Tawhidi, who has not been recognized by the Australian National Imams Council
nor is he affiliated with any Australian mosque (according to ABC
Imam, Imam Tawhidi, Darling of Zionists and Hindu Fanatics, Visiting India
Did the Supreme Court Deny a Muslim’s Plea for an Imam at His Execution?
New Sunni Islamism Matches History of Totalitarianism - Academic
Arrests Students for Mocking Christianity Online
Closes Muslim Kindergarten over Islamist Links
of Catholics Celebrated 500 Years Of Christianity In Bangladesh
More Open To Using Cannabis For Medical Purposes, Muslim Consumer Group Says
Qaeda Attempting to Exploit Rising Hindu-Muslim Tensions, Says Report
between security forces, militants underway in J-K’s Pulwama
PDP leader wants back remains of Afzal Guru,
Administration Threatens To Veto Any Anti-Saudi Resolution By Congress
US Lawmaker Apologises For Remarks Which Triggered Anti-Semitism Row
leverage over Taliban, US ramps up Afghanistan airstrikes to decade-long high
wants ex-Saudi aide punished in Khashoggi killing
acting Pentagon chief meets Afghan president
destroys Palestinian house near Bethlehem
Revolution anniversary speech, Rouhani lays claim to Bahrain, other neighbours
leading Shian political blocs renew call for withdrawal of US troops from Iraq
retaliatory attack leaves 8 Saudi soldiers dead in Jizan
Palestinians killed inside Gaza lifeline tunnel after inhaling toxic gas
orders 1,112 people arrested over Gulen links
Adapting Into a Covert Threat Beyond Iraq And Syria
parliament to vote to extend el-Sisi’s rule this week
of US forces in Syria likely to start in ‘weeks’
more Syrian civilians killed as US-led warplanes bombard Dayr al-Zawr
kill 16 civilians as US-backed Syrian forces battle to take last Daesh pocket
state media says Israel artillery strikes Quneitra province
seeks to vindicate Afghan war, 30 years after pullout
jails Daesh pair for 15 years over planned attacks
plays power broker by hosting Palestinian unity talks
Defense Ministers to review operations in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq
activists bemoan failure of Muslim countries to address Myanmar crisis
blames ‘stubborn Taliban’ for ongoing conflict in Afghanistan
Buddhist refugees face hardship at border
stops more Rohingya taking risky trip to Malaysia
Red Unit militant among several killed, wounded in Badghis and Uruzgan
Open To Using Cannabis For Medical Purposes, Muslim Consumer Group Says
Party Leaders Face Corruption Probe In Malaysia
one peace accord with all Muslim groups
slide towards identity politics
of massive, grassroots Islamic movement urges Europe’s political center to
Bajwa Lauds Gen (R) Raheel for Middle East Peace Efforts
Multan brothers booked on sedition charges for taking part in PTM protest
on domestic violence introduced amid MMA reservations
urged to own overseas Pakistanis who declared themselves Afghans
leaders responsible for murder of Khaisor whistleblower, brother alleges
expanding in Sahel region: African Union
refugees struggle in aftermath of Boko Haram attacks
Election Brings Dual Crises Back to the Polls: Corruption and Boko Haram
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Syed Zafar Mehdi
Tawhidi, who has not been recognized by the Australian National Imams Council
nor is he affiliated with any Australian mosque (according to ABC
investigation), is again in news.
white-turbaned trouble-monger masquerading as a cleric is visiting India to
attend a cultural festival organized by a prominent television group close to
radical Hindu organizations.
the past few days, social media has been abuzz over Tawhidis much-publicized
visit to India. While he has been ecstatically welcomed by the ideological
right (RSS and ilk), including some leaders of the ruling party, Muslim
organizations and peace activists have strongly denounced his agenda-based
banks heavily on his aggressive PR machinery, dishing out inflammatory statements
that stoke the flames of sectarianism and malign the image of Islam. Thats
precisely why he is idolized by right-leaning ideologues from America to Israel
to India. He makes their job easier.
the last few days, his interviews have appeared in leading newspapers of India,
in which he spews venom against Muslims, against Islam, against Pakistan,
against Iran, against the Islamic revolution. He makes no secret of his
surreptitious love affair with Zionists in Israel and Hindutva brigade in
an interview with Times of India, Tawhidi described himself as a peace advocate
working for healthy interfaith dialogue. In the same breath, he denounced
Pakistans version of Islam, which he said is amended to fit the narrative of
the government and to justify all of its wrongdoings. Exactly the kind of
rhetoric Hindu fanatics in India want to hear from their foreign guests.
went on to label Irans revolutionary guards and Lebanons Hezbollah movement as
Shia terrorist organizations, in line with what his masters in Tel Aviv and
Washington have suckled him.
association with Iran is old. He was born in the holy city of Qom and had his
elementary and secondary education in the religious seminaries of the city.
Owing to his suspicious activities, he was expelled from the Qom seminary after
which he traveled to Australia and unveiled his real face there.
has toured many countries in the West in recent years promoting his warped
worldview and distorted image of Islam, thereby bringing bad name to the
religion he falsely claims to profess. The latest being India, where he has
overt and covert association with Hindu militant organisations that have been
accused of mob lynching of Muslims in recent past.
of the people he has met in India over the past few days based on his Twitter feed include the infamously famous
hate-mongers BJP politician Subramanian
Swamy and writer Tarek Fateh. Both Swamy and Fateh are master conspiracy
theorists whose job is to polarize communities in India for vote bank politics.
May 2018, Swamy, who is known for whipping communal passions, said Muslims of
India were the descendants of Hindus, so if any Muslim citizen of India
identifies with or glorifies Islamic rule in India, he should be declared a
defeated alien. Fateh, a Pakistan-born and India-based writer, in September
2018 said Muslims owe Ram Mandir to Hindus and it would be constructed in
Ayodhya, a disputed site in northern India where a historic mosque was
demolished by radical Hindus on December 6, 1992.
camaraderie with these people is based on their common hatred for Islam and
Muslims. Their meetings are part of the larger plot to demean the great
religion of Islam and its great adherents.
not only hates Muslims, but he also promotes the views that fit the narrative
of Hindu fanatics in India. For instance, in an interview with right-wing
portal OpIndia last year, he said Pakistan is an illegitimate country founded
upon hate and blood, and added that Kashmir is a Hindu land and it belonged to India
before Pakistan was created.
please his friends in New Delhi, Tawhidi even jumped in defense of India forces
and legitimized the cold-blooded killing of Kashmiri youth Qaiser Amin in
Kashmir earlier this year.
he has been praised by far-right ideologues including American Hindu author
David Frawley, anti-Islamophobia and peace activists like Middle East Eye
columnist CJ Werleman have criticized him in unequivocal terms.
a November 2017 article titled The Islamophobia Industrys favourite Imam is a
fake, Werleman brilliantly exposed the fake Imam and the darling of New
Atheists. His cartoonish and paradoxical efforts to portray himself as the sum
of all xenophobic fears, while at the same time echoing xenophobic narratives
made him an irresistible magnet to Australian media outlets and racist hate
groups, he wrote.
the radical Hindu groups in India rolled red carpet for him, Muslim
organisations strongly protested against his visit. Majlis Ulama-e-Hind, a body
of Muslim clerics in India, expressed its strong disapproval over Tawhidis
visit by writing a letter to Indias Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
Kalbe Jawad, general secretary Majlis Ulama-i-Hind and top Shia cleric, said
the man was masquerading as a scholar while he was not related to Shiism or
Islam, because his preaching and books are against the teachings of Islam and
Ali Quadri, National President of Muslim Students Organisation of India, also
opposed his visit to India, terming him a puppet of the West and Israel.
News founder Pratik Sinha accused him of spreading fake news. He was soon
blocked on Twitter.
protest against Tawhidis visit to India and denounce his hate-filled rhetoric,
hashtags like #GoBackTawhidi, #NoToTawhidi, #ImamOfFitna have been trending on
Twitter in India.
is a fraud, a big fraud, wrote on Twitter user. His only agenda is to humiliate
Muslims and show disrespect to Islam, which is also the agenda of Zionists and
Did The Supreme Court Deny A Muslim’s Plea For An Imam At His Execution?
THE SUPREME COURT cleared the way for Alabama to execute Domineque Ray, a
Muslim man who had wanted his imam by his side as he died, the legal commentary
ranged from surprised to outraged. The justices’ order, on February 7th,
approved by a 5-4 vote—with the four liberal-leaning justices in dissent—made
no mention of the apparent constitutional problem with Alabama’s refusal to
grant Mr Ray’s request. According to Alabama Department of Corrections policy,
the prison’s Christian chaplain may be present during a lethal injection and,
on request, “will kneel at [an inmate’s] side and pray with him”, but clergy of
other faiths are barred from the room.
February 6th, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals had delayed Mr Ray’s execution on the grounds that
Alabama’s Christian-clergy-only rule seemed to violate the constitutional bar
on preferring one faith over others. In a 28-page opinion explaining this
position, Judge Stanley Marcus wrote for two colleagues in concluding that “it
looks substantially likely to us that Alabama has run afoul of the
establishment clause of the First Amendment”. Mr Ray’s claim “touches at the
heart” of America’s ideal of religious liberty. “[W]e can think of no principle
more elemental to the establishment clause”, they wrote, “than that the states
and the federal government shall not favour one religious denomination over
new Sunni Islamism matches history of totalitarianism - academic
rise to supremacy of the political Islamist-rooted Justice and Development
Party (AKP) is widely seen as coinciding with the regression of democracy and
rise of totalitarianism. Yet it would be a mistake, political scientist and
Ahval contributor Cengiz Aktar said in an academic article , to deduce from
this that Islam is incompatible with democracy and a pluralistic society.
tending to consider that Turkish failure has more to do with historical
features of the polity than Islam’s alleged innate inadequacies,” Aktar said in
his article, published in the January 2019 edition of Philosophy and Social
Turkish attitude to Islam until the AKP period had, Aktar said, a
“schizophrenic” quality, which emerged from a founding principle that placed
the religion as “the single common denominator among the participants” of the
new, secular nation envisioned by the republic’s founders.
modus operandi obviously excluded the non-Muslim groups from the composition of
the nation right from the beginning. Paradoxically it also excluded Muslim
masses from the composition of the new nation by virtue of the principle of
secularism or rather laicism, in a perfectly schizophrenic modus,” Aktar wrote.
other words, Turkey today is precisely at a point where Islam is becoming
finally its main identity: ‘nation’ and ‘Muslim’, merging finally as one and
the same,” said the scholar. “Such completion of Islam’s nationalization both
literally and figuratively opened up, on the same time the opportunity of its
he argues, has entailed Sunni homogenisation and corresponding demographic
engineering to rid Turkey of ethnic or religious minorities “who don’t
correspond to the redefined Sunni Turk,” mirroring the “dreadful precedent” set
during the late Ottoman period, when minorities were massacred or expelled from
Aktar said, as in that period, today’s situation sees the country’s minorities
being marginalised or forced out entirely. With as many as 3.5 million
“obedient Sunni Syrian refugees” currently in Turkey, and many of these willing
to stay on, the AKP regime has a large reserve of potential citizens to replace
them with, the scholar added. “The Sunni homogenization is in full swing.”
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, meanwhile, has pushed “undemocratic political culture to
its conceptual limits” through a “A representative system of government
exclusively defined by holding elections – moreover, non-free and unfair – in
an environment where participation, power sharing, governance, accountability,
and transparency are inexistent.”
political group that gains the majority – in this case Erdoğan’s own “tribe” of
Sunni Muslim voters, is allowed to rule at its own discretion, and Erdoğan has
seized the Turkish judiciary and tied it to his political will to ensure it can
this, Aktar said, is not a new situation but a development of the system in
place in the “Old Turkey” that preceded the AKP’s rule.
law’ finds its essence in westernized Old Turkey’s political customs that
excludes the majority, whereas its present-day nemesis excludes all kind of
minorities and cultural diversities,” he said.
Erdoğan has mustered an “overwhelming mass of followers” that shows
“totalitarian features,” with which the president is able to communicate “in
plain Turkish packed with quick fixes, in line with (their) level of
looks as though the New Turkey project, as defined and conveyed by the regime
through a sense of Sunni Islamist belonging, matches, and legitimizes the
expectations of a totalitarian behavior nurturing at the social level,” Aktar
these features of the AKP’s rule, however, have their roots in prior periods of
Turkish history, from the absolutist Ottoman sultan Abdulhamit II and the
Jacobinist Young Turks who preceded the switch to a republic, to the
totalitarian aspects of the Armenian and Syriac genocides of 1915-1916.
“failure of Turkish political Islam and the simultaneous rise of
totalitarianism seem to have to do with an abortive social contract unqualified
for accepting the peaceful antagonisms of various ethnic, religious, and social
groups,” Aktar said.
the ideology underneath, Turkish homo politicus is against power sharing,
devolution, and pluralism. He is keen of justice only if that justice is for
the followers of his asabiyya. He is keen to preserve the ‘master-obedient
servant’ relation, worships a radical nationalism, and be predisposed to
violence ... Overall, he is not prone to democracy and pluralism,” he said.
arrests students for mocking Christianity online
Egyptian authorities have arrested four students for mocking Christian rituals
in an online video and ordered them to be kept in custody for four days, a
judicial source said Monday.
university students aged between 19 and 24 were accused of being in “contempt
of the Christian religion,” the source said.
tried and found guilty they could face up to five years in prison.
were arrested last week and remanded in custody by the state prosecutor
the end of January they posted a video on YouTube in which they were allegedly
seen mocking Coptic hymns and prayers.
they later removed the clip and posted an apology online.
a Christian minority which accounts for 10 percent of Egypt’s 98 million
people, have repeatedly complained of marginalization in the mostly Muslim
recent years they have been targeted by Daesh group extremists.
for “contempt” of Christianity are rare in Egypt where more frequently charges
are levelled for contempt of Islam usually against liberal Muslim
2016 four Coptic teenagers were found guilty of being in contempt of Islam and
three of them were handed five-year sentences each after mocking Muslim prayer
in a video.
that year they fled the country, traveling to Switzerland where they obtained
closes Muslim kindergarten over Islamist links
in the city of Mainz on Monday withdrew the license of the only Muslim
kindergarten in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate amid allegations that the
facility was promoting Salafism.
president of the state's youth office, Detlef Placzek, said the promotion of
Salafist materials meant that the nursery no longer adhered to the German
had a duty to intervene, Placzek said, when an operator was unwilling or unable
to "to create the conditions that ensure the well-being of children."
