Books and Documents

Islamic World News (04 Sep 2018 NewAgeIslam.Com)

AMU To Govt: Idea to Drop ‘Muslim’ From Name Preposterous

In a bid to communal harmony, Hindus and Muslims in Agra together celebrated the festival, making preparations for the same. "We have been doing this since the last 15 years. We want India to be united just as the way we are.



AMU To Govt: Idea to Drop ‘Muslim’ From Name Preposterous

Faisalabad Communal Violence: Ahmadi, Muslim Communities Sign Accord for Peace

Public Caning Will ‘Invite Allah’s Blessings’ To Terengganu, PAS Cleric Claims

Houthis and Hezbollah ‘Trafficking Drugs to Fund Military Operations’

Suspect in Stabbing Of Americans Believes Dutch Insult Islam

Britain Warns Of ‘Real Threat’ From ISIS Regrouping In Afghanistan



AMU To Govt: Idea to Drop ‘Muslim’ From Name Preposterous

Hindus and Muslims Celebrate Janmashtami Together In Agra

India agrees to allow Pakistan to inspect Kishanganga project

US wants India to join group to check Islamic State funding

Kashmiri separatists call for poll boycott, say process ‘propagated as verdict in India’s favour’

Five Held for Plot to Target Hindu Leaders: Tamil Nadu Police

Special light scheme to enhance structural details of Qutub Minar

Fake alert: Man beaten up in Dehradun not a Naga Sadhu, was not thrashed by Muslims

FAKE: Stills from Malayalam TV soap used with claims that ISIS killed IPS officer, husband

Hyderabad twin bomb blasts: 2 of 5 accused convicted, sentencing on Monday



Faisalabad Communal Violence: Ahmadi, Muslim Communities Sign Accord for Peace

‘Friend’ Imran Khan Sends ‘Peace Message’ To Sidhu

Rules may be amended to pave way for PM’s Hour in National Assembly

Rabbani urges PM not to meet Pompeo

Qureshi, Rabbani renew trust in Pak-Afghan dialogue mechanism

Hizb chief says Indian agencies are victimising his family

Three terrorists killed during search operation in Karachi

Polling begins in five legislatures to elect 13th president of Pakistan


Southeast Asia

Public Caning Will ‘Invite Allah’s Blessings’ To Terengganu, PAS Cleric Claims

Mahathir To Hand over Malaysia PM’s Post In 2 Years

Rights group: Public Shariah caning tarnishes view of Islam

Rising Islamic Tide Threatens Indonesia’s Jokowi

Densus 88 Kills Two Terror Suspects Allegedly Involved in Attack on Traffic Police

Two killed, 14 injured in latest explosion by Daesh-linked militants in southern Philippines


Arab World

Houthis and Hezbollah ‘Trafficking Drugs to Fund Military Operations’

Local Official: Turkey, Terrorists Not Popular in Idlib

8 civilians killed in Iraq in suspected IS attacks

Syrian Media Reveals Turkey's Concession to Anti-Terrorism Operations in Idlib

ISIL Resumes Activities in Eastern Syria after US Intensifies Aid to Allied Militia

People in Northern Syria Call for Expulsion of Turkish Army, Allied Militants

Turkish Army Sends More Troops to Borders with Syria Ahead of Idlib Battle

Second French Army Convoy Arrives in Manbij in Northeastern Syria

Syrian Army Sends Heavy Military Hardware to Idlib

US call for Iran, Hezbollah withdrawal from Syria meaningless: Sheikh Qassem

Zarif, Assad say Western pressure will fail to stop Iran-Syria terror fight


North America

Suspect in Stabbing Of Americans Believes Dutch Insult Islam

Do Not ‘Recklessly Attack’ Idlib, Trump Warns Syria, Russia

Kerry defends Iran deal, censures Trump for 'making things up'

Pakistan, US to discuss “shared objective” with Pompeo



Britain Warns Of ‘Real Threat’ From ISIS Regrouping In Afghanistan

Spain Cancels €9.2mn Deal to Sell Saudis 400 Precision Bombs

UK government says ‘concerned’ by civilian deaths in Yemen, keeps mum on Saudi arms deals


South Asia

Taliban Confirms Death Of Haqqani Network Founder Jalalauddin Haqqani

10 ISIS Militants Killed, Wounded During the Operations in Kunar Province

Bangladesh, Myanmar show maturity by not raising Rohingya issue at BIMSTEC summit: Official

Myanmar Army Uses Images Of Fleeing Rohingya Muslims As Bangladeshi Immigrants, Apologises Later For 'Mistake

Bangladesh Church sets priorities for the next decade

8 suspects arrested over suspicious transfer of 381 young men to Nangarhar

U.S. soldier killed, another wounded in East of Afghanistan

2 ISIS militants hailing from Pakistan surrender to Afghan forces in Nangarhar



Talks with Palestinians Are Pointless: Israel

New Colombian President: Recognition of Palestine 'Irreversible'

US Claims on Religious Minorities' Rights In Iran Biased: Bishop

Israel will act ‘unilaterally’ on Gaza Strip, West Bank issues: Lieberman

Turkey detains over dozen officers over affiliation to Gulen movement

Israel signals it could attack Iranian weaponry in Iraq

UNRWA chief defends refugee criteria for millions of Palestinians

Turkey to trade in local currencies with Iran, China

Iran will continue support for Syria's fight against terrorism: Zarif

Turkey says to start controversial drilling for gas in East Mediterranean

Israeli troopers kill another Palestinian over alleged stabbing attack in West Bank



Death Toll Hits 48 in Boko Haram Troop Attack: Military Sources

Boko Haram No Longer Control Any Part of Nigeria – Buhari Claims amid Killing of Soldiers

Residents trapped as clashes rage in Libya’s Tripoli

Palestine and Jordan reject ‘confederation trial balloon’

Gunmen kill 11 villagers in Nigeria's Plateau state

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/amu-to-govt--idea-to-drop-‘muslim’-from-name-preposterous/d/116283





AMU To Govt: Idea to Drop ‘Muslim’ From Name Preposterous

By Ritika Chopra

September 4, 2018

Hitting back at the government panel that suggested the word “Muslim” be dropped from its name, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), in its formal response to the University Grants Commission (UGC), has called the proposition “preposterous” for ignoring the institution’s long history and unique character.

Criticising the committee for going beyond its mandate, AMU Registrar Javaid Akhter wrote to the government, “The name of the university gives us an idea about its history, purpose and character and preserving the same is our bounden Constitutional duty.” “The committee incorrectly draws the conclusion that by renaming AMU as Aligarh University would instil secular values. One must recall that in India the concept of secularism arises more from the discourse of justice and equality than from an anti-religious position mostly practiced in the West,” he said in response to the 15 suggestions contained in the audit ordered by the government.

As first reported by The Indian Express on October 9, 2017, the above recommendation was mentioned in an audit of AMU by one of five committees set up by the University Grants Commission (UGC) on April 25 last year, at the behest of the HRD Ministry, to probe complaints of irregularities against 10 Central universities.

Although the panel’s audit mandate was limited to infrastructure and academic, research and financial operations in the 10 varsities, the report on AMU suggested that the institution should either be called just ‘Aligarh University’ or be named after its founder, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. According to committee, the presence of the word “Muslim” impinges on the secular character of the university, which is funded by the union government.

Reacting to The Indian Express report, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar had told reporters on October 9, 2017, that the government would not accept the suggestion to rename AMU.

The committee had also recommended that the selection process of AMU’s Vice-Chancellor should be tweaked to align it with the appointment procedure followed by other central universities. Currently, AMU has a greater say in appointment process. The university’s Executive Council shortlists a panel of five candidates and forwards it to the AMU Court, which, in turn, selects three names and sends the list to the HRD Ministry. The President then appoints one of the three finalists.

The university defended its process saying “it is in line with top class world universities who have all the freedom and autonomy to choose their own V-Cs best suited to them”.

“The selection process advised by the panel and followed by other Central universities is neither perfect nor infallible. No one even knows what objective criteria are followed by the search committee in shortlisting the candidates,” AMU’s response states.

In response to the committee’s criticism that AMU promotes a culture of “inbreeding” in which a majority of faculty appointments are of its former students, the university cited statistics that 388 teachers have experience of working outside AMU and 237 of its teachers have worked abroad including reputed institutions like Harvard University, University of California, University of Michigan and Washington University.

The response states: “Suggestion of the committee to have a gap of five years after award of Master’s/PhD from AMU for taking teaching assignment in AMU is neither prescribed in UGC regulations not practiced in any comparable university such as DU, BHU, JNU and JMI… It must be appreciated that meritorious students can’t be denied appointment merely because of the fact that he or she is an alumnus of the same institution.”

AMU’s audit was done by a committee comprising IIT-Madras professor Shripad Karmalkar, Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati University V-C Kailash Sodani, Guwahati University professor Mazhar Asif and IIM-Bangalore professor Sankarshan Basu.

Earlier this year, the government had asked the university for its comments on the observations made in the panel’s report. AMU submitted its response in the last week of June.




Faisalabad communal violence: Ahmadi, Muslim communities sign accord for peace

Muhammad Saleem

September 04, 2018

FAISALABAD: The Ahmadi and Muslim communities of Ghaseetpura signed a written agreement, promising to avoid giving a religious colour to personal and individual disputes and present any issue in future to the local committee.

Agreement was signed by Mian Nazir, Abdul Jabbar, Prof Abdul Hameed, Rana Idrees, Muhammad Sarwar and Muhammad Hanif, representing the Jamat Ahle Sunnat and Shafi, Allah Rakha, Rana Manzoor, Bashrat Ahmed, Arshad and Ghulam Murtaza of the Jamaat Ahmadiyya on Aug 28, following a clash which left 19 people from both sides, including 13 Muslims and six Ahmadis, injured.

On Aug 23, both the sides clashed and resorted to firing against each other from the worship place of Ahmadi and adjacent houses. The Ahmadi worship place (Baitul Zikr) was also ransacked and some of its belongings damaged.

According to the six-point accord, any personal and individual disputes would not be given religious colour. Any dispute or any other issue would be brought to the notice of the local committee. Both the sides would not deliver provocative speeches or make announcements (against each other) in mosques or the worship places. The Ahmadi community would bear the repair expenses of its worship place damaged in the clash and no objection would be raised to the repair work. Both the communities would exercise their religious rights according to the law and constitution of Pakistan. An ex parte decision will be made in case of violation of the agreement.

A committee was formed by City Police Officer Ashfaq Ahmed Khan to keep an eye on the investigation. The police also initiated a preventive action against 15 people (seven Ahmadis and eight Muslims) to avoid further clash in the area.

The Balochni police had registered a case on the complaint of Station House Officer Zahid Hussain against about 200 people under terrorism charges and the Pakistan Penal Code sections of 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon) and 149 (unlawful assembly, guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common objective), 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 324 (attempted murder), 427 (mischief causing damage) and 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house etc).

A police officer said it was a good sign that both the communities had inked the agreement to maintain peace. He said it was easy for the police to conduct the investigation into the issue and put the suspects behind the bar. However, the department had tried to ensure permanent peace in the area as both communities had been living peacefully for years. He said investigation into the issue would be conducted on merit.

Full report at:




Public caning will ‘invite Allah’s blessings’ to Terengganu, PAS cleric claims

04 September 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 ― PAS MP Datuk Khairuddin Aman Razali has lauded Terengganu’s public caning sentence against two women yesterday, claiming the Shariah punishment would “invite Allah’s blessings” to the state and its people.

The Muslim cleric suggested that the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality and Malaysian Bar should demand the implementation of Shariah caning in civil cases, and the amendment of the Penal Code to be Shariah-compliant instead if they were rational and humane.

“What is more important is the method of Shariah caning will invite Allah’s blessings to the people and the state, like it was convicted in the Prophet’s hadith.

“There is no spiritual soul in the implementation of civil criminal punishments,” the Kuala Nerus MP said in a statement.

He also claimed that the sentencing proved that the Shariah judiciary is ready and able to implement Shariah criminal code enacted in the state laws.

Despite his claim, the sentencing yesterday was carried out by a Prisons Department officer from the Kajang Prison in Selangor, and not by an officer of the state of Terengganu or the Shariah courts.

Another Prisons Department officer from Pengkalan Chepa, Kelantan was also present, but did not mete out the punishment.

Yesterday, two women found guilty for attempting to have lesbian sex were caned six times in public at the Terengganu Syariah Court, as around 100 people watched the punishment.

The punishment received worldwide condemnation, with federal minister in charge of religious affairs Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa saying public presence during the sentencing should be reviewed.

Full report at:




Houthis and Hezbollah ‘trafficking drugs to fund military operations’

September 03, 2018

“Houthi militias have been trafficking drugs, which the Yemeni security forces with the support of the coalition have been fighting to stop,” said Col. Turki Al-Maliki, spokesman for the Saudi-led Arab coalition at a press conference in Riyadh on Monday.

The spokesman accused the Houthis of being drug traffickers in cooperation with the Lebanese Hezbollah group.

Al-Maliki said that coalition forces were helping Yemen’s legitimate security forces to counter the Houthi drug trade. He added that many drug shipments had been seized and that some of the seized shipments had the slogan “Beirut Youth Council.”

“This explains the relationship between Hezbollah and the Houthi militias in an effort to find sources of funding for military operations,” he said.

“Al-Houthi militias continue to threaten maritime navigation in the Strait of Bab Al-Mandeb and the Red Sea.”

Yemeni security forces in Marib governorate confiscated a shipment of drugs coming from Lebanon, on its way to the Houthi militias in the capital Sanaa, according to the Yemeni Information Ministry.

On Thursday, the Yemeni minister of Information Mouammar Al-Aryani said on his Twitter account that the seized drug shipment was hidden inside coffee packets.

Al-Maliki said that Iranian-backed Houthi militias are using schools in Taiz district to avoid the Saudi-led coalition’s targeting.

Full report at:




Suspect in stabbing of Americans believes Dutch insult Islam

September 4, 2018

The Hague, Sep 4 (AP) An Afghan asylum-seeker accused of stabbing two Americans in Amsterdam believes that Islam is insulted in the Netherlands, Dutch prosecutors said Monday, giving the first indication of why they think a “terrorist motive” was behind the attack.

The 19-year-old suspect is accused of stabbing the 38-year-old tourists Friday in an unprovoked attack after he arrived at Amsterdam’s Central Station on an international train.

The American men were not targeted because of their nationality, which the alleged attacker did not know, prosecutors said. The suspect’s grievance was with the European country where the assault took place, they said in a written statement.

“It is apparent from his statements that he believes that in the Netherlands, the Prophet Muhammad, the Quran, Islam and Allah are repeatedly insulted,” prosecutors said, noting that the young Afghan man specifically mentioned Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, who is well known for his fierce anti-Islam rhetoric.

“From the suspect’s statements so far, it is clear the man had a terrorist motive … and that he traveled to the Netherlands for that reason,” the prosecutors’ said.

Earlier Monday, German authorities said the man had applied for asylum in Germany and was not considered a security threat there.

Wilders last week called off a planned contest for cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad following death threats and concerns other people could be put at risk. Prosecutors said the suspect did not mention the contest in his statements.

Wilders reacted with a tweet, writing: “Muslim terrorists hate our way of life and our freedoms. They answer criticism of Islam with violence.” The prosecutors added that there was so far no indication the suspect, identified as Jawed S. under Dutch privacy rules, was working with anyone else.

Police shot him after the stabbings, and he remains in a hospital.

An investigating judge held a closed-door hearing there Monday and ordered him held for two more weeks on suspicion of assaulting the Americans “with a terrorist motive.” They suffered serious, but not life-threatening injuries in the attack.

Full report at:




Britain warns of ‘real threat’ from ISIS regrouping in Afghanistan

3 September 2018

Britain has issued a new warning that defeated extremists and militants driven out of Iraq and Syria are regrouping and organizing their cells in Afghanistan and are preparing for attacks that could target various parts of the world, including the United Kingdom.

