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Worshippers not killed even in India: Pakistan defence minister Khawaja Asif on mosque blast

New Age Islam News Bureau

1 February 2023

Peshawar Mosque Blast: Khawaja Asif is seen. (Reuters)


• Explainer: What's fuelling Pakistan's Taliban fire

• New family law for non-Muslim residents comes into effect today

• Is Denmark an example of anti-Islam hate in action?

• European parliament official says Holy Qur'an burning is not freedom of speech

• Bangladesh PM urges Muslim nations to stand firm by Palestinians

• Maintenance payment to divorced wife not automatic, rules judge

• Iran Warns of Firm, Regrettable Response to Aggressors

• To target worshippers is unconscionable: US condemns deadly mosque attack in Pakistan



• Pak Sikh man accuses Muslims of threatening to kill him, daughters

• NIA files chargesheet against man who raised funds for Islamic State

• Be secular, says Supreme Court as plea targets parties with faith-linked names

• Muslim enrolment dips in higher education in Haryana: All India Survey on Higher Education



• Pakistan mosque blast that killed 100 was 'revenge against police'

• TTP attacks Mianwali police station, a day after hitting Peshawar mosque

• OIC condemns Holy Qur’an’s desecration; calls for joint action to stop recurrence

• Pakistan, IMF resume talks to revive stalled bailout

• Peshawar, Pakistan's 'city of flowers', long marred by militant violence

• TTP attack on Mianwali police station ‘repulsed’

• National Assembly rues plan to resettle militants

• ISI officers’ killer ‘gunned down’ near Afghan border

• Military to pursue terrorists via ‘intelligence-based operations’

• NCHR calls into question religious affairs ministry’s ‘gender-based bias’ against female PAS officer

• China denounces Peshawar terrorist attack, expresses firm support to Pakistan’s fight against terrorism

• Peshawar Mosque attack: COAS Gen Asim directs all commanders to continue focus on anti-terror operations


Arab World

• Michigan Man Convicted Of Joining ISIS, Training In Terrorist Tactics

• Eight rockets target Turkish military base in Iraq: Kurdish anti-terror group

• Iran blames foreign security service, Iraqi Kurdish groups for weekend drone strike

• Regional power plan for Lebanon held up over Syria sanctions: French official

• Turkey’s push into Iraq risks deeper conflict

• Shooting spree in Egypt leaves one dead, suspect arrested

• Have the fees of the Pakistani passport increased in the UAE? Officials respond

• Saudi Cabinet calls for revival of Israel-Palestinian peace talks

• FIFA president tours ‘Saudi House’ hosting AFC meeting in Bahrain

• Saudi leaders offer condolences to Pakistan on victims of mosque attack

• Islamophobia has reached ‘alarming’ levels: OIC

• MWL, OIC, GCC condemn Peshawar mosque attack

• Saudi Cabinet reiterates Kingdom’s condemnation of Qur’an desecration

• US inflicted huge losses on Syrian economy through war, sanctions: Syrian officials



• Azerbaijan urges citizens against travel to Iran after deadly embassy attack

• Macron's remarks prove France still pursues colonial approach toward Africa: Turkish scholar

• Tehran’s nuclear activities ‘threatens international peace and security,’: UK

• Turkish foreign minister to visit Estonia for talks

• Sweden sacrifices its NATO membership path to extremists

• Swedes criticize recent provocations against Türkiye, Islam

• Muslims in Berlin decry lack of burial places, demand urgent solution

• In Budapest, top Turkish diplomat holds 'fruitful meeting' with Hungarian premier

• UK High Court to consider legality of resuming arms sales to Saudi Arabia


South Asia

• Islamic Emirate Condemns Attack on Mosque in Peshawar

• Islamic Emirate to Begin Construction on Banks of Amu River

• Bangladesh orders 191 ‘anti-state’ news sites blocked

• Pakistan Releases More Than 100 Afghan Detainees

• Pakistan’s Special Envoy Meets European Union’s Special Representative for Afghanistan

• Taliban showing signs of understanding China’s real interests :Report

• US envoy, Pakistan officials discuss Afghan Taliban ban on women


Southeast Asia

• Quranic Arts Festival Wraps Up in Malaysia

• Defending his daughter’s adviser role, Malaysia PM Anwar says Nurul Izzah will ensure government transparency

• Indonesia sees Saudi Arabia as ‘priority partner’ to boost Mideast trade



• 2023: Peter Obi working to divide Muslims, Christians – Adamu Garba

• Sudan frees Abdel-Raouf Abu Zaid, man convicted of killing US diplomat John Granville

• Algeria’s Tebboune to visit Russia in May: Presidency

• Biden, King Abdullah to meet at White House on Thursday

• Jordan workshop to target employment for Syrian refugees

• Tunisia extends state of emergency to end of 2023


North America

• US secretary of state Blinken in Mideast renews appeal for Israel-Palestinian calm

• US, Pakistan officials fear looming food crisis is ‘real concern’

• Blinken meets Abbas, presses for two-state solution

• US senator blasts Turkey’s Erdogan, calls for sanctions and no F-16s

• Canadian court convicts pair of assault of Muslim father

• US imposes sanctions on Iranian drone manufacturers

• Ilhan Omar: US treats Africa as a threat that needed to be contained



• Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu says considering military aid to Ukraine, mediation

• Iran arrests 4 Sunni clerics, bans filmmaker from travel

• Turkish Muslim community in Berlin seeks urgent solution to cemetery woes

• Informed Source Says Iran Likely to Change Strategy on Ukraine War After Kiev's Comments on Drone Strike

• Iran's Intelligence Minister: Israeli Regime's Moves Sign of Desperation

• Iran Calls for Australia's Accountability over Refugees' Deaths

• Iran Censures Europe's Instrumental Use of Human Rights to Meddle in Other Countries' Affairs

• Tehran Raps US Politicians for Inverting Facts About Iran

• Iranian Speaker Cautions Azerbaijan against Emotional Decisions

• Young couple in Iran sentenced to 21 years for dancing in public video: Report

• Blinken takes support for two-state solution to disillusioned Palestinians

• Three alleged al-Qaeda militants killed in suspected US drone strike in Yemen

• EU envoys return to Aden in support of Yemeni government’s military unity and peace efforts

• Abbas succession battle could ‘collapse’ Palestinian Authority: think tank

• Israeli minister threatens Palestinians with death penalty by ‘electric chair’ amid surging tensions

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Worshippers not killed even in India: Pakistan defence minister Khawaja Asif on mosque blast

Feb 01, 2023

By Mallika Soni

Peshawar Mosque Blast: Khawaja Asif is seen. (Reuters)


Pakistan defence minister Khawaja Asif said worshippers were not killed during prayers even in India, in remarks made following the deadly suicide bombing inside a mosque in Peshawar. The suicide attack left 100 people dead and many injured.

“Worshippers weren't killed during prayers even in India or Israel but it happened in Pakistan,” Khawaja Asif said in Pakistan's national assembly.

"This war started from Swat during the PPP's tenure and it was concluded during the PML-N's previous tenure, and peace was established in the country from Karachi to Swat. But if you remember, a year-and-a-half or two years ago [...] we were given a briefing two, three times in this same hall in which it was clearly stated that talks could be carried out against these people and they can be brought toward peace," he said.

"But this is a tragedy where we require the same resolve and unity which was expressed in 2011-2012. I will not talk for long but I will say briefly that at the start, we sowed the seeds for terrorism," he asserted.

Referring to Russia's invasion on Afghanistan, the minister said that Pakistan offered its services to the United States 'on rent'.

"General Zia was the ruler at the time [...] the agreement made with the US went on for eight to nine years after which the US went back to Washington celebrating the fact that Russia was defeated," he added.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Explainer: What's fuelling Pakistan's Taliban fire

Feb 1, 2023

The death toll in Monday's suicide bombing in Pakistan's Peshawar has crossed 100. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or Pakistan Taliban are suspected to be behind this terror attack on a mosque inside a police headquarters.

A TTP commander claimed responsibility for the attack in a Twitter post. But hours later, TTP officially distanced itself from the claim, saying attacking a mosque is against its policies. But this clarification followed condemnation of the attack by the Afghan Taliban.

But why Taliban fight Pakistan

TTP is an outfit, which is linked to Afghan Taliban yet maintains a separate identity.

Protesting Pakistan's cooperation with the US in its war on terrorism, some outlawed Pakistani groups formed TTP in 2007, supporting Taliban's fight against US and NATO forces.

What TTP wants

TTP seeks stricter enforcement of Islamic laws, the release of its members in government custody, and a reduction in Pakistani military presence in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the province bordering Afghanistan that it has long used as a base.

What's it doing?

TTP has stepped up attacks on Pakistani soldiers and police since November, when it unilaterally ended a cease-fire with the government. Its talks with Pakistan, hosted by Afghanistan's Taliban rulers in Kabul, had failed.

Post Taliban takeover

TTP maintains it's distinct from the Afghan Taliban but shares the same ideology.

After the Afghan Taliban took over Afghanistan in 2021, they began supporting TTP openly, releasing their leaders and fighters arrested by the previous Afghan administration.

Pakistan pays the price

Pakistan has seen an uptick in TTP attacks since November. TTP regularly carries out shootings or bombings, especially targeting the security forces. Videos showing Pakistan Taliban beheading a captured soldier often do rounds on social media in Pakistan.

Rise in violence has triggered more fears among residents of the affected Khyber Pakhtunkhwa districts that a military operation may be carried out, leading to more bloodbath in the region.

Source: Times Of India

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New family law for non-Muslim residents comes into effect today

Shireena Al Nowais

Feb 01, 2023

Legal procedures based on Abu Dhabi’s civil family court system, which allows non-Muslim couples to divorce and marry in a non-Sharia process, will be introduced across the UAE from today.

The federal law for non-Muslim residents, announced in December, covers family matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and child custody.

Previously, a couple seeking a divorce in a local court would follow a Sharia-based process. This may differ significantly from what they are be used to in their home country.

Many choose to marry, divorce or arrange a will abroad instead.

The new law is likely to lead to far more residents from overseas using simple civil procedures in the Emirates to marry and divorce.

Officials who overhauled the legal process told The National they want to ensure the law provides for all residents, regardless of faith or background.

Here, we look at the law's main provisions.


Non-Muslim couples can now marry “based on the will of both the husband and wife”, meaning consent from the wife’s father or guardian is no longer a requirement.

The need to have several male Muslims as witnesses has also been removed.

In Abu Dhabi's family court, proceedings are closer to what you would find in a registry office wedding in the UK or Europe.

A single court official guides the couple through a secular legal process, the couple sign the legal documents making them husband and wife, the rings are presented and photos are taken.

At Abu Dhabi's Civil Family Court, 2,200 marriages were registered between January and August, about 25 each day. There is expected to be similar demand in the other emirates as the law comes into effect.


Under the new law, spouses have the right to divorce without a requirement to prove harm was done in the marriage. This is known as a “no fault divorce”.

Either spouse may now ask the court to end the marriage without the need to prove one party was at fault.

Divorce can be granted at the first hearing without the need to go through a process of family guidance counselling and mandatory mediation sessions.

Support payments, or alimony, and other subsequent requests will be submitted using a “post-divorce request form”.

In the case of a dispute regarding financial requests, several factors will be taken into account, including the length of the marriage, the age of the wife and the financial status of each spouse.

Joint custody

Joint and equal custody of children will be automatically granted to parents after divorce, with procedures in place to settle disputes.

In the event of a custody dispute, the court can be asked to intervene and make a decision on the matter. The primary consideration will always be the best interests of the child.

Previously, a mother was only given custody of her son until he reached the age of 11, and her daughter until the age of 13. The father could claim custody once the child reached those ages.


The new law ensures the right of a foreign resident to draw up a will giving their property to whoever they wish.

In the absence of a will, half of a person’s estate will now go to the surviving spouse. The other half will be distributed equally between the deceased’s children.

In the Sharia-based domestic court system, a son would obtain a larger share of the inheritance.

If the deceased has no children, the inheritance goes to their parents, or it may be split equally between one surviving parent and the deceased’s siblings.

Wills for non-Muslims should be registered during the signing of their marriage certificate.

Proof of paternity

The new law states that proof of paternity for non-Muslims will be based on marriage or the recognition of paternity.

DNA tests will be carried out if the parents are unknown.

Earlier this year, new rules allowed unmarried mothers to apply to get birth certificates for their babies. Before that, the presence or proof of a husband was required to legally register the child.

Source: TheNationalNews

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Is Denmark an example of anti-Islam hate in action?

The Muslim world protested and condemned, asking pointedly why the "Islam-hating charlatan" was permitted to burn copies of the Quran. (Reuters)


A wave of deep sorrow, regret and anger swept across the Muslim world after extremist Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Paludan last week burned copies of the Quran outside mosques and the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm.

Under police protection, the far-right provocateur, infamous for his anti-Islam views, torched the Muslim holy book and announced that he will keep repeating this act until Sweden is admitted into the NATO alliance, something it has sought amid Russia's military action against Ukraine.

"This mosque has no place in Denmark," said Paludan in a live stream on his Facebook page, while being protected by riot police personnel.

The Muslim world protested, and Türkiye condemned the action, asking pointedly why the "Islam-hating charlatan" Paludan was permitted to burn the copies of the holy book.

"Showing tolerance towards such heinous acts that offend the sensitivities of millions of people living in Europe threatens the practice of peaceful coexistence and provokes racist, xenophobic and anti-Muslim attacks," said a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement.

Denmark, meanwhile, maintained their hands are tied over the hate crime due to the revocation of the country's blasphemy laws in 2017. The Nordic country's now-defunct blasphemy law called for up to four months in prison upon conviction, although most people were fined instead. It appears that Paludan's action remains short of conviction, as there is no law in the country to challenge him.

This entire situation prompts questions over a country where Muslim immigration remains a contentious political issue, where mainstream political parties entertain the idea of shifting asylum facility to Rwanda in order to stop accommodating refugees in Denmark, and where no law enforcement action is taken on a far-right politician who continues to wound the sentiments of millions of people: does Denmark present the case of anti-Islam hate in action?

'Our society should decide on limits of freedom of speech'

Dr Urfan Zahoor Ahmed, a Muslim community leader associated with the Danish Muslim Union – founded in 2008, now the largest umbrella organisation for Muslim associations and mosques in Denmark – said there cannot be a denial on the existence of anti-Islam hate within the Danish borders through structural power institutions and individual choices based on predispositions.

Commenting on the alternate view rooted in freedom of expression to justify anti-Islamic comments and actions, he said: "It actually hurts even more when the people are saying that it is just freedom of speech. And you should just live with it because it should never be a case that as a minority you have to live with the defamation of your holy prophet and holy scriptures."

The Muslim activist, who is also a physician and teaches at Copenhagen University, added: "If we as a society declare that Holocaust denial, child pornography, blasphemy laws, and opposition to the queen is not accepted, so then that is the choice of the society. (Danish) politicians have chosen that Paludan has the right to burn the Quran. We, as a society, should decide where the limit is to this freedom of speech. Because it is not limitless."

LeneKuhle of Aarhus University's School of Culture and Society, who focuses on the Muslim community in Denmark, believes that the phenomena of anti-Islam hate is indeed a reality within the country but Paludan's actions prevent a difficult situation as despite no major support from Danish society for his action, his actions are within the law.

"We did not use to discuss Islamophobia a lot in Denmark but it has become more of a topic of discussion and that is a good development because people are now critically reviewing how people talk about Islam, Muslim and immigrants," she said.

'Liberty at the cost of community'

While acknowledging the presence of anti-Islam hate, she said it is not true that the entire Danish system is completely embedded in "Islamophobia."

"It is necessary to be investigated to what extent Islamophobia influences Danish society. It is important to contextualise why it is happening. The media has quite a large role to try and explain this as the work of one man who is trying to get attention, he is a lawyer who knows the limitations of the legal system. As long as he stays within the limits of the law, it is very difficult to do something about it."

The Muslim community of Denmark continues to protest the desecration of the holy book, while community leaders request people not take the laws in their hand and respond to hate with love and respect. Yet questions are being raised over the police protection and permissions being given by the authorities for the anti-Islam act.

"The West needs to acknowledge the fact that permitting Islamophobic words and actions that has the potential to incite violence against Muslims is a liberty at the cost of a community," said a protestor at the same site in Copenhagen a day after Paludan burned the Quran – but this time with no authorities around.

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European parliament official says Holy Qur'an burning is not freedom of speech

FEBRUARY 01, 2023

Reinhold Lopatka


Reinhold Lopatka, Chair of the Co-ordination Mechanism between parliamentary organisations and unions and Vice-President of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA), has affirmed his rejection of the burning and tearing of copies of the Holy Qur'an in Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark by extremists, noting that these violations have nothing to do with freedom of speech.

In a statement to Qatar News Agency (QNA), Lopatka said that such events are unacceptable, and he cannot condone such actions, and considered them exaggerated to a great extent, which have nothing to do with freedom of speech, given that they hurt the feelings of many people, when in fact the limit to freedom of speech is respecting the feelings of others.

Lopatka stated that religions should work to establish peace, and everyone must respect religions, adding that Europe faces issues such as Islamophobia. He said it is imperative to ensure that there is mutual respect for all religions around the world, be it Christianity, Judaism or Islam, expressing his personal respect for all religions.

The Chair of the Co-ordination Mechanism also praised Qatar's efforts in countering terrorism worldwide, and stressed that Qatar is one of the countries that greatly supports the fight against terrorism.


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Bangladesh PM urges Muslim nations to stand firm by Palestinians

Jan 31,2023

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday urged the Muslim nations to collectively stand over Palestinians cause saying since its 1971 emergence Bangladesh’s stance on the issue remained very firm, as envoys of seven OIC member states here jointly made a courtesy call on her.

‘Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman supported Palestine and I also have been standing beside the Palestinians,’ prime minister’s speech writer Md Nazrul Islam quoted her as saying in a media briefing after the meeting at the PMO.

She added: ‘Muslim Ummah should collectively stand by the Palestinians’.

The seven emissaries are Algerian Ambassador Rabah Larbi, Malaysian High Commissioner Haznah Md Hashim, Maldivian High Commissioner Shiruzimath Sameer, Oman’s Ambassador Abdul Ghaffar Bin Abdul Karim Al-Bulushi, Palestinian Ambassador Yousef SY Ramadan, Saudi Arabian Ambassador Essa Yousef Essa Alduhailan and UAE Ambassador Abdullah Ali Abdullah KhaseifAlhmoudi.

The PMO spokesman said that the envoys of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation member countries highly appreciated Sheikh Hasina’s leadership for the last 14-year yielding Bangladesh’s development and stability, particularly tackling the Covid-19 pandemic successfully.

According to the Nazrul Islam, the emissaries expected that Bangladesh would stay well and remain happy under her leadership and conveyed her that the Muslim Ummah was also happy and proud of her.

They also expressed hope that the progress of Bangladesh would continue under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina and wished her success in the next general election.

Around seven million Bangladeshis are currently working in the Middle Eastern countries, also OIC members, while the envoys said they were contributing a lot to those economies.

The prime minister said that a neutral election commission was constituted through enactment of a new law and added that the election scheduled for January 2024 would be fair.

Sheikh Hasina said that if the people voted for her, she would come in power again and ‘otherwise not as I believe in the power of the people’.

She has been working not for herself rather for the country and its people, the prime minister said, adding that her goal is to make the socio-economic development of the countrymen.

The PM said that the government was working to ensure houses for all homeless and landless people. ‘Now in the final phase, some 40,000 houses are being constructed. Nobody will remain homeless and landless after distribution of these abodes,’ she added.

Prime minister’s international relation affairs adviser Professor Dr Gowher Rizvi, ambassador-at-large Mohammad Ziauddin and PM’s principal secretary M Tofazzel Hossain Miah were also present.


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Maintenance payment to divorced wife not automatic, rules judge

V Anbalagan

February 1, 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: A High Court judge has held in a non-Muslim matrimonial proceeding that a former wife is not automatically entitled to maintenance from her former husband due to changing times and circumstances.

Justice Evrol Mariette Peters said it must be remembered that the provisions of the Law Reform (Marriage & Divorce) Act 1976 were enacted when clear demarcations existed to separate the roles of husbands and wives.

“Most women were stay-home mothers and were financially dependent on their husbands, who were the breadwinners for the family,” she said.

However, a whole generation has passed since the Act came into force, and those roles have evolved over time.

“Women are no longer relegated to merely handling household matters.

“Gone are the days where a woman’s only place was in the kitchen. As such, there is no automatic right for a woman to claim maintenance from her husband,” she said.

Peters said Section 77(1) of the Act, which came into force on March 1, 1982, states that the court may order a man to pay maintenance to his wife or former wife.

This indicates that the court has a discretion and must take all relevant factors into account.

“There is no hard and fast rule that a man must maintain his wife or former wife,” she said, when refusing to order maintenance payment sought by a woman, identified only as GOW, against her former husband (GOS).

