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Islamic World News ( 7 Apr 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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'Shabana is A Proud Muslim And I’m A Proud Hindu’: Actor Manoj Bajpayee On His Marriage With Shabana Raza

New Age Islam News Bureau

07 April 2023

Manoj Bajpayee with wife Shabana Raza and daughter Ava Nayla. (Varinder Chawla)


• UN ChiefAntonio Guterres Says Fasting Showed Him 'True Face Of Islam'

• Saudi Human Rights Commission Welcomes UN Adoption Of Draft Resolution On Tackling Religious Fanaticism

• Top Iranian, Saudi Envoys Meet In China In Restoration Of Diplomatic Ties

• Iran, S. Arabia Agree to Launch Cooperation toward Ensuring Regional Peace



• Kerala: Malappuram Temple Hosts Iftar For Local Muslims

• Non-Muslim Students Serve Iftar To Their Muslim Friends in Karnataka’s Bidar

• Supreme Court to hear Gyanvapi mosque dispute on April 14

• Gyanvapi Case: Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee Moves SC Over Continued Sealing of Area in Mosque Amid Ramzan

• Pakistan responds to India notice on Indus Treaty

• Hyderabad: Muslim couple file complaint after right-wing ‘harassment’



• Muslims Subjected To 'Structural Discrimination' By Banks, Institutions In Netherlands

• UK Inquiry Finds No Conclusive Evidence Of Islamophobia In Minister’s Sacking

• Six men linked to Iranian secret services arrested in Azerbaijan over ‘coup plot’

• Russia’s Lavrov arrives in Turkey, will meet with Erdogan: Official

​​​​​​​• Police in Sweden appeal court ruling allowing Quran burning protests

• Italy pays tribute to Turkish, Syrian quake victims on anniversary of L'Aquila earthquake

• Netherlands to deploy 160 soldiers for peacekeeping mission in Bosnia


Arab World

• Casablanca’s Ramadan Evenings Are Spiritual, Convivial, Cultural

• UAE’s Al-NeyadiTo Be First Ever Arab Astronaut To Perform Spacewalk

• UNIFIL urges restraint after Israel intercepts rockets fired from southern Lebanon

• Presence of oil executives at Baghdad talks a sign of Iraq-Kurdistan progress

• Hamas blamed for multiple rockets fired from Lebanon into northern Israel

• Ramadan nights at Bujairi Terrace offer poetry, food, shopping

• Egypt nominates former tourism and antiquities minister for UNESCO director general post

• Drone used in bid to smuggle drugs into Lebanon’s biggest prison


Southeast Asia

• Indonesia, Malaysia Urges UN Action On Al-Aqsa Mosque Raid

• Tension Between Malaysia's Monarchy, PAS Reflects The Rapidly Changing Dynamics In Politics

• PM breaks fast with academics, scholars, Ulama and Islamic NGOs

• King, Queen visit TanjungTokong Ramadan Bazaar



• UN Expert Denounces Attacks OnPalestinians At Al-Aqsa Mosque

• Iranian FM: Israeli Authorities Showing Confused for Internal Crisis

• Iran Raps UNSC's Inaction on Israeli Assault on Syria

• Israel launches airstrikes on Gaza Strip after barrage of rockets fired from Lebanon

• Palestinians will respond to Israel al-Aqsa ‘aggression’: Hamas

• Hezbollah vows ‘solidarity’ with Palestinians after al-Aqsa clashes

• Houthis agree to restore UN-brokered truce, negotiate with opponents

• Iran's President Raeisi calls for OIC emergency meeting after Israel raid on al-Aqsa Mosque



• Elections Must Be Held Simultaneously Across Pakistan, says Law Minister

• Pakistan gets Saudi's approval for $2 billion funding to secure IMF bailout

• NSC meeting called today to ‘revisit’ militancy threat

• Saudi Arabia gives financing pledge vital for reviving IMF deal: Aisha

• Army chief vows to defend Pakistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity

• PTI up in arms as Gandapur arrested from D.I. Khan

• PAC orders inquiry into breach of army chief, family’s personal data


South Asia

• Afghanistan Seeking to Develop Relations with Russia: Muttaqi

• Bangladesh condemns Israel attack on Muslims praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque

• Taliban top spokesman Mujahid asked to work from Kandahar

• UN in Touch with India for Food Supplies to Afghanistan: Official

• Flash Flood Kills 1, wounds 10 in Northeast Afghanistan

• Pakistani Security Forces Kill 8 Militants Near Afghanistan Border



• Tunisia President Kais Saied Rejects IMF ‘Diktats,’ Casting Shadow Over Bailout

• Working To Complete Talks Over Civilian Rule Deal: Sudan’s Army Chief

• Ramadan: Maltina launches campaign for Muslims’ warfare

• Deal to restore democratic transition in Sudan delayed again


North America

• Brazil’s Bolsonaro Testifies About Receiving Gifts Of Saudi Jewellery

• White House Blames Trump, Bad Intel For Traumatic Afghanistan Exit

• US, Arab countries working to de-escalate Lebanon-Israel tensions

• US says Israel has ‘right to defend itself’ after Lebanon rockets

• Canada repatriates 14 women, children from Syria’s Roj camp

• US envoy visits Turkish opposition, angers President Erdogan

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



'Shabana is A Proud Muslim And I’m A Proud Hindu’: Actor Manoj Bajpayee On His Marriage With Shabana Raza

Apr 06, 2023

Manoj Bajpayee with wife Shabana Raza and daughter Ava Nayla. (Varinder Chawla)


Manoj Bajpayee has said that people may have had objections to his marriage to Shabana Raza, but they never had the courage to speak about it to his face. The actor added that he has a bad reputation for his temper, and that is why people refrain from making such statements.

Manoj and Shabana married in 2006, years after they first met at a party. Shabana Raza, is also known as Neha Bajpayee, and has worked in films such as Kareeb (1998).

Asked about facing societal or family pressure for marrying Shabana, Manoj exclusively told Barkha Dutt on Mojo Story, “Had there been any, it was not conveyed to me, it was not made obvious to me. I come from a Brahmin family, she comes from a reputed family. But, surprisingly, none of my family members objected to it. Never. (have there been comments on the caste or religion). Till now, never.”

Manoj added that both his wife and him are more spiritual than religious beings. “She’s a proud Muslim, like I’m a proud Hindu, but it doesn’t clash with each other. Because we are more spiritual than religious. Even if they would’ve talk about the religion of my wife, they could not have the strength or the courage to speak to me, on my face. Because they know that I don’t mince my words. I’m very hard when it comes to anyone talking like that. I come very, very hard. I’m a tough guy then.”

Manoj added that he does not take it nicely if someone talks ill about communities or religions, even among friends. He said that he used to have a temper, and people still talk about it. However, he added that he finds it embarrassing now when friends such as filmmakers Anubhav Sinha and Hansal Mehta talk about it.

In the biography Manoj Bajpayee- KuchPaane Ki Zid, Manoj had shared about the time he first saw Shabana. The book quoted Manoj as saying that Shabana's simplicity caught his attention when he spotted her at a Hansal Mehta party. She had no makeup on her face, had oil in her hair, and was wearing glasses.

Source: Hindustan Times

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UN Chief Antonio Guterres Says Fasting Showed Him 'True Face Of Islam'

Rabia IclalTuran


UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said joining Muslims as they fast during Islam's holy month of Ramadan showed him “the true face of Islam.”

“The sense of peace, the sense of solidarity, the sense of generosity that I witnessed in the communities hosting refugees, and also the resilience, the courage of the refugees themselves was extremely inspiring,” he said.

His remarks came during an interview with UN News’s Arabic service on Wednesday, ahead of his visit to Somali next week as part of the UN chief's annual tradition of visiting a Muslim-majority country during Ramadan.

"And it remains a very important inspiration of everything I do today, as Secretary-General of the United Nations," he added.

Asked about his annual visit to refugee camps or settlements as UNHCR chief, where he fasted in solidarity, Guterres said: “When I became Secretary-General, I thought that this tradition should be maintained - now, not focused on refugee communities, but focused on the Muslim communities that are suffering”.

On Ramadan, Guterres said: “I think this is the moment for us to be all united for peace. Peace is the most precious thing that we can have in the world”.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Saudi Human Rights Commission welcomes UN adoption of draft resolution on tackling religious fanaticism

April 06, 2023

President of the Saudi HRC Hala Al-Tuwaijri addressing a high-level meeting of the 52nd session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in February. (SPA/File Photo)


RIYADH: The Saudi Human Rights Commission (HRC) welcomed on Thursday a decision from the UN Human Rights Council to adopt a draft resolution proposed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on denouncing religious fanaticism, discrimination and violence around the world.

HRC said that the draft resolution is a continuation of global efforts to put an end to extremism, intolerance, and hate speech, as well as enhance coexistence and peace, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The commission said the unanimously adopted resolution included facts that should be implemented on the ground, mainly undermining religious hate, refraining from attaching terrorism to any religion, respecting religious and cultural diversity and dialogue among followers of different faiths and cultures.

Earlier this year, president of the HRC, Hala Al-Tuwaijri, affirmed Saudi Arabia’s commitment to enhancing and protecting human rights, as well as respecting cultural diversity and equality among peoples.

Source: Arab News

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Top Iranian, Saudi envoys meet in China in restoration of diplomatic ties

Apr 6, 2023

The foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia met in Beijing on Thursday for the first formal gathering of their top diplomats in more than seven years, after China brokered a deal to restore relations between the top regional powers.(Photo Credit - AFP)


BEIJING/RIYADH: The foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia met in Beijing on Thursday for the first formal gathering of their top diplomats in more than seven years, after China brokered a deal to restore relations between the top regional powers.

After years of hostility that fuelled conflicts across the Middle East, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to end their diplomatic rift and reopen diplomatic missions in a significant deal facilitated by China last month.

In brief footage broadcast on Iranian state TV, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, greeted each other before sitting down side by side.

Saudi Arabia and Iran, the Gulf's dominant Sunni Muslim and Shi'ite Muslim powers respectively, said in a joint statement they would launch arrangements to reopen embassies and consulates within the two-month period stipulated in the deal.

"The technical teams will continue coordination to examine ways of expanding cooperation including the resumption of flights and bilateral visits of official and private sector delegations and facilitating the granting of visas for the citizens of the two countries," they said.

In a tweet, Iran's Amirabdollahian said the Thursday meeting with his Saudi counterpart was "positive", adding that "the emphasis on stability and sustainable security" were among the issues agreed upon and "on the common agenda".

In March, Chinese President Xi Jinping helped broker the surprise deal in a display of Beijing's growing influence in the Middle East. China's role in the breakthrough shook up dynamics in a conflict-ridden region where the United States has for decades been the main mediator.

The detente between the Sunni kingdom and the revolutionary Shi'ite theocracy could help stabilise the Middle East, where the two sides have supported sectarian proxy forces that are either at daggers drawn or openly at war.


Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran in 2016 after its embassy in Tehran was stormed during a dispute between the two countries over Riyadh's execution of a Shi'ite cleric.

The relationship began worsening a year earlier, after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates intervened in Yemen's war, where the Iran-aligned Houthi movement had ousted a Saudi-backed government and taken over the capital Sanaa.

It is unclear whether the restoration of diplomatic relations could help bolster peace-making in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has been in tough talks with the Houthis on a permanent ceasefire.

However, the rapprochement could mean improved security for Saudi Arabia as it pursues its vast Vision 2030 project to modernise and diversify its long oil-dependent economy. The kingdom has accused Iran of arming the Houthis, who launched missiles and drones at Saudi cities and oil facilities.

In 2019, Riyadh blamed an attack on Aramco oil facilities, which knocked out half of its oil output, directly on the Islamic Republic. Iran denied those accusations.

Tehran and Riyadh, according to the joint statement, underlined the importance of reviving a security pact signed in 2001, under which both sides agreed to cooperate to tackle terrorism, drug-smuggling and money-laundering, as well as a trade and technology pact from 1998.

Source: Times Of India

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Iran, S. Arabia Agree to Launch Cooperation toward Ensuring Regional Peace


TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud issued a joint statement following the long-awaited meeting in China, voicing their readiness to reopen embassies and work toward establishing security and stability in West Asia.


In a joint statement issued Thursday after a meeting in Beijing, Amir Abdollahian and Prince Faisal expressed readiness to remove all impediments to the expansion of bilateral relations.

The two sides also agreed to develop cooperation in any field that can ensure the security and stability of the region as well as the interests of its nations.

They further underscored the importance of dialog on ways to bolster bilateral relations and activate a security cooperation agreement, as well as a general cooperation deal in the fields of economy, trade, investment, technology, science, culture, sports and youth.

In their joint statement, Iran and Saudi Arabia also agreed to reopen their embassies in Tehran and Riyadh, together with consulate generals in Mashhad and Jeddah within a deadline already specified.

They also agreed to keep up coordination between the two countries’ technical teams in order to examine resuming flights and visits by official delegations and those by the private sector, as well as facilitating visa process for their citizens, including for the Umrah pilgrimage.

Given the existing natural resources and economic capabilities that can be used to ensure the common interests of the two brotherly nations, the two sides agreed to increase meetings and consultations to further realize the positive prospects in bilateral ties.

At the end of their meeting, Amir Abdollahian and Prince Faisal thanked China for hosting Thursday’s meeting. Moreover, they expressed their gratitude to Switzerland for its efforts to protect the interests of Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Prince Faisal renewed his invitation for Amir Abdollahian to visit Saudi Arabia. The top Iranian diplomat, for his part, invited his Saudi counterpart to travel to Tehran, an invitation which was welcomed by Prince Faisal.

Following the meeting, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kana'ani announced that Riyadh and Tehran have formally resumed their relations.

The two regional heavyweights announced on March 10 a Chinese-brokered deal to restore ties seven years after they were severed. In a joint statement after signing the agreement, Tehran and Riyadh highlighted the need to respect each others’ national sovereignty and refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of one another.

On Monday, First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber stated that President Seyed Ebrahim Rayeesi has accepted an invitation from Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to visit the kingdom following the reconciliation deal between Tehran and Riyadh.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Kerala: Malappuram Temple Hosts Iftar For Local Muslims

Apr 06, 2023

A temple in Kerala’s Malappuram organised an Iftar party for the Muslim community giving a boost to communal harmony. Lakshmi Narasimha Murthy Vishnu temple near Vettichira hosted an Iftar party for the Muslims who were observing fast in the holy month of Ramzan. The Iftar was attended by hundreds of people from both communities.