The warning came from UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson who said on Sunday that his country and other European states are being threatened by extremists from Afghanistan-based branches of ISIS.

“What we see is a real threat posed by these groups to the UK and we’ve got to be acting as we are to ensure that we do not see future Manchester-style attacks,” Williamson told Sky News.

Full report at:






Hindus and Muslims celebrate Janmashtami together in Agra

Sep 04, 2018

Lucknow: The auspicious festival of Janmashtami was celebrated all across the nation with much fervour. While some celebrated the festival on September 2 this year, in some parts it is being celebrated on September 3.

In a bid to communal harmony, Hindus and Muslims in Agra together celebrated the festival, making preparations for the same. "We have been doing this since the last 15 years. We want India to be united just as the way we are. There are no barriers of caste and religion in celebrating festivals," a local resident, S Qureshi said.

In yet another instance, Muslims in Aligarh presented a tale of communal harmony as they made statues of Krishna and Radha on the occasion of Janmashtami. They said that it was not the first time the Muslim workers in Aligarh made those statues. It is an annual procedure for the Muslim workers in Aligarh to make Krishna's statue. They are well-crafted with the making of these brass statues and know how to polish them and which clothes to equip them with.

The occasion of Janmashtami marks the birth of Lord Krishna - the eight avatar of god Vishnu. It is known as Gokulashtami in several parts of the world. According to Hindu lunar calendar, it is observed on the eighth day (Ashtami) of the Krishna Paksha in the month of Shrawana or Sawan. It overlaps with August and September of the Gregorian calendar. The festival of Shri Krishna Janmashtami is followed by Nandotsav - celebrating the occasion when Nanda Baba distributed gifts to the community in honour of Krishna's birth.




India agrees to allow Pakistan to inspect Kishanganga project

Khalid Hasnain

September 04, 2018

LAHORE: India has agreed to allow Pakistan to inspect the projects in the Jhelum basin, including Kishanganga hydroelectric project, in the near future and Islamabad will allow New Delhi to carry out inspection of the Kotri barrage over the Indus under Article VIII (4) (c) of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), it has been learnt.

According to the minutes of the 115th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission held between the two countries from Aug 29 to 30 in Lahore, “Pakistan also urged India to arrange for the Special Tour of Inspection of the projects in Jhelum basin including Kishanganga HEP which is pending since 2014, on which ICIW (India’s Commissioner for Indus Waters) gave his assurance to arrange the same promptly.”

During the meeting, the Pakistani and Indian authorities were unanimous about strengthening the role of the Permanent Indus Commission. Islamabad also highlighted the need and asked New Delhi to share the information about potential projects at the planning stage for examination. “In this way any objections (if raised by Pakistan) can be addressed in the design at the early stage of planning instead of debating with India at belated stage when practically incorporating the requisite changes becomes a challenge.”

In order to converge on the objections raised by Pakistan, both sides reiterated their stance and endeavoured to resolve the issues. In this regard both sides agreed to exchange the detailed basis of adopting various design parameters for both 48MW Lower Kalnai and 1000MW Pakal Dul HEPs at the Chenab River. “During the meeting both the sides agreed to conduct the General Tours of Inspection which could not be conducted since 2014.

“In this regard first PCIW (Pakistani Commissioner for Indus Waters) will visit the Chenab basin in the last week of September 2018 followed by the tour of ICIW to the Kotri barrage in the Lower Indus, according to Article VIII (4) (c),” the document reveals.

In the meeting, which was held under Article VIII (5) of the IWT, both sides also agreed to arrange the next meeting of the commission soon after the tour of inspection on both sides to discuss and endeavour to address Pakistan’s objections on Lower Kalnai and Pakal Dul.

Pakistan has already approached the World Bank and sought referring the case to International Court of Arbitration (ICA). However, India, on the other hand, wants the dispute decided by the neutral experts. In June, this year, World Bank had reportedly asked Pakistan to accept India’s demand of a ‘neutral expert’ and stand down from pursuing its stand of referring the dispute to the ICA. Pakistan had also raised concerns over the inauguration of the Kishanganga hydropower plant by India during talks with the World Bank in Washington.

“Since the talks between the two countries have been restored, Pakistani team may inspect the Kishanganga project on the eve of the next meeting of the permanent commission for the Indus waters in India or before this,” a senior official told Dawn on Monday.

In reply to a question, he said India had no objection on the Kotri barrage in the lower Indus. “Their (Indian experts) visit to Pakistan will be after ending our experts’ inspection of the Lower Kalnai and Pakal Dul projects scheduled by end of this month,” the official said. “The Indian experts’ visit / inspection of the Kotri barrage is sort of routine one, as they have no objection or concerns in this regard. It is a part of the compilation and exchange of the data by the two countries related to rivers’ flow, water storage, releases, etc,” he added.




US wants India to join group to check Islamic State funding

by Rahul Tripathi

September 4, 2018

Ahead of the first ‘2+2’ dialogue between India and the US, Washington is learnt to have suggested that New Delhi should be a part of the Counter ISIS Finance Group (CIFG), a broad international group formed to “degrade” and “defeat” ISIS. With US, Italy, and Saudi Arabia as co-chair, the group was established in January 2015, and has 49 member states, including Australia, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, France, Georgia, Germany, Iraq and China as observers.

The US homeland security officials and their Indian counterparts have worked on a draft plan related to six areas, including anti-terror cooperation in intelligence sharing, terror financing and cyber security, that will be shared during the September 6 dialogue, said officials. CIFG, the global coalition to prevent Islamic State’s use of the international financial system, has been holding discussions with member states and intergovernmental bodies like Financial Action Task Force (FATF) since 2015.

While no major attack with direct involvement of Islamic State (IS) has been reported in India so far, the terror outfit has managed to recruit dozens of youths using online propaganda, officials claimed. In a written reply in Parliament, Minister of State for Home Affairs, Hansraj Ahir, had stated on March 15, 2017, “The National Investigation Agency and state police have registered cases to investigate the alleged links of individuals with ISIS and 75 individuals have so far been arrested.”

North Block officials maintained that the group has no physical infrastructure in India and has managed to influence a very small section of youth. “Our intelligence and investigating agencies have managed to counter financing of these small modules. We have been sharing our findings with various foreign agencies and have participated in various FATF deliberations on terror financing. Islamic State and all its manifestations have been banned in India under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967,” a senior home ministry official added.

Earlier, Indian security agencies had expressed reservations over being a part of US’s Terrorist Screening Centre (TSC), a multi-agency organisation administered by FBI which consolidates several terrorist watchlists maintained by US government agencies into a single database on terror suspects. However, discussions are being held to further allay concerns. The Intelligence Bureau is the nodal agency for the pact for TSC.

The CIFG charter includes denying ISIL funding from abroad, including from external donors, foreign terrorist fighters, kidnapping for ransom and preventing ISIL from providing financial or material support to foreign affiliates in an effort to expand its global ambitions, among others. The discussion over CIFG follows a meeting between an Indian delegation led by Additional Secretary in Home Ministry Rajni Sekhri Sibal and her US counterpart, Deputy Under Secretary in the Department of Homeland Security, James McCament.

Full report at:




Kashmiri separatists call for poll boycott, say process ‘propagated as verdict in India’s favour’

Sep 03, 2018

Kashmiri separatists on Monday called for a boycott of the local bodies’ polls in Jammu and Kashmir, saying people’s participation in elections are propagated “as a verdict in India’s favour”.

The municipal and panchayat polls are being held in the state after over a decade in October and November. The state government has deputed over 15,000 additional paramilitary forces to conduct the polls amid a spike in the militant violence.

Syed Ali Geelani, Yasin Malik and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq issued the poll boycott appeal under the banner of Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL). Separatists have routinely issued poll boycott calls since elections were conducted first in 1996 following the beginning of an armed insurgency in Kashmir in the 1980s.

“India uses it (polls) as a means to dilute Jammu and Kashmir’s disputed status and to undo the holding of a referendum as promised at the United Nation,’’ the three said in a statement after a JRL meeting.

The statement referred to the petition in the Supreme Court against the Constitution’s Article 35 that allows the Jammu and Kashmir assembly to define the state’s permanent residents and confers special rights on them. It added the state’s identity and disputed status was at stake and the provision was sought to be done away to alter its demography. “While a Sword of Damocles is kept hanging over us on this issue, they now want to thrust and enforce panchayat and municipal elections upon us through the additional deployment of lakhs of forces…”

Hizbul Mujahideen, Jammu and Kashmir’s biggest indigenous militant group, had last week warned the people of acid attacks if they participated in the local bodies’ polls. As many as 16 sarpanches (panchayat heads) and panchs (rural bodies’ members) have been killed over the last four years. A record 75% voter turnout was recorded when panchayat polls were last held in 2011.

Full report at:




Five held for plot to target Hindu leaders: Tamil Nadu police

by Arun Janardhanan

September 4, 2018

The Coimbatore police on Monday said they had arrested five youths under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for an alleged conspiracy to kill leaders of two Hindu fringe groups in Tamil Nadu. Relatives and acquaintances of one of those arrested, however, said he had gone from Chennai to Coimbatore to look for footpath space to sell clothes ahead of the festive season.

A police statement said the operation — comprising a search near the station, the arrests, seizure of cellphones and five sickles, and filing of an FIR — took about six hours on Saturday. According to police, they received information that Ashiq (25) from Coimbatore, and his friends, who were arriving from Chennai, were plotting to target Hindu Makkal Katchi leader Arjun Sampath and Sakthi Sena leader Anbu Mari. Around 1 pm, the police statement said, five of them were picked up from a road near the station.

Besides Ashiq, Ismail (25) from Dindivanam, Salavuddin (25) from Otteri, Jafar Sadiq Ali (29) from Vyasarpadi near Chennai and Shamsuddin (20) from Pallavaram in Chennai were picked up. All five of them have been sent to Coimbatore central prison.

The police statement said all of them were “active in defending radical Islam and posted on social media against those who criticise Islam and Prophet”.

Citing Ismail’s alleged confession, the statement said Ashiq had promised them help from more people for their “operation” and that Ismail had links with the Islamic State. The statement said some of the accused were members of the Indian National League (INL) — an outfit found 10 years ago with the objective of preventing Muslim youths from joining radical groups — and they also supported Islamic State’s ideology.

Asserting that the alleged conspiracy was to be carried out during the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations, the police statement said the arrests were also significant in view of the two murders in Coimbatore — that of Hindu Munnani spokesperson C Sasikumar in 2016 and of atheist H Farook in 2017. The role of radical Muslim groups is suspected in both cases.

A senior intelligence officer claimed at least two accused were members of INL. “They were furious on social media against anything that criticised Prophet or Islam. They never had a direct communication with the targets (Sampath and Mari), but developed enmity against both as they were very vocal against Islamic groups,” the officer said.

The officer said Ashiq, who worked at a mutton shop, was being watched for over six months since he was linked to a case under the POCSO Act for allegedly abusing schoolchildren. Among the five, the officer said, two had completed their Bachelor’s degree, one had a diploma in a technical course and others had completed school.

“All of them hail from lower middle class backgrounds. Except Ashiq, none had a permanent job,” said the officer.

INL founder Tada J Abdul Rahim said Salavuddin and Ali were active in his movement till five months ago. In a statement, Rahim said the youths were picked up when they had gathered in Coimbatore to look for footpath space to sell clothes. “Taking them into custody, linking them in a murder conspiracy and foisting charges such as UAPA is a conspiracy against Muslim youth, they should be immediately released,” he said.

Rahim, whose outfit has arranged lawyers for the accused, said Salavuddin went to towns and sold old clothes during festive seasons while Ali worked as a helper in interior decoration works.  “It may be a fact that these youths were very vocal and outspoken in defending Islam on social media when hate mongers put up posts against Islam and Islamic groups. Their tone and tenor in resisting hatred online might have been equally problematic and needed correction as they sound angry in this age. But foisting such serious cases to trap them forever is cruel,” Rahim said.

Full report at:




Special light scheme to enhance structural details of Qutub Minar

Sep 04, 2018

Walking through the 12th century Qutub Minar complex after sunset will soon be a better experience with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) deciding to replace façade lamps at the minaret with ‘architectural lights’.

The new illumination, similar to the ones installed at Red Fort, will spruce up the Minar complex enabling visitors a detailed view of its opulent architecture, calligraphic verses, corbels, and intricate carving even at night.

The 73-metre-tall tapering tower having five storeys, built by Shams-ud-Din Altamash, the Sultan of the Mamluk dynasty that had roots in Turkey, is the highest brick structure in India.

Hollow from within, it has circular staircase with 378 steps.

The first Sultan of the city, Qutub-ud-Din Aibak laid the foundation of the Minar in 1193 AD, possibly as a tower of victory but also as a minaret attached to the Quwwatul Islam mosque located next to it.

“Aibak had perhaps only succeeded in raising the first storey, the remaining storeys being eventually completed by his successor Altamash,” says a guide book on Delhi’s monuments by ASI.

The ASI has engaged the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) to carry out the replacement of lights, for which the design is being prepared.

In the next three-four months, Qutub Minar will become the second world heritage site in the national Capital to have state-of-the-art illumination after Red Fort.

“Our historic buildings look weak in comparison to such sites abroad as they are beautifully illuminated. Architectural lights at Qutub Minar will enhance its aesthetic and will attract more tourists. Next in line is Safdarjung Tomb,” said Mahesh Sharma, Union minister for Culture.

Façade lighting is a simple arrangement to illuminate historical structures in which lights are directed at the frontages or surfaces to be highlighted.

Architectural lighting also known as element illumination is programming based technique in which beams of light are cast on components such as domes, ramparts, minarets, arches, and balconies, from different angles to highlight their architectural details.

“More importantly, under architectural lightings plan, lamps are not fixed on the surface of the structure but are kept or placed at strategic points. This does not damage the building. For architectural illumination, energy efficient LED lamps are used, which reduce power consumption significantly,” said a senior official of ASI, which is the national custodian and watchdog of heritage monuments in India.

At present, the Qutub Minar complex remains open till 10pm for night viewing, however no other monument is lit up except the minaret.

The campus has several prominent edifices, including the tombs of Altamash and Ala-ud-Din Khilji and two mosques. The lights are switched off at 10.30pm.

Under the new lighting project, features of three more structures—Alai Darwaza, Alai Minar, and Quwwatul Islam mosque, will be embellished with LED lights.

“However, we will not allow tourists to go near or enter other structures to be illuminated as part of the plan. It may take three-four months to complete the project,” said the official, who is familiar with the matter.

Facade lights at several ASI and state archaeology department protected historical structures such as Feroz Shah Kotla, Purana Qila, Safdarjung Tomb, Gol Gumbad, Mutiny Memorial, and Quli Khan’s tomb were installed in the run up to the Commonwealth Games in 2010. However, Qutub Minar was provided with ultraviolet protective bulbs in May 2005.

“Elements illumination will enhance the Minar’s aesthetics by exposing beautifully inscribed calligraphy and other decorative features such as corbels, flanges, and balconies. People travelling towards Mehrauli will also be able to appreciate the monument from a distance,” said an official of the NBCC.

The state-run real estate developer, NBCC, has also planned a slew of measures at Qutub Minar complex to facilitate visitors such as a pedestrian underpass connecting parking lot and the monument complex, pathways, ramps for sightseers with special need, and an information cum interpretation centre.

“We will install new water kiosks, built cloak rooms, souvenir shops, and redevelop toilet, and parking facilities. Pathways will be re-laid and benches are planned for the comfort of the tourist. These measures are crucial to promote our heritage,” said Anoop Kumar Mittal, chairman and managing director (CMD), NBCC.

Usha Sharma, director general, ASI, said light swapping project is part of ASI’s ongoing restoration and preservation of city’s monuments for which ₹140 crores have already been earmarked.

