further questioned the lack of Muslim representation and appointment of Muslims in crucial government departments and the Public Service Commission. He said the government has appointed 10 Vice Chancellors in different universities, but none from the Muslim community.

Except the appointment of 66 Urdu officers, very little has been done by the government for the welfare of Muslims. Not even four per cent Muslims are part of the 2BHK apartments allotted by the government while only 1.43% Muslims have been able to secure Gazetted officers posts in the State, he added.

He urged the government to “prioritize sanctioning of financial aid of one lakh rupees per head to more than 2, 16,000 applicants which have been pending for a long time” and help the youth fight joblessness. Mustaq Malik also requested the government to expedite construction of mosques inside the Telangana Secretariat complex, appoint a Musim candidate as the Minority Commission Chairman and increase their representation in the Public Service Commission.

He said “Sudhir commission was constituted to analyze the educational and financial status of Muslims, and approved its recommendations but Muslims are still awaiting this, ” he said.

The Tehreek Muslim Shabban will visit Karimnagar, Jagtial and Siddipet and campaign to create awareness, garner support and remind the government about its reservation promises”,he added.

Source: Siasat Daily

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

https://www.siasat.com/telangana-tehreek-muslim-shabban-seeks-eight-pc-reservations-to-muslims-before-polls-2526963/

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North America

 

Biden Pulls Human Rights Candidate, James Cavallaro, Over Anti-Israel Comments

15 February, 2023

The Biden administration has withdrawn its pick of a human rights activist for a post at the Organization of American States for calling Israel an “apartheid state” and blasting a top House Democrat as being “Bought. Purchased. Controlled” by pro-Israel groups.

The US announced Friday the candidacy of James Cavallaro to serve as an independent member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a watchdog monitoring the Americas, praising him as “leading scholar and practitioner of international law” with deep expertise in the region.

But on Tuesday the State Department said that his candidacy was pulled in the wake of an article by a New York-based Jewish publication, the Algemeiner, which revealed Cavallaro’s history of posts critical of Israel and US support for the Jewish state.

In one December 2022 tweet, deleted as the Algemeiner article was being readied for publication, Cavallaro used language viewed by many Jews as layered with anti-Semitic tropes to accuse House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York, of being in the pocket of pro-Israel lobbyists.

“Bought. Purchased. Controlled,” Cavallaro wrote alongside a link to an article about Jeffries' donations from AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday that the Biden administration was unaware of Cavallaro's past comments on Israel prior to announcing his candidacy.

“They are not a reflection of what we believe and they are inappropriate to say the least,” Price said.

Cavallaro, who served previously on the commission from 2014 to 2017, pushed back at the notion he was being insensitive. He said that his views on Israel are entirely consistent with international human rights organizations and international bodies and in no way would impact his work advancing human rights in the Americas.

“It’s clear I hit a raw nerve,” he said in an interview Tuesday following a meeting with the State Department.

He also pointed out that elected commissioners serve in a personal capacity and are not supposed to represent the foreign policy views of the governments backing their candidacy. He said that he discussed with the State Department his active social media presence prior to his candidacy being announced, if not specific tweets, and committed to cleaning up his timeline and rigorously refraining from speaking out if elected to serve on the commission.

Cavallaro's shortlived candidacy recalls the blow-up over Harvard University's decision to rescind a fellowship that it had offered another human rights activist for similar criticisms of Israel.

Kenneth Roth, who was the executive director of Human Rights Watch until last year, was recruited by the Harvard Kennedy School to become a fellow. But the offer was rescinded a few weeks later over what Roth said was HRW's longstanding record of criticizing Israel for possible war crimes against Palestinians. Amid a public outcry over infringement on academic freedom, Harvard reversed course, the offer was reinstated and Roth started the fellowship this month.

Cavallaro, a co-founder and Executive Director of the University Network for Human Rights who previously taught at Harvard, Stanford and Yale law schools, has also accused Israel of committing “atrocities,” according to the Algemeiner’s scan of Cavallaro’s now deleted social media activity.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2023/02/15/Biden-yanks-human-rights-candidate-over-anti-Israel-comments

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Library of Congress to highlight Muslim slave and scholar with $2.5 million grant

February 14, 2023

By Adelle M. Banks

(RNS) — The Library of Congress has received a $2.5 million, five-year grant from the Lilly Endowment that will help launch programs that foster greater understanding of religious cultures in Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East.

In a Tuesday (Feb. 14) announcement, the library described the development as “the largest Lilly Endowment grant to the Library of Congress, and the largest private gift in the history of the African and Middle Eastern Division.”

The project is one of 16 to receive grants from the Lilly Endowment’s Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative.

The library’s plans include a book and a film produced in-house about Omar ibn Said, an Islamic scholar who was enslaved and transported to Charleston, South Carolina, in 1807. A documentary will reveal ibn Said’s steps from his birthplace in Futa Toro, West Africa, his journey to the U.S. and his continuing legacy.

The Library of Congress also will use the grant to increase public access to digitized repositories and programs that enhance knowledge about faiths practiced in the regions, including Indigenous African religious traditions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and their influence on daily life.

“Africa and the Middle East constitute the birthplace of humanity, the cradle of civilization, and the origin of Abrahamic traditions,” said Lanisa Kitchiner, chief of the Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division, in a statement in the library’s announcement. “They are exceptionally fertile grounds for examining the beauty, complexity and evolution of human culture.”

Other beneficiaries, with grants ranging from $1.9 million to $3 million, include the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia.

The King Center grant will help fund an exhibition about the Baptist minister and civil rights leader’s own religious journey and the role of faith communities in the civil rights movement. The grant to the Holocaust museum will create an endowment for the director of its Program on Ethics, Religion and the Holocaust. The Weitzman museum grant will support renovation of a main exhibition space that will include religious objects, texts and images from various Jewish traditions.

Lilly Endowment, which announced the first round of funding for 18 organizations in 2020, has contributed a total of $84 million to the initiative.

Source: Religion News

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

https://religionnews.com/2023/02/14/library-of-congress-to-highlight-muslim-slave-and-scholar-with-2-5-million-grant/

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Muslim, Christian, Jewish leaders in US pray for earthquake victims in Türkiye, Syria

Servet Günerigök 

15.02.2023

WASHINGTON

Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders gathered Tuesday in the US capital Washington, D.C. for a prayer service for the victims of last week’s devastating earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria.

The service was organized by Elpidophoros, the Greek Orthodox archbishop of America, at Georgetown University.

"As someone born in and reared in Türkiye, where I have spent the majority of my life, I am shaken to the core by the sheer magnitude of the loss," said the archbishop.

The event was attended by Turkish Ambassador to the US Hasan Murat Mercan, Turkish Embassy Religious Services Counselor Bilal Kuspinar and Nurullah Celebi, one of the imams of the Diyanet Center of America, as well as Bishop Denis J. Madden of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Mor Dionysius John Kawak and Archbishop Vicken Aykazyan of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

It was also attended by Rabbi Richard Marker of the International Jewish Committee on Inter-religious Consultations and Jason Isaacson of the American Jewish Committee.

Ambassador Mercan expressed his gratitude for the support extended to the earthquake-hit areas.

At least 35,418 people were killed by two strong earthquakes that jolted southern Türkiye on Feb. 6, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 tremors were centered in Kahramanmaras and struck nine other provinces – Hatay, Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Malatya, Adana, Diyarbakir, Kilis, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa. More than 13 million people have been affected by the quakes.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/muslim-christian-jewish-leaders-in-us-pray-for-earthquake-victims-in-turkiye-syria/2820111

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US may send seized Iranian weapons intended for Yemen’s Houthis to Ukraine: Report

14 February ,2023

The US is considering sending Ukraine thousands of seized weapons and more than a million rounds of ammunition that were originally intended for the Iran-backed Houthi militia, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Tuesday citing US and European officials.

According to the report, US officials are looking at sending Ukraine more than 5,000 assault rifles, 1.6 million rounds of small arms ammunition, a small number of antitank missiles, and more than 7,000 proximity fuses seized in recent months off the Yemen coast from smugglers suspected of working for Iran.

The challenge for the Biden administration, the report noted, is finding a legal justification for transferring the seized weapons to Ukraine as the UN arms embargo requires the US and its allies to destroy, store, or dispose of them.

Biden administration lawyers are reportedly exploring whether there is any legal loophole that would permit the transfer.

The rifles and ammunition have been seized in recent months by the US and France as part of a global effort focused mainly on preventing Iran from smuggling weapons into Yemen, the report said.

“It’s a message to take weapons meant to arm Iran’s proxies and flip them to achieve our priorities in Ukraine, where Iran is providing arms to Russia,” the WSJ quoted one US official as saying.

The US and its allies have accused Iran of supplying the Houthis with missiles, drones and other weapons used in attacks on Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Yemeni forces trying to defeat the Iran-backed militants.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2023/02/14/US-considers-sending-seized-Iranian-weapons-to-Ukraine-Report

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Mideast

 

Iran, China Sign 20 Cooperation Pacts as Xi Hosts Rayeesi in Beijing

2023-February-14

The documents were signed by senior officials of the two countries in the presence of presidents of Iran and China in Beijing on Tuesday.

According to the documents, Tehran and Beijing will improve cooperation in different sectors, including crisis management, tourism, communication and information technology, the environment, international trade, intellectual property, agriculture, exports, healthcare, media, sports and cultural heritage.

Earlier in the day, President Rayeesi received an official welcome from President Xi after arriving on a state visit to China.

During the official ceremony, the national anthems of the two countries were played and the two presidents reviewed a guard of honor. A 21-gun salute was performed in Rayeesi’s honor.

