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Islamic World News (28 Jul 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)



After 23 Years in Jail and Acquittal in 3 States, Faith Unshaken In System








After 23 Years in Jail and Acquittal in 3 States, Faith Unshaken In System

Hindus, Muslims Must Trust Each Other: Congress Leader

Rise of Anti-Immigrant Parties Compounds Problems for Europe’s Muslims

Iranian Exiles Rally In London To Demand Regime Change In Tehran

Rohingya Refugees Press Citizenship Demands In Talks With Myanmar

Intra-Afghan Negotiations To Take Place After U.S.-Taliban Agreements: Khalilzad

Saudi Arabia, Israel Get Away With Infanticide Due To US Support: Commentator

Takfiri Terror Rages despite Nigerian Government Claim Of Crippling It

 

India

After 23 Years in Jail and Acquittal in 3 States, Faith Unshaken In System

Hindus, Muslims Must Trust Each Other: Congress Leader

Final Secret Negotiations In India’s Babri-Temple Dispute From July 29

Owaisi: Sad only Muslim MPs voted against NIA, UAPA bills

Additional troops spark panic in Jammu & Kashmir

PM Narendra Modi calls for more integrated defence forces, global effort on terror

Pakistani IED expert, local terrorist killed in Jammu and Kashmir encounter

Top Jaish bomb maker killed in south Kashmir’s overnight operation

JeM commander among 2 militants killed in Valley

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Europe

Rise of Anti-Immigrant Parties Compounds Problems for Europe’s Muslims

Iranian Exiles Rally In London To Demand Regime Change In Tehran

Russian officials in Iran visit Russian members of detained UK vessel

Johnson Forced To Tow Establishment Line When Dealing with Iran

New UK govt urged to impose sanctions on Tehran

Russian diplomats visit British tanker detained by Iran

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South Asia

Rohingya Refugees Press Citizenship Demands In Talks With Myanmar

Intra-Afghan Negotiations To Take Place After U.S.-Taliban Agreements: Khalilzad

Kabul to hold talks with Taliban within next 2 weeks: Afghan official

Myanmar Delegation Holds Repatriation Talks With Rohingya in Bangladesh

Ghani dissolves High Peace Council of Afghanistan

Taliban sharpshooter killed in Alisheng district

Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Shakoor, his fighters killed; 14 others wounded in Faryab clash

Myanmar delegation holds repatriation talks with Rohingya in Bangladesh

Afghan official: Taliban suicide blast hits police, kills three

Taliban reject direct talks with Afghan government

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Mideast

Saudi Arabia, Israel Get Away With Infanticide Due To US Support: Commentator

Iranian Military Source: Missile Tests Are Defensive, Not Against Any Country

Palestinian killed by Israeli fire in Gaza border clashes: Gaza ministry

Omani FM arrives in Tehran amid regional tensions

Erdogan says Turkey will not keep silent on Israel’s new wave of terror

Ultra nationalists violently disrupt protest for Syrians in Turkey

Mourners hold funeral for Palestinian killed in Gaza protest

Malaysian PM: Israel ‘main cause of terrorism in world’

UAE pledges $50m for Palestinian refugees

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Africa

Takfiri Terror Rages despite Nigerian Government Claim Of Crippling It

Sudan Says 87 Killed, 168 Wounded When June 3 Protest Broken Up

World leaders mourn the death of late Tunisian President Essebsi

Libyan army launches 7 airstrikes on GNA military sites in Misrata, Sirte

Sudan opposition rejects report on protesters' killing

Boko Haram kills 23 mourners after funeral in north-east Nigeria

Al-Shabaab claims killing 10 Burundian soldiers in southern Somalia

Somalia: IGAD Pledges Support for Somalia After Al-Shabaab Attacks

Nigeria: Boko Haram attacks Dalori military base and IDP camp

Boko Haram kills two in Nigerian displaced camp

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Southeast Asia

President Joko Widodo Says Islam In Indonesia Is 'Tolerant' As Rights Groups Warn Of Rising Fundamentalism

Subtle Religious Conversion Of Orang Asli Children Still Going On In Schools, Say Experts

Pakistan lauds Muslim renaissance initiative by Dr M

38 years on, Muslim surau in Ghim Moh finds online fame

Jakim, MCMC to monitor complaints made on those who insult Islam over social media

Hadi: PAS-Umno supports Dr M as PM to end of term

Kit Siang: Will Umno agree to keep Dr M for full term, after calls to reject leaders with DAP ties?

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Pakistan

10 Soldiers Martyred In N Waziristan, Balochistan Attacks

Shahbaz asks govt not to remove AC from Nawaz’s cell

Judges with pending references must not be part of SJC: lawyers

Jamaat undecided about no-trust vote against Senate chairman

‘Fake’ regime will no more be allowed to rule: Fazl

PM has reprimanded delegation that visited Fazl: Sheikh Rasheed

Political leadership condemns cowardly attack on Pakistani soldiers

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Arab World

Bahrain Opposition Party Condemns Execution of Young Activists as Practicing ‘State Terrorism’

Residents of Ex-Daesh Capital Yearn For Return of President Assad's Rule: Report

Official: ISIL Terrorists Target Iraqi Forces with Advanced US-Made Weapons

Hashd Al-Shaabi Commander: US Forces Better to Leave Iraq

Terrorists’ Military Convoys Destroyed in Syrian, Russian Airstrikes in Hama

Syrian Army Preparing for Imminent Military Operation in Northern Hama

ISIS claims deadly attack on Syrian government troops

Air strikes kill 10 civilians in northwest Syria: Monitor

Several Syrian soldiers injured as govt. forces advance in Dara’a

Iraqi Kurds accuse PKK of Turkish diplomat’s assassination

Turkey cracks down on Syrian refugees, deports them to terrorist-controlled Idlib

Bahrain executes three men convicted on terrorism charges

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North America

US President Mulls Labeling Anti-Fascist Movement Antifa A Terror Group

Pro-Trump Candidate Charged With Theft Seeks To Unseat Muslim MP Ilhan Omar

Erdogan: Turkey will destroy Kurdish-held 'terror corridor' in Syria

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/after-23-years-in-jail-and-acquittal-in-3-states,-faith-unshaken-in-system/d/119321

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After 23 years in jail and acquittal in 3 states, faith unshaken in system

by Arun Sharma

July 28, 2019

Abdul Gani Goni, 57, has spent 23 years of his life in jail, facing charges that police of three states failed to establish during trials. However, he still has faith in India and its establishments.

“Why not? If there are people who are bad, there are also people who are good and honest. The former are fewer, but they cause much damage. The good and honest people are not allowed to work by those who are bad,” Goni said.

“The corrupt are not the only ones to occupy higher positions, the honest also get a chance,” he added, referring to the ordeal that began with his arrest by Gujarat ATS in 1996 and ended with his release 23 years later along with five others from Jaipur Central Jail on Tuesday.

They were acquitted by the Rajasthan High Court in the Samleti blast case. The High Court held that prosecution had failed to provide evidence of conspiracy and could not establish a link between them and the main accused, Dr Abdul Hameed, whose death sentence was upheld. While one was from UP’s Agra district, Goni hailed from J&K’s Bhaderwah town and the others from Srinagar.

Goni said he was associated with Allahwale, an organisation whose members preach about religion. For this, he recalled, in 1996 he went to Banglawali masjid in Delhi, and then to Vishakhapatnam with a group of 10-15 people. After spending 40 days there, they boarded Delhi-bound Samta Express on May 30. At a station, Goni said, some people boarded the train and asked passengers their names. On learning that he was from Jammu and Kashmir, they took him into custody blindfolded.

“Next morning, I learnt I was at Shahi Bagh ATS in Ahmedabad. After questioning started, they realised I was innocent. A young police officer ordered my release. However, a Deputy SP instructed officials to hold me for a day. There had been a blast in Delhi (Lajpat Nagar) and they were looking for a Kashmiri to frame. There was a red alert but I had no knowledge about it,” Goni said, adding that they continued to keep him in “illegal detention”.

He said he was kept in 14 days’ police remand without being produced before a judge. “They showed me to be a Pakistani national. They were in such a hurry to send me to Sabarmati jail that they did not even get my signatures on the chargesheet or my purported statement,” he said, adding that the officers knew he was innocent but had to detain him until they got the real culprits.

Within hours of reaching Sabarmati jail, he said, he was taken to Rajasthan on transit remand. “During the entire 18-hour journey to Jaipur, they made me sit on the stepney of the jeep, handcuffed and face covered with a cloth.” There they slapped two cases —- for blasts in Sawai Mansingh Stadium at Jaipur and a bus near Samleti village —- on him and sought 14-day police remand in each case. “They kept me in detention but did not question me for 28 days,” he said. “They produced me before an IGP Rathore. He gave me tea in his office and told me he knew I was innocent, and that he would ensure I am not framed.”

Then he was taken to Jaipur Central jail. However, within two hours, they brought him out on 14-day police remand in the stadium blast case, and then sent him back to jail. Eight days later he was taken to Delhi in connection with the Lajpat Nagar blast, and kept there for 14 days “without any questioning’’. On the last day, he said, the investigating officer made him sign a statement purportedly recorded under Section 161 of CrPC, but it did not contain any serious charge.

“The judge sent me to Tihar jail pending trial. While trial started in Delhi and Ahmedabad, Rajasthan police in 1998 withdrew charges of my involvement in the stadium blast as they had arrested another group,” Goni said. In September 2008, a court in Gujarat acquitted him of the charge of being a Pakistani terrorist.

In 2010, he was acquitted in the Lajpat Nagar blast case, with the judge observing that he was kept in jail for 14 years though the charges were not maintainable, Goni recalled. After this he was taken into custody by Rajasthan police to face trial in the Samleti blast case. In 2014, the trial court gave life term to five accused. They appealed in the Rajasthan High Court, which pronounced its order earlier this week.

A BSc graduate from Jammu University, Goni was 34 at the time of his arrest. He was running a middle school along with a private tuition centre in Bhaderwah. Goni said his false implication in case after case and prolonged trials had ruined his life. He could not meet his mother, who died in hospital, as he could not get parole from Supreme Court, he said. Pointing out that he would try to start life afresh, Goni said that many of his students are now doctors, engineers and even judges. “I may not be able to recognise them, but they will certainly recognise me,” he said.

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/after-23-years-in-jail-and-acquittal-in-3-states-faith-unshaken-in-system-5857471/

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Hindus, Muslims Must Trust Each Other: Congress Leader

July 27, 2019

Congress leader Salman Khurshid on Saturday said Hindus and Muslims living in India must trust each other.

“Both Hinduism and Islam have some very fine elements and combined together they can present an ideal scenario,” he said here at an event to launch his new book titled ‘Visible Muslim, Invisible Citizen’.

The event was organised under the aegis of Prabha Khaitan Foundation’s initiative ‘Kitab’.

Talking about reservation, the former Union minister said when it was mooted after the country’s independence, it had a purpose but over the years, the quota system had to be reviewed and modified.

Some sections had to be excluded with the passage of time but it has now become a part of the political agenda of some parties.

“Even though the Supreme Court has issued guidelines that it (reservation) should not cross the 50 per cent limit, more communities and classes are demanding it,” he said.

Speaking on the Sachar Committee, he pointed out that its recommendations were “brilliant” and had they been implemented, the country would have witnessed the growth of secularism.

However, the report was dropped because it was dubbed as “pro-Muslim”, he alleged.

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/hindus-muslims-must-trust-each-other-salman-khurshid-5857120/

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Rise of anti-immigrant parties compounds problems for Europe’s Muslims

July 28, 2019

ABU DHABI: The seemingly unstoppable rise of anti-establishment political forces in recent years has added a new layer of complication to Europe’s immigration question.

The results of May’s European Parliament elections revealed the true extent of the popularity of far-right, nationalist parties, all but ruling out constructive debates on the politically sensitive topic of migrants and asylum seekers as well as the grievances of minority groups, of whom Muslims happen to be the most prominent.

The gains made by right-wing and populist nationalist parties in the European Parliament elections have left Muslims of European countries and the (mostly Muslim) communities of migrants and refugees on uncertain ground. In the absence of political will to engage with the communities concerned, it is difficult to see how the EU can address both the migrant issue and the Muslim question in a fair manner.

For the first time in 40 years, previously dominant center-right and center-left blocs no longer hold a majority in the European Parliament. Centrist parties have suffered political reverses across all member states, especially in their traditional strongholds of Germany and France. Migration has turned out to be a decisive factor — and the bane of the continent’s established political parties — from the refugee crisis of 2015 all the way to this year’s elections.

Even European countries that had long been seen as reliable bastions of centrist politics failed to defy the upsurge of populist nationalism. UKIP grabbed 31.7 percent of votes cast in Britain in the European Parliament elections, while in France the far-right National Rally took 23.2 percent. In Italy, the Northern League, led by Matteo Salvini, won 33.43 percent, up from a mere 6.2 percent in the 2014 elections. Elsewhere in Europe, Hungary’s ruling right-wing Fidesz party, which vowed to further tighten the country’s rules on migration, rolled up impressive gains with 52 percent.

Despite steadily decreasing arrivals to Europe and a substantial difference in the “immigration and asylum” situation between 2015 and 2019, many European governments remain deadlocked on a planned revision of the EU’s immigration policy. In March 2019, EU interior ministers attending a European Council meeting tried but failed to iron out their differences, kicking the immigration can further down the road.

In the popular imagination, hostility to immigrants and asylum seekers is associated with Europe’s far-right groups, but the general tenor of the continent’s political discourse points to a hardening of positions across the spectrum. In recent times, especially during the election season, mainstream political parties and their stalwarts have taken to fear-mongering and touting harsh measures to limit or dissuade migration.

Violence against Muslims reached a peak in the run-up to the enactment of the anti-hijab laws in several European countries. Austria approved a hijab ban in primary schools, while the French Senate voted to ban mothers who wear the hijab from accompanying their children on school trips. In 2018, up to 580 anti-Muslim attacks took place in Germany alone.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel may have been among the few European leaders to welcome large numbers of political refugees, but even she now says some of the migration policies are problematic. The growing appeal of anti-immigrant parties could be a factor behind the new-found necessity of politicians of even Merkel’s stature to sound tough on immigration. Whatever the real reason, such rhetoric does little to address the underlying problems, much less to resolve them.

“There are ongoing policies against Muslims (in Europe). Since 2008, we have seen the rise of populism — not only right-wing but also left-wing populism,” said Belgium’s Mahinur Ozdemir, the youngest and the first hijab-wearing member of the European Parliament. “Traditional parties, as they become unable to answer the people’s needs through traditional ways, instead of getting more democratized, get more populist and grasp racist rhetoric.”

Ironically, the change in the political rhetoric has coincided with a sharp fall in the number of migrants and refugees making it to the continent’s shores. In January 2019, arrivals to Europe were at their lowest in five years; the peak was reached during the 2015 refugee crisis with more than 1 million arrivals. In the first three months of 2019, applications for just over 10,200 refugees were submitted by the UNHCR for resettlement in 17 EU member states.

According to the UNHCR, this is one-third of the total applications submitted in 2018, and 60 percent of the average rate of 16,960 applications per year during the previous 10 years. Since the beginning of 2019, six EU countries — Germany, Sweden, France, Norway, the UK and the Netherlands — have received 81 percent of all resettlement applications.

In the run-up to the European Council meeting in March, the European Commission (EC) reviewed the progress made since the 2015 refugee crisis. Frans Timmermans, the EC’s first vice president, noted that “while the EU is no longer experiencing the migration crisis, there are structural problems within its policies that ought to be urgently addressed in moving forward.”

The Dutch diplomat’s statement could be interpreted as an acknowledgement of a lack of consistency in Europe’s immigration policy, with talk of safe passage, human rights and greater cooperation going hand in hand with a regime of tighter border controls. Between the two extremes, there are some political parties that are eager to export the continent’s migration problems to third countries, with the controversial Malta agreement between Italy and Libya’s Government of National Accord serving as a viable template.

None of this is to say that attempts to address what Timmermans called “structural problems” are doomed to failure. For all the ethnic cleansing, genocide and institutional discrimination to which Muslims of Europe have been subjected since the outbreak of brutal wars in the former Yugoslavia, Islam is deeply woven into Europe’s tapestry of many different religions. Since the end of World War II, vibrant new Muslim communities came into existence as a result of guest-worker programs and the arrival of people fleeing political persecution.

The countries that have taken in the largest number of Muslim refugees all happen to have a thriving network of Muslim civic organizations and youth platforms. Platforms catering to the needs of Muslims set up by young European Muslims, such as the London-based the Muslim Vibe, Brussels-based Mvslim.com and Paris-based Oumma.com, are trying to give a voice to the European Muslim community, including Muslim refugees. These platforms see themselves as being run by staff who are representative of their audience and conscious of the growing presence of Muslim communities in Europe in all fields except policy-making.

A Gallup poll conducted in 2008 underscored the respect that Muslims have for Europe’s democratic institutions. Muslim respondents are likely, sometimes more likely than the general public, to  express confidence in official institutions. For instance, two-thirds of Muslims in London (64 percent) said they had confidence in the UK government, compared with just 36 percent of the British public. At the same time, Muslims in three of the Europe’s largest capitals (69 percent in London, 66 percent in Paris, 87 percent in Berlin) felt that their communities should be more involved in politics.

