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Islamic World News ( 26 March 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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WhatsApp Status on Pakistan Republic Day Lands Karnataka Muslim Woman in Jail

New Age Islam News Bureau

26 March 2022


Photo: The New Indian Express


• Australian Special Forces ‘Incentivized’ To Kill Afghan Prisoners, Assistant Defence Minister Admits

• US Cancels Talks with Taliban Over U-Turn on Girls’ Education

• Israel to Host Top Diplomats of UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, US

• ISIS-Sympathizing Teens Allegedly Plotted a ‘Spring Break’ Mosque Attack



• Lawyers Write to Karnataka Chief Minister, Seek Action against Saffronists for Preventing Muslim Traders in Temple Fairs

• Hindu Outfits Want Shops Of Muslims Shut During 16-Day Car Festival In Karnataka's Belur

• Lone Muslim Mantri Vows to End Minority's BJP Phobia in Uttar Pradesh

• Muslims Traders Must Stay Out Of Sagar Fair Too: VHP

• PFI vows to stand with Muslim girl students against hijab ban

• Round table meeting to discuss promises made by KCR to Muslims

• Uniform Civil Code: US body condemns Uttarakhand govt’s move



• 15 Islamic State Fighters Killed By Airstrike in Mali: France

• Position on procurement of Russian S-400s unchanged: Turkey’s President Erdogan

• ‘Nothing can be done’ about placing sanctions on Russia: Turkey’s Erdogan

• Turkiye 'very important actor' in push to end Russia-Ukraine war: EU envoy

• Former Iran detainee criticizes UK PM’s ‘opportunism’ after release


North America

• US, UK slap new sanctions on Myanmar after genocide designation

• Maine teen accused of plotting to attack a Chicago area mosque

• US to increase pressure on Iran if nuclear diplomacy fails: White House



• Speaker: Iran Friend of Lebanon in Hard Times

• Iran's Top Negotiator Hopes for Tangible, Lasting Results in Vienna Talks

• Iran Condemns Looting of Syria's Natural Resources

• Iranian FM, Hezbollah Chief Meet in Beirut

• Jerusalem’s Christian population sees steep decline: Church leader


Arab World

• Egyptian authorities seize funds of 20 Muslim Brotherhood figures

• ‘Hostile operation’ targeted Aramco facility in Jeddah: Arab Coalition

• Rocket attack causes ‘limited fire’ in Saudi Arabia’s Jazan

• Saudi Arabia’s defences destroy ballistic missile, explosive-laden drone

• Saudi Arabia’s defences thwart Houthi drone attack: Arab Coalition

• Latest round of Syrian constitutional talks ends in Geneva



• Any Muslim Who Supports Redeemed Church Of Christ Group Member Traitor to Islam – Muslim Rights Concern Warns

• US sanctions 6 Nigerians for allegedly aiding Boko Haram

• Nigerian military destroys major stronghold of Boko Haram terror group

• Top Muslim bloc approves appointment of special envoy for Africa



• Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl Issued Notice for Planning To Set Up Stage on Srinagar Highway

• Militant commander gunned down in South Waziristan

• US chargé d’affaires visits Karachi, meets Sindh governor

• Imran’s ‘trump card’ claim a hollow threat, says Maryam

• FO rejects India’s remarks on outcome of OIC session

• Pardoning graft cases would be treachery, says PM Imran


South Asia

• Taliban Should Live up To Commitments, Let Girls Go To School: UN’s Global Fund For Education

• Students Protest In Kabul As Taliban Bar Girls From Attending Schools

• Taliban faces increasing global pressure to reopen schools to Afghanistan girls


Southeast Asia

• India scolds Chinese minister over Kashmir remarks

• Court allows another Mareva injunction against Najib

• ‘Fight Was Leading Us Nowhere’: Former Abu Sayyaf Militants Speak After Surrender To Philippines Forces

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



WhatsApp Status on Pakistan Republic Day Lands Karnataka Muslim Woman in Jail


Photo: The New Indian Express


26th March 2022

BAGALKOT: A 25-year-old woman has been arrested for posting celebratory messages on Pakistan Republic Day on her WhatsApp status in Mudhol on Thursday. The accused is identified as Kuthma Sheikh, a resident of Mudhol town and a student at local Madrasa. The incident reportedly occurred on March 23, when Pakistan celebrates its Republic Day.

According to police, “She has put up WhatsApp status conveying Pakistan Republic Day wishes on Wednesday. A person identified as Arun Bhajantri after noticing Kuthma’s WhatsApp status has filed a complaint with evidence. Based on the complaint, action was initiated.”

As per the photo shared by the department of police, “The accused WhatsApp status stated that ‘Allah Har Mulk me Ittihaad…Aman...Sukoon…Ata Farma Maula’ (may Allah grant unity, peace and harmony in every country). Along with this she had also put up a photo conveying wishes to Pakistan on their Republic Day.” A complaint has been registered in Mudhol Police Station.

She has been charged with Indian Penal Code (IPC) section 153(A) (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence) and 505(2) (Statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes).

Source: New Indian Express

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Australian Special Forces ‘Incentivized’ To Kill Afghan Prisoners, Assistant Defence Minister Admits


Andrew Hastie, 39, is a former Australian SAS officer who is now the assistant defense minister. (Screenshot/ABC News)


March 25, 2022

LONDON: A senior Australian minister has admitted that the country’s Special Forces were “incentivized” to execute detained Afghans because suspected insurgents were being released within days of capture.

Andrew Hastie, 39, a former Australian SAS officer who is now the assistant defence minister, told a Sydney court that the Australian military’s “catch and release” policy, in which insurgents captured on operations were often freed after three days by Afghanistan’s judicial system, had “incentivized extrajudicial killing” by coalition troops.

Hastie, who was deployed several times to Afghanistan as a SAS captain, made the comments while giving evidence as part of defamation proceedings raised by Ben Roberts-Smith — Australia’s most decorated living soldier — in response to media allegations that he was involved in extrajudicial killings of Afghans.

Roberts-Smith is suing Australian papers The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and Hastie was subpoenaed to testify.

An official Australian Defence Force inquiry reported in late 2020 that there had been 39 suspected unlawful killings by Australian special forces in Afghanistan. The report is expected to result in criminal prosecutions and compensation payments to the families of those who died.

Hastie, now Australia’s assistant minister for defense, also said it was a “fairly well-established rumor” that Roberts-Smith had kicked an unarmed prisoner off a cliff. He heard that allegation from “multiple people.”

Hastie entered parliament in 2016 and is considered a potential future leader of the governing Liberal Party.

Asked on his views on Roberts-Smith himself, the minister said: “I pity him. I pity this whole process. I don’t want to be here; I was subpoenaed for this.

“That’s how I feel about this because this is terrible for our country, it’s terrible for the SAS, it’s terrible for the army, it’s touched a lot of lives, no one wants to see this. But until we deal with it, we can’t move forward.”

Hastie said that he “started from a very high regard for Roberts-Smith” but that he was “no longer proud” of him.

He explained that he had previously raised concerns that the “catch and release” policy incentivized killing rather than capturing alleged Taliban insurgents, because prisoners were released quickly “if you don’t have evidence to put into (the) Afghan judicial system.”

Roberts-Smith, 43, denies any wrongdoing and maintains that any killings in Afghanistan in which he was involved were carried out lawfully in the heat of battle.

The trial continues.

Source: Arab News

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US Cancels Talks with Taliban Over U-Turn on Girls’ Education


An Afghan schoolgirl reads from her book inside a house in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 23, 2022. REUTERS/Charlotte Greenfield


25 March, 2022

The United States abruptly cancelled meetings with the Taliban in Doha that were set to address key economic issues, officials said on Friday, after Afghanistan’s Islamist rulers reversed a decision to allow all girls to return to high school classes.

The cancellation of talks was the first concrete sign that the Taliban’s recent moves on human rights and inclusivity could directly impact the international community’s willingness to help the group, some of whose leaders are under US sanctions.

“Their decision was a deeply disappointing and inexplicable reversal of commitments to the Afghan people, first and foremost, and also to the international community,” a US State Department spokesperson told Reuters.

“We have cancelled some of our engagements, including planned meetings in Doha, and made clear that we see this decision as a potential turning point in our engagement.”

Three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that the series of meeting between US and Taliban administration officials were set to take place on the sidelines of a summit in Qatar’s capital on Saturday and Sunday.

Some of the meetings were to have included United Nations and World Bank representatives, the sources added.

A Taliban official confirmed that a Taliban delegation, including the acting foreign minister, had been expecting to go to Doha.

The talks were designed to cover issues including the independence of the Afghan central bank and the printing of Afghani currency bank notes.

Also up for discussion were a humanitarian exchange facility to free up cash and hundreds of millions of dollars of funding currently held in a World Bank Trust Fund that is earmarked for Afghanistan’s education sector, according to the three sources.

They declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak with the media.

“The Qatari jet that was meant to collect Muttaqi’s delegation in Kabul has not turned up,” said a diplomatic source, referring to Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.

Qatar’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The move shows the headwinds the Taliban administration faces in accessing foreign aid and freeing up the banking sector, which faces hard currency shortages that have fueled inflation and worsened the economic crisis.

The Taliban have also been unable to access billions of dollars in foreign reserves held overseas as governments including the United States refuse to fully recognize them.

Washington and its allies have insisted that the group, which banned girls from school and most women from work the last time it ruled, improves its human rights record.

The Taliban, who fought an insurgency that toppled the Western-backed government last August, have also been accused of suppressing free speech, violently breaking up protests and exacting deadly revenge on their former foes.

The group says it will honor everyone’s rights within its interpretation of Islamic law and has vowed to investigate specific allegations of abuse.

The Taliban on Wednesday backtracked on their previous commitment to open high schools to girls, saying that they would remain closed until a plan was drawn up for them to reopen.