High-ranking delegations of Iran and China held negotiations immediately after the ceremony.

The Iranian president arrived in Beijing on Tuesday morning at the head of a high-ranking politico-economic delegation on the official invitation of his Chinese counterpart.

Speaking to reporters before leaving Tehran for Beijing on Monday, Rayeesi underlined Iran and China's firm determination to expand their bilateral ties.

“We have good global and international contacts and have common positions with China on countering unilateralism and [maintaining our] political independence,” he stated.

“These [common] positions have brought us closer together and we have good cooperation with China in political and economic areas as well as with regard to various issues at regional and global levels,” Rayeesi underscored.

Source: Fars News Agency

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

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14011125000745/Iran-China-Sign-20-Cperain-Pacs-as-Xi-Hss-Rayeesi-in-Beijing

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Extremist minister: Building new settlements in Palestinian territories is ‘Israel’s mission and doctrine’

15 February 2023

An extremist Israeli regime minister from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right cabinet wants to see more Jewish settlements constructed across the occupied territories.

Israel's hardline Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said on Tuesday said building new settlements is “Israel’s mission and doctrine.”

"The land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel," he said in a video message that followed a statement of concern from Washington and its European allies, France, Germany, Italy and Britain over the decision on legalizing outposts, Reuters reported.

On Sunday, the Israeli regime's far-right cabinet "legalized" nine settler outposts in the occupied West Bank in sheer defiance of the outcry from the international community and Palestinians who want an end to the regime's settlement projects.

Netanyahu's extremist cabinet retroactively authorized the outposts that had been already set up by Israeli settlers over the past years without the regime's approval.

Ben-Gvir said he wanted to go even further than the decision announced on Sunday, saying nine settlements are not enough and the regime wants much more.

"This is our mission. This our doctrine," Ben-Gvir said. "Nine settlements is nice but it's still not enough. We want much more.”

The minister said Europeans and Americans should “stop worrying.”

Foreign ministers from Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the United States have said they are “deeply troubled” by Israel’s settlement expansion plan.

"We strongly oppose unilateral actions which will only serve to exacerbate tensions between Israelis and Palestinians and undermine efforts to achieve a negotiated two-state solution," they said in a statement.

Hussein al-Sheikh, a senior Palestinian official, welcomed the joint statement. "We demand that words be turned to deeds," he said in a statement on Twitter.

The Israeli regime has already authorized new settlement outposts and pledged to construct new settler units in the West Bank.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called for an end to the settlement expansion.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

The international community views the settlements -- hundreds of which have been built across the West Bank since Tel Aviv's occupation of the territory in 1967 -- as illegal under international law and the Geneva Conventions due to their construction on the occupied territories.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/02/14/698236/Minister--Israel-will-continue-to-build-settlements-in-Palestinian-territories

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Turkiye’s Erdogan vows to rebuild after quake, rescue work winds down

February 15, 2023

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan vowed to press on with rescue and recovery efforts more than a week after a powerful quake ripped through his country and neighbouring Syria, with an elderly woman the latest to be pulled from the rubble.

The combined death toll in Turkiye and Syria has climbed over 41,000, and many survivors are enduring near-freezing winter temperatures, having been left homeless by the devastation in cities in both countries.

“We will continue our work until we remove the last citizen left under the collapsed buildings,” Erdogan said late on Tuesday after a cabinet meeting held at the headquarters of the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).

Damage assessment of buildings, of which tens of thousands were destroyed, will be completed in a week and reconstruction will begin within months, he said.

“We will rebuild all the houses and workplaces, destroyed or made uninhabitable by the earthquake, and hand them over to the rightful owners,” he added.

More than 105,000 people were injured in the quake, he said, with more than 13,000 still being treated in hospital.

Overnight, a 77-year-old woman named Fatma Gungor was pulled alive from the rubble of a seven-storey apartment block in the city of Adiyaman, some 212 hours after the first earthquake, media reports said.

Wearing an oxygen mask, covered in a gold foil blanket and strapped onto a stretcher, Gungor was carried by rescue workers down from the ruins of the building to a waiting ambulance, footage from state broadcaster TRT showed.

Afterwards, Gungor’s relatives hugged the rescue team, made up of military personnel and members of the disaster management authority AFAD.

Nine other survivors were rescued in Turkiye on Tuesday as the focus of the aid effort shifted to helping people now struggling without shelter or enough food in the cold.

Erdogan has acknowledged problems in the initial response to the 7.8 magnitude quake that struck early on Feb 6 but he has said the situation is now under control.

“We are facing one of the greatest natural disasters not only in our country but also in the history of humanity,” Erdogan said.

More than 2.2 million people have left the worst-hit areas already, Erdogan said, and hundreds of thousands of buildings have become uninhabitable.

Those rescued on Tuesday included two brothers, aged 17 and 21, pulled from an apartment block in Kahramanmaras province, and a Syrian man and young woman in a leopard-print headscarf in Antakya.

UN authorities have said the rescue phase is coming to a close, with the focus turning to shelter, food and schooling.

“People are suffering a lot. We applied to receive a tent, aid, or something, but up to now we didn’t receive anything,” said Hassan Saimoua, a refugee staying with his family in a playground in Turkiye’s southeastern city of Gaziantep.

Saimoua and other Syrians had found refuge in Gaziantep from the war at home. Now, rendered homeless by the quake, they have assembled makeshift tents in a playground using plastic sheets, blankets and cardboard.

“The needs are huge, increasing by the hour,” said Hans Henri P. Kluge, the World Health Organization’s director for Europe. “Some 26 million people across both countries need humanitarian assistance.”

“There are also growing concerns over emerging health issues linked to the cold weather, hygiene and sanitation, and the spread of infectious diseases - with vulnerable people, especially at risk.”

‘Dad, aftershock!’

Families in both Turkiye and Syria said they and their children were dealing with the psychological aftermath of the quake.

“Whenever he forgets, he hears a loud sound and then remembers again,” Hassan Moaz said of his 9-year-old in Aleppo, Syria.

“When he’s sleeping at night and hears a sound, he wakes up and tells me: ‘Dad, aftershock!’”

A first convoy of UN aid entered rebel-held northwest Syria from Turkiye via the newly-opened Bab al-Salam crossing.

The search for survivors was about to end in the northwest of Syria, said the head of the White Helmets main rescue group, Raed al Saleh.

Russia also said it was wrapping up its search and rescue work in Turkiye and Syria and preparing to withdraw.

The Turkish toll was 35,418 killed, Erdogan said. More than 5,814 have died in Syria, according to a Reuters tally of reports from Syrian state media and a UN agency.

Survivors joined a mass exodus from the disaster zone, leaving their homes and unsure if they can ever come back.

Hamza Bekry, a 22-year-old Syrian has lived in Antakya, in southern Turkey, for 12 years, having fled the conflict in his homeland, but he was now preparing to follow his family to Isparta in southern Turkiye.

“It’s very hard … We will start from zero, without belongings, without a job,” Bekry said.

Syrians pick up pieces alone after earthquake

The complex politics of humanitarian assistance in Syria’s opposition-held northwest left many war-weary citizens there fending for themselves.

Walid Ibrahim lost more than two dozen of his family members among them his brother, his cousin, and all their children. He only managed to remove their bodies from under the rubble two days after the quake.

“We were removing rock after rock and finding nothing underneath. People were under the concrete screaming, ‘Get us out! Get us out!’ But we’d come up with empty hands,” he said.

“Your hands alone aren’t enough.”

Parts of the provinces of Idlib and adjacent Aleppo held by Turkiye-backed rebels suffered the bulk of the quake’s casualties in Syria: over 4,000 of the entire Syrian death toll of more than 5,800, according to the United Nations and government authorities.

Four Syrian towns in a stretch bordering Turkiye were among the hardest hit: Salqin, Harem, Jinderis and Atareb.

On an organised press tour on Tuesday, Reuters saw around 20 men and boys trying to salvage what they could from pulverized homes in Harem and its outskirts, without protective gear or uniforms.

Only some wore work gloves, covered in the grey-white dust of smashed cinderblocks. Even their eyelashes, cracked lips and beards were coated in the chalky substance.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1737275/turkiyes-erdogan-vows-to-rebuild-after-quake-rescue-work-winds-down

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Israel exports oil for first time with cargo heading to Europe

14 February ,2023

Israel exported oil for the first time, sending a shipment to Europe from Energean Plc’s offshore Karish field.

While the country began sending natural gas abroad several years ago, it has never produced significant amounts of oil. The Karish deposit in the eastern Mediterranean Sea is Energean’s flagship project, and has been pumping gas since last year.

“The first ever lifting of an Israeli crude oil cargo has taken place at the company’s Karish field,” London-based Energean said in a statement. “The cargo has been sold as part of a multi-cargo marketing agreement with Vitol.”

Output from the field, located close to the maritime border between Israel and Lebanon, became possible following a US-brokered deal reached in October between the two countries. Karish production has further boosted Israel’s gas industry, which has been a game-changer for a nation once reliant on imports.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/business/energy/2023/02/14/Israel-exports-oil-for-first-time-with-cargo-heading-to-Europe

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Israeli finance minister rejects US criticism on settlements

14 February ,2023

Israel's finance minister on Tuesday dismissed Washington's criticism of new settlement construction in the West Bank, promising to double down and legalize dozens of wildcat outposts in the occupied territory.

Bezalel Smotrich reaffirmed his commitment to expand Israeli authority in the lands that the Palestinians seek for a future state — less than a day after the US expressed opposition to the move.

On Tuesday, Europe's top diplomats also condemned Israel's plans to build thousands of new homes in the West Bank and retroactively legalize nine outposts, saying they are “deeply troubled” and “strongly oppose these unilateral actions."