Full report at:




Fake alert: Man beaten up in Dehradun not a Naga Sadhu, was not thrashed by Muslims

Sep 3, 2018

A video of a man, who looks like a Naga Sadhu, being beaten up, was shared widely across social media platforms and WhatsApp yesterday.

Many social media users shared the video with claims that the man seen the video was indeed a Naga Sadhu and that he was beaten up by Muslim men.

Dehradun Police spoke to TOI and clarified that the claims are fake and said that action will be taken against those who circulated the video on social media.


Among those who shared the video with the fake claims on Twitter are actor Koena Mitra, My Nation editor Abhijit Majumder, columnist Shefali Vaidya, and many other anonymous handles.

Twitter handle @imamofpeace shared the video posted by a user named Shikha saying, “Islamic extremists in India beating up a poor and elderly Indian beggar. I truly wish this Islamist criminal is arrested soon,” and tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his tweet.

Many people who responded to this tweet claimed that the man seen in the video is a not a beggar but a Naga Sadhu. Social media users then quote-tweeted the tweets sharing the video saying a Naga Sadhu was attacked by Muslims. Koena Mitra’s now-deleted tweet said, “He is a Naga Sadhu. This happens in our country everyday.”


TOI got in touch with Dehradun Police who clarified that the man seen in the video is not a Naga Sadhu but a beggar. Police said that the incident took place on August 24 in Patel Nagar police station jurisdiction and said that the man is a drug-addict.

SSP Dehradun tweeted about the incident and in it, said that the man seen in the video is an impersonator and was arrested after he molested a woman under influence.

सोशल मीिडया पर एक

िजसेनागा साधुबतातेए

कुछ लोगोंारा

पीटनेका एक वीिडयो वाइरल िकया जा रहा है। उ…


— SSP Dehradun (@DehradunSsp) 1535644795000

The man, now identified as Sushil Nath, a native of Haryana, entered a house and molested a woman, police said. When the woman raised an alarm, her brother -- Shubham -- intervened and thrashed the man using a stick along with some locals. SSP Dehradun tweeted this information as well.

@tsrawatbjp @uttarakhandcops @DehradunDm @annantsrivastav सोशल मीिडया पर एक

िजसेनागा साधुबतातेए

कुछ… https://t.co/pCvDBP8RtP

— SSP Dehradun (@DehradunSsp) 1535885434000


Full report at:




FAKE: Stills from Malayalam TV soap used with claims that ISIS killed IPS officer, husband


Two stills from a Malayalam TV soap are being used with a false claim that ISIS terrorists killed a Kerala IPS officer and her husband. The intent behind making such a claim is to target the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Kerala government, accusing the government of being inefficient.

The post that went viral said this - "Shocking! Kerala IPS officer and husband were killed by ISIS jehadis in Kerala using modern capsule bomb.

What the commie government is doing there? Is there no security even for an IPS officer (sic)?"

Another Facebook user, Santosh Kumar Paswan had made the same claim but seem to have deleted the post.

The above post has been shared over 1,300 times and garnered nearly 3,000 reactions. Some Facebook users commented saying the claim is fake and even shared the episode of the Malayalam soap 'Parasparam' from which the stills used were taken but the post is still intact.

While some users think this is a satirical post, scrolling through this particular handle will give an idea that the person is a serial fakester, who has shared misleading posts in the past as well.

Santosh Kumar Paswan, the user who shared a post to spread this fake news, is now facing the wrath of Malayali social media users who are now commenting on most of his posts.

A reverse-image search of one of the fake posts will lead to Google giving a "best guess for the image" as Gayathri Arun.

Clicking on the suggested name will lead you to a TOI article titled "Parasparam: The end of a saga" that has used the same image seen in the fake posts. The story talks about how the popular Malayalam TV soap has finally come to an end.

To find the original video from the show, if you start typing 'Parasparam', Google will suggest 'Parasparam last episode' and on searching with these keywords, you will get a YouTube video, again with the same image from the fake posts.

Full report at:




Hyderabad twin bomb blasts: 2 of 5 accused convicted, sentencing on Monday

September 4, 2018

Eleven years after 42 people were killed in twin blasts that rocked Hyderabad, a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court convicted two and acquitted two others in the case on Tuesday. The quantum of punishment will be announced on Monday. The two convicted are Aneeq Shafeeq Sayeed and Ismail Chaudhary.

Two blasts had occurred at Gokul Chat eatery in Koti and the laser show auditorium at Lumbini Park around 7.45 pm on August 25, 2007. While 32 people were killed at Gokul Chat, 10 lost their lives at Lumbini Park. More than 50 were injured. An unexploded bomb was also recovered from Dilsukhnagar that night.

Earlier, the judgment was to be delivered on August 27, however, Second Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge T Srinivas Rao postponed it to September 4. Those arrested included Mohammed Akbar Ismail Chowdhari, Aneeq Shafique Sayeed, Farooq Sharfuddin Tarkash, Mohammed Sadiq Israr Ahmed Shaik and Tarik Anjum — were produced before the court on August 27 through video conferencing from Cherlapalli Central Prison

The accused, who are alleged to be associated with the Indian Mujahideen, were arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad in October 2008. They were charged under section 302 (murder) and other relevant provisions of the IPC and sections of Explosive Substances Act in the twin blasts.

The Counter Intelligence (CI) wing of Telangana Police filed three chargesheets against Mohammed Sadiq, Ansar Ahmed Badshah Shaik, Akber Ismail and Anique Shafeeq Syed and others — some of whom are still absconding. According to the prosecution, Aneeq Shafique Sayeed allegedly planted the bomb at Lumbini Park while Riyaz Bhatkal planted the bomb at Gokul Chat while the unexploded bomb was planted by Ismail Chowdhari.

Full report at:






‘Friend’ Imran Khan sends ‘peace message’ to Sidhu

September 4, 2018

Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, almost two weeks after his visit to Pakistan, has revealed on Sunday that he recently received a message from Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Sidhu said that Imran Khan has sent him a message expressing his desire for peace between India and Pakistan.

“Kargil war happened after former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee returned from Pakistan. Pathankot attack happened after PM Narendra Modi returned from Pakistan, but when Sidhu returned from Pakistan and some nok-jhonk (bickering) took place, the message from my friend came that ‘we want peace… You take one step and we will take two’,” Sidhu said, referring to Imran.

Responding to a question at an event organised by Youth Congress in Ajmer city of Rajasthan, Sidhu said sportsmen and artists break barrier and bring people closer.

He said dialogue is the only way to improve ties with Pakistan.

“Hope is the biggest top (cannon), which conquers the impossible. My hope has strengthened after my friend became the prime minister of Pakistan after a struggle of years… I can say with full confidence that relations between both the nations would be enhanced,” he said.

Sidhu attended the oath-taking ceremony of the PM in Islamabad on August 18.

During the visit, Sidhu sparked controversy after he was photographed hugging Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa. The hug triggered a torrent of criticism from the Bharatiya Janata Party.




Rules may be amended to pave way for PM’s Hour in National Assembly

Syed Irfan Raza

September 04, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan and National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser on Monday discussed amending rules in order to ensure the former could respond to questions on different government matters in the house every fortnight.

The speaker during the meeting also apprised the prime minister about the expenses incurred by the NA.

The meeting discussed how the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly-2007 could be amended so that the prime minister could reply to the queries of the opposition in the house during what is called ‘Prime Minister’s Hour’.

In 2012, the rules of the Senate were amended under which one hour was allocated for the prime minister to give reply to the questions.

Rule 61 of the Senate says: “The prime minister shall whenever possible personally respond to points raised by members whenever he is present in the house. However, the prime minister shall attend the Prime Minister’s Zero Hour at least once in each week when the Senate is in session.”

Talking to Dawn, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said although the prime minister could speak on the floor of the NA any time, necessary amendment to rules was required to allocate Prime Minister’s Hour once in a fortnight.

Besides, the prime minister at another meeting reiterated his commitment to build five million housing units at affordable prices without removing Kutchi Abadis in urban areas.

“Construction of low-cost and affordable five million houses is the foremost priority of the government which would not only address housing issues of the people especially in the major cities but would also promote economic growth and create job opportunities,” the prime minister said while presiding over a meeting.

“Simultaneously, we have to devise a comprehensive mechanism for regulating Kutchi Abadis and slums without dislocating poor people and ensuring provision of all civic amenities to the people in those areas,” he added.

Yaqoob Izhar, Najeeb Haroon, Arshad Dad, Housing and Works Secretary Dr Imran Zeb Khan, Law Secretary retired Justice Abdul Shakoor Paracha and other senior officers attended the meeting.

During the meeting the prime minister, after a detailed discussion on various international models and road-map for addressing the issue of housing, formed a committee under housing and works secretary to devise a comprehensive and coherent plan of action, in consultation with relevant experts and representatives of concerned departments, taking into account all aspects including the legal framework, availability of the land bank and raising of required resources for smooth implementation of the project.

The committee would submit its initial recommendations to the prime minister within one week.

Mr Khan emphasised that the private sector should be encouraged and maximum facilitation be extended to those who would be partnering with the government in the implementation of ‘5 Million Housing Programme’.

Curbing Hawala / Hundi

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Khan formed a committee headed by Attorney General Anwar Mansoor to make necessary laws to curb smuggling and illegal channels of money transfer from and to Pakistan called Hawala and Hundi.

The committee will submit its report within a week.

Full report at:




Rabbani urges PM not to meet Pompeo

Ikram Junaidi

September 04, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Raza Rabbani has suggested that Prime Minister Imran Khan should not meet US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo during his visit to Pakistan and only the foreign minister should hold talks with the US leader.

Talking to Dawn on Monday, he said that protocol demanded that the prime minister should not meet Mr Pompeo as whenever a Pakistani prime minister visited the US, he was not received by the US president.

“Moreover this is not for the first time that the US has cut the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) of $300 million as it had also previously stopped payment of $500 million to Pakistan,” he said.

He regretted that despite a number of sacrifices rendered by Pakistan for peace in the region, the US was constantly asking to do more. Not only the US has advised the International Monitory Fund (IMF) not to give loan to Pakistan, but it also ended military training programme, he said.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi recently explained that the US had not blocked any aid to Pakistan, but it had only stopped reimbursement of $300 million to the country.

Full report at:




Qureshi, Rabbani renew trust in Pak-Afghan dialogue mechanism

Baqir Sajjad Syed

September 04, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Afghanis­tan on Monday renewed their confidence in Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) as the most comprehensive mechanism for bilateral dialogue on issues of concern to the two countries.

This was agreed during a telephonic conversation between Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani. The Afghan foreign minister had called Mr Qureshi to greet him on his appointment as foreign minister.

Mr Qureshi too had in one of his earlier pressers expressed his desire to speak to his Afghan counterpart and visit Kabul.

“Both sides appreciated recent improvement in relations since the launch of the APAPPS process in May 2018. It was noted that the framework provided the most comprehensive institutional mechanism to discuss all mutual issues,” a statement on the conversation issued by the Foreign Office read.

Marked improvement in relations was observed since the two sides agreed to operationalise APAPPS — the new bilateral ties framework. However, the Afghan side began questioning its efficacy after the recent upsurge in violence, particularly after the Ghazni attack.

Kabul had alleged that the Ghazni attack had been carried out by militants backed by Islamabad.

President Ghani went public with his frustration when he said: “Gen Bajwa, you signed a document with us and told me repeatedly in our conversations over the phone that when elections (in Pakistan) are over you will pay attention to it. I need answers now….From where they came and why are they receiving treatment in your hospitals.”

It now looks Afghanistan is again ready to engage with Pakistan under APAPPS.

“The two leaders agreed that the next round of APAPPS would soon be held in Islamabad,” the FO said.

The two foreign ministers also welcomed the holding of joint Pak-Afghan Ulema Conference in Islamabad, the dates for which are being finalised.

During the conversation, Mr Qureshi also touched upon the partial suspension of working of Pakistan’s consulate in Jalalabad over interference by the provincial governor and removal of security barriers around the mission’s premises.

“Mr Qureshi requested the Afghan government for restoring the previous security arrangements existing till 28th August, 2018, so that the Consulate General’s normal functioning could be resumed at the earliest,” the FO said.

Foreign Minister Rab­bani, the statement said, reassured a positive outcome soon in this regard and recalled his meeting with the ambassador of Pakistan in Kabul yesterday.

Full report at:




Hizb chief says Indian agencies are victimising his family

September 04, 2018

MUZAFFARABAD: A top Kashmiri militant leader has said that Indian agencies are constantly victimising his family members in India-held Kashmir to force him abandon his pro-freedom activities but added that they will not succeed.

Issued on Monday, the statement of Syed Salahuddin, supreme leader of Hizbul Mujahideen, Kashmir’s largest and mainly indigenous militant outfit, came in the wake of arrest of his son Syed Shakil Ahmad by India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) during a night raid at his residence in Rambagh area of Srinagar, last Thursday in a funding case.

Ahmad, who works as a lab technician in a health facility in Srinagar, was shifted to India’s infamous Tihar jail in New Delhi.

Full report at:




Three terrorists killed during search operation in Karachi


KARACHI: Police and law enforcement agencies conducted a joint operation in metropolis’ Ittehad Town where three terrorists belonging to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were killed on Tuesday morning during a police encounter.

According to the Police sources, two of the three terrorists killed were suicide bombers.

Explosives, suicide jackets, ball bearings, and weapons were recovered from the possession of the terrorists, the sources added.

The sources claimed that the terrorists had planned to carry out an attack in Karachi on the same level as the deadliest attack in Mastung.

The process to identify the terrorists as part of the further investigation are underway, the sources reported.

Full report at:




Polling begins in five legislatures to elect 13th president of Pakistan

Fahad Chaudhry | Hafeezullah Sherani

September 04, 2018

Polling has commenced at the Parliament House in the capital, and the provincial assemblies in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta for the election of the country's new president via a secret ballot.

In the running for the post are Dr Arif Alvi of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI); PML-N backed chief of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), Fazlur Rehman; and senior PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan.

A joint sitting of the Senate and the newly elected national and provincial assemblies — together known as the electoral college of Pakistan — has been called to elect the country's 13th president.

The voting, which is being held simultaneously at the Parliament House and the four provincial assemblies, started around 10am and will end at 4pm. The NA and Senate members are voting inside the National Assembly hall, whereas the MPAs are doing the same in their respective provincial assemblies.

The Election Commission of Pakistan has barred the members from carrying mobile phones with them at the time of voting.

Personnel of Rangers and FC have been deployed around the Parliament House and the buildings of the provincial assemblies, which have been declared as polling stations.

With the Constitution requiring the presidential election to be held at least a month prior to the outgoing president's final day in the office, the exercise taking place today should have been held by August 9, as incumbent President Mamnoon Hussain's term will expire on September 9.

However, since the electoral college was not complete by the Constitutionally set deadline, the presidential election was subjected to delay.

The exercise today will mark the end of a lengthy poll season that began with the July 25 general elections and was followed by various speaker, deputy speaker, prime and chief ministerial ballots.

Tussle over opposition candidate

After the Election Commission of Pakistan set September 4 as the day of the 2018 presidential elections, four candidates were nominated and had subsequently filed their papers.

While the PTI and its allies have seen their candidates stave off any upsets in all the post-general election polls this summer, its presidential candidate, the PM-nominated Dr Arif Alvi, could have had a tougher task since the PTI does not have a majority in the Senate, whose members are also going to vote today.

Moreover, the presidential election is held via a secret ballot, which keeps the door open for horse-trading.

However, Dr Alvi's presidency bid was given a huge boost due to disagreements within the opposition camp.

Explore: Alvi, Rehman, or Aitzaz — who will be the next president of Pakistan?

The PPP claims it's "suggestion" to nominate Aitzaz Ahsan as the opposition's candidate was misconstrued as a finalised nomination, which did not sit well with the PML-N as Ahsan had been a front line critic of the its leadership in the past.

