Trump Hosted His Second Annual Iftar Dinner at the White House And Said It's
'Been A Very Rough Time' For Muslims Around The World
Trump Cites Ramzan as Time of 'Hope, Tolerance And Peace'
a Heartwarming Gesture, Hindu Family Donates Land for Muslim Burial Ground in
Tihar Jail, 150 Hindu Prisoners Observe Roza In Solidarity With Muslim Inmates
Two Firebrand Clerics, Khadim Hussain Rivzi and Pir Afzal Qari Get Bail in
Cowed By Islamist Bullies in Bangladesh
unites Christians and Muslims in Egypt
App Assesses Islamic Preachers in Gaza
Zealand Seeks Global Support for Tougher Measures on Online Violence
Nazis protested a Holocaust remembrance event. A university's scholarship is
part of the reason why.
It would be big mistake for Iran to try anything against US
warns against ‘military escalation’ over Iran
confirms first B-52 bombers' mission in anti-Iran deployment
Mosque in US suffers large-scale damage
Claims 'Province' In India, Officials Call It 'Propaganda'
Polling In Areas Dominated By Muslims Could Influence Results In Delhi
foreign minister on India visit to lobby support against US
junks plea to advance voting time for Ramzan
suspected LeT terrorists arrested
Economy in Doldrums, Pakistan Army's Imran Khan Project Is Failing
Roadside Iftar Feeds Thousands in Ramadan
policemen martyred, 11 others injured in Quetta blast
man executed in Saudi Arabia for smuggling heroin
approves plan for Nanak’s birth anniversary
explains why it insists on more administrative units in Sindh
attack terrorist not a missing person: Mengal
Train Sights on Aid Groups, an Ominous Turn in Afghanistan
least 13 militants killed in S. Afghan clashes
Lanka clashes kill one; imposes nationwide curfew after mosques attacked
al-Qaeda linked militants charged with LGBT murders in Bangladesh
shadow district chief among 6 killed in U.S. airstrike in Herat province
killed, 20 wounded in back to back explosions in Jalalabad city
charity collector arrested in Logar province
Threatens To Burn Makhmour Farmers’ Grain Fields If They Fail To Pay ’Taxes’
Extremists Using Instagram to Promote Jihad and Incite Support For Terror
Attacks On The West
People Resist Tahrir Al-Sham's Forced Recruitment Against Syrian Army
refuse to send sons to join militant ranks in Idlib battles
remnants wage hidden war of raids, killings
of ISIS fighters find camps safe haven, fear violence from Iraqis outside
Were ‘Comrades in Arms’ Against ISIS. Now the US Is Eyeing the Exit
army 'kills terrorists' in Idlib countryside
troops kill 3 Islamic State suicide bombers in Salahuddin
Helmets, Tahrir Al-Sham Terrorists Preparing to Produce Video on False-Flag
Matches Hezbollah, Can Fire 1,000 Missiles a Day: Israel
withdrawal from key Yemeni ports prelude to final solution: Iran
one million Palestinians in Gaza not having enough food by June: UNRWA
shows Israeli settlements boosted after Trump election
conditions ‘suffocating the joy of Ramadan’ in Gaza
may attack Israel if U.S. standoff escalates: Israeli minister
rebels claim to begin withdrawal from key Yemen ports
assessing a delay at US request in taking delivery of Russian missile
Palestinian negotiator says denied US visa for first time
drones launch retaliatory raids against vital Saudi facilities: Al-Masirah
detains 46 ex-policemen over affiliation to Gulen movement
Chief Meets NZ Mosque Victims, Decries Online Hate
mosque security heightened as Ramadan is in full swing
joins New Zealand to host summit to banish extremism on social media
calls for calm, warns US-Iran of conflict ‘by accident’
report calls for more access to Facebook algorithms as Macron meets Zuckerberg
FM warns about ‘risk of conflict’ between US, Iran
foreign ministers to discuss Iran’s nuclear announcement in Brussels
Russian leaders discuss Idlib over phone
Cops Foil Bid by Terror Cell to Attack Non-Muslim Places Of Worship during
State Could Exploit Local Issues to Advance Ideology In Malaysia, Analyst Says
police arrest 4 linked to ISIS bomb plot
Wajdi denies being involved in Yapeim scandals
arrested in Malaysia suspected of plotting Ramadan attacks
at peak of powers after backing the right horse
remembers victims of bombings
Kill at Least 6 in Church Attack in Burkina Faso
Claims Responsibility for Targeted Blast
Army Kills Militants During Operation, Says Commander
officer, three protesters killed following clashes in Sudan capital Khartoum
Bashir charged over ‘killing’ of protesters
killed, 15 injured in anti-regime protests in Sudan
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Donald Trump hosted his second annual iftar dinner Monday night at the White
House and said it's "been a very rough time" for Muslims around the
dinner, which breaks the daily fast of Ramadan for Muslims around the world,
was attended by various Muslim diplomatic leaders. He cited the devastating
attacks on Muslims killed in New Zealand, Sri Lanka, California and Pittsburgh.
their blessed memory, we resolve to defeat the evils of terrorism," he
speech Monday night emphasized world peace.
thank god that America is a place founded on beliefs that citizens of all
faiths can live together in safety and live together in freedom," he said
then he ended his address with a Muslim blessing, "Wish all the people
around the world Ramadan Kareem."
tone Monday night was a shift from previous occasions.
in the day, Trump joined top House Republicans in attacking Rep. Rashida Tlaib,
D-Mich., for her recent comments on the Holocaust and Israel.
Rep. Tlaib is being slammed for her horrible and highly insensitive statement
on the Holocaust," Trump said in a tweet. "She obviously has
tremendous hatred of Israel and the Jewish people. Can you imagine what would
happen if I ever said what she said, and says?"
an interview Saturday on Yahoo's podcast "Skullduggery," Tlaib, one
of the first two Muslim women in Congress, spoke about her support for a
one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Tlaib fought back on
Monday saying Trump and top-ranking GOP lawmakers had deliberately misconstrued
her words to "spread falsehoods rooted in hate."
his presidential campaign, Trump called for a "complete and total
shutdown" of Muslims entering the United States. And in June 2018, the
Supreme Court ruled that a travel ban is "squarely within" the
president's authority. The third iteration came after two previous attempts by
the administration to bar immigration to the United States from certain foreign
countries had been blocked.
last month, Trump rebuked Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., over remarks she made about
Israel and its American supporters at a Council on American-Islamic Relations
who was elected alongside Tlaib as the first women Muslim members of Congress
in U.S. history, continues to speak out against Israel, attracting the scorn of
Republicans and Democratic colleagues alike.
responded to Trump on Twitter.
one person -- no matter how corrupt, inept, or vicious -- can threaten my
unwavering love for America," she wrote, without naming Trump directly.
"Thank you for standing with me -- against an administration that ran on
banning Muslims from this country -- to fight for the America we all
Trump cites Ramzan as time of 'hope, tolerance and peace'
President Donald Trump celebrated the month of Ramzan on Monday evening as a
time when people join forces in "pursuit of hope, tolerance and
held an iftar dinner for ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps
representing Muslim-majority nations.
dinner breaks the daylong fast that Muslims follow during Ramzan.
have been held regularly at the White House since the Clinton administration as
a form of outreach to the Muslim world.
said it's been a rough period recently for people of all faiths. He cited
attacks on Muslims in New Zealand, Christians in Sri Lanka and Jews in
California and Pittsburgh.
their blessed memories, we resolve to defeat the evils of terrorism and
religious persecution so that all people can worship without fear, pray without
danger and live by the faith that flows from their heart," he said.
earlier, Trump had harshly criticized one of two Muslim women in Congress,
Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, claiming in a tweet that "she
obviously has tremendous hatred of Israel and the Jewish people. Can you
imagine what would happen if I ever said what she said, and says?"
have seized on her use of the words "calming feeling" when she thinks
of the "tragedy of the Holocaust," the suffering of her Palestinian
ancestors and the state of Israel.
remark instantly ignited an online fight, with Republicans incorrectly describing
Tlaib's words as reflecting her feelings about the genocide that cost millions
of lives. Democrats defended Tlaib, saying her words have been twisted and
turned into a "right-wing smear campaign.
Lakhimpur: Amidst the election battle afflicted with communal undertones, the
reports of a Hindu family donating their land for a Muslim burial ground brings
a sense of relief that our foundational basis of harmony and fraternity yet
all religious barriers and communal animosity, a Hindu family have donated 0.84
acres of land to the Nahar Pukhuri Kabrastan (graveyard), which is located near
the North Lakhimpur railway station in Assam. The donor family has been
recognized as that of late Karunakanta Bhuyan which stays at Gorehaga village.
governing body of the graveyard felicitated the donor family on May 4, with the
chairman, Dr. Hamidur Rahman, expressing his gratitude to all the people
involved in this noble cause.
is significant to note that the burial ground shares its border with a Hindu
in 2017, there were reports of a Muslim family donating 1,905 square feet of
their land for the expansion of Hanuman temple in Sheopur, Madhya Pradesh.
Javed Ansari, the donor, had said “I have donated this land to Hanuman Mandir to
send out a message of communal harmony. I believe that such gestures will
increase brotherhood between the Hindu and Muslim communities.”
in Assam, a group of locals, cutting across religious lines, were tirelessly
helping the Muslims shift the 100-year old, two-storeyed minaret in Puranigudam
area in Nagaon district after there was a fear of its demolition for the
expansion of the National Highway (NH)-37.
the entire nation is plagued with insecurity, with the brutal Babri Masjid
massacre yet fresh in mind and the Gyanpith mosque of Kashi feared to be next
in line, such selfless gestures give a hope that no matter how much the
religious fanatics try, love will always prevail.
Tihar jail, 150 Hindu prisoners observe roza in solidarity with Muslim inmates
least 150 Hindu prisoners are observing Roza (fasting) inside Tihar jail, a
senior prison officer said. Jail officers said the number of Hindu prisoners
who are fasting has increased this year.
year, 59 Hindu prisoners kept the month-long fast.
the 16,665 prisoners spread across different jails of Tihar, at least 2,658
prisoners — that include both Hindus and Muslims — are observing Roza. We have
made special arrangements for them. This year, the number of Hindu inmates
fasting has increased to thrice the number compared to last year,” said a jail
the first week of May, most Hindu prisoners lodged in different jails met their
respective jail superintendents and informed them that they, too, would fast
during Ramzan. The jail superintendents were, at the time, taking a headcount
of the prisoners observing Roza to make the arrangements.
officers said the Hindu prisoners gave different reasons why they were
observing the fast. “Most of them said they were doing it in solidarity for
their Muslim friends. Maybe they did not want to admit that they are turning to
religion after coming to prison. We have observed that 80%-90% of inmates
become religious inside prison. Religion is a way of finding peace. A few said
they believe they could be released early if they pray to God,” a senior jail
officer, who did not wish to be named, said.
jail officer said every year they see a similar trend during Navratri — the
nine-day Hindu festival. During Navratri, a large number of Muslim prisoners
fast with the Hindu inmates. “ This is common not only in Tihar but across
other prisons as well,” said the jail officer.
this year’s Ramzan, prison officials have made special arrangements such as
allowing religious heads to come to the prison and pray with the inmates. The
jail administration has also stocked dates and rooafza- commonly taken by those
fasting in Ramzan—which can be bought from the jail canteen.
Two Firebrand Clerics, Khadim Hussain Rivzi And Pir Afzal Qari Get Bail In
Pakistan’s two firebrand religious leaders who had been booked under sedition
and terrorism charges late last year, have been granted bail against surety
bond of Rs 5million (Dh130,000) each.
Hussain Rivzi, Chief of Tehreek-e-Labbaikh Pakistan (TLP), and Pir Afzal Qari,
Patron-in-Chief of the TLP were arrested after launching protests against the
government on the acquittal of Asia Bibi who was serving jail on blasphemy
Supreme Court ruled against the charges and acquitted Asia Bibi, who was also
allowed to leave the country earlier this month.
Rizvi and Qadri were granted bail after Asia Bibi left the country to join her family
and Qadri were taken into "protective custody" by the state during a
crackdown in November 2018, after the TLP announced it would observe martyrs’
day on November 25, 2018.
arrests followed weeks after the TLP led three-day protests across the country
against Asia Bibi's acquittal, according to Dawn, an English daily in Pakistan.
who had been booked under sedition and terrorism charges, had resigned from the
TLP on May 1 citing health issues and, on the court's earlier directions,
issued a public apology for his remarks.
two-member bench, comprising of Justice Qasim Ali Khan and Justice Asjad Javed
Gharal granted the bail till July 15.
high court pronounced the judgement it had reserved on May 10, on bail pleas
filed by Rizvi and Qadri, and rejected an apology submitted by Qadri over
incendiary remarks he made during a protest against the Supreme Court's
acquittal of Asia Bibi.
two leaders moved the high court for bail after an anti-terrorism court in
Lahore had rejected their request in a case lodged against them for launching a
violent protest against the acquittal of Asia Bibi.
blasphemy case against Asia Bibi is considered the most notorious case in the
country as it led to murder of Punjab governor Salman Taseer by his own
the governor of Punjab, Taseer had visited Asia Bibi in the prison prison in
a televised press conference, with Asia sitting veiled beside him, Taseer had
appealed to the president of Pakistan to pardon her.
a few weeks later, Taseer was assassinated in broad daylight by his own
the middle of Islamabad’s busy Kohsaar market, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, a
young police commando, shot the governor 27 times at point-blank range.
Qadri became a hero to millions. Handing himself over to the authorities, Qadri
told the police he did not have any regrets over killing Taseer — that it was
his religious duty.
was sentenced to death, and hanged to death in 2016, triggering protest across
the country by the TLP leadership.
Bibi was acquitted of blasphemy charges by the Supreme Court on October 31,
2018, after spending nine years in jail on death row. The ruling sparked
country-wide protests by religio-political groups especially by the TLP.
she was released from a Multan women's prison on November 7 last year, she was
flown to Islamabad via special aircraft, and then taken to an undisclosed
location amid tight security until her departure to Canada last week.
allegations against Asia Bibi were made in June 2009 when she was labouring in
a field and a row broke out with some Muslim women she was working with.
was asked to fetch water, but the Muslim women reportedly objected, saying that
as a non-Muslim she was unfit to touch the water bowl.
few days later, the women went to a local cleric and put forward the blasphemy
allegations, which Pakistan's Supreme Court threw out for lack of evidence.
cowed by Islamist bullies in Bangladesh
January, a group of masked men blocked some Catholic villagers who were heading
home from a church liturgy about 80 kilometers west of the Bangladeshi capital
of Dhaka and gave them a beating so severe at least one was hospitalized.
man was so traumatized by the attack that when he was discharged, he sought
refuge in another church-run sanctuary near his home in Uthali of Manikganj
District for a month.
villagers were too scared to revisit the church until police were deployed
there and started conducting patrols in its vicinity, according to Father
Thomas Corraya, who reported the mob attack to the authorities.
are much better now and we've been assured of more support from the
police," said the prelate, who serves as the resident priest for around
600 Catholics in Uthali.
he admitted he is still wracked with fear whenever he sets off for faraway
villages to offer pastoral services — never knowing if he will return home
unscathed or in one piece, if at all.
of the victims in the January attack had recently converted from Islam. Some
had reportedly received death threats from local Muslims after the church
welcomed 12 new Catholic converts in November.
Corraya said Uthali had been a "troublesome area" for a long time
before the beatings occurred.
constitution guarantees freedom of religion and anyone can convert to whatever
religion as they wish," he said.
problem is that Bangladesh is a Muslim-majority country and when Muslims
convert to other religions, it offends the sentiment of other Muslims."
Rahman, the chief of Shibaloy police station, under whose jurisdiction Uthali
falls, said his investigation had not concluded the attack was motivated by
anger over the victims' recent conversion.
being said, we are ready to assist the Church and Christian community in the
area. Police have been deployed to secure the Church and Christians will be
to other faiths is legal and nothing new in this part of the world, said Father
Albert T. Rozario, a Supreme Court lawyer and legal adviser of Dhaka
Archdiocese, which covers Uthali.
upon a time, all people in this land were Hindus, and then they embraced other
faiths including Islam, Christianity and Buddhism," he said. "People
are free to choose and practice their faith, but everything must be done the
right way and not through proselytizing for material gain."
said few people convert to Catholicism and the number remains roughly the same
don't encourage it, unless people approach us and follow due procedure,"
Father Rozario noted.
account for less than one percent or 600,000 of the country's 160 million
people. Catholics numbered about 350,000 as of 2017.
Uthali, the church's congregation has grown in recent decades thanks to an
influx of migrant workers and converts from Islam and Hinduism thanks to the
preaching of Protestant and Catholic missionaries.
Bangladesh Baptist Fellowship Church operated in the area from 1988-1997 but is
believed to have shut down due to heavy opposition from local Muslims.
missionaries from the Milan-based Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions
(PIME) stepped in to fill the vacuum the following year and remained active
there until 2015.
that period, missionaries set up a new church, two schools and two hostels to
strengthen the Catholic Church's presence in the area.
diocesan priests replaced PIME missionaries in 2015, at a time when Bangladesh
was experiencing a rise in Islamic militancy.
pledging allegiance to global terror outfits like Al-Qaeda and the so-called
Islamic State have murdered about 50 people including atheist writers, liberal
academics, gay activists, foreigners and religious minorities in various parts
of Bangladesh since 2013.
have also issued death threats to Catholic bishops, priests, other Christian
leaders, and aid workers based in various parts of Bangladesh.
2015, church officials had to transfer Father Dominic Rozario from Uthali to
the capital Dhaka after masked men raided his church at night looking after
motive remains unknown, but it is presumed the priest's missionary activities
in Uthali and other parts of Dhaka Archdiocese made him a target.
November of that year, an Italian priest was shot in northern Bangladesh — the
third attack on foreigners in months.
every country, minority communities face various threats from the dominant
group," Father Albert Rozario said.
is something we have to live with. We remain vigilant and seek protection from
the authorities when we need it."
group of Muslims and Christians have come together in Egypt to give their time
to help the needy of society.
the Cairo district of Masr El-Qadima, they are putting together Ramadan boxes,
filled with basic food items and provisions, which have been donated by
the past three years, landlord Atef William has been hosting the activities of
an organization called “Helm Establ Antar”, meaning the dream of Establ Antar,
the area where it takes place.
are all equals, we are Egyptians,” he says. “I was brought up not to
differentiate between people on the basis of religion.”
like Masr El-Qadima, the middle-class district of Shobra is considered to have
a high level of social coexistence with friendly residents.
Banayouty is a Christian. He organises an iftar tent that has been set every
Ramadan for the last 40 years. He works alongside elderly men who were
teenagers when the activity first started.
Ramadan table is called the National Unity Media, and it’s open to everyone -
Muslims, Christians, we don’t differentiate,” he explains. “As for me, I’ve
been attached to the month of Ramadan since the October War [1973 Arab–Israeli
War]. I was an officer, and we were fighting during Ramadan, and I could not
not fast with my soldiers. ”
and his neighbours are very proud to have kept the iftar activity going for
such a long time and they continue to reap the reward of the unity it brings
between their community.
app assesses Islamic preachers in Gaza
CITY, Gaza Strip — Gazans can now search for their preferred Islamic preachers
and rate their Friday sermons. The Information Technology Department at the
Hamas-affiliated Ministry of Religious Endowments in the Gaza Strip launched
April 29 “Al-Khotaba wal-Wiaz” ("Preachers and Sermons") smartphone
app, which is currently only available on Google Play, allows users to assess
the performance of preachers and post feedback on Friday sermons, which are
considered the most significant weekly religious event for Muslims. Efforts are
currently underway to make the app available for iPhone users in the App Store.
to Nael al-Dahshan, planning and policy director at the Ministry of Religious
Endowments, the app allows users to track their preferred preachers and locate
the mosque in which they are leading Friday prayers.
told Al-Monitor that preachers are evaluated by a system of one to five stars:
unacceptable (one star), acceptable (two stars), good (three stars), very good
(four stars) and excellent (five stars), which is also available on the
platform Khotaba that was launched by the ministry in January 2018.
users can also receive a reminder on Thursday evening of Friday prayers and the
name of the mosque where their favorite preacher will deliver the sermon. In
addition, a reminder of the five daily prayers can be activated, with the
option to set the azan (call to prayer) as the reminder ringtone. Attending the
Friday sermon is a religious obilgation in Islam.
