Photo - Al-Azhar Sheikdom: Observatory of Takfiri Fatwas
State Ideology Dismantled: Observatory of Takfiri Fatwas
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Ethnicity, Caste and Creed: Speakers at Islamic Research Institute
Move on Triple Talaq Violation of Religious Rights Guaranteed by the
Constitution: Maulana Vali Rahmani
as Young as 10 Fight, Kill and Die in Yemen’s War
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by New Age Islam News Bureau
State ideology dismantled: Observatory of Takfiri Fatwas
– 19 December 2018: The Islamic State (IS) ideology has been dismantled, and
its members are involved only in gang wars, according to a study issued by the
monitoring unit of Dar al-Ifta's Observatory of Takfiri Fatwas and Extremist
unit analyzed the IS speeches in the past four years as part of its study to
dismantle the ideology of terrorist groups.
study referred that the IS speeches, delivered from 2014 to 2016 on jihad and
expansion, have been greatly followed. These speeches have sought to show the
growing strength of the military organization.
2017 to 2018, IS speeches focused on patience in times of war and discord,
referring that its influence declined, according to the study.
study showed that IS's 2017-2018 speeches forbade its groups from breaking away
from the war instead of calling for fighting like in the 2014-2016 speeches.
for IS attempts to regroup itself in Iraq, the observatory confirmed that its
members are just involved in gang wars, and that it lost its members due to
internal division, stressing that the IS is currently unable to recruit more
members due to its weak media.
study concluded that the number of IS defectors is expected to increase in the
upcoming period, and the rest of the members will either join al-Qaeda or form
separate extremist groups.
the recent period, many efforts have been exerted to combat extremism and
terrorist ideology in Egypt.
Ministry of Awqaf is working at a steady pace to correct concepts and confront
extremism, Chairman of the Values Committee at the Ministry of Awqaf, Sheikh
JaberTaya, stated on Nov. 24.
added that the ministry closed all parallel entities spreading the ideology of
political Islam, pointing out that the ministry replaced these entities with
Islamic cultural centers.
referred that senior professors of Al-Azhar, who are known for their knowledge
in Islamic sciences, are teaching in these centers, and that students must be
university graduates with the desire and willingness to do Islamic studies.
Ministry of Endowments launched an initiative to combat extremism and terrorism
in Europe where hardliners are increasing.
ministry will inaugurate soon an international academy for training clerics in
foreign languages. These clerics will widen the ministry’s influence across the
is about to renew the religious discourse after all mosques have been placed
under the Awqaf’s authority, according to Mohammad Mukhtar Jumaa, the minister
of Awqaf (endowments).
religious discourse can often be brought up in public spheres of life with
religious figures commenting on politics and the day-to-day happenings. Whilst
this is common in every religion, in recent years, Egypt has been faced with a
wave of terrorism and radical, extremist thought.
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has repeatedly called for renewing the religious
discourse as part of the war against terrorism. In order to curb extremist
ideology that was often preached by extremist figures, mosques needed to be put
under the Ministry of Awqaf’s jurisdiction.
Speakers at a seminar here on Wednesday stressed that Islam is the religion of
peace, unity and harmony which discourages divisions in a society on the basis
of religious beliefs, ethnicity, caste and creed.
event titled ‘Muslim Unity and Role of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in Promotion
of Peace in Society’ was organized by the Islamic Research Institute (IRI) here
at the Faisal Mosque Campus.
Affairs Minister Noor ul Haq Qadri was chief guest on the occasion. Islamic
International University (IIUI) President Dr Ahmad Yousuf Al Darwesh, who is
originally from Saudi Arabia, IIUI Rector Prof Dr Masoom Yasinzai and IRI
Director General Dr Ziaul Haq also spoke on the occasion. A large number of students
and faculty members from the IIUI participated in the ceremony. In their
addresses, the speakers called for promotion of the true message of humanity
given in the ‘Madina Charter’ for salvage of the Muslims caught up in the clash
of interests in Pakistan as well as different regions of the world, adding that
the association of humanity with the ‘Madina Charter’ for the resolution of the
issues was because it guaranteed the fundamental rights of economy, justice and
education for all.
Muslims, we aspire for peace in the whole world and desire progress, prosperity
and welfare for the entire humanity,” Religious Affairs Minister Noor ul Haq
Qadri said. “It is only through peace and unity and collective efforts that we
can rid the country and the Muslim Ummah of the menaces of extremism,
sectarianism and terrorism and build peaceful societies in the light of the
teachings of Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him),” he said, and cited recent
efforts made by Pakistan for promotion of peace and reconciliation in
Afghanistan and Yemen. IIUI President Dr Ahmad Yousuf Al Darwesh highlighted
the role being played by Saudi Arabia in promotion of peace, unity, tolerance,
coexistence and diversity in the Muslim Ummah. He also discussed ways to
support constructive dialogue among different cultures and religions and
emphasized the importance of respecting and upholding the basic principles of
justice and human rights.
Arabia is focused on peaceful solutions to several conflicts and is undertaking
various mediation efforts. The historic peace agreement between Ethiopia and
Eritrea facilitated by Saudi Arabia illustrates the role being played by Riyadh
for promotion of peace,” he said. Affirming that terrorism and extremism remain
a major challenge for the world, including his own country, Darwesh said an
assembly of institutions has already been established by Saudi Arabia to
strengthen the fight against violent extremism and terrorism.
the participants, IRI Director General Dr Zial ul Haq said Paigham-e-Pakistan
initiative of the government of Pakistan was the best tool to deal with growing
extremism and intolerance in the society and to encourage the youth towards
positive and constructive activities in order to realise the dream of building
a peaceful society. “This initiative can guarantee a safe and peaceful future
for our next generations by ridding the society of hatred and prejudices,” he
move on triple talaq violation of religious rights guaranteed by the
constitution: Maulana Vali Rahmani
Maulana Mohammed Vali Rahmani Ameer-e-Shariah and General Secretary All India
Muslim Personal Law Board told that the move taken by the government regarding
triple Talaq is the violation of religious rights guaranteed by the
Vali Rahmani was answering to a question regarding tabling of triple talaq bill
in the Lok Sabha. He had arrived at Kanpur to address a function at Jamiaul
Uloom and Jamia Ayesha Siddiqua. He said triple talaq is not good but it cannot
be stopped by law instead it can be stopped by counselling the people in the
light of religious teachings.
said presently the bill has been tabled in Lok Sabha, the Board will take the
decision on the issue after the situation in Rajya Sabha becomes clear.
as young as 10 fight, kill and die in Yemen’s war
Yemen (AP) — The number etched on the bracelet around Mohammed’s wrist gave the
13-year-old soldier comfort as missiles fired from enemy warplanes shook the
earth beneath him.
two years Mohammed fought with Yemen’s Houthi rebels against a military
coalition led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the United States. He says he
tortured and killed people and didn’t care whether he lived or died.
if he died, the bracelet would guarantee his body made it home.
I become a martyr, they enter my number in the computer, retrieve my picture
and my name, then print them with the name ‘Martyr’ underneath,” Mohammed said.
It would be pasted to the lid of his coffin for return to his family.
was among 18 former child soldiers interviewed by The Associated Press who
described the Houthis’ unrelenting efficiency when it comes to the recruitment,
deployment and even battlefield deaths of boys as young as 10.
both sides in the four-year civil war have sent children into combat in
violation of international human rights conventions, the Houthis are believed
to have recruited many more than the coalition — often forcibly.
Houthis have inducted 18,000 child soldiers into their rebel army since the
beginning of the war in 2014, a senior Houthi military official acknowledged to
the AP. He spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the
figure is higher than any number previously reported. The United Nations was
able to verify 2,721 children recruited to fight for all sides in the conflict,
the large majority for the Houthis, but officials say that count is likely low,
because many families will not speak about the issue out of fear of reprisals
from Houthi militiamen.
Houthis say officially that they don’t recruit children and send away those who
try to enlist.
of the children told the AP they joined the rebels willingly, mainly because of
promises of money or the chance to carry a weapon. But others described being
forced into the service of the Houthis — abducted from schools or homes or
coerced into joining in exchange for a family member’s release from detention.
can be seen manning checkpoints along main roads across northern and western
Yemen, AK-47s dangling from their narrow shoulders. Others are sent to the
front lines as foot soldiers.
13-year-old named Riyadh said half of the fighters he served with on the front
lines in Yemen’s mountainous Sirwah district were children. Rebel officers
ordered them to push forward during battles, even as coalition jets zoomed
overhead, he said.
said he pleaded with his commander to let the young fighters take cover during
airstrikes: “Sir, the planes are bombing.”
reply, he said, was always: “Followers of God, you must attack!”
unknown number of child soldiers have been sent home in coffins.
than 6,000 children have died or been maimed in Yemen since the beginning of
the war, UNICEF reported in October. But the U.N. agency has not been able to
determine how many of those minors were combatants and the Houthi-run Defense
Ministry does not release its records for casualties.
former teacher from the city of Dhamar said that at least 14 pupils from his
school were recruited and then died in battle. Their pictures were placed on
empty classroom seats in 2016 during the Week of the Martyr, which the Houthis
celebrate each year in February. Most of them were fifth and sixth graders, he
said. An education official from Dhamar confirmed his account. The two spoke on
condition of anonymity because of fear of retribution.
teacher said some of the dead children’s parents were Houthi leaders who
willingly sent their sons to the front lines. “It’s painful because this is a
child and they are all my children because I was their teacher,” he said. “They
were taken from the school and returned in coffins.”
Houthis and the coalition forces began peace talks in Sweden two weeks ago, but
an end to the war appears far off. Many worry about what will become of the
children who fought in the Middle East’s poorest country once a peace treaty is
al-Saadi, a Yemeni human rights activist who founded a Saudi-funded counseling
center in Marib for child warriors, said “the real problem with Houthi
recruitment of the children will be felt in 10 years — when a generation that
has been brainwashed with hatred and enmity toward the West comes of age.”
FOR THIS WAR’
war began after Houthi rebels swept down from the northern highlands in late
2014, seizing the capital, Sanaa, and then pushing south. Yemen’s
internationally recognized government sought help from the Saudis and other
oil-rich neighbors, which formed the military coalition opposing the Houthis.
result has been a proxy war as much as a civil war, with forces backed by the
Saudis fighting the Houthis, a Zaidi-Shiite religious and political group with
ties to Iran.
report released in August by a U.N. expert panel said both sides are using
child soldiers. The panel said it had information that coalition forces had
targeted “particularly vulnerable children” living in displacement camps and
“offered significant payments for child recruits.” The report said coalition
units “frequently used children in support roles, although they have also been
used in combat on the front lines.”
panel noted that nearly two-thirds of the child soldiers identified by the U.N.
in 2017 were deployed by the Houthis and their allies.
Houthis constantly recruit new fighters because their ranks are smaller and
thinned by battlefield losses. The well-funded and well-equipped coalition
units have nearly 140,000 troops in the field, experts who study the war say.
The Houthi military official told the AP that rebel forces have 60,000 fighters
on the front lines. Outside experts estimate the Houthis’ troop strength at
between 15,000 and 50,000.
Houthi officials heap praise on young soldiers who have died in a conflict they
describe as a sacred war against America, Israel and other outside powers they
believe are trying to take over the country.
the Houthi-controlled Defense Ministry, the rebels have pursued what they call
a “national voluntary recruitment campaign.”
Gen. Yahia Sarie, a spokesman for the Houthis’ armed forces, told the AP “there
is no general policy to use the children in the battles,” but he acknowledged
that some young people do volunteer to join the fight.
personal initiative,” the general said. “Some of the children are motivated by
the desire to take revenge, thinking it’s better to take action and fight with
honor instead of getting killed inside our homes.” When they try to join, he
said, Houthi leaders “send them back home.”
dismissed the accounts from the children who spoke to the AP, saying their
claims were coalition propaganda.
parents, educators, social workers and other Yemenis interviewed by the AP
described an aggressive campaign that targets children — and is not always
completely voluntary. Houthi officials use their access to the Civil Registry
Authority and other state records to gather data that allows them to narrow
down their target list of the neediest families in villages and displacement
camps — the ones most likely to accept offers of cash in return for recruits.
Sanaa, the Yemeni capital under Houthi control, recruiters go door to door
telling parents they must either turn over their sons or pay money for the war
effort, according to residents.
AP interviewed the 18 former child soldiers at displacement camps and a
counseling center in the city of Marib, which is controlled by the Saudi-led,
U.S.-backed coalition. They had come to Marib after slipping away from rebel
forces or being captured by coalition units.
of their ages and because some of them acknowledge committing acts of
brutality, the AP is only using their first names. Some children gave
themselves a nom du guerre after they joined the fighting. One 10-year-old boy,
for example, called himself Abu Nasr, Arabic for “Father of Victory.”
13-year-old boy named Saleh told the AP that Houthi militiamen stormed his
family’s home in the northern district of Bani Matar on a Saturday morning and
demanded he and his father come with them to the front lines. He said his
father told them, “Not me and my son” and then tried to pull his rifle on them.
“They dragged him away,” the boy recalled. “I heard the bullets, then my father
said the militiamen took him with them and forced him to do sentry duty at a
checkpoint 12 hours a day.
relief agencies working on child protection programs in northern Yemen are not
allowed to discuss the use of child soldiers, out of fear their agencies will
be barred from delivering aid to Houthi-controlled territories, according to
four aid workers who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “This is a taboo,”
don’t raise the issue,” said Abdullah al-Hamadi, a former deputy education
minister who defected earlier this year from the Houthi-controlled government
in the north.
said the children who are targeted for recruitment are not the sons of
important Houthi families or top commanders. Instead, they are usually kids
from poor tribes who are being used “as firewood for this war.”
villages and small towns, recruiters include teenagers whose brothers or
fathers already work for the Houthis. They can be seen hanging around schools,
handing out chewing tobacco and trying to persuade the boys to become fighters.
residents of Sanaa told the AP that Houthis divide the capital into security
blocs, each overseen by a supervisor who must meet rolling quotas for bringing
in new recruits. He collects information on the families living in his bloc by
knocking on the doors of each house and asking for the number of male members,
their names and ages.
looks random from the outside, but in reality it’s not,” a Yemeni journalist
who worked in Houthi territory said, speaking on condition of anonymity because
of the risks of talking about the rebels. “There are teams with specific
missions and clear structure.”
and his family fled to Marib, a coalition stronghold, because he feared that
the rebels would try to recruit his children.
recruiters assure families their sons won’t be assigned to battle zones, but
instead will be sent to work behind the lines at roadside checkpoints. Once
militiamen get hold of the children, they often instead send them to
indoctrination and training camps, and then the front lines, according to two
children interviewed by the AP and officials from two child protection groups.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of concerns that the
Houthis might retaliate by blocking their groups from working in Yemen.
interviewed by the AP said they were targeted by recruiters on soccer pitches,
farms and, especially, schools.