The episode reopened old wounds, and despite efforts to reconcile, a middle ground was not to be reached. PPP o-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari did not budge and stuck with his nomination of Ahsan. Meanwhile, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who had been given the task to mediate between the two parties, ended up garnering the joint opposition's support for himself; he was nominated by PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif.

A fourth candidate, PML-N's Ameer Muqam had also filed his nominated papers but withdrew from the race at the eleventh hour, possibly in Rehman's favour.

How is the president of Pakistan elected?

As mentioned above, the electoral college of Pakistan comprises six leading elected bodies of Pakistan: the Senate, the National Assembly and the four provincial assemblies.

Of the sextet, the Senate and the NA's members are given one votes each. However, the four provincial assemblies are assigned an equal weight with the smallest of them all — the Balochistan Assembly — serving as the base.

The Balochistan Assembly has 65 members while the strength of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly is almost double this number, i.e. 124; so the vote of a member of the KP assembly has half the value of the vote of a member of the Balochistan Assembly.

Full report at:




Southeast Asia


Mahathir to hand over Malaysia PM’s post in 2 years

September 03, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Muhamad said that he will honor the understanding among Pakatan Harapan (PH) partners that he will hold the role as an interim prime minister for two years before stepping down.

This will allow the handover of the prime minister’s post to former political prisoner Anwar Ibrahim.

Malaysia’s Bernama news portal reported that the 93-year-old leader told an audience of Malaysians in Brunei that he will honor the PH secession agreement following concern about a repeat of history on the choice of successor.

“I am confident that he (Anwar Ibrahim) is now more mature and much experienced,” Mahathir said. Analyst Prof. James Chin is not surprised by Mahathir’s remark. He told Arab News that most people around the world expect Ibrahim to take over the reins.

“If it goes ahead, it will be good as it shows you can have peaceful transition,” added Prof. James.

Malaysia demonstrated a peaceful transition during the 14th general elections in May where the new PH government was formed without bloodshed or violent riots.

Dr. Greg Lopez, political analyst at Australia’s Murdoch University, said that this is unique in Malaysian coalition politics because Mahathir is from a different political party than Anwar Ibrahim.

“In a region filled with chaotic and violent politics such as in Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia, Malaysia would demonstrate a very peaceful transition,” he said.

The PH coalition consists of the Malaysian United Indigenous Party (Bersatu), Democratic Action Party (DAP), National Trust Party (Amanah) and People’s Justice Party (PKR). Mahathir is the president of Bersatu while Anwar is the newly elected PKR president.

Despite being called a chameleon politician by many, Mahathir denied accusations that he is an “Ultra Malay,” saying that it was no different from other labels hurled against him describing his authoritarian leadership.

“Mahathir’s has set Malaysia on the path to democratization and despite all suspicion from international media, he sticks to it.”

In a region stirred by the resurgence or the continuity of authoritarian practices, the once called dictator is now setting an unexpected example,” said Dr. Sophie Lemiere, a fellow at NUS- Stanford University.

“For me the country comes first, so that there no wide gap between the races. Even if a country is not multiracial, if there is wide disparities among the people, it will invite disaster,” he said, adding that his and PH’s mission is to prevent inequality gap and address racial issues.

Mahathir said that after stepping down, he hopes “to see Malaysia as a pride of all people as in the past and return Malaysia to its glory when the country was called an Asian Tiger and wanted the government to be more democratic and not kleptocratic.”

He also wished to see the upholding of the rule of law to protect the people and Malaysia as a developed nation as envisaged under Vision 2020, though the target date may need to extend further. Vision 2020 was introduced in 1991 by Mahathir Muhamad during his first premiership.

However, Anwar may have some unresolved baggage regarding his alleged sodomy charges and his Islamic credentials.

Prof James said that there is a section of the Malaysian public who feels Anwar is not eligible due to the sodomy allegations. “If Anwar does become prime minister, it’s a remarkable comeback considering he was imprisoned just a year ago,” he said.

“If not for Najib Razak and his wife’s personal failures (1MDB corruption allegations), I do not see much difference between Najib Razak, Mahathir Muhamad and Anwar Ibrahim. All subscribe to the same model of politics — Malay and Islamic supremacy and patronage politics,” said Dr. Lopez.




Rights group: Public Shariah caning tarnishes view of Islam

04 September 2018

PETALING JAYA, Sept 4 — The public caning imposed on two alleged lesbians by the Terengganu Syariah Court will negatively colour public perception of Islam, said the Lawyers for Liberty rights group today.

LFL executive director Latheefa Koya said homosexuality was not a crime in Islamic penal law and was at most an offence under tazir that encompasses minor offences not covered under hudud or qisas.

“Islam emphasises heavily on the concept of mercy and the protection of the privacy and dignity of individuals.

“Ironically, this thirst for punishment is affecting Islam more negatively than any sinful act can,” she said in a statement today.

She also criticised the Terengganu Syariah Court for claiming the caning did not “hurt” the women or that the privacy of the offenders had been “protected” as they were allowed to use private doorways to enter and exit the court premises.

“It is an utterly ridiculous statement when you take into account that the punishment was carried out in the presence of 100 people which included curious bystanders and the mental anguish that these women must have suffered through this ordeal,” she said.

Latheefa also questioned the legality of the corporal punishment as caning could only be administered to prisoners under the Prison Act 1955 and Prison Regulations 2000.

She echoed suggestion that the Shariah court in Terengganu exceeded its authority by imposing the physical punishment on two citizens who were not prisoners at the time when the law restricts such sentences to those currently incarcerated.

Yesterday, two women found guilty for attempting to have lesbian sex were caned six times in public at the Terengganu Syariah Court as around 100 people watched the punishment.

Full report at:




Rising Islamic Tide Threatens Indonesia’s Jokowi

September 4, 2018

Supporters of former Special Forces General Prabowo Subianto, who is attempting for the second time to deny Joko Widodo Indonesia’s presidency, are turning to the same Islamist movement that drove Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama from office in 2017 despite his record for efficiency, and put him in jail on blasphemy charges.

The latest survey released by the Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI) in mid-August shows that Jokowi, who has paired with a cleric Ma’ruf Amin, is backed by 52.2 percent of respondents, while Prabowo, with his partner, a wealthy businessman Sandiaga Uno, is favored by a considerably smaller 29.5 percent of respondents, in general elections scheduled for April 2019.

Nonetheless, there are deep concerns that growing Islamist sentiment could actually end up delivering the presidency to Prabowo, who has aligned himself with the conservatives despite the fact that he has personally shown little indication of piety. In regional gubernatorial elections recently, while moderates won key races in Java and other areas, radical groups such as the Islamic Defender’s Front (FPI) gained ground.

For years, the country’s secular, official Pancasila philosophy has been under attack, partly on the strength of a tide of money from Saudi Arabia, which has sent Wahabist clerics to prosetylize Muslim nations across the world. A strict Halal Law, the harshest in the world, passed in 2014, will go into effect in 2019 amid demands that all food products, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, clothing and even car seats be certified Halal.  Women are increasingly intimidated into conservative dress and supposedly apostate sects have been violently attacked.

Hundreds of people have attended meetings put together by the 212 movement, named for the December 12, 2016 rally that started the campaign to bring down Ahok and branded him a blasphemer against the Quran on dubious evidence. Originally limited to social media, the hashtag #2019 GantiPresident (2019ChangePresident), created by the Islamist Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and its leader, Mardani Ali Sera, is increasingly popular.

In the midst of the presidential change movement, which is gaining speed, Jokowi’s supporters have accused the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), a radical Islamist organization that wants to change the Constitution to use Islamic law to achieve its interests, of appropriating the hashtag. “Declaration #2019GantiPresiden is ridden by the HTI Group,” said Maman Imanulhaq, a top official with Jokowi’s campaign. “HTI is clearly a community organization that has been banned.”

Imanulhaq also warned that the slogan “replace the president” was used by Islamist opposition groups in Syria in 2011 to overthrow the secular government under Bashar Al-Assad and cause chaos in the country. Jokowi dissolved HTI in July 2017 by issuing a presidential regulation in lieu of legislation, known as a Perppu, which gave the government greater authority to dissolve community organizations that were considered to threaten Pancasila, Indonesia’s ideology, and national unity.

The accusation against HTI came after photos of the banner of the movement spread on social media, featuring HTI’s flag logo, the PKS logo, and writing to change the state system into a Caliphate. In addition, in an interview with Tempo magazine, HTI spokesman Ismail Yusanto stated that HTI supports the presidential change movement because it is in line with their aspirations.

“#2019GantiPresiden is a popular movement that is already critical of wrongdoing, lying and breaking promises,” Yusanto said as quoted by Tempo.co.

But Mardani Ali Sera, who is also a member of the House of Representatives, denied the accusation that HTI is part of the presidential change movement because the Islamic organization has been dissolved. Instead, he pointed out the intelligence operations behind the spread of the banner to weaken the movement.

Mardani argued that #2019GantiPresiden is a social movement and part of the community’s right to gather, unite and express opinions. “Indeed, this movement has contributed to the realization of active citizen participation in the political process,” he said.

Despite the growing hullabaloo, the Election Supervisory Body (Bawaslu) ruled that the #2019GantiPresiden isn’t a campaign and doesn’t violate general election laws.

Provocative Oration

Whatever the election body says, “Presidential change” declarations in cities such as Surabaya, Riau and Batam have ended in chaos because of clashes between supporters and opponents of the movement. In one case, opponents blocked an airport against one of the main figures behind the movement, Neno Warisman.

Among the government opponents is Warisman, a former actress turned preacher, who critics say is skilled at arousing hatred among community groups. In a passionate speech in Medan on July 22, for example, Warisman used Quranic verses to arouse the audience against the government, which she called a “zalim regime” (despotic regime).

“There is no power on the face of the earth, there is no tyranny on the face of the earth, there is no regime in power on the face of the earth that is eternal, because that power belongs only to Allah,” said Warisman, who was greeted by the cry of “takbir” (the Arabic phrase Allāhu akbar) by attendees.

Warisman also voiced issues – without foundation — often used by opposition groups to attack Jokowi, including: rising prices of prices of basic necessities, accusations that the government has overborrowed to build infrastructure, and paranoia against Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual, Transgenders (LGBT).

“Ladies, do you want your son to marry a man? Gentlemen, are you willing your son to marry a man? If you are not willing, then 2019 replace the president!” she said. She likened the election to the Badr War, which occurred at the time of the Prophet Muhammad, between truth and falsehood. Muhammad, she said,  prayed to God to win because he was afraid there would be no more people to worshiped God if he lost.

“This (election) is our Badr war, we will continue to guard with our prayers, agree?” Warisman shouted, waving a clenched fist, which was greeted by shouts of “takbir” by her supporters.

Threat of Nation’s Split

Although some academics and experts agree that the movement does not violate the rules, they say it has the potential to foment clashes between supporters of the two presidential candidates.

“There are no laws that are violated, but clearly (the movement) is spreading hatred towards the president who was in office before the official presidential election campaign time. So if there is an equally hateful reaction from the incumbent president’s supporters, that is logical,” said the former Chairman of the Constitutional Court, Jimly Asshiddiqie.

Political psychology expert from the University of Indonesia (UI) Hamdi Moeloek said the presidential change movement has generated provocative narratives and incitement. “This will be a potential horizontal conflict between two supporters,” said Moeloek. He criticized the supporters of the movement who are using democracy and free speech as a justification, even though the potential for conflict at the grassroots was very large. “We are democratic but without ethics and empathy. We keep talking about freedom of expression, but we close our eyes, that there is potential for clashes at the grassroots,” he said.

Full report at:




Densus 88 Kills Two Terror Suspects Allegedly Involved in Attack on Traffic Police

September 03, 2018

Jakarta. Densus 88, the National Police's elite counterterrorism unit, has shot and killed two men believed to be responsible for an attack on two traffic police officers on the Cikampek-Palimanan Toll Road in Cirebon, West Java, last month.

A police source with knowledge of the matter, who requested anonymity, said officers arrested two other men also believed to have been involved in the attack.

Second Insp. Dodon and First Insp. Adj. Widi were shot while on patrol on Aug. 24.

Dodon later died in hospital, while Widi is currently still in critical condition.

The four men who allegedly carried out attack are believed to be members of the Cirebon chapter of Islamic State-affiliated terror group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD).

The source said the two suspects were shot after resisting arrest during a raid on a house in Kalisalak village in Margasari subdistrict, Tegal, Central Java, at 09.30 a.m.

The South Jakarta District Court declared JAD a forbidden organization in July, over its involvement in high-profile terrorist attacks in Indonesia, including a series of suicide bombings in Surabaya, East Java, that killed more than 30 people.

Full report at:




Two killed, 14 injured in latest explosion by Daesh-linked militants in southern Philippines

September 03, 2018

MANILA: An explosion rocked the municipality of Isulan, Sultan Kudarat province in the southern Philippines on Sunday night, leaving two people dead and 14 others wounded.

This is the second bomb attack to hit the town in the span of one week, with the military pointing to the Daesh-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) Turaife group, led by Esmael Abdulmalik, alias “Abu Toraife,” as perpetrators of the attack.

Information released by authorities showed that the blast occurred about 7:30 p.m. local time in an internet cafe adjacent to the Novo Department Store in Kalawag 2 village, Isulan town.

Immediately after the explosion, authorities cordoned off the town and launched an operation in the area to apprehend the perpetrators, but to no avail.

Earlier, on Aug. 28, three people were killed and another 30 injured when a bomb blast occurred in the middle of festivities marking the towns’s 61st founding anniversary.

Brig. Gen. Cirilito E. Sobejana, Commander of Army 6th Infantry Division (6ID), said that the site of the second incident was only about 400 to 500 meters away from where the Aug. 28 explosion took place.

Sobejana identified the BIFF, a Daesh-inspired group, as responsible for both incidents. The military particularly pointed to the group of Abu Turaife, who heads a breakaway BIFF faction.

Capt. Arvin Encinas, 6ID spokesperson, told Arab News that prior to the latest incident there were already intelligence reports that the BIFF would carry out a series of attacks to retaliate for their losses in recent military operations.

Among the areas being targeted by the militant group, he said, were the towns of Isulan, Tacurong and Esperanza, which are the three urbanized areas near the BIFF stronghold in Maguindanao.

Sobejana, on the other hand, claimed they were already monitoring five improvised explosive devices (IED) that were transported to South Cotabato before the blast on Sunday. The bombs were allegedly intended to be launched in the city of Tacurong and the municipalities of Isulan and Esperanza.

When asked how the group still managed to stage the attack despite strict security measures being imposed in line with the implementation of martial law on Mindanao island and with intelligence information already gathered by government forces, Encinas said that “it happens even in highly developed and most advanced countries.”

“There are instances wherein (criminal elements) manage to slip through the security cordon that has been laid down. And this unfortunate incident shows we still need the cooperation of the civilian sector,” he said.

Pressed further as to whether the explosions in Sultan Kudarat and the bomb that exploded at a security check point at Lamitan in Basilan province which killed 11 people including a detachment commander from the Army Special Forces last July 31 are signs of an increasing footprint of the Daesh in southern Philippines, Encinas said “no.”

The 6ID spokesperson emphasized that the BIFF, one of the extremist groups in the country that have pledged allegiance to Daesh, continue to suffer losses.

“The (bombing) incident yesterday is in retaliation by the group of Abu Toraife for their losses in recent military offensives. Like one week ago we had surgical operations that resulted in the death of seven BIFF members,” he said.

“They’re not gaining strength. Daesh is not growing in Mindanao,” Encinas said, but admitted that militant groups in the area are using their expertise with IEDs to sow terror.

Malacañang said that President Rodrigo Duterte, who is in Israel for an official visit, had been informed of the latest bombing in Sultan Kudarat.

