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Islamic World News ( 7 Oct 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Saudi Arabia Pressures Bangladesh to Issue Passports to Rohingya Living in the Kingdom for Almost Forty Years


New Age Islam News Bureau

08 October 2020

  

Bangladesh’s decision to issue national passports to Rohingya living in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) will be harmful to the country’s interest, opined foreign affairs experts.

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• As George W. Bush Was To Make Palestinian State Speech, 9/11 Happened: Prince Bandar

• Overwhelming Majority of Arab Nations Stand in Opposition to Israel

• Pakistan's Failed Attempt to Get Four Indian Nationals Listed Under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee: India Says UNSC Should Not Be Misused To Name Innocent Civilians as Terrorists

• Jordan’s King Abdullah Appoints Palace Aide Bisher Al-Khasawneh Prime Minister

• France Accuses Turkey Of ‘Military Involvement’ In Nagorno-Karabakh

• US Hopeful of Islamabad-Kabul ‘Side’ Agreement

 South Asia

• Saudi Arabia Pressures Bangladesh to Issue Passports to Rohingya Living in the Kingdom for Almost Forty Years

• Afghan president urges Taliban to 'have courage' and silence guns

• NATO Urges Taliban to Curb Civilians Casualties amid Peace Talks

• Trump: All Troops in Afghanistan should be ‘Home by Christmas’

• Peace Talks to Conclude in Months, Says Khalilzad

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Arab world

• As George W. Bush Was To Make Palestinian State Speech, 9/11 Happened: Prince Bandar

• ‘My Friend Far Away’: UAE, Israel Singers Unite For Song In First Music Collaboration

• Explosion rocks Syria’s southwestern city of Deraa: State TV

• After blast in northwest Syria, US State Department says rise in attacks troubling

• Kuwait’s parliament endorses Sheikh Meshal al-Sabah as crown prince

• Arab Coalition intercepts Houthi drone in Yemeni airspace

• Truck bomb in Syria’s Al-Bab kills at least 18'

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Mideast

• Overwhelming Majority of Arab Nations Stand in Opposition to Israel

• Iran Files Official Protest at Azerbaijan, Armenia for Border Misfire

• President Rouhani Warns against Transfer of Terrorists from Syria to Karabakh

• Azerbaijan, Armenia Apologize for Misfire at Iran, Promise Not to Repeat

• Palestinian village installs cameras, accusing Israeli settlers of frequent attacks

• Yemen army captures key military base from Houthis

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India

• Pakistan's Failed Attempt to Get Four Indian Nationals Listed Under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee: India Says UNSC Should Not Be Misused To Name Innocent Civilians as Terrorists

• NSA Ajit Doval Meets Afghan Peace Negotiator Abdullah Abdullah in Delhi

• Maharashtra: Former minority commission chairman meets governor to seek opening of mosques

• Three terrorists killed in Shopian encounter

• Jammu and Kashmir L-G expresses anguish over militant attack on political leader in Ganderbal

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Africa

• Jordan’s King Abdullah Appoints Palace Aide Bisher Al-Khasawneh Prime Minister

• Gunmen kidnap 20 villagers in central Mali

• Jordan to administer 230,000 shots of seasonal flu vaccine

• After Sudan’s peace deal, the hard task begins of gathering the guns

• Mali frees more jihadists, boosting hostage release scenario

• Nigerian displaced face jihadist attacks after returning home

• Security Forces Bust Terrorist Cell Planning Attacks in Morocco

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Europe

• France Accuses Turkey Of ‘Military Involvement’ In Nagorno-Karabakh

• Azerbaijan’s FM to meet international mediators about Nagorno-Karabakh

• Fears terrorists will exploit Europe’s migrant routes in new ISIS recruitment drive

• Far-Right Extremism Taints German Security Services in Hundreds of Cases

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North America

• US Hopeful of Islamabad-Kabul ‘Side’ Agreement

• Twitter ban part of US attempt to portray Iran as 'moral danger' to Americans

• Nation’s deadliest domestic terrorist inspiring new generation of hate-filled ‘monsters,’ FBI records show

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Pakistan

• Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa Has Reiterated the Army’s Resolve to Continue Fight against Terrorism

• WB sees poverty rise, muted recovery in Pakistan over two years

• Pakistan SC declines to extend detention of accused in Daniel Pearl murder case

• Afghanistan’s poppy crop poses threat to Pakistan, says Swati

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Southeast Asia

• PAS Says It Can Foster Unity between Muslim and Non-Muslims In Sabah

• Indonesia invites Malaysian companies to co-develop halal products industry

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/saudi-arabia-pressures-bangladesh-issue/d/123081

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 Saudi Arabia Pressures Bangladesh to Issue Passports to Rohingya Living in the Kingdom for Almost Forty Years

07.10.2020

Arafatul Islam

 

Bangladesh’s decision to issue national passports to Rohingya living in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) will be harmful to the country’s interest, opined foreign affairs experts.

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Almost 40 years ago, Saudi Arabia took in tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees who were facing persecution in Myanmar. Now, Riyadh wants Muslim-majority Bangladesh to issue passports to some 54,000 Rohingya.

Last month, Bangladesh's foreign minister, AK Abdul Momen, said the Saudi government told Dhaka it "would be helpful" if the refugees were given Bangladeshi passports as the kingdom "doesn't keep stateless people."

The Rohingya in Saudi Arabia do not hold a passport from any country. Even the children of the refugees who were born in Saudi Arabia and speak Arabic are not offered Saudi citizenship.

"Many of the refugees have never come to Bangladesh and have no idea about the country. They know Saudi culture and speak the Arabic language," Momen told a press conference in the capital, Dhaka.

The Muslim Rohingya are an ethnic minority originating in Myanmar's Rakhine state. However, Myanmar refuses to recognize them as citizens.

For decades, the Rohingya have fled from persecution to other countries, most of them to neighboring Bangladesh.

Over 2 million Bangladeshi expats work in Saudi Arabia, sending over $3.5 billion (€2.98 billion) in remittances last year, which is a major source of income for the poor South Asian country. Dhaka and Riyadh also have strong political and defense ties.

Saudi Arabia uses economic leverage

Saudi Arabia has reportedly threatened Bangladesh with consequences if Dhaka doesn't provide passports to the Rohingya.

According to Bangladeshi media, Saudi Arabia could limit foreign workers from Bangladesh and put pressure on Bangladeshis currently working in the kingdom.

Foreign Minister Momen has acknowledged receiving these threats from Saudi officials. Bangladesh's dependence on remittances makes it difficult to ignore the pressure.

"Given the issue of remittances from Bangladeshi migrant workers in Saudi Arabia, the influence is no doubt massive," Shafiur Rahman, a Rohingya expert based in the UK, told DW.

Michael Kugelman, a South Asia expert at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center, said Bangladesh may be forced to compromise to save its labor market.

"Riyadh knows that Bangladeshi expats working in the kingdom provide large remittances back home and are viewed by Dhaka as a key economic asset," he told DW.

"Threatening to expel large numbers of these expats could send alarm bells ringing through Dhaka, putting more pressure on Bangladeshi authorities to take a step they'd prefer not to take," he added.

Bangladesh is already struggling to host over 1 million Rohingya refugees.

Myanmar too dangerous

Momen said Bangladeshi passports will be given only to those Rohingya who can prove that they already held one in the past.

"Saudi Arabia knows that the Rohingya refugees are citizens of Myanmar. The kingdom should talk to that country first in this regard," he said.

Read more: The voice of the Rohingya refugees

In August 2017, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh, escaping a campaign of persecution the UN has called "a textbook definition of ethnic cleansing."

"Since the Burmese regime has been persecuting the Rohingya community in Myanmar since the early 1970s, they have never had the chance to hold Burmese passports," said Nay San Lwin, a Rohingya refugee who lived in Saudi Arabia for a decade.

"Those who fled Myanmar to Saudi Arabia had to use passports of other countries, including Bangladesh," Lwin told DW, adding that the refugees were correctly identified upon arrival as Burmese nationals by Saudi authorities.

"It's irrelevant now which passport they used at that time," he said. 

Why doesn't Saudi Arabia grant citizenship?

While Saudi Arabia provides Rohingya refugees with residency permits, it doesn't offer them citizenship.

"One could make a robust argument that these Rohingya deserve Saudi citizenship, given how long they've been in the country," Kugelman said.

"But Riyadh likely hesitates to provide it, because if it did so it would have a greater legal and moral obligation to provide more assistance to a community that it likely regards as a burden," he added.

Lwin, who is co-founder of Free Rohingya Coalition, said very few Rohingya have received Saudi citizenship.

"Most of the Rohingya refugees in Saudi Arabia speak fluent Arabic. Only a few dozen of them obtained Saudi citizenship in the late 1950s and early 1960s," he said, adding Saudi citizenship rules are very strict.

How could Saudi Arabia help?

Saudi Arabia could play a bigger role in the world's response to the Rohingya crisis, but the kingdom has not traditionally shown interest in promoting human rights.

"Saudi Arabia, as one of the world's wealthiest and most influential Muslim-majority states, should ideally position itself as a champion of the Rohingya cause," Kugelman said.

"This could entail making efforts to improve their plight in Saudi Arabia, providing humanitarian assistance to Rohingya refugees based in other countries, and pressuring Myanmar to ease up on its harsh crackdown on the Rohingya so that there are possibilities for safe repatriations of Rohingya back to Myanmar," he added. 

Lwin believes that making Myanmar safe for the Rohingya community is the only solution that the international community, including Saudi Arabia, should focus on.

"As a powerful country in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia can take the lead by urging Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries and their allies to place sanctions on Myanmar," he said.

"The permanent solution for the Rohingya is to end the ongoing genocide against them in Myanmar. The world needs to unite and end the Rohingya crisis, and Saudi Arabia can play a vital role here," he added.

The Saudi government did not respond to request for comment on the Rohingya issue.

https://www.dw.com/en/saudi-arabia-wants-bangladesh-to-accept-rohingya/a-55187748

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As George W. Bush was to make Palestinian state speech, 9/11 happened: Prince Bandar

Tommy Hilton and Omar Elkatouri

07 October 2020

 

Tommy Hilton and Omar Elkatouri, Al Arabiya English Wednesday 07 October 2020

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US President George W. Bush was about to give a speech saying he would work toward recognizing a Palestinian state but the September 11 attacks diverted US attention, revealed Saudi Arabia’s former Ambassador to the US Prince Bandar bin Sultan on Wednesday.

Prince Bandar was Saudi Arabia’s representative in Washington from 1983 to 2005, during which he formed close relationships with successive American presidents and represented the Kingdom in the Israel-Palestine peace process.

In an exclusive three-part Al Arabiya interview, Prince Bandar shared his frustrations with the Palestinian leadership during his tenure, accusing Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) head Yasser Arafat of undermining the peace process.

In the final part of the interview, the prince recalled how a peace initiative by Saudi Arabia’s then-Prince Abdullah (who later ruled as king from 2005 to 2013) came close to fruition – only for the process to be derailed by the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the US.

Prince Bandar recalled how Arafat refused to agree to a deal at the Camp David 2000 Summit, hosted by then-US President Bill Clinton.

However, Prince Bandar said that a Saudi Arabian-led initiative almost came to fruition following the failure of the summit and the election of George W. Bush, who took office in January 2001.

“After the new president, George W. Bush, came to office, Prince Abdullah made a second attempt and a great effort. He visited the US and visited the president on his ranch, and important points were reached,” recalled Prince Bandar.

“Bush agreed that in late August, early September, when he was going to give a speech in front of the UN, that he would include a paragraph on the Palestinian cause, and that he would recognize both the Palestinian and Israeli states, and that work was being done to achieve this goal, and to add some paragraphs that the Palestinians were demanding,” he added.

According to Prince Bandar, Bush assigned Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA chief George Tenet, and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to work on Bush’s speech with him.

Having semi-agreed on a speech, Powell reportedly called Prince Bandar, saying the following: “Tomorrow I have to go to Latin America, there is a meeting of the countries of South America, and I have to give a speech there.”

“I return on the night of September 10, on September 11 let us meet and finish this. Then I’ll send it to the President for final approval, and we’ll go to New York,” Powell reportedly said.

Prince Bandar and Powell then organized a meeting to be held on September 11, 2001, with Tenet and Rice.

“Unfortunately, this was not meant to be,” recalled Prince Bandar.

“The day of September 11 requires no explanation. The Palestinian cause became the least concern for America and for much of the world.”

Prince Bandar continued to serve as Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the US until 2005 and was known for having a close relationship with President George W. Bush.

He served as the secretary-general of the Saudi National Security Council from 2005 to 2015 and the Kingdom’s national intelligence chief from 2014 to 2016.