She said the court was governed by the “means and needs” test pursuant to Section 78 of the Act when exercising its discretion.

“The defendant (wife) had failed to fulfil the ‘needs’ test and as such, there was no necessity for the plaintiff to provide spousal maintenance,” she said in a 21-page judgment released on Monday.

GOW, a Chinese national, had married GOS in August 2007. They have two children, aged 15 and 12.

Her former husband is a financial analyst and works part-time as a real estate agent, besides running a small business dealing with car replacement tools.

In September 2016, she obtained an interim protection order after claiming to have left the matrimonial home after suffering years of abuse at the hands of her former husband.

Peters, however, gave sole guardianship and custody of the children to the mother and ordered her former husband to pay monthly maintenance of RM4,000 towards the children.

She also gave the former husband access to the children subject to several conditions, including that he refrain from threatening or assaulting her or the children.

Source:Free Malaysia Today

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Iran Warns of Firm, Regrettable Response to Aggressors


In an interview with Al-Arabiya news agency, Blinken claimed that Iran has rejected the opportunity it had last summer to return to the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“Unfortunately, they rejected what was on the table and had been agreed to by everybody. Their either wouldn’t move forward with it,” Blinken added, saying that the US’ focus has now shifted to “the many things that have happened since".

Elsewhere in his interview, he stated military maneuvers with Israel and other countries in the Persian Gulf meant to deter Iran’s activities in the region.

Reacting to Blinken's remarks, Kana'ani stated the US administration must be aware of "the legal and international responsibilities resulting from threatening remarks against Iran" and "think twice about the political consequences of such provocative statements".

He added that Iran has frequently emphasized the peaceful nature of its nuclear activities, as corroborated by numerous reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which prove that building nuclear weapons is not part of Iran’s national security doctrine.

The spokesperson emphasized that Iran has never stopped its scientific, technical and technological progress in the nuclear field and would continue to abide by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, commonly known as the NPT, to an extent required for the country's development and based on its inalienable rights as a member of the treaty.

"The US government is well aware that the Islamic Republic of Iran does not tolerate any aggression or encroachment on its territory and interests and will respond decisively ... to the aggressors," the top diplomat pointed out, warning that Iran's response will make enemies regret their act.

Kana'ani has also slammed the latest allegations leveled by the US and the Israeli regime against Tehran’s peaceful nuclear program, stressing it is ridiculous that criminals and outlaws now claim to be the flagbearers of global security.

"US secretary of state whose country used 1st Atomic bomb in the world and prime minister of fake Zionist regime, with horrible nuclear arsenal, stand together warning of Iran nuclearization (an NPT member and committed to it)," the spokesperson wrote on Twitter.

"Ridiculous but true; Criminals and outlaws flagbearers of int'l security!" he added.

Blinken and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have reiterated accusations against Iran and the country's peaceful nuclear program during a recent meeting in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Iran has repeatedly warned that any mistake by the US and Israel will be met with Tehran's crushing response. Iranian officials say Washington and Tel Aviv are well aware of Tehran’s capabilities and capacities, and caution that Tehran does not compromise or joke with its national security.

Iran stresses it has not quit the negotiating table with the world powers, but will not put all its eggs in the negotiation basket and will not wait for the United States to return to its commitments under the 2015 agreement. Iranian officials stress Tehran has maintained its constructive attitude towards a good, strong and lasting agreement on the revival of the accord and arriving at a deal requires the US pragmatic attitude.

Tehran says it will not be able to trust Washington as long as President Joe Biden continues the wrong policy of maximum pressure and sanctions practiced by Donald Trump against Iran. Iranian officials say the Biden administration has yet done nothing but hollow promises to lift sanctions against Tehran. They blast the US addiction to sanctions, and slammed the POTUS for continuing his predecessor's policy on Iran.

Tehran and the five remaining parties to the nuclear deal have held several rounds of negotiations since April 2021 to restore the agreement, which was unilaterally abandoned by Trump in May 2018.

The talks remain stalled since August 2022, as Washington continues to insist on its hard-nosed position of not removing all sanctions that were slapped on Tehran by the previous US administration.

In quitting the agreement, Trump restored sanctions on Iran as part of what he called the “maximum pressure” campaign against the country. Those sanctions are being enforced to this day by the Biden administration, even though it has repeatedly acknowledged that the policy has been a mistake and a failure.

Iranian officials say the ball is in the US' court, and the Biden administration should assure Tehran that it will not repeat Trump's past mistakes.

Diplomats have also criticized Washington for raising excessive demands from Tehran during the nuclear talks, and blocking efforts to reach an agreement on the JCPOA. They emphasized that the US should lift unilateral sanctions, and assure Iran that it will not repeat its past mistakes.

Officials say although some progress has been made, there are still outstanding issues that need to be resolved before a final deal could be attained. They warn that Tehran has its own "Plan B" and it will go into effect if Washington fails to make a political decision to revive the 2015 agreement.

Source: Fars News Agency

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To target worshippers is unconscionable: US condemns deadly mosque attack in Pakistan


The US has strongly condemned the deadly suicide bombing at a mosque in Pakistan's Peshawar city on Monday, saying "terrorism is indefensible," and to "target worshippers is unconscionable." The death toll from the suicide attack rose to 100 on Tuesday after rescue workers retrieved more bodies from the debris of the devastated mosque inside a major police facility in Peshawar, capital of the restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

According to Pakistani security officials, the suicide bomber who was present in the front row during the Zuhr (afternoon) prayers on Monday blew himself up, causing the roof to collapse on the worshippers -- one of Pakistan's deadliest attacks in recent years.

“The United States strongly condemns the terrorist attack on a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan with reports today that the death toll has now risen to 100 people,” Andrienne Watson, spokesperson of the National Security Council, White House said on Tuesday.

“This is tragic and heartbreaking news, and we extend our deep condolences to the loved ones of those who have lost their lives. Terrorism is indefensible, and to target worshippers is unconscionable,” Watson said.

Washington stands ready to provide support to Pakistan in its efforts to recover, he added.

"Devastating news in Pakistan, where over 100 were killed by a suicide bomb at a mosque and another 40 people died in a bus crash," tweeted Senator Bob Casey.

“My condolences are with the Pakistani people as they mourn the loss of life,” he added.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), known as the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the suicide attack, saying it was part of a revenge attack for slain TTP commander Umar Khalid Khurasani who was killed in Afghanistan in August last year.

The TTP, set up as an umbrella group of several militant outfits in 2007, called off a ceasefire with the federal government and ordered its militants to stage terrorist attacks across the country.

The group, which is believed to be close to al-Qaeda, has been blamed for several deadly attacks across Pakistan, including an attack on army headquarters in 2009, assaults on military bases, and the 2008 bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.

In 2014, the Pakistani Taliban stormed the Army Public School (APS) in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing at least 150 people, including 131 students.

The attack has sent shockwaves across the world and was widely condemned.

Source: TelegraphIndia

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Pak Sikh man accuses Muslims of threatening to kill him, daughters

Jan 31, 2023

A Sikh who went to pick up his daughter from school on Monday in Jacobabad in Sindh was threatened by local Muslims, who abused them and said that they will kill them.

Narain Das Bheel, founder and chief organiser of the Hindu Organisation of Sindh tweeted a video where the Sikh could be heard narrating the incidents of atrocities they are facing in Pakistan.

Harish Singh said that when he was picking up his daughters from school, he was threatened to be killed by the local Muslims.

He said that the attackers also threatened to kill his daughters. Singh added that his daughters were afraid and refused to go to school. Singh further urged locals to save him from the atrocities.

“I am pleading with the locals of Jacobabad with folded hands that on January 26, when I was coming back after picking up my daughters, some bike-borne Muslims abused and threatened to kill me and my daughters. They hit my scooter. I suffered an injury in my leg. My daughters are worried. They are refusing to go to school,” he added.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa on Tuesday urged the ministry of external affairs to look into the matter and called to raise the voice for the safety and justice of minorities in Pakistan.

Source: Hindustan Times

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NIA files chargesheet against man who raised funds for Islamic State

January 31, 2023


The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has filed a chargesheet against an alleged Islamic State operative who raised funds for the terror outfit and sent them to his handlers in Syria in the form of cryptocurrency.

The agency had suo moto registered the case on June 25 last year to probe the conspiracy by the Islamic State and its members to propagate the outfit’s ideology and collect funds from its sympathisers in India.

According to the NIA, Mohammad Mohsin Ahmad was involved in raising funds and sending the money to his Syria-based handlers through cryptocurrency channels. Originally from Patna in Bihar, he had been living at Batla House in Delhi. The agency alleged that Ahmad had also been working for the outfit’s objective to radicalise the Indian youth and recruit them.

On August 6, 2022, the NIA had conducted searches on the premises linked to Ahmad in Delhi and Bihar. He was arrested during the operation.

Crypto challenge

Terror funding using cryptocurrency has emerged a major challenge for security agencies across the world over the past few years. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has been flagging the issue from time to time, asking the member countries to adopt necessary preventive measures.

In November 2022, FATF president T. Raja Kumar had delivered a speech at the third ‘No Money for Terror’ Ministerial Conference on Counter-Terrorism Financing in Delhi, stating that the FATF had released its first report on the financing of Islamic State in 2015.

The scope was broadened in 2018 to include al-Qaeda and its affiliates. “Since then, we have been regularly tracking the risks associated with ISIL, AQ [al-Qaeda] and its affiliates through regular reports that are made available to all FATF Global Network members,” he said.

The FATF has been analysing the terror outfits’ new methods of generating and moving funds, such as online crowdfunding, and studying the risks of terrorist financing associated with “ethnically or racially motivated” terrorism.

“...we have recently been observing changes in the mode of financing of ISIL and AQ with the use of crypto assets. These groups have been increasingly exploiting crypto assets to raise and move funds both within the terrorist organisation itself, and more widely at regional levels - between the core group and its affiliates,” he said.

The terrorists have been specifically seeking payments in the form of crypto assets. “These individuals and groups have also engaged in overt commercial activities to raise funds. These include organising concerts, selling merchandise, whether online or through front companies, and purchasing real estate... as terrorist groups are increasingly denied access to traditional financial services..., they are shifting to more covert means of transferring and managing funds,” said the FATF chief.

“This includes using crypto assets for fundraising and money transfers - even creating their own stablecoins - and turning to alternative tailored crowdfunding platforms when they are banned from mainstream ones for violating their terms of service,” he said.


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Be secular, says Supreme Court as plea targets parties with faith-linked names

Feb 1, 2023

NEW DELHI: As a petitioner seeking cancellation of names and symbols of political parties which have religious connotations named only few parties related to the Muslim community, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked him to be secular and not to go against any particular religion.

A bench of Justices M R Shah and B V Nagarathna was hearing a PIL filed by former Uttar Pradesh Shia Waqf Board chairman Wasim Ahmed Rizvi. The petitioner, who has recently embraced Hinduism, sought the court's direction to restrain political parties from using names and symbols associated with religion.

As the petition named only fSCew political parties like Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and All India Majlis-Elttehandul Muslimeen (AIMM), senior advocate Dushayant Dave and lawyer HarisBeeran,, appearing for IUML, raised strong objections to only Muslim parties being impleaded in the case. Dave said he had raised objection in the last hearing also and the court should first examine his objection before proceeding in the case. In a submission in the last hearing, Dave asked why other parties like Shiv Sena and Shiromani Akali Dal had not been made parties in the case and submitted that the petitioner cannot be selective in targeting only a few.

“What is being told is that the petitioner must be secular.... You must be fair to everybody," Justice Nagarathna observed.

The court thereafter asked the petitioner to implead other political parties also in the case so that they could argue and defend in the court hearing..

Opposing a plea seeking cancellation of names and symbols of existing political parties which resonate with religion, the Election Commission earlier told the Supreme Court that there is no express provision which bars associations with religious connotations to register themselves as political parties. Filing an affidavit in response to a PIL, the poll panel told the court that cancelling the symbol allotted to political parties with religious connotation will be legally untenable.

It brought to the notice of the court that Representation of People Amendment Bill was introduced in 1994 and it was proposed that a proviso be added under subsection (7) of Section 29A of the Act stating that no association bearing religious name would be registered as a political party, but the Bill was not passed and consequently lapsed with the dissolution of the then Lok Sabha.

Source: Times Of India

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Muslim enrolment dips in higher education in Haryana: All India Survey on Higher Education

Jan 31, 2023

The enrolment of Muslims in higher education in Haryana has dipped by 18.9 per cent, reveals the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2020-2021.

There were 12,877 Muslims enrolled in higher education in 2019-20, which fell to 10,445 in 2020-21. Among all social groups, only Muslims have registered a fall.

The figure of enrolment of Muslims for 2020-21 at 10,445 is just 1 per cent of the total enrolments of 10.29 lakh in higher education courses in the state. The community has a share of 7.03 per cent in the state as per the Census 2011. The fresh census has so far not been conducted.

This is the second time in the period of five years, from 2016-17 to 2020-21, when Muslim enrolment in higher education has fallen in the state. The last time, it was in 2017-18 when just 7,607 Muslims were reported to have been enrolled against 8,447 in 2016-17.

Among teachers in higher education institutions too, the representation of Muslims is negligible. Out of the 39,256 teachers, there are just 2,644 SCs (6.7 per cent), 46 STs (0.1 per cent), 4,634 OBCs (11.8 per cent) and 709 Muslims (1.8 per cent).

There are 56 varsities and 1,083 colleges in the state. If Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education for 2020-21 is 31.1 in Haryana, it is 22 in the case of the SCs. The GER in higher education is calculated as total enrolment in higher education, regardless of age, expressed as a percentage to the eligible official population in 18-23 years.

For the third consecutive year, there are more women in higher education in Haryana when it comes to pursuing courses in regular mode.

There are 4.47 lakh women in higher education courses in regular mode against 4.11 lakh males. In the UG courses, there are 3.50 lakh females against 3.06 males, while in the PG courses, there are 89,560 women, but only 57,938 males.


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Pakistan mosque blast that killed 100 was 'revenge against police'

Jan 31, 2023

PESHAWAR: A suicide blast at a mosque inside a Pakistan police headquarters was a targeted revenge attack, a police chief said Tuesday, as rescue efforts ended with the death toll standing at 100.

Between 300 and 400 policemen had gathered for afternoon prayers at the compound's mosque on Monday in the provincial capital Peshawar when an entire wall and most of the roof were blown out, showering rubble on officers.

"We are on the frontline taking action against militants and that is why we were targeted," city police chief Muhammad Ijaz Khan told AFP.

"The purpose was to demoralise us as a force."

On Tuesday evening rescuers finally ended a marathon operation which saw them pry survivors and corpses out of the wreck of the mosque, rushing those who could be saved to hospitals.

Low-level militancy, often targeting security checkpoints, has been steadily rising in the areas near Peshawar that border Afghanistan since the Taliban seized control of Kabul in August 2021.

The assaults are claimed mostly by the Pakistani Taliban, as well as the local chapter of the Islamic State, but mass casualty attacks remain rare.

The head of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province police force, Moazzam Jah Ansari, told reporters that a suicide bomber had entered the mosque as a guest, carrying 10-12 kilogrammes (about 22-26 pounds) of "explosive material in bits and pieces".

He added that a militant group that was on-and-off affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban could be behind the attack.

Authorities are investigating how a major security breach could happen in one of the most tightly controlled areas of the city, housing intelligence and counter-terrorism bureaus, and next door to the regional secretariat.

The nation is already being hobbled by a massive economic downturn and political chaos, ahead of elections due by October.

Interior minister Rana Sanaullah told Pakistan's national assembly the dead included 97 police officers and three civilians, with 27 patients still in critical condition.

"I remained trapped under the rubble with a dead body over me for seven hours. I had lost all hope of survival," Wajahat Ali, a 23-year-old police constable whose feet were broken, told AFP from hospital on Tuesday.

Survivor Shahid Ali said the explosion took place seconds after the imam started prayers.

"I saw black smoke rising to the sky. I ran out to save my life," the 47-year-old police officer told AFP.

Dozens of slain police officers have already been buried in several mass prayer ceremonies, with coffins lined up in rows and draped in the Pakistani flag while a guard of honour was performed.

"Terrorists want to create fear by targeting those who perform the duty of defending Pakistan," Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said in a statement.

In a statement, the Pakistani Taliban -- separate from the Afghan Taliban but with a similar Islamist ideology -- denied it was responsible for the latest blast.

Known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, it carried out a years-long wave of horrific violence after emerging in 2007 but recently has attempted to rebrand itself as a less brutal outfit, claiming not to target places of worship.

But a security official in Peshawar, who asked not to be named, said Tuesday that authorities were considering all possibilities including the involvement of a TTP splinter faction, the Islamic State or a coordinated attack by several groups.

"Often in the past militant groups, including the TTP, that carry out attacks in mosques do not claim them" because a mosque is considered a sacred place, the official told AFP.

Pakistan was once plagued by almost daily bombings, but a major military clearance operation which started in 2014 largely restored order.

Analysts say militants in the former tribal areas adjacent to Peshawar and bordering Afghanistan have become emboldened since the return of the Afghan Taliban, with Islamabad accusing the new rulers of failing to secure their mountainous frontier.

"Terrorism has become a national security crisis for Pakistan again -- as it was a decade ago -- and it will worsen unless concerted action is taken to address it," Brookings Institution analyst Madiha Afzal told AFP.

Mass casualty attacks remain relatively rare, with Islamic State claiming the most recent blast on a Shiite mosque in Peshawar last March that killed 64.

Provinces around the country announced they were on high alert after the blast, with checkpoints ramped up and extra security forces deployed, while in the capital Islamabad snipers were posted on buildings and at city entrance points.

The drastic security breach came on the day United Arab Emirates President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan had been due to visit Islamabad, although the trip was cancelled at the last minute due to bad weather.

Pakistan is also hosting an International Monetary Fund delegation from Tuesday as it works towards unlocking a vital bailout loan to prevent a looming default.

Source: Times Of India

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TTP attacks Mianwali police station, a day after hitting Peshawar mosque

FEBRUARY 1, 2023

The outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan attacked a police station in Mianwali, a city in Punjab near KP, a day after killing about 100 people in a horrifying Peshawar attack.

A group of roughly two dozen heavily armed militants attempted to storm Makerwal police using high-tech weapons, but Punjab police claimed to have stopped the attack at a police station in the Isakkhel district of Mianwali.

After a sustained exchange of gunfire in which a few terrorists were also hurt, reports in the local media citing police officials claimed that TTP attackers were able to flee.

Punjab police, in a social media post, claimed to repulse the attack. Punjab’s new IGP told a local publication that police parties including Counter Terrorism Department and Elite Force reached Mianwali for a ‘grand operation’

Luckily, no police personnel suffered injuries during the latest attack, the Punjab IGP confirmed.

Meanwhile, law enforcers launched a grand operation in Mianwali and adjoining areas to trace the terrorists’ hideouts.

The recent attack on police officials comes on the heels of the deadly Peshawar bombing that killed at least 100 people while scores were wounded.

Source: DailyTimes

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OIC condemns Holy Qur’an’s desecration; calls for joint action to stop recurrence

February 01, 2023

ISLAMABAD         -     The Organization of Islamic Cooperation convened an open-ended Extraordinary Meeting of the OIC Executive Committee on Tuesday to express the organization’s common stance against the recent desecration of the Holy Qur’an in Sweden, the Netherlands, and Denmark. Held at the OIC headquarters in Jeddah, the meeting also discussed the possible actions that the OIC could take against the perpetrators of the despicable Islamophobic attacks.

During the meeting, the OIC Secretary-General HisseinBrahim Taha reiterated his dismay at the provocative acts done by far-right activists, emphasizing that such actions were criminal acts perpetrated with the main intention to target Muslims, to insult their sacred religion, values, and symbols. He said that the relevant governments must take severe counter-measures, especially because such provocations have been committed repeatedly by far-right extremists in their countries.

Source:Nation Pakistan

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Pakistan, IMF resume talks to revive stalled bailout

Feb 1, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan resumed crucial talks with IMF in Islamabad Tuesday on the cash-starved country’s economic and fiscal policies as well as much-needed reforms that the global moneylender has been seeking to disburse the next tranche of its bailout package.

Pakistan is requesting a crucial instalment of $1.2 billion from IMF—part of its $7 billion bailout—to avoid default. Talks with IMF on reviving the package had stalled in the past months.

Finance minister Ishaq Dar briefed the fund’s delegation, led by its chief Nathan Porter, about the government’s fiscal and economic reforms in several sectors, including energy, and measures to bridge the fiscal gap and stabilise the exchange rate.

The finance minister, an official handout stated, assured IMF officials that Pakistan would complete the ongoing programme. “Ishaq Dar extended all his support to the mission and committed to working together to reach an agreement to complete the ninth review under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF),” the statement read.

Pakistan had entered a $6bn IMF programme in 2019, which was later expanded to $7bn, and the ninth review is pending. Talks were originally scheduled to be held in October, but kept facing delays due to Islamabad’s reluctance to implement the lender’s conditions.