The U-turn shocked many, leaving students in tears and sparking small protests from girls in Kabul. It also drew condemnation from humanitarian agencies and foreign governments.

“They are definitely shooting themselves in the foot,” said Graeme Smith, a senior consultant at International Crisis Group, of the decision on girls’ education.

A major donor summit for humanitarian aid is set to take place this month, co-hosted by Britain, in an effort to help raise $4.4 billion in funding the United Nations says it needs to meet urgent needs in the country.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israel to host top diplomats of UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, US


Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid/ Photo: The Print


Abdelraouf Arna'out  



Israel will host a two-day meeting with the top diplomats of the US, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Morocco from Sunday, its Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

In a statement, the ministry said the "historic" diplomatic summit is being held at invitation from Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

The readout did not give further details about the visit, but said the ministers will engage in diplomatic meetings.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to arrive in Tel Aviv on Saturday to hold talks with Israeli officials.

The UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco had signed the US-sponsored agreements to normalize relations with Israel in 2020.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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ISIS-Sympathizing Teens Allegedly Plotted A ‘Spring Break’ Mosque Attack


Photo: USA News


By Ben Feuerherd

March 25, 2022

A trio of ISIS-sympathizing teens plotted to shoot up and firebomb a Chicago-area Shia mosque during “spring break,” according to federal court documents that were unsealed Friday.

The murderous plot was uncovered by the FBI in February, when they served search warrants on a 15-year-old in Chicago, a 17-year-old in Kentucky and 18-year-old Xavier Pelkey’s Waterville, Maine, apartment, according to the FBI declaration unsealed Friday.

Prosecutors allege Pelkey was communicating with the two teens over Instagram, plotting the attack on the Shia mosque.

The trio planned to meet in Chicago in late March during “spring break” and launch their killing spree, according to the document.

Pelkey, who was using the pseudonym “Abdullah,” told the teens that he would buy guns, ammunition and had built a homemade explosive device to “get more people,” court papers state.

They planned to, “enter the Shia mosque and separate the adults from the children, then murder the adults. If they had not encountered law enforcement at that point, they would continue on to another Shia mosque or Jewish synagogue and execute the same plan,” the FBI declaration says.

“They did not have a plan to escape but rather their plan ended with them being shot by law enforcement,” it goes on.

Federal investigators recovered a cache of weapons from the first teen and Pelkey and a number of ISIS flags at both their apartments.

Pelkey is charged with possession of an unregistered destructive device, which carries a maximum of 10 years in prison.

An attorney for Pelkey did not immediately return a request for comment.

Source: New York Post

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 Lawyers Write to Karnataka Chief Minister, Seek Action against Saffronists for Preventing Muslim Traders in Temple Fairs

26th March 2022

BENGALURU: After several temple committees reportedly banned Muslim shopkeepers and vendors from participating in temple fairs, the All India Lawyers’ Association for Justice (AILAJ) have issued a letter to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and the Commissioner for Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments.

The association cited multiple incidents of temple committees blacklisting Muslim vendors from temple fairs across the state, wherein the committees have apparently cited pressure from Hindutva groups.

Due to this, AILAJ has termed the action as an attempt to impose an economic boycott on the Muslim community and sought action against the groups.

“Our country is governed by constitutional morality and not by popular morality. By permitting only Hindu businesses to vend and by discriminating against Muslim businesses, what is being caused and perpetuated is an economic boycott against the Muslim community which is in direct violation of Article 15 of the Constitution, which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion,” the letter read.

The association has demanded immediate withdrawal of the decision to bar Muslim vendors from temple fairs, as well as criminal action to be taken against the Hindutva groups purportedly pressuring the committees into implementing the ban.

Source: New Indian Express

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Hindu outfits want shops of Muslims shut during 16-day car festival in Karnataka's Belur

25th March 2022

HASSAN: The Vishva Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal have urged the taluk authorities to ban Muslims from doing business during 16 days of the popular Channakeshava car festival in Belur town.

The VHP president Krishnegowda and Bajrang Dal coordinator Aadish led a team of activists who met Belur tahsildar Mohan Kumar and urged him to ban Muslims from conducting business during the car festival starting from April 2 in Belur town.

Speaking after presenting the memorandum to the tahsildar, Krishnegowda said being the citizens of the country all should abide by the law of the land. Every person should respect democracy and the constitution which provides freedom and equal rights for every citizen. The Hindu leaders took the decision to this effect as the Muslims had shut their shops recently to protest the recent verdict of the High court over the Hijab issue.

Source: New Indian Express

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Lone Muslim Mantri Vows To End Minority's BJP Phobia In Uttar Pradesh

Mar 26, 2022

AYODHYA: Danish Azad Ansari, 32, a Lucknow University post-graduate in public administration and member of BJP's students wing, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, is the sole Muslim face in the new Yogi Adityanath-led government. Hailing from Ballia district, Danish Ansari replaced Mohsin Raza, the only Muslim in the previous Yogi government. Raza was then minister of state for minorities welfare.

Sworn in as minister of state, Danish told TOI that he would work for the welfare of Muslims and bridge the gulf between the community and BJP. "I will strive to end BJP-phobia in Muslim minds and help resolve problems plaguing the community. I will try to bring government aid to Muslims and ensure state-sponsored welfare schemes for minorities reach target beneficiaries," he told TOI.

Source: Times Of India

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Muslims traders must stay out of Sagar fair too: VHP

26th March 2022

SHIVAMOGGA: After Muslims traders were not allowed to set up shops during the city’s Sri Kote Marikamba Jatra, a similar demand has come up in the run-up to the Maha Ganapati Jatra at Sagar town in the district. The mega fair is scheduled to be held on the banks of Ganapati Kere from April 5 to 19.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishat has urged the office of the assistant commissioner in Sagar to not allow Muslim shops during the jatra, which is one of the most celebrated events in Sagar taluk. No Muslim-owned shops were allowed during the Sri Kote Marikamba Jatra in Shivamogga city. The organisation is demanding similar measures in Maha Ganapati Jatra too.

The parishat’s Sagar unit urged the assistant commissioner to bar Muslims from setting up shops. In a memorandum, parishat leaders said the authorities auction stalls to sell flowers, fruits, toys and food during the fair. However, the temple is under the Muzrai Department. As per the rules prescribed by the government, non-Hindus cannot be allowed to open shops on temple premises, they claimed.

Source: New Indian Express

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PFI vows to stand with Muslim girl students against hijab ban

Mar 26, 2022

The Popular Front of India (PFI) has said it would stand with Karnataka Muslim girl students against the hijab ban in schools and colleges in the state.

Sharing the details of its resolution passed in its Malappuram National Executive Council meeting, the PFI on Friday also condemned the alleged restrictions on Muslim religious markers.

“The Karnataka BJP government’s decision to introduce restrictions exclusively on Muslim religious markers clearly had divisive political motives behind it. Unfortunately, the High Court failed to see it and took a stand against a practice Muslim women in the country have held as part of their identity for centuries,” the PFI said in a statement.

It further said the HC order validating the hijab ban was against the constitutional values and the universal principle of freedom of religion.

“The decision of the High Court will further encourage social exclusion and become another pretext for religious persecution. Popular Front stands with the struggles of the students who have decided to question the high court order in the apex court and carry their fight forward till they get justice,” the statement read.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Round table meeting to discuss promises made by KCR to Muslims

25th March 2022

Hyderabad: JAC of Telangana Muslim Organisations is going to conduct a round table meeting at 5 p.m. on March 27 to discuss promises made by the chief minister of Telangana State K. Chandrashekar Rao to Muslims.

The meeting will be held at Sundarayya Bhavan, Shoaib Hall in Bagh Lingampally, Hyderabad.

The JAC questioned the possibility of golden Telangana without the development of Muslims which is one of the largest communities of Telangana state.

It said that the Muslim community in the last two general elections has helped TRS in forming government in the state. Despite it, many promises made to the community have not been fulfilled.

Now, the JAC urges the government to fulfill the following promises.

12 percent reservation to Muslims

Waqf Board should be given judicial power.

A special task force should be set up for the protection of waqf lands.

Full-fledged governing bodies for the Minority Commission, Waqf Board, Minority Finance Corporation, Urdu Academy and Haj Committees should be appointed immediately.

The Equal Opportunity Commission as suggested by the Sudhir Commission should be set up.

Minority sub-plan suggested by Sudhir Commission needs to be set up.

Three Rajya Sabha seats will soon become vacant. One should be given to the Muslim.

Increase of minority budget to Rs. 5000 crore.

Minority Bandhu scheme should be implemented.

Vacant backlog posts in Urdu medium schools and colleges should be de-notified and replaced.

558 Urdu medium teacher posts pending in TRT – 2017 needs to be filled immediately.

Permanent staff should be appointed on the Waqf Board for the protection of waqf assets.

A Muslim person should be given a chance in the TSPSC.

Not a single Vice-Chancellor post in a universities was given to a Muslim professor. Muslim professors should be given the opportunity to be registrars and OSDs.

Subsidized loans should be granted directly irrespective of the banks links.

Self-employment loans given by the corporation should be increased to up to Rs. 10 lakhs.

Special quota should be provided to Muslims in allotment of double bedroom houses.

Some of the persons who will be present in the meeting are as follows

Skybaba (Yusuf Sheik), poet, writer, Telangana activist, the editor of a Muslim magazine.

Source: Siasat Daily

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Uniform Civil Code: US body condemns Uttarakhand govt’s move

25th March 2022

The Indian American Muslim Council on Friday unequivocally condemned the BJP-ruled Uttarakhand state’s decision to implement the Uniform Civil Code (UCC).

On Thursday, a day after being sworn in, the Uttarakhand cabinet led by Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami decided to form a committee of experts on the implementation of a Uniform Civil Code in the state.