His daughter, Princess Reema bin Bandar, is the Kingdom’s current ambassador to the US.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2020/10/07/As-George-W-Bush-was-to-recognize-Palestinian-state-9-11-happened-Prince-Bandar

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Overwhelming Majority of Arab Nations Stand in Opposition to Israel

Oct 07, 2020

 

A recent poll conducted by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Doha showed that an overall 88% of the Arab world population

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The poll indicated that Algeria with 99%, Lebanon with 94%, Tunisia and Jordan with 93% rank as the first four nations standing strongly against normalization of ties with the Zionist regime.

The result showed that the nations viewed Israel as the primary threat their country was facing.

When asked whether they would “support or oppose diplomatic recognition of Israel by your country” only respondents in Saudi Arabia and Sudan came in at less than 80 percent for “oppose”.

The survey also shows a strong opposition to Israel among the Perian Gulf Arab staes where 90% of people in both Qatar and Kuwait are against a recognition of Israel. In Saudi Arabia 65% have voiced opposition to Israel, while 29% more have reserved an answer.

In Sudan, an Arab African nation that is under much pressure by the US to recognize Israel, 79% have rejected any recognition of Israel, while just 13% of respondents have agreed to normalization.

Even in the two countries that already recognize Israel – Jordan and Egypt – opposition was very high, at 93 percent and 85 percent, respectively.

The survey results shows that respondents opposing a recognition of Israel are driven by different reasons, including the racist policies of the Zionist regime and continued occupation of the Palestinian lands.

The 2019-2020 Arab Opinion Index was based on face-to-face interviews conducted with 28,000 individual respondents across 13 Arab countries, including Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt and Mauritania, between November 2019 and September 2020.

Thousands of people in the Arab states have so far staged rallies, denouncing the recent agreement between the UEA and Bahrain and Israel to normalize ties.

Thousands of people in the Arab states have so far staged rallies, denouncing the recent agreement between the UEA and Bahrain and Israel to normalize ties.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed agreements with Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain's Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani in a US-brokered event hosted by President Donald Trump at the White House on September 15.

Palestinians, who seek an independent state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital view the deals as betrayal of their cause.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas protested the normalization deals with Israel, saying they will be fruitless as long as the United States and the Israeli regime do not recognize the rights of the Palestinian nation and refuse to resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees.

He reiterated that there will be no peace, security or stability for anyone in the region unless the Israeli regime ended its occupation of Palestinian land, and Palestinians could restore their full rights as stipulated in international resolutions.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990716000985

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Pakistan's Failed Attempt to Get Four Indian Nationals Listed Under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee: India Says UNSC Should Not Be Misused To Name Innocent Civilians as Terrorists

Oct 8, 2020

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council should not be misused by countries with "retaliatory intent to name innocent civilians as terrorist" without credible evidence by invoking non-transparent working methods and procedures, India has said, referring to Pakistan's failed attempt to get four Indian nationals listed under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee.

Pakistan had submitted the names of Indian nationals Angara Appaji, Gobinda Patnaik, Ajoy Mistry and Venumadhav Dongara for designation under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council.

However, Pakistan's attempt was thwarted last month after the US, the UK, France, Germany and Belgium blocked the move in the Council to list Appaji and Patnaik. According to sources, no evidence was given by Pakistan in its case to get the individuals listed. Similarly, an earlier attempt by Pakistan to list Mistry and Dongara was blocked by the Council around June/July.

"We believe that UN Security Council continues to be an effective forum for the maintenance of international peace and security and combating terrorism.

"However, it should also be ensured that the forum is not misused by countries with retaliatory intent to name innocent civilians as terrorist without credible evidence by invoking non-transparent working methods and procedures,” First Secretary and Legal Adviser in India's Permanent Mission to the UN Yedla Umasankar said on Tuesday at the 6th Committee of the UN General Assembly on 'Measures to eliminate international terrorism'.

Without naming Pakistan, he said, “India has been and continues to be a victim of terrorism sponsored across our borders. We have had firsthand experience of the cruel link between transnational organised crime and terrorism." Umashankar said India condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and no cause whatsoever or grievance can justify terrorism, including state-sponsored cross-border terrorism.

"Our fight against terrorism should not only seek to eliminate terrorists and disrupt terror organisations/networks, but should also identify/hold accountable and take strong measures against states that encourage, support and finance terrorism, provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups," he said.

Umasankar said the fight against terrorism has to be unrelenting and across all fronts and the flow of resources to terror linked entities needs to be completely stopped by collective inter-state efforts.

“The international community cannot and should not be selective in dealing with the terrorists groups or in dismantling terror infrastructure. India strongly condemns direct or indirect financial assistance provided by some States to terrorist groups and/or individuals members thereof,” he said.

India also called on the need to work together to expose and destroy the linkages that exist between terrorists and their supporters.

“We need an international mechanism to ensure accountability and justice, enhanced dialogue and broaden understanding amongst member states,” Umasankar said.

While the threat emanating from international terrorism is looming large, the inability of the UN to agree on a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism remains “one of the most glaring shortcomings" in the international legislative framework, which could have boosted enforcement efforts to destroy safe havens of terrorists, their financial flows and their support networks, he noted.

Umasankar also underscored the importance and need for early finalisation and conclusion of the draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT), which will reflect the international community's commitment to cooperate in combating terrorism.

He said with advancement in technology and an over flowing cyber world, terrorists are gaining access to infinite resources of “DO IT YOURSELF” kits on issues ranging from making bombs to executing, beheadings besides securing communications and flow of funds.

“The proponents and perpetrators of these nefarious acts cleverly adopt emerging technologies for furthering their ideologies and accomplishing their evil acts,” Umasankar said.

Asserting that the only effective way to tackle terrorism is by way of concerted international cooperation and genuine collaboration among the States, Umasankar said combined international efforts by way of extradition, prosecution, information exchange and capacity building go a long way in countering the menace of terrorism which is threatening the global community.

Umasankar said normative efforts at the United Nations need to be coordinated through collaboration with other fora like Financial Action Task Force (FATF). He said the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (GCTS) being discussed by the UN General Assembly over the last decade has resulted in little impact on the ground.

He also stressed that while making every effort to combat terrorism, the UN and its member states should consider the rights of victims of terrorism and obligation of states towards the victims of terrorism under international law.

“A vast majority of victims of terrorism are often women and children. It's high time for us to try and strengthen efforts to achieve the objective of putting in place a global legal framework in the form of CCIT to counter a global scourge. This will provide a legal basis for global fight against terrorism as all member states will have a multilateral platform to counter terrorism,” Umasankar said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/unsc-should-not-be-misused-with-retaliatory-intent-to-name-innocent-civilians-as-terrorists-india/articleshow/78547810.cms

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Jordan’s King Abdullah appoints palace aide Bisher al-Khasawneh Prime Minister

08 October 2020

Jordan’s King Abdullah on Wednesday appointed veteran diplomat and palace aide Bisher al Khasawneh as the new prime minister, days after accepting the resignation of Omar al-Razzaz, the royal palace said.

The monarch dissolved parliament on September 27 at the end of its four-year term, a move that under constitutional rules meant the government had to resign within a week.

In a letter of designation, the monarch said he entrusted Khasawneh, who has been a palace advisor since last year after a career mostly spent as a diplomat and peace negotiator with Israel, to form a cabinet of qualified ministers who would rise to the country’s challenges.

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

Khasawneh will oversee parliamentary elections due on November 10 whose outcome is expected under an electoral law that marginalizes the Islamist opposition to maintain a majority of pro-government deputies.

The country is facing a peak in COVID-19 infections at a time of rising popular discontent over worsening economic conditions and curbs on public freedoms under emergency laws.

Jordan’s economy is expected to shrink by 6 percent this year as it grapples with its worst economic crisis in many years, with unemployment and poverty aggravated by the pandemic.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/10/08/Jordan-s-King-Abdullah-appoints-palace-aide-Bisher-al-Khasawneh-Prime-Minister

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France accuses Turkey of ‘military involvement’ in Nagorno-Karabakh

07 October 2020

France on Wednesday accused Turkey of “military involvement” on the side of Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region.

“The new aspect is that there is military involvement by Turkey which risks fueling the internationalization of the conflict,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told parliament.

Armenia and Azerbaijan, two former Soviet republics, have for decades been locked in a conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnically Armenian area which broke away from Azerbaijan in a 1990s war that cost about 30,000 lives.

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

Heavy fighting erupted again on September 27.

Both sides blame the other for starting the latest hostilities.

The conflict has drawn in regional players, with Turkey supporting Azerbaijan and Armenia hoping that its ally Russia, which has so far stayed on the sidelines, will step in.

Turkey has been accused of deploying fighters from Syria to support Azerbaijan in the fighting.

French President Emmanuel Macron recently claimed Ankara had sent Syrian “jihadists” to the region, accusing Turkey of crossing a “red line.”

Turkey has not responded publicly.

Le Drian on Wednesday said France deplored “a large number of civilian casualties for little territorial progress on the part of Azerbaijan, given it is Azerbaijan that initiated the conflict.”

He repeated the call for an immediate end to the fighting and a return to negotiations “without conditions” under mediation by the so-called Minsk group co-chaired by France, Russia and the United States.

“There will be meetings tomorrow in Geneva, other Mondays in Moscow and we hope that this will lead to the opening of negotiations,” the minister said.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/10/07/France-accuses-Turkey-of-military-involvement-in-Nagorno-Karabakh

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US hopeful of Islamabad-Kabul ‘side’ agreement

08 Oct 2020

WASHINGTON: The US negotiator seeking to end Afghanistan’s war voiced hope on Wednesday that the Kabul government can reach a side deal with Pakistan, whose historic support of the Taliban has long tested relations.

The Taliban and Afghan government have opened slow-moving peace talks in Qatar as the United States starts withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan to end its longest-ever war.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US pointman on Afghanistan, said that both Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa have been “helpful” in the diplomacy.

Khalilzad says economic reasons would be transformative once peace is restored in Afghanistan

“We are seeking an agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan as an adjunct to an internal peace,” Mr Khalilzad told a forum at the University of Chicago’s Pearson Institute by video from Doha.

Both countries would “agree that their territory will not be allowed to be used against the other by extremist groups or groups that would undermine the security of the other,” he said.

Mr Khalilzad said he saw economic incentives for Pakistan if Kabul and Taliban reached a deal. “There are economic reasons that would be transformative for the region should peace in Afghanistan come,” he said.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1583882/us-hopeful-of-islamabad-kabul-side-agreement

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South Asia

 

Afghan president urges Taliban to 'have courage' and silence guns

06/10/2020

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called on the Taliban to "have courage and declare a national ceasefire" on Tuesday as he visited Doha where peace talks between government and Taliban negotiators have stalled.

At the end of a two-day trip, his first to Doha since the talks began, Ghani gave a lecture where he said Afghanistan's long conflict had to be resolved through negotiation, "not under the barrel of the gun".

"Nobody is going to wipe you out," he said in front of a socially distanced crowd of diplomats and academics, three weeks after the launch of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Talks between the two sides, hosted by the Gulf state and aimed at ending Afghanistan's 19-year war, have slowed over disagreements on how to frame a code of conduct that will guide the broader talks.

Headline issues, including a ceasefire or the type of governance that will shape Afghanistan's future, have yet to be discussed.

Meanwhile violence continues to rage in Afghanistan, with a suicide attack targeting a provincial governor killing at least eight people on Monday.

Earlier Ghani met with Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, with Doha reaffirming its commitment to facilitate the peace process.

The talks, which began with much fanfare, have made little progress but Ghani sidestepped questions over whether they have stalled.

"We cannot end 20 years of war in 20 days," he told reporters as he left the lecture.

Earlier, Afghanistan's Foreign Minister Muhammad Hanif Atmar reiterated that no agreement had been reached by the two sides on the code of conduct that will govern the talks.

The Taliban and the Afghan government are struggling to agree on common language on two issues before they can establish an agenda.

The Taliban, who are Sunni hardliners, are insisting on adherence to the Hanafi school of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence, but government negotiators say this could be used to discriminate against Hazaras, who are predominantly Shiite, and other minorities.

Another contentious topic is how the US-Taliban deal will shape a future peace deal and how it will be referred to.

"The Afghan team have presented a number of counter proposals to find common ground," Atmar said, but "they have not reached an agreement on the two issues".

No official meetings have taken place between the two sides in almost a week. However, both have insisted they continue to informally discuss ways to move forward.