Duterte’s spokesperson, Harry Roque, said that Duterte has ordered tighter security in the area.

Full report at:




Arab World


Local Official: Turkey, Terrorists Not Popular in Idlib

Sep 03, 2018

"Idlib is a Syrian province and the government cannot leave it with the terrorist groups. Today, the province's citizens clearly demand the Syrian army's deployment. The government is paving the ground for schools to start," Head of the executive department of Idlib's governor-general office Ali al-Jassim told the Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper on Monday.

He added that the occupying Turkish army and affiliated militants are not popular in Idlib.

Al-Jassim said that most people in Idlib do not accept the current situation, and expressed the hope that they would start uprising against the terrorists upon the Syrian army's arrival. 

Relevant reports said on Sunday that terrorist groups, directed by Ankara forces, plan to launch a heavy offensive on the Syrian Army in Aleppo province as government troops are preparing to kick off their long-awaited assault on terrorists in Idlib, a media outlet reported.

The Kurdish-language Hawar news reported that the Ankara-backed terrorists are reinvigorating their combat capabilities via fortifying positions and concentrating militants in Aleppo to kick off a surprise attack against the army.

It further said that the terrorists' upcoming attack has been directed by the Turkish army command, adding that the terrorists are to start the offensive by suicide attacks and artillery fire on Aleppo city.

The report comes as the Syrian Army is preparing for a major operation in Southern and Western Aleppo to open the Lattakia-Aleppo road as a prelude to the major offensive on terrorists in Idlib.




8 civilians killed in Iraq in suspected IS attacks

September 04, 2018

SAMARRA - Suspected Islamic State group militants have killed eight people and wounded four others in two attacks in northern Iraq, security officials said Monday.

The extremist group has stepped up its attacks since the release of a purported new audio message late last month from IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. On Monday “seven civilians were killed when militants fired on houses in the village of Albu Shaher”, 25 kilometres (15 miles) west of Kirkuk, a multi-ethnic city north of Baghdad, a security services official told AFP.

A police officer was wounded in that attack, which also saw militants raid a currency exchange office and steal $20,000 (17,225 euros) before fleeing, he added. Late on Sunday, a man was shot dead and three others were wounded outside a mosque north of Baghdad. The attack took place in the village of Khanouka near Ash-Sharqat, one of the last areas retaken by government forces from IS last year, 100 kilometres north of the capital, a police officer said.

“The man, aged 80, had just finished praying (and was leaving the mosque) when the militants opened fire at him,” the officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either of the attacks.

According to the police officer, IS holdouts are still present in the hills of Khanouka and other mountainous and desert regions of Iraq.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared “victory” in December in the fight against IS, which seized nearly a third of the country in 2014.

But sleeper cells continue to launch attacks from sparsely populated areas.

According to Hisham al-Hashemi, an expert on radical Islamist groups, about 2,000 IS militants are still active in Iraq.

Full report at:




Syrian Media Reveals Turkey's Concession to Anti-Terrorism Operations in Idlib

Sep 03, 2018

The Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper quoted special sources privy to the Russian-Turkish negotiations as saying on Monday that talks have progressed a lot and Turkey has agreed with efforts to gradually return Idlib to the Syrian government either through political efforts or military operations.

They added that the results of such talks which have not yet ended will be raised in the Friday meeting among the Iranian, Russian and Turkish presidents in Tehran, noting that the date of the Idlib attack will be decided in the Tehran summit.

According to the Syrian newspaper, the army's military operations will likely kick off immediately after the Tehran summit.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem stated on Sunday that the recent US threats to strike Syria would not stop the Damascus government from Idlib operation.

"Anything that is actively promoted by the US will not affect the determination of the Syrian people and Syrian army’s plans to clear Idlib and finally put an end to terrorism in Syria," Muallem said in an interview.

According to him, the US accusations about alleged plans regarding chemical attacks have become questionable in the eyes of public opinion and are just an excuse for a possible attack on Syria.

Full report at:




ISIL Resumes Activities in Eastern Syria after US Intensifies Aid to Allied Militia

Sep 03, 2018

The Arabic-language al-Watan daily reported that the US-led coalition has increased its military aid to the SDF which is sending food stuff convoys to ISIL-held regions.

It further said that the SDF dispatched several trucks, carrying food stuff, from the small town of Abu Homam to the regions that are still under ISIL's control, including al-Sha'afa and al-Souseh in Eastern Deir Ezzur.

Al-Watan said that the ISIL has been reinvigorated after arrival of the SDF's aid cargoes.

The daily said that the coalition has provided the SDF with several aid and military convoys in Eastern Syria in the recent weeks.

In the meantime, military sources reported that the Syrian Army engaged in fierce clashes with ISIL on the Western bank of the Euphrates River in a region between the town of al-Mayadeen and al-Dowayer desert, in al-Tayem oilfield and also South of Deir Ezzur military airport.

The army managed to repel the attacks after inflicting major losses on the ISIL. 

The Arabic-language al-Watan daily reported in mid-August that the SDF dispatched a sum of 13 trucks to the regions that are still under the ISIL terrorists' control in Southeastern Deir Ezzur.

Full report at:




People in Northern Syria Call for Expulsion of Turkish Army, Allied Militants

Sep 03, 2018

Syria's state news agency, SANA, quoted residents of the village of Homam West of the town of Afrin as saying that the Ankara forces destroyed hundreds of hectares of their farms and cut thousands of olive trees by their bulldozers under the pretext of building a new road.

It further said that the Ankara forces' measures are aimed at forcing people in Northern Syria to obey them, but people have opposed occupiers' brutalities and have called for expulsion of the Turkish soldiers and allied militants from the region. 

Field sources in Afrin reported that a bomb was detonated near the Nowrouz square in Rajou road in Central Afrin on Wednesday afternoon, killing and wounding over 35 militants and a number of civilians.

Kurdish sources said that 3 Turkish soldiers and one of Faylaq al-Sham terrorist commanders were among those killed in the attack, adding that the Turkish army and militants have called for help from Azaz hospital.

Meantime, heavy clashes between Sultan Mohammad al-Fattah militants and other terrorists affiliated to the Turkish army near Kava al-Hadad square in Central Afrin killed fighters from both sides.

Also, reports said that Ferqat al-Hamzeh and Faylaq al-Sham terrorists detained over 21 civilians in the town of Ein Dareh and the village of Borj Haidar in Southern Afrin.

Full report at:




Turkish Army Sends More Troops to Borders with Syria Ahead of Idlib Battle

Sep 03, 2018

Anadolu news agency reported that the Turkish army has dispatched a long convoy of advanced tanks and a large number of military trucks to Hatay region at border with Syria.

In the meantime, media activists reported that a convoy of Turkish army, including 12 vehicles, moved towards Yalada'a region near al-Yamziyeh passageway at the border with Syria.

Another military convoy with thirty trucks, carrying tanks, has moved toward Bab al-Hawa region, the sources added.

Also, the Syrian army has gathered a large number of ready-to-fight forces and a large volume of military hardware in Northwestern Syria to kick off a major operation against terrorists in Idlib, Aleppo, Hama and Lattakia provinces.

Kurdish-language Hawar News quoted field sources in Aleppo province as reporting on Saturday that the Turkish army dispatched a sum of 500 Ankara-backed militants to the Bab al-Hawa border-crossing between the town of Reihanly in Hatay province and al-Artab region in Aleppo.

It further said that a fresh wave of tensions and defections covered the terrorist front over participation in the upcoming final battle with the Syrian army as a part of the Ankara-backed militants intend to surrender and some others are fleeing the region.

Full report at:




Second French Army Convoy Arrives in Manbij in Northeastern Syria

Sep 03, 2018

The Lebanese al-Manar TV Channel reported that a French military convoy arrived at a base run by the US-led coalition in the village of al-Sa'eidiyeh East of the town of Manbij.

It further said that a group of French troops were also dispatched to the coalition base in the Cultural Center in central Manbij.

The first group of the French militaries arrived n Manbij in April after Turkish troops threatened to launch military operation against Kurds in Manbij.

The Arabic-language al-Watan daily quoted opposition sources as reporting on Sunday that the US-led coalition reinvigorated its military presence on the Eastern bank of the Euphrates River in the second half of the current year via setting up 18 bases in the Northeastern and Eastern provinces of Syria.

The US-run bases are in Ein al-Arab (Kobani), Kharab Ashak, Manbij, Ein Issa, Raqqa and Tabaqa in Raqqa province, al-Shadadi, al-Houl, Tal Tamar, Tal Bidar and Romeilan in Hasaka province and al-Amr oilfield and al-Bahrah region in Deir Ezzur province, al-Watan went on to say, adding that some of the bases have runways for the take-off and landing of military aircraft.

Full report at:




Syrian Army Sends Heavy Military Hardware to Idlib

Sep 03, 2018

The army forwarded a large number of tanks and heavy arms to Southeast Ma'arat al-Nu'aman in Idlib province.

A large number of fresh army men have also deployed in provinces bordering Idlib.

The army's unprecedented dispatch of forces and equipment testifies that the long-awaited operation in Northwestern Syria is imminent.

The army's artillery and missile units have been pounding terrorists' positions in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib to weaken the militants' defense capabilities. 

The AMN reported on Sunday that recent satellite images, taken on August 17, showed heavy military equipment amassing at the Eastern part of Abu al-Dhohour military airbase, specifically meant for Idlib offensive.

Last month, hundreds of Russian Special Forces accompanied by military advisors arrived at the strategic airbase to take part in the assault.

On January 2018, the Syrian Army recaptured Abu al-Dhohour airbase which was under jihadists control for years.

The airbase will act as the main operation room for the expected Idlib offensive.

Full report at:




US call for Iran, Hezbollah withdrawal from Syria meaningless: Sheikh Qassem

Sep 4, 2018

Hezbollah says the US, whose pro-terror policies have faced defeat in Syria, is in no position to call for the withdrawal of Iranian advisors and allied Lebanese resistance fighters, who have emerged as “victors” of the war against terrorists in the Arab state.

Last week, Lebanon’s al-Akhbar daily reported that an American delegation, comprising security and intelligence officials, had visited Damascus in June and met President Bashar al-Assad’s special security advisor, Ali Mamlouk.

During the four-hour meeting, the report added, the delegation had set three conditions for the pullout of US military forces from Syria, including the withdrawal of Iranian advisors from southern Syria near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, data on “terrorist groups” and a role in the oil business in eastern Syria.

Speaking on Monday, Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem described those conditions as “meaningless,” stressing that it is the “victors” who are eligible to set out conditions, not the US which has been defeated in Syria.

He also hailed the achievements made by the Syrian army and its allies against US-backed Takfiri terrorists.

Hezbollah and the Syrian government are now in the stage of “successive victories for Syria and its axis. We have lifted this black cloud, victories will continue, and we will achieve more,” the Hezbollah official noted.

He further called on “all factions counting on America” to “reconsider” their ties with the “Great Satan” as it is not loyal to its friends.

“They are Saudi Arabia’s allies, and tomorrow Saudi Arabia will see that the first strike it will get will be from America,” Qassem said.

The Syrian army has managed to drive the terrorists out of most parts of the country and end Daesh’s territorial rule with help from Iran, Hezbollah and Russia.

It is now on the verge of fully liberating the southern parts near the occupied Golan, prompting serious concerns in Tel Aviv, which supports the terrorists operating there against Damascus.

Syria is now preparing for an operation to liberate Idlib Province, the last major militant stronghold.

At the request of Damascus, Iran has been offering advisory military assistance to the Syrian army. Tehran says it will continue its anti-terror mission as long as the legitimate government in Damascus wants it to do so.

Hezbollah forces have also been assisting the Syrian government on the ground to clear areas bordering Lebanon from terrorist groups.

In turn, Russia has also been providing air cover to Syrian army operations. It has also military advisers in the Arab country and runs a number of military bases there.

On the opposite front, the US – along with Israel and its other allies -- has been backing the militant groups fighting to topple the Assad government.

In an interview with the al-Alam News Network in June, Assad said the United States was an occupying power in Syria and that Damascus supported “any act of resistance, whether against terrorists or against occupying forces, regardless of their nationality.”

Washington has deployed around 2,000 troops to Syria.

US forces maintain significant presence in the country’s north, where they back Kurdish militants operating against the Syrian government.

Full report at:




Zarif, Assad say Western pressure will fail to stop Iran-Syria terror fight

Sep 3, 2018

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif say Western pressure on Tehran and Damascus will fail to deter them from fighting terrorism.

In a meeting in Damascus on Monday, Zarif and Assad asserted that Western countries would not be able to deter Iran and Syria from defending their principles, the interests of the two nations, and the security and stability of the entire region.

The two sides emphasized that Western policy of threat and pressure against Syria and Iran shows the West's failure to achieve its goals in the Middle East.

The Syrian president and Iranian foreign minister hailed the current level of relations between the two countries in various fields and agreed to further continue consultations and coordination, particularly in the light of the rapidly-shifting regional and international issues.

They also discussed the latest developments in Syria and other regional countries as well as a planned summit of Iranian, Russian and Turkish presidents in Tehran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will host his Turkish and Russian counterparts Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin, respectively, on September 7 in an attempt to find ways to end the ongoing crisis in Syria.

The three presidents have previously held summits in the Russian resort city of Sochi in November 2017 and in the Turkish capital, Ankara, in April.

Earlier in the day, the top Iranian diplomat held separate meetings with his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Muallem and Prime Minister Imad Khamis.

Zarif and Muallem discussed regional issues and the latest developments in Syria, including the return of the displaced people to their homeland.

The top Iranian and Syrian diplomats stressed the importance of strengthening economic cooperation and the participation of Iranian firms in the reconstruction of war-ravaged Syria as well as cooperation in international organizations, particularly the United Nations.

Iran's Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami on August 26 hailed the steadfastness of the Syrian people and government forces in their battle against terrorism, expressing confidence that they will achieve a final victory in this path.

"Not only regional people, but people around the world are indebted to the fight carried out against terrorists in Syria," Hatami said in a meeting with President Assad in Damascus.

Also in a meeting with Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi in Damascus in May, the Syrian president said the development of economic cooperation with Iran and all the countries that insist on defending their sovereignty and independence is one of the most important ways to confront Western plots.

Full report at:




North America


Do not ‘recklessly attack’ Idlib, Trump warns Syria, Russia

4 September 2018

US President Donald Trump on Monday warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies Iran and Russia not to “recklessly attack” Syria's rebel-held Idlib province, saying hundreds of thousands of people could be killed.

“The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy. Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed. Don’t let that happen!” Trump said in a Tweet Monday.

Earlier Monday, Iran called for militants to be “cleaned out” of Idlib, as it prepared for talks with Syria and Russia about confronting the last major enclave held by rebels opposed to Assad.

Syrian government forces are planning a phased offensive in Idlib and surrounding areas held by insurgents fighting Assad, who has been backed by both Russian and Iranian forces in the country’s civil war.




Kerry defends Iran deal, censures Trump for 'making things up'

Sep 3, 2018

Former secretary of state John Kerry has censured Donald Trump's claim that the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran was the "worst ever", saying the US president makes things up and does not often make decisions based on fact or advice.

"Unfortunately — and I say this sadly — more often than not, he really just doesn't know what he's talking about," said Kerry, who led the American team in nuclear negotiations with Iran.

"He makes things up. And he's making that up, as he has other things," the former top diplomat said in an interview with CBS's "Face the Nation" aired Sunday.

Kerry angered Trump in May after reports said he had secretly met with world leaders in a bid to salvage the Iran nuclear deal ahead of Trump’s withdrawal of the US from the agreement.

Trump slammed the ex-diplomat on Twitter, saying “John Kerry can’t get over the fact that he had his chance and blew it! Stay away from negotiations John, you are hurting your country!”

Commenting on the attack and whether he wanted “to say something at the time, tweet back at him," the former State Department head said, "I haven't yet."