The country’s foreign exchange reserves currently stand at $3.7bn, which is barely enough to cover less than three weeks of imports. In such a situation, Pakistan needs to urgently complete the ninth review, which would not only disburse $1.2bn but also pave the way for cash inflows from other multilateral lenders and friendly countries, like China, Saudi Arabia and UAE.

Last week, the government removed an unofficial cap on the US$-Pakistani rupee exchange rate and raised petrol prices—both conditions set by IMF for talks.

Source: Times Of India

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Peshawar, Pakistan's 'city of flowers', long marred by militant violence

Jan 31, 2023

Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar, where a suicide bomber attacked a crowded mosque during Monday prayers, has been marred by militant violence for decades.

Here are some facts about the city, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan's smallest province by land area and the third most populous province after Punjab and Sindh.

Peshawar, home to about two million people, is located in northwest Pakistan, just 55 km (miles) east of the Pakistan-Afghan border crossing of Torkham along the Khyber Pass. Throughout its history, the city has played a major role in linking central Asia, India and beyond.

Peshawar has a rich history dating back to Mughal times, and was once renowned as a liberal, cultural centre that was home to a large Sikh community. The city is famous for its bazaars and churches and is known as the "city of flowers" because of the many gardens built during the Mughal era.

Peshawar sits on the edge of the Pashtun tribal lands, a region mired in violence since the launch of the U.S.-led war on al Qaeda after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

One of the worst attacks in the city was twin suicide bombings in 2013 at the All Saints Church that killed scores of worshippers, the deadliest on Pakistan's Christian minority.

The most active militant group in the area is the Pakistani Taliban, also called Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella group for Sunni and sectarian Islamist factions opposed to the government in Islamabad.

Source: Times Of India

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TTP attack on Mianwali police station ‘repulsed’

Asif Chaudhry

February 1, 2023

LAHORE: A day after a deadly suicide bombing in Peshawar claimed over 100 lives, a police station in Mianwali came under a gun attack by a group of heavily armed militants be­longing to banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakis­tan (TTP) on Tuesday night.

However, police clai­med late at night the attack had been repulsed. The attack is significant in that terrorists — who had so far targeted police stations and check posts in Khyber Pakhtun­khwa and areas bordering Afghanistan — have set their sights on a police station in Punjab for the first time since the resurgence of terrorism in the country.

Punjab Inspector Gen­eral of Police Dr Usman Anwar confirmed to Dawn in the early hours of Wed­n­e­sday that armed attackers belonging to the ban­ned militant organisation, TTP, claimed the attack on the police station.

He said police teams from three regions — Mianwali, Dera Ghazi Khan and Sargodha — besides Lahore police and Punjab CTD had reached Mianwali for a ‘grand operation’ against the TTP.

According to social media reports, the attack started at around 9pm as militants unleashed heavy fire at Makkarwal police station using automatic weapons. This resulted in a heavy exchange of fire as police retaliated leading to a gun battle that lasted two hours.

‘Attack repulsed’

However, there were no reports of any injuries to police personnel during the attack, the Punjab IG confirmed, as a senior Mianwali police official said personnel posted at the police station reacted swiftly, averting the attack.

Makarwal in the Isakhel tehsil, is a mostly hilly area known for coal mines, the official added.

The senior official said smugglers bringing contraband, arms and narcotics on foot from Darra Adam Khel in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa frequently use the area and the terrain also allows militants and terrorists to operate freely.

The Punjab IG said that highly-trained personnel of the police’s Counter Terrorism Department and Elite Force also joined the operation. He said a high alert has been issued in the entire Mianwali region in the wake of the attack.

He said a search operation has been launched after police teams chased the attackers who apparently disappeared taking advantage of the complex and inaccessible terrain.

“We are also discussing the options to launch a massive search [operation] in Mianwali district to trace the terrorists’ hideouts,” Dr Anwar said.

He said a committee of senior police officers, including Additional IG (training) Zulfiqar Hameed, Additional IG Special Branch Punjab Sultan Chaudhry, Operations DIG Waqas Nazeer and Information Technology DIG Ahsan Younis.

Dr Anwar said the team would remain in contact with Mianwali RPO Shariq Kamal to prepare a new strategy to launch the search operation in hilly areas of the district. The IG said that a grand search operation and crackdown would be launched soon.

Source: Dawn

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National Assembly rues plan to resettle militants

Iftikhar A. Khan | Amir Wasim

February 1, 2023

ISLAMABAD: A day after 100 people perished in Peshawar, lawmakers at the federal legislature regretted the decision to enter into dialogue with militants and resettle them in the country during the previous PTI regime, calling it a “faulty” move which was “never endorsed” by parliament.

In their policy statements, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah referred to in-camera briefings given to parliamentarians by the military leadership during the tenure of the PTI government, following the fall of Kabul.

The defence minister said: “A message was given that talks could be held with them [the militants].” He clai­med that the briefings had remained “inconclusive” and they were only informed about the decisions that were already taken and parliament never endorsed them.

“How could one expect that those who had never seen peace in their life would live peacefully,” said Mr Asif as the house formally began a debate on the suicide attack.

“Decisions made some two years ago had not been endorsed by this house. We were only told in the briefings that this decision had [already] been made. Now, who will be held accountable for the bloodshed?” he asked.

“We are all members of parliament. Are we sovereign? We are a mortgaged nation. The decisions are not in the hands of the nation,” he said, stressing: “We must put our house in order. There is a need for introspection. Why these people were brought here [to Pakistan]?” he asked.

The minister also criticised the decision to become part of the Afghan Jihad in the 1980s, and later, the US-led ‘War on Terror’ post 9/11.

He said: “We ourselves sowed the seeds of terrorism when the Russian troops entered Afghanistan and we provided our services to the US on rent.”

“We were very fond of launching a jihad,” quipped Mr Asif.

He regretted that Pakistan had always acted as a “stooge” for the world powers, but today the country was standing alone in the fight against terrorism.

‘8,000 militants’

MrSanaullah said the previous regime told them that there were some 8,000 militants and that they should be given an opportunity to surrender before the law as some 25,000 family members, including the children, were also associated with them.

The decision might have been made in good faith but this policy proved wrong, he said while referring to the recent surge in terror attacks. The minister claimed the PTI government released thousands of the militants from jails, including those who had been sentenced to death.

“There is a need that for the prime minister and the military leadership should take this house into confidence. There should be a debate in parliament,” he said, while asking the lawmakers to suggest a way forward.

He said the military leadership should place facts and figures before the house and added that the prime minister and the army chief would “certainly” come to the house and brief this house which would provide them a “way forward”.

The National Assembly, which met after a two-week recess, also witnessed an emotional speech by MNA from Peshawar, Noor Alam Khan, who protested the absence of the premier and the non-serious attitude of some of Punjab’s MNAs.

“Unless there is bloodshed in Lahore or Punjab, these people will not get serious,” said Mr Khan, pointing towards some backbenchers who were busy chit-chatting.

“I feel that I am a second-rate citizen of Pakistan,” said Mr Khan while referring to an incident where the security personnel did not allow him to enter the Red Zone area in Peshawar without proving his identity.

“Afghans are roaming everywhere and Pakistanis are facing difficulties and are asked to show their identity cards,” he claimed.

The interior minister, however, responded to Mr Khan’s speech and said terrorism was a collective issue, which could be rooted out through forging unity and joint efforts. He claimed that in 99 per cent of incidents, the terrorists didn’t belong to Punjab.

‘Revisit counter-terrorism policy’

Meanwhile, the bombing resonated in Senate as well where lawmakers urged the need to revisit the counter-terrorism and Afghan policies. PPP leader Raza Rabbani demanded a new consensus as he called out the former government for its plan to rehabilitate the banned TTP.

The senator regretted that “good Taliban” had been allowed to cross into Pakistan along with arms.

He said parliament and the nation were not taken into confidence over dialogue with the Tehreek-i-Taliban and the subsequent ceasefire. He agreed with his colleagues in NA that parliament had never endorsed talks with the TTP and also raised questions over “outsourcing” the dialogue to a jirga.

About the reports of a joint session of parliament on Feb 8, he demanded that the session be devoted to the counterterrorism policy and added a meeting of the Senate’s Committee of the Whole should be held for threadbare discussion on the security situation.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed and Senator Tahir Bizenjo also sought revision of policies pertaining to terrorism and Afghanistan.

PTI Senator Saifullah Abro chided the ruling coalition for accusing former premier Imran Khan of re-launching TTP and said there should be no point-scoring on the issue of terrorism. In the same breath, however, he sought an inquiry into the prior knowledge of the KP governor about the law and order situation in the province.

In response to MrAbro, PML-N’s Irfan Siddiqui recalled that the TTP had named PTI chief Imran Khan as a member of its negotiating team when a decision to pursue peace talks with the militant group had been taken in February 2014. Senator Rana Maqbool called for a diplomatic offensive with reference to Afghanistan.

In a tweet, PM Shehbaz Sharif said that the militants wanted to “reverse” gains against terrorism. He urged political unity amid the terror wave.

A source in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said the federal cabinet was meeting today (Wednesday) in which the issue of rising militancy will be discussed in detail.

Source: Dawn

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ISI officers’ killer ‘gunned down’ near Afghan border

Imran Gabol

February 1, 2023

LAHORE: The ‘milit­a­­nt’ allegedly involved in the assassination of two intelligence officers in Khane­wal three weeks ago was gunned down near the Afghan border, security officials have claimed.

Punjab Counter-Terro­rism Department (CTD) on Tuesday recei­ved the body of suspected Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakis­tan (TTP) member Umar Khan for conducting a post-mortem, which was later handed over to his family after completing legal formalities.

A senior official on condition of anonymity told Dawn that the suspect was killed in crossfire with the security agencies when he was trying to escape to Afghanistan near Kurram Agency on Monday night.

The suspect had gun­ned down Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Multan region director Naveed Sadiq and inspector Nasir Abbas at a roadside hotel on the National Highway near Pirowal in Khanewal district on Jan 3, and fled from the scene.

Two gro­ups, including the banned TTP and the so-called Lashkar-i-Khora­san, had claimed responsibility for the attack.

The CTD Multan police station had registered a case under murder and terrorism charges on the complaint of the officers’ driver and started an investigation.

The senior official said security agencies had been chasing the suspect after the killing and he was traced while trying to escape to Afghanistan.

On being asked to stop in the Kurram Agency area, he opened fire on the security team that was retaliated.

The suspect suffered injuries and was taken into custody and shifted to a nearby hospital where he died of the wounds.

ISI director Sadiq was heading the CTD wing and was awarded the Sitara-i-Shujaat on March 23, 2021 in recognition of his services. He had joined the police force as a sub-inspector in 2002. After appearing for a high-level exam in 2009, he was appointed to the ISI as assistant director.

During his tenure, the official is said to have exposed key networks of banned outfits. After months of efforts, he reportedly gained access to the high command of the militant Islamic State group and had also neutralised militants after raiding their hideouts in Faisalabad.

Similarly, Mr Sadiq also fought suicide bombers in Gujranwala, and tracked down the network involved in the abduction of Ali Haider Gilani, a son of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.

Source: Dawn

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Military to pursue terrorists via ‘intelligence-based operations’

Baqir Sajjad Syed

February 1, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The army’s strategy for combating resurgent terrorism in the country would increasingly rely on intelligence-based operations (IBOs), it emerged from the proceedings of Corps Comma­nders’ Conference on Tuesday.

Chief of Army Staff Gen Asim Munir, who presided over the meeting of top commanders at the General Headquarters, vowed “zero tolerance” for all terrorist groups, echoing the resolve of the National Security Committee (NSC) that had met on the same issue earlier this month.

The meeting’s agenda was dominated by deliberations on dealing with the growing terrorist threat as manifested by recent terrorism incidents, especially the suicide bombing at a mosque in Peshawar, which claimed the lives of around 100 people, many of whom were policemen.

Fighting terrorism has been the army’s top priority since the new army chief assumed command at the end of November last year when the number of terrorism incidents was growing. Much of the violence was perpetrated by Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and the Baloch insurgent groups.

Gen Munir, while speaking at the conference, “directed all comma­nders to continue focus on anti-terrorism operations in coordination with intelligence and law enforcement agencies with renewed resolve till the time we achieve sustainable peace”, according to Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR).

The participants of the meeting, ISPR said, were briefed about the ongoing intelligence-based operations to break the nexus between terrorists and their support mechanism in the country. While discussing the Peshawar mosque bombing, the officers promised exemplary punishment for the perpetrators of the attack.

The COAS, meanwhile, was quoted as having said “immoral and cowardly acts” of the terrorists would strengthen the nation’s determination to succeed in the war against terrorism. He emphasised “zero tolerance” for any terrorist entity.

The NSC and Army itself had earlier also decided to undertake a number of measures to deal with the terrorist threat.

Source: Dawn

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NCHR calls into question religious affairs ministry’s ‘gender-based bias’ against female PAS officer

February 1, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The National Commission of Human Rights (NCHR) on Tuesday expressed “serious concerns” about the rejection of a female candidate for the Haj director general’s (DG) position, allegedly on the basis of her gender.

In December, Saima Sabah, a BS-20 officer of Pakistan Audit and Accounts Service, contended in a petition to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that she had secured first position in a written test for the position by obtaining 71 marks out of 100 but was dropped due to gender discrimination.

She had requested the court to direct the religious affairs ministry to declare her the successful candidate and issue her notification for the appointment of the DG Haj accordingly.

The petition alleged that “the minister in charge of MORA and IH (Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony) passed strange remarks against the gender of the petitioner” during the interview proceedings.

Along with her petition, she had also submitted a transcript of the alleged interview.

However, a single member IHC bench had dismissed her petition, after which Sabah had filed an intra-court appeal. The high court reserved its decision in the case on Thursday.

Addressing the matter, the NCHR said the eligibility criteria for the position of Haj director general did not exclude women while noting that Sabah was the highest-scoring candidate for the job with 71 marks.

It said that there existed a precedent of a woman serving as Saudia Arabia’s DG Haj for 19 months so “why should Pakistan impose restrictions on the best qualified candidate Saima Sabah just because she is a woman?”

In a follow-up tweet, the commission said that while Saudia Arabia was encouraging women to manage Haj pilgrims, Pakistan’s religious affairs ministry was “rejecting qualified candidates on basis of gender”.

An audio clip of the interview, purportedly featuring Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Mufti Abdul Shakoor and Sabah, has been doing the rounds on social media.

In the leaked audio, a man believed to be Shakoor, in a conversation with a woman believed to be Sabah, can be heard saying: “Haj is a religious mission and people from across the world attend it.”

“Our Haj is completely dependent on the DG Haj and people look up to him,” he says. “So if the appearance and personality of that person are not according to the Sunnah, what message will go about Pakistan’s mission.”

At this, the woman can be heard confirming that she was indeed a Muslim and that her father was also a man of faith.

“No, I am talking about you … covering your head with a scarf is compulsory in our religion,” the male says.

To this, the woman said that she agreed with him but would take a dupatta when she finds it necessary.

Subsequently, the man asks the woman about the significance of hijab and her choice of not wearing one. “What impression would it give to countries around the world?” he asks.

Later, in a statement through his Twitter account, Shakoor doubted the veracity of the audio and said that he could not even “imagine [committing] gender discrimination” while occupying a constitutional office.

“Casual chitchat after the interview was spliced, edited and presented in the alleged audio,” he said, adding that he respected the female officer despite her “baseless allegations”.

Shakoor said that he would accept whatever the court decides, and requested the IHC to rule on the matter soon.

Source: Pakistan Today

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China denounces Peshawar terrorist attack, expresses firm support to Pakistan’s fight against terrorism

January 31, 2023

ISLAMABAD: China is deeply shocked by and strongly condemns a deadly attack at a mosque in Pakistan’s northwest Peshawar city, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning said Tuesday.

“We express our deep condolences for the loss of life in the attack and extend sympathies to the injured and the bereaved families,” Mao told a press briefing in Chinese capital Beijing.

She said China firmly opposes terrorism in any form and firmly supports Pakistan’s efforts in fighting terrorism, defending national stability, and protecting people’s lives.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan separately issued a statement to denounce the terrorist attack.

“Embassy of China strongly condemns the terrorist attack at the mosque in Peshawar. We feel deeply grieved and pay our deepest condolences to the families of victims and injured of the tragedy,” the statement added.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Peshawar Mosque attack: COAS Gen Asim directs all commanders to continue focus on anti-terror operations

January 31, 2023

RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Syed Asim Munir Tuesday directed all army commanders to continue focus on anti-terrorism operations in coordination with intelligence and law enforcement agencies (LEAs) with renewed resolve till the time we achieve sustainable peace.

Addressing the participants of the 255th Corps Commanders’ Conference held here at the GHQ, General Syed Asim Munir said that immoral and cowardly acts like Peshawar Mosque attack cannot shake resolve of the nation rather reinvigorate its determination to succeed in ongoing war against terror with Zero tolerance for any terrorist entity.

Top military brass was briefed in detail about prevailing and emerging threats, situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and ongoing intelligence-based operations being undertaken by Army and LEAs for breaking the nexus between terrorists and their support mechanism across the country.

The forum paid rich tributes to the Martyrs of Peshawar police line blast and vowed that perpetrators will be brought to exemplary justice.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Arab World


Michigan Man Convicted Of Joining ISIS, Training In Terrorist Tactics

A federal court convicted a Dearborn, Michigan, man of joining the Islamic State (ISIS) and training in terrorist tactics from 2015 to 2018, the Department of Justice said in a press release.

IbraheemMusaibli traveled to Syria in 2015 and enrolled in an “ISIS-run religious training camp” before moving on to a military training facility, where he learned how to operate a machine gun, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a statement. He then swore allegiance to ISIS and served as a member of the terrorist organization for the next two and a half years, a rare instance of a U.S.-born individual leaving America to support the notorious terrorist organization, according to The Detroit News.

“IbraheemMusaibli traveled halfway around the world and joined a vicious, brutal, and violent terrorist organization known — and proud of — its barbaric acts of terror,” U.S. Attorney Dawn N. Ison for the Eastern District of Michigan said in the statement. “Today’s verdicts highlights the dedication of this office, along with our law enforcement partners, in pursuing anyone who poses a danger to the United States—no matter where they are located.”

In 2018, members of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the main group fighting alongside U.S. troops to counter ISIS in Syria, captured Musaibli and handed him over to the FBI, according to the statement. (RELATED: US Captures Two ISIS Militants In Syria)

Evidence brought forward by the prosecutor includes videos of Musaibli discussing his jihadist activities and text and WhatsApp messages to relatives back home, The Detroit News reported.

Defense lawyers argued that curiosity about a country that adhered to strict Muslim law drew Musaibli overseas, first to Yemen and then to Syria, according to The Detroit News. He was identified as a spy and thrown into an ISIS jail, the defense argued.

“The vast majority of people arrested for ISIS-related crimes never got outside of the U.S. and joined ISIS,” Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, told The Detroit News.


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Eight rockets target Turkish military base in Iraq: Kurdish anti-terror group

01 February ,2023

Eight rockets targeted a Turkish military base in northern Iraq on Wednesday, two of which landed inside the base, said the Counter-Terrorism Group, a security body in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran blames foreign security service, Iraqi Kurdish groups for weekend drone strike

01 February ,2023

Iran blamed a foreign security service and Kurdish groups in Iraq for a drone attack on an ammunition depot near the central city of Isfahan over the weekend, state-run Nour News reported.

The equipment and explosives were brought into the country with the help of “Kurdish anti-revolutionary groups in Iraqi Kurdistan under orders by the foreign security service,” according to the report. It didn’t identity the country which the security service belonged to.

Three unmanned “suicide drones targeted the Defense Ministry complex on Saturday, with one hitting the ceiling,” Iran said at the time.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Regional power plan for Lebanon held up over Syria sanctions: French official

31 January ,2023

Egypt is still seeking assurances that US sanctions will be waived in order to start exporting gas to Lebanon through Syria under a plan first announced in 2021 to help ease Lebanon’s power crisis, a senior French official said on Tuesday.

The plan also has yet to go to the World Bank board, which will assess reforms of Lebanon’s electricity sector that are preconditions for it to release a $300 million loan to finance the gas exports over 18 months, said Pierre Duquesne, France’s envoy on international support to Lebanon.

Duquesne was visiting Cairo before travelling to Jordan and Lebanon this week and to the United States later in February “to try to help as much as we can to go beyond the various statements of principle,” he told reporters in Cairo.

France has been spearheading international efforts to rescue Lebanon from its deepest crisis since its 1975-1990 civil war.

Alongside Egyptian gas for power generation, the plan includes the export of electricity from Jordan to Lebanon via Syria and could add up to 700 megawatts to Lebanon’s grid.

Public provision of electricity in Lebanon is crippled, but since the plan was signed last June there has been little sign of progress.

Lebanese state power stations have gone almost entirely offline, while fuel subsidy cuts have caused the costs for private generators to skyrocket.

