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Islamic World News ( 27 Jan 2021, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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No Piece Of Land On This Earth Where Namaz Is Offered To Almighty Allah Can Be ‘Haram’: Ayodhya Mosque Trust Hits Back At Asaduddin Owaisi


New Age Islam News Bureau

28 January 2021

 

Ayodhya mosque Blueprint

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• Indian-Origin Teenager, a Protestant Christian, Detained In Singapore For Planning Attack On 2 Mosques On The Anniversary Of New Zealand’s Christchurch Attacks

• Israel-Sudan Signing Ceremony In Washington In Next Three Months, Israeli Intelligence Minister

• UK, Canada Pledged On Defending ‘Media Freedom’ In Afghanistan

• US Will Continue To Work With Israel To Advance Regional Peace: US Secretary Of State

• SC Orders Release Of Prime Accused In Daniel Pearl Murder

• Taliban Calls on Biden to Follow Trump's Peace Plan in Afghanistan

• Iran: No Way for US but to End Interference in Afghanistan

 

India

• No Piece Of Land On This Earth Where Namaz Is Offered To Almighty Allah Can Be ‘Haram’: Ayodhya Mosque Trust Hits Back At Asaduddin Owaisi

• Prakasam, Andhra Pradesh: A Son From Every Household In This Muslim Village Joins Indian Army

• PM Asked Me Why I Wasn’t Letting Bills Be Passed Amid Din: Hamid Ansari In Book

• Congress leader, over 200 Muslim youths join BJP in Bharuch

• Mamata Created Communal Divide, Did More Harm To Muslims: Head Of Furfura Sharif

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Southeast Asia

• Indian-Origin Teenager, a Protestant Christian, Detained In Singapore For Planning Attack On 2 Mosques On The Anniversary Of New Zealand’s Christchurch Attacks

• Maldives police say they uncovered plot to attack school

• We stand with Southeast Asian nations against Chinese pressure, says US

• Hundreds of Rohingya disappear from refugee camp in Indonesia

China ‘concerned’ about seizure of oil tankers by Indonesia

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Africa

• Israel-Sudan Signing Ceremony In Washington In Next Three Months, Israeli Intelligence Minister

• Office of Tunisia’s president receives envelope with suspicious powder, says source

• Tunisian press syndicate criticize police over night arrest of photojournalist

• Mali, French forces kill 100 jihadists

• Morocco’s domestic spy agency helps FBI foil terror attack in NY

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Europe

• UK, Canada Pledged On Defending ‘Media Freedom’ In Afghanistan

• Turkey-Greece talks held in ‘very positive’ atmosphere, Ankara says

• Russia opposed to widening scope of Iran nuclear deal if US rejoin

• Russia ready to export Iran’s surplus enriched uranium if US rejoined JCPOA: Deputy FM

• 'I'm no Marvel villain' says Bristol terror defendant

• Tajik IS cell member in Germany jailed for 7 years

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North America

• US Will Continue To Work With Israel To Advance Regional Peace: US Secretary Of State

• US will not return to Iran deal before Tehran comes back into ‘full compliance’

• US flies B-52 bomber over Middle East to ‘deter aggression’ amid Iran tensions

• Nationwide terrorism alert issued in US after potential threat from anti-Biden groups

• Biden administration suspends F-35 sale to UAE

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Pakistan

• SC Orders Release Of Prime Accused In Daniel Pearl Murder

• Owner Of Raj Kapoor’s Pak Home Refuses To Sell

• Pakistani Suspect Admits To Role In Daniel Pearl’s Killing

• Mosque prayer leader found dead in Lahore with throat slit

• PTI’s Buzdar-weary MPAs a threat to party’s Senate ambitions

• Students threaten country-wide agitation tomorrow

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South Asia

• Taliban Calls on Biden to Follow Trump's Peace Plan in Afghanistan

• Taliban, Iran Hold Talks, Accuse US Of Pushing War In Afghanistan

• Bangladesh To Move Thousands More Rohingya Muslims To Remote Island Despite Criticism

• ‘The Finest Supermarket in Kabul’, the tale of a tragic bombing in Afghanistan

• Taliban endorses Covid vaccination drive as WHO pledges to aid Afghanistan

• Iran, Taliban officials say US pushing war in Afghanistan

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Mideast

• Iran: No Way for US but to End Interference in Afghanistan

• Thousands of Iranian Patients Ask UN Chief to Remove US Sanctions for Untroubled Access to Medicine

• Top Security Official: Iran Not to Recognize Movements Empowered with War in Afghanistan

• Rouhani Blasts EU Troika for Non-Compliance with N. Deal Obligations

• Iran Castigates Germany’s Arming of Ex-Iraqi Dictator Saddam with WMDs

• Iran will ‘demolish’ Tel Aviv, Haifa if attacked by Israel, warns top IRGC commander

• Palestine welcomes US President Biden’s commitment to two-state solution

• Israel waging ‘psychological war,’ says top Iranian official

• Turkey's authorities detain 126 suspects over ties to ISIS in nationwide operation

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Australia

• Uncle Hashim Awarded Order Of Australia Medal For service to the Canberra Muslim and Malaysian Community

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/no-piece-land-this-earth/d/124167

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Ayodhya mosque Blueprint

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No Piece Of Land On This Earth Where Namaz Is Offered To Almighty Allah Can Be ‘Haram’: Ayodhya Mosque Trust Hits Back At Asaduddin Owaisi

Jan 28, 2021

AYODHYA: In a sharp riposte to AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi’s statement in Bidar, Karnataka, that the Ayodhya mosque on 5acre land was ‘Haram’ (un-Islamic), secretary of the Ayodhya mosque Trust, Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation (IICF), Athar Hussain, said, “Owaisi is a Hyderabadi politician and his remarks are part of his political agenda. Also, no piece of land on this earth can be ‘Haram’, where Namaz (prayer) is offered to Almighty Allah.”

Taking Owaisi head-on, Hussain said, “Owaisi comes from a region, which has not borne the struggle or felt the trauma of the first war of independence. It’s possible his ancestors never took part in the 1857 revolt against the British. We are from Awadh, which was the crucible of revolution and we are dedicating the IICF centre in Ayodhya in the memory of one of our greatest freedom fighters, Ahmadullah Shah, who liberated Faizabad from the British for at least a year. Is commemorating the martyrdom of Ahmadullah Shah by naming the centre after him, ‘Haram’ too?

Speaking at an event in Bidar on Tuesday, AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi, said the Ayodhya mosque was against Islamic tenets and so was offering prayers and donating for its construction.

Talking exclusively to TOI, Athar Husain said, “I don’t think the land where we do ‘sajda’ (bow in obeisance) to Almighty Allah land can be ‘haraam’. I don’t think our charity hospital, which will heal and serve hundreds of sick and infirm free of cost will be ‘haraam’. Feeding the hungry is part of our deen (religion) and our community kitchen that will feed 2,000 people every day cannot be un-Islamic.”

The greenfield mosque complex will house a library and museum will tell people about Islam, sacrifice of Muslims for India and raise concern about climate change, he said, adding “Owaisi should rethink his statement, leave aside his narrow political agenda and not call service to humanity as haraam.”

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/serving-humanity-is-not-haraam-ayodhya-mosque-trust-hits-back-at-owaisi/articleshow/80489339.cms

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Indian-Origin Teenager, a Protestant Christian, Detained In Singapore For Planning Attack On 2 Mosques On The Anniversary Of New Zealand’s Christchurch Attacks

January 27, 2021

 

The Assyafaah Mosque was among the two Singapore mosques the boy planned to attack

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Singaporean authorities last month detained a 16-year-old boy of Indian descent for planning to attack two mosques in March, on the anniversary of New Zealand’s Christchurch attacks.

The teenager, a Protestant Christian, was planning to use a machete to attack Muslims at the two mosques. He was detained by the authorities under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

Singapore’s Internal Security Department (ISD) on Wednesday said that the accused is the youngest person to be dealt with under the ISA for terrorism-related activities.

He is the first detainee in the city-state to be inspired by far-right extremist ideology, the local media reported, citing the ISD release.

The ISD stated that the teen was influenced by the 2019 terror attacks at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in which 51 people were killed.

“He was self-radicalised, motivated by a strong antipathy towards Islam and a fascination with violence,” the ISD said.

He watched the livestream video of the terrorist attack on the two mosques in Christchurch on March 15, 2019, and read the manifesto of the attacker, Brenton Tarrant, a white supremacist, it said.

“He had also watched Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) propaganda videos, and came to the erroneous conclusion that ISIS represented Islam, and that Islam called on its followers to kill non-believers,” it said.

Before the attack in March 2019, Tarrant, an Australian, had put up online posts that contained anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and Right-Wing extremist views. He had mounted a camera on his head, and live-streamed the attack. He received a life sentence in August 2020.

The ISD said it was “clear” from the teen’s attack plans and preparation that he was influenced by Tarrant’s actions and manifesto.

The teenager had chosen Assyafaah Mosque and Yusof Ishak Mosque as his targets because they were near his home, the ISD said, adding that he conducted online reconnaissance and research using Google Maps and Street View on both mosques to prepare for the attacks. He planned his travel route, identified mosque entrances and where to park his vehicle, the ISD said.

To prepare himself for the knife attack, the teen watched YouTube videos, it said, and was confident of hitting the arteries of his targets by randomly slashing at their neck and chest areas.

At the time of his arrest, the teen had found his choice of machete on Carousell and added it to his favourite listings, but had not bought it yet, it added.

Before deciding on the machete as his attack weapon, the ISD said his “original plan” was to use an assault rifle similar to that used by Tarrant.

The teen also explored making a triacetone triperoxide (TATP) bomb, and setting fire to the mosques using gasoline.

“He eventually dropped both ideas due to logistical and personal safety concerns,” ISD said.

In further imitation of Tarrant, ISD said the teen had prepared two documents that he wanted to disseminate prior to his attacks.

The first was a message to the people of France, which he drafted after the attack against Christians in a church in Nice in October last year.

The second document, which ISD said was still unfinished when he was arrested, was a manifesto detailing his hatred for Islam and his belief that “violence should never be solved with peace”.

The ISD said the detailed planning and preparation attested to the teen’s determination to follow through with his attack plan.

According to ISD, investigations so far indicate that the youth had acted alone, with no indication that he tried to influence anyone with his extreme outlook or involve others in his attack plans.

https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/indian-origin-teenager-detained-in-singapore-for-planning-christchurch-like-attack-1763325-2021-01-27

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Israel-Sudan Signing Ceremony In Washington In Next Three Months, Israeli Intelligence Minister

27 January 2021

 

Israeli minister of intelligence Elie Cohen during his visit to Sudan, Monday. (ANA)

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Israel and Sudan will finalize a diplomatic deal to normalize relations at a signing ceremony in Washington in the next three months, Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen said on Wednesday.

There was no immediate comment from Sudanese officials or from the US embassy in Israel.

Sudan’s civilian government has said the deal to normalize relations with Israel can only take effect once approved by a transitional legislative council that is yet to be formed.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Sudan joined the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco last year in agreeing to move toward normal relations with Israel in US-brokered deals. The new US administration of President Joe Biden has said it wants to build on those deals.

“The peace agreement’s draft is progressing and a signing ceremony for Israel and Sudan is expected in Washington in the next three months,” Cohen told Israel’s Ynet TV.

Cohen headed a delegation to Sudan on Monday to discuss advancing the normalization deal. He told Ynet TV that officials discussed three economic plans as well as border security.

Cohen said he brought his hosts oil and fruit from the Holy Land and as a parting gift received an M16 rifle.

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/01/27/Israel-relations-Israel-Sudan-signing-ceremony-in-Washington-in-next-three-months-minister-says

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UK, Canada pledged on defending ‘media freedom’ in Afghanistan

By Mohammad Haroon Alim

27 Jan 2021

In a joint statement embassies of the UK and Canada in Afghanistan, both marked the first anniversary of Afghanistan signing the Global Pledge on Media Freedom and joining the Media Freedom Coalition.

The Coalition is a partnership of 37 countries working to defend media freedom wherever it is threatened, the statement read.

“As co-chairs of the Global Campaign for Media Freedom, the UK and Canada reflect today upon the progress made to defend media freedom in Afghanistan. In July 2020, the Afghan Lower House of Parliament rejected amendments to the Mass Media Law, which would have had concerning implications for Afghan press freedom. Members of Afghanistan’s media community came together in solidarity, and we welcome the government’s decision to consult with them on any future changes”, UK and Canada said in the statement.

Both of the embassies indicated that the threat to the safety of journalists and media professionals still remains an obstacle to the full implementation of the Right to freedom of expression in Afghanistan, adding that “Unfortunately, Afghan journalists have faced growing levels of violence and insecurity over the past year. Members of the media, human rights activists, and other prominent members of civil society have been threatened, injured, or killed in targeted attacks – many of which are attributable to the Taliban and their proxies”.

Both nations in Afghanistan condemned the acts of violence and threats against people who want a developed and safer Afghanistan.

“We condemn all acts of violence, threats, censorship, and intimidation towards those who are fighting to create a safer, fairer Afghanistan.” the statement from the embassies read.

The statement noted that media outlets work “tirelessly to uncover the truth” and “bravely report on it”.

Canada and Britain demanded, “there must be full and transparent investigations into these heinous targeted attacks” and both nations conveyed their deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those who were killed.

“All parties to the conflict in Afghanistan have a moral responsibility to end violence as a demonstration of their commitment to peace. We expect parties to the Afghan peace negotiations, including the Taliban, to publicly condemn the targeted attacks on members of the media, civil society organizations, and the government”, the statement added, “We also call for greater support from each side for the protection of journalists and the freedom of expression”.

“Freedom of media and expression is a cornerstone of a democratic society and is essential for the protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms. Attacks on media freedom are attacks on human rights,” the statement read.

Media has been of the biggest successes of the last two decades and it should not be allowed to falter in the face of growing insecurity, the joint statement read.