Farhat, director of the ministry's Department for Preaching and Guidance, told
Al-Monitor that the app includes a biography of each preacher indicating his
certificates of Islamic studies and years of experience, "which helps
worshippers choose a preferred preacher.”
said, “Most importantly, the app — aimed at improving preachers’ performance —
allows the Ministry of Religious Endowments to learn more about each preacher
and how the public is receiving the weekly religious sermons. When a preacher
gets more than one negative feedback at more than one mosque, the ministry will
form a special committee to follow up on the evaluation."
added, “When a preacher fails to deliver a strong, convincing sermon and gets
negative feedback on the app, the ministry will surely let him go. We will not
keep any unqualified preachers."
explained that Friday sermon preachers ought to demonstrate in-depth knowledge
in Islamic and general culture, a high-level of memorization of the Quran and
the prophet's hadith or sayings, a convincing eloquent style and a complete
distance from partisan and political speeches in favor of certain political
app is great as it allows worshippers to rate preachers and give feedback of
their performance right after the end of the sermon to the Ministry of
Religious Endowments,” Ismail al-Aklouk told Al-Monitor. “Sometimes during the
sermon, preachers provide false historical or Islamic information. Many
worshippers feel the urge to correct them but interrupting the sermon is not
believes that the app serves both worshippers and preachers, as it allows users
to assess sermons and it is an opportunity for the preachers to see the
worshippers' ratings and feedback.
al-Bazm told Al-Monitor, "The internet has contributed to the enrichment
of religious content on religious websites. Preachers are no longer the only
source of religious and faith information. Today worshippers look for
distinctive preachers who manage to reinvent themselves and with a deep Islamic
culture [whose sermons they decide] to listen to during Friday prayers.”
said, “There is growing dissatisfaction among worshippers toward preachers who
mix politics and religion and use their platforms to support or defend a
certain political party from a very personal perspective, which is getting
added that the app is very useful to track the best-ranking preachers who
distance themselves from partisan and political discourse and to submit a
complaint about politically charged sermons or extremist and hate speeches
upholding negative messages, such as ostracizing non-Muslims, for instance.
Murtaja, a resident of Gaza City, told Al-Monitor that he is surprised by the
Gaza authorities’ interest in launching an app to assess the religious
performance of preachers and to develop religious institutions. However, he
would like to see apps developed for other government services, too.
am all for a religious app given the religious nature of Palestinian society,
but why not launch similar apps to develop other government services and to
assess the performance of public workers in the different public departments,
especially in the ministries of Education and Health,” he noted.
to the Department for Preaching and Guidance, the Gaza Strip has 888 mosques
and 1,341 preachers, 965 of whom hold Islamic religious certificates and 376
various other academic degrees.
Charlotte Graham-McLay and Adam Satariano
New Zealand — Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand will attempt this
week to use the terrorist attack that killed 51 Muslim worshipers in
Christchurch mosques in March to demand that the biggest internet platforms do
more to stamp out violent and extremist content.
Ardern will be in France with President Emmanuel Macron to sign an agreement
they crafted called the “Christchurch Call” that asks the social media giants
to examine the software that directs people to violent content, and to share
more data with government authorities and each other to help eradicate toxic
online material, according to officials from New Zealand and France involved in
drafting the proposal.
accused gunman’s use of social media to live stream his rampage in New Zealand
and to share a hate-filled manifesto crystallized the vulnerability of internet
platforms to extremist and violent views.
Ardern’s effort adds momentum to a global push to curb the power of the world’s
largest internet platforms.
even as policymakers agree that something needs to be done, there’s little
consensus on what to do. From London to New Delhi, governments are drafting
laws with differing approaches to regulating the internet, raising concerns in
some quarters that the rules may, in some cases, go too far and hinder free
Ardern has argued that a coordinated global approach is needed. The signing of
the Christchurch Call was organized around a meeting of digital ministers from
the Group of 7 nations this week in Paris.
from Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter are among those scheduled to
attend the summit on Wednesday hosted by Mr. Macron and Ms. Ardern. Facebook,
Google and Microsoft said they would sign the pledge. Twitter declined to
number of nations are expected to sign on to the nonbinding pledge, including
Britain, Canada, Jordan, Senegal, Indonesia, Australia, Norway and Ireland,
according to officials involved in drafting the accord. The United States,
which has been reticent to regulate the internet out of concerns it will harm free
speech, is not among the expected signers.
pledge does not contain enforcement or regulatory measures. It will be up to
each country and company to decide how to carry out the commitments, according
to two senior New Zealand officials involved in the drafting, who spoke on the
condition of anonymity because the exact wording of the pledge was still being
media companies will be left with the thorny task of deciding what constitutes
violent extremist content, since it is not defined in the accord.
share the commitment of world leaders to curb the spread of terrorism and
extremism online,” Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president for global affairs,
said in a statement. “These are complex issues and we are committed to working
with world leaders, governments, industry and safety experts at next week’s
meeting and beyond on a clear framework of rules to help keep people safe from
Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive officer, was in France last week to meet
with Mr. Macron to discuss internet regulation. France has proposed laws that
would appoint a new government regulator to oversee internet platforms and
punish companies for hosting hate speech and violent content.
Ardern has been attempting to build a global consensus on reining in violence
and extremism social media since the March 15 attacks, in which the Australian
man accused of the shooting — who faces dozens of murder and attempted murder
charges — broadcast part of the massacre live on Facebook.
this month, she said she wanted action that went beyond “takedown policies that
are enforced through government regulation.”
much of what we’re trying to do is about preventing these platforms being used
in that way at all,” Ms. Ardern said.
the pledge isn’t enforceable, Ms. Ardern and Mr. Macron hope an accord tied to
the Christchurch massacre will prod the internet companies into action. If
improvements aren’t made, the officials said, tougher mandatory regulations
pledge asks for several commitments from technology companies, including robust
enforcement of their terms of service, reducing the risks of live streaming and
sharing research about the software that flags objectionable content. Versions
of the gunman’s video have remained on Facebook and Instagram since the
social giants must also promise to re-evaluate their algorithms that direct
users to extremist content, and commit to redirecting people looking for
extremist material. Instagram has deployed that measure to help users searching
images of self-harm.
the agreement, governments must make a range of promises, including adopting
and enforcing laws that ban objectionable content — as New Zealand did in the
wake of the attacks by making the possession or sharing of the gunman’s video a
crime — and setting guidelines on how traditional media outlets can report
terrorism without amplifying it.
Zealand officials visited the United States for meetings at the White House and
the State Department to urge the administration to join the pact. Officials
also visited the headquarters of technology companies, said a senior New
Zealand official who attended the meetings.
from American officials included how the pledge would affect First Amendment
rights to free speech, several officials said. Ms. Ardern has said she was
deliberately avoiding a broader debate about hate speech to focus the pledge
narrowly on violent content.
isn’t about freedom of expression; this is about preventing violent extremism
and terrorism online,” she said last month. “I don’t think anyone would argue
that the terrorist had a right to live stream the murder of 50 people.”
May 13, 2019
earlier version of this article said misstated Australia’s expected position on
the new measures. It is expected to sign on to the nonbinding pledge.
Graham-McLay reported from Wellington, New Zealand, and Adam Satariano from
the past five years, Joyce Griffis and Congregation Chaim B'Derech have held a
Holocaust March for Remembrance in Russellville, Arkansas. It's always been
solemn and peaceful.
year's march was supposed to be like all the others; attendees would march down
Main Street, listen to speeches and offer prayers to commemorate and remember
the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis during World War II.
white supremacists showed up holding Nazi flags, marching down an otherwise
deserted sidewalk and signs that read, "The Holocaust didn't happen but it
should have," while screaming references to Holocaust victims as
"your imaginary 6 million."
white supremacists carried crosses -- at least one was stained red -- alongside
a picture of Jesus.
10 to 15 protesters tried to disrupt the event; they were outnumbered by the
roughly 50 people attending the Holocaust Remembrance march.
marched for Holocaust victims but were flanked by Nazi flags
said she had heard rumors that her event in remembrance of Holocaust victims
would be protested by white supremacists. Two days before the event, the rumor
became reality -- the police chief in Russellville, some 77 miles northwest of
Little Rock, called telling her there would be protesters while she and others
gathered to remember.
Griffis admits that it did make her nervous, there was never any thought of
canceling the event.
I were the only person there, I would be there," she told CNN. "That
is why the Holocaust happened in the first place -- good people saying
estimates about 50 people attended her event along with roughly 10 to 15 protesters
-- many of whom wore face coverings, according to video from the event.
State Police troopers escorted the remembrance marchers as they made their way
through the roughly half-mile route around the center of Russellville.
they marched, the white supremacist group followed with Nazi flags and placards
in hand. Amateur video from the march shows one protester flashing a white
power hand sign.
sent protest organizer Billy Roper a number of questions in the days after the
protest, but he has not responded. On his blog, he says he organized his group
to protest what he called an "anti-Christian Holocaust Remembrance
tried to shout down Jewish WWII vet
to the event's main stage, the speeches Griffis had organized began as the
protesters' yelling continued.
Wolfson, 96, a Jewish WWII veteran, was first to speak. He saw the horrors of
the Holocaust directly as he helped liberate the Nazi concentration camp at
Dachau in Germany .
opened up the boxcars and there were bodies of men, women and children stacked
up in those boxcars," Wolfson said slowly, recounting his experience.
he spoke on Sunday, protesters holding flags emblazoned with the same Nazi
swastika as the banners he had helped tear down decades earlier tried to
interrupt his speech with shouts and megaphones.
called the next speaker, Arkansas Tech University English professor Sarah
Stein, out by name.
have never had an experience like that, but I knew that I had to speak for my
people and for all people who white supremacists would wish to oppress or
destroy altogether," she told CNN later. "I stood up to them for the
same reason I'm standing against the scholarship at my university."
Tech scholarship controversy is part of white supremacist protest
scholarship that Stein referred to was the focal point of Roper's call for
others of a like mind to join him in marching, shouting and sloganeering
against the Holocaust remembrance group.
over the new scholarship at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville named for
a now-deceased professor, Michael Link, has grown into a groundswell of
opposition from the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish leaders.
purportedly taught that Holocaust denial is a valid historical viewpoint.
has obtained a 2005 confidential letter sent to the university president at the
time, Robert Brown, from James Moses, a history professor at the school. The
letter accuses Link of assigning materials during a graduate seminar that said
that the Holocaust never happened.
an email to CNN, Moses confirmed he wrote the letter. Although Moses said he
didn't know Link's intent with the assignment when he sent the letter, he
assumed the worst and he wanted to get the administration's attention so they'd
"derail" the seminar. Moses told CNN that when Link was confronted,
he "denied any attempt to deny the Holocaust," and instead claimed he
was trying to "offer the widest possible range of views on the
administration was "not satisfied" with Link's explanation, according
to Moses, so it took action. He says that Link was "disciplined in as
severe a means as was available short of his firing."
says Link -- who was tenured at the time -- was removed from the graduate
faculty and barred from teaching any courses the following semester.
graduate seminar did continue, but the Holocaust was removed as a topic and the
disturbing reading material was removed from the course, according to Moses.
university refused to confirm that Link was disciplined following the letter,
saying it doesn't confirm, deny or comment on personnel disciplinary matters.
stressed this was the only accusation against Link he knows of. He said he
believes Link's intent in 2005 was "probably" to present Holocaust
denial as a legitimate, "valid historical viewpoint."
university president Robin E. Bowen told CNN in a statement that the university
does not condone teaching anti-Semitism or Holocaust denial.
generations of Arkansas Tech University students learned history from Dr.
Michael Link," the university said in a statement announcing the
scholarship for the professor who taught for 51 years until his death in 2016.
"Provisions in his will and estate plan have ensured that his influence at
ATU will continue well into the future."
so a scholarship bearing Link's name will be awarded annually to a senior
history major who has financial need.
why Sarah Stein is helping lead the fight against the scholarship, and why
Roper and his men singled her out as she spoke at the Holocaust remembrance .
says it will keep the scholarship
Tech has come under increased pressure after the Anti-Defamation League, state
Jewish leaders and more than 40 Holocaust scholars wrote a letter on April 18
to the university, asking that school officials reconsider the scholarship,
which has yet to be awarded.
2005 letter and Link's own writing were cited in that letter.
protesters also have demanded the university to reverse its decision, according
to CNN affiliate KLRT.
assessing the entirety of another person's life after it is complete is a
difficult, and perhaps impossible, task," Bowen told CNN in a statement.
"We have taken the concerns seriously and have reviewed the evidence at
hand. Through our process, we have not found evidence supporting the claims
against the late Dr. Michael Link."
are no plans to return the funds, the university says, and the name of the
scholarship will remain.
President Donald Trump warned on Monday Iran would “suffer greatly” if it
targeted US interests after Washington deployed an aircraft carrier and more
jet fighters at a time of rising tensions with Tehran.
see what happens with Iran. If they do anything, it will be a very bad
mistake,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “If they do anything they
will suffer greatly.”
comments came after the United Arab Emirates reported four commercial vessels
had been sabotaged on Sunday near Fujairah emirate just outside the Strait of
Hormuz. Iran sought to distance itself from the incident.
withdrew last year from a 2015 pact between Iran and global powers aimed at
reining in Tehran’s nuclear plans. Since then, the United States has ratcheted
up sanctions on Iran, saying it wanted to reduce its oil exports to zero.
European Union strongly advises avoidance of any “military escalation” against
Iran as the United States keeps piling pressure on the Islamic Republic and
trying to force other countries to follow suit.
foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini made the remarks in Brussels on Monday
after a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers. The summit was crashed by US
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who reportedly tried to sell Washington’s hard
line on the Islamic Republic.
however, argued that "maximum restraint and avoiding any escalation on the
military side" would be "the most responsible" course of action.
heard that very clearly today from us, not only from myself, but also from the
other ministers of EU member states,” she added. The top US diplomat had to
shave a day off a planned visit to Russia to jet into the summit.
are living in a crucial delicate moment,” Mogherini noted, adding, "We, as
you know, as the European Union, always encourage dialog and diplomatic
engagement. This has always been our commitment. This is what we are
practicing, including with Iran.”
is the alleged brain behind the administration of US President Donald Trump’s
policy of “maximum pressure” against Iran. The policy also has National
Security Adviser John Bolton as the person trying his best to escalate it into
the approach, the US left a multi-lateral nuclear deal with Iran, which has the
UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany as its other signatories, last year. It
then reinstated the sanctions that had been lifted under the accord. The moves
came while the deal had been ratified in the form of a United Nations Security
Council resolution, making Washington culpable for violating international law.
has also been trying to reduce Iran’s oil exports to “zero,” and sent an aircraft
carrier strike group, a bomber squad, an amphibious assault ship, and a Patriot
missile battery to the Middle East to try to stack up pressure on Tehran.
Europeans have, time and again, declared that they would be staying true to the
deal and make up for the US’ withdrawal from the agreement.
likewise said, “There is full determination on the European Union's side, and
also all the member states expressed that today very clearly on continuing to
implement it at full the nuclear deal with Iran."
however, has complained about Europe’s failing to act on its verbal support for
the deal by continuing trade with Iran despite the US sanctions.
May 8, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani announced a decision made by the Supreme
National Security Council, the country’s top security body, to suspend the
implementation of some of the Islamic Republic’s commitments under the
EU official claimed the Brussels meeting saw the ministers addressing ways to
conduct financial transactions with the Islamic Republic despite the bans.
January, the UK, France, and Germany announced the Instrument in Support of
Trade Exchange (INSTEX), a non-dollar direct payment channel with Tehran.
B-52H Stratofortress bombers, sent to the Middle East amid the United States’
anti-Iran deployment, have carried out their first mission, says the US Air
Forces Central Command.
said in a brief statement on Monday that the mission was launched from a US
base in Qatar Sunday.
was the first mission of the Bomber Task Force deployed to U.S. Central Command
area of responsibility in order to defend American forces and interests in the
region,” read the statement, released along with purported images of the
announcement came as US officials were stepping up rhetoric against Tehran in
the wake of US unilateral pressure.
Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) aerospace division General Amir Ali Hajizadeh
asserted Sunday that the US forces stationed in the Persian Gulf “will be hit
on the head” if they make a mistaken move.
‘happy people’ in Iran, Trump threatens
Donald Trump has, for his part, claimed Iranians “will suffer greatly” if “they
do anything” against the US.
see what happens with Iran, if they do anything it will be a very bad mistake
if they do anything. I'm hearing little stories about Iran if they do anything
they will suffer greatly we'll see what happens with Iran," Trump said at
a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in the Oval Office of the
White House. "We'll see what happens. It's going to be a bad problem for
Iran if something happens I can tell you that, they're not going to be happy,
they are not going to be happy people. You can figure it out yourself. They
know what I mean by it.”
anonymous US official has also been quoted by Reuters throwing baseless
accusations against Tehran in the wake of a “sabotage operations” against
tankers near the United Arab Emirates.
official acknowledged that Washington has no conclusive proof showing that Tehran carried out attacks
against the four tankers.
is what Iran does ... The sort of thing you could see Iran doing ... It fits
their M.O. (modus operandi)," the official reportedly said on condition of
Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters Friday that the US was
sending a Patriot missile battery and the USS Arlington amphibious transport
dock to the region.
arson attack over the weekend on a mosque in the U.S. state of Connecticut
caused "large-scale damage," an official Turkish body said Monday.
a statement, the Religious Services Attache of the Turkish Consulate General in
New York said an investigation is underway into the fire at Diyanet Mosque in
the city of New Haven and efforts are continuing to catch the perpetrators.
fire occurred around 4 p.m. Sunday, the seventh day of Ramadan, a holy month
during which Muslims fast and pray. Fasting is one of the five pillars of the
religion of Islam.
reward of up to $2,500 has been offered for any information that leads to the
arrest or conviction of the perpetrators, according to officials.
statement said the fire started at the mosque’s entrance and reached the third
floor through the exterior side of the building.
was no loss of life or injury in the fire, but it is determined that the mosque
has suffered large-scale damage. Tons of water used to put out the fire [also]
caused damage to the building's unburnt part," it said.
incident saddened the Turkish community in the United States, primarily in New
Haven, the statement added.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called the arson "heinous" and said
the perpetrators should be identified and "sentenced swiftly".
claims 'province' in India, officials call it 'propaganda'
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) has claimed for
the first time that it has established a "province" in India, a claim
that police in India-administered Kashmir have described as "pure
ISIL claim followed a clash between armed rebels and security forces in the
disputed Kashmir region in which a fighter with alleged ties to the group was
killed on Friday.
on Friday, ISIL's Amaq News Agency said in a statement that it called the new
province "Wilayah of Hind", and also claimed the group inflicted
casualties on Indian army soldiers in the town of Amshipora in
India-administered Kashmir's Shopian district.
ISIL statement corresponded with an Indian police statement on Friday that an
armed rebel called Ishfaq Ahmad Sofi was killed in an encounter in Shopian,
Reuters news agency reported on Saturday.
is pure propaganda. The militancy part of the ISIL is over in Kashmir
completely. However, the ideological inclination is there to some extent,"
a senior police official in India-administered Kashmir told Al Jazeera on
condition of anonymity.
police officer added that Sofi was the last ISIL fighter in Kashmir. "One
more was there but he joined another armed group," he said.
Katz, director of the SITE Intel Group that tracks armed fighters, told Reuters
that the ISIL claim "should not be written off".
establishment of a 'province' in a region where it has nothing resembling
actual governance is absurd, but it should not be written off," said Katz.
world may roll its eyes at these developments, but to jihadists in these
vulnerable regions, these are significant gestures to help lay the groundwork
in rebuilding the map of the ISIL 'caliphate'."
to bolster standing?
statement establishing the new province appeared to be designed to bolster its
standing after the group was driven from its self-styled "caliphate"
in Iraq and Syria in April, where at one point it controlled thousands of miles
has stepped up hit-and-run raids and suicide attacks, including taking
responsibility for the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka that killed at least
had been involved in several rebel groups in Kashmir for more than a decade
before pledging allegiance to ISIL, according to a military official and an
interview given by Sofi to a Srinagar-based magazine sympathetic to ISIL,
was suspected of several grenade attacks on security forces in the region,
police and military sources said. "It was a clean operation and no
collateral damage took place during the exchange of fire," a police
spokesman said in the statement on Friday's encounter.
military official said it was possible that Sofi was the only fighter left in
Kashmir associated with ISIL.
have for decades fought an armed conflict against Indian rule in
Muslim-majority Kashmir. The majority of these groups want independence for
Kashmir or to join India's archrival Pakistan.
have not, like ISIL, sought to establish an empire across the Muslim world.
powers India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir, and came closer to
the brink of a third earlier this year after a suicide attack by a
Pakistan-based group killed at least 40 paramilitary police in the
Indian-administered portion of the Himalayan territory.
spokesman for India's home ministry, which is responsible for security in
India-administered Kashmir, did not respond to a request for comment, Reuters
polling in areas dominated by Muslims could influence results in Delhi
DELHI: While Delhi registered an overall turnout of 60.5% in the Lok Sabha
polls — lower than the 65.1% seen in 2014 — in what could have a significant
impact on the results, the constituencies with a sizeable population of Muslims
saw an impressive voting percentage.