Source: Times Of India

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Non-Muslim Students Serve Iftar To Their Muslim friends in Karnataka’s Bidar

6th April 2023

While the country faces religious disharmony, the students of the Shaheen group of institutions belonging to different faiths have organised Iftar for their Muslim friends in Karnataka’s Bidar, setting a perfect example of fraternity.

The month being Ramazan, the students have made an effort to prepare iftar plates loaded with fruits, fried items, and RoohAfza (fruit drink) on daily basis.

While the Muslim students break their fast in the evening, their non-Muslim friends serve them food and drinks on dastarkhwan (dining spread).

While they actively engage in preparing iftar, a Hindu student said, “We find peace in doing this and we also want to be a part of Ramadan.”

Wishing ‘Ramzan Mubarak’ to everyone, the student also said that she feels happy witnessing an environment like this.

This act of unity and friendship between students of different faiths highlights the importance of mutual respect and understanding that still prevails in many areas of the nation.

Another student, who volunteered at the event said that it was the first time that she has experienced Ramzan and added, “I really feel lucky in helping Iftar for my Muslim friends.”

Lauding the efforts of the students, the founder of the institution, Dr Abdul Qadeer said that it is overwhelming to see the suited spirit among students.

As many as 4500 participate in the Iftar programme daily.

“On our campus, Muslim and non-Muslim students observe the Iftar daily, while Muslims break their fast, the non-Muslim students serve them while they send out messages of peace and love,” said Abdul Qadeer.

Source: Siasat Daily

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Supreme Court to hear Gyanvapi mosque dispute on April 14

April 06, 2023

The Supreme Court on Thursday indicated its agreement to hear pleas concerning the Gyanvapi mosque dispute on April 14.

Mentioning before a Bench led by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud was made by senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the Committee of Management Anjuman Intezamia Masjid, which manages the mosque.

Mr. Ahmadi requested the court to list the case at an earlier date due to the Ramzan month when Chief Justice Chandrachud said that the issue was anyway listed on April 21.

The CJI then suggested to Mr. Ahmadi to file an application and mention it on April 10, following which the case would be listed on April 14.

“Your Lordships had passed an order in the matter. The area was sealed. There are bathrooms behind. Those were also sealed,” Mr. Ahmadi submitted.

In May last year, the apex court had ordered the securing of the area around which a ‘shivling’ was allegedly found in the mosque premises. However, the court had specified that Muslims would be able to offer namaaz in the mosque.

The court had ordered the District Magistrate to make appropriate arrangements, if not already made, for Muslims to perform wuzu (cleansing) before namaaz at the mosque.


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Gyanvapi Case: Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee Moves SC Over Continued Sealing of Area in Mosque Amid Ramzan

APRIL 06, 2023

The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid committee Thursday moved the Supreme Court over the continued sealing of the ‘wazukhana’, the pool where worshippers wash themselves before offering prayers, at the Gyanvapi mosque complex in Varanasi during the holy month of Ramzan.

The apex court had on November 11 last year extended till further orders the protection of the area where a ‘Shivling’ was claimed to have been found.

The matter was mentioned on Thursday before a bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud.

Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the Masjid committee, requested the bench to take up the matter for hearing soon, contending the holy month of Ramzan is underway.

He said due to the sealing of an area inside the mosque, the access to bathrooms has also been stopped.

The CJI said the matter is scheduled to come up on April 21.

Ahmadi urged since the month of Ramzan has started an earlier date would be better.

“Why don’t you file an IA (interlocutory application)? We can list the IA on April 14," the bench said.

On March 28, the apex court had agreed to list for hearing on April 21 a plea of the Hindu side seeking consolidation of all suits filed in a Varanasi court pertaining to the Gyanvapi mosque complex row. The bench had taken note of the submissions of lawyer Vishnu Shankar Jain that the district judge of Varanasi has deferred five times the decision on a plea seeking clubbing of all civil suits pertaining to the dispute. The apex court had earlier allowed the Hindu parties to move an application before the Varanasi district judge for consolidation of all lawsuits filed on the Gyanvapi mosque-Shringar Gauri row.

It had also directed the Hindu parties to file their replies within three weeks to the appeal by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid committee challenging the Allahabad High Court order on appointment of a survey commissioner.

On May 17 last year, the top court had passed an interim order directing the Varanasi district magistrate to ensure protection of the area inside the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri complex where the structure claimed to be a ‘Shivling’ was found during a video survey ordered by the court of the civil judge (senior division) in Varanasi.

The mosque committee, however, maintained the structure was part of the water fountain mechanism at the ‘wazukhana’, the reservoir where devotees perform ablutions before offering namaz.

The apex court had transferred the case to the district judge on May 20 last, pointing at the “complexities" and the “sensitivity" of the issue and saying that a more senior judicial officer should handle it.

In its May 17 last year order, the top court had directed protection of the area around the claimed ‘shivling’ while also allowing Muslims to offer namaz in the mosque.

It had said the interim order shall remain in operation till the maintainability of the suit is decided by the district judge, and then for eight more weeks to allow the aggrieved parties to approach a higher court.


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Pakistan responds to India notice on Indus Treaty

Apr 7, 2023

NEW DELHI: The government on Thursday confirmed it had received Pakistan’s response to its notice sent in January seeking a modification of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty for management of cross-border rivers.

Despite the World Bank asking India and Pakistan to find a mutually agreeable way to address Pakistan’s objections to Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects in J&K, Islamabad’s refusal to discuss the issue with India had led to the government’s notice.

Source: Times Of India

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Hyderabad: Muslim couple file complaint after right-wing ‘harassment’

5th April 2023

Hyderabad: A Muslim couple filed a police complaint stating that they have been allegedly targeted by certain sections of the right-wing Hindu community by exposing their personal details such as phone numbers, names of their relatives, addresses etc.

Addressed to the City Commissioner of Police, Joint Commissioner of Police (Special Branch), Deputy Commissioner of Police (South Zone) and Station House Officer (SHO) P S Mirchowk, the plaintiff named – Syed Inayat Hussain Abidi – mentioned in detail the harassment.

The letter mentions the first complaint against him was registered in 2022 by Radhika Rangwala who accuses him of indulging in terrorist activities.

“I have allegedly videographed various defence and DRDO locations,” the letter stated. Abidi said that because of the FIR, he was called by the Kanchanbagh police station and thereafter by Special Branch Chatta Bazar by investigating officers named Sudarshan, Ravindra, Venu and Mehdi.

“When the authorities found out that the allegations are far from the truth, false and fictitious, they assured me that action will be taken against the complainant,” Abidi wrote in his letter.

However, Abidi’s problems did not end there. On November 23, 2022, he found out that police complaints were registered against him, his wife and his sisters alleging that they were a part of the alleged terror group Saraya Al Mukhtar and were ‘planning to attack consulates such as USA, UK, Bahrain etc’.

“I was summoned multiple times and this continued till January 2023, and again after knowing that my family was being falsely accused, the authorities left us,” the letter stated.

“Again a complaint was lodged against me by Uma Maheshwari alleging that I am associated with different terror organisations,” Abidi’s letter said.

Abidi also found out that his personal details were exposed to the public through a tweet by Goshmahal MLA and suspended BJP leader T Raja Singh.

Source: Siasat Daily

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Muslims subjected to 'structural discrimination' by banks, institutions in Netherlands




Muslims are "structurally" discriminated against by banks and financial institutions in the Netherlands, mostly as a result of the law to stop money laundering and terrorism funding, according to the national coordinator against discrimination and racism.

Rabin Baldewsingh told Dutch daily Trouw on Thursday that he receives extra signals from Muslims who were discriminated against, especially during Ramadan due to obligatory almsgiving in Islam and collection of charity money to help the less fortunate.

"Then they are bombarded by compliance departments of banks who designated them as suspects of money laundering or terrorism,” Baldewsingh said. "Then they must demonstrate how they got that money before the transaction is processed."

He called for an investigation into this.

One of the instances the coordinator cited in Trouw concerns a businessman whose surname is a popular one in Pakistan and coincides with one of Al-Qaeda's affiliates. On the funding application for a new restaurant, he had to respond to further inquiries, he said.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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UK inquiry finds no conclusive evidence of Islamophobia in minister’s sacking

06 April ,2023

An ethics adviser to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Thursday he had found no clear evidence of Islamophobia to back up allegations by a lawmaker that she was sacked from her ministerial job in 2020 partly because of her Muslim faith.

Nusrat Ghani, 50, said last year that she had been told by a whip - an enforcer of parliamentary discipline - that her Muslim faith was making colleagues uncomfortable and was a factor in her sacking as junior transport minister in February 2020.

Then Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered an inquiry into the allegations in January 2022.

Announcing the inquiry’s findings, Laurie Magnus, Sunak’s independent adviser on ministers’ interests, said Ghani’s concerns were “very serious”, but that he was unable to determine what exactly transpired in meetings between her and the government’s then chief whip Mark Spencer.

He said he had received conflicting evidence from each of them and that there was no evidence to suggest that negative comments about Ghani’s faith were made, but also that it was not possible to conclude they were not.

“In the absence of clear evidence, it would not be right to take further action,” Sunak wrote in a reply to Magnus.

The Conservative Party has previously faced accusations of Islamophobia, and a report in 2021 criticized it over how it dealt with complaints of discrimination against Muslims.

Ghani said Magnus’s report showed her evidence had been consistent, and there was no criticism expressed about her version of the events.

“We all serve at the Prime Minister’s choosing and there is no shame in a political career ending,” Ghani said in response to the report. “But to be told your faith and identity is the reason for it cannot be acceptable in any way.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Six men linked to Iranian secret services arrested in Azerbaijan over ‘coup plot’

06 April ,2023

Azerbaijan on Thursday arrested six men it said were linked to Iranian secret services and were plotting a coup in the Caspian nation, in the latest tensions between Baku and Tehran.

Relations between the neighbors have long been strained, with Azerbaijan being a close ally of Iran’s historical rival Turkey.

The arrests came after months of diplomatic tensions.

Baku said the six Azerbaijani nationals were “recruited by Iranian secret services to destabilize the situation in the country.”

It announced the arrests in a joint statement by the interior ministry, state security service and prosecutor-general’s office.

It said the group was plotting to “set up a ‘resistance squad’ aimed at establishing a Sharia state in Azerbaijan through armed unrest and violent overthrow of Azerbaijan’s constitutional order.”

It accused them of being “engaged in a pro-Iranian propaganda of religious radicalism, fulfilling orders from abroad to undermine Azerbaijan’s tradition of tolerance.”

According to Azerbaijan, they promoted “radical Islam” using money from drug profits.

In January, Azerbaijan suspended the operation of its embassy in Iran, days after a gunman stormed the mission, killing one guard and wounding two others.

Baku has claimed that Tehran’s secret services were behind the attack.

Last year, the oil-rich country arrested five of its nationals for spying for Iran and 17 more men who Baku claimed belonged to an “illegal armed group set up by Iran.”

Azerbaijan has criticized Iran over allegedly backing Armenia in Baku’s decades-long conflict with Armenia over the breakaway region of Nagorno Karabakh.

Iran - which is home to millions of Turkic-speaking ethnic Azerbaijanis - has long accused Azerbaijan of fomenting separatist sentiment inside its territory.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Russia’s Lavrov arrives in Turkey, will meet with Erdogan: Official

06 April ,2023

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in Turkey on Thursday, a Turkish official told AFP, for talks that include the future of a key deal that allows grain exports from Ukrainian ports through a safe corridor in the Black Sea.

Lavrov met with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu during a fast-breaking dinner in the capital Ankara.

He is due to address a joint news conference with Cavusoglu and meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

NATO member Turkey, which has good ties with its two Black Sea neighbors, is pushing Russia and Ukraine to resume peace talks, hoping to build on past diplomatic endeavors last year.

“Despite the complication of the international situation, the Russian-Turkish political dialogue, primarily at the level of the heads of the two states, continues,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement ahead of the visit.

Lavrov, who last visited Turkey in June, will also discuss with Turkish officials the grain deal, which the Russian foreign ministry said was extended “as a gesture of goodwill for another 60 days.”

Turkey has pushed for a 120-day extension in compliance with the original agreement.

Ukraine is one of the world’s top grain producers.

The deal brokered by Ankara and the United Nations in July 2022 has allowed the export of more than 25 million tons of grain.

But Moscow wants the implementation of the second agreement on the export of Russian food and fertilizers despite Western sanctions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Erdogan have been closely engaged either through telephone, or face-to-face meetings.

Last year, the two leaders met four times in Sochi, Tehran, Samarkand and in Astana.

Russia is also pushing Turkey and Syria to normalize their troubled ties after years of tensions since the 2011 civil war, which has left 500,000 people dead and displaced millions.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Police in Sweden appeal court ruling allowing Quran burning protests

06 April ,2023

Swedish police said Thursday they had appealed a court ruling which overturned a police decision to block two gatherings where protesters had planned to burn the Quran.

“The Police Authority believes that the principles of the issue are important and it is therefore urgent that it is examined by a higher court,” police said in a statement.

The burning of Islam’s holy book outside Turkey’s embassy in Stockholm in January sparked anger in the Muslim world, leading to weeks of protests, calls for a boycott of Swedish goods, and holding up Sweden’s NATO membership bid.

Stockholm police then refused to grant permission for two subsequent similar protests planned for February, citing security concerns.

But in a ruling on Tuesday the Stockholm Administrative Court overturned the decision, saying the cited security risk concerns were not enough to limit the right to demonstrate.

The “police authority did not have sufficient support for its decisions,” judge Eva-Lotta Hedin said.

On Thursday, the police authority said that the appeals had been filed and that it requested to have until April 25 to “elaborate the authority’s case.”

Swedish police had authorized the January protest organized by Rasmus Paludan, a Swedish-Danish activist who has already been convicted for racist abuse.

Paludan also provoked rioting in Sweden last year when he went on a tour of the country and publicly burned copies of Islam’s holy book.

The January Quran burning also damaged Sweden’s relations with Turkey, which took particular offence that police had authorized the demonstration.

Ankara has blocked Sweden’s NATO bid because of what it perceives as Stockholm's failure to crack down on Kurdish groups it views as “terrorists.”

“It is clear that those who caused such a disgrace in front of our country’ embassy can no longer expect any benevolence from us regarding their application for NATO membership,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in January.

Police then refused to authorize two other requests, one by a private individual and one by an organization, to hold Quran burnings outside the Turkish and Iraqi embassies in Stockholm in February.