Yet, political representation remains woefully unrepresentative of the Muslim population’s size, needs and expectations. In the European Parliament, there were only seven Muslim MEPs out of 751 before the May elections. Such poor political representation of the continent’s second-largest religious group would seem shocking in itself. But it looks even more unjustifiable considering that Muslims are expected to make up more than 4 percent of Europe’s population by 2020, according to the Pew Research Center. The political landscape after the European Parliament elections reveals the polarization of society between non-Muslim and Muslim Europeans in many countries. Until now, EU members have managed to get away with treating the vexing immigration question in the same way as the Muslim question — by avoiding it. But it is past time for European governments to appreciate the diversity of Muslim views and issues and treat the community as trusted partners. While Muslims have certainly not introduced pluralism to Europe, their presence is a stark reminder of the continent’s failure to practice it.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1531766/world

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Iranian exiles rally in London to demand regime change in Tehran

SARAH GLUBB

July 28, 2019

Thousands of exiled Iranian dissidents rallied in Trafalgar Square in London on Saturday to demand regime change in Tehran, urging new UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to get behind their campaign.

The event organized by the National Council of Resistance of Iran came amid tension between London and Tehran over the seizure of a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.

As the rally took place in the British capital, Iran snubbed a diplomatic initiative by Oman to mediate in the tanker dispute, and tried to shift the blame for the stand-off onto other regional countries.

In further evidence that tough US sanctions are crippling the Iranian economy, new figures showed that China’s crude oil imports from Iran sank by almost 60 percent in June compared with a year earlier.

The rally in London was one of a series of protests being held across Europe and in Washington, DC. The Iranian government was one of the most dangerous in the world, operating in one of the most concerning areas, former Conservative MP Brian Binley told Arab News.

 “I promise I will do my best to arrange a meeting with Boris Johnson, in conjunction with my colleagues, and attempt to get a better reaction to the Iranian situation than we’ve had from previous governments,” he said.

Struan Stevenson, coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change, said: “We want regime change, we want to get rid of this evil regime. We’re here underneath the statue of Admiral Nelson. What would Nelson make of a British ship being seized by pirates? He would be turning in his grave.

“So our message today to Boris Johnson is to be tough on this regime as they are spreading terrorism and war across the Middle East and the world.”

Meanwhile Tehran rejected an attempt at mediation by Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi in the dispute over Iran’s illegal seizure of the British tanker.

“Some of the region’s countries have not only removed the possibility of talks because of hasty and arrogant moves and behavior, but have also made managing regional crises a serious challenge,” Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, told the Omani diplomat.

Shamkhani also criticized a British plan for a European coalition to escort tankers in the Gulf.

“Security measures for the region must use local capabilities and cooperation between regional countries, and foreign countries’ interference will achieve nothing but increase problems,” he said.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1531846/world

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Rohingya refugees press citizenship demands in talks with Myanmar

July 28, 2019

DHAKA: Rohingya refugees pressed their demand to be granted Myanmar citizenship in a meeting on Saturday with a delegation from Yangon.

The meeting, held at the Cox’s Bazar refugee camp in southeast Bangladesh, is the first between the Myanmar government and Rohingya Muslims since their exodus from their homeland in August 2017 to flee rampaging Buddhiest vigilantes.

The 17-member delegation from Myanmar arrived in Bangladesh on Friday night on a three-day visit to discuss repatriation issues with the refugees. The delegation included five members from ASEAN states led by the permanent secretary of the Myanmar Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Myint Thu.

A 35-member team of Rohingya community leaders participated in the Saturday meeting, which lasted for more than three hours.

The meeting is an outcome of Bangladesh’s efforts to persuade Myanmar to send a delegation to convince the Rohingyas about the situation in Rakhine —the province in Myanmar where most of the refugees came from — to help them decide about repatriation.

Sayed Ullah, secretary of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights, said the refugee delegation simply pressed their citizenship demand.

”They didn’t say anything new. The Myanmar delegation members requested us to accept the National Verification Card (NVC), but what will we do with this without the citizenship rights?” Ullah told Arab News.

”We have demanded for further dialogue over repatriation issues in the presence of a third party and they have agreed with us," he added.

Mohammad Shamsuddoza, of the Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC), said: ”The good thing is that the Myanmar side have agreed with the proposal for further dialogue. But the next date and venue of the meeting is yet to be fixed.”

The delegation will meet the same group of Rohingyas on Sunday again, said Shamsuddoza.

Another Bangladeshi high official who was present in the meeting said, ”Initially it took some time to break the ice during the meeting between Myanmar authorities and the Rohingya refugees. But it was fine as the time went on.”

Some Bangladeshi experts have reservations about Myanmar and its talk of repatriation.

"We shouldn’t expect much from Myanmar. They don’t recognize the Rohingya Muslims, along with other minorities of the country. The military junta wanted to make a Buddhist nationalist country in Myanmar,” Ambassador S. M. Rashed Ahmed Chowdhury, former Bangladesh envoy to Japan, told Arab News.

He opined that all the Myanmar efforts are ”eye wash” and only to ”divert” international pressure from the country.

Ambassador Chowdhury, who is also the former UN regional administrator of Kosovo, said: ”Myanmar should allow a buffer state in Rakhine which will be monitored and controlled by the international forces. Only the recognition of citizenship of the Rohingyas can bring a sustainable solution of the Rohingya crisis.”

Bangladesh is currently hosting more than 1.1 million Rohingyas who fled the persecution of the Myanmar army in their homeland in Rakhine.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1531841/world

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Intra-Afghan negotiations to take place after U.S.-Taliban agreements: Khalilzad

28 Jul 2019

The U.S. envoy for Afghan peace Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad has said the intra-Afghan negotiations will take place after U.S.-Taliban agreements.

Ambassador Khalilzad said in a Twitter post “Lot of chatter in Kabul about intra-Afghan negotiations. To clarify, those negotiations will occur after we conclude our own agreements and they will take place between the Taliban and an inclusive and effective national negotiating team consisting of senior government officials, key political party representatives, civil society and women.”

Ambassador Khalilzad is in Kabul as part of his latest trip to facilitate a peace in Afghanistan.

He met with President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and other officials earlier this week.

The State Department said Ambassador Khalilzad will resume talks with Taliban in Qatar after concluding his trip in Afghanistan.

This comes as the seventh round of peace talks between U.S. and Taliban representatives end in Doha earlier this month.

https://www.khaama.com/intra-afghan-negotiations-to-take-place-after-u-s-taliban-agreements-khalilzad-03467/

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Saudi Arabia, Israel get away with infanticide due to US support: Commentator

Jul 28, 2019

A New York-based author and commentator says acts of infanticide by the Saudi and Israeli regimes continue because they have the support of the United States government.

Riyadh and Tel Aviv have been designated respectively the first and second regimes on a United Nations (UN) list of international child killers. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently submitted the list — the annual Children and Armed Conflict Report — to the UN Security Council, where the US is a permanent member.

Author and commentator Naseer al-Omari told Press TV’s The Debate program on Saturday that, owing to Washington’s support for the two regimes, “not much” had happened as a result of the UN’s successive condemnations of the acts of bloodshed by Riyadh and Tel Aviv.

The Saudis have even “executed more people and enlisted children in war” as US President Donald Trump’s administration would increase its support for them in the aftermath of every UN measure.

According to the UN list, over the past year, the Saudi-led coalition waging war on Yemen killed 729 children, while Israel killed 57 kids and injured more than 2,600 across the occupied Palestinian territories.

Most recently, Trump vetoed a congressional move against American arms sales to Saudi Arabia last Wednesday, “allowing the Saudi to have more weapons,” Omari said.

“Make no mistake about it, the Saudi regime and the Israelis are protected by the Trump administration,” he said.

Michael Lane, the North Carolina-based founder of the American Institute for Foreign Policy think tank, who was also a guest on the show, acknowledged that “it’s horrific and it’s grotesque” for any regime’s name to make the UN list.

Asked why the UN measures had failed to stop Riyadh and Tel Aviv’s infanticide, he said, “The United Nations is not the most effective organization in the world.”

He also alleged that the Saudis “are actively taking steps to reduce that number.”

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/28/602050/Saudi-Arabia-Israel-UN-report-child-killing

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Takfiri terror rages despite Nigerian government claim of crippling it

Jul 28, 2019

Daesh-linked Boko Haram terrorists have attacked mourners returning from a funeral in Nigeria's restive northeast and killed at least 23 people.

Local militia and residents said the attackers on three motorbikes opened fire on a group of men as they walked back from a funeral in Nganzai district near the state capital Maiduguri Sunday morning.

"Our men recovered 23 dead bodies from the scene of the attack, which happened this morning," local militia leader Bunu Bukar Mustapha told Agence France-Presse.

Boko Haram and its Daesh-supported ISWAP splinter have intensified attacks on civilian and military targets in recent months, despite the Nigerian government's insistence that the terrorists have been defeated.

Some observers allege that certain Nigerian officials are profiting from the unrest via corruption and have little interest in ending the bloodshed.

Rights groups have accused some Nigerian security forces of abuses in the fight against Boko Haram including extra-judicial killings and mass arrests.

The Nigerian government's failure to confront Takfiri terrorists contrasts with its heavy-handed crackdown on peaceful protests by supporters of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky who is held in jail despite the supreme court's order to release him.

Boko Haram militants attacked a camp for displaced people outside Maiduguri last Thursday, killing two residents and looting food supplies after burning a nearby military base.

Around 27,000 people have been killed in the decade-long Takfiri terrorism which has spilled over into neighboring Chad, Niger and Cameroon and forced more than two million people to flee their homes.

Boko Haram gained international notoriety in April 2014 when it kidnapped nearly 300 schoolgirls in the northern Nigerian town of Chibok.

While many schoolgirls have since been freed, countless other people abducted over the decade remain lost to their loved ones.

Suicide bombings and mass kidnappings are the hallmarks of Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria, where many residents say life has been set back by decades.

Daesh, Boko Haram and other Takfiri terrorist groups are ideologically inspired by the Wahhabi school of thought which is openly promoted and practiced in Saudi Arabia.

Nigeria is home to a huge but diverse Salafist movement, with Saudi Arabia having a significant influence over its development of Salafism in the African country's north, the Washington Post has reported.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/28/602047/Nigeria-Boko-Haram-Attack

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India

 

Final secret negotiations in India’s Babri-temple dispute from July 29

July 28, 2019

Bobby Naqvi

Dubai: A high-powered mediation panel seeking an out-of-court settlement for India’s over a century old temple-mosque dispute will launch the final round of secret negotiations with Muslim and Hindu litigants in New Delhi on July 29, Gulf News can exclusively reveal.

The mediation panel that includes Justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla, spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu, was set up in March by Supreme Court which is hearing a clutch of petitions challenging the order of a lower court which divided a disputed piece of land into three parts – two to Hindus and one to Muslims.

The case, known as Babri Masjid-Ram Temple dispute first started during the British rule in 1885 when Hindus sought control of the Mughal era mosque claiming that their revered deity Ram was born at the spot in Ayodhya town.

This mosque was demolished in 1992 by Hindu zealots, triggering nationwide sectarian violence, killing thousands.

On July 15, Gulf News reported that a solution to this dispute may be on the horizon after Muslim litigants indicated to the mediation panel that they are ready to give up claims on the 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya.

Three days later on July 18, the mediation panel submitted a progress report to the Supreme Court which asked the negotiation team to submit its final report by July 31 and adjourned the case till August 2.

“To prepare this final report, the mediation panel will hold a final round of negotiations from July 29. The secret negotiations will continue for four days from July 29 at UP Sadan in New Delhi,” sources familiar with the mediation process told Gulf News on Saturday.

“During these four days, the panel will hold negotiations with Hindu and Muslim litigants separately and at some point of time may have joint discussions with all the litigants,” the sources explained. The sources declined to be identified for this report as the Supreme Court has barred Indian media from reporting the mediation panel deliberations.

Earlier this month, sources had told Gulf News that “a majority of the Muslim litigants have decided to settle this dispute by giving up the claim on the mosque site and allow construction of a Ram temple.”

On Saturday, the sources said Muslim stakeholders involved in the negotiations are moving forward cautiously to avoid any backlash from the community. "But the things are moving in the right direction," the sources added.

What will happen from July 29

“The mediation panel has to draft a final report and define issues on which a negotiated settlement of the dispute will be proposed to the Supreme Court. It will have to take the litigants’ consent in writing. On August 1, the panel will submits its report to the Chief Justice who will hear the issue the following day,” the sources explained.

On Saturday, Gulf News spoke to Babri Masjid Action Committee convener Zafaryab Jilani who confirmed the meetings in New Delhi.

“I am not attending due to personal engagements but our lawyers MR Shamshad and Shakeel Ahmed will represent the Muslim litigants,” he said. Jilani, who is also a member of All India Personal Law Board, met the mediation panel on July 20 in Lucknow, capital of Uttar Pradesh state.

“I can’t disclose what we discussed in that meeting where the Muslim board secretary Wali Rahmani was also present,” Jilani said, emphasizing on the sensitivity of the issue.

The mediation panel sent the invites for the secret negotiations on July 24 but it was not immediately clear how many litigants would be part of this meeting.

Iqbal Ansari, son of Hashim Ansari, who was the main litigant in the Babri dispute case, however, told Gulf News on Saturday that his lawyers have instructed him not to attend. Hashim Ansari, a resident of Ayodhya was one of the oldest litigant in the case and after his death, Iqbal, his son is fighting the legal battle.

“A total 25 litigants and their lawyers have received the invites,” Ansari said.

https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/india/final-secret-negotiations-in-indias-babri-temple-dispute-from-july-29-1.1564290725046

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Owaisi: Sad only Muslim MPs voted against NIA, UAPA bills

Jul 28, 2019

NEW DELHI: All India Majlise-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi is disappointed that only Muslim members in Lok Sabha chose to vote against the legislations for enhancing the powers and scope of National Investigation Agency and amendments to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Other than Owaisi, his party MP Imtiyaz Jalil, Haji Fazlur Rehman (BSP), K Navaskani, Mohd Basheer and PK Kunhalikutty (Indian Union Muslim League), Hasnain Masoodi (National Conference) and Badruddin Ajmal( AUDF) were the other MPs who had voted against the UAPA bill which got 287 votes in favour.

Although Owaisi said one non-Muslim member also opposed the NIA bill, he expressed concern that other opponents of the two legislations refused to stand up and be counted against the two legislations aggressively moved by home minister Amit Shah. "It is true that the eight MPs who have voted against the UAPA bill are followers of Islam. But this trend is a serious issue and should be a matter of concern for all parties," Owaisi told TOI.

Owaisi was in the forefront of the resistance to the NIA bill and pressed for a division. In the resultant headcount, other opponents of the bill refrained from translating their criticism into votes against the bill and instead preferred to walk out.

Shah had instantly accepted the demand for division on the bill which, just like the one designed to change the UAPA, has been criticised by human rights organisations. Asked to explain the reluctance, Owaisi said: "I can't speak on behalf of all parties but I must say it was Congress which brought this legislation and they are responsible for this draconian law."

The Hyderabad MP, who has attacked Congress's "secular" credentials and accused the party of letting down Muslims, said, "I strongly opposed the bill and voted against it as it marks a violation of fundamental rights. As Fidel Castro had said, history will absolve me when innocents will suffer due to this draconian law."

Owaisi reiterated Congress would realise what they have done only if their leader ends up spending several months in prison. Owaisi had attacked Congress for being the original architects of NIA and UAPA, saying "They are the culprits. When they are in power they behave like BJP, when they lose power they become big brother of Muslims."

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/owaisi-sad-only-muslim-mps-voted-against-nia-uapa-bills/articleshow/70415386.cms

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Additional troops spark panic in Jammu & Kashmir

Jul 28, 2019

SRINAGAR: The Centre's decision to deploy 100 more companies of paramilitary forces in J&K has fuelled rumourmongering about 'impending' abrogation of Articles 35A and 370, and spread panic among people. These two Articles of the Constitution give special status to the state.

"I've asked my husband to bring rice and other foodstuff for maximum period to avoid any shortage," said Fatima, a homemaker. Her husband Manzor Ahmad said rumours had been doing the rounds that the Centre was planning to revoke the Articles. "I am worried about the education of my children because it will get affected if the Centre repeals the Articles as it will lead to a major law and order situation," said Sajjad Ahmad Dar of Peerbagh here. Similar apprehensions were expressed by Musarat Shakeel of Batamallo, who also fear paralysis of life in the Valley.

Deployment of troops has created fear: Mehbooba

The whole Valley echoed with rumours of abrogation of Article 35A and it will definitely lead to a major breakdown of normal life," Dr Musarat said. Abdul Majid of Bhagat in Srinagar said: "Nationalist elements would be targeted by mobs in the event the Articles are tinkered with."

Although additional director general (ADG) of police (law and order) Munir Khan on Saturday appealed to the people not to lend credence to such rumours, the appeal seemed to have little impact on residents.