Ballimaran reported 68.3% polling, Matia Mahal and Seelampur were not far
behind at 66.9% and 66.5%, respectively. Trilokpuri polled 65.4%, Mustafabad
65.2%, Babarpur 62.1% and Chandni Chowk 59.4%. Okhla was one of the exceptions,
recording a much lower 54.8% turnout.
of the Muslim vote is likely to go to either Congress or AAP, but insiders in
both parties are worried about a vote-split actually helping BJP. At the same
time, Congress is confident of doing well, assuming that people would prefer
voting for a national party with the larger picture in the mind.
voters TOI spoke to said that while the AAP government in Delhi had done some
good work, national agendas mattered more in the Lok Sabha elections. But there
were some who claimed that they had gone for the Arvind Kejriwal-led party because
of the development work done by it in the capital.
meanwhile, blamed a “weakening connect” between voters and candidates for the
dip in the overall figures. “Leaders have overshadowed candidates during
campaigning and local issues have not been highlighted properly. Also, heat
could have forced many people to stay home,” said Ravi Ranjan, who teaches
political science at DU.
highest turnout was seen in North East Delhi constituency at 63.45% whereas New
Delhi was at the bottom with a disappointing 56.9%. North East has large
pockets of unauthorised colonies populated by migrants from Bihar and eastern
Delhi, on the other hand, is a predominantly urban constituency, dominated by
government employees, traders and middle-class voters.
Basti, under Chandni Chowk constituency, populated mainly by working
middle-class, traders and slum voters, saw the highest turnout among all
assembly segments at 68.7%. Delhi Cantonment was at the other extreme, at
middle-class vote is likely to be divided between the three parties. Those
voting for BJP have been attracted by the Modi factor and the party’s pitch of
a strong leadership for national security. Others have appreciated the work
done by AAP government in education and health sectors. Congress, on the other
hand, is banking on “change” at the central level.
foreign minister Javad Zarif arrived in New Delhi late on Monday on an
unscheduled visit to lobby for India’s support in the face of rising tensions
between Iran and the US, people familiar with developments said.
last visited India in January, and the current trip was organised at short
notice at Tehran’s request, the people cited above said. Zarif will meet
external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday morning before leaving India
in the afternoon.
has been hit by the US decision to end exemptions to sanctions on Iranian oil
imports. Tehran was among New Delhi’s top three energy suppliers, providing
23.6 million tonnes of oil last year, or about 10% of the country’s energy
sanctions were imposed after President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the
2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. Last week, Iran said it would
begin enriching uranium at higher levels within 60 days if the world powers
failed to agree on new terms for the nuclear deal.
US sanctions on Iranian oil imports and the tensions between Tehran and
Washington are expected to figure in talks between Zarif and Swaraj. Zarif is
expected to brief the Indian side on his country’s position on the tensions.
ambassador Ali Chegeni said last week that while India will decide on future
oil imports according to its national interests, New Delhi is not expected to
ignore a reliable energy supplier such as Tehran.
also said India, as a country that welcomed the Iran nuclear deal and as a “big
partner of the US”, should “defend the deal” and talk to the Americans about
the need to protect the arrangement.
Iran-US tensions spiked after Washington said Tehran was preparing for some
kind of an attack and dispatched warships, including an aircraft carrier, and
B-52 bombers, to the region. Iran has vowed to retaliate if it is attacked.
Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a petition seeking
advancement of voting time from the scheduled 7 am to 4.30-5 am to allow
Muslims to vote before beginning their Ramzan fast.
bench of justices Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna dismissed a plea by advocate
Mohd Nizamuddin Pasha who had challenged Election Commission's refusal to
accede to his request. He said given the heatwave conditions, it would be
better if the voting time was advanced to 4.30-5am so that Muslims who fasted
during Ramzan could vote early.
Two youngsters suspected to be terrorists from South Kashmir with intensions of
joining the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) were arrested early on Monday in Ramban
district. One AK-47 rifle, ammunition and Indian currency was also recovered
from their possession.
sources said the arrest was made during a joint operation by Police Component
(Gool), 58 Rashtriya Rifles and 9 Para (special forces) at about 3.30am in the
Hara area of Gool, following a tip-off about suspicious movements in the area.
two youngsters have been identified as residents of Awantipore in Pulwama and
Malipura in Kulgam. "Sources confirmed that both intended to join
terrorist cadre of Lashkar-e-Taiba,” said Lt Col Abhinav Navneet, PRO (Defence)
sources said they were acting on the instructions of Naveed (alias) Abu Talla,
an active militant of LeT.
timely apprehension of suspected terrorists and recovery of war-like stores has
thwarted the nefarious design of terrorist organization to spread the 'Arc of
Terrorism' south of Pir Panjal Range," Col Navneet stated.
AK-47 rifle, 30 rounds and a magazine, and Rs 8771 in Indian currency were
recovered from their possession, cops said.
economy in doldrums, Pakistan Army's Imran Khan project is failing
government and its army handlers are in a disarray. And the reason is not some
concerted domestic political opposition or foreign pressure; it is the sheer
incompetence of the army’s political protégés and the outfit’s ignominious
tradition of biting off more than it can chew.
economy is in a virtual free-fall and the blame for it rests squarely with the
army, which had upset the applecart of democracy by engineering former Prime
Minister Nawaz Sharif’s ouster in 2017. Within a span of the past few weeks,
finance minister Asad Umar – touted for a decade as the economics whiz-kid –
was unceremoniously shown the door, the State Bank of Pakistan’s governor eased
out and the chairman of Federal Bureau of Revenue was fired.
the face of a massive economic turmoil, cricketer-turned-politician Imran
Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) government, which was virtually installed
into power by the country’s powerful army last year through a stolen election,
is running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Most, if not all,
economic indices are headed in the wrong direction. The GDP growth has taken a
nosedive from 5.4% in 2017 to 3.9% in 2019, while inflation skyrocketed from
4.2% in 2017 to 9.4% now and is projected to hover above 7% for the next fiscal
year as well.
measly economic growth puts Pakistan at number six among its South Asian peers
– a notch above Sri Lanka and Afghanistan – but behind even Nepal and Bhutan.
The country has consistently trailed India and Bangladesh on economic growth
and human development indicators for years on end. About a quarter of the
country’s over 220 million population is living below the national poverty line
and over 22 million children remain out of school.
with about $18 billion in fiscal shortfall, the PTI and the army approached the
issue with hyper-nationalist posturing; the government first claimed that it
won’t seek assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and then
dithered over it for months. The civil-military combine had put great hopes in
the so-called all-weather friends China, the Saudis and the UAE for a bailout.
But they were not able to get even half the amount needed to bridge the
country’s financial gap and remain current on its circular debt and imports
public debt at 70% of the GDP, foreign exchange reserves sitting at a paltry $9
billion, poor exports and high imports, falling expatriate remittances,
plunging stock market, a struggling industrial sector grappling with infrastructure
nightmares like water and power supply, and faltering cotton-driven
agroeconomics, the hyper-patriotic, chest-thumping Imran Khan and his backers
went begging the IMF – for the 22nd time in the country’s history! And not just
that, they agreed to install a new financial team that is essentially IMF and
World Bank officials on deputation to Pakistan to carry out its harsh terms for
the facility that is still being negotiated.
is lost on Khan and his task-masters, however, is that changing faces does not
change the fundamentals of the economy. First and foremost, the key to economic
development is political stability. By tripping democracy every step of the way
and toppling even the weak democratic governments, the Pakistan army has
repeatedly created uncertainty and chaos. And if there is one thing that the
market economy despises more than a recession, it is uncertainty.
confidence and spending, domestic industry, agriculture and stock markets, as
well as the foreign investment, all dwindle when a pall of political
uncertainty goes up over a country. Add to it the domestic Islamist terrorism
problem – entirely a blowback of the army’s disastrous policy of using
jihadists to prosecute its foreign policy – raging for a decade and a half, and
the country doesn’t exactly look like the Xanadu that foreign investors would
make a beeline for.
perpetual state of Cold War with Afghanistan and India, and the army’s refusal
to allow free trade with both, hampers not only the domestic entrepreneurs
seeking new markets but also disincentivises foreign investors. Political
volatility, teeming extremists and friction with neighbours along with the
perennial water, power, raw material and skilled labour shortages, have sunk
Pakistan to 136 out of 190 in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings.
flagship China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project with a purported $60
billion Chinese loans and investment, and a key component of China’s Belt and
Road Initiative (BRI), is increasingly looking like a road to nowhere. What was
trumpeted as an economic miracle in the works, has piled on external debt with
little to show in terms of infrastructure development and job creation. The
current-account deficit grew to over 5% of the GDP, thanks partly to borrowing
under CPEC contracts.
even Khan’s government has murmured about the opaque nature of the CPEC
projects and its viability in the context of massive debt burden, it is not at
liberty to openly discuss it, because of the army’s, which has remained the
mover and shaker of the project, overarching goal is security ties with China.
From enabling Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme to shielding the Pakistani
jihadi terrorists, China has pulled the army’s chestnuts out of many
geopolitical fires. And to this end, the army is willing to compromise on the
viability of an economic mega-project in the name of national interest and
security, which ironically it has anointed itself to define.
without opening up the trade with India and Afghanistan, the CPEC might remain
the pie in the sky or debt-trap which Pakistan may find itself difficult to
extricate from. Like the army’s monumental blunders in both all-out and proxy
wars with the neighbours and against its own people, the CPEC is a far cry from
being the economic game-changer that it was touted to be.
problem with the army’s obsession with becoming the sole arbiter of national
interest and security is that it has arrogated itself the right to dictate
domestic and foreign policies to suit that rather nebulous creed in which
Pakistan and Islam are somehow in perpetual danger and the army is the only
saviour they have. These twin delusions of paranoia and grandeur are actually
feigned and self-serving to justify the outfit’s chokehold on the country and
anyone questioning these khaki masters of disasters is smeared as a traitor,
sell-out and even outside the pale of Islam. By shutting out dissenting voices,
alternative points of view and critical assessments, the junta has become a
rather inbred clique that marches on from blunder to blunder.
army’s Imran Khan project was another such blunder, in which both the army and
Khan convinced each other that if somehow they get rid of the traditional
political forces – whom they labelled corrupt – they can put Pakistan on the
path to economic prosperity. The double-trouble was convinced that politicians
have hundreds of billions of dollars stashed away abroad, which the PTI would
somehow retrieve with the wave of a magic wand. Needless to say, that
particular bravado came to a naught.
PTI then launched a scheme for overseas Pakistanis to buy dollar bonds called
Pakistan Banao (Build Pakistan), which also fell flat. As the maxim goes, then
indecision has its own delays, and days are lost lamenting o’er lost days. All
these gimmicks and demagogy delayed the inevitable: seeking the IMF bailout.
is highly likely that the IMF will yet again throw Pakistan an economic
lifeline, but perhaps at more stringent terms and closer monitoring than it
might have done eight months ago. The IMF formula is rather well known, with
its insistence on recalibrating power prices upwards, removing subsidies,
propping up exports and broadening the tax base and stopping haemorrhaging through
evasion. At this late stage, it might break the free-fall but is unlikely to
stop the slide.
food commodities and energy prices rising, an element of public unrest, which
could morph into even an agitation against the PTI government, remains a real
possibility. While the PTI ended up eating a humble pie, the real egg is on the
army’s face, whose pet project Imran Khan is about to go belly up.
Unfortunately, in its political engineering experiments, the army has brought
Pakistan at the brink of bankruptcy and caused immense grief to its toiling
roadside iftar feeds thousands in Ramadan
Pakistan (AA): As the sun begins to fade in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan,
volunteers start fixing traditional delicacies and drinks on scores of tables
at different points of Karachi’s main University Road. Others roll large
plastic mats on the stony footpaths and fill them with food.
pull over hurriedly and join small crowds of people of all ages already
gathered around the tables or occupying the plastic mats. As the call for
maghrib (sunset) prayer resounds from a nearby Mosque, they break their fast.
group of volunteers hand packets of food and bottles of water and juice to the
fasting people sitting in their vehicles and public transport, who do not opt
50 meters away, a different group of volunteers makes preparations for dinner
to be served soon after iftar (fast-breaking). This all creates a brief traffic
jam at this portion of the road.
Ramadan, hundreds of stalls are set up at the corners of city roads by relief organizations,
and local residents where homeless people, vendors, rickshaw and taxi drivers,
laborers, beggars and even those who do not fast are served free food and
drinks for the whole month.
several points, dinner is also served.
few individuals had started to arrange roadside iftar during Ramadan for needy
people in Karachi — home to over 15 million people and the country’s commercial
capital — two decades ago, which now has become a tradition.
no time, this tradition was adopted by scores of other cities including the
capital Islamabad, where roadside iftar stalls feed tens of thousands of people
much so, the country’s tiny Sikh community has been hosting iftar for Muslims
in historic Qissa Khawani Bazaar and several other points in northwestern
Peshawar city for the last several years.
is my sixth year to break the fast here”, Abdul Hameed, an Afghan refugee, told
Anadolu Agency at a roadside stall on the University Road in Karachi.
together with his other colleagues work as a scavenger in the city’s eastern
district far from his residence, and cannot afford to buy iftar.
we cannot reach home on time due to traffic jams and scanty transport. This
(roadside stall) has resolved the iftar issue”, he added.
fasting people are served traditional delicacies — including samosa (a
deep-fried triangular savory pastry filled with potato and spices), pakora
(deep-fried spicy snacks made from gram flour), fruit chaat, dates, and juices.
dinner, Biryani (a spicy mixture of rice and meat) is the favorite dish of the
people of Karachi.
least in Ramadan, we fully fill our stomach”, Hameed said in a lighter vein as
his colleagues laughed loudly.
a rickshaw driver is another regular visitor of this site during Ramadan.
hard for me to go home [for iftar] and come back to work. Here, I get good and
enough food, and save money that I spend on my family,” he told Anadolu Agency.
Mohammad, one of the organizers, said he together with his friends and
philanthropists, has been arranging free iftar meals for the last 20 years in a
first to last (evening) of Ramadan, we break our fast with these people here.
sometimes our families also join us,” Zar Mohammad, who is also a prayer leader
at a Mosque, told Anadolu Agency.
finances, Mohammad said the friends and families themselves, area shopkeepers,
philanthropists and even common citizens, all chip in to arrange the event
during the holy month.
do not have to run here and there for finances. A month before (Ramadan), we
simply start to chip in and by the end of the month, we have plenty of funds to
manage this all,” he said, adding: “It has become a set tradition now. People
trust us, and hand over huge amounts even without disclosing their names.”
1,000 people, including travelers, are served every day during Ramadan at this
point, according to Mohammad.
Singh, who arranges iftar in Qissa Khawani Bazaar in Peshawar said he was
pursuing the mission of his late father who worked for interfaith harmony in
the last four years, I had been arranging iftar for my Muslim brothers here.
But this year, we have changed the strategy due to security threats,” Singh
told Anadolu Agency, referring to threats received by the organizers last year
from some militant groups that objected to their gesture.
some elements do not want interfaith harmony here,” he regretted, saying
“Therefore, this year we are distributing ration among needy Muslims, and
arranging iftar for prisoners in jail to avoid any mishap”.
Shaikh, a student of commerce faculty at Zulfikar Ali Bhutto University in
Karachi, was excited as it was his first day as a volunteer.
is our first day to serve here,” Shaikh said, with a nervous smile on his face
pointing at a group of 8-10 students who were given instructions by an
group plans to volunteer throughout the remaining days of Ramadan.
policemen were martyred while 11 others were injured in a blast in Quetta’s
Mini Market area on Monday.
blast took place near a police mobile which was also damaged in the explosion.
Soon after the attack, security forces arrived at the scene and cordoned off
Inspector General (DIG) Quetta Abdul Razzak Cheema confirmed the death toll and
said that explosives were planted in a motorbike. He said that the explosion
targeted police personnel, adding that the crime scene had been secured and
investigations were ongoing.
injured were taken to Civil Hospital for medical treatment emergency was
declared. Medical Superintendent (MS) Dr Saleem confirmed that four policemen
embraced martyrdom in the wake of the incident.
said that 11 wounded persons were brought to the hospital, out of which two
were in a precarious condition.
Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan condemned the blast and expressed over the
loss of lives in its wake. “Efforts are being made to sabotage peace under a
wicked conspiracy,” he said in a statement. “Those creating instability would
be fought back with full force.”
chief minister vowed to improve security arrangements by reviewing them
altogether. He also directed concerned authorities to provide best medical
facilities to the wounded persons.
blast comes only two days after three terrorists stormed the Pearl Continental
Hotel in Gwadar.
hotel employees ─ three staffers and a security guard ─
were killed and a navy soldier was martyred, while six people ─
army captains, two navy soldiers, and two hotel employees ─
were injured as gunmen stormed the luxury hotel.
attackers were killed by the security forces during the clearance operation
which went on for hours. Upon the completion of the clearance operation, the
security officials retained the bodies of the terrorists for identification.
attack was claimed by the banned Balochistan Liberation Army.
the aftermath of Gwadar attack, the Balochistan government tightened security
across the province. Chief Minister Jam Kamal chaired a high-level meeting
today to review security arrangements in Gwadar and other parts of the
army’s media wing thanked the media for its responsible reportage during the
operation, which “denied the terrorists of possible live updates” and
“facilitated the security forces in smooth execution of the operation”.
Saudi Arabia has executed a Pakistani man for smuggling heroin, said the
Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF).
Haider, son of Ghulam Hussain, who travelled from Sialkot to Jeddah on Dec 12,
2013, was caught by the Saudi police for possessing 500 grams of heroin.
case was finalised recently in which Imran was sentenced to death. The
punishment for carrying drugs — even in a small quantity — in Saudi Arabia is
the ANF seized 56.180kg of narcotics worth Rs174.74 million, arrested 16
culprits, including three women, and impounded three vehicles. The seized drugs
included 46.200kg of hashish, 7.650kg of heroin, 3,025 Xanax tablets and
1.940kg Amphetamine (Ice).
ANF conducted 15 counter-narcotic strikes in two weeks.
arrested a resident of Hangu from the Islamabad International Airport’s parking
area and recovered 5kg of hashish from his possession.
ANF recovered 6kg of hashish near Kamra Bus Stop, GT Road in Attock from a
resident of Upper Dir.
arrested a resident of Peshawar after recovering 14.4kg of hashish from his car
near Golra Morr, Kashmir Highway, Islamabad.