Police argued that the January protest had made Sweden “a higher priority target for attacks.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Italy pays tribute to Turkish, Syrian quake victims on anniversary of L'Aquila earthquake

Baris Seckin



Italy paid tribute Thursday to Turkish and Syrian quake victims on the 14th anniversary of its L'Aquila earthquake, which killed 309 people.

As every year, commemoration programs were held for those who lost their lives on April 6, 2009 at 3.32 a.m. when a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck.

Organized by L'Aquila Municipality, a march with torches was held in the city center in memory of those who died.

The torch in L'Aquila Earthquake Park, the destination point of the march, was lit by Turkish researcher CansuSonmez and Syrian RashaYouseff, who are continuing their education in Italy, to give a message of solidarity to those affected by Türkiye's Kahramanmaras-centered twin earthquakes on Feb. 6.

Afterwards, a moment of silence was held for those who lost their lives in the earthquake.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Netherlands to deploy 160 soldiers for peacekeeping mission in Bosnia

Talha Ozturk 


The Netherlands will send 160 soldiers to the European Union Peacekeeping Mission (EUFOR Althea) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the coutry'sDefense Ministry said on Thursday.

A joint statement from Defense and Foreign Ministry said that 150 soldiers will be sent to EUFOR Althea in October, and 10 soldiers will go to gather intelligence in the region in June.

The soldiers are expected to serve for a year, while the intelligence officers will stay for two years.

The decision came from the Council of Ministers under the pretext that Russia and China are attempting to increase their influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The statement added that the importance of EUFOR Althea has increased manifold since the beginning of the war in Ukraine.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Arab World


Casablanca’s Ramadan evenings are spiritual, convivial, cultural


April 07, 2023

CASABLANCA: In Hay Sedri, a popular district of Casablanca, Morocco, the streets are empty, the shops are closed and there is a perceptible calmness in the air. It is 7 p.m. and the residents of the neighborhood are having iftar after over 15 hours of fasting.

Said, who is 28, has just finished eating and lies down for a few minutes so that his body can adapt to the shock of breaking the fast. He has not eaten much because an important ritual still awaits him.

At 8:30 p.m., Said joins his childhood friend Mehdi in front of his building. They have already done their ablutions and are now heading to the mosque to perform Isha, the last prayer of the day. “For at least 10 years we have been walking this same route every evening during the month of Ramadan, to perform the prayer and Taraweeh,” Said tells Arab News in French.

“During the holy month, we try to get as close as possible to our faith,” says Mehdi. “It’s an opportunity for us to start a new page and try to adopt healthier habits in our lives,” he continues.

During the month of Ramadan, Isha prayer is followed by Taraweeh prayers, which are not obligatory but highly recommended. Specific to the holy month, they consist of eight additional prayer units in addition to the four of Isha.

While many people only do two or four extra units of prayer, Said and Mehdi strive to do all eight. “We are still young and we won’t have anything important to do after the prayer, so we prefer to do the whole Taraweeh,” says Said.

In Morocco, as in other Muslim countries, Taraweeh prayers are very popular with the faithful. They can be performed alone or in groups, at home or at the mosque. In Casablanca, the mosques are often full and bursting, like the Hassan II mosque, which has thousands of worshippers every evening, many of whom line up on its esplanade. The mosque’s enclosure and esplanade can accommodate up to 100,000 worshippers.

Spirituality is omnipresent during the holy month in Casablanca and the nights are long. People often sleep late because the last meal of the evening must be eaten before 4:50 a.m. Some prefer to sleep and then wake up to eat while others prefer to go out and enjoy the unique atmosphere of the holy month.

For Hanane, Ramadan evenings also rhyme with culture. “There is an explosion of cultural events during the month of Ramadan,” the 25-year-old Casablanca native, who works in events management, tells Arab News in French. “For me, it’s an opportunity to quench my thirst for culture and to experience new things,” she says.

The latest event was a musical evening in a lounge in Ain Diab (Corniche de Casablanca) dedicated to Tarab Al-Andalussi, in other words Arab-Andalusian music, a great chapter in Moroccan cultural heritage. “The atmosphere was almost mystical, I’ve never been much of a fan of this style of music, but when you attend, the atmosphere sucks you into a soothing whirlwind,” she says.

Hanane explains that during the holy month, the people of Casablanca have a wide choice of cultural activities. There are evenings dedicated to sacred music and reading of the Qur’an or theological discussions. Other events include heritage tours organized by the Casablanca Memory Association.

Source: Arab News

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UAE’s Al-NeyadiTo Be First Ever Arab Astronaut To Perform Spacewalk

06 April ,2023

United Arab Emirates' (UAE) astronaut Sultan al-Neyadi will become the first Arab astronaut to perform a spacewalk on April 28, state news agency WAM reported on Thursday.

Al-Neyadi, who is currently at the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the longest Arab space mission to date, will use the space walk – when an astronaut leaves a space ship or space station – to help with maintenance and updates to the ISS, according to WAM.

The spacewalk – which al-Neyadi will do with NASA Flight Engineer Stephen Bowen - is set to last about six and a half hours.

Astronauts selected for ISS spacewalks “undergo a rigorous selection process” and need to be able to demonstrate “exceptional proficiency” in various fields, such as engineering, robotics, and life support systems, WAM said.

Al-Neyadi trained for more than 55 hours at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas in preparation for spacewalks.

Al-Neyadi blasted into space on March 2 from the United States’ NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida as part of a six-month mission which will carry out experiments ranging from human cell growth in space to controlling combustible materials in microgravity.

Source: Al Arabiya

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UNIFIL urges restraint after Israel intercepts rockets fired from southern Lebanon

06 April ,2023

Rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israel on Thursday and answered by a burst of cross-border artillery fire, officials said, amid escalating tension following Israeli police raids on the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

The Israeli military said it had intercepted at least one rocket as sirens sounded in northern towns near the border, while two Lebanese security sources said there had been at least two attacks, with multiple rockets.

Israeli news outlets reported that around 30 rockets were launched from Lebanon, half of which were intercepted, while five landed in Israeli areas. Israel’s ambulance service said one man had sustained minor shrapnel injuries.

There was no claim of responsibility but three security sources said Palestinian factions in Lebanon, not the heavily armed Lebanese Hezbollah group, were believed to be responsible for the rocket fire. Israel fought a month-long war with Hezbollah in 2006.

Thursday’s incident came as Ismail Haniyeh, head of the group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, was visiting Lebanon. There was no immediate comment from the Lebanese military or Hezbollah.

In a written statement, the United Nations peacekeeping force in south Lebanon (UNIFIL) described the situation as “extremely serious” and urged restraint. It said UNIFIL chief Aroldo Lazaro was in contact with authorities on both sides.

Israeli broadcasters showed large plumes of smoke rising above the northern town of Shlomi and public sector broadcaster Kan said the Israel Airports Authority closed northern air space, including over Haifa, to civilian flights.

“I’m shaking, I’m in shock,” LiatBerkovitch Kravitz told Israel’s Channel 12 news, speaking from a fortified room in her house in Shlomi. “I heard a boom, it was as if it exploded inside the room.”

Shortly after the second salvo of rocket fire, the Lebanese security sources said artillery fire hit southern Lebanon and residents said they heard loud blasts but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

The incident came at a time of heightened tension following Israeli police raids on the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan this week.

With Israel also celebrating the Passover holiday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to hold a security assessment following the rocket fire from Lebanon and summon the security cabinet, his office said.

“No one should test us, we will take all necessary measures to defend our country and people,” Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said on Twitter.

Israel has hit a number of targets in Gaza after rockets were fired from the blockaded southern coastal strip in the wake of the al-Aqsa raids, which were condemned across the Arab world.

Speaking from Gaza, Mohammad Al-Braim, spokesman for the Palestinian Popular Resistance Committees, praised the rocket strikes from Lebanon, which he linked to the al-Aqsa incidents but did not claim responsibility.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Presence of oil executives at Baghdad talks a sign of Iraq-Kurdistan progress

06 April ,2023

When Iraqi and Kurdish officials met in Baghdad this week over a long-running dispute that has halted oil exports from Iraq’s semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, insiders said the presence of international executives underscored a new resolve.

In the room on Monday was Russell Hardy, head of the world largest oil trader Vitol, alongside executives from trading houses Petraco and Energopole, and representatives from US-based producer HKN Energy and Kurdish oil company KAR Group, three sources familiar with the talks told Reuters.

The executives, whose companies play a major role in Kurdish oil production and development, were there to offer ideas on the best way forward, the sources said, after disruption to Iraq’s northern exports via Turkey cut 0.5 percent of global supply and sent prices surging.

Iraq, OPEC’s second largest oil producer, exports the bulk of its oil through its southern Gulf port of Basra.

An Iraqi oil ministry official with knowledge of the meeting said the aim was to reassure the companies that their deals with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) were secure.

Baghdad and the KRG signed a temporary agreement on Tuesday to restart northern oil exports as part of efforts to end decades of political and economic disputes.

The development was seen as a major breakthrough, showing Baghdad and Erbil are determined to sort out disputes about oil, debts and ultimately their political and economic differences.

“Everyone is trying to compromise. It is massive for internal Iraqi politics. The federal government wants to keep the whole country together after years of problems,” a source familiar with the talks said.

Monday’s meeting between KRG and Iraqi officials, alongside the international executives, struck a similar tone, aiming to

build confidence among all sides, two sources said.

KAR confirmed it was at the meeting, but declined further comment. Petraco confirmed its presence at talks in Baghdad and said it was currently awaiting further developments. Vitol declined to comment. HKN Energy, Energopole and the KRG did not respond to requests for comment.

Matters had come to a head on March 25, when Turkey stopped pumping about 450,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Iraqi crude through a pipeline from the Fish-Khabur border area to its Ceyhan port after Iraq won an arbitration case.

Baghdad said Turkey had violated an agreement by allowing the KRG to export oil to Ceyhan without its consent, one of several points of contention between the federal government and the Kurdish authorities in Erbil, which in 2017 made a bid for independence that sparked a brief conflict.

Any resolution to the oil dispute would boost the international industry’s confidence in Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani’s cabinet, which took office in October, ending a year of political deadlock in Baghdad.

In a bid to boost Iraqi oil output, politicians close to al-Sudani and key energy officials say he wants to restore confidence among foreign investors and show Baghdad’s readiness to cooperate with international oil firms, including attending all major energy events in person.

Further talks

Attendees at Monday’s meeting agreed to hold further talks on how to adjust contracts with the KRG in a way that would not violate the exports and marketing mechanisms of Iraq’s state-owned marketer SOMO, the oil ministry source said.

They also discussed the pricing and destination of KRG crude, one source said.

Pipeline flows from northern Iraq have yet to resume as Iraq awaits a response from Turkey, two sources told Reuters on Thursday, but once they do the temporary agreement states SOMO will have the authority to market and export KRG oil, two Iraqi officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Revenues will be deposited in an account under KRG control at the Iraqi central bank, but Baghdad will have access, the

sources said.

“A major difference from the past is that SOMO’s involvement will make Kurdish crude fully marketable,” a source familiar with the talks said.

Kurdistan previously relied on traders placing crude with the small number of refiners which were prepared to take the risk of potential legal battles with Iraq’s central government.

Further complicating the picture, Kurdistan has borrowed billions of dollars from trading houses and oil producers, including to build a new pipeline to Turkey, pledging to repay debts from future oil exports.

So when Kurdistan’s oil exports were suspended last month as a result of the arbitration court ruling, it also halted repayments of $6 billion worth of debts to trading houses, including Vitol, Petraco, and Energopole.

Baghdad has long refused to acknowledge the existence of Erbil’s debts, amassed after budget transfers stopped.

As part of their efforts to resolve broader differences, Baghdad and the KRG have outlined a framework for a draft budget law, with talks to begin on a new federal oil and gas law, Kurdistan’s Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said on Tuesday.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Hamas blamed for multiple rockets fired from Lebanon into northern Israel

April 06, 2023

TEL AVIV: More than 30 rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israel on Thursday, Israel’s military said, amid escalating tension following Israeli police raids on the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem this week.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to hold a meeting of the security cabinet to decide a response to the attack, the biggest rocket attack on Israel from Lebanon since 2006, when Israel fought a war with the heavily armed Lebanese Hezbollah.

An Israeli military spokesman blamed the Hamas group for the rocket attacks on Thursday, and also said that Israel held the Lebanese government responsible for rockets launched from its territory.

“The party that fired the rockets from Lebanon is Hamas in Lebanon,” AvichayAdraee said in a tweet.

“No one should test us, we will take all necessary measures to defend our country and people,” Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said on Twitter.

The Israeli military said 34 rockets were launched from Lebanon, of which 25 were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome, anti-missile system. Israel’s ambulance service said one man had sustained minor shrapnel injuries.

The incident came as Israel faced worldwide pressure following police raids on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which this year coincides with the Jewish Passover holiday that started on Wednesday evening.

There was no claim of responsibility but an Israeli military official also said that Israel was working on the assumption that the attack was Palestinian-linked.

Three non-Israeli security sources also said Palestinian factions in Lebanon, not Hezbollah, were believed to be responsible for the rocket fire although it was widely assumed that Hezbollah would have to have given its permission.

“It’s not Hezbollah shooting, but it’s hard to believe that Hezbollah didn’t know about it,” Tamir Hayman, a former head of Israeli military intelligence said on Twitter.

Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, was visiting Lebanon but there was no immediate comment from the group. There was also no immediate comment from the Lebanese military or Hezbollah.

TV footage showed large plumes of smoke rising above the northern Israeli border town of Shlomi with wrecked cars in the streets. Public sector broadcaster Kan said the Israel Airports Authority closed the northern airports in Haifa and Rish Pina.

“I’m shaking, I’m in shock,” LiatBerkovitch Kravitz told Israel’s Channel 12 news, speaking from a fortified room in her house in Shlomi. “I heard a boom, it was as if it exploded inside the room.”


In a written statement, the United Nations peacekeeping force in south Lebanon (UNIFIL) described the situation as “extremely serious” and urged restraint. It said UNIFIL chief Aroldo Lazaro was in contact with authorities on both sides.

Amid fears that the confrontation could spiral further, following a year of escalating Israeli-Palestinian violence, the United Nations Security Council held a closed door meeting to discuss the crisis.

The US Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, Robert Wood, described the situation in the Middle East as serious and said tensions should not be exacerbated.

“It’s going to be important for everyone to do what they can to calm tensions,” he told reporters on the way into the Security Council meeting.

The rocket fire adds a further complication for the religious-nationalist government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who before the violence this week at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque had faced mass protests against his proposals to rein in the Supreme Court.

