Militias Continue Looting People's Assets in Northeastern Syria
Militants Resume Talks With Russia in Southern Syria
Army Grants Amnesty to Tens of Militants in Dara'a Province
halts attack on Yemen port city to help UN negotiator
bombing wounds 19 at Iraq ballot warehouse
Russia pursue talks over battered south Syria
Syria: Turkish Army Keeps Forces on Alert after Huge Blasts in Afrin
Reconciliation Talks with Militants Fail in Dara'a Province
begins building border fence with Syria to block Daesh entry
Racism And Extremism Permeating Islam
will win over Umno, PAS supporters, says Mujahid
opposition names backup candidate
Insurgents Killed In ANSF Operations: Afghan Ministry
Decisions Regarding War, Peace Not To Have Tangible Outcome: Jamiat
Reiterates Longstanding Demand For Peace Deal With Afghan Government
Killed In Afghanistan Suicide Bombing: 17 Sikhs, Hindus, Among Dead; Islamic
State Claims Responsibility
problem’ should be resolved with Pakistan’s assistance: Afghan president
Fears Losing Ties with Islamic Parties
lost generation: Rohingya children face bleak future
conduct over 20 airstrikes in support of nationwide resumption of ANDSF
still unsafe for return of Rohingya: Red Cross
Candidates Rise Above Trump Hostility to Focus on Issues
Robbins Slams Trump Immigration Policies, Muslim Travel Ban
king said will boost oil output if needed: White House
Ayatollah Khamenei will not negotiate with Trump
US will sanction European companies in business with Iran
Suggests Extending Olive Branch to Taliban
renews govt pledge to rout terror financing
chairman Bilawal Bhutto's convoy attacked in party stronghold Lyari
hands India list of 471 Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails
Rape Case Spurs Protests by Hindu, Muslim Groups; Lawyers Refuse to Represent
Embassy in Afghanistan Condemns Deadly Attack on Hindus, Sikhs
Big Communal Riot in India in Last Four Years, Says Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi
accused of fanning tensions in Jammu and Kashmir
Modi condemns terrorist attack in Afghanistan
Muslims Gift Bikes To Councillors Who Didn’t Back BJP in Municipality Polls
Hadi: Houthis Must Surrender Weapons, Withdraw For Peace In Yemen
on Yemen's Hodeida Halted As UN Pursues Talks
claim of halt in offensive against Hudaydah not true: Yemen’s Ansarullah
military sends tank, artillery to Syrian front ‘as precaution’
Griffiths ‘heading to Sanaa’ to convince Houthis to withdraw from Hodeidah
Coalition: Seven ships unload their cargo at Hodeidah port
deploys more artillery, armored reinforcements in occupied Golan
suspends offensive against Yemen's Hudaydah
Malian Forces Attacked In Northern Malian Town of Gao
Soldiers Killed, Four Missing In Boko Haram Attack in Niger
civilians killed, soldiers wounded in Mali attack on French troops
car bomb kills two civilians
seeks ceasefire for southwest Syria after army gains
Terror List Implicates Turkey in Jihadist Enterprise
Francis decries new attacks in Syria's Daraa province
Hebdo terror mentor' may return to family in Britain on release
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Delivers Friday Sermons In English, French
— Egypt’s Minister of Awqaf Mohamed Mokhtar Jumaa announced June 24 a reward of
60,000 Egyptian pounds ($3,355) for those who pass the foreign-language program
exam organized by the Egyptian Ministry of Awqaf. This comes in the framework
of the ministry’s efforts to expand French and English teaching programs
targeting mosque preachers.
on June 21, the Ministry of Awqaf gave renewed support to Ismail al-Rawi as
director of the Awqaf Department of the South Sinai governorate given his great
efforts in spreading the moderate religious discourse adopted by the Ministry
of Awqaf and Al-Azhar in Egypt.
the ministry’s language program, imams and preachers attend as many sessions as
their assessment exam results require. These sessions range between two weeks
and a year depending on the preachers’ level. And the courses are given by
language and translation professors from Al-Azhar University. Once the sessions
are over, the ministry selects those with the highest grades and sends them to
deliver sermons in French and English in tourist areas such as South Sinai
governorate, where the city of Sharm el-Sheikh is located, and the Red Sea
governorate, where the city of Hurghada is located.
Ministry of Awqaf said June 9 that 22 imams had been selected to deliver
sermons in English and French in cities and governorates that have major
order for tourists to attend the Friday sermon and learn about the moderate and
tolerant teachings of Islam, the South Sinai Awqaf Department has allocated a
changing room for tourists in the Sahaba Mosque, the largest mosque in Sharm
newspapers such as Albawabh News and Sada El Balad praised the ministry’s plan,
as it allows tourists who listen to such sermons to learn about and spread
moderate Islamic teachings in their own countries.
newspapers that praised the experiment said attempts aimed at spreading such
Islamic thought and teachings through foreign languages help bolster the image
of Islam and confront what is known in Western societies as “Islamophobia” due
to the spread of terrorism across the world by extremist Islamic organizations
such as the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda.
appointment of foreign-language-speaking preachers in governorates that get a
lot of tourists is an extension of the Ministry of Awqaf's policy to spread a
unified foreign-language Friday sermon in Egyptian mosques through the official
website of the ministry. Imams currently deliver unified sermons in Arabic,
English and French across Egypt.
have been condensed so as to be delivered in the three languages in one hour
Sobhi, the imam of the Sahaba mosque in Sharm el-Sheikh, told Al-Monitor, “We
started delivering the Friday sermon in English and French in March 2017, just
as the Ministry of Awqaf inaugurated the Sahaba Mosque. The sermon is now
initially preached in Arabic, then in English and French. We gradually started
to implement the system and sent more preachers who are fluent in foreign
languages to several mosques around Sharm el-Sheikh. The imams of the Sharm
el-Sheikh and Hurghada mosques speak English, and some of them speak French as
praised the Ministry of Awqaf’s efforts and pointed out that the experiment has
been possible because the Ministry of Awqaf managed to establish language
centers in governorates that draw a lot of tourists, especially in South Sinai.
stressed that the experiment will gradually help change the Western perception
of Islam and Muslims and show Westerners that Muslims are people of peace, not
war and terrorism. This is especially true because the plan coincided with the
efforts of tourism companies and the Ministry of Tourism to turn the Sahaba
mosque, which has a distinguished architecture characterized by a number of
decorated domes and minarets, into an attraction where tourists can take
added that the efforts of the Ministry of Awqaf have not been limited to
foreign-language sermons alone. During the celebration of the birth of the
Prophet Muhammad in November 2017, the ministry organized around mosques
several artistic events that included religious songs, Sufi whirling and the
distribution of sweets. Many newspapers, he said, reported the influx of
tourists who came to attend this celebration proves Islam’s respect for the
Motleb Abdel Hamid, a professor of public relations at the Sadat Academy for
Administrative Sciences, praised the Ministry of Awqaf’s plan in an interview
with Al-Monitor. “The most sincere activities that can change Western
societies’ perception of Islamic societies are the activities that are
naturally and spontaneously practiced by Muslims,” he said.
these, he added, reflect Muslim refinement, the Friday sermons affirm the
tolerance of Islam and come to respond to extremist fatwas and acts.
tourists to put on decent clothes and enter the mosque during the Friday
sermons also conveys a positive image of Islam. It shows tourists that had
Islam been really calling for the killing of non-Muslims, then tourists would
not have been allowed in mosques. This also allows tourists to convey a
positive image of Islam and Muslims to their families and society as a whole.
What’s more, the artistic activities organized around mosques convey the true
spirit of Islam and help tourists associate Islam with the arts,” Abdel Hamid
contrast, Mohamed El-Sakhawy, a marketing consultant who worked for some of the
largest tourism agencies in Egypt such as Travco Travel Company of Egypt,
dismissed the efforts of the Ministry of Awqaf as useless.
told Al-Monitor, “Tourists do not care about whether or not Muslims are people
of peace. Tourists look for secure, clean and regulated countries. And Egypt
lags behind in this area. This has nothing to do with Islam. The evidence is
the booming tourism sector in Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia and Morocco, all of
which are Muslim countries.”
continued, “The efforts of the Ministry of Awqaf will not be of any benefit to
the Egyptian tourism sector, even if their mere purpose was to improve the
image of Islam. This is not an effort that the Egyptian state should bear alone
but jointly with all the countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation
and all the Muslims residing in Western societies. The state should not focus
on activities that improve the image of Islam but on ones that promote tourism
and establish security.”
Convention against Torture Not Against Islamic Law, Forum Told
LUMPUR, July 2 — Panellists at a human rights forum said discouraging the use
of torture or cruel punishment by public officials is wholly in line with
Islamic principles and laws.
the workshop on the United Nations’ Convention against Torture and Other Cruel,
Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Uncat) panellist and Universiti
Malaya law lecturer Prof Siti Zubaidah Ismail said a holistic view of the
Shariah permitted sentences that were not punitive in nature.
noted that Article One of the convention that defines torture also does not
include legally-valid punishments by public officials.
is open room for interpretation, but I believe further discussion is needed to
see if our society can tolerate the notion of not using physical punishment
(when sentencing crimes)” she said, adding that it is also important to observe
trends in other Islamic countries that have ratified the UNCAT, including
Tunisia, Turkey, Morocco, and Egypt, among others.
organised by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia and the Centre For Human
Rights Research and Advocacy, the panel also included Uncat committee member
Abdelwahab Hani, from Tunisia.
asked how long it would take for the Muslim world to transition from
punishments deemed torture, Abdelwahab said three factors have to be
is torture by public officials, such as to extract information or confessions,
which from my experience most Islamic countries totally agree (should be
stopped) as it is a sign of an authoritarian state,
is the cultural aspect, which includes caning children at home or in school. I
think this will take more time but it is possible to convince the wider society
that one can uphold Islamic values without the use of violence,” he said.
said the third involves the punishment of criminals, which he said varies
greatly among Muslim nations.
there are 73 different ways of interpreting Islamic law, subject to the school
of jurisprudence (madhab), or whether one is Sunni or Shia. Malaysia’s
interpretation itself is but one of the 73 ways,
and large there are discussions among religious scholars who are considering
the possibility of moving to replace corporal or even capital punishment with
longer prison sentences or fines. So we have to wait and see what the outcome
is,” he said.
Afghans Beheaded, School Torched In Suspected Islamic State Attack
men were beheaded and a boys’ school was torched by unidentified gunmen in
Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, in an attack officials
blamed on Islamic State militants.
brutally beheaded three attendants and set fire to the school building,”
Mohammad Asif Shinwari, spokesman for the education department said, adding
that the administrative offices and the school library were completely burnt.
far no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which came after
warnings from Islamic State last month of attacks on schools in Nangarhar, on
the border with Pakistan, where the militants have established their main
a statement, the provincial governor blamed the incident on Islamic State,
which has conducted a series of brutal attacks in the province and other areas,
regularly beheading victims they accuse of cooperating with the government.
Taliban, Pakistan over Peace Talks
The United States has said the Taliban’s failure to engage in talks to end
Afghanistan’s nearly 17-year conflict is “unacceptable” and called on Pakistan
to exert more pressure on the militants.
envoy Alice Wells made the remarks during a visit to Kabul on Saturday, two
weeks after an unprecedented ceasefire triggered spontaneous street
celebrations involving Taliban fighters and security forces.
think it [the ceasefire reaction] creates this impulse for everyone to renew
their efforts to find a negotiated political solution,” Ms Wells, the principal
deputy assistant secretary for the State Department’s Bureau of South and
Central Asian Affairs, told reporters in remarks embargoed until Sunday.
I think it’s becoming simply unacceptable for the Taliban not to negotiate.”
The Taliban have so far ignored President Ashraf Ghani’s offer of peace
negotiations. Instead, they have insisted on direct talks with the United
States, which Washington has repeatedly refused.
of the Taliban’s key demands for engaging in talks is the complete withdrawal
of foreign troops from Afghanistan.
Wells said that since the Afghan government and United States were willing to
start talking without preconditions, the onus was now on the Taliban to
respond. “Right now it’s the Taliban leaders... who aren’t residing in
Afghanistan, who are the obstacle to a negotiated political settlement,” she
Wells, who is due to hold talks in Pakistan on Monday, said Islamabad needed to
do more to pressurise the Taliban and bring them to the negotiating table.
has an important role to play... but we have not yet seen that sustained and
decisive action on the part of Islamabad,” she said. “It’s going to be very
hard for us to achieve our objectives... if Pakistan isn’t working with us.” —
Ghani has said that Afghanistan and Pakistan have forged a unique deal to root
out terrorism from their region, Anwar Iqbal in Washington adds.
Ghani’s statement — made at a Saturday afternoon event in Kabul — came a day
after the Afghan government formally ended the Eid ceasefire, allowing Afghan
forces to resume fighting after more than two weeks of unprecedented peace.
has been agreed on paper for the first time. The Afghanistan-Pakistan
negotiations framework is now on paper. Now, serious actions are required,” Mr
Tolo news agency reported that the Afghan president also talked about “some
recent improvements” in counter-terrorism cooperation between Afghanistan and
Pakistan but did not explain what those improvements were.
Ghani insisted that “the issue of Taliban should be solved in our relations
with Pakistan,” said the Tolo report. “Some things have been done in this
respect and some things are still needed to be done,” he added.
report — reproduced by some US media outlets — also included a quote from Zahid
Nasrullah, Pakistan’s ambassador to Kabul, pointing out that Pakistan had
strongly supported the Eid ceasefire.
President Mamnoon Hussain was in China when he announced that Pakistan is
strongly supporting the ceasefire. Pakistan knows its role well in peace and
reconciliation in Afghanistan and we will fulfil our role very well,” he said.
calls Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman a ‘magnet drawn to power’
Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Sunday said that JUI-F chief
Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman is just like a magnet which is drawn to power as he
becomes coalition partner with every ruling party.
is the magnet who sticks to anybody who gets into power,” the PTI chief said
while addressing a public gathering in Bannu. He asked if the JUI-F chief who
has long been chairman of the Kashmir committee with different governments had
done anything for the Kashmiris.
also berated Akram Khan Durrani, JUI-F MNA from Bannu, along Fazl for being
part of the government of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who is accused of
billions of rupees embezzlement in the public exchequer. “When Akram Durrani
asks you for votes you need to ask him questions. You ask Akram Durrani what
did they do about the power projects they announced here? Ask him about where
the allocated money was spent,” he said, adding that the PTI government built
four micro hydel power projects in Bannu district and 300 micro hydel power
projects in the areas where there was no electricity.
who will be contesting elections from NA-35 Bannu against Durrani, said that he
would be contesting a ‘Pharaoh’. “The condition of Fazl and Durrani improved
but Bannu’s condition is deteriorating,” he said.
lamented that the condition of entire country has worsened as the US dollar has
risen to Rs125.”When dollar rises against rupee, petroleum and electricity
become expensive too. At this time in the sub-continent, electricity is most
expensive in Pakistan,” he claimed.
example of the education system in England, he narrated a story saying, “I want
to tell you a story today, so listen to me carefully. I called on Aneel
Musarrat, a young man from England. He was seven when his father died but he
studied free in public schools there. Today despite having lost his father as a
young child, he is one of the biggest tax paying businessmen of UK. Why?
Because the UK government took his responsibility. This is the kind of system I
want for Pakistan where even an orphan who has no support, when given an
opportunity, should be able to reach the maximum of his potential.” Imran said
for that reason he wanted to boost the status of government schools and that’s
what the PTI did in KP in its government. “Pakistan’s system should be such
that anyone who works hard should be able to get opportunities and grow in
life,” he said.
PTI chief said for the first time ever, a government thought about the next
generations instead of next election and planted one billion trees in KP. “I’m
contesting election with you, you make me win and I will not disappoint you.
You pray to Allah that may the party that can eradicate poverty and bring
respect to the green passport win,” he said.
US-Backed Militias Continue Looting People's Assets
in Northeastern Syria
Jul 01, 2018
Locals from Albu Sha'aban tribe hoisted the Syrian
government flag in several regions, including over the Governorate Building,
Municipality Sports Stadium and Ferdows Grand Mosque, on Sunday.
In the meantime, the SDF attacked the villages of
Khaniz al-Kasha, Khaniz al-Salman and al-Rahyat in Northern Raqqa and closed
off entrances to the villages.
The SDF further embarked on destroying and looting
residential units in the villages and arrested a number of young men, accusing
them of cooperating with Liwa al-Thowar of Raqqa rival group.
The SDF later gathered the villagers and threatened
them not to cooperate with Liwa al-Thowar.
In a relevant development but in Hasaka province,
the SDF embarked again on cracking down people's residential units in the
villages and towns in Southeastern Hasaka, including al-Dashisha, Albu Hasoun,
al-Hassan al-Ali and al-Hendisin and looted civilians' properties and assets.
In the meantime, a local sources said that US-led
coalition warplanes pounded al-Dashisha and Tal al-Shayer regions in Hasaka,
killing and wounding tens of people and forcing hundreds more to leave their
Meanwhile, the SDF claimed that its militants
managed to impose full control over the villages of Jadideh and al-Zibeh in
The SDF continued forced recruitment of young men in
Southeastern Deir Ezzur and arrested several more in the small town of
al-Shahil in Deir Ezzur.