Nil-Rhein chairman Samy El Hagrasy rejected the accusations of extremism and
said he would be appealing. "We accept and respect the constitution,"
said El Hagrasy, adding that the decision was "incomprehensible and a
not in 'acute danger'
bells were first sounded in 2012, when a controversial preacher began attending
events for the Arab Nil-Rhein (Arab Nile-Rhine) mosque association, which is
responsible for the Al Nur day nursery.
information only came to light in autumn last year, with the revelation that
inappropriate literature had been shared at the kindergarten and that the
center had worked with an infamous figure within the ultra-conservative
at the kindergarten are all due to switch to other day care centers by March
31, with preparations already being made by the city. A grace period was possible
because there was no evidence of "acute danger to life and limb of the
children," officials said.
present there are 18 children at the kindergarten between the ages of three and
of Catholics Celebrated 500 Years Of Christianity In Bangladesh
of Catholics celebrated 500 years of Christianity in Bangladesh by paying
tribute to early missionaries, martyrs, and Mother Mary from Feb. 7-8. The
celebrations coincided with an annual pilgrimage to the popular Our Lady of
Lourdes shrine in Diang, Chittagong Archdiocese.
7,000 people including 11 bishops, 75 priests, 18 religious brothers and 80
nuns flocked to the two-day program.
Feb. 7, they paid tribute to early Christian martyrs who were buried in Diang's
old cemetery in 1607.
from the former Arakan Kingdom, now part of Myanmar's northern Rakhine State,
reportedly killed 600 Portuguese Christians shortly after the turn of the
massacre followed the martyrdom in 1602 of Portuguese Jesuit priest Father
Francesco Fernandez at the hands of the Arakanese, four years after he became
the first Catholic missionary to set foot in Chittagong and Diang.
happened some 80 years after the first Christian traders sailed from Goa in
India, then a Portuguese stronghold, and landed at Chittagong port in 1517,
after which they helped to set up the first Christian settlements in the area.
Vatican made Chittagong the seat of East Bengal Vicariate in 1845. It fell
under the control of Dhaka Diocese from 1886-1927, when the Holy See created
Chittagong Diocese. This was elevated to an archdiocese in 2017.
remembrance of its fabled history, hundreds of Catholics climbed the hilly
roads of Diang this month to honor those early martyrs and missionaries by
offering flowers and lighting candles on their ancient tombs.
Nuncio Archbishop George Kocherry and Holy Cross Archbishop Moses M. Costa of
Chittagong also unveiled a new "Rosary Garden" in the shape of rosary
beads at the Marian shrine as a sign of respect.
who turned up were treated to a documentary charting the arrival of the first
Christians in Chittagong, as well as the various success stories and
tribulations of the Church over the last five centuries.
hundred years is sign of fullness, a matter of pride, joy and new inspiration
for us. This is a calling for us to be missionaries and move toward a new way
of serving the people," Archbishop Costa told ucanews.com.
prelate said a plan to build a monument to commemorate those early martyrs and
missionaries was in the process of being thought out.
massacre of the 600 Christians took place on Nov. 14, so we would like to
declare that date Martyrs Day," he said.
the afternoon of Feb. 7, thousands of people joined a candlelight Rosary prayer
procession around the hills of Diang. Devotees prayed, sang Marian songs, and
made stopovers on the road as they took time to reflect and pray.
have been making this pilgrimage for nearly 40 years, thanks in part to the
charitable and promotional efforts of Brother Flavian Laplante, a Holy Cross
missionary from Canada.
devoted himself to providing education and social services for the poor and
needy in Diang in the 1940s and set up the Marian grotto and ashram (hermitage)
in 1946 so people could flock there to pray. It was designated a shrine three
Flavian died in 1981 and was buried nearby. In 2009, he was declared a
"Servant of God," the first step toward sainthood.
Mass and interfaith gathering
Feb. 8, Archbishops Kocherry and Costa joined a number of bishops in offering a
special Holy Mass at the shrine.
we gratefully remember the martyrs of Diang and Chittagong, who shed their
blood to keep up their faith. Our faith is a legacy of their extraordinary
faith and their holy blood," Holy Cross Bishop Lawrence Subroto Howlader
of Barishal Diocese said during the homily.
a thanksgiving program featured traditional Bengali music, and dances and plays
from indigenous cultures.
Nuncio Kocherry compared Diang to Nazareth.
grew up in Nazareth and [the Christian] faith was born there, after which it
spread all over the world. Similarly, Christianity took root here in Diang
before spreading all over Bangladesh," the nuncio said.
all have a duty to propagate our faith to others," he added.
same day, Our Lady of Holy Rosary Cathedral in Chittagong hosted an interfaith
gathering featuring Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Christians.
Amzad Hossain, a Shia Muslim imam, said it was important the different
religions remembered their commonalities instead of their differences.
call the creator Allah and Christians call him God. He is the same
person," he said. "This understanding is crucial for interfaith
dialogue as we seek the way to harmony and peace."
more open to using cannabis for medical purposes, Muslim consumer group says
LUMPUR, Feb 12 — The use of imported cannabis-based products should be given a
chance and accepted for medical purposes, according to Malaysian Consumers
Association of Malaysia (PPIM) chief activist Datuk Nadzim Johan.
said the government and the parties involved should be more open to using
cannabis for medical purposes as there have been many clinical studies
conducted in medical laboratories, locally and abroad.
just that we have to look into how far the use of the products can be
controlled and at the same time to carry out more clinical research on the
plant and how it can be used as alternative medicine.
a huge loss if we refuse to make optimal use of the plant when it has been
proven effective in the treatment of various illness, including cancer and
nerve diseases,” he told Bernama when contacted here yesterday.
explained that apart from diversifying the types of medical treatments, the
cannabis-based products had also been seen capable of reducing the cost of
treatment as it was cheaper and can be cultivated commercially in line with the
existing law provisions relating to controlled plants.
are aware that the cost of treatment, especially for cancer, is very high and
burdening. So, if there is an alternative, it may help those patients. Right
now, the most acceptable alternative is the cannabis-based product, like it has
been accepted in the United States, Thailand and Mexico,” he said.
Sunday, Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye government would only consider
cannabis-based products for medical purposes when there is strong evidence to
show its efficacy and that it is safe for use.
said pharmaceutical companies and others who wish to import the drug must show
proof that it is safe and effective. — Bernama
Delhi: A report put together by a leading think tank on global security issues
has stated that the Al Qaeda is attempting to exploit the rising tensions
between Hindus and Muslims in India. In its report titled - ‘Al Qaeda In The
India Subcontinent: The Nucleus Of Jihad In South Asia’, the Soufan Centre,
which was founded by former FBI agent Ali Soufan, has said that the growing
communal divide and increased incidences of violent attacks on Muslims in India
has created an atmosphere of fear and exacerbated tensions between the two
Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) is attempting to exploit this hostility
through repeated Urdu language rhetoric in the form of propaganda pushed out on
various social media channels,” the report published in January earlier this
year stated. It also quashed the common notion that the outfit and its
affiliates only operate and thrive in conflict zones such as Yemen, Libya and
Syria. “AQIS illustrates how Al Qaeda successfully infiltrates, operates and
spreads its ideology in countries experiencing relative calm, like India. This
model may prove to be Al-Qaeda’s blueprint for the future,” the report further
report also talked about how the situation in Kashmir “has taken an
unprecedented turn”. “For the first time since the onset of conflict in
Kashmir, the region is responding to the appeal of groups like Al-Qaeda. Local
Kashmiris lead the AQIS wing in the contested territory which reflects the
growing Islamization of Kashmiri militancy.”
further, it states that Al Qaeda is making efforts to reframe the jihadi
narrative in Kashmir, which in turn will bolster its operations in India. “Since
2007, Al Qaeda has worked to delegitimize Pakistan’s role in the Kashmir
conflict through a targeted Urdu-language messaging campaign. It has repeatedly
posited Kashmir militancy as an ISI-sponsored jihad, rather than a legitimate
jihad and wants to wrest control of jihad in Kashmir from Pakistan,” the report
primary argument to the above, the report cited, was that the Pakistani regime
due to its close proximity to the United States, was an apostate un-Islamic
government, “Such a framing has helped Al-Qaeda to claim that Pakistan, and its
militant proxies focused on Kashmir, are fighting a corrupt jihad and
misappropriating critical resources that could be harnessed by Al-Qaeda toward
more effective ends,” the report said.
Soufan Centre report also mentioned a “potent faction of Hizbul Mujahideen”,
headed by Zakir Musa that has pledged its allegiance to AQIS. “Additionally,
Al-Qaeda’s ideological influence over groups lie HUJI and Jaish-e-Muhammad,
which have historically operated in Kashmir, is also strengthening its
narrative in Kashmir. This demonstrates the prospective threat posed by AQIS
through its efforts to shift both ideological terms of jihad and the source of
the conflict’s legitimacy in an effort to transform Kashmir into the centre of
gravity for jihadists in South Asia,” the report further said.
an alignment of interests between AQIS and local Kashmiri groups, the report
further stated, would transform the political struggle of Kashmiris into a
religious one and also pose a grave threat to the Indian hinterland. “India may
see a revival of the violence of the 1990s, when Kashmiri groups launched
frequent attacks,” it added.
encounter is underway in Ratnipora village of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
Officials said that two to three militants are believed to be trapped in a
house which has been encircled by the forces.
said that around mid night, army and police launched a search and cordon
operation in Ratnipora village which turned into an encounter.
spokesman has confirmed that an operation is underway in the Ratnipora village.
Mobile internet services have been suspended in the area.
leader of former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
on Monday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking the remains of
separatist Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) founder, Maqbool Bhat, and
2001 Parliament attack convict, Afzal Guru.
was hanged at Delhi’s Tihar jail on February 11, 1984, for the murder of a
policeman and his body was buried on the prison premises. Guru, too, was buried
at Tihar after his hanging at the prison on February 9, 2013.
can with utmost responsibility say that should the Government of India decide
to act upon this request [for returning the remains], the animosity of
Kashmiris and their sense of alienation can be brought down by several
notches,’’ said PDP leader and Rajya Sabha member, Fayaz Mir, in a letter to
Modi as a shutdown was observed in Kashmir on Bhat’s 35th death anniversary.
his letter, Mir cited the demands for clemency for former Prime Minister Rajiv
Gandhi’s killers. “I do not think it is appalling or disrespectful to seek the
return of mortal remains of two Kashmiri men to their families.’’
said Guru was sent to the gallows even though he was at number 28 on the list
of death row prisoners. He called his execution and the refusal to return his
body “a sore misery and a dark blemish” on the world’s largest democracy. “It
was, by all means, an unconstitutional measure and has been called out for its
huddled and secretive manner by almost all ideological groups in the country,’’
wrote Mir, whose party lost power in June 2018 after the Bharatiya Janata Party
withdrew its support to Mufti’s government.
state spooesman Altaf Thakur termed the letter as a political stunt of the PDP.
“In four and half years, the MP never raised this issue in the parliament. PDP
has done its politics always on the dead bodies and they are doing it again
Joint Resistance Leadership had called for the shutdown to mark Bhat’s death
anniversary on Monday.
administration threatens to veto any anti-Saudi resolution by Congress
Trump administration threatens to veto a bid by the United States Congress to
end the country’s military support for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition's
onslaught in Yemen.
administration claimed on Monday that the resolution was inappropriate, harming
the country’s regional relations and stated efforts to halt “violent
extremism”, according to Reuters.
administration also maintained that the military support constitutes a security
agreement with the Saudi government, which does not involve troops deployment
and therefore technically not considered a “use of military force.”
however, believes that US intervention in Yemen is an instance of use of force
in a foreign conflict, giving the body constitutional power to authorize or block
the administration’s measures.
Donald Trump ignored a Friday deadline by Congress to determine who ordered the
assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and whether he intends to
impose sanctions on Riyadh, prompting an angry backlash on Capitol Hill.
of Congress, including many of Trump's fellow Republicans as well as Democrats,
have urged a strong response to the murder of Khashoggi as well as the
Saudi-led war against Yemen, which has led to a humanitarian crisis.
group of senators from both political parties last Thursday renewed their push
to penalize the oil-rich kingdom, unveiling legislation to bar some arms sales
and impose sanctions on those responsible for Khashoggi's death.
previously gaining bipartisan support in the Republican-controlled Senate in
December, the resolution vote was blocked in the House of Representatives,
which was also dominated by Republicans.
gained House majority in January, Democrats intend to take up the resolution
US lawmaker apologises for remarks which triggered anti-Semitism row
is real, and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating
me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,” Ms. Omar, the first Somalian
American lawmaker, said Monday.
lawmaker Illhan Abdullahi Omar, one of the first two Muslim women in the US
Congress, has “unequivocally” apologised for her remarks which sparked an
anti-Semitism row and drew widespread condemnation including from President
Donald Trump who termed it a “terrible statement”.
Omar, who was elected to the House of Representatives last November, on Sunday
in a tweet questioned the financial relationship between the powerful American
Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and members of the Congress.
reacting to a Republican critic, Ms. Omar, 37, said “It’s all about the
Benjamins baby,” referring to American $100 bills featuring the likeness of
intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We
have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I
expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I
unequivocally apologise,” she said, after top Democratic leaders sought an
apology from her on her tweets.