Also in Doha, Zalmay Khalilzad, the US negotiator on Afghanistan, tweeted after a meeting with Ghani that the "president should not let the opportunity for peace to slip away" and that the United states remains ready to assist.

https://www.france24.com/en/20201006-afghan-president-urges-taliban-to-have-courage-and-silence-guns?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1590904_

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NATO Urges Taliban to Curb Civilians Casualties Amid Peace Talks

By Mohammad Arif Sheva

08 Oct 2020

DOHA, Qatar – NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, Ambassador Stefano Pontecorvo, met the Taliban leadership in Doha, according to sources, discussing the need to curb civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

While the Taliban and Afghan representatives negotiate on peace and stability in Afghanistan, critique suggested war has intensified, mainly in the provinces, which took dozens of civilians’ lives and wounded further a number.

The meeting between Taliban deputy leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, and NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, took place Wednesday in Qatari capital Doha, said Mohammad Naeem Wardak, a spokesman for the Qatar-based Taliban office.

“The meeting covered the current situation of Afghanistan, a reduction in civilian casualties and the peace process,” he said in a thread on Twitter, as quoted by local media.

NATO’s visit came at a time Afghanistan continued to suffer from series of attacks, mostly claimed by the Taliban insurgents, throughout the country.

https://www.khaama.com/nato-urges-taliban-to-curb-civilians-casualties-amid-peace-talks-765454/

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Trump: All Troops in Afghanistan should be ‘Home by Christmas’

By Mohammad Haroon Alim

08 Oct 2020

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 02: U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.  DREW ANGERER/GETTY IMAGES

Trump’s National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said Washington would reduce its forces in Afghanistan to 2500 by early next year.

President Trump said in a tweet, “We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!”.

A deal agreed upon between the United States and the Taliban in February of this year marks the departure of full foreign forces from Afghanistan by May 2021.

Early reports indicate Trump and other U.S officials have said the strength of their forces will be reduced in Afghanistan between 5000 and 4000 troops by November of this year.

It is reportedly unclear whether trump was giving orders or verbalizing a long-cherished dream.

(Reuters) Trump’s NSA advisor O’Brien in an event at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said “Ultimately, the Afghans themselves are going to have to work out an accord, a peace agreement. … It’s going to be slow progress, it’s going to be hard progress, but we think it’s a necessary step. we think Americans need to come home.”

The advisor also hinted, that the United States is currently having fewer than 5000 troops in Afghanistan and this amount would be reduced by 2500 in the coming months.

Previously, Special Envoy to Afghanistan Peace, Zalmay Khalilzad, said as the troops level reaches to 4500, the United States administration will take decisions when ties and actions are evaluated.

Since the U.S war on terrorism in Afghanistan, around 2400 American troops have lost their lives and thousands of others have been wounded.

https://www.khaama.com/trump-all-troops-in-afghanistan-should-be-home-by-christmas/

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Peace Talks to Conclude in Months, Says Khalilzad

By Mohammad Arif Sheva

08 Oct 2020

KABUL, Afghanistan – United States Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said Wednesday he expects the Afghan peace talks to be concluded in months, according to sources, not years.

While the Afghan and Taliban negotiators continue to struggle on finalizing ground rules for peace talks, Khalilzad said the process will bear result in a few months.

In an interview with TOLOnews’ Lotfullah Najafizada, the US envoy exclaimed the current scale of violence in Afghanistan is not acceptable, wondering the Taliban stopped attacks on foreigners but continues against Afghans soldiers and civilians throughout the country.

“The Taliban attacks are not taking place against the foreign forces…we are happy with that, but, on the other side, the war continues against Afghans,” he said as TOLOnews quoted.

Last month, an opening meeting of the intra-Afghan talks were held in Qatari capital Doha, leading the negotiators to at least a dozen sub-meetings to form an agenda and the mechanism of the negotiations.

But the groups failed to finalize ground rules, leaving the country with speculation on peace and stability.

https://www.khaama.com/peace-talks-to-conclude-in-months-says-khalilzad-76543/

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Arab world

 

‘My friend far away’: UAE, Israel singers unite for song in first music collaboration

Emily Judd

07 October 2020

Famous singers from Israel and the UAE have united in a new song and music video, on track to surpass over one million views in the first week of release.

The duet is the first ever musical collaboration between musicians from the two countries following a landmark UAE-Israel peace deal announced August 13.

The song - titled “Welcome” – has lyrics in Arabic, Hebrew, and English and talks about peace between two friends in Israel and the UAE.

The music video, shot both in the UAE’s Dubai and Israel’s Tel Aviv, has amassed over 800,000 views on YouTube since it was made public four days ago.

Emirati singer Waleed Aljasim told Al Arabiya English he was happy to work with Israeli singer Elkana Marziano, who came to fame after winning season three of singing competition “The Voice” in Israel.

The project was first suggested in an email from an Israeli music professional to Cabana Art Production company in the UAE, with which Aljasim is affiliated.

“I thought it was a good idea, especially following the peace deal. I was happy to do it,” Aljasim said in an interview with Al Arabiya English.

The two musicians, who did not know each other before the collaboration, taped their recordings and music video scenes separately in Dubai and Tel Aviv.

The Dubai-based musician said that despite coronavirus restrictions, the collaboration process between the musicians of different nations was easy due to internet and technology.

Message of peace

Since its release, Aljasim has received an influx of encouraging messages on social media.

“The people are so happy about this song and they are looking forward to another one like this,” Aljasim said, adding that there are no definite plans at the moment to record another song with Marziano, but that he would be more than happy to do so.

People all over the world have praised the music video on YouTube.

“Love United Emirates. Love Peace,” wrote user Eden Zeqvi from Israel.

“Magnificent! For a world of peace and without war,” wrote user Elena Enpasaai from Italy.

“This is very pleasant, Arabs and Hebrews singing and enjoying peace, peace and cooperation is the only way forward,” wrote user Shaher Basem from Egypt.

Al Jasim told Al Arabiya English that as an Emirati citizen he believes he is an “ambassador” for his country – which is a nation “dedicated to peace.”

“I am trying to give a message to the world that the United Arab Emirates is a country of peace. I hope I delivered that message with this song,” he said.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2020/10/07/-My-friend-far-away-UAE-Israel-singers-unite-for-song-in-first-music-collaboration

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Explosion rocks Syria’s southwestern city of Deraa: State TV

07 October 2020

A huge explosion was heard in Syria’s city of Deraa, Syrian state TV said early on Thursday citing its reporter.

There were injuries due to an explosion in a neighborhood in the southwestern city, state TV added.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/10/08/Explosion-rocks-Syria-s-southwestern-city-of-Deraa-State-TV

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After blast in northwest Syria, US State Department says rise in attacks troubling

07 October 2020

The United States on Wednesday said it was troubled by a recent rise in attacks in Syria, a day after a blast in the northwest town of al-Bab killed at least 11 people.

“The United States strongly condemns the terrorist attack near a crowded traffic circle in al-Bab yesterday,” US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

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

She added that other reports indicated more than 20 people were killed. “We are deeply troubled by the rise in such terrorist attacks in recent months.”

On Tuesday, hospital sources told Reuters that at least 11 people were killed and dozens more were wounded in an explosion in the northwest Syrian town of al-Bab, which is under the control of Turkey-backed opposition factions.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/10/07/After-blast-in-northwest-Syria-US-State-Department-says-rise-in-attacks-troubling

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Kuwait’s parliament endorses Sheikh Meshal al-Sabah as crown prince

Tamara Abueish

08 October 2020

Kuwait’s parliament has unanimously endorsed Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Sabah as the new crown prince of the US-allied OPEC state, Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported on Thursday.

Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah had on Wednesday named Sheikh Meshal the new crown prince of Kuwait.

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

The country will continue to be committed to democracy, the new crown prince said after he was sworn in in front of parliament.

Sheikh Meshal affirmed that he stands by the international and regional committments of Kuwait, KUNA reported.

Sheikh Nawaf assumed power as the new Emir of Kuwait following the death of 91-year-old Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah last week.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2020/10/08/Kuwait-s-parliament-endorses-Sheikh-Meshal-al-Sabah-as-crown-prince

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Arab Coalition intercepts Houthi drone in Yemeni airspace

October 07, 2020

RIYADH: The Arab Coalition fighting in Yemen has intercepted and destroyed an explosives-laden drone in Yemeni airspace launched by the Houthi militia.

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said the launching of the drone shows how the Houthis continue their systematic and intentional way to attack civilian targets in Saudi Arabia.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1745706/saudi-arabia

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Truck bomb in Syria’s Al-Bab kills at least 18'

6 Oct 2020

At least 18 people have been killed in a truck bomb explosion in the Turkish-controlled town of Al-Bab in northwest Syria, a war monitor, activists and medics said.

The explosion on Tuesday near a bus station also wounded at least 75 people, some of them seriously, the United Kingdom-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Ibrahim al-Haj, a spokesman for the Syrian Civil Defence, a search-and-rescue group that operates in rebel-held parts of Syria also known as the White Helmets, said 82 people were wounded as a result of the blast.

Videos and images circulated by activists on social media showed large plumes of smoke rising from the blast site, along with several fires and damaged buildings.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the car bombing, but there has been a string of attacks in Al-Bab since its capture by Turkish troops from the Islamic State group in 2017.

“We condemn in the strongest terms these ongoing indiscriminate attacks on civilians,” senior UN humanitarian official Mark Cutts wrote on Twitter after the latest bombing.

The town, 40 kilometres (25 miles) northeast of Syria’s second city Aleppo, was one of the western-most strongholds of the armed group’s self-styled territorial “caliphate”.

US-backed Kurdish forces seized the last scrap of the statelet from the group in eastern Syria in March last year.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/10/6/at-least-11-dead-in-blast-in-northwest-syrian-town-of-al-bab?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1590904_

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Mideast

 

Iran Files Official Protest at Azerbaijan, Armenia for Border Misfire

Oct 07, 2020

“In addition to following up the issue by our border guards at a meeting with the border guards of the Republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia and presenting a letter of official protest against the attacks on our bordering areas by the two countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in an official note, conveyed the strong protest of the Islamic Republic of Iran at the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Armenia for misfiring bullets and rockets at the country, which violated Iran’s territorial integrity, disturbed security and inflicted financial damage on the citizens of our country,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Wednesday.

He said that the Islamic Republic of Iran will never compromise the security of its citizens at all, and added, "In light of friendly relations and the principles of good neighborliness, we have demanded both sides to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic of Iran and adopt necessary security measures to prevent repetition of such unacceptable incidents.”

Meantime, Deputy Commander of Iran’s Law Enforcement Police Brigadier General Qassem Rezayee also informed that the two warring states of Azerbaijan and Armenia have apologized for the unintentional firing at Iranian bordering areas and promised to avoid any misfire in future.

“Azerbaijan and Armenia have been in conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh region for over 28 years and a number of the two countries’ citizens have been killed and this issue has made us sad,” General Rezayee told FNA on Tuesday night.

He added that during the two countries’ exchange of fire, the Iranian bordering areas have come under misfire, noting that the border guards of Iran have warned them against repetition of such an incident.

General Rezayee said that Azerbaijan and Armenia have apologized for the unintentional fire at Iranian territories, and added, “They have promised not to repeat such incidents.”

Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Rabiyee said on Tuesday that his country emphasizes evacuation of Azerbaijan's territories occupied by Armenia, and further warned both warring states to avoid misfire at Iranian borders in their ongoing clashes.

“We emphasize protection of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity as well as evacuation of Azerbaijan's occupied lands. We believe interference of third parties is harmful. We do not consider the military option as a solution in the region and we are concerned about harms to our citizens at the bordering areas and we will deal with any such case. We want peace in the region,” Rabiyee told reporters.

He also warned that Iran does not tolerate clashes and aggression against its lands even undeliberate actions, and added, “Iran is one of the few actors which enjoys good ties with Azerbaijan and Armenia and wants the war to end as soon as possible.”

In relevant remarks on Monday, Khatibzadeh had also warned Azerbaijan and Armenia against violating Iranian borders, describing it as Tehran’s redline.

“Both warring sides should take heed that the Islamic Republic cannot tolerate clashes on its borders and aggression on its soil,” Khatibzadeh said, noting that Baku and Yerevan should observe Iran’s redline.  

“Since the start of the conflict, Iran has told both parties that there will be no military solution for the decades-long dispute,” Khatibzadeh said on Monday, and added, “We emphasize that military conflict should stop quickly to start comprehensive political dialogue.”

He further said Iran has prepared a plan after consultations with both warring sides to end the Armenia-Azerbaijan war.

Khatibzadeh had issued a similar warning to Azerbaijan and Armenia on Saturday to avoid misfire during military clashes between the two neighbors.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is seriously and with high sensitivity monitoring the moves at the bordering areas of Iran and declares that any aggression against our country’s territories by any party engaged in the (conflicts in the) region will not be tolerated and we seriously warn all sides to show necessary caring in this regard,” he said.

He reiterated the need for respecting Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, watching for civilians’ lives, stopping clashes and starting serious and timed talks, adding that Iran is ready to help achievement of the aforesaid goals.

