measure adopted by the 47-nation international organisation raised concerns
about the role of sharia councils in family, inheritance and commercial law (
Slams Sisi's Egypt as ‘Open-Air Prison’ For Critics, Urges End to Crackdown on
of Europe Calls for Muslim Couples in UK to Legally Have To Register Marriage
before or During Islamic Ceremony
Jakarta's Former Governor, Released After Jail Term for Blasphemy
Cultural, Religious Repression of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang: Pakistan Diplomat
Co-Founder of the Taliban Mullah Baradar to Lead Taliban in Talks with US
Yatra Triggers Row At Aligarh Muslim University
Islamist Push into South Asia Aided by American Proxies
Helps Bring Heroic True Story of Saudi Royal, Teenager Faisal, To Silver Screen
of Syrian Army Forces Slain by Ankara-Backed FSA Found in Raqqa
Assad revokes multiple entry visas for European Union diplomats'
of Raqqa Set Fire at US-Backed Forces' Bases
killed in failed ISIS counterattack in east Syria: Monitor
killed, dozens injured as bombing spree hits militant-held towns in northwest
Expert to Lead International Inquiry Into Khashoggi Murder
Muslims anger Serbs with name change plan, EU calls for calm
UK say Venezuela’s Maduro ‘illegitimate’, Russia and Turkey express support
was basically dead without Qatari cash, London court told
Political Islam Is Shifting Indonesia's Relations with Australians
aiming for comeback as PM like Dr M, says Malaysian MP
president toys with releasing a terrorist ideologue
royals elect new king after surprise abdication
Jew Flying To Israel Echoes In Senate
incident can’t be equated with Model Town’s, says Qadri
SC to Hear Review Petition in Aasia Bibi Blasphemy Case Next Week
Sharif uses Ghalib’s poetry to explain his condition in jail
approves merger of all media regulatory bodies
call from Chinese embassy keeps law enforcers on their toes
talks ‘making headway’
Forces kill prominent Taliban leader in Helmand province
senior Taliban leaders killed in Faryab operations
says new Myanmar curbs threatening 50,000 Rohingya
expert visits Bangladesh Rohingya 'relocation' island
suicide bombers including two Pakistanis arrested in Nangarhar
of militants killed in Afghan, Coalition Forces operations
Did Not Cry When I Heard He Is No More: Wife of Ashoka Chakra Awardee Nazir
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leader asks pope to help Indian nuns in rape case
Hasina greets Narendra Modi on Republic Day
ATS accuses Muslim youth of planning a chemical attack
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arrests 2006 Kozhikode blasts accused from Delhi airport
Court Freezes Arafat Property in East Jerusalem
deploys 'Iron Dome' after Syria warns of retaliatory strike on Ben Gurion
settler charged with manslaughter for killing Palestinian mother
Coalition: Houthis blocking passage of four aid ships since 34 days
Erdogan offers support for Venezuela’s Maduro
envoy to travel to Turkey for probe into Khashoggi murder
nation determined to withstand Saudi-led oppression: Houthi
turns down Qatari funds over Israel’s change of conditions
Turkey vow to continue joint anti-terror fight in militant-held Idlib
says it has capacity to create ‘safe zone’ in Syria alone
of Sudan intelligence service killed in clash with army troops - statement
protests rage, Bashir welcomes support from South Sudan
police clash with anti-govt. protesters amid calls for Bashir's resignation
Mobilizes Military Following Boko Haram, Separatist Attacks
group targeted by terror plot calls for suspects to face full weight of law
Turkey, Russia warn US against meddling in domestic affairs of Venezuela
US terror militia members admit role in attack on Minnesota mosque
and Britain plan talks on Yemen with Saudi Arabia and UAE
Syria envoy due in Turkey for talks on secure zone
by New Age Islam News Bureau
International warns that Egyptians are facing an unprecedented crackdown on
freedom of expression under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's administration,
saying the North African state has today turned into an "open-air
prison" for dissidents.
the Sisi administration, "Egypt has been converted into an open-air prison
for critics," Amnesty said in a statement on Thursday, on the eve of the
country's National Police Day, adding, "The space for dissent "is
being crushed out of existence."
25 also marks the start of the 2011 revolution, which led to the ouster of
former dictator, Hosni Mubarak.
it is more dangerous to openly criticize the government in Egypt than at any
other time in the country's recent history," Najia Bounaim, Amnesty's
North Africa Campaigns director said.
further said Egyptian authorities had arrested at least 113 people in the
course of 2018 for "peacefully expressing their views."
army chief, Sisi led a military coup against the country’s first-ever
democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi -- which had come to power
following Mubarak's ouster -- and overthrew him on July 3, 2013.
rights groups have regularly criticized Sisi's government for cracking down on
opposition activists and supporters of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement,
which has been banned in the country.
say the army’s crackdown on the Brotherhood and its supporters has resulted in
the deaths of over 1,400 people. About 22,000 others have been arrested,
including more than 200 people who have been sentenced to death in mass trials.
further said, “Over the past year, people who dared to criticize the government
have been arrested and sent to prison, often held in solitary confinement or
subjected to enforced disappearances simply for posting their opinions on
social media, giving media interviews, denouncing sexual harassment and even
for supporting certain football clubs. In some cases, those arrested had done
nothing at all."
also launched an online campaign dubbed "Egypt: Open air prison for
critics" in an effort to pile pressure on the Cairo administration to end
the crackdown on dissent.
-- who was re-elected in March 2018 for a second four-year term in the absence
of any serious competition -- recently denied in an interview with CBS that the
country held any political prisoners.
of Europe calls for Muslim couples in UK to legally have to register marriage
before or during Islamic ceremony
couples getting married in the UK should be legally required to civilly
register their union before or during the Islamic ceremony, the Council of
Europe has said.
concerns about the role of sharia councils in family, inheritance and
commercial law, the human rights organisation made up of 47 member states,
called for obstacles stopping Muslim women from accessing justice to be
resolution called on British authorities step up measures to provide protection
and assistance to those who are in a vulnerable position and run awareness
campaigns which teach Muslim women about their rights.
they are not considered part of the British legal system, Sharia councils
attempt to provide a form of alternative dispute resolution,” it says.
adds: “Whereby members of the Muslim community, sometimes voluntarily, often
under considerable social pressure, accept their religious jurisdiction mainly
in marital and Islamic divorce issues, but also in matters relating to
inheritance and Islamic commercial contracts.
assembly is concerned that the rulings of the Sharia councils clearly
discriminate against women in divorce and inheritance cases.”
Council also called on member states to protect human rights regardless of
religious practices and voiced concern about the “judicial” activities of
“Sharia councils” in the UK.
lawyers say many Muslim couples do not follow Islamic ceremonies with civil
marriages – a requirement under by the 1949 Marriage Act.
February, a Home Office commissioned experts review into the application of
sharia law concluded that Muslims in the UK should undergo a civil marriage as
well as a religious ceremony to make sure women are protected under the law.
measure was needed to lessen “discriminatory practices” in the councils, the
report said. However, it added that abolishing Sharia councils was “not viable”
and they were “fulfilling a need in some Muslim communities”.
review found that the vast majority of people using sharia councils were women
seeking an Islamic divorce but very few council members were women.
a number of examples of “bad practice”, the report said some had been
inappropriately questioned on personal relationship matters. Women had also
been invited to make concessions to their husbands in order to secure a
one instance a forced marriage victim was asked to attend a council at the same
time as her family, it said. Evidence indicated the proportion of Muslim
couples who do not have a civil marriage was “high and increasing”, it added.
in a landmark ruling at the High Court in August, the Honourable Mr Justice
Williams found a woman was entitled to maintenance from her husband after they
split, even though they had only undergone a “nikah” ceremony and had not
formally registered their marriage.
Council of Europe’s new resolution welcomed the recommendations put forward in
last year’s Home Office review.
also called on the UK to ensure councils operate within the law “especially as
it relates to the prohibition of discrimination against women, and respect all
authorities should work with Muslim communities, womens organisations and other
non-governmental organisations to promote gender equality and women’s
empowerment, it said.
also set a deadline of June 2020 for the UK to report back on reviewing the
Marriage Act, which would make it a legal requirement for Muslim couples to
undergo civil marriages – which is currently required for Christian and Jewish
to the resolution, a Home Office spokesperson said: “Sharia law does not form
any part of the law in England and Wales. Regardless of religious belief, we
are all equal before the law. Where Sharia councils exist, they must abide by
are in place to protect the rights of women and prevent discrimination, and we
will work with the appropriate authorities to ensure these laws are being
enforced fully and effectively.”
former governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, best known as “Ahok”, has been released
from prison after serving out his controversial two-year sentence for insulting
Indonesian politician was controversially jailed in May 2017 after a court
found him guilty of blasphemy for a comment he made while campaigning for
year a movie documenting his life, “A Man Called Ahok” was released in
Indonesian cinemas, igniting rumours he plans to resume his political career
upon his release.
walked free from the high-security Mako Brimob detention facility in Depok,
West Java, early Thursday morning after receiving more than three months’ in
– who in a recent letter from prison asked his supporters to refer to him by
his initials “BTP” rather than his Chinese nickname – was met by outside the
prison by supporters clad in red, blue and white shirts, chanting “BTP, BTP,
jailing of the former governor – who an anomaly in Indonesian politics as a
minority Christian and Chinese – was widely condemned by rights groups, with
critics saying the sentence was a blow to religious tolerance and free speech,
while others suggested the Indonesian judiciary had succumbed to mob rule.
footage of Ahok’s comments – which made it appear he had directly insulted the
Qur’an rather than the conservative Islamic clerics citing it – spread quickly
in 2017, sparking huge Islamist-inspired political protests that have had a
lasting impact on the politics of the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.
straight-talking politician did not appeal against his sentence, but strangely
state prosecutors did – saying it was harsher than the sentence they had
in a recent letter posted on his official Instagram account, Ahok said he would
serve his time all over again.
we could go back in time and someone asked which would you choose [Going to
prison or winning the election] I would say I choose to be imprisoned at Mako
to study for two years, so that I could maintain self-discipline for the rest
of my life,” he wrote, “If I were re-elected, I would have become more
arrogant, rough, and I would have hurt people.”
became Jakarta’s governor in April 2014, inheriting it as then-deputy governor
after Joko Widodo was elected president. He lost the gubernatorial race three
close to Ahok say he has voiced support for the re-election of Widodo in the
upcoming April vote, even though the incumbent’s running mate Ma’ruf Amin, an
elderly Islamic cleric, testified against him in the 2017 blasphemy trial.
his fans Ahok was a politician who worked hard to improve the capital, tackling
corruption, revamping public space, and reducing chronic floods and traffic,
but his policy of forced evictions also angered many.
considered abrasive, in an interview with the Guardian he once jokingly
referred to himself as the “Godfather of Jakarta”. During his time in prison Ahok
has kept a low profile.
A senior Pakistani diplomat on Thursday put up a staunch defence of the
controversial education camps in China's volatile Xinjiang province where
thousands of Uighur Muslims have been reportedly detained, saying there is no
forced labour or cultural and religious repression in the region.
recently took diplomats from 12 countries with large Muslim populations,
including India and Pakistan, to its Xinjiang province where tens of thousands
of members of the minority Uighur Muslims have been interned in education
this visit, I did not find any instance of forced labour or cultural and
religious repression," Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, the Charge d'affaires,
Pakistan's Embassy in China, told the state-run Global Times on Thursday.
imams we met at the mosques and the students and teachers at the Xinjiang
Islamic Institute told us that they enjoy freedom in practicing Islam and that
the Chinese government extends support for maintenance of mosques all over
Xinjiang," said Baloch, who visited Xinjiang as part of delegation of
I did not see any sign of cultural repression. The Uighur culture as
demonstrated by their language, music and dance is very much part of the life
of the people of Xinjiang," she said.
about the security situation in Xinjiang, which has been "beset by
terrorism", Baloch said, "We learned that the recent measures have
resulted in improvement of the security situation in Xinjiang and there have
been no incidents of terrorism in recent months."
counter-terrorism measures being taken are multidimensional and do not simply
focus on law enforcement aspects.
poverty alleviation and development are key to the counter-terrorism strategy
of the Chinese government," she said.
regional government invited diplomatic envoys as well as representatives from
Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, India, Pakistan,
Indonesia, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Thailand, and Kuwait following reports about
detention of thousands of Uighur and other Muslims in massive education camps.
UN's Geneva-based Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination last
year said that it was alarmed by "numerous reports of ethnic Uighurs and
other Muslim minorities" being detained in Xinjiang region and called for
their immediate release.
about them "range from tens of thousands to upwards of a million," it
defended the camps, saying they are re-education camps aimed at de-radicalising
sections of the Uighur population from extremism and separatism.
US and several other countries besides UN officials have expressed concern over
has been carrying out massive crackdown on the East Turkistan Islamic Movement
(ETIM) in Xinjiang province, where Uyghurs who formed majority in the region
were restive over the increasing settlements of Han community.
and several other Muslim countries faced criticism about their silence over
China's crackdown on Muslims in Xinjiang.
has about 20 million Muslims who are mostly Uighurs, an ethnic group of Turkic
origin, and Hui Muslims, who are of the Chinese ethnic origin. While Uighurs
lived in Xinjiang, bordering Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Hui Muslims resided in
recent report in the Global Times said China passed a five-year plan to
'sinicize Islam' in a bid to make it compatible with its version of socialism.
is China's important act to explore ways of governing religion in modern
countries," the report said.
said the delegation was given full and open access to the three centres that
they visited in Kashgar and Hotan.
training program includes teaching of national common language (Chinese), law
and constitution and vocational skills. The students also participate in
recreational activities like sports, music and dance. We witnessed several
skill classes being offered in these centres," she said.
the visits to these centres, we had the opportunity to interact with both the
management and the students. We observed the students to be in good physical
health. The living facilities are fairly modern and comfortable with separate dormitories
for men and women. They are being served halal food," she said.
said the Uighur language is being used in official establishments, airports,
subway stations, police stations or hotels.
the copies of the Koran that we saw in the mosques and the Islamic centre were
translated into the Uighur language. The most visible sign of protection of
Uighur culture by the government is the government-run bilingual kindergarten
schools where children learn Putonghua as well as Uighur language and culture
from a very young age," she said.
A co-founder of the Taliban was appointed as the leader of its political office
in Qatar on Thursday to strengthen its hand in peace talks with the United
States as they try to establish a mechanism to end the 17-year Afghan war.
Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was released from a prison in Pakistan in October last
year, has been authorised to lead the political team and take decisions, two
Taliban sources in Afghanistan said.