Duquesne said technical pipeline obstacles to exporting the Egyptian gas had been resolved and there were no hold-ups over the pricing or quantity of gas, but concerns over exposure to US sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government had not been settled.

“My Egyptian counterparts today told me, ‘we want something precise’,” he said. “There is a problem of exemption ... and that concern should be dealt with not only on a political basis but on a legal basis.”

Reforms to Lebanon’s electricity sector demanded under the plan include accounting for losses caused by power grid leaks or theft and restructuring the national regulator.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Turkey’s push into Iraq risks deeper conflict

31 January ,2023

Looming over the deserted village of Sararo in northern Iraq, three Turkish military outposts break the skyline, part of an incursion that forced the residents to flee last year after days of shelling.

The outposts are just some of the dozens of new military bases Turkey has established on Iraqi soil in the past two years as it steps up its decades-long offensive against Kurdish militants sheltered in the remote and rugged region.

“When Turkey first came to the area, they set up small portable tents, but in the spring, they set up outposts with bricks and cement,” Sararo’s mayor Abdulrahman Hussein Rashid said in December during a visit to the village, where shell casings and shrapnel still litter the ground.

“They have drones and cameras operating 24/7. They know everything that’s going on,” he told Reuters, as drones buzzed overhead in the mountainous terrain 5 km from the frontier.

Turkey’s advances across the increasingly depopulated border of Iraqi Kurdistan attract little global attention compared to its incursions into Syria or the battle against ISIS, but the escalation risks further destabilizing a region where foreign powers have intervened with impunity, analysts say.

Turkey could become further embroiled if its new Iraqi bases come under sustained attack, while its growing presence may also embolden Iran to expand military action in Iraq against groups it accuses of fomenting unrest at home, Kurdish officials say.

Former secretary general for Kurdistan’s Peshmerga forces, Jabar Manda, said Turkey had 29 outposts in Iraq until 2019 but the number has mushroomed as Ankara tries to stop the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) launching attacks on its own territory.

“Year after year the outposts have been increasing after the escalation of battles between Turkish forces and the PKK,” he said, estimating the current number at 87, mostly in a strip of border territory about 150 km long (95 miles) and 30 km deep.

“In those outposts there are tanks and armored vehicles,” said Manda, who is now a security analyst in Sulaimaniya. “Helicopters supply the outposts daily.”

Empty villages

A Kurdish official, who declined to be named, also said Turkey now had about 80 outposts in Iraq. Another Kurdish official said at least 50 had been built in the last two years and that Turkey’s presence was becoming more permanent.

Asked to comment on its bases in Iraq, Turkey’s defense ministry said its operations there were in line with article 51 of the UN Charter, which gives member states the right to self-defense in the event of attacks.

“Our fight against terrorism in northern Iraq is carried out in coordination and close cooperation with the Iraqi authorities,” the ministry said in a statement, which did not address questions about the figures cited by Kurdish officials.

Turkey’s presence in northern Iraq, which has long been outside the direct control of the Baghdad government, dates back to the 1990s when former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein let Turkish forces advance 5 km into the country to fight the PKK.

Since then, Turkey has built a significant presence, including one base at Bashiqa 80 km inside Iraq, where it says Turkish troops were part of an international mission to train and equip Iraqi forces to fight ISIS.

Turkey said it worked to avoid civilian casualties through its coordination with Iraqi authorities.

A report published in August by a coalition of NGOs, End Cross-Border Bombing, said at least 98 civilians were killed between 2015 and 2021. The International Crisis Group, which gave a similar civilian death toll, said 1,180 PKK militants were killed between 2015 and 2023.

According to an official with Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the conflict has also emptied at least 800 villages since 2015, when a ceasefire between Turkey and the PKK broke down, driving thousands of people from their homes.

New targets

Beyond the humanitarian impact, Turkey’s incursion risks widening the conflict by giving carte blanche to regional rival Iran to step up intelligence operations inside Iraq and take its own military action, Kurdish officials say.

Tehran has already fired missiles at bases of Kurdish groups it accuses of involvement in protests against its restrictions on women, displacing hundreds of Iranian Kurds and killing some.

Iran did not respond to requests for comment.

Pro-Iranian militias in Iraq also have a pretext to respond to Turkey’s presence, analysts say, raising the prospect of escalation between Turkish troops and groups besides the PKK.

Hamdi Malik, a specialist on Iraqi Shia militias at the Washington Institute, said pro-Iranian groups such as Liwa Ahrar al-Iraq (Free People of Iraq Brigade) and Ahrar Sinjar (Free People of Sinjar) rebranded themselves last year as the resistance against the Turkish presence.

According to a Washington Institute report, attacks on Turkish military facilities in Iraq increased from an average of 1.5 strikes per month at the start of 2022 to seven in April.

If the groups, which are deeply hostile to Washington, step up operations that would also undermine the influence of the United States and its 2,000 troops in Iraq, said Mustafa Gurbuz, a non-resident fellow at the Arab Center Washington.

“Turkey is underestimating the strength of opposition and the fact that these facilities will become targets in the future and more so as hostilities increase,” said Sajad Jiyad, Baghdad-based analyst for The Century Foundation, a US think-tank.

‘They have both wronged us’

Northern Iraq’s fragmented politics mean that neither the federal government in Baghdad nor the KRG regional authority are strong enough to challenge Turkey’s presence - or to meet Ankara’s goal of containing the PKK themselves.

The Baghdad government has complained about Ankara’s incursions but has little authority in the mainly Kurdish north, while the region’s ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) does not have the firepower to challenge the PKK, despite seeing it as a potent and populist rival.

The KDP has historically cooperated with Turkey but has limited influence over a neighbor which wields far greater military and economic clout.

“We ask all foreign military groups - including the PKK - to not drag the Kurdistan Region into any kind of conflicts or tensions,” KRG spokesman Jotiar Adil said.

“The PKK are the main reason that pushed Turkey to enter our territories in the Kurdistan Region. Therefore, we think the PKK should leave,” he said. “We are not a side in this long-standing conflict and we have no plans to be on any side.”

Iraqi Kurdish Prime Minister Masrour Barzani told Reuters the conflict between Turkey and the PKK was a matter of concern, but less pressing than the threat from ISIS.

Hariam Mahmoud, a leading figure in the Kurdistan Liberation Movement, a civilian opposition group in Iraq influenced by the ideas of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, said no matter how much Turkey squeezes them they will continue to resist.

“In our opinion, this is an occupation and fighting resistance is a legitimate right,” said Mahmoud, who lives in Garmiyan district south of Sulaimaniya.

Civilians, meanwhile, continue to pay the price.

Ramzan Ali, 72, was irrigating his field in Hirure a few km from Sararo in 2021, when he heard a huge blast. The next thing he remembers is being on the ground covered in blood.

He said a Turkish shell had crashed into his property - a regular occurrence when Turkish troops respond to PKK attacks with artillery.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Shooting spree in Egypt leaves one dead, suspect arrested

31 January ,2023

Egyptian security forces have arrested a man who went on a random shooting spree, killing one person in the al-Qalyubia Governorate, north of Cairo, the interior ministry said.

The shooting, which took place in the al-Zarayeb region, left two others wounded, the ministry said in a statement on Facebook on Sunday, adding that the incident was a result of a financial dispute.

“The situation was brought under control and residents were prevented from assaulting him,” the ministry said, noting that the man was suspected of using drugs.

Legal measures have been taken against him, it added.

Al-Masry al-Youm reported on Monday that calm was prevailing in the area and that security forces remain on the scene until the Public Prosecution ends its investigations.

It reported that some witnesses said the suspect had financial disputes with some people in the area and wanted to settle things with them and hence prompting him to fire randomly.

Others told Al-Masry al-Youm that the suspect was fleeing an ambush and had entered the area, pushing citizens to try to catch him before he started shooting.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Have the fees of the Pakistani passport increased in the UAE? Officials respond

31 January ,2023

Reports recently spread across social media platforms claiming that Pakistani passport issuance and renewal fees have been increased for Pakistani citizens in the UAE.

However, Pakistan’s Directorate General of Immigration and Passports (DGIP), denied such reports.

It said: “Some fake news about the increase in Machine Readable Passport Fees is circulating on social media. It is clarified that there is no increased in the existing passport fee structure.”

The DGIP added: “The department has recently fixed and announced the fee for the newly introduced e-Passport. It will be applicable only for the ordinary e-passport when its issuance will be launched throughout the country, while the fee for the Machine Readable Passport (MRP) will remain the same as previously.”

On Sunday, Pakistan’s Ministry of Interior launched e-passports and issued a breakdown of its fees which varies depending on its category and period, as well as whether the application is normal or urgent.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi Cabinet calls for revival of Israel-Palestinian peace talks

February 01, 2023

RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet on Tuesday reiterated the need to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and called on the international community to live up to its responsibilities in relation to this and to help end the occupation, stop Israeli attacks, and ensure civilians are protected.

It came during the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers at Irqah Palace in Riyadh, presided over by King Salman, during which members discussed the latest regional and international developments, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

At the start of the session, the Cabinet was briefed on a message sent to the king by the Algerian president, AbdelmadjidTebboune, and a telephone call Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received from the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

Ministers then discussed the preparations for the Kingdom’s participation at this year’s G20 meetings, in light of its desire to develop initiatives and solutions that can help address the challenges facing the global economy.

These include a joint framework initiative for debt treatment, and Saudi Arabia’s role in the implementation of the Financial Intermediary Fund for Health Security, including financial support of $50 million, to help prevent pandemics.

They also include the Kingdom’s work in cooperation with the Indonesian presidency of the G20 last year to develop a response to the global food-security crisis, and the implementation of those initiatives in partnership with India, which holds the presidency of the G20 this year.

Acting Minister of Media Majid Al-Qasabi said the Cabinet also reiterated the Kingdom’s condemnation of the burning of copies of the Qur’an in a number of European capitals.

Ministers welcomed the signing of agreements and memorandums of understanding during the Riyadh Global Medical Biotechnology Summit last week, he added, as well as discussions during the event that focused on developments in the sector, investment opportunities, and ways to consolidate and enhance the Kingdom’s leading position in this field, in line with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 to diversify the national economy through research and the development of scientific knowledge.

The Cabinet also noted the outcomes of the Municipal Investment Forum in Riyadh last week, during which investment portals were launched for Saudi cities, and 125 contracts and agreements worth more than SR12 billion ($3.1 billion) were signed, offering more than 5,000 investment opportunities for the private sector. During the event, about 200 projects for entrepreneurs were reviewed, and the largest investment opportunity of its kind in the outdoor advertising sector was launched.

Ministers approved a cooperation agreement between the Saudi and Uzbekistan ministries of energy, and another one between the Saudi Ministry of Education and Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education.

They authorized the minister of culture to sign a draft memorandum of understanding for cultural cooperation with the Ministry of Crafts, Culture, Hotel Industry and Tourism in Mali, and approved a memorandum of understanding between the Saudi and Senegalese governments for cooperation to encourage direct investment.

The Cabinet also approved a MoU on desalination cooperation between the Saudi Saline Water Conversion Corporation and the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, and authorized the minister of health to sign a draft MoU for cooperation with the Tunisian Ministry of Health.

Source: Arab News

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FIFA president tours ‘Saudi House’ hosting AFC meeting in Bahrain

February 01, 2023

RIYADH: FIFA President Gianni Infantino on Tuesday visited the “Saudi House” in the Bahraini capital, Manama, which is hosting the 33rd Asian Football Confederation Congress that began on Monday and will continue until Wednesday evening, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Infantino toured the “Saudi House” and was briefed on the most pillars of the Kingdom’s hosting of the 19th Asian Cup, under the slogan “Forward for Asia.”

Source: Arab News

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Saudi leaders offer condolences to Pakistan on victims of mosque attack

February 01, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman sent a cable of condolences to Pakistani President ArifAlvi over victims of the terrorist attack at a mosque in Peshawar that killed 100 people, the Saudi Press Agency reported early Wednesday.

“We strongly condemn this criminal act and we send to your excellency, the families of the deceased and the Pakistani people, our deepest and sincere condolences,” the king said, wishing the injured a speedy recovery and affirming the Kingdom’s stand with Pakistan.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also sent a similar cable to President Alvi.

A suicide bomber blew himself up inside a crowded mosque in a highly fortified security compound in Peshawar on Monday, the latest in a string of attacks targeting police.

Police said the attacker appeared to have passed through several barricades manned by security forces to get into the Red Zone compound that houses police and counter-terrorism offices in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

Source: Arab News

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Islamophobia has reached ‘alarming’ levels: OIC


January 31, 2023

JEDDAH: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation convened an open-ended extraordinary meeting of its executive committee at its headquarters in Jeddah on Tuesday.

The meeting was held to express the organization’s common stance against the recent desecration of the Holy Qur’an in Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark as well as to discuss possible actions that the OIC might take against the perpetrators of the Islamophobic attacks.

The incidents occurred earlier this month, when Rasmus Paludan, a far-right activist who holds both Danish and Swedish citizenship, received permission from the police to stage a protest outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm, where on Jan. 21 he burned the Qur’an. Days later, Edwin Wagensveld, Dutch leader of the far-right Pegida movement in the Netherlands, tore pages out of a copy of the Qur’an near the Dutch Parliament and stomped on them.

In response, several regional and international organizations, including the OIC, issued statements strongly denouncing the incident.

During the meeting, Saleh Hamad Al-Suhaibani, Saudi representative to the OIC, said that the Kingdom strongly condemns the desecration of the Qur’an, which urges love, goodness, justice and equality.

The Kingdom rejects all extremism and hatred, he added, and instead calls for the dissemination of Islamic values based on dialogue and coexistence.

“These despicable acts blatantly contradict the human, moral and religious principles and values of all nations who respect peace and coexistence. The repetition of the action raises many questions about the complacency of some governments in curbing the phenomenon of Islamophobia and their failure to take the necessary measures to stop provocations and punish the perpetrators under the pretext of freedom of expression,” he said.

Islamophobia is defined as the fear or hatred of Islam, which often translates into intolerant gestures, deliberate discrimination and outright attacks against Muslims.

OIC Secretary-General HisseinBrahim Taha said that these actions are not simply irresponsible but rather criminal acts targeting Muslims. “The governments concerned must take strict punitive measures, especially given the frequency of such provocative acts by the same people,” he said.

“The outrageous actions…are further evidence of the alarming levels reached by the phenomenon of Islamophobia, hate crimes, intolerance and xenophobia.

“This makes us believe that we must take urgent measures to prevent the recurrence of such provocative incidents in the future.”

Taha said that a strong message must be sent to all governments, institutions and individuals to clarify that these actions are not justifiable under freedom of expression. He highlighted that many international laws, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, clearly stipulate that freedom of expression is not an unlimited right, as it involves special duties and responsibilities.

Mehmet MetinEker, the permanent representative of Turkey to OIC, said that Turkey strongly condemns the recent aggressions against the Holy Qur’an.

“Unfortunately, the failure of the Swedish authorities to take the necessary precautions against the attack on the Holy Qur’an on Jan. 21 has encouraged several attacks in the Netherlands and Denmark afterward. We also expect the Swedish, Dutch and Danish authorities to take the necessary measures against the perpetrators of these hate crimes,” he said.

Hatred against Islam has reached an alarming level in many parts of the world, particularly in Europe, he said, citing statistics related to violent, Islamophobic acts by European activists since 2019.

“We observe with great concern, how far-right politicians use anti-Islam and xenophobic rhetoric...Resorting to such populism paves the way for racist attacks against Muslims,” Eker said, referencing the massacre in New Zealand in 2019, in which 51 Muslims were killed in a terrorist attack on two mosques. 

Eker added: “In this context, an important measure to be taken within the OIC, we think, is to strengthen the Islamophobia observatory in order to more efficiently engage with international partners, as well as better follow-up efforts in Western countries to confront rising Islamophobia.”

Source: Arab News

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MWL, OIC, GCC condemn Peshawar mosque attack

January 31, 2023

RIYADH: The Muslim World League has expressed its strong condemnation and denunciation of the terror attack on a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan, which resulted in more than 100 deaths.

MWL Secretary General Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Isa stressed the organization’s firm rejection of terrorism and the targeting of places of worship.

The MWL offered its condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims and to the government and people of Pakistan, wishing the injured a speedy recovery.

At least 100 people were killed and more than 200 injured on Monday when a Taliban suicide bomb blast ripped through a mosque inside a fortified security compound in Pakistan.

Authorities used heavy machinery to cut into the debris of the mosque’s collapsed building as part of a rescue operation.

The Pakistani Taliban admitted to carrying out the attack.

Bombings have been on the rise since last November when the group called off a ceasefire signed with the government in May.

Monday’s attack was the worst in Peshawar since March 2022 when a Daesh suicide bombing killed at least 58 people in a mosque during Friday prayers.

Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation HisseinBrahim Taha expressed his condemnation of the “heinous act” and offered his deepest condolences to the families of the victims.

Taha renewed the position of the OIC against all forms and manifestations of terrorism, stressing his organization’s support for the government of Pakistan in tackling extremism.

Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf affirmed the council’s solidarity with the government of Pakistan in confronting terrorism and extremism.

Source: Arab News

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Saudi Cabinet reiterates Kingdom’s condemnation of Qur’an desecration

January 31, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet condemned and rejected on Tuesday the repeated burning of copies of the Qur’an in a number of European countries recently.

The Cabinet said it was important that the governments of those countries addressed practices that hurt the feelings of millions of Muslims around the world.

The recent desecration of Islam’s holy book by far-right activists in Sweden and the Netherlands has sparked protests among Muslims around the world.

Earlier this month, Danish anti-Islam activist Rasmus Paludan received permission from police to stage a protest outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm, where on Jan. 21 he burned the Qur’an.

Days later, Edwin Wagensveld, Dutch leader of the far-right Pegida movement in the Netherlands, tore pages out of a copy of the Qur’an near the Dutch Parliament and stomped on them.

Source: Arab News

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US inflicted huge losses on Syrian economy through war, sanctions: Syrian officials

01 February 2023

The United States’ illegal military presence in Syria, accompanied by systematic looting of the nation’s natural resources and economic sanctions, have inflicted huge losses on the Arab country, Syrian officials say.

Walid Darwich, member of the Syrian People’s Assembly, told al-Ahed news on Tuesday that the current tough economic situation in Syria reflects the impact of harsh US sanctions on the Syrian people.

What the US does in Syria, Darwich said, “is not just depriving the Syrian people of gas and oil [through sanctions], but also stealing the riches of their country. The US has been stealing the country’s oil, gas, wheat and artifacts with the help of terrorist groups inside Syria.”

He said the US has also inflicted tremendous losses on Syria due to the destruction of its infrastructure and the funding and support of terrorist groups across the war-torn country.

“The international community and organizations must speak up and do something about the crimes the US is perpetrating against the Syrian people,” Darwich said.

At the end of 2022, the Syrian foreign ministry issued a statement saying the US has been carrying on with its aggressive practices and gross violations of human rights and the provisions of the UN charter through its illegal military presence in parts of Syria and stealing Syria’s national wealth, particularly in the northeast and in the Al-Tanf region.

The ministry also said that the direct losses from attacks carried out by US forces and affiliated terrorist groups amounted to 25.9 billion dollars, including theft of oil, gas, mineral resources, theft of facilities, and damage resulting from airstrikes on oil and gas facilities by the illegal military coalition led by the US.

Akhil Eid, director of the press office in the Syrian Ministry of Oil, also said on Tuesday that the real figure pertaining to the losses inflicted on Syria by the US theft exceeded 110 billion dollars.

The figure includes direct and indirect losses, meaning losses of benefits and losses from destruction of oil facilities, he said.

“The crisis began when the terrorist groups cut off the heavy oil line,” the Syrian official said. “Back then, Syria was producing 385,000 barrels of oil per day, half of which was sufficient for local production and the other half was exported and secured hard currency for the country.”

He explained that “in 2013, the heavy oil line was cut off, the country became dependent on imports, there were unilateral US sanctions and a naval blockade, and oil installations were targeted.”

The United States invaded Syria in 2014 at the head of scores of its allies under the pretext of battling the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group. The US-led coalition has maintained its presence, despite the fact that it was Syria and its allies, including Iran and Russia, who defeated the terrorist outfit in late 2017.

Pentagon claims that the deployment is aimed at preventing the oilfields in the area from falling into the hands of terrorists.

Source: Press TV

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Azerbaijan urges citizens against travel to Iran after deadly embassy attack

31 January ,2023

Azerbaijan on Tuesday urged its citizens against unnecessary travel to Iran, days after an armed attack on Baku’s embassy in Tehran that left a security guard dead and wounded two others.

“Due to the unstable situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran and the terrorist attack against the diplomatic mission of our country, the citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan are advised not to visit the Islamic Republic of Iran unless necessary,” the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said in a statement published on its website.

“Those who visit are advised to exercise increased caution,” the ministry added.