Also, a senior official in Iran's East Azarbaijan province that borders with Armenia and Azerbaijan Republic said his country has given warnings to the two conflicting states about the consequences of mortar shells hitting Iranian villages.

Deputy Governor-General of East Azarbaijan province, Aliyar Rastgoo, said that the governor-general himself has also sent a letter to Iran’s Foreign Ministry to pursue the issue through diplomatic ways.

He added that Iran is closely minoring the situation on the borders.

Battles between Armenian and Azerbaijan forces over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh still continue.

Iran has time and again invited the neighboring countries of Azerbaijan Republic and Armenia to avoid tensions and adhere to self-restraint to resolve Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, stressing the need for regional peace.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called on his Azeri and Armenian counterparts to refrain from military ways as tensions have risen between the two countries over Nagorno-Karabakh region.

During phone conversations with Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Azeri Foreign Minister Jeyhoun Bayramov, Zarif voiced concern over the situation and called on both sides to declare ceasefire and end hostilities.

He called for negotiations according to the international law and expressed Iran's readiness to use all its capacities to help settle disputes.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990716000886

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President Rouhani Warns against Transfer of Terrorists from Syria to Karabakh

Oct 07, 2020

“Iran does not allow some parties to transfer the terrorists that we have fought for long years in Syria and annihilated them to our bordering areas. This is unacceptable and we have clearly said it to the officials of the neighboring states,” Rouhani said, addressing a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday.

He underlined that protection of security at Iran's bordering areas is a priority, adding that aggression against these regions is not acceptable and Iran has asked Azerbaijan and Armenia to take heed and give special care to this point.

President Rouhani also warned against turning the Azerbaijan-Armenia war into a regional war, saying that the countries which add fuel to this fire should know that continued war will benefit no one and the war should end via political means.

“Occupation and war are not acceptable to us and we hope that stability will revive in this region through efforts,” he added.

In relevant remarks on Tuesday, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami said that the lives of citizens living on the borders are very important, assuring the conflicting sides in Karabakh of Tehran’s response if they continue violating Iranian border.

“The security of the borders of Iran is a major, vital and very important issue for our Armed Forces,” Hatami said adding that Iran will surely react to more violation of its territorial integrity by the conflicting parties in the Caucasus.

“The necessary warnings have been given to both countries,” he added.

“Iran closely monitors the conflicts in the region,” Hatami said, adding that the lives of the citizens living on the borders are very important for us.

The minister stressed that it is in no way acceptable for a bullet to hit Iran due to the carelessness of the countries involved in the conflict.

Battles between Armenian and Azerbaijan forces over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh still continue.

Russia expressed on Tuesday its fear that hosts of terrorists across the world will flock to the Nagorno Karabakh region near the Southern flank of its territories.

The head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergei Naryshkin, said that the situation in the region threatens to turn it into a launching pad for terrorists inside our territory.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990716000505

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Azerbaijan, Armenia Apologize for Misfire at Iran, Promise Not to Repeat

Oct 07, 2020

“Azerbaijan and Armenia have been in conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh region for over 28 years and a number of the two countries’ citizens have been killed and this issue has made us sad,” General Rezayee told FNA on Tuesday night.

He added that during the two countries’ exchange of fire, the Iranian bordering areas have come under misfire, noting that the border guards of Iran have warned them against repetition of such an incident.

General Rezayee said that Azerbaijan and Armenia have apologized for the unintentional fire at Iranian territories, and added, “They have promised not to repeat such incidents.”

Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Rabiyee said on Tuesday that his country emphasizes evacuation of Azerbaijan's territories occupied by Armenia, and further warned both warring states to avoid misfire at Iranian borders in their ongoing clashes.

“We emphasize protection of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity as well as evacuation of Azerbaijan's occupied lands. We believe interference of third parties is harmful. We do not consider the military option as a solution in the region and we are concerned about harms to our citizens at the bordering areas and we will deal with any such case. We want peace in the region,” Rabiyee told reporters.

He also warned that Iran does not tolerate clashes and aggression against its lands even undeliberate actions, and added, “Iran is one of the few actors which enjoys good ties with Azerbaijan and Armenia and wants the war to end as soon as possible.”

In relevant remarks on Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh had also warned Azerbaijan and Armenia against violating Iranian borders, describing it as Tehran’s redline.

“Both warring sides should take heed that the Islamic Republic cannot tolerate clashes on its borders and aggression on its soil,” Khatibzadeh said, noting that Baku and Yerevan should observe Iran’s redline.  

“Since the start of the conflict, Iran has told both parties that there will be no military solution for the decades-long dispute,” Khatibzadeh said on Monday, and added, “We emphasize that military conflict should stop quickly to start comprehensive political dialogue.”

He further said Iran has prepared a plan after consultations with both warring sides to end the Armenia-Azerbaijan war.

Khatibzadeh had issued a similar warning to Azerbaijan and Armenia on Saturday to avoid misfire during military clashes between the two neighbors.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is seriously and with high sensitivity monitoring the moves at the bordering areas of Iran and declares that any aggression against our country’s territories by any party engaged in the (conflicts in the) region will not be tolerated and we seriously warn all sides to show necessary caring in this regard,” he said.

He reiterated the need for respecting Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, watching for civilians’ lives, stopping clashes and starting serious and timed talks, adding that Iran is ready to help achievement of the aforesaid goals.

Also, a senior official in Iran's East Azarbaijan province that borders with Armenia and Azerbaijan Republic said his country has given warnings to the two conflicting states about the consequences of mortar shells hitting Iranian villages.

Deputy Governor-General of East Azarbaijan province, Aliyar Rastgoo, said that the governor-general himself has also sent a letter to Iran’s Foreign Ministry to pursue the issue through diplomatic ways.

He added that Iran is closely minoring the situation on the borders.

Battles between Armenian and Azerbaijan forces over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh still continue.

Iran has time and again invited the neighboring countries of Azerbaijan Republic and Armenia to avoid tensions and adhere to self-restraint to resolve Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, stressing the need for regional peace.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called on his Azeri and Armenian counterparts to refrain from military ways as tensions have risen between the two countries over Nagorno-Karabakh region.

During phone conversations with Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Azeri Foreign Minister Jeyhoun Bayramov, Zarif voiced concern over the situation and called on both sides to declare ceasefire and end hostilities.

He called for negotiations according to the international law and expressed Iran's readiness to use all its capacities to help settle disputes.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990716000227

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Palestinian village installs cameras, accusing Israeli settlers of frequent attacks

07 October 2020

Palestinians are installing a video surveillance system in a remote village in the occupied West Bank to keep an eye on nearby Israeli settlers who they accuse of frequent attacks.

The project’s founders hope the closed-circuit television cameras around Kisan, which lies in an area under complete Israeli military control, will help deter potential perpetrators wary of being caught on video.

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

“The goal is to limit settler attacks on our villages, our children, our little ones, that live close to settlements,” Ali Faraj, one of the project’s founders, said.

Cameras mounted in 10 locations will be linked to a mobile application that will warn residents of a breach and record alleged incidents that often go undocumented, Ahmed Essa, another of the project’s founders, said.

Faraj said Kisan and surrounding villages have seen more than 450 incidents involving settlers, including attacks on people and damage to homes.

The United Nations has documented some such incidents, as well as acts of Palestinian violence against Israelis in the West Bank, where nearly 430,000 settlers live among some 3 million Palestinians on land Israel captured in a 1967 war.

The camera project is being funded through an initiative called 3al Ard – on the ground, in Arabic – founded by Palestinian-American businessman Bashar Masri.

Masri initially funded half a dozen projects in remote areas “to encourage people to take matters into their own hands vis-a-vis stopping the mad expansion of the settlements”, he said.

While the Palestinian Authority (PA) has limited autonomy in some areas, many villages, like Kisan, lie in areas under complete Israeli military control, leaving them with little avenue for redress after alleged incidents involving settlers.

“The (PA) cannot enter here ... it is the duty of local residents to fill the gap,” Faraj said.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/10/07/Palestinian-village-installs-cameras-accusing-Israeli-settlers-of-frequent-attacks

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Yemen army captures key military base from Houthis

SAEED AL-BATATI

October 08, 2020

AL-MUKALLA: Yemeni troops and allied tribesmen have stormed and captured the strategic Al-Khanjer military base and surrounding areas in the northern province of Jouf.

The operation, supported by Saudi-led Arab coalition warplanes, is a heavy blow to Iran-backed Houthi militias and their control of much of northern Yemen, the army said.

The offensive followed several weeks of intensive fighting in the area. “This is a great victory. By seizing control of Al-Khanjer, the national army has secured a road between Marib and Joutema in Jouf,” said Rabia Al-Qurashi, the Yemeni army spokesman in the province.

Army commanders who led the operation said the coalition had carried out precise airstrikes that destroyed Houthi military positions and equipment, paving the way for government forces to storm the base and the other liberated areas in the province. Dozens of Houthis were killed or wounded in the fighting, they said.

Ssenior government officials called army commanders and tribal leaders on the ground in the province to congratulate them on the operation’s success. Vice

President Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmer ordered troops to keep up fighting until they expel Houthis from all areas under their control in the province,

The acting commander of the 3rd Military Region, Maj. Gen. Nasser Al-Thaybani, said forces from the 3rd and 6th Military Regions were continuing military operations against the Houthis in Jouf, and that the Houthis had suffered heavy defeats and lost dozens of their fighters.

Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr, Yemen’s former prime minister and a senior adviser to the president, said that the new military gains by government forces showed that they and their allied tribesmen had taken the initiative on the battlefield and switched from a defense stance to an offensive one.

“Marib’s resistance and the march in Jouf will determine the future of the fighting with the Houthis,” he said, predicting a “strategic shift” in the war.

In the western province of Hodeidah, fighting continued on Wednesday on the outskirts of Hodeidah city and two other districts. Artillery shells fired by the Houthis burned three stores attached to a dairy and food products factory in government-controlled areas of the city. “The fire is still ravaging the stores now,“ a local military officer told Arab News on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Houthi military commander Sheikh Addin Abu Al-Nour and five of his associates were killed in fighting with government forces in the northwest town of Hays.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1745816/middle-east

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India

 

NSA Ajit Doval meets Afghan peace negotiator Abdullah Abdullah in Delhi

Rezaul H Laskar

Oct 07, 2020

Afghan peace negotiator Abdullah Abdullah on Wednesday discussed his country’s peace process with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, who told him India is in favour of a democratic and sovereign Afghanistan “where no terrorists can operate”.

Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation in Afghanistan, met Doval on Wednesday evening to brief him on the talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban at Doha in Qatar.

Doval hosted a dinner for Abdullah’s delegation that was attended by foreign secretary Harsh Shringla, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, army chief Gen MM Naravane, senior officials of the external affairs ministry and key members of the High Council for National Reconciliation.

Abdullah tweeted that he had a “constructive discussion” with Doval on the Afghan peace process and the talks in Doha. “He [Doval] assured me of India’s full support for the peace efforts, and that any peace settlement acceptable to Afghans, will have the support of India,” Abdullah said.

“He [Doval] further stated that his country is in favour [of] an independent, democratic, sovereign & peaceful Afghanistan, where no terrorists can operate,” he added.

Abdullah also thanked India for its continued support for Afghanistan and its “constructive role in peace efforts”.

There was no official word on the meeting from the Indian side.

Abdullah arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday afternoon for a five-day visit, during which he will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday and external affairs minister S Jaishankar on Friday.

He will also deliver a speech at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) on Thursday.

Before his arrival in India, Abdullah issued a statement that described India as a “strategic partner of Afghanistan”. He said, “Our historical relation with India is very important to us, and the role of India in establishing a lasting peace in Afghanistan and the region is vital. I am visiting India on an official invitation by the government of India to discuss the peace efforts, and the need for regional consensus and support for the Afghan peace process.”

Abdullah’s visit is part of an outreach to key countries in the region for support for the negotiations in Doha. He travelled to India after a three-day visit to Pakistan last week.

In Islamabad, he had met Prime Minister Imran Khan, foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa. Abdullah told the Pakistani leadership that a message about reducing violence and showing greater flexibility in negotiations should be communicated to the Taliban leadership participating in the negotiations in Doha.

India, the region’s largest provider of development aid to Afghanistan, has expressed concern at a recent spike in violence by the Taliban and terror attacks on minorities such as Sikhs. It has said intra-Afghan negotiations must ensure the interests of minorities, women and vulnerable sections of society and reduce violence across Afghanistan and its neighbourhood.