Taliban issued a statement to announce Baradar’s appointment and a reshuffle in
their team to put senior leaders into key positions as the talks with US
officials gain momentum.
step has been taken to strengthen and properly handle the ongoing negotiations
process with the United States,” the Taliban said in statement.
special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad’s meeting with the Taliban
representatives, which was originally due to run over two days, entered its
fourth day on Thursday.
was not clear whether the talks were to continue on Friday, or how soon Baradar
could join the talks.
will soon fly to Qatar. He has been given the new position because the US wanted
senior Taliban leadership to participate in peace talks,” a senior Taliban
more: Diplomatic circles see Khalilzad behind Baradar’s release
who coordinated the insurgent group’s military operations in southern
Afghanistan, was arrested in 2010 by a team from ISI and the US Central
release, according to security experts, was part of high-level negotiations led
by Khalilzad with the Taliban.
efforts to end the United State’s longest running conflict intensified last
year after the appointment of the Afghan-born Khalilzad to lead direct talks
with the Taliban. He has held at least four meetings with the Taliban
Aligarh Muslim University has served a show-cause notice to a student leader
over a 'tiranga yatra' through the campus, saying it was held without permission
and triggering a row.
university said it followed procedure and believed that the motorcycle procession
was meant to polarise students on the campus.
the leader from the BJP's student wing alleged bias and said he would complain
to the human resource development ministry.
Janata Party spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao also criticised the University's
Singh, a grandson of BJP MLA Dalveer Singh, was served notice Wednesday for the
procession taken out a day earlier.
participants said the ‘tricolour procession', which began from the campus gates
and ended at the sports ground, was part of the Republic Day celebrations.
notice sent by AMU proctor Mohsin Khan said the procession was held during
working hours hours after compelling students to leave their classes.
added that a large number of "outsiders", including anti-social
elements participated in it.
proctor said the AMU has made it mandatory to seek official permission for any
procession as a precautionary step to maintain peace on the campus.
AMU spokesman said the university is holding a week-long celebration to mark
Ajay Singh's motorcycle procession was politically motivated and a ploy to
polarise the student community under the garb of a so-called tiranga
yatra," he said.
Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Morcha (ABVP) leader, however, alleged that the AMU
authorities had no objections when students raised slogans against the killing
of a Kashmiri terrorist or protested against reservation for the economically
weaker sections in government jobs and educational institutes.
they have a problem when we take out a 'tiranga rally' with slogans like Bharat
Mata ki Jai,” Singh charged.
AMU was shaken by a controversy last year over a picture of Pakistan founder
Muhammad Ali Jinnah, displayed on the walls of the student union office.
university had then said Jinnah's portrait had been put up there along with
those of others who had been granted life membership of the union.
strong backing of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has been extensively catalogued,
but not much has been written about the country’s support for the
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), the Brotherhood’s ideological cousin in South Asia that
also has an active presence in North America.
role in advancing the Islamist agenda of Turkey’s ruling Justice and
Development Party (AKP) was highlighted by a senior aide to President Recep
Tayyip Erdogan in a video interview last year. JI and the MB are “soft power
proxies” that helped bolster Turkey’s role as leader of a global caliphate
“defending oppressed and victimized Muslims,” Yasin Atkay told the
pro-government Hilal TV.
ideologue Maulana Syed Abdul Ala Maududi created the JI in 1941, when Lahore,
Pakistan was part of British India. In addition to advancing a rigid
interpretation of Islam, the Islamist movement has provided an ideological
platform and recruiting base for terrorist groups in South Asia.
advocates actively on behalf of the JI. Erdogan, for example, denounced the
2016 hanging of JI Bangladesh leader Motiur Rahman Nizami as “neither fair
governance nor a democratic mentality.” He also described the Islamist leader
as a “mujahid [holy warrior].”
leadership also openly applauds Turkey’s Islamist leader and regime. After
Erdogan was reelected president in June, for instance, JI Pakistan chief Siraj
ul Haq called him “a great leader of the Muslim world.” Another JI leader
described Turkey as “the hope of the Ummah [world community of Muslims].”
under the Islamist AKP has become a key sponsor of JI-affiliated organizations
in Bangladesh and Pakistan as well as the Islamist movement’s proxy groups in
Union of NGOs of the Islamic World (UNIW) is a key agency used by the Turkish
government to sponsor and coordinate JI activities, an Investigative Project on
Terrorism (IPT) investigation finds.
Istanbul-based organization was established in 2005 with the AKP’s blessing and
boasts 340 NGOs from 65 countries, including in the United States. Through a
global network of Islamist organizations, UNIW seeks to revive the global
Muslim ummah and stand up to the U.S.-led world order. Its stated mission is
“to create an ummah consciousness” among its members and seek unity among
Muslim nations “against to [sic] the western world which want to weaken the
Islamic World by their dirty tricks and try to separate it from each other
although they are unions among themselves.”
network’s membership roster includes leading Islamist and terror-tied
organizations such as the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), World Assembly
of Muslim Youth (WAMY), Zamzam Foundation (Somalia), Islamic Relief (UK),
International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), and others. By sponsoring and
coordinating developmental projects, providing humanitarian assistance, and
addressing alleged violations of human rights and freedoms in the Muslim world,
the umbrella group seeks to defend “Islamic culture and values” and assist in
finding “solutions of the problems relating to the Islamic world collectively.”
Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD) and Kashmir American Council (KAC) are
U.S.-based UNIW members and work closely with the umbrella group.
UNIW, Helping Hand was founded in 2005. It is the charitable arm of the Islamic
Circle of North America (ICNA), a JI front group headquartered in Jamaica, N.Y.
Helping Hand regional partners have been found to have ties to U.S.-designated
terrorist entities, including Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF), Hizbul
Mujahideen (HM) and its leader Syed Salahuddin.
Salahuddin’s leadership, HM launched several terrorist attacks, including an
April 2014 explosives attack in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir that
injured 17 people. FIF is closely tied to the Pakistan-based terrorist group
Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) that was responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terror
is the most prominent of JI’s proxy groups in North America. ICNA listed “[t]he
successful introduction of the concept of Iqamat as-deen [Establishment of the
Religion] in North America” in an August 1999 article in its flagship
publication, Message International, and succeeded in “planting the seeds of the
Islamic movement in this continent.”
issue features an interview by former JI leader Qazi Hussein Ahmed in which he
emphasizes the role of Islamic movements in creating “an Islamic society, an
Islamic government and an Islamic state.”
Bangladeshi war crimes tribunal convicted ICNA’s former vice president and New
York chapter leader Ashrafuzzman Khan in 2013. Khan was tried in absentia and
sentenced to death. The tribunal found Khan was the “chief executor” of a death
squad known as Al-Badr, which was a militant offshoot of JI.
Kashmiri American Council, meanwhile, was funded and directed by the Pakistani
government. KAC’s executive director Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai served 16 months in
prison after pleading guilty in December 2011 for conspiring to act as an agent
of the Pakistani government without registering under the Foreign Agents
Registration Act (FARA).
received $3.5 million from Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI, to
influence American policy toward Kashmir. He used KAC as a front for his
illegal lobbying activities. Documents seized from Fai’s home show he worked
with the ISI “for years before the KAC was even founded.”
has a long association with the JI. He was introduced to the Islamist movement
through a local Jamaat leader while attending college, ProPublica reported in
while studying in Saudi Arabia, Fai met with the imam of Ka’aba that houses the
most sacred site in Islam, He invited the imam to attend a JI-sponsored
conference in Kashmir.
really revolutionized the whole thinking of the people of Kashmir: We are not
alone,” Fai said in the ProPublica report.
and the imam of Ka’aba were instrumental in the spread of Wahhabi Islam in
Kashmir, Pakistan journalist Arif Jamal told ProPublica. Jamal investigated
Fai’s role for a book on Kashmir’s “shadow war.” Wahhabi Islam, which is an
austere form of Islam that insists on a literal interpretation of the Quran,
soon replaced Kashmir’s famed Kashmiriyat—the state’s centuries-old tradition
of indigenous secularism.
who now advocates for the Kashmir issue through the World Kashmir Awareness
Forum, also serves as a UNIW board member. He has spoken at UNIW conferences,
most recently at the December 2017 international NGO fair in Istanbul. At the
event, Fai was seen talking with UNIW’s Ali Kurt and Al Khidmat Foundation
President Abdus Shakoor. Al Khidmat is JI Pakistan’s charitable wing.
who serves on UNIW’s board, was previously ICNA’s secretary general.
government-run organizations and media agencies participate in conventions ICNA
co-hosts with the Muslim American Society (MAS). MAS was established in 1993 as
the Brotherhood’s arm in the United States. The UNIW website, in fact, claims
to have organized the 2018 ICNA-MAS convention last spring in Baltimore.
conventions also serve as a platform to advance Turkey’s Islamist agenda.
Erdogan’s daughter, the vice chair of the Women and Democracy Association
(KADEM) Sumeye Erdogan Bayraktar, spoke at the 2016 convention. Bayraktar’s
speech, “Overcoming the problems the ummah face: Turkish model,” described the
Islamist AKP as a “liberation movement that took its power from the people and
the values they upheld.” She accused Turkey’s “minority establishment elite”
for modernizing “a mostly religious society through top-down policies.” And she
claimed the “Turkish establishment elite had a very hollow understanding of
secularism which summed up to a system of discrimination pressure and exclusion
of all that had to do with religion while celebrating, promoting and imitating
all that was Western.”
AKP that has ruled Turkey under Erdogan’s leadership since 2002 has been
responsible for widespread suppression of civil society and press freedoms
especially since the 2016 coup attempt to overthrow the government.
JI and similar Islamist organizations are “violent theocratic groups that have
committed violent acts against minority Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and
Ahmadi Muslims,” U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., said last month during a Hudson
Institute panel discussion on JI’s dangerous Islamist agenda in Bangladesh and
Pakistan. The IPT participated in the event. Banks mentioned a recently introduced
bipartisan resolution that called on the United States Agency for International
Development (USAID) and the State Department “to halt all partnerships and
funding arrangements” with the JI.
light JI’s violent Islamist agenda, Turkey’s sponsorship of its activities in
Bangladesh and Pakistan and those of its proxy groups in the U.S., not only
stymies efforts to bring security and stability in South Asia, but also
frustrates U.S. efforts to rein in rising Islamism at home.
There are film stars and there are real-life heroes. Combine the two on the
silver screen and a blockbuster is in the making.
a King” is the remarkable true story of a 13-year-old Saudi prince dispatched
to Britain on a high-stakes diplomatic mission to secure the formation of his
Faisal, who was later to become king of Saudi Arabia, is the young hero sent by
his father to lead negotiations in London with the fate of his nation resting
on his shoulders.
in 1919, this extraordinary new movie was partly shot in Riyadh, and was
co-produced by Saudi-born American filmmaker Todd Albert Nims.
News caught up with Nims during the Winter Enrichment Program (WEP) at King
Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and spoke to him about
his role in the production.
said he was inspired to take part in filming the story of King Faisal the
is an important story to be told, especially at this young age, a 13-year-old
boy going on this diplomatic mission, where the fate of the country hangs in
the balance. It is quite unique.
felt this was not just a story that I would enjoy, but one that international
audiences and Saudi Arabians would too,” he said.
film tells how Prince Faisal (played by Abdullah Khaleel) negotiates with some
of the pre-eminent figures of the age, including Lord Curzon and Winston
Churchill, while forming a friendship with Princess Mary who helps guide him
through the corridors of power.
main shooting (of the film) started in 2016 and was completed by the end of
that year,” said Nims. However, additional filming was required over eight
weeks in London and three weeks in Riyadh, and he said “Born a King” was now
being prepared for cinema release.
of the release has created a major stir on social media, with a one-minute
trailer going viral.
said that one of the greatest challenges faced by the film’s producers was
finding a cast that looked like the main characters.
majority of the cast playing Saudis are from Saudi Arabia,” he said. “But it
took about a year to do the Saudi casting... The film includes hundreds of
participants from the Kingdom.
to find an ‘Abdul Aziz’ was the most difficult because he was 6 feet 4 inches
tall with huge hands, so trying to find an actor that is that tall or very tall
was almost impossible. Also, finding a Saudi actor for the part, in a country
where the film industry is still developing, was really difficult.
was a similar problem casting the young Faisal. To act at the age of 13 is
tough already and to find someone who looks the same (was difficult), because
they are actual historical figures,” Nims added.
was a huge film to bring (together); many people from different nationalities
all working together but speaking different languages such as English, Arabic
and Spanish. It was a challenge.”
has a production company of his own in Riyadh called Empty Quarter
Entertainment and is currently working on a new horror movie in the south of
is also behind a film called Joud that tells the story of Saudi Arabia and its
culture and will be screened in cinemas throughout the country.
Arabic-language website of Sputnik news agency quoted a military source in the
town of al-Tabaqah in Western Raqqa as saying that a mass-grave containing the
Syrian army soldiers was discovered in the village of Sharidah al-Qarbiyah.
added that 7 corpses have been taken out of the mass-grave so far, noting that
they were slain by the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) terrorists in 2013.
a medical source said that based on preliminary tests, the Syrian soldiers had
gone under torture before being killed.
President Bashar al-Assad has revoked multiple entry visas for European Union
diplomats and officials traveling regularly to Damascus, senior EU diplomats
senior EU diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Thursday that
they believed the move was an attempt to make European governments and the bloc
re-open their diplomatic missions in the Syrian capital.
is a measure that hits diplomats and staff of European government embassies and
the European Union institutions,” commented an EU diplomat.
European Commission later confirmed that the Syrian government had suspended
that is true,” the commission’s spokeswoman, Maja Kocijancic, said at a
briefing, adding that the Bashar al-Assad government has “suspended multiple
entry visas. In that context, we are continuing as the EU, in contact with
member states, to do whatever we can to avoid it having an impact on the
important work we are doing on the ground.”
EU has used the Lebanese capital Beirut as its diplomatic base while shuttering
most embassies in Damascus ever since foreign-sponsored militancy broke out in
Syria in March 2011.
bloc imposed a fresh round of economic sanctions on the Damascus government on
Monday, saying that it would not shift its policy until a political transition
away from Assad was underway.
EU slapped sanctions on Syria’s state-run Scientific Studies and Research
Center (SSRC) as well as five of its staff over what it calls the use of
batch of Syrian refugees return to homeland from Lebanon
hundreds of Syrian refugees returned on Thursday to their homeland from various
areas in neighboring Lebanon.
return of refugees took place under the supervision of Lebanon's General
Security in cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner
returned home using buses sent by Syrian authorities and arrived at
al-Dabbousia and Jdeidet Yabous border crossings.
refugees underwent medical checks and polio vaccines were administered to
children. They were then transferred to Syria’s central provinces of Homs and
Hama in addition to areas on the outskirts of Damascus.