In a series of tweets, the IAMC discussed the pitfalls of the Uniform Civil Code and how it would adversely affect the minorities in India.

“This is an alarming deviation from the current system, which has different laws for different faiths, including the Hindu Marriage Act, Indian Christian Marriages Act, and the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act. Muslim personal laws are based on religious texts and are not codified,” the council pointed out.

They argued that the implementation of the UCC is a violation of freedom of religion and an invasion in the private lives of citizens, particularly Muslims and Christians, who are already severely marginalized in India. Invoking the recent hijab ban supported by the Karnataka high court, they argued that the UCC will unfairly discriminate against Muslims under the guise of secularism.

“Under the BJP’s Hindu supremacist agenda, the UCC will neither liberate nor unite, but rather push a Hindu-centric idea of uniformity,” they said.

“UCC is one more step in the direction of turning India into a Hindu majoritarian state where minorities are relegated to second-class citizenship,” said Rasheed Ahmed, Executive Director of IAMC.

In the recent past, the IAMC has condemned other prominent instances of Islamophobia by the Indian state.

Source: Siasat Daily

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15 Islamic State fighters killed by airstrike in Mali: France

25 March, 2022

French anti-jihadist forces in Mali have killed 15 members of the Islamic State group near the volatile border area with Niger, a French army spokesman told AFP on Friday.

The team, travelling in a motorcycle convoy, was spotted by a Reaper drone operated by France's Barkhane military operation on Thursday and later hit by an airstrike.

"Verification of various intelligence data allowed confirmation that they were part of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), en route toward the Menaka region," army spokesman Colonel Pascal Ianni said.

France has around 2,400 soldiers in Mali, and 4,500 in the Sahel region overall, as part of the Barkhane deployment to bolster regional governments against Islamic militants spread across large parts of the semi-desert expanse.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced last year a drawdown of Barkhane, hoping that European allies would step in with more troops while local authorities bolstered their own security forces.

Yet in February, France said it would withdraw all its troops from Mali after a breakdown in relations with the country's ruling junta, ending a near 10-year deployment against jihadist groups that pose a growing threat in West Africa.

Source: The New Arab

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Position on procurement of Russian S-400s unchanged: Turkey’s President Erdogan

25 March ,2022

Turkey’s position on its acquisition of Russian S-400 missile defense systems is unchanged and the matter is a “done deal”, President Tayyip Erdogan was cited as saying on Friday, adding talks with Washington on new F-16 jets and kits were going well.

The United States imposed sanctions on NATO member Turkey’s defense industry in December 2020 over the S-400s and expelled Ankara from the F-35 stealth fighter jet program, where it was a manufacturer and buyer. Ankara says the moves are unjust.

Broadcaster Haberturk cited Erdogan as telling reporters on a return flight from a NATO summit in Brussels that he hoped positive talks on purchasing new F-16 jets and modernization kits from Washington would yield results soon.

He also dismissed reports that US officials had informally raised with Turkey the unlikely possibility of sending the S-400 systems to Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion, saying “all they do is cause commotion” in reference to Washington.

Source: Al Arabiya

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‘Nothing can be done’ about placing sanctions on Russia: Turkey’s Erdogan

25 March ,2022

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that “nothing can be done” about placing sanctions on Russia due to Turkey’s energy needs, Reuters reports, citing Turkish broadcaster NTV.

Speaking to reporters on a return flight from a NATO summit in Brussels, Erdogan also said Turkey could not impose sanctions on Russia due to its energy needs and cooperation.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Monday any compromises agreed with Russia to end the war would need to be voted upon in a referendum.

Erdogan said he would hold separate calls with Ukrainian and Russian counterparts in coming days to evaluate the summit.

NATO member Turkey shares a maritime border with Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea, has good ties with both and has offered to mediate the conflict. While supporting for Ukraine and being critical of Russia, Ankara has opposed sanctions on Moscow.

“We are buying nearly half of the natural gas we use from Russia. Separately, we are making our Akkuyy Nuclear Power Plant with Russia. We cannot set these aside,” Erdogan said.

“So there is nothing that can be done here. We must maintain our sensitivity on this issue. Firstly, I can’t leave my people in the cold of the winter. Secondly, I cannot halt our industry. We must defend these,” he added.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Turkiye 'very important actor' in push to end Russia-Ukraine war: EU envoy

İzzet Mazı



Turkiye has emerged as “a very important actor” in efforts to broker peace between Russia and Ukraine, according to the top European Union diplomat in Turkiye.

“Turkey has had many diplomatic initiatives to try to bring the Ukrainians and Russians together. Turkey has been a very important actor in this conflict,” Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, head of the EU Delegation to Turkiye, told Anadolu Agency.

He said Turkiye’s standing in NATO was also evident at this week’s summit of top leaders in Brussels.

“Turkey, as a very important NATO ally, fully participated in the NATO decision-making,” he said, stressing the significance of solidarity within the alliance amid Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Meyer-Landrut added that Ankara has also taken “important decisions” regarding the 1936 Montreux Convention, which gives Turkiye the authority to restrict the passage of naval vessels through the Istanbul (Bosphorus) and Canakkale (Dardanelles) Straits during times of war.

“What is important now is that we all stand together in condemning and countering this (Russian) aggression, but also in supporting Ukraine in its fight,” he said.

“In both respects, Turkey, of course, is hugely important,” he added. 

EU accession

On Turkiye’s bid to join the EU, Meyer-Landrut said the Ukraine war has “completely changed the international setting.”

“This geopolitical shake-up which we are witnessing also opens opportunities for reinforced cooperation between Turkey and the European Union,” he said.

“I hope that these opportunities will be taken up by both sides.”

Turkiye applied for EU membership in 1987 and accession talks began in 2005.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Former Iran detainee criticizes UK PM’s ‘opportunism’ after release

March 25, 2022

LONDON: A British-Iranian dual national recently released from a lengthy detention in Iran has criticized British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for only getting in touch with him after his release.

Anoosheh Ashoori, 67, was held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison for five years, allegedly for spying on behalf of the Israeli government.

He returned to the UK last week alongside Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a fellow British-Iranian national.

Ashoori told Sky News that he felt let down by the British leader, but praised the “fantastic job” that civil servants had done behind the scenes.

In 2020, he had managed to record an audio message while behind bars pleading for Johnson’s help.

“I risked my safety but I managed to convey that message to him,” said Ashoori.

“Unfortunately he did not expend even five minutes to give a telephone call to my family.”

However, on Monday, Ashoori received an invitation to meet with the prime minister.

He told Sky News: “Now he’s eager to see us. How would you interpret that?

“I think that there’s a bit of opportunism involved in it.”

Asked if he would meet with the prime minister, Ashoori said: “I’m not sure.”

Though both London and Tehran deny it, it is thought that the release of Ashoori and Zaghari-Ratcliffe was contingent upon the payment of a historic debt owed to Iran worth around $530 million.

Ashoori said: “That was not a ransom, that was a debt that the British government owed and it should have been paid. And if it had been paid, none of this would have happened.”

He also revealed that his family had to pay a £27,000 ($35,000) fine for his release — and that they received no assistance from the Foreign Office on this, instead being forced to max out credit cards.

A crowdfunder established to help the family pay has now raised more than £38,000, leaving Ashoori “bowled over by the generosity, support, and absolute kindness of strangers.”

The remaining money will be used by the family to help campaign for those who remain in Evin prison to be released, including Morad Tahbaz, a British-US national who Ashoori knows personally.

Ashoori told Sky that he feels a responsibility to help Tahbaz — whose plight was also raised by Zaghari-Ratcliffe — having witnessed prison conditions that include bed bugs, the smell of open sewers, and dental care from a dentist known for “pulling 10 teeth in 10 minutes.”

A government spokesperson told Sky News: “From the prime minister down, this government has been committed to securing the release of Anoosheh Ashoori.

“It was always entirely in Iran’s gift to do this, but UK ministers and diplomats were tireless in working to secure his freedom and are delighted that he is now home.

Source: Arab News

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North America


US, UK slap new sanctions on Myanmar after genocide designation

March 26, 2022

WASHINGTON: The US and Britain on Friday announced new sanctions against the Myanmar military that are intended to coincide with the anniversary of a bloody crackdown on protests following last year’s coup d’etat.

The new measures came days after Washington said it has concluded that Myanmar’s military committed genocide against the mostly Muslim Rohingya minority.

“Brutality and oppression have become trademarks of the Burmese military regime’s rule,” US Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in a statement.

“Treasury is committed to holding accountable those who are responsible for the ongoing violence and repression.”

Washington’s sanctions target two military commanders, an infantry division as well as three businessmen and four businesses.

London targeted the new air force chief and a businessman who acts as the honorary consul of Belarus, as well as a businessman and firm that the US sanctioned, among others.

“The Myanmar military have shown no signs of stopping their brutal campaign of violence against the people of Myanmar, who continue in their fight for democracy,” Britain’s Minister for Asia Amanda Milling said.

“These sanctions target those who are instrumental in supplying the military with weapons that facilitate these abuses across the country.”

The measures come as Western nations increasingly punish the military both for the February 2021 coup that saw Aung San Suu Kyi ousted and the violence in 2016 and 2017 against the Rohingya, which Washington earlier this week declared was an attempt to “destroy” the Muslim minority.

They were announced around the one-year anniversary of the military killing of scores of protesters amid protests on Myanmar’s annual Armed Forces Day.

The new US sanctions apply to Brigadier-General Ko Ko Oo, and Major-General Zaw Hein as well as the 66th Light Infantry Division, which Treasury said has been accused of carrying out a December 2021 massacre in which civilians “were captured, tortured and killed, including some whom members of the military reportedly burned alive”.

Three individuals and two companies were also sanctioned for providing arms to the military, while two firms were targeted for assisting other businesses that had been sanctioned previously.