Since 2001, India has undertaken projects worth $3 billion in Afghanistan, including $1 billion pledged in 2016 under the “new development partnership” scheme for five years.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/nsa-ajit-doval-meets-afghan-peace-negotiator-abdullah-abdullah-in-delhi/story-M6KRpC6YzM7ZX6HHveZDcL.html

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Maharashtra: Former minority commission chairman meets governor to seek opening of mosques

Oct 7, 2020

MUMBAI: BJP leader and former chairman of Maharashtra state minorities commission, Haji Arafat Shaikh, has petitioned Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to ask the state government to allow congregational prayers at the mosques.

Leading a delegation to the Raj Bhavan recently, Shaikh handed over a letter to the governor requesting him to intervene and ask the government to allow opening of all religious places for worshippers, including mosques.

"Restaurants, bars and wine shops are open. But mosques and other places of worship are not allowed to hold congregational prayers. They should be allowed to hold prayers with observance of social distancing," said Shaikh.

He added that, if congregational prayers are not allowed on all days in a week, at least Friday prayers should be allowed.

Currently just five people related to administration of mosques are permitted to offer namaz at mosques. "The Friday prayers are very important and people really miss them. Now we will have to live with the pandemic fear for quite sometime and we are getting used to live with it," he said.

All places of worship have been badly affected during the lockdown. Since namaz in congregation is not allowed, the donation to mosques and dargahs have dried up. All mosques collect good money in donations from worshippers on Friday. But since many worshippers are not allowed to visit mosques even on Fridays, the collection in donation money on Fridays has substantially reduced. "The places of worship are in dire straits. They don't have money to pay the staff. If people can maintain social distancing at wine shops and restaurants, they can do so at the mosques too," he said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/maharashtra-former-minority-commission-chairman-meets-governor-to-seek-opening-of-mosques/articleshow/78533843.cms

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Three terrorists killed in Shopian encounter

Oct 7, 2020

SRINAGAR: Three terrorists — two of Al-Badr and one Hizbul Mujahideen — were killed in an overnight encounter in south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Wednesday. Meanwhile, J&K DGP Dilbagh Singh said Shabir Ahmad, the terrorist shot dead in Tuesday’s attack on BJP Ganderbal district president Gulam Hassan Rather’s residence, was a close aide of slain Hizbul commander Reyaz Naikoo and sent specifically for the targeted killing.

On Tuesday evening, a joint team of Army’s 44 RR, CRPF and J&K Police launched a cordon-and-search operation in Sugan area acting on intelligence inputs about the presence of terrorists. The holed-up ultras were given a chance to surrender, but they opened fire at the search party instead, triggering an encounter. The operation was later suspended as darkness fell. Security personnel recovered the bodies of the slain trio — identified as Al-Badr’s Junaid Rasheed, Waseem Magree and Hizbul’s Sajad Malla, all locals — while combing the area on Wednesday morning, officials said.

Meanwhile, DGP Singh stated that Shabir, a resident of Awantipora in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, used to be an overground worker for Naikoo — who was killed in an anti-terror operation on May 6 in Awantipora — and was his right-hand man. Shabir was operating in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district and was shot dead by the politician’s personal security officer, constable Altaf Hussain, who lost his life in the firefight.

While addressing reporters on the sidelines of constable Hussain’s wreath-laying ceremony on Wednesday, DGP Singh said Rather was visiting his Nunar residence along with his two PSOs Hussain and Jahangir. They were leaving for another location when terrorists fired upon them. Hussain shot dead Shabir but later succumbed to injuries sustained during the gun battle. “We are proud of him,” he added.

Asked if there was any injured surviving terrorist in the Ganderbal attack, the DGP said there was indeed such an indication based on a blood trail. “District SP said there was one than one terrorist involved,” he added.

On journalists being threatened by terrorists, DGP Singh said The Resistance Front (TRF) is the mouthpiece of Pakistan and ISI. “Recently, 39 journalists were threatened by the TRF. These are the people who are doing their job honestly. Terrorists, on the directions of Pakistan, target people working for peace and development. Pakistan is the main collaborator of the killings. They damage our Kashmiri people… TRF is Pakistan and ISI’s mouthpiece. They do not want people to do their routine work. We have given a befitting reply and will continue doing so in the future,” the J&K police chief said.

On questions about the recent Jammu-Srinagar highway attack in which two CRPF personnel were killed and three others injured, DGP Singh said that deployments made on the highway are calibrated and such attacks cannot be ruled out as long as militancy continues in J&K, but there are clues on which police are working. “Whenever there is an attack on the highway, we kill them in a counter-attack. This is a continuous process. We will pay them back very soon,” he said, adding that drone monitoring existed in some places along the highway and the use of technology will be stepped up in the future.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/three-terrorists-killed-in-shopian-encounter/articleshow/78541589.cms

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Jammu and Kashmir L-G expresses anguish over militant attack on political leader in Ganderbal

Oct 7, 2020

JAMMU: Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Wednesday expressed anguish over an attack by militants on a political leader in Ganderbal area, an official spokesman said.

The militants attacked BJP leader Ghulam Qadir on Tuesday, leaving his personal security guard dead, while an ultra was also killed in the retaliatory action.

Strongly condemning the attack, the Lt governor said this is an act of cowardice and those involved in this act will be brought to justice.

Sinha paid tribute to Qadir's personal security guard Mohammad Altaf who died during the attack.

"I extend my solidarity with the family of the martyr PSO. All possible help will be extended to the family of the deceased," he added.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/jammu-and-kashmir-l-g-expresses-anguish-over-militant-attack-on-political-leader-in-ganderbal/articleshow/78538904.cms

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Africa

 

Gunmen kidnap 20 villagers in central Mali

07 October 2020

Gunmen seized about 20 people in volatile central Mali, with nine remaining in detention Wednesday after their captors released the other hostages, local and security officials said.

The kidnapping occurred on Tuesday during a weekly market in the village of Farabougou, near the central Malian town of Niono, according to Boukary Coulibaly, the village chief.

A youngster was killed during the kidnapping, he said, adding that the "armed men" afterwards released some hostages, mostly women and children.

"At the moment, they're holding nine people," Coulibaly said.

Mali has been struggling to quell an insurgency which emerged in 2012 and has since spread into neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Central Mali has become an epicenter of the conflict, prey to routine militant attacks, ethnic strife and tit-for-tat killings.

Thousands of soldiers and civilians have died in the conflict in Mali to date.

A local elected official and a security official in central Mali both confirmed the kidnapping to AFP.

An official at Mali's security ministry said the government was "doing everything to obtain the freedom of the nine civilians who are still detained".

3 Mali national guardsmen killed in overnight attack

Three national guardsmen were killed in an attack in central Mali on Tuesday night, a security official said, in the latest violence to hit the turbulent region.

Unidentified gunmen ambushed the guardsmen at around 11 pm in the village of Birga-Peul near the town of Koro, by the border with Burkina Faso, the security official said on Wednesday, killing three.

The militants also torched two vehicles and made off with another, added the official, who declined to be named.

The conflict in central Mali has claimed the lives of thousands of soldiers and civilians.

Mali hostage's son still awaiting news after militants’ release

The son of a French aid worker taken hostage in Mali said on Wednesday he was still awaiting news about his mother after speculation intensified following the release of detained militants.

Hopes that 75-year-old Sophie Petronin and abducted Malian opposition leader Soumaila Cisse may soon be released surged at the weekend when security sources said Mali's new government had freed scores of militants

But Petronin's son, Sebastien Chadaud, who flew to the Malian capital Bamako on Tuesday, said he had no information about this mother.

"Nothing yet," he said in a brief message to AFP, adding that he did not know whether any release was underway or not.

Petronin was abducted by gunmen on December 24, 2016, in the northern city of Gao, where she worked for a children's charity. She is the last French national held hostage in the world.

Cisse, a 70-year-old former opposition leader and three-time presidential candidate, was kidnapped on March 25 while campaigning in his home region of Niafounke ahead of legislative elections.

Anger at his abduction was a factor in a groundswell of protests against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was finally toppled by young army officers on August 18.

The junta has installed an interim president, Bah Ndaw, but made concessions to Mali's neighbours demanding safeguards for a return to civilian rule.

Ndaw's government is led by a civilian, with military men in key ministerial positions. Under a "charter" endorsed by the junta, the transition period will last for a maximum of 18 months.

Petronin and Cisse are believed to be held by an armed militant group linked to Al-Qaeda.

One of the world's poorest and most unstable countries Mali is in the grip of an eight-year-old insurgency that began in the north, spread to the ethnically volatile center.

Thousands of civilians and soldiers have been killed and hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes.

The French and Malian governments have refused to comment on any exchange.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/10/07/635864/Mali-Africa-Boukary-Coulibaly-France-Sophie-Petronin--

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Jordan to administer 230,000 shots of seasonal flu vaccine

October 08, 2020

DUBAI: Jordan’s health ministry will be conducting a massive vaccination program for seasonal flu, administering 230,000 shots to medical personnel and the elderly first.

The ministry had contracted to provide 600,000 shots of the vaccine, state news agency Petra reported, but only a third of it had been supplied to Jordan via government tenders.

The first 70,000 shots have already been distributed to health centers across the country, including to paramedics in the Civil Defense.

Health Minsiter Saed Jaber said in previous years, Jordan has always prioritized people working in the medical sector, adding they would do the same especially because of the coronavirus pandemic.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1745871/middle-east

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After Sudan’s peace deal, the hard task begins of gathering the guns

October 08, 2020

KHARTOUM: Sudan is celebrating a landmark agreement to end decades of war, but the first step to turn promises on paper into peace is also one of the most explosive — disarmament.

Collecting weapons in a country left awash with guns after years of conflict in which hundreds of thousands died is one of most delicate parts of the Oct. 3 peace agreement.

“Gathering the weapons is a very difficult business,” said Gibril Ibrahim, commander of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), one of rebel signatories to the historic deal.

“It involves a collective effort. People will not hand over their weapons until they judge that the government can ensure their safety.”

Ibrahim’s JEM fighters battled Khartoum’s government in the western region of Darfur, where fighting since 2003 left around 300,000 people dead.

“If we have a democratic government that listens to the voice of the people, people will conclude that they no longer need to carry arms to protect themselves,” Ibrahim said.

The historic deal signed by the government and an alliance of rebel groups, the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), was hailed by the international community as a milestone.

The rebels included groups from Darfur, as well as the southern states of Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan.

According to one rebel leader, it involves some 35,000 rebel fighters.

Peace was made possible after mass protests ousted President Omar Bashir from power in April 2019, and the transitional government has made ending the conflicts a priority.

Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur, has already been convicted of corruption, and is currently on trial in the capital Khartoum for the 1989 coup that brought him to power. The government has also agreed that Bashir will face trial for his role in Darfur.

But after so long at war, many are wary of giving up their guns.

“Trust is key to disarmament,” said Jonas Horner of Brussels-based think tank the International Crisis Group (ICG).

“The military — linked so closely with abuses during the Bashir government — simply has not had the time nor shown the will to address violence in the way that many rural Sudanese would need to see in order to put down their weapons.”

Warning of a “trust gap” between the ex-rebels and Khartoum, Horner said he feared some will keep a cache of weapons hidden as insurance.

Two holdout rebel groups — including some 15,000 fighters, according to one estimate — refused to take part in the Oct. 3 deal.

One, the Darfur-based Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) faction led by Abdelwahid Nour, is believed to maintain considerable support.

Another, a faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) based in South Kordofan and led by Abdelaziz Al-Hilu, has signed a separate cease-fire.

That deal allows the rebels to keep hold of their guns for “self-protection” until Sudan’s constitution is changed to separate religion and government.

Even before the deal was signed, Sudan’s army launched a mass disarmament campaign, blowing up thousands of firearms collected from civilians in a huge explosion in the desert. The Small Arms Survey, a Geneva based research organization, calculates there were 2.76 million illegally held weapons in Sudan in 2017, or 6.6 guns for every 100 people.

Rebels will be slowly incorporated into joint units with government security forces.

“For the stability of the country, the weapons must be handed over to the regular forces,” said Yassir Arman, deputy chairman of the SPLM-N rebels who signed the deal.

Turning rebels into regular troops brings together old foes in often uneasy joint units.

“We must build a professional army which does not intervene in political affairs,” Arman added.

Sudan has seen much-hailed peace deals crumble before, so this agreement lays out clear steps.

“The security aspect of the agreement is the most complex,” said Mohammed Hassan Al-Taichi, spokesman for the government negotiating team.

A “supreme council” will be created within 45 days to lead disarmament and the demobilization of rebels.

“The collection of weapons will only take place when the rebels start to join the training camps,” Taichi added.

In Darfur, the process should be complete within 15 months, but in other areas, a deadline is 39 months.

While building peace requires people to give up their guns, few will surrender their firearms until they are confident war has gone for good.

It is a tough conundrum.