Denying any motive behind the fresh deployment, CRPF IG Ravideep Sahi said, "Induction (of forces) is a continuous process and as and when the need is felt to strengthen the law and order grid, and also on anti-militancy front, more forces are inducted. In the past, we also had induction of troops. It is routine and nothing special in it."

Meanwhile, J&K politicians on Saturday hit out at the Centre for the deployment of additional companies. Former CM Mehbooba Mufti tweeted: "Centre's decision to deploy additional 10,000 troops has created fear psychosis among people. "

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/additional-troops-spark-panic-in-jammu-kashmir/articleshow/70415319.cms

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PM Narendra Modi calls for more integrated defence forces, global effort on terror

Jul 28, 2019

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday asked the Army, Navy and Air Force to better integrate themselves as they modernise their capabilities, even as he warned Pakistan that its nefarious designs would be thwarted every time, like they were in Kargil in 1999.

"The Kargil victory was symbol of India's might, determination, capability, discipline and patience… Wars are fought not by governments but by the whole country… Governments come and go… Kargil was the victory of every Indian," said Modi, while lauding the resolve and sacrifices made by the armed forces+ at a Kargil Vijay Diwas function to mark the 20th anniversary of the conflict.

From the very beginning, said the PM, Pakistan has conspired to redraw boundaries. "It happened in 1948, 1965 and 1971. In 1999, we foiled their evil designs once again… I had visited Kargil when war was at its peak. It was like a pilgrimage for me," he said.

"Pakistan did not expect such a powerful response in Kargil," he said, adding that the time had come for a united global effort to deal with countries resorting to proxy war and terrorism as instruments of state policy.

The Prime Minister used the occasion to emphasise on national unity, saying that there will be no slackening of efforts to protect the fruits of Independence.

Modi said the government is taking several measures to speed up the country's military modernisation as a top priority, with modern rifles, artillery guns and fighters now being made in India, and would not succumb to pressure or influence in matters of national security.

But the armed forces should also strive towards "jointness" despite "wearing different uniforms", he said. This came against the backdrop of the urgent need to transform the armed forces into lean, mean, rapidly deployable and integrated military, confronted as they are with only about 25% of the annual defence budget being left for modernisation after ballooning revenue expenditure (day-to-day operating costs and salaries) and pension bill.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pm-narendra-modi-calls-for-more-integrated-defence-forces-global-effort-on-terror/articleshow/70415281.cms

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Pakistani IED expert, local terrorist killed in Jammu and Kashmir encounter

Jul 27, 2019

SRINAGAR: In a major breakthrough, security forces gunned down dreaded Pakistani terrorist Munna Lahori, a top commander of Jaish-e-Muhammad, in an encounter in south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Saturday. Lahori was an expert in making IEDs and was responsible for a series of civilian killings in the area and attacks on security forces elsewhere in J&K.

Another local Kashmiri terrorist was also killed in the gunfight. He has been identified as Mir Zeenat Ul Islam of Turkawanghom in Shopian.

On credible inputs that some terrorists were present in the Banday Mohalla Bonbazar area of Shopian town, a cordon-and-search operation was launched jointly by SOG and Army in the wee hours of Saturday, a police spokesman said. During the search operation, the hiding terrorists fired upon the search party. The fire was retaliated, leading to the encounter and subsequent killings of the two terrorists, he added.

“Bodies of the two terrorists were retrieved from the site of the encounter,” the spokesman said, adding that while Lahori belonged to Jaish, Zeenat was a member of Hizbul Mujahideen.

Both the terrorists were wanted by law for their complicity in several crimes, including attacks on security establishments and civilian atrocities, he said.

“Lahori was involved in planning and executing a series of attacks on security establishments and many other civilian atrocities in the area. He played a major role in the IED blast on security forces in Arihal area of Pulwama on June 17 this year in which two security personnel were killed,” the spokesman said.

The slain Jaish terrorist was also responsible for two car blast attacks targeting security force vehicles this year — one at Banihal in Ramban on March 30 and the other at Arihal in Pulwama on June 17, he said. Lahori was involved in recruiting locals into terrorist ranks,” he added.

On Zeenat, he said, several criminal cases were registered against him. One such case pertained to abduction and killing of one Irfan Hameed of Zainapora.

Meanwhile, an army soldier was killed in cross-border firing initiated by Pakistan to facilitate infiltration of terrorists in Machil sector of frontier Kupwara district of north Kashmir on Saturday.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistani-ied-expert-local-terrorist-killed-in-jammu-and-kashmir-encounter/articleshow/70413976.cms

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Top Jaish bomb maker killed in south Kashmir’s overnight operation

Jul 27, 2019

Shishir Gupta

A top commander of Jaish-e-Mohammed Munna Bhai was killed on Saturday morning in an overnight gunfight with security forces in south Kashmir’s Shopian district. An associate of Munna Bhai, Zeenat-ul-Islam of Shopian, was also killed in the same operation. Munna Lahori, also known as Chhota Burmi, was from Pakistan and is accused of plotting several IED attacks in the south Kashmir region along with Ismail, another Pakistani Jaish commander. They were not only responsible for several bomb blasts attacks in Jammu and Kashmir but also for training and extending logistical support to the local terrorists in south Kashmir, a senior police officer said. Jaish had also used him to brainwash youngsters in the Kashmir valley and recruit them to the terror group.

Police said Saturday’s huge success came after a cordon and search operation was launched by security forces in Banday Mohalla Bonbazar area of district Shopian. During the search operation that started late last evening, Munna Bhai and Zeenat-ul-Islam fired at the search party. “The fire was retaliated leading to encounter,” a police statement said. It continued all night.

Munna Bhai, 19, had crossed over to Kashmir from Pakistan last year and is reported to have led the terror group’s use of bombs in vehicles, a tactic that could let them carry out attacks without risking their lives. Security officials say he had turned into some sort of an expert in making explosives and fitting them in vehicles for maximum impact.

Top security officials said Munnai Bhai and Ismail, as part of Pakistan Intelligence agency ISI’s new strategy maintained a low profile and never indulged in direct attacks. This helped them stay under the radar.

A senior official recalled how central intelligence agencies had got the first tip-off about their presence in the Kashmir valley almost a year back but it took them several months to identify and locate them.

Security forces had stepped up the intensive search for Munna Bhai after intelligence officials linked a terror attack on a mobile patrol team of the Rashtriya Rifles to the Jaish commander on June 17.

Two soldiers were killed in this attack in Arihal of Pulwama, several others including civilians were hurt. The attack had taken place just about 30 km from the location where a suicide bomber had attacked a convoy of the Central Reserve Police Force in February this year.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/top-jaish-commander-in-south-kashmir-killed-in-overnight-operation/story-pmy8JQBITGZMjnm7qePN2H.html

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JeM commander among 2 militants killed in Valley

Jul 28, 2019

Two militants, including a top Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) commander from Pakistan responsible for a car explosion last month that claimed the lives of two army soldiers, were killed on Saturday in a gunbattle with security forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian district, the police said.

The police identified the slain commander as Munna Lahori, alias Bihari, and his associate, a local, as Mir Zeenat of the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM). The two were killed in a cordon-and-search operation launched jointly by army soldiers and the police in Bonbazar area of Shopian town, acting on information they had received about the presence of the militants.

“Both were wanted by the law for their complicity in several terror crimes including attacks on security establishments, and atrocities on civilians,” a police spokesman said.

Several cases had been registered against Zeenat including one relating to the abduction and killing of civilian Irfan Hameed of Zainapora.

“Similarly, Munna was involved in planning and executing a series of terror attacks on security establishments, and many other civilian atrocities in the area,” the spokesman said.

The JeM commander was allegedly involved in a case pertaining to the detonation of an improvised explosive device (IED) planted in a vehicle in the Arihal area of Pulwama on June 17 in which two security force personnel were killed.

“Several other terror crime cases were registered against him. He was also responsible for the recruitment of locals to the terrorist ranks,” the police spokesman said.

Police said Munna Labori was used by the Jaish for recruitment of militants in south Kashmir, adding that incriminating material including arms and ammunition had been recovered from the site of the shootout, the third between security forces and militants so far this month.

A 19-year-old, Adnan Ahmad Channa of Baramulla, who joined LeT militants some four months ago, was killed in an encounter with security forces in north Kashmir on July 17. On July 5, a Hizbul Mujahideen militant was killed in a gunfight with security forces in Shopian district.

Last month, 24 militants were killed in encounters with security forces, which lost 12 of their own men. Five Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed in an attack on security forces in Anantnag on June 12. Jammu and Kashmir police officer Arshad Khan, who was injured in the attack, died on June 16.

The Anantnag attack was the worst since the February 14 suicide car bombing that left 40 CRPF personnel dead in Pulwama. The JeM claimed responsibility for the attack, in reprisal for which the Indian Air Force bombed a terror camp run by the group in Balakot in Pakistan.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/jem-commander-among-2-militants-killed-in-valley/story-pLayVl4EhYqZqVGTJGp3OM.html

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Europe

 

Russian officials in Iran visit Russian members of detained UK vessel

27 July 2019

Representatives of the Russian embassy in Iran have visited three Russian crew members from the British vessel Stena Impero detained by Iran, the Russian embassy in Tehran said on Saturday.

The three crew members are in good health and have no complaints about their conditions, but are still being held on the vessel, the embassy told Reuters.

The Russian citizens can contact their families, the embassy said, adding it was in talks with Iranian officials to release the men.

Iranian commandos seized the British-flagged tanker in the world’s most important waterway for oil shipments on July 19, two weeks after British forces captured an Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar, accusing it of violating sanctions on Syria.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/07/27/Russian-officials-in-Iran-visit-Russian-members-of-detained-UK-vessel.html

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Johnson Forced To Tow Establishment Line When Dealing with Iran

Jul 27, 2019

Britain’s new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has immediately been engrossed in controversy upon assuming the highest office in the land.

He has landed in hot water because of his father’s hard-hitting interview with Press TV.

Speaking to Press TV on July 25, two days after his son was declared prime minister, Stanley Johnson said he was looking forward to seeing Boris “building bridges with Iran”.

Talking up Boris’ fascination with ancient history, and his apparent “love” for Iran, Johnson Snr claimed that:  “Iran means so much to him, so the chance to have long-standing relationship with a country with such a fantastic history...”

Johnson Snr even proposed the following solution to the tankers dispute: “I think the best thing would be to say, look, we let your ship go you let our ship go… easy peasy”.

Stanley Johnson came under immediate attack from the British press for his supposedly “bizarre gaffe” on “Iranian state TV”.

For his part, Boris Johnson explicitly opposed his father’s position, and possibly his own beliefs, by parroting the establishment line on this issue.

Despite all the hot issues of the day, not least Brexit, Johnson opted to focus on Iran as his top priority at the very beginning of his premiership.  

Addressing parliament for the first time as prime minister, Johnson attacked the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, for “appearing” on Press TV and “siding” with Iran.

Johnson was subsequently ridiculed by the tabloid press for attacking Corbyn for committing the same supposed sin as his own father.

However, this about-face is hardly surprising as, at the end of the day, the PM is expected to follow the old establishment guidelines on foreign policy matters.

If anything, this episode demonstrates the power of the establishment in imposing its values, requirements and policy priorities on the highest office of the land.

Boris Johnson has developed a reputation as an amateur historian. Back in 2006 he authored the book “The Dream of Rome” to showcase his historical knowledge.

The book was also the subject of a BBC documentary, with Johnson as the star of the show, thus further burnishing his credentials as a historian.

If he was true to his training as an amateur historian, and a putative “lover” of Iran, then Johnson would take immediate steps to ease tensions with Iran.

Some international observers tend to lean toward his father’s view on the tankers dispute. They argue that releasing the Grace 1 super-tanker, which was unlawfully seized in the Gibraltar Strait by the Royal Marines earlier this month, would constitute a credible de-escalatory first step.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/27/601973/Johnson-to-Tow-Establishment-Line-on-Iran

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New UK govt urged to impose sanctions on Tehran

July 28, 2019

LONDON: The new British government, led by Boris Johnson, should do more to support the Iranian opposition and the “UK and Europe should impose sanctions on the malicious regime.”

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) held a rally in London on Saturday, as part of a last leg of a series of protests held across Europe and in Washington, DC to pressure governments to follow the Trump administration’s decisive policies against Iran and its threatening aggressions that undermine the security of the Middle East and the Gulf in particular.

The event coincided with the recent seizure of a British-owned oil tanker and it demonstrated the opposition's commitment to pressure the UK government to do more to stop the Iranian regime.

Dr. Matthew Offord, prominent Conservative MP for Hendon, said “the interest of the international community converges today with the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people, which simplifies in an Iran without the absolute rule of the theocracy.”

Speaking to Arab News, Brian Binley, former Conservative MP said the Iranian government is one of the most dangerous governments in the world, operating in one of the most concerning areas.

“I promise that I will do my best to arrange a meeting with Boris Johnson, the new prime minister, and I will arrange that meeting in conjunction with my colleagues, in order to speak to him and attempt to get a better reaction to the Iranian situation than we've had before from previous governments. I've been disappointed with my government's reaction,” Binley said to Arab News.

Meanwhile, Roger Lyons, former TUC president raised the issue of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a duel British-Iranian citizen who has been detained in Iran since 2016 and said the UK would not abandon her cause, again pressuring Johnson to do more to secure her release.

On the other hand, Lyons told Arab News that Labour leader “Jeremy Corbyn has been on the payroll of Iran's Press TV for far too long and he has been taking the side of the ayatollahs, rather than the Iranian people.”

Lastly, Struan Stevenson, coordinator of the campaign for Iran Change, said around 3,000 people attended the rally, in central London’s Trafalgar Square.

“We want regime change, we want to get rid of this evil regime. We're here appropriately underneath the statue of Admiral Nelson. What would Nelson make of a British flag ship being seized by pirates, a case of international criminal piracy in the Straits of Hormuz. He would be turning in his grave!”

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1531751/middle-east

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Russian diplomats visit British tanker detained by Iran

Elena Teslova 

27.07.2019

MOSCOW

Employees of the Russian Embassy in Iran Saturday visited the British Stena Impero tanker, detained by Tehran in the Strait of Hormuz.

The diplomats talked to the Russian citizens who are part of the vessel crew, the embassy said in a Twitter post.

"The health of the sailors is good, they are still on board. The embassy is in close contact with Iranian partners on the issue of the timing of their return to home," the ministry said in the post along with the photos of three crew members.

According to Russia’s TASS news agency, the embassy said the Russian citizens have no complaints, they are provided with all the things needed and can communicate with their relatives, but with some restrictions.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/russian-diplomats-visit-british-tanker-detained-by-iran/1542982

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South Asia

 

Kabul to hold talks with Taliban within next 2 weeks: Afghan official

July 28, 2019

An Afghan official says the government will hold its first-ever direct talks with the Taliban, with the meeting expected within the next two weeks.

The Taliban have been holding peace talks with the United States (US) for nearly a year but have refused to meet with the government, which it views as a puppet regime.

Abdul Salam Rahimi, Afghanistan's state minister for peace affairs, said Sunday that a 15-member government delegation will meet with the Taliban in Europe, without elaborating.

US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who is currently visiting Kabul, tweeted that another round of "intra-Afghan" talks will occur "after we conclude our own agreements."

He said it would include the Taliban and "an inclusive and effective national negotiating team consisting of senior government officials, key political party representatives, civil society and women."

https://www.dawn.com/news/1496714/kabul-to-hold-talks-with-taliban-within-next-2-weeks-afghan-official

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Myanmar Delegation Holds Repatriation Talks With Rohingya in Bangladesh

July 27, 2019

KUTUPALONG, BANGLADESH — A top-level Myanmar government delegation began repatriation talks with Rohingya leaders in a Bangladesh refugee camp on Saturday, an official said, with many of the Muslim minority fearing for their safety if they return home.

Some 740,000 Rohingya fled a 2017 crackdown by Myanmar's military and are living in squalid conditions in camps in Bangladesh's southeastern border district of Cox's Bazar.

The two countries signed a repatriation deal in November 2017 but so far virtually no Rohingya have volunteered to go back to Myanmar, where the group has faced decades of repression.

The Myanmar team, led by permanent foreign secretary U Myint Thu, arrived in Cox's Bazar on Saturday amid tightened security in the camps.

'Seemed positive'

The delegation visited Kutupalong — the world's largest refugee settlement — where they discussed repatriation with Rohingya community leaders over several hours, said Bangladesh refugee commissioner Mohammad Abul Kalam.

"Both parties seemed positive about it and the discussion will continue [Sunday]," he told AFP.

One of the Rohingya leaders who joined the talks, Dil Mohammad, said they "went well" as he reiterated demands for Myanmar to recognize Rohingya as an ethnic group.

"We hope this discussion will be fruitful. We told them that we won't return unless we are recognized as Rohingya in Myanmar," he said.

Myanmar denies the minority citizenship and refers to them as "Bengalis" — implying that the Rohingya are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. 

Second such session

It was the second time in less than a year that Myanmar officials were trying to persuade Rohingya refugees to return to their homeland in violence-wracked Rakhine state, after a repatriation offer was rejected by Rohingya leaders in October.