The joint statement from the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Italy and the UK echoed the American condemnation, with no sign they would take any action against Israel.

Smotrich, a religious ultranationalist settler, appeared defiant on Tuesday. He and his right-wing allies, he said, remain “committed to removing completely the restrictions on building in Judea and Samaria,” referring to the West Bank by its biblical names.

Smotrich said the Israeli government has “clarified (its) position to the Americans.”

“Disagreements are allowed, even between friends,” he added.

In a contentious coalition deal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised Smotrich authority over the defense body responsible for planning for both settlements and Palestinian construction in parts of the West Bank where Israel maintains civilian control.

Once he receives those powers, Smotrich has vowed to “normalize” life for more than 500,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank, erasing the differences between living in a settlement and within Israel’s internationally recognized border and effectively annexing West Bank territory. Such a move would draw widespread global condemnation.

Israel captured the West Bank, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Mideast war.

Most of the international community considers Israeli settlements illegal and an obstacle to peace. Some 700,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

On Sunday, after a surge in violence in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, Netanyahu's Cabinet unanimously authorized the legalization of nine settlement outposts and said it would soon approve 10,000 new homes in existing settlements.

Ultranationalists who oppose Palestinian statehood comprise a large part of Israel’s new government, which has declared settlement construction a top priority.

Israel's newest settlement plans have also drawn condemnation from Israel's Arab neighbors Jordan and Egypt, as well as Saudi Arabia.

On Tuesday, Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt also joined the chorus of criticism.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/14/Israeli-Cabinet-minister-rejects-US-criticism-on-settlements

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Rescuers pull seven survivors from ruins eight days after Turkey quake

14 February ,2023

At least seven survivors were rescued on Tuesday from the rubble of earthquake-hit areas of Turkey, local media reported, eight days after worst quake in the country’s modern history.

It included a woman pulled out from ruins of a building in the southern Turkish province of Hatay by Ukrainian rescue workers, broadcaster CNN Turk reported.

Earlier on Tuesday, an 18-year-old named Muhammed Cafer was rescued from the rubble of a building in southern Turkey some 198 hours after last Monday’s earthquake, CNN Turk said.

Broadcasters showed rescue workers carrying Cafer strapped on a stretcher, an oxygen mask on his face and a health worker holding an IV bag, from the site of the collapsed building in Adiyman province to a waiting ambulance.

Cafer could be seen moving his fingers as he was carried away.

A short while earlier, rescue workers pulled two brothers alive from the ruins of an apartment block in neighboring Kahramanmaras province.

State-owned Anadolu news agency identified them as 17-year-old Muhammed Enes Yeninar and his brother, 21-year-old Baki Yeninar, who was rescued after him.

They were both placed in ambulances and taken to hospital. Their condition was unclear.

Three other women, two in Hatay province and one in Kahramanmaras city, were also rescued on Tuesday, Turkish media reported.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/14/Rescuers-pull-seven-survivors-from-ruins-eight-days-after-Turkey-quake

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Israel sentences soldier who assaulted Palestinian activist to 10 days in prison

14 February ,2023

Israel’s army has given a 10-day prison sentence to a soldier who was filmed assaulting a prominent Palestinian activist in the West Bank city of Hebron.

Issa Amro, an outspoken critic of Israeli practices who has also criticized the Palestinian Authority, was working with a prominent American journalist, New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright, when the incident took place.

Amro told AFP that while “showing a journalist the situation in Hebron” he was confronted by a soldier, who was apparently angry that Amro was filming.

The soldier “grabbed me, caught from the my neck, from my throat... I was really afraid,” he said.

The army in a statement late Monday said a “soldier who was guarding a military post in Hebron asked a Palestinian who approached the post to step away.”

“In response, the Palestinian began recording and cursing the soldier. A verbal confrontation followed, which soon became a physical confrontation, during which the soldier hit the Palestinian.”

The army’s chief international spokesman Richard Hecht said: “As the video shows, the soldier did not act as expected and did not follow the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) code of conduct.”

The soldier was sentenced to 10 days in military prison and “will be suspended from active combat duty,” the statement said.

Wright, the author of “The Looming Tower” that chronicles Al-Qaeda’s rise and “Going Clear” about the Church of Scientology, tweeted that Amro did “nothing to justify the attack” perpetrated by the Israeli soldier.

“The soldier initiated the encounter. Amro did not curse him, only asked to call his commander,” Wright said.

An army spokesman told AFP on Tuesday that “we are not trying to justify what the soldier did.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/14/Israel-sentences-soldier-who-assaulted-Palestinian-activist-to-10-days-in-prison

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Africa

 

Jordan’s FM to visit Syria, Turkey to show solidarity after devastating quake

15 February ,2023

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi will be heading to Syria and Turkey on Wednesday in a “show of solidarity” after the quake that killed thousands of people in both countries, an official source said.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/15/Jordan-s-FM-to-visit-Syria-Turkey-to-show-solidarity-after-devastating-quake

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Uganda’s president offers his condolences to Türkiye, Syria over deadly quakes

Hamza Kyeyune  

15.02.2023

KAMPALA, Uganda

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said Tuesday he is deeply saddened by the destruction and loss of life in Türkiye and Syria, where massive earthquakes last week killed nearly 40,000 people.

“My thoughts and prayers, and those of all Ugandans, are with the families who have lost their loved ones. May their souls rest in eternal peace,” he said.

He welcomed the new Turkish Ambassador to Uganda, Mehmet Fatih Ak, and expressed his wish that the friendship and multifaceted cooperation between the two countries continues.

Ak presented his letter of credentials to Museveni at State House Entebbe. He said he looked forward to the continued close working relationship between Uganda and Türkiye and affirmed that bilateral relations are developing well between the two countries. He added that both countries hold much potential in cooperation in trade, education and tourism.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/uganda-s-president-offers-his-condolences-to-turkiye-syria-over-deadly-quakes/2820085

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South Africans donating generously for earthquake victims in Türkiye, says envoy

Hassan Isilow 

14.02.2023

JOHANNESBURG

South Africans have donated generously to help the victims of last week's earthquakes in southern Türkiye, Ankara's ambassador to Pretoria, Aysegul Kandas said on Monday.

Kandas underlined that South Africans have been sending items such as winter tents, generators, and sleeping bags, transported to Türkiye on national carrier Turkish Airlines with more donations still being collected.

Designated donation collection sites across the country have been filled with various relief items, she added, with the Turkish Embassy in Pretoria coordinating all disaster aid from South Africa destined for the earthquake zones.

The four collection points where goods are being dropped off are the Turkish Consulate General in Cape Town, the Yunus Emre Institute in Johannesburg, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) office in Pretoria, and the branch of household appliances company Defy in Durban. Defy is a subsidiary of Turksh company Arcelik.

In an earlier statement, Kandas thanked South Africans for their generosity towards the earthquake victims. "We are also grateful for the initial response of South Africa through search and rescue team and canines belonging to NGO's (non-governmental organizations) such as Gift of the Givers and Al Imdaad," she ahd said in an earlier press statement.

Gift of the Givers has so far sent 44 search and rescue personnel, including trauma doctors, while South African police have sent five dogs and handlers to Turkiye. Other humanitarian groups, including the Al Imdaad foundation and Hope SA, are taking part of the disaster response in Turkiye.

Kandas said she was grateful to South Africans, who have mobilized to send in-kind assistance, cash donations, and organize media campaigns for quake victims.

"The South African government has also been forthcoming in sending aid," she added.

Abdulaziz Yigit, director of the Yunus Emre Institute in South Africa, told Anadolu that Turkish language students at the center launched a campaign to raise tents for Turkiye and said they had so far collected 418.

"We've collected over 5,000 blankets, 100 generators, 650 winter tents, 1,000 sleeping bags," he said.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/south-africans-donating-generously-for-earthquake-victims-in-turkiye-says-envoy/2819635

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Pakistan

 

Peshawar ATC Acquits Activist Gulalai Ismail’s Parents in Peshawar’s 2013 All Saints Church Attack Sedition Case

Sirajuddin

February 15, 2023

An anti-terrorism court in Peshawar on Wednesday acquitted social activist Gulalai Ismail’s parents in a case registered by the counter-terrorism department on the charges of sedition, terror financing and facilitation.

Pronouncing the reserved verdict, ATC Judge Fazal Sattar declared that charges against Professor Mohammad Ismail and his wife could not be proven.

Talking to Dawn.com after the judgment was issued, Prof Ismail said that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had hired a senior lawyer to pursue the case.

The professor added that he and his spouse have recorded 167 appearances in the ATC since January 2021.

Separately, Gulalai tweeted that her parents were acquitted after more than three years of harassment and innumerable court appearances. “I am thankful to those who stood with us during this difficult time,” she said.

Commenting on the development, North Waziristan lawmaker Mohsin Dawar said that Gulalai’s parents had been “harassed and persecuted” for far too long.

“Their resolve remains unshaken,” he said and congratulated the activist.

Earlier, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor also said that she was closely following the verdict in the case.

The CTD had charged Gulalai and her parents in a first information report (FIR) registered on July 6, 2019. In July last year, ATC had declined to indict Gulalai and her parents on the basis of an interim challan (charge sheet) over the lack of evidence in the case.

It had declared that as no evidence was produced by the prosecution, the charge couldn’t be framed against the accused and they were discharged under the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The CTD later submitted the complete charge sheet and produced more documents, claiming that the accused had provided weapons and a car to terrorists that were used in attacks on Peshawar’s All Saints Church in 2013 and Hayatabad’s Imamia Masjid in 2015.