Monday, Mr. Trump told reporters abroad Air Force One that the apology was not
think she should be ashamed of herself. I think it was a terrible statement and
I don’t think her apology was adequate,” he said.
what she should say, Mr. Trump replied, “she knows what to say”.
leaders led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described her tweets as highly
are and will always be strong supporters of Israel in Congress because we
understand that our support is based on shared values and strategic interests.
Legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies is protected by the values of free
speech and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share,” they
Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations
about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive. We condemn these remarks and we
call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologise for these hurtful
comments,” Democratic leaders said.
Dean Phillips had an impassioned, face to face conversation with Omar during
which he expressed offense to her recent anti-Semitic tropes and extended an
invitation for future discussions aimed at fostering a better understanding
between Jewish and Muslim members of Congress.
strongly condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms, including comments made by my
colleague that - purposefully or not - have propagated dangerous and
destructive stereotypes of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.
elected leaders, it is our collective responsibility to set standards of
respect and elevate understanding between the communities we represent,” he
Omar and her Democratic colleague from Minnesota were the first two Muslim
women elected to the House of Representatives during the last November mid-term
Americans and Jews, we expect our politicians to condemn bigotry, not to fuel
it. Words matter. At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise in the US and
abroad, Rep Omar is promoting the ugly, anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that
Jews have an outsized influence over politics,” said Jonathan A Greenblatt, CEO
and national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
US military conducted more airstrikes in Afghanistan last year than any other
year in the past decade, official data shows, a telltale sign that the
administration of US President Donald Trump is stepping up engagement in order
to get the upper hand in peace talks with the Taliban.
fighter jets, bombers, attack aircraft and drones dropped 7,362 weapons on
targets across Afghanistan in 2018, according to latest statistics released by
the US Air Forces Central Command.
more than the past three years combined and much higher than 2011, the second
second-highest year on record, where American aircraft dropped 5,411 weapons.
American aircraft performed 8,196 sorties in 2018, almost double the number of
those carried in 2017, according to the data. Most of the strikes were carried
out in September and November.
kills 21 civilians in Helmand province
officials confirmed late Sunday that US-led airstrikes in the southern province
of Helmand had killed at least 21 Afghan civilians on Friday night.
Hashim Alkozai, a lawmaker in the Sangin district, where the raids took place,
said at least 13 civlians were killed in one attack and right in another.
people, women and children, are the only victims of the airstrikes," he
talks with Taliban
US military officials confirmed to The New York Times last week that the US had
stepped up attacks against the Taliban to give American negotiators leverage in
direct peace talks with the group.
dramatic increase in attacks against the Taliban and the Daesh terror outfit in
Afghanistan comes after Trump’s announcement in December that he was going to
end the 17-year-long US war there.
Republican president made it clear during his 2016 campaign that he would bring
home all the roughly 14,000 US troops from the Afghanistan war, which he back
then described as a “total disaster”
2017, however, he unveiled plans to prolong the war by sending more troops to
Afghanistan, a decision that was seemingly made under the influence of then
Defense Secretary James Mattis.
that period, the Pentagon sent around 3,500 additional troops to Afghanistan
and authorized the use of the 10,000 kilogram (21,600-pound) GBU-43 Massive
Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) -- nicknamed "mother of all bombs."
a year later, Trump made another surprising U-turn by deciding to withdraw from
Afghanistan and Syria, a decision that prompted Mattis to resign.
doubled down on that decision during his State of the Union speech last week,
where he also spoke highly of ongoing peace talks with the Taliban.
Afghanistan, my administration is holding constructive talks with a number of
Afghan groups, including the Taliban," Trump said. "As we make
progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce our troop presence
and focus on counter-terrorism. We do not know whether we will achieve an
agreement -- but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to
at least try for peace."
of the US and the Taliban militant group have held several rounds of talks in
over the past weeks. The latest round was held last month, and the next round
is scheduled for February 25.
to negotiate a peace deal have been beset by disagreement in recent weeks as
leaders of the militant group reject the Kabul government’s offer for direct
this month, Taliban sidestepped Kabul by holding direct talks with powerful
Afghanistan politicians, including former President Hamid Karzai, in Moscow,
the Russian capital.
Americans agreed to withdraw half of their troops immediately. The withdrawal
will start from February 1 and continue until end of April," Abdul Salam
Hanefi, deputy head of the Taliban's political office in Qatari capital Doha,
told reporters in Moscow.
is while US negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad has repeatedly stressed that
"nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. 'Everything' must include
an intra-Afghan dialogue and comprehensive ceasefire."
this week, the Taliban threw out Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer to open
a political office in Kabul, saying the offer was aimed at “harming the peace
efforts.” The group says it is looking forward to get global recognition.
US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan met with Ghani during a surprise visit to
Kabul on Monday to "discuss a broad range of defense issues,"
according to the Pentagon.
U.S. is asking Saudi Arabia behind closed doors to hold a former top official
implicated in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi to
account, according to a report published Monday.
has thus far staunchly resisted U.S. pressure to take action against Saud
al-Qahtani over Khashoggi's Oct. 2 slaying in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul,
The Wall Street Journal reported, citing anonymous Saudi and American
previously served as the de facto right-hand man to Crown Prince Mohammed bin
Salman, a post he has since been formally removed from even as he has continued
to serve as an informal adviser to Saudi Arabia's royal court.
don’t see that Saud al-Qahtani is very constrained in his activities,” an
anonymous senior State Department official told the newspaper.
was one of 17 Saudis sanctioned by the U.S. in December over Khashoggi's
killing. Turkey is also seeking his extradition.
officials confirmed to the Journal that he remains an informal advisor to bin
Salman, the Kingdom's de facto ruler, even after he was fired by Saudi King
has continued on the U.S. administration to hold bin Salman personally
responsible for Khashoggi's killing, but it has so far resisted.
Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan met with Afghan President Ashraf
Ghani on Monday in the Afghan capital Kabul, said a Pentagon spokesperson.
a statement, Cmdr. Sean Robertson said Shanahan met Ghani at the presidential
palace to reaffirm the U.S.’s commitment to Kabul through the implementation of
President Donald Trump's South Asia strategy.
leaders discussed a broad range of defense issues, including the importance of
the U.S.-Afghanistan security relationship and of achieving a political
settlement to the war that ensures Afghanistan is never again used as a safe
haven from which terrorists can plan and launch terrorist attacks against the
United States, our interests, and our allies," said the statement.
his first visit to Afghanistan, Shanahan praised the "sacrifices made by
Afghan and Coalition troops" and reaffirmed Washington's "continued
support to Afghan forces as they lead the fight to defend their country".
meeting comes amid a renewed push for a peaceful end to the Afghan conflict.
regime forces have demolished a Palestinian house in a village in the occupied
West Bank city of Bethlehem, displacing its inhabitants of five.
Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported on Monday that dozens of heavily-armed
Israeli soldiers escorted bulldozers to the northern part of the village of
al-Walajah in Bethlehem and demolished a 100-square-meter property there.
house was owned by a Palestinian named Majdi Shweiki, and he lived there with
his family, according to local sources.
said about 180 homes in al-Walaja Village had received demolition notices from
Israeli regime authorities and that 40 of them had received demolition orders
under claims that they had been built without “building permits,” which the
Israeli regime never issues in the so-called Area C of the West Bank anyway.
C, which is under full Israeli control, makes up more than 60 percent of the
entire occupied West Bank. Eighty eight percent of the area lies in the
strategic Jordan Valley, which comprises a third of the occupied West Bank.
Israeli authorities frequently demolish Palestinian buildings and structures in
the area, with Bedouin and herding communities being particularly vulnerable to
bodies and rights groups say Israeli demolitions of Palestinian structures in
the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds are an attempt to uproot
Palestinians from their native territory and confiscate more land for the
expansion of illegal settlements.
has been occupying the West Bank, including East al-Quds, since 1967. Ever
since, it has been building settlements throughout the land, in a move
condemned by the United Nations (UN) and considered illegal under international
600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements in the West Bank and East
settler assaults journalist in Hebron
a separate report a day earlier, Ma’an said that an Israeli settler had
attacked a journalist in the southern occupied West Bank city of al-Khalil
journalist, named Issa Amr, said the attacks and assaults against locals and
internationals are a proof of the Israel’s apartheid and ethnic cleansing
policy in al-Khalil.
hate attacks in Nablus
a Palestinian official, Ma’an also said Israeli settlers had attacked
Palestinian vehicles with rocks in Huwara Town near the northern occupied West
Bank city of Nablus.
Daghlas, the Palestinian Authority (PA) official in charge of monitoring
Israeli settlement policy in the northern part of the West Bank, told the news
agency that the extremist settlers smashed the windows of several Palestinian
vehicles parked in front of Palestinian homes in the northern area of Huwara.
said that Israeli settlers had organized a protest in Nablus City, sealing off
continued settlement expansion on Palestinian territories has been a major
sticking point in Israeli-Palestinian talks, which have stalled since 2014.
President Hassan Rouhani on Monday laid historical claims to a number of
Arabian Gulf countries without naming them.
a speech marking the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Tehran,
Rouhani said: “47 years ago, which is seven years before the Islamic Revolution
during the reign of the traitor Pahlavi regime, an important part of southern
Iran separated, and we have read that geographically it was a part of Iran, and
its 14th province. That was done by Pahlavi.”
was referring to the Kingdom of Bahrain, which Iranian officials in the past
have referred to as the “14th province”. The United Nations conducted a
referendum in Bahrain in 1970, which asserted the country’s independence.
years ago, a large part of Iran was separated. In those parts, many countries
in the south of the Gulf have formed,” Rouhani said. During the speech, Rouhani
also laid claims to several areas including parts of land that are currently in
Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia.
two leading Shia parliamentary coalitions of Sairoon (Marching Towards Reform)
and al-Fatah (Conquest) have renewed their call for the withdrawal of American
forces from the Arab country.
Monday, a delegation from Sairoon bloc, led by Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada
al-Sadr, held talks with members of Fatah alliance, headed by secretary general
of the Badr Organization Hadi al-Ameri.
a press conference following the meeting, Nasser al-Rabie, the head of the
Sairoon delegation, stressed that the two political parties share a common
stance on the pullout of foreign troops from the Iraqi territory.
for his part, said that the continuation of the American forces’ presence in
Iraq is not possible in the current form and requires a new agreement.
Americans, he added, were thrown out from Iraq in 2011, but they once again
entered the country in 2014 under the pretext of fighting against the Daesh
Takfiri terrorist group.
two political alliances had a few days ago expressed their objection to the US
military presence in Iraq.
have grown in Iraq for the US exit since last December, when President Donald
Trump made an unannounced visit to al-Asad Air Base in the western Anbar
trip sparked a wave of condemnations from Iraqi political leaders, with some of
them demanding the swift expulsion of American forces.
Trump ordered to withdraw all American troops from Syria and half from
Afghanistan, but said he had no similar plans for Iraq.
US, backed by the UK, invaded Iraq in 2003 under the pretext that the former
regime of Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.
such weapons, however, were ever found in the country, and the invaders
withdrew from Iraq, after nearly nine years of a military campaign that cost
tens of thousands of Iraqi lives.
a new coalition of its allies, the US returned to Iraq in 2014, when the
Takfiri Daesh terror group unleashed a campaign of destruction in the Arab
country. Widespread reports, however, said the Washington-led operations
largely spared the terrorists and led, instead, to civilian deaths and
inflicted damage on Iraqi infrastructure.
least eight Saudi troopers have been killed when Yemeni army soldiers, backed
by fighters from allied Popular Committees, launched a surprise attack against
them in response to Riyadh’s war on their conflict-stricken country.
Yemeni military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told
Arabic-language al-Masirah television network that Yemeni soldiers and their
allies targeted the Saudi forces in the Madafin area of the kingdom’s southern
border region of Jizan, situated 966 kilometers south of the capital Riyadh, on
in the day, Saudi troops had launched a salvo of artillery rounds and mortar
shells against residential neighborhoods in the Munabbih district of Yemen’s
northwestern province of Sa’adah.
were no immediate reports about possible casualties or the extent of damage
Saudi-led military aircraft struck Sirwah district in the central Yemeni
province of Ma’rib. No reports of fatalities were immediately available though.
in the Dawran Ans district of the southeastern province of Dhamar, Saudi-led
warplanes launched four aerial assaults, though no reports of casualties were
tanks belonging to Saudi-sponsored militiamen loyal to Yemen's former president
Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi also shelled al-Monqim village in the al-Durayhimi
district of the western Yemeni province of Hudaydah. No casualties have so far
Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating military
campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing Hadi’s
government back to power and crushing Ansarullah.
to a report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a
nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has so far claimed
the lives of around 56,000 Yemenis.
Saudi-led war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure,
destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN has already said that a
record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million
threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering
from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.
Palestinians, including a police officer from Hamas resistance movement, have
been killed inside a lifeline tunnel between Egypt and the besieged Gaza Strip,
due to inhaling poisonous gas.
spokesman for the Gaza Ministry of Interior and National Security, Iyad
al-Bozum, said in a statement on Monday that 39-year-old Major Abdul Hamid
al-Akar and Sobhi Abu Qershein, 28, “suffocated to death inside the tunnel
after inhaling unknown poisonous gases.”
statement added that Palestinian civil defense teams were able to retrieve the
bodies of the two Palestinians “after a great deal of efforts that lasted
several hours,” noting that the pair had lost their lives “while trying to
rescue Palestinians who had been trapped in the tunnel.”
other security officers were rescued and taken to hospital for treatment, Bozum
statement, however, did not provide further details about the details of the
Palestinian security source, requesting anonymity, said the Egyptian military
used gas to halt the use of lifeline cross-border tunnels under the southern
sector of the Gaza Strip. The Egyptian army could not be reached for comment.
report comes as Palestinians have been holding weekly rallies on the Gaza
border to protest the 12-year siege on the enclave and reaffirm the right of
refugees to return to their homes they were forcibly expelled from during the
1948 creation of Israel.
than 250 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces ever since
anti-occupation protest rallies began in the Gaza Strip on March 30. Over
26,000 Palestinians have also sustained injuries.
Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14 last year, on the eve of the 70th
anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe), which coincided this year with
the US embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.
June 13, 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution,
sponsored by Turkey and Algeria, condemning the Israeli regime for the deaths
of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.
resolution, which had been put forward on behalf of Arab and Muslim countries,
garnered a strong majority of 120 votes in the 193-member assembly, with eight
votes against and 45 abstentions.
resolution called on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to make proposals
within 60 days “on ways and means for ensuring the safety, protection, and
well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation,”
including “recommendations regarding an international protection mechanism.”
Turkey ordered the arrest of 1,112 people over suspected links to the network
of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of orchestrating an
attempted coup in 2016, broadcaster CNN Turk reported on Tuesday.
operation was among the biggest that have been launched against alleged
supporters of Gulen since the failed putsch, in which 250 people were killed.
Gulen, a former ally of President Tayyip Erdogan, has denied involvement in the
Turk said the operation was centered on the capital, Ankara, but was spread
across 76 provinces. No further details were immediately available.
than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial since the coup attempt and
widespread arrests are still routine. Authorities have suspended or sacked
150,000 civil servants and military personnel.
adapting into a covert threat beyond Iraq and Syria
commanders are changing their tactics and the group remains the biggest
terrorist threat facing the world despite losing its main bases in Iraq and
Syria, a UN investigator warned on Monday.
Coninsx, assistant secretary general in charge of counter-terrorism, said there
was evidence of the insurgents finding new ways to raise money. She also said
that despite a reverse in the Middle East, its global intent and network had
remarks to the UN Security Council come as US-backed fighters in Syria try to
clear ISIS fighters from Baghouz, the last pocket of land under the terror
group's control in the north of the country.
change in circumstances has forced ISIS to adapt and transform itself into a
covert, more locally-focused network in Iraq, yet ISIS has retained its global
intent and global networks,” she said.
all international terrorist organisations it remains the most likely to carry
out a large-scale complex attack... and it continues its determination to
undermine stabilisation efforts and to fuel sectarian tensions.”
the council on the UN secretary general's eighth report on ISIS, she said the
insurgents were using mobile payment systems to raise money in West Africa and
outlined concerns about blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies of becoming
new channels for terrorist financing.
report to the council coincides with widespread concern about US President
Donald Trump's decision to withdraw American troops from Syria. He said on
Friday that all of ISIS's one-time caliphate would probably be back under
sovereign control by the end of this week. Numerous officials have said ISIS
fighters may simply have retreated temporarily and will be able to regroup as
soon as coalition forces are no longer present to disrupt their operations.
UN's latest report said the danger posed to the international community had
increased partly because of foreign terrorist fighters returning to their home
countries. ISIS remains active because of its residual efforts in finance,
logistics, military intelligence, security, doctrine and media propaganda. And
while fighters have left Syria some have simply moved into Iraq and are helping
is in a phase of transition, adaptation and consolidation,” the report said of
the group. “It is organising cells at the provincial level, replicating key
at Monday's meeting of the Security Council, British ambassador Jonathan Allen
said ISIS was “still the most significant terrorist threat to the UK”.
retain their leadership and capacity to inspire and encourage others to do
great harm,” he added.
parliament has put a rush on voting on proposed constitutional amendments that
would allow President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi to stay in office well beyond his
current term, which ends in 2022.
vote was initially scheduled for next week, but is now being held as early as
Wednesday, lawmaker Nadia Henry said Monday.
development comes despite concerns that Egypt is slipping back into
authoritarianism, eight years after a pro-democracy uprising ended autocrat
Hosni Mubarak’s nearly three-decade rule.
led the 2013 military overthrow of elected but divisive Islamist President
Mohammed Morsi, and was elected the following year.
approved by lawmakers, the constitutional amendments would have to be put to a
national referendum, Parliament spokesman Ahmed Saad el-Din said Sunday.
596-seat assembly had given its preliminary approval to the changes last week.
The motion is near-certain to be approved by the legislature, packed with
amendments also include novelties: the office of vice president, a revived
Senate, and a 25 percent quota for women in Parliament. It also calls for
“adequate” representation for workers, farmers, young people and people with
special needs in the legislature.
president would have the power to appoint top judges and bypass judiciary
oversight in vetting draft legislation before it is voted into law.
amendments are no surprise; pro-government figures and media have been lobbying
for months that two terms are not enough for el-Sisi to fulfil his vision of
modernizing the country, including overhauling its economy and defeating
Rizq, chairman of the state-owned al-Akhbar daily and a close confidant of
el-Sisi, argued that the amendments were necessary to prevent extremist from
gaining power. He said he expects the referendum to take place before the
Muslim holy month of Ramadan when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. This
year, Ramdan is expected to start in early May.
foreign minister Amr Moussa on Saturday called for “a wide national dialogue”
on the amendments. Moussa, who also served as Arab League secretary-general,
had chaired the panel that drafted Egypt’s current constitution in 2014.
United States is likely just weeks away from starting the withdrawal of ground troops
from Syria ordered by President Donald Trump, the top US commander overseeing
American forces in the Middle East said on Sunday.
Army General Joseph Votel, head of the US Central Command, cautioned that the
exact timing would depend on the situation in Syria, where US-backed fighters
have launched a final assault against ISIS enclaves near the Iraqi border.
US military has already started withdrawing equipment from Syria. Asked whether
the withdrawal of America’s more than 2,000 troops would begin in days or
weeks, Votel said: “Probably weeks. But again, it will all be driven by the
situation on the ground.”
terms of the withdrawal ... I think we’re right on track with where we wanted
to be,” Votel told reporters traveling with him during a trip to the Middle
people is easier than moving equipment and so what we’re trying to do right now
is again kind of clear out those materials, that equipment that we do not
surprise announcement in December that he was withdrawing American troops from
Syria helped trigger the resignation of his defense secretary, Jim Mattis, and
sent US military officials scrambling to construct a withdrawal plan that
preserves as many gains as possible.
of additional troops have been sent to Syria to facilitate the withdrawal.
officials have long estimated that the Syria pullout could take until sometime
in March or April to execute fully, but have been reluctant to set an exact
timeline given hard-to-predict battlefield conditions.
did not speculate about when the drawdown would be completed.
big question has been whether some US forces in Syria might move to neighboring
Iraq, where the US has more than 5,000 troops helping Baghdad fight ISIS and
prevent the group’s resurgence.
said he did not believe the US would broadly increase overall troop numbers in
Iraq. He did leave open the possibility of changing the composition of forces
to help the US keep pressure on the extremist group.
to future US troop levels in Iraq, Votel said: “I think it’s going to remain
more or less steady.”
isn’t just wholesale -- ‘Everybody in Syria move over to Iraq.’ That doesn’t
make sense,” Votel said.
is one of many current and former US officials who have warned of the risk of a
resurgence by ISIS unless the US and its allies can keep pressure on the group
following the US withdrawal. They say ISIS still has enough leaders, fighters,
facilitators and financial resources to fuel a menacing insurgency.
a clear US plan on how to keep up the pressure has yet to be articulated. It is
also unclear whether the US will be able to satisfy the security concerns in
Syria of its NATO ally Turkey without sacrificing the interests of US-backed
Kurdish fighters there.
sees the Kurdish militia as terrorists.
views the Kurdish militia as loyal partners in the fight against ISIS, whose
help will likely continue to be needed to prevent the group’s resurgence.
Pentagon’s own internal watchdog released a report last week warning about the
risks still posed by ISIS. It cautioned that, absent sustained pressure, the
group would likely resurge in Syria within six to 12 months and retake some
two dozen civilians have been killed when the US-led coalition purportedly
fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group conducted a series of airstrikes in
Syria’s embattled eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr.
sources told Syria’s official news agency SANA that the aerial attack hit
Baghouz town in the province on Monday, leaving four people dead.
later, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that 16
civilians, including seven children, lost their lives when US-led coalition
warplanes pounded areas on the eastern bank of the Euphrates.
developments came only two days after US-led military aircraft bombarded
al-Tayyaneh town in the same Syrian province, leaving three people dead and
several others injured.
aerial assaults damaged some private and public property in the targeted area
US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes and operations against what are
said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any
authorization from the Damascus government or a United Nations mandate.
military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing
civilians. It has also been largely incapable of achieving its declared goal of
has on numerous occasions condemned airstrikes by the US-led coalition, asking
the UN to force Washington and its allies to put an end to their military
intervention in the Arab country.
January 19, the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, in two
separate letters addressed to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the
former rotating president of the Security Council, Francisco Antonio
Cortorreal, censured US-led coalition strikes conducted against al-Baghuz
al-Tahtani village in Dayr al-Zawr a day earlier, saying the US-led warplanes
had targeted dozens of families fleeing from areas controlled by Daesh.
sources, requesting anonymity, told SANA that 20 people were killed in the raid
when US-led warplanes bombarded residential buildings in al-Baghuz al-Tahtani.
new crime is in line with the criminal acts that the US-led coalition is
perpetrating systematically and on a daily basis against Syrian people, and in
flagrant violation of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said the
activities of this alliance are illegal as it has been formed outside the UN
framework. Such acts have only contributed to the expansion of extremist
terrorist organizations, especially Daesh. Cooperation and coordination between
these terrorist groups and this alliance has been documented in numerous
letters that [the] Syrian Arab Republic has sent to the Security Council,”
added the letters.
ministry also called on the UN Security Council to shoulder its
responsibilities regarding the establishment of international peace and
security, and put an immediate halt to crimes against humanity that were being
carried out by this “rogue” coalition against Syrian civilians and
BAGHOUZ: US-led coalition air strikes on the last Daesh pocket in Syria on
Monday killed 16 civilians, including at least seven children, a war monitor
women and one elderly man were also among the civilians killed while trying to
flee towards the Iraqi border, said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the
Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
coalition was not immediately available for comment, but has repeatedly said it
does its utmost to avoid targeting civilians.
Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) backed by artillery fire from a
US-led coalition continued to battle a fierce extremist fightback Monday.
black clouds rose over the embattled extremist holdout in eastern Syria, as
missiles and a warplane streaked through the sky.
than four years after the extremists declared a “caliphate” across large parts
of Syria and neighboring Iraq, several offensives have whittled that
proto-state down to a tiny holdout.
SDF on Saturday announced the final push to expel hundreds of diehard
extremists from that patch on the Iraq border.
US-led coalition maintained a steady beat of bombings on the last Daesh pocket
on Monday after an early morning Daesh counterattack caused several SDF
launched a counterattack on our forces and we are now responding with rockets,
air strikes and direct clashes,” SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali told AFP.
sound of bombs echoed dozens of kilometers away and columns of dark grey smoke
could be seen from SDF territory.
said there were “dozens of SDF hostages held by IS” inside their last foothold,
but denied reports of executions.
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said the alliance
of Kurdish and Arab fighters had pressed on Monday morning in the face of tough
SDF are advancing slowly in what remains of the IS pocket” on the edges of the
village of Baghouz, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
land mines, Daesh snipers, and tunnels the extremists have dug out for their
defense are hindering the advance, he said.
by coalition air strikes, the SDF alliance has been battling to oust the
extremists from the eastern province of Deir Ezzor since September.
December, tens of thousands of people, most women and children related to Daesh
fighters, have fled to SDF territory.
forces have screened the new arrivals, weeding out potential extremists for
Monday, dozens of coalition and SDF fighters were stationed at a screening
point for new arrivals from Daesh areas.
forces stood over about 20 men who were crouching on the ground.
600 people were able to reach SDF territory on Sunday after fleeing the
fighting, the Observatory said.
them, were 20 suspected IS members, including two French women, seven Turks,
and three Ukrainians, said the monitor, which relies on sources inside Syria.
SDF — which has said it expects the final offensive to be over in days —
announced Sunday that it had taken some 40 positions from the extremists
following direct combat involving light weapons.
Israeli tank artillery hit a demolished hospital and an observation post in
Syria’s southern Quneitra province near the border with Israel, Syrian state
media said on Monday, adding there had been only material damage.
two sites were hit by several tank artillery rounds, state media reported.
about the reported Quneitra strikes, an Israeli military spokeswoman declined
has mounted attacks in Syria as part of its effort to counter the influence
carved out there by Iran, which has supported Syrian President Bashar Assad in
the war that erupted in 2011.
senior Israeli official said in September Israel had carried out more than 200
attacks against Iranian targets in Syria in the last two years
Soviet authorities themselves condemned the USSR’s bloody occupation of
Afghanistan, but 30 years later some in Vladimir Putin’s Russia are coming to
see the operation in a more positive light.
a decade of military intervention to bolster Kabul’s embattled Communist government
against militant fighters, the USSR finally pulled out its last units on
February 15, 1989.
withdrawal, ordered by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, was a humiliating
defeat for the Union and helped lead to its collapse.