The massive camps have sparked tensions between the neighboring nations, with Bangladesh blaming Myanmar for delays in repatriating the refugees.

Dhaka has said it will not force any Rohingya to leave, while Myanmar has faced international pressure to allow the Rohingya to return to Rakhine and grant them citizenship rights.

The U.N. has complained that progress to address the refugee crisis has been far too slow.

The new visit comes in the wake of talks between Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.

Full report at:

https://www.voanews.com/south-central-asia/myanmar-delegation-holds-repatriation-talks-rohingya-bangladesh

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Ghani dissolves High Peace Council of Afghanistan

27 Jul 2019

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has issued a decree dissolving the High Peace Council of Afghanistan, officials in ARG Presidential Palace confirmed.

Sediq Sediqi, spokesperson of ARG Presidential Palace told reporters in Kabul that President Ghani has dissolved the High Peace Council of Afghanistan.

Sediqi further added that the responsibilities of High Peace Council will be transferred to State Ministry in Peace Affairs.

President Ghani established the new ministry, State Ministry in Peace Affairs a while ago and appointed his Chief of Staff Salam Rahimi as acting minister of the ministry.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/ghani-dissolves-high-peace-council-of-afghanistan-03465/

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Taliban sharpshooter killed in Alisheng district

27 Jul 2019

The security forces killed a Taliban sharpshooter after attacking a security post in Laghman province.

Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said the security forces killed the Taliban sharpshooter in Alisheng district.

Rahimi further added that the slain militant was using sophisticated weapons to carry out attacks against the security forces.

Furthermore, Rahimi said the slain militant had carried out numerous attacks and had martyred several security personnel.

The Taliban group has not commented in this regard so far.

The security situation in some districts of Laghman province has deteriorated during the recent months.

Taliban militants are active in some districts of province and often conduct terrorist related activities.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/taliban-sharpshooter-killed-in-alisheng-district-03459/

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Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Shakoor, his fighters killed; 14 others wounded in Faryab clash

28 Jul 2019

The security forces killed a Taliban commander and his six fighters during a clash in northern Faryab province.

The 209th Shaheen Corps in a statement said the security forces clashed with Taliban militants in Nawdara Village of Qaisar district.

The statement further added that the security forces killed Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Shakoor and his six fighters during the clash.

Furthermore, the 209th Shaheen Corps said the security forces also wounded 14 Taliban militants during the same clash.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/taliban-commander-mullah-abdul-shakoor-his-fighters-killed-14-others-wounded-in-faryab-clash-03470/

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Myanmar delegation holds repatriation talks with Rohingya in Bangladesh

27 July 2019

A top-level Myanmar government delegation began repatriation talks with Rohingya leaders in a Bangladesh refugee camp on Saturday, an official said, with many of the Muslim minority fearing for their safety if they return home.

Some 740,000 Rohingya fled a 2017 crackdown by Myanmar’s military and are living in squalid conditions in camps in Bangladesh’s southeastern border district of Cox’s Bazar.

The two countries signed a repatriation deal in November 2017 but so far virtually no Rohingya have volunteered to go back to Myanmar, where the group has faced decades of repression.

The Myanmar team, led by permanent foreign secretary U Myint Thu, arrived in Cox’s Bazar on Saturday amid tightened security in the camps.

The delegation visited Kutupalong -- the world’s largest refugee settlement -- where they discussed repatriation with Rohingya community leaders over several hours, said Bangladesh refugee commissioner Mohammad Abul Kalam.

“Both parties seemed positive about it and the discussion will continue tomorrow (Sunday),” he told AFP.

One of the Rohingya leaders who joined the talks, Dil Mohammad, said they “went well” as he reiterated demands for Myanmar to recognize Rohingya as an ethnic group.

“We hope this discussion will be fruitful. We told them that we won’t return unless we are recognized as Rohingya in Myanmar,” he said.

Myanmar denies the minority citizenship and refers to them as “Bengalis” -- inferring that the Rohingya are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

It is the second time in less than a year that Myanmar officials were trying to convince Rohingya refugees to return to their homeland in violence-wracked Rakhine state, after a repatriation offer was rejected by Rohingya leaders in October.

The massive camps have sparked tensions between the neighboring nations with Bangladesh blaming Myanmar for delays in repatriating the refugees.

Dhaka has said it will not force any Rohingya to leave, while Myanmar has faced international pressure to allow the Rohingya to return to Rakhine and grant them citizenship rights.

The UN has complained that progress to address the refugee crisis has been far too slow.

The new visit comes in the wake of talks between Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/07/27/Myanmar-delegation-holds-repatriation-talks-with-Rohingya-in-Bangladesh-.html

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Afghan official: Taliban suicide blast hits police, kills three

27 July 2019

An Afghan official says at least three police officers were killed when a Taliban suicide bomber targeted a district police headquarters in eastern Ghazni province.

Ahmad Khan Serat, provincial police chief’s spokesman, says the explosion on Saturday morning in the Ab Band district also wounded 12 policemen.

He says the Taliban, who control much of the province, used a stolen military Humvee in the attack, which partially destroyed the headquarters.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the bombing.

The Taliban hold sway in around half of Afghanistan and launch daily attacks across the country, mainly targeting Afghan security forces.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/07/27/Afghan-official-Taliban-suicide-blast-hits-police-kills-three.html

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Taliban reject direct talks with Afghan government

July 28, 2019

KABUL: The Taliban said on Sunday they will not hold direct talks with Afghan government and rejected a statement from a senior minister about plans to hold the such as meeting within the next two weeks, a senior Taliban official said.

“Intra-Afghan talks will start only after a foreign force withdrawal is announced,” said Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar.

Abdul Salam Rahimi, Afghanistan’s state minister for peace affairs, said Sunday that a 15-member government delegation will meet with the Taliban in Europe, without elaborating.

US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who is currently visiting Kabul, tweeted that another round of “intra-Afghan” talks will occur “after we conclude our own agreements.” He said it would include the Taliban and “an inclusive and effective national negotiating team consisting of senior government officials, key political party representatives, civil society and women.”

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1531911/world

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Mideast

 

Iranian military source: Missile tests are defensive, not against any country

27 July 2019

Iran’s missile tests are part of the country’s defensive needs and are not directed against any country, and Tehran does not need any power’s permission, the semi-official news agency Fars on Saturday quoted an Iranian military source as saying.

A US defense official said on Thursday that Iran tested what appeared to be a medium-range ballistic missile on Wednesday that travelled about 1,000 km. The test did not pose a threat to shipping or any US personnel in the region, the official said.

“An informed source at the armed forces staff said Iran’s missile tests are natural within its defensive needs. This missile capacity is not against any country, and only aims to respond to possible aggression,” Fars said. “Iran does not need the permission of any power in the world for its self-defense.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/07/27/Iranian-military-source-Missile-tests-are-defensive-not-against-any-country.html

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Palestinian killed by Israeli fire in Gaza border clashes: Gaza ministry

27 July 2019

A Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire during clashes on the Gaza border on Friday, the health ministry in the Hamas-run enclave announced.

In a statement the ministry said Ahmed Qura, 23, died “as a result of wounds sustained (from) the Israeli occupation forces’ fire.”

It said he had been hit in the stomach during demonstrations along the border fence east of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza.

Since March 2018, Palestinians in Gaza have been holding often violent demonstrations along the heavily guarded Israeli border.

Israeli forces often fire on the demonstrators, saying they are seeking to prevent the border being infiltrated.

At least 296 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza by Israeli fire since then, the majority during the border demonstrations.

Seven Israelis have been killed.

The protests have declined in intensity in recent months and Qura’s was the first death in weeks.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/07/27/Palestinian-killed-by-Israeli-fire-in-Gaza-border-clashes-Gaza-ministry-.html

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Omani FM arrives in Tehran amid regional tensions

27 July 2019

Oman’s Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs Yusuf bin Alawi arrived in Tehran on Saturday to discuss regional tensions with his Iranian counterpart.

“During the visit, he will meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and other officials in the Iranian Republic, where the latest regional developments in the region will be discussed,” Oman’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a tweet.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2019/07/27/Omani-FM-begins-visit-to-Tehran-to-discuss-regional-tensions.html

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Erdogan says Turkey will not keep silent on Israel’s new wave of terror

Jul 27, 2019

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has slammed a recent wave of terror and bloodshed waged by Israel against the Palestinians, saying Ankara will oppose anyone who supports the Tel Aviv regime.

“Whoever is on the side of Israel, let everyone know that we are against them,” said Erdogan while addressing senior provincial officials from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara on Saturday.

The remarks came amid a new wave of Israeli crackdown in the occupied Palestinian territories as regime forces continue with demolition of the Palestinian houses in occupied areas in the West Bank and in the Jerusalem al-Quds.

Israel came under renewed international criticism earlier this week after its forces stormed a neighborhood of the Sur Baher village in the West Bank early on Monday and destroyed Palestinian homes.

Tel Aviv claims the buildings had been constructed illegally and built too close to Israel’s apartheid wall in the region.

Palestinians, however, say Israel is using security as a pretext to force them out of the area as part of long-term efforts to expand settlements built on occupied Palestinian land and roads linking them.

Governments and rights campaigners have slammed the demolitions as a serious blow to international efforts to reach peace in the occupied territories.

Erdogan said Turkey will continue to promote the Palestinian cause regardless of efforts to undermine it mainly by supporters of the Israeli regime.

“We do not approve of silence on the state terror that Israel blatantly carries out in Palestine,” said the Turkish president.

The comments came several days after the United States moved to block a United Nations Security Council draft resolution seeking to condemn Israel’s demolition of Palestinian properties.

Relations between Turkey and the US have soured in recent times due to Washington’s sanctions on Ankara which come over Turkey’s increasing defense cooperation with Russia.

Erdogan said US sanctions against Turkey would not deter the country from consolidating its military ties with Russia, especially those centered on Turkey’s deployment of modern Russian missile defense system.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/27/602035/Turkey-Erdogan-Israel-violation-terror-Palestine

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Ultra nationalists violently disrupt protest for Syrians in Turkey

Jul 27, 2019

An ultra-nationalist group violently disrupts a protest by several NGOs who had gathered, under heavy police presence, in a show of support for Syrian refugees in Turkey.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/27/602026/Ultra-nationalists-violently-disprupt-protest-for-Syrians-in-Turkey

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Mourners hold funeral for Palestinian killed in Gaza protest

Jul 27, 2019

Palestinians have held a funeral procession for a man shot and killed by Israeli forces during weekly protests along the border with Israel.

The body of Ahmed Al Karra was carried through the streets of Khan Younis draped in a Hamas flag while crowds chanted "God is the greatest."

Gaza health officials reported that Al Karra was killed during the protests which saw thousands of Palestinian gathered along the frontier with Israel, with 40 others wounded throughout the day. It was the first fatality in a few weeks, with Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations working to keep the border calm.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/27/602013/funeral-Palestinian-West-Bank-Gaza-clashes-Israel

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Malaysian PM: Israel ‘main cause of terrorism in world’

Jul 27, 2019

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says the occupation of Palestinian territories as part of attempts to form an illegal entity, called Israel, has been the main cause of terrorism in the world.

In remarks quoted by Turkey's state-owned Anadolu news agency on Saturday, Mahathir stressing that if the causes of terrorism were not dealt with, then it would be difficult to put a stop to them.

“The main thing that we think we should always stress is the causes of terrorism. Today, there is already a consensus almost to blame terrorism on Muslims,” said the Malaysian premier who was in Turkey on an official visit.

“But the fact you said, after the seizure of Palestine, and the disregard of international law by Israel, this has led to so-called acts of terrorism. But in order to get rid of terrorism, we need to know the reason why they terrorize unless you treat the causes of terrorism, you are not going to be able to stop terrorism,” he said.

Mahathir called on the Tel Aviv regime to allow Palestinians to return back and reclaim their property, or at least agree on stopping the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements.

“And if we know, beside this, the causes for terrorism, and we treat them, we take action to stop this injustice perpetrated on the Palestinians, I think there will be less terrorism or no terrorism all over the world,” he said.

Mahathir has previously dubbed Israel as “a state of robbers”, saying his country enjoys friendly relations with every country in the world except Israel.

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

Some 7,000 Palestinians are currently behind bars in 17 Israeli prisons and detention centers, according to reports.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/27/601987/Malaysian-Prime-Minister-Mahathir-Mohamad-Palestinian-territories-Israel-terrorism

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UAE pledges $50m for Palestinian refugees

July 28, 2019

DUBAI: The UAE announced on Saturday a $50 million donation to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), a relief and human development agency supporting the Palestinian people.

The donation will be used to provide health services to Palestinian refugees, and to implement educational programs for the youth - which the UAE says is its top priority, state news agency WAM reported.

The UAE's foreign ministry says it acknowledges the “hard work” of the agency in catering to more than five million Palestinians living in dire humanitarian conditions, in spite of its financial challenges.

The US last year cut its contributions to the UNRWA, describing the organization as “irredeemably flawed,” the BBC reported, which the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas immediately denounced.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1531921

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Africa

 

Sudan says 87 killed, 168 wounded when June 3 protest broken up

27 July 2019

The head of a Sudanese investigative committee said on Saturday that 87 people were killed and 168 wounded on June 3 when a sit-in protest was violently broken up by security forces.

Fath al-Rahman Saeed, the head of the committee, said 17 of those killed were in the square occupied by protesters and 48 of the wounded were hit by bullets.

Saeed said some security forces fired at protesters and that three officers violated orders by moving forces into the sit-in. He also said an order was issued to whip protesters.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/07/27/Sudan-says-87-killed-168-wounded-when-June-3-protest-broken-up.html

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World leaders mourn the death of late Tunisian President Essebsi

27 July 2019

Interim Tunisian President Mohamed Ennaceur said that President Beji Caid Essebsi was responsible for “consolidating the values of freedom,” during a speech at the funeral service of the late Tunisian president.

“[He] succeeded in securing the democratic transition and stability of the country,” Ennaceur said, adding that he “was keen on the success of the choice of democracy and national consensus.”

“Beji Caid Essebsi was the architect of national reconciliation,” he said. “We will continue on the path of Essebsi in building a democratic national state.”

“The loss of Essebsi is a loss to the homeland,” Ennaceur added.

For his part, French President Emmanuel Macron said: “I would like to highlight the climate of calm in Tunisia despite the atmosphere of sadness,” adding that he has “learned a lot from Essebsi.”

During the funeral tribute, the acting Algerian President Abdelkader Bensalah also gave a speech, saying: “The loss of Essebsi is a loss to Tunisia and to the Arab world.”

Essebsi’s death is a great loss to “the Arab and Islamic nation,” said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during the ceremony.

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the president of Portugal, said that “Essebsi changed history.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2019/07/27/Interim-Tunisian-president-We-will-continue-on-the-path-of-Essebsi.html

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Libyan army launches 7 airstrikes on GNA military sites in Misrata, Sirte

27 July 2019

The Libyan National Army (LNA) launched seven air strikes targeting military sites of the Government of National Accord (GNA), as well as militia strongholds in Misrata and Sirte early Saturday, an Al Arabiya correspondent reported.

Among the targets was a Turkish drones operating room, the Air Defense System at Misrata base, and Misrata’s Air Academy.

On their official Facebook pages, the LNA also stated that militia and terrorist group strongholds were targeted in the air strikes in both Misrata and Sirte.

The sound of the loud explosions was heard in Misrata, west of the country. Libyan news site Marsad posted a video reportedly showing the moment the air strikes hit the Misrata Air Academy earlier.

Libya has been mired in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, with a multitude of militias vying for control of the oil-rich country.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2019/07/27/Libyan-army-launches-7-airstrikes-on-GNA-military-sites-in-Misrata-Sirte.html

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Sudan opposition rejects report on protesters' killing

Mohammed Amin  

27.07.2019

Sudanese opposition group Professional Association (SPA) has rejected the report of the investigation committee that acquitted the Transitional Military Council (TMC) from involvement in the killing of the protesters during the dispersal of the sit-in in Khartoum on June 3rd.

SPA spokesman Ismail Altaj told a press conference in Khartoum on Saturday that the investigation committee has attempted to acquit the TMC.

''This report has shocked the Sudanese people and the regional and international communities and proved that we need to reform the entire system of justice in the country,'' he said.

The investigation committee said 87 people were killed during the dispersal of the sit-in on June 3rd in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.

The head of the committee, Fath Alrahman Saeed, said that the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) hadn’t given any orders for the dispersal of the sit-in.

Mr. Saeed however said that at least nine senior officers had violated the orders given to them by the security committee of the TMC including two major generals from the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Sudan TMC has formed an investigation committee after the mass killing of the protesters in the violent incident taken place near the army headquarters in Khartoum.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/sudan-opposition-rejects-report-on-protesters-killing/1543164

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Boko Haram kills 23 mourners after funeral in north-east Nigeria

July 28, 2019

Fighters for the Boko Haram militant group killed at least 23 mourners returning from a funeral on Saturday in north-east Nigeria, according to a local militia and residents.

The attack took place in Borno state in Nigeria's restive north-east. It came in the same week that the group marked 10 years of a deadly insurgency against the Nigerian state that has included suicide bombings and mass kidnappings and has killed tens of thousands of people.