The court then indicted Gulalai’s parents on multiple charges including sedition, waging war against the state, and facilitation of attacks on All Saints Church and Imamia Masjid on September 30, 2020. They had pleaded not guilty to the charges and were later facing trial.

Initially, CTD had registered an FIR under Section 11-N of the Anti-Terrorism Act wherein it had charged Gulalai Ismail and her parents of being sympathisers of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement. Subsequently, several other provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code and Anti-Terrorism Act were included in the FIR.

The complainant, CTD inspector Mohammad Ilyas, alleged that Gulalai Ismail was the chairperson of an organisation, Aware Girls, and under its cover, she had been working for anti-state elements besides financing terrorist organisations.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1737268/peshawar-atc-acquits-activist-gulalai-ismails-parents-in-sedition-case

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Sharif visits Turkish Embassy to express solidarity with quake victims

February 14, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday visited the Turkish Embassy in Islamabad to convey his government’s support and express solidarity with victims of the devastating February 6 earthquakes in Turkey in which over 31,000 people have so far died.

Turkish Ambassador Mehmet Pacaci received Sharif and his cabinet members, including Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar, and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lt. Gen. Inam Haider Malik.

In his remarks, Sharif vowed that Islamabad will continue to support Ankara “in all possible ways” till the rehabilitation of the quake victims.

“The entire Pakistani nation is saddened over the huge damage and loss of lives in the earthquakes. We see it as our own loss,” he said.

Sharif said his government has already launched a countrywide campaign, involving people from all walks of life, including educational institutions, the business community, philanthropists, and others, to collect funds and relief goods for the earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria.

So far, Islamabad has dispatched over 150 tons of relief goods, including winter tents, clothes, blankets, and food items, to quake-stricken areas of Turkey.

Volunteers from different welfare organisations including Edhi and Al-Khidmat Foundation are also involved in search, rescue, and relief activities in different quake-hit regions.

Recalling Turkey’s support to Islamabad after the 2005 earthquake, and in the floods of 2010 and 2022, Sharif said the people and the government of Pakistan “can never forget that.”

Source: Pakistan Today

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

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2023/02/14/sharif-visits-turkish-embassy-to-express-solidarity-with-quake-victims/

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Counter-terrorism forces thwart TTP attack, kill four militants in N. Waziristan

February 14, 2023

PESHAWAR: Militants from Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) launched an attack on law enforcement officers near Mir Ali Bypass in North Waziristan’s Mir Ali area on Monday night, according to a statement from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police.

Personnel from the counter-terrorism department (CTD) were transporting prisoners from Miranshah to Bannu when militants fired on their convoy, killing three inmates. Law enforcement officials retaliated, killing at least four militants and causing five to six others to flee.

The slain militants were wanted in connection with numerous heinous crimes, including targeted killings of security personnel and the murder of a constable.

A clearance operation is currently underway in the area to apprehend the fleeing militants.

Previously, the agency claimed to have killed a suspected TTP terrorist in an encounter and detained 11 members of banned organisations in various cities during intelligence-based operations (IBOs) across Punjab.

Pakistan has been struck by a surge of terrorism, mainly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but also in Balochistan and Mianwali, a Punjab town bordering KP. The wave of terrorism has even reached the outskirts of Islamabad.

Source: Pakistan Today

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

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2023/02/14/counter-terrorism-forces-thwart-ttp-attack-kill-four-militants-in-n-waziristan/

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US Delegation to Visit Pakistan to ‘Repair’ Diplomatic Relations

February 14, 2023

WASHINGTON: Derek Chollet, a counselor at US State Department, will lead a delegation to Pakistan this week as Washington and Islamabad seek to “repair” ties ruling Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) coalition claims strained under former prime minister Imran Khan.

The delegation will visit Bangladesh and Pakistan from February 14-18 to meet with senior government officials, civil society members and business leaders, the State Department said in a statement on Monday.

Khan, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in parliament last April, had antagonised the United States throughout his tenure, the government claims. He welcomed the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021 and later accused Washington of being behind the attempt to oust him in April of last year.

Washington dismissed his accusations. Khan was succeeded as prime minister by more pliant Shehbaz Sharif.

The US delegation’s visit comes as the economy of Pakistan is still reeling from devastating floods last year that left at least 1,700 people dead, and the government estimates rebuilding efforts will cost $16 billion.

The nuclear-armed nation is in the grip of a full-blown economic crisis. Talks between Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were scheduled to resume online this week after 10 days of face-to-face discussions in Islamabad on how to keep the country afloat ended without a deal on Friday.

Dawn reported late in January that Pakistan had sought US support to unlock the stalled IMF program that would release $1.1 billion to its strained economy as the country rebuilds.

“The delegation will also reaffirm the strong security cooperation between our nations,” the State Department said on Monday.

Source: Pakistan Today

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

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2023/02/14/us-delegation-to-visit-pakistan-to-repair-diplomatic-relations/

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Cop injured in terrorist attack in Pakistan’s KP

By Fidel Rahmati

February 14, 2023

A police officer got injured after the terrorist opened fire on the Khutti police checkpoint within the boundaries of Dera Ismail Khan police station, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, on Monday night.

According to a police spokesman, a group of terrorists attacked the check post on Dera Ismail Khan and fled from the scene. A cop was injured in the incident.

Police also added that due to the exchange of fire between police and the attackers, the terrorists fled from the area. Meanwhile, after receiving the information, a significant police presence arrived at the scene and began a search operation in the area.

For a couple of months, security has deteriorated in Pakistan, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Baluchistan and other major cities.

This comes after the breakdown of negotiations in November last year with the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan; the group has increased its attack in the country, killing police officers and soldiers and targeting military sites and citizens.

According to the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS), January 2023 was one of the deadliest months since July 2018, with 134 persons killed (a 139% increase) and 254 injured in at least 44 militant strikes across the nation.

Source: Khaama Press

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

https://www.khaama.com/cop-injured-in-terrorist-attack-in-pakistans-kp/

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Southeast Asia

 

Nahdlatul Ulama at 100: Opportunities and Challenges

By Virdika Rizky Utama

February 15, 2023

On February 7, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) marked the 100th anniversary of its founding according to the Islamic Hijri calendar – a significant milestone in the history of Indonesian Islam. Founded in 1926, NU is one of the largest Islamic organizations in the world and has played a vital role in shaping Indonesian society and culture. It has a long and proud history of promoting peace, tolerance, and social justice and has been a strong advocate for a moderate vision of Islam.

The milestone is an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the organization’s achievements and contributions to Indonesian society. It also offers a chance to reflect on the challenges NU has faced and overcome and consider the opportunities ahead, both for the organization and for Indonesia as a whole.

One of the biggest challenges NU has faced over the years is maintaining its independence and relevance in a rapidly changing world. The organization has had to navigate the shifting political landscape in Indonesia and balance its commitment to traditional Islamic values with its commitment to modernity and progress. Despite these challenges, NU has remained steadfast in its commitment to the promotion of peace, tolerance, and social justice and has continued to be a strong advocate for the moderate and inclusive vision of Islam.

Another challenge NU has faced is the rise of extremism and terrorism in Indonesia and worldwide. NU has been a vocal opponent of these tendencies and has worked to promote a peaceful and inclusive vision of Islam. In addition, the organization has been a leader in promoting inter-religious dialogue and has played an essential role in building bridges between different religious communities in Indonesia.

Despite these challenges, NU has remained an important and influential force in Indonesian society and has played a vital role in shaping the country’s political, cultural, and social landscape. The 100th anniversary of NU is an opportunity to celebrate and recognize the organization’s achievements and contributions to Indonesian society and to look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead.

Among the main opportunities for  NU is to continue promoting peace, tolerance, and social justice in Indonesia and worldwide. The organization has a unique platform to reach millions and influence public opinion and policy. In addition, NU can continue to play an essential role in promoting inter-religious dialogue and building bridges between different religious communities.

The 100th anniversary of NU’s founding offers a chance to examine the organization’s role as a peacebuilder in the global community through religious diplomacy and its use of a constructivist theoretical approach in its work. From a constructivist viewpoint, NU’s efforts to advance peace and stability through religious diplomacy aim to create and shape norms and identities in the global community. By promoting peace and tolerance, NU tries to establish a norm of peaceful coexistence and inter-religious cooperation. Additionally, its efforts to promote moderate Islam and counter extremism aim to shape a more inclusive and peaceful understanding of the religion.

The rise of extremism and terrorism presents a significant challenge for NU’s peacebuilding efforts. In addition to these challenges, NU faces several more obstacles in the form of growing conflicts over resources, political polarization, competition for influence with Muhammadiyah, Indonesia’s other large national Muslim organization, and resistance to change, to say nothing of the sheer complexity of many the world’s conflicts.

Despite this, NU has made significant progress in promoting peace and stability through peacebuilding initiatives in conflict-affected areas and religious diplomacy. The organization’s participation in the Religion 20 (R-20) network is one example of how its religious diplomacy looks in practice. The R-20 is a global network of religious leaders and organizations that promotes sustainable development and aims to address the root causes of conflict and poverty.

To further its peacebuilding efforts, NU should firstly continue to promote peace through religious diplomacy and advocate for religious freedom, particularly for minority religious communities in Indonesia and globally. Second, the organization should strengthen its partnerships with other religious and civil society organizations in Indonesia and worldwide in order to increase its impact. Finally, NU’s involvement in initiatives like the R-20 can reinforce the norms and identities it is trying to establish and create a more peaceful and cooperative global community.