"I think America and our democracy are more thoughtful than dishonest tweets," he added.

Kerry also denied Trump's claim that the Iran agreement is weak and harmful to the US, saying the allegation is false and disruptive to the possibilities of international nuclear policy.

"Just saying that doesn't make it that," he said of Trump's criticism of the accord. "This is the toughest agreement in terms of inspection, accountability — no country has had to do what Iran did in order to live up to this. But to just walk away?"

Kerry noted that China, France, Germany and Britain have all tried to protect the nuclear pact and even some of Trump’s administration officials supported it.

"Only the United States walked away. Only Donald Trump," he said. "His defense secretary thought he should keep it, his intelligence people thought he should keep it. The fact is this agreement is working."

Kerry added that his defense of the policy was not a hit at Trump, but was in the best interest of US involvement in a positive policy.

"I was trying to have the policy of the United States of America, which is part of the agreement, to continue, and common sense to continue," he said.

Trump announced the US withdrawal on May 8, pledging to reinstate the sanctions on Iran and impose "the highest level" of economic bans on the country, jeopardizing the survival of the landmark accord.

Full report at:




Pakistan, US to discuss “shared objective” with Pompeo

September 03, 2018

ISLAMABAD: As Islamabad prepares to receive US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and military chief General Joseph Dunford, defense and strategy experts on Monday urged Pakistan’s newly-elected government to find a middle ground on issues of regional peace and security.

The visit by the two top US officials is scheduled to begin on Wednesday.

Adding to the estranged bilateral ties, the Pentagon on Saturday said that it would scrap $300 million in aid "due to a lack of decisive actions” on Pakistan’s part to eliminate terrorists from the country.

The request, however, awaits congressional approval.

Pakistan claims the money -- around $900 million and part of the Coalition Support Fund – is a refund for expenses incurred during the war on terror and for its support of the US and Nato-led armed forces. 

“We want to improve our relationship with the US. Issues of bilateral interest [such as] regional peace, Afghanistan and the recent aid cut would be taken up for negotiations with Mr Pompeo,” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Sunday night.

The US has consistently engaged with Pakistan’s military officials at the highest level, based on a shared commitment to defeat terrorist groups and as part of its vision to attain peace in Afghanistan, Pentagon spokesman Lt Col Kon Faulkner said on Sunday.

“We continue to press Pakistan to indiscriminately target all terrorist groups, including the Haqqani Network and LeT, and we continue to call on Pakistan to arrest, expel or bring the Taliban leadership to the negotiating table,” he added.

Pakistan, on the other hand, claims that it has eliminated the safe havens of all militant outfits from its soil, especially in North and South Waziristan -- the country’s tribal districts bordering Afghanistan.

Political and security analysts said that diplomatic relations between Pakistan and the US remain strained since January, following the announcement of a South Asia strategy by US President Donald Trump. Trump had accused Pakistan of sheltering terrorists – a charge which Pakistan denies.

“Pakistan is willing to cooperate with the US for peace in Afghanistan, but the role of India in Kabul’s affairs remains a major concern for Islamabad,” Zaigham Khan, a security analyst, told Arab News.

Khan said that the US cannot win Pakistan’s trust until it agrees to limit India from interfering in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.

Full report at:






Spain cancels €9.2mn deal to sell Saudis 400 precision bombs

Sep 3, 2018

The Saudi-led coalition’s recent slaughter of Yemeni children has prompted the Spanish defense ministry to cancel a €9.2-million deal to sell Saudis 400 precision bombs.

The Spanish Ministry of Defense announced on Monday that it will return the 9.2 million euros already paid by Saudi Arabia to buy 400 Spanish-made precision bombs amid fears that they could be used to target the innocent people of Yemen, the El Mundo reported.

The arms deal had been negotiated and finalized by former Spanish defense ministers Pedro Morenés Eulate and Maria Dolores de Cospedal.

However, the recent deadly attack on a bus carrying Yemeni students, which killed 51 people including 40 children, prompted incumbent minister Margarita Robles to revise all arms deals with the Arab kingdom. The recent decision to freeze the bomb sale contract is said to be the first stage of the revision process.

The Amnesty International says Spain is the fourth country on the list of major arms exporters to the Riyadh regime. In one of the most recent contracts, the Spanish state-owned shipbuilder Navantia signed a €1.8-billion deal to sell five small warships to Saudi Arabia.

The deal was signed in April by Saudi Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman after his meeting with his then Spanish counterpart Cospedal in Madrid.

Riyadh main customer of Spanish arms

The Spanish defense ministry’s decision to halt the arms deal it had earlier signed with Riyadh would open the door to the possibility that Spain would join countries such as Sweden, Canada, Finland, Norway, Belgium or Germany, which have suspended their arms exports to the Saudi-led coalition.

According to media reports citing the Amnesty International, between 2015 and 2017, Spain reportedly exported 1.2 billion euros worth of military equipment to the coalition.

“There is extensive evidence that irresponsible arms flows to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition have resulted in enormous harm to Yemeni civilians. But this has not deterred the USA, the UK and other states, including France, Spain and Italy, from continuing transfers of billions of dollars’ worth of such arms. As well as devastating civilian lives, this makes a mockery of the global Arms Trade Treaty,” the Amnesty said.

Other reports said ever since Saudi Arabia launched the military operation in Yemen in 2015, its purchases of Spanish ammunition have nearly tripled, rising from €34.7 million in 2016 to €90.1 million in 2017.

The European Parliament has urged its member states to halt these sales on numerous occasions, admitting that the alliance led by Saudi Arabia violates international humanitarian law by using this weaponry in attacking the civilian population and bombing hospitals, markets and schools.

Saudi Arabia and its allies launched the war on Yemen in March 2015 to reinstall its former Riyadh-allied government. The military aggression has so far killed over 14,000 Yemenis and put millions on the verge of famine. It has also caused a deadly outbreak of cholera.

European countries like France and Britain have provided billions in weapons to the Saudi military amid international calls to halt their arms deals.




UK government says ‘concerned’ by civilian deaths in Yemen, keeps mum on Saudi arms deals

Sep 3, 2018

The UK government has voiced “serious concern” over the rising numbers of civilian casualties from Saudi Arabia’s years-long military aggression against Yemen, even as London refuses to end its extensive arms deals with Riyadh.

“The Government expresses serious concern at the tragic loss of life in Yemen over the last month. In the first two weeks of August alone, over 400 Yemenis lost their lives, including young children, and many more continue to face egregious violations of their basic human rights,” read a statement by Prime Minister Theresa May’s office on Sunday.

Since the beginning of the unprovoked war in March 2015, Riyadh had enjoyed the unconditional support of its Western allies as the Royal Saudi Air Force and its regional peers kept pounding what they claimed were positions of the Houthi Ansarullah Movement across Yemen.

However, the Saudi regime found itself in hot water last month when a surge in civilian casualties following a series of brutal attacks on undeniably civilian targets made it too costly for others to stay silent.

On August 2, at least 55 civilians were killed as Saudi-led aircraft targeted a hospital and a fishing harbor in the Yemeni port city of Hudayda. The so-called Saudi-led coalition has been trying to capture the besieged strategic city for several weeks now.

The attack that stood out and drew firm responses even from Riyadh’s closest allies took place on August 9, when Saudi pilots hit a school bus in the Sa’ada province, killing at least 40 children and 11 adults.

The United Nations blasted the attack as “abhorrent” while the US and the UK, the two main purveyors of weapons which also provide intelligence and training to Saudi military forces, rushed to distance themselves from it.

US Defense Secretary James Mattis even sent a representative to discuss the attack and threaten Riyadh with withdrawing support if such attacks continued.

The UK took a more cautious line with Saudis back then and only reacted in the form of tweets posted by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

In his posts, Hunt called for investigations into the attack but defended London-Riyadh ties.

The new statement from London used a tougher language and even included references to another attack on August 23, which killed 31 people, most of them women and children.

“We are also deeply concerned by the tragic incidents of 2 August, 9 August, and 23 August in which so many Yemenis were killed. We offer our sincerest condolences to the families of the victims,” read the statement from 10 Downing Street.

To tone down its criticism of Saudi allies, London welcomed alleged Saudi investigations into the attacks and blasted the Houthis for conducting retaliatory missile attacks against Saudi Arabia.

What the British government failed to address in its statement though were its continued sales of missiles, bombs and aircraft to Saudi Arabia, which have increased manifolds in the face of international criticism.

Faced with a pending exit from the European Union that will shutter most EU markets on Britain, the UK views Saudi Arabia and other repressive Arab regimes as lucrative post-Brexit markets for British weapons and goods, even though many of them have been blacklisted by the Foreign Office for human rights violations.

May and his ministers have toured the Middle East on several occasions over the past two years looking for possible customers.

Full report at:




South Asia


Taliban confirms death of Haqqani Network founder Jalalauddin Haqqani

Sep 04 2018

The founder and leader of the notorious Haqqani network Mawlavi Jalaluddin Haqqani has died, the Taliban militants group in Afghanistan said Tuesday.

According to a statement released by the Taliba, Mawlavi Jalaluddin Haqqani died of illness he was suffering during the recent years.

The Taliban group has not disclosed further information regarding the death of Mawlavi Jalalauddin Haqqani.

Haqqani network was formed in the late 1970s by Jalaluddin Haqqani. The group is allied with al-Qaida and the Afghan Taliban and cooperates with other terrorist organizations in the region.

The network is accused of staging numerous cross-border attacks from their base in North Waziristan, including the 19-hour siege at the US Embassy in Kabul in September 2011.

It is considered the most lethal insurgent group targeting the NATO-led coalition security forces and Afghan personnel in Afghanistan.

The US Department of State designated the HQN as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on September 7, 2012.




10 ISIS militants killed, wounded during the operations in Kunar province

Sep 03 2018

At least ten militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Khurasan (ISIS-K) were killed or wounded during the operations in eastern Kunar province of Afghanistan.

The 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan Military in the East said the militants were killed during the airstrikes and ground operations conducted in Suki district.

According to a statement released by 201st Silab Corps, the operations were jointly conducted by Afghan army, Afghan police, Afghan intelligence, andd public order police forces with the support of the Air Forces.

The statement further added that 7 militants were killed and three others were wounded during the same operations conducted.

The operations were conducted as part of the Silab-2 (8) operations to eliminate the terrorist groups and pave the way for the elections, the 201st Silab Corps added.

The 201st Silab Corps also added that some villages have been cleared from the militants and the security personnel and local residents have not suffered any casualty.

Full report at:




Bangladesh, Myanmar show maturity by not raising Rohingya issue at BIMSTEC summit: Official


The secretary general of the BIMSTEC has said member states, including Bangladesh and Myanmar, have shown their “diplomatic maturity” by not raising the Rohingya issue at the just-concluded Summit in Kathmandu.

Nobody denies the crisis and Bangladesh and Myanmar should remain engaged to resolve the issue, Ambassador Shahidul Islam said at a press briefing on Monday.

But cooperation in trade, investment and technology should also move on, he said.

“From the vantage point of the secretariat, we feel that Bangladesh and Myanmar have shown diplomatic maturity by not raising the issue when the organisaton is not ready to deal with an issue such as this,” Islam said, replying to a question.

Every organisation has its own characteristics and BIMSTEC is meant for the technical and economic cooperation, he said.

Asked whether it is possible to move forward keeping a major issue aside, Islam said, “It is possible to work on the issues where we have clear consensus.”

“Progress in areas where we have a consensus should not suffer for the areas where we don’t have a consensus. We continue to keep up progress in trade, investment, connectivity and energy cooperation.”

“No member states actually proposed that the Rohingya issue should be on the agenda. So that has not been on the agenda so there was no scope for holding discussions on this,” Islam said.

“The agenda was prepared and circulated by the host country [Nepal] and it was agreed upon by the member states.”

Bilaterally, Bangladesh and Myanmar have not stopped trade despite differences they have on the Rohingya issue, according to Islam.

“The ability to compartmentalise issues is a sign of maturity on the part of member states and that would lead to the hope of the future of this organisaton.”

Bangladesh provided shelter to over 700,000 Rohingyas who fled ethnic cleansing from the Rakhine State in a year and is now working on their repatriation with the support of the international community who are asking Myanmar to create a conducive environment for them.

The South and Southeast Asian leaders under the BIMSTEC framework in their summit on Aug 30-31 have taken a number of decisions to give the cooperation a boost.

Those include institutional reform, poverty alleviation, transport and communications, trade and investment, counter terrorism, climate change, energy, technology, agriculture, fisheries, public health, people-to-people contact, cultural cooperation, and tourism among others.

They also signed an MoU for grid connectivity.

But the Rohingya crisis that received global attention has not been on the agenda.

The secretary general said the summit has been a “successful” event where the leaders have made an attempt to review the achievements during the past 20 years.

“Holding the summit after a four-year gap is already a positive thing and there was an urge to move forward,” Islam said.

“We have received a number of decisions on which we need close follow-up and if we can follow up properly, I think it will be very good for the future cooperation among member states in the Bay of Bengal region.”

Islam said they decided to establish a BIMSTEC development fund.

Full report at:




Myanmar Army uses images of fleeing Rohingya Muslims as Bangladeshi immigrants, apologises later for 'mistake

Sep 04, 2018

The Myanmar military issued a rare apology on Monday, acknowledging that two photographs it published in a book on the crisis over the Rohingya Muslim minority were "published incorrectly".

Reuters published an exclusive report on Friday revealing that two of the pictures in the book that aimed at illustrating the army’s account of last year’s events in the western Myanmar state of Rakhine, were, in fact, archive pictures of different conflicts, and one was posted with an incorrect caption.

The erroneous publication of the photographs comes amid a series of government steps against what it has seen as media abuses, including a report on army activity in an ethnic minority guerrilla zone and the flying of a drone in the capital, Naypyitaw.

On Monday, a court jailed for seven years two reporters from Reuters on a charge of violating a secrets law.

Reuters found that two of the photographs in the military book on the Rohingya crisis were actually taken in Bangladesh and Tanzania and a third was falsely labelled as showing Rohingya entering Myanmar from Bangladesh, when in reality the picture was of refugees leaving Myanmar.

The military’s official newspaper, the Myawady Daily, issued a statement on Monday from its publishing arm, which produced the book Myanmar Politics and Tatmadaw: Part I, apologising for two of the photographs.

“It was found that two photos were incorrectly published,” the publishing arm said in a statement carried by the newspaper, referring to the photograph from Tanzania and another showing victims of Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence.

“We sincerely apologise to the readers and the owners of the photographs for the mistake,” it said.

It did not mention the photograph incorrectly captioned as showing Rohingya entering Myanmar when the picture was of them leaving.

Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay and military spokesman Major General Tun Tun Nyi could not be reached for comment.

The army’s department of public relations and psychological warfare published the book in English and Burmese in July.


Of the 80 images in the book, most were recent pictures of army chief Min Aung Hlaing meeting foreign dignitaries or other officials visiting Rakhine.

Of eight photos presented as historical images, Reuters found the provenance of three to be faked and was unable to determine the provenance of the five others.

One faded black-and-white image shows a crowd of men who appear to be on a long march with their backs bent over. “Bengalis intruded into the country after the British Colonialism occupied the lower part of Myanmar,” the caption reads.

The photo is apparently intended to depict Rohingya arriving in Myanmar during the colonial era, which ended in 1948. Reuters determined the picture is, in fact, a distorted version of a colour image taken in 1996 of refugees who had fled the genocide in Rwanda.

Another picture, also printed in black-and-white, shows men aboard a rickety boat. "Bengalis entered Myanmar via the watercourse," the caption reads.

Actually, the original photo depicts Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants leaving Myanmar in 2015, when tens of thousands fled for Thailand and Malaysia. The original has been rotated and blurred so the photo looks granular. It was sourced from Myanmar’s own Ministry of Information.