Netanyahu last week delayed the bitterly contested plans for a judicial overhaul.

Thursday’s rocket attack followed strikes from Gaza where Palestinian militants fired a number of rocket salvoes toward Israel following the police operation at the Al-Aqsa mosque, a site which is also holy to Jews, who know it as the Temple Mount.

In response, Israel has hit targets in Gaza linked to Hamas, which it holds responsible for any attacks from the blockaded coastal strip.

Speaking from Gaza, Mohammad Al-Braim, spokesman for the Palestinian Popular Resistance Committees, praised the rocket strikes from Lebanon, which he linked to the Al-Aqsa incidents, but did not claim responsibility.

Source: Arab News

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Ramadan nights at Bujairi Terrace offer poetry, food, shopping



April 07, 2023

RIYADH: Bujairi Terrace and At-Turaif in Diriyah is offering visitors a curated Michelin-star gastronomic experience and a variety of interactive activities and events during Ramadan.

Diriyah opened its premium dining district Bujairi Terrace on Dec. 4 last year with exceptional views of the recently-renovated UNESCO World Heritage Site At-Turaif.

Bujairi Terrace is inspired by Najdi architecture to evoke images of the past. Guests are pampered with over 20 restaurants, including four Michelin-star restaurants — Chez Bruno, Tatel, Hakkasan and Long Chim — in addition to other fine dining in Saudi and international cuisine.

ShammaAlsubaie, a retired history teacher, told Arab News that Bujairi Terrace has great significance in the region. “Bujairi is considered one of the most beautiful places in Diriyah, and one of the fastest growing and splendid areas in Riyadh. It is the magnificence of the design of the place and its historical importance,” said Alsubaie.

She added: “If I would describe Bujairi in a sentence, I would say it is the Jewel of Wadi Hanifa.”

Hessah Abdulaziz, a former kindergarten teacher, said: “The first time I went to Bujairi was back in 2011. I recently visited Bujairi and I saw a great difference. It is one of my favorite places in Diriyah in Riyadh.”

“The presence of international restaurants and cafes in a historical place with stunning views of distinctive heritage sites is not something you can miss, and I have been going over there almost every month,” said Abdulaziz. 

Maiz is a contemporary Saudi restaurant inspired by food from 13 regions of the Kingdom. Their Ramadan set menu offers dishes with authentic Saudi flavors like lamb with rice and jareesh.

Noor Alawami, a senior marketing specialist, visited Bujairi Terrace prior to Ramadan and dined in Maiz with some friends. “I loved the way the restaurants are laid out and the way the place is set up. The traditional vibe of the place and children running and playing, as well as the great hospitality of the staff there. The place is walkable and parking is very easy. I tried Maiz, which has authentic Saudi food and really liked it.”

“I want to go to Al-Turaif district next time I visit. I would go after sundown or at night because there is a section with beautiful light fixtures that would look good at night.”

After indulging in their cuisine of choice, guests can enjoy various activities ranging from themed storytelling, poetry readings, workshops and shopping.  The Diriyah Coffee workshop will teach guests how to recreate the traditional Al-Arid coffee and dates and hospitality methods.

One of the events, Discover the Ramadan Sky, will have an educational and spiritual program where visitors can learn about the planetary movements and their association with the times of iftar and imsak during Ramadan. Another event, titled Recreate Your Family Tree, also offers stories of kinship and family connections.

Visitors who arrive before sundown will be invited to gather as a community to break their fast with coffee, water and dates at the At-Turaif Iftar Coffee and Date Offering. Taraweeh prayers are also being held at At-Turaif Mosque.

One of the events, Hidden Heritage Trail of At-Turaif, especially created for Ramadan 2023, will give visitors the chance to discover lesser-known places within the World Heritage Site.

The second installment of the At-Turaif Retrospective (Descendants), a docuseries of short films, is an immersive experience that dives into the history, heritage and culture of the site and its impact on the Kingdom.

Source: Arab News

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Egypt nominates former tourism and antiquities minister for UNESCO director general post


April 06, 2023

CAIRO: Egypt has announced the nomination of Khaled El-Anany, the former minister of tourism and antiquities, for the position of director general of UNESCO.

The election is scheduled to be held at the organization’s headquarters in Paris in 2025 and the tenure would last until 2029.

Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly indicated that the choice of El-Anany to run was based on his qualifications and his tangible academic and executive achievements in many fields.

He highlighted El-Anany’s valuable contributions in the fields of science, education, and culture, which are the result of more than 30 years of experience in university teaching, scientific research, Egyptology, antiquities, heritage, museums, and tourism.

The prime minister has issued directives to all relevant ministries to support El-Anany, while the nominee expressed his gratitude for the opportunity.

El-Anany, who featured in a joint press conference with Madbouly, said: “I realize the enormity of this nomination, especially in light of the responsibilities that lie with UNESCO at this stage in human history, which is facing unprecedented challenges.

“There are still tens of millions of children in the world who do not receive education, and the tangible and intangible cultural heritage and natural heritage suffer from many challenges, some of which are old and some of which are modern, such as climate change.”

El-Anany added that the world was in dire need of dialogue and understanding, and needed a climate of tolerance, the acceptance of differences, the rejection of violence, hatred, intolerance, and discrimination, and the promotion of cultural diversity.

He said: “I am honored to put my academic and executive experience in the service of the organization and its noble goals.”

Madbouly said that El-Anany’s nomination resulted from a decision by the National Committee.

El-Anany was the minister of tourism and antiquities from 2019 to 2022. He was the first minister to hold both portfolios following their separation in 1966.

He worked as a professor of Egyptology at the Faculty of Tourism and Hotel Management at Helwan University.

He received the Order of the Rising Sun from Japan in 2021 and the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland in the previous year.

Relations between Egypt and UNESCO extend to more than 75 years, and the country was among the first to ratify its formation.

Source: Arab News

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Drone used in bid to smuggle drugs into Lebanon’s biggest prison


April 06, 2023

BEIRUT: Security forces in Lebanon have foiled an attempt to use a drone to smuggle drugs into the central Roumieh Prison.

The administration of the largest prison in Lebanon spotted the drone hovering over the convicts’ ward several days ago. The General Directorate of the Internal Security Forces said that a transparent bag containing drugs and a cell phone had been taped to the drone.

After the drone was seized, it was found to contain 74 narcotic pills, a white substance, a cell phone containing a SIM card, a USB flash drive and a pair of earbuds, the ISF said.

Many attempts have been made to smuggle prohibited substances into Lebanese prisons, especially Roumieh. A week ago, the mother of an inmate was caught trying to smuggle narcotic pills into the facility she had hidden inside her body, the ISF said.

Lawyer Rabih Qais, who is familiar with prison affairs, told Arab News: “There are constant attempts to smuggle prohibited substances into prisons, and the means are always changing.

“Organized crime prevails in prisons, like all prisons in the world. In Roumieh, there are gangs that sell drugs inside the prison and those include the most dangerous criminals.”

Qais added: “Prison security guards are doing their best to thwart attempts to smuggle contraband into Roumieh, although they work under extremely difficult conditions and their salaries have become worthless.”

Lebanese prisons are overcrowded with inmates facing charges of murder, drug use and trafficking, and theft.

Prison overcrowding in Lebanon now exceeds 380 percent. About 80 percent of the prison population is being held without trial. Due to the overcrowding, new detainees are often kept in police stations that fail to meet prison standards.

A judicial source told Arab News that there are no beds for detainees in police stations, and that no food or medical care are provided.

“About 45 percent of inmates and detainees are of Syrian nationality,” the source added.

There are more than 9,000 prisoners in Lebanon, distributed across 25 prisons and 229 police stations.

Roumieh, which was built in 1972 to accommodate 1,200 prisoners, now houses more than 4,000 inmates.

Some cells designed to hold up to five inmates are housing more than 10 people, who take turns to sleep because of the lack of room, some released prisoners have reported.

Caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi, a former judge, said in January that the country’s economic crisis is affecting the ability of authorities to employ security guards around the clock in prisons, as well as maintain consistent power and food supplies, and medical care.

“We have to secure all these things for the prisons, so we cannot allow the electricity to go out or food to run out. The Ministry of Interior bears this burden although it is not its duty to secure such needs,” Mawlawi said.

In mid-March, food vendors said that they would stop delivering to prisons from April 4 in protest against the prisons’ failure to make up for price differences resulting from currency depreciation.

The Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Finance rushed to address the emerging crisis in late March, as the head of the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee, MP Michel Moussa, announced the taking of “several treasury advances to secure dues for companies that provide foodstuffs to prisons.”

Meanwhile, a seven-month strike by judges over wage deflation has undermined hopes of alleviating overcrowding in prisons.

Human rights associations have reported “the most horrific forms of neglect and grievance.”

Worsening conditions have led to the death of 33 inmates in the past year alone, while serious illnesses including cholera are rife across the prison system.

Recent video footage leaked from inside Roumieh showed a number of inmates threatening the judiciary with mass suicide, demanding that they be tried.

The inmates denounced the “injustice” of Public Prosecutor Judge Ghassan Oueidat’s decision to release those involved in the Beirut port explosion in 2020, while others have been detained for years without trial.

Source: Arab News

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Southeast Asia


Indonesia, Malaysia Urges UN Action On Al-Aqsa Mosque Raid

06 Apr , 2023

Indonesia and Malaysia have joined other Muslim nations in demanding United Nations action after Israeli security forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

The incident occurred on Wednesday and resulted in the injury of at least 12 Palestinians, with hundreds more detained by Israeli police.

Footage shared on social media showed Israeli officers assaulting and pushing worshippers out of the compound, preventing them from praying.

The attack has sparked widespread condemnation from the Arab and Muslim world, with Malaysia being among the latest to react on Thursday.

The Malaysian government issued a statement condemning the Israeli violence and called for international action to protect the rights of Palestinians.

Malaysia's Foreign Ministry also expressed its concern about the incident, saying that the use of force against worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan is unacceptable.

Indonesia has also called on the UN Security Council to take action and protect the rights of Palestinians.

In a statement, the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its deep concern about the Israeli attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and called on Israel to respect the sanctity of religious sites and refrain from using excessive force against worshippers.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque is one of the most important sites in Islam, located in the Old City of Jerusalem, which is considered a holy site for both Muslims and Jews.

The site has been a source of tension between Israelis and Palestinians for decades, with clashes often occurring between the two groups.

The recent incident has once again highlighted the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, with Muslim nations calling for an end to Israeli aggression and for the rights of Palestinians to be respected.

UN has been urged to take swift action to address the situation and ensure that incidents like this do not occur in the future.

“The international community must demand the Israeli regime to immediately stop any provocative acts in the interest of peace and stability,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

“Malaysia calls upon the international community, in particular the UN Security Council, to hold the Israeli regime accountable and responsible for the heinous crimes, and for them to release immediately all Palestinian detainees.”

Neighboring Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, has also urged the UN and international community “to immediately take concrete steps to stop and end the various violations committed by Israel against Al-Aqsa.”

The incident “has really hurt the feelings of Muslims around the world, was a real violation of the sanctity of Al-Aqsa, and will further escalate conflict and violence,” Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Source: BolNews

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Tension between Malaysia's monarchy, PAS reflects the rapidly changing dynamics in politics

Leslie Lopez

07 Apr 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: A little-discussed test of wills that may be playing out between two of Malaysia’s most authoritative religious institutions is set to determine the direction Islam will take in shaping the country’s political landscape.

On one end are the sultans, whose revered status as custodians of Islam as enshrined in the Federal Constitution has helped reinforce the special status of the dominant Malay community in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country. On the other end is Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), which appears to be insisting on having a greater say over matters related to religion, after it emerged with the most seats in the lower house following the November 2022 general election.

In recent weeks, both sides have taken divergent positions after PAS leaders defied decrees issued by four of the nine hereditary rulers prohibiting the use of mosques to spread political messages.

On Wednesday (Apr 5), Malaysia's King Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah reminded Muslims to safeguard the institution of mosques from becoming a political arena for any party. "The harmony of the mosque institution is safeguarded by us all, Muslims, not just the leaders but the congregation of the mosque," he was reported as saying in local media.


Leading the agitation against the royal households is PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, a right-wing cleric who resides in the east coast Terengganu state under PAS.

After Terengganu’s Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin issued a decree through the state’s religious council, banning the spread of political messages and activities at Muslim places of worship, Abdul Hadi appeared at the pulpit several days later to deliver his weekly sermon after Friday midday prayers at the Rusila mosque in the town of Marang, where he is also the elected parliamentary representative.

In Terengganu, political leaders and activists are not allowed to lead and deliver Friday sermons in mosques as well as deliver religious talks without the state religious council's permission.

The bulk of Abdul Hadi’s sermon early last month was not political in nature. However, the PAS leader mentioned how "Allah has shown us in all aspects (of life) on how to (do things) ...  and (taught us) how to govern a country".

Last week, his son Muhammad Khalil, took Abdul Hadi’s place at the Rusila mosque in another apparent contravention of the ruler’s diktat.

There have been no other reports of PAS leaders flouting the rules in Selangor, Perak and Johor, where similar decrees have been issued. There has also been no response from the royal households or the Malaysian authorities over the actions of the PAS leaders.

There is, however, strong speculation that the country’s sultans could convene a special rulers' conference after the fasting month of Ramadan to discuss their growing concerns over the growing trend on the use of religion by hardline Islamic clerics in politics.

Police reports have already been lodged against Abdul Hadi, who also served as Terengganu’s chief minister between 1999 and 2004, by politicians from Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition for defying the royal decree over bringing politics into mosques and prayer halls.

According to local media reports, Abdul Hadi has stated that it was a politician’s responsibility to deliver religious lectures in mosques and suraus, adding that he will continue to give ceramahs there “as usual”. "We have to understand … when we talk about Islam, we cannot separate politics from religion,” he reportedly said.


The tensions between the royal households and PAS reflect the rapidly changing dynamics in Malaysian politics.

Malaysia’s sultans - who serve as titular heads in the nine of Malaysia’s 13 states and observe a unique rotating system where they chose a king from among themselves to reign for five years - were always intended to play a ceremonial role in the country’s constitutional monarchy. But the political chaos since the 2018 general election that saw three government changes before the national polls last November set the stage for the monarchy to play a more direct role as peacemaker and final arbiter.

The 15th General Election (GE15) also produced a hung parliament with no coalition securing a clear majority to form a government. The political impasse was resolved with the direct intervention of the king, paving the way for Anwar’s PH coalition, which secured support from other parties, such as the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and parties from the East Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah, to form a government.