On Friday, a gunman attacked Azerbaijan’s embassy in Tehran, killing an Azerbaijani security official and wounding two others.

Iranian authorities said the attacker, an Iranian man, was arrested and cited “personal and family problems” as the motivation for the attack.

But Azerbaijan blamed Iran for the attack which it labelled as an act of terrorism. Baku evacuated embassy staff and their family members from Iran on Sunday.

Azerbaijani foreign ministry spokesman AyxanHacizada said the attack was “encouraged” by a recent anti-Azerbaijani campaign in Iranian media.

Iran and Azerbaijan share a border of around 700 kilometers (430 miles).

The two countries have a complex relationship. Iran is wary of Azerbaijan’s relations with Israel, a major supplier of arms to Baku. Tehran is also wary over nationalists in Azerbaijan and its close ally Turkey fanning separatist tendencies among its sizeable ethnic Azeri population.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Macron's remarks prove France still pursues colonial approach toward Africa: Turkish scholar

Enes Taha Ersen


French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent remarks proved his country still pursues a colonial approach toward Africa, according to a Turkish scholar. 

"I do not have to ask for forgiveness, that is not the matter, the word would break all ties," Macron said Jan. 11 in an interview with the French weekly, Le Point.

MuserrefYardim told Anadolu that France colonized Algeria for 132 years and “colonialism” refers to a bloody and traumatic period of Algerian history that remained in the minds of the nation.

She noted that Algerians frequently demand an apology and remorse from France for massacres in Algeria committed during the colonial era.

"The issue of France's official apology for what it did in Algeria has been at the center of the relations between the two countries for many years," said the scholar from the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at Necmettin Erbakan University.

She said Macron described French colonialism in Algeria as a “crime against humanity” while preparing for the 2017 presidential election.

"In 2018, Macron also said that his country used systematic torture during the Algerian liberation war," she said, adding that France has taken steps to confront its colonial past in recent years but the moves were symbolic.

"Macron commissioned historian Benjamin Stora in 2020 to investigate France's colonial legacy in Algeria," she said. "A series of symbolic steps were taken, excluding 'apology' or 'regret', to improve ties between the two countries. In his report, Stora said that there is no problem to issue an apology for the massacres committed in Algeria. Macron, on the other hand, said that he would not apologize for his country’s colonial rule." 

French colonialism in the Algerian national anthem

Citing Macron's latest remarks, Yardim said France's official approach to Algeria for its colonial past has not changed.

She noted the French president's remarks to Le Monde: 'If it weren't for France, you wouldn't exist now, you owe your existence to France."

Macron tried to honor his country’s colonial past in the remarks, according to Yardim.

She said an apology would be the first step in restoring relations with other African countries, especially Algeria.

"Some groups, who demand an apology from France over its massacres committed in Algeria, are demanding that Algeria-France relations should be reconsidered," she said. "The traces of the French colonial past are even reflected in the Algerian national anthem. The anger and reckoning against France are seen in the anthem. The demand of both Algeria and other African colonies is that France should confront its colonial past and do what was necessary by accepting the crimes against humanity it has committed."

"However, the officials don’t have the intention of taking positive steps."

- 'Policies are for the benefit of colonized nations'

France still claims sovereignty in Africa, even though the colonial period is over, According to Yardim,

She noted the speech given by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007 in the Senegalese capital of Dakar.

"Even if there are mistakes and crimes in history, no one should expect today's generations to pay for the crimes committed by past generations," said Sarkozy.

Yardim noted that the colonialist mentality still exists in Europe.

She said France passed the law on colonialism on Feb. 25, 2005, to impose teachers to teach the positive effects of the French presence in North Africa to students. But the bill was withdrawn due to the public reaction.

"Although the law was strongly condemned by Algeria and other colonial countries, France still believes that colonial policies continue to say that policies are for the benefit of the colonized nations," she said.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Tehran’s nuclear activities ‘threatens international peace and security,’: UK

Burak Bir  



Iran continues the escalation of its nuclear activities and “threatens international peace and security,” the British foreign secretary warned Tuesday.

"Iran's nuclear program has sadly never been more advanced than it is today," James Cleverly said while answering questions raised by lawmakers in the House of Commons/

He reiterated that the UK continues to work with allies to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Regarding Iran's moves in the region through militia proxies and the supply of military weapons to Russia, Cleverly stressed that those actions are "completely unacceptable."

"We have implemented more than 50 new sanctions designations in recent months in response to Iranian human rights abuses and their military support to Russia," he said, adding that further actions will continue.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Turkish foreign minister to visit Estonia for talks

Diyar Guldogan


Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday will pay a visit to Estonia to meet his counterpart UrmasReinsalu, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

"At the meetings, all aspects of our bilateral relations will be elaborated and Türkiye-EU relations as well as current regional and international developments will be discussed," the ministry said in a statement.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Sweden sacrifices its NATO membership path to extremists

Murat Temizer


Although Finland and Sweden want to walk the path to NATO membership together due to the rising danger of war and security concerns on their borders, Sweden sacrifices its membership hopes to extremists by spectating anti-Türkiye provocations and hate crimes.

Here is how official applications of Stockholm and Finland to NATO began on May 18 last year and how they proceed.

Finland and Sweden -- willing to be part of the NATO security umbrella to avoid possible conflicts amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war that began on Feb. 24, 2022 -- decided to take steps together and made their application in Brussels.

However, Türkiye opposed NATO membership of both countries due to the support given to terrorist organizations PKK/YPG/PYD and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO). Ankara said it would like to see concrete and permanent steps taken on issues such as preventing the activities of terrorist organizations that threaten Turkish citizens and Türkiye's security, extradition of people wanted or convicted for terrorism, and lifting restrictions on the export of defense industry products.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said these two countries, especially Sweden, directly support the PKK -- which Türkiye has been fighting for years -- grant political asylum to its members, and provide financial aid. Erdogan emphasized that these attitudes must change for Ankara's approval.

On the commitment of the two countries to respond positively to Türkiye's expectations, Türkiye, Finland, and Sweden signed a triple memorandum at the NATO Madrid Summit on June 28, 2022. Also, a permanent joint mechanism was established in this context.

However, during the process, anti-Türkiye provocations organized by terrorist organizations in Sweden and the overlooking of the burning of the Quran made it questionable how well this country fulfilled its commitments.

After the recent provocations in the country, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said "provocateurs tried to prevent Sweden's membership," but the incident, tolerated in the name of freedom of expression, damaged the NATO membership process of the country.

"We may respond differently to Finland if necessary. Sweden would be shocked when we respond differently to Finland. But Finland should not make the same mistake," Erdogan said on Sunday.

Those remarks also brought up the question of whether these two countries would separate their joint path leading to NATO.

1st fracture: FETO fugitive Kenes

After the triple memorandum was signed in Madrid, the membership process of the two Scandinavian countries was expected to progress rapidly, but the Swedish judicial authorities' refusal to allow the extradition of FETO fugitive Bulent Kenes on Dec. 19 slowed the momentum in the negotiations.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Dec. 22 said Sweden's refusal to allow the extradition of Kenes was a "very negative development."

Insulting Türkiye, Erdogan

The provocation that interrupted Sweden's NATO membership process and came to the fore in the last period is that terror supporters in early July gathered in front of the historical City Hall in the capital Stockholm, hung a figure of Erdogan in effigy by the feet on a pole in front of the building, and shared video footage of the moment on social media.

Footage posted later on a social media account affiliated with the terror group showed that threats targeting Türkiye and Erdogan were made with Turkish subtitles.

In the face of this provocation, Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Türkiye Mustafa Sentop canceled the official visit of Swedish Parliament Speaker Andreas Norlen, which was planned to be made to Türkiye on Jan 17.

Burning of Quran

The latest incident in Sweden, which maintains its optimistic approach to the membership process, but does not say "stop" to terrorist supporters and provocative acts within the country, was the burning of the Quran, Muslim holy book.

Rasmus Paludan, the leader of the Danish far-right party StramKurs (Hard Line), has drawn global condemnation after torching copies of Islam’s holy book, the Quran, outside a mosque in Copenhagen and the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm this month.

Erdogan said on Jan. 23: "Those who caused such a disgrace in front of our embassy should not expect any benevolence from us regarding their NATO membership applications."

While the Swedish authorities argued that they did not approve of the action, but that there is freedom of expression in the country, Türkiye continued to emphasize that such an insult to a sanctuary is not just against Muslims, but is a hate crime.

The result of the provocations was the postponement of the tripartite mechanism meeting on NATO membership.

Responding to questions on the subject, the Finnish police announced that the burning of holy books such as the Quran in public places will not be allowed, and that this will be considered a "punishable crime."

Swedish-free membership option

Contrary to what happened in Sweden, a calmer atmosphere prevailed in Finland. It was noted that Finland took positive steps towards Türkiye and was not affected by this negative atmosphere.

Finnish Foreign Minister PekkaHaavisto told public broadcaster Yle on Jan. 24 that Finland should consider joining NATO without Sweden.

Asked whether Finland should progress at the same pace as Sweden in the NATO accession process, Haavisto said: "We have to be ready to re-evaluate the situation. Has something happened that would in the long run prevent Sweden's application from progressing?"

However, after Erdogan's "Türkiye may respond 'differently' to Finland's NATO bid" message on Sunday, Haavisto said this time that Helsinki wants to join NATO with Sweden.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Swedes criticize recent provocations against Türkiye, Islam




Swedish citizens are voicing discomfort with recent provocations against Türkiye and Islam in their country, describing the burning of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, as a “shameful” hate crime.

Ingrid Kolobaric, a Croatian who lives in Sweden, told Anadolu that Sweden "should learn to respect" the Turkish president before trying to be "cute" with Ankara about its bid to join the NATO military alliance.

"Sweden needs to respect all people regardless of their religious belief, race, appearance, and color. Now is the time. It's time for Sweden to learn to respect all people," Kolobaric said.

In addition to allowing Quran burnings, earlier this month Swedish authorities did nothing to stop the hanging in effigy of the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

On the Quran burning in Sweden by Rasmus Paludan, a far-right extremist, Kolobaric underlined that the burning of holy books should be stopped.

Insulting other faiths, views 'unacceptable'

Saying he thinks there would be pluses and minuses to Sweden joining NATO – a goal it set after the start of Russia’s war on Ukraine last February – Liam Tiks said: "I don't think Paludan's burning of the Quran is right.

"It should be considered a hate crime," Tiks added.

Another Swede, Izabella Schultzberg, called the burning of the Quran "very shameful and bad."

"This should be banned," Schultzberg said. "Insulting another religion and view is unacceptable."

Citing how Türkiye has said if it wants to join NATO, Sweden must prove its firm opposition to terrorism – including to the terrorist YPG/PKK, which has threatened tens of thousands of people in Türkiye and along its borders – Björn Gillsbro said Paludan's burning of the Quran had stiffened Turkish resistance.

He added: "Sweden definitely doesn’t need to be a member of NATO. We already have military cooperation with European Union countries and NATO countries."

"Paludan also needs to stop provoking the public," he added.

Ebba Liedstrom, for her part, said that Paludan's provocation of burning the Quran was "shameful and a childish act to agitate the people."

Paludan, a Danish-Swedish politician, drew global condemnation after torching copies of the Quran outside a mosque in Copenhagen and the Turkish Embassy in the capital Stockholm this month.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Muslims in Berlin decry lack of burial places, demand urgent solution

Erbil Basay



The lack of graves for Muslims in Berlin has been an issue for decades, as more space is needed to accommodate more graves.

The umbrella associations established by Muslims operating in Germany's capital demanded that the Berlin state government must find an urgent solution to the problem about cemeteries where Muslims are buried with Islamic methods.

While the number of Muslims who want to be buried in Germany is increasing, the first generation Muslims who came to the country as workers prefer to be buried in the countries they came from, especially Türkiye.

However, a majority of the second and third generation Muslims in Germany want to be buried in the country they live in, as the relatives who will visit their graves and pray for them after they die live in that country.

Recently, the capacity of Gatow Cemetery, which is located in the westernmost borough of Berlin, has started to fill up.

Murat Gul, the president of the Islamic Federation of Berlin, told Anadolu that he received a letter from authorities saying that there will be no empty places in the cemetery and no burial will be allowed as of the end of March.

He also pointed out that a similar situation was experienced in 2018, and in 2021, bodies of 20 Muslims were kept waiting in Berlin during the New Year's holiday as there was no vacancy in the Gatow Cemetery.

The problem was solved temporarily then, he added.

According to Gul, more than 300,000 Muslims live in Berlin, and their numbers will be rising in the coming years.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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In Budapest, top Turkish diplomat holds 'fruitful meeting' with Hungarian premier

Faruk Zorlu


Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday met with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Budapest as part of his official visit to Hungary to discuss bilateral relations and regional issues.

"I thank him for the fruitful meeting. Also conveyed greetings & invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Orban," Cavusoglu said on Twitter.

Cavusoglu is paying the visit at the invitation of his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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UK High Court to consider legality of resuming arms sales to Saudi Arabia

31 January 2023

The UK High Court of Justice is set to consider the legality of the British government's decision to resume arms sales to Saudi Arabia that could be used in the war against Yemen, as Riyadh’s aggression against the impoverished Arab country continues unabated.

The court is due to start considering the evidence at a hearing in London on Tuesday, after the non-governmental organization, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) filed a lawsuit against the British government over the resumption of arms sales to Saudi Arabia. 

CAAT accused London of contributing to the violation of international law and causing the world's largest humanitarian disaster, which has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

The judicial review is expected to last until the end of the week.

The legal action was brought forward after Britain announced that it would resume arms sales to Saudi Arabia in July 2020, despite continued Saudi airstrikes across Yemen.

Ahead of the hearing, CAAT's media coordinator Emily Apple accused London of caring "more about profit than war crimes and the deaths of civilians".

The UK-based NGO won a similar case against the government in 2019, when an appeal court ruled that Britain's license to sell arms to Saudi Arabia was illegal.

It said the government had failed to assess whether the arms sales violated its commitments to human rights and ordered it to "reconsider the matter".

The United States and Britain are the main suppliers of weapons to Saudi Arabia, selling tens of billions of dollars of arms to the leaders in Riyadh.

The oil-rich Middle Eastern country has historically played an outsized role in importing military armaments from the US and the UK.

Riyadh purchased a huge chunk of all the weapons sold by the two countries between 2017 and 2021, according to peace groups monitoring international arms deals.

Saudi Arabia, in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the US and other Western states, launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015.

The objective was to crush the Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen, and reinstall the Riyadh-friendly unpopular regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Source: Press TV

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South Asia


Islamic Emirate Condemns Attack on Mosque in Peshawar

By Zabiullah Sarier

The Islamic Emirate Foreign Ministry condemned Monday's attack on worshipers in a mosque in Peshawar, a city in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, saying it is in "contradiction to the teaching of Islam."

A suicide bombing that struck inside a mosque at a police and government compound in northwest Pakistan reflects “security lapses,” current and former officials said as the death toll from the devastating blast climbed to 100 on Tuesday.

The blast, which ripped through a Sunni mosque inside a major police facility in the city of Peshawar, was one of the deadliest attacks on Pakistani security forces in recent years. It left as many as 225 wounded, some still in serious condition in hospital, according to Kashif Aftab Abbasi, a senior officer in Peshawar.

The rise in terrorist attacks worries the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

“I fear this is just the beginning of another wave of terrorism. We have seen many attacks in Peshawar, they mostly target law enforcement and police,” said a resident of Peshawar.

“This is not the first time this kind of bombing has happened. From 2006 to now, we have had enough of terrorism and thousands of people have lost their lives. We ask the world for help, we yearn for tranquility, we are all human and we are longing for peace here,” said another resident of Peshawar.

More than 300 worshippers were praying in the mosque, with more approaching, when the bomber set off his explosives vest on Monday morning, officials told Associated Press.

Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for the UN secretary-general, condemned this attack and says that such attacks violate the freedom of religion and worship.

“It is particularly abhorrent that such an attack occurred at a place of worship. Freedom of religion, freedom of belief, and the ability to worship in peace is a fundamental human right,” Dujarric told a press conference.

Source: ToloNews

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Islamic Emirate to Begin Construction on Banks of Amu River

By Imran Danish

The Islamic Emirate is considering construction on the banks of the Amu River.

A delegation comprised of officials of several ministries traveled to the north of the country to assess the situation alongside the Amu river.

Mujeeb Rahman Omar, acting Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock said that due to lack of walls on the banks of the river, thousands of houses, which are located near the river, have been destroyed in five northern provinces.

“We call on the charity and aid organizations--this is the time and place for attention. The plans and goals that you consider can be implemented here,” he said.

The deputy Minister of Energy and Water, Ataullah Omari, said that implementation of the project will cost two billion Afs in the short term.

“Our technical and professional teams have conducted an estimation. We have short-term and long-term plans. In the long term, we estimated a cost of six billion Afs and in the short term it costs two billion,” said the acting Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock.

The findings of the delegations show that a gold mine is endangered by the river bank's erosion.

“There is a gold mine alongside the river, which approximately has 30 tons of gold. This mine is in danger of the river,” said Zia Rahman Aryoubi, deputy Minister of Mines and Petroleum.

Source: ToloNews

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Bangladesh orders 191 ‘anti-state’ news sites blocked

February 1, 2023

DHAKA: The Bangladesh government has ordered the closure of 191 websites it accuses of publishing “anti-state news”, stoking concerns about media freedom in the South Asian country.

Information Minister Hasan Mahmud told parliament on Monday that the government has instructed the telecoms regulator to close the domains following “reports from intelligence agencies”.0 He said the sites, which were not named, were “conducting activities that spread confusion among the public”.

Campaigners and foreign governments including the United States have long expressed worries about efforts by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to silence criticism.

Bangladesh’s draconian Digital Security Act, under which hundreds of people have been arrested since 2018, has caused particular alarm.

“The government shouldn’t try to control the flow of the internet,” Faruq Faisel, regional director of media rights watchdog ARTICLE 19 South Asia, said.

“The move to block news sites will hamper freedom of expression in the country. It will pave the way of spreading misinformation and disinformation,” he said.

Asked about the website blocking order, Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for the United Nations secretary general, said freedom of expression “needs to be protected”. Journalists “have a right to be able to operate their news sites freely and openly, and we want to see positive movement in that direction”, he told a regular briefing in New York.

Source: Dawn

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Pakistan Releases More Than 100 Afghan Detainees

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

February 1, 2023

The Embassy of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in Islamabad has announced that more than 120 Afghan nationals have been released from prisons in Sindh province Pakistan.

Afghanistan’s Diplomatic Mission in Islamabad said on Twitter that Afghan detainees were released on Tuesday. As per this announcement, some 130 more Afghan citizens will be released in the coming days.

Prior to this, the Afghan Embassy had announced that 1300 Afghan refugees had been released from Pakistani prisons.

According to Pakistani officials, during a special operation, police detained more than 1200 Afghan nationals including women and children across Pakistan due to not having legal residential permits (visas), and put them behind bars in the recent past.

The Afghan Embassy in Pakistan have confirmed that nearly 1500 undocumented Afghan refugees are still in prisons in Pakistan, and efforts are underway for their release.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports, some 1.3 million legal Afghan refugees are currently residing in Pakistan, however, it is estimated that thousands of illegal Afghan migrants are living in different parts of Pakistan.

Since the beginning of political turmoil and civil war in Afghanistan, Pakistan has been one of the neighboring countries hosting millions of Afghans for more than three decades. For some Afghans, Pakistan is their second home, having the freedom to live, run their business and benefit from the privileges given by UNHCR and the Pakistani government.

Source: Khaama Press

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Pakistan’s Special Envoy Meets European Union’s Special Representative for Afghanistan

By Fidel Rahmati

January 31, 2023

Mohammad Sadiq, Pakistan’s Special Envoy to Afghanistan, informed in a series of tweeters that he met Tomas Niklasson, the European Union’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, on 31 January 2023.

He added, “Amongst several other things, we discussed our respective humanitarian support to the people of Afghanistan.”

He also discussed the importance of EU support to the people of Afghanistan and urged for the continuation of support for the Afghan people.

“EU is a significant donor of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. Continuation of EU support will mitigate some of Afghan people’s food and health care needs.”

The recent decrees announced by the de facto government on female workers have created several challenges for the international community and aid organizations to continue their work in Afghanistan.

On the other hand, the ban on female NGO employees has interrupted aid distribution to Afghan families, particularly in the freezing winter, when most families require humanitarian support.

Mohammad also discussed Pakistan’s humanitarian assistance to Afghan people with his counterpart and considered Pakistan’s private and public sector role significant to Afghanistan.

Source: Khaama Press

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Taliban showing signs of understanding China’s real interests :Report

1 February, 2023

Kabul [Afghanistan], February 1 (ANI): After the United States left Afghanistan and Taliban took over the country in 2021, China wanted to fill the power vacuum by heavily investing in the country, the Afghan Diaspora Network reported, adding that now the Taliban has realised China’s real intent.