Britain sanctioned Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Air Force Htun Aung and a company that supports the air force, along with Belarusian Honorary Consul Aung Moe Myint and his company.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Maine teen accused of plotting to attack a Chicago area mosque

By Sonia Moghe

March 26, 2022

Federal prosecutors have accused a Maine teen of plotting to attack a Chicago-area mosque and charged him with possession of a destructive device.

According to court documents unsealed on Friday, Xavier Pelkey, who was 18 years old when he was arrested on February 11, was charged by criminal complaint in Maine federal court for one count of possession of unregistered destructive devices.

CNN has reached out to an attorney for Pelkey for comment.

In the documents, an FBI agent said investigators found three items in a backpack that appeared to be handmade explosive devices. An initial review of the items found them to be fireworks taped together with staples, pins, and thumbtacks, which the FBI agent said were "designed to increase the amount of shrapnel propelled by an explosion" if detonated.

Prosecutors allege Pelkey planned to attack a Shia Muslim mosque in the Chicago area "during spring break" with a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old with whom he had been speaking on Instagram.

FBI Agent Garrett Drew alleges it was Pelkey's job to acquire additional firearms and ammunition and he allegedly "had built an explosive device 'to get more people,'" according to court documents.

Drew said in a declaration filed in February and unsealed Thursday that the Chicago-area 15-year-old told the FBI the three planned to enter the mosque, "separate the adults from the children, then murder the adults."

"If they had not encountered law enforcement at that point, they would continue on to another Shia mosque or Jewish synagogue and execute the same plan," the court filing states. "They did not have a plan to escape but rather their plan ended with them being shot by law enforcement."

Chicago FBI agents seized multiple firearms, swords, knives, a bow and arrows, multiple homemade ISIS flags, and multiple electronic devices from the 15-year-old's home while executing a search warrant in February, the court filing said.

Investigators also searched the home of a 17-year-old in Kentucky in February, who investigators believe spoke with Pelkey on Instagram, who told them Pelkey talked about "gathering materials to make fireworks to attack someone."

Source: CNN

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US to increase pressure on Iran if nuclear diplomacy fails: White House

25 March ,2022

The United States is still pursuing talks on Iran’s nuclear program but will work with allies to increase pressure on Iran if diplomacy fails, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Friday.

The talks were close to an agreement until Russia made last-minute demands of the United States, insisting that sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine would not hurt its trade with Iran.

US officials have been cautious in their assessment of efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and world powers, which would curb Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting tough sanctions on Iran’s economy.

Substantial progress has been made in resolving a number of issues necessary for Washington to come back to the deal “on a compliance-for-compliance basis,” Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Poland with President Joe Biden.

“There still are issues left. There still is work to be done,” he added. “We are still seeking a diplomatic outcome here that puts Iran’s nuclear program back in a box. Of course, if diplomacy doesn’t succeed, then we will work very closely with our international partners to increase the pressure on Iran.”

Iran Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Thursday that the vital issue of sanctions relief for Iran was not yet fully resolved.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Speaker: Iran Friend of Lebanon in Hard Times


Berri made the remarks in a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian in Beirut on Thursday afternoon.

Berri described Iran as the main source of resistance in the region as well as a source of inspiration for all resistance movements worldwide.

At the same time, he criticized the move by certain Arab countries to normalize ties with the Israeli regime, saying they turned their back on the Palestinian cause by the move.

Pointing to fuel shortages in his country, Berri said Iran made good on its promise of sending fuel to Lebanon and showed its solidarity with and support for the Arab country in difficult times.

However, the US has so far failed to fulfill its pledge of providing Lebanon with the needed energy despite pretending to be activating a gas pipeline project, he added.

Amir Abdollahian, for his part, voiced Tehran’s readiness to cooperate with Lebanon in meeting its energy needs, including its electricity and gas needs.

Iran stands prepared to expand mutual economic and trade cooperation with the friendly and neighborly state of Lebanon, in parallel with a mutual implementation of bilateral agreements, he said.

The two sides also discussed the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the multilateral endeavors in Vienna to restore the 2015 Iran deal.

“We are against war whether it is in Afghanistan, Yemen, or Ukraine. At the same time, the imposition of unilateral sanctions by Western states is also unacceptable to us. The Islamic Republic of Iran encourages a resolution of the developments in Ukraine through political dialog,” the Iranian foreign minister said.

Pointing to the Vienna talks between Tehran and the world powers on removal of sanctions, Amir Abdollahian said Iran is serious about achieving a “good, lasting deal” in the negotiations.

At the same time, he added, Iran does not seek a prolongation of the process and will not cross its own red lines.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran's Top Negotiator Hopes for Tangible, Lasting Results in Vienna Talks


Baqeri Kani made the remarks in a phone conversation with South Korea's First Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Choi Jong Kun on strengthening mutual ties.

He also voiced hope that the Vienna talks would lead to the improvement of bilateral relations between Iran and South Korea.

During the conversation, the two sides discussed a wide range of bilateral issues.

The South Korean official, for his part, congratulated the Persian New Year (Nowruz) to Baqeri, wishing a happy new year for Iran and people of the country.

He also voiced hope that negotiations on revival of the JCPOA and removal of sanctions would produce positive results although salient progresses have been made in this respect.

Emphasizing the importance of relations between Seoul and Tehran, he stressed that South Korea will continue to play a role in negotiations and conclusion of negotiations to revive the nuclear deal.

The success of talks in Vienna is also expected to release Iran's frozen assets in South Korea.

The frozen asset issue started in 2018 when former US President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal and reinstated economic sanctions against Iran.

Iranian authorities have said on several occasions that they expect South Korea to do more on the release of nearly $8.5 billion blocked illegally at two South Korean banks under the pretext of the United States’ sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

It had been previously agreed for the funds to be used by Iran towards the purchase of humanitarian items, something that has again been prevented as a result of Korea’s commitment to honor the sanctions.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran Condemns Looting of Syria's Natural Resources


“The Islamic Republic of Iran once again condemns the plunder of the Syrian nation’s natural resources, especially oil and agricultural products in areas occupied by foreign forces. The criminal act is in clear violation of Syria's territorial sovereignty, relevant Security Council resolutions and the UN Charter,” Takht Ravanchi said on Thursday, addressing a UN Security Council session.

He stressed that the Syrian crisis cannot be resolved unless the presence of foreign occupation forces ends, and all Takfiri terrorist groups are eradicated.

“Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity cannot be endangered in the name of fighting terrorism. Therefore, all occupying and uninvited foreign forces, including American troops, must leave the country immediately and without any preconditions,” the Iranian diplomat noted.

He also condemned the Tel Aviv regime’s acts of aggression against Syria, stating that the March 7 Israeli air raids on several sites near the capital Damascus were in flagrant violation of the international humanitarian law.

“We call on the UN Security Council to hold the regime to account for such acts of aggression, as well as its explicit threats to use force against other countries in the region, which will endanger the regional peace and security,” the Iranian envoy highlighted.

He went on to express concern about the dire humanitarian situation in Syria.

According to the UN estimates, 14.6 million Syrians need humanitarian aid. The figure marks a 9% increase compared to the preceding year. The COVID-19 epidemic has also exacerbated the country's fragile humanitarian situation.

“Given the dire humanitarian situation in Syria, where a significant proportion of the civilian infrastructure is in ruins, imposition of unilateral sanctions on Syrian people has had catastrophic consequences on all aspects of their lives and is in contrast to some aspects of the Security Council Resolution 2585, which says initial recovery projects are vital for Syrians and that displaced people must be allowed to return home,” Takht Ravanchi said.

The Iranian diplomat said unilateral sanctions against Syria have also affected the efforts of international and national humanitarian organizations there.

He underlined the need for the immediate removal of sanctions and an end to all illegal and destructive actions against Syria, saying, “It is very hypocritical to make claims of paying attention to the difficult humanitarian situation in Syria at the same time as supporting unilateral sanctions against Syrian people.”

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the United States, the Israeli regime, and their Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are spreading insecurity in the country.

The US military has stationed forces and equipment in eastern and northeastern Syria, with the Pentagon claiming that the deployment is aimed at preventing the oilfields in the area from falling into the hands of the ISIL terrorists.

Damascus, however, says the unlawful deployment is meant to plunder the country’s resources.

Former US president Donald Trump admitted on several occasions that American forces were in Syria for its oil.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iranian FM, Hezbollah Chief Meet in Beirut


During the meeting, Amir Abdollahian and Nasrallah exchanged views on different issues and reviewed the latest developments in Lebanon and the region.

Iranian Ambassador to Beirut Mohammad Jalal Firouznia also accompanied Amir Abdollahian in the meeting.

During his visit to Beirut, met and held talks with Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

In the second leg of his regional trip, Amir Abdollahian arrived in Lebanese capital of Beirut on Thursday after visiting Syrian capital of Damascus.

Amir Abdollahian in a meeting with Syrian president’s National Security Advisor Ali Mamlouk on Wednesday underlined that Tehran will continue support for the government and people of Syria.

During the meeting in Damascus on Wednesday, the two officials discussed bilateral ties as well as other issues of mutual interest.

Amir Abdollahian, for his part, referred to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s relentless efforts in campaign against terrorism and extremism in the region, and assured the Syrian security advisor about Iran’s continued support for the Syrian government and nation.

Also, Mamlouk hailed the Islamic Republic of Iran’s dominant role in strengthening the regional peace and security, specially in campaign against the terrorist groups.

"The unique role played by martyred Major General Qassem Soleimani in that respect is quite respectable," he added.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Jerusalem’s Christian population sees steep decline: Church leader

AbdelRaouf Arnaout  



A church leader in Jerusalem has expressed concern over the steep decline of the holy city’s Christian population over the years.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Wadih Abu Nassar, the spokesman for the Council of Heads of Catholic Churches in Jerusalem, said Christians constituted about 25% of the population of Jerusalem in 1922. But the number has since fallen drastically to less than 1%, he noted.