It is not only the role of the monarchy that has changed. Attitudes among the country’s dominant Muslim Malay population, which account for more than 60 per cent of the country’s 33.6 million people, towards their once feudal culture and heritage have also undergone a deep upheaval over the last three decades, a period marked by a steady shift towards greater conservatism around Islam. This has benefited PAS politically.

The stance taken by PAS in its simmering tiff with the country’s royal households underscores the growing confidence among party leaders following the impressive electoral gains they secured in GE15.

The party alone won 49 parliamentary seats, more than double of what it used to win in previous polls over the last two decades. With the purely Malay-based PartiPribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), their coalition Perikatan Nasional (PN) currently controls 73 seats in the lower house.

All of this represents serious political challenges for Anwar and his largely multi-racial ruling coalition, which now appears to be locked in a two-party political system where the opposition is made up entirely of Malay nationalist and religious parties.

Any government action against PAS and its leaders would be construed as political persecution and could upset the delicate balance in an already fractured Malay community. But if the rulers take the lead in dealing with this issue, there will be further blurring of the lines of power between the politicians and the monarchy.


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PM breaks fast with academics, scholars, ulama and Islamic NGOs

06 Apr 2023

PUTRAJAYA, April 6 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Dr Wan Ismail today took time off from their busy schedule to break fast with academics, scholars, ulama and Islamic Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Seri Perdana, here today.

The breaking of fast ceremony was attended by about 1,000 guests, including Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, Education Minister FadhlinaSidek and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Dr Mohd Na’im Mokhtar.

The list of guests included staff from ministries and government agencies, including the Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of Education, Tabung Haji, Department of Islamic Development Malaysia and Islamic NGOs, including the Malaysia Indian Muslim Youth Movement.

The ceremony was also attended by 20 children from the RahomaDarul Fakir Malaysia Organisation orphanage in Kampung Datuk Keramat, Kuala Lumpur.


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King, Queen visit TanjungTokong Ramadan Bazaar

06-04- 2023

GEORGE TOWN: The Yang di-PertuanAgong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, and the Raja PermaisuriAgong, TunkuAzizah Aminah MaimunahIskandariah today visited the TanjungTokong Ramadan Bazaar here.

Their Majesties were greeted upon arrival at the bazaar by Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

Visitors to the bazaar were clearly excited by the presence of Al-Sultan Abdullah and TunkuAzizah and did not miss the opportunity to pose for photos.

During the hour-long visit, Their Majesties also bought some food for breaking of fast at the bazaar.

A nasi campur seller, Salmiah Md Noh, 55, said she was happy to meet the royal couple in person.

“Never have I imagined to be able to meet them up close,” she told reporters.

Salmiah who has been trading here for more than 30 years said she felt proud because Their Majesties also bought three dishes from her stall.

“The dishes chosen by Their Majesties are the spiced fried chicken, bamboo shoots in coconut milk and fried cabbage,“ she said.


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UN expert denounces attacks on Palestinians at Al-Aqsa Mosque




A UN expert on Thursday condemned the "violent incursions" by Israeli forces into the Haram Al-Sharif compound and the attacks on Palestinian worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

"As Palestinian Muslims gathered for Ramadan prayers exercising their right to worship in Al-Aqsa Mosque, Israeli authorities used blatantly excessive and unjustified force against them," said Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Noting that 31 Palestinians were reportedly injured inside and immediately outside the compound, Albanese said that paramedics were allegedly prevented from providing medical treatment to the wounded.

Initial reports state that Israeli forces violently entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque, shot sponge-tipped bullets, deployed tear gas and stun grenades, and indiscriminately beat Muslim worshipers, including women and the elderly, with batons and rifle butts, she said and added that at least 450 Palestinian men were reportedly detained.

Underlining it is a violation of the Status Quo Agreement, she said: "The well-known desire of Israeli settlers to either destroy the mosque or forcibly convert all or part of the compound into a synagogue, as happened to the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, is a source of deep anxiety among Palestinians."

The special rapporteur noted that similar violence also took place during Ramadan in 2021 and 2022.

"These actions have led to a spiralling situation of rocket fire into Israel and missiles launched into Gaza, endangering civilians on both sides of the Green Line," Albanese said. "I am alarmed by the escalation of violence, particularly because of the further devastation it will bring to Palestinians in Gaza, who have been trapped by an inescapable siege since 2007."

She called on the international community to step up efforts to hold the occupying power accountable for its "unacceptable" behaviour in the occupied territory before the situation spirals further out of control.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Iranian FM: Israeli Authorities Showing Confused for Internal Crisis


"The sacrilege and night raid by military forces of the fake Zionist regime against worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque brought about painful scenes, which are the aftermath of the behavior of those who claim that they are advocating human rights, while they close their eyes when it comes to crimes committed by the Zionist terrorists," Amir Abdollahian twitted on Thursday.

"The Zionists are bewildered by the wave of convergence in the Islamic world as well as the outlook of the internal collapse of the regime," the senior diplomat added.

Israeli police raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for a second consecutive night on Wednesday, firing stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian worshippers.

It came just hours after heavily armed Israeli police attacked and arrested hundreds of Palestinian worshippers, firing tear gas and stun grenades into the Qibli prayer hall, where hundreds of men, women, elderly people and children were staying overnight to pray.

Israeli officers then beat worshipers with batons and riot guns, wounding many, before arresting them.

At least 400 Palestinians were arrested on Tuesday night, according to local officials.

Several countries have condemned the attack against Muslim worshipers and stressed that they are following up the developments with concern.

The UN Security Council will also hold an emergency session on Thursday to discuss the violence at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, according to diplomats.

The closed-door meeting was called at the request of the United Arab Emirates and China, diplomats told the Reuters news agency.

The Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, has condemned Israeli action at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, saying it is the “exclusive right of the Palestinian Muslims” to practise their religious traditions there.

“It is the right of the Palestinian Muslim worshippers to exercise their religious duties and prayers in this holy month of Ramadan and in any other time in this holy Aqsa Mosque,” Mansour continued, adding, “The Israeli occupying authority has no right whatsoever to tell people when to pray and when not to pray.”

The Arab League has also denounced the Zionist regime’s acts of aggression, warning that the raid risked “igniting a spiral of violence that threatens security and stability in the region and the world".

The body urged the UN Security Council to take prompt action to end such acts of aggression.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also condemned the violence, stressing that he was “shocked and appalled” by images of Israeli forces beating people at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran Raps UNSC's Inaction on Israeli Assault on Syria


Iravani made the remark in a Wednesday letter to the Unites Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the head of the Security Council, after two Iranian military advisers stationed in Syria were martyred in an Israeli air raid near the Damascus last week.

“Given the serious repercussions of such unlawful and criminal acts for regional and international peace and security, as well as the grave challenges to the rule of law, the United Nations Security Council must take decisive action to end these violations and hold the Israeli regime accountable for all its internationally wrongful acts,” he said.

“The Security Council must not be complicit in double standards and must carry out its mandate by explicitly condemning the Israeli regime’s ongoing violations of fundamental principles of international law and the United Nations Charter,” the diplomat added.

He reiterated that Iran will not hesitate to take the necessary measures, in accordance with international law and the UN Charter, to “respond decisively to any threat or attack posed by the Israeli regime and to defend its security and national interests, as well as to protect its people".

The Iranian ambassador noted that the Israeli regime’s terrorist attacks on the Syrian capital Damascus and its suburbs on March 31 led to the martyrdom of the two Iranian advisers and the tragic loss of innocent civilian lives as well as severe damage to the infrastructure of the Arab country.

He maintained that the heinous crime once again illustrated the Israeli regime’s ongoing aggression and flagrant violation of international law on Syrian territory.

He slammed the inaction of the international community, particularly the UN Security Council, in dealing with Israel’s constant acts of aggression against Syria, which has enabled the Tel Aviv regime to act with impunity.

“Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected, and actions that undermine them must not be tolerated,” Iravani continued.

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) military advisers Milad Heidari and MeqdadMehqani were recently martyred in an airstrike conducted by Israel on the suburbs of Damascus.

The Iranian officials have underscored that Tehran reserves the right to respond to state terrorism of the Israeli regime in due time and place following the martyrdom of the Iranian military advisers.

Since 2011, Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy, as a result of which Daesh (also known as ISIS or ISIL) and other terror groups emerged in the Arab country.

Iran maintains an advisory mission in the war-ravaged country at the request of Damascus, helping it in the face of foreign-backed terrorism. Several members of the IRGC have so far martyred in battle against terrorists in Syria.

Israel has been a key supporter of the terrorist groups during the war and has frequently targets military positions inside Syria, especially those of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah which has played a key role in helping the Syrian Army in its fight against foreign-backed terrorists.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Israel launches airstrikes on Gaza Strip after barrage of rockets fired from Lebanon

07 April ,2023

Israel launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip late Thursday after vowing to retaliate over a barrage of cross-border rockets fired from Lebanon, which it blamed on Palestinian groups.

The Israeli army “is currently striking in the Gaza Strip,” read an army statement shortly after AFP heard at least three explosions in the area at 11:15 pm (2115 GMT).

A Palestinian security source said the strikes had hit several Hamas training sites.

Further strikes rang out half an hour later, and aircraft could be heard flying overhead.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Israel’s enemies would “pay the price” after 34 rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israeli territory earlier in the day.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Palestinians will respond to Israel al-Aqsa ‘aggression’: Hamas

07 April ,2023

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said Thursday Palestinians “will not sit with their arms crossed” in the face of Israeli “aggression” against the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

He was speaking in Beirut after Israel blamed Palestinian militants for firing a barrage of rockets from Lebanon at northern Israel.

Haniyeh, who arrived in the Lebanese capital a day earlier, met on Thursday the heads of other Palestinian organizations as Israel threatened a military response to the rocket fire.

“Our Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance groups will not sit idly by” in the face of Israel’s “savage aggression” against al-Aqsa, Haniyeh said in a statement after the meeting.

Israel accused Palestinian groups of firing 34 rockets from Lebanon on the Jewish Passover holiday, a day after clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians inside Islam’s third-holiest site.

The violence in Jerusalem was widely denounced by neighboring states and several Palestinian groups vowed they would respond.

In his statement, Haniyeh called on “all Palestinian organizations to unify their ranks and intensify their resistance against the Zionist occupation (Israel).”

Earlier, Israeli army spokesperson Lt. Colonel Richard Hecht said Palestinian groups were responsible for the rocket barrage.

“We know for sure it’s Palestinian fire,” he told reporters. “It could be Hamas, it could be [extremists], we are still trying to finalize but it wasn’t Hezbollah.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Hezbollah vows ‘solidarity’ with Palestinians after al-Aqsa clashes

06 April ,2023

Lebanon’s pro-Iranian armed movement Hezbollah said Thursday it would support “all measures” Palestinian groups may take against Israel after clashes rocked Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque.

“Hezbollah forcefully denounces the assault carried out by the Israeli occupation forces against the al-Aqsa Mosque compound and its attacks on the faithful,” Hezbollah said in a statement.

“Hezbollah proclaims its full solidarity with the Palestinian people and the resistance groups, and pledges that it will stand with them in all measures they take to protect worshippers and the al-Aqsa Mosque and to deter the enemy from continuing its attacks.”

Global concern has mounted after Israeli police clashed with Palestinians inside Islam’s third-holiest site, sparking an exchange of rockets and air strikes with militants in Gaza, with fears of further escalation.

Two more rockets were fired late Wednesday from Gaza towards Israel, and fresh altercations broke out at al-Aqsa Mosque as the Jewish Passover coincides with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Hezbollah, an Israeli arch foe, has close ties with the Islamist movement Hamas, which rules Gaza, and with the Islamic Jihad militant group, which is also based in the coastal enclave.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Houthis agree to restore UN-brokered truce, negotiate with opponents


April 06, 2023

AL-MUKALLA: The Houthis have agreed to restore a lapsed, UN-brokered ceasefire in Yemen for six months, discuss the exchange of all the prisoners they hold, and engage in direct negotiations with the Yemeni government, Yemeni government officials and local media said on Thursday.

In return, the Houthis will get salary payments for civil servants in areas they control and an easing of restrictions on Sanaa airport and Hodeidah port.

Saudi officials informed Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council in Riyadh that in addition to the truce and prisoner swap, the Houthis had agreed during direct talks to negotiate with the Yemeni government for six months, under the auspices of the UN, and discuss a two-year transitional period, two Yemeni government officials told Arab News.

The council, chaired by Rashad Al-Alimi, had convened in Riyadh to discuss how to respond to the latest peace proposals and met Saudi Defense Minister Prince Khaled bin Salman on Wednesday.

The two officials said council members would be prepared to engage in direct talks with the Houthis if it could result in a comprehensive peace agreement that ends the conflict. The council also asked for assurances the Houthis would adhere to the terms of the agreements.

In an unprecedented and surprising reversal, the Houthis, who have long rejected peace overtures, also agreed to halt attacks on oil infrastructure in government-controlled regions, open all highways in Yemen’s provinces, and end their siege of Taiz.

Based on their negotiations with Houthi representatives, Saudi officials have developed strategies for achieving a compromise between the warring sides that results in a peace agreement in Yemen.

“These are Saudi ideas for a UN-led initiative,” a Yemeni government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters, told Arab News.

“This is a lengthy peace plan centered on proclaiming a suspension of hostilities and all military activities, then establishing trust, then forming technical committees and opening all ports, then direct negotiation leading to state formation and a transitional period.”

The official added that the Saudis would deliver the Presidential Leadership Council’s response to the Houthis. A previous ceasefire deal broke down in October when the two sides failed to reach an agreement on an extension.

Al-Masdar Online, a Yemeni news site, reported that the Houthis have demanded that the Arab coalition leaves Yemen within a year of an agreement taking effect, and promised to allow the swift deployment of UN salvage teams to the Safer, a derelict oil storage vessel. It has been moored in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen since the conflict in the country began, with little or no maintenance, sparking growing fears of a devastating oil spill.

Yemeni analysts ascribed the surprising Houthi U-turn to the recent reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran, as well as the militia’s inability to achieve military gains on the ground.

“The Houthis are fearful about losing Iran’s assistance,” Ali Al-Fakih, the editor of Al-Masdar Online, told Arab News. “One of Iran’s commitments under its deal with Saudi Arabia is to halt its projects in the area and the Houthis are one of its arms.”

He added that another factor that had influenced the Houthi rush to peace was a desire to regroup and negotiate deals with regional powers after failing to defeat their opponents militarily.