12-year-old named Kahlan said Houthi militiamen drove him and 10 of his
classmates away in a pickup truck, telling them they were being taken to a
place where they would get new school bags.
was a lie.
still in their school uniforms, they found themselves inside a training camp
getting instructions on how to hide from airstrikes.
recruits are usually taken first to “culture centers” for religious courses
lasting nearly a month. Instructors read aloud to the children from the
lectures of the Houthi movement’s founder, Hussein Badr Eddin al-Houthi, the
late brother of the current leader, Abdul-Malek al-Houthi.
lectures, dating back to 2002, are circulated in audio and video and
transcribed into booklets known as “Malazem.”
are told they are joining a holy war against Jews and Christians and Arab
countries that have succumbed to Western influence — and that if the boys die
fighting, they will go to heaven. The instructors fuel the recruits’ anger with
accounts of coalition attacks that have killed civilians, including an
airstrike in August that hit a bus full of schoolchildren.
you get out of the culture center, you don’t want to go home anymore,” said
Mohammed, the boy who served with the Houthis from ages 13 to 15. “You want to
go to jihad.”
recruits are then sent to military training camps in the mountains, according
to several children who defected from the Houthis. By night, they sleep in
tents or huts made of tree branches. By day, they learn how to fire weapons,
plant explosives and avoid missiles fired by coalition jets.
noon to sunset, the young soldiers get a daily share of the green leaves of
qat, a mild stimulant that the vast majority of Yemenis chew every day. Coming
from poor families, having qat is an incentive for the children, who might not
be able to afford it at home.
less than a month of boot camp, they are sent to war, wearing the bracelets that
are supposed to ensure that, if they die, they are returned to their families
and honored as martyrs.
children call the inscription their “jihadi number.” Critics of the Houthis
sardonically call the bracelets the children’s “key for heaven.”
in the battle zones, some children said, their weapons and their beliefs made
them feel powerful. Others just felt frightened.
fought in and around the city of Taiz, the scene of the war’s longest running
day, his comrades captured a coalition fighter and brought him to a bombed-out
restaurant for interrogation. Mohammed, 14 at the time, said he fetched an
electric generator and hooked it up to the prisoner. He sent electric shocks
screaming through the man’s body, he said, as his commander questioned the
captive about coalition forces’ positions.
the questioning was over, he said, his commander gave this order: “Get rid of
him.” Mohammed said he took a heavy metal tool, heated it in a flame, then
swung it, caving in the back of the man’s head.
was my master,” Mohammed recalled. “If he says kill, I would kill.... I would
blow myself up for him.”
the 13-year-old who fought in the Sirwah mountains, said he and his 11-year-old
brother once shot and killed two enemy soldiers who had refused to lay down
their weapons. But more often, he said, he closed his eyes tightly when he
fired his rifle. “Honestly, when I am afraid, I don’t know where I am shooting
— sometimes in the air and sometimes just randomly,” he said.
most frightening moment came when his brother disappeared during a firefight.
was crying,” Riyadh recalled. “I told the commander that my brother had been
began turning over corpses on the battlefield, searching bloodied faces for his
lost brother when he and other fighters came under fire. They fired back. Then,
after some yelling back and forth, he realized the shooter was not an enemy
fighter but his brother, lost in the fog of battle.
few weeks later, Riyadh and his brother escaped, paying a truck driver to
smuggle them away from the Houthi forces.
— the schoolboy who had been lured into combat with the promise of a new book
bag — was first assigned to carry boxes of food and ammunition for soldiers.
Then he was deployed to fight. He and the other boys had no clothes other than
their school uniforms, he said. They were so filthy many sprouted skin rashes.
aircraft screeched overhead, dropping bombs and firing missiles at Houthi
positions. Afterward, trucks rumbled in to collect the dead.
sight of the bodies was scary,” Kahlan recalled, using his hands to pantomime
how corpses were missing heads or limbs or had their intestines oozing out.
slipped away from the Houthi camp early one morning, running from one village
to another. “I was afraid to look back. I saw trees and rocks and I got more
scared because they used to hide behind the trees.”
Riyadh and Kahlan all ended up in Marib, at a rehabilitation center for
children who served as Houthi soldiers. Since September 2017, nearly 200 boys
have come through the center, which was founded by the Wethaq Foundation for
Civil Orientation and funded with Saudi money.
al-Makhlafi, the center’s psychiatrist, said the common symptom among all the
former child soldiers is extreme aggression. They suffer anxiety, panic attacks
and attention deficits. Some describe being beaten by their own commanders, a
staffer at the center said. She said she has also heard reports from children
on both sides of the fighting about being sexually abused by officers. She
spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of sexual abuse
center brings the children together for “listening sessions” that help them
remember their lives before they were sent to war.
his first day at the center, Mohammed said, he was terrified. He didn’t know
what they would do to him there. “But then I saw the teachers and they gave me
a room to stay in. I felt good after that.”
mother lives in Taiz, in an area under Houthi control, so he can’t live with
her. He has other relatives and moves from one house to another. Sometimes, he
said, he sleeps in the street.
no longer has the bracelet with the serial number that the Houthis gave him as
part of their promise that he’d get a martyr’s funeral. When he defected, he
said, his older brother sent him to be questioned by coalition authorities.
the interrogation, a security officer took out a pair of scissors and cut the
bracelet from Mohammed’s wrist.
to pull troops from Syria: 'We have defeated ISIS'
Trump on Wednesday abruptly declared victory over the Islamic State in Syria
and said the 2,000 U.S. troops deployed there will come home, fulfilling a
major campaign promise but sparking fear abroad and bipartisan outrage at home
— all while doing little to clear up America’s regional mission or the fate of
its allies in the war-torn terrorist hotbed.
unexpected move upends years of U.S. policy in Syria and carries with it
serious geopolitical consequences. Skeptics warn that it opens the door for
Iran and Russia to seize even more power in the region, or for the Islamic
State to reconstitute itself.
evening, Mr. Trump posted a video on Twitter reiterating his belief that
America has defeated its foe. He praised the U.S. military and called the men
and women who fought in Syria “great heroes of the world.”
have won against ISIS. We’ve beaten them, and we’ve beaten them badly,” the
president said. “I get very saddened when I have to write letters or call
parents or wives or husbands of soldiers who have been killed fighting for our
country. It’s a great honor. But it’s heartbreaking.
we’ve won,” Mr. Trump continued. “It’s time to come back. They’re getting
ready. You’re going to see them soon.”
move was even more stunning given that Mr. Trump’s recently appointed envoy to
the Syrian conflict said just days ago that American special operations forces
and military advisers were staying for the long term.
decision touched off a firestorm of opposition on both the left and the right.
Critics likened it to President George W. Bush’s infamous “mission
accomplished” claim on Iraq and President Obama’s insistence in 2012 that
extremist groups were “on the run” in the Middle East, two years before the
Islamic State rose to dominate much of Iraq and Syria. Powerful Republican
senators described Mr. Trump’s withdrawal as “Obama-like,” a “retreat” and a
blunder that will “haunt this administration and America for years to come.”
[Obama] administration showed what happens when arbitrary political deadlines —
rather than reality on the ground — dictate policy in war zones,” said retiring
House Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Edward R. Royce, California
Republican. “We must learn from the mistakes of the past, not repeat them.”
White House officials say it’s time for the U.S. to move to the next phase of
its war against the Islamic State, military officials are much more cautious.
They said Wednesday that the military campaign is not over and that much work
remains to fully eradicate the terrorist group.
administration officials this month also seemed to warn against such a move.
Brett McGurk, the administration’s point man for the international coalition
against the Islamic State, said last week that it’s foolhardy to defeat the
terrorist group’s “physical space and then leave.” He also said there is no
firm date for a withdrawal from Syria.
House National Security Adviser John R. Bolton has said the U.S. military would
remain in Syria as long as Iran-backed proxy groups are active there. That
position apparently lost out to Mr. Trump’s desire for a quick withdrawal.
president has frequently bashed open-ended American military quagmires in the
Middle East, but foreign policy hawks in his party said the Syria withdrawal is
naive and dangerous. Ultimately, they warned, the president will regret it.
will be an Obama-like mistake made by the Trump administration,” said Sen.
Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, a Trump ally who became a chief
critic of the Obama administration’s withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
American patience in confronting radical Islam may wane, the radical Islamists’
passion to kill Americans and our allies never wavers,” he said. “An American
withdrawal at this time would be a big win for ISIS, Iran, [Syrian dictator]
Bashar al Assad of Syria, and Russia. I fear it will lead to devastating
consequences for our nation, the region, and throughout the world.”
Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican, was equally harsh and suggested that the
Pentagon was overruled by the White House.
president’s generals have no idea where this weak decision came from,” he said.
“They believe the high-fiving winners today are Iran, ISIS, and Hezbollah. The
losers are Israel, humanitarian victims, and U.S. intelligence-gathering. A lot
of American allies will be slaughtered if this retreat is implemented.”
Sen. Rand Paul, a longtime critic of open-ended overseas military missions, was
a rare supporter of Mr. Trump’s decision among Hill Republicans.
the first time in my lifetime, we have a president with the courage to declare
victory and bring the troops home,” the Kentucky Republican said. “We haven’t
had a president in 20 or 30 years who can figure out how to declare victory.”
officials rejected the accusation that Mr. Trump’s top advisers were blindsided
by the presidential tweet. They insisted that Defense Secretary James Mattis
and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have been fully involved in the
decision-making process, as has Mr. Bolton.
president’s statements on this topic have been 100 percent consistent,” a
senior administration official told reporters on a conference call late
Wednesday afternoon. “The notion that anyone in the administration was caught
unaware, I would challenge that. I really don’t see this as a surprise.”
it’s clear there was significant daylight between the Pentagon’s position and
the president’s claims of total victory.
Joseph F. Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in recent weeks
that the Islamic State controls just 1 percent of the territory it once held.
He stressed, however, that the group remains a potent threat to the U.S. and
Department assessments have warned that the organization is morphing into a
more conventional terrorist group that still boasts tens of thousands of
fighters in the region.
Pentagon officials tried to walk a fine line between backing up Mr. Trump’s
declaration while stressing that the fight isn’t over.
coalition has liberated the ISIS-held territory, but the campaign against ISIS
is not over,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Dana W. White. “We have started the
process of returning U.S. troops home from Syria as we transition to the next
phase of the campaign.”
Republicans bashed the decision, critics on the left mocked it. The left-wing
group Think Progress circulated a piece Wednesday afternoon with the subject
line “Mission accomplished,” a reference to Mr. Bush’s claim in May 2003 that
the war in Iraq was won. U.S. troops would go on to fight a determined
insurgency for years afterward, and the country eventually became the breeding
ground for the Islamic State.
officials couldn’t provide answers on how many troops have left Syria, or what
the deadline will be for the evacuation. It’s also unclear whether some U.S.
special operations forces could remain on the ground to conduct targeted
working it right now,” an administration official said in reference to the
Pentagon. “I don’t think we have those numbers. I know the process has begun.”
Obama first deployed U.S. forces into Syria to deal with the Islamic State
threat, a campaign that gained significant momentum under Mr. Trump. The U.S.
and its allies drove the terrorist group from its strongholds in Raqqa, Syria,
and Mosul, Iraq. Mr. Trump also authorized direct military strikes on forces of
Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2017 after they were accused of using chemical
weapons against anti-regime rebel positions.
Trump made his announcement amid a fluid situation on the ground in Syria. The
intense U.S.-led bombing campaign against the Islamic State, which began under
Mr. Obama, has continued throughout the Trump tenure. From Dec. 9-15, the
American-coalition conducted more than 200 strikes in Syria, according to the
Kurdish forces also are on the verge of capturing some of the final key areas
held by the Islamic State east of the Euphrates River. Victory there would mark
a painful blow against the terrorist group and would nearly complete the job of
winning back all physical territory once controlled by the Islamic State.
the fight against the terrorist group is just one piece of what has become a
much more complicated situation. The yearslong civil war in Syria has
devastated most of the country, and Mr. Assad has found willing allies in
Russia and Iran in the fight to maintain power.
has been drawn into the fight as U.S.-allied Syrian Kurdish forces grew
increasingly powerful in Syria’s north. Israel has been drawn into the fight as
Iranian advisers and Tehran-backed Hezbollah led the fight against Syrian rebel
forces operating near the Golan Heights and the Israeli-Syrian border. Russia
and Iran have inserted themselves in the conflict as key supporters of Mr.
Assad, and Russian mercenaries have clashed with U.S. forces and their allies
on Syria’s chaotic battlefield.
regional analysts warn that the withdrawal of U.S. troops could spark a domino
effect throughout the broader Middle East. They warn that without the presence
of American troops, the Syrian Democratic Forces — a Kurdish-Arab alliance that
has been a key U.S. partner in fighting the Islamic State and Mr. Assad’s army
— could be overrun. The fallout won’t be limited to the security side.
90 percent of Syria oil is in area controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces.
If Assad reconquers the country, Iran will no longer have to subsidize Assad’s
oil needs, which will in turn undermine current U.S. sanction policy towards
Iran,” said David Adesnik, director of research at the Foundation for Defense
of Democracies. “Most of the viable agrarian land is in area controlled by SDF.
Given Assad’s food shortage, the agricultural land represents a critical
economic and political variable.”
Mr. Trump’s withdrawal is carried out, “the U.S.-trained and -equipped SDF will
have little choice but to join the Iran-Russia-Assad axis,” Mr. Adesnik said.
other analysts said withdrawing U.S. forces is the right move now. They argue
that nothing is to be gained from an open-ended mission and that Washington
would be committed to an endless task of balancing the region’s hostile powers.
goal that got U.S. forces into Syria is essentially achieved,” said Benjamin H.
Friedman, senior fellow at Defense Priorities, a think tank that advocates a
more restrained foreign policy.
fact that none of his top security advisers seem to agree with his decision
suggests the president needs better security advice,” he said.
locked compound, Muslims in China make clothes for US
Barbed wire and hundreds of cameras ring a massive compound of more than 30
dormitories, schools, warehouses and workshops in China's far west. Dozens of
armed officers and a growling Doberman stand guard outside.
locked gates, men and women are sewing sportswear that can end up on US college
campuses and sports teams.
is one of a growing number of internment camps in the Xinjiang region, where by
some estimates 1 million Muslims are detained, forced to give up their language
and their religion and subject to political indoctrination. Now, the Chinese
government is also forcing some detainees to work in manufacturing and food
industries. Some of them are within the internment camps; others are privately owned,
state-subsidized factories where detainees are sent once they are released.
Associated Press has tracked recent, ongoing shipments from one such factory
inside an internment camp to Badger Sportswear, a leading supplier in
Statesville, North Carolina. The shipments show how difficult it is to stop
products made with forced labor from getting into the global supply chain, even
though such imports are illegal in the US Badger CEO John Anton said Sunday that
the company would source sportswear elsewhere while it investigates.
authorities say the camps, which they call training centers, offer free
vocational training for Uighurs, Kazakhs and others, mostly Muslims, as part of
a plan to bring minorities into "a modern civilized" world and
eliminate poverty in Xinjiang.
say that people in the centers have signed agreements to receive vocational
Xinjiang Propaganda Department did not respond to a faxed request for comment.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman accused the foreign media Monday of
making "many untrue reports" about the training centers, but did not specify
when asked for details.
reports are completely based on hearsay evidence or made out of thin air,"
the spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said at a daily briefing.
a dozen people who either had been in a camp or had friends or family in one
told the AP that detainees they knew were given no choice but to work at the
factories. Most of the Uighurs and Kazakhs, who were interviewed in exile, also
said that even people with professional jobs were retrained to do menial work.
varied according to the factory. Some got paid nothing, while others earned up
to several hundred dollars a month, they said _ barely above minimum wage for
the poorer parts of Xinjiang. A person with firsthand knowledge of the
situation in one county estimated that more than 10,000 detainees _ or 10 to 20
percent of the internment population there _ are working in factories, with
some earning just a tenth of what they used to earn before. The person declined
to be named out of fear of retribution.
former reporter for Xinjiang TV in exile said that during his monthlong
detention last year, young people in his camp were taken away in the mornings
to work without compensation in carpentry and a cement factory.
camp didn't pay any money, not a single cent," he said, asking to be
identified only by his first name, Elyar, because he has relatives still in
Xinjiang. "Even for necessities, such as things to shower with or sleep at
night, they would call our families outside to get them to pay for it."
Abbas, a Uighur in Washington, D.C., said her sister is among those detained.
The sister, Dr. Gulshan Abbas, was taken to what the government calls a
vocational center, although she has no specific information on whether her
sister is being forced to work.
companies importing from those places should know those products are made by
people being treated like slaves," she said. "What are they going to
do, train a doctor to be a seamstress?"
camps in Xinjiang
predominantly Muslim Uighur and Kazakh ethnic minorities in China live mostly
in the Xinjiang region bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan, with a legacy dating
to ancient traders on the Silk Road. In recent decades, violent attacks by
Uighur militants have killed hundreds and prompted the Chinese government to
blanket Xinjiang with stifling security.
two years ago, authorities launched a vast detention and re-education campaign.
They also use checkpoints, GPS tracking and face-scanning cameras for
surveillance of ethnic minorities in the region. The slightest perceived
misstep can land someone in the internment camps.
and women in the complex that has shipped products to Badger Sportswear make
clothes for privately-owned Hetian Taida Apparel in a cluster of 10 workshops
within the compound walls. Hetian Taida says it is not affiliated with the
internment camps, but its workforce includes detainees.