UK and Canada reiterated their commitment to work collaboratively with Afghanistan to defend its media and courageous journalists.

“Where media representatives are free to do their work safely, societies are more prosperous and resilient,” the statement concluded.

Deputy Minister of Interior Affairs for Strategy and Policies Sediq Sediqqi tweeted on Wednesday, that “the Afghan government will deter enemies’ any attempt to falter or silence our media. We will stand firm to uphold one of our best gains of the past twenty years with our international allies who helped us to achieve it. No to dark ages”.

https://www.khaama.com/uk-canada-pledges-on-defending-media-freedom-in-afghanistan-445544/

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US will continue to work with Israel to advance regional peace: US Secretary of State

28 January 2021

The United States reaffirms its commitment to Israel’s security and will continue to work closely with the country to advance peace in the region, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

Blinken in a call with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, applauded recent progress made with the Abraham Accords and affirmed US interest in building further on that progress, according to a statement by the US State Department.

“Foreign Minister Ashkenazi and Secretary Blinken acknowledged the steadfast partnership between the United States and Israel, and that the two countries would work closely together on challenges ahead,” it said.

The so-called Abraham Accords is a US-brokered agreement to normalize diplomatic ties between Israel and Arab and Muslim countries. In the past few months, Israel reached deals with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco as part of the accords.

While US President Joe Biden is expected to move US foreign policy away from Trump’s “America First” posture, the Democrat has indicated he would continue with the pursuit of the Abraham Accords.

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/01/28/Israel-relations-US-will-continue-to-work-with-Israel-to-advance-regional-peace-US-Secretary-of-State

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SC orders release of prime accused in Daniel Pearl murder

Haseeb Bhatti

January 28, 2021

The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered authorities to release Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the principal accused in the 2002 beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl, dismissing appeals by the Sindh government and Pearl's family against the Sindh High Court (SHC) order for his immediate release.

The short order was issued by a three-judge SC bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam. One member of the bench opposed the decision.

“The court has come out to say that there is no offence that he has committed in this case,” Mahmood Sheikh, who represented Sheikh, told AFP.

The attorney added that the court had ordered that three others, who had been sentenced to life in prison for their part in Pearl's kidnapping and death, also be freed.

"Today's decision is a complete travesty of justice and the release of these killers puts in danger journalists everywhere and the people of Pakistan," the Pearl family said in a statement released by their lawyer.

On Wednesday, Sheikh — after 18 years of denial — told the SC he played a "minor” role in the killing.

A letter handwritten by Sheikh in 2019, in which he admits limited involvement in the killing of the Wall Street Journal reporter, was submitted to the Supreme Court nearly two weeks ago. It wasn't until Wednesday that Sheikh's lawyers confirmed their client wrote it.

Nowhere in the three-page letter addressed to the SHC did the British-born Sheikh elaborate or say exactly what his allegedly minor role in Pearl's slaying involved.

Daniel Pearl, 38, was doing research on religious extremism in Karachi when he was abducted in January 2002. A graphic video showing his decapitation was delivered to the US consulate a month later. Subsequently, Sheikh was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to death by a trial court.

In its April 2, 2020, order, the SHC had overturned the conviction of Omar Sheikh for killing the South Asia bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal but had maintained his conviction on a lesser charge of abetting the kidnapping, for which he was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Since Sheikh had been incarcerated since 2002, that sentence was counted as time served by the high court. The SHC had also acquitted three other men namely Fahad Naseem, Sheikh Adil and Salman Saqib, who had been earlier sentenced to life imprisonment by an Anti-Terrorism Court in Karachi.

After their acquittal on charges of murder, instead of releasing the men, the provincial government placed them under 90-day detention under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) Ordinance, saying their release posed a threat to security.

On July 1, a fresh notification under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, was issued to extend their detention by three months and later their confinement was extended for yet another 90 days.

But in December, the high court accepted a petition by the men against their continued detention and ordered their immediate release, declaring all notifications of the Sindh government related to their detention "null and void".

Following the SHC order, the Sindh government as well as Pearl's parents had filed separate appeals with the Supreme Court against the release of Sheikh. They had also filed appeals against Sheikh's acquittal, a decision on which has not yet been announced by the apex court.

During today's hearing, the Sindh advocate general told the court that the prime accused had links to banned outfits. He said that the provincial government had handed over sensitive information to the court in a sealed envelope. "There is evidence but not enough to prove it in court," he said.

At this, Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked that the evidence handed over to the court had not been presented earlier "at any forum".

"How can we review information that is not a part of any record?" he questioned.

Justice Muneeb Akhtar said that government had not declared the accused as an "enemy agent". "No one knows when the war against terrorism will end. The state declaring its citizens as an enemy is dangerous in itself," he said.

To this the Sindh advocate general replied that a person waging war against the country is called an enemy of the state.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1604095/sc-orders-release-of-prime-accused-in-daniel-pearl-murder

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Taliban Calls on Biden to Follow Trump's Peace Plan in Afghanistan

BY TOM O'CONNOR

1/26/21

The Taliban has called on President Joe Biden to follow through with the landmark peace deal reached between his predecessor and the Afghan Islamist movement amid concerns that the new U.S. administration could reconsider the agreement.

Trump struck the historic accord last February, promising to pull troops from the longest war in U.S. history in exchange for peace and power-sharing between the internationally-recognized government in Kabul and the Taliban, officially known as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

Ongoing violence and lingering political disputes have elicited a degree of skepticism of the arrangement at home and abroad, but the Taliban remain steadfast in their support for the pact.

"The goal is the independence of the country and the stability of peace in it," Taliban spokesperson Mohammad Naeem said in a statement sent to Newsweek. "The agreement reached between the Islamic Emirate and the United States of America is the best means for this."

While Biden too has offered support for an exit from Afghanistan, he and his officials have also signaled some reservations with the arrangement they inherited less than a week ago. National security adviser Jake Sullivan discussed the matter Friday with Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib.

Sullivan "underscored that the U.S. will support the peace process with a robust and regional diplomatic effort, which will aim to help the two sides achieve a durable and just political settlement and permanent ceasefire," according to a White House readout.

The statement announced that the Biden administration would review the peace agreement signed nearly a year ago.

"[Sullivan] also made clear the United States' intention to review the February 2020 U.S.-Taliban agreement," the statement said, "including to assess whether the Taliban was living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence in Afghanistan, and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders."

In the wake of this call, Naeem reiterated his group's commitment and emphasized the need for the new administration to demonstrates its own as well.

"Everyone must abide by what they pledged in the agreement," Naeem told Newsweek. "We, on our part, are committed to what we pledged, and we want the other side to also abide by what is pledged in the agreement. With this, we can reach the desired goal."

As for the Afghan government, the prospect of a U.S. review of Taliban adherence to the peace agreement was welcomed by senior officials.

Mohib said he "reaffirmed that Afghanistan remains committed to our foundational partnership with the United States and we will work closely together on security, peace, counter-terrorism and regional engagement" during his call with Sullivan.

"We agreed to work toward a permanent ceasefire and a just and durable peace in a democratic Afghanistan capable of preserving the gains of the past two decades, protecting the rights of all Afghans, and continuing the reforms," Mohib said in a statement.

Afghan Deputy Interior Minister for Strategy and Policies Sediq Sediqqi tweeted Friday that the peace agreement "so far, did not deliver a desired goal of ending Taliban's violence and bringing a ceasefire desired by the Afghans. The Taliban did not live up to its commitments."

The following day, Afghan High Council for National Reconciliation Chairman Abdullah Abdullah met with U.S. chargé d'affaires to Afghanistan Ross Wilson and NATO Operation Resolute Support commander U.S. Army General Scott Miller to discuss "views on the peace process, the second round of talks, & the latest political & security developments in the country," Abdullah tweeted.

Contacted for comments, Afghan ambassador to the U.S. Roya Rahmani referred Newsweek to her op-ed published Tuesday in the Washington Post.

"Important progress is being made on peace, but Afghanistan has experienced unprecedented levels of violence since the U.S.-Taliban agreement was signed last year. Although peace talks are ongoing in Doha, Qatar, the Afghan people have not seen peace manifest on the ground," Rahmani wrote.

"We know the peace process is just that, a process, and we must have patience," she continued. "But we must also remember how much is at stake in these negotiations. Every day, men, women and children live in fear of losing their rights, their democracy or even their very lives."

She stated that the "Biden administration will have to grapple with this stark reality as they formulate their policy in Afghanistan, and the deadline for making a decision is rapidly approaching," taking note of the May 2021 deadline for the total exit of U.S. troops.

"Given that the conditions have been repeatedly violated, the United States must now decide how to proceed," she added.

Biden has become the fourth U.S. president to oversee military operations in Afghanistan, a conflict now in its 20th year. Launched in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the U.S.-led war decimated the Taliban rule accused of harboring Al-Qaeda militants, but sparked a retaliatory insurgency that has retaken large swathes of the nation in the years since.

Al-Qaeda was formed in Afghanistan during the 1980s Soviet war there against rebel mujahideen, which received CIA support. The insurgent victory led to warring factions and the formation of the Taliban in the 1990s, which dominated the power struggle through the turn of the century.

Among the core principles of the group's peace agreement with the U.S. is that Afghanistan would not be allowed to ever again be used as a safe haven for designated foreign terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda, or the Islamic State militant group, which has also set up a local jihadi outfit known as ISIS-Khorasan.

The group, also called ISIS-K, has been implicated in a number of bloody events over a recent spate of violence that some Afghan officials have also blamed on the Taliban. Recent attacks have targeted government officials, security forces, civilians and women of various backgrounds, including judges, journalists and intellectuals.

Two female judges from Afghanistan's Supreme Court were gunned down last week in the capital by assailants in a still unclaimed attack for which the Taliban has denied responsibility.

Also stirring tensions between the rival Afghan factions is the issue of prisoners. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's administration has released more than 5,000 Taliban detainees in exchange for about 1,000 security personnel under rebel custody.

Mohin revealed to local press Sunday that up to 600 Taliban members had been arrested once again, allegedly for rejoining the ranks of the armed movement.

Meanwhile, other nations have also deepened their involvement in Afghanistan's political future. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, whose country is a key player in facilitating diplomacy with the Taliban, urged the Biden administration on Saturday to commit to the existing peace agreement as arranged by Trump, and on Tuesday, a Taliban delegation arrived for talks in Iran, a U.S. rival also calling for a timely U.S. military exit from Afghanistan.

The Afghan Foreign Ministry issued statements in response to both events, expressing appreciation for "the efforts of all parties who sincerely support the Afghan peace process," while also criticizing the Taliban for allegedly disregarding the deal.

"We hope that the Taliban will comply with the legitimate demands of the Afghan people to stop the bloodshed and ensure lasting peace, and respect the strong request of the countries of the region and the world to secure a ceasefire and reach a comprehensive peace agreement through meaningful and honest dialogue," the ministry said Tuesday. "The Taliban need to know that their current way of continuing the war and bloodshed is widely hated both in Afghanistan and in the region and the world."

Iran, Russia and China have all rejected U.S. accusations of direct support for the Taliban throughout Trump's tenure in office. Biden discussed "reports of Russia placing bounties on United States soldiers in Afghanistan" and other areas of friction between Washington and Moscow during a call Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Biden has suggested a foreign policy approach that would more readily take into conversations with U.S. allies and partners around the world. At the same time, he has used language mirroring that of Trump, who announced a drawdown of U.S. troops to 2,500 in his final weeks in office.

"Biden will end the forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, which have cost us untold blood and treasure," the president's official website states. "As he has long argued, Biden will bring the vast majority of our troops home from Afghanistan and narrowly focus our mission on Al-Qaeda and ISIS."

https://www.newsweek.com/taliban-call-biden-follow-trump-peace-plan-afghanistan-1564598?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1941451_

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Iran: No Way for US but to End Interference in Afghanistan

2021-January-27

“We believe that intra-Afghan talks are the only peaceful and sustainable solution to (help) Afghanistan and therefore, we think that the only peaceful solution which will lead to stability is keeping the achievements of years of struggle for Afghanistan, where all Afghan groups will be able to play a role in its future,” Khatibzadeh told reporters on Wednesday.

“The US has no way but ending years of interference and aggression in Afghanistan and in this region and at least, decrease the suffering of the regional nations with responsible and committed withdrawal,” he added.

Khatibzadeh underscored that Iran’s position has never been dependent on developments or change of administrations in Washington, neither under former US President Donald Trump who was in a rush for fulfilling a series of measures nor today.

In relevant remarks earlier today, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani said on Wednesday that the country will not recognize the streams that ascend to power with war and violence in Afghanistan.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will never recognize a stream that wants to come to power through war in Afghanistan,” Shamkhani said in a meeting with the head of Taliban’s political bureau, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, and his accompanying delegation in Tehran.

He stressed the need for participation of all ethnic groups in deciding Afghanistan’s fate in a completely peaceful process.

Shamkhani described security of Afghanistan, specially in the provinces bordering Iran, as highly important, and underscored the need for Taliban's cooperation with the Afghan government to fight against any insecurity and confront the ISIL terrorist group’s moves.

He referred to US record of atrocities and warmongerings in the region, and said, "The US does not seek peace and security in Afghanistan. The US strategy is to continue war and bloodshed among different groups in Afghanistan.”

Shamkhani said that the US is seeking to stage a show of peace talks with the aim of creating a deadlock in the negotiations among various parties in Afghanistan to blame them for insecurity and instability.

Abdul Ghani Baradar, for his part, presented a report on the peace process in Afghanistan, and voiced regret about Trump's disloyalty to the implementation of the peace agreement.

"We do not trust the US and we will fight any stream that is the US mercenary," he added.

"We believe that all tribes and groups should participate and play a role in the future of Afghanistan," Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said.

He also emphasized the necessity for the establishment of security at Afghanistan-Iran border, and voiced Taliban’s readiness to cooperate with Tehran in this regard.