“Until some semblance of sustainable peace is in place with a trusted central authority, there will be little incentive to comply with government-run disarmament programs,” Horner said.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1745821/middle-east

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Mali frees more jihadists, boosting hostage release scenario

06/10/2020

A second batch of jihadists has been freed in Mali, sources said Tuesday, boosting speculation that a French charity worker and Malian politician held by the insurgents may be freed in a swap.

About 30 "jihadist prisoners were released" late Monday and early Tuesday "and were flown north," a Mali security source said.

"It's to do with the release of the hostage Soumaila Cisse and the Frenchwoman, Sophie Petronin," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

More than 100 suspected or convicted rebels were released at the weekend, an official in charge of the negotiations said on Monday.

They were released in the central region of Niono and the northern region of Tessalit after arriving by plane.

Cisse, a 70-year-old former opposition leader and three-time presidential candidate, was abducted on March 25 while campaigning in his home region of Niafounke ahead of legislative elections.

Petronin, a French charity worker who is now 75, was abducted by gunmen on December 24, 2016, in the northern city of Gao. She is the last French national held hostage in the world.

Her son, Sebastien Chadaud, who lives in Switzerland, flew to Paris on Tuesday "and should be in (the Malian capital) Bamako in the early afternoon," Petronin's nephew, Lionel Granouillac, told AFP.

"He went there on his own initiative. He left this morning," Granouillac said, speaking in southwestern France, adding, "You have to be very cautious" about the outcome.

The last video in which Petronin appeared was received in June 2018. She seemed tired and emaciated, and appealed to French President Emmanuel Macron for help.

In another video in November 2018, in which she did not appear, her kidnappers said her health had deteriorated.

Malian authorities suspect an Al-Qaeda-linked group in central Mali led by militant cleric Amadou Koufa is responsible.

"We are doing everything to get some good news. They (the negotiators) have been out in the bush (the desert) since yesterday. We are waiting," an official in Tessalit who is close to the mediators told AFP.

An official in the northern town of Timbuktu said "the problem is that the two hostages are not in the same place. They have to be brought together in order to have them released."

Mali is in the grip of a double crisis.

An eight-year-old jihadist insurgency that began in the north of the country has since spread to the country's fragile centre and now rattles neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

The country is also in the aftermath of a military coup that toppled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on August 18.

Keita has been replaced by an interim president, Bah Ndaw, a former foreign minister and retired colonel selected by the junta.

He appointed a 25-member government on Monday, of which four key posts have gone to colonels.

Mali's former colonial ruler France has 5,100 soldiers deployed across the Sahel region as part of its anti-jihadist Operation Barkhane.

https://www.france24.com/en/20201006-mali-frees-more-jihadists-boosting-hostage-release-scenario?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1590904_

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Nigerian displaced face jihadist attacks after returning home

October 7, 2020

Authorities in volatile northeastern Nigeria have been encouraging thousands of people displaced by jihadist violence to return home, even as bloody attacks persist.

On September 27, hundreds of people came back to Baga, a fishing town on the shores of Lake Chad in Borno state, six years after it was seized by Boko Haram.

Their return came shortly after the convoy of Governor Babagana Umara Zulum was ambushed by the IS-linked Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) while he was making an assessment of the area. Thirty security personnel and civilians were killed.

Jihadists have seized swathes of territory in Borno, Boko Haram's birthplace, forcing some two million to flee their homes.

Most of the displaced have moved into squalid camps in the regional capital, Maiduguri, relying on food handouts from international charities.

Like many officials before him, Zulum has insisted that the displaced "must return" to rebuild their homes and live a "dignified" life.

Since 2018, people have returned to five major towns where they typically live behind a defensive line of trenches to fend off jihadists.

But attacks have persisted. In August, hundreds of returnees were abducted in Kukawa in the Lake Chad region -- they were taken from homes to which they had just been relocated by the authorities, two years after fleeing the violence.

In Baga, some of those returning say their new existence is just as bad as in the camps.

"We returned with the anticipation of leading a normal life but we realised we were returned to a bigger camp where we still rely on the same food handouts," Gana Ibrahim told AFP.

"We can't go to our farms or into the bush to fetch firewood -- and those who do so get killed or kidnapped by the insurgents."

- 'Throwing sheep to tiger' -

After splitting from Boko Haram in 2016, ISWAP established a presence on the islands of the marshy Lake Chad region.

The group has recently stepped up killings and abductions, ambushing military convoys and setting up highway checkpoints.

"Borno governor is bold, blunt and passionate about his people; but returning IDPs is throwing the sheep to the tiger", Shehu Sani, a former senator, tweeted.

Sani had previously been involved in botched peace talks to end the Islamist uprising, which has claimed some 36,000 lives over the last decade.

In recent weeks, the Nigerian military have carried out air raids on the group's hideouts, leaving scores of insurgents dead, security sources told AFP. The military, for their part, say they killed 450 fighters between June to September in ground operations and air strikes.

Against this background, the resettlement "couldn't have come at a worse time", a security source told AFP.

"The insurgents are angry over their losses to the military in recent raids and will hit back hard," said another source.

Last month, ISWAP chased out dozens of fishermen from Garin Mata village outside Baga, warning them never to come back.

"They vowed to kill anyone who returns," fisherman Labo Mamman told AFP.

"There are around 600 well-armed fighters who are now occupying the village," said Mamman, who was among those chased out.

- Supremacy war -

Despite official denials, most of the Lake Chad area is under ISWAP control.

Zulum has been attacked three times, escaping unhurt and vowing to end the jihadist violence and return all IDPs to their homes in northern Borno.

The insurgents meanwhile are determined to thwart such a move.

"The IDPs are caught in between these egos and they are likely to be the frontline victims," said a security source.

Last week, Zulum called on the Nigerian government to invite Chadian troops to assist in fighting the jihadists "if any meaningful success is to be recorded on the battleground."

Chad is part of a regional military coalition comprising Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger, fighting the jihadists.

In January, around 2,000 Chadian soldiers left the Lake Chad area at the end of a nine-month joint military operation with Nigerian troops. There has been a marked increase in jihadist attacks since then.

For Bello Salihu who was displaced from Baga and lives in a camp in Maiduguri, the return of the Chadian troops brings some hope.

"I’m monitoring the situation in Baga from here but I'll return as soon as the Chadian troops arrive because I know how they secured the area last year," Salihu said.

https://news.yahoo.com/nigerian-displaced-face-jihadist-attacks-015412373.html?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1590904_

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Security Forces Bust Terrorist Cell Planning Attacks in Morocco

6 October, 2020

Security agencies in Morocco busted on Monday an ISIS-affiliated terrorist cell in the northern city of Tangier.

After receiving information about terrorist activity, security forces raided four positions in the city, arresting the primary suspect and three members of the cell.

They confiscated a number of weapons and electronic equipment.

Investigations with the suspects revealed that they sought to join ISIS training camps in the Sahel region, but failed, prompting them to turn to plotting dangerous terrorist attacks in Morocco.

Investigators also discovered a recording of one of the members pledging his allegiance to the current alleged leader of ISIS.

The Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation said the arrest underscores that terrorism is still a threat in the kingdom, warning that extremists were still plotting operations in the country.

Investigations will continue with the detainees.

https://english.aawsat.com/home/article/2548611/security-forces-bust-terrorist-cell-planning-attacks-morocco?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1590904_

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Europe

 

Azerbaijan’s FM to meet international mediators about Nagorno-Karabakh

07 October 2020

Azerbaijan’s foreign minister will meet international mediators in the country’s conflict with Armenia, Baku said Wednesday, as deadly fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region entered a second week.

The foreign ministry said a Thursday “working visit to Geneva” will see Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov meet leaders of the OSCE’s Minsk group, which is jointly chaired by diplomats from France, Russia, and the US.

Clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces have displaced half of the population of the Nagorno-Karabakh region as Russian President Vladimir Putin urged on Wednesday an end to a “tragedy” that shows no sign of abating.

Putin on Wednesday called for the fighting to stop, saying the deadliest fighting in more than 25 years between ethnic Armenian and Azeri forces was a tragedy.

Speaking in an interview with state television, Putin said he was in constant contact with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan about the conflict.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/10/07/Azerbaijan-s-FM-to-meet-international-mediators-about-Nagorno-Karabakh

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Fears terrorists will exploit Europe’s migrant routes in new ISIS recruitment drive

Nicky Harley

Oct 6, 2020

Migrant routes across Europe used by ISIS terrorists who launched attacks on Paris could again be used by extremists, experts warn.

The migrant crisis was exploited by ISIS terrorists five years ago, as they sought to pass from Syria through Europe under the radar and pick up asylum seekers to fight for the Caliphate cause.

It is now feared these well-trodden paths will again be used in recruitment drives for the terrorist group.

The news follows an announcement this week by Kurdish-led authorities that up to 15,000 Syrians could be moved out of the overcrowded Al Hol camp in the north-east of the country, which holds displaced people and families of ISIS fighters.

The popular migrant routes came under the spotlight after the Paris terror atrocities in 2015, which killed 130 people and left more than 350 injured.

One of the attackers, Salah Abdeslam, is believed to have made four trips to Hungary during which he picked up other terrorists linked to attacks in Brussels and Paris.

Though some of these extremists’ names were on European counter-terrorism databases, many of them posed as refugees and carried fake Syrian passports to evade detection.

Terrorism expert Pieter van Ostaeyen believes extremists could continue to use these routes, especially with the imminent release of ISIS militants.

“It is a possibility they will use migrant routes,” Mr van Ostaeyen told The National.

“If you look at the Paris attacks, we know that most of the terrorists went to Syria over land in cars and recruited local groups.

“Most of the Belgian fighters from Sharia4Islam used fake passports.

"Abdeslam used the migrant crisis in Europe in 2015 and managed to recruit many migrants, picking them up in Hungary and Croatia.

“One Belgian fighter was able to go to Syria four times, there and back, and it was only on the fifth time he was caught.

"They managed to stay under the radar and take advantage of the migrant crisis in Europe.

“Times have changed with the coronavirus pandemic. The freedom of movement will not be the same as a few years ago but the routes are still there.

“It is a possibility that some guys who disappeared from the grid after ISIS’s last stronghold was taken might return. We know there are 150 Belgian foreign fighters unaccounted for.”

Mr van Ostaeyen believes the terrorists will try to contact local crime networks for safe houses, cars, fake documents and weapons.

Hans-Jakob Schindler, director of the Counter Extremism Project think tank, said there could also be a major security risk with the movement of Syrians from Al Hol.

Mr Schindler said any radicals who are tempted to flee the camp could join the majority of Syrian migrants and head to Europe.

“There are a significant amount of Syrians in Al Hol who did not de-radicalise," he said.

"If anything they re-radicalised and will come out with a new furore in their ideological thinking."

Mr Schindler said these people were “extremely dangerous” and "pose a major threat to Europe".

Seven of the Paris attackers slipped through Hungary's borders while posing as migrants in 2015.

Hungary's counter-terrorism agency has revealed that the terrorists set up a logistics centre in the country to use paths through the Balkans, moving fighters trained in Syria into Europe.

In 2017, Belgium convicted 14 people of falsifying identity documents, some of which were sold to ISIS militants involved in the Paris and Brussels terror attacks.

The documents were used by Abdeslam and Najim Laachraoui, who blew himself up at Brussels Airport in March 2016.

Since then, more suspected ISIS terrorists are known to have arrived on migrant boats in Austria and Greece.

Under the Schengen Agreement of 1995, travel across borders without passport checks is allowed between 26 countries on the European mainland, leaving migrants free to travel across the continent without restriction.

Despite stricter border controls being introduced this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, there have been incidents of terrorists using the mandatory face masks to try to disguise their identity and pass through the continent.

In April, one of Europe’s most wanted ISIS terrorists, British rapper Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, was found in Spain after he had arrived using the face-mask ploy.

https://www.thenational.ae/world/fears-terrorists-will-exploit-europe-s-migrant-routes-in-new-isis-recruitment-drive-1.1089480?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1590904_

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Far-Right Extremism Taints German Security Services in Hundreds of Cases

By Christopher F. Schuetze and Katrin Bennhold

Oct. 6, 2020

BERLIN — Germany’s security services recorded more than 1,400 cases of suspected far-right extremism among soldiers, police officers and intelligence agents in the three years ending in March, according to a government report released Tuesday.

The report, compiled by the domestic intelligence service, is a first attempt to document the extent of far-right infiltration of the security services. It comes as the number of cases of extremists found in police forces and the military has multiplied.

Dozens of police officers have been suspended for joining far-right chat groups and sharing neo-Nazi propaganda. In June, the defense minister disbanded a whole company of Germany’s special forces after explosives, a machine gun and SS memorabilia were found on the property of a sergeant major.

Horst Seehofer, the German interior minister who presented the new report flanked by intelligence and police chiefs, said Tuesday that there should be “no tolerance” for extremists and that every case was “shameful.”