NU has the potential to play a particularly constructive role in the resolution of the Rohingya refugee crisis involving Myanmar and Bangladesh. NU can mobilize its extensive network and peacebuilding experience to address the issue via the R-20 network. NU can also collaborate with political leaders, international organizations, civil society, and the media to find solutions to the humanitarian crisis. There are of course many challenges, such as the growth of extremism and terrorism within the refugee camps and a lack of political will among some regional governments to address the issue. Nevertheless, NU can leverage its influence, raise awareness, advocate for human rights, and engage in diplomacy to push the Rohingya crisis towards a solution.

By taking these phases, NU can contribute to building a more peaceful and harmonious Indonesia and set an example for other religious organizations. Religious diplomacy by organizations like NU can effectively promote peace and resolve conflicts in several ways, for instance, by bridging divides, building trust, promoting peaceful resolution of conflicts, and providing cultural and religious context.

However, it is important to note that the effectiveness of religious diplomacy can also be limited by factors such as a lack of resources, political polarization, and the complexity of conflicts. Nevertheless, the role of religious organizations in promoting peace and resolving conflicts should not be underestimated, and their contributions should be acknowledged and supported.

Source: The Diplomat

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

https://thediplomat.com/2023/02/nahdlatul-ulama-at-100-opportunities-and-challenges/

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Family seeks answers for Malaysia’s missing pastor

February 14, 2023

The family of Malaysian Anglican pastor Raymond Koh who went missing six years ago vowed not to rest until they find answers for his mysterious disappearance, the pastor's wife said.

Koh’s wife Suzanna Liew and other family members attended a vigil at the Council of Churches Malaysia in Petaling Jaya on Feb. 12, to mark the sixth anniversary of his abduction, the Malay Mail reported.

“We do not have any updates; no news from the authorities and government,” Liew said in her speech. “However, we still hold on to hope.”

The case of Pastor Koh is one of several high-profile abduction cases in Malaysia in recent years. He was abducted after Islamic radical groups accused him of proselytizing among Muslims in Selangor state.

Liew said the ordeal since Koh’s disappearance has taken a toll on her and the family.

Despite no apparent progress on Koh’s disappearance, Liew said she holds on to the belief she will be reunited with her husband one day “either in this world or the next.”

In a pre-recorded video filmed in the United States, Koh’s daughter, Elizabeth, offered some insight into how the family has tried to cope, sharing lessons she learned from her journey following her father’s abduction, likening the six years to the six strings of a guitar.

Elizabeth said that the first year represented emptiness to her, while the years afterward were full of anxiety, doubt, growth, bravery, and endurance.

“The sixth year that starts this year, I want it to be the year of endurance — doing it again,” the Malay Mail quoted her in the report.

“Going through the pain again. Going through the dark again and again and again,” she added describing the agony and sorrow she has experienced since her father’s disappearance.

Friends of the family and church members also shared their testimonies of Pastor Koh.

Sharmaine Nathan, a single mother and family friend to the Koh family, credited Pastor Koh with her children’s good upbringing.

She said the Kohs provided a family setting through the church services held at their home, and the pastor had left her with a legacy to care for the needy, underprivileged, and downtrodden.

A musician identified only as Gavin said Pastor Koh was a proud Malaysian who wanted to preserve the Malaysian identity in Christian worship and wrote many songs in the local language--Bahasa Malaysia.

Lawyer Jerald Gomez, who is representing Liew in the lawsuit she filed, urged those gathered to show up at the court hearings scheduled from June 5-8 in a show of support for the Koh family.

“Show the court that we have not forgotten Pastor Koh or his family. We remember and we stand together in solidarity,” he said.

On Feb. 11, 2020, Liew filed a lawsuit against 13 defendants, including the government of Malaysia, the then inspectors-general of police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar and Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun, and the then principal assistant director of Special Branch’s Social Extremism Division, Datuk Awaludin Jadid.

Pastor Koh was reportedly abducted on the morning of Feb. 13, 2017, while driving his car from his house to his workplace in Kelana Jaya of Selangor state.

His car had been reportedly surrounded by seven vehicles and about 15 masked individuals, and he has been missing ever since.

Liew's lawsuit claims that the police and government had violated her and her husband's rights in their failures to stop the abduction and to disclose his location. Her suit also accused them of misfeasance in public office, conspiracy to injure and negligence.

On April 3, 2019, the National Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) concluded its public inquiry and made the findings that the government's agents, namely the police's Special Branch, had carried out the enforced disappearance of Pastor Koh and activist Amri Che Mat.

Amri Che Mat, a Shia Muslim social activist from Perlis state, went missing on Nov. 24, 2016.

Pastor Joshua Hilmy, a Malay Muslim who converted to Christianity, and his wife Ruth Sitepu, an Indonesian, also went missing in November 2016.

About 60 percent of Malaysia’s estimated 32 million citizens are Muslim, 20 percent Buddhist, and about 10 percent Christian, according to 2018 government estimates.

Source: UCA News

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

https://www.ucanews.com/news/family-seeks-answers-for-malaysias-missing-pastor/100368

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Companies and banks the next target for cheap Rahmah meals

13 Feb 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: The government is considering to expand the Menu Rahmah initiative to enable participation from the corporate and banking sectors.

Domestic trade and cost of living minister Salahuddin Ayub said Putrajaya has received a lot of positive feedback on the initiative through engagement sessions with food and clothing industry operators and believes it would be the same with the corporate and banking sectors.

“If we have (an engagement session) with major corporations like Petronas, Sime Darby and other government-linked companies (GLC), as well as banks, I’m confident even more companies will come forward to assist the government in reducing the cost of living,” he said after officiating the Menu Rahmah programme by the Muslim Restaurant Owners Association Malaysia (Presma) at Stadium Nasi Kandar restaurant here.

The Menu Rahmah initiative, which offers meals at RM5 and below, was launched in January as part of the government’s efforts to reduce the people’s burden, especially those in the B40 segment of society.

He also said his ministry still has a period of four months to conduct engagement sessions with the corporate and banking sectors.

Commenting on those who say that the Menu Rahmah programme was not sustainable in the long run and could only last for three months, Salahuddin said his ministry had not set any timeline or key performance indicators (KPI).

“We do not take it as KPI, what’s important right now is that the government, especially this ministry, takes the best approach to ensure no Malaysian goes hungry.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2023/02/13/govt-may-expand-menu-rahmah-initiative-to-corporate-and-banking-sectors/

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Japan PM expresses concern over Israel-Palestine tensions

February 14, 2023

TOKYO: Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed concern to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the escalating tension between Israel and Palestine and the unilateral measures being taken by both sides during a telephone conversation on Monday.

Kishida spoke with Netanyahu for approximately 15 minutes on Monday evening and stated that he would like to continue to develop the bilateral relationship in a wide range of fields, including economics and technology. The two countries celebrated the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations last year.

In response, Netanyahu expressed his expectations of strengthening cooperation and the further development of bilateral relations.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2250836/world

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China, Iran impervious to US unease about growing ties: China daily

14 February 2023

The Chinese state-run daily Global Times has dismissed Western countries’ unease about growing relations between Beijing and Tehran, saying both capitals should remain impervious to the West’s “arrogant” attitude in this regard.

In an editorial published on Tuesday, the newspaper emphasized that the huge potential for win-win cooperation between China and Iran cannot be blocked by "the political forces" of the US and the West.

“With a narrow-minded mindset, some US and Western public opinion appeared rather odd in viewing the relationship between China and Iran, hyping that both China and Iran are ‘opposed’ to the US and claiming that cooperation between the two sides will ‘weaken US efforts to isolate Iran.’ Such zero-sum thinking is arrogant, unreasonable and overbearing,” the article read.

“China and Iran do not need to act according to their (Western) attitude, and it is even less likely that the two sides will reduce exchanges because some people are unhappy.”

It also attached importance to Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi’s China visit on February 14-16, during which the two countries are expected to sign a number of cooperative documents and expand the 25-year comprehensive strategic partnership agreement.

The article further described Raeisi’s trip as “very natural,” noting that the China-Iran relations have a strong endogenous driving force.

“Some US and Western media outlets viewed President Raeisi’s China visit as China and Iran ‘huddling together for warmth.’ Such view is not surprising to us, since it’s a result of their binary opposition thinking, and also because Washington has distorted the international landscape. Through a distorted mirror, all things that the US and the West see are twisted. However, it must be said this underestimates China-Iran relations. As an old saying goes: How can a sparrow know the will of a swan?”

China is Iran’s first export destination and the second source of imports. Both countries are subject to different levels of illegal sanctions imposed by the US.

Raeisi’s state visit to China is the first by an Iranian president in 20 years.

During the trip, the two countries seek to operationalize the comprehensive strategic partnership agreement, which was signed in March 2021, in an attempt to strengthen their long-standing economic and political alliance.

Iran is an important country in China’s high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative while China is the target partner of Iran’s “looking east” policy, the article underlined.

It drew attention to “anti-hegemony and anti-bullying feature” of China-Iran cooperation which has been deepening despite interference and sabotage by the US side.

“Both China and Iran uphold independent foreign policies, firmly defend the principle of non-interference in internal affairs on international occasions, and safeguard the common interests of developing countries. This is conducive to promoting the multi-polarization and diversified development of the world, and conforms to the general trend of the times,” it read.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/02/14/698200/China-Iran-Global-Times-West

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Europe

 

Blinken, UN chief discuss humanitarian access in quake-hit Syria

Servet Günerigök  

15.02.2023

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held talks Tuesday with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on facilitating humanitarian access in Syria following the recent earthquakes, said the State Department.

The two men spoke "on the urgent need to facilitate humanitarian access in Syria so the UN and humanitarian actors can deliver life-saving assistance to those affected by the February 6 earthquakes," said spokesman Ned Price in a statement.