According to Israeli sources, the population of Jerusalem was 936,000 as of 2019. Jews made up 62% of the city’s population, with Palestinians making up the remaining 38%.

Abu Nassar said the Christian population accounts for less than 10,000 of the total number of Jerusalemites.

He attributed the drop in the number of Christians to a combination of reasons ranging from economic to political.

Abu Nassar said economic challenges have played a massive role in the decline of the Christian population in Jerusalem with the coronavirus pandemic being the final blow that denied the city the income it earned from foreign tourists.

Ambiguous political horizon

The church leader also blamed ambiguity in the political horizon for the declining numbers.

“The political situation is heading toward the unknown as there is no peace process and no prospect of a solution (on the Palestinian question), and therefore there is a kind of ambiguity that frightens many people, Christians and non-Christians alike," he said.

In 1993, the PLO and Israel signed the Oslo Accords which gave Palestinians a form of self-rule. Years of peace negotiations between the two sides, however, failed to achieve the Palestinian goal of establishing an independent state.

US-sponsored peace talks collapsed in 2014 over Israel’s refusal to halt settlement building and release Palestinians imprisoned before 1993.

But while all segments of the society are affected by political and economic upheavals, Abu Nassar believes that ethnic or religious minorities suffer the most.

They “are the weakest link, not necessarily because they are targeted, but because their presence in a state of constant instability makes some think about immigration," he said.

He said the declining number of Christians will disturb the demography of the city.

"This issue is worrying because Jerusalem is indebted to the three religions, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, and one of these religions is almost disappearing, and this is a matter of concern not only for Christians but also for non-Christians, and for every person who loves this pluralism in Jerusalem."

Jewish extremism

Abu Nassar has also blamed attacks by Jewish extremists on Palestinians and expansion of illegal settlements as another key reason behind the decline in Jerusalem’s Christian population.

"There is an increase in illegal settlement activity in many neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, and this is not a secret, and it targets many places, including some Christian holy sites," he said.

Abu Nassar slammed the Israeli authorities for not putting “enough effort” to hold the extremists accountable.

He pointed out that the heads of churches expressed concern about the existence of some kind of threat to Christians in Jerusalem and their holy places.

Last December, the heads of Christian churches in Jerusalem warned in a statement that Christians in the holy city “have become the target of frequent and persistent attacks by extremist (Jewish) groups" especially since 2012.

It listed the attacks as ranging from “countless physical and verbal attacks on priests and other clergy, attacks on Christian churches, with holy sites regularly vandalized and desecrated, and constant intimidation of local Christians simply seeking to worship freely and go about their daily lives."

They described the attacks as “tactics” employed by the “extremist groups in a systematic attempt to push the Christian community out of Jerusalem and other parts of the Holy Land.”

The statement warned that the extremist groups seek to encroach Christian quarters through intimidation and other means.

In February, a plan was revealed to expropriate church land on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem to turn it into a national park.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Arab World


Egyptian authorities seize funds of 20 Muslim Brotherhood figures

March 25, 2022

Egyptian authorities ordered the seizure of the funds of 20 Muslim Brotherhood figures, including six of the sons and daughters of Brotherhood leader Mahmoud Ghozlan.

The list included Yahya Mahmoud Sayed Abdullah Ghozlan, Anas Mahmoud Sayed Abdullah Ghozlan, Hagar Mahmoud Sayed Abdullah Ghozlan, Mohamed Mahmoud Sayed Abdullah Ghozlan, Yasser Mahmoud Sayed Abdullah Ghozlan, Abdul Rahman Mahmoud Sayed Abdullah Ghozlan.

The father, Mahmoud Ghozlan, is accused of managing armed committees that carried out terrorist attacks.

Ghozlan is the husband of Fatema al-Shater, sister of Brotherhood deputy guide Khairat al-Shater.

In 2020, the investigation authorities listed Mahmoud Ghazlan on the list of terrorism, in Case No. 2210 of 2014.

In these cases the defendants faced accusations of leading an illegal group aiming to disrupt the provisions of the Constitution and laws.

Also to prevent state institutions and public authorities from exercising their duties, to attack the personal freedom of citizens and public rights, and to harm national unity and social peace.

Source: Egypt Independent

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‘Hostile operation’ targeted Aramco facility in Jeddah: Arab Coalition

25 March ,2022

The Arab Coalition said that a “hostile” operation by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia targeted an Aramco oil facility in Jeddah on Friday.

The attack which targeted a petroleum products distribution station resulted in a fire in two tanks, the coalition said, adding that the fire was brought under control.

No fatalities or injuries resulted from the attack.

“This hostile escalation targets oil facilities [and aims] to affect the security of energy,” the coalition said, adding that the Houthis target oil facilities in an attempt to impact “the artery of global economy.”

The coalition added that the Houthis’ attacks had no impact or repercussions on ordinary life in Jeddah.

The coalition warned the Houthi militia of escalating “its grave violations” after targeting the Kingdom with 16 “hostile attacks” on Friday.

Three of the 16 attacks include explosive-laden drones launched toward the Kingdom’s Najran and nine explosive-laden drones launched toward the southern, eastern and central regions of the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia’s defenses intercepted and destroyed all drones, the coalition said, adding that it was “practicing self-restraint” in order for the consultations among Yemen’s warring factions to succeed.

The attacks did not result in any fatalities, however, debris from the intercepted attacks fell in some residential areas.

“[We warn] the Houthis not to test the coalition’s patience,” it also said.

The Houthis have recently targeted oil facilities in the Kingdom and launched several drones toward cities in Saudi Arabia.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Rocket attack causes ‘limited fire’ in Saudi Arabia’s Jazan

25 March ,2022

A “limited fire” broke out at an electricity distribution plant in the town of Samtah in Saudi Arabia’s Jazan following a rocket attack, the Arab Coalition said on Friday.

The coalition said that there were no fatalities, according to state news agency (SPA).

“We are practicing self-restraint, and we reserve the right to respond at the right time,” the coalition added.

The coalition also said that a “hostile” attack targeted the National Water Company tanks in the Kingdom’s Dhahran Al Janub.

Earlier on Friday, the coalition said that Saudi Arabia’s defenses have destroyed nine explosive-laden drones launched by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis, one ballistic missile launched toward Jazan and one explosive-laden drone launched toward Najran.

The Houthis have recently targeted oil facilities in the Kingdom and launched several drones toward cities in Saudi Arabia.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi Arabia’s defences destroy ballistic missile, explosive-laden drone

25 March ,2022

Saudi Arabia’s defenses have destroyed a ballistic missile launched toward Jazan and an explosive-laden drone launched toward Najran, the Arab Coalition said in a statement on Friday.

The coalition also said that it’s monitoring “the source of hostilities,” adding that it’s still “practicing self-restraint.”

Earlier on Friday, the coalition said that the Kingdom’s defenses have destroyed nine explosive-laden drones launched by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis.

The Houthis have recently targeted oil facilities in the Kingdom and launched several drones toward cities in Saudi Arabia.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi Arabia’s defences thwart Houthi drone attack: Arab Coalition

25 March ,2022

Saudi Arabia’s defenses have destroyed nine explosive-laden drones launched by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis, the Arab Coalition announced in a statement on Friday.

The drones were launched towards the southern, eastern and central regions of the Kingdom at dawn, according to an official Saudi Press Agency report.

The Arab Coalition said that these “continued hostilities threaten regional and international security,” adding that “they deliberately target civilian and energy facilities.”

The coalition reiterated its support of Gulf and international efforts aimed at contributing to the success of consultations among Yemen’s warring factions, adding, however, that the “Houthis seek to thwart them.”

On March 23, two booby-trapped boats launched by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia were destroyed, thwarting an “imminent and hostile” attack on oil tankers south of the Red Sea, the Arab Coalition said.

The coalition also said that the two boats were launched from Yemen’s Hodeida, adding that they were attempting to target giant oil tankers that have crossed the Bab el-Mandeb Strait.

The Houthis have recently targeted oil facilities in the Kingdom and launched several drones toward cities in Saudi Arabia.

On Sunday, an Aramco petroleum products distribution plant in Jeddah was attacked by the Houthi militia leading to a “limited fire” which was brought under control without injuries or casualties.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Latest round of Syrian constitutional talks ends in Geneva

Peter Kenny  



Another round of talks for a solution to the war in Syria ended in Geneva on Friday, with none of the parties offering signs of whether they would proceed to another level of negotiations.

The regime side made no comments while leaving the talks, which involved efforts to draft a new constitution for the country after over a decade of war, with opposition sources indicating to Anadolu Agency that "no agreements were reached" on the draft revision on constitutional articles.

UN Special Envoy on Syria Geir Pedersen canceled a scheduled press conference, issuing only a written statement.

"Before the Committee began its work this week, I appealed to the members to work with the sense of seriousness and compromise that the situation demands," said Pedersen.

"Two-and-a-half years after the launching of the Constitutional Committee -- an event that took nearly two years to bring about -- there is a clear need for this commitment to be embodied in the Committee's work."

Commitment needed

The UN envoy said commitment was needed to make progress in bridging substantive issues and drafting a constitutional reform that would be submitted to popular approval.

"On the fifth day (Friday), in line with the agreement, the delegations were expected to submit revisions to reflect the content of the discussions during the previous four days," said Pedersen.

Though all delegations offered "at least some revisions" to the texts to help compromise efforts, others "contained no changes," said the UN official.

The five days of talks involved both the regime and the opposition and took place at Geneva's Intercontinental Hotel, instead of at the Palais des Nations, the European headquarters of the UN.