Takfiri militants resume talks with Russia in
Jul 1, 2018
Foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants have re-launched
peace negotiations with the Russian military in a bid to reach a ceasefire in
southwestern Syria as government troops and allied fighters from popular
defense groups are making territorial gains there.
“The talks have resumed this morning between the
Russian side and the opposition in southern Syria under Jordanian auspices,”
Ibrahim al Jabawi, the spokesman for the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA)
negotiators, said on Sunday.
The development came a day after talks between
Russian negotiators and the team representing Takfiri militants in the town of
Busra al-Sham of the southern province of Dara'a broke down, after the latter
demanded a complete surrender and the former refused to hand in heavy arms.
Also on Sunday, Syrian army soldiers raised the
national flag over a number of buildings in the town of Dael, located
approximately 14 kilometers north of Dara’a, after declaring the area safe and
free from terrorists, who had earlier turned themselves in and handed over
Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that
hundreds of locals gathered in the town’s main square, and praised the
sacrifices and heroism of Syrian army troopers in the fight against terrorism.
Syria’s southwest is strategically sensitive because
of its proximity to the frontiers with both Jordan and the Israeli-occupied
The recapture of Dara’a is highly important because
it borders the occupied Golan Heights which Israel has used to treat wounded
militants for years.
The territory's return to the Syrian government
control would cut the much-reported collaboration between Israel and militants
and deal a blow to Tel Aviv's plans to annex the Golan Heights.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy
since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western
and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc
in the country.
Russia has been helping Syrian forces in an ongoing
battle in the province of Dayr al-Zawr as the Daesh terrorist group struggles
to keep its last positions in eastern Syria.
The Russian military assistance, which began in
September 2015 at the official request of the Syrian government, has proved
effective as the Syrians continue to recapture key areas from Daesh and other
terrorist groups across the country with the backing of Russian air cover.
On May 21, the General Command of the Syrian Army
and Armed Forces announced in a statement that complete security was restored
to Damascus and its countryside after al-Hajar al-Aswad district and al-Yarmouk
camp had been totally purged of Daesh terrorists.
The development was preceded by flushing the
Takfiris out of the towns of Yalda, Babbila and Beit Sahem on the southern
outskirts of Damascus.
Syrian Army Grants Amnesty to Tens of Militants in
The Russian center said that a sum of 250 militants
that had laid down their weapons and surrendered to the army received
government amnesty in Dara'a province.
The center further said that the militants handed
over 118 personal weapons, three military vehicles and a large volume of
ammunition to the army.
The army gained control over 10 villages and
settlements in Dara'a after the terrorists joined the reconciliation plan on
Battlefield sources said on Saturday that the
representatives of the militants in the towns of Tayebeh, Saida, Um al-Mayazin,
Ibta, Da'el and Nasib endorsed the peace agreement with the army.
Meantime, citizens in the town of Um Walad in
Eastern Dara'a staged protests against the terrorists and hoisted the Syrian
government's flag, calling for the Syrian troops.
The sources said that the terrorists' lines in the
remaining regions have collapsed, adding that infighting among militants has
intensified over surrendering the regions under their control to the Syrian
Meantime, tens of residents of Dara'a managed to
escape to the areas under the Syrian army's control through human corridors
determined by the army.
UAE halts attack on Yemen port city to help UN
July 02, 2018
ABU DHABI: The United Arab Emirates on Sunday
announced it had halted the offensive it was backing against Houthi rebels in
Yemen’s port city of Hodeida to give a chance to UN diplomatic efforts.
In a series of tweets, UAE Foreign Minister Anwar
Gargash said the pause was aimed at pursuing negotiations for an unconditional
rebel withdrawal from the port but warned that full military action could
The weeks-long offensive on Hodeida — Yemen’s main
port — has raised fears of further suffering and deprivation in a country
already deeply shaken by years of war between the Iran-backed Houthis and
President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi’s Gulf-backed government.
Pointing to a renewed push for a negotiated
settlement by UN envoy Martin Griffiths, Mr Gargash said: “We have paused our
campaign to allow enough time for this option to be fully explored. We hope he
He said the pause had been in effect since June 23
and while there was continued “pressure on the parameter”, pro-government
forces were awaiting the results of an upcoming visit by Mr Griffiths to the
rebel-held capital Sanaa.
Mr Griffiths met Mr Hadi in the southern city of
Aden on Wednesday and is reported to be pushing for the Houthis to cede control
of Hodeida to the United Nations.
In a speech published by the state-run Saba news
agency, Hadi on Sunday hailed the military for its “great victories” in the
face of “the most dangerous project of Iranian expansion” Yemen faced.
The rebels, Shia tribes with ties to Iran, have said
they may be willing to share control of Hodeida’s port with the UN but say
their forces must remain in the docks and the rest of the Red Sea city.
The Houthis have controlled Hodeida and its port
since 2014, when they also drove the Hadi government out of the capital and
seized large swathes of northern Yemen. On June 13, the UAE and its allies,
including Saudi Arabia, launched a massive military operation — dubbed “Golden
Victory” — to drive the rebels out of the port.
Pro-government forces managed to seize control of
Hodeida’s airport in mid-June after days of heavy fighting but did not
immediately push forward into the city, home to some 600,000 people and about
150 kilometres west of Sanaa.
The fighting has claimed 429 lives, according to
military and medical sources.
There are no confirmations of civilian casualties,
although the UN has documented thousands of residents fleeing combat zones.
Mr Gargash said the operation had succeeded in
“forcing the Houthis to make concessions”, but it remained to be seen “whether
the Houthis are engaging seriously with this process or using it as a tactic to
“Failing these patient efforts we believe that
continued military pressure will ultimately bring the liberation of Hodeida and
force the Houthis to engage seriously in negotiations.”
Analysts have ruled out major concessions by the
rebels in Hodeida without talks on the rest of Yemen’s territory. “The Houthis
will not make concessions unless they are guaranteed the upper hand in central
and northern Yemen,” said Yemeni analyst Najib Ghallab.
The regional pro-government alliance on Sunday
accused the Houthis of “holding hostage” ships docked in the Hodeida port.
Riyadh and its allies earlier imposed a major
blockade on the port after a series of rebel missiles were fired from Yemen
into Saudi Arabia.
The coalition accuses Iran of smuggling weapons to
the Houthis through Hodeida port, a charge Tehran denies.
Mr Griffiths was in the Gulf sultanate of Oman on
Thursday, where he met top rebel negotiator Mohammed Abdulsalam, UN radio
Mr Griffiths spoke of progress on the radio and said
a proposal to grant the UN a major role in managing the Hodeida port was being
Both the UAE and the Hadi government have held firm
to their refusal of anything short of a full withdrawal of the Houthi rebels
The UN has not publicly commented on Mr Griffiths’
talks on the Hodeida conflict.
A source close to the Yemeni president said Mr
Griffiths was expected to return to Aden, where the Hadi government is
temporarily based, for another round of talks.
Some 70 per cent of imports to Yemen, where eight
million people face imminent famine, flow through the port of Hodeida.
Nearly 10,000 people have died in the Yemen war
since 2015, when Saudi Arabia and its allies joined the government’s fight
against the Houthis.
The United Nations has called Yemen the world’s
largest humanitarian crisis.
Suicide bombing wounds 19 at Iraq ballot warehouse
Kirkuk - A suicide bombing Sunday targeting a
warehouse in Kirkuk where ballot boxes from Iraq's May elections were stored
wounded 19 people, days before a vote recount, a security source said. "Nine
policemen, six members of a counter-terrorist unit and four civilians were
wounded when a car bomb driven by a suicide bomber exploded at the main gate of
the warehouse," the source said. The building was damaged by the blast but
the ballot boxes were unaffected, said Rakan al-Juburi, the governor of Kirkuk
north of Baghdad.
Iraq's supreme court has ordered a manual vote
recount in polling stations where results from the May legislative elections
were contested following allegations of fraud. The ballot was won by populist
Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr's electoral alliance with Communists, as long-time
political figures were pushed out by voters seeking change in a country mired
in conflict and corruption.
The vote recount is expected to begin on Tuesday in
the Kurdish provinces of Arbil, Sulaymaniyah and Dohuk, as well as in Kirkuk,
Nineveh, Salaheddin and Anbar, the spokesman of the electoral commission said
Members of the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS)
arrive at the scene of a suicide car bombing outside awarehouse where ballots
boxes from the May legislative polls were stored in the northern multi-ethnic
city of Kirkuk on July 1, 2018
Rebels, Russia pursue talks over battered south
Beirut - Syrian rebels and local officials pursued
talks with regime ally Russia on Sunday over the fate of a key southern region
facing a government offensive, a Britain-based monitor said.
The Jordan-backed talks came as a tentative calm
reigned over most fronts in the southern province of Daraa, the Syrian
Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.
A "ceasefire has largely held since Saturday at
7:00 pm (1600 GMT) to facilitate the ongoing negotiations," Observatory
chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
Since June 19, Russia-backed regime forces have
ramped up bombardment against opposition fighters in southern Syria as Damascus
pushes to retake the area.
The region borders Jordan and the Israeli-occupied
Golan Heights and is considered to be the cradle of the uprising against
President Bashar al-Assad seven years ago that sparked the civil war.
The regime has chipped away at rebel-held territory
in Daraa since the escalation began almost two weeks ago.
Most fronts were quiet Sunday with the exception of
areas near Tafas in Daraa's northwest hit by regime air strikes, the
Clashes between rebels and regime forces in the same
area killed four opposition fighters, it said.
Russia is seeking the rebel handover of heavy and
medium-sized weapons, and the deployment of Russian military police and Syrian
police into towns retaken by government forces, Abdel Rahman said. Damascus and
Moscow are pushing for a deal that would see regime forces take over the Naseeb
border crossing with Jordan and deploy along the frontier with the Golan
Heights, he said.
An AFP correspondent outside Daraa city - part of
which is held by rebels - said Saturday night had been quiet, with only
After retaking control of eight towns under
Russia-mediated deals on Saturday, Assad's regime now controls more than half
of Daraa province, up from just 30 percent before the escalation, according to
State news agency SANA said Sunday the national flag
had been hoisted in one of these towns, Dael, while Syrian state television
showed images of people celebrating.
Regime forces have retaken large parts of the
country lost to rebels since Russia intervened on its behalf in 2015.
The conflict has killed more than 350,000 people and
displaced millions since it started in 2011.
A handout picture released by the official Syrian
Arab News Agency (SANA) on June 30, 2018, shows Syrian government soldiers in
the town of Western Ghariyah, about 15 kilometres (9 miles) east of Daraa city
Northern Syria: Turkish Army Keeps Forces on Alert
after Huge Blasts in Afrin
Jul 01, 2018
Hawar news reported that two bombs went off in the
town of Afrin in Central Garage near Ashiyeh Petrol Station leaving a number of
casualties among the Ankara-backed militants.
In the meantime, the Turkey-backed gunmen engaged in
fierce clashes in the Central part of the town of Afrin and also in Jandaris
Local sources reported that the Turkish army has
placed its troops on alert in Afrin and closed off all roads to the town after
Sources in the Turkey-controlled town of al-Bab also
reported that the Ankara-backed militant front seems to feel deep concerns
after their comrades sustained heavy casualty in Afrin.
In a relevant development on Saturday militants of
al-Shamiyeh Front and al-Moatasem Brigade affiliated to the Free Syrian Army
(FSA) engaged in tough battle in downtown Afrin which resulted in the death of
7 terrorists from both sides and injury of many more, battlefield sources said.
The sources noted that al-Shamiyeh Front and
al-Moatasem Brigade were holding a meeting to put an end to their differences
at the presence of a peace committee, but the clashes erupted between them and
three members of the peace committee were also killed.
Several militants from both sides were killed and
wounded during the clashes.
Meantime, Hawar news reported that 36 civilians were
killed and 58 others were wounded in a series of explosions in Afrin.
Russian-Syrian Reconciliation Talks with Militants
Fail in Dara'a Province
A Russian delegation, affiliated to the Syrian Army,
along with Russian military police entered the town of Busra al-Sham in Eastern
Dara'a on Saturday to talk with militants over the reconciliation plan in
The militants refused to accept the Syrian Army's conditions
to hand over their weapons and position, pushing the talks into failure.
In the meantime, a field commander said that the
talks were the last Russian-Syrian attempts before military operation to take
back the remaining regions that are still under militants' control in Dara'a
The army has recently earned control over vital
regions in militant-held lands in Southern Syria.
Field sources reported on Saturday that the army
forces strengthened their military positions in Western Dara'a after imposing
full control over the strategic al-Zamitiyeh heights.
They said that the army forces could cut off the
road used by the terrorists to transfer military equipment between Eastern and
Western Dara'a to the borders with Jordan.
Reports also said that terrorists in the two towns
of Tafas and al-Mazirib in Western Dara'a have laid down their arms and
surrendered to the Syrian army forces.
Meantime, other army units operating in Eastern
Dara'a liberated the town of al-Jizeh and the villages of al-Sahweh and Kahil
after heavy clashes with the terrorists.
Iraq begins building border fence with Syria to
block Daesh entry
Iraq has embarked on a project to erect a fence
along its border with Syria as it seeks to block any attempt by Daesh Takfiri
militants to enter the country.
A border guards spokesman said Sunday that the new
fence, which includes a six-meter-wide trench and involves thermal cameras and
drones scanning the border, will cover an area of about 600 kilometers starting
from the town of al-Qaim in Anbar Province.
“Ten days ago we started to set up a barbed wire
security fence with surveillance towers along the border with Syria,” said
Anwar Hamid Nayef, adding that some 20 kilometers of the fence had already been
installed north of al-Qaim.
The official said if experts from Iraq’s Ministry of
Defense and officials from a coalition of foreign forces approve of the fence
and its specifications, the frontier barrier will stretch to the whole border
separating Iraq and Syria.
“If they approve the installations, we will continue
along the whole border with Syria,” said Nayef, adding that experts would come
“to evaluate the effectiveness of the fence”.
After fighting a fierce battle against Daesh that
lasted more than three years, Iraq declared a complete victory over the group
late last year, meaning that militants had been purged of their main bastions
in west and north of the country.
However, Daesh still holds pockets of land in Iraq
and in neighboring Syria and its forces still carry out frequent bomb attacks
on places of gathering in large Iraqi cities.
In a bid to further push back the militants, Iraq
has also expanded its military operations to target Daesh hideouts inside
Iraqi authorities said this week that they had found
bodies of eight captives killed by Daesh along a highway north of Baghdad.
DPM laments racism and extremism permeating Islam
01 July 2018
KUALA LUMPUR, July 1 — Islam today faces a crisis
due to multiple interpretations, including racism and extremism, Datuk Seri Dr
Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said today.
Speaking at a Hari Raya Aidifitri open house
organised by Gabungan Dakwah Malaysia, the deputy prime minister said the
crisis had implications, such as people who reject extremism being labelled as
liberal Muslims instead.
“When we look at the Prophet PBUH and how he united
the peoples of Medina into one community where everyone had the same rights and
responsibilities, we see an inclusive society in which Muslims and non-Muslims
living together is nothing extraordinary.
“Islam will not expand if its proponents continue to
spread division and discord among humankind, nor will others be attracted to
its beauty if these same proponents remain confused in the struggle to perfect
their faith and unity,” she said.
Dr Wan Azizah said it was crucial for Muslims to
remember their flaws and strive to rectify them, reminding everyone that life
must be experienced by supporting and counselling one another.
“Let us follow Islam in the vein of the Prophet
PBUH, not Islam based on rituals or the customs of any certain group or race.
“I am pleased to see people and leaders of other
faiths on this occasion. This inclusiveness that transcends racial limits
should be our approach in Malaysia, as how the Prophet PBUH and the al-Quran
commands,” she said.
PH will win over Umno, PAS supporters, says Mujahid
July 1, 2018
BUTTERWORTH: A Pakatan Harapan (PH) leader is
confident the ruling pact will win over the Malay electorate in the next few
years through targeted plans to improve business opportunities and reforms in
Amanah vice-president Mujahid Yusof Rawa said while
the lion’s share of the Malay votes were still with Umno and PAS, he believed
PH would win over their support.
He said PH would implement comprehensive economic
policies for the Malays and push for a progressive Islamic agenda.
Mujahid said while the prime minister had lined up
“entrepreneurship programmes” for Malays, a new Islamic affairs portfolio in
the government would see a change in the national policy on Islam.
“We will win them over in the next few years. It
might be sooner, just like how we did in Penang.
“Our target is to reform and mould progressive
Malays who embrace multiculturalism so that in the end, we will have Malays who
identify themselves as Malaysians first, rather than Malays first.
“The key is to break that Umno dogma. Give us time,
they have been around for over 60 years and insyaAllah we will prevail,” he
said after hosting a Hari Raya lunch at Sungai Dua here today.
Mujahid was responding to a question on Umno’s
Khairy Jamaluddin claiming that the party still had the majority of Malay votes
in the May 9 general election.
Khairy had said on Friday that Umno had 60% of the
Malay-Muslim votes in the country with 50-odd seats in Parliament and Umno
members ought to feel proud and not dejected by its electoral losses.
“KJ (Khairy) can keep on dreaming while holding on
to that statistic that Umno holds more sway over the Malays. Anyway, we are
very excited to see him as an opposition member in Parliament,” Mujahid said.
Meanwhile, commenting on the Umno polls, Mujahid
said he was shocked at Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s victory as party president, as he
was expecting a major change in leadership.