"Secretary Blinken underscored the need for the Assad regime to meet its commitment, as stated to the UN on February 13, to open the Bab Al Salam and Al Rai border crossings for humanitarian purposes, including through Security Council authorization, if necessary," said the statement.

Blinken noted that "an expanded resolution would give the UN and humanitarian actors the flexibility and predictability they need to more effectively deliver aid to people in need in Syria," it said.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/blinken-un-chief-discuss-humanitarian-access-in-quake-hit-syria/2820104

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NATO to send over 1,000 containers to Türkiye for housing earthquake survivors

Aysu Biçer 

15.02.2023

LONDON

NATO is making preparations for the transportation of over 1,000 shipping containers that it will send to Türkiye for the shelter of people affected by last week’s twin earthquakes that hit the southern part of the country.

"This semi-permanent shelter is capable of housing at least 2,000 people displaced by the earthquakes in Türkiye and consists of more than 1,000 shipping containers," NATO's Joint Force Command in Naples said on Twitter.

"NATO has begun expediting the shipment of this capability and is expected to be able to begin transit of the first shipment as early as next week," it added.

The NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) has begun moving containers stored at its Southern Operational Center in Taranto, Italy to their port of embarkation for shipment to Türkiye.

At least 35,418 people were killed by two strong earthquakes that jolted southern Türkiye on Feb. 6, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 tremors last week were centered in Kahramanmaras and struck nine other provinces – Hatay, Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Malatya, Adana, Diyarbakir, Kilis, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa. More than 13 million people have been affected by the devastating quakes.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/nato-to-send-over-1-000-containers-to-turkiye-for-housing-earthquake-survivors/2820088

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Britain’s King Charles meets Turkiye-Syria earthquake volunteers

February 14, 2023

LONDON: Britain’s King Charles met volunteers from the Turkish and Syrian diasporas in London on Tuesday to express his support after more than 37,000 people died and thousands left homeless by the recent earthquake in Turkiye and north-west Syria.

Charles shook hands with charity workers during a visit to West London Turkish Volunteers (WLTV), and chatted with them as they packed scarves, blankets, jumpers, and packets of biscuits as part of earthquake relief efforts.

He also formally launched Syria’s House, a temporary Syrian community tent in Trafalgar Square in central London, where he met the capital’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, among others.

Britain dispatched 76 search-and-rescue specialists and equipment as an immediate response to the disaster on Feb. 6, and has since set out further support, including items such as tents and blankets. The combined death toll has now crossed 37,000.

After the disaster Charles said he “wanted to convey our deepest and most heartfelt sympathy to the families of all those who have lost their loved ones.”

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2251201/middle-east

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Greek rescuers praise quake survivors in Turkish province for welcoming them wholeheartedly

Ahmet Gençtürk  

15.02.2023

The first batch of Greek rescuers who returned to their country after a relief mission in the quake-stricken Turkish province of Hatay praised the local survivors for the warm welcome they received.

“Despite all the hardships they’ve had to endure, the Turkish people gave us a very friendly welcome and treated us as family members,” said one of the rescuers during a press conference.

“When we had to take breaks, the people approached us to offer hot tea, biscuits, sweets and bread,” he said.

“When they learned we were Greeks, they opened their arms wide and embraced us,” he added.

The rescuer said they did what they should as neighbors.

“From our experience, we know that in a disaster, you first ask for help from your next-door neighbor and then from the rest of the wider neighborhood.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Katsaniotis, who is in charge of coordinating Greek humanitarian aid to Türkiye, announced on Twitter that a truckload of aid collected by the Athens chapter of the Greek Scout Corps had left during the day for Türkiye and another batch of aid collected in the northern port city of Thessaloniki will depart on Feb. 17.

A ship loaded with 1,000 tons of food, medicine and at least 200 large bags of clothes will depart Wednesday from the port city of Piraeus.

At least 35,418 people were killed by two strong earthquakes that jolted southern Türkiye on Feb. 6, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 tremors last week were centered in Kahramanmaras and struck nine other provinces – Hatay, Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Malatya, Adana, Diyarbakir, Kilis, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa. More than 13 million people have been affected by the devastating quakes.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/greek-rescuers-praise-quake-survivors-in-turkish-province-for-welcoming-them-wholeheartedly/2820107

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Over 100 Bulgarians take part in rescue work after deadly quakes in Türkiye

Gokhan Balci and Mustafa Deveci

14.02.2023

More than 100 search and rescue personnel and health staff from Bulgaria are in southern Türkiye to assist in efforts to help survivors after last week's massive earthquakes.

Twelve Bulgarian search and rescue specialists, along with four sniffer dogs and two vehicles, have joined efforts in Hatay province after serving in Adana, another quake-hit province, where 15 other search and rescue personnel continue to work, according to the Bulgarian Embassy in Ankara.

A medical team from the Bulgarian Health Academy was also later sent to Adana.

With 58 people and 18 vehicles, a search and rescue team from Bulgaria's Interior Ministry has aided efforts in the Besni district of Adiyaman province further east.

Also, 28 volunteers from the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv are helping in rescue efforts in Adana after the earthquakes.

Last Monday's magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 tremors were centered in Kahramanmaras and hit nine other provinces – Hatay, Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Malatya, Adana, Diyarbakir, Kilis, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa. They also hit several countries and caused widespread destruction in northern Syria.

More than 31,900 people were killed in Türkiye, according to the latest official figures, while the death toll topped 3,600 in Syria.

Radio Bulgaria has also reported that a group of Bulgarian volunteers are serving in search and rescue operations in Hatay, severely hit by the earthquakes.

"Under its Civil Protection Mechanism, the EU has already dispatched 38 rescue teams comprising more than 1,600 rescuers and 106 dogs. Separately, 12 member countries have sent 50,000 winter weather family tents, 100,000 blankets and 50,000 heaters," it added.

Bulgaria not just helping, also assisting transit of European aid

Located just northwest of Türkiye on the road between it and the rest of Europe, Bulgaria has also been helping European support get to the disaster zone, according to the Turkish envoy in Sofia.

"Bulgaria is not just sending aid. Since it is on the transit route, it also facilitates the passage of other aid from Europe. For the last two days, nearly 1,000 aid trucks have been passing through Bulgaria to Türkiye every day," Turkish Ambassador Aylin Sekizkok said on Twitter.

After several aid trucks mistakenly took a wrong turn near the northwestern Bulgarian city of Vidin, which is on the border with neighboring Romania, they were stranded in the snow and faced fines from the authorities.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/over-100-bulgarians-take-part-in-rescue-work-after-deadly-quakes-in-turkiye/2819353

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Quake disaster turns waters disputed between Türkiye, Greece into channels of brotherhood

Riyaz ul Khaliq  

14.02.2023

The seismic catastrophe that befell Türkiye last week appears to have triggered a change in its relations with Greece, as the waters that lay at the very heart of their disputes has now become channels of brotherhood by carrying rescue teams for quake survivors.

Greek volunteers are rushing to southern Türkiye to help search for any survivors trapped in mountains of debris, sailing through a sea which has been a persistent source of maritime tensions between Ankara and Athens.

A group of 35 Greek search and rescue personnel are busy in the southern Kahramanmaras province looking for earthquake survivors.

They reached Kahramanmaras on Saturday night after traveling around 30 hours from Athens.

“We used a boat from Mitilini port on the Lesbos (Midilli) island along with our emergency vehicles,” Kostas Tsakonas, one of 35 members of the Civil Protection volunteer group, told Anadolu while he was busy coordinating with other volunteers searching for survivors trapped in the wreckage.

The group has 11 women members, including a medical doctor.

“When we reached (Türkiye), the first message we received was: ‘Welcome brothers’,” he said.

The volunteer group has a sniffer dog, medicine, an ambulance, seven vehicles and a huge amount of equipment and tools for search and rescue to help find survivors. The group was facilitated by Turkish authorities to cross the sea from across Lesbos.

The waters between Türkiye and Greece often see tensions over maritime claims besides the pushback of migrants by Athens.

But the quake tragedy that struck Türkiye last week, causing at least 31,643 deaths, seems to have changed the weather of the bilateral relations.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias on Sunday became the first top diplomat from any European country to pay a solidarity visit to Türkiye in the wake of the disaster brought by the earthquakes.

He visited the southern Hatay province, where he was received by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who said Türkiye and Greece should not wait for another earthquake to mend the fences.

The Greek volunteer said the situation in Kahramanmaras province, the ground zero of the twin quakes, was “terrible,” which had left many of the team members “crying.”

Greeks are among over 9,400 international search and rescue personnel from 77 countries who have flown to Türkiye since last week to join the efforts to search for survivors.

‘Moved by strength of Turks’

A few 100 meters away, an Egypt-based Japanese journalist is in deep thoughts, looking at the widespread destruction caused by the earthquakes.

“I feel sorry for this tragedy,” said the journalist, who identified himself as Iyori.

He, however, stressed that the local people were “strong.”

“I am moved by the strength of the people here. Even when they are suffering, they are offering tea, food and other things,” he said, recalling the 2011 earthquake that had struck Japan, triggering a tsunami which destroyed the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Citing Japan’s experience as one of the most seismically vulnerable countries, Iyori emphasized the need for taking proper measures with regards to construction and building laws.

“This is for our children … This is for our future generations,” he stressed.

Nearby a Chinese doctor and her colleague are standing as other volunteers from their group are searching for survivors.

After seeing this “serious earthquake,” the doctor told Anadolu via an interpreter: “We felt it as our responsibility to join the efforts to look for survivors.”

The doctor is part of a 16-member team affiliated with the Red Cross Society of China.