Kozhukhov, who covered the conflict as a correspondent for the Komsomolskaya
Pravda newspaper, remembered how the final Russian troops left without joy or
soldiers were dreaming only of one thing: getting home safe and sound,”
Kozhukhov, now 62, told AFP.
reporter remembered crossing the “Friendship Bridge” across the Amu Darya river
separating Afghanistan from then-Soviet Uzbekistan in the second-last armored
vehicle of the last Soviet convoy, flying red flags.
of the armored vehicles carried the body of 20-year-old Igor Lyakhovich, who
was killed a day earlier and is officially the last of more than 14,000 Soviet
war dead in a conflict that killed more than one million Afghans.
the route you could see the ‘ghosts’ who had come down from the mountains to
watch our retreat from a distance,” said Kozhukhov, using a Russian term for
elusive Afghan partisans.
eyes of the inhabitants of the snowy village were full of hate or spite because
they were being left to the mercy of fate,” Kozhukhov said.
journalist, who briefly served as Putin’s press secretary in 1999 and 2000,
says that “the intervention in Afghanistan was always a tragic and senseless
intervention was extremely unpopular with the Soviet public and was officially condemned
in 1989 at the height of Gorbachev’s policy of “glasnost,” or transparency.
this judgment is now being reassessed, under pressure from veterans.
in 2015 appeared to back the intervention, saying that the Soviet leadership
was trying to confront “real threats” even though he acknowledged “there were
late January, Russia’s parliamentary defense committee backed a draft
resolution saying that “the moral and political condemnation of the decision to
send in Soviet troops” was “against the principles of historical justice.”
Soviet troops helped the Afghan authorities fight “terrorist and extremist
groups” and curbed the growing security threat facing the USSR, the draft
draft resolution, however, has yet to be voted on in full session, reflecting
the authorities’ reluctance formally to revisit this traumatic episode.
Irina Shcherbakova of Memorial rights group says that amid heightened tensions
with Western powers in recent years, “Russia is reviving its Soviet past to
justify its new opposition to the West.”
political analyst Pyotr Akopov from pro-Kremlin site Vzglyad, “the
ex-combatants and the whole of Russian society need vindication for this war.”
have nothing to apologize for, we didn’t use napalm... and we even managed to
leave Afghanistan with our supporters replacing us, which the Americans have
never managed to do.”
Kovalyov, president of the association of ex-combatants for the CIS region
including most ex-Soviet countries, insists the invasion of Afghanistan was
justified and says Gorbachev “betrayed all the dead” by condemning it.
our troops, the Americans would have installed their missiles to target
Moscow,” he said.
was right to finish this war but we should have kept on supporting Kabul with
the necessary arms for it to resist,” said Kovalyov, who served as a deputy
commander in charge of political indoctrination of an army regiment sent in to
secure the withdrawal.
Volkov went to Afghanistan in late 1981 as a conscript at the age of 17, full
of enthusiasm after following Soviet media reports.
was responsible for radio communications, taking part in 70 missions and was
decorated for intercepting correspondence between the Mujahideen.
in 1983 in good physical health, he says the war haunted his dreams for 15
was ordained as a Russian Orthodox priest and is now Father Konstantin. At his
church in a village outside Moscow, around 30 of his fellow “Afghans” (Soviet
veterans) gather every February 15.
suggest to my former comrades that they express penitence and don’t think any
more about what happened in that war,” he told AFP.
A Russian court on Monday jailed two members of the Daesh group for 15 years
for planning attacks on a mall and public transport in Moscow, news agencies
Makhmudov and Zafarkhon Rakhmatov from Muslim-majority Tajikistan will serve
their sentences in a “strict regime camp,” a court statement said.
FSB security service arrested the duo in December 2017, accusing them of
planning suicide bombings over the New Year and during a forthcoming
presidential election campaign.
pair pleaded guilty, the RIA Novosti news agency said.
2,900 Russian extremists, mainly from Muslim-majority republics in the south of
the federation, have fought in Iraq and Syria, according the FSB.
thousand others from ex-Soviet Central Asian countries are also believed to
have fought in conflicts there.
Russia takes on an increasingly active role in the Middle East, it appears to
have found a new intractable goal to tackle: brokering Palestinian unity.
is hosting three days of talks between Palestinian political factions starting
on Monday, with the aim of giving the groups an opportunity to discuss
obstacles to “restoring unity in the Palestinian ranks”.
Foreign Ministry specifically named the main Palestinian groups, Fatah and
Hamas, in their statement confirming the meetings which began on Monday. The
two factions have been at odds since 2007 when Hamas violently wrested control
of the Gaza Strip.
says the Palestinian Authority, which is run by Fatah, should pay the salaries
of public servants in the Gaza Strip who were appointed after the rift.
Meanwhile, Fatah insists that Hamas dissolve its military wing, saying that the
Palestinian Authority can legitimately bear arms.
venue for the talks is the Institute of Oriental Studies, where Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas was a doctoral student. KGB documents made public in
2016 suggest that Mr Abbas may have been recruited as Soviet agent during his
stint in Moscow, but the Palestinians deny this, calling it an Israeli smear.
rival, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was due to visit Moscow in January, but his
visit was postponed just days in advance. This time around, the participation
of the main groups including Islamic Jihad was confirmed by the Palestinian
Embassy in Russia on Monday.
embassy spokesperson added that the Palestinian delegates would be received by
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday. According to Palestinian
state-run media, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov met briefly
with Fatah officials before the talks began.
hosting the conference, Russia’s ability to bring the sides together is
limited, observers say, adding that the factions invited to the talks have
their own reasons for participating.
Al-Omari, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute, says both Fatah and
Hamas, the only participants with real clout, are coming to Moscow for tactical
reasons and have no intention of making any substantive moves.
which craves international recognition, will argue to its public that its
presence in Moscow shows that it is no longer isolated,” Mr Al-Omari told The
National. “For Fatah, participating in the talks will allow it to argue to its
public that it is engaged in reconciliation.”
much will be achieved in the coming three days,” he added.
talks in Moscow come just one week after the Kremlin hosted representatives
from the Taliban and opposition Afghan officials. On Thursday, Russian
President Vladimir Putin will host his Iranian and Turkish counterparts as part
of efforts to bring about a resolution to the conflict in Syria.
Russia, which has played an increasingly dominant role in the Middle East in
recent years, hosting talks on Palestinian unity is another opportunity to
showcase its ability to speak to both sides of any conflict, analysts said.
wants to demonstrate again and again that it can negotiate with everyone,” said
Anton Mardasov, a Russian Middle East analyst. “Today, with Israel, tomorrow
with Hamas, the day after, with Egypt and Qatar.”
Mardasov said Russia may be shoring up its position with Palestinian leaders in
advance of the US plans to unveil its strategy to end the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict. US President Donald Trump is reportedly planning on announcing his
“deal of the century” after Israeli elections in April.
has repeatedly said it is prepared to host Israeli-Palestinian talks. And Mr
Abbas, who most recently visited Moscow in July last year, told Russian
state-run media in February that he is prepared to meet with Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in talks brokered by Russia.
talking here about the fact that the United States cannot be the only
mediator,” he said. “We trust President Putin, and we're ready to accept his
invitation at any time.”
NATO Defense Ministers will review the alliance’s operations in Afghanistan,
Kosovo, Iraq and at sea during the defense ministerial which will be held on
13th and 14th of February.
NATO official said “The Ministerial will begin with a session focused on the
Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Allies will have an opportunity to
exchange views and provide guidance on the implications of Russia’s breach of
the INF Treaty. All Allies agree that Russia’s violation of the treaty erodes
the foundation of arms control and undermines Allied security. Allies will then
discuss efforts to strengthen the Alliance’s defence and deterrence.”
official further added that “The focus will be on NATO’s readiness initiative,
which requires Allies to have 30 land battalions, 30 air squadrons and 30
combat vessels ready to use within 30 days. Ministers will also discuss efforts
to address security challenges from the South.
SACEUR and SACT will provide updates on these subjects, including work
to adapt the NATO command structure.”
official also added that the ministers will review NATO operations in
Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq and at sea on 14th of February.
Ministerial will end with a session with the European Union and Finland and
Sweden for talks on European defence initiatives and NATO-EU cooperation” the
official said adding that “With respect to Afghanistan, the NATO Defence
Ministers will review the current situation and exchange views on how best to
continue supporting the further development and sustainment of the Afghan
security forces and current efforts to move forward an Afghan-led and
Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process.”
countries continue to prioritise economic interests over the rights and lives
of the Rohingya-Muslim minority facing an ongoing genocide in Myanmar,
activists and other attendees at an historic international conference in New
York have told Middle East Eye.
on Saturday on the sidelines of the event at Barnard College, Rohingya
activists, responding to the latest round of Saudi deportations of Rohingya as
reported by MEE on Friday, said leaders of Muslim-majority countries had not
demonstrated a political will to help put a stop to the persecution of the
week's deportations follow the repatriation of 13 Rohingya from Riyadh to Dhaka
deported were subsequently imprisoned in Bangladesh, drawing the ire of Amnesty
International and the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee
Lee. In a press briefing last month, Lee urged the governments of India and
Saudi Arabia - both of whom have deported Rohingya to Bangladesh in recent
months - to refrain from doing so.
Tinmaung, a Rohingya activist based in Canada, said that he could not
understand why the kingdom would return a dozen persecuted, oppressed
individuals to Bangladesh.
difference does it make to keep a dozen more people in your country? But then
what can I expect from a country like Saudi Arabia that murders its own people,
and is currently killing children in Yemen,” the 37-year-old Tinmaung told MEE.
have to accept that dollars are a lot more important than concern for the
so-called Muslim world.”
by the Free Rohingya Coalition, “The international conference on protection and
accountability in Burma,” primarily focused on the question of justice and the
prospects of accountability, after Myanmar's military-led offensive in
northwestern Rakhine state left thousands dead and uprooted almost a million
Rohingya in 2017.
two-day conference, attended by activists, scholars and legal experts, also saw
prominent messages of solidarity and support from Lee, the UN Special Reporteur
on human rights, and US civil rights activist Angela Davis.
said in a pre-recorded video message that the continued deportations from Saudi
Arabia and India demonstrated the “internationalization of the Rohingya issue”.
Arabia recently deported 13 Rohingya to Bangladesh, where they have been
arrested and charged with forging the passports that they used to travel to
Saudi. Bangladesh authorities must remember that this group also fled
persecution in Myanmar,” she said.
Packer, director of Human Rights Research and Education Centre (HRREC) at the
University of Ottawa, said it was important to remember that Saudi Arabia's
decision to deport Rohingya was something new. Estimates vary, but the Saudi
government says there are currently around 300,000 Rohingya in the
Saudis for the longest time, allowed these people to stay. So that is an
important, factual part," Packer told MEE.
we talk about Bangladesh with more than a million Rohingya , but we forget that
for a long time, the most [outside Myanmar] were in Saudi Arabia. This turn of
heart is recent. So something has happened.
think the Saudi government is rattled right now, and they seem to be going
Crisp, former head of the UNHCR’s Policy Development and Evaluation Service,
told MEE that for the Saudi kingdom to send refugees back to Bangladesh, which
is already dealing with more than a million refugees, was terribly unfair.
Arabia has a history of expelling people when they have run out of uses for
them,” Crisp said.
of the indignity’
Ullah, a student and activist based in Montreal, told MEE that though there
have been some efforts from Turkey, Malaysia, and to some extent Qatar, the
community did not hold much expectation from the “dictatorial Muslim regimes”.
uncle died in Saudi Arabia some years ago, because he was stateless and could
not receive proper health care. He was suffering from a mental problem... he
died chained to a pole,” the 26-year-old, who moved across to Canada as a
refugee in 2011, said. She described her uncles death “as the extent of the
countries have a responsibility. But their track record doesn’t suggest that
they care,” she added.
governments of Muslim-majority nations have been repeatedly accused of being
soft on Myanmar over their treatment of the Rohingya.
of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) admitted as much in October,
expressing regret and promising to adopt a stronger stance on the matter.
Turkey and Malaysia have offered and provided a large amount of aid to the
Rohingya, the Maldives remains the only Muslim-majority country to have severed
trade ties with Myanmar following the events of 2017.
from the University of Ottawa, said that some OIC countries were less mobilised
than others because of pressure from China.
is interested in this issue, so is Malaysia, because of the interest and
sentiment on the street, but there is a difference when it comes to their
governmental stances because certainly they have investments,” Packer said.
the activist from Canada, said that where Muslim governments have been mostly
slow or hesitant to respond, given the economic investments in Myanmar, Muslim
publics around the world have been sympathetic and helpful.
Friday, MEE published footage showing Rohingya men being transported to Jeddah
airport for deportation to Bangladesh.
Rohingya who remain jailed in Saudi Arabia are on a variety of South Asian
passports, which have often been forged.
Chief Executive of the Government of National Unity Abdullah Abdullah has said
the main reason behind the ongoing conflict is the ‘stubbornness’ of Taliban
during the meeting of Council of Ministers, Abdullah said the steps which they
(Taliban) have taken are for publicity and concessions, not for goodwill or for
that compromises are needed to pave the way for further peace talks, Abdullah
said it would be impossible to insist on one’s own demands and expect peace as
further added that peace requires sacrifice but not to sacrifice the wishes of
people, emphasizing that Afghanistan belongs to all Afghans and everyone has
the right to have dignified peaceful lives and achieve their demands in a
peaceful way and through political campaigns, insisting that it would not be
important that the wishes of certain groups are accepted by all Afghans as this
will be tested and will be proved that the Afghan people want, whether they
will choose an oppressive past, demand the current situation or want a better
the meantime, he warned that with domestic unity it would not be efficient to
move towards peace.
refugees recently displaced by fighting between Myanmar’s military and
insurgents face hard times in a remote Bangladeshi village and at the border
between the countries.
200 Buddhists from Chin and Rakhine states crossed the border into Bandarban
district in southeastern Bangladesh on Feb. 4-5 and hundreds gathered at the
border before Bangladeshi guards sealed it off.
fled their homes to escape violence amid an escalation in fighting between the
Arakan Army, an ethnic Rakhine insurgent group, and the military in recent
are about 200 people in 37 families in Cheih Kaying Para (village) and all them
are Buddhists from Myanmar. They are suffering from a shortage of food and
clothes in the cold weather of late winter,” Aung Thoai Ching Marma, an ethnic
Marma and chairman of Ruma subdistrict council in Bandarban, told ucanews.com.
is part of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) and one of three hilly and forested
districts bordering Myanmar. The CHT is home to about 25 Buddhist-majority
ethnic indigenous groups.
refugees hail from ethnic Chin, Khumi and Rakhine groups, Marma said.
the area is remote and often unreachable by phone, it is difficult to know what
is exactly going on. Some local people are supporting them with food and
clothes, which is insufficient,” he said.
local government has not made any decision regarding assistance for the
refugees, Marma added.