At 11.30am, the attackers on three motorbikes opened fire on a group of men as they walked back from a funeral in Nganzai district near the state capital Maiduguri, local militia leader Bunu Bukar Mustapha said.

"Our men recovered 23 dead bodies from the scene of the attack, which happened this morning," Mr Mustapha told AFP.

The men were returning to Badu Kuluwu from nearby Goni Abachari village where they had attended funeral prayers for a relative.

A Nganzai district official confirmed both the incident and death toll.

Local hunters and militia recovered the bodies.

Boko Haram fighters have repeatedly attacked Nganzai district.

In September last year, the group killed eight people and stole livestock in two villages in the area after residents tried to stop them from taking their animals.

Boko Haram and its ISIS-supported Iswap splinter have intensified attacks on civilian and military targets in recent months.

Late Thursday, Boko Haram fighters attacked a camp for displaced people outside Maiduguri, killing two residents and looting food supplies after burning a nearby military base.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/africa/boko-haram-kills-23-mourners-after-funeral-in-north-east-nigeria-1.891596

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Al-Shabaab claims killing 10 Burundian soldiers in southern Somalia

July 27, 2019

An African Union (AU) military convoy has come under attack by Al-Shabaab fighters between Bal’ad town and Galoley area in Middle Shabelle region, southern Somalia.

The attack, claimed by Al-Shabaab through its online propaganda websites, has reportedly killed at least 10 soldiers from the Burundian forces serving in Somalia under the AU Mission in the country.

The soldiers were reportedly ambushed amid an operation to clear a forested area where the troops wanted to set up a base.

Three armoured vehicles and bulldozers were also destroyed in the attack while the militants seized guns and ammunition left behind by the Burundian soldiers, the group’s propaganda sites reported.

Al-Shabaab has been fighting AU peacekeeping soldiers and Somali government forces for over a decade now.

The group recently carried out a deadly attack targeting the headquarters of the Banadir regional headquarters in the capital, Mogadishu, killing three district commissioners and injuring the mayor of Mogadishu.

Full report at:

https://www.somaliaffairs.com/news/al-shabaab-claims-killing-10-burundian-soldiers-in-southern-somalia/

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Somalia: IGAD Pledges Support for Somalia After Al-Shabaab Attacks

27 JULY 2019

The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has pledged its support and solidarity with the people and government in the fight against al-Shabaab fighters.

In a statement, the eight-member regional bloc expressed sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to those wounded.

East African bloc has condemned the suicide attack that took place in the offices of Mogadishu's mayor on Wednesday which left seven government officials dead with the mayor among those injured.

"IGAD condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks perpetrated by Al-Shabab against the Mayor's Office in Mogadishu yesterday, which left a number of innocent civilians dead and others wounded, including the city's Mayor," the bloc said.

The statement comes barely two days after a suicide bomber blew herself up in Mogadishu's municipal headquarters premises, leading the death of three district commissioners, two directors, and legal advisor.

The blast also injured the mayor of Mogadishu, Abdirahman Omar Osman and several other local government officials.

Full report at:

https://allafrica.com/stories/201907270106.html

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Nigeria: Boko Haram attacks Dalori military base and IDP camp

JULY 26, 2019

At least two people were killed and others injured when Boko Haram fighters raided a camp for people displaced by the conflict in northeast Nigeria, emergency services said Friday.

Dozens of militants on motorcycles and two motorized rickshaws stormed into a camp at Dalori on Thursday, July 25, shooting people and looting food supplies after attacking a nearby military base.

“We have recovered two dead bodies from the attack which also left several IDPs [internally displaced persons] with injuries,” said Bello Danbatta, head of security in the State Emergency Management Agency.

“The insurgents looted and burnt shops in the camp and also carted food supplies from the main store where food aid is stored,” he said.

About 50,000 displaced people are housed in makeshift dwellings in Dalori, around 15 km (9 miles) from the center of Borno state capital Maiduguri.

The insurgents attacked the camp after pushing out soldiers at a nearby military base in a shootout, several people said.

“They chased the soldiers away and burnt the base before forcing their way into the camp, shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ [God is greater],” said camp resident Aisa Kyarimi.

“They started shooting and we all fled the camp,” said the mother of three.

Hassan Modu, a civilian militia member guarding the camp, said he ran into the attackers as he tried to flee.

“They were no doubt after looting food,” he said.

Dalori camp and the neighboring village have been repeatedly targeted in Boko Haram attacks by heavily armed fighters and suicide bombers.

In November, at least 12 people were killed when Boko Haram fighters attacked Dalori and two nearby villages.

In January 2016, at least 85 people were killed when militant fighters stormed and torched Dalori village and tried to gain access to the camps.

This week marks 10 years since the jihadist group known as Boko Haram began its bloody insurgency in northeastern Nigeria, which has since spread into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

More than 27,000 people have been killed and two million others displaced, sparking a dire humanitarian crisis in the region. The U.S. assesses that factions of Boko Haram have been responsible for more than 35,000 deaths since 2011.

Thursday’s raid bears the hallmarks of previous attacks by the Boko Haram faction led by Abubakar Shekau.

Full report at:

https://thedefensepost.com/2019/07/26/nigeria-boko-haram-dalori/

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Boko Haram kills two in Nigerian displaced camp

26th July 2019

KANO: Two people were killed and several wounded when Boko Haram fighters raided a camp for people displaced by the jihadist conflict in northeast Nigeria, emergency services said Friday.

Dozens of Islamist militants on motorcycles and two motorised rickshaws stormed into Dalori camp on Thursday, shooting people and looting food supplies after overrunning a nearby military base.

"We have recovered two dead bodies from the attack which also left several IDPs (internally displaced persons) with injuries," said Bello Danbatta, head of security in the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA).

"The insurgents looted and burnt shops in the camp and also carted food supplies from the main store where food aid is stored," he said.

Dalori, about 15 kilometres (nine miles) from regional capital Maiduguri, houses about 50,000 people in makeshift dwellings.

The jihadists attacked the camp after pushing out soldiers at a nearby military base in a shootout, several displaced people said.

"They (Boko Haram) chased the soldiers away and burnt the base before forcing their way into the camp, shouting 'Allahu Akbar' (God is Great)," said camp resident Aisa Kyarimi.

"They started shooting and we all fled the camp," said the mother of three.

Hassan Modu, a civilian militia member guarding the camp, said he ran into the attackers as he tried to flee.

"They were no doubt after looting food," he said.

Dalori camp and the neighbouring village have been repeatedly targeted in Boko Haram attacks by heavily armed fighters and female suicide bombers.

In January 2016, at least 85 people were killed when militant fighters stormed and torched Dalori village and tried to gain access to the camps.

Despite the government's insistence that Boko Haram jihadists are near defeat, attacks on civilians and troops persist almost a decade after the insurgency started.

The conflict has claimed more than 27,000 lives since 2009 and left some two million people displaced.

Full report at:

http://www.newindianexpress.com/world/2019/jul/26/boko-haram-kills-two-in-nigerian-displaced-camp-2009810.html

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Southeast Asia

 

President Joko Widodo says Islam in Indonesia is 'tolerant' as rights groups warn of rising fundamentalism

July 28, 2019

Jakarta (CNN)In his first international television interview since being re-elected in May, Indonesian President Joko Widodo denied being concerned about the rise of fundamentalism in his country, saying that the Islam practiced there is tolerant and progressive.

"I still believe that Islam in Indonesia is a tolerant and moderate Islam. Islam in Indonesia is modern, it is forward thinking," said the leader, who is popularly known as Jokowi -- a nickname he said was given to him by a French businessman while he was working as a furniture salesman.

In his second term as leader, Joko faces an uphill battle of uniting the world's most populous Muslim nation, and fighting what he calls "hoaxes and fake news that influenced the mind of the people."

"We now have to restore the situation and work together to build this country," he said, at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta.

Joko's comments came after a bitter electoral race against his longtime rival, former general Prabowo Subianto, who refused to accept the election result, alleging widespread ballot-rigging that sparked deadly clashes in the capital. The Constitutional Court subsequently threw out Prabowo's bid to overturn the result, calling it "legally groundless."

Putting their differences aside, the two political rivals earlier this month vowed to work together. Pointedly, their first face-to-face meeting after the heated contest took place on the country's inaugural metro line (the MRT) -- one of Joko's first-term infrastructure wins.

No compromising values

Five years ago, Joko won the presidency on a promise to increase jobs, crack down on corruption and bolster human rights. But during his re-election campaign, he embraced elements of Indonesia's religious right.

His running mate was conservative cleric Ma'ruf Amin, who supports Sharia law and believes that homosexuality should be criminalized. Amin is now Indonesia's vice president. That was seen as an effort to eat into Prabowo's conservative support base and appease those who claimed he was not Islamic enough.

Joko denied that he befriended hardliners to win the election, suggesting his outwardly secular values had not been compromised.

"We would like to work with all elements of society. We would like to work with everyone to develop this country, but not with those who want to ruin this country in terms of its ideology and in developing our economy. There is no compromise for me," he said.

Joko called Amin a "moderate Muslim" and said it was logical to have a cleric running mate in a country that has the largest population of Muslims in the world.

"I'm not going to change," he said. "I will not change what I believe."

Rising intolerance

While the President upholds that Indonesia is a tolerant and diverse society, rights groups say there is rising intolerance from hardline religious groups, especially against religious minorities and the LGBT community.

In 2016, Jakarta's Chinese Christian governor (a Joko ally) Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok, was accused of insulting the Quran and jailed on blasphemy charges. Massive rallies calling for his jailing paralyzed the capital.

Ahok was released in January after serving just under two years in jail, but the incident showed religious fundamentalism to be a powerful force.

Discrimination against LGBT people was already intensifying during Joko's first term, fueled by what Human Rights Watch (HRW) said was "government-driven moral panic."

In Indonesia, homosexuality is not illegal apart from in ultra-conservative Aceh province, which observes Shariah Law and publicly flogs those found guilty of having homosexual sex.

In May 2017, a police raid on a gym and sauna led to the arrests of 141 people in a single night because of their presumed sexuality. But Human Rights Watch reported that police raids and vigilante attacks led to the arrests of at least 300 people that year -- the highest number ever recorded in Indonesia.

A number of high-profile Indonesian politicians, including several government ministers, have unleashed anti-LGBT rhetoric and a parliamentary proposal still being debated would criminalize gay sex and extramarital sex.

In its World Report 2019, HRW said that while Joko's administration "took small steps" in 2018 to protect the rights of "some of Indonesia's most vulnerable people" more could be done.

"Although Jokowi issued a plea for religious tolerance in his annual State of the Nation address on August 16, his administration has failed to translate his rhetorical support for human rights into meaningful policies during his first term in office," the report's authors said.

On this issue Joko is noncommittal, suggesting that because Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country, its Muslim citizens would not accept greater rights for LGBT people. A 2013 Pew survey found that 93% of the country refused to accept homosexuality.

"Tolerance in Indonesia, we can see. Everybody has good tolerance. However, when it comes to regulations and laws, I can ensure you, there will be major rejection by the people," he said.

'No tolerance for terrorism in Indonesia'

While the LGBT crackdown was driven in part by Islamic hardliners, Joko said he is not worried about the rise of religious fundamentalism in Indonesia.

In a country of 267 million people, spread across 17,000 islands it is normal to have "two, three, four percent of people who are hardliners," he said.

"It is the obligation of the country to know how to embrace them. So that (is) the goal of this country: to become an opulent, just and prosperous country," he said.

But that embrace became a political flashpoint recently when Abu Bakar Bashir, a radical Islamic cleric and the alleged mastermind behind the 2002 Bali bombings, was granted early release from jail on humanitarian grounds.

Following an enormous backlash -- from liberals as well as hardliners -- Joko backed away from the plan. Bashir remains behind bars and on his fate Joko is now unwavering. "The final decision was no," he said.

The threat of homegrown terrorism remains. In May 2018, a spate of deadly, ISIS-inspired bombings rocked Indonesia's second-largest city Surabaya, targeting churches and the police.

Returning Indonesian ISIS fighters also present a new challenge to the country's law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Police reportedly foiled an attack just before the election, arresting at least nine fighters affiliated with ISIS -- at least six of whom were known to have fought in Iraq and Syria, police said.

Joko said his counter-terrorism forces -- known as Detachment 88 -- have a two-pronged approach.

"There are certain cases where we can embrace them, and return them to normalcy. But, if it is hard to do, then the hard approach is done through strict law enforcement. We do not tolerate terrorism in Indonesia," he said.

Joko said deradicalization programs were working.

"Major terrorists have returned to society, established foundations to embrace ex-terrorists who can live normally. That is the success of deradicalization in Indonesia," he said.

Growth and development a priority

But Joko's focus remains on the economy and on Indonesia's development.

During his first term, Indonesia's economy grew at just over 5% per annum -- shy of the 7% promised, but enough for the country's GDP to surpass $1 trillion in 2017. The IMF believes that with economic reform and investment, Indonesia's economy could grow by 6.5% by 2022.

To achieve that goal, Joko said: "We must conduct reform on a massive scale."

That means teaching workers new skills, introducing tax reform and attracting investment and building the large-scale infrastructure projects that have become a hallmark of Joko's presidency.

The latter will involve Indonesia's biggest trading partner: China. After the election, the government signed deals worth billions of dollars with the Chinese government for major infrastructure projects as part of Beijing's flagship Belt and Road initiative. And this month Indonesia reportedly asked China to set up a special Belt and Road fund after offering $91 million in projects, according to Reuters.

But reports suggest that smaller nations are being saddled with debt from these huge Chinese mega-projects and one concern is that China will be in a strong position to influence their strategic decisions if they default.

Joko said Indonesia won't fall prey to the so-called "debt-trap diplomacy" problem, because the deals made were business to business, he said, and will "benefit the national interest of Indonesia."

Meanwhile, on July 11, 22 countries, including Japan and the United Kingdom, issued a joint statement condemning China's mass detention of Uyghur and other minorities in the country's Xinjiang region.

Indonesia -- the world's most populous Muslim nation -- was not a signatory.

While Joko said he "continues to monitor problems in China" with regards to Uyghurs, "To be frank, I do not have enough data about that," he said.

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/07/27/asia/indonesia-joko-widodo-interview-intl-hnk/index.html

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Subtle religious conversion of Orang Asli children still going on in schools, say experts

27 July 2019

BY YISWAREE PALANSAMY

SUBANG JAYA, July 27 — While the Constitution guarantees every Malaysian the freedom of religion, there are some teachers who still try to subtly convert Orang Asli children, indigenous research experts say.

Centre for Orang Asli Concerns founder and co-ordinator Colin Nicholas and University of Nottingham assistant professor Suria Angit said this today at a roundtable dialogue on the education development efforts for Orang Asli children.

In his presentation, Colin who has been researching Orang Asli communities, said that a 1960 government policy — which has since been scrapped — even promoted the “assimilation” of Orang Asli into the Malay race.

“But later on, because of the not so politically correct term of the word assimilation, they changed it to integration into the mainstream of society.

“In reality if you ask me, it’s the same, because by way of education, by way of progress, by way of infrastructure facilities and support and so on, the idea is to make Orang Asli (into) Malay, and the best way of course is through schools.

“But if you listen to Mahathir, he has said before that, you know schools now are actually a platform for religious conversions. Everything is about religion. Mahathir himself (said it),” Colin said, referring to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Colin was responding to a question about the alleged religious conversions of Orang Asli children in the Kemas kindergartens which are government-operated, and placed under the Community Development Department (Kemas), of the Rural Development Ministry.

He, however, said that not all Kemas pre-schools engage in such acts, pointing out that there is also no policy to convert Orang Asli to Islam.

“There is no policy, but in reality, certain individual teachers take it upon themselves that this is their whatever duty to do it. So you find it that in some areas, there is very active, low-key or subtle way of conversion,” he added.

Colin then related an incident when a concerned Orang Asli parent, upon checking her daughter’s school bag, found an Islamic studies certificate, which he said was issued by the Federal Territories Islamic Department (Jawi).

This he asserted, was despite the parent not wanting to have her daughter undertake such a course.

“The Aboriginal Peoples Act provides that no Orang Asli child should be given religious instructions. Whatever religion. Christianity, Islam or anything, without the written consent from the parent. This is not followed.

“So the reality is that, there are a lot of little Napoleons who do not understand the purpose of education, but have another agenda,” he added.

Suria, meanwhile related another similar incident about an Orang Asli government school she had visited. In the course of her research, she found out Orang Asli children were being taught Arabic instead of their mother tongue, the Semai language.

“And there was also a school where we visited, that instead of teaching Semai, because in that school they were supposed to be teaching Semai as one of the subjects.

“Instead of teaching Semai, they teach more Malay, which is understandable on the basis that Malay (language) is our national language, but they also teach Arabic, because they said, according to the school statistics, most of the students are Muslims. This is an Orang Asli school by the way.

“So they feel like when you’re a Muslim, you need to learn Arabic. Orang Asli children should be able to learn their own mother tongue, their own languages in formal education as well, so they can preserve their identities. But why are we turning them into Arabs?” Suria who is from the Temiar tribe, asked.