He said that when a party suffered a major electoral
defeat, it was normal to resort to new faces, but in the case of Umno, they had
stuck with the old leaders.
“I am stunned and shocked over Zahid winning. It
appears Umno members are still stuck in the old Umno mindset. How can a member
who is being investigated (by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) be
elected,” he said.
In a brief message, Amanah president and Defence
Minister Mohamad Sabu said he hoped Umno, under Zahid’s leadership, would play
the important role of check and balance in Parliament.
“His party should criticise us, whenever they feel
something is not right, through democratic means in Parliament. They should be
responsible opposition members,” he said.
Maldives opposition names backup candidate
July 01, 2018
AA UKULHAS, Maldives: The opposition alliance in the
Maldives has named a backup candidate for the presidential election later this
year, in the event the exiled former president is unable to contest due to
Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, a lawmaker from the main
opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, was named the backup candidate at the
party congress late Saturday.
The party congress approved a resolution saying that
former President Mohamed Nasheed would be the party’s preferred candidate, but
that if he fails to secure the candidacy, Solih will contest in his place.
Nasheed had earlier announced that he will not
contest the September election because the election commission had refused to
recognize his victory in a recent party primary.
Nasheed has been sentenced to 13 years in prison,
making him ineligible to contest the election. The verdict was widely
criticized as politically motivated, and the Supreme Court earlier this year
ordered Nasheed’s release and retrial, which the government refused to
President Yameen Abdul Gayoom was preparing to
contest the upcoming election virtually unopposed, with all of his potential
opponents either in jail or forced into exile. Following the Supreme Court
order to release and retry Nasheed, the government arrested the chief justice
and another judge. The remaining three Supreme Court justices then reversed
Solih, a 25-year lawmaker, has worked closely with
Nasheed in transforming the Maldives into a multiparty democracy.
The Indian Ocean archipelago nation had its first
multiparty election in 2008, with Nasheed defeating 30-year autocrat Maumoon
Nasheed resigned in 2012 amid public protests over
his order to the military to detain a sitting judge. He lost the 2013 election
to Gayoom’s half brother, Yameen, who has reversed many of the country’s
Gayoom is now an ally of the pro-Nasheed coalition
and was jailed by his half brother.
Yameen’s administration has also jailed his former
vice president, two defense ministers, the chief justice and a Supreme Court
judge, as well as many other politicians and officials.
63 insurgents killed in ANSF operations: Afghan
Afghanistan Ministry of Defense (MoD) said in a
statement on Sunday that at least 63 insurgents were killed in the past 24
hours during clearance operations by the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF)
across the country, reported Tolo news.
According to the statement in the past 24 hours, the
forces conducted 13 joint operations and 13 airstrikes against enemy hideouts.
The ministry claims that during the operation 33
insurgents were also wounded.
The operations were conducted in the Ghazni, Khost,
Maidan Wardak, Pakita, Uruzgan, Badghis, Farah, Faryab, Takhar, Kunduz, Nimroz
and Helmand provinces, MoD said.
The ministry said that during the operations weapons
caches and hideouts were destroyed.
The ministry did not provide further information
regarding casualties among security forces or civilians.
The Taliban has also not commented on the
This comes after President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday
announced the end of the ceasefire and ordered security forces to resume
operations across the country.
Speaking at a press conference at the Presidential
Palace in Kabul, Ghani said: “The ceasefire has ended, our security and defence
forces are allowed to carry out operations”.
Unilateral decisions regarding war, peace not to
have tangible outcome: Jamiat
Jul 01 2018
The Jamiat-e-Islami Party led by Salahuddin Rabbani
has warned that the unilateral decisions regarding peace and war with the
militant groups will not have a tangible outcome.
“In all countries, war and peace are issues on which
all peoples, particularly influential political movements, must decide on.
Legitimacy and success of both are contingent on national consensus,” the party
said in a statement.
The statement further added that “Unilateral
decisions on such matters by a select group in the NUG means ignoring the will
of the people and will not result in a tangible outcome.”
This comes as the Taliban group has so far refrained
to respond positively to the ongoing peace efforts despite the Afghan
government extended the ceasefire originally declared from 27th of Ramadan to
5th day of Eid.
In the meantime, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has
said that certain developments have been made in the ongoing peace efforts with
the Taliban group.
Speaking to a gathering of people in Nangarhar
province, President Ghani said developments have been made in peace sector as
he expressed hopes regarding the return of a lasting peace in the country.
He did not disclose further information in this
regard but emphasized that one of his main duties is to ensure the end of war
President Ghani once again reiterated the
government’s stance regarding the ceasefire and said he is prepared for further
ceasefire with the Taliban group.
Taliban reiterates longstanding demand for peace
deal with Afghan government
The Taliban militants group has reiterated its
longstanding demand in a bid to reach to a peace deal with the Afghan
government as efforts are underway to revive peace talks with the group.
The group published an article in response to the
ongoing efforts and demands for reconciliation, stating that if the Kabul
government has interests and belief in peace and wants true reconciliation,
then it should end the security agreement with the foreigners.
Taliban says peace efforts should only a motive for
peace and such efforts should not have a motive for instrumental use to achieve
victory in the war.
The group went on to claim that slogans for peace
will result into elimination of reconciliation and further escalation of war.
Taliban also accused the government and supporters
of Afghanistan for not having tendency towards peace and for hostage taking of
reconciliation and erecting walls on the way of peace.
This comes as President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on
Saturday said the nation demands peace and an end to the conflict and the
government has positively responded to the demands, emphasizing it is the time
that the Taliban should also respond positively.
Announcing the end of the extended ceasefire with
the Taliban, President Ghani said the Taliban group is facing the nation,
religious scholars of the country as well as Indonesia, Pakistan, Saudi Imams
and the clerics of the Islamic world.
He said such pressures existed on the government as
well which have been sidelined responsibly and the time has come that the
Taliban should also prove their responsibility and decide on how they are going
to face the pressures.
President Ghani once again called on Taliban to
reconcile as he emphasized that the existing pressures are domestic and have no
links with the outside.
19 killed in Afghanistan suicide bombing: 17 Sikhs,
Hindus, among dead; Islamic State claims responsibility
Jul 02, 2018
Jalalabad: A suicide bomb attack in a city in
eastern Afghanistan where President Ashraf Ghani was visiting, killed at least
19 people including the only Sikh candidate in upcoming legislative elections,
officials said Sunday.
The attacker struck a market located hundreds of
metres from the provincial governor's compound where Ghani was holding
meetings, governor spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told AFP.
Of the 19 killed, 17 were Sikhs and Hindus,
provincial health director Najibullah Kamawal told AFP. Another 20 people were
wounded in the attack.
Avtar Singh, the only Sikh candidate running in the
20 October parliamentary and district council elections, was among the dead, an
Indian embassy official said. In a statement the embassy condemned the
"cowardly terrorist" attack.
The attack was claimed by the Islamic State group.
There were scenes of anguish at the hospital where
grieving relatives wept and hugged each other as they waited for news of their
"It is over for us, we are finished, they have
massacred us, at least 10 of us," a man told AFP, too upset to give his
Small communities of Sikhs and Hindus reside in what
is otherwise an overwhelmingly Muslim nation. It is not clear if they were the
intended target of the attack.
Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish confirmed a
suicide bomber carried out the attack - the latest in a series of recent deadly
assaults in the restive province.
Ghani's spokesman said the president was still in
Nangarhar but was "away from danger".
Ghani arrived in Jalalabad earlier Sunday to open a
hospital, part of a two-day visit to the province bordering Pakistan.
The attack came a day after Ghani ordered Afghan
security forces to resume offensive operations against the Taliban following
the expiry of the government's 18-day ceasefire.
The government's unilateral truce overlapped with
the Taliban's three-day ceasefire for Eid, but the militants refused to prolong
The unprecedented ceasefire over the holiday capping
Ramzan triggered spontaneous street celebrations involving Taliban fighters,
security forces, and war-weary civilians.
But it was marred by two suicide attacks in
Nangarhar that killed dozens of people and were claimed by Islamic Sstate,
which has a smaller but relatively potent presence in Afghanistan.
Islamic State was not part of the ceasefire.
The attack comes as US envoy Alice Wells visits
Kabul as part of efforts to ratchet up pressure on the Taliban to engage in
The Taliban have so far ignored Ghani's offer of
peace negotiations. Instead, they have insisted on direct talks with the United
States, which Washington has repeatedly refused.
Wells said that since the Afghan government and
United States were willing to start talking without preconditions, the onus was
now on the Taliban to respond.
"Right now it's the Taliban leaders... who
aren't residing in Afghanistan, who are the obstacle to a negotiated political
settlement," Wells said in remarks embargoed until Sunday.
Wells, who is due to hold talks in Pakistan on
Monday, said Islamabad also needed to do more to squeeze the Taliban and get
them to the negotiating table.
"Pakistan has an important role to play... but
we have not yet seen that sustained and decisive action on the part of
Islamabad," she said.
‘Taliban problem’ should be resolved with Pakistan’s
assistance: Afghan president
A day after Afghan security forces resumed offensive
operations after the government declared an end to the government’s unilateral
ceasefire with the Taliban, President Ashraf Ghani elaborated breakthroughs
achieved in finding solutions to the ‘Taliban problem’ in Afghanistan with the
help from Pakistan, Tolo News reported.
“The issue of Taliban should be solved in our
relations with Pakistan. Some things have been done in this respect and some things
are still needed to be done,” he said at an event in Kabul.
He added: “It has been agreed on paper for the first
time. The Afghanistan-Pakistan negotiations framework is now on paper. Now,
serious actions are required.”
Ghani also revealed ‘improvements’ in countering
terrorism. “We should clearly agree on this, on how we will work with each
other in the future and how we will prevent other movements.”
Although the Afghan president did not clarify on
details of the written agreement, the two countries recently agreed on key
principals to operationalise the working groups for counter-terrorism during in
a meeting between former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Ghani held
under Afghanistan Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS).
APAPPS provides for a framework to strengthen mutual
trust and deepen interaction in all spheres of bilateral engagements. It is
also a mechanism for finding solutions to bilateral areas of concern.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Kabul Zahid
Nasrullah also stressed on strengthening ties between the two neighbours. “We
welcome the ceasefire and strongly supported it. Pakistan’s President Mamnoon
Hussain was in China when he announced that Pakistan is strongly supporting the
ceasefire,” he said.
“Pakistan knows its role well in peace and
reconciliation in Afghanistan and we will fulfil our role very well.”
The ceasefire kicked in on Eid. The three days of no
fighting were unprecedented in the nearly 17-year conflict and triggered
jubilant scenes across the war-weary country.
Taliban fighters and security forces spontaneously
celebrated the holiday that caps the holy month of Ramazan, hugging each other
and taking selfies.
The militants were also mobbed by relieved
civilians, who have borne the brunt of the war, raising hopes of a renewed push
for peace talks.
The insurgents returned to the battlefield last week
after refusing a government request to extend their ceasefire, launching
attacks across the country that have seen scores killed or injured.
The renewed violence has poured cold water on hopes
the truce would provide a clear path to peace talks, with the Taliban refusing
to bow to pressure to lay down their arms until foreign forces withdraw from
The truces did not extend to the so-called Islamic
State group, which has a relatively small but potent presence in Afghanistan,
and launched two deadly attacks on ceasefire revellers during Eid.
BNP fears losing ties with Islamic parties
July 2nd, 2018
Party leaders are still in the dark about how to
lure Islamic parties to the alliance for contesting the upcoming election
With BNP out of power for more than a decade, Islamic
parties are now showing less interest in forming alliances with the party.
There was a time when BNP was the harbour for the
Islamic parties. In the current scenario, only a few unknown and breakaway
Islamic parties are components of the BNP–led 20-party alliance.
Since BNP’s arch political rival, Awami League, has
been in power for about 10 years, most Islamic parties are trying to build good
relations with the ruling party, which is worrying the BNP.
According to BNP top brass, Awami League is attempting
to take away Islamic parties from their alliance.
But they are still in the dark about how to lure the
Islamic parties in the alliance for contesting the upcoming national election,
scheduled for December.
Leaders of Islamic parties think if they form
alliance with the Awami League then their interest will be served better than
joining with BNP.
However, BNP leaders said that though there are many
Islamic parties in the country, they have few votes. Forming alliance with
Islamic parties will not make a lot of impact in the upcoming election.
BNP chief’s media wing member Shamsuddin Didar told
the Dhaka Tribune that Awami League is playing games with Islamic parties. On
one hand, it has developed ties with Hefazat-e-Islam and on the other hand it
is also courting non-believers.
“The Awami League-led government is saying that
Islamic parties are the main source of fundamentalist and extremist forces, and
they are also trying to build good ties with them for the sake of votes,” he
After the crackdown on Hefazat’s procession on May
5, 2013, Awami League developed ties with the organization, aiming to get their
According to BNP leaders, several Islamic parties
are going to form alliance with the incumbent opposition Jatiya Party. During
the election Jatiya Party always serves Awami League’s purposes.
“We are observing Awami League’s moves regarding
Islamic parties,” said BNP Standing Committee Member Nazrul Islam Khan.
He said nearly a dozen Islamic parties are active in
Bangladesh’s politics and 10 of them are registered with the Election
Among those parties, only a faction of Islami Oikya
Jote, Khelafat Majlish and Jamiat Ulema-e Islam and few unregistered parties
are now members of the BNP-led 20-party alliance, the senior BNP leader added.
He hoped few other Islamic parties will join their
alliance before the election but refused to disclose the names of those
A lost generation: Rohingya children face bleak
July 01 2018
Seventeen-year-old Mohamed Zubayer once dreamed of
finishing school and getting a government job so he could help his Rohingya
community in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
But today he’s a refugee living in Bangladesh, where
the government bars formal education in the crowded camps, leaving a generation
of young people like Mohamed out of school and stuck in limbo.
“I wanted to be smart by studying,” said Mohamed,
who completed the eighth grade in Myanmar before fleeing to Bangladesh last
year. “I wanted to be a scholar to help the Rohingya community. But kids who
want to study are not getting the chance.”
Some 700,000 Rohingya refugees poured into
Bangladesh after Myanmar’s army launched a violent crackdown in northern
Rakhine State last August following a series of attacks by a Rohingya rebel
The Rohingya have found safety here, as well as food
and healthcare. But formal education is out of reach for 530,000 school-age
refugees, including the children of Rohingya who fled earlier waves of
violence, because Bangladesh’s government does not want the Rohingya to stay
long-term. Only a quarter of the school-age Rohingya have access to any kind of
instruction, through informal classrooms set up in the camps – but even this is
only for kids up to 14 years of age, and the level of the teaching itself
doesn’t go past the second year of primary school.
The government of Myanmar, for its part, won’t allow
its Burmese-language curriculum to be used in Bangladesh’s refugee camps. That
means the same government responsible for forcing the Rohingya out of Myanmar
has effectively blocked Rohingya children from continuing their education in
“The next generation, they have no dreams,” said
Serazul Mustafa, a refugee leader in Kutupalong camp, the largest in
Bangladesh. “If you have graduated from fifth grade in Myanmar, you need to go
to sixth grade. But there’s no sixth grade, so what do we do? They can’t
continue their studies. They have no lives.”
Without formal schools, “temporary learning centres”
operated by NGOs like Save the Children and BRAC, a Bangladeshi aid group,
allow some children to attend classes for about two hours per day, but there’s
no certification to show they’ve completed a grade level.
The age and grade-level restrictions mean that the
temporary centres aren’t open to the majority of school-age Rohingya. Just one
quarter of school-age youth – about 130,000 children – attend the classes,
meaning that around 400,000 refugees who should be learning receive no
“They only educate the small kids,” said Kushida
Begum, a refugee mother whose three children attended fourth, fifth, and sixth
grades in Myanmar before the family fled to Bangladesh last year. “They say
there is no school for big kids here. I am dying by thinking about the kids’
Mohamed Abul Kalam, who leads Bangladesh’s Office of
the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission in Cox’s Bazar, said, “It is the
general understanding within the government that Rohingya repatriation will
begin soon, so formal schooling is not necessary (or) cost effective.”
But multiple waves of Rohingya have sought safe
haven in Bangladesh over decades. A plan to begin sending recent refugees back
to Myanmar fizzled earlier this year.
Kushida’s youngest, a daughter, has enrolled in one
of the camp’s learning centres, even though the classes are not advanced enough
for her. The two older children, both boys, don’t attend classes.
“When I remember about the school (in Myanmar), I feel
sad, because now I can’t study anymore,” said Kushida’s younger son, Forizul.
His brother, Mohamed, added, “Now we’re just sitting and doing nothing.”
In Myanmar, education was never a given for Rohingya
children. Rohingya girls were often not sent to school, in part due to deep
conservatism within the community. But apartheid-like restrictions imposed on
the minority group meant all Rohingya children had spotty access to education.
And once in school, Rohingya children reported discrimination from teachers and
classmates of other ethnicities.
That means education levels among the Rohingya
children attending the camps’ temporary classrooms vary greatly: for some young
children, classes at the learning centres are the first education they’ve ever
received. For others, like Mohamed Zubayer’s younger brothers, aged nine and
11, they merely cover old ground.
“They only teach A, B, C. They just make them sit
and sing songs,” said their father, Rahim Ullah, who had sent the younger boys
to an NGO-run learning centre next to his hut. “I said, ‘I don’t approve (of)
this kind of education’.”