Daudul Islam, chief government officer of Bandarban district, says he is aware
of the new arrivals.
far as we know, displaced Myanmar nationals are staying at the zero line of the
border. The border guards have asked them to go back to their home. The
government has no plan for them. If we can confirm arrival of refugees, we will
see what to do about them,” Islam told ucanews.com.
United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has appealed to Bangladesh’s government
to allow Myanmar refugees in and support them.
is aware of reports of escalating violence and a deteriorating security
situation in southern Chin State and Rakhine State. This has reportedly led to
internal displacement and a number of new arrivals from Myanmar seeking safety
in the Bandarban border region of Bangladesh,” UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic
told a press briefing in Geneva on Feb. 8.
is deeply concerned about the humanitarian impact of continuing violence in
Myanmar and the potential for both further internal displacement and the
outflow of refugees, he said.
part of inter-agency efforts, UNHCR stands ready to support the humanitarian
response in the affected areas in Myanmar. UNHCR has also offered its support
to the government of Bangladesh to assess and respond to the needs of people
who have arrived seeking safety from violence in Myanmar,” Mahecic added.
Cox’s Bazar district is home to more than one million ethnic Rohingya Muslim
refugees from Rakhine State.
Rohingya fled to Bangladesh to escape deadly military crackdowns in Rakhine in
2016 and 2017 following Rohingya militant attacks on Myanmar security forces.
BAZAR, Bangladesh (AFP) - Bangladesh security forces stopped 22 Rohingya
Muslims from being smuggled to Malaysia by boat, officials said on Monday (Feb
11), the second group in three days prevented from leaving squalid refugee
Guard Bangladesh (BGB) forces found 11 women, 10 children and a man at a
village on the Bay of Bengal coast, near the border with Myanmar, on Sunday.
22 had paid traffickers up to US$1,200 (S$1,630) each to get a place on a small
boat for the dangerous journey, a BGB officer said. The people smugglers fled
before security forces arrived.
740,000 of the Muslim minority fled Myanmar for Bangladesh after a military clampdown
in the Buddhist-majority nation in August 2017.
were already 300,000 Rohingya already in Bangladesh where they are largely
confined to the overflowing camps.
traffickers took whatever they could from the refugees," Lieutenant
Colonel Asadud Zaman Chowdhury, BGB chief for the town of Teknaf, told AFP.
added that it was possible many of the young women would have ended up in
is the fourth time since November that Rohingya have been intercepted
attempting to get a boat to Muslim-majority Malaysia.
Friday, border guards stopped 30 Rohingya from boarding a boat and sent them
back to their camps.
fear that more Rohingya will try to take boats to Malaysia while the Bay of
Bengal is calm up until the end of March.
refugee commissioner Mohammad Abul Kalam said "an internationally
organised racket" was preying on desperation in the Rohingya camps.
refugees are lured by false promises. They simply don't have any idea how
dangerous these sea journeys can be," he told AFP.
member of the Red Unit of Taliban was killed along with several others during
the operations in Badghis and Uruzgan provinces.
to the informed military sources, several other militants were also wounded
during the same operations.
sources further added Afghan Special Forces conducted a raid in Badghis
province killing 10 Taliban fighters and wounding 17 others.
Taliban Red Unit militant and 12 other Taliban fighters were killed by multiple
airstrikes in Tarin Kot city of Uruzgan province, the sources added.
party leaders face corruption probe in Malaysia
spending by Islamist leaders in Malaysia has come under the spotlight and
authorities want them to explain the source of their wealth.
have been opened by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission following
disclosures that Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) leaders had purchased luxury
vehicles including a Range Rover, Audi A6, Toyota Vellfire, BMW motorcycle and
a Mercedes-Benz among others.
probe comes on the heels of an out-of-court settlement on Feb. 2 in Britain
between PAS leader Abdul Hadi Awang and blogger Clare Rewcastle-Brown of
Sarawak Report over corruption allegations.
had sued Rewcastle-Brown for defamation in 2017 after she wrote that PAS
leaders received 90 million ringgit (US$22 million) from former premier Najib
Razak in exchange for the party’s support in the last general election.
settlement triggered calls in Malaysia for authorities to investigate the
purchase of costly foreign-made vehicles and property.
senior PAS leader Nasharuddin Mat Isa and Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz, a
young, firebrand leader in the party, had their statements recorded on Feb. 8
and at least eight more PAS leaders are expected to be questioned.
purported audio recording, confirmed as genuine by Hadi Awang in his suit, of
Nik Abduh telling PAS colleagues that millions of ringgit had indeed passed
from Najib’s United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) to PAS was used by
Sarawak Report in its defense.
claiming to have witnessed Nik Abduh utter the remarks have since come forward
with their testimonies on social media.
Abduh has denied taking bribes from UMNO and urged those spreading the audio
clip to repent.
PAS central leader Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali also dismissed the recording,
saying that many people sound like PAS leaders.
a damage limitation exercise, PAS leader Hadi Awang told the media at a hastily
called press conference that the party's funds came from having over a million
members, thousands of kindergartens and hundreds of schools.
don't be confused about where PAS gets its money from," he said in Marang,
Terengganu, adding that the party would cooperate with investigators to clear
deputy chief minister of Kelantan state, Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah, dismissed the
allegations of corruption. Kelantan and Terengganu state are ruled by the
conservative Islamic party.
accusations at the High Court in London are 100 percent untrue and owe more to
hearsay. I have bought cars but only those that are within my means. Surely a
deputy menteri besar (chief minister) can buy a car priced more than 100,000
ringgit," he was quoted as saying by local media.
former premier Najib, who is due to stand trial on the first of a series of
corruption and money-laundering charges this week, has denied paying PAS the
Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) made good sense in its suggestion that
the Philippine government synchronize its peace agreements with the two Muslim
rebel groups in Mindanao under a single, coherent plan for enduring peace in
policy of following separate tracks in forging peace with the Moro National
Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is a gross
mistake, as amply demonstrated when turmoil and confusion surrounded the
holding of a plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL). Pursuing separate
deals with the two groups is likely to harvest only false hopes for peace.
question now is how the nation can move forward with Mindanao stuck in fresh
tension and uncertainty. The situation cannot be resolved with fanciful
pronouncements by the Commission on Elections and politicians about success in
the BOL plebiscite.
important constitutional question about the BOL still has to be resolved by the
OIC has valid ground to voice its opinion because it played a mediating role in
the forging of the 1996 GRP-MNLF peace agreement that led to the establishment
of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) during the time of President
Fidel V. Ramos.
with MNLF leaders, the OIC maintains that the 1996 agreement has not been fully
implemented in accordance with its letter and spirit.
government and the MNLF were working on the conclusion of the final
implementation of the 1996 agreement when the administration of former
president Benigno S. Aquino 3rd acceded to office. Mr. Aquino decided to
abandon the agreement in 2013 and opted to pursue a separate peace agreement
with the MILF, with Malaysia brokering the talks.
the Aquino initiative wound up with its own peace agreement in Mindanao, it
resulted in more questions than answers. And it produced such tragedies as the
Mamasapano Massacre, among others.
share the view of experts and seasoned negotiators that the Philippine
government should forge one peace agreement with Muslim groups as one community
for peace and stability to hold, and in order to conform with the strict
guidelines of the Philippine Constitution.
the pact with the MILF cannot stand alone as a fig leaf for peace in Mindanao.
is indubitably correct now to seek the synchronization or unification of the
1996 peace accord with the MNLF and the Bangsamoro deal with the MILF under a
common pact that can endure.
linking the two peace accords, the two Muslim groups and the government can
work toward establishing real and lasting peace in Mindanao.
indicating his desire to talk with the MNLF, President Rodrigo Duterte will
open the door for fruitful negotiations and synchronization.
by focusing future talks on the resolution of the remaining issues in the two
peace agreements, the level of statecraft in Mindanao peacemaking can be
advanced to a higher level.
year, in the run-up to Indonesiaʹs
2019 presidential election there was another high profile blasphemy conviction,
when Meiliana, a Buddhist woman of Chinese heritage, was sentenced to eighteen
jail for complaining about the volume of the mosque loudspeakers in her neighbourhood
in North Sumatra. Her High Court appeal was rejected in October 2018.
all began in July 2016 when Meiliana complained to the one of her neighbours
that the mosqueʹs
speakers used for the adzan (call to prayer) were too loud. At first the village leader
complaint as an issue that was appropriate to be resolved through mediation.
Although some people said that Meiliana had blasphemed, according to her
lawyer, Ranto Sibarani, the caretaker of the mosque had forgiven Meiliana for this.
a rumour spread in her neighbourhood that Meiliana wanted adzan to be banned
altogether. This rumour provoked public anger and in the week that followed
vigilantes burned down numerous Buddhist temples. Eight rioters were arrested
and convicted, receiving jail terms of one to four months.After investigating
the riot, the local police described Meiliana as the provocateur and formally
accused her of blasphemy. However, in August 2016 the director of the Criminal
Investigation Agency of the Indonesian National Police (Bareskrim Polri) stated
request that the volume of the mosqueʹs
loudspeakers be reduced did not amount to blasphemy. As a consequence, six
months after Meiliana complained about the noise from the mosque, the police were
yet to lay a charge for blasphemy.
the same period, a series of mass rallies in Jakarta were organised by a
vigilante group, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), along with Ahokʹs political opponents to pressure the police to declare
Ahok a blasphemy suspect.This inspired the Alliance of the Students and
Independent Communities (Aliansi Mahasiswa dan Masyarakat Independent Bersatu)
in North Sumatra to request a fatwa from the Indonesian Council of Islamic
Scholars (MUI) of Tanjungbalai region in early January 2017, stating that
Meiliana has insulted Islam.
MUI is a quasi-state organisation that is responsible for producing religious
opinions which serve as the main reference when police name blasphemy suspects.
At this time, the MUI still did not issue a fatwa. However, the North Sumatra
branch of Indonesiaʹs
second-largest Islamic organisation, Muhammadiyah, did release a statement
attributing Meliana with responsibility for provoking the riot.
mid-January 2017, the leader of the FPI Rizieq Shihab visited Medan, the
capital of North Sumatra, to drum up support for the Islamic movement inspired
by the anti-Ahok rallies. A week later, on 24 January 2017, the MUI of North
Sumatra finally released a fatwa, accusing Meiliana of blasphemy. This fatwa
became the basis for the police continuing their investigation and bringing the
case to court. It also became the main evidence used by the judge in finding
Meiliana guilt of blasphemy.
but no regulation
many places in Indonesia, recitations from the Koran are played on mosque
loudspeakers before and after the five daily calls to prayer. Although this is
a long-established practice, it is not unheard of for disputes to arise about
volume. However, this is the first time such as dispute has resulted in the
criminal prosecution of the complainant. There was a civil case related to a
similar issue recorded in 2013 in Aceh, but the charge was eventually revoked
because of pressure from locals.
government has tried to prevent such disputes through instructions issued by
the director general for Islamic community guidance at the Ministry of
Religious Affairs. The idea of limiting the use of loud speakers has also been
suggested by leading Islamic figures, including the late Abdurrahman Wahid – a
former Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) leader who was also known as a moderate Islamic
thinker. Vice President Jusuf Kalla – an NU advisory board member – has also
recommended moderating the volume of adzan. Yet this suggestion is hardly ever
taken up by mosques, even those affiliated with NU, and many still use high
Melianaʹs conviction has added to a growing number
of blasphemy cases. More than 130 people have been convicted of blasphemy since
the beginning of the democratic era in 1998, a ten-fold increase from the
previous authoritarian period.
Indonesiaʹs blasphemy law (article 156a of the
Criminal Code) defines blasphemy as an act which ʹhas the character of being at enmity with,
abusing or staining a religion adhered to in Indonesiaʹ, when this is done with ʹthe intention to prevent a person adhering
to any religion
based on belief in the almighty God.ʹ
although the definition theoretically includes an act blaspheming one of the
official religions in Indonesian other than Islam –Protestantism, Catholicism,
Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism – in most of the recorded cases people have
been convicted of blaspheming Islam.
new type of blasphemy
conviction, three main kinds of actions had led to blasphemy prosecutions.
Firstly, cases related to different interpretations of religion, when a member of a
religious minority promotes an idea that the majority considers deviant.
Secondly, cases where the defendant has insulted a part of a religion or a
religious symbol, as Ahok was found to have done when he quoted a Koranic verse
and insinuated that the verse has been used by his political opponents to
deceive voters. Thirdly, in cases relating to proselytisation. Meilianaʹs may be regarded as a new kind of
blasphemous act. Since blasphemy is not comprehensively defined, the decision could become a new precedent
for interpreting other complaints about noisy mosque loudspeakers as blasphemy.
a provision which extends the criminal prohibition on blasphemy was recently
included in the mass organisation law passed by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi),
which could allow for the criminalisation of members of an organisation that
indirectly engages in blasphemy. The latest draft of the Criminal Code
amendment also expands the blasphemy offence.
the run-up to the 2019 presidential election, no political campaigns advocate
revoking the law. Indeed, it would seem that both pairs of candidates,
Amien and Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno, support the use of the blasphemy law
because it is endorsed by conservative Muslims.