Afghanistan’s foreign ministry declared in a statement on Tuesday that it is informed of a delegation of Taliban group to Tehran to negotiate with Iranian officials on the Afghan peace process.

“The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has informed the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan about the visit of the Taliban delegation to Iran and has already requested and received the views of the Government of Afghanistan in this regard,” the statement said.

Elaborating on the purpose of the Taliban delegation's visit to Iran, it said in addition to a declaration of its views, Tehran informs the Taliban on the existence of a regional consensus on immediate ceasefire and a comprehensive peace agreement within the framework of the Republic system and preservation of Afghanistan’s constitutional values.

“Iran wants to ensure that the post-conflict Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven for the terrorist groups and remains a center of regional and international cooperation,” the statement added.

It expressed the hope that the Taliban would comply with the legitimate demands of the Afghan people to stop the bloodshed and ensure lasting peace.

Khatibzadeh said on Tuesday that a delegation of the Taliban group arrived in Tehran to negotiate with Iranian officials on the Afghan peace process.

Khatibzadeh said that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and his accompanying delegation have come to Tehran upon the invitation of the Iran’s foreign ministry.

“The Taliban delegation is scheduled to meet with senior Iranian diplomats to talk about the latest developments regarding the Afghan peace process and the related issues,” he added.

In relevant remarks in December 2020, Iranian Ambassador to the UN Majid Takht Ravanchi said that his country supports the Afghanistan peace negotiations, stressing that Tehran places the interests of the Afghan people above all other interests.

Takht Ravanchi said during a meeting of the UN Security Council on Afghanistan on Thursday December 17 that Iran fully endorses the ongoing peace talks in Doha, noting that what is of the primary importance for his country are the national interests in Afghanistan.

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/13991108000499/Iran-N-Way-fr-US-b-End-Inerference-in-Afghanisan

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India

 

Prakasam, Andhra Pradesh: A Son From Every Household In This Muslim Village Joins Indian Army

Jan 28, 2021

The Indian Army is known worldwide for its strength and indomitable courage. The 'nefarious' Pakistan and the 'clever' China have succumbed many times to the brave sons of India. Today, it is due to the bravery and courage of the Indian army soldiers, that the enemy country is afraid of India.

Our brave soldiers have played an important role in securing the land of India. Today we will tell you about one such Muslim village in India, where a son from every household is posted on the border in the security of the country.

Prakasam is a district in Andhra Pradesh. There is a village here Mallareddy Palli. The population here is dominated by the Muslim community. It is said that this is a village that produces brave and courageous sons to protect the country. The son from every household in this village is posted on the border to take on the enemies.

You will see the passion of joining the army in the eyes of every youth of this village. Every young man here starts working hard from morning to fulfil the dream of joining the Indian army.

Mallareddy Palli Village has many such brave soldiers who took on the enemies in the Indo-Pak Wars, the Kargil War and the India-China War. Huh. The elderly here inspire the children to serve the country by joining the army and support them in the effort to carry on this tradition.

There are 86 families living in Mallareddy Palli village, from which, 130 youth are stationed at the border in defence of country's borders. The speciality of this village is that the youth of this place join the army even after taking higher education.

https://www.dnaindia.com/business/report-a-son-from-every-household-in-this-muslim-village-joins-indian-army-2871285

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PM Asked Me Why I Wasn’t Letting Bills Be Passed Amid Din: Hamid Ansari In Book

Jan 28, 2021

NEW DELHI: PM Narendra Modi had asked then Vice President Hamid Ansari why bills were not being passed in a din during a conversation when the PM dropped into the latter’s office when Ansari was chairman of Rajya Sabha, the ex-diplomat has written in his just released book.

Writing about his decision not to allow passage of bills in a din, Ansari said both UPA and NDA were unhappy but the BJP coalition felt “its majority in Lok Sabha gave it the ‘moral’ right to prevail over procedural impediments in Rajya Sabha. “An expression of this was conveyed to me authoritatively, and somewhat unusually, when one day PM Modi walked into my Rajya Sabha office unscheduled.”

“After I got over my surprise, I made the customary gestures of hospitality. He said ‘there are expectations of higher responsibilities for you but you are not helping me’. I said that my work in the Rajya Sabha, and outside, is public knowledge. ‘Why are bills not being passed in the din?’ he asked,” the former VP wrote.

Ansari shared an uneasy relationship with the Modi government and the PM. An unusual mention during the former VP’s farewell in Rajya Sabha suggested he had remained constricted by his experience. “A big part of your working life was in West Asia... in the same atmosphere and debate... after retirement, it was minorities commission or AMU... that was your circumference”.

In his book “By Many A Happy Accident”, Ansari speaks of India’s descent in recent years into “populism, assisted by authoritarianism, nationalism and majoritarianism”.

Recalling a meeting with Modi in 2007, Ansari writes : “A very early caller was Narendra Modi, then CM of Gujarat. After the usual polite exchanges, I said I had questions in my mind that would have been asked had we met in my previous responsibility as Chairman of the NMC. I referred to the post-Godhra happenings in his state in 2002 and asked why he allowed it to happen. He said people look at only one aspect of the matter and pay no attention to the good work he has initiated, particularly for the education of Muslim girls. I sought its details and suggested that he should publicise it; ‘that does not suit me politically’ was the revealingly candid response.”

Describing his stint as Rajya Sabha chairman, Ansari said he built cross-party consensus over not allowing bills to be “passed in the din”.

Informed “authoritatively” about the problems this caused, he referred to demands by NDA floor managers. “With a paper majority, the bills at times were cleared with voice vote, provided no one asked for the division of votes. However, in the current case, the ruling NDA did not have the majority. So, it was technically, procedurally and morally impossible to pass the bills in din, assuming the majority for the government,” Ansari wrote.

The former VP referred also to the worrying “emergence” of a practice of “using the provisions of Articles 109 and 110 of the Constitution relating to money bills” to declare a bill a Money Bill.

In the concluding chapter of his autobiography, he cautioned against succumbing to the temptation of the “enforced homogenisation being attempted in a social milieu traditionally enriched by its diversity between communities and within them”. He warns “this ideological potion, premised simplistically on the desirability of oneness of language, ethnicity, religion, territory and culture was administered successfully to a little over a third of the electorate”.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pm-asked-me-why-i-wasnt-letting-bills-be-passed-amid-din-hamid-ansari-in-book/articleshow/80490232.cms

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Congress leader, over 200 Muslim youths join BJP in Bharuch

January 28, 2021

Congress’s Vagra taluka general secretary Imran Bhatti joined the BJP with more than 200 supporters, all Muslims youths, in Bharuch district Tuesday. BJP legislator Arunsinh Rana and party’s district unit president Marutisinh Atodariya welcomed the newcomers, most of whom are residents of Vasti Khandali and Chanchvel villages, sources said.

The BJP had won from the Vagra Assembly seat, while the taluka panchayat went to the party recently after an elected Congress representative defected to the former.

Bhatti (29), who earlier won the Youth Congress election, has been the Congress’s general secretary from the Vagra Assembly constituency since 2016. A 2015 district-level karate champion, Bhatti had won the state championship in 2016 and the national championship in 2017. In 2018, he won an international championship in the 100-kilogramme category at an event held in Dubai.

On Wednesday, Bhatti said he joined the BJP as it does not believe in any caste, creed, or religion. “I want to work for my community and my people, so I have joined the party… Congress leaders portray the BJP as an anti-Muslim party and create fear among the community, but I have not seen any such thing among the BJP leaders in Bharuch and Vagra,” he added.

Bhatti also thanked the BJP for supporting him during the national- and international-level championships.

BJP MLA from Vagra seat Arunsinh Rana said this was for the first time that such a large number of Muslim youths had joined the BJP in Vagra. “We welcome them… I have faith that educated Muslim youths joining our party will only make the BJP stronger,” he said.

Welcoming the Congress supporters into the party fold, Bharuch district BJP president Marutisinh Atodariya said, “Vagra has given the best example to the country that BJP does not believe in any caste, creed, or religion.”

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/congress-leader-over-200-muslim-youths-join-bjp-in-bharuch-7164427/

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Mamata Created Communal Divide, Did More Harm To Muslims: Head Of Furfura Sharif

27th January 2021

KOLKATA: Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui, the head of Muslim shrine Furfura Sharif, who has muddied the political waters of West Bengal with the launch of Indian Secular Front (ISF), feels the Mamata Banerjee government has done more harm than good to the Muslims by creating a Hindu-Muslim divide.

The 34-year-old cleric is trying to forge an alliance with the Congress-CPI(M) combine as also the AIMIM of Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi ahead of the assembly polls, after the TMC gave him the cold shoulder.

Siqqiqui asserts his newly floated political outfit will prove to be the 'Kingmaker' in the state which roughly has 30 per cent Muslim voters.

He also rejects as baseless the accusation that he has decided to jump into the electoral arena to cut into the TMC's Muslim vote base, assiduously nurtured by Banerjee over the last ten years, and has no hesitation calling the ruling party "Communal and vindictive".

"In the last 10 years, the TMC government has only fooled the Muslims and Dalits. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has done nothing for them. She has only created a perception that this government is doing a lot for the Muslim community only to serve her political interests," he said in an interview with PTI.

Siddiqui said the perception of "Muslim appeasement" has led to a rift between the Hindus and Muslims.

"The BJP worked overtime to exploit it and rub it in that Muslims are getting everything and the cost of Hindus. Mamata Banerjee has done more harm than good to Muslims by creating this perception," he said.

Talking about the alliances his outfit wants to forge ahead of the assembly elections likely in April-May, Siddiqui said the prospects of a tie-up with the TMC are quite "slim".

"We had proposed a Grand Alliance of all parties, including the TMC, to fight the BJP.

But our proposal did not elicit any response from the TMC.

So now the chances are very slim," he said.

Siddiqui alleged that after his announcement about contesting the elections, the state government has started harassing ISF supporters by implicating them in false cases.

"They (the TMC) will get a befitting reply for their arrogance," he asserted.

He, however, feels the chances for forging alliances with the Congress-Left combine and the AIMIM are bright.

Siddiqui said the doors of his organisation are open to all barring the TMC and the BJP.

"We are also in talks with AIMIM. Owaisi Sahab told me they will follow us as we know Bengal better," Siddiqui, who is fondly called Bhaijaan (elder brother) by his followers, said.

After AIMIM's impressive showing in the recent assembly polls in Bihar, where its candidates won five seats of the Seemanchal region, Owaisi has declared his party will also contest the West Bengal assembly polls.

He has visited West Bengal quite a few times and also held parleys with Siqqiqui.

After meeting Siddiqui earlier this month, Owaisi had said the AIMIM and ISF will work together in the state.

"We will work behind him and support whatever decision he takes," Owaisi had said.

Abbas Siddiqui rejected suggestions that his outfit will be a B-Team of the BJP, an accusation also levelled by Mamata Banerjee against Owaisi's party.

"We are not here only to seek Muslim votes but also backward community votes.

Had the TMC worked for the minorities, there wouldn't have been a need for us to enter the fray.

Everybody has the right to fight elections in a democracy," Siddiqui said.

Owaisi was accused of having acted like a B-Team of the BJP after the NDA managed a wafer-thin victory over the RJD-led Grand Alliance in Bihar.

Muslims and backwards form the bedrock of the RJD's support base, and a split in the minority votes was seen as a reason for the opposition alliance's defeat.

Siddiqui, the first prominent religious figure to enter electoral politics in West Bengal, said nobody wants Muslims to assume a leadership role.

"It's because I am a Muslim you are raising this question of splitting votes.

You won't have asked this question had a Hindu come up with a new political outfit," he said.

Though Siddiqui remained non-committal about the number of seats his outfit will contest, he asserted,"Whatever the number, we will emerge as the kingmaker after the polls.

" He also accused Banerjee of paving the way for the rise of the BJP in the state and now playing the "victim card".

"Mamata Banerjee aligned with the BJP in 1998. She was in alliance with the BJP till 2006 and was also a union minister. She was the first leader to rake up the issue of illegal infiltration from Bangladesh in 2005. The BJP is doing it now. This shows the true colours of people questioning our credibility," he said.

When asked to comment on the incident when 'Jai Shri Ram' slogan was raised at the Victoria Memorial during the birth anniversary celebrations of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Siddiqui said Mamata Banerjee should have ignored it.

"By reacting the way she did, Mamata Banerjee only advertised the slogan.

It all seemed staged by her," he said.

He also accused the TMC of trying to "fool" the minority community with its vociferous opposition to the CAA and NRC.

"They (the TMC) just want to project themselves as the saviour of Muslims," he said.

Comprising around 30 per cent of the state's population, Muslims are widely believed to influence the election outcome in 100-110 of the state's 294 assembly seats, and have acted as a bulwark for Banerjee's party against any attempt to upset her applecart.

However, there are apprehensions that a split in Muslim votes due to the presence of parties led by leaders from the community could dent her bid for a third straight term in office.

https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/jan/27/mamata-created-communaldivide-did-more-harm-to-muslims-abbas-siddiqui-2255685.html

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Southeast Asia

 

Maldives police say they uncovered plot to attack school

By MOHAMED SHARUHAAN

26 January 2021

MALE, Maldives -- Police in the Maldives said Tuesday they have uncovered a planned attack on a school involving eight suspected members of an Islamic State-affiliated group arrested last November.

The suspects attempted to build an explosive device on a boat at sea, conducted training on uninhabited islands and attempted to recruit children, the Maldives Police Service said.

Police raided the boat and found items that could be used to build a bomb on board and gun cartridges in the shallow sea, it said.

The suspects were arrested after police were tipped off by foreign intelligence agencies, it said in a statement. Evidence was found in seized cellphones of a plan to attack a school while exams were in progress, it said.

It was unclear why the school was a potential target, but religious extremists in the country are known to discourage people from giving their children anything other than a strictly Islamic education.

Police said the details of the investigation have been submitted to the Prosecutor General to press charges in court.

Maldives is an archipelago state in the Indian Ocean with a predominantly Sunni Muslim population.