China faced growing international pressure about the detention camps, its state
broadcaster aired a 15-minute report in October that featured a
"vocational skills education and training center" in the southern
Xinjiang city of Hotan.
and extremism are the common enemy of human civilization," the China
Central Television program began. In response, the report said, the Xinjiang
government was using vocational training to solve this "global
Hongbo, the chairman of Hetian Taida, confirmed that the company has a factory
inside the same compound as the training center featured in the China Central
Television report. Hetian Taida provides employment to those trainees who were
deemed by the government to be "unproblematic," he said, adding that
the center is government-operated.
making our contribution to eradicating poverty," Wu told the AP over the
20 to 30 trainees at the factory are treated like regular employees and make up
a small fraction of the hundreds of people in its workforce, he said.
featured in the state television report praised the Communist Party for saving
them from a criminal path.
don't dare to imagine what would have happened to me if I didn't come
here," one Uighur student said. "The party and government found me in
time and saved me. They gave me a chance to reinvent myself."
segment said that in addition to law and Mandarin-language classes, the
training center collaborated with companies to give trainees practical
experience. Trainees were shown hunched over sewing machines in a factory whose
interior matches that of Hetian Taida's main Hotan branch, as seen in prior
Chinese media reports.
told the AP journalists who approached the compound earlier this month that
they could not take photos or film in the area because it was part of a
"military facility." Yet the entrance was marked only by a tall gate
that said it was an "apparel employment training base.
line the barbed-wire perimeter, bearing messages such as "Learn to be
grateful, learn to be an upright person" and "No need to pay tuition,
find a job easily."
Ruser, a cyber-policy researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute
(ASPI), analyzed satellite images for the AP and found that in Hetian Taida's
case, the apparel factory and the government-run training camp are connected by
a fenced path.
are watchtowers throughout," Ruser said. "There are clear fences
between the buildings and walls that limit movement.
can only access the factories area through walkways, and the entire facility is
AP could not independently determine if any workers were allowed to come and
go, or how much if anything they were paid.
least 10 times this year shipping containers filled with thousands of men's,
women's and youth polyester knitted T-shirts and pants were sent to Badger
Sportswear, a 47-year-old athletic gear seller. The company mostly manufactures
in Nicaragua and the US, and there is no way to tell where the products from
Xinjiang specifically end up. But experts say supply chains are considered
tainted by forced labor and modern slavery if even one item was produced by
someone forced to work.
on the internet are clues that repeatedly tie the company to the detention
camp's sewing factory floor.
Zhang, a researcher at the University of British Columbia, noted an overlooked
Hotan city social media post from February about the first batch of some 1.5
million pieces of clothing worth $400,000 heading overseas from the Hetian
Taida Factory. In the middle of a photo of young women flashing the peace sign
is Badger Sportswear's marketing director Ginny Gasswint, who is quoted as
saying she's surprised the workers are "friendly, beautiful, enthusiastic
Sportswear goes to university bookstores and sports teams large and small
around the country, places like Charlotte Country Day School squash team in
Charlotte, North Carolina, Rhode Island's Coventry Little League and Hansberry
College Prep in Chicago, according to its website and advertisements. Dozens of
college bookstores advertise their gear printed on Badger Sportswear, including
Texas A&M, University of Pennsylvania, Appalachian State University,
University of Northern Iowa, University of Evansville and Bates College.
However, it's impossible to say if any particular shirt is made with forced
the teams and schools that responded to the AP condemned forced labor.
chief executive Anton said Sunday that his company has sourced products from an
affiliate of Hetian Taida for many years. He said about a year ago, the
affiliate opened a new factory in western China. Anton confirmed Badger
Sportswear officials visited the factory and have a certificate that the
factory is certified by social compliance experts.
will voluntarily halt sourcing and will move production elsewhere while we
investigate the matters raised," he said.
Sportswear was acquired by New York investment firm CCMP Capital Advisor in
August 2016. Since then, CCMP has acquired three more team sportswear
companies, which they are managing under the umbrella of Founder Sport Group.
recent years, Badger imported sportswear _ jerseys, T-shirts, workout pants and
more _ from Nicaragua and Pakistan. But in April this year, it began importing
100 percent polyester T-shirts and pants from Hetian Taida Apparel, according
to US customs data provided by ImportGenius, which analyzes consumer shipments.
The address on the shipping records is the same as for the detention camp.
US and United Nations say forced labor is a type of modern slavery, and that
items made by people being exploited and coerced to work are banned from import
to the US.
unclear whether other companies also export products made by forced labor in
Xinjiang to the US, Europe and Asia. The AP found two companies exporting to
the US that share approximately the same coordinates as places experts have
identified as internment camps, and Chinese media reports mention
"training" there. But the AP could not confirm whether the companies use
Jersey Republican Congressman Chris Smith, a member of the House Foreign
Relations Committee, called on the Trump Administration Monday to ban imports
from Chinese companies associated with detention camps.
only is the Chinese government detaining over a million Uyghurs and other
Muslims, forcing them to revoke their faith and profess loyalty to the
Communist Party, they are now profiting from their labor," said Smith.
"US consumers should not be buying and US businesses should not importing
goods made in modern-day concentration camps."
state security under President Xi Jinping The detention camp system is part of
China's increasingly stringent state security under President Xi Jinping. Some
detainees told AP earlier this year about beating, solitary confinement and
other punishments if they do not recite political songs, names and phrases. The
AP has not been given access to these facilities despite repeated attempts to
get permission to visit.
all the camps have forced labor. Many former detainees say they were held in
facilities that didn't have any manufacturing equipment and focused solely on
didn't teach me anything. They were brainwashing me, trying to make us believe
how great China is, how powerful it is, how developed its economy is,"
said Kairat Samarkan, a Kazakh citizen who said he was tortured with a metal
contraption that contorts your body before being released in February after he
tried to kill himself.
described a wave of factory openings earlier this year. Ex-detainee Orynbek
Koksebek said that shortly before his release in April, the director strode
into his class and announced that a factory would be built in the camp.
Koksebek, who cannot speak Mandarin, listened to a policeman as he translated
the director's words into Kazakh for the roughly 90 women and 15 men in the
going to open a factory, you're going to work," Koksebek recalled him as
saying. "We'll teach you how to cook, how to sew clothes, how to fix
fall, months after Koksebek's release, news began trickling into Kazakhstan
that the Chinese government was starting forced labor in internment camps and
would transfer some detainees out into gated, guarded factories. The workers
must live in dormitories on factory grounds. Contact with family ranges from
phone calls or in-person visits, to weekends at home under police surveillance.
October, Chinese authorities acknowledged the existence of what they called
vocational training centers. State media published an interview with Shohret
Zahir, the governor of Xinjiang, saying that "some trainees" were
nearly done with their "courses."
will try to achieve a seamless connection between school teaching and social
employment, so that after finishing their courses, the trainees will be able to
find jobs and earn a well-off life," Zahir said.
forced labor program goes along with a massive government initiative to develop
Xinjiang's economy by constructing enormous factory parks. Another internment
camp the AP visited was inside a factory compound called Kunshan Industrial Park,
opened under the national anti-poverty push. A local propaganda official, Chen
Fang, said workers inside made food and clothes.
hospital, a police station, smokestacks, dormitories and a building with a sign
that read "House of Workers" could be seen from outside the
surrounding barbed wire fencing. Another section resembled a prison, with guard
towers and high walls. The AP did not track any exports from Kunshan to the US Many
of those with relatives in such camps said their loved ones were well-educated
with high-paying jobs before their arrest, and did not need a poverty
alleviation program. Nurbakyt Kaliaskar, a sheepherder's wife in Kazakhstan,
said her daughter, Rezila Nulale, 25, was a college graduate with a well-paid
advertising job in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, where she lived a typical
urban lifestyle with a computer, a washing machine and an apartment in the city
last August, after returning from a visit to her family across the border in
Kazakhstan, Nulale vanished. She didn't answer phone calls and stopped showing
up to work.
months later a stranger contacted Kaliaskar online and confirmed her fear: her
daughter had been detained for "political training." The next spring,
she said she fainted when two cases of her daughter's clothes were delivered to
her home in Kazakhstan.
month, Kaliaskar got word via a friend who knows the family that Nulale was
working in a factory next to the camp where she had been detained. The friend
had heard from Kaliaskar's brother, who had visited Nulale, bringing medicine
for an injured hand.
learned her daughter wasn't being paid and had to meet a daily quota of three
articles of clothing. She couldn't leave.
uncle thought she looked pale and thin.
say they're teaching her to weave clothes. But the thing is, she's well
educated and had a job," said Kaliaskar. "What's the point of this
detainee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect himself and his
family members, said other detainees from his camp also had been forced into
jobs at factories far away. They were taken to a government office and handed
labor contracts for six months to five years in a distant factory, which they
were required to sign.
they ran from the factories, they were warned, they'd be taken straight back to
the camps for "further education."
herders and manual laborers with little Mandarin and no higher education say
they appreciated Beijing's past initiatives to help the poor, including
subsidized housing and the installation of electricity and running water. But
the camps, the forced education, and the factories, they say, go too far.
never asked the government to find work for my husband," said Mainur
Medetbek, whose husband did odd repair jobs before vanishing into a camp in
February during a visit to China from their home in Kazakhstan.
has been able to glean a sense of his conditions from monitored exchanges with
relatives and from the husband of a woman who is in the same camp. He works in
an apparel factory and is allowed to leave and spend the night with relatives every
other Saturday. Though she's not certain how much her husband makes, the woman
in his camp earns 600 yuan (about $87) a month, less than half the local
minimum wage and far less than what Medetbek's husband used to earn.
her husband was detained, Medetbek and her children have had no reliable source
of income and sometimes go hungry.
ordeal has driven her to occasionally contemplate suicide.
say it's a factory, but it's an excuse for detention. They don't have freedom,
there's no time for him to talk with me," she said. "They say they
found a job for him. I think it's a concentration camp."
London-based pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) quoted
the local population in Eastern Syria as reporting on Wednesday that the ISIL
has secretly executed over 700 defected members who had been in prison on
added that the execution operations were carried out at ISIL bases and
detention centers in the towns of al-Sha'afah, al-Souseh and Baqouz and a
number of villages in Eastern Euphrates, noting that tens of other people have
fled the regions occupied by the terrorist group.
to the report, the ISIL has also transferred nearly 350 to 400 of its prisoners
to Badiyeh (desert) region in Homs and Deir Ezzur.
ISIL terrorist group is infamous for its mass-executions and killing of
defected members and civilians.
a relevant development earlier this month, over 900 bodies were discovered in a
mass-grave in Albu Kamal region at the bordering areas between Iraq and Syria,
among them a large number of Iraqi opponents of the ISIL terrorist group.
of Hashd al-Shaabi (Iraqi popular forces) in al-Anbar province Qatari al-Obaidi
said last Wednesday that the mass-grave of ISIL victims included more than 900
corpses, most of them Iraqis.
added that most of the bodies belonged to the people who had been detained and
kept in ISIL prisons in al-Qa'em after voicing opposition to the occupation of
Western al-Anbar by the terrorists.
added that the ISIL terrorists had transferred and executed tens of inmates at
these prisons before the Iraqi security forces started military operations in
said that the terrorists are excavating historical sites in Qala Afamiya,
Hourtah, Um Nir and Tal Qarqour in al-Ghaab Planin in Northwestern Hama.
further said that Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the
Al-Nusra Front) carried out its largest excavation operation in Babsaqa region
at Syria's border with Iskandaroun North of Idlib city and in Bab al-Amoud and
al-Khatib regions, discovering and stealing artifacts almost $200 mln in value.
the meantime, the Turkistani Islamic Party has also been conducting excavations
in Jisr al-Shughour, specially in Tal Qarqour West of the town of Jisr
al-Shughourm, stealing artifacts over $800 mln in value.
week, the Syrian Foreign Ministry condemned what it said were illegal
excavation works by US, French and Turkish troops as well as their local allies
in areas of Syria under their control, including ancient sites at Manbij,
Afrin, Idlib, Hasaka, and Raqqa.
to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), a ministry official said that there had
been an increase in excavation work, looting, and theft of ancient cultural
actions represent a new war crime added to the crimes committed against the
Syrian people and Syrian heritage", the official said. According to
Damascus, the looting of Syria's historical treasures is part of a deliberate
plot by terrorist organizations and their backers to rob the Syrian people of
their past and destroy the country's civilizational and cultural heritage.
Foreign Ministry called on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to condemn the alleged violations and expose
those who stand behind them.
is home to some of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the world,
and contains cultural artifacts from numerous ancient empires. Amid the war in
Syria archeologists worldwide have looked on in horror as terrorists looted and
destroyed priceless artifacts in areas under their control.
Foreign Ministry statement follows remarks by Mahmoud Hammoud, director general
of Syria's museums and antiquities, alleging that the US, France, and Kurdish
militias were carrying out illegal excavations in northern Syria in areas under
their control, including "archeological tombs in the eastern side of
hope that the Syrian Army will return peace and security to all those areas
soon because it's the only force capable of protecting our heritage",
is chaos': Republican fury, Kurdish fear at Trump's pullout plan
Donald Trump has declared victory over Islamic State and ordered a withdrawal
of US forces from Syria in a sharp reversal of American policy that appeared to
take the Pentagon by surprise and leave America's Kurdish allies in the lurch.
have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump
Presidency," Trump said on Wednesday morning, Washington time, on Twitter.
announcement left key details unanswered – such as a timetable for withdrawal,
whether all troops would be pulled out and whether airstrikes would continue.
decision drew bipartisan criticism from US lawmakers who said it leaves Syria's
future in the hands of Moscow and Tehran, allies of President Bashar al-Assad
whose intervention in the conflict averted his potential defeat in a conflict
that started more than seven years ago.
is chaos," said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who said earlier on
Twitter that the move would be a "boost to ISIS" and a "huge
who has served as a key adviser to Trump and plays golf with him frequently,
said he'd be meeting Defence Secretary Jim Mattis later in the day to try and
understand the situation.
discussed the potential withdrawal with Trump a week ago, according to one
official who declined to say how the defence chief reacted.
a video posted on Twitter later on Wednesday, Trump said, "I get very
saddened when I have to write letters or call parents or wives or husbands of
soldiers who have been killed fighting for our country. It's a great honour. We
cherish them. But it's heartbreaking," Trump said.
we've won. It's time to come back."
Dubowitz, the chief executive officer of the Foundation for Defense of
Democracies who has closely advised the Trump administration on Iran policy,
said that "pulling US troops out of Syria would be a gift to Putin and to
the mullahs in Tehran. And it would be a disastrous gift for the region."
US military is working to carry out Trump's order quickly, according to one
official with knowledge of the plan.
it wasn't clear what the President's decision would mean for vulnerable Kurdish
allies. Turkey – a NATO ally – views the Kurdish fighters as terrorists, and
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to crush them.
order was met with silence in Ankara, where the foreign ministry and Erdogan's
office refrained from making any immediate public comments on the news. Turkish
officials expressed caution as the details of the US plan remained unclear.
a White House statement after Trump's tweet, spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders
said America has "started returning United States troops home as we
transition to the next phase of this campaign," although she didn't
comment on the pace of that withdrawal.
United States and our allies stand ready to re-engage at all levels to defend
American interests whenever necessary," she added.
recently as Tuesday, administration officials disputed the idea that Islamic
State is defeated and suggested US involvement would continue.
we've learnt one thing over the years, enduring defeat of a group like this
means you can't just defeat their physical space and then leave," Brett
McGurk, the administration's special envoy to the global coalition to defeat
ISIS, said on December 11. "You have to make sure the internal security
forces are in place to ensure that those gains, security gains, are enduring.
So that will take some time."
Trump has long pressed the military to withdraw from Syria, saying in April
that he would make a decision "very quickly."
want to get out, I want to bring the troops back home, I want to start
rebuilding our nation," Trump said at a news conference at the time. He
added that "our primary mission" of fighting Islamic State is
after Trump's announcement, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said "the
campaign against ISIS is not over." But she offered little insight on the
withdrawal, saying in a statement that largely repeated White House talking points
that "for force protection and operational security reasons we will not
provide further details".
with the president's declaration of victory, it was less than two weeks ago
that Mattis said "there's more work to be done" in Syria.
to veteran Islamic State fighters still holding out in the Syrian conflict,
Mattis said, "That hardened core means tough fighting there plus the
potential for it to try to become more influential worldwide. Influential
meaning inspiring attacks by surrogates, by those who've pledged allegiance to
the scenes, Israel has supported a continuing US presence, arguing that it
helps counter pro-Iranian forces such as Hezbollah. Publicly, Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu was supportive, saying on Wednesday that he was informed of
the decision by Trump on Monday.
American administration told me that it is the President's intention to
withdraw their forces from Syria," Netanyahu said in a statement.
made it clear that they have other ways of expressing their influence in the
area. In any case we will take care to maintain the security of Israel and to
defend ourselves in this area."