Rahim said he bought Burmese-language books to
supplement the boys’ studies. But, after two months, he pulled his sons out of
the centre. Now, they attend one of the madrassas, which have proliferated in
the camps along with the new refugees’ makeshift tents. Some madrassas offer a
secular education alongside religious schooling, but Rahim says the classes
there are still subpar.
“Education is a right,” Rahim said. “If we don’t find
a way to teach our kids, what will we do?”
Money is one hurdle to providing education to more
refugee children. Donors have committed only 14% of the $47.3mn needed to fund
education in the camps, aid groups say.
A lack of space and proper facilities is also a
problem. The learning centres, like most of the structures in the teeming
camps, are flimsy shelters made of bamboo and plastic sheets. Of the 1,179
centres in the refugee settlements, 350 are threatened by floods or landslides
in the coming monsoon season.
Then there’s the fact that last year’s refugee
influx was so large and so sudden that Bangladesh’s government and aid groups
struggled to feed and house the new arrivals, let alone provide emergency
Any wider education programme must be designed “in
an organised way”, said Pawan Kucita, the Unicef education chief in Bangladesh.
“That means we have a proper curriculum, proper teachers, proper materials.
Otherwise, education for the children will not be meaningful.”
But the governments of both Myanmar and Bangladesh
have balked at establishing a formal education system in the Rohingya camps.
There’s no Rohingya-language curriculum because the
language has no widely used script. Myanmar’s government won’t approve the
Burmese-language curriculum for use in Bangladesh, said Risto Ihalainen, the
co-ordinator for aid groups working on education in the camps. And the
Bangladeshi government won’t allow Rohingya refugee children to learn in
Bangla, Bangladesh’s official language. That means the host country’s
curriculum is also off limits.
“That is the fear that the government has: If they
have education in Bangla, (the Rohingya) might try to be Bangladeshi
(citizens), and they will feel comfortable staying here rather than going back
to Myanmar,” said Nazrul Islam, education co-ordinator for BRAC, which runs 200
learning centres in the camps. “The textbook that we have in Bangladesh, we
could use it if the government allowed us to use Bangla. As long as it is not
allowed, we need to develop learning materials, which will take time.”
In the absence of an official curriculum, aid groups
submitted alternative education guidelines covering basic literacy and numeracy
skills to the government in February. Although the authorities have not
approved these guidelines, some learning centres have based their lessons
around them anyway, since children are showing up.
In the hope of educating more children in the
future, aid groups are developing guidelines to teach up to a Grade Eight
level. But even if the government approves this, the fundamental problem of the
ban on formal education remains.
“We are calling on the government of Bangladesh to
recognise the right of refugee children to education,” said Beatriz Ochoa,
humanitarian advocacy manager for Save the Children’s Rohingya response. “All
education sector partners should be given the authorisation from relevant
authorities to set up classrooms, organise learning activities, or, where
feasible, expand temporary learning activities to ensure all refugee children
can access education and develop their minds.”
US conduct over 20 airstrikes in support of
nationwide resumption of ANDSF operations
The US forces in Afghanistan have conducted more
than twenty airstrikes in support of the Afghan national defense and security
forces who resumed operations against the Taliban at the end of the extended
ceasefire announced by the government.
“Elsewhere in the nation, U.S. forces have conducted
more than 20 strikes targeting selective Taliban irreconcilables in Ghazni,
Helmand and Uruzgan provinces in support of the nationwide Afghan-led
offensive,” according to a report by Resolute Support Mission.
The report further added “In addition, the Afghan
Air Force conducted at least two independent strikes in Uruzgan province.”
“Multiple Afghan National Army Corps and Afghan
Special Forces also began operations around the country, demonstrating the full
and extensive capabilities of the Afghan National Defense Forces. It is from
this position of strength that the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces
maintained a unilateral ceasefire for more than two weeks,” the report added.
In the south of the country, U.S. Army Brig. Gen.
John W. Lathrop, Train, Advise, and Assist Command-South (TAAC-South)
commander, met, June 27, with Rahmatullah Yarmal, Zabul Province provincial
governor, to discuss the offensive there, according to Resolute Support
“The outcome of the operation will have a big impact
on Zabul,” said Yarmal. “We need to make sure the Government of Afghanistan is
“The Taliban should heed the calls of the Afghan
people, the international community, and the Islamic world, and respond positively
to their request to end the violence and start the peace process. In fact, some have already responded to the
social and diplomatic pressure,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Martin L. O’Donnell,
Resolute Support and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesman. “The alternative for those that cast-off
peace is defeat through relentless military pressure.”
Myanmar still unsafe for return of Rohingya: Red
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
says it is not yet safe for thousands of Rohingya Muslims living in overcrowded
refugee camps in Bangladesh to begin returning to their homeland of Rakhine
state in Myanmar.
Peter Maurer, the ICRC president, said on Sunday
that a lot more was needed to improve the situation he witnessed in Rakhine
during an official visit recently.
"What I've seen in terms of destruction of
villages, abandonment of situations, disruptions in markets, of livelihood, of
communities, I don't think the present moment is an ideal condition to
return," Maurer said in Chakmakul camp for Rohingya refugees in southeast
"We need to prepare the ground for returns for
those who wish to return."
Maurer toured strife-torn western Myanmar before
visiting refugee camps over the border in neighboring Bangladesh.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who discussed
the issue of Rohingya with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the
Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, on Sunday, will make his first visit to the
Rohingya camps on Monday.
Guterres is to study the prospects of "a safe,
voluntary and dignified return" of the refugees to Myanmar.
Relief agencies, however, have warned that
conditions in Rakhine remain too unsafe to consider repatriating the Rohingya.
More than 700,000 members of the Rohingya minority
have fled the state-sponsored violence in Myanmar to Bangladesh over the past
Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed in November last year
to begin repatriating the Rohingya but the process has stalled. The vast
majority refuse to contemplate returning until their rights, citizenship and
safety are assured.
A delegation of the UN Security Council visited
Rakhine in early May. The group met with refugees who gave detailed accounts of
killings, rape and torching of villages by Myanmar's military.
The United Nations says it has strong suspicions
that “acts of genocide” have taken place against the Rohingya, who have lived
in Myanmar for generations but are denied citizenship and are branded illegal
immigrants from Bangladesh, which likewise denies them citizenship.
Muslim candidates rise above Trump hostility to
focus on issues
1 Jul 2018
Deedra Abboud, an attorney, is competing for the
Democratic nomination for the US Senate in Arizona. She has never sought public
office before. But she has become a fixture in national headlines – in part
because of online vitriol generated by the fact she is a Muslim.
Abboud wears a headscarf. Slurs against her have
included calling her a “towel head” and suggestions that Muslims should not
serve in the US government.
Abboud told the Guardian she saw a “silver lining”
in finally being noticed. But she also felt a familiar frustration. She is from
Little Rock, Arkansas, as evidenced by her southern twang. Nonetheless, she has
had to settle for being known as “the Muslim candidate”.
“I wear a scarf, I don’t want to hide it,” she said.
“It’s something I want to take head-on. It’s just sometimes I think it’s
relegated to only that.”
Abboud is one of a wave of Muslim candidates seeking
elected office in Donald Trump’s America, many spurred into action by the
president’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies.
“We’re trying to change what leadership and power
look like in this country,” said Fayrouz Saad, a 34-year-old from Michigan who
if elected would become the first Muslim woman in the House of Representatives.
Nearly 100 Muslims are running for office at state
and federal levels. Almost all are Democrats, few have held office before.
Several who were interviewed by the Guardian said they did not want a
disproportionate focus to be placed on their faith. Much like their opponents,
they said, they wished to talk about the issues.
“I’m not really interested in being the first Muslim
anything,” said Abdul El-Sayed, another political newcomer who is seeking the
Democratic nomination for governor in Michigan. “I know that my constitution
does not care how I pray or if I pray, but if I care about the same ideals
expressed in the constitution.”
El-Sayed spoke at length about income inequality; he
has prioritized access to clean water in a state still feeling the effects of
governmental failures that led to a water crisis in the city of Flint. Saad,
who likes to refer to herself as “unapologetically progressive”, emphasized the
need for “Medicare for All” and raising the minimum wage. Abboud backed net
neutrality and voiced support for universal healthcare and affordable public
“We are very much American,” Saad said. “We care
about this country and it’s more than just about being Muslim, it’s more than
about Muslim issues. It’s about protecting what is American and diversifying
our elected officials.”
‘The American Dream was being threatened’
The rise of Trump is, however, an unavoidable
reality. Muslims voted overwhelmingly in favor of Hillary Clinton; few thought
a candidate who vowed to bar an entire religion from entering the US would be
elected. They also recall his flirtation with the idea of a Muslim registry and
pronouncements that included “Islam hates us”.
From the White House, Trump has picked a fight with
the Muslim mayor of London and retweeted Islamophobic propaganda videos by a
far-right fringe group, Britain First. But the most substantive blow to the
Muslim community was arguably dealt by the supreme court this week.
In one of the most highly anticipated decisions from
the bench since Trump took office, the court ruled in favor of the travel ban
on several Muslim-majority countries. Although the administration argued the
policy was not motivated by animus toward any religion or nationality, civil
rights groups roundly condemned it as an unmistakable attempt by the president
to make good on his promise to suspend Muslim immigration.
“If Donald Trump were president when my parents were
immigrating here, there’s a very realistic chance my whole life could have gone
differently,” said Saad. “Donald Trump getting elected was honestly the first
time in my life that I felt the American Dream was being threatened.”
Public perception of Muslims remains distinctly
negative. A recent survey found that Americans believe only 51% of Muslim
Americans respect the ideals and laws of the land. One in five favored denying
Muslim Americans the right to vote. The study found a sharp partisan split,
with Republicans holding overwhelmingly unfavorable views of Islam and its
Abboud said she had been asked if she pledges
allegiance to the flag, if she considers herself “American or Muslim first”,
and whether she believes in gay rights.
“It’s these simple ideas that Islam is not
compatible with the constitution,” she said. “And even if it isn’t, who cares?
I want separation of religion and state. I’m standing very strongly, vocally,
and publicly about where I stand on the issues.”
There are at least 3.3 million Muslims living in the
US, according to recent estimates, and well over 1.5 billion worldwide. The
current crop of US congressional candidates are largely the American-born
children of immigrants.
“I actually usually just put it right out there in
the beginning,” said El-Sayed, of his faith and background. “It becomes an
elephant in the room if you don’t address it. Then you can put it to the side
and talk about issues.”
He pointed out that voters’ curiosity swiftly
dissipates when they realize his priorities are the same as those of the
“I care about being the best governor for my state,”
he said. “And I also happen to be Muslim.”
Tim Robbins Slams Trump Immigration Policies, Muslim
Speaking at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival Saturday,
Tim Robbins expressed outrage and shame at U.S. immigration policies and the
Supreme Court’s new ruling allowing President Trump’s travel ban on some
predominantly Muslim countries to stand. “That Supreme Court decision will be
remembered as a disgrace,” he told journalists, building on comments at the
fest opening that had galvanized the black tie audience.
Robbins recently staged with The Actors’ Gang
theater ensemble in L.A. a play called “The New Colossus,” inspired by hundreds
of immigrants’ stories and by the plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty
professing to welcome the world’s teeming masses.
At Karlovy Vary he is screening a film he wrote and
directed that celebrates working-class artists, “Cradle Will Rock,” and another
that sends up dishonest, populist political candidates, “Bob Roberts.” He
admitted he is still surprised at how accurate the latter film from 1992 turned
out to be.
A polemic about a sleazy conservative candidate who
is “a big fan of beauty pageants and was also formerly in a military school and
avoided service,” the film proved to be chillingly prophetic, Robbins said.
“I had no idea we would ever elect Bob Roberts as
president of the United States.”
Asked whether his outspoken beliefs on progressive
causes have harmed his career, the actor-director admitted he wasn’t sure. But,
he added, if he didn’t speak up when he encountered injustice, “I don’t know
that I would like myself very much. To know something and to not say anything,
to me, is a betrayal of what a democracy is.”
Seeming to take pride in having once been banned
from the Oscars ceremony for condemning, along with then partner Susan
Sarandon, the Guantanamo detentions of HIV-positive Haitian refugees in 1993,
Robbins said he worries that filmmakers too often avoid dealing with
controversial subjects for fear of endangering their careers.
Robbins is currently in development on an original
script that explores “faith versus hypocrisy,” he said, among three figures who
either believe they personify the second coming of Christ or are mistaken for
“So you can imagine how producers would be
hesitating,” he said with a grin.
The market dominance of more profitable action film
fare represents the spread of “dangerous” messages for young audiences, he
said, citing the popularity of films in which a lone hero takes the law into
their own hands.
What’s more, Robbins argued, such fantasies divert
audiences from thinking about real issues.
“We’re so guided by distraction now. They have this
condescending attitude. Like everyone has ADD [Attention Deficit Disorder] –
explosion, fight, murder…yay! Naked, yay!”
Films such as Ava DuVernay’s docu on the roots of
Jim Crow laws in the U.S. Constitution, “13th,” and “I Am Not Your Negro,”
Raoul Peck’s account of the life and work of James Baldwin, offer far more
meaning, Robbins said.
“The best films are about truth – something about
the human condition, vulnerability, inner strength that we want to tell a story
about. We should respect our audiences more.”
Powerful, honest films, Robbins argued, can awaken
audiences to important issues – something he learned after “Dead Man Walking,”
which he directed in 1995, helped draw crowds of thousands to the lectures of
Sister Helen Prejean, a death penalty opponent played by Sarandon. The film was
able to drive debate, he said, by the granting to universities the rights to
perform the story on stage as long as they agreed to teach students about
capital punishment and study Prejean’s book. “Ten years later we had been in
260 universities across the United States.”
Studio politics can be just as detrimental, Robbins
said, recalling how his 1999 ode to folk music artists “Cradle Will Rock” was
given zero promotion despite glowing reviews, audience response and an all-star
“They dumped that movie. And that was heartbreaking,
quite frankly, because it was a passion project for me and I knew that film was
Saudi king said will boost oil output if needed:
The leader of Saudi Arabia promised US President
Donald Trump that he can raise oil production if needed and the country has 2
million barrels per day (BPD) of spare capacity, the White House said on
Saturday, rowing back on an earlier Trump tweet that appeared to suggest the
Saudis had agreed to boost output by that amount.
Trump told King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud that
the oil market could need more supply when the men spoke on Friday, the White
House said. The Saudi leader said he was ready to raise output if needed, the
White House said in a statement.
“King Salman affirmed that the Kingdom maintains a
two million barrel per day spare capacity, which it will prudently use if and
when necessary to ensure market balance,” read the statement.
However, a source familiar with Saudi Arabia’s
production plans told Reuters earlier in the week of the kingdom’s intention to
increase output by 200,000 BPD this month.
Saudi Arabia along with other Organization of
Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC nations, including Russia,
had agreed on June 22 to boost production by a combined 700,000 to 1 million
barrels a day, so any 2-million-BPD increase would be at least double market
The White House statement undercut a tweet by Trump
earlier in the day when he wrote that Saudi Arabia had definitely agreed to
produce more oil.
“Just spoke to King Salman of Saudi Arabia and
explained to him that, because of the turmoil & disfunction in Iran and
Venezuela, I am asking that Saudi Arabia increase oil production, maybe up to
2,000,000 barrels, to make up the difference ... Prices to high! He has
agreed!” Trump tweeted.
In the tweet, Trump said the extra Saudi oil would
help offset a decline in supply from Iran, after the US pulled out of the Iran
nuclear deal in May and moved to reimpose oil sanctions.
Trump was not specific on whether the additional 2
million barrels was a per-day figure — but worldwide daily demand is nearing
100 million BPD.
The two-million barrel question
Saudi state media reported that during the call, the
Saudi king and Trump emphasised the need to preserve oil market stability and
efforts of oil-producing countries to compensate for any potential shortage.
The statement reported by Saudi media did not
mention any intention by Saudi Arabia to raise production by 2 million BPD.
Saudi oil officials did not comment.
The source familiar with the kingdom’s plans told
Reuters last week that Riyadh plans to boost output in July to 11 million BPD,
the highest in its history, up from 10.8 million in June.
Saudi Arabia has a maximum sustainable capacity of
12 million BPD, but it has never tested that level of production.
“We will be in uncharted territory. While Saudi
Arabia has the capacity in theory, it takes time and money to bring these
barrels online, up to one year,” said Amrita Sen of consultancy Energy Aspects.
Benchmark Brent crude was trading around $79 a
barrel on Friday, and a Reuters poll showed prices look to remain strong for
the rest of this year due to supply disruptions in countries including Libya
and Venezuela and as the extra oil from OPEC fails to meet rising demand.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih met with US
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington on Thursday to discuss energy
The Trump administration is pushing countries to cut
all imports of Iranian oil from November when the US re-imposes sanctions
against Tehran after Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal agreed between
Iran and six major powers, against the advice of allies in Europe and
US officials are pressing allies in Europe, Asia,
and the Middle East to adhere to the sanctions once they are re-imposed, with
the aim of pressuring Iran into negotiating a new agreement.
State Department officials said this week the United
States is prepared to work with countries on a case-by-case basis to help them
reduce imports of Iranian oil and suggested some exemptions were possible.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday
accused Washington of trying to turn Iranians against their government.