During the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, China wanted to create a foothold in the country. But China’s repression and genocidal action on Uyghur Muslims and Taliban’s hard Islamic values are contrary to each other, according to the report.

China was one of the few countries to have kept their Embassy in Kabul fully functional throughout the period after the regime change.

A number of Chinese businessmen reportedly stayed back. Subsequently, to project its prominence on this front, China has engaged with, participated in, and hosted numerous regional formats on Afghanistan, the report said, adding that these were mainly to safeguard the security, economic and strategic interests of China in Afghanistan.

In addition to this Beijing also sponsored limited bilateral trade and Chinese state-owned enterprises have started to talk about restarting their projects with Taliban authorities, the report said, adding that China believed that Afghanistan provided a safe haven to militants who were able to operate from camps along the Afghanistan border and move into China through the narrow passes along their border.

And this is why China is still having second thoughts on making tangible investments in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, it said.

Further, according to the report, the Taliban has started showing signs of understanding the real interests of China which is siphoning the resources of Afghanistan for the strategic interests of Beijing.

There were serious actions taken against Chinese nationals that had been caught smuggling, the report stated further, adding that on January, 23, this year, five men, including two Chinese nationals, were arrested by the Taliban in Jalalabad for their involvement in the smuggling of an estimated 1,000 metric tons of lithium-containing rocks out of Afghanistan to China via Pakistan.

Source: ThePrint

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US envoy, Pakistan officials discuss Afghan Taliban ban on women

February 01, 2023

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West, who visited Pakistan on January 30-31, discussed terrorism and Afghan Taliban’s ban on girls education with top officials including army chief General Syed Asim Munir.

In a tweet from his official handle on Tuesday, the US envoy appreciated Pakistan’s hospitality over two days of productive meetings related to Afghanistan.

West said he held meetings with Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir, Ambassador Muhammad Sadiq and Foreign Secretary Asad Majeed Khan.

During the meetings, the envoy said they discussed terrorism and security situations, “need for international unity and dangerous impact of Taliban edicts on millions of Afghans’ access to vital aid and education”.

The US envoy said he also urged support for important work of the UN and implementers to secure reversal of the de facto rulers ban on women aid workers and female education.

“Met courageous Afghan women and heard critical demands and observations: Women-headed households in Afghanistan are suffering, and int’l community must prioritise their needs,” he added.

The US point person for Afghanistan said women and girls confined to home are experiencing extreme mental and psychological stresses, “without ability to move freely, get educated”.

“Reviewed with UNHCR and World Bank robust support for Afghan refugees and millions of basic human needs of millions of Afghans.”

Source:Tribune Pakistan

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Southeast Asia


Quranic Arts Festival Wraps Up in Malaysia

January 31, 2023

It had been organized in Putrajaya by Restu Foundation and foreign partners including the Iranian Cultural Center in Malaysia and with the help of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization (ICRO).

The event allowed visitors to witness special exhibitions, and interact with the Quran and Islamic arts and Islamic products entrepreneurs while also trying to improve the image of Islam as an inclusive and peaceful religion.

Introducing the preservation and prosperity of the Quran, glorifying the teachings of Islam, inviting the community to love knowledge and scholars, utilizing modern technology as an effective preaching medium, and trying to return the Muslim community to their true identity were also among other objectives of the event.

Artists from Iran, Iraq, and Turkey put their works in such fields as calligraphy, painting, calligraphy-painting and engraving rings on display at the festival.

The closing ceremony was attended by a Malaysian deputy prime minister, Head of the Restu Foundation Abdu Latif Mirasa, senior Egyptian qari Sheikh Issa al-Ma’asarawi, and Iranian Cultural Attaché in Malaysia Mohammad Ali Oraei Karimi. 

Mirasa in an address appreciated the artists who took part in the international Quranic arts event.

He also explained about the activities of the Restu Foundation and its history.


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Defending his daughter’s adviser role, Malaysia PM Anwar says Nurul Izzah will ensure government transparency

01 Feb 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: Amid criticisms over the appointment of his daughter as a senior adviser, Malaysia Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim on Tuesday (Jan 31) said that Ms Nurul Izzah Anwar’s role will be limited.

Mr Anwar told local media that his daughter will not have any opportunity to enrich herself in her role as senior economic and finance adviser to the prime minister. It was reported previously that Ms Nurul Izzah is not getting paid for the role, which took effect on Jan 3.

“She will not have the power to take on or directly manage any project or tenders herself,” he was quoted as saying by The Star.

Mr Anwar added that Ms Nurul Izzah’s role as senior adviser will help to ensure transparency in his administration while ensuring that proper processes are in place for tenders and procurements.

“I accept criticisms, but on her appointment, that is all to it. She will also ensure that proper procedure is followed when it comes to contracts and tenders,” he was quoted by The Star as telling reporters after the launch of the National Sports Award 2021.

Mr Anwar reportedly said that Ms Nurul Izzah did not take on the role “to take projects” but to “help” him.

“My daughter was eager to help me in any way she could. If she came to help me without being given an official position, people will question her intentions even more severely than they do now,” he said.

Mr Anwar also denied claims of nepotism in his daughter’s appointment, adding that some of his critics were in no place to criticise him as they themselves had given “millions of ringgits worth of contracts” to their children.

“Nepotism is where (a family member) is given a position to abuse power, enrich themselves, obtain contracts and get paid a huge sum … This is not the case,” he was quoted as saying by Free Malaysia Today, though he did not elaborate on the allegations.

Following reports that Malaysia’s global Corruption Perception Index (CPI) had dropped from 48 in 2021 to 47 last year, Mr Anwar on Tuesday pledged that he would not commit acts of corruption or bribery.

“I will personally guarantee that there will be no acts of corruption, bribery or misuse of power during my term as prime minister,” he was quoted as saying by The Star.

“I also pledge my administration’s willingness to fully cooperate with any investigations launched by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.”

Opposition politicians, including Perikatan Nasional chairman Muhyiddin Yassin and its secretary-general Hamzah Zainudin, have been calling for Ms Nurul Izzah to step down from the role.

Kedah's chief minister Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor has also questioned the arrangement of Ms Nurul Izzah being a senior adviser without pay.

"I don't think there is such a position. If you render your service but there is no salary involved, what is that? This is not an NGO (non-governmental organisation), this is the government,” he was quoted by New Straits Times as telling reporters after attending the state-level Chinese New Year dinner on Tuesday.

Mr Sanusi is a member of the Parti Islam Se-Malaysia.

Separately, Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil also defended Ms Nurul Izzah’s appointment, saying that there were others that were appointed to be Mr Anwar’s advisers. Among them is Mr Hassan Marican, the former president and chief executive officer of Petronas.

“The term adviser is clear because they will not touch on policy matters, have no source of authority - including to call for meetings - as well as are not paid any salary,” he was quoted by Bernama as telling the media after his ministry’s monthly gathering on Tuesday.


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Indonesia sees Saudi Arabia as ‘priority partner’ to boost Mideast trade


January 31, 2023

JAKARTA: Saudi Arabia is Indonesia’s strategic and priority market, a top trade ministry official said on Tuesday, as Southeast Asia’s biggest economy seeks to increase its presence in the Middle East.

Trade between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia has been on the rise, increasing to $7 billion, or by about 45 percent, between January and November last year, compared to the same period the previous year.

Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan visited Riyadh last week, leading a special delegation seeking to explore untapped export potential with the Kingdom.

“Trade potential between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia is very huge and very strategic,” Didi Sumedi, director general of national export development at the Indonesian Ministry of Trade, told Arab News, adding that it “has not been maximized.”

Boosting ties with the Kingdom would also help Indonesia increase its presence in the Middle East.

“Saudi Arabia in this case is a priority because it is a strategic partner with the biggest economy in the Middle East,” Sumedi said.

Improving relations with Saudi Arabia would also help pave the way for better ties with GCC countries, as Indonesia is pushing for a trade pact with the bloc.

Indonesia signed a trade agreement with the UAE in July last year, expecting to boost its Emirates-bound exports by nearly 8 percent a year.

The agreement, which erases about 99 percent of existing tariffs, is still pending ratification by the Indonesian House of Representatives.

In Saudi Arabia, Indonesia wants to increase exports of processed food and everyday items, including paper and clothes.

“We see we can further improve trade between the two countries,” Sumedi said.

The ministry is also looking into supporting Indonesian retail businesses to open in Madinah, Makkah and Jeddah, he added.

Source: Arab News

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2023: Peter Obi working to divide Muslims, Christians – Adamu Garba

February 1, 2023

By Francis Ugwu

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Adamu Garba has accused the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Peter Obi, of playing a dangerous religious game in the Northern part of the country.

He claimed that the LP candidate is working to divide the Muslims and the Christians.

Garba also said Obi was pushing a very dangerous agenda capable of affecting the whole country.

The accusation was contained in a post via his verified Twitter handle on Tuesday.

He said this had been the game of former president Olusegun Obasanjo for a long time.

Garba said the North is a United Muslim and Christian domain, noting that Obi can’t divide them.

He wrote, “Peter Obi is playing a dangerous religious game in the North. All his recent Northern tours are targeted at predominantly Christian areas. He needs to know that he cannot export his IPOB games to the North.

“The North is a United Muslims and Christian domain. He can’t divide us.

“He and his cohorts, in addition to his collaborators, cannot set us against one another. This has been the game of Obasanjo for a long time.

“He tried it for 8 years and could not succeed, he attempted to use Jonathan but failed. Now it is Peter Obi, we know and we’ll not accept this.

If you want to be a president, go everywhere. But we noticed whatever games Obi is playing.

“He went to Kano, visited Sabon Gari, without homage to Emirs, went to Kaduna, neglected the Emir of Zazzau, went to Yola, didn’t visit Lamido or Mubi Emir. It has been the trend. Divisions!

Source: DailyPost Nigeria

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Sudan frees Abdel-Raouf Abu Zaid, man convicted of killing US diplomat John Granville

31 January ,2023

Sudanese authorities have released a man convicted of the 2008 killing of a US diplomat in a drive-by shooting in the capital, Khartoum, his family said Tuesday. The release followed a 2020 deal between Sudan and the Trump administration that included compensation settlements for killings of Americans.

Abdel-Raouf Abu Zaid, designated a terrorist by the United States, was captured weeks after the shooting. He was convicted and sentenced to death for the killing of John Granville, an official with the US Agency for International Development, and Granville’s Sudanese driver.

Abu Zaid spent most of the past 15 years behind bars in Kubar Prison in Khartoum and was released on Monday, according to his brother, Abdel-Malek Abu Zaid, who posted photos on social media showing the scene outside the prison following Abdel-Raouf’s release.

Abdel-Malek would not elaborate but one of the daily newspapers in the country, the Sudani, reported that the Abu Zaid family had paid blood money to the slain driver’s family. Under Islamic law, which Sudan’s judiciary follows, a convict can be pardoned if his victim’s family is financially compensated.

A spokesman for Sudan’s ruling military declined to comment on the case. Other officials could not be reached for comment.

The US State Department said it was aware of the reported release of Abdel-Raouf Abu Zaid, designated a terrorist in 2013 by the US, and was seeking more information from the authorities in Khartoum.

“We call for full accountability for the murders,” of Granville and his driver, Abdel Rahman Abbas Rahama, the State Department said.

Earlier this month, Abu Zaid’s family apologized for the killing of Granville and his driver, saying in a video message: “We, as a family, apologize and acknowledged Abdel-Raouf’s mistake and he already admitted his mistake and expressed his regret and remorse for what has happened.”

Three other men were sentenced to death along with Abu Zaid while a fifth man received a two-year sentence for providing the weapons used in the attack.

The four awaiting hanging broke out of prison in June 2010, killing a Sudanese police officer and wounding another in a shootout in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman, according to a Sudanese notice to the international police agency, Interpol.

Abu Zaid was recaptured weeks later and returned to Kubar Prison. The three other men were not recaptured. Local reports have said two of them later died in Somalia while the third is still living there.

In 2020, Sudan’s former transitional government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok reached a deal with the Trump administration to stop any future compensation claims being filed against the African country in US courts.

This came after Sudan paid $335 million to settle compensation lawsuits at US courts related to the 1998 bombings of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the deadly 2000 bombing of the USS Cole at Yemen’s southern port of Aden which killed 17 Marines, as well as Granville’s killing.

Granville, 33, was an official for the USAID. He was working to implement a 2005 peace agreement between Sudan’s north and south that ended more than two decades of civil war.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Algeria’s Tebboune to visit Russia in May: Presidency

January 31, 2023

ALGIERS: Algerian President AbdelmadjidTebboune plans to visit Russia in May, his office said Tuesday after he spoke on the phone with his counterpart in Moscow, Vladimir Putin.

Algeria has had warm ties with Moscow for decades, but Africa’s biggest gas exporter has also become crucial for Europe’s energy supplies in the fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Tebboune and Putin discussed “bilateral relations between the two countries, especially energy cooperation,” the Algerian presidency said in a statement.

Tebboune is also set to pay a state visit to former colonial ruler France in May, but officials have not specified which country he will visit first.

Algeria, which pumps gas directly to Spain and Italy via undersea pipelines, has in recent months hosted a string of top European officials — including French President Emmanuel Macron in August — seeking to find alternatives to Russian energy supplies.

Algeria is a major buyer of Russian arms, and in 2021 bilateral trade was worth three billion dollars, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The North African country is in a decades-long struggle with its regional rival Morocco, particularly over the disputed Western Sahara territory, and cut off all ties with its neighbor in 2021 over alleged “hostile acts,” which Rabat has denied.

Source: Arab News

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Biden, King Abdullah to meet at White House on Thursday

January 31, 2023

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden will receive and hold talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah at the White House on Thursday, the Jordanian embassy in Washington said on Tuesday.

The king is in Washington and met with US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy at the Capitol earlier on Tuesday.

“Talks will cover means to bolster the strategic partnership and ties of friendship between Jordan and the US through expanding cooperation across various sectors,” Jordan’s royal court said.

Source: Arab News

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Jordan workshop to target employment for Syrian refugees

January 31, 2023

AMMAN: The Ministry of Local Administration and the International Labor Organization held a workshop to introduce the sixth phase of Employment through Labor Intensive Infrastructure in Jordan project targeting Syrian refugees.

The project is funded by the German Development Bank, reported Jordan’s News Agency on Tuesday.

It focuses on improving infrastructure through labor-intensive methods that benefit communities in the long term, such as road and school maintenance, soil improvement and water conservation activities in farms and environmental cleaning services.

The project’s sixth phase is expected to provide 1,000 short-term jobs in 31 northern and central municipalities for Jordanians and Syrian refugees, designating 30 percent of employment to women and 5 percent for disabled people through funding worth €7 million ($7.6m) provided for the municipalities.

Being implemented in cooperation with the ministries of Local Administration and Agriculture, the project includes maintenance of municipalities, afforestation and training sessions on professions that qualify participants for the labor market.

The project’s infrastructure supervisor engineer, Anas Bakhit, briefed participants on the goals, phases, proposals and mechanisms of choosing employees.

Source: Arab News

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Tunisia extends state of emergency to end of 2023

Mehmet Akif Turan


TUNIS, Tunisia

Tunisia extended a state of emergency Wednesday until the end of the year.

The original declaration was made in 2015 after a terror attack.

The state of emergency, which would have ended Jan. 30, was extended to Dec. 31, according to a presidential decree published in the Official Gazette.

President Kais Saied extended the state of emergency for another month on Dec. 30.

Since the initial state of emergency in 2015, the measure has been extended by authorities.

Under the measures, the Interior Ministry is granted emergency powers to stop meetings and gatherings, impose curfews and clamp down on media organizations.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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North America


US secretary of state Blinken in Mideast renews appeal for Israel-Palestinian calm

Jan 31, 2023

JERUSALEM: United States secretary of state Antony Blinken is wrapping up a two-day visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank on Tuesday with renewed appeals for Israeli-Palestinian calm amid an alarming spike of violence.

Blinken was meeting Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank town of Ramallah on Tuesday, a day after seeing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Standing alongside the Israeli leader, Blinken stressed the importance the Biden administration places on resolving the long-running conflict with a two-state solution.

However, beyond urging a de-escalation of tensions, Blinken offered no new US initiative to do so. There were no signs that Blinken was making progress on even the modest goal of halting the latest wave of violence, much less of addressing the broader issues surrounding peace talks.

Netanyahu's far-right government is dominated by hard-liners who oppose Palestinian statehood and are unlikely to make even minimal concessions.

Blinken's visit comes amid one of the deadliest periods of fighting in years in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem. The violence has further complicated the administration's already difficult attempts to find common ground with Netanyahu's government.

In Ramallah, Blinken was expected to discuss the Palestinian Authority's decision to halt security coordination with Israel. The security ties, which in the past are believed to have helped contain violence, are deeply unpopular among everyday Palestinians, who accuse Abbas of acting as a subcontractor for the Israeli military.

Before heading to the West Bank, Blinken met with Israel's opposition leader, former Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

"The secretary conveyed his concern over the deteriorating security situation in the West Bank and the need for urgent action to prevent greater loss of life. Secretary Blinken reiterated that Israelis and Palestinians deserve to have equal measures of security, prosperity and freedom," his office said.

Following a meeting with Blinken on Monday, Netanyahu made only passing reference to the Palestinians and focused instead on Iran, which he believes is his most urgent security priority.

Netanyahu's coalition partners also gave a cool reception to Blinken's comments.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of the ultranationalist Jewish Power party, vowed to push forward with punitive measures against the Palestinians in response to a pair of shootings in east Jerusalem over the weekend. Ben-Gvir has pledged to demolish Palestinian homes and hand out more weapons to Israeli civilians.

Cabinet Minister Orit Strock, another ultranationalist, objected to comments by Blinken that were seen as criticizing the Israeli government's plan to overhaul the country's judicial system and weaken the Supreme Court.

During his appearance with Netanyahu, Blinken voiced "support for core democratic principles and institutions," including "the equal administration of justice for all, the equal rights of minority groups, the rule of law." Critics say Netanyahu's plan will weaken the country's judicial system and destroy its democratic system of checks and balances.

Speaking to the Kan public broadcaster, Strok accused Blinken of meddling in internal Israeli affairs.

"We're not the 51st or 52nd state of the U.S., and he didn't need to interfere in internal disputes in the state of Israel," she said. "It's not his job."

Before leaving Jerusalem for Ramallah, Blinken met with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant who repeated the prime minister's concern about Iran.

"Your visit comes at a critical time," Gallant said. "It sends a clear message to the region: the United States and Israel are united facing Iran or anyone threatening peace and stability in the region."

Blinken agreed about unity when confronting Iran and preventing it from acquiring nuclear weapons. He said the U.S. commitment to Israel's security remains 'ironclad' but suggested there was more on his agenda. "We have a lot on our hands in this moment and so I couldn't see you at a better time," he said.

January is shaping up to be the deadliest month in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in years. Some 35 Palestinians have been killed in fighting, including 10 who were killed in an Israeli military raid in the flashpoint town of Jenin last Thursday.

On Friday, a Palestinian gunman killed seven people outside a synagogue in an east Jerusalem settlement on Friday. The next morning, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy shot and wounded two Israelis elsewhere in east Jerusalem.

Israel's options may be limited. Both shooters are believed to have acted individually and were not part of organized militant groups, and punitive steps against the broader population such as those promoted by Ben-Gvir could risk triggering even more violence. Israel has also pledged to "strengthen" West Bank settlements.

The U.S., like most of the international community, considers Israeli settlements on lands claimed by the Palestinians for their state as obstacles to peace. However, the Biden administration has yet to restore a decades-old legal opinion that the settlements are "illegitimate" that had been rescinded under former President Donald Trump.

Nor has it made any progress on its stated intent to re-open the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, which had been the main conduit for engagement with the Palestinians before Trump closed it. The closure was part of his decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to the contested city of Jerusalem, a step that infuriated the Palestinians.

The violence comes after months of Israeli arrest raids in the West Bank, which were launched after a wave of Palestinian attacks against Israelis in the spring of 2022 that killed 19 people.

Source: Times Of India

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US, Pakistan officials fear looming food crisis is ‘real concern’

Anwar Iqbal

February 1, 2023

WASHINGTON: A potential food crisis, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, the ever-rising inflation, and the devaluation of rupee “is a real concern in Pakistan”, US and Pakistani officials warned on Tuesday.

Participating in a discussion through a web-link between Washington and Islamabad, the officials also underlined the need for an evaluation and monitoring mechanism to curb corruption and mismanagement in post-flood reconstructions.

“Yes, it does,” said Paki­stan’s ambassador in the US Masood Khan, when the moderator, Adam Weinstein, described the challenges confronting Pak­istan as “a perfect storm” and asked if it worried Islamabad.

“We were directly affected by the Ukraine war. And it led to the shortages of wheat and fertilisers that we used to import from Ukraine,” said the ambassador. Since then, Pakistan was scrambling to get things right, but then came the floods and the situation worsened.