Jokowiʹs decision to choose Maʹruf Amin – the MUIʹs chairman who released the fatwa that
blasphemy case – as his running mate indicates that he considers garnering the
support of conservative Muslims to be more important than minority rights. In the case of Prabowo and
Sandiaga, their support for the blasphemy law is also unsurprising given the
support they receive from the so-called ʹ212
the collection of hardline Islamic groups that participated in the protest
against Ahok on 2 December
January 31 and February 1, 2019, Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf—General
Secretary of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the world’s largest Muslim organization, and
Emissary of Indonesia’s largest Islamic political party, PKB—led an official
delegation to address the European Parliament’s center-left and center-right
political groupings at the invitation of Portuguese Socialist Party MEP Ana
Maria Gomes and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research
in his capacity as a member of Indonesia’s Presidential Advisory Council, with
a protocol rank equivalent to Minister of State, Mr. Staquf delivered a
heavily-attended speech urging Europe’s centrist politicians to halt the
rapidly accelerating polarization of European societies by acknowledging and
addressing legitimate concerns raised by populist forces about the nexus of
national and international security threats linked to Islam, terrorism and
at a European Parliament Joint Meeting entitled “Innovative Approaches to
Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism,” Mr. Staquf explained that
“Islamist radicalism and terror continue to exert a strong appeal to many
Muslims, because of the fact that these are directly linked to obsolete and
problematic tenets within classical Islamic law (fiqh, often conflated with
shari‘ah), which Muslims generally regard as an authoritative source of
religious guidance.” Mr. Staquf urged the audience, which included MEPs and
policy experts affiliated with the European Parliament’s center-left
grouping—the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D)—to
“engage in frank discourse about these problematic tenets of Islamic orthodoxy,
while encouraging Muslin religious authorities and Middle East governments to
boldly acknowledge and reform them.”
center-right European People’s Party (EPP) think tank—the Wilfried Martens
Centre for European Studies—hosted Mr. Staquf the following day at the Brussels
Security Forum, the third edition of the World Security Forum, a closed,
invitation-only platform where political leaders, officials, experts and
practitioners discuss complex and enduring national security challenges. Mr.
Staquf highlighted the need to “address issues related to Islam and migration
that are fueling populism… and to supply a coherent vision, strategy,
methodology and message to mainstream politicians who wish to address the
growing problem of radicalization from a humanistic, tolerant and moderate
Staquf critiqued Western governments’ tendency to ignore and even deny the
obvious theological roots of violent and non-violent Islamist extremism. Mr.
Staquf’s penetrating remarks—regarding “analytical surrender and the consequent
failure of governments to accurately diagnose the root causes of Islamist
extremism”—validate discussions that have recently emerged at the heart of the
EU itself. These developments reflect the fact that “the multi-billion-euro
P/CVE (“Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism”) industry has proven
ineffective, due to flawed root cause analysis, while religious supremacism,
separatism and violence continue to spread.”
European Union Court of Auditors stated, in its “Special report n°13/2018:
Tackling radicalisation that leads to terrorism” that: “The [EU] Commission
does not evaluate its overall success in achieving policy goals… The Commission
has not: broken down the overall objectives of its counter-radicalisation
policy into more specific and measurable objectives; established appropriate
indicators and targets for EU funds used, in order to measure performance in
addressing radicalisation; [nor] provided a comprehensive overview of
EU-financed counter-radicalisation actions.” The Court of Auditors report also
states that “Commission actions to… address radicalisation often measure
achievements in terms of amount of activity (e.g., the number of meetings held
or documents produced) rather than effectiveness.”
December 12, 2018—the day after an Islamist attack on the Strasbourg Christmas
market, whose whose highly symbolic target selection evidenced a clear
religious motivation—the European Parliament adopted a “Report on Findings and
Recommendations of the Special Committee on Terrorism,” with 474 votes in
favour, 112 against and 75 abstentions. MEPs Monika Hohlemeier (EPP) and Helga
Stevens (ECR) served as co-rapporteurs, with substantial input from Ana Maria
Gomes (S&D). This report addressed the issue of religious extremism—also
described in the report as ‘Islamist extremism,’ ‘Radical Islamic
Fundamentalism,’ ‘Wahhabism,’ ‘Salafism’ and ‘jihadism’—with unprecedented
clarity, regarding both the nature of the threat and measures necessary to
prevent Islamist terrorism.
the sensitive and highly controversial nature of these issues, Mr. Staquf
offered NU and PKB’s assistance to European political parties and the nations
they govern. “Meeting this unprecedented global challenge requires
understanding the nature and scale of the threat we face; encouraging members
of society to openly discuss these issues; and enabling political elites to act
assertively and decisively, by building societal consensus.”
Bajwa lauds Gen (r) Raheel for Middle East peace efforts
Former Pakistan Army chief General (r) Raheel Sharif, who now heads a 41-nation
Saudi-led military coalition, called on Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed
Bajwa at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi on Monday, an Inter-Services
Public Relations (ISPR) statement said.
to the army’s media cell, matters related to regional stability and peace were
discussed in the meeting. The army chief also lauded the efforts by the Islamic
military coalition for enduring peace, added the ISPR.
delegation of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition led by Gen (r)
Raheel Sharif arrived in Islamabad late Sunday. This is the maiden visit of the
delegates of Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition to Pakistan. During
their two-day visit, the delegates of the Islamic military coalition will meet
the top civil and military leadership. Former army chief General (r) Raheel
Sharif is also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan. The delegation will
also meet Senate chairman and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
the focus of the delegates’ meetings with top civil and military leadership
will be on the regional situation as well as counter-terrorism measures taken
by the coalition. The delegation is also expected to discuss the upcoming visit
of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman to Pakistan.
to a media report, the prince’s exercise equipment, furniture and other
personal belongings have reached Islamabad, while his security team and Saudi
media representatives have also arrived in the capital ahead of his two-day
(r) Raheel Sharif was made the chief of the 41-nation Islamic military
coalition formed to combat terrorism in 2017.
coalition was initially proposed as a platform for security cooperation among
Muslim countries and included provisions for training, equipment and troops,
and the involvement of religious scholars for devising a counter-terrorism
Sharif’s appointment as the commander-in-chief of the Saudi-led alliance had
sparked a debate over how the move will impact Pakistan’s foreign policy, and
whether it was fully sanctioned by the parliament.
police on Monday arrested two brothers, Rawal Asad and Anas, under sedition
charges for joining a protest on the call of Pashtoon Tahaffuz Movement (PTM)
chairman Manzoor Pashteen at the city's Nawan Shaher Chowk.
a student at the Government Emerson College, Multan, and Anas, who studies at a
local college, were arrested during a raid at their residence in the city's
Northern Bypass area.
case was registered against the two on behalf of the state under charges:
(Wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot-if rioting be committed;
if not committed) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC),
(Condemnation of the creation of the State, and advocacy of abolition of its
sovereignty) of the PPC,
(Sedition) of the PPC,
(Punishment for public nuisance in cases not otherwise provided for) of the
(Continuance of nuisance after injunction to discontinue) of the PPC,
Sound Systems Regulation Act 2015-16 and
Maintenance of Public Order (MPO)
to the first information report (FIR), a copy of which is available with
*Dawn.com*, around 30 to 35 people had gathered at Multan's Nawan Shaher Chowk
and had blocked the road, causing disruption of traffic.
protesters, which reportedly included the two brothers, had gathered on the
call of Manzoor Pashteen and were chanting slogans against state institutions,
especially the army, the FIR said.
those named in the FIR are Rawal Asad, Fazeel Asghar, Samiullah, Mohammad
Bilal, Mohammad Nadeem, Mamoon Khan, Khali Ahmed, Dr Saddam, Hazrat Bilal,
Abdul Basit, Zabeehullah, Ismat Muslim, Nasrullah Khan, Momin Khan, Abdul
Qadeer Khan, Asmatullah Kakar, Jahangir Khan, Abdul Wahid Khan, Habat Khan and
Haji Rafique Kakar.
against PTM activists
Saturday, Lahore-based academic Dr Ammar Ali Jan was arrested from his
residence for "leading a group of 100-150 people of the "Pashtun
Ittehad Movement" who had gathered on the call of Manzoor Pashteen"
in the provincial capital's Liberty area. The academic was later released after
receiving bail from the Model Town Katchery.
last week, rights activist Gulalai Ismail — along with 17 others associated
with the group — was detained while protesting outside the National Press Club
in Islamabad over the death of PTM leader Arman Loni. She was released
following alleged intervention from senior members of the Pakistan
Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government at the centre.
on Jan 31, police had arrested six PTM activists from outside the Quetta Press
Club during a protest demonstration against a bombing in Loralai which claimed
the lives of nine people. Later, a sessions court in Quetta ordered the release
of the six activists on bail.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Domestic Violence against Women (Prevention and
Protection) Bill was introduced in the provincial assembly on Monday as members
of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal remained apprehensive about the proposed law.
government should not pass the bill in haste. We (MMA) will bring amendments to
the bill and will vet it on the yardstick of the Holy Quran and Sunnah,” member
of the religious alliance Inayatullah Khan said soon after law and
parliamentary affairs minister Sultan Mohammad Khan introduced the bill in the
Lutfur Rehman, another MPA of the alliance, expressed reservations about the
bill and termed the matter very serious.
asked Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani to refer the bill to the house’s select
committee and said the previous Punjab government had to withdraw the law after
religious parties opposed it.
minister Sultan Mohammad assured MMA members that the government would
accommodate the opposition’s suitable amendments to the bill.
said the bill would be put in the house for detailed discussion and might be
referred to the committee.
previous government of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf kept the bill regarding
domestic violence against women in cold storage for more than three years.
Jamaat-i-Islami, which was a coalition partner of the PTI in KP from 2013 to
2018, was not in favour of the bill.
Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl was also against the bill.
PTI’s previous government had referred the bill to the Council of Islamic
Ideology in 2016 before introducing it in the assembly to pacify religious
circles. The council had turned down the draft, saying it’s in contradictions
with the Shariah.
bill to provide prevention of domestic violence against women in order to
protect women from sexual abuse, psychological abuse, economic abuse and
stalking and for the matters connected herewith and ancillary there to,” states
statement of objects and reasons of the proposed law.
3(1) of the bill says no person shall commit, aid and abet for the commission
of the act of domestic violence.
to sub-section 2 of Section 3, any person, who commits an act pursuant to
sub-section (1), shall be deemed to have committed an offence under this Act
and shall be liable to be punished for such imprisonment and fine as provided
for the said offence in the Pakistan Penal Code 1860 (act No XLV of 1860).
bill proposes the formation of a seven-member district protection committee to
be headed by the deputy commissioner concerned.
committee will meet at least once a month.
main functions are to assist the victim in obtaining any medical treatment
necessitated due to the domestic violence and to relocate the victim to safer
place and keep official record in respect of the incidents of domestic
government will establish a toll free help line for reporting of the domestic
violence incidents, shelter homes and take other necessary measures to
accomplish the objective of this act.
Sultan Mohammad also introduced the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ministers (Salaries,
Allowances and Privileges) Act, 2019, to amend Section 8’s sub-section (2) of
the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Act No IV of 1975, suggesting increase in house
furnishing grant from Rs500,000 to Rs1,000,000 per year.
opposition through an adjournment motion highlighted the ongoing tug-of-war
between the governor and chief minister over the delegation of powers in the
MPA Inayatullah in his motion said despite the enactment of 25th Amendment to
the Constitution, certain administrative powers in the merged tribal districts
had been transferred to the governor, which he considered to be
said the government had lost administrative powers after the constitutional
leader Akram Khan Durrani said the tussle between Governor Shah Farman and
Chief Minister Mahmood Khan had triggered uncertainty in the province.
said after the approval of that constitutional amendment, all powers had been
delegated to the chief minister.
Durrani said the police and levies forces had been brought under the deputy
commissioners in tribal districts.
said the chief secretary and provincial police officer were transferred the
same day in an unprecedented development.
opposition leader said merger with KP had created administrative vacuum in the
erstwhile Fata and the abrupt transfer of top officials had caused uncertainty.
MPA Khushdil Khan termed the formation of a four-member advisory council for
seven merged district unconstitutional.
said the government had no legal and constitutional powers to form advisory
council comprising former bureaucrats.
Sultan Mohammad said the chief minister was the chief executive of the province
and that he enjoyed all powers and that the governor only advised the
government on matters.
said a summary for the appointment of judges to seven merged districts had been
approved, while the police system would be introduced there very soon.
question regarding financial and clinical audit of eight teaching hospitals of
the province run under the Medical Teaching Institutions Act was referred to
the standing committee on health.
The Senate Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions on Monday took up
the matter of Pakistanis who went to Europe and the US posing as Afghans and
who are now stuck there as they cannot get Afghan or Pakistani passports.
is time to look into the issue as so many families are miserable. We need to
identify and declare them Pakistanis and issue them passports so they can
return or live quality lives freely in other countries,” the committee
chairman, Taj Mohammad Afridi said.
said he met many young people in the UK who had declared themselves Afghan
has become difficult with time to get documentation which means they cannot get
Pakistani or Afghan passports. Some of the young people sought asylum but they
cannot prove they are Afghans,” he said.
Afridi said the government must address the issue.
representative of the ministry said there are three categories of Afghan
refugees in Pakistan- those who have proof of registration, those who came to
Pakistan without registration but registered themselves later, and those who
were not registered and are still living in Pakistan.
situation has become complicated because of this,” he said.
Shamim Afridi said some of his servants are also Afghans but have Pakistani
national identity cards.
suggest that instead of dividing Afghans into categories, they should be
allowed to work in Pakistan and given Pakistani nationality,” he said.
committee chairman said the prime minister had also said that those born in
Pakistan will be given Pakistani citizenship.
this has not been done yet. I suggest the government look into the issue and
mitigate the sufferings of people living in Pakistan for generations.