The Punjab Religious Tourism Committee has accorded approval to hold annual
celebrations according to the master plan on the 550th birth anniversary of
Baba Guru Nanak.
committee, led by Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, advised that the Kartarpur
Corridor should be completed within the stipulated period. Punjab Finance
Minister Hashim Jawan Bakht convinced the committee about the unhindered
delivery of funds for the payments of acquired land in Kartarpur and for
promotion of religious tourism including preservation of national heritage.
religious tourism committee met at Governor’s House and discussed issues
pertaining to promoting religious tourism and national heritage. The meeting
was attended by Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood, Adviser to PM Ameen
Aslam, Punjab Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakht, Religious Affairs Minister
Syed Sayedul Hasan Shah Bukhari, Auqaf Department Secretary Zulfiqar Ahmad
Ghuman, Secretary Services Abdullah Sumbal, Iftikhar Shah of PNDP, Commissioner
Lahore Dr Mujtaba Paracha, DC Nankana Raja Mansoor, representative of Nespak
Brig. Atif Hameed, representatives of FWO and the officials of Evacuee Trust
Property Board attended the meeting.
the meeting, Pakistan Railways CEO Aftaab Akbar briefed the committee about the
steps taken, to facilitate Sikh Pilgrimage at Nankana Sahib and the renovations
being carried out at railway stations to make travelling attractive. He assured
the committee that the work would be completed before November this year.
committee was also briefed about the development projects and the security
arrangements being carried out for Kartarpur Corridor.
committee also highlighted the need to revisit the security arrangements at
Data Darbar and all other religious sites of minorities to prevent unwanted
incidents. The committee condemned the terrorist attack near Data Darbar.
at the meeting, the governor said Pakistan had a potential to generate revenue
of $3.8 billion annually from tourism sector alone. The incumbent government
has decided to promote tourism in general and religious tourism in particular.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) on Monday reiterated its stance on
creating more administrative units in Sindh, explaining that it was demanding
the arrangement in order to ensure development and progress of all communities
living in the province.
at a press conference at the local press club along with many other senior
party leaders, MQM-P’s parliamentary party leader in the Sindh Assembly
Kanwar Naveed Jamil said that his party never disliked Sindh, its culture and
its people. “We firmly believe that Sindh is a land of rich culture while our
party’s grievance is against the biased government of Pakistan Peoples Party
(PPP) that seeks to deny Urdu-speaking people their due share in jobs and
development. PPP is not serving Sindhi-speaking people either.”
Jamil, who is also the party’s deputy convener, was accompanied by MPAs Rashid
Khilji, Nadeem Siddiqui and Nasir Qureshi, acting Hyderabad Mayor Sohail
Mashhadi, Masood Mahmood, Zafar Siddiqui, Rashid Khan and senior party
Jamil said that PPP’s “atrocities” against the people of Hyderabad continued
showed stacks of files to media personnel and said the files pertained to 5,000
jobs that had been earmarked for Hyderabad, but not a single resident of
Hyderabad and Qasimabad was recruited. He said these jobs were available in
different departments and the files contained full particulars of candidates
including their CNIC numbers, places and departments.
he said, in Karachi not a single resident of that city was appointed there as
jobs were doled out to other people.
he added, the jobs were sold in 75 per cent of cases. He said that it was a fit
case for National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
MQM-P leader said that 10 years down the road, the PPP government had not
executed a single development scheme for Hyderabad which had been capital of
Sindh for years.
said it showed PPP’s biased attitude, adding that no college or hospital was
built whereas billions of rupees were spent by Sindh government otherwise.
Jamil observed that whenever PPP formed its government ethnic tension was
seen, be it the government of [PPP founder chairman] Zulfikar Ali Bhutto or his
daughter Benazir Bhutto. Recalling the Pucca Qila operation of May 1990, he
said that police tried to invade it during Benazir Bhutto’s government. The
then MQM health minister got a medical college approved for Hyderabad in the
PPP-MQM coalition but the project remained incomplete to date.
complained that it was not the issue of funds or seriousness but “parochial
approach”. He said that even Benazir Bhutto flyover which he had started as the
district nazim remained incomplete to date because it passed through the midst
of Hyderabad to connect National Highway with the bypass.
Jamil pointed out that the trauma centre here was built in the district
government period but its equipment was shifted.
that MQM loved Sindh, its people and its culture, he said it was he who had
built a monument of Housh Mohammad Sheedi. Had a sculpture not been forbidden
in Islam, he would have built the same as well, he said. However, he added, PPP
even sold the land where Housh Mohammad Sheedi had fought a battle against the
British in Dubbo.
pointed out that a private housing scheme was launched where this battle was
fought. “The place should have been preserved as a heritage site; Sheedi’s
mausoleum could hardly be saved on a private land by diverting road,” he said.
senior MQM-P leader also noted that four sewerage treatment plants were built
but they remained dysfunctional. “Hyderabad city doesn’t get water from
Phuleli Canal for its residents but a treatment plant was built there to keep
the canal contamination-free and provide clean water to the people of Badin and
Tando Mohammad Khan.”
alleged that Rs2,000bn belonging to Sindh was stomached by chief ministers,
ministers and Omni Group.
noted that those who talked about the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award
were not able to utilise the funds released to their ministries.
said that it was because of MQM that NFC Award was not announced during the
Musharraf government without its due settlement.
accused PPP government of selling wheat stocks worth Rs11bn. He also alleged
that heritage buildings of Hyderabad had been destroyed for their [PPP
leaders’] personal greed and construction-related interests.
Jamil said that Urdu-speaking people had been tolerating “injustices” for 70
years and had been made to live like slaves. He said that MQM had hugged [PPP
co-chairman] Asif Ali Zardari when he approached the party and in return MQM
delegation offered fateha on the grave of [former chief minister] Syed Abdullah
Shah, the father of incumbent Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, as a goodwill
said PPP always heightened ethnic tension otherwise people like Ghaus Ali Shah,
Muzaffar Shah, Jam Sadiq and Arbab Ghulam Rahim also served as chief ministers
said that MQM-P believed in integrity of Sindh but conditions of cities — be it
Thatta, Jamshoro or Karachi — were worsening.
Akhtar Mengal, president of his own faction of the Balochistan National Party
(BNP-M), has refuted claims that a Baloch ‘missing person’ was among the gunmen
who attacked a hotel in Gwadar on Saturday.
a statement posted on Twitter on Sunday, Mr Mengal said that the person
identified as Hammal mentioned in the missing persons list given to the
government belonged to Kohlu and the terrorist identified as Hammal killed in
the Gwadar attack belonged to Kech Makran.
is a traditional Baloch name and there are thousands named after it. Not
everyone named Hammal can be a missing person or a terrorist,” he wrote,
calling people to not spread lies in the holy month of Ramazan.
Afghanistan — A Taliban attack on two aid organizations last week, the
deadliest episode in a recent surge of violence against humanitarian workers in
Afghanistan, is a signal to many that as peace talks falter, the insurgents are
lashing out against so-called soft targets.
attack killed three workers for CARE, the American aid group, and at least six
others, most of them civilians. Aid workers said the true death toll was 13. In
either case, it was the single biggest loss of life among the country’s 2,000
nongovernmental organizations in over a year.
bombing, which struck CARE and Counterpart International offices, came as the
sixth round of peace negotiations between the Taliban and Americans limped to
an end in Qatar. The Afghan government was excluded from the talks, which ended
after seven fitful days with a sense of fading optimism.
Taliban vowed that the assault on the aid groups would not be their last.
before the attack, casualties among aid workers had started to rise after
several years of decline. Through April, five aid workers had been killed, 12
injured and 18 abducted this year in Afghanistan, according to the United
Nations’ humanitarian coordinator, Toby Lanzer.
worrisome for humanitarian groups is the Taliban’s continued refusal to give
the International Committee of the Red Cross, by far the biggest aid organization
in the country, safe passage through areas they control.
April, the insurgents issued a statement saying that the Red Cross, which has
worked on both sides of the conflict’s front lines, and the World Health
Organization would be barred from Taliban areas because of what they called
Red Cross operates ambulance services, orthopedic clinics, hospitals, prison
visitations and other activities benefiting all sides in Afghanistan. The World
Health Organization carries out polio vaccinations; some Taliban-dominated
areas are among the few places in the world where the disease has not been
Monday, the Red Cross sent its vice president, Gilles Carbonnier, to meet with
the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, on the sidelines of peace talks with the Americans,
but there was no apparent breakthrough. A Taliban statement expressed the
obvious: “Both sides stressed that Afghanistan needs a great deal of
humanitarian aid and attention.”
Musawi, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross in Afghanistan, said, “We are in
dialogue about resumption of our activities for the people affected.”
peace talks in Qatar between the Taliban and the Americans proved briefer than
earlier efforts, ending with little apparent progress.
current pace of talks isn’t sufficient when so much conflict rages and innocent
people die,” the American negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad said Thursday in a
attacking the headquarters of Counterpart International, an American
organization, in Kabul, Afghanistan, the day before, the insurgents accused it
of engaging in anti-Islamic activity. Counterpart, which receives funding from
the United States Agency for International Development, is one of numerous
nongovernmental organizations that provide development services to governments
it happened, no one from Counterpart was killed. Its staff members had taken
refuge in armored safe rooms. But across the street at the offices of CARE,
which has operated in Afghanistan since 1966, three employees were among the
Taliban immediately doubled down.
Kabul attack on Counterpart is not the last attack,” Zabihullah Mujahid, the
Taliban spokesman, said on Twitter.
a telephone interview, Mr. Mujahid denied that any of the dead were civilians
and said that if anyone from CARE had been killed, it was accidental.
the attack, many foreigners and their slaves were killed,” Mr. Mujahid said.
“In fact, they did not allow reporters to go to the scene and report the
fact, Afghan and foreign journalists did go to the scene, and none of the dead
were foreigners. Only one of those killed was from the Afghan security forces,
a member of an elite police rapid response unit, and aid workers in the area
identified all of the others as civilians.
insurgents’ statement also complained that Counterpart’s mixing of men and
women in its projects had “resulted in rampant moral corruption,” raising
another concern for aid groups. Such mixing is commonplace in aid
organizations, especially those funded by the international community.
day after the attack in Kabul, the Taliban closed a dozen clinics run by an
Afghan aid group, Ahead, in Nuristan Province, according to Zakiullah Storay,
the head of the provincial health department.
year 2013 saw a high point in attacks on aid workers, both worldwide and in
Afghanistan, according to Aidworkersecurity.org, a database funded by
U.S.A.I.D. The United Nations said there were 237 attacks on Afghan aid workers
in 2013 through November, with 36 killed. Many of those deaths were in remote
rural areas and were attributed to cross-fire and accidents.
in January 2014, insurgents struck Taverna du Liban, a Kabul cafe popular with
foreigners, killing 21 people of 10 nationalities, many of them diplomats and
aid workers. The attack led to the departure of some aid groups, and a
widespread shift to using Afghan citizens in projects rather than foreigners.
number of aid groups working in the field in Afghanistan declined to 159 last
year, from 223 in 2013, according to United Nations data. In the intervening
years, attacks steadily decreased after relief groups took greater precautions
and insurgents pledged not to attack them.
Afghanistan remained one of the three most dangerous countries for aid workers,
according to the United Nations.
on aid workers began increasing again last year, a trend noted at the time by
Mr. Lanzer, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator. On Saturday, Mr.
Lanzer said that pattern had continued.
as concerned today, if not more so, than I was in August of last year,” he
was unclear whether the increase was the result of a shift of Taliban tactics,
or just the greatly increased tempo of the war this year, as both sides pushed
to improve their positions at the negotiating table.
Lanzer said he had often spoken to Taliban officials about the protection of
in all my conversations they have said aid organizations will not be targeted,”
he said. “So I think what happened this week is of particular concern. But I
would also add that any attack by any parties to the conflict that results in
civilian casualties cannot be justified.”
official at one relief organization, who said he was not permitted to speak
publicly about the attack, said that most groups still believed they would not
be targeted. This aid worker cited Counterpart’s involvement in political
activities like Afghan elections as the reason last week’s attack may have been
aid group Oxfam was among several that refused to make a distinction between
their work and that of Counterpart.
strongly denounce any attack on NGOs serving Afghans, as we see this as an
attack on Afghans themselves,” its country director, Ruby Ajanee, said.
far, Mr. Lanzer said, there has been no sign of aid workers’ leaving
Afghanistan or cutting back on their activities.
ethos as humanitarian coordinator is that nongovernment and U.N. agencies are
here as professionals and we will stay to continue to protect and deliver the
aid that the people of this country require,” he said.
Gall, head of Acbar, an organization that represents aid groups in Afghanistan,
said, “Giving aid is a neutral act.”
Rod Nordland on Twitter: @RodNordland.
Abed and Thomas Gibbons-Neff contributed reporting from Kabul, and Zabihullah
Ghazi from Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
May 12 (Xinhua) -- At least 13 Taliban militants were killed after clashes
erupted between police and militants in Afghanistan's southern province of
Kandahar on Saturday, Ministry of Interior Affairs said Sunday.
National Police came in contact with militants in Nadir Khan village, Maruf
district, Kandahar province; the clashes left 13 militants dead and nine others
wounded," the ministry said in a statement.
were no casualties on the side of national police, the statement added.
rages across the war-torn country and clashes between security forces and
Taliban have been continuing in at least 25 out of the country's 34 provinces
since early April when Taliban launched a yearly rebel offensive.
Sri Lanka (Reuters) - One person was killed in Sri Lanka on Monday as police
fired tear gas at mobs attacking mosques and Muslim-owned shops and imposed a
curfew after the worst outbreak of sectarian violence since the Easter bombings
by Islamist militants.
April 21 attacks, claimed by Islamic State, targeted churches and hotels,
mostly in Colombo, killing more than 250 people and fuelling fears of a
backlash against the island nation’s minority Muslims.
officer at the Marawila hospital police said a 42-year old man admitted to the
hospital with stab wounds had died. A Resident from the area who helped
transport the victim to hospital identified him as Mohamed Ameer Mohamed Sally.
in Muslim parts of North Western Province said mobs had attacked mosques and
damaged shops and businesses owned by Muslims for a second day.
are hundreds of rioters, police and army are just watching. They have burnt our
mosques and smashed many shops owned by Muslims,” a resident of Kottampitiya
area told Reuters by telephone, asking not to be identified for fear of
we try to come out of our house, police tell us to stay inside.”
imposed a nationwide curfew until from 9 p.m. (1530 GMT) to 4 a.m., spokesman
Ruwan Gunasekera said.
Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in a statement that acts of sabotage were
hampering an investigation by security forces and warned that “if the racism
rises up ... and peace is disturbed the country will be destabilized”.
intention of these groups who are causing violence is to cause disruption in
public life, and destabilize the country,” he said.
said he had given powers to the security forces to take strong action against
those disturbing the peace.
also imposed a temporary ban on social media networks and messaging apps
including WhatsApp after a clash in another part of the country was traced to a
dispute on Facebook.
police source said police had fired tear gas to disperse mobs in some places in
North Western Province.
make up nearly 10 percent of Sri Lanka’s 22 million people who are
predominantly Sinhalese Buddhists.
Reuters reporter saw a mob of several dozen young Sinhalese men wielding sticks
and rods in what appeared to be a standoff in the town of Madulla in North
anxious Muslims were hunkering down at home but young men, some of them
carrying rods, were still zipping around on motorbikes, despite regional
curfews from 2 p.m. before the nationwide curfew was imposed.
was strewn across the Abrar mosque in the town of Kiniyama that was attacked
overnight. All the windows and doors of the soft-pink building were smashed and
copies of the Koran were thrown onto the floor.
mosque official said the attacks were triggered when several people, including
some Buddhist monks, demanded a search of the main building after soldiers had
inspected a 105-acre (43-hectare) lake nearby.
suspect lakes and wells are being used as hiding places to conceal weapons.
34-year-old man who was at the mosque said about 150-200 came toward the mosque
with rods and swords on Sunday but the Muslims who were in the mosque persuaded
them to go away with the help of the police.
they came back and this time there were about 1,300 people. The Muslims,
huddled in the mosque, asked the police to fire in the air to disperse the mob,
but the police said the people wanted to inspect the mosque for weapons.
the crowd surged into the mosque and ransacked it, the witness said.
destroyed and burned Korans, broke every glass window and door and urinated on
the water storage which Muslims used to take ablution,” he said.
spokesman Gunasekera did not respond to a request for comment on the incident.
But in an emailed statement he said there had been some damage to property in
Hettipola area of Kurunegala district but no injuries reported.
police source said police also fired in the air the Hettipola area.
dozen people threw stones at mosques and Muslim-owned stores and a man was
beaten in the Christian-majority town of Chilaw on the west coast on Sunday in
the dispute that started on Facebook, police sources and residents told
said they arrested the author of a Facebook post, identified as 38-year-old
Abdul Hameed Mohamed Hasmar, whose online comment “1 day u will cry” people
said was interpreted as threatening violence.
media blocked again as a temporary measure to maintain peace in the country,”
Nalaka Kaluwewa, director general of the government information department,
told Reuters on Monday.
members of an al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist group have been charged with the
murder of two pioneering Bangladeshi LGBT advocates.
Mannan and Mahbub Tonoy, both 35, were hacked to death with machetes in April
2016 after a mob gained entry into Mannan’s house in Dhaka by pretending to be
was the editor of the country’s first LGBT magazine Roopbaan and organised its
first pride rally – the Rainbow Rally – an annual protest for recognition of
of the eight charged men belongs to Ansar al-Islam, a militant group which has
carried out violent attacks on Bangladeshi civil society figures it deems
‘enemies of Islam’.
victims have included atheist journalists, members of religious minorities and
foreign aid workers.
LGBT community has experienced its most brutal vilification.
group was behind the murder of Avijit Roy in 2015 – a secular blogger who
published a book in Bengali on homosexuality.
is also believed to have behind the murder of liberal writers Faisal Arefin
Dipan and Shahjahan Bachchu.
al-Islam is known to receiving financial and logistical support from al-Qaeda
while many of its original members were trained by the group in Afghanistan.
said it had encouraged the killings because Mannan and Tonoy – who both also
worked for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) –
aimed to ‘promote homosexuality’ in Bangladesh.
Bangladeshi government has done little to protect its vulnerable LGBT
Minister Sheikh Hasina represents the traditionally secular Awami League party
but she has adopted a hard line religious policy to appeal to an increasingly
Islamised electorate over the past decade.
government upholds the British colonial law which criminalises same-sex
relationships and she has turned a blind-eye to human rights abuses.
to Human Rights Watch, the LGBT community is regularly harassed by the
one incident in 2017, 28 members of the country’s transgender community, known
as hijra, were arrested and paraded in front of the media.
hostile attitudes towards members of the LGBT community from both religion and
state has seen many activists flee the country.
shadow district chief of Taliban for Parchaman district of Herat province was
killed along with five other militants in a U.S. airstrike which was carried
out in the vicinity of Shindand district.
military sources said Monday that an airstrike was carried out in Shindand
district of Herat province killing 6 Taliban fighters.
the meantime, the 207th Zafar Corps in a statement said the shadow district
chief of Taliban for Parchaman Hafiz Abdulhaq was among those killed.
statement further added that the airstrike was carried out by coalition forces
in support of the Afghan armed forces.
to 207th Zafar Corps, a Toyota Corolla type vehicle was targeted in teh
vicinity of Aab Khurmai area of Shindand.
least 4 people were killed and 20 others were wounded in a series of explosions
in Jalalabad city, the provincial capital of eastern Nangarhar province.
governor Shah Mahmood Miakhel said the explosives were planted in a number of
Rickshaws which were detonated among civilians on Monday evening.
further added that four civilians were killed and 8 others were wounded in the
to Miakhel, the health condition of a number of wounded civilians has been
reported as critical and there are fears that the death toll may further rise.
individual or group including Taliban has so far claimed responsibility for the
key Taliban group member who was involved in collecting Zakat (Charity) to fund
the operations of the group was arrested in central Logar province.
Ministry of Interior (MoI) in a statement said the suspect was arrested during
an operation of the Special Unit of Afghan Police.
statement further added that the operation was conducted in Mohammad Agha
district of the province late on Sunday night.
detained individual has been identified as Abdullah who is also accused of
having role in several other criminal incidents including armed robberies and
harassing the local residents, the Ministry of Interior added.
(Kurdistan 24) – As the harvesting season begins, Islamic State members have
warned farmers in the disputed town of Mahmour that they would need to pay
taxes to prevent their grain fields from being set on fire, a farmer told
Kurdistan 24 on Sunday. A delegation of farmers from Makhmour on Sunday visited
the parliament of the autonomous Kurdistan Region to present their concerns to
the top Kurdish legislative body.
it is harvesting time, and Da’esh [ISIS] has become a source of threats on
Mount Qarachukh,” Nasih Rahman, a farmer from Makhmour, told Kurdistan 24 at
the Kurdistan Parliament.