Tabler, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said
the US plan appears to have resulted at least in part from recent talks between
Trump and Erdogan.
developments followed the State Department's decision late on Tuesday to
support the sale of a American missile defense system to Turkey – an effort
that had been held up by Ankara's decision to buy a competing Russian system.
reports 'positive' results from latest round of US-Taliban talks
United Arab Emirates has reported tangible and positive results from the latest
round of talks between the United States and Afghanistan’s Taliban militant
group which was held in the capital Abu Dhabi.
"US-Taliban reconciliation talks" produced "tangible results
that are positive for all parties concerned," state news agency WAM said
new round of talks would be held in Abu Dhabi "to complete the Afghanistan
reconciliation process," the new agency said, without elaborating.
from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan also attended the two days of discussions, which
began in the city on Monday.
meetings are the latest in a flurry of diplomatic efforts aimed at putting an
end to a 17-year-old war in Afghanistan which began with the US invasion in
US State Department's special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, said he held
"productive" meetings in Abu Dhabi with Afghan and international
partners "to promote intra-Afghan dialogue towards ending the
peace negotiations team of the Kabul government also traveled to Abu Dhabi “to
begin proximity dialogue with the Taliban delegation and to prepare for a
face-to-face meeting between the two sides,” the Afghan presidential spokesman
Haroon Chakhansuri said.
Taliban, however, has not acknowledged meeting Afghan officials. The group said
Tuesday they had held "preliminary talks" with Khalilzad.
militant group also said they had held "extensive" meetings with
delegates from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE - the only three countries to
recognize the Taliban government during its five-year rule in the late 1990s,
reiterating demands for international troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan.
al-Adavi nom de guerre Abu Musa was gunned down by unknown raiders near the
village of Safouhan in Jabal al-Zawiyah on Tuesday, the sources said.
added that, meantime, Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the
Al-Nusra Front) has started storming the positions of rival terrorists from the
ISIL in Southern Idlib, arresting a number of them.
sources said that fresh wave of tension has covered the town of Fua'a North of
Idlib city after Tahrir al-Sham expelled the families of tens of terrorists
from the town.
week, Al-Watan online quoted sources, affiliated to Ahrar al-Sham terrorist
group which is supported by the Turkey-backed National Liberation Front, as
disclosing that Tahrir al-Sham has rolled down the flag of the Turkey-backed
militants from its bases and used a new black flag after a meeting in Bab
al-Hawa near the border with Turkey over reforming its command structure known
as the Liberation Front.
went on to say that Tahrir al-Sham's move in defiance of the Turkish Army was
considered as declaring war against the Ankara-backed militants in Northern
Syria that can trigger tough battle between Tahrir al-Sham and Ankara forces in
said that Tahrir al-Sham's move has enraged the commanders of the Ankara-backed
militants, specially commanders of the National Liberation Front, who blame
Tahrir al-Sham for thwarting Ankara's attempts to unite all terrorist groups
under a flag in occupied regions in Northern Syria.
of people in the small town of al-Shoheil in Eastern Deir Ezzur took to the
main street and protested against the SDF's fuel plundering in the region.
protestors closed off the streets and engaged in armed clash with the SDF,
killing two of them and wounding several more.
protestors further moved towards al-Umar oilfield, but, the SDF blocked their
access to the oilfield, cordoning off the area.
SFD further sent more gunmen to the regions on the outskirts of the town and
kept them on alert.
in Eastern Deir Ezzur controlled by the SDF are suffering from drinking water,
electric power and fuel shortages.
Arabic-language Moraseloun news website reported that, according to satellite
images, the SDF stole Syria's oil and transferred and stored in hundreds of
tankers North of Raqqa city.
further added that the total number of the stolen tankers stands at 1,925,
adding that the tankers were trafficking Syria's oil to Iraq and Turkey on a
Saudi-led Arab coalition destroyed a drone and its launch pad on Wednesday at
Sanaa International Airport.
coalition said that the drone was in the preparation stage for its launch
before it was destroyed.
Turki Al-Maliki said that the targeting was consistent with international
humanitarian law and its customary rules, especially that all preventive measures
had been taken.
Coalition also pointed out that the Houthi militia, using Sanaa airport as a
military barracks, was in violation of international humanitarian law.
on Wednesday, the coalition also accused the Houthi militia of breaking the
Hodeidah agreement, warning that the ceasefire would collapse if the violations
continued and the United Nations did not intervene quickly.
rebels have broken the agreement on 21 occasions since its entry into force on
Monday night,” a coalition source told AFP. “There are indications on the
ground that they chose to ignore the agreement.”
Saudi Arabia, represented by Mohammed bin Naif Center for Counseling and Care
and General Directorate of Combating Extremism of the Ministry of Interior,
took part in a workshop organized by the 9th session of the Global
Counterterrorism Forum held in Melbourne, Australia.
governments of Indonesia and Australia co-chaired the event. Saudi officials
highlighted the Kingdom’s efforts in combating terrorism and the strategies the
country has adopted to fight the menace.
The General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)
welcomes the adoption of a resolution on cooperation between the UN and the OIC
at the plenary session of the UN General Assembly on Dec. 13.
resolution urges the UN system to cooperate with the OIC in areas of mutual
interest and invites the UN to consider providing increased technical
assistance to the OIC and its subsidiary organs.
eye on Taliban, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan urge trilateral cooperation
Minister Salahuddin Rabbani of Afghanistan, State Councillor and Foreign
Minister Wang Yi of China, and Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi
of Pakistan held the 2nd Afghanistan-China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue
in Kabul on 15 December 2018.
is being seen as a significant development considering the prospects of US
engaging in direct dialogue with the Taliban. On this occasion, China and
Pakistan congratulated Afghanistan on the completion of the parliamentary
elections and welcomed the efforts of the Afghan government for holding the
presidential elections in 2019.
what transpired during this meeting has larger ramifications beyond mere
pleasantries. A statement released on the occasion said that the three sides
reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthening their relations, deepening
cooperation, and advancing connectivity under the Belt and Road Initiative
(BRI), Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) and
other regional economic initiatives.
three sides agreed to promote China-Afghanistan-Pakistan trilateral cooperation
under the framework of jointly building the Belt and Road Initiative. The three
sides reiterated their strong resolve to fight terrorism in all its forms and
manifestations, and without any distinction,” said the statement.
three Foreign Ministers agreed to jointly continue their efforts for building
political mutual trust and support reconciliation, development cooperation and
connectivity, security cooperation and counter-terrorism as the three areas of
the trilateral cooperation, said the statement.
three sides reiterated their support to the Afghan-owned, and Afghan led
inclusive peace process that is fully supported regionally and internationally,
as the most viable way to bring peace in Afghanistan,” it said.
and Pakistan appreciated the efforts of President Ghani especially for the
comprehensive peace plans that came out of the second Kabul Process and the
Geneva Conferences on Afghanistan, and therefore called on the Afghan Taliban
to join the peace process at an early date.
efforts are underway to start the peace process, the three sides call upon the
parties concerned to end violence and the loss of innocent lives in
Afghanistan,” the statement said.
three sides agreed to continue economic development cooperation in areas of
mutual interest and promised to continue to implement and expand the “soft”
projects such as exchange and capacity building programs and explore “hard”
projects of livelihood facilities and connectivity.
supports enhanced coordination between Afghanistan and Pakistan on major energy
and connectivity projects including the construction of Quetta-Kandahar railway
and Kabul-Peshawar Motorway and Railway. The three sides reiterated their firm
commitment to implement the activities and projects agreed to under practical
cooperation,” said the statement.
three sides took stock of trilateral cooperation in their fight against
terrorism and underlined the need to further strengthen counter-terrorism
coordination and cooperation in an effort to combat all terrorist groups and
individuals without any discrimination.
also agreed to counter terrorist’ logistical capabilities including financing,
recruitment, training, and strengthen trilateral cooperation for
counter-terrorism capacity building.
the sides expressed determination to deny terrorist use of the internet and to
take joint steps for de-radicalization, as well as work together to break the
nexus between narco-trade and terror financing.
advance their cooperation in the fields of Counter-Terrorism, the three sides
signed the MoU on Counter-Terrorism. The 3rd Afghanistan-China-Pakistan Foreign
Ministers’ Dialogue would be held in Islamabad in 2019.
Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said on Wednesday that the
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) planned to file a disqualification reference in
the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) against Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)
co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari for concealing his assets.
Zardari has an apartment in the US but he failed to mention it in the statement
of assets filed with the ECP and, therefore, is liable to be disqualified under
Articles 62, 63 of the constitution,” Mr Chaudhry said at a press conference
outside the Parliament House.
PTI has given the responsibility to Khurram Sherzaman, an MPA from Sindh, to
file a reference in the ECP against Mr Zardari in a day or two.”
PPP leader is a member of the National Assembly from NA-213, Shaheed
Zardari was required to declare that property under Articles 62 and 63, which
he did not, therefore, he is not eligible to be a lawmaker,” the information
minister said as he read out the address of the property. “Considering his
reputation it is hard to believe that there would be only one apartment not
acknowledged,” he added. “Scrutiny is under way in Sindh too to unearth his
Chaudhry said the PTI government was delivering on its promise of a ‘corruption-free
Pakistan’ and reiterated that there was no future for Mr Zardari and Nawaz
Sharif in politics.
agencies have been given a free hand to investigate any politician, regardless
of party affiliation, if their activities are suspicious,” he said.
an apparent reference to PML-N leaders Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif, the
minister said corruption investigations were initiated against some political
leaders at a time when their own parties were in power. “Only that the relevant
departments were stopped from further inquiries,” he added.
have only provided independence to the relevant departments, and all these
corrupt elements are becoming zero as cases are appearing against them,” the
reply to a question about the property owned by Federal Minister for Water
Resources Faisal Vawda in the UK, he said Mr Vawda had declared the property in
his statement of assets filed with the ECP.
fuss has been created by Abid Sher Ali of the PML-N through social media and one
mainstream newspaper even carried the story without confirming it,” Mr Chaudhry
about an ongoing inquiry against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood
Khan, he said the National Accountability Bureau was investigating the matter.
said the overall perception about Pakistan was changing and the world could see
that the country’s system was becoming more transparent due to the PTI’s
anti-corruption stance and, as a result, foreign companies were again putting
their confidence in the country.
Chaudhry said, “The difference between Prime Minister Imran Khan and previous
rulers is that the current policies are based on compassion on the pattern of
the state of Madina.”
to repatriation of Indian spy Hamid Nehal Ansari, he said his return was an
example of the government’s compassion, and recalled that the premier had asked
Indian journalists who visited Pakistan to attend the Kartarpur border crossing
opening ceremony to urge their government to put an end to offences committed by
the state forces against Kashmiri citizens in occupied Kashmir.
[Pakistan and India] can talk about the Kashmir issue but the injustices being
committed against Kashmiri citizens must stop,” Mr Chaudhry said.
a rejoinder to the minister’s claim about Mr Zardari owning an apartment in the
US, PPP Deputy Information Secretary Munawar Anjum said, “There was a character
named Saif-ur-Rehman who used to claim similar things, but later he had to
kneel down before Asif Ali Zardari and seek pardon”.
A senior Pakistani diplomat on Wednesday said that the United Nations had
corrected Pakistan’s vote on the death penalty by including it among the votes
cast against the resolution calling for a moratorium on executions.
vote count at the UN General Assembly’s plenary session on a draft resolution
calling for a moratorium on executions by all states still retaining the death
penalty created a stir when Pakistan was shown as having voted for the first
time in favour of the resolution.
the voting held in New York on Monday, 121 UN member states were shown to have
voted in favour of the seventh resolution calling for a moratorium on capital
punishment, whereas 35 countries were said to have voted against the resolution
and 32 as having abstained. This was the highest number of countries to date to
have voted in favour of the moratorium resolutions since 2007.
Foreign Office, however, clarified that Pakistan’s vote had been erroneously
recorded by the UN.
spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal emphasised that the country had actually voted
against the resolution and there was no change in Pakistan’s position on the
in accordance with its consistent policy, voted against the General Assembly
resolution calling for a moratorium on execution,” Dr Faisal said.
unofficial moratorium on the death penalty remained in place in Pakistan from
2008 till 2014.
the lifting of moratorium, Pakistani authorities have executed 496 convicts,
accounting for 13 per cent of all global executions from 2015 to 2017,
according to Justice Project Pakistan, a non-governmental organisation working
for prisoners’ rights. While explaining the voting episode, the Pakistani
diplomat said: “Votes on various draft resolutions at the UN General Assembly
and in its main committees are recorded electronically. At times, due to
technical reasons, the transmitting machines do not relay the intended vote
correctly on the screen displayed in the UNGA Chamber and the meeting rooms”.
rules of procedure allow member states to approach the department of general
assembly and conference management and make necessary corrections, the diplomat
said, adding that “it is a procedural matter and happens routinely. The
Secretariat then records the vote change, and reflects it also in the verbatim
record of the meeting”.
military alliance not set up to counter any country or sect, Raheel Sharif
army chief retired Gen Raheel Sharif on Wednesday denied the impression that
the 41-nation Saudi-led military coalition that he heads was established to
counter a specific country or sect, according to a statement issued by the
made these remarks during the visit of a Senate delegation led by Chairman
Sadiq Sanjrani to the Islamic Military Counterterrorism Coalition (IMCTC)
headquarters in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh.
Senate delegation was welcomed to the IMCTC headquarters by Sharif, the
coalition's commander, and General Abdul Rehman, the deputy commander.
the visit, the former army chief briefed the Senate delegation about the
performance and aims and objectives of the military alliance.
Islamic military coalition was not formed to take action against any country,
nation or sect," Sharif was quoted as saying.
primary objective of this institution is to counter terrorism and eliminate
it," Sharif was quoted as saying by the Senate Secretariat.
senators during the meeting lauded the resolve and efforts of the Saudi king
and government to end terrorism.
about the Saudi military alliance
appointment of Raheel Sharif as the leader of the Saudi military alliance last
year had sparked a debate over how the move will impact Pakistan's foreign
policy, and whether it was fully sanctioned by the parliament.
41-nation armed 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
quarters subsequently raised concerns about the nature of the alliance and how
it may affect a pre-existing parliamentary resolution on Yemen passed
unanimously by lawmakers calling for "neutrality in the conflict" in
Shah says he fears for his children in India of today
Naseeruddin Shah says that he is worried for children in today's India. He's
worried because he imagines a situation where his children may be surrounded by
an angry mob and asked: "Are you Hindu or Muslim?"
children will have no answer," Naseeruddin Shah says, "Because we
chose not to give a religious education to our children."
Shah also says that there is a "poison" that has spread in the Indian
society. "It will be very difficult to capture this djinn [genie] back
into the bottle."
is complete impunity for those who take the law into their own hands,"
Naseeruddin says. "We have already witnessed that the death of a cow has
more significance [in today's India] than that of a police officer."
was referring to the recent Bulandshahr violence in which a police officer was
killed by a mob. The violence was sparked by the discovery of cow carcasses.
Uttar Pradesh Police has arrested three people in connection with the alleged
cow slaughter. The policeman's killers remain free.
Shah's comments were put online by Karwan-e-Mohabbat India (Caravan of Love), a
travelling activist collective that is focussed on highlight and combating
instances of hate crimes and lynching.
a short YouTube video (you can watch the full video at the end of this story)
put up by Karwan-e-Mohabbat India, Naseeruddin Shah says that he worries for
was given a religious education...But Ratna [Pathak Shah, Naseeruddin's wife]
did not get any religious education...[And] we chose not to give a religious
education to our children," Naseeruddin says.
adds that he believes "good and evil have nothing to do with
religion" and so his children were not brought up in a religious
I fear for my children...Because if a mob gathers around them and asks them are
you a Hindu or Muslim, they will not have any answer...Because they have no
religion," Naseeruddin says, before signing off with: "I am angry and
I believe every right-thinking man must be angry and must not fear."
sharp reactions came in from political quarters to Naseeruddin Shah's comments.
Sena MP Arvind Sawant called Naseeruddin's statement "a blunder" and
said that he "deplores" the actor's comments.
his kids are caught in a mob they should say they are Hindustani (Indians) Why
are they scared?" Sawant questioned.
Sabha MP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ideologue Rakesh Sinha too reacted to
Naseeruddin Shah's comments.