But Mr. Seehofer insisted that there was no “structural problem,” and said the vast majority of people in the security services were loyal to the German Constitution.

“We are dealing with a small number of cases,” he said. “The overwhelming majority of the employees at our security agencies — over 99 percent — are firmly rooted in our Constitution.”

The 98-page report, which covers a period beginning in January 2017, took a less sanguine tone. It said the real number of extremists was almost certainly higher than that reported and warned that even a relatively small number of highly trained officers who are radicalized constituted “a significant danger for the state and for society.”

Identifying extremists remains a “high priority” for the security service, the report said.

For years, German politicians and security chiefs rejected any suggestion that the security services had been infiltrated by the far right, acknowledging only “individual cases.” The idea of networks was routinely dismissed, and the superiors of those identified as extremists were protected.

That has been changing.

Last month, the head of the military counterintelligence agency, Christof Gramm, was dismissed because the agency on his watch had repeatedly failed in its mission to monitor and detect extremism in the armed forces.

“We are getting away from ‘individual cases’ and are able to get an overview,” Thomas Haldenwang, the head of the domestic intelligence, said Tuesday. He said his agency would keep investigating “if we are facing networks of far-right extremists who are expanding their connections.”

Mr. Haldenwang, whose agency was founded after World War II and is known as the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, has warned that far-right extremism and terrorism constitute the biggest risk for Germany’s democracy today.

Over the past 15 months, Germany has witnessed three deadly terrorist attacks by far-right extremists. A regional politician was shot on his front porch, a synagogue was attacked and nine people of immigrant descent were shot.

Tuesday’s report compiled cases of extremism recorded by the state and federal police authorities, the intelligence services and, separately, by the armed forces.

Most cases by far — 1,069 — were reported by the military. In civilian law enforcement agencies, the report listed 377 cases.

The western state of Hesse, which was in the news after private data used in neo-Nazi death threats was traced back to a police computer, reported the biggest number of suspected extremists.

The report noted that the number of cases didn’t directly correspond to individuals, as a single individual can be involved in several cases and cases can involve several individuals. Some cases reported on Tuesday had already been dismissed after investigation or resolved, the report said.

The number of cases has continued to rise since data for the report was collected.

Last month, the western state of North-Rhine Westphalia suspended 29 police officers suspected of sharing images of Hitler and violent neo-Nazi propaganda in online chat groups. Last week, another group, this time intelligence agents responsible for monitoring far-right extremists, was found to have shared xenophobic and anti-Islamic videos.

In Berlin, the police commissioner announced that 25 officers had participated in chats in which they likened Muslims to primates.

Mr. Seehofer, the interior minister, has resisted repeated calls to order a nationwide study on the prevalence of racism in the country’s police forces.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/06/world/europe/germany-police-far-right-report.html?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1590904_

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North America

 

Twitter ban part of US attempt to portray Iran as 'moral danger' to Americans

07 October 2020

US spy agencies want to convince Americans that Iran is a "moral danger," regardless of who wins the US presidential election, says political commentator.

Charles Dunaway was referring to the Twitter ban of a number of Iranian accounts after the FBI said they “appeared” to originate in Iran and were disrupting the US debate  ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

"It seems that Iran has joined a very exclusive club - the club of nations accused of attempting to interfere in US elections by posting on social media. The accusations against Iran are ever more ridiculous than those against Russia and China," he said in an interview with Press TV on Wednesday.

Dunaway further denounced the mainstream media's take on the issue, noting that, "it fits so neatly into the propaganda war against Iran that is in its 41st year.

He also highlighted how the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC is taking advantage of the Twitter ban to suggest that Iran is "interfering" in US elections, while in reality, the lobbying group is the one openly manipulating the US political system.

"I suppose the $22 million dollars spent by the pro-Israel lobby in the 2018 election cycle along with over $40M in lobbying, was not interference, but a few tweets allegedly posted by allegedly Iran-linked Twitter accounts is interference? "

The analyst concluded that "the FBI and its spy agencies' partners want to ensure that regardless of which candidate wins the upcoming election, the American people will remain convinced that Russia, China, Iran, and Venezuela are mortal dangers to them and require the government to spend even more hundreds of billions on weapons and continue interfering in democracies all over the world. "

US President Donald Trump has unilaterally withdrawn the US from an internationally backed nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed illegal sanctions on Tehran.

Dunaway suggested that the AIPAC was trying to make future negotiations with Iran difficult if Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins the November race.

"They want to make sure a Biden administration doesn’t try to negotiate with Iran or remove the illegal sanctions imposed on the Iranian people," he noted. "The Zionist regime really doesn’t want that."

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/10/07/635880/twitter-ban-US-wants-to-show-Iran-as-moral-danger-to-people

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Nation’s deadliest domestic terrorist inspiring new generation of hate-filled ‘monsters,’ FBI records show

6 October 2020

A week before 36-year-old Timothy Wilson decided to blow up a Kansas City-area hospital that was already reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, he considered attacking a slew of other targets instead, including several local mosques, a synagogue and an elementary school filled with Black children.

But, according to FBI records, before the avowed white supremacist from Raymore, Missouri, picked his final target in March, Wilson texted an associate with a particular question: “How did McVeigh do it?”

More than 25 years ago, Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people and injured nearly 700 others when he bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City, making him the most ruthless domestic terrorist in U.S. history.

Fortunately this time, Wilson's associate was actually an undercover FBI agent, and Wilson was stopped before he could carry out his bloody assault.

In the past three years, the FBI has arrested a few hundred Americans suspected of ties to domestic terrorism or violent white supremacy. And, as the nation confronts a surge in racially motivated violence, the FBI uncovered references to McVeigh in several of those investigations, according to an ABC News review of court records and government documents.

“That data point – in conjunction with more public displays of far-right extremist beliefs and a rise in hate crimes – suggests we are seeing a dramatic re-emergence of the [same] views that served as the motivation for the Oklahoma City attack,” warned John Cohen, an ABC News contributor who served as the Department of Homeland Security counterterrorism coordinator under the Obama administration.

Whether it was an apparent reverence for the killer himself or his lethal tactics, experts said the recent cases referencing McVeigh underscore how even decades-old forces can help fuel what the FBI has deemed one the most dangerous threats now facing the country.

“A mass casualty event like the Oklahoma City bombing is … meant to provoke further violence," noted Kathleen Belew, a University of Chicago historian who has studied the development of modern white supremacy. "It’s meant to incite people, to awaken them to what people in this movement see as a state of emergency confronting the white race.”

The ABC News review of cases invoking McVeigh is part of “Homegrown Hate: The War Among Us,” an hour-long documentary premiering Tuesday on ABC News Live that examines white supremacy’s violent comeback.

A 'huge wake-up moment' in Charlottesville

The FBI has said McVeigh was motivated by a desire to topple the U.S. government, but in a media interview before he was executed in June 2001, McVeigh also described members of the white power movement as his “brothers in arms.”

That era “was kind of the last time” that the nation focused on right-wing extremism, because the 9/11 attacks just a few months later diverted attention overseas, according to Elizabeth Neumann, the recently-departed head of threat prevention and security policy at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Radical forms of racism then largely remained “masked” for decades – until the presidential campaign of 2016 inflamed divisions inside America and hate crimes began to rise again, added Neumann, who has since spoken out against President Donald Trump since leaving his administration.

“For many of us,” she said, “a huge wakeup moment” came in August 2017, when a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, attracted white supremacists from across the country, who chanted racist slogans and clashed with counter-protesters, leaving one woman dead.

Kelvin Pierce, whose late father, Dr. William Luther Pierce, is considered one of the pioneers of the modern white power movement, believes the Charlottesville rally showed that white supremacy was “becoming mainstream” again and that "the monster has come out of hibernation," as further demonstrated just days later when Trump infamously claimed there were “very fine people” on both sides of the protests.

“I see [it all] as a pretty massive swing of the pendulum in the wrong direction,” Pierce said, insisting that rhetoric coming from Trump has only exacerbated the problem.

In fact, ABC News found that since Trump emerged as a presidential candidate in 2015, at least 25 people charged with hate-fueled assaults or threats cited Trump specifically in connection to their actions. ABC News could not find any such cases similarly tied to former presidents Barack Obama or George W. Bush.

“In the minds of those people who may be on the cusp, who may be considering a violent attack, they view the language used by mainstream elected officials as permission," Cohen said.

Trump has repeatedly denied that his rhetoric helps push anyone toward extremism, and after renewed pressure last week to publicly denounce hate groups, Trump said in a Fox News interview, "I condemn all white supremacists."

Nevertheless, as Pierce sees it, the racial divisions now spreading across America are exactly what McVeigh and like-minded extremists – poisoned by a toxic mix of racism and anti-government views – always hoped to inspire.

“[They believed] that their single action is going to be instrumental in starting a race war, or a civil war,” said Pierce, who once adhered to his father's ideologies and now speaks out against such hatred.

Neo-Nazi group founder had framed McVeigh photo beside bed: Police

In 1978, Pierce’s father published the racist novel “The Turner Diaries,” which portrayed a violent campaign against the federal government and a race war that wiped out Black Americans.

Excerpts of the book were found in McVeigh’s car when authorities arrested him in 1995.

Nearly 25 years later, McVeigh’s legacy is the one surfacing in federal investigations of domestic terrorists and violent white supremacists.

In particular, the FBI has spent considerable resources investigating a growing neo-Nazi group called Atomwaffen – or “atomic weapon” in German.

“They vowed to accelerate the collapse of civilization using violence, mass murder [and] hate,” a senior Justice Department official warned in February when the FBI arrested several alleged members of the group on threat-related charges.

When authorities raided the Tampa, Florida, home of Atomwaffen founder Brandon Russell three years ago, they found explosives and a framed picture of McVeigh sitting on Russell’s nightstand, according to police records.

Russell has since pleaded guilty to federal weapons-related charges, and he was sentenced to five years in federal prison.

In another case nearly two years ago, the FBI searched the home of a 29-year-old Boulder, Colorado, man who allegedly posted information online encouraging attacks on Jews, Muslims, and federal government facilities, and then tried to buy a gun.

In an interview with FBI agents, Wesley David Gilreath said he “wanted the white race to win at life,” and inside his home they found a full-size Nazi flag, a t-shirt bearing McVeigh’s face, and a book titled, “American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing,” according to court documents filed by the Justice Department.

On Gilreath's phone, the documents said, the agents discovered that he had conducted online research related to weapons and bombs, he had searched for nearby mosques and synagogues, and he had entered this into an online search engine: “Timothy McVeigh – YouTube.”

Agents also discovered child pornography on his phone, which brought Gilreath a 15-year prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to possessing that material.

A year ago, in yet another case, the FBI began investigating 18-year-old Richard Tobin of Brooklawn, N.J., who had allegedly joined a "white racially motivated violent extremist group" and directed others around the country to vandalize synagogues in the Midwest with neo-Nazi symbols, according an FBI affidavit filed in the case.

In an interview with FBI agents, Tobin praised suicide bombings, saying “he believed it would be ‘pretty straightforward’ to fill the back of a truck with barrels [of explosives] like Timothy McVeigh did,” the FBI wrote in the affidavit.

According to the affidavit, when agents searched Tobin’s computer, they found “a document detailing how to arrange barrels inside a Ryder truck to be used as a truck bomb” – the same brand of rental truck McVeigh used to deliver his deadly device in 1995. Tobin has since been charged with a threat-related offense and is awaiting trial. It's unclear if he has entered a plea.

In reviewing government documents and court records, ABC News identified at least two other cases of hate-filled violence invoking McVeigh, including the August 2017 arrest of an Oklahoma man who the FBI said “wanted to go ahead and replicate the Oklahoma City bombing.”

2019 was deadliest year for domestic terrorism since Oklahoma City: Feds

Six months ago, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin to law enforcement agencies across the country, highlighting the "persistent and evolving" threat from violent white supremacists and other domestic terrorists.

The bulletin noted that due to McVeigh’s attack, 1995 was the nation’s most lethal year for domestic terrorism attacks. Last year was the nation’s second-most lethal year for domestic terrorism attacks, the bulletin said.

In 2019, domestic terrorists were responsible for at least 31 deaths, 23 of which were linked to white supremacists, according to the bulletin.

"While threats from [domestic terrorists] have continued to evolve since the Oklahoma City bombing, many of their significant drivers have remained constant. These drivers include perceptions of government or law enforcement overreach … and the perception of threats against those advocating for the superiority of the white race,” the bulletin stated.

The bulletin noted that Wilson, the Missouri man who recently plotted to attack a Kansas City-area hospital, was driven by such sentiments.

When FBI agents tried to arrest Wilson in March, he fatally shot himself, according to the FBI.