[ISIS militants] threaten our farmer brothers and those who own livestock of
burning the grain fields in the area should the farmers refuse to pay a tax,”
delegates met with both the parliamentary committees of Agriculture and
Irrigation and Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, the latter which focuses
on disputed territories claimed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and
the federal government of Iraq.
the meetings, the committee members and farmers held a joint press conference.
reached an agreement to increase the number of firefighters in those areas. We
also agreed to visit the region in the nearest future to meet with local
officials in Makhmour and discuss these threats,” Osman Kani Kurdayi, the head
of the Agriculture and Irrigation Committee, told reporters.
is a disputed territory located on the outskirt of the Kurdistan Region’s
capital, some 60 kilometers southwest of Erbil.
town used to be jointly administered by the two governments since the fall of
the Iraqi authoritarian regime in 2003.
the emergence of the Islamic State in 2014, throughout many disputed areas, the
Kurdish Peshmerga forces held their frontline and prevented militants and
sleeper cells from entering their territory despite the terrorist organization
controlling adjacent land.
in those areas, however, significantly deteriorated after Iraqi forces backed
by Shia militias, in response to the Kurdistan Region’s September 2017
independence referendum, overran Kirkuk and other disputed territories and
drove Kurdish forces out.
October 2017, Iraqi forces have been in charge of protecting the area, but
locals question their abilities.
described the Islamic State militants as fearless and out in the open,
approaching people and forcing them to pay taxes or give them livestock.
the past years, the US-led coalition along with Peshmerga forces and Iraqi
troops have launched several military operations to eliminate sleeper cells
hiding on Mount Qarachukh.
the past few months, dozens of villages in Makhmour have been evacuated, with
residents warning of the reemergence of the Islamic State in the area.
extremists using Instagram to promote jihad and incite support for terror
attacks on the West
extremists are using Instagram to promote jihad and incite support for terror
attacks on the West, an investigation by The Telegraph has found.
are circumventing the platform’s security checks to post images and text
celebrating the killings of “kafir” (unbelievers) accompanied by images of dead
soldiers and beheadings as well as threatening terrorist atrocities on the
scale of the Sri Lankan suicide bombings that claimed 253 lives.
al-Sham has formed a new formation called 'Popular Resistance Brigades' to
force civilians to join the terrorist group for battle with the Syrian Army in
the Arabic-language Al-Watan newspaper reported that the residents of Idlib
province have told Tahrir al-Sham terrorists and their commanders that they
will refrain from dispatch of their sons to the battlefronts against the Syrian
Army in Hama and Idlib fronts.
report pointed to huge losses sustained by the terrorists in the recent battle
with the Syrian Army and lowering of their morale, and said that Tahrir al-Sham
has sent its militants who have recently relocated to Idlib from Eastern
Ghouta, Dara'a and other regions in Southern Syria to the battlefront.
Tahrir al-Sham has reportedly arrested a large number of people to send them to
different parts of Idlib, including Ariha, Jabal al-Zawiya, Harem, Salqin and
Sarmin to fight against the Syrian Army.
a relevant development on Sunday, the Syrian Army spread to the borders of
Idlib province after advancing in Northwestern Hama and regaining control over
several towns and villages.
Syrian Army troops backed by artillery units and air force engaged in clashes
with the terrorists North of Qala al-Maziq in Northwestern Hama, taking control
of the towns of Bab al-Taqa, al-Sharia, al-Arimeh and al-Jamazieh.
Syrian Army troops also managed to take control of the towns of Meidan Ghazal
and al-Mostariheh in Jabal Shahshabou axis.
military source pointed to deployment of the Syrian Army's units in al-Sharia
town, and said that the Syrian Army troops arrived in Southern borders of Idlib
province after making recent advances.
in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib reportedly refuse to send their sons
to join the ranks of foreign-sponsored Takfiri militant groups in battles
against Syrian army troops.
pro-government and Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper, citing unnamed sources
close to the so-called National Front for the Liberation of Syria – an alliance
of militant factions supported by Turkey, reported on Monday that local
residents have informed the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group,
formerly known as al-Nusra Front, that they will not let their sons be involved
in operations against Syrian government forces in northern and northwestern
districts of the western-central province of Hama as well as the southern
sector of Idlib, where fierce clashes are underway.
sources added that Jabhat Fateh al-Sham is putting militants who have fled from
Eastern Ghouta area in the suburb of the capital Damascus as well as the
southern city of Dara'a and sought refuge in Idlib on the frontlines in the
further noted that the extremists have launched an arrest campaign in Idlib
over the past few days to round up the men who have refused to fight alongside
campaign has affected people in the towns of Ariha, Salqin and Sarmin in
addition to Jabal al-Zawiya and Harem districts.
a deal reached following a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort city
of Sochi on September 17, 2018, all militants in a demilitarized zone, which
surrounds Idlib and also parts of the adjacent provinces of Aleppo and Hama,
were supposed to pull out heavy arms by October 17, and Takfiri groups had to
withdraw by October 15 last year.
National Front for the Liberation of Syria is the main Turkish-backed militant
alliance in the Idlib region, but the Takfiri Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS)
terrorist group, which is a coalition of different factions of terror outfits,
largely composed of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, holds a large part of the
province and the zone.
HTS, which is said to be in control of some 60 percent of Idlib province, has
yet to announce its stance on the buffer zone deal.
is estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 members of different factions of
armed groups, which Syria, Russia and Turkey consider terrorists, are active in
the volatile province, which is home to around three million inhabitants.
army deals hard blows to terrorists in northern Hama
Syrian soldiers, backed by allied fighters from popular defense groups, have
carried out a major operation against Takfiri militants in the northern part of
official news agency SANA reported that Syrian soldiers and their allies
shelled the position of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terrorists on the outskirts of
Muhardeh city, killing and injuring a number of the Takfiris in the process.
Syrian troops and allied fighters targeted vehicles belonging to Kata'ib
al-Ezza (Brigades of Glory) terrorists in al-Lataminah town, located 39
kilometers northwest of the provincial capital city of Hama, destroying a
number of them.
IRAQ: It was a chilly January evening, and Khadija Abd and her family had just
finished supper at their farm when the two men with guns burst into the room.
wore civilian clothes, the other an army uniform. They said they were from the
Iraqi army’s 20th Division, which controls the northern Iraqi town of Badoush.
In fact, they were Daesh group militants who had come down from the surrounding
mountains into Badoush with one thing on their mind: Revenge.
13 more gunmen were waiting outside. The terrorists pulled Khadija’s husband
and his two brothers into the yard and shot them dead, leaving them in a pool
of blood — punishment for providing information to the Iraqi military.
can we live after this?” Khadija said. The three brothers were the providers
for the entire family. “They left their children, their livestock, their wives,
and their elderly father who doesn’t know what to do now.”
year and a half after Daesh was declared defeated in Iraq, the militants still
evoke fear in the lands of their former so-called caliphate across northern
terrorists, hiding in caves and mountains, emerge at night to carry out
kidnappings, killings and roadside ambushes, aimed at intimidating locals,
silencing informants and restoring the extortion rackets that financed Daesh’s
rise to power six years ago.
is part of a hidden but relentless fight between the group’s remnants waging an
insurgency and security forces trying to stamp them out, relying on
intelligence operations, raids and searches for sleeper cells among the
militants’ ranks number between 5,000 and 7,000 around Iraq, according to an
Iraqi intelligence official.
the territory once held by the so-called caliphate is fully liberated, Daesh
fighters still exhibit their intention to exert influence and stage a
comeback,” said Maj. Gen. Chad Franks, deputy commander-operations and
intelligence for the US-led coalition.
towns around the north, Iraqi soldiers knock on doors in the middle of the
night, looking for suspects, based on intelligence tips or suspicious
movements. They search houses and pull people away for questioning.
February, Human Rights Watch accused authorities of torturing suspects to
extract confessions of belonging to Daesh, an accusation the Interior Ministry
has denied. Detainees are pushed by the thousands into what critics call sham
trials, with swift verdicts — almost always guilty — based on almost no
evidence beyond confessions or unaccountable informants’ testimony. The legacy
of guilt weighs heavily especially on women and children, who face crushing
discrimination because of male relatives seen as supporting Daesh.
journalists embedded with a battalion of the 20th Division last month and
witnessed several of its raids at Badoush.
on the Tigris River just outside the city of Mosul, is a key battleground
because it was once one of the most diehard Daesh strongholds.
the summer of 2014, it was a launching pad for the militants’ blitz that
overran Mosul and much of northern Iraq. Daesh built a strong financial base by
extorting money from the owners of Badoush’s many industrial facilities.
Security officials estimate two-thirds of its population — which numbered
around 25,000 before the war — were at one point members or supporters of the
the population is divided. Residents who suffered at the hands of Daesh or lost
loved ones to the group are suspicious of neighbors they believe still support
the militants. Within families, some members belonged to the group and others
(Kurdistan 24) – Many wives of Islamic State fighters in Iraq say displacement
camps are the safest place for them to avoid violent retribution or other
persecution at the hands of other Iraqis and also that they are very concerned
about the fate of their children, many of which have been denied crucial
Hassan Sham camp, located on the outskirts of the Kurdistan Region’s Erbil, is
one of the facilities that host thousands of displaced Iraqis, among them a
high percentage of the women.
who gave her name only as Menal was married in Mosul and had three boys and a
daughter before the emergence of the Islamic State in 2014. After it took over
the city, she said, various events led to her divorcing her husband and
marrying an American fighter for the extremist group, with whom she had another
had to marry him because I had no one to take care of my children,“ Menal told
Kurdistan 24 on Friday. “My husband was an ISIS cleric and now he is arrested
and sentenced by the court.”
said that she has little hope for her future and that of her children because
she cannot go back to Mosul as she could be murdered for being an Islamic State
is also worried about her youngest child, stating that the girl has no official
birth documents and as a result would be deprived of many rights, including
being allowed to attend school.
is another woman in the camp, originally from Syria. She married a former Iraqi
soldier in 2012 who served under the authoritarian rule of Saddam Hussein
before joining the Islamic State in 2014.
have so much fear that I will be killed should I leave this camp because my
husband was not just a normal ISIS fighter, but also occupied the lands of his
uncles,” Sakine told Kurdistan 24 in Hassan Sham camp.
can’t go back to Syria because I will have no rights there either,” she added.
is major controversy about how to deal with families of Islamic State fighters
and those who lived under their rule. Local security forces and residents of
areas liberated from its brutal rule are hostile toward families with a
perceived connection to the group and say they will not allow their return to
the region to live among the general population.
Iraqi officials are pushing for the creation of a new detention camp aimed at
isolating as many as 30,000 Iraqis who were captured in the last territory
Kurdish forces liberated from the Islamic State in Syria in late March.
goal is to select a special place to contain those people,” said one official,
as quoted by The Washington Post recently. “It’s for security reasons, but also
to keep them alive. If they return to their areas, they’ll be singled out for
revenge attacks by people who lost relatives to the Islamic State.”
week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) slammed the move and stated that the Iraqi
government’s proposed plan to confine families of members of the Islamic State
is a violation of international law.
families not accused of any crimes is a form of collective punishment that will
fuel resentment and put the lives of thousands of people on endless hold,” said
Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at HRW.
late April, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) warned that an estimated 45,000
children born under Islamic State rule who are already housed in various
displacement camps in Iraq are missing civil documentation and may face total
exclusion from Iraqi society, including being barred from attending school,
denied access to healthcare, and deprived of their most basic rights.
Ben Hubbard and Eric Schmitt
Syria — Dressed in camouflage and sipping tea, the Syrian commander who emerged
as America’s closest ally in the battle that defeated Islamic State looked to
an unsettling future.
commander, the Kurdish leader of the Syrian Democratic Forces, known by the nom
de guerre Mazlum Kobani, praised his alliance with the United States in a rare
interview recently and said he hoped American troops would stay in Syria.
if they do not, he said, he is still fully prepared to defend his militia’s
hard-fought gains during years of fighting the terrorist group.
were comrades in arms — we are on the same front fighting ISIS,” he said of the
Americans, sitting in a furnished trailer in a compound that once belonged to
the Syrian state oil company.
he is worried about a swift withdrawal, pointing to the American departure from
Iraq in 2011, which was followed by the rise of Islamic State.
must not make the same mistake,” he warned.
the commander of the American-backed militia that fought the Islamic State,
Mazlum now oversees forces controlling one-third of Syria and sits at the nexus
of clashing international interests in the jihadists’ former lands.
Syrian government has threatened to take the territory back — by force, if
necessary. Thousands of Islamic State fighters have gone underground to launch
new attacks and plot their comeback.
neighboring Turkey, which has fought Kurdish separatists at home for decades,
is openly hostile to the Syrian Kurds along its border who have gained
territory, sophisticated weapons and powerful alliances as a result of Syria’s
eight-year civil war.
puts Mazlum and the Kurdish forces that form the backbone of the S.D.F. at a
crossroads. They have a historic militancy toward Turkey, but also an interest
in preserving the power they have gained in Syria, said Dareen Khalifa, a
senior Syria analyst with the International Crisis Group who has met with
Mazlum in Syria.
there is the United States.
owes most of his strength to the American presence in eastern Syria. But
Washington’s commitment is uncertain and its plans have changed so frequently
that no one — including him — knows how long the American forces will stay put.
attached to the Syrian Democratic Forces, checking IDs at a checkpoint on the
outskirts of the northern city of Manbij.
have gained in Syria what they are not going to be able to get anywhere else,”
Ms. Khalifa said of the S.D.F., “so they want to preserve that,” Ms. Khalifa
gains include a greatly expanded territory under their political control, where
the group hopes to maintain its own administration.
far, the United States has not used its relationship with Mazlum to push for a
longer-term accommodation between Turkey and the Syrian Democratic Forces.
U.S. has refused to acknowledge the problem and therefore has refused to act on
it,” Ms. Khalifa said.
Essential American Ally
partnership between Mazlum’s forces and the United States was born of necessity
during a crisis.
2014, after seizing large parts of Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State surrounded
the Kurdish town of Kobani in northern Syria, along the Turkish border. To fend
off the assault, the United States armed the region’s main Syrian Kurdish
militia while bombing heavily from the air.
strategy worked, and the United States found a new partner in Syria, the
Kurdish militia known as the People’s Protection Units, or Y.P.G. The militia
was a Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., which has
long fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey.
Syria’s Arab rebels, the Kurds were happy to fight the Islamic State instead of
the Syrian government. And as a secular movement, they raised no concerns that
they might harbor sympathies with Islamist extremists.
backing from the United States and its allies, the group pushed the jihadists
from other parts of Syria and built ties with other militias. In 2015, under
prompting from the United States, it rebranded itself as the Syrian Democratic
Forces — a mix of Kurdish, Arab and other fighters.
the process, Mazlum became essential to the United States.
tend to go to Mazlum for everything,” said one American official who has worked
with the militia leader. But the partnership suffered a blow in December when
President Trump said he was withdrawing the 2,000 American troops from eastern
then, American plans have changed repeatedly, most recently calling for a
drawdown to 1,000 troops followed by a reassessment. Mazlum said he hoped the
United States would remain to help take on the Islamic State fighters who have
gone underground and to oversee a restructuring of the S.D.F. into an internal
he will have to reckon with his immediate neighbors, especially if the United
States leaves. Negotiations with the Syrian government about reuniting the
northeast with the rest of the country have gone nowhere, he said, and the
Trump administration has discouraged further talks.
commemorate the men and women from Kobani, a Kurdish Syrian town, who died in
the fight against ISIS.
the more powerful Mazlum’s forces get, the more they scare Turkey, which has
threatened to send troops across the border to get rid of what it considers a
growing security threat. Meanwhile, Kurdish fighters have dug extensive tunnels
near the border to fight back in case the Turks attack.
said that he needed more support from the United States-led coalition, not
less, but that his forces would survive regardless.
course it will be hard,” he said. “But if we end up on our own, we’ll continue
the war as we did in the time before the coalition.”
Radically Different Views of the Same Person
Kobani, who is 52, remains a mysterious figure, with basic facts about him
subject to debate, including his real name. When asked directly, he
acknowledged that he that he had been a longtime member of the P.K.K., which
the United States and Turkey consider a terrorist organization.
is history, he said.
Turks are focused on the period before 2011,” he said, “but we are looking
offered only snippets about his background, saying he was arrested repeatedly
by the Syrian government and later went to Europe for “political work,”
followed by “military work” in Iraq.
from the United States and Turkey speak about him as if describing two
is a very educated, savvy politician and a very effective front-line soldier,”
said another American official who has worked with Mazlum. “He is the head of a
highly disciplined and, to some degree, ideological movement that is centrally
controlled and has a long history of fighting.”
focuses on that history. Officials in the Turkish Foreign Ministry provided
documents about his background, which included overseeing an armed wing that
launched deadly attacks on Turkish security forces. Officials in Iraq provided
similar details. Can Acun, a researcher with SETA, a pro-government think tank
in Turkey, said Mazlum’s history raised concerns that his forces could use
Syria as a base for future attacks on Turkey. The fact that he was supported by
the United States, Turkey’s NATO ally, only made it worse.
doesn’t want northeast Syria to become a safe zone for the P.K.K.,” Mr. Acun
than a half-dozen American officials who have worked with Mazlum acknowledged
his ties to the P.K.K. “Life is complicated in the Middle East,” the second
United States official said.
Syrian army is launching "intensive strikes on dens of Jabhat
al-Nusra," a group formerly affiliated with al Qaeda, in a village in
southwestern Idlib province Sunday, Syrian state media is reporting.
escalation in violence in Syria's last rebel-held province in recent weeks has
prompted the displacement of more than 180,000 people in the territory and
killed more than 120 people, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
hospitals were bombed on Saturday in Syria's northwestern Idlib and Hama,
bringing the total to 16 in the past two weeks alone, the Union of Medical Care
and Relief Organizations (UOSSM) said Saturday.
SANA, the country's state-run news agency, stated Saturday that the army's
operations destroyed multiple sites purportedly belonging to Jabhat al-Nusra in
the southern Idlib countryside.
army killed and injured "a number of terrorists who had breached the
de-escalation zone agreement through repeated attacks on military points and
safe towns," SANA reported.
international community has frequently accused the Syrian government of
indiscriminate bombing in its fight against rebels since the start of the
country's civil war. Hundreds of thousands of civilians are believed to have
died in government offensives.
to UK-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR),
there has been a heavy escalation of shelling and barrel bombs targeting Hama
and Idlib in the last few days.
also reports that against the backdrop of the heavy bombing, Jabhat al-Nusra
are worsening the situation for displaced civilians by preventing them from
putting up tents.
UN announced Friday that since April 28 fighting has escalated between
government forces and non-state armed groups (NSAGs) in northwest Syria.
organization noted that on May 8, Syrian forces began ground operations against
NSAGs "impacting on civilian populations, infrastructure and service
provision in northern Hama and southern Idleb governorates."