Shah [sic] should first ask Rohingyas to leave Hindustan as according to him
India is unsafe for him and his family," Sinha said in a tweet before
suggesting that Shah was becoming part of a "sinister design of anti cil
[civil] society propaganda".
statement shows his low thinking," Sinha also said.
searches homes of Islamic State suspects in Tamil Nadu
National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday conducted searches at seven
locations in Tamil Nadu in connection with the arrest of seven suspected
Islamic State recruits from Chennai in September this year. The agency claimed
the searches were conducted at the residences (three places in Chennai, three
in Coimbatore and one in Trivandrum, District Villupuram) of the seven arrested
accused in the case.
the searches conducted, a large number of digital devices including mobile
phones, SIM cards, memory cards, CDs/ DVDs with religious speeches and pen
drives besides unaccounted cash, books and publications with incriminating
content have been seized from the residences of accused persons,” an NIA
case was originally registered by the Coimbatore police and later transferred
to NIA. According to NIA, a “criminal conspiracy” was “hatched by the accused
with the intention of furthering the objectives of the proscribed terrorist
organization ISIS/ Daish by targeting prominent persons from other faiths”.
case began with the arrest of five youth from Coimbatore by the local police.
These included Ashiq (25), Ismail (25) from Dindivanam, Salavuddin (25) from
Otteri, Jafar Sadiq Ali (29) from Vyasarpadi near Chennai and Shamsuddin (20)
from Pallavaram in Chennai.
police statement had then said all of them were “active in defending radical
Islam and posted on social media against those who criticise Islam and
Ismail’s alleged confession, the statement had then said Ashiq had promised
them help from more people for their “operation” and that Ismail had links with
the Islamic State. The statement said some of the accused were members of the
Indian National League (INL) — an outfit found 10 years ago with the objective
of preventing Muslim youths from joining radical groups — and they also
supported Islamic State’s ideology.
that the alleged conspiracy was to be carried out during the Ganesh Chaturthi
celebrations, the police statement had said the arrests were also significant
in view of the two murders in Coimbatore — that of Hindu Munnani spokesperson C
Sasikumar in 2016 and of atheist H Farook in 2017. The role of radical Muslim
groups is suspected in both cases.
police had then said Ashiq, who worked at a mutton shop, was being watched for
over six months since he was linked to a case under the POCSO Act for allegedly
abusing schoolchildren. Among the five, the officer said, two had completed
their Bachelor’s degree, one had a diploma in a technical course and others had
men arrested on charges of slaughtering cows, which led to the mob violence in
Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr earlier this month that had resulted in the death
of a police inspector and another person, were falsely implicated by district
convener of Bajrang Dal, Yogesh Raj, police said on Wednesday.
Sajid, Asif and Nanhe, who were arrested on December 4 on the basis of a
complaint lodged by Raj on December 3, will be released soon, officials said.
is a key accused in the violence in Syana area of Bulandshahr during which
police inspector Subodh Kumar Singh and a villager Sumit Kumar were killed. He
is yet to be arrested.
senior superintendent of police (SSP) Prabhakar Chowdhary said their innocence
was established after three people, Kala, Nadeem and Raees, were arrested on
three men, along with four others (still on the run), were involved in cow
slaughter in Mahaw village. Recovery of the carcasses dumped by them led to the
violence resulting in the death of inspector Subodh Kumar Singh and Sumit,” he
said efforts were on to arrest the four absconding men, including the main
have ample evidence against the people arrested on Tuesday. A four-wheeler,
knives, rope and a licensed double-barrel gun, which belonged to Nadeem, have
been recovered. Nadeem’s gun was used to shoot stray cows in the jungle before
slaughtering them,” he said.
will submit a report under Section 169 of the CrPC (release of accused due to
deficient evidence) for their release,” the SSP said.
receives Christians from all over the world- except Gaza
announced that it was done with preparations for Christmas celebrations, and
was ready to receive tourists and visitors on Monday. However, the Israeli authorities
will not grant Christians in the Gaza Strip travel permits to visit the holy
city this year, nor will they allow them to visit their relatives in Jerusalem
or anywhere in the West Bank, according to a human rights organization.
Middle East Concern organization, which is concerned with defending the rights
of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, said that Israel rejected
all requests by the Christians of Gaza for permits to enter Bethlehem, except
for ‘people over 55 years of age,’ which constituted only 400 permits.
it pointed out that Israel had accepted many permit requests by Christians from
Gaza before Christmas in the past years. Especially the ones that were
presented by the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, which in 2016 received
more than 600 permits during Christmas celebrations.
few days ago, the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities confirmed
that Bethlehem is witnessing an unprecedented number of tourists before
Christmas; which it considered “the most prosperous in the history of the city”
that Christians believe witnessed the birth of Jesus. They confirmed that “all
hotels in Bethlehem are fully booked.”
year’s celebrations occur amid a harsh humanitarian situation for the
Palestinians. On Monday, the UN and the Palestinian authorities had launched an
appeal to raise 350 million dollars to provide humanitarian aid supplies to
Palestinians for 2019. However, the World Food Programme (WFP) announced on
Wednesday cuts in food aid affecting about 190,000 impoverished Palestinians in
Gaza and the West Bank - half of all its recipients there, citing a severe
Yemen’s inferno of war, child soldiers are the ‘firewood’
The number etched on the bracelet around Mohammed’s wrist gave the 13-year-old
soldier comfort as missiles fired from enemy warplanes shook the earth beneath
two years Mohammed fought with Yemen’s Houthi militias against a military
coalition backed by the US. He says he tortured and killed people and didn’t
care whether he lived or died.
Houthis have inducted 18,000 child soldiers into their militia since the
beginning of the war in 2014, a senior Houthi military official acknowledged to
the AP. He spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the
figure is higher than any number previously reported. The UN was able to verify
2,721 children recruited to fight for all sides in the conflict, the large
majority for the Houthis, but officials say that count is likely low, because
many families will not speak about the issue out of fear of reprisals from
Al-Hamadi, a former deputy education minister who defected earlier this year
from the Houthi-controlled government in the north, said the children who are
targeted for recruitment are not the sons of important Houthi families or top
commanders. Instead, they are usually kids from poor tribes who are being used
“as firewood for this war.”
of the children told the AP they joined the terrorists willingly, mainly
because of promises of money or the chance to carry a weapon. But others
described being forced into the service of the Houthis — abducted from schools
or homes or coerced into joining in exchange for a family member’s release from
than 6,000 children have died or been maimed in Yemen since the beginning of
the war, UNICEF reported in October. But the UN agency has not been able to
determine how many of those minors were combatants and the Houthi-run Defense
Ministry does not release its records for casualties.
Al-Saadi, a Yemeni human rights activist who founded a Saudi-funded counseling
center in Marib for child warriors, said “the real problem with Houthi
recruitment of the children will be felt in 10 years — when a generation that
has been brainwashed with hatred and enmity toward the West comes of age.”
AP interviewed the 18 former child soldiers at displacement camps and a
counselling center in the city of Marib, which is controlled by the Arab
coalition. They had come to Marib after slipping away from rebel forces or
being captured by coalition units.
recruits are usually taken first to “culture centers” for religious courses
lasting nearly a month. Instructors read aloud to the children from the
lectures of the Houthi movement’s founder, Hussein Badr Eddin Al-Houthi, the
late brother of the current leader, Abdul-Malek Al-Houthi.
are told they are joining a holy war against Jews and Christians and Arab
countries that have succumbed to Western influence — and that if the boys die
fighting, they will go to heaven.
less than a month of boot camp, they are sent to war, wearing the bracelets
that are supposed to ensure that, if they die, they are returned to their
families and honored as martyrs.
Arab Coalition supporting the legitimate Yemeni government announced that it
has issued 24 permits for ships headed to Yemeni ports on Wednesday.
coalition said that those ships are carrying oil derivatives and foodstuffs.
statement added that they also issued 35 air permits, four land permits, and
169 permits for the protection of convoys.
total number of permits reached 232 within four days.
stated that one ship has been waiting to enter Hodeidah’s port for the past
the coalition said it struck a Houthi air base next to Sanaa’s international
airport earlier on Wednesday, destroying a rocket launcher and a drone that was
preparing to carry out an attack.
report by a Palestinian human rights center reveals that Israeli forces have
killed at least 54 Palestinian children and arrested over 900 others since the
beginning of 2018.
human rights center reported that 80 percent of the children were killed during
demonstrations in the so-called buffer zone in the Gaza strip.
report also condemned what it described as Israel’s systematic violation of
Palestinian children’s rights.
to the group’s investigation, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Study and
Documentation, Israel's rights violation is not limited to trial of children in
military courts, but it starts from the moment of arrest.
report said Israelis carry out interrogation sessions in which children are
often handcuffed, blindfolded, beaten and insulted.
latest child victim, from Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, was only four years old.
the beginning of 2018, more than 310 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli
forces, almost all unarmed civilians, the report added.
report almost confirms an earlier toll announced by renowned children rights
NGO Defense for Children International – Palestine, which said last month the
Israeli military troopers had shot and killed more than 50 Palestinian children
in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip so far this year.
late October, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said the occupying Israeli
army “has been deliberately targeting and killing Palestinian children.”
is a clear war crime in violation of international law and international
humanitarian law,” Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO's executive committee,
said on Oct. 29.
continuous campaign of excessive and indiscriminate violence against the people
of Gaza has persisted with impunity and has been emboldened by the US
administration's strategic alliance with Israel,” she added.
240 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces ever since anti-occupation
protest rallies began in the Gaza Strip on March 30. Over 22,000 Palestinians
have also sustained injuries.
Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14, 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.
lawmakers have initially approved a piece of legislation that gives the
go-ahead for the forced displacement of the family members of Palestinians
accused of launching anti-Israel attacks.
Wednesday approval is expected to enable the forced displacement within the
West Bank of the family members of the Palestinians allegedly attacking Israeli
statement from the Israeli parliament noted the bill was voted 69-38 in a stormy
session, during which Arab lawmakers were expelled from the chamber for
bill would enable the Israeli regime to expel family members from one West Bank
location to another within seven days of an attack, or attempted attack, by
will now be debated and voted upon in the parliament's foreign and defense
committee, before returning to the chamber for final readings by lawmakers.
move was initiated by Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s rightist
party Jewish Home, which described Wednesday's vote "a huge step in the
right direction" aimed at "ensuring the security of Israel".
regime's ministry of judicial affairs, however, said such legislation would
violate both Israeli and international law.
is legal prevention from advancing this proposed legislation," the
ministry said in a statement on Monday. "In addition, this proposal
creates significant difficulties in the international arena."
if passed, the legislation could subsequently be blocked if a legal challenge
is launched successfully at the regime’s high court.
disputed bill, also tabled by the Jewish Home party, was on Wednesday approved
in a preliminary reading by 61 votes to 47.
bill is aimed at legalizing unauthorized housing within settlements recognized
as lawful by Israel.
military aircraft have carried out a string of airstrikes against the Sana'a
International Airport and al-Dailami airbase in the Yemeni capital city as the
Riyadh regime presses ahead with its atrocious aerial bombardment campaign against
its impoverished southern neighbor.
unnamed military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Yemen’s
Arabic-language al-Masirah television network that the Saudi jets launched
three attacks against the strategic sites on Wednesday afternoon, without
providing any information about the extent of damage caused.
Saudi-led coalition fighting on the side of former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh
Mansur Hadi claimed in a statement, carried by Saudi Arabia’s state-run
al-Ekhbariya television news network, that it had targeted an unmanned aerial
vehicle, and “destroyed the aircraft that was in the process of preparing to be
airstrikes are the first of their kind ever since delegates from the Houthi
Ansarullah movement and Saudi-backed Hadi loyalists agreed on a truce for the
port city of Hudaydah following UN-sponsored peace talks in Sweden last week.
on Wednesday, a Saudi reconnaissance drone was seen hovering in the skies over
al-Tuhayat district in Yemen’s western coastal province of Hudaydah.
Saudi warplanes mounted four airstrikes against al-Mazraq area in the Harad
district of the northwestern Yemeni province of Hajjah. There were no immediate
reports about possible casualties and the extent of damage caused.
Yemeni army soldiers and allied fighters from Popular Committees carried out an
offensive against several positions of Saudi mercenaries in the Nihm district
of Sana’a province, leaving scores of the militiamen dead and injured.
Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating military
campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing the government
of Hadi back to power and crushing Ansarullah movement.
to a new 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.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday Hezbollah had shut
down plants to develop precision-guided missiles but was imperiling Lebanon
with a cross-border tunnel network he deemed "an act of war".
spoke hours before the UN Security Council was due to discuss Hezbollah, an
Iranian-backed Lebanese group, and appeared aimed at swaying world powers to
order stronger intervention by UN peacekeepers.
deems Hezbollah, against which it fought an inconclusive war in 2006, its most
potent foe. Israeli forces have repeatedly struck suspected Hezbollah arms
transfers via Syria during its civil war, but avoid such action in Lebanon.
and the United States believe Hezbollah has sought homegrown production of
precision-guided missiles that could paralyse Israeli civilian infrastructure.
the United Nations on Sept. 7, Netanyahu identified three such plants around
Beirut airport - a disclosure that Lebanon's foreign minister, a political ally
of Hezbollah, dismissed at the time as fabricated.
underground sites for precision conversion of missiles, which (Israeli)
military intelligence gave me, to expose, those sites were closed,"
Netanyahu told a conference on Wednesday.
are trying to open other sites," he said, without elaborating. Hezbollah
hoped to have thousands of precision-guided missiles by now but instead had
"at most, a few dozen", according to Netanyahu.
a separate speech to parliament, Netanyahu focused on four tunnels uncovered
this month, whose presence were confirmed by UNIFIL peacekeepers and which
Israel says were to be used for infiltrations of its northern villages.
has not commented on the tunnels.
is not merely an act of aggression. It is an act of war," Netanyahu said.
is fully committed to the UN resolution that ended the 2006 war, its Foreign
Ministry said in a statement.
ministry called on the Lebanese army "to take all necessary measures to
ensure (the resolution) is well implemented in coordination with UNIFIL forces,
especially in light of the tensions at the border in recent days."
added that it had not seen any "engineering works" being done on its
side of the border.
accused UNIFIL of inaction, saying Hezbollah's rocket arsenal has grown tenfold
since 2006 and that every third home in southern Lebanon was being used by the
of Islam receiving federal cash to teach prisoners
Nation of Islam and its leaders have received hundreds of thousands of dollars
from the U.S. government since 2008 to teach religious study programs for
federal prison inmates, according to records reviewed by the Washington
black nationalist group led by Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam preaches
that white people are “blue-eyed devils” and Jews are “the synagogue of
Satan." Its leaders have received at least $364,500 in contracts and
awards from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Justice between
fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2019.
funding was designed to provide "Nation of Islam religious services,"
"Nation of Islam spiritual guide services," "Nation of Islam
study services," and other related programming led by the organization’s leaders,
according to Bureau of Prison records. The Nation of Islam has been labeled a
hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
York Republican Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security
Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, told the Washington Examiner
the funding was "beyond the pale."
said: "Categorically, no group or entity or individual associated any way
with Farrakhan or the Nation of Islam should receive any federal funding. What
Farrakhan preaches is hatred and anti-Semitism and racism, and to use any
federal money for any group that’s he’s involved with that do any type of
teaching or proselytizing is just wrong."
accuses 500 more Catholic clergy of child sexual abuse
Catholic Church in the US state of Illinois failed to properly investigate at
least 500 priests accused of sexually abusing children, the Illinois attorney
general said Wednesday.
preliminary report issued by Attorney General Lisa Madigan reveals that the
scope of sexual abuse accusations against the Catholic Church in Illinois is
far greater than previously acknowledged.
six dioceses in Illinois had previously identified 185 clergy members credibly
accused of sexually abusing children, but the attorney general found that in
the case of an additional 500 members facing similar accusations the Church
failed to properly investigate or did not investigate at all.
choosing not to thoroughly investigate allegations, the Catholic Church has
failed in its moral obligation to provide survivors, parishioners and the public a complete and
accurate accounting of all sexually inappropriate behavior involving priests in
Illinois," Madigan said in a statement. "The failure to investigate
also means that the Catholic Church has never made an effort to determine
whether the conduct of the accused priests was ignored or covered up by
was unclear when the abuses occurred. Some of the cases date back decades and
include accused predator priests who are now deceased.