Sunday, Lebanese President Michel Aoun urged world powers to “make all efforts”
to help the repatriation of Syrian refugees as Damascus forces continue to
liberate the country from the clutches of foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorist
calls on the international community to make all efforts possible and provide
suitable conditions for a safe return of displaced Syrians,” Aoun told an Arab
economic summit in Beirut, noting that Lebanon would suggest solutions for safe
refugee returns in the meeting's final statement.
than one million Syrian refugees are registered with the UN refugee agency,
UNHCR, in Lebanon.
activists in Raqqa reported on Thursday that hundreds of residents of the town
of al-Mansoureh in Southwestern Raqqa staged massive protest rallies against
the SDF and set fire at some of their checkpoints and bases in the town.
added that the protest rallies were held after a young resident of the region was
killed by the SDF during forced recruitment operations.
sources said that similar rallies were also held in the towns of Hanideh,
al-Safsafeh and Mazra'at al-Safsafeh region, adding that the residents
surrounded the US-backed forces' strongholds.
the SDF sent a large number of forces and military equipment from Raqqa city
and the town of al-Tabaqah to al-Mansoureh, wounding a number of civilians with
bullet fire to disperse the angry crowd.
of Raqqa and Hasaka have many times held uprising against the US occupiers and
their allies in Raqqa region.
last month, a large number of people poured into the street in a key town in
Northeastern Hasaka, calling for the withdrawal of the US and Turkish troops
and their allied militants from their region.
reported that a large number of civilians, social activists and parties in the
town of Qamishli took to the streets, opposing occupation of the region by the
US and Turkish troops.
further said that the protestors condemned a visit by the former French Foreign
Minister to al-Jazeerah region controlled by the SDF, calling for independence
of the Syrian parties from the US policies and asking for their affiliation to
made an aborted attempt to retake a village from US-backed forces in eastern
Syria Thursday, a monitor said, leaving 50 fighters dead on both sides.
failed assault came a day after the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who are
backed by the US-led coalition, took the village of Baghouz from ISIS.
Thursday, the group launched a counterattack including at least three suicide
bombers wearing explosive belts against SDF fighters, the Syrian Observatory
for Human Rights said.
SDF and 34 ISIS fighters were killed in the assault aimed at retaking the
village near the Iraqi border, the Britain-based monitor said.
further “21 ISIS fighters were taken prisoner as they tried to open up a gap”
in defenses and make an escape towards Iraq, Observatory chief Rami Abdel
SDF have since September been whittling away at a pocket of territory on the
eastern banks of the Euphrates River in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.
latest advance by the US-backed group has left the last diehard ISIS fighters
holed up in scattered farmhouses near the Euphrates.
of people, mostly women and children, have fled into SDF-held territory in
recent days, according to the Observatory.
overran large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, declaring a
“caliphate”, but they have since lost almost all of it to various offensives.
string of bomb attacks have stricken several towns in northwestern Syria,
killing three people and injuring nearly a dozen others.
blasts took place on Thursday after explosive-laden motorbikes were detonated,
Reuters reported, citing a resident and witnesses.
said the fatalities included a woman, a child, and a young man, who died after
one device exploded near a public park at the heart of the city of al-Bab,
north of Aleppo. The explosion also wounded at least eight others.
people were also injured in the nearby towns of Qabasin and al- Ghandurah by
Wednesday, two explosive devices were detonated in the city of Afrin.
Turkey-backed militants there accused the Kurdish People’s Protection Units
(YPG) of carrying out the blasts.
was no immediate comment from the YPG.
which has been maintaining a military presence in northern Syria, without a
Damascus permission, to push the militants back from the vicinity of its
border, associates the YPG with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant
on Thursday, a car bomb went off in Syria’s capital Damascus, inflicting
material damage but causing no casualties.
incident took place in the city’s al-Adawi neighborhood just north of the
central Old City district on Thursday, the official Syrian Arab News Agency
witness said the blast occurred near a hospital and security forces were
examining a blown-up blue car in the street,” Reuters reported.
so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in the UK, claimed that
the explosion had occurred near the Russian embassy, lightly wounding four
Sunday, a bomb exploded near a highway at the edge of Damascus and authorities
arrested one attacker. The Observatory alleged at the time that the attack had
taken place near a military intelligence office, killing and wounding an
unspecified number of people.
foreign-backed militancy has claimed thousands of lives, but has largely been
warded off over the past three years with the help of Damascus’ allies, Russia
Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies
are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the country.
admissions have been trickling in from some of those same countries that the
government of President Bashar al-Assad has regained control of the country.
expert to lead international inquiry into Khashoggi murder
United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary
executions told Reuters on Thursday she will travel to Turkey next week to head
an “independent international inquiry” into the murder of Saudi journalist
a columnist for the Washington Post and a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin
Salman, was killed and dismembered by Saudi agents at its consulate in Istanbul
on Oct 2, provoking an international outcry.
on Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said it was time for an
international investigation and that President Tayyip Erdogan had ordered
preparations to be made.
will be heading an independent international inquiry into the killing of Saudi
journalist Mr. Jamal Khashoggi, commencing with a visit to Turkey from 28
January to 3 February 2019,” independent UN investigator Agnes Callamard said
in an email reply to Reuters in Geneva.
said that she would evaluate the circumstances of the crime, and “the nature
and the extent of states’ and individuals’ responsibilities for the killing”.
findings and recommendations will be reported to the UN Human Rights Council at
the June 2019 session,” she said.
inquiry was being conducted at her request and three experts would accompany
her, with forensic expertise amongst other skills, she said, declining to name
them for now.
was no immediate word on whether the team had sought access to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi public prosecutor’s spokesman said last year that 21 Saudis were taken
into custody in relation to the case, 11 of whom have been indicted and
referred to trial. Earlier this month the prosecutor said it was seeking the
death penalty for five of the 11 detained suspects.
a French academic who is director of the Columbia Global Freedom of Expression
initiative at Columbia University in New York, reports to the UN Human Rights
Council in Geneva and has a global mandate to investigate executions.
A Muslim party said it would launch a legal bid to change the name of Bosnia's
Serb region, enraging all Serbian parties in the volatile country and prompting
calls for calm from the European Union.
largest Bosnian Muslim party, SDA, said on Wednesday the name Republika Srpska
(Serb Republic) discriminated against Bosniaks and Croats there, and it would
challenge it in the constitutional court.
the 1995 Dayton peace accords that ended Bosnia's 1992-95 war, the country is
split into two highly autonomous regions, the Serb-dominated Serb Republic and
the Federation dominated by Muslim Bosniaks and Croats, linked via a weak
leader Bakir Izetbegovic said the legal challenge was a response to
"intensified attacks on Bosnia and its integrity" by Bosnian Serb
nationalist leader Milorad Dodik.
who heads the Serb SNSD party, said the initiative was anti-constitutional and
that Serbs will halt their work in the central government.
the appeal is accepted, we will call a special session of the Republika Srpska
National Assembly at which we will decide about the future status of the RS
(Serb Republic)," Dodik said after meeting other Serb politicians. He
currently chairs Bosnia's inter-ethnic three-man presidency as its Serb member.
EU delegation in Bosnia issued a statement saying: "We call on all
political parties to refrain from political manoeuvres aimed at distracting
attention from the real issues facing Bosnia.
statements and actions ... will not facilitate the formation of new authorities
at a crucial moment for the country's EU path," the delegation added.
is hoping to become an EU candidate later this year.
international peace overseer Valentin Inzko said the name challenge "in
the midst of discussions on government formation is irresponsible and
counterproductive, and further undermines the trust between constituent peoples
and their political representatives".
parliamentary and presidential elections in October, a dispute between Serb,
Croat and Bosniak presidency members over Bosnia's integration into NATO has
delayed the formation of the central government.
United States and Britain said on Thursday that Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro is
not legitimate, while Russia and Turkey expressed their support to the legal
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro not to use
force against mass demonstrations and urged further international support for
the self-declared acting president.
time for debate is done. The regime of former president Nicolas Maduro is
illegitimate," Pompeo said.
regime is morally bankrupt, it's economically incompetent, and it is profoundly
corrupt, and it is undemocratic to the core," he said.
said Nicolas Maduro was "not the legitimate leader of Venezuela" and
that London would support the presidential claim made by opposition leader Juan
United Kingdom believes Juan Guaido is the right person to take Venezuela forward.
We are supporting the US, Canada, Brazil and Argentina to make that
happen," Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a statement.
President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas
Maduro and expressed support, the Kremlin said.
President of Russia expressed support for the legitimate authorities of
Venezuela in the context of a domestic political crisis that has been provoked
from the outside," it said.
said that any intervention by other countries "violates the fundamental
norms of international law," according to the statement.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan phoned Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to
offer support, and said he was shocked that Washington had backed the
opposition leader's move to declare himself interim leader.
Richard Boath, an ex-Barclays boss on trial on fraud allegations, said the bank
would be "basically dead" without a Qatari cash injection in 2008, a
prosecutor said on Thursday.
Serious Fraud Office prosecutor told the trial of Barclays' ex-chief executive
John Varley and three former senior executives that Qatar had played hardball
as the British bank struggled to shore up its balance sheet during the
£1 billion, at the very least, from Q (Qatar) we are basically dead,"
Boath told his Barclays line manager on May 28, 2008, in a communication read
out in Southwark Crown Court by prosecutor Edward Brown on the second day of
CEO Varley, Roger Jenkins, Tom Kalaris and Boath deny conspiring to commit
fraud by false representations when Barclays raised more than £11 billion ($14
billion) from investors in 2008, allowing it to avert a British state bailout.
allege the bankers hid from public documents around £322 million in secret fees
paid to the Qatari investors as they fought to meet their tough demands.
former chairman for the Middle East of the BarCap business, was the
"gatekeeper for Qatar", Brown said, adding that when the Gulf state
said it might invest at least £1 billion in May 2008, there was initial delight
my day. Know we have to get it over the line, but it's a great starting point
for the conversation," Varley told Bob Diamond, the American executive who
later replaced him as CEO, around May 13, 2008 in communications read out in
this was short-lived after Qatar asked first for a fee of 3.75 percent in
return for investing - substantially above the 1.5 percent Barclays was
offering other investors - before settling on 3.25 percent, the prosecution
to structure this deal proved a headache, Brown added, because all investors
had to be offered the same terms.
case hinges in part on whether so-called advisory services agreements were for
genuine services to be provided by Qatar or a means for Barclays to pay extra
fees it demanded.
of telephone and email conversations between Barclays executives at the time
show the bankers debating the bank's vulnerable condition and the need to get
the Qatari investment at all costs, the prosecution alleged.
got us by the balls because the price is so low," Boath told a senior
colleague, referring to Qatar's tough stance and the bank's low share price.
of the executives also joked about the possibility of going to jail if the
Qatari deal did not play by the rules.
On paper, the two men couldn't be much more different.
Tjahaja Purnama, widely known as Ahok, is an ethnically-Chinese Christian
former governor of Jakarta who was released from jail on Thursday after serving
nearly two years for blasphemy.
other man, Abu Bakar Bashir, is an 81-year-old firebrand cleric and spiritual
leader of the Bali bombers who is much better known to Australians.
was set for a shock early release from jail on Wednesday, though that move was
scotched at the last minute after Indonesian President Joko Widodo faced a
significant backlash from moderate supporters.
release of Ahok and ongoing detention of Bashir has dominated Indonesian news
for the last week, and played out against the back drop of simultaneous
Presidential and parliamentary election campaigns which will conclude on April
through Australian eyes, it may seem that the week's events can be neatly
summed up as delivering a victory for the forces of modernity and moderation in
Indonesia and a blow to the more conservative, hardline forces.
isn't as simple as that.
state ideology, Pancasila, emphasises pluralism and tolerance.
Islamist groups are playing an increasingly influential role in the political
system of Australia's near-northern neighbour and that trend shows no sign of
country's blasphemy laws, used so effectively against Ahok, have become
in the last year a woman was jailed for complaining the call to prayer from her
local mosque was too loud; the daughter of the country's first president
Sukarno was threatened with jail for allegedly insulting the Prophet in a poem
(she delivered a grovelling apology); and a Christian student in Sumatra was
jailed for a Facebook post that insulted the Prophet. These are just some
the same time, graves with Christian crosses on them were desecrated earlier
this month in central Java and the local government in the town of Surakarta
caved to public pressure to erase a mosaic (which was designed by a Muslim)
that critics argued was shaped like a cross and therefore was offensive.
while the President made a plea for tolerance during his state of the nation
address last August, his selection of ageing Muslim cleric Ma'ruf Amin to be
his vice presidential running mate highlights - as the would-be release of
Bashir does - just how nervous the popular politician is that conservative
Islamic forces will line up against him and help ensure his opponent Prabowo
Subianto is elected.
commentators have suggested the protestations of Australian Prime Minister
Scott Morrison over Bashir's release played a significant part in Widodo's
change of heart (though the Prime Minister, to be fair to him, has claimed no
are kidding themselves.
is still in bad odour in Jakarta because of last year's Israeli embassy move
thought-bubble, the much-hyped free trade deal is still on ice and vice
presidential candidate Amin, current vice president Jusuf Kalla and senior cabinet
minister Luhut all suggested Australia should simply butt out on the Bashir
embassy brouhaha is just the latest speed bump in a relationship that is often
fraught - the live cattle ban, boat turn-backs and the execution of two members
of the Bali Nine are examples from the last decade.
was primarily domestic politics and domestic disquiet - from nationalist forces
inside the government defending Pancasila, and from moderate supporters of the
President who swiftly took to social media to complain - that caused Widodo to
backflip and decide he couldn't, after all, bend the rule of law to release
Bashir and suit his own need to appeal to conservative Muslim voters.
as a supporter of the opposition put it neatly on Facebook, before Widodo
reversed course on the release, "I'm happy Bashir is being released but
I'm not changing my vote from Prabowo".
other words, there was little political dividend for Widodo in backing the
release of Bashir even before he backflipped.
Widodo succeeded in both temporarily alienating his base of moderates and
nationalists and then infuriating the more conservative voters he was
attempting to pander to.
Ahok, in a lengthy letter penned on the eve of his release, said he was happy
to have lost his bid for re-election as governor in April 2017, and to have
served his time in jail as it had made him a better, less arrogant person.
where was there a suggestion of anger or regret from Ahok that he had been
unfairly jailed for commenting on a verse in the Koran.
the short term, the Ahok and Bashir cases are a reminder that Jakarta politics
will remain febrile until the presidential election is held - so Canberra
should tread carefully.
in the longer term, they are a reminder the growing influence of political
Islam in Indonesia means we will need to recalibrate our understanding of our
LUMPUR ― Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak is taking a leaf from Dr
Mahathir Mohamad’s playbook to stage his political comeback as prime minister,
according to Democratic Action Party (DAP) adviser Lim Kit Siang.
Iskandar Puteri MP said Mr Najib has taken on a major role for Barisan Nasional
(BN) in the Cameron Highlands parliamentary by-election as its
“campaigner-in-chief” after stepping down as its chairman, overshadowing the
current leaders, because of his designs to regain Putrajaya.