"I will do everything I can to bring closer viewpoints among the members through exerting my good offices, which is plainly needed," said Pedersen, vowing to engage with all sides in the talks.

When the last round of talks had ended on Oct. 22, Pedersen said: "Today's talks were a huge disappointment."

The Syrian Constitutional Committee consists of two structures, large and small.

The large structure includes all the committee members and consists of three groups: The regime, the umbrella opposition delegation, and civil society representatives.

Each group sends 15 people to the small body, which is responsible for writing the new constitution.

The large 150-person structure must approve the drafts prepared by the 45-person editorial board, and at least 75% of the members must support a decision for it to be adopted.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Any Muslim Who Supports Redeemed Church Of Christ Group Member Traitor to Islam – Muslim Rights Concern Warns

March 25, 2022

By Nsikak Nseyen

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has warned that any political party that picks any member of the Redeemed Church of Christ Group (RCCG) will kiss the Aso Rock goodbye.

The group gave the warning in a statement signed by Idrees Safiyanu Gambo, Chairman, Bauchi State Chapter, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

Recall that the RCCG had a few weeks ago created a directorate for politics and governance across the country.

The church said the move is to mobilize support for members who are aspiring to occupy political offices.

Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo though yet to declare his intention to run for president is a pastor in RCCG.

There are indications that he may soon declare his intention.

But MURIC said it is challenging the Redeemed Church of Christ Group (RCCG) for having the effrontery to launch a national political structure.

According to the group, RCCG plans to eliminate other religions or turn their faithful into political slaves, adding that any Muslim who queues behind a redeemer is now considered a traitor to the cause of Islam.

”The rest of us have no option but to challenge this existential threat.

”We must work towards our survival before the RCCG tsunami threat sweeps Islam and other Christian denominations out of existence.

“The ugly experience of our Muslim brothers in Yorubaland where they are persecuted politically and marginalised economically despite their superior numerical strength is enough for us to know what is likely to happen if members of the RCCG take over the reins of power either in Aso Rock or in any state in the manner they are going about it at the moment. We in the North have been watching this ugly development with keen interest.

“In fact, it is unimaginable to expect the emergence of RCCG candidates as winners in the Northern States and we will ensure that this does not happen now or any time in the future. We are not unaware of the ‘winner-takes-all’ mentality of the RCCG but Northern Muslims will never expose their land to such obnoxious cultural invasion, as what we want is a society where everyone is treated equally.

“The RCCG declaration of a directorate of political affairs was met with great annoyance by us in the North and it has destroyed any goodwill Christian politicians enjoy here in the North. It is so bad that any Muslim who queues behind a redeemer is now considered a traitor to the cause of Islam and this is not what we want at this critical point in our nation. ”

MURIC further warned Idrees Safiyanu Gambo also warned Islamic organizations and Muslim communities against hobnobbing with any RCCG candidate, whether presidential or gubernatorial.

He said, “Although MURIC will not support any political party against another during the coming general election, we warn Islamic organizations and Muslim communities against hobnobbing with any RCCG candidate, whether presidential or gubernatorial.

Source: Daily Post

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US sanctions 6 Nigerians for allegedly aiding Boko Haram

Michael Gabriel Hernandez  



Six Nigerian nationals have been placed under US sanctions due to their alleged support for Boko Haram, the State and Treasury Departments announced on Friday.

All six, identified as Abdurrahman Ado Musa, Salihu Yusuf Adamu, Bashir Ali Yusuf, Muhammed Ibrahim Isa, Ibrahim Ali Alhassan and Surajo Abubakar Muhammad, were convicted of attempting to set up a Boko Haram cell in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Treasury said in a statement.

“With this action, the United States joins the UAE in targeting terrorist financing networks of mutual concern,” Under Secretary of the Treasury Brian Nelson said.

“Treasury continues to target financial facilitators of terrorist activity worldwide. We welcome multilateral action on this Boko Haram network to ensure that it is not able to move any further funds through the international financial system,” he added.

The men were convicted in the UAE of attempting to send $782,000 from Dubai to Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Nigerian military destroys major stronghold of Boko Haram terror group

Andrew Wasike  



The Nigerian military on Friday said it has destroyed one of the largest camps of the Boko Haram terrorist group.

The camp in the northeastern state of Borno was captured after intense fighting with terrorists of Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), the army said in a statement.

Several terrorists were “neutralized in offensive clearance operations … around Ukuba and Camp Zairo in Sambisa Forest,” the statement said, without specifying the exact numbers.

A large amount of weapons and equipment, including heavy artillery, a tank and other armored and combat vehicles, was seized.

The army also posted videos and photos on its Twitter page showing the aftermath of the operation, as well as the weapons and equipment recovered.

Military spokesperson Maj. Gen. Bernard Onyeuko hailed the operation as a “major setback” for terrorist groups in Nigeria.

Boko Haram launched a bloody insurgency in northeastern Nigeria in 2009 before expanding to neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a military response.

The terror group has killed more than 30,000 people and displaced nearly 3 million in Nigeria, according to the UN.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Top Muslim bloc approves appointment of special envoy for Africa

Ibrahim Mukhta 


The foreign ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have endorsed the appointment of a special envoy for Africa.

Meeting on March 22-23 in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers passed a resolution endorsing the bloc’s appointing Nassirou Bako Arifari as special envoy, the 57-nation Muslim bloc said in a statement Thursday.

A former foreign minister for Benin, West Africa, Arifari has also taught at various universities, according to the statement.

“This decision is driven by the Council’s belief in the importance of the African continent and its issues – the more so as a large number of OIC member states are from the African continent,” the statement said.

“The decision is also in response to the (2019) Makkah Al-Mukarramah Summit’s urge for greater attention to be given by the OIC to Africa and African issues.”

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl Issued Notice for Planning To Set Up Stage On Srinagar Highway

Munawer Azeem

March 26, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The capital administration on Friday issued a show-cause notice to Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) for planning to set up stage on Srinagar Highway by blocking the road in violation of the terms and conditions of the no-objection certificate (NOC) issued to it.

The notice was issued by Deputy Commissioner (DC) Hamza Shafqaat to JUI-F Islamabad emir Maulana Abdul Majeed Hazarvi, asking him to reply within 48 hours otherwise the NOC would be cancelled.

It said according to the terms and conditions of the NOC, the rally planned by the JUI shall not disturb or disrupt fundamental rights of the citizens.

The plan to block Srinagar Highway needs preemptive actions by the district administration to maintain law and order and to protect public rights, it said, adding that hence the organisers were being served show-cause notice, asking why the NOC issued for the public gathering may not be cancelled.

“In consequence of non-compliance of the show-cause notice, the capital administration shall withdraw the NOC of the rally and you shall be responsible for any untoward incident,” the notice said.

Meanwhile, PML-N Islamabad chapter president Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry approached the capital administration for issuance of an NOC for the party’s public gathering.

In a letter addressed to the DC, he shared details of the long march plan of the PML-N and the public gathering of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) in Islamabad.

The PML-N’s long march will start on Saturday (today) from Lahore via G.T. Road and Islamabad Expressway and will reach Peshawar Mor, Srinagar Highway, in the evening.

The public gathering will be held at Peshawar Mor on March 28 and will be addressed jointly by the leadership of all PDM component parties.

When contacted, Dr Chaudhry said a meeting was held with the officers of the police and capital administration.

Asked why the PML-N also applied for the NOC as it had already been issued to the JUI-F, he said the NOC was not obtained in the name of the PDM.

Meanwhile, the capital police have suggested to the administration to assign separate routes to the participants of the PTI and the PDM to reach the Parade Ground and H-9, sources in the police said.

They said the suggestion was given after reports collected by the police showed that chances of physical confrontation between the PTI and opposition parties’ workers cannot be ruled out.

Besides, a buffer zone should also be created between the two venues to ensure that there will be no standoff between them.

In this regard, arrangements will be made at Zero Point, Islamabad Expressway from Zero Point to Faizabad, Ninth Avenue from Peshawar Mor to I.J. Principal Road and from Double Road to Faizabad on I.J. Principal Road to set up the buffer zone, the sources said.

Peshawar Mor Underpass and Education Chowk at H-8 have been declared prohibited areas for the general public from March 26.

A contingent of 3,000 officials of Punjab police, 2,000 personnel of FC, 2,000 Rangers, 200 policemen from Azad Kashmir and 400 personnel from Frontier Reserve Police are arriving in the capital. About 3,000 personnel will be deployed from Motorway Chowk to G-9.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed chaired a meeting to review arrangements for the public gatherings. Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan, the interior secretary and officers of the police and administration of Islamabad and Rawalpindi attended the meeting.

Source: Dawn

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Militant commander gunned down in South Waziristan

March 26, 2022

SOUTH WAZIRISTAN: Unknown gunmen killed a militant commander in Azam Warsak area of South Waziristan tribal district on Thursday night, police and witnesses said.

The witnesses said that attackers driving a non-custom paid car opened fire on Mr Bakhan in front of a shop in Azam Warsak, some 15 kilometres from Wana, the district headquarters of South Waziristan. He died instantly.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Locals said that commander Bakhan had affiliation with the “good Taliban” that had supported the government in operations against local and foreign militants in South Waziristan.

Source: Dawn

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US chargé d’affaires visits Karachi, meets Sindh governor

March 25, 2022

The United States Chargé d’affaires Angela Aggeler visited Karachi from March 23 to 25 and met with Governor of Sindh Imran Ismail, Port Qasim Authority Chairman Hasan Nasir Shah, industry leaders, and professional female athletes to promote ties between the US and Pakistan on the 75th anniversary of bilateral relations between the two countries.

Aggeler held a discussion with women athletes and sports journalists in conjunction with Women’s History Month, and she commended the Pakistani sports stars for breaking barriers on the pitch, in the arena, and on the Olympic podium.

“We reaffirm our support for the advancement and achievements of Pakistani women,” she said.