The Myawady’s publishing arm, in its statement, made no mention of an alteration of images.

The prime minister of neighbouring Bangladesh, where about 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled from a Myanmar military crackdown launched after Rohingya insurgent attacks in August last year, denounced the use of the photographs when she was asked in a news conference about them.

“What Myanmar has done is simply heinous. They have lowered their reputation,” Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told a news conference in Dhaka on Sunday.

“They are diminishing their position in the international arena.”

The 117-page book gives the army’s account of the crackdown last year which led to reports of mass killings, rape, and arson.

Much of the content is sourced to the military’s “True News” information unit, which since the start of the crisis has distributed news giving the army’s position, mostly via Facebook.

Full report at:




Bangladesh Church sets priorities for the next decade

September 4, 2018

The Catholic Church in Bangladesh plans to treat the welfare of families and poverty, as well as environmental protection and migrant welfare, as pastoral priorities in the next decade.

New guidelines state that such an approach would "give witness" to the Church in the low-lying nation.

A 12-point 'mission statement' was issued at the end of a national pastoral workshop of the Catholic Church held Aug. 28-31 at the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh secretariat in the capital, Dhaka.

It was themed 'Communion: Witness of the Church in Bangladesh.'

Pastoral priorities are to include spirituality of communion in individual, family and social life as well as the formation of faith, evangelization and pastoral services.

Also cited was educational opportunities and values formation together with family life and pastoral services to marginalized communities and the poor.

Further, priority would be afforded to socio-economic development and self-reliance, inter-religious harmony and Christian unity as well as enhancing religious vocations and services.

There would also be an emphasis on safeguarding the environment, civic rights' awareness and improving health services, advancing political engagement and the adopting of new technologies as well as use of the mass media.

The workshop drew about 200 participants, including all the archbishops and bishops of eight Catholic dioceses, and representatives of clergy, religious and laypeople along with social and political leaders from across Bangladesh.

The Church's pastoral priorities aimed to meet challenges of the times, said Holy Cross Archbishop Moses M. Costa of Chittagong, who was the president of organizing committee.

The announced priorities would be the Church's guiding light for the faithful to be emboldened through a sense of communion, he said.

The detailed pastoral guidelines would be distributed with a view to dioceses determining how to implement them, Archbishop Costa told ucanews.com.

Multi-faceted challenges could result in discord and disunity, he said, adding that great feats could be achieved if people work together.

Diocese-wide pastoral workshops would be held to consider the priorities, said Bishop James Romen Boiragi of Khulna in southern Bangladesh, which is vulnerable to climate change.

As well as the formation of communion, the resulting diocesan pastoral plan would seek to tackle adverse impacts of climate change, Bishop Boragi told ucanews.com.

Many Catholics see the pastoral plan as needed, but difficult to implement.

"Nowadays, faithful in many places are gradually distancing themselves from clergy and religious, largely because priests and religious are less interested in pastoral and family visits," Babli Talang, an ethnic Khasia Catholic woman from north-eastern Sylhet Diocese told ucanews.com.

"Also, church officials often fail to take up a strong stance on issues of justice and peace.

"Priests and religious need to be close to people in order to make the pastoral plan a reality."

While the issuing of pastoral priorities is seen as a positive thing, there are concerns that the Church has in the past been lacking in fulfilling them.

"Issues like migration, climate change, concern for the poor and indigenous communities are really important," said Kerubin Hembrom, an ethnic Santal Catholic from northern Dinajpur Diocese.

"My concern is church officials cannot fulfil them alone unless laypeople are strongly involved.

"In many places, people are not closely attached to the Church despite being members, so the Church has a lot to do to unite people and work for common good."

In Muslim-majority Bangladesh, with a population of 160 million, Christians account for less than a half percent or about 600,000 people.

Full report at:




8 suspects arrested over suspicious transfer of 381 young men to Nangarhar

Sep 04 2018

At least eight people have been arrested over the suspicious transfer of 381 young men to eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The provincial government media office in a statement said the young men were being transferred to eastern Nangarhar province under the guise of providing work for the collection of pine nuts.

The statement further added that the suspects and the young men were arrested during an operation in Khogyani district of Nangarhar.

The governor’s office also added that a delegation consisting of deputy provincial intelligence chief, police chief, officials from the provincial and district administrative government has been formed to investigate the incident.

The detained suspects are in the custody for further questioning while the young men have been sent back to their relative provinces, the statement added.

It is yet not clear for what purposes the young men were transferred to Nangarhar.

However, the Taliban group and ISIS Khurasan loyalists often hire young men in their ranks to conduct terrorist related and insurgency activities.

Full report at:




U.S. soldier killed, another wounded in East of Afghanistan

Sep 03 2018

A U.S. soldier was killed and another soldier sustained injuries in an apparent insider attack in East of Afghanistan.

“One U.S. service member was killed and another wounded during an apparent insider attack in eastern Afghanistan, Sept. 3,” the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission said in a statement.

“The sacrifice of our service member, who volunteered for a mission to Afghanistan to protect his country, is a tragic loss for all who knew and all who will now never know him,” said Resolute Support and U.S. Forces – Afghanistan Commanding General Scott Miller. “Our duty now is to honor him, care for his family and continue our mission.”

No further details have been given regarding the exact location of the incident but the alliance added that the wounded service member is in stable condition.

The U.S. forces are engaged in counter-terrorism operations against the ISIS and other terrorist groups in eastern Nangarhar and some other eastern provinces.

Full report at:




2 ISIS militants hailing from Pakistan surrender to Afghan forces in Nangarhar

Sep 02 2018

Two militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Khurasan (ISIS-K) surrendered to the Afghan forces in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The provincial government media office in a statement said the militants were operating in the leadership ranks of the ISIS terrorist group in Nangarhar.

One of the militants, Naqibullah, said they joined the ISIS ranks four years ago together with a group of Pakistani Taliban militants led by Hafiz Saeed, admitting that they have been involved in anti-government armed activities and killing of the civilians.

Naqib further added that he contacted the Afghan intelligence after realizing that all their activities have resulted in the loss of the ordinary civilians.

He said the ISIS group was paying their salaries and other required materials and the weapons and munitions were also coming from the other side of the Durand Line.

According to Naqib, militants hailing from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, and some other countries are also fighting in ISIS ranks in Afghanistan

Another member of the group, Sajad, who surrendered to the Afghan intelligence, said their family members, including the wife and two children Naqibullah and his wife along with his son, are also accompanying them.

Provincial governor’s spokesman Ataullah Khogyani said the surrendered militants hail from Orakzai Agency of Pakistan and previously had links with the leadership of the terror group.

Khogyani further added that the two militants have resided in Nangarhar for four years before surrendering to the intelligence forces.

Full report at:






Talks with Palestinians are pointless: Israel

September 04, 2018

JERUSALEM - Israel’s defence minister said Monday that negotiations with Palestinians on the situation in both Gaza and the occupied West Bank were pointless and that the country should act unilaterally.

Avigdor Lieberman’s remarks came as Egypt and the United Nations were working to forge a lasting ceasefire between Gaza rulers Hamas and Israel after months of tensions and violence.

“I’m aware of all the negotiations and all the mediators and everything going on there,” he said at a Jerusalem conference, in remarks relayed by his office.

“The negotiations, regardless of whether they’re on Ramallah or Gaza, won’t lead us anywhere,” he said.

“All the negotiations have led us to a dead end, therefore we need to act on the Palestinian issue - regarding Ramallah and Gaza - unilaterally, and define the reality unilaterally, according to our understanding,” Lieberman said.

The outspoken minister reiterated the strategy of enabling more commerce and travel in and from the blockaded Gaza Strip in return for a decrease in militant activity from the Palestinian enclave and clashes along the border.

“The average Gazan concerned about his livelihood and how to feed his family must understand that whoever participates in terror activity harms his livelihood,” he said.

“Security quiet brings economic benefits.”

There have been months of tension along the border and several military-flare ups, but recent weeks have seen relative calm.

Palestinian militants in Gaza and Israel have fought three wars since 2008.




New Colombian president: Recognition of Palestine 'irreversible'

Sep 4, 2018

Colombia’s new President Ivan Duque says he will not reverse his predecessor’s decision last month to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state.

Duque told a local radio station on Monday that the decision made by Juan Manuel Santos in the last few days of his term in August was “irreversible” because “the president of the republic is the person designated by the constitution to mange foreign relations.”

Any government governs until it is replaced by its successor administration; therefore, Santos’s decision cannot be disputed and will stand, he argued.

The Colombian president, however, said that he would have preferred more debate on the issue, but that he respects the decisions his predecessor made during his tenure.

“We would have benefited from more analyses [about the pros and cons of recognizing Palestine], but we should be part of the solution, not the problem,” Duque said.

Duque said that he believed the so-called two-state solution is the best way out of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“What we, the international community, should not do is be part of the problem, instead, we must be part of the solution. The solution is to form lasting peace, stability, and that the two-state solution will move forward,” he said.

Santos handed a letter to Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki on August 3, saying that Colombia “decided to recognize Palestine as a free, independent and sovereign state.”

Colombia’s Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said in a statement at the time that the new government would “cautiously examine” the “implications” of the decision and would “act according to international law.”

In response, the Israeli embassy in Colombia immediately issued an angry statement, saying it was “deeply disappointed” by the move and demanding that Colombia’s new government reverse the decision.

Up until then, Colombia was the only South American country that did not recognize the State of Palestine.

Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state in the territories of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem al-Quds, with the latter as its capital.

In November 2012, the United Nations General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status from “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state” despite strong opposition from Israel.

The Palestinian national flag was also hoisted for the first time at the UN headquarters in New York in September 2015.

However, Palestinian efforts for statehood have been hampered due to Israel’s illegal settlement activities in the occupied lands and Washington’s latest anti-Palestinian measures, among them US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel and relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.

Full report at:




US claims on religious minorities' rights in Iran biased: Bishop

Sep 3, 2018

Head of the Armenian Diocese of Iran Bishop Sarkis Davidian says claims made by some US officials about the rights of religious minorities in the Islamic Republic and lack of freedom to perform their religious rituals are "biased and baseless."

In a statement on Monday, Davidian added that the Catholic Armenians are followers of one of the divine religions in Iran who can perform religious rituals and carry out social and cultural activities in the country with full freedom.

It added that the US is pursuing an "opportunistic" approach to minorities to meet its own interests.

Apparently, Washington supports religious minorities but in fact it is victimizing them for its hegemonic policies, Davidian said, adding that the US attitude to the colored people is a clear example in this regard.

Last month, Iran’s Assyro-Chaldean churches censured US officials’ “interventionist” claims about the situation of religious minorities in the Islamic Republic, calling on Washington to be concerned about its own poor human rights record at home and abroad instead of shedding “crocodile tears” for others.

In a statement released on August 14, the churches rejected US accusations of rights violations against religious minorities in Iran, saying all divine religions in the country have their own representatives at the Iranian Parliament and enjoy equal rights with fellow lawmakers.

The official religion of Iran is Shia Islam under the Constitution. The Islamic Republic recognizes Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian religious minorities.

The Constitution stipulates that “investigation into individual beliefs is forbidden,” and that “no one may be harmed or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.”

Full report at:




Israel will act ‘unilaterally’ on Gaza Strip, West Bank issues: Lieberman

Sep 3, 2018

Israel’s minister for military affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, says negotiations with Palestinian authorities on the situation in both besieged Gaza Strip and the occupied west Bank are pointless and that Tel Aviv should act on the Palestinian issue in both regions “unilaterally.”

“I’m aware of all the negotiations and all the mediators and everything going on there. The negotiations, regardless of whether they’re on Ramallah or Gaza [City], won't lead us anywhere,” he said at a press conference at Jerusalem al-Quds on Monday, referring to the capital cities of the West bank and Gaza Strip, respectively.

Lieberman’s comments came as Egypt and the United Nations are working to hammer out a lasting ceasefire between the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement, which has been running the Gaza Strip since 2006, and the Israeli regime after months of tensions and violence in the occupied territories.

“All the negotiations have led us to a dead end, therefore we need to act on the Palestinian issue -- regarding Ramallah and Gaza -- unilaterally, and define the reality unilaterally, according to our understanding,” Lieberman added.

Tensions have been running high along the Gaza fence since March 30, which marked the start of a series of protests, dubbed “The Great March of Return,” demanding the right to return for those driven out of their homeland by Israel.

The Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14, the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Nakba Day (the Day of Catastrophe), which coincided this year with the US embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem al-Quds. Israeli fire has so far taken the lives of more than 170 Palestinians since March 30.

Full report at:




Turkey detains over dozen officers over affiliation to Gulen movement

Sep 3, 2018

Turkish Naval Forces have arrested more than a dozen officers on suspicion of affiliation to a movement led by US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the Ankara government accuses of having masterminded the July 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Security sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the suspects were detained in the capital Ankara, and that they are believed to have contacted Gulenists via payphones and prepaid mobile phones.

The sources added that the group consists of one major and 12 non-commissioned officers.

On August 31, Turkish security forces detained 23 suspected Gulenists in two separate nationwide operations.

Six former military pilots were among those arrested, while the rest were Turkish Air Forces personnel.

During the 2016 botched putsch, a faction of the Turkish military declared that it had seized control of the country and the government of Erdogan was no more in charge. The attempt was, however, suppressed a few hours later.

Ankara has since accused Gulen of having orchestrated the coup. The opposition figure is also accused of being behind a long-running campaign to topple the government via infiltrating the country’s institutions, particularly the army, police and the judiciary.

Gulen has denounced the “despicable putsch” and reiterated that he had no role in it.

“Accusations against me related to the coup attempt are baseless and politically-motivated slanders,” he said in a statement.

The 77-year-old cleric has also called on Ankara to end its “witch hunt” of his followers, a move he says is aimed at “weeding out anyone it deems disloyal to President Erdogan and his regime.”

Turkish officials have frequently called on their US counterparts to extradite Gulen, but their demands have not been taken heed of.

Turkey, which remains in a state of emergency since the coup, has been engaged in suppressing the media and opposition groups suspected to have played a role in the failed coup.

Tens of thousands of people have been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of having links to Gulen and the failed coup. More than 110,000 others, including military staff, civil servants and journalists, have been sacked or suspended from work over the same accusations.

Full report at:




Israel signals it could attack Iranian weaponry in Iraq

4 September 2018

Israel signaled on Monday that it could attack suspected Iranian military assets in Iraq, as it has done with scores of air strikes in war-torn Syria.

Citing Iranian, Iraqi and Western sources, Reuters reported last week that Iran had transferred short-range ballistic missiles to Shi’ite allies in Iraq in recent months. Tehran and Baghdad formally denied that report.

Israel sees in Iran’s regional expansion an attempt to open up new fronts against it. Israel has repeatedly launched attacks in Syria to prevent any entrenchment of Iranian forces helping Damascus in the war.

“We are certainly monitoring everything that is happening in Syria and, regarding Iranian threats, we are not limiting ourselves just to Syrian territory. This also needs to be clear,” Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told a conference hosted and aired live by the Israel Television News Company.

Asked if that included possible action in Iraq, Lieberman said: “I am saying that we will contend with any Iranian threat, and it doesn’t matter from where it comes ... Israel’s freedom is total. We retain this freedom of action.”

There was no immediate response from the government of Iraq, which is technically at war with Israel, nor from US Central Command in Washington, DC, which oversees US military operations in Iraq.

Israel’s Channel 1 television reported that in recent weeks the United States asked Israel not to attack in Iraqi territory. It said it had gleaned the information from “Western officials.”

Pompeo concerned

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday he was “deeply concerned” by the reported Iranian missile transfer.

“If true, this would be a gross violation of Iraqi sovereignty and of UNSCR 2231,” he tweeted, referring to a UN Security Council resolution endorsing the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran. The Trump administration abandoned that deal in May, citing, among other factors, Iran’s ballistic missile projects.