Source: Arab News

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Iran's President Raeisi calls for OIC emergency meeting after Israel raid on al-Aqsa Mosque

06 April 2023

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raeisi has called for an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to discuss the status quo in the occupied Palestinian territories, where Israeli forces violently stormed al-Aqsa Mosque overnight, fired stun grenades and attacked Palestinian worshipers.

During a telephone conversation with his Indonesian counterpart Joko Widodo on Thursday, Raeisi demanded that the 57-member body convene an emergency meeting in order to arrive at a joint decision on how to defend the rights of innocent Palestinians and confront the Tel Aviv regime’s crimes and atrocities.

The Iranian president described Palestine as the beating heart of the Muslim world, stressing that “support for the rights of the Palestinian nation and fight against the Zionist regime constitute an underlying principle of the Muslim Ummah.”

He added, “The unity of the Muslim world remains a necessity so as to confront the aggression and crimes by the Zionist regime.”

The Iranian president noted that the Muslim world, as an influential bloc within global equations, needs more integration.

For that reason, Raeisi said, Iran welcomes any initiative aimed at enhancement of relations among Muslim countries.

Widodo, for his part, welcomed his Iranian counterpart’s call for an emergency meeting of the OIC on Palestine, hoping that the event could further promote ties among Muslim states.

The two presidents also discussed relations between Tehran and Jakarta, and underlined the need for further development of the ties.

Shortly after the call, the General Secretariat of the OIC said it will hold an emergency, open-ended meeting of the Executive Committee at the level of Permanent Representatives, on Saturday at the headquarters of the General Secretariat in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to discuss the incursions and attacks carried out by the Israeli occupation forces against al-Aqsa Mosque and worshipers.

On Wednesday, Israeli forces raided the holy site for the second time in a row and tried to evacuate Palestinian worshipers by firing stun grenades and rubber bullets. Worshipers threw objects at the Israeli troops in response.

According to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, at least six people were injured in the fresh flare-up.

The UN, Iran, Turkey and several other countries and bodies have expressed shock and concern about Israeli forces’ incursions into the mosque.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was “shocked and appalled” by images of Israeli security forces beating people at al-Aqsa Mosque, his spokesman said on Wednesday.

Stephane Dujarric said Guterres viewed images of the “violence and beating” within the holy site, and found it more distressing because it came “at a time of a calendar which is holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims that should be a time for peace and nonviolence.”

“Places of worship should only be used for peaceful religious observances,” he added.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian condemned the Israeli desecration of al-Aqsa Mosque, saying that the Israelis are confused by the wave of convergence in the Islamic world.

“The desecration of al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli forces and their night raid on worshipers of the holy site created painful scenes that are the result of the behavior of human rights advocates who turn a blind eye to Zionism’s crimes,” Amir-Abdollahian tweeted on Thursday.

“The Zionists are confused by the wave of convergence in the Muslim world and the prospect of internal collapse,” he added.

The Arab League called on the UN Security Council to intervene to halt Israeli “crimes” at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

In a statement issued following an emergency meeting in Cairo on Wednesday, the Arab League condemned Israeli assaults.

“These crimes escalated dangerously in the past days of Ramadan, and led to hundreds of injuries and arrests of worshipers, incursions and deliberate desecration of the sanctity of al-Aqsa Mosque by extremist Israeli officials and settlers under the protection of the occupation forces,” it said.

Source: Press TV

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Elections Must Be Held Simultaneously Across Pakistan, says Law Minister

By Fidel Rahmati

April 6, 2023

The Federal Law and Justice, Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar, advocated for simultaneous elections across the country, saying that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has the authority to organize elections under the constitution.

Tarar, who briefed the foreign media on the Supreme Court’s decision and the government’s position on it on Thursday in Islamabad, stated that the only way to resolve the current constitutional, political, and legal issues is to hold elections once and at the same time across the entire country to ensure transparency and fairness.

He asserted that the constitution stated that the ECP was charged with holding elections and that a framework was in place, meaning that the court decisions violated it.

The remarks by the Law and Justice Minster came after the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered provincial elections to go ahead, which has faced a constitutional crisis in the country. in addition, the Parliament rejected the order on the same day.

Meanwhile, the federal government appears determined to hold off and go along with the parliament, saying that according to the constitution, the government is determined to conduct elections simultaneously across the country.

According to the law minister, if elections are held in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as per the court’s orders and then again in October following the conclusion of the National Assembly’s and Sindh and Balochistan’s provincial assemblies’ terms of office, it will lead to yet another constitutional and political crisis.

“The ECP is an empowered and autonomous institution with complete authority over elections. It is the election commission vested with the duty of elections and to ensure the polls are conducted fairly,” Azam Tarar said.

“As per the constitution, there is a procedure for elections. Elections should be held simultaneously all over the country,” he said. The law minister said petitions regarding elections were sub judice in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.

“It is feared that the minority verdict of the Supreme Court would create a constitutional crisis. The federal cabinet has expressed reservations on the SC verdict as it believed that the verdict of the majority should not be converted into a decision of the minority,” he said.

On the other hand, on March 28, the National Assembly unanimously approved a resolution demanding the conduct of general elections simultaneously to all assemblies across the country to ensure political stability.

Source: Khaama Press

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Pakistan gets Saudi's approval for $2 billion funding to secure IMF bailout

Apr 6, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Cash-strapped Pakistan has received the nod for funding of up to $2 billion from Saudi Arabia, a move that will help the country secure the much-required bailout from the IMF, according to a media report on Thursday.

The International Monetary Fund has imposed the condition on Pakistan that it should secure $3 billion from other countries for the revival of its $6.5 billion bailout package.

The assistance from Riyadh comes at a crucial time as the IMF programme, signed in 2019, will expire on June 30, 2023, and under the set guidelines, the programme cannot be extended beyond the deadline, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.Last month, Pakistan received a rollover loan of $2 billion from its "all-weather" ally China.

According to the report, the finance ministry sources said the IMF was still insisting on its demand for a further increase in the interest rate according to inflation and opposing the annual subsidy of Rs 900 billion.

The Washington-based global lender was unwilling to budge from its demand for Pakistan to collect Rs 850 billion in terms of the petroleum development levy (PDL), the report said.

Pakistan, currently in the throes of a major economic crisis, is grappling with high external debt, a weak local currency and dwindling foreign exchange reserves, enough to shore up for barely one month's imports.

The IMF said the cash-starved country had a few more tasks before it could unlock a USD 6.5 billion loan to avoid a default, putting pressure on the government to secure assurances from countries that have promised financing support.

Esther Perez Ruiz, the IMF's resident representative for Pakistan, said a staff-level agreement would follow once the few remaining points were closed, the report added.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar is also said to meet the leadership of the UAE before leaving for the US on April 10 to attend the upcoming Annual Spring Meeting of the Bretton Wood Institutions (BWIs), known as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, from April 10 to 16.

Source: Times Of India

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NSC meeting called today to ‘revisit’ militancy threat

Syed Irfan Raza

April 7, 2023

ISLAMABAD: As a deadlock with the opposition and the top court over the issue of elections in May lingers on, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has summoned a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) on Friday (today) in an apparent bid to seek the support of the military leadership for a delay in polls on the pretext of security concerns.

Though there was no official word about the meeting of the committee that acts as the “principal decision-making body on national security matters”, sources confirmed to Dawn that the meeting chaired by PM Sharif would take place on Friday.

It will be attended by Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza, heads of the air force and the navy, and federal ministers for defence, finance, and information.

Insiders said that the federal government would once again ask the top brass for a briefing on potential threats from militants in case elections were held in Punjab on May 14 as per the Supreme Court’s order.

Imran says govt attempting to ‘pit armed forces directly’ against judiciary, people

A source said the military authorities had given a detailed briefing to the government that terrorist outfits have regrouped in tribal districts bordering Afghanistan due to which conditions were not conducive for electioneering.

Another source claimed that the option of “imposing an emergency” in the country could also be discussed in the meeting in light of the current circumstances. The emergency can be declared under Article 232 — which pertains to the proclamation of emergency on account of war and internal disturbance — of the Constitution for the maximum period of one year. However, a resolution passed by parliament is necessary to declare the emergency.

It may be noted that the incumbent government had also summoned an NSC meeting in April last year to rebut the ‘foreign conspiracy narrative’ peddled by PTI chief Imran Khan following his ouster from power as a result of the no-trust vote.

‘Pitting military against judiciary’

Meanwhile, Mr Khan criticised the government for summoning the NSC meeting and claimed that the government would “try and use security as [a] pretext for postponement of elections”. “This will pit armed forces directly against not just judiciary but also the nation,” the former premier said, echoing the same apprehensions he had expressed during his address on Wednesday.

“They brought in an unconstitutional bill on SC and an NA resolution against [the] judiciary,” the PTI chief said, adding that the PDM government wanted to run away from elections at any cost.

Separately, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry hoped that the National Security Committee would also let PM Sharif realise that the state institutions were standing tall to protect the Constitution. “The NSC proclamation tomorrow [Friday] will decide, which institution is standing with whom,” the PTI spokesperson replied to a question.

Source: Dawn

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Saudi Arabia gives financing pledge vital for reviving IMF deal: Aisha


April 7, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday said that Saudi Arabia had conveyed its commitment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for its bilateral financial support to Pakistan and hoped similar assurance from the United Arab Emirates or some other source would lead to the much-delayed staff-level agreement (SLA) with the Fund and unlock multilateral disbursements.

Responding to questions from journalists, Minister of State for Finance & Revenue Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha said Pakistan had received an indication from the IMF that Saudi Arabia had confirmed its support for Pakistan to help bridge the external financing gap that has been hampering the SLA for almost two months in completing 9th review of the $7bn Extended Fund Facility (EFF) in limbo since October last year.

According to some media reports, Saudi Arabia has committed to IMF that it would extend a $2 billion loan to help Pakistan meet its external financing needs, but there is no word from the official sources when will the pledged amount credited to the State Bank of Pakistan’s account.

Responding to another question, she said UAE’s support will play an important role in reaching SLA with IMF but Pakistan was also in contact with other friendly countries like Qatar, China and others to bridge the financing gap. She said no other option except the IMF programme was currently under consideration by the government as the Fund’s requirements and reforms were in the interest of the country in addressing domestic and external deficits.

Expects similar support from other countries will lead to staff-level agreement

She said IMF wanted to take Pakistan towards structural reforms which are in Pakistan’s interests. We have to live within our means whether fiscal or external account, she said and added that the country was fully committed to the IMF programme.

She said a Pakistani delegation would be participating in spring meetings of the World Bank and IMF in Washington starting early next week and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was part of the delegation but could stay back home because of domestic issues.

However, she did not have a chance to see the senior minister to know if any change to his itinerary might have happened

Dar meets US envoy

Separately, Mr Dar had a meeting with US Ambassador Donald Blome and discussed deep-rooted historic and durable bilateral relations on economic and trade fronts.

The minister briefed the envoy about the economic outlook of the country and the challenges being faced and the policy decisions being taken by the government to steer the economy towards a positive trajectory leading to economic stability and growth.

“The finance minister also informed the envoy on the progress in talks held with the IMF and reiterated the commitment of the government to complete the programme”, said an official statement which quoted Mr Blome showing confidence in the policies and programmes of the government for economic sustainability and socio-economic uplift of the masses and extended support to further promote bilateral economic, investment and trade relations.


Earlier, Dr Pasha assured the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue of completing the process for appointments of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and ZaraiTaraqiati Bank Ltd (ZTBL) presidents by end of the current fiscal year.

The appointment in NBP is pending since January 2022 and that of ZTBL is lying vacant for over six months as parliamentarians raised serious questions as to what was preventing the government from appointing presidents of the two state-run banks and members of the Competition Commission of Pakistan.

Source: Dawn

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Army chief vows to defend Pakistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity

Tariq Naqash

April 7, 2023

MUZAFFARABAD: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Asim Munir on Thursday renewed the determination of his institution for the defence of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity against all kinds of threats and continuity of support to the just cause of Kashmiris struggling for their right to self-determination.

“Pakistan Army will defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan against all kinds of threat and is determined to support [the] just cause of Kashmiris and seeks resolution of [the issue of] Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the United Nations resolutions,” the army chief said during his visit to forward areas along the Line of Control (LoC) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

It was his second visit to the heavily-militarised dividing line in the disputed Himalayan region of Jammu and Kashmir that has long been the scene of skirmishes and artillery duels with India.

The 740-kilometre-long LoC had long witnessed exchange of fire between the rival troops until Nov 2003, when the nuclear armed South Asian neighbours had agreed in a landmark decision to silence their guns across the dividing line.

Barring isolated incidents of violations, the agreement held for over a decade. But, afterwards, particularly after 2016, ceasefire violations became almost an ord­er of the day, causing frequent los­ses to civilian lives and properties.

In a welcome move in February 2021, Islamabad and New Delhi recommitted themselves to revive the spirit of the Nov 2003 understanding and ever since the LoC has been tranquil. Nevertheless, both sides are observing a high state of vigil, without any tangible cut in troop deployment.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the military’s media affairs wing, Gen Munir appreciated officers and men for “maintaining continued vigil, remarkable operational preparedness and high state of morale”

after he was given a detailed briefing on the situation along the LoC as well as the operational preparedness of the deployed formations.

In his interaction with officers and troops, Gen Munir emphasised upon them to extend all-out support to the local population, remain steadfast and discharge duties with utmost sincerity and devotion.

Source: Dawn

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PTI up in arms as Gandapur arrested from D.I. Khan

Muhammad Irfan Mughal

April 7, 2023

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Former federal minister and PTI central leader Ali Amin Gandapur was arrested after hours-long drama on Thursday evening outside the premises of the Peshawar High Court’s (PHC) Dera Ismail Khan bench.

A heavy police contingent headed by Dist­r­ict Police Officer (DPO) Abdur Rauf Qaisarani besieged the PHC building, where Mr Gandapur remained for several hours along with his supporting lawyers and associates.

Finally, Mr Gandapur came out to surrender and was taken into custody and transported in a prison van to an undisclosed location.

As he already obtained transit bail in multiple cases registered against him in Islam­abad, Punjab and Dera, it was not immediately clear in which case he has been arrested.

The DPO and other police officers remained tight-lipped and refused to offer any information to the media persons about the case details.

Besides, it wasn’t immediately clear whether the PTI leader would be kept in D.I. Khan or shifted to another city within or outside Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

PTI chief Imran Khan condemned Mr Gandapur’s arrest, regretting that a “complete law of the jungle prevails” in the country.