The envoy further stated that a better, more secure and prosperous world is created by elevating the societal status of women and girls.

The chargé d’affaires also toured Port Qasim and met Port Qasim Authority Chairman Hasan Nasir Shah to discuss opportunities for broader trade and economic engagement between the US and Pakistan.

She visited Exquisite, which is LNG company Excelerate’s floating liquefied natural gas and the re-gasification unit, and met with crew members and learned about the company’s contributions toward Pakistan’s energy sector.

“Economic cooperation between our countries has long been a fundamental aspect of our partnership and brings prosperity to both our countries,” Aggeler noted.

She also observed the operations of US companies Cargill, and Procter and Gamble while at Port Qasim.

The US remains one of Pakistan’s largest sources of foreign investment and Aggeler’s visit to Karachi highlighted the importance of strengthening the two countries’ economic relationship, said the statement released.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Imran’s ‘trump card’ claim a hollow threat, says Maryam

Zulqernain Tahir

March 26, 2022

LAHORE: Rejecting Imran Khan’s claim of having a ‘trump card’ to defeat the opposition’s move to oust him from office, PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz offered a word of advice to the prime minister on Firday, asking him to show some ‘self-respect’ and resign instead of seeking time to stay in government.

Addressing party workers at the PML-N’s secretariat in Model Town, she said: “Today, Imran Khan is crying for help not from the public but someone else pleading to come forward and help save his government. But let me tell him… no one will come to his rescue now. He is seeking NRO from everyone…going to his party men and allies whom he never bothered to talk to.”

Asking the PM to stop bluffing people on holding a trump card, she said: “Imran is left with no cards, rather his government’s days are numbered and this is writing on the wall.”

She also castigated Mr Khan for ‘threats’ to his own party members. “Imran is in power, yet over two dozen MNAs have left him. On the other hand, Nawaz Sharif is in opposition but not a single lawmaker parted ways with him despite worst political victimisation by the PTI regime during the past three-and-a-half years,” she claimed.

The PML-N leader said people would not come out in favour of the “selected” premier but would take to the streets against him under the banner of the opposition. She asked the party workers to get ready for the long march towards Islamabad to be kicked off on Saturday (today) from Model Town.

Source: Dawn

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FO rejects India’s remarks on outcome of OIC session

March 26, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday rejected as ‘totally untenable’ and ‘irresponsible’ statement by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on the outcome of unanimously adopted resolutions at the recently held session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s Council of Foreign Ministers (OIC-CFM).

The OIC-CFM in its Islamabad session supported Pakistan’s call for a joint probe to establish the facts surrounding the recent firing of a missile into Pakistan’s territory from India. The OIC in a resolution also urged India to “work constructively with Pakistan for enhancing regional security and stability through the settlement of outstanding disputes and positively responding to Pakistan’s proposal for a Strategic Restraint Regime, including measures for arms control, restraint and confidence building”.

The FO spokesman, in a statement, noted the OIC was a collective voice of the Muslim Ummah and the second largest international organisation after the United Nations, with 57 members and six observer states. “The OIC has a longstanding principled position in support of the legitimate struggle of the Kashmiri people for their right to self-determination granted to them by the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council. While refusing to implement the UNSC resolutions, India has for decades tried to suppress the voice of the Kashmiris through brutal and indiscriminate use of force and gross and systematic violations of human rights in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK),” the statement added.

Besides, the FO pointed out, the ascendant BJP-RSS-inspired “Hindutva” ideology restricted the space for religious minorities in India, especially Muslims whose persecution under state patronage has become a norm in today’s India. “The OIC has accordingly condemned massive human rights abuses in IIOJK, and has once again firmly rejected India’s illegal and unilateral actions of August 5, 2019 and subsequent steps aimed at altering the demographic composition of the occupied territory,” the FO spokesman explained.

He said the OIC had denounced the blatant and widespread discrimination, intolerance and violence against Muslims in India, and called upon India to ensure their rights, including religious freedom.

However, reacting to the OIC resolutions and statements, the Indian MEA said the references made to India were based on ‘falsehoods and misrepresentation’. “The statements and resolutions adopted at the meeting demonstrate both the irrelevance of the OIC as a body and role of Pakistan as its manipulator,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.

According to The Times of India on Thursday, he also warned all the nations and governments that associated themselves with such exercises to realise the impact it had on their “reputation”.

Source: Dawn

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Pardoning graft cases would be treachery, says PM Imran

Nisar Ahmad Khan

March 26, 2022

MANSEHRA: Continu­ing his onslaught on rivals who seem determined to kick him out of power through a no-trust vote, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said if he pardoned the former rulers in the cases of kickbacks and bribery they were facing, it would be tantamount to treachery

“They (opposition leaders) have been pressurising and blackmailing me to clear them of corruption charges. However, if I give them a clean chit, as Pervez Musharraf did, then I would be committing sedition,” Mr Khan declared while speaking to a cheering crowd here at Thakra Stadium.

Referring to PTI lawmakers who had openly come out against him, PM Khan said: “The horse-trading in the federal capital is at its peak as Rs250 million and even more is being offered to each MNA for my character assassination, but I cannot find words to admire the loyalty of lawmakers like Salah Mohammad Khan who didn’t sell his conscience. I am sure he would not have thought of going against me even if he was offered Rs500 million,” Mr Khan said.

The prime minister stayed at the rostrum for over 40 minutes, mostly talking about his government’s performance, their mega-development projects and key achievements.

In an apparent reference to Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Shehbaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, PM Khan said: “Three cowards have been cursing me and trying to intimidate me, but I want to make it clear that they would never succeed in their evil mission.”

PM Khan predicted that Sharif family’s role in Pakistan’s politics had come to an end forever and now they could only get themselves enrolled in British politics.

“If this family would indulge in British politics, the country would go bankrupt because of their corruption and the government would soon be compelled to seek loans from the international community to run its affairs,” he said.

Mr Khan recalled that because of his bold narrative at the UN General Assembly the latter had declared March 15 as the international day to mark Islamophobia.

“Maulana Fazlur Rehman has been using Islam as a stunt for his political and personal gains but he couldn’t make any such achievement which could have helped bring an end to blasphemy being committed in the garb of freedom of speech,” Mr Khan said.

He said his politics was for the dignity and respect of the country and he would prefer to maintain relations with the US and other western countries based on mutual respect and equality but would never accept their hegemony.

“I would extend a hand of friendship to the Indian government if it revokes its constitutional article 370 which ended Kashmir’s independent status on August 15, 2019,” Mr Khan said.

The prime minister invited the people of Mansehra to attend what he called an historic rally in Islamabad on March 27.

Poll code violations

In a related development, the Election Commission of Pakistan served a notice on Prime Minister Khan for using state resources in the campaign of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) candidates contesting the second phase of local bodies elections and violating the code of conduct by addressing a rally in Mansehra.

The notice was served by Mansehra District Monitoring Officer Hayatullah Jan through secretary to the PM. The DMO also served similar notices on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Speaker KP Assembly Mushtaq Ghani and MNA Saleh Mohammad Khan Swati.

It may be recalled that the PM had been advised through a letter issued on March 21, not to violate any provision of the code of conduct. The fresh notice to PM Khan follows the imposition of a fine of Rs50,000 on him and other public office holders by the ECP Peshawar on Thursday for addressing a rally in Malakand on March 20. Earlier, Prime Minister Khan was fined Rs50,000 each by the respective DMOs for addressing public meetings in Lower Dir and Swat.

Source: Dawn

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South Asia


Taliban should live up to commitments, let girls go to school: UN’s global fund for education

26 Mar 2022

CAPTION ADDITION – updated information – Girls arrive at their school in Kabul on March 23, 2022. – The Taliban ordered girls’ secondary schools in Afghanistan to shut on March 23 just hours after they reopened, an official confirmed, sparking confusion and heartbreak over the policy reversal by the hardline Islamist group. (Photo by Ahmad SAHEL ARMAN / AFP) / CAPTION ADDITION (Photo by AHMAD SAHEL ARMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the UN’s global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crisis expressed concern over the closure of schools for teenage girls in Afghanistan and asked the Taliban to live up to their commitments regarding education.

The ECW in a press release asked the de facto authorities in Afghanistan to ensure the right to education for children and adolescents across Afghanistan so that they support a peaceful and prosperous future for all Afghans.

The press release added that boys’ and girls’ return to schools is key for the development of Afghanistan.

“While boys have been able to access primary and secondary school since the Taliban takeover in August 2021, girls’ access to education has been limited to primary school in most of Afghanistan’s provinces. With today’s announcement, an entire generation of Afghan children and adolescents could be left behind.” Reads the statement.

As per the statement of ECW, this was a crucial moment for the de facto authorities to make good on their commitments and that this was the time to fulfill the right to education for all girls and boys in Afghanistan.

Source: Khaama Press

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Students protest in Kabul as Taliban bar girls from attending schools

25 March, 2022

Kabul [Afghanistan], March 25 (ANI): Dozens of students have rallied in Kabul on Friday to protest the Taliban’s decision to block girls’ schools.

A number of protestors chanted slogans against the Taliban. One of the slogans said, “No religion has blocked education and the ban on educating girls is blatant gender discrimination.”

As the new school year begins in Afghanistan, the Taliban has announced that the boys can continue their education normally. However, the doors of the schools have been closed to girls beyond the sixth grade.

The intentional community has condemned this ban saying, this move will have an inevitable impact on the Taliban’s prospects of gaining political support and legitimacy either at home or abroad.

Condemning the Taliban’s decision not to reopen secondary schools to Afghan girls, the United States and its allies have called on the group to revoke its decision.

A joint statement issued by Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union has condemned the Taliban’s decision on March 23 to deny so many Afghan girls the opportunity to finally go back to school.