The country is known for its luxury tourist resorts but has also been in the news for an increasing number of young men going to fight along with Islamic militants in foreign wars.

Some foreign tourists were injured in a blast in a park in Male, the capital, in 2007, the only known militant attack in the country.

https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/maldives-police-uncovered-plot-attack-school-75490037?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1941451_

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We stand with Southeast Asian nations against Chinese pressure, says US

January 28, 2021

WASHINGTON: The US rejects China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea beyond what it is permitted under international law and stands with Southeast Asian countries resisting its pressure, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said yesterday.

Blinken made the remarks in a call with Philippine Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin, the US State Department said in a statement.

“Secretary Blinken pledged to stand with Southeast Asian claimants in the face of PRC pressure,” it said, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

China claims almost all of the energy-rich South China Sea, which is also a major trade route. The Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

The US has accused China of taking advantage of the distraction of the Covid-19 pandemic to advance its presence in the South China Sea.

The State Department said Blinken, who took office this week in Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration, “underscored that the US rejects China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea to the extent they exceed the maritime zones that China is permitted to claim under international law”.

US relations with China deteriorated under former US President Donald Trump over a variety of issues including the pandemic, Chinese policies in Hong Kong, Beijing’s treatment of its Muslim minority and trade.

Two weeks ago, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Chinese officials and companies for alleged misdeeds in the South China Sea.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/highlight/2021/01/28/we-stand-with-sea-nations-against-chinese-pressure-says-us/

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Hundreds of Rohingya disappear from refugee camp in Indonesia

JAN 28, 2021

Over 200 Rohingya Muslims that disappeared from a refugee camp in Indonesia are believed to have been moved to neighboring Malaysia, officials and sources said Thursday.

Just 112 refugees remain at the makeshift camp in Lhokseumawe on Indonesia's northern coast, well down from the almost 400 that arrived between June and September last year.

Neither local authorities nor the United Nations could account for the whereabouts of the refugees from the stateless Muslim minority from Myanmar, who are feared to have enlisted traffickers to help them cross the Malacca strait into Malaysia.

"We don't know yet where they went," said Ridwan Jamil, head of the Rohingya task force in Lhokseumawe. "But they'll escape if they can find any hole to leave because that is their goal."

A Myanmar military crackdown in 2017, which U.N. investigators said amounted to genocide, forced 750,000 Rohingya to flee across the border into Bangladesh's southeast coastal district of Cox's Bazar, where many ended up in sprawling refugee camps.

Thousands have since paid smugglers to get them out of Bangladesh, enduring harrowing, monthslong sea journeys punctuated by illness, beatings by traffickers and near-starvation rations to reach Indonesia and Malaysia.

At least 18 Rohingya from the Lhokseumawe camp and over a dozen suspected traffickers were recently apprehended by police several hundred kilometers (miles) south in Medan city, a frequent staging point for illegal crossings into Malaysia, authorities said.

The refugees have been asked not to leave the camp, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said, given the risks involved in making the journey. "But (they) left despite our constant efforts to remind them about the danger and risks they could face by leaving, including if they used the services of smugglers," UNHCR spokesperson Mitra Suryono said.

"But we have to remember that many of (them) have relatives in other countries such as Malaysia. That may be one of the reasons why they continued their journey," she added. Rights groups blamed the Indonesian government, which drastically reduced security at the settlement when the Rohingya were placed under the supervision of UNHCR last month.

"The main reason for the exodus is security at the camp," said Iskandar Dewantara, co-founder of the Geutanyoe Foundation, an Indonesia-based refugee advocacy group.

"It's fine if (the government) hands over the refugees to UNHCR, but it should continue supporting the agency in terms of providing security," he added.

While Indonesia is not a signatory to an international convention on refugees, the move was a breach of its obligations to protect them, said Usman Hamid, director of Amnesty International's Indonesia office.

"As long as they're in Indonesian territory, then it is Indonesia's obligation to give them protection," Hamid added.

https://www.dailysabah.com/world/asia-pacific/hundreds-of-rohingya-disappear-from-refugee-camp-in-indonesia

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China ‘concerned’ about seizure of oil tankers by Indonesia

27 January 2021

China says it seeks information on 25 of its nationals who were among 61 crew members aboard two oil tankers seized by Indonesia over the weekend.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in Beijing on Wednesday, “Our embassy has expressed concern to Indonesia.”

Beijing, the diplomat added, seeks formal verification on the situation of the Chinese seamen “as soon as possible.”

He called on Indonesia to conduct an investigation “fairly and in accordance with the law.”

Indonesian authorities said Sunday one Iranian and one Panamanian tanker had been seized for what the government said was "illegal" transfer of oil in Indonesia’s waters.

The MT Horse, owned by the National Iranian Tanker Company, was seized along with MT Freya, managed by Shanghai Future Ship Management Co, near Kalimantan island.

An Indonesian official has said the ships were seized after an oil spill was detected around the MT Freya while receiving oil from MT Horse.

Iran said Monday MT Horse was seized over a “technical issue.”

The Indonesian Foreign Ministry has begun “initial communication” with China and Iran. Further discussion, it says, would depend on results from an investigation into the matter.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2021/01/27/643975/China-seizure-oil-tankers-Indonesia

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Africa

 

Office of Tunisia’s president receives envelope with suspicious powder, says source

27 January 2021

The office of Tunisia’s president received a letter containing suspicious powder and is investigating the matter, a source there told Reuters on Wednesday.

President Kais Saied did not open the letter and is in good health, the source said.

Some local websites reported that the lethal toxin ricin had been found in the envelope, and that it had been addressed to the presidency in the Carthage Palace.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

The source in the office declined to comment on the reports.

Factional tensions have been growing within Tunisia’s leadership amid protests against widespread unemployment and social inequality.

Saied, a political independent who won election in 2019, told a gathering of national security officials this week that there were conspiracies afoot aimed at thwarting his work at home and abroad. He did not elaborate.

Parliament on Tuesday approved a cabinet reshuffle that deepened conflict between the prime minister and president.

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/north-africa/2021/01/28/Protests-Office-of-Tunisia-s-president-receives-envelope-with-suspicious-powder-says-source

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Tunisian press syndicate criticize police over night arrest of photojournalist

27 January 2021

Tunisian police slapped and arrested a photojournalist working at night despite his having an authorization to be out after curfew, the national press syndicate said on Wednesday amid criticism of the security forces’ handling of protests.

Islem Hkiri, a freelance photographer, was charged with breaking curfew and assaulting a public servant.

He had earlier published pictures of police using pepper spray during a recent surge of protests in Tunisia, a democracy since the 2011 revolution that inspired the “Arab spring.”

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Protesters have decried both inequality and police abuses.

Security forces have arrested more than 1,200 people including many under the age of 18 and have widely used teargas against demonstrators. Although daytime protests have mostly been peaceful, those at night have involved repeated clashes with police as well as some looting.

The Journalists’ Syndicate condemned police violence and asked the Interior Ministry for an immediate investigation.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said he could not comment on a file in the hands of the judiciary.

A judicial official was not immediately available for comment.

Tunisian rights groups have criticized what they call the police’s aggressive handling of protesters and the arrest of bloggers.

The opposition and activists also criticized the unprecedented security measures and restrictions on the freedom to demonstrate, and the closure of streets in the capital against protests on Tuesday.

They accused the prime minister of seeking to restore a security state like that which existed before the 2011 uprising. Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi said the government wanted to protect property but would defend the right to protest, a freedom gained after revolution.

A video showed a policeman firing tear gas at a man who appeared from his house during recent clashes. It sparked anger and doubts about the credibility of police reform over the past decade.

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/north-africa/2021/01/27/Protests-Tunisian-press-syndicate-criticize-police-over-night-arrest-of-photojournalist

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Mali, French forces kill 100 jihadists

27 January 2021

Malian and French forces killed about 100 jihadists and took another 20 captive in a joint operation this January in central Mali, the West African nation's army says.

It says the campaign lasted from January 2 to 20 and targeted areas bordering Burkina Faso, where militant groups with links to al-Qaeda and Islamic State control large tracts of the remote desert and regularly carry out raids on the army and civilians.

"The purpose of this operation was to force the enemy out of its areas of refuge," the army said on Tuesday.

France has more than 5100 military personnel based in the West African Sahel region to help counter the militants, an involvement that is facing increased opposition at home and from some quarters in Mali.

https://au.news.yahoo.com/mali-french-forces-kill-100-jihadists-221817465--spt.html?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1941451_

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Morocco’s domestic spy agency helps FBI foil terror attack in NY

January 27, 2021

Morocco’s General Directorate for Territorial Surveillance (DGST), equivalent of UK’s MI5, has tipped off the FBI about a terrorist plot hatched by a US soldier who was nabbed by US authorities on January 19, said on Tuesday Mr. Haboub Cherkaoui, Head of the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ).

The case of US Army private Cole Bridges, who was arrested in coordination between FBI and US army for plotting a terrorist attack and for his ties with ISIS, had set off concern of the Moroccan domestic intelligence agency for his jihadist views posted in social media, said Mr. Cherkaoui in a statement to Moroccan news agency MAP.

In Sept.2020, the DGST informed the FBI about this soldier and his terrorist activity, said chief of the BCIJ.

The case of this soldier, who will stand trial for plotting a terrorist attack on the 9/11 memorial in Manhattan, has been reported lately by US “News Talk Florida”.

“Bridges provided detailed diagrams and even training manuals to help ISIS fighters better kill American forces,” according to US daily.

Bridges joined the US Army in 2019, the same year that prosecutors say he started being immersed in the propaganda of terrorist groups and became a pledged supporter of jihadi terrorists. The young cavalry scout with the 3rd Infantry Division based at Fort Stewart, Georgia soon went public with his radical views. He began promoting these views online through social media and interacting on extremist forums, according to the daily.

The case was brought to the attention of the United States government in September 2020 by the Moroccan intelligence agency known as the General Directorate for Territorial Surveillance but, better known by its French initials — DGST, the publication said.

A statement issued by the NY Attorney’s Office says Cole Bridges , who had been positioned from September until November 2020 at a US military base in Germany, is facing federal terrorism charges for attempting to provide material support to ISIS and for attempting to murder US military personnel. If convicted, each crime carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison though actual sentencing will be left to the judge.

The arrest of Bridges thanks to information provided by the DGST is another example of the close security cooperation between Rabat and Washington, which is part of the multifaceted strategic partnership binding the two countries.

As a sign of the importance given by the United States to this aspect of its solid relations with the Kingdom, former US Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, during his official visit to rabat in 2019, visited the headquarters of the DGST in Temara for talks with the director general of the General Directorate of National Security (DGSN) and of the DGST, Mr. Abdellatif Hammouchi.

Last September, the former US ambassador in Rabat, David Fischer, held discussions with Mr. Hammouchi on several security issues of common interest, in particular the mechanisms of cooperation and coordination in the fight against terrorism, violent extremism, organized crime and their growing links in the region of North Africa and the Sahel.

https://northafricapost.com/47140-moroccos-domestic-spy-agency-helps-fbi-foil-terror-attack-in-ny.html?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1941451_

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Europe

 

Turkey-Greece talks held in ‘very positive’ atmosphere, Ankara says

27 January 2021

Bilateral talks between Turkey and Greece to resolve long-standing maritime disputes, which resumed on Monday after a five-year hiatus, were held in a “very positive” atmosphere, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday.

The neighboring NATO members held 60 rounds of talks from 2002 to 2016 to address disagreements over energy rights, claims to Mediterranean waters, air space and the status of some Aegean islands, but with little progress.

Talks resumed on Monday in Istanbul after months of tension, and pressure from the European Union.

Speaking at a news conference in Ankara with his Irish counterpart Simon Coveney, Cavusoglu said the talks had focused on “whatever was discussed in the first 60 rounds”, and urged Greece to refrain from “provocations” at a time when Ankara was trying to establish a positive agenda with the EU.

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/01/27/Turkey-Greece-talks-held-in-very-positive-atmosphere-Ankara-says

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Russia opposed to widening scope of Iran nuclear deal if US rejoin

27 January 2021

Russia does not support expanding the Iran nuclear deal to other issues like Tehran’s regional influence should the United States decide to rejoin, Moscow’s deputy envoy to the UN said Wednesday.

Known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the deal was agreed between Iran, the United States, China, Russian, Britain, France and Germany in 2015.

It offered sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and guarantees that it would not seek an atomic bomb.

It fell apart when former US president Donald Trump withdrew from the accord and imposed unilateral sanctions on Tehran, but new President Joe Biden could rejoin the agreement.

Last year, “we managed to save the deal, to keep it alive. We all hope that the new administration will make some practical moves in this regard,” said Moscow’s envoy, Dmitry Polyanskiy.

“But you shouldn’t mix it up with a regional framework which exists,” the Russian diplomat told reporters.

“It doesn’t exclude that there should be a process of regional dialect, of some confidence-building measures, of countries speaking to each other and understanding, identifying the sources and the reasons of tensions in the region.”

Polyanskiy said the deal had become “very fragile” but still stood as a “genius achievement from world diplomacy.”

“We don’t see any reasons for it to be modified,” he added.

Given the idea that Biden could return to the deal, some have suggested it be renegotiated to include topics like ballistic missiles and Iran’s influence in the Middle East, from Lebanon to Yemen, which is frowned upon in the West.

In 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron proposed adding several “pillars” to the deal, including one to ensure better controls on Iran’s missile arsenal and another on the situation in the region.

Biden’s new Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Washington could rejoin the deal if Tehran agrees to respect its commitments.

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2021/01/27/Iran-nuclear-deal-Russia-opposed-to-widening-scope-of-Iran-nuclear-deal-if-US-rejoins

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Russia ready to export Iran’s surplus enriched uranium if US rejoined JCPOA: Deputy FM

27 January 2021

A senior Russian Foreign Ministry official says Moscow is ready to export Iran's enriched uranium produced above the limit set by the 2015 nuclear deal should the United States return to the historic accord.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov made the remarks to the country’s Ria Novosti news agency, according to a Wednesday tweet by Russia’s permanent mission to the international organizations in Vienna.