Blase Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, expressed regret but said that the Church
had taken steps to investigate sexual abuse and support those who suffered at
the hands of the clergy.
want to express again the profound regret of the whole church for our failures
to address the scourge of clerical sexual abuse. It is the courage of
victim-survivors that has shed purifying light on this dark chapter in church
history," he said in a statement.
can be no doubt about the constant need to strengthen our culture of healing,
protection, and accountability. While the vast majority of abuses took place
decades ago, many victim-survivors continue to live with this unimaginable
pain," he continued.
investigation represents a new blow to the Church as it struggles to respond to
worldwide allegations of clergy child sexual abuse over several decades.
August, a Pennsylvania grand jury report claimed that more than 300 priests
abused at least 1,000 children over seven decades in that state.
October, US federal authorities launched an investigation into clergy abuse.
has slammed the "illegal" presence of US troops in Syria as "a
dangerous obstacle" to finding a peace settlement.
being a factor in the fight against terrorism, the illegal American presence in
Syria is becoming a dangerous obstacle to the path to a settlement,"
Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a news briefing
has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian
government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are
aiding Takfiri terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the country.
US has long been accused of providing safe passage and logistical support to
the Takfiri terrorists, who have been fighting to topple the Damascus
government since early 2011.
American military forces maintain a significant presence in Syria’s north,
where they openly support the anti-Damascus Kurdish militants.
US and its allies have also been running an illegal bombing campaign against
what is claimed to be Daesh positions. Those raids have done little to uproot
terrorism and, instead, hampered Syrian army advances against Takfiri militants
on numerous occasions.
official moots federal fund for non-Muslim prayer houses
TOWN, Dec 20 ― Putrajaya should create a fund for Non Islamic Places of Worship
(RIBI) modelled after Penang’s system, state executive councillor Jagdeep Singh
local government, housing development and town and country planning committee
chairman said Penang has a RIBI fund to help eligible non-Islamic places
worship in the state.
are the first in the country to set up this fund so the federal government can
follow Penang’s funding model for RIBI to set up a similar fund for RIBIs in
the whole country,” he said in a press conference after presenting an
allocation of RM32,742.80 to St Paul’s Church here.
RIBI fund was started in 2016 by accumulating contributions from developers
that are required to pay a sum in lieu of building such prayer houses in their
said the federal government could set up a similar fund to help all RIBIs in
can share with the federal government on how to set up such a fund and allocate
it to eligible places of worship,” he said.
2016, a total RM4.9 million was allocated to 136 RIBIs in the state.
said the fund is allocated to RIBIs that need assistance for restoration and
after disbursing RM4.9 million, we still have a balance of RM3.8 million so
RIBIs in the state can still apply for funding,” he said.
2016 and 2018, the RM4.8 million was paid out to 110 temples, 20 churches and
Jagdeep presented the allocation for St Paul’s Church that was damaged due to
the November 5 floods in 2017.
Selangor: Malaysia's Education Minister Maszlee Malik said on Tuesday (Dec 18)
that his ministry was committed to seeing Malaysians master a third or even
fourth language, including Arabic.
education ministry is collaborating with various parties at both local and
international levels to strengthen efforts towards getting students to learn a
foreign language, he told Bernama after delivering his speech at an event for
World Arab Language Day 2018 in Selangor.
2011, the Malaysian education ministry had undertaken a comprehensive review of
the country's education system as part of its plans to develop a new education
plan for the country," said the minister.
this, the ministry had underlined 11 main measures to transform the country's
education system, with one of them being the enhancement of language skills
among students including Malay, English and Arab and encouraging them to learn
other foreign languages as well."
Arab Language Day is celebrated on Dec 18 annually to mark the selection of
Arabic by the United Nations as one of the official languages of the
Abdul Razif Zaini, Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
director for Malaysia, said there were also non-Muslim participants for the
event's Arabic calligraphy competition, reflecting how advanced technology was
in attracting the interest and creativity of students to learn the Arabic
LUMPUR, Dec 20 ― Investigators did not threaten witnesses as part of the probe
into alleged abuses at Lembaga Tabung Haji, said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption
Commission that also insisted its investigations were fully impartial.
commission stressed that its actions were consistently driven by the “rule of
law” and not subject to interference by any third party.
arrests and detentions made by the MACC are meant to assist investigations and
based on firm evidence,” it said in a statement.
MACC also adheres to standard operating procedures as well as existing laws and
regulations when conducting transparent, independent and impartial
investigations against any individual or organisation, in the interest of
clearing the country’s name of the taint of corruption and abuse.”
MACC said those demanding information about ongoing investigations or persons
of interest must understand that doing so could pose a risk to the success of
added that disclosures about inquiries will be made only when the complete
investigation papers are submitted to prosecutors.
November 30, LTH lodged reports against former and current senior managers,
alleging abuse of funds.
others, LTH alleged that over RM22 million from one of its charity foundations
“had been disbursed for activities with political inclinations”.
noted that the trustees of the foundation at the time were former chairman
Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, former CEOs Tan Sri Ismee Ismail and Datuk
Seri Johan Abdullah, current chief operating officer Datuk Adi Azuan, and chief
financial officer Datuk Rozaida Omar.
Azuan was remanded for four days yesterday.
lawyer Mohd Khairul Azam, who is acting for one of the officials, implicated
alluded to “hidden hands” directing the MACC investigation.
further alleged that witnesses were being coerced into providing statement
against his client.
LUMPUR, Dec 19 ― Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad admitted today that he
has yet to decide on the fate of minister P. Waytha Moorthy, following pressure
from various quarters for the latter to be sacked, with a protest planned this
people can express their opinion. It is up to me to decide. I haven’t decided,”
he told reporters after the Dr Mahathir Mohamad Leadership Series event here.
okay. I feel okay,” he added, when asked if he is happy with the performance of
the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Unity and Social
earlier today, the Youth wing of Dr Mahathir’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia
(PPBM) has reportedly delivered a memorandum asking for Waytha’s removal.
is currently under pressure even from within Pakatan Harapan (PH) to quit, over
his poor handling of the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Devasthanam Temple riot
Mahathir last month defended Waytha and his performance, after a video of his
remarks published almost a decade ago surfaced again.
Youth’s memorandum comes ahead of another memorandum to be delivered by
Malay-Muslim groups on Friday.
groups plan to march after Friday prayers towards the Prime Minister’s Office.
has responded to Indonesia’s question about alleged human rights abuse against
Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, saying that Beijing guaranteed the religious
freedom of all of its citizens, including the Uighurs.
Chinese Embassy spokesman in Jakarta said in a statement on Thursday that
“China is a country with multiple ethnic groups and religions.
prescribed in the Constitution, all Chinese citizens enjoy the freedom of
religious belief,” the statement said.
statement said that the Chinese government was facing the threat of religious
extremism in Xinjiang, which is home to about 14 million Muslims. Some Xinjiang
residents, it said, had struggled to find jobs because of their poor command of
the nation’s official language and lack of skills.
has made them vulnerable to the instigation and coercion of terrorism and extremism,”
light of the situation, Xinjiang has established professional vocational
training institutions as the platform, providing courses on China’s common
language, legal knowledge, vocational skills, along with de-radicalization
education for citizens influenced by extremist ideas.”
the Foreign Ministry said it had summoned Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia Xiao
Qian on Monday to convey the concerns of Indonesian Muslims about the plight of
Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.
Foreign Ministry stressed that in accordance with the universal declaration of
human rights, religious freedom and belief are human rights and it is the
responsibility of all countries to respect it,” ministry spokesperson
Arrmanatha Nasir told reporters on the
sidelines of the Diplofest event on Wednesday evening.
said Xiao Qian conveyed China’s commitment to the protection of human rights.
In addition, the ambassador said it was very important for the Indonesian
public to know the condition of the Uighurs in Xinjiang, an autonomous region.
though it is a domestic issue, the Foreign Ministry noted the embassy’s
intention to expand communication with various civil society groups in order to
convey information about the condition of the Uighur community.”
summons of the Chinese ambassador came shortly after Indonesian Islamic groups
demanded an explanation on the situation in Xinjiang.
countries have accused China of persecuting Uighurs through its “re-education
centers”, which Beijing insisted were actually vocational and training centers
that combat religious extremism.
situation in Xinjiang was highlighted during China’s third United Nations Human
Rights Council’s universal periodic review last month.
Rights Watch says Uighur people in particular are subject to intense
surveillance and are made to give DNA and biometric samples.
chairman Haedar Nashir said if the reports were true, then China had violated
universal human rights and his organization was ready to mobilize humanitarian
and material support for peace in Xinjiang, especially for the Uighur
Chinese government’s inaction is feared to hurt diplomatic relations between
Indonesia and China, and the good relations our people have had for centuries,”
Haedar said as quoted by Antara on Wednesday.
media messages calling on Indonesians to take to the streets to defend Uighurs
have been circulating online in the last few days.
Monday, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) advisory council leader and former
chairman of Muhammadiyah, Din Syamsuddin, said the alleged crackdown was an
outright violation of basic human rights and demanded that the Indonesian
government take firm action to advocate for the Uighur people.
to the MUI’s call, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said Indonesia would not
interfere in China’s handling of Uighur Muslims.
course we reject or [want to] prevent any human rights violations. However, we
don’t want to intervene in the domestic affairs of another country,” Kalla told
journalists on Monday.
Chinese Embassy’s spokesman said that, “China and Indonesia have always
supported each other on issues concerning respective major interests.
constitution respects all religions equally. This is the first part of a
two-part of op-ed
is a multi-religious country where the Muslim population is officially
estimated at around 90.5%, Hindus 8.5%, followed by Buddhists at 0.6%,
Christians 0.3%, and others 0.1%. The constitution protects the equal status of
all religions, ensures equal rights of every citizen irrespective of their
religious identity, affirms secularism to ensure non-discrimination on the
basis of religion, and ensures freedom to practice any religion.
bitter experience under the disguise of religion during the partition of the
subcontinent, the regime of Pakistan, and finally in the Liberation War of
1971, encouraged constitution makers and the people of Bangladesh to stay firm
with principles of secularism and freedom of religion.
Abdur Rashid Tarkabagish on October 30, 1972 gave his observations on
secularism in the “Parishad Bitorko” and stated that under the name of Islam,
the barbaric Pakistani soldiers mercilessly killed Bengalis on March 25, 1971.
narrated that the Pakistani army propagated that they did all the atrocities to
save Islam from the hands of Hindus and the Pakistani rulers misused Islam to
fulfill their agenda.
argued that no one can disregard the 1972 Constitution since it reflects the
view of 90% of the population. Under the constitution, the way Muslims have the
right to practice religion, Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians shall have the
right to practice their own religion, and other rights related to it shall not
the assembly debate, then Law Minister Kamal Hossain said that the constitution
aims at abolishing all types of religious communalism, and he assured that
there will be no religion-based political parties in Bangladesh.
the brutal killing of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,
to gain political and constitutional legitimacy, the military rulers amended
the 1972 constitution -- including redefining the state principles, eliminating
secularism, identifying the citizens as Bangladeshi as opposed to Bengali.
establish military-theocratic hegemony, the rulers motivated the citizens that
their root is based on religious identity, as opposed to Bengali identity,
which represents Bengali culture as the principal social marker.
38, of the first constitution, which prohibited the formation of religion-based
political parties, was deleted and, consequently, political parties like
Jamat-e-Islami Bangladesh revived in the polity.
2005, the High Court of Bangladesh declared the 5th amendment of the
constitution and the martial law regulations issued between 1975-1979 illegal.
in 2011, during the regime of Awami League government, secularism and related
principles were reintroduced through the 15th amendment of the constitution.
many countries in the West, secularism means separation of religion from the
state, however, secularism in the context of Bangladesh implies that all
religions are to be treated equally.
constitution recognizes all religions equally, does not designate minority
status to any religious community (religious minorities are minorities on the
basis of a number and not by religious status) while granting equality and
freedom of religion to all citizens.
(religious neutrality) in Bangladesh does not mean the banishment of religion
from public life, rather an equal opportunity for all religions for state
patronage and participation in public affairs.
2A of the constitution declares Islam as the state religion, though it adds
that the state shall ensure equal respect and equal rights in the practice of
Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, and other religions.
means states shall ensure equal respect and rights in the practice of religions
like Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and other religions.
ceremonial reference of Islam as the state religion is a mere constitutional
courtesy and recognition of the majority religion.
state does not practice religious hierarchy and Bangladesh is historically a
society that does not place emphasis on distinctions, as evidenced by the caste
system that dictates nearly every aspect of life for a Hindu in India.
push for withdrawal of foreign troops in two-day talks
KABUL: Putting an end to speculations surrounding the content of discussions
that took place between representatives of the US and the Afghan Taliban during
the two-day talks in the UAE, the militant group said on Wednesday that the
“focal point of the discussion” was the “withdrawal of foreign troops".
statement further rejected reports that a ceasefire, formation of an interim
government, and parliamentary elections in Afghanistan were discussed between
the two parties.
Khalilzad, the US' special envoy for Afghan reconciliation, led the delegation
for the talks which began on Monday in the presence of officials from Pakistan,
Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.
the meetings, he had tweeted that the two-day talks, to promote intra-Afghan
dialogue in order to end the conflict in Afghanistan, had been productive.
flew into Pakistan where he met the army's top commander, General Qamar Javed
Bajwa in Rawalpindi, with the military spokesman's saying that matters of
regional security and the Afghan peace process were discussed.
dignitary appreciated Pakistan's efforts for the Afghan peace process. The COAS
(Chief of the Army Staff) reiterated that peace in Afghanistan is important for
Pakistan and assured cont efforts for bringing peace and stability in the
region,” the spokesman tweeted.
added that both sides discussed measures to create underlying conditions for
peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan after 40 years of conflict.
in the day, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said no talks had taken place
with the Kabul administration and that other issues would not be discussed
because the “root cause of all problems and the biggest obstacle to peace is
the occupation of Afghanistan and bringing it to an end".
added that any future negotiations would take placd after deliberations and
consultations with the respective leadership from both sides.
said that the Taliban representatives presented “documented information and
proof to the participants about indiscriminate bombings against civilians and
demanded its immediate halt. Talks were also held about humane treatment of
prisoners and their freedom, a matter that shall be taken into
Taliban official, privy to the discussions that took place in the UAE, said
that the US had called for the release of two professors from the American
University of Kabul, who were kidnapped in 2016 and were in the Taliban's
added that US officials reiterated their longstanding concerns about the
imminent threats to Washington from Afghanistan and that the Taliban assured
them that their “activities are only limited to Afghanistan".
official, who did not want to be identified, told Arab News that the Taliban's
chief, Maulvi Habitullah, had authorized senior officials -- including former
ministers Amir Khan Mutaqi, Mullah Abbas, and other senior leaders Siddiqullah,
Hafiz Yahya Haqqani, Saadullah Hamas and Dr Faqeer -- to participate in the
far as the results of these negotiations are concerned and how effective they
shall prove in finding a peaceful solution to the continuing problems will be
answered in the upcoming weeks and months,” the Taliban posted on their
official website on Tuesday.
Kabul, Omer Daudzai, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s newly-appointed envoy told
a gathering on Wednesday that "work on the peace deal will begin in the
near future". He gave no further details.
to the sensitive nature of the talks, no formal details of the meeting have
been made available to the public yet. However, Reuters quoted a Taliban source
on Tuesday when it reported that the Taliban had discussed conditions for a
truce, swapping of prisoners, and the formation of an interim government with
the US officials.
reports, however, were rejected by Mujahid. “Reuters News Agency has been
publishing false reports since yesterday about the meeting taking place between
representatives of the Islamic Emirate and the United States in the United Arab
Emirates,” he said.
in Abu Dhabi are taking place with the United States about ending the
occupation and American intervention. Nothing about an interim government,
ceasefire, elections nor any other internal issue is being discussed, rather
the main topic is the American occupation,” he added.
US embassy in Kabul said Khalilzad arrived in Kabul on Wednesday to update
President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah on his
engagements with regional partners and other interested parties to reach a
negotiated settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan.
tour through the ‘floating island’ that 100,000 Rohingya refugees may have to
off the coast of Bangladesh, deep within the Bay of Bengal, is a low-lying,
flood-prone island that the Bangladeshi government hopes to be the new home for
the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who fled violence in neighboring
called Bhasan Char, which translates to “floating island.” Few have been
allowed to see the island up close but “Nightline” traveled there with
construction workers who are building structures that will eventually hold up
to 100,000 Rohingya.