According to regional sources, Israel began carrying out air strikes in Syria in 2013 against suspected arms transfers and deployments by Iran and its Lebanese ally, the Shi’ite Hezbollah militia.

These operations have largely been ignored by Russia, Damascus’s big-power backer, and coordinated with other powers conducting their own military operations in Syria.

Full report at:




UNRWA chief defends refugee criteria for millions of Palestinians

3 September 2018

Millions of Palestinian refugees “cannot simply be wished away”, the head of a UN support agency said on Monday, hitting back at a US aid cutoff and allegations its work only perpetuates their plight.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) provides services to about 5 million Palestinian refugees across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank and Gaza. Most are descendants of some 700,000 Palestinians who were driven out of their homes or fled fighting in the 1948 war that led to Israel’s creation.

The growing refugee count was cited by Washington, UNRWA’s biggest donor, in its decision last week to withhold funding, and has potential ramifications for the Palestinians’ pursuit of a right of return to land now in Israel.

Successive Israeli governments have ruled out such an influx, fearing the country would lose its Jewish majority.

“I express deep regret and disappointment at the nature of the US decision,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl said in an open letter to Palestinian refugees and the agency’s staff in which he pledged its operations would continue.

Appearing to echo Israel’s view that descendants of the 1948 refugees should not share that status, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert criticized UNRWA on Friday over its “endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described UNRWA on Sunday as “the refugee perpetuation agency” whose money “should be taken and be used to really help rehabilitate the refugees, whose real number is a sliver of that reported by UNRWA”.

But Krahenbuhl said “the protracted nature of the Palestine refugee crisis” was not unique. He said the children and grandchildren of long-displaced refugees in Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, Congo and elsewhere are also recognized as refugees and assisted by the United Nations.

Schools open

“No matter how often attempts are made to minimize or delegitimize the individual and collective experiences of Palestine refugees, the undeniable fact remains that they have rights under international law and represent a community of 5.4 million men, women and children who cannot simply be wished away,” he said.

The United States paid out $60 million to UNRWA in January, withholding another $65 million, from a promised $365 million for the year. Krahenbuhl said Gulf states had injected funds but UNRWA still needed more than $200 million.

In Lebanon on Monday, UNRWA opened its school year as scheduled. Studies in UNRWA-run schools in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip got under way on Wednesday.

Claudio Cordone, director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, told Reuters that funds would last only until the end of the month but the agency would continue to raise money to ensure the schools remain open.

Washington’s move against UNRWA was the latest in a series of US and Israeli policy decisions that have angered Palestinians and raised international concern.

Full report at:




Turkey to trade in local currencies with Iran, China

Sep 3, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he has plans to ditch the dollar in trade with Iran and China and instead use local currencies. 

Erdogan was quoted by the media in Ankara as saying that his government was also discussing the same idea with Moscow.

He stressed the need to put an end to US dollar dominance of trade exchange gradually by dealing in local currencies.

“Linking world trade, particularly with the US dollar, is becoming a big problem day after day,” he was quoted as saying by Anadolu news agency.

“Countries, companies and traders have to cope with the difficulties linked to the US dollar, the exchange rate pressures and difficulties arising from the nature of the trade itself,” the Turkish president said at the Kyrgyz-Turkish Business Forum held in the Kyrgyzstan capital, Bishkek.

The Turkish president further emphasized that the “trade facilitation system” was already becoming a major obstacle to global free trade, warning that emerging economies were suffering from this problem, with the biggest example being the economic attacks that he said Turkey had suffered in recent weeks.

“The aim of manipulating foreign exchange rates is to raise doubts about the strength and robustness of the Turkish economy,” Erdogan said.

“All the steps taken by the global credit rating institutions are politicized. These institutions are not honest, they are fraudulent and [we] do not believe them.”

Full report at:




Iran will continue support for Syria's fight against terrorism: Zarif

Sep 3, 2018

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the Islamic Republic will continue to support Syria in its fight against terrorist groups.

Zarif made the comments in a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem in Damascus on Monday ahead of a planned summit of Iranian, Russian and Turkish presidents in Tehran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will host his Turkish and Russian counterparts Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin, respectively, on September 7 in an attempt to find ways to end the ongoing crisis in Syria.

The three presidents have previously held summits in the Russian resort city of Sochi in November 2017 and in the Turkish capital, Ankara, in April.

Zarif and Muallem also discussed regional issues and the latest developments in Syria, including the return of the displaced people to their homeland.

The top Iranian and Syrian diplomats stressed the importance of strengthening economic cooperation and the participation of Iranian firms in the reconstruction of war-ravaged Syria as well as cooperation in international organizations, particularly the United Nations.

Muallem hailed Iran's support for his country in the battle against terrorist groups and called on Tehran to continue its cooperation with Damascus in this regard.

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 wreaking havoc in the country.

Iran has been offering military advisory support to Syria at the request of the Damascus government, enabling its army to speed up its gains on various fronts against terror outfits.

Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami was in Damascus last week and signed an agreement on defense and technical cooperation designed to ensure the continued presence and participation of Iran in Syria's reconstruction.

In a meeting with his Syrian counterpart, General Ali Abdullah Ayyoub, in Damascus on August 26, Hatami warned of extra-regional countries' plots to sow discord in Syria and vowed the Islamic Republic's full support for the war-ravaged country in a bid to preserve its territorial integrity and improve its stability.

"Iran will spare no effort to maintain Syria's territorial integrity, because security in the country will help [improve] regional stability," the Iranian defense chief added.

A senior Iranian commander said on August 28 the country's military advisors will maintain their presence in Syria, giving more details about the military cooperation agreement reached between Tehran and Damascus.

"The continued presence of Iranian (military) advisors in Syria was one of the points of the defense and technical agreement between Tehran and Damascus," Iran's military and defense attaché to Damascus, Brigadier General Abolqassem Alinejad, said.

Syria will start reconstruction process in cooperation with Iran, Russia: PM Khamis

In a meeting with the Iranian foreign minister, Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis said the reconstruction process of his country would start in cooperation with friendly countries, particularly Iran and Russia.

Zarif also said the two countries' embassies should prepare the ground for the participation of Iranian private firms in the reconstruction of Syria.

Full report at:




Turkey says to start controversial drilling for gas in East Mediterranean

Sep 4, 2018

Turkey says it may begin drilling for gas in the Eastern Mediterranean this fall in reaction to the Greek Cyprus’s “unilateral” drilling in the disputed region.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu made the remarks on Monday in a joint press conference with his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Kudret Ozersay.

“The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) has territorial waters and a continental shelf which Turkey would take all measures to protect,” Cavusoglu said, reiterating his country’s opposition to the Greek Cyprus’s drilling in areas which Turkey says belong to the Turkish Cyprus.

He said he would later on Tuesday meet his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias in Western Izmir to discuss the issue of Greek Cyprus and its “unilateral steps” regarding the gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean.

If the Greek Cypriot side continues taking unilateral steps, Turkey will start its own drilling activities, the Turkish FM warned.

The Turkish Cypriot foreign minister also warned that if Greek Cypriots would continue their unilateral drilling activities, Turkish Cypriots will also "start drilling soon" in accordance with the license it has already provided to Turkish Petroleum.

Back in February, the Turkish military prevented the Greek Cypriot government from exploring for oil and gas in the disputed region.

Turkey, which does not have diplomatic ties with the Greek Cyprus, has vowed to prevent what it sees as a unilateral move by Greek Cypriots to claim offshore resources. It says some areas of Cyprus’s offshore maritime zone fall under what Ankara calls the territory of the Turkish Cyprus.

The island has been divided into Turkish Cypriot-controlled northern and Greek Cypriot-controlled southern territories since a brief war in 1974, which saw Turkey intervene militarily in response to a military coup on the island, which was backed by the Athens government to annex Cyprus to Greece.

Greek Cypriots run the island’s internationally recognized government, while Turkish Cypriots have a breakaway state in the north — only recognized by Turkey — and say offshore resources belong to them, too.

The Greek Cypriot leader has said the reunification talks cannot resume as long as Turkey blocks foreign companies from drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus. He has accused Ankara of practicing “gunboat diplomacy.”

Full report at:




Israeli troopers kill another Palestinian over alleged stabbing attack in West Bank

Sep 3, 2018

Israeli soldiers have fatally shot a Palestinian following an alleged stabbing attack in the occupied West Bank, the military says.

According to a statement released by the Israeli military on Monday, the incident occurred in the vicinity of Kiryat Arba, a hardline Israeli settlement, near the southern West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron) earlier in the day.

The Israeli army added that the victim, while “wielding a knife,” had approached an Israeli military checkpoint in the area when he was shot dead by the Israeli live fire. It further identified him as Wael al-Jabari, 27. No Israelis were hurt in the incident, the army added.

The Israeli military regularly opens fatal fire on Palestinians, accusing them of attempting to carry out stabbing attacks against its forces.

Human rights groups have repeatedly criticized the Tel Aviv regime for its shoot-to-kill policy as a large number of the Palestinians killed at the scene of attacks did not pose serious threats to Israelis.

Separately, tensions have been running high along the Gaza fence since March 30, which marked the start of a series of protests, dubbed “The Great March of Return,” demanding the right to return for those driven out of their homeland by Israel.

The Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14, the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Nakba Day (the Day of Catastrophe), which coincided this year with the US embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem al-Quds. Israeli fire has so far taken the lives of more than 170 Palestinians since March 30.

Full report at:






Death toll hits 48 in Boko Haram troop attack: military sources

September 3, 2018

The death toll from a Boko Haram attack on a Nigerian army post on the border with Niger has risen to 48, military sources said on Monday.

Scores of Boko Haram fighters in trucks stormed the base on Thursday in Zari village in northern Borno state and briefly seized it after a fierce battle.

Boko Haram, which has been waging a deadly insurgency in Nigeria since 2009, has intensified attacks on military targets in recent months.

At least 30 Nigerian soldiers were initially said to have been killed in Thursday's raid.

"The casualty toll now stands at 48 with the recovery of 17 more bodies of soldiers in surrounding bushes in Zari by search and rescue teams," a military source who did not want to be named told AFP.

"Search operations are still ongoing and more bodies are likely to be recovered." Another military source confirmed the new death toll.

"So far (the) bodies of 48 troops have been recovered. Yesterday rescue teams found 17 bodies of fallen soldiers," he said, adding that they included two officers and 46 soldiers.

"When the troops were overwhelmed by the terrorists they withdrew in different directions.




Boko Haram no longer control any part of Nigeria – Buhari claims amid killing of soldiers

September 3, 2018

President Muhammadu Buhari has insisted that no part of Nigeria was under the control of Boko Haram insurgents.

Buhari stated this while recounting some successes of his administration during an interactive session with some Nigerians in Beijing, China, on Sunday.

He said security operatives deployed to counter-insurgencies in the North East were responsible for the successes of the operation.

This is coming at a time about 30 soldiers were alleged to have been killed by Boko Haram insurgents at Zari village in Guzamala Local Government Area of Borno.

However, Brig.-Gen. Texas Chukwu, Director, Army Public Relations stressed that the report was a “figment of the imagination.’’

Full report at:




Residents trapped as clashes rage in Libya’s Tripoli

3 September 2018

Clashes raged Monday on the outskirts of Libya’s capital Tripoli trapping residents indoors and hampering rescue efforts, emergency services said, after more than a week of deadly fighting.

Clashes since August 27 between rival militias in the southern suburbs has killed at least 47 people and wounded 129 others, most of them civilians, according to an updated toll put out by the health ministry Sunday night.

On Monday, armed groups had cut roads leading to their positions, “blocking access to aid and relief” and trapping families in the area, emergency services spokesman Osama Ali said.

Explosions could be heard from the Tripoli’s centre and witnesses reported heavy fighting, particularly along the perimeter of the Wadi al-Rabii suburb in the southeast of the capital.

On Sunday, some 400 detainees managed to escape after rioting at a prison in Ain Zara, also in the capital’s southern suburbs, as the fighting raged.

Most detainees at the prison have been convicted of common crimes or were supporters of former dictator Muammar Qaddafi, found guilty of killings during the uprising that toppled his regime in 2011.

A justice ministry official told AFP on Monday that the prisoners escaped from Wing A, reserved for those convicted of common crimes.

Supporters of Qaddafi’s regime are being held in another wing where “no trouble has been recorded”, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The main figures from Qaddafi’s regime are held in another prison in Tripoli and one in Misrata, 200 kilometres (125 miles) east of the capital.

The internationally recognized Government of National Unity (GNA) on Sunday declared a state of emergency in the capital and its surroundings.

Full report at:




Palestine and Jordan reject ‘confederation trial balloon’

September 04, 2018

AMMAN: Jordanian and Palestinian officials, experts and activists are united in their opposition to a confederation that precedes the end of Israeli occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state.

Palestinian and Jordanian official speakers have rejected the idea circulating in the Israeli media following a discussion President Abbas had with Israeli peace activists.

In the discussion, Abbas told the Israelis that Trump Administration mediators offered the idea of a confederation with Jordan but that Abbas rejected the idea unless it also includes the state of Israel.

Ziad Abu Zayyad, international spokesman for Fatah in Jerusalem, told Arab News that the confederation discussion is premature.

“A Palestinian state must be established with security, borders and a capital before talking about any kind of confederation since it is needed to be able to achieve such a thing.”

Mahdi ABdulHadi, head of the PASIA think tank in Jerusalem, also called the US and Israeli discussion about Jordan “a new version of their obsession” and suggested that this “trial balloon should be left alone because it will soon run out of air.”

Najeeb Qadoumi, a senior Fatah leader in Jordan and a member of the Palestine National Council living in Jordan, told Arab News that this is an old topic and Abbas has tried to avoid dealing with. Qadoumi noted that a confereration is a union between “two independent states and must be approved after their independence by means of a referendum.”

Qadoumi said that if the goal is to be a confederation “like the EU where countries like France and Germany are sovereign that there is no problem as long as all of the West Bank including East Jerusalem and Gaza are included.”

Hamadeh Faraneh, who has the distinction of having been a Jordanian member of Parliament and a member of the Palestine National Council legislative councils, told Arab News that the confederation issue was a political trick that president Abbas was able to cleverly circumvent.

“Everyone knows that Jordanians reject confederation because it attempts to make Jordan become a replacement of the PLO and because it will be the beginning of a process that aims at kicking Palestinians from their home and country.”

Faraneh told Arab News that “any unity at this time while occupation has not ended and Palestinians have not enjoyed true independence is totally unacceptable.”

Faraneh said that president Abbas is aware of this and that is why he escaped this issue by adding Israel.

“Palestinians are the only common denominator that is present in all three regions in Israel, Palestine and Jordan,” he said.

Former Jordanian member of parliament Ghazi Musharbash told Arab News that the Americans and Israelis really want a Jordanian federation without Gaza.

“This is why the late King Hussein and King Abdullah II are consistently on the record as opposing the idea and have repeatedly said that they are only willing to discuss the idea once Palestinians are genuinely independent.”

Full report at:




Gunmen kill 11 villagers in Nigeria's Plateau state

September 4, 2018

Nigerian police say gunmen have killed at least 11 villagers in an attack in Plateau state, a central region riven by conflicts over land rights between mainly Christian farmers and Muslim nomadic herdsmen.

The incident occurred late on Sunday in Lopandet Dwei Du village just outside state capital Jos, Terna Tyopev, police spokesperson, said in a statement on Monday.

Tyopev said at least 11 people were also wounded in the attack and transferred to hospital.

Plateau and other parts of central Nigeria have witnessed a spate of killings in recent months as herdsmen in search of grazing land and water for their cattle attack villages inhabited by farmers and retaliatory assaults.

The conflict has killed 1,500 civilians in the first half of 2018, six times more than the Boko Haram armed campaign, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG).

Since the violence escalated in January, an estimated 300,000 people have fled their homes, the group said.

Full report at:



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