Jenita Engi, an Orang Asli from the Temuan tribe and an education consultant for community teachers, said that the education of Orang Asli children must not be marred by politics.

“If it’s in a rural area, then follow the culture of the rural area,” Jenita said, adding that the function of Kemas has to be refined, based on where it is located, and must have a more comprehensive curriculum depending on the type of attendees it has.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/07/27/subtle-religious-conversion-of-orang-asli-children-still-going-on-in-school/1775255

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Pakistan lauds Muslim renaissance initiative by Dr M

28 Jul 2019

KARACHI: Pakistan has welcomed an emphasis by the Turkish Presi­dent and the Malaysian Prime Minister to initiate a Muslim renaissance with the cooperation of the three countries, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported.

“Heartily welcome PM @chedet­official and President @RTErdogan emphasis on Malaysia, Turkey and Pakistan working together to initiate a Muslim renaissance and unite the Muslim world,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said in a tweet.

During a joint press conference with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Ankara on Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said solidarity between Turkey, Malaysia and Pakistan is necessary for unity in the Islamic world.

Dr Mahathir echoed the statement saying: “Cooperation between Malaysia and Turkey will help relieve the Muslim Ummah from being subjugated by others.’’

Full report at:

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/07/28/pakistan-lauds-muslim-renaissance-initiative-by-dr-m/

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38 years on, Muslim surau in Ghim Moh finds online fame

By NABILAH AWANG

28 JULY, 2019

SINGAPORE — A surau, or Muslim prayer hall, at the void deck of Block 2, Ghim Moh Road, recently caught the Internet’s attention when a video of it went viral.

But while many Singaporeans who watched the video thought it was a novelty, the surau has been there for 38 years, thanks to the concerted efforts from residents in the estate.

Through the decades, the surau, about the size of a three-room flat, has served as a prayer space for Muslims and a resting area for anyone at any time of the day.

Recently a video taken by a visitor and posted on Facebook garnered over 143,000 views and 4,100 shares.

“For years, many people have come to me and asked: ‘Surau at the void deck. Town council let, ah?’” said the surau’s caretaker, retiree Ahmad Basar, 78.

“I will tell them to go check the notice board at the surau where I hung memos from the Government, who gave us permission to occupy the space,” he added.

The surau had its beginnings in 1981 to cater to the 500 Muslim families who had been resettled into Housing and Development Board flats in the area when their villages were torn down for redevelopment.

Former Member of Parliament (MP) Abbas Abu Amin, who was the interim MP for the constituency at that time, told TODAY that there were overwhelming requests for such a prayer space from Muslims in the neighbourhood, as more than 100 of them are elderly and the nearest mosque was 45 minutes away by bus.

Mr Abbas said he and former Cabinet minister Ahmad Mattar thus championed the idea of setting up a surau at the void deck of one of the blocks.

They faced some pushback from authorities who were concerned that a space of worship would make the communal area less inclusive, but eventually won them over, he said.

“Surau Ghim Moh was a special case. It was the only one in Singapore that was allowed to be set up at a void deck because of the circumstances the residents in the area faced,” he said.

“This is a good representation of how strong ties forged in a community can bring about years of harmony.”

MP of Holland-Bukit Timah GRC Christopher De Souza agreed, saying that the residents who frequent the surau have played a central role in community events.

Most recently during Ramadan a few months ago, the Singapore Buddhist Lodge donated rice, which was then made into porridge at Al Huda Mosque in Bukit Timah before being distributed to Ghim Moh residents by volunteers from the Church of St Ignatius.

“This shows how the surau community is part of community life in Ghim Moh and how such a continuing partnership is meaningful for residents. I would want the partnership to continue,” said Mr De Souza.

Mr Chia Ah Hua, 66, who lives in the block just opposite the surau, said that he has made many friends from the residents who frequent it.

“Most of the time, I don’t even realise that people are praying or resting there because they are very quiet. I can only hear them when it’s fasting month and they pray at about 8pm, just like I can hear the Chinese gong going ‘dung dung cheng’ during Chinese New Year,” added the retiree.

Another resident, who wants to be known only as Mr Gunalan, said he would rather the void deck be put to good use than lie vacant.

“Rather than having young people ‘lepak’ (hang out) there in groups, might as well use the space (for people) to pray or rest,” the 71-year-old retiree said.

Mr Basar said the key to maintaining harmony in the estate while running a prayer space is to be mindful of neighbours and keep communication lines open.

“We tell our neighbours in advance when we are going to have events. Sometimes it’s by word of mouth, other times we put up notices,” he said.

Over the years, the surau has been upgraded.

“We started out using canvas and cardboard to pray on. Now we have walls, fans and lights. We are very fortunate,” said Mr Basar.

With the town council’s approval, the surau has also installed rolling blinds and a space for ablutions.

But Mr Basar, who has dedicated half his life to taking care of the surau, said that due to the gradual decline in the number of Muslim residents in the area, there are challenges in maintaining the space, such as a lack of funds.

He said that in the early 80s, the residents collectively paid S$50 a month for rent and S$1 a month for utilities. Now they no longer pay for rent, only utilities that cost between S$45 and S$50 a month, Mr Basar noted.

Aside from the necessities, money collected from residents and visitors at the surau is used to fund religious activities, gatherings and the maintenance of the space.

The surau’s role is just as important now as it was when it first began, Mr Basar said, noting that since Kampong Holland mosque was shut down, the nearest mosques to Ghim Moh are about half an hour away by public transport.

Full report at:

https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/38-years-muslim-surau-ghim-moh-finds-online-fame

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Jakim, MCMC to monitor complaints made on those who insult Islam over social media

27 July 2019

HULU SELANGOR, July 27 — The Islamic Development Department (Jakim) will continue to co-operate with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to monitor any insults made on Islam and the prophet over social media.

Its director-general, Datuk Mohamad Nordin Ibrahim said that Jakim had officers stationed at MCMC to take the necessary action if there were any complaints from consumers on insults made against Islam and Prophet Muhammad on social media sites.

“We co-operate with MCMC under a special committee which was set up to study and monitor any complaints on insult to Islam and Prophet Muhammad,” he said after attending the 28th Jakim’s Darul Quran Convocation here today.

Prior to this, several quarters lodged police reports after the posting “Kiub Batu Itu Berhala” uploaded on Facebook by an individual using the name Wendy Loong viralled on the social sites.

Meanwhile, Mohamad Nordin said Jakim took cognisance of the incident and would channel the information to the police and MCMC.

“Normally, we will gather information from complaints and will channel them to the agency with the power of investigation and taking action,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, Mohamad Nordin said that RM35 million had been approved by the government to upgrade Darul Quran to build an academic centre and increase the number of hostels.

A member of the board of Darul Quran, Mohamad Nordin said upgrading work, which would start next year, would provide more comfort and increase hostel places for students at the tahfiz centre.

‘‘Currently, we provide hostels for 1,000 tahfiz students. Upon completion in three years, 300 more students can be accommodated here,’’ he said.

At the convocation, 723 graduates from eight study programmes offered by Darul Quran received their respective diplomas and certificates.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/07/27/jakim-mcmc-to-monitor-complaints-made-on-those-who-insult-islam-over-social/1775289

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Hadi: PAS-Umno supports Dr M as PM to end of term

27 July 2019

BY IDA NADIRAH IBRAHIM

KUALA LUMPUR, July 27 — The PAS-Umno Opposition alliance is in favour of keeping Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister until the end of the Pakatan Harapan election mandate, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said.

The PAS president attributed its support to the purported dominance of non-Muslim leaders in the ruling coalition, its party-owned website Harakah Daily reported today.

He said the PM’s party, Bersatu, has few parliamentary seats compared to the other PH components.

“Bersatu only has 11 seats and its position in the government is not strong. We acknowledge the matter, but what is Tun going to do? Surely he has his strengths.

“He defends many things, but the party seem to be isolated and that is why we have to take the same stance as Umno and defend Tun as the prime minister until the term ends,” he was quoted saying.

However, Hadi also said that while the unity of the Bumiputera Malay Muslims is crucial, the rights of other races should not be sidelined.

He said PAS is ready to cooperate with any other “non-extreme” political parties, and listed as examples MIC, MCA, Parti Bersatu Sabah and the Parti Gagasan Sarawak coalition, describing them as “very open”.

“Those we can accept.

“This is the mixture that we should have for Malaysia, this cooperation, and it should be considered,” he was quoted saying.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/07/27/hadi-pas-umno-supports-dr-m-as-pm-to-end-of-term/1775175

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Kit Siang: Will Umno agree to keep Dr M for full term, after calls to reject leaders with DAP ties?

28 July 2019

BY G. PRAKASH

KUALA LUMPUR, July 28 — DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang today called out Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today for contradicting statements he made in regards to Umno rejecting cooperation with leaders who are in “cahoots” with DAP.

Lim was referring to a statement made by the Umno president that the party will reject any offer to cooperate with PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as long as he has any kind of ties with DAP.

“Ahmad Zahid has become a classic case of a political leader whose statements frequently boomerang on him. His latest and second smacking of PKR president again had this boomerang effect on himself.

“Zahid may suffer from short-term memory. It was only a week ago that Zahid insinuated that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was a stooge of DAP,” he said in a statement today.

Lim pointed out that PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang had yesterday said that his party will work to keep Dr Mahathir as prime minister for the full term, denying any handover of power to Anwar as agreed by the Pakatan Harapan consensus in January 2018.

“What a political comedown — from expecting to kick ‘DAP stooge Mahathir’ out as prime minister to “working to keep Mahathir for the full term.

“I must congratulate Umno and PAS leaders for their inability to see the irony and contradiction they have trapped themselves, but that is another story.

“I want to ask Zahid whether he will now obey the PAS president’s new line to work to keep Dr Mahathir as prime minister for the full term,” Lim questioned.

Lim suggested that Ahmad Zahid heed the advice of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong who said in an interview before his installation on Tuesday that he wants to see a Malaysia whose citizens are united and live in a peaceful, stable and harmonious country.

“I fully support the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s hopes.

“Would Zahid also support the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s aspirations?

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/07/28/kit-siang-will-umno-agree-to-keep-dr-m-for-full-term-after-calls-to-reject/1775416

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Pakistan

 

10 soldiers martyred in N Waziristan, Balochistan attacks

Jul 28, 2019

QUETTA/PESHAWAR: At least 10 security forces personnel were martyred in North Waziristan tribal district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan on Saturday after they came under separate attacks by unknown militants, said a statement by the army’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

In the first incident, six Pakistan Army soldiers were killed in a cross-border attack near Pakistani-Afghanistan border after a patrolling party came under fire by unknown assailants from across the border in Gurbaz, North Waziristan.

“Terrorists from across the border fire raided on Pakistan Army border patrolling party […] 6 soldiers embraced shahadat,” said a statement issued by the military’s media wing shortly after the attack.

The deceased include Havaldar Khalid, Sepoy Naveed, Sepoy Bachal, Sepoy Ali Raza, Sepoy Mohammad Babar and Sepoy Ahsan.

In restive Balochistan, a contingent of the Frontier Corps was attacked by unidentified militants during a combing/sensitisation operation between Hushab and Turbat, the ISPR said in another press release.

The troops martyred in Balochistan include Captain Aqib Javed, Sepoy Nadir, Sepoy Atif Altaf and Sepoy Hafeezullah.

This is not the first time that the security forces personnel have come under attack in Balochistan. The province – long been plagued by an insurgency and targetted killings – is reeling under a fresh wave of terrorism.

In May alone, the province faced at least five terror attacks, including an attack on non-native labourers working in Dera Murad Jamali.

The martyrdom of six soldiers on the Pak-Afghan border and of four in Balochistan “is the sacrifice Pakistan [is] making for peace in the region”, tweeted ISPR Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor tweeted.

He said while the security of the tribal areas has been improved with efforts now focused on solidifying the western border, inimical forces are attempting to destabilise Balochistan. “Their efforts shall [InshAllah] fail,” Gen Ghafoor said.

Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa also issued a statement condemning the attack.

He said the armed force “shall ensure the defence and security of motherland at the cost of our sweat and blood”. He termed the attacks “dying efforts of frustrated inimical forces” as the country heads on to achieve “enduring peace” after attaining “stability”.

“It’s time for the world to facilitate regional peace,” said COAS Bajwa.

“I salute our armed forces personnel who continue to lay down their lives fighting terrorists to keep the nation safe,” said Prime Minister Imran Khan as he offered “condolences and prayers” for the families of the fallen soldiers in North Waziristan and Balochistan.

The attacks come days after the Pakistani civilian and military leaders discussed the regional security situation and Afghan peace with their American counterparts. “We have had 15 years of fighting this war on terror. Over 70,000 Pakistani casualties. Over $150 billion lost to the economy. So, we desperately want peace,” Prime Minister Imran had said.

“The US leadership acknowledged contributions of Pakistan Army in the war against terrorism and role towards Afghan peace process,” the ISPR said following the army chief’s meeting with his US counterparts at the Pentagon.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/07/27/10-soldiers-martyred-in-n-waziristan-balochistan-attacks/

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Shahbaz asks govt not to remove AC from Nawaz’s cell

July 28, 2019

LAHORE: PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif has asked the Punjab government to refrain from removing the air-conditioner from the prison cell of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif as it will be violation of the medical board’s recommendations and adversely affect his already fragile health.

In a letter to the chief secretary on Saturday, the opposition leader in the National Assembly said attempts were being made to put the life of three-time premier in danger. He said the Punjab government had written to the IG Prisons to remove the air-conditioner in the cell of Nawaz Sharif.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had also declared during his visit to the US that he would have the air-conditioner and TV removed from the cell of Nawaz Sharif, he said. He said that according to the medical board constituted by the Buzdar administration, the room temperature of the cell of Nawaz Sharif at the Kot Lakhpat jail (where he is serving seven-year imprisonment in Al-Azizia Mills case) should be maintained at a comfortable level to prevent dehydration and possible deterioration of renal functions.

“I am appalled at the callousness depicted by the Home Department for omitting this pivotal point about Nawaz Sharif’s medical condition while writing to the IG Prisons asking him to remove facilities accorded to prisoners under the guise of impartial treatment,” he said and added that the blatant attempt at his life “shrouded in procedural vagueness reeks of political vendetta as the letter cites PM Khan’s wishes as the motive of the said correspondence.”

Shahbaz Sharif said the recommendations of the medical board of the Punjab government should be followed in letter and spirit and no political pressure be allowed to “contravene the rights of Nawaz Sharif.”

Meanwhile, Shahbaz Sharif and PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz met Nawaz Sharif in the jail. A good number of PML-N workers gathered outside the jail and chanted slogans in favour of their leadership and against Imran Khan and the PTI government.

Maryam Nawaz condemned the arrest of Irfan Saddiqui, former adviser to the Nawaz Sharif government.

“Shameful images. Sharam kero. And I am telling you, Jaali, Dummy Hakoomat is not behind the arrest. It is someone else & I know the nexus,” she tweeted.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1496591/shahbaz-asks-govt-not-to-remove-ac-from-nawazs-cell

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Jamaat undecided about no-trust vote against Senate chairman

Amir Wasim

July 28, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) though believes that Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani has lost the confidence of a majority in the Senate, is still undecided about its strategy during next week’s voting on the no-trust resolutions against him and his deputy Saleem Mandviwala.

The JI with its two members, including its emir Sirajul Haq, sits on the opposition benches in the Senate, but it has distanced itself from the joint opposition platform.

The party neither attended the multi-party conference (MPC) of the opposition parties that had been convened by Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman last month nor did its members sign the no-trust motion against the Senate chairman.

Talking to Dawn, naib emir of the JI Liaquat Baloch said a discussion on the issue had been going on in the party for the past few days, but so far they had not made up their mind.

Mr Baloch said the JI believed that in principle Mr Sanjrani should step down from his office as he had lost the support of the majority of the senators after withdrawal of his support by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which had voted for Mr Sanjrani during the Senate chairman election as a joint candidate of the PPP and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

Responding to a question, Mr Baloch stated that his party had been approached both by the government as well as the opposition members. He further disclosed that even Mr Sanjrani had contacted the JI leadership and sought their support.

In response to another question, Mr Baloch said it was due to the will of the party workers that the JI had decided to stay away from politics of alliances. He said the JI was not even a component of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), a five-party alliance of religio-political parties, including the JUI-F.

The JI members had contested the last general elections on the MMA ticket and their members in the National Assembly were shown as MMA representatives.

Three options

Mr Baloch said currently they were observing the political scenario and the overall situation in the country and would make a decision on the no-trust motions when the time would come.

Presently, he said, the party had kept all its options open and it could vote for either side or it could abstain as well. “So you can say we still have all the three options available,” he added.

The opposition senators had submitted the no-trust motion against Mr Sanjrani to the Senate secretariat on July 9.

The ruling coalition hit back with a similar motion against the deputy chairman on July 12.

The opposition has already nominated National Party (NP) president Mir Hasil Bizenjo as its joint candidate for the Senate chairman’s office.

The opposition made the decision to remove the Senate chairman at the MPC held in Islamabad on June 26 to discuss the options of launching a full-fledged anti-government movement in the wake of present economic crisis and the alleged political victimisation of the opposition members.