“PDM and handlers have a one-point agenda — that is to go after PTI workers and leadership,” Mr Khan tweeted. “It was decided pre-emptively to arrest Ali Amin Gandapur despite bail. But they will still be decimated in the elections InshaAllah.”

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Gandapur visited the sessions court to get pre-arrest bail in cases registered in D.I. Khan.

From there, along with his supporting lawyers, he went to the high court, where he had an iftar dinner while the police officials waited for him outside.

Even after the court’s official time had ended, Mr Gandapur remained there with his supporters and so it the police force, awaiting his exit from the court’s premises.

Mr Gandapur’s lawyer, Ghulam Moham­mad Sapal, said that his client had already been granted transit and protective bails in all known cases registered against him in different parts of the country.

He said the PHC’s D.I. Khan bench had granted the PTI leader protective bail on March 22 in a case registered in Bhakkar on the charges of firing at a police checkpoint.

He said that they had appeared in the sessions court to get pre-arrest bail in a case, adding that when they came out of the courtroom, the doors of the session court were closed and the police were there to arrest Mr Gandapur.

Mr Sapal said he immediately submitted an application in the high court’s Dera bench against the police action, requesting that the police should disclose which and how many cases had been registered against Mr Gandapur. He said only the DPO could answer this question, as he was the one who gave Mr Gandapur’s arrest order.

Before his arrest, Mr Gandapur told the media that the sessions court had granted him protective bail in all the pending cases, but the police were bent on arresting him “without any justification”.

“Imran Khan is fighting the nation’s war and the rulers are not tolerating this move. Government institutions want to harass me as I stand with Imran Khan,” he said.

He alleged that the police had raided his house and those of his associates “without arrest warrants”.

“I have faith in courts. That’s why I am appearing in the cases,” he said.

Source: Dawn

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PAC orders inquiry into breach of army chief, family’s personal data

Jamal Shahid

April 7, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The parliament’s Public Accounts Committee has sought a criminal case against Nadra officers who allegedly breached the data and accessed personal information of the army chief’s family.

The meeting on Thursday, chaired by MNA Noor Alam Khan, expressed serious concerns over media reports about the breach.

Those involved in this data theft should be behind bars, Mr Khan said, while adding that Military intelligence and ISI should be made part of the investigation in this matter. “It should be determined how the family’s personal information was stolen.”

The committee also summoned the Nadra chairman who was unable to attend the meeting due to his other engagements. This agitated Mr Khan who said the news was all over the media and he also saw a vlog in which two journalists discussed the issue.

Body seeks criminal case against Nadra officials involved in the matter

In a vlog earlier this week, two journalists, Azaz Syed and Umar Cheema claimed that in October 2022, the personal data and travel records of COAS Asim Munir’s family were allegedly accessed by Nadra officers in a bid to stop his appointment as the army chief.

The COAS was then serving as a lieutenant general, in line to be appointed to the top post.

In a statement three days ago, Nadra confirmed that the family’s personal information was accessed and stolen. The statement added that an investigation was ongoing to identify the officials involved in the breach.

The PAC meeting also took up the issue of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) audit. Mr Khan said the practice of giving plots to officials should be discontinued and inquired how many plots were given to judges, prime ministers, presidents, MNAs, senators bureaucrats and military officials.

The meeting also ordered a special audit of Islamabad Police’s welfare fund while discussing and reviewing audit objections related to the Ministry of Interior for the year 2021-22.

Source: Dawn

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South Asia


Afghanistan Seeking to Develop Relations with Russia: Muttaqi

By Fidel Rahmati

April 6, 2023

Afghanistan is seeking to develop its political and economic relations with Russia, acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said.

Russian Ambassador Dmitry Zhirnov on Wednesday met acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and discussed political, security and economic cooperation between Afghanistan and Russia, according to Hafiz Zia Ahmad, deputy spokesperson for the Ministery of Foreign Affairs.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Muttaqi added that the security situation in the country has improved and assured the Russian envoy that there would not be any security threat emanating from Afghanistan to the neighbouring countries.

FM Muttaqi said, “Afghanistan is interested in expanding its political and economic relations with Russia,” adding that the “security has improved in Afghanistan and fortunately, there is no serious security threat inside nor emanating from Afghanistan,” quoted Ahmad in a tweet.

On the other hand, Russian Ambassador Zhirnov emphasized the close relations and cooperation between the two countries.

“The Russian Ambassador Dmitry Zhirnov also stressed maintaining close ties between the two countries, expressing readiness for future visits by various government delegations between the two countries,” Ahmad said.

The meeting came after several remarks by the Russian delegations concerning the risks and security threat emanating from Afghanistan to the Central Asian countries or Moscow’s bloc.

Source: Khaama Press

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Bangladesh condemns Israel attack on Muslims praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque

April 6, 2023

Bangladesh, on Thursday, strongly condemned Israeli forces for a raid and attacks on innocent Muslim worshipers at the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque in Occupied East Jerusalem, Anadolu News Agency reports.

The Foreign Ministry, in a statement, condemned the attack, saying Israeli forces on Wednesday morning used violence against worshipers and civilians during prayers.

"Bangladesh expresses deep concerns over the violations of basic civil norms, international human rights laws and international accords by the Israeli forces," it said.

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents Islam's third-holiest site. Jews call the area the Temple Mount, saying it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Several extremist settler groups called for incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex to mark the week-long Jewish holiday of Passover, which began on 5 April.

Early Wednesday, the Israeli police attacked the Palestinians inside the Al-Qibli Prayer Hall and detained around 350 worshipers from inside the mosque.

According to the Commission for Palestinian Prisoners Affairs, Israeli police began to release the detainees on the condition that they are removed from Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem's Old City for a week.

"Bangladesh believes that the freedom of religion must be held as a fundamental human right and the right of practicing religious rituals, particularly in the holy month of Ramadan must be ensured," the Bangladeshi Ministry said.

The Muslim-majority South Asian country also called on the international community to take "sustained measures to end such repeated violence in the Occupied Territories against international norms."

Reiterating its support for the Palestinian people's inalienable right to a sovereign and independent homeland, Bangladesh, in the statement, reaffirmed its support for the establishment of an independent Palestinian State on the basis of a two-state solution.

Source: MiddleEastMonitor

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Taliban top spokesman Mujahid asked to work from Kandahar

6 Apr 2023

Zabihullah Mujahid, the main spokesman for Afghanistan’s Taliban administration, has been asked to work from the southern city of Kandahar in addition to the capital Kabul, a Taliban spokesperson has confirmed with Al Jazeera.

InnamullahSamangani, another deputy spokesman in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, has been transferred to Kandahar in one of the first cases of officials being shifted under the Taliban administration since it returned to power in August 2021.

Samangani will now be the head of the press and information bureau at the provincial level, a Taliban source told Al Jazeera.

The move is being seen as an assertion of power by the Taliban supreme leader HaibatullahAkhunzada, who is based in the southern city located about 450km (280 miles) to the north. Akhunzada rarely appears in the public and mostly stays in Kandahar – the birthplace of the Taliban movement.

Abdul Haq Hammad, head of the media watchdog at the Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture, told Al Jazeera that Mujahid’s deputy Bilal Karimi will still be based in Kabul while the former will shuttle between Kabul and Kandahar.

The reason for the latest changes – which highlight the rising importance of Kandahar – has not been revealed by the information ministry.

Obaidullah Baheer, a lecturer of transitional justice at the American University of Afghanistan, believes that the supreme leader took the decision in order to consolidate power around him in Kandahar.

“The emir does seem like he is very paranoid about his own ministers, so he is trying to make sure everything is under his control,” Baheer told Al Jazeera. “It also shows his lack of trust of the others in Kabul, so he is trying to take as much control as he can … this, in the absence of constitutionalism and of any division of power, will keep happening.”

It’s believed that the supreme leader Akhunzada has been pushing for hardline policies and is said to be behind the decisions to ban girls and women from education and to bar women from working in NGOs.

Mujahid, who remained in hiding during the Taliban’s 20-year war against United States-led foreign forces, held a series of open press conferences in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover in 2021, promising women’s rights and media freedom.

But the group has since gone back on its promises, enforcing widespread restrictions on women. Mujahid initially said that schools will reopen after an infrastructure upgrade to make way for gender-based segregation in classes. Going forward, however, the group has only doubled down announcing further curbs on women.

Earlier this week, the Taliban barred Afghan women employees of the United Nations from working.


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UN in Touch with India for Food Supplies to Afghanistan: Official

By Fidel Rahmati

April 6, 2023

UN officials are in touch with India over food shipment to 30 million Afghan people who face hunger, said Ramiz Alakarov, UN humanitarian coordinator for Afghanistan.

“We are in touch with the authorities there, and we benefited from donations in 2022, and the people of Afghanistan will continue to benefit from this donation,” Alakbarov, who is the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, said on Wednesday in a video conference from Kabul, reported by IANS News Agency.

Alakbarov said: “India has been a significant partner in providing aid to Afghanistan in several food donations. At least in 2022, I was personally involved in several of those cases.”

India and the World Food Program (WFP) agreed last month to send 20,000 tons of wheat to Afghanistan via the Chabahar port, while last year, India had agreed to send 50,000 tons of wheat via land route through Pakistan.

According to Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), two-thirds of people in the country which makes 28.3 million need urgent humanitarian aid in 2023 to survive, which makes Afghanistan one of the world’sworld’s worst humanitarian crises.

While WFP said that nearly 20 million people are on the brink of famine-like conditions, four million are acutely malnourished, including 32 million children under age five.

Meanwhile, the de facto government extended the Ban on Afghan women aid workers, which would add to the existent humanitarian crisis in the country since most of the UN staff are women.

The ban on women’s staff faced massive slams from national and international organizations saying that the Ban violates human rights and principles.

The US Foreign Minister Antony Blinken, including UN officials, asked the Taliban authorities to reverse the Ban on UN aid workers and take into account the interests of Afghan first.

Source: Khaama Press

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Flash Flood Kills 1, wounds 10 in Northeast Afghanistan

By Fidel Rahmati

April 6, 2023

In recent heavy rains and flash floods, at least one person was dead, and more than ten others were injured in the Bangi District of Afghanistan’s northeast Takhar province, according to local officials.

Heavy rains and flood killed one person and hurt more than ten others in the Bangi District of Takhar province, said Qari Mohibullah Nikzad, director for information and culture, on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, he added that the natural disaster had human and financial losses. The flash flood destroyed several houses and damaged thousands of acres of agricultural land.

The last two weeks were the deadliest regarding natural disasters in Afghanistan. More than 21 people died, and over 100 people were injured due to heavy rains, floods, earthquakes and avalanches, officials said.

On the other hand, more than 2625 residential houses were damaged, hundreds of livestock perished, and almost 30,000 acres of farmlands were destroyed due to the natural hazards across the country.

The country is hit by massive natural disasters yearly with considerable losses, including human and financial losses. This year more than 30 provinces of the country suffered due to the hazards, and several people lost their properties and farmlands amid a humanitarian crisis.

Source: Khaama Press

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Pakistani Security Forces Kill 8 Militants Near Afghanistan Border

By Fidel Rahmati

April 6, 2023

The Pakistani security forces killed eight militants, including their commander, in a special operation on Wednesday near Afghanistan border, the military’s media wing said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the statement said that one Pakistani soldier dead and four others were wounded during the shootout.

The operation occurred in the Shin Warsak area of South Waziristan, a northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province district.

The military has not said anything about the identity of dead militants. However, the area is reportedly used by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), known as Taliban Pakistan. It is actively involved in attacks on the security forces of Pakistan and ordinary citizens.

The group has intensified their attack on Pakistani officials, citizens and foreigners in the country since the unilateral end of the ceasefire with the army in November last year.

Earlier, Pakistani officials accused the Taliban government of supporting the group and not conducting operations against the TTP hideouts in the country.

Source: Khaama Press

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Tunisia president Kais Saied rejects IMF ‘diktats,’ casting shadow over bailout

06 April ,2023

Tunisia’s president on Thursday gave his clearest rejection yet of the terms of a stalled $1.9 billion IMF bailout package when he said he would not accept “diktats” and suggested that subsidy cuts could lead to unrest.

Tunisia reached a staff-level agreement with the IMF for the loan in September, but it has already missed key commitments, and donors believe the state’s finances are increasingly diverging from the figures upon which the deal was calculated.

Without a loan, Tunisia faces a full-blown balance of payments crisis.

Most debt is internal but there are foreign loan repayments due later this year, and credit ratings agencies have said Tunisia may default.

When asked whether he would accept the terms of the loan -- which include cuts to food and energy subsidies and a

reduction in the public wage bill -- Kais Saied told reporters “I will not hear diktats.”

He said deadly riots had rocked the North African country in 1983 after the government raised the price of bread. “Public peace is not a game,” he said.

When asked what the alternative was to the IMF loan, the president replied: “Tunisians must count on themselves.”

Saied seized most powers in 2021, shutting down parliament, appointing a new government and moving to rule by decree -- moves he said were necessary to end years of chaos and what he saw as rampant corruption among the political elite.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Working to complete talks over civilian rule deal: Sudan’s army chief

Adel Abdel-Rahim 



Sudan's army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan on Thursday said that the signing of an agreement to resume the country’s democratic transition was delayed with the intention of “laying solid framework that maintains the momentum and vigor of the revolution.”

On Wednesday, the opposition Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition announced that the signing has been further postponed due to talks between military factions.

Al-Burhan said that the parties are working to complete talks over the agreement.

The signing of the political deal was supposed to take place on April 1 but was postponed until April 6 due to differences between the army and the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary force. However, it was further delayed on Wednesday.

Last December, Sudan’s military and political forces signed a framework agreement to resolve the months-long crisis.

The deal pledged a two-year transition period and the appointment of a civilian prime minister by the political parties that signed the agreement.

It also called for reforming the military and defense sector, unifying the military and integrating the Rapid Support Forces into the army.

Meanwhile, the capital Khartoum and other Sudanese cities witnessed demonstrations against the framework agreement between FFC and the country's ruling military.

Rallies were held in Bahri and Omdurman cities of the Khartoum state, in the eastern cities of Port Sudan, Al-Qadarif and Kassal, as well in the central city of Madani.

The demonstrations were called by local resistance committees, which spearhead the current wave of demonstrations across the country since October 2021.

Security forces closed several roads, including the Al-Mk Nemer bridge, to prevent protesters from approaching the presidential palace.

Sudan has been without a functioning government since October 2021 when the military dismissed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s transitional government and declared a state of emergency, a move decried by political forces as a "military coup."