“They bring to bear economic pressure to separate
the nation from the system ... but six US presidents before him tried this and
had to give up,” Khamenei was quoted as saying on Saturday by his website
Khamenei.ir, referring to Trump.
Iran’s rial currency has lost up to 40 per cent of
its value since last month, when Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal.
Iran’s OPEC governor, Hossein Kazempour Ardebili,
accused the United States and Saudi Arabia of trying to push up oil prices and
said both countries are acting against the foundation of OPEC.
“If this happens, (it) means Trump is asking Saudi
Arabia to walk (away) from OPEC,” he told Reuters.
“The market will go up to $100 I am sure as Saudi
Arabia said they will plan an increase for July. ... This was managed between
the two to rob the pocket of rest of the world,” he said.
Why Ayatollah Khamenei will not negotiate with Trump
Saeid Golkar - In a June 13 Washington Post article,
former US ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad argued that the Trump
administration's approach towards Iran - withdrawing from the nuclear deal and
imposing crippling sanctions - has a reasonable chance of bringing its
leadership to the negotiating table.
The logic behind this idea is that imposing
"the highest level" of economic sanctions will not only prevent Iran
from supporting its proxies and destabilising the Middle East, but will also
lead to economic hardship and possibly mass discontent, which could shake the
This approach was tested under the Obama
administration and eventually resulted in Iran sitting down for talks in 2013
and signing a nuclear deal in 2015 under President Hasan Rouhani.
But the idea that this could happen again in the
aftermath of US President Donald Trump withdrawing from the nuclear deal is not
just optimistic - it is flawed. It is not in the interest of the hardliner
leadership in Iran to sit down for direct talks with the Trump administration.
Unlike North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Ayatollah
Ali Khamenei does not need the US to legitimise his regime and, in fact,
negotiating with the Americans might have the exact opposite effect. It would
not only delegitimise his domestic rhetoric, but also push away supporters at
home and abroad.
Ayatollah Khamenei has always expressed suspicion
about the US and its foreign policies. Even after the 2015 deal was signed, he
warned against and blocked any further negotiations. The US withdrawal from the
nuclear deal was the ultimate proof he needed for his claim that Washington
could not be trusted.
Khamenei's anti-Americanism is the central component
of his political appeal. Resisting the Western attempts to overthrow the
Islamic Republic, dominate Iran and colonise the region is one of the main
pillars of his politics. In his speeches and statements, the ayatollah
constantly refers to the so-called "axis of resistance", which
includes Iran, its proxies, and even sometimes Venezuela and which is tasked
with resisting the US and its allies.
Khamenei's rhetoric has been based on the belief
that US policies towards Iran have always aimed at regime change, not "behaviour
change" since the inception of the Islamic Republic in 1979. In this
logic, any concession in the face of US intimidation would inevitably inspire
the US to increase its pressure.
This idea of "the axis of resistance"
against American imperialism seems to be the biggest hallmark of Khamenei's 30
years as supreme leader. At age 79 and in poor health, he wants to leave a
lasting legacy. Iran's nuclear programme, which could have brought Iran into
the nuclear powers club under his leadership, was disbanded after the signing
of the 2015 deal.
Hence, his only legacy is his "anti-
American" and "anti-imperialist" agenda. He would rather stick
with it and die as an anti-American anti-imperialist than succumb to US
pressure and be delegitimised in the eyes of his supporters.
With the failure of the talks, he is able to rally
even more support for his regime and continue previous policies that helped
Iran survive international pressure for decades. As a country accustomed to
sanctions, Iran has learned how to bypass them and it's much easier to start
employing these strategies again.
Khamenei is already stirring Iran back to
"resistance economy", a term he coined to refer to a form of economic
nationalism, in which the country strives to decrease imports and increase
domestic production, substituting local products for imported ones. The idea is
to shield in this way Iran's economy from the risks of international sanctions
and global financial crises.
Politically, Khamenei has also made it clear that
direct negotiations with Trump are not being considered. After the US president
withdrew from the nuclear deal, the supreme leader proclaimed, "I said
many times from the first day: don't trust America. I don't trust these three
countries," referring to the UK, France and Germany.
And when a group of Iranian political activists and
reformists signed a letter asking the regime to directly negotiate with the US,
resolve the conflicts between the two countries, and save Iran from the damage
of sanctions, the response from his supporters was immediate.
Almost all Iranian hardliners, and many reformists,
attacked the idea of direct talks between the two countries. Major General
Mohammad-Ali Jafari, a commander of the Revolutionary Guard, Iran's most
powerful military organisation, accused these activists of being American
agents and traitors. Seyed Hossein Mousavian, close adviser to the Rouhani
administration and former member of Iran's nuclear negotiating team, also
rejected direct talks between Iran and the US, as did Seyed Mohammad Khatami,
the former reformist president, who said such negotiations would hurt Iranian
dignity. While there is part of the
Iranian society that wants engagement with the US and an end to the debilitating
sanctions, their voices will be muffled and the will of the ayatollah will be
done. There will be no direct talks with Donald Trump.
Ayatollah Khamenei wants to leave a lasting legacy
behind and submitting to the US cannot be part of it
Trump: US will sanction European companies in
business with Iran
1 July 2018
President Donald Trump accused OPEC of manipulating
world oil markets and warned it to stop, while also saying the United States
will sanction European companies that do business with Iran.
Asked on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures with
Maria Bartiromo” if someone was manipulating oil markets, Trump said, “OPEC is
and they better stop it because we’re protecting those countries, many of those
countries. OPEC is manipulating.”
Trump also was asked on the news program that aired
on Sunday if he will sanction European companies if they do business with Iran.
He said, “Yep, of course. That’s what we’re doing, absolutely.”
Hekmatyar suggests extending olive branch to Taliban
JULY 2, 2018
Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan’s chief Gulbuddin
Hekmatyar has urged the Taliban and the Afghan government to settle on an
arrangement where peace zones are declared in specific areas of the war-torn
country. This will enable the exiled leadership of the militia to return to
Afghanistan and the peace process to continue.
The Afghan leader was speaking to Daily Times during
the visit of a Pakistani delegation to his residence in Kabul on the sidelines
of the Pak-Afghan track-II dialogue, ‘Beyond Boundaries’.
Hekmatyar had returned to Kabul in May 2017, after
spending nearly 20 years in hiding, after he struck a landmark peace deal with
Ashraf Ghani’s government that paved the way for HIA’s participation in the
During the interview, Hekmatyar argued that peace
zones could enable the Taliban to return to the country and there would be no
need for them to maintain offices either in Qatar or any other country.
Hekmatyar went as far as to suggest that the Taliban
may have their own system of governance in the the peace zones where there will
be no deployment of foreign or Afghan forces. “There will be no war and
foreigners will not stay there. This will pave the way for trust building and
ultimately for peace negotiations,” the Hizb chief said.
Hekmatyar said he had shared his proposal with
President Ghani, ‘who was very positive’.
Sections of the Afghan media have also reported that
the suggestion is under consideration by the government. However, Afghan Chief
Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah has opposed it in his recent comments to the
Speaking further during the interview, Hekmatyar
said that at the moment the government, political leaders and groups did not
have any plan to encourage the Taliban to join the peace process. He said he
had suggested to President Ghani to not talk about war from his palace, and
instead speak of peace and reconciliation with the Taliban.
“I have urged President Ghani to propose effective
peace plans to the Taliban. He has sent positive messages to the Taliban since
he unveiled his peace initiative at the meeting of Kabul Process in February
this year,” he said.
Ghani had offered the Taliban to open office
anywhere in Afghanistan, adding that the militia would be recognised by the
government as a legitimate political movement, their prisoners would be freed
and names of top Taliban leaders removed from UN sanctions lists.
Taliban have yet to respond to Ghani’s offer; they
insist on direct talks with the United States – considered a major party to the
Hekmatyar recognised that Pakistan had suffered a
lot because of the war in Afghanistan, losing markets in Afghanistan. He said
Pakistan was the only neighbour, that suffered the most among Afghanistan’s
neighbouring countries. “Others have got benefits from the war in Afghanistan.
Iran has invested in the war for its own interests and economic benefits.”
“We still have war and there is a need for Pakistan
and Afghanistan to work for peace,” the Hizb chief said, adding, “We support
the engagement between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Gap between Pakistan and
Afghanistan will harm both countries. Continuation of war will badly affect
people in both countries.”
When asked about the continuation of the war,
Hekmatyar said he had always urged the Taliban to join the political process
“I have also asked the U.S. former and the incumbent
ambassadors to consider what have they achieved by spending billions of
dollars. There has been no military and political success so far,” he said.
He said last year the war killed 36,000 people and
there were only six foreigners among the dead, all others were Afghans.
“So there is no justification of this war which only
kills Afghans and destroys our country,” Hekmatyar said, adding that he is
satisfied with the Hizb-e-Islami peace deal with the government of President
Hekmatyar was confident that his candidates will win
in the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled to be held in October this
year. He called for fair and transparent elections on the basis of proportional
representation and under the supervision of political parties.
To a question about Daesh presence in Afghanistan,
he said Daesh was not a major issue. “Their presence has always been
Hekmatyar did not agree with the notion that the US
is behind Daesh in Afghanistan and said the US would not use thousands tons of
bombs against Daesh in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries.
Shamshad renews govt pledge to rout terror financing
June 30, 2018
ISLAMABAD - Finance Minister Dr Shamshad Akhtar
reiterated the government's strong resolve to strengthen measures against terrorism and terrorism
financing, and to implement the Action Plan by adopting a “whole-of-government”
approach during FATF Plenary meetings held in OECD, Paris, from June 24 to 29,
2018, to discuss issues relating to security and integrity of the global
This opportunity was instrumental in ensuring
Pakistan’s commitment to the world for compliance of international standards
and increasing effectiveness of regulatory and enforcement regimes for its own
The meetings were attended by delegates from several
countries as well as the UN, IMF, World Bank and other multilateral
Pakistan delegation was led by Finance Minister, Dr.
Shamshad Akhtar along with officials from Ministry of Finance, Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, State Bank of Pakistan and Financial Monitoring Unit, said a
press release issued here Friday.
On the sidelines of FATF and ICRG meetings, the
Pakistani delegation held bi-lateral meetings with several FATF members to
ensure their support for Pakistan in the FATF process. FATF members were
informed that the government of Pakistan already sent its commitment letter to
the FATF President on the Policy Action Plan on 22 June 2018.
A special intervention to FATF/ICRG was made by Dr.
Shamshad Akhtar. She emphasized that Pakistan was steadfast in upgrading the
AML/CFT standards and ensuring their enforcement.
Extensive preparation in consultations with all the
concerned authorities and initiating some actions prior to the Paris meetings
was helpful in strengthening Pakistan’s case. The FATF/ICRG group supported
Pakistan’s proposition on keeping the timeframe realistic for implementation of
Further to the decision already made at the FATF
Plenary held in February 2018, the FATF Plenary of June 2018 approved the
Action Plan for Pakistan and placed Pakistan on its Public Statement in the
Ongoing Compliance section.
Moving forward, the government of Pakistan is
putting in place a strategy to implement the Action Plan in the next 15 months.
Given the complexity and size of the action plan,
the minister for finance has established a high-powered, inclusive and robust
institutional coordination and monitoring mechanism to ensure that the Action
Plan is implemented within time and the country is brought out of FATF’s Public
Statement the soonest.
PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto's convoy attacked in
party stronghold Lyari
Jul 2, 2018
KARACHI: Angry protesters attacked the convoy of
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto in the party's traditional
stronghold Lyari, leaving two people injured and vehicles damaged, police said.
The incident took place on Sunday when Bhutto was
campaigning in Baghdadi area of Lyari here for upcoming elections, they said,
adding that around 100 protesters shouted slogans of "go Bilawal go"
and pelted stones at the convoy.
A truck and a car were damaged during the violence,
officials said, and added that the PPP chairman was unhurt.
The PPP has traditionally won from Lyari and Bilawal
is contesting from the NA-247 constituency in the July 25 general elections in
Bilawal, the only son of slain former prime minister
Benazir Bhutto and grandson of PPP founder Zulfiqar Bhutto, is contesting the
general elections for the first time.
An eye witness claimed that Bilawal left the area as
the protests began.
With violent gang wars becoming commonplace, Lyari
residents have often accused the party of doing nothing to improve the
Party leader Saeed Ghani said two workers were
injured in the attack and accused other parties like the Pakistan
Tehreek-e-Insaaf and the Mutthaida Qaumi Movement for the violence.
A statement issued in the evening quoted Bilawal
Bhutto as saying that he would not be deterred by the violence.
"Lyari is in my blood. I will go to every nook
and corner of the country with my party manifesto. We have to defeat these
violent elements; not give in to them. I will not be scared into submission by
such forces," the PPP chairman said, according to a spokesperson.
Pakistan hands India list of 471 Indian prisoners in
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Sunday handed over a list of
471 Indian prisoners lodged in Pakistani jails to the Indian High Commission
Pakistan's Foreign Office (FO) said in a statement
that the list was consistent with the provisions of the Consular Access
Agreement between Pakistan and India signed on May 21, 2008.
It said the list included 418 fishermen and 53 other
prisoners arrested for illegally entering Pakistani waters.
Under the agreement, both countries are required to
exchange lists of their nationals in each other's custody twice a year, on
January 1 and July 1, respectively.
India is also expected to hand over a list of
Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails to the Pakistan High Commission in New
Delhi, the FO said.
Mandsaur rape case spurs protests by Hindu, Muslim
groups; lawyers refuse to represent accused
The rape of an 8-year-old girl in Mandsaur, Madhya
Pradesh on 26 June has galvanised the entire region to agitate, bringing
together groups that are normally seen as holding antithetical ideologies.
This, according to residents and activists, is primarily because Mandsaur is
quick to organise politically aggressive movements, and has had a poor record
of women's safety. The brutal nature of the crime has provided an additional
impetus to the protesters.
"On the evening of 26 June, when the girl was
waiting for her family members to take her back home, Irfan, the prime accused,
abducted her. He took her to the bus stand area and allegedly raped her in the
bushes quite close to the Laxman Darwaja," Manoj Kumar Singh,
Superintendent of Police, Mandsaur, told Firstpost. The accused allegedly lured
the girl with laddoos, and later took her to the deserted crime scene.
“What has happened is wrong. However, this does not
take away from the fact that if the parents were getting late to pick her up,
they should have informed school authorities,” said Kumar, who has served as a
Gender Advisor to the United Nations.
He added that as soon as the police made the photos
of the accused public, they received nearly 1,000 phone calls from locals,
thanks to which the prime accused were arrested quickly.
Mukesh Kumar Patidar, a local from Mandsaur, has
been part of the protests that have been taking place every day in the
district, in places such as Sitamau, Malhargarh and Neemuch. He said that
thousands marched the streets of Mandsaur on Friday and Saturday. “The issue is
being politicised now. But the larger problem is that the state is failing to
deal with anti-social elements, who are a result of unemployment and poverty.
There was a case registered against Irfan under Section 25 of the Arms Act. He,
along with the other accused, had a history of alcohol abuse and complaints
were often registered against them,” he said. Patidar added that the police
should monitor those with criminal records. A 7-year-old boy, who was the first
to spot the little girl while walking down kaanta gali (a deserted area near
Laxman Darwaja, an old fort in Mandsaur), said she was badly injured and asked
him to take her home to her parents.
On 27 June, when news of the incident spread like
wild fire, there was a complete lock down in Mandsaur. Patidar is also the
prakhand sanyojak of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. On Sunday, he said that Hindu groups: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh,
the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Durga Vahini, Ram Sena and Bajrang Dal have
consolidated as one entity, the samast Hindu samaj, to take up the cause of
women's safety in the state. “We demand fast-tracking of justice. The chief
minister has already given a commitment that it will happen. But this is not a
political issue, it’s about human rights and we want every girl to feel safe in
Amit Gupta, rashtriya adhyaksh, Bajrang Sena, told
Firstpost the Hindu group has condemned the incident and staged protests in
Gujarat, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh. Its main demand is that if the accused are
found guilty, they should be hanged near India Gate."We are not agitating
because the accused happen to be Muslim. We would have made the same noise if
they were Hindu. When Lord Ram was attempting the cross the ocean to wage war
with Ravana, he narrated the shloka 'bhay bin preet na hoye gopala' which means
even love doesn't happen without fear. We want the government to instill in the
minds of people that they cannot get away with rape," Gupta explained.
Meanwhile, members of the Sampurna Muslim Samaj, a
consolidation of Muslim groups have written a letter to the Madhya Pradesh governor
Anandiben Patel and the district collector of Mandsaur, stating that they
strongly condemn the monstrous act alleged to have been committed by the
accused. The members of the Sampurna Muslim Samaj have stressed the need for
fast-tracking justice and stronger laws that instill fear in anti-social
elements and enable girls and women to walk on the streets fearlessly.
Babu Salim, former chairman of the Waqf board in
Neemuch district, told Firstpost the Muslims in the region have two broad
demands: That Irfan be hanged immediately and second, that he be denied space
in any graveyard in Mandsaur or Neemuch.
Hanif Sheikh, a councillor from ward no. 34, where
the incident occurred, told Firstpost that members of the Anjuman Muslim
Welfare Committee and the MEW Welfare Society came together to unite Muslims
against what occurred on 26 June. “Irfan’s family is known to me. They are
simple people who were constantly troubled with their son’s wayward nature.