Najib deny that he is in fact asking the voters of Cameron Highlands to
spearhead a ‘Save Najib’ campaign to culminate in a Barisan Nasional victory in
15th General Election and his return as Prime Minister?”
motive in the Cameron Highlands by-election is clear ― to use a BN victory in
Cameron Highlands as a launching pad for a national ‘Save Najib’ campaign,
culminating in the next general election in 2023 for Najib to stage a political
comeback and like Tun Mahathir to become the Prime Minister in Malaysia for a
second time,” Mr Lim said in a statement on Friday (Jan 25).
Mahathir first served as prime minister from 1981 to 2003 under Barisan
Nasional (BN). He returned to active politics nearly 15 years later and became
prime minister for a second time after winning the Langkawi parliamentary seat
DAP adviser, dubbed the “minister of Najib affairs” by the former prime
minister himself, has said the Cameron Highlands vote tomorrow is really a
fight between Pakatan Harapan candidate M. Manogaran and Mr Najib, rather than
with the Orang Asli pensioned policeman named Ramli Mohd Noor the BN is
noted that Mr Najib has not made clear that he would not strive for the prime
ministership again after losing it in last year’s general election. Instead, Mr
Najib has posted a video clip on Facebook where he and a group belted out a
revised version of Singaporean group Black Dog Bone's 1978 hit Hati Ku Luka
Lagi, painting himself a victim of political persecution by Pakatan Harapan ahead
of his trial over the 1Malaysia Development Berhad grand heist.
Lim also pointed out that Mr Najib had promised to become a prime minister “of
all Malaysians” when he rose to the post in 2009, but has been flashing the
racial card in the Cameron Highlands campaign, yesterday dismissing PH’s ethnic
Indian candidate as incapable of protecting the interests of Malay Muslims in
the country — unlike BN and PAS.
Najib saying that a Muslim Prime Minister is not capable of defending the
interests of non-Muslim Malaysians? Why can’t non-Muslim political leaders
defend the interests of Muslim Malaysians?
and why has Najib developed such a forked tongue and propensity for hypocrisy?
the former MPs for Cameron Highlands Malays and Muslims?” Mr Lim challenged.
Cameron Highlands by-election was called after the Election Court voided Datuk
C. Sivarraajh’s victory in the May 9 election last year on the basis of
constituency has been held by BN’s Indian component party MIC since it was created
in 2003, but in a first, the coalition decided to field a candidate of another
ethnicity and chose Mr Ramli.
bakar basyir founded Jemaah Islamiah, the group responsible for Indonesia’s
deadliest terrorist attack. In 2002 bombs ripped through two nightspots packed
with revellers on the island of Bali, killing 202. Between 2003 and 2009 ji
staged four more large bombings in Indonesia, claiming more than 50 lives. Many
of its members are dead or behind bars, including Mr Basyir, its chief
ideologue, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2011 for financing a terrorist
January 18th, however, Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, known as Jokowi,
said that the 81-year-old preacher would be released early on “humanitarian”
grounds, owing to poor health. Yusril Mahendra, a legal adviser to Jokowi, said
the decision was proof that the president is not hostile to devout Muslims.
a Muslim himself, is standing for re-election in April. His political opponents
have long smeared him as troublingly irreligious. To counter those claims,
Jokowi has chosen Ma’ruf Amin, a prominent 75-year-old cleric, as his
running-mate this time. Other conservative figures have been put on the
government payroll in an attempt to quell their criticism. Many saw Jokowi’s
decision to free Mr Basyir as another attempt to appease the Islamists—even
though there was no great clamour for his release.
Mr Basyir has never renounced violent extremism. He refuses to accept
pancasila, Indonesia’s founding principles, which enshrine democracy and a
degree of freedom of religion—normally a precondition for convicted terrorists
seeking clemency. Mr Basyir’s son said that his father would resume preaching
if released. Sidney Jones, an expert on Indonesian militants, thinks Mr
Basyir’s status would be elevated if he were set free: “It would send a message
that promoting violence, rejecting democracy and spreading hatred of
non-Muslims are all forgivable.”
of Malaysia's royal families on Thursday elected Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad
Shah as the new king, following the unexpected abdication of the previous
Abdullah, 59, ruler of the central state of Pahang, will formally take over the
throne on Jan. 31 for a five-year term, the keeper of the rulers' seal said in
is a constitutional monarchy with the king assuming a largely ceremonial role,
including acting as custodian of Islam in the Muslim-majority country. The
king's assent is needed for the appointment of a prime minister and various
nine royal households take turns to provide a king, who is chosen through a
vote in a Council of Rulers, made up of the nine households, most of which are
led by a sultan.
king is elected for a five-year term.
head of the Pahang royal family was next in line in take over from the former
king, Sultan Muhammad V, who is the head of the state of Kelantan.
Muhammad abdicated this month after just two years on the throne, the first
time a monarch had stepped down before completing their tenure.
reason was given for his decision, which came after images purporting to show him
getting married in Russia appeared on social media in December. Posts
identified his new wife as Oksana Voevodina, who won a Miss Moscow contest in
new king, Sultan Abdullah, succeeded his ailing father as ruler of Pahang last
ascent to the Pahang throne, was seen as a sign that he would take over as the
Jew flying to Israel echoes in Senate
Prime Minister Imran Khan came under criticism in the Senate on Thursday for
reportedly allowing a Pakistani Jew to travel to Israel on a Pakistani passport
in which it is clearly written that “it is valid for all the countries except
Israel”. On a point of public
importance, former chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani said that a Pakistani
citizen who is a Jew, had been allowed by the Foreign Office to travel to Israel
after the Prime Minister Secretariat approved the case. The News had carried
the story about Fishel Khalid, 31.
contended that the Jew, who is a Pakistani passport holder, had been allowed to
travel to Israel despite the fact that the green passport is not valid for
Israel, adding, “If so, the PM Office permitted him, as claimed by the Foreign
Office and some weeks back, there was a tweet, an Israeli plane landed at
Islamabad, stayed for few hours and then left”.
the situation and a categorical travel ban to Israel, Rabbani questioned that
if there was any such move that Pakistan was contemplating upon softening its
position towards Israel, at least the parliament needed to know about it.
said, “we have been saying this all along that this parliament is the only
place where such major policy decisions and policy shifts, if they are taking
place [as] I’m still giving the benefit of doubt to the story, but it needs to
dubbed the issue as highly sensitive and said that it was clearly mentioned
that how the Foreign Office and Prime Minister Office had given their nod,
allowing the local Jew to travel to Israel.
contended that if there was a shift in Pakistan’s foreign policy towards
appeasement or there was some back channel diplomacy, which is opened with
Israel, the parliament should at least be taken into confidence.
emphasised, “if the foreign policy of the country is not formulated in the
parliament, where else it should be framed? The foreign minister had claimed
that foreign policy will be formulated here but we know that it is not framed
at the Foreign Office”.
said that if the foreign policy was not framed at the Foreign Office, the
government should at least take the parliament into confidence if it was going
to take such a huge strategic change with regard to the foreign policy.
called on the Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani to seek a reply from the Foreign
Office regarding the controversy, on which the Chairman sought a written
clarification from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
this occasion, the Leader of the House, Shibli Faraz seconded Rabbani’s
observations, saying there was a restricted clause in the passport, which does
not allow a Pakistani national to travel to Israel. He also said there was a
need to know under which rule, the Foreign Ministry allowed the Jew to travel
a calling attention by Senator Kabir Shahi for reducing the size of Public
Sector Development Programme (PSDP) from Rs950 billion to Rs675 billion, the
Minister for Planning and Development Khusro Bakhtiar said that in the first
PSDP of this government, which would be approved in next fiscal budget in June,
Balochistan would be given top most priority.
minister said that 2017-18 development plan was of Rs800 billion and not of
Rs950 billion where Balochistan had some share, which was reduced as fiscal
deficit target for 2017-18 of the previous year was 4.6 of the GDP but the
government left it at 6.6 percent; hence their budgetary deficit went up by
Rs750 billion from the target they had set.
order to please Balochistan and other parts of the country, during the last
month of their government’s five-year tenure, he added, the previous government
of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) placed 373 unapproved projects in the
PSDP which, if undertaken, could have cost Rs2 trillion to complete the
went on to say that the contradiction of the previous PML-N government was
self-explanatory as it had placed Rs2 trillion projects and allocation was Rs55
billion, which if continued, had taken 40 years to complete these projects.
the total allocation for Balochistan was Rs7.4 billion. We took a policy
decision as we’d no resources and our fiscal deficit had gone up due to which
we took a policy decision to streamline things and dropped all the unapproved
projects,” he added.
October 2018, after dropping the projects, he added, the government wrote to
all the concerned ministries to prioritise all projects which had been dropped,
as it will be included in budget 2019-20.
maintained that uplift of Balochistan is the top priority of PTI government,
adding the previous government had allocated Rs7.4 billion which was a peanut,
and the government will announce ten times
development schemes for Balochistan in the next budget.
government’s priorities for uplift of Balochistan, he said that Western
Corridor, DI Khan-Zhob and Quetta-Zhob road projects are some of the major
projects which were taken in the 7th Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) held in
December last year.
said that Rs17 billion will be given to lay transmission lines in Makran
division and Gwadar coast in the next budget, adding Awaran road which has been
under construction since 1990 is also a priority of the government.
minister said that water is one of the major issues for the backwardness of
Balochistan, for which an integrated programme in collaboration with the
provincial government will be launched to complete Kachhi Canal project on
which Rs80 billion have so far been spent.
to a meeting with Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission
(SUPARCO) – the national space agency – he said that the agency has been
directed to identify points through satellite imagery for construction of 100
dams for water catchment.
said the government is going to launch a programme to run 30000 tube wells in
the province to overcome the lines and transmission losses.
of Opposition Raja Muhammad Zafarul Haq and Raza Rabbani stopped State Minister
for Revenue Hammad Azhar from responding to some of the issues raised by the
opposition senators, saying the minister could only conclude the debate on the
agitated Shibli Faraz, who rose to insist there was no such rule, which bars a
minister from speaking during a debate on the money bill. Terming some of the
points raised by opposition lawmakers as propaganda against the mini-budget, he
said the minister should respond to them on the spot or else it will tarnish
the image of the government.
part in debate on the mini-budge, Senator Usman Khan Kakar of PkMAP said that
finance minister had benefited the multinational companies and he was promoting
their agenda. He said a man who spent his whole life serving multinational
companies, had no idea of the country’s economy, due to which he was presenting
mini-budget after every three months which should stop, as it just to crush the
treasury lawmakers were all praise for the mini-budget, saying the fragile
economy which they had been inherited, had finally taken off due to prudent
polices of the government. Senator Faisal Javed said that the measures, which
the PTI had taken to boost the economy, will bear fruit in years to come.
Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri has come down hard on those
responsible for the Model Town incident, saying they are trying to confuse the
incident with the Sahiwal killings to conceal their crimes.
a statement on Thursday, he said the Sahiwal incident was reprehensible and
those responsible for it must face the music, however, it was beyond doubt that
the Sharif brothers were planners of Model Town incident and they used police
as a tool. He said Shahbaz Sharif had created a lot of hurdles in the impartial
investigation into the Model Town incident as heirs of victims were not allowed
to file first information reports, cases were registered against the witnesses
under the Anti-Terrorism Act and they were intimidated; forensic survey of
crime scene was never held and Shahbaz Sharif even concealed Justice Baqar
Naqvi commission report.
Qadri said before this report, on June 17, 2014, Shahbaz Sharif had bragged
during a press conference that he would resign if Justice Baqar Naqvi
commission had him responsible while the commission held him and his government
anti-terrorism court summoned IG Mushtaq Sukhera, DIG Rana Abdul Jabbar and
other police officers in the Model Town case but former chief minister rewarded
them with promotions and posting of their choice. They were not even
transferred as punishment.”
SC to Hear Review Petition In Aasia Bibi Blasphemy Case Next Week
The Supreme Court of Pakistan will hear next week a review petition against its
decision that overturned the conviction of Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman who
had spent nearly a decade on death row for false blasphemy accusation. A three-member
bench headed by the newly appointed Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa will take up
the plea on Tuesday.
apex court had cleared Bibi of all blasphemy charges in October last year and
ordered authorities to release her from prison. The incumbent chief justice was
also part of the three-member bench that had ordered Bibi’s release. Her
acquittal, however, sparked countrywide protests led by Khadim Hussain Rizvi,
an extremist leader of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan, an Islamist party. The
protests were called off after the TLP reached an agreement with the
government, the foremost condition of which was to place Bibi’s name on the
Exit Control List, to prevent her from leaving Pakistan. The government also
agreed not to oppose any review petitions filed against the SC verdict. On
November 1, a review plea was filed by Qari Muhammad Salam at the Lahore
registry of the SC to reconsider its decision.
jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif used prominent Urdu poet Mirza
Ghalib’s poetry to explain his condition when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz
leaders visited him in the Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore on Thursday.
69, who is serving a seven-year imprisonment in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail, was
rushed to a hospital Tuesday after he complained of heart related
complications. He was later discharged from the hospital and taken back to jail
following the medical tests. The Jail administration has fixed Thursday as
meeting day for visitors.
the visitors asked him about his heath, the incarcerated PML-N supreme leader
said, “Un ke dekhey se jo ajati hai munh par rounaq, Woh samajhtey hain ke
beemar ka haal achcha hai,” Geo News reported.
said he is not shown any list of visitors by jail administration. “I welcome
anyone who comes here,” he was quoted by Geo News as saying.
his conversation with the PMLN leaders, Sharif said he took measures for
economic development and betterment of the country but the current situation
three-time former prime minister said he left no stone unturned for
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor for Pakistan’s prosperity, adding that it
would be great loss to the country if the CPEC is halted.
The federal cabinet on Thursday approved formation of the Pakistan Media
Regulatory Authority (PMRA) that envisages merger of all bodies regulating
media, including the print and electronic media.
a separate meeting that was also attended by Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar
Javed Bajwa, the government approved a new visa regime under which nationals of
about 60 countries would be granted visa on arrival at Pakistani airports.
the backdrop of the tragic incident in Sahiwal in which three members of a
family were killed in a police operation, Prime Minister Imran Khan decided to
revamp Punjab police on the pattern of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police.
the formation of PMRA, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra)
and the Press Council of Pakistan (PCP) would be merged into the new
a press conference, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that not only the
electronic media, but also print and “cyber media” would come under the
umbrella of PMRA.
said the government believed that there should be one regulatory authority to
look after all the media, and the same laws should apply across the board.
Curbs on media?
minister, however, said the government would take the opposition and all bodies
representing journalists on board while making rules for the new regulatory
critics claim that after putting electronic media in crisis by cutting down the
rates of their advertisements, the government wants to rein in the print media.