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Ramadan: Maltina launches campaign for Muslims’ warfare

By AjibolaTomiwa

07 April 2023

Maltina has launched a campaign tagged ‘Show Kindness, Share Happiness’ to identify the welfare of Muslims during this Ramadan season.To this end, the brand is collaborating with mosques and non-profit organisations to meet needs of the less-privileged members of the society.   

The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is to show kindness that would see to distribution of relief materials to families in need nationwide.

In a statement, Cluster Media Lead, West Africa, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Wasiu Abiola, said: “This year, Maltina is taking its efforts to the next level by providing food for people in need during Iftar, the fast-breaking meal that marks the end of each day’s fasting. The brand is reaching out to some of the neediest people nationwide to ensure they have a nutritious meal to break their fast with. Additionally, the brand hosted iftar dinner experiences with influencers across Nigeria to encourage and foster happiness in togetherness.

“Ramadan is a time of reflection, charity and sharing, and we are delighted to be able to partner with mosques and non-profit organisations to reach out to those in need. By providing food for Iftar, we hope to help alleviate the suffering of the less-privileged and bring a smile to their faces.”

Source: Guardian Nigeria

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Deal to restore democratic transition in Sudan delayed again

06 April ,2023

A dispute between Sudan’s military and a paramilitary group again forced the delay of signing a deal with politicians to restore the country’s democratic transition, which was derailed by a 2021 coup, a pro-democracy bloc said Wednesday.

The bloc, known as the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, announced the postponement in a statement saying that the deal would not be signed Thursday as planned.

The bloc said the military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Force were still negotiating on a reform for the security and military sector to be included in the final agreement. They are discussing the integration of the Rapid Support Force into the military.

The bloc’s statement said the military and the paramilitary force had made progress and only one point remined unresolved. It did not offer further details.

It was the second time within less than a week that Sudanese parties failed to meet a deadline set to sign the agreement between the generals and pro-democracy groups. It originally had been scheduled to be signed last Saturday.

The deal aims at restoring Sudan’s short-lived transition to democracy, which was halted by an October 2021 military coup that removed a Western-supported, power-sharing administration.

The coup dashed Sudanese aspirations for democratic government after three decades of autocracy and repression under Omar al-Bashir.

A months-long popular uprising had led the military to oust al-Bashir and his government in April 2019. Al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court over the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region, has been imprisoned in Khartoum.

According to a draft of the deal obtained by The Associated Press, the military would withdraw from politics and be barred from non-military businesses.

The deal includes an overhaul of the security apparatuses that will eventually lead to a unified, professional and non-partisan national military.

Political parties would form a civilian administration to lead the chaos-stricken nation through elections in two years. They are to name a prime minister who would form a Cabinet and chair the Defense and Security Council, which decides on security issues.

The dispute has focused on the integration of the Rapid Support Force into the military. The force, led by powerful Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, grew out of former janjaweed militias that executed a brutal crackdown in Darfur over the past two decades.

The second postponement came as Sudan braced for anti-coup demonstrations called by protest groups for Thursday. That is the anniversary of the overthrow of President Jaafar al-Nimeiri in a bloodless coup in 1985 after a popular uprising against his repressive rule.

Authorities ordered tight security measures in the capital ahead of the protests, with the military bolstering its presence in Khartoum over the past few days.

Source: Al Arabiya

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North America


Brazil’s Bolsonaro Testifies About Receiving Gifts Of Saudi Jewellery

Bala Chambers 



Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro met Wednesday with federal police in the capital Brasilia to give testimony on gifts of diamond jewelry he received from Saudi Arabia while in power amid in a probe into whether he illegally imported the jewelry into the country.

Bolsonaro is being investigated over allegations that he may have attempted to illegally bring $3.2 million worth of luxury jewelry into Brazil, a charge he denies.

Federal police and prosecutors are investigating whether the three sets of jewelry were public gifts that Bolsonaro improperly tried to prevent from being added to the presidency's public collection or were private gifts that he tried to bring into Brazil without paying taxes.

In a statement, Bolsonaro said he found out about the jewelry a year later but couldn’t remember who had told him, according to news outlet G1.

Bolsonaro's meeting with authorities lasted around three hours. Security was tight in the area with no demonstrations by Bolsonaro supporters, according to state news agency Agencia Brazil.

Nine other people testified Wednesday, five of them in Brasilia and four in Sao Paulo, which Metropoles reported that authorities had arranged at the same time on purpose.

In March, the government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called on the authorities to investigate allegations whether Bolsonaro and his entourage may have tried to avoid declaring the expensive jewelry, which was gifted by the Saudi Arabian government to Bolsonaro and his wife Michelle in 2021.

The jewelry was seized by customs officials in October that year after being discovered in a backpack of a government aide.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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White House blames Trump, bad intel for traumatic Afghanistan exit

Apr 7, 2023

WASHINGTON: The White House on Thursday released a long-awaited review of the US exit from Afghanistan, laying blame on Donald Trump and a huge intelligence failure, but defending overall US conduct of the traumatic operation.

The classified review was sent to Congress, where the Republican majority in the House of Representatives is investigating what it says is President Joe Biden's failures during the August 2021 withdrawal.

Presenting a declassified summary, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby conceded mistakes had been made in the exit, which saw the Taliban seize control of Afghanistan within weeks, forcing the last American troops and their allies into a desperate evacuation.

"Ending a war, any war, is not an easy endeavor, certainly not after 20 years," Kirby told reporters. "It doesn't mean it wasn't worth doing -- ending that war in Afghanistan."

The White House largely blamed Biden's predecessor Donald Trump for creating the conditions leading to the rout.

But it also acknowledged that US intelligence services had failed to understand the Taliban's strength and the weakness of Afghan government forces that Western countries had spent years propping up.

"Clearly we didn't get things right" on intelligence, Kirby said.

In the end, nothing "would have changed the trajectory" of the exit and "ultimately, President Biden refused to send another generation of Americans to fight a war that should have ended for the United States long ago," the report summary said.

The pullout, ending on August 30, 2021, shocked Americans and US allies, as the Taliban swept aside Western-trained Afghan forces within weeks.

A suicide bomb attack killed 13 US troops and 170 Afghans on August 26 at the crowded perimeter of Kabul's international airport, where an unprecedented military airlift operation managed to get more than 120,000 people out of the country in a matter of days.

Before US troops were able to secure the whole airport, the world witnessed tragic scenes of panicked Afghan civilians mobbing airliners and even falling to their deaths as they attempted to cling onto departing planes.

In the summary, the White House placed heavy blame on a February 2020 deal struck between Trump's administration and the Taliban, saying it put the incoming Biden government in an impossible position.

"The departing Trump administration had left the Biden administration with a date for withdrawal, but no plan for executing it. And after four years of neglect -- and in some cases deliberate degradation -- crucial systems, offices, and agency functions that would be necessary for a safe and orderly departure were in disrepair," the document said.

It also stressed that Trump in his final 11 months in office had steadily reduced the US troop presence in Afghanistan, reaching just 2,500 personnel by the time Biden took over in January 2021.

"As a result... the Taliban were in the strongest military position that they had been in since 2001," when the United States invaded Afghanistan for a mission initially meant to focus on the planners of the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

Trump, in a post Thursday on his Truth Social app, called the current White House "morons" and said they were responsible for a "grossly incompetent SURRENDER in Afghanistan."

"Biden is responsible, no one else!" he wrote.

Kirby acknowledged a litany of intelligence failures, saying the US government did not manage to predict "how fast the Taliban were moving across the country" or "the degree to which they were constructing these deals in the hinterlands that kind of fell like dominos."

"We didn't anticipate how fast the Afghan national security forces were going to fold," he said. "I don't think we fully appreciated the degree of corruption that was in the officer ranks in the military."

"Intelligence is a hard business and they get it right a lot too," Kirby said.

Ultimately, the White House report suggested, the long-term failure of the war, including the Taliban's surprising resilience and the weakness of government forces, meant the ending was never going to go well.

Source: Times Of India

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US, Arab countries working to de-escalate Lebanon-Israel tensions

06 April ,2023

US officials have been in contact with Arab leaders in a bid to reduce tensions after a barrage of rockets were fired from Lebanon at Israel earlier on Thursday.

Israel has reported identifying 34 rockets fired from Lebanon, with 25 of them intercepted, marking the largest escalation along the frontier since the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon.

The rocket attacks came shortly after Israeli police clashed with Palestinians inside Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque.

Al Arabiya English understands that US officials have spoken to officials from Egypt and Jordan, and are working on facilitating more calls with other countries. They are also seeking to engage with Israeli officials ahead of an expected security cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

The US is hoping for a surgical response from Israel, one that does not escalate the situation further. Washington is also concerned about the safety of US interests and personnel in the region during any Israeli response, and is working to ensure that the situation remains calm.

Security sources anticipate Israel to respond soon. The US remains concerned about Lebanon potentially becoming a launchpad for attacks against Israel.

The Lebanese government, army, and the UN peacekeeping corps in Lebanon are also anticipating an Israeli response.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US says Israel has ‘right to defend itself’ after Lebanon rockets

06 April ,2023

The United States said Thursday that its ally Israel had the right to defend itself after a barrage of rockets from Lebanon following soaring tensions over Jerusalem.

“We condemn the launch of rockets from Lebanon and Gaza at Israel,” State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.

“Our commitment to Israel’s security is ironclad, and we recognize Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself against all forms of aggression.”

Israel said it had identified 34 rockets fired from Lebanon into Israel, with 25 intercepted, in the largest escalation along the frontier since a war between Israel and Lebanon in 2006.

The rocket fire came just days after Israeli police drew widespread condemnation and warnings of retaliation from around the region for clashing with Palestinians inside Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque -- Islam’s third-holiest site.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Canada repatriates 14 women, children from Syria’s Roj camp

06 April ,2023

Kurdish authorities in northeastern Syria have handed over four women and 10 children to a Canadian delegation in readiness for their repatriation, a Kurdish official said.

Western governments have faced mounting criticism for not taking back more of their citizens who travelled to Iraq and Syria to volunteer for ISIS and the Canadian government was successfully sued.

Thousands of foreign women and children remain in overcrowded displaced persons’ camps in Kurdish-administered northeastern Syria.

“On Wednesday... four wives and 10 children of foreign fighters of Daesh who were living in the Roj camp were handed over to representatives of the Canadian foreign ministry,” said Khaled Ibrahim, an official in the Kurdish administration.

He said the women were aged between 26 and 35, while the children were aged between three and 11.

It was the fourth repatriation carried out by Canada from the overcrowded displaced persons camp of northeastern Syria, Ibrahim said.

On January 21, a Canadian federal court ordered the government to repatriate 23 citizens, 19 of them women and children, from the Roj and al-Hol camps, without setting a date.

Previously the government of Justin Trudeau had treated ISIS family members in Syria on a case-by-case basis, and in four years only a handful of women and children had been repatriated.

Since the destruction of ISIS governance across Syria and Iraq in 2019, more than 42,400 foreign adults and children with alleged ties to ISIS have been held in camps in Syria, according to Human Rights Watch.

They include around 30 Canadian citizens, 10 of them children, the rights group said in January.

Repatriating them is a highly sensitive issue for many governments, but there has been mounting criticism of their reluctance to bring back their own nationals from the camps.

Last month, UN chief Antonio Guterres called for the swift repatriation of foreigners held in Syria’s al-Hol camp, which is home to more than 50,000 people, nearly half of them children.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US envoy visits Turkish opposition, angers President Erdogan

06 April 2023

Tensions have escalated between Turkey and the US after the American ambassador to Ankara met with the opposition candidate ahead of crucial elections.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has slammed the move saying the ambassador needs to know his place. Erdogan has also called on his supporters to teach the United States a lesson in the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that upcoming elections should be a lesson to the US and that from now on doors are closed to US Ambassador, Jeffry Lane Flake, who last week met with Erdogan's main electoral rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

He said: "We need to teach America a lesson in these elections. Joe Biden speaks from there, what is Biden's Ambassador doing here? He goes to visit Mr. Kemal, it's a shame. Use your brain! You are the ambassador; your interlocutor here is the president".

He added: "Our doors are now closed to him. You cannot see me anymore. Why? You will know your limits".

According to a tweet from the US Embassy, Flake met with Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the Republican People's Party, CHP, on 29th of March as part of continuing conversations with Turkish political parties on issues of mutual interest between the two countries.

Also in early March, Ankara summoned Ambasador Flake over top US General Mark Milley's visits to northeast Syria.

This happened just weeks after the Turkish interior minister slammed the US envoy after Washington warned Ankara about exporting chemicals, microchips and other products to Russia.

Erdogan is fuming over the US envoy meeting with the opposition candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who is leading most polls, weeks before crucial elections.

According to the most recent opinion polls, released on March 27, Kilicdaroglu is ahead of Erdogan in voter intention by 2.5 percentage points.

The figures show Erdogan has been able to close the gap from earlier in the month when he was lagging by more than 10 percentage points.

Four different polling agencies suggest a possible seat change at the presidential palace in Ankara, with Kilicdaroglu leading the race with more than 50% of voters support. In contrast, support for Erdogan stands at 44% on average.

Presidential and Parliamentary elections in Turkey are scheduled for May 14.

Kilicdaroglu was nominated as the presidential candidate by an alliance of the country's six opposition parties.

Erdogan and his ruling AK Party are expected to face an uphill battle for re election following the devastating earthquake that killed over 50,000 people in the country in early February.

The US and Turkey, allies and strategic partners or paper, haven't had an easy relationship since 2014 when Washington decided to ally against ISIS with Kurdish YPG militants in Syria, who are viewed as terrorists by Ankara.

Since then, two more US administrations have been ensconced in Washington, yet, tensions and occasional shouting matches over a set of issues ranging from Turkey's purchase of Russian made S 400 air defense systems to the decision by Ankara to hold up Sweden's NATO bid have continued unabated.

After Ankara announced its decision to buy Russian S400 missile defense systems, the US removed turkey from its f 35 stealth fighter jet program.

Subsequently, when Sweden and Finland declared their NATO accession bid, it provided Erdogan with a trump card in his "hard ball games" with Turkey's Western allies.

And let's not forget the allegations of US involvement in the attempted coup against Erdogan's government in 2016.

This has, consequently, fueled the anti American sentiment in Ankara which views the US as an unreliable ally. In addition Turkish media has reported that Erdogan might host Russian President, Vladimir Putin, in the near future for the inauguration of a nuclear power plant.

Erdogan has said his country is determined to proceed with the nuclear power plant project, despite objection from the opposition.

Source: Press TV

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