“We don’t exclude that Russia will be ready to export excess enriched uranium from Iran, should the US return to the Nuclear Deal,” Ryabkov said.

🇷🇺DFM S.#Ryabkov to @rianru on #JCPOA:💬 We don’t exclude that #Russia will be ready to export excess enriched uranium from #Iran, should the #US return to the #NuclearDeal. However, it’s way too premature to speak about it at the moment. pic.twitter.com/v848lc6MYe

— Russian Mission Vienna (@mission_rf) January 27, 2021

Under the nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran is allowed to keep 300 kilograms of uranium enriched up to 3.67-percent purity. The deal requires Tehran to sell off any enriched uranium above the limit on international markets in return for natural uranium.

The administration of former US President Donald Trump, however, left the JCPOA in 2018 in breach of the deal’s multilateral nature and the fact that the accord has been ratified by the United Nations Security Council in the form of one of its resolutions. Washington also returned the economic sanctions that the deal had lifted.

Iran began a number of nuclear countermeasures a year after the US’s withdrawal to prompt Washington to resume its JCPOA obligations and its Western allies in the deal -- the UK, France, and Germany -- to stop abiding by the American sanctions and renew their trade activities with Iran.

In July that year, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the country had increased its low-enriched uranium stockpile to over 300 kilograms.

The most recent bout of Iran’s countermeasures came after the Iranian Parliament passed a law, ordering the country’s administration to resume uranium enrichment at the 20-percent purity level.

Under the law, Iran will also stop abiding by the Additional Protocol of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which enables more intrusive inspections of the country’s nuclear facilities, as of February 21.

Ryabkov likewise said, “it’s way too premature to speak about it at the moment,” referring to the likelihood of America’s return to the JCPOA and Russia’s exporting of the Iranian uranium.

Trump’s successor Joe Biden has only voiced an inclination to bring the US back into the deal.

Visiting Moscow on Tuesday, Zarif said Iran would take proper action whenever the United States lifted the sanctions to pave the way for its return to the nuclear deal, stressing that the Islamic Republic takes Washington’s actions, not words, as its yardstick.

“What we have heard from the new United States administration [so far] has mostly been in the form of words and announcement of its positions,” he said at a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

“However, it is actions that we [choose to] respond to,” Zarif added.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2021/01/27/643985/Iran-Russia-excess-uranium-export-United-States-nuclear-deal

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'I'm no Marvel villain' says Bristol terror defendant

27 January 2021

A man found with bomb-making manuals and speeches on Islamic State has told a court he is "not a terrorist".

Souhaib Embarek was caught sharing "terrorist tutorials" and had videos and images of terrorist attacks.

He admits five charges of possession of information useful to a terrorist, and one of disseminating terror documents, on the basis he was "reckless".

"I'm not the guy the prosecution is trying to make me - some Marvel villain," he told the Old Bailey.

On Tuesday, during a hearing to decide the issue of his intent, Embarek insisted it was all a "fantasy game".

The court heard he had poison recipes, speeches on Islamic State and had shared jihadi "lessons" in the form of audio files via encrypted Telegram chat.

The 34-year-old was arrested after firearms officers forced entry into his home in Clifton, Bristol, on 9 December 2019.

"All this digital stuff is just a game. I'm not attached to it because it doesn't mean anything to me," he said.

'A committed sympathiser'

The defendant said he would take on the role of "investigative journalist" online and claimed he was the "victim".

The court heard Embarek threw his mobile phone out of his bedroom window when armed police raided his home.

Asked why, he said: "I thought it was some hitman coming to kill me."

And asked if he intended to encourage terrorism, he said: "Absolutely not. I highly condemn those acts."

He told Judge Philip Katz QC: "Trust me, your honour, I'm not a terrorist."

Prosecutor Joel Smith said the evidence suggests Embarek is a "committed believer and sympathiser" with radical Islamic theology.

Embarek, from Tyndale Court in Bristol, gave his evidence via video link from prison and will be sentenced a later date.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-bristol-55817695?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1941451_

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Tajik IS cell member in Germany jailed for 7 years

26.01.2021

A German court on Tuesday sentenced a man to seven years in prison over plans to to shoot dead a critic of Islam as part of an "Islamic State" (IS) terror cell.

Summing up the four-month trial, a Düsseldorf court spokesman said the 31-year-old man living in Wuppertal had formed an IS cell with other Tajiks also living in Germany's western Ruhr District.

The accused, known as Ravsan B., had later handed a functioning semi-automatic pistol over to another cell member for use in a planned attack that was foiled through police investigations, said the spokesman. His full name was not published because of German privacy laws.

The court also found that he with others — motivated by jihadi radicalism —  had planned a contract murder in Albania in 2019 to earn funds for the IS movement.

That attack, however, was not carried out because at the last moment doubts emerged about the identity of the intended victim, described last year by German federal prosecutors as an Albanian businessman.

Four suspected members of the cell were arrested in April 2020.

Wuppertal was where authorities intervened in 2014 when Salafists patrolled streets in orange vests emblazoned with the words "Sharia police."

IS cell member apologizes

Prior to Tuesday's sentencing, the accused apologized, saying he was "terribly sorry for everything."

Federal prosecutors had wanted him jailed for 8 1/2 years on the main charges of being a member of a terrorist organization and preparing a grave act of violence endangering the state.

The court also found that Ravsan B. had participated in a transfer of money to Syria.

His defense lawyers did not plead on the length of jailing, but had tried to cast doubt on several key points of the prosecutors' submissions.

The verdict is still subject to appeal, should prosecutors or the defense decide to take the case further to Germany's top BGH criminal court in Karlsruhe.

https://www.dw.com/en/tajik-is-cell-member-in-germany-jailed-for-7-years/a-56352673?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1941451_

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North America

 

US will not return to Iran deal before Tehran comes back into ‘full compliance’

Joseph Haboush

27 January 2021

The United States will not return to any previous Iran nuclear deal before Tehran “comes back into full compliance” with its obligations, newly-confirmed Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the new administration will take a “very close look” at the recent designation of Yemen’s Houthi militia as a terrorist organization.

Iran has appeared excited about the prospects of a new deal with Washington after Joe Biden was elected as the 46th US president.

Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, has said in recent weeks that the US “must remedy its wrong; then Iran will respond.”

But Blinken doubled down on what he said during his Senate confirmation hearing. Iran must first “come back into full compliance with obligations under the JCPOA” before reciprocity from the US, he said during his first news conference.

“Iran is out of compliance on a number of fronts. And it would take some time, should it make the decision to do so, for it to come back into compliance and time for us then to assess whether it was meeting its obligations,” he said. “We’re not there yet, to say the least.”

Former President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the deal, which was brokered under former President Barack Obama, as he launched a maximum pressure campaign on Iran with hard-hitting economic sanctions.

If Iran returns to the deal, Washington will seek to build what Blinken called a “longer and stronger agreement” to deal with other “deeply problematic” issues.

He appeared to be referring to Iran’s regional proxies and militias and its ballistic missile program.

This is something Zarif and Iran have claimed they would not discuss as part of a new deal.

One of Iran’s proxies in the region is the Houthi militia in Yemen. Before leaving the White House, the Trump administration slapped a terrorist designation on the group for its continued missile attacks on Saudi Arabia and its prevention of reaching a political solution to the war in Yemen.

But Blinken said the State Department would take a “very urgent and a very close look” at the designation.

Of all the steps that the previous administration took in their waning days, “that’s the priority in my book,” Blinken said of the designation. “We’re taking a very urgent and a very close look at that.”

Waivers and licenses were issued shortly before the Trump administration left the White House in order to ensure that humanitarian aid would continue to flow.

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/01/28/US-will-not-return-to-Iran-deal-before-Tehran-comes-back-into-full-compliance-

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US flies B-52 bomber over Middle East to ‘deter aggression’ amid Iran tensions

27 January 2021

The US military said Wednesday it again flew a B-52 bomber over the Middle East “to deter potential aggression” amid tensions with Iran.

The B-52 flew nonstop from Louisiana’s Barksdale Air Force Base into the region earlier in the day. The plane went over both the Arabian Gulf and Saudi Arabia, according to flight-tracking data.

The US military’s Central Command later published images of the bomber flying alongside Royal Saudi Air Force F-15s.

While not mentioning Iran in its statement, Central Command said the flight was meant to “showcase the US commitment to regional security.”

The flights, the third-such operation this year, had become common in the last months of former President Donald Trump’s administration. Trump’s 2018 decision to unilaterally withdraw from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers sparked a series of escalating incidents in the region.

President Joe Biden has expressed a desire to return to the deal if Iran honors the deal’s limits on its nuclear program.

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/01/27/US-flies-B-52-bomber-over-Middle-East-to-deter-aggression-amid-Iran-tensions-

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Nationwide terrorism alert issued in US after potential threat from anti-Biden groups

27 January 2021

The US Department of Homeland Security declared a nationwide terrorism alert Wednesday, citing the potential threat from domestic anti-government extremists opposed to Joe Biden as president.

“Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the department said.

For all the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app

The National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin said a heightened threat of attack “will persist in the weeks following the successful presidential inauguration,” which took place on January 20.

“DHS does not have any information to indicate a specific, credible plot,” it said.

“However, violent riots have continued in recent days and we remain concerned that individuals frustrated with the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition... could continue to mobilize a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors to incite or commit violence.”

The alert said there had been mounting threats since last year from domestic violent extremists motivated by Covid-19 restrictions, Biden’s defeat of Donald Trump in the November election, police brutality and illegal immigration.

DHS said these motivations could remain in place for the coming months and that the January 6 attack by Trump supporters on Congress could embolden extremists “to target elected officials and government facilities.”

More than 150 people, including members of armed extremist groups, have been arrested since the attack, which has been branded as an insurrection.

The department urged the public to report suspicious activity and threats of violence.

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2021/01/27/Nationwide-terrorism-alert-issued-in-US-after-potential-threat-from-anti-Biden-groups

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Biden administration suspends F-35 sale to UAE

27 January 2021

The new US administration has suspended the sale of F-35 jets to the United Arab Emirates, according to Bloomberg's defense reporter.

"US Temporarily Pausing Some Foreign Arms Sales, Official Says: Sale of Lockheed Martin F-35 jets to UAE as well as munitions to Saudi Arabia among the more significant deals from the Trump administration under review, according to a State Department official," Anthony Capaccio wrote on his Twitter on Wednesday.

Under a deal with the administration of former US President Donald Trump, the UAE was supposed to receive 50 stealth F 35 warplanes and 18 advanced Reaper drones. The Emiratis have long expressed interest in getting the stealth jets. The UAE was promised a chance to purchase them when it agreed to normalize relations with Israel last August, angering the Palestinians.

The deal, which was mainly pushed by Trump's son in law, Jared Kushner, is considered another part of Trump's notorious dealings with the Persian Gulf Arab allies, which have long records of human rights violations.

The Emiratis have been deeply involved in the devastating Saudi led war on Yemen, which has triggered outcry by human rights advocates.

Trump, however, was dismissive of such warnings as the United States itself has been deeply involved in the Yemen war ever since it began in 2015.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2021/01/27/643995/Biden-suspends-F-35-sale-UAE

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Pakistan

 

Owner of Raj Kapoor’s Pak home refuses to sell

Jan 28, 2021

PESHAWAR: The owner of film legend Raj Kapoor’s ancestral home in Peshawar has refused to sell the building at the rate fixed by the provincial Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, saying the prime-location property has been undervalued. Earlier in the month, the provincial government had approved the release of Rs 1.5 crore for Kapoor’s home, with the aim to turn it into a museum in honour of the movie star.

Haji Ali Sabir, the present owner of the haveli, on Wednesday, flatly refused to sell the property at Rs 1.5 crore. “Even half a Marla land in the area is not available for Rs 1.5 crore. How can I sell the sixmarla property for Rs 1.5 crore?” he said. Marla, a traditional unit of area used in India and Pakistan , is considered as equal to 272.25 square feet.

Sabir said the right valuation of the house is Rs 200 crore. The property, known as Kapoor Haveli, was built between 1918 and 1922 by the actor’s grandfather. Raj Kapoor was born there. PTI

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/owner-of-raj-kapoors-pak-home-refuses-to-sell/articleshow/80490909.cms

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Pakistani suspect admits to role in Daniel Pearl’s killing

Jan 28, 2021

ISLAMABAD: After 18 years of denial, the Pakistani suspect convicted and later acquitted in the 2002 beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl has told a court he played a “minor” role in the killing, the Pearl family lawyer said on Wednesday. A letter handwritten by Ahmad Saeed Omar Sheikh in 2019, in which he admits limited involvement in the killing of the Wall Street Journal reporter, was submitted to Pakistan’s Supreme Court nearly two weeks ago. It wasn’t until Wednesday that Sheikh’s lawyers confirmed their client wrote it.

The stunning turn of events came as a Pakistani HC is hearing an appeal of a lower court’s acquittal of Sheikh, who was initially charged with murder in the beheading of Pearl. The appeal was filed by Pearl’s family and the Pakistan government. Nowhere in the three-page letter addressed to the Sindh High Court did Sheikh elaborate or say exactly what his allegedly “minor” role in Pearl’s slaying involved.

Pearl family attorney Faisal Siddiqi called Sheikh’s confirmation that he wrote the letter a “dramatic development” and demanded the conviction and the death sentence for Sheikh be reinstated. “This is very, very important because for the last 18 years the position of Omar Saeed Sheikh was that he did not know Danny Pearl, he never met Danny Pearl,” Siddiqi said. “He has not asked that he be acquitted. He accepts his guilt but asks that his sentence may be reduced,” he added.

In the letter, Sheikh writes that “my role in this matter was a relatively minor one, which does not warrant the death sentence.” A copy of the letter was obtained by the AP.