USAID director says it is in their interest to monitor Pakistan situation, try to find way to help

Mr Khan said agriculture was important not only for food security, but also brought about $4.4 billion through exports. “That’s why it has been a setback” for Pakistan, he said.

The moderator noted that so far, the US relationship with Pakistan has been focused mainly on the war on terror, ignoring larger issues, like climate change and natural disasters.

Changing focus

Director for USAID’s Office of Climate and Sustainable Growth at the US embassy in Islamabad Steve Rynecki, who described himself as a ‘development diplomat’, indicated that the policy was changing, and Washington was now focusing on other issues as well.

Climate change, he said, was one of the biggest international challenges of “our time” and “when you have instability brought on by man-made or natural disasters (like the floods in Pakistan), the ramifications and ripples can reach the US as well, whether in the form of refugees or insecurity.”

He said it was in America’s national security and economic interests to monitor the situation in Pakistan and “try to find a way to help”.

Ambassador Khan said that besides post-flood rehabilitation and reconstruction, “we also need to focus on macro-economic stability, because reconstruction and revitalisation of our economy must move in tandem.”

While talking about the generous pledges — of almost $10 billion — made at a recent UN-sponsored conference in Geneva, Ambassador Khan agreed with the moderator that all the pledges did not always materialize.

“Realistically speaking, all these pledges that are made at international conferences do not mature very easily, very quickly. But, at the same time, most of the pledges in Geneva have been made by multilateral institutions, banks for instance, and they have repurposed their earlier programmes,” he said.

“So, at least 90 per cent of this money would go to projects. That’s why, I remain optimistic that if we show competence, we can utilize all these funds.”

Pakistan, he said, would also appreciate an evaluation and monitoring mechanism by the lenders. “These are not grants, these are not grants that would be used by the government of Pakistan,” he added.

Parallel work to rebuild Pakistan

The moderator then reminded MrRynecki that both China and the United States were doing rehabilitation and reconstruction works in Pakistan and asked if they could coordinate their efforts.

“At this stage, it’s very much parallel,” said the US official. “We have plenty of work in our hands. We have partners that we are working with right now. And other countries in the region (excluding China) that are here to help, we definitely support them.”

Replying to a question about the possible misappropriation of flood aid, Ambassador Khan said: “It depends on what money we are talking about. If we are talking about money that is tied with certain projects by the World Bank or the ADB, they are responsible to monitor how that money is used. And the government would collaborate.”

But “if there are pure grants that have been handed over to the government of Pakistan, we would, even then, welcome any monitoring mechanism,” he added.

The ambassador pointed out that in situations like this, the charges of corruption were always there, but “the government of Pakistan and its institutions are committed to transparency and accountability, because we do not want to give this impression to the international community that somehow this assistance coming for flood relief and reconstruction is not being properly used.”

When the same question was posed to MrRynecki, he said USAID and other US foreign assistance providers, adhere to very strict guidance and rules provided by respective inspector general. “So, the inspector general sets the tone for how we are going to allocate and then monitor and see how things are going. There are many ways for people to report impropriety. And what we learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, we bring that to bear here in Pakistan in the current and future situations,” he added.

A wakeup call

The moderator noted that the flood was “a wakeup call” for a relationship that was “narrowly focused on the war on terror for two decades.”

Ambassador Khan said that the US and Pakistan have had a strategic partnership for the past 70 years, adding that Monday’s bombing in Peshawar showed that “supporting the war against terrorism is important”. But he agreed with the suggestion that Pakistan and the US have to recalibrate their relationship, devoting more time to environment, trade, investment and other issues.

Asked why the United States should care, the ambassador said: “The US should care because we have been a partner, a steadfast ally” for more than 70 years. The US absence from the region “will create violability and vulnerability that will hurt US interests as well,” Mr Khan said.

MrRynecki said Washington appreciated the importance of Pakistan and regarded it as a challenging area, and “the climate impact adds to the challenge”. Pakistan, he said, also offered “amazing opportunities” to an investor and US investors need to explore those opportunities.

Source: Dawn

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Blinken meets Abbas, presses for two-state solution

February 1, 2023

RAMALLAH: US Secre­tary of State Antony Blinken shuttled from Israel to the Palestinians’ West Bank on Tuesday, appealing for an end to resurgent violence and reaffirming Washington’s backing for a two-state solution to the decades-long conflict.

Blinken is urging calm on both sides after last week’s killing by a Palestinian gunman of seven people outside a Jerusalem synagogue and anger among Palestinians over actions by Israeli forces and settlers in the occupied West Bank.

“That’s the only way that we can create conditions in which people’s sense of security will start to improve,” he told a news conference in Jerusalem.

He took that message into a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, warning all parties against any action that could threaten a two-state solution, with an independent Palest­inian state alongside Israel.

Urges calm on both sides, end to resurgent violence

“We’ve been clear that this includes things like settlement expansion, the legalisation of outposts, demolitions and evictions, disruptions to the historic status of the holy sites, and of course incitement and acquiescence to violence.”

He said he had heard “deep concern” about the current trajectory in both Israel and the West Bank but also constructive ideas and he had asked senior officials to remain behind to continue talking.

A senior State Department official said the officials staying would be Barbara Leaf, the top department official for the Middle East, and Hady Amr, US special representative for Palestinian affairs.

Blinken’s first visit since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power this month at the head of one of the most right-wing governments in Israel’s history comes at a time of extreme tension between the two sides.

He said Palestinians were facing a “shrinking horizon of hope” that needed to change.

Amid rising anger at near-daily raids by Israeli forces in the West Bank, Abbas’ Pales­tinian Authority (PA) suspended its security cooperation agreement with Israel last week after the largest incursion in years. The operation saw Israeli forces penetrate deep into a refugee camp in the northern city of Jenin, setting off a gunfight in which 10 Palestinians died.

“The Israeli government is responsible for what is happening today, because of its practices that undermine the two-state solution and violate the signed agreements,” Abbas said after his meeting with Blinken.

Bloody January

In January alone, 35 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops, in the bloodiest month since 2015, while officials say attacks on Palestinian property by Israeli settlers have also increased. The raids have been going on almost daily for months as Israeli forces have stepped up a crackdown on militant groups in the West Bank following a spate of deadly attacks by Palestinians in Israel last year.

Blinken also highlighted US assistance to the Palestinian economy, which is heavily dependent on foreign aid. He said the United States would provide an extra $50 million in funding through the United Nations and that agreement had been reached on providing high speed 4G telecoms services to Palestinians.

Source: Dawn

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US senator blasts Turkey’s Erdogan, calls for sanctions and no F-16s

31 January ,2023

US Senator Chris Van Hollen slammed Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday, calling for new sanctions on Ankara as it continues to block NATO membership for Finland and Sweden.

The Democratic senator also criticized Turkey for its negative role in the fight against ISIS, particularly in Syria.

“I believe that Erdogan has taken Turkey down a very bad path, and we’re also witnessing this as we get toward the elections that he called for mid-May,” Van Hollen said.

Van Hollen cited “trumped-up charges” against the mayor of Istanbul and Erdogan’s cracking down on opposition parties. “So, he clearly is not playing by the rules of free and fair elections.”

Last week, Erdogan said his country’s parliamentary and presidential elections would take place in May.

Istanbul’s mayor EkremImamoglu was banned last year from politics due to criticism of Turkey’s Supreme Electoral Board after they called for another election following his landslide victory over Erdogan’s party.

But what has been drawing the ire of US officials and lawmakers is Turkey’s continued opposition to the bids of Finland and Sweden into the NATO alliance.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine last February, the West has convinced the two Nordic countries to apply for membership to NATO. But Turkey demanded concessions from Finland and Sweden, including the handing over of individuals that Turkey claims are terrorists.

And Turkey has threatened a land invasion into northern Syria against Kurdish fighters who have proven to be vital partners for the US in the fight against ISIS.

The Turkish threat has been put on hold for the time being following repeated warnings from the Biden administration and the Pentagon against moving ahead with such an operation.

Turkey also bombed a base in Syria last November, which the US said directly threatened the safety of US forces.

Asked about the road ahead with Turkey, the US senator, also a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said there needed to be coordination with the European Union to consider “potentially different kinds of sanctions” if Erdogan continues to block the entry of Finland and Sweden.

“You know, the Turkish economy is not in great shape,” Van Hollen said at an event with US-based Al-Monitor.

He also pointed out Turkey’s request to get US F-16 fighter jets. Turkey was previously kicked out of the F-35 joint strike fighter program because it purchased Russian air defense systems, which NATO allies said would threaten their security.

Since then, they have lobbied to acquire F-16s needed to update their current fleet of outdated jets.

The Biden administration has voiced support for the F-16 sale, reportedly worth around $20 billion. However, bipartisan opposition in both chambers of Congress makes this unlikely.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Canadian court convicts pair of assault of Muslim father

Barry Ellsworth 



A Canadian court Tuesday found two men guilty of assault of a Muslim father, an attack that displayed the "darkest side of humanity," the victim's wife said at a press conference following the verdict.

The unprovoked attack on Mohammed Abu Marzouk, which left the father of two with 10-15 skull fractures and brain bleeding, happened in July 2018.

Abu Marzouk, 39, his wife Diana Attar and their two daughters aged four and six, were about to head home after a picnic in Mississauga, a city adjacent to Toronto.

Two men came toward the vehicle and Abu Marzouk got out to speak to them. They had indicated that they had been hit or nearly so by the vehicle. One of the men struck Abu Marzouk in the face, and the beating began as his daughters watched from inside the van.

His wife begged them to stop and then saw a police car and ran for help. Abu Marzouk was found lying in a pool of blood coming from his head. He was rushed to a trauma center with life-threatening injuries. During the attack, the men were heard insulting and cursing Arabs.

Apparently taking those words into consideration, Superior Court Justice Fletcher Dawson characterized the assault as "anti-Arab, not anti-Muslim."

Attar called the vicious assault "the darkest side of humanity, one that we would not wish upon anyone."

The family has faced emotional, physical and financial hardship as a result of the attack, and Canada should do more to help victims, an official with the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) said in a statement.

“We need to change this pattern of neglect and hardship for survivors of such attacks,” said NCCM Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Nadia Hasan. “These survivors deserve help, yet as a country we have not done enough."

Source: Anadolu Agency

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US imposes sanctions on Iranian drone manufacturers

31 January 2023

The United States has slapped fresh sanctions against Iran, this time targeting drone manufacturers accusing them of producing drones that Russian forces used to attack Ukrainian targets.

The US Department of Commerce put new trade restrictions on seven Iranian companies and organizations on Tuesday, under the unsubstantiated and disproven pretext that the Islamic Republic has provided Russia with the UAVs to be used by Moscow against Ukraine.

These firms were allegedly engaged in hostile activities that were contrary to US national security and foreign policy interests, the department said.

The new additions, which will be officially published on Wednesday, were posted in a preliminary filing in the US Federal Register, the government's daily journal.

The seven Iranian entities targeted in the fresh US sanctions against Iran are the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Research and Self-Sufficiency Jihad Organization, Owj'eParvaz'e Ma Do Nafar Company, Pars Par-Avar Company, Qods Aviation Industries, Shahed Aviation Industries, Design and Manufacturing of Aircraft Engines Company, and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force.

The new directive by the US Commerce Department specifies that any firm aiming to sell its products to these 7 Iranian firms added to its "entities list" needed to apply for obtaining licenses to ship the goods and technology, which would probably be rejected by the officials.

Meanwhile, in a similar move, the European Union (EU) is reportedly planning to impose sanctions on dozens of Iranian individuals amid its efforts to blacklist Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps as a "terrorist organization,” despite Tehran expressing strong warnings about the consequences of such a hostile measure.

In this regard, an Iranian lawmaker voiced the nation's unwavering support for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for the role it plays in defending, not only the country but also, the world.

Gholamreza Shariati said earlier this week that the Daesh terrorist group would have reached the heart of Europe by now if it was not for the sacrifices made by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.

Shariati rebuked the countries that wanted to add the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to its  "terror list."

His remarks came after the European Parliament on Wednesday adopted an amendment calling on the EU and its member states to include the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on their "terror list." It also passed another resolution on Thursday, calling for more sanctions against Iranian individuals and entities and putting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the EU terrorist list over alleged human rights violations during the recent riots.

Shariati said if it were not for the Guards, the Daesh terrorist group “would have been in central Europe today.” The Guards risked their lives to secure the world, he reminded them.

Source: Press TV

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Ilhan Omar: US treats Africa as a threat that needed to be contained

31 January 2023

African American Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has said that “the United States has treated Africa as a threat that needed to be contained, a series of fires that needed to be put out, or a junior partner that needed to be disciplined.”

The Minnesota Democrat made the remarks in a statement on Tuesday as she announced to launch of the US-Africa Policy Working Group to benefit from officials and experts who work with and in Africa.

Omar said that the group will hold briefings with Biden administration officials, journalists and people affecting the relations between Africa and the United States.

She said that the group will focus mainly on conflicts within Africa and its global interests, as her House Foreign Affairs Committee assignment remains unclear.

“Our role must be as partners with the movements and civil society groups acting on the ground,” Omar said in the statement. “For far too long, the United States has treated Africa as a threat that needed to be contained, a series of fires that needed to be put out, or a junior partner that needed to be disciplined.”

She said that Congress has paid little attention to issues in Africa.

“Congress has historically paid scant attention to the continent except when extreme circumstances have prompted reactive responses. The US-Africa Policy Working Group will be a venue for the promotion of American values and American interests in our dealings with our African partners,” she said.

“It is my sincere hope that it will become a central player in creating lasting partnerships and building up a base of expertise so that Congress can be more actively involved in US policy in Africa, and help move the conversation forward for many years to come,” Omar continued.

McCarthy following playbook ‘used by demagogues throughout history’

New US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has vowed to remove Omar from her committee posts over her condemnation of Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians.

Omar hit back at McCarthy and his Republican Party, saying they "use fear, xenophobia, Islamophobia and racism to target me."

Omar on Sunday said some Republicans are “OK with Islamophobia” in response to questions about efforts by McCarthy to block her from continuing to sit on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

She also said McCarthy is following a political playbook “used by demagogues throughout history” by trying to “pit minority groups against each other” in his bid to remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

McCarthy attacked Omar, the first Somali American and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, for removal from House Foreign Affairs Committee.

In a thread on Twitter Sunday night, Omar cited repeated examples of Republicans making offensive comments about Muslims, and accused McCarthy of demagoguery.

“McCarthy is following a well worn playbook: pit minority groups against each other in order to further marginalize them. It has been used by demagogues throughout history and it won’t work,” Omar said on Twitter.

McCarthy “did nothing” when Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) “said Muslims don’t belong in our government” and when Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) called Omar “a terrorist,” the lawmaker argued.

“He did nothing when MTG wanted [Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)] & I kicked out of Congress unless we swore in on a Christian Bible. Spare me the GOP hypocrisy,” Omar said.

Along with US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, the two have triggered a widespread debate in the US about Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians and American aid to the regime.

Tlaib and Omar, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, are outspoken critics of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians and vocal supporters of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement. The two called “Israel” an “apartheid state” guilty of war crimes.

The 37-year-old US citizen and lawmaker is originally from Somalia and represents Minneapolis, Minnesota, a district with a large Somali population.

Source: Press TV

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Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu says considering military aid to Ukraine, mediation

Feb 1, 2023

WASHINGTON: Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday he was considering military aid to Ukraine and was willing to serve as a mediator, following US calls for more active involvement.

Netanyahu made no firm commitments to Ukraine and Israel has preserved a relationship with Russia, which controls the skies in neighboring Syria and has turned a blind eye to Israeli strikes on targets of arch-nemesis Iran.

Netanyahu was asked in an interview with CNN if Israel could provide assistance to Ukraine such as Iron Dome, the US-backed technology that defends Israel from air attack.

"Well, I'm certainly looking into it," Netanyahu said.

He confirmed that the United States has shifted a little-known stockpile of artillery it stations in Israel to Ukraine and he cast the Jewish state's own operations against Iran as part of a similar effort.

"The US just took a huge chunk of Israel's munitions and passed it on to Ukraine. Israel also, frankly, acts in ways that I will not itemize here against Iran's weapons productions which are used against Ukraine," he said.

Ukrainian and Western officials say Iran has sold low-cost drones to Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, although Tehran denies that.

Netanyahu said he was asked to mediate in an unofficial role after Russia invaded Ukraine in February but did not pursue it as he was then in opposition.

He said he was willing to mediate if asked by the parties and the United States.

"I've been around long enough to know that there has to be a right time and the right circumstances. If they arise, I'll certainly consider it," he said.

The remarks come after a visit by US secretary of state Antony Blinken, who called for calm following a flare-up of violence between Israel and the Palestinians and also nudged Israel to boost support to Ukraine.

Using language familiar to Israelis, Blinken said Ukraine needs assistance "as it bravely defends its people and its very right to exist."

Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen told Blinken that he would travel to Ukraine to reopen his country's embassy, the first such trip since the war.

Netanyahu's predecessor Naftali Bennett paid a surprise visit to Moscow in March to mediate with Putin.

Source: Times Of India

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Iran arrests 4 Sunni clerics, bans filmmaker from travel

January 31, 2023

Iran's intelligence forces have arrested at least four Sunni clerics in Kurdistan and Sistan-Baluchistan provinces over the past 24 hours, according to multiple opposition news outlets.

In the Kurdish city of Sanandaj, two clerics identified as Ebrahim Karimi Nanala and LoqmanAmini were detained and "taken to an unknown location," the Paris-based monitor, Kurdistan Human Rights Network reported on Monday.

As local imams, the two clerics had denounced the deadly clampdown on protests that have gripped Iran since mid-September, when 22-year-old MahsaAmini died in custody of Iran's notorious morality police.

At least one of the clerics has been seen addressing memorials held in honor of protesters killed in Sanandaj, one of the flashpoint cities witnessing much of the unrest. 

Elsewhere in another Kurdish city, Javanroud, a young cleric named Yasser Karimi was arrested on Tuesday, according to the Oslo-based Hengaw Kurdish rights agency. Last week, the same source reported on the case of SeifollahHoisseini, a popular Sunni cleric in the same city, who was handed down a 17-year jail term and 74 lashes by a special court, which found him guilty of security charges, after he lashed out at the killing of seven protesters in his city.

And in the south-eastern city of Zahedan, well-known religious figure Abdul-Majid Moradzehi was taken to custody, as confirmed by the government-run IRNA news agency, which said he was to face such charges as "disturbing public opinion through contact with foreign media." The arrest came after the cleric slammed the government's beefed-up security across the Sunni-populated area. 

Moradzehi is a close associate and aide to Iran's highest-ranking Sunni cleric, Mowlavi Abdul-Hamid, known for his fiery speeches during Friday prayers in the impoverished city. Abdlhmaid's sermons have gone increasingly fierce since September 30, when Iran's security forces killed around 100 unarmed protesters, among them the elderly and the disabled. 

The Islamic Republic's ongoing push to end the unrest and silence dissenting voices has targeted a spectrum much wider than in previous rounds of protests. Journalists, celebrities, actors, footballers and even chefs have either been arrested or placed under varying bans for their mildest expressions of sympathy with the protesters in their social media engagements. 

In the latest, the Iranian Independent Filmmakers Association reported that internationally-acclaimed director Masoud Kimiai had been banned from a foreign trip at Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport on Sunday. 

Individuals facing travel bans in Iran are not typically given a prior notice by the authorities, only to learn about such verdicts at passport gates before being pushed back upon departure.

Kimiai, 81, was to fly to the Netherlands to join the 2023 edition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam and screen his latest movie, "Killing a Traitor."

Source: AlMonitor

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Turkish Muslim community in Berlin seeks urgent solution to cemetery woes

As the Muslim population continues to grow in Germany and numbers approximately 5.3 million-5.6 million, the associations established by Muslims in the German capital Berlin are demanding concrete solutions for a lack of cemeteries where the devote can be buried as per Islamic methods.

Although Muslims who came to Germany as workers preferred to be buried in the country of their origin, a significant part of second and third generations of Muslim descendants, including the ones who came from Türkiye, want to be buried in the country they reside in, stating the presence of relatives who wish to visit their graves as a reason.

Despite the lack of cemeteries in the past, some regional municipalities allocated places for Muslims to have cemeteries, including in the capital Berlin, where there is a dense population of Muslims.

However, the situation is not the same in all regions, as Murat Gül, president of the Islamic Federation of Berlin (IF), which hosts 17 societies, explained to Anadolu Agency (AA). He said that two weeks ago, he received a letter from the Spandau District Office for Reconstruction, Planning, Environment and Nature Conservation stating that as of the end of March, there would be no empty space in the cemetery and no burial permits would be issued.

Explaining that they experienced a similar situation in 2018 and during the new year holiday period in 2021 when 20 funerals for the Muslim community were awaiting in Gatow as there was no place in the cemetery, Gül said that relevant offices and politicians he reached out to at the time stated the problem was temporary and would be solved.