There are around 17 different teams from China working across quake-hit southern Türkiye.

Soup, tea, books amid heaps of rubble

As various search teams continue their relentless efforts to look for survivors, body bags of victims continue to be transported out of neighborhoods for final rites.

A member of the Kuwait Fire Force told Anadolu that around 45 of his colleagues flew to Türkiye soon after the earthquakes last week. They recovered a lot of bodies.

As Türkiye gradually moves out of the first phase of post-quake operations towards recovery, residents of this southern province of over half a million people are struggling with air heavily filled with dust and streets blocked with rubble as roadsides hum with dozens of volunteer groups serving victim families, relatives, friends, and search and rescue personnel with soup, food and tea.

Mounds of books have piled up along the pathways while researchers from Japan are briskly traversing the mountains of rubble, taking pictures of damaged buildings and later analyzing the situation.

Late in the evening, people are seen making beelines along the pathways where electricity is running to charge their mobile phones as the earthquakes temporarily disrupted telecommunication, water and electricity supplies in damaged areas.

The first 7.7 magnitude earthquake hit Kahramanmaras around 4:17 a.m. (0117GMT) on Feb. 6 and the second 7.6 magnitude earthquake followed nine hours later, causing widespread death and destruction in at least 10 southern provinces of the country.

More than 13 million people were affected across 10 provinces, including Hatay, Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Malatya, Adana, Diyarbakir, Kilis, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa.

Thousands of people have been evacuated from quake-hit regions, while more than 238,500 search and rescue personnel are currently working in the field, according to the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD).

Nearly 155,400 tents have been set up for the survivors, AFAD said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last Friday that Türkiye is facing one of the biggest disasters in its modern history.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/quake-disaster-turns-waters-disputed-between-turkiye-greece-into-channels-of-brotherhood/2818797

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Spanish rescue teams praise Turkish people's 'extraordinary solidarity' during search efforts

Şenhan Bolelli

14.02.2023

Spanish rescue teams on Monday praised the support of local people and authorities during their mission in southern Türkiye, which was hit by two powerful earthquakes last week.

Spain was one of the countries that responded most rapidly to Türkiye's call for international assistance last Monday, when the twin earthquakes struck.

The team of 84 people consisting of logistics, coordination and health personnel was sent to Türkiye together with a field hospital equipped with the latest technology and drugs, capable of caring for 150-200 patients per day, hosting 20 people in beds, and performing surgery.

After completing their work on the ground, three teams from Spanish non-governmental organizations returned to their country.

"The love and solidarity we saw was incredible and we are glad to have done a good job. It was very difficult and we tried to do our best," Cinthia Morales, a member of the Firefighters Without Borders team, told Anadolu at the Madrid's Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas.

"We are glad to have done a good job. It was very difficult and we tried to do our best. We worked very well and coordinated with the Turkish authorities and volunteers," she added.

Morales underlined that she had experienced very difficult times during the rescue efforts in Türkiye, saying that there were tough moments, especially when they realize that the condition of a person they pulled from the rubble was taking a turn for the worse.

"Those moments were very difficult. We were worried for the person's life, but we brought them back to life with the intervention of our team and paramedics," she said.

Florentino Luque, another member of the rescue team, said they helped locate and remove a person stuck under the rubble.

"We also talked to the hospital where he was taken and heard that he was in good health. That's enough for us," he said.

He also voiced appreciation for the love that the Turkish people showed towards them from the first moment of their arrival.

"They treated us very well. They made everything easy and helpful. The experience we had with the Turkish people was extraordinary for us. They were with us at every moment and tried to help us," he said.

"We need to mention that the (local) people met us with an utter, extraordinary solidarity," he added

At least 31,643 people were killed by two strong earthquakes that jolted southern Türkiye last Monday, according to the latest official figures.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes, centered in the Kahramanmaras province, affected more than 13 million people across 10 provinces, including Hatay, Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Malatya, Adana, Diyarbakir, Kilis, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa.

Several countries in the region, including Syria and Lebanon, also felt the strong tremors that struck Türkiye in less than 10 hours.

Nearly 238,500 search and rescue personnel are currently working in the field, and over 158,00 people have been evacuated from the quake-hit regions so far, according to the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD).

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/spanish-rescue-teams-praise-turkish-peoples-extraordinary-solidarity-during-search-efforts/2818591

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Arab World

 

February 14 Revolution: Top Bahraini Cleric Calls On Nation to Amplify Efforts for Change

14 February 2023

Bahrain’s most prominent cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim says the anniversary of the country’s 2011 popular uprising against the ruling Al Khalifah regime is an occasion to renew allegiance to changing the black history of the Persian Gulf country.

Sheikh Qassim called on Bahrainis to double down on their efforts for change during a ceremony in the holy Iranian city of Qom on Monday evening, on the eve of the February 14 Revolution.

He censured the Manama regime for marginalizing Bahraini people, clampdown on seminaries and religious schools, and attempting to Judaize the Arab nation.

The senior cleric slammed the flagrant violation of the rights of political opponents and pro-democracy campaigners, who are incarcerated at the Bahraini regime’s jails and detention centres.

He said some of those who have been released from prison are either physically disabled or have been mentally tortured.

During his televised speech, Sheikh Qassim also said that the Tel Aviv regime, through the normalization project, chiefly seeks to alienate Muslim societies and push them to accept Western civilization and serve its material goals.

He lashed at the Al Khalifah regime over disallowing rallies in condemnation of recent desecrations of the Holy Qur’an and Islamophobic acts, warning it would not take long for Bahrainis to be obligated to apply for permits for congregational prayers and religious rituals in case state officials do not change their repressive policies.

Anti-monarchy demonstrations began on February 14, 2011, and have been held on a regular basis ever since the popular uprising started.

Demonstrators demand that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power, and a democratic, just system representing all Bahrainis be established.

The ruthless Manama regime, however, has responded to demands for social equality with an iron fist, clamping down on voices of dissent.

In March 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of opposition civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to the imposition of an undeclared martial law.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/02/14/698196/Top-Bahraini-cleric-calls-on-nation-change-country-black-history

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Saudi project clears 1,387 Houthi mines in Yemen

February 14, 2023

Riyadh: An ongoing Saudi program to clear landmines in Yemen saw 1,387 devices laid by the Iran-backed Houthis dismantled in the first week of February.

Overseen by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, special teams destroyed hundreds of anti-personnel and anti-tank mines, unexploded ordnances, and other explosive devices.

The KSrelief project, known as Masam, is one of several initiatives undertaken by Saudi Arabia on the orders of King Salman to help the Yemeni people.

Masam teams clear routes for much-needed humanitarian aid aimed at supporting the country’s citizens.

The demining operations took place in Marib, Aden, Jouf, Shabwa, Taiz, Hodeidah, Lahij, Sanaa, Al-Bayda, Al-Dhale, and Saada.

A total of 386,282 mines have been cleared since the start of the project.
Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2251051/saudi-arabia

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At UN, China calls for sanctions on quake-hit Syria to be lifted

14 February 2023

China has called for the immediate lifting of unilateral sanctions on Syria in the wake of a devastating earthquake in the Arab country. 

Speaking at a meeting on children and armed conflict at the UN Security Council on Monday, Zhang Jun, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations said it was a “harsh reality” that unilateral sanctions were seriously damaging the economic foundation and development of affected countries and depriving many children of their fundamental rights.

The envoy said “illegal unilateral sanctions” on Syria caused a serious shortage of rescue equipment, and expressed concern that children trapped under the rubble might not be rescued in time.

“We once again urge countries to lift all illegal unilateral sanctions immediately and unconditionally. We urge them not to be accomplices of natural disasters, not to rob children of their hope of survival and not to engage in hypocritical political acts.”

Zhang said children were the most innocent group and the most vulnerable victims in armed conflicts, and stressed that conflict prevention and resolution had to be the primary and ultimate means of protecting them. He emphasized the need for countries to act according to the UN Charter and follow the rule of law in preventing conflict.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Chinese envoy also urged “the last country in the world” that had not ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to act without delay, so the “vital convention can truly achieve universal coverage.” The United States remains the only country that has not ratified the convention.

The development came as the death toll from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Turkey and neighboring Syria on February 6 has approached than 36,000.

As rescue efforts continue in the war-torn Syria following massive earthquakes there, calls are growing for the US and its allies to remove their sanctions, which are hampering international aid efforts in the country.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning recently urged the US to remove its unilateral sanctions on Syria and provide convenience for humanitarian assistance to the quake-hit regions in the Arab country.

Mao said the US was to blame for the Syrian crisis with its military interventions and harsh economic sanctions, which have caused a large number of civilian casualties and made it difficult for people to obtain basic living standards.

Syria has been a target of US sanctions since 1979. Since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, the US and its Western allies have dramatically tightened their economic sanctions and restrictions on the Arab country. The US sanctions intensified with the passing of the Caesar Act in 2019, which targeted any individual and business that participated in reconstruction efforts in Syria either directly or indirectly.

Earlier, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said the US sanctions were blocking humanitarian work in Syria. In a statement, the ministry said that Syrians, while dealing with the earthquake catastrophe, were digging through the rubble with their own hands or using the simplest tools because equipment to remove the rubble was banned by the US sanctions.

It said that the Syrians were are also denied access to medicines and medical equipment that would help them fend off diseases and health hazards.

During a meeting with Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator at the United Nations Martin Griffiths and an accompanying delegation in the Syrian capital city of Damascus on Tuesday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad discussed the aftermath of last week’s deadly earthquake in the worst-affected areas of Latakia, Hama, Aleppo and Idlib.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/02/14/698221/At-UN-China-calls-for-sanctions-on-quake-hit-Syria-to-be-lifted

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In Idlib, Syrians pick up pieces alone after earthquake

15 February ,2023

After more than a decade of bombardment, dwindling international support, and a crippling economic crisis, Syria’s opposition-held northwest was already barely hanging on when calamity struck.