Char is more than two hours away from the nearest inhabited island and 24 miles
from the Bangladesh mainland. Bangladesh’s decision to move the Rohingya there
has become controversial due to its remote location, potential isolation and
concerns of extreme flooding from monsoons.
traveling with construction workers, “Nightline” was able to visit some of the
structures that are being built on the island. There was row after row of
red-roofed buildings containing sleeping quarters with bunk beds, where the
workers said it would be four Rohingya to a room. A watchtower overlooked the
complex, which is surrounded by a man-made canal.
many of the Rohingya refugees told Woodruff that, having already fled one
place, they do not want to be moved again, especially to the place that some
activists are calling a “prison island.”
Rohingya are an ethnic Muslim minority who have been forced to flee from their
homes in Myanmar, also known as Burma, to escape horrific violence against them
there. The United Nations has since called their persecution “textbook ethnic
cleansing” by the mostly Buddhist Myanmar army.
estimated that nearly 10,000 Rohingya have been killed, according to a recent
UN-backed report. The report details gang rapes, the torching of hundreds of
villages and enslavement of Rohingya communities at the hands of Myanmar’s
military. UN investigators have called it genocide.
October, Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a deal to start repatriating some of the
over 723,000 Rohingya refugees, but the UN, the United States, and 42
humanitarian and civil society groups raised concerns that the deal would
repatriate Rohingya refugees, possibly without their consent, and send them
back to dangerous conditions.
of August, there are approximately 919,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
Most currently reside in camps along the country’s southern border, according
to Doctors Without Borders.
with refugees outnumbering the local Bangladeshi population, the Bangladeshi
government has been looking for a solution and began working on turning Bhasan
Char into a home for them.
many of the Rohingya “Nightline” spoke with now living in Bangladesh, already
victimized once, say they do not want to be moved to that island.
came to Bangladesh to save my life. I didn’t come here to eat or stay. We want
the international community to punish the Burmese and send us back,” said Klas
Ahmad, a refugee living in one of the camps. “If we get sent to the island, the
Myanmar government might bomb the island and we won’t have graves. At least if
I die here I will get a grave.”
want to go back to my country,” said another refugee. “I don’t want to be in
this country and I certainly don’t want to go to that island.”
some of the construction workers working at Bhasan Char suggested that it the
living conditions on the island are better than the harsh conditions of the
like us who don’t have proper houses, of course we would want a place like
this,” said one worker, who lives on a neighboring island.
haven’t got anything,” said another worker. “The island we come from keeps
government has defended its plan to relocate the refugees.
island is something else,” Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Abdul Hassan Mahmud
told ABC’s Bob Woodruff in an exclusive interview. “If it takes longer, then we
have to do something because the camps are quite difficult to run also.”
plan has since been widely denounced, so, for now, the Bangladeshi government
has postponed the move.
has documented the plight of the Rohingya for the past three years. Last year,
Woodruff traveled to Bangladesh as hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled
across the border in Myanmar. But as the camps became overpopulated, security
inside has become an increasing concern.
of the refugees, Kalim Ullah, is among a group of volunteers who patrols the
camps for protection and said one day he and his neighbors awoke to find their
camp on fire.
fire started at 2:30 in the morning,” said Kalim. “Around 30 families lived in
this part and it took 20 to 30 minutes for it to all be burnt down to the
ground. We had to run and could not take any of our possessions.”
are often among the most vulnerable. Dr. Sadia Afroze, who works at a barebones
women’s health clinic inside one of the refugee camps, told “Nightline” that
she has had to perform an increasing number of abortions – many of them for
may survive but their lifestyles are not that much good with a pregnancy or a
child — so in that case, we save a life by giving the services,” Afroze.
says her clinic has also delivered hundreds of babies. The World Health
Organization expects 60,000 children to be born in the camps this year alone.
the dangers in the camps, some refugees said they would rather choose death
than face the prospect of being repatriated to Myanmar.
195 BNP-Jamaat men held across country
of law enforcement agencies arrested more than 195 BNP and Jamaat men in
different areas of the country as of 10pm on Wednesday, ahead of the 11th
Satkhira, police arrested more than 100 people including 45 BNP leaders and
activists from different upazilas in the morning.
police team led by Assistant Superintendent Jamirul Islam along with the
officers-in-charge of the Kaliganj and Debhata police stations conducted the
drive and arrested 45 BNP leaders and activists while they were conducting a
sabotage meeting in the office of BNP candidate for Satkhira 3 constituency Dr
the other hand, in a special drive, police arrested 55 people in different
cases including sabotage.
Sirajganj, eight Jamaat men were arrested for attack on the police on Tuesday
in the Bonnakandi village under the Ullapara upazila in the district.
police station OC Golam Mostofa said on a tip-off, police conducted a drive in
the area while the Jamaat men were holding a secret meeting for sabotage.
the presence of law enforcement officials, Jamaat men hurled cocktails on them.
they attacked the police, member of law enforcers managed to arrest them, the
should be mentioned, that the police misbehaved with a woman while she was
taking pictures of the clash.
a police constable was withdrawn in connection with the incident.
Barisal, police arrested 27 people from different areas of the Barisal city and
Sadar upazila under the Barisal 5 constituency of the district.
sources said Mantu Khan, the district unit BNP office secretary and Afroza
Khanam Nasrin, JCD central assistant organizing secretary and 8 leaders and
workers of BNP and its front organizations were arrested.
them, at least 27 activists of Jatiya Oikya Front were arrested in the
constituency from different areas of the district, claimed Bilkis Jahan Shirin,
central organizing secretary of BNP.
Lalmonirhat, police arrested two Jamaat men and a Jubo Dal leader from the
Tushar Bhander area of the Kaliganj upazila.
police station Officer-in-Charge Mokbul Hossain said they were wanted in
Meherpur, police arrested 25 BNP-Jamaat men in the Harbhanga village under the
Gangni upazila while they were holding a secret meeting, confirmed Sadar police
station Officer-in-Charge Robiul Islam.
Sunamganj, three Jamaat men were arrested in the Birgaon village under the
Sunamganj South upazila, in connection with vandalism.
Moulvibazar, members of law enforcers arrested at least 22 BNP-Jamaat men from
different areas of the area in the evening.
Superintendent of Police Md Shahjalal said several cases were filed against
Feni, a Chhatra Dal activist identified as Md Sharif,was arrested under the
Digital Security Act in the Sonagazi upazila of the district.
Model police station Moazzem Hossain confirmed the arrest.
Bazar, Bangladesh - At first when they came, Dilfaraz, a stout 41-year-old
Bangladeshi woman, could not find it in her heart to turn them away. She gave
the Rohingyas utensils, mattresses, water, whatever they needed to survive.
are not [Buddhists] and we are not Hindu, we are Muslim and as Muslims we
should help other Muslims," said the mother of five, who has lived in
Kutupalong village since 1999.
with neighbouring Balukhali in Cox's Bazar district, it now hosts the largest
refugee camp in the world.
the goodwill towards refugees has soured over the last year.
Dilfaraz, Bangladesh is struggling to accommodate over 1 million Rohingya.
exodus began in August last year as the predominantly Muslim minority fled an
army-backed massacre in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.
Rohingya are terrified of returning to Myanmar, which has persecuted them for
decades, so it remains unclear for how long Cox's Bazar will play host to their
while the humanitarian crises at the camp have been documented, a different
kind of disaster is brewing.
hilly tracts of Cox's Bazar could foster an environmental crisis brought on by
indiscriminate deforestation and vanishing groundwater reservoirs.
the long run, this would make the region more prone to the effects of climate
greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, by 2050, Cox's Bazar will be the
worst-hit district in South Asia as average temperatures rise and rainfall
patterns become disruptive, a June 2018 World Bank report found. Living
standards, measured in household expenditure, could fall by 20 percent by mid-century.
Bazar, a strip of land wedged between Myanmar to the east and the Bay of Bengal
to the west, has sheltered Rohingya refugees over the decades during ethnic
clashes in Myanmar.
stayed while others returned as tensions subsided.
this time it is different; entire villages have migrated en masse with little
to return to.
25, who works for Dilfaraz's brother, and says she is grateful to have support
in the form of comfortable shelter.
am not being paid, but they helped us out in our time of need," Nur said.
family of eight hails from Buthidaung in Myanmar's Rakhine state.
we came, it (Cox's Bazar) looked like a jungle, people just choose their own
place to build a shelter, and the whole jungle was destroyed," Nur
settlement is now spread across 5,800 acres, and much of it cleared forest
95 percent of the refugees collect fuelwood directly from the forests or buy it
in the market. A tiny fraction use LPG cylinders (liquefied petroleum gas)
provided by NGOs.
loss of forests and land degradation is dangerous for the precariously placed
Bangladesh these are not rocky hills, they are soft soil hills. The stability
comes from the roots of the trees, if you cut the trees you have destabilised
the terrain and there is a risk of hill collapse," A Atiq Rahman,
executive director, Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS), said.
monsoons make the area prone to landslides and there is always the lurking
threat of cyclones. Disappearing forests are also a sore spot for locals who
have watched a vital resource become scarce.
the initial months, shallow tube wells that pump water from about 150 feet were
constructed quickly with little oversight. Many shallow tube wells could run
dry as demand peaks in summer.
the cramped camps, toilets pits were constructed close to water withdrawal
points. Water samples from over 70 percent of wells were contaminated by E.
coli, according to WHO.
tube wells are plumbing deeper into the poorly mapped aquifer.
in the camp, a new 650-feet deep hand pump has brought much-needed relief to
initial response in the face of political uncertainty is not translating well
into a long-term strategy.
are still working in emergency mode," said Saleemul Huq, director of
Bangladesh-based International Centre for Climate Change and Development,
highlighting the need for environmental monitoring. "The long-term impacts
are very uncertain."
World Bank report does not take into account the impacts of the current refugee
influx, but notes that deforestation has led to major landslides and harmed
property and water resources in the area.
access to electricity, water availability, market access and has a greater
share of agricultural households, it may, therefore, become more vulnerable to
the effects of temperature rise," said Muthukumara Mani, lead author of
the World Bank report.
report recommends investment in socio-economic development to overcome climate
Cox's Bazar will struggle to do that if the refugee situation remains
may increase due to depletion of assets, labour competition, and the impact of
the cyclone and monsoon seasons," a Joint Response Plan 2018 prepared by
UN agencies in conjunction with the Bangladeshi government, said, warning that
"the current situation risks slowing — and even reversing — efforts
towards socio-economic development of the district."
is brewing among locals as the camps become a fixture of the landscape.
believes that people living next to the camp have paid the heaviest price,
while businesses that support the vast machinery of aid have prospered.
Bangladeshi government has to find a solution," she said.
plan to repatriate the refugees formulated by the Bangladeshi and Myanmar
government, has failed to take off. International agencies have criticised the
two governments for ignoring the wishes of the Rohingyas.
of their homeland continue to haunt refugees. Mamtaj, 30, is the mother of two
boys and one girl, but only her seven-year-old daughter survived.
least four Taliban militants were killed and two others were wounded in a
premature explosion triggered by an Improvised Explosive Device in northern
Faryab province of Afghanistan.
209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North in a statement said the
incident has taken place in the vicinity of Sherin Tagab highway.
statement further added that the militants were busy planting an Improvised
Explosive Device when the incident took place.
Taliban militants and other militants including ISIS often use improvised
explosive device as the weapon of their choice to target the security forces
and government officials.
in majority of such attacks the ordinary civilians are killed while in some
cases the Taliban militants are themselves blown up in premature explosions.
elements must immediately end the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of
all improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in areas frequented by civilians, said
UNAMA in a special human rights report released few weeks earlier.
U.S. officials have said the military presence in Afghanistan remains
conditions-based as the Taliban group claims that the ongoing negotiations
regarding Afghan peace process in UAE is focused on U.S. forces withdrawal from
Palladino, deputy spokesperson of the State Department said “The United States
military presence in Afghanistan remains conditions-based, and that’s the
cornerstone of the administration’s strategy.”
special representative continues to work with all interested parties in close
coordination with the Afghan people and the Afghan Government to facilitate intra-Afghan
dialogue and negotiations,” he added.
comes as negotiations between the United States and Taliban are underway in Abu
Dhabi in the presence of Saudi, Pakistani, and UAE officials.
militants group has said the ongoing talks in United Arab Emirates are focused
on withdrawal of the U.S. forces from Afghanistan.
spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said no discussion has taken place regarding an
interim government, ceasefire, and elections.
per latest reports, the bloody reign of the Caliphate, more than 10,000
citizens from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and the Uyghurs
from China’s northwest fought on the side of ISIS.
of them made a Hijrah (migration of Muslims for jihad) to Iraq and Syria to
protect the values of true Islam and brought their families with small children
there. Subsequently, some of these children entered the battalion ‘Curb of the
Caliphate’ and became protagonists in the Islamic State’s propaganda.”
to a report by the International Crisis Group, both Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks
are often drawn to stringent versions of Islam and even consider Syria for
personal and social reasons. “While Kyrgyz nationalists claim ethnic Uzbeks
turn to extremist Islam for political reasons and revenge for 2010 when more
than 400 mostly Uzbeks were killed in ethnic violence, there is growing
evidence that both Kyrgyz and Uzbeks are finding recourse in more radical forms
people from both groups are drawn to non-violent Islamist groups such as the
Hizb ut-Tahrir but some are also attracted to more violent ideologies and
statistical research reveals that in 2013-2018, more than 55 videos, audio and
text materials were released by the Islamic State’s media wings with the
participation of Central Asia’s children in Arabic, Uygur, Uzbek, Russian,
Kyrgyz and Tajik.
after the fall of the Caliphate, propaganda videos almost ceased. “With the
diminishing possibilities of the Islamic State’s media resources, the
propaganda and ideological activity of the Al Qaeda-linked Central Asian
Salafi-jihadi groups have recently increased in contrast.”
Uzbek militants of Katibat al-Tawhid wal jihad (KTJ) and Katibat Imam
al-Bukhari (KIB), as well as Uyghur jihadists of the Turkestan Islamic Party
(TIP) from the Chinese province of Xinjiang are affiliated with Al Qaeda.
Botobekov says these groups regularly publish propaganda videos of children
from Syria’s Idlib province.
2013, Al Qaeda has posted about 30 videos – audio and text materials in which
Central Asian’s children made up the main plot.” Botobekov said the most common
characteristic of Al Qaeda and ISIS’s curriculum in madrasas is learning the
Quran by heart, Tawhid (monotheism), Fiqh (jurisprudence), Salat (prayers),
Aqidah (creed), Hadith and Sura (life of the Prophet Muhammad).
the second most common characteristic is the call to jihad. “The doctrine of
jihad is the main place in the ideology of both Sunni terrorist groups, and
accordingly, in the madrasas and training camps, children are brainwashed from
early childhood with ideas of holy jihad.”
the Uzbek and Uyghur imams who are Al Qaeda sympathizers tell children about
the enemies of Islam which they ranked on par with the Kafir regimes of the
USA, Russia and China, also the Kharijites (those who defected from the Ummah
and rebelled against the Caliph) of the Islamic State and its leader Abu Bakr
are suspected to have carried out the murder of two young Scandinavian women
trekking in southern Morocco, one of whom was beheaded, a source close to the
probe said Wednesday.
Islam is not ruled out due to the profile of the suspect arrested and of the
three men wanted” after the women’s bodies were found Monday in the High Atlas
Mountains, the source said, asking not to be named.
source told AFP that one of the women — 24-year-old Louisa Vesterager Jespersen
from Denmark and 28-year-old Maren Ueland from Norway — had been beheaded.
spokesman Boubker Sabik also said terrorism was suspected and that the three
suspects on the run had been “identified and a search for them is under way by
all the security services”.
of the three had “a court record linked to terrorist acts”, he said, while the
prosecutor general’s office said the man in custody belonged to an extremist
prosecutor general’s office, in a statement, said it was determining the
authenticity of a video on social media allegedly showing the murder of one of
interior ministry said initially that the Danish and Norwegian hikers were
found with cuts to their necks in an isolated mountainous area 10 kilometres
from the tourist village of Imlil.
arrest was made in Marrakesh, about 60 kilometres north of Imlil, the ministry
Danish victim, Jespersen, “had her throat cut,” her mother Helle Petersen was
quoted by the Danish newspaper B.T. as saying.
family had warned her against going to Morocco “because of the chaotic
situation,” she added.
local guide who works in the area told AFP the body of one woman was found
inside a tent and the other outside of it.
guide, who declined to be identified, said the area where they were found was
also frequented by three men from Marrakesh, including the one who was
two women studied at a university in southern Norway and had planned to travel
together for a month, Ueland’s mother told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.
investigation is being conducted by Morocco’s central bureau of judicial
investigation in co-operation with the royal gendarmerie and authorities from
was stepped up in the region and hiking suspended following the discovery of
the bodies, Moroccan media said.
very bad for the region. There will undoubtedly be cancellations,” a local
guide, Hossein, told AFP from Imlil.
most recent jihadist attack hit Morocco in 2011, when 17 people were killed in
Marrakesh. An attack in the financial capital Casablanca left 33 dead in 2003.
is a cornerstone of Morocco’s economy and the kingdom’s second-largest
employer, after agriculture.
sector accounts for 10 per cent of national income and is one of the country’s
main sources of foreign currency.