Chaudhry said the government had decided to relax the visa rules for 60
countries whose nationals would be given Pakistani visas on arrival. “Such a
massive change in the country’s visa regime has never taken place in the past,”
expressed the hope that the step would help increase foreign investment and
improve ties with other countries. “We are going to open Pakistan to foreign
journalists, businessmen, tourists and investors,” he added.
a separate decision, the cabinet approved application of the Pakistan Essential
Services (Maintenance) Act, 1952 to all classes of employment under the
Pakistan International Airlines Company Limited, Pakistan Security Printing
Corporation and Security Papers Limited. The step has been taken to improve
performance of the organisations.
cabinet also approved a summary allowing a 10 per cent increase in the pension
of senior citizens.
meeting also approved the reconstitution of Pemra’s council of complaints in
Lahore and Balochistan.
the Prime Minister’s Naya Pakistan Housing Project, the cabinet approved
supplementary grant for release of funds to the Pakistan Mortgage Refinance
Company Limited, equal amount of $58 million obtained from World Bank as fist
tranche of credit line of $140m for the company.
revamping of Punjab police, Mr Khan decided to revisit the Police Act and turn
100 police stations in the province into “model police stations”.
After receiving a SOS call from the embassy of China, which a police officer
said was unjustified, the capital police, paramilitary troops and the army
along with emergency and rescue officials reached the premises within minutes.
once in the embassy located in Diplomatic Enclave, the law enforcement agencies
were informed that the alarm had been sent out only to check the response time
and preparedness of the departments.
senior police officer, who requested anonymity, was of the view that the
embassy cannot check the response time and preparedness of the law enforcement
agencies or send out such an alarm.
buttons are installed in embassies to seek help in a disaster or emergency
situation, not to check our preparations or performance,” the officer
he added, there was no need for checking the preparedness of the law
enforcement agencies and the rescue department since a mock exercise had
already been conducted in the Chinese embassy last month.
mock exercise conducted in the embassy in December was planned by a senior
police officer and the diplomats had been informed about it in advance, he
around 3:15pm on Thursday, alarms installed at the offices of senior police
officers and paramilitary troops started ringing, another officer said. Shortly
afterward, a massage was aired through the police communication system about
the SOS call from the embassy.
Quick Response Force reached the embassy within three minutes, he said.
Officers of the police commandoes, Anti-Terrorism Force, Bomb Disposal Squad,
Counter-Terrorism Force, Rangers, Special Branch, Crime Investigation
Department, Crime Investigation Agency and the Islamabad Traffic Police reached
the embassy within 20 minutes,
officials from 111 Brigade also reached the embassy, he said.
the officials and the rescue teams cordoned off the enclave, the embassy staff
informed them that the SOS call was made to check the response of the
mock exercise was conducted there and later the teams returned to their
stations, said the officer.
police spokesman said an emergency call was made by the Chinese embassy to
check the response of the police to tackle any untoward situation. Soon after
the call, he added, the law enforcement agencies reached the spot.
purpose of this rehearsal was to check preparations of law enforcers to tackle
an untoward situation.”
said officials of the Chinese embassy thanked the personnel while DIG
(security) Waqar Ahmed Chohan appreciated the performance of the law
enforcement agencies for responding quickly.
embassy spokesman Yang Ming could not be contacted for comments.
envoys of Afghan Taliban and US made progress in peace talks in Qatar on fourth
day on Thursday and a Taliban official was hopeful of ‘a deal coming very
sides are involved in talks since Monday in Doha. US peace envoy Zalmay
Khalilzad leads an 11-member delegation and in-charge of Taliban political
office in Qatar Sher Abbas Stanekzai is heading an eight-member team of
political envoys, a Taliban official told Daily Times. “The Americans are
urging the Taliban to commit that they would not allow Afghan soil to pose
threat to the US and other countries in the future and we will undertake it
will not happen,” he further said.
familiar with the peace negotiations say Pakistan has played a key role in
revival of US-Taliban talks that faced some problems in the recent weeks. This
is for the first time that the US-Taliban talks have entered the fourth day and
sources privy to the negotiations have attached much hopes to the ongoing
is also participating in the ongoing talks, Foreign Office spokesman Dr Faisal
confirmed on Thursday. “Yes Pakistan is present in Qatar,” he said at a weekly
briefing, when asked if Pakistan is participating in the talks. “Pakistan’s
role and position is very clear: all matters should be resolved through
political dialogue and negotiations,” he added.
Taliban leadership council has appointed senior leader Mullah Abdul Ghani
Baradar as head of the political office, in a move aimed at winning support of
the military commanders and foot soldiers for peace process with the US.
freed Mullah Baradar, the former deputy chief of the Taliban, in October last
year ‘in line with its commitment to facilitate peace process in Afghanistan’.
Office spokesman Dr Faisal had stated at that time that Baradar was freed on
request from the US peace envoy.
coalition forces have killed a prominent Taliban leader during an operation
involving airstrike in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan.
to the informed military sources, a Taliban Improvised Explosive Device (IED)
commander Mawlawi Madad was killed during a coalition forces air strike in Garm
Ser district, Helmand province January 23.
statement further added that Mawlawi Madad was the commander of IED operations
in the Helmand region of which many of these roadside bombs killed innocent
women and children.
militant fighters off the battlefield will weaken the morale and capabilities
of militant groups and their leadership, and provide a safer, more secured
environment for the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and its
people,” the sources added.
is among the volatile provinces in South of Afghanistan. The Taliban militants
are active in various districts of the province and often attempt to carry out
attacks against the government and security institutions and forces.
senior Taliban leaders including the shadow judge of the group were killed
during the operations of the Afghan Special Forces in northern Faryab province
209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North in a statement said the
Taliban leaders were killed along with 56 other militnts during the operations
which were conducted with the help of coalition air support.
statement further added that the operations were conducted in Chinar Shakh,
Ghoraha, Khwajah Ziaratgah, and Syedabad Turkmenha areas of Qaisar district.
senior Taliban leaders killed during the operations have been identified as
Mawlavi Khan Agha the shadow deputy district chief of Taliban for Qaisar,
Mawlavi Gandom Ali the shadow finance chief of the group for 5 provinces in the
North, Mawlavi Hafizullah the shadow judge ofthe group for Qaisar, and Mawlavi
Nasir alias Faryabi the local leader of the Taliban in Faryab, the 209th
Shaheen Corps said.
UN says new government curbs on aid activities are affecting at least 50,000
people in Myanmar’s beleaguered Rakhine state, where persecuted Rohingya
Muslims are mainly based.
this month, the so-called Rakhine State government blocked non-governmental
organizations and UN agencies from travelling to rural areas in northern and
central parts affected by conflict.
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has
circulated its findings on the impact of the curbs among UN officials and
its findings published by Reuters on Thursday, the UN agency has expressed
alarm at the escalating violence in the two Rakhine townships of Kyauktaw and
said the restrictions have forced aid organizations to reduce or stop
pre-existing programs, including the provision of healthcare, clean water,
school construction and teacher training.
example, mobile health services provided in 15 villages, totaling around 17,000
people, in Kyauktaw have now been put on hold, it said.
Ponnagyun, around 220 health consultations in rural areas of the township have
been stopped, including emergency referral services," it added.
to OCHA, the ongoing violence has forced about 5,000 people to flee their homes
and take shelter in communal areas across the region since early January.
are currently working to assess the impact that recent access restrictions
could have on the delivery of pre-existing and ongoing humanitarian program in
the affected townships,” UNOCHA spokesman in Myanmar Pierre Peron said.
United Nations, he said, was "liaising closely with the authorities in
Rakhine State, who have now invited humanitarian organizations to individually
apply for travel authorizations for specific activities."
Tuesday, the affected aid groups published a statement expressing "deep
concern" about the restrictions.
with most other organisations we do not currently have access to respond to the
needs of the conflict-affected and displaced populations," one of them,
the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), said.
week, the United Nations called on the Myanmar government to allow "rapid
and unimpeded" humanitarian access to the area.
August last year, a rights group said government restrictions on lifesaving aid
for internally displaced people in northern Myanmar could constitute a war
latest developments come just months after UN-mandated investigators said
Myanmar’s military had carried out mass killings and gang-rapes of Muslim
Rohingya with “genocidal intent”.
UN investigation team reported that Myanmar's top generals should face
prosecution for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Kachin, Rakhine and
state -- once home to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims -- has been the
scene of successive rounds of violence against the Rohingya following a
military crackdown in recent years.
Rohingya, the world’s most persecuted ethnic minority, have been attacked and
driven out of their homes in what the UN investigators as well as international
rights groups have denounced as “an ongoing genocide”.
have been subjected to a campaign of killings, rape, arbitrary arrests, and
arson attacks by the military and Buddhist mobs, mainly between late 2016 and
brutal campaign forced over 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee their homes since
August 2017 and seek refuge in neighboring Bangladesh. There, they are confined
to squalid, overcrowded camps and face forced return to Myanmar.
Muslims, who have lived in Myanmar for generations, are denied citizenship and
branded illegal emigrants from Bangladesh, which likewise denies them
UN Special Rapporteur on human rights visited on Thursday an island off
Bangladesh where Dhaka aims to move Rohingya refugees despite worries it will
be vulnerable to extreme weather.
750,000 Muslim Rohingyas flooded into Bangladesh in late 2017 after an
offensive by Myanmar's military that the United Nations has said could have
amounted to genocide, joining 250,000 already there.
is spending USD 280 million transforming Bhashan Char, a muddy silt islet that
only emerged from the sea two decades ago, into a camp for some of the
the island, in a coastal region where weather has killed hundreds of thousands of
people in recent decades, is one hour by boat from the nearest land over a
stretch of sea prone to violent storms.
of the Rohingya themselves, living in overcrowded and squalid camps in
southeastern Bangladesh border district of Cox's Bazar, have expressed unease
about moving, while the UN has insisted that any relocation must be voluntary.
Lee, the UN rapporteur, visited the island by helicopter accompanied by
Bangladeshi foreign ministry officials and was due to inspect the shelters and
facilities being built there.
on a visit also taking in Myanmar's other neighbour Thailand, issued no
statement but she was due to give a news conference in Dhaka on Friday, the UN
Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen this week said Dhaka was not hiding anything
in the island and they would take all interested diplomats once construction
work is completed.
very open. We're not in any hide-and-seek. Let's finish the work first,"
for the island camp were first floated in 2015 and Bangladesh previously wanted
to start moving refugees from to the island last June before the monsoon season
Minister Sheikh Hasina was then slated to open the new settlement, built to
house 100,000 refugees but behind schedule, last October, but the inauguration
senior disaster management official told AFP in September that nearly
three-quarters of the project was complete, with the navy fast-tracking
construction of shelters and evacuation centres.
authorities have been seeking to reassure refugees that they will be safe on
the island, which is off limits to the public and to the media.
Afghan security forces have arrested three suicide bombers including Pakistani
nationals during separate operations in eastern Nangarhar province of
media office of Nangarhar provincial government in a statement said the suicide
bombers were arrested by the operatives of the Afghan Intelligence, National
Directorate of Security (NDS).
statement further added that the NDS operatives conducted operations in
Jalalabad city, the provincial capital of Nangarhar and Shinwar district,
resulting into the arrest of the three suicide bomebrs.
suicide bombers were looking to carry out an attack on a key government
compound in Nangarhar, the statement by the provincial government added.
anti-government armed militants including Taliban have not commented regarding
the arrest of the suicide bombers so far.
of anti-government armed militants have been killed during separate operations
conducted by the Afghan and Coalition Forces in the past 24 hours.
to the informed military sources, a coalition air strike in support of Afghan
Special Forces killed 4 Taliban fighters in Qaisar district of Faryab province.
sources further added that Afghan Special Forces conducted a raid in Baraki
Barak district of Logar province while a coalition air strike, in defense of
soldiers on the ground, targeted and killed 4 Taliban fighters.
Special Forces conducted a raid in Jaji district of Paktia province killing 2
Taliban fighters, the sources said, adding that Afghan Special Forces conducted
a separate raid in Sangin district of Helmand province killing 20 Taliban
fighters and destroying 23 IEDs, 1 mortar round and a large amount of home-made
explosives. During the raid, 4 pressure plates, 3 remote control initiators and
over 1,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate were destroyed.
did not cry when I heard he is no more: Wife of Ashoka Chakra awardee Nazir
DELHI: It was love at first sight for Mahajabeen, wife of Lance Naik Nazir
Ahmad Wani, when the two met at a school in South Kashmir around 15 years back.
one-and-half months after Wani's death in an anti-terror operation in Shopian,
Mahajabeen, a teacher and mother of two, says his immense love for her and
fearless persona are a source of motivation for her to encourage youngsters to
become good citizens.
did not cry when I was told he is no more. There was an inner resolve which did
not allow me to cry," she said, on a day the government announced the
Ashoka Chakra, India's highest peacetime gallantry award, for Wani who hailed
from Cheki Ashmuji in Kulgam district of Jammu and Kashmir.
a militant-turned-soldier who had joined the Army's 162 Infantry Battalion
(Territorial Army) Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry in 2004, will be conferred
the award posthumously on Saturday by President Ram Nath Kovind.
loved me so much. For me, he was my guiding light. He always encouraged all of
us to make people around us happy, to resolve people's problems.
a teacher, I am dedicating myself to creating good citizens for my state.
Leading the young minds in the right direction is my resolve and I am drawing
inspiration for it from my beloved husband -- the best in the world," said
to share much details about their school and college days, Mahajabeen said,
"We met at school. It was love at the first sight. He was a great husband,
always fiercely protecting us."
the fateful day of November 25, Mahajabeen said she was at her parents' house
when the shocking news came.
had telephoned me the previous evening and enquired about our well-being. I had
told him to take care of himself. But destiny had something else for him,"
said Mahajabeen in an interview to PTI.
always wanted to make his 162/TA Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry batellion
proud. For him, duty was supreme. He was a source of inspiration for people in
our area and community," said Mahajabeen, who is in her late 30s.
November 25, 38-year-old Wani lost his life in a counter-terror operation
against six terrorists in Hirapur village near Batgund, in Shopian.
intense hail of bullets from the terrorists, he eliminated the 'district
commander' of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and one foreign terrorist in a daring
display of raw courage, officials said.
the ensuing gunfight, he was hit multiple times including on his head. He also
injured another terrorist before succumbing to his grievous wounds, they said.
from his wife, he is survived by two sons Athar and Shaid.
was a brave soldier and a hero right from the beginning. He always served for
peace in his home state of Jammu and Kashmir," said a senior Army
was a recipient of the Sena Medal for gallantry twice in 2007 and 2018.
always had the interest of the nation in his heart. He operated with Rashtriya
Rifles units in Kashmir. Throughout his active life he always willingly faced
grave potential threats and was a source of inspiration for others," said
one of his colleagues.
protests: Renaissance panel to include Muslim, Christian outfits
organising the women’s wall in support of entry of all women at Sabarimala, the
CPI(M)-backed Committee for Protection of Renaissance Values on Thursday
decided to accommodate Muslim and Christian outfits in it and continue its
activities, apparently with an eye on the Lok Sabha elections.
decision to accommodate Muslim and Christian organisations in the committee —
which was hitherto an umbrella organisation of various Hindu outfits — was
taken at a meeting, which comes in the wake of Opposition criticism that the
women’s wall was communal in nature.
though the Sabarimala pilgrim season was over last week, the committee on
Thursday decided to form units at district and taluk levels. It will conduct
mass conventions at district level before March 15.
Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who presided over the meeting of the committee, said
there should be continuation of activities of the committee for the protection
of renaissance values. “Protection of renaissance values was necessary for the
progress of people. Those who opposed the women’s wall tried to weaken the
activities meant for protecting renaissance values. Although the wall was
termed a communal one, women from all sections participated in it,” he said.
Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam general secretary Vellappally Natesan, who is
president of the committee, said there was an allegation that the campaign for
protecting renaissance values had avoided Muslim and Christian organisations.
“In Kerala, Christians and Muslims too have contributed for promoting
renaissance values. Hence, we decided to welcome them,” he said.
Indian social activist Swami Agnivesh has sought the intervention of Pope
Francis to help five nuns who are facing a church backlash after holding a
public protest demanding action against a bishop accused of raping a nun.
who on Jan. 23 released his detailed letter to the pope, told ucanews.com that
the church's moves against the nuns were "in effect a punishment given to
them for speaking the truth."
leader of the Arya Samaj Hindu sect was referring to a case involving
Missionaries of Jesus nuns in the southern state of Kerala.
nuns, all Kerala natives, came from different parts of India to support their
former superior, who filed a police complaint last June accusing Bishop Franco
Mulakkal of Jalandhar of raping her multiple times between 2014 and 2016.
September, the four joined another nun from the congregation's Kerala convent
and held a two-week street protest that ended on Sept. 22, a day after the
bishop was arrested. They have been staying in Kerala ever since.
congregation's current superior recently asked the four nuns to return to their
respective convents. The nuns alleged it was a tactic to break their unity and
weaken the case against the 54-year-old bishop.
other nun, Sister Neena Rose, has been asked to report to the congregation's
headquarters in Jalandhar and meet superior general Regina Kandamthottu on Jan.
a 79-year-old Hindu scholar known for his stand against India's governing
pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said the
nuns were being harassed for their stand for justice.
confidence in Pope Francis' "robust sense of justice," he said he
wanted the pope's intervention to end the harassment.
letter said it was "indeed shocking that, while the concerned diocese and
its religious orders go easy on the alleged rapist, it is targeting those who
stood and struggled for justice for the victim."
told ucanews.com that if "justice isn't given to the victim and those nuns
supporting her, then I will go to Rome myself and meet the pope in
said that Catholic nuns are much respected in Indian society and he will
"mobilize more support in favor of the nuns' continued protest until
justice is given to the nuns."
Catholic clergy needs a serious overhaul in India as there are some bishops who
have amassed huge wealth and are acting as dictators, he said.
are houses of profit being run by prelates in various parts of the country that
are violating the norms of the Catholic Church. As a human being and as a
citizen of the country, I have every right to act as a whistleblower,"
Christian groups have objected to Agnivesh's letter to the pope, stating that
the Hindu leader has been unnecessarily interfering in the church's internal
is writing to Pope Francis about something that doesn't come under his
domain," said Joseph Dias, general secretary of the Mumbai-based Catholic
said the rape case has gone to court while the relocation of nuns is entirely
an issue within the congregation. "Why is the Hindu priest trying to
correlate them both?" he asked.
the Catholic Church doesn't interfere with the working of religions including
Islam and Hinduism, its system of functioning shouldn't be interfered with
either, Dias said.
Mulakkal was bailed by a Kerala court on Oct. 15 and returned to Jalandhar in
the northern state of Punjab.
has consistently denied all the allegations and claimed that the nun is taking
revenge against him for initiating disciplinary action against her violation of
her religious vows of obedience and chastity.
Delhi: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina extended wishes to Prime
Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Republic Day of India.
press statement released by the Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi on
Thursday quoted Hasina as saying, “Bangladesh and India enjoy excellent
bilateral relations not only as closest neighbours but also through sharing a
common aspiration for achieving mutual benefits for the people of both
historic, cultural and civilisation roots have resulted in deepening
engagements between Bangladesh and India over the years, taking forward our
countries towards greater prosperity and development,” she said.
Hasina-led Awami League-led Grand Alliance swept the 11th Parliamentary polls
in the country, on December 30 last year, securing 288 seats out of the 300
seats, while the opposition, including the Jatiya Oikya Front suffered a
massive rout, winning only seven seats, in the polls marred by violence and
allegations of rigging.
Minister Modi congratulated Hasina for securing a victory in the polls,
asserting that India will continue to assist its neighbouring country in its
development process like earlier before.
Indian premier called Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at about 10:30am and
congratulated her, the Awami League and the people of Bangladesh on securing
her party’s absolute majority in the national elections held on Sunday,”
Hasina’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim was quoted as saying to the Daily Star,
a Dhaka-based news newspaper.
Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Wednesday produced 8 youth in a local
magistrate court in Aurangabad on Wednesday, while a minor was produced in
juvenile court. The youth were arrested by the National Investigation Agency
(NIA) from eight locations in Aurangabad and Mumbra for planning a chemical
attack at a forthcoming public event. They were remanded to 14-day custody.
4 suspects were arrested from different areas of Mumbra but all were produced
before Aurangabad court. Questions have been raised on the move of Aurangabad
unit of ATS right from day one. According to sources, the charges are strange
that the arrested youths had planned to mix poisonous chemicals with food and
water at an upcoming public event. Besides ATS told that the suspects were
preparing chemical attacks but were arrested before they executed the plan.
suspects include 3 siblings Mohsin Sirajuddin Shaikh, Salman Sirajuddin Shaikh
and Taqi Sirajuddin Shaikh. The other suspects booked under relevant sections
of the Unlawful Activities and Prevention Act (UAPA) Act are Mushahedul Islam,
Mohammed Sarfaraz, Mazhar Abdur Rasheed Shaikh, Jamal Nawab, Fahad Ansari and a
juvenile. Their ages are between 17 and 24 years.
National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested an absconding accused in the
2006 Kozhikode twin blasts case on his arrival from Saudi Arabia. Mohammed
Ashar, 34, had fled to Saudi Arabia after the blasts.
Kozhikode blast was a rare case where the accused informed the city
collectorate and the media about the location of the bombs after planting them.
The NIA has already filed a chargesheet against eight accused, including Ashar,
and two of them have been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by a
to the NIA, Ashar is among the key accused in the twin blasts case that left
two injured and had not only helped assemble IEDs but also planted one of the
bombs at a bus stand.
by NIA had revealed that Mohammed Ashar besides the other absconding accused P
P Yusuf were parties to the criminal conspiracy hatched by the prime accused T
Naseer, Safas (both convicted) and others to carry out IED blasts in Kozhikode
city in protest over the denial of bail to Muslim accused persons involved in
the Marad communal riots of 2003 at Kozhikode district. Mohammed Ashar, along
with P P Yusuf, had assisted T Naseer in preparing the IEDs and had planted the
explosive devices at the bus stands in Kozhikode city. Accused Mohd Ashar had
gone to Saudi Arabia in 2007 itself, to evade his arrest,” NIA IG Alok Mittal
NIA had taken over the case in 2009 and filed a chargesheet in 2010. According
to the chargesheet, on March 3, 2006, local police received phone information
from the media that two bombs had been planted at the KSRTC bus stop and
Mofussil bus stand in Kozhikode city. The media had been informed about the
bombs by the accused themselves after they planted them.
NIA on Thursday arrested a 33-year-old man, accused in the 2006 Kozhikode twin
blasts cases, from the Delhi airport after he landed from Saudi Arabia, the
agency said. It said Mohammed Ashar, resident of Thalassery in Kannur district
of Kerala, had been absconding and was chargesheeted by the National
Investigation Agency in 2010. He was arrested on Thursday from the Indira
Gandhi International (IGI) Airport, it said.
cases pertain to the twin improvised explosive device blasts that occurred at
the KSRTC and mofussil bus stands in Kozhikode (Calicut) city on March 3, 2006
causing injuries to two persons besides damage to property,” an NIA
added that NIA had taken over the investigation of the cases in December 2009
from the state police and had filed a chargesheet against eight accused,
including Ashar, in 2010 under sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention
Act, IPC and Explosive Substances Act.
found that Ashar and the other absconding accused P P Yusuf were “party” to the
criminal conspiracy hatched by the prime accused T Naseer, Safas and others to
carry out IED blasts in Kozhikode city in protest over the denial of bail to
some Muslim accused in the 2003 Marad communal riots case, the agency said.
NIA claimed that Ashar, along with Yusuf, had “assisted T Naseer in preparing
the IEDs and planted the explosive devices at bus stands in Kozhikode city.
“Accused Mohd Ashar had gone to Saudi Arabia in 2007 to evade arrest,” it said.
court freezes Arafat property in east Jerusalem
Israeli court has seized a Jerusalem property partly owned by late Palestinian
leader Yasser Arafat, holding it as collateral against a civil suit for damages
against the Palestinian Authority.
copy of the ruling by the Jerusalem district court made available to AFP on
Wednesday named “the estate of the late Yasser Arafat” as respondent.
temporary lien is granted on property owned by the respondent,” said Tuesday’s
said any future request to lift the order would be given a fresh court hearing
and that the Arafat estate had 30 days to appeal.
NGO Shurat Hadin requested the lien so the Arafat asset in Israeli-annexed east
Jerusalem could serve as collateral for a pending civil claim for damages
against the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Palestine Liberation Organization
(PLO) and the Arafat estate, by eight families of victims of Palestinian
move is one step closer towards justice for the victims and their families,”
Shurat Hadin head Nitsana Darshan Leitner said in a statement.
said that the lien was necessary because if the suit succeeds, collection of
damages was likely to be difficult.
will not allow a situation in which the Arafat estate can own land in the heart
of Jerusalem while avoiding paying damages to his victims,” she said.
Arafat was the grandfather of modern terrorism, responsible for the murder of
thousands of innocent men, women and children.”
who led both the PA and the PLO, died aged 75 in a French hospital on November
11, 2004, with Palestinians accusing Israel of having poisoned him.
Israeli government firmly denies the allegation.
body was exhumed in 2012 for tests but a subsequent French investigation found
no proof of poisoning.
experts, however, said they found high levels of radioactive polonium on his
nephew, Nasser al-Qidwa, said on Wednesday that the Jerusalem court ruling was
property in question covers about 2,700 square meters (29,000 square feet) on
the Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem’s walled Old City and its Al-Aqsa
told a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah that Arafat and his
brothers owned only a small part of the property placed under lien.
said the ruling was the work of “raiders and thieves”.
Israeli military has deployed the so-called "Iron Dome" missile
systems in Tel Aviv and other parts of the occupied territories after Syria
warned of a retaliatory strike on the Ben Gurion airport if the UN fails to
stop the regime's aerial acts of aggression against the Arab country.
a statement on Thursday, the Israeli military said it had set up an "Iron
Dome" battery in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area and others were stationed
in the southern parts of the Israeli-occupied territories near the blockaded Gaza
Strip, where tensions have been running high with Palestinian protesters.
number of reservists from the regime's air force have also been called up to
man the missile systems.
announcement came after Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar al-Ja'afari delivered a
strong warning to the Israeli regime, which has recently stepped up its air
strikes against Syrian soil.
of the Israeli strikes targeted a civilian international airport near the
Syrian capital, Damascus, earlier this week.
at the UN Security Council meeting on the Middle East on Tuesday, Ja'afari
blasted the US, France and Britain -- three of the council's five permanent
members -- for providing "unlimited support" to their allies in Tel
Aviv and thus emboldening them to act freely in Syria.
senior Syrian diplomat warned that his country could use its right to respond
in self defense to the recent Israeli air raids against the Damascus
International Airport by striking Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport if the
15-nation council failed to shoulder its responsibilities and act against the
Wednesday, Russia -- which has been providing military support to Syria in its
counter-terrorism operations -- also
urged Israeli to stop its "spontaneous" strikes against Syria
under the pretext of attacking Iranian military advisers, who are also in Syria
at the request of Damascus on a mission similar to that of Russia.
repeatedly writes to the UN and its Security Council to brief the world body
over illegal military actions that Israel, the US and their allies take against
to RT, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that Israeli jets endangered two
civilian aircraft while engaging targets in Syria on Christmas Day. It said the
regime's F-16s flew in as civilian jets were landing at Beirut and Damascus
September 2018, a Russian aircraft was mistakenly shot down by Syrian air
defense systems, which were responding to a wave of Israeli air raids. Fifteen
Russian servicemen lost their lives in the incident, which Moscow blamed on Tel
frequent air raids against Syria are considered as an attempt to prop up the
Takfiri terrorist groups that have been suffering heavy defeats at the hands of
Syrian government forces.
a recent interview with The New York Times, Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot,
the Israeli army’s outgoing chief of staff, said that the regime had carried
out “thousands” of aerial assaults in Syria in recent years.
prosecutors have charged an extremist Jewish teenage settler with manslaughter
over throwing a rock that killed a Palestinian mother in the northern part of
the occupied West Bank in October 2018.
announced the indictment for the 16-year-old teenager from the Mateh Binyamin
Regional Council on Thursday, stating that he carried out the attack “under
aggravated circumstances,” terming his “intentional vandalism of a vehicle as
an act of terror.”
attack was “based out of an ideological motive of racism and hostility toward
Arabs everywhere,” the indictment stated.
defendant hurled the rock with great force toward the front windshield of the
vehicle with the objective of hurting the passengers and with indifference to
the possibility of causing their death,” it pointed out.
Muhammad Talal al-Rabi, 47, a mother of eight children and a local resident of
Bidya, located 32 kilometers southwest of Nablus, was killed and her husband
suffered injuries after Israeli settlers hurled rocks at their vehicle near the
Za’tarah checkpoint in Nablus on October 12 last year. The stone weighed about
two kilograms, according to prosecutors.
authorities arrested five Israeli settlers, who were held on suspicion of
involvement in the killing of Aisha, on December 30, 2018. Four of them were
later released to house arrest.
tag attacks are acts of vandalism and violence against Palestinians and their
property as well as Muslim holy sites by Israeli settlers.
Arab Coalition in Yemen said on Thursday that Houthis have been blocking the
passage of four aid ships since 34 days.
ships heading towards the Hodeidah port carry oil and food aid, said the
Coalition, stressing on the fact that preventing the ships from unloading will
affect the lives of the Yemeni people.
port has been clear of ships for the past 12 days, and Houthi militias are
blocking the entrance of all ships, according to the Coalition.
Coalition also announced issuing 12 permits for ships heading towards Yemeni
ports, in addition to 34 aerial permits and 120 permits for convoy protection.