Instead of bombs from the sky, the earth rumbled from below early on the morning of February 6 – sending multi-storey cinderblock houses tumbling onto the heads of residents.

The earthquake left more than 35,000 people dead in Turkey, where international help could easily flow in. But the complex politics of humanitarian assistance in Syria’s opposition-held northwest left many war-weary citizens there fending for

themselves.

Walid Ibrahim lost more than two dozen of his family members – among them his brother, his cousin, and all their children. He only managed to remove their bodies from under the rubble two days after the quake.

“We were removing rock after rock and finding nothing underneath. People were under the concrete screaming, ‘get us out! Get us out!’ But we'd come up with empty hands,” he said.

“Your hands alone aren't enough.”

Parts of the provinces of Idlib and adjacent Aleppo held by Turkey-backed rebels suffered the bulk of the quake’s casualties in Syria: over 4,000 of the entire Syrian death toll of more than 5,800, according to the United Nations and government authorities.

Four Syrian towns in a stretch bordering Turkey were among the hardest hit: Salqin, Harem, Jinderis and Atareb.

On an organised press tour on Tuesday, Reuters saw around 20 men and boys trying to salvage what they could from pulverized homes in Harem and its outskirts, without protective gear or uniforms.

Only some wore work gloves, covered in the grey-white dust of smashed cinderblocks. Even their eyelashes, cracked lips and beards were coated in the chalky substance.

One man prayed among the rubble as a lone excavator cleared debris. Children chased each other around mounds of ruins and twisted rebar.

‘Hardest week’

The frontlines had become relatively quiet over a decade into the conflict - which erupted in 2011 with protests against President Bashar al-Assad that ended up carving the country into competing cantons.

Raed Saleh, who heads the ‘White Helmets’ rescue force operating in opposition-held areas, is more accustomed to rescuing victims of bombardment.

He said rescuers had been allowed to go home to see their families for the first time on Tuesday, after round-the-clock operations for the last eight days that required every volunteer and every piece of equipment.

“It was the hardest week of our lives,” he said.

“What happened to us – it’s the first time it’s happened around the world. There was an earthquake and the international community and the UN don't help,” he said.

Saleh and others in the northwest said more lives could have been saved in Syria if the outside world had acted faster.

The earthquake hit Turkish cities where major humanitarian organizations running aid operations in Syria are based and the single border crossing from Turkey was closed for days.

Dozens of UN aid trucks later brought food and medicine through that crossing, authorized by a 2014 Security Council resolution that allowed aid into Syria without Assad’s approval.

On Tuesday, a second border crossing for aid delivery was opened after Assad gave his assent, marking a shift for Damascus which has long opposed cross-border aid deliveries to the rebel enclave.

But the move was met with skepticism and even anger by many residents of Idlib, where a bulk of the 4 million residents hail from other bombed-out provinces.

“If Assad wanted to help these poor people, then he wouldn’t have displaced them to begin with,” said Joumaa Ramadan, a day laborer.

The trucks included none of the heavy equipment and machines that rescuers say they need to remove rubble faster – and that could have helped with reconstruction.

Syria’s economic crisis may also hinder rebuilding, with 77 percent of households already unable to secure their basic needs, according to a UN assessment.

Those in Idlib have no choice but to rebuild, with Turkey, which hosts 3.6 million Syrians, no longer accepting others, while many fear to cross the frontline into areas controlled by Assad’s forces. But resources are scarce.

“The situation is really tragic,” said Abdulrahman Mohammad, a displaced Syrian originally from the neighboring province of Aleppo.

“Anyone who is working as a laborer and renting a house... If you need $10 a day in expenses and you can barely get that –how are you supposed to rebuild?” he said.

Hospitals used all of their reserves of medical equipment treating the quake victims, said Abdulrazzaq Zaqzouq, a local representative for the Syrian-American Medical Society.

Health Minister Hussein Bazar, of the self-declared Salvation Government in northwest Syria, said that the displacement of tens of thousands could lead to a “massive” surge in the cholera outbreak already ravaging the water-stressed zone, as well as a spike in other diseases.

“This is not about a tent or a bite of food. That’s not the essential thing for people,” he said.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/15/In-Idlib-Syrians-pick-up-pieces-alone-after-earthquake

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Qatar donates World Cup mobile homes to Turkey earthquake survivors

14 February ,2023

Qatar plans to send 10,000 cabins and caravans from last year’s World Cup to provide shelter for survivors of the Turkish earthquakes, officials said.

The Gulf nation says it had always planned to donate the mobile homes. They were needed to help house some of the 1.4 million fans who descended on the small country during soccer’s biggest tournament.

An initial batch of 350 structures was shipped out on Sunday, the Qatar Fund for Development said.

The magnitude 7.8 and 7.5 quakes that struck nine hours apart on February 6 killed more than 35,000 people in southeastern Turkey and war-torn northern Syria. The toll is expected to climb even further as search and rescue teams find more bodies.

Tens of thousands of buildings were destroyed or severely damaged, leaving millions homeless. As shelters filled up in the days after the quake many were forced to sleep outside in wet, wintry weather.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2023/02/14/Qatar-donates-World-Cup-mobile-homes-to-Turkey-earthquake-survivors

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Gulf countries raise $385 million in donations for quake victims in Türkiye, Syria

Ibrahim El-Khazen  

14.02.2023

A week after the two deadly earthquakes that jolted Türkiye and Syria on Feb. 6, around $385 million have been raised in Gulf donations for the quake victims in the two countries.

The powerful quakes killed at least 31,974 people in Türkiye and injured more than 81,000 others, according to the country's disaster agency AFAD.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes, centered in the Kahramanmaras province, were felt by 13 million people across 10 provinces in Türkiye, and also affected several countries in the region.

In Syria, at least 3,688 people were killed and over 14,749 injured in the earthquake disaster.

Saudi Arabia

The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center launched a donation campaign on Feb. 8 for the earthquake victims in Türkye and Syria.

The campaign saw the participation of more than 1,545,000 people, according to data released by the Saudi government's Sahem Platform, which is responsible for the popular campaign for the relief of the quake victims in the two countries.

A total of 344.8 million riyals ($89.2 million) have been collected for the quake victims as part of the popular donation campaign.

Qatar

Qatar saw the launch of “Oun w Sanad” (Support and Help) campaign on Feb. 10 by the Regulatory Authority for Charitable Activities and the Qatar Media Corporation for the quake victims in Türkiye and Syria.

The campaign collected around 168 million Qatari riyals ($46 million) on its first day, including 50 million riyals ($14 million) from Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

The Qatar Red Crescent also allocated $1 million from the Disaster Response Fund for urgent relief to those affected by the earthquakes in the two countries.

The Qatar Red Crescent also launched a humanitarian campaign to collect donations worth $10 million to expand the scope of relief intervention for the quake victims in Türkiye and Syria.

Qatar Charity also said it will deliver 6 million riyals ($1.6 million) in the first phase of aid for the quake victims in both countries, according to the state news agency QNA.

The charity also said it is preparing a plan worth 21.9 million riyals ($5.77 million), which includes an urgent response worth 7.3 million riyals ($2 million), and early recovery and reconstruction projects worth 14.6 million riyals ($4 million).

UAE

Immediately after the devastating earthquakes, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), ordered the provision of $100 million for relief to those affected by the quake disaster in Türkiye and Syria.

UAE Vice-President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum also directed urgent humanitarian aid to the Syrian people, at a value of 50 million dirhams ($13.6 million).

On Feb. 9, Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, ordered the provision of 50 million dirhams ($13.6 million) to support the “Bridges of Good” campaign for quake victims in Türkiye and Syria.

The campaign was officially launched on Feb. 11 and is planned to last for two weeks to collect donations for those affected by the quakes.

On Feb. 10, Al Ansari Exchange, a leading foreign exchange company, announced its donation of 3.67 million dirhams ($1 million) in support of relief efforts for those affected by the disaster.

On Feb. 11, Mubadala Investment Company announced its donation of the proceeds from the tickets for the final and semi-finals of the "Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open" tennis tournament for women, to the “Bridges of Good” campaign.

Kuwait

On Feb. 9, the Kuwaiti cabinet announced the donation of $30 million to alleviate the human suffering of those affected by the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria.

And on Feb. 11, several ministries in the Gulf country, including the Ministry of Social Affairs, launched a one-day donation campaign for the relief of those affected by the disaster.

The campaign collected more than 20.7 million dinars ($67.7 million), with the participation of more than 129,000 donors.

Bahrain

Bahrain announced the launch of a national donation campaign on Feb. 9 to support the earthquake victims in Türkiye and Syria.

A day earlier, Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the King's Representative for Humanitarian Works and Youth Affairs, issued an invitation for donations as part of the campaign.

No details were yet available about the results of the campaign.

Oman

On Feb. 7, the Omani Authority for Charitable Activities launched initiatives to collect donations and aid for the quake victims in Türkiye and Syria.

On the same day, the Omani Dar Al Atta'a Association started a campaign to collect donations to help the earthquake victims.

According to the local Al Shabiba newspaper, the campaign by the Dar Al Atta'a Charity Association collected around $650,000 in the first two days of its launch.

Since the earthquake disaster, 16 Arab countries officially announced the launch of air bridges and the provision of urgent relief and medical aid to support Türkiye, according to official statements.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/gulf-countries-raise-385-million-in-donations-for-quake-victims-in-turkiye-syria/2819441

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