However, Sheikh’s lawyer, Mehmood A. Sheikh, insisted that his client wrote the letter under duress and that he did not know or have any connection to Pearl. AP

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistani-suspect-admits-to-role-in-daniel-pearls-killing/articleshow/80490892.cms

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Mosque prayer leader found dead in Lahore with throat slit

Jan 28, 2021

LAHORE:

The prayer leader of Shalimar Mosque, situated in Multani Colony in Lahore, was found dead on Thursday with his throat slit.

The police identified the deceased as Asif, son of Mureed Hussain. His body was found from the quarters adjacent to the mosque.

According to preliminary investigation, unidentified people had come to meet the victim in his quarters last night. The police suspect the same visitors to have killed Asif.

Lahore police chief Ghulam Mehmood Dogar informed that an FIR has been registered and investigation launched. "The culprits will soon be arrested," he added.

The body of the deceased had been moved to a morgue for autopsy.

In early January, police claimed to have arrested two suspects involved in the kidnapping and subsequent murder of two sisters in Kahna area. The victims were found with throats slit and limbs tied.

The bodies of the two women were recovered from a drain in Kahna in December last year and January this year.

The victims were identified as Abida 26 and Sajida 28. Both had gone missing on November 26 under suspicious circumstances after they left home for shopping in a nearby bazaar. An abduction case in Kahna police station was also registered.

Police said suspect Mumtaz Khan and Muhammad Naeem were arrested after being nominated in the FIR registered by the family of the slain women.

On December 14, the body of an unidentified woman was recovered from the drain in Kahna. The victim’s throat was slit and her arms and legs were tied. The other body was recovered on January 4. She had also been murdered in a similar fashion and dumped into the drain.

It was only after the second woman's body was discovered that the police found the two women to be sisters.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2281682/mosque-prayer-leader-found-dead-in-lahore-with-throat-slit

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PTI’s Buzdar-weary MPAs a threat to party’s Senate ambitions

Mansoor Malik

January 28, 2021

LAHORE: The number of disgruntled MPAs’ within the ranks of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf in Punjab seems to be building up and may hit the ruling party in the upcoming Senate elections.

While Chief Minister Usman Buzdar is holding meetings with different PML-N MPAs to muster up support for the Senate election, new alignments within the PTI parliamentarians are emerging to pressurise the government for allocation of development works for their respective constituencies and due share in power.

A group comprising some two dozen MPAs, apparently annoyed over Mr Buzdar’s “inability” to stem corruption and for being ignored in allocation of development projects, has surfaced yet again to show their strength and exercise influence.

The MPAs group had first emerged under Ghazanfar Abbas Chheena over a year ago, but was eventually snubbed by none other than Prime Minister Imran Khan in a meeting with them at the Chief Minister Secretariat.

After the PM’s snub, the group remained low profile, but now it had re-emerged and was openly chiding the chief minister over his “shortcomings”.

“Chief Minister Usman Buzdar is incapable of running the country’s largest province. Under him the levels of corruption and lawlessness increased, while the quality of development works and life of the people got poorer whic was a proof of his inability to perform,” said an MPA from Taunsa Sharif, Khwaja Daud Sulemani, while speaking to Dawn on Wednesday.

Mr Sulemani claimed that a large number of the ruling party MPAs were disturbed over Mr Buzdar’s inability to deliver and take all the party MPAs along, adding that their resentment had now reached the boiling point.

Ruling out the efficacy of any step by Mr Buzdar to redress the grievances of the annoyed MPAs, Mr Sulemani said that now only the party chairman Prime Minister Imran Khan could allay their reservations, adding that until then his group would continue protesting and asserting its role in the government.

Over a year ago, one of the leading member of the group Sardar Shahabuddin had come on record saying that they had faced ‘ruthless’ discrimination under the Shahbaz Sharif government during the past decade, but the situation seemed no different in the Buzdar government as their respective constituencies were still being ignored in terms of development funds and projects.

Mr Sulemani said the group had now decided that it would demand a PTI ticket for Senate for one of its member, otherwise it would either resign en bloc ahead of the upper house election or simply stay away from the voting process.

Mr Sulemani, who has returned to the provincial assembly for the third time, denied that he or any other group member was in contact with the PML-N to dent the PTI position in the Senate election. “We won’t go to vote for anyone in the Senate election if our demands are not met,” he warned, but did not comment when told that their non-participation in the voting process would be tantamount to the PML-N’s support in the Senate poll.

“The government should have given a sympathetic hearing to the reservations of his group’s MPAs and allayed these instead of bulldozing them through bashing by Buzdar’s benefactors,” Mr Sulemani said.

As the MPA from Taunsa alleged corruption in the development works in his constituency, PTI MPAs Hanif Pitafi and Ali Ahmad Khan Dareshak came up to defend the chief minister and demanded disciplinary action against Mr Sulemani.

Pitafi, an adviser to the chief minister, in a video message stated the Punjab government had given Rs3.5 billion development package for Mr Sulemani’s constituency, besides massive development works across south Punjab. “There may be some difference of opinion within the party, but there should not be any blaming and shaming of the chief minister,” Mr Pitafi said.

Alleging that there were some “hidden hands” behind the launch of Mr Sulemani ahead of Senate election, PTI MPA Ahmad Ali Khan Dareshak said the “conspiracy” would soon be exposed with proofs.

He said Mr Sulemani was himself unable to serve the voters, who were annoyed by his poor performance in his constituency.

Seeking disciplinary action, Mr Pitafi went on to say that Sulemani should be de-seated and by-elections be held in the constituency.

Mr Sulemani, responded that he knew well that abuses would soon be hurled at him and that could even follow FIRs and other drastic actions by Buzdar’s benefactors.

PML-N MPAs: Meanwhile, CM Buzdar met PML-N MPAs Muhammad Arshad and Nishat Ahmad Daha during the past two days and assured them that their constituencies’ problems would be sorted out soon.

“I treat problems of the public representatives as my own and my doors are open to all. I am always available for public service and the parliamentarians’ constituency-related problems will be solved on a priority basis,” Mr Buzdar assured the PML-N MPAs.

The PTI is flashing Buzdar’s meeting with the PML-N MPAs as a success with regard to the upcoming Senate election.

Both the PML-N MPAs lauded the chief minister for giving them respect and assuring them of resolution of the problems related to their respective constituencies.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1603976/ptis-buzdar-weary-mpas-a-threat-to-partys-senate-ambitions

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Students threaten country-wide agitation tomorrow

January 28, 2021

LAHORE: The Student Action Committee (SAC) on Wednesday announced that it would expand its protest to all parts of the country in reaction to the arrests and torture of students in Lahore.

Under the banner of the SAC, the Haqooq Khalq Movement (HKM) and Progressive Students Collective (PSC) leadership jointly addressed a press conference at the press club on the issue of on-campus examinations and police torture and cases against students.

PSC President Muhsin Abdali announced a nationwide protest of students against police torture and cases on Friday (Jan 29). He said the students of the city would gather at Charing Cross on The Mall on Friday for demonstration. He appealed to the students from across Pakistan to organise protest rallies and demonstrations against brutal use of force and torture against peaceful students.

He demanded that all examinations should be held online and the tuition fee of the private universities should be reduced by half for this year.

Maryam expresses solidarity with protesters

“Our protest was absolutely peaceful,” he said.

PSC Lahore President Zubair Siddique said he was targeted by police and brutally baton- charged.

“I was unconscious for a few hours at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Jinnah Hospital,” he said. He said his main fault was to appeal the authorities to go for online exams. He said students were not terrorists but they were labelled as terrorists.

Condemning police cases against the protesting students, Haqooq Khalq Movement’s Farooq Tariq said the private universities were not used to any resistance of the students and they used private security guards in the presence of police to torture the students.

He demanded immediate withdrawal of police cases against students and release of all the 36 arrested students.

Mr Tariq also demanded restoration of student unions and implementation of constitutional right of assembly.

PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz also condemned the attack on protesting students and showed solidarity with them.

She tweeted, “From students receiving laptops, scholarships and appreciations to students being baton-charged and beaten black and blue to a point where many are admitted to intensive care. We are clearly on a downward trajectory. I stand with my students. Stop using naked force.”

On Tuesday night, University of Central Punjab’s Chief Security Officer Naveed Mukhtar lodged a complaint against 95 nominated and 400 to 500 unidentified students for threatening the UCP administration with dire consequences, pelting stones, damaging property, torturing and injuring security guards, setting the property on fire by throwing petrol bombs and blocking the roads in and around the campus for several hours and creating problems for them.

The Nawab Town police registered a case against these students under sections 452, 506/B, 148, 149, 427, 342, 290, 291, 440, 436, 269, and 270 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and 16 of the Punjab Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance 1960. Police took 36 of the students into custody and on Wednesday afternoon, presented them before a judicial magistrate in Model Town court to seek 14-day physical remand. However, the judicial magistrate handed over the students to police on three-day physical remand.

Earlier, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) had taken notice of the concerns of the students of some universities that their examinations should be conducted online.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1603970/students-threaten-country-wide-agitation-tomorrow

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South Asia

 

Taliban, Iran hold talks, accuse US of pushing war in Afghanistan

January 28, 2021

TEHRAN: Iranian and Taliban officials met in Tehran on Wednesday and accused the US of provoking the continuation of war in Afghanistan, Iranian State TV reported.

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, told visiting Taliban political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar that the US seeks to continue the war in neighboring Afghanistan.

The US strategy supports the continuation of war and bloodshed among various Afghan groups in the political spectrum, Shamkhani was quoted as saying. He said the US tries to blame insecurity and instability in the country on individual Afghan groups.

There was no immediate comment from the US, which signed a peace agreement with the Taliban last February and met its goal this month of reducing the number of troops in Afghanistan to about 2,500.

Taliban representatives and the Afghan government earlier this month resumed peace talks in Qatar, the Gulf Arab state where the insurgents maintain an office.

The stop-and-go talks are aimed at ending decades of conflict. But frustration and fear have grown over a recent spike in violence, and both sides blame one another.

Baradar, who arrived on Monday with a Taliban delegation, criticised the US for allegedly breaking its commitments to the February deal. He did not elaborate.

“We do not trust the US and will fight any group that is a mercenary for the US,” he said.

Occasionally, Iranian and Taliban officials meet for what Tehran says are talks aimed at helping facilitate intra-Afghan dialogue.

Iran sees the presence of US forces in neighboring Afghanistan and Iraq as a threat on its doorstep and routinely calls for their departure. Iran and Afghanistan have some 945 kilometres (some 585 miles) of common border.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1604053/taliban-iran-hold-talks-accuse-us-of-pushing-war-in-afghanistan

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Bangladesh to move thousands more Rohingya Muslims to remote island despite criticism

JAN 27, 2021

DHAKA (REUTERS) - Bangladesh will move 2,000 to 3,000 more Rohingya Muslim refugees to a remote Bay of Bengal island this week, a navy officer said on Wednesday (Jan 27) , despite complaints by rights groups concerned about the site's vulnerability to storms and flooding.

Bangladesh has relocated about 3,500 of the refugees from neighbouring Myanmar to Bhasan Char island since early December from border camps where a million live in ramshackle huts perched on razed hills.

Bhasan Char emerged from the sea only two decades ago and is several hours by boat from the nearest port at Chittagong. The Rohingya, a minority group who fled violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, are not allowed to move off the island without government permission.

"Most probably, they will be taken to Chittagong tomorrow and the next day, they will be sent to Bhasan Char from there," Navy Commodore Abdullah Al Mamun Chowdhury told Reuters.

"Last time, we had preparations for 700 to 1,000 but finally more than 1,800 Rohingya moved there. People who moved earlier are calling their relatives and friends to go there. That's why more people are going there."

Bangladesh justifies the move to the island saying overcrowding in the camps in Cox's Bazar is leading to crimes.

It also dismisses concerns of floods, citing the construction of a 2m embankment for 12 km to protect the island along with housing for 100,000 people, as well as facilities such as cyclone centres and hospitals.

Its actions, nevertheless, have attracted criticism from relief agencies that had not been consulted on the previous transfers. The UNHCR did not immediately respond to a query from Reuters on the latest planned movement.

US.based advocacy group Refugees International has said the plan is "short-sighted and inhumane" while the Fortify Rights Group said the relocations may be "coerced and involuntary" and should cease immediately.

The government says the relocation is voluntary but some refugees from the first group that went there in early December have spoken about being coerced.

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/south-asia/bangladesh-to-move-thousands-more-rohingya-muslims-to-remote-island-despite

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‘The Finest Supermarket in Kabul’, the tale of a tragic bombing in Afghanistan

By Ele Pawelski

28 Jan 2021

January 28, 2011. It was a usual Friday afternoon in Kabul. Residents were praying, drinking, and shopping when the bomb tragically exploded in Wazir Akbar Khan.

The Finest Supermarket in Kabul creates a story of fictional characters involved in this real-life bombing in Kabul. The book is a window into Kabul on that day through three very distinct perspectives: an Afghan politician, an American journalist and a Canadian human rights lawyer.

Reading – or better yet listening to – The Finest Supermarket, readers can experience Afghanistan through the eyes of someone born there but also foreigners.  It takes you to the secret back of a tea shop in Kabul’s outskirts to the ritzy Safi Landmark Hotel to the shops lining Chicken and Butcher streets. Rich in description, you get to know how families, friends and co-workers live and work together in the capital.

I was in Kabul in 2007-08, and struck by its stunning beauty – particularly when the sun glints off the mountains in winter. Afghanistan stuck with me ever since. It’s so much deeper and richer than its portrayal in the news, and revealed an abundance of stories everywhere I looked. Many of my observations and understandings found their way into the pages, and each character’s vision of Afghanistan’s future.

First, we meet Merza, an Afghan parliamentarian who has been receiving ominous threats since he won a seat in the 2010 elections. He’s loath to tell his father and mother, who already disapprove of his new career. He is driving by the Finest when the bomb detonates and believes he’s the target. Alive, but shaken, he stops to help the wounded. He’s heartbroken that Afghanistan can’t heal itself.