White Helmets volunteer rescue group, known as the Syria Civil Defense, has
since stated that escalating attacks have led to numerous deaths and injuries
12 civilians were killed today; more stories and hopes were left behind,"
the group tweeted Saturday. "More than 40 people were injured in brutal
bombing by Russian and regime jets for the 14th day in a row on #Idlib and
United Nations Security Council was briefed Friday on the worsening situation
in northwest Syria. 11 out of its 15 members -- including the US, France and
Britain -- jointly condemned the killing of civilians in the region and warned
of a potential humanitarian disaster.
are alarmed by the displacement of over 150,000 persons as well as the
targeting of population centers and civilian infrastructure, including
hospitals and schools," Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve, Belgium's ambassador
to the UN, said following the meeting.
bombardment on Idlib, which is being supported by Russia, was also condemned by
Turkey, which previously signed an agreement with Russia to create a
demilitarized zone in the province.
problems grow each day and it is increasingly showing a tendency to turn into a
catastrophe," said Hulusi Akar, the Turkish defense minister, according to
the state-owned Anadolu Agency.
by Mohammed Ebraheem
(IraqiNews.com) – Iraqi troops killed on Sunday three Islamic State suicide
bombers and destroyed 10 terrorist hotbeds in Salahuddin province.
joint force of Salahuddin Operations Command and al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular
Mobilization Forces) carried out a preemptive military operation in the depth
of Hamrin Mountains in Salahuddin province, killing three Islamic State suicide
bombers,” Al-Madar News quoted the media center of al-Hashd al-Shaabi as saying
in a press statement.
troops “also destroyed 10 Islamic State hotbeds containing explosive belts,
ammunition and foodstuffs,” the statement added.
declared the collapse of Islamic State’s territorial influence in November 2017
with the recapture of Rawa, a city on Anbar’s western borders with Syria, which
was the group’s last bastion in Iraq.
declared a self-styled “caliphate” in a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in
2014. A government campaign, backed by a U.S.-led international coalition and
paramilitary forces, was launched in 2016 to retake IS-held regions, managing
to retake all havens, most notably the city of Mosul, the group’s previously
White Helmets are preparing video clips from fake chemical attacks on civilians
in Jisr al-Shughour region in Western Idlib, local sources in Idlib Province
sources noted that for preparing the false-flag attack, the White Helmets in
cooperation with Tahrir al-Sham terrorists have sent a number of gas capsules
containing chemical substances to the region.
the terrorists intend to prepare the grounds for the attacks by the West,
specially the US, on the Syrian soil by carrying out a false-flag chemical
attack to blame it on the Syrian Army as the Syrian Army continues its
strategic advances in Northwestern Hama.
a relevant development in late April, media reports said that Tahrir al-Sham
al-Hay'at terrorists and pro-militant White Helmets had fully prepared to
launch false-flag chemical attack in Idlib Province.
al-Sham and other terrorist groups have coordinated with the White Helmets in
Jorjnaz town in Ma'arat al-Numan region in Southern Idlib, the Arabic-language
al-Mayadeen TV network quoted local sources in Idlib as saying.
sources pointed to the terrorists' attempt to launch false-flag chemical
attacks in Idlib at the order of their foreign sponsors, and said that the
terrorists intend to use chlorine gas against civilians, including children who
have been kidnapped from different regions of Idlib in recent years.
matches Hezbollah, can fire 1,000 missiles a day: Israel
officials have concluded that resistance groups in the besieged Gaza Strip now
match their Lebanese counterpart Hezbollah in terms of missile prowess.
to a new report by the Israeli new site Walla, Israeli military experts have
confirmed after extensive research that Hamas and Islamic Jihad can launch a
barrage of 1,000 missiles a day in case of future conflicts.
significantly higher than the resistance groups' impressive tally of firing
around 700 rockets and missiles at Israeli targets during a two-day standoff
earlier this month.
sheer number of the rockets was enough to overwhelm Israeli missile systems and
force Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to yet another truce agreement
to prevent a further escalation last week.
the threat is not limited to missiles and rockets. Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi, the
head of the Israeli military’s Southern Command, admitted that his forces were
preparing to face a wide variety of weapons including Kornet-type anti-tank
guided missiles, drones and balloon-borne bombs.
carried out its first ever drone attack against Israel during the recent
confrontation. Israeli media stated that a Hamas drone had fired a missile at
an Israeli military convoy but the extent of damage and possible casualties
were not clear.
media had reported earlier that the regime was considering building a wall near
the Gaza fence to prevent Kornet attacks like the one that destroyed an Israeli
armed vehicle during the recent battles.
Gaza escalation erupted last Friday following the deaths of four Palestinians
in an Israeli air raid on the coastal sliver of land and the regime’s live fire
targeting Gaza protesters.
warplanes struck some 350 sites in Gaza, claiming the lives of 27 Palestinian
response, the Palestinians fired some 700 rockets at the occupied lands between
Saturday morning and early Monday morning, killing four Israelis and injuring
and high destructive power were two other factors that left Israeli officials
and military experts aghast after the recent conflict.
Ben-Menachem, a well-known Israeli journalist, wrote that Israel was amazed how
accurate and powerful the latest Palestinian missiles had become.
was surprising about the Palestinian missiles in the two-day war was their
destructive power," he was quoted as saying by Palestinian media.
missiles fired by Hamas and Islamic Jihad hit their targets in Israel with high
accuracy, Ben-Menachem added.
the recent flare-up, the al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian
Islamic Jihad movement, unveiled its latest domestic missile by firing it at
targets in the Israeli occupied territories.
resistance group released a video on Sunday which showcased the new missile,
dubbed Badr 3, before cutting to footage of it being launched at positions in
the city of Ashkelon, which is located 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Tel
missile carried a 250-kilogram (551 lb) warhead, a major leap from its
predecessor which had a much smaller 40-kilogram warhead.
al-Quds Brigades warned Israel that “what is coming next will be even greater.”
has hailed the unilateral withdrawal of Houthi forces from key ports of Yemen’s
western province of Hudaydah, once again reaffirming the Islamic Republic's
support for the Stockholm agreement.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Moussavi on Monday said the unilateral
withdrawal of the military forces of the Ansarullah-led government, known as
the National Salvation Government of the Republic of Yemen, from the ports of
Hudaydah, Ras Isa and Salif was a constructive move.
added that the implementation of the Stockholm agreement would pave the way for
achieving a political, inclusive and final solution to the Yemeni crisis.
United Nations said on Sunday that the withdrawal of Houthi forces from the
three key ports in Yemen is proceeding “in accordance with established plans”
for a second day, as the Saud-backed former government still refuses to pull
out its besieging forces from Hudaydah in line with an accord the two sides
reached in Sweden last year.
Houthi Ansarullah movement is in control of the ports, which have been under a
tight siege by the country’s former Saudi-backed government, led by
ex-president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, since June last year.
December 2018, representatives from the Houthi Ansarullah movement and the
Riyadh-sponsored government of Hadi reached the truce deal during UN-mediated
peace talks in Sweden.
the deal, they agreed on the withdrawal of their troops and the deployment of
UN monitors to Hudaydah, a lifeline for millions of Yemenis.
in his remarks, the Iranian spokesperson said, "The Sana’a government’s
move to save the Stockholm deal signifies the Yemeni National Salvation
Government’s determination and commitment to dialog and honoring its
obligations on the one hand, and indicates the Saudi-backed coalition’s
obstructionism and lack of commitment to this agreement on the other
pointed to many acts of obstructionism by forces backed by the Saudi-Emirati
coalition and said, "The United Nations and influential countries must
exert pressure on the coalition to live up to its obligations and stop its acts
of obstructionism aimed at halting the implementation of the Stockholm
a coalition of its allies, Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen in March 2015 in an
attempt to reinstall Hadi, who had resigned amid popular discontent and fled to
Riyadh, and to crush the Houthi Ansarullah movement, which has been
significantly helping the Yemeni army against a Saudi-led military coalition
for the past four years.
imposed war initially consisted of an aerial campaign, but was later coupled
with a naval blockade and the deployment of ground mercenaries to Yemen.
Furthermore, armed militia forces loyal to Hadi, in line with invaders, launch
frequent attacks against Yemeni people in regions held by Houthis.
aggression is estimated to have left 56,000 Yemenis dead.
in April, Iran dismissed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s claims of Tehran’s
negative role in the implementation of a ceasefire deal between Yemen’s warring
sides in the port city of Hudaydah, saying Washington’s “blame game” is meant
to cover up the Saudi-Emirati crimes in the war-torn country.
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
(UNRWA) has warned that it will not be able to provide food to more than one
million Palestinian refugees in the besieged Gaza Strip if it cannot raise at
least an additional $60 million by next month.
a time when Muslims around the world are observing the holy month of Ramadan,
often characterized by the festive nature of its Iftars, in Gaza, more than
half the population depends on food aid from the international community,”
UNRWA said in a statement released on Monday.
statement added, “Unless UNRWA secures at least an additional US$60 million by
June, our ability to continue providing food to more than one million Palestinian
refugees in Gaza, including some 620,000 abject poor -- those who cannot cover
their basic food needs and who have to survive on US$1.6 per day -- and nearly
390,000 absolute poor -- those who survive on about US$3.5 per day – will be
Matthias Schmale, director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, said, “This is a near
ten-fold increase caused by the blockade that [led] to the closure of Gaza and
its disastrous impact on the local economy, [and] the successive conflicts that
razed entire neighborhoods and public infrastructure to the ground.”
siege behind deteriorating situation in Gaza’
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has blamed the continued Israeli
siege on the Gaza Strip for the deterioration of the situation in the coastal
world must not forget that the issue of the Palestinians is not only a
humanitarian one, but also a political,” Shtayyeh said in Jerusalem al-Quds on
Gaza Strip, the senior Palestinian official noted, has been suffering from an
Israeli siege for more than 12 years and this is aimed at serving a US plan to
pass the so-called “deal of the century,” end any chance of a “two-state
solution” and turn the Palestinian issue into just a humanitarian one.
Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli blockade since June 2007. The blockade has
caused a decline in the standard of living as well as unprecedented levels of
unemployment and unrelenting poverty.
have held weekly rallies along the Gaza border to protest the siege on the
enclave and demand the right for refugees to return to their homes they fled
during the 1948 creation of Israel.
than 270 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces ever since
anti-occupation protest rallies began in the Gaza Strip on March 30, 2018. Over
16,000 Palestinians have also sustained injuries.
Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14, 2018, on the eve of the 70th
anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe), which coincided with a US
decision to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied East Jerusalem
June 13, 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution,
sponsored by Turkey and Algeria, which condemned Israel for Palestinian
civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip.
resolution, which had been put forward on behalf of Arab and Muslim countries,
garnered a strong majority of 120 votes in the 193-member assembly, with 8
votes against and 45 abstentions.
Israel’s government went on a spending binge in its West Bank settlements
following the election of President Donald Trump, according to official data
obtained by The Associated Press.
supporters and detractors of the settlement movement have previously referred
to a “Trump effect,” claiming the president’s friendlier approach to the
settlements is leading to additional West Bank construction.
the new Israeli figures obtained in a freedom of information request do not
prove a direct connection, they indicate this process may already be underway,
showing a 39% increase in 2017 spending on roads, schools and public buildings
across the West Bank.
Ofran, a researcher with the anti-settlement monitoring group Peace Now, said
it appears that Trump’s election has emboldened Israel’s pro-settler
are not shy anymore with what they are doing,” she said. “They feel more free
to do whatever they want.”
Abu Rdeneh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, offered even
sharper criticism. “This proves that the current US administration encouraged
settlement activities,” he said.
capturing the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war, Israel has
settled some 700,000 of its citizens in the two areas, which are considered
occupied territory by most of the world. The international community has
objected to Israel’s moving people into settlements in those territories as
both illegal and a deliberate obstacle to any future Palestinian state.
Palestinians, who claim both the West Bank and east Jerusalem as parts of their
future state, consider the settlements illegal land grabs. Scores of
fast-growing settlements control strategic hilltops and swaths of the West
Bank, making it increasingly difficult to partition the territory.
decades, the international community and the US have expressed concern over the
settlements while doing little to halt their construction. But since taking
office, Trump, whose inner circle of Mideast advisers have longstanding ties to
the settler movement, has taken a different approach. The White House has urged
restraint but refrained from the blanket condemnations of its Republican and
Trump administration is undoubtedly the most friendly American administration
of all time,” said Oded Revivi, the chief foreign envoy of the Yesha settlers’
council. “In contrast, the Obama years were extremely hard for Israel. Now we
are making up for lost ground.”
government statistics, released by Israel’s Finance Ministry, showed Israeli
spending in the West Bank in 2017, Trump’s first year in office, rose to 1.65
billion shekels, or $459.8 million, from 1.19 billion shekels in 2016.
2017 figures were the highest in the 15 years of data provided by the Finance
Ministry, though spending also climbed in 2016. At the time, President Barack
Obama, a vocal critic of the settlements, was a lame duck, and relations with
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were cool.
contrast, the lowest year of Israeli spending was 2009, when both Netanyahu and
Obama took office, when it was 760.7 million shekels. The data included only
the first half of 2018, so full-year comparisons were not available.
ministry released the data after two years of requests from the AP, which
received backing early this year from “The Movement for Freedom of
Information,” a legal advocacy group that assists journalists.
figures include only government spending, so construction and purchases of
private homes are not included. Israel also does not include items like police,
education, health and military spending, saying such services are provided to
all Israelis regardless of where they live.
addition, spending in east Jerusalem is excluded. Israel considers the area
part of its capital, although the vast majority of the world does not recognize
even with these caveats, the data provide a valuable snapshot of Israel’s
priorities. The figures include spending on public construction projects, such
as roads, schools, social centers, synagogues, shopping malls and industrial
parks. They also include special development grants for local governments and
areas with the strongest growth in 2017 were in school construction, which
jumped 68%, and road construction, which rose 54%.
who is also mayor of the Efrat settlement near Jerusalem, said the spending was
said that school spending was legally required because of the fast-growing
population. He also said that roads in the West Bank have been in “dire
condition” for years, and there is a drastic need for improvements.
Yisrael, the public company that oversees road construction, said it carries
out its projects at the instruction of the Transportation Ministry. In the West
Bank, these projects often allow settlers to bypass Palestinian villages to
a statement, the company said it is “proud to lead a long line of projects
throughout Israel, including Judea and Samaria, with the goal of improving
safety for travelers and saving lives.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett declined to comment, while Transportation
Minister Israel Katz did not respond to a query. Both men are strong supporters
of the settlements. Netanyahu’s office also did not answer a request for
Peace Now’s Ofran said that road construction has deeper implications. She said
new roads bring easier commutes and a better quality of life for settlers,
drawing more people.
see it very immediately, after the opening of a road, a big boom in
construction along the road,” she said. “I think the investments we have these
years in the roads are dramatic and will allow the expansion of settlements
dramatically. That is very much worrying.”
winning re-election last month, Netanyahu is in the process of forming a new
coalition that also is expected to have close ties with the settlers.
recent months, both Peace Now and settler advocates have released reports
claiming that Trump’s policies have laid the groundwork for a settlement boom
in the near future.
a statement, the US Embassy in Jerusalem repeated the White House policy.
“While the existence of settlements is not in itself an impediment to peace,
further unrestrained settlement activity doesn’t help peace,” it said.
new data added to Palestinian distrust of the US, boding poorly for a new peace
plan the administration says it is preparing.
Palestinian Authority cut off ties with the White House after Trump recognized
Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 and subsequently moved the
American Embassy to the contested city. US cuts of hundreds of millions of
dollars of aid for the Palestinians have further poisoned the atmosphere.
the Trump administration is unfairly biased, the Palestinians already have said
they will reject any US peace plan.
Rdeneh, the Palestinian spokesman, said the numbers are “another reason why we
think that the US plan is unfair.”
Finance Ministry data is collected each year and shared with the US, which
under a policy going back to President George H.W. Bush deducts the sum from
loan guarantees for Israel.
CITY: Ramadan has arrived under very harsh conditions in the Gaza Strip, the
result of the 13-year siege and waves of Israeli military escalation, as well
as the internal division that has existed since mid-2007.
began the first day of Ramadan by burying the victims of Israeli airstrikes,
which targeted hundreds of homes and public and private facilities over two
military escalation has increased the suffering of the Gazans, who have been
denied the joy of Ramadan due to widespread poverty, high unemployment, the
salary crisis and the inability of citizens to purchase items.
Mohammed Sultan said that he was unable to provide for his seven-member family
because of the delay in paying employees’ salaries in Gaza.
received the last salary about a month ago, and we expected to get our salaries
before the month of Ramadan, but that did not happen,” Sultan said.
of the Palestinian Authority (PA) led by President Mahmoud Abbas are no longer
better off than their Hamas counterparts.
March 2017, the PA has deducted more than 60 percent of the salaries of about
50,000 of its employees in Gaza. The PA says the measure is due to a financial
crisis, but Palestinian factions and employees see it as “sanctions” to
pressure Hamas “and to destabilize the Gaza Strip since it took control of the
Gaza Strip in mid-June 2007.”
did not feel the month of Ramadan, nor did we feel happy,” said Amal
Al-Sattari, an employee of the PA.
lost the holy month and we did not feel it because of the salary crisis and our
inability to shop for the needs of Ramadan, as we always used to do.”
are we going to provide iftar and suhoor? And we do not have one shekel in our
house. It’s a real tragedy,” she said.
who is raising six children after her husband’s death seven years ago, asked
how her children could be responsible for the political differences that were
causing such suffering.
of taking into consideration our circumstances for the month of Ramadan, paying
our full salaries, the PA increased the deduction rate, and about 40 percent of
our salaries were paid to us a few days before Ramadan,” she said.
suffering of workers is even more severe, with 52 percent unemployment and more
than half of Gaza’s 2 million people dependent on humanitarian aid from UN and
have received Ramadan and the refrigerator is empty, and my sons cry, they want
the lantern of Ramadan,” said Mohamed Allawi, a construction worker who is
lowest price for the Ramadan lantern is NIS5 ($1.40), and if I had (the money),
food and drink would be the first (items) to buy. We are in a situation that
does not allow us and our children even a simple joy.”
said: “People everywhere are thinking about cooking the best food in Ramadan,
and our iftar was beans and some rice on the first day, the same as the day
Ahmed was forced to borrow money from a friend before Ramadan for shopping and
celebrating with his nine-member family.
a cleaner in a hospital in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, said that he and
many of his acquaintances had to sell their wive’s jewelry to overcome the
economic crisis. However, the crisis went on longer than expected and there was
nothing left to be sold.
Saleh, a cheese seller, complained of customers’ reluctance to buy, despite the
cheapness and variety of goods offered, adding that he had been hoping for an
economic rebound by the end of Ramadan.
said: “Although I arrived early on the first day of Ramadan and wanted to offer
different types of cheeses, which are usually more popular in Ramadan, this was
not enough to attract customers because of the deteriorating economic
conditions of most people.”
added that although many people visited the market, the majority could not
afford to buy anything.
was no different for the seller of sweets and nuts, Mohamed Taha, who confirmed
that for the third year in a row, Ramadan was one of the most difficult times
for the people of Gaza, because of poverty and unemployment. The situation had
deteriorated more with the salary crisis of employees at the Palestinian
said that he had been selling in the market for many years, but had not seen a
recession like the one that was currently being experienced.
(Reuters) - An Israeli cabinet minister warned on Sunday of possible direct or
proxy Iranian attacks on Israel should the stand-off between Tehran and
United States has increased economic and military pressure on Iran, with
President Donald Trump on Thursday urging its leaders to talk to him about
giving up their nuclear program and saying he could not rule out an armed
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, which supports Trump’s hard
tack against its arch-foe, has largely been reticent about the spiraling
with the silence, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said that, in the
Gulf, “things are heating up”.
there’s some sort of conflagration between Iran and the United States, between
Iran and its neighbors, I’m not ruling out that they will activate Hezbollah
and Islamic Jihad from Gaza, or even that they will try to fire missiles from
Iran at the State of Israel,” Steinitz, a member of Netanyahu’s security
cabinet, told Israel’s Ynet TV.
and Islamic Jihad are Iranian-sponsored guerrilla groups on Israel’s borders,
the former active in Syria as well as Lebanon and the latter in the Palestinian
Israeli military declined to comment when asked if it was making any
preparations for possible threats linked to the Iran-U.S. standoff.
Yemen (AP) — Yemen’s Houthi rebels on Saturday began a long-delayed withdrawal
of forces from the port facility in the key city of Hodeida, the group said,
following the terms of a December cease-fire aimed at alleviating the world’s
worst humanitarian crisis. The government described the Houthi claim as a
Ali al-Houthi, the head of the rebels’ Supreme Revolutionary Committee, said
the pullout from Hodeida, as well as the two smaller ports of Salif and Ras
Issa, began in the morning.
leading Yemeni negotiator Ahmed al-Kawkabani told The Associated Press late
Saturday that his team “won’t recognize any redeployment outside what the U.N.
proposed,” which includes the removal of land mines, inspections and and end of
all military presence at the port.
country’s bloody civil war erupted in September 2014, when Shiite Houthi rebels
swept into the capital city of Sanaa. A Saudi-led coalition soon intervened to
back the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. The cease-fire in
Hodeida, which halted months of heavy fighting in the city, called for the
mutual withdrawal of rebel and government forces from the city’s port, and the
two smaller ports in the province.
Dawad, a government negotiator, said he welcomed the “first step of the first
phase of redeployment” of rebel forces in the area. He urged the U.N. to verify
and watch the pullout. He also called for the removal of land mines laid by the
information minister of Yemen’s internationally recognized government, Moammer
al-Iryani, warned of “attempts by the (Houthi) Militia to mislead” the U.N.
Security Council before an expected meeting next week.
U.N. Mission to Support the Hodeida Agreement said Saturday it was monitoring
“the initial unilateral redeployment” of Houthi rebels form the ports, which is
to be completed on Tuesday.
is the main international entry point for 70 percent of imports and
humanitarian aid to Yemen, where the four-year civil war has killed an
estimated 60,000 people and pushed much of the country to the brink of famine.
Nearly two thirds of Yemenis are in need of some sort of aid and 3 million
displaced. Thousands have died of malnutrition, preventable diseases and
Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt welcomed the Houthi pullout from the ports. “We
appear to be approaching implementation of the mutual redeployment of forces -
a key step to ending this brutal war,” he tweeted.
Tjossem, the International Rescue Committee’s regional director for the Horn
and East Africa, said in a statement “it is crucial that the force
redeployments move forward and are verified and are followed by sustained
commitment by all parties to make good on their Stockholm obligations.”
official from the internationally recognized government said officials would
meet with the head of the U.N. operation monitoring the cease-fire, Lt. Gen.
Michael Lollesgaard, later Saturday. The official spoke on condition of
anonymity as he was not authorized to speak with the media.
said Friday that the Houthis’ withdrawal from the three ports marked the first
practical step toward realizing the cease-fire. He added that the Houthis must
commit to following fully through with the redeployment, which is expected to
take place over three days.
said the full implementation of the Hodeida deal remains instrumental to
ensuring life-saving humanitarian access inside Yemen.
U.N.-brokered deal was vague on who will control Hodeida’s strategic ports
after the sides withdraw, saying a “local force” would take over without
pullout was scheduled to take place two weeks after the cease-fire went into
force on Dec. 18. But a lack of trust between the government and the Houthis
hampered agreement on details of the withdrawals. Each side has accused the
other of violating the Hodeida cease-fire, and fighting has continued in other
parts of the country.
agreement in Sweden also included a prisoner exchange between the two sides,
which has yet to be carried out.
on Saturday, fighting continued in the southern Dhale province, which had been
under the control of forces loyal to the internationally recognized government.
rebels’ Health Ministry said in a statement an airstrike by the Saudi-led
coalition killed six children and a woman in the district of Qaaraba. The
statement said the airstrike also wounded 17 people, including 11 children.
spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition didn’t respond to calls seeking comment.
is assessing whether to delay taking delivery of the S-400 Russian missile
defense system, currently scheduled for July, after a new request from the
United States, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday.
move would be a rare detente in months of escalating tensions between the two
NATO allies, which have been at loggerheads over Turkey’s planned purchase of
the Russian system, which the United States opposes.
veteran Palestinian negotiator said on Monday she had been denied a US travel visa
for the first time and viewed it as retaliation for her criticism of the Trump
administration and Israel.
diplomats did not immediately respond to the allegations by Hanan Ashrawi, a
member of the executive committee of the umbrella Palestine Liberation
Organization (PLO) who took part in interim peace talks with Israel dating back
they boycotted the Trump administration over its recognition of Jerusalem as
Israel’s capital in late 2017, the Palestinians have seen cuts to US funding that
have contributed to economic distress in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza
is official! My US visa application has been rejected. No reason given,”
Ashrawi said on Twitter. She posited that “this administration has decided I do
not deserve to set foot in the US”.
gave as possible reasons her “vocal critic(ism) of this administration &
its underlings” and her “(zero) tolerance for the Israeli occupation in all its
manifestations as a most pervasive form of oppression, dispossession &
Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said last week that the United States seems to
be crafting a plan for a Palestinian surrender to Israel instead of a peace
has sparred publicly with Jason Greenblatt, a Trump envoy and an architect of
the peace plan, saying on Twitter on Sunday that he is a “self-appointed
February, Greenblatt tweeted that Ashrawi was “always welcome” to meet him at
the White House. A month later, after Ashrawi condemned Israeli military
strikes in Hamas-ruled Gaza, he tweeted to her: “Stop hurting Palestinians
to Reuters, Ashrawi said she had applied for a B-1/B-2 visa, which is for
either business or tourism travel to the United States. She described the
rejection as a first for her.
of my life, I've been going back and forth, meeting people, speaking
everywhere. This is new,” she said. “They (the Trump administration) are trying
to punish us.”
drones run by Yemeni armed forces have reportedly carried out attacks against
vital Saudi facilities in response to the Riyadh regime’s ongoing acts of
aggression against Yemeni people.
Yemeni military source told al-Masirah TV on Tuesday that the extensive
military operation was conducted in retaliation for Saudi Arabia’s deadly
military aggression and the siege of the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state.
source did not, however, specify the targets or the time of the strikes.
security forces have arrested dozens of former police 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.
sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said 46 people were detained in
operations across the country on Monday.
sources added that the arrests were made after prosecutors in the capital
Ankara issued arrest warrants for 64 suspects.
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.
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.
has denounced the “despicable putsch” and reiterated that he had no role in it.
against me related to the coup attempt are baseless and politically-motivated
slanders,” he said in a statement.
78-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.”
officials have frequently called on their US counterparts to extradite Gulen,
but their demands have not been taken heed of.
has been engaged in suppressing the media and opposition groups suspected to
have played a role in the failed coup.
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.
chief meets NZ mosque victims, decries online hate
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned hate speech was spreading online
“like wildfire” at a meeting with victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings
Tuesday, vowing the world body will lead efforts to extinguish the problem.
visited the Al Noor mosque, one of two Muslim centers in the New Zealand city
where a self-described white supremacist killed 51 people in a March 15
shooting that the attacker live-streamed on Facebook.
UN chief is traveling the South Pacific to highlight the impact of climate
change but said he also wanted to show his support for Christchurch’s Muslim
community during Ramadan.
know there are no words to relieve the hurt and sorrow and pain, but I wanted
to come here personally to transmit love, support and total and complete
admiration,” he said.
told victims of the worst mass shooting in modern New Zealand history that
there had been “a dangerous upsurge in hatred” as social media was exploited to
speech is spreading like wildfire in social media. We must extinguish it,” the
Portuguese diplomat said.
is no room for hate speech — online or offline.”
highlighted a previously announced plan for his special adviser on genocide
prevention Adama Dieng to combat online extremism.
said Dieng’s mission was to “bring together a United Nations team to scale up
our response to hate speech and present a global plan of action.”
remarks come as New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who hosted Guterres
when he arrived in Auckland on Sunday, embarks on her own quest to tame social
media in Paris this week.
will co-host a meeting of world leaders and tech firms to promote a
“Christchurch call” aimed at curbing online extremism.
has been highly critical of social media giants in the wake of the Christchurch
killings, saying they should be “taking ownership and responsibility over their
Muslims are to witness increased police presence around mosques and gain more
funding to secure places of worship over the Islamic holy month of Ramadan
after high profile attacks prompted a review of the threat.
Secretary Sajid Javid announced the roll out of a new £5 million fund would
help places of worship gain security training and share best practice to
protect their worshippers.
can be no doubt that people have been targeted because of their religion in
terrorist attacks around the world, but also in vile hate crimes on the streets
of this country – sledgehammer attacks on mosques, a Christian preacher spat at
in the street, and a brick thrown through the glass door of a synagogue,” Mr
condemn all these attacks with every fibre of my being. “
Tell Mama recorded a 593 per cent rise in reports of Islamophobia in the UK in
the week following the Christchurch terror attack which killed 49 Muslims
during Friday prayers in March. Mosques in the British city of Birmingham have
reported recent incidents of damage with a sledgehammer and spray paint.
much of the new funding will not be released until after Ramadan, when
traditionally mosques are busy and vulnerable to greater threat, Mr Javid promised
“increased activity” of police.
communities have been taking their own action to prepare for the increased risk
of attack over the holy period.
mosques in Ramadan are very busy,” says Shaukat Warraich, CEO of Fatih
are generally open in Ramadan 24 hours a day, which is a high risk situation
when the far-right are openly saying ‘we should be targeting mosques’"
says Shaukat Warraich, CEO of Faith Associates.
group has been working closely with the Community Security Trust (CST), an
organisation with a focus on the Jewish community, to help formulate security
measures and train volunteers.
has assisted other faith communities with advice and support regarding security
at their places of worship for many years, based on our long experience
protecting the UK Jewish community from antisemitism and terrorism," a
spokesperson from CST told The National.
demand for this help has increased significantly since the recent terrorist
attacks in New Zealand and Sri Lanka, and we are working with partners in other
faith communities to assist where we can.”
Warraich has been on a roadshow around the UK hosting mosque leaders and
organisers on how to keep their congregations safe during the holy month.
says a “cultural shift” is needed in British Muslim communities when it comes
to protecting themselves, saying they are beginning to recognise that despite
the government’s willingness to help, it “hasn’t got a bottomless pit of
you had the situation where everyone is welcome, doors are open, no checking,
just come and use the facility,” he told The National.
what we're advising is yes, be open, but be more vigilant. Look at your CCTV,
think about what protective measures you have in place and instead of investing
in a brand new chandelier or a swanky new speaker system, why don't you
reinvest that into some protective security?”
Bluestone, director of security service provider Corps Security, says measures
don’t have to cost the earth to be effective. In fact, trained volunteers can
buy crucial time in the event of an attack if security personnel cannot be
not talking here about people playing 007 or Rambo, we're talking about people
on the doors, just welcoming guests, welcoming arrivals. They know the faces,
they know who to let in.”
people who are already familiar to congregants to play a lookout role retains
the open atmosphere while providing a level of protection, he says, and other
measures such as panic buttons, CCTV monitoring, suitable doors and clear
procedures can assist not only in saving lives in the event of attack, but
identifying individuals on reconnaissance missions.
synagogues, churches and temples all require security policies and simple to
understand security operations procedures for the benefit of that community,”
he told The National.
some cases they're more sophisticated and may be drafted in a way that you'd
find in corporate offices, in smaller communities, they might just be a list of
do's and don'ts.”
important, Mr Bluestone says, is vigilance and involving the community – for
instance members of the congregation who are doctors or nurses – in contingency
civilians cannot stop armed attackers... but they can be spotted, perhaps
further away from the place of worship than might be expected. That gives
people a bit of time because what effective security is about, and it's not
just for holy places, this applies to offices or industry or wherever is your
creating barriers along the way.
more you can delay the attacker, the more time you give to the authorities, the
armed police response and provide the support that's needed and that kind of
may not be a “bottomless pit”, but funding for security for places of worship
has been increased in the wake of the Christchurch attack, in which a gunman
killed 49 people at two New Zealand mosques.
fund will make £1.6m available to places of worship from July. Since the scheme
launched in 2016, more than £1.5 million has been awarded to 63 churches, 49
mosques, five Hindu temples and 16 gurdwaras. In order to qualify for the
scheme, places of worship must be evaluated by a Police Counter Terrorism
Security Advisor (CTSA) or Police Designing Out Crime Officer, who will then
make recommendations on appropriate safety measures.
Warraich says places of worship getting their hands on this funding used to be
a cumbersome process, but is set to more streamlined in July’s round.
Mark Zuckerberg and US President Donald Trump are expected to be the notable
absentees in a Paris summit on social media on Wednesday, where global leaders
and technology company executives will seek agreement on regulations to curb
violent extremism online.
summit comes two months after a gunman killed 50 people at two mosques in
Christchurch in New Zealand. Original footage of the live stream was viewed
about 4,000 times and 1.5 million copies of the video had been taken down
within the first 24 hours before being removed from Facebook.
Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron, who
will co-chair the meeting, will push for a pledge — entitled the “Christchurch
Call” — that will set a common framework for stopping violent extremist content
from spreading online.
Ardern, who has been widely acclaimed for her compassionate reaction in the
aftermath of the attack and for a prompt gun law reform, said in a New York
Times op-ed that “a terrorist attack like the one in Christchurch could happen
again unless we change”.
aim may not be simple, but it is clearly focused: to end terrorist and violent
extremist content online. This can succeed only if we collaborate,” she said.
“This is not about undermining or limiting freedom of speech. It is about these
companies and how they operate.”
Zuckerberg did not confirm his attendance, despite meeting with Mr Macron on
May 10 and expressing his willingness to collaborate.
often tell me we have too much power over speech, and frankly I agree," Mr
Zuckerberg said in an op-ed on the Washington Post, adding that Facebook was
"creating an independent body so people can appeal our decisions"
about what is posted and what is taken down.
also said he would be in favour of a new set of rules that apply to all
websites and tech companies, so that it's easier to stop "harmful
content" from spreading quickly across platforms.
Macron has been promoting the idea of regulatory bodies in every European
country applying a common set of rules for the removal of extremist content. The
meeting is expected to tackle the thorny issue of what content should be
will be hosting the G7 Digital Summit this summer, which will delve into issues
including digital technology and artificial intelligence. These commitments
reflect the president’s desire to make France “the country that regulates” the
new economy, to “reconcile technology and common good”.
Prime Minister Theresa May, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, European
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Irish Prime Minister Taoiseach Leo
Varadkar, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Senegalese President Macky
Sall, and King Abdullah II of Jordan are expected to attend.
Ardern said talks were "ongoing" with the US, where most of these
large firms are based, but it was likely President Donald Trump would not be
making the trip.
dismissed the idea that the absence of the Facebook chief and of the American
president would compromise the effectiveness of the meeting.
is much more important to me is Facebook's ultimate commitment to this call to
action,'' she told media in New Zealand. "It's not about who is physically
there on the day. It's what we actually generate as a result.” Ms Ardern is
also scheduled to hold one-on-ones with Canada's Justin Trudeau and Britain’s
EU drew harsh criticism in April, when it amended its online copyright rules to
prevent users from uploading copyrighted materials. Critics accused the
European parliament committee of turning the web into a tool for surveillance
a balance between freedom of speech and the prevention of extremism will
require careful consideration of what is defined as abhorrent violent material.
her op-ed, Ms Ardern said that the aim “may not be simple,” but the group
rallying on Wednesday are aware of the urgency of the problem and the need to
find a solution. “We can quantify the reach of this act of terror online, but
we cannot quantify its impact,” Ms Ardern said. Eight thousand people who saw
the video called mental health support lines in New Zealand, according to the
(AP) — European foreign ministers urged the United States and Iran to show
restraint Monday amid fears of tensions tipping them easily into armed
conflict, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefed his counterparts on the
threats Washington sees emanating from the Islamic republic.
foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany, joined by the European
Union’s foreign policy chief, made the appeal after Saudi Arabia said two oil
tankers were sabotaged Sunday off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, one as
it was heading to pick up Saudi oil to take to the United States.
has warned shipping companies that “Iran or its proxies” could be targeting
maritime traffic in the Persian Gulf region and said it was deploying an
aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers there to counter alleged threats from Tehran.
countries that were co-signatories to a nuclear accord between Tehran and six
world powers have been racing to salvage the deal since the U.S. pulled out
last year. The foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany, parties to
Iran agreement, and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who supervises
the way the 2015 agreement is enacted, met in Brussels on Monday.
are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident, with an
escalation that is unintended really on either side but ends with some kind of
conflict,” British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told reporters.
we need is a period of calm to make sure that everyone understands what the
other side is thinking,” Hunt said.
withdrawing from the nuclear accord, the U.S. said the agreement did nothing to
stop Iran from developing missiles or destabilizing the Middle East. The
Europeans insist the agreement was never meant to address those issues but has
been effective in curbing Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
mounted last week, when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gave the remaining
signatories 60 days to come up with a plan to shield his country from sanctions
imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump after the U.S. withdrew from the deal.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described the remarks suggesting that Iran
might renege on the agreement as “very worrying,” given that the EU is still
respecting the deal and trying to keep financial supply lines open to Tehran to
bolster its economy.
Iran envoy Brian Hook told reporters traveling with Pompeo that in Brussels,
the secretary of state “shared information and intelligence with allies” since
“Europe shares our concerns about stability in the Gulf and the Middle East.”
secretary wanted to share some detail behind what we have been saying publicly.
We believe that Iran should try talks instead of threats. They have chosen
poorly by focusing on threats,” Hook said.
said Pompeo “heard clearly” in Brussels that “we are living a crucial, delicate
moment, where the most responsible attitude to take is, and we believe should
be, that of maximum restraint and avoiding any escalation on a military side.”
and Hook said the reported attacks on the two tankers had been discussed, but
neither linked the incidents to Iran.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the Europeans underlined to Pompeo the
importance of nuclear deal.
don’t see that there’s a better one, or any proposals for a better agreement,”
Maas said. “That’s why I think it’s responsible to hold onto what one has and
do everything to prevent the situation there from escalating further.”
the U.S. sanctions bite, domestic pressure is increasing on Rouhani to
demonstrate that Iran can still benefit from an agreement based on providing it
with economic opportunities in exchange for limiting nuclear development.
said the Europeans “are working on the assumption that Iran won’t withdraw step
by step from this treaty, but rather meet all of its commitments.”
the tensions, the Europeans insist only the International Atomic Energy Agency
can judge whether Iran remains in compliance with the nuclear agreement.
from the agency have issued more than a dozen reports showing Tehran has held
up its end of the deal so far. A new report is due at the end of May.
authorities should have more access to Facebook’s algorithms to audit its
policies on hate speech, a report concluded. The French report was published
hours before Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and President Macron met Friday.
comes after Facebook has been heavily criticised by politicians and the public
for its failure to more rapidly remove footage of the March shooting attack in
Christchurch, New Zealand from its network. Fifty people were killed in the
assault, with the shocking footage of it circulating online for days.
president Emmanuel Macron, who met Facebook founder and Chief Executive Mark
Zuckerberg on Friday, commissioned the report. He wants France to take a
leading role in tech regulation, seeking to strike a balance between what he
perceives as the United States' laissez-faire stance and China's iron grip on
Facebook chief said after the meeting with Macron that he was
"encouraged" and "optimistic" about the regulatory
framework being suggested by France for the social media giant and other online
am hopeful that it can become a model" that can be used "across the
EU", Zuckerberg said.
recommends independent regulator
33-page report, co-written by a former head of public affairs for Google
France, recommends increasing oversight over the world's largest social media
network and allowing an independent regulator to police the efforts of large
tech companies to deal with hate speech.
report calls for laws allowing the government to investigate and fine social
networks that don't take responsibility for the content that makes them money.
report comes after Facebook allowed a team of French regulators to spend six
months inside the company monitoring its policies. This represents a
"half-time" assessment from their time at the American giant which
started in January.
inadequacy and lack of credibility in the self-regulatory approach adopted by
the largest platforms justify public intervention to make them more
responsible," the report said.
like Facebook cannot simply declare themselves to be transparent, it added,
noting that checking the integrity of the algorithms they use was a
particularly complex task.
lawmaker Laetitia Avia told FRANCE 24, “the government has been working mostly
on the repression and prevention of hate speech.”
bill proposes […] that the French broadcast regulator, the CSA, could evolve
and also do digital regulation”, she explained.
is a big problem about the hegemony of such big companies that rule all the
digital area today,” said Avia, a member of Macron’s La République En Marche
what users really need here is protection”, she added. “And I think they [Edit:
Facebook] have the money and the people they need [...] this fight against
hatred a priority.”
slammed by one of Facebook founders
week, Chris Hughes, one of the founders of Facebook with Zuckerberg while they
were at Harvard, wrote in a long opinion piece in the New York Times that he
believed the company was too powerful and needed to be broken up. He added that
Zuckerberg has turned Facebook into an innovation-suffocating monopoly and
lamented the company's "slow response to Russian agents, violent rhetoric
and fake news."
parliament, where Macron's ruling party has a comfortable majority, is debating
legislation that would give the new regulator the power to fine tech companies
up to 4% of their global revenue if they don't do enough to remove hateful
content from their network.
goal is to move ... towards proper regulation," a source close to the
Finance Ministry said.
decision to allow the team of French regulators inside the company was the
first time the wary company had opened its doors in such a way.
regulators did not have access to confidential corporate information, the
finance ministry official said. The French task-force has also been holding
meetings with Facebook in the United States.
visit comes notably amid concern about hate speech and disinformation around
this month's European Parliament elections.
week, the leaders of France and New Zealand will meet tech leaders in Paris for
a summit seeking to ban acts of violent extremism and terrorism from being
has faced challenges over privacy and security lapses and accusations of
new model for content regulation'
Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt warns about the risk of a conflict between the
United States and Iran as a result of “unintended escalation.”
are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident with an
escalation that is unintended,” Hunt said on Monday in Brussels, where he has
traveled for a European Union foreign ministers’ meeting.
he claimed that such an escalation would be accidental “on either side,”
apparently underplaying the United States’ actions that have led up to the
current rise in regional and international tensions.
its inauguration, the administration of US President Donald Trump has been
leading a policy of “maximum pressure” against Iran.
policy has Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as its alleged mastermind and
National Security Adviser John Bolton as the person who is trying his best to
escalate it into military conflict.
the policy line, the US left a multi-lateral nuclear deal with Iran, which also
has the UK and others as its signatories, last year.
then reinstated the sanctions that had been lifted under the accord.
moves came while the accord had been ratified in the form of a United Nations
Security Council resolution, making Washington culpable for violating
has also been trying to reduce Iran’s oil exports to “zero,” and sent an
aircraft carrier strike group, a bomber squad, an amphibious assault ship, and
a Patriot missile battery to the Middle East to try to stack up pressure on
went on to say that “what we need is a period of calm, so that everyone
understands what the other side is thinking and most of all to make sure we
don’t put Iran back on the path to nuclearization.”
Wednesday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani announced a decision made by the
Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), the country’s top security body, to
suspend the implementation of some of the Islamic Republic’s commitments under
the multinational agreement.
said the move was aimed at reminding the nuclear deal’s other parties that
responsibility for honoring the deal did not lie entirely on Tehran.
Europeans have, time and again, declared that they would be staying true to the
deal and make up for the US withdrawal one way or another without committing to
their words, he said.
said Europe has succeeded in promoting the deal in word, but has fallen short
of putting its words into action, especially in the area of economy.
said, “If Iran becomes a nuclear power, neighbors are likely to want to become
nuclear powers, this is already the most unstable region in the world.”
added, “We'll be sharing those concerns with my European counterparts, with
foreign ministers of France, Germany, and the UK are to meet in the EU
headquarters in Brussels later on Monday to discuss Iran’s recent decision to
stop implementing parts of its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal.
the meeting, which will also be attended by EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica
Mogherini, the top diplomats will discuss their response to the deadline Iran
gave Europe for the implementation of their commitments under the deal.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt,
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, and Mogherini will also discuss progress on
their efforts to ensure that trade with Iran will continue despite the US
sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
May 8, Iran announced that it would stop exporting excess uranium and heavy
water, setting a 60-day deadline for the five remaining parties to the deal –
France, the UK, Germany, China, and Russia – to take practical measures toward
ensuring Iran’s interests in the face of the American sanctions.
reaction, Mogherini and the E3 foreign ministers released a joint statement,
rejecting the deadline given by Iran, while reiterating their commitment to the
implementation of the nuclear deal, officially known as Joint Comprehensive
Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif later criticized the EU statement,
regretting that the bloc was demanding that Tehran unilaterally abide by a multilateral
accord, which has already been abrogated by Washington.
has warned that it has put a "step-by-step" withdrawal from the JCPOA
on its agenda.
Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araqchi said in an
interview on Wednesday, "We have not left the JCPOA so far, but we have
put such a move on our agenda and that would happen step-by-step."
Fatih Beyaz |
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the latest developments in Idlib,
Syria in a phone call Monday with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
voiced concern over ceasefire violations in the past two weeks by forces of the
Bashar al-Assad regime in the Idlib de-escalation zone, Turkey’s Presidential
Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said on Twitter.
also noted that targeting civilians, schools and hospitals could not be
considered fighting against terrorism.
stressed that the Assad regime aimed to sabotage Turkish-Russian cooperation in
Idlib and to harm the spirit of the Astana agreement, noting that rising
tensions in the region would jeopardize the formation of a Constitutional
Committee in Syria and the political process.
the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the Sochi Agreement, Erdogan
said the attacks would harm their mutual goals.
and Putin agreed last September to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in
which acts of aggression would be strictly prohibited.
has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011
when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected severity.
Cops Foil Bid By Terror Cell To Attack Non-Muslim Places Of Worship During
JAYA: Bukit Aman’s counter-terrorist division has thwarted a move by a terror
cell to kill several high-profile personalities as well as attack several
non-Muslim places of worship and entertainment outlets.
of Police Abdul Hamid Bador said four men, comprising one Malaysian, two
Rohingya nationals and an Indonesian, were arrested in swoops carried out in
Terengganu and the Klang Valley between May 5 and 7.
said the operations were carried out after the division detected an Islamic
State wolf pack planning to kill the personalities as well as launch the
four suspects admitted to being members of the wolf pack and were ready to
launch attacks in Malaysia in the first week of Ramadan to avenge the death of
fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim, who died during the Seafield temple riots
the same time, they were planning the murders on the personalities they claim
to not have defended Islam but have instead insulted Islam,” he told a press
conference here today.
said the arrests led to the seizure of a Czech-made 9mm pistol and 15 bullets,
as well as six improvised explosive devices (IEDs) each measuring 18cm.
weapons were acquired from a neighbouring country,” he said.
said the 34-year-old Malaysian arrested in Kuala Berang, Terengganu, on May 5
is the mastermind behind the planned attacks and the leader of the cell.
said the second man arrested is a UNHCR card holder, aged 20, and supports the
Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army. He was also planning an attack on the Myanmar
embassy in Kuala Lumpur and jihad in Rakhine state.
49-year-old Indonesian was also planning a jihad in Syria.
said police were tracking down three other members of the cell – Syazani Mahzan
and Muhamad Nuurul Amin Azizan, both 27, from Bedong, Kedah, and Fatir Tir, an
Indonesian whose last known address is in Banting, Selangor.
declined to reveal who the targeted personalities were.
(the cell members) had been communicating through a Whatsapp group. The cell
had been active since January,” he said.
whether the four had any military training, Hamid said with the mastermind
having successfully secured the weapons and IEDs from a neighbouring country,
“the process of carrying out the planned attacks becomes very easy”.
said the pistol and bullets were meant to shoot and kill the personalities
while the bombs were meant for churches and temples.
can just take the weapons to wherever you need to go and use them. To make a
bomb go off, you don’t need any fancy or high tech devices.
IEDs are high powered, designed to kill and to cause severe injuries. Similarly
with the Czech-made pistol and the 15 bullets. The aim is to kill,” he said.
how the weapons had been brought into the country, Hamid said this could have
been either by sea or by land. He cited Malaysia’s geographical location of
having long and wide borders, which are porous.
see how easy it is for illegal immigrants to come in, smuggling in weapons is
just as easy. The weapons can be hidden in cars, lorries, trucks or boats. You
name it. It is that easy,” he said.
State could exploit local issues to advance ideology in Malaysia, analyst says
LUMPUR, May 14 ― The Islamic State (IS) may be using local controversies as
platforms for its extremist ideology, said an International Islamic University
Malaysia (IIUM) lecturer.
on the arrest of four IS cell suspects who allegedly planned revenge attacks on
non-Muslims for the death of fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim injured during
the Seafield temple riots, Ahmad El-Muhammady told the South China Morning Post
the development was “extremely worrying”,
involvement of foreigners in a local issue indicates Daesh’s capability to
exploit foreigners and local issues to advance their ideology.
a new game in the new Malaysia, which could potentially escalate I hate to say
this. Isis may capitalise on the perception that Islam is under threat in
Malaysia,” Ahmad said using the group’s other names.
said rising racial and religious tension here created an unsurprising opening
for such extremist groups.
who is also reportedly a police advisor on tackling radicalisation, then expressed
concern that there may be more such cells here operating outside of the
also advised the government to proactively resolve racial and religious issues.
narratives of unity, harmony and coexistence. Organise more interfaith
dialogue,” Ahmad was quoted as saying, adding that the government should
allocate more financial resources for programmes to tackle extremism and
Royal Malaysia Police disclosed yesterday that they arrested three foreigners
and one Malaysian who were allegedly planning terror attacks and assassinations
in Malaysia during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
police said Monday, May 13 that they have arrested four militants linked to
Islamic State who were in possession of explosives and planned to attack non-Muslim
places of worship.
suspects – a Malaysian who led the group, two Rohingya from Myanmar and one
Indonesian – were detained last week in raids around Kuala Lumpur and in
eastern Terengganu state.
national police chief Abdul Hamid Bador described them as an “Islamic State
cell” and said they planned to “assassinate high-profile individuals and attack
Hindu, Christian and Buddhist places of worship in Malaysia.”
did not give any details about who the high-profile individuals were. Police also
seized six improvised explosive devices, a pistol and 15 bullets, he said.
planned attacks were to avenge the high-profile death of a Muslim fireman
during riots at an Indian temple outside Kuala Lumpur last year, police said.
of the Rohingya admitted supporting the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, a
militant group blamed for attacks in Myanmar that sparked an army crackdown,
and had also planned to target the Myanmar embassy in Kuala Lumpur, police
second Rohingya was a 25-year-old laborer who admitted to being militant with
ties to ISIS, police said.
Rohingya are a Muslim minority that have long faced persecution in their
are hunting for three more members of the suspected terror cell who allegedly
planned to attack entertainment outlets.
in Muslim-majority Malaysia regularly announce ISIS-related arrests but it is
rare for police to seize explosives or weapons.
practices a moderate brand of Islam and has not seen any notable terror attacks
in recent years.
security forces are on alert for militants from Malaysia and other parts of the
region heading to the country after ISIS lost the last of its territory in the
LUMPUR, May 13 — Umno Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki today denied any
involvement in the alleged scandals concerning the Malaysian Islamic Economic
Development Foundation (Yapeim).
in a statement said he was never involved in any management aspects of Yapeim
or received any rewards from the foundation during his tenure as deputy
minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of religious affairs.
the record, the Yapeim issue was raised in Parliament and it was addressed
because the agency was being monitored by the Prime Minister’s Department,”
Asyraf said, sharing a YouTube clip of a November 2015 Parliament sitting where
he spoke on the matter.
former deputy minister had then proposed that a task force be formed to
evaluate the management aspects of religious agencies, which would be known as
the Religious Agencies Management Special Committee.
proposal was approved by (then) Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department
Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom and had gotten the full support of the prime
minister at the time, Datuk Seri Najib Razak,” Asyraf added.
said the committee to manage Yapeim had comprised academics, high-ranking
government officials, accountants, lawyers and the Pertubuhan Perbankan Islam
Malaysia chief executive officer (CEO).
the committee’s formation, Asyraf said Department of Islamic Development
Malaysia (Jakim) had also issued a guideline on syariah-compliant management.
committee had proposed that Yapeim be made the first agency to be corrected in
terms of its management, which included the introduction of a new trust deed
that is more comprehensive and in line with international management standards,
to Asyraf, the guideline’s importance was also stressed upon when the new
minister and deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department took over last
have often stressed that these agencies must be seen as ‘whiter than white’, as
the rakyat have high hopes and faith in religious-based institutions,” he said.
there are any parties who try to use such slander to prevent me from voicing
out issues concerning the rakyat, then you are wrong,” Asyraf said, adding that
he will continue to remain steadfast in highlighting the people’s issues.
police have detained four men suspected of plotting a wave of killings and
attacks in and around the capital during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan,
police said on Monday.
Southeast Asian nation has been on high alert since gunmen allied with Islamic
State carried out a series of attacks in Jakarta, the capital of neighbouring
Indonesia, in January 2016.
four suspects are two Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, an Indonesian and a
Malaysian, Inspector General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador told reporters.
the "wolf pack" cell, he said its members had planned to launch
large-scale attacks during the first week of Ramadan to avenge a Muslim fireman
who was allegedly beaten to death during a racially charged riot at a Hindu
temple in November.
fireman's death angered majority Malay Muslims, some of whom had accused Hindu
leaders of inciting the riot through racial remarks.
cell had also planned an operation to assassinate high-profile personalities
accused of insulting and failing to uphold Islam," Abdul Hamid said in a
video recording of a press conference seen by Reuters.
declined to identify the targets of the planned killings.
all over the world fast during daylight hours during Ramadan.
of the Rohingya suspects, a 20-year-old waiter, told police he was a supporter
of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), an insurgent group said to be
behind a number of killings and attacks in Myanmar's Rakhine state, Abdul Hamid
man possessed a UNHCR identification card issued by the U.N. refugee agency, he
also seized a gun and six homemade explosives during the arrests.
Rohingya have for years fled persecution in Myanmar, which denies them
citizenship as they are seen as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. They often
arrive on Southeast Asian shores in rickety boats seeking asylum.
mass organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) has had a major influence on politics
and government since its founding in 1926, but the results of the 2019
presidential election might have put it in a stronger position of power than
ever before. NU, which claims to have over 60 million members, making it the
largest Muslim organization in Indonesia, publicly backed President Joko
“Jokowi” Widodo’s reelection bid, and managed to place senior NU cleric Ma’ruf
Amin in the hotly contested vice-presidential slot. With Jokowi all but certain
to secure a second term, experts and analysts predict that the organization is
set to dominate the political scene more than it ever has before. “It looks
like NU’s decision to back Jokowi has paid off,” Indonesia Political Review
executive director Ujang Komarudin told The Jakarta Post on Monday. While...
An Indonesian church on Monday remembered the victims of suicide bombings
carried out by a Daesh-inspired family, one year on from the attacks that
highlighted the extremist group’s global reach.
May 13 last year, a family of six — including two girls aged nine and 12 — blew
themselves up at the Santa Maria Catholic Church and two other churches in
Surabaya during Sunday morning services, killing over a dozen congregants and
wounding scores more.
hundred people gathered at the Santa Maria church on Monday for a memorial
prayer session and to hear survivor accounts of the bloodshed.
have learned to move on and not be traumatized by the attacks because that’s
what they (terrorists) want,” said Desmonda, a Christian woman who survived
last year’s bombings.
claimed the Surabaya bombings and the families were linked to local extremist
group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), which supports Daesh.
Andi, a hijab-wearing Muslim, also attended Monday’s one-year anniversary,
which comes weeks after Daesh claimed similar suicide attacks on churches and
hotels in Sri Lanka that killed more than 250.
a Surabayan who was born and raised here, I was shocked to hear about the
bombings — more so because the perpetrators were Muslim,” the 27-year-old said.
I want to show my solidarity with the victims and hope that this will never
happen again. People envy Indonesia for its diversity so we should preserve
it,” she added.
has been a long road to recovery for many Christians who make up about 10
percent of Indonesia’s 260 million citizens.
coordinated Surabaya attacks were the deadliest in years for a country that has
struggled with militancy since the 2002 Bali bombings killed over 200 people,
including scores of tourists
hard to overcome the trauma even though it has been a year,” Rachmat Harjono
Tengadi said after a service on Sunday at the Indonesian Christian Church.
56-year-old was struck by shrapnel after a mother and her two young daughters,
dressed in body covering burqa veils, blew themselves up outside the church.
now if I see somebody wearing a black burqa, my heart feels sick,” Tengadi
church opted not to hold a special memorial on Monday’s anniversary over fears
it could be painful for congregants.
Burkina Faso — Gunmen killed a pastor and five congregants at a Roman Catholic
church in northern Burkina Faso on Sunday, the authorities said, in the second
attack on Christians in two weeks in a nation increasingly overrun by
were leaving the church around 9 a.m. local time in the town of Dablo, about
124 miles from the capital, Ouagadougou, when about 20 men circled them and
opened fire, leaving at least six dead, according to a government statement.
terrorist groups are now attacking religion with the macabre aim of dividing
us,” the statement said.
mayor of Dablo said the attackers burned the church, looted a pharmacy and some
others stores and left. A government spokesman said the gunmen also destroyed
all places serving alcohol.
was no immediate claim of responsibility, though violent Islamic extremism has
been increasingly destabilizing the country.
killings come about a month after gunmen fatally shot a pastor and five
congregants in April at a Protestant church, also in the north, suggesting the
violence was taking a religious turn.
Faso, in West Africa, has a history of tolerance and religious groups have
historically lived together peacefully and intermarried. The violence on Sunday
took place not far from the volatile border with Mali. Groups based in the
neighboring country seek to extend their influence over the Sahel, the arid
scrubland south of the Sahara.
shooting also occurred days after a raid led by French armed forces rescued
four hostages in northern Burkina Faso — including two Frenchmen, an American
and a South Korean — as the kidnappers were attempting to take them to Mali,
the French authorities said. Two French soldiers died in the overnight raid.
authorities said that five teachers were shot to death in a separate attack on
Friday. Extremists have also targeted foreigners, abducting and killing a
Canadian geologist this year.
December, the government in Burkina Faso declared a state of emergency in
several northern provinces bordering Mali because of deadly Islamist attacks,
including in the region where the assault on Sunday took place.
groups “have every interest in troubling or going against the good
understanding between religions,” said Rinaldo Depagne, West Africa project
director for the International Crisis Group, which advocates for global peace.
“We have observed this strategy in other countries in the region and in the
world,” he added.
55 percent to 60 percent of Burkina Faso’s population is Muslim, roughly 20
percent to 25 percent is Christian, and the rest follow indigenous religions,
according to the State Department of the United States.
Faso, a landlocked former French colony that was once called Upper Volta, has
played a central role in Western efforts to counter Islamist militants in West
nation was tossed into political turmoil in 2014, when President Blaise
Compaoré was ousted after days of mass protests against his plans to modify the
Constitution and remain in power. In the face of revolt on the streets, he fled
the country, ending 27 years in power.
the military took control, with Lt. Col. Isaac Zida proclaiming himself leader
of the impoverished country. The move drew broad censure from other African
countries and from Western nations.
pressure to cede to civilian rule, the military joined an electoral college of
23 mainly civilian representatives, which named Michel Kafando, a former
foreign minister and onetime ambassador to the United Nations, as interim
president. Roch Marc Christian Kaboré has served as president since 2015.
Turkish Embassy in Mogadishu says a Turkish citizen was killed Sunday following
an explosion near the city’s busy K-4 junction.
embassy told VOA Somali the victim was an engineer working for a Turkish
told VOA Somali there was an explosion in the vehicle the victim was riding in.
The explosion is believed to have been from improvised explosive device planted
in the car.
al-Shabab militant group claimed responsibility for the attack, claiming the
engineer was working at the Turkish military training facility in Mogadishu.
National Army (SNA) has said its troops have killed 15 al-Shabaab militants in
confrontation with Somali army in Middle Shabelle region.
commander of the 27th battalion of Somali National Army (SNA), Mohamed Ahmed
Teredishe said the troops defeated al-Shabaab fighters in deadly battle which
took place on Saturday.
stated they destroyed al-Shabaab bases during the operations against the
group's fighters in the region.
commander called on the public to collaborate with forces in the fight against
has not commented on the destruction of its bases in Middle Shabelle region.
recent Months, Somali forces backed by African Union Mission in Somalia
(AMISOM) have stepped up offensives against al-Shabaab in Lower and Middle
officer and three protesters were killed and many protesters wounded in the
Sudanese capital late on Monday, Sudan’s state TV said, as crowds of
demonstrators remain camped at a sit-in outside the army complex.
heavy gunfire was heard in Khartoum late into the evening, and the transitional
military council said a military police officer had been killed and many
flared after the military council and opposition groups said they had agreed to
a power structure for the country’s transition following the ouster of
President Omar al-Bashir last month.
council accused armed groups unhappy with progress towards a political deal of
opening fire at protest sites. Protesters said counter-revolutionaries linked
to the former regime were inciting violence.
paramilitary forces patrolled the streets, using tear gas and gunshots to
disrupt protests blocking roads.
Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the Declaration of Freedom and Change
Forces opposition alliance were due to meet on Tuesday to discuss two key
sticking points: the military-civilian balance of power in transitional bodies,
and the length of the transition before elections.
ousted president Omar al-Bashir has been charged over the killings of
protesters during the anti-regime demonstrations that led to the end of his
rule, the prosecutor general announced Monday.
al-Bashir and others have been charged for inciting and participating in the
killing of demonstrators,” the office of Sudan’s acting prosecutor general
Al-Waleed Sayyed Ahmed said.
charges against Bashir came during an investigation into the death of a medic
who had been killed during a protest in the capital’s eastern district of
groups attacked anti-regime protesters and government troops Monday outside
army headquarters in Sudan’s capital, leaving five dead and 15 injured
were attacked by unidentified men armed with guns and sticks, said the Central
Committee of Sudanese Doctors in a statement.
opposition Freedom and Change Alliance claimed intelligence units and militia
groups of the former regime were behind the attack.
on people to peacefully gather in front of army headquarters in Khartoum and
across the country to support the protesters, the alliance urged the army to
carry out its duty and protect the demonstrators.
demonstrators claimed the attackers were from the Rapid Support Forces (RSF)
militia backing the Sudanese Army.
to a statement by the Military Transitional Council (MTC), four soldiers,
including an officer, were killed in the attack.
said the attack was carried out by groups who are “disturbed by the results”
achieved with the Freedom and Change Alliance and were trying to prevent an
agreement from being reached.
outside army headquarters are ongoing.
April 11, the Sudanese army announced the “removal” of President Omar al-Bashir
following months of popular protests against his 30-year rule.
MTC is now overseeing a two-year “transitional period” during which it has
pledged to hold presidential elections.
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