President Tayyip Erdogan called Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and offered
his support after a Venezuelan opposition leader declared himself interim
president, a spokesman for the Turkish president said on Thursday.
president called and extended Turkey’s support to Venezuelan President Nicolas
Maduro and said ‘My brother Maduro! Stand tall, we stand by you!’,” Ibrahim
Kalin said on Twitter.
opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president on Wednesday,
winning the backing of Washington and many Latin American nations and prompting
socialist Maduro, who has led the oil-rich nation since 2013, to break
relations with the United States.
UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions will travel to Turkey next
week to head an "independent international inquiry" into the gruesome
killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Callamard will evaluate steps taken by governments on the Oct. 2 murder and
"the nature and the extent of states' and individuals' responsibilities
for the killing," she said in Geneva Thursday.
findings and recommendations will be reported to the UN Human Rights Council at
the June 2019 session," she added.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday confirmed that the United Nations
special rapporteur in the case will visit Ankara soon.
top Turkish diplomat said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had ordered
preparations to be made to carry the case to an international level.
at a youth meeting in Istanbul on Monday, Cavusoglu denounced certain Western
countries for what it called attempts to whitewash the murder.
are Western countries trying to cover this case up. I know the reasons. We know
and see what sorts of deals are made. We see how those who spoke of freedom of
press are now covering this up after seeing money,” he said.
however, will go until the end. We made preparations for an international
investigation in the coming days and we will take the necessary steps,”
a US-based Washington Post journalist from Saudi Arabia who had become a critic
of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was last seen entering the Saudi
consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
judicial officials have said Khashoggi was "strangled" as soon as he
entered the Saudi diplomatic mission and his body was then "cut into
pieces" under a "premeditated plan".
has shown that the killing was carried out by a hit squad with close links to
Turkish officials have also tied his death to the highest levels of the Saudi
leadership, but Riyadh has denied accusations that the prince ordered the
US President Donald Trump has said he stands by the kingdom’s de facto ruler
despite pleas from US senators to condemn and punish the prince.
body remains missing and his death has put the Riyadh regime and bin Salman
December 2018, Turkey called for an international investigation into the case.
Ankara wants Riyadh to extradite the suspects for trial in Istanbul, a request
rejected by Saudi rulers.
Arabia held an initial hearing into Khashoggi's murder earlier this month, with
the public prosecutor requesting the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects
spokeswoman for the UN’s top human rights official, Michelle Bachelet, has
recently said the trial is “not sufficient” and does not meet the requirements
of an independent and international inquiry.
leader of Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement says his country is determined to
stand up to oppressive measures of Saudi Arabia and its regional allies, which
are involved in an atrocious military campaign against the impoverished Arab
his supporters via a televised speech broadcast live from the Yemeni capital
Sana’a on Thursday evening, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi said, "The honorable
people of Yemen have decided to stand against oppression," calling upon
Yemenis from all social strata to remain resilient in the face of existing
will continue our steadfastness until the aggression against us ceases. The
enemy is doing its utmost because it is extremely frustrated after failure to
occupy our country. Our armed forces have built great military capabilities at
all levels -- land, sea and air," he said.
enemy launched an economic war against us in a bid to exert the maxim level of
pressure. It, however, could not break the will of our people,” Houthi said,
adding, “The enemy seeks to use all methods to weaken the will of our nation in
the face of its aggression.”
highlighted that those who chose to pledge loyalty to the Saudi-led military
alliance stood with oppressors against the oppressed Yemeni nation.
people are standing on the wrong side and against righteousness. They must give
an account on the Day of Judgment for their deeds," Houthi concluded.
added that “hypocrites and those who committed profoundly evil deeds” followed
the schemes drawn up by arrogant powers.
then warned that “wicked forces” in the Muslim world were hell-bent on
distancing people from their moral values.
will pay the price for their wrong choices both in this world and the
hereafter. Believers in God have always been drawn against forces of the evil
throughout history,” the Ansarullah chief pointed out.
Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating military
campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing the government
of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing
to a new report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED),
a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has so far claimed
the lives of around 56,000 Yemenis.
Saudi-led war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure,
destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN has already said that a
record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million
threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering
from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.
Palestinian Islamic resistance movement, Hamas, says it would not accept a
fresh tranche of Qatari funds to the Gaza Strip after the Israeli regime
blocked its delivery over unrest along the border between the besieged costal
enclave and the occupied territories.
refuse to receive the third Qatari grant in response to the (Israeli)
Occupation's behavior and attempts to evade the agreement,” the deputy Hamas
leader in Gaza, Khalil al-Hayya, told journalists on Thursday.
did not elaborate on the specific conditions that were changed, but said Israel
was playing politics with the funds ahead of upcoming legislative elections,
which will be held on April 9.
has delivered $15 million a month into the Gaza Strip under an informal
agreement struck in November. The funds to pay salaries of Hamas employees and
support impoverished Gazans are in exchange for relative calm along the border
fence between the strip and the Israeli-occupied land.
third tranche had been expected to enter this week but Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu blocked it on Tuesday after an Israeli soldier was slightly
injured near the fence.
in the day, at least one Palestinian was killed while four others were injured
as Israeli forces shelled the Gaza Strip.
have held weekly protests on the Gaza border, over the siege of the enclave and
the right for refugees to return to their homes they fled during the 1948
creation of Israel.
250 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces ever since anti-occupation
protest rallies began in the Gaza Strip on March 30, 2018. Over 26,000
Palestinians have also sustained injuries.
Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14 last year, on the eve of the 70th
anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe), which coincided this year with
the US embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.
June 13, 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution,
sponsored by Turkey and Algeria, condemning Israel for Palestinian civilian
deaths in the Gaza Strip.
resolution, which had been put forward on behalf of Arab and Muslim countries,
garnered a strong majority of 120 votes in the 193-member assembly, with 8
votes against and 45 abstentions.
resolution called on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to make proposals
within 60 days “on ways and means for ensuring the safety, protection, and
well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation,”
including “recommendations regarding an international protection mechanism.”
President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan,
have agreed to take steps towards stabilizing the situation in Syria’s
northwestern province of Idlib, the last major militant stronghold in the Arab
Wednesday, Putin and Erdogan held talks in the Russian capital Moscow, where
the two leaders pledged to intensify their coordination in Syria.
have a shared conviction that we must continue jointly fighting terrorists
wherever they are, including in the Idlib zone,” the Russian leader said at a
joint press conference following their talks.
agreed how we’ll coordinate our work in the near future,” Putin said,
describing the talks which included the countries’ defense ministers as
said the Russian and Turkish defense chiefs had discussed specific action that
the two countries would take in Idlib and that the measures, which he did not
explain, would now be implemented.
there are many problems there and we see them,” said Putin.
Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier on Wednesday that the situation in the
province where Moscow and Ankara have tried to create a de-escalation zone,
remained of “serious concern” and that it was almost under the full control of
Nusra Front terrorists.
said Turkey was doing a lot to try to remedy the situation, but that the two
countries are required to take more action to “liquidate the actions of
September last year, Turkey pledged to disarm and remove terrorists in Idlib
when a deal was signed between Ankara and Moscow. That agreement put on hold a
Syrian military operation to liberate the region.
is the last region in the hands of terrorists. Russia and Turkey are on
opposite sides of the Syrian war. Moscow supports Damascus in its fight against
militant groups fighting the Syrian government while Turkey backs the
pullout plan ‘positive step’
further said if carried out, the withdrawal of US troops from northeastern
Syria “will be a positive step, it will help stabilize the situation in this
Russian leader also noted that the “US troops are staying in the territory of
the Syrian Arab Republic illegally.”
are no grounds in international legal law for them to stay there. There is no
invitation from a legitimate government, nor a decision taken by the United
Nations Security Council,” he added.
December, US President Donald Trump abruptly announced that his country had
“defeated: Daesh Takfiri terrorists in Syria and would be pulling all 2,000
American forces from the country.
in his remarks, Putin complained about difficulty of forming a UN-sponsored
Syrian Constitutional Committee, criticizing France, Germany and Britain for
having blocked the proposed make-up of the committee in December.
also said that Moscow was planning a trilateral summit “in the near future”
where Russia, Turkey and Iran would discuss the situation in Syria.
did not give a date for the summit, which will be held as part of the Astana
peace process, launched by the three countries in 2017.
last meeting between Putin, Erdogan and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani took
place in the Iranian capital, Tehran, in September last year, with the fate of
militant-held Idlib province dominating the agenda.
for his part, said it was of crucial importance that the planned US pullout
from Syria will not leave room for terrorist groups to roam freely, adding that
Ankara and Moscow would continue to battle terrorist groups in Idlib Province.
said “cooperation between Russia and Turkey is a touchstone for Syrian peace
and stability,” adding, “With our Russian friends we intend to strengthen our
coordination even more.”
said Turkey and Russia do not have any disagreements about a Turkish-controlled
“security zone” in northern Syria suggested by
added that Turkey has the capacity to create the “safe zone” on its own but
will not exclude the United States, Russia or others if they are willing to
said that Ankara was in indirect contact with the Syrian government, without
has the capacity to create a "safe zone" in Syria on its own but will
not exclude the United States, Russia or others if they want to cooperate,
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday.
to broadcaster A Haber, he said Ankara and Moscow were on the same page
regarding a Syrian political solution aside from the issue of whether President
Bashar al-Assad should stay in office. He added that Turkey was in indirect
contact with the Syrian government, without providing details.
member of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service was killed and
several other people were wounded on Wednesday night in a clash between members
of the service and army troops in Port Sudan, a security body said in a
incident in the Red Sea city was the first of its kind between security and
military forces since a wave of anti-government protests that has rocked Sudan
began on Dec. 19.
statement came from Major-General Mohamed Moussa Omar, secretary of a committee
that oversees security in Sudan’s Red Sea province.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is receiving words of support from some
unlikely places as he faces deadly protests calling for him to step down.
Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011 following decades of brutal fighting
marked by the mass abduction and enslavement of children, scorched earth ethnic
cleansing and famines. Yet now the former arch-enemies describe themselves as
the best of friends, bound together by a desperate need for oil revenues and
peace to allow them to flow.
your interest is so intertwined, you are like a conjoined twin,” South Sudan’s
oil minister, Ezekiel Lul Gatkuoth, told Reuters in the capital of Juba. “For
us, the solution is not to remove Bashir, the solution is to improve the
Monday, Gatkuoth and his Sudanese counterpart jumped over a slaughtered cow,
part of a traditional ceremony of welcome marking the start of increased
production at Unity Oilfield near the two nations’ joint border, where less
than a decade ago they fought tank battles against each other.
buildings were still pockmarked with bulletholes, and a large dark stain marked
a place where a pipeline had been hit.
north-south rapprochement comes as violent protests ripple across Sudan,
demanding an end to soaring prices and Bashir’s 30-year rule. But although
South Sudan spent decades fighting Bashir, the idea that he might fall worries
many of his former foes. South Sudan has just emerged from its own five-year
civil war. Some from the south fear chaos in the north could derail their own
peace deal, which Sudan helped broker and guarantee.
return for peace, Sudan gets money. Landlocked South Sudan has most of the oil,
but Sudan has the pipeline and port it needs to export it. Sudan receives
roughly $9-$11 for each barrel of South Sudan’s oil that flows through its
arrangement marks an abrupt departure from years of animosity. “Both (sides)
have previously armed rebels against each other,” said Alan Boswell, a senior
analyst with the International Crisis Group, a think tank. “Times have
Sudan’s civil war broke out two years after independence and has been
punctuated by atrocities, famine and failed peace deals. But the latest
agreement, signed in September, is largely holding.
partly because Khartoum persuaded South Sudanese rebels it had previously
backed to sign. East Africa needed the civil war to end. More than a million
South Sudanese refugees have fled to Uganda, and more than 850,000 live in
moved the peace talks from Ethiopia to Khartoum, then midwifed an agreement
that called for demobilizing, retraining and integrating fighters from all
went on day and night for three months and the Sudanese were always with us
trying to break the deadlock,” said Puot Kang Chol, who heads the youth league
of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition, which has just been
fighting South Sudan’s government.
for the first time, South Sudan’s leaders trust the north: They know Bashir
needs their oil. Sudan even helped fix the south’s broken wells, said oil
Sudan sought to take advantage of our vulnerabilities,” said Majak D’Agoot, who
was deputy head of Sudan’s intelligence service before independence and then
served as South Sudan’s deputy defense minister. “But we are now on an equal
has long battled rebels on its peripheries – in Darfur and elsewhere. But
protests igniting the heart of the nation are an existential threat, D’Agoot
said. “If you shore up Bashir, the protests will not stop,” he said. “Push him
out, and the Islamists will move in.”
worries southerners, given Sudan’s borders with Egypt and Libya and its
proximity to Yemen, all countries where Islamic State has been active, D’Agoot
said. South Sudan is largely Christian; Sudan is mostly Muslim. Bashir’s
attempt to impose Islamic sharia law was one reason the south seceded.
protests have gathered pace over the past month, but their organizers are not
holding out much hope for support from their southern neighbors.
Bashir may be their enemy in the past, a lot of changes took place for him to
be closer now,” said Amjed Farid Eltayeb, activist and spokesman for the Sudan
Change Now movement, which is involved in the current protests and seeks
democratic transformation in Sudan. “I don’t think they will really support his
removal from power.”
that a new government in Khartoum might be less friendly, the South Sudanese
authorities are careful not to offer any sign of encouragement to the
protesters. The government-run Media Council warned local journalists in a
letter this month that the protests are “internal issues affecting a friendly
nation” and said “the media in South Sudan should not write or broadcast
instigative statements and comments about it.”
Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, sent a high-level delegation to Sudan to express
solidarity. “Relations between Sudan and South Sudan are at their most cordial
since independence,” presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said. “We look
forward to continuing to partner with Bashir.”
if Bashir goes, officials were keen to say, the South Sudanese government will
work with whoever the Sudanese people choose to lead them. The first thing Juba
will watch for is whether the powerful intelligence chief, Salah Abdallah
Mohamed Saleh, also known as Salah Gosh, remains.
police forces have fired teargas canisters at hundreds of protesters in the
capital Khartoum as anti-government demonstrators are mounting pressure on
President Omar al-Bashir to step down over price hikes and shortages in the
east African nation.
of protesters, chanting “Freedom, peace, justice” and “revolution, revolution,”
were marching on the presidential palace in the capital’s Burri district on
Thursday when riot police forces confronted them with tear gas.
Professionals’ Association (SPA), an umbrella group of unions representing
doctors, teachers and engineers, had called for protest rallies to be held in
17 places in Khartoum and the country’s second largest city of Omdurman, from
where demonstrators were told to march towards the palace.