“The president talked about bringing democracy to Afghanistan in his speech the other day. It’s a worthy goal. Being a politician is one of the toughest jobs imaginable right now, but we are just trying to make Afghanistan a better place. So much needs to change. Because of this, being a politician is very honourable.”

Next is Alec, an American journalist stationed in Kandahar who secretly travels to Kabul looking for new stories focused on local families and communities. After the blast, he rushes to the scene alongside other reporters. He interviews those injured and sees the damage firsthand. He’s concerned for the next generation of Afghans that have seen too much war and violence.

“Not that I’m an expert on the Taliban, but having covered their emergence and subsequent takeover of Kabul in the mid-90s, they are generally a brutal lot, even if there’re some softer elements within. They’re targeting foreigners and Afghans alike. Be careful with this story.”

The final chapter belongs to Elyssa, a Canadian human rights lawyer who is working on a training project for female judges while trying to avoid unwanted attention from a male judge. She was buying rugs and gets locked down in the café where she’d stopped for coffee. She follows news of the bomb and realizes her boyfriend may have gotten caught up in it but doesn’t know for sure. She’s distraught about her personal circumstances and wondering if she should stay in Afghanistan.

“A really tough day. There’s a security alert. The Finest Supermarket, I don’t know if you know it, but it’s a convenience store in Wazir Akbar Khan. I’m pretty sure it was attacked. I was there earlier today, only hours ago. It’s so strange.”

The Finest Supermarket captures a specific moment in time in Afghanistan.

It was amazing to relive my memories of Kabul while writing it, and rewarding to research points I didn’t already know but wanted to include, such as a brief reference to Afghanistan in the 1970s.

Live through a significant day in Kabul – buy the audiobook of Finest Supermarket in Kabul through Apple, Nook audiobooks, Google Play, Amazon, and other online stores.

https://www.khaama.com/the-finest-supermarket-in-kabul-the-tale-of-a-tragic-bombing-in-afghanistan-8768765/

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Taliban endorses Covid vaccination drive as WHO pledges to aid Afghanistan

January 27, 2021

The Taliban militant movement gave its backing on Tuesday for a coronavirus vaccination campaign in Afghanistan that has received a $112 million pledge from the World Health Organization's COVAX programme.

The immunisation drive will have to take place amid relentless violence in the country despite the government and the Taliban insurgents opening peace talks in September.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters that the group would "support and facilitate" the vaccination drive conducted via health centres. Officials believe the insurgents would not target vaccine teams as they would not be going door-to-door.

Announcing the funding, an Afghan health official said the programme would cover the 20 per cent of the country's 38 million population.

The COVAX programme is a global scheme to vaccinate people in poor and middle-income countries against the coronavirus. It aims to deliver at least 2 billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021 to cover 20 per cent of the most vulnerable people in 91 poor and middle-income countries.

Afghanistan's Deputy Health Minister Waheed Majroh told journalists it was going to take six months to get the vaccines but authorities were in discussions to get them earlier.

Afghanistan has registered 54,854 infections and 2,390 deaths - but experts say cases are significantly underreported due to low testing and limited access to medical facilities in the war-torn country.

Aside from COVAX, the country has also received a pledge of 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from India, Dr Ghulam Dastagir Nazari, head of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation at Afghanistan's health ministry, told Reuters.

"The AstraZeneca brand which is manufactured in India will arrive soon in Afghanistan," Nazari said, adding that the government was only concerned about the WHO approval of the vaccine and that the pre-qualification process has already started.

An Indian government source confirmed that 500,000 doses had been set aside for Afghanistan and another official said the first batch of vaccines would land in February, though Kabul had not yet adopted the protocols to administer them.

The World Bank and Asian Development Bank have also said they would finance vaccines for another 20 per cent of the population by the end of 2022, health ministry spokeswoman Masouma Jafari told Reuters.Live TV

https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/taliban-endorses-covid-vaccination-drive-as-who-pledges-to-aid-afghanistan-1763300-2021-01-27

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Iran, Taliban officials say US pushing war in Afghanistan

27th January 202

TEHRAN: Iranian and Taliban officials met in Tehran on Wednesday and accused the U.S. of provoking the continuation of war in Afghanistan, Iranian State TV reported.

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, told visiting Taliban political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar that the U.S. seeks to continue the war in neighboring Afghanistan.

“The U.S. strategy supports the continuation of war and bloodshed among various Afghan groups in the political spectrum,” Shamkhani was quoted as saying. He said the U.S. tries to blame insecurity and instability in the country on individual Afghan groups.

There was no immediate comment from the U.S., which signed a peace agreement with the Taliban last February and met its goal this month of reducing the number of troops in Afghanistan to about 2,500.

Taliban representatives and the Afghan government earlier this month resumed peace talks in Qatar, the Gulf Arab state where the insurgents maintain an office. The stop-and-go talks are aimed at ending decades of conflict. But frustration and fear have grown over a recent spike in violence, and both sides blame one another.

Baradar, who arrived Monday with a Taliban delegation, criticized the U.S. for allegedly breaking its commitments to the February deal. He did not elaborate.

“We do not trust the U.S. and will fight any group that is a mercenary for the U.S.,” he said.

Occasionally, Iranian and Taliban officials meet for what Tehran says are talks aimed at helping facilitate intra-Afghan dialogue.

Iran sees the presence of U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan and Iraq as a threat on its doorstep and routinely calls for their departure. Iran and Afghanistan have some 945 kilometers (some 585 miles) of common border.

https://www.newindianexpress.com/world/2021/jan/27/iran-taliban-officials-say-us-pushing-war-in-afghanistan-2255758.html

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Mideast

 

Thousands of Iranian Patients Ask UN Chief to Remove US Sanctions for Untroubled Access to Medicine

2021-January-27

“The illegal US economic sanctions have prevented our access to health care, medicine and medical supplies. In the last two years, we have repeatedly pursued supply of drugs and medical equipment with the Iranian government and even pharmaceutical companies or companies supplying drugs and medical equipment for a wide range of patients with special needs, mostly children and minors. But due to the implementation of the US illegal sanctions and, specially the obstacles posed by Washington to financial exchanges, the imports of drugs and medical equipment for these patients is not possible,” the letter said.

It added that the US sanctions have led to the loss of a significant number of patients, some of them have suffered serious physical injuries, and in general, the patients have suffered and sustained severe physical and psychological harms.

“We are still suffering from this shortage of medicine and medical equipment,” the letter noted.

It warned that dozens of thalassemia and epidermolysis bullosa patients, specially children, etc. have lost their lives due to the lack of their special-need medicine and medical equipment due to the US systematic and organized policy called comprehensive crippling sanctions against Iran.

The letter called on Guterres to take all necessary measures to prevent continued criminal sanctions against the oppressed and defenseless patients who are under the support of non-governmental organizations, and take necessary measures to implement human rights and humanitarian law in UN member states.

The letter was written by the heads of Iranian Thalassemia" Association, Iranian MS Association, EB House of Iran, Iranian Kidney Patients Support Association, Hemophilia Center of Iran and Iranian Autism Association, representing thousands of Iranian patients with special needs.

The US sanctions and restrictions on export of drugs and medical equipment to Iran have shortened the breath of patients suffering from cancer, hemophilia, epilepsy and thalassemia.

Despite the American officials' claims of not imposing sanctions on imports of drugs to Iran, some specific medications needed for rare diseases are hard to obtain in the country due to banking embargos that hamper money transactions which causes some Western companies to refuse to sell the necessary drugs and medical equipment to Tehran.

"The US has targeted the Iranian patients and they have planned to pressure those who are consumers of these drugs. Therefore, the vitamins and ordinary drugs are easily accessed in the market but the US is making its utmost attempts to prevent Iran from purchasing the vital medicine and those which are necessary for cancer patients," Head of the Iranian Society of Blood and Cancer of Children Hassan Abolqassemi told FNA.

He added that the crime committed by the US against the Iranian patients is worse than its crime in Hiroshima.

Meantime, Head of Iran Thalassemia Association Yunes Arab said that 90 thalassemia patients lost their life last year due to the lack of drugs and the US sanctions, adding that 60 other young patients also died in the current year.

"They would have been breathing a normal life if it hadn't been for the US sanctions on drugs," he told FNA.

The US embargos have also left impacts on the hemophilia patients.

"Basically, what the US is doing is a type of war crime; although the Americans declared that drugs and medical equipment are not sanctioned, what we witness is harsh sanctions in the field of drugs and medical equipment," former head of Iran's Hemophilia Association Ahmad Qavidel told FNA.

Also, Sara Nouri, the Managing-Director of Iran's MPS (Mucopolysaccharidosis) Patients Society, told FNA that the Association provides necessary medicine to the MPS patients but it has faced problems after the US sanctions.

"The most important medicine needed for the patients is a type of enzyme and they should receive them weekly," Nouri said, adding that 300 MPS patients have been identified in Iran so far but the number is expected to increase to 1,000.

"For instance, if a patient should receive 50 drugs in a period of time, he/she receives 5 to 10 drugs now due to the problems created by sanctions, and this will inflict serious harm to the patients' health," she warned.

Meantime, Dariush Nasabi Tehrani, the head of Iran's Epilepsy Association, cautioned of the shortage of medicine for the epileptic patients due to the US sanctions.

"Production of a number of medicine has been disrupted for the sanctions and the patients are forced to use the medicine produced by other companies which are highly expensive," Nasabi Tehrani told FNA.

"The embargos make these patients anxious and concerned about shortage of their drugs while they should be assured of easy accessibility to medicine due to the sensitiveness of their disease," he added.

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/13991108000429/Thsands-f-Iranian-Paiens-Ask-UN-Chief-Remve-US-Sancins-fr-Unrbled

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Top Security Official: Iran Not to Recognize Movements Empowered with War in Afghanistan

2021-January-27

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will never recognize a stream that wants to come to power through war in Afghanistan,” Shamkhani said in a meeting with the head of Taliban’s political bureau, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, and his accompanying delegation in Tehran.

He stressed the need for participation of all ethnic groups in deciding Afghanistan’s fate in a completely peaceful process.

Shamkhani described security of Afghanistan, specially in the provinces bordering Iran, as highly important, and underscored the need for Taliban's cooperation with the Afghan government to fight against any insecurity and confront the ISIL terrorist group’s moves.

He referred to US record of atrocities and warmongerings in the region, and said, "The US does not seek peace and security in Afghanistan. The US strategy is to continue war and bloodshed among different groups in Afghanistan.”

Shamkhani said that the US is seeking to stage a show of peace talks with the aim of creating a deadlock in the negotiations among various parties in Afghanistan to blame them for insecurity and instability.

Abdul Ghani Baradar, for his part, presented a report on the peace process in Afghanistan, and voiced regret about Trump's disloyalty to the implementation of the peace agreement.

"We do not trust the US and we will fight any stream that is the US mercenary," he added.

"We believe that all tribes and groups should participate and play a role in the future of Afghanistan," Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said.

He also emphasized the necessity for the establishment of security at Afghanistan-Iran border, and voiced Taliban’s readiness to cooperate with Tehran in this regard.

Afghanistan’s foreign ministry declared in a statement on Tuesday that it is informed of a delegation of Taliban group to Tehran to negotiate with Iranian officials on the Afghan peace process.

“The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has informed the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan about the visit of the Taliban delegation to Iran and has already requested and received the views of the Government of Afghanistan in this regard,” the statement said.

Elaborating on the purpose of the Taliban delegation's visit to Iran, it said in addition to a declaration of its views, Tehran informs the Taliban on the existence of a regional consensus on immediate ceasefire and a comprehensive peace agreement within the framework of the Republic system and preservation of Afghanistan’s constitutional values.

“Iran wants to ensure that the post-conflict Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven for the terrorist groups and remains a center of regional and international cooperation,” the statement added.

It expressed the hope that the Taliban would comply with the legitimate demands of the Afghan people to stop the bloodshed and ensure lasting peace.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Tuesday that a delegation of the Taliban group arrived in Tehran to negotiate with Iranian officials on the Afghan peace process.

Khatibzadeh said that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and his accompanying delegation have come to Tehran upon the invitation of the Iran’s foreign ministry.

“The Taliban delegation is scheduled to meet with senior Iranian diplomats to talk about the latest developments regarding the Afghan peace process and the related issues,” he added.

In relevant remarks in December 2020, Iranian Ambassador to the UN Majid Takht Ravanchi said that his country supports the Afghanistan peace negotiations, stressing that Tehran places the interests of the Afghan people above all other interests.

Takht Ravanchi said during a meeting of the UN Security Council on Afghanistan on Thursday December 17 that Iran fully endorses the ongoing peace talks in Doha, noting that what is of the primary importance for his country are the national interests in Afghanistan.

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/13991108000341/Tp-Secriy-Official-Iran-N-Recgnize-Mvemens-Empwered-wih-War-in

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Rouhani Blasts EU Troika for Non-Compliance with N. Deal Obligations

2021-January-27

Rouhani censured the EU members of the JCPOA for violation of their JCPOA commitments, stressing that Iran’s reciprocal move of step-by-step reduction of its JCPOA commitments cannot be criticized by them.

“All agree that the US should return to its [JCPOA] commitments,” he added.

In relevant remarks on Tuesday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Washington must first make up for its mistakes against Tehran if it wants to receive any response from the country.

Zarif wrote on his Twitter account on Tuesday that it is the US that has left the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with no excuse, adding that if Washington wants to see Tehran’s action, it should first make amends for the past mistakes.

He made it clear that Iran has stood firmly against the US sanctions for the past years, and it is the US which must show its good will first.

The Iranian foreign ministry on Monday dismissed the US Treasury Department’s statement on the necessity for a revision of the Sunset clauses in the nuclear deal with the world power, stressing that Washington should stop demands and remove the illegal sanctions against the country.