Asked by ABC News whether he believes the United States will eventually suffer another act of domestic terrorism as horrific and deadly as McVeigh’s, Pierce stated bluntly: “Yeah, I think more lives will be lost.”

But, he added, domestic terrorists and white supremacists fantasizing about an all-white America or the collapse of the federal government are sure to be disappointed.

“I don’t think the ultimate goal will be achieved," he said.

https://abcnews.go.com/US/nations-deadliest-domestic-terrorist-inspiring-generation-hate-filled/story?id=73431262&utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1590904_

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Pakistan

 

Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa Has Reiterated the Army’s Resolve to Continue Fight against Terrorism

08 Oct 2020

KARACHI: Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has reiterated the army’s resolve to continue the fight against terrorism until enduring peace is achieved.

This he said during a visit to the family of the late Colonel Mujeebur Rehman in Islamabad on Wednesday, said a statement released by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

Col Mujeeb embraced shahadat during a recent intelligence-based operation conducted in Tank.

The army chief offered Fateha and prayed for the departed soul.

“Sacrifices rendered by our officers and men shall never go waste. Our fight against terrorism shall continue till achievement of enduring peace and stability,” the COAS was quoted as saying by the ISPR.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1583861/fight-against-terrorism-will-continue-coas

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WB sees poverty rise, muted recovery in Pakistan over two years

Khaleeq Kiani

08 Oct 2020

ISLAMABAD: Forecasting worst recession in South Asia, the World Bank sees an increase in poverty in Pakistan over the next two years coupled with muted and uncertain economic recovery owing to the adverse impacts of Covid-19.

“In Pakistan, economic growth is projected to remain below potential, at 0.5pc for FY21 compared to over 4pc annual average in the three years to FY2019,” said the bank in its latest South Asia Economic Focus report, a twice-a-year publication.

The economic growth is projected to remain below potential, averaging 1.3 per cent for FY21 and FY22, according to the report.

It said the projection, which is highly uncertain, is predicated on the absence of significant infection flare-ups or subsequent virus waves that would require further widespread lockdowns.

Real GDP growth is estimated to have declined from 1.9pc in FY19 to -1.5pc in FY20, the first contraction in decades, says report

Speaking ahead of the report’s launch, Hartwig Schafer, World Bank’s vice president for the South Asia region, said: “The collapse of South Asian economies during Covid-19 has been more brutal than anticipated, worst of all for small businesses and informal workers who suffer sudden job losses and vanishing wages.”

In response to a question, he said the bank did not publish Pakistan’s poverty numbers for technical reasons, but increase in poverty rate was high like many other countries in the region.

The report said Pakistan’s economy has been severely affected by measures taken to contain the pandemic. Economic activity contracted and poverty is likely to have risen in FY20, as monetary and fiscal policy tightening, earlier in the year, was followed by lockdowns.

Growth is expected to be gradual but is likely to remain muted, given the heightened uncertainty and the resumption of demand compression measures. A possible resurgence of the infection, widespread crop damage due to locusts and heavy monsoon rains pose major risks to the outlook.

Overall, the report said, South Asia is set to plunge into its worst recession as the devastating impacts of Covid-19 on the region’s economies linger on, taking a disproportionate toll on informal workers and pushing millions of South Asians into extreme poverty.

It forecast a sharper than expected economic slump across the region, with regional growth expected to contract by 7.7pc in 2020, after topping 6pc annually in the past five years.

Mr Schafer said provision of immediate relief had dulled the impacts of the pandemic, but governments need to address the deep-seated vulnerabilities of their informal sectors through smart policies, and allocate their scarce resources wisely.

Talking about Pakistan, the report said real GDP growth (at factor cost) was estimated to have declined from 1.9pc in FY19 to -1.5pc in FY20, the first contraction in decades, reflecting the effects of Covid-19 containment measures that followed monetary and fiscal tightening prior to the outbreak.

It said the domestic economic activity is expected to recover, as lockdown measures are lifted with a gradual decline in active Covid-19 cases, but Pakistan’s near-term economic prospects are subdued. Significant uncertainty over the evolution of the pandemic and availability of a vaccine, demand compression measures to curb imbalances, along with unfavourable external conditions, all weigh on the outlook.

The current account deficit is expected to widen to an average of 1.5pc of GDP over FY21 and FY22, with imports and exports gradually picking up as domestic demand and global conditions improve.

The fiscal deficit is projected to narrow to 7.4pc in FY22, with the resumption of fiscal consolidation and stronger revenues driven by recovering economic activity and critical structural reforms.

According to the report, expenditures will remain substantial due to sizeable interest payments, a rising salary and pension bill, and absorption of state-owned enterprises’ guaranteed debt by government in the energy sector.

“Given anaemic growth projections in the near term, poverty is expected to worsen. Vulnerable households rely heavily on jobs in the services sector, and the projected weak services growth is likely to be insufficient to reverse the higher poverty rates precipitated by the pandemic,” said the report.

It said there were considerable downside risks to the outlook with the most significant being a possible resurgence of the infection triggering a new wave of global and/or domestic lockdowns and further delaying the implementation of critical structural reforms.

Locust attacks and heavy monsoon rains could lead to widespread crop damage, food insecurity and inflationary pressures, and livelihoods for households depending primarily on agriculture could also be negatively impacted.

Finally, external financing risks could be compounded by difficulties in rolling-over bilateral debt from non-traditional donors and tighter international financing conditions.

The bank noted that despite weak activity, consumer price inflation in Pakistan rose from an average of 6.8pc in FY19 to an average of 10.7pc in FY20, due to surging food inflation, hikes in administered energy prices, and a weaker rupee, which depreciated 13.8pc against the US dollar in FY20.

With elevated inflationary pressures, the policy rate was held at 13.25pc from July 2019 to February 2020 but was subsequently lowered to 7pc over the remainder of FY20, to support dwindling activity and as inflationary expectations fell amid the pandemic.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1583886/wb-sees-poverty-rise-muted-recovery-in-pakistan-over-two-years

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Pakistan SC declines to extend detention of accused in Daniel Pearl murder case

Oct 7, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Supreme Court turned down on Wednesday the request of the government of the southern province of Sindh to further extend the detention of British-born Pakistani Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and three others accused of the murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl.

The accused, however, will remain behind bars after the provincial government ordered that their detention be extended by another 90 days under the Maintenance of Public Order law.

Pearl’s parents and Sindh’s government had filed separate appeals in the SC requesting it to reverse the high court’s decision acquitting the three men and converting Sheikh’s death sentence to a seven-year jail term for the abduction and murder of the American journalist. Sheikh had already spent 18 years on death row and his seven-year sentence was to be treated as time served.

During the hearing, Sindh prosecutor general Fayyaz Shah asked the court to be granted some time to prepare the paperwork in connection with the case and requested that detention be extended.

The three-judge bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam dismissed the request, stating that the Sindh government had already had the detention extended by three months and the court could not extend it further. The judges then adjourned the hearing till October 21.

Faisal Siddiqi, the lawyer representing Pearl’s family, who had expected the court to rule against Sheikh’s acquittal on Wednesday, said he still hopes such a decision would come before the suspect’s new three-month detention expires.

Sheikh’s defence lawyer, Mahmood Shaikh, said he had been expecting his client to walk free on Wednesday. “My client cannot he kept in jail for an indefinite period,” Shaikh said.

The lawyer said he has already challenged Wednesday’s three-month extension of Sheikh’s detention and that his motion would be taken up by a local court in Karachi on October 19.

Pearl, the South Asia bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal, went missing in January 2002 from Karachi. A month later, the US consulate in Karachi received video footage of his decapitation. His body was later found at a militant den in the port city.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-sc-declines-to-extend-detention-of-accused-in-daniel-pearl-murder-case/articleshow/78541518.cms

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Afghanistan’s poppy crop poses threat to Pakistan, says Swati

Saleem Shahid

08 Oct 2020

QUETTA: The massive poppy cultivation in Afghanistan is a big threat to Pakistan and the government is determined to rid the country of this menace at all costs, the federal minister for narcotics control said on Wednesday.

“The government is making all-out efforts to cleanse the country of narcotics in accordance with the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan,” Azam Swati said at a press conference.

The National Assembly’s Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri was also present.

Afghanistan accounts for over 80 per cent of the world’s total poppy output and the commodity is smuggled to the Middle East and other regions through Balochistan, the minister observed.

A large quantity of drugs seized by the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) would be burnt in Quetta on Thursday.

Azam Swati said the ANF and other institutions had launched a crackdown on drug barons.

Referring to the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) plan to launch an anti-government drive, he said it would not affect the PTI as the opposition had no support among the masses. “Nawaz Sharif is an absconder and has lost support and credibility.”

There was no difference between Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif as both were involved in ‘mega corruption’ while in power, Mr Swati alleged.

“Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari will not be given NRO-like deals. Both will be treated according to the law.”

The minister said the government was determi­ned to take the process of accountability to its log­­ical conclusion in order to rid the country of corruption. “The government and national security ins­ti­tutions are on one page on eliminating corruption.”

Mr Swati was confident the PTI would sweep the Senate elections and the victory would enable the party to make good on its pledge to bring about a change in the lives of the majority.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1583859/afghanistans-poppy-crop-poses-threat-to-pakistan-says-swati

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 Southeast Asia

 PAS says it can foster unity between Muslim and non-Muslims in Sabah

October 7, 2020

PETALING JAYA: PAS vice-president Nik Mohd Amar Abdullah has justified a proposal for a representative from the party to be one of six nominated assemblymen in Sabah, saying PAS was capable of “contributing meaningfully” to the state.

New Straits Times quoted him as saying this was based on the party’s success in administering Kelantan for the past 30 years.

He said he was hoping that Sabah Chief Minister Hajiji Noor would still choose a PAS man to be a nominated assemblyman, saying the party had experience in managing state matters.

Amar had also hit out at PBS president Maximus Ongkili for opposing the proposal for a PAS man to be a nominated member of the Sabah state assembly.

“Based on our experience in administrating Kelantan for 30 years, I believe we can provide a meaningful contribution to Sabah.

“We disagree with those who say PAS is not fit to be part of the Sabah government. What Ongkili had said cannot be accepted.

“PAS is a registered political party which has never caused any trouble since its inception,” he told NST.

While admitting that his party had “crossed the line” on certain matters in the past, he maintained that did not equate party members to be “extremists” or lousy assemblymen.

“PAS’ contribution can be seen in Kelantan. Muslims and non-Muslims live in harmony and they are not being treated differently,” he added.

Under the state constitution, the state government may appoint up to six nominated members to the state assembly. The ruling Gabungan Rakyat Sabah alliance has 38 seats in the 73-member assembly.

Previously, Barisan Nasional secretary-general Annuar Musa had said he expected PAS, the coalition’s political ally in Muafakat Nasional, to be given a nominated assemblyman spot.

However, Ongkili said PBS had informed Perikatan Nasional chairman Muhyiddin Yassin and Hajiji that the party was against such a move.

Ongkili said the party’s views expressed the misgivings and concerns of the Sabahan public and the need to consider the broader legal and political implications of the proposed appointment.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/highlight/2020/10/07/pas-says-it-can-foster-unity-between-muslim-and-non-muslims-in-sabah/

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Indonesia invites Malaysian companies to co-develop halal products industry

07 Oct 2020'

JAKARTA, Oct 7 — Indonesia has invited Malaysian companies to cooperate in developing the halal products industry for the economic interests of both countries.

Indonesia’s Deputy Villages, Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration Minister Budi Arie Setiadi said Malaysia had extensive experience and involvement in the industry, while Indonesia had vast amounts of resources and materials, which could be utilised for mutual benefit.

“We invite Malaysian companies to discuss with the ministry on the potential of this cooperation,” he said when paying a courtesy call on Malaysian Ambassador to Indonesia Datuk Zainal Abidin Bakar in Jakarta today.

Zainal Abidin said the embassy would inform the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry Malaysia (Miti) to follow up on the proposal.

“The discussion with Budi Arie and his delegation also touched on opportunities for cooperation in agro-business, agricultural technology development, as well as efforts to recover sectors of mutual interest which have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo previously stated that Indonesia was still lagging behind Malaysia in terms of the halal products industry even though the republic had the largest Muslim population in the world.

Jokowi, when launching the Indonesian Sharia Economic Masterplan (Meksi) 2019-2024 last year, said the country’s target was to become the fourth largest sharia economic power in the world by 2045.

“But to get there is not an easy task. There are many obstacles (challenges) and big questions that need to be resolved, we are still far (behind). We are still behind Malaysia ...,” he said. — Bernama

https://www.malaymail.com/news/money/2020/10/07/indonesia-invites-malaysian-companies-to-co-develop-halal-products-industry/1910509

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URL:  https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/saudi-arabia-pressures-bangladesh-issue/d/123081

 

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