Burri, crowds of protesters reportedly blocked all roads leading to the
district with tree trunks, iron pipes, rocks and burning tires.
to witnesses, a number of villages along the highway linking Khartoum with the
central city of Madani also saw demonstrators taking to the streets.
the police are using less force but even if they use more force we don’t care,”
said a protester, adding, “We will achieve our mission of overthrowing” the
African country has been jolted by near-daily protests since December 19, in
the wake of a move by the government to triple the price of a loaf of bread,
which angered people and triggered the demonstrations.
the initial days of the rallies, several buildings and offices of Bashir's
ruling National Congress Party were set alight by protesters. Riot police have
so far managed to disperse the rallies, and security agents have arrested
several opposition leaders and activists in a clampdown on suspected
public display of anger soon spiraled into calls for Bashir, who took power in
1989 through a military coup, to step down, blaming him for the country’s
authorities have since declared curfews and states of emergency in several
states. Residents say police have used live ammunition in some cases to break
up the protesters.
country has been struggling with a growing economic crisis, including a serious
shortage of foreign currency. The cost of some commodities, including
medicines, has more than doubled and a soaring inflation has hit 70 percent.
growing lack of food and fuel has been regularly reported across several
cities, including Khartoum.
Moki Edwin Kindzeka
says it is mobilizing troops along the country’s northern border with Nigeria
and in the western English-speaking regions, following renewed attacks by Boko
Haram in the north and separatists in the west.
military calls for troops to assemble at its headquarters in Yaounde ahead of
Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Rene Claude Meka said 2019 will see Cameroon
fight for national unity and territorial integrity.
said they have re-mobilized the military to all trouble spots. Boko Haram, the
Nigeria-based Islamist terrorist group, is again recruiting fighters in
Cameroon and attacking our northern border, said Meka. Meanwhile, separatists
fighting to create an English-speaking state have recruited mercenaries from
neighboring countries to destabilize Cameroon, he said.
military says there is a Boko Haram resurgence on its northern border with
Nigeria. It reports five attacks across the border and in the Lake Chad basin
week three people were reported killed in the border town of Fotokol as troops
repelled a Boko Haram attack.
fighting also intensified in Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions in the
northwest and southwest. The military said at least 45 rebels have been killed
in the first three weeks of the year. Separatists say they are the ones killing
the numbers cannot be independently verified, villagers have confirmed fighting
has recently increased.
Elengu Noella said two of her three children were killed in heavy fighting
around the southwestern town of Buea and she has not been able to find her
said a Catholic Church Hospital ambulance helped her and four other women
escape as a battle raged between Cameroon’s military and separatists.
seeking an independent English-speaking state are accused of abducting and
killing opponents and trying to make their regions ungovernable.
Minister Joseph Beti Assomo said President Paul Biya also ordered troops to
Cameroon’s eastern border. He said spill-over from fighting in the Central
African Republic has increased criminal activities.
will not be a bed of roses. We shall continue with various operations in the
far north, northwest and southwest regions, reactivation of special operations
in the Adamawa region where criminal groups specialized in kidnapping are
wreaking havoc and requesting for ransom," he said.
Sama is a political analyst at Cameroon’s Center for Peace and Development. He
said while troop deployments to fight foreign invaders is justified, the
government should attempt to negotiate with the separatists.
said more and more civilians are displaced by the fighting each time the
military attacks the rebels.
have practical situations of people who actually died and then those who are in
the bushes, they are also in bad conditions. They have no access to
Muslim group has called for full prosecutions against the four people accused
of plotting an attack on their rural enclave in upstate New York.
arrests of three Rochester-area men and a 16-year-old who had access to
homemade explosives and firearms sent shockwaves through the community of
Islamberg, the Muslims of America said in a prepared statement. The small
community has been dogged by allegations on rightwing websites that it is a
terrorist training camp, and it was the target of a similar plot in 2015.
is beyond tragic that our nation continues to fester with Islamophobia, hate
and religious intolerance,” the group said in a prepared statement. “To bring
justice and properly deter similar terrorist plots against our community, we
are calling for the individuals charged, as well as their accomplices, to be
prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
in suburban Rochester on Tuesday announced weapons possession and conspiracy
charges against Brian Colaneri, 20; Andrew Crysel, 18; and Vincent Vetromile,
19. A 16-year-old student at Odyssey Academy in Greece, a Rochester suburb, was
charged as an adolescent offender.
were due in court on Wednesday morning.
was unclear whether the suspects had lawyers to speak for them yet, and
attempts to reach relatives to comment were unsuccessful.
the time of their weekend arrests, the men, three of whom were in Boy Scouts
together, had access to 23 rifles and shotguns and three homemade explosives,
Greece police said. Investigators uncovered the plot after a student reported a
suspicious comment in a lunchroom on Friday.
Muslims of America are followers of Sheikh Mubarik Gilani and run 22
communities in North America. The mostly African American settlers of Islamberg
first came to upstate New York in the 1980s to escape crime and crowding in New
and analysts have dismissed decades-long accusations that the community – 120
miles (190km) south-east of Rochester – is a terrorist training ground.
2017, a Tennessee man was convicted on federal charges for what authorities
called plans to burn down Islamberg’s mosque in 2015. Robert Doggart, now 67,
is serving time in federal prison.
Turkey and Russia throw their weight behind the Venezuelan government against a
bizarre move by the US-backed opposition leader to proclaim himself
“president,” warning Washington against interfering in domestic affairs of the
South American state.
Thursday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said the Islamic
Republic “backs Venezuela’s nation and legitimate government in the face of any
foreign meddling in the country’s domestic affairs or any illegitimate and
illegal measure such as attempts for a coup or moves against the people.”
hope that any disagreement and political problem in Venezuela will be resolved
by the country’s own people and government as soon as possible via legal and
peaceful solutions,” he added.
Wednesday, Juan Guaido, the leader of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled
National Assembly, abruptly declared himself the “interim president,” quickly
winning the backing of the US and its Latin American allies for his strange
controversial announcement followed two nights of violent anti-government
protests in working-class neighborhoods of the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.
President Donald Trump was quick to recognize Venezuela’s self-proclaimed
president, warning that “all options are on the table” if Maduro responded with
force against the opposition.
response, Maduro accused the opposition of seeking to stage a coup with
Washington’s backing, cutting off relations with the US and ordering all
American diplomats to leave Venezuela within 72 hours.
had enough interventionism, here we have dignity, damn it! Here is a people
willing to defend this land,” he said in a televised address from the
tall, we stand by you: Erdogan to Maduro
on Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced solidarity with his
Venezuelan counterpart in a telephone conversation.
president called and extended Turkey’s support to Venezuelan President Nicolas
Maduro and said ‘My brother Maduro! Stand tall, we stand by you!’,” Turkish
presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Twitter.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu slammed the US interference in
Venezuela’s domestic politics.
US and some Latin American countries have repeatedly intervened in the internal
affairs of Venezuela,” he told A Haber TV channel.
Russia voiced its support for the Venezuelan government, warning any US against
military intervention in the South American state.
US moves could lead to bloodshed
in turn, stressed that it would stand by Venezuela to protect its sovereignty,
warning that Washington’s moves could lead to lawlessness and bloodshed in
Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that events in Venezuela are
reaching a dangerous point, and that the US was turning a blind eye to
cited Sergei Ryabkov, the Russian deputy foreign minister, as saying Moscow
would stand with Venezuela to protect its sovereignty and the principle of
non-interference in its domestic affairs.
a statement, the deputy spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres
said that the UN chief was urging all groups to lower tensions and pursue every
effort to prevent an escalation.
United Nations firmly rejects any kind of political violence. We underline the
urgent need for all relevant actors to commit to inclusive and credible
political negotiations to address the challenges facing the country, with full
respect for the rule of law and human rights,” Farhan Haq said.
Venezuela is mired in economic turmoil, with hyperinflation, power cuts and
shortages of basic items. It is also one of the world’s highest-crime
PAUL, Minnesota: Hoping to scare Muslims into leaving the US, members of an
Illinois militia group rented a truck and drove more than 500 miles (805 kilometers)
to bomb a Minnesota mosque, two men admitted Thursday.
McWhorter and Joe Morris said that when they arrived at the Dar Al-Farooq
Islamic Center in Bloomington on Aug. 5, 2017, they broke a window and threw a
lit pipe bomb and a gasoline mixture inside, causing an explosion, fire and
extensive damage. No one was injured in the attack, which happened just as
morning prayers were about to begin, shaking members of the local Muslim
29, and Morris, 23, of Clarence, Illinois, each pleaded guilty Thursday to five
counts in connection with the mosque attack, the attempted bombing of an
Illinois abortion clinic, armed robberies and other crimes.
third defendant, 47-year-old Michael Hari, whom prosecutors said directed the
bombing, remains in federal custody in Illinois.
plea agreements portray Hari as the ringleader of a militia group called the
White Rabbits, which included Hari, McWhorter, Morris and at least five other
people. Hari’s trial is set for July.
guilty pleas of McWhorter and Morris came a day before three members of another
militia were set to be sentenced for a foiled plot to massacre Muslims in
southwest Kansas by blowing up a mosque and apartments housing Somali
immigrants. That attack, planned for the day after the November 2016 election,
was thwarted after another member of the group tipped off authorities.
the Minnesota mosque bombing, Hari allegedly picked Dar Al-Farooq because it
was far enough away from the White Rabbits’ central Illinois hometown that he
thought they wouldn’t be suspected. He also allegedly believed it was a focal
point for terror recruiting, a claim that law enforcement has not
attorney, Robert Richman, said Morris merely followed the lead of Hari, a man
he’d known as a father figure since he was 9.
essentially weaponized Joe Morris,” Richman said.
attorney, Chris Madel, said: “Human beings are a lot more complicated than what
some people believe, and Michael McWhorter’s story has yet to be told.”
and McWhorter could each face at least 35 years in prison.
attorney would say whether his client would cooperate or testify against Hari.
Messages left with Hari’s attorneys in Illinois and Minnesota were not
plea agreements say the men targeted the mosque to interfere with the free
exercise of religion by Muslims and to let Muslims know they were not welcome
in the United States.
not clear how the White Rabbits became aware of Dar Al-Farooq, but the mosque
was in headlines in recent years: Some young people from Minnesota who traveled
to Syria to join the Daesh group had worshipped there. Mosque leaders were
never accused of any wrongdoing.
Hussein, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in
Minnesota, said McWhorter and Morris wanted the Muslim community to be fearful
and run away.
not going anywhere,” he said.
to the plea agreements, the men were headed toward Minnesota when Hari told
McWhorter and Morris that he had a pipe bomb in the vehicle and they were going
to bomb a mosque.
the three arrived at Dar Al-Farooq, Hari gave Morris a sledgehammer and told
him to break a window, the plea agreements say. McWhorter then lit the fuse on
the pipe bomb and threw it inside; Morris threw the gasoline mixture.
and Morris also pleaded guilty to their roles in a failed attack on a
Champaign, Illinois, abortion clinic in November 2017. A pipe bomb that Morris
said he and Hari threw into the clinic did not explode.
plea agreements say Hari, McWhorter, Morris and others also participated in an
armed home invasion in Ambia, Indiana, and the armed robberies or attempted
armed robberies of two Walmart stores in Illinois.
and McWhorter also admitted to attempting to extort Canadian National Railway
by threatening to damage tracks if the railroad didn’t pay them money.
United States and Britain plan to hold a meeting on Yemen with Saudi Arabia and
the UAE in Poland next month in a bid to revive faltering peace efforts in the
meeting was announced by British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt after talks in
Washington with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence
and National Security Adviser John Bolton on Thursday.
with @SecPompeo today that we would host a meeting in February with Saudi
Arabia & the UAE to bolster our support for the Stockholm process and agree
next steps for further progress on a political settlement for Yemen,” Mr Hunt
meeting is expected to take place on the sidelines of a summit on Middle East
security and the threat posed by Iran that will be held in Warsaw on February
13 and 14. Foreign ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council, Egypt, Jordan,
Israel and Morocco are expected to attend the summit.
UAE Embassy in Washington on Thursday confirmed that Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed,
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, would be attending
the summit. "The UAE welcomes ongoing US efforts to work with partners to
address common challenges," the embassy tweeted.
US official told The National that there were as yet no specific details to be
announced regarding the Yemen meeting in Warsaw. A US statement on Mr Hunt's
talks with Mr Pompeo said only that they discussed the next steps in the
political process in Yemen and countering Iran's malign behaviour.
US and Britain are trying to use their political and financial leverage to
break the deadlock in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and the UAE play leading roles
in an Arab military coalition supporting the government against the Iran-backed
ceasefire agreement for the port city of Hodeidah is faltering more a month
after it went into effect. The truce and several confidence-building measures
were agreed upon last month in the first direct talks between the government
and rebels in Sweden but have yet to be fully implemented.
UN special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths has made successive trips to the
region, and was in Sanaa and Riyadh this week to secure the Hodeidah agreement.
But a return to violence is threatening to scuttle the whole deal. Last week
the convoy of the head of the UN ceasefire monitors was hit by a bullet. The
government said the Houthis were behind the shooting.
Jeffrey, the United States Special Representative for Syria Engagement, is due
in Turkey on Thursday for talks with Turkish officials over the establishment
of a so-called “secure zone” in northern Syria.
visit comes one day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met his
Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow to discuss co-operation between
the two countries in Syria.
intends to set up a 32-kilometre zone that will keep the People's Protection
Units militia away from its border.
Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who announced Mr Jeffrey’s visit in an interview
with the A Haber news channel, said Ankara could establish a secure zone on its
said Ankara and Washington's views were in line, aside from a couple of points.
did not say what the differences where, but tensions between Turkey and the US
have simmered over the former's plans to launch an offensive against US-backed
forces in the northern Syrian city of Manbij. Mr Cavusoglu on Thursday said
Turkey and the US had started discussing who would be in the administration of
on relations with Russia, the foreign minister said Moscow and Ankara were on
the same page about a political solution to the conflict in Syria, except about
whether President Bashar Assad should stay in power.
and Turkey are on opposite sides of the Syria conflict: Russia provides
critical support to the Syrian government, while Turkey has backed rebel groups
fighting President Bashar Al Assad's forces.
this, they have worked closely to find a political solution to the seven-year
talks in Moscow on Wednesday, Mr Putin and Mr Erdogan vowed to co-ordinate
their actions more closely in Syria.
between Russia and Turkey is a touchstone for Syrian peace and stability,"
Mr Erdogan said at a joint press conference after three hours of talks.
our Russian friends we intend to strengthen our co-ordination even more."
agreed how we'll co-ordinate our work in the near future," Mr Putin said,
calling the talks which included the countries' defence ministers,
the start of their meeting in the Kremlin, Mr Putin addressed Mr Erdogan as
"dear friend", and said their countries "work on issues of
regional security and actively co-operate on Syria".
Erdogan used the same term for Mr Putin and said "our solidarity makes a
weighty contribution to the security of the region".
plans to organise a three-way summit with Turkey and Iran early this year as
part of the Astana peace process, launched by the three countries in 2017.
Putin said on Wednesday the next summit would be held "in the near
future" in Russia, saying the leaders still needed to agree the time and
location with Iran.
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