Irfan was into drugs and alcohol and used to go missing from home for long
stretches of time,” Sheikh added that the people of Mandsaur have united
against him and will do anything to ensure that the matter isn’t politicised.
“It’s about us and our people. A rapist is a rapist, and not Hindu or Muslim,”
Mohammad Asgar, the president of the MEW Welfare
Society, said that when the Muslims came forward to condemn the rape, they
didn’t even know what religion the accused belonged to. Even after they found
out, their sentiments remained the same. “Our reaction would have been the same
had the man hailed from a Hindu family. This is a crime against humanity and we
must rise above religious differences,” he stated.
MS Sisodiya from the Madhya Pradesh Crime Branch
told Firstpost that the accused, who are from Mandsaur, are in police custody.
He said that although Mandsaur is a largely peaceful place, it has in recent
times become a symbol of rage and injustice.
Meanwhile, local lawyers have refused to represent
the accused. Dashrath Singh Jhala, an advocate based in Mandsaur and member of
the Mandsaur District Bar Association (MDBA,) a body comprising 622 lawyers,
said no attorney in Mandsaur will represent the accused, and that this is a
unanimous decision of the district Bar.
He told Firstpost that the accused are in police
custody till 5 July, and the police will record the statement of the survivor
once she’s a little better and is able to speak. “The people are not furious at
the police per se, they’re enraged over the thought that the case will move ahead
at a snail's pace, and the accused will live comfortably in the meanwhile,”
Singh said. He added that public anger has been fuelled because the prime
accused previously molested a woman and a case was lodged against him. Singh
claimed Ifran was let go by the police after a warning.
Mahesh Patidar, another advocate from Mandsaur, said
be it the deaths of farmers or the rape of a little girl, the people of
Mandsaur have risen above caste and communal barriers to fight for human
rights. He added it will be difficult for parties to woo locals unless women
are safe and people from every single community are economically empowered.
Indian Embassy In Afghanistan Condemns Deadly Attack
On Hindus, Sikhs
July 02, 2018
The Indian Embassy in Kabul condemned the deadly
attack by a suicide bomber that targeted a group of Hindus and Sikhs in the
eastern Afghan province on Nangarhar.
"The attack underlines the need for a united
global fight against international terrorism without discrimination and
accountability of those who support terrorists in any manner," the Indian
Embassy wrote on Twitter following the attack that killed at least 20 people on
Afghan officials said a suicide bomber targeted a
group of Hindus and Sikhs on their way to meet the Afghan President Ashraf
Ghani, who was visiting the provincial capital, Jalalabad.
Nangarhar health officials said that 17 of 20 dead
in the attack are from the minority Hindu and Sikh community.
Embassy officials confirmed that Awtar Singh Khalsa,
a longtime leader of the Sikh community who had planned to run in the
parliamentary elections set for October, was killed in the attack.
The Islamic State (IS) extremist group, which is
active in the area, claimed responsibility for the attack.
More than 20 people were injured and were receiving
treatment in at a hospital in Jalalabad. Officials say some of the wounded are
in critical condition.
Narendr Singh, a Sikh who was wounded in the attack,
told the Associated Press by phone from the hospital that the attackers had
targeted their convoy near the president's compound.
Afghanistan’s tiny Hindu and Sikh minority has endured
decades of discrimination in the war-torn country. Members have been targeted
by Islamic extremists in the past.
The community numbered more than 80,000 in the
1970s, but today only around 1,000 remain in the predominantly Muslim nation.
Most have moved to India, which is considered their
Ghani’s spokesman said the president was still in
Nangarhar but was “away from danger.” Ghani arrived in Nangarhar earlier on the
day, with a two-day visit to the province.
RFE/RL correspondents in Jalalabad say police
cordoned off the city center after the deadly attack. Officials said that
several shops and vehicles caught fire in the aftermath of the blast.
It was the second attack reported in Nangarhar
Province over a 24-hour period.
On June 30, militants targeted a boys school in
Khogyani district, beheading three workers and setting fire to the school
The attacks come as Afghan forces were ordered to
resume operations against Taliban fighters after Ghani announced an official
end to the government's unilateral cease-fire.
Ghani declared an end to the truce, but he also
called on the Taliban to resume peace negotiations. IS was not part of the
The cease-fire lasted 18 days in all, after it was
extended once and coincided with a three-day Taliban truce.
U.S. envoy Alice Wells is visiting Kabul as part of
efforts to raise pressure on the Taliban to enter peace talks.
Wells, who is scheduled to hold talks in Pakistan on
July 2, said Islamabad must do more to pressure the Taliban and urge them to
The Western-backed government in Kabul has been
fighting Taliban militants since they were driven from power in 2001. IS and
other militants have also struck at Afghan and international targets, both
government and civilian, in a campaign of terror.
No big communal riot in India in last four years,
says Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi
Union minister for minority affairs Mukhtar Abbas
Naqvi is the BJP’s senior most Muslim leader in the Rajya Sabha. He spoke to
Hindustan Times about the central government’s track record on minorities, the
perception of his party as anti-minority, on elections, and the working of
Parliament. Edited excerpts:
The BJP has been perceived as anti-minority. Has
this deepened in the last four years in power?
The BJP did not create that perception. It was made
by our political opponents for vested political interest. This perception will
not change in their mind. They will not let it change. In the last four years,
the Modi government has done development without discrimination and empowerment
without appeasement. So far, the minority communities were given “lollipop”
without any honest effort for their socio-economic empowerment. Consider this.
Scholarship has been distributed to 2 crore 66 lakh students from minority
communities in 48 months of Modi government. 60% of them are girls and drop-out
rate has dropped from 73-74% to 43-42%. Only 3 crore students got such
scholarship in 48 years preceding the Modi government. Employment opportunities
for minorities, too, have grown from 20,164 in 48 years before 2014 to 5,43,594
in the 48 years of Modi government. We didn’t seek credit. We have performed
and also did reform. We allowed women to go for Haj without a male companion.
More than 1400 women are going this time. 1.75 lakh persons are performing haj,
without subsidy. 48% of them are women. This is a record in independent India.
Let us then examine the specific reasons why the
perception exists. Would you agree the BJP does not give political
representation to the Muslims?
Giving poll tickets alone cannot be the parameter
for political representation. Several factors, such as winnability, are
considered while giving election ticket. But, we have given them representation
even when we did not have elected representatives. UP has two Muslims in the
legislative council, one of them is a minister. MJ Akbar and I are in the
government in Delhi. Our effort is to give them representation in government.
It is more important than representation in tickets.
But even in government, isn’t there
We must think about political empowerment. Those who
were in power on the basis of Muslim votes were miserly in terms of empowering
But there was at least some symbolic representation
in the past; the BJP is now accused of political repression.
Symbolism will not work now. The BJP does not
believe in symbolism. Modi has changed one thing. He hasn’t bracketed the
problems of SCs, Muslims, farmers and deprived communities. He has treated them
as the country’s problem. 37-38% of MUDRA yojna benefits have gone to
But have these measures brought the minority
community any closer to the BJP?
The gap has narrowed. The poor and minorities know
that only Modi can do their honest upliftment and empowerment; 162 candidates
from minority communities got selected in UPSC last year, 52 were Muslims.
About 170 of them got selected this year, and 58 or 59 of them are Muslims. We
have ended discrimination. Muslims had 4.8% share in central government
services when we came to power (in 2014). Today, their share is 10.9%.
Another reason perception exists is because of
provocative statements, incidents like cow lynching, open expression of
prejudice. Isn’t this leading to insecurity among minorities?
The BJP or the government is not doing it. These are
done by the fringe and criminal elements. The day Modi became PM, there was a
cry that Arab countries and Christian countries will end relationship with
India. What happened? From the US to Arab countries and Australia to Africa,
they all trust the leadership of this country. There was award wapsi (returning
of awards) on charges of intolerance. Has there been one big communal riot in
last four years? But Modi government’s commitment is towards peace and
prosperity. Even if there is a small incident, the centre sends a strong and
clear advisory to the state governments. Whether it is Rajasthan, Haryana or
Uttar Pradesh – FIR was lodged within 24 hours, and accused persons were
arrested. Many have not got bail yet. But remember, this is the social media
era. There were no social media in Maliana and Bhagalpur (when the riots
happened there in the past). There is a need to be cautious. Those who do this,
they want that hate message to reach people and become viral.
Do you think the anti-Muslim prejudice in society
No. Did a common Hindu ever ask to make this country
a Hindu Rashtra ? Did the majority community ever demand to end secularism in
this country? This country is secular because the majority community of this
country wants it to be secular. There was a dangerous situation during the
Partition. There were murders, riots and arson. Pakistan declared itself an
Islamic nation. But, majority of this country said no and that India will
remain a secular nation. No one ever questioned that concept of secularism.
So has the expression of prejudice become more
It is because of technological advancement. Our
mentality has not changed or degenerated. There are only a handful of such
Are these people encouraged because of the
perception that this government encourages this prejudice?
They are discouraged. They know that government agenda
is clear - to deal with them strongly. PM Modi said it in Parliament and
outside. BJP chief Amit Shah has spoken on this. All have one message. Violence
and hate activities are unacceptable. The fringe elements are getting isolated.
When they are isolated then they try to magnify their conduct, they will make
fake videos, edit some portion and do such things.
Is there fringe within the RSS too?
No. There can never be a fringe in the Sangh
parivar. They have focused work. They believe in uniting – and not breaking –
Let us move to elections. Your rivals believe that
polarising society on religious lines and garner the maximum vote of Hindus is
a conscious strategy.
2014 election was an exceptional election. After the
election was over, we sat down to analyse voting patterns. There were cases
where we polled 15-20% votes in polling station with less than 2% non-Muslim
voters. This was despite the kind of campaign that was unleashed against Modi
in the run up to election. Despite this, Muslims voted for Modi. I am sure,
more than 30% of Muslims will vote for the BJP (in 2019). There are more than
two dozen prime ministerial candidates roaming in the country. They know there
is no vacancy for the PM’s post in 2019.
But the results of the bypoll in recent months have
shown that a united Opposition can spring a surprise on the BJP...
Before 2014 general election, Congress and allies
won most of the bypolls. Let us not predict general elections on the basis of
bypoll. There are several local factors that come into play during a bypoll.
Won’t the coming together of the Samajwadi Party and
Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh make a solid social combination against
Have we lost the bypoll with a 4-5 lakh margin? We
lost by a few thousand votes. It becomes easier to fight if you know the
strategy of the rival. The by-poll results are in a way good for the BJP. It
will help us formulate our strategy better.
Why are then issues such as Ram Temple and Jinnah
portraits in Aligarh Muslim University being highlighted? Is it an exercise to
We want polarisation on development and Modi’s work.
Then why is there talk of Ayodhya and AMU?
Ayodhya issue is an ideological issue for us. It is
in court. Everybody wants that matter to be decided at the earliest.
Development and good governance will be our political agenda.
The Ayodhya judgment may come soon. Do you think it
will have a bearing on the communal situation in the country?
People have made up their mind. Each community will
accept whatever judgment is delivered. When there was a high court judgment,
people accepted it. Please remember, outfits such as Al-Qaeda and the IS have
not been able to develop roots in India, except for some small portion in
Kashmir. If there has been some such isolated activities, the Muslim community
itself has isolated them. Unity and harmony is in our DNA.
How do you respond to demands for SC/ST reservation
in minority institutions such as AMU?
AMU and other minority institutions must think over
it. SCs are weaker sections, and door should not be shut on them.
Will your government bring the required legislative
It will be better if these institutions come forward
and consider these suggestions positively.
Your government brought a bill banning triple talaq.
It is stuck in Parliament. Do you expect its passage in this session?
There have been several reforms in this country.
When it was the matter of Sati, there was a section which claimed it was
interference in matter of faith. Triple talaq is not a religious matter but a
social ill that demolishes the concept of gender equality. The Lok Sabha has
passed a bill. The Congress, which supported it in the LS, got a different view
on it in the Rajya Sabha. We request them to make suggestion for changes, if
any...Doing politics outside will serve no purpose.
The Opposition alleges that government hardly
reaches out to it for smooth conduct of Parliament.
We talk to every political party. Their grudge would
be considered genuine only when the government is not ready to debate any
issue. When we are saying “yes” - without delay - to any issue of the
Opposition, even then there is disturbance.
Give that you admit that this is election year, how
legitimate is your expectation about Parliament functioning in monsoon session?
Debate is the only solution. When there is no issue,
you disturb the House.
BJP accused of fanning tensions in Jammu and Kashmir
July 2, 2018
India's pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP),
after toppling the coalition government in Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir
state, now stands accused of trying to widen local social, religious and
Observers say the BJP's aim is to secure a political
advantage ahead of next year's national elections.
BJP president Amit Shah told a June 24 gathering
that the party withdrew from the state coalition led by the Muslim-based
People’s Democratic Party (PDP) partly because of its focus on Muslim-majority
Kashmir while ignoring the Hindu Jammu and Buddhist-dominated Ladakh areas.
Shah’s statement, made at a political rally in
Jammu, signaled the BJP’s intention to increase tensions between communities,
Irfan Yasin, a political commentator, said.
"This is what the BJP is famous for doing
across the country," Yasin added.
However, treating Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist areas
differently in order to galvanize political support would be disastrous, he
On June 19, BJP leaders in New Delhi announced that
the coalition government deal it stitched together with the PDP in March 2015
had broken down.
Apart from regional bias, another stated factor
influencing the decision was that the PDP had been demanding talks with
separatist groups, as well as Pakistan, to end the six-decade-long Kashmir
"The PDP-led government ignored the interests
of Jammu and Ladakh," Shah said while addressing the rally in Jammu.
Development in both these regions, which voted
overwhelmingly for the BJP during the last parliamentary and state polls, had
"So we decided to quit the government,"
Intellectuals such as Manish Gupta, a Jammu-based
writer, told ucanews.com that the BJP would be biased against the
Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley as it had no hope that Muslims there would vote
However, such a move would create communal rifts.
Gupta said that BJP chief Amit Shah had used the
Jammu rally to poison people’s minds by telling them Muslims in Kashmir were
given the lion’s share of resources and benefits by the PDP while Hindus and
Buddhists were left in the lurch.
Sibat Aara, a social activist based in Kashmir,
described the BJP’s strategy to engineeer schisms as dangerous.
"There is already a spike in violence being
witnessed on the ground," Aara said.
"Does the BJP want more trouble by dividing the
state on religious lines? This is something really unacceptable."
The state has 12.5 million people, 68 percent of
them Muslims and 28 percent Hindus.
However, most Hindus are in Jammu area, where they
constitute some 63 percent and Sikhs constitute about four percent, making
Muslims a minority.
In the Ladakh area, bordering China, 40 percent are
Buddhists and Hindus are 12 percent. The rest are Muslims.
In contrast, 96.4 percent of the people in Kashmir
valley are Muslim, where Hindus constitute only 2.5 percent.
The state has seen widespread violence since Islamic
groups took up arms against Indian rule.
PM Modi condemns terrorist attack in Afghanistan
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday
termed the terror strike in Afghanistan as an attack on the nation's
"We strongly condemn the terror attacks in
Afghanistan yesterday. They are an attack on Afghanistan's multicultural
fabric," he wrote on Twitter.
He said India stands ready to assist the Afghanistan
government "in this sad hour".
"My thoughts are with the bereaved families. I
pray that the injured recover soon. India stands ready to assist the
Afghanistan government in this sad hour," Modi said.
At least 19 people, including Hindus and Sikhs, were
killed in a blast in Afghanistan's Jalalabad on Sunday.
Godhra: Muslims Gift Bikes To Councillors Who Didn’t
Back BJP in Municipality Polls
July 2, 2018
The 14 Independent councillors who did not side with
the BJP in the elections to the post of president and vice-president in the
Godhra municipality were felicitated by the local Muslims on Sunday.
Each of the 14 councillors — 13 Muslims and one
Hindu — were given a two-wheeler from the money collected from the community at
a function held at Polan Bazaar under the banner of Muslim Ghanchi Samaj. The
event was attended by nearly 3,000 people.
“These councillors have always shown solidarity
towards our minority community and have never been communally biased towards
us. All the community members came together today to thank them and vowed to
reduce crime, improve girl child education and work towards communal harmony,”
said Firdos Kothi, president of Muslim Ghanchi Samaj.
One of the 14 councillors, Sanjay Soni, returned the
two-wheeler and donated Rs 11,000 in a fund for education for children.
In the 44-member Godhra municipality, BJP has 18
councillors, while 25 are Independents and one from the Congress. In the last
month’s election for the posts of president and vice-president, 12 Independent
councillors from the minority community had backed the BJP, helping the latter
to win both the posts. On the eve of the elections, people from the minority
community had protested over reports that seven Independent Muslim councillors
have sided with the BJP and have gone incommunicado.
President Hadi: Houthis must surrender weapons,
withdraw for peace in Yemen
DUBAI: President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi reiterated
his previous comments regarding the Houthi militias handing over their weapons
and withdrawing from cities under their control.
During his meeting at the presidential palace in
Aden with the minister of defense and other military officials, he said: “any
negotiation or political process requires the application of the provisions of
UN resolution No. 2216, which calles on the Houthi militias to withdraw from
state institutions and surrender their weapons.”