Speaking at a news conference after submission of the no-trust motion, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had asked Mr Sanjrani to voluntarily resign from the office in the larger interest of democracy and parliament.

The PPP chairman had said Mr Sanjrani had been elected as a result of the opposition’s consensus that emerged last year when the PML-N was a ruling party and his party was sitting on the opposition benches with the PTI, which was now in power. Now, he said, again the opposition had reached a consensus to remove the Senate chairman, saying they had no personal issues with Mr Sanjrani and had respect for him.

But Mr Sanjrani has already declared he would not step down and would fight till the end.

Leader of the House in the Senate Shibli Faraz and Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani met JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman asking him to play his role in the withdrawal of no-trust motion, but they did not get a positive response from him.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1496636/jamaat-undecided-about-no-trust-vote-against-senate-chairman

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‘Fake’ regime will no more be allowed to rule: Fazl

July 28, 2019

QUETTA: Chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Maulana Fazlur Rehman has said that opposition parties will no more allow a “fake” regime to rule the country just in the name of accountability.

Speaking at a press conference here on Saturday, Maulana Fazl said that the accountability started by the PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf) government was political victimisation of opposition parties.

After his three-day stay in Quetta, the JUI-F chief will launch a ‘million march’ on Sunday.

In reply to a question, he said political vandalism could not be justified as accountability because what was happening in the country would increase political chaos.

“The people of Pakistan have lost trust in accountability,” he added.

“We do not accept a selected prime minister and government anymore. The JUI-F needs nothing but the supremacy of democracy and the Constitution,” he added.

He said the government, which was imposed in the country by stealing the mandate of the people on July 25 last year, had no right to rule.

Talking about Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent visit to the United States, the JUI-F chief said the way had been paved for once again giving Pakistan into American hands.

Maulana Fazl said the opposition parties had been trying to replace Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani with another politician from Balochistan, but some political forces had been playing nationalist and local card on this issue.

“I’m confident the PPP and PML-N will support us till the end,” he said, adding that he didn’t think Mr Sanjrani had done anything for the people of Balochistan.

In reply to a question about the government’s claim about participation of madressah students in the July 25 ‘million march’ in Peshawar, the JUI-F chief said that TV anchorpersons reported false information in this regard.

“Are seminary students not Pakistanis or do they not have a right to protest and vote?”

The Maulana said the Quetta ‘million march’ would be the last nail in the government’s coffin.

“We are expecting participation of more than 1.5 million people in the march,” he added.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1496652/fake-regime-will-no-more-be-allowed-to-rule-fazl

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PM has reprimanded delegation that visited Fazl: Sheikh Rasheed

JULY 28, 2019

Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad on Saturday said the delegation that earlier visited Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had been reprimand by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The federal minister talked to media and stressed that Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani would definitely prevail against the no-confidence motion that has been tabled against him by the opposition.

Sheikh Rashid Ahmed claimed that PM Imran Khan is not going anywhere due to the opposition’s ‘insignificant’ rallies. The politics of the opposition will be over once Pakistan gets rid of the ongoing economic challenges, he added.

While bashing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) vice president Maryam Nawaz, the federal minister said she is the reason behind Nawaz Sharif’s destruction.

“Imran Khan’s US visit was historic as the premier said in his statement in Washington that the US-Iran war will be ruinous. Imran Khan is lucky that his friend has come to power in England.

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/438305/pm-has-reprimanded-delegation-that-visited-fazl-sheikh-rasheed/

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Political leadership condemns cowardly attack on Pakistani soldiers

JULY 28, 2019

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Saturday strongly condemned the cowardly attack on the Pakistani soldiers from across the Afghan border near Gurbaz, North Waziristan.

Talking to a private news channel, she said India was involved in the terrorist attack in which six Pakistani soldiers embraced martyrdom.

India was hatching conspiracies to vitiate peace process in Pakistan through such nefarious acts, however, it would not succeed in its designs, she added. Dr Firdous said the United States’ (US) announcement for logistics and technical support of Pakistan’s F- 16 fighter jets was a victory of Pakistan’s stance and a defeat of the Indian propaganda after the Pulwama incident.

Meanwhile, Punjab Assembly Speaker Ch Pervaiz Elahi described as great addition of martyrdom of Captain Aqib Javed and army jawans in two attacks of enemies of Pakistan in Balochistan and North Waziristan to the great sacrifices of the Pakistan Army and said that those trying to harm Pakistan would always fail and remain without achieving evil objectives. He said in a statement that the entire nation today salutes those who laid down their lives and their great parents from the depth of their hearts.

Jamaat e Islami chief Senator Sirajul Haq also strongly condemned the terrorist attacks on the army and said that some elements wanted to destabilise the country but they would never succeed in their nefarious designs. He said that the martyrs were the heroes of the nation and the nation was proud of them. He said that the sacrifices would bear fruit and Pakistan would become an abode of peace.

Separately, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari condemned the incidents and expressed their profound grief and sorrow over the loss of lives of brave soldiers in terror attacks in KP and Balochistan.

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/438284/political-leadership-condemns-cowardly-attack-on-pakistani-soldiers/

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Arab World

 

Bahrain Opposition Party Condemns Execution of Young Activists as Practicing ‘State Terrorism’

Jul 27, 2019

"Bahrain's state terrorism needs to be noticed by the world and the governments, organizations, parliaments and parties," al-Wefaq party, which has been banned from conducting any activity by the ruling Al-Khalifah regime, said in a statement on Saturday. It added that the al-Khalifa regime does not respect the human rights and international laws and ignores all agreements and humanitarian demands.

Bahrain executed two pro-democracy activists, defying widespread calls to commute the death sentences handed to the prisoners in an "unfair" mass trial.

Ahmad al-Malali, 24, and Ali Hakim al-Arab, 25, were executed at Jaw prison, South of the Bahraini capital Manama, on Friday after private meetings with their families.

Al-Malali and al-Arab were sentenced to death last year in a mass trial along with another 56 men who were convicted and given jail terms on "terrorism crimes". They were arrested separately in February 2017.

The Public prosecutor's office announced the men were put to death on charges of possessing firearms and killing a police officer.

The regime in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom carried out the death penalties despite fierce protests by the United Nations and several human rights groups and

The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights announced that the families of the two had received phone calls from Jaw prison for private visits - a procedure that usually precedes execution.

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980505000926

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Residents of ex-Daesh capital yearn for return of President Assad's rule: Report

Jul 27, 2019

Residents of Syria's Raqqah, which once served as the capital of the self-proclaimed “caliphate” of the Daesh terrorist group, yearn for the return of President Bashar al-Assad's rule, US magazine Foreign Policy reports.

Many Raqqah locals mistrust the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed anti-Damascus alliance of mainly Kurdish militants that currently runs the Arab-majority city, the publication said.

Raqqah citizens, it added, believe that only the government of Assad can bring stability to the war-wracked city.

An activist, named by the pseudonym Hamoude, told Foreign Policy that his relatives who had fled Raqqah, said, “We will come back when the regime returns."

Daesh had once declared Raqqah as the de facto capital of a "caliphate" it started to build in Iraq and Syria in 2014 through a campaign of violence, invasion and extreme brutality against residents.

In October 2017, the United States and its SDF allies claimed victory over Daesh after carrying out a notoriously ruinous campaign in the northern Syrian city.

The Raqqah battle ended with a secret deal allowing hundreds of Daesh terrorists and their families to withdraw to neighboring Dayr al-Zawr Province.

Almost two years into the SDF occupation of Raqqah, locals "have also found SDF rule wanting" and are "cautious in expressing opposition to the SDF out of fear of retribution," according to the Foreign Policy report.

It also cited rumors among Raqqah's residents about an imminent handover of the city to the Damascus government after the liberation of Idlib Province, the last significant militant stronghold in Syria.

The report further stressed lack of basic services in Raqqah and the destruction of schools and hospitals have led locals to compare their current living conditions to their lives prior to the outbreak of the 2011 conflict.

“We used to have free water, free electricity, free bread, free schools, free hospitals. Now everything is expensive,” said Samira, an older woman from a relatively well-off family, who later professed support for the return of the Assad government.

The report also highlighted complaints by Raqqah citizens about the slow pace of the city's reconstruction process and the inadequate stabilization funding from international donors.

"Meanwhile slow reconstruction, inadequate funding, displeasure with Kurdish-led rule in an Arab-majority city, and above all a yearning for security after so many years of war are keeping the SDF from gaining widespread support in the city, according to dozens of conversations with local residents, SDF commanders, activists, and business leaders in the city," it said. "The SDF leadership finds itself unable to provide basic services due to shortage of funding, and ongoing militant attacks in the city are undermining its popular legitimacy."

Additionally, the report pointed out that decision-making power in Raqqah is "monopolized" by long-term cadres of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/27/601975/Syria-Raqqah-Daesh-SDF-Bashar-Assad

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Official: ISIL Terrorists Target Iraqi Forces with Advanced US-Made Weapons

Jul 27, 2019

The Arabic-language Baghdad al-Youm news website quoted Head of the Muslim Ulema Union in Iraq's Diyala province Jabbar al-Ma'amouri as saying on Friday that the US wants to stir tension and crisis in Iraq and Middle-East to find a pretext for intervention.

He noted that the ISIL militants are supported by the US army's financial and arms aid, and said they are in possession of advanced sniper rifles.

Al-Ma'amouri referred to the recent attacks by terrorist snipers against Hashd al-Sha'abi forces near Khanqain or the army forces in Bazayez Bahrez and Kan'an regions, and said a number of these forces were killed in the attacks.

He had also earlier this month disclosed Israel's support for the ISIL terrorists in his country, saying the terrorist group had been backed up by the Mossad spying agency.

Al-Amouri told the Arabic-language Baghdad al-Youm news website that there was much proof and evidence on Israel's support for the ISIL terrorists in Iraq through the Mossad.

He added that the Iraqi security forces had found Israeli manufactured medicine, bombs and advanced communication systems at a number of bases during cleansing operations against the ISIL in Amerli and Suleiman Beik regions near the town of Tuz Khormatuz in Salahuddin province in the past 3 years.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980505000839

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Hashd Al-Shaabi Commander: US Forces Better to Leave Iraq

Jul 27, 2019

"The US presence in Iraq is rejected by the political parties and people," Mo'ein al-Kazzemi was quoted as saying by the Arabic-language al-Maslah news website on Saturday.

He warned of the US attempts to turn Iraq into a launchpad to damage the neighboring states, and said Washington's behavior might face unexpected reactions from inside Iraq.

"They had better end their presence in Iraq in a move to protect their forces and personnel," al-Kazzemi said.

In relevant remarks in May, Asa'eb al-Haq Movement affiliated to Hashd al-Shaabi reiterated the necessity for the American forces to leave Iraq.

Senior member of the politburo of Asa'eb al-Haq Laith al-Ozari underscored the Movement's opposition to the deployment of foreign forces in Iraq as "occupation", cautioning that all citizens were entitled to the right to fight these foreign occupiers.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980505000979

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Terrorists’ Military Convoys Destroyed in Syrian, Russian Airstrikes in Hama

Jul 27, 2019

The Arabic-language website of Sputnik news agency reported that the Russian and Syrian fighter jets targeted and pounded the terrorists’ military positions in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib, including in al-Latamineh, Kafar Zita, al-Zuka and Khan Sheikhoun, destroying several military positions and ammunition-arms depot of Tahrir al-Sham and Jeish al-Izzeh terrorists.

The Syrian Army’s artillery and missile units also pounded the terrorists’ military positions and movements in Mourek, Tal al-Malh and al-Jobin in Northern Hama, destroying several targets.

Meantime, a Syrian Army’s military source also reported that several logistical positions of Tahrir al-Sham and Jeish al-Izzeh were destroyed in Russian and Syrian airstrikes in Southern Idlib.

Another military source also said that the Syrian and Russian fighter jets also destroyed terrorists’ military convoy heading to Tal Melh from Latmin in Northern Hama.

The source also reiterated that a military commander of Jeish al-Izzeh named Yasser Ahmad al-Saloum was also killed during the joint military operations by Russia and Syria.

In a relevant development earlier in July, the Syrian Army backed by the country’s and Russian air forces thwarted a heavy attack by elite militants of Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay’at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) terrorists aimed at regaining back the strategic al-Hamamiat region in Northern Hama, killing at least 40 of them.

The Sputnik news agency quoted a military source as saying that over 1,000 of elite Tahrir al-Sham terrorists also known as Asaeb al-Hamra, most of them from Chechnya, together with hundreds of Turkistani Party terrorists as well as several suicide bombers had attacked the Syrian Army’s military positions in the town of al-Hamamiat in Northern Hama.

The source pointed to the tactical withdrawal of the Syrian Army troops to their military positions in al-Hamamiat region, and said that the Syrian Army had fully cleansed al-Hamamiat town and its outskirts after dispatching troops and massive military equipment to the region and starting a heavy attack on the terrorists which left over 40 militants dead and at least 13 vehicles destroyed.

Meantime, the Russian and Syrian fighter jets and the Syrian Army’s artillery units pounded the military positions and movements of the terrorists in the towns of al-Latamineh, Kafar Zita, al-Zuka, al-Arbaeen and Khan Sheikhoun in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib, he added.

The source noted that the terrorist groups intend to cut Mahradeh-Saqilbieh Road by taking full control over al-Hamamiat strategic town.

Meantime, after sustaining heavy defeats in al-Hamamiat, the terrorists launched rocket attacks on residential areas in the town of Karnaz, Sheikh Hadid and Mahradeh in Northern Hama which resulted in injury of a number of civilians.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980505000533

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Syrian Army Preparing for Imminent Military Operation in Northern Hama

Jul 27, 2019

The Arabic-language Al-Alam news website quoted an informed military source as saying that the Syrian Army has dispatched massive military convoys comprising tens of vehicles carrying military equipment and Syrian Army troops to their military positions in Northern Hama, including Shirz and al-Tarmiseh near Mahradeh in Northern Hama.

The source also noted that the Syrian Army has started hitting the terrorists’ military positions and movements in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib, and said that the Syrian Army intends to start its military operation for purging the terrorists from the demilitarized zone in the coming days.

It said that the Russian-Syrian fighter jets have destroyed the terrorists’ military positions in al-Latamineh town in Northern Hama and Khan Sheikhoun in Southern Idlib to the city of Ariha along Aleppo-Lattakia Highway.

In a relevant development in mid-July, media reports said that Damascus and Moscow have given a last chance to Ankara to fully conduct its military operations in Idlib province before the upcoming Astana meeting on Syria.

The Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper quoted special sources as saying that the new round of Astana meeting in Kazakhstan’s capital would be held on August 1-2 and it would be the last chance for Turkey to fulfill its commitments under the Russia-Turkey agreement on Idlib.

The sources noted that the delays by Turkey in implementing the Sochi agreement are not acceptable, and said that if Ankara does not fulfill its commitments, the Syrian Army will most probably conduct its cleansing operation in the remaining regions of Idlib.

Meantime, the daily quoted sources close to Ankara as saying that the Ankara-backed terrorist commanders attended a meeting with Turkish Army commanders in the Turkish capital earlier this week.

They said that the Turkish Army intends to maintain the areas under its control in Northern, Northwestern and Southern Idlib as long as possible before the next meeting.

The sources also pointed to Turkey’s fear from possible military operations by Russia and Syria to take full control over the towns of Jabal Shahshabou in Northwestern Hama to Jisr al-Shoghour along Aleppo-Lattakia highway, and said that Turkey has promised Tahrir al-Sham and other terrorist groups to send fresh militants of Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch from Aleppo to these regions.

Turkey has also sent more Islamic Turkistani Party terrorists to battlefields in Northern Hama from Western Idlib.

In a relevant development earlier in July, a Syrian government cultural official said that Turkey is helping the militants in excavation of historical and ancient sites in the Ankara-controlled occupied areas in Northern Syria as the terrorists have transferred tens of thousands of artifacts to Turkey, a government cultural official said.

The Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper quoted Director-General of Syria’s Museums and Ancient Sites Mahmoud Hamoud as saying that according to reliable intelligence, Turkish officials along with their allied militants have started excavations for artefacts in most of the regions and ancient hills of Afrin, including Tal Borj Abdalou, Tal Ain Dareh, Tal Jandaris and Nabi Hora which are thousands of years old.

Hamoud noted that the terrorists have plundered about 75,000 artifacts from Syrian museums, including museums in Idlib and Raqqa, and said that a sum of 25,000 artefacts of Syria have so far been smuggled into Turkey so far.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980505000639

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ISIS claims deadly attack on Syrian government troops

28 July 2019

ISIS has claimed responsibility for an attack that killed six soldiers in Syria’s southern province of Daraa, the cradle of the 2011 uprising against the government.

The extremist group said it was responsible for a “suicide operation” Saturday during which one of its fighters sprayed soldiers with machine-gun fire before detonating an “explosive vest.”

The claim, posted late Saturday on the Telegram messaging app, was the second by the group this week for an attack in Syria, from which it was largely expelled last year.