“The Taliban’s action contradicted its public assurances to the Afghan people and to the international community,” read the statement, adding that the decision came after months of work by the international community to support teacher stipends based on an expectation that schools would be open for all, with the higher interest of Afghan students and teachers in mind.

They called on the Taliban urgently to reverse this decision which will have consequences far beyond its harm to Afghan girls.

Source: The Print

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Taliban faces increasing global pressure to reopen schools to Afghanistan girls

Mar 26, 2022

Months after Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan, the struggle of civilians continues to capture global attention. In the latest issue that has emerged from the South Asian nation, a halt in education for girls has sparked huge concerns. Earlier this week, the Taliban government had closed secondary schools hours after girl students were back in classrooms. Schools had been shut for nearly seven months.

According to a report by Al Jazeera, an education ministry notice said on Wednesday that schools for girls above class 6 would be closed until a plan was drawn up in accordance with Islamic law and Afghan culture. “We inform all girls in high schools and those schools that are having female students above class six that they are off until the next order,” it read.

Heartbreaking visuals showed some girls crying over the decision while others chose to take the protest route. The decision has triggered criticism worldwide.

Now, female foreign ministers of 16 countries have urged Taliban for a rethink. "As women and as foreign ministers, we are deeply disappointed and concerned that girls in Afghanistan are being denied access to secondary schools this spring. We call upon the Taliban to reverse their recent decision and to grant equal access to all levels of education, in all provinces of the country," a joint statement read.

The ministers of Albania, Andorra, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia, Canada, Estonia, Germany, Iceland, Kosovo, Malawi, Mongolia, New Zealand, Sweden, Tonga and Britain have sent the letter, news agency AP reported.

At the United Nations, diplomats of 10 countries have sent across a similar message.

The United States, according to reports, has cancelled some planned meetings in Doha, Qatar, as Taliban continues its hard-line stance. On cancelled meetings in Doha. That's correct. We have cancelled some of our engagements, including planned meetings in Doha and around the Doha forum and made clear that we see this decision as a potential turning point in our engagement," US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Jalina Porter was quoted as saying in reports.

In a tweet, UNAMA (United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan) wrote, "Taliban decision on girls' education will cause irreparable damage to Afghanistan if not reversed. @DeborahLyonsUN message to the Taliban today, meeting in Qatar with their Doha office head @suhailsaheen1."

Source: Hindustan Times

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Southeast Asia


India scolds Chinese minister over Kashmir remarks

March 24, 2022

NEW DELHI: China’s foreign minister Wang Yi drew a rebuke from the Indian government ahead of his expected but unconfirmed visit to New Delhi tomorrow, upsetting his hosts with remarks made in Pakistan this week concerning the disputed Kashmir region.

Relations between the two nuclear armed Asian powers turned chilly two years ago after a deadly border clash in the Ladakh region of Kashmir, and Wang would be the first high-level Chinese official to visit since that time.

Attending a conference of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Pakistan on Tuesday, Wang said that “China shares the same hope” as the OIC on Kashmir, a Muslim majority region which both India and Pakistan rule in part but claim in full.

India has been fighting an armed insurgency in Kashmir for decades and the OIC has long advocated Kashmiris’ “inalienable right to self-determination”.

“We reject the uncalled reference to India by the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi,” the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement late yesterday.

“Matters related to the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir are entirely the internal affairs of India. Other countries including China have no locus standi to comment. They should note that India refrains from public judgement of their internal issues.”

India has controlled nearly half of Kashmir since a war that followed independence from Britain in 1947, including the heavily populated and prized Kashmir valley.

Pakistan controls around a third.

China holds the remainder and has long backed Pakistan in its rivalry with India.

An Indian government source told Reuters, that Wang would meet India’s foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and national security adviser Ajit Doval tomorrow, and that while the agenda was unclear, talks on the Ukraine conflict were expected.

The source requested anonymity, and neither side has formally announced the Chinese minister’s planned visit.

India’s foreign ministry said today it had no information to share on Wang’s visit.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said yesterday he too had no information on it.

China and India fought a brief but bloody border war in 1962.

Relations became fraught again in June 2020, when 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers were killed during a high-altitude clash in a disputed section of the western Himalayas.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Court allows another Mareva injunction against Najib

March 24, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: SRC International Sdn Bhd and one of its subsidiaries have obtained a Mareva injunction from the High Court here to prevent former prime minister Najib Razak from transferring or dissipating his assets amounting to RM42 million.

The decision was made by judicial commissioner Arief Emran Arifin in an online proceeding today after allowing the application by SRC and Gandingan Mentari Sdn Bhd, which were the first and second plaintiffs in SRC’s suit against Najib.

A Mareva injunction is a temporary order which restrains the defendant from disposing of assets until the determination of the case between the plaintiff and the defendant.

The court directed that Najib, 69, must not remove, dispose of, deal with or diminish the value of any of his assets in and outside Malaysia up to the value of RM42 million, pending the final determination of the suit.

The court also directed that the Pekan MP must disclose to SRC’s solicitors, in writing, the details of his assets in or outside of Malaysia up to the value of RM42 million within 30 days of the order being served on him.

The former Umno president shall be entitled to draw and expend from a bank account or other sources a sum not exceeding RM100,000 per month for ordinary living and legal expenses, with the court highlighting that this amount was inclusive of the ad interim Mareva injunction order obtained previously by 1MDB.

Arief also fixed the next case management on May 13.

A lawyer from Messrs Rosli Dahlan Saravana Partnership, who represented SRC, confirmed the court’s decision.

SRC and Gandingan Mentari were represented by M Nagarajah, Syafinaz Vani, Clament Tay and Lisa Yong, while Farhan Shafee and Thilagan Mehanathan appeared for Najib.

On Feb 8, 1MDB and its subsidiaries Global Diversified Investment Company Ltd (formerly known as 1MDB Global Investments Ltd) obtained a Mareva injunction from the High Court here to stop Najib from disposing of or reducing the value of any of his assets in Malaysia up to US$681 million.

However, on Feb 18, Najib filed an application to set aside the Mareva injunction. The hearing has been fixed for May 6.

On July 28, 2020, the High Court sentenced Najib to 12 years in prison and a fine of RM210 million after finding him guilty of misappropriating RM42 million in SRC funds.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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‘Fight was leading us nowhere’: former Abu Sayyaf militants speak after surrender to Philippines forces

March 25, 2022

JOLO, Sulu: Former fighters from one of the most dangerous militant outfits in the Philippines have claimed that they no longer believed their fight was worth it. They were speaking as local army officers report a fall in the number of active members in the organisation, the Abu Sayyaf Group.

The ASG was formed in 1991 as a splinter group of the Moro National Liberation Front, which seeks autonomy for Filipino Muslims in the southern Philippines. Initially influenced by Al-Qaeda, since the early 2000s it has been notorious for assassinations, extortion and kidnappings — often beheading hostages if a ransom was not paid. Often described as a criminal gang whose activity is more profit-driven than ideological, ASG was behind many violent incidents between 2011 and 2018. In 2014, some of its factions pledged allegiance to Daesh.

There has been a decline in ASG-related incidents since 2017, following a five-month operation to reclaim the city of Marawi in the southern Philippines, where militants affiliated with Daesh had taken control, and the subsequent crackdown on the ASG leadership. 

Since 2018, the Philippine government has stepped up programs designed to encourage ASG members to surrender. 

Data from the 11th Infantry Division, a Philippine army unit designated to fight militancy in southwestern Sulu island — the stronghold of ASG — shows that the number of militants active in the area has decreased from about 300 in 2019 to an estimated 100.

In an interview at a military facility in Jolo, capital of Sulu province, former fighters who are cooperating with the army spoke to Arab News about why they left the organization.

“Our fight was leading us nowhere,” said Faizal Umadjadi, now 21, who joined ASG in 2012. According to the military, he was involved in at least four encounters with government troops, the first time in 2014. Many ASG recruits come from local communities where the militants have their hideouts.

“I ran away from home, I didn’t listen to my parents,” Umadjadi said.

Six years later, the decision to surrender came during one of his meetings with family. “My parents cried a lot, so I thought I wouldn’t go back (to ASG), because I felt sorry for them,” he said. “They said there is no chance that we (ASG) can beat the government and it’s leading us nowhere.”

Arab Abdulmain Yousoff, 29, said he also chose family over combat eventually. It took him 10 years to make the decision. Military documentation shows he was a sub-leader in the group. He claimed he was close to Radullan Sahiron — ASG’s leader and one of its first members, who remains at large with a $1 million bounty on his head. Yousoff joined the group in 2010, following a promise that he would earn money from kidnaping for ransoms. In ASG, he was responsible for transporting and guarding hostages. He was involved in nine operations against government forces. At the same time, his elder brother, a soldier, was fighting ASG.

“My mother had a stroke because of me,” he said. “When there was a war in Marawi, that’s when my mother started to become ill. My brother was fighting in Marawi. My family said ‘if you still want to see your mother alive, it’s up to you. If you don’t want to see her alive anymore, it’s still up to you.’”

For Bennajar Jalmaani, recruited at the age of 15 in 2014, it was the ASG’s brutality toward hostages that he said made him want to leave. He started in reconnaissance and organizing food supplies. Military records show he was also involved in combat and participated in four encounters with the army.

He was with the group when it abducted two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipina from the Holiday Oceanview Resort on the island of Samal in Davao del Norte in 2015. The hostages were later taken to the jungles of Jolo island. He was also there when the Canadians were decapitated in 2016, after $6.4 million in ransom was not paid.

“When they beheaded the hostages, that’s when I decided to get out,” he said. He surrendered last year and now makes charcoal for a living. Like others who gave up arms, he receives assistance from the government to keep his family. This week alone, nine ASG members followed in his footsteps, and surrendered to the Joint Task Force Sulu.

Source: Arab News

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