President Hadi said, according to the Yemen news
agency, that the Yemeni people can no longer tolerate this absurd war any
The Yemeni president said that the Houthi militia
and their supporters in Tehran must implementing the requirements of the UN
resolution or bear the consequences of their intransigence.
He stressed that the goal of eradicating Iran’s
dangerous expansion project is close to being achieved, adding that Iran’s
attempts to expand its influence “threatens the present and future of Yemen and
its people, who reject sectarianism and Iranian ideas executed through the
Assault on Yemen's Hodeida halted as UN pursues
Hodeida - The United Arab Emirates on Sunday
announced it had halted the offensive it is backing against Huthi rebels in
Yemen's port city of Hodeida to give a chance to UN diplomatic efforts.
In a series of tweets, UAE Minister of State for
Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the pause was aimed at pursuing negotiations
for an unconditional rebel withdrawal from the port but warned that full
military action could resume.
The weeks-long offensive on Hodeida - Yemen's main
port - has raised fears of further suffering and deprivation in a country
already deeply shaken by years of war between the Iran-backed Huthis and
President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's Gulf-backed government.
Pointing to a renewed push for a negotiated
settlement by UN envoy Martin Griffiths, Gargash said: "We have paused our
campaign to allow enough time for this option to be fully explored. We hope he
He said the pause had been in effect since June 23
and while there was continued "pressure on the parameter",
pro-government forces were awaiting the results of an upcoming visit by
Griffiths to the rebel-held capital Sanaa.
Griffiths met with Hadi in the southern city of Aden
on Wednesday and is reported to be pushing for the Huthis to cede control of
Hodeida to the United Nations.
Hadi demanded a full rebel withdrawal from the city,
which has been the target of a weeks-long military offensive by the Yemeni
government and its regional allies, led by the UAE on the ground.
The rebels have said they may be willing to share
control of Hodeida's port with the United Nations but say their forces must
remain in the docks and the rest of the Red Sea city.
The Huthis have controlled Hodeida and its port
since 2014, when they drove the Hadi government out of the capital and seized
large swathes of northern Yemen.
On June 13, the UAE and its allies, including Saudi
Arabia, launched a massive military operation - dubbed "Golden
Victory" - to drive the rebels out of the port.
Pro-government forces managed to seize control of
Hodeida's airport in mid-June after days of heavy fighting but did not
immediately push forward into the city, home to some 600,000 people and about
150 kilometres (90 miles) west of Sanaa.
There are no confirmations of civilian casualties.
The UN, however, has documents thousands of residents fleeing combat zones.
Gargash said the operation has succeeded in
"forcing the Huthis to make concessions" but said it remained to be
seen "whether the Huthis are engaging seriously with this process or using
it as a tactic to buy time".
"Failing these patient efforts we believe that
continued military pressure will ultimately bring the liberation of Hodeida and
force the Huthis to engage seriously in negotiations."
Griffiths was in the tiny Gulf sultanate of Oman on
Thursday, where he met top rebel negotiator Mohammed Abdul Salam, UN radio
Griffiths told the radio a proposal to grant the UN
a major role in managing the Hodeida port was under study and spoke of
Both the UAE and the Hadi government have held firm
to their refusal of anything short of a full withdrawal of the Huthi rebels
Griffiths is expected in Aden, where the Hadi
government is temporarily based, in the coming days for another round of talks,
according to a source close to the president.
Some 70 percent of imports to Yemen, where eight
million people face imminent famine, flow through the port of Hodeida. Nearly
10,000 people have died in the Yemen war since 2015, when Saudi Arabia and its
allies joined the government's fight against the Huthis.
The United Nations has called Yemen the world's
largest humanitarian crisis.
Yemeni pro-government forces backed by the Saudi-led
military alliance advance during their fight against Huthi rebels in the area
of Hodeida's airport on June 19, 2018 Map of the Hodeida district in Yemen
showing population movements instigated by fighting between rebels and
Martin Griffiths (C), the UN special envoy for
Yemen, disembarks from a plane upon his arrival at Sanaa international airport
on June 16, 2018 for talks on the key port of Hodeida where Huthi rebel
fighters are battling a regional coalition
UAE claim of halt in offensive against Hudaydah not
true: Yemen’s Ansarullah
Jul 1, 2018
Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement says the United
Arab Emirates (UAE) continues with its weeks-long offensive against the port
city of Hudaydah, stressing that its recent claim of a halt in the offensive
has only been made in an attempt to “deceive public opinion.”
Mohammed Abdul-Salam, the movement’s spokesman, made
the remarks in a statement carried by Yemen's Arabic-language Ansarullah news
portal on Sunday. He said the UAE’s offensive against the Yemeni city had not
Abdul-Salam’s comments came just a day after UAE
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash announced a pause in the
offensive against the city, saying that the halt was meant to give a chance to
UN efforts aimed at resolving the conflict.
On June 13, Emirati forces and militia loyal to
former Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi launched a major offensive to
take Houthi-held Hudaydah, a densely-populated city and the war-torn country's
most vital port, which is the entry point for 70 percent of the impoverished
The offensive, however, has so far failed to achieve
its goal, thanks to firm resistance mounted by Yemeni troops and Houthi
fighters in defense of the city. The attack was also launched despite warnings
that it would compound the impoverished nation’s humanitarian crisis.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Abdul-Salam said that the
UAE’s declared ceasefire was in fact an attempt to whitewash its failure in
occupying Hudaydah. He said although the Houthi movement accepted the UN’s
technical and managerial roles in Hudaydah, it would not accept the world
body’s observatory role in the city.
The Houthi movement, which is a significant aid to
the Yemeni army in defending the country against the invading forces, has been
running state affairs in the absence of an effective administration during the
past three years.
Meanwhile, Dhaifallah al-Shami, a member of the
political bureau of the movement, said the UAE, the most significant ally of
Saudi Arabia in the so-called military coalition led by the regime in Riyadh,
is trying hard to pull itself out of a bog it created in Hudaydah and the western
He added that the Emirati troops had a hard time in
the area and that Abu Dhabi was desperately seeking a way out of the deadlock
in the Yemeni province.
Saudi Arabia and some 20 of its allies, including
the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Sudan, launched a brutal war, code-named
Operation Decisive Storm, against Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to
reinstall Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh, and crush the popular Ansarullah
The imposed war initially consisted of a bombing
campaign but was later coupled with a naval blockade and the deployment of
ground forces into Yemen.
The Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights announced in a
statement on March 25 that the war had left 600,000 civilians dead and injured
until then. The war and the accompanying blockade have also caused famine
The Saudi-led aggression has also taken a heavy toll
on the country's infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and
factories. The United Nations has already said that a record 22.2 million
Yemenis are in need of food aid, including 8.4 million threatened by severe
A number of Western countries, the United States and
Britain in particular, are also accused of being complicit in the ongoing
aggression as they supply the Riyadh regime with advanced weapons and military
equipment as well as logistical and intelligence assistance.
Israeli military sends tank, artillery to Syrian
front ‘as precaution’
1 July 2018
Israel’s military said it deployed additional tank
and artillery forces on the Syrian front on Sunday as a precaution given
intensified fighting over the border between Damascus’s troops and rebels.
“The forces deployed this morning as part of
preparations and readiness in light of developments on the Syrian Golan
Heights,” the military said on Twitter, adding that Israel was holding to a
policy of non-intervention in Syria’s civil war.
UN’s Griffiths ‘heading to Sanaa’ to convince
Houthis to withdraw from Hodeidah
2 July 2018
Yemeni Foreign Minister Khalid al-Yamani said that
there is no way to achieve any progress in the initiative regarding Hodeidah
without the full and unconditional withdrawal of the Houthi militias from the
strategic coastal city.
This comes after Yemeni sources confirmed that the
UN Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths is said to be travelling to Sanaa, and not
Aden, on Monday to talk with the militias.
Presidential sources in Aden said that Griffiths
would visit the Yemeni capital to deliver a message to the Houthis that they
should withdraw fully and not conditional from Hodeidah or else they would be
Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi stressed
during a meeting of military leaders on their insistence that the Houthis abide
by the three terms conditions set by them and UN Resolution 2216 and the
withdrawal of the militias of Houthi and their complete surrender of arms and
Some 70 percent of imports to Yemen flow through the
port of Hodeidah.
Arab Coalition: Seven ships unload their cargo at
The Arab Coalition backing the Yemeni legitimate
government confirmed on Sunday that it issued seven entry permits for ships
heading toward Hodeidah port while seven other vessels were awaiting permission
to enter the port.
The coalition added that a ship in al-Salif port is
currently unloading its cargo of wheat.
In another development, the coalition confirmed that
the Houthi militias have now been holding the “G Muse” vessel in Hodeidah’s
port for two months for unknown reasons.
Israel deploys more artillery, armored
reinforcements in occupied Golan
Israel has beefed up its military presence in the
occupied Golan Heights by deploying additional tanks and cannons in the
vicinity of the Syrian border, cautioning Damascus to keep its forces away from
the frontier as Syrian troops continue sweeping militant-held areas over the
In a statement released on Sunday, the Israeli
military said that it had deployed artillery and armored reinforcements to the
area, saying that the move was the result of a situation assessment “in light
of developments on the Syrian Golan Heights.”
The statement also claimed that the Israeli military
would adhere to its “non-involvement principle” regarding the Arab country. Tel
Aviv, the statement added, would also continue to respond “decisively” to any
infringement upon the Israeli regime and settlers in the occupied Palestinian
On Friday, Israel's military said it had mounted a
nighttime operation across the armistice line with Syria.
Syrian government troops have managed to liberate a
string of towns and villages in southern and southwestern regions of the
country from the clutches of militant outfits in recent weeks.
Syria, which has been gripped by foreign-backed
militancy since March 2011, has time and again said that the Israeli regime and
its Western and regional allies have been aiding Takfiri terrorist groups.
The Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, which once held
large swathes of land in Syria, is no longer in control of any urban center.
Following its crushing defeat against Syrian government forces late last year,
Daesh is only active through its remnants, sparsely based in some rural areas.
Other Takfiri outfits are either significantly weakened or increasingly losing
ground to the advancing government troops.
The Syrian government also strongly seeks to regain
its share of the mountainous plateau of the Golan Heights from the Israeli
regime, which waged a full-scale war against Arab territories in 1967,
occupying a large swathe of the Syrian Golan Heights. It annexed that territory
in 1981, a move never recognized by the international community.
Six years later, another war, known as the
Arab-Israel War or the Yom Kippur War, broke out between the Israeli regime and
a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria.
In 1974, however, a United Nations-brokered
ceasefire came into force, according to which the Israeli regime and the Syrian
government agreed to separate their troops, creating a buffer zone patrolled by
the UN Disengagement and Observer Force (UNDOF).
Earlier in the day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu, alluding to the so-called truce, told the Israeli cabinet that “we
will demand strict adherence to the 1974 disengagement deals with the Syrian
army.” He also said that he was in constant contact with Washington and Moscow
on the matter.
Over the past few years, Israel has frequently
attacked military targets in Syria in what is considered an attempt to prop up
terrorist groups that have been suffering heavy defeats against Syrian government
forces. It has also been providing weapons to anti-Damascus militants as well
as medical treatment to the Takfiri elements wounded in Syria.
Back on May 10, Israel conducted what it called its
most intensive airstrikes on Syria in decades. According to Russia's Defense
Ministry, Israel had used 28 warplanes in its airstrikes on Syria and fired 70
missiles. Both Damascus and Moscow said that the Syrian army managed to shoot
down over half of the missiles.
The Tel Aviv regime, at the time, claimed that its
assault was a response to a barrage of 20 rockets fired from Syria at Israeli
military outposts in Golan.
UAE suspends offensive against Yemen's Hudaydah
The United Arab Emirates has announced a pause in
its weeks-long military campaign on Hudaydah amid reports that the Saudi-led
push has hit a brick wall in the face of stiff resistance from Yemen's Houthis.
In a post on his Twitter account on Sunday, UAE
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said that the halt in the
offensive was meant to give a chance to UN efforts aimed at resolving the
"We welcome continuing efforts by UN Special
Envoy, Martin Griffiths, to achieve an unconditional Houthi withdrawal from
Hudaydah city and port," he said.
"We have paused our campaign to allow enough
time for this option to be fully explored. We hope he will succeed."
Backed by Saudi-led airstrikes, Emirati forces and
militants loyal to the former Yemeni government launched the Hudaydah assault
on June 13 despite warnings that it would compound the impoverished nation’s
Malaysia said on Thursday it was pulling its troops
out of the Saudi-led military coalition that has been bombing Yemen over the
past three years.
“The Cabinet made the decision (to bring soldiers
home) last week. We are waiting for the preparations carried out by the Armed
Forces,” Malaysia’s Defense Minister Mohamad Sabu said.
The Houthis and allied armed forces have managed to
inflict heavy losses on the invaders.
UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths on Thursday
expressed hope that a new round of peace talks between major warring sides of
the country could begin this month.
The UN envoy said the warring sides had announced readiness
to engage in the renewed peace initiative.
“Both parties have confirmed to me their willingness
to come to the table to restart negotiations. I think it’s long overdue that
that should take place. It’s been about two years since the last talks on
Yemen,” said Griffiths in an interview.
The Saudi-led coalition, which has been waging a war
against Yemen since early 2015, claims that the Houthis are using Hudaydah for
weapons delivery, an allegation rejected by the fighters.
Saudi Arabia has also imposed a blockade on Yemen,
which has smothered humanitarian deliveries of food and medicine to the
Several Western countries are supplying the Riyadh
regime with advanced weapons and military equipment.
French, Malian forces attacked in northern Malian
town of Gao
French and Malian forces came under attack on Sunday
in the northern Malian town of Gao, with local residents and security sources
saying some French soldiers were wounded and another saying some were killed.
One local source said a car bomb was detonated
targeting a French and Malian patrol which them came under fire. France’s
regional Barkhane force confirmed there had been an incident in Gao, but
declined to give details.
“There were several wounded among the French
soldiers who were in two vehicles that were completely destroyed by the
explosion. They were evacuated to their base,” a local army source said.
10 soldiers killed, four missing in Boko Haram
attack in Niger
NIAMEY, Niger - Ten soldiers were killed and four
were missing on Sunday after an attack blamed on the jihadist group Boko Haram
on a military position in southeast Niger, near the border with Nigeria, the
defence ministry said.
"We have a provisional toll of 10 dead, four
missing and three wounded," defence ministry spokesman Abdoul-Aziz Toure
told AFP, nearly a month after the last attacks attributed to the group killed
six, shattering several months of calm in the troubled region.
The attack by "Boko Haram" had targeted
Niger's "army positions in Bla Brin, a village not far from the Lake Chad
area, 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the town of N'Guigmi", he added.
The last attacks attributed to Boko Haram took place
in early June.
Three suicide bombers killed at least six people in
separate attacks in the southeastern Niger city of Diffa.
In late April, Niamey announced a military operation
against Boko Haram in the region of Lake Chad, which links Niger, Chad, Nigeria
The group, which is seeking an Islamic state based
on Sharia law, has caused the deaths of at least 20,000 people since it took up
arms in 2009 in Nigeria.
Some 2.4 million people have been displaced in
northern Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, according to the UN refugee agency
4 civilians killed, soldiers wounded in Mali attack
on French troops
02 JULY 2018
Bamako, Jul 2 French soldiers on patrol in troubled
northern Mali were targeted in a "terror" attack in which four
civilians were killed and dozens wounded, including four soldiers, Malian and
French officials said.
Citing hospital sources, Malian authorities said the
attack in Gao yesterday left four civilians dead and 23 others injured in an
apparent car bombing.
In Paris late last night, the French army chief told
AFP that four soldiers with the Barkhane force in Mali were wounded in the
attack and that there were at least two civilians dead.
"Terrorism has again hit Mali in a cowardly
way," the French army minister Florence Parly said in a tweet.
According to a Western military source, "some
French soldiers with the Barkhane force leaving the city fell into an ambush
set up by terrorists on the road that leads toward Bourem." Gao resident
Fatouma Wangara said the French patrol was deliberately targeted by a suicide
"An armoured vehicle blocked the way and the
car blew up," she said.
Meanwhile in a separate incident on Sunday, a
vehicle of the Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA), an armed group of
former Touareg rebels which often operates alongside French and Malian forces
in Mali's north, hit a landmine in Talataye village in the Gao region.
That blast killed four people and injured three, the
group said in a statement.
The attacks, coming in the wake of two others on
Friday and Saturday, highlighted the fragile security situation in the West
African nation as it prepares to hold elections on July 29.
Yesterday's attacks occurred as an African Union
summit opened in neighbouring Mauritania, with security crises on the
continent, including unrest in the vast Sahel region, high on the agenda.
On Friday, a suicide bombing hit the Mali
headquarters of the five-nation force known as G5 Sahel, adding to concerns
about how it can tackle the jihadist groups roaming the region.
Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, whose
country is part of the G5 and is hosting the two-day African Union summit,
warned that Friday's attack on the Sahel force HQ had exposed regional security
He said the blast "hit the heart" of the
region's security and lashed out at a lack of international help, saying the
doors of the United Nations were "closed". "It was a message
sent by the terrorists at this precise moment when we are getting organised to
stabilise and secure our region," Aziz told France 24 television.