ISIS on Monday said it was responsible for a deadly car bombing in Damascus, where a civilian was killed when a vehicle exploded in the southern suburb of Qadam.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said six soldiers were killed and several other people wounded in Saturday’s attack in Daraa, where peaceful anti-government protests erupted in March 2011.

It said a bomber riding a motorcycle blew himself up at a military checkpoint.

Syrian state news agency SANA also reported a suicide bombing but said it happened during an “army raid” that targeted “terrorists”, a term used by authorities to describe opposition forces and extremists. It did not give a death toll.

Syria’s eight-year conflict, which evolved from a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests into a full-blown civil war involving regional and international players, has killed more than 370,000 people.

After the war broke out, Damascus was hit by several deadly attacks carried out mainly by extremist groups.

But the frequency of attacks decreased after regime forces last year recaptured areas around the capital held by the opposition or extremists, notably the former rebel bastion of Eastern Ghouta.

Last March, a US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance expelled ISIS from its last patch of territory in eastern Syria.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/07/28/ISIS-claims-deadly-attack-on-Syrian-government-troops-.html

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Air strikes kill 10 civilians in northwest Syria: Monitor

27 July 2019

Regime air strikes on Saturday killed 10 civilians in northwest Syria, where ramped up attacks by Damascus and its ally Russia have claimed the lives of hundreds since late April.

Idlib and parts of the neighbouring provinces of Aleppo, Hama and Latakia are under the control of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an extremist group led by Syria’s former al-Qaeda affiliate.

The region is supposed to be protected from a massive government offensive by a September buffer zone deal, but it has come under increasing bombardment by the regime and its Russian ally over the past three months.

On Saturday, two children were among the nine civilians killed in air raids on the Idlib town of Ariha, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The attack wounded 28 others, said the Britain-based monitor.

Two residential buildings in Ariha were hit by raids, in the second such attack on the town this week, said Observatory head Rami Abdul Rahman.

Regime air strikes killed 10 civilians there on Wednesday, according to the Observatory.

Bombardment by government forces on other parts of the Idlib region killed another civilian on Saturday and wounded 15 others, the monitor said.

Air strikes by the Syrian regime and its ally Russia on the Idlib region have claimed more than 740 lives since late April, according to the Observatory.

The UN says more than 400,000 people have been displaced.

The United Nations’ humanitarian coordination office OCHA has documented 39 attacks against health facilities or medical workers in the area in three months.

At least 50 schools have been damaged by air strikes and shelling over the same period, it said.

“These are civilian objects, and it seems highly unlikely, given the persistent pattern of such attacks, that they are all being hit by accident,” UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Friday.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/07/27/Air-strikes-kill-10-civilians-in-northwest-Syria-Monitor.html

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Several Syrian soldiers injured as govt. forces advance in Dara’a

Jul 27, 2019

Several Syrian army soldiers have sustained injuries when a bomb attack struck a unit of government forces during a counter-terrorism operation in the country’s southwestern province of Dara’a.

Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that a bomber detonated his explosive belt on Saturday afternoon as the army unit was raiding a terrorist hideout in the village of Maliha al-Atash, which lies in the Hauran plain and northeast of the provincial capital city of Dara’a.

The report added that the explosion led to the injury of a number of soldiers, who were taken to the city of al-Sanamayn to receive medical treatment.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, however, said six soldiers were killed and several other people wounded in the attack.

The Britain-based group added that a bomber, who was riding a motorcycle, detonated his explosives at a military checkpoint.

The development came a day after Syrian troopers targeted the artillery positions of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, and the so-called Jaysh al-Izza (Army of Glory) militants on the outskirts of Murak, Kafr Zita, al-Lataminah, al-Jebin and Hesrata towns in the northern part of Dara’a province.

SANA reported that scores of the foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorists were killed or injured in the process. The militants’ fortified positions and vehicles were destroyed in the operations as well.

Elsewhere in Sheer Maghar area of the west-central province of Hama, Syrian government forces repelled an attack by a group of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terrorists, inflicting losses upon them.

Separately, Syrian troopers pounded militants’ fortified positions in the northwestern city of Ma'arrat al-Nu'man, located 57 kilometers north of Hama, killing a number of extremists and destroying their mortar and rocket launch pads.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/27/602015/Several-Syrian-soldiers-injured-as-govt-forces-advance-in-Daraa

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Iraqi Kurds accuse PKK of Turkish diplomat’s assassination

Jul 27, 2019

Authorities in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region have accused members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group of ordering the assassination of a Turkish diplomat in the regional capital Erbil more than a week ago.

Officials from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said in a statement issued late on Friday that based on a detailed confession by the suspected Kurdish gunman, Mazloum Dag, 27 (shown in the picture below), the murder was carried out on the orders of top PKK commanders.

Iraqi Kurdish security services said PKK commanders had been planning the murder in their heavily fortified and far-flung hideouts in Iraq's Qandil mountains for three months.

They said they had arrested three Turkish and three Iraqi suspects.

Turkish consulate employee Osman Kose was killed on July 17, when attackers made their move while the Turkish diplomats asked for check at HuQQabaz, a popular restaurant in an upscale and high-security area only a five-minute drive from the Turkish mission on the airport road in Erbil.

One of the attackers directly targeted the Turkish diplomat at close range, firing a gun with a silencer. Meanwhile, the other attacker began to shoot towards two Iraqi customers. One of them died immediately while the other died in the hospital.

Dag's arrest last Saturday immediately caught the headlines in Turkish media as his sister Dersim is a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which the Turkish government accuses of affiliation to the PKK.

The HDP, Turkey’s second largest opposition group, “strongly” condemned the Erbil shooting attack, calling it an “absolutely unacceptable provocation attempt.”

Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said in a statement on July 19 that Turkish fighter jets had launched airstrikes on militant positions in Iraqi Kurdistan, dealing a heavy blow to the PKK terror group.

A shaky ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015. Attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/27/601993/Iraqi-Kurds-accuse-PKK-of-being-behind-Turkish-diplomats-assassination

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Turkey cracks down on Syrian refugees, deports them to terrorist-controlled Idlib

Jul 27, 2019

Turkey has launched a crackdown on Syrian refugees in the country, reportedly forcing them to sign “voluntary return” forms and deporting them the back to Syria.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report detailing numerous accounts of registered and non-registered refugees being verbally and physically abused before being forcefully transported to Syria’s terrorist-occupied northern Idlib province.

“Turkey claims it helps Syrians voluntarily return to their country, but threatening to lock them up until they agree to return, forcing them to sign forms, and dumping them in a war zone is neither voluntary nor legal,” said HRW’s associate emergencies director Gerry Simpson.

The Turkish government has played a major in role in supporting various terrorist groups seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, turning the country into a vital gateway for terrorist forces and supplies seeking to enter Syria.

The bloody conflict and havoc resulting from the foreign-backed terror campaign against the country has so far led to more than 400,000 deaths according to United Nations estimates.

The resulting humanitarian crisis has also consequently led to the creation of one of the world’s most serious refugee crises, with Turkey being overwhelmed with millions of Syrian refugees fleeing the war, many of which seek to further immigrate to Europe.

An estimated 3.6 million Syrian refugees currently reside in Turkey, the highest number of Syrian refugees in any country.

About half a million of them reside in the country’s largest city of Istanbul amid rising Turkish public anger over the refugees’ presence.

Last month, the UN warned that a military escalation in Idlib could send up to "two million" additional refugees into Turkey.

Turkey has been registering refugees under a “temporary protection” status since 2014.

The registration solely grants the refugees the right to reside and work in the province where they originally applied for protection. 

On July 19, the European Union pledged 1.41 billion euros in additional assistance to Turkey for accommodation of refugees. Istanbul had previously criticized the EU for failing to adequately fulfill its pledges of support.

Frustration over the mass-immigration has also led to rising anti-immigrant rhetoric and political pressure in Turkey.

Newly-elected mayor of Istanbul Ekrem Imamoglu of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) was reported to have repeatedly used anti-refugee rhetoric in his election campaign which was held a few months ago.

Imamoglu had expressed sympathy with growing popular discontent towards the country's economic downturn and the increasingly controversial presence of millions of Syrian refugees.

Amid the growing political pressure, Turkey has apparently begun to crack down on the refugee presence, with Istanbul’s provincial governor office issuing a decree last month ordering Syrian refugees to return to other provinces, where they had initially been registered.

The statement also said that unregistered refugees would be sent to provinces other than Istanbul for registration.

The decree did not mention what would happen if refugees failed to comply.

Reports from the HRW and other groups, however, suggest that Turkish authorities are not complying with their own August 20 deadline, forcibly displacing Syrian refugees beforehand and even deporting them to Idlib.

HRW has denounced the deportations, claiming that the transport of Syrian refugees to Idlib, which is currently controlled by Turkish-backed terrorists, constitutes as forced deportation to places where refugees “fear harm”.

“Turkey is bound by the international customary law of non-refoulement, which prohibits the return of anyone to a place where they would face a real risk of persecution, torture or other ill-treatment, or a threat to life,” read the statement.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/27/601969/Turkey-refugee-crackdown

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Bahrain executes three men convicted on terrorism charges

July 27, 2019

MANAMA: The Attorney-General of the Criminal Crimes Commission in Bahrain, Counselor Dr. Ahmed Al-Hammadi announced that three convicts were sentenced to death on Saturday in two separate cases according to Bahraini state-news agency, BNA.

The first case concerned "terrorism" and killing a police officer, and the second related to the killing of a mosque imam.

The Attorney General requested the execution of these sentences as required by law.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1531486/middle-east

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North America

 

US president mulls labeling anti-fascist movement antifa a terror group

Jul 28, 2019

US President Donald Trump has announced that he may consider labeling the anti-fascist movement in the country, known as antifa, a terrorist organization amid criticism that such designation may raise constitutional rights concerns.

“Consideration is being given to declaring ANTIFA, the gutless Radical Left Wack Jobs who go around hitting (only non-fighters) people over the heads with baseball bats, a major Organization of Terror (along with MS-13 & others),” Trump wrote in a Saturday Twitter post, adding: “Would make it easier for police to do their job!”

Trump’s announcement came just days after right-wing Republican Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Ted Cruz of Texas introduced a nonbinding resolution in the US Congress that would label antifa activists as “domestic terrorists.”

“Antifa are terrorists, violent masked bullies who ‘fight fascism’ with actual fascism, protected by Liberal privilege,” Cassidy asserted in a statement. “Bullies get their way until someone says no. Elected officials must have courage, not cowardice, to prevent terror.”

Such designation would permit law enforcement agencies to examine suspects’ known associations and affiliations, leading critics of the measure to charge that the move could result in overly broad enforcement.

“It is dangerous and overly broad to use labels that are disconnected [from] actual individual conduct,” said American Civil Liberties Union’s Director of the National Security Project, Hina Shamsi, last week.

“And as we’ve seen how ‘terrorism’ has been used already in this country,” she noted, “any such scheme raises significant due process, equal protection and First Amendment constitutional concerns.”

The anti-fascist movement has gained notoriety as supporters donning black costumes have engaged mostly far-right activists and militants in confrontations that have occasionally led to violent clashes.

Moreover, the group most recently drew headlines after right-wing journalist Andy Ngo was bloodied during a confrontation with militant protesters in the city of Portland in the western state of Oregon.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/28/602043/US-President-Donald-Trump-antifa-antifascist-movement-terrorist-organization

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Pro-Trump candidate charged with theft seeks to unseat Muslim MP Ilhan Omar

Jul 28, 2019

A pro-Trump Republican candidate for Congress who is aiming to unseat Ilhan Omar in Minnesota has been charged with a felony after allegedly stealing from stores.

Danielle Stella was arrested twice this year in Minneapolis suburbs over allegations that she shoplifted items worth more than $2,300 from a Target and goods valued at $40 from a grocery store. She said she denied the allegations.

Stella, a 31-year-old special education teacher, was reported this week to be a supporter of the baseless “QAnon” conspiracy theory about Donald Trump battling a global cabal of elite liberal pedophiles.

This week Stella also described Minneapolis as “the crime capital of our country”. She has in the past complained that local police were “overworked and overburdened” and said that, if elected, she would work to reduce crime.

In a series of text messages, Stella said: “I am not guilty of these crimes. In this country I am innocent until proven guilty and that is the law.”

She added: “If I was guilty of crimes, I would never run for public office, putting myself in the public eye under a microscope to be attacked by all political sides.”

An attorney for Stella, Joshua London, declined to comment.

Stella is accused of stealing 279 items valued at $2,327.97 from a Target store in Edina, to the south-west of Minneapolis, on 8 January this year. She was arrested for the alleged theft after security staff called the police.

A criminal complaint filed to Hennepin county district court alleged Stella was seen leaving the store without paying for most of her haul, after “scanning only a few other items” that were valued at about $50.

The complaint said Stella told police in a statement she “remembers arriving at Target to purchase items but nothing else” due to post-traumatic stress disorder, and that she “normally she goes to Target with someone because of anxiety around people”.

Stella has said publicly that she was the victim of a severe violent assault in 2008. She is charged with the thefts under her former surname, which the Guardian agreed not to report because she said it could endanger her safety.

She is charged with felony theft over the incident at Target and faces a punishment of up to five years in prison and a fine of $10,000 if convicted, according to court filings.

Police and court records said a warrant was put out for Stella’s re-arrest for alleged contempt of court on 4 April, after she failed to show up for a court hearing.

Stella promoted by far-right institutions

Stella’s candidacy has attracted interest from the far-right conspiracy website InfoWars, which broadcast an interview with her this week. Stella laughed and nodded as the host, J Owen Shroyer, called Omar “a witch” and said: “Everything about her is a fraud.”

Describing Minneapolis during the interview as America’s “crime capital”, Stella falsely claimed that crime in the city had risen by 80% over the past year. According to Minneapolis police data, there has been a 10.7% uptick in serious crime year-on-year, following a 16.5% decline in 2018.

The right-wing commentator Todd Starnes promoted Stella in an interview earlier this month on Fox News’s streaming service Fox Nation. “We certainly wish Miss Stella the very best,” Starnes said, adding that he hoped for a “significant change in representation” in Omar’s district.

Last month Stella officially registered with the Federal Election Commission as a candidate for the Republican nomination in Minnesota’s fifth congressional district. She later spoke at the “Demand Free Speech” rally in Washington.

She has accused Omar of being a criminal for advising immigrants how to avoid agents from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She said in a tweet that any representatives who fail to “uphold the rule of law” should be ejected from office.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/28/602034/US-proTrump-candidate-Muslim-congresswoman-Ilhan-Omar-Danielle-Stella

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Erdogan: Turkey will destroy Kurdish-held 'terror corridor' in Syria

July 27, 2019

Turkey will destroy a "terror corridor" along its border in northern Syria regardless of any deal reached with the United States to create a safe zone in the Kurdish-controlled area, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

Turkish and US officials are discussing the creation of the safe zone east of the Euphrates river to address Turkey's concerns about the presence of US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters. Turkey considers the Kurdish YPG militia, who comprised the bulk of a Syrian force that defeated ISIS in north-eastern Syria with US support, as terrorists with links to a Kurdish insurgency in Turkey.

“We are determined to shatter the terror corridor east of the Euphrates, no matter how the negotiations with the US to establish a safe zone along the Syrian borders concludes,” Mr Erdogan told members of his AK Party at a meeting on Friday.

"Those who engage in bullying by putting their trust in foreign forces will tomorrow find themselves in the grave," the president said, in an apparent reference to the YPG.

The head of the US military Central Command, General Kenneth McKenzie, visited Syria's Kurdish-held areas on Monday for the first time since he took his post in March and met the Kurdish commander of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, Gen Mazlum Abdi, in the border town of Kobane.

According to an SDF spokesman, they discussed the proposed safe zone as well as further co-operation with the international coalition against ISIS to prevent a resurgence of the extremist group.

At the same time, the US Special Envoy to Syria James Jeffrey was holding talks Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar and other top officials in Ankara.

The Turkish defence ministry said military officials from both countries had started work to "establish a planned safe zone in northern Syria in a co-ordinated way".

Turkey has recently stepped up warnings that it could send troops into Syria to drive back the Kurdish fighters if talks with the US drag on, and has been sending reinforcements to its border area.

Since 2016, Turkey has launched two cross-border offensives into Syria, the first against ISIS and the second against Kurdish fighters west of the Euphrates.

Mr Erdogan said a new Turkish incursion into Syria east of the Euphrates would cut off contact between Syria's Kurdish fighters and those in neighbouring Iraq, where Turkey has been carrying out air strikes targeting alleged hideouts of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the Kurdish group waging an insurgency in Turkey.

Meanwhile, the Syria foreign ministry rejected any agreement reached between the US and Turkey on northern Syria as an infringement of its sovereignty.

"The pretexts of national security the Turkish regime is putting forward belie its policies and behaviours as a main base for terrorism, offering it all kinds of military and logistical support," a ministry statement said.

Kurdish-controlled north-east Syria and the opposition-held Idlib region in the north-west are the two main pockets of territory that remain outside of Syrian government control after eight years of civil war.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/erdogan-turkey-will-destroy-kurdish-held-terror-corridor-in-syria-1.891348

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