Government should ensure the future of children in the tribal areas of Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa is secure,” he said.
of Malik Matorkay has held top leaders of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM)
responsible for his sibling’s murder on Sunday in Khaisor village of North
was the maternal uncle of Shariatullah — a man who abducted a Marri Petroleum
Company Ltd employee — and had given the statement that security personnel had
not harassed Shariatullah’s family as was being portrayed by the PTM, claiming
that he was present at the time of the raid.
to a report on the Khaisor incident which was compiled by North Waziristan
deputy commissioner, PTM leaders Manzoor Pashteen, Mohsin Dawar, Ali Wazir and
three others have been accused of murdering Matorkay. Tehsildar Mir Ali had
submitted his report to the deputy commissioner.
assistant commissioner has also attached a statement of Parkhay Khan, the
brother of slain tribesman, with the report.
said that a video of Hayat Khan’s misstatement went viral on social media two
to three weeks ago. He said that his brother had rejected the recorded
statement of Hayat Khan on the Khaisor incident.
said that the PTM along with a jirga in Dera Ismail Khan tried to bulldoze
their houses but failed to do so; however, they threatened Matorkay of serious
further stated that two armed assailants riding a motorcycle opened fire at him
in Lakki Marwat on February 9 but he survived the assassination attempt after
which his brother was killed in a targeted attack on February 10.
prayers of Malik Matorkay, who was martyred on Sunday at his house, were
offered at Bichi, North Wazirstan district on Monday.
PTM figures or political leadership of PTM attended the funeral.
the other hand, MNA Mohsin Dawar has condemned the killing of Matorkay.
“Another condemnable act which once again questions the large scale military
presence in Waziristan. The timing of the killings make it more suspicious. The
matter needs to be investigated,” he tweeted.
was the uncle of Hayat Khan – the 13-year-old boy who was reportedly persuaded
by PTM activist Noorul Islam Dawar to give a video message against security
forces for adopting unfair means in their search for his elder brother
an interview with foreign media, Jalat Khan, father of Shariatullah, confirmed
that his son was a terrorist.
is said to have abducted and burnt four MPCL employees and a Frontier Corps
soldier on October 23, 2018.
employee, Zahid Mehmood, was taken a hostage and kept by Shariatullah at his
house in Khaisor with the help of his father Jalat and brother Irfan.
security forces went to rescue Mehmood, Shariatullah managed to escape into the
mountains with the abductee.
was persuaded to give a video statement against the security forces, sources
is expanding in the Sahel region -- a region encompassing western and
northwestern Africa, an African Union (AU) official said on Monday.
whole of West Africa is on alert," Smail Chergui, AU Commissioner for
Peace and Security told reporters following the closed-door 32nd Summit about
the State of Security in Africa.
said that terrorism was expanding on a "daily basis" in the region
and that Africa was ill-prepared against the threat which he said was
described even Burkina Faso -- a site of relative calm in West Africa -- as
facing an expanding menace of criminal and terrorist attacks.
said the AU and UN agreed to cooperate on convening a national reconciliation
conference in Libya. The date is yet to be announced, he added.
people have suffered enough," he said, adding that it was armed groups,
militias and external meddling that further complicated an already convoluted
situation, without naming any single interfering foreign power.
said that the planned reconciliation conference on Libya would be inclusive and
that all Libyan stakeholders would take part, underlining that the country's
situation affected neighboring countries as well, referring to a recent attack
in Chad by armed men coming out of Libya.
Somalia, Chergui said that while some challenges remained, progress was being
made on "implementing the federal transitional plan."
want to prepare the Somali National Forces to take over security," he
added, stressing that this could only be achieved after "positive
African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) -- a multinational armed intervention in
the country located in the Horn of Africa -- has been keeping the peace in
Somalia as the militant group Al-Shabaab continues its attacks.
said South Sudan was respecting the ceasefire as provided for in the peace deal
reached by the warring parties on Sept. 12, 2018.
appealed to the international community to provide the necessary financial
resources for South Sudan to support the implementation of the peace process as
opposing forces in the eastern African nation prepared to form a
"Revitalized -- Transitional Government of National Unity" in May.
Boko Haram militants stormed into her hometown, heavily pregnant Nigerian
mother Mariam Adoum dropped everything and ran for her life.
days after she reached this desert town across the border in neighbouring
Cameroon, she gave birth in a flimsy tent in a makeshift refugee camp, and
wonders how she will care for the baby.
so difficult to have a child here. I’m scared,” she says. “We came with
nothing. We need milk and proper shelter. My baby will grow up here. We don’t
have a choice.”
is among 35,000 women, children and men who have fled a surge of attacks by
Boko Haram in recent days in and around Rann, in Nigeria’s restive Borno State,
many streaming into Goura in Cameroon’s Makary District.
the gunfire broke out, elderly resident Fanne Gambo started to run, and did not
look back as neighbours fell around her.
could hear gunshots behind us,” she says shortly after arriving in this desert
settlement. “I did not really see what was happening, I only saw corpses lying
here and there, people being killed.”
has been ongoing in northeast Nigeria since the Boko Haram insurgency erupted
in 2009, forcing more than 2.5 million people from their homes within the Lake
Chad Basin in a desperate search for safety.
the insurgency grinds on, thousands have been displaced several times within
Nigeria itself, while thousands of others like Blama Tchama, have sought safety
over the border on numerous occasions.
have been to Cameroon seven times and each time, we are sent back to Nigeria.
But this time around, we are here to stay … There is no security where we are
coming from,” she laments.
most recent escape came after the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) which
came to secure the city after an attack on January 14 withdrew, leaving
residents to face militants, armed with rifles and rocket launchers.
tried to defend themselves on their own. But how could they, with their outdated
bows and arrows against heavily armed fighters?” Blama asks.
MNJTF, which includes forces from Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Benin,
aims at countering Boko Haram and preventing other insurgent groups from
gaining ground across the Lake Chad region.
vast majority of the recent arrivals fled during a single weekend, 26-27
January, crossing the El-Beid River en masse, some with a few belongings packed
on to donkey carts, others carrying them on their heads.
this remote and desert environment, the needs are tremendously great in
number,” says Geert Van de Casteele, the assistant representative in Cameroon
for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, who travelled to Goura to meet new arrivals
and assess their needs. “It is about providing healthcare, food, water and
medical assistance and to rapidly find resources with which to construct
temporary shelter in a region characterised by particularly rough climate
conditions,” he adds.
with the UN Development Programme and other partners, UNHCR has launched an
appeal for US$135 million to help the hundreds of thousands of people displaced
by the worsening Boko Haram insurgency in the Lake Chad Basin region.
action is needed in order to support the small West African nation, which
already hosts 400,000 refugees, including some 135,000 Nigerians.
here make it clear to us they do not want to return to Rann, which has come
under attack at least four times since September 2018,” Van de Casteele says.
“They no longer feel safe, and it is on us today to offer them the protection
they have a right to,” he adds. Last month, UNHCR expressed alarm at reports of
the forced return by Cameroon of several thousands refugees into
violence-affected Borno state.
those who fears she will never be safe in northern Nigeria is mother-of-four
Amma Zarama Hamat, who lost her first-born son to Boko Haram violence two years
ago, and has lived amid violence for the past eight years.
regularly come to take everything we have. They take our food, they take
everything we own, and leave,” she says. “I can’t ever go back there. I barely
escaped with my life. I lost my first-born son. Now I’m here and I can’t leave.
I will die here in Cameroon.”
Massack, UNHCR External Relations officer in Cameroon hopes and prays that the
needs of all the refugees, in all sectors, will be met.
Nigeria — Muhammadu Buhari won the presidency in a historic election in Nigeria
four years ago by promising to crush two scourges that had plagued the nation
for years: endemic corruption and a war with Islamist extremists.
then, Mr. Buhari, a former military general, rode a wave of voter desire to
impose greater accountability on the government, end a brutal war with the
extremist group Boko Haram and bring back the hundreds of female students taken
as Mr. Buhari is in the final throes of a bruising re-election campaign, he
stands accused of falling short on all fronts.
say Mr. Buhari has used his antigraft mantra to crush adversaries. Boko Haram
is gaining ground, launching sophisticated attacks on weary, underequipped
soldiers. And many of the captive students are still missing.
of 60 contenders, Mr. Buhari’s leading opponent is Atiku Abubakar, a candidate
with little military experience and a past so checkered with corruption
allegations that the United States refused for years to grant him a visa.
voters prepare to go to the polls this weekend for what appears to be a tight
election in Africa’s most populous country, the electorate has increasingly
lost hope that the government will ever be free of graft. Instead, voters are
fixated on mounting violence in pockets of the nation and everyday issues like
having reliable electricity.
was there before and it continues. But what of security? What of employment?
And food?” said Debbie Okochi, who on a recent afternoon was selling
electronics at a market in Lagos, where the streets were lined with cardboard
cutouts of candidates. “Everything has become worse.”
leading candidates are slinging accusations at one another while traveling the
country for last-minute rallies. The European Union is sending observers.
a long communiqué released last weekend, President Buhari suggested that
corruption and vote-buying were infecting the election process.
said the fight against graft will take time, quoting an old proverb: “Only the
patient one can milk a lion.”
Buhari, 76, a former military strongman, first took power in Nigeria in 1983
after a military coup. He launched a war on corruption by jailing political
actors without trial and committing widespread human rights abuses.
his political comeback, he assured voters he was a reformed democratic leader.
He entered the presidency in 2015 buoyed by the fact that his victory marked
the nation’s first peaceful passing of power from one party to another.
officials braced for what was known then as “the Buhari effect,” a wide-scale
crackdown on graft. A former defense minister was so worried he fled the
Buhari quickly empowered a team to investigate illicit money flows and make
high-profile busts of former government officials, seizing properties and
uncovering millions of dollars in cash hidden inside apartment walls.
Mr. Buhari has backed off some prosecutions in exchange for political support
and overlooked some wrongdoing. It was only after pressure mounted on his
policy during the campaign season that officials brought charges against one of
his top appointees for stealing money intended for Boko Haram victims, a case
uncovered in 2017.
Mr. Buhari’s critics, Senator Shehu Sani, a member of Mr. Buhari’s party, said
that “the presidency uses insecticides” to fight corruption among those outside
his circle, but only “deodorant” on his allies.
week, Mr. Buhari suspended the nation’s chief justice, claiming he was holding
millions in undeclared bank accounts, in violation of an ethics code. The
removal from office of a judge who would rule on any issues were the election
contested was so swift that it prompted statements of concern from the United
States, Britain, the European Union and others.
Abubakar jumped on the issue, calling the act “dictatorial” and
“antidemocratic.” In an ominous sign, the governor of Kaduna proclaimed
afterward that any foreign actor who intervened in Nigeria’s affairs would
return home “in body bags.”
Buhari’s campaign has rejected accusations that any of his moves against
corruption, including his suspension of the justice, have political undertones.
Abubakar, 72, a former vice president, has been notably quiet on the issue of
fighting graft, even downplaying the need to clean up the government. His
opponents say that’s because of corruption allegations against him.
United States Senate subcommittee in 2010 held up Mr. Abubakar as a prime
example of overseas corruption for funneling tens of millions of dollars’ worth
of Nigerian oil revenues into foreign shell accounts. The dealings of Mr.
Abubakar and one of his wives were contained in a report, “Keeping Foreign
Corruption Out of the United States,” to show that tougher laws were needed to
keep foreign officials from using American banks to bring suspect money into
was also a key figure in the 2009 bribery trial of an American congressman.
Prosecutors said Mr. Abubakar, then Nigeria’s vice president, was the intended
recipient of a freezer full of cash that former Representative William
Jefferson believed would help secure telecommunications contracts to benefit
Adekoya, an adviser to Mr. Abubakar, called any corruption allegations baseless
and pointed out that Mr. Abubakar has never been charged with a graft-related
Mr. Abubakar made a bid for the presidency in 2007, election officials
purposefully left his name off the ballot because he was facing a corruption
investigation. He challenged the decision, restoring his name but taking third
place in the vote. He rejected the election as not credible.
month, Mr. Abubakar was granted a visa to travel to Washington, where he
hobnobbed on Capitol Hill. His press team blasted photos of the trip on social
media, apparently a signal to voters that he had been absolved by the
Abubakar’s campaign has sought to shift the national conversation away from
corruption and onto the economy. The tactic has targeted voters who seem to
have given up that anyone will ever beat back graft.
now believe the country is so corrupt that it is nearly impossible to really
conquer it,” said Alwan Hassan, the national field director for the All
Progressives Youth Forum, which supports Mr. Buhari.
outside the country’s most populous cities, security has become a major worry
and will likely affect whether tens of thousands of people are able to cast
have flared between livestock herders and farmers competing for land. Gangs
have launched attacks from enclaves in vast forests. Separatists in the south
have resisted heavy-handed responses from the military.
nowhere is the situation more grave than in the nation’s northeast, where Boko
Haram and a splinter group loyal to the Islamic State have ramped up attacks,
despite Mr. Buhari’s claim that he defeated the group.
extremists have carried out more complicated missions against military installations
and posted online a gruesome video of an attack on soldiers.
attacks on the city of Rann have emptied it, sending 30,000 people fleeing for
their lives. Thousands have run across the border into Cameroon, according to
Doctors Without Borders, where they have no water, shelter or food. The United
Nations estimates a total of 60,000 people have been displaced since November.
Maiduguri, hundreds of displaced people protested last week, blocking roads and
tearing down campaign signs, saying they didn’t have enough to eat.
testimony before the United States Congress last week, Gen. Thomas D.
Waldhauser, the leader of United States Africa Command, said that Boko Haram
and its factions had grown to as many as 5,000 fighters and “taken large pieces
of real estate.”
about 100 students from the village of Chibok are still being held captive by
Boko Haram. Mr. Buhari had promised to bring them back but has barely mentioned
them on the campaign trail.
Akinola, who drives a taxi in Lagos, said that the campaign season usually
brings an air of excitement and optimism. But he had little faith in either
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