However, Gül stated that, since the issue of Muslim cemeteries is a general problem of the city that concerns all districts, the Berlin state administration should directly deal with the issue.

Pointing out that the ''Berlin Muslim Cemeteries Initiative'' includes congregations from various countries and religious sects, Gül said that the Berlin state administration now had an addressee at the said initiative concerning Muslim tombs.

"More than 300,000 Muslims live in Berlin. This number will increase further in the coming years. The children and grandchildren of the first generation want to be buried here. It is a human right for the state to ensure that people are buried according to their religion. We want a permanent solution. This problem must be solved urgently," Gül urged.

Emphasizing that they are ready to work with the relevant authorities for a solution, Gül said that Muslims should not encounter this issue every two years.

YakupAyar, the president of the Turkish-Islamic Union of Religious Affairs in Berlin, also stated that Muslims in Berlin increasingly display the wish to be buried in the city.

Noting that only 10% of the Muslims buried in the Gatow cemetery, located on the western border of Berlin, came from the Spandau district, Ayar said that this cemetery appeals to almost all Muslims in Berlin. He called for adjustments, noting that cemeteries should be allocated in districts where a lot of Muslims live.


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Informed Source Says Iran Likely to Change Strategy on Ukraine War After Kiev's Comments on Drone Strike


Speaking to Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) outlet, Nour News, the unnamed source said hostile remarks by President Zelensky's aide can lead to "different reactions" from Tehran.

“Ukraine’s insistence on threatening Iran’s national security can pave the way for mulling a change in the positions of the Islamic Republic of Iran regarding the war in Ukraine and adopting a new approach proportionate to the behavior of the Kiev government,” the source added.

“If the hostile statements of Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the Ukrainian president, against Iran are not corrected by the country’s authorities, they can lead to different reactions by the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the source noted.

The Iranian Defense Ministry on Sunday announced that the country's air defense units had thwarted a drone strike on a military workshop in Isfahan. Tehran confirmed that the unsuccessful raid did not cause any loss of life and only led to minor damage to the roof of a workshop.

Podolyak has expressed his joy over the attack. The top official stated that “Ukraine did warn you". Other Ukrainian officials have yet to publicly expand on his comments.

On Monday, Tehran summoned the charge d’affaires of Kiev to explain Podolyak’s remarks on Ukraine’s possible involvement in the strike. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kana'ani has also called on the Ukrainian government to give an official and clear explanation about his comments. The Iranian diplomat stressed that Tehran reserves the legitimate and legal right to respond in kind to any party involved in acts that would violate international law.

Podolyak’s remarks come as a US official told Reuters that Israel appears to have been behind the drone attack.

Kiev and its Western allies have repeatedly claimed that Tehran has provided Russia with drones to be used in the war in Ukraine.

Iranian officials have repeatedly rejected claims about Tehran's arms sales to Russia to be used in the ongoing war against Ukraine, stressing such allegations are aimed at legitimizing the West's military assistance to Kiev.

They reiterated that Tehran will not help either side in the Russia-Ukraine crisis, and cautioned that arming Moscow or Kyiv will prolong the conflict between the two neighbors.

In Late February, President Vladimir Putin stated in response to a request by the heads of the Donbass republics he had made a decision to carry out a special military operation. The Russian leader stressed that Moscow had no plans of occupying Ukrainian territories.

The US, the EU, the UK and a number of other states have imposed sanctions against Russian legal entities and individuals. They also increased supplies of weapons to the Ukrainian authorities. Russia has officially become the most sanctioned country in the world, surpassing Iran, Syria and North Korea, after launching a military operation against Ukraine.

Back in September, Iranian PresdientSeyed Ebrahim Rayeesi cautioned that the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a serious threat to the stability and security of nations.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran's Intelligence Minister: Israeli Regime's Moves Sign of Desperation


'The Zionist regime, despite all the claims it is making, is collapsing from inside and the clear example of that is its internal rows, as well as the resistance by Palestinians," Khatib said.

The Iranian intelligence minister said that vigilant measures by the people of the region will lead to more “victorious steps” against the "Zionists".

He also advised Iran’s neighboring countries to stay away from a regime that is collapsing for their own security.

In relevant remarks last week, Khatib announced that more than 12 terrorist teams affiliated to the Israeli regime were dismantled in Iran.

"The terrorist teams, who were detained by intelligence forces in a short period of time, were planning to take revenge for their recent failures (in creating insecurity in Iran) by conducting operations," Khatib said.

Saying that the enemies' conspiracies have made the Iranian nation know them better, Khatib stressed that the country has successfully passed the recent sedition with the guidance of Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei and the unity of the Iranian people.

On January 10th, news sources reported that Iran's intelligence forces managed to identify and detain 13 members of 2 Mossad spying teams across the country. That was the second major intelligence and operational failure of the Zionist regime in less than 6 months.

Various types of operating equipment were also seized from them, the statement added.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran Calls for Australia's Accountability over Refugees' Deaths


"Continuation of the serial deaths of asylum seekers and the death of 500 aborigines in prisons of Australia might just be the tip of the iceberg of Human Rights violations there," Kana'ani wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

"Will the int'l community hold Canberra accountable?" he added.

His remarks came as an Iraqi refugee has died in an immigration detention centre in Australia. Authorities have launched an investigation into the death of the Iraqi detainee at the Villawood detention centre in Sydney's West.

The Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) announced the detainee had requested to be moved from a compound at the facility multiple times due to "tensions with other detainees".

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran Censures Europe's Instrumental Use of Human Rights to Meddle in Other Countries' Affairs


Kana'ani’s remarks came in reaction to the French president’s interventionist comments about the recent unrest in Iran. Emmanuel Macron made those remarks during the reception of a new batch of so-called human rights defenders in France within the Marianne Initiative, accusing Tehran of “oppressing women and young girls".

The Iranian spokesperson said officials of some European countries "use human rights as a tool" in their "political games" to interfere in other countries’ affairs.

"We condemn this destructive approach," the diplomat noted.

He added that Iran’s principled policy is respect for and abidance by the fundamentals of human rights, including the protection of human dignity and countering oppression.

“However, the false advocates of human rights are complicit in brazen violations of those rights through giving refuge to leaders and members of terrorist groups in their countries and supporting them, and by remaining silent in the face of the daily massacre of Palestinians by the infanticide Zionist regime and supporting aggression and occupation,” Kana'ani stated.

“Unfortunately, under the guise of defending freedom of expression, France considers Muslims' reaction against insults to the Holy Quran and their religious beliefs as an attack on laicity,” the official continued.

“However, they have forgotten that barring criticism of the Zionist regime is an indubitable violation of the principle of freedom of expression,” Kana'ani added.

Foreign ministry spokesman concluded by saying, “It is evident that such behavioral contradictions and double-standard policies will not be ignored by the world’s freedom-seeking and independent people.”

Tehran and Paris have been engaged in a diplomatic row over French meddlesome stance on recent unrest Iran.

Protests erupted in several cities across Iran over the death of MahsaAmini who fainted at a police station in mid-September and days later was pronounced dead at a hospital. The demonstrations soon turned violent.

An official report by Iran’s Legal Medicine Organization announced that Amini’s controversial death was caused by an illness rather than alleged blows to the head or other vital body organs.

Iranian officials blame Western countries for orchestrating the riots to destabilize the country.

The unrest has claimed the lives of dozens of people and security forces, while also allowing acts of terror and sabotage across the country. Iran's Interior Ministry has confirmed the enemy waged a hybrid war against the country to weaken national solidarity and hinder the country's progress, stressing that some 200 people lost their lives in the riots sparked by separatist and terrorist groups.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Tehran Raps US Politicians for Inverting Facts About Iran


"While the US intelligence and security services say Iran left behind the unrest and their support for Iran riots was futile, US congressmen voted for a resolution supporting riots in Iran!" Kana'ani wrote on Twitter on Monday, lambasting a US Congress’ resolution supporting the recent Western-instigated riots in Iran.

"They never want to accept the realities on Iran, but like the realities to be as they wish," the diplomat added.

The US House of Representatives has recently approved a resolution praising rioters in Iran, calling for more sanctions against Iranian individuals and organizations over alleged “human right violations” following the recent foreign-backed unrest in the country.

The resolution encourages the administration of US President Joe Biden “to immediately impose, under existing authorities, additional human rights sanctions on officials and entities responsible for the repression of the current protests".

Protests erupted in several cities across Iran over the death of MahsaAmini who fainted at a police station in mid-September and days later was pronounced dead at a hospital. The demonstrations soon turned violent.

An official report by Iran’s Legal Medicine Organization announced that Amini’s controversial death was caused by an illness rather than alleged blows to the head or other vital body organs.

Iranian officials blame Western countries for orchestrating the riots to destabilize the country.

The unrest has claimed the lives of dozens of people and security forces, while also allowing acts of terror and sabotage across the country. Iran's Interior Ministry has confirmed the enemy waged a hybrid war against the country to weaken national solidarity and hinder the country's progress, stressing that some 200 people lost their lives in the riots sparked by separatist and terrorist groups.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iranian Speaker Cautions Azerbaijan against Emotional Decisions


Qalibaf made the remark on Monday while addressing the 17th Conference of the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (PUIC) in Algiers, the capital city of Algeria.

"We deeply regret this incident and are conducting a painstaking and thorough follow-up [investigation] on it," Iran’s top parliamentarian told the PUIC Conference, echoing other Iranian officials' earlier remarks.

He underscored that Azeri officials are abreast of the full details of the investigation.

“I deem it necessary to emphasize that [making] emotional decisions on the two countries’ relations is what the common and ill-wishing enemies of the Islamic world, especially the Zionist regime, want. It is necessary to be vigilant and careful about any decision that could have long-term consequences [for bilateral relations],” Qalibaf stated.

The speaker reaffirmed that so far, there is no sign to demonstrate that it has been a terrorist attack.

A guard has been killed and two others wounded in an attack on Azerbaijan’s Embassy in Iran on Friday. The attacker broke through the guard post, killing the head of security and injuring two others with a Kalashnikov assault rifle.

Police in Tehran announced they have arrested the assailant.

Iranian officials have noted that the enemies of the two countries should not be allowed to take advantage of the incident which Tehran announced was not an act of terrorism.

Qalibaf's comments came after Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov said that Baku’s embassy in Tehran has suspended its work. According to the diplomat, Azerbaijan’s consulate general in Tabriz will continue to operate routinely.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Young couple in Iran sentenced to 21 years for dancing in public video: Report

31 January ,2023

Iran has sentenced a young couple to 21 years in prison after they posted a video of themselves dancing near Tehran’s Azadi Square, a human rights group reported on Tuesday.

AstiyazhHaghighi and her fiance Amir-Mohammad Ahmadi, both in their early 20s, were charged with “spreading corruption and vice,” “assembly and collusion with the intention of disrupting national security,” and engaging in anti-regime propaganda, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

The couple, who were arrested in their home on November 1 after publishing the video, have each been sentenced to 10 years and six months of imprisonment, a two-year ban on using the internet, and a two-years ban on leaving the country, according to HRANA.

In the video, Haghighi can be seen dancing without a hijab, which goes against the dress code for women in the Islamic Republic.

The verdict was issued by Branch 15 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, headed by Abolqasem Salavati, a notorious judge infamous for imposing severe punishments on individuals perceived as a threat to the Islamic Republic.

The couple were denied legal representation during the proceedings, HRANA said, citing a source close to Haghighi’s family.

Iranian authorities have not commented on the case.

The reported ruling came amid a crackdown by authorities against months of anti-regime protests that started after the death in police custody of Iranian Kurdish woman MahsaAmini on September 16.

Amini, 22, died shortly after her arrest by Tehran’s morality police for allegedly not complying with the regime’s strict hijab rules.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Blinken takes support for two-state solution to disillusioned Palestinians

31 January ,2023

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken moves to the West Bank on Tuesday, a day after calling for a halt to escalating violence and reaffirming Washington’s backing for a two-state solution to the decades-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Blinken appealed for calm on both sides following last week’s killing by a Palestinian gunman of seven people outside a synagogue in the worst such attack in the Jerusalem area for years, bringing the total of Israelis killed in attacks by Palestinians since 2022 to 33 with three Ukrainians also killed.

He will meet Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders deeply disillusioned after months of raids by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank that have killed more than 200 Palestinians, including civilians as well as militant fighters, since 2022.

In January alone, 35 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops, in the bloodiest month since 2015, while officials say attacks on Palestinian property by Israeli settlers have also increased.

Last week, the PA suspended its security cooperation agreement with Israel after the largest raid in years, when Israeli forces penetrated deep into the refugee camp in the northern city of Jenin, setting off a gunfight in which 10 Palestinians died.

Aid dependence

As well as reiterating his call for calm and US support for a two-state solution, Blinken is expected to discuss ways to help the Palestinian economy, heavily dependent on foreign aid.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, back in power at the head of one of the most right-wing governments in Israel’s history, has reinforced troops in the West Bank and promised measures to strengthen West Bank settlements but so far held off from more extreme steps.

On Tuesday, Blinken met Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, where they discussed cooperation to stop Iran developing a nuclear weapon as well the worsening security situation in the occupied West Bank.

“He also expressed concern over the deteriorating security situation in the West Bank, and emphasized the need for all parties to take steps to restore calm and de-escalate tensions,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Three alleged al-Qaeda militants killed in suspected US drone strike in Yemen

31 January ,2023

Three alleged al-Qaeda militants were killed in a suspected US drone strike in northeastern Yemen on Monday, local government officials said.

The attack was carried out on a car in Marib province, the scene of heavy fighting in 2021 in Yemen’s long-running civil war, the officials said.

“Three al-Qaeda members were killed in a strike by a drone that is believed to be American,” a government official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“The three were in a car in Wadi Obeida when they were targeted by the suspected US strike that killed them immediately.”

A second Marib government official confirmed the strike on al-Qaeda militants and the death toll. There was no immediate comment from Washington.

The United States considers Al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch - Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) - among the most dangerous branches of the global extremist network.

AQAP, and other militants loyal to ISIS, have thrived in the chaos of Yemen’s civil war.

AQAP has carried out operations against both the Houthis and government forces as well as sporadic attacks abroad.

Its leaders have been targeted by a US drone war for more than two decades, although the number of strikes has dropped off in recent years.

Source: Al Arabiya

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EU envoys return to Aden in support of Yemeni government’s military unity and peace efforts


January 31, 2023

AL-MUKALLA: A group of EU envoys to Yemen have returned to the southern port city of Aden, the country’s temporary capital, in a show of support for the internationally recognized government and its efforts to unite the nation’s fighting forces, stabilize the economy, and facilitate a peace agreement to end the war, Yemeni officials said.

The delegation, led by Gabriel Munuera Vinals, held talks on Tuesday with Rashad Al-Alimi, head of the Presidential Leadership Council, during which they reportedly discussed ways to promote peace, the government’s economic policies to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people, and the council’s efforts to unify the military and security forces and other armed groups under its command.

During a separate meeting with Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Mohsen Al-Daeri, the ambassadors praised the government’s commitment to the peace process and its efforts to unite the nation’s forces. They also discussed with Foreign Minister Ahmed Awadh bin Mubarak efforts to restore the UN-brokered truce.

A Yemeni government official, who asked to remain anonymous, told Arab News that the envoys visited Aden to show their support for the government but no new proposals for ending the conflict were discussed.

“They (the EU envoys) have nothing fresh to bring about peace, but rather (came) to reaffirm the international community’s support for the (Presidential Leadership) Council and the government after returning to Aden,” he said.

The UN’s special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, is expected to visit Aden next week, the official added.

The latest visit to Aden by EU ambassadors follows one in early December during which they similarly voiced support for the Yemeni government, while international mediators traveled between Sanaa, Aden and other cities in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade the warring factions to revive the UN-brokered truce that expired in October.

Meanwhile, three Al-Qaeda operatives were killed on Monday in a suspected US drone strike on the car in which they were traveling in the central province of Marib, according to local media reports.

They were in the remote Al-Samada area of Wadi Abeda region of Marib when a missile from the drone hit their vehicle, Al-Masdar Online reported. “The strike was precise and the car’s occupants were killed instantly,” it said.

Other local media outlets said Abu Hassan Al-Hadrami, an Al-Qaeda bomb maker who escaped a previous drone attack in the same area near Marib in December, was among the dead.

Elisabeth Kendall, a terrorism expert and mistress of Girton College at the University of Cambridge, told Arab News that Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has not confirmed the death of Al-Hadrami, or any other members recently killed.

“Neither AQAP’s official channels nor its main fan channels have confirmed the death of any operative by this name,” she said. “However, the group’s announcement of martyrs does tend to lag behind real-time events. AQAP has not announced any new martyrs since Jan. 7.”


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Abbas succession battle could ‘collapse’ Palestinian Authority: think tank

February 01, 2023

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: The future battle to succeed Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas could trigger “mass protest, repression” and the outright collapse of the Palestinian Authority, the International Crisis Group (ICG) said Wednesday.

The think tank released its forecast a day after the aging and increasingly unpopular 87-year-old Abbas met in Ramallah with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was in the region to urge calm amid a spike in Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Given Abbas’s age and persistent rumors about his poor health, speculation on his successor is common in the occupied West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority (PA) is based.

The Brussels-based ICG predicted in its report that “elections based on legal procedures” were “the least likely” outcome when Abbas vacates the presidency.

Abbas heads the PA, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Fatah, the secular political movement founded by the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Abbas was elected president after Arafat died in 2004. Palestinians have had no presidential elections since.

The report says Abbas, who has been unwilling to designate a successor, has also “hollowed out or disabled the institutions and procedures that would otherwise decide who will take his place.”

It is therefore “unclear who will succeed him, and by what process,” ICG said, warning of a possible “descent into mass protest, repression, violence and even the PA’s collapse.”

According to the report, any last-ditch effort to name a successor to ease a transition process “would go awry.”

Abbas has repeatedly called off plans to hold presidential polls, as recently as 2021 when he scrapped scheduled elections citing Israel’s refusal to allow voting in annexed east Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim as their future capital.

Palestinian experts widely suspected Abbas backed away from the polls over fears Fatah would be trounced by Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip.

While Abbas has not named a successor, he has elevated PA civil affairs minister Hussein Al-Sheikh, who he tapped for the number two spot in the PLO.

The ICG report names Sheikh and PA intelligence chief Majid Faraj as possible successors.

Though the two men hold significant power within the PA and are seen as able to work with the international community, the report notes “neither has been able to win much support in Palestinian society.”

It identifies second-tier “would-be successors,” among them Palestinian Football Association chief Jibril Rajoub, prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh and Mohammed Dahlan, a former Gaza security chief exiled to the United Arab Emirates after falling out with Abbas.

Source: Arab News

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Israeli minister threatens Palestinians with death penalty by ‘electric chair’ amid surging tensions

31 January 2023

Far-right Israeli minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has threatened Palestinians with execution by the "electric chair" following the latest round of violence by regime forces across the occupied Palestinian territories.

Speaking at a meeting of his extremist party, Ben-Gvir vowed to push the Israeli parliament, known as the Knesset, to pass a bill to use the electric chair death penalty for Palestinians involved in retaliatory operations and attacks against Israeli military forces and settlers.

"Anyone who murders, harms, and slaughters civilians should be sent to the electric chair," Ben-Gvir said.

The far-right Israeli minister also said he had called for the imposition of a curfew on Palestinian neighborhoods that pose a threat to Israel and the apprehension of those holding weapons.

The threat was made as Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday vowed a "strong, swift and precise" response to the latest retaliatory attacks and said his cabinet, comprised of a group of hardline politicians, had decided to expedite gun permits for Israeli people to defend against Palestinian street attacks.

Netanyahu also said more soldiers and police would be deployed in the occupied territories, and security forces would embark on a series of operations to gather intelligence, confiscate illegal firearms, and carry out arrests.

Tension has flared up in the occupied Palestinian territories in recent days. In a shooting operation carried out on Friday near a synagogue in an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied al-Quds seven illegal settlers were killed and 10 others wounded. Two illegal settlers were also injured in another shooting attack in the same area on Saturday.

On Thursday, the Israeli regime's forces raided the city of Jenin and its neighboring refugee camp in the north of the occupied West Bank, gunning down nine Palestinians.

Palestinian resistance groups have hailed the retaliatory operation near the synagogue, describing it as a "direct response" to the deadliest Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank in years.

The Israeli raid comes in the context of recent escalations that have been on the rise, especially in light of the new extremist far-right cabinet headed by Netanyahu and his extremist affiliates.

Over the past months, Israel has ramped up attacks on Palestinian towns and cities throughout the occupied territories. As a result of these attacks, dozens of Palestinians have lost their lives and many others have been arrested.

Most of the raids have focused on Nablus and Jenin, where Israeli forces have been trying to stifle a growing Palestinian resistance in the occupied cities.

More than 170 Palestinians, including at least 30 children, were killed across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem last year. In January 2023 alone, at least 38 Palestinians including five children have been killed.

Source: Press TV

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