UK government’s newly-released statistics for its signature anti-terror scheme,
known as Prevent, shows how the policy continues to increasingly target and
focus security on children, according to an advocacy group.
CAGE showed in a report published on its website on Tuesday that thousands of
children and teenagers were being flagged up over terror concerns in the UK.
Report by the group showed that some 2,009 under-15s, including 297 girls, had
been referred to the Prevent program in the year to March.
controversial scheme is essentially a system which aims to identify vulnerable
people and intervene in their lives before something bad happens.
police and ministers say Prevent forms a crucial plank of anti-terror efforts,
the scheme has repeatedly come under fire, with critics labeling it
heavy-handed and “toxic”.
CAGE report showed that the number of people from the youngest age group
referred to the Prevent increased by a fifth from the previous period ending in
March 2017, while it added that more than half of those reported for possible
de-radicalization interventions in 2017/18 were aged 20 or under.
some 95 percent of all referrals to Prevent did not result in any action by the
Channel program that provides support to people who might be vulnerable to
radicalization, meaning the vast majority of Prevent referrals were false
issue with the scheme is its alleged over-representation of threats emanating
from the Muslims in the UK. Muslims make up only 5 percent of the population
yet concerns related to the community as part of the Prevent make up 44 percent
of all referrals. That is seen by some as reflecting a gross
over-representation indicative of the inherent bias and deliberate targeting of
Muslim communities by Prevent.
the UK, we have a panoply of offences that operate in the pre-criminal space.
The idea that future ‘terrorists’ have been somehow dissuaded through Prevent,
particularly when the numbers do not correlate to actual violent offenders, is
ridiculous at best,” said Asim Qureshi, Research Director for CAGE.
is always missing from these discussions is the long-term impact of false
referrals. With a large portion stemming from the education sector, the
fundamental relationship between student and teacher is changed forever – the
student will forever feel a suspect.
could speak of one false referral being one too many, but the reality is that
we are already speaking about this in the thousands, where a 95% inaccuracy
rate is harming the future of our children,” Qureshi added.
of Prevent include David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism
legislation, and the Commons home affairs select committee, which called for
the “toxic brand” of Prevent to be abandoned in favor of a more inclusive
“Engage” title, and for much clearer guidelines and training on how it is
implemented in schools and universities.
is a strong feeling in Muslim communities that I visit that Prevent is if not a
spying program then at least a program that is targeted on them,” Anderson
Muslim Council of Britain has also announced that it will set up its own
program next year aiming to tackle the issue of support for terrorist groups
like Daesh within Muslim communities in the country.
including Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary from the opposition Labour
Party, and teaching and student unions, have called for a reform or even
abandonment of the Prevent.
whole scheme is simply unworkable,” Abbott said this week, adding, “Even with
widespread cooperation the number of children under 10 who have been referred
to the police under the Prevent strategy is over 400 in the last four years.
main charity group in the United Kingdom has called on the British government
to stop fueling a conflict in Yemen by imposing a total ban on sales of weapons
to Saudi Arabia.
Christian Aid said in a report published on Wednesday that there was a need for
an immediate review of UK sales of arms to states that are actively infringing
international law and human rights by pursuing murderous campaigns against
their own citizens or their close neighbors.
British government is selling billions of pounds worth of weapons to Saudi
Arabia, fueling the kingdom’s three-year-old war on Yemen which has left 22
million people struggling to survive.
of civilians have been killed, while thousands more have been injured.
Collapsed infrastructure coupled with a partial blockade has also deprived most
of the population of clean water and proper healthcare, while unleashing the
worst cholera outbreak in modern history.
all this, Western countries, led by the US and the UK, have supplied the
Saudi-led coalition with huge amounts of advanced military equipment,
facilitating a military campaign characterized by repeated violations of
international humanitarian law, including possible war crimes.
Christian Aid urged the UK government to take the lead in promoting peace and
the rule of law in contexts like Yemen – to follow through the logic of its aid
spending by recognizing armed conflict as the source of so many development
three quarters of British citizens would support an end to arms sales to
countries engaged in indiscriminate slaughter, meaning that three out of five
are against selling arms to Saudi Arabia so long as it continues its activities
in Yemen, according to the report.
estimated 85,000 children under the age of five have starved to death over the
last three years as a result of Saudi war on Yemen, a report from Save the
Children has found.
figure is a conservative estimate based on UN data on severe acute
malnutrition, which the international body says has afflicted more than 1.3
million children since the conflict between ruling Houthi Ansarullah movement
and the Saudi-led coalition that seeks to restore Yemen’s exiled government,
began in March 2015.
14 million people – half of Yemen’s population – are currently at risk of
famine, largely because of Saudi border blockades designed to weaken the
Houthis, which have also strangled civilian access to food, fuel, aid and
the UK, public opinion and all opposition parties support an end to arming
Saudi Arabia. Much of the outcry over Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s
visit in March to London focused on the issue.
at the government’s unwillingness to halt its vast arms sales to Saudi Arabia,
campaigners have taken the UK to court, arguing that the government breached
its own – and international – laws.
Wednesday report by the Christian Aid, which mainly dealt with the UK
government’s double standards in foreign policy, also highlighted the
contradiction between London's words and actions regarding peace-building and
the volume of arms-related exports that continue to be taken for granted and
— Greece violated a prohibition on
discrimination by applying Islamic religious law to an inheritance dispute
among members of the country’s Muslim minority, the European Court of Human
Rights ruled Wednesday.
court, based in the eastern French city of Strasbourg, ruled Greece violated
the European Convention on Human Rights by applying Sharia law in the case,
under which a Muslim Greek man’s will bequeathing all he owned to his wife was
deemed invalid after it was challenged by his sisters.
man’s widow, Chatitze Molla Sali, appealed to the European court in 2014,
having lost three quarters of her inheritance. She argued she had been
discriminated against on religious grounds as, had her husband not been Muslim,
she would have inherited his entire estate under Greek law.
European court agreed. It has not yet issued a decision on what, if any,
penalty it will apply to Greece.
was the only country in Europe which, up until the material time, had applied
Sharia law to a section of its citizens against their wishes,” the court said
in its ruling.
was particularly problematic in the present case because the application of
Sharia law had led to a situation that was detrimental to the individual rights
of a widow who had inherited her husband’s estate in accordance with the rules
of civil law but who had then found herself in a legal situation which neither
she nor her husband had intended.”
Sali’s husband had drawn up his will according to Greek law, and both a first
instance and an appeals court initially ruled in her favour in the dispute with
her sisters-in-law. But further court decisions ruled that inheritance issues
within the Muslim minority had to be dealt with under Islamic religious law,
and the will was deemed invalid.
concerning minorities in Greece was based on international treaties drawn up in
the 1920s following the wars that broke out in the aftermath of the Ottoman
empire’s collapse. Civil cases involving the 100,000-strong Muslim minority in
northeastern Greece were dealt with under Islamic law and presided over by a
single official, a state-appointed Muslim cleric, or mufti.
in January this year, the Greek parliament voted to limit the powers of Islamic
courts. The new law, which was backed by the country’s largest political
parties, eliminated rules referring many civil cases involving members of the
Muslim community to Sharia law. It had been brought to parliament following
European Court of Human Rights said that while it “noted with satisfaction” the
change in legislation, the new law “had no impact on the situation of the
applicant” as the final rulings in her case had been made under the old system.
penetrating sub-Saharan Africa at an alarming rate: Researchers
– Despite recent defeats at the hands African armed forces, jihadist groups are
penetrating sub-Saharan Africa at an alarming rate, threatening states
ill-prepared to deal with a complex social and security challenge, say Western
and African officials and researchers.
Islamic radical groups, which include Isis, Al Qaeda affiliates and home-grown
movements such as Boko Haram, threaten the rising continent, posing unique
challenges for policymakers and officials of shaky governments struggling with
limited resources. “The extremists are inside the community,” Bineta Diop, an
official of the African Union, told The Independent along the side-lines of The
Atlantic Dialogues, a conference in Marrakech last week organised by the Policy
Centre for the New South, a Moroccan think tank.
provide public services where the state has failed,” she said. “They bring
water, sanitation, education. They provide opportunities to young people they
don’t otherwise have. There is a need to address the basic elements of human
security and not leave it to extremists.”
troops backed by the Western intelligence and security forces have beaten back
Somalia’s Al Shabaab movement and have made strides against Boko Haram in
Nigeria as well as militant groups in Mali.
in some ways, the militant groups have expanded their presence. Networks of
Islamist militants now influence a vast area within Africa, drawing on contacts
and resources from the Middle East and Europe, with radical groups exploiting
ungoverned spaces throughout the continent.
same catalysts that are out there as far as lack of strong governments, lack of
government services, lack of opportunities, where folks can come in and
radicalise,” US Major General Christopher Craige, a commander of
Stuttgart-based Africom, told a group of journalists at a briefing along the
side-lines of the conference.
Africa, and the Middle East now so connected. Not just because of modern media
devices, but because of travel.”
show that terrorist incidents in the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe fell
last year, while sub-Saharan Africa held steady, suggesting a shift in
resources towards the continent by militant groups.
is going south,” said Rida Lyammouri, a researcher at the Policy Centre for the
New South, describing militant groups’ expansion Mali and Burkina Faso. “It
continues to go south. It’s very alarming. The conflicts have spread.”
groups infiltrating sub-Saharan Africa often take a different approach to those
drawing recruits and supporters in European or Arab cities seeking glory or
increasingly find it useful to distinguish between radicalisation in urban
spaces such as in Europe, or along the Mediterranean coast of North Africa, and
rural spaces such as in Mali or rural Nigeria, where radical global aims become
fused with local grievances. Countering violent extremism in each venue also
requires different approaches.
militant groups in Mali and other places can easily find social empowerment by
connecting to tribes or ethnic groups, and make common interest with the
community” said Mostafa Rezrazi, president of the Moroccan
who spent a number of months in 2013 and 2014 conducting research among
radicalised villagers living along the Niger River in Mali, found that
militants often began infiltration by co-opting local leaders and offering help
with agriculture and other services.
more than just radicalisation or ideology,” he said, in a presentation to
former diplomats, researchers, and journalists.
of the youth joined did it for money, some joined for ideology. Some joined
because they had no other option,” said Lyammouri. “There was no state. The
groups were providing services that the state wasn’t providing.”
the villages began to shun the state instead of begging for services, renaming
their towns from local languages for Arabic equivalents, and choosing not to
interact with non-radicalised towns. Local leaders were dispatched to Ghana or
Ivory Coast to study conservative forms of Islam, and return to preach.
had a more conservative radical ideology and imposed some extremist ways of
life,” said Lyammouri. “Most of the communities were not educated – couldn’t
read or write – and were not able to challenge the preachers.”
and at what point such communities or individuals within them choose to cross
over into violence remains a question. One factor is the spread of violent
messages via the Internet. But perhaps more important are the mistakes made by
governments that prod Islamist groups into violent resistance against the
the French arrived in northern Mali to fight extremists in 2013, the Malian
army accompanying them committed atrocities that continue to haunt relations
between the state and the locals.
Islamist militant group Ansar al-Islam emerged in Burkina Faso after the armed
forces committed atrocities. Even Boko Haram in Nigeria turned to systematic
violence only after their supreme leader was summarily executed by security
forces following a messy 2009 confrontation.
more so than in Europe, Africa’s prisons are threatening to become incubators
of radicalism as ordinary prisoners sometimes caught up in dragnets by police
are warehoused in harsh conditions with hardened jihadists seeking out
governments also sometimes commit needless blunders that damage their own
anti-radicalisation aims. In an effort to stop the spread of Boko Haram, the
Nigerian government cut off the road to Chad Lake, destroying the livelihoods
of fishing communities, and making them susceptible to the group.
Faso at one point sought to ban public prayer by Muslims, while Chad passed a
law after a suicide bombing banning women from wearing face-covering Islamic
garb. “These kinds of moves create a lot of anger in toward governments,” said
Mr Lyammouri. “The militant groups have built a trust with the communities
that’s hard to break, that took a decade to build,” he said. “It’s going to
take more than a decade to break that, and have communities gain some trust in
the authorities.” – The Independent (UK)
popular Houthi Ansarullah movement has condemned Sudan for seeking to retain
and even increase its troops in a Saudi Arabian-led coalition that has invaded
the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country.
decision by Sudan’s administration to send more forces to Yemen indicates the
Khartoum government’s opposition to the establishment of peace and security in
Yemen,” Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the chairman of the Supreme Revolutionary
Committee of Yemen, said on Wednesday, Unews Agency reported on its website.
formed the committee in 2015 to run Yemen’s administrative affairs after the
former government resigned and its head, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, fled to Riyadh
as he faced increasing popular discontent.
Arabia led a number of countries, including Sudan, into a war on Yemen shortly
after Hadi’s flight to restore the former regime by force.
Yemeni official said Sudan wanted to send reinforcements to Yemen while “its
president, Omar al-Bashir, was being sought internationally on charges of
terrorism and committing some crimes and atrocities in his country, and the
Sudanese ruling establishment cannot defend him against the charges.”
Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Awad Mohammed bin Oaf had on Tuesday told a visiting
Saudi military delegation in Khartoum that his country intended to keep up its
cooperation with the Riyadh-led coalition and even enhance its contribution.
have died and Yemen has been pushed to the edge of an all-out famine as a
result of the war.
Thursday, the Houthis and the representatives of the former Yemeni government
agreed during UN-brokered talks in Sweden to a truce in Yemen’s western
province of Hudaydah.
announcement came on the same day as the ceasefire took force.
to convene meeting via video-conference
on Wednesday, the UN will convene the parties to Yemen’s conflict by video link
to discuss the redeployment of all forces from Hudaydah’s provincial capital of
the same name, and three other ports, under the deal.
will be the first meeting of a Redeployment Coordination Committee that
oversees the ceasefire and the withdrawal of forces, said UN spokesman Stephane
will include military/security representatives from the two sides,” he
have shot dead a former defence chief on a main road outside Nigeria's capital
Abuja, the air force said, in an attack that underscores worsening security in
the vast west African nation.
is with a heavy heart that I regretfully announce the unfortunate demise of
former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Sabundu Badeh", air
force spokesman Ibikunle Daramola said in a statement late on Tuesday.
61, died on Tuesday "from gunshot wounds sustained when his vehicle was
attacked while returning from his farm along Abuja-Keffi road".
air force did not say if any arrests had been or suggest motives behind the
who served as Nigeria's defence chief under former president Goodluck Jonathan,
retired in 2015.
has been on trial since his retirement over allegations of corruption while in
Africa's most populous country, is battling a myriad of security problems, from
Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast to farmer-herder conflict in the centre
and kidnappings for ransom ans armed robberies in the south.
Haram jihadists killed one soldier and injured another in an attack on a
military base in Nigeria's northeast Borno state, the latest attack in the
region, military sources said on Tuesday.
in four trucks fitted with anti-aircraft guns stormed the base in Mairari
village close to the garrison town of Monguno on Monday briefly seizing it,
said the sources who asked not to be identified.
source said "soldiers were dislodged from the base and some military
equipment damaged" in the attack.
soldier was killed, one wounded and others missing in action. Search ongoing to
recover the missing ones," he added.
base was recaptured after reinforcements arrived from Monguno, 10km away.
Monday, a Boko Haram faction loyal to long-time leader Abubakar Shekau released
pictures of an attack on a village near the Borno state capital Maiduguri,
according to SITE intelligence which monitors jihadist activities.
village was burned down, sending residents fleeing into the city.
military said Monday troops repelled the attack in which a soldier and four
insurgents were killed.
Haram jihadists have recently intensified attacks on military bases in the
northeast, killing scores of troops.
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