“We have not seen anything new about the nuclear deal. Our position is the same as before, and we should witness the removal of sanctions and the effective implementation of the nuclear deal by the US and other parties to the deal. Nothing will happen from Iran’s side until this happens and until we see the US adherence to Resolution 2231,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters in a press conference in Tehran.

“If the other side returns to its commitments and removes the sanctions in full, and the situation returns to January 20, 2017, all of Iran's actions are reversible, and Iran will act accordingly. We will wait for action.”

Khatibzadeh noted that Iran has heard lots of words from the Americans, saying, “If the new US administration wants to show that it is moving away from the previous administration's stances and returning to the implementation of its undertakings, it’s now time to act.”

Iran signed the JCPOA with six world states — namely the US, Germany, France, Britain, Russia, and China — in 2015.

Trump, a stern critic of the historic deal, unilaterally pulled Washington out of the JCPOA in May 2018, and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic in defiance of global criticism in an attempt to strangle the Iranian oil trade, but to no avail since its "so-called maximum pressure policy" has failed to push Tehran to the negotiating table.

In response to the US’ unilateral move, Tehran has so far rowed back on its nuclear commitments four times in compliance with Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, but stressed that its retaliatory measures will be reversible as soon as Europe finds practical ways to shield the mutual trade from the US sanctions.

Tehran has particularly been disappointed with failure of the three European signatories to the JCPOA -- Britain, France and Germany -- to protect its business interests under the deal after the US' withdrawal.

On January 5, Iran took a final step in reducing its commitments, and said it would no longer observe any operational limitations on its nuclear industry, whether concerning the capacity and level of uranium enrichment, the volume of stockpiled uranium or research and development.

Meantime, Biden has recently said in a CNN article that he wants a renegotiation of the contents of the deal before he agrees to rejoin the agreement.

“I will offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy. If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations. With our allies, we will work to strengthen and extend the nuclear deal's provisions, while also addressing other issues of concern,” he wrote, mentioning that he wants changes to the contents of the nuclear deal and guarantees from Tehran that it would be open for compromise to strike multiple deals over its missile and regional powers as well as a number of other issues that have been the bones of contention between the two sides in the last four decades.

In response, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had stressed that the US has violated the nuclear deal and is in no position to ask for any conditions for its return to the JCPOA, adding that it's Tehran that has its own terms to allow the US back into the internationally endorsed agreement.

The foreign minister has reiterated time and again that Tehran would not change even a single word of the agreement, and cautioned the US that it needs to pay reparations for the damage it has inflicted on Iran through its retreat from the nuclear agreement and give enough insurances that it would not go for initiating the trigger mechanism again before it could get back to the deal.

In relevant remarks earlier this month, Spokesman for the AEOI Behrouz Kamalvandi said his country enjoys the capability to produce 120 kg of uranium with 20% purity in 8 months, that's 4 months faster than the one-year period required by a recent parliament approval.

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/13991108000467/Rhani-Blass-EU-Trika-fr-Nn-Cmpliance-wih-N-Deal-Obligains

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Iran Castigates Germany’s Arming of Ex-Iraqi Dictator Saddam with WMDs

2021-January-27

Speaking at the UN Disarmament Conference Meeting in Geneva on Tuesday, Baqayee Hamaneh blasted Germany for arming former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein with chemical weapons, stressing that Federal Government of Germany is responsible for taking serious probe into the issue.

“All real and legal entities that in any way participated in arming the former Iraqi dictator with chemical weapons are complicit in Saddam's war crimes,” he noted, adding, “This issue will not be forgotten with the passage of time.”

Welcoming the remarks of German representative, who claimed the pursuit of the case of German firms involved in the sale of lethal chemical substances to Saddam, Iran’s diplomat stressed, “Islamic Republic of Iran will never ignore planning and pursuing this blatant oppression and expects the German government to inform public about the result of its research including role of officials of the country in terms of negligence and guilt in the transfer of illegal chemicals to former Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein.”

The regime of Saddam was provided with the chemical weapons by Western countries, mainly Germany, France, the UK and the US.

Then European states, over the eight-year war, either kept silent in the face of the chemical attacks or turned down Iran's frequent request for deployment of experts for field investigations. The declassified documents in the US, however, show that Washington was aware of the chemical weapons use by Saddam regime since the onset of the war, and it had backed the usage of the chemical weapons over the years.

In 1988, Iran presented the UN the full information on the chemical attacks committed by the Iraqi Baathist regime since January 1981 till March 1988; a report with striking data: more than 56,700 people lost their lives in the attacks.

In relevant remarks in September last year, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif commemorated the Iranians' sacrifices during the 8 years of the Iraqi imposed war in 1980s, warning enemies that they may initiate war against his nation, but won't be the one who finishes it off.

“We commemorate our fallen heroes—40 years after Saddam’s invasion and start of 8-year Iran-Iraq war. We stood tall, with the world supporting the aggressor—even with chemical weapons,” Zarif wrote on his twitter page on Monday September 21, 2020.

He reminded the Iranian people of the need to strengthen self-reliance in the country, addressing the enemies that “those who start a war don’t end it.”

“War has no winner,” Zarif underlined.

The former regime of Iraq, backed by some Western countries, particularly the US, attacked various parts of Iran by chemical weapons during the eight-year war (1980-1988) against Iran.

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/13991108000527/Iran-Casigaes-Germany%E2%80%99s-Arming-f-Ex-Irai-Dicar-Saddam-wih-WMDs

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Iran will ‘demolish’ Tel Aviv, Haifa if attacked by Israel, warns top IRGC commander

Yaghoub Fazeli

27 January 2021

Iran will “demolish” the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa if an Israeli attack happens, Iran’s top military spokesperson warned on Wednesday.

It came a day after the Israeli army said new plans were being drawn up to counter Tehran’s nuclear capabilities.

For all the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

If Israel “makes the smallest mistake against the Islamic Republic, we will strike the missile bases that they say they would use to attack Iran from, and also raze Haifa and Tel Aviv to the ground in the shortest time possible,” Brig. Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi, the semi-official Fars news agency quoted him as saying.

Israel does not realise Iran’s military capabilities, he said, adding: “This cancerous tumour in the region (Israel) must collapse as it has caused a lot of damage to Muslims.”

Israel’s top general said on Tuesday that its military was refreshing its operational plans against Iran and that any US return to the 2015 nuclear deal would be “wrong.”

“Iran can decide that it wants to advance to a bomb, either covertly or in a provocative way. In light of this basic analysis, I have ordered the IDF to prepare a number of operational plans, in addition to the existing ones. We are studying these plans and we will develop them over the next year,” Lieutenant-General Aviv Kohavi said in an address to Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies.

“A return to the 2015 nuclear agreement, or even if it is a similar accord with several improvements, is bad and wrong from an operational and strategic point of view,” he said.

Kochavi’s remarks came nearly a week after US President Joe Biden’s inauguration, who has pledged to rejoin the nuclear deal if Iran returns to complying with it.

Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, pulled Washington out of the deal in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign – a move welcomed by Israel.

Tehran has said it will only take action after the US rejoins the deal.

“It was the US that broke the deal—for no reason. It must remedy its wrong; then Iran will respond,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad said in a Twitter post on Tuesday.

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/01/28/Iran-will-demolish-Tel-Aviv-Haifa-if-attacked-by-Israel-warns-top-IRGC-commander-

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Palestine welcomes US President Biden’s commitment to two-state solution

27 January 2021

The Palestinian leadership on Wednesday welcomed the new US administration’s intention to reopen the offices of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington, closed under former president Donald Trump.

“We welcome the contents of the speech of the US administration’s representative to the (UN) Security Council yesterday,” Jibril Rajoub, a senior official in the ruling Fatah party, told AFP.

“The opening of the east Jerusalem consulate, the reopening of the PLO office in Washington, and the new US administration’s commitment to the two-state solution are welcome positive indicators,” he said.

On Tuesday, Washington’s interim UN envoy Richard Mills said that newly sworn-in US President Joe Biden intended to “restore credible US engagement with Palestinians as well as Israelis.”

Biden intended to “restore US assistance programs that support economic development and humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people and to take steps to re-open diplomatic missions that were closed by the last US administration,” he added.

Under Trump, the US had stopped supporting the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and closed the Palestinians’ liaison office in Washington.

At the same time, the White House stepped up its support of Israel, recognizing Jerusalem as its capital and declaring settlements should not be considered breach of international law.

“We expect that the new administration will raise a red card to the Israeli unilateral expansionist steps on the ground, dictating realities to undermine any possibility for the emergence of a Palestinian independent sovereign state,” Rajoub said.

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/01/27/Palestine-welcomes-US-President-Biden-s-commitment-to-two-state-solution

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Israel waging ‘psychological war,’ says top Iranian official

27 January 2021

A top Iranian official Wednesday said arch-foe Israel was waging a “psychological war” after the Israeli army said new “offensive options” were being drawn up in case they were needed against the Islamic Republic.

Mahmoud Vaezi, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s chief of staff, also vowed that his country was ready and willing to defend itself.

“We have no intention of going to war, but we are serious about defending the country,” he said.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Israel, a close US ally, accuses Iran of seeking to build a nuclear bomb, a charge Tehran denies. Israel also frequently targets Iran-backed militant groups in Lebanon, Syria and the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s military chief General Aviv Kochavi said Tuesday he had ordered new plans be drawn up this year to counter Iran’s nuclear capabilities, in case political leaders decided to target the country.

“The power to initiate them lies with the political echelon,” Kochavi stressed. “However, the offensive options need to be prepared, ready and on the table.”

Iran’s Vaezi shot back on Wednesday that “they are conducting a psychological war.”

Responding to a question on the sidelines of a council of ministers meeting, he charged that Israel has “practically no plans, no capacity.”

Iran’s recent military maneuvers, testing missiles and drones, Vaezi added, showed that “our armed forces are trained” to defend Iran.

Kochavi’s remarks came nearly a week after the inauguration of US President Joe Biden, who has signaled he wants to return to dialogue with Iran.

His predecessor Donald Trump had unilaterally withdrawn Washington in 2018 from a nuclear deal Tehran had struck with major world powers.

Biden’s team has argued Iran must first return to strict compliance with its nuclear commitments under the deal with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

Tehran has demanded an “unconditional” lifting of punishing sanctions first, and called on Washington to stop seeking to “extract concessions.”

Israel rejects the original nuclear deal, and Kochavi reiterated its view that “any agreement that resembles the 2015 agreement is a bad thing, both strategically and operationally.”

“Pressure on Iran must continue – Iran must not have the capacity to develop a nuclear bomb.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/01/27/Iran-military-Israel-waging-psychological-war-says-top-Iranian-official

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Turkey's authorities detain 126 suspects over ties to ISIS in nationwide operation

Tuqa Khalid

27 January 2021

Turkey's authorities detained at least 126 individuals over suspected ties to the ISIS terrorist group in a nationwide operation, state broadcaster TRT reported on Wednesday.

Turkish prosecutors in the northwestern Balikesir province issued arrest warrants for 148 suspects as part of the probe into ISIS activities.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

The security operations spanned 58 provinces in Turkey led by anti-terror squads and intelligence officers.

"In the operation carried out simultaneously, at least 126 suspects, who were alleged to have links to [ISIS] and provide financial support to the terror group, were arrested," TRT reported citing a security source.

"Many organisational documents, arms, cash, and a notebook including money transfers were seized during the operation. Efforts are ongoing to nab the remaining 22 suspects," the state broadcaster added.

ISIS has conducted numerous attacks across Turkey, including on a nightclub in Istanbul on January 1, 2017 in which 39 people were killed, and a bombing in the city's historic heart that killed 12 in 2016.

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/01/27/Turkey-s-authorities-detain-126-suspects-over-ties-to-ISIS-in-nationwide-operation

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Australia

 

Uncle Hashim Awarded Order Of Australia Medal For service to the Canberra Muslim and Malaysian Community

January 27, 2021

KUALA LUMPUR: Uncle Hashim’s name may not ring a bell among Malaysians here. But this person is not your ordinary uncle in his home country.

In Australia, Abdul Rahman Hashim can be considered a famous person.

His years of voluntary service to the Canberra Muslim and Malaysian community have not only earned him a place in the hearts of the community but also recognition by the Australian government, which awarded him with the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in conjunction with the Australia Day celebration yesterday.

Just three years after migrating to Australia in 1969, Rahman had already initiated the Australian Malaysian Society as an effort to bring Malaysians in Canberra together.

“The idea was to look after them. The major problem was that there was no halal meat. So, with a couple of friends, I initiated a discussion with the federal government and they made it legal for halal slaughtering,” he said in an interview with ABC radio, shared through the Anil Sabah Al Ahmad Masjid YouTube channel.

Throughout his years in Canberra, Rahman had also volunteered in Canberra Hospital as pastoral carer to Muslim patients, especially when his wife was also treated at the hospital for cancer.

Despite his age, the 79-year-old still teaches the Quran on a voluntary basis to the Muslim community as well as conducts Islamic funeral and burial services in Canberra.

“We train people but many are reluctant because you see all sorts of bodies, normal and also deaths caused by accident. So, you need to be able to handle all that,” he said.

According to an article by Australasian Muslim Times, the social activist was recognised for his career with the Australian Public Service. He had also been awarded Rotary’s highest recognition, the “Paul Harris Fellow”, in 1987 during his membership with the Canberra City Rotary Club.

He was also involved in the establishment of various societies, including the Canberra Council for Overseas Students, Malaysian Students Association, Canberra Muslim Students Association and the Australian Malaysian Society during his younger days at the University of Canberra.

His latest effort was the launching of the Australian Muslim Aged and Respite Care, a platform to serve the Muslim community in Canberra and make use of the government-paid welfare services with the objective of providing the Muslim elderly with a comforting, home-like environment with full medical care.

The community newspaper explained that the award was granted by the governor-general of Australia as a recognition of his enthusiasm and passion to provide for the Muslim community in the country.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2021/01/27/malaysian-awarded-order-of-australia-medal-for-service-to-muslims/

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URL:  https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/no-piece-land-this-earth/d/124167

 

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