"If the headquarters was attacked, it is
because there are so many failings we need to fix if we want to bring stability
to the Sahel." The Al-Qaeda-linked Support Group for Islam and Muslims,
the main jihadist alliance in the Sahel, claimed Friday's bombing in a
telephone call to the Mauritanian news agency Al-Akhbar.
And on Saturday, four Malian soldiers were killed
when their vehicle drove over a landmine in the central Mopti region.
The G5 aims to have a total of 5,000 troops from
five nations -- Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger -- but has faced
funding problems and accusations of human rights abuses.
French President Emmanuel Macron will meet G5
leaders in Nouakchott on today to focus on progress made by the force.
G5 operates alongside France's 4,000 troops in the
troubled "tri-border" area where Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso meet,
and alongside the UN's 12,000-strong MINUSMA peacekeeping operation in Mali.
Mali votes on July 29 in a presidential election in
which incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita will face more than a dozen
Thousands of people have taken to the streets in
banned opposition protests.
Mali's unrest stems from a 2012 ethnic Tuareg
separatist uprising, which was exploited by jihadists in order to take over key
cities in the north.
The extremists were largely driven out in a
French-led military operation launched in January 2013.
But large stretches of the country remain out of the
control of the foreign and Malian forces, which are frequent targets of
attacks, despite a peace accord signed with Tuareg leaders in mid-2015 aimed at
isolating the jihadists.
Mali car bomb kills two civilians
BAMAKO - An attack on a military patrol in northern
Mali killed two civilians and wounded up to eight French soldiers on Sunday,
Mali’s defence ministry said.
The attack comes two days after Islamist militants
killed at least six people during a raid on a military headquarters in central
Mali, a country where French troops are helping combat jihadists across its
vast desert reaches.
“I confirm that it was a car bomb that drove into a
joint Barkhane/Malian army patrol,” defence ministry spokesman Boubacar Diallo
said. Barkhane is the name of the near 4,000-strong French force stationed in
its former colonies across the Sahel region. About a dozen people were wounded
in Sunday’s attack, including four to eight French Barkhane troops, Diallo
said. France’s army spokesman, Patrik Steiger, confirmed that civilians had
been killed in an attack in Gao and the army was assessing the state of the
30-strong French patrol that came under attack.
He said the explosion happened near three French
Photos posted on social media showed an armoured
vehicle on a sandy road surrounded by black smoke.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack,
which occurred a month before presidential elections scheduled for the end of
But violence by Islamist militants has proliferated
in the sparsely-populated Sahel in recent years, with groups linked to al Qaeda
and Islamic State using central and northern Mali as a launchpad for attacks
across the region.
Western powers have provided significant funding to
a regional force made up of soldiers from Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and
Mauritania combating jihadists. But the so-called G5 force has been hobbled by
delays disbursing the money and poor coordination between the five countries.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who last year
complained that G5 was taking too long to set up, is due in Mauritania on
Monday to discuss security in the region.
Jordan seeks ceasefire for southwest Syria after
AMMAN: Jordan stepped in to try to avert further
violence and stem another wave of displacement across its border with Syria on
Sunday, mediating new talks between fighters and the government’s main ally
Russia for a truce in the southwest.
Talks in the town of Bosra Al-Sham on Saturday broke
down as the army seized more ground in its offensive, with insurgent lines in
some areas collapsing, and a string of towns and villages accepting the return
of government rule after intense bombardment. Fighting and bombardment calmed
overnight, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, but reignited on
Sunday around Tafas, northwest of Daraa, along with heavy airstrikes.
Syrian Bashar Assad’s offensive in the southwest
aims to reclaim one of two remaining opposition strongholds in Syria, the other
being Idlib and adjacent areas in the northwest. Assad’s forces captured the
last enclaves near Damascus and Homs earlier this year.
Southwest Syria is a “de-escalation zone” of reduced
warfare and bombardment agreed by Russia, Jordan and the US last year.
Washington warned it would respond to violations of this agreement, but has
done nothing so far.
Last week, fighters said the US had told them not to
expect any American military support.
The opposition’s chief negotiator in wider UN peace
talks, Nasr Al-Hariri, last week accused the US of complicity in Assad’s
southwest offensive, saying American silence could only be explained by “a
Peace talks in the town of Bosra Al-Sham, home to a
UNESCO world heritage site, failed on Saturday when insurgents rejected Russian
terms for their surrender, but began again on Sunday under the auspices of
Jordan, opposition spokesman Ibrahim Al-Jabawi said.
Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the
kingdom was engaged in intensive diplomacy with all parties in the conflict to
help broker a cease-fire that would ease plight of displaced civilians.
“We are moving in all directions and with all the
parties to bring a cease-fire and protect civilians,” he said in a Tweet on
Airstrikes have pounded the region since the
offensive ramped up two weeks ago, causing at least 160,000 people to flee
their homes according to the UN.
On Saturday at least 10 civilians were killed when
bombs were dropped on the opposition-held village of Ghasam, relief workers
said. The Observatory says more than 100 civilians have been killed since an
escalation in fighting on June 19.
Many who fled have sought refuge along the borders
with Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Both Jordan, which already
hosts more than half a million Syrian refugees, and Israel, have said their
borders will stay shut.
Both countries’ militaries have distributed aid
supplies to the people seeking shelter near the borders.
On Sunday, Israel also said it had deployed more
tanks and artillery to the Syrian front as a precaution because of the fighting
An Israeli army commander told Reuters that it was
hard to quantify how many people had sought shelter in the area immediately
across the border, but that it was in the thousands and there were hundreds
more arriving each day.
Southwest Syria was an early hotbed of the uprising
against Assad in 2011 that morphed into the seven-year conflict that has cost
over half a million lives and pushed half the country’s pre-war population from
Until Assad’s offensive began this month, its front
lines had been mostly stable. However, the army has now taken much of the
eastern side of the opposition territory there and forced two large towns on
the western side, Dael and Ibta, to accept deals to come back under state rule.
That pattern of local groups in towns and villages
agreeing deals with the government independently of the main opposition
factions has been repeated in locations across the southwest.
UN terror list implicates Turkey in jihadist
By Abdullah Bozkurt
The United Nations’ (UN) growing sanctions list of
terrorists reveals the terrible fact that the permissive and encouraging
environment for the radicalization of Turks including those living in the
diaspora by the current governing Islamist party in Turkey has taken a toll on
global security, creating spillover risks for Turkey’s allies and partners as
Among the names cited in the UN’s Consolidated
Sanctions List, which uncovers how foreign nationals used Turkey as a conduit
to conduct terror operations, get logistical supplies and run a jihadist
highway to move extremist figures to/from conflict areas in neighboring Syria
and Iraq and was last updated on June 18, 2018, are around a half dozen Turks,
some from the Turkish diaspora in Germany. Encountering the names of Turkish
nationals or Turkey as a hub in such terror designations used to be quite a
rare occurrence and suggests that a pattern is already developing.
Unfortunately, the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which has
ruled Turkey for the last 16 years, has offered a fertile environment for all
sorts of Islamist groups, including violent ones, that are connected to
al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to organize, train
and move around within Turkish borders.
Based on dozens of hushed-up cases and scores of
leaked confidential documents, it is pretty clear that the Erdoğan government
has been pursuing an undeclared revolving door policy for jihadist figures who
were caught up in the criminal justice system in Turkey. Most, if not all, were
detained only to be released quickly with no punishment or with a slap on the
wrist after indictments and trial proceedings that laid bare serious charges
and incriminating evidence. The only time we see the Turkish government
cracking down of radical networks is when the pressure on Ankara at the
international or bilateral level reaches a critical point. Even then, the
clampdown quickly fades when attention is turned elsewhere.
Behind this risky policy lies Erdoğan’s motivation
to use radical groups as trump cards against domestic opposition in Turkey,
especially the Kurdish political movement, and intimidate critics and opponents
while tapping on proxies’ destructive potential to gain leverage in regional
and global politics. The ideological commitment of Erdoğan and his associates
to religious zealotry is also a contributing factor that drives this
Caliphate-like ambition harbored by Turkey’s strongman Erdoğan. Let’s look at
some of the names listed by the UN sanctions committee to gain better insight
into what is going on with Erdoğan’s Turkey. Not surprisingly, many, if not
all, of this radical bunch have some sort of links to the Turkish intelligence
agency, which is now run by Erdoğan confidante Hakan Fidan.
Adem Yılmaz, a 39-year-old German-born resident of
Turkey’s Black Sea province of Bartın, was listed as member of the Islamic
Jihad Group for participating in such activities as recruitment of new members,
financing, planning and facilitating terror acts. Yılmaz had reportedly worked
for Turkey’s notorious National Intelligence Organization (MİT) according to a
Der Spiegel report that published summary of a testimony by his associate
Atilla Selek, who talked to German authorities in a terror investigation. The
Islamic Jihad Group is an offshoot of the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic Movement of
Uzbekistan. Yılmaz attended a terrorist training camp in South Asia in 2006
where he received instruction in explosives and later set up a cell in Germany
to carry out bomb attacks against American citizens and entities in Germany.
Investigators discovered his group had acquired a hydrogen peroxide solution
and electrical devices for triggering detonation as well as several detonators.
He was arrested on Sept. 4, 2007 in the German city Medebach and was sentenced
on March 4, 2010 to 11 years in prison.
Yılmaz’s associate Mevlüt Kar, a dual Turkish-German
national, was also listed by the UN as a terrorist on January 25, 2012. He had
been living in Turkey since 2002 after leaving Germany. While he was in Turkey,
Kar arranged the shipment of detonators for explosives to be used in an attack
in Germany. Like Yılmaz, he is also linked to the Turkish intelligence agency
and worked for MİT as an informant for an unspecified amount of time. When he
was detained at İstanbul Atatürk Airport on August 8, 2002 on a warrant from
German authorities, he was quickly released without even a referral for an
arraignment hearing, suggesting that he had big brother looking out for him in
Turkey. The US Treasury listed Kar as a Specially Designated National on an
anti-terror designation list on January 26, 2012.
Maghomed Maghomedzakirovich Abdurkhmanov (aka Abu
Banat), an al-Qaeda suspect and Russian national, listed on October 2, 2015 by
the UN, travelled to Syria through Turkey to join jihadists and has led the
Jamaat Abu Banat terrorist group, now part of ISIL. According to the UN file,
he operates on the outskirts of Aleppo and Idlib. The group is made up of
militants from Turkey, Pakistan, Morocco, Russia and other countries. It is
involved in kidnappings and public executions of local Syrians including
Christian priests. He had long operated inside and outside of Turkey and was
detained, arrested, tried and released by Turkish authorities. He admitted
during court proceedings that he worked with Turkish intelligence, which provided
him with weapons, funds and vehicles. He was most likely released in 2017 in
Turkey although he is wanted by both Russia and the US.
Tarad Mohammad Aljarba, a 39-year-old Saudi Arabian
national, has worked as the emir for borders and logistical support of ISIL. He
facilitated the travel from Turkey to Syria of prospective ISIL fighters from
Australia, Europe and the Middle East. Aljarba was put on the terror list by
the UN on September 29, 2015. Shane Dominic Crawford, a citizen of Trinidad and
Tobago, is listed as member of ISIL who works as an English language
propagandist for ISIL in print and video media. He had stayed in the Turkish
border town Reyhanlı for some time in 2014. He is believed to still be in Syria
and also engaged in armed conflict as a sniper. He was featured in a story in
ISIL’s Dabiq online magazine in which he called on ISIL supporters to attack
interests in the US and European countries, citing various attacks in
California and Orlando in the United States, and Nice, France, as examples.
Morad Laaboudi, a 29-year-old Moroccan national and
listed on February 29, 2016 by the UN as an ISIL suspect, is a foreign
terrorist fighter facilitator. He operated on a base in the Turkish border
province of Gaziantep and served as a liaison for ISIL’s outreach to armed
opposition groups. Kevin Guiavarch, a 25-year-old French national, left France
for Syria in 2012 and joined Nusra Front fighters and later hooked up with
ISIL. He and his wife, Salma Oueslati, were actively involved in luring more
fighters from France. Like many jihadists he had been operating inside and
outside of Turkey with authorities looking the other way and hoping they would
help topple Bashar al-Assad, the archrival of President Erdoğan in Syria.
Although his name was listed by the UN on September 23, 2014 and he was facing
a fresh arrest warrant issued by French authorities the same year, Guiavarch
continued to operate freely across the Turkish-Syrian border. It was not until
June 2016, when Turkey came under intense pressure from the US and EU, that he
was arrested along with other jihadist figures. He was expelled from Turkey in
January 2017 and placed in pretrial detention in France.
Emrah Erdoğan, 30-year-old dual Turkish-German
national, was listed in the UN terror list on November 30, 2015 as an al-Qaeda
suspect who was trained in North Waziristan, Pakistan, engaged in suicide bomb
planning and raised funds in Germany for Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, also listed
as a terrorist group. He brought his brother Bünyamin from Germany to Pakistan
to join al-Qaeda, but the latter was killed in a drone attack on October 4,
2010. Emrah moved Somalia in 2011 to join al-Shabab, working as a point man for
foreign fighters who wanted to join the terror group. He also acted as
propagandist for al-Shabab. On June 10, 2012 he was arrested in Tanzania and
deported to Germany, where he was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment on
terror charges, on Jan. 23, 2014, by the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt am
Main. On Dec. 9, 2015 the US State Department designated Erdoğan a Specially
Designated Global Terrorist.
These names are just the tip of the iceberg and do
not reflect the whole picture as it takes a long time to compile the names,
obtain the supporting evidence and get the names published by the UN. The
horrifying picture of how the Erdoğan government has long allowed, facilitated
and helped the proliferation of radical figures will be exposed when the Syrian
crisis is resolved and the conflict is stabilized to some extent. The Erdoğan
government’s incitement of Turkish as well as non-Turkish Muslim diaspora
groups, especially in Europe, continues unabated. The divisive religious
discourse we saw during the campaign before the June 24 elections has taken a
further toll on expat communities abroad, creating fertile ground for the
nurturing of all sorts of extremist ideas. The Austrian government decision to
shut down Turkey-backed mosques and expel Turkish imams from the country must
also be assessed from this perspective. (turkishminute.com)
Pope Francis decries new attacks in Syria's Daraa
VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis has decried intensified
attacks in southern Syria, asking that people there be spared more suffering.
In remarks Sunday at the Vatican, Francis cited
Syria's Daraa province, where a government offensive that began June 19 has
killed scores of people and forced 50,000 to flee.
Francis lamented that "the military actions of
recent days have struck even schools and hospitals and triggered thousands of
He renewed his appeal for peace so that Syrians,
after years of fighting, could be "spared further suffering."
The pope noted that Saturday he will make a
"pilgrimage of peace and unity" to Bari in southern Italy. There
he'll pray and reflect with the heads of Christian churches and communities
from the Middle East, a region where "so many brothers and sisters in the
faith continue to suffer."
'Charlie Hebdo terror mentor' may return to family
in Britain on release
1 JULY 2018
The alleged mentor of one of the Charlie Hebdo
terrorists is set to be released from jail amid questions over whether he will
be allowed back into Britain.
The Al-Qaeda terrorist mastermind, jailed in France
for terrorism offences in 2005, is about to be released from prison and may
seek to return to his family in Britain.
The British government banned Beghal from entering
the UK in 2009, but his family have been fighting to clear his name through the
Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights. The Telegraph understands
the ban remains in place and Beghal will be stopped from entering the UK after
his release if the Home Office decision is not overturned.
Djamel Beghal, 52, is reaching the end of his
combined sentences for a series of crimes, including planning to blow up the
American Embassy in Paris. His wife, Sylvie, a French citizen, and their four
children live in Leicester, where Beghal became radicalised in the late 1990s
and early 2000s.
Whilst in prison, Beghal is considered to have
mentored Cherif Kouachi, who carried out the murderous attack on the offices of
the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine with his brother, Said Kouachi, in January
2015. He also has links with Amedy Kouachi, the Islamic State terrorist who
shot dead four Jewish shoppers at a Kosher supermarket just after the Hebdo
France wants to deport Beghal on August 5, the day
when he comes out of Vezin prison, in Rennes. His lawyers insist his life would
be in danger if he returns to Algeria.
‘This sets up the prospect of a legal challenge to
the British decision to ban him,’ said a source close to the case. ‘Beghal will
be a released prisoner and reformed character who has every right to begin a
new life with his loved ones in any country he chooses.’
Born in Algeria, Beghal settled in France in 1987
and married Sylvie in 1990. Seven years later, he moved his family to
Leicester. While in the UK, Beghal made at least one trip to Afghanistan to
receive orders from the late Al-Qaeda chief, Osama Bin Laden. British and
French intelligence operatives saw Beghal as one of Al-Qaeda’s leading
recruiters in Europe.
In 2000 the family moved to Jalalabad in Afghanistan. After his arrest
at Dubai airport in 2001 for carrying a false passport, Beghal was discovered
to have organised an Al-Qaeda cell during his time in the Midlands.
Investigators found he had quietly built up a network of supporters among
foreign émigrés, who used the Indian and Pakistani communities as cover.
Nazir Okhai, a spokesman for the Memon Association,
a Muslim community group based in Leicester, told the Telegraph Beghal's views
are no longer tolerated in the city. "Our mosques teach that we should not
judge from one side of an argument only; you can only clap with two
If he has not changed his opinions, the muslim
society would be apprehensive, Mr Okhai said. “Once